Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life School this week!

Since I wasn't really officially planning on starting Tot School until the fall (then I got impatient and did it anyhow one day - and Silas loved it!) and since there are quite a few wrap-up activities in the few community organizations we participate in, this week has been way too busy for me to get anything formal going. We went to StrongStart twice, to Rotary Park once, and spent two mornings trying to help my mom clean out her shed without even really doing it! I did write out the plan for this coming week however and I intend on setting up six activities for a week over the summer with ongoing evaluation to decide if I need to tweak our system a bit.

Here are some photos of our week:

Rotary Park in our town is quite a popular place, but this morning we had it all to ourselves once a HeadStart group had left. We usually bring a dump truck or two as well as trikes and bikes since we're pavement devprived at home and there's just no better way to drive fast (safely) than on pavement!

Oliver had a great time, I'm not sure he quit smiling for a single minute!

We also spent some time at the river this week as it fi nally got hot enough to justify a bit of wading. There's a tiny little side stream over a bulky sand bar where the kids (even Oliver) can wade and explore without danger of being swept away in the (still spring swollen) main river. The water was even fairly warm as a lot of it came from sun-warmed puddles and ponds in the flood-irrigated field nearby.

I try and make all of our baking at home - as in no store bough cookies or bread. I'd like to work up to making my own hamburger buns, bagels and crackers at home as well just because then I know exactly what is in each thing we eat (and let's face it, I'm cheap!). Bread is done on one day, cookies and muffins on another. Oliver got to help with the cookies this week - a fascinating process apparently! I love the little swell of his frog belly - one year olds are the most adorable.

Shame to say it, but this is where I really start to enjoy babies. The newborn and helpless, super-dependent infant stages are just too exhausting and intense. Now I have a little room to breathe and he's learning so much!

And that's bits and pieces of our week. Coming up next as far as Tot School goes will be real live, actual Tot School!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Boy Likes to be Up

Our Ollie has really taken off lately as far as gross motor skills have gone. He's been crawling since around six months old, and pulling himself up by seven. And he's absolutely determined to get higher at all times! Considering his brother didn't even crawl by ten months, him being able to climb on the couch (and every where else!) is pretty significant around here.

Here are a few examples of our happy, higher baby:

In every single case, he climbed up on his own, without my encouragement - generally even without anyone else in sight! He just wants to get higher! I was the same way as a baby, I'm told. I climbed the ladder to the top bunk before I could even walk. My poor mother. I'm glad I don't have a top bunk in the house right now!

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Boys

These are my boys. Gotta love 'em. I'd like to do a post on my own and only girl, only now that she's 15 she's not around nearly as much as these guys and I'm having trouble scaring up some decent pictures (and by decent I mean ones she won't kill me for posting haha)! Now that I'm aware of this shocking deficiency you can be sure I'll correct the situation.

This is Silas's first fish. Let me tell you about my dear husband - stuff like a first fish, that's big deal. He doesn't have any sisters, and his mom drives logging trucks in her spare time, so he's definitely a man's kind of man. You know, rifles, dirty beat-up trucks, rodeo, beer, that kind of thing. So a son who's as into fishing as ours? A Big Deal, indeed!

Oliver looks a bit concerned in this photo. Maybe he's afraid he'll be in his big brother's shadow forever? Don't worry Ollie, this next photo's all you, buddy:

This was taken a while ago during a quick break for snacks during branding in the heifer pen. Typically, by the time the morning chores are done and things get set up, it's around nine or ten. There's no way to get all those calves branded by lunch, so we bring a hefty coffee break down to the workers at noon and then have a late lunch whenever they're done - be it two o'clock or after four. Oliver was chewing on a pear and I felt it my motherly duty to try and keep that juicy fruit out of the dirt. So I put him in a grain tub. I'm sure dried cow slobber was a much better element than dried calf poop and mud.

I stand by that to this day.

And look at him, he seems to be okay, right?! It's funny, you'd never guess that he freaks out if his dad puts him to bed at night, 'cause he sure likes hanging out with dad during the day. He's actually wearing Scott's work hat right now which just proves how much he likes him as I wouldn't touch that thing with a ten foot pole and arm length gloves. Do you know what ranchers use arm length gloves for? Never mind. The point is, I wouldn't do it, but this kid sure doesn't seem to mind. I love this smile!

Okay, one more photo before I end this randomness:

This is the epitome of Silas. A puddle and a big truck. In fact, I'm suprised I don't have more pictures of him like this! He goes NOWHERE unless he's pushing this truck. He's actually worn the wheels right through, we wrapped them in black hockey tape. If ever they make one of these great metal tonka trucks with rubber tires, I will buy at least five. The plastic tires on these trucks are SO LOUD on a gravel road. If I'm with someone, we can't even have a conversation, it's ridiculous. On the upside, I can usually tell where he is on the ranch when he's ripping around with his dumptruck - the sound carries a ways!

So that's them! Some time in the near future, I'll be sure to post a bit on my lovely daughter. She's been such a gem lately, I'm pretty sure there's a good chance that she'll end up human before all's said and done!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First Tot School!

Tot School

So, this is our first tot school post ever! I'm kind of easing into it. Silas is almost 38 months and has never done anything like this. I'm a pretty free range kind of parent . . . I don't spend a lot of time playing with him one on one, mostly I see myself as a facilitator providing options and equipment then stepping back, preferably out of sight, and letting what happens happen. One exception is books. We both love books and I read books to him at least twice a day, often three or four times a day (before and after nap, before bed and often first thing when he wakes up we'll squeeze a book in at his request).

So far I think this has produced a rather imaginative, traditional, well-developed, independent and happy little boy and I like it! But now that he's past his third birthday and now that he's showing an interest in learning his letters, I think we're ready for a little more focus. I feel his fine motor skills are perhaps a little behind, but really I guess that depends on who you compare him to. Let's just say it's not something I'm really concerned about, but certainly one reason behind beginning Tot School.

Another reason is the plain fact that I intend on homeschooling our kids and figure I might as well start now so that all the bugs are worked out once things are 'more important' if that ever happens! So this summer is all about finding our groove and what works for us. Out of the blue yesterday I pulled a few trays together (except I don't have trays lol! I'm considering just going right with work boxes).

This activity he's using some plastic tweezer that came with a little bug house to move rainbow pom-poms. I just kind of grabbed a random handful and there ended up being two extra which kind of disturbed him, so next time I'll probably be more careful to grab the right number. He enjoyed talking about the different sizes and colours of these things, as well as counting them.

Notice all the little orange squares on the carpet? Another activity was cutting strips of paper. He wants to cut with scissors but has a lot of difficulty with this. When I worked in a daycare we had little scissors with extra handles on them so an adult could help (like these ones), I may look into them depending on how he progresses. We picked those squares up later to use in a gluing activity at a later date.

That's all we did this time around. I learned that it's quite easy to get a few activities together and it doesn't take a lot of time. Silas seems to enjoy the activities and so did I. We'll do this again soon, first time around was a success! For more great ideas and information about Tot School check out this great blog here.

Sweet Potato/Yam update

So, for those of you who care (and, let's face it, so I remember what I did when I try again next year!), I've planted two of my most beautiful yam sprouts today. I've read you either need to snap the sprouts off the potato and let them grow their own roots, or you just plant the whole potato in the ground. So I've done one of each, and will do more as they grow a bit. I've found a great little spot in my yard, south facing and covered by a huge overhang. I'm hoping it will be extra warm and extra sheltered and maybe I'll get something out of it? We'll see! Here are a few pictures to show what I did today:

So here's the whole potato method just before I planted it. Isn't it beautiful? I'm no expert, though, so I hope it lives!

And here' the sprout. Now, I've read that you snap off the sprout, then put it in water to grow roots. But some of my sprouts grew low enought that they were also submerged in the water the potato sat in, so they grew roots of their own right off the bat even though they were also growing out of the potato. Haha, look at the shadow of my hand in this one! The sun was bright enough outside I didn't even notice it before!

So I planted both of these in some mushroom manure dirt, then set a drip line on them to give them a good start, then covered the surrounding area with lawn clippings to keep them moist. Cross your fingers it works well! I really hope to get something, although I suspect my growing season just won't be long enough. It's already the middle of June, but with the way the weather's been I don't think I could have planted them any sooner. Maybe next year we'll have an earlier spring for better results?!

And that's the finished product. A little hard to see, but let's try and remember that I put the whole potato in the front and the sprout in the back!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Here's the Plan

Okay, I've been slacking. I'm the kind of girl that needs a plan, a routine, practically a schedule! I've been in a bit of a funk lately, getting a lot of things sorted out in my life so I have a bit of sanity to spare for blogging. I'm not sure how much sanity I have to spare, but I think I've got the plan laid out. How does that go? Failing to plan is planning to fail? Heaven forbid! Here are few points in my next set of mid range goals:

1) Silas is now three. In my books that means I finally get to pursue a bit more "formal" education. Yeah, right . . . I'm not planning on hitting the books by any means, but I would like to set up a regular routine 2-4 days a week where we spend a bit of time in 'focused play'. I LOVE the idea of Tot School set out over by 1+1+1=1. It might be a bit young for Silas, however this we'll cover a lot of basic skills and whatever he's already mastered, we can leave behind and focus more on whatever challenges are left over. This way I know exactly where we stand and where to go next. As an added bonus, I can pave the way for Oliver and get him having some fun with us.

This is a way to experiment with the whole home schooling day and see what to expect, especially as far as the rest of live goes. I know it's possible to home school, I mean obviously a lot of people do it. I just want to see what it means for us in terms of gardening, animal chores, housework and other commitments.

2) Which brings me to a second goal: The garden. So far it's not going too bad, but we haven't even finished planting yet! The weeds are going to be coming hard and fast in the next few weeks and I need to be out there every day! My little daycare friend will only be coming out full time for one more week and then for a week or two on a more part time basis. I'm hoping the start of weeds and the end of her time will coincide nicely and I'll be able to get a few things accomplished. I need to get a daily routine set up that works with my first goal as well as both boys' naps! Additionally, my sister in law has some outdoor toys her boys have outgrown that Oliver would love. I NEED to get them from her house asap before she gets rid of them on her own. I will keep these down at the garden and eventually fence in a small space where he can play and snack without interference from the dogs.

3)My dairy cow! I'm so excited to announce that I will be purchasing a dairy cow in September from a friend in the Lower Mainland. In reality, she is mine but she will not be coming 'home' until then as that is when she will be drying up and our friend assures us that is the best time for a big change like moving homes. She is a Jersey cow, due to calve a pure Jersey calf in November. She's been shown before, which means she's used to being handled, she's halter broke and she's fairly gentle. I trust this friend to provide us with an excellent cow and I cannot wait to meet her. So this summer I will be preparing for my new cow, getting her set up and accumulating the equipment needed for milking and processing the milk (buttermaking, cheesemaking etc).

4) It's so heartbreaking to say it, but I believe my husband, my kids and I will be leaving this ranch at some point this year. Things aren't 100% but we're feeling like the right place for our family at this time is at Scott's family's ranch about forty minutes from here. It was not an easy decision to make, we love living here so much, but there are important things to consider and that was just the way our cards lay. So. My fourth goal for the summer is to continue to strive to design the perfect house for our family. I say continue to strive because I've always had an interest in residential design and I'm constantly designing us the next 'perfect' house. Let me tell you, the word perfect is not a word I like to use but I feel like I can get around this by saying "perfect for our family". This just means a house that really fits us, works for us, and suits us. As it will be built on privately owned ranch that's been in Scott's family for generations, there is no nagging need to design a home that's also suitable for resale. Therefore it is not going to be a generic plan, it certainly will not be one of the garages with living space you see built so often these days, and let me tell you, it will really show off who we are and what we believe in! Now I just have to design it! This process, from beginning brain spams to (hopefully) finished product, will be recorded for posterity on my new (second) blog: Not for Resale.
5) And just cause I think five is a good number and four somehow seems unfinished, I want to throw one more goal in there. As part of setting up an updated daily/weekly/monthly plan, I will be instituting a nightly "My Computer" time. I get up between 5 and 6 every morning, thanks to the little ones, and I generally get a cup of fake cappuccino and sit down at the computer. Lately this has been hit or miss as the boys have been hungrier than usual, so it's usually full of interuptions and that tends to make me grumpy. So instead of trying to get 'real work' done at that time, I'll probably use that time to post in a few forums I frequent and read a few blogs I keep up with (see the sidebar!). Nightly computer time will happen after the kids are asleep and after the kitchen is cleaned and that's not only when I'll do my own blogging, but also when I 'll be creating my newsletters for my jointly-owned organic produce delivery service. It starts up next month and I'll be giving at least a full day to that every week, but all the free/at cost organic produce is SO WORTH IT lol!

All right. So, it's all there in a nutshell. Now I just have to do it! If only I had followers to make me toe the line. On the other hand, then I actually would have to toe the line. I'll let you know how it turns out (I say to myself . . . ?)