Category Archives: we don’t do school

lego mindstorms


Here is ds3 (on the left) and his friend at a Lego Mindstorms (robotics) class yesterday. The class ran from 10am to 2pm, with half an hour for lunch. We have had a Mindstorms set at home for some years now, but it hasn’t been used much, and when the opportunity came up to go to the local university for this class, I asked him if he wanted to go and he said Yes. They built one of the models out of the kit that picks up a plastic ball. By the time they stopped for lunch, their model was finished and just needed programming.

I sat at the back of the class for the first hour and a half with a couple of other mums and my knitting, but had to leave early to go and teach my knitting class. Ds3 really enjoyed his class (and it was free) and he even got to go and play at a local park with his friends before being dropped off at Tai Chi Man’s office for the ride home.

My knitting class was the fifth and final session that I’ve been leading recently. All of the ladies in the class have rediscovered their enthusiasm for knitting and are working away like mad on hats, vests, sweaters and dishcloths. It’s great to see. I have committed to lead a sock knitting class in May, three two-hour sessions, to get them started on knitting in the round, turning heels and grafting toes. Only one lady has knitted socks before – even so, I think she’s planning to sign up.

Only ds2 had a quiet day, being left home alone while the rest of the family were busy, so I dragged him out to do the paper route in the evening. I didn’t really want to do it myself, but was glad that I made the effort and enjoyed the long walk. Even though the thermometer said 1 degree C, it didn’t feel that cold at all.

Today is the total opposite. An “at home” day, nowhere we have to be, and  not a lot on the “to do” list.









Playing…in the snow…around a campfire…and later, with yarn. Perfect day, really!

We joined some other homeschoolers today for sledding fun. We built a campfire and someone had brought a huge pile of sticks perfect for toasting hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire. My family brought vegan “marshmellows” of course. Tiny, but tasty after a few seconds in the flames. That hat that ds3 is wearing in the photo says “meh” on it. I made it ages ago for ds1 – he wore it once. At least it’s getting some use now.

It was a very mild day – we were able to stay out for hours without freezing! The sledding helped, as you get pretty hot trudging up the hill, ready for a whizz down, and the fire was great, especially when the clouds came over and it cooled off mid-afternoon. The parents who remained the longest crept closer and closer to the fire and our snow pants started to steam! Damp gloves were held over the fire like marshmallows. We came home ponging of campfire smoke, so much so that I had a bath in the evening because the smell in my hair was annoying me!

I set up the crockpot this morning so we had Boston Baked Beans waiting for us when we arrived home, which we ate with Boston Brown Bread that I made last night.

As for the yarn play, this is Bernat Mosaic and it’s turning into a pair of easy fingerless mitts for the seniors knitting class. I’ll type up the instructions and it will be one of the projects they can choose from once they have learned the basics. I made the first one last night and the second should be finished by bedtime tonight.

A perfect way to spend a winter Wednesday.




happy crafting


I am an optimistic knitter. I take knitting everywhere I go, sure that I will sneak in a few rows somewhere. I didn’t manage any at the dentist this morning (just a cleaning today, nothing serious). However when the boys were busy at our homeschool outing** this afternoon, more progress was made on the top-down cardigan. I’ve finished two repeats of the cable pattern now, and considering that each repeat is about 5 inches long I think I’ll only have to do two more for the length I need.

I did extend the Denise cables around the bottom last night so that I could try it on. Tai Chi Man said it looked like a fisherman’s vest (how flattering). He means the ones with all the pockets for the gismos that fishermen need. Now there’s an idea – a knitter’s vest with pockets for all our stitch markers and darning needles and….. Hmmm, better not get carried away.

The fit is good, though the armholes are huge, mostly due to the increasing I had to do to get the right chest measurement. Never mind, I’m quite happy to have a large cuddly cardigan that’ll fit over other layers to keep me warm in my chilly house this winter. I’m still on the third and fourth balls of yarn so I’m feeling more confident that I’ll have enough to finish the project.

Here’s the first pink sock in all its glory. This is an unusual sock in that I knitted it toe-up, unlike 99% of my socks. I used Wendy Johnson’s book to make what she calls a gusset heel – you increase at the sides towards the back of the foot, and then do a nifty short row thing and end up with a heel that looks like a V. I do like it. Then I knitted 6 inches of ribbing, finishing with Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bindoff (which is, as promised, very stretchy).

This sock is a tad looser than I would like, though I can see myself wearing it over another one, which I regularly do with my hiking boots.

I have to confess I am considering … ahem … buying some socks. (Ducks and looks shiftily side to side.) One of my newer pairs came out of the wash the other day with a couple of holes. I suspect that jogging in handknitted socks, comfortable as the cotton yarn is, is going to wear out my socks faster than I’d like. So I think I need to buy some sports socks to save the life of my “good” socks.

And finally, a crochet dishcloth that’s basically a granny square. I haven’t crocheted in ages so it was fun to make this. The yarn is Crystal Palace Maizy – made of corn – which I received from someone’s blog contest a long time ago. I may give this away to a friend as a Yule gift.

** I just realised that I didn’t say what we did today. I amassed a large group of mums and children and we checked out the new complex in town – it has an indoor playground (tubes, tunnels, slides etc), a gym (trampolines, ropes, balance beams, soft shapes) and a climbing wall. My kids and I were the last to leave – we stayed for three and a half hours in all.

That’s Lego Nut in the middle of the photo and someone else’s kid higher up.



a blustery day


Happy Monday morning everyone! It’s a grey day here in the Okanagan so I was fooled into thinking it was earlier than it really was when I woke up. It’s very windy too so I’m not in a hurry to get outside.

I’ve given up on expecting my dear son to jog with me every time I get the urge, so I went out on my own yesterday afternoon. Did I say we’d bought some bathroom scales? Big mistake! Now I’m obsessing on the number that I saw when I hopped on them. They were really bought for MacAddict, who definitely does need to lose weight, but the rest of the family were curious to see what they weighed too. Anyway, seeing that number has spurred me into wanting to jog more often (every other day, maybe) at least until the roads get too icy to do it safely.

I didn’t take a stopwatch yesterday, just followed a route that felt manageable, and when I got back home I’d been out for 40 minutes! That did include a 5 minute warm up walk and a little 60-step “getmybreathback” walk in the middle, but I was very satisfied with that.

I’m feeling somewhat smug that my weekly homeschool reports are in for last week, so I can forget about those until next weekend. My Learning Consultant at Self Design must get a bit bored sometimes with seeing two almost identical reports coming in each week – Ninja Boy and Lego Nut do most things together, so it’s hard to find interesting things that they learned about individually, though of course even when they do the same activity their own experience of that is different. I write about what they did and ask for their personal input each time so that the reports have more of a personal spin.

It’s housework day Chez Nicolaknits, so I guess I should get off this computer and get on with it. Maybe I’ll save my daily visit to Ravelry for this evening. I’ve just remembered I wrote out a “deep cleaning” schedule last week – well, I can’t really call it spring-cleaning can I! Anyway, one room or area a week will be tackled – yes, even windows and walls. What fun 🙂


no pretty pictures…


…just letting you know that I’m still here! I’m glad to say that we’re getting in to the swing of “lessons” on weekdays. I hate to call them lessons, actually, I tend to say “schooly stuff” more often than not. We’re focusing on geography and english – working through the book on North America and the one called Better English. We’re on Grammar now, talking about nouns, adjectives, etc. The Spelling part of the book caused some discussion, as of course Usborne books are mostly published in Britain and the spellings are often different from US spellings. Canada tends to use a mixture of British English and American English, so I suppose we’re in the fortunate position of having a choice when it comes to spelling certain words.

No jogging today, just some weight-training and mowing the grass. I had my hair cut too – I was thinking about letting it grow out but didn’t like it, so had it chopped again. I gave up with the no-shampooing thing – I didn’t like how my hair felt and looked (probably didn’t leave it long enough) so I’m back to the usual daily shower and shampoo.

Can’t remember the last time I picked up some knitting needles – it was before the weekend. I normally knit at the hospital, but The Birth House book kept me busy in between visitors for the whole 4 hours last time. I have two more shifts coming up – Friday and Monday – so will definitely take my knitting and work on my scarf.

Yes, I did say Monday, and as some of you will know, that’s Thanksgiving Day here. Not a big day for our family really – as immigrants, we have no family in Canada to visit with, and I’d rather not have to make huge complicated meals just for the sake of it. We’ll probably have a regular meal and I’ll add a dessert. I feel like it would be a nice idea to take some wrapped cookies along with me to the hospital to cheer up the family members who are having to visit their loved ones in intensive care.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving, however you plan to spend it.

a little saner


Things are back on an even keel today. Tai Chi Man is back from his weekend conference, my 3 day cleanse is done (successfully), a little housework was completed, and we started on the first of our geography workbooks.

Both Lego Nut and Ninja Boy are learning with me about…North America. Today we put up the poster from the back of the book, talked about latitude and longitude and relative location and some of the countries that we’ll be covering (the book includes the central American countries within this continent). Whilst I’m not a huge fan of workbooks, they do give you a framework to work with, even if you digress on to other things. I’m glad I bought a new atlas and globe, as we used both today.

Afterwards, Ninja Boy and I went out jogging – Week 6 Day 1 of Couch to 5K. Every time, I think I’m not going to make it, but I do!

I have made sure that the calendar is free this week so I can have time for schooly stuff and fun stuff and relaxing. Tonight Ninja Boy helped me cut up tomatoes for another big pot of pasta sauce and then we had fun on the trampoline for about an hour while it got darker and the moon came up and the stars started to appear. Good times.

crazy week


I’ve had stuff on my calendar every day this week. It’s unusual for us to be so busy, but a sign that I was doing too much was that I was still getting the vacuuming finished this afternoon (Friday) when normally I would have had it done on Monday.

Today we had a field trip to see how a newspaper gets printed and into our hands…the man giving the tour was very pleasant and took us around to see the printing presses and the offices and the machine that transfers the pages of the newspaper from computer to aluminum sheets, ready for printing.

After a few errands, we went home, but I still had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that we should do our Couch to 5K jog.  We’re on Week 5 and this time there would be NO walking breaks – just 20 minutes of jogging. Considering it hit the high 20s again today, and that the forecast for Sunday is for a maximum of 15, I thought we could jog down by the lake and then go for a dip. So that’s what we did.

I made the pizza dough and left it to rise while Ninja Boy, Lego Nut and I headed off to the lake. We managed our 20 minutes (can’t say I enjoyed it though)! Then we went in the water – cripes, it was freezing; we all agreed on that.

Then it was home for pizza, which I made sure the boys helped me make. I’m doing a 3 day cleanse, starting today, so I don’t want to be slaving over a hot stove too much. I am limiting myself to raw fruits and vegetables, no oils or nuts, plus “swamp water” (a large bottle of water with a teaspoon of greens powder plus the juice of two lemons).  Breakfast was fresh apple juice blended with banana, kale and blueberries. Lunch was avocados and tomatoes with a sprinkling of Himalayan salt and lemon juice. Dinner was cucumber, carrot and apple juice, and a banana. Apples for snacks.

I’d forgotten how good freshly-made juice tastes.

My plan for next week? Nothing, except for dental checkups for all three boys. And I don’t intend to add anything to the calendar all week – I want to get started on the geography workbooks that we bought recently. They are staring accusingly at me from the book rack!

Field trip

fire truck

fire truck

I can’t remember the last time we went on a field trip, but yesterday the two younger boys and I joined a group of other homeschoolers at the airport.

The tour included a visit to the security area in the departures hall, where the kids had fun “wanding” each other to see if it would bleep. We visited the fire hall, and of course kids and fire trucks are a natural fit!  See that gismo on top of the truck?  That shoots water – a loooong way.  The boys were able to use the joystick inside the cab to move the water-shooting-thingy around, and afterwards one of the firefighters turned on the water to demonstrate it.

water cannon

water cannon

However, the highlight of the tour for me was a spontaneous demonstration of police dogs.  While we were standing in the arrivals hall, a German Shepherd was searching around the baggage conveyor belts.  Turned out the police were training the dog to sniff out explosives.  One of the officers took us outside and introduced us to his dog, and then we were able to watch more training taking place in a nearby parking lot with other dogs.  We asked lots of questions and the police officers were happy to answer them.

Today we went to the beach and had a good time visiting with other homeschoolers.  The boys had their first swim in the lake – I sat in the shade under a tree.  The lake is icy cold at this time of year, which isn’t surprising as it’s being filled by creeks running fast with spring meltwater.

June is Strength and Stretch month


April was Raw month.  May was Feel Crappy month.  June is going to be Strength and Stretch month.  My theory is that announcing it here makes it more likely that I’ll do it!

My weight training program has been non-existent for about a year.  My yoga moves fizzled out some time ago.

Now is the time to get moving again.  It’s been so hot the last few days that I can only consider exercising downstairs, which works for the weights because that’s where my bench is.  The stretching I can do anywhere.

The summer program for Taekwondo means a slight change in class times, but we’ll still be training on Monday and Wednesday evenings.  A lot of students take a break for the school holidays, but we always continue through (especially as school holidays don’t mean a lot to us anyway).

Did I say we were finished our official “school year”?  We were done May 23rd.  The last reports were submitted for the two younger boys, the annual reviews done, and we’re having a rest from “shoulds” for a while.  The boys are free to do what they will.  I have cleared out the book cupboard, put aside some old Usborne books to give away, and rearranged the rack in the dining room.  We have a display rack that a friend was getting rid of – it’s a useful tool to keep things visible that otherwise would be forgotten about.  The art supplies are there; books on origami; a few Usborne puzzle and search books that we haven’t looked at for ages.  The last of Ninja Boy’s school funds were spent on a pack of coloured Sculpey clay and I’ll be encouraging the boys to remember their arts and crafts over the summer.

In case you’re wondering, we have a lot of Usborne books – I used to be a consultant, selling them at home parties, and I built up quite a collection.  I still maintain that you could homeschool your children using just Usborne books!

MacAddict, however, is struggling with Math 10.  He’s doing an online course with a math mentor.  I am doing my best to help him with it, but we’re only on the first unit and we’re finding it HARD! I left school at 16 (in Britain) after achieving a respectable 8 O-levels – I went on to a vocational college for a year and then found a job.  I suspect that this high school math that we’re working on now is the equivalent of A-level math, which I never did.   It hurts the brain!

Soapstone carving

it's cooler under there

it’s cooler under there

Some time ago, I bought two chunks of soapstone from an art supply store.  The smallest they had were 1.5 lb pieces so that’s what I bought.  They have been sitting in a cupboard waiting for the weather to get warmer so that the boys could create as much dust as they wanted – outside.  It was too hot in the sun so I suggested they sit under the trampoline.  Here’s what happened…

the first sculpture

the first sculpture

shaping with the file

shaping with the file

another view

another view