Our summer days of golden light

Our summer was brimming with goodness, exploding (literally) with sweetness, and gathered together around golden days with friends and family. Here is proof that we did it together.

A gorgeous chrysalis that our neighbor dropped off. We watched it transform before our eyes and it flew off quickly on a warm summer day.  If ever there was proof of Lothlorien this green and gold magic is it.

Lila Wren at the perfect soccer field point, where we spent many an evening.

Rose had a fabulous summer on the soccer field (as did Remi and Luca!) – complete with Hawaiian flowers in her hair.

Rose’s many layers of skirts were inspired by one of our favourite books “The Good Master”,  stories of farm life, family and seasonal celebrations on the Hungarian plaines.

In the far distance are four little sailing boats. It was Learn to Sail camp for Luca, his buddies Arlo and Quin and for the last day cousin Lucy! While Lila and Remi play in the sand.

There they are!

The boat lineup for the day

The last day of the 2-week course: Quin, Arlo, Luca and Lucy

Rose and her cousin Theo had a great time at a cooking course at Headwaters Farm. They made a wonderful salad and loved the baby goats.

Maybe the highlight of Rose’s summer camp experience – Journey Through the Arts: art, acting and music! She and Theo loved it so much, especially the end-of-the-week under the sea play!

Lila Wren : fairy child

Rose lost another tooth and found this tooth fairy doll under her pillow

Letter writing and receiving letters (especially from cousin Eliza!) are a big part of this girl’s life

The girls playing in the studio

The epic raspberry jam explosion. It was sad and dramatic! We’re still not sure what we learned…

One of my favourite pieces of Rosie art… the wind, the hair, the leaves and animals.

Lila Wren : fairy child at the cash

Rose and I made some dilly beans

This sign designating Rose’s Chair survived for several weeks

Pop-up cards and paper dolls by Rose

Luca, Lucy and Arlo off to deliver the neighborhood papers

Perching on edge at Crowe River

Braving the suspension bridge with the Coons cousins

My sister Betony and I started “Glam the Chaos” photos : when things get really crazy with the kids and you might be about to lose it, take a picture and laugh instead!  This was the moment that the bedroom was covered in glitter and Bet and I discovered why the kids had been so entertained for so long! You can’t see the glitter well in the picture, but I’m still finding it months later!

Sandy and Papa enjoy the beach after ice cream

Our annual summer cottage week in Haliburton

On the way to Vermont we stopped at Ausable Chasm

On the ferry from NY to Burlington, VT

Church Street, Burlington – we made sure we climbed on every rock along the street

Aunty was a hit with everyone, but especially this moment with Lila and the flying fish

We met up with friends in Waitsfield and swam in the Mad River, made apple snowmen and after had a fabulous dinner at Flatbread Pizza

At the entrance of Allis Park before ascending the fire tower

On the Brookfield Floating Bridge over Sunset Lake (which is 200 feet deep in some places – we had a debate about this). I have a picture of myself as a baby on this bridge with my grandparents and their sheep dogs in the early 80s that I would love to dig up.

We jumped out of the van into this beautiful hayfield for a sunset picture after leaving the Mad River valley

En route back to Cobourg from Vermont we stopped at the incredible Brockville train tunnel. You can walk all the way though it as music and lights play. It was quite magical.

The end of the summer saw us all snuggled under blankets in Victoria Park enjoying this fabulous musical production of Midsummer Night’s Dream

The way we lived in January 2019

January 2019


Rose at the lightbox

Luca and Rose sharing the light

Working on a pinball Tinker Crate project

It worked!


Out into the woods with friends


The first good snow

Milkweed pods along the rock beach on my daily run

Three swingers

Luca practicing his archery


Getting outside sometimes has it’s ups and downs

Luca hitting the mark

From my sketchbook


I like archery too!

Lila getting the laundry loaded… or unloaded

This hat will always be something else

Teatime for littles


Rose at Kids in Nature. She made her own mat.

And a lovely sign

Playing with art supplies

Party shakers that Rose invented and name tags for the said party.  There is always a party…

Big and little dress up girls

Making Limeade

Laughing at the computer

Rose made dividers for her coins

Rose at ballet class

Rose’s portrait that I finished in December 2018


Luca at basketball


What homeschooling doesn’t usually look like

Remi is such a gamer… cards, boardgames… any game will do. From sunup to sundown.

Our messy lovely life

Early morning runners

Out for a sled on a cold day

Lila had a cozy sleep on the way home.  And that was a hard day.  But it was good too.





To Barbados and Back with a Family of Six

Right after Christmas we adventured to Barbados and back with lots of help from the grandparents! We explored Toronto beforehand and had an incredible time in Barbados, splashing in pools and waves, visiting family, playing lots of cards and experiencing a new-to-us corner of the world. Already dreaming about our next travel adventure…

Adventuring at the Royal Ontario Museum pre flight

Checking out the University of Toronto campus

About to experience Mother’s Dumplings in Chinatown

Waking up to sun and wind in Barbados

Nothing like running to the pool

Up on the windy cliff over the Atlantic

Enjoying the hammocks at Cutters restaurant



Grandpa Bill playing his clarinet like a pro at Cutters

Meme and Rose deep in conversation

Exploring with family on their land

Going down to the trampoline

Before the tractor ride

Pre-ride picture. Sandy and the older three rode in the front bucket and Lila and I rode in the cab

Across the fields and into the valley

Heading out the front door to the pool

Finding a secret place with cousins

I loved these tropical windows

A giant bonfire

Just dragging a giant leaf

This land reminded me of Kansas in many ways

A ride back to the house

The most beautiful pool at the Craine Resort

Enjoying the waves and sand at the Craine


About to eat Roti

Checking out a flattened frog


Rose’s collection

Tired beach babies

We played a lot of tennis in the cool of morning

Balcony treats

A day to snorkel and explore on the quiet side of the island

A favourite seaweed side


Keeping up with art poolside

Playing the Three Amigos at the pool

A last family picture before we headed home

What we did in December 2018

Sandy and Luca went to a TFC game in Toronto

Luca (#7) and his buddy working on their soccer skills

Luca has been playing basketball every weekend

What most nights look like after the lights are out

The kids raised money for the Terry Fox run with lots of pink lemonade!

Remi turned 5! He asked for Lemon Meringue Clouds as his birthday cake

Pre-bedtime play

Just doing some evening scrubbing…

We are part of a wonderful homeschool book club. This month the cousins hosted with their book Fanny at Chez Panisse



This was the lovely menu. Designed by our cousins with options provided by all the book club families.

Off to the Post Office with these four

Remi trying out his birthday bow and arrow


All spruced up for our friend’s annual Solstice celebration

Stringing popcorn and cranberries – a family tradition that we always did with my grandparents

Christmas morning with these bright eyes

Christmas day run on the beach

Bedtime story – celebrating the life and loves of Sandy’s dad


What our life looks like 98% of the time

I come across blogs about other homeschoolers that are just so beautiful! The children are all nestled around the harvest table, lovely books spread across the old barn planks, a pot of tea, candles burn with a peaceful glow – in the background there is a shelf with nature findings, a globe, a succulent garden orb and books for every subject lined up by color. The many children round the table are each immersed in their projects – writing lovely characters on a real slate, drawing a detailed diagram of the water process, and one is even reciting poetry out loud!  Frankly the picture is a work of art. I have nothing against any of this beauty, but in truth these are curated pictures and no one lives like that all the time.  I will be the first to admit that I also curate my pictures. I adjust the color. I asked my kids to hold this or that and smile! And usually what you see in my pictures is just a tiny glimpse of our space – but just outside the frame is where I shoved the giant pile of laundry aside.  We are not perfect. No one is.  The following un-edited pictures are what our homes looks like 98% of the time. Enjoy and relax!

Seeds and Duct Tape

We started September off with a wonderful adventure out to a local lakeside park to gather seeds, write in our journals and enjoy the last days of summer weather near the water

The sides of the bank here are quite steep – Luca always wants to go down, but I had to watch from above with Lila as the kids practically slid down the side!

Here we are set up in the shade with our blanket, market basket full of pencils and journals and Phoebe tied to the tree behind us

These pretty pencils were a gift from Grandmama and Grandpapa – they were always so supportive of our creative pursuits growing up and now are supporting their grandkids in the same ways.  I often give thanks for my experiences growing up in an unschooling/life learning family – as we homeschool our own kids, I have a built-in support system in my parents.  I’m used to this way of life and I don’t have to worry that my family thinks we are crazy… but these are real struggles for a lot of homeschooling families.  I hope this blog and my friendships in my local homeschooling community can be a support for those finding their way.

A couple years ago I bought these thick blank art journals for Luca and Rose. Luca has been pretty good about organizing his entries, whereas Rose scribbled on every page! We’ve gotten about half way through them, even though Rose has to re-use all of her scribbled-on pages! We use them for copy work, drawings and diagrams, math, art and whatever seems to work well at the moment. It’s a lovely way to have a lot of their work together in one place and a sweet reminder of all of the good things we have done together! Here is Luca decorating his 2017 entry.

We gathered seeds and made a graph of the ones we could identify

Pencils, blanket, goldfish, journals and a baby! All you need for a fabulous homeschool adventure!

What September looks like in Ontario

Later we made this pretty circle display of our seeds with labels around the outside. Never underestimate the power of cardboard!

Luca finds a quiet moment

With my mom’s help, I set up one of my art tables in our living room for the kids to have another space to write, do art, and work on our latest projects. I’m so glad I did! We live in a fairly small home and having another space to spread out has been so handy! Rose has especially embraced this space and I often look over and see her perched on the stool immersed in drawing and coloring. Something I often think about is creating space for our kids to just be in – a cozy nook to read in, a fort to play cards and lego in, a table by the window…

This month we really enjoyed creating our own patterns with the help of a lovely guide on Design Sponge by Julia Rothman.

Luca colored his with Pixelmator

Rose used Procreate and the iPencil to color hers

I had to make one too!

Rose and Remi playing with the Beleduc human body puzzle

Luca and Rose had fun making number charts. It’s a great way to get in a little practice in repetition and lettering. Luca also had fun using different colors to represent different multiplication groupings.

This year Luca, Rose and Remi all submitted entries into our local fall fair. Rose and Remi painted rocks and Luca made duct tape gauntlets. We used a pair of old garden gloves and fabric for the base form and covered them with layers of duct tape. He was happy to get a second place ribbon!

I am forever grateful to kind friends that drop off art supplies, books and clothes at our door! Here is Remi playing with a great stamp set!

One of my favorite Lego builds this fall was when Luca and Rose created “Their Worlds”. I can’t now remember all the details, but they each had a little house, garden and vehicles and spent hours up in the bedroom creating and playing, totally immersed in their little lands.

Lila Wren looking her usual happy self after the bath

How many mornings look around here

How they look down under too


We went out to a shady place in the park and drew maple leaves and collected dandelions

We are part of a small group of alternative educators that join together for many wonderful outings and adventures, one being a weekly Kids In Nature program. Here we are gathered together in a sweet little circle of trees that looked just like Tolkien’s Lothlórien to me.  I spent my childhood growing up in the country, learning so much from the fields, prairies and woods of my parent’s hundred acres.  Since we now live in town, this is one way that I’m hoping to spark a love of the outdoors in my children. In that same vein, a couple of years ago we watched and loved the documentary All the Time in the World – disconnect to reconnect.  I would highly recommend it!


With this same lovely group we went camping (well some of us did) at Warsaw Caves Conservation Area

Luca builds a boat with duct tape

Rose builds one too!

Helpers on the woodchip pile

Hammering on his board of nails

Summer starts here

Although I’ve always known we’d be on the path to homeschooling, this year we really got down to business and made a commitment to this way of life and we’re so glad we did! Our kids Luca (age 8), Rose (age 5) and Remi (age 3) explore life and learn every day through reading, imagination, play, and time spent together and with our community. We are documenting our experience here. Enjoy!

The kids helped me set up my art booth at Salad Garden in Grafton in early June – they love being helpful and I love sharing the process with them

This month at Library Friends the fabulous David Newland came to play and sing songs about his arctic adventuring – what a treasure he is for us all in this community!  We also had Aunt Mary come by and share her love of clay with us!  The kids made some beautiful pinch pots and other clay explorations

Remi makes modern art with hangers at our June weekend at the cottage

Rose working on the perfect marshmallow

Rose took this shot – one more month to go!

This may be my favorite thing about the cottage – seeing the kids playing their enchanted games of childhood against the backdrop of woods and lake

Strawberry season is always a time looked forward to

Strawberry shortcake on the porch

Monopoly was the game of the month

The eggs are plentiful and this sweet girl is our chicken whisperer

Exploring the new iPad and Apple Pencil – Rose loves the coloring apps and Luca is loving Swift Playground

Rosie learned to ride a big kid bike this month!!!

Helping chop herbs in the kitchen

The giant Mega Blocks tower to the ceiling never gets old!

Family biking!

Luca is loving loving loving soccer this summer! So proud of his sportsmanship and hard work!

Remi’s St. Peter’s Preschool Graduation Party!  His bottom-teeth-only smile of late is hilarious!

Rose and Sandy attend the Father Daughter Ball!

Putting on Mama’s special necklace

Evening on the rock beach

The kids took the next few pictures – I always love their perspective

Three little monkeys all ready for summer!







Flutterby May

Although I’ve always known we’d be on the path to homeschooling, this year we really got down to business and made a commitment to this way of life and we’re so glad we did! Our kids Luca (age 8), Rose (age 5) and Remi (age 3) explore life and learn every day through reading, imagination, play, and time spent together and with our community. We are documenting our experience here. Enjoy!

We celebrate May Day every year and part of that ritual of Spring and gladness is our secret adventuring around town delivering May Baskets! My dad always made a May Basket for my mom and later on all of us kids every year.  Later we kids joined in on the fun and left May Baskets secretly for our grandparents and friends.  I love carrying on this tradition with my kids – creating the baskets, filling them with flowers, loading up the car or bike and heading out to our deliveries.

I especially love watching the kids run up to their friend’s houses – on a secret and lovely mission

We led the Library Friends group with a May Pole dance – although the end product was mostly a wonderful jumble of twisted ribbon, it was the act of being outside together celebrating an ancient rite of Spring that felt so good.

Our theme this month was bugs!  We explored the life cycle of a butterfly and created lots of paper butterflies which we used to create some lovely displays.

Luca’s journal entry on Metamorphosis

Rose’s Journal

Remi’s butterfly mask creation!

And lastly, bug month wouldn’t be complete without a butterfly war! That’s what is happening here… later became very exciting!

Rose’s dance recital!

This is us trying to get a family photo…

As good as it gets!

The usual look of our living space

Rose creating her own iPhone

With a little help from mama… those apps are tiny! There is more visual detail on the front of an iPhone than you realize!

Rose coloring Easter eggs and May Day cards for her friends

Coloring on a board that we used to experiment with our wood router

Doing a bit of math in the Brain Quest workbook

Creating a map of our back yard for a future zip line!

Working on a medieval spear

Using Bingo Bugs and our Alphabet Poster

Luca’s latest Lego Mindstorm creation

Creating a world in Minecraft

Playing a new game from Grandmama – Engineering Ants

Learning Settler’s of Catan for the first time – he is a huge fan!

Sleeping Queens card games is still a favorite

Adventuring in the car

Peterborough park

Watching the baby ducks

Exploring an old railroad track – we found a snake too!

Enjoying the Silver Bean Cafe

Phases of the moon

Our deck in the spring time sun is our favorite place

Taking care of the seedlings

Creating a poster for the Library Friends farmer’s market!

“Salad” bags filled with grass and flowers for the market

Getting the register ready for sales

At the market… it was super fun, even though these guys look a little unsure.

Out at the courts!

Rose in her summer soccer gear

Luca got onto the rep soccer team this year and is loving it!

I spent a few months going to an art class – learning to paint more realistically which was a pretty drastic difference from my usual work.

“One Morning in Maine” as bedtime reading