Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting things done

   Hmmm.... After last night's epic download, this evening's post shall be brief.  In a nutshell - choppin' and preppin'.  Steve and I spent the day today chopping and stacking firewood and prepping for a visit with family from NY.  It was a glorious day to be working outside.  Finally, some classic, beautiful pacific northwest September weather... on the eve of October.  Again, I say - hmmm....

   I am happy to report that I found the hidden egg motherload.  Remember the Easter egg hunt in autumn?  Well, in a sneaky game of "hide behind the rocks and spy on the chickens", I discovered their secret hiding spots.  And they thought they could fool me!  Ha ha ha!  This chicken wrangler proved today that she is, in fact, at least as smart as four independently minded hens.  Score one for mama.  Now, if I can only figure out how to keep them from escaping the run in the first place....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn adventures

  It's been a busy couple of weeks, so the updates have been minimal.  Well actually, non-existent would be more accurate.  So, here goes the catch-up.

  We have been welcoming autumn here in our family.  The leaves are just beginning to fall from the huge maple that towers over our house.
 The escapee chickens are loving every stolen second scratching in those fallen leaves.  We have a rebellious handful of hens who would really prefer life outside of their run.  Nothing we do keeps them in.  They are wily and wise.  So, each day here on the homestead is also like Easter in autumn... a giant egg hunt!  Those rascals!  Meet Hedwig, one such mischievous lady:
  Thanks to Greg, builder extraordinaire, our mammoth wood shed is now complete.  It is huge and beautiful and awaiting several cords of fir, oak and maple.  I cannot wait to see that baby crammed full of wood.  What is currently an eyesore in my driveway under an absurd number of tarps, will soon be a neat and tidy (and DRY!) stacked treasure trove of winter warmth.  Thank you Greg!  Feast your eyes on this beauty:
  As we continue to discuss whether to homeschool or public school, we are exploring our interests a little more deeply.  We are taking time to think about what we would really like to get out of homeschooling.  What are the interests that we have that don't get satiated in the classroom (or in my case, the lab)?
For Cedar, the list goes on and on: baking, stop animation, photography, computer graphics, being able to spend more time learning math concepts, getting to have more time to read and less time on worksheets, spending more than 30 minutes playing outside, more science, and on and on....
Sequoia's wishes are a little more broad and less specific: animal care, singing, playing, not sitting at a desk all day, more time outside, NO TESTS(!), home cooked lunches and no more sandwiches, going at her own pace, being home, and more.  (The amount of anxiety that Sequoia is having about tests is worrisome.  Being in an alternative program for all of their schooling up to this point has really allowed them to be themselves as learners.  The external expectations for performance are really stressing her out.  Cedar, on the other hand, seems more grounded in that regard and couldn't care less about tests.  He figures he either knows it or he doesn't and that is good enough for him.)
My dreams for homeschooling: a more relaxed schedule, more time with my kids, travel, a chance to allow my kids to really dive into things they are excited about, the chance to dive into those things with them, mornings when we do not have to squabble and rush to get out the door, getting to witness their learning and growth, experiential learning, field trips, and SO much more.  Ultimately, I would love life to be school rather than life being all about school.
On the other side of the coin, we have also been discussing what we really like about school so far this year.  As far as Sequoia is concerned, school doesn't have much to offer other than the Wednesday afternoon ceramics class.  Cedar loves the library, band, science class, PE, getting to join the Hundred Mile Club (kids sign up to run 100 miles by the end of the school year), and recess with friends.  I am trying to stay neutral and just witness their experiences.
So... the hemming and hawing continues.  We hope to make a decision this weekend.  Stay tuned.

  To get back to the welcoming of fall, I wish to share the lovely evening our family created together to ring in the season.  In celebration of the Equinox and the Harvest Moon we had the most wonderful time!  The kids were home sick so we did a "trying-out" day of homeschooling.  Our day was filled with card games that challenged our math skills, reading some favorite books, drawing fairies, looking up a good fall dinner recipe, and going to the co-op (where we did all sorts of fractions, decimal places, reading, adding and subtracting, and learning the value of allowance money!).  That evening, Sequoia and I cooked up the most delicious pot of autumn harvest soup that was delightfully warming and oh so satisfying.  Meanwhile, Cedar baked his first layer cake.  This kid LOVES to bake.  He decided to spend his allowance money on all the necessary ingredients so that he could tantalize us all with a lemon layer cake with vanilla/lemon buttercream frosting.  Here is the proud baker with his creation:
Needless to say, it was a delectable evening - with lots of excitement, new recipes, snuggles on the couch, full bellies and love.  I could not have asked for a better way to usher in Autumn 2010.

  Last weekend we decided to head to Mt. Rainier for some sunshine, exercise and mushrooms.  It was a beautiful day so half of western Washington was there, but it was lovely none-the-less.  For all of our exploration, we only found one little Bolete.  Oh well... we still enjoyed spectacular views, sparkling glaciers, curious deer, warm sunshine and amazing smelling alpine meadows.  What is it about alpine meadows that smell so good?  I couldn't get enough - taking huge deep breaths every minute or so, practically trying inhale the mountainside.  It was absolutely intoxicating.  I'm getting giddy just thinking about it!  Here are some captured moments:
Seriously, those alpine meadows really do smell so good.  Anywho....  All of the above photos from Mt. Rainier were taken by Cedar.  He is quite the photographer. 

  Phew!  I think that about brings us back up to speed.  I suppose that's what happens when nearly two weeks go by.  Looking forward to many more wonderful autumn adventures!

Friday, September 17, 2010

My poor tomatoes

   The summer weather this year was, well, not really summer weather.  It's been cool and wet.  And fall is falling early and with gusto.  Hence, my poor little 'maters:
   Those little guys are trying with all their might to be their fully-ripened, glorious, gleaming red selves.  And yet....
   So, I will be preparing green tomato recipes by the dozens this year.  When life gives you green tomatoes, make relish.  Wait, is that how that saying goes?
   Anyway, on the up-side, our colossal wood shed is nearly complete!  No more tarps or chopping in the rain!  Just a lovely, dry and cozy winter for our family!  I can't tell you how exciting this is!  For a family who heats primarily with wood to be able to store nice dry firewood up off the ground, in a shed that circulates lots of air and keeps the northwest rain off is truly a godsend.  It will make such a HUGE difference in our fall/winter/spring quality of life.  Oh hurray!  I have never looked forward to stacking wood so much in my life!  Bring it on!
   In other news, the question of whether to school or homeschool continues.  More on that later....  For now, I have a school BBQ to attend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Goofy kids

  As Steve and I were making dinner tonight, the kids ran out to play in the rain.  Or should I say, downpour.  (good old pacific northwest for you)  I looked out the window to see Sequoia running around with Napali - our Barred Rock hen - tucked snugly in her rain coat.   She came grinning up to the window and proclaimed that she was keeping her cozy during the rain storm.  "Oh, how sweet!", I thought to myself.  Only to look out the window moments later to see this....
  As I stepped out onto the porch with my 'What the heck are you doing?' look, she cracked up and said, "What? I'm just keeping her dry!"
  She promptly popped the container off the hen's head and continued on with her rounds about the farm. 
 It's the life of a girl and her hen.... what are you gonna do?

Here we go....

Here I find myself, teetering on the edge of....
Well, I'm not really sure what yet.  But, I know whatever it is, it's huge and it's good.  See, I have made the vow to myself and my family to start living my life and making my decisions according to what feels right and good.  Live according to my dreams.  And my dreams... well, simplicity and happiness.  I know it may seem corny, but I believe that if I live my life in alignment with what brings me and my family joy, there is no way we can go wrong.  Now it's a matter of cultivating enough trust in myself that I can act according to what feels right without over thinking everything to death (something I have perfected over the years).
So, here in this space, I'll write about that journey.
Here we go....