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I’ve been suffering from writers block lately. When I sit down at the computer, it seems like there’s lots I could say – but someone has already said it, and better than I ever could. Really, it’s hard not to compare; not when there are so many great writers out there.

Still, I like to write. Because, no matter what other people have written, this is our life. It’s something my kids like to read. And someday, down the road – maybe I’d like to remember what I thought when I was in the middle of raising my kids, being a wife, mom, juggling everything. And I hope, looking back, I can say, we enjoyed the journey. That even though there were hard times and not every day was easy, life was good.

One of my favourite books I’ve read in the last while  is called A Lantern in Her Hand. It’s a story set in pioneer days, and I love pioneer stories.  This book doesn’t gloss over the hard times (and really, there were a lot!) but it also shares the good times. How being a mom is such an important job. How, at the end of the day, it’s not your circumstances that were important, but how you lived through them.

At the end of the book while looking back at her life, Abbie, who’s lived through all those pioneer years, shares her happiest memory with her granddaughter. She says:

“There are many memories. But I’ll tell you the one I like to think of best of all. It’s just a homely everyday thing, but to me it is the happiest of them all. It is evening time here in the old house and the supper is cooking and the table is set for the whole family… the robins are singing in the cottonwoods and the late afternoon sun is shining across the floor. Will, your grandfather, is coming in to supper… and the children are all playing out in the yard. I can hear their voices and happy laughter. There isn’t much to that memory is there? Out of a lifetime of experiences you would hardly expect that to be the one I would choose as the happiest, would you? But is is. The supper cooking… the table set for the whole family… the afternoon sun across the floor… the robins singing it the cottonwoods… the children’s merry voices… Will coming in.. eventide.”

It makes me remember, as Gretchen Rubin, from The Happiness Project writes: “The days are long, but the years are short.”  And someday, the kids will grow up, and start their own families. I hope when that day comes (not too quickly!) we’ll be able to say, too, those are our best memories, the simple things…. sitting at the table together… enjoying each others company…  just living life… together.

At this time of year, a favourite activity for many families is visiting the pumpkin path, going on hayrides, and picking out the perfect pumpkin. If you are visiting or have visited the pumpkin patch this fall, here are some fun activities you can do at home with your pumpkins:

Science:

PredictWill your pumpkin sink or float?  Test your prediction in the bathtub!

Math:

Have your children estimate the circumference of the pumpkin by cutting a piece of string the length they think is correct, and measuring how long it is. Then, actually measure the circumference, and see how close (or far!) their prediction was, and why

How much does your pumpkin weigh?  Again, have the kids make a prediction, and then compare their prediction to the actual weight.  You could also have your kids create a graph showing their prediction and actual heights and weights.

Open your pumpkin up, and take a look at how many seeds are inside. If your are feeling very ambitious, you could predict how many seeds there are, and then count them! (For younger students, this is a good chance to practice tally marks, or grouping and counting by ten)

After counting and washing those seeds, try roasting them, and eating them.  And of course, the pumpkin can make a wonderful pie! (These are great activities to practice measuring for younger ones.)

Language Arts:

Journal about the trip to the pumpkin patch, or create a photo booklet that tells the story of their trip….

Create an acrostic poem, using the letters from the word PUMPKIN to start each line of the poem.

Art

Paint a beautiful pumpkin patch picture. One of my favourite art websites, art projects for kids, has a great activity for this. You can check it out here.

Most of all, have fun, and enjoy schooling with your kids!

October…. leaves falling from trees, days getting shorter, thanksgiving… How did this come so quickly?!  September was a whirlwind in our home. You’d think after five years homeschooling, I’d know better. I’d know that everything just starts at once. And although I think I’m going to start slow, stay relaxed, life happens. Hockey, dance, school, youth, more school, more hockey, work…. it’s a month of starts, a month of adjustments.

So, I’m thankful that it’s October. I love fall, although I’m a bit sad about the shorter days. (It’s just so much harder to get up in the morning when it’s still dark!) But still, isn’t fall beautiful?

This weekend I’m also thankful that the Christian school my oldest daughter attends takes a five day break on thanksgiving weekend, and so we have too. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I think I just might celebrate American thanksgiving in November. Probably by then, we’ll appreciate another five day break!

One of our big projects this weekend was rearranging and reorganizing bedrooms. It may be a bit crazy, but I really do love clearing, de-cluttering and organizing. And really, who decided that big cleaning projects are supposed to happen in the spring anyway?!

It started simply enough when we decided to get our daughter a new quilt  for her birthday. But that led to switching her twin bed with the double bed in the spare room. And then that led to moving our oldest daughter into that spare room. And then our son into her room. So, four bedrooms got switched around this weekend. Not bad for a few days off!

And now we’re finally done. Well, almost. Now there’s talk of painting, decorating… one thing really does lead to another! And I have to admit, the rooms do look a little bare – and a fresh coat of paint is always nice too. For now, though, I’m done. I’ve got bags to give away, bags of recycling, and bags to throw out… it’s been a good weekend. (It’s just too bad I didn’t take before and after pictures!)

Of course, the most important reason for this extra long weekend was thanksgiving. We had a great day Sunday, cooking, cooking, and more cooking… and then of course thanksgiving dinner. :) It was so nice to spend time with family and get reacquainted with cousins we haven’t seen for a while.

So, after all the dishes are cleaned up, and the house is back in order, here are a few more things to add to my list of things I’m thankful for:

A husband who takes complete charge of the turkey. Seasoning, basting, checking if it’s done, carving; the details of that really overwhelm me. But John looks after it all;  it’s nice to have a husband who likes to cook!

Of course, I can’t forget the kids who are old enough to help prepare the meal as well.  A busy day in the kitchen, cooking with my family; it’s a good day.

Everyone who brings a dish, a bottle of wine, a beautiful flower to brighten my house and my days.

Laughter, fun, ordinary everyday celebrations with family; it’s so good to take the time to get together. We feel so blessed to have many of our family (on both sides) living nearby. I’m glad that my kids are able to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a great thanksgiving weekend as well.  :)

I read this post about prayer, about how we get so busy with everything that seems so important right at this moment, so busy we don’t make time to pray, and I thought “this is me”. And maybe it’s all of us, in our own busy ways, too busy to pray. Years ago, we did a Bible study called “Too Busy Not to Pray”, and it was good, and I learned a lot.

Sometimes I wonder why I so quickly forget what I’ve learned? Why I revert back to old habits? Why isn’t prayer my first priority? Lately I’ve been waking up early, and I check the clock, roll over… and fall back asleep. Maybe… God’s telling me “Wake up. Spend the first moments of your day with me.”

Anyway, this post by Ann Voskamp from aholyexperience was a good reminder to me…  to make time to pray. And really, of all the things I want to teach and model for my kids, isn’t this the most important?

When It’s Hard to Make Time for God and Prayer

 

 

 

Butterflies

I get butterflies in my stomach each first day of school. Each one. Did when I was a kid. Did when I was a teacher in a real classroom. Do now in my own small dining room table classroom.

When I was a kid, it was the butterflies of wondering who would be in my class. Who would be my teacher. Would I like him or her? (Would that teacher like me?)

When I taught in a classroom, it was meeting a whole new crop of kids. Wondering what this year would hold. Did I prepare enough for the first day? What kind of kids would they be? What kind of class?

Now, I’m not meeting anyone new. It’s my kids, and we’ve done this routine, four times already. But the butterflies still come. I think because I know I’m jumping into the deep end again. And the shore, it’s still distant. And I know that in the middle of it lies February. The dark days when the sun doesn’t shine enough and we’re all a bit tired and the ending is still hard to see.

So, I get butterflies. Will I really be able to teach my kids all they need to know, each and every day? Will I be enough? And will I be content knowing that I won’t? That there will be gaps (there always is)?

It’s a nervous feeling. It’s also an excited feeling. I’ve got books, great ones, that I can’t wait to dive into with my kids. I’m looking forward to those curled up on the couch reading together days.

And some of those February days? We’ll ditch the books and curriculum and  bake a batch of cookies. Make some hot chocolate. Do something different, just for a day. And February will pass, and before I know it, I’ll be shaking my head and wondering how June got here so soon.

So, I’m looking forward to the year. I’m looking forward to brand new notebooks, clean, with endless possibilities, sharpened pencils, and new books and curriculum. This year…. it will be a good year.

Ordinary Moments

Summer’s almost over – how did that happen so soon?! It’s been a good summer – we did nothing too exotic, besides our usual camping and day trips, but it’s been fun. I started the summer feeling really ready for a break, and that’s what I got. How awesome is it to have a job where you get the summer off with your kids? Okay maybe not the whole summer, this past week has been a pretty busy work week already! But that’s okay, because I’ve had the time off to relax, unwind … and get a renewed appreciation for the things I love about being home with my kids.

Summer fun:

Blackberry picking with the kids. Despite the thorns and scratches we spent a couple of fun mornings picking blackberries together. We made blackberry pie, put lots and lots in the freezer, and the kids even got entrepreneurial and sold some that they picked to the neighbours. $30.00 profit – not bad when you’re a kid and your only other source of money is a paper route!

Evan loves to pick blackberries

Spontaneous hugs, as I walk in the door back from my morning walk at 7:30 in the morning (or any time of day, really).

Rebecca likes hugs too....

Lots of time for games. This morning, we had breakfast and the kids raced through their morning chores of cleaning the table and loading the dishwasher. It turns out that they had already started a game of monopoly this morning before breakfast, and couldn’t wait to get back to it. They really can spend hours on that game! Now me? I like playing games with my kids, but monopoly isn’t my favourite – maybe because I’m not so good at it?  The last time I played with them, they kept trying to slip me money without me seeing… and when I landed on their properties, they would say, “That’s okay, Mom, you don’t have to pay!”

Monopoly - definitely more important than making beds!

The smell of fresh baked cookies, when I’m not the one who has made them. Rebecca is our family baker, and is getting so good at it. Yesterday she made a batch of cookies, and when I wandered into the kitchen a while later, the counters were wiped, cookies were cooling, and the dishwasher was running.  I love those summer days, when nothing to do leads to something so delicious. (Unfortunately, they’re gone too quick for pictures!)

Bracelets. Yes, that kept my kids busy for a few days this past week. I was the proud recipient of two of them. I think they stopped weaving them when they ran out of room on their arms. :)

Part of the bracelet collection

These days at home with kids, they’re going fast. But I hope when they look back, they’ll have good memories of the ordinary, everyday days, like I do.



Summer just seems to be the time for getting together with family. One of my favourite summer memories as a kid was the family reunions that we had on my dad’s side of the family. My dad came from a family of twelve kids, and then added to the mix were his aunts and uncles and their families. We had so much fun playing together, swimming, tag…

I especially remember the crazy merry-go-round at the playground, where all the kids jump on as it’s moving and hang on for dear life, while a couple of kids run along the outside trying to make it go as fast as possible. I actually don’t remember anyone getting hurt on that one either; a miracle in itself!

With so many cousins around there was always someone to play with. I loved the fun and laughter when everyone got together. None of my aunts or uncles were especially quiet, and once everyone started talking and laughing, it would just get louder and louder. We had so much fun all together that I was sure one day I would have twelve kids of my own. People get a little quiet when I tell them I have five kids – I wonder what reaction my grandma got with twelve!

Anyway, this summer we’ve had a chance to enjoy a few family reunions. And when I look at my kids playing with their cousins, I hope when they grow up they have the same great memories that I have of time with spent with family.

This weekend we had a camp out with John’s family. Not everyone could make it  - but 63 of us did! Because it was a regular work weekend, our family wasn’t able to arrive on the Friday, since the reunion was six hours away. So we did the next best thing. We woke up all of the kids at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, and arrived by 8:00. A bit crazy, but fun.

Once we woke up, and  had our morning cup of coffee, the road trip was really nice. There was hardly any traffic, and some of the most beautiful scenery around. By about 5:00 the sky was getting light, and mist was rising from all of the fields. It made me realize what I’m missing all those mornings as I sleep in.

The last six miles of the trip were through the bush, on an old logging road. Our trailer bounced and squeaked along behind us, but we made it in once piece. We even arrived before some of the people were up!

We met another vehicle on the single lane road coming out at 7:30 in the morning – who would have thought? They ended up having to back up until the last turn off – with our trailer, there was no backing up or going around.

John’s uncle has a beautiful property on a lake, so peaceful and relaxing. There was so many fun things for everyone to do.

Ready to go tubing

Kayaking

The boys getting brave

Enjoying the sun and water

Kayaking in the sunset

Preparing for fireworks

Fireworks... somehow pictures can never quite capture them...

Moose pancakes for breakfast

What a great way to spend a weekend. It was so much fun to connect with family we hadn’t seen for a while. The two days were over far too quickly, and we were heading back home.

Sleepy, but content

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