Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monday Morsels (on Tuesday)

After six straight days of rain last week the sun finally came out and we've been making the most of it.  It seems like we had a very long, late winter, that suddenly turned into summer, never mind with spring.  We're rolling with it.  We had a sunny, hot Memorial Day weekend, including our first swim of the season (4 out of 5 of us) at a friends' pool.  Hoping to dip into the lake soon.  

Kale and Juniper got good and muddy when the sun first came out last week, then all the kids had a great time getting clean afterwards.  We filled the tub on the deck--and since we have only one stopper (shared between the inside tub and out) the kids have declared all tubbies will happen outside until fall.  Showers too.  


We broke the outside only rule for Kale in a desperate attempt to rescue him from the black flies.  Poor baby.  If anyone knows of a natural bug spray that works please let me know.  

Rob and the kids headed to the parade while I stayed home to work in the garden.  

Last year we* cleared an area for a garden and actually had an excavator come and take care of the stumps and roots--so we're putting in a big garden and growing a lot of things we've never tried before.  I may have gotten a little over ambitions but I'm hoping to have this garden pay for itself in a few years--and feed us all summer and have a lot to put up as well.  

*(Rob did the chainsaw work while I directed and kept the kids away from falling trees.)  

Some of the first time crops this year are potatoes (below), asparagus, brussels sprouts, onions, cabbage, broccoli (I've tried this before but have never been successful), peppers, and watermelon.  We're also growing peas, carrots, tomatoes, beets, kale, chard, lettuce, spinach, basil, cilantro, squash, winter squash, garlic, pumpkins and beans.    

I'm psyched right now that everything is finally growing and most of it is in the ground, but I have a feeling I may be kicking myself come harvest time.  

*  We got to visit some friend's goats the other day--they have two new babies.  I think I may like to have milk goats sometime when my kids are older.

*  My sister got two piglets, for meat, Hansel is the pink one, the brown one is his sister Gretel.

*  Chicken Killer:  Guilty as charged.

Marley got one of our chicks on Friday.  It was fairly gruesome and pretty sad for the kids.  As sad as it was it was nice to see the way Wylie and Juniper rallied together afterward, making a card for the chick and a gravestone, and sharing secrets the rest of the evening.

*  We've been swinging up a storm here.  Some of the favorite pushes are twisted sister, shoulder holder over the boulder, the wonder under, and the goody footie.  Its funny, before I had kids I hated pushing kids on the swing.  Even when Wylie was a baby and it was just him, pushing a swing was akin to slow torture.  Now, I kinda get into the sport of it (inventing favorite, daring pushes) and also revel in the ease of just pushing, while everyone sits happily, contained for a few moments.

*  Look Ma, No teeth!

* Kale never misses a chance to "drive" a tractor.  

Have a great week.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The View from Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Homeschool Thursday: Unschooling Science

Shakin' things up a bit and moving our homeschool Tuesday to Thursdays.

We have math and history curricula that we follow loosely, and we use copy work and poem memorization for literature and handwriting skills, but for science we have always unschooled.  Wylie is passionate about all things mechanical and electrical, and Juniper and I love nature study so it has always been really easy for us to just do science, without having to think about it.  I also have always loved the scientific method of hypothesizing, experimenting, and observation and we started a lab journal of our experiments when Wylie was quite little.  Here's a bit of science we've been exploring recently:

Nature study

Wylie and Juniper knocked these old wasps nests down from the barn (they were from last year).  We read about paper wasps and how they build their nests and raise their young.  Wylie was afraid to touch any of them himself, but with him looking on I dissected the nests and we found the spaces for the eggs inside, and even a few young wasps that had died before emerging.  Pretty cool.  

We've all been enjoying our bog walk lately, and identifying a few flowers blooming there now.  Wild Rhododendron, High bush blueberry, as well as wild iris, "fairy cup" lichen, and Cranberries!  I've been so excited since Rob first spotted these a couple of weeks ago.  I've been brainstorming all kinds of ways to use them, and looking into how to harvest in the fall.

Physical Science

 A neighbor gave Wylie an old computer a few weeks ago.  He's been ripping it apart and putting it back together like a jigsaw puzzle ever since.  This week he disassembled the fan from within and hooked it up with alligator clips to some batteries.  It worked!  Just this afternoon I came out on the porch to find this (above) heavy pottery jug swinging from the dog leash.  I was mid sentence, "what are you doing, that's breakable--" when I stopped long enough to realize he'd built a scale and was seeing how many rocks it would take to lift the jug.  Nothing broke.

I'm realizing that in order to homeschool well I need to give my kids the benefit of the doubt.  I need to not shout "your going to break that!" each time I find something dangling precariously, and to bite my tongue when paints are being spilled across the table, or the baby is climbing 12ft. up to the tree house.  Sometimes I need to just follow quietly behind to make sure no one gets hurt.

In reality though, it can be really hard when I've been with my kids all day, every day for the past 4 or 5 days, with very little time off, to be patient and find the teachable moments. Since starting this blog I've found that keeping the camera nearby throughout the day helps me to freeze time a bit and reflect afterward on the things we've been doing.  Occasionally I'll take a picture of something and only in looking at it afterward realize some of the learning that was happening in the frame.  Staying at home with your kids there's no boss to tell you how well you're doing.  Sometimes seeing it in print is sort of like validation--look we did do something!  I like to think that in 5 yrs. I'll be able to think back to this time period, and see the whole picture, along with the many smaller one's I've taken, and realize all the little things we've learned along the way.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Morsels

After posting last week's "nuggets" ala dig this chic I kept thinking that "nuggets" are really not the right word for me.  Instead of invoking an image of golden treasure I'm reminded of  processed chicken.  Eventually, I thought of Morsels.  Mimi, my mom, always calls her grandbabies "morsel", as in "ooh you little Morsel I could just eat you up!"  To me morsel brings to mind tasty tidbits, crumbs, and chocolate chip cookies.
And so I bring you a new tradition, Monday Morsels-- tiny little bites of goodness from the previous week (with the occasional egg shell no doubt) to gobble up or savor as you see fit.  Enjoy!


* Last week (just before Rob left for his trip) Kale climbed over the gate at the bottom of the stairs.  Naturally, being useless it has been removed.  After two days of crawling up the stairs Kale switched to an almost regular walking, one step at a time, up the stairs.  The first time Wylie noticed him doing this he called to me, "Mom, look he's climbing like a real boy!"

*A day later (Rob still gone) Kale climbed easily up the ladder into the top bunk.  Wylie and I took the ladder down, and Kale proceeded to climb right up the end of the bunk beds, hardly noticing the missing ladder. Monkey, monkey, .monkey ...

* Juniper, with her new short haircut has begun to embrace things other than pink and pretty--which thrills me to know end.  She has begun wearing Wylie's hand-me-down Converse style sneakers, which are black with skateboarding skeletons.  These couldn't look better than they do when she pairs them with a long, tiered skirt, and pink ruffled tank.  The kid's got style.  Also notice the beetle tattoo.  Love that.  Last week she complained, "Mama, I have no pants.  All I have are these pink ones, I'm not wearing pink pants".  Keep in mind this child has worn little else except pink dresses for the past three years.  I guess a trip to Good Will is in order.

* Grampy (Rob's dad) came up to visit on Friday, and since his motorcycle broke and he can't leave, we get to keep him for a few days.  He is builder extraordinaire, so naturally we're keeping him busy.  So far the camper has a new cabinet, the mailbox has been fixed (got hit by a plow earlier this year), and a new, built in couch is in the works!  This last one I"m particularly excited about since I've been scheming of how to build this myself since last fall.

* The beech trees have completely leafed out making them even better for climbing.

* Despite almost no sun there are a few things growing.

Here's to  a good week, and maybe even a bit of sun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I've been a single parent for the last five days and during that time I also competed in our local triathlon. Guess which was harder?  My mom did come up to help, which was great because I'm not sure we all would have made it through unscathed without her.  Rob goes away a couple times a year, but five days is long for us.  Kudos to all those single parents, or parents whose partners leave long/often, who somehow manage to raise loving children without going insane in the process.

The triathlon turned out to be really fun.  The swim portion of the race was in the pool so we started in several different waves.  This made the race so much less competitive (in my opinion) because I never really knew who started when.  And, it was great to see so many people I knew.  There were some people from around town who I didn't realize were athletes, and they were fast!  My own time was not real impressive (not surprising given my lax training schedule) but I feel good about it, and am excited to have a time to race against for next year.  Also, I realized that, like many things, the anticipation is way worse than the actual event.  I was really nervous the morning of, but once I started I just enjoyed myself.  (In all honesty I never really enjoy myself  on the bike, but I'm working on that.)  Anyway, since it was so fun I may do another at the end of the summer.

To steal a phrase from digthischick  (a great blog a friend turned me onto) here are a few Nuggets from the past week while I've been so silent:


The weather here has pretty much been lousy.  Winter hats and mittens in mid-May.  What the heck?  It was so windy early last week that a tree blew down in our yard.  Unfortunately it was the one our clothesline was attached too.  Bummer.  At least there was no laundry on it.

Chicabiddies got a new home around the raspberries.  A friend swears this is the best way to keep the berries weed and pest free.  So far they're loving it.

 Family bike rides, in the rain (we kinda got tired of waiting for the sun).

 What do you do when it rains for 5 days straight?  Lots of baking and tasting.

The triathlon was a blast, and it didn't actually rain for more than a few minutes.  I don't have any pictures of me participating, but hopefully someone will send me some soon.

Mimi brought up new beach towels for all.  She mentioned the fact that I am still using the towel she got me in high school.  I guess it is time for a new one.  She also brought toys for the kids (as Juniper says "that Mimi is always up to mischief") Including this early birthday (perhaps a half-birthday) present for Kale.  It was supposed to distract him from the fact that I would be gone all morning at my race--he doesn't like when I leave (this is an obvious understatement, and of course the firetruck didn't really work) he likes it but seems a little suspicious of our motivations.

Rhubarb shortcake.  (The photo doesn't do it justice, clearly my food photography needs some work.)

We "made" (bought a curtain rod and draped some fabric over it) a curtain to cover our art/school shelves.  I love how something so quick can make such a difference in the clutter of a room.

Here's a bit of what it looked like before the curtain.

The kids have been going to Tanglewood Wilderness 4-H camp for the past few Mondays.  Last Monday Wylie was a bit sick so Juniper went on her own.  She seems to really have enjoyed her time there without him and can't stop talking about some of the boys and how funny they are.  She's even considering marrying Jack, "since I can't marry Oliver because he's my cousin, and even if we got married we couldn't have babies because of the genes."  That's homeschooling for you--we keep it real around here.  And, I believe her first non-cousin crush.

Have a great week!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother's Day: 

  • An early morning run while the rest of the house slept (I love running this time a day, and it hardly ever works out.  It was the perfect way to start Mother's Day.)
  • Breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Chase's Daily.  
  • Rob and the kids surprised me with a plum tree decorated with all the things they love about Mama. 
  • We planted an apple tree for Kale, and buried his placenta beneath it (yes its been in the freezer for 17 months).
  • Handmade cards
  • The tulips bloomed and the birches leafed out
  • Our first harvest of the year--rhubarb
  • A Mother's day email from my own mother--I'm still trying to put into words my response to such a lovely message.  
  • Lots of digging in the garden
  • Soccer on the greening grass
Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day!

If you still haven't sent a card to your favorite mother, check out blunt cards.  My personal favorite is "Cake Time".  I typically try to keep it PG around here, so you'll have to check that one out yourself--its a hoot.