Neighborhood Nature Walk

When the kids have abundant energy, and the weather is unusally dry, it’s time to bundle up and walk to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  The kids brought a basket to collect items for the nature table on their way. We’ve been reading books about Thanksgiving, but also about late-autumn as we prepare to shift into the winter holiday.  The kids were anxious to add items to the nature table while it is still decorated for autumn.  (At the end of the month,  the table shifts over to Advent and Winter decor.) George had more fun jumping in the leaves than collecting

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Play Kits to go

Joining Nicole’s KCCO this week with a project I finished before the holidays, but am just now getting around to photographing. The toy baskets were getting out of control.  One of the children would be rummaging through, looking for all the pieces of a playset, and end up dumping over the whole basket in frustration just to find a missing piece. Christmas was coming, and I knew something had to change before the chaos in the living room got worse. My solution:  just before Thanksgiving, I retrieved a  little coat rack from basement storage.  A dear family friend had made

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Stockmar afternoon

Late afternoon -that time in the hour before dinner, the hour before Daddy gets home – is so often a strain on family harmony.  We’re all hungry, low on energy, short on tempers.  I struggle to find ways to keep the children occupied, finish dinner, and keep squabbling to a minimum. (I remember Grace relating a similar frustration at that time of day, and feeling relieved that I wasn’t the only mom on the verge of pulling her hair out and yelling at the the top of her lungs come 4:30 or 5.) When the children aren’t out playing with

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Tuesdays are for PJs

During the school-year, Tuesdays at our little farmlet are PJ days.  It is a day of the week in which we do not have garden volunteers here, or any scheduled lessons or activities outside the home. (Our budgie, Mr. Chirples, snuggling with Ruth.) We all look forward to PJ days.  In the morning, we can make a big, hot breakfast, catch up on lessons, read loads of books, and play games.  (Here, Bea is playing with the “Math Generator” multiplication tool.)  Sometimes we watch a documentary or listen to a book on CD in the afternoon, or work on a

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Nature Play and a Lunch Recipe

The past two mornings, the kids and I have worked on harvesting the end-of-summer lavender, which we will use for winter craft projects.  (More on that next time). The lavender plants are all in the front yard, which is unfenced, and we are along a bus line.  Keeping a busy toddler safe and occupied while we work on front yard projects is a must. George was kept very happy by his big sisters, who were dead-heading dahlias for me, and bringing him the spent blossoms to play with.   He had such a grand time shredding the flowers, flinging petals in

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For a long time now, our oldest has been interested in the art of massage.  She has made a study of the subject, reading everything she can find on types of massage, anatomy and physiology, physical therapy, and stress relief. Ruth is an intense, and typically high-stress individual (she has been since infancy), and I think she naturally gravitated toward the topic because she herself needs a lot of help with the tension and anxiety of every day living.  This has also made her a very empathetic person in this regard, and frequently asks family members who seem stressed, tired,

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Falling into a Rhythm

Now that we’ve started our homeschooling year, we have again begun our Thursday ritual of serving afternoon tea and snacks in the breakfast nook. Sometimes I bake something fancy, like a linzer torte, or banana whoopie pies or gingerbread with whipped cream, but this time, since we’re just getting back in the swing of things, I kept it simple.  Bea made graham cracker and Nutella sandwiches, and we put out tangerines and a bowl of tamari almonds and called it good. We’ve been doing this since Ruth was  preschooler, and the kids really enjoy the ritual.  We pretend like we’re

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15 minutes

“This day is not a sieve, losing time. With each passing minute, each passing year, there’s this deepening awareness that I am filling, gaining time. We stand on the brink of eternity.” ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Nothing To Do

The children are really enjoying this book.  It’s those days where we have “nothing to do” that the kids engage in deep, meaningful learning on their own terms. This week we’ve been playing a lot of card games (Bea’s favorite), which reinforce cooperation, strategy, addition, subtraction, memory recall for the girls, and help Hal ( age 3 1/2)  with number recognition. Our friend Dr. Ellie gave the children this paper punch-out book, and Hal has particularly been enjoying the city play mat in it.  It has been really neat to see him maturing in his play, and listening to the

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A bit of comfort

When you’re having a bad afternoon (the watercolors and brushes fall off the shelf onto your head, you have a fight with your sister, you mess up the eyelashes on an otherwise gorgeous portrait you’re painting, your brother whacks you with a toy), nothing gives comfort like snuggling with a sweet little chick. (That’s Cookie, the Buff Orpington, btw)

Early May Garden Update

Happenings in the garden this week so far:  Mustard greens, lettuce and kale are all getting big!  (Red Russian Kale in the foreground, with Mizuna mustard behind.) A volunteer and I got 20 tomatoes planted this afternoon – half in front, half in the back.  (I have room for another dozen or so, but am out of cages and will have to jury-rig some bamboo supports – the cages were donated, and I’m trying do as much free and homemade as possible.) I got 7 De Milpa tomatillos (they have beautiful purple fruit) in the ground, and am trying to

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The past month has been an opportunity to re-evaluate what we value as a family – to really examine what we strive to be and to accomplish.  Although unintentional, the blogging break these past several weeks has been very therapeutic for our whole family.  (Actually, it was a break from all computer-related activities). I realized how much time was being spent every week blogging, and reading other beautiful, but consuming, blogs.  I realized how much more time I spent reading, knitting, sewing, being still and quiet when I tuned out technology.  My stress level went down, and we were all

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The joy of a nursing toddler

Oregon is a wonderful place to be nursing a toddler!  Tum Tum is nearly 18 months old, and I am very grateful to live in a place where doing what is normal and healthy is culturally accepted as normal and healthy.   Granted, this being my third nursling, nursing past the WHO minimum recommendation of 2 years – and comfortably nursing an older baby in public – is an accepted reality for our family. The other week, we were out at the library, Tum Tum was tired, cranky, and it was naptime, so I sat down to nurse him while

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Feels like Autumn

The wind and rain have settled in, and the nights are getting pretty chilly.  It is finally feeling like fall, so this morning the girls and I did some dusting,  got out a few fall decorations, and put the autumn cover on the duvet.  I hope to get the window hangings and more decorations out by the end of the week. Many of these items would normally go on the nature table. We are still figuring out how best to have a nature table with a toddler in the house.  He puts everything in his mouth, and loves to “deconstruct”

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Family Bed and Cloth Diapering

Some friends recently asked how we share sleep with our youngest while he’s in cloth diapers.  Overnight leaks are a worry, even with doublers and the “good covers” saved for night time.  To safeguard the mattress, we don’t use expensive wool mattress pads (which sound fabulous, but are way out of the budget) or those awful rubberized crib pads that don’t breathe a bit. Our simple solution is to use some thrifted wool blankets that I ran through the wash a few times in order to felt them up nice and thick (from twin size down to about 3 x

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Healing Touch

Little Hen found this book at the library two weeks ago.  The topic is one that has interested her for a long time, and she read the book , cover to cover, as soon as we got it home. The basic massage routine takes 5-10 minutes, but there are several techniques described in the book, and massage for different purposes.  The book runs the gamut from massage to relieve anxiety/stress all the way to reflexology for hay fever. (Although we don’t ascribe to the philosophies of reflexology or acupressure, Little Hen has been fascinated with the topics, and studies the

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Onion Biscuit Recipe

Here’s my mother’s super simple recipe for onion biscuits.  They go perfectly with roast chicken, or a bean soup, and the girls love to help make (and eat) them -  a great way to occupy the children with something purposeful while I’m trying to get dinner ready. You’ll need: 2 tubes of biscuits, 1 stick of butter, and 2 packets onion soup mix. Cut the biscuits into quarters (yes, an almost 5 year-old can use a knife safely – we practice “fingers BACK”  and I supervise closely.) Add the onion soup mix to a large bowl. Melt the butter and

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We were recently, unexpectedly, blessed to be able to trade a family friend some homemade jam and brownies for a Kelty his son had outgrown.  Best barter we’ve ever made, if you ask me! I love my Ergo and use it daily, but the Kelty is a much better fit for my husband.  We’ve been on two good hikes in the past week or so, and both he and Tum Tum have been quite comfortable. More on our hikes tomorrow with Friday Nature Table sharing.


(Pictures by Hubby.)  Another birthday gift from my parents – a comfy Ergo to carry my big boy around in (he was just getting too heavy to tote around in the sling for long). The carrier was purchased at Milagros Boutique in Northeast Portland.  So far, I am finding is very comfortable, and Tum Tum thinks he’s big stuff riding on my back.  It’s going to take a little practice to get accustomed to flipping him safely up onto my back, but I am already very glad to have my new Ergo – thanks Mom and Dad!!

Helping Hands

I keep finding these tucked in places around the house.  Little Hen’s Daisy Girl Scout Troop has been asked to do various tasks and things that “need to be done around the house” without being told, or asked, to contribute.  She was only supposed to do the project for a week, but she’s continued it, reusing her cards over and over. I have come into the bathroom to find the counter and sink washed down, or entered the girls room to find a bed made without a reminder.  Here,  I came into the kitchen and found that a fresh table

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A lesson in germs

We are all sick with a cold and sore throat, spending most of yesterday and today resting on the sofa, listening to this peaceful music and reading together. Coincidentally, this month’s Spider and Click are all about germs and being sick.   We’ve been reading all about bacteria, allergens, playing doctor, and of course the ever fascinating “magnificent mucus” (the girls keep snickering about the phrase “snot rocket” in the article about sneezing). I thought this might be a good opportunity to reinforce good handwashing technique.  A long while back, I had read of this lesson in on of our kid magazines, and Little Hen wanted to try it out. 

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Fruit of the Spirit

First – Ninny Noodle Noo is having a giveaway for 3 Ostheimer chickens. Check it out here!! About a year ago, I read on a gentle Christian mothering blog (can’t remember whose), about a wonderful parenting tool.  She and her daughter learned the verse: Galatians 5:22-23 (English Standard Version)   But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. When her daughter had a difficult time with her behavior, her mama would ask her which fruit she might be needing “a bite of”, and they would pray and ask

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