Back to School on San Juan Island

Here’s where I miss being part of a bigger community. We have friends who are going to participate in the Village Home program in Oregon this year. From what I can tell, they’re all homeschooling families and the school isn’t really a school but more of a resource center where families are private consumers of educational offerings. She write about it on her unschooling website at Gypsymom.com. I like the idea that the courses aren’t required, families can opt in and opt out of whatever they’re interested in. You can choose to take one or two classes or you can choose an entire schedule. Classes run in one hour increments with about 15 minutes in between classes, so there’s plenty of time to be social, grab a snack, visit the restroom or even all of the above.

I think this is a more effective model of education that takes into account the fact that kids sleep patterns are important (classes start at 9:30 and you don’t have to take morning classes if you don’t want to). It also takes into account the fact that it’s not necessary to count and monitor every bit of information that children are exposed to. VH doesn’t stick to some random and arbitrary required philosophy or curriculum. Courses are offered, described and families can take it or leave it.

I wish the rest of the education world would take a clue from this simple philosophy.


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Vacation season is coming for SJI residents


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Now that our glorious summer is coming to an end, a lot of us SJI residents are wondering where we’ll go for our winter getaway. I just ordered a copy of Top 10 Warm Weather Getaways: Your guide to finding the best places to escape the cold and I’m hoping to find something the whole family can enjoy. We’re usually busy through New Year’s and kinda need most of January to recover so I’m hoping to plan a trip for February some time. Last year I didn’t have a passport and missed an invitation to Vancouver BC but now I can look at INternational destinations and I’m so excited that it might become a reality.

This year, though, if I can’t arrange to have the kids with me I will end up going somewhere alone. I need to check my official divorce paperwork to see what the dates are. I’m definitely leaving the country, I can’t believe I’ll be 39 and haven’t done it yet. Shame on me. I got Travel Tips For The Independent Traveler for my kindle and hopefully it will inspire me to just do it. What about you? What are your travel plans this winter?


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The end of tourist season

The lavender festival is over and it’s the end of tourist season here on the San Juan’s. 2013 was a good year for our family, for a thousand different reasons. This fall I’m looking forward to an adults-only tropical getaway. I’ve been a mom for 20 years now and this will be the first such trip, I can’t wait. You’d think that island living would be tropical by nature but here in the Pacific Northwest it’s really not tropical at all. I prefer it here, I’d probably almost never want to live in a tropical area, but whatever. I still like to visit.

So do you have any travel plans coming up soon?


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Invoking higher powers

Last night, I fell asleep imagining we were home in San Juan Island.  I strolled through my garden pathways overlooking the Pacific. I could see Vancouver, fiddleneck ferns, and moss growing on the edge of my pavers.  Inside, I had a vaulted ceiling with a trapeze and room to practice hula hooping tricks, even in inclement weather.  In my dream, I was giving my friend a tour of the gardens and catching up on the events of the past few years.  For just a few minutes, I was home.  What a way to start the new year.  I pray that by the time summer rolls around, I can give that garden tour.


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Composting with Worms

I’ve been reading about this because our gardening soil here in Central WA sucks, it’s got a lot of clay in it and my carrots were short, everything else was… blah. Anyway, I wasn’t impressed. I had a small compost and I’m thinking that I need to start a bigger one. I know we plan to move, but a girl who gardens can’t just STOP because she won’t be here in the Spring. What if something goes wrong and I am here, without compost. So I’ll get my new, bigger compost going. What else is there to do in the fall, especially now that we’re eating more raw foods, we have more veggie scraps now than before.

I plan to do a revised version of the rubbermaid composting bins that Sam from Sailing the Hudson made following the wisdom of the amazing Mark and Bentley Christie’s guide to getting started.

I have to say, though, that I don’t plan to buy worms. Worms are like, magnetically drawn to compost bins. I have had a million compost piles over the past 16 years of marriage and motherhood and I have never had a problem attracting worms. They don’t need to be trapped or confined, they don’t want to escape and they reproduce quite nicely.

So I plan to build the compost bin and then just toss in worms from the garden whenever I find them. That has always worked in the past.

Winter is no big deal, the compost generates enough heat to keep them alive, plus mine is in the ground, so they can just go a little deeper to get warm if they need to.


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