Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter Flamenco Recital

We just had our annual winter recital last weekend. This time I sewed myself two new costumes!

Kevin, Beth, and Emma were kind enough to show up to our dress rehearsal to take some video for me. I have several videos of past performances and I use them to see where I'm in need of improvement, but thanks to Kevin's camera skills this one's good enough to share! Keep in mind that this is intermediate level dancing. It's not meant to be an example of great flamenco dancing (for those of you "aficionados" who find my blog through an internet search and want to make a snarky comment about the quality of the dancing). But for my family and friends who want to see what I'm up to, have at it.

Oh, and Kevin IS allowed to make snarky comments. That's part of our arrangement.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Learning happens

All the time!

Here are some of the kids' experiences within the last week. Mind you, these are only the ones I actually managed to photograph.

Eliza has been very interested in painting recently.

Here she is surfing the web. That's right, at 4 years old she knows how to get to some of her favorite bookmarked websites and how to navigate the sites. She doesn't read yet, but she is recognizing several words that help her navigate around. Note that her Pikachus really enjoy surfing with her.

Both kids have been picking up our various instruments regularly and really enjoy feeling them out and making up their own songs. They also like to accompany Chris while he plays and I sing. (Side note--I have started learning some chords on the guitar too! This inspires the kids to want to learn as well.) Scotty likes the bass and the cello. Eliza likes the piano, and both like the guitars.

I was recently given the wonderful gift of my late grandmother's sewing machine and it turns out that it's a great gift for Scotty too! Who knew there were gears and eccentrics inside? Of course he immediately figured out how it all worked and intuitively knew where I was supposed to oil it (I checked the manual--he was right!)

Chris has been busy working on the next phase of his shop. Here he and Scotty are building a wood rack so that Chris can move his stacks of lumber out of the shop and into permanent storage-finally!

A bit of winter

We had a light flurry a few weeks ago. It wasn't until Thanksgiving that it even started to get cold here. With our passive solar design we were still reaching 77F inside the house, and we even had to shut the shades a few times to keep from overheating. But now we have settled into a more average weather pattern. It's been freezing at night for some time now and lately the highs have been in the 40's and 50's. More clouds have meant not as much solar gain, which is hard on our PV system and keeps the house on the cool side. But we still haven't needed to light a fire in the woodstove yet (our only source of backup heat). We're hoping to make it till Christmas this year.


Every year we look forward to Marilyn's annual Thanksgiving feast. Marilyn is Chris' mom, and she's also the best cook I have ever known. She is an inspiration because she creates the most amazing food and seems to really love doing it too.

With Barry's very qualified help, they please the eye as well as the palate.

No wonder we all come back every year!

Play till you drop

We have a couple of new families in our homeschooling group! One night last month one of the families came down to the farm for an evening. The kids played together so well and had a great time. They literally just kept going and going until they all passed out. Here's the aftermath:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

OK, I give up

Several times I have tried to update my blog and have been interrupted for one reason or another. I wanted to do a Halloween post and some more farm posts, and now it's past Thanksgiving already and I am so hopelessly behind that at this point I'm just going to have to give you some photos, in no particular order, of our lives during the last month. Go ahead and fill in the blanks with your imagination, and if you have any questions please ask in the comments section!

Here are the photos, uploaded in between stints at the sink with the dishes:

New pets

Halloween park day

Monday, October 22, 2007

Eli has a friend

When we visited Touch the Earth Farm on the trip Eli and Jules really bonded. Eli also fell in love with one of Jules' Pokemon toys. Imagine her surprise and delight when Jules decided to send her the Pokemon and a pretty dress to wear! Thank you Julia! Plusle hasn't left Eli's side since she arrived.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Since arriving home we have been enjoying the orchard tremendously. We have a bumper crop of apples this year and we have been eating, baking, and pressing apples. The cider is heavenly.

The cows always take notice when we visit the orchard. Yum!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Homeward Bound

We took five days to leisurely drive home from Minneapolis. Cashing in on the rest of our credit card rewards, we stayed in nice hotels along the way for free!

Here are some photos of our last night, ending the trip as it began with Beth and Emma six weeks before at the Courtyard in Amarillo, TX.

Once again we ate at Joe's Crab Shack, where Eliza got to paint a crab again and really wished that Emma was there with her.

And this time I even managed to get a photo of the Texas shaped waffle! We never saw anything like this in any of the other 19 states we visited. That's Texas for you! Sorry it was upside down on the plate--I guess if I really wanted to I could flip it but I'm not going to.

We returned home on a Monday afternoon and when we passed the school near our house the odometer read 6,292 miles. Now that's an education!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lovely Minneapolis

As I write this a month later, I consider our time in Minneapolis as the perfect ending to a great journey. Both of my sisters live in fair Mpls but only one of them was home when we visited. Although I was sad not to see Mik and Mac while we were there, it was also our good fortune that she was away because we were able to stay in her apartment just a block away from the Dunks (sister Ali and brother in law Rob, cousins Alex and Gracie). I have a lot of photos from this time but for once those aren't as important as what actually happened, which was a whole lot of Not Much. We spent ten days in Mik's apartment, usually joining the Dunks in the evening but not always. They have busy lives and we were definitely a disruption, but our time together was wonderful. We caught the zoo and the science museum and IKEA and watched lots of movies at home. For me, our time in Mpls was very valuable because I was able to slow waaaaaay down and spend a lot of time just thinking, being, and processing everything that had come before. I gained some insights into what I needed and wanted to do when I returned home and by the time we left all three of us were centered and ready to return. I'll always have fond memories of my morning dash out for Caribou coffee while the kids watched videos in the apartment and the late night movie watching at the Dunks. An unremarkable, quite remarkable time.

This here is something that only happens to me and my sister. On our first night we tried to open a bottle of wine and the whole neck broke off! We had to strain it through the coffee strainer to drink it (you didn't think we would pour it down the drain, did you?)

The girls got along pretty well, although Eli was more interested in her big cousin Alex than in playing with Gracie, who is only 16 days older.

The boys had a good time comparing their Photo Booth creations.

A rare photo op where the whole gang was together.

Museum visit. It was 89 degrees that day and two days later it was in the low 50's. Ahh, the Midwest.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A time to rest

Every time we visit my dad in Wisconsin it is restful and easy, but this time we really needed it! A lovely house in a small town with pretty gardens, a great view, and everything we need awaited us after weeks on the road.

And the company was pretty great too! Dad and Ann really make an effort to relate to us, unconventional as we are, and they welcome us without judgment. Sometimes I forget how lucky we are that our parents support our very non-mainstream choices, but then I see the struggles that some of my friends have with their parents and I am reminded. We are so lucky that Dad and Ann, Mom, Marilyn and Barry, and Scott and Maria give us so much support and love as we head down our path! We know that you may not agree with everything we do, but your support is there nonetheless. It means so much to us.

Dad in fact is so pleased with what we are doing that he invited a bunch of his friends over to meet me and the kids! What a lovely evening that was.

All this despite the crazy road construction on their street. I hope you have pavement soon! Thanks for a great visit--it was just what we needed.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


After Niagara we did the longest drive of the trip, from Buffalo to South Bend, IN. We spent the night in South Bend and lucked into the most delicious pizza delivery! If you are ever in South Bend, Bruno's Pizza is a must.

The next morning we made the short drive into Chicago just to see our favorite museum, the Museum of Science and Industry. This was always my favorite growing up and the kids were there two years ago and loved it.

Scotty loved this just as much in 2005

as he did this time.

Eliza got crafty and she wrote her name and Emma's name on her creation.

One of the exhibits there is sponsored by all the big agrobusiness corporations and goes on and on about how great mechanized agriculture is. I have to admit, the real John Deere combine harvester they have there is one impressive machine. Scotty just loved it.

You could sit up in the cab and get an idea of what it is like to drive one of these monsters.

I was already feeling icky about the whole thing and then I saw this:

It's an automatic cow milking machine. No flesh to flesh contact whatsoever. Ugh--this just makes me feel sad and hopeless. How are we to survive as a species if we keep inserting so much technology into our relationships with each other and with nature? I feel the same about this as I did about the baby carrier I blogged about HERE.

Anyhow, despite my problems with the Ag exhibit we always love this museum and we were very happy to be there. After we left we had an easy drive to Wisconsin where we happily arrived at my Dad's house, ready for some R&R.