An Autumn Bounty

We had a bit of a bountiful surprise this afternoon...or this morning...not sure when since everything was left outside of the gate and we didn't notice it until this afternoon.

Five banana boxes of corn on the cob...

Five 10-gallon pails of carrots...

Three 10-gallon pails of potatoes...

Four large boxes of beets...

Four large boxes of turnips rutabagas...

Two very large boxes of tomatoes...

Two large boxes of onions...

There were also several very large zucchini as well as several assorted squashs...squashes???  (How do you pluralize squash?  Do you even pluralize squash???  My little grammar professor is outside playing and not here for me to ask...)

So this afternoon Squirt and I have been shucking dirt off of the beets, turnips rutabagas and potatoes.  We've been cleaning onions and removing the greens.  Sorting tomatoes - there were already several ripe and ready in the box so we're going to have sliced tomatoes on toast for lunch tomorrow.

I have blanched the beets to make for easy skin removal and chopped them up and tossed the bags into the freezer...As I've done with the turnips rutabagas (I didn't bother cooking either the turnips rutabagas or beets since I usually toss them into soups or stews anyways).  The corn has been placed into bags and frozen.  The carrots and potatoes and onions are going to be moved to the basement for now and once the weather cools we'll be taking them to the garage for winter storage as the basement is warmer than the garage in the winter - but right now the garage is much warmer than the basement.

My hands are purple, green and black with dirt and have little cuts all over from the husking process (and a slice from when I was peeling the turnips rutabagas- I forgot how hard those babies are!!!)  My hands hurt from all the husking, peeling and cutting and are a little stiff now.  So much for crocheting this evening while I watch television.

Tomorrow I am going to cut up the zucchini and shred it up for baking over the winter.  Nothing makes a cake as moist as a cup or two of shredded zucchini.  It's also handy for tossing into soups and stir-fries even from the frozen state.

As for the other squash...I'm going to have to do some research and figure out exactly what they are before I will know what to do with them - cooking and storage wise.  I am pretty sure a couple of them are spaghetti squash but not sure about the others.

I don't know who dropped all this wonderful stuff off but I have to say...

Thank you.  Your generosity is more than appreciated. 

It wasn't what I had planned for the day but Squirt learned a few things...Such as painting with beet juice...all over the sidewalk...and we're hoping it does eventually rinse away since he also painted on the front door with it before I noticed what he was up to.

He learned about harvest and storage of food first hand rather than sitting at the table looking at books...

And while this was going on, someone was combining the field behind our house and we were outside shucking corn.

It was not only an Autumn Bounty for food...but an Autumn Bounty of learning just where food comes from.

And really, isn't that why we homeschool?

I Wasn't Going to Write About This But...

Dawn over here got me thinking about it with her post and reminded me of just how lucky we are living in Canada.

I have always appreciated the fact that we in Canada have universal health care...Just as I appreciate the fact that I live in the province that started the whole trend.  After my mother's lengthy fight against cancer, that appreciation was even more so due to the fact that we did not have to worry about health care costs while spending the last days with Mom.

But sometimes, you take those things for granted and tend to let the appreciation slide by the wayside and you have to be reminded about just how lucky you are - thanks Dawn for the reminder!!!

Yesterday, Squirt twisted his ankle.  It started to swell almost immediately and I was concerned that there was more damage than just a twisted ankle.  I called his doctor who said that he would likely just send him straight to the ER and the hospital for xrays anyways so he suggested we just head straight there.

Cost of the phone call to talk to the doctor about this matter?  Nothing.

So I loaded up Squirt and off to the hospital ER we went.  We were promptly met by a nurse at the door who immediately retrieved a wheelchair for me to place wimpering little man in.  Then she immediately wheeled him into an examination room.

Total time from door to examination room: possibly 2 minutes.

She called for the doctor and while we waited we began to fill out the necessary forms.  I was in the process of retrieving Squirt's Health Services Card from my purse when the doctor walked in.

Total wait for the doctor: 10 minutes at the most.

She examined his ankle and announced that she was pretty certain nothing was broken (which immediately calmed my crying child - bonus!!!) but she wanted to make sure there wasn't any hairline fractures so she called down to xray and asked if we could get him in there still.


No problem.

The nurse wheeled Squirt to the elevator and I followed along as the two of them chatted - about Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by the way - and she left us with our forms by the xray room.  It was a very short time later that a young gentleman came out, wheeled us into the room and proceeded to take xrays.

Total wait time from getting to the room until the technician started to take the xrays: 15 minutes maximum.

After that, we were wheeled back upstairs and I sat in the examine room again as we waited for the results.

Wait time: we might have waited 10 minutes tops.  I wasn't really keeping track by this time simply because Squirt was feeling much better and was complaining about having to wait "forever" and having forgotten his DS in the truck.  Yeah...Put on your big boy underwear and deal with it...such is life, dear child of mine...

The doctor came in, announced that there were no breaks, no fractures and proceeded to wrap his ankle in a tensor bandage.

Cost of bandage: nothing.  They felt sorry for me because I happened to have no money on me.  Usually it would cost $ 4.50 the receptionist winked when she told me.  (I am going to go back there and pay them for it...I just didn't have cash on my yesterday and Hubby needed my truck today as his employees had the van at another site...)

Total cost out of pocket for yesterday's adventure: 0...Zero...Zip...Nada...

Well, there was the $1 that I had to stick in the parking meter, which also happened to be all the money I had in my purse at the time - but we won't include that in health care costs.

And we got home before Hubby and we still had supper before 6 in the evening.

A Visit from Pepe Le Pew




Last night we let the dog out to do his business for the last time before locking doors and heading to bed.  What we got back was STINK!!!

Now, you have to understand, our yard is fenced.  And the fence is secure.  We used to have a very small dog that could squeeze through tiny openings so we went through the whole fence and closed off all openings bigger than 3"...Yes, the small dog could manage to squeeze himself through such small openings and be gone sometimes for days.

So, Sammy doesn't do that.  He never leaves the yard without us telling him to, such as getting into a vehicle when we are getting ready to head somewhere.  In fact, the gate has blown open and all Sammy does is sit at the edge of the fence and look out.  Even if a cat wanders by, he will stand there and bark but will not leave the yard.

Anyhoo, last night we let Sammy out.  As soon as I opened the door, I knew something was up.  Dogs all along the street were barking like mad.  But, it happens often.  There are vehicles that use the back alley to get into garages or driveways (not everyone on our street has front access to their homes via drive ways).  Five minutes after we let him out, we could hear Sammy barking like mad.  Hubby goes to the door and hollers for him to come in.

And no sooner was he called in and he was booted out again while we figured out what to do about the smell.  We were going to just let him sleep in the garage but then I stumbled upon a website that talked about how to get rid of skunk smell on pets.

Here's the recipe, should you ever need it...

1 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup baking soda
a good squirt of dish soap

You mix it up and use it right away.  This isn't something you can make ahead of time and store until needed according to the site...which of course I can't find again so I can't link you to it. 

So I mixed up a batch - used up all my peroxide AND baking soda in the process - and Hubby brought the dog in and placed him in the tub.  I handed him the solution and left them in the bathroom as the smell was just too strong for me (Sorry, Hubby.  There are just some things plumbers are better suited for and this is one of them!)

Use a rag dipped in the solution to do around the face and make sure to get the creature wet from head to toe with this stuff.  Allow it to sit on the animal for 5 minutes or so, then rinse well and shampoo with regular doggie shampoo with conditioner as the solution does dry out their skin.  We didn't have any doggie shampoo left (of course!) so Hubby just used my shampoo and then gave him a good dollop of my conditioner and rinsed him off.

He came out smelling nice. 

No more skunk smell on the dog.

Now, if only the lingering affects would leave the house we'd be good to go.

Somehow the smell is still lingering in the air here and I'm hoping that after spending the day with the windows open it will be gone.

As for the skunk...I was talking to a neighbour this morning about the skunk and she mentioned there had been one in the back alley last night annoying the dogs.  "Luckily none of mine got sprayed" she said...Yeah...But mine did.

So we know was in the back alley and sprayed him through the fence.

So for anyone keeping score...We have had moose, bear, rabbits and skunks wandering down our back alley and eagles, owls and geese flying overhead almost every day in the last 8 years.

Really, who needs to live in the wilderness when you get this living in the city?

Lessons from a Teacher on Social Skills

One of the nice things about homeschooling is the fact that during the day, Squirt and I get to do all kinds of things that regular classroom students don't have the opportunity to do.  We can go to the park and explore the trails.  We can go to the park and play on the swings virtually undisturbed by "the bullies" of the playground.  We can go for walks around our neighbourhood and examine every crack and crevice in the sidewalk and discuss how the freezing of moisture in the ground causes the pushing up of the ground which causes the cement and pavement to crack over the winter, leaving these cracks and crevices when the ground thaws again in the spring.

It was during one of these walks this week when we witnessed a fight on the school ground just as the students were being dismissed for lunch.  Once the fight had broken out and the kids all sent on their way - home or to the office - I happened to overhear the teachers talking...

"Why don't the parents teach these kids any social skills?" was the main question they were asking as they dusted off their hands. 

Then, one of the teachers noticed us and noticed that Squirt was not one of the students at the smallish school.

"Are you wanting to register him for school?" She asked.

Squirt said "No.  We homeschool.  We're out for a walk because it's a beautiful day."

The teacher looked at me and honestly, the first thing out of her mouth was "Aren't you worried about socialization?  How is he ever going to learn how to behave with other people if he doesn't attend school?"


Yeah, I was dumbfounded.  They had JUST broken up a fist fight between a 70 pound kid who was being beaten by TWO kids who were almost twice his size and I am supposed to be concerned about my son's LACK of socialization???

AND they had JUST said "Why aren't these parents teaching their children any social skills?" while I am doing exactly that by teaching my son that fighting is NOT something he does to fix a problem and I am supposed to be concerned that I am not teaching my son enough to "survive in the real world"?

I just looked at her and smiled and said "If the socialization you speak of is the fighting we just witnessed, then no, I am not concerned at all because in our house and in our yard, my son knows he is not going to be beaten up and bullied.  He knows it is safe to say what he wants, when he wants and to whom ever he wants because we discuss things.  He knows he does not have to raise his hand to use the bathroom and he knows he does not have to raise his hand to ask a question.  He can speak to an adult as easily as he can speak to a seven year old, and the topic is often the same."

"Yes, but there are skills children need to know that they can only learn from their peers" she tried to push.  "How is he going to learn how to play with children who are different than him?  After all, not all people in the world are white and middle class." 

She did say this with a sneer...and it made me want to laugh...

I am part Native.  And while we consider ourselves middle class, the Sask government has just informed us that we are low income.  Didn't know that, Mr. Wall...Thanks for telling us, Mr. Wall...

"He has peers," I answered.  "He plays regularly with the kids in the neighbourhood.  Not just for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon, but for 1-3 hours a day, sometimes longer if he wants and if the kids are able.  He plays with children who are white, who are brown, who are black and who are yellow.  He plays with children who are 4 and children who are 14.  He plays with children who are Christian, he plays with children who are Jehovah's Witnesses.  He has friends who are Jewish and friends who are being raised agnostic and those who are being raised athiest.  He has friends who have Down Syndrome and friends who walk with braces or are not able to walk at all.  He has a friend who is unable to see, and a friend who is hard of hearing.  And he has family members who are Mennonite, and family members who live on reserve.  And all of his friends and family he looks at as that...friends and family.  He does not look at them and sees white or brown, religious preference or abilities.  He just sees friends and family."

Of course, she started in on a rant about how I am the downfall of the education system because "people like me" think we can do better than the "trained professionals" ...

But it was Squirt who made her go quiet when he said...

"Mommy, were all teachers like this when you worked as a teacher?" 

(Yes, my son is a pro at the subtleties of language and he did put a little more emphasis on the fact that I was once a teacher!)

I just smiled and said "No, Squirt."  and we went along our little walk.

Hmmm...Maybe she was homeschooled and never learned the social skills she would have at public school...

Oh Me...Oh My...

I can't sleep.

I am going to blame Hubby.

Before heading off to bed himself at 9 pm, he said to me "Well, if we're going into the city on Saturday, I'll take you to the teaching store and you can pick up some things for homeschooling.  Will $300 be enough or do you want more?"

Is the man CRAZY???

For starters, I am quite happy with $300.

I am VERY HAPPY with $300.

BUT to go an add "or do you want more?" ???

The man either had way too much sun today (we've been on a hot streak here and tomorrow is going to be even hotter!) or he was into something he should NOT have been into!

But I am not going to complain.  It is just now my head is reeling trying to figure out exactly HOW to spend the $300 he offered me along with the $200 I have managed to save for school stuff. 

It is almost too much for me and I am all giddy like a kid on Christmas morning!  I feel like I've had three pots of Tim Horton's coffee!!!

I know I am going to get a few games.  Squirt LOVES to play games.  I saw a few on the last trip to the teacher store that I know he will LOVE - solar system, math, grammar games for my LGK (Little Grammar King). 

He is also fascinated with the human body so if I can find small models that he can take apart and view "how they work" for a decent price I will pick up a heart and a brain (sounds disgusting when you put it like that). 

I want to get some craft supplies and file folders as well - but I can get those any time so I am not going to really worry about them on Saturday unless I find something really neat or really cheap.

I am hoping to hit the fantabulous book store there as well and see if there's any books Squirt will like.

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Hopefully Hubby doesn't wake up in the morning and think "WHAT did I say to her???"

A New School Year is Upon Us...

And I figured I would start a new blog.

Actually...the other one was giving me issues with my postings and pictures so I thought I would try a new one and see how that works. If I start having the same issues again then I will have to look at trying another forum so fingers crossed. I really like Blogger.

As the title says, it is about our homeschooling journey - the Learning Curve as we walk along this path - but I would like it to focus on other aspects of education as well...such as the things my son teaches me as well as things I learn along the road. It might contain the occasional rant -be forwarned...since turning 40 last December my patience has been tethered by a tiny fragile fraying little thread when it comes to the stupidity people exhibit.

We haven't started school here yet. We are waiting until the 8th of September and then we will plunge into school. Squirt is both looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. He is looking forward to the learning aspects and getting back into some semblance of a routine but he is dreading the fact that once school starts he's not going to have the freedom and access to ps2 and ds that he's had over the summer as well as the fact that Mom has been pretty lax when it comes to things like cleaning his room and helping out with the chores. I just didn't have the heart to tell him he had to leave his friends and what ever games they were playing outside just to come in and help clean the house. I know...I was a BIG SOFTEE this summer.

Anyways, I have pretty much our whole year plotted out. Science is once again taking a big portion of our schedule simply because Squirt loves science - and I can incorporate reading, writing, math and even spelling into our science program. Plus I love science. It is so much nicer to teach something you are passionate about.

This year we are beginning our science with a fairly indepth unit on Animal Classification. We are utilizing dvds, power points and other visual aids as much as we are reading about animal classification. We are even going to build a spine so that he can see exactly why a vertebrate is so different than an invertebrate. I am really excited about this unit.

Once I have actually typed it up (it is a bunch of hand written notes right now) I will try to remember to post it here for anyone who might want to use it or at least give you some ideas for a unit of your own. I will try to do that with all the units we do this year.

Once we have completed that unit, we will start to examine the Five Classes of Vertebrates, examining each one fairly indepth and picking one or two animals from each class to examine even closer.

Now, Squirt has always been fascinated with bears - in a good way (maybe because I've always called him Little Bear???) He is leary of them but loves to watch them. This summer we happened to spend three weeks at the lake while Hubby worked from there and one evening a two-year old cub happened to wonder through our site. I noticed it right away (there is a particular smell bears have and I smelled the bear before I actually saw it) and motioned for everyone to get into the camper (Squirt had a friend spending a few days with us).

We gathered around the table and kept watch out of the window. He wondered through, stopped at the picnic table where we had been sitting and snacking on chips and pop while I made supper (yeah, I know...snacking before supper??? I slapped my own fingers...after popping another handful of chips into my mouth of course.)

Anyhoo...back to the bear...

This black bear cub (remember, he was only 2 years old and in bear time that is still a cub - a young teenager) climbed up onto the table and proceeded to finish off our bag of chips. In fact, the bag was stuck on his nose for a time as he licked every bit of greasy little bits and pieces from the bottom. THEN he stuck his nose into the cups that still contained rootbeer and drank what he could before knocking the cups over and lapping up what he was able to spill on the table. He even found the cooking forks we had used that afternoon to roast marshmallows and proceeded to lick off the remaining sticky stuff that I hadn't been able to burn off. He really seemed to enjoy that until he poked himself with one of the tines. Then he went to the edge of the table where I had set our little camp barbeque and proceeded to try to eat the potatoes I had cooking there - still in the foil and VERY hot.

Did you know bears do NOT like getting burned?

He let out a squeal and shook his paw and nose and left the barbeque alone after that.

Smart bear.

He proceeded to sniff through everything in the campsite but surprisingly didn't tear anything apart or knock anything over. He just sniffed. In truth, we are pretty clean campers. Pop cans get put away right away. Garbage is removed as soon as we are able to remove it. Our belongs remain neatly stacked by the camper when not in use. Food is stored away and safe. We know that we are in THEIR domain and try to live WITH them rather than attrack them. Bears are wild animals and wild animals are unpredictable.

Now, during this time I was thinking to myself..."TAKE A PICTURE! TAKE A PICTURE!" and then I remembered that morning Squirt, his buddy and I had taken a walk through Boundry Bog - a 20 minute drive from our campsite - and my camera was still in the truck. Of course. Just like it was in the truck when a fox cub came and sat down right at my feet...then took off when he realized PEOPLE!!! Just like it was in the truck when a moose wondered through our site.

Yeah, all the wonderful animal shots and my camera was never right at hand. Always in the truck. And when I finally remembered to bring it into the camper, the only time we saw animals was when we were in guessed it...TRUCK!

Anyways, after the bear wondered off to better and more tasty horizons - like the local garbage recepticles where he was found completely emersed and upside down inside a garbage can - Squirt wanted to know more about black bears...and brown bears...and grizzley bears...and polar bears...and then he discovered the Spirit Bears! Oh, talk about GLORY!!! Learn more about Kermode Bears or Spirit Bears here.

Luckily, we had an electrified site and I just happened to have my laptop and external hard drive with me! Yes, we are modern campers. The only thing we don't have for camping is a satellite dish...and I refuse to go that far.

So we did a bit of research on bears with what little I had on the external because...of course...all the bear information is on the main computer not the external. But we were able to find out enough to satisfy Squirt for the time being...but he has been asking more and more about bears and I did promise him we would look closely at the Family Ursidae.

You so got to love when kids get so interested in something that they are constantly asking about it! there are moments when it gets downright annoying BUT in the interest of education, it is wonderful!

And so, back to the bear...

I suspect this was the bear's first year on his own and he was surviving the easiest way he could - by taking over the campground. Most of the people were careful - storing food away from where they slept, putting away food and garbage and such - but of course there are always those who seem to think the campgrounds are for them and then rant and rave when they return to their site and find it destroyed by a young and hungry bear in search of food. In fact, that is what happened in the campground.

A family had been tenting and fishing and had left everything out in their site while they went fishing. When they returned, their coolers were overturned, their fish catch from that morning had been eaten as was all the food they had brought for their weekend stay. Finding such an easy target, the bear continued to search their site including ripping apart their tent which happened to have all their snacks stored - chips, pop, chocolate bars, etc. They also admitted to the conservation officer who arrived shortly after they discovered what had happened in their absence that they had cleaned that morning's catch in their campsite because "the kids didn't want to wait around the smelly fish cleaning hut while we cleaned the fish."

Yeah, real smart campers. Read the pamphlets - they all say to NOT clean the fish in the campsite, to keep coolers in the vehicle and do NOT store food in your tent and do NOT eat near or in your tent. But perhaps this young family did not know how to read.

Oh...wait. I recall him mentioning he was a teacher. Sad...real sad.

Anyways, the conservation officers had up a couple bear traps but before they were able to capture the bear for transfer to somewhere less populated, the bear met an unfortunate end. Because he had grown accustomed to people, he was also not afraid of vehicles. Two days after he had wondered through our site he happened to wonder onto the highway where he was struck by a vehicle. Squirt was not happy to hear what happened. He wanted to see the animal captured and moved to a safer place.

So on that note, I will just say this...

Rest in Peace Our Wild Little Friend.
May your spirit find
fields filled with blueberries
fish filled streams