Friday, July 29, 2011

In the Garden With My Loves...

The garden calls to me in the morning.  I hurry to finish the necessary tasks, the must be dones, so I can head outside.  Some of the special beauties growing there, they wait for no one.  If you don't get up early enough you don't get to see them raising their petals to the sky.
squash flowers at sunrise

 morning glories singing their praises...reaching for the sky...see that one tendril reaching up past the gate  a few feet?
 Some flowers do wait, patiently even.  This one grew in a very unlikely place and gave me quite an interesting perspective when I stooped down to his level.  Funny how a flower can make even an old rusty fence an object of beauty.
 the chicken coop peeking through the morning glories

 Today the first tomato was spied!  He's hiding behind a leaf, blushing red with sweet ripeness.
 This year we were adventurous and planted spaghetti squash.  This one is quite large and the boys check on it every day.  I'm not sure what they are expecting it to do or be but they think it is amazing that it grew from the small seed they put into the ground last May.
 Hen in the early morning sunshine. 

The best thing about the garden?  Even better than all the delicious things it gives us, is how it brings my boys together.  When I am weeding or watering a boy is certain to be nearby asking questions, looking for bugs and telling me the things on his heart.  They are becoming quite knowledgeable about growing things, but more importantly they are learning patience and trust and how to tell me their little hopes and worries.

Today we picked cucumber beetles off the squash vines.  Sounds like a "not so fun" job, but it was actually a good time!  A boy would spy one and I would come and scoop it up and drop it into a jar of soapy water.  It became a game of hunting and we soon had a jar full of them.  The boys were especially interested in why the cucumber beetles float and other beetles do not.  I think I sense a bug anatomy lesson in our very near future. (isn't homeschooling great?)

 Cricket with the jar of bugs.

We harvested more than bugs today. :)  Lettuce and green beans and cucumbers.  Basil and tomatoes.  Eggplants.  The peppers are almost ready and the new potatoes too.  

It must be a gift to grow things.  The way my soul feels about it.  Growing food.  Flowers.  Boys.  For me, it just doesn't get much better than that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Sunshine comes in many forms. This beauty greets us in the morning out the dining room windows.  Several of them actually.  The song birds have decided to claim them and we do not mind.  There is always something to watch while we are sitting to eat or to do a creative project.

 Here's Hen all ready for a walk.  Such a happy boy.
 Little Owl with his walking stick.  Reminder to self, don't ever try to convince a boy to choose a smaller stick unless you really feel like getting into it.
 Many of our walks end at a park of some sort.  The brothers wouldn't all look at the camera. (I don't blame them as I am not one to pose children) I love this picture even though they aren't all looking in the same place because it is so natural.
 Hammock love.
 Badger at soccer.  The boy loves to run.  And run.  And run....
 Go team!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Learning With Friends

The boys had an awesome opportunity today.  One that they will be talking about and thinking about for quite some time, I think.  A friend of ours, a young man, from our community, brought over his Lego creation.  His amazing Lego creation.  The boys were in awe.  
 It's a tank hunter. (looked like a tank to me!) It was truly amazing.  Can you see the little blue minifigure in the above photo.  We put that guy there for scale.  This thing is really large.
 Here it is with its remote.  Yep.  It moves and turns and shoots with a aimable, reloadable gun.  Crazy neat!  I do not describe it well enough to do justice to it.  I do not have an engineering mind.  But our friend does and he explained the three motors and levers and design very thoroughly to the boys, who listened eagerly and asked all kinds of questions.  They were so impressed.  Truly.  It was such fun.
 The photo below is of the inside, with the armor removed.  
What a treat for the boys to be able to share this with our friend.  There was such a nice conversation following, such showing of Legos by the boys, showing the hermit crabs, talking about boy things.  There was even some talk of this young guy guiding our boys in the "next step" into learning about simple machines and building with Lego motors.  Cool.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Reasons

Two years into this journey, the journey of Home Education, I find myself rethinking the reasons we homeschool.  Our lovely little co-op is losing two of its teachers and we are feeling really jumbled up with the change.  And also, this year I will be incorporating more activites for and with the two littler men, and this change is making me feel a little nervous too.  When discussing it with my beloved J, he calmly said, well maybe we should send them to school. *gulp*  I will leave you to imagine my less than gracious reply. (ahem)

I wonder how it is that school "worked" for J.  He thinks, on the whole, that it did, you see.  He is incredibly smart and well balanced intellectually.  So in that way it "worked", I guess.  I just can't help but think that education is not only about one's intellect.  It is so much more than that.  I want my boys to discover learning with their whole person.  I want them to learn that growing one's mind is dependent upon growing one's body and soul too.  I want them to learn how to be emotionally intelligent and to learn to serve others and live a life of faith.  Intelligent faith that is deeply rooted and applicable to life.

School did not work for me.  I quickly learned that I didn't have to participate very much, that I could still get very good grades on tests and that as long as I did that no one would bother me.  School was merely a place I had to go to everyday.  I tried to have fun along the way, but honestly the only thing I got out of it was lots of "learning the hard way" when it came to developing and keeping friendships.  I think it's so strange that people think you need to send a child to school to learn to be well "socialized"!  What on earth?  How does that even begin to make sense?  I think what they mean is that they think everyone out to learn to be institutionalized, right?  Like how to sit when it's time to sit, how to be quiet and fill out worksheets properly, how to raise your hand, and how to play on the playground without getting beaten up?

I know that I am not the most socially gracious person, so perhaps I don't get to have an opinion on how one becomes a socially gracious being....but I'm just thinking that it probably has a lot to do with learning how to be kind.  How to love.  (Love is patient.  Love is kind....)  Doesn't a loving home seem to be the place to learn this?  

I also want the boys to be able to experience the freedom that comes from thinking for one's self and learning how to manage time on their own too.  I want to provide an atmosphere that is conducive to learning, to thinking, to pondering, to experimenting, to creating and then let them choose.  I want to be there to guide them when they have trouble or worries, if they need me.  I want to help them think on their own before they have a need to be in situations with other people that might be trying or difficult to manage with kindness and understanding.  I want to equip them for every good work!

I know that I will not do this perfectly.  I know that I will mess up, probably often, you know...since I'm a human being and all.  But I am not about to give up just because it would be more financially sound, or because it would make us seem more normal, or because I might mess up along the way!  These are our children we are talking about!  I want the very best for them!  The best that we can give them!  They are real human souls full of joy and wonder and life!  

ps. I asked them...and they want to homeschool this year again too. :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Healthy Lifestyle, Update

Hi friends.  I am about to share more of my weightloss journey with you.  I'm sorry if you don't like it.  It's just that, well, I am a teacher by nature.  I can't help it!  So, when I learn something new, through experience or just from reading about it, I love to tell you about it because I want you to learn too!


I've been on the journey still.  Since January (or was it late December?)  The journey is a long path that I will be on for my whole life.  It has many ups and downs.  I had a rough patch in there during late spring, when we were very busy and the healthy lifestyle kind of was set to the side.  It's so easy to make excuses! But on the whole, I'm headed in the right direction.  I'm so thankful for my friends who have encouraged me on the way.  My walking partner who comes to get me at 5:30am!  My buddies who track their food along with me at . And my little (or not so little) family that is patient in their own way while I struggle with making different foods and taking time to exercise or write down my food for the day.  Thank you all.

Things that I am working on....that are working for me (as in..helping me to lose pounds!)....

**Planning out the fruits and veggies of the day.  Really.  If it is planned for me to eat them, then I don't think we are going to not have enough for the kids for the week and I can eat them freely.  I plan out all three meals of the day for the week and try to get four servings of fruits and vegetables for everyone in there.  I know you are supposed to eat more, but you've got to start somewhere!

**Using is really helping too.  It is so important to keep track of what you eat.  It allows you to keep track of important nutrients too, not just calories, and it helps you figure out how much you can eat and still lose weight.  It calculates it specifically for you and your age, height, weight, special needs, and amount of exercise.  It varies daily with whatever exercise you did that day, so it's helpful to keep track!  It's a free website.  So go ahead and click over there if you like.  The food database is so much more inclusive than the previous website's that I had been using.  If you do sign up, let me know so I can "friend you" (silly i know) so we can encourage one another!

**I have set little goals for myself along the way.  Otherwise it can be overwhelming.  I have a weekly goal, a monthly goal and a final goal.  They change sometimes, but it helps to keep the forward momentum.

**I have found a fun reward for myself, because I need lots of encouragement and most people are too shy to encourage me about my weightloss.  So I encourage myself! My reward is...for every week that I stick with my goals (tracking food and exercising) then I buy myself fresh flowers and the end of that week.  I love flowers in the house, and sadly I am lacking them. (ahem, J, ahem...)  Now I get them and I feel good about spending that small amount of money on myself because I earned it!

**Just keep trying.  Not every day is going to be easy.  Some days I screw up.  Some days I'm grumpy and selfish and lazy.  Somedays I eat ice cream.  It's okay.  It's not the end of the world.  Just stop, turn around and get back on the path.  Do it quickly or you'll feel worse. (talking to myself here)

I'll leave you with a final quote....
"Do or do not.  There is no try."  -yoda
(did I get that right?)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Summer is upon us.  It's wonderful, really.  And still I wonder if I will ever be truly ready for summer when it comes.  Perhaps there will be a year, some time in the future, that I will be ready.  I'm not even sure really what ready means in this case, but I feel like we all anticipate summer's coming for so long and then it's here and I feel like I missed it's arrival.   I don't know.  Maybe it's supposed to be that way.  Like somehow the anticipation would be less if we knew when it's coming would be.

Anyway, while I was supposed to be paying attention to getting ready for summer, I have been.....

-Feeding my children, which apparently at this point is a full time job in and of itself.  Jeepers!

-Potty training Hen.  There is so much to say about this and yet nothing to say about this, you know?

-Taking care of the garden and my husband (who had a bad infection in his foot.  He's fine now, thank you.)

-Having a yard sale.

-Painting the upstairs hallway.  White.  I'm going for the whitewashed look.  I'm not sure why, but that's how it is for me.  I intuit paint colors and I can not explain it, nor do I think I should have to.  But I will tell you, I just am going with white because I want it to look like a blank canvas.  I'm going to hang blue flower pots all over the walls or something.  Wait and see.

-Exercising, thank you Jessica.  You rock.  I would not be getting up so very, very early without you!

-Picking berries.  Making jam.  Picking berries. Making juice.  Picking berries.  Freezing berries. Picking berries.....

-Having good conversations with My Little Men.  And reading Little Men. (Alcott)  For real, I love that book.  I wish that we had named our house Plumfield.  We were out driving in the country today, on our way to a hiking spot, and we saw a very large old fashioned house and Badger said, "That house looks just like how I imagine Plumfield to look!"

-And loving. As best I know how.  Fumbling through this world in prayer that I would be able to show those around me love.   Letting go of how I want it to be and accepting God's plan.  Trusting that His idea is better than mine and that He will show me His goodness again and again.  And all by His grace.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to Make Fresh Pesto

The basil is ready!  Are you? :)
 Reba's Pesto Recipe....adapted from the Moosewood cookbook....

6 cups fresh basil leaves (packed cups)
2/3 cups organic olive oil
2/3 cups fresh parmesan cheese
6-8 large cloves of garlic

Put the basil and garlic into a food processor and process until very finely chopped.  Add the oil and cheese and process just a bit more.  That's all!  It's that simple!  Add to pasta or pizza or chicken or fish for a delightfully, fresh summer flavor.

Variations:  You can add toasted pine nuts or walnuts to add a nice nutty flavor.  You can also substitute part spinach for the basil.  (really you can, and it still tastes great!)

To store the pesto...put into a glass jar, smooth out the top and add a small layer of additional olive oil.  This helps preserve the fresh green color and makes it last longer.  It should keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.  Pesto freezes really well too so go ahead and make a couple of batches for those winter days that are sure to come.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Memories & A Menu

Hiking at the park.  Miles of paths through shady woods, lined with blackberries and gooseberries everywhere the eye falls.  (No, the berries were not ripe yet, patience, patience! ) 
 We followed the creek through clearings of wildflowers, the creek calling to us for relief from the hot sun.  Only Millie gave in to the call.  I don't know if you can tell but she is lying down in the water.
 Eldest (Badger) was the dog walker.  He told me that if we were a pack of dogs, I'd be the Alpha female, he'd be the oldest offspring and Millie would be the least important dog.  Nice.  Cricket was the navigator.  He stopped frequently to check which direction we were going.  "We have been going South-west for a long, long time."
 The two littles got to ride (thank you, Papa) and it was fun for everyone.  (Except for the part where J had to push that stroller uphill through sand while watching for horse droppings)  He considered it exercise though, good natured as he is, said how good it was to feel oneself sweat.  Ha.

We've been making all kinds of memories these days.  We also went to the beach this weekend.  Hen flopped around like a little fish.  All the boys are growing in their ability in the water and J and I had our hands full just watching them.  (sorry no pictures!  I was too busy counting heads above the water) We had a picnic too and then came home to camp.  No we didn't sleep outside, but the boys put up their tents in Ravenwood and played among them all afternoon.  They are a regular pack of little Natives.  I love it!

We rested this afternoon and made a Flag Cake in honor of the day.  The boys made the "stars and stripes."  I used this recipe for whole wheat shortcake.  It was the first sponge cake I ever attempted and it was so worth the effort. Yum!

 (a moment of reflection? from this tired out camper)
 There were games of checkers tonight and then off to an early bedtime to help start the week off well.

And with that I'll leave you....with a Menu. (am I the only one who loves to read people's menus?)
At our house this week...
 M.....Spinach, green onion, and feta omelettes w/toast & jam
          Turkey, cheddar, and cucumber sandwiches and fresh veggies
          BBQ chicken, salad from the garden, and flag cake
T......Soaked oatmeal with raisins and nuts
         Black Bean Quesadillas, fresh veggies
         Beef & Pea Pod Stir Fry
W....Eggs in a nest w/ Nectarine slices
        PB & J, fresh veggies
        Felafel with cukes and toms and homemade flatbread
Th....Blueberry Pancakes
         Salad with cottage cheese and veggies
         Beef & Bean Tacos with fixin's and cornbread
F.....Soaked oatmeal with raisins or apples
        Nachos with beans and cheese and veggies
        Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Grape Tomatoes
S....will be on the fly....just using up whatever we have in the garden and fridge! We are on a budget afterall, and I have found that instead of changing the variety or kinds of foods to save money it works best to just have a day of eating the random things that need to be used up.

What's cookin' at your place?