Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Flowers

A little bit of spring beauty to liven up the brown....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Garbage Delight

We have been doing a lot of reading lately. Curled up in the chair in the livingroom, tucked into bed at night time or first thing in the morning, on a blanket in the back yard, even at the dinner table. As well as the usual stream of storybooks, Roald Dahl classics, and of course, Harry Potter, we have been beginning to explore poetry. Some classics, beautiful pictures painted with words, poets and genres that are new to us, and some poems just for fun.

I used to love poems by Dennis Lee when I was a child, and now William adn Charlie are enjoying him. Here is the favorite of the day, from Dennis Lee's Garbage Delight:

The Swing

The swing swings up
And the swing swings down
And the swing swings wishing-wings
High above town.

And when I go high
And I feel it sway
I'll hang for a minute
Or hang for a day

And when I go low
And I make it whizz
I'll come down forever
And feel it fizz

But the swing swings up
And the swing swings down
And the swing swings wishing-wings
High above town.

~Dennis Lee

Thursday, March 25, 2010

University Open House

Last year, we managed to mnake it over to the local university's open house for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. This year, we had the whole weekend booked off to enjoy it. We met up with my mother, sister and her kids for Saturday, and explored on our own for Sunday. This year the definite favorite was the Geography Lab - an errosion table, wave simulator and wind tunnel were great. We all also enjoyed cheering on some friends who were competing in the Lego Robotics competition, and exploring the Oceanogrophy Department. We took part in an egg drop (building some protection around an egg so that it could survive a tree story drop) and Charlie was thirlled when his egg came away in one piece! The boys made silly putty, ran an obstacle course, took their teddy bears to be checked out by the veterinary students, ran into many, many good friends!

Simple Pleasures

A few more simple pleasures, and signs of spring....

Pirate Magic (and books!)

My computer and I have not been seeing eye to eye lately, but I did manage to find a few of my photos - sorry to be so long without a post!

Anyway, during the March Break, our local library hosted a few different events for the kids. We went over to enjoy this Pirate Magic Show, which was surprisingly good. I am always impressed with our little library. We are in a very small town, and the library is only about the size of a gymnasium, attached onto the high school / community centre. Still, they have a great selection of books, and a wonderful attitude - I have not yet come across a book that they weren't able to get for me within a week. If it is not on their shelves, they will find it elsewhere and get it in as soon as they can. The staff are wonderful, and know us all by name. (They also let me take out books even when I have an obscenely large fine outstanding on my card!) This past month, we brought in the catalogue for our new favorite store, a distributor of books and audio books, with our selections circled in colorful marker. We will see if they can fulfill some of our wish list.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Missing In Action

We really have been 'in action' lately, but unfortunately my computer and I are having a disagreement as to where my photos are hidden, and I can't seem to get them onto the blog. Sooooo, I will have to do with words until I can have my hubby search them out for me. In the mean time, we have hit the local library for a Pirate Magic show, enjoyed the amazing spring weather with friends and family, and spent a great weekend at the local University's open house (always a favorite!). The kids played with star fish, looked at baby tad poles through a microscope, watched some friends compete in a Lego Robotics competition, had sword fights, listened to stories from Zambia, went to the teddy bear surgery, the petting zoo, and much more. This year the favorite was the geography lab - they played for most of the afternoon with they erosion table, wave box, and wind tunnel, and chatted up the professor about the practical applications of all that fun stuff. I will post the pictures as soon as I beat the computer into submission.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Visiting Grandpa

We stopped in to visit my Grandfather this morning with my sister and her two kids, Max and Tory. I feel so blessed to have had, and to still have, my grandparents so close to me in my life. I love that my kids know not only their grandparents, but also some of their great grandparents. My grandfather is not doing as well lately as he has in the past. He relies mostly on his wheelchair to get around, and some days he is more able to remember people than others. He seems somehow a little lost since my Grandmother died last year. He always loves to see the kids, though.

The kids enjoy the visits, especially when Grandpa is able to answer their questions, and ask them about what they have been doing. For my sister and I, the visits sometimes feel a little bitter sweet. We both remember visiting the farm where he lived and worked when we were kids- following Grandpa into the barn while he did the chores, walking to the stream with Aunts Marjorie and Susie, taking Freshie out to the workers in the fields, braving the cold cellar with Grandma to pick out treats. Today Grandpa didn't remember much of that. What he seemed to be feeling, though, was a sense of caring or responsibility for us. He wanted to know if we were married, and what our husbands did for a living. He asked if we owned our homes, and if we had gardens. He seemed to be making sure we were taken care of. I guess there are a lot of different ways to say 'I love you'.

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
-Tich Nhat Hanh

Saint Jacobs Market

The weather here has been beautiful for the past week - sunny and warm during the day, but still cold at night. Perfect maple syrup weather. The boys have told me this year that "we already know how syrup is made, Mom!!" complete with the rolling of the eyes and shaking of the heads, so I couldn't convince them to come to the sugar bush with me again. Instead, we went over to a fairly local Mennonite community and farm market today to find some maple goodies. This market (and town, unfortunately), have become very commercial and touristy in the past years (complete with Walmart and Tim Hortons) but there are still a few genuine vendors at the market who sell their own produce, baking, meats and goodies. We came home with wildflower honey, hand made perigees, summer sausage, maple sugar, and fresh apple fritters. Yum! As for the syrup, they had only 500ml jars today, which is not nearly enough to feed my addiction. But I'm not worried - there are sugar shacks on my way to work next week that are smoking and smelling yummy, and just waiting to sell me a big honkin' jug.....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Good Day

We don't do a whole lot of structured 'academics' around here, but there are a few 'table-time' things that I like to see happening on a regular basis. The main one with William is math. We have been using the Math-U-See curriculum, and I think it is about the best match for what we are looking for that there is. Still, some times it is a little rough getting it done, leaving me feeling frustrated, discouraged, and just plain grumpy. It also prompts me to write posts like this, and this one. So today I thought, just so that I have something to look at the next time we have one of those days, I would post these pictures. I swear, they have not been digitally altered.

In case you were wondering, the balaclava that Charlie has on is part of the costume he has been wearing for the past few days. Apparently he is the Black Blood. Nice.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Junior First Lego League

William and Charlie have decided to take part in the Junior First Lego League this year. Some friends of ours have participated for the past few years, and my guys are finally old enough to take part. Each year, the kids form teams of 6-9 year olds and are given a challenge that they need to solve / demonstrate using only Lego. Although William was a little unsure at first (in his mind, Lego has always been a solo sport) he is enjoying himself now. This year, the challenge is about transportation - all of the ways that things travel in the course of their lives (from field, to harvest, to manufacturing, to storage, to store, to home...) Our team decided to look into how ice cream gets around - always a good choice, in my mind. They are did some research on-line (including a visit to the Ben and Jerry's site, which is great, and browsed through some great books that explored how things are made. Of course we are all looking forward to a field trip to our favorite local organic daily and ice cream shop.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Back to the Forts

Another beautiful spring day called us outside, so we picked up my sister and her kids and went into the woods to check on some forts that the boys had build in the fall with the boys co-op. The forts had held up wonderfully through the winter, and offered another afternoons fun. Relationships with cousins can be tricky (perhaps a little too close to siblings?) but all ended well, with no one wanting to go home until after a third warning. Alls well that ends well, right?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring Thaw Celebration

A local farm and education centre hosted a Spring Thaw celebration this weekend, and we all enjoyed the fun (and the beautiful weather!) There were lots of animals (inlcuding 1 day old lambs), a maze, gourd bird feeders to make and take home, and grinding grain to make the bird food. William in particular loved grinding the grain - oats, millet, and wheat. He stayed at it until he had ground a whole cup of flour - at least a half hour, and likely more. It was a lot of work for little arms, but he was so proud. We even came away with a cook book and Canadian 2010 almanac as door prizes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Welcome Spring!!

I know that spring isn't really here yet to stay...I am sure that winter has a few more blasts left for us this year, like this nasty bit that we got in April of last year. Still, for the psat few days the weather here has been wonderous. Four degrees above zero and sunny - what more can you ask for in March? It is amazing how our bodies acclimatize to different weather over the winter. The first time it drops to these temeratures in September or October, we run screaming for our coats, gloves, scarves, and boots, and start to contemplate hibernation. By the time March rolls around, it feels absolutely balmy. Here are a few of the tidbits of spring that we enjoyed today.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Solar Lego

Today the boys co-op enjoyed a visit from a science in schools program offered through a local university. The task - build a solar powered car. It was a great chance for the boys to play around with Lego in a new way, and with a challenge for them to focus on. The kids all came up with some great designs to try out, and it was even better to see them shrug and go back to the drawing board when something that they built didn't work out as planned. By the end of the visit, each team had come up with a working design.

The afternoon put William into full Lego swing, and gave him lots of ideas as to how to use the advanced Lego kit we recently bought. He came home and got right to it, building for another hour or so on the living room floor.