Thursday, February 28, 2013

Homescool Thursday: Blocks

There's been a lot going on here, most of it spread out in bits and pieces, strung along over several weeks.  Wylie's been working on an ongoing study of WWI, the big kids and I are working to wrap up a study on Leonardo da Vinci, we're doing some reading and science exploration about maple sugaring, and Juni and I are starting to talk about the planets and solar system...all of this is heavy on the process (which I totally expect and encourage in the younger years), though I'd love to see some kind of product as a way to wrap up our focused study.  We'll see how that goes.  

Maybe if I ask them to build what they've learned with blocks...


They never have trouble producing when Lego's or wooden blocks are at hand-- (still, even here its really about the process.)  Isn't it always all about the process?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Tasty bits from the past week...

Whew, feels like its been a while since I've been in this (online) space, so more than a few morsels...

I spent last weekend in Western Maine, skiing the Maine Huts and trails system with a couple of friends. 
If you have a chance to go, do it.  The trails were beautiful, the lodges were energy efficient, mostly off grid, and warm,with hot showers (not that I used them) games, books, fire places and kind people.   The food was mostly organic, locally grown, and delicious.  My only complaint was that I couldn't stay longer.  We skied about 20 miles over the two and a half days.  Wow.  It felt so good to move my body like that for so long, and to be in the woods for two whole days.  We met some interesting people, came up with some trail names, and suffered through one night of snoring bunk mates.  It was fantastic.  I can't wait to do this next year, and look forward to making this a family adventure when the kids are a bit older.  

                       Starting the climb to our first lodge...600 vertical feet in about 2 miles (on skis).  It was   
                       steep and hard--and way more fun coming down!

  View from the top

                        frozen "Poplar Falls" behind us

In the days before our trip Kale kept saying, "I think its going to rain, then there won't be any more snow left for your ski trip.  I informed him that it was going to snow, and that I was definitely going to go on my trip, but that it would be quick, and he would have so much fun with Papa.  
Just before I left I told Kale I'd be home in two days.  
"Two days is a long time," he said, "I want you to come back in two minutes".  
Even with his sadness Kale gave me a hug and waved goodbye.  There were no tears, no guilt, just a little boy a bit worried about so many days without Mama.  But he was fine, and I was great.  Its a nice stage we've entered into with Rob and I able to swap evenings out, or weekend adventures without any great hardships.    I love, love, love babies--but big kids are pretty swell too.  

I've just finished up a bit of a whirlwind of knitting over the past month and a half:   A sweater for Wylie, that he's worn twice despite choosing the yarn and style himself!  I've threatened to start charging him money for every week that I don't see him in it;  A "transforming" baby sleep sack for my newest niece (it unlaces at the bottom to be a toddler jumper, and eventually a shawl for a Juni sized girl.  It may be the only thing I ever knit for her!); Then I knit up the last of Kale's sweater (begun last year); and finished up the yarn from that project with a hat and neck warmer for myself.  Whew.  I didn't follow any specific patterns for any of these, but can do my best to answer Q's about yarn or details if you have any.  

      Wylie's sweater in washable wool, k2 p2 ribbing at cuffs and waist, raglan style, roll neck with     
      thumb holes at the cuff.

                           Baby Sophie's 3 skein sleep sack in Cascade 220.  

   A very proud big cousin

 Kale's sweater in Good Karma Farm's Alpaca.  Garter stitch, with raglan decreases, and front zipper with ribbon edging (which was a pain to sew but turned out super sweet and totally worth the swearing and late night required) knit pants by Auntie Heide

                    My hat.  k2 p2 ribbing for rim, with evenly spaced spirals around the midsection.  

Last week my mom moved to Maine!  She's 20 minutes from us, which is pretty much fantastic.  We're so excited to have Mimi near by, in an efficient warm house that needs no maintenance, with no firewood to haul.  Its actually my sister's old house (since she moved to the farm up the road--and has lambs! more on them later...)  We've already made use of the babysitting potential of a Mimi nearby which feels a bit like taking advantage (because it is) but we're rolling with it.  I'm hoping she's as thrilled as we are that she's closer, and I know she'll fit right into the community here.  

Kale:  "Mama wait!  I'm going to put my pants on all by myself, so when Papa says, 'did you put those pants on all by yourself?' I'll say 'I did!"

Kale:  "Mama, you're getting to be a really good Mama".
"Thanks buddy."

A running friend loaned us this extra bike trainer for a while.  Its been a sort of non stop indoor triathlon training at our house.  I've used it twice, and it was pretty stellar to be able to get in a good work out with my kids right there, while listening to "This American Life" on headphones.  Of course I was interrupted every 3 minutes or so--but it was still worth it.  
But, then we discovered that Wylie's bike fit on it.  Since then he and Juni have been hitting the training.  Of course then Kale's kick bike had be be brought in, so this is the scene around here this week.

Kale: "Tell me a story.  About a whole family that goes walking in the woods--no sledding in the woods, and they hear a scary sound...and its a bear.  No, wait, they hear a scary sound and its a...what has more sharp teeth a wolf or a tiger?"  

Me:  I think a tiger. 

Kale:  "They go sledding and they hear a tiger.  No maybe its a dragon that makes fire!" 

Me:  "....and the family is walking along and suddenly they hear-----"
Kale:  "Wait!  How about its wolf.  A little baby wolf that can't even howl yet".  

And its nearly March.  Painless.  I think we're getting the hang of this February thing.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sweet Beginnings

We're thinking some sweet thoughts around here.  Yesterday we picked up these hives locally built by Ralph Littlefield in Palermo.  A coat of paint and a box of bees and they'll be ready to go.  I've got my nuc  
(an established "mini" colony of  bees on frames with a laying queen) on order to fill up one of these lovelies, and am hoping that my current ladies can tough it through these last could weeks and be strong enough to split, or catch a swarm in late spring.  I've never done either of those things, and I'm assuming that it will be much more difficult to do than to say--but I'm up for the challenge.

There's also been a bit more bee love in the past few weeks.  Since my stenciling adventure last fall it seems that I might have inadvertently started something.  Seems like everybody loves a theme.  My sister gave me this cutting board as a very late but much appreciated birthday gift.  A week later a good friend sewed up some bee goodness with this new fabric in at  Fiddlehead Artisan Supply.  
I may be on the path to becoming one of those old ladies whose kitchen/bathroom/bedroom is dictated by given subject.   So bee it. (hah!).

A phone call from a childhood friend who has just bought her first home and is crazy excited about chickens and blueberries and lawn mowing and gardening and maple sugaring just called me out of the blue the other day.  Her enthusiasm was contagious.  It was just the motivation I needed to get thinking about spring, seed orders, and maple sugaring.   Last year we put in two very late taps, on the last weekend of the season, and didn't get more than a sip of sap.  This year Wylie is practically bursting with excitement about sap, and spent a good hour running from tree to tree checking the sap level (about a cm) in the bottom of each of our buckets.  
Growing up in NH I spent the requisite number of field trips to sugar shacks, ate plenty of syrup on snow, and knew as many people who sugared as kept chickens.  But, I've never done it myself.  I'm in the midst of researching very small scale boiling, wood fire vs. propane etc.  But for now, we're just enjoying checking the buckets and tasting the sap.  Liquid spring.  Even if it is still February.

Sweet it is.  If only we could grow some cacao trees.... 

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Two years ago,when I started this blog I wrote a bit about why we homeschool.  A reader recently asked a question about our homeschooling, so I went back and re-read what I'd written, expecting to have a different take on things now that we've had a little more experience.  But really it all still applies.

Everyday I am grateful for the freedom in our schedule to enjoy the outdoors whenever we want for however long we need.  We appreciate not having to learn at others' pace, or according to someone else's timeline.  We love the opportunity to delve into projects and studies as they become interesting to the children, be it WWI history and Algebra, logic brain teasers, piano, drafting houses for Lego construction, cursive writing or bubble letters.  And, everyday, despite the inevitable arguments, name calling, and angry outbursts, I am grateful for my children's relationships with one another.  It is a daily practice in the art of cooperation, communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, and appreciation for others' strengths.  We all need our own space sometimes to be sure, and its a rare day when there isn't some kind of complaining about who won't play what, or who can't play this...  But when they seek each other out and start a game where they each have a part, the three of them just playing-- together, that's when I really appreciate this time we're giving them.
Its a nice way to live.  


Friday, February 15, 2013

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.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013


This was the view through our "bird bench" window last Wednesday.  Below is Saturday morning, same window.  That was about half way through our 30 inches of snow.  

                         shoveling out the chickens...

    cardinal at the feeders...
 trudging through waist deep drifts on the deck...
 It was a pretty great weekend.  I was supposed to be X-country skiing in Western Maine with some friends for the weekend.  And while we are totally psyched to get away for some great exercise in the beautiful mountains, without children, we were also really pleased to not have to do it in  below zero weather, with 40 mph winds and  2-3 feet of snow on the trail.  Fortunately they have an extreme weather clause in their reservations--so we'll get our chance again in a couple of weeks.  And hopefully it will be 30 degrees and sunny, with light powder (just saying).  

Instead of driving two hours through blizzard conditions, we stayed home.  Rob had taken a half day on Friday so we were all together for nearly three days, with no obligations save lots of shoveling.  I had stocked up on easy, quick food for Rob to feed the kids while I was away, as well as plenty of good chocolate (meant for the skiing ladies) which made for a very laid back weekend.  I was nursing a bit of a head cold, so without meal prep to do, and with Rob close at hand I spent the weekend drinking tea, knitting  (lots to share soon!) and reading beside the wood stove.  Hard to beat that.

When the sun came out on Sunday we made this sweet ice wreath (inspired by this one) to decorate the porch.  The little guys were part of an old broken candle holder.
February has always been a hard month for me, but with plenty of fresh snow, a ski vacation in sight, and a few tricks up my sleeve I think we'll sail through just fine.
Nothing like New England weather with a dose of global warming to keep things interesting.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

This is more like it...


This is what winter is Maine should look like.  Yay for snow.