Friday, September 30, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On These First Days of Fall

Things are moving quickly around these parts.
Just days ago the birch leaves were still green.
Now they dance around the yard in the breeze.

We are seeing the beginnings of the migrating birds.
Chickadees, Red polls, Finches.
The Robins and the Grackles have left for warmer places.

The Virginia Creeper is showing its glory this year
despite a hard frost a few weeks back.

And of course fall wouldn't be fall
without the sunny faces of the Chrysanthemums.

And obviously Fairies have paid a visit since
it is they who plant the mushrooms!

The succulents put on their last show,
a real treat for the butterflies.

And the sunsets are beyond compare.
Mother Earth really knows how to put on a show.

The woodpile is stocked for the coming winter.
This always makes me happy.
We don't use wood for heat but we all
sit mesmerized by the fire.

And the girl has been enjoying these unseasonably warm days.
Knowing that soon enough the winter chill will blow in.

Alpaca Farm field trip.
Big hit with her.

I bought some Alpaca wool from Abby (below).
Pricey at $18.50 for a 100g skein.
Enough to knit up a quick scarf
so she'll always remember.

And off to the city for lunch.
We like going to the city for lunch.
Every other week for sure. Possibly more.
Have you ever seen a beer that big?

Athena and Daddy playing Xs and Os.
Every restaurant, every time.
Funny thing is she never plays this at home.

Can you believe this is what I ordered?
Bread, cheese, spinach dip.
It was so filling I couldn't even eat half.
I do love potato skins though.

Athena loves herself a good Busker.
We were waiting in the car outside the liquor store
while Daddy ran in.
She listened to his music and asked if he had his guitar case opened.
She asked me for some change, jumped out of the car and
tossed in a few coins,
like she always does.
After all, she says, if we are enjoying his music,
why not give him some money?
(My older daughter told me later that this was illegal in Saskatoon.
Giving money to beggars that is.)

PS Paul is certain that we saw his wife waiting in the car for him.
A Lincoln no less.
Maybe the man just loves to play music?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Must Be Doing Something Wrong

Like the title says, I must be doing something wrong. I read all of these blogs of homeschooling families who are out playing, hiking, going to the beach or who have craft after craft accomplished and who's pantries and freezers are full to the brim. They spend their days doing fun things.

And then there is me. We are schooling all morning and now bits of the afternoon and then I have so much to do in terms of house and yard work that I wonder how there are so few hours in a day. There are not many nights that I see 10pm. Sheesh. What am I doing wrong?
(Maybe I am just too old for this gig. I am a grandma after all.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Weekend Getaway

I think I am sufficiently recovered enough to write this post.
It was a great weekend. Much better than I anticipated.
The drive was quiet and beautiful, but hey, this is
CANADA after all.
No shortage of beauty here.
I have always been drawn to the north. The pines
seem to call my name.

We didn't even realize that the girls all had
the same color fall jackets until they
were all together.

We rented a pontoon boat for a few hours. It was cool and wet
and so much fun. The big girls liked it as much as the little ones did.
Jessica even caught a teeny tiny jack fish.
And here is Athena having some sort of Zen experience,
off in her own little world as she tends to be.

And Papa Paul, happy and content as can be.
Captain of the ship.

Jen and Jord.

Jill and Clint.

And Eden well... being Eden. A little bit wild.
She even jumped off the boat into the water.
Can you say hypothermia? It was only about 14 degrees.

Dad let the little girls drive the boat on his lap and
of course Jordan wanted a try too!

And the highlight of my trip was #1 Seeing the Northern Lights
(it had been several years since I saw them last)
and #2 Hearing the haunting call of the Loon.

But of course the best part was having my entire family
all together under one roof.
It was such a great weekend that we have already
booked again for next year.
Same place, same time.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Three Weeks In

We are three weeks in our home schooling year and what a whirlwind it has been. September is a busy time in itself and I am feeling particularly in 'overdrive' this year. We are still receiving so much fresh produce from the Hutterites. While I love getting this local, chemical free bounty I know that I have to preserve or process it all in some way. My goodness we have been eating carrots every day and tomatoes every day. Don't get me wrong, I will be remembering these vine ripened tomatoes in February when what passes for a tomato shows up in the grocery store.

We had a hard frost the other night so I had to pick all that I could from the garden. The last of the tomatoes sit ripening on my kitchen window sill. I will surely savour each delicious bite. I am equally thankful for the roots. These don't ask much of me, just a cool dark place to be stored. That I can easily provide. Who does not love new potatoes with dill and cream? Who I beg you? That is another flavour to be savoured, only to return next summer.

But back to the school year. Yes, we are three weeks in. Actually we started in August just doing about an hour a day of math and reading review. This worked out well for Athena. We kind of eased into a longer school day for her. Easing in is always a good thing. While her sleep schedule is a little off due to the summer break we are slowly getting back into a rhythm on that front as well. She must be growing AGAIN because I can't keep that little belly full and she is sleeping around 11 hours each night.

My plans to begin the day at 8:50am have not materialized yet, nor do I think they will. She likes to 'play in bed' as she calls it. After she awakens she rarely comes down to breakfast before a good half hour of it. I don't know what she does but her bed linens are all over kingdom come each morning. Oh that imagination! No matter to me, it is her job to make her bed anyway.

So, yes, back to the school plans. It is a good thing that I didn't plan the school year all the way to the holidays because we have made some changes already. Some things just didn't work out. Some things I scheduled too much of, others not enough. For instance, we are following the Classical Education Method (except the religious parts) but this is the second year I have tried to go with Ancient History. We did it up until January last year and we have done a few weeks of it this year and it is not a good fit. For me or for her. More so for me I think. I love history. Love it. But this is not working for us at this time. So... here I go adding more to my list... I have decided to work on a Canadian History plan for this year. Why not? Americans learn American History over and over and over again. I don't recall learning much about Canada in school and certainly not in a comprehensive manner. Sure we learned about the Explorers and The Last Spike of the railroad and Canadian Geography here and there, but I have a different idea. I am putting together a History/Geography study for us to do. I have a lot of books. I have been a collector of Canada books for years so I have a really good base for developing what I think will be a great year.

Moving on. Science. We are using Elemental Science this year. I really like how everything is laid out on this one. Lots of experiments, which Athena likes. Lots of projects which she also likes. Oh my, we already made a papier mache earth, sun and moon. (Can I just say I am not a fan of papier mache. What a mess.) My one complaint is that it moves too quickly. We are supposed to do Earth Science and Astronomy this year but I have slowed it down so I think we will only accomplish the Earth Science this year and save Astronomy for next year. This way we will get more in depth learning, which is what sticks best anyway.

Math. Oh my the girl loves math. It seems to come so easy for her. She is adding and subtracting double digits like nobody's business. She is moving quickly through her book so we may have to add some third grade math in the new year. Again, the beauty of home schooling. We can accelerate the learning where we are able and slow it down where necessary. Love that.

The rest of the subjects are going just about as planned and today... today she starts ballet. Not the 'hair in a bun, don't eat cookies, stand up straight' type of ballet but a community class. Her love of classical music fits right along with this. Now as long as the little bird pays attention and doesn't flit and fly all over the room. She is so excited for this.

And tomorrow we are off on our first "family" trip. All of our girls and their families are coming with us to a cabin up north for the weekend. All of us. In one cabin. Twelve people. 4 littles. I'll let you know how that goes. We plan to eat hearty food, go on a pontoon boat together for a few hours, sit by the campfire and sing campfire songs. Just kidding about the songs. The men would never have it. Two of my girls are bringing their knitting for a little refresher course. I am bringing a box of fun for the kids. (Hey sisters, remember Grandma's Rainy Day Box?) I am really looking forward to it. I really need to relax a bit but not so much as Paul needs to.

And on that note, I better end this oh so long post. I have a school day to wrap up, a house to clean and food to prepare. Busy day.

And I leave you with a few pictures of the full harvest moon. Too late in the evening to see its full colors. I'll have to look earlier tonight as I really NEED to gaze upon it a re-centre.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poutine! Krishna Das and Patrick

I asked a simple question on Facebook today. What could I possibly make for lunch besides sandwiches? My daughter Jen replied with "Poutine". Which totally got me wanting, craving, desiring the wonderful, delicious, so bad for you that you can't even believe it, poutine. For those of you Americans who don't know what it is, Wikipedia describes this Canadian dish this way:  Poutine is a dish of French fries, fresh cheese curds, and sometimes additional ingredients, covered with brown gravy or sauce. Yes, like I said, slop on a plate. But oh the salty, fatty, potatoey (that's a word right?) goodness. She should not have mentioned that to me before noon. I called her and gave her a motherly reprimand.

Below is a visual if you still cannot picture it.

Ahem. Moving on. All I could think about was Poutine. We have a local greasy spoon that serves the best poutine this side of Outlook. It took all that was within me not to dial the number and order myself a HUGE portion which I could never finish for the mere price of $4.50 CAD. That is $4.55 for you Americans. 

Then I thought of the wonderful yoga practice I did yesterday. The kind of practice that makes your buns sore when you walk up the stairs the next day. The kind of practice that makes you listen to Krishna Das on repeat because your husband is not home and you can. Yeah, that is what I am talking about. I decided not to call the greasy spoon and looked in the pantry for what I could cook up before my twitching fingers could dial the number.

It did not take me long to put this quick, easy curry together and you can too, in any moment of weakness. Under 15 minutes and it was on  my plate. True story.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

1 19oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained.

4 cups of organic spinach (or whatever is leftover in your fridge) washed and drained.

1 19oz can whole tomatoes, chopped.

 1 onion, diced, 1 1/2 T grated ginger, 1 garlic clove, minced, 1 T extra virgin olive oil, 2 T curry powder, 1 1/2 T sugar, salt and pepper to taste.

Leftover basmati rice if you have some. Not necessary.

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, sugar, curry,  garlic, ginger. Saute until onion is translucent. Add chickpeas and tomatoes. Simmer a few minutes. stir in spinach , salt and pepper. Add rice if using. Cook until heated through. And there you have it.

Isn't that a much healthier option than poutine? Yes, I thought you would agree. Each time I make this dish for myself I think of my brother in law Patrick. It is what I would make for him if he stopped in for lunch. The funny thing is, I don't even know if he likes curry but I always think of him each time I open a can of chick peas.

Best thing about this dish is tomorrow, when the mood for poutine raises its greasy head, I will have leftovers to pop into the toaster oven. I'll be sure to put some Krishna Das on the CD player as I eat. ;)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And On A Lighter Note...

We had a really good long weekend. I just knew that having my daughter and son-in-law move to Humboldt (which is just 90 minutes away) would be a good thing. We have been enjoying many impromptu lunches with them because of course they have to come to the city for Costco! The only bad part is just shortly before they moved there, my other daughter moved to Regina from here so we still all don't get together. Some day maybe.

First we met up at the Chinese buffet. Now I am not a fan of buffets for obvious reasons. Germs, and um... germs. But Clint said it all when he said "Listen, what you have to do is get in, eat all you can and get out and don't think about it." Yes, true. But you will notice I am the only one with any vegetables on my plate. Oh wait, my daughter Jill has a splash of green in there too. But I must say, it was tasty. The Coconut buns were a hit but I was too full to try one.

 Cousin love. These girls love to be together. Athena, Josie, Abby.

And these sisters love each other like crazy guessed it, can fight like cats and dogs.
It rarely lasts long and they are back together playing as if nothing happened.

After lunch we went to Kinsmen Park where the rides are $1 a ticket and parents ride free. The weather was scorching hot and continues to be all this week. Temperatures in the 30s, Celsius that is.

I am always so happy to do things like that. Meet up, share some food and some laughs and go on our way. I see so much more of this in the future and it makes me smile.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thank You

Thank you all for your kind words and support.

Thank you Jen, Jess, Dawn, Tara, Angie,  Cassandra, Denise, Keri, Mona, Lyse and Paul.

I appreciate you all.