New Chapter – New Players

November 11, 2014


Once again, it’s been ages since my last post.  A lot has happened.  We said farewell to our shepherd, Buck, our catahoula, Bourre, and our black cat Phreddie.  Two years went by, just like that.  Our sweet boys continued on their journey into becoming young men.  They are now 13 and 10 (as of two days ago!).  The above puppy, Rio, was a present for Landen, after his begging for a dog for over a year.   He found him online – a rescue litter of two males and a female, 2 months old.  They were Halloween puppies – this one was called Cider.  We adopted our bundle of energy the same week I moved my mom down from Spokane and celebrated her 80th.

The following week Landen turned 10.  He chose to have a family birthday this year, going out for sushi dinner with Oma and Nana.  He asked for pumpkin pie, so I baked a couple from 2 different pumpkins from the garden.  Farmer Karl has given us a plethora of pumpkins and squash this year.  We have so many they cover our front porch!

We have a small cottage we were renting out, near the barn.   We had to give our tenants 60 days notice to vacate.  I kept expecting mom to change her mind;  she has so many times before.  Why am I so far away from family?  Why in the world would I return to California!  Back and forth.  But this time she didn’t change her mind – from listing her house for sale, to selling her car and other things, to packing up the house and watching the contents drive away in an orange Allied truck.

We flew on the plane together, just like long ago.

Karl and the boys met us at the airport and the kids were especially excited Nana was moving to be near us.  They set up the cottage with temporary furniture until her things arrived.  The biggest inconvenience for her was not having her TV or a telephone.  10 days later her things arrived.  And the unpacking began.  What I had wrapped up, I unwrapped again.

It feels good to have my mother finally close to us.
















Fall has come.

October 22, 2012

My family is returning tonight from a camping trip at Yosemite – a trip planned months ago.  I am recovering from a burst appendix.  I was up visiting my mom, then headed over to Walla Walla to play with college friends, but didn’t feel so swell through that Friday night.  So I drove back to Spokane the next morning, checked into ER where they did a CT scan which showed my appendix had a fissure, though it was enclosed in a bubble.  Twenty-one hours later when they finally operated, it had burst.  It was a long 5 days in the hospital.  My mom visited each day, but she confessed to having nightmares getting lost in the parking garage.  Mike Mulligan was hard a work, building a new parking garage outside my hospital window and keeping me from going crazy inside the four walls.

I missed my family and animals a lot, but it felt good to be in the NW near my mom for this.  Life never ceases to surprise us.

Today is mom’s birthday.  I told her if I was going to miss a return flight home, I couldn’t imagine anyone else I would rather be with than her.  I think it made her feel good.

Our dog Buck’s heart is failing.  The vet said today he couldn’t even hear it beating.  There is so much fluid (or maybe a tumor?) up against it that he couldn’t even hear it faintly.  A hard conversation is awaits our family when they return … when to let Buck go.  I can tell he’s not feeling good, because he’s sleeping outside through the night.  He hasn’t slept on his dog bed in days.  His breathing is labored.  He is so thin.

It’s so sad to watch this happen.  Life is so fragile.

Home again.

January 13, 2012

Day 1 of 2012.  Time is like a whirlwind.  Been in Idaho for a week, visiting family and romping around in search of snow.  It was a wonderful time.  I am sad it’s over, but also glad to be back in my domain.  I hope someday we can get a small cabin up that way, either Idaho or Oregon.  That is where my soul is, my home.  But my husband and his world are here.  Our kids are rooted here.  Zooming by on a quad as I type, instead of a snowmobile.  Jack is 10 now, Landen is 7.  Wow at that, too.  I will try and write more consistently each week, at least.

October 26, 2011

Just before dropping Jack off at soccer practice, he said to me, “Mama, I know who the best artist is in the world.”  I asked him, “Who?”  “Mother Earth,” he replied.  “Think about it ~ every tree, every branch.  Each one is like no other.”  “Did you learn this at school?” I asked.  “No, I just thought it up right now” he replied.  Yesterday I had to stop in my tracks.  The leaves were slowly falling off the Black Walnut in the back garden.  Pretty soon it will be bare again.  So much to savor.

The dogs were delighted to have a quiet moment, too.  My most loyal and best friends.


Here now

October 1, 2011

The boys are growing up quickly.  As Landen’s friends have started to loose their teeth, I noticed a bit of envy on his part that he hadn’t lost any.  He is 6.  Last night he asked me what was inside his mouth.   I peeked in to find a tooth coming in behind the baby ones.  He’s excited, but also scared.  As I tucked him into bed, he told me he didn’t want to go to first grade.  “There are things I need to tell my friends and teachers.  I’m not ready for first grade!”  I suggested we contact his teachers and maybe see them (one has two sons born the same week! as both of our kids).  It was bittersweet.

Jack overheard my conversation with Landen and said to me “I’m going to be in 5th grade in the Fall, Mama!  Fifth grade!  It seems like yesterday I was in first grade!”

We felt Landen was ready for a different kindergarten experience.  He had gone to our favorite teacher Steve for 2 years, Jack had gone for 3.  The time felt right for a change.  As much as we loved our homeschooling year, I began to feel that Jack would do better in a group setting with other kids on a regular basis, in school.  It was a hard decision and he didn’t want to stop.   Landen has begged to home-schooled in third grade when the time comes.

But returning to school turned out to be a great decision.   They attended Orchard School in Aptos.  Our family went through a rough summer while I tried to figure out a way for us to move back to the Northwest, where my family lives.  When talk came up over possibly moving, the boys were ok to leave, but they confessed they’d mostly miss their school.

It turns out that we are not moving after all.  We are still working out the kinks, but the idea is for us to have easy access to family and friends up North.  And the dream is to create some sort of *home* away from home that we can go to during the summer and / or winter time for vacations as the kids grow up.  This time of childhood is so fast, we want to savor as much as we can.  And so it feels that the best place for our family to live is here now.


Old drafts

October 1, 2011

Here are a few entries, which never got published.  Sorry if they are a bit disjointed.

Time in the playroom was always time well spent.

The garden got planted with 18 tomatoes this spring.  Boy, did we not know what we were in for!

We got some wonderful green beans, peppers and sunflowers from the *new* garden plot.

Work in the basement continued …

In the meantime, it made for great roller blade practice.

Any trip to Santa Cruz is not complete without a trip to Wilder Ranch.  Jack got to spend every Thursday here all year long during his Riekes Program.

Here the kids were playing hide and seek.  Can’t beat that classroom.

Little brother found a snake !

And an old snakeskin trophy was found in the wood of an old building.

This was the handmade paper the boys made.  Jack used his new calligraphy pen to write a thank you to Nana.

He finished up his poetry book by binding the papers together.

A sweet cornhusk sail the kids made gave this little boat life again.

Gardening and Housebuilding

June 9, 2010

We made a multiplication chart / clock ~ thanks to inspiration from Robinsunne.  It was the perfect timing for Jack.  There were a few times tables he was having trouble remembering, but right away, he picked up the patterns and figured out the numbers without looking at my drawing on the board.  It was fun for him to make such a nice project and especially good for his ego!

Meantime, Landen continued to be the eager helper in the garden.  We’ve been making a point of giving the chickens any green weeds daily to contribute to their diet.  Wetsuit and rubber boots on my littlest man make me smile.

We decided to make a swale along the bank behind our house, allowing some of the runoff from our washing machine to help water our garden.  Tomatoes, squash and a couple of watermelon plants were the lucky ones to get planted there.

Jack wrote about swale gardening in his main lesson book.

It’s always fun to have Papa’s involvement ~ he’s much more efficient than I.  Especially when he gets out the Kabota tractor.

That’s 13 tomato plants, with gopher cages for each one!

The boys found a snake while we worked in the garden that day.  Finding reptiles and bugs make the hard work worthwhile!

Jack has continued to amaze me with his ease at learning guitar.  His teacher is using Open Tuning ~ he now has about 20 songs he can play!  After we got the above Janis Joplin T-shirt at a yard sale, it was a good incentive to learn Bobby McGee.

It seemed appropriate to make a seasonal calendar as Spring hit full force.  It was pretty easy to look back and ahead at this point to the seasons and months in each.  Jack enjoyed using his watercolor painting to make the final result.

A surprise birthday party for his pal Stella on Cinco de Mayo at the beach was the first day to really feel almost summer-like.  The kids had a blast, so did the parents.

The days Landen is not at his mixed-aged Kindergarten, I try and plan things I think he will enjoy.  I knew that drawing a picture of our house was one of those activities.  The boys were eager to draw.  I love the fact they are both artistic!

Papa had gotten a good *deal* on some lumber from the lumber yard, for a future project (septic tank, perhaps?).  Most pieces measured 4′ x 4′ x 8′ and seemed to be the perfect larger-than-life Lincoln logs to accompany our housebuilding block.

I wasn’t thrilled about the location ~ conveniently blocking access to my garden for new topsoil, but since they were all so into it, I let them run with it.  It was just *temporary*…

The adjacent field had grown so much it became the perfect haven for little boys hoping to make secret forts and hide from one another.  For a week or so, the boys couldn’t wait to go out in the field and play.

The dogs loved the lagoon on the other side…

The kids also like taking photos of us parents when we let them hold the camera.  For some reason, I really like this one.

Landen’s buddy, Makai, was having a birthday party and he knew exactly what he wanted to give him.  Homemade biscuits!  It was adorable.  We got it all ready to go, then realized the birthday was not till the next week!

He made more for him the following week, but these never made it to him:

Signs of Spring

May 29, 2010

We started a notebook called ‘Signs of Spring’ and the signs were all over the place.  The air was fresh and fragrant.  Mother Nature’s rainbows were surrounding us everywhere.   One of my favorite plants on this property is the Wisteria.

It is especially striking when the Belle of Portugal roses bloom, too.

Karl suggested I point out to the boys how few leaves there were on the Black Walnut tree in the back garden.

And note how quickly it would change …

We put a light on a timer in the chicken coop so we’d start getting more eggs.  Jack recorded the eggs collected daily is his notebook and did a bar graph at the end of the week ~ a fun math lesson ~ and a good visual representation of the egg production.  Sadly, boy duck was not being nice to any of the others, so he moved to the local lake and now lives with a bunch of mallards and seagulls.  We visit him sometimes, and he seems to be doing fine.

Things picked up dramatically between winter and spring, as the days started getting longer…

And the 2 walls in the boys’ room finally got buttoned up by Karl and his helper.

The bulbs the boys planted in the fall sprouted.

I’m a sucker for red tulips ~

… and, of course, white daffodils.  Spring is here.

Our Friday Friends group made wet felted eggs with using plastic eggs and colored wool roving.  We had so much fun doing it, we came home and made more.  My friend Jennipher suggested making baby chicks for them.  Check out her awesome blog on 3rd grade and how to make these wool eggs here.

We had an Easter egg hunt here in the morning ~

I make them sit on the same bench every year for a picture I put in our calendar.  They are good sports about it.

This was last year’s shot.

We went up to Pescadero to a friend’s farm for the afternoon, with some friends and enjoyed a fun potluck and a short break in the rain …

These two are super close buddies ~ happy as clams in raincoats.

Motivated husband got a garden started along the walkway next to where we have an outdoor shower.  It has good sun and good water drainage.  Fortunately, we have some good compost dirt that worked well for the soil for the bed.  Jack learned how important soil is in successful gardening.

The kids were begging to play soccer after dinner, which made us old folks feel like we were staying in great shape …

So many changes I wanted to witness, it’s been hard to keep track.  Somewhere there is an after shot of this iris.  I’ll post it when I get there…

Jack attended an amazing Thursday Newts at Riekes Nature Awareness program.

Every week, they met at an old ranch, just north of here right out of town ~ called Wilder Ranch ~ and spent from 9-2 there exploring the area, along with a bunch of other kids around his age.  They learned animal tracking, mapping, and played awesome games with really fun teachers.  They met rain or shine, and only had to resort to the alternate plan in Bonny Doon once, when the back country was closed due to heavy rain.

Our family joined J a couple of times and what an experience!  The first day we were there they started with a game of coyote and hunters.  Everyone took turns being various animals on the food chain and the hunters.

They had a potluck and got to make fire.

Wilder is pretty spectacular place, from an original old ranch with farm animals open to the public, to amazing hikes and creeks and ponds and fields of produce and even amazing beaches!  Anyone visiting Santa Cruz has got to see this place.  Lucky Jack got to have this as his classroom one day each week!

Our good friends got baby chicks, so of course, we had to hold them in the closet-converted-into-a-coop-for-the-chicks.

Once again, our Friday Friends shared another wonderful day, this time with awesome hot cross buns.  What an honor to be sharing the same space as these amazing families.

With the new spring growth, we took a day trip to one of our favorite day hikes to the Pinnacles.

There are wonderful hikes with amazing rocks to climb and caves to explore.

Did I mention another amazing resource for Waldorf third grade ~ the book “In The Child’s World” written back in the ’20’s by Emile Poulsson?  It’s free to download online (check it out), but if you can get a hold of it, I highly recommend it.  It has great stories for a lot of the topics we covered this year.  We continued our fibers unit with the study silk.  We tried 3 times to keep silkworms, thanks to our friend, Meridith, and her family.  They just didn’t like it here, and they didn’t make it.  Well, we tried.  The boys got a chance to see real cocoons while visiting a classroom in a local school, those worms were HUGE!

I took a visit solo to visit my Mom in Spokane, and also check out the scene in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Mom and I headed over to Wallace, Idaho, to see the old mining town, also known as the silver capital of the world.  Wowza … what a crazy place!  I was intrigued just by the pure oddness of it.  A very historic town, with backyards, if not back doors, touching a tall steep mountain.  I decided it was the perfect place for an offbeat movie to be made.  And as, it turns out, several have been.

Back at home, the signs of spring continued.  Here is our bound and determined apple tree, growing sideways, bursting with buds.

The study of flax and linen inspired us to make paper.  Landen had as much fun, if not more fun than his big brother…

For his birthday, a few weeks later, Nana gave Jack a calligraphy pen.  Jack used it write a thank you to her on one of the pieces of paper.

While studying about log cabins during the shelters block, the boys worked together to make this Lincoln log cabin.  It’s so nice when things just happen, unexpectedly.

We are so fortunate to have friends who live in amazing places around here.   The boys, of course, love to play in any water body they can …

The big ninth birthday rolled around the end of April.  Can’t believe my first born baby is now nine!  He invited a bunch of his friends and their families over for a backyard BBQ and fun…

Back at school time, I tried out a game from the book ‘Games For Reading’ by Peggy Kaye for Jack.  He had fun jumping around my crazy chalk drawings, helping him learn and move simultaneously.

I took piano lessons for many years as a child.  I vowed to never force my kids to take it if they didn’t want to.  With Jack learning guitar, it felt natural to have access to a piano to show him a few things.  Oma sweetly loaned us her upright piano ~ we loaded it into the truck and hauled it down.  Never say anything is impossible.  With the help of some friends on hand, Mister ambitious got it in the house in no time.  A piano!

Landen is picking up spelling right along with Jack.  I found this one morning when they got into the math pipecleaners from my last year’s visit to the Waldorf in the Home Conference ~ it was a wealth of information.  I cannot believe how much he’s getting completely on his own.

A Time to Farm

May 14, 2010

A good portion of the third grade year in the Waldorf curriculum is spent learning about farming.  Spring got us eager to get into the dirt, so after we poured through the seed cataloges and the seeds arrived, it was time to plant them into flats and in the ground.

I sometimes joke about the fact that if we had X-ray eyes, our entire garden would be a maze of gopher tunnels.  Everything has to be planted inside gopher cages, or in pots, or raised beds.

Landen loves taking photos with my camera.  He took this one of me and for some reason I didn’t delete it.

The boys planted wheat grass seeds with our Friday Friends group, which yielded almost immediate gratification.  J measured the growth daily in his notebook.

We jumped into the swing of spring sports with soccer.  J really had a blast with it, especially since several of his friends from babyhood were on the team, both boys and girls.  His coach was awesome, and it made for a good start to organized sports for him.

One criticism of homeschooling often is the social aspect.  We have been fortunate to have an incredible community of friends here, which has made the transition really easy.  There is no shortage of friends ~  many parents we’ve known since we were in prenatal yoga and early baby groups together.  As grade school entered the picture, we have all stayed connected whether we are homeschooling, Waldorf or public school.  It’s usually about how to reduce the amount of things we have going on, so we can just hang out at home!

While studying fibers, we got the chance to check out sheep shearing at beautiful Live Earth Farm in Corralitos, where we have gotten our farm shares in the past.

The boys got to card and dye the freshly shorn wool.

Lately, the most common request is for Papa is to read Hardy Boys to them.  Even though J is reading by himself some, we’re not complaining about being woken up to the climbing into bed in the mornings with requests to be read to by both kids.  Childhood is so sweet and goes so fast.  We’re savoring these days like crazy.

Worms and Words

May 14, 2010

The worm jar was another inspiration from Nature’s Nest blog.  With the rain and garden of dirt and worms, I couldn’t resist.   We put marbles in the bottom, then sand, then dirt and worms.

The earthquake followed by tsunami which hit Hawaii had the coastal areas anticipating a huge wave surges.  It became a good science lesson in how movement from the earth can affect oceans all around the world.

It was crazy to watch the water come in and go out at such a rapid pace.

So many of the projects here are never preconceived;  they mostly just happen.  Clearing the growth off the old wagon was one of those times.  There were lots of blackberries strangling a fig tree.  We got the kids to help out on the overdue pruning.

A bit later, things looked a lot better.  I don’t know about the cones, though.  The kids are obsessed with them.

Each morning, we light a candle to signify the start to our homeschool day.   This particular week we heard some stories about gnomes who found crystals so the boys got out some crystals to set out on the table.  I love their enthusiasm for such seemingly simple things …

Karl suggested a scavenger hunt to get Jack motivated about reading.   The rain added to the fun when he read a clue that lead him to my old Ford pickup for the next clue.  Chocolate flying saucers from Trader Joe’s were the reward at the end.  It seemed to work really well.

Ever notice the correlation between sweets and tears?  For us, it usually takes about 1 hour or less before it all kicks in.  Each time, I threaten no more if they are going to cry.  Will I ever learn???

Anytime my kids bring me flowers, my heart just melts.  Landen especially likes to cut flowers for me, sweet thing.

The boys got to perform the play, “Noah’s Ark” with our Friday Friends group.  They were villagers and birds and really enjoyed memorizing their (short) lines and the songs.

Immediately following the play, we hit the road for LA and Disneyland.  The next day was jam packed with rides and we managed to avoid the long lines thanks to some creative planning ahead!

I was excited to show the boys the side of LA I remember from when I was growing up there.  I had so loved the big rings and hoped they’d still be there in Venice Beach.  Apparently, lots of folks liked them too, as they had taken out the Muscle Beach barbells I remembered and added more RINGS.   We rode bikes from Santa Monica to there and back.

A stop at Gaviota was mandatory for Papa and the boys.  It was nice to have absolutely nothing to do but just play on the beach for the day…

My little (and big) bridge builders …