Friday, April 30, 2010


We are very lucky to have a perfect little spot to hike just up the road from our home. We rediscovered it last year, and have been loving it ever since. This time of year especially it is magical - the forest floor is blanketed with Trilliums. William, Charlie and I spent some time there this week, but I am still hoping to steal away for a bit of time on my own amongst all of the flowers - maybe this weekend.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Bad Lands

About 20 minutes down the road from our home are the most amazing clay hills - known in our family as the Bad Lands. They are big, red, rolling, and other-worldly, and the kids love to play there. We invited a group of friends from our home school group out for the afternoon and everyone had a blast. William and Charlie are familiar enough with this place and the trails around it that we have a "stay within hearing range" rule only - they jumped out of the car, waited impatiently for a few minutes until their friends showed up (old ones and new!!) and then took off down the hills and into the woods. It is great to see them so comfortable there, and to eavesdrop in on their games - there was much talk of spies and pirates in their play today.

I also saw again how lucky our kids are to have the time to explore like this. While we were at the hills, a school bus stopped by and about 30 high school aged kids piled out. They walked across the top of the hills, read the signs, took in the view, and then loaded back into the bus after about 10 minutes. In their defence, they may have been on their way to something else far more interesting (?) but even William commented on how sad it was that the didn't stay to play.
We are lucky indeed!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rhubarb Cake

I love rhubarb. I love that it is the first harvest from our garden every spring. I love watching the boys run around with 'elephant ears' made out of rhubarb leaves held up to their heads. I love how it grows so well without any help from me. I love that this plant was a gift from my mother-in-law Jean, and has been growing here since we bought our home 11 years ago. I love that it is from a plant that grew in her yard for many, many years before that.

And, I love rhubarb cake.

This recipe is nothing fancy, and the final product is not what you would call 'pretty'. But is it very moist, just the right combination of sweet-tart, and a wonderful way to enjoy the rhubarb bounty!!

Rhubarb Cake

1 1/2 cup thinly sliced rhubarb
1 c brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 - 2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup apple sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bakign soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour

Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg, salt, vanilla, soda, cinnamon, and applesauce, and flour. Stir in rhubarb. Spread into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan (batter will be thick) and sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375 for 30 - 35 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Food, Glorious Food!

Today we visited a local organization that packages up food for families in need. We have been trying to take on more volunteer work as a family, and this was perfect. Along with a group of families from our homeschool group, we spent almost two hours packing up 5 skids of food boxes. We all had a great time, and are excited about going back again. This type of work was a great way to introduce kids to helping out. It is concrete, allows for time to chat with friends, and has enough different 'stations' that there was room to change up jobs if someone started to get bored. Most of all, it was wonderful to look on the huge stacks of full boxes ready to go out to families who need it. I was thrilled at how focussed the kids were able to stay on the job at hand. Best of all, they were as proud of their hard work as I was.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Flowers For Grammy

To celebrate my mothers birthday, William, Charlie and I went down to her home for a visit. We spent the day helping out with a few chores around the house, and then taking Grammy to a local nursery to pick out some spring flowers. Dinner out was a treat, then back to her place to plant the flowers and have chocolate cup cakes with candy icing! It was a lovely day for all of us, and a great way to celebrate a very special day.

Happy Birthday, Grammy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Clean Up

To celebrate a (somewhat belated) Earth Day, we joined up with a friend from the neighbourhood to clean up the roadside by where we live. We were surprised at how much garbage there was lying around, especially since this little bit of town doesn't see all that much traffic. Most irritating, though, was the number of 'doggie bags' lying in the ditches. Really. if you are going to go to the trouble to poop and scoop, please, please put the darn bags in the garbage!!!! Wrapping it up in plastic and then tossing the bag into the ditch is counter productive, don't you think? The boys were rather upset by having to pick up after someone elses dog. I believe that a letter to the culprit via our local newspaper might be in order. We were all rather disgusted with the litter bugs around by the time we finished, but glad that we were able to clean up our little part of the world.

I hope that you were able to enjoy this earth day (shouldn't every day be Earth Day?) enjoying the sunshine, fresh air, and beauty wherever you found yourself.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Black Violin

This morning we say a violin concert like we have never seen before Black Violin. We all loved it!! Apart from it being way too loud for little ears, the show was great.

From their web site:
Combining a daunting array of musical styles and influences to produce a signature sound that is not quite maestro, not quite emcee, this group of two classically trained violinists and their DJ is redefining the music world-one string at a time. With influences ranging from Shostakovich and Bach to Nas and Jay-Z, Black Violin breaks all the rules, blending the classical with the modern to create something rare-a sound that nobody has ever heard, but that everybody wants to feel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Painting Ecuador

Our home school group's annual World Expo is fast approaching, and we have been starting to prepare our display about Ecuador. Here is a little sneak peek of Charlie hard at work...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rattle Snake Point

Today was such a special day - for the first time, ever, I took my boys to Rattle Snake Point. This beautiful spot on the Niagara Escarpment is one of my favorite places to hike. I have such wonderful memories of coming here with Jim before we were married - exploring the forest, or just relaxing and enjoying the view. William, Charlie and I often go hiking together, but this spot just seemed too dangerous for my little rock climbers, given how high the escarpment is, how steeply it falls away, and how close the trail runs to the edge. We had a very serious talk before we got out of the car about this being one forest where the boys needed to stay within sight (as opposed to the usual within hearing range) and that I was expecting absolute obedience - no second chances. I had prepared myself that I did in fact need to be willing to leave if they couldn't listen, but they both did great and we had a wonderful time. They both seemed to feel right away how important this place is to me (and now to them!) and also how it needed to be respected.

To make the day even more special, the boys each found a sacred place of their own here - William found a small stream trickling out of the rocks at the bottom of the cliff, and Charlie found a just-challenging-enough rock slide that felt perfect for him. Right away these places have become their own.

I can't even begin to tell you how happy I am to be able to come here again. I am for the most part accepting of all of the sacrifices that Motherhood requires. Still, to be able to spend time here again, and now to be able to share it with the two most important people in my life, is really a blessing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Today I am thankful for:

*Trilliums almost ready to bloom
*Charlie wishing that he could be a little baby again, so that he could ride in his sling (we settled for lots of cuddles in bed, instead)
*Fresh pumpkin bread cooling on the counter
*Sharing a good read with my little ones
*Friends coming over to play
*The smile on William's face when I told him that he was responsible for making me a Mama
*Sweet Peas and shelling peas planted in the garden (better late than never!)
*The calender filling up with summer plans
*The first back yard fire of the season
*A Chapters gift card burning a hole in my purse
*Eating lunch out on the back deck
*The smell of sunshine in the kids hair and skin

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Farm, Friends and Fun

This afternoon the rain that was forcast held off and we went over to visit with some friends who live on a farm just outside of town. We always have such a great time with this family, especially now that the kids are old enough to play on their own and the Mamas get a chance to visit, too!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Goodness

I am of the general opinion that home made anything is better than commercially produced. For some things, home made is a little better. For others, there is just no comparison. Chocolate Pudding is one of those things. If you have never had home made pudding (chocolate and tapioca are our family favorites) you really don't know what you are missing. I am not talking about the rather bland, gelatinous goop that comes in a small plastic cup from the grocery. Not even the powdered stuff that you 'cook' up yourself at home. I mean the real, honest to goodness, decadent, creamy and still warm from the pot delicacy.

Today as a special treat, I made up some home made chocolate pudding and fresh whipped cream for desert. 'Cause I don't want to be greedy with something this special, here is the recipe.

Chocolate Pudding

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup warm water
Chocolate (optional)
2 cups cream or milk (divided)
3 Tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 Tsp vanilla

Combine the sugar, cocoa, salt and warm water in a pot. Whisk over medium heat until combined. Remove from heat and stir in additional chocolate, if desired. I tend to use up a little bit of whatever chocolate we have around the house - today it was milk chocolate Easter eggs. Just add a few, and stir until melted. Return to heat, and whisk in 1 3/4 cups cream or milk. The original recipe calls for 10% cream, which is truly heavenly, but I usually use 2% milk and it is still wonderful. Whisk together the remaining milk and corn starch, and then whisk that into the chocolate mixture. Stir over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Let cool slightly, but it really is best served warm. Quick, easy, and fabulous. What else could you ask for?

Responses to the fresh chocolate pudding and whipped cream:
William: God bless home made!!
Charlie: I want to marry this stuff!!!
Need I say more?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A New Look at an Old Trail

We had such a great day today, exploring a local forest trail with friends. We have been to this trail before, but only a time or two. The family that we went with goes there often, and have really made it their own. They were thrilled to show us around, and we all loved the guided tour. We saw snake hill (and three garter snakes), the tree hotel, the island, Yoda's hut, the hook, the tree maze, and a beautiful meadow where we stopped for lunch. Most of all, there were lots of trees to climb!!!

I loved watching the kids today (there were 6 in all) and how at home they were in the forest. They all virtually flew up the trees, exhilarated by how high they could climb, and the beautiful views from the top. When they were tired, they found a branch to stretch out on, or a sunny patch in the meadow to lay back in the grass. There was the occasional scratch and even a fall into the creak, but no tears - all part of a day in the woods. I am so thankful that we have the time and space to enjoy nature so close to home, and good friends to share it with.

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
~Henry David Thoreau

How many kids can you spot in the tree?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bailey's is Open!!!

One of the true rites of summer in our little town is the start of visits to Bailey's Ice Cream Shop. This little shop ( you know the type - a little bit of wood attached onto the side of another building, closed in the winter because of lack of heating....)is the place to be whenever the sun is shining. Bailey's opened for the season a week or two ago, but for all sorts of reasons we had to put off our first visit. Today, as my hubby was napping in preparation for an overnight shift at work, the boys and I decided that it was time to celebrate the season. On the menu: Dutch Chocolate, Blue Bubble Blast, and Tiger Tail. Yum!! I imagine that this was the first visit of many, many more this summer!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Adults Can Learn From Kids

I thought that I would share the link to this Ted Talks speaker and prolific author who, at only 12 years of age, has a lot to say. Adora Svitak has been a short story writer and blogger since she was 7 years old, and now speaks across the USA in her campaign for literacy. Here is a snippet from the talk:

Who's to say that certain types of irrational thinking aren't exactly what the world needs? Maybe you've had grand plans before, but stopped yourself, thinking: That's impossible or that costs too much or that won't benefit me. For better or worse, we kids aren't hampered as much when it comes to thinking about reasons why not to do things. Kids can be full of inspiring aspirations and hopeful thinking, like my wish that no one went hungry or that everything were free kind of utopia. How many of you still dream like that and believe in the possibilities? Sometimes a knowledge of history and the past failures of utopian ideals can be a burden because you know that if everything were free, that the food stocks would become depleted, and scarce and lead to chaos. On the other hand, we kids still dream about perfection. And that's a good thing because in order to make anything a reality, you have to dream about it first.

Adora Svitak on Ted Talks

Adora's Blog

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Griffin!

This past weekend we celebrated the first birthday of my newest little nephew, Griffin James. He has grown so much over the past year - and reminds me of my own little ones at that age (so long ago!!) The weekend was filled with friends, family, and food. Thought that I would share a few pics...