13 January 2017

Post-holiday happenings

Our holidays don't seem to be as restful as we'd like.  It's just with a big family and many friends - all great blessings in our lives - there is a lot of entertaining and being entertained.  It is nice to catch up with old friends though, so I'll take it.

After the holidays were through, we settled into a more relaxed rhythm.  Everyone helping around the home, doing a little academic work together (mostly math and writing), and some excursions to round things out.  The kids did a lot of baking with me, including those cheese pies.  Come to think of it, I don't think I did much besides the prep work.  They pretty much put them together and I stuck trays into the oven.  Done.  It's actually a wonderful feeling to have helpers in the kitchen.  It's taken a few years of "training", lots of messes, plenty of patience and encouragement, but they seem to be well on their way to self-sufficiency in this area.  

 J is working on math now.  She is a playful monkey, so it's tough to stay on track usually.  I have to keep reminding myself that the work she's doing doesn't matter nearly as much as our time together and how we connect.  Not easy.  She is chugging along however and has mastered the collective exercises for addition.  We are working on carry-overs now.  She and Michael partner up for this, and I am the happiest mom watching them work together.  I think J likes it because we make a big deal whenever someone says "ten" as they count beads.  :)  

I have to say that most of our work is done in 10-15 minute increments.  It's very manageable.  In fact, many times the kids move on to a second round of work, or else they do a little extra,  I like that aspect immensely about Montessori.  It doesn't take much.  The trick is to do it as often as possible - if not daily then at least 2-3 times a week.  This repetition helps to cement concepts in a profound way.  I find that even if a child does not grasp every single aspect or angle of whatever the lesson is, they still understand the concept.  

This little munchkin is growing like a weed!  She is past one and walking.  Climbing is more like it.  She climbs everything.  We've had to be creative with this one, she just can't help it.  She loves to by a part of whatever's going on, which usually means getting up onto the dining room table, or climbing all over the sofas and side tables.  She's so happy and so full of zest as she goes exploring, we can't help but kiss those cheeks!  

When evening arrives, the best way to calm down rowdy kiddies is to read with them.  I was so glad when D captured this moment.  I don't think we have any recent shots of us reading together.  Here we are reading "The Quiet Little Woman" by L.M. Montgomery.  The kids love it, especially the older two.  

There is always work to be done in the kitchen.  As per usual.  I don't think we've been terribly creative on that front, but I have had more spurts of energy, so we have had less sandwiches and more hearty fare.  I am trying to stay away from cold cuts, which is difficult because a) it's convenient for lunches, and b) the kids love it.  I've made them steak sandwiches, pulled beef and turkey (from leftover turkey) that I've stashed in the freezer.  I think that's going to be my new system.  Once we have something like a roast or turkey, I will freeze a certain amount to use for lunch meat.  Finally got this down!  

I painted this icon years ago, but the gold starting peeling off thanks to a bad metal size I used.  (Of course!)  Thankfully, we found an experience iconographer to fix it.  I will never use that size again.  Yeesh.  Thankfully, all's well that ends well.  

So, I bring this little update to a close.  It's sounds an awful lot like a point by point rehash of bits of our days, but right now, that's all I've got.  Didn't want to keep postponing it.  Wishing you a great weekend!

31 December 2016

Sleepy and thankful

I'm sitting up awake and the house is quiet, not a creature stirring, not even a mouse!  :)  Couldn't resist throwing that line in there.  It is quite appropriate.  We had some dear friends over today.  What is it about true friends, real kindred spirits?  They transcend time and space in tangible ways.  Why, when we have been apart for so long, we just pick up right where we left off without any ado!  It's quite beautiful.  

My heart is soothed by sweet friends and family.  I think everyone should have some kindred spirit with which to share their love, their joys, their messy moments.

Anyhow, after a satisfying visit, I am sitting here just enjoying the quiet.  I should be up finishing the dishes and possibly sweeping the floor, but I just can't.  More accurately, I have decided to leave them all until tomorrow.  Blessed tomorrow will provide a bit of added energy and resolve to tackle the leftover work from today.  

We are planning a quiet New Year's together here at home.  Perhaps we will go tobogganing, or skating.  Then curl up with hot chocolate (and marshmellows if my kids have any say in the matter) and possibly talk, or play an impromptu game together.  

So I just looked at the time and it is much later than I imagined.  That's my cue to turn in.  Wishing you a wonderful start to 2017!  

13 December 2016

A few December traditions

Advent has begun a couple of weeks ago, but we are sluggish in our Christmas making.  This is my fault.  There is something about life nowadays that has me anxious to complete the daily work without any frills.  Survival mode of sorts.  Or perhaps it's just a prolonged and much-needed break - an unconscious need making itself heard.  Don't know.  I have grand plans, as always, but need that initial thrust to get started.

There are two hats I have finished, at long last, for my girls.  So thankful for that thrust of motivation, as it is getting colder outside.  Now I must dig deep to finish M's.

On a completely unrelated note, I have to mention just how much my kids love our Schleich figures.  We have built up our collection over the years and it is by far the "go to" toy in our home.  That and Lego.  :)  They really are so well made, I can't speak highly enough about them.  Our kids have been given several different brands in addition to the Schleich, but I have to say that the Schleich have held up best of all.  So.  If you are looking, it's a great gift for toddlers and older children too!

We had a lovely feast of St. Barbara on the 4th.  It is tradition to make special donuts dunked in an orange-blossom flavoured honey syrup.  Delicious.  Mine didn't turn out too well.  I mean they taste ok, but I don't seem to leave them in the syrup long enough for them to soak up a little of the moisture on the inside.  Ah well.  We still enjoyed them.

And St Nicholas visited the children on the 6th.  It is one of their favourite days.  He left some chocolate milk and money in each boot.  And that is more than enough to make their little faces glow with happiness!  They can barely go to sleep the night before and woe to us if we forget.  Actually, one year I forgot to put them in their shoes and they woke up and checked their shoes.  How disappointed they were.  Then, in a flash of inspiration I dropped the goodies into their snow boots and then suggested they check ALL their shoes.  Eventually they found them and the saying went out that St. Nicholas prefers boots.  This year they set their boots out to be sure.

I love thinking to think up small ways to create in them a real love for God and the saints.  That's kind of why we do it.  M has asked how does St. Nicholas know where we live and how does he come.  I tell him that sometimes St. Nicholas visits himself, and other times he sends someone in his stead.  I think he will understand soon that we are the ones that put the treats in their boots, but I don't think that will change anything for him.  St. Nicholas is a beloved saint to the children.

There are two weeks till the end of Advent.  If I don't have time to update this space before then, it is because I choose to retain my sanity, to enjoy each moment as it comes without thought for documenting its posterity.  Wishing you a white and wonderful journey!

4 October 2016

Apples and pumpkins are upon us!

I've been procrastinating and procrastinating and procrastinating writing a post here.  And suddenly, POOF!  It's already October and time has flown by.  Early October, with its crisp mornings and sun-warmed afternoons; with its long sleeves and sweaters (at least in the morning); with its explosion of colours on the trees and plants everywhere; with its profusion of apple and pumpkin EVERYTHING!  September is a more subtle introduction, but October welcomes autumn in all its flaming glory! 

I have three hats in queue.  Already.  In fact I would like to do a few more as gifts, but it may be more than I can handle at this point.  Slowly, slowly.  I do have plans for another patchwork quilt, but that is more like a long-term project.  Perhaps before the springtime?  D has been giving me shirt after shirt - the ones that have worn out with wear, which means I have a nice selection of fabric waiting for me.  

I did finish up some summer projects, most notably that icon above.  A special work indeed.  I don't know if I'll work on another one before the end of the year, but it is awfully tempting!  

Kids have settled into their school routine, though I would like to make a greater effort to be outside more.  Too fleeting this gorgeousness!  I hope to be back with more happenings before November!  

In the meantime, just look at how these monkeys have grown!  Too fast, I say!  (Oh, and how much do I love raising little readers!)

5 September 2016

Dear September, welcome!

It is the end of our long weekend, and we are all together at home - just the way we love it!  I get the feeling that this won't last, this wanting to be together, this being happy at home, this quieter, calmer existence.  A part of me recognizes that is the way of things, and the other part pull one or two onto my lap to savour this moment.  Now.  In the present.

(Actually, to tell you the truth, I can't pull them onto my lap.  They are all blissfully snoring away in their beds, giving D. and I have a moment of quiet calm before bed.)

Lest you think we spend all our time at home, apple picking was on our agenda this past weekend.  :)  My favourite occupation in September, by far.  Then again, I am an apple gal.  I think they are my favourite fruit.  I mean, I love fruit in general.  Sweet, juicy, and sometimes downright exotic!  But whatever affair fruit takes me on, I always seem to come back to apples.  And there's nothing better than picking your own bushel of apples right from the tree.  Sunshine, birds and breezes included free of charge.  :)

I made a tray of walnut baklava for the first time last week.  Yumm-y!  Perfect dessert for fall by the way!  Thank God we didn't keep it in the house.  I would be two sizes bigger, guaranteed!  I probably still ate too many.  Baklava does that to me.  I want to try a pistachio version next time.  I am already planning the next tray.  And if I get lucky, I will invite myself over to a friend's house to learn how to make the cashew baklava.  Oh baklava.  It would have been better if we'd never met!

So.  Tomorrow is the first day of school for the coming year.  Surprisingly, I have two who are now excited.  To be completely transparent, J was less than enthused this morning, but for some strange reason, by the end of the day she performed a 180 degree turn and was jumping up and down on her bed with excitement not too long ago.  And while I love that they love to be home, I do not relish dramatic scenes of parting.  So here's to hoping that excitement lasts long enough for a new routine to form.  

I am very much hoping we can keep some of the routines we formed during the summer.  Especially our morning/breakfast one.  Fingers crossed on that one.  I hate being rushed, and school days are rushed.  Boo.  

Hope you had a great weekend surrounded by your loved ones too!

23 August 2016

Our lazy, fruit-filled August days...

I forgot to post a whole bunch of photos and happenings last week.  Or maybe it was the week before.  Akh.  I've hit that magic number of something - whatever it is that makes you lose your mind.  Kids, years, who knows.  

We just came back from our spot in Michigan.  Our retreat, our oasis just outside of the world.  That monastery is a piece of heaven.  They all are.  But this time, I felt that our visit was too short.  I felt that there was more that needed digesting, more than needed to be said.  But just like that, we were back on the road coming home and I was left with more questions than when I came.  Perhaps that is the way of things.  There was something different about this visit.  Something more solemn to me.  I am still mulling it over.  Digesting.  

Apple picking season starts very very soon.  Not soon enough for my little ones.  But here were are almost at the end of August.  I am not ready to say goodbye to the summer just yet.  We have a few more things that need doing.  

Today I made yogurt for the first time in months.  Definitely since baby M came things have been different, routines dropped or changed, and disorder rampant.  It's not her, bless her little heart.  She's a darling; a ray of sunshine.  Even the older ones dote on her.  It's just that life has to be rearranged with babies.  :)  But now we have yogurt.  And labneh!  Dany is very happy.  I don't usually make labneh.  I never grew up with it, so it's hard to remember to make it!  (Not like I notice it's missing until I really want it...)  

Did ever mention that I thank God for good neighbours?  Well I do!  Last week, one of our neighbours down the hall dropped off some of their extra basil, chives and blueberries.  How sweet!  The kids just devoured the berries.  I thought maybe we'd make something - a blueberry lemon loaf cake, or even a pie.  Nope and nope.  They didn't have a chance those berries.  I can't say I was upset.  Fresh fruit just belongs to summer.  We've been enjoying lots of peaches.  In fact, tomorrow we'll pick up another basket at the market.  I love summer Wednesdays. 

I have been painting these past two weeks.  It is heaven to be back at the brushes.  Of course, I have other things pulling at my time.  Namely a sweet, drooling baby who's crawling!  :) Oh those teeth.  They are cute, but bought at a price.  Sleep is the price.  :)  

On that note, I'd best be off to bed.  Who knows how many times I'll be waking up to kiss those sweet cheeks tonight.  (Actually, to be completely honest, I am not always fully awake when I "wake up" with her...)  Sweet dreams world!

5 August 2016

Reading, animals and other summer adventures

Last time I posted I referred to the long weekend we just had as "Family Day".  Family Day is in February.  Apparently.  (And that is why I'm not in charge of anything important.)  It wasn't Family Day, just a Civic Holiday.  Oh well.  We still had our own "family day" and enjoyed it together!

Our city libraries have been on strike this summer.  Until now that is.  At last the doors are open again and we shall make our way there tomorrow to collect some new books.  The kids especially are eager to stock up on some audio books.  We've missed them.  And perhaps find out if the summer reading club will continue this year?  All good things to look forward to when you're 3 and 5 and 7.   (Baby M likes books too, but she prefers to gum them instead of read them.  We're working on that.)

We spent an afternoon at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  No pictures from the Village here, but lots of memories.  I recall a lot of impromptu insect studies.  An especially large ant, an enormous fly, a hiding spider... little eyes notice little things.  Also, the animals were a big hit.  The kids just love animals.

Speaking of animals, we went to a farm this past weekend for the afternoon, and the kids just gravitated towards the livestock.  As you can see, they enjoyed a donkey ride.  Feeding a horse clumps of grass was also promptly executed by three willing volunteers.  They felt there wasn't enough food for the horse in her yard.  :P  How funny children are.  I am trying my best to sit back and let them "unfold" a bit instead of constantly restraining or checking them.  It's also part of me trying to understand them.  Each child is a huge puzzle to me.  Why does one adore horses while the other is ga-ga over tractors?  Each is so different, yet they share many similarities as well.  (I may never get the hang of this parenting thing!)

I love these monkeys!  Gotta love a good tire swing.  This one reminded me of those old fashioned swings that swing out the barn door into the sky beyond!  It actually does swing out the door, and while I have been trying to let the kids "unfold", I wasn't ready for a broken arm.  So, we kept it tame.  Plenty of time for them to discover the joys of jumping from the hayloft on a tire swing on their own.  For now, they enjoyed the swinging without the jumping.  :)

I've been stumped as to what project to pick up next.  I've been teaching a bit of crocheting to one of the kids, so I have a dishcloth I'd like to finish off, but I have no idea what to do next.  A quilt feels like a wonderful project to start!  But I am simultaneously gravitating towards the paints.  Oh I feel the pull of those colours - silent, strong, relentless.  Or maybe they both need a turn together?  Ah, I am making myself dizzy.  Tomorrow is another day to decide.  In the meantime, I have a few printing and laminating jobs to finish.  And there's that pegboard that needs to go up...  (oh, housework, how I love thee...)

This post has been a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Sort of what life is like for me I guess.  Lots of ups and downs.  Lately a few downs.  :(  I don't particularly enjoy them, though I see their merit once I've passed through the tunnel.  What seems to help most is staying busy.   I actually made some vegan burgers the other day.  I think they were good, but could benefit from a little tweaking.  You know that feeling?  When you know you're on to something good, but it's just not there yet?  Ya, that.

Oh, and when did this darling 3 year old get so big?  Just edible.  Except when she's whining.  Then she drives me nuts!  Just my luck that she's got this "whine-y" voice thing going.  We're working on that - for MY sanity more than anything else!

Wishing you a sunny, warm and relaxing weekend!