Wednesday, April 28, 2010

At Last

At last the weather has stabilized. At least that is what I am telling myself. It has been windy. Very windy. I always think the old poem should read:

April winds and May showers bring forth the June flowers

At least for good old Saskatchewan.
The trees are starting to leaf out. The succulents are unfolding their waxy petals. The peony and the columbine are peeking up their first shoots. The moss is a brilliant cool moist green. It is starting to happen. Slowly but surely as it always does and always will.

Schooling has been going quite well. Lots of learning going on. Her reading is coming along nicely. She is sounding out words with more and more confidence. And after we finished talking about the first vowel A, I asked her to draw a picture in her notebook of something that began with the letter A. She drew a picture of what looked like a mountain with snow on it. Now of course I was thinking that neither mountain nor snow began with the letter A but I sat down to take the dictation for her story. It reads:

"Once upon a time there was a mountain. She had snow on the top of herself. A yodeler yelled really loudly and an avalanche came from the top of her snowy head. The end"

Of course, Avalanche! I shouldn't have expected otherwise from this little gal.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Another Road Trip

Athena and I drove to Regina again last weekend so we could see Daddy. It was a long week. And this past week has been a whirlwind as well. We had guests all weekend, Paul bought a boat. Yes, a boat. And no, we don't go to the lake often, if at all. I guess we will now. And to top off all of this busyness it snowed this morning and continues to snow as I type this.
In extraordinary news, the widower across the street has offered me his huge sunny garden to use for the season. Another neighbor offered the use of his tiller and a third the use of his water for the garden. Only in a small town I tell you. I don't think I could even move back to the city. Not ever.
And my first picture... I found that drawn on the fence after Athena shouted 'Pigeon at the wheel!" If you don't know the book, by Mo Willems, click here and see how accurate her chalk drawing is.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Small Town Living

This past weekend, Athena and I drove down to Regina to meet Paul. He was away all week in Calgary for Business Excellence meetings and then he flew to Regina for the Fire Chief's Convention. We figured if we went, at least we could see him from 5pm on and then bring him back with us the following evening. And so we did.

Jen, my oldest daughter, and I spent the entire day Saturday together without kids. (Thanks so much Jordan for watching the girls) and it was great. We did some second hand pick ups, went to Winners/Home Sense and out to lunch. Then we walked down the artsy district and went into some shops.

I must say, I was taken aback by the lack of friendliness of city people. In fact, peoples seemed to avoid eye contact at all cost. This is in stark contrast to my own sweet town where everyone waves, gives a nod or says hello to everyone. Even the children. Even the teenagers.

When I first left the city and moved to a small town over 11 years ago I was a little bit put off by having to wave and say hi to everyone. And now, all these years later I think, why not? Who does it hurt? It makes one feel a part of something. It makes one feel human. I don't think I'll ever move back to a city. At least I hope not to.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Home Schooling and Learning Notes

I love home schooling. I love it. The more I think about it the better I think it is. It is so "learner specific" in so many way. Although we have been only home schooling for a month or so I am thoroughly convinced we made the right decision. In fact, when I think about little Athena sitting inside a classroom for 6 long hours every day in a room full of children with no open windows, no direct sunlight, no fresh air, no room to think, dream or imagine I am a little embarrassed that I even sent her to school in the first place. I knew better and I knew I knew better. And now I am posting my Learning Notes, unabashedly borrowed from Sarah.

Learning Notes: April 12-15 (not planning school days of Fridays)

Language Arts:

Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) upper case letters
Matching upper and lower case letters
Reviewed Bob Books 1 and 2. Introduced and read aloud 3 and 4 (the sparkle in Athena's eyes when she sounds out a word on her own is priceless)

Memory Work:
Read poem The Violet by William Wordsworth
Illustrated and copied poster of The Violet
Memorized and recited the poem and its author


Read books about pond life, tadpoles and frogs.
Researched frog sounds on You Tube.
Read several spring poems and books.
Read The Story About Ping several times and had her re-tell from memory in her own words.

Copy Work:
Copied poem and simple sentences from Bob Books


Drew several pictures in her notebook (her own choice) and then she dictated a few lines about the picture which I wrote in her book.
Athena made several other pictures as well. This week she was into kangaroos.
(Once upon a time there was a little frame who always wanted a picture. She was too beautiful to have a picture. The little frame learned its lesson. The end.)

Matching math numerals to equal amounts of objects 0 - 10
Number recognition and ordering.
Practiced throwing and catching a ball while counting to 20.
Practiced and made up patterns with objects and numbers.
Counting backwards from 10 - 0.

Listened to Mozart and her Classical Music for Kids each day.

She also watched a video from Brain Pop about spring. (Thanks Tara)
Spent some time on Starfall.
Went for a one hour walk every day, even in the pouring rain.
Identified bird species on the way from sight and their songs. The Grackles are back. (Yuk).
And on today's walk we found some moss growing in the rocks outside the fire hall and since she had her bike with a basket on it, we took a lot of it and filled her basket to take home. (this is allowable). When she was filling the basket with the lovely green moss she said "If people see us with a basket full of moss, they'll think we are the COOLEST people in the world!" Indeed. Then she said she'd take it home and plant it, give it plenty of sunshine and water. Then we talked about how moss likes only shady spots. Like I said, I love home schooling. All in all a great week even though Daddy has been away since Monday.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Today I offer little bits of what has been taking place in this little corner of the world.

Overheard in the car while travelling to the city:

Athena: "I'm the luckiest girl in the world."
Mama: "Why is that?"
Athena: "'Cuz I'm a country kid AND I'm home schooled!"
Note: Since being out of school, she got her Belly Laugh back. I am so pleased.

Paul is away the entire week. Ughhhh! He has Business Excellence meetings in Calgary for the first part and Fire Chief Convention for the last part. He comes home Sunday. I am so so tired of him being away. Enough said.

It snowed again overnight and rained most of the day today. Athena and I went to walk to get the mail as we always do. Round trip takes us about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on our rabbit trails. I found out today the my down filled coat is NOT water proof. Athena held the umbrella and was high and dry. I was soaked about 20minutes in. Not fun. Brrrrr.

And on a final highlight, I am finished choosing my curriculum for First Grade. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I have been researching and investigating for two months and have finally come to this conclusion:

I am really drawn to Classical Education focusing on teaching the Trivium. Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric. I like some aspects of Charlotte Mason, Unschooling and Waldorf but I think that Classical Education will be a good method for us, with a bit of the others thrown in as well. I will not be teaching Bible as a subject. I would have heavily focused on that with my older children when I home schooled them, but I have changed since then.

I am going to use First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
and Phonics Pathways for Language Arts, Spelling, Grammar and Reading. We will also be using Handwriting Without Tears for penmanship.

For Math I have chosen a comprehensive study that will include addition, subtraction, measurement, telling time, identifying, comparing and sorting.

For Science we will use The Handbook of Nature Study and the Kids Nature Book as well as child directed unit studies.

For History, we will begin with Ancient History, as put forth in The Well Trained Mind. We will use the books The Story of the World and its workbook.

Moving on to Art, I have selected Drawing with Children and Discovering Great Artists. And I also bought this book for myself. (And you don't like to color?)

We will do some music study too. Listening to Classical music for 15 minutes per day. She already asks for me to put in on the CD player for her. Her favorite so far are the Nutcracker and this CD that my Mother got her for a Christmas gift. I may start teaching recorder or piano as well. I have not decided.

Most of all we will spend as much time outside in Nature. After all, kids should be outside playing, imagining, discovering. Should they not?

I got some wonderful advice from Tara, Dawn and Sarah who told me to just decide and stop looking for other options. So thank you ladies. And I will.

So if you have used other curriculum or have other ideas PLEASE do not tell me. I have ordered and decided and it is a done deal. (Just kidding, I welcome comments)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wheelin' and Dealin'

So yesterday, Paul goes to call on several Hutterite colonies. Shrewd business men the lot of them. Anyway, at the last colony John (yes, many of them are named John), who obviously wants a deal on his system is trying to butter Paul up.

"So Paul, you want some chickens." (Read all quotations with a Low German accent)

Yes, he does.

"How many do you want?" says John the Hutterite.

He ordered 6 he'll take six.

When they are alone with the "chicken man" John says "Now how many do you really want?" , offering to throw in some extras for free.

"And do you want some ducks or geese?" Says John.

No my wife would never eat those.

"How about potatoes?" John asks.

Yes we'll take some.

"And strawberries? Buns?" John says.

"And Paul, take some wine." he adds.

Paul asks what kind of wine and why two bottles.

"The small one is for your pocket Paul" John whispers. "Have a few nips on your way back home."

And you thought Hutterites were pious Christian folk who would never do anything that wasn't on the level didn't you?

PS We got a 50lb bag of potatoes, a few pounds of strawberries, 2 dozen farm fresh eggs, some buns, 2 bottles of wine (more like Port Paul says) and 7 chickens.

PPS We only paid for 6 chickens. Each are about 7lbs and we paid $6 a piece AND they are the most tender, juicy chickens I have ever eaten.

PPPS Don't even know if Paul gave him a deal on his water system or not.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You'd Think

You'd think I would have it somewhat together by now. I am 44 (almost 45) years old for Pete's sake. You'd think that after all of these years as a Mother and after all those previous years of Home schooling that I would be able to put something together for Athena for first grade. You'd think I could do it easily. You'd think.

My head is spinning! Math U See, Saxon Math, History, Phonics, Spelling, Reading,Science. Not to mention Art and Music. AAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!

Whatever it is that is making me so indecisive, so confused, so CRAZY, I wish it would stop. I need to clear my head. Think logically. Calm down. Collect information. And then I just need to choose and go with it. See what happens.

But then again, maybe its menopause. Good grief.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Road Trip

On the way

That was one of the quickest long weekends I have ever experienced! We crammed so much into so little time. We headed to Regina on Saturday morning. We went directly to one of our favorite stores that is only operational in Regina. Sears Outlet. I love that place. In fact, we have boots and winter outerwear for Athena for the next several years. Where else can you get a sweet pair of Sorrel boots for $15. I'll tell you, no where. I am an expert at scouting for linen. An expert I tell you. In fact, within minutes I had in my hands two linen skirts. $10 each. (oh yeah)

Spring Snow Goose Migration

After that we went to a restaurant called The Willow overlooking Wascana lake. The food was good and the wine... well, lets just say that Napa Valley wines are excellent.

View from the restaurant

After quickly checking in at the hotel, we went to my daughters house for a couple of hours, to Paul's sisters for a quick glass of wine and then out for supper with my Mother. Thanks Mom. After supper it was back to my Mom's for my sisters 39th birthday. Most of my family was there, even Patrick was up from North Carolina for his baseball draft. Good to see everyone.

Next morning, back to my daughters to make my contribution for the Easter brunch at Paul's sisters house. We stopped at Tim Hortons for coffee on the way. Tim Hortons is an iconic Canadian coffee shop. Believe it or not, in all of my 44 years, I have never had a cup. So, Paul documented my experience. Let me say, I don't get it.

Here I go!

The Verdict

Again, almost his whole family was there. Good food. Good times. It is so nice to catch up with everyone. Jen asked me why I "had a small grin on my face." I just love it when family is all together. It is nice to have most of the families in one city but it makes for a lot of visiting crammed into a small space

Rain clouds gathering

And on the way back, we took our time and just enjoyed the quiet. When we got home, the sky gave us a beautiful show to end the weekend out perfectly. It was a Happy Easter indeed.

Out the back patio doors

Last three pictures taken by Paul