Friday, October 29, 2010


Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation... tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
~Jean Arp

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Force - Crash Cars

This was the second week of our science co-op, and we had a visit from the local university to talk to the group about force. After learning about the engineering cycle, the kids discussed the different safety features that are built into cars, and then tried their hands at making models out of wood, straws, cotton balls, Popsicle sticks, newspaper, and lots and lots of tape! The goals was to create a car that would keep a water balloon protected when it was sent careening down a ramp and crashing into a brick wall. What fun!!

Each team made very different looking cars, but they all did the job. At the end of the trials, not a single balloon was broken...until, of course, the kids got their hands on them and started hurling them across the parking lot!!

Physics was never so much fun when I was a kid!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Recycling - The Next Generation

I think that by now we all have a good handle on basic recycling. Bottles and cans, newspapers and plastic bag. We try to cut down on the 'stuff' that we buy, and reuse what we can. I am infinitely hopeful for our world when I see how naturally it comes to the kids. It is a small thing, but a small thing moving us in the right direction.

Lately we have been ramping up our recycling efforts, and I am amazed at how many opportunities there are to put our 'garbage' to good use. Here are some of the things we have begun re-purposing:

*Newspapers (that they won't stop sending us!!)to the local Humane Society
*Toilet paper rolls to the Early Years Centre to be used for crafts
*Milk bags to be woven into sleeping mats for people in need
*Grocery bags (from when I forget my reusable ones!!) to the local thrift store
*Small plastic bags that newspapers come in to the Humane Society to pick up doggy droppings
*Pop can tabs to a friend (not really sure what he is collecting them for, to be honest!

What are your favorite environmental tips to share?

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. ~Native American Wisdom

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Playing with Clay

There is a lovely little pottery studio beside an office building that I visit regularly, and I have been lusting to go for quite some time. They offer clay throwing and spinning, as well as bisque painting and firing. It has that come-on-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty kind of look, that pulls me in each time.
I haven't made it in on my own yet, but I did manage to bring the boys for some creative time when the shop held its on year anniversary. There was discounted bisque painting, face painting, and even cake and hot dogs. We invited a neighbourhood friend along for the trip, and the kids had a great time.

I often have a hard time getting the boys to do things that could be considered 'crafty', but they both seemed to love this. Each painted 2 pieces, and they would like to go back again. Charlie was a little upset to have to leave his creations there to be fired, but I know that he will be happy with the result when I pick up their masterpieces next week. Here are the 'in-progress' shots. I will flash up a picture of the finished products when we get them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wetlands Study

We seem to be spending a lot of time lately learning about wetlands and groundwater, and how important they are to our environment. Today we headed over to a local conservation area for an educational program sponsored by Ducks Unlimited. We learned what wetlands are, and why they are important as regulators of water levels, habitat for wildlife, and purifiers of air and water. We played a game to demonstrate how the destruction of ponds effects the migration of birds, dipped our hands in a pond, used all of our senses to experience the woods, and went on a trek through the swamp. The kids listened to bird calls, spotted tree frogs, and even a blue salamander.

Here are some links that may be interesting:

Ducks Unlimited has a great deal of information about wetlands
The Producers, Consumers, Decomposers Game is a fun on-line game for kids that talks about food chains.
The Herbivore, Carnivore, Omnivore Game
Frogwatch Ontario

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yellow Fish Road

We've been wanting to do this project for a fact, I have had the materials stashed away in the spare bedroom since May. Today, finally, we invited a friend over, got out our brushes, and hit the streets.

The Yellow Fish Road Project , sponsered by Trout Unlimited Canada, is designed to raise awareness in our neighbourhoods about how pollution through storm drains effects our local bodies of water and the wildlife that lives in them. By painting yellow fish and the words 'rainwater only' beside storm drains on our street, the kids are hoping to remind people that anything that goes down the storm drain (soapy water, fertilizer, oil, paint, etc) goes directly, untreated, into our streams, ponds and lakes. Yuck!

Although the stencil and paint didn't come out as clearly as we would have hoped, the kids enjoyed themselves. They were excited to deliver the yellow fish door hangers to homes, and brushing away the leaves from the drains before painting.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Rotation

This is one of those posts that offers a painfully obvious to everyone else but me hint. Still, it is always nice to share.

We have a lot of books in our home. I mean a lot. All of this selection, though, leads to a problem. First of all, it can be difficult when you are trying to find that one special book that the kids really, really want for bedtime tonight, and it doesn't matter that it is already 9:45 and Mama just wants them to sleep!!!!!!!!!! Ahem.

It also leads to a bit of book boredom. They see the same books around all of the time, and they start to loose their appeal. So, a year or so ago it finally dawned on me to rotate the books - especially books themed around holidays or seasons.

Today we cracked open our Halloween box full of decorations, stickers, and (of course) books!! The kids were thrilled to find all of these 'new' books, and we spent the afternoon decorating, planning costumes, and doing a lot of reading.

By the way...don't you love it when big brothers help out reading bedtime stories?? And when younger brothers are patient with beginning readers? I love my boys!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Knitting Corner - Before and After

I have to say that I am rather proud of myself these days. I have actually started my Christmas knitting in September, and not on December 19th!! Still, as I went to get some wool this morning to cast on a lovely pair of ********* (that would spoil the surprise, now, wouldn't it?) I came across this:

Sigh. Somewhat discouraging. So I put my needles down and went to work. After a half hour of sorting, winding, tossing, and storing, I managed to get to this:

Much better!! And now for those lovely new *******.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Education Paradigms

">Sir Ken Robinson's talk on changing education paradigms is another one of his great talks one educational reform. I found this one on a friends blog (Thanks Karen!)and had to post it hear, too!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Day

Charlie was thrilled to be old enough to start Beavers with his big brother William this year. So was Mama - a whole hour each week with both kids otherwise engaged!!! They have been meeting new friends, playing games, and doing crafts together every Monday night for the past 4 weeks.

Today, however, was special - Apple Day!! This is the biggest fundraiser that the troupe does, and goes something like this...

Shine the apples...

Sell the apples...

And try not to get too grumpy when you find out you can't keep the money!!

Hope you are all having an applicious Saturday!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Science Co-op - liquid density

This year, as well as our usual engagements, the boys have joined a science co-op. This group of about 13 kids (ages 4 - 8) will get together every two weeks to play with 'science'. The organizer of the group has arranged for the scientists-in-schools groups from 2 local universities to come and help us explore. We are looking forward to learning about force using crash cars, exploring solar energy, and more topics (that I can't seem to remember right now!).

Today was our first get together, and the kids learned about liquid density. It was a small enough group that everyone fit around a table, and the leader of the group was relaxed, knowledgeable, and friendly. We are so excited that this little group came along - it will serve as the basis of our science 'curriculum' for the year, and will be a nice way for the kids to spend some time with friends on a regular basis.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chess and Checkers Club

Today was the first gathering of our groups chess and checkers club. This co-op started last year, and it is basically a chance for the kids to get together and play a few games of chess and checkers with other kids. Today I joined in the fun (nothing like getting your butt kicked in chess by a 7 year old!!) and then retreated to the couch to visit and knit. I harp on about this whole homeschooling-and-time thing a lot, so feel free to skip this post if you like. But really, it does come down to time!!! I cannot imagine having my kids at school for 6-7 hours a day, fitting in homework, dinner, chores and sleep, and still find the time to get together with friends to play games. But what a loss it would be to miss out on this sort of thing. The kids played a few leisurely games together. Some kids played for 2 hours, some for 20 minutes. Then they strayed off to run around the back yard, snack in the kitchen, or visit the chickens (which, in all honesty,deserve a post of their own!!). They were focused, relaxed, and enjoyed each others company. What a great way to spend and afternoon! Will it lead them all directly to highly fulfilling and well paid jobs? Probably not. But is sure was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
~Albert Einstein

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pie Wonderful Pie

Thanksgiving Dinner really wouldn't be the same without pie. Apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, I am really not that picky. Any pie will do. This year I thought I would try a new recipe for pecan pie, and found the one below on It does not call for any corn syrup, the turned out lovely because of it - just the right amount of sweetness without making your teeth hurt. I did use far more nuts than the recipe called for, and it was a hit.

On a related but totally different note, the boys and I have become part of a local social justice and volunteering co-op within our home school group. Basically, it is a group of families who are all interested in helping our kids to become more active in our communities (locally and globally) and taking on projects that can help to make our world a better place. We are called The Change-Makers - can I tell you how much I love the name?!?! Anyway, here is the connection: another mom who is part of the Change Makers posted about a community Thanksgiving Dinner for people in need where she and her kids were volunteering as servers. They asked if any of us were interested in helping with the cooking.......gee, a community dinner, a new pecan pie recipe, kids who love to get their hands on the rolling pin......

The end result was an evening spent in a house full of kids (mine the the neighbours), lots of fun, a delicious smelling home, and six proudly made pecan pies ready to go to others who will enjoy them. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Pecan Pie

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl beat the eggs until foamy. Beat in melted butter, sugars, and flour. Lastly, add milk, vanilla, and chopped pecans (saving some pecans to garnish the top).

Pour into an unbaked 9-inch pie shell and top with remaining pecans.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 - 40 minutes until centre of the pie is set.

Serve warm or cool, with fresh whipped cream, ice cream, or just a big glass of milk.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Fair

Each year out little town hosts one heck of a wonderful Fall Fair. It acts as a great anchor for Thanksgiving weekend. Our family comes from all around to take in the fair and to gather together for dinner. The kids start the countdown weeks in advance, peering in to the fair grounds each time we past, looking for signs of the set up. They make crafts, save their money to buy ride tickets, and even tolerate Mama's cooking frenzy making breads and cookies to take.

As for the weekend itself, we could happily spend all weekend there. There are lots of animals, displays, games, and rides. Not to mention the food - french fries from the Optimist Club, maple syrup cotton candy, burgers with fried onions, and apple cider or chocolate milk.

Here are a few pictures from our day at the fair with my mother, my sister, and her family.

Friday, October 8, 2010

How To Raise Boys Who Read

How To Raise Boys Who Read

Thought I would share this great article on boys and reading.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I woke up this morning with the whole day planned out. We were going to have a mostly home-day, with only a short trip to the grocery store. Picture family peace and domestic bliss. I even had a blog post drafting in my mind - one of those homey, slightly inspiring posts about all of the nice wonderful things I managed to do with the boys cheerfully at my side. Perhaps a beautiful photo of fresh flowers in a vase on the clean kitchen table, a recipe or two of the delicious home made goodies I had made. Table time completed willingly, and crafts for the upcoming fall fair sitting proudly on the shelf. Instead, I spent most of the afternoon and evening having a battle of wills with a five-year-old. Who drew on the book shelf. With marker. Did I mention that the shelf was made of unfinished pine?

So here is the deal...I managed, barely, to not scream and yell (at least at first) and asked him to work with me to clean it up. To which he replies 'no'. Repeatedly 'NO'. He then went into a list of the reasons why he could not clean it up - his sore hand, the fact that it was not his bookshelf and therefor not his responsibility, that he was too tired, that Mama should do it if I wanted it clean, that it could wait until tomorrow, that it was just a dumb bookshelf, the fact that he didn't like me anyway and wouldn't even give me a hug when I got home from work tomorrow......

Don't you love those days???? I would like to say that I handled it all with gentle loving kindness and womanly finesse. I held onto the finesse thing for a while, but it really came down to "stay in your room until you clean the books off of the shelf so we can deal with it, or until you are ready to ask me nicely for help and then we will do it together.

The end result.....a book shelf with lovely green drawings on top, which he did eventually deal with, but that will need a good coat of paint to fully address. I have been 'forgiven' for getting grumpy at him (how dare I!!) and am in his good books again, although my day of domestic bliss has somehow evaporated. I manged to make some red pepper jelly in the middle of things, but somehow the joy of the process was lost amidst the stamping of little feet and the chorus of 'bad mommy!!"

Some days motherhood really is overrated, don't you think?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Heritage Harvest Festical

For the past few years we have visited a local museum in the fall for their heritage harvest festival. This year Grammy joined us (which was lovely!) and we all had a great afternoon:

Learning about iron work:

Watching the harvest:

Playing in a hay boat:

Making rope:

Sheering sheep:

Climbing trees:

And riding ponies.

Not only do I love this festival every year, it always inspires me to come home and bake an apple pie, or knit socks, or start a quilt... I am so easily influenced....