Tuesday, July 31, 2012

outside: pedaling the lake

We woke up early this morning and headed out into the fog to a local lake to do some exploring.

Pedaling around the lake consumed the bulk of our time.  I'm not sure what it is about kids and pedal boats, but they sure love them.

Finn's legs were a bit too short to reach the pedals, so he sat in the middle of the boat and worked the rudder, which meant we wove this way and that all over the lake.

The lake was beautiful in the early morning mist.

The ducks were friendly and swam right near the boats.

until Elizabeth and Paulie chased them...

But mostly we just pedaled around enjoying the quiet, the still of the morning, feeling the mist on our faces and the sun rising on this last day of July.  And we breathed the outdoors.

If you have any outdoor adventures to share, please feel free to link up below.  I'll be sharing our outdoor adventures all week in this space to celebrate our virtual book club's reading of Last Child in the Woods.

Monday, July 30, 2012

outside: at Hanging Rock

We headed out early this morning to beat the heat on our way to one of our favorite local state parks. We first explored a den that we hadn't visited before, a den that once was a hiding place for the Tories' in the mid-1770s.

After the kids were satisfied with their exploration of the den, we took a brief peek at the nearby waterfall, then headed over to our usual play area.

I think this might have been Finn's first time climbing the waterfalls.  He is just now getting tall enough to manage some of the smaller climbs.  Of course it didn't take long for him to stumble on the slippery moss and nearly roll off some of the rocks, so he spent the remainder of our time in the rocky creek bottom.

Nearly every time we visit this waterfall area, after the perfunctory complaints about the chilly water and numb toes, the kids immediately choose leaves to organize a leaf race.

Today was no exception.

You never know which leaf might beach itself on a rock and which one might travel all the way down to the creek bottom.

Scampering over the slippery rocks, checking out the nooks and crannies, finding an interesting bit of moss or fungi...our typical exploration in this cool and green retreat on the side of the mountain.

Eventually, the boys realized that they could mostly halt the flow of water at one of the highest flow spots on the waterfall with a well-placed derriere between two rocks.

They could startle someone walking by.

Bouncing up and down would create rushes of water that knocked rocks off the ledge.

This game continued for nearly an hour.  Handheld gaming devices have nothing on this kind of fun!

Finn found a lone leaf that he liked and continually sent it downstream, then darted down to retrieve it before it disappeared forever.

Eventually, he found another and proclaimed them twins. He, of course, stuffed them into my backpack so we could bring them home to rest on the nature table.

Eventually, the kids tired of the waterfall frolicking and flopped down onto the nearby rocks to dry.  I amused myself with a few nature photos, and we hiked back out to the picnic spot.  A pretty good way to enjoy the outdoors, I think.

If you have any outdoor adventures to share, please feel free to link up below.  I'll be sharing our outdoor adventures all week in this space to celebrate our virtual book club's reading of Last Child in the Woods.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


The virtual book club that I help moderate on Facebook is currently discussing Last Child in the Woods.  I remember first reading this book about 4 years ago when my oldest kids were getting ready to attend their first year of sleep-away camp in a very nature-centered environment.  The book really spoke to me in a myriad of ways, and I'm so happy to be revisiting the lessons I learned.  If you would like to join our discussion, please do.

In the meantime, to celebrate the spirit of Last Child in the Woods, I'm going to attempt to post some photos every day this week of our family enjoying the great outdoors.  If you choose to join in, for any part of the week, I'll post a link list at the bottom of my post each day this week. Now get outside (early in the morning if you need to beat the heat), breathe in the fresh air, and pay attention to something in nature that you might not have noticed before. :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

{this moment} - cooperative play

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no a few words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

This is the water filtration system from Recycling Science.  Funny enough, they are filtering muddy water to give to the houseplants.  Our houseplants only get the purest water. ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yarn Along

This week's Yarn Along is a new project that I've just begun, another Christmas project. (Last week's secret knitting is complete and can be viewed over on Ravelry.) This knit is for Finn though so it doesn't have to be such a secret. I'm working on a Christmas sweater for him in the Sherwood pattern.  It's such a lovely Irish-looking pattern with lovely cables and emerald green color!

My reading for this week is a Kindle book.  Elizabeth and I read together in the evenings on the weeks that Paul and Philip are with their mom.  She and I have been picking out classics to read for free or very cheap on Kindle, and currently we are reading Betsy-Tacy together.  She first stumbled upon the Betsy-Tacy books through the Mother Daughter Book Club series.  That series is a relatively typical tween series, but it has an added bonus of heavily discussing a classic during each book.  Elizabeth has really been itching to read many of these classics since starting the Mother Daughter Book Club series.  Prior to Betsy-Tacy, we read Daddy Long Legs and Anne of Green Gables which are in the MDBC series, although we read Anne before Elizabeth heard about her in the MDBC books. Little Women is next on our list.  Betsy Tacy is such a sweet book, and I look forward to reading more in that series.  They were first published in the 1940s and truly have that innocence about them that you would expect from a book of that era.

Monday, July 23, 2012

garden update

The garden is plugging right along this week.  The butternut squash is my favorite thing to check on right now.  They are getting so long and orangish-brown.  I'm not exactly sure when to harvest them, or the acorn squash, but I'm guessing that they are almost ready.  The two picture below are the ripest and there are several more in varying degrees of ripeness hidden in the leaves.

The garden peas are growing nicely again.  They are enjoying the rain we've had over the last week.  I hope they'll start producing again by mid-to-late August if we can keep the aphids away.

I pulled up most of the squash this weekend since their production slowed dramatically over the last 2 weeks and they were taking up the entire bed.  The cucumbers look like a bedraggled mess without the squash plants covering them.  There are 8-10 baby cukes still in that tangle of leaves and stems so they might still produce for a while.

The tomatoes don't look any better, still laying sideways.  They are producing as well as ever so I keep picking almost daily.  I'll pull them up as soon as I can to make room for the fall garden.

The lone zucchini plant that's left still have several blooms so I might get another zuke or two from him.  The beets can finally see the light now that I've moved the zucchini plant off of them, but only 2-3 of them really seem to be growing well.  I'll probably plant them again in the fall garden.  Those poor beets have had it rough this summer!

The cilantro is slowing growing larger.  I hope by mid-August to get enough to can a decent amount of tomato salsa for the winter with the last of the tomatoes.  I replanted basil this weekend as well.  I've made enough pesto for the winter, I think, but I did want some dried basil to use over the winter as well.

How is your garden growing?

Friday, July 20, 2012

{this moment} - early morning game

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. See Soulemama to play along.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

visiting Ancient Greece

Now that we're home for a few weeks this summer, we decided to spend some time visiting Ancient Greece!  I found a few books at our local used book store and the library and bought one textbook (that I intended to use when I planned to homeschool Elizabeth this year).  In addition to spending some time every day reading aloud Ancient Greece: An Interactive History Adventure (my kids love those choose-your-own-adventure books), we've also been working on some interesting projects.  We've kept the flow flexible and the activities fun because I really want the kids to enjoy what they are learning.

The first project that we made together were some vases, pitchers, and bowls modeled after the ancient Greek ones that we saw in a few of our books.

We used sculpey so that we could bake our projects and they would harden into sturdy vessels.

When the projects were finished baking, the kids decided to paint them with tempura paints.  The colors weren't exactly in keeping with the ancient Greek models, but they sure are beautiful! The vessels belong to (from the left) Finn, Philip, Elizabeth, and Paul.

We also have spent several hours, together and individually, reading Greek mythology.  I found it funny that when I sent the kids to put on togas, they immediately started acting out a myth.  Paul is Zeus, and he's being bowed to by Aphrodite, Poseidon, and Dionysus.

Actually, the togas were for our Greek symposium.  Earlier in the day we read about Greek life and culture and discussed foods that ancient Greeks would eat.  We gathered some finger foods and had a symposium for our noon meal.

We also had a vessel of wine (or cranberry grape kombucha as the case may be).

Each of the children took turns entertaining us while we ate.  Finn chose to play the "lyre".

The older kids each picked out a poem from one of our children's poetry books.

Another project that the older kids worked on together this week was writing their own Greek myth.  They collaborated for the better part of 3 hours stretched over half a day and created Denias and the Lion.
After Heracles left the Nemean Lion, the people of the village found that the lion had a child.  They immediately sent for help. Knowing Heracles was off doing other tasks, the villagers called for the second best person, Denias.

When Denias got the message, he set out immediately for the village.  He soon came to the Canyon of the Two Cyclopses. Then Denias realized that to reach the village, he must cross the canyon! Denias threw a rope across the canyon, hooking it onto a rock that was half-buried in the ground. After a few moments of hesitation, he climbed across the rope, the cyclopses snapping at his feet.

After crossing the canyon, he saw the Boiling Sea in the distance. The Denias realized that he had to cross the sea as well.  As he neared the Boiling Sea, he thought that he might persuade Poseidon to lend him a boil-proof boat.  And Poseidon agreed.

When Denias finally got to the village, he asked for a helper to defeat the lion. A man named Daedalus offered to help build some wings to attack the beast from the sky.  After the wings were built, Denias made a plan to fly up into the sky, soar down toward the lion, and crush him.  But the plan did not go as they wanted.  As Denias flew down toward the lion, the lion jumped backward.  Denias slammed into the ground, forming a big pit. Denias flew out, disoriented and half-conscious, just as the lion fell into the pit. Daedalus quickly covered the hole with rocks, dirt, and other strong materials.
Now the lion is still underground, throwing himself against the roof of his cave, trying to get out. His movements cause the earthquakes that we experience today.
We also enjoyed a meal of Greek food one evening, having some familiar, hummus with veggies and flatbread, and some less familiar, tabbouleh and Greek butter cookies.  We will continue this study for at least another week or two as we still have so many projects left that I think the kids will enjoy.  I'll be sure to update you later!