Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day

It made me sad today to see how few people came out to our little town's remembrance day parade and ceremony.  I understand that our lives are busy, and that people's time is precious.  I understand that the world wars happened "a long time ago", and that many kids go to assemblies in their schools this time of year.  I also know that I cry every year as they read out the names of the soldiers who have died, not to mention the millions of others whose lives have been forever changed because of battle.
I am not in favour of war.  I don't think that it is the way for us to solve our problems, and I believe that often those who stand to gain the most from battle, and those who stand to lose the most, are two separate groups.  Nonetheless, the sacrifice that soldiers, and their families make is incredible.  I  think of the thousands of mothers who have watched their sons, not too terribly much older than my boys, go off to war and never come back.  I think of those men and women in battle, cold and lonely and hurt, miles away from home.  I think of those people who came home from war, whole on the outside but irrevocably injured on the inside.
Regardless of your personal views of warfare, lets not forget the people who this day is in memory of.  This day is not about political protest.  It is not about international affairs, or oil prices, or  conspiracy theories. It is about people, and lost lives.  They are worth a few hours of your time on a November Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Listen to the musn'ts child...

Listen to the MUSTN'T's, child
Listen to the DON'Ts
Listen to the SHOULDN'Ts
Listen to the NEVER HAVEs
Then listen close to me,
ANYTHING can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kitchen scale...

Apparently this is what happens when you leave a scale out around my house...

All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better.
                    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Making Soap

The boys have been looking forward to the annual home school group Christmas Craft Sale for a while now.  Last year was the first year that they participated, and it was a highlight of the season.  They have been planning, pricing, designing, and crafting their little hearts out.  Today, we made a family project out of making soap.  The lye in it is a little too dangerous to use around little people, but they love helping out before and after that step.  I think that making your own soap is one of those crazy ``Ì wish I was born 100 years ago`` things that I like to do.  It likely ends up costing more than just running to  the store to pick up a bar of Ivory, but I do love it, and the end product is much nicer than store-bought.   Oh well, Jim tends to humour me and the kids do to.  Not to mention that it is a great seller at the craft sale!

This is candy cane soap scented with peppermint essential oil, and tomorrow we are going to make oatmeal, almond and honey soap.  Yum!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Charlie is a White Tail!!

I have gabbed here before about how much William and Charlie love Beavers and Cubs.  It is the only class / club / group that they have consistently enjoyed since they started.   William is loving Cubs this year (especially the camping trips) and Charlie is in Beavers.  It is a favorite evening out for both of them, and for me - a whole hour to myself!!!

Tonight was Charlie's investiture ceremony, where he traded in his Blue Tail for a White Tail.  No more fooling around - having a white tail comes with a lot of responsibility!!  Helping out the younger kids, knowing your promises and all of the rules for the opening and closing ceremonies, and being able to pat the special beavers head at the beginning of the hour respectfully rather than bonking him on the head.

Charlie was so proud of himself, and so was I.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Turtle Tally Volunteer Appreciation Day!

The boys and I have taken part in Turtle Tally for the past few years.  It is a research program through the Toronto Zoo aimed at gathering information to help preserve and protect native species of Ontario turtles.  (They also run Frog Watch).  Basically, every time you see a turtle, you log into their web site and record where and when you saw the turtle, what it was doing, photos if you were able to get them, etc.  When you register they send you some great identification sheets to help you figure out what kind of turtle you are seeing, and you can access their data on line as well.  The boys have loved being involved in 'real science', and have definitely developed a love of turtles.

Today Turtle Tally hosted their annual appreciation day at the Toronto Zoo.  We heard all about the results of the data gathered this year, saw some great photos, and learned a lot about he wild life that you can still find in our part of the province.

Friday, November 2, 2012


The boys love playing with the GPS, especially when there is a treasure at the end of their search.  Today we went with Friday Friends to the Guelph lake nature centre to do a little geocaching.  It unfortunately ended with some grumpy, cold kids (apparently we have been up way too late this week!!) but I thought I would share some links anyway.  This is such a great way to explore the woods with kids...

Official Geocaching Site

Ontario Geocaching Association

Geocaching Kids

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!

Hope you all had a spooky Halloween!

I peer outside, there's something there
That makes me shiver, spikes my hair
It must be Halloween!
                         ~Eve Bunting

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Williams Chicken Noodle Soup

William has been interested in cooking lately, which is a huge help around here.  His current favorites are tacos and shortbread cookies.  While he still needs someone in the general vicinity, he can pretty much tackle those on his own. 

Today he wanted to try his hand at something new, and decided that chicken noodle soup was it.  It turned out wonderfully, and was the best dinner I could ask for on a cold and blustery day.

Here is the recipe in case you have some chefs in your home:

Williams Chicken Noodle Soup

2 1/2 cups skinny egg noodles
12 cups chicken broth
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, pealed and sliced
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 whole chicken, cooked and chopped

Cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water.  Drain and rinse.

In a large saucepan, combine broth, poultry seasoning, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then add carrots, onion and celery.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water.  Gradually add to soup, stirring constantly.  Stir in noodles and chicken, and then heat through.

Great with biscuits or crusty rolls!

Home Day!!!!!!!

I have been feeling a bit over-worked lately, with too much time out of the house.  Even when I am home, I seem to be stuck on hyper speed trying to get caught up on everything that needs to be done around here, cramming in some work stuff whenever I can, and trying desperately to get some lessons into the mix.  It feels like a long time since we have had a real, relaxing, exactly as I like it, home-day.

Not that it should really take a huge storm to get me back on track, but every once in a while I need a bit of a kick in the pants to get my priorities back in line.  Today, as the wind howled outside and the rain flew at the windows, the boys and I had one of the best days we have had in a long time.  (Jim, poor fellow, slept in the morning and then went off to work.  I am not ignoring him, I swear!!).

We began the day with a lovely sleep in - always a good start.  After breakfast, William went for a walk around the neighbourhood to check out any damage from the storm last night.  We spent a good part of the morning by the front window, watching as a work crew took down a huge old tree that had upended in the storm and reducing it to firewood in less than 2 hours.  We had a relaxed lunch, and then did some math and geography lessons.  Halloween cookie baking was next on the list, a quick trip out the grocery store in town for a some essentials, and then downstairs to read by the fire for a few hours.  William made a great dinner of chicken noodle soup and biscuits for all of us, then we were back downstairs by the fire for a board game.  We even made it into bed in time for lots of stories (with all of us taking turns reading), and lights out in enough time that I am sitting here blogging instead of crashed in my own bed.

I LOVE days like this!!

I think that I should find a way to flag this post for days to come, when my 'real life' hits me full in the face and I feel overworked, rushed, and overwhelmed.  There has got to be a way to make this wonderful day less of an oddity and more of our family 'normal'.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Play With Clay

Charlie especially loves getting hands into crafting, and one of his favorite places to create is Play With Clay, a pottery studio in Guelph.  It tends to be a bit too far out of our rather tight budget these days, but today was their annual open house with great deals (and free cake, too!)

It is always interesting to see how different 2 boys can be, coming from the same parents and the same home.  Charlie picked out his piece (a little Halloween decoration), slopped some orange paint on it, went for a piece of cake, and was happy to sit and watch the rest of the action going on around him.

William, on the other hand, spent the better part of an hour carefully working through the different colors that he wanted on his bowl (in multiple coats, of course).  That boy is nothing if not meticulous.

Regardless of their different approaches, they both had a great time and can't wait until next week when they can pick up their final products, glazed and fired.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Little Things

It really is the little things in life that bring a smile to may face - things like coming out of the office to find that Charlie has done the dishes for me!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Family History

I come from a family of wonderful historians, story tellers, and collectors.  It makes me so happy to be able to read journal entries made by my great, great grandfather,  to cook using favorite recipes from my Grandmother, or to hold the steamer blanket used by our relatives on the ship as they sailed to Canada.  We have hand written copies of family genealogy going back many generations, and a lot of things that reflect our history. 

Unfortunately, after all of these generations, those wonderful things have tended to accumulate into more than can be kept and still have room for ourselves in family homes.

Recently, in preparation for a move, my mother had the great idea of donating some of our family heirlooms to a small museum in the town of Otterville, where my grandfather and aunt were born.  Their family was very involved and well connected to that little town so many years ago, and the little rural museum was thrilled to have some more artifacts for their collection.

Today the boys and I went on a little road trip with my mother to see the museum and their family history now on display.

We also stopped at the town park, which my great grandparents were instrumental in building.  The boys' favorite story was hearing about their great grandfather Papa (my mothers father) being the first one into the river in the spring.  

Lastly, we stopped by the home where Papa was born. What a beautiful day, and a beautiful way to give the kids a real sense of how important their heritage is.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Fair

Another wonderful Thanksgiving wekend spent at the Fall Fair with family and friends, then home to turkey and all of the trimmings. I hope that you all had a great long weekend, too!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Guelph Lake Hike

Our Friday Friends group went to the Guelph lake Nature Centre today for a water study that didn't end up happening (darn scheduling conflicts!!).  But never fear, we all went for a hike instead and had fun.  There was hiking, birdwatching, fort building, tree climbing...

And, of course, rolling down the side of the really big reservoir hill.

Is it just me, or did this activity seem significantly more fun at 9 years old than at 39?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Strange Days Indeed

I am sure you are all sick to death of hearing about the crazy weather these past few months.  In our little part of Ontario we spent most of the summer months with almost no rain.  A little worrisome, to say the least.  Never one to miss the silver lining in such 'minor' catastrophes as global warming, William and Charlie decided to take advantage of the situation and explore the bottom of a nearby man made lake that is usually under several feet of water at this time of year.

They found all of the usual rocks, shells, and dried plants...

Some great animal tracks in the mud...

And a few other treasures.  You know, the usual stuff - golf balls, coconuts and golden statues of Ganesha...

Strange days indeed!