Teaching Risk Assessment to Children

by the rocket's red glare

by the rocket’s red glare

Do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph fireworks?

Do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph fireworks?

It was a very nice Fourth.

We have a tradition where I come from, maybe you do too – right around Independence Day we share stories about this and that kid we know or heard of who lost a finger or an eye or a hand because he mishandled fireworks.  The story I had to add this year was tragic.  The only possible good that can come of it is as a word of caution to my children about the dangers of alcohol, youth, foolishness, and explosives.

My husband and I try to explain to our boys that sometimes young people make foolish and dangerous decisions because they don’t accurately assess the risks (and benefits) of their actions.  So we ask the boys to work through it with us: “What bad things could happen?  How likely is that to happen?  Are there things we can do reduce the chances of bad things happening? In light of the possible consequences and how likely those consequences might be, is the benefit we might receive still worth it?”

And very often, the risk is worth taking.  We climb high trees (and sometimes the woodshed roof) and hike along ravines and walk barefoot in the grass and have great big bonfires that we like to poke with sticks.  We’ve thought about the risks involved with these activities, devised plans to minimize those risks, and we truly enjoy the benefits.

I try to have them practice assessing risks for themselves, but they are young and I am the mom and I still sometimes overrule and they just have to trust that I am wiser than they are and that I love them and that I’m really not the meanest mommy in the world.  Or not, but they still have to obey me.

I know it’s not just my boys who have a wild daredevil streak.  I don’t want to break them, but I want them to learn to harness and train that adventurous spirit.  I want them to live long enough to do truly risky things.

It occurs to me now that there are also risks that we might choose to take in which failure is almost certain, but conscience demands that we go forward anyway.  Another topic for another day.  Maybe.    

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Saying Grace

Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.






Filed under chickens, meat chickens

Chicks, Bees and Preachy Preachy

There’s snow today.  I picked up 32 chicks yesterday:  20 cornish cross for meat, 6 rhode island reds and 6 ameraucanas for eggs.  The heat lamps are on them but in these temps, I’m still worried.  They’re in their own stalls in a former dog kennel inside the barn.  It’s pretty snug, but I’ll go add some kind of wrap around the stalls in a little while for my own peace of mind.

I also don’t know what this sudden drop in temperature means for the bees.  I assume they’ll just hunker down for the day, staying in the center of the hive to keep warm.  I’ll top off the sugar water later.

I don’t know why I’ve been so blessed.  I have everything I’ve ever asked for though it doesn’t all look like what I thought it would.

When I realized that life is good, I also learned that it is short.  Friends and relations gone and scattered, bridges burned, and no going back.  I’m not sure what my point is.  Call your mother.  Play checkers with your kids.  Smile at your husband.  Forgive.  Be happy whenever you can.  Do something inconvenient to make someone happy.

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April 23, 2015 · 9:35 am

Our First Bees

The daffs are starting to bloom, there’s not speck of snow anywhere around and our bees are here.

We picked up our nucleus hive on Sunday night, not getting home until almost 10 pm.  We climbed the two hills to the pond using a flash light because I didn’t want us to fall with a carton of live bees in our hands.  My husband placed the nuc on top of the hive with the entrance facing the same direction that the entrance of the hive faces.  Then I pulled out the plug, a bunch of bees bubbled out, and I ran away.  From a safe distance my husband watched them scramble back in.

We could have waited up to a week to install the frames into the hive, but I was worried about leaving the waxed cardboard box out in the rain that we’re supposed to be getting all week.  So I waited for a break in the weather yesterday and got to work.

I had watched several youtube videos and read a few books to learn how to do this bee thing but I was not prepared for what I found when I opened the nuc.  First of all, even using the smoker, the bees were not amused.  I got chased and yes, I scurried several feet away until they calmed down. Also, there was a lot of comb connecting all the frames to each other across the top and to the cardboard along the sides.  I’ve since emailed the folks I bought it from to ask if this is normal but I haven’t heard back from them yet.  I cut through the excess comb with my pocket knife and I lifted each frame out, scared out of my mind that I was going to crush a bee or get stung by one.  I have a tool that could have helped with lifting them out but I foolishly thought it was unnecessary and left it at the house.  I was so nervous and confused and couldn’t figure out how to hold onto the frame that I didn’t even inspect them.

And then I did the terrible, no good, very bad thing.  I dropped a frame on the grass and lost a few bees.  All I can do is pray the queen wasn’t among them.  The hive is still humming. Yesterday I watched bees coming back to the hive loaded with pollen so I’m hopeful.

I’ve been feed the bees a sugar syrup and they seem to dig that.  And I haven’t been stung yet.  Part of me thinks it might be better to get it over with so I can just get used to it but my bees are too nice so far.

Tomorrow I go to pick up the new chicks!


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Connections and Knitting

Have you ever visited a far away state and then when you get home you keep seeing license plates from that state?  I’ve been told it’s only because you’ve become more aware.  Maybe.  But I think that only means that those connections are always there and we just need to become aware of them.  It makes me emotional when I find a new-to-me author referencing a writer I already hold dear.  I get excited when a blogger I love loves another blogger I love.  The interconnectedness of things.  I  can’t explain it – sometimes there’s a feeling of supernatural specialness in the continuity of life, in history.

This week I read a book called Lotte’s Locket by Virginia Sorensen.  Nice children’s book – I enjoyed it.  It takes place in post-war Denmark.  The main character is a babyboomer.  I think she’d be in her sixties now.  Anyway, now every time I turn around there’s something about Denmark.  A book reference, a blog, a trivia question.  It makes me laugh and I wish someone else were in on the joke with me. IMG_5921 You know I homeschool my children, right?  And you know I ascribe to the philosophy and apply the methods of Charlotte Mason?  And you know that I have recently fallen in love with the writings of Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I never would have thought books about knitting could be so full of the special interconnectedness of things.  Today I was reading from her book Knitting Around and came across a connection so wonderful to me that I tried to share it with all the people around me – none of whom understood why I was shouting and flapping my arms.  Mrs. Zimmerman grew up in England in the early twentieth century and for a time was educated at home by governesses.

They both taught by the method of Charlotte Mason, who had some kind of a school and governess-training institution at Ambleside in the Lake District.

She goes on to explain exactly how she felt about what we call narrating, which is telling back in one’s own words the bit of literature one has just heard.  I’m sorry to say she seems to have enjoyed it about as much as my oldest child does.  But it doesn’t seem to have done her any harm.

But wait!  There’s more!  Mrs. Zimmerman also lived for a short time in the very neighborhood I grew up in.  In fact, I believe my grandmother raised her family just around the corner from where Elizabeth and her husband rented the attic of an old house.  Of course my grandmother was married in 1949, eight years after the Zimmerman’s left that place.

I was knitting my first sweater and the dog ate it.  Yes, it’s true.  I was using inexpensive yarn as a test run and that’s probably what saved the dog’s life that day.  Since then I’ve been futzing around with different things trying to see what I feel like doing.  A woman at homeschool co-op gifted me some truly lovely things from her stash.  Not enough of any one thing for a big project but enough of each to indulge in a little soothing yarn therapy.  I really want to do something in the round right now so I’ve been retiring to bed early to read and to try to figure out a circular shawl.  And you know what that means – the dreaded Double Pointed Needles of Doom.  I’ve already frogged back started over several times – once after already starting on the circulars.  Le sigh.

starting over again

starting over again

So, that’s my rambling contribution to Ginny’s Yarn Along.  You should go see what some of the other people are rambling about.

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Filed under books, general, knitting, yarn, Yarn Along

The Best of Times


a shared chocolate mousse moose cake

We got bees acomin'!

We got bees acomin’!


planning the last six weeks of school

hammering home the basics

hammering home the basics

Easter craftiness

Easter craftiness

Some people start their new year on January first, while others think the start of the school year in September is more logical.  For me, the beginning of new things is obviously spring – new projects, new homes, new plans generally start then.  And I’m blessed to have been born at the best of times, during the rebirth of the earth  – or at least of the northern hemisphere.  The light is changing, the mud is here, and it only snowed once this week – thank God.


Filed under baking, bees, birthday, general, homeschool, photos

Children and Adults Get Creative

They say spring is coming.

Springtime in western New York?

Springtime in western New York?

And that means I need a place to put my seedlings. So I had to move a piece of furniture. Which necessitated the moving of another piece of furniture. And that meant I HAD to stain it BLUE.


And now I must paint the kitchen.

Yes, teal.

Yes, teal.

Oh the creativity!  Oh the mess!  And while I’m funkifying the kitchen the kids are having their own parties.



tatted up

tatted up

And soon there will be green growing things to play with.


Filed under art, children, cold, craft, outside, paint, photos