Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Morsels: A Rainy Day

Morsels:  Tasty bites from the past few days...

Everything has recently been covered with a fresh layer of white, but before that we had our first real rain of the year and it sure felt like spring.  This crazy warm weather is making me feel ready to get out and garden, prepare my hives for their coming occupants, and clean up around the yard.  But really, we're not quite there.  I was chatting with a friend who was lamenting the lack of quiet stillness this winter.  Without the snow to shush everything and trap us inside for a bit we've hardly slowed down.  
In New England we're so used to cramming in as much as possible during the nice months, that I wonder if it will be difficult to find our pace this spring without the balance of a slow winter.  
Perhaps we'll learn to roll with it, chill out, and take our quiet time as we need it as they do in Hawaii--or if we'll just run ourselves ragged trying to fit in even more before next winter.   
For now we'll do what we can with what we've got, which on this day meant a whole lot of water on slippery ice.  


  Turnips from a local farmer                         
* I almost hated to eat these beauties.  I had this crazy vision of gluing them to the wall in some form of abstract art.  In the end I just roasted them with some salt and olive oil.  They were good like that too.

*  We've traded our jackets and snow boots for sweaters and rain gear.
The "frog bog" path is seeing a lot of use on these warmer days.  No frogs yet.

* This is the start of Curried Coconut Lentil Soup from Jack Bishop's "A Year of Vegetarian Cooking".  I couldn't resist a photo of all those rings. (I have a kind of a thing for circles these days).  I added several root vegetables to the recipe because we had them on hand.  This is one of my favorite soups.  Kale and I had it for dinner and breakfast, though other kids don't love it quite as much.  I made the leftovers into savory "pancakes" (mixed with two eggs and some almond flour) served beside frittata later in the week.

* I made these pants for Kale early last week.  They are corduroy outside and fully lined with an old cotton shirt. They are super cozy but don't fit him as well as I'd like.  Oh well.  Bittle Bro's so cute the boy can wear anything.  I originally just had the star in front, but when he saw them he said, "where's the moon?" Here you go Lovey, star and moon pants, "now you cannot be cold"  (a much quoted line from "Little Bear").

* Perhaps the last snowmen of the season...

* A thoughtful Bittle

Happy Monday!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Homeschool Thursday: Our favorite School Supply

I've never been one for a lot of manipulatives or curricula.  I have ordered a handful of schooly books over the years, but mostly the only thing we buy for our homeschooling are good books,  "living books" as some call them (as opposed to text books) and nice art supplies.  Hands down our most used supply over the past years has been clay.  I ordered one pound of  something like this clay from DickBlick art supplies more than three years ago.  Its still going strong, and we use it for everything including bike repair, electronics experiments, holding tiny things in place while painting, creating air tight seals for science experiments, to stick things to walls, standing up model "trees" on our seasonal table, shaping letters, for fidgeting during math lessons, and for creating volcanoes, mountains, and water shed relief maps.  Oh, its pretty good for sculpting too.  

I find this stuff all over our house, but its never been an issue--it never gets overly ground into the rugs, and hasn't ever stained anything.  Occasionally I'll find a clump outside, take it in, rinse it off and its good to go.  I'd say we have about half a pound left so it may be time to order some more.  

I scrolled through our photos and found more than a few pictures of clay in use over the past year:  


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Monday, February 20, 2012


We all had a nice day or two in the sunshine before the pox struck again.  It will be a slow week around here while we lay low with one very spotted, itchy boy.  

A few Mini-morsels:  

                     Last year he need my hand to cross the bridge

                     you coming mom?

  a determined walk (and a great sense of style)

Happy Monday  

Friday, February 17, 2012

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."  To play along go to the SouleMama blog.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Morsels: Home

The chicken pox quarantine began two weeks ago and is still going strong.  I somehow thought this would be a quick thing--but no.  So far, though, its been relatively painless (at least for me).  Kale is the only one whose had them so far, and he pretty much sailed through them with only one rough day/night.  Rob was gone for three days/nights at the start of it so we were truly stuck at home.  We stalked up on popsicles, library books, zinc lozenges, a few good movies, and oatmeal and baking soda for baths.  I was apprehensive about how the week would go, and expecting two sick kids instead of just one.  We hunkered down, baked cookies, celebrated a couple of half birthdays, had a lot of oatmeal baths, and enjoyed the mild, sunny weather.  We've still got another 10 days most likely before everyone is in the clear (no longer possibly contagious) and while we're sad to be missing out on a few things, we are making the most of our mini-vacation at home.  

For me sometimes having to go anywhere, even for a small part of the day can feel like a huge commitment.  By the time we get ready to go (pee, snow gear, snacks, water bottles), get to the car (seat belts, car seats, dropped mittens, spilled coffee), do our thing and get home it feels like the day is done.  Having a legit reason to say "no" to going anywhere has been really kind of nice.  And, since the kids are not actually sick this minute (just potentially shedding the virus everywhere they touch) we're enjoying exploring the pond down the road, a lot of reading and audio books, playing on the deck, and getting involved in some longer projects.  


Juniper's half birthday cake--she added a few PlayMo's to make it a little more fancy.  

Both cakes were grain and dairy free, and pretty good to boot.  More on grain free recipes soon.  I've found a few great sites that I've been relying on since our diet change (a little more on that here.  I've since gotten past the bullshit phase and have moved into the adventurous and hopeful).

Wylie's half birthday.  As you can see we keep it pretty simple, a single layer cake folded in half.

    Mr. Capable

Rob and his co-worker signed up for a weight loss challenge at work.  Kale's doing his part to help by adding a little extra weight for stair-stepping.  There's also a lot of jump roping going on here.  You should see my man do crossies!  

Home made board games, whose rules change every time.  I don't actually like to play these, but I love watching as they're created and listening as the kids play together.

I finally got around to finishing those last two buckets. Of course they only look like this when I set it up that way for a photo.  The rest of the time they are overflowing with clothes, legos, and what have you.  But at least they contain the mess a bit.

And, a little more crafting with that laminated cotton.  This came from over at Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast.  I bought it to make some lunch bags like the one's I made for Juniper last fall (here).  But, when the seat ripped off of Kale's stool I decided to repair it instead.  And, I still had a little left over for one lunch sack.

Of course then I had to do the stools.  I ran out before I could finish the second.  I love that this is washable!  No more changing the stool covers every season (though I may anyway because its so easy to do, and I really love changing things up.  But now they'll be clean).  As a side note for any locals, Fiddlehead's will be offering a sewing tutorial on laminate cotton, specifically making lunch bags and bowl covers.  I may have to check it out. 

    Babes on ice
Little guy is just finding his balance, though he can't actually move without holding onto something.  This boy can't wait to play hockey.  

    Skating with a friend

    Juniper:  "I'm bringing the summer mom!"

   These two nuts played in their bathing suits on the deck and in the snow.  They don't seem to mind the strange winter we're having.  

For now I'm trying to keep in mind this happy tone and smiling moments as we prepare for the next child to be stricken.  The pox may not be as easy on the next kid.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

We've been quarantined for the past two weeks due to chicken pox. Its been a surprisingly nice forced vacation, and there's lots to share in a late coming Morsels, tomorrow.  
For today, a bit of love in honor of St. Valentine.  Have a good one!

Guess what he's chanting with such glee as he flounces his sundress and twirls his heart wand?  (It took us several minutes to understand his words, I am a fairy?  a dancer? a painter? No).  "I am a hunter!  I am a hunter!"  Those blaze orange, gun-toters have nothing on you Bittle boo.  

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 10, 2012

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."  To play along go to the SouleMama blog.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Homeschool Thursday: a little more science

I've mentioned before, we tend to mostly un-school for science and nature study.  We keep nature journals, though we take them out much less often than I would like, go for hikes, do science experiments, rip apart a lot of appliances and electronics, and read, read, read.  

Since October we've been casually working our way through "Building Foundations of Science Exploration" by by Bernard J. Nebel, and we're still loving it. Guided by that book, we're in the midst of a lot of conversation and experimentation around states of matter, particulate nature, and air pressure.  A few of our more successful demos in this study have been the "build your own thermometer", "watch the quarter 'pop'", and a demo with a cup showing that air does indeed take up space (and is therefore matter).  

I had a plan for today, involving a demonstration of air currents using a paper spiral held above a lamp.  I had it fairly prepared and ready to go when we got side tracked on the computer and stumbled across this link for natural pools.  I had read an article about how to build one of these about 5 yrs. ago in "Mother Earth News".  I love the idea, saved the article, then promptly misplaced it.  The kids and I perused this web site and decided that if we ever find ourselves with a little (a lot) of extra cash we'll build one of these.  

Of course that was way too long to wait for Wylie, who decided he'd design one right then and there--a model at least, so we could see how it would work for this summer...
After hashing out a few details (ie where to find water plants in the middle of winter in Maine) we decided on a living soil filter for the pool.   As follows:  

Water is poured through the soil (which is planted with alfalfa and oat seeds), will drain through the future root system, through a layer of course rocks, and through a final layer of gravel.  This "filtered" water then drips through a tiny hole in the bottom into our "pool".  Ideally a pump would pump the water from the pool back up to the filter, cyclically.  Wylie tried to build a tiny bilge pump out of a syringe but it didn't work.  We decided (with a little coaxing from me) that pouring the water would be fine for our demo.  

layers of soil, rock, and gravel

Well, after this there was some talk about natural filters and water pollution.  I gave up on my air currents experiment and turned to one of the experiment books from out shelf.  Below is the result--two different types of filters.  This experiment is from a book that I don't particularly like.  The experiments are interesting but are not well explained, nor the explanation of the result given.  This one didn't even look like it was working, but we'll give it a day or two and see how it does.  The dirty water (in the elevated container) is supposed to be "filtered" by the cotton strip, leaving clean water in the ball jar.  The water was wicking its way up the cotton too slowly to tell if it was working.  The ball jar in back is a soil filter similar to our own (but without the living plants).

So, that's how science often goes in our house.  Some somewhat linear science study by the book (per se) and a lot more self directed experimenting through trial and error based on the inspiration of the day.  Here are several of our favorite science books that we turn to for explanations, demonstrations, and facts.

Earth Science for Every Kid, by Janice VanCleave
Born With a Bang, From Lava to Life, and Mammals Who Morph
a three part history of the world (but very scientific, with lovely pictures) by Jennifer Morgan 
Switch On, Switch Off by Melvin Berger,
from the "Lets read and Find Out" series.
The New Way Things Work, and The Way We Work, by David Macaulay
Not pictured is another favorite which Wylie has squirreled away somewhere is The Kingfisher Encyclopedia of Science.

From air currents to natural pools, to water pollution and a home made filtration system (which the kids afterward decide would make an ideal habitat for a frog).  Days like these make me so glad they're not stuck in a classroom with a strict curriculum and a 40 minute time slot. 
Oh, and the morning spent ice skating was pretty nice too.