Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gardening in November?!

I've got a definite theme going with some of the books I've been reading lately. The list includes The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollen; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver; The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen; and the best one of all, This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow. I know I'm too busy to do a big garden next summer, but I want to rededicate myself to my existing vegetable garden which has languished the past 3 summers because of our demanding schedules. I would like to try to produce more of our food. Not just a few dinners or side dishes here or there, but really try to make the most out of my garden space. Since I've had such limited time for the garden, the first thing on my agenda is to amend and enhance the soil. What I did today is to layer newspaper over my garden and covered it all up with crunched up leaves. It is a beautiful fall day today, the sun is shining and the temperature is very mild! It felt so nice to go outside and get my muscles moving and blood pumping. Of course I have pictures!

Above you see my main vegetable garden. We had to fence it in to keep out rabbits and other critters that roam our neighborhood.

Along our fence I have a mix of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. This is much more like a cottage garden and I enjoy the way it looks much more so than the fenced portion.

We have been trying to buy locally produced foods as much as possible for the last 2 years. My milkman lives on a hobby farm and raises chickens that we buy each summer. They are field raised and humanely butchered and they taste wonderful! He is offering grass fed lamb right now, so I have ordered a whole lamb that is at the butcher. I have a good store of chickens and, soon, lamb meat in my freezer pantry! It just feels right that our food is seasonal and local. Of course we're not perfect and we also have a budget to consider, but I believe that anything I do to reduce our dependence on industrial agriculture helps our health and our planet.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs

This week, you guessed it, is going to be about having a thankful heart! Yes, of course, we should always be thankful for everything we’re blessed with, but it’s not too often we actually sit and ponder what. This week please join me in writing 27 things you’re thankful (There’s got to be at least 27things!). I picked 27 because this year Thanksgiving is on the 27th of November.
Also, share a Scripture verse for this week!

27? Easy! Here they are as they came to mind (no particular order!)
1. Douglas, my husband and the love of my life! 2. AN and MB, my daughter and her boyfriend 3. AD, my son 4. AH, my son 5. my home 6. my faith 7. my wonderful mattress! 8. the opportunity to stay home 9. books! 10. our fireplace 11. family close by 12. my new dryer 13. music 14. friends 15. the blog, Blogwyn, and my enduring friendship with that blogger who I have known since college and was my maid of honor!! 16. our community 17. my garden and yard 18. a good glass of wine! 19. that my mom and dad are still here and close by 20. to be homeschooling 21. my computer and 22. the internet, so that as a home-schooler I don't feel so isolated! 23. My local home school group 24. the blog, By Sun and Candlelight, for the inspiration and positive energy 25. my family's health 26. the ability to laugh 27. that my country doesn't have civil war or genocide happening within our borders 28. that my husbands firm is full of people of different faiths, colors, nationalities and that we all love each other!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Perks of Homeschooling

Today is a brisk winter day here in the north. Here is one perk AH and I enjoy to the fullest during the winter months.

Gotta love this independent reading time!

Solvay is making sure AH counts his spaces correctly while we play Fast Track (a homemade math game)!

Boom Site

Yesterday AH and I prepared to host our Cub Scout den meeting. We were to meet our den at the Boom Site on the St. Croix river and do some hiking, garbage collecting, tree ID-ing and trail mix munching while we were there. This is a popular place to hang out near the water but I hadn't been there for nearly 10 years, so I was looking forward to it! AH and I planned the activities and snacks. We stopped by our co-op and bought trail mix and Vruit (AH's very, very favorite juice!) for snacks and ducked into the bookstore next door for a Minnesota Tree Guide to help us ID those trees (without leaves I need help!!!) Well, unfortunately, our den never showed, so I lead a disappointed AH on the hike. It was great fun exploring a cave, finding a wonderful fire pit, throwing rocks onto the ice and water. We didn't stay as long as we would have with our den, but you know me, I had my trusty camera and I took some pictures.

AH found a cave to explore and, of course, a stick to carry!

Walking along the beach (with the aforementioned stick!)

Birds heading for warmer weather (or are they just escaping from Wisconsin to Minnesota?!)

A rocky area of the shoreline. Yes, that is Wisconsin across the river!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY, Monday, November 24th, 2008...

Outside my window...
I see our dog, Solvay, playing with a paper bag she somehow snuck outside
I am thinking...
that I really CAN be handy if I try hard enough!
I am thankful for...
my husband who loves me more than I deserve!
From the learning rooms...
Viking weapons, helmets and music!
From the kitchen...
I'm hoping to make banana bread today.
I am wearing...
a Mickey Mouse hoodie and my favorite jeans.
I am creating...
an agenda for our den meeting this afternoon
I am going...
to run errands this afternoon before our den meeting
I am reading...
This Organic Life:
Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader
I am hoping...
my brother in law feels better!
I am hearing...
Junkyard Wars on TV and my new dryer humming away.
Around the house...
everywhere I look there are dropped suitcases, backpacks, coats and toys from our long weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's house!
One of my favorite things...
is a day with nowhere to go!!! (it happens so rarely!!!)
A few plans for the rest of the week:
boy scouts, baking, cooking Thanksgiving dinner and avoiding malls!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

AH working clay to make a Viking runestone.

Thank you, Peggy, for this wonderful idea!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My heart is happy to be back at home after a long, but fun, weekend with my in-laws. I'm relishing the thought of my comfy bed and pillows that are waiting for me this minute! But the pull of another post has me here in front of the computer tonight. We have in our extended family two who are suffering with painful illnesses. It tears me apart to see them suffer. I am thankful, though, that love and compassion are shining so brightly within our family. I am seeing brother help brother. A sister take control when she had to. A devoted husband caring for his wife. And I saw my own children come to the aid of their uncles and grandmother and aunt to help, each in differing, but compassionate ways this past weekend. It is in these instances that we realize that our children are caring, loving people (despite their inability to clean their rooms in a timely manner!). It also reminds us of what is really important in this life. It is always good when one can glean hope and love in times of worry and pain.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cousin Capers

We are lucky to have a cousin, CA, visiting us from Texas. He and his mom are up to celebrate an early Thanksgiving this weekend with my husband's family. She has been spending quality time with her mom and dad, my in-laws, while we've had CA to ourselves since Sunday. AH and CA are close in age and they have been playing more than they have ever played in their lives! They certainly have managed to wear me out. We spent Monday at the Mall of America exploring Underwater Adventures , building with legos at Lego and riding some rides at Nickelodeon Universe. Here are some pictures I managed to take:

A Stingray decides to take a closer look at the boys.

The boys built cars and raced them on the race track!

On a ride!

Today we spent most of the day at the Science Museum. I was upset with myself that I had forgotten to take my camera with me this morning, so I have no pictures of this afternoon! Anyway, the Science Museum has an exhibit there right now called CSI:The Experience that we found fascinating! We showed up at our appointed time and were handed a clip board with a colored worksheet and pencil. Next, we were ushered into the exhibit with a small group of people and told we were going to examine a crime scene and use forensic science to figure out what happened. There were 3 crime scenes and we were to solve the one that matched the sheet we were given. CA, AH and I worked on Crime Scene #2. I think they gave us 4 or 5 minutes to take careful notes at the crime scene, then we had to go to different stations and answer the questions on our worksheet. At the end, we gave our results to a computer and then were told if we had solved the case correctly. AH, CA and I are proud to say we did solve the crime and are now rookie investigators! We ended up spending about 3 1/2 to 4 hours at the museum. Now I am desperately trying to catch up on my laundry! My new dryer was installed today so the obscene piles that threatened to take over the laundry room are now being systematically attacked! I'm not sure I'll be able to post until next week since we are headed to Grandma and Grandpa's house tomorrow to play and celebrate Thanksgiving a little early. Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs

This week I’d like to invite you to share what YOUR “Mom” help is. Some drink coffee, soda, or chia-tea. Others check email or read their favourite blogs. Some talk a walk…. what do you do when you need to clear your head and take a breather?

You mean some homeschool moms have only one crutch?????
I am addicted to coffee, coca-cola, my computer, my books! These are all my helps. But my absolute favorite activity to regain my sanity is a bubble bath, a book , candlelight, and 3 hours to myself.
The last time that happened was, oh, 1987!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

November 10, 2008
Outside my window...
the sun is making a rare November visit. It is sunny and clear!
I am thinking...
I have much too much on my schedule today!

I am thankful for...
being home with Austen today.
From the learning rooms...
a unit study on the vikings is underway!

From the kitchen...
will, hopefully, come some homemade Boboli crusts, pancakes to freeze for quick breakfasts, and banana bread, just for fun!

I am wearing...
a red v-neck sweater and jeans.

I am creating...
a frozen pantry full of homemade "fast food"

I am going...
to stay inside with Austen, who is suffering a sore throat.

I am reading...
Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

I am hoping...
Austen is better soon.

I am hearing...
the hum of my various machines working while I blog!

Around the house...
our guinea pigs are running around their cage, the cat is napping, and the dog is begging for food.

One of my favorite things...
is learning right along with Austen!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
A Cub Scout pack meeting, a high school baseball meeting, high school conferences, baking, visitors from Texas, along with our regular schedules.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Thank you to Peggy, for this lovely idea!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Let it Snow!

I awoke this morning to AH's voice announcing to his dad, "It's snowing out!" Of course I HAD to look, too. And, sure enough, the white stuff was coming down and accumulating on everything but the ground. It has been a beautiful fall and I'm ready for the snow to come!

We headed out into the snow to visit the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota today. We learned about the sport of falconry and got to tour the facility and see quite a few raptors. AH's favorite raptor is the Golden Eagle. I was intrigued with the beauty and grace of all these magnificent birds! I had no idea falconry was still practiced today.

Red Tailed Hawk

American Kestrel

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Halloween

What with election day and homeschooling, I've been remiss in posting about our little Halloween party. Of course, it wouldn't be Halloween without carving and pumpkin seeds! But this year was tough for us. This was the first year AH and I were the only ones carving. AD, our 17 year old, didn't join us for the first time ever. I think it was a little sad for AH, but he seemed to go with the flow. Our finished products:
Notice the bat? We got this idea from the recent issue of FamilyFun magazine.
Every Halloween we put the firepit in our front yard and welcome anyone and everyone to sit with us for a spell. Inside the house we have mulled cider, some kind of stew or soup, and munchies.

We play halloween themed music and give out candy and talk with our neighbors. Oct. 31st is my father's birthday, so my mom and dad join us later for a birthday celebration. This year our daughter, AN, and her significant other, MB and two of her high school friends joined us. MB's birthday is November 1st, so we had a double celebration. Here are the birthday boys:

Of course you can't have Halloween without costumes!
AH before he went trick or treating with a neighbor:
AD was off to a party in this costume:

It is interesting to note that my husband is a high school football ref. Hmmm, is this a dig at his dad?!

Thoughtful Friday

The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.

Thomas Moore

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs

This week I want to invite you to share what different games you use for learning in your homeschool. Outside games, board games, or card games, and what purpose or subject you use them for.

Games, huh? Who can live without them?!

Here are our favorites:
Sequence States and Capitals Game - Geography
Timez Attack - Math
Go to the Dump - Math card game
Corners - Math card game
A book we have used quite a lot is Games for Math by Peggy Kaye
Think Fun Rush Hour Safari- Logic

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our Election Day Party Pictures

As promised, here are some pictures of our election night dinner.
AH prepares his red/white and blue/white rolled cookies for the oven:

The finished product:

Our Red, White and Blue Sundaes:

Our coffee table downstairs:

Our Flag Pizza before cooking:

Election Day

What a great country we live in! I am such a geek when it comes to voting. I take my responsibility and my privilege to vote very, very seriously! My husband had an appointment this morning and came back (a 45 minute drive one way) after so that he could vote early today. AH and I joined him. AH has been fascinated by this election. He is ten, so this is probably the first presidential election that he has been able to really process the information (and non information!) that has been flying around. We've had some great family discussions about issues, people, candidates, and decision-making this past 6 months. It really does help when our (immediate) family agrees on a lot of the issues, but I'm so proud to say that they are respectful of differing opinions. AD, the 17 year old, is so bummed that he won't be voting for a president for 4 more years. But he told me last night that he can't wait until next November so that he can start being heard. I'm thrilled that my children have followed in our footsteps in that they appreciate the opportunity and responsibility of this process to elect our own leaders.

Anyway, AH accompanied me into the voting booth and had some great questions while I was filling in the ovals on my ballot: "What is the green party?" "Why don't we hear more from the other parties?" "Why is there only one name in this section?" "You can write in someones name?!" And there were plenty more questions. Each of my kids has come to vote with me at one time or another and that has helped them become interested in the process and, hopefully, made them into proud, American voting geeks as well!

Speaking of being a geek, tonight we will be eating in front of the television tonight, watching the results come in. On the menu, lots of little tidbits: A flag shaped pizza; popcorn; red and blue corn chips and salsa; and red, white and blue cookies. I'll post some pictures tonight so you can all see how geeky I can be!