Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Morsels: Halloween Surprise

It got a little cold here this week.  With flurries predicted earlier Thursday evening Juniper and I headed to the garden for a last minute harvest and tuck in.  Of course we didn't have official supplies on hand, so we used what we had and made do--a reoccurring theme around here.  

Here's what we came up with:

 Rocks and broken-handled pitchfork (it still works) as garden stakes

    Bed sheets over the chard, and bucket over the parsley.

 Tent city over the puny fall spinach

    Tomato cages and sunflower stalks as a chicken barrier.  

The snow didn't come as early as predicted--but the covers worked nicely as chicken guards since the ladies have moved into the garden.  That's Lady Hawk and Roxy in the soon to be garlic bed.  Show girl #2 in white (there are 4 show girls, we can't tell them apart).  


     Brussels Sprout harvest--can't wait to have these roasted with balsamic vinegar.  Yum!

* The ladies got their sun room for the winter.  Rob and I put this up each fall, to provide a warmer outdoor space for the ladies come winter.  Its always been cheap plastic (re-purposed in the garden above) but this year we got fancy (and smart) and did it out of something that will hold up a little better year after year.  This stuff we actually purchased for the project.  

* I realized after the fact, that Wylie did his entire Jack O'lantern by himself this year.  Every night since he has asked me to light Jack in his room as a night light--and then called me up ten minutes later to take him out because he's too scary.

* Kale's "Rarr" (lion) going to "num up" (eat up) Juju's pumpkin.  He's all about scary monsters and lions numming people up these days.  Hmmn, definitely a third child.

 * Not bad for a nearly November bouquet.

* We attempted these witches fingers cookies--modified to be gluten free.  They looked great until we cooked them.  Afterwards they looked like puddles with almonds in the middle, but they still tasted good.

* On Sunday we (and most of the East Coast) awoke to a different kind of scary.  Green leaves and snow.  

picture by our friend Dorn

While we didn't get the dumping they did further south (is South the new North?) we have been enjoying this surprising Halloween fun.  And, taking comfort in the fact that it most likely won't last the week.

 *  And finally tonight we head out for fun and candy with Luke Skywalker, a lady spider, a "train guy",
a cow girl, and uncle Albert.  Sure to be a good time.

Happy Halloween!

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Monday, October 24, 2011


Last week we were fortunate to have the opportunity to spend the week with family on Mound Desert Island, and Acadia National Park.  It was busy and fun (like all vacations will lots of small people about), and in looking back on the week I realize just how beneficial the time was.  Before we left I was in a funk of feeling overwhelmed with parenting stuff, and house stuff, and all those nasty feelings that can build up if I let them.

There's nothing like the vastness of ocean and mountains to put things back into perspective.    

We really are such small pieces of this huge planet.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Morsels: Eat Them Up

When Wylie was a toddler he was what some would have labeled "a biter".  My shoulders were covered with black and blue baby mouth sized circles.  It would happen unexpectedly and he was just as likely to bite when he was happy, or excited as when he was angry.  I didn't understand it then.  But now I get it.
That overwhelming feeling of just wanting to latch tightly and not let go. The desire to cram it into your mouth and savor it for just another minute longer--even when you know it might hurt.

Sometimes my kids are so darn cute I just want to bite them.  (I promise I have never actually done it).

Some days I just want to grab time and smoosh it into my pocket, real good so it can't slip out.  Then maybe I can take them out years from now just to remember the way their voices sounded when they sing, or how their cheeks curved into their jaw lines--and that dimple!


*  Its starting to get dark so early already.  This evening we had a short playtime outside after dinner, but most nights its too dark and chilly for outside.  Last night after dinner the kids broke out a few board games.   A few of us have trouble with rules, so board games have not always been successful.  But I love when they actually take out a game and make it work for them.  By the end of the game they had made up a few of their own rules--even better I say!  This one is "Yoga Garden" a cooperative game.  Its really simple and fun, and totally random in its purpose, which makes it all the better somehow.

* Kale's "owd trator wid a guy on it" old tractor with a guy on it.  We picked this tractor/trailer up at Tractor Supply the other day when we were there for a homeschooling event (also random and fun).  Kale can attach the trailer and tractor and load it up with all kinds of tiny animals--which he does over and over again.  So much fun.  

* Cranberry apple pie, for dessert.  And breakfast, and lunch.

* We've been eating a lot of cranberry compote.  I read a few recipes online, here's what we've come up with for a favorite:  2 cups whole cranberries, two apples cored, one whole organic orange seeded (not peeled) 1/2 cup of honey.  Put everything in the food processor and chop until coarse but not mush.  The first recipe called for 1-2 cups of sugar.  I tried 1 cup and it was like dessert.  The 1/2 cup of honey is still sweet, but has a bite to it.  The kids preferred the first, but ate the other happily.  My sister thought red onion would be a good addition to make it more savory.  We'll have to try that too.  The recipes called this cranberry relish and  while we are relishing it (ha) my condiment aversion is keeping me from embracing the name.  I prefer compote. Whatever you choose to call it, its yummy.  This is so easy and beautiful not to mention tastey it will definitely be featured in some holiday gifts to come.

    Kale attempting to remove a splinter all by himself:  "Na Na do"

* I love that my kids love books.  Recently our homeschooling has been really free form.  This always happens, though not quite so early in the year typically.  But it feels good to everyone.  We're doing a lot of reading these days.  Story books, poetry, lots of science books (its what Wylie always chooses) and some beginning reader books too.  Kale will happily look at a book on his own for several minutes, or sit with the older kids while the "read" to him.

      My trash for the last two weeks.  Not including waste from previously purchased items.    

*  My ecochallenge is over, and while I wasn't 100% successful (I may have set the bar a little too high) most days we had little to no waste.  I realized that to be completely waste free we'd have to first go through all of the things we already own that are disposable.  So, that's my next goal--to not replace items that are disposable unless we can't find a better alternative.  This includes a lot of plastic toys that break, and then what?  We also just bought an annual pass to a local recycling facility that recycles so much more than our town does.  We went today to drop off all of the paper I'd been saving for months, along with some dis-assembled appliances.  We got to see how they sort all of the recyclables, and check out the baling machine.  I'll still try to avoid waste (even those things that can be recycled) but when I can't I'll be glad to visit the center again.  I never knew recycling centers could be so much fun.

* Loving the foliage this fall.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Growing Pains

Today we moved Wylie into his own room.  It feels so momentous and emotional in a way I wasn't expecting.  Like his first day of nursery school four years ago when I was unsure of how he would do-- just fine, but I unexpectedly teared up when it was time to say good bye.

From the kitchen downstairs this afternoon we could hear the radio screaming some song.  This is not uncommon, but knowing that it was coming from Wylie's radio, in his own room was different, and so cliche for big kid behavior that we had to roll our eyes.  "Here we go", Rob said lightly.
But really our hearts were catching in our throats because he isn't a baby anymore at all.
Wylie has always been fiercely independent, but every day now I notice he's breaking away a little bit more:  his first night in a tent all alone*, his first big kid sneakers (they look just like adult running shoes) "they're size 2" he says proudly; riding his bike on his own down the road a bit, and now this.
He has been asking for his own room for years, has in-fact always been drawn to find his own best secret place, like the title of one of our favorite books by Byrd Baylor.  Now he finally has a space all to himself.
I wonder (read: hope with all my might) if this will slow his quest for independence and his intense desire to grow up right now.  Or, if it will be a spring board for development.  He is on the cusp of so many new things, and I'm really seeing that even more than seven, 8 is a time of change. Not as tumultuous (thank god) but just as extreme.
* the tent was only three feet from the back door, and he only made it until midnight--but still!

Tonight Juniper didn't want to go to bed in her room all alone.  Someday soon Kale will be joining her (another hard day for this mama) but for now she too is alone.
"I feel scared, and sad", she said.  And even though I tried my best to reassure her, a part of me was like, yeah, me too.  Scared, sad and excited too, and trying in vain to snatch at these days while my littles are still little.

Friday, October 14, 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."  Check out her blog to play along.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homeschool Thursday: Bike Rides

Last year we were in the habit of riding up the road before starting on any of our work or projects for the day.  It was these rides that began our adventure with Wylie's News last year, and then it was Wylie's News that kept the habit going strong as we had to deliver the paper each week.

I was recently inspired by a friend to reinstate our morning bike rides.  It's such a good way to get out a little energy before we try to focus on some kind of sit down work--mostly it's just fun.

It may have been a little too cold on this particular morning.  Kale insisted that he wanted to go on Mama's bike, but the whole ride home he chanted, "home, cold, home, cold".

 If we get out early enough we get to wave to the school bus as it passes, a favorite for all of us--though for different reasons I suspect.  Wylie:  "The kids on the bus always wave, but they look sad.  That's 'cause I'm riding a bike, and they're riding to school!"   

You said it kid.  We do enjoy our freedom.    

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday Morsels: Cranberries!

Wow!  I've never been so excited about cranberries before.  I mean, I've always liked them just fine--but there's something so exciting about finding wild food, in abundance, right in my yard.  Obviously we're psyched.  And my birthday rake is just the tool for the job, loving it!  

* Morsels are a little late this week--its been a busy one.  Just a few highlights from last week:  

fun in the leaves 

 for some...

* Last week we had a cold snap and broke out all the woolens.  Kale is sporting two hand-knits from Wylie's toddlers days.  Love that.

* Just as quickly as the cold came, it was gone.  Eighty degree days in October are a bit off, but we'll take 'um.

*Mime came for a quick visit, with treats for all:  candy corn, sushi, and playmo' guys.
Favorite Juniper quote:  "That Mimi is full of mischief!".

* Kale is all about guys lately.  He used to be all about the trucks, but now he's figured out that there are worker guys who get to drive those trucks.  Now all of our little tractors have mini guys propped in/on them somehow.  I love that his definition of a "worker guy" can stretch to include a Lego mini figure of a pirate woman, a Guatemalan worry doll, and even a tiny plastic chicken.  All of whom happened to be just the right size to fit his needs.  He and I found his "train guy" hat at Goodwill.  We both think its pretty much the greatest.

* The peppers survived the hard frost (they were in the cold frame).  The beans and basil did not.  Bummer.

A few survivors

* The sunflowers were a crazy 12 feet tall!  The garden looks so different without them.  I hope the seeds were far enough along to dry for the birds.  I've tried every year, but mostly they just mildew.  Any suggestions?

Hay wagon 

*  Last summer we gave our runner ducks to a farm where there were no dogs trying to eat them.  We miss our funny ladies, but know they are happier there.  I ran into their new farmers last week, who mentioned that one of our ladies is a new mama.  Ducklings might just be the cutest baby animal I've known. Certainly the funniest!

* With this warm spell I put a late crop of lettuce/spinach/kale into the cold frame.  I also thinned the carrots and beets and fed it all some chicken poop tea (seriously).  It seems late to me--not sure if they'll get a good enough start before the cold really hits.  If they're not big enough to harvest before snow they should at least have a great head start on the spring.  

                      Nearly full moon over the bay

Happy Full Moon!