The Journey Begins: Homeschooling

The cherry blossoms were out a month early because our Winter was so mild. (Unlike our friends on the East Coast, suffering through blizzards.) But spring has been abominably wet. So our garden has been a gluey sticky sopping mud puddle. We have been eager to get in there, rotor-till the beds after all the pitchforking I’ve done, but it is just too muddy.

Then a friend scared me last week. She said, “I think everything is a month early this year!” My face dropped. That means my garden should already be planted. I employed the same techniques as a woman in labour. I breathed through my panic and then ran out to the garden with pea seeds to hastily shove into the driest part of the soil.

And the birds ate them.

Don’t worry. I won’t give up that easily.

bird brieflowergirl brieflowerpicker currantblossom dandelions mapleblossom wheelbarrowThe bees are doing well though. I lost one hive and I’m not sure if it was the Queen who failed late in the Winter but the hive was very small so I wasn’t especially surprised to open it up and find a few dead bees.

Gabrielle has starting “homeschooling” in earnest. She is a very earnest child. She colours pictures and writes letters all day. We have been taking a country that she picks on the spinning globe, and writing down three things notable about the country, usually the climate, a landmark and an interesting animal. We draw the flag and attempt to draw the animals. It isn’t her drawing skills that are lacking so much as mine! We started reading chapter books a couple months ago to Gabrielle. She is enthralled. She loves listening to these stories where the characters flesh out more than in a picture book. So far she has eaten up The Trumpet of the Swan (E.B. White,) Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary,) and we are now reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Daddy and Ribsy with me. Her joy in reading and stories is palpable and very exciting for both Marc and I. Daddy and Brie do science experience together and she seems to have a propensity for math.

At my mother’s recommendation, I read “Homeschooling for Excellence” and it was a fabulous book for anyone looking at homeschooling and the philosophies surrounding it.

And the babies keep coming. I am teaching prenatal classes in Victoria now with a full schedule. I’m enjoying my work immensely and because it only takes me away on the weekend (but you know, babies come whenever,) I get to spend the majority of my days at home. I find my work/life balance working right now but I am ever-aware that it is a balancing act. So I check in often with my family.

And that is us in the Spring! Have a very happy day!

In the Air

IMG_6776Spring is in the air! Let’s dance about it! Finally, Winter is receding and the flowers are sprouting! Sing a song, do a twirl! Hurrah for Spring!

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This of course, does not mean that we are in short-sleeve shirts every day. The garden is still quite swampy and we are still layering in hoods and toques, but not always.IMG_6826 IMG_6831

Spring also means Nettle Season. Stinging Nettles. It’s such a hippy thing so my hippy rating goes way up as I show you these pictures. We pick nettles, then we make pesto, stew, soup, tea, smoothies. You get the idea. And then all us Pender hippies take pictures of them and instagram it. I can’t even. For real.IMG_6833 IMG_6834 IMG_6843 IMG_6850 IMG_6852 IMG_6854 IMG_6860 IMG_6864 IMG_6868WWhen I get super busy and go to a bunch of births in a row, Gabrielle and Marc entertain themselves by woodworking. Now added to Brie’s ever-growing vocabulary are words like “tongue and groove” and “bevel” as well as “braxton hicks contractions” and “posterior baby.”

 

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And then I came home after teaching a class in Victoria all weekend and she had written me her first love note. I melted. I swooned. And I want to frame it forever. Below is the other side of the card. It has a sun, a moon, mountains, a rainbow, flowers and the sea. What more could a girl want?

The answer is nothing. I am complete.IMG_7019

Starting again

Every year I employ faith. I gather my faith up as I hold a tiny seed in the palm of my hand and drop it gently into fresh black soil. Will this tiny spec actually grow into a plant and that plant will grow food I can eat?
It seems like a miracle.

But every year it does.

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So here we are again, dropping seeds in pots of dirt, hoping and wishing them to turn into food.

Like magic.

Back to the grindstone

We got home a whole month ago now. And we were immediately thrown back into it. A couple days after arriving home, I got to attend a birth of a beautiful woman who was quite overdue. I like to think she waited for me to get home. Wishful thinking. But it was a beautiful birth and a great introduction to being home.

The first couple days being home was euphoric. I smelled the cold fresh air. (So sweet.) I performed domestic tasks which I actually love. Cooking food, doing dishes, doing laundry. When I get to putter around my house and my garden, I am in a happy place.

As a celebration for Marc turning 33 years old, and to fulfill my domestic inclinations before they dwindled and became regular life, I made pies.

I usually hate making pies. This time I didn’t mind so much.

IMG_6607 IMG_6608 IMG_6613 IMG_6614I’m excited to be back at ‘er. And when this birth storm passes, (who says that? really.) then I am excited to get planting some seeds. Because folks, Spring is here!!!

Happy March!

Island Life for Me

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Naturally, after two weeks in Granada we missed island life so much, we found an island and headed there to explore for a week.

We hired a van to take us from Granada to San Jorge, a quick two hour ride, and the van dumped us off at the ferry “terminal” at 11am. (I use the word terminal loosely.)

IMG_5655 IMG_5662 IMG_5694 IMG_5747When we arrived, we sat in a building with a little shop that was filled with gringos. We thought with smug satisfaction that we must be at the right place.

And we were.

But we could not determine, for the life of us, when the ferry was going to depart. Every single person had a different answer when we asked. As an islander, I can complain about the ferries with the best of them. I can whine on and on about the scheduling and how inconvenient it is for us. But there is a schedule.

Maybe there is a schedule that only the Nicaraguans can understand. But finally a boat pulled up. And we hoped to God that we would not be going on that one.

IMG_5723This is not the boat that pulled up. The boat that pulled us did not have the capacity for vehicles. Half of the gringos gathered their stuff and headed down to the boat to try to board.

By this time, we had been waiting for a couple hours in a ferry terminal, with bored and cranky children and limited snack supplies. It was tempting to grab our bags and jump on the ferry. But a little voice told us to wait.

So we waited.

An hour later, another ferry was ready to depart and this one looked a little more sturdy. The waves, which looked quite rowdy by mid-day, were less threatening now so we shuffled our stuff down to the dock and tried to board the slightly larger ferry.

IMG_5749 IMG_5755Successful, we stationed ourselves in front of the bano in case any of our party had to be suddenly seasick. Yeah, we weren’t joking. This lake was rough!

IMG_5763Soon we saw Ometepe Island rising up to meet us. Ometepe has two volcanoes that jut out of the lake, forming a beautiful sillouette against a jungle horizon. The kids were delighted that, just like the moon, the volcanoes followed us wherever we went.

IMG_5833 IMG_5839 IMG_5843We arrived at the dock on Ometepe an hour and a bit after departing San Jorge. A quick taxi ride landed us at Hospedaje Soma.

IMG_5854Hostel Soma was absolutely lovely. If you need a recommendation on a place to stay in Ometepe, Hostel Soma is my first choice. It is located in the small town of Moyogalpa, right where the ferry comes in. It is a 5-10 minute walk from town. There is a local dog to greet you, (Tricky, we still miss you) and fantastic friendly reception staff. Most of the units have a hammock and a front deck area.

IMG_5858 IMG_5861 IMG_5862 IMG_5863 IMG_5864Inside, the rooms are simple and clean. Only two of the units have hot water but it is quite humid there so showering in cold water is quite refreshing.

There is a fridge in the common dining area where you can help yourself to bottled water, cold beer or juice anytime. Then your drinks are marked on a tab you have and you pay for everything at the end of your stay.

Granada felt fairly safe though every doorway had metal gates. Every wall was topped with barbed wire, and the banks were punctuated by an armed guard. Everyone was friendly and greeted you as you walked by. In Ometepe, the metal gates were gone. The barbed wire, absent. There were still armed guards at the banks but you barely noticed them because they were reclined on chairs, chomping on fried plantains.

One morning, I went for a run as the sun started to rise. I found myself with a rooster as a running companion. I greeted the wild horses, grazing in the ditch. I ran in the shadow of Vulcan Conception. And a pig on a long rope, snuffled at me as I jogged past.

Ometepe may have required some guesswork and patience to get to but soon I found myself swinging in a hammock at Hostel Soma, I knew, island life was still the life for me.