Lilac Gardens

Pictures from our trip to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, WA this past weekend with my husband’s mother, sister, and our niece.   If you have never been, we highly recommend the trip – just a short drive North from Portland. I can hardly wait until next year, when our yard will be ready to accept plantings – at the festival, we picked out six or seven lilacs we have to put in along the side of the house – some fragrant, some extravagant, some old-fashioned and just lovely in aroma and blossom (my favorite is a variety called

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Playing and arranging

Someone‘s been playing with the PlayMobil set she got for Easter.   I think she enjoys arranging the toys as much as she loves playing with them.  Maybe for her, you cannot separate the two – order is something she values highly, something she enjoys.  Oftentimes, everything must be “just so” before she can settle into her imaginative play, and often it must be returned to its proper place at the end of the story.   Setting the stage is an essential part of the play, afterall, and there is joy to be had in the preparation.

Settling in

Life is crazy right now, but I am trying to enjoy the peaceful moments where I can find them.  We are in our new house, and have been fighting off a family-wide chest cold for the past week.  Everything is still a complete mess – half-unpacked boxes everywhere, still in the midst of painting the kitchen, nothing baby-proofed. I did manage to get a tablecloth on the dining table (I know, I’m a funny gal, but it always makes me feel more settled somehow).  When we’ve felt up for it, we’ve been neglecting unpacking completely – instead we’ve been spending

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Oh, sunshine!!

I should have been packing, but the weather was just too perfect. At least I was industrious – I spent the morning cutting the grass with my clean, quiet reel mower (with the baby in the Ergo), making posies with the girls, and washing diapers (yay for being able to dry the covers in the sunshine!!) Okay, back to packing.  Moving in a day and a half!

Tulip Festival

Since I am frantically trying to paint the new house  and pack at the old house this week, I’ll leave you with some pictures from last weekend’s trip to the to the Tulip Festival in Woodland, WA.  The tulips are a bit late this year, but the weather was near perfect, and we had a very nice time. (I won’t tell you the ridiculous amount I spent on my tulip, iris, crocus, allium, daffodil, hyacinth and muscari order, but I will be looking forward to their arrival in October!)

A Sparrow Post of our own

Recently, the girls and I checked out Tasha Tudor’s Dollhouse from the library, as well a film about her entitled Take Joy.   In Tasha’s world, her dolls wrote and received cards, letters, catalogs via Sparrow Post. Little Hen has been making miniature letters, cards, books for her doll, Princess Rooth.   (A little side note, she used to be “Ruth”, but since Little Hen is rapidly absorbing spelling rules, changing her beloved doll’s name “to Rooth from Ruth makes [her] smile when [she] thinks about it.” ) Just a few examples – A page from Princess Rooth’s nature journal (a

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The children and I chasing falling cherry blossoms in the yard, smelling the hyacinths – rejoicing in the beauty of spring and anticipating tomorrow’s Easter celebration. Wishing you a blessed Easter weekend as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, the hope of our salvation.

Stockmar Beeswax

We like our playdough around these parts, but we really really love our Stockmar Modelling Beeswax. After breakfast this morning, the girls sat quietly at the kitchen table and sculpted for quite a while (while Tum Tum crawled under the kitchen table and dumped over my onion basket, peeling several onions and blissfully crunching the skins in his fists). Woman with a Cabbage (and a cherry tree in the background) by Little Hen A Valiant Knight by Little Hen (with a little help from her daddy) A friend gave us the original set, but I have found individual replacement sticks

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Pause for a Cup of Tea

Our weekly tea – 20 minutes peace on a rainy, dreary Northwest afternoon.

Toy Daydreaming

The Palumba catalog came today.  The girls and I poured over it, dreaming and wishing and talking over everything in its pages. The child-sized domestic items were a favorite – especially the clothespins and clothesline and the ironing set. Most days, Little Hen seems to be wrapped up in pretending to be Susan Pevensie, so she was quick to point out the bow and suction-cup arrow set. Firecracker was partial to the pirate chest and treasure set.  (Yes, she’s my naturist in the making – prefers to run around in just her undies whenever she can get away with it).

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Better watch your back

Tum Tum was sleeping on the sofa, and the girls were cutting pink paper snowflakes on the living room floor.  I was mopping in the kitchen, and when I finished and came back into the living room, my hulking baby boy had been transformed… …into a pink fairy prince in an enchanted sleep.   I think my boy is destined to spend many many hours of glittery, fairy-tale, tea party, dress-up adventures in the years to come.

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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My favorite vacation desination – the beautiful sandy beaches of Sanibel, FL.  The shelling is the best in the world, and the water is clear and warm.    We spent our time making a “beach fairy sand castle”, collecting sea shells, watching shorebirds.  The girls also went kite flying with their Grandpa.   Wishing you a day just as sun-filled and relaxing.

Cuisenaire Rods

Did you use Cuisenaire Rods for math when you were a child?  My mother found mine in a closet and gave them to us.  They are a wonderful tool for math.  Wonderful.  Little Hen wants to do a math lesson with them daily, and after her intense focus on the lesson, both she and Firecracker will play freely with them for quite a while before putting them away.  For those not familiar, these are beautifully colored wooden rods used to teach anything from simple addition to geometry to fractions, to patterns…you name the mathematical subject, and you can use Cuisenaire Rods as a natural learning

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I mentioned yesterday that we’ve been hit with a cold front (50 degrees in Florida??), so we’ve had to make ourselves busy with things besides the beach and swimming in the pool the past few days.  Little Hen asked if I’d make her a pouch/sleeping bag for her dolly.  I said sure, on the condition that she work the pedal (she has more control if she uses her hands instead of her feet).  We used some 50 cent fabric Little Hen had picked out at the thrift store (she always seems drawn to red), and some old shorts of my

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Prairie girls hit the beach

  This is why I love Southern Florida  – beautiful 80 degree days (in January!!) spent relaxing on the beach.  It was a windy day, but the sun was shining, and the girls were very busy searching for shells, splashing in the shallows, and building fairy castles in the sand.  Tum Tum really enjoyed himself, too.  After a brief attempt at eating the sand, he settled for just squishing his fingers and toes in it.   A pair of osprey kept circling overhead (their nest post was directly behind us), and he’d squeal with delight when they flew over. This weekend we’re driving

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Spice Hunters

This is our spice cabinet (Yes, it’s a bit of a mess.  Yes, the jams and jellies are taking over a bit.  Yes, it looks like I’m single handedly keeping the Clackamas Penzeys store in business.) This morning, I was feeding Tum Tum in the living room, when I heard some clunking, giggling, and whispering in the kitchen.  Of course, I’m now in the habit of grabbing my camera., so I was able to get some shots of the girls.  They were very busy, playing “Spice Hunters”.   Little Hen would reach up, grab a spice, open it, and she and Firecracker

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Some dear friends from college recently surprised the girls with Fairy-Opoly.  Could they have picked a more perfect gift for little girls who are a wee bit fairy-obsessed and love to play board games with their Daddy?  Super gift!!! The girls played all morning, only pausing occaisonally to ask me to clarify the rules.  They nicely took turns, rolling to see who goes first, and playing calmly and orderly (I could hardly believe it – no fussing over who gets the “daisy” game piece, or who goes first, or who gets to shuffle the deck.  Yay, girls!)  Little Hen got an

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We’re in love with OMSI!!

Last week, the girls took a chemistry class for primary-age homeschoolers at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  We came early, and spent much of our time in the Science Playground (a free-exploration area for those 5 and under.)  We haven’t had such a fun outing since our trip to Hood River.  The girls keep talking about what a great day it was. I couldn’t go into the chemistry class with them, since Tum Tum wouldn’t keep his safety goggles on (yup, even 5 month-olds have to wear safety goggles in the chemistry workshop!), so we chatted with the other

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A Pleasant Afternoon

Yesterday was an unusually dry, warm day in the Pacific Northwest.  We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather – almost 60 and a nice, blue sky.  After Hubby helped friends load their moving truck, he came home and spent the afternoon raking leaves in the backyard with the girls (As you can see, the leaves were everywhere – it was quite a task!). Little Hen kept taking breaks from the leaf raking to snack on some peas.  (Our Alaska, Tacoma, and Sugar Pod II varieties are still producing, and are miraculously healthy and free of powdery or downy mildew, despite the

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Traditional Toys IV – Handmade Dolls

Below are a few of our handmade dolls, including three we made a few days ago (I’ll post on that adventure in a day or two).  We didn’t make all of these, but they are all lovingly handmade, and somehow I think that children can tell when a toy is handmade – they can feel that love sewn or knitted into every stitch.   Their great aunt made the Raggedy Anns just like my mom made mine.  Very special, and very played-with.   The handmade doll has something special – she has quirks and imperfections that make her a unique little personality.     

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Traditional Toys III – Wooden Circus Blocks

These wooden circus blocks are my all-time best thrift store find.  We bought them when Little Hen was two and Firecracker was a newborn.  At the time, we were on a super tight budget, since Hubby was in grad school.  The set was $12, and I really wanted it for the girls, but we couldn’t rationalize the price.  I waited for weeks, hoping no one would snatch it up, and what do you know, it went on sale for $6!!  The blocks are all hand carved from various woods, and includes a bear and a cub, two camels, two alpaca, a donkey, an

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Traditional Toys II – Tea Set

  The girls love to play with their “fairy-sized” china tea set.  It’s a mish mash of pieces we’ve collected from thrift stores.  I don’t think we’ve spent more than $3 in total.   There are duplicates of some pieces, and we’re missing a few cups and sugar bowl lids, but the girls still enjoy serving tea to their little guests.   Some days they even make paper food (cut from magazines, or drawn on construction paper) to serve on the dishes, and fill the tea pots with water.  The girls love the feel of real china, and the proportions seem to

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Traditional Toys I – Paper Dolls

We place a lot of value in traditional, open-ended toys that foster imaginative play (Let’s just say I’m not a fan of most things Disney, plastic, made-in-China, battery-operated, etc).  I thought I’d take a few posts to highlight some of those toys that kindle my children’s creativity. (Sorry for the photo quality, the lighting wasn’t so hot, and I was trying to snap pictures while feeding the baby!) After spending their entire Monday morning and most of the sunny, gorgeous afternoon at the park, the girls spent two hours quietly playing on the living room floor with paper dolls that their aunt

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