Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008 Pictures

I promised I would put up some pictures for Uncle M. and Almost-Aunt M. who decided to go gallivanting off to Korea for a year or so. They managed to miss Christmas by about 10 days. Of course, we had a full-fledged Christmas dinner for them before they left. I hear that Christmas in Korea is a lover's holiday rather than a commercial gift-grab/religious celebration ala North American standards.

Without further ado, here's some of our Christmas pictures: full flash, no photoshop, taken on the fly.
This is a pic of the kids' first 'Christmas Pageant' (Dec.19/08). Together with a couple of HSing friends they learned a French carol and played out the Nativity. K got to be Mary as she was the only person able to provide a doll to be used as baby Jesus. We have a very male dominated HSing community!

Here's a pic of K in snow past her knees on the 21st. We got quite the blanket of snow just in time for Christmas. Of course, in the last week it has rained and warmed so much that most of it is gone.
A lovely pic of the kids in front of the freshly decorated tree. They're so co-operative.

Here they are receiving a lesson from B. in how to properly hang candy canes on the tree. Apparently there is a particularly successful technique that should be utilized.
More to follow...maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Project Korknisse!! 2009

I thought I would put the word out now, while we're all full of great ideas and intentions for next Christmas. If you have any extra corks kicking around, or if you feel like saving some and putting them to good use, I'd be happy to arrange to take them off your hands.
I'm hoping to knit up a load of these cutie little Korknisse guys as ornaments and gift toppers for Christmass 2009.
I didn't make ornaments this year. Now that Christmas 2008 is all wrapped up (ouch...punny, no?) I have discovered that I missed making ornaments for everyone. So I'm planning ahead.
Let me know if you can help me out. There might even be a 'Thank-You Korknisse' in it for you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our First Real Tree

Oh, Fer Cryin' Out Loud.

Had a lovely visit last week with Jennifer. Had prepared a little crafty thing for her - just becasue she's always preparing little crafty treasures for someone else - yet the photos somehow disappeared between the camera dock and the PC.

Then we had a lovely whirlwind of a trip to see my extended family in Barrie, Ont. Took lots of pictures. Had a dress-up Christmas party. Spent 10ish hours in the car with my own little family. Took some more pictures. And the camera won't turn on. At least it waited until I had taken the party pics before becoming tempermental. I'm sure my tech support guru will work his magic, but geez.

Tonight we went out and bought our first real Christmas tree. Sorry, no photos. It's really beautiful. Really. Although the trunk seems to list to starboard. We're leaving it to settle tonight and tomorrow evening we'll decorate. Perhaps my camera will come out of it's tempermental little snit by then. We can only hope.

Holiday preparations are happening in enjoyable little chunks. You'd think I would be entrenched in some holiday gift knitting, but not so much. I'm knitting myself something and I'm considering knitting a penguin. R likes penguins.

K would like to remind us (mostly me) that her birthday is coming up. One week today. She'll be 11. When I was pregnant I remember thinking about how old I would be when she was ten. I thought that sounded old. I couldn't imagine being that old. Now, I can't believe how silly and young and immature and I was when I was preparing to parent. Thank goodness kids are resilient and forgiving.

I'm off to knit. Or maybe make some paper stars. Of which I would love to show you a photo. But I won't. Not yet.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Cards

I like to send Christmas cards. This year, I'm very impressed that I got them in the mail 'on time'. I didn't make them - I like to make Christmas cards - but in the interest of getting them out on time, I made do with what I had in the Christmas supplies.

Although we are travelling to see family before Christmas, I mailed off the few cards to those we would be seeing on our travels. After all, if the weather is bad, the trip could be cancelled.

We also mailed off a special package to a new-found cousin in Germany. The kids especially love getting things in the mail, so they are so excited to send a little gift off to the other side of the globe to hopefully make someone else as happy as they are when they get mail.

I also have a stack of cards that we will hand deliver. I think we will pile into the car one night with a hot drink for everyone. We usually do a Christmas Light Drive, so in the interests of tradition and conservation, we will combine two trips into one. We will deliver cards while sipping drinks and searching out displays of holiday lights.

I am considering getting organized for Christmas in November next year. Usually I wait until December first to break out the Christmas bin of supplies and decorations. But i find I am saying 'maybe next year' to too many fun things. If I tended to the work and preparation in November, I could enjoy our December celebrations even more. Someone remember that and remind me, will you?


No-Roll Sugar Cookies

My cookie exchange recipe, No-Roll Sugar Cookies, comes from my battered old cookbook, "The Pillsbury Cookbook: The All Purpose Companion For Today's Cook". Not being a sugar cookie connoisseur of any sort, I have no idea of they are any good or not. My kids like 'em, and that's what counts here. The other reason I like them is that I don't have to roll, cut, lift and bake. Somewhere between the cutting of the shape with the cookie cutter and the lifting onto the pan with the spatula, I manage to mangle any sort of dough. I think I need lessons.

No-Roll Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
4½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt

In large bowl, cream both sugars and butter until light and fluffy.
Add oil, vanilla and eggs; mix well.
Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt until well blended.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 375ºF.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Flatten with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until set, but not brown.
Makes 9 to 10 dozen cookies.

To note a few things: You can substitute some lemon juice for the cream of tartar 1:3. I wouldn't use this substitution in every recipe, but due to the size of this one, the lemon juice won't be noticeable. Use 3 teaspoons for every teaspoon of cream of tartar called for. I divided the dough into four patties and wrapped each before I put it in the fridge. That way, I only took out one at a time and the others stayed cold while I worked away. I decorated with holly shaped non-perils before baking. It was tedious. I got the frustrating things at my local Bulk Barn. When you're buying yours, get half of what you think you need. Otherwise, you'll have non-perils in your freezer for years. Flip the baking sheet upside-down and bake your cookies on the bottom of your cookie sheet. Unless, of course, you already have nice, flat cookie sheets without rims. They tend to cook more evenly without the rim in the way.

I really liked these little guys while they were warm. Once they cooled, they were packed away and frozen. I'll have to let you know how I like them after our Christmas company eats them.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cookie Exchange 2008

Now that my brothers finally decided to join my ranks - those would be the Settled Down With A Significant Other ranks - there's quite a few people around during the holidays. This year, my Mom invited the ladies of the family to participate in a cookie exchange. We'd never done one as a family before. I'm still trying to remember if I've ever really done a real cookie exchange. I know K did a recipe exchange at Girl Guides one year. Those are fun too, but I digress...

K and I jumped on the Cookie Exchange bandwagon. K made gingersnaps. They are a favourite of hers. You have to under cook them a little so they stay soft and chewy. Apparently, crunchy gingersnaps are just not cool.

(R is composing the traditional Santa letter. More on that later...)

I made no-roll sugar cookies. I'm happy with how they turned out. One recipe made about 100 cookies. Perfect for when you're in a hurry and only have time to make one batch of something. Mixing the batter went quickly enough. I divided it in four and popped it in the fridge for two hours. Just long enough to clean up the kitchen and get a busy Sunday underway. Then I spent two hours getting the dough all baked up. Most of that was fiddling with the fussy wee decorations. Baking time for these little guys was only about 5 minutes.
We joined Mom, my sister, my sister-in-law and my sister-in-law-to-be for an afternoon tea party last Sunday. We lined trays of treats on the counter and filled our bags with a great selection of treats: creme de menthe squares, mini cinnamon buns, mini butter tarts, shortbread, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, chocolate chip cookies. Hopefully I'll remember to get a picture when I take them out of the freezer a little closer to Christmas.

So there you have it. Proof that we are enjoying the holiday preparations. I'm very aware this year that for me, the preparations are the celebration. If I can't enjoy the effort I put into our December celebrations, I find myself really disappointed and exhausted by the time the three days of Christmas roll around. I like that the kids remember the yearly traditions that have crept in over the years. It's nice to see that they are starting to feel the rhythm of our year.

I promise that there's lots going on around here. So much I could share but I'm - happily - a little out of time. Today for example, I could have blogged all afternoon, but I was busy building a snow fort with R. The last time I built a snow fort, I was maybe 6 years old; the snow banks were bigger than I was...and it was more of a slide than a fort. Thanks for checking in.


Monday, December 8, 2008

You Know It's Cold When...

You know it's cold when the snow - even the little amount you have - is squeaky as you walk to the curb at 7a.m. on Monday morning to put the garbage out.

But I suppose that's to be expected, this being Canada and all.

It sure is nice, though, walking back in to a warm house to enjoy a hot French Vanilla coffee (if you're into that kind of thing) and a logic puzzle or two before the rest of the sleeping bodies emerge.

Happy Monday, everyone. Have a good week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy December

Nothing is new. Move along if you are expecting revelations and exclamations.

Had a lovely visit last week with my wee nephew who ended up staying for the day.

We tried to keep him busy and entertained.

We were very successful. We even managed to get our school work completed. Wee Nephew decided he needed some book work as well.

We also sent him home with some new skills. I'm a firm believer in payback. This newly taught skill in response to a particular toy electric guitar given to K when she was 4 or 5. (Just kidding....kind of...)

This week we are staying on track with the school work while getting ready for the holidays. I'll blog about things as they come up because I like to remember them.
So far, I've got as far as having most of the household decorations up. I'm thinking they look a little sparse. I'm dwelling on some thoughts about this. I want it to look festive, yet not tacky. Since I don't have a very defined style, I'm having trouble deciding on further decorating action. I do like the natural side of the holidays: Apples and cloves and garlands and greens and fruit and light and snow and fire. Perhaps I can hone and curtail myself into a nature based holiday display. It's a work in progress, folks.
As well, I have a half-completed To Do For The Holidays's in my head. I keep meaning to write it down, but....So there's baking and ornaments and celebrations and meals and gifts and visiting all mulling about in my head. Oh, and K's birthday. I'm planning that mentally as well.
B's work schedule this week is making for early mornings and therefore making for early bedtimes. Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Snow Day

The kids spent a couple of hours out in the snow again this morning.

I used the time to tidy up and get to some long overdue planning and organization on the homeschooling front. I was in the middle of sweeping up the neverending dog hair when R came to the door. I figured he needed his mitts tucked in again. Or maybe a shovel (some of which are still in the basement). Silly me for thinking of such an obvious thing...

R: Mom, can you pass me the magnifying glass please!

Me: You need a magnifying glass out there?!

R: Yes. I'd like to look carefully at the snow.

Me: Okaaay. (Is the sun really bright enough for him to set fire to anything?) Really? You need to look carefully at the snow?

R: Well, yeah...and I want to see if I can burn a belly button into Marcus. But first I'll look at the snow.

Me: Here you go. Make sure you bring it in with you.

Now, for those who are interested, 'Marcus' is the snowman they built yesterday. And no, although R lay in the snow for longer than I've seen him sleep without moving, there was not any sunshine to help him in his endeavour.

After the snow activities in the backyard were exhausted, the fun continued in the frontyard. Why didn't I think of this stuff when I was a kid?


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pardon my absence yesterday evening.

I had a late date. DH and I loaded up a movie and had cheese and crackers. We also finished up a bottle of Zinfandel. After opening it. It was nice. But it made for a late night.

Why so late, you ask??

Because at 9:30pm, we decided to set up our science experiment. (It failed dismally, but that's ok - it's all part of the process.) Pretty colours, no? So, kiddies all educated and then tucked into bed, you'd think I'd be good to cozy up on the couch, right?
Not so much. Ok. After B had his turn, then we cozied up on the couch for our date.

There were less shenanigans today.
I expect it was because much of the afternoon and evening were spent outdoors playing in the wet, sticky barely-there layer of fluffy white that has accumulated over the last 24 hours. Fresh air and large muscle activity: it'll cure what ails ya.

I finished Wuthering Heights today.

I feel a little disturbed. As though Nelly was living vicariously through those she served. And since her 'nurslings' turned up happy in the end (because everyone else was dead), it was a happy ending. I'm glad that was the only book Emily Bronte ever wrote...if there were more, I feel I'd have to read at least one other so she could redeem herself in my mind. Not that that's a big goal of hers, two hundred years later... I will end up watching one of the movies, though. It's the sort of thing I do to myself.
I have another movie date planned for this evening. No wine this time, though. So I'm off once again to drag my wonderful husband off his PC. B's overtime is nice, but it definitely cuts into our evenings. Not that I'm complaining. Not in the least. I'm happy that he's excited about these projects he's working on.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Monday means laundry.

The last load is just finishing. All the clean stuff gets put away tomorrow - which is linens day. Sheets. Napkins. Dishtowels.

Monday means skating.

We head over to the local rink mid-day where the rink guys (attendants? employees?) are now, 5 years in, expecting us. One of the dads was even questioned about his homeschooling status one day when paying admission. Who cares if admission has gone up 300%? Hardly anyone ever comes but for us and the kids have a blast and we moms get a chat in. Maybe this is the reward for those years of standing on the ice while the kids toddled around in bob-skates...and the years where we stood stooped over holding them up by their armpits while they did their best to march around on their first real skates.

B's been working a lot.

He likes what he's doing, though, which is a huge blessing. He's working long hours, but it's not so bad. He's excited about these new projects that he is juggling. I'm glad the focus has changed for him. He's noticeably happier.

The kids are seasonally challenged.

I swear we're seeing some Spring Fever. They are both exuberant and loud and they tear around trashing the place - and each other. I'm constantly trying to pull their focus back to what we're doing. They assure me they want to be doing whatever it is we're involved in, yet they can't help but to make a joke or poke the other or remember something insanely funny - so funny that they dissolve into giggles. I don' t know how much more of this we can take. In their silliness, R has received a bruise on his cheek last week which has faded to make way for a lovely yellow-green number on his forehead this week. We can't see the goose egg on the back of his head from the weekend shenanigans.

I had a lovely and quick chat with Jennifer this morning.

She motivated me so much that I braved making alphabet chicken soup with the kids today - from scratch with no recipe. Ok, the chicken stock was from a carton. They helped prepare it and they ate it. I didn't even have to make a back-up dinner. We used too many noodles and the garlic got a little too brown, but hey, picking it out it gave one of the rug-rats a job to do while I was busy supervising the one with the knife. Yes, I had to supervise due to the incessant shenanigans of late.

I'm a little disturbed by Wuthering Heights.

What is up with that book? This is my first time through it and I'm not sure what to think. I find it more of a tragic description of some messed up folk rather than a love story. I'm only halfway through so far. We'll see how the end pans out.

That's all for now. Thanks for checking in.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Blogging Hiatus

What is with the blogging hiatus?

Ever since R's
surgery blogging just hasn't been the same.

After R recovered, B and I sat down and had a heart-to-heart and we compromised on a workable plan. We re-vamped what our homeschooling day looked like. I shifted my focus.

Perhaps that's all it was - just a wee change of focus for me.

So, thank you, to those of you who have emailed and commented, for checking in every so often. Although I've been perusing the blogosphere, I haven't really been much of a contributor. It's nice to know that I'm not just another mouse click for some of you.

I'm going to try to post a little something in the evenings before bed this week. Perhaps that will kick start my blogging habit. We'll treat it as a little experiment. Perhaps a disclaimer would help - me, that is, not you - remove obstacles: please don't expect pictures or depth or humour or creativity or any other such exciting thing. Just a little check in and we'll see what happens after that.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Too Funny

I was out perusing the blogosphere and I came across this little quiz at Dorothy's. Knowing that I had to procrastinate the making of dinner for at least another 10 minutes, I figured I'd play along.

I had a little giggle at the results...being Canadian and all....although, I can say I think I'm somewhat offended at being lumped in with those Minnesota folk. That part isn't funny.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The West
The Midland
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

8pm And All Is....Snowy?!

What's this? I was out here an hour ago and it was raining. This doesn't look like rain.

Yup. This is my tree. Hang on...I think I remember this stuff. But it wasn't here an hour ago...

What the heck is with the wind? I've never seen it snow sideways...Hey! Someone made a snowbank!

This is better than those leaves I was tunnelling in this morning.... Where'd they go, anyway??

Friday, October 24, 2008

Local Government Week

This week is Local Government Week in our community. The kids and I, along with some homeschooling friends, were off to City Hall to see where all those exciting local government things go on this past Tuesday morning.

We had a great tour with the City Clerk. Her talk ranged from the history of the building to the roles of the council members to the reason for the bell on the Mayor's Desk to the job of the Clock Master to the exciting work of the Planning Department.
The tragic thing I discovered about the inner workings of our fair City Hall is that the best view of all of the 1000 Islands Region is out the windows of the Council Chamber. Why oh why do they only use that room at night when it's dark?! You could charge admission for that view!
Anyway, a good morning had by all.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shamefully Negligent or Fall Photos

I must admit that there has not been an adequate amount of Fall Appreciation going on around here. We're not out enjoying the colours or playing in the leaves nearly enough.

The colours are gorgeous here in our corner of SE Ontario - I noticed the other weekend as I drove to Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's place in the country.

Since then, many of the leaves have fallen. Instead of the intense, warm, bright colours, we're starting to get the muted browns and yellows of later Fall.

Today I took our first Fall pics of 2008. It was only outside on our tiny postage stamp of a lawn, but pictures are pictures. To redeem myself, I feel I must direct you to the Fall pictures of my friend Jennifer. I was a little surprised at how much Nuk-Dog liked the leaves. But then again, she does like the smell of dead rotten things.

Cloth Napkins

I was thinking about the amount of paper we go through in my family.

I find the amount particularly ridiculous when I'm grocery shopping and I buy paper towel and 'dinner napkins'.

Spending $6 - $8 dollars every few shopping trips isn't a big deal. However, it is a big deal if I think about standing in my kitchen while tossing a handful of loonies into the trash.

Facing my sewing apprehension, I called my mommy to come over and help me get started.

I cut a couple of dollar store dish towels in half and finished the cut edge. Presto - cloth napkins!

I was so impressed with the finished product that I wasn't satisfied with a measly set of four. I bought three more matching dish towels. Now I've got a collection of ten napkins. Enough to get us partway through the week and certainly enough to have company at the table.

Next project: cut our paper towel consumption. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Federal Election 2009

Here's what we're doing tonight....

On CTV we're keeping track of seats won and we're hoping for a majority government of some sort.

It's turned into great fun. I was explaining too much and R was falling asleep on the couch. So I drummed up some cardstock and my papercutter and started making a graph of sorts.

It's been taken over by smaller hands and I've been relegated to paper square cutter. It's 10:10pm here now...we'll see how long this keeps up!

*Update* We made it to midnight. At 11, after the local candidate's victory had been announced on tv, R insisted we drive by the winning campaign office to see if there was a celebration going on. There wasn't. Final polls haven't yet been counted, but everyone was falling asleep, so we'll update our chart in the morning. The paranoid-homeschooling-mom in me is happy to announce that we all have a firm understanding of 'minority government' now. As well as other various terms that I'm sure will be useful in the years to come. It was a pretty fun sort of learning kind of family evening. Mission accomplished.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Laundry Mondays

For a little more than two months now, Mondays have become Laundry Day.

I ventured onto this new scheduled task for one reason. Time. I was constantly interrupting my day to move the laundry forward. Usually I would remember that I was mid-way through a load of laundry at the most inopportune times: read aloud, making lunch, on the way out the door, bedtime or - the worst - when B was tromping through the house looking for clean jeans when he should have been on his way to work.

It seemed as though I was constantly doing laundry. Every day I would have to traipse down to the laundry area in the basement and get a load going. Then, I would have to remember that I was doing laundry. More times than not, I would get through 2ish loads a day. A day!! First, that's a lot of laundry. Second, that's a lot of forgotten laundry. Wrinkled laundry. Unfolded laundry. Laundry sitting in the dryer, or worse, the washer. All in all, I was doing 11 or 12 loads a week.

If that's not scary enough for you, this should do it: I haven't yet counted in the bed sheets and linens. Who feels like doing beds when the laundry rooms always backlogged?? It's pretty bad when the 9-year-old boy is seen bringing his sheets downstairs because they need a wash. This is the same 9-year-old who insists he only needs to shower every two weeks because the sweat he works up at hockey and soccer is enough of a wash for him.

12 to 15 loads per week depending on if the beds got done. That seems excessive when you add it all up.

So, Mondays are now laundry days. The laundry sits, sorted, in hampers in the laundry area until Monday morning. I wash, dry, sort and fold everyone's clothes. I've been managing it all in 4 loads: whites, colours, darks and denims. By the end of the day, the washer is empty, the dryer is empty, shirts are hung, socks are paired and everything is ready to be put away.

Savings? Less water, less hydro, less time. I'm doing 1/3 the laundry. I'm using the dryer less as I refuse to let the wet stuff pile up while I wait for the dryer to completely dry every load. Damp things can be hung. I know that if I can just get the laundry caught up on Mondays, I can forget about it for the rest of the week.

This means that bright and early on Tuesdays, I wake up to a row of empty hampers. Well, I would if I woke up in the basement. But I don't. I have to schlep my sleepy self down there to get to the clean clothes I washed, dried, sorted, folded and left there yesterday. What better time to change the sheets than when I have a totally available laundry area? So, Tuesdays have become Linen Day. I wash the sheets. And towels. And facecloths. And dish towels. And if I get ambitious, I'll do the dog's blanket. She sheds a lot.

In the space of two days, I do 6 - or 7 if a duvet or comforter needs it - loads of laundry. Fully half of what I was not really accomplishing very well before. Everyone has clothes that are clean, everyone has a bed that is fresh and the best part is the freeing feeling of not having to think about laundry until Monday rolls around again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

First Blip

Today was interesting. After being so schedule-oriented the last few weeks, I thought I would be more upset when things came undone. Perhaps I was waiting for the first hiccup.

Today I met with a lady who may be interested in teaching a few homeschoolers some French. I can't believe how nervous I was to 'interview' someone. You'd never guess I used to hire people with regularity. I have some logistics to work out before anything official in the way of French Lessons develop, but it was a start for sure.

Otherwise, here's how our day unfolded: B was up and out early on to head 'up North' for a work meeting. It was garbage day, so I cleaned out the leftovers and got that to the curb in time. The kids slept in a bit - even R who was up at 7 but then went back to bed - until I woke them at 8:30. After a quick breakfast, we did our morning chores and the daily housework. I started laundry and then promptly forgot about it for the rest of the day. At 10, another homeschooling mom and I met with the potential French teacher here at the house. After our meeting, the kids emerged and we prepped a bit of schoolwork before lunch. R bolted through a couple of pages of handwriting practice while I pulled out an ancient edition of Trivial Pursuit. My 'checking for pieces' turned into an hour-and-a-half game. I can't recall the last time K actually sat and played a board game with anyone. We talked about making a game to go with the Trivial Pursuit to participate in a Geography Game Project being spearheaded by another homeschooling mom.

Lunch was a quick pan of ham and eggs. K and I cleaned up. R packed the skating bag. We walked over to the rink and met friends for an hour of skating. Today the kids played with mini-sticks on the ice which was a nice change for them. Technically, we skate during 'Parent and Tot' time and no sticks are allowed on the ice. However, the rink staff are happy to give us a bit of breathing room. I think they're just happy that some people are attending the day-time skating session.

After walking home, we discovered that B was home from work. Our plan had been to hit the books for a couple of hours after skating. R had a stomach ache and went to his room. K curled up with a book. So B and I caught up and hung out for an hour. I made a hot drink and read a bit while the kids continued to hang out and get their own things done. Dinner was late - 7:30. B and I cleaned up. R showered. K was on the computer doing her RPG game. The kids had a bit of tv time before bed. B and I talked a little about how to work out the French thing. It'd be nice to pay the teacher a decent amount, have an ideal-for-all-involved sized group while keeping things affordable for the homeshcooling families.

After the kids turned their lights out at 9, B and I went our own ways. I'll go read in bed between ten and eleven. If I manage to stay awake, B and I will watch some Sci-Fi 'till midnight. Then we do it all over again tomorrow.

Well, actually, tomorrow needs to be a lot more productive. I want to know that I can have a day where I fall off the schedule, yet I manage to pick it back up without too much trouble. We'll see what happens's always an adventure when we all have a busy day planned.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Checking In...

I've been so focused on staying on schedule that I've not been doing anything else. No knitting, no creating, nothing.

I suppose I'll be posting some 'A Day In The Life' because I have nothing else of interest to blog about.

Let's Recap September:

  • Sept. 1 - Family BBQ at Chuck's new house.
  • Sept. 2 - Officially 'Back to Homeschool'
  • Sept. 3 - Kids to RCMP Musical Ride with Uncle B and Aunt K. Some School books arrive.
  • Sept. 6 - Birthday dinner for Grandpa at my parents'.
  • Sept. 7 - Homeschooler's Family Picnic
  • Sept. 8 - CHEO
  • Sept.10 - CHEO again. Green Light for R on all fronts. Register for Indoor Soccer Leagues.
  • Sept.11 - First Hockey practice for R.
  • Sept.13 - Community 'Treasure' Hunt. Cleared out some basement clutter.
  • Sept.15 - Daytime skating starts. Price went up 300%. Yikes.
  • Sept.18 - Hockey again. Coffee & Chat at local coffee house with homeschool moms.
  • Sept.20 - Dog to the Kennel. We're off on a late season camping trip with B's boss' family.
  • Sept.21 - Home Again. Packed a lot of fun stuff into an overnight trip.
  • Sept.22 - Treats after skating with friends.
  • Sept.23 - Grandma M. visits from MD, USA.
  • Sept.24 - Belatedly begin our weekly library visits.
  • Sept.25 - Belatedly take R for a haircut. Why are 2 dinners required on hockey nights??
  • Sept.26 - Dentist appointments (and a convenient excuse to go shopping) in the big city. Family dinner with family friends. Wine, good company and dessert. Awesome.
  • Sept.27 - K's grandparents visit. R off to a friend's birthday party.
  • Sept.29 - Interview potential French teacher.

Everything school-wise is on the anticipated track. R's math hasn't arrived yet. The kids are doing Science, History, Vocab and French more or less together. K is doing two math lessons a day, WriteShop and is working on improving her handwriting. R is doing some printing every day (under duress), some math practice here and there and his reading is really taking off. He even read a joke from the Reader's Digest to me today. Out loud.

I've organized the first of our monthly field trips. I've tracked down a potential French teacher. Now I just have to find a location to hold our French gatherings.

September's momentum is holding for now. I'm fairly impressed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back-To-School Thoughts

I was thinking about how much I hate the Back-To-School pressure. You know, the kind you find when you walk in to your local retail store and you are bombarded with 'essential' school supplies immediately as you walk through the door. The racks and baskets and shelves and bins full of individually-packaged-with-bonus-eraser items and piles of colourfully displayed paper holding systems that always look better on the shelf than in your home.

It's pressure that says you need to be preparing. You have to be ready. You simply must not fall behind. Everybody is doing it. I'm so gullible.

This week I am feeling a wee bit of triumph. This year I did it on my own schedule. I ordered our books 'late'. I organized our schedule 'late'. I have not yet shopped for seasonal clothes for the kids. I have not yet filled our calendar with extra-curricular commitments. And that's all ok.

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Looking Decidedly Schoolish In Here

As September marches on, things are looking more and more schoolish in here. It's a bit of a stretch considering the last couple of years where my focus hasn't been on accomplishing certain benchmarks or paper production, rather I was more apt to be a little too relaxed.

It's a good stretch, though. The Principle and I are on the same page more frequently. And all homeschooling moms know that when the administration is working together, program delivery becomes almost easy and those little program recipients catch a ride on the enthusiasm and motivation and interest and learning lightbulbs are lighting up for all of us. Well, at least on the Good Days. And if it's not a Good Day, I've been doing this parenting thing long enough to know to declare a Flexible Day if a Good Day seems unlikely.

So, although I know there will be challenges and roadblocks, detours and 180° turns, I'm still looking forward to this school year. Yes, books were ordered late, but I've had a good time delving into them one at a time. The kids have enjoyed the feeling of finishing off books and resources we've had on the go over the last year. Some perverse part of me enjoys making use of lists and schedules and copious amounts of sticky notes - they're reusable!! September has had this undercurrent of expectancy and excitement as I've photocopied and planned. I like it.

For French, We'll be using some L'Art de Lire, Rosetta Stone and French Coach for DS.

We're trying out Vocabulary from Classical Roots for Language Arts. I'm not really one for a spelling program, preferring the kids to pick up their spelling as their reading comes along.

Science is proving to be interesting. We've done the first lesson of Real Science 4 Kids in the Chemistry 1 book. I read, the kids listened and then had a million things for me to look up on the 'Net relating to the lesson. That's what I like. I don't really care if they take away from the lesson a complete understanding of the lesson objectives. Just that they are interested and inspired to think, play, discover. I expect we'll get through Chemistry 1 by Christmas, Biology 1 in the New Year and perhaps we'll get to the Physics 1.

Geography: Province by Province is a Donna Ward resource. After hearing her speak a couple of times, I really like her approach to Canadian Geography and History. The lessons are short, sweet and to the point. They're not too in depth, but give enough information to have plenty of jumping off points. We're going to take those jumping off points in the direction of read alouds. I hope to get around to posting a list of those read alouds here on the blog later in the year.

For History, we'll work our way through SOTW 2, most immediately. I hope to buy the last two of the series for the shelf in the near future. The kids really like the map work for some reason. And for kids who don't 'do' colouring, they seem to work away at the colouring pages while we read/review quite happily.

Math is plain ol' Saxon. 3 for R, 5/4 and 6/5 for K. K is absolutely convinced she 'isn't good at' math due to a misplaced comment from someone a number of years ago. From her comments about the ease of 5/4, hopefully she'll realize her mathematical confidence and ability soon.

K and I are going to putter through WriteShop 1 this year. Her writing is wonderful and copious. She's requested to learn a couple of technical writing skills. She's expressed a curiosity about journalistic style. WriteShop seemed to fit both our styles.

That will be our main core with bits and pieces added in for good measure. We're tossing in some handwriting practice on the request of both kids. R would like to learn cursive and K would like to improve the look of her handwriting. R has requested 'Mysteries, Puzzles and Illusions' so hopefully I'll be able to come up with something fantastic for him. I'm really mourning the loss of our local children's librarian who would have been a great help on this front....the City fired her. I'm planning to be able to have more regular get-togethers with the local homeschoolers come hell or high water. There's already some great things in the works on that front. I'm still waiting on R's math pages to arrive as well as our Medieval timeline - my personal cut-and-colour-and-paste project. As September passes into Fall, all the pieces will fall into place and we'll find our collective groove.

I'm really looking froward to spending this year with the kids.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

Didn't get around to organizing the shelf, folks.
And here it is in all it's messy splendor. Of course, I snapped this pic about half an hour into the sorting process.
If you look closely, you can even see the little sticky-notes I put up to help the sorting process along. Helpful little do-dads, those sticky-notes.
After I had sorted, I re-homed.
After I re-homed, I filed and stored.
After I filed and stored, I recycled.
After I recycled, I started on some lesson planning.
And that's where I am now. Lesson planning with sticky-notes. Handy little do-hickers those sticky-notes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation.

So, September made it after all. I thought it may have been washed away with all the rain we've collected this Summer.

I've missed my blog. I hope I'll be able to get back to it and record our homeschooling year along with a smattering of other bits and pieces of daily life.

It was a big summer for us. Lots of firsts.

And ninths. We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary this summer. After having plans in place for a year, we ditched them to spend an evening at home with the kids. We watched a sci-fi flick, a favourite show of ours and we treated ourselves to a strawberry shortcake. More personally, I internally, quietly and privately celebrated ten years of family life. Ten years ago I had taken a whirlwind trip into parenthood, responsibility and general drastic lifestyle change. B was there, jumping in head first with me. So as I did a lot that first year, I expect I'll do a lot of thinking and evaluating and projecting this year.

R's first foray into some serious medical care. 2 surgeries - the second completed last week. In another week or so we'll have all the post-op check-ups done and we'll see what future kidney care - if any - is required. Just recently R surprised me by trying out a kayak all on his own at a community picnic. The kayak club had the boats out for anyone to try and R was uncharacteristically right in there - without his sister - to give it a go. Guess who didn't have the camera? I've noticed a few times he's stepped out of his usual box to venture into independent waters.

K enjoyed a full season of outdoor soccer - her first. I'm sure she thought she was going to die with all the running involved. She did mention it a couple of times. She improved all season, even volunteering to play keeper. She totally stepped out of the box the last game or so to play forward, in the hopes of scoring. No goals were to be had, although there were a few good kicks directed at the net. K also met a neighbourhood friend and enjoyed the whole pre-teen hanging-out thing...which shows no sign of slowing down now that school has officially begun.

We're seeing lots more of B at home - which is great. When he's around, I'm more motivated to accomplish stuff in my day. When he's gone, I just miss him. I tend to mope. We had a good hashing out of our homeschooling expectations for the year. It makes me feel a lot better when I hear how interested and committed B is to this blind venture I'm undertaking. And as anyone who does it knows, homeschooling bleeds over into daily life. Once the kids are aware that both mom and dad are on the same page regarding all the day-to-day activities, things just putter along smoothly. For the most part.

We were homebodies this summer. The kids had some nice opportunities to get out and about with various family members and friends. Worried that K would get bored in the quiet, homebound days after R's surgery, I booked her into a couple of days at a historical site. She fought me tooth and nail about going on the first day, but was chomping at the bit to go the second time around.

We did our first family bike rides at the beginning of the season. Hopefully we'll fit a few more in - now that R's up and about - before the snow flies.

As we get closer to Fall, there's still a couple of things to fit in on the calender. Perhaps a cottaging weekend, the homeschooler's picnic and a visit with Grandma.

I'm looking forward to this Homeschool Year. I'm sure as I get back to the blog, I'll impress you all with stories of organization and planning, with reviews of new resources and with compelling news of day-to-day activities. Really. Or not.

And that's what I did on my summer vacation. Although, summer certainly doesn't feel over. And that's a happy, looking-forward-to-things kind of thought this year. Because twenty years ago, I was thinking the very same thought while stuck in a classroom in a new school embarking on grade 8. And it wasn't a very happy thought because I wasn't looking forward to very much that year. The end.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Recovering Well

Just a short note: Rs surgery went well. He's recovering nicely. Hopefully we'll be home in a couple of days.

I'll probably be taking a bit of a blogging hiatus while R continues to recover at home and hopefully will get back to things as we get closer to school work starting up again.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Here I am at 1am. I'm not doing much...watching Happy Days reruns, re-checking my email.

I did try to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Noone else seems to be having trouble sleeping.

I turned the light out and acted all sleepy, but my brain had other ideas.

So I got up and put the tv on. I spent a little while making a list: Things K needs, things R needs, paperwork I need and a wee shopping list for tommorrow. Today. Whatever.

At a more reasonable hour today, we'll have lunch with B's mom and a pool party with the homeschoolers and then, after an early dinner, it will be time to pack. Nuk will go to the kennel; K will go with my mom and the rest of us will be going to bed in anticipation of an early departure for CHEO on Thursday morning.

For those family and friends following along, CHEO called tonight and bumped Rs surgery time to Thursday at 9am. I'll update when I can - by blog or email, whichever seems to be most convenient at the time.

Now I'm off to get some sleep...sheesh...all these blogging responsibilities keeping my up to the wee hours. <insert eyeroll here>

Monday, July 14, 2008

Merrickville, Ontario