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Monday, September 24, 2012

under the pines


Frantically typing at a coffee shop in town while the kids tear apart the toy collection nearby. Lordhavemercy.

Our old computer died pre-move. New computer took some time to get set up. And for some reason I CANT blog on my blackberry with the new version of blogger.


But we are here. In this sweet little town. And our house. Oh. We LOVE it.

I have so much to write. To remember. To share. To document for posterity (tongue in cheek).


Mostly today though.

My baby girl.

Who I screamed into the world one year ago. Who finally breathed after a few terrifying minutes, the worst three minutes of my life. Who is now walking, only, feeding herself with her own little fork, laughing, loving, nodding her head yes in big exaggerated motions, and talking more than is normal for a tiny girl like her.

And so. First. I blog about her. To her. To say. My girl. My girl. Thank you. I love you. We love you.

Happy birthday.

Friday, September 14, 2012


I had all these great last few days at the farm posts planned and then, the inevitable, my dang blasted cuss word computer finally drew its last breath, and died.

Also, did I mention the car has been in the shop the last few days?

And we are moving tomorrow. And you know how I love packing.

It will all work out but, still, fun times.

So. I am putting in frozen pizza for lunch and eyeing the bottle of vodka on the fridge. HA HA. Joking. Sort of.

So, you will hear from me at some point in the next week when the new laptop arrives, assuming I will have internet access by then...

I suppose its good though. A week long break to unpack, catch our breath, set up our nest a little.

So friends... Be back later!

And thanks for all the postive feedback (here and on facebook and private emails) about my last post. I appreciate it so much.

Wish me luck! (And that that bottle holds up, HA HA.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

in which i discuss our homeschooling plans, with some hestitation

So. Homeschooling. Here is the thing. I dont want to say I am a reluctant homeschooler because I am totally confident this is the right choice for us and our kids, for now. I just. Well. I was homeschooled and while we were a-typical homeschoolers (who -gasp - listened to the radio and wore jean shorts and cut our hair off and went to beach parties and the like) I know the homeschoolers stigma that is out there. How will your child ever be SOCIAL? Aren't teachers more qualified than YOU? What about all those denim jumpers??? (Ok, confession. I totally bought a denim jumper for our summer on the farm. At a thrift store. I mean, come on, it had a velcro pocket to put my Blackberry in! How could I pass that up! And no, seriously, I totally wore it. Although not in public.) In any case. I am reluctant to go on about our homeschooling I think because I swore up and down in my 20s that I would NEVER homeschool. We were going to "support the school system of public education that made our country GREAT!" I still think this is a noble effort. But, you know, when it comes to your kid things change. And you look at his big brown eyes filling with tears at the prospect of going to Sunday School, let alone all day kindergarten, and you find yourself being so protective of his playmates and television consumption and so on and oh, well, then you start thinking, well, maybe we COULD homeschool, just for a year mind you.

And oh, I hear the judgements rolling around in people's heads. (Or my presupposed ideas of what other people think, maybe, and all of those self doubts of my own which I then project onto other people? Something like this.) Which is why I hate posting about things like this. I am so totally supportive of whatever choices mama and dada's need to make to do what is best for their families. Really I am. Co-sleeping, breastfeeding, daycare, working full time, working part time, being a working-in-the-home-housewifey-mama. School is the same. And I know and love many school teachers. For reals.

So let's just say we can all do what is best for our families and I will just go ahead and unashamedly post about homeschooling plans, you know what I mean?

Okay. Now that THAT is out of the way. HA.

Boy do I have PLANS. Dude. Plans plans plans. Lots of plans.

I am a little scared of my plans.

No, really. Kind of. Yes. I am in fact.

Can she do it folks? Can she pull it off?

So. I make lists to make myself feel better. And I give us time, once we settle in the new place, to get to know it, and unpack, and find the local parks, and just be.

So. Do you want to hear my plans??? Of COURSE YOU DO. RIGHT??????

So I am thinking this.

Last two weeks of September:
*Mapping our new space, how to make a map, tree identification on our land, north and south, etc discussion, what birds do we see
*Setting up a play yard, DIY balance beam/see saw/tire swing/sand pit
*Putting in a cold-frame garden box (To GROW GREENS. IN WINTER. Fabulous, right???)

September 28 - Michaelmas celebration
So, I will post more on Michaelmas later but its a traditional celebration to mark the end of summer, the harvest, and also to tell the story of St. Michael, represented by Saint George in the myths, defeating the dragon. Look up Michaelmas on pinterest or on google. Amazing. Especially for a dragon knight loving little boy. And I like the representation of us, defeating the dragons within ourselves, as we prepare for the winter of darkness, holding on to the light of summer.

And here is where the real magic begins. Because Oh. My. Word. I have written up this great story for little man which takes him on a journey each day and introduces a letter of the alphabet in each chapter. This is a Waldorf-y thing I truly love. Not just "Here is how to read" but lets engage the imagination! Let's draw M as a Mountain and tell a story about a Mountain! Lets Bake Bread for B. In the shape of a B. And tell a story about a Brown Bear!

So I have created this story. Its about a Prince who goes in search of a magic lantern and finds jewels along the way (consonants) and magical stars (vowels) which will go into the lantern (knowledge!) to guide his father's kingdom back into light and prosperity.

I tell little man I am writing him an alphabet story. He goes. Great mom. But I already know my alphabet. Ha. Which is true. But the idea is to really dwell on each letter. All the sounds it makes. And incorporate the arts (B is for Beethoven!) And also to tell stories about each letter that has the letter incorporated into the shape of the thing. W is for Wave. Draw a beach with W-looking waves. Etc.

This is also how Waldorf traditionally introduces math concepts. Yes MATH can be imaginative and fun! With little gnomes who represent addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and King Equals who rules them and their work in the jewel mines. LOVE IT.

Many people have written about this in a better way, so I will spare you a blow by blow of what we do (unless you are interested of course!) but the general idea is to keep learning fanciful and fun and then they will engage naturally in the joy of learning. This is what I want for my kids. To LOVE learning. Not be freaked out by who will sit by them at lunch time or what little Tommy said on the bus or stressed by homework assignments by the age of 7. There is plenty of time for learning to navigate social settings and learning to work hard at homework, you know? For now, in this window where my 6 year old still asks me to "please please tell the story about Rose Red and Snow White!" I want to be able to give them this.

(Oh Man. I cant even write this for fear of people thinking, "I am a teacher and I work damn hard to be fanciful and fun!" Or. "My little Johnny goes to school and he LOVES it and LOVES learning." Oh, I know, I know. And....There I go again. Freaked out about judgements. I dont know why its so hard to let go? I write here about homebirthing which I know LOTS of people have opinions about...ok. Seriously this is really stressing me to write about this. Why? SO interesting, really, to step back and think about how parenting choices make us judge each other. And how fearful we can be of people not "approving" of us. It took me months to admit to even close people in my life that my two year old was still nursing. Why does it bother us so?? This is why this post hasnt happened yet. Ok. Letting it go....again.)

So. In October we will do this journey of letters. Along with stories in the morning and a "circle time" for little miss, lots of outside play, and a reading time of chapter books in the afternoon. I have a nice little rhythm I hope to get going in our first few weeks. (Will blog about this later, for sure, lucky you.) And I will have in the Alphabet Journey some good nature study material, a bit of science and some geography. But we will keep it light. Really our focus will be on re-establishing rhythm in our home life. Baking Day. Washing Day. So on and so forth. Good grief I miss the rhythm of our days like this more than the kids!

Ok. I hope I don't come off as a nutcase here. But this stuff is so fun to me and I want to share it with you all in my life. Would love to hear feedback too.

And wherever your little people are attending, Happy Back to School Days!!
Friday, September 7, 2012

anti-recipe #52 pickled three bean salad

So. Canning is a huge part of summer at the farm. This year we havent had much canning really, well, none at all, until this week that is. Because now it is "Harvest Time" and something about the family lineage, all of those Norwegians and Swedes pioneering on the plains, well, it kicks us into full on canning/preserving-for-the-winter mode. We become these unstoppable canning-at-10pm freaks.

For a day or two at least.


In any case. My mom and sister and I made three bean salad the other day. MANY MANY jars of three bean salad. In fact, one might say TOO many but, that would go against our nature. To Can Is To Provide For Your Family!!

This pickled bean salad is really great and really you can throw anything into this kind of brine. We did beans from the garden, yellow and green, and pinto beans (precooked). But then you can put lots of other things in - sliced up red and yellow peppers, for color, onion or garlic. Or you could do full on pickled vegetables. Cauliflower and peppers and beets and carrots and turnips and anything else leftover in the garden.

My mom, being a prepared-recipe type of cook, got out her Bell Canning Cookbook and found the proper ingredients (even going so far as to go to the store to buy the missing ingredients!! Amazing!) But the "throw-in-leftover-vegetables-from-the-garden" element is why I deem this an "anti-recipe." Sure you need to have the right vinegar to water ratio in the brine but the seasoning and veggie combo possibilities are endless.

All that said. I did very little to contribute to this effort. I think I sliced the peppers.

So. Here are pictures of my sister and mother canning. HA.

And it good...sweet, tangy, crunchy. And the longer it sits the better it gets!

the end of the beans from the garden
beans, pepper, onion and pinto bean mixture

so here is the bean and pepper and onion mixture, cooking away.
the green/yellow beans need to be just partially cooked.

then you drain the bean mixture and ladle it into hot
canning jars. then you add the pickling brine. you
can see the proper ratio of everything below. basically
vinegar, sugar, water and seasonings.

here is the recipe my mom follows

here is the other variation. YUM. apple cider vinegar!

then you can it in a hot water bath for 20 minutes or so

then you drink tea.

half of the baby cousin brigade. FOUR babies born into the family this year!

this walking girl is mainly why i didnt participate
here she is walking to me like "THERE you

hold me mama. hold me.

you put me DOWN??? HOW DARE YOU!!

the finished jars. pretty right?? mmmm....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

the end of summer, blackberry poetry

Driving through the countryside
In the heart of America
Where fields glisten gold
Rolling on and on and up into the darkening sky
Then pause for the pocket of trees
Where farmsteads lie, generations in the making
Clapboard houses, greying from years of snow and sun
Or newer versions, someone's son who went and built himself a mini-mansion, next to the greying houses, now tumbled over with weeds, forgotten
Then rolling fields again, on and on
Cars speed along over the dark pavement
Leap frogging each other, in a race to get home
Pausing in their scramble for a combine, driven by a tanned teenager, cursing at city-working drivers, blowing dust as they fly by
Passing old, cheaply-built bars, pickups out front, neon signs for Budweiser, and a billboard advertising a turkey shoot next weekend
Goldenrod, Queen Annes Lace, and the perky blue sailors filling up the ditches
Here and there a flash of closely tended flower beds, a farmwife's treasure, framed by a perfectly mown lawn, in diagonal patterns
The spire of a country church rising up from the golden corn
Oh, the generations of ham bakes and pancake breakfasts!
The air is thick with end of August humidity
It hangs on the trees, the blackberry patches, the ponds filled with duckweed and cattails
Reds and yellows now tint the edges of far off woods, pockets of shade behind the rolling hills of crops
The tassels of corn, swaying in the wind, now a field of low green soy
Back and forth the crops trade along the road
And then off to the right or left, a side road, only sometimes paved, leading down to yet another farm yard where more tended, prized flower beds are framed by more perfectly mown lawns
The richly pungent smell of cow and dust and mown hay
Billowing clouds on the horizon, a storm building up energy in the lazy humid sky
And all this hits me
Windows down, hair blowing, heat soaking into my bones
As home

summer's last hurrah

So I havent been posting much. I feel so out of rhthym lately. I need space and time to get back into a norm. Expect much posting on this in the weeks to come. SO much to look forward too, right? HA. I am crazy into school planning mode and spend my free time on the computer looking up story ideas and planning out how to introduce letters and numbers in a fun Waldorf-y way. Again, expect many posts. And we have found a little place up north to rent and we are quite excited. Showing it to the kids for the first time today. On some acres. In the country. Rather perfect for us for now. I am itching to set up house. Like writhing in pain to unpack boxes and set up my little world again. Yes, dramatic, I know. But you must know by now I simply am a dramatic person. HA HA. For real though, it is amazing how "stuff" defines the stay at home mom's world. Do I feel bad about this? A little. And yes, I have learned a bit of a lesson about it. More on that later too.

In the meanwhile, we took the kids for a hike to the perfect little beach spot on the river this weekend, to celebrate the end of summer. Here are some pictures.


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