Wednesday, December 31, 2008

holiday letter 2008

Because we actually wrote a holiday letter this year, but it doesn't seem like we'll be sending it out, I've pasted it here and blog-edited it.... don't complain- this is as good as I can do, people!

Happy holidays to all!
We’ve had an exciting and, well… busy year. We’re fulfilled with the past year and full of anticipation for the changes in the new one, for our family and our country.
Rising Star had a banner year- from winning the Congressional District race to be an Obama National Delegate in May, to a summer full of political campaigns and delegate organizing, an autumn of organizing fundraisers and campaign work for Barack Obama and local candidates. In August we all went to Denver for the Democratic National Convention, thanks to a very successful fundraiser/Spaghetti dinner catered by my parents and pulled off with the help of several friends, including a local bluegrass band. Our favorite delegate was chosen to sit in the special section right next to the stage, mere yards from Obama. This fall he was named the Washington State Democratic Party’s Rising Star of the Year. Of course politics is not all the Rising Star is about: he has started another term as a board member our Unitarian church and is neck deep in increasingly complicated felony cases as a public defender.
I spent the summer running a little daycamp for the boys and some of ABCD’s best friends. I took on a lot of the house and family responsibilities while the Rising Star was busy with the political season and I'm surely glad to have him back home on a slightly more regular basis! We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new baby due February 24. Yes, that does mean 5 winter birthdays in our family! (Jan 26, Jan 30th, Feb 15, Feb 26th) Thanks to weekly visits to my new doctor who specializes in Osteopathic Manipulation Technique, this has been the best pregnancy yet; so far no preterm labor or bed rest.
ABCD (8yrs, 11mos) is officially turning into a big kid. He learned to ride a bike this spring, moved into the advanced swimming group, and is learning to play the guitar. His fascination with machines continues and he is a voracious reader- currently devouring the Harry Potter series which his parents finally allowed him to start. This year he is signed up as a homeschool student through one of the public school districts, which still allows me to choose all of the curriculum, but also allows some extra funds for lessons and supplies. The program requires ABCD to take an annual assessment test and he placed in the 99th percentile in every category! His favorite subjects are Spanish, cursive, Leonardo da Vinci, practical math (measurement, time, money) and science.
Mymy (2yrs, 10mo) is as wild and hilarious and strong willed as a two year old could possibly be. He had his first haircut, and the lovely golden curls have given way to short, straight light brown hair. The baby has turned into a little boy. He loves wearing his brother’s shoes (literally), playing with play dough, tiny cars and trains, his wooden treehouse/dollhouse and painting. He is constantly in motion and sound, determined to be a big boy, at least as long as it is convenient.
We look forward to seeing and hearing from all of you. Yakima is growing by leaps and bounds and we’re in the middle of outdoor activity paradise. We’d love to show you around!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches-Crock Pot

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches- Crock Pot

Last week we finally got our 1/2 a cow, which barely, just barely fits in the downstairs freezer. Next year we're getting a bigger freezer and putting it in the garage, that's just all there is to it. Anyway I'll be doing a lot of experimenting with beef this year, since pretty much all the experience I have is STRETCHING one pound of organic pasture fed ground beef into 8 hamburgers, or making meat loaf.

I had almost all of a 3 lb (?) rump roast already cooked. When I cooked it originally I seared it all over in a skillet, then baked it covered at 325 with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic and browned onions for 2 hours. It was lightly pink in the center and moist.

I shredded that and stuck it in the crock pot with: a can (15 oz?) of tomato sauce an equal amount of water 3 T. lemon juice salt pepper 2T. paprika 1/2 t. cayenne 1/2 t. cumin 1 T. garlic 1 minced yellow onion 1/4 c. butter 1/4 c. ketchup 1/4 c. honey and set it on low 8 hrs.

We tried Sloppy Joes the other day, with a seasoning pack (gasp!) and thought it was kind of gross, but this was delicious. Everyone like it. Even ABCD who doesn't usually eat much at all ate THREE sandwiches and homemade coleslaw for supper, and wanted leftovers cold for lunch today. The Rising Star thinks we will see a lot of growth as our children turn from kind of scrawny little vegetarian children into BEEF-EATERS. Suddenly I'm wishing I'd ordered more roasts and less ground beef from the butcher. Oh well- next year!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Healthier half-whole wheat version if you have time to plan:

2 1/2 c. buttermilk -or 1 1/2 c. yogurt and 1 c. water
1/3 c. melted butter
2 t. sea salt
3 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. white flour
by hand or with a dough blade in the food processor
cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap -or aluminun foil -or a lid
and let sit on the counter 8 hrs

4 1/2 t. (2 packs) of yeast into
1/4 c. warm water
1/4 c honey
let sit 5 minutes til foamy
mix into the dough with the food processor until it forms a ball -or knead in by hand.

divide into 24 pieces, roll into balls, place on a big cookie sheet, cover with a damp towel and let rise 15-30 minutes.
brush with melted butter if you want to,
bake 15-20 minutes at 350.

Last minute White Bread version:

Use 2 c. milk/buttermilk/yogurt-water
6 c. white flour
don't let the flour soak in between , just let the yeast foam for 5 minutes with the honey-water and process everything together all at once.
Preferred by the boys, and delicious made into cinnamon rolls, but hardly healthy.
You choose.

Simplest Tomato Bruschetta/Past Sauce

Simplest Tomato Bruschetta/ Pasta Sauce

In a 9x13 pan dump 2 big cans of whole tomatoes (or use fresh ones if its summer), a handful of basil, a couple onions, a bunch of garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for as long as you've got at 300 degrees, or at the very least an hour for 350.
Dump it all in the food processor and whir it quickly.
When it is cold top tiny toasts with it, or toss it immediatley with hot pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
You could totally make this in the crock pot on low, and blend it up with the immersion blender, and then you'd have even less in the way of dirty dishes, and you could make a whole bunch at once.

Lamb Kebobs


1 1/2 c. plain yogurt
3 T. minced garlic
2 T. paprika
2 T. sea salt
1 T. pepper
1/4 c. lemon juice

Cut 5 pounds lamb (or steak or chicken) into kebob size smallish pieces, coat in marinade (you could put it all in a big ziploc bag) and rest in fridge several hours or overnight.

Soak 100 bamboo skewers for at least 1 hour or use metal and don't soak them at all.

Chop 6 red peppers, 3 sweet onions, 4 zucchini, 1 1/2 pounds of button mushrooms (don't chop those!) into fairly large chunks.

Make your skewers up the way you want them. Or don't use skewers, just put everything in a couple baking pans or sheets, and cook it that way. Its easier, but not as handy, and people will eat even more! Having those empty sticks on their plates helps with moderation, and everything will STILL get gobbled up.

Broil about 10 minutes. Flip after 5 minutes. I suppose you could grill them, but that is guy territory as far as I'm concerned. Too much hot exposed area for me to deal with when there are little wild children running around and wanting to help. I say grilling can be done when they're older. With Dad. If you can grill and keep your kids safe, you are amazing. Or you have a built in outdoor kitchen, too much money, and a nanny for your kids anyway, so don't worry. Go grill!

Serve over chopped lettuce.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley if you can do it before the hungry hordes attack!

Best Stuffed Mushrooms Ever

Best Stuffed Mushrooms Ever

In a food processor bowl grind enough toast or stale bread to make:
3/4 c. bread crumbs

then add:
stems from 2 pounds button mushrooms
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 . parsley (or 2 T. dried)
1/2 a medium onion
1 t. paprika
1 t. salt
process until fairly but not completely creamy. Scrape mixture into a frosting bag with a plain tip (or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off) and fill
2 lb button mushrooms with mixture.

Just before serving broil 8-10 minutes until brown and soft.

Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade

1 can of black olives
1 1/2 c. green olives with pimentos
3 T. capers
3 T. crushed garlic (or 6 cloves)
6 T. olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1 t. fresh ground pepper
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Dump everything in the food processor and whir 'til its all ground but not pasty.

Petite Pumpkin Pie

Petite Pumpkin Pie

2 pies worth of pie crust, rolled out and cut into biscuit size circles and fitted carefully into a mini muffin tin
whipped cream

Mix together:
2 eggs, whisked
15 oz pumpkin puree
12 oz evaporated milk
3/4 c. cane sugar
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. cardamom

Pour carefully a tiny amount into each little crust-cup, bake 350 for 20 minutes. Repeat. Cool. Serve with a dainty dollop of whipped cream.
Men especially seem to love pumpkin pie, so if you're having a party with lots of men, or want to earn the adoration and respect of your father-in-law make a bunch!

Wicked Little Pecan Pies

Wicked Little Pecan Pies

Two pies worth of pie crust
2 c. pecans

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. corn syrup*
4 T. melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 c. cream
mix all together until it is an unbelievably sticky mess.
Roll out pie crust dough and cut with a biscuit cutter, carefully press circles of crust down into a mini muffin tin, drop three shelled pecans into each one, pour a little of the filling into each one.
Bake 350 for 20 minutes. Repeat.

*I know, I know, but I was out of Lyle's Golden Syrup which no one around here sells, that's my excuse, and besides, corn syrup TASTES so clean and sweet. And if you believe the ridiculous corn syrup lobby commercials, there's absolutely nothing to be afraid of- it's just CORN!

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's Going On?

Ha, ha! We're busy. As usual.
The Rising Star has been busy getting ready for trial, writing briefs, signing people up to bring food for the church auction/supper tomorrow. I hate falling asleep before he gets home, but sometimes there's just no help for it. If I'm pregnant and responsible for two kids already all day long I just can't stay up til 2 or 3. Of course, he thinks it is ridiculous of me to even WANT to stay up, but I can't help it. Like somehow if I stand vigil he'll get home safely. What the heck am I going to do with myself when my boys are old enough to be out at night by themselves? Valium, maybe. I can't think what else would work....
I spent most of the last week freaking out about the baby- I started having contractions last Friday at this homeschool Moms group I went to, all through the night and the next day, plus throwing up and feeling awful. On Saturday night the baby dropped low, and I really had a hard time keeping it together until Wednesday when I had an appointment with my OB. She did her usual Osteopathic Maniplulative Treatments on me, which work like magic to calm everything down, get my pelvic floor in alignment and stop contractions. Then she did an ultrasound and we could see the baby's head right there, down low, but not causing any problems. So yay! She's happy, I'm happy, just trying to enjoy this pregnancy and not worry so much about all the things that could go wrong. The truth is, this time, everything is under control.
Now I have a ton of food to cook for the church auction supper. Here's the menu:
Tiny Toasts with
Hummus, Roasted Tomato Bruschetta, Olive Tapenade
Saffron Basmati Rice
Marinated Lamb and Vegetable Kebobs with Yogurt Sauce
other people are bringing veggie trays, pasta salad, a couple of other appetizers
Tiny pumpkin pies
Tiny pecan pies
French Apple Cake
Mini Cream puffs
other people are bringing cheesecakes and some other desserts.
Hot Apple Cider
someone else is in charge of wine.
Also I've been working on plans to convert the office-hall downstairs (which ends in the laundry/bathroom) into a family dressing room, with a whole wall of shelves and bins, a garment rack, tie rack, shoe racks, everything clothes-wise all in one place. I'm excited, and trying to get the Rising Star to see that $500 investment would mean a huge change for the better as far as the tidiness of our house. Clothes wouldn't even make it upstairs unless they were being worn! All the shoes downstairs instead of spilling across the living room floor. This has led me to rework, mentally, all of the rooms of the house, which is, admittedly, a little more than $500 worth of changes....
ABCD started a new block on housing through history, and is enjoying that. He also started guitar lessons a couple of weeks ago, and he likes that a lot. His teacher asked him to write down some of the music he likes, and his list included the Talking Heads, They Might Be Giants, and the Gypsy Kings. I'm glad he's still young enough to think his parents' music is cool! Uh- because it is. If only I could get him to love Lyle Lovett....
Mymy is full of energy and really delighting in pestering his brother and getting big reactions. Not so nice. 2 1/2 so much wants to be a big boy, but really, really isn't. Much to his frustration.
And mine. When is that kid going to WANT to go potty in the toilet? I'm really not excited about two bottoms to diaper all day long.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The other day we were over at our new friends' house and Mymy rediscovered the goodness of play dough. And I was inspired to make some- it had been months, since March maybe, since I'd made any, and that's practically a lifetime for a 2 year old. So he and I made play dough this morning and he played happily cutting and smashing and rolling and squeezing all the rest of the morning while ABCD tried to concentrate on schoolwork and NOT get sucked into making play dough snakes and pizzas. Here's my recipe:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
1 T. cream of tartar
mix together, then add:
1 c. water
1 T. oil
and cook over med-high heat stirring constantly until it forms a big ball, then dump it out to cool a little. When it is cool enough to handle add a couple drops of essential oil and a couple drops of food coloring.
This time we made lemon, peppermint, and rosemary, though ABCD thought rosemary and its "invigorating" properties was perhaps not the best choice for Mymy and that it would have made more sense to choose a "calming" oil. Oh well. It kept Mymy busy and even drew Foal in when she arrived for an early-release school day afternoon play date.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Late Autumn Circle

Late Autumn Circle 2008

Rise up O flame, by thy light shining, Bring to us beauty, vision and joy.

There's the firm earth under me, The blue sky over me,
So I stride, So I stand, And I see You too,
With the blue sky above you And the firm earth under you.

I’m in the mood for singing, hey how about you?
I’m in the mood for singing, singing along with you.
Hey, hey, what do you say? I’m in the mood for that today.
Hey, hey, what do you say? I’m in the mood for that!
Clapping, whistling, stomping, learning, smiling, singing

Right hand, left foot, meet in the middle,
Left hand, right foot, meet in the middle,
Right arm over left arm, play the fiddle.
Left hand, right foot, meet down low,
Right hand, left foot meet down low,
Left arm over right arm, pull the bow.
Reach to the right, reach to the left,
Stretch in front, stretch behind,
Look down below, what do you find?
Right hand reach out to a friend,
Left hand reach out to a friend,
Make a circle without end.
Moving to the right, in a ring,
Moving to the left, we will bring,
Our circle to the center, move inside,
Then back out again, like the tide.

A diamond or a coal?
A diamond if you please:
Who cares about a clumsy coal
Beneath the summer trees?
A diamond or a coal?
A coal, sir, if you please:
One comes to care about the coal
What time the waters freeze.

The gift of light we thankfully take
But nothing may be just alone for our sake.
The more we give light one to another
It shines and spreads love, still growing further;
Til every spark is set aflame,
And from every heart Joy proclaim.

Come Ye Thankful People, come, raise a song of harvest home:
Fruit and crops are gathered in, safe before the storms begin;
God, our Maker will provide for our needs to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise a song of harvest home.
All the world is but a field, given for a fruitful yield;
Wheat and tares together sown, Here for joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
God of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

Brave and true I will be, each good deed sets me free.
I will fight for the right, I will conquer the wrong.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


On a couple of homeschool email lists I belong to there's been a lot of talk lately about friends. A few questions keep coming up.
1~How do you deal with your children's playmates who are from families that don't share your same educational/child-rearing philosophies?
2~How much time should we allow for socializing?
3~What about our children's playmates that WE don't really like, or children whose parents we don't approve of?
4~How do you find friends for yourself (and your children) who share similar world views, philosophies, ages of children, and interests?
So I'm going to tackle these questions here. Because you're all dying to know my opinion, and I don't feel like doing laundry or dishes or anything resembling housework. And I've been thinking about the issue of FRIENDS a lot this fall. A family we never really got to know but always thought we'd get along with, and who we know shared a lot of our values moved away last week, and we miss them, or the lost opportunity, at any rate. And the boys and I have made some new friends, a large and lovely family who have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome in their home even though it is clear that a lot about our religions and politics don't overlap very much.
Here goes.
1~Friends with different family philosophies. Are you kidding me? Maybe if you live in a city or community where your philosophy is the dominant one you might have this problem. Maybe. Mostly this kind of question seems to come from parents who worry about the effects of the TV world and children raised in the mainstream culture on their sheltered children and protected families. I understand the concern, but it has never been too much of a problem for us. Not as big a problem as not having any kids to play with because all your friends are in school and busy with classmate's birthday parties and school events, for instance. Kids are pretty adaptable. And even kids who have unlimited access to TV seem to like playing at a house where TV isn't an option. All kids seem to like building forts, swinging, running around being silly, and making up pretend games. And kids who aren't raised to worship pop stars and aren't given every TV show spinoff toy tend to think its pretty silly to even think about these things, let alone waste play time talking about it!
2~Time to play with others is different for every family. ABCD seems happiest to have a playdate once or twice a week, a sleepover with his best friend once a month or so, and the organized activities we do with other kids. Mymy is happiest when someone comes to play or we go somewhere else to play every single day. He's very social and loves big groups. "Who coming today?" is the question every single morning.
3~I don't let my kids play with kids I don't like. Period. The other problem, about parents, has only come up a couple of times, and is more difficult. But it seems rare to me to find children I really like and want my kids around whose parents I don't like. It seems, perhaps not too curiously, that when I find parents I don't like, their kids are usually obnoxious brats that I don't want my kids around anyway. More often there are kids who are ill-behaved whose parents I really like as friends for me, even if it seems their parenting skills aren't admirable. And that's the harder thing so far. Its hard for me to be friends with someone who doesn't seem to be devoting enough attention to their children. I usually end up feeling disdainful and start separating myself and my kids from that family. I realize this question will come up again as the kids grow older and have more say in who they play with and want to be with. But so far its my choice and there haven't been any real problems. My kids are well socialized and equally comfortable interacting with children, adults, and small animals.
4~Friends for Mom. This is the most interesting part of the question of friends to me. When we moved to this town I felt like we'd never fit in, and also that I never wanted us to. We made some friends right away, but I spent a long time waiting, hoping, to find other families just like us. Waldorf homeschool families, religiously and politically liberal, active in the community, organic farm supporting, etc.. Those families have not been found. I don't think there are any here, or if there are they're so far underground I haven't been able to find them in 7 years.
BUT... there are lots of homeschool families. And lots of the very conservative families also eat organically and eschew materialism, value outdoor, natural playtime for their children, breastfeed, wear their babies, have well mannered children and are not Disney-fied and plasticised. And when raising your children is the most important thing and so many of the child-rearing methods are the same sometimes political and religious differences aren't such a barrier as they could be without children.
There are people at the Unitarian Church, the small Friends meeting, a handful of other liberal religious groups who share a similar commitment to religious tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and serious, quiet religious observance. Well, not that Unitarians are always quiet, but they do respect and value every one's right to find their own way, and that is something.
There are people in the small peace groups, environmental, hiking, community and political groups that share our global concerns as well as commitment to local action and awareness.
We have a group of friends I could never invite to supper all at once, though there certainly is overlap. But we have friends to make an advent garden with, friends to invite for Day of the Dead, friends to have playdates with, friends to share homeschool art projects with, friends to work on political campaigns with, and friends to go snow-shoeing and camping with.
We spent a long time wishing we lived some place where we could find other families with more similarities, so our kids could grow up in this ideal, close knit family of friends who shared childcare and holidays and values. It hasn't happened that way. I haven't FOUND a community of like-minded people here, we've created one, sort of. Our community of friends is more like a huge complicated sort of Venn diagram, with all of these overlapping sections than the big circle of loving arms kind of community I'd once envisioned. Its okay, better than that really, we have surprised ourselves with a very rich and lovely life in a place we never intended to stay, let alone enjoy!
I never would have made all of these various, diverse friends if I hadn't purposely gone looking for them. Lots of people are too shy, too overwhelmed, too unsure of how to reach out to even try. I got over myself and started talking to people, at the grocery store, at the Y, the park. We started volunteering, with kids in tow, for all kinds of events, so people in town started seeing us doing the things we care about, and finally had something to talk to us about. I started asking for help, and to help.
I know lot of people think we're wrong about politics, can't possibly be reading the same bible they are, weird to homeschool, off-base to practice attachment parenting, freaks to not allow "educational" talking toys, awful for bringing our kids to political rallies and peace marches and community meetings, but mostly people think we're thoughtful and sincere and loving, trying our best, working really hard, and that above all we mean well. And people seem to appreciate that we stand up and speak out and do what we think is right, even when they don't agree that we ARE right. It helps that our kids are relatively well mannered, bright, and interesting to be around. These are the things that I look for in potential friends, after all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Here's alittle picture of the kids last night. Sunny is the tall one, a pirate, ABCD's oldest friend is a Ninja, ABCD is Robin Hood, and Mymy is "Not a Bunny". He is Max from the book "Where the Wild Things Are". And he doesn't want to let go of his "Candy Pumpkin" no matter what.

Waldorf Works

At least according to the standardized test ABCD recently took.
It is called the MAP test, and is a maze type test. The questions get harder if you answer correctly, and easier if you get answers wrong. It was horrible, and ABCD, who HATES getting anything wrong and has a really hard time trying things he thinks he MIGHT not be able to do perfectly had a terrible time knowing that he was getting answers wrong. He'd sit there at the computer and sigh, "Well, I guess I just have to give up and guess." The test took SIX hours, straight through, and covered reading, language arts, and math.
I've been feeling horrible for a week, making him go through this terrible experience. Well, not that the ends justify the means, or that the test results really mean anything to me as his Mom and teacher (I laughed out loud when the proctor said the test was important so that I would know "where he's at"), but it is easier to hold up a score than stop and explain all of the things you've been learning about. And my son scored in the 99th percentile in every single category, with reading and language arts covering the range of 7th-12th grades, and math solidly at 7th grade level. This is a kid who doesn't have all of his basic math facts (tables) memorized, and my husband was sure he was "behind" in math because he has to stop and figure questions out, and can't just spout off the answer. It has been one of the biggest sources of tension between us as parents. "He should know this" vs "But he understands it, and he'll memorize it when it makes sense to HIM to do so."
Oh well, pressure's off and I can relax and enjoy teaching him without worrying so much about whether I'm including enough of the stuff public school kids are doing. I have a score to hold up "See, he's learning plenty!"
Of course, my first thought when we got the scores back was "What the heck do they DO in school?" My child is bright and articulate, but he's not on track to graduate from high school at 12 or anything. He's just a normal kid whose curiosity and thirst for learning about the world hasn't been drudged out of him by a school system too over-burdened and under-inspired to teach children well. He's being given the time and experience to learn to THINK. And it works. He has the scores to prove it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quiz: Art Quiz

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Balanced, Secure, and Realistic.

10 Impressionist, 10 Islamic, -6 Ukiyo-e, -10 Cubist, -12 Abstract and -6 Renaissance!

Impressionism is a movement in French painting, sometimes called optical realism because of its almost scientific interest in the actual visual experience and effect of light and movement on appearance of objects. Impressionist paintings are balanced, use colored shadows, use pure color, broken brushstrokes, thick paint, and scenes from everyday life or nature.

People that like Impressionist paintings may not alway be what is deemed socially acceptable. They tend to move on their own path without always worrying that it may be offensive to others. They value friendships but because they also value honesty tend to have a few really good friends. They do not, however, like people that are rude and do not appreciate the ideas of others. They are secure enough in themselves that they can listen to the ideas of other people without it affecting their own final decisions. The world for them is not black and white but more in shades of grey and muted colors. They like things to be aestically pleasing, not stark and sharp. There are many ways to view things, and the impresssionist personality views the world from many different aspects. They enjoy life and try to keep a realistic viewpoint of things, but are not very open to new experiences. If they are content in their live they will be more than likely pleased to keep things just the way they are.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy

Watercolor Spider Webs

This is the spider web painting that Mymy made. We don't usually paint on Tuesday, at least not for school, but we needed to start things off with something really fun and unusual this morning. I woke up really cranky, fed up with naughty boys climbing all over me and not minding, and I made Mymy cry by shouting at him first thing when he tried to follow me into the bathroom. One minute! Some things you just want to do alone once in a while, you know? So we painted as soon as the table was cleared from breakfast (and I was done yelling at them to EAT and stop playing for crying out loud!) It wasn't a good start, I think I already mentioned that?
And here's ABCD's. He was very careful about drawing a spider web with black crayon, and thinking about how a spider web would really look, but he insisted on painting the whole thing brown. He only wanted color around the outside, though he wanted that all to be brown, too. But I wouldn't let him, Lord knows why. I MADE him use color. It looks pretty cool, in real life, but I feel lousy every time I see it, because I was so awful this morning that I couldn't even let him paint a spider web in one solid color, just to see what happened. Ugh! Poor kids.

Meal Plan 10/26-11/1

SUNDAY~ church, groceries $52.00
Breakfast- baked oatmeal, milk, fruit
Snack- church (caramel apples, candy corn, cake, chocolate chip cookie, cocoa! yikes!)
Lunch- quesadilla
Snack- fruit leather, carrots
Supper- roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad
MONDAY~ to Seattle and back
Breakfast- farina, milk, butter, raw sugar
Snack- canned peaches, milk
Lunch- mac & cheese, tomatoes, black manukka grapes
Snack- pretzels, carrots
Supper- awards supper (chicken, polenta, asparagus, green & yellow beans, salad, panna cotta)
Breakfast- oranges, potatoes, eggs
Snack- applesauce, toast & honey
Lunch- peanut butter sandwiches, pears
Snack- cookies, cocoa
Supper- chicken & dumplings, salad
Snack- popcorn
Prep- soak bread dough, oats
WEDNESDAY~ playdate
Breakfast- baked oatmeal with apples, raisins, milk
Snack- cinnamon toast, tea
Lunch- chicken & dumplings, apple sauce
Snack- snickerdoodles
Supper- split pea soup, bread
Snack- pomegranates
Prep- bake bread, freeze dough, make broth
THURSDAY~ homeschool gym
Breakfast- baked oatmeal, milk, butter, raw sugar
Snack- yogurt
Lunch- grilled cheese sandwich, oranges
Snack- snickerdoodles, celery with peanut butter and raisins
Supper- tortellini soup with spinach, salad
Snack- popcorn
FRIDAY~ Halloween!
Breakfast- toast, eggs, fruit
Snack- yogurt
Lunch- split pea soup, oranges
Snack- apples, cheese
Supper- pizza, salad, bread sticks
Snack- popcorn, CANDY
Prep- bake bread sticks,
Breakfast- blueberry pancakes, sausage, fruit salad
Snack- applesauce, yogurt
Lunch- pizza
Snack- bread sticks, red sauce, candy
Supper- chicken soup with rice, salad
Snack- popcorn

Monday, October 27, 2008


Here's ABCD at the Pumpkin patch nearby. He insisted on pushing around the ancient, rickety wheelbarrow full of pumpkins, and he took his job seriously. Hard work. He found the biggest pumpkin in the whole patch, he's pretty sure, and I think Mymy found the smallest, so it all evens out.
Grandma came to visit for a few days and we had a busy time. She arrived on Wednesday afternoon and first thing Thursday morning she went out to the land where our cows were pastured all summer to witness the slaughter and cleaning. There are three sides of beef at the butcher's right now, curing and waiting to be cut and packaged for us. IT was sort of a fiasco, though, with misunderstandings and tension that carried over all the rest of the weekend. What is that saying about mixing business and friendship? I always seem to forget until its too late.
Friday was the ultrasound of the baby, and everything looks good, though by the size of the thing I think I'm due right when I always thought I was, almost two weeks earlier than the doctor thinks. It was fun for Mom to get to see the ultrasound, and the boys, though I can't imagine that Mymy really got anything out of those grainy weird ultrasound images. And no, we don't know if its a boy or girl- we don't want to know. Although I have my suspicions....
Saturday we went to the pumpkin patch, our favorite one, for the pumpkin cannons and the funny personality of the old farmer who owns the place. Its full of antique farm equipment in various stages of restoration, you can feed the chickens, take a great hayride, pick pumpkins, gourds, apples, get lost in the corn maze, warm up by the wood stove outside, drink apple cider, eat popcorn, pumpkin doughnuts, look at the first blacksmith shop in the area, recently moved intact onto the farm, and if you're little enough, pedal a couple of old toy tractors around the place. That was Mymy's favorite part, ABCD says doughnuts were.
Last year we went with The Rising Star's parents, and it was overcast, cold, and really really fun. This year the weather was beautiful, but everything seemed off. The farmer was a little grouchy, the doughnut machine kept breaking, Mymy had an accident and I somehow hadn't packed any extra clothes for him. It was fun, but not AMAZING like last year.
At least the kids' costumes are done, and they wore them to church on Sunday for the annual costume-pumpkin walk. They're pretty simple, but cute. I'll put pictures up soon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rising Star

This is a little brag about my husband, formerly known as "Barackstar" or "Our Favorite Delegate" because, of course, he was a delegate for Barack Obama to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Not just any delegate, either. He was the chair of all the delegates from this 3/4 of the state, and he was chosen out of 200 people in the whole country to sit in the special section right next to the stage during the final day of the convention. He's taken those honors as responsibility, and has been working hard before work, after work, during lunches, on weekends, in his sleep, instead of sleeping, and probably even in the shower for Mr. Obama as well as local Democrats. He doorknocks, writes checks with our grocery money, organizes fabulously successful fundraisers at the drop of a hat, helps write ads, prepares candidates for speeches and debates, talks to everyone about the cadidates, all as he has been doing for years- its just this is the first year I haven't been doing the same thing. I'm using being pregnant and having two kids as an excuse, not because I don't love Barack Obama, but because I really can't imagine what else in the household can give- someone's got to occasionally wash dishes, change diapers, do laundry, cook, teach, pick up, do the yard work, and give kids a bath and story, right? Giving up The Delegate in the name of Change and Democracy is fine, though, its a cause we all believe in, passionately. Besides, the election is almost over. Almost.
But this isn't about me. This is about HE. And last week he got a call. It turns out he is getting an award from the state democratic party, an award called "The Rising Star". So guess what his new name is? That's right, he is now officially "The Rising Star". As in, "There's some mail for The Rising Star." "Let go of Papa, he has to go to work. You know you can't keep a Rising Star to yourself!" "Just wondering when you're coming home. Its getting dark and without the light of a Rising Star it'll be hard to eat supper." I think you get the picture. Maybe if he were married to someone else the honor would have a chance to get to his head, but here I am, surrounded by kids and dirty laundry, keeping him grounded (well, you might say mocking him-that's your own opinion). Really, we're all proud and take every opportunity to tell everyone about what and how he's doing. And besides, we all know a Rising Star just has to SHINE!
So Monday he'll get his day of glory, an we'll all be there cheering for him with love and pride, happy to see that others appreciate his fine qualities too! Because he is a star, in our eyes, and you know you just can't keep a Rising Star down.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meal Plan 10/19-10/25

SUNDAY~ groceries
Breakfast- puff cake, fruit
Snack- church
Lunch- cheese, crackers, apples
Snack- fruit leather, carrots
Supper- Turkish lentil soup, carrots, spinach, yogurt sauce, whole wheat pita
Prep- buy 2 boxes apples, 1 box pears

MONDAY~ play date
Breakfast- farina, milk, butter, raw sugar
Snack- puff cake, pluots
Lunch- mac & cheese, tomatoes, black manukka grapes
Snack- peanut butter cookies
Supper- roast chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli, salad
Snack- popcorn
Prep- start bread dough, slice and dry apples, turn yogurt into cream cheese, soak beans, rice

TUESDAY~ homeschool gym or gymnastics
Breakfast- multigrain crockpot cereal with milk, butter, honey, apples
Snack- apple slices, pretzels, pumpkin caramel dip
Lunch- salmon salad sandwiches, veggie sticks, grapes
Snack- pluots, peanut butter granola bars
Supper- black beans, brown rice, cheese, tomatoes, cilantro, citrus salad
Snack- tortilla chips, salsa
Prep- soak oats, finish bread dough, freeze all but two loaves, bake those

WEDNESDAY~ Grandma arrives
Breakfast- baked oatmeal with apples, raisins, milk
Snack- cinnamon toast, tea
Lunch- chicken pot pie, apple sauce
Snack- carrot & spinach dips, pita chips
Supper- chicken shepherd pie, salad
Snack- baked apples, whipped cream
Prep- make applesauce & dry to leather

THURSDAY~ cows, homeschool gym
Breakfast- rice porridge with milk, butter, raw sugar
Snack- pears, pretzels, pumpkin dip
Lunch- egg salad sandwiches, veggie sticks
Snack- granola bar, apple
Supper- black bean chile, corn pie, fruit salad
Snack- tortilla chips, salsa
Prep- dry pears

Breakfast- baked oatmeal, yogurt
Snack- toast, peanut butter, tea
Lunch- chile, corn pie
Snack- pita chips, dips
Supper- pizza, salad
Snack- popcorn
Prep- bake bread sticks, make sausage

SATURDAY~ pumpkin patch & pumpkin cannons!
Breakfast- sausage egg muffins, orange juice
Snack- granola bar, sunflower seeds, pears
Lunch- egg salad sandwiches, veggie sticks
Snack- apples, pumpkin doughnuts, popcorn
Supper- frittata, salad, bread sticks
Snack- peanut butter cookies, ice cream

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Anti-Schoolers

This is an article about some modern, hip New Yorkers from the New York Times. It is not about me, or even the way we homeschool, but closer maybe than the stereotype of the beaten-down, exhausted, denim jumper wearing homeschooling Mom of silent, obedient stair-steps. Maybe. Except for the exhausted part. And I haven't even in been in a bar since the last millenium, so maybe I'm WAAAAY less hip than I think I am....
Anyway, here's the link: Enjoy someone else's life for a moment. And who the heck gets free rent in New York City, anyway? Please.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This is the "Times Clock" we made, based on the directions from Robinsunne on her blog at . ABCD thinks it would be good to do it again, since our lines aren't straight, but I'm not convinced. Mymy already got us to make two, by decorating the first one with his own artwork. So, here it is, at least for now. The cool thing about this multiplication table is that the connection between the numbers is really easy to see, and you can see each table two different ways- around the clock, or radiating from the center. And it was kind of fun to do an art project instead of working in the math workbook.

Friday, October 10, 2008


We've gathered buckeyes in the fall for as long as ABCD could walk. They're so cool- smooth and rich brown and oddly shaped. They come in such dragon's egg looking covers, and inside is this fairly glowing lovely thing. We've always just kept them in a basket and used them as math manipulatives or pocket treasures or just pretties. But this year ABCD and I decided to make conker dragons, by stringing them and looping them. It looked like an easy enough craft in the book. So we tried it. For a really long time. It involved hammering a big needle and pulling it out the other side with pliers. I think we may try cooking a few to soften them, and seeing if they dry out nicely after. We didn't manage even one dragon, though we did end up with two conker chains, 15 units long. And a couple of really sore thumbs.

Autumn Nature Table

We finally have our nature table up again. We've been collecting things on walks this week- its the first week of falling leaves and buckeyes and walnuts and other little treasures. Tonight will be the first below freezing night and all of the sudden it feels like fall. So Mymy and I finally dug through and found some cloths, sorted acorns and buckeyes into baskets, and made a little nature table in the living room. It will, I'm sure, change as the season does, and as Mymy's interest does! Right now he loves filling his dump truck with buckeyes, and pulling the caps off of the acorns. What fun! The boys and I have been talking about the pumpkin patch, and going back to the one we discovered last year with pumpkin cannons and fresh-made pumpkin doughnuts, hayrides and a corn maze small enough for kids to go in by themselves. The house is bursting with all of the garden produce we pulled in to keep from freezing- a huge box full of tomatoes to take care of tomorrow, there's delicata and acorn squash, pumpkins, bell peppers, zucchini and yellow summer squash, cucumbers and broccoli. My Mom brought over quarts and quarts full of home canned pears and the prettiest pinky applesauce. We turned on the heat for the first time this morning, but I love the feeling of waking up with the air cold and the bed and layers of covers warm and heavy all around. I love crisp air outside and crinkly leaved walks and crystal clear blue skies and the faint smell of woodsmoke. I love the house stocked full of food for winter and I love autumn.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Just cute, that's why

These are pictures of the boys at the beginning of the summer, helping out at our friends' property, getting the escavation done for their new house. Fun! ABCD drove the excavator all by himself, and went on a long ride in the huge dump truck with the excavation company owner. Whew!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What Passes For School Around Here

This is called the "Snotty Slime Clock". It comes in a kit from the Horrible Science people who also publish all of these fun science books- this year we have"Disgusting Digestion" which promises to answer all kinds of questions, like~ How much pee can your bladder hold before it pops? ~What disease makes your eyeballs bleed? ~Why can't astronauts eat beans before a space flight? Totally gross and fun, perfect for an 8 year old whose bedtime chatter last night was whether anacondas continue strangling their victims for so long after they are dead because they're really crushing their bones so the animal (or person!) is malleable enough to swallow hole, and exactly how big an animal can an anaconda eat? Of course, we haven't gotten to digestion yet- that'll be much later in the year. But I decided to mix things up a bit this year, instead of trying to follow a strictly Waldorf curriculum, or following in the classical footsteps of so many of our homeschooling peers here.

So... so far we've completed one Waldorf style block on farming-harvest, we learned about local agriculture, followed the pear cycle, and the life cycle of the honeybee, an important agricultural partner around here, for sure! For the bee bit we worked out the components of a sort of lap-book kit, which looked fun, with all kinds of little booklets to make and paper-cutting and folding and staples and brads and everything. ABCD was not impressed. "Its just a lot of filling in the blanks kind of writing, just on little pieces of paper instead of big ones. Boring!" And really, to have all of those preprinted funny things in the middle of his hand-made looking Waldorf style lesson book is a little jarring, just from an aesthetic side. So, no more lap books, at least not for main lessons, and not for awhile.
This week we started a block on time- clocks and calendars- telling time and history of- but we've been sick and not really gotten much done. Except he made the green plastic slime clock. I have to say, I bought two of the horrible science kits hoping they'd be worth the money, and they are, definitely. Some kid science kits are so flimsy and have such awful directions and boring experiments. After all, how many times can you find vinegar and baking soda interesting? (Well, unfortunately, quite a few times, it seems, but still, I don't need to pay $30 for a kit about THAT!) These kits seem quite sturdy and nice, with funny experiments that teach science between the giggles. Also for this unit we are enjoying the book "The Story of Clocks and Calendars" by Betsy Maestro, which is quite informative and very readable and pretty much covers everything we're going to talk about in this block, so there you go! We will be practising telling time and making a calendar for 2009, and doing the experiments in the slime clock kit and some others as well.

So far our school days look a little like this: light a candle, circle, harmonica (1/2 the time or so we get to it), oral reading (Old Testament stories mostly), puzzler/story problem/maze/paper folding exercise. Main lesson- Monday is Math, with a story from "Number Stories of Long Ago" or some other Waldorfy type math lesson story, then working out the story with manipulatives or figures or drawings. Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday is block lesson time (3 farm, 2 building, 1 clothing, time, money, 2-3 measurement). Friday is sort of our fill-in time right now. Snack, then 15 minutes or so for latin (Lively Latin, we LOVE it), oral math/math drill (grammar on Friday), cursive practice (copywork from OT stories on Wednesday). Tuesday is msnucleus science lab day, Wednesday is an extra math practice (Miquon workbook), and a local history story, Thursday is Leonardo da Vinci, and Friday is form drawing and another Math practice period. Lunch. And so far we're pretty much done at that point, but not for long....

We haven't started with regular nature walks and keeping a nature journal yet- that's this week, with a Waldorf style nature story first. We haven't started handwork up yet- its too easy to push aside for other things. I'd like to get ABCD to make another wood project for a Christmas present for his brother or the Grandmas, and I plan to have him sew himself a wool felt vest or something for the new baby. I haven't broken out the beeswax yet- not sure why. We haven't even done play dough in ages. Like, since spring! Guitar hasn't started yet either- we're still trying to work it all out, schedule wise and $ wise. Gym and swim at the Y is two days a week, two hours each, and Thursdays we go to the library after. Gymnastics starts Tuesday, so we'll probably do that instead on those days- it's only an hour and more fun,less hassle. But ABCD was moved up to the highest level swimming class at the Y, so we're a little torn. They're so disorganized and have such a variety of teachers its a little off-putting, added to the general atmosphere of world's most family un-friendly YMCA ever. And he has soccer team- U-9 is a bit more intense than last year, and ABCD is not competitive, so its a bit much at times. His coach is great at trying to keep it fun, but most of the boys on the team are feeling competitive and paying more attention to how the other's play, and demanding to know the score all the time (though officially its no-score still, for some reason all the Dads keep and tell the points). We're waiting for Rosetta Stone Spanish, Artistic Pursuits modern art, some more science kits, art supplies, and the nature journal still.

I started writing this post feeling like we were not getting much done school-wise, but I feel pretty good, actually, about how well I planned out the schedule, and what we're learning. Its pretty good, and fitting in the things we're waiting for shouldn't be too big a struggle. Good.


What school?
Well, this week we're all kind of knocked flat with a stomach flu- we've just been hobbling along trying to survive on chicken broth, yogurt, Tummy Comfort tea and Coca-cola. Yikes, I know! But we've become convinced that Coca-cola when you have an upset tummy is a good thing. Really. Well, so the kids think its medicine, and now Mymy is running around clutching his tummy and saying "Need CoCaCoLa MaMa." Like a little song. All day long. Maybe more than one bottle of the stuff has ruined it for us as a get well trick. I don't know-I'm too tired to deal and besides, I have to go throw up again. Here kid, drink up. Ugh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Okay, okay, I like it here....

Kris Holland from the Yakima Herald Republic is a great photographer. A lot of the media personnel here are kind of in training, actually, lots of people move here for experience and to use this town as a stepping stone in their careers. But Kris is one of our favorites- and this photo, while I'm not personally prone to cowgirl fantasies, is a lovely picture of The Western Experience. Wild horses, right outside of town, running along the highway. Jeesh! We never saw anything like THAT when we lived in Cleveland!
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Maybe the produce is great....

but there are other things about this place that just aren't up to snuff. Like the fact that there are hardly any sidewalks. Anywhere. There's 84,000 people in this town, and most of the town has no sidewalks. The elementary school in my neighborhood is on a pretty busy residential street, and there is a sidewalk for two blocks on the opposite side of the street, then you have to cross the street to catch the sidewalk in front of the school for one block, then cross back over for the sidewalk for two blocks to the next arterial. All over the place there are sidewalks that stop in the middle of some one's yard, halfway down the block. Like the sidewalk inspector was coming through in a fancy automobile and the city workers quick, threw up some sidewalks halfway down all the blocks from the main streets. He'll never know!
Okay, but this isn't about sidewalk, not really.
This is about the local homeschool group- yes, its true, there is only one, and yes, it does have the word "Christian" as part of its name. How'd you guess? There is a class at the YMCA for homeschool kids, kind of a PE class and swimming class, kind of dismal attendance but good value for 20 hours of swimming lessons and a chance to play group games. Fine. Except that last week there was a new homeschooling Mom (First Mom) and her 7 year old son, and I overheard her talking with a Second Mom about activities, karate and things. Second Mom got her interested in the Friday classes that this homeschool group organizes. Fine. At the end of gym class, when the lady who happens to be one of the directors of the homeschool group arrived to pick up her two awful, snotty girls (who were in the changing room right then threatening to kill each other if they didn't shut up and reminding each other that they were freaking annoying ugly beasts and little brats and that they hated each other) Second Mom introduced the First Mom to Director Mom. Now here's the kicker- First Mom has a name that sounds like it might be Jewish- Bernstein or Goldmaier, something like that. Director Mom hears her name, turns from friendly smiley lady to hard and mean, and gives her the coldest up and down stare ever, and says, in the snottiest tone ever, "Well, are you CHRISTIAN?"
Of course she was, and spent a few minutes explaining her church attendance and involvement, what her son was doing in Sunday school, etc.. The thing is I know there are at least a couple Jewish or mixed-religion families in the group. So what the heck?
Like I said, maybe I can buy 60 pounds of produce for $19, but you can't buy tolerance, civility, human decency, friendliness, or a welcoming community culture for any amount of money.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Because its too true

Go here, read this, do what she says. Don't worry, its short and easy. Because Annie Lamott is smart and funny and right about this. And what's her face is too scary and awful I can't even stand to hear her or think about her and can you imagine? If?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Autumn Circle 2008

Rise up O flame, by thy light glowing,
Show to us beauty, vision and joy.

There's the firm earth under me, The blue sky over me,
So I stride, So I stand, And I see You too,
With the blue sky above you And the firm earth under you.

The world is full of color-Tis autumn once again
And leaves of gold and crimson-Are lying in the lane
There are brown and yellow acorns-Berries and scarlet haws
Amber gorse and heather-Purple across the moors
Green apples in the orchard-Flushed by the glowing sun
Mellow pears and brambles-Where colored pheasants run

My hands upon my head I place- On my shoulders, on my face
On my lips, by my side- Then behind me they hide
Then I hold them way up high- And let my fingers quickly fly
Hold them down in front of me- Then I’ll clap them one, two, three.

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
So far away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two
And let the face of God shine through.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay

I saw four brothers, a building they would go,
so I stopped to say hello.
Hello, hello said Brother Blue
“To build a house you first must do plenty of thinking,
draw a plan, architect’s work, you understand?”
Hello, hello said Brother Red
“I agree with what he said! But soon you must dig,
and lay a foundation, Concrete blocks at proper elevation.”
Hello, hello said Brother Green,
“Next comes framing, neat and clean, nails into wood,
hammers and thuds, Up go the rafters, joists and studs!”
Hello, hello said Brother Gold,
“We box in and floor, we finish and mould, plaster the
walls and paint them,too. Pretty windows, a lovely view.
Paint the house in colors bright, decorating is such a delight!”
Off to work the brothers depart,
to build a house is their great art.

The leaves are floating gently down,
they make a soft bed on the ground.
Then WHOOSH! The wind comes whistling by,
and sends them dancing up to the sky.

Come with me and dance with me in the cool of autumn.
All the trees are golden now, all the bells are ringing.
Ring, ring, ring-a ding ding dong, dance and sing together.
Ring, ring, ring-a ding ding dong, in your shoes of leather.

Brave and true I will be, each good deed sets me free.
I will fight for the right, I will conquer the wrong.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

End of Summer

Thank goodness! Well, when I see this picture, I have to admit I do feel a little sad. We had a lot of fun. I don't think my kids have PLAYED so much, without having to finish up so we can go DO something! So that was good. But, here's the secret- I'm almost 4 months pregnant, and this entire summer has been a dizzy, woozy doozy, between the kids and the sun and all of the summer's long excitement and preparation for THE CONVENTION. I am exhausted! The day after we got back from Denver school started. Well, homeschool, but still. I may be in my pjs (or at least Mymy is) until lunch (well, after lunch- why put him in clean clothes BEFORE he eats?), but I'm on the go. Whoo!
I've been looking forward to fall for weeks now, and here it is. Yay! School time. My time with just my own kids! (Not that I don't adore lovely Foal and Sunny, but still...) The house is quiet. No chores have gotten done yet, but they will. Oh, they will.
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Oh, I'm clever! Here are a few pictures of our favorite delegate at the Democratic National Convention. With New York senator Charles Schumer (crying during or right after Obama's speech), with Cornell West (a personal and American hero- really, Mymy was almost "Cornell" but the nicknames aren't so nice) and a random lady who wanted her picture taken with CW, with Jay Inslee (who used to be the US Rep here, but lost his second election because he voted for gun control and has been a Rep for the westside for a long time), Chris Gregoire (our Governor), Senator Patty Murray, with John Oliver and Aasif Mandvi from the Daily Show. Believe me, he's got a ton more, but he can get his own blog if he wants to show them all. Really!
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Mymy at the "Water Pop-ups" as he called them, in Boulder. This was the BEST thing ever! Free, fun, close to the hotel. We had fun on our trip, though it was mellower than I planned. My Mom was down with the back injury from the car crash at the beginning of July, so she wasn't as active as she normally is and in fact ended up having to go in to the emergency room. And we had to watch the Convention in the evenings to see if we could see Papa, which took up most of the afternoons and nights. Watching speeches on TV is not very entertaining for the kids, apparently. Who knew?
Still, ABCD made waffles every morning that we ate at the hotel. He made waffles until the unthinkable happened and he got tired of them! Mymy looked forward to eating a hard boiled egg with salt and pepper every morning, peeling a banana, and playing with fruit loops. He also pretended to be a garbage truck and threw every scrap away, in reverse when he could get away with it, beeping.
A trip to the crowdedest (is that a word?) and meanest Whole Foods in the World, or to some spot like one of the pretty playgrounds in Boulder or ABCD's favorite, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, then lunch, naps, a swim in the pool, and hunkering down for the convention. And another day over.
We went one night to the Washington State party, sponsored by Microsoft. That was fun, and rich, but late. The delegates didn't get there until 11:00 or so, maybe later. We barely stayed awake for our favorite delegate to arrive, then peeled our eyelids open to last another hour and a half. Whew! those crazy late nights!
ABCD and I did get to go to the Convention on Thursday. It was amazing. First, our assigned seats were in the second row from the top, in the very center section directly behind the stadium. If you've ever been to or even seen Invesco Field, you know how crazy high that is. ABCD said it should be called "Two Mile High Stadium". I was dizzy and thought we'd get nosebleeds or altitude sickness or something. It was pretty ridiculous. Anyway, we didn't have to sit there long. Aaron was chosen to sit in the inner circle, handpicked delegates and celebrities, 150 in the whole country, and he was three rows from Obama's right foot! And when he realized he was sitting up there he arranged for us to move down. We didn't get to sit with him, but we were on the floor, with the Washington state delegates, and it was amazing. AMAZING!
To be in a crowd that big, all those people united by hope and pride and patriotism was amazing. To be in a crowd so diverse, with all colors and ethnicities and religions and ages, all united by the same hope and pride and patriotism was beyond amazing. To see all those people crying with happiness, overwhelmed with emotion, to be crying there with them, well, it was something I'll cherish always, and ABCD will be able to tell his grandkids he was there when.
Whew! So most of our time was not spent doing convention things, and we really only saw our delegate at that one party, the Convention was definitely the highlight. I'm glad we all went.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

BBC Booklist

This is from
Here is what you do:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize the books you LOVE.
3) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.

1 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations Charles Dickens
11 Little Women Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the d’Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
13 Catch-22 Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare William Shakespeare
15 Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis
34 Emma Jane Austen
35 Persuasion Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernières
39 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh AA Milne
41 Animal Farm George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney, John Irving
45 The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies William Golding
50 Atonement Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi Yann Martel
52 Dune Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
62 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist Charles Dickens
72 Dracula Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory Iain Banks
94 Watership Down Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
100 Les Misérables Victor Hugo

Only I don't know how to strikeout anything, so I made them tiny, the ones I can't stand. But still, even if I'm not capable of managing a blog in the style of others around me, I have read 67 out of those 100 books, which isn't that bad, I think! What about you?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bird Rescue

Here's a picture of the little bird the kids found on the ground, chirping and chirping and chirping away. It hopped around and flapped its wings all afternoon, but never flew. The neighbor girl, who is bossy and a little older than the others informed us that it had fallen out of its nest and had a broken wing and we just had to rescue it. For the record, it was not hurt. Its mother was feeding it and visiting it and flying around and screaming at the kids when they got too close. I talked to the kids about how wild animals need to be wild, and even though we want to help them, it is less traumatic for the bird to just be on its own than to have people (grubby, excited 8 year olds in particular) handling it and holding it and putting it in a box and bringing it inside. That even if it got killed by one of the neighbors awful sandbox-pooping garden roving bird killing cats that at least would be quick and more natural than slowly starving to death in a cardboard box in a house because we wouldn't be able to feed it the right food, etc.. Somehow this was not comforting to the crowd. The bossy girl at the end of the dead end demanded to ask her mother, who immediately and properly came over with a box, dish washing gloves, and a shovel. Luckily I'd gotten a call from a knowledgeable friend who explained that robins take their babies out of their nests a couple of days before they can fly, to protect them from crows, and hide them in the weeds (not a comment on my flower beds, I'm sure) and feed them and protect them from predators until they can fly on their own. Whew!
WAIT! I know this isn't a robin- I think its a house finch? But I'm almost certain other birds must do this as well, right?
So they spent the rest of the afternoon building the baby bird a fort, so it could be safe from cats. I can't imagine why birdie didn't make itself at home there. And they spent hours chasing cats and yelling at them, which, bird or no bird, seems like a wholesome neighborhood activity to me.
And the bird? It was gone in the morning- I'm pretty sure it learned to fly in the night, and that it was NOT ambushed by said cats. Yep, I'm pretty sure.


Here's Mymy and his favorite naughty snack- a stolen block of cheddar cheese from the fridge.
Oh my mousie! Oh my wild one!
Oh My oh My!

Car Wash

Here are the boys washing the car on Friday. There had been thunder, lightning, and lots (well, for us) of rain that night and morning, and would be again the next night and morning, but they were certain that the poor old Volvo needed a bath. ABCD and Foal did a great job, they really did. And ABCD kept talking so sweetly about the car, how good it is, and how strong and safe and how the engine can just keep going and going forever. It made my heart melt. Really. Because the Volvo is 17 years old and has almost 250,000 miles on it and we all love that car ridiculously. When I was a kid I was always embarrassed by our old beater cars. I always thought it would be so glamorous to have new shiny cars all one color, with working radios and what have you. Ha! Well, the radio works, but not the tape player, and CD or MP3 or ipod? Right! The back door doesn't stay open by itself, we have to prop it open with a stick found on a road trip to Montana when the hydraulic door-lift went out. But we love this thing completely. It even has a name:
Rosario Garnet S. Volvo Case. See, its one of the family!

Oregon Trail Resources

1843 Train Members
BLM Oregon Trail
End Of The Oregon Trail Museum
Heritage Gateways
Lesson Plan
Natural Dyes
Oregon Trail School Project
OT Propaganda Lesson
OT Unit Study
PBS The Oregon Trail
Pioneers of Oregon
Recipes and Resources from a HS family
Scholastic Lesson Plans
The Food Timeline
The Fur Trapper
Trails West
Utah Perspective Lesson Plans
Wagons Ho! webquest
Whitman Mission lots of info

Monday, August 4, 2008

Reasons to Love This Place

Because I sometimes need a reminder to love the town where we live:
#1 My brother from Southeast Alaska called the other day and said he was happy- it was the first day all summer it hadn't rained. Well, it rained that morning but it had burned off and the sun was out. It was 55 and everyone was out enjoying the sunshine. Then he made the mistake of asking me how the weather was here, and I made the mistake of answering. 85 degrees and sunny, it hadn't rained in weeks at least, I don't remember the last rain, but there was a little breeze and the kids were bummed it was too cold to go to the outdoor pool. It hadn't been warm enough to go to the pool in days! For some reason he didn't feel all that sorry for us!
#2 Local Produce. Yesterday I bought 63 pounds of produce for $19.27! One 15 lb watermelon, a 6 lb cantaloupe, 5 lbs cucumbers, 5 lbs donut peaches, 4 lbs each Yukon gold potatoes, peaches (one of which was 1 lb all by itself!), nectarines, summer apples, 2 lbs each carrots, yellow plums, and green beans.
#3 My garden. Despite some weird troubles this year (someone ate all of the Yukon gold potatoes I planted but not the red or blue ones, I'm overflowing in green bean vines but not a single flower or bean!) I have a pretty fabulous, easy garden. Not everywhere in the world can you grow bushels of tomatoes just by sticking plants in the ground and occasionally watering. We've got tons of lettuce, basil, onions, millions of cucumbers coming on, summer squash and winter squash and if it stays warm enough melons. We've eaten peas, carrots and spinach. The broccoli I thought was doing nothing but growing leaves finally has little baby heads sprouting up through the middle, there's a whole block of hot peppers turning ripe and a big patch of sweet peppers we haven't given up hope for. But its the tomatoes that save the day, turn pasta into a meal and provide lots of snacks for even the toddler, who loves to go find hidden red jewels and gobble them up before his older brother!
They may seem like small reasons, but weather and food are pretty big parts of our lives, so having those be amazing makes it always bearable, often nice, and sometimes even wonderful to live here. I just need to remind myself sometimes!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Year 3 Schedule

8:15-9:00 circle, oral reading, math puzzler
10:00-10:15 snack
10:15-10:30 latin
12:00-1:00 lunch
1/2 hour guitar practicebedtime story chapter
1/2 hr or so neighborhood walk or hike nearby
9:00-10:00 Math Story & Lab
10:30-10:45 Oral Math
10:45-11:00 cursive
11:00-12:00 spanish (la clase divertida 2)
1:00-1:30 nature story
1:30-3:30 nature walk w/nature journal & snack
3:30-4:30 nature/seasonal craft
9:00-10:00 main lesson
10:30-11:00 oral math, cursive
11:00-12:00 science lab
1:00-2:00 gymnastics
3:00-3:30 handwork
9:00-10:00 Main lesson
10:30-11:00 copywork
11:00-11:30 math practice
11:30-12:00 spanish
1:00-2:00 local history (stories)
2:00-3:00 art technique
3:30-4:00 guitar lesson
9:00-10:00 main lesson
10:30-11:00 oral math, cursive
11:00-12:00 leonardo da vinci
1:00-3:00 homeschool gym and swim
3:00-4:00 library
9:00-10:00 Old Testament (story, lesson book drawing, etc.)
10:30-11:00 Grammar
11:00-11:30 Math Practice
11:30-12:00 Spanish
1:00-1:30 Form Drawing
1:30-2:00 handwork

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Crazy Hat Day

Today was crazy hat day at tennis, which of course the kids didn't tell me about until an hour before we had to leave. Foal wore the Medusa hat we made last summer for the Greek Tales play they put on, and Mymy wore the winning hat from last summer's contest "Fourth of July". ABCD and I took his the hat from his old Mt St Helens costume, wrapped one of the dress-up bin red felt crowns around it, hot glued evergreen branches around, and then glued on the Smokey the Bear magnet from the fridge. Voila! A Forest Fire Prevention hat. Perfect for this hot, dry summer. And the tennis club Crazy Hat officials thought so too. He won first place! He has won every year, not that I want to brag or anything. Most kids wear store bought Halloween costumes or Cat in the Hat hats, so a little bit of homemade creativity stands out. Anyway, he won a visor this year, a cool red Nike one, and Foal won a Venus Williams poster and Sunny won new grips for his racket. Mymy wanted a prize, too, even though, of course, he's not in the class with the big kids, but they gave him a popsicle with all the big kids so he was ultimately satisfied. A fun day, even if it started out with a bit of a rush!