Horsing Around The ‘Hood

I run my hand down the length of this horse’s nose, from his bangs to his upper lip, and he breaks into a smile every time. So I took a picture.

He’s not my horse. I don’t have any horses of my own. He lives near me, though. He’s a good NEIGH-bour.

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Canada Geese On Thin Ice

These are just a couple of Canada geese on the ice at a little lake near my home. Oops, one of them “had to go”.

This couple – and I’ve heard that Canada geese mate for life – were walking around on the thin ice of Watson Lake in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, Canada. How lovely it’d be to have a better quality camera to capture their beauty!

It’s always a joy for me to see the Canada geese. Their return each spring gives me comfort.

I had friends back in the Alaskan wilderness who raised some Canada geese. They’d had domestic geese, and someone found some wild Canada goose eggs. They gave them to the domestics, who laid on them till they hatched out. Those Canada geese were the best guard-geese. They’d honk and hiss at us whenever we approached the property.

I’m not sure if it is legal to take Canada goose eggs, so if you read this and get the idea to try it at home, please look into it for yourself first.

That same lake a month ago was frozen so thick, snowmobiles rode all over it

Education By Conversation

The following is from a plaque dedicated to the grandfather of my friend Martha. I never met her grandfather, Sid Rutherford, of Orono, Ontario, Canada, but reading about him, he sounds like someone I’d love to have known. Maybe others can relate.

Sidney Basil Rutherford
1916-1992

Born November 5, 1916 and possessed of an insatiable curiosity, Sid Rutherford was a passionate educator. His teaching career spanned 34 years, beginning in a one-room schoolhouse in Crooked Creek and finishing as Vice Principal of Clarke High School. A strong advocate that most education occurred outside of the classroom, he encouraged everyone to pursue lifelong learning as they followed their dreams, once writing that “the best education in the world is when two people sit on the log facing one another and converse alone.”

In pursuit of his own curious mind, Sid could often be found outdoors in the fields and on forest trails in this area hiking, cross country skiing, observing. He felt a strong civic duty and served on many boards, committees, and advocacy groups to protect Orono as a village within its unique landscape for future generations. It was important to him to stand up, be a voice, and make a difference.

After his death on Feb 15, 1992, the community, along with his family, created this Woods Walk to honour his memory. Emblematic of his love of nature, this trail embodies his wish that curious minds will explore the wondrous trails in and around his beloved Orono.

Commenting on the village slogan, “Orono, The Place With a Difference”, Sidney B. Rutherford wrote, “The citizens of Orono over the years have been feisty; sometimes almost contrary; but through it all, Orono has maintained its character and that makes the difference.”

Exercise Routines of a Mother of Seven

I posted some pictures of my abs in an internet forum. A few ladies wanted to know what my exercise routine has been to get to this state after seven children. Well, personally, I am not happy with the way I look, and my post was intended to ask what I can do to get rid of waist fat. Maybe I’ve become a victim of Barbie Doll mentality, and probably shouldn’t worry so much about it, but I do.

Maybe some of what I’ve done will work 1000x better for others with a propensity to have better results. My legs are long, which cuts in on the amount of space between hip bones and rib cage, so I can’t expect to have a small waist. Still, I do want it a bit smaller.

Before I ever had any kids, I was into aerobic workouts. Since after I graduated from high school in 1985 and no longer had the “ten-miles-uphill-both-ways-barefoot” walk to keep me fit (truly, it was more like 2 miles downhill on the way there, and of course uphill on the way home), I started going to local gymnasiums where someone would lead a 30 minute workout in the late 1980s. The cost added up, though, and so I eventually put together cassette tapes of my own favorite songs and worked out to music in my house.

Then I discovered free workout videos on TV. I recorded them on a VCR and did them a few times a week.

In late fall of 1990, my ex-mother-in-law sent me a compilation of workouts, which I used while caretaking a barge that fall and winter in Prince William Sound, Alaska. It contained a couple of workouts by Jane Fonda, some by Kathy Smith, and one by some other people who didn’t impress me so I only tried the workout once and forgot their names.

During my first pregnancy, in 1992, I walked a lot on the mud flats of Muddy River, Alaska, during low tide. In my third trimester, I brought my mountain bike up from my old house in Washington and rode it around the logging roads. After my baby was born, I waited six weeks before launching back into workouts, starting with the gentler Jane Fonda workout and eventually working my way back to the longer one.

After my second pregnancy, I got a device called “The Ab-Flex”, which was supposed to help core muscles. I don’t know if it really helped, or if it was more to do with the aerobic video tape that came with it. THAT was awesome. It worked a lot of muscles and made me sweat. Here it is on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4FJk9MRXSc

That video was my go-to, other than Jane Fonda now and then, and it helped me get back to my pre-pregnancy size and stay in shape. I used it after my third, fourth, and fifth babies, but it broke shortly after my sixth was born, so then I sought out a new copy. It seems to be rare and I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I opted for a few others. I tried a 15 minute routine by Teresa Tapp, and also one called “New Dimension” by Cindy Crawford. The latter I enjoyed very much and was able to start on it easily six weeks postpartum. It has a super gentle beginners level of about 15 minutes. The next level up is a few minutes longer but quite a bit more intense as it uses some hand weights. Then the third level is too long for my tastes, at over 40 minutes. I did it once and never did it again.

Six weeks after my seventh baby was born, I worked my way back into the Cindy Crawford DVD. That first routine is also nice for when I got out of the habit of working out for several months. I’d do it every other day for a couple of weeks and then start on the next level.

I forgot to mention that in 2001, after my fifth baby was born, I discovered Leslie Sansone walk videos. I got a couple of those and loved them. I also was using a stair-stepper machine at home, with computerized programs. I’d put on a headset, listen to music for a half hour, and stair-climb. For about 15 minutes of it, I’d also use hand-weights of 5 lbs each.

In 2012, I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD called “The 30 Day Shred”. I hated it, but I challenged myself to stick with it for 30 days. I documented my experiences throughout in a blog: https://ificandoityoucanprobablydoit.blogspot.ca/2012/03/level-1-day-1.html

I now have settled in with Leslie Sansone walk DVDs. My favorites are “Tone Every Zone”, the strength sessions of which I do with 6 lb and 8 lb hand weights; “Mix & Match Walk Blasters”, which is ten different ten-minute segments you can pre-program on your DVD player (I do three at a time, but sometimes four); and “Walk It Off In 30 Days”. The latter is the most intense Leslie Sansone workout I have ever done and I really like it. I also use 6 and 8 lb weights for the strength session, which is 30 minutes long, and I use 3 lb weights for the 30 minute cardio workout. I guess we’re supposed to alternate days, but I usually end up doing it more like 4-5 days a week rather than 7.

Oh, and walking. Walking is something I can’t overestimate as being important. A good quick pace for a half hour, with a few hills thrown in, feels so good. I started mixing it up with running last spring for HIIT (high intensity interval training). I’d do 25-30 minutes of that out in the rolling hills and winding country roads near my house, at least 3 times a week, plus extra walking just for fun, depending on where I felt like going.

Last fall, I bought a used treadmill for $50. I enjoy it, but it is in my un-insulated basement, which is very cold in winter, so I didn’t use it at all in December, January, or February. It’s great for doing HIIT workouts with a headset full of music, but not nearly as fun as being outdoors.

Of course, diet is important, too. In 2009, after my seventh baby, when I got up to 180 lbs, I was having a hard time losing the weight. Cutting calories and doing my usual exercise routines weren’t helping me get below 160 lbs. I had several other health concerns, too, and so I went to my naturopath. He told me to do the anti-Candida diet. The gist of that is to cut out all sugar – an addiction that is tough to break, but so worth it – and also I couldn’t have all kinds of other things I’d habitually eaten. Finally the weight started coming off. I got back to 120 lbs within eight months.

I am now 130 lbs, at 5’6″, but want to get back to 125, which has been my norm for the past decade or two, except for a few times when I dipped to 115 during some severe depression and heavy stress – I don’t want to be depressed and underweight, though.

I’ve been trying the ketogenic diet, and although I like the foods that are involved, I’m not having much success in losing the ten pounds I gained this winter. I’ve lost four pounds since starting in January, now three months ago. Maybe because I am 51, I need to accept 130 as the new 120? I hope not.

I guess that’s about it. I am looking forward to getting back into HIIT outside as soon as the snow and ice are gone around here.

Wasting Coffee

I have heard it said, “Don’t waste your time with crappy coffee.”

I agree.

However, I wasted some time finding a good cup of coffee.

In the summer of 2017, finally allowed to go home after 19 days of evacuation, my family and I were trying to get out of Prince George. The shorter route still had a long section closed due to the forest fires, so we had to take the long way home – 7 hours, instead of 3.5.

I wanted a good cup of coffee to start my drive, but the nearest decent cafe was in downtown PG, 20 minutes away, whereas we were out in College Heights, just leaving my third daughter’s house after saying goodbye.

I had a Tim Hortons gift card, sent to me by my second daughter, and so I took the family to the nearby drive-through to fuel up on treats. I decided to give Tim’s coffee another chance, even though I had a disliking for it. I ordered a small coffee with two honeys and three creams.

I took one sip and scrunched up my face, saying, “Bleah!”

It tasted like there was no sweetener in it at all. I drink coffee for the taste as much as for the perk, and if it ain’t sweet, it ain’t good.

“I need to find some real coffee,” I said.

One of my sons suggested Starbucks. I squinted at him from the driver’s seat and said, “Ewwww?”

“Come on, Mom,” he said. “Give it a try. It might be better than Tim’s.”

“I dunno,” I said. “I had it once before and it was gross.”

“Just try it,” he said.

I went for it. While in the drive-thru lineup, I spotted a garbage can and asked my son to take my Tim’s coffee to it. He got out and did so.

I ordered a coffee with two honeys and some cream. When I took my first sip, the same “bleah” came out of my lips.

On our way out of town, we stopped at a 7-Eleven. While the kids took the dog for a walk, I went straight to the nearest trash can and put that Starbucks coffee into it. Then I went in to 7-Eleven and loaded a cup with my old standby: half full with dark roast, topped up with English toffee cappuccino, amended with four International Delight hazelnut creamers, and cooling it slightly with three of the 18% half-and-halfs (half-and-halves?).

As I walked out of the convenience store, I thought, “If I’m going to drink crap coffee, it might as well taste good!”

At home, I feel good about sticking to organic beans that I grind fresh before each cup, sweetening only with stevia, and cooling it off with cashew milk, but on the road, it seems that 7-Eleven has the best brew for my tastes.

I’m not usually one to throw food away, but those first two coffees were NOT good. I know a lot of people like them, and some might gross out over my choice of 7-Eleven java, but it’s a matter of taste.

Another blog entry with little to no point, but I felt like telling that story.

We Are Unschoolers

We are unschoolers here.

With my older kids, we were relatively rigid, with textbooks, workbooks, lots of reading and writing, etc.

With my youngest three, it’s a whole different lifestyle. For one thing, I’m no longer with the abusive ex, who demanded that the kids get high “grades”, and if they didn’t, we all paid for it.

For another thing with my youngest three (currently aged 10, 7, and 6), I was working from home full time, getting very little sleep, and was constantly exhausted. There was no way I could squeeze in “book work”, so unschooling became very appealing as an option. (Public school isn’t something I’d ever consider. I have lots of reasons.) The more I looked into it, the more fascinating it became to me, and pretty soon I realized that was what we were doing. It was and remains a lifestyle of learning, even though I can no longer work due to fibromyalgia and other health concerns landing me on Canada Pension Disability.

As for what a typical day looks like around here…

My kids usually get up before me, around 7-8 a.m. I’ve got their computers set to come on at 9:00 a.m., so prior to then, they eat (they’re all capable of getting their own food now, yaaaay! In prior years, I fed them breakfast, of course, but I was up earlier for work, too.) They can watch TV (we don’t have cable) or movies, or just hang out together and hopefully not fight, because if they fight, Mom gets mad, and they don’t like that.

It’s hard for me to get up, as I wake up stiff and in pain most days. The kids know that, and if they need me, they’ll come up and talk to me, often just coming in for a hug, a kiss, a smile, and to share some sweet words. I’m usually out of bed between 9 and 10, and then it’s cleaning, cooking, bill-paying, phone calls, and the rest of the business of a household. If there’s a lot of mess, I get the kids involved in helping.

Once the computers come on, they’re all over Roblox, Club Penguin, Minecraft, and a few other games they enjoy. I’ve had some programs for them that are particularly education-oriented, and they’ve enjoyed them, but the games are good learning for them, too. They communicate with other players, and they extend their reading and spelling efforts in order to do so. Many times a day, I’m asked how to spell one thing or another. If it’s too many letters, I’ll write it for them in a notebook they each have.

In good weather, the kids play outside in the yard. We live sort of out in the country-ish with an acre of yard. They play on the trampoline any time of year, even sometimes when there’s snow everywhere.

My 10-year-old and 7-year-old sons are diagnosed as being in the autism spectrum. It’s not that big of a deal, as they’re high functioning, but with the diagnosis, we get some funding, so for a few hours a week, we have a behavior interventionist who comes to take them out to do things in a program designed by a behavior consultant. The boys usually go one at a time with her, but occasionally they go together.

The only “schoolish” thing we do is reading lessons, and even that is something I have not pushed too hard. With my 10-year-old, he wasn’t getting the hang of reading by the age of 8, and so I took him to get assessed because his daddy has dyslexia and we were concerned he might have it, too. The tester said that yes my son had dyslexia and that she could help him with a special reading program, and the costs would be covered by the place where we are enrolled for home-school (here in BC, Canada, that’s the rules – you just have to be registered somewhere, and depending on where you register – or if you enroll, which is more work – there is a bit of reporting to do, but not much.)

So, we did that reading program via Skype for an hour a day, and within three months, that son was fully reading. Maybe he didn’t have dyslexia after all? I don’t know, but he has no trouble sounding out even unfamiliar words now, and figuring them out by the context of what he is reading.

The reading program we did via Skype is something I can now use on my other kids, as we have the materials and the teacher’s outline. I have done a bit of it with them, plus some other reading lessons, and I’d like to do more, but my health is up and down. If I can’t get myself to work on it more, I’ll use some of the homeschool funding next year to do it the Skype way with the teacher.

I’ve read about some unschoolers not even wanting to teach their kids how to read, but as for me, I don’t feel comfortable leaving it up to them to figure it out.

Oh, and there’s math. We have a set of books called “Life Of Fred”, which are stories I read out loud, usually while snuggled up on my bed, with my kids. The stories have math lessons woven into them, but they are so entertaining, the kids don’t even consider them to be “school”. Because we usually do Life Of Fred as a bedtime story, it is another excuse for the kids to get to stay up a bit later, so I suspect they also enjoy it because of that.

Our days always end with “tucking in”. Usually, I go to each child’s bedside, but when I’m too worn out, they’ll come to my bed and tuck me in. We giggle over our inside jokes. We do some hugs, some kisses, sometimes some prayers, and we always finish with “I love you”.