Monday, May 2, 2016

Simple Moments of Joy


I paused yesterday, a lot, to notice the simple things in my day that bring me joy. It's a beautiful practice to take time to notice the small, simple moments that had a little magic to your day, and one I try to do often. Yesterday's simple moments of joy included:

~ early morning reading to my little man

~ Sunday morning pancakes

~ delivering our May Day flowers

~ noticing the amazing birds visiting our backyard feeders...gold finches, purple finches, chipping sparrows, red breasted nuthatches, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatches, and more

~ spying garlic shoots peeking through the straw mulch

~ tea and knitting while I watched a movie with my little man on a grey, rainy Sunday afternoon

~ meals with my little man, three times a day, together at our table

~ time to peruse a cookbook for some new meal time inspiration

~ my little man beside me in the kitchen, helping to prep and cook our meals

~ my daily connection with my very dear friend and gratitude buddy

What simple moments of joy are finding a way into your day?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

4/12

  A photo of my little man, once a month, on the last day of each month, in 2016

Reece, oh goodness my little man, what a month. I think the most exciting part for you has been signing up for baseball. Two weeks ago we picked you up a baseball mitt (big thanks to your nana and papa) and a baseball bat, and last week we spent every night at the baseball diamond practicing. You ask every afternoon to head to the diamond to practice catching or hitting, and we are having so much fun. The smile on your face when you catch the ball, or send it flying through the air after hitting it is amazing. Of course, after practicing we play in the park, and climb the big hill, laughing and giggling the whole time. It has been a wonderful way to spend our evenings, and I have a feeling we will be doing more of the same in the coming weeks.

We have finished up our homeschool main lessons. We still have a few weeks of review to go, but no new material for you until we start our summer learning. You have done so well this year, and I am amazed at how much you have learned in our lessons. This month has seen us step out in our homeschool community a little more, meeting new people, and new friends. You have enjoyed it as much as I have, and in the next few weeks there are a few more activities planned with these new friends and I know we are going to have a great time.

The weather is finally changing, it took awhile, but slowly we are spending more time outside than in, and it feels so good. I love watching you run and play in the backyard, climbing trees, chasing chickens, scootering along the walkway. You are free and wild, full of magic and wonder, and I am so happy that this is your childhood.

I love you, little man, and I am so looking forward to the month ahead, there is so much in store for us. Let's soak it up as best we can, okay?

PS This photo of you was taken one night when we were practicing your batting. I was snapping away as best as I could between tossing the ball and running after it. I caught you standing there at one point, deep in thought, focused. There aren't many moments when you are still, in thinking mode, and capturing this made my heart happy.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Homeschool Days


A few of you have asked recently if I would share a little bit about how we homeschool, and so I thought with the end of our first grade year coming up, it might be a good time to do that now. We have been officially homeschooling for three years, although I honestly don't count the two years of kindergarten as homeschooling. In those early years we didn't focus on academics, instead the focus was on time in nature, arts and crafts, story telling, reading (me reading aloud), songs and finger plays, and lots of time for uninterrupted, imaginative free play...the real work of childhood. Our days had a gentle rhythm that allowed Reece, and his little friend, to really sink into and soak up the magic childhood. I think back to those days with fondness, and am so happy I was able to let go of societal expectations of what my little man "should" have been learning, and instead let him take the lead and enjoy those early years. It was a gift to him, both of us really, and one I know I won't regret giving him.

Those early years were heavily inspired by Rudolf Steiner, and his Waldorf philosophy, and as we took the leap into grade 1 in the fall I continued to utilize his teachings. Grade 1 was supported with a curriculum from Lavender Blue, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum that really spoke to me. After using it for the year, I can say without a doubt that I loved it, really loved it. And the kids, Reece and his little friend, soaked it up. They have both been eager learners, happy to move from morning free play to main lesson, and at times asking for more. Honestly, teaching them has been a joy, and dare I say, easy.

So just what does a school day look like for us. First of all, when I was pregnant and imagined homeschooling, I never thought I would have "school days", but things change. I was asked to help homeschool another little one and well, let's face it, I work better with a rhythm to our days, and so, yes we have school days. Those days for grade 1 were Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Our main lesson followed a three day rhythm. Day one was introducing a new lesson, day two was review and building on that lesson, and day three again review and more building. Most of our main lesson blocks were four weeks in length. So for four weeks we would focus on one subject, in grade 1 that revolves around arithmetic and language arts, and let the other subject rest, or sleep within the child. That is not to say that we don't do any language arts during an arithmetic block, we still do read aloud every day, we still sing songs and do finger plays, and we still practice our printing by writing letters to penpals, or thank you notes. And during a language arts blocks we still do some math work during our circle time...counting as we toss bean bags, working on our skip counting as we jump rope, and so on.

Our main lesson is always in the morning. When the little one I homeschool arrives we head out for a nature walk, in any kind of weather. It is the perfect way to start our day, get rid of energy before I ask them to focus, and to notice what is happening in nature. When we get back they play while I get a morning snack together, and then we jump into main lesson. Main lesson at this level is about 75 to 90 minutes, although there are some days we have gone for two hours because they have enjoyed the lesson and want to keep going. We then clean up our main lesson area, and I head off to make lunch, and the kids play. After lunch our afternoon consists of outdoor free play, read aloud (for most of the year it was me reading to them, but over the last few weeks we have also added in them reading to me as they get started on their reading journey...I can't tell you how amazing this is), and then an activity for the afternoon. On Monday we knit, Tuesday we make soup and bake bread for dinner, and Thursday we watercolour, and sometimes have an extra lesson in form drawing. The afternoon always finishes up with a little more free play, because these kiddos are still kids, and free play is still where a lot of learning takes place.

For the last three years Wednesday and Friday have been our free days. Wednesday is left open for seasonal activities which could include skating, snowshoeing, hiking, and swimming, followed by running errands. I see running errands as a life skill, and a chance for Reece to interact with people in our community. The people at the post office know us very well, the store clerks at the grocery store do too. We say hello to them, we chat with them, and we get to know them. Friday's are our nature day. We hit the trails with other homeschooling families for a morning of fun in the woods. We don't plan anything on these nature days, no games, no journaling, no lessons in nature, just plain old fun. Climbing trees, feeding birds, having picnics trail side, chatting with friends, and just enjoying Mother Nature and time with other homeschooling families. It is laid back, and fun. Perfect for a Friday morning, and a little jump start on the weekend.

Homeschooling my little man and his little friend is a joy. I knew before Reece was born that this was the path we would walk, I had no idea at the time I would have the honour of homeschooling one of his little friends, but I wouldn't change it. It is amazing to watch them blossom and grow, to see their love of learning develop, and to witness those moments when everything clicks and they get it, you know, that A-HA moment.

Reece and I will move into summer learning mode in about a month, with an easy, go with the flow rhythm. I have a definite idea of what I hope to accomplish with him over the summer months, but I am also not at all worried if we steer away from the plan, it is summer after all. As I mentioned in a previous post, there will definitely be a big dinosaur component to our summer learning, and I am sure Reece will have some other things he wishes to delve a little deeper into. So I will follow his lead, and see where it takes us.

So, that's how we homeschool, for now. I do have plans to change some things up a bit next year, but will still follow along with our Waldorf inspired learning. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the freedom to make changes, do something a little differently, and spend more time on an area of interest when my little man wishes to do so. It's something I appreciate, and something I know he appreciates.

I hope I have given you an idea of what our homeschool days look like. I am happy to answer questions if you have them, feel free to leave a question in the comment section, or if you prefer, send an email.

Happy weekend, friends!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekend Foraging













It's here, foraging season!!!

I have been patiently watching the wild foods in my area grow, waiting for the time to start harvesting, and this weekend was the time. We spent time in the woods on Saturday and Sunday, harvesting gifts from the forest. Coltsfoot flowers were picked and are already infusing in honey to make coltsfoot honey, the perfect remedy for winter coughs. Ramps were next, and goodness they smell so good. This was a small patch, so we only harvested enough for a batch of pesto, which we enjoyed for dinner last night. I have a special spot where ramps grow forever, and I will be heading there this week to harvest a much larger amount, most of which will be made into pesto and added to the freezer. And finally, a handful of trout lily, carefully harvested, for my evening salad.

This is just the beginning of foraging season, and I am excited for all the goodness still to come.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Secret Revealed





Living a creative life is important to me. I enjoy making things with my hands, and there is nothing quite like holding a finished product in your hands that you created. It isn't easy to find large chunks of time for creating these days. Being a single mama, homeschooling, taking care of our little homestead...it all takes up a lot of my time, but every day I find time, usually just a little, for making. I might squeeze in a little knitting in the early morning hours, or later in the evening once my little man is tucked in. I might find myself sitting at the sewing machine for 20 minutes while my little man is busy with a puzzle or building with lego. Or I might be up late, in the kitchen, whipping up body butter or soap. The point is, every single day I create. Some days I might only get five minutes, other days an hour might appear, and so I take whatever I can get, and I use it to the best of my ability at that time.

I do this for many reasons, the most important one being that I feel alive when I am creating. I feel full, happy and, content, and I always seem to finish creating feeling more inspired than when I began, and that is amazing!

The last few weeks have been busy with creative projects, from rope baskets to self care and herbal products, and the reason is because I have opened a shop. This shop, a part of Life at Nature's Pace, is a simple shop where I will sell hand crafted artisan goods for health, body and home. It's a place to sell my homemade self care products, and homegrown herbal goodness, as well as share other creative and interesting handmades. It has been something I have been thinking about for over a year now, and have finally taken the time and energy to make it a reality. It feels good, and it also feels very exciting. It's a new project, something that will change and grow, as I do, and hopefully allow me a place to share my love of creating and earn a small income at the same time.

I hope you will check it out, and let me know what you think.

*****************

If you live locally, be sure to check out the workshop page for information on the Kids Herbal and Wild Food Club and a Putting Food By series that runs throughout the summer. Oh, and summer camp information is up, and registrations are rolling in already.

I have also loaded a few new rope baskets to the Mama Collaborative shop, and many new and beautiful items have been added by the other members. Be sure to stop in and check things out.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Good for the Soul



Friday morning nature walk with friends







Sunday morning hike and picnic with my little man

I am not even sure where to begin this post except to say that this weekend was good for the soul, and has left me filled to the brim with goodness. It started Friday morning at our weekly nature day adventure with friends. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and old and new friends came out. As we hiked and chatted, I noticed the ramps peeking through the ground, and the first coltsfoot flowers. The kids climbed trees, and us adult sat around on the forest floor snacking and watching. It was a glorious morning, and honestly a wonderful way to kick start our weekend. We lunched at a friends house before heading home to hang out in the backyard, where we enjoyed dinner on the back deck.

I spent Saturday morning with a lovely group of young ladies in my lotions and potions class. We spent two and half hours making soap, body butter and tinted lip balm, and had a great time. Once the products were made, together we chose herbs to make an herbal tea, and the girls sat on the back deck drinking tea, enjoying a snack and chatting. It was lovely, in so many ways. The rest of Saturday was tied up with a few errands, and then happy hour and dinner on the back deck. Reece and I watched a movie Saturday night, and tucked ourselves in a little later than usual.

It was all about pancakes Sunday morning, and my little man was pretty excited about that. After he ate more than me, we packed up the backpack and hit a new to us trail for a hike and the first picnic of the year. It was a stunning hike, and Reece is already asking to head back there and wants to bring his little homeschool friend along with us. I think I can arrange that. Sunday afternoon was all about the garden. With the sun shining on my back, and my hands in the dirt I felt a deep connection to nature, and to this land. It happens every year, this feeling of being connected to this place, it's like a warm hug from an old friend. I planted kale, Swiss chard, spinach and salad greens in the cold frame, and did a first planting of peas. Over the next few weeks more of the same will be planted, and fingers crossed it won't be long before we are eating fresh food from the backyard again. While I worked in the garden, Reece got busy with his work of the day...washing his scooter, playing in the sandbox, drawing, and playing with toys. We enjoyed dinner on the back deck again, and then a beautiful evening walk.

This weekend was so good for the soul, in ways that are hard to express. I feel full, and happy, and honestly, it feels pretty darn great!

How was your weekend, friends?

Friday, April 15, 2016

It's Here!


Well, my friends, it's here...spring, that is. It is hard to believe that on Monday it snowed, and yesterday, just three days later, we were outside in short sleeves, playing and working in the garden. We even enjoyed our first dinner on the back deck. It was a little chilly, but hey, when you have been cooped up all winter it is worth it.

Around the yard, I cleaned out all the flower beds, raked the yard, and took the extra cover off the cold frame. The soil in the cold frame is beautiful, warm, and ready for planting. I had hoped to get seeds in the ground earlier, but with the cold temperatures and snow over the last ten days, planting was delayed. But now, with a week of beautiful spring weather and warmer temperatures in the forecast, seeds will go in the ground this weekend. I can't wait to plant seeds, to feel my hand deep in the earth, and to connect to the land that grows the food that nourishes my little man and I.

As I worked in the garden, soaking up the spring sunshine, Reece played. There was a ramp built on the driveway for his cars, a secret village created in the woods, and a pulley system built, complete with a bucket moving back and forth. There is something pretty darn magical about watching a child's imagination at work, it's like a little peek right into their minds. Many times, as I worked, I stopped to watch him, admiring the freedom with which he went about his "work" and enjoying the pure joy he exuded. It was the highlight of my day, and filled me with happiness to be witness to it all.

These days at home, just the two of us, each doing our own work, our minds focused on the task at hand, are so very special to me. There is nothing extraordinary about these days, they are normal by all accounts, but in my heart they are so very special, and they remind me, yet again, why I have chosen the path of slow and simple.