Sunday, July 29, 2007

La Leche League's 50th anniversary

This week is the 50th anniversary of La Leche League's first meeting. Bravo to La Leche League and to all of her leaders for helping and supporting breastfeeding mothers and children all over the world. Here is a video discussing La Leche League and its beginnings- it sends shivers down my spine and spreads happiness through my soul.

A friend pointed this video out, a supporter of breastfeeding with a completely different twist. My daughter nurses her baby dolls and has them nurse one another. Many of them still come with bottles, however. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they were marketed to nurse and it was just a given to other little girls and boys that their baby dolls would nurse as well! Some of these babies in the video are even nursing toddlers- hooray!

Here is La Leche League's website if you want to check them out or donate some time or money.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

recent photos

These are our wonderfully abundant blueberry bushes out front. There are four of them and it has been a real treat to pick blueberries at home.

Close up of blueberries, Eva with blueberries

Samuel's photo of his boots, Eva's photo of the number 8, the teddy bear family all together

Pete and Repete

Or is it Peat and Repeat? Or Pete and Repeat? Remember that one? For some reason I always think of crows when I hear this joke and I am not sure why.

Pete and Repete were sitting on a fence, Pete fell off and who was left?

Pete and Repete were sitting on a fence, Pete fell off and who was left?

Pete and Repete were get the idea, right?

So I told this joke to Samuel a while back. Now he tells versions of this joke quite frequently.
Samuel's versions go like this-

This morning he told this joke:
Mommy and Remommy were sitting on a shelf, mommy fell off and who was left?
Laughter, guffaws, chuckles!

Yesterday in the car he told this one:
Snake and Resnake were sitting on a shelf, Snake fell off and who was left?
Laughter, guffaws, chuckles!

It is a whole new way to tell a very old joke! And there are endless possibilities!

find out how old you are

This is fun!

spider season

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the spiders. You can see their webs in the grass, all shimmery with dew in the morning or in the rain. There are just dozens and dozens of them all across our lawn. If you get down to their level you can look down into their web tunnels and see them waiting inside the tunnels, ready to jump out and pounce. We have several spiders on the patio guarding egg sacs and dozens in the compost bin. Lots of baby spiders. We have little crab spiders on the flowers. Two months ago we had an egg sac hatch near the patio and we watched the babies for days crawl around and jump into the wind and find suitable places to build the tiniest webs. These babies were banded garden spiders, one of my favorite spiders. They are the giants you see outside in large orb webs, particularly at night, at the end of summer. They can be an inch across with very long legs and are striking when you take a flashlight out at night and shine it on them. Right now they are still young and smallish (about a 1/4 inch) but over the next month or so they will grow quite large.

Friday, July 27, 2007

county fair

Yesterday the kids and I went over to the Washington County Fair in Hillsboro, Oregon. I kept it a surprise until we pulled up in the parking lot and I couldn't hide it any longer. We got there very early because I was trying to beat the heat this year. The carnival part didn't open until noon so we got a good chance to look around at everything. We saw the animals- goats, cows, draft horses, sheep, bunnies, guinea pigs, ducks and chickens. My favorites are the fancy chickens and roosters with the feathers tufted on their heads. We watched the dock dogs compete to see who could jump the farthest in the water. The really fun part in this was watching the people try and convince the dogs who weren't sure of the swimming pool to jump in. One dog in the competition jumped over 20 feet! The kids got to climb around on the tractors for sale. I think this is a true highlight of the fair for many kids- climbing around on giant tractors, excavators, bulldozers for as long as they want. And it is all free. A couple of years ago- or maybe just last Christmas!- they received as gift from Grandpa Huber a stuffed Grinch and a stuffed Sam-I-Am. These two have become a game unto themselves. They are evil rascals up to no good. Samuel and his partner (or minion depending on who you talk to) spend hours and days searching them out and locking them up. When they are out and about they frequently play the Grinch and Sam-I-Am game, without the actual stuffed guys. This is what they played while they climbed and sat in the tractors. They used the vehicles to track down the dastardly villains and lock them up.

Samuel went on a couple of rides (cars and balloons) and Eva tried out the little canoes again. The three of us went on the firetruck that goes up and down in a circle. Then Samuel spent a great deal of time playing the game where you squirt water at a bulls eye and make the little frog go up faster than the others. He won a tiger and Eva won a frog. The highlight of the trip was when we found a sword that Samuel has been looking for since the Fourth of July two years ago (or was it last year?). One of those plasticky-metal swords with a pink sheath than broke last time in a couple of days. And we found one there at the fair! For just $5 we took home a new sword with a bright blue sheath. Eva found a blow-up unicorn that she just loooooved. She has had unicorns on the mind lately, particularly after watching The Last Unicorn. We looked at several pictures of them on the web yesterday as well!

And then the crowning glory came later in the day when we all went to the rodeo. Yes. This is something I swore I would never do, take my kids to the rodeo. But we have this whole horse thing going on and it seemed like a good idea. We ended up leaving before the barrel racing, which was too bad because that was the part I really wanted to see. I guess it is feasible I will go to another rodeo at some time in the future and be able to see barrel racing up close. It was an interesting time. It ran a little late because some of the cowboys and cowgirls on their way to the event were pulled over for speeding. I think they were given tickets too, which is extremely ironic given that their reason for being at the rodeo was speed. It takes like 10 seconds to rope a calf and even less to wrestle a steer. And they have to stay on a bareback bucking horse for 8 seconds. One of the guys had to do that event twice because the judges didn't think the horse bucked enough. You should have seen that horse bucking! It must be tremendous to be able to stay on a horse who is putting all of his effort into getting you off of him. We saw one man get stepped on by his horse when he jumped off to wrestle the steer. They kind of systematically fall off the horse onto the steer and wrestle it down. Wild. And Eva kept asking me if the little calves were alright. I have to say that I too was rooting for the calves...

After all of that I was exhausted. I admire the kids their enthusiasm and stamina. We woke up this morning and Samuel asked if we could please just go to the fair again today...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

just when I thought there was nothing to say...

...the kids sent out letters to Santa Claus. Samuel has asked for this police car that is battery operated (not human operated), with working lights and sirens and wheels and working windows (if you can) and a place for a drink (this is an important one). He asked for it last year for Christmas and the year before and decided to send out a special request in July and also wanted Santa to know that this should not in any way be his only Christmas gift and could actually be sent special delivery right now (leaving Christmas free for other gifts). He also asked for a baby doll for Eva so that when his police car arrived she would have something to do and he didn't want her to feel left out of the fun. The police car is a two seater, leaving a space for Eva in the passenger seat. I am really wishing him luck on this one because, as he says, he would really enjoy it.

Eva was inspired after Samuel told her about the baby doll and she wrote up another list to send to Santa. The list Eva sent had all kinds of things that Samuel would like. Things like a race car and robots and mango tango drink and some flowers and I wish I had made a copy of the list before I sent it because it was very sweet and thoughtful. But no, we sent out the letters, stamped and addressed to Santa Clause, The North Pole.

We are also still waiting for a lego Cloud City that Samuel can bid on and win. The last one seemed like a sure thing but at the last minute someone came in and placed a bid that was much too rich for our blood, at least for the time being. There seems, however, to be an unending supply of lego Cloud City sets out there. I wonder at the number of people who bought them and NEVER opened them, just kept them around to sell on ebay for quite a bit more than I ever thought a lego set could go for. Just goes to show ya', there is always more stuff to want.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Tao of aphids

"The great Tao flows everywhere.
All things are born from it,
yet it doesn't create them.
It pours itself into its work,
yet it makes no claim.
It nourishes infinite worlds,
yet it doesn't hold on to them.
Since it is merged with all things
and hidden in their hearts,
it can be called humble.
Since all things vanish into it
and it alone endures,
it can be called great.
It isn't aware of its greatness;
thus it is truly great."
-from Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell

Ok- it doesn't literally say it is about aphids, but if you think about aphids when you read the passage it is... fun! I think it could work with anything.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Well, it's me and the aphids out in the garden...

And we have several things in common, too. We both like kale. We both like broccoli. We both were happy when the lovage bloomed. We like the roses. We are both very excited when we see a ladybug, albeit for different reasons. I guess I am sort of rooting for the ladybug, though I do respect the aphid for his abundance and optimism and flexibility with food choices. And the little ladybug larvae eat even more aphids than the adult lady bugs.

But then it comes time for me to eat and the aphids and I part company. At first I tried to get the food without hurting the aphids. I have to be honest. I am perfectly happy letting the aphid go about his or her business, eating away in the garden, even if it means that I didn't get to use any of the dill I planted. Even if it means them coating the backs of the kale plants. I thought about not planting broccoli next year because it was just too much for me with the aphids all up in the little flowers. The guy at the market where I bought a new dill plant told me I really should do something about the aphid problem I have. I guess I am hoping the ladybugs will do their best and I will just carry on.

I could not get to the food without hurting the aphids. I tried brushing them off, then shaking them off. They squish pretty easily, for those of you who aren't familiar with them. They are a type of soft-bodied insect and that means they squish. So then I tried to rinse them off kind of nicely, you know? But they, um, held on. So then I did some soul searching, some deep thinking about the matter and realized that if I was going to eat any of the plants that the aphids were already enjoying (without eating the aphids, I mean. Because I did consider that option as well...) I was going to have to get rid of at least the aphids on the plant I intended to eat. And that, finally, meant hot water. The aphids let go of the plant once they were immersed in hot water.

I realize that I am sounding like a thoroughly modern, disconnected-from-my-food-source kind of person. Naive. What I am going for is mindfulness with my food, connection to my food. Questioning. Connection and understanding of how my food comes to me. Somewhere, I hope, between my neighbor who totes a backpack of pesticide/herbicide shooting it out at whatever is not wanted and the Jains, sweeping brooms out in front of them, not wanting to harm anyone in their path. I am going for knowledge that I have to kill the aphids (or eat them) if I want to eat the kale, but not killing the aphids just because they are there. Acknowledgment that we both live here, we both eat kale. And lets face it, if I kill off the aphids just because they are there, eating kale I haven't gotten to yet, what would the ladybugs eat?

So then I forged a compromise with the aphids. The compromise is this- I break off parts of the plant where they have really dug in, parts they are just coating with their little soft-bodied selves. Then I put those parts into a little compost heap I have right over in the garden, branches and dead plants and such. They get to stay there and eat away, moving on to other plants when they are done. I take the other plants inside (with some aphids on them) and put them in hot water. I feel pretty good about it and feel like the aphids might be ok with this compromise as well. And I pay attention when I have to put the plants and aphids in hot water. It isn't pleasant but I am doing my best.

Tonight we had kale, fresh from the garden with garlic and onions and potatoes, also fresh from the garden. The aphids had kale too. In fact, they are still having kale...

Cardoon flower, sweet pea flowers, bee haven!

Big bucket o' garlic!

Horses on the mind

Yesterday Samuel had his riding lesson. He is out on the lunge line officially now and working on trotting. The light in the barn is not really conducive to taking photos. There are large open doors and windows with the sun coming in very brightly AND there are large round light bulbs hanging down. I did the best I could. It is really fun watching him up there on Miraj and Samuel is thoroughly enjoying himself.

Samuel on Miraj.

Samuel laughing on Miraj, Samuel on Miraj with his teacher Sophia.

We also went to the 4-H Horse Fair yesterday and saw some English riding and horses.

Here is Eva all ready to go to the horse fair. She likes to wear cowboy boots now as well.

On a completely different note, we just finished up a marathon viewing of the first season of Lost in Space. Remember that? Samuel's first robot many years ago was Robot B9 from Lost in Space (referred to only as Robot in the show). He was interested in where the robot came from and we ordered the first season from the library. It was quite a bit of viewing and then it was over, just like that. Now he would like to order season two, because of course season one ended with a cliffhanger...

Samuel and his robots ready to watch Lost in Space. You can see B9 next to him. The other two robots are Galactic Warrior and Mazinga.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Of all the cats, Miss Magoo can be the most pliable. Samuel set her up for this photo.

parade photos

I haven't had time to mention that on the Fourth we had a parade right in front of our house. It ran all the way down our street, Park Way. In the past we have gone to the parade in Hillsboro which is quite an event and lasts over two hours. This year we decided to check out the parade right out front. It lasted about an hour and was a fun community parade with many families and kids and dogs all dressed up in red, white and blue. They walked, rode bikes, pulled wagons, drove cars and there were a few floats as well. There was a father and son who drove their fancy motorcycles together and a little terrier dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and one momma who painted her pregnant belly. Very decorative. And of course no parade is complete without a bag of candy to take home.

The parade begins, little ones riding bikes, doggie paraders...

Fun tuba-like instruments, fancy cars...

Eva's photos

Here are some photos Eva took yesterday. Everything is from her view point. If you think of where she is coming from (size three feet, age four) it greatly enhances the photos!

what I know about radishes so far...

Lately I am in the food groove. The kids and I go to the u-pick a couple of times a week to pick berries. These days we have to go early to beat the heat. We are, in fact, going tomorrow because right now is a very exciting berry time. There are many different varieties of berries in season right now and many of them will not be in season long- black raspberries (black caps), boysenberries, Marion berries... When I am not u-picking I am thinking about what to do with all of the berries and other produce- lots of veggies- that have currently taken hold of my life. We have a basket of veggies delivered from a local farm every Friday and of course my garden keeps on coming with unbelievable abundance. I guess I should start to believe it, because it is right there in front of me! And we go to the Portland Farmer's Market most Saturday mornings. I used to buy most if not all of my produce from the market before this basket subscription and my garden. Now I buy a few items each week (like fresh tuna!), although with more and more fruit coming in season I will doubtless buy more- cherries, apricots, nectarines and melons!

This week I made two different kinds of jam- more raspberry and some really delicious boysenberry. And raspberry syrup, which turned out to be really sweet jam. Oh well. And some egg rolls. And I bought pickling spices and hope to make carrot and beet pickles. And I am going to try some kimchi. I have tried other fermented products, but all of them were dairy- yogurt, Keifir, creme fraiche. I am not the biggest fan of dairy and no matter what I try, too much of it makes me and my kids ill. So I am going to move on to some vegetable ferments. Kimchi looks interesting and I can use some of my radishes.

Which brings me to what I know about radishes so far... First, of course, that you can eat the root and they can be quite spicy. Eva introduced me to radishes a couple of summers ago. I had never bought them before because I thought they were too spicy. And they were- at first. Then they kind of grew on me, but only a little bit. Eva kept insisting we buy them until they became a sort of staple, not quite like carrots, but definitely more common for us than say Kohlrabi. That brings us to this year when we planted some in the garden way back in February. When we first started harvesting the radishes, Eva tried them and promptly spit them out. "Yuck! I don't like spicy things." Great, I thought. What am I going to do with all of these radishes now?

The first thing I found was of course you can eat the leaves, which I read are "better for you" than the actual root. Not sure about that because aren't roots supposed to be really amazing as well? It seems kind of like a moot point at this stage of the game for me but I still love to know what is edible. The next thing I learned is that if you let them (and when I say *let* I mean that you don't pick them when people normally pick them) they will flower and they have such lovely pink flowers I brought them into the house and put them in a vase. You can eat the flowers, of course. The flowers will grow and grow into a very large plant and vine out and then they will make seeds. The seed pods are edible too and if you eat them your mouth will once again recognize the spicy radish taste. In fact all of it including the flowers taste like radishes. The seed pods are VERY spicy. I thought about pickling those but I would need to find someone who likes very spicy things. Dad? Are you interested in some spicy-pickled-radish-seed-pods? Not your average Christmas gift I guess.

Anyway, I am pretty excited to try making the kimchi, never mind that when I tried it many years ago I did not like it. I didn't like radishes then either, though. And I certainly didn't know most of what I know about radishes now. Maybe kimchi will end up being more than just a fun project. Maybe I will make it once a week and end up using it as a staple in my home... Ah well I can dream can't I? And all of this from radishes!

Yellow broccoli flowers with pink radish flowers in the background.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

rocket fuel

Today I paid Samuel $10 for a jelly jar full of rocket fuel. While I was making raspberry hand pies (a.k.a turnovers), Samuel came into the kitchen asking for supplies, ingredients, "corn starch, flour, anything at all". I gave him a bowl of whole wheat pastry flour and he went on his way. He was having a secret club meeting in the back bedroom and I gathered from his request that he had found a *reason* for his meeting that he was happy with.

About five minutes later he came back into the kitchen asking for some more ingredients. I told him I didn't have much and gave him another bowl of flour after looking around a bit. He and Eva had long ago cleaned out many of my "supplies" during their last round of concocting witch's brew out on the patio. Stores of baking soda, vinegar, corn starch have all been turned into something else. No matter, he seemed pleased with the whole wheat pastry flour, which is great because I was using spelt for the pies.

I returned to my pies and over the next half hour Samuel came in and out asking for water and then some of my olive oil. I gave him a little peanut oil, a little more grudgingly than I am happy to admit. And then voila! He offered me rocket fuel for $10. Of course I was intrigued.

After Samuel handed me the jar of rocket fuel and I handed him ten dollars, or rather Eva and I handed him ten dollars, Samuel left to put his money away and Eva and I contemplated the rocket fuel.

"Do you think it really works, momma?" Eva asked me seriously.

"I don't know," I told her. "Do you have a rocket to try it out in?"

"No," she shook her head. "But I have a horse that can use it."

So we added a little, glug glug to the back of the unicorn. Then we waited to see if it would work.

Samuel had said the rocket fuel "was the first rocket fuel ever to be able to take you to another planet". I wasn't sure what to do next but Samuel had already thought of that. Eva told him we gave some to her unicorn and he said, "No no, it doesn't go in a horse!" He then asked for some toilet paper rolls and disappeared into the back bedroom again. When he reappeared he was holding a toilet paper roll that had tape across the bottom. He spooned some of the rocket fuel into the roll and taped up the top. Then he told us to follow him outside. I had no idea what to expect at this point.

"See," Samuel said, "a rocket needs fuel!" Then he showed us how to throw the rocket, now full of fuel. Basically, you chuck it really hard into the air and then it lands on the ground. After a couple of times it pretty much explodes onto the pavement.

I have to say I was impressed. It was creative, really fun and even included Eva. She liked it so much she paid for two extra rockets after the first. Did I mention the rocket fuel did not come with a complementary rocket? Rockets were $3. Eva got a deal and paid just $1.22 for the third rocket. Pretty good, I would say.

Samuel now has big plans for setting up a rocket fuel stand out front, complete with rockets and jars of fuel. "How many people do you think will stop to buy some?" You just never know...

Here is the rocket and the rocket fuel. Samuel added the fuel to the rocket.

Here are Samuel and Eva with the rocket fully loaded with fuel, ready to launch.

Here is Eva after the first throw, watching to see what will happen. And finally, you can see the rocket after it has been thrown repeatedly.

Monday, July 2, 2007

more on right brained- visual spatial learners

I was looking through a homeschooling blog I like and have posted about before- Throwing Marshmallows and came across another great page of posts about visual spatial learners. I like this quote- "Right-brainers are not broken! If there are left-brained learners and right-brained learners, why isn’t there a plethora of negative labels for the left-brained learner? Each type of learner should be valued for what it offers. Each learner should be allowed to flourish in the environment that supports their timeframe and process. Just because the left-brained value system is so prolific in our society and culture doesn’t mean it is superior. It means it is accepted, which means the supports are in place, which means it is easier to value what already exists."

Much of what is written about right brained- visual spatial learning is negative, as though something is broken and needs to be fixed. What bothered me in the book Upside-down Brilliance was this attitude. That the kids- people- were not getting things properly or in the right time frame. Never mind what they DO get. Stephanie from Throwing Marshmallows point this out as well- "It [A Global View of Strategies for Visual Spatial Learners] assumes that phonics is the correct way to learn to read and if you don’t learn by phonics at age 6 or 7, then you are “poor at reading” i.e., something is “wrong”. Yet, r-b kids, if not forced to try to read before they are ready or in a manner which is contrary to their learning style are NOT poor readers. They are not even “late” readers. They are “right on time readers” for them. It is only the system that labels them “poor” or makes them feel “less than”.

Another blog for this sort of dialogue- Apple Stars. I have to read a little more...

Here is a great post about reading for r-b visual-spatial learners, also from Apple Stars.

And here is part of an interesting outline she has on her blog-

"1. Not here to give you a label to attach to child

2. Two reasons to understand this style of child

a. Mass schooling teaches in left-brain fashion

(1) most of us were taught there

(2) we often start with this teaching style

b. Society thus values left-brain traits

(1) help you recognize which traits

(2) help you learn to value right-brain traits

II. RIGHT-BRAINED TRAITS (from our family’s experiences)

A. Visual Interests

1. Give value

a. video games/computers

b. drawing

c. music

d. theater/dance

e. building

2. Encourage gifts

a. get supplies

b. create availability

c. subscribe/collect

B. Alone Time

1. Create time

a. takes time

b. requires concentration

2. “Perculating” time

a. concepts solidify through thinking

b. concepts solidify through interest exploration

3. Pursues interests

a. gifts require time and commitment

b. views world through interest

C. Resists Teaching; Loves Learning

1. Because don’t teach the way they learn"


Eva says this is a momma pine cone with her baby pine cones nursing on her. She set it all up today on the nature table.

These are little scenes I caught around the house the last couple of days. The first is a group of playmobil guys and Eva said they are all partners and she put their hats on them and lined them up. The next two are the happy gorillas having a tea party of sorts. This scene gets set up repeatedly so I decided to get a picture because it is obviously important. The other day Eva was pretending to be a happy gorilla and throwing her hands up in the air like they are.

This is a tea party Eva set up. We tried to make a sort of teepee but ran out of large enough sticks to build it all around with. Eva said this was a fun party but the tea had too much sugar in it.

This is how Eva dressed up today (and for the past couple of days). Those are pillow cases and one is clipped to her in back and the one on her head is draped just so. I let her fix it because she has the right touch. She calls it her maiden costume and I think a lot of it is in the attitude. The shoes help too- little flower flip flops that sparkle in the sun.

words from Owen Meany

Owen Meany said, "If you care about something, you have to protect it- if you're lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."