Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The End of June?!

Just checking in.....

We had a great weekend. It was mostly just us relaxing. There was some outside time. There was helping with the music at church, which involved several nights of J and I jamming with the guitar. (fun!) There was a berry pie with whipped cream for Sunday night dessert. And other moments, too sweet or swift to write about just now.

The start of the week has been mostly the boys and I outside enjoying some sunny weather!!! It's been awesome. They have been rather cooped up with all the rain as of late, and that means that now the playing outside is the kind where they are happy enough just being free outdoors that I do not have to referee too much. (I try not to do too much of that anyway!) So....I've been able to weed the garden and spend time enjoying all the many things growing here on the farm.

Yesterday, we found a big, fat toad in the potato patch which made me feel so very blessed. I have always loved toads....ever since I was a girl. At the cottage (where we vacationed every summer when I was small) we had a row boat on the beach. It was always turned upside down to keep it dry and clean. Without fail, every time you turned it right side up you'd find toads that had been hiding under there. It was so fun to catch them and watch them. The boys apparently love toads as much as I do, because they promptly set up a "house" for him near the potato patch. It involves an empty flower pot, some grass, some water, and a friendship offering of a strawberry from the mostly-spent strawberry patch. Do toads even eat strawberries? I guess we'll find out.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Our week was full. I love that we are learning, together, to use our time to do things that cultivate peace and fullness. It's definitely a learning process. Learning to let go of some things that fill up time that are actually good....like reading (for me! I could easily spend a day devouring information)....or cleaning (for J! it's therapeutic to him to spend time cleaning up)....and also learning to get rid of habitual things that take up time and are not so good...like t.v. and unfruitful computer time.....to make room for things like spending time playing, making music, reading together, going for walks......

This week we've been pretty successful at spending our time wisely. Surprisingly, having baseball three nights a week really helps, because we are forced to stay active later into the evening than we normally would be. I usually hit a wall at about 7pm and feel my pjs calling me. Oh, don't worry, I do stay up later than 7:00. It's just that I feel like I need my jammies on and some time to blog or knit, which usually means I get lost in a movie or the computer and then "Wooosh!" out the window went the whole night! This week though, with baseball we didn't get home until after 8pm and by then I've gotten a second wind. We come home and J gets the boys ready for bed (isn't he a gem?) while I tidy up and get ready for the next day. I've even been able to take Millie out for some fun backyard time by myself at night and had some time to tend the chickens too. (by the way....Millie loves fireflies!!! she thinks they are delicious. heh.)

It's been a good week. Here are some highlights....
Hen loves books. He loves to "read". He layed on the couch reading this book for over 15 minutes. :)

Today we had grandma and grandpa D over for supper. We spent the day cleaning and creating in the kitchen. Little Owl loves cleaning windows. Here's a little "how to" from him.....
That window is really clean. I think he sprayed it at least twenty times. :)

Badger found a recipe he wanted to try in a book he read (about tree nuts). It was for walnut brownies. He made dessert for our dinner tonight. They were awesome! He was so excited for the supper guests and decided to make a menu on our chalkboard for them.
This week has also been the start of "berry season". Remember Bramblewood? Yes, well, we didn't name it so for no reason! The black raspberries are full swing and they are delicious this year thanks to all the rain and sun. We are making jam (honey sweetened), freezing raw berries for smoothies and such, and dehydrating them too. I'm very thankful for the bounty given us.
One berry
Two berry
Pick me a blueberry
Hatberry, Shoeberry
In my canoeberry
Under the bridge and over the dam
Looking for berries
Berries for jam

Three berry
Four berry
Hayberry, Stawberry
Finger and pawberry
My berry, your berry
Strawberry ponies
Strawberry lambs
Dancing in meadows of strawberry jam

Quickberry! Quackberry!
Pick me a blackberry!
Trainberry Trackberry
Rumble and ramble in blackberry bramble
Billions of berries for blackberry jamble

Raspberry Jazzberry
Berryband Merryband
Jamming in Berryland
Raspberry rabbits
Brassberry band
Elephants skating on raspberry jam

Moonberry Starberry
Cloudberry sky
Boomberry Zoomberry
Rockets shoot by
Mountains and fountains
Rain down on me
Buried in berries
What a jam jamboree!

from "Jamberry" by Bruce Degen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Keep on Keepin' On....

Yesterday, when J came home he asked me (as he usually does), "How was your day?"  My answer....."Non-stop."  My day was non-stop.  I imagine that most moms of four littles have non-stop days regularly.  In fact, it probably is quite ordinary to those of you who have more energy than I.  See, I am by nature the kind of person who LOVES to be around people, but I need lots of time to recharge afterward.  I just do.  I also really really need to be social.  It's kinda strange actually.  Anyway....the point is that needing lots of time to reboot is not really an option when you homeschool four boys.  And I struggle with this on a daily basis.  

Normally it goes one of two ways.  One way to do it is to take little breaks throughout the day between activities to have a little breathing space.  For example,  I spend 40 minutes playing a Repair Man imagining with Owl and then when he tires of it, I tell him to find an activity or I direct him to one while I go fetch a cup of coffee or take a quick read through of something I'm studying.  The break is usually five minutes or so, and I never have to watch the clock because I am ALWAYS found by someone somehow after five minutes.  It's true.  :)  Hen has radar you see.  :) This way of spending the day is great because I am usually still semi-sane by the time J arrives home and the kids are super happy because I spent lots of time with them.  However,  NOTHING gets done as far as laundry, dishes, cooking, or picking up the obstacle course that becomes my house after a morning at home with the boys and the dog.

The other option is to spend lots of time with the boys, but when the breaks come just fit the chores into those five minute breaks.  Or better yet, every time we finish with a fun activity we all chip in a few minutes of chores and more gets done that way!  The boys are doing really well with this and I believe they might actually be learning how good it is when everybody helps out.  But....oh wait! ....that doesn't leave anytime for me to catch my breath.  No it doesn't.   So you see the struggle.

Today however....and yesterday too....I spent the day wholeheartedly doing "option 2" and it was indeed non-stop.  And believe it or not.....by the end of the day....I was just fine!  More than fine in fact!  And since this has not always been the case, I just feel amazed!  The difference...well....I think it might be that I have just realized more deeply what a super duper investment mothering is.  It matters when I spend time listening to the hearts of these little boys.  It matters that the towels are clean, folded, and put away.  It matters that there are clean spoons and fresh library books, and memories of us having imaginings together.   And yes it does matter that I make time to recharge and regroup, but I guess the point is that the less time I spend thinking about how I need time for myself the more time I actually have to invest in everything (including keeping myself healthy).    Does that make sense?

And here are two recent pics of the boys.  
Who IS that little boy?  Yep.  That's Hen.  Can you believe it?  Look at how big he is!
New pjs.  Thanks, mom!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Promise of Plenty

I love to grow things.  I love it so much that I sometimes think I might be a hobbit. (that and the hairy feet :)  This year the garden has so much promise.  I love how things grow that we can eat.  I love how God provides for us in this way.  I love how so many of the things that grow on the land require so very little from me and yet there they are just ready to gather and eat.  Here are some of the lovelies growing in our neck of the woods.

The currants were plentiful this year.  I'm still deciding what to do with them all!
The basil has been lovin' all the rain.  I think some pesto will be made soon....
These little beauties are the first two apples to grow on our new dwarf tree.  Hurray!  Aren't they gorgeous?
A dual purpose corn (for fresh use and for dry - afterall I have a grain mill now!) and pumpkin vines in the background.

This is my favorite plant so far.  It's a red bell pepper.  It's soooo huge~! 
The lavender.  Aah, sweet friend.  Lavender makes me feel at home.
And here are the little hens.  They are growing so quickly.  We have yet to name them simply because it's been so rainy we haven't been able to sit and watch them much.  This little black one is the leader of the pack so far.
Badger swing, swing, swingin'! 
There are also things growing that are not pictured.  Mostly the oodles and oodles of berries.  The big old mulberry tree is ripening.  I've made a batch of raw jam for the freezer.  It will be such a treat in the winter when we wish for something sweet and fresh.  I am also going to try to dehydrate mulberries this year.  It seems like a good idea, right?  There are sooo many and I think it would be nice to put them in our granola or muffins in the winter.  Anybody know how to do it?  I think I'll just give it a try.  
I feel a huge sense of responsibility to use what we've been given.  It saddens me so much that my J has to work his whole life to provide for us.  I wish he could have more time to just be.  I want to contribute as much as I can and not add to the burden.  So if we eat salads of dandelion greens that we find in the woods....or dry the strange (but totally yummy) berries from the big old tree out back....I say  "good for us!"  We've been given so much.  I'm going to hike up my skirt, go into the woods and dig in!  Ha ha ha!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Outing

We spent yesterday at the beach!  It was great!!!! However, I have no pictures for you of the sand, sun, and water.  I was too busy playing.  (and counting to make sure all 4 boys were still above water.  seriously, they are little fish!)  After we swam and picnicked we headed for the cool shade of the woods.  
The hike was wonderful.  The boys have been on this trail before but not this year yet.  They really enjoyed it and Little Owl was seeing things as if for the first time.
Below, they are looking over a deep ledge.  Over the rail and way down many,
 many rocky steps is........
this waterfall.  
We hiked for awhile looking at all the different kinds of moss and fungi.  I especially liked looking at all the tree roots that are exposed.
Owl still is at that stage of the super funny grin.  Gotta love it! 
At the end of the trail we were greeted by this.  Wouldn't that be fun?

Friday, June 18, 2010

A storm, a Break, and a Sunset

Another stormy day.  In more ways than one.  I've been more aware lately of the challenges that are mingled in with the joys of my job.  I LOVE my job.  I am so thankful to be the mama to these beautiful babes.  I am so glad to be home with them all day.  But....that doesn't mean that every moment every day is smooth sailing.  Sometimes it's a bit stormy.  And I totally admit that much of the storminess is simply a result of me being selfish or tired.  I sometimes turn into a little black stormcloud when things get overwhelming to me.  Thankfully, I am getting much better at relying on God's guidance in the little things in my life and the storms are fewer and less volatile than before.  (it's true, right J?)

Anyway....today the weather was humid and the clouds built all morning.  We spent the time planting the morning glories around the sunflowers in our playhouse.  Then there was the discovery of two sharp rocks in the "quarry". (the quarry is the hole the boys have excavated in the gravel driveway in their search for fossils and interesting rocks.)   They quickly found some large sticks and began whittling.  So fun!
All the while I kept my eye on these little ones, I faced a challenge with Hen.  He is growing and teething and my milk is waning and all of those things leave one unhappy little guy.  And I am getting really tired of the shirt pulling, biting, arching back, and screaming that ensues when he is tired and frustrated that the milk isn't there.  (i don't know why there isn't milk?  I'm not pregnant though, don't worry. )  Anyway...the end of the story is that he finally fell asleep and I set him down with his favorite blanket only to have him wake up again.  Oi.  This happens often lately and it tires me out a bit.  Today, I just took a deep breath, said a prayer,  and tried again and he settled down soon after.  Then....I got a few minutes with the boys watching this storm roll in.
They whittled and I had a few moments, my only time to myself all day, to wander around the garden and see this.  Ah, my hydrangea is blooming.  And the feverfew.  I love feverfew.  It's so old fashioned looking.

I also spied that the black raspberries are starting to ripen.  These two little beauties, those five minutes of quiet wandering helped so much.  We settled in for the afternoon with some baking, reading, a David Attenbourough film, and making a nice dinner for Papa.  And then this.....
This sunset was the view from the kitchen window tonight.  All the while this was happening out the northside of the house, the southside had beautiful blue lightening.  Wow.  

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Cricket, enjoying just being by Papa
showing Papa the marbles they were given at the Market today..... 
thanks marble man  :)
Hen loves being on the blanket where everyone is sitting.  It's like having his own personal jungle gym....
Badger catching the ball.  Wow.  This boy LOVES baseball.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This can be supper, right?

The boys enjoying a parfait of homemade granola, berries and plain yogurt.  yum!

It's been raining, and raining, and raining.  And raining.  The mancubs are restless.  We've been doing a lot of drawing.  Lots of playing games.  Here are a few of the creative endeavors that have kept us busy for the past few gloomy days. 

This is Badger's game that he made.  It's a version of Battleship.  He read about Battleship in a Calvin and Hobbes comic.  (we've had to hide that book for now..... it's not a children's book!)  Anyway, he must've liked the idea of the game, because one day about two weeks ago he drew his first game out and taught Cricket how to play.  They will sit and do this for an hour or more!  Playing in different rooms than each other so there is no peaking at each other's board.  :)
Badger and Cricket have also made magazines for each other.  Lego magazines of course.  Here's the one Cricket made.  The top left hand corner is a picture of an Ocean Lego Set.  (see the writing says..."includes first Lego coral"...Cricket doesn't see why they haven't designed Coral yet as he thinks it is super important.  He wants to be a scuba diver some day.)
Also in Cricket's magazine...the bottom left hand page is a Star Wars set.  The writing says "Droids are attacking the Jedi City".  And the two sets on the right page are Space sets.  See the earth on the bottom picture?

Badger made a magazine too.  His writing is really amazing to me.  (Cricket's is too!)  It's just that I haven't really formally taught him how to write anything.  I mean, once I taught him what an apostrophe was, but that is really the extent of it.  I occasionally get asked how to spell something, but mostly he "looks up" how to spell words from a book.  (not the dictionary, just any book that he thinks might have the word he's looking for)  And he LOVES to write!  Almost as much as he loves to read.  I'm so glad about this. :)  And I'm soooo glad to be able to have him learn at home.   

I also wanted to add that my Little Owl has been playing and pretending up a storm lately.  His favorite thing to play is "adventure".  This involves pretending that the Learning Tower is an airplane and recruiting someone (mama, or a brother, sometimes Millie) to be copilot.  Then he flies to a different country, sees the different animals and then flies off to somewhere else.  His top two faves to visit are Australia (kangaroos), and the Amazon River. (to see the green anaconda of course.)  It's super fun to see his imagination "take off" like this!  

That's all for now.
ps. sorry about the weirdness with the font size.  I apparently can't fix it easily and it doesn't seem worth the time.  i hope you understand.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu for the Week

Post #100 and it's a menu.  Ha.  That's how much my job of being a mama involves feeding this crew of little men.  :)

M - Eggs & Toast & Grapes
Impromptu out for sandwiches! (we had a baseball glove to buy today!)
Pasta w/marinara and Organic chicken sausage, spring onion & parmesan biscuits

T - Soaked oats breakfast cake, fresh blueberries
PB & J, fresh veggies and apple slices
Sloppy Joes (yes indeed!), salad from the garden

W - Waffles with berries & cream
BLTs (we have lots of lettuce right now)
Quiche (onions from the garden and cheddar and ??), salad, and banana bread

Th - Soaked oatmeal w/ raisins and nuts
Hummus, feta, tomato, cukes and pita, fresh fruit
Tuna melts, fresh veggies/salad

F -  Eggs in a nest, fresh fruit
Pigs in a blanket, carrots and red peppers
Roasted lemon chicken, mashed potatoes, veggie of some sort

S - Homemade whole wheat monkey bread, fresh fruit
Black bean & rice burritos with fixin's
Chicken artichoke & spinach calzones with marinara for dipping

S - Granola & yogurt & berries/bananas
White chicken chili (crockpot recipe), homemade beer bread

I also have a rather loosey goosey plan of making homemade whole wheat graham crackers, and whole wheat snickerdoodles.    And yes, the weeknight meals are a bit "sandwichey" but that's because it's teeball season and we have practice tuesday, wednesday, and thursday!  Oi!  The eldest boy got his new glove today and he is sooo keen on it.  We even bought a real aluminum bat and ball which was much needed because the plastic one is falling apart from much use.  I tried my hardest to convince J to get the padded foam bat, but it didn't work.  I have an irrational fear of someone becoming injured from an unintentional hard swing.  eek!  *Deep breath.*

Anyway........that's the plan for the week.  I've been realizing more and more how crazy, interrupted, and spontaneous life is these days.  I'm trying to just go with the flow a bit more and not worry about what the plan is so much.  Like Jesus said, "each day has enough trouble of it's own..."  I'm glad He knows how it is, so I don't need to worry.  :)  

Check in soon for some tee ball pics!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting Back to Normal...

We spent the weekend joyfully doing ordinary things....like filling the bird feeders.  Feeding the chickens.  Watching the baby squirrels that come to our garden for birdseed.  Look at this little fella.... can  you tell how little he is? (He's just big enough to fit in the palm of my hand. ) Here's the Mama squirrel.  She thinks the picnic table is a fine spot for perching and taking a look around.

Other ordinary wonderfulness included......
reading books.....
eating homemade strawberry shortcake!  Ooooooooo, you should see the strawberry patches this year!  Plentiful indeed.  But not enough for a family of 6 to have some left for freezing.  Perhaps we'll have to go picking somewhere.....

And all of these ordinary, everyday things produced lots of this.....
Aaaah, to be getting back to normal....whatever that is.  :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hen's New Love...

The Learning Tower.  :)

Be still my heart.