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The daily grind..

April 27, 2015

Well, we’re back at it…a 5 day holiday was just what I needed to feel re-charged and go head long into this final phase of our schooling year. I’ve gone through each of the kids books and we’re on target for completion at the end of May, because of the delightful season change and because we are finally able to step foot OUTDOORS without fear and trepidation of being assaulted by the elements.

Although, the kids have agreed that we’ll keep up with a couple pages of math per day throughout the summer months so that come September they’re not re-learning for the first few weeks. Soon, I’ll be thinking through what needs to be ordered for August and then it’s time to close up shop for the summer. I find that if I think ahead now, I save myself a lot of grief trying to figure out curriculum come fall, best to do it while my head is still in the game. I say ‘close up shop’ but I have to admit, some of our best learning comes through the summer. The kids have a chance to read for as long as they’d like about whatever interests them, explore to their hearts content, and imagine anything their mind allows them. This, I might add, is how that jewel of a game ‘Helen Keller’ was developed…good ol’ summer pastime.  I do find I need to provide a few prompts now and again, and I do plan to have a few boredom busters up my sleeves, but the freedom summer provides is something my heart is yearning for.


In gardening news, the seedlings are growing well. So far I have the following growing on bench under the windowsill:

Cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers, sugar- baby watermelons, pickling cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, leeks, basil, parsley and for fun: lavender, burgundy sunflowers, and pink pampas grass, white foxgloves, and a lupin from PEI.

While I was in AZ, The Hubs and the kids worked from sun up to sun down on that Saturday, to clean up a scruffy fence row that lined the side of our backyard. It was decided a few months ago while the white stuff was still piled high, that we would be putting our future garden there. (We had put one closer to the house last year, but the soil conditions weren’t favourable, it was actually a lot more clay and stone than good soil and the plants showed the lack of nutrients.) When I got home and saw all the work that had been done by my lovies, I could have cried…this is just how my family is…they completely understand that dirt is my love language.

Soon, the neighbour will be bringing over his roto-vator on his tractor and will be giving us a nice deep till, that turns the dirt into a beautifully fine seed bed. We’ll work in some compost from the farm and pick stones  and then it’s planting time! This year I’d like to make a bean trellis and try to train the cucumbers to grow vertically as well…we’ll see how that goes.

Anyone else with big gardening plans? if so, I’d love to hear about them!


In a land flowing with…Maple syrup

April 14, 2015

The Hubs has a friend, Mr. Dan, who is a maple syrup producer here in Ontari-ari-o, he works full time with Dwight, but come February he can only be found in his sugar shack, until the sap stops flowing.

Mr. Dan invited our family to come and see how the beautiful amber liquid is produced and I thought I’d take a thousand low quality photos, so that you, my people, could come along!

It all begins in his bush lot where he has tapped 4000 maple trees and collects the sap a couple times a day in his re-done milk truck tanker. It’s then stored in these sap tanks.



The sap is then pumped through this reverse osmosis system, designed specifically for sap. It removes nearly all of the water from the sap. Before Mr. Dan had this machine, he had to boil off all that extra water and it took him up to 3 times longer to make the syrup.



After the sap has been through the reverse osmosis, it becomes a concentrated sap….here it is pouring into yet another holding tank.




Then when Mr. Dan is ready to boil, the sap is piped over to this humdinger of a machine. It reminded me of the machine in the wizard of Oz, with all the steam and smoke, gauges and dials..



The majority of the steam that boils off the sap goes up through these chimneys. When outside the sugar shack, plumes of this sweet smelling steam meets your nostrils and glory be… it’s better than bacon. I’m already trying to figure out how to bottle this stuff as a perfume.




This is Mr. Dans stack of wood, he begins chopping in the fall just to have enough to get him through the sap season.




This is the belly of the beast, logs are thrown in here to keep the syrup boiling.



And here it is the star of the show…Mmm. Look at all that frothy goodness. Mr. Dan has to keep a close eye on it at this point, so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as it’s gotten too hot, the burned flavour will ruin the syrup. Thankfully, this lot of syrup was just right.






This part of the visit was good for the kids to see, making fine maple syrup requires a lot of math and science to get it just right.




Once Mr. Dan has decided that the syrup is prime, he opens the pipe and out it flows. At this point it’s still boiling hot and looks like water….or according to Ashlyn, ‘dirty, sewer water’. Nice.





The syrup is then pumped into these large steel barrels, which become burning hot from the fresh syrup.



Closed up tight, and ready to store.



Mr. Dan also packages his syrup in many different kinds sizes of bottles. He sells them at the local farmers markets and shops in his area, and also sell steel barrels to Quebec.






The colour of maple syrup is dependant on the time of the season that the sap is boiled. For instance, the beginning of the season produces a light coloured and delicate flavoured maple syrup, while the end of the season sap produces a darker syrup like the picture above. It has a much more robust maple flavour, great for cooking with.


And of course, my favourite part of the tour was the final product … warm and delicious, fresh out of the boiler… I could’ve drank a mug full.



Hope you enjoyed the tour!!



There’s peace…

October 2, 2012

Well we’re in the swing of things. So much so that a weekend almost seems like an interruption. (A welome interruption of course :) I’ve been easing into this homeschooling thing and we’ve now reached our full load, I’ve yet to scrawl out a concrete schedule, but things are in rhythm.

I’d still like to write out our daily doings, not only for the kids to feel the satisfaction of crossing off their completed subjects but also for myself .. as evidence that we’re really getting it done.

There’s this overwhelming peace over our days, I know it’s from the Lord and I’m ever in awe of His ways. So, so much better than my own.

I read this post today  from the blog ‘ a wise woman builds her home’ and what she says rang true. The math and reading are important, but nothing is more important than giving our day to His leading and putting Him first, Our devotion time sets the start of our day.  Like she says it’s about whats eternally important.

Sure as shootin there are moments I want to pull my hair out, but there are far more moments that I’m able to enjoy watching them learn and grow.  I’m hardly able to answer without tears when people ask how homeschooling is going. It’s exponentially superceeded my expectations of what it would be like. I’d envisioned days of clutter, boredom, whining and a tired old mom who gives until she is spent. (and indeed there are these moments) but far outweighing that are lighbulb moments, peaceful moments, love, character building, sharing, talking, and a great deal of giving…but that kind of giving that feels great….like tithing or gift giving. I get to share all these special moments with my kids and God has given me the ability to teach them..and love them…at the same time!