Thursday, February 16, 2017

winter days

I have had these pictures lined up ready to go for several weeks now and too many other things have claimed my attention instead. But this record-keeping goes on, and my efforts to keep track of our days are rewarded by seeing these photos of how our time has been spent.
We have ample time for our lessons these days as we have no extra-curricular activities until spring comes. Kate is seeing her OT once a month now and has started with an SLP for speech every two weeks. She happily spends one morning a week with dear friends who take her sledding and dog-walking and feed her lunch and give her bubble baths. It is a gift that they generously provide for our family.

January did not bring many sunny days, but February has made up for it both in sun and snow. I have been doing a ton of online reading, and some pre-reading for Seth's Term 2 books, but hardly any of my shelf books and only a few library reads. In the evenings, I have opted for watching British television movies and series.
I just finished watching three seasons of something I found unexpected at the library called The House of Eliott which follows two fashion-designing sisters and their love stories in London in the 20's. It was very enjoyable, although the final season didn't wrap up the storyline very well as the show was unexpectedly canceled by the BBC. But I would watch it again, even knowing that the end hangs a bit. I don't usually watch this much television, preferring to read, study or catch up on Instagram or Pinterest in the evenings, but I have enjoyed the stories so much, I feel little guilt.

I have ordered some of this year's garden seeds from my usual place, Terra Edibles, here in Ontario.
I always order the Bronze Arrowhead lettuce, yellow wax beans, yellow zucchini and peas. This year, I also added in some Chantenay Carrots to try. I have been growing rainbow carrots, but decided to go back to traditional long orange carrots as my soil gets loamier and looser each year.
I plan to buy all my cucumber and tomato plants this year and not grow them from seed at all. I did save pea and bean seeds from my garden, but I don't trust them yet, so I bought extra just in case. I will try my saved marigold and zinnia seeds but won't feel as let down if they turn out to be duds.

Next week is the Annual Book Sale at a local church. I think this might be my tenth year going. Our family library owes most of its existence to this book sale, not counting our theology books and other non-fiction titles. But our classics and all ages of children's books have been found by combing through the boxes and tables at this sale. I actually dreamt the other night about being at the sale and I gasped when I realized that I had missed going to the children's classics shelf; I hurried back into that room and then woke up without seeing what was on the shelves.
I would say that falls pretty darn close to a nightmare.

This teetering stack was from 2012.

P.S. Yes, you may have noticed that we finally replaced our old black leather couch with a new pull-out bed one from Ikea. It came in two boxes, one of which weighed a ton that we managed to get into our SUV with bungee cords to hold the back gate down. (It was a little breezy on the way home but we just cranked the heat a little bit more. January cold can't beat a new couch purchase!)
Then with a small handtruck and a very strong husband, he and I traipsed it all the way to our front door and wrangled it inside the house, and finally trucked the old one out to the curb for garbage night with help from two pajama-clad kids. (The other pajama-clad kid was already fast asleep in her bottom bunk and none the wiser about what was happening. I put her on the new couch in the dark the next morning and she realized right away it felt different. The look on her face when I turned on the light was so great.)
Next on the purchase list is a new dining table, and yes, it might be from Ikea too.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January living

It feels like we zipped through Christmas week which was spent with my parents and helping my youngest deal with a chest cold. The first week in January was a full week of house cleaning, organizing, purging and lesson planning.

I posted back in early December how we moved Kate upstairs to sleep on the bottom bunk of her sister's bed, which left her crib empty except for afternoon naps. I couldn't justify the space it took up even if it facilitated a better nap/quiet time session, so down it came. My mom bought us that crib second-hand when Seth was born in Pennsylvania. So it was bittersweet (to me!) for him to be the one who disassembled it for garbage day.
Shane did some basement organization back in late fall that helped clear up the floor space, but left some things inaccessible for Laura to play with. So part of the reorganization task for me was to make the toys and pretend play items more visible and accessible for the kids to use. It also meant I needed to be willing to part with some things. Several large bags and boxes later, the deed was done.

I also moved a tall bookcase from our bedroom which held a ton of my books, papers, magazines, and stuff to the basement and moved up Seth's old desk that had been slated for donation. I had been thinking for months on how to give myself a desk space and finally settled on removing my bookshelf in exchange for the desk. It means that my 'new nightstand' and desk are competing for space, but the desk is too far away to perform double duty, so I'm fine with a desk drawer that cannot be pulled out all the way.

(Mom, do you recognize Grandad's cupboard? It was in Laura's room, but her new Ikea dollhouse needed the space, so I took it for my new space. The little china cupboard is now in the hallway. I love having these pieces in my home. Btw, we are back to using our newlywed quilt that you bought for us since I haven't been able to find a new one to replace our tattering one. This one has been used outside for picnics in recent years, but I had recently washed it, so on it goes.)

We headed back into our lessons this past week and did very well after taking almost three weeks off for Christmas break. Laura is a more eager reader and gaining some fluency, slowly. We began to work on her cursive in addition to continue to work on her printing. It was a bit of learning curve, but making the paper angled correctly made her sweeping motions much easier. I purchased a pdf workbook for cursive from Logic of English before Christmas and I am printing off the pages as we need them. I plan to try their manuscript pdf workbook and see if she does better. So far we have been using Explode the Code and it's just okay. She has trouble remembering where to start for all the different lowercase letters. I used Handwriting Without Tears for Seth and have an extra unused workbook but I would like to try Logic of English Manuscript. We are also really taking off in her math, using Rightstart, the same as her brother did. I love this curriculum even though it is teacher intensive. It makes so much mathematical sense and builds so well on the previous lessons. It makes me feel math smart.
The rest of their books and lessons really need their own post, maybe just a bunch of photos of their books, that's about all I will likely take the time for.

Out back along the river is still fenced off and construction vehicles go past throughout the day, but they haven't been digging behind us lately.  I was given instructions today to go outside this week and offer the workmen muffins and ask about their finish date. (Thank you, Vanessa for that idea.)
I'm afraid to hear what it is and how long it will take to get some grass growing back there again. Spring is going to be very muddy and I'm wondering if the bees will even come to my garden if there are no wildflowers growing. I'm trying not to worry about the mess and think about my upcoming garden plans instead.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

May to November Book List

Somewhere back in June, I fell off the book list wagon and didn't look back until now.
Whoa, Nellie.
I was dutifully working on reading books already on my shelf and interrupting those stacks periodically to throw in a book or three from our local library system when I obviously made the fatal mistake of buying more books both online and in real bookstores here and across the border this summer.
A couple of friends also brought me some interesting books to borrow because they obviously hate me.
In addition to all of these books, I dug out the books that Seth will be reading for his Grade 8 year and began to do some pre-reading.
It's a sickness, but I heard there is no cure. None at all.

So to keep my sanity, I'm just doing a bare-bones list. No reviews (I have enjoyed all of them), just the books I've actually finished this year.

Here they are in mostly the order they were read.


Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Tree by Britta Teckentrup


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (first started this in June 2003, finally finished this after giving series to the son who was born in June 2003)
Worms by Bernard Friot, illustrated by Aurelie Guillerey


Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons
The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera (second time, for a Mom's book club meeting)


Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller (recommended by my friend Karla)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
A Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew A. Campbell (reread for lesson preparation)


Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (a read aloud from Year 7 finally finished)
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo (reread for book club)
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (reread for book club)
Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Llyod, illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie
Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada and Dean Merrill (recommended by my friend Janet)

Library Loans Mostly Finished

The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson
Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford
Homesteading in the 21st Century by George Nash and Jane Waterman

Monday, December 12, 2016

true bedtime stories

Bunk beds are a very average item.  Perhaps even below average, more like items that you mention in the same sentence as sauce pot. People have them, but you don't really talk about them, unless your bedtime routines have encountered them. Then it's something to talk about because we seem to talk about our sleep habits, the good and the bad, with friends and strangers, right after we finish up the topic of the weather. It's something we all have in common, sleep. Not all done in bunk beds unless you are seven, or eight, or almost a new nine year old. Or on a boat or a train or in a camp cabin.

We have had bunk beds in our house for years now. The first set we put up were from my own childhood, although we had not got very far before we realized that the amount of sway they had accumulated over the years was very close to that of a hammock. Not the type of sturdy bed frame we were planning for our oldest. Down came the frame and end boards, and up went a brand new set courtesy of that big store that starts with a W and ends in -mart.

The time came this fall when we decided to go with a loft bed for our oldest with his desk and storage space underneath and his youngest sister inherited his beds. The plan had been to move the middle sister up to join her little sister at some point, but that seemed like a complete life-wrecker idea so it was put off for a long time.

Last Monday night, that long time ended and we put her to bed on the bottom bunk at her usual bedtime which is earlier than the other two. We fussed over the bed gate, the pillow and the amount and placement of pillows. We took photos, we prayed, we kissed her little face and then we turned out the lights. Then the checking and worrying began.
Would she get out of bed in the middle of the night and cause havoc or worse take a tumble down the hallway stairs?
Would she make strange noises that woke us all up, or just me?
Would she wake up at the ridiculous hour of 5am and think we should all be getting up?

In fact, she had a good night.
Too good.
I woke up a little after 5am wondering what she would be doing, couldn't fall back asleep, and so began my morning routine very quietly and way too early. Neither girl stirred until close to 7am which is unheard of in this house. Also it made me think we could do this without the horror I imagined.
The next night, we followed the same routine, minus the picture-taking and ribbon-cutting.
The details are now fuzzy, but at some point in the night, I heard a noise, got up to re-settle her and discovered that her very full diaper was soaking her pajamas and her bedclothes. I quietly rummaged for clean items, moved her to the other end of the bed and put her back to sleep. No one slept-in that morning, and I was grumpy and ready to swear-off this experiment.
I was persuaded that she needed to be given another chance. Bible verses from my oldest, although not necessary and definitely taken out of context, may have been invoked to convince me.
Trips to the potty were secured before lights-out and we tucked her in for another night which was uneventful, the way sleep was meant to be. Her defenders rejoiced and backslapping was heard round the house.
We are now up to Night # 7 and although I have woke up at some point most nights or early mornings to settle her down, it seems to be an overall good arrangement.

In other news, I noticed last week in my sidebar that this year had the least amount of posts written of all the last ten years. Wow, did I feel pathetic. I also noticed back in November that my posts about books read or quotes from books dropped right off sometime in early spring.
It's like this year,  I just gave up on all my literary activities and forgot to care. And I also can't tell you to look for an upcoming book post because if I tell you I'm going to do it, that guarantees I will not post any such thing. So to stop the navel gazing, I end with a dark and grainy image of one of the world's newest bunk-bed users.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

making tea

 I first saw the idea of fabric play tea bags on Pinterest  a long time ago, but when my girls and I were invited to celebrate a dear little friend's four-year-old birthday earlier in November, I decided to give the idea a try.
I didn't have a good tutorial, so I fumbled my way through two methods before settling on this style.
Looking through my fabric stash, I found this Beatrix Potter cotton print that I had purchased many years ago. This was perfect for our little friend who has been watching the sweet animated cartoons for the last year or so with her little brother.
I decided to stuff some whole clove pieces in with the quilt batting to give them a pleasant scent during tea time play.
I decorated a little storage box that was easy to open and close and included a set of four demitasse-sized spoons from Ikea. I lined both the tea box and the spoon box with pieces of felt for beauty and softness.
It came together so nicely and my seven year old requested some to be made for her kitchen.

In the meantime, I decided to break into my Christmas fabric stash bought on sale after Christmas last year. And while searching for project ideas, I decided to just continue the tea bag theme, this time adding a dash of peppermint flavoring to the quilt batting. The tea is ready!