Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Celebrating Michaelmas

"Brave and true I will be
Each good deed sets me free.
Each kind word makes me strong.
I will fight for the right,
I will conquer the wrong."

Happy Michaelmas, my friends!

The Michaelmas festival reminds us to both summon, and honour the courage displayed each and every day – in noble acts big and strong. It reminds us to be a champion for others, to look for the good in all and to always strive toward our fullest human potential. The festival is named for the archangel Michael, the guardian of humanity, who inspires courage, initiative, and steadfastness. The image of St. Michael, with his golden sword, gives us the courage to face the growing cold and darkness of the turning of season. As the world around us draws inward, we too begin to draw into ourselves in preparation for the coming season of introspection and contemplation. 

We gathered with friends on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Michaelmas, the Fall Equinox, and the harvest season. We sat under our birch trees and made corn husk dolls, and swords, from tree branches. We bobbed for apples, and roasted some, topped with cinnamon, over the open fire. Apple cider was kept warm over the fire, and we enjoyed a delicious potluck. It was a stunning autumn day, and we enjoyed it to its fullest.

At this point in our homeschooling journey we keep things pretty simple around festivals. I don't explain the festival to Reece, I bring it to him through song, verse, story, and crafting, and then allow it to sleep within him. Over the years, as he grows, he will come to understand the deeper meaning of this festival, but for now simply being immersed in the activities surrounding the day are enough.

As with most of our festival celebrations, our Michaelmas celebration was simple, but meaningful, and as always, it was wonderful to share it with friends.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Three Days, Three Hikes, and A Picnic

Harold Town Conservation Area, Peterborough

Long Sault Conservation Area, Bowmanville

Enniskillen Conservation Area, Enniskillen

Three glorious autumn days meant three days on the trails, and goodness we had a great time! Our weekends start on Friday around here, and we usually met up with friends for a little fun in the woods. On Friday we headed to Harold Town to wander, balance on logs, climb trees, and just hang out. My little man and I had a great time, and left the trail feeling very happy.

Saturday morning brought another beautiful autumn day, and with everything pretty much ready for the potluck we were hosting later in the day, I left Justin and Reece at home and hit the trails at Long Sault Conservation Area, by myself. I find so much peace when I wander on my own, and I always leave the trail more grounded and centered than when I began. Saturday was no different, and as I wandered the trail, I cleared my mind, and just let the trail guide me. I had no where to be, no destination in mind, I just followed, and it was exactly what I needed. I am feeling a need to pull inward during these early autumn days, to spend time alone, and close to home and nature. There is a call deep inside for quiet, and I am heeding that call, and finding the time and space to allow myself the quiet I need. Time on the trail, on my own, is one way I find that quiet, and I am pretty sure there will be more solo time on the trails in the coming weeks.

When we woke Sunday morning, the sun was shining yet again, bringing with it another beautiful autumn day. We packed a picnic and hit Enniskillen Conservation Area where we explored old, and new trails, played by the water, and collected leaves, pine needles, and cattails. Reece found a piece of birch bark that was formed in a complete circle, it made the perfect crown, and from the point on he was referred to as the Birch Prince. We all left the trail tired, and happy, ready to spend a quiet afternoon at home.

How was your weekend? Did you find yourself wandering any nature trails?

Saturday, September 26, 2015


"A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"

Reece, we have just finished our third week of grade 1, and you, my little man, are loving it. There is a sparkle in your eyes during our main lesson, and joy in your heart as we move through our day. Each morning you wake with questions about what you will learn that day, and each evening before you fall asleep you share with me the things you learned. This path you walk is a little different than the norm, one that allows you to make your own way, in your own time, and nothing makes me happier than watching as you navigate your way through it. Enjoy the ride, little man, from my perspective, it looks like an amazing one.

Joining Jodi for the 52 Project

Thursday, September 24, 2015


When we got our new chicks in the spring it only took a week or so before Reece picked one out as a rooster. Both Justin and I were in denial, there was no way we had a rooster...again. You see, this is our third flock of chicks, and both our first and second flocks had a rooster.

The first time we thought it was awesome. The cock-a-doodle-doo in the morning, the master looking after his hens, and the beautiful colours of his feathers, we were smitten. We named him Harry, and enjoyed having him around....until he became a little too protective of his flock, and became aggressive with both Reece and I. It wasn't fun, and he was very quickly re-homed.

The second time we were a little more hesitant, and played the wait and see game. Barney turned out to be a great rooster, he loved his flock, he loved us, and it all seemed to be going well. And then winter hit, and he began to peck at Tophat. Every morning when we opened the coop she would be missing more feathers from her beautiful plumage, and then one day her tophat was gone, completely pecked off by Barney. We were sad that she was being picked on, and knew we had to find a home for our second rooster. The unfortunate part is no one wants a rooster who is mean to the hens. As we searched for a home, Barney became increasingly nasty to Tophat, and the morning we went out to find Tophat bleeding and hiding in the corner we knew Barney had to go. Later that night Justin gave Barney a calm and peaceful farewell, and placed his body in the woods. The next day he was gone, and while it wasn't the easiest thing for us to do, we felt a little better knowing his spirit was living on in another animal.

And now here are with our third rooster, T-Rex. He began to cock-a-doodle-doo in late August, confirming Reece's suspicion that we had yet another rooster. He has shown a little aggression to all of us at one point or another over the last month, but we have all done our best to put in in his place, and it seems to have worked, for the time being. There were a few upsets within the flock as they figured out their pecking order, but they have it figured out now, and all the hens seem happy.

So, we will play the waiting game with T-Rex and see how it goes. We are quite happy to have a rooster as long as he knows his place. I love going out to the coop in the morning and listening as he wakes up his flock, and the world around him. It is a beautiful sound.

And now I can't leave out the most exciting part of our new flock...they are laying! They started about ten days ago, and their little eggs are a joy to find. Our flock is used to free ranging around our yard, but those new hens have been laying eggs just about everywhere, so until they get used to laying in the coop, they have been enjoying some time in the chicken run, and we have been treating them to lots of scraps, and of course, chicken cakes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hello Autumn

The last day of summer was celebrated with getting the garlic stored away, harvesting more tomatoes, yes, the tomatoes are still rolling in, and there are still a lot more to come, a dinner of food fresh from the garden, and a lovely after dinner family walk. It was the perfect end to what has been a pretty perfect summer.

I have said many times, here in this space, I feel very fortunate to live in a place where we have four very distinct seasons. I have a very difficult time naming one of them as my favourite, as I truly enjoy them all. Each season brings with it good things, and not so good things, and I have learned to embrace all of it over the years.

What I do really enjoy about each season, is the shift, the movement from one to the next. As each season comes I am always ready for the change, ready for something new, and for a change in our day to day rhythm. As we move from summer to fall I enjoy the movement inwards, I enjoy the shift in our meals, and I enjoy the warm comfort of our home aglow with candles and twinkle lights. Each morning I awake in darkness, and I finish my yoga long before the sun comes up, but there is a certain comfort in that, almost like the arms of Mother Earth wrapping me in a warm blanket. Throughout the day cups of tea are made more regularly, and soups, chili and stews grace our dinner table. My night time reading is done under a quilt, with a shawl wrapped around my shoulders, and we add the extra blankets to the bed to keep us warm at night. It is these seasonal rituals that I love, and as each season shifts I am reminded just how much of a role ritual and rhythm play in our life here on our little homestead.

We didn't do anything special to celebrate the equinox today, we are saving the celebration for the weekend when friends will join us for a potluck and other festivities here at our home, but we did mark the shift in seasons by changing up our nature table, decorating our home, and bringing out the autumnal books. Again, rituals that mark the changing season, and connect us to the natural cycle of the earth.

Happy Equinox my friends, may this autumn season bring many blessings to you and your loved ones.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Today is the Day

This day has been a long time coming, and I have one excited little man on my hands. Today is the day he learns to knit with needles!

The lead up to this day has been long. As a baby and toddler, Reece would watch as I knit, creating things for us to wear, and play with, and things to gift to friends and family. During his preschool years I would settle down to knit, and he would have fun playing with a ball of yarn, pretending to knit and create. We also spent a day at a friends farm playing with wool. We washed, carded, dyed and spun with friends, and had the best time. Then during the kindergarten years he had fun making God's eyes, twisting yarn into rope, and finally, finger knitting. We visited a fiber festival where Reece got to see the sheep where our wool comes from. We brought home some fleece, and worked together to card it, dye it and then create with it. In our second year of kindergarten we focused on a long term project, finger knitting a skipping rope. It took him almost seven months to complete it, but he did it, and was ever so proud when he did.

The path to this point has been a journey of sorts, one that he has enjoyed immensely. When we jumped back into our homeschooling rhythm a few weeks ago, I created space in our days to do more finger knitting, to go over tying knots and bows, and to make our own knitting needles. Yes, he made is very own knitting needles, and today he gets to use them.

Many have questioned why a little boy would learn to knit. I don't often get into the reasons why, most people don't really want to know, they are just questioning a stereotype that says girls knit, and boys don't. But if someone was genuinely interested I would tell them that knitting is important for a variety of reasons. It helps with hand-eye coordination, helps perfect fine motor skills, works both sides of the brain, and helps set the stage for reading. On top of that it is a peaceful, meditative activity. From our experience last year working on our finger knitted skipping rope, I also love that knitting teaches patience, and the follow through of working on a long term project from start to finish. Creating with the hands, with whatever material you choose, also connects the head and hands, and in most cases, the heart too.

Today will begin as it normally does, we will head out for a our nature walk after breakfast. Back at home we will have a smoothie and a snack, and then jump into our circle time and main lesson. There will be a little free play before and after lunch, followed by our read aloud, and then quiet time. I am sure quiet time won't be all that quiet today, the anticipation and excitement of what is to come will most likely be a little much for my little man, but we will try. We will then recite our handwork verse, I will cast on twelve stitches for him, and we will sit together, and slowly and patiently learn to knit.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


 "A photo of my little man, once a week, every week, in 2015"

Reece, you were waiting patiently for your friends yesterday morning, excited for the nature adventure that awaited us. At first you were running free, climbing on the rocks, and looking at the flowers, but then you settled down, in your own little world for a moment. I just watched, my heart happy and full.

Joining Jodi for the 52 Project

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wild Food Fun

Yesterday, after our morning main lesson, Reece, his homeschooling buddy, and I packed up and headed out for a little road trip. Our destination, Little City Farm. We had the pleasure of visiting this urban homestead twice this summer, and were excited to return again. This time we were meeting up with some other homeschooling families for some wild food fun.

Our facilitator, the same inspiring lady that lead our birch bark container workshop, did a wonderful job of helping the kids to identify common wild foods, aka weeds, found in many backyards. The kids had the opportunity to search for, harvest, and taste mallow, lambs quarters, plantain, violet leaves, wood sorrel, dandelion, wild lettuce, and mint. Each wild food was tasted straight up, and then added, one at a time, to a very tasty smoothie base. We would taste it, and then add another wild food. It was fun tasting the difference each food made to the smoothie, and even though it was green, most of the kids were very adventurous, and gave it a try. Reece, as you can see from the photo above, green smoothie all over his face, loved it.

It is always a joy to connect with like minded people, and yesterday as I sat among other homeschooling families, in the sunshine, with bees flying about, enjoying the beautiful space at Little City Farm, I was reminded yet again how very fortunate I am to live in a place that allows us the freedom to make the choices we have made as a family.