Thursday, October 27, 2011

Il Grande Viaggio

Just thought I should let you know I have gone a great adventure and I have taken my blog to a new site notyoureverydaymary.blogspot
Please join me there, to hear about our big journey.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Move over Martha

I love to entertain. That is one area where I truly feel that I have my game on. Our house is always open to drop-ins, the kettle is never cold and I am generally up for making tea or a latte. But give me some warning, even an hour and you can be enjoying your latte with an amazing slice of Banana bread, recipe compliments of Bill Granger. More notice and this is where I get ramped up. Come for dinner, honestly the whole idea for me is just exhilarating.

I really enjoy cooking, I follow Chef Heidi Fink, smittenkitchen and I own nearly 101 cookbooks!!! I love the inspiration I get from all these sources. I am not super great at following recipes, not much a stickler for measuring. Savoury is more my forte than baking (mainly due to my lack of measuring, baking really is a science). The funny thing is, it's the day to day cooking where I seriously want to just go back to bed and hope there really is a kitchen fairy who will whip up something delicious and nutritious that everyone will eat, and then of course, clean up the kitchen too.

I guess dinner parties, the people are alot more open to eating what you serve. Is it because they are adults or just other people who are looking at me like I am the kitchen fairy? I don't really care, it is just so great to have someone truly appreciate what you have just served. Don't get me wrong, I know my family is grateful for me cooking for them. Even if it does mean pizza every friday, three sisters burritos, pasta, wraps or one of the other 6 staple menus I rotate week after week. It definitely cuts my shopping time down, I just buy the same thing week in and week out. I could almost autopilot myself around the grocery store.

Today was great, we had some out of town friends coming by for coffee, I baked banana bread. We invited them to stay for lunch. My kitchen ROCKS! I seriously love it. It has the perfect combo of country comfort and good appliances. It has the most wonderful feel, it is so welcoming and relaxed, it truly is the heart of our home. I do feel at ease there, I just breeze around, peeling, slicing, blending, roasting, sauteing and on and on. I love to eat, perhaps that is it. And I love to feed people. So if they are willing to eat, I will get creative.

Later, I spent my afternoon preparing for some friends to come for dinner. I made my little pies, lentils and vegetables in filo pastry. I grilled asparagus, roasted potatoes and made a very delicious kale salad with avacado dressing. I made some oriental eggplant dip but forgot it in the fridge, until I was cleaning up after dinner. After dinner we ate some divine chocolate brownies that my friend had made, we cleared the table and played spoons with our children.

It was such a great evening, I just couldn't see myself going to bed, I stayed up and watched a movie by myself. I know I will regret the lack of sleep tomorrow, but I just felt I was too excited after such a great evening of food and friends.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's a woman's world baby...

I was just making some pizza dough and sauce for dinner tonight. Yes, I make my own pizza dough and sauce. Not because I some super mom, not because it is cheaper and tastes better (I believe), but because I like to and I can, and it is just the way I am. I was recently with some friends when the conversation came up about making pizza and I received a sort of smart comeback from someone, saying 'and I bet you make your own sauce'. Sometimes it is hard to decipher when a comment as meant as a criticism, a compliment or if it comes from a place of feeling inadequate.

I see this often amongst women. We seem to all harbour some feelings of falling short in some area of our lives. We feel guilty if we go off to work and leave our children in daycare or with a nanny, we feel guilty if we don't get time for ourselves, or follow our own desired career path - and the list goes on and on. You really can't win at times.

I often feel stumped when it comes to the 'Occupation' or 'what do you do for a living' questions on forms or in conversations. I don't actually make a 'living' as is implied in North America to mean money. As far as occupation goes, as to what occupies my time, well that would be my children, but I can't say I am a mum, because does that mean that my friends with children who go to work are not mums, no it doesn't. And I can't say I am a stay at home mum, because we don't stay at home (ask my dad, he has a better relationship with message machine, much to his chagrin). I am not a housewife, as I am not married to my house. I do make some money selling pots, but that is not a living. I do homeschool my children, but that doesn't make a teacher. And I am not hung up titles, but I find it all very interesting.

I was once at a cocktail party when a woman asked me what I did and I said I had two children that I stayed at home with. She sort of hmmmmed and then turned away. Done with me I thought. For a long time I felt as though perhaps she thought I had nothing to offer as I did not work outside the home, but one day when I retold the story to a friend who did work outside the home, she said perhaps the woman felt guilt or intimidation by this. I was astounded, we are raised in a world where we seem to believe we should do everything, have a career, raise our children, be athletic, artistic, philanthropic and the list goes on. I also believe we live in a time where we are able to choose which path is the correct one for each of us. Whether it is to have children, or not, have nannies, day care, go to work, stay at home, homeschool, send the children to school, whatever, it really is what works for each individual person. I believe we need to support each other in these ventures and really feel confident in our decisions. We make the best ones that we can at that time. No one can predict the future, we just need to live in the moment. We need to not be so sensitive to comments, that might not be coming from where we think they are. We need to not be judgmental, but supportive. If we can't support each other in this big sister hood, then who will?

When I refer to we, I think in some great way, I am referring to myself. And as for the forms, I sometimes leave them blank, or put in what ever I feel at the moment artist, mother, home learner, COO of a small human development organization, etc.. Because really, at the end of the day it is often irrelevant and what is most important is being content with who I am and what I do, title or no title.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Market to Market

It is market season and though I am not out to buy a fat pig, I am out to sell my pottery jiggity-jig!! I am very excited that tomorrow evening June 15th, I will be selling my wares at the Oak Bay Night Market. I will also be selling at Moss Street this Saturday June 18th and June 25th.

Here is a sampling of what I have.

Plus, lots of new patterned small dishes. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some things just don't change...

I am most certainly a creature of habit. I find when I look back through my blog things seem to repeat for me, almost a year to the day. I was reading back to January of last year when I was recuperating from a cold. I too was hit with a bad cold at the end of this January. A really bad one, and to be honest, it hasn't fully left. Yes, 5 weeks of coughing and congestion. Each time I think I am getting better, it hits me again. It is starting to get on my nerves. I am really ready to feel 100%.

I also realize January is the time when I start to question home schooling. It is the time I feel frustrated by it all. When managing the house and making sure everybody is making progress and feeling fulfilled is more than I am ready to take on. It passes as the month progresses and each year I find new ways to deal with this in a more productive way than threatening to send my children to school. I rally myself and plan more activities and crafts and I am able to remind myself why I began this journey and how important it is for me and my family.

I am not a huge fan of winter. I try to stock up on warm comforts before the season begins; slippers, warm coat, boots etc. But I don't think it is just the weather. It is the lack of light. I am a light and short sleeper which is completely contradictory to the long dark nights of winter. I want to sleep but sometimes can't, but I surely don't want to leave my warm bed. I feel lethargic and would like to hibernate. Me, a down duvet and some knitting. My family is welcome to join me, bring some books and games we can all hang out, but really, do I need to get out of my pyjamas or take of my scarf and toque?

I feel lighter with the promise of spring. The light in the morning stirs me from my bed and I happily head out for a walk. I don't mind the rain or the cold at this point. I feel inspired to tackle tasks that have been put off for the last few months, I do feel like Spring cleaning, and Spring cleaning in a big way. I want to return to the 'fifth quadrant' and clear all the clutter. I went to the library and got a book on clearing clutter for inspiration and I have already begun sorting and tidying and getting rid of some unwanted and unused items. It feels great. I have such a sense of accomplishment when I finish organizing a room, I have more energy to tackle the next spot.

I know that as the days get longer I will get more done. I will be enjoying the cherry blossoms as they arrive along our streets, they have begun already and the next few weeks promise to be spectacular. I know I will be back in my shed soon, making pottery and preparing for summer markets. I know my cold will pass and I will be back to my full self. I guess there is nothing wrong with things repeating themselves each year as long as I am able to find new ways to deal with old problems and move forward in my own learning. I know that I will slowly tackle the clutter and cleaning. For now, I am going to make some tea, curl up with my book and maybe do a little knitting.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Snow Day Before and After

My garden yesterday....
the promise of Spring.

My garden today....
Not so fast!

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Homeschooling Journey - The Beginning

We thought about homeschooling when our oldest was only a toddler. I had this idea that I would find like-minded friends with children of similar ages and we would share the load. Take turns, teach the children things that we were interested in and then have some free time to ourselves as well. As Sofie got closer to school age, my thoughts had moved on, I looked at various schooling options and then registered her for French Immersion.

During Sofie’s Kindergarten year, my husband took a job in Australia, which meant Sofie would miss about 7 months of school. I wasn’t concerned, as it was kindergarten, and it wasn’t even mandatory. Sofie finished the last few months of kindergarten in Canada after an amazing trip away. We learned so much on our trip that I wasn’t concerned about how she measured up to the rest of the class on numbers and letters.

The last few weeks of the year were quite trying. Though Sofie enjoyed herself when she was at school, each day I had to convince her to go. And then, an end of the year bike safety assembly left Sofie never wanting to return to school, or ride a bike for that matter. In the summer we took an art class run by an amazing woman who was homeschooling her two daughters. These young girls were so bright, so confident, so well adjusted; I just couldn’t help thinking about the possibilities of homeschooling Sofie. Around that time Sam was offered another contract in Australia, a short one, he could go alone or we could pull Sofie out of school and we could go with him.

I looked into the different ways of homeschooling and found out about distributed learning. I researched a few programs and settled on a program called SelfDesign. I liked the philosophy of learner-directed and enthusiasm based learning, and the educational funding was appealing also. We knew a wonderful woman whom we often visited at Kidsbooks in Vancouver and it turned out she was a Learning Consultant with SelfDesign. It just seemed as if everything was falling into place. We registered for our year away from School and got started on learning outside of the classroom.

When Sofie finished her first year of home learning, we were in Australia and her sister Jane was due to begin school. I took the girls down to the local school, began the registration process and ordered uniforms. That night at home Sam and I talked, it just didn’t seem right, the girls were flourishing outside of a schooling environment and we really were enjoying SelfDesign. I called the school the next morning and cancelled the uniforms; we were now officially home learners, not just travelers whose children weren’t attending school.

Sofie is now entering her seventh year with SelfDesign and now Jane and Jack are enrolled as well. We have had the same learning consultant all along, except for the year that she was on maternity leave. I like that she is familiar with our family and our children and she knows their interests and learning styles.

SelfDesign is an independent online home learning program, funded by the BC Ministry of education. Part of the requirement in enrolling is a weekly report of Observing for Learning as well as a log of 25 hours of learning (pretty easy to reach when you look at all the learning opportunities around us). There are also 3 seasonal reports that require a greater in-depth look at what your child has been learning. As long as you maintain timely reporting, SelfDesign provides $1122 per student per year for learning expenses incurred through out that year. This comes in the form of a preloaded Visa card that is loaded 3 times during the year. Another requirement is that your child will participate in the government FSA testing in grade 4 and 7.

I sometimes find the reporting can be a bit onerous, but if I keep myself on schedule and don’t get behind, it really doesn’t take a lot of time, and it is a nice reflection on what we have done in the past week.

One of the reasons I enrolled in the first place was that as a fledgling home educator I felt the need for some accountability to myself and I liked a permanent record being created if my children were to return to a traditional school at some point.

We have over the years tried a number of curriculums as well as learning styles and for now I have scrapped the kitchen table ‘school’ time in lieu of finding the learning in everyday situations. We play lots of music, make lots of art and do lots of reading.

And at the end of the week, I jot down what we have done and send it off to our LC to glean the learning outcomes. If you were to take my children and measure them up with the ‘bricks and mortar’ school measuring stick, they would fall behind in some areas and stride ahead in others but at the end of the day, I am so proud of my children and the people they are becoming and I wouldn’t change a moment of it for anything.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day 2011

I was just thinking about how great Valentine's day is. What is not to love? The celebration of love and eating chocolate. Really it is hard to go wrong when you remember those two simple things. Then I went back to my post of 2010 on Valentine's day, and I was impressed with myself. I think I pretty much nailed it. It is about Love, not commercialism and it seems each year my love for this holiday grows.

Yesterday I brought out a couple baskets of paper, some fancy scissors, glue sticks, stamps, you name it and we all set to work making Valentine's cards. Jane set to work baking, at 10, she is pretty skilled in the art of baking. She is not so good at following the instructions (no idea where she gets that from) but she can make an amazing loaf of bread and her lemon cupcakes are very decadent. There was a flurry of activity in the kitchen and we all really had alot of fun inspiring each other with our ideas. The cards were so beautiful. This morning we got busy making more while the crowd cried out for heart shaped pancakes. Who could deny such a lovely request. Not me.

Our day was filled with friends and just being together. Oh, and chocolate and cupcakes of course. I decided on a dinner of pizza, where I made Sam his own heart shaped vegan pizza. Come on now, that some serious show of love. The children loved making cards for everyone and the girls took Piper across the street to deliver hers to her little friend. It was a really fun day.

So now as this day draws to a close and I know I have had my fill of chocolate, I am also filled with love for my family and friends.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dear Blog....

My Darling Blog,
How are you, I am well, I am so sorry it has been such a long time since I last wrote. I have thought of you often and always mean to write.

I don't mean to neglect you and I certainly never meant to put you at the end of a long list of 'to dos', but alas this is where we are. What with getting busy for the Holiday season sales and then planning holidays for the family, adhering to my commitment to make hand made toys for each of my four children, juggling family, friends and social commitments, knitting for my own enjoyment, reading the odd book/magazine, homeschooling the family, laundry, dishes, cooking 3 healthy, vegetable laden vegetarian meals a day, more laundry, moving our entire house of furniture around, preparing seasonal reviews, invigilating seasonal tests, more knitting, some yoga, a little me time if I can, organizing and facilitating getting my children to piano, cello, violin, guitar, soccer, swimming, sneaking some late night chocolate, spending time with my darling husband, trying to photograph my pottery so I can finally get it on etsy, more cooking, visiting some friends, it is sad but true, you my dear blog have come pretty close to last. Trust me, there is a toilet needing a scrub that can wait until I am done with you.

But, I do promise to try harder, to show you some love and respect. To spend some time with you, find some nice pics. Share my thoughts with you. I have so many ideas I want to share with you. But for now, this is it, I will be back, soon, I pinky promise.

Please wait for me,
lots of love,