Julie Walter

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since Jul 16, 2015
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homeschooling kids homestead
London, Ontario, Canada
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Recent posts by Julie Walter

Hi All,
Wanted to follow up my previous post, because I realized today that I got Honey Locust and Black Locust confused!  The Flowers in the following picture are BLACK LOCUST (edible and yummy).

Julie Walter wrote:The flowers are edible, and DELICIOUSLY sweet!

The flowers from Honey Locust look like this (and aren't edible)

So sorry for any confusion...
10 months ago
My three children were all born within the same week...we call it birthday week.  We throw a big birthday bash for the three of them each year!  I always have them help me choose a theme...which helps me decide on the games and snacks and 'feel' of the party.  I like it to be super 'down home,' waste free, in line with our values, but epic in its own right.  I would start your planning with what your son loves.  Our parties have had the following themes: superheroes, lego, carnival, spies, trains, olympic games.  I have been surprised at what my children remember most from our parties.  It seems that it is the dramatic ideas, tiny details and overall feel of the day that make it magic, so they are what will stick with a child.

Great, easy, no waste games include: potato sack (feed bag) races, egg and spoon races, relay races where you need to change clothes/accessories at the end of the row, how many socks can you put on challenge (adults can wear mittens to level the playing field), scavenger hunt, treasure hunt (following a set of sequenced clues to find a treat...everyone can win if you have different sets of clues for each team and the prize was enough for everyone), water relay (carry water in a small cup to fill a bucket, team with most water at the end wins), obstacle course, three-legged races, etc.  Unless your child does not like competition, in which case this would be a terrible idea!  I try to choose games I can adapt in some way to support my overall theme.  For example, we did a variety of races at the superheroes party, where children earned a 'badge' at each stage for completion, so it wasn't a competition.  I broke it up into different skills they would need to be a good superhero, and explained at each station what they were learning and how (ie - agility at an obstacle course).  I love drama!

If you wanted to go with a nature theme, you could hang nature items around your home using twine, or if the party is outdoors, decorate the trees.  Have guests bring some things from where they live to use to decorate your space together.  We have made communal mobiles during solstice celebrations and hung them from tree branches.  They are beautiful made of pine cones, feathers, leaves, evergreen boughs, etc.)

If you live in a place with lots of natural materials, a 'nature's tea party' theme could be really fun.  Adorning your child (and yourselves!) with nature crowns or sashes is a wonderful activity.  It makes for wonderful photographs as well.  If your child likes to build forts or shelters make one as a group using sticks, sheets, or whatever and decorate it too.  If your child doesn't like building forts, you could prepare this ahead of time.  Tiny details are what make special events magical for children, like using twink-lights inside the fort, or candles, or flower petals or even special 'sashes' to tie back the 'door.'  You could host the 'tea party' inside it!   The tea party could include adornments of edible flowers (not sure where you're from, but violets are in season now here and would be lovely to decorate the table or plates, or the top of a cookie).  Guests could bring a favourite tea, teacups, or teapot to use.  Part of the party could be a 'sweets decorating' buffet, where you use cookies or small cakes and have each person decorate their own...children LOVE to decorate edible things :). We don't eat refined sugar, so if it were for our gang, we might decorate with cocoa-avocado-honey icing (you could leave out the cocoa in one batch to make green like grass!), raisins, nuts, dates, etc. to keep with the nature theme.

Can you tell that I LOVE planning parties??

A party becomes special because of the people who attend, the care that goes into planning and executing the details, the honouring of your son with presence and the memories made with the magic that is created when all of these things are combined!  
Have a wonderful day with your son and family <3
10 months ago
The flowers are edible, and DELICIOUSLY sweet!

10 months ago
We have repurposed buckets with tight lids for storage of dry goods in our damp basement with mice.  We got them from the local ice cream seller so they are food grade.  We use the same buckets in our barn and have had rats chew through the lid of our fermenting chicken feed, but no rodent infiltration within the house. We haven't had any trouble, but we make sure everything is very dry when we put it by.  Adding something to absorb moisture is also a good idea, like a small spice/muslin/jute bag filled with rice.

Wishing you a bountiful harvest!
10 months ago
I LOVE Aurora!  
10 months ago
We have been trying to forge relationships with other homeschoolers who have similar values to us. We do not host them at our place, since we're presently only on 1/2 acre. Hosting at your own home can be stressful. We were part of a playgroup where the hosting mother said that it was unnerving for her to prepare for the rest of us to come, since she had to get all caught up on everything (laundry, dishes, tidying) in order for the play group to happen. In the case of outdoor education, there may be things that need to be attended to before a group of children can come to the farm. What we are doing is adopting a 'forest school' model. I have a close friend who works at a year round children's camp, so they are hosting my family as well as a number of other families with similar values every other week. the site has a forest garden and earth ship greenhouse!

Meeting with the same group of people over and over again lets you build deep and meaningful relationships. Having a variety of groups peal through means you're constantly reestablishing important norms for physical and emotional safety. It depends on what you feel your purpose is. If it is to share the message of permaculture with as many people as possible, churn the groups through! If the intent is more to build a sense of community, belonging and purpose, than smaller regular meetings make more sense. In this vein...the art of mentoring work, forest school models and coyote's guide mentoring all lend themselves well to teaching permaculture in an life-learning fashion with community building at the heart of the action.
4 years ago
I think the best thing for 12 year old children to DO is actually think up things for themselves to do. The biggest struggle for children of that age is wanting to 'fit in.' Add to that the social conditioning of the school system, and children are all too happy to do what we tell them to do. If we can teach them the principles of permaculture, and have them apply them in creative ways...then we're really getting somewhere! Perhaps having some brainstorming sessions...one for each of the principles? What are ways they can apply those in their home life, school life, community life? With a bit of scaffolding around what the principles look like in action, you might be surprised at how many ideas they can come up with themselves! I believe this approach would be really teaching permaculture...creative solutions My question would actually be, what couldn't a 12 year old do?!
4 years ago

John Weiland wrote:If I truly had nearly unlimited funds over many years towards making lasting change in permaculture I would put it into the best, most validated programs for child abuse prevention. More than anything else, the data point to non-nurturing rearing environments as the root cause of internal hostility that turns outward,.....to those closest to us, to our communities and other humans, but often even before that, to a natural world that often can't or won't fight back. Conversely, nurtured children tend to want to pay it forward as adults, generally encompassing the non-human as well as human world under that umbrella.

This is a wonderful vision...where underprivileged youth could be given a solid grounding in permaculture, a way forward, and some real tangible learning to go forward with and act upon with little funds. Love it! It reminds me of Pandora Thomas' work with Pathways to Resilience ( https://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2014-12/pandora-thomas-responding-prison-industrial-complex-permaculture-and-resil )

For us, part of Permaculture is about dropping out of the money game...finding a way to live that doesn't rely upon man-made systems. But the idea of having millions to spend on something which survives and thrives on so little has me wondering how hoards of money could be used for a catalyst for change. I feel there is great importance in retaining the permaculture principles in the way the money is used. Keeping a systems approach, where the money wouldn't be depleated, but regenerative instead. Investing in programs and ideas that were start ups and could grow exponentially from their startup investments...because of the merit of the program, not the funding. Throwing money at things rarely works. And I could see this being especially true for permie projects. So I'm thinking through what the ingredients would be for a successful start-up...because the money is only the match, you still need the kindling and logs to keep the fire going!
5 years ago
We have been thinking a lot about what we could do to promote permaculture, forest gardening and holistic management if we were to win millions of dollars in the lottery. How could we raise awareness of permacultre? How best to promote permie projects? How to insight real and lasting change? The thought of it has our imaginations running wild...start a land trust, alternative school funding, relief work, grants for farm starts, free publications...

So what would YOU do for permaculture if you had millions?
5 years ago
Great April Fool's joke! But it has got us thinking over here...what WOULD we do with millions of dollars and a permaculture mission? I think I'll start a new thread to explore this idea...
5 years ago