Monday, June 22, 2009

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I was out working in the garden this evening after Cora was in bed when Chloe came out. I was in my 'zone' - just focusing on my plants, enjoying the peace of gardening, and not really listening to Miss Chatterbox as she explored the area near the water spicket.

"Mom! I found a slug!"

"Mmm. That's nice, honey, but I don't think we have slugs here. I've never seen one before."

"Mom! There's more! There's a whole HERD of slugs!"

"Uh huh. That's great, kiddo." I finished pulling out all of the never-ending crab grass around my tomatoes and sighed with satisfaction.

Chloe came over about then and said, "See? It really is a slug! Isn't it adorable?"

And it was. It was really a slug. She took me to where she found it. She wasn't kidding, there really was a whole herd of them - dozens, crawling all around the moist area where the hose is connected.

"Ugh!" I exclaimed. "I'll pay you five cents for every slug you can catch. Slugs are a gardener's worst nightmare."

"These aren't my worst nightmare, Mom. This is my dream come true!"

She proceeded to put eight or ten of them into one of her bug barns. Then she took them out, a couple at a time... to pet them. She had slug races on our picnic table, squeeing with glee at just how darn cute she thought those slugs were.

Boy, I sure hope she thinks squash bugs and potato beetles are so cute, 'cuz I'm gonna need someone to pick those off my plants before long. :o)


We had a lovely couple of days with Andrew off work. Last night we brought out the fire pit after the girls were in bed, lit it up, and sat watching the fire and drinking a little bit more than normal. We sat out there drinking beers and doing a couple of shots of whiskey and talked until nearly eleven o'clock. It was splendid. The weather has been beautiful, not too hot, and it was just... really, really nice.

This morning we stayed in bed until almost 9:00. I can't remember the last time I stayed in bed past six, so that was a real treat for me. The girls were up, they'd come crawl into bed and snuggle for a bit then run off to play - they were really good. It sure was nice just to be lazy. I'm not good at being lazy, usually. Definitely gonna have to do that more often.


We worked on planning our vacation next month. Andrew's got 12 days off work and we're driving up to northern Montana to go camping with his sister and her new husband, who are driving down from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I'm really looking forward to visiting with them (especially N - I miss her so much!) and letting the girls spend time with her too. We're taking a longer route up there and will spend a day driving through a corner of Yellowstone and then across the Beartooth Highway into Montana. We'll camp at the end of that highway which thrills me, it's a place I've wanted to see for a few years now, since I first read about it. They say it's the most beautiful road in the country.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Holy Technology

My father (like most men) is nearly impossible to shop for. Either what he wants costs thousands of dollars, or he just buys it himself before anyone has a chance to buy it for him. I'm sure you know the type.

So I gave my dad an Amazon gift card for Father's Day. (This appealed to me since I didn't have to leave the house and drag children into a store to purchase an actual card, and my dad is an Amazon shopper.) It was super simple. Fill out the amount, pick a design, put in his email and send. Three minutes later I received a text message from my dad letting me know he got it, thank you, he's sure to use it.

Isn't that incredible? Every so often it hits me again how fascinating our technological world has become. And ya know, I think it tickles my dad, those techno-things like that. Just fascinating, I suppose.


Completely unrelated story-

First, try this. Stand up. Now start panting like a dog (but don't stick your tongue out.) Now start stomping your feet... faster - you should really be jiggling. Now clap your hands, while continuing to pant and stomp. Got it? Okay, here's my story.

We grocery shopped yesterday. The agreement is that if the girls are good, we get donuts at the end. (I don't see anything at all wrong with bribery.) I picked up some sponges at Wal-Mart - the O-Cello brand. They're all pretty and colorful looking. Cora desperately wanted to hold them, so I let her. I didn't realize how oddly attached to the sponges she'd become.

So we shop, we get our donuts, we eat our donuts, and we come home. Then I'm emptying grocery bags and putting things away and I go to replace the ratty old sponge with a pretty new one. Cora's watching... and starts doing the happy dance - that one I just made you do. She was SO excited. Out of curiosity I handed her the sponge. How odd, for such a small girl to find such pleasure in a new kitchen sponge...

She bellows "No-nut" and shoves the sponge into her mouth, chomping down. She made a rather funny face, handed the sponge back and said "Uh oh. No-nut ca-ca." Then she sat down on the floor and pouted. It was pitiful.

She thought the sponge was a donut - as promised. It was tremendously disappointing to find out that beautiful, brightly colored little thing was just for scrubbing dishes. Poor kid - life's lessons are tough, aren't they?

~Yes, I used way too many words to describe that silly little story, but it was cute. And it puts a smile on my face to imagine women all around the country doing the happy dance in front of their computers.~

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The odd neighbor.

Our neighbor across the street and slightly to the right is a single, middle aged man who works nights. We don't see much of him. I don't even know his name. He only comes outside to check the mail or to take out the trash, and he grumbles and curses to himself (loudly) each time. And he drives too fast.

Once, or maybe twice each summer, he does his yard work with a weed whacker. That is to say - the ONLY yard work he does is with a weed whacker, and he only does it once. He takes out the weed whacker at eight o'clock in the morning and spends a few hours whacking away at his entire yard until it's been satisfactorily whacked, and that's it. He whacks the weeds that grow where a lawn should be. He whacks the hedge in front of his house. He whacks trees, shrubs, bushes. His house looks naked now, with all the overgrowth whacked away.

Sometimes it's better just to nod and smile and occasionally wave, than to actually know your neighbors.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two birds with one stone.

Getting Chloe to clean her room is a never ending battle - as it is with all six year old little girls with too many toys. Andrew made an exceptional point (that should have been obvious) - she gets overwhelmed when I just say "clean your room" because she doesn't know where to start.

I've devised a solution. I've used it now two days with reasonably good results and so thought I'd share, for those of you who also have six year old little girls with too many toys. The best part is that it's educational too - gets writing/spelling out of the way for the day.

Step 1: Get a sheet of paper, number it 1-10. Give the sheet to the child, along with a pencil.
Step 2: Instruct child to pick up 10 toys and to write each toy she picks up on the list.
Step 3: Cheer and do a little dance when you discover your child has actually picked up 10 toys.
Step 4: Go through the list, gently correct spelling, and suggest your child re-write the words that were spelled wrong.
Step 5: Go have some cookies and milk and congratulate your kid. She deserves it.

For whatever reason, Chloe thinks listing the items she picks up is far more fun than just picking up. And to say "10 things" instead of "clean your room" seems less overwhelming. She's picked up 20 things in two days and her room does look a bit cleaner. I figure a week of this and we should be all caught up in there. :o)

Hope this works for someone else too!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Because homemaking isn't hard enough.

For some yet undetermined reason, I have a passion (quirk?) for making every last thing much harder than it needs to be. Homemaking isn't hard enough, ya know, I've gotta make it as much work as I possibly can.

Case in point: Homemade Pasta.

Yep, that's homemade spinach pasta, currently drying on clothes hangers in my kitchen. Yes, I know I can buy perfectly good pasta at the supermarket for $.64 a pound. But what fun is that, when I can spend an hour watching flour and eggs turn into something delicious (and use up some of the enormous over-supply of garden-fresh spinach?)

Once upon a time, my mom bought a pasta maker at a yard sale for five bucks. She may or may not have ever used it. When she came across it while I was at her house, she offered it to me. Squee! Love when Mom buys something she'll undoubtedly never use, just because it was a good deal. :o)

This is the second time I've tried my hand at pasta making. The first was only mildly successful - three hours worth of work for enough oddly shaped, rather dry pasta for one meal and a very sore left wrist (you try kneading dough that stiff for fifteen minutes, let me know how ya feel!) This time was far more successful - I used the KitchenAid to do most of my kneading. I altered the recipe a little bit. I figured out a few tricks with the pasta maker. This time I have at least three meals' worth of pasta and it only took an hour from start to finish, including clean up.

If you're anything like me (that is to say, cursed with a knack for always doing things the hard way,) definitely give pasta making a try. It's a very satisfying activity, especially when it's 9 o'clock at night and you're waiting on your husband to come home.

~If anyone seriously wants to try it, and wants more info on how I actually successfully created pasta, let me know and I'll give more details. ~


Instead of saying "we're going camping... again", I'm going to start saying "we're going on a Homeschooling Field Study this weekend." Doesn't that sound far more important? I think it makes us sound less like slackers who love hanging out in the woods and more like responsible homeschooling parents, always on the search for new ways to educate our children.

To prove my point, here are a few photos from our most recent Homeschooling Field Study in Paonia, CO.

In four days, we covered a wide range of topics. Physical education, of course, in the form of "rock climbing", walking back and forth to the toilet eleventeen times a day and pleasant strolls through fields full of grasshoppers.

There were several botany lessons:

And life science:

Actually, there was a robin's nest in our camp site (not this nest) that still had baby robins in it. We got to watch the mama and daddy come back repeatedly throughout the day with more food for the babies.

Canoeing counts as physics, doesn't it?

And of course, art and textiles:

Charlotte Mason was a big proponent of Nature Studies - giving children their freedom to explore nature close up without getting too involved as a teacher/parent. (Thanks Katey, for showing me the wonders of Charlotte Mason!) We had plenty of opportunity for Nature Studies.

See? So we're not just always going on vacation. We're working hard to provide our children with an excellent, hands-on education. As Chloe said, "This is the lifetime!"

~There are several more pictures on my Facebook for those interested. I didn't figure I ought to load down my blog with three dozen pictures of my adorable children.~

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I don't even know where to start. How on earth did I stop blogging for so long?

Since I'm not even sure where to begin, I'll start with a garden update (since I'm sure y'all are dying to know how my garden is doing... right.)

The peas are monstrous. They are taller than me, taller than the fence Andrew built for them, blooming and producing like crazy. I froze my first batch of snow peas tonight - we just can't keep up with eating them all. Half of the peas I'm harvesting early as edible pod/sugar peas, the other half I'm letting mature into shelling peas. (That's the peas, on the left. The four plants on the right are roma tomatoes.)

Which of course brings me to tomatoes. I planted 6 roma tomatoes (for freezing and canning) in two varieties and four big beefsteak-type tomato plants. All have blossoms and most have a few babies on them. Then I got to thinking how much fun it was last year for the girls to pick the little grape tomatoes, so I went looking for a plant at the nursery. For whatever reason, one plant was $3.50 but a six pack of smaller plants was $1.95. I planted four of them, two are waiting to be given away. There are little yellow-pear tomato plants planted randomly around our front yard now. Because really, everyone needs fourteen tomato plants, don't they?

And, let's see... the carrots look pitiful. Hardly any came up, maybe a dozen? I replanted another hundred seeds today in homemade toilet-paper tape with heavy mulch. Hopefully they do something. The golden beets didn't come up great, but what did come up are doing quite well. I can see their golden tops pushing up out of the soil.

The garlic has been growing strong since the snow first melted. It should be ready in July or August if my calculations are right. I'm still having trouble understanding why anyone would wait almost an entire year for garden-fresh garlic. Is it really worth it? I guess we'll see soon enough.

I'm pretty much drowning in leaf crops. We have salad at least once a day, sometimes twice. I've been sending wraps in Andrew's lunch as often as possible. I've given a grocery sack packed full of lettuce and spinach to the neighbor. I called tonight to see if they wanted more - they said they still had plenty from last time. Seriously, it's been a week! Eat more salad people! I chopped some spinach and froze it to use later in soups, sauces and dips. I cooked up a bunch and turned it into spinach pasta. (Because going to the store to buy pasta isn't nearly as much fun as spending an entire afternoon making your own... there's something satisfying about pounds of pasta hanging from clothes hangers all around the kitchen as it dries.) I've got enough spinach to serve spinach salad every night for the rest of this week, and it's still growing. And there are about 15 heads of lettuce, plus more just sprouted... anyone local who wants some lettuce, c'mon over!

Four varieties of lettuce:
So that's most of the garden news. Fascinating, isn't it?


I've made a few things recently too. (Is there ever a time when I haven't "made a few things"?)

A top for Chloe (clearance Wal-Mart fabric, altered a size 3 pattern to fit her and made a matching hairbow.)

A matching smock-style dress for Cora (vintage 1970's pattern, and of course, a matching bow.)

A couple of cards (I think I'm gonna start listing cards on Etsy to use up some scrapbooking bits I've got laying around. So if you're in the market for greeting cards...... ;o)

So yeah. That's about it for now. I'll try to start blogging like a normal person again. Except that we're leaving tomorrow to go camping for three or four days this weekend, so it won't be until after that. :o) I'll try and get back into reading y'all's blogs too - I miss ya!