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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Advent 2011

In this season, we add Advent readings, reflections and songs to our homeschool day.   Some way we are enjoying this season of anticipation: reflecting with an Advent prayer book from Ascension Presbyterian reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible celebrating with Family Hymns from Kortney at One Deep Drawer playing with some of our Nativity sets on the nature table creating an Advent wreath

Radical Homemakers

Things are crazy busy here at the moment, so I’ll just drop in to say that there’s an interview with me and some other ladies (including author Harriet Fasenfest) on the topic of Radical Homemakers in this month’s Metro Parent (you can read the article for free by following the link – we’re on page 22-23). Be back soon with some blogging about food justice, garden happenings, and a few recipes.

Preparing for the duck invasion

After a flurry of chicken-planning activity this winter/early spring, we have our long-dreamed for chicken flock (the three hens, plus three new Speckled Sussex chicks, and three more chicks on order (2 Australorps and a Buff Orpington)).  And the chicken run is mostly complete (needs a little gussying up, and a grape trellis up the side).  Now, moving on to the next project, the Baker boys have gone into intense-planning-mode for … DUCKS! The boys are a bit so-so on the chickens, but can’t wait for ducks!  We have room for 3 (and maybe sneak in a 4th?) next year,

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Library books this week

The girls are listening to Daddy read The Mousehunter at bedtime, but our daytime book selection reflects the unusually sunny, warm weather that has us all thinking of anything except the tail-end of winter. We just finished listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Which is why we’re starting an asparagus bed -  Little Hen was fascinated by the chapter on asparagus – as read by Barbara Kingsolver’s daughter), interspersed with a complementary collection of Appalachian music.  Indulging a totally separate branch of the girls’ current interests, we had worked our way through a stack of books on Norse mythology and ancient

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Morning reading

This photo pretty well sums up our morning literary activities of late. First thing this morning, we had to get a bit pot of chili blanco going on the stove, and batch of brownies in the oven, since it’s our turn to bring dinner to our homegroup.   While Firecracker helped measure out the spices and crush the garlic, Little Hen was in the living room, practicing some yoga with her Yoga Pretzels cards (she says “Warrior 1” is her favorite pose).  She does 3 or 4 cards each morning, when she remembers. After the brownies came out, we sat down

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An afternoon with Percy Jackson

A lovely, chilly December Saturday – the icy weather kept us in the house, delving once again into the world of Greek Mythology.    We made  mugs of hot mint tea, and listened to Daddy read from our current Percy Jackson book. It’s wonderful to share a passion with your children – there’s not much we love to do together more than read adventure stories and share the world of imagination. Wishing your family some time to slow down and connect this busy season.  Blessings.

Christmas tea

The dolls hosted a little Christmas tea party for their sparrow, cardinal and swan friends yesterday morning.   Pretend mint tea, fruitcake, gingerbread, and bird seed were served under the Christmas tree. The girls were inspired by my favorite childhood Christmas book – Tasha Tudor’s, A Doll’s Christmas.  If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It is out of print, but you may be able to find it at your local library.

Last-minute handmade gifts

The weather here has been  bitterly, bitterly cold (we are eagerly anticipating our annual Christmas trip to Florida next weekend!!).  The past few days, we’ve built a big fort out of chairs and blankets in the living room.  We’ve been spending our mornings snuggled under it, reading Christmas stories (like this collection of short stories, and this, and this). While Tum Tum naps in the afternoon, the girls and I have been finishing some last-minute Christmas gift sewing.   The children’s’ Great Aunt gave us some lovely blue toile, and I picked up some other fabric at the thrift store (including

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Making the most of our time

We are feeling a bit like hermits, cooped-up in the house for days and days – the little ones are still wrestling with sickness, and we had to miss church again this week.  Little Hen, still healthy, escaped to Grandma’s house for the weekend (a BIG thank-you to Grandma for inviting her up!). After homemade pecan-chocolate pie for breakfast (hey, we’re sick!), Daddy read to us from The Lightning Thief, which is turning out to be an excellent choice for Firecracker, who is captivated by Greek mythology. Another good thing is that I’ve been able to get quite a bit

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Safari Girls

We’re studying Africa off and on lately, primarily because the girls’ interest in the continent was sparked by their favorite musician’s recent work in Malawi.  I picked up this felt Africa playset at the thrift store on sale for a quarter, and it was a big hit.   Along with Dana’s music, we’ve been listening to some African music while the girls played with the felt set and throughout the week  – Acoustic Africa, Ladysmith’s Long Walk to Freedom, and the girls’ favorite Gift of the Tortoise. The girls decided they would take turns setting out pieces for the other

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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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Nature Table by Little Hen

Yesterday afternoon, while Firecracker played with her magnet dolls, and Tum Tum slept, and I was mopping the floors yet again, Little Hen was a very busy girl – running upstairs, to her room, getting into the kitchen cupboards, and heading back upstairs again, gleaning items from around the house to remake the nature table. Even though it has been warm and sunny, the nights have been chilly, and the air has that autumn crispness in the morning.    It is September, afterall, so Little Hen remade the table with a “summer into fall” theme.  Looks like she has a bit

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Math this week

Here’s a look at some of the mathematics we’ve been studying this week.  The girls LOVE the Sir Cumference series of books, and even though the math concepts are technically “above grade level” for them, the girls seem to have no problem understanding the material.  For example, Little Hen informed us that the slice of applesauce cake she had for dessert “makes an acute angle.” We’ve also pulled out a few board games from our enormous board game stash (mostly from thrift stores) that encourage children to think mathematically.  Despite the tedious sounding name, this Dino game is great for

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Books to buy, books to borrow

We made another trip to our favorite local bookstore, Powell’s.   It’s on the way home from church, and so very hard to pass it by without stopping in.  Every visit I am tempted to spend a ridiculous amount of money on crafting, cooking, and kids’ books.  And I could hide out in the Orange Room for hours and hours if my children didn’t keep dragging me back to the kid corner… In the end, I exercised some self-control, and left with only this hilarious kid’s book, which will be a gift for Firecracker’s birthday in October.  (But, I also

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Some reading, some thrifting

Today’s take-home from the library – I love it when a bunch of books I’ve ordered (and re-ordered!) all come in at once. Today’s take-home from the thrift store (right down the street from the library).  $1.50 of fabric (Maybe 3 yds total?).    The one on top is my favorite. Can’t wait to crack into both stacks. Don’t forget to check back – giveaway in just a few days!  Thanks!

Doll Journal

After a break of several weeks (during which time, she preferred to draw and paint large portraits and wildlife scenes) Little Hen has returned to drawing miniatures and creating mail for our Sparrow Post. We’ve decided to put the Sparrow Post box out in the garden in a few weeks when it starts to take shape, but since the yard is in such a state of transition, it hasn’t happened yet.  So instead, she leaves little sketches on the window sills, tucked into bookshelves, on the nature table – wherever a passing fairy-friend might find them. Here she is intently

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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.

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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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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We are reading this delightful little book, by Ursula Vernon.  What better to do on a sick day, than curl up on the sofa in your PJs and read a cute story about a little shrew and a fun little adventure that falls in his lap? We also spent a little time surfing the internet for information on real shrews.  Not quite so cute in real life, but still truly fascinating.  In case you’re interested, we learned a little here, and a lot here, and here. (Common Shrew.  Picture in the public domain)

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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Felted Tomten

We have continued to enjoy reading The Tomten the past week or so, and we were so inspired by Mamaroots’ little collection that we decided to make some ourselves.  The girls each have one, and have already scurried them away to their room before I could snap a picture. This little guy will be going to a certain big brother whose baby sister was born on Christmas Eve.  His mama sends the girls the best Waldorf goodies, so I figured her son might like a little Tomten for his winter nature table. The snow has all melted in Portland, and the children

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Snowbound Knitting

We are snuggled up in the house for yet another day.  Three cars have gotten stuck in the deep snow on our street, the weatherman says the driving is very dangerous, and another 2-5 inches of snow are expected tomorrow.  Right now, my husband is shovelling the walkway to ease his cabin fever.  We are grateful to not have to leave the house and drive anywhere.    The girls are in their room playing Susan and Lucy at Cair Paravel (we all finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia two nights ago, and the girls are caught up in it with their

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Firecracker’s Snow Day

Pictures from earlier in the week, when it was a little warmer and less blustery, and Firecracker thought she might like to go play out in the snow.  She quickly thought better of it, and came in to warm up on the sofa, looking at some Dr. Seuss books with her sister and enjoying the snow from the window.  We are currently pretty much snowed-in and the latest news is that our flight out to my folks’ tomorrow may be canceled as the snowstorm turns into an icestorm.  So, since I have some time on my hands, I think may have

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