Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Piano. Outside.

There is a really nice piano right in the middle of the park in Kanata! So while we waited for Gabe's chemistry co-op to be over on Monday afternoon, Essy and Cole did some outdoor recital practice.  I am amazed how tuneful the piano sounds given it's in the weather all summer and there are little guys with sandy hands playing (smashing) on it.  Pianos aren't so delicate and all that.  They are made to be played, I suppose.  Even outside...

Friday, June 8, 2018

Lego Ideas - Support Cole!!

Lego Ideas has an awesome site where you can upload your own original creations.  Your build gets viewed, and voted on, and if you make 10,000 likes, Lego will make it a for-real set!!

Cole is totally all over it.

Here's his first entry.  Go like it.  Vote for Cole!

Summer days....

We had a girls only pool party (except for baby Abel who is still an integral part of his mama...)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Track and Field

1st 800 m
3rd 100m
3rd 400m
Running Long jump 5th
Standing Long Jump 4th
1st shot put

1st 800 m
1rd 400m
3rd 100m
3rd Running Long jump
3rd Standing Long Jump
3rd shot put

1st 800 m
1rd 400m
1st 100m
1st Running Long jump
1st Standing Long Jump
1st shot put

I was the parent helper in Essy group, so most of the pictures are from the 7/8 year old girls age group, but I did get a few of the boys.   Essy kind of kicked butt.  She had a chest full of red ribbons by the end of the day.  These are Jason's genes in action.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

End of Year Band Concert 2018

Thank you, as always, to Mrs. Shew, bandmaster extraordinaire, for her tireless and joyful teaching.  They have improved so much over the 3 years we've watched this group grow and mature.

Easy was a pretty awesome opener, too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

EV Pioneers - Rookie of the Year!

The EV Pioneers did totally amazing and almost took first place at the Waterloo EV challenge.  They were 4 laps ahead of the closest vehicle, when they got a screw in their front tire.  Totally Punctured.  So the pit crew did their best, they replaced the tube in the one tire, but the gear had been damaged and they towed the car ot maintenance bay and they didn't make it back no the track in time to place.

It was pretty heart-breaking.

BUT - the judges gave the team Rookie of the Year!!  Which was cool and it's an impressive award given the calibre of the teams that compete each year, but it wasn't what the guys had hoped for.

It's been a wild ride this EV Team.

More to follow.  Gabe has some things to say about the epic details of their race...

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Learning to Lose

This year's ORC Sumo Challenge was a really hard one for The Steampunks.  there were 400 students and 90 teams.  Essy and Cole has a great start, but the day ended badly.  They won 3 of the first 5 fights, but then lost in the first round of the afternoon trials.  Cole took a calculated risk and changed some things about the Bot right before the finals, and although they were really great ideas, they threw off the bot’s turning radius and we got pushed out of the ring by a really inferior bot. (says mom)  He didn’t have time to adjust the turning radius on the laptop before he had to fight so… we were pretty devastated. So, we are learning to lose knowing that all things come from the hand of a loving Heavenly Father, even the hard things.  Even when it is a 'taking away' of things we have prayer for.  All things.  He is still good.  He still hears.  "He works all things to the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

So we are taking comfort in Psalm 34:18 tonight.

We can rejoice in all things because we can trust the Giver.  

We are so very blessed to be loved by the King of Kings.

Friday, May 25, 2018


When Cole was about four, and I was pretty convinced that I was the wrong kind of mother for this kind of boy, and either he or I needed to be... assessed, I went to see my 76 year old GP, Dr. Hughes, who is the most wonderful Doctor in the Common Wealth.

He suggest tea in the mornings.

I have been reading a good book on travel based learning and other eclectic learning styles by Gregory and Martine Millman and look what I found, half way down the page.

I knew it.  Dr. Hughes is never wrong.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

They Won!!

The Ev Pioneers took 1st at the Connecticut Electrathon. They won first out of 8 teams in the novice division.  Dawson, who is going to be the next big thing in race cars, was our driver.  So awesome.

Field Trip at Forest Co-op

The Co-op kids went to Welsh Hill Farms today.

Mrs. White, who built the house while raising 5 kids and runs this farm with her lovely husband, opened her house to this lovely crew and fed them.   She is a wonder.  If you are ever wondering what my dream house looks like, go visit her website.

Friday, May 18, 2018


IEEE-ORC: We are bringing our A-game.

Beckwith Dojo

Another great year with Sensei Jacque at Beckwtih Dojo!

Sensei Gabe
Essy received her Orange Belt this year!  She is a ninja.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


I got into a big-little fight-discussion with a good friend yesterday. He claimed that homeschooling yielded kids who aren't properly socialized; it makes for kids who are indoctrinated into religion without having to think, and that it makes for really bad public speakers.  .... Well, Touché.

So I've thought through most of these points because the first two are what I normally get hit with from nay-sayers.  "Aren't you worried about them socializing?" And I normally say something snarky like, "Yes, I am very worried about them socializing, that's why they are at home."  

I wanted to come up with something original to say about my thoughts on this, but I kept coming back to a quote by Mencken.  Henry. L. Mencken was one of the most influential journalists in America in the '20s and '30s.  He was a bit acerbic; he attacked chiropractors (of all people...?) the KKK, politicians and other journalists. Most of all, he attacked Puritan morality, calling them a religious people who have "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." And if that doesn't make you snicker, you have no sense of humour.  He was by no means a Christian, but I read his quote several years ago, when I was running from this homeschool idea, and couldn't shake it:

I realize Mencken sounds super snide - that was really his schtick - but if we really believe that an education can be doled out by a humanist, secular government without its values informing that education, I fear we are deluded.  All education has an agenda and I am not sure that good public speaking is on the board's list of priorities anyway.  They are really busy teaching 'the new math' and sex ed.  

Here are some photos of Essy's day at forest co-op.  I don't know if they did much public speaking or if they were heavily indoctrinated, but they were definitely enraptured: "The heavens declare the glory of God." 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

EV Pioneers Update! CHRI Facebook feed

So Gabe is famous... and pretty cool.

Young Christians Looking to Make a Difference For the Glory of God!
Posted by CHRI Radio on Monday, April 16, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Almost over...

We did a few things differently this year with the sap.  Jason had some serious boiler renovations and we moved to tubing and 8 gallon buckets at my folks' property to save us from having to fetch the sap every day.  We also bought a 55 gallon drum to transport the sap in which may have ruined the van's suspension for good.  We bought heavy felt filters and pre-filters which made a huge difference in the clarity.  We tried to do small batches because it means a lighter, prettier syrup, but really, once you are out boiling, and there is so much sap still to boil, it's hard to bring it in to finish it and jar it knowing you just have to go back out and start it again and it's already late and... ya.  Late.

I love-hate this homestead-hobby of ours.  I love that the kids have to work it.  I love that it gives us lots of syrup and that Gabe can sell some of the fruit of his labours.  But it's sooty.  It's sticky.  It's dirty.  It's late.  It's kind of ridiculous.

But it is fun.  And it reminds me that as much as I recreate lovely illusions about a previous age when a family was a working unit and lived on the fruit of their physical labours, you know, Ma and Pa and Laura and Baby Carrie and Mary.... the standard little house on the prairie narrative... I am thankful that we live on Jason's brain not his brawn, (even if I do like his brawn quite a bit).

The boys, and Essy, are able to sling sap buckets and split wood, but they will not have to rely on their bodies alone to eat and live.  And so this thin line between the blessings of physical labour and intellectual labour gets talked about at dinner, when everyone is too tired to study for a chemistry test or a theory exam.  And stuff has slipped, for sure.

I want, more than anything, to raise sturdy adults.  I want them to be hard and willing workers.  I pray that they "work as onto the Lord." Col 3:23.   I want them to learn to do all they have to do anyway, without "grumbling or arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine a lights in the world as you hold firmly to the word of life." Phil 2:16  AMEN.  So may it be.

Jason watching the play offs while apparently watching the sap.  ya.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

BAM Top Lobster Tournament

Highlights from the Beckwith, Almonte and Munster Judo Fun Tournament 2018.

All three kids took home the "Top Lobster" award in their weight category.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Glass Slippers

I took this picture in an attempt to capture a discussion about the utility of glass slippers.  Cole felt it was totally absurd that Cinderella would want glass slippers to begin with and had all kinds of practical concerns about the safety of such a material for a dancing shoe and he went on to say that he also doubted the probability that Cinderella was really the only lady in the entire town that had feet small enough to fit the skippers.  "What about some little kid?  They probably fit some 6-year-old or something?"  Essy was not impressed with the pragmatic interpretation of Cinderella.  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Gingerbread Judoka-man

We have a really, really nice Sensei at Beckwith Dojo.  She made Essy a giant Judo cookie for being the student able to do hold a wall sit the longest.  She beat both her older brothers.  Epic.
Rayven, you are a lovely.


Just in case you were wondering, Gabe's EV team, the EV Pioneers, now has a working race car, which may or may not have breaks apparently.... The team will be a the EV car show in Kemptville in two weeks and then at an EV race in Connecticut by mid May.  It's a busy month for Gabe, but it's been a huge learning experience.  All I have to say is where is your helmet???

Braden Syrup for Sale

We are finishing the season here and we can a few litres left for sale, with a few on hold already.  Get your order in!
$8/half L
Syrup brought to you by Gabe Braden Maple product, inc.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Homeschooling Through High School

Why I believe the Bible - Voddie Baucham

This is one of the best videos I have found to clearly summarize the historical legitimacy of the Bible. It's not a defence of personal faith, which is one of its strengths, actually.  I also just like Voddie.  He is what Chris Rock would be, you know, if he was a pastor...and didn't swear all the time.

Saturday, April 7, 2018


The Bradens are games people.  Cards, Othello, Chess... and I am really thankful that they are because I am not a games-people-person and that is apparently not very good.  Board games and  especially strategy games are supposed to be super good for you.  They make your brain work, they teach consequences, they stave off dementia, they teach you have to be a graceful winner and a gracious loser.

See Dr Stuart Brown's Ted Talk: Play is more than just fun

Here is this morning's (very) early Othello match: