Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Week

Noah and his youngest cousin, Atticus.

 Thanksgiving Cousins.

Ho hum, I wish I had a better camera at moments like these when the kids are moving so fast and you only have a few seconds to capture the moment. I am overflowing with thankfulness; for family and close friends, for good health, a warm home and a pantry and freezer stocked with our own food.

I've been starting to clean peas over the last couple weeks. These are soup peas that I grew this summer. I got them from a friend who does sell seeds locally. His farm is Grey Owl Garden. I got two kinds of soup peas from him. I'll have to look up their name again. But supposedly this variety is prettier but has more pea flavor whereas the other variety was just called "Soup pea" and is less pretty but has milder flavor. When I've cleaned all the peas I'm going to take a picture of my total haul. We had an unusual rainy fall so they the pods started to mold so I yanked all the plants and put them downstairs and started running the wood stove to dry them out. I think I pulled them just in time as I've only come across a couple moldy peas.

 Painting salt dough ornaments.
 Avery's first day on cross country skis.

 Pine Cone Poppyseed head Princes.

 I wanted to make human figures, preferably children for Advent bags for our home-school cooperative. But I was out of acorns from last year and all I had were pine cones and poppyseed heads, and this is what I came up with from what was laying around. They ended up looking more like royalty or fairy winged people. They were a fun creative outlet, and quick and simple (in my book at least - raw materials gathered around the house and a hot glue gun as opposed to anything involving needles and thread).

 And the first part of our advent display.

In addition the kids have begun a playmobile nativity scene. We are going to make an advent candle holder this weekend - just in the nick of time.

 The kids have been showing some interest in learning to embroidery. Of course Avery wants help with each stitch, whereas Noah wants to free lance.

 Making candle holders for the Thanksgiving table with plants, berries, pine cones, mosses and grains gathered this fall. The kids dipped the candles last winter.

Well I'm procrastinating heading out for my morning chore routine, so I'll have to write more later. Just wanted to share our week in pictures with you. We had a lovely family day yesterday. I'm looking forward to a week of leftovers after all the crush to get the pies and rolls baked, and the turkeys brined and rubbed and seasoned. This weekend is for relaxing and getting some gift projects underway. Best wishes to you all!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Images of our week

 We celebrated my birthday which is on November 1st.
I'm thirty-four. I feel young and old at the same time.

 Lanterns made yesterday in preparation for Martinmas

The kids and I had a lovely week. We managed to stay home six days in a row, partially due to the kids having a mild cold. I thrive on weeks where we stay home. We have switched up our routine once again since none of us were inclined to get out to do farm chores while it was still dark. So we are going from breakfast right into lessons. By lunch we are usually done, and then we got out for chores in the early afternoon. This week Noah discovered ski-ing. I bought him used cross country skis, boots and poles, all for $65. He has been spending our entire outdoor time on skis. I had showed him how to walk sideways up the hill. But he quickly dismissed that as too much work and he now hikes up the hill and then puts his skis on and skis down. I'm thinking a helmet is in order, and I'm hoping he doesn't break his skis before the winter is out.

When we stay home day after day, we get our lessons and chores done without having to rush through things. Then we have time for reading, crafting, making music and cooking together. I have time to be creative in the kitchen, pulling our our veggies from this summer and meat from the freezer and come up with something tasty.

 All our own veggies and herbs, except for the onions and garlic which I'm out of already.

The kids played amazingly well together day after day this week. Usually if we have such a long home stretch, they begin to tire of each other. Thankfully that was not the case this week.

 I've been wanting to make a circular calendar showing the months of the year and my interpretation of them in color, along with our celebrations. I included our birthdays, traditional "American" holidays and the Solstices which are pretty big days for us, as well as some holidays which are celebrated in the Waldorf tradition as well as being celebrated throughout Europe still; Michaelmas and Martinmas, etc. I also love the idea of learning more about and celebrating some of the much older Celtic year celebrations, Samhain and Beltane. I was happy with how the water color turned out. I might need to re-arrange the wall and find a better place for it, as the wall is looking a little too disorderly right now.

 Going into winter we are in high spirits. We move outwards and just move constantly from spring to late fall. By the time the snow comes we are overly ready to move in and just can't get enough of mellow time indoors. We have transitioned in and are basking in the fruits of our labor; good food and a warm home. We are so stoking our wood stove, lighting our candles and lanterns as well as our light within.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

a November morning and thougths regarding extra curricular activities for kids

From where I sit at the dining room table, I am enjoying the view of my tidy house with the light coming in all the windows. Out our large northwest facing window I can see the sun hitting the hillside across the valley. Sun on newly snow covered woods; frosty and still. I can enjoy watching the flames of the fire through the glass door on the wood stove. The children are playing in their small lego room. Yep, they now have their very own lego room. It is the future second bathroom and right now consists of a rug and a hanging light, my metal plant rack that is soon to have greens and sprouting trays on it, and lots of legos. My Enya pandora station is playing very soothing and peaceful music in the background and all is right with my world.

We should actually be just finishing up with our morning school routine. However, as we finished breakfast this morning and I began to gather the kids for school, Avery dramatically protested that she all she wanted to do was just have time to play with her brother. At that moment I could have pushed on with the agenda, but was kinda feeling like taking it easy myself. So at this point in time we may possibly all be "skipping" school this morning for our first designated school day of the year. Or, we may resume lessons after lunch. The kids have proceeded to play together without interruption for the past three hours while I did dishes, started bread dough, did all the outside farm chores and now I'm seizing the rare chance to get on the computer during the middle of the day.

There is so much that I want to do. I could pick up my most recent knitting project that was almost finished the other night before I decided that there were too many mistakes and unraveled the whole thing and now I must start over from the beginning. I am also inclined to take up a couple needle felting projects that I have been ignoring since last spring, one, a purse that needs the finishing touches, and then an odd assortment of fruit and vegetables that I started and need to add more to before they become the complete gift I'd imagined. And as always there is my banjo sitting there, tempting me to pick it up. Although, I have been playing daily and as a result have been neglecting my crafting. Now that we are in November, I think it may be time to finish my current novel and not pick up another till I've produced some finished crafts.

There is so much on my craft list for this season. I want to make Avery a needle felted doll, possibly more than one. She is asking for an "Indian dress". I am waiting for a friend to finish some goat hides that she is tanning for me, but I'm wondering if one will be big enough for a dress or if I will need two, and whether I want to put that much hide into one garment? I'm already envisioning flowers or maybe clusters of strawberries as bead work. Noah wants another pair of moccasins; this time ones that he can slip on that don't tie. I think that will be doable. I'm not going to put as much work into beading onto his slippers, as he doesn't care about embellishments. I am usually making soap, candles, medicines and lotions this time of year. I do have jars stacked three high of oils and tinctures ready to be filtered. It is time to prioritize. The calendar is filling up with winter social engagements, birthday parties, Martinmas and Holiday dinners. And so I am thankful for simple days like today.

I have been thinking a lot lately about extra curricular activities for the kids, and how glad I am that we have none. I know a lot of homeschooling parents that have engagements most afternoons of the week; music lessons, language lessons, sports activities and play practice or this or that club. I get overwhelmed just thinking about all the running around. I know that as the kids get older it may be necessary to get them involved in this or that. I am biased in that I grew up with parents that allowed us to get involved in very little, partly due to the cost of sports or lessons, and then also because of the time commitments.  When I look back on being told I couldn't do this or that, I don't remember being terribly disappointed, nor do I think I missed out on much. I spent a lot of my time reading and crafting. My mom gave us piano lessons when we were young and later I went on to learn to play the flute with my mom's help. In high school I took different languages and eventually minored in Yup'ik in college. In high school my parents told my brother and I that we could each pick one thing to do and I chose riding lessons, something I'd wanted to do since I was little. I absolutely loved my riding lessons. I went on to show horses, work at a ranch, and then worked to buy a horse and pay for her food myself. I think the deal was that I paid for half her cost and half her food. I think that it was important that I had to wait and dream and work hard for what I wanted. I valued and appreciated the opportunity to ride and have a horse more than most other girls I knew.

I have been thinking that as parents, there is so much that we want for our children, yet sometimes the best gift we can give them is time to explore and play on their own; to be allowed to be children and to just play. Is this becoming an obsolete notion? When I think of our nation and what play means I think of parents letting their young children play games on their phones or on the computer, or signing them up for sports and driving them to lessons. I'm going to come back to this at some point as it is a tangent that I can't follow through on right now, other than saying how important I think it is that children can spend hours pretend playing with each other and how thankful I am that my children have this. 

Sometimes I think how much Avery would enjoy dance lessons or how much Noah would enjoy some sort of martial arts class.(I have been intending to do swim lessons with the kids for a while now, and each time we travel somewhere on vacation they come so far in their water comfort. I have indoor pool phobia ever since I realized the intention of a swim diaper and am reluctant to visit our local indoor pools.)  I think there are so many ways to explore children's interests and to introduce them to languages, music and sports without taking lessons which not only cost lots of money but also end up making for busy hectic days, rushed dinners and sandwiches while driving.

This winter I am going to start learning to play the Lyre, meanwhile Avery is going to watch and just burn with a passion to play it herself as well. Then for Christmas she is going to get her own Pentatonic Kinder Lyre that looks somewhat similar to the one I've been playing, and the two of us will have some special time playing the Lyre together this winter. Avery's main interests so far are music and arts. We have just started doing some embroidery together. She currently draws and paints daily as well as beading with large wood beads. She gets in a crafty mood daily. My challenge is staying one step ahead of her and being ready with new ideas.

This year we are buying used skates and used cross country skis for the kids and I. Dustin is getting a pair of snow shoes and if he likes using them, he is planning on getting a pair for Noah so they can go hiking off trail together. I am looking forward to getting out more this winter. But not as much as I'm just looking forward to our indoor family time. I could not be more content with how the next few months are shaping up; filled with mellow home time; morning lessons, afternoon play time and evening crafts and gaming, punctuated with weekend family get togethers and celebrations.

I would love to hear from readers about your favorite family winter activities and what you do to explore your children's interests without signing them up for lesson upon lesson. Best wishes to you on this November morning