Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bits of Summer

On the pond

Morning Sun

Inside and out

Early Harvest

Have a great holiday weekend!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Morsels

We kicked off summer last week with a morning at the lake, a summer solstice potluck at a friend's, and dinner on the beach.  The solstice celebration included capture the flag, a kid's fun run, and vodka watermelon.  Rob and I love making watermelon gimlets in summer with frozen watermelon and vodka in the blender.  Then a friend told us about how watermelon will absorb vodka if a bottle is upended into it.  Sounded good to me--an easy potluck dish sure to please (the adults anyway).  I don't think I got it quite right for the party, but will try again later in the season.  I've since had a few pointers from a friend.  Here's what I'll do differently:  Instead of a half watermelon I'll use a whole melon with a hole drilled in the top.  The bottle of vodka goes right in the hole and should sit for several hours (not half an hour as I first attempted).  Then, when the vodka has been absorbed by the melon remove the bottle and slice.  Be sure to label the watermelon for adults only, or you may have some really silly kiddos running around.
 If anyone has done this successfully I'd love to hear about it.


*  When I first started planting a spent an entire morning building a sand table for Kale, so he'd have something to keep him busy in the garden. We bought nice play sand from the hardware store and collected some guys and trucks for it.  He did like it, but spent most of his time shoveling the sand out of the table into the tomato bed.   It collapsed this week after all that rain (I guess particle board was a poor choice).  I replaced it with this old tub, but hardly had any sand left to fill it.  Then it rained again.  I thought we'd have to buy some more sand-- but, turns out all he needed was a bucket of rainwater.

*  Its our family tradition to celebrate the solstice by staying up until the fireflies are out.  Since we were at a party this was easy, the kids weren't in bed until nearly 10:00 (that's late for us).  The next night we joined some other friends for a campfire and dinner on the beach.  We had such a great time building a fire pit and roasting hot dogs on a stick.  I found some smooth, flat stones for the kids to use as plates--which of course they got a kick out of, but I think I enjoyed it even more than them.

Just before this was taken Kale flipped head first over the log--hence the tight hold on his shirt.
Aren't mothers always multi-tasking?

* Another night up past 9pm, all of which made for some late sleeping children this week (never a bad thing) and therefore some quite mornings for mama.  When the kids do sleep "late" (any time after 7:00) I love to have a quiet shower on the deck.  We do have warm running water, which is necessary since its been in the 50's the past 5 days.

The view from the outdoor shower.

*  We've been moving things around a bit, getting rid of clutter and I even managed to downsize my clothes enough to get rid of my dresser.  It actually just moved across the hall to Wylie's room as he was in real need of a dresser that opened (without tipping over on him).  Without the dresser our bedroom has a nice empty corner just right for a comfy reading chair.  I'm trying to get Rob to agree to moving this chair upstairs.

Rob had it given to him as a "thanks" for helping a friend move.  He loves it.  Me, not so much.  It is fairly comfortable though, making it the perfect thing to move up to the bedroom (and out of the living room).  So far I'm having no luck.  He sits in the brown chair, as its called, most days after work and has a snuggle/tickle time with the kids.  Juniper said, if you put Papa's chair upstairs "he'll get home from work and march right upstairs to sit down".   It doesn't have the same effect written, but it was pretty darn funny when she said it.

self portrait by Wylie
*  We do a lot of camping over the summer, which is generally fun for all of us, but can be challenging at times.  Kids don't really seem to grasp the idea of privacy, particularly in a park setting when everyone is actually in a public place (some adults don't grasp this either).  We've been trying to explain that a campsite is kind of like someone's tiny little yard, and you can wave or say hello, but not walk right onto it and make yourself at home without being invited.  Well, Wylie was doing his best to not invite himself onto our "neighbor's" campsite, which means he was standing right on the edge watching them for an extended time before we realized and made him stop.  Later in the day this same woman walked past our campsite and stopped to say hello.  Wylie wasted no time joining the conversation.
 "I was listening to you talk over there, but I didn't know what the hell you were saying."
Yikes. What to address fist, eavesdropping, admitting to eavesdropping, or swearing at strangers...hmm.  Fortunately the woman didn't blink an eye.  None of us could help but eavesdrop later in the evening as their conversation grew quite loud and included a few more words Wylie hopefully won't add to his repertoire.

*  Kale really loves animals. Max is one of his favorites.  Lu, his sister is less social and doesn't visit often, but Max doesn't miss an opportunity for a cuddle.  This afternoon while sitting and nursing Kale on the porch Max jumped right into my lap.  He curled up on Kale's chest and purred away.  Kale was in his version of toddler heaven.  Lounging on Mama's lap, nursing, with his arm thrown around Max who was purring away.  I wish I had a picture of that one.

* This is the first time I've ever grown pac choy.  It didn't do well.  It stayed really small for a long time, the flea beetles chewed tiny holes in it, and then it bolted.  But, it made some really pretty yellow flowers.  That's more than I can say for the spinach.

Happy Monday!

Friday, June 24, 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."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Morning Muffins--For Audrey

When she saw the pictures of the muffins in the last post my niece Audrey said, "Let's make them now".
So here you go Audrey, cook 'em up.

Gluten Free Morning Muffins:

Preheat oven to 425 F

Mix together:
2c milk
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 c plain yogurt
2 eggs

Mix together in another bowl:
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup white buckwheat flour
3/4 cup blue stone ground buckwheat
1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup of sugar, or some combination of sugar, honey or maple syrup (whichever you prefer)
1 tsp. Xanthan gum
2tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

combine dry with wet and mix well.
Add any combination of fruit and spices as available, approx 1/2 -1 cup fruit
Some of our favorites are:
shredded carrots with nutmeg and cinnamon and 1 tsp. lemon juice
banana with 1 tsp. vanilla (also add 1 tsp. baking powder to dry)
any kind of berries
raspberries with grated lemon zest
diced apple with cinnamon

This should make a dozen normal sized muffins.  Grease the muffin tin well and fill the cups nearly to the top.
Bake at 425 F for 15-20 min.

The batter should be thin, but not soupy, just a little thicker than pancake batter.  You can change up the butter/milk/yogurt ratio pretty freely.  More butter will make them stay moist longer.  We can eat the entire dozen before noon so I tend to use more milk and less butter--If I'm saving some for later in the day I use more butter and less milk.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Morsels

We spent Father's Day weekend camping with my Gramps, my dad, while Rob enjoyed a "quiet" father's day weekend here  (helping some friends build a deck, mowing the lawn, fixing the wood-splitter, re-hanging the clothesline, and cleaning house).  How's that for a nice Father's Day?  We did take him to his favorite restaurant/bar for dinner, and will follow up with his favorite ice-cream shop tonight.  And, if he's still feeling slighted we can make up for it at his birthday next week.

Our camping weekend included a long day at Popham Beach.  Maine has only a handful of sandy beaches, and Popham is one of the best if you get there on a day like we did.  It was seriously foggy but not too chilly in the morning so the beach was almost empty. Perfect weather for kite flying, seagull chasing, and getting lost in the fog.  By noon it had burned off and we enjoyed the water, lazed around in the hot sand, and did a little more seagull chasing.

*  Gramps got the big kids kites and taught them how to fly them.  Wylie had a great time with his all weekend. Juniper got her's to fly on the first try, and was thrilled that it was a mermaid kite.

* Juniper and Kale spent most of the afternoon lying in the hot sand--trying to warm up after their swim.

* This is a picture of Kale licking the sand!  He did it about 5 times throughout the day.  I guess he likes it.  Funny thing is he wouldn't touch his peach that got just a little bit of sand on it.  I guess he likes his sand straight up.  Last summer my nephew was doing the same thing so often my sister in law thought he had PICA.  I guess it runs in the family.

 Don't worry, that baby bum did not get burned!

 *  Here's me catching a few waves.  This picture is for Sadie--we've got cold water here too!

 * Juniper was having her sandwich when a huge seagull swooped down and snatched it right out of her hand.  It bit her thumb in the process and left her bleeding and scared on the sand.  She ate the rest of her sandwich under her towel with us standing guard.  Wylie said, "Its too bad I don't have my bow and arrow."
Um yeah, too bad.

* At home the next day she told Rob, "If I was a little braver I could have held onto my sandwich but was afraid he might bite my whole thumb off!"  Poor thing.

*  I actually packed and towed the camper all by myself, my first solo trip towing the camper--it went off without a hitch, HA!  I am pretty proud of myself.

* Juniper just finished a Yoga for Kids class at the Belfast Dance Studio with our good friend April Dove (April will have more Yoga for Kids in the fall, and classes for adults too--check her out on Facebook).
One of Juni's new favorite games with Kale is yoga class.  He's getting pretty good at a few poses.  Here's the Tree Pose.

* Throughout this game and most of the pretend games she plays with Kale,  Juniper calls him "Sue Ellen" in a very formal, bossy voice.  As in, "Sue Ellen, Sue Ellen, No Sue Ellen do it this way.  There you go Sue Ellen, that's right, Good Sue Ellen, Good. Sue Ellen, You got it!"  Very Funny.  Kale is a really good sport about all of this.

* All weekend Wylie talked my ear off about an invention he'll make when he's older called the "Hacker Chip" that you can put in your computer of ipod and use to hack into people's files.  I mentioned how this may be illegal but he said don't worry you'll need a secret code to do it.  Hmmn.  "Why would you want to do that?" I asked curiously.  "So I could destroy people's computers and things."  Oh.
When he was four his plan was to travel the world with his guitar and a backpack full of chocolate to stop war.  Seven and half is really a different beast.  I hope 8 is a little more peaceful.

No cats were harmed in the making of this picture.

* Last week Kale said Juni's name for the first time, "Juju".  We love it.  She's always been Junebug to us, but Jujubee is a definite keeper for her.  He loves his Juju.

*  We always love muffins in the morning.  These are gluten-free carrot spice.  I'll try to put together a recipe soon as they turned out really yummy.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, June 17, 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, June 16, 2011

Homeschool Thursday: Finishing Up

We're wrapping things up for the summer around here, at least as far as our "regular" school work goes.  We stopped working on copy work about 2 months ago, but have been doing math, nature study, and history a few times a week.  With these last few days of cold and rain we were able to make it through the final chapters of The Story of the World:  Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer, which we've been using for history.  We borrowed the audio book from the library and have really enjoyed listening in the car--we all have much better attention spans while belted in, and we've liked everything we've ever heard read by Jim Weiss.
The Lego guy is unintentional, but so telling of our days around here!

To close our history for the year we collected all of the narrations, coloring pages, photos from plays and action figure play, along with the review cards available in the study guide, and assembled them into "books" in metal tab folders.  I had some mixed feelings toward the end of this assembly,  Is all this paper necessary?  Is all the time spent gluing and assembling really worth it?  Aren't  the listening, discussing, and productive play the real goods? Of course the answer is yes--it is the learning that is the real product, not the paper work.  However, I do think the kids will have a sense of pride in looking back through these books, as well as perhaps the opportunity to recall stories they may have forgotten.
Wylie has always loved official paper work, so at the very least he'll enjoy having some of his own.

We did the same thing with their math work, though we had considerably less of it since most of the math we do is oral/visual and very game based.  But I do think these math books may actually come in handy in reviewing where to start up again next fall.

For the summer I like to change things up a bit.  But for the sake of routine (and because we spend comparatively very little time on school through the school year) I like to do some focused learning project with the kids during the summer months.  This is of course aside from all the learning that just happens in the course of water play, low tide exploration, hiking, biking, and just being bored outside.

This summer the kids are each thinking of a topic they want to explore in depth, and I'll work with each of them to read about the topic and prepare some kind of written and creative art work about their learning.  This may be overly ambitious.  I haven't yet figured out how to read to the kids for more than 5 minutes at a time unless Kale is asleep (he pushes them off my lap, brings his own book over to read, or otherwise demands attention).  So, I've got low expectations.
But Wylie has some big plans, so we'll see.
Mostly we're all looking forward to a lot of time outside in the sun.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Morsels

*   It finally got hot here.  Last week we had two days in the upper 80's and while we didn't make it to the beach we did break out the sprinkler and fill the outdoor tub with cold water.

 *  I made Juniper this sun hat to replace the toddler hat she's been borrowing from Kale.  Its still awaiting a ribbon to tie it tight against her head (and allow for size adjustment as she grows).

*  The flowers are truly in bloom now, irises, tea roses, rhododendrons (which I never thought I liked before now) and soon the cosmos as well.  We're bummed that all the zinnias were scratched up by the chickens, but I heard Village Farm has some zinnia flats for sale so we may have to get some replacements.

*  The chickens know its summer and are doing their part.  We have one lady sitting at the moment who is most unhappy about having her eggs snatched each day (we have no rooster, so no worries about possible chickies  growing in there, though the poor lady doesn't realize she's wasting her time).

*  Kale has always loved when I vacuum--good thing since I seem to do a lot of it.  But now, he insists on doing it himself.  Its a little slower but as long as I can put up with the sound for a while he does get a fair bit done for me.

*  I ordered this little book a while ago.  It is all hand written on the inside which might make you think it would be a pain to read, but its really not.  It has directions for making all kinds of household cleaning products as well as advice on gardening.  We made some face wash last week and are hoping to do some tooth powder this week.  If it comes out well we'll have no more tubes to throw out.

*  These are the perfect recipes for Wylie since one of his favorite activities is creating "experiments" that involve mixing all kinds of kitchen ingredients to see what happens.  Usually nothing (unless baking soda and vinegar are involved) but now we get face soap!  

*  The kids set up a terrarium weeks ago and have been in search of just the perfect inhabitant.  "Claude Hopper" (who we later learned was Claudia) was perfect for the job.  We gave her plenty of slugs and a few earth worms which our books said she would enjoy.  I never saw her attempt one, but when Wylie caught a huge housefly and dropped it in she didn't waste any time.  Toads may look lumpy, but their tongues are fast!
She has recently been returned to the great outdoors, well fed and unharmed.  We now have a resident frog.

*  Kale is sporting some new Mama made tractor pants salvaged from an old shirt of Uncle Casey's.  At first he didn't seem to care about the tractors on the hem, but recently has been picking them out himself to wear, shouting "trat-tor, trat-tor!"  Love that.

*  I started this sundress for Juni last summer as a birthday gift and just now got around to finishing it. This one is made from a pair of curtains found at Good Will.   Surprisingly it still fits, and while it didn't come out as well as I hoped she still loves it, which is really all I could ask. 

*  With all that rain this spring I'd forgotten what a nice place our front porch can be early on a sunny morning.  I've been having my coffee/tea out there along with a few furry friends and have decided it is one of the very best ways to start the day.

Happy Monday to you!