Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017: Nourish

Alongside the hustle and bustle of every day life, I will carry a word: nourish.
When I sit down with my calendar, I will consider this word: nourish.
Do more of what nourishes us, and do less of what does not.

Some of what has nourished me this week ( "2017 Pilot Project"):
A few much needed repairs,
little details that matter,
honing in on rabbit care that creates calm & peace,
noodling around with the sewing machine
& finally getting to some upcycling projects

Do you keep a word close to your heart throughout the year?  I'd love for you to share it in the comments.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Game Spotlight: Dragonwood

Dragonwood by Gamewright

Hey!  Our friends shared this game with us recently, and we loved it so much that it showed up under our Christmas tree!

Meets our family game criteria: 
Fun (obviously)
Easy to learn
Game stays fun for the entire length of play
Excellent for non-readerss
Good for 2 players as well as for more

Bonus gems:
Good for early math learners
Reminds me of Castle Panic (though this is not a cooperative game)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Put away your books &
have a MONSTROUS night!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thunder Cake

This morning, Linus was afraid of thunder.
Tonight, he is not.

He didn't have to go up against Nellie Peck Hen or old Kick Cow, but he did go out to the garage for butter and tomatoes, and brave the hand mixer and food processor.  He learned to separate eggs, beat the whites into stiff peaks, fold them in, and operate the hand mixer all by himself.

He is brave.  He is skilled.  He has chocolate crumbs all around his smiling mouth.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Beautiful Day Out

Our recent artsy week -- talking about famous artists, watching a few movies about their lives, getting our hands messy -- reminded me to check in on current exhibits at local and local-enough museums.  When Sela saw the we could see a painting by Raphael, she was dazzled.  Inspiration had struck at just the right time...

One of the joys of homeschooling is the freedom to pack up snacks and escape for the day without a lot of planning.  So, we popped over to San Francisco to catch "Portrait of a Lady With a Unicorn" by Raphael in its final week at the Legion of Honor Museum of Fine Arts.

What a view outside the museum!

The "bonus" exhibit, in this case, was a collection done by Pierre Bonnard.

And in the permanent collection, (wow) we saw works by these guys:
Van ault

Puzzle souvenirs from museums are my FAVORITE.
We saw this work by Pierre Bonnard.
best of all-
this was my tour group <3

Monday, April 18, 2016

No-Fuss National Poetry Month

A quick walk-by grab at the library

An acrostic poem scrawled on scrap paper 
to bring kids into an exhibit titled "Bloom 2"

An add-in to last's week geography class (North America) --
Poetry Tea Time with a Twist (minus the tea, plus the avocado milkshakes)

Inexpensive recent gifts

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Game Spotlight: Solitaire Chess by Thinkfun

We started with Attila (by Blue Orange). Clever little game where all of the pieces move like knights in chess.  What a nice entrèe for those who don't know how to play chess!

We just picked up Solitaire Chess (by Thinkfun), and both kids are really enjoying the challenges and learning some chess basics at the same time.  Me, too!  Also making it a great family choice: it can be played alone.  Sometimes we get at a loose end here, with one child assigned a task and the other not...

Linus likes to make up his own boards -- a little more math and some letters thrown in to boot!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

It's For the Birds

A pair of mated bald eagles is raising two eaglets in the U.S. National Arboretum, and we can see it all via the live cams that have been set up!  Now THIS is reality television I can get into!

In our little arboretum (i.e. our backyard), we're busy with birds, too.  We've made our own bird seed blend by picking and choosing through the bulk bins at the feed store -- we went with thistle and black sunflowers to woo our goldfinches back.  The chickens love the black sunflowers, too, so that's a bonus!

The hummingbird feeder has been washed and refilled with a new formula.  I have given up on the homemade versions.  It gets syrupy in the feeder and mildews quickly.

And I'm daily trying to unravel the mystery of who is pecking the chicken eggs and for what reason (for the love of Pete!).

Friday, April 1, 2016

Art with the Masters -- And Some Famous Ones, Too

Last week we hit the pause button on our regularly scheduled activities and made room for something different.

We warmed up with this Paul Klee-inspired project.  Because: books and paints.

Dale Chihuly sparked our creative fires for this Bakit & Makit project we were gifted (those little plastic pellets you melt in the oven).  We may buy more -- it turned out to be a dazzlingly-fun project!

I have never made a more fun sculpture than this Giacometti project.  The materials are so fun and easy to work with, and I think the aged metal effect is stunning.

Henri Matisse -- we had to go with his cut-outs this time.  Mixing up our artist exploration with scissors and Mod Podge was a must.  They make lovely tealight globes (battery-operated).

And a well-deserved rest under A Starry Night.
We read that although many believe that Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on his back, he actually painted while standing.  Linus didn't care one bit.  Laying down and drawing under the table was definitely the way to go.  That's cool; why not?

We painted, sprinkled, melted, shaped, snipped, taped, bent, sculpted, cut, blew up, glued, drew, and worked from a new angle.  And -- found two museums with some pretty famous works that we're heading out to see.

time + materials = inspiration

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

When Help Is On The Way

I kinda layed an egg with my chicken project.  I forgot that my life isn't arranged as it used to be.  And what's more -- it hasn't been for some time.  Not quite sure how I did this.  These funny human brains.

Our chickens need a bigger coop.  And, hopefully, one that encourages them to roost inside it at night rather than the adjacent tree.  Wouldn't it be great to build my own?!  (Imagine me checking out books from the library, scribbling out plans with a friend, searching feverishly online for a just-right coop...)  I bought some plans, had wood delivered to my friend's house, marked the wood, and she did a fantastic job cutting it all.  And covering it when it rained.  Multiple times.  She delivered the wood to my house.  (The woman deserves a prize.)  She offered to help me build it.  But -- I suspected by this time -- I was in over my head.  I had already asked too much.

In olden times, I could have pulled off the steep learning curve for this project.  But, I made a tactical error: I forgot that I don't currently have those hours available to spearhead such projects.

But, not all was lost.  Not only did my dad offer to build it while he visited, he brought his tools! While my mom and I browsed the fabric store, he had my plan book at the hardward store.  When we got home the saw had been fired up and the sawhorses were set.  For three days he reworked the plans, and this is what we ended up with.  I just love it.

You might notice that there are a couple finishing details for me. (A roof.  The wire enclosure.  Locks.) -- but those were left because I can handle those.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag (Well, Sort Of)

As I made breakfast this morning, my mind wandered over the coming weeks and months -- what we need to do, what that means.  I realized I was using a family present that I had gifted us a few Christmases ago, and my thoughts settled on the mooncake molds under this year's Christmas tree.  Among other things, the new year brings another round of the geography co-op class I've been teaching.  We started in Europe and will be sliding over into Asia this week.  Those mooncake molds will be just the thing!

It got me thinking about how we create opportunities -- opportunities for learning, opportunities for experiences.  Homeschooling and parenting and learning and being who we are all become one and the same -- one big jumble.  Was I thinking about geography when I bought the mooncake molds?  No, not really.  I was remembering the day that Linus and I looked at a cake cookbook together at Costco and how he tried to get it for me for Mother's Day, but it wasn't there any more.  And how we looked it up online and found that the authors did some tutorials for cakes and cupcakes.  And when we had watched all of those I remembered that I wanted to make mooncakes for book club, so we looked up tutorials for making mooncakes.  And how he sat in my lap, so tiny and so engaged.  And so now we have mooncake molds.  The book club in question has long passed.  But I've made room for new opportunities.  I've created space for creating.
made for me by a friend-
another good reason to
hang on to CREATE

Last year I used the word "CREATE" as a way to focus.  I've learned how vital it is for me to have opportunities to be creative.  Sometimes book club fulfills that need -- I've loved learning to cook and bake new things.  Sometimes I need to learn a whole new set of skills (starting a blog was that at one time).  Sometimes I just need a project that doesn't require a lot of me, but lets me plink away at it, eventually resulting in a little something new and created-with-my-own-two-hands.

Other things needed creating, too.  Space for a growing second child.  Always content to come along for the ride, it was time to arrange things differently for him.  And I'd seen how much he himself enjoyed creating -- but he needed support in doing it his way, on projects he's drawn to.

Worked out great.  Through about June.  So, for 2016, I'm bringing it back!  And this year I'm one year wiser...

Crazy about these picnic placemats
with their little utensil pocket!

Linus made the teeny jammies & I made the less teeny jammies

Saturday, January 2, 2016

We Love Gingerbread Houses

Linus's creation
had an amazing
set of storylines
I think I never did post last year's gingerbread.  And, now that I think about it -- the year before.  Darn.  We love our annual gingerbread-making for the Waldorf Winter Faire, but it's such a busy time of the year, it's hard to get to that last step.  I'll start with 2015 (and see how many other years I can dig up). 

This year both kids went with kits.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.  It all depends on what's driving their vision at the time. 2015 was about buckets of candy.

This is one of our very favorite family traditions.  We keep threatening to do it during the year, too.  The possibilities really open up when one leaves December and snow...

Sela's bears warm their
paws at the fire
after a nice skate

I like to try something new every year.
Gingerbread in an igloo pan (I KNEW
I needed it).  I made it the day before the auction and titled it "Tonight's Dessert."
I really hope they cut into it that night and enjoyed it!

The trees are ice cream cones with icing, the wreath is a spearmint gumdrop cut into small pieces, the light strings are licorice wheels from World Market.  I have no idea what those little colored balls are called -- they are personally delivered by my Gingerbread Organizer Extraordinaire friend every year.  A light dusting of powdered sugar -- I mean, snow -- finishes it off.

I tried the "grease & sugar" method for this cake -- turned out great!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Board Game Challenge

We did it!  The challenge was to play 10 games 10 times each in a year.  We didn't officially register (our games weren't exactly the kind of games others were doing), but I loved the idea.  In some cases, the challenge helped us to get more solid on the rules -- very helpful!  In some cases, it pointed us in a direction when we needed focus.  But in every case, it provided us with a relaxing activity that we all enjoy.  

We learned new things, we worked together, and we made use of our bulging game shelves!

We've started with Fandooble this morning -- we should get another board going...

My Kids Had Their Own New Year's Eve Planned...

Wishing you a