Sunday, March 29, 2015

Garden Journal (yr 3: vol 1)

Spring is truly here. We've been enjoying the sight of beautiful flowers, preparing the gardens and getting our hand dirty planting seeds. I started my tomato and pepper seeds indoors on the twentieth of this month, along with a few cauliflower seeds. Last year I started my tomato seeds a little too early, and by the time I was ready to plant the seedlings they were too big and had a difficult time adjusting to the outdoors. I probably should have waited a little longer to start the tomatoes this year but the itch to get started was too difficult to ignore.

On Monday, the twenty-third, we planted the peas and broad beans in one of our raised beds and on Thursday, the twenty-sixth, we started some cauliflower, cabbage, leeks, basil and alpine strawberry seeds indoors. Already many of our indoor seeds have sprouted and are enjoying the steady glow of the grow lights. Those grow lights are sure bright! They basically announce the whole neighbourhood that we are growing plants inside out house. Several neighbours have inquired as to what I am growing this year and I suspect some are just checking to make sure nothing illegal is going on over here.

This year we are trying a few new tomato and pepper varieties. For tomatoes, we are sticking to several favourites: Jaune Flamme, Garderner's Delight, Andy's Buckflat Wonders, Kellogg's BreakfastIndigo Rose and Red Brandywine. New to us this year is Super Fantastic. As for peppers we figured that our stash of dried hot peppers will last us until the following summer so this year we are planting mostly sweet peppers. We planted some California Wonder, Orange Sun, Chocolate Beauty, Gypsy, Pepperoncini and Sweet Banana pepper seeds. I did sneak in a few Jalapeno, Ancho, Chile De Arbol and Cheyenne for making my favourite canned salsa towards the end of the summer.

Around my yard the green onions and garlic and full and healthy. The raspberry canes are covered in small leaves and the first blooms on my peach tree are swelling. The apple trees are showing signs of life, and so is the plum tree, which I neglected to plant until just a few weeks ago. My husband built me a couple pea trellises and I am hoping I can convince him to build a few strawberry boxes next month as well. Yes, spring is a special time filled with the promised of goodness and life!

Garden Journal (vol. 1)
Garden Journal (yr 2: vol 1)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Love

Spring time. A time of renewal and growth. As I explore the outdoors I see life unfurling, opening to new possibilities, brazenly accepting the journey forward. The soil is soft, yielding to eager sprouts pushing through. The apricot and cherry trees are beginning to bloom. I brought my children under the canopy of a large cherry tree today. The tree was vibrating with life; the steady buzzing of hundreds of hardworking honeybees. It was incredible. We stopped under a weeping willow and gathered sprouting branches, soft and malleable, perfect for making willow crowns. 

Spring is a time for embracing change and growth. This spring I have found myself more open to Divine Love, to Abba's love, and seek to allow it to fill me, nourish me and give me the courage to open my heart to life and love. This spring I want my heart to be like the damp spring soil, open to growth, despite the challenge it might present, so that one day I can partake in the bountiful harvest.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Birthday Interview: Claire at 5

Five. Claire has been anticipating her fifth birthday for quite some time now. In fact, she's been counting down the days since Teddy had his birthday earlier this month. When people ask her how old she is she proudly tells them " I am just five" as if she wants to relish being five for as long as possible. For her fifth birthday Claire requested "macaroni" pizza (pepperoni pizza) and chocolate cupcakes with pink icing. I was happy to oblige and excited to discover that chocolate cupcakes and strawberry butter cream icing make for a delicious dessert, one that I might have to repeat for my own upcoming birthday. And now for the interview:

What would you like to do when you grow older? Umm... ah... get a new dress.

What are your favourite toys? Playmobil and Teddy and balloons... so that's all.

Who do you like to play with? I like to play with my friends... Aloe, Malaika, Elizah, Kate and don't forget Ari.

What makes you happy? Getting candy. I love candy, it makes me happy. And having balloons.

What makes you sad? Somebody getting hurted and wanting to buy something but my maman and papa not wanting to buy it.

When you dream at night, what do you dream about? Scary stuff. I don't want to dream about scary stuff.

What do you like to do with Papa? Play games with him.

What do you like to do with Maman? Snuggle.

What’s your favourite colour? Pink, purple and green.

What’s your favourite book? Frozen books.

What is your favourite game? The Knight game.

What does Papa do during the day? Go to work.

What does Maman do during the day? Stay home and cook food.

What do you do during the day? I play during the day.

To read Claire's previous interview check out:
Birthday Interview: Claire at 4

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shifts and Changes: Home Learning 2014/2015

For our family home learning is something that is constantly evolving and changing. I admire families that are committed to a particular style of home learning, whether it be Charlotte Mason, Montessori, unschooling, classical schooling, among others. The reality is that this is not something that works well for our family at this time. We have a very eclectic approach to home learning and I am constantly noticing shifts and changes as we move through the year.

As I look back to the beginning of this learning year there are several things that have changed. The first is that I am allowing for more breathing space throughout our week. This need for space is a direct result of the over-scheduling and over-commitment that occurred in the fall. It can be difficult to stand back and not participate in every fun or interesting activity that is taking place. After seeing, however, the detriment that over-scheduling can have to both family life and learning I am being more careful about the activities we choose to participate in.

The second shift has been in response to the changing needs of my eldest, who recently turned seven. There is something about turning seven that has ushered in significant changes for my son. The way he observes and interacts with the world around him has become different, more perceptive and focused perhaps. In line with these changes I have also noticed a desire to delve deeper into several areas of learning, so I have been giving him more space for exploration as well as making changes to the curriculum we are using. We are continuing to use curriculum for reading, writing and mathematics as I am noticing that my son is becoming increasingly confident and interested in these areas of learning. We recently switched from the Math-U-See to Signapore Math, a switch that I have been considering for some time. We are also moving on from Primary Arts of Language, a program that has worked well for us, to All About Reading and Spelling. Other areas of learning we explore as interests arise, for instance my eldest has been researching lizards lately and working on Snap Circuits.

And finally, as spring approaches we find ourselves drawn outside more and more. When the days become warmer there are certain aspects of home learning that take on a slower pace. Instead we focus on outdoor exploration, growing food and celebrating this special time of year with friends and family. It is interesting to see the how home learning changes and shifts throughout the year, even from year to year. I suppose being free to change, shift, evolve and grow from month to month and year to year is one of the reasons our family was drawn to home learning in the first place

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kindle Paperwhite and What I've Been Reading

Right before our trip to Thailand I purchased a Kindle Paperwhite. I have been resisting the purchase of an e-reader for a long time because of my preconceived notions about them. I love the feel, smell and sound of paper bound together. Books have a special place in my heart and home, as my husband would attest to, and I was worried that e-readers would take over the world of books as we know it. However, despite my apocalyptic bookish fears, the convenience factor of an e-reader for travelling won me over. With an e-reader I could have a whole heap of books at my disposal while traveling without packing a whole heap of books!

What I quickly came to discover as I traveled through Thailand with my e-reader was that it is a wonderful little gadget. The Kindle Paperwhite is light and easy to read from. It has several apps built in which are handy like the dictionary and X-ray. My only complaint is about an e-reader is that it isn't as easy to quickly skim and skip through pages. The other thing I had to get use to was not having my bookmark as a testament of how far I've made it through a book. Yes, the Kindle gives you a percentage marker for you reading progress but I like being able to look at the location of my book mark and congratulating myself accordingly. Regardless of the few disadvantages I have been really enjoying my Kindle and have been using it to read a variety of books.

Outlander by Diana Galbadon

I am little behind with discovering the popular Outlander series. Outlander, the first book of the series begins its story in post-WWII and follows a woman, Claire Beaumond, as she travels to Scotland with her husband Frank. While visiting Scotland she finds herself drawn to a circle of standing stones which somehow transports her two hundred years into the past. What follows next is a gripping story of her adventures in the Scottish Highlands. I finished Outlander rather quickly and found it to be an exciting read, one that I would recommend. One small warning, however, is that the book has its fair share of sexual encounters, one of which is rather disturbing. There is also an television series currently being released based on the first book.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Galbadon

After being swallowed up by the thrills of the Scottish highlands I moved on to the second book of the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber. I will admit that this book has not hooked me in as much as the first. I am only a third of the way through and have put it aside for days at a time. The beginning surprised me, then what followed was somewhat interesting. After a while, dare I say it, it got slow and boring. I haven't given up on the book just yet though as I have heard that it does pick up at some point.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

Dan Harris, Nightline news-anchor, exposes his own struggles with anxiety and the unexpected journey that brings him to acknowledge the benefits of meditation. An interesting and entertaining read, and one that I recommend if you struggle with anxiety.

The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah

I am fan of Agatha Christie and enjoy a good murder mystery, so I was thrilled to discover this new Piorot-esque book. The book itself was entertaining. It wasn't an authentic portrayal of Poirot or books written by Agatha Christie, but if you approach the book without any expectations it is a pleasant read.

The Value of Simple: A Practical Guide to Taking the Complexity out of Investing by John Robertson

If you know very little about investing and feel intimidated by the investing world, this Canadian book is a good place to start. It strikes a good balance between being neither simplistic nor overly complex. It provides enough information to get you starting with investing without bogging you down with every tiny detail. It sheds some light on the benefits and challenges of RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs etc. and provides some easy to follow DIY investing ideas.

The Last Days of Jesus by Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly offers a historical overview of Jesus. Unsure of what to expect, I found that this book was both interesting and incomplete. I read the book it its entirety and was captivated by the historical details but my Catholic background left me feeling that so much was missing from this book.

Camping British Columbia and Yukon by Jayne Seagrave

A great book, that contains detailed descriptions of hundreds of campgrounds throughout British Columbia and the Yukon. I have been slowly making my way through this book, marking off the places I want to visit in the near future.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Little Bit of Winter with Selah Outdoor Exploration

We hadn't seen snow, in any great amount, since we left on our trip to Thailand back in January. There was a hint of flurries last week, but my husband and I debated if it was in fact snow. Piles of snow still do exist in these parts but you must drive up the mountain to find it and even though snow is up there I had my doubts that we would find any at Crystal Mountain Ski Resort, a small ski hill just west of Kelowna, BC. It was a good thing I packed our snow gear because there was definitely snow up there. The reason for our going there was that it was the location of our Selah Outdoor Exploration adventure. I should note that the ski hill is closed for this season (2014/2015) but Selah uses the space for some of their programs.

Selah Outdoor Exploration offers outdoor and environmental learning adventures for children and youth in these parts. Our learning community has partnered with them before and I have heard nothing but good things spoken about the programs they offer. Today we made our way up to Crystal Mountain to take part in Inuit games and snowshoe hiking. I mostly watched the activities from afar as my two youngest kept busy sledding down a small hill. The program ran from nine in the morning until one-thirty in the afternoon and the children seemed to be interested and engaged the whole time. When I asked my son about his experiences today he was rather vague, as usual, but mentioned a few of his favourites games and the fact that his legs were rather sore from the snoeshowing. Overall, I believe everyone had a good time and will sleep well tonight.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Our Newest Addition

This is Zak. The last time I took care of Zak was the summer after my graduation from high school. He was just a little pup then, and a mischievous one at that! Now he's a old fella, a twelve year old senior. He can still get into mischief mind you, as was evident by the coffee grounds sprinkled throughout my living room a couple days ago. Zak will be staying with us for a couple months as my parents make their transition to this part of the province (yay!). 

I am curious to see what it will be like with Zak. I have never lived with a dog and I am interested in seeing both the joys and challenges of having one around. Already I can tell you that having him here is forcing me to wake up earlier than I would like. If my children ask me to prepare breakfast before seven in the morning I simply point them in the direction of the nearest fruit. Zak, however, doesn't respond to this kind of direction and will pace around the living room until I feed him which tend to be by seven at the latest! Other than having his meals punctually Zak is easy going and has a gentle soul. The children seem comfortable around him and he tolerates their shenanigans well. I don't think that it will take long for him to fell at home here.