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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

a Christmas miracle

Last week was hard. 

You know those weeks. School feels like such a chore. Money is stressful. The holidays are approaching and you're going um, how are we paying for all this this year?? Then after awhile, you stop asking. 

And we have no farm full of grandparents and aunties and uncles to look forward to, for thanksgiving or Christmas, and ticket prices are expensive so no one is coming our way. 

And I for some moronic reason got so exhausted digging through our storage unit right before we left that when we couldn't find the Christmas boxes I thought to myself "it's OK, who cares, we will get some new ones in Hawaii!"

Dumb dumb dumb. 

And things are really expensive here. You can't just go out and replace 15 years worth of Christmas decorations. 

So I tried to be like June. I decided to go on to Pinterest and pin 47 million ornaments to make. With the kids. We made one batch of cornstarch/baking soda ornaments and I found myself snapping at the kids because they were doing them wrong. WRONG. 

It was bad.

So I kind of gave up. We would get a tree get some lights put up our little ornaments and call it done. 

And my extended family is texting each other about the Christmas decorations they are getting out and plans for the holidays and I'm thinking about our sad tree and feeling sorrier and sorrier for myself. 

And then to top of this week dada is trying to repair a leaky pipe. In the wall. In the rain. And so he goes to the attic, which we've never been up to, to investigate. 

And there. Lo and behold. The miracle. 

Tubs and tubs of Christmas decor, left by previous tenants, up for anyone to use. 

Can I say, I cried?! 

I mean. A nativity and some lights and garlands and a ton of glass balls and ornaments. Even a cheesy Santa vase. 

Cried. Real tears. 

And I realize, okay so maybe God has a place for us here, so far from "home"  (wherever that is). And as I put up the fake pine garlands, complete with paper stars we folded together, and strings of lights, I have to accept that it's okay to need the little things, things that seem so small. In a week of horrible tragedy around the world, tragedy in our dear city we left behind in the frozen northlands, it's okay to cry tears of joy over lights and Christmas balls. We can't let tragedy - or hard weeks - steal that joy. That gratitude. Joy over the little moments in life give us our humanity. Keep us tender. Keep us connected. We need to keep seeing them. Keep that wonder. His eye is indeed on the sparrow. And this mama is ever so thankful. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

volcano study

So. School.

You know, its hard to juggle the working thing and the homeschool thing some weeks.But this week, for a few days at least, I feel like we got it.

A few weeks ago little man discovered something about making a model volcano. But of course, I say, seeing as we live on the side of a volcano, we absolutely must do this.

So we collected a bottle, some newspapers, and drew up designs and watched youtube videos. Meanwhile, we were at the library on campus the other day and little man says, out of the blue mind you, "I am going to look up a bunch of facts about volcanoes and then write a lecture for everyone and then do a presentation. So can you help me find volcano books?"


I need more of this self directed study in my life man. How can this happen??? This morning, trying to prompt a similar enthusiasm I say, "hey, what do you want to work on today?" He says, "um. Nothing?"

Maybe we arent quite there yet.

But we do. Cartooning is still a passion. He now has books of character ideas and the other day we signed him up for a Roman architecture course on Coursera (college level classes taught by Yale, Harvard, etc profs! EEK. I WANT TO TAKE A CLASS!)

He's got the bug. Its growing. Its just like fanning this tiny flame. Sometimes mama's enthusiasm can just extinguish it altogether.

So, I'm learning too I guess. Learning how to learn. Yes. Anyway.


Finally one day I said, okay guys, lets build.

We started with a bottle on a rusty old cookie sheet, then covered it with random bits of cardboard all taped together. This forms the base of the volcano.

Then I mixed a handful of flour with water to form a paste. We cut strips of newspaper.  

The girls refused to do the paste part. Too messy. Instead I put on a Magic School Bus episode about chemical reactions in baking. Baking soda! Vinegar! Bubbles! That is what we are going to do! See??

In the hot Hawaiian afternoon sun it took about a day to fully dry. After that we waited a few days. Needed to go buy paint, seeing as I left all my craft goodies in a storage unit in the frozen Northland.

Finally. Painting day. We added little streams of lava down the side for effect. Little man's idea.

So, this week, finally finally. Explosion day.

We watched a video about the Mt. St. Helen's explosion and the kids wrote up presentations (Little Green drawing a picture). They gave their presentations and then EXPLOSION.

We were not disappointed.

I liked doing it over the period of a few weeks and I am thinking we will continue science this way over the year. Next is ocean study, so I am thinking find an experiment to plan and research.Write up reports along the way, watch some videos on the topic, read some books, then on the big day we do our reports and the experiment.

Okay. Anyway. You've got to celebrate the minor accomplishments in motherhood and this felt like one. Science! Engaged! Learning! Fun!

it was a hot afternoon. ha

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

because, Tuesday

I tried to post this yesterday, but I couldnt get it done. Because, Tuesday.

You know. Tuesday. The weekend is far away. Pushing school onto the kiddos is like pulling teeth. I dont know why I bother some mornings. If I just kept little man supplied with Legos, paper for comic book drawings, frosted flakes, an afternoon swim, and a steady stream of books he could probably do just fine. I just sat talking with him about Greek gods and mythology. He rattled off the names of more than 20 gods, lesser gods and titans. And I'm like. Uh. Okay. Just, keep reading. HA HA.

So instead. I turn to fun mama. The girls and I douse ourselves with mosquito spray (they seem to have followed us to paradise) and go outside every few days to work on our fairy village. So far we have a lovely house, decorated with fresh plumeria flowers regularly, with cups made from the hulls of macadamia nuts scattered around the yard and walls of lava rock (the only kind of rock you can find here). Our recent addition was a lookout tower.

(Little man chooses to stay inside and read during these outings.)

Then we come in and read a Winnie the Pooh story. Giggling at Pooh and his escapades. (Little man chooses to listen from in his room whilst building Legos.)

Next, a Thankful tree, for November, we paint leaves the traditional fall colors and write messages on the back of gratitude, and tape them to a fallen branch I found in the yard. (Not from the plumeria trees, which drip toxic white sap when they break!)

(Little man is reading, again.)

In case you were wondering re leaves here. So. In the tropics leaves fall and regrow constantly. Which means no real "fall" but it also means raking. Constantly.

Our gratitude project complete we attempt a few math work book pages. Little green gets out the chalkboard and practices all the letter she knows, making me read her "word" after each new letter. (Example: ALFICOBPUVQ What does it say NOW mom??)

(I rein in little man. Yes. You MUST do some math. He whines at a tough page so I cave and let him do a couple pages with charts and graphs. He then concedes and even sticks around long enough to do a grammar page. Um. Predicates? I totally dont remember any of this. BAD WRITER HOMESCHOOL MOM!)

And then. Yes girls, I know, I promised. We bake cookies. For some reason my standard recipe falls to crumbly pieces. Not enough flour? Butter too soft? No idea. But they are happy. All I can think is crumbling up some on top of ice cream while watching Grey's Anatomy. Literally the ONLY TV show I watch now. What has happened to me??? Mostly though, I just want wine whilst watching. Alas. Baby fetus #4 prevents this.

My super mom morning* completed with minimal whining and tears dada texts up from his garage office. "Take kids swimming so you can work?" YES PLEASE. (Isn't he dreamy??)

Then I have a meeting on campus which goes amazingly encouragingly well.

And I think, a the end of the day, watching Grey's and eating grapes (trying to stay healthy. Grrr) and feeling kiddo #4 kick around in my belly.

Okay. This is, in fact, amazingly good and fulfilling on all fronts. As long as I can work past the grumpy moments of math page fights and picking up bedroom struggles and downcast mama who misses her oil paints and household knick knacks. Those things are pretty small, really.

And we're starting to figure this new life out. And, its going to be a good life for us. So long as boy-child gets his books and Legos and frosted flakes. (He just came up to me to inform me that he'd like to have fangs instead of his side front teeth one day. Um. Okay. Good to have life goals kiddo.)

Alright. Time for some school. And more coffee. Happy Wednesday lovely folk!

*Lest my super mom morning overly impress you. Today I have given kids cereal, had coffee, made an egg, and written this post. HA HA

So, this is what I am thankful for today. That, friends, is a coffee tree. 

And those, friends, are coffee berries. Pick when red. Dry. Hull. Roast. Grind. Drink. 

We will only have enough for a handful of grounds, most likely, but still. SO STINKING COOL. RIGHT???
Saturday, October 24, 2015

this happened

So today as the kids watched cartoons and played I sat on my butt for two hours and did this. 

1) the colors here are so inspiring 
2) waves are hard

Now I'm laying on my bed with plans to read as it pours down a lovely rain. 

Ah. Saturday. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

anti-recipe #77 how to process a coconut

So. Here's the thing. I'm not really going to be posting about knitting for awhile, or woolen sweater creations, or pine cone gnome crafts or applesauce canning or winter squash soup. 

It's just not life these days for me. And yea, I'm kinda out of my element. Canning applesauce (as bad as past experiences have been, ha!) is way more my thing than trying to figure out how to prune a banana tree. 

So I figure, what the heck, I'll just show you what I'm up to and we'll learn together and maybe it will be informative or just amusing, as you guys pile on the sweaters and make apple pie.

So, here's what I did yesterday. 

Processed four coconuts. 

You can actually go out to a fancy store somewhere and buy a whole coconut so maybe it's not all moot. 

In any case. I read somewhere, as I was researching what to do with my four coconuts, that being given the gift of coconuts in their raw state is much like someone handing you yarn and telling you to enjoy the sweater... It's a lot of work. 

Nevertheless, we charge ahead! June loves a good challenge! Ha. 

So, on campus there are many many coconut trees and yesterday some of the yard crew guys had gathered them up in a giant pile and sat with a machete, handing them out to anyone who wanted a drink of fresh coconut water. 

Of course the kids and I were entranced. We drank the water inside (slightly tangy, slightly sweet) and there they were. Four coconuts. What now? 

Bring them home, I say. Dada says, I have a machete in the garage! Perfect. 

He chips them open while I poke around on the Internet.

Dried coconut flakes and some milk is what I decide on. So here's what I did. 

First, pull out the flesh from the inside of the coconut. It needs to be not too green. If you haven't drunk up your water inside yet, save it! (Gouge a hole, dump it into a container, then hack the rest open) We'll use it later to make delish coconut milk!  

After scraping it out (we, that is my little miss, my only interested helper at my side, we just used a spoon) rinse all the bits of hull or husk or whatever it's called. Then break up your pieces of meat into a few inch pieces. 

Next get out your blender. I used the grind option, it worked great but my blender could only handle small batches at a time.

I left several handfuls in the blender to make milk, the rest I spread on a tray and sprinkled with sugar. To dry them out just toast for 20 minutes at 350. I went too brown with my first effort, toasting them until brown, about 40 minutes. 

Store in a baggie or airtight container. I put mine in the fridge. And ate some this morning on yogurt. Holy yum. Tomorrow I'm thinking something with dark chocolate. Mmmmmm.  

So, with the other handfuls still in the blender, this is when I wish I had saved some of the liquid we drank up because it needs to be added back in and blended with the chopped handfuls of coconut meat. I just added water instead. Blend on your highest setting until frothy and delicious then strain out the chunks. I used a metal mesh strainer but you're supposed to use cheesecloth to squeeze out every last drop.

Oh my goodness. So good. Totally saving for a tasty smoothie for lunch tomorrow.

So. That's that. I'm hooked. Totally digging around the trees on campus next week again. 

June in Hawaii. She likes it here. 
Wednesday, October 14, 2015

June's back! and a bit of a new house tour

Why am I back???

This is why.




Did you catch that? Playdough. Crunchy hippy homemade playdough. IN MY OWN KITCHEN.

If you have been following the plight of June's kitchenless-state you will know that I havent had a kitchen to call my own in....SIX MONTHS.

Which has been rather HARD FOR JUNE.

But now. We unpack pretty towels. We start rooting mint and basil in a glass on the counter. We pick flowers for the windowsill. AND WE BASK IN THE GLORY OF A KITCHEN. (Who is this royal we? Why, June and I of course! HAHAHAHA)

Um, also, WITH A DISHWASHER. And a fancy fridge with some kind of built in tablet/computer/security camera monitor I cant figure out how to use.

Also geckos.

This vision can't be perfect, alas. It seems I am destined to share my kitchen counter and the cupboard above the fridge with a gecko who wont take the hint and leave. They say geckos are good luck. And cute! And they eat bugs! I say. They nibble on food left on the counter and poop on the window sill. And they are stealthy and speedy and are apparently going to be my Hawaiian housekeeping nemesis, much like mice in our last place. I am deadly afraid of mice.

In any case. Geckos aside.

I HAVE A KITCHEN. And, a POOL. And BEDROOMS. A king size bed that feels like heaven. TWO BATHROOMS. And, an AVOCADO TREE! And yes, its been a vacation rental so its dull and needs sprucing up. Nothing some new curtains and throw pillows and pictures and potted orchids cant fix.

Okay, I'll be done with caps now. But, good grief we are so blessed to be in this place. Housing is impossible to come by, especially affordable housing, and FURNISHED affordable housing. Huge.

So I sit on the couch and sip my morning coffee and see the palms blow in the breeze and a giant white bird flaps over the house and the ocean a faint line in the background and yes, yes, this could be home, for awhile.

 Also, very June feeling...An OCEAN UNIT STUDY! And an honest to goodness homeschool corner!

Jack has had to claim the office nook with a folding screen as his room. As long as we keep him supplied with the Ipad or the next Rick Riordan book on his kindle he doesn't seem to mind.

The girls room is a work in progress...UGH.

The view off of the kitchen patio.

 My own little computer table. YAY. Past the palms? Ocean.

 Boring brown rental living room that needs decorating. Badly.

But this is the other side of the room. AHHHH....

 Growing in the plumeria tree in the front yard.

 Pineapple plant!
 Aloe grows like weeds.
 The backyard. With wild turkeys. It needs a lot of work but holy camoly you should see my pinterest board for this yard. Big plans. Big plans.
 Um. Can you go away guys? Last night we watched wild pigs root around the yard for fallen avocados
 Yes, avocados.

 Pool area. And no, we didnt buy this place. We are renting. But also managing it as a vacation property for the owner. (It has several suites on the lower floor to rent out). So pool. Yard. We even got a car in the deal. Of course, this means managing people. Like the ones who texted dada at 11pm asking why there wasnt a remote for the TV and would he please go buy one. He is doing this part. Not me. HAHA. (He is a good guy)
 Hibiscus! I love these.
 I found mint growing near the pool. YAY! I plan on putting in an herb garden here. And there are abandoned planter pots everywhere that are begging for gorgeous exotic plans that do not grow in places like the frozen north land.

 Dada took this one. Laughing to himself. "Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Just how I like her." HAHAHAHAHA

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