Welcome, June

Here is our “wattle” house in progress — made from poplar tree trimmings, grape vines, and bittersweet vines. Jeffrey dug holes for the poplar trunks and sunk them in the ground about a foot deep. Then we all worked together to weave branches and vines in and out between the poplars, adding more as we are inspired. Our “haus” (as Wallace calls it) has become the perfect place for reading, playing, and popcorn eating!

We’re still debating about how to finish it off. Should we bend the tips of the poplars so that they meet at the top or leave the house open to the sky?

Leftover Breakfast Crumbs

Messy hair,
leftover breakfast crumbs,
baby on the table,
oil pastels smeared into my fingers and on my bare feet.

This is one of those homeschooling days that feels hard. I’m not sure why. Teething baby? Endless messes? Tired mama? Overworked papa? Too many interrupted moments?

Today, I wish I could call a substitute teacher and take a few hours off. Is there a service out there for substitute homeschool teachers?!

April Joys

I never grow tired of this scene! Give little Wallace a screwdriver and a few rocks and he will entertain himself while the girls and I plant seedlings.

Right now we’re still bringing the baby plants inside at night, but during the day, it is a perfect plant nursery and toddler playpen.

Welcome Spring!

The first day of spring was one of those days I dreamt about in the depths of winter — a day that began with an adventure outside. We set off on a new route and discovered an ancient apple orchard within easy walking distance of our home. I could hardly believe that in nearly six years of living here we hadn’t yet found it! It was truly a magical way to begin spring.

Greenhouse math. How many onions do we use a year? Five a week? How many should we plant to last us 30 weeks? We have three varieties. If we put two seeds in each soil block, how many seeds of each variety will we need?  Making soil blocks, planting seeds, labeling trays — these girls are doing it all.

First spring nature journaling! Nothing is blooming yet, but we brought home a lot of buds to examine: ornamental pear, pussy willow, ancient apple, and red-twig dogwood. We also found some delicate lichen growing in little vibrant green patches. Then we learned that lichen is spelled the same way in both French and English. We do most of our nature journal notes en francais as part of our language study.

If you look out the window today, everything looks gray.  If you go outside and look a bit closer, you can find an incredible spectrum of colors and textures tucked into corners of the spring earth.

Marching Along

I have been taking photos (almost) every day this month — I just have not been posting them. Now I am sitting here wondering if my blogging break has caused, or at least contributed to, the feeling of blah that is hanging around me.

Well, just in case it is a contributing factor, I’m going to break out and share daily photos of where we’ve been . . . Marching along through this month.

I just finished reading “Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World,” by Ben Hewitt. It is a deeply satisfying book about homesteading, homeschooling, and paying attention to the vibrant world around us.

It is rare for an author to be both deeply sure and openly uncertain about his path in life. In this way, Ben Hewitt reminds me of Wendell Berry. I’m very grateful to have read his story and for the way it is helping to buoy me during these final weeks of winter.

“Like most people I know, I experience moments of uncertainly about choices I have made. There are so many permutations of what it means to live a good life. There are so many ways to be. How can I ever choose between them all? But then summer comes, and I’m riding the hay wagon behind Martha, and I’m dripping sweat and my arms shake as I pass another bale back to Penny and the boys, and I feel the quiet comfort of knowing there is nothing else I want or need.”

— “Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World,” by Ben Hewitt, Roost Books, 2014: p. 156.

We usually wait until the first day of spring to collect Pussy Willows. But . . . what can I say? We are especially eager this year!

We had to rescue the branches from Wallace pretty soon after I took this photo because he was more interested in ripping them off than in “petting” them gently.

Thanks to Jeffrey and the girls, the greenhouse is up. Tomorrow, on the first day of spring, we will plant our first seeds.