Monday, August 30, 2010

Day One Homeschooling

(Deep breath) So, we started our school year this morning. I got up early, had coffee, read the paper checked emails. I made bacon and eggs with whole grain toast. We went for a 15 minute walk (Athena and I) to get the blood flowing. It was cold. I could have used gloves. We came home and went straight to work.

I presented her with brand new school supplies. Pencils, pencil sharpener, glue, scissors. Markers, watercolors, pencil crayons. New binders and notebooks. New scrapbook. She was quite excited.

Jump forward about an hour and she "did not want to make the lower case A. She wanted some snuggles." So, we did our reading time on the rocking chair with her on my lap wrapped in a blanket. Jump forward again, after a 15 minute recess and a snack and she did not want to do another thing. Can't even remember. She sat there looking at me as if to say with her eyes "why would you make me do this horrible thing?" Oh brother!

We managed 2 and a half hours. I was shooting for three. Paul came up from his office to see how it was going. I was frustrated and she was asking if she got to watch Inspector Gadget later in the afternoon. He took her to the post office to do some business mailing and told me that I should perhaps ease into it more slowly.

Things I have learned in 2 1/2 hours of homeschooling:

*Do not expect all of the plans you have written in your day book to go completely as planned.

*Bring knitting with you so you can get a few rows in while she is doing math worksheets.

*The history curriculum I bought may be a wee bit much.

*Bob Books are the best.

*So are magnetic letters and a board.

*Must add more hands on for this girl.

*Try not to be so hard on myself.

*I am totally scrapping my science plans for more practical learning. At least for a while.

Sigh. I really hope tomorrow goes more smoothly. Is it too early for a glass of wine?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From the Kitchen/Garden

Lots of good comfort food around here lately.
Buttermilk biscuits
The weather has been rather cool, save for yesterday and today.
Cream of Leek and Celery Soup
The weekend promises highs in the 5os. My kind of weather.

Organic Peach Pie

I look forward to the fall, well... from about the end of spring/beginning of summer.
Fried Chicken Breasts
I am really truly a fall and winter person. In body and soul and temperament. Yes, yes I am.
With cream gravy

Kennebec potatoes from the garden

Now who cannot concede? Cool crisp clean air. No mosquitoes or wasps. Being able to see your breath in the air. The vivid colors of fall. Red, orange, yellow, brown.

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Good things coming from the kitchen. Stew. Roasts. Casseroles.

German cabbage rolls with sour cabbage
And my box of wine in the background

The wood fires. The sound of geese. The crunch of leaves underfoot. The sunset. The sunrise. All a feast for the senses.

Produce gifted from the neighbor's garden

Ah yes. My time is nigh. I wait, but not much longer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How Did I Get Here?

Amongst all the company, meal prep, gardening, sorting, purging, organizing and cleaning (and frequent headaches. ??) I have also been working diligently at my home school planning. In the spring I pored over method after method, philosophy after philosophy and came up with Classical Education. Heavy on literature, history, solid math foundation. Art, science, music. Reading, writing, grammar, spelling. All good. No dispute there.
Today, while putting together the first six weeks I felt a real sense of... I don't know... heaviness? panic? or just an overwhelming feeling of not being well prepared for this journey. I love learning. I love knowing about things. I love classical music, classical literature. And... I love nature and the natural world.
So I got to thinking... where is this "nature" in my yearly plans? Yes, yes, we are studying animals for 20 weeks I know. But where is the day to day nature study? The phases of the moon? The seasons? The bird migration? The plant life? The natural rhythms of the earth and of our bodies?
I really really REALLY like Waldorf Education and its philosophy but instead chose Classical. I know I won't regret the really good foundation that Classical education provides. I won't. She won't. (Latin in third grade? Oh yeah!) But will I regret not using the Waldorf method later on down the line? Maybe.
Can I create a fusion of the two? I really hope so and now as the rubber meets the road, I intentionally plan to. I want Athena to really feel connected to this earth, the soil, the seasons, the phases of the moon and circadian rhythms. And really, shouldn't we all?
(photo credits: Paul)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Painting Pan

"An Artist paint whatever she wants without anyone telling her what to do."-Athena Payette

Athena and Peter Pan

(Yes, that is an arrow in "the hind of him" with blood pouring out. Ahem.)

Monday, August 16, 2010


I have a love of all things natural and earthy and my wood collection is one of my most special possessions. Twice a year (should be more often) I get out my mineral oil and oil my all of my wood. Bowl, spoons, rolling pin, cutting boards.

This is one of my most enjoyable "housekeeping" jobs. I feel the slippery mineral oil on my fingers. As I gently apply it to the surface of the bowls, my hands feel the shape of the wood as if I was making them on a potters wheel.

The wood changes color and I can see the grain. From dry and pale to a deep dark color.

Soon the oil has worked its magic and I wipe them one more time and put them back in their places ready to be used. But not before I just look at them once again.

It is a deeply satisfying almost meditative process and I love it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It Coming!

The fall bird migration is beginning around here. I am getting excited. This afternoon I heard a bird I had never heard before in the trees. I grabbed my camera and was lucky enough to spot it.

I have an inquiry into a local bird expert as to the species but I think I may have it figured out.
I think it is a female Red Breasted Grosbeak. I have only seen one Rose Breasted Grosbeak male and that was a few years back during the spring migration.

I hope to see this little gal again before she flies off to warmer climes. I'll keep you updated when my "go-to guy" gets back to me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Food For Thought

I've been thinking a lot about food these days. The safety of it. The shopping for it. The growing and harvesting of it. And mostly about the making and eating of it. For years now I think I have put way too much thought into it, to the detriment of my enjoyment of it. (or not)
Is it healthy? Is it local? Is it organic? Is the fish farmed or wild? Do the farmers practice sustainable agriculture?

More recently I have been thinking just how dependant we actually are with regard to the safety of our food. Was it handled correctly? Did some other shopper pick up these frozen chicken breasts and later decide she didn't want them and leave them on a shelf only to be put back by a teenage store employee? Does this restaurant handle food properly? Does the supplier? As you can see, my train of thought is a little crazy. Or is it?
I have been talking with people about it too. And reading blogs as well. I was talking with my elderly neighbor across the street when they came for dinner. She makes bread. I make bread. She wanted to try a piece of it. I told her it is 25% whole wheat and that I added a cup of whole wheat flour to assuage my guilt about making white bread. She went on to tell me that she makes 8 loaves of white bread every other week. Has for nearly 50 years. (her bread is wonderful too I must add.) A few weeks back she decided to make whole wheat bread. Her husband tried it and said, and I quote: "Wasted your time on that one didn't you?" True story.

Then she in all her years' wisdom told me "Make white bread and just throw some flax on your cereal instead." As a side note, the woman is healthy and as fit as can be and is only on one medication for blood pressure. Pretty good for 71.

Then I was talking with my sister Lyse about how I am so tired of all of the food rules we are supposed to follow these days. I just want to cook what I want, including some of my late Grandmothers old recipes. (Apple fritters to be specific) I told her I would feel guilty giving that to Athena. She, in her wisdom, (she reads like mad and knows quite a bit of stuff) said to me " First they tell you coffee is no good, and now it is. Same with eggs. EAT WHAT YOU WANT." Yes, good advice. Another side note: some of the recipes in my Grandma's box contain ridiculous amounts of fat. Not butter but margarine which I would never use.

Then I was talking with my oldest daughter Jen. She is in the opposite boat at the moment. She wants to get back to eating healthier foods, both for her sake and her family's. I couldn't believe this because she seems to always eat healthy food. Except for ice cream. Oh and you have never in your life seen anyone polish off a large bag of potato chips like her husband can!

She, in her wisdom, said she is going to go back to eating REAL food. Full fat food. Just make healthy meals and eat until she is satisfied and not more. Good advice.

(Jen, I know you wouldn't make a meal like this and that you would prefer to be a full time vegetarian. I just added the picture because this is what I am talking about. ;) )

So I have decided to take all of the advice that these women have given. I will make white bread. I will eat what I want. I will eat whole food. Real food. After all, the planning, preparing and eating of food is an important part of family life. Of any life. And we only get one go round so we might as well enjoy it. White bread and all!

PS(One cookbook that I have been enjoying and planning to use some recipes from is The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond. That's the kind of food I am talking about!)
PSS Paul cares not about any of the above things. All he cares about that it he has good food, served hot, and lots of it!

If You Are Looking For My Girl...

You'll most likely find her here.

Any day.

Every day.

Best $20 we have spent in a long time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quotable Athena (Updated)

Update: I forgot to enter this favorite of mine.
Athena: Mama will it rain today?
Me: I am not sure, lets check the forecast.
Athena: It doesn't matter. Mother Nature does what she wants.

This girl cracks me up. Sometimes I don't know where she comes up with this stuff. Sometimes I do.In the past week she has said all of the following:

Dad is singing in a goofy voice. She hears him and says "Dad, stop singing!"
Dad: "Are you gonna beat me up?"
Athena: "Yes I am."
Dad: "Bring it on Buckwheat." (she hates when he calls her Buckwheat)
Athena: "Well I don't want to. I changed my mind cuz I love you."

A few days prior Athena was playing on her monkey bars and I told her that it was almost time for bath. I was just going to water my herbs and then I would go up to run the bath.

Mama: "I am going to run your bath. I expect you to come inside in a minute or two." Then I walk past her to go into the house.
Athena:" Don't look at me like that!"
Mama: "I am not even looking at you."
Athena: "Well you were going to, I know it."
Mama: ignores sassiness and goes upstairs, runs bath.
Athena: Comes up right away and says "Sorry Mama."
Mama: "Sorry for what?"
Athena: "Talking back to you. Its the first time I've done it and I didn't like it."


A: "Mama, remember Lauryn has my stuffed up kitten named Oliver?" ( I love that she says "stuffed up" instead of stuffed.)
A: "I want it back."
M: "So go get it."
A:"By myself?"
M:"Yes. Just be very careful and watch for cars when you cross the street."
A:"Okay Mama. I'll be careful. I won't let you down!"

And just the other day, while drawing a picture she says:

"An artist draws what she wants WITHOUT anyone else telling her what to do. Right?"
Yes, you are right.
And this is the scene I encountered when I walked into the kitchen yesterday. Do you think this girl wants a pet? The one on the left is Oliver.


If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you will know two things about me.
Number one: I love soup. Homemade soup.
Number two: I do NOT love Grackles. At all. I like nothing about them.

But... I do have a heart. And this is the ONLY Grackle I don't chase away from my feeders.

We call him Stumpy.

I wonder what happened to the poor little fellow?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Studio Five

My wool order from Knit Picks has arrived. The store has so much to choose from my head was spinning first time I went to their website. And the prices! A lot cheaper than our local knitting shop, even less expensive than Michael's craft store as well. I have a lot of knitting plans this fall to squeeze in between homeschooling, housework, yoga and oh yeah, actually being a wife!

I am using this beautiful Superwash 100% Merino worsted wool for a sweater for Athena. I chose the color Avocado because green is my favorite color and I think that it will bring out Athena's green eyes as well. The pattern is from Joelle Hoverson's book Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It is a pullover and looks simple enough for this novice knitter.

From the same book, I plan to make Athena a winter hat with ear flaps using this bulky weight Superwash Merino in the color Merlot Heather. Mmmmmm, Merlot.

And finally I chose this Wool of the Andes bulky hand-dyed 100% Peruvian Highland Wool in the colorway Avenue to make myself a Tomten jacket from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears. I liked making Athena's so much that I wanted to make one for myself.

Those are very lofty goals for the fall. I know that already. But with beautiful wool like this sitting in my front room calling out to me, how can I not knit? I may even watch a few movies while I am doing so.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Message from Athena

Thank you Auntie Tammy
for the stuffed up dog.
I love him!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

All For Me

What a glorious Sunday morning I just spent. Long long overdue. I woke up around 6:30 and got my running shoes on. I was out the door well before 7 and I started my run. Actually, more like a run/walk cycle as I am just a week into the program. (two of my daughters, the ones pictured a few posts back, and I are attempting to run a 5k charity race together in October) The air was cool, the town was quiet, except for the birdsong. I encountered two women walking a dog and that was it.
I came home to a quiet house. Paul and Athena were still fast asleep. I put the coffee on and headed to the deck with... wait for it... a book. A novel. No homeschooling manual, no parenting book and no cookbook. An honest to goodness for pure pleasure only novel. The Elegance of the Hedgehog if you must know. I read, drank my coffee, watched the birds at the feeders all alone. It was pure tranquility. I did this for almost 2 straight hours. They chose this day to stay in bed past 9! A gift, just for me.I can't tell you how much this little moment in time did for my soul. I can't remember the last time I have been alone and done something for myself. I think I'll do it more often.

The rest of the weekend has been great too. My only brother and his family stopped in for dinner, golf and an overnight stay on their way to a family reunion. Athena played with her cousin for hours on end. She just turned 3 and she is something else!
They had a great time together. It is so nice to have company just one family at a time. Athena gets to know her cousins one on one. So far she has spent large amounts of time with Renee and Matthieu, Olivia and Ebony, Eric, Kenadee, Pearce and now Ella, besides the usual suspects of Abby, Josie and Eden. This makes me happy. I would like her to have close relationships with her cousins as she is technically an "only child".

To top off this fantastic weekend, so far, is the fact that we here in Saskatchewan have a long weekend. Saskatchewan Day. First Monday in August. Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to plunge my 45 year old head in a bucket of ice water. It is so @#$%^& hot! And as a woman who prefers fall and winter, I can't handle the heat so I'd best get out of the kitchen.