Self-led learning and making molecules

Self-led learning. More fun and more facts that stick to the noggin.

Even though our homeschool year hasn’t officially begun (we are in Canada where ‘school’ doesn’t start until next month) learning is always happening no matter the time of year.

I have learned through the years that workbook learning and following a traditional school schedule does not entirely work for us. It’s drudgingly boring in our home and not much learning really happens. Some learning, yes, but not that kind that sticks.

Oftentimes when we make our trips to the library we end up taking home more books than planned. This time, my oldest grabbed The Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks, from a display table. It’s formatted much like a graphic novel which I am sure means, for our graphic novel loving family, a more interesting read.

Human Body Theater book

Human Body Theater book

L has taken an interest in biology and graphic-novel-style books have certainly helped. What’s more fun than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich describing to you its travels through the digestive system?

We stayed up for an extra half hour at bedtime talking excitedly about all of the wonderful facts about the human body. I couldn’t believe how much he remembered and he hadn’t even finished the book!

I love biology and had thought seriously about going into medicine so having a child who is as excited as I am about this kind of stuff was just too much to wait until tomorrow to talk about. 🙂

X is now in the process of reading the book and enjoying it just as much.

L is our ‘Finder’.

To explain, whenever we are in a store searching for a specific product or looking for a solution to our quandry, L is almost always the one to find what we are looking for. I call him my ‘Finder’. X, on the other hand, has total parking mojo and often when we need a parking spot in the city we find one just vacated with time still on the meter.

I had been searching for some time for a good molecule building set for the boys. There were many online but either didn’t show exactly what the contents were or were just too pricey for our budget. Not long after the search had begun, L spotted at our local second-hand store just the kind of molecule building set we were after. That’s my Finder!

Today he built the molecular structure of glucose after easily naming it off to me the other night. He’s got a knack for numbers too. They both do, just like their math-loving father. 🙂

IMG_3426 IMG_3428

I have since had the request to put Primates, another of Maris Wiley’s books, on hold at the library.

I have to say that these boys retain information that is of interest to them far more easily than things that are not of interest. This is true for so many of us, of course. It pertains to homeschooling and self-led learning too. The boys are reading and making and creating on their own all of the time.

And for that, they love to learn.

And I love that they love to learn.

My heart smiles and I feel like a good mama.

And I am so happy to have a Finder and a Parking Mojo dude in my family.


The winter brings snow play, baking and other making

bread gingerbread house salve salvessnowfall l cave x cave boys cave x weeving india

The new year has brought bread making with sprouted flour (a real hit in our home!), a gingerbread house completely made from scratch being finally finished *yay! and yum!*, and finishing up of the healing salve (and giving some away :)).

Snowfalls of late gave way to sledding and cave digging where the workout required kept them warm outside in frigid and windy temperatures!

Handiwork and project making led to quiet, focused time. I love the ‘non-sound’ of it all.

It’s been a full few weeks of lovely, wonderfully, juuuuust right moments!



Hello! It’s been too long!

Yes, I see the last time I posted over here was in July. My goodness!

Truth is that I hate editing photos and I would rather being doing other things. But, one of the main reason I have this blog is for family that lives in other places and for us, as a keepsake. So today I grabbed some photos from the past month to show what we have been up to.

I have a bunch of photos to edit from our summer vacation but they are on my big camera (my real camera as I call it!) and it’s just a matter of sitting down and editing. It’s always hard when you try to edit your own pics and decide what to show when you want to show it all! Maybe later this week–it’s only been four months after all!

We got back into the swing of lessons and some winter prep with herbal concoctions. Plus I got some time to do a bit of other things with the boys and for myself.

There are a lot of photos:

Busy with herbs. Tis the season!prep fire cidreherb infusionssmudgeLove our sunsets!sunset at Shubie Happy!boys jump shubieThe season for knitting!yarnyoga socksWe have spent many a day outside enjoying the fall weather.pixie cupsmushroomsmushroomred leafPretzel making!pretzel makingpretzelsThe Lunar Eclipse was a big deal for us. The boys stayed up late to watch. Totally worth it!
eclipsesclipse morningThe moon the morning after the eclipse.moon eclipes morningLessons!fortMore fun outside.bball stuckbballLove all of the colours!leavesTrying to catch the leaves as they fall.
catching leavesChipmunk!
chipmunkFeeding the chickadees is a favourite pastime of ours. It never gets old!feeding chickadeesWe love the hemlocks at our local park. So big and beautiful!path of trees hemlockWe went to a friend’s house and picked cranberries in her back yard! How cool is that! Thanks, Dawn! xxpicking cranberriescranberriesLove Dawn’s yard. There is always many a treasure to be found.salamanderMy bit of time to make some fun art. (more on my blog)my doodleart girlBirthday Lego making together. 🙂bday legoNew socks!pikachu socksMore outdoor fun!steve levitatingjumpHalloween fun!witchesSplatoon Inklings! I had to take a quick pic as they rushed from house to house!InklingsBrains!brainshalloween candy Who doesn’t love Pop Rocks?!pop rocksWeekday mornings. Someone always end up getting rolled up in the yoga mat – yoga sushi!xman sushilessonsMinecraft Lego table making!lego tableIt’s always a lot of fun outside. The boys loved raking the leaves and even went out to do it of their own accord. This may be why…it’s fun to bag them…or fun to play with the bag!leaf funThey also decided to whittle the hammers they made a while ago so that the handles were rounds and then filed smooth. Love this stuff.boys and wooden hammersWith all the leaves we collected I decided to frame them. I love how they look. framing leavesNighttimes consist of games of all kinds. 🙂scrabbleeye see youHome made bread. Oh man, that’s good.
challahEek! The Eyes of Cthulhu!chthulhuOne of our bridges is being completely redone without closing it down. Amazing, right? the big liftHe loves tamari almonds and loves making them almost as much!
tamari almond preptamari almondsThese are a couple of big camera pics – as in the real thing and not my phone. Love these guys.

06Nov2015_Boys and leaves_03 06Nov2015_Boys and leaves_17 06Nov2015_Boys and leaves_10Hope you’ve had just as wonderful a fall season as we have. Yesterday we got our first taste of snow. It was a quick one and nothing stayed on the ground but still exciting and beautiful.


A little science and some bowling

I love it when we can fit in a science experiment using everyday items. We do need to get to the hobby shop to buy some supplies but for now it’s nice to be able to make do with what we have. So yesterday we sliced ice. It was fun to watch the wire cut through the ice and then the ice patch itself back up once the wire had passed through. Love this stuff. I always wonder why I didn’t when I went to school, though…I get to relive it now!IMG_5654IMG_5653IMG_5660Just recently a Home school Tween group was started on FB and so every week or other week this is something planned like bowling or going to an indoor play place to meet and get some good fun physical activity going. Hopefully once the weather here is a bit friendlier we can start something outside too!  There is also going to be a regular meet-up to play Magic: The Gathering!

Today we went bowling and the boys had a great time!IMG_5671Spare!IMG_5675These fast moving kids are no match for my phone in a dark bowling alley! Why are they so dark, anyway. I felt blinded when we went outside! IMG_5677Good times!!IMG_5681

Hand made hand cream

Say that five times fast! 😉

I’ve been wanting to make hand cream for months and even had all of the ingredients. I just needed to do it. When I finally ran out of store-bought cream and the skin on my hands was like sandpaper, well, that was my motivation to get to it.

I used the recipe that’s been tagged for like forever it seems from Amanda Soule’s The Rhythm of Family Book. I do love her stuff and it calms me to read. I have to make some more felted bowls too. There will always be something to put into felted bowls!

The boys used the marble mortar and pestle that I’d bought eons ago. It looks so pretty sitting there on the shelf above the sink, hanging out with the wine and saké glasses. This is the lavender being bruised and wafting its scent so wonderfully throughout the kitchen.

23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_01 23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_04I showed the boys how to zero out the scale and then measure the ingredients.23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_05 23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_06Xman helped me grate the beeswax. I tried cutting it first but I don’t have a great history with knives and cutting only the things that need cutting, if you know what I mean. I find grating beeswax fairly laborious as far as ingredients go but Xman was determined to do it so I held my hands on the lower end, his on top of the block as we grated. No skin lost. Whew.23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_07Lavender buds steeping like tea.23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_09Melting, melting.
26Feb2015_Making-Hand-Cream_10We ended up with a lot of hand cream. Gotta say the oil mixed rather easily with the water (lavender) even with my cheaply purchased hand mixer. The motor did get a wee bit hot at the end.23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_12I think I am going to have to buy more containers!
23Feb2015_Making Hand Cream_11The cream is wonderful and my hands are happy again! Take that, Winter!

Snow day!

It was so good to get outside yesterday and with good friends! We tried a new-to-all-of-us trail. The day was ‘mild’, coming in around -6C – add on windchill but we didn’t really feel it being in the trees. It was fresh and clear. The sky was blue. The kids ran around on the trail and slid on the snow. Xman and I made animal prints and looked for the real ones. We saw an eagle that L spotted which is always so amazing to me. I feel so, so blessed when I see one. We also saw another bird of prey, perhaps an osprey but not sure, followed by a crow. We spotted a beautiful robin all tuffed out, seeming to show of his wonderful red belly. (he was too far away for me to take a pic with my phone. should have brought my actual camera but I wanted to pack light). And F heard the tap tap tap of a woodpecker, once spotted, to be a Downy.


Our hand-made tracks.hand-made-tracksReal tracks. I love them!


Poor dude was so tired by this time, the bundling of clothing is not his favourite feeling. But making animal tracks, finding the real ones, and sliding certainly lifted his spirit. 🙂Xman-and-sunsteam-and-sun

Today, as the snow comes down in droves, it makes me want to relax my shoulders and grab a book, a blanket, and my knitting with my new Furls bowl (eek! love!) and my art. Yes, even on these snow days when I feel I can let things go a bit I still want to create create create! I will throw some yoga in there to balance it all out!


We may watch some videos today on the history of Canada to go along with our studies. But, I think for the most part it will be a Minecraft day and Erector set day (thanks for the goodies, Dawn and kids!) for the boys. I may just be persuaded to play a little MC too. Gotta say I do love it!

I may even get out my macro and take some snowflake pictures! Gee, this day must have more than 24 hours for what I want to fit in. Oh, I do have clothing to fix too… I’m so deluded! 😉


Kiwi Crate fun

This morning was full of excitement as the boys opened their first Tinker Crate by Kiwi Crate. I cannot even recall how I heard about these cool kits but shortly before I ordered this one a friend had just received their first box and their daughter loved it. So we took a chance.

I ordered the Tinker Crate for ages 9-12. One for both boys. They shared well as they took turns putting together the kit with the directions.

They got to make a Zoetrope and isn’t that the coolest first project!! We’ve been wanting to make one but just haven’t gotten around to it so this was certainly a treat.

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_01The kit comes with everything you need to make it, except scissors. So it’s perfect.

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_02There are marbles that go below the base of the zoetrope to help it glide along smoothly.

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_03The kit even comes with pictures to place in the film holder and they are numbered on the back to make sure they go in in the right order. It also comes with three blank sheets for making your own!

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_05We had to show a couple of videos just for fun. The kit also notes some tips such as shining a light on the zoetrope as you spin it so that you can see the moving image better. It helped with the videos too.

Xman read through the whole Tinkerzine, a magazine that comes with the kit which explains the history of animation from the Lumber brothers to Edison. He was completely enthralled.

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_06 03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_04L loved putting together the kit but once he’d played with it a few times he was itching to go outside and dig a tunnel through the big pile of ice and snow that came down yesterday. I can’t blame him. Super fun childhood memories for me!

Eventually we got to our lessons and the boys were the first to use my new yarn bowl. It arrived yesterday with the Kiwi Crate and they were excited to try it out. Is it awesome and on sale and the shipping is very reasonable. It is an early birthday gift from my husband. 🙂

You should get one. 😉

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_09

L making his hat.03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_08 03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_07X making a scarf.

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_11

L really wanted to go back outside and dig and Xman joined him with a ladle and a pie cutter to help cut through the ice which worked quite well. The ladle got bent a bit but all in fun, I say. The boys stayed outside in -11C plus windchill for over an hour and came in tired and sweaty. Time for a snack and warm chocolate mylk!

There was just a bit of ice on the windows this morning…

03Feb2015Zoetrope & Snow_10

Luckily, not all of the windows got the freezing rain on them. I was able to take a picture of the boys having a great time clearing away the frozen snow from the back door. Thank you, boys! 🙂

03Feb2015_Zoetrope & Snow_12





Today we celebrate Brigid, the goddess of water and fire. It is now about halfway between winter and spring and as the sun is in our skies longer we start to notice the days are longer.

As part of our lessons today, we talked about Brigid (Saint Brigid is her Christian name) and read a story from Circle Round and then made Brigit soup and goldfish crackers. L decided to call the soup Fire Soup as the ingredients are like the colours of the sun and Brigid is the goddess of fire. The crackers, since I didn’t have fish cookie cutters and simply scored them into squares – someone should really make tessellated cookie cutters by the way – are now called Fire Crackers. Cool, right?

…and it was all sooo good!



Looking back…a week of images.

I find lately that I just don’t have the time or organization skills (but I am working on it!) to post more times through the week. I hate editing photos so I procrastinate. I mostly just use my iPhone now because after years and years of editing thousands of wedding photos I find it so much easier. So for today I decided to do one post for what we did this past week. This is the Xman burrito. It happens often during our morning yoga circle time. The boys get hot and take off their pj tops and end up rolling themselves up in their mat. I think this is more along the lines of Xman sushi but that’s probably because I would choose sushi over a burrito. 😉 Xman-burrito L’s list of what set Lego should manufacture. I think Lego How to Train Your Dragon would be pretty cool. And the astronomy. Totally. And the Wings of Fire is a series of novels on dragons so that’s just cool anyway. Oh, and Norse Mythology would be super neat – not just the mini figures but entire worlds with Yggdrasil and the nine worlds. Lego-wish-sets   We attended a program at the local history museum on water. This globe is the coolest thing and there are only two in Canada. It projects different images onto the world from four separate projects to create one full image showing water currents, global temperatures, major natural disasters over the years and so much more.   Globe The kids visited different animal stations such as garter snakes, bullfrog and bees and find out how the animals use water.   You just cannot have a natural history museum without the bees! The bees nest inside in this structure all year round and have a tube attached to the outside of the building. Look at all those bee bums busy busy busy! Bee-bums Bee-Life-CycleThe bees don’t live as long in the cooler weather, usually about a month on average and as they die the other bees deposit them in the tube leading outside. Once there is a pile-up the dead bees are taken out of the tube and dropped onto the ground. Kind of like taking out the garbage in winter. No one really wants to do it! Dead-Bees Once at home the boys chilled with some of their favourite books. Xman is a big fan of the Hilda series. Well, he is the biggest fan of them as we all like them. Hilda And then there is the Calvin and Hobbes anthologies Book 1 & 2. I couldn’t believe how big they were when they came in for us at the library! L is already finished the first book. So happy that the boys love Calvin. 🙂

Calvin-&-HobbesI hope you all had a good week! Feel free to share and/or attach a link!

Happy weekending!


A busy but good day

Yesterday was a darn cold day. We didn’t go out for the trail walk as planned due to the road conditions outside of the city. We did, however, go to Chapters so that the boys could use some of their holiday money to buy more Lego, Minecraft Lego. But, we had to finish our lessons first and I have to say, it was smooth going!

I happily wore the hat that I just finished knitting the night before. So warm. Love it!


Our lessons include handwork. X is knitting a scarf on needles and L is using one of the loom kits. He is so adept at it. If I can get him to do even 15 minutes a day he will have it finished in no time!

L hat

Xman and I did some time-telling practice with this fun little book I picked up a while ago. The pages are magnetic as are the little pieces so it’s quite fun! Xman is pretty good with telling time but when it comes to analog without the numbers it takes a bit of practice.

clock clock practiceI took some time during their copy work to prepare some kale chips – so good!


And these cookies…oh my goodness you just have to try them – so many good things to be found.

Pixie cookies

Lessons done and off we go to get the Lego. I have to say, Minecraft and Lego really is the perfect combination…

l lego X lego

While the boys Lego’d it up I took a bit of time to check out these new arrivals and put that Dreamscapes book to good use right away!


*if you do get the pattern for the hat here are a couple of corrections:

Row 17: *k5, p6, k5, p1* to end
Row 18: *k3, p10, k3, p1* to end