Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter weekend

Sylvia and I made organic 'peep'-style marshmallows. We basically adapted this recipe. We didn't have chick or bunny shaped molds, so we used our heart and star shaped molds.  We used organic cane sugar and gelatin and tinted the sugar coating with frozen blueberries, finely grated carrots, cranberry juice, and spirulina.  
They turned out so very sweet and so very good.


Sylvia and Camille helped with bike tune-ups. Then we took advantage of a sunny day to head out on the rails-to-trails bike path near our home for our first family bike ride of the year.
We stopped to listen to the spring peepers calling from the wetlands,
and we enjoyed ice cream cones at the park for our destination before heading back.


Then we got ready for my parents visit over Easter weekend.
We strolled the bike trails with them,
down through the tunnel,

and got a drink at the well pump along the trail.
Camille worked hard to get it flowing.

We enjoyed tons of yummy food (from homemade pizza and fish tacos to dreamsicle salad and apple pecan cake) and an Easter service at the historic country church near us.

The girls had a blast playing games with Gigi on her tablet.

They searched for Easter baskets filled with chocolate bunnies, organic jelly beans and lollies, and these little crocheted bunnies. As well as eggs hidden all over the house with a quarter (or two) in each one
We had a great visit and a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and now the girls are coming down from all of the excitement and sugar....

4th birthday! (and yet more snow)


Last week, just as little seedlings in trays were brightening up the windows and it seemed like spring had come to stay, we got another big snow storm.

  Well, I guess it's time to make a snowduck,
 with echinacea seedheads for eyes and a tangerine bill.
 There's some green out there to admire.

No amount of snow was going to dampen the joy of Ayla's fourth birthday. We celebrated simply with the family.  Ayla got a homemade card from Sylvia and a felt giraffe that Camille designed and sewed for her.
 
The giraffe was later named Marigold Silver and lovingly brought around for little adventures in the yard.

 I had made her rainbow wings, a unicorn hat, and a prairie girl dress and pinafore to add to her beloved dress-up collection

 She enthusiastically took flight around the yard as a rainbow unicorn pegasus prairie girl!


 
 
Camille had a play rehearsal for Macbeth with the homeschool group, so we had a delicious birthday lunch at the natural foods co-op in town and browsed the local yarn store where Ayla declared every single skein in the store to be sooo beautiful.
She wanted a store-bought cake for the first time and decided that this s'mores cake with cherries and sprinkles was just the one.
 This funny, loving, spritely little one has such a creative (and enthusiastic) way of learning about and interacting with her world and the people and animals in it.  I am so grateful to see her smile first thing in the morning and to feel her little arms snuggle me tightly last thing before sleep.  I love being her Mama and sharing this life with her and her sisters and Papa.

Happy fourth birthday, Miss Ayla Fern!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

the arrival of spring weather

It's been another few weeks since I posted, so I have loads more pictures of our little everyday joys, explorations, and learning journeys to share here.  In the meantime, winter and spring danced back and forth until spring decidedly took the lead. We welcomed her with open arms!
The grand thaw caused rivers and creeks to swell. Every time we had reason to go out and about (for groceries, library materials, etc), we found somewhere new to stop and play or marvel and poke about and take deep gulps of the moist spring air,
 like this covered bridge along the bicycle path,
and this climbing structure at the park.

Camille wanted to make homemade tortillas and has been gracing us with her many kitchen exploits lately. Yum. These ones were later topped with beans, cheese, and veggies and then baked in the oven.

The thaw hasn't quite hit everywhere yet, like this stretch of bike path leading into a tunnel under the railroad tracks.

egg collecting

edible (but yucky) 'fizzing brain' experiment
(from a candy science kit that Camille bought on discount after Halloween)

plating pea seeds outdoors and many more starts indoors

We've seen wind and sun, snow and hail, fog and lightning, and warm 70 (F) degree days all in the last three weeks.

Sylvia started back up with her ballet class.

We dressed up and joined some wonderful unschooling friends for a spring fling dance, and Camille got roses from her sweetheart.  Awww. They spent half of the dance playing chess together :)

There was plenty of time for running around in the sunshine and more dancing into the evening.

Our little ducklings are getting big and venturing out in the garden during the daytime.


We went to a lovely potluck and family folk dance with our homechool co-op, 

and then joined some of them the very next day for a great discussion, lunch, and book club about the book, Son, by Lois Lowry.

Camille has had a couple of penpals over the years. One of her current penpals has a younger sibling who also wanted a penpal and Sylvia was excited to write her very own first letter.

After five days in a row of fun, busy, out-and-about, we were happy to have some days to be home!
Ayla's idea of 'princess dress-up' includes this fierce bear-pirate-princess.  I love that.

"I can do it all by my own!"

happy duckies

I don't require that my children do chores, and (maybe because of that fact) they are usually eager to help out.
*photo by Sylvia
"Mama, can I help turn the compost?"
Of course!
muddy, sandy play

clipping and hauling weeds from around our lavender, roses, and currants

wheeeeeling




colorful

practicing for a spring band concert

hidden pictures

gluten-free breaded tilapia tacos on homemade corn tortillas with avocado and quinoa salad
courtesy of Camille

What else? Master Chef Junior (on Hulu), Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated (on Netflix), Dung Beetle Derby (on National Geographic Kids), Duck Life 4 (on Coolmath Games), face painting and zumba pajama party with Girl Scouts, hand clapping games like Miss Mary Mack, Say, Say Oh Playmate, and Down by the Banks, sewing and crocheting in preparation for a 4th birthday, digging a duck pond, reading about ducks, Macbeth, Sojourner Truth, Lois Lowry biography, World War II, poetry, animals of the world, and engineering projects,  also a bit of the stomach flu, and learning to handle disappointment graciously. 




Oh, and dying our hens' eggs with thrifted silk ties.





It's a full, thriving, messy, sparkly, earthy, up-and-down, kind of unschooling life,



and I'm so grateful for it.