Friday, January 29, 2016

A Late Summer Afternoon

I have often found myself stricken by the changing light of the sun. There have been many times where I have been so moved by the colors of the late afternoon and the way the reds, oranges, and golds filled the air highlighting everything in sight. When I was in college as I lived in my upstairs apartment that I would become mesmerized by the sunlight streaming in the windows and how beautiful it was as it highlighted parts of the rooms. At certain times it would shine in the windows scattering the most beautiful light into the kitchen and I would sit in my little attic bedroom and look at it. I remember thinking back then that that was one of the purposes of this life, to see the beauty of the light around us. 

These pictures are of the late summer sun, I forget the specific day but it might have been a Sunday afternoon. I noticed the light, and my sweet children, and ran to grab my camera.

Such a wonderful life...

making sweet memories of childhood. Warm. Love, Home.

And of course the sillies.

You can see how fast that fleeting moment faded as by the time I took this last picture the light was already changing around us. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Power of Courage

In September we celebrate Michaelmas. I first learned of it when I was learning about the style of home school we wanted to use. It is such a fun festival. 

I spent some time making a pair of wool and leather slippers for each of my children. They were fun but by the third pair I was ready to be done with the project. If you ever make slippers remember to sew each piece of both slipper before moving on. Don't do it the way I did of completing one slipper and then doing the second one. They will look more uniform if you make both at the same time. I used felted sweaters and cut up leather that I got from the thrift store. 
I also needle felted the designs. These are the ones I made for my boy, the girls look different.

This is our September nature table. Our table this year looks a lot more fleshed out and we have more fun stuff to put on it. It took me some time as in the beginning I didn't have much stuff to put on it other than items from outside like seeds, sticks, and flowers and such. Now we have some wooden figures, and I needle felt items sometimes to go on there. 

Here is a blurry picture of our Michaelmas Feast. My husband likes to help me plan this one and he gets excited about it. Next year I think we are going to have chicken wings and we will call them dragon wings. We didn't have any dragon bread as we recently found out some members of our family have problems digesting gluten. It is hard to go without bread. 

Our chalkboard wall. I have been loving how I can write verses on it that we are working on for the week. It adds a nice touch but makes my house really feel like some sort of school.

We made a sword this year. My boy had interest in sanding it for about 20 minutes so it is a little rough. I figure he will get better at it as he still is very much immersed in imaginative play. I made the crown and dragon mask. 

We made up a short little play and practiced it all week. The kids thought this was a hoot as we have never done an activity like that before. It has been fun adding activities to our festivals. At first when we started celebrating them I only tried to do one or two simple things just so that it was possible. Since the kids are a little older they get excited and we are more capable of doing more and more each year.

When daddy got home from work we went out on the lawn and preformed our play.

There they go... running far and wide out into the neighbors lawn. They really got into it. 

They all did their parts so well.

They loved it.

We found an old white pillow case and I cut a neck hole and arm holes and we added a belt. It turned out great for a nights tunic. 

Daddy loved the play too. We think he was impressed. 

If you are confused as to what this celebration is here is a link for you. From my knowledge is us traditionally a catholic saint day, but our home school curriculum chooses to celebrate festivals and most of them are from European tradition. They are to create a family culture as well as to mark the year for young children. This is one of the common festivals that Waldorf communities celebrate. At first it was a little odd for us but I really like the themes of light and darkness and courage over evil. That goodness wins. After a few years of celebrating Michaelmas it has become a very fun event that hallmarks the new school year, the coming darkness of winter, and the reflection of the light within. 

August Gardens

Things out in the garden grew and grew. Then they started to look tired from all the smoke. Somehow I managed to grow about sixteen pumpkins. The sun was hot and bright when I took these photos.

I put all my herbs in the garden by the fence but I just can't get enough water to it. I have a new plan for next summer.

You can see those tall yellow flowers. I can't believe how lush it all is. It is a habitat. We started to have a mouse problem. They came because of the chicken feed and stayed because of all those German tomatoes. I would find half eaten ones down in the dirt. They were hard to get too so I know it wasn't my youngest.

Every year about this time I start to plan for next year. What is going to get moved, what makes me happy, what worked and what didn't. One of these years I am going to start an awesome garden journal. 

You can see some of the massive pumpkins. They were everywhere. I loved it and hated it at the same time. I loved knowing I would have enough for my porches to decorate with all fall, and enough for baking and making pies. I didn't like how the pumpkin plants grew and grew and grew taking over everything else in the garden. They were also the first plants to get the powdery mildew that the cooler weather of fall brings. They had vines everywhere that looked scraggly and yellowed. I could't pull them out as they pumpkins needed to finish off. I told myself that I am going to plant them next spring out front in the bare section of our lawn but I think my freezer will be too full of pumpkin to even bother. You have to have a reason to go to the pumpkin patch once and a while right?

In the picture with the pumpkins you can see some leaves hanging down in the top corner from our peach tree. It bloomed and my kids picked off all the baby peaches. At first I was mad. Then I learned how to prune the tree and accepted the opportunity to make the tree stronger and better next year. Peaches bloom on new growth. So that means the growth from the previous summer. Since they picked all the peaches off I was able to prune it to the right shape (which I had neglected to do the first year we had it). Now it is growing big and strong with lots of new growth. All that new growth will be great next spring providing many many more peaches. I have to do the same to my Quince.

We have this bean tee pee. It grows out of control. It is fun and functional.

I always like to plant a pumpkin behind the bean tee pee and let it grow across the patio. It gets going before the beans and then the main plant gets a little swallowed but the vines get lots of hot sun on the concrete. I like the look but my kids are a little hard on it with their wagons and bikes.

We started to gravel the pathways. I listened to logic put down a weed barrier. Yeah, that failed. The kids and the dog dug it up and shredded it. So I had to go out and pull it all out. I love the gravel look but think we might have used the wrong kind. Everyone said to use the pea gravel as it is soft for kids and dog paws. It is getting all over and it is hard to walk in. Its a little like walking on the beach in the dry sand. In my next garden I think I will use the chip gravel. I think it looks more natural and compacts down allowing for easier movement over the top.

I love flowers. These beds need some late summer pop. I am not good a buying things for my garden. Every year I tell myself that I will buy this or that to balance it out as it seems to bloom most in the spring. Then the year passes me buy and I never do it. I am good at getting what I can get easy and cheap. Beggars can't be choosers I guess.

Photo bombed by a crazy pup.

She loves it out there. We all do. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

In The Smokey Sun of Summer

When we were gone on our trip the air in the city we live started to fill with smoke from all of the forest fires. We also had a real dust storm come through like the dust bowl days. When we got back the air was thick with smoke and our windows were covered with dust. The past few summers now have always brought smoke for a week or so making outdoor activities less than pleasant but this year was very, very, bad. The forest fires in our state burned and we were put in a state of emergency. 

We became confined indoors for weeks and weeks.

We looked out the windows at the red sky and wished we could go outside and play.

So instead we busied ourselves with fun things to do inside, like sewing a kindergarten apron (for me). I didn't have a pattern so I made it up. I might try again next summer if the smoke is bad again.

I like to bring flowers inside as much as I am able to all spring, summer, and fall. For the month of August it was almost the only thing I had linking me to the summer sun. 

During it all my garden kept going strong. I would duck outside once a day to feed the chickens and collect the produce. We caned a lot of pickles and I learned a lot about cucumbers.

I got more tomatoes than ever this year. The ones you see here are from a German heirloom that produced more than I could keep up with. Many fell to the earth and rotted. The ones I could process made strange pink salsas and garden sauce. 

We lacto fermented.

These flowers grow 8 feet tall out in my garden. Every one asks me what they are, but I don't know. I should figure it out and commit it to my garden encyclopedia memory.  I love them until they topple over with weight from the blooms. They might make me invest in some sort of garden system to hold them up. 

I painted a chalkboard wall earlier in the summer. I love how I can just dump my brain on there and not have to remember things, or search for them in my planner. It looked better in the house than we expected too. When I was trying to decide if I should do it I looked at all my options. I finally went with the quart of premixed black chalkboard paint you can get at any large big box store for around ten dollars. In the end I decided I wanted to go with traditional black as any other color might make my kids think that chalk was for all the walls. We keep it simple around here.

Play is hard work.

The red sky. It was interesting and overwhelming at the same time. We ended up putting our storm windows on in August to try to keep some of the smoke out. It was like there was no escaping it. Of course it was the worst outside but we could smell it in the house too. It was nice to go to places like the mall, but then it made it hard to come home. For the first time I found myself wishing I lived in a newer home with less cracks and leaks to let the smoke in.

I collected and dried a lot of Calendula. I made salves from my herbs in the garden and crafted a bunch of things for year two of Kindergarten for my boy (because with Waldorf you do two years). We stayed busy and dreamed of rain. I wanted the cool weather of fall to come and wash the smoke away. Lets hope for a wet winter and a better summer next year so we can go outside and play.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Summer Fun, Family, and Portriats

My kids crack me up. They love to take pictures. My youngest really cracks me up with all of her goofy expressions. 

We went to some weddings in August. My middle child who is my princess thought she was getting married. Here she is in her "wedding dress". Which was just a pretty dress Grandma bought for her to wear to the actual wedding.  After the event was over she pointed out that she hadn't gotten married yet in a tone of concern.

Traveling is hard work.

We got a fun sled from Great Grandpa.

Second cousins. That's all my kids have for now, so we will take what we can get.


More weddings and second cousins. We wish we could see them more because they are so much fun.

More people we love. We wish we could see them more often too. Happy summer travels!