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    Homeschooling Adventures: Upper Canada Village

    Frequently I am asked about our reasons for homeschooling, and it seems I am never able to deliver the right message, the real juice behind why homeschooling suits us. I tend to ramble on about how disappointing the experience has been with BigBrother’s schooling years, about the lack of emphasis on the foundational skills such as handwriting and spelling, not to mention the fact that children are essentially, raising themselves while they are away from their parents for the majority of their young lives.  People tend to nod, half interested, hardly convinced. I’m not interested in standing on my soapbox because I know the decision isn’t everyone’s brand. (We’re a seventh generation laundry soap kinda famjam while others prefer Tide; and ya know what? I think if we all used the same kind, no one would notice how delicious their soap smelled, cause everyone would be wearin it.) Someday, perhaps the next time I’m asked, I might just tell people some of the real reasons we choose to bypass traditional education.

    Cue photos of awesomely fun times:
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    uppercanadavillagefunWho doesn’t want to spend their days with friends, despite their ages? Who doesn’t want to learn from real life experiences, using all of our powerful senses? uppercanadavillage3Learning to work together, respecting each other’s individual skills, is something that children need help with, and who better for the job than a person who she deeply respects. It could be a parent or a carefully selected individual. We can see all around us that children need someone to orbit around, and if we don’t help them choose those people, they WILL find ’em themselves, whether we think it’s best or not.uppercanadavillage2Sibling relationships, although not always amicable, are valuable. uppercanadavillage4

    How about just being outside?Uppercanadavillage

    How about having the freedom to grow and learn in the direction that best suits your family? How about saying to your kids ” Get your stuff on we’re going out”. And then you just…do.

    The opportunity to learn is everywhere…just waiting for you to drink it up!

     

    Happy learning, happy living,

    HayMama

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    The Midnight Hour

    This one’s short and sweet. You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve just come off a great late night high. The kind that’s induced by a quiet house, the midnight hour, chocolate cake made for me by a dear friend, and soulful conversation with the love of my life, my partner in crime, my best friend. Everything wonderful comes at a price, and last night, I paid in hours of sleep, but it was definitely worth the sacrifice. We spoke about our life and our dreams. We rehashed our master plan, beating it down and building it up, building each other up. Yes you can do it, yes we can do it. But we can’t do it the way we are going about it right now. SO we’ve marked some milestones on the calendar, we’ve set some financial goals, and we’ve planned our summer. It’s going to be a good one. beach6 beach7forestwalk

     

    HayMama

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    Musical Monday

    Music is a pretty important part of our lives here; it’s what brings us together before bed while we sing along to Papa Bear’s guitar playing. It’s how we clean the house. It’s how we measure time (let’s clean your room in just one song okay?). It’s how we handle car rides (6 songs, one news break and a commercial block to dance class). We have songs that mark milestones in our past, and some we’ve tucked away for future events. It’s what makes us smile on the inside.

    Throw back to 2002. Where would you have found me? The bottom bunk, in a teensy cabin full of female camp counsellors, the place where I met my best gal. Sigh. What did we do while we hid from the campers you ask? Listen to Nora and eat snacks…..same thing I do as a grown up when I need a quick breather.

     

    Happy listening,

    xo

    HayMama

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    For the Mamas

    Being a mother means that your heart is no longer yours; it wanders wherever your children do.

    ~Author UnknownmothersdaypostThanks to the mamas for everything you do… our own mamas included.

    Happy Weekending

    xo

    HayMama

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    The Beach and Bathroom Hideouts

    Yesterday was the kinda day when we decided to leave it all behind, the mess, the dishes, the unfinished paperwork, and the hunt for the best topsoil price. We packed up our picnic basket with some fruit salad, water, and iced coffee for Mama, and headed straight for the place that no other Canadian would ever dare to go this time of year– the beach. beach1
    We took turns holding our wings out like birds, until we almost blew away. The wind was incredibly powerful, so much that we couldn’t hear each other unless we shouted. More than once, we were chasing after our belongings, and of course, we never once set foot in the water. beach5beach3beach4We left sun kissed and refreshed. I could be the kind of blogger who tells you that I returned home to the mess and calmly put it all away. The kids ate all their vegetables, and I sent them off to bed with no complaints, but then you’d either think I’m lying, or you’d wonder why your children don’t do the same, and since I’m not out to do either, I’ll tell you what actually happened…

    It’s 9pm, dishes are still scattered as well as a plethora of building blocks, clothing, and shoes that no one ever seems to leave by the doorway. Big Brother is still grumbling about, and Wild Flower has stumbled out of bed to go to the bathroom just this once’ and Lil Eagle, well, he’s been asleep for an hour and is now awake, yelling at me to “SNUGGLE”, the way he has all.day. PapaBear? He’s just finished showering off his day, feeling a bit more calm than I, so I jokingly run into the bathroom and slam the door, telling him to saaaave me. We sit down in the teensy space, him on the toilet seat, myself on the step stool, and sigh. I ramble through all of the frustrations I’m feeling, and he listens. And then we giggle. “Isn’t it funny that we live on eight acres with four out buildings and a great house, and here we sit in this tiny bathroom”. It’s as though he read my mind. “Hiding?” I add in. When we emerged, WildFlower was quietly reading in bed, Big Brother had Lil Bro snuggled on the couch and was waiting for us so he could head off to bed, himself, and when I woke up this morning? The mess was still here. Who knows…maybe we’ll head to the beach.beach2

     

    xo

    HayMama

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    Musical Monday

    Music is a pretty important part of our lives here; it’s what brings us together before bed while we sing along to Papa Bear’s guitar playing. It’s how we clean the house. It’s how we measure time (let’s clean your room in just one song okay?). It’s how we handle car rides (6 songs, one news break and a commercial block to dance class). We have songs that mark milestones in our past, and some we’ve tucked away for future events. It’s what makes us smile on the inside.

     

    Love me a lil Indie

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    Part of the Cure: While the Trees Grow

    To anyone local looking for help having your property planted, check out this program that my aunt used to have our place planted today. By using this program, its success will continue. We are so thankful! 

    Today new life was brought to our home. It only took two hours for the flat empty fields to be planted with 2000 tiny, baby trees. Last year, the lovely gal in charge, came to survey the property and sample the soil to determine which trees were best suited for the land. So today, most were Spruce and Black Walnut, with some Oak and Sugar Maple in the mix (Hoorah!)

    The crew was wonderful, really involving the kids in the experience, and it gave us some outdoor entertainment for the afternoon.
    watchintreesI really admired the planters, for their strength, endurance, and their ability to cope with the elements; I found myself fantasizing about becoming a tree planter myself, just for a minute. I could do this, I found myself thinkingsoniaThat was, until I considered the mosquitoes, saw the sunburns, and heard tales about ‘boot burn’ on the backs of legs. Seriously, these people are worthy…planting Forever changing the landscape of this place leaves me feeling a little bit sentimental. Someday our grandchildren won’t know that there were once flat fields filled with Queen Anne’s Lace. They won’t quite understand the story that I’ll tell them about their aunt being stuck in that apple tree while the bull raged at its base. The blackberries won’t be able to grow in the shade of tall spruce trees, and the small plants that live now will not survive on a forest floor. It’s bitter sweet, but mostly sweet. Someday, there will be tall tall trees here, lining the lane. There will be coloured leaves covering the path to the house in the fall and maple syrup to be made in the spring. There will privacy and freedom and shade from the hot summer sun. There will be clean air and soil that doesn’t erode quickly and easily. There will be wildlife available to whomever lives in this wonderful house, and those critters will live right outside the doors in those trees right there. It may be the only patch of trees in sight by that time.tinyspruce2

    We live in a time and place where trees have little value. They are merely an obstacle in the way of gold, the kind that grows from a genetically altered seed. Bunches of trees are plucked by a giant, ruthless claw and placed in large piles, bigger than houses, and saved for the day and time that it seems fit to burn. Generally there is a year between the piles being built and the actually burning, so by that time, there is plenty of wildlife occupying those tree stacks. They’ll find a new home people always say. You know what? A bird doesn’t just find a new home. A bird dies. That’s it.

    firsttreeWhen the land behind us was cleared, the trees ripped by their roots and stacked stories high, we heard the change. The birds shrieked for days. The wind blew differently, more intense, and that porcupine that we saw crawling in and out of the mounds?He didn’t make it. Papa Bear found him, in a heap. It’s happening all around us. Today, as the trees were being planted, we could hear our neighbours, up to some tree dismantling of their own. I’ve been a part of many problems. I don’t always made the right choices. Sometimes, I don’t recycle.  I always create unearthly waste. I take extra trips to the store, I burn fossil fuels, and I like to use spray paint. But sometimes, sometimes it’s nice to not be part of the problem; it’s nice to be a part of the cure. I can only hope our kids caught that lesson.

    xo

    HayMama

     

     

     

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    Musical Monday

    Music is a pretty important part of our lives here; it’s what brings us together before bed while we sing along to Papa Bear’s guitar playing. It’s how we clean the house. It’s how we measure time (let’s clean your room in just one song okay?). It’s how we handle car rides (6 songs, one news break and a commercial block to dance class). We have songs that mark milestones in our past, and some we’ve tucked away for future events. It’s what makes us smile on the inside.

    A sample from our in-car playlist these days:

     

    Own every second!

     

    xo HayMama

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    The Cost of More

    Every now and again, a mama’s gotta leave her nest for just a moment in time to experience the world out there. I like my nest, I like my groove, but sometimes I catch myself remembering a time when I was able to be a little more spontaneous. Although last night’s adventure didn’t require any spontaneity, it did call for my adventurous spirit. Big Brother Enee was gifted some concert tickets for Christmas and the time had come to cash em in, so as soon as Papa Bear made it home from work, we grabbed our things, well actually we all ran around the house looking for the van keys, grabbed the tickets, thanks to Big Brother’s reminder, and off we went. Together, Enee and I crossed empty fields (in a car on the highway) we fought through throngs of savage beasts (crazy concert goers) and we even made it through the big test (metal detector and purse check) before we climbed the mountain (of stairs) and were handed our even better tickets than we had purchased(yay!). So back down we went in search for our seats; we only guessed wrong once, but it earned us an escort in the right direction. It may be a small feat for some, but for this mama, it was a change from tending the garden and dressing children for bedtime. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lived in many cities, I’ve walked through many crowds, but ultimately, I’ve decided that life wasn’t for me. This time though, I was surprised; heading back awakened something in me. Sometimes my youth has a way of taunting me with her memories, making me reevaluate where I am. Making me ask myself if there should be…more.DSCN9708

    The show was incredible, much more than I had expected it to be. Basically, One Republic nailed it. An evening spent watching someone work their craft, wrap an entire audience around their finger, leave it all on stage, is inspirational. I can relate, being a performer, myself, it ignited something in me that I’ve suppressed for long enough to almost forget it existed.DSCN9707

    I love my life. So I feel trepidatious about changing its elements. It can be easy to think there is something wrong me, that I must be strange for loving everything the way it is, how it’s evolving. There was a time when I felt saturated by the ‘be better, achieve more, work towards bigger goals and keep going!’ (insert cheer pom poms) message when all I wanted to do was learn to slow down, see the world through my own eyes and the eyes of my children, and be happy, despite the negative feedback. I have found that place of contentment, and I’ve been living here for close to eight years now. Part of what equates this happiness is that I just like what I have. There are not a great many things that I want for. Sometimes I think it would be nice to own our home, be able to travel, worry less about money, but all of these things come with a price. Owning a home is rare, since most people actually just own a mortgage, and of course, there will still be repairs and other things that spell financial burden, not to mention the trend of selling to buy bigger and so on. It would be nice to travel more, but I do consider our earthly footprint. Hopping on a jet plane does seem to contradict that entirely, not that I’m completely against it, but I do tend to spot hypocrisy (mostly my own) rather easily. It’s both a blessing and a curse. Finally, if we had more money, we’d just spend more; we’d owe more, and I can imagine that our lifestyle wouldn’t be as together and as simple as it is now. We would look outwards more often, making purchases to fill the hole that our once togetherness had filled. There is a happy balance somewhere between all of this, and I know it must differ for every family.DSCN9710

    But what I’m getting to in all this babble is this : where do the wants stop? At what point will the rock star decide that he’s reached his goal? And what is the cost of the time he has missed at home? At what point does the business woman believe that her work is done, and she can enjoy what is in front of her? At what point am I supposed to want something more, and how will I know when I’ve had enough of it? Change is inevitable; evolution is essential, but constantly upgrading seems empty. Maybe ‘more’ is just that something that we are looking at from the shoreline, it, bobbing along, a speck with a shiny sail, far off in the distant waters. No matter how quickly we swim towards it, it is always just as far away as it was while we stood on that beautiful beach. Yes, it was beautiful; we just couldn’t see it since we were too busy searching for more. Keep growing; don’t be stagnant, we’ll tell ourselves. Or we might just look around and feel content with where we are…

    You want to know a secret? 
    DSCN9709

    That beach? That place of contentment? It’s where the real growth happens–within ourselves.

     

     

     

    HayMama

    (caught the show through my own eyes, not my camera lens this time, so the flowers will have to cut it. This was our garden last fall)