Quote of the Day

"When you follow your bliss... doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else." ~ Joseph Campbell
"The trouble with talk about 'learning experiences' is that it implies that all experiences can be divided into two kinds, those from which we learn something, and those from which we learn nothing. But there are no experiences from which we learn nothing. We learn from everything we do, and everything that happens to us or is done to us." John Holt, Instead of Education

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Circus Camp and other pics.....

We got some photos sent to us from the camp Bailey and Jaxon attended - Bailey was there every day, so Jaxon must have missed the day the photographer came:(

Here are the boys at Stone Soup - the gym at the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre:

This is the outdoor area near the gym where we spend our late Tuesday afternoons until Beavers and Cubs - Jaxon starts Cubs next week and Bailey just got a temporary little vest for Beavers last night - wow, was he proud! BTW, if anyone comes across second hand Beaver or Cub uniforms, please let us know! Thx!

Also,.....Bailey's design that he was very proud of and wanted to share! Our favourite puzzle blocks from England www.myriadonline.co.uk ...thanks to a generous donation from G & G Werry at the time!!

Our spring snowfall has all but melted/washed away now, so we're hoping to dry up soon! Then it will be time to tackle the worshop and build the shed! We are also hoping to build either a treehouse or clubhouse and create a campfire pit here. The bike path is pretty much dry and clear so we hope to get out scooting and biking soon.
Both boys start ball hockey soon, so we are looking for hockey gloves and jocks!!..maybe a taller stick for Jaxon. His legs have been aching lately after a big day out, so I've been wondering about a growth spurt again!?
Oh yeah, and if anyone has any great astronomy/space facts for Jaxon (he's looking for a great one for every week of his course), put them in our comments section or email them to Jaxon at jaxonflannagan@gmail.com !
That's all for now folks!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

So, the squirrels have eaten through the plastic to get to the seed in the feeder that they knocked to the ground, even though it was hanging by wire! We have tried to baffle them with a pole mounted (baffle included) structure but the pole was faulty and wouldn't stand up straight, so I'm very sad to be missing my bird entertainment.

We also tried to (but didn't) get some pictures of the squirrels that were hanging upside down by their feet on the string that was holding up our pop bottle feeder - they finally brought that down after emptying in a day (once they had perfected their acrobatics)!

Now I'm hoping Canadian Tire can salvage my bird feeding woes with a proper pole or two - we'll see!

But I think I did see two Robins yesterday.....although it looked like they were having some kind of a rooster fight on the ground, hopping up in the air and scrapping away at each other - quite funny! And the crows are collecting to build nests....got get the feeders up so maybe the Jays or Cardinals will nest nearby! Must get to Can Tire today....after we play hockey outside (Jaxon's request!) and before my Woodworking class tonight!

Look for a cute pic of Sé in his new wellies from www.muddypuddles.co.uk and his one-piece waterproof outfit - coming soon! Really fun, until he did a face plant twice in the mud outside yesterday and now looks like he got in a barfight with scrapes on his nose and a fat lip.....not enough practice in the world for what Jaxon aptly called the 'outdoor terrain'!!!
Negotiating the new schedule.....

Well, we had our first week of two days out of the house for different activities - it was supposed to be three but I had no energy after a bout of flu over the weekend - and we survived! Once again, one of the main problems about any drive was Sé's distaste for van movement! This makes me taking the kids out either traumatic or skillfully timed around his potential naps - the trauma comes when he cries until we either pull over or he vomits, making it very difficult to get anywhere very fast!

Luckily, our Thursday trip to Gatineau works out well because we leave the house at 7am with Ian, so I can sit beside Sé. So, we met a lot of nice people - and lots of boys in the 5-10 year old range - at the Chelsea Community Centre and are really going to enjoy hanging out there on Thursdays in the spring.

Bailey and Jaxon both did a yoga class - although Jaxon has opted for a French class instead - and Jaxon LOVED his astronomy class! They had Lego on the floor to build with in a spare room and there were some foam sword/lightsabres floating about, so Bailey had no trouble fitting in and playing with some of the boys during Jaxon's class - he played outside in the playground (they have a big backyard property) for over an hour.

When the weather gets warmer, they all go down to a spot by the river nearby and hang out, so we are looking forward to that. Less than 5 minutes down the road is a ski hill and woods everywhere - quite a beautiful spot!

It makes me want to try out the Kingston group that has more organized activities and classes - I didn't think the kids would like it but it turns out Bailey wants it and if it is something Jaxon is interested in, he may try it too. We always thought it would be a good way to meet some more kids but didn't know if we could take on what would be involved - it works as a kind of co-op.

We did enjoy our own new version of Stone Soup - like what we used to do in Dartmouth - we have rented out (at no charge) a big gymnasium as the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre (Batoche Gym) on Tuesday afternoons from 12-3 and had a great time with our cousins and Aunt Crystal. Although we couldn't get the sports equipment onsite, we have found out that Ian can sign out sports equipment from the Kingston Military Community Sports Centre, so it will be fine, just inconvenient dragging the stuff around. Now we just have to advertise more widely than the Learning in Community group, as no one else has been able to make it so far.

We also went to the big Kingston area Recreation Fair yesterday and found out about clubs, sports organizations and every kind of summer camp you could imagine, so we've got plenty of choice. We're thinking about trying to keep driving to evening activities to a minimum in the summer, so we're weighing our options. So far, we've got Bailey signed up for outdoor ball hockey for the spring to try it out. Jaxon wants to play too but it conflicts with his chess club for a few weeks, so he is going to wait until another session.

I was going to put Bailey in swim lessons - and may still, if we join the YMCA in Brockville, as it is included in the membership - but yesterday he was resembling a full-fledged swimmer! He was motivated to try to pass the 'swim test' which allows you to go on the great big water slide at the Kingston Military Community Sports Centre (KMCSC) - we paid $35 for a family membership 'til August. Great pool set up, lousy hours for family swims and kids can't go in the hot tub:(

All in all, lots of options to choose from - including the Gananoque Recreation Registration event this coming Saturday - somehow we will work out the balance for everyone.....

....meanwhile, things are just getting interesting here in the woods.....we did have two more bouts of snow - one even stayed for a couple of days until the rains came, so here comes spring!

Friday, March 16, 2007

March Critter Watch

Well, we saw our first fisher across the canal yesterday - exciting but worrying, since we learned that they like to eat cats, as well as porcupines, squirrels and chipmunks. Jaxon said, "Well the squirrels can have more babies but we need to keep our cats around awhile"!
So, I guess we'll develop the Flannagan Family alert horn or something to round up the cats everytime danger approaches? I don't know how we're going to keep them in on warm summer evenings. I guess we need to research fisher hunting/feeding patterns now.....makes me nervous. We have also seen coyotes up on the parkway but not down by the water yet. I keep hoping the fact that we have ALOT of little critters around means that there are no massacres going on.....I can only hope.

This morning we were greeted by a two bunny friends. One was about three feet from our sliding doors in the living room, so we took a lot of fuzzy pictures and movie footage through the window:) It was having a real feast around the pine cones and needles and such. A chipmunk was hanging out on the step right under our noses, surveying the scene. Neither one was startled by the other.....not even when chippy's friend came along and they played some tag for a moment....the rabbit just kept on munching.........yes, this is why I brought the kids to the forest!

Now we wait for the deer....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Embracing Another Transition....

Well, just when I thought we were enjoying our winter wonderland bliss....the slow thaw begins! Oh, there's still snow on the ground and ice on the lake but not the kind you can play with or skate on! Then the anxiety hit - well we have Daddy's exams to be anxious about too - but it was almost a new sense of panic....and then I figured it out: another change. We were just coasting along getting settled, cocooning a bit, enjoying our new place, building our nest and now BOOM, another transition to make.

To be honest, I wasn't sure how we were going to cope but a trip to good ole Canadian Tire did the trick....I picked up a couple of birdfeeders to go with the seed that had been lounging about since we arrived (and feeding nothing but the squirrels with the old wooden feeder nailed to the tree out front! I also got a seed tray and some seeds to give us another spring project.

Yes, we've decided to embrace the spring...BRING IT ON! We have projects, we now have a little bird paradise to watch out the living room window or while outside (will be easier in a few weeks as Se will be able to walk around out there once the snow melts). All of a sudden, I'm ready for the snow to be gone (kids are sad and constantly saying goodbye to it - seems like a long time to wait to play in it again) and I'm loving watching everything begin to come alive with the mild temperatures and impressive sun warming the place up.

And just like nature unfolding and coming to life before our eyes, we are finding our legs and branching out into the community with our 'make new friends' crusade. The kids were off to Circus Camp this week at Dreams In Motion in Gananoque (march break for the school kids) and are loving it - but looking very tired after day 2! We have started another Stone Soup - free gym time to play with sports equipment or just hang out with new friends. We are continuing Chess Club (Jaxon), Beavers (Bailey) and Karate (Jaxon) for the next month or so. We have a new Yugioh/Magic Club through Kingston Rec that we want to sign up for this weekend and we are hoping to get Bailey on a soccer and/or baseball team for the summer.

We are also trying to start our own Yugioh and Lego Clubs to meet both local kids and other interested homeschoolers/unschoolers/homelearners and so we don't only meet people in Kingston - 20-30 minute drive and Se is still HATING the car!

I am starting a woodworking course on Sunday evenings for the next few weeks that is offered through the KMFRC, I'm looking for a pilates class and I'm on the waiting list for a soccer team.

If all that wasn't enough, we just found out about some cool classes offered for homeschoolers at a community centre near Ian's work once a week -so we may travel in to Ottawa for the day each Thursday to take some classes in French, Yoga and Astronomy/Science, just for the spring. The kids are really excited about that.

I countered the mounting panic and overwhelming feeling of too much too soon by 'calendarizing' - my new word for what I do once in awhile to organize my life - and sitting back and watching my birds!!!

I never knew how much I would love this - luckily Grandma and Grandpa Flannagan gave us an Eastern Region, North American Field Guide and some new binocs, so we are set. (We also have a Bird Watching Trivia Game to test our new observations!)

Now I'm new at this, but I'm pretty sure that so far we've spotted: MANY Black Capped Chickadees, some kind of small blackbird, robins, a pair of Blue Jays we are hoping to woo into nesting nearby, possibly a cardinal of some sort but only once, so I'm not certain about that one, a few Downy Woodpeckers (or the same one over and over again!), some kind of finch (House Finch, I think) and a couple of other small grey and white birds that I have no idea about!!

AAQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQAQaz(Se's commentary - was going to delete but Jaxon thought it was soooo hilarious!) Fortunately, for our viewing pleasure but unfortunately for the comfort of the bird feeders, we have a lively squirrel and chipmunk population right now. We are on our third incarnation of the feeders and will be seeking a post shortly to go with the squirrel baffle, so that the feeders are both squirrel-proof and more stable for the larger birds - the BlueJays are having trouble getting on the small perches while swaying on the long line (now wire, after many knawing incidents!).

Anyway, we are definitely embracing this new season coming upon us...I just hope we won't be moving so fast we'll miss the blossoming of the new buds just coming out on our trees....ahh yes, the balancing act, I recognize it well...we've transitioned ourselves back to life again....and the journey continues!

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Well....we are finally in our new house and REALLY enjoying a true Canadian winter this year.(We even have a castle nearby, ha, ha!)

The boys have had great fun with their cousins (who live just 25 minutes away, for the first time ever - yeah!) tobogganing at a great hill just down the lane and skating on the canal in front of the house.

We love to follow tracks - bunny footprints leading up to a hole in the snow - deer, lots of chipmunks and squirrels.....we have also spotted a red fox and a falcon fluttering in the tree beside the van, desperately trying to get a grip on the poor chipmunk it had found for lunch!

Two days ago there was a freezing rain "ice storm", which blanketed all the trees and began to melt shortly thereafter in the blazing winter sun. The sound of the the ice chunks falling was quite loud, following by the trees 'raining' down the rest of the melted ice - luckily the sun saved most of the branches, with only a few small ones breaking off under the weight of the ice.

It was mild enough (+2 or 3?) for Se to take off his mitts and play with the snow, dragging a fallen branch along as I pulled him in his little purple sleigh. He's going to love spring/summer here in the forest when he can trot down the lane - right now he pretty much has to sit in the sleigh. He can't really get very far in the snow on his own.

Jaxon was experimenting with how much water would come from the snow he was scooping into his water bottle once it melted and perfected a snowball forming technique with the tool for molding clay - just right for the freshly fallen wet snow of that day.

Bailey and Jaxon both love to climb the 30 ft rocky hill in front of Blu and Douglas' house (owners of property we live on who have lived here for over 40 years and raised their THREE BOYS here!). They live just down the lane from our house, around the corner from their small marina - named after the Blue Heron that apparently visits our front dock daily in the summertime. Bailey loves to watch Douglas plowing the laneways with little red tractor with the plow on the back - he can't believe Douglas' luck to play on that everyday!

We still have about a foot and a half of snow left and hope it holds out a little longer for our winter wonderland playground here in Ivy Lea....spring will come soon enough and we are ready with our waterproofs and wellies we stocked up on before leaving England (www.muddypuddles.co.uk)!!!

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