Friday, 29 August 2008

Apple in My Eye

Last week a co-worker of Dearest's invited us to pick apples at her farm.

Ooooooh. Apples. I love apples. Really. A lot. (((((drool)))))

I finally had an excuse to buy a fruit picker arm.

The drive there was lovely.

Once we were there an older guy was working on a tractor. He helped me at first as I got set up and got the hang of it. He thinks the apple tree is the variety Wealthy. Neat. Also, they are absolutely delicious.

They are organic by neglect. Appearantly no one even picks them. I don't understand. How can you not eat the glorious fruits if they are growing in your own back yard.

While I was picking, Lil'Bug got a hold of my camera. I have never let her touch it, somehow she not only got the hang of it but has excellent eye for composition. I'll do a separate post with her pictures.

I got the hand of the tool, but before that happened I was beaned in the head a couple times by falling fruit. No, I did not invent calculus later that day. I did however eat a lot of apples!

I brought home a bucket load. Wealthy are not good for storing so I will be making pies, pie filling, and apple butter.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Easy as Pie

My first from scratch, apples I picked, dough rolled by hand pie.

Good flavour. Things to note: I love hot right out of the oven pie BUT this pie needed to rest for 1 hour for the juices to distribute. 1 hour does not mean 39 minutes.

Pie dough wasn't rolled thin enough or else I should use more apples, about double what I used.

Local mamas: if you'd like to try a piece, we're home all day Friday! I'll be baking more pies. Lots more pies. Call me and come over!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Monday, Monday

Blah. I have the sniffles complete with sinus headache and scratchy throat.

I love Mondays lately. Despite my frustrating weekend, Monday leaves me with a clean house because Sunday morning we clean it as a family to prepare for Dearest to have band practice. Clean house is good. Usually I am also caught up with laundry because that's what Lil'Bug and I do while Dearest is playing music downstairs, but Blueberry was fussy last night and I still have about 5 clean loads to fold and put away.

Mondays are also free train rides for members at the zoo, wading pool park day, and a good day to go to the Historical museum (it used to be closed on Mondays so everyone thinks it still is).

With all of that available we will likely only go to the library today, clean out the car again, and try to buy an apple picking tool to prepare for our orchard trips. Very busy day.

Oh, and I'm going to attempt to make shortcake today.


Thursday, 21 August 2008

Serious Consideration

We have planned for many things. What we have not planned for is a long term educational plan if something were to happen to one or both of us. It is important to me that my children are cared for, respected, and allowed to learn joyously.

A couple things were churning in my brain as of late. One our our local moms was killed in a car accident this summer. I'd only met her once, but the incident stirred in me a sudden urgency to document our choices and discuss plans with each other and our family.

Until this summer the RU term has been lightly and quietly spoken. After all, MIL is a public school administrator and while our homeschooling "whim" has thus been tolerated, concerns over curriculum and socialization are already rising to the top of the brine.

So what is to follow is a series of posts on unschooling and how we have adapted it to our learning and lives. For me at this point in time it is not enough to have ring links in the sidebars.

Evie also sent a comment a while back wondering how we do it (RU), how it works for us. At the NBTS party I ranted and raved about how anything, (YES ANYTHING,) can be a unit study. No really, anything. Name it and I can get at least three "disciplines" to go with it naturally (not forced).

So, you've been warned. The posts are coming.


I have a confession to make. We stopped wearing sunscreen this year. I was worried and nervous as we are all fairly fair skinned BUT I had a gut feeling moving me. Don't get me wrong, I educated that gut feeling and then stepped into it slowly.

Here's the thing: sunscreens have lots of chemicals in them that are not FDA approved. Fine and well since you don't eat the goo right? Wrong. Skin in your body's largest organ and it absorbs those chemicals, many of them KNOWN cancer causing and banned substances. Well, golly gee, sun causes skin cancer too. What's a girl to do?

Vitamin D is a known cancer fighter. Your body makes that when exposed to the sun, real sunlight. So does it make sense to slather on cancer causing agents to block out a cancer preventing vitamin? Right. Moving on.

I burn. I burn bad. When I take a hot bath or get overheated the burn lines from the summer I was 14 reappear. That's why I was nervous.

I read that eating berries helps build up your skin from the inside out.
I read that being hydrated properly will reduce your chance of burning.
I read that adding coconut oil to your diet and beauty regiment would help.
I bought hats.
I favoured shady spots.
I wore appropriate clothing.

It is August. I've gotten rosy a couple times. Yesterday Lil'Bug did not stop to take water breaks and played for 5+ hours in her swimsuit in a fountain. She got a little rosy too. I slathered her with Shea Butter before bed. Today, she has no evidence of tenderness or discomfort. Me either. We went to the Fair without slathering up. We've spent most of our time outside this summer. No burns.

Huh. The experiment continues.

NOT Back To School

Every year there is a Not Back to School gathering on the first day that the public schools are in session. We celebrate that the parks and cultural attractions are now less crowded, at least until field trip season kicks in. We celebrate education, community, and let our kids party all afternoon with their friends.

There was an injured butterfly that the kids took care of and much bug hunting. Lil'Bug has found her tribe!

Ah, Blueberry had a blast too!

Lil'Bug loves the sun!

I took more photos than this but I don't as a rule post pictures of other people's kids on my blog. I did post them to flicker and sent the link to our local group though, they'll only be set to public for a short while.

As a side note:

There was a guy we didn't know who brought his pet python to the park. I asked him some questions for Lil'Bug's benefit and told her all about the time we babysat our friends snake. The guy told me I didn't know what I was talking about when I explained to her what they eat in the wild: "In the wild these snakes eat gerbils. Some people have success feeding a finicky Ball python by giving it a pre-killed gerbil or two......." Hmph. Anyway, he let the kids take turns with the snake and it made for good photos. I didn't let Lil'Bug take a turn because I didn't know the guy and my gut told me there was something off about him.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


First let me start out by virtually head-smacking myself and doing the big L sign on my forehead. I did a stupid thing. That's what this post is about.

This picture here is BASIL. I took the picture not to brag or document my lovely plant, but to email it to my husband to verify that it is basil so I could confidently add it to my first attempt at from scratch pasta sauce. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a noxious weed I was adding my lovely dinner. His co-workers got a giggle or two out of the overheard conversation. Hmph.nd

So, basil went into sauce and all was well.

Fast forward to today when the lovely Sarah and her clan visited and I was giving them the tour of the garden. My nervous habit of doing something while talking kicked in and I started pulling weeds that were among the plants as I pointed out the plants.

Guess what I did. Yup. I pulled up the basil. By accident. Gah. Oh and the spinach, the lettuce, and I left the weeds.

So I hung it up to dry thinking that I would get to it later. Yeah. No.

Friday, 15 August 2008


A year ago I participated in a garage sale and tried to sell Lil'Bug's outgrown clothes. At that point I had no confidence that we'd get pregnant again, so I sold all the baby stuff (but for a few wishful thinking items). Not everything sold so it was labled and packed up for the next group garage sale.

Fast forward a year later: I have a 3 month old and she's growing fast. I emailed the mama who I thought stored my bins and she did not have them. Agh!

But another mama did. Yay!

So I've been sorting through Lil'Bug's baby clothes, just like I did a year ago but this time with no tears. Last time my heart was breaking thinking we'd never get pregnant again since Lil'Bug was a miracle anyway. This time I am merely regretting all the cute stuff that did sell and sorting by size and wear and season. I'm feeling a bit emotional anyway.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


The zoo. She loves the underwater view bubble. I love her!

She looks so mature in this picture. Like a big girl. Sigh.

Ah! There's my little ham!

She swings for hours and sings songs she makes up. I love that.

She picks me flower arrangements to make me smile. This one is evil orange day lily and lambs ear. Perfect.

Iowa Fair Photos 3

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Iowa Fair Photos 2

Emus attack? They are so cute, just hatching.....

Ok, this bugs me a little bit. The logic is false.
1) Just because it is local does not mean the farmer doesn't use pesticide nor does it mean it is fresher per se.
2) Does not guarantee unique or heirloom varieties.

Just saying....

Buzz buzz.

Delicious! This was the category I entered. These are the winners!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Iowa Fair Photos 1

100 Plants in Our Yard......

The 100 Species Challenge

Otherwise known as why my husband cannot remember where his keys are.....his brain is filled with plant names. Oh my.

1. Participants should include a copy of these rules and a link to this entry in their initial blog post about the challenge.

2. Participants should keep a list of all plant species they can name, either by common or scientific name, that are living within walking distance of the participant's home. The list should be numbered, and should appear in every blog entry about the challenge, or in a sidebar.

3. Participants are encouraged to give detailed information about the plants they can name in the first post in which that plant appears.

4. Participants are encouraged to make it possible for visitors to their blog to find easily all 100-Species-Challenge blog posts. This can be done either by tagging these posts, by ending every post on the challenge with a link to your previous post on the challenge, or by some method which surpasses my technological ability and creativity.

5. Participants may post pictures of plants they are unable to identify, or are unable to identify with precision. They should not include these plants in the numbered list until they are able to identify it with relative precision. Each participant shall determine the level of precision that is acceptable to her; however, being able to distinguish between plants that have different common names should be a bare minimum.

6. Different varieties of the same species shall not count as different entries (e.g., Celebrity Tomato and Roma Tomato should not be separate entries); however, different species which share a common name be separate if the participant is able to distinguish between them (e.g., camillia japonica and camillia sassanqua if the participant can distinguish the two--"camillia" if not).

7. Participants may take as long as they like to complete the challenge.

We opted for a simple list. Dearest sat down, inside, and did it. He didn't even look out the window. Could be said first 35 or so are the plants that make up our "lawn".....just kidding. Sort of.

From Dearest: "We used a limit of within three city blocks 'cause that's what MP remembered the rules being. I think I could get another hundred pretty quickly if I expanded the area a bit. Also, apologies all around - as MP pointed out I missed snapdragons . . ."
  1. kentucky blue grass
  2. rye grass
  3. bindweed
  4. quack grass
  5. plantain
  6. purslane
  7. wandering jew
  8. milkweed
  9. thistle
  10. ragweed
  11. poison ivy
  12. creeping charlie
  13. virginia creeper
  14. mullein (these are good luck!)
  15. dandelion
  16. queen anne's lace
  17. sunflower
  18. woodland violet
  19. millet
  20. locust
  21. mulberry
  22. redbud
  23. clover
  24. horseradish
  25. white oak, burr oak, pin oak
  26. silver maple, red maple, sugar maple
  27. sumac
  28. lily of the valley
  29. ostrich fern
  30. Cinnamon fern
  31. maidenhair fern
  32. bridal wreath
  33. chrysanthemum
  34. peony
  35. "tea roses, wild roses, fairy roses, rugosa roses"
  36. day lily
  37. Asiatic lily
  38. tiger lily
  39. allium (flower onion)
  40. chives
  41. "red onion, yellow onion"
  42. lambs quarter
  43. Egyptian walking onion
  44. bunching onion
  45. "tomatoes - early, pear, brandywine, cherokee"
  46. "peppers - jalapeno, Serrano, green bell pepper, habanero"
  47. spinach
  48. black eyed susan
  49. winter squash
  50. "apple - granny smith, rome beauty"
  51. peach
  52. pear
  53. daisy
  54. lilac
  55. birch
  56. magnolias
  57. Jerusalem artichoke
  58. ribbon grass
  59. hosta
  60. lungwort
  61. basil
  62. mint
  63. veronica
  64. Japanese maple
  65. German bearded iris
  66. Siberian iris
  67. Mexican top hat
  68. staghorn mushroom
  69. celosia
  70. false spirea
  71. lambs ear
  72. burning bush
  73. tulip
  74. daffodil
  75. hyacinth
  76. grape hyacinth
  77. gladiolas
  78. hydrangea
  79. wagelia
  80. moss on the roof!
  81. crabapple
  82. hackberry
  83. honeysuckle
  84. walnut
  85. ash
  86. spider wort
  87. Easter lily
  88. holly
  89. marigold
  90. petunia
  91. spider flower
  92. raspberry
  93. blueberry
  94. tree of heaven
  95. strawberries
  96. boxwood
  97. Indian paintbrush
  98. purple cornflower
  99. bleeding heart
  100. Japanese spurge

Blueberry: Bow? No Bow?

My Kind of Breakfast

Ok, I get that they meant cinnamon rolls..but the bottom marquee says, "ICE CREAM....NOT JUST FOR BREAKFAST ANYMORE....ICECREAM" and that is what caught my eye. Pre children I would eat Mango sorbet for breakfast. I would still do that if it wasn't so darn expensive, oh, and setting a good example blah blah blah.....

Seriously, icecream, cinnamon rolls, and cappuccino is the PERFECT breakfast. Need protien, add bacon.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

August 9th

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Peaches for Me

For the first time since planting the peach tree four years ago, we have peaches. There is nothing like a fresh picked, still warm from the sun peach. Even better is sharing it with a little girl who LOVES peaches.

Her Corn Stick

We had Iowa State Fair Corn Dogs for breakfast. And pineapple whip (which is basically ice cream).

We missed being part of the world record, but we did get in for free and that was a major bonus. We saw dancers, a demonstration bee hive, horses, doll houses, a stage show with cavity goons and a dentist wizard, rode the sky lift thing (yikes), and played in the fountains. All before noon, when we headed home and I fell asleep with the girls.

Good times these. We plan to go back to see the animals on Saturday or Sunday.

Also, I took this picture with my old camera. I didn't want to lug the new one around with me since I was wearing Blueberry on the front, a diaper pack on my back, and holding on to Lil'bug's hand in the crowd. I can tell the difference. Boy oh boy am I camera spoiled. :)

Also, thank you all for the kind emails and comments. I do feel better today.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Jammin' With The State Fair Jam

I did not even place, BUT the judges said all the entries were wonderful and met standards. That meant a lot to me. I entered jam made from Spring crop and fall crop always has more flavor- so next year's will be from a fall crop batch AND with raw sugar instead of all white cane sugar (required by this year's sponsors, gah.).

I got great feed back from watching the competitions. I learned SO much. I also got the chance to explain to Lil'Bug all about "winning":
"Mama, you didn't win."

"Kiddo, yes I did. I may not have the blue ribbon BUT I tried my best, I met all of the requirements, I followed through with my plan and actually entered my jam, I watched the judging, I learned a lot about food canning, and now we get to eat the jam!"

She looked confused.

"Sometimes you get to be a winner because you have a good time and learn new things. You like having fun and learning new things?"

"Well, actually, I like crowns too."

I grinned. She thought I'd get a queen crown for winning the fair? LOL.

Also, I plan on making Christmas gifts from our fall crop. Hope you local mamas like raspberries! ;)

Some Small Thing I Get Cranky About

Age segregation.

As in public school classrooms. As in "enrichment programs" at the library. As in homeschool co-ops.

Why do we group children based on age instead of intellectual ability? The easy answer is "emotional maturity" and I can totally see that with preschool vs. older elementary, to a point because of disruption issues. But I don't understand social promoting just to keep kids with their age group and likewise not grade skipping for kids who are advanced in studies. Why is it such a big deal for a kid to be 11 in highschool? Why do we worry over the 9 year old in the first grade?

Well, because kids will be cruel to each other. That is a huge problem, but I am pretty sure it is not related to age segregation. Cruelty is a product of home life and should be addressed as such instead of ignored or institutionalized.

Ah, but we are homeschooling. We get to avoid such annoyances, yes? No. We were excluded from several activities this summer because of an age cut off. Last summer we couldn't do the canoeing part of a field trip because of Lil'Bug's age even though she had been out on our canoe in bigger waters more times than many of the kids who did get to go. She had proven her ability to handle it, her maturity, and her interest and was still left out. Liability the park ranger said. Ok. But that explanation doesn't hold for the library activities. That's just based on assumptions about how most kids act. Lil'Bug can get excited and run about with the best of 3 year olds, but she also knows how to leave (I know when to leave when she doesn't) if she isn't interested. She has demonstrated civility in group situations. I just wish the world was not so restricted.

Spending time with unschoolers who do not age segregate most of the time is a solution, but only for social and self learning. She really wants to take these classes that her 5-6 year old friends are taking. It is not fair. I wish the classes would list abilities needed to participate instead of "ages 5-10".

Bad Days

Yup. I have 'um. And when the dark clouds descend they are terrible and fierce. I just want to hide. I have a headache, I have tons of work to do, and I still have children and husband to tend to (ie feed and wash clothes for). The world doesn't stop for me, but I want it too.

I am cranky about nothing. I forgot to thaw meat for dinner. My student loans. The bill from the hospital. Laundry detergent. There are not enough hours in the day and if there were more I'd just have more laundry to do. Tornado Tot just went through four of her five nice dresses and got grape Popsicle juice on every last one of them. My shampoo smells funny and doesn't work. I'm hungry and don't want to eat healthy food and there is no junk food in the house. None. What kind of twilight zone am I living in? Gah. See nothing. Nothing. Not a darn thing that I should be so upset about. But I am.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Learning New Things

Today (and last night) I learned:
How to post a YouTube Video. Neat.
Why my diapers were not getting very clean.
How to take apart a washing machine agitator (and then watch Dearest actually do it and technically that was last night).
How to reassemble the agitator with new part installed.

What other chance circumstance will turn my house into cloth diaper hell? So far we've had threat of city wide water shut down (thank God that was avoided), 32 hour power outage (with no AC diaper pail took on a life of its own), and now washing machine breakdown. Gah. The bright side of this last thing, and really a blessing, is that we worked as a team, only spent 6$, and repaired it ourselves within 24 hours. Good times. Also, I could have done it completely by myself, if it were not for my Dearest who enjoys fixing things of this nature. :)

I'm Mr. Heat Blister

I am hot. Melting. I don't usually mind the heat but today I feel unbearable even in front of the AC. The heat index is supposed to top 180, oops, I mean 108 F by 3 pm; cheesy peas, it feels like 180.

Why is it so hot? Well, it is Iowa and this is State Fair week (starts Thursday), though forecast has it back to cool (85/60 as the high/low with a breeze). Ha. I bet it rains lava instead. Seriously though, we get so hot and humid here because of the corn. We have lots of corn.
I keep singing the lyrics to one of my favorite Christmas songs. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performs it on their Christmas Album.

Lyrics to Heat Miser Song

(Heat Miser in bold, chorus in italics)

I'm Mister Green Christmas
I'm Mister Sun
I'm Mister Heat Blister
I'm Mister Hundred and One
They call me Heat Miser,
What ever I touch
Starts to melt in my clutch
I'm too much!

He's Mister Green Christmas
He's Mister Sun
He's Mister Heat Blister
He's Mister Hundred and One

They call me Heat Miser,
What ever I touch
Starts to melt in my clutch

He's too much!

Thank you!
I never want to see a day
That's under sixty degrees
I'd rather have it eighty,
Ninety, one hundred degrees!
Oh, some like it hot, but I like it
REALLY hot! Hee hee!

He's Mister Green Christmas
He's Mister Sun

Sing it!

He's Mister Heat Blister
He's Mister Hundred and One

They call me Heat Miser,
What ever I touch
Starts to melt in my clutch
I'm too much!

Too Much!

August 4th

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Good Luck MamaP!

Today mama podkayne entered her world famous raspberry jam in the Iowa State Fair! She did this despite myriad events conspiring to make it not happen.

Good Luck MP - we're proud of you!


Friday, 1 August 2008

August 1

Peppers, peaches, Table Ace squash, tomatoes, peas.