Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Little House in the Burbs

It's funny sometimes, the things that you wish for in your children. For me, one of my silent yearnings was for a child who had a love for the Little House books as deep as mine. I had always imagined that this love for LIW would come from a daughter, but I love that right now the child who is as passionate about all things Little House is seven year old Little Guy.

We are immersed in Laura and Pa and Baby Carrie and log cabins and sugaring and covered wagons and everything Little House. All day, everyday. And can I tell you that I am just loving it.

A few things we've been doing!

Although this is something that I do, I invited the children to help me make bread for the family, and then we made our own butter, which feels very very Ma. The Little Guy asked whether we would be shaving a carrot and adding a little boiled carrot juice to the butter so that it was a pretty yellow color as Laura describes Ma doing in Little House in the Big Woods; I replied that we wouldn't. Apparently Ma had a much greater need for 'pretty' than I do! (Here's a link to a post I did a while ago about making butter; it is so so easy, and the kiddos think it is just magical!)

We have been listening to a lot of early fiddle music, which has lead to lots of jigging-style dance parties and whooping in our home. Trust me, it is so much fun to spontaneously jig! I've got my eye on the Arkansas Traveler CD, but for now we are listening to the Pa's Fiddle station on Pandora.

We are working our way through listening to the Little House books on CD in the car; we have been completely enamored by the Cherry Jones narrations (here, here and here), and despite the dozens of times I've read the books, listening to these recordings has brought a new depth of understanding for me. The children have never been so eager to spend time in the car as they are these days - "just one more chapter? Pleeeeeease?"

We have been researching covered wagons, threshing, panning for gold, how to build a log cabin and breaking ponies. We have spent so much time researching these areas, that I think we will be making it official and be doing a Little House unit study this coming year as part of our homeschool curriculum. We'll be using The Prairie Primer by Margie Gray, which is out of print, but there often seem to be copies available on Amazon and eBay.

One last thought! I mentioned that I had often imagined it would be a daughter who would share my love of LIW; but chatting to The Little Guy about the books, he is convinced that Pa is the hero of the books. He is strong, capable, kind and generous of spirit. What more could we want in a hero figure for our young boys! (Check out what Cindy Rollins, a well known Classical homeschooling blogger, says about the Little House books in her post about Books for Cultivating Honorable Boys ... it's all the way down at the end, but the whole post is a good one!)

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Day of Blurgh

I had a lovely post planned for today. It was thoughtful, sweet, well written, proofed and linked, that just needed a little last minute research and delightful photos added. 

And then sometimes life just gets in the way. 

Instead, I bring you this - a day of blurgh. A couple of weeks of poor sleep culminated in a truly awful night last night, so in a hope to bring a little 'real' here is what my day is looking like. 

Children in pajamas, watching Octonauts, in nests of unfolded, clean laundry. And realistically this is what our day will look like, all day. 

And that's okay. Because it isn't forever, it's just for today. 

Sometimes you just have to know to quit while you're ahead, accept gracefully, and let it go. 

Tomorrow, hopefully, we'll get back to our normal routine, the lesson plans and the to do list. But not today. Today is tea, toast, knitting and couch. And Octonauts. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Year of Books

Anyone who knows me will know that I read. A lot!

Although I am never without a book at my side, I was certainly reading less during the first years of mama hood; even I choose sleep over reading. But now that life has a little more down time, I'm enjoying being able to read more.

(I should add here that although I do read a lot, I also listen to at least a third of my books either on CD while I'm in the car, or through Audible or Overdrive via my smart phone . I tend to listen while I do chores around my home, washing dishes and folding laundry and such. I've never been so eager to do chores before!)

I've always loved to check out other people's reading lists, and thought it would be fun to post mine, both noting what I have read and plan to read, and updating now and then. 



The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

May B., by Caroline Starr Rose

Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth

News From Lake Wobegon, by Garrison Keillor

Blue Birds, by Caroline Starr Rose

Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon

Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff

The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881 - 1901, by Nancy Turner, by

A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon


Learning All the Time, by John Holt

The Read Aloud Handbook, by Jim Trelease

My Life in France, by Julia Child

Notes From a Blue Bike, by Tsh Oxenreider

Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life, by Pamela Smith Hill

[post contains affiliate links]

So, what are you reading? What does your to-read stack look like?
Any highlights of your reading year so far?
I'd love to hear from you; feel free to leave a comment below!  

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Salad for the Summer

To be honest, I often have a hard time shifting culinary gears when the seasons change. The soups and stews which are our mainstay during the cooler winter months, just don't feel as nourishing during the hot and humid summers of Virginia.

My go-to summer meal is a big salad, but the three kiddo's ... and My Good Man (if we're being honest!) are not fans.  But I've think I've discovered my new quick and easy, summer supper - Confetti Salad. 

The fab thing about this dish is that it lends itself to substitutions and using what you have on hand. And it's delicious. And quick. And delicious!

Confetti Salad
(Makes four hearty servings)

Approximately 2-3 cups of cooked grain, such as quinoa, bulgar wheat, rice, couscous, amaranth etc

Veggies of your choice. 
Current favorites are cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, raw shredded spinach and red onion. I prefer my vegetables for salads to be fairly finely chopped, about half an inch. 

A few luxury add ons. 
A small handful of something to add a bit of pizazz, like chopped green olives, pistachios, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries or feta cheese. 

Salad dressing. 
1/4 cup or so of your favorite dressing. This almost deserves a post all on its own; I love making salad dressings, although I rarely follow a recipe. Which can make it tricky to reucate a particularly good batch!
My current favorite is a Greek-inspired salad dressing with EVOO, lemon juice, a splash of maple syrup, garlic, salt pepper and oregano. It's fabulous!


Mix everything together well in a large bowl, then let sit in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. 

That's it! Couldn't be easier, and I love how versatile this is. 


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Birthday Interview: The Little Guy at 7

On my children’s birthdays, I interview them, asking them the same set of questions each year. It's fascinating to see how they’re changing and if they have interests that remain the same.

I first heard of these Birthday Interviews on the Sparkling Adventures blog (which is worth checking out, for free range, unschooling, travelling inclined folks).


What are you going to be when you grow up?
Well, I have to think about it. I'll be a person with a few jobs. I'll work at a power plant, I'll be a papa (that's a job!), and I'll be a scientist.

What’s that going to be like?
Oh man! Well, taking care of my children, and I'm not too sure what it's like in a power plant. And working in a lab with chemicals.

What are your favorite toys?
This is the hardest question yet! But ... my Legos!

Who are your best friends?
Alex, Liam and Sufyan

What makes you happy?
Mama! And Papa! You can tell it makes me happy to be with you!

What makes you sad?
When I can’t play in the pool, and having to clean up my room.

When you dream at night, what do you dream about?
Just all kinds of stuff.

What do you like to do with Papa?
Run errands and fix stuff. I love fixing things.

What do you like to do with Mama?
Snuggle, snuggle, snuggle!

What’s your favorite color?
Aquamarine. (I think that’s how you say it).

What’s your favorite book?
Oh man! These questions are so hard! [He really had to think about this one]
My DK Eyewitness books on Eagles and Dogs.

What does Daddy do during the day?
Well, that’s a hard question. Work at work I guess.

What does Mama do during the day?
Takes care of us.

What do you do during the day?
Play, play, play. [I pressed him a little to expand his answer, but apparently all he does is play. Fair enough!]