Friday, December 6, 2013

Go Storm, Go!

Great night out to a Guelph Storm Hockey game with the boys and their Cubs pack.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Raptor Encounter

Raptor encounter at Mountsberg Raptor Centre - a behind the scenes visit (thanks to my wonderful sister Bonnie who works in the Avian and Exotics department of the University of Guelph Veterinary Teaching Hospital and has some great connections).  The boys had a chance to see the housing, feeding, and care facilities of the center, meet some of the staff, and learn about the eagles, hawks, vultures and owls.  The highlight was, of course, being able to take turns visiting up close with a screech owl.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Little Alice

William has been loving spending time with his 10th Birthday present, Alice.  It has been a great learning experience for all of us about the differences of adopting a puppy as opposed to an adult dog, but she is well worth the effort (most days, anyway).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Beautiful Finds

William has been enjoying the time he and Alice (his new-ish puppy) spend going for walks together and today when they came back he had a beautiful little find with him.  He and Charlie spent a fair bit of time sitting at the kitchen table checking out this moth, looking it up in the field guides, noticing how 'furry' it is, and just admiring its beauty.  Whenever something like this happens I am reminded of a study I once heard / saw (can't remember where or who it was by) noting that most people can easily identify over 100 common brands, but cannot identify even 10 species of trees that grow in their own neighborhoods. I am trying to shift that focus a little bit for our family.  How beautiful our world is, if only we take the time to look at it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tobermory 2013 - The Grotto

One of our favorite places to visit in the summer months is Tobermory, Ontario.  There is great camping, hiking, swimming, and exploring.   This year we went up for a long weekend with my sister and her kids, as well as some other friends.  The more the merrier!!  Here are a few pics.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Gifts in the Mail

Oh wonderful day...not one, but TWO National Geographic Magazines in our mail box today!!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Caramel Corn

Thought I would share a new favorite recipe around here - home made caramel corn!  We first made this for our block party back in the summer, and are glad for any excuse to make it again.  Easy and yummy.  Enjoy!

Caramel Corn
16 cups air popped pop corn
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pop popcorn and put it in a large, lightly greased baking pan in a 250 degree oven to keep warm.

In a large sauce pan, combine butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Book over medium heat stirring constantly until it boils.

Boil for 5 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Pour syrup over warm popcorn and return tot he oven for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from oven and pour onto a foil lines cookie sheet to cool.  Once it is cool, break apart into pieces and enjoy!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Block Party !!!

A big part of my paid employment is about community development - helping people to meet, connect with, and come to care for one another.  It is something that I am passionate about, and that (I think) we do a generally lousy job of these days.  So, in an effort to practice what I preach, the boys and I decided it was time to have a neighborhood party.  Our goal was fairly simple - pick a day, and get everyone in our neighborhood outside so that they could met, play, eat, have fun, and connect with each other. 

The boys helped me to make signs to post around the block, we recruited some of our closest friends on the street to help, made some snacks to share, put up a few balloons, and that was about it!  The results were fabulous.   Lots of visiting and getting to know each other, an impromptu pool part, water fights, great snacks, hola hooping, a bar-b que thanks to Pop, and fire works to end things off.  For the fairly small investment of time and energy that it took, we had a wonderful afternoon with old friends and new ones.  This will definitely need to become a yearly tradition...

It is easy to believe that we are each waves and forget we are also the ocean.
~Jon J. Muth

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Soccer Season is Here!

We are so lucky in our little town to have a great, volunteer run soccer club.  The boys have been a part of it on and off since they were wee little ones, and look forward to it each summer.   They finish up each game hot, tired and happy, and it is a fabulous way for them to meet and connect with some more local kids that they miss meeting in the school system.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bowling, and the drama of cousins

I am so lucky to have an absolutely wonderful sister who is also my best friend.  And I am even more lucky that she has 2 great kids, Max and Tory, and that they live only 1/2 hour away.  Most of the time, the 4 cousins play fairly well together, especially if they can be outside.  But once in a while they go through some challenging times, where somehow the group dynamics don't go all that smoothly.  Lately, it has been the clash between the 3 boys, William, Charlie and Max, and our one lovely girl, Tory, who is also the youngest.  My sister and I try to mediate as much as we can, but it is not always easy to keep the peace. 

Today, Tory was invited to a birthday party for one of her girlfriends, so Bonnie and I took the 3 boys out for some guy time.  They decided on bowling, and had a blast.  Anything loud, physical, and that allows you to throw really heavy balls around is fun, right?

They were a little irritated that the Mommy Team beat out the All Boy Team, but hey - you can't have it all.  And girls are pretty cool, aren't we?

Friday, June 21, 2013

First canoe Trip

The boys and I spent a great afternoon canoeing at a local conservation area - what a fabulous way to spend the day!  There are definitely parts of me that miss my boys as little babies - I won't go into all of the details, because, well, it is just not a happy place to dwell.  But I also love it as they grow.  Our time together takes on a whole new flavor as we do things together on equal footing.  William can hold his own with a paddle, and Charlie is not far behind.  Together we were able to explore parts of the lake that would have been too tricky with only one paddler.  My goal was to spend more time in a kayak this summer (rather than only the week that we are away at family camp) but Charlie is not quite confident enough to kayak on his own, so canoeing is a great compromise.  There are a tonne of great places around to take out a boat, and we are working our way up to a 4 hour trek down the Grand River. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Little Turtle

Turtle season is in full swing, and the boys are always keeping there eyes out for turtles to log on the Ontario Turtle Tally web site.  We have seen painted turtles crossing the road, red eared sliders sitting on logs, and snapping turtles digging nests on the roadside to lay eggs. Today on the dirt road out behind our place we saw this teeny tiny little painted turtle and stopped for a visit.  It was about the size of a loonie, very cute, and moved fast for a little one! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Oh, how they grow!

There has been a sneaky little thing happening around our home lately, in the form of the boys growing up.  It doesn't happen all at once, oh no, but everyone now and then I will be caught off guard by it - the little bit of mustache fuzz growing on William's lip, the fact that hugs are still OK, but kisses are only tolerated first thing in the morning and late at night, the look on my baby Charlie's face that is no longer at all babyish, and the independence and maturity that they are both exploring and craving.

One of the ways this 'growing up' is happening is through the boys spending bits of time on their own at home.  It might be just a few minutes while I run into the grocery store, or for an hour or two when Jim is home but sleeping after working a night shift.  The boys generally love it, and I have to admit that it gives me a new level of flexibility that I haven't had in, oh, 10 or so years.

In celebration of it all, the boys spent the day at a St. John Ambulance course called Home Alone - they learned about what to do in case of a fire, snacks that they could prepare themselves safely while home alone, stranger danger, when and how to call 9-1-1, etc.  Although I admit that the day got mixed reviews (my guys are not used to sitting in a chair listening to someone else talk for 7 hours!!) they seem to have at lease been exposed to some good information.  As a family, we are going to be talking next about first aid and how to take care of those inevitable nicks, cuts, scrapes and sometimes burns that come with being a kid.  I certainly hope that they never need to actively use these skills, but I do feel a little more relaxed knowing that they are better prepared.

Now if I could just convince them to slow the whole growing up thing down just a little bit more, I would be happy.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Camp Season Begins!!

We have all been excited around here now that the 2013 camp / camping season has officially begun.  The first event is the Cuboree, a 2 night camp out that William looks forward to with his local cub scout troupe.  Today, both William and Charlie spent the day at Camp Brebeuf, going canoeing (which seems to be a new love for both of them), archery, challenging themselves on the high ropes, doing outdoor adventure games, and playing field games. 

This is such a great time of year for all of us.  We don't officially take the summer off from 'lessons', but things definitely slow down a bit.  After all, who in their right mind would choose math over hiking, or geography pages over swimming?  Not that we do a whole lot of 'table time' these days, but still.  The camping season leads our learning in a whole new direction.  Identifying trees and animals, learning new skills on the water, building forts and practicing carving, telling stories around the fire, and staring up at the stars. What learning (and life) is all about, isn't it?

Now that the first 2 adventures are over, we are counting down to the weekend camping trip south of Tobermory with my sister and her friends,  and William's first week away at Wanakita residential camp while Charlie and I do some camping at McGreggor point just the two of us.

Let the season begin!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Soft Pretzels

The boys have been doing more cooking lately (YEAH!) and William wanted to try his hand at soft pretzels.  They were a fair bit of work, and needed some mommy-strength to help with the kneading, but the results were great and the boys were happy.  Days like this have me looking forward when I can call home from work and have them get supper all ready by the time I get home.  Child labour? Maybe.  Worth it?  Definitely!

Buttery Soft Pretzels

4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
5 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt for topping

Dissolve yeast and  1 tsp sugar in 1 1/4 cups warm water and let stand until frothy (approx. 10 min.)

In a large bowl, mix together flour, remaining sugar, and salt.  Make a well in the centre and add oil and yeast mixture.  Knead the dough until it is smooth, about 8 minutes.  If it is too dry, add a few tbsp. of water.   Lightly oil a large bowl, put in the dough, and turn it to coat.  Then cover and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Dissolve baking soda in hot water.

When the dough has risen, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 parts.  Roll each part into a rope, and shape it into a pretzel.  Dip each pretzel into the baking soda and water, then place on a greased baking sheet.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned.


From Christa Rose,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LEGO Mindstorm with friends

William has a LEGO Mindstorm that he plays with in fits and spurts.  He will play with it for hours each day for a week or so, and then it goes back on his shelf for a while.  Today we got together with some other homeschoolers, and some great students from the U of Guelph who gave all of the kids an over view of how to build and program their Mindstorm robots.  I think that it was just what William needed to get him back engaged with it.  Having the university students on hand, who know a lot more about the programming piece than I do, worked wonders.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mapletons Organic

The spring weather finally feels like it is here to stay and we needed out of the house today, so we called up Grammy and went up to Mapletons Organic.  I will tell you all that it is a great little farm, with a cedar maze, a tire swing, a boat play structure, and of course lots of animals.  But really, anyone who is from around here knows it is about the ice cream.  Mapletons makes the best organic ice cream around.  Today's picks from the kids were maple sugar and vanilla chocolate chip, with a container of Ginger ice cream to bring home.  Ice cream is really one of those things where there is a world of difference between good quality and bad, and this, in my mind, is top of the pile.

But, since I was too busy gobbling up the ice cream to take any picture of the creamery and store, here are some pics of the animals instead...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Hole in the Wall

One of the boys' favorite places to hike (especially when they can bring friends along) is called The Hole in the Wall.  It is only about 20 minutes away, the perfect 2 hour hike, and full of rocks to climb over, in, and around.  Today we took Ben and Maddie (or fabulous neighbours) along.  The kids chatted, ran ahead, played and climbed, and I got to enjoy a relatively quiet walk in the woods.  Perfect!