Friday, November 30, 2012

Homeschool Thursday: any given day...

Well its not Thursday--but since I've missed several Thursday posts, and since we homeschool everyday, here's a glance back at this past week to give you an idea of what we  may be learning about on any given day:  

Starting campfires with flint and steel (and matches when necessary) 

Electrical experiments with voltmeters and discussions of circuits and how they work.

Cleaning out the chicken coop and giving the ladies some nice leaves.

Puppet making anyone?  Wylie came downstairs yesterday morning with a plan drawn for creating a marionette.  With breakfast to make and a birthday party to prepare for we managed to put together these two funny guys.  I love how Tim Burtonish they turned out.  Kind of creepy in a lovable sort of way.  

Science lessons at breakfast--right now we're talking about gravity, the Earth's rotation and other earth science.  Mostly using Nebel's science (that I posted about here...,) along with some Janice VanCleave.

And there's hardly any point in homeschooling (at least in my mind) without plenty of time for play.  Their favorites right now are these Roy Toy lincoln log type blocks--made in Maine!  PlayMobile guys, Legos of course, lots of pretending/ imaginative play, and plenty of art work.  

Its a good time.  

Birthday Boy

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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Make it!

These past two weeks we've all been feeling creative.  Rob's been hard at work rebuilding  the bridge, he and I are brainstorming ideas for a platform bed, and the kids and I  have been painting, cutting, sewing, knitting, you name it.  There's barely a surface that isn't claimed by some ongoing project, and since birthday preparations have begun (Kale is 3 this week!)  the studio is a wreck.  Its all good.  

Kale's first "sewing" project.  He's hoping it will be a sweater for his new baby cousin.  

And his first people ever...he made them as gifts for his friends.  I Love these!

Painting before breakfast.  

The kitty family (made entirely from old shirts, wool, and buckwheat hulls) flew out west for my niece's 4th birthday.   

Wylie's sweater (nearly done) and a little baby project Juniper has just begun for her new baby cousin (due in just a few weeks!)
Its that time of year---throw another log on the fire, put the kettle on, roll up your sleeves and get to it!  

Friday, November 23, 2012

No Thanks

I truly have so much to be thankful for, and I can list a whole mess of things that you'd expect, such as my family, and my health, and my family's health, and my dog, and our home, and the opportunity I have to stay home and learn with my kids each day.  And maybe some wouldn't expect, like 7 yr. olds learning to play piano, and volt-meters, and body crayons, and honey bees and I could go on and on (and do often).
But, in the spirit of keeping it real during these coming weeks of joy, and love, and celebration, and lets face it, more stress than necessary,  I'll instead share:

10 things I am not particularly thankful for (in no particular order):

* Changing bedding in the middle of the night because my preschooler has peed in his bed, again.
* Long hours alone (as the only adult) with small children
* Printer error B1200
* Realizing at 7 am that we're out of coffee
* Cheesy plastic toys
* Tangled yarn
* Head lice
* Dog vomit
* Dried food stuck to the floor
* Nightfall at 4:30 pm

The good news is I had to really think about these, and in listing them I realized how many more things I appreciate in my life, and how so many things can have a bright side.  Try it.  Then have more pie.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

For some reason it didn't happen last year, but most years since Wylie was a toddler we've made a Thankfulness Tree.  The idea was born out of wanting a tangible sign of our thankfulness, something concrete the children could focus on.  And lets face it, holiday crafting is fun, particularly something as simple as this.  
Beginning a week or so before Thanksgiving day I cut out leaf shapes from old watercolor paintings.  The leaves and a pen sit on the kitchen table for and throughout the week we make a quick note of the things for which we are thankful.  Then, we tape them onto the tree--a small sapling propped up in an old jug.  Its likely the kids will outgrow this tradition, but for now I'm enjoying their own ideas about the things they appreciate in their lives, and to seeing their invented spelling and improving handwriting skills.  
We are thankful for so much.  


Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Almond Milk

I've been making almond milk for a few months now.  Last spring after seeing a specialist to figure out some of our food allergies I stopped buying cow's milk and switched to almond milk.  I eventually added dairy back into our diets in the form of cheese and homemade yogurt (I love our YoLife maker, with the extra tall lid), but we stuck with the almond milk. I was buying two cartons a week for several months when I realized we could be making our own.  Mostly, I got tired of all the packaging.  Our recycling center won't accept the waxed cardboard cartons.  Then, I got a couple of cartons that seemed like they'd sat for far too long on the shelf, all gloopy and gross--I ended up having to dump them.  Also, some of the companies add a lot of extra "stuff" that made me a bit suspect, though I never did any real research-- it may be entirely harmless.
Either way, I looked at a few recipes, ordered raw almonds in bulk from our food coop, and had at it.
You can too!

Here's how I do it:
First, soak raw almonds in water for about 12 hours (more or less is fine, I typically put them in water to soak before I go to bed).  In the morning I rinse them well and strain.  Then I put 1 cup of soaked almonds into the blender with 4 cups fresh water.  I sometimes add some unsweetened coconut flakes too (and a bit more water as well).  I add a teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of sea salt, and about two tablespoons of maple syrup or honey.  Blend on high for 1-2 minutes.

Then, strain the mixture through cheese cloth into a clean jar.   

I use a spoon to gently squeeze the "milk" from the pulp--this is Kale's favorite job, then scoop the pulp into a jar to use as almond flour in many gluten free baking recipes (the pulp remains a little wet, so I have to tweak the recipes a bit to accommodate the added moisture). 

Viola, homemade almond, or coconut-almond milk.  This keeps for about 5 days in the fridge. 

Honestly the kids don't really like the taste of this for just drinking, but I use it in all our smoothies, for baking, in hot drinks, or in porridge and no one complains. I like how it tastes but don't drink much of it plain. I do wonder about our calcium intake, and have considered getting a supplement, but for now am just making sure we all get yogurt and cheese into our diets as well.  

Ideally we'll switch to goat's milk when a steady supply is easily obtained (so far I haven't had any luck finding any on a regular basis, and Rob isn't swaying on the idea of getting our own).  But, my sister's goats and sheep are being bred this fall for spring babies and milk, and then we'll most likely make the switch.  Until then I'll stick with our almond milk.  Its easy and inexpensive (if you buy in bulk) plus the almond "flour" is great to have.  Hope you enjoy.  


Thursday, November 15, 2012


Its officially pie day here, in preparation for an early Thanksgiving with my side of the family this weekend.  On the to do list 6 pies (maybe more!) and broccoli for 16.  


In our family it isn't Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes with marshmellos and at least 5 kinds of pie.
I'm making a deep dish apple, apple tart, lemon meringue (with this curd), two pumpkins, and a pecan.  This is the first time I have broken down and bought canned pumpkin.  I'm still feeling a bit like a fraud.  Its not that I don't think its good enough, but its just so different than the pumpkin pie we grew up with when its from a can.  Fresh pumpkin is so much more solid, and substantial somehow.  The crust recipe is all from gluten free girl accept I used the Arrow Head Mills gluten free flour mix.  I've never used this so I hope it works out all right.  Perhaps we should eat one of those pumpkin pies today to make sure!  I've never made a pecan, and am looking for a recipe that doesn't call for corn syrup.  Any suggestions?  
Its a bit of a scene here (as you can imagine) with five pies in the works, piano practice in the back ground--think Jingle Bells and Mary's Lamb over and over and over..., math and handwriting on the table among electric Legos, laptop, watercolor paints, and 3 children just about starving to death as I'll I'm preparing is pie that they've been forbidden to touch....
Back at it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mud and Bees

We had to take advantage of the crazy warm weather yesterday and hit the beach--er...mudflats.   We got together with some friends for a small picnic by the foot bridge and enjoyed the sun, dilly beans, and watched the children get muddy.  It was a very different scene from the sliding and snowballs of last week.

Also, the bees are home!  Our very good, very strong friends hoisted these ladies across their field, into the back of the truck, then across our yard to their new home, marsh-side, here at Frogwater.  I had my camera ready to document the move, but it went so smoothly I forgot to take any pics.  Though I guess seamless is what you're going for when moving bees.  The bees enjoyed the sun even more than we did, and got a chance to stretch their wings and explore their new yard before hunkering down again.  

It looks like a few more days of beautiful weather, at least in these parts.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 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.

(The view from last week--this weeks is a bit soggier and a little less golden) 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homeschool Thursday: A "Quiet" Day

With worker guys upstairs in the bedroom (more on that soon!) we had planned to be out of the house for the day.  But, a nasty cold has us tired and sniffling and we opted to stay home for a "quiet" day.  To the tune of air compressors, staple guns, shop vacs and pounding above we stoked the fire and settled into our work:  Several chapters of our second round of "Swallows and Amazons" (I love this book!), painting, harvesting greens (and pureeing them to freeze for smoothies), building, art work, a game of store, construction site, a bit of math*, potato kale soup with sausage, very little cleaning, and plenty of tea, coffee and throughout.  Despite the noise and activity above it felt like a quiet day, which was just what we needed.   


And today snow! I was hoping for another day like yesterday, but the excitement about the weather, my own procrastination, and the growth rate of my children requires a last minute trip to Goodwill and Reny's for snow boots and snow pants.  Then perhaps I'll have some true quiet, watching their work from the window--with plenty of tea, coffee, and knitting, and unfortunately nose blowing throughout.  Hope you're enjoying it.  

*This year we're using Khan Academy, some RightStart , and enjoying the convenience of Kumon workbooks)