Saturday, April 20, 2013


I took advantage of a warm day earlier this week to remove the extra honey super I'd left the bees for winter security.  They made it through the winter with good numbers, and now with a bit of pollen coming into the hive (from Red Maples, Pussy Willow, Colt's Foot) I wanted to get that honey super off before the queen decided to lay some eggs up there.  Fortunately there was no brood in the honey super, and still quite a lot of honey!  I got about 4 frames worth, and by the weight of the hive body I'd guess they still have plenty of honey in there to keep for themselves. 

We have no extractor (hoping to buy one this summer with a few friends) so for now we're letting them drip slowly.  Five gallon brew buckets by the woodstove work well--though a bit slow.  We should have a few pints of honey by next week.  I'll save one frame as a housewarming gift for the new hive of fuzzy ladies who should arrive in June.

    photo by Juniper



Friday, April 19, 2013


Morsels:  Tiny bits of goodness from the past week...

For better or worse, I pruned our fruit trees several weeks ago, and brought these pear branches in to force flowering.  They were looking lovely in our bedroom, until we realized, wow, pear blossoms smell really bad!  I moved them downstairs where the smell wouldn't over power the larger space, and they have become kind of a roaming tree.  The flowers are gone now, but the leaves are a welcome sign of whats to come outside before too long.

Kale: "I think I won't be an astronaut when I grow up.  I think I'll be a skateboard guy."

I've come to realize that with each shift in seasons I get the urge to move furniture.  I suppose its fitting that with everything looking new and fresh outside the inside should be the same.  So, last week when my mom invited the kids to play for a few hours I did a little sewing and moving things about.  I only moved two things, but it made a sweet little spot for reading books, and a sunny flat surface for all of the wooden block play that Kale's been doing recently.  

I also managed to sew two pillows, that I've been trying to find the time to make for months.  I am so excited to replace the piles of old pillows, that end up strewn across the floor every time a child enters the room
(I swear, its as if they walk into the living room with the sole purpose of tossing a few pillows on the floor).  Not anymore.  These suckers are stuffed with the remnants of an old wool/cotton futon shared by a friend (thanks M!) and they are heavy.  Plus, being new they have a bit of specialty status, so no one stands on their ear if I tell them don't move the pillows!  
With the snow gone (again) and the mud quickly thawing the garden is suddenly visible and inviting.  Thats was enough motivation to get me in their, slogging through mud, raking off straw, and gathering bits of broken/strewn this and that which seem to collect in our garden over the winter (couldn't be that I left it there last fall?).  In the brief patches of sun between rain showers (and after the 2 inches of snow melted).  I put in a few rows of peas, radishes, and carrots, which the chickens just as quickly scratched up!  I'm hoping to start some beets later this week, just as soon as I can figure out how the ladies are getting into the fenced garden.  Inside we'll be starting tomatoes and broccoli.  

We've also begun work on phase II of our bridge/bike path.  Last fall Rob re-built our old walking bridge, making it sturdy and smooth enough for bikes, and now we're working to widen and smooth out our "bog walk" so the kids can use it to bike over to the slower, side road on the west side of our property (the road in front is too fast for kid biking).  Last weekend we all spent close to 2 hours out there, raking, clipping, climbing trees, snacking, and setting a smaller bride in place at the end of the path.  Next will be a lot of clipping and hauling gravel by wheel barrow.  Its a race against the black flies.
                    big bridge 

                  little bridge
                      photo by Rob

Hope you all have a great weekend.  Things are warming up out there!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Homeschool Thursday: math and science

Some days our schooling feels a lot like our refrigerator door:  a bit chaotic, but full of good things.  There was a point in my life when I wanted a stainless steel fridge, with nothing on the door (ok, sometimes I still want that..) but mostly I appreciate this ever changing collage of artwork, photos, to do lists, and favorite quotes.  

This week we did a little impromptu kitchen science when we all realized Kale had never seen a "mini volcano".  When Wylie was Kale's age experiments with household ingredients were one of his favorite things to do.  For his 4th birthday we gave him a hand made science set with his own beakers, thermometer, funnels, and huge containers of vinegar, baking soda, and food coloring for experiments.  What he'd asked for was a Bunsen burner, but he still liked it.  Kale isn't so interested in that sort of thing (yet anyway) so he had never experienced the wonders of baking soda and vinegar.  We didn't get all sciencey with this but just let it be what it was, again and again and again..with red, then blue, then yellow, etc.  Pretty fun.  

With the older kids we've been looking at nature, studying some edible plants in the wild, and thinking about moving onto a study of birds. 
We finished our study of Leonardo DaVinci and moved onto a bit about Leonardo Fibonacci.  I don't think this will be long study, but we read a nice book from the library, watched a few YouTube videos (This one was our favorite), worked out the sequence mathematically, and made some or our own Fibonacci spirals.  We're waiting for some flowers to open to do some searching for numbers in nature too.  
 kitchen table mid morning
 Always a bit of writing going on here, fortunately with excitement and no fuss these days.  I love this early spelling and handwriting.  Think I may save these books for nostalgia.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"But I Do Not Know Yet What That Can Be..."

I don't usually feel the need to comment in this space on world events, tragedies in particular.
However, Boston feels so close to home.  We had a family member at the event, who fortunately was unharmed.  As New Englanders that is our city that has been made unsafe.  As a runner I feel a personal affront to something as good natured and health minded as marathon being the target of violence.
It is discouraging as a parent to see people treating one another this way when we're trying so hard to teach kindness.

But, really, this is what I want to say.  I believe most people are good and kind.  Yet, it only takes one unkind act to shake us.  In order to counter an event like this we must pull together in our kindness.  We must do our best to let the good things shine and work even harder to create a world that we want for our grandchildren.  In the much read words of Miss Alice Rumphius (aka The Lupine Lady) "We must find a way to make the world more beautiful."


Friday, April 12, 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.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Homeschooling Thursday: Signs of Spring and Timelines

After a good deal of mulling it over for the past few weeks I've managed to rearrange our weekly schedule a bit to allow for two and a half completely at home days during the week! (unless we want to go out of course).  This means one hellish Monday of piano, followed by swimming, followed by lunch in the car--which must be packed in the morning of course, followed by flute lessons, followed at least once a month by Game Loft, and book club.  For those hardy parents who regularly pack their kids (lunches and all) out the door in time for the bus, then pick them up and cart them to music/sports/dance etc. this is most likely a run of the mill day.  But for we "lazy" homeschoolers who find getting anyone out the door before 10 a.m. a feat of great will and cunning (and swearing and stomping no doubt) a day like this is plain exhausting.  But, worth it I'm hoping, for the resulting few days free of car rides and scheduled events.  
And so, we've opened up a chunk of free time that suddenly allows for a few more intentional homegrown lessons in our week, and lots more time for bike rides, last minute projects that can take all day, and out door fun.  A few hightlights from this week:  

Signs of Spring:  Each year we do a purposeful signs of spring walk about our yard, exploring buds, and worms, bird songs and flowers.  This week we've found:  Fuzzy buds on the peach tree, colts foot blooming near the barn, robins, chickadees singing their "spriiiing tiiiiiiime" song, geese and loons returned to the pond, wood frogs quacking, and peepers!
The kids each chose a tree/shrub in the yard and have been checking it every few days for changes.  Kale is especially serious about this activity and loves to bring his nature journal or a clip board and pencil out to write down all kinds of "math".  Its pretty darn cute.  

In our search for flowers blooming (we found only colt's foot and red maple) the kids discovered a patch of British Soldier lichen and "pixie cup" lichen and set about making "fairy gardens".  Of course then we had to tour the neighbor hood on our bikes selling these cute things door to door for a quarter a piece.  Wylie (who is always the schemer of any money making venture) netted just over $3 which he's hoping to spend on iTunes.  Hmmmm. From fairy gardens to iTunes...nine-year-olds truly have one foot in childhood and one headed straight for the teen years.  

Our history for most of this year has taken the form of lots of good read-alouds, and Story of the World on audio during longer car rides.  I've been thinking of a way to tie all of these great stories together, without a Book of Centuries (which I'd like to start as the kids get just a bit older) or a 40 ft. wall, and came up with this zig-zagging timeline.  The time line begins near the floor at 7000 BC and climbs to present near the top of the half wall.  The time/space ratio is off, with the space between centuries getting longer as the dates climb, in order to accommodate the greater amount of historical information in more recent history.  We've only just gotten started, adding a few dates and pictures from things we read over the past year or two.  I used watercolor pencil for the line, so I could wipe it off and fix any squiggles initially, but the writing is all in sharpie, so will not come off.  I may go over the line in something more permanent before too long.  

Already I feel like I'm getting a better handle on world history than I ever had in school, and believe it must be helpful for the kids too.  I love imagining how this will develop over the next year or two, and picturing how each little pen drawing is helping create a picture of history they can carry forward as they grow.