Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holy Hannah.

If I could ever get near the PC for a span of time that was condusive to blogging, I would be a more prolific blogger, I'm sure. Locating the PC in the family room, next to the kitchen and beside the phone has benefits but there are some very significant blogging drawbacks.

Case in point: this post has taken me 27 minutes to finish.

~Mrs. A


A Mostly Optimistic Outlook

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

About a month ago I checked in. A week later, we were off to our official start of a new-to-us homeschooling school year. As we were headed to our annual local HSer picnic, I remembered that I should probably take some pictures.

Surprisingly, the kids didn't balk. I suppose my ' a hundred years when I'm old and alone and you're off gallivanting the globe all I have are pictures...' speech has finally started to sink in.

As I was saying...We're into our third official week of all things schoolish and I am happy to announce that I am feeling cautiously optimistic. We're being very schoolish this year which makes both the kids feel as though they are accomplishing things throughout the day. Now, if only I could get organized enough to get to more subjects through the week.

The Girl Child has begun her grade 9 year and as per her request, I am tracking her work so she can earn her high school credits or equivalent-to-credit. Of course, I must also plan and prepare her work. We are filling in a few holes in Science before starting credit work after Christmas. We are also planning for credits in Math, English, Art, Phys Ed, Science and an ILC Credit called Strategies For Success. Half credits are planned in History, Geography, Drama and perhaps Civics.

The Boy Child is officially grade 7 aged. He has a full schoolwork plate with some interesting things planned. More on that as the year progresses. It seems I'll need to brush up on my astrophysics. His guitar playing is moving forward in leaps and bounds. I'm gobsmacked at his playing by ear. I've ordered a theory book for him to start as I simply can't bear from him to continue lessons with no theory training! <--My hangup. The relationship he's developed with his teacher is absolutely perfect for him. I thought we'd stay no longer than a year with this particular teacher, but I've since changed my tune.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the school year unfolds. I scrapped all the planning I did over the summer (not too much, really) and I'm redoing it all. So I don't feel that I've got a handle on all the material we'll cover this year. It's coming though. Math, the first chunk of Science, Strategies For Success and the Shakespeare studies/Drama are all mapped out. I've outsourced Canadian History and French but am doing some supporting work at home. I've changed my record keeping and planning binder so that The Girl Child can work through just about anything we're to cover independently. This means I need an order of study and page numbers and worksheets ready to go. This was something that was really important to her - the option of being able to work on her own - so we're going with it. I'm more organized this way, to in theory, it should be a win-win scenario.

Challenges are afoot though. The Girl Child wants more social opportunities, a job and less time with her brother. They're both smarter and quicker than their mother! The Boy Child builds energy faster than he can drain it - and in a house full of introverted un-kinesthetic learning/working people, that's difficult! Staying consistent with a morning schedule that gets us (the kids and I) up and going is my particular nemesis, but I'm making progress. Getting off the sugar definitely helped.

So all in all a positive outlook and some general excitement about the coming year. I'm looking forward to seeing how we make out.

Mrs. A.


Mrs. A. Checks In...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today, while the world was spinning away with the business of the first day of school, the kidlets and I puttered around the house in a calm and collected manner.

I've taken on the administration of the local  home schoolers' email list. It's our primary means of connection and communication with other area homeschoolers. Today was catch-up day for me. I sent out 35 emails alerting everyone to upcoming programs and events. I welcomed a number of newer homeschoolers to the email list. It's scary that this work took me hours and hours. But, I'm also encouraged that I was balanced in my approach - we ate on schedule and everyone got to where they needed to be on time. Which leads me to my next point...

I've taken most sugars out of my diet (fruit is still ok or I'd have starved to death by now). I'm almost three weeks in now and doing so has led to an almost immediate improvement in my ability to wake up and function like a normal human being. Also vastly improved is my focus - I'm able to stay on task and accomplish things. I'm still a bit ambitious and flighty, but I tell you, when I say I'd like to complete the laundry today, the laundry gets washed, dried and put away. This has happened two weeks in a row now and I'm still amused. And it's a principle that I see repeated in various areas of my day. I suspect there may be a bit of a placebo effect happening as I'm paying more attention to my attention span, focus and mood, but I'd swear it's a little less foggy and distracted in here!

It truly feels like summer is winding down. The mornings and evenings are cool and getting darker. Hockey season is on the horizon. There are more jeans and socks and long sleeves in the laundry. I'm looking forward to our change in schedule as we turn our attention to book work and other schoolish pursuits. I think the kids are, too.

As this week winds down our own little world will begin spinning with new journals and math books, official high school credits and homeschool activities. We'll be paying more attention to coordinating schedules and I'll spend more time chauffeuring people here and there. A new season and good times ahead...

Mrs. A.


I'm Back!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I've been away. And there were butterflies.

Guess where we went?

I brought the rest of the family with me. I think they had a good time.

We even got to see a little piece of home away from home.

And now that we really are home...I get to sleep.


And Then There Were 4

Monday, April 25, 2011

A few days ago we muddled through the process of candling the eggs. I decided I should be over-cautious which resulted in a couple of '?' status reports on eggs #6 and #3. To be fair, they had lovely dark shells and I am very much a rookie and I certainly didn't want to disqualify anyone who didn't deserve it.

#5, #11, #13(my favourite: smooth and very pink shell with the cutest pointy end) and #15 all received positive reports granting them continued access to the incubator. Just yesterday I cleared out the rest after reading stories about bursting rotten eggs in the incubator. And, of course, after a second, very thourough, candling session.

Before 'lockdown', those important final three days when the eggs are not turned or touched and the incubator is not opened, I will check them once more for signs of life. I've been very realistic with the children, hoping they don't expect too much out of this experiment. I've been clear that even though all signs point to 4 little chicks in the very near future, sometimes eggs don't hatch or chicks don't survive the hatching process.

We should have some action on the 30th. XXXXX (←Crossed fingers )

Mrs. A.


New Project

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In typical homeschooling mother fashion, last week I found myself discussing the schoolish side of life with a fellow homeschooling mom. And in typical homeschooling mother fashion, I on-the-spot dove into an unexpected project. It is living underneath my messy, catch-all bulletin boards. In further typical homeschooling mother fashion, I have myself in fits over the little intricacies of this project. It's consuming brain cells and I'm sure my sleep will soon be affected. There are 16 chicken eggs baking in there. If I could get the temperature to sit still, I'd feel a lot better. I'm not sure how many are fertilized. We're on Day 3 right now. At about Day 8 I can check and see if I have any baby chickens growing. I don't expect they will all develop, let alone hatch, but the hope is that there will be at least some action. The eggs are from a nearby farm of a homeschooling chicken-raising mom. She's very cool and busy with 4 kidlets under 9. If this chicken hatching scheme works out, even a little, it will be a win-win for both of us. She gets new fowl for her flock and I get a really cool science experiment. If I'm not too devastated after my first go at this, I will probably do it again. I'll just have to manage another very un-typical homeschooling mother 21-days at home... ♥Mrs. A. ...who would be a lot less crazy if her paragraph spacing would stay where it was put!



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So many changes, so little time! It feels like 2011 has been just flying by so far.

The mandatory schedule changes I am suffering this year are not fun to get used to. Mr. A's work schedule changed in January necessitating my house-wife-y duties to resume before 7am. Not popular. Especially with the 'Spring Forward' time change. Other of my house-wife-y duties have had to be rescheduled as well since Time-of-Use hydro pricing has come into play in our city. Laundry and baking are now usually saved for the weekend.

My efforts to focus my energy this year are challenging - but it's a good challenge. I'm planning and organizing more efficiently as I focus on my list of priorities (really, I had to make a sticky note to remind myself). As a result, I find myself a little more accepting of what I do - or don't - accomplish throughout the day. I raise my voice less even when frustrated and stressed. Cool side effect.

Mr. A, The Boy Child, Miss K and I have been seeing our share of family changes as well. Mr. A's daughter, Miss B, has been able to spend some time with us. This new, very welcomed and long awaited change began last summer. We've moved through the novelty and excitement of a new arrangement into a more real eyes-wide-open time of learning about new family dynamics.

With the physical size of people changing around here it's become very apparent that if the size of the house can't change, then the layout and organization must. Adding one pre-teen girl to my collection of newly teen girl and pre-teen boy makes the relative size of one's sofa very small. In fact, it made the entire seating/lounging/sprawling situation very difficult. So Mr. A and I have been doing our very best to make changes to make things a little more comfortable.

Today we added new furniture. In preparation, we moved old furniture to a new rec room type space in our partly finished basement. Adding furniture gave me the perfect opportunity to rearrange our entire main floor. This is our main living area and I haven't been able to rearrange it for many, many, many years. The biggest change was removing the entertainment unit which paved the way for a nicely flowing open concept living area. I love it.

Surprisingly, the kidlets have entered the ranks of the working class. My brother-in-law has gathered them up on occasion and taken them to work at his marina. The arrangement has been working out very nicely and plans are to have regular workdays throughout the summer. Being a business man, my brother-in-law gave instruction on negotiating a wage the very first day the kids were there. He wrote them up a paycheque at the end of the day, much to their delight.

Miss K has been asked to provide her services to my sister, a new mom, as a mother's helper. Homeschooling has never been so flexible! We easily find a couple of hours once day a week for Miss K to watch my new nephew.

On the horizon are exciting things: our first foray into competitive sports for The Boy Child; a regular volunteer position for Miss K and I at the local therapeutic riding program; homeschooling highschool. Among the exciting upcoming things are everyday efforts: returning to running - this time with Miss K joining in; a surprise visit States-side to my mother-in-law's for Mother's Day; a new sesame allergy (added to Miss K's peanut allergy). And so life goes on.

Mrs. A.



Thursday, March 31, 2011

The maple syrup farmers have been busy the last couple of weeks in this neck of the woods. Some of the resulting bounty has found its way to my pantry. I'm very excited at the amount of fresh local syrup I've been able to find.

4 Litres (a gallon) were made by a co-worker of Mr. A who makes syrup as a hobby. We signed up for 2 litres but we pleasantly surprised at being offered another two. It seems it was a sap-plenty season. This is the first time I've had syrup packed per litre into large mason jars. I love this option! There's a lovely wide pouring surface, the jars are reusable and they are so much better than the top-heavy store bought jar that is constantly falling over in my fridge.

The large 4L is from a local syrup farm that has a limited run of syrup packaged in 4L containers. My mom tries to get a family order in early so my whole extended family gets a large jug that will last (some of them) all year. In my house, maple syrup is very nearly a food group. I'm excited to see how long I can stretch this batch. I'm already down a pint: 2 batches of maple fudge and a load of breakfast pancakes.

The last few months have seen a huge surge in maple syrup prices around here. 500mL (2cups) is $13 at the grocery store. We don't have a year-round farmer's market, so once you run out, you're forced into buying from the grocery store. This year's local homemade is selling at $12 per liter. Mr. A is glad to have found such a great 'deal' as well. He is newer to the maple syrup habit having grown up on that other stuff they call syrup...but it's not. Thankfully we have the extra grocery money to put up this much syrup.

With the arrival of the syrup, I can now finally agree that Spring is here. I'm sure there are other signs if I would only go outside and notice them. I will be calling an end to my seasonal hibernation this week...fueled by the need to disperse the extra maple fudge to somewhere other than my hips counter top.

♥Mrs. A


March Madness

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today was a March Madness day. My people were here, there and everywhere requiring this, that and more. On top of it all, I had a number of responsibilities and obligations to meet.

One of today's obligations included the creation and distribution of Mint Oreo Truffles. Yum!

Perhaps it's my age. Perhaps it's just years and years of trying, but I must say that I'm proud of myself for accomplishing all of today's 'to do's without the usually meltdown...which usually manifests itself in the form of a flappable, loud, ornery and barely productive woman. Yea me.

It's interesting to see the difference in their needs as my kids get older. Still needy, but in a totally different way than when they were toddlers requiring all sorts of physically demanding care. Although, I do have to question the increased amount of lap-time being required by a certain Miss K. Not that I mind, but she is taller than me now, and quickly gaining on me in the mass department as well.

I suppose I notice the differing needs more these days as my siblings have begun having babies. And nice babies. I'm sure my babies were just as nice...I'm sure I would have properly noticed if I hadn't been so sleep deprived. So I'm thankful that I'm able to stay home and spend every day with my grown-up babies.

Now I'm off to relax and bask in the glow of a productive day. Tomorrow I'll wake up and try to do it all aver again.

~Mrs. A.


My Cautious Boy

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Boy has been playing guitar. He saved up his allowance last year and bought a very lovely acoustic guitar. Since then, he saved up his allowance and has bought himself a nice little beginner electric guitar with amp.

Mr. A. and I are sending him to lessons with great success. He's flown through the first beginner book. He practices lots...although he could use some guided practice in my humble opinion, but this is his ballgame so I'm letting him run with it.

He really likes his teacher who was chosen due to his close geographical proximity to us. There was the small bonus factor of his being an old family friend from Mr. A's childhood.

The Boy and his guitar teacher get along famously. I hadn't fully realized how well they were matched until after this week's lesson when The Boy returned home and related his conversation to me.

The Boy asked his teacher if there was anything new and exciting going on. The teacher replied that he never does anything exciting. He prefers a more steady and scheduled existence. The Boy said he understood, but wondered what his teacher might choose to do if the opportunity presented itself.
Because isn't it always better to plan one's exciting activities?

The teacher asked for a suggestion. Bungee jumping was tabled. The Boy and his teacher then proceeded to list the reasons against doing such an exciting thing: a new rope couldn't be used as it hadn't been tested in the field yet. But just the same, a used rope could fail at any time. And what if the guy running the show measured wrong or his math wasn't reliable? But certainly one couldn't measure the rope reliably on their own; doesn't that require some kind of training? Jumping from a bridge over water presents drowning possibilities. Yet jumping off a cliff presents possibilities worse than a little water in the lungs. Even if all goes well, who's to say there won't be long term consequences to your body?

I can just imagine them both sitting there wearing guitars, their feet up on those curious little one-foot guitar playing props, nodding sagely at each other as they methodically nailed the bungee jumping coffin shut.
So The Boy, now understanding that he shares the same calculating tendencies and innate cautiousness as his teacher, makes a final comment on the subject. If ever presented with the opportunity to do an exciting thing, his teacher should peer over the side of the Hoover Dam. It's so exciting that you only need to peek for a second before your head goes all funny and you need to step back. And just like that, in only a second or two, you get all the exciting feelings you need.

It's like checking things off a list with this kid.


Has Anyone Seen My Rose Coloured Glasses??

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I was all set to call this blog post 'Back to the Grind' but that would imply some grinding being done in the recent past.

The 'official' end of our Winter holiday happened a week and a half ago. To appease the minions, I schedule our school year according to the local school calendar. I suppose it works out well as the school days are measurable in case I was ever asked to speak to the amount of school work we do. However, by following the local schedule, I'm also constantly reminded that although it seems that society is brainwashed into believing that school is a consistent variable in a child's life, school attendance is actually very inconsistent. There are very few 5-day school weeks in the 36-week schedule. But I digress. My point is that we should be back to a full complement of school work by now.

Every day I've been dreading the work that hasn't, and isn't, being done. Throughout the fall, I gave up on one thing after another. My planner pages are blank for more of weeks 1 through 14 than not. World history stalled at week 3. Miss K's math was a disaster that still hasn't been solved. And The Boy Child's science - other than self-directed experiments in gravity, density and trajectory, the engineering of forts (indoor and out) and some theoretical dabble in time travel and astrophysics - has been nonexistent....never mind.

I suppose my point is this: I've failed miserably on the measurable outcomes in Scheduled Paper Work Land. But if I do some careful observation, I know that learning and other valuable work is being done. I just have to figure out why I'm being so hard on myself about the whole situation.

But I've resigned myself to a steely attitude of stick-with-it-ness no matter the cost. And the cost today very nearly had me swerving into the high-school parking lot I was driving past to be front and center at the 'Open House For 8th Graders' they were hosting in the gym. Crossing against three lanes at lunch hour was the only thing that stopped me. Later, I was thinking that I probably won't break Miss K in just one dismal-ish year of homeschooling. It was the thought I had when she was 6 (minus the dismal) and we were just embarking on this homeschooling journey. I just thought I'd have things down pat by year 8.

Sometimes stick-with-it-ness is depressing. But I think it is better than the alternative - throwing in the towel. So, I will look forward to another homeschooling day tomorrow. Even though I'm not having a good academic time right now, I still appreciate each and every day I have my kids at home with me.

Mrs. A.


Off and On My Needles

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

All year (2010) I had a plan. In the fall, I would make a kabajillion little knitted Christmas ornaments. I had my supplies collected and stashed in a bag ready to go. Fall came. I began knitting fiddly little hat and sweaters for corks. Trust me, the finished product is Waldorf-y and cute.

I was so proud of myself for being so organized and prepared. It was very unlike myself.

Then the beginning of December dawned. I came across the cutest knitted snowman ever. I didn't even pause to try to talk myself into saving this new-found cuteness for the next Christmas season, reasoning that I had a perfectly adequate project on the go. No, I dropped everything and set my sights on knitting an army of snowmen.

I created a pattern as I went and was happy with the results. I happened to be at my knitting club when I finished the first snow-manny. I sent it home with the mom of a four-year-old. Feedback was positive. Said four-year-old moved Snow-Manny to the primary cuddly sleep spot in his bed. Two weeks later, Snow-Manny had created a number of angst induced 'incidents' when he went rolling off on his own, becoming very difficult to find. While Mom of Four-Year-Old attended the last knitting club meeting of 2010, Dad of Four-Year-Old was building a little house for Snow-Manny to live in when he was not in hand, thus preventing any lost Snow-Manny angst ridden Christmas holiday nights.

Throughout the Christmas season, I managed to make a small army of Snow-Mannies. I was reminded of Calvin's snowmen when I lined them all up. Something about the arms, I think. The army was split up and sent their various ways as gift toppers and tree ornaments for family and friends.

Snowmen are officially off my needles, although I will be knitting another soon so as to write down the pattern as I go.

On Christmas Eve, I opened a package and found two balls of variegated Riot sock yarn. As soon as gift opening obligations were over, I cast on a Noro Striped Scarf (Ravelry link). It's a simple, mindless pattern, but I am so looking forward to the colour shifting effect in the finished product. This is a perfect project to take along to knitting club as it's a mindless knit - more brain power to devote to chatting!

So that is the extent of my latest knitting. Instead of actually knitting, I have been spending much of my knitting energy in careful contemplation of my Knitting Year Resolutions. I'm getting quite a list: I will be making a monthly knitting newsletter for my previously mentioned knitting club. I want to read two knitting related books to include in the monthly newsletter (see how I inserted some accountability there?!) I will be leading a monthly knitted dishcloth for the group as well. Personally, I am going to participate in a year-long Christmas ornament knit-a-long. And just for me, perhaps a self imposed sock club. I just need to decide if I will attempt a pair of socks a month, or just one sock per month. I'm looking forward to all of this, I just hope I can follow through!

Off to finish January's first kniterary selection,

~Mrs. A


I'm Glad To See Twenty-Eleven

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The holidays arrived - even though I was wishing someone would dump the last half of December off the calendar - and departed with much ado in our household.

Being predictably myself, though, I have managed to pull a few positive things out of a pretty miserable month.

The Most Surprising Thing literally showed up on my door step smack in the middle of our annual Christmas Eve celebration. It was my brother, fresh from a whirlwind 17-hr flight and 24-hrs of travel from Korea. And as fast and unexpectedly as he arrived, he's on with his tomorrow after flying all day today back to his temporary home abroad. His unexpected visit made for a very fun and memorable Christmas and New Years...and hectic. Definitely hectic.

The Most Enjoyable Scheduled Event happened mid-December at my knitting club meeting. I've been trying to pull off a local knitting club with some success. For our last meeting of the year, I planned a small Christmas celebration with decorations and snacks and music. There are such a nice bunch of people that attend and they were all able to make it for the party. A motley crew, but it's so nice to spend time with others who make the time and effort to be somewhere.

And finally, the Most Awesome Thing was the arrival of the household's first teenager :-) She is lovely...even first thing in the morning just before opening her birthday gift. I simply cannot call her The Girl Child anymore, especially since she is taller than I am. She will need to be Miss K from now on.

Other excitement included a New Year's Eve family challenge of skill, smarts and silliness in which yours truly emerged victorious...with a trophy. It was a team trophy, but a trophy that I can claim and my brothers can't. I'm not sure that something like that has ever occurred before. Pictures forthcoming....after the engraving of the trophy. Told you it was real.

So onward into 2011. Today was gloomy and grey outside. We had some gloomy on the inside as well. I think just post-holiday greyishness. It was a welcome quiet day after such a busy couple of weeks. Although I feel the pressure to make a resolution, I've decided against it. I have a list of things to focus on instead.

Happy New Year. I hope the spring-ish feelings of renewal and refreshment take hold here in the A house as well as with the one or two of you who happen to pop by here.

~Mrs. A.


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