Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Visit to Sam

One of the things I love about living in a small town is that my kids have made friends with people who I doubt they'd make friends with in a city. In a city each kid would have there own friends of the same age and gender as them, but here it is not so. One of the people we're friends with is 87 year old Sam who lives and breaths photography. He has his own dark room and since we still don't have a digital camera he's happy for us to use it. The kids love to help develop our photos, not to mention the wonderful stories Sam tells. Today we took the trip we take every few weeks to visit him. Of course Noah was car sick and Katherine got really restless a few times but mostly it was wonderful. He's a pretty amazing guy. He has a farm, lives more in the middle of no where than us (!), is faster than most of my kids when it comes to cross country skiing and yes, he's 87!
We've got some pretty great pictures too (and film, which he supplies full of charge).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How Crunchy are you?

While surfing the web I found this quiz.
I'm a 120 – 205 Super Nutty, Ultra-Crunchy Granola Earth Mama!!!!

How do you rate?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Happy Farmer cont'd

Hailey had her lesson today and proudly played Happy Farmer for her teacher. She's been begging to play it at the recital tomorrow but I''m not so sure. It's scratchy, and well not at normal recital level. Then again Twinkle, Twinkle has been going on for ever it seems like and listening to her play something else is wonderful. I decided that our violin and viola teacher who happens to unschool her kids and be a good friend of ours would know best. She listened to Hailey's first line of Happy Farmer and beamed. Scratchy or not Hailey will be playing Happy Farmer for the recital along with Twinkle, Twinkle. Her siblings are so proud. She is now wanting to ware her "farm clothes", we'll have to see about this too.

The super strict curriculum

The soon-to-be school has been asking for curriculum or rather, the people running the will-be school have been asking for curriculum ideas. So, my kids decided that they would send in a curriculum. I'd thought they would send in something very unstructured maybe even a letter ranting about how no curriculum was needed, but I could not of been more wrong. They've spent hours writing it out. If the "school board" chooses this (which I hope they don't because it is horrendously structured) there would be absolutely no planning needed, my kids have it timed to the minute as well as every single textbook and workbook you could ever want, probably more than you'd ever want. It doesn't suit the philosophy my kids have been brought up with and when asked if they would use this curriculum there was a definite "no way!".

Monday, June 4, 2007

Happy Farmer

Hailey has been eager to play "The Happy Farmer" for quite some time. The name intrigued her I guess. Her violin teacher has told her that she should just get a bit more skill and then she can play it. Hailey wasn't having this, she wanted to play it now. Sarah is helping her learn it right now. Hailey is making a lot of mistakes and can only play line one but it is so wonderful to see her eagerness. She's wearing a typical outfit of hers: fleece pants, nightgown, crocs, and hoodie and looks so cute with her 1/16 size violin. The Hailey is defiantly a happy farmer. Always so eager to be with our animals or harvesting. Maybe this should be her theme song.

Busyness of June

June is such a busy time for us.
The kids decide to go on a structure binge since the school year (which we don't follow) is coming to an end and I guess my kids should show that they've done at least a tiny bit of "school work".
The year end performance is coming up. It consists of music (whole family is involved), dancing (whole family is involved and I'm the teacher), gymnastics (whole family involved and Ian's the teacher), acting (whole family is involved since Lisa is directing Hamlet) and speech arts (some of family is involved). As you can probably guess, that keeps us quite busy.
We have our farm to look after.
There's a homeschool non competitive track and field meet. Which is more about staying fit and accomplishing personal goals than winning.
We want to spend more time outdoors.
The next member of our family is due to be born any day.

June has only just begun to and I'm already exhausted.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Playing with Picasso

Martin is naturally drawn to art and has been taking classes since January. The art teacher was quite reluctant at first. Teaching a just turned 4 year old? However, after seeing that Martin really did have some skill she took him on. They have explored many artists and today they did a project an Picasso.
None of my other kids want to take art class (which is fine for me) but are always keen to see what Martin has done. The Picasso project looked so fun they all wanted to do it. First they drew each others faces and then changed them so that they looked less realistic. This was fun! They then set up a "Like Picasso" area at their stall. It was more of a success then the other things. The goat cheese was fairly popular but there are too many others who grow rhubarb.

Goat cheese and rhubarb pie

The kids have set up a stall on the street like they do every summer. Right now they are selling (or trying to sell) our home made and home grown rhubarb pies and goat cheese. Sales aren't usually very big but we do sell a bit. The kids do most of the work. The baking of the pies, picking of the rhubarb, milking the goats, making the cheese, selling ect... What we sell changes frequently, mostly it's food but sometimes you can by Christmas tree ornaments, candles, once we even sold Italian "dictionaries".
When we first started (when Sarah was 7) we decided that the money would go to seeds, homeschool resources, and "Green Team". It has been like this ever since.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Our town has a school!

Our town (after 21 years without one) has a school, but my kids refuse to go. It isn't a public school, the curriculum will be followed loosely, kids will set personal goals ect.... The idea of having a school gets suggested on and of but now, the vote has swung from "no" to "yes. Ian and I have always been in favour of having a school (not that we ever thought our kids would go). Some kids (and parents) find school works for them better than homeschooling and most of those people leave not long after they get here since the nearest school is a long and sometimes dangerous drive. Also building a school means that our family (as owners of the hardware store) will get more money to by our kids resources.
When I told my kids that our town is now building a school which will open in September and asked them if they wanted to go I got just the response I expected.
Sarah said she'd had enough school (one day) to last a life time and that she would probably find the work to simplistic (the school will be K-8).
Lisa rolled her eyes dramatically and dropped to the floor saying "never!".
Noah gave me a look that said "no thank you".
Janet made a strict looking "teacher" face and said "Naughty Janet, you shouldn't pull apart your family computer even for educational purposes." Then shuddered.
Katherine said she didn't want to be inside all day.
Martin said he would have to "learn" how to read all over again, and stuck his nose back in his book.
Hailey said with glee, "I'm to young, so I can stay with goat." She actually calls me goat!

Mom, you're a goat!

Hailey, like everyone else at that age, is so cute. Last night she told me "Mom, you're a goat." I asked why and she responded "I'm a kid and baby goats are called kids so you must be a goat."
I laughed my head of, this girl is too funny.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Teaching Company

When I asked for a good intellectual challenge for Sarah I was told of The Teaching Company. I (and my group of kids) to a look at it and everyone seemed to find a course they wanted!
We've settled on : A History of European Art, Dutch Masters: The Age of Rembrandt (Martin is a Rembrandt worshiper!), World of Byzantium, Vikings (Katherine's request), Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies (Lisa will not miss anything Shakespeare) and High School Level-Chemistry.
Thank goodness our homeschool group like the sound of it and were willing to pitch in with the money!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Another fun day

Today didn't look quite so drab, the morning was actually warm enough to go out for a hike and paddle on the lake.

However, the afternoon was very cloudy.

We retreated inside and had a wonderful afternoon. First we watched TV, ( we hardly ever do this in spring) Canada: A People's History. Then we did a few science projects from Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry 1& 2.After that we talked about ideas for the community "Green Team" and did some Latin. In between was 3 hours of cello lessons (thank goodness Grandpa teaches them and lives next door).

I'm loving life right now.

Sarah wants a challenge

Sarah asked me a few days ago if I had any good ideas for an intellectual challenge. She's already finished Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra and is eagerly awaiting Algebra 1. She's read Galileo's Dialogue, is on her first draft of a 521 page novel, is a talented musician and dancer. She can spell about 50% of words from "Spellbound", has been reading adult books since she was not quite 9, loves brain teasers, speaks Italian, German, French and some Latin. She seems to be good at everything. For many kids that would be plenty, but not Sarah.

When she asked me for a challenge we decided to put an article in the community newspaper. The suggestions we've gotten have been very disappointing:

"Take some high school courses."

This doesn't work because:
a. The high school is about three hours away
b. Sarah is only 11 y, she would feel very uncomfortable being there.

"Read, read, read."

She does read. But that doesn't challenge her.

"Get a curriculum, obviously unschooling isn't challenging her."

Where do they think she's learned what she has. She's only been to school for one day, many years ago. Sarah is becoming more structured with her learning, but she has told me she never wants to use a curriculum.
I'm sure we'll find something to do, but, right now, any ideas??

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Drab looking day, lots of fun

We woke up today to big black clouds and rain. The kind of day you would expect to drag on and on. But it didn't. Its sped by. First the kids did some splashing and rolling (yes, rolling) in the mud. Then, they came inside completely soaked and covered in mud so they went in turn and had showers/baths. We had some hot chocolate and dandelion muffins then played numerous games ( 10 Days in Africa, Europe and USA, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan and Mystery of the Abbey) and read some books aloud, (International Children's Bible, Anna of Byzantium, Story of the World:Ancient Times and The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way).
The kids (except Hailey who can't read yet) are all reading their own books too, of course:
Sarah: A Tale of Two Cities and Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last
Lisa: Romeo and Juliet
Noah: Chemical Chaos and The Amber Spyglass
Janet: Run
Katherine:D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths
Martin: A Weekend with Rembrandt

They spent a while reading these while Hailey and I baked bread.
After lunch we had a mini concert with the pieces we'll be playing for the upcoming recital and had a run thru of Hamlet.
In the mail we found both Rosetta Stone Italian and Japanese as well as Martin's handwriting program. We installed Rosetta Stone at our community library and left Sarah and Noah to try it out while the rest of us went home and did some table work (math and handwriting).
Lisa, Katherine and I made dinner and Ian is now reading poetry as the kids knit/weave.

It's been such a wonderful day and I find myself wishing for another tomorrow or at least soon.


Just testing my link.

Homechool site

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tech Help

Okay, I need some help.
I would like my posts to look a little tidier by not having long rambling links like but would like to have it so that I could just write "Hailey is doing Singapore math 1A" and have the link on 1A or something like that.
If you could share your expertise that would be appreciated.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mathematical Triumphs

It's not exactly world news breaking but my kids are proud so they are triumphs:

Sarah has finished Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra so we've ordered Algebra 1 and also Algebra 2 (so its there when she's ready).

Lisa is halfway through Math 7 loving it. Which is strange (but good) as she's always hated math.

Noah has just begun Singapore 5A

Janet is almost done Singapore Math 3B

Katherine is working steadily through Singapore Math 2B

Martin recently asked if he could do formal math and amazed us all by being ready for 2A

And if everyone else was doing math Hailey wanted to do it too so she pulled a very used copy of 1A and got working!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Reading the Bible

About a month ago Martin said he wanted to read the Bible. He took a look at a copy we have and decided that the full version was not for him. So I looked into more the storybook kind of style. Many we found were too simple but finally we found the It's great. Even Thor loving Katherine poked her head around the door and listened last night. Sarah and Lisa wanted to read the real thing, but are finding the International Children's Bible to be helpful for those parts they don't understand.
We aren't Christians (despite what many people think) but knowing about different religions has always been something we think is important. Reading the Bible is so far proving very interesting so we shall continue.

The time they had

Sarah and Ian came home on Sunday and told us all about their adventures.
It was cold but both of them have wanted to go and do an arctic camping trip so they put up with it. There weren't many berries out for them to eat, which is a big hit. They stargazed, imitated the birds and all in all it sound like they had a great time.
Lisa, who doesn't want to be an arctic explorer, has asked to put of their trip. Noah is still unsure whether he wants to go now or wait until the weather is warmer.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Daughter and Dad

Sarah and Ian left for a daughter and dad camping trip today. They've been doing this every year since Sarah was 8y and it's great. They go for about 3 or 4 days and do what ever they like to do (they've kept it a secret). Lisa has started going too and is going to go next week and then Noah and I are heading off. It seems to have become a yay you're 8y thing.
The rest of us have been busy looking after our animals, in the garden, reading and at work on a large world puzzle.
We're hoping the weather is warm enough for our campers as last year Sarah was a little on the cold side.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A bit more about us

My intro really wasn't that great. So I'm going to tell you a bit more about us.

Ian, 34 is my dh and is a very supportive and loving man. He is the owner of a hardware store, gymnast as well as he main farmer on our family farm. He loves to build, read, play cello, spend time out doors and play with the kids in is free time.

Me, 32 am a part time ballet teacher and hardware store worker as well as a full time unschool mom and farmer. My hobbies include reading, violin, weaving, knitting, baking, crochet and hiking.

Sarah, 11 is a bright and talented girl who has been to school for only one day of her life. She is an very good musician and plays violin, piano, cello and voice. She also loves dancing, reading, writing, animals, nature, figure skating and drawing.

Lisa, 10 is passionate about poetry, Shakespeare, cello, dance, piano, figure skating and nature. She has never been to school but is very happy to spend her days at home, with friends or on an exciting field trip.

Noah, 8 loves math and science and excels in both. He's very proud to of been home educated is whole life. He currently is very interested in forensics and is both a violist and gymnast.

Janet, 7 is the only harpist in the family and is proving to be very good. She loves computers and the most likely place to find her is at the computer, playing harp or having a good look at the natural world with her binoculars.

Katherine, 6 is the most extroverted of the bunch (and she's still an introvert). She is always keen to try new things and is a violinist, dancer, author, figure skater, and viking lover.

Martin, 4 is already a historian and especially loves the baroque period. He is an avid bookworm, cellist, dancer, and artist. If you met him you would probably think he was a very small 7 or 8 year old.

Hailey, 3 is all energy and joy. She is determined to pass me in her violin skill and wants to be able to read, ride a two wheel bike, knit, bake cookies by herself, count up to trillion and meet a fairy by the time she's 4.

Well that's our family!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Viking Fractions

Katherine has been trying and failing to get a grasp on fractions for a while now and today she just about completely gave up. But once again Thor and his worshipers saved her.
I took a sobbing Katherine and showed her that if 1/2 the percentage of Vikings were men and 1/2 of them were brave and only men could be warriors and all men were worriers then 1/4 of the population would be brave worriers. She loved this.We went on to say that 3/4 of those brave warriors went to Valhalla so 1/4 don't. If 1/8 of the Viking women decided to go be worriers then 7/8 decided not to be worriers.
Later when I was folding laundry and Katherine was sitting there watching me she said "You just folded Martin's shirt into 1/4. "

She really seems to have the hang of fractions now.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Another Birthday

Yup, another birthday! Only this time we celebrated Constantinople's b-day. Because on May 11 it was named and this according to us was need of a ceremony. So our history club had a last minute meeting and, just about read the complete Byzantine Empire magazine from Learning Through History, made mosaics, ate Byzantine Food, sang "Happy Birthday" and read some of "Anna of Byzantium".
It really was a lot of fun and a great learning experience. Even Katherine who plugged her ears and left the room when I began reading it as it was "no where near as good as the Viking magazine" enjoyed herself. Maybe her idea in Thor as all mighty ruler will change!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Attic Discoveries

Every year we have a few major clean outs and every year one of them happens in the spring (when else would you do spring cleaning?). But this year we decided to go beyond the main floors, to the attic. The kids play up there a lot, it's their space and it's never, ever seen by the adults, until now. Its a real mess up there, boxes everywhere, artwork from 4 years ago falling of the walls, a mock bird nest, a real bee hive (without the bees), seed catalogs from 10 years ago ect... But we've found that the messier the place, the more interesting your discoveries. So despite it looking like a lot of hard work, the kids were pretty excited.
We did discover some quite interesting things : some old fiddle music, a big box of water colours, a Venetian mask, famous quotes from Shakespeare (Lisa is in love with Shakespeare right now so this was a BIG hit), a sweater Sarah had as a baby, a vegetarian cookbook (we're vegetarians so this should gives us a few more meal ideas) ect...The best discovery however was "Great Northern?" by Arthur Ransome from the Swallows and Amazons series which we are almost ready to read and we would of had to buy it because there was no other way to get it. Even Noah who had said he'd rather read Zoo books then S&A was thrilled (I think he changed his mind about which he preferred).
Same as every year we also found one of Noah's socks lying around, its become a tradition to find it during spring cleaning!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Science Magazine Mania

Yesterday 3 of our 8 science magazines arrived in the mail. Yes mag Know magazine and brand new for us, Zoobooks Noah must of read Zoobooks cover to cover as his nose as been in it ever since it arrived and despite Swallows and Amazons being one of his favourite series he refused to listen to it last night as Zoobooks was "10 zillion times more interesting" and then as an after thought "Sorry Arthur Ransome". So between reading Zoobooks and looking up the animals in our Animal Encyclopedia he must be the animal expert in the family, although he probably already was.
The other two magazines Yes mag "On Top of the World" and Know "Kitchen Chemistry" were not quite as popular this time, although we did have a lot of fun making chocolate chip cookies and we're planing on making mock apple pie and serving it to our friends and seeing if they think it's apple pie. Martin thinks that the most likely reason for them to guess is Katherine will be so eager to tell them she'll spill the beans. We'll have to see.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Hailey's birthday song

How could I of forgotten this!

Happy Birthday to me
My name is Hailey
I've just turned three
Happy Birthday to me

She loves it.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Happy Birthday Hailey!

Hailey turned 3y on Saturday!
She didn't want to have a regular kid party just a small (being a relative word) family party. Grandma and Grandpa came plus our family so that's 11 people.

So to make the party memorable we held a concert with musicians dashing from violin, to piano, to signing. What a lot of fun! Hailey after hearing Happy Birthday, Ode to Joy, several Minuets and Gavottes, Rigoletto, and numerous other works, (mostly Mozart's as he's Hailey's favorite composer) could not resist getting up and playing Twinkle, Twinkle on her violin. Then there was cake and after much playing with her new fairy toys, and reading of her new fairy books she resigned herself to bed, as did the rest of us. But it sure was a lot of fun.


Friday, May 4, 2007

Thor vs. Tooth Fairy

Katherine lost her first tooth today! She is so proud of herself and goes every where with a big grin. I asked her if she was going to put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy. She looked at me like "are you crazy???". Then said "Mom, it's not a tooth fairy that comes its Thor." Since Katherine is currently a Viking fanatic, thanks to Learning Through History Magazine I wasn't really surprised, but Hailey didn't believe a word.
H:"It isn't Thor that comes it is a tooth fairy!"
K:"Sorry Hailey but you're wrong."
H:"No I'm not, I'm the fairy expert and there is a tooth fairy!"

I sent them outside to continue there debate.


Monday, April 30, 2007

Janet's quiz

Janet has made her quiz here it is:
My result was:
What's Your Homeschool Style
Your Result: Unschool

You believe learning comes naturally and that you're learning 24/7. Many people who don't homeschool don't understand unschooling, but that doesnt mean it's bad. You have little tolerence for curriculums.

Unit Studies
School at home
What's Your Homeschool Style
Make Your Own Quiz

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Broken bones

Today our town with a population of 417 with two good arms was reduced to 415.
Janet and a friend dared each other two jump out of an oak tree. They were pretty low down but high enough that it was dangerous. They jumped at the same time so unfortunately neither of them were able to see what happened and not jump. We managed to get there arms on splints and then drove as quickly as you can on a rugged back country road to the doctor's office. What a day!


P.S. Kids are crazy, especially mine.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

What's Your Homeschool Style

I stumbled onto this one recently:

Here's our result:
Swiss Family Robinson If you can grow it, pick it, preserve it, or butcher it, you own it. Otherwise, you do without. Youd prefer to live off-grid from the power company, since youre nearly self-sufficient already. You enjoy unit studies for the way they utilize all facets of life and truly incorporate life and education as a whole, not as separate entities.

Then I found this one:

My result:
Unschooling or Child Directed: Parents who choose an Unschooling or Child Directed teaching style base their approach on the interests and natural learning patterns of their individual child. This style avoids use of textbooks, reviewing, quizzing, or even formal testing. The child's natural curiosity and interests are the key to the daily activities. There is a large emphasis on imagination, nature, art, music and almost no formal curriculum is used. There is no use of lesson plans, a defined "school" time, or even any type of grading. The child's environment, though controlled, is used as the bases of learning. A great curriculum choice for this type of teaching style is Unit Studies. Unit Studies allow the child's interests to control the basis of study.

And this one:

30-36 total strongly suggests you would have no problem creating your children’s educational program.

Now Janet and Ian are making their own homeschool style quiz, I'll post it soon!


Monday, April 23, 2007

Joy of spring

We spent all weekend out side, gardening, at the beach, in the forest behind our house and playing Noah Ball ( base ball Noah style, where you must cart wheel between bases and there are no strikes). You would think every weed had been pulled out of the garden but somehow another one pops up. Some rabbits have decided to move into our garden and each day there are a few more leaves gone from our plants. The kids decided to spring clean there tree houses and have spent a lot of time in the forest which is nicely situated behind our house. I love how, now that it is spring we can kick off our shoes and fly across the sweet smelling grass so freely. No more bundling up, which, with 7 kids takes a long time. This is the time when I'm so glad that the kids aren't stuck in a stuffy classroom but rather enjoying spring to it's fullest. All formal math as been abandoned but that is fine with me as mother nature provides us with a beautiful math of it's own which is there just you don't think about it. I'm a big fan of Richard Louv's "Last Child in the Woods" and am always keen for the kids to go outside which works well as they too are always keen to be outdoors.


Monday, April 16, 2007

More music trauma

After Sarah did her violin practice today she was extremely frustrated. She stormed out of the room she was practicing in and said her fingers felt "as big a huge sausages" and that she would "rather people gobble them up then have to use them again." However later when she at down at the piano she launched into her grade 9music and had no complaints.
Hopefully violin goes better tomorrow.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

D sharp trouble

Today Martin came to me looking very serious. I thought I was in for an "I want global warming to stop this very instant" rant. But no.

Martin:"I've got a problem"
Me:"What is it?"
Martin:"I composed a piece, but my D sharp sounds to natural."
Me:"Any ideas on what to do?"
Martin:"Not really, can you help me."
Me:"I could try but I don't have a good ear.

Martin is so serious,especially when it comes to music. He is very critical of his playing.


Thursday, April 12, 2007


Okay, I should talk about what we're doing.
We are currently working on a Tomato project:
Katherine loves it,she is quite the gardener and is always saying "Mum, we should get planting some vegetables."
We have our suspicions about which group is which. I can't wait to find out!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Well hello!
I'm very excited to be blogging!But I must warn you,being an unschooling mum means I don't have a lot of time to blog, but I'll do my best!