Move on down the road

•February 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

We’re well established now in the homeschool curriculum we’ve been using for the past few years. We did shake it up a bit when we added a science class at the local classical school this past semester. It was a successful experiment, and now we’re back to our science class with a local homeschooling family. In our own classes at home, we use Math-U-See for math ūüôā It’s a great curriculum for someone with dyslexia, since it provides manipulatives, and requires you to use them for the problems. Then we use an online curriculum called K12 -which has a wide variety of classes from which to choose. We’ve used their Literature, Science, History – all were a positive experience, but we’ve stuck only with their literature – doing the others cooperatively with other families. History and Science are much more fun with a crowd!

At the moment, we’re reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – a beautiful book that I’ve heard about but never had the chance to read. So many parallels to life! Nature, having a contrary disposition, thinking negatively – all subjects addressed beautifully in a way that captures the imagination. So fun that I read the whole thing ahead of schedule ūüôā E’s reading has radically taken off the past few months – and the love of reading which we’ve worked at establishing these past 12 years seems to not only have taken root but rapidly sprouted new branches. We’ve nurtured it with nightly read-aloud and constant availability of audiobooks. Seems to have worked, since each morning finds him in front of the library bookshelf, in search of another good read.

Checking Out Strange Birds

•January 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

We moved to a new state, and have been curious about the types of birds that would show up at our feeder this year.  I usually put out seeds during the winter, and in Boston, we got downy woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays and your Imagerun of the mill sparrows.  This year we have a nice view of our back deck from the home school room Рso I decided to splurge and put out a heated bird bath.  Eeya, now in his third year of home school, suddenly became interested in my project, and has been actively participating.  I had read that you can provide water to the birds during the winter, and they appreciate it.  Wow, did they!  Our deck has become a regular songbird spa!  I put out thistle seeds in small feeders and an Eastern Bird mix in a larger feeder and have gotten a wide variety of birds that I knew existed in Boston, but had never seen.  The first couple to show up were a tiny pair of red house finches, otherwise known as Mexican finches.

Enjoying little things

•July 28, 2011 • 1 Comment

A little shell-shocked from all the decisions this year!¬† Lost track of the blog trying to make good ones.¬† As a result, I am now home-schooling my son – a daunting, yet wonderful task.¬† Much time has gone into researching books, types of teaching, approaches, homeschooling communities and support systems. We’ve spent a lot of time this summer trying out different schedules, books, online methods – so we can have an approach by the time we “really” begin in September.¬† All in all, we’re both enjoying it, and are finding it an extremely exhilarating approach to learning. Yes, it’s really just an extension of what we began with gardening…still messing with dirt.¬† All the change was disruptive, so we’re also spending time this summer enjoying the beach, ice cream, playing with the dog and generally recharging our batteries for the new school year. We took advantage of a burst water pipe to have the plumber finally install our built-in fridge ice-maker.¬† We all giggle every time we run down to the kitchen to get a glass of ice water (cubed or crushed, what a luxury!)…thank God for little blessings.

Life is but a tissue of habits -Henri Frederic Amie- (so make good ones -me-)

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Ah yes, habits.¬† I’m so disciplined at maintaining good ones, but all it seems to take is a few weeks away, and it becomes so difficult to pick the habit up again!¬† Well, a few weeks away during the end of July is all it took for our garden to become an untamed jungle.¬† A swollen disc in my spine upon our return did not help the matter at all, as what was required was tons of weeding.¬† We made the best of it, and weeded out the greatest monsters around the tomatoes, and beans, enjoying the fruits of what was able to survive. We did end up getting a good amount of pear shaped yellow tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchinis (of course), and pole beans.¬† Now that we’ve gone through the first year, we’ll probably plant less next spring, concentrating on arugula, lettuce, tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers.¬† Our trusty fence did make it through, and protected our already weed-challenged crop from any additional damage!¬† Looks like raised boxes next year, filled with weed-seed-free dirt.¬† Without the challenge of weeds growing at 10 times the rate of the plants one wants, we may be able to concentrate on some other aspects of the gardening that are more enjoyable. In the meantime, what will I write about? I decided to expand the scope of my blog to include other aspects of the creative life – like photography, our new puppy, baking, knitting, painting, weaving, and other things I get my hands into (and that I get my son into!).¬† Ergo – the change of title on the blog. Bis spater (until later)!

A Red-Bellied Woodpecker

•July 7, 2010 • 2 Comments

The heat has driven us to visit the garden only in the wee-early hours of the morning, when it is comfortable enough to work for an hour or two, without fainting! ¬†In addition to our usual little house-wren, singing to us from his post, today we were visited by a red-bellied woodpecker (if I have identified him correctly), and a hummingbird. ¬†I wondered if there were hummingbirds in this area, as I had never actually spotted one. ¬†I saw him only quickly, and he looked like a speckled brown – I’ll have to see him a few more times before I speculate on what type of hummingbird he is… ¬†The woodpecker surprised me with his size, at least the size of a small seagull, and quite beautifully marked, with a ladder pattern down his back. ¬†Watering was in order today, with yesterday having been (hopefully) the hottest day of summer at over 100 degrees F. ¬†The plants looked great though, and unstressed. ¬†We’re getting a few ripe tomatoes, some cukes and radishes, which we’ll make into a quick pickle, and a nice bunch of yellow bush beans. ¬†Life is good.

Time flies when you have children (and when you’re having fun)

•July 5, 2010 • 1 Comment

Papa has finally come to believe that no wild beasts will breach our amazing fence and chicken-wired gate. ¬†This means that he’s now suddenly taking an interest in our garden. ¬†He spent a few hours with us earlier this month building this beautiful support for the pole beans. ¬†They wasted no time in climbing to the tippy top, and now he must return to fortify his structure. ¬†Eeya has kept me away from my computer, now that he’s free on summer vacation. ¬†That has meant no posts recently, though the garden has kept us busy. ¬†We have had a regular supply for a month now of arugula, leaf lettuce, radishes and basil – and just now we should be ready to pick the first beans. ¬†The plants have truly exploded in growth, and there are huge bright yellow blossoms on our zucchini’s and cukes. ¬†The weeds grow about 4x as fast as the plants, and we regularly spend most of our garden time tearing them out. ¬†The House Wren meets us on every visits, firmly planting himself on the farthest corner post of our garden, and entertaining us with his beautiful warbling during our toil. ¬†Something wild visited and tried to dig under our fence, but didn’t get very far. ¬†It was so annoyed that it proceeded to strip the leaves off every marigold around the perimeter of our garden! ¬†Glad we spent all that time digging the trench.

When You Have a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

•May 25, 2010 • 2 Comments

Photo: Andrew Brookes / Corbis | Source: CNN

So now that we have our garden paradise, suddenly everywhere I look, people are talking about gardening and gardening with children. ¬†Here’s a snippet of what I’ve recently run into: ¬†Another blogger, liked by a friend on Facebook, whose postings are quite varied and I’ve enjoyed at The Gardener’s Eden. ¬†I especially enjoyed a recent entry about homemade pizza with Arugula and Asparagus – the veggies which are now almost ready in the garden. ¬†I’m amazed at how many of the other gardeners in our little community garden are growing asparagus! ¬†It seems like quite a process – starting with digging a huge trench – one which I’ll save for a later year. ¬†Then of course there’s Johnny’s Selected Seeds, the amazing place up in Maine which provides me with some of my more exotic and heirloom seeds. ¬†I adore the teaching videos on their site – they were so helpful to me in these first phases of getting the garden going, and I’m finding myself constantly referring to the individual plant care and growth information in their printed catalogue. Then on¬†BostonMamas.com, there was recently a nice commentary on the joys of gardening with children by Boston Mama Christine Koh. ¬†I heartily agree with her suggestion to keep it simple, let the kids help choose what to plant, and don’t worry too much about seeds going this and that way, they’ll probably grow anyway! ¬†She also gave out some great links to Real Simple’s ideas on having a small garden or even container gardening which we used to practice on our roof deck in Charlestown, overlooking the Boston Harbor and downtown. ¬†Finally, the fine artist in me must mention a wonderful icon painter named David Clayton, who will be teaching a unique summer course called The Way of Beauty Atelier at Thomas More College, and recently had a post on gardening and how it relates to man’s relationship to God and nature. ¬†So what are you waiting for? ¬†Get out there and plant a seed!

A Bit of Mexican-American Gothic

•May 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

Our newly made gate

Looking at this photo of Mama and Papa in front of our newly constructed garden gate brought to mind the “American Gothic” painting by Grant Wood, which is apparently one of the most parodied images of our time. ¬†I’ll have to get the garden pitchfork out of the shed, and re-pose them – really do a nicer job of it – this was just a quick snap with the iphone. Papa, of course would fit right into the painting, but Mama, is the more multi-cultural version. ¬†Her Mexican heritage is reflected in some of our plants. ¬†Hot peppers and several tomatillo bushes will (hopefully) provide us with some of our favorite flavors this summer. ¬†The “Tomatillo de Milpa” which I chose, apparently grows almost as a weed on the edges of corn crops in Mexican towns. ¬†I tried it a few years ago in our community garden in Charlestown, MA and was blessed with a bounty of tiny, tangy purple green tomatoes that were bursting with flavor, and froze beautifully. ¬†We’ve reached the ever-important marker of Memorial Day Weekend – or, no more danger of frost (right?)! ¬†Since the weather has been practically summer-like, we’ve gone ahead and slowly transplanted our newly hardened off seedlings this week. ¬†I’m crossing my fingers that my delicate little seedlings will survive, without me around to protect them from the wind, and bring them into the house at night. ¬†I truly experience separation anxiety today, after we transplanted the last of them, and I had to close the gate, and walk away, leaving them to fend for themselves. And those are just seedlings that I planted 3 weeks ago. ¬†Thank goodness it’ll be at least another 12 years or so before I send Eeya off into the world.

“Then You’ll Hear All Summer Long Their Bubbly Chitter-Chattering Song”

•May 18, 2010 • 5 Comments

The House Wren

That’s a line from the “House Wren Poem” by Erica Stux, which is printed in her book ‘The Wonder of Wings’ – meant to get kids interested in birds. ¬†I did not imagine that having a garden would get me more interested in songbirds, but it is difficult to resist when this tiny mouse-brown scamp meets me each time I go to the garden, and serenades me with a gorgeous, rolling twittering song. ¬†He actually seems to come closer, and perch on a post or fence nearby, and watch us as he sings. ¬†I lifted this image from a bird website so you could see how cute the House Wren is, but I’ll make certain to try to capture him with my own camera, perching jauntily on his rusty fence. ¬†The variety of birds that is present near the garden is astounding, and has made me interested in trying to attract a wider variety of birds to our home. We’ve had cardinals, downy woodpeckers, finches and bluejays – but apparently the variety that exists even here in New England is beyond my limited knowledge, as represented in this garden near our home. Today’s garden visit was a quick one, and Eeya eagerly grabbed his watering can and raced around watering all the rows of newly planted seeds. ¬†The pole beans are all coming up now, and our transplants are settling in well. ¬†I’m placing lots of faith in the old adage “Good fences make good neighbors”. ¬†I had never thought of it in terms of woodchucks and deer – but as more and ¬†more time and labor is invested in our little patch of garden, the thought of those little animals feasting on my tender young shoots is pretty terrifying. I reminded Eeya that we’ll line the back of the garden with his sunflowers, and he stated with a satisfied smile “See mommy? ¬†I have really good ideas.”

How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck if a Woodchuck Could Chuck Wood?

•May 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

Watering the plants

Well, your answer is really in the question isn’t it? ¬†Woodchucks don’t actually do anything with wood – I looked it up anyway just to make sure, and discovered that “Woodchucks are groundhogs. The ‘wood’ in woodchuck has nothing to do with wood. It’s from the Algonquin name for the critter, ‘wuchak’.” (Thanks you, oh google oracle) ¬†So there you go – another legend shattered. ¬†We spotted our resident woodchuck for the first time today. ¬†I saw something slowly moving along the fence, and went closer, thinking it was a large cat – much to my surprise it was him – an enormous woodchuck! ¬†I thought they were cute little things the size of Guinea Pigs – no this guy was the size of a small bulldog. ¬†I hope 1 1/2 feet was deep enough for our fence… ¬†We’re quite enjoying the wildlife as we garden. ¬†Today, Mama, Eeya and I planted some seeds, and watered some rows we had planted yesterday. ¬†During the hour we were there we were visited by a bluejay, the woodchuck, a chipmunk, a monarch butterfly, and our dear little House Wren, to whom I am extremely attached. ¬†A week ago he visited us for the first time, serenading us with his beautiful song from one of our fence posts, just a few feet above our heads. ¬†Our presence doesn’t seem to disturb him in the least, and he seems to actually approach and visit each time we’re there. ¬†Eeya was especially engaged in garden activity today, and was thrilled when I handed him a large watering can and gave him free reign with the spigot. ¬†He happily filled it over and over again, watering all my little marigold seedlings around the perimeter of the garden, and also all the seeds we just planted. ¬†I caught this nice shot of him in action, the watering can is almost as big as he is!