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On Celebrating……. November 12, 2012

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This weekend I had the honour of helping to put on a surprise birthday party for my Papa.

To Celebrate his Eightieth Birthday.  How lucky am I?

My Papa has led a full and successful life.  He has a large family who adores him,  a wife with whom he obviously shares a deep and lasting love, and is still farming despite having “retired“ a couple of years ago.

Yup, pretty full and successful life, if you ask me.

I admire this man alot.  I spent much of my formative years following him around his farm, riding in tractors and combines with him, tagging along as he worked in his shop or did the barn chores.  I have fond memories of chewing wheat until it turned to gum, giant snow igloos, tire swing rides and walks to the cabin.  I have less fond memories of “watch pigs” and attempting to ride bikes that steer from the rear wheel.  Yes, he is a creative man, my Papa…….

Yes, I admire this man alot.  So at this party, I asked him if he had any advice for the rest of us, any words of wisdom.

He answered me this…..

“First, you need a good wife.  That’s really important in life.  And if you have something you love to do, then stick with it and work hard at it.  If you do that, you should be okay.”

Pretty good advice, if you ask me.

I love you Papa.  Cheers to you!

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On Homeschooling….. November 6, 2012

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So we do this whole homeschooling thing in our family.  And i get asked about it fairly often, so I thought it time I wrote a bit on my thoughts about it.

First off I will tell you that I never saw myself as a homeschooling Mama.  If you had told me when I had my first child that I`d be that Mama, who homeschools, breastfeeds for years, etc…..well, I would have laughed at you.

But, people change.  And I did so happily, and have never looked back.

When i jumped in to homeschooling (and we really did jump in, deciding only three weeks before the start of the school year that my then second grader and junior kindergartener would not be attending) I pictured it being rather like a wee one room school-house.  Nice quiet days where we read together, learned our math and spelling, and everyone played nicely.

I was pretty naive…….

To be honest, I don’t remember a lot about that first year as far as what we learned.  I know we did schooly work, math and such, and my eldest did a unit study on Canada…..and I remember watching the bus go by each morning feeling a mixture of freedom and fear.  And I remember how very hard it was to balance an infant and still be able to get quality “school” time in with my girls.

But mostly what i remember is the people we met.

Other Homeschoolers.  If you are going to live this lifestyle, you need some of these in your life.  You need the support of other parents who are also doing this.  And your kids need other kids who also are living life outside of the norm.

That first week of school, or non school, depending on how you look at it, I took my eldest to her gym class, and as we sat in the waiting room, the two girls with books in hand, and me trying to keep the infant happy, I looked up to see another Mama smiling at me.

“Do you homeschool?” the other Mama asked me, pegging us as homeschoolers right off the bat.

“I’m not sure, ” I replied, “but I didn’t send them to school this week.”

And so it started.  We laughed, and got to talking about how unsure we felt of ourselves, having just recently pulled our children out of the school system.  And a friendship began, both between the Mama’s and their children.  And through that first friendship, others were born, and a community was built.

I could have not stuck with this lifestyle without this community.  Yes, my family is supportive, but there is something immensely important about having like-minded comrades when it comes to something as important as educating your children outside of the accepted norm.  These Mama friends of mine have reassured me and supported me, vented with me and celebrated with me.  Again, I would not be where I am today if I had not met them.

Homeschooling is not a one size fits all education.  I think that is my favourite part about it, that I can tweak what we are doing (or not doing) to fit not only our lifestyle and interests, but my individual students as well.  Over the past four years we have dabbled in several different styles, from unschooling to using standard workbooks, to the unit studies we are currently doing as my eldest students get more advanced and independent.  I also love that we can follow the seasons; for us that means only really doing “academic” type work for about six months of the year, four days a week.  (We take Fridays as our Fun Day/Field Trip Day.)  The other six months of the year we are working hard on our little homestead, with our animal friends and in the garden.  Farm science anyone?

When I got married and had the opportunity to become a Stay at Home Mama, I had no idea that Stay at Home Mama would evolve into Homeschooling Mama.

But I am thrilled that it did.

And when I see that bus now?  Freedom.

What are your thoughts on homeschooling?

On Being Grateful….. December 4, 2011

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Today I want to share with you some of the things I am grateful for.

Today, I am grateful for…

A much needed day off.  Or, almost off, the toddler is still here, but my he is soooo relaxed today without his siblings around!  It’s been such a relaxing day thus far!

Having enough.  More than enough, really.  We are very blessed.

The opportunity to tour Station One.  Hats off to the Brotherhood. 

The chance to catch up with a good friend I don’t see often. 

Being able to go to my barn and just bask in the company of my animal friends.  No expectations out there.  Well, other than that I please feed them? lol

Family.  Always, this is on my list.

Shopping with my sister.  I cannot stand malls and crowds, however, it is always fun to shop with her, and the seven children.  And, she looks really, really pretty in bunny ear hoodies.  Not sure why she didn’t take my advice on that one.

The chance to just hang out with my husband.  We don’t get this often.

A chance to have a quiet house, so that I can remember that I really do love the life and energy a family of six creates.  Breaks are still good, though.

A moment to write.  This often is on the back burner for me, with all of life’s other demands.  I am grateful for my writing ability, as well as the time to devote to it.

Being here, in this exact place and time.  I am always grateful for this.

Four…. November 23, 2011

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Liam is four years old today.

Four.

Oh my.

My passionate, intense young man.  I love  him so very much, and am so very blessed to have him in my life.

We celebrated by….

Enjoying breakfast table gifts!  These lovely little things have already brought hours of fun, and are loved by all four of our children.  Wonderful kijiji find!  Love kijiji.

The girls also each gave Liam gifts, things of their own that they knew he would love (as he loves playing with them), and things that they made. It is so lovely, seeing the thought and care that they put into the gifts they give one another.  Such beautiful young people they are.

Taking cupcakes to playgroup to share with friends…

Lunch at Tim Horton’s.  The boy does love his sandwhiches.

Dinner with friends….which consisted of a fairly raised, free range bird from our own flock.  Let me explain that Liam has been waiting to eat one of the birds for awhile now, asking me on a regular basis when he would get to.  While they were still living he even offered to shoot them with his bow and arrow, because he just really, really wanted to eat one.  Yes, it is obvious the boy does not share my views on food.  And yes, that is perfectly okay with me. 

Cake, of course there was cake!

Liam recieved some lovely gifts, most of which were previously loved.  A wonderful way of giving gifts, if you ask me. 

We also had visits from two out of three sets of grandparents after dinner, making for a very wonderful day full of love.

Liam is one happy young dude today.  And, he informed me that his legs grew longer overnight. You know, because he is four and all.

Did I mention how much I love this boy?

Today…. November 20, 2011

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Wasn’t such a great day in my life.

It went like this.

Take kids to church.  Only toddler will not stop spazzing.  So, I leave early, in hopes that a nap will improve the toddlers mood.  (It did not, he woke up and spazzed for the rest of the day pretty much.  So happy for bedtime today!)

Try to work on the freaking hated curtains I have been attempting to make for the windows in our house.  Oh my, I just want to buy some.  I’ve realized over the past year that I really DO NOT like sewing very much.  Not much at all.  In any case, two windows did end  up with some curtains today, not that I’m overly happy with the result.  Blah.

People come to see the horse I am trying to sell.  The normally calm, docile horse.  Who turned into some kind of maniac today for unknown reasons.  Obviously I did not make the sale since I wouldn’t even allow the young lady to ride due to the horse acting like she’d rather join the rodeo than have a nice walk/jog around the arena like she normally does. This is the horse who just yesterday was behaving wonderfully for her ten year old rider.  Why? (Why am I starting to believe that the Universe wants ME to keep this horse?)  “Dear Universe, I really don’t want to keep her, really.  Please send her next owners my way, I know the right person is out there!”

My whole family has been feeling agitated today.  I feel stressed, the toddler has been way whiny and off,  Anson feels as I do, the preschooler has been whiny and oppositional (okay that’s most days, but still).  Not sure what is up, but omg it was even effecting the horse and ponies!

So, now that I have locked myself in my office to vent to you all (or myself if no one reads my blog lol) I’ll move on to my point.

Today was not such a great day in my life.  We get those sometimes right?  I mean, okay so I had a kinda bad day, I’m feeling whiny and stressed and just overwhelmed with life in general.

But…..

I had today.  I have a life, a very beatiful one in fact.  And I love it very, very much.

And tomorrow I get a new today, that I can do anything I want with.  And I’m going to choose to be happy. 

Because even on our not so good days, or even our really, really horrible days, we always have a choice. 

Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.  I can choose which it shall be.  Yesterday is dead, tomorrow has not arrived yet.  I have only one day, today, and I am going to be happy in it.”

Groucho Marx

I first saw that quote while I was house/horse sitting years ago.  I was eighteen and about four months pregnant with my first child.  The woman I was house sitting for had it posted on her fridge,  and I hastily scribbled it down in my diary/book of quotes/crazy embarrasssing ratty old book I can’t believe I haven’t burned yet.  It came to be something I thought of quite often, and have never forgotten during the rough times in my life.

And it’s so true. 

Stuff doesn’t happen to us.  It happens for us.

On Getting Back Up….. November 15, 2011

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Both Sayward and myself have had the experience of being bucked off a pony in the past couple of weeks.

Yes, we need to find and solve the issue of what is bothering our normally friendly dude, but that isn’t my focus here.

My focus is when you fall, ya need to get back up folks!

This can apply to pretty much any experience in life, but for now I will stick with the horseback riding example.

I’ve ridden plenty of horses in my time, and I have also taken plenty of falls.  More than I care to admit, actually.

And I fully accept that it is part of the game.

High risk sport?  Yes.

Can it be done safely? Yes

Are emergency dismounts a wonderful skill to possess?  Yes

Is it worth getting upset about? No

Since I started riding again after a decade off, I’ve been kinda nervous.  And I’m sure my equine friends can sense that.  But my dear friend Spanky reminded me of something.

Falling off isn’t a big deal.  (Providing you aren’t hurt, of course!)

And it looks a lot scarier to those watching than it is for the one doing it.

Sure, falls can injure you at times.  Thus far I have never been seriously injured falling off of a horse.  (Knock on wood)

The point is, get up, dust the manure off your pants, (or spit the dirt out of your mouth in Sayward’s case)  and get back on.

 Just like a bike.

On Life….. November 12, 2011

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Yes, I am aware I have not posted since August 28th. Life happens.

For me, so much life was happening that I haven`t blogged. I haven`t crafted. I have been doing less, but doing better. Spending more time in conversation with my children, spending more time cooking and baking. Less time being stressed. More time being happy. Simply living moment to moment, and loving so very many moments of it all.

Life is all about the ebb and flow.

Some moments we have daylight. Some moments we have night.
Some moments we have summer. Some moments we have winter.
Some moments we have beautiful weather. Some moments it storms.
Some moments we are youthful and in good health. Some moments we are aging or sick.
Some moments we are productive. Some moments we are still.
Some moments we laugh. Some moments we cry.
Some moments our needs are met. Some moments they may not be.
Some moments we feel complete. Some moments we feel loss deeply.
For some brief moments, we are alive here, just as we should be. And someday, each of our moments to leave will come.

Life is made up of moments, and each one happens as it should.

Just go with the flow…..

The world is still spinning in it`s perfect place in the universe, and I am still hanging out on it, in my perfect place in the universe.

We all are.

What a Vacation Consists of…… August 28, 2011

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Today I’m going enthral you all with a tale of just what exactly a “vacation” consits of in my world.

Are you ready for this?

In my world, a vacation consists of……

Over $260 dollars worth of (overly processed and therefore special and fun) food crammed into two vans and several coolers.  We buy ahead of time and take it with us because everything is way overpriced in the small local town to where we rent our cottage.

One princess sister.  Definately the highlight of the week.

Seven children.  Yes, seven.

One husband.  Who only stayed for one day.

Two parents who visited for a couple of hours each day.  As they ever so kindly put it, it was rather “lively” considering those seven children.  They can only handle so much.

One inch long sliver in the three year old’s foot.  Eeks.

One ten year old falling down the rocks and into the water due to a non-malicious shove from her brother.

One bruised hand on a very curious one and a half year old.

One goose egg on aforementioned three year old’s forehead.

More screaming than anyone would care to listen to from various sources throughout the week.

Constant narrative on how everyone is hungry.  All.the.time.

Boiling water to handwash dishes.  Blah.

Learning how to maintain a compostable toilet. Ahem. Fun.

Bathing small children in an inflatable boat filled with water.  Not overly effective.

A visit from a very special cousin.  Who was ever so entertaining, as usual.

An aromatic outhouse.

Three very friendly ducks that were fed too much bread.

Being witness to several arguments over My Little Ponies and Polly Pockets.  Why?

A conoe ride with two ten year olds, a three year old and a toddler (who only came along because he couldn’t stand the sight of me paddling away) on which we became stuck on a large rock.  While my Dad simply watched and laughed.  So helpful.

Tiger Tail icecream.  Only place I ever eat it.

Stunning views of the Moon River.

A soggy wild mushroom fight.

Blank stares.

Awesome evenings spent with my sister.  Who is ever so funny

It may not have been very relaxing……but it was an awesome time.

Try Something New…. August 14, 2011

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This summer I tried something completely new to me.  So new, in fact, that a few months ago I was appalled that this task was being asked of me, and did not believe I was up to the challenge.

This summer I coached a junior baseball team.  And it was freaking awesome.

This is how it all shook down.  We signed our eldest child up for ball just as we did the previous summer.  No biggie there, I could totally handle taking her to a couple of games a week and playing with the younger kids on the playground while she had her game.  Only her team didn’t have a coach.  So an old neighbor of ours who organizes much of the minor ball around here called Anson, asking him if he’d be able to coach.

He agreed.

Then told me about it.  I wasn’t overly impressed, as many of her games were going to be at six in the evening, and I knew he would not be able to be there on time.  I said as much, and wondered aloud how on earth I would be able to handle this task when A) I knew nothing, and i mean nothing, about the game, B) I have a really hard time with names and was honestly concerned about not remembering the kids names,  and C) I would have three non players with me, one of whom is a seriously needy and tantrum prone toddler.  Right.  Good times, I thought.

But it really was good times.  Excellent times, actually.  Coaching that team with my man this summer was a ton of fun, and we intend to do it again.  Really, with four kids who will likely all play, why not?

And I had those names down pat by the end of the first game, though there is still much for me to learn about the game and scorekeeping.

That all said, I learned a ton this summer.

I learned that……

When you don’t have enough members for a team because of kids who move away or quit the team early in the season, and you aren’t able to get help from the organizers of the teams, step up and do something about it.  The kids don’t want to forfeit, so better find yourself some new team mates, coach.  I did, (ten minutes before a game I might add) in the form of a friend of ours who had missed sign up, and our younger daughter, who wasn’t overly happy about joining in the beginning, but went on to have a great season.

Most of the young ladies on our team like the smell of gasoline. (Random tidbit of info given to me one evening by our youngest member, quickly agreed upon by many others.)  So do I.  And yes, we talked about the fact that we still shouldn’t sniff it.

The amount of skill a child can gain in a season is amazing.  I was so impressed.

Playing a team sport is so not about winning.  But it still feels awesome watching it happen for them.

Coaching your kids team makes you really, super cool in their friends eyes, and as a bonus, watching their friends win their championship game made a couple of young friends of ours decide to join up next year.  Whoohoo Owen and Talia!

Watching your daughter hit her first home run at the championship game rocks.  She was so proud of herself!  Watching her do it again during the next inning was just crazy.  She definitely played her personal best.

Some teeny tiny players think it’s super funny to tease their coach by pretending they are going to hit her in the legs while practicing swinging.  Stinker.

Enlisting the help of Grandma’s is a lifesaver.  Both for help with aforementioned high maintenance toddler, and with coaching.

Having another parent assist is necessary.  I so could not have managed without the help of another Dad out there.

It’s very hard to scorekeep with several young people talking to you.

There are a lot of rules to this game.  A lot.  I still don’t know them all, but plan to learn.

Kids talk a lot.  That’s okay, so do I.

Kids are awesome.  I’ve always known this about my own kids, but everyone else’s kids are awesome too.

I’m sad the season is over.  Not so much because I’m going to miss the games, fun as they were, but because I’m going to miss the kids.  We had a seriously awesome group of young people on our team this season, and I’m going to miss seeing them each week.

Cheers, Green Eagles.  It was great learning with you guys, you totally rocked my summer.

The Big Picture….. July 28, 2011

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So here’s the deal.  When I went into this challenge, I didn’t take into account something.  That something?  The fact that we are here to have fun.  It’s the whole point of life.  Living in the moment.  And to some people, a big part of enjoying your moments is feeling good in your own skin.  Representing your SELF with your style.  I hadn’t taken that into consideration when I put restrictions on our shopping.  I had thought that we could buy new(to us) clothes at value village and such, but hadn’t really given a thought to things like undergarments, accessories and bathing suits. I had hoped the need for these things wouldn’t come up during the year, but let’s be honest, there are six of us in this family.

I guess I wasn’t really looking at the big picture. 

The big picture being this.  I am a twenty nine year old woman, who recently remembered what it is like to get dressed with more in mind than how easy an outfit is to nurse in discreetly.  I remembered what it is like to dress in certain things because they make me feel good about ME.  And I realized, however belatedly, that I am raising two young ladies who also care a great deal about how they represent themselves, and each have their own totally individual style.  Upon realizing this, I promised them I would assist them in vamping up their “looks.”

As a side note, I also realized that I NEED a new bathing suit.  As my old one has completely stopped being stretchy.  Makes for opportunity for embarrassment there, don’t you think?

So, we are going shopping.  Some of the items we buy will not be second hand, as I refuse to buy a bathing suit or undies second hand.  I’m just not that hardcore.  Of course we will be hitting up value village as well…..but you get the picture.  I’m a big fat failure at my own freaking challenge.  Meh.

So while maybe I haven’t lived up to my own expectations, I have learned something at this half way mark in the year.

Things aren’t as black and white as we think they are.  Whatever your cause is, there is always a grey area.  For me this grey area comes in realizing that while I want to walk as gently upon our beautiful planet as I possibly can, I also am here to live in the moment and enjoy life.  And sometimes enjoyment is found in painting your toenails bright purple, dying your hair,  buying a new bra, or enjoying a fabulous cup of coffee.

I could potentially live my entire life attempting to cause absolutely no harm to our home planet and it’s inhabitants, while also feeling quite deprived of some of the niceties this age on our earth has to offer.  And while there are many niceties I have no interest in, there are some I would very much miss.

Or I can do this.  I can live in a way that is comfortable to me, being conscious of my choices at all times, even if i acknowledge that some of those choices are less than ideal.  If all of us made this small effort, the effort to boycott those things we don’t support, and pick and choose the things we do, it will have far more of an impact than one persons individual, though very admirable effort of a lifetime ever could.

So, are you with me?  I still plan on my “challenge” being with me every day, every purchase I make.  But I am, at times, going to cheat, or modify the rules, to suit my family and situation.

Yup, that’s me.  Total rule breaker.  Such a rebel…..