Last week…

Today is the last day of September.  Where did it go?  Last week…

… my parents arrived from Chile for a visit.  We are having fun already.

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… we saw one more grandma too.  Got to go out for dinner with her while she stopped in town.

… Mark and I got sick.  I hope this is not a sign of what it is to come.  I hope we start feeing better soon.

… I made the first batch of elderberry syrup.  I hope it starts doing its magic on us!

… I oiled the two spinning wheels we have. I also fixed the one we found on a garage sale few weeks ago, and was only missing a spring.  75 cents later, and we have an almost new, perfectly working spinning wheel for us to start practicing making yarn.  Now we need to get the fleece we have around.

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… I watched this video, an interview with Louis CK about why he hates cell phones. Love it!  It has made us laugh all week just talking about his interview.

… it felt like fall has arrived, and here at home, we are all very excited.  I think we were ready for the cooler weather, and especially the rain.  I do love the rain.  I know.

… I used my new cutting board.  What a difference it makes.  No grooves, no cracking, no nothing.  I can cut through the lines I want to.  I love it!

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… had good foods.

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… I picked as much basil as I could from the garden.  I’m wondering why I do these things on deadline… I knew fall was coming (many weeks ago!) and now, I’m last minute getting most of my pesto done.  I know I shouldn’t do it this way.  But yes, few more jars of pesto is a good thing.

… picked from the garden:

  • 16 cups of basil.  The last of it.  Just one more plant left in the garden for salad, and maybe one more batch of pesto.

… froze:

  • 4 pints of pesto.  I made the pesto recipe from this book I wrote about last year.  And I made one batch with pecans.  I thought it tasted good too. We’ll see how it freezes.

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… I enjoyed pouring the honey from the (honey) bucket (hah!) into 4 small jars.  I’m also enjoying looking at this beautiful honey and have a tried a little spoon here and there.  So good!

… laughed at Lucas’s comment and love of this autumn weather.  As it turns out, on Friday it started to rain.  Not pouring rain, but on and off rain.  Autumn Rain.  On Saturday morning, more of the same, but a little harder.  By late afternoon, was like any winter day.  Windy and rainy.  Lucas and Siena played with a friend outside, all day, even in the non-stop autumn rain.  As they are getting ready to be finished playing, I told Lucas “make sure all is picked up outside, and especially those things you don’t want to get soaked, because it’s going to start raining hard.”  He answers, after a whole morning and afternoon of playing outside in the rain: “When is it going to start raining?”  I had been indoors for the most part, as the rain was coming down.  These kids of ours, oblivious of the change of weather.  True Oregonians.

… my dad made a delicious salmon.

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… the bed is made for my parents.  With a handmade quilt from Mark’s grandma.  It used to be on her bed!  And she gave it to us few years ago.  Now at 94, and few states away, I wish she could see this blog post and how much we love her quilt.  And the pillow.  My grandma’s.  My mom’s mom.

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… I worked a little more on a quilt for a special someone.  Still needs to be worked on.  I love working on the piecing of the blocks.  I’ve never followed a pattern, so it always makes me think and wonder how will it all come together.  And some how.  It does.

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… Siena and Oma have been making things together already.

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Hope your week was a good one.

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A fall garden

We are picking everything that is ripe each day, and picking what’s mostly ripe too.

The days and the evenings, are getting much cooler.  We don’t want to miss anything we’ve worked so hard in growing.  And I should say it’s been mostly Siena and Mark doing the hard work in keeping it up.  Of course, after all the great help we got from our friends visiting from overseas, that were glad to help us get seeds in the ground and in pots to get them started.

The weeding, setting cages around tomatoes, adding string for the beans, directing and re-directing pumpkin and cucumber plants, watering… we all shared these jobs.  But it was Mark and Siena doing a lot of the work and tending the garden and picking the plants to grow.  It was fun to see them work together in getting it ready and keeping up with the plants and the weeds.  Both of them counting each day what they’ve picked and what they found.  And now, as summer ends, picking, and picking some more, to eat, share, and preserve as much as we can.

You should have heard Siena the other day when she picked this tomato.

DSC_0073-smallA one-pound tomato!  And as Siena added and she probably wants you to know that this one, “this one is from the plant we started from seeds this year!”

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Oh my.  So big and so good!

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We also planted black beans this year.  We’ve never planted black beans before.  Mid summer we got mixed up with the beans started from seeds, so we ended up pickling quite a few quarts of these thinking they were string beans! We are all learning. (We’ll see how they taste.)

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They look so pretty, don’t they? Now I need to find a good recipe to try with these.  Mmm… always a fun quest.

The bees + their honey

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Last week, Mark got in to the top bar bee hive we have in the backyard.  He’s been wanting to see how the bees are doing before all the rain starts, and wanting to get some of the honey.

This is the first time he’s ever gotten in there with the intension to get the honey.  Last year, it wasn’t a good summer for them, so Mark didn’t take much.  Just a couple of small combs that were growing crooked.

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This time, he went in, knowing it was going to be OK to take some of their honey. It feels weird to do that though.  I don’t work with the bees, and I do love honey, still,  it seems that we are stealing what’s theirs.  I feel bad.

But oh…. the honey… and I love that our kids can have it, with all its benefits.  So it makes me feel a little better.  It’s for a ‘good cause’, if you will…

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Mark in the hive, found a few cells from where the queens were born.  It is so fascinating.

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Isn’t it incredible?

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So this is it. Look at how dark the honey looks.  Oh… and it is so good!  Especially eating it straight from the comb… oh so good.

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After letting it drain for a couple of days, hoping for a little warmer weather (so it drains easier), we put the honey into jars.  We have 3 1/4 pints of beautiful golden delicious honey.  Oh… so amazing.  Thank you ladies!  Thank you for the honey.  Hope you enjoy your cozy home this winter again.  We’ll keep an eye on you.  Don’t you worry.  We’ll take care of you.  Thank you for everything.

Ancient Greece : the gods + goddesses

This homeschool year, we started studying Ancient Greece.  I am writing another post with more details on what books and links we are using for this unit, but wanted to share today, one of the projects we just did.

We dedicated a day in learning about gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece.  We are having so much fun learning about them all.

And we are reading Greek Myths, and some of the stories have come back to me, but mostly they are all new!  I don’t know where I was in my school days, that I don’t remember much of all this.   I’m so gad we are homeschooling now, I can learn again, what I was suppose to have learned probably 35 years ago!

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We made an accordion book from the Ancient Greece: History Pocket, book.  Where we put the twelve Olympian Gods, one per page, and drew their symbol.

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Then we did a project from Hands-On Ancient People.  We focused on the goddess Athena.  Goddess of war and wisdom.

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With real simple supplies we made an owl.  Owls, her sacred animal and the symbol of wisdom.

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Siena was saying, making these, it reminded her of doing her mehndi.

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All three of us, ended up using different supplies to make the owl’s feathers.  I think they all look really pretty.  Don’t you think?

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Here’s all three of our owls, though we have made more since.

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We love using thick, card stock paper and sharpies.  You should try it, it is so much fun!  And I think they could be made also as a Halloween project.

Learning the multiplications table

I’m not great at math.  I do like it though.  I actually loved Algebra and Calculus at the university, and even though it didn’t come easy, I really enjoyed the almost puzzle-like questions that these math problems bring.  But not in a while.  Nope.  I haven’t seen, read, or done any of these calculations or math problems in many, many (over 20!) years.

Really! I don’t even know if I could resolve any of them, at this point.  Or is it like riding a bike? That you never forget how… I wonder.  Probably not, because I don’t remember any of the formulas.  Huh… I’ll look forward to practicing some more math when Lucas and Siena get there.  We’ll see.

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For now, we are working on multiplications tables.  I searched for some videos, and found lots of resources out there.  Lots, and lots of great worksheets already done by other folks.  Videos I put on hold at the library.  Some music CDs to practice the multiplications with songs… haven’t checked these out yet, but wonder if they will be helpful.

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We watched a short video as an introduction to multiplications. Multiplications as repeated addition.  And we took the idea of having cookies (the circles) and adding chocolate chips (glass pebbles) to add them up.

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We also used these worksheets for practice, that are so clear and cute.  The kids are enjoying the practice, and seeing the multiplications in different ways.  Seeing them in charts, in the video, drawing them, putting and moving pebbles, writing flash cards, using different color markers, writing their own chart… I know it’s about memorizing them, but I’m trying to make it fun!  I do like math, and I want it to be fun for them too.

One day, we made these folders with pockets to put each set of multiplications as we learn them.  We use the supplies we had, so it’s not quite the same to the folder shown, but it’s the same idea, and it’s been working great so far, for us.

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We’ve taken a week per table, and since we don’t work on them every single day, it’s been fine.  I think as the multiplications table get harder I think we’ll have to practice more often.  But as always, I want them to be fun and not a chore or a dread.

Do you have any links or books to teach or practice multiplication tables you like?  Please do share.  We would love to see them!

Refuge

The other day, I decided I wanted to read again Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams.  I have read most of her books, but after reading her latest When Women Were Birds, I felt I wanted to go back to another one of her books.  So I had Refuge in my pile next to the bed for a while.

The day I open the book, the copy we own, made me think.  In the title page I’d forgotten it was signed and dedicated by Terry Tempest Williams, twelve years ago.  This same month, September, but of the year 2001.  I remember that month back then, was full.  Full of emotions.

It had been 9-11.  Also, was the month my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had started to read Refuge back then, because Terry Tempest Williams was coming to Portland, to read at Powell’s Books.  I had seen her before, and wanted to see her again.  With no kids back then, I remember going to the bookstore with Mark, and sitting, enjoying the evening, by ourselves.  Taking it all in, enjoying the reading, her conversations, her words.  I remember it was beautiful.

Terry Tempest Williams. Photo from here.
Terry Tempest Williams. Photo from here.

I sat down to hear Terry Tempest Williams that evening, to read from her latest book, Red.  She’s calm, profound, intense, sincere, amazing.  I listened to the comments, questions, and her answers.  I enjoyed her reading.

I had taken my Refuge copy and ask her to sign it.  She writes a dedication in the title page, as I try to understand what my mom is going through with her cancer.  Knowing what Terry Tempest Williams had gone through with her own mother.  She writes: Blessings. Support. Sisterhood.   28 Sept 01.

Just few weeks ago, I am surprised I picked up this book again.  Without knowing, the same month, more than a decade later, almost as a celebration of my mom’s cancer’s remission.  This time, I’m reading it with a different view of my world.  I want to read it differently.  I’m sure I will, as I’ve grown up in these past dozen years.  I’ve become a mom since I last picked this book.  Since I last heard Terry Tempest Williams read.

As I’m starting Refuge,  she dedicates the book to her own mother.  Then, the first page reads a poem by Mary Oliver. Wild Geese. Another beautiful surprise I’ve had since I last read this book.  I’ve read and deeply enjoyed Mary Oliver’s work, immensely since that first time I picked the book.

Now, here I was, on my side of the bed, late at night, with this book in my hand, opened.  As if I had just opened a box of memories.  This is as far as I got that night.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

As I read Refuge again, it feels all new, again.  I am in a different time, almost seems it is a different life, and in many ways it is.  I’m looking forward to the reading.

Last week…

Last week…

… I loved and laughed a little with Lucas when he got so excited when I thought that next day he’d probably need a bigger blanket on top of his bed.  It is getting cooler at night.  He smiled as if it was a grand prize.

… I also love cooler weather, and I also got ready for cooler evenings.  So I washed the curtains in the house to take the last air of summer, and a bit more sunshine to dry them outside.  Now, we have a little fresh air indoors to last us for the winter months.

… found this perfect post by Erin from Homespun Life on canning tomatoes.  Love it!  Why canning tomatoes is like being in labor. I agree completely.

… I made a couple of batches of chai concentrate.  I got the idea from Heather from Beauty that Moves, and I make a recipe very similar to hers, depending on what I have on hand.  I love chai in cooler days. I’m excited to have it every day once again.  Oh… the simple things in life.  Love it!

… thrifting, we found most of Lucas’s Halloween costume pieces to get closer to a complete look.  And found the material for Siena’s.  The kids are excited.  They are already playing with them and having lots of fun.

… laughed so hard when I found some of these photos on Pinterest.

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Oh!  And this one!

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Maybe this one not so much true anymore…. but oh yes… that’s what I thought when everyone went back to school and we had the beach to ourselves and the days were over 70!   I’d say it’s the perfect rule to go by when you homeschool.

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… we started getting ready for my parents coming to visit this week.  We are excited!

… I heard the geese flying by.  Few times.

… the kids played outside until dark.  The sun still shining, weaker, but while still not wet.  We are coming in earlier every day, as it gets dark earlier, but it feels like a long day anyways. They are still full of life.

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… we started picking most of our veggies from the garden.  It’s feeling like we need to get the beds cleaned before the cooler weather gets the last of the tomatoes and basil.  What we have left.

… we played with friends.  So much fun.

… Siena, as she’s done all summer, weighted and picked the veggies from the garden.  She’s been so intent in picking and taking care of the plants.  It’s been such a great help and so beautiful to see her this involved.

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… we picked from the garden:

  • 20 3/4 lbs tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 lbs green beans
  • 5 cucumbers
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 6 cups basil
  • 1/4 raspberries
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 6 delicata squash

… we canned:

  • 5 quarts of tomato sauce.

… we fermented:

  • 2 lbs of green beans.  A new batch. Waiting to try.

… we dried:

  • 5 lbs of nectarines
  • 5 lbs of peaches
  • 2 lbs of pears
  • 5 lbs of tomatoes

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… talked to new families about homeschooling.  I enjoy being on this panel.  It makes me think of how we are doing our homeschooling, share about our days, think of their questions and how we’ve come this far, this long.  sometimes with the same concerns, many times from a different beginning.  But always, we end up talking about the days and what it means to have your kids all day, every day.  I do love it (most days), and I feel lucky we can do this.  It’s been an honor to share so much time with my kids.  I’m glad we’ve decided to spend our lives like this.

… saw the full moon.  The Harvest Moon.  On a clear night, I love it.

… I saw autumn arrive.  We were working in the art studio, when we heard the leaves shuffle around outside with the wind.  Siena said: “I love fall.”  Yup!  Me too.

… I heard Siena’s dreams for when she grows up.  I love listening to what they are thinking and dreaming about.  I love it so much.

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… I got to spend a few hours with a three-week old little baby girl.  Someone so, so special to us.  I held her and watched her for an hour or two.  Just the two of us, talking, smiling, making beautiful baby sounds, and I held her until she fell asleep.  And I watched her and felt her breathing.  And watched her the whole time, just her beautiful little person I was lucky to spend my afternoon with.

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She’s a beautiful, beautiful little girl.  I feel so lucky.

Convenience

I’ve been trying to have a weekly menu of meals posted on our little kitchen board.  I’ve done it for few months now, and it’s not that hard, really.  I don’t remember exactly when I started, but I think sometime last spring. When I do have the menu, everything goes so much smoother.  From the beginning of the day, knowing what we’ll eat for dinner, knowing if I should prep anything, or get the crock pot ready, defrost any foods… so much easier.

And I actually enjoy going through my notebook of recipes, recipes torn from magazines, or looking through the many cookbooks we own, and the many others we have from the library. I do really enjoy planning our meals.  It’s just a matter of sitting down and doing it. I should do it more often, so it turns into our routine.

And one more thing.  I never thought of doing this.

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We’ve had this preserving book for almost 20 years and never saw this last page until few days ago when I wrote about canning.

To keep a record of the frozen foods you have in the freezer.  Wow!  What a great idea, isn’t it?

Well, Mark as he was preparing a bunch of foods the other day, to keep in the freezer for later use, he first organized our freezer.  Oh my!  How cool is all that!  Bringing up the idea of “meal planning”, planning the actual meals, getting the meat cuts we needed, making the recipes, packaging them, labeling them, putting them away in the freezer… I love this husband of mine.  He is so awesome.  Not only in having this great idea and coming through with it awesome, but in so many other ways.  Oh… I’m so lucky.

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I don’t think we’ve ever done this much organizing in that freezer in the 15 years or so, we’ve had it.  Today, is looking good.  We did clean it and defrost it and kept it unplugged while we were in India, but not organized like this while using it. What a great idea.  So far, I’ve been able to find everything we’ve needed, and it looks good.  I like that.

Mark said that day, as he’s packaging the meats with the marinades, he was writing also what we have in the freezer.  He was writing a list to put in the door, so we can check what we have, and check off when we took something out.  I thought he was so smart!  And even smarter by actually doing it!  Oh man.

Even though the days have passed too fast since this original plan was mentioned, and we’ve used already foods from the freezer, we’ll have to count the foods again to make this list accurate again.  We’ll work on it.  I think it might make our meal planning a whole lot easier.  I like it.  And I think we should do it.

What do you do to make your meal planning easier?

When the student is ready

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  Zen saying.

We have started our homeschool days.  Our rhythm appears to be much like last year’s.  Formal studying in the morning, some in the afternoon, and sports some of the days. We’ve decided to study Ancient Greece this month.  (I’ll post about all the resources we’ve used on a separate post, for future references.)  I’m not sure what’s next yet.  It’s like that.  We go with what sounds fun.

I’m not sure how we can around to it, but I think it came from an Olympics book we found at the library.  I think it’s funny and fascinating how sometimes we decided to learn about something.  We seem to enjoy getting deep into a subject to learn as much as we’d like, until we feel we are done with it.  We want something new.  So up to the next something.

And then, something else appears.  Maybe in a different way.  A conversation in the car, a book at the library, a story on the radio, a story or a conversation with a friend.  Something will spark our interest.

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For now, Ancient Greece is in our table (and shelves, and floors, and…) at the moment.  We don’t know what will come next.  But I always look forward to find out more about that next thing.

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When I was a kid in Chile…

When I was a kid, I had this bike.

Found it here.
Found it here.

Very similar to this, but I guess less fancy. I guess it was also pink… so maybe now that I think about it, it wasn’t like this one after all!  Just similar.

But this one though:

From here.
From here.

I had one exactly like this game.  And the funny thing is that my parents brought it to the US for us to have and play with, few years ago.  So, we still have it!  Love it.  I love seeing it around. Still.

And we made these…

check out this website for tutorial.
check out this website for tutorial.

I still want us to make some of these whistles.  I remember having so much fun making them and having them to play with.  I think we should try it some time soon.

And this, I don’t think I owned one, but we used one a friend had.

Found the photo on this site.
Found the photo on this site.

I don’t remember where she got it from (maybe it was from the US) but it was so much fun, I remember.  We spent hours, creating, coloring, imagining.  And you know what?  I found one at a thrift store a few years ago, and the kids and I have been playing with it on and off.  It is still fun!

Do you have anything in your house today that it was yours form your childhood or that you have found and brought back memories?

Today is Chilean Independence Day.  Feliz 18! Para los que lo están celebrando.