Friday, August 31, 2012




Lymphoma ribbon

Ugh. I don’t want to make this a cancer blog because I give away enough normalcy to lymphoma as it is. But I’ve just got to say that it can be so frustrating to have a full day of things that need to get done when the world spins every time my head moves and the Zofran is only dialing the nausea down to a “7”. Of course I try to cultivate patience with what I can’t control, but you know . . . it’s hard.

Just a moment of vent there. School for the little guy, menus and shopping lists to be done for the next two-week cycle, very grateful so little driving today. Grateful for the pretty sunshine out my window and big children on their break from their jobs until next week. They’re getting quite a rest and I’m striving to protect that – they need a window of free time, and it’s so short a vacation.

Tomorrow The Patriarch is planning the annual garage cleanout. This year I’ll just sit in a lawn chair and make decisions. Sounds cushy – I’ll have an extra cup of coffee or a lemonade, depending on weather, and be quite the princess! It’s always so deeply satisfying the week after the garage is cleaned to walk through it, although I don’t quite understand how it refills so quickly. Something about nine of us still at home, you think?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beach Trip

The family went to the beach this last week. I stayed home with the ducks, and because with the goats at the farm for the first time, we wanted to be responsible if they needed us to come get them suddenly – the beach is too far a drive to do that. It was good all around, though. I needed to focus on Tarquin’s new language arts curriculum that should be good but is fussy to figure out, and that’s what I did (plus caught up the food blog, watched a movie, and folded a mountain of laundry).

The Patriarch took them on our annual beach trip and gave them an excellent time. He always, always has taken over all the cooking when we go on vacation because he wants everyone to relax. Since we haven’t had TV for many years, he also tries to catch something on sports for his off-time, between trips down to the beach.

Tarquin has never, ever liked the sand, so I was super curious to hear what would happen this year. Last year, at five, he was really a good age for sandplay, but if you were reading this blog last year when we had the big beach outing, he got really sick and just lay there the whole time on blankets on the floor. This year, they told me the first day he liked being on the beach but didn’t want to touch down on it – rode Nigel or his daddy’s shoulders the whole time.


The second day, the other children set up a teeter-totter out of a log, and something snapped. Tarquin wanted to play on that, and afterward was entirely reconciled to sand (in fact made “sand angels” that day).

118Too fun to resist

129OK, I guess I do like sand!


Lots of catching up to do – Sophia and Clara teach Sand Castle 101

157 Patriarch relaxing a moment

107Looks like Nigel spent most of his time constructing stuff for the small people

138Although here somebody caught him having a moment to just watch the ocean.

061   I saw this and thought, “Awww, look they’re having a nice talk” but then heard that Gareth had put a dead crab in Sophia's way and she was about to retaliate!


147 Clara enjoying the unexpected sunny weather – it had been forecast to be in the 50’s and cloudy!

141The weather looks really perfect

009  Araminta pretty much embodies the word “relax” here


026  They seemed to have misplaced half of Lucinda

094Beach! I love it now!

Fourth Time Through our Family Read-Alouds


The living room books – there are downstairs children's bookshelves, homeschool bookshelves, Nigel’s bookshelf, sewing bookshelf, and you’ve seen my cookbook bookshelf if you’ve linked over to my cooking blog. Pardon the remaining stack on the bottom right that will live there until the kitchen remodel is done.

I’ve been getting Tarquin’s first grade language arts material together this last week, and part of that is digging out the family read aloud list. He just wasn’t ready to begin last year, plus I did “Five in A Row” with him, and that included its own list of shorter read-alouds.

I read this list of books aloud to Malcolm (and many more – anyone who uses/used Sonlight curriculum knows what I’m talkin’ about), then read it again to Nigel/Sophia/Clara, and again to Gareth/Araminta/Lucinda, and now I’m heading into the fourth time through this book list. There have been a couple of additions or subtractions over time. But this is the basic list. I’ve divided it in three sections to roughly correspond to three years, but I do a little juggling at times depending on my listening audience.

The Books That Mama Reads Aloud

Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charlie?
Beezus & Ramona (or Ramona the Pest)
McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm
Betsy's Little Star
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
My Father's Dragon
Pippi Longstocking
The Boxcar Children
Mr. Popper's Penguins
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
James and the Giant Peach

Charlotte's Web
Mary Poppins
Little House in the Big Woods 
Indian in the Cupboard 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 
Stuart Little 
All-Of-A-Kind Family 
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 
Ginger Pye 
Phantom Tollbooth 
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew 
Caddie Woodlawn 
Harriet the Spy
The Hundred Dresses
Homer Price 

Eight Cousins
Kildee House
The Lemonade Trick
Little Princess
The Wizard of Oz
Anne of Green Gables
The Borrowers
Roller Skates
Secret Garden
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler
Enchanted Castle
The Swiss Family Robinson

I only read Swiss Family Robinson to Malcolm, but I’m thinking after what will be about an 18 year break, I just might be ready again to read it to Tarquin in a couple of years. Maybe. Gosh that book goes on forever! One of those things that feels good having done it, and I sure doubt that any of my children will make themselves read it after trying out the first chapter. And I am talking about a family of readers here. The last three books Clara has read for summer beach fun are Les Miserables, Vanity Fair, and Jane Eyre, and when we were discussing S.F.R. she said, “Oh yeah – I couldn’t make it through the whole first chapter”. Still. Anyone read it? I find the whole thing fun once I get going, although a bit irritating how that boat acts as a deus ex machina. “Oh right, why don’t you just swim out to the boat and handily find a surgical suite?” you find yourself muttering under your breath. Hmmm. Anyone notice that I’m not quite recovered from reading it to Malcolm yet? Maybe I can guilt him into reading it over Skype! Hey, there’s an idea . . . surely he owes me, right? :-)

I have an ironclad rule: I don’t read sequels or others in a series. This rule has served me well over the years, providing a strong incentive to learn reading skills well enough for the child to read the rest of a series that caught their interest. We do own the entire series of the books in our list that are part of such, so I’m not tormenting them or anything . . . I just want to make it through the whole list, and as I say, this rule has had happy consequences.

So anyway, that’s the read aloud list. I’ve been asked about it over the years off and on and will be glad to have a place to link. If anyone sees this who loves to read aloud to children, and has something magical I’m missing, do comment! Some of these are definitely not “classic” in any sense (Lemonade Trick, I’m looking at you) but I use them for light relief among the longer or linguistically harder selections. In the first year in particular, the “Pippi” and the “Piggle-Wiggle” are really needed. But we always love a new classic, and our family library is full of other wonderful children’s books they read on their own.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Goat Girls Gone Wild - hopefully

Well, the buck rag wasn’t the Easy Heat Indicator we’d hoped it would be. There were days when one or both goats would be acting more aggressive than normal and loud, but they’d only sniff at it. Friday we had yet a couple more indications, but sadly, our buck owner was out of town. She’d offered to let the girls board at their place for a month, and we’d considered that. “Like a visit to the spa”, I mused to Sophia. “Well, no, I guess you don’t go to a spa to meet a guy, do you . . . how about one of those Florida spring breaks you hear about? Goat Girls Gone Wild?” Sophia snorted and answered, “Yeah, except you’re glad that they come home pregnant”. Oh. Yeah.

So when the buck owner came home Sunday night, we took the two out to their farm hoping that we could come home with them, but no . . . the magic didn’t happen. So Selkie and Sarabi are staying there for a month unless there’s an observed . . . uhm, event. The buck owners are super nice, and their goats look so well cared for.

Sarabi, Selkie, and SummerStorm in the “honeymoon suite”:


SummerStorm struck us as a quiet gentlemanly buck. Didn’t chase them around, just waggled his upper lip at them. Our goats took right away to the hay offered in the new accommodations (you never know – they’ve been picky about hay before) and so, while we miss them, we do feel really comfortable about where they are.

Just got an email as I was typing up this post. Sarabi is bred! Whooooeeeee! OK, so I know I’m being an obnoxious first-timer here. Like that first tomato out of your first garden, y’know? It’s always like the person invented tomatoes. “It tastes so different than a store-bought tomato!!” And I’m totally being that way here, I do recognize. Still.


Goat babies!

. . . being out in the barn at 3 am on her due date, January 18th, but we’re not going to think about that, now ARE we?