Wednesday, September 26, 2012


This song has been going through my head.  There sure have been a lot of changes around here.  Its shocking sometimes when Dean and I talk and consider that in January at the beginning of this year we were all together in Mexico - Eryn and Tyler, Kaetlyn and Nadia and Andrew and Chelle, and Dean, Rhiannon and I.  We had a fantastic time and we really enjoyed being a family there together.  And then just 2 months later, Kaetlyn was home again.  Her and Nadia split up.  And now she is off in Iceland for a year.  Too far to come home for holidays, that's for sure!

And then, shockingly and very abruptly Eryn and Tyler split up just over a year since their wedding and less than a year since their fantastic honeymoon.  Eryn wrote about it here.  By the end of October, if other plans don't happen, she will be moved in here to save money to leave in the spring and then she will be off on her own adventures.

And then on September 16 Andrew moved to Kamloops.  He and Chelle have moved into a basement suite of her grandmother's.   His plans changed several times and then bam he was gone.  I walked by his empty bedroom several times, leaving the door closed like he was still here...  When I finally went in, there were tears in my eyes... my boy...  I looked around at what he left behind - a homeschooling chemistry book, the end of one of my USB sticks he denied using, his desk, his box of memories...  Its good and its time for him to be out on his own and moving on with life's next experiences for him but I miss him.  There is something about having a son.   He was my helper and handyman from the time he was big enough to heft my suitcase which was bigger than him.  His is the biggest hole right now.  The one I am not used to.

And there you have it.  In 6 short months we went from being a family that required a place setting of 12 with lots of family events that everyone was at to suddenly me and Dean and Rhiannon knocking about in this big old farmhouse with too much room.  We could take the leaf out of the table. (except where would I pile all that stuff then, like ripening tomatoes and junk?)

Big changes.  Suddenly I am completely without handymen (Tyler was very handy and built me rabbit cages, fixed rabbit cages and did many other handy things and yes Dean is still here and no, Dean is not handy but he is many other great things).  Suddenly I have a daughter abroad and my son lives in a different city.   Suddenly it is very quiet around here for big stretches of time.  Things are still shifting.  Suddenly I have time to myself.  We'll see where it all ends up.

Friday, September 14, 2012

September 14

Twelve years ago in the year of the dragon our little dragon came into the world, early in the morning.  My how things change
Kaetlyn and Rhiannon 2000
Fourth child and seven years younger than her nearest sibling, she has always been a force to be reckoned with!

Rhiannon and I taken with a very old webcam as we try to capture the difference in our eye colour - her blue, me green.
Benefits of homeschooling: practising violin in your pyjamas...

Dressed for a dance performance.  Beautiful girl.

Always a flair for her own fashion...
New Denver creek walking
Styling... she asked me to take this photo, she was so pleased with her 'look'.
Animal lover with baby Splash
Jumping at the beach with bff Megan

Playing the piano with Splash
Getting too cool....
My bud and travelling companion on the ferry summer 2012

With her Auntie Katherine at her cousin's wedding.  I do think they look alike!
I have been thinking lately about how fast childhood passes - that magical time in our children's lives.  Oh how I miss it!  Not my own, that is but that of my children - the innocence, the love, the creativity and the confidence.  All too soon they are teenagers, full of angst.  I look with longing at the photos of a younger Rhiannon - longing and fond remembrances.  Of course, I love the young woman she is growing into and I hope I can help her hang onto as much of that confidence as possible.  I just love having children in my life and she is the last of my own and it doesn't look like there will be grandchildren in my life anytime soon... 

Today Rhiannon is 12 and we are celebrating twelve years of Rhiannon.  Its going to be a party week!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Homeschooling Journey - Another New Start

Rhiannon has never been to public school so this marks our eighth year of homeschooling together.  It has been quite a journey.  I first homeschooled Eryn for grades 2 - 5 and I went through the whole evolution from doing lots of organized, schooly things at home to being really laid back and just living life but feeling guilty about it - like I was failing her somehow.  However, when she went to school in grade 6, she did just fine and I wished I had spent a lot less time worrying and feeling guilty.  I homeschooled Kaetlyn for kindergarten and grade 1.  I would have loved to homeschool her for longer but circumstances did not permit.  Andrew was my second wave of homeschooling.  I homeschooled him from grade 4 to the end.  By this time I had heard of 'unschooling'.  There are many interpretations of 'unschooling'.  You can google it and get various different takes on it.  Unschooling was good for us in that it took the pressure off and there was a level of trust that children could learn what they needed to learn when they are ready to.  It has faith in natural curiosity.  How each family interprets it is unique.  For us, it meant just living life and following our interests as we were able.

However, towards the end of Andrew's time as a homelearner, I began to see its short comings in preparing him for the life he wants.  And I saw that sometimes children need to be pushed and challenged and I believe that it is my job as a parent to do that.  I saw that sometimes some children can't find that inner motivation to do what they need to do.  One problem I have with most child development models - whether for homeschooling or language development - they assume that all children are the same, have the same needs and unfold in the same way.  They don't.  If I could go back, I would do it differently with Drew.  But alas, you can't go back.  Now its his job to figure it out.  I know he can do it.  And maybe that is just as well.

For the early grades, our life just ticked along with Rhiannon.  She was super motivated to learn to read - obsessive, even.  She could read anything by the end of her kindergarten year - and not because of anything I did - just because she was ready and very, very motivated.  She studied piano and violin and played with friends and it was all good.  Last year, things started to change.  She was bored a lot of the time but didn't seem as able to occupy herself.  Music practise became a daily struggle.  We had lots of goals for the learning year but we did not accomplish what we hoped.  At the end of the year I felt lost and uncertain and very worn out - tired of fighting.  And don't get me wrong:  I would be fine with Rhiannon quitting her piano and/or violin.  She didn't want to quit but she also didn't want to practise.  All in all, I don't really think it was about the practising.  I think her surly and resistant attitude about it reflected a deeper sense of dissatisfaction with her life in general.  She wasted a lot of time.  And I wasted a lot of time trying to get her do the most basic of things.  I was ready to give up the whole homeschooling thing - even though I really believe the school system would not serve her well and I especially eschew highschool.  But I just couldn't do another year like last year.

I pondered it all summer.  And for the summer we took a real and complete break.  I did not make her practise as I have done in the past and we had lots of company and did lots of fun things.  And I pondered what to do and how to do it.  Rhiannon was dead set against going into the public school system and I was reluctant to force her.  More than one friend encouraged me to do just that, though.  And I can understand why they would after all I had to say.  In the end, after lengthy discussions with Rhiannon (and Dean) I came up with a plan.  I had 2 major concerns.  One was that she was not learning and progressing as she was capable of (except in English - in which case she is way beyond her 'grade level').  The second was that it was taking way too much of my time for too little result.  In other words, I was wasting too much time.  We were both sick the first week of school.  (We are registered with SelfDesign as we have been since kindergarten - its a publicly funded Distance Learning program that operates out of Kitselano and Nelson).  So to start off the second week of school, I told her that she need to have breakfast and be finished her rabbit chores by 9am when school would be commencing.

Rhiannon working on her music theory
So now for 2 hours every morning, she studies.  She still has complete control over what she studies - except that she must do some math sometimes.  She has been working through the Khan Academy systematically which is an awesome site and I am so grateful for it! (thank you, Kyle!)  And she is learning how to write a report.  Her first one is about mini rex rabbits.  And we spend sometime working on cleaning and organizing her room - an important part of her learning this year.  Our theme for the year is 'discipline and organization'.  Its amazing to me that even in this short time what a difference this has made in our home.  She is happy.  She is agreeable.  I actually like spending time with her!  She's excited about what she is doing and learning - even the math.  She needed this push from me and she needed me to supply this structure.  She has some goals.  She would like to be ready to take the Creative Writing course at Okanagan College when she is 14.  She would like to be a writer.  And she would like to be working at Math at a grade 7 level.  Now these goals seem achievable.

Splash marvels at the clean window sills and windows from the top of the ladder
What do I do during these 2 hours?  I do housework that I don't mind being interrupted and I am available for anything she needs help with.  Getting some great housecleaning done....  Even Splash is amazed at my clean windows as she perches on the ladder I just vacated for a new view of the kitchen.  That's what we all have, I guess, a new view.

I am not saying that every kid is like this or that every kid would benefit from what we are doing.  But this is working for us.  I've never homeschooled in quite this way before.  It could be said that doing it this way is even counter to my 'go-with-the-flow' personality... but I think that maybe I need some more discipline and organization in my life, too.  Seems that way!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Summer Fun - A Photo Essay

Caleb purposely looking serious - our first summer visitor.  He was here for 3 weeks.  We loved it!

Caleb with the pups.  He's seriously a dog whisperer.  He totally gets how to train  and dominate a dog.  They love him.
Canada Day in Kelowna with Sarah and Kyle watching Redfish.  The obligatory maple leaf tattoo.  It was on for several days

Caleb jumping off the dock at Kal beach

Rhiannon jumping off the dock.  Those people seated there actually asked them to stop jumping there because they were splashing them.... hello?!  This is a dock.  On the lake.  In the summer.
supper at Jade Bay
Bozenka and I on my birthday.  Wonderful way to bring in my 48th year.

Ferry ride to sister fun (for me) and cousin fun (for her)

Sister bum shot from the condo.  I won't post the more deliberate one in which Sarah contorts herself in such a way as to make her entire torso disappear into a thin line balanced above her lower half.  Weird.  How do you do that? 
The top of Mount Washington.  Kindly Amy, Sarah and Katie waited for slow me.

Chairlift down.  Don't ask questions.

Group number 1 arriving at the meet up spot just after the bridge.

Hello!  No, that is not our mother - unless you mean that arm with the green golf shirt.

Supper at Kaloya - going for the after dinner hike around the penninsula
Part of the second wave of guests.  This is Mary and I having a special time.  Easy to please - just take her to Winners and let her try on ladies shoes...  and take pictures of her feet....

You have to admit, these are pretty cute.  Those don't look like no 9 year old feet, either.  Watch out Doug!

When you look at this picture, you must hear Mary saying in her crazy voice "I'm ONE TOUGH COOKIE!!"  Which is what the shirt says.

We did 2 sessions of dance camps.  Eryn and I did the younger one together and she mostly did the older one.  Fun.  For 2 weeks.  Gabe and Mary attended the younger one together along with Adriel and  Mary went to the older one, too.

Mary at the water park.

Wild man Gabe - the other half of our second wave of guests.
Doug, Delanie and some of the rest of their children came to pick up Mary and Gabe.  Here we are first night at Juniper Bay.  Mary and Noah.

Gabe doing the hula...
Mary jumping off the cliffs at Ellison the next day.  Brave girl!

Underwater shots with the camera I got for my birthday.

Josh, who even looks handsome and debonair underwater!

my handsome brother determining that there was no safe way for Noah to jump off the cliffs...

Delanie - back floater extraordinaire.
And then the dogs chewed up my cord for my camera so I can't charge it.  I need a credit card to order a new cord from Olympus so I have to make arrangements with some credit card owning friend.  I just didn't feel like going back to Rhiannon's old Kodak....

After Doug left, we had a couple of days to get ready for New Denver and then it was Abraham August.  We tent camped and then we luxury camped in a gorgeous cabin thanks to Ronni.  Meg came back with us for our third wave of summer guests and spent the rest of the month with us.  There were movies and the water slides and trail rides at O'Keefe and then the Family Reunion in spectacular Golden Ears Park.  And then Ronni was here, too and then there was Alexanders and lots of talking and some kitchen overhauling.

And then Kaetlyn left for Iceland and the IPE started....

It was a good summer.  It was a blur that whizzed by but I am pretty sure it was mostly good.