Homeschooling

If you would have asked me when I became a mother if I wanted to Homeschool I would have said HECK NO! I was 100% on the side of public school, and actually thought that homeschool was detrimental to the development of children.

Not joking.

I also was under the impression that only crazy Christians who wanted to protect their children from the corruption of the “real” world homeschooled.

Guys – have I ever talked about that time in my life that I thought the entire world operated in black and white?

I’m so thankful for personal growth, because WOW.

Over the last year and a bit I’ve started to have a passion for homeschooling. There are a number of reasons for that and the closer we get to Kindergarten the stronger this grows.  The more we talk about it the more my husband and I feel like this is what needs to happen.

So, why homeschool?

Well, one of our biggest reasons is the fact that I can tailor my children’s learning to their unique interests and learning styles.  I never thought about this until this past year while watching Ezekiel’s love of learning develop.  He’s such a little sponge and actually gets upset if we don’t do school every day.  What he doesn’t realize is that all throughout the day we are actually doing school – just not sitting down writing and colouring.  I try to tune in to his interests (currently we are back to being completely obsessed with Thomas and Friends) and then use those interests to challenge his learning.  Right now we are working on pen control, confidence with writing, counting, letter sounds and sight words and most of what I do outside of our workbooks centres on Thomas and happens during Ezekiel’s “playtime.”  For example, we might count the number of freight cars that Thomas is pulling, talk about what letter Percy starts with or try and draw Gordon while colouring.  All of these things are done intentionally but seem like they are just part of our day.

Some other reasons we are leaning towards homeschool is:

  • Freedom of time to travel without being “pulled” from school.
  • Ability to homestead and not have to worry about formal school hours during busy seasons.
  • Ability to help develop strong work ethic and life skills beyond school work.
  • Ability to focus on our children’s unique personalities and skill sets.

Of course there are definitely downsides to homeschooling but at this point we really feel strongly that the benefits far outweigh the downsides.  So with that in mind we power forward and work hard to try and make that a reality for September 2019, which primarily means paying off debt in order to be able to bring me home at least for the majority of the time.

With this being our ultimate goal I figured that this year at home with Ezekiel would provide a great “trial” run with homeschool.  I decided that I would undertake home preschool.  I had grand plans, I tried laying it all out and building a curriculum while I was on bedrest and waiting for our sweet babe.  Then I became a mother of two, life was hectic and I was trying to figure it all out.  So my grand plans became my “good enough” plans and we’ve done everything very informally.  I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a bit disappointed with my inability to make it more formal.  Yet I recognize my limitations and honestly I think we’ve done pretty good considering all things.  I try to do some form of school at least 3 times a week and that looks much different each week.  What I am so excited about is the fact that I’ve seen Ezekiel advance leaps and bounds from a year ago.  He’s a really easy student to teach given that he’s the one asking daily if we can do school and he would honestly sit for a few hours and just learn.

So, this year hasn’t been perfect, and there’s a million and one things I would like to change once kindergarten hits but it has solidified our desire to homeschool even more and for that I’m saying it’s been successful!

Would you consider homeschooling your children?

I plan on sharing a bit more in detail our homeschool journey so feel free to ask some questions and I’ll try and answer!

Garden Update August 5, 2017

I wrote this post sitting in a  car, driving to my parents.  It’s a long drive and an even longer one with two kids – one being 4 months old.  I figured it was a good time to post another update! We are enjoying our very short trip and I’m really hoping the garden is still doing well when we return! That’s the downside of gardening – travelling is hard to do unless you have someone to tend to the gardens. 

It’s been a busy week around here but I still managed to get some gardening done.  I finally have all the tomatoes supported, including catching up on the big gardens tomato weave – the pictures I have were taken on Tuesday before I finished the weave.  The greenhouse tomatoes have almost grown taller than their supports and still look awesome.  The outside potted tomatoes don’t look amazing but they’ve all been fertilized now so hopefully they perk up.  The garden peppers seemed to have liked the fertilizer, there are lots of peppers popping up now and they look a lot greener and healthier.  We are eating a zucchini a day and I think I’ll be making a lot of zucchini baked goods.  I put up a garden net securing it to the garden box and then to the fence for the butternut squash, watermelon, and cucumbers to climb.  I haven’t had any flowers or fruit on any of those yet – next year I definitely have to start them early in the greenhouse.  

I think that’s it for updates this week.  Seemed like the tomatoes are all getting ready to start ripening – then the fun begins! 

Disclaimer: you are about to see my yard in its truest form – always cluttered with various things Ezekiel drags around.  I did clean it right after these pictures but in the spirit of keeping it real didn’t retake them! 


That’s it for this week! Happy gardening friends! 

Garden Update July 8,2017

I’d really love to make these updates more regulated – like say – make an update every Sunday.  Yet this time in my life and motherhood journey I’m learning to be ok with “good enough” for most things.  So I take pictures regularly (confession: currently I have more garden pictures on my phone than kiddo pictures) and when I have some time to sit on my phone (and not scroll Instagram) I’ll write out a post.  Right now my baby needs some momma snuggles while sleeping so I have Jessica Jones on Netflix (my husband and I have recently become obsessed with all the Netflix original Marvel shows) and a post to write.

Since I last wrote I’ve actually gotten quite a lot accomplished in the garden.  I have all the tomatoes potted up, the tomatoes in the garden are pruned, supported and fertilized.  I harvested A LOT of greens and we’ve been enjoying salads daily.  The garden is growing amazingly, the wildflowers are blooming more and more each day, the herbs are coming along well, the tomatoes are mostly all flowering and many have tomatoes, and the peppers are finally starting to perk up and we already have a few growing.

This next week there’s a couple “have to” items on my list: hang up a shade cloth in the greenhouse and pot up the rest of the peppers.  Along with those two things I’m going to try and work through the rest of the potted tomatoes – prune them, stake them and fertilize them.  Lots and lots to do around here!

So here’s the last while in pictures:

Now, here’s the garden today:

Garden Update July 31

Well, another 2 week garden update.  It’s been busy and I’ve been pretty tired lately so blogging hasn’t been on the top of my list.  However, the garden is doing pretty great!  I have a lot of cucumber’s starting but none that have produced anything, today I did some manual pollinating so hopefully I get a few!  Some of my peppers weren’t doing so great in the greenhouse so I cleaned it out completely and put all the plants on the deck.  I’m hoping they perk up.  I’ve had some zucchini’s, tomatoes, a pepper and of course greens harvested.  A lot of flowers have started to open which is fun for me, I’ve never really grown flowers before.

Without further ado here’s the pics!

July 24:

July 31:

Until next week friends!

Taking Back Control

IMG_6304

I’ve been thinking a lot today about living with a chronic illness and/or chronic pain.  I bet there’s thousands upon thousands of blog posts on this subject but I process best through writing and so I will add my few words to the millions already written.  Grab a coffee with me and keep reading if you’re interested :).

Why this post today?  Well I guess it’s because the last couple days I’ve been struggling more with my energy and so I’ve been wondering why.  I’ve gone through the mental list of possible reasons and in the end I think it’s just what comes with the territory of chronic illness – and you know, that’s OK.  I’ve come to the conclusion that there will always be ups and downs but I really think living well through all of it requires consistency, persistence, and a whole lot of grace.

I’m not quiet about my medical conditions/history, in fact I’m probably annoyingly verbal about it.  Yet if you were to meet me and spend a week with me and if I were not to verbalize anything you would never know that I have any sort of condition (granted you could probably pick up on the twisted back if you were really paying attention).  In fact I would have never ever given myself a label of “chronic” anything up until a couple years ago.  I suppose I never labelled anything until I was trying to conceive and was advised to stop taking my NSAID’s to boost my chances.  In that moment I began to understand that I did in fact suffer from chronic pain and had done so for so many years that I can’t remember a time without pain.  Despite the chronic aspect of my pain I continued to live well and it really didn’t impact much of anything in my life.

Fast forward to the last 7 months.

I was just coming out of my full time working momma fog and began to realize that I had been feeling significantly unwell.  I’ve already wrote about my health struggles but it’s only recently that I have accepted that this too could very well be a chronic thing.  The thing is, it’s only the last 4-6 weeks that I’ve began feeling well again despite my health issues.  I feel as though I’m finally rising above the fog and now that every serious scenario has been ruled out I can finally begin to gain control again.  See, in the midst of all of this I had allowed myself to spiral downwards in a number of ways.  I felt out of control of my health as a whole and because of that I began to feel out of control of other areas of my life – spiritually, mentally, and financially.  I am so thankful for amazing physicians who allowed me to find solutions – even if they are just helping symptoms at this point – so that I could be lifted out of the dizzy fog and back onto solid ground.

A couple weeks ago I made the conscious decision that I was now going to gain back some control.  Obviously I know I’m never fully in control but there are always steps we can take to live well and live responsibly in a way that benefits our own lives and therefore the lives around us.  The hard part is realizing that it is our responsibility to live well, and living well always takes a certain amount of effort and consistency.  I know from past experience that it is very possible to live well despite chronic illness and pain and I am determined to get back to that point.  Here’s what I’m doing to get to that point:

Physical

  • Daily walking – this means getting up as early as 0445 in the morning and walking for a minimum of 30 minutes as well as getting out for walks during the day.  There’s not a lot I can do safely in terms of exercise but walking is easy, cheap and safe.
  • 3x/week body weight exercise – a lot of the time this is a very short amount of time and crammed into the daily routines of life.  It looks like dance parties with my son incorporating squats, planks, push-ups etc, or cooking supper while doing squats, or planking during Ezekiel’s bath time.
  • Eating fresh and eating green – having the garden has helped a lot with this part and I’m not being strict yet because I know it will be a natural evolution of life but I am trying to be far more conscious of what goes into my mouth.

Mental

  • Podcasts – I’ve been listening to a lot of health and wellness podcasts that have greatly enhanced my mental health.  I love learning but rarely have time to do new learning so this is something that’s easy to do while walking and driving.
  • Sleep – I’ve been getting to bed at a consistent time and waking at a consistent time.
  • Walking and exercise also contributes to mental wellness.

Spiritual

  • Meditation – I’ve committed to a daily meditation using an app.  I don’t outline a specific amount of time or what I want to accomplish – all of that will come with practice.

Financially

  • Keep the credit cards at home – I’ve taken them out of my wallet and put them away in a drawer.  I don’t do much online shopping so that’s not even a temptation for me but I consistently have been using my credit cards when I run out of cash and then paying them off with my pay cheques instead of just keeping myself accountable to the budget.  I’m determined to be credit card debt free in the next few months so that I can focus on paying student loans/debts.  The easiest way to get rid of the temptation is to remove it all together.
  • Strict grocery budget – I spend a ridiculous amount of money on food.  So I’ve instituted a strict grocery budget and I’m following it by using a calculator in the grocery store which helps me to say “no” to those extra items that I don’t really need but think I want.  When I go to the farmers market I take only the amount of cash left over from the grocery store and leave my wallet in the car so I’m not tempted to by anything extra.
  • Drink drip coffee – this is huge for me guys.  This was the hardest one to come to terms with.  If I have some extra money in the budget I’ll buy my special coffee but otherwise I’ll drink the drip coffee that my husband drinks.

There are sacrifices that need to be made but I know that these small sacrifices now will reap amazing rewards when it comes to living well and especially living well with chronic illnesses and pain.  Each part of our lives are intertwined and when one part is suffering the other parts are sure to follow which is why I’m addressing each area of my life in order to gain back wellness.

The end goal is to be in optimal health before getting pregnant with our next child and I’m determined to reach that goal.

 

Garden Update July 17

How did three weeks go by? It’s been a busy time around here.  The first of those 3 weeks was full of work for me, I worked 6/7 days which was nuts.  After that I spent time catching up around the house and garden and then we were off to Saskatchewan for a wedding.  This past week I’ve been doing things here and there around the house, doing a TONNE of walking (a post on that to come soon with an update on my health) and a couple night shifts thrown in there.  So to say we’ve been busy is a bit of an understatement but it’s been good, so so good.

The rain hasn’t stopped in what seems like weeks.  The yard and gardens are water logged and squishy and I’m really hoping for some sun this week to help the veggies grow.  Despite the lack of sun things seem to be doing well although my tomato plants are really begging for sun, a lot of the fruit is split on the bottoms and the leaves are curling on a lot of plants – sure signs of overwatering.

I’ve had quite a bit of harvesting to do, mostly leafy greens, lots of kale and swiss chard.  There have been 4 tomatoes that we have enjoyed and 2 zucchini’s which have been sautéed and loved.  The spinach and radishes are completely done, pulled and composted and I’ve replaced them with three different types of lettuce.   I thought we would be drowning in greens but actually we keep running out and having to harvest more!  I’m finding that I’m just becoming more creative in incorporating them into our meals and so far everyone has enjoyed it which is a very good thing :).

Despite me not writing posts with updates I’ve been taking pictures with intentions of blogging so here’s pictures from the week of July 3.

Now from the week of July 10:

Finally, this past week:

Well that’s it for now.  Hopefully this week I’ll have time to do some more blogging that’s not just gardening.

Ciao friends!

Garden Update June 26

I’ve been waiting all day to be able to post this.  I literally had these photos done by 730 this morning and here it is 1030 at night when I should be sleeping.  It’s been a good day but a day that has been full of family and friends being together and the in between has been time to sit and just be.  So I may pay for this in the morning but I really wanted to get this update up.

The garden is thriving and I couldn’t be happier.  We are now enjoying garden goodies daily.  One of my regrets is not planting more lettuce earlier on but I will be planting more this week.

Let’s start in the big garden, the tomatoes are doing lovely.  I must admit though, they are now getting to the point of growing like crazy and I’m a little overwhelmed with the upkeep.  I thought I’d be able to do weekly up keeping but I’m finding it now has to be done every few days.  I can’t complain though, they have some beautiful looking tomatoes on them!

 

I have thinned everything out to the best of my ability and now it’s just weeding and harvesting to do.  One variety of carrot did really well, the other is pretty sparse.  The seeds were a few years old so that’s likely why.  My terrible planting is really evident by how much (or little) space is between things.  I’ll be pulling all the radishes this week.  We aren’t huge radish eaters so I didn’t plant a lot but what I did plant has done really well.  I’m actually really impressed because I’ve tried to grow them several times with no luck.  The three varieties of lettuce I tried growing did absolutely nothing – there is some romaine growing though.  In the place of the radishes and where the lettuce didn’t grow I’ll be planting a mixed variety of lettuce which I have been growing in a container and we really like.  I’m not sure how the beets are doing, but judging by their tops I think they are ok.  The spinach and kale are doing really great, I did a big harvest today which is almost gone already, we are eating greens like crazy lately.

Now the smaller garden:

IMG_5444

The butternut squash plants are struggling, I’m not sure if I let them grow too long in small pots before planting them.  I’m going to pick up a plant tonic to try out and see if that makes them happier.

IMG_5446

The spaghetti squash, zucchini’s, and cucumbers are doing well though:

The pumpkin seeds I thought were duds finally sprouted.  I doubt anything will produce from them but I’m willing to wait and see.

IMG_5454

The flowers are doing well other than the Violas which I’m pretty sure never germinated, there are some plants growing there that I’m almost positive are just weeds but I can’t pull them just in case!

The greenhouse gardens are doing well.  Everything is coming up, some more slowly than others but I have high hopes.  I ended up deadheading the snapdragons after this photo.

The greenhouse plants seem to be doing well – the peppers especially.  The tomatoes I’m not sure about, one of them seems to just be shooting high with very little branches.  I’m interested to see if it produces much.  I’m really excited about the amount of blooms starting on the habanero’s and there’s a few peppers growing already.

The deck tomatoes are doing so much better than I expected and our container strawberries started to really produce!

Now it’s way past my bedtime and 5am is going to come quickly! I have some posts brewing in the back of my mind so I hope to get some time to jot those down.  For now I’ll just say see you next week! If you have a garden blog please share it with me, I’m obsessed with browsing gardens 🙂

Ciao friends!

Weekly Garden Update June 19

Ok, I figured I’d start my weekly updates today and then try to do them each Sunday.

Happy Fathers day by the way!

Here’s a big view of the yard as best I could get it.

Now I’ll take you through each of the gardens and then do the tomatoes and peppers separately.  I’ll start with the greenhouse gardens.

IMG_5175In the left hand garden I have morning glories and sweet peas planted to the back of the garden which will climb up the trellis and hopefully make it gorgeous!

IMG_5177I have three teepees with different types of peas planted at the bases of the poles.  Hopefully they climb up the poles.  Between the poles I have Tom Thumb Peas planted which don’t climb.

IMG_5180In the right hand garden I have bachelor buttons planted in the front of them.  I have a number of edible flower varieties planted that I purchased from a local plant store that supplies really great seeds.  The edible flowers came in a kit and so far all the seeds have done really well.  You should check them out here.

IMG_5181These are the snap dragons I grew from seed.  I started them in February at the same time I started my tomatoes and peppers.  I have never noticed snapdragons in previous years of greenhouse wanderings and had no idea what they were supposed to look like or how to grow them – so all of that considered I’m pretty impressed with them!

IMG_5182Behind the snapdragons I have three more teepees that have a couple different of varieties of beans planted at the bases.  One morning I came out to find a lot of the seeds at the surface, I have a feeling some of them were stolen by some kind of animal – likely birds.

Now on to the large garden:

And the smaller garden – the back of the garden is tomatoes, the middle is flowers and the front is squash varieties and cucumbers (and failed pumpkins).  I’m pretty sure the viola’s failed as well and are just some weeds.

Now the tomatoes and peppers.

Lastly – the containers!

Overall I’m pretty happy with how things are going.  There are some flops but that’s to be expected!

Until next week!

Mid Spring Garden Update

I am severely lacking in the garden post updates!  The garden isn’t planted yet but we have been hard at work getting things prepared.  I’ve been wanting to do a bit of an update for a while but wanted to do some close ups with the seedlings but I haven’t got those done yet so I decided something was better than nothing!

I’ve become very interested in following all sorts of gardeners and farmers on instagram and I’m envious of everyone who has full lush gardens and have already had a harvest or two of certain vegetables.  Of course they are growing far more south than I am but still, it’s testing my patience! I will say that having the greenhouse this year is helping with settling the impatience I feel.  I still get to “garden” every day, just in a bit of a different way.  Most of the plants are thriving in there right now but that didn’t come without some bumps in the road.   I have 3 or 4 rectangular planters that I wanted to experiment with so I  planted a variety of leafy greens, some Tom Thumb Peas, Bush Baby Zucchini, and sunflowers.  They haven’t done the greatest and one of the boxes got knocked to the ground by my husband. I did learn that they shouldn’t be in direct sunlight in the greenhouse – just too hot, so I’ve got them tucked to the back of the shelves for some shade.  Some of the plants died – a combination of getting too dry and sunburn.  I have a hanging planter full of lettuce that is growing beautifully.  I bought 6 strawberry plants and planted them in planters to hang off the deck, we’ve already had our first taste.  The pepper plants are chugging along, once again slower than I like but they are showing promise.  The tomato plants are going crazy, several of them already flowered and the rest producing flower buds.  I spent a couple hours one day meticulously caring for each one, pruning suckers and any yellow leaves.  They really liked that and have grown immensely since then.   The geraniums are doing quite well – I did lose a couple of them that just didn’t seem to want to grow but have plenty left to go into planters.  The snapdragons are also doing pretty well – to be honest I’ve never heard of or seen snapdragons before growing them this year so I have no idea what I’m supposed to look for in terms of good growth.  I have 4 butternut squash seedlings that are also doing great – I need to get them in the ground asap though.

I have a variety of things I’ve started/attempted to start as well – lots of different types of flowers, a bunch of herbs, spaghetti squash, perennial grass, cucumbers, pumpkins.  I was surprised this year to realize what a difference the seed company makes to the yield of each seed.  One company in particular – I think I may have successfully started a few seeds at the most and everything else that I’ve attempted several times has been a complete fail.  So there’s a huge lesson for me – I will be getting rid of those seeds and not buying from that company again.  I’ve also bought from companies I’ve never tried before this year but who have great reputations so I’m excited to see how well they do.

Aside from the plants in the greenhouse, we’ve also been doing a lot of updating in the yard.  Last year I had 3-4×4 gardens, this year I decided I wanted more space to grow so I had my husband build me a rectangular garden around the already existing gardens.  It ended up being 5×16.  Then on a whim I decided I also wanted a garden that would be partially shaded for part of the day and had him build me a 3×14 garden along the bottom of our deck. We also have 2 more boxes to build for the front of the greenhouse which will be 2×4 and 2×6. This increases our garden space from 48 square feet to 142 square feet! That is insane! I may have gotten carried away with myself this year, but I’m excited to continue to learn and grow things! Wednesday I had 5 cubic yards of soil dropped off to fill the gardens, and it was a bit too much – oops! But it’s a great excuse to start working on the front garden.  I don’t know that I’ll plant anything this year but we will start getting the ground ready to plant next year for sure – lots of landscaping work to be done there and unlike the backyard where I’ve taken lots of short cuts (and a professional landscaper would cringe at what we’ve done) we’ll have to do it right in the front.  So I’m going to go ahead and taken the time to do it well. I’ll keep you post on that progress as well!

Here’s some pictures of the last month or so of growing:

img_4172

img_4155

img_4333IMG_4312

IMG_4336

IMG_4393img_4463

img_4452

img_4402

img_4526

img_4449

img_4445

img_4436

img_4576

img_4584

img_4581img_4583

IMG_4582

img_4536

img_4709

img_4458

c0fa1193-5673-4e14-9d06-4a47567a39b5

img_4702

img_4710

img_4711

img_4712

img_4723

Growing Season

It’s the beginning of growing season and I couldn’t possibly be more excited!  I have some really big plans for my yard and garden this year – I’m going all in and I can’t wait to share it all with you in the coming months.  I’m in the planning stages at this point and soon I’ll share the plans and hopefully get some advice.

A few years ago if you asked me what my hobby was I would not be able to tell you anything.  I enjoy things like cooking and crafting and photography but I never considered anything to be my hobby.  The more I reflect on how much I love plants and gardening the more I am realizing that this is seriously my hobby.  It’s the one thing in my life I am really willing to invest in.  I look forward to visiting nurseries and plant stores.  I love doting on my plants daily, making sure they aren’t dried out and are growing OK.  My husband thinks I’m a little crazy but I literally can’t help myself.  If it came down to buying clothes vs buying plants or tools to help me grow plants I’ll always spend the money on plants.

I’ve been trying to think back on when this love of mine came about.  How did my love for growing things expand and when did it start?  I spent the first 10 or so years of my life on a farm surrounded by the culture of growing food both animals and plants.  My parents grew lots of things in the fields and we also had a huge garden that was planted each year and I was always part of the garden planting.  Then we moved off the farm but still we always had a garden, in my teens my only part of the gardening was picking the carrots and peas for a snack.  Regardless, those years at home being surrounded by that culture of growing your own food has obviously had an impact on me.  I have such fond memories of planting and weeding and harvesting I’m sure that’s where the love started.  Now that I have my own house and room to grow some of my own food that love is expanding.

I can’t wait to document and learn throughout the growing season this year and I can’t wait to share with you!

Here’s the progress so far:

  
 I have some more seed shopping to do but I needed to pick up some tomato and pepper seeds to get started last week.  I may be going overboard but I figure I can also gift some plants if I need to.  So far I’ve started 4 types of larger tomatoes: Red Brandywine, Italian San Marino, Mixed Stripe, and Black Krim.  I’m also planting a lot more peppers this year: Habanero (our most loved and used pepper in our house), jalapeno (probably will gift most of what we grow but I really wanted to try), and two types of sweet peppers for roasting and sauce making.  I couldn’t resist picking up a pack of snapdragons to start either.  I really want to try and grow mostly organic seeds this year.  They are pricey but will be worth it! 

  
The snap dragons and peppers have a much longer germination time then the tomatoes so I planted 4 of each kind in a seller are seed starting tray so that I didn’t have to try and figure out how to separate them like last year.  I ended up just using egg cartons to plant them because it’s what I had but I am noticing some weird growth that’s not the plants in the styrofoam cartons.  I suspect it’s from all the humidity but I hope it doesn’t interfere with the germination. 

  
I planted 36 tomato plants in total- 9 of each variety and I was much more careful at labelling this year.  I planted everything on February 25 and as of today all but 1 tomato has germinated.  

  
I used a regular potting soil instead of a soil free seed starting formula.  I did this for a couple reasons: it’s what I had and also I don’t have to transfer these so quickly into pots which gives me some more time to work out how the heck I’m going to grow all these until they are planted in the garden. 

Get ready for so many gardening posts to come!