Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In The garden

This morning we set out to clean up the bird boxes in the back yard, in hopes of enticing new nest-builders this year. It really is a true sign that spring is here to be able to sit outside in the sunshine and listen to the hundreds of birds talking to each other (and to us?) unseen in the trees. The robins are hopping all over the yard, the chickadees are singing "spriiiiings comiiiiiing" and we have a beautiful pair of soft grey mourning doves that have set up house somehwere near by and visit us each morning for breakfast. The feeders in the afternoon are full of sparrows, house finches and bright yellow finches, and the boys even spotted a pair of cardinals digging up worms in the garden yesterday morning. Our plan for this week is to begin a bird book, where the boys can draw pictues of the birds that they see in the yard, and then we can research the names of the ones that we don't know off hand. If it goes over well, I will post pictures later in the week.

In The Garden

A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angel-worm in halfs
And ate the fellow, raw.

And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sideways to the wall
To let a Bettle pass.

He glances with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,-
They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
He stirred his velvet head

Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home

Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver from a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks at noon,
Leap, plashless, as they swim.

By: Emily Dickinson

Wherever you are today, try to take a minute to sit down and listen to the birds - it is even better then smelling the roses, I swear!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thought for the day

"Great thoughts hallow any labor. Today I earned seventy-five cents heaving manure out of a pen, and made a good bargain of it. If the ditcher muses the while how he might live uprightly, the ditching spade and the turf knife may be engraved on the coat of arms of his prosperity."
Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, March 29, 2009

words of wisdom

I heard this quote thanks to another homeschooler, and I just had to post it here, too - love it!

"Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he is not interested, it is like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating."
Barbara Lamping

Spring time gnomes

The boys and I have recently changed our nature table over from winter to spring....I thought that I would share a few pics (please ignore the kitchen mess in the background!). We started our table this past Christmas in an effort to counteract the swell of materialism that seems to fill our home each December. This table is a way for us to remind ourselves of all of the beautiful things around us that do not come out of a box. The boys still play with it almost every day, and love moving the gnomes around.

William has been learning how to needle felt, so this little flower garden was the perfect project for him.

The gnome house (which is my favorite!) is made out of a slab of tree trunk cut to about the size of a large dinner plate (thanks to Pop). I drilled small holes around the edge of it about 2/3 of the way around, and then arced fresh dogwood branches over the top to create the shape. I filled the holes with hot glue to keep the branches in place, and voila! Some of the dogwood branches have started to fade a bit now, but they were absolutely beautiful when they were fresh and a beautiful red color. It looks lovely, too, with some play silk draped over the top to make it a little more cozy feeling. One more hint - a large glass bead in the bottom of the gnomes helps them to stand up straight!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Grandma Jean's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nothing like company coming to provide the perfect excuse to make cookies (not that you really need an excuse...) The boys were more than happy to help out, and they made the special request for Grandma Jean's Chocolate Chip Cookies.

And the final product...

Here is the recipe:
Jean's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups oats
1 large pkg chocolate chips
Cream together butter and sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat well. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Beat dry ingredients into wet, and then stir in chocolate chips. Spoon by tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet (or baking stone, if you have one) and bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes. Don't forget to lick the beaters!!! Enjoy!

The Warning

As posted on a sign in my doctors office:

Unsupervised children will be given espresso and a kitten.

That just about says it all, don't you think?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Please Mommy...

Today I had to go to work. I left while most of my family was still fast asleep, and after what seemed to be a very long meeting, made it home after dinnertime, and at what should have been the time to start the boys winding down for the night. The house looked as it was bound to after leaving a 3 year old boy, a 6 year old boy, their father, and the dog on their own for the better part of 2 days. The smell of the french fries (!!!) that they had for dinner still lingered in the air.

I dropped my work bag by the door, gave everyone hellos and kisses, and then headed into the kitchen to try to unearth the sink from a mountain of dishes. I heard little feet behind me, and William made the request that just about did me in..."Mommy, please can we play tag outside?" I tried to be a little sneaky about my answer "Sure - why don't you and your brother play some tag before bedtime?" But of course, he was not deterred that easily. He didn't want to play tag, he wanted to play tag with me.

Now, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love my boys. They are my heart, my soul, my reason for being. I would gladly lay down my life for them. But play tag? Now? After working all day? Couldn't he see the dishes / laundry / tidying up / paper work that needs to be done???? I didn't have the energy to make myself a cup of tea, let alone chase a 6 year old around the back yard.

Of course, eventually his angel face, body hugs and "Please Mommys" won me over, as they usually do. We headed outside, the boys running, skipping and jumping, and me dragging, shuffling and grumbling. None the less, after a few minutes we were all laughing and having fun sloshing after each other in our rubber boots around our spring-muddied back yard. Somehow their energy was contagious.

What struck me, as we were chasing each other around like fools, was how easy it is to get caught up in doing things for our kids, instead of doing things with them. We go to work to earn money to buy them things. We wash their clothes, and we cook them healthy meals. We try to give them a clean home to live in, and drive them to lessons, groups, and activities. We even obsess over taking their pictures and documenting their days!!! Is all of that important? Sure. Is it worth spending our time and energy on? Sure. Is it the most important thing? No. What kids want, what they need more than anything else, is us. Our time, our energy, and our undivided attention.

Sometimes, I think, we try to convince ourselves that folding the laundry really is the most important thing that our children need of us at a given moment. The must have clean, neatly folded clothing to wear, right? But lets be honest with ourselves. Sometimes folding laundry is really a way of letting ourselves off the hook a little bit. Even the best of us can only play super heroes for so long. After about an hour and a half of playing Lego my brain starts to melt and drain out of my ears (have I mentioned that my boys LOVE Lego!?!?).

So here is my pledge - if I need a break, I will take a break. If the laundry needs to be folded, I will fold it. But most importantly, when the boys needs me, I will be there for them - with them. I will recognize that what they need more than anything else, really, is to know not only that I love them, but that I like them. That they are worth spending time with. That they are fun. Because really, they are. Even after a long day at work.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Our Favorite Poem Today

Put Something In

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.

By: Shel Silverstein

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The College Royal

We spent the better part of the day today at the College Royal, and the kids had a blast. They all had the chance to roll up their sleeves and try out to many things. They got to check out the skeleton of a two-headed calf (what could be more exciting for young boys?!) Look at basins filled with real pigs' organs up close, touch a sea cucumber, visit with cows who had holes into their stomachs (I am sure there is a reasonable explanation why you would do that to a poor beast and I was assured that it did not hurt them...) Pet the sheep, pigs, horses, chicks, donkeys, chickens.....You get the picture. And don't forget the free popcorn!!

This pedal tractor was good practice for William, who has decided that he wants to be a farmer when he grown up (Yeah!) and that I can come and live with him on the farm with all of his animal friends. I am sure that this dream will go through many changes as he grows up, but I must say that I am LOVING this farmer stage!!

Did you know that in order to ensure optimum health, teddy bears require regular medical checkups? It is true - no lies. In fact, because of the subtlety of their communication styles, Teddies often endure illness or injury unknown to their owners, devoted and loving though they may be. Good thing the College Royal comes around every year, where Teddies can be thoroughly examined by trained (or in training) professionals and treated for any presenting conditions. Below are our Teddies recovering from their various procedures, and feeling much better.

Here is William Checking out some E Coli through the microscope - lots of fun!

Max and and Charlie were a little tired (understatement) by this point in the afternoon, so they had a little rest while William burned off the rest of his energy.

All in all, I cannot think of enough good things to say about the College Royal. Not only was it full of wonderful things to do, hands on learning and neat things to explore, it was free and local. We will definitely be doing this again next year.

As an end note, one of the best parts of the day for me was how many wonderful friends I ran into from the GHG. When we began homeschooling it was because we felt that it was (and is) the best way to approach our kids' education and upbringing. I never anticipated how many wonderful other families that I would meet in the process, and how my own social network would grow. I hope that you all enjoyed the day as much as we did!!

Now, after dinner and a quick bath, it is off to bed for the boys. I might even get some 'me time' out of the day!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Maple Syrup Time!

We headed out today for our annual Maple Syrup pilgrimage.....what a lovely day to be out. I tried to convince William to come to Mountsberg with me again this year to their Maple Town, but I got the look (Man, they start with that young!) and an indignant "Mom, I already know how to make maple syrup!" So do I, but still......Anyway, it was a lovely day to be exploring the back roads trying to find the perfect place to buy my yearly stash.

We came across these three boys selling on the road side, and I couldn't resist. I won't even tell you how much of the stuff I brought home. I don't smoke and I rarely drink, but I do admit to having a syrup problem. The boy on the left was the appointed spokesperson to deal with the crazy lady toting a camera and asking for "just a few litres" - I am sure he lost a bet, or something. Anyway, he was wonderfully polite, and had a lovely accent. He could have charged me a ridiculous amount of money and I probably wouldn't have blinked. We pulled away with a stock pile of liquid gold in the van, and big sticky smiles on our faces.

After that we headed over to visit the boys' Great Grandpa Ed (who we could not see because of all sorts of stomach upsets going around the retirement home where he lives) and to visit the Lego store. The boys love Lego. LOVE IT! It always amazes me how much time they can spend putting little colored blocks together, and the detailed 'creations' that they come up with. Of course the only problem with all of that creativity is that William has a hard time taking the pieces apart again, leading to dozens of space ships, castles, land rovers, robots, etc. covering every flat surface of the house.....

The Lego store is the best of both worlds for us that way - William can build to his hearts content, and I don't have to worry about it coming home with us and taking over the kitchen table, the dresser, the top of the TV cabinet, the bathroom floor......you get the picture. I love the look of absolute concentration on his face in this picture - perhaps he is an engineer in the making?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What we are reading today

Absolutely nothing better than to wake up in the morning, snuggle up with two lovely little boys, and a good book. Here is what our little clan is reading today....

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (thanks Bon - GREAT choice for book club!)
Radical Simplicity by Dan Price (interesting and inspiring, but a little.....radical)

The Hardy Boys and the Mummy Case by Franklin Dixon (always a classic)
The Secrets of Droon - The Chariot of Queen Zara (absolutely painful - I will be so glad when he can read these ones for himself!!!)

The Fire Fighters Counting Book by Polly Curren (LOVE the Little Golden Books)
Scooby-Doo and the Surf Scare by Michelle Nagler (what can you say about Scooby-Doo?)

Hope you are enjoying a good read too, somewhere in your day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome Spring!!

Couldn't resist sharing this little taste of spring - the first snow drop blooms from the garden.

First trail walk of spring!!

We headed out in the beautiful semi-sunshine this afternoon to stretch our legs, and remember what it feels like to be outdoors without 12 layers of clothing on. What a beautiful feeling! The Elora Cataract trailway runs close by our home, and it was a great and not-too-muddy way to get started again. Although it would be a stretch to call it a 'hike', it was still a wonderful afternoon.

Apparently there is nothing as appealing to a little boy as a puddle (although the trail leading off into the woods was a close second). Of course, if you happen to have a stick in your hand, so much the better. I think that Charlie could have spent all afternoon fishing for gunk in that puddle, with a great big smile on his face.
As excited as we all are about Spring arriving in earnest over the next month or so, I have to admit that the little bit of snow left over really made me appreciate how lovely these last few warm days have been given that it is still only the middle of March. A beautiful white winter (hopefully) behind us, and a green, warm spring just around the corner. Such a blessing.

Here we go....

I guess that one would have to question the wisdom of someone who has such a hate-hate relationship with computers attempting to start a blog, but what the hell - why not catch up with the times, right? My hope is that this will be a way to keep more in touch with friends and family who might want more regular updates on William and Charlie's adventrues, or who might just want some sort of distraction from the work that they are really supposed to be doing on the computer.

I cannot guarantee that I will post all that regularely, but I am going to try. It will be so nice to have a place where Jim, the boys and I can look back on all the wonders of these years, so I will try to keep it full of up to date photos and posts.

For all of you who have been nagging for me to get on Facebook, this is the best that you are going to get - Enjoy!