Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas recital

 Yesterday, we gathered with several other homeschooling families to hear our children recite poetry and play various piano pieces which they have been working on this past fall. We had a wonderful time together, eating, talking and playing while a snowstorm blanketed our area.
I made chocolate lollipops for all the children and Seth helped me drill holes in two cedar logs to display them. I added various sprinkles and even crushed candy canes to some of the lollipops this time making them a bit more festive and crunchy.
In addition, I thawed some phyllo pastry to make two different kinds of finger food snacks:
Brie, granny smith apple, pecan, maple syrup, dusted with cinnamon
Boursin, mandarin orange, walnut, sprinkled with cumin

I also packaged up some edible treats and decorative ornaments for my mama friends who teach my children and provide meals on co-op days. Getting to mess around with pretty paper, decorations, tissue paper, ribbon and more is so satisfying in between taking care of laundry, lessons, kids, cats, and cooking. My heart is full of thankfulness for my fellow mamas who cheer each other on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

Monday, December 11, 2017

children and drinks

In case you wondered if our children were still around...
They are all here...every day.
All day.
And so sometimes, mommy has to take her medicine which is a special kind, called Coffee.
Kind of like Nyquil, it tastes mostly horrible, but it makes her feel much, much better.
She wishes she enjoyed taking her medicine, but she's a tea-drinker, steeped hot and dark and loaded with cream and honey.
She also sometimes drinks wine with her dinner. And a few sips while she makes dinner.
She likes red and white about the same.
She's not picky.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


If you've been reading my blog longer than a year, you may remember that our backyard conservation area all along the river underwent an extensive excavation as they worked on replacing and adding to underground pipes that travel for huge stretches all around our neighborhood. They put up orange construction fencing which prevented entry to the river at all points.
It was a sad twelve months.
But then in early fall, the fencing came down, and many days of adding topsoil, grading and smoothing the dirt began. The dirt was given time to rest. Then one day, a hydro-seed truck pulled in and sprayed the whole area an unnatural green. Weeks later, grass had sprung up unevenly.
We ventured out on baby grass and walked all the way to the weir and on a newly created walking path through the woods.
It was a good day.
But that was the last time I was out there. I don't know why exactly.
Today, I took the garbage outside myself and then slipped open the latch at the back gate and started walking toward the swimming geese. The clouds began to part and the sun began to shine. Crystals of snow glittered on the ground and on the tree branches. Baby trees offered their boughs to the mounds of snowflakes nesting where they fell. Other than the occasional squirrel dashing through the snow, the gaggle of river-riding geese were the only other creatures visible.
My camera hand was aching with cold. It was time to go in, for now.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

a bit bewildered

I cannot understand how it is possibly December right now. I'm somewhere back in September, and I can't seem to figure out how why everyone is talking about Advent and Christmas already.
Under duress, I made myself start jotting down Christmas gift ideas for our kids. It wasn't until I went out and did some shopping that it became very real. I now have gifts hidden in my house. We are playing Christmas music at home and in church. We are attending and participating in various Christmas recital programs. Tomorrow evening is our church's Christmas party.
Also I have less than a week until we celebrate Kate's tenth birthday.
My girl will be ten years old. Tissues please.

We finished Term 1 of Ambleside Online with an exam/review week, two weeks ago. And then all my well-meaning December term plans fell flat last week with a whole bunch of other stuff that needed to get done. So we see what this coming week will do for us.
I have been keeping up with some Advent readings from Malcolm Guite's Waiting on the Word which I ordered two years ago from the UK, but it is available now in North America from most booksellers. He makes me realize how poorly I read, especially poetry. But I enjoy his connections so much, and I hope that I can learn from his skillful observations.

We are planning to sell our house in the spring, so this is likely our last Christmas here. We have lived here ten years and our children really only know this home so please pardon me as I add a few photos to remember it as it is tonight.

It has been a good little house for us. It has taught me to think carefully how I use each space. Where we live next has not been decided. We are staying close to the same area, perhaps moving closer to my husband's work or maybe just moving a few miles away. We will have to see what's available come spring. Meanwhile we have been packing, painting, and purging. I am keeping lists for myself of what needs to be cleaned out so that I'm only packing things we actually need to keep. It's been very freeing,  but really I purge quite often so it's amazing how fast things creep back in that we do not need.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Portland, Day 3

With my husband ensconced on the sixth floor of our hotel for the day at the tech conference, I was out and about the city by myself for the day.
This Starbucks is across the square from our hotel and provides me with cold, caramelly, caffeinated drinks in the late afternoon when I am becoming a bedraggled sightseer with an exhausted camera battery. Today I was on foot only, although I have a pass to ride the public transportation for the week, all the places on my hit list were walkable.

 And my first destination, Powell's Books, of course. We had walked past it the previous evening on our way to Whole Foods to get some dinner for ourselves, so I knew the various entrances this gigantic building offers. I came in through the main entrance seen below, found the store directory and walked straight to the Rose Room, the wonderful Children's section. I browsed for a couple of hours, just in that section.

Because they sell both new and used, you get to see various editions of the same book that you might not normally see if you order either online or buy from a new bookstore. It was so inviting, like this small bookshelf dedicated to all things Tasha Tudor. The Beatrix Potter shelf is to the left of this one and even taller and more full.

The children's poetry shelves were amazing, so many vintage editions of poets and anthologies. I almost bought this one, I carried it around with me, but in the end, took a photo of the cover and put it mournfully back on the shelf. I hardly have space in my carry-on, so I need to be extra-choosy. But it's going on my wishlist.

 I took photos of books to remind myself to check for them later. These are new versions of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle that I want to look for, since we have read many of the original stories by Betty MacDonald.

This is just one row in the Middle Readers section. I restrained myself from not looking at every shelf. I was too afraid of all the treasures I would find that would not be able to be brought home. I looked for specific authors like Kate Seredy, Marguerite de Angeli, and Henri Fabre.

 I found wonderful titles I was unfamiliar with by authors or illustrators I already loved. It was like making new friends by way of old friends.

After I winnowed down my shopping basket, which included putting three books back on their respective shelves, mostly due to weight issues, I purchased these books:

This illustrated version of Charge of the Light Brigade was the extraordinary find of the day; I have never seen this poem illustrated before and by the Provensen husband and wife team, double awesome.

 I left Powell's by the exit that would deposit me directly across the street from Anthropolgy, a store that I have not been in for many, many years. I browsed heavily, looking carefully and feeling poor or perhaps just frugal.
But I did settle on a few small purchases, one for me and two for small gifts. Then I took out my camera and tried to take some inconspicuous photos.

Starving for a overdue lunch, I walked right into Whole Foods and bought myself some chili and San Pellegrino. I ate my lunch at the Whole Foods eating area while playing phone tag with my son who wanted a phone number. I sat there texting my husband and talking to my son; it was a bit surreal for this non-phone user.
These bathroom sinks in Whole Foods seemed to keep the water from splashing out, but made me feel a bit like I was washing my hands at an animal trough.

Coming back to the hotel, I planned my route to come right past these inviting windows. Then I went inside and found many delightful things made by local artists and makers. I'm not a trendy person, I prefer to be contentedly behind the times until it seems like old hat. This store is a mixture of old hat and trendy. I bought myself some earrings and a coin bag that I've been storing my hotel door keycard in for safekeeping.

Out for dinner to a pub that I had picked it out of a guidebook of eateries from the Visitor Information Center, except it was apparently no longer in existence,. So we looked around and spotted this Irish pub, Kells, just sitting across the adjacent corner and walked in for some fish and chips. It was not the best fish and chips, but it filled us up. It looks like they had attached many dollar bills to the ceiling; the lighting was cozy and the place was quiet, but the stage showed that live music would be starting later. Tired, we walked back to our hotel for a quiet night in.