Sunday, August 31, 2008

365 photo blog inspiration

I have been inspired by Project 365 and the Shine-y folks at the shine-with-unschooling list that I am on and I want to try out posting a photo a day to my blog, in addition to my other blog posts. Initially, I had thought about starting another blog for this purpose but decided against it, lest it turn into too many have-tos and not enough inspiration. Goodness knows, I don't need to add any more have-tos to my life. Creative inspiration, however, is always welcome, energy permitting. I was also prompted to fix the clock on my camera, which as it turns out, was three days behind. Imagine! If you want to see other unschooling photo blogs, you can follow the Shine with Unschooling ring on the right. There is some great inspiration to be found among those blogs for sure.

Eva made mud cakes for her frogs...The one with the apple is the birthday-frog and she is off enjoying her cupcake on her own. She is two weeks old today. Eva just let me know that the flower on the apple is actually the frog's hat and she set it on the apple/ cupcake to make it pretty. She is going to take it off when she is done. The full scoop.

And I just cannot get enough of our rat Charlie looking so cute in his little snugly. This snugly is made from one of Samuel's old sweat pant legs. Different than my fleece socks, but really just the same. He comes out for snacks, as usual. Oh, and we found out that he does indeed run on his new wheel that we got him- just not usually when we are around because he is too preoccupied with our giving him snacks.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I just got my produce basket and am so happy to say that there are a ton of tomatoes and an eggplant! Oooh and carrots and corn. Hooray for vegetables!


Yesterday was Peach Day and we got the carpets cleaned, which was a huge thrill in and of itself. I found this great guy who brought his 8 year old son with him to help and he actually understood that just because there are stains on your carpet does not mean you are a bad person. After he had finished, he said that most of the carpets that he cleans are really already clean and that it was nice to have a feeling of satisfaction after cleaning one for once. I am definitely going to take that as a compliment. We have wood floors in the other rooms, but the living room/ computer area and halls are all carpeted and wow what a difference. It looks great in here!

Peach Day was celebrated by canning peaches and making peach jam from the peaches that we picked earlier this week with Ellen. I still have plenty of peaches left over to make more peachy goodness or to freeze some if it comes to that. One thing that was great this time around while canning peaches was that I learned you can drop the peaches in boiling water just like tomatoes and pull their skins off sooooo easily. It was just a joy to find this out and I shared it with the kids and they pulled off a whole bowl full of peaches and then helped to chop some for the jam.

Today we picked some autumn raspberries and some blackberries and I am ready to pick pears as well. The leaves are just starting to turn here, just here and there, if you look close and the sun is moving lower in the sky a bit so there is that late summer warmth that is different from the high sun heat of mid summer. This is also the time of year when maybe I have had enough zucchini and really look forward to some eggplant in my produce basket to offset the squash. I made more minestrone and it was divine. Minestrone is definitely one of my very favorite soups. Looking forward to some more tomatoes to make tomato soup.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

ballet in the rain

Tonight, Eva performed a ballet for me out in the rain called The Glistening Swan. It was a ballet in 7 acts (maybe 8) and in it, Eva danced and jumped and had many arm flourishes and hummed and sang mmm hmmm mmm hmmm mmm hmmm and after each act she came in and asked if I knew what the moral to that act was and when I said I did not, she explained it all in detail. It was particularly fun to dance in the rain tonight because Eva has discovered that she can slide and glide over the wooden boards on part of the deck.

In The Glistening Swan, there are three characters, two men and one woman. The two men are in love with the same woman. One of the men asks her to marry him and she says yes and they dance and dance. When this man goes to sleep, the second man, who is miserable and jealous, turns the first man into a donkey. When he wakes up, the donkey-man jumps around and runs around and generally holds his head and brays like a donkey mournfully at his fate. The woman sees him and gives him a-"Hey, what happened to you, are you the man I said I would marry?"-look and then chases after him and pulls his ears and he is turned back into a human again. Easy peasy.

Of course, the evil-magician-man turns donkey man back into a donkey after he sees that he is a human again. And when the woman sees donkey-man is a donkey again, she gives him a-"Hey Buddy, what is up with you?"-look, over and over, holding her head and leaping in the air. And donkey-man grabs his head in dismay as he realizes once again he is a donkey and not a human. Over the course of the next several acts, the woman chases the donkey and he chases her and there is much leaping and sliding and finally the woman succeeds in putting the antidote in his ear, but instead of turning him into a human (going through his whole body, Eva explained to me) it only turns his ear into a human ear. And the chasing continues through the second ear and finally to his head.

I was worried donkey-man would remain part donkey forever because at this point, Samuel joined in as the donkey and began running around but he soon left the production because the direction was not adequate. Then Jack joined in and ran around. Luckily for donkey-man, however, Eva continued to the end and the woman kissed the man's ear and hugged him and gave him the final antidote and he was, once again, a human. And they danced off happily together. Ta da!

Here are some photos that my friend Lisa took of us at Jameson Square Fountain, where we ventured recently on one very very hot day (thanks Lisa!).

Not ice cream. Very close. It is indeed crushed ice. And very tasty because they got seconds.
Over the last several days, weeks, Samuel has taught himself how to ride a bike without training wheels. He is so excited and likes to ride around in the back yard on our patio while he listens to his books on tape. Actually, I think part of his success has been combining the two activities because when he would go out to just try and ride the bike without the training wheels, he was often so frustrated that he would stop. When he listens to Freddy the Pig, he seems to relax a bit and it has really worked out for him this time.

What have we been up to?

We went and picked some blueberries on Sauvie Island but ended up with some wild blackberries instead. And the kids had ice cream afterward from the Farm Store at Krugers.

We went to a gymnastics center and played in the foam and on the trampolines. And the kids had ice cream afterward.

We went to the Farmer's Market and then to Bug Fest at the Nature Center nearby. There were some very informed entomologists there who would identify different bugs the kids caught. We learned there are 4,000 species of bees in the United States alone. There are 20,000 bee species world wide. Wow. Eva found a tumbling flower beetle. She even saw him tumble. No ice cream afterward, but Eva had one of those yummy Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches at the market.

We went to the Arboretum today and had a lovely walk in the woods. And the kids had ice cream afterward.

Gosh, that is a lot of ice cream. It is a good thing they like it!

I started a new sweater. Afterward I made a juice in my fantastic juice machine I was given for Mother's Day. I used beets and cherry tomatoes and zucchini from my farm basket and carrots and cherry tomatoes and cucumber from the garden. I have to say that the more juice I make, the better it gets. The tomatoes and beets really go well together and I am so glad I planted so many carrots because those have turned out to be great to juice as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

this and that

Yesterday it rained! and was significantly cooler and I got to wear my new sweater. Hooray! I am so glad I took the time to fix the measurements. It was definitely worth the time spent.

Eva called me imbetetuous while we were making hot chocolate last night and I am still unclear about its meaning, although I did get the feeling that it was a good thing, in her mind, to be imbetetuous. As in, "You're so imbetetuous".

A few days ago, Matt walked into the living room and said that it smelled like pee. This is not a new smell for any of us and Samuel called out that it must be Agnes who peed behind the TV again (which she does from time to time when she is frustrated (with me) about something, and then I am frustrated with her and then I remember she is 15 and a good friend, but still..) And Samuel told him to tell me because I am the "pee warden". Yet another title I never thought I would have. One I never even knew existed, to be honest.

Friday, August 15, 2008

study in purple cone flowers

finished sweater

Scarlet Runner beans the Hummingbirds love; Eva and Samuel with all of the babies in mid-game.

I finished up the summer sweater I have been working on. It is a raglan, long sleeve and knit from 100% organic cotton yarn made by Araucania and Patagonia. Now I just need a cooler day to try it out. Soon, soon... I am finding out that while the knitting may go smoothly, the shaping and fitting can be trying. I ripped out and redid the bottom hem and length three or four times and the sleeves twice. I also took out the neck hem to make it looser


Sage, Hyssop, Oregano in bloom, Echinacea/Purple Cone Flowers

Intricate Playbmobil game set up.

This is a game that Samuel came up with today. It is called Space Wars and is based on Star Wars figures and is also related to WWII, which he has been learning about from Brain Pop, as told per Samuel. It is a strategy game that has a few components of chess and also uses the D20 dice from D&D to determine whether or not an attack is successful. The pieces are Lego guy, some space Lego guys, some Indiana Jones Lego guys and then Eva and I got to have Princess Leia as our main guy. You can see the giant tank thing- which is from an Indiana Jones Lego set- that is one of Samuel's guys, but of course.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Oooo Eeee. One hundred degrees. So hot today.

Meanwhile, there are blueberries to pick and spiders to watch and flowers to plant as others have their final days in the hot hot weather. There are lots and lots of beans. I am happy to say that the Scarlet Runner Beans that the hummingbirds love so much are also quite tasty to eat. The Jacobs Cattle Beans have turned out really well too.

Samuel has fresh ideas for advertising for his dog walking business. He is also really enjoying Brain Pop these days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Yesterday we went on a tour of an urban goat farm in Portland. It was definitely worth it and I wish I had brought my camera. There were six (or seven) goats there and the kids and some adults got to take a turn milking one of the mellower female goats. Samuel was thrilled he tried it out and really loved the experience. We all got to try out some of the fresh goat milk and I brought home a 1/2 gallon, which I think I am going to use to make soap, although I may end up making yogurt with it, depending on how quickly I move. It is the type of thing to make kefir with but I have no kefir grains. Something will come of it I am sure. The man who owns the farm will let anyone who shows up at milking time take a turn milking the goats. How fun it that?

Today we went u-picking and were pleasantly surprised to find raspberries! and marionberries (in August!!) and even a few boysenberries!

We just finished a really wonderful set of stories by Ruth Stiles Gannett called My Father's Dragon (the second and third books are Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland). They are so good and I can't recommend them enough. I enjoyed them at least as much as Winnie the Pooh! There are just so many good books out there and then there are some really fun ones and this is one of the really fun ones for sure!

I forgot to post that Samuel rented a violin and is now hoping to take violin lessons. His art teacher from last spring teaches violin and we are hoping to have lessons with her. She teaches suzuki violin, which seems like a good fit for Samuel, at least in theory, and he is wanting to give it a try after taking some time with the violin on his own. The place we rented it from was great and they fitted him with a violin just his size and there is a case, etc. So that is some more fun news from around here.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

of interest

We read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder and loved it as much as the other Little House books. Such inspiration!

We also enjoyed Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. It is the story of a boy of 13 who stays behind to watch his family's new homestead in Maine while his father returns to Massachusetts to bring back his mother and sister. The boy is befriended by local Native American tribes...Really good. I wanted to read some more of her books but haven't yet. I may wait because the others seem more advanced.

...and Cricket in Time Square by George Selden...although when I tried to read the others- there is a series that follows this initial book- Samuel said it was good but not really good enough to read more of. On we go...

We are also reading the Catfish Bend series by Ben Lucien Burman, one of which I have from when I was a kid. I had to special order them from the library and am in kind of a hurry to get through them so that I can return them. I could probably get them for around $.50 each on Amazon but am hoping to finish the library ones while I can.

Samuel is designing a video game that he is hoping to sell to Lego to develop.

Eva is coming up with new stores and clubs every day...Eva's wood club, Eva's ice chopping club...and then she walks through the house announcing the grand opening and suggests everyone join her [for a small fee].

I am excited that the neighboring hummingbirds are coming to the garden because they LOVE the scarlet runner bean flowers and the borage flowers! I was just two feet from one in the garden yesterday!

Yesterday was Lammas- the day midway between Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox. It is a celebration of mid-summer harvest and I for one am celebrating with BLUEBERRIES and TOMATOES and ZUCCHINI!