Monday, 7 July 2014

Outdoor Play Spaces and our Gardens

It is about time I updated you all on our outdoor spaces.  Now I hope this doesn't come off as boasting.  I just wanted to give a tour of the yard.  It looks like it's going to be a big post with lots of pictures.  I'll be showing you our most recent round of musical rooms shortly (once I tidy enough for photos).

Being outside is very important to us, and for the boys.  They spend time (as much as we can) outside every day year round.  In the front yard we have a rope swing that often has either the button swing or the handle bars.  I still remember the baby swing being up, my how time flies.  Attached to this tree is a rope that serves as a net for badminton and to hold up any tents, along with being a clothes line for wet swim shorts.  At the base of this tree is the fairy house.  This year it is called the outdoor super fun house, or something like that as the boys aren't as much into fairies any more.  Instead we brought out all the Playmobil and set it up around the base of the tree.

The front yard also has a large sandbox with pulleys in the rafters.  It has been used so much over the years.  One year we asked all our family to contribute towards my hubby building this as a joint birthday gift for the boys.  Thank you all!!

The new shed is just wonderful for storing all the toys and garden equipment.  We used to have toys piled all over or hidden behind bushes.  We have balls, rackets, bubbles, skipping ropes, bikes, scooters...

Next to the shed is the swing set.  The slide was removed when we moved it from the backyard as it was cracked.  It could be better secured into the ground, but has seen much use.  I'm so thrilled my sister and brother-in-law gave it to us.  It was in their backyard when they bought their house.

Across the laneway is a wonderful area.  We have a balance beam, tree stumps, a tree sump table, outdoor play kitchen, rope bridge and climber.  Last year we tried to put in a garden but it was too shady.  The rhubarb is still happy here so we have left it and care for it and some potatoes.  The forest is part of a provincial trail.  We love walking along all the trails right out our front door.  The boys also have made stick houses and climb on fallen trees.  One tree is their pet "tiger/lion" that they feed.

Now on to the back yard.  Back here each boy has his own garden.  TJ and I built his together and he picked out all the plants.  There are a few potatoes in he it again this year.  He is so proud of his garden.  MJ wanted a garden too so he has taken over one of the side flower beds.  He's added his own plants, potatoes and decorations.  I help them both with weeding and watering if it's been a while.
We have a trampoline and lots of water toys in the back.  The water table, sprinkler, kiddie pool and slip-n-slide are mostly used here near the hose connection and sun.

We haven't been in the rocky part near the cliff much this year.  Mostly because there are so many fallen tree branches from the winter storms in the way.  We also know that our friendly groundhogs live there and we don't want to disturb them.  In the past they were too shy because of our neighbour's dog.  But he passed away and they are out all the time enjoying our clover.  I know we have lots of raspberries down there so we'll venture down there next week for some picking.

Vegetable gardens are so much fun for us.  We are caring for our veggies more than half the year from early spring to late fall.  In the past we only had a plot at the community garden up the street.  Last year not much happened at the house because the garden was too shady near the forest.  This year we tried an unused sunny slope.  This is our viney patch!!  We have pumpkins, squash, zucchini, cucumber, potato, tomato, sunflowers, mint, and beans.  So far there are a few zucchinis almost ready to harvest, two baby pumpkins and so cherry tomatoes starting to grow.

We just love to visit our community garden plot.  We are so blessed that the church up the street opened this opportunity to everyone.  We have had our plot for three years now.  Everyone knows my hard working boys.  They help to fill the plots with dirt each spring and close down the beds in the late fall.  They plant with me, water the veggies, snack on the produce and play in the dirt piles.  We have met so many lovely people too. This year I'm trying out squarefoot gardening and doing a bit of succession planting in there too.  I will likely rearrange where I plant things next year, but it is going well.  Anything we tried to transplant early on didn't take, but all is well now.  We started planting at the end of april so our peas are huge and some carrots should be ready soon.  I have lettuce to share (Please take some!!!) and the radishes have already be eaten and enjoyed.  Often we will come and garden then go across the street to the playground.  It was a wonderful experience for our daycare children too when we did that.

So there you have it, the outside tour of our home.  In writing this all down I've fallen more in love with our location.  The view is breathtaking!  In the backyard you can see from Toronto around and over to Hamilton.  We appear to be in the country, yet we are actually on the boarder of two cities.  Yes we have more work to do: grass, deck, fixing water drainage issues, front porch, much needed sheds and garage space... but we are getting there one project at a time.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Alphabet Adventures E-H

This summer we are working through the alphabet.  These past two weeks we have been doing the letters E - H.  You can read more about the letters A-D here.

I'll admit we've gotten a little off track recently.  The weather has been great and there are so many fun places to go.  We are still bringing in each letter into our day, but now as deeply as I had originally planed.  Luckily we are actually focusing on them throughout the year with our fairy tale stories and activities.

E - When discussing the letter E we made letters out of all sorts of objects.  Then the boys spelled their names.  It was interesting to notice that TJ on his own wrote his name backwards, MJ and I worked together so his name was mostly the right way round.

F - for the letter F we made lots of sounds, played games to think of words that started with F.  TJ and I also came up with a words that started with each letter of the alphabet.

TJ has been keeping up with his workbook, but his alphabet book is getting a bit behind, along with the stories and movements (basically we've been sort of doing circle time in the car).

We did find an amazing library book, several great letter ones.  Alphabet Everywhere by Kaufman shows photos of each letter from the alphabet found in nature or the city.  For example A is the side shot of a ladder, D is the shape of a mall door handle, J is an umbrella handle, F is part of a fence.... I'm feeling inspired to do something similar.

G - this letter has been a tricky one for TJ when writing on his own.  He tends to write is upside down so it looks more like an "e".

H - for the letter H the boys drew on the chalk board.  The were a bit better about writing in their workbooks. MJ is so excited to have a big kid book like his brother (I got one of those all-in-one school work books from the book store).  TJ tried sounding out more words while we were reading.

Oh we also started piano with the boys.  We are using some books my sister found on Amazon.  She is a music teacher and is also introducing the piano to her daughter.  It's cute that all the cousins are doing the same thing.  Our music book has Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear who introduce the different musical concepts to the kids.  The boys loved it.