Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter Water Color Idea

This is a fairly simple water color painting to do and it's so filled with winter light. We soak our water color paper and make sure it's not too wet before painting. I wipe mine down with a paper towel. Use good quality water color paints such as Stockmar and good brushes. Working with the light, outline the trees with the blue, create a moon by removing more color with a dryer brush and lift the paint away to create the rays as well. We discovered when turned one way it was a snowy forest but flipped it was an icicle cover cave entrance! Have fun!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Oliver love to look up through the branches

My great grandmother's ornaments

My grandmother's manger

Friday, November 30, 2012

Grandma's Paradise Pumpkin Pie and a Squirrel House?

For months they've carved out gourds, laid leaves, swept beneath the shrubs and trees to create this sweet space they call the squirrel house. Like something out of a Beatrix Potter story, everything speaks of simplicity and nature. The "rooms" all belong to and are decorated by a different child from the "Shire". The beautiful intention behind each placed item is just beyond precious. A secret space right beneath our noses but only visible from the child's perspective. Take a closer look and they reveal their hearts to those who seek.

And now for that delicious Paradise Pumpkin Pie recipe!

One 8oz pkg cream cheese
1/4c sugar
1/2tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2c canned pumpkin
1/2c sugar
1/4tsp nutmeg
1tsp ground ginger
1c evaporated milk
2 eggs slightly beaten

Beat first four ingredients together and pour into 9"unbaked crust (see recipe for coconut cream pie for all-butter pie crust). Mix remaining ingredients and pour over top, I swirl it in. Drizzle with maple syrup and bake at 375 until set (about an hour).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tutor for Hire!

The beautiful curriculum I'm using for Molly this year belongs to Karen Holt. I'm so lucky to have her as a dear friend and neighbor. She taught at the Davis Waldorf School for 15 years and is an incredible resource for Waldorf or mainstream teaching styles. If you are a homeschooling parent or the parent of a child that is in need of a little extra tutoring, you can reach out to Karen through my Moms Support Circle on Facebook and I'll be sure to get you in contact! 

Finished maps!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homeschooling Side Effect, My House is a Classroom!

Throughout the week it builds: piles of paper, unfinished projects, pencil shavings, books and... cups? Yes, they are on every surface! I't the homeschooling side effect. I like to use part of Friday to tidy so we don't spend our whole weekend, as a family, just cleaning up. I need a fresh palette so I can be peaceful and clear when planning the next weeks curriculum. Halloween needs to be put away, laundry caught up, floors vacuumed and all the other piles sorted and organized. It's raining in the Shire today. Perfect, music goes on, cinnamon-apple sausage cookin', fall color paintin' and wrappin' up the classroom!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Maple Candy




Pics of the kids working on the candy in my previous post!

Maple Candy!

A light mist was hanging above the communal garden this morning; crows were everywhere. I was careful under the pecan trees so not to be hit on the head by falling husks or the nut itself. The trees are begining to flame and the Shire is once again glowing with color. Turnips are tall and greens are luscious, perfect for hot soup. Molly's been studying Canada so we made some maple candy today! Hot  and bubbly, sweet and smokey was the sap of the tree. The kids helped stir and check the temperature as we watched the color and consistency change. I love to cook for science! Check the recipe section!
Oliver stirring the hot, bubbly sweetness!
Molly's turn with her beautiful apron.
Thick and creamy

No candy mold so we made do

This is so easy, just a little pricey! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day for the Dead

The chaos of Halloween has passed and a stillness has set in. Tonight, we celebrate our loved ones on the other side. This is the first time of the season that I've allowed it to sink deep and it's left me feeling soft, peaceful...reflective. All the voices can still be heard; their perfumes smelled. They always feel close this time of year and even show up in dreams nightly. Whether it's the change of season that brings on this nostalgia or if the veil has thinned enough that my grandma really did give me that hug, I still felt it and still heard her say how good it was to see me. Flesh of my flesh, blood of my are always with me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Here Comes the Rain

The clouds have blanketed the Shire keeping it cool today. The house is cozy; filled with candlelight and the smell of apple crisp baking. I set up our alter for those that have passed on top of the piano which is always and emotional experience. Touching each item to carefully place them and remembering a voice, a smell. We are having family dinner night and everyone is bringing a dish to share. We've missed this tradition and have decided to get it going again. The kids especially love the rhythm  of gathering around the table with as many family members that can make it and sharing a meal and stories. You get so disconnected so quickly. Busy with our own lives, we forget to show up for one another. In my little house, we crowd together which makes the laughter that much more contagious, and we remember just how lucky we are. It may not be perfect, in fact it's quite messy at times, but we are family and that is just the best.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grandma's One Bowl Apple Cake

I remember my grandma accidentally putting soy sauce instead of vanilla in this recipe. She was so embarrassed and having witnessed her do it, she knew I would never let it go! Hope she is chuckling as I write this. I love you grandma and miss you so.

One Bowl Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 350
Grease and flour a square pan or round cake pan

In a bowl mix:
2 cups chopped apples ( I leave the skin on)
1 cup sugar

Mix in:
1/4 cup oil

Mix in:
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup walnuts

Bake for about 40-45 minutes
Cut into squares when cooled and dust with powdered sugar

Monday, October 8, 2012


Wearing Michael's gear to celebrate the Wolfpack win!

Molly eating her apple dumpling from the bake shop at Larsen's

Many tears after his mama said no (too cute, though!)

The second oldest business in the country, right next door is the 1st
A beautiful day yesterday, we picked two boxes of apples with our friends and walked around old historic Placerville before heading home. It finally feels like fall with our apples simmering away on the stove. The kids used the apple peeler/corer/slicer making little apple slinkys to fill our big cooking pot. Apple sauce and apple butter are on their way!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Kind of Calm

Today was the first time where I actually questioned if I'd done enough. After an early doctors appointment, my energy wasn't as up as it has been for school. I found myself trying to make up for the lack of energy by, of course, doing MORE. Crazy, but that's how it went today. I could go down the list of things we did but I feel like that's just me trying to prove I'm worthy to whoever ends up reading this which means I really haven't accepted that I did enough. OK, I did enough! Now I can let it go knowing I've done my best. Molly's at her singing class, Oliver's playing football with his friends and I'm enjoying the change of light that's filtering through the drying grape leaves...just relaxing. Tomorrow is a new day with fresh possibility and to know that there will be days that won't be so inspiring, they'll just be. To just be, it is good.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Time is Flying, and Yes, I'm Having Fun!

Another week has flown by. Everything has fallen into place so beautifully. Science and renaissance art class taught by a Waldorf teacher on Monday, a Michaelmas celebration by the river with our new friends on Wednesday and another one on Friday at the Davis school followed by play practice and we're looking forward to the Vintage Festival in Sonoma tomorrow for the grape stomp! Boredom, not part of the picture in our new homeschooling world. We've begun studying ancient Persia and talked about Socrates and Homer. Oliver picked up the Illiad at the library the other day since he's so fascinated with the Trojan war. Molly drew a picture of the Buddha and wrote the eight fold path in her main lesson book. In trade for using our laundry room, Oliver's teacher from the last three years has offered some tutoring...perfect. Next week, they start martial arts twice a week and finish preparing for the play they'll be performing October 13th at the farmers market. Oliver's the rapping tree and Molly's a carbon dioxide. Not stressed, time is ours, we decide and all is well. Everything I hoped and more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Not a Race

So, I plan the day and then let it fall where it may. I used to feel the pressure to complete everything I thought we could accomplish and it often would lead to meltdowns on either my part or the kids. Now I use my plan as a general guideline, letting the mood and interest dictate what we finish. Some ideas get scrapped entirely and other's are born. Rather than crossing off a list, we can take detours when inspiration strikes. Today's detour included the poisoning of Socrates and the familiar plant that was used. Oliver finished his main lesson book entry on the Trojan War and Molly battled through her inability to perfect her lotus flower for Brahma. We practiced the use of verbs and helper verbs, touched in on long division, multiplication, word problems, decimals and percents. I read to them about Greek history and the Buddha's eightfold path to enlightenment. They practiced vocabulary from their journal entries about their trip to Fern Canyon. Now they're playing chess. You know how long this all took? About two hours, no kidding. It's amazing how much you can get done at home and it really can be fun!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yay for Autumn!

The grape leaves are turing that beautiful burnt orange while the birds feast on the over ripe grapes. Michael took out the worn down sunflowers and scattered the seeds for next year. Molly and a friend took an "adventure" to the pear orchard yesterday, picking over sixty of the crisp green beauties. Everything is so quiet and contemplative here in the Shire today. Every now and again the silence is broken by birds that rustle the drying leaves outside the window. Remnants of yesterdays Mabon ritual still out to enjoy. Everything is dry, seed-filled, red, orange and brown. There will be a harvest dinner in the Shire this evening and everyone brings such delicious dishes to share. I'm quite certain there will be squash! This week, we'll continue ancient India studies and Greek history. I'm learning to not be SO organized. I'm learning to pay attention to what is resonating and let the children lead me. At the end of the week, we head to Sonoma for the annual Vintage Festival where they get in a barrel and stomp some grapes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Letting it Come

Anyone can memorize facts but what about feeling? With our trip up the coast I've watched as the children experienced the beauty of their surroundings. Oliver ran like Peter Pan through Fern Canyon, Molly took over 130 pictures, most of them fungi. They've journaled, they've laughed, they've read and wondered. We had quiet reading in front of the fire and I've read Frances Mayes in bed with Molly. Right now, I can see them running around the beach that sits at the base of this bluff I'm perched upon, I can hear their laughter carried by the wind and waves. It drifts over the pampas grass and finds my heart. It's a school. Their hands can touch what inspires and their hearts are lifted. This is learning. Now we are home but I feel the door has been officially opened. With that trip, I feel so inspired. Education can take place anywhere and in every moment. Today, we will look through some writing they did and pull some vocabulary that they had trouble with. We'll revisit math, play practice at 3 and hit the library. They got a glimpse of what natural learning feels like and they can take advantage of the library with their minds full of those images.
The back yard

Molly in Fern Canyon

The University's Mascot!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Long Field Trip

We head to the mountains this weekend to stay for several days with good friends in a cozy cabin among the pines. The kids love to play on the fallen trees around the cabin and "build" little forts. We always hope to see some chipmunks and watch for falling pine cones. They get to shoot at targets and cross streams to arrive at the tree line where a lake is all our own. Botany will be so alive for Molly. Geometry will present itself to Oliver. In everything they experience, they'll look for what they've learned. Beautiful pics to come!

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's OK to Move Slow

Maybe we'll start at 10...maybe we won't. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can feel our way through the day. We all woke up a little tired and cranky so instead of just crossing things off a list, I'd rather give ourselves the time we need. What's the point of going through the motions? Once we get going, Oliver will be learning about the structure of the snowflake and drawing one in his book. Molly will be learning about different leaf structures and deciduous forests, perfect before our trip up the mountain this weekend!It's so important not to get bogged down and bored. Flexibility, freedom and FUN!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Free on the Farm

What a wonderful way to end the week. Visiting our friends in Winters for a birthday celebration potluck. The kids went swimming and ran around in the dark playing hide and seek while the adults got to just hang. So perfect, freedom for me and for the kids! A mile high carrot cake slathered in cream cheese frosting, curried potatoes, tofu cashew dip, salmon patties and a beautiful salad, oh AND lemon bars that the kids had made. The community we've had since preschool has become a second family. The drive through the walnut groves and olives has become so comforting. Home away from home. Happy Birthday Vatrena King!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nature Kids

Our friend Kenny Ballentine just finished this documentary and it's amazing. Kids need nature

Enjoying the Pace

I got up early this morning and went for a walk in the cool morning air. I feel the change of season slowly sneaking up on us. The light is changing, sunflowers are bending and drying...dropping their seeds for next summer. Under a tree on the big green was a blanket of wispy grey-blue mushrooms, perfect for Molly to observe for her botany block! I had Oliver pick some apples to stuff with oatmeal, cinnamon, dried cranberries, butter, sucanat and our spiced plums. The whole house smelled so cozy. The kids had their warm breakfast then we moved into our work for the day. Molly and I walked through the neighborhood to look at the plants and Oliver just went out to look for six fold symmetry that exists in nature. We get to construct the hyacinth tomorrow with his compass! It should turn out beautifully. We'll be heading up the coast in September as well as to the mountains and all that we've studied will be at their feet and fingertips. It is good.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Establishing Rhythm for Homeschooling

I've found that Sunday's are the best day for planning curriculum for the week. It only takes about an hour and a half, or less, to get a basic structure down. This week I added some vocabulary out of last weeks lessons to practice throughout the week for a test on Friday. I've got a pretty good rhythm down for getting everything on paper to reference the night before a lesson. I do all of the curriculum for one child at a time to help me feel less scattered. Because we teach a Waldorf curriculum, we have block rotations dedicated to one subject for 3-4 weeks. Once you're in a subject and lesson planning for the week, I find it easier to stay there instead of bouncing back and forth.
  We open with a review of the previous days main lesson followed by the main lesson of the day. I try not to be too detailed in what I want to do to leave room for being excited and inspired in that moment. I can expand on the topic in any way that feels interesting and fun to us! Then they do their main lesson book writing and drawings from the day before. This is how it's done at the Waldorf schools, present a story about the subject with interesting info, they sleep on it, review it and then put it into form. After their mlb work, they do a simple math sheet to just keep that repetition of facts. This is not a favorite of either child and it's just one of those things they have to practice and keep fresh. This week they'll be practicing their vocabulary words last. All of this only takes about 2 1/2 hours! Their work is turning out beautifully! The rest of the day will be open to any other activities they want to participate in. Molly loves to cook and we've been enjoying looking at Pinterest together in preparation for a fun Halloween party! This is just the rhythm that's working for us so far. Flexibility is the name of the game but having a basic rhythm to go by is so helpful. Good luck to any newcomers to homeschooling!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Biome's and Monad

The biome's of the earth and the Monad principles were on our study list today. In Molly's botany studies we talk about the plants relationship to the sun and earth. Moving away from the poles, we go through the biome's meeting the equator where the jungles are hot and steamy. From there everything is reversed ending in the arctic region once again. With Oliver, we learned that the word Monad is derived from the Greek language meaning The Whole, alphanumerically adding up to 360 degrees. He's loving his compass and has already created some beautiful shapes. All of this is just so fascinating! We read about things, write about them in the books, they illustrate them so beautifully and we end with some math review. This is how it looks so far! Next week I think I'll add a vocabulary test for each subject that they're working on. Not too bad today!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Slow Start

The first day of school got delayed due to the arrival of my little nephew Monday in the way AM. What a beautiful experience and we are all so tired today. Molly's working on her beautiful main lesson book for botany while Oliver and I dipped into some geometry. Today he gets to go and pick up his geometer's tools from the arts and crafts store to practice some fun designs. It's so hard to get back in a rhythm. We all seem to be dragging our feet a little today but I suspect each day will become easier. For now, we just need to push through our tiredness and take our time. Once all the schools are back in session there will be less temptation for the kids to want to go outside and play! As for me, my patience muscle needs some strengthening. I'll work on that. :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Waldorf Homeschooling Begins!

  Next week it all begins. Oliver is starting off the year with Nature, Number and Geometry while Molly will begin with Botany. It's so inspiring to look through this curriculum and recommended resources. Every lesson is presented with such meaning that they excite the soul.
  Oliver will learn how to use a compass, creating interlocking circles and learn what these shapes have represented throughout's connection to the universe. The resource book I will be using is just excellent! "A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science" is richly illustrated and has so many things to pull from for his main lesson book, not to mention, it's just so fascinating to read. "Do nothing unconsciously. Be aware of each action you perform with them. No act in a geometric construction is trivial or without profound symbolism and correspondence to the world's creating process."
  Molly's botany block will begin with the plants relationship to the sun and earth. "Botany" by Charles Kovacs will be our main read for these lessons: "Imagine all these millions and millions of seeds held inside the earth during the cold season when there is snow, ice, and cold winds, but they are safely kept inside. And now imagine for a moment that each seed is a tiny light, and if you could imagine that we could see through the earth, it would look as though there were millions of stars. During the winter, the earth would look like the starry sky." Alive and twinkling!
  More than facts, the child feels this information on a cellular level. They feel the truth in what's being presented. So do I.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Live Education

Molly's curriculum is ready to go thanks to Oliver's teacher from the Davis Waldorf School and now I'm on the fence for Oliver's 6th grade year. If I do Live Education, which is just beautiful, I may have to pay out of pocket do to some of the spiritual nature of the curriculum. The only Waldorf inspired curriculum avaiable through South Sutter Charter is Oak Meadow and it's OK. It doesn't follow the along with the Waldorf education the way that Live does and is not nearly as beautiful but would be covered by the state. Once I have a conversation with our education specialist from South Sutter I'll be able to ask them the questions I need to ask to make my decision. Getting close to school time! If you are looking for a beautiful Waldorf curriculum, Live Education is it!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mother Earth

During an evening walk, we stopped by the plum tree and filled our shirts with plums so ripe you could suck the flesh through a tiny bite in the skin. The sweetness of the tree hovered around the edge of the community garden where we harvested a small amount of potatoes. This one Oliver called "Mother Earth". Yep, this potato is definitely female!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

5th Grade Waldorf Curriculum

Pictures from the Botany book by Karen Holt

I'm so excited! Oliver's teacher handed over her 5th grade curriculum for Molly next year and it is beautiful. Every main lesson book beautifully illustrated and lesson plans already in place, perfect. Not only is it a huge money saver but it is exactly what I want for her. One down, one to go! Oliver is next and I'm on the fence about which curriculum to do. Live Education is just gorgeous but extremely detailed and most likely not paid for by the state, Oak Meadow doesn't really have the beauty or the details nor does it follow a traditional Waldorf school theme for the 6th grade year but it's paid for and would make things simpler to teach both. Hmmmm, thinking more. School starts August 8th so I better figure it out soon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Point Lobos, An Outdoor Classroom

Watching the Sea Otters

Hiking out to the tide pools

Oliver enjoying the beach

Molly and her friend exploring the tide pools
The windy drive home up the coast
 This year, the world is our classroom.