Thursday, October 20, 2016

Into the forest

Ten minutes from our home and right off a busy road we use often is a very small parking area and a wide trail canopied in trees visible from the road. I've been noticing this trail becoming more golden each time we drove past.
With yesterday's cloudless sky and warm fall weather, it was the perfect day to go for a walk before heading to swimming classes and playground play.
I do not know why a plastic Bob the Builder Hammer was needed on this trip, but it made several appearances in our outing, including a Statue of Liberty pose.
We also heard a woodpecker a couple of times, but could not find the tree being pecked, likely because the suspected trees were towering so high over us and the leaf canopy provided much shelter. Seth had the idea to hug the tree we thought it was to see if he could feel the vibrations, but by then, the woodpecker had stopped his business, so general hilarity resumed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Baby Seeds

Baby Seeds

In a milkweed cradle, 
snug and warm,
baby seeds are hiding,
safe from harm.

Open wide the cradle,

Hold it high!

Come, Mr. Wind,

 Help them fly.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Field Trip

This is our sixth year visiting this historical village in Eastern Ontario in early September with other homeschooling families. We had a beautiful day to enjoy walking around this village. While waiting for the saw mill to start, we visited the broom maker's cottage and watched him finish up a tall broom. He makes the brooms out of sorghum which is grown there in the village and sews it together with linen thread, if I remember correctly.
My favorite room this year was the spinning wheel room in the dressmaker's cottage. The 'dressmaker' was outside behind the cottage, tending a fire and several large pots filled with natural dye materials soaking and yarn in various stages of being dyed. We stopped to watch her work and chat with some other visitors who were asking her questions. Then we went inside, and I was ready to move in and put on the kettle.
The lovely yellow floor was being warmed by the afternoon sun pouring in the windows and all the implements on display for yarn work were bathed in this glorious light.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

this week

We unofficially kicked off a new year of lessons on Tuesday.
Unofficial because I haven't baked the traditional chocolate cupcakes yet. Also unofficial because I am not counting it as Week 1 on the Ambleside Online schedule I follow because it is a short week for us.
We only had lessons Tuesday, Wednesday and today. Tomorrow we make our annual trek with other homeschoolers to a historical village where we hang out with the farm animals and talk to blacksmiths, dressmakers, coopers and the school teacher(all actors of course) in various buildings. It is my favorite field trip of the year.

This week found us mostly in review mode: Bible memory work, musical note-reading, penmanship, counting and abacus work, Phonics, typing and Latin to name a few.
We watched videos on field drawing basics from John Muir Laws, how to make wet and dry mount slides for our telescope, and balancing chemical equations from Kahn Academy.
We read aloud from some of the free read books we did not finish in June, 'Wind in the Willows', 'Ivanhoe' and 'The Hobbit'. I should probably feel guilty about this, but I've decided to save that guilt for things like: never exercising, eating fattening sweets and watching long British murder mysteries (nah, not much guilt there) and of course, reading way too many books at the same time.

I found a sizable caterpillar on one of my wax bean plants that I pulled up on Tuesday. So I hauled the bean branch it was clinging to inside and set up a little terrarium to watch him. I wrongly assumed he was eating the bean leaves until I finally took time to look him up and realize that he is a black swallowtail butterfly larva who actually prefers parsley.
Out to the garden to bring some of mine in along with a bit of dill and carrot tops which were also mentioned as possible diet preferences. But it was indeed the parsley he munched on that first evening. I stuck a twig in the jar to make sure he would have something to cling to if the pupa stage was just around the corner.
Twenty-four hours of clinging to that branch, not tempted by any leaves, my son noticed a single silky thread attached to the branch early this morning. By late afternoon, our brightly colored caterpillar was shrouded in a drab brown pupa.
In my further research I found that apparently some pupa can be infected with wasp eggs, so you don't get a butterfly, you get wasps. Great. So now I likely will not be able to keep this thing because it's hard to tell if the pupa is the right size and color. Anyway, we have learned a lot in the last 48 hours.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

a cautionary tale perhaps

Conscience and Remorse
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

"Good-bye," I said to my conscience--
"Good-bye for aye and aye,"
And I put her hands off harshly,
And turned my face away;
And conscience smitten sorely
Returned not from that day.

But a time came when my spirit
Grew weary of its pace;
And I cried: "Come back, my conscience;
I long to see thy face."
But conscience cried: "I cannot;
Remorse sits in my place."

~ taken from The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum by Laura M. Berquist

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

time away

We spent a week at my parents' home in Pennsylvania which went by very fast for my Mom and me, but not as fast for my children, which was exactly how I remember summer days, lasting forever. Now I blink a couple of times and they are over in the same way that the setting sun brings a quiet end to an afternoon pool party.
We drove both of our vehicles down since Shane was only staying for the long weekend before heading back to work. This left us with our new-to-us vehicle to bring the kids and I home on the following weekend. Those last two photos, while not aesthetically beautiful, capture the sentiment that pervaded our long screen-free, road construction-filled car ride home. But the friendly Canadian border agent made me smile, bringing us home that last 45 minutes with hope that we would not descend into a scene from Lord of the Flies after all. Any future car trips will have a screen for Kate to help persuade her away from repeatedly and nearly sadistically bothering her younger sister.
Our time was well spent with my parents, my uncle and other extended family members.
We also visited my step-grandmother, who just turned eighty-seven this past Sunday. She is my last grandparent still with us and her laugh and teasing spirit still shine through as strong as ever. She crocheted a warm granny-square blanket for me as a baby and my girls still use it and know it came from her, as did most of their doll clothes which she made for my cabbage patch dolls years ago. She has a wonderful personal support worker who cares for her several times a week and even visits my grandma on her days off.
We helped in various ways care for my parents acreage and picked and ate the few wine-berries we could find on their property. Since we visited later in the summer than we usually do, we missed the wild black raspberries which we are used to foraging for.
We were there to celebrate both my Dad's birthday and Laura's birthday which come the last two days of July and bring lots of cake, presents and good food made by my Mom. The girls both took turns having a fever off and on but no other symptoms appeared and naps and good nighttime sleep helped bring them back to good health after the weekend.
That preserved note mounted on the side of the kitchen counter about the spider makes me laugh each time I see as it portrays quite accurately the various facets of our family issues. You can see where my mom dated it after she reassured (in writing!)the writer, my older sister, that the spider had been dealt with. This is a fairly new piece of family history but it captures a whole lifetime of concerns.
I managed to snap a few photos of the scenery and winding roads that are so familiar to me, mostly just for me to have. These Pennsylvania roads are so different from the roads we use here in Ontario and often that is the striking feature that Canadians remember about traveling there. What stood out to me this trip was the old stone houses, stone fences/border markers and stone barn foundations. I saw it in Upstate New York too as we momentarily left the main highway to avoid some construction delays. It is so appealing to see the stone work carefully preserved and displayed and noticeably absent in the more recent housing areas.  Creeks and barns also are main features of the countryside throughout Pennsylvania and New York.
I attempted to fight through the bush across the road from my parents' property to find the stream that I played around in as a youth, but I wasn't wearing proper footwear so I gave up. Next time I'm packing my tall rain boots and really exploring.