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Monday, May 11, 2015

reflections on our year of homeschooling








I wanted to take a moment and reflect on our journey in homeschooling this past year. It most certainly was a challenging and rewarding experience for us all, and although I had my moments, I am glad that we stuck it out (as much as we did).
It was last summer that Winslow and I decided that we would like to supplement Noah and provide Katia with some homeschooling. Noah attended the local school in our community, but the kindergartners only attend for half days. We felt that he would need some structured learning time in the mornings, and that Katia would benefit from it too, as there are no pre-school programs here in our isolated community.
Last summer, I did some pre-planning, and decided on units that we would do together. I made a list of subjects and found that more or less, this was a good way for me to stay on task. Some of the units were: Owls, Fall, Apples, Hibernation, Christmas, Friends. It was easy for me to plan around these themes. I used Pinterest for a lot of my craft and books ideas, as well as, games and worksheet ideas.
Some ongoing activities that we incorporated into our days were: nature walks, baking and cooking, sensory play, quiet reading.
Some reflections on the year. 
I am proud of what we accomplished and how we found a natural rhythm to our learning time together. I have some very special memories tucked away in my heart, of moments where we were cozy in our home, learning together and being creative.
Some of my favourite memories were the puppet shows that Noah and Katia reenacted, the many crafts that we made together, building our nature table collection, writing letters to family faraway,  witnessing Noah learn to read, sound out words and spell, and spending quality time together.
While homeschooling worked for the children, and I do believe they gained from the experience, on a personal level, there were some challenges that were really hard for me to overcome. While the children loved homeschooling for the majority of the time, I'll be honest, there were days (weeks actually) that I did not enjoy it. With a combination of feeling extremely isolated out here in Beaver Creek, feeling lonely, and stir crazy, there were moments where the thought of getting through a morning of activities, crafts, lessons just made my skin crawl. It was not a good feeling for me, and I knew that this would be felt by the children too. I also suffer from mild to moderate seasonal depression, and so the winter months were really hard for me to get through. Although we still could have continued with homeschooling until June, I decided that in April, we would finish up the year. It was the best decision for myself at the time, and I knew that the children would benefit from the break too. They deserved a more relaxed and even tempered mom, not a stressed out and unhappy teacher.
If there is one thing that I learned this year, it is that as the teacher, it is so important to take care of yourself. I am no use to anyone else, if I am unhappy and not at my best. Our circumstances were hard here. There were things that I simply had no control over (lack of friends, being so far from a major town, lack or resources). There were many nights that I stayed up, lesson planning for the next day, and also taking care of household duties. I think it's so important to find balance and time for self. If I am to ever do this again, I know that I will need to have a better balance and be in a place where we have access to more resources.
So, the big questions of the day.
Will we homeschool next year? 
Next year, we plan to have the children in public school (Noah) and a preschool program (Katia). I think we all need to experience what a larger community and public school can offer our family, and I think both of the children will benefit from the social aspects of being around more of their peers. I also need a break, and that is ok to say.
Will we ever do it again? Never say never, is my motto. I still do believe in the amazing benefits of homeschooling. It is a sure way to cater your child's education to their interests and strengths. You can tailor their units, go out on field trips (if you live somewhere that is not isolated), and have hands on learning. It has amazing potential, and if we ever find ourselves in the position where we need to rely on the option of homeschooling, I know we can do it.
Final thoughts. 
While we may not be continuing with our homeschool journey next year, I like to think, that we laid down a strong foundation of loving to learn together, and we will always continue with that love, desire and excitement about learning. Next year will see us in a new province, a new town/community and we will have all kinds of wonderful places to visit and things to do. I am excited that we will continue to learn together on our evenings, weekends and days off from school (I bet I will even pull Noah from time to tie, just so we can go off on a field trip or two) .
This past year we learned about taking the opportunities that present themselves and learning from them. We learned that it is important to carve out time for family and getting outside. Most importantly, I think, we discovered that when we allow our interests to lead the way, that the learning aspect just falls naturally, and that my friends is a beautiful thing to witness.
Thanks so much for joining us this past year on our homeschool journey. It's been quite the ride!
Looking forward to the next chapter!
xox



Leaving you with some pictures from a recent Story and Art lesson that we did. I think this is where my next teaching journey will take me. I love excellent children's stories with beautiful illustrations and I love bringing a story to life by including a special art project.
Here we read The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, and then we did a large mixed media painting that included stamping. The kids loved it! You could also show the kids this video (which we love) at the end of the project.



Saturday, May 2, 2015

moving on








Hello there. Yes, it's been a few weeks since I've popped in.
Maybe it's my state of mind, maybe it's all the changes that are about to happen, but lately I've been feeling like I am living outside of my own life. We are here, still living in Beaver Creek, but my mind and heart are in another space. Floating, drifting, waiting.
A while ago, I mentioned that we knew where we were being posted to, and now I can say with all certainty, we are moving to the Wolfvillle, Nova Scotia area. Famous for their Apple Festivals, views of the Bay of Fundy, Acadia University, wine vineyards, rolling hills and farmer's markets. Yes, I do believe we will love this new home of ours, we just need to get there and settle first.
In the next two months, our lives will be a whirlwind. A visit from Winslow's family (here in the Yukon), a house hunting trip to our new stomping grounds, a house that we are in the midst of selling, a cross country drive (with 2 kids, a dog and a trailer). I'm exhausted just thinking of it. I know this is going to be good, but how we will do it all, well that is what I am asking myself.
I keep reminding myself that this is right for us and that we are very fortunate to be moving to this part of the country. It is that hope and anticipation that keeps us going.
More recently, while on a trip into Whitehorse for a few reasons (photography work, landlord stuff, groceries), I ended up in emerg at the hospital for a health scare. After 3 hours of blood work and examinations, I was cleared to go home, and felt much relief.
But still, I couldn't help but feel so tired and bitter about our current living situation.
I was tired of having to do things, like face health scares without my other half being there with me. I was frustrated that after feeling so sick and so crappy, that I still had to do a massive grocery shop, carry it out to the truck, load it up and drive home for 5 hrs. I was yet again, resentful that we are one of the very few communities in the Yukon that don't have a grocery store, meaning that no, I couldn't pick up a few things at the local shop.   *I know our time is almost done, and I know there is much worse suffering out there. I just needed to get these things out in the open. 
Thankfully, upon returning home, I was welcomed by my two beautiful babies, my overly ecstatic dog and my super supportive and patient husband. I know I have it good, this I know and will never take for granted. I just need to remind myself that our prize is almost ours, that we almost there.
And so, there you have it. Our life at the moment. Slightly overwhelming, very exciting and yes... tiring too.
xox

ps. Photos taken at Swan Haven, on Marsh Lake about 40 km from Whitehorse. We went to see the swans and to have a tour at the interpretive center.


beautiful grizzly, too bad there's garbage behind him :( 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

life lately











Lately my days have been full of mini highs and lows. We are all just moving along in life, yet, I have an impatience that is taking up space in my mind.
Short words, feeling overwhelmed, worried. These are all  feelings that happen from time to time, especially when we go through big life changes ... like oh say, selling a house and an impending move across the country.
Our house in Whitehorse is on the market. I never knew that trying to sell a home could be so stressful. We are eager to have a quick sale, so that we can move forward with our transfer this summer. All the gurus say, to think positive, so that is what we are going to do! Sell house, sell!
But amongst the hard moments, there have been calm and reassuring ones too. Like saying I'm sorry, that's so important. Like cuddling in the afternoon (just Katia and I). Like open doors letting fresh Spring air in the house. Like forgiveness, understanding and grace.
...

Easter came to our home last weekend, and it was a weekend full of excitement and joy for Noah and Katia. We attended the tiny Catholic church here for a short service (the priest comes about 2 times a year to give the service), and then we for the rest of the weekend we crafted, baked and ate delicious food. We went for walks, played outside and the kids played with their new gifts that they received on Easter morning.
Over our time here in Beaver Creek, from the advice of friends, I have always looked forward to the next trip out or the next set of visitors coming to see us. This is the way that I've kept myself sane. To have something to look forward to makes the harder days go by more quickly.
In the next few weeks we have a school trip planned for Whitehorse and then at the end of May, Winslow's parents will be coming to the Yukon to visit us. For the first time in the 5 years that we've lived here! We're pretty excited.
And finally, a little something I made this week, a wire wrapped bird's nest pendant.
I have been especially drawn to bird's nests for a few years now (spoiler alert- this is going to be my next tattoo), and I has seen these nests before on Etsy and such.
A little unknown fact (for some) might be, that I worked at a bead store in Ottawa for years (highschool and after graduation), where we learned all kinds of neat jewelry making techniques. We would even make bridal jewelry. It was a really fun job. Anyways, I say that because, I still have some beading supplies that I hardly use and one day, I decided to whip one of these nests up.
I am so pleased with the results that I decided to buy some more wire and beads, and plan on making more for my close friends. It makes my heart happy to be making things once again.
And that is all for now. Happy Spring days my friends. I hope that the sun and warmer weather is making it's way to you, and breathing a feeling of renewal into your days.
xox


Saturday, April 4, 2015

celebrating easter






our little patch of grass (wheat grass) 




Happy Easter.
There have been many questions asked over the past few days in this house about Easter, holidays, and celebrations. To be honest, I'm not sure what to say.
In our home, we acknowledge and follow a pretty simple practice of Christianity. We used to attend church when we lived in Whitehorse, and will continue to go to church when we move to our next posting. I think that it's valuable to give children, the knowledge and understanding of spirituality, however one chooses to do so. My spirituality (with all it's ups and downs) has helped me over the years, and I would like to think that it will be a comfort for my children as they grow up.
Then we have the time old Easter Bunny issue. In all honesty, I am not sure if I feel comfortable with mixing the Easter Bunny with the Easter Story together. One is materialistic: about treats and novelties, while the other is the most important grounding story in Christianity. How do they come together?
In our home, the Easter Bunny comes, but I feel like it would be more appropriate to name him the Spring Bunny. I have no issue with a little bit of magic and surprise, and I like celebrating the changing of seasons, I think it is a grounding ritual for children (and adults too). So we will do the Easter Bunny and egg hunt, but I like to make sure that the children understand what the real meaning of Easter is. Or at least understand it to the extent of what they can.
So there you have it. Easter celebrations and Spring celebrations. Childhood magic, and the mystery of the Easter Story. I am happy with our interpretation of it all.
xox


Friday, April 3, 2015

widdershins















Last weekend, I had the lovely opportunity to escape to Whitehorse (on my own) and partake in a very unique and intimate art show. It was so good for my soul.
A few months ago, Leanne, dreamed up the idea of doing a Springtime arts show in her home, where  a number of artists would set up their creations for display and sale. We had done something similar back in 2010, and 5 years later, we did it again.
She named the show Widdershins, which means:  to go counter-clockwise, to go anti-clockwise, or to go lefthandwise, or to walk around an object by always keeping it on the left. i.e. literally, it means to take a course opposite the apparent motion of the sun viewed from the Arctic Circle. Leanne asked all of the artists to challenge themselves and try something out of their normal comfort zone, an action that was fitting with the name of the show. 
For me, it had been such a long time since I had made much of anything, let alone paint, so much of what I made was new to me. Some of my work included painted signs, that I did on reclaimed wood. I had been inspired by many signs that I saw in Hawaiian gift shops (signs that were mass produced). I liked those signs, but wanted to make my own that were one of a kind and with favourite quotes. I also made picture/card holders out of birch wood and wire. These were fun to make and look so pretty with a post card or photo displayed in it.
A few of the other items that I made were recycled paper postcards, with my images and words put together. These images and words are meant to serve as mantras or simple meditations. Something to display and look at, that hopefully brings a bit of peace and pause to one's day. 
All in all, I am so happy that I was asked to participate in this wonderful show. It helped me to become motivated to make once again, and to spend my time doing something that is productive and meaningful to me.
I do have some left overs from this show and can also do custom orders for anyone interested.
xox 





Wednesday, March 25, 2015

presently
























Right now, at this moment in time, I am full of optimism, peace and joy. It's a true gift, these feelings, and I am taking the opportunities to recognize and to be grateful for them.
We were given the news a few weeks ago about our impending transfer, which will take place this summer. Because the details are not 100% finalized, I am not going to disclose too much information just yet, but needless to say, I am excited and optimistic about the prospects. I will say this, it is where we had hoped and asked to go.
While the thought of new adventures, new beginnings and a fresh start in a new part of the country feels so good for my soul, I am also feeling deeply grounded in the present moment. Perhaps it is because I know that our life here in Beaver Creek, will soon be a memory, but at this moment, I am trying to really savour the moments and time that we have.
Today we spent a beautiful, glorious, warm and sunny day, out at Pickhandle Lake. With Noah's class, we attended the annual Muskrat Camp, where the local First Nations trap muskrat (for food and fur). Today there were no muskrat, but there was community, crafting, eating, laughing and plenty of fresh air. It was lovely.
It is memories like today, that make me want to take it all in. It's hitting me, that our time here in the Yukon is coming to an end, and if I actually stop to think about it, I feel a pain in my chest. The memories start flooding in. From our first year here in the Yukon, to the lonely and profound moments in this isolated community of ours, so much has happened over these past 5 years, and I have learned and have grown oh so much.  I want to remember this, to engrave it in my memory.
And so with these mixed emotions, I go on about my days. Some days, I am floating along, day dreaming about a new house (and what type of garden I will have). Other days, I am snapping photos and really am trying to be present, trying to archive my life here in Beaver Creek into my memory.

...

And finally, things that are making me happy:

~ the simplicity of banana chocolate chip muffins
~ a little boy who is beyond thrilled with himself for learning to sew!
~ yoga, with a dog at my feet
~ hot baths, chai tea, and an old back copy of my favourite magazine.
~ the smell of Burt's Bees baby bubble bath. I bought myself a bottle of it... for me!
~ painting, it feels so nice to pick up my brush and work on my latest projects.

xox