Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lessons from My Garden: Pruning

I am not good at pruning.  It does not come naturally to me.
We don't have 3 or 4 strands of dress-up beads.  We have 35.
We don't have 5 or 6 balls.  We have 20.  No, 30.
The garage is overflowing.  We've never parked a car in there.
We will never own enough book shelves for all of our books.
And, many of our plants are unwieldy.

In the spring, when everything in the garden really took off, as they do at this time of year, I realized that, yes, the plum tree (newly planted a couple years back) could obviously use a pruning.  It's a young tree, and the small handful of branches that would need pruning were obvious and somewhat straightforward, even to me.  I felt okay about having learned this lesson with enough concrete, observable information.  And on this young tree, I felt I could figure out how and where to trim the few branches in question.

And then, fruit began to grow on these loooooong limbs.  A lot of fruit!  Fruit adds weight.  Hmmm.

J suggested propping them in some way.  Good idea.  Prop for now to save the fruit, prune at first chance, after we've devoured all the delicious fruit.

Well, as fruit grows, it gets... heavier, yes, heavier.
My propping was no match & those limbs busted loose, arching right down to the ground.
And, I found this.

But, it looks like there's still enough of the branch intact to continue to nourish the fruit.  Fingers crossed this branch, as well as the others, will make it a few more weeks.

Lesson #1:
It is a good idea to learn to prune.

Lesson #2:
Unpruned tree branches make really nice fairy houses, where really nice play happens.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer Reads

We MUST skate right now.
One of the books on cd we brought along on our first road trip was Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. It’s part of the Melendy series, that begins with The Saturdays. This is a very sweet series.  (There is some drama; all kids are different in their comfort level with this.  We are on the more "careful" side of things, and it still works for us.  Just wanted you to know.)

We didn't get to finish it in the car -- Linus got bored.  He prefers the action of Geronimo Stilton.  Ugh (well, only a little, I guess).  So, we finished it when we got home.  It takes place in one summer, and both the author and narrator create                                                                                                     a beautiful flavor of summer.

The first chapter is my favorite, and it starts like this,
"What a noise that day!  It sounded like a pack of young sea lions. 
But it was really only the Melendy children.  They were building a dam. 
Rush had thought of it.  He had thought of it in the middle of the night in a dream, and this morning at breakfast he had told them about it. 
'Listen, kids,' he'd said.  'I've been thinking for a long time that we needed a bigger swimming place.  The one we've got now is too little; when we're all in it together the congestion is fierce.  And it's too shallow.  Every time I dive off the bank I'm scared I'll come up with a concussion of the brain.'
'Well, what are you planning to do?' inquired Mona with a tinge of sarcasm. 'Widen the brook, or deepen it, or something?'
'Exactly, my dear Watson,' replied Rush with a flourish of toast."
Stranded on a Rock (under the dining room table)
That hit the nail right on the head for me.  I'm planning to spend the summer reading and listening to books that spin stories about the deliciousness of summer -- and creating space for my kids to experience it.  Do you remember this?  Where you follow your interest all day long, where one activity develops into the next, where you barely look up because you're so engrossed in the game you've created?  Where you've got one "light-bulb" idea after another -- that simply has to be tried right now?!

Here are some more summer chapter books that the kids and I will explore in the coming months -
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
Half-Magic by Edward Eager
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
Magic or Not? by Edward Eager
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Full disclosure: I haven't read these.  Some I've browsed, some I haven't.  Maybe some of them aren't even about summer!  I think they are : )

Please, please leave a comment and share your favorite summer books with us so that we can add them to the list! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lessons from My Garden: Sweat

There's more than one way to get a good workout...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lessons from My Garden: Kohlrabi

Today's lesson:
Kohlrabi grows like this:

(ummm, not underground, like, say, a beet, as someone who shall remain nameless thought...)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Car Shirt

I have just one word for this: Awesome.

Linus: "I wish I had a shirt with cars."
Mama: "I think we might have one..."
He loves it. Every time he sees it now -- he giggles delightedly.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lessons from My Garden: A Nest

Today's lesson:
Dreams come true!

I have always wanted a bird's nest in my very own yard.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

MacGyver Mama

"Use what you've got," "make it work," maybe even "MacGyver Mama"??  Call it what you want. It was HOT outside, we wanted COLD water, I wanted a DRY phone & camera.  I had a tote bag to work with...

What ingenious solutions have you engineered with your mama supplies?  Tell us about it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lessons from My Garden: Father's Day

On Father's Day, the father at our house requested we work out in the garden for a bit. You see, several years ago he & the kids bought a Meyer lemon tree for me.  We planted it, but we haven't cared for it.  It's not gotten enough water, and it's been crowded by several really pushy plants.  This daddy of our is not a waster.  He wanted to tidy up this messy corner of the garden to save the tree (and the investment).

It was Father's Day after all, how could I say no?  And, he was right -- we did need to find time take care of this tree and this part of the garden.

Once out there, elbow (and shoulder)-deep in our project, I realized: gardening is usually my request for Mother's Day as well.  Interestingly, J and I were working from pretty different angles, but we ended up in the same place.  Seems like there must be a valuable lesson in there somewhere, doesn't it?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Rainbow Day

Have you checked out your local museum lately?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lessons from My Garden: Potatoes

I planted a potato, at the far edge of the garden, several years ago.  From it, we got a good little batch of potatoes that year. 

We continue to have potatoes in our garden every year, in varying locations, despite never having planted another.

The Potato Lesson:
Be open to unplanned possibilities.
Give them space and time to develop.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thoughts from the Garden

"Gardening is hard work, but very satisfactory."
- Sela

Monday, June 11, 2012

Road Trippin'

We Road-Trip now! 

Personally, I've never been one for a road trip.  I have never locked into what's fun about being stuck in a cramped car on the way to something-fun.  Being at the something-fun -- yes, I get that.  But waiaiaiaiaiting for the something fun to start?  And stopping to enjoy the route along the way?  Well, that just makes it longer until we get there!
And now I have two kids.  This all seemed impossible.

a chance at this crown...

and, more importantly, a snuggle with this baby...

made me game to try!
And, not only was the destination exactly what my soul needed, the road trip was really, really lovely as well.  Who knew we could pull that off?! 

We spotted this ever-changing rainbow on our way there.  We watched it change shape and size and formation over and over again.  We read books and listened to music and stories on cd.  The kids enjoyed surprise snacks in plastic eggs painted as sports balls and surprise activity books I had packed.  Of course I over-packed -- we quite possibly could have hit the Atlantic before we ran out of books & cd's.

But these were our favorites:
Calculator Riddles by Adler (remember to bring the calculators!)
Dot to Dot Over 200 by Buki
Animal Doodles (activity cards) by Watt
Carschooling by Keith
Miles of Smiles by Meyers
Mad Libs (of course!!)
Geronimo Stilton (on cd)
anything by Jim Weiss (on cd)
Green Eggs and Ham by Seuss, read by David Hyde Pierce, for one (on cd) - we love this one!

And no road trip is complete without Ellis Paul's Road Trip song.

Here's to family adventures!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mix It Up Multiplication

Math can be lots of fun.  The mathy mamas who lead our math club have proven that for three years now.  (Thank you, thank you, thank you.)

Math can also be, at times... well, kind of boring.  Like when you're memorizing the multiplication table.

So, we like to mix it up when we can.  Here are a couple simple ideas we've enjoyed...

index card & old magazine

advent calendar goes all multiplication

practicing with a morning SURPRISE
(dry-erase crayons I discovered one day while shopping & snuck into the cart) 
It's good to keep a few tricks up my sleeve.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rock the Vote

Sooooo, if my computer hadn't been out of commission yesterday, I would have posted this reminder to VOTE.  Too late for this go-round, but a cute reminder for November, right?  (You can't see Linus's "I Voted" sticker because it's in the middle of his belly, of course.  I LOVE that toddlers always put their stickers there, don't you?)

Walking over to the polling place has become a fun family tradition, and yesterday it was truly the highlight of my day.