Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer has finally arrived!

Yes, you heard that right, summer has finally arrived here in Puget Sound. No matter that it's just in time for the light to start changing as the sun sinks lower in the sky. That's all in the future - it's warm this week, and we're enjoying it.

Neighborhood Park

We went to the spray park up the street from us yesterday. It's the first time it's been warm enough for us to enjoy it. I was a bit disappointed - it looks as if they have the water on only at half volume or something, the spray was pretty anemic. But Annika had fun, and Gabriel did for awhile. Then they played at the playground, and wouldn't you know it, they both learned new skills.

Swinging on those monkey bars

Gabriel did the monkey bars for the first time, and Annika learned to pump from a dead stop on the swings for the first time.

Swinging, swinging...

So quietly, stealthily even, and they can now do something they couldn't do the day before. Is that how it's going to be, growing up, now? I almost missed it, I'm glad I was paying attention yesterday!

The front garden bed

The lilies in my front garden are spectacular this year. New baby plants sprouted this spring and got blossoms. They are so heavy they tipped over when I watered them the other day. I'm so lazy I can't be bothered to find something to prop them up with. Their fragrance meets me at the sidewalk; I even get whiffs of their scent around the back of the house sometimes! The rest of that plot looks silly, but those lilies, they steal the show.

Bowing lilies and geraniums

And I don't even remember where I got them - perhaps from the first neighbors we had when we moved in here, who got evicted and left me all their plants to take?

Beautiful moth

We have also had our regular and some irregular moths appearing lately. I love this one, it's the faintest pastel green color. Someday I'm going to take a moth class and learn how to identify them. Or not. maybe I'll just start drawing them and appreciate them that way. Or just keep taking photos. So many things to think about!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Basket weaving

School doesn't officially start here until after Labor Day (summer barely is in full swing, and, well, we won't even talk about the quality of this year's summer) but I am beginning to think about shifting our daily routines to be more in line with what we need to be doing next month. I am making a change to the rhythm of our days, desiring more structure and accountability for the children. To begin, I am instituting a morning devotional time, discussing a simple Bible verse or concept and building on a topic that will help my children develop their characters. I picked the fruits of the Spirit to start out with, since it lends itself well to several weeks of obvious topics. Today we introduced the verse, and after our discussion, we made baskets. The idea is that we will fill our baskets up with fruits of the spirit as we learn about them. I found a great tutorial for making baskets based on the African Tutsi style, and I thought I'd share what they looked like for us.

First, I went to and printed out the instructions. There are simpler baskets out there if you have younger children, but I figured Gabriel would enjoy the challenge of this project. The instructions are pretty good, though I would appreciate a few more diagrams to go with them. The kids did really well following instructions. Annika needed a break in the middle, but she came back and finished after playing for a few minutes.

One thing to be aware of is that you should make the strips the width and length in the instructions, or the weaving part will not work. Annika made hers too wide (I was trying to simplify things for her) and we ended up having to modify the strips after they were already glued together. She required hands-on assistance from mom, but Gabriel was able to do his with only verbal instructions from me. I was pleased with how the baskets turned out. This would be a good project to include if you are doing African studies or something. We had a fun time doing a craft together before I hit the chores and ran errands. I look forward to more crafting time with the kids as we begin the school year in a few weeks.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vacation and Reentry

I feel like I have spent a lot of the summer going away and coming back again. This time it was harder than usual to get back into my routines, because I spent a whole week mostly relaxing. No cooking, no cleaning, only one load of laundry (!!!) and lots of sitting in the sun, chatting and knitting. I even got a few hours each day to myself to think, read, write, and enjoy nature. You see, the kids and I were fortunate to go with hubby's extended family for a reunion at a most unique place. Holden Village is an old mining community that was acquired in the 60s by the Lutheran Church and turned into a retreat center. It's very remote, and takes most of a day to travel to and from.

First you take a boat up the long Lake Chelan. No roads go into the area.

Then, you get on a bus for the ride 11 miles up into the mountains to the Village

There is no cell phone service, no land phone line, no internet (except for that required by the Village for registration and business purposes.) They prepare all the food, guests sleep in the lodges that were the old dormitories for the miners. There is programming you can attend, or not. There is a kids' program each weekday morning, built-in babysitting. And it was sunny all except for one day! The kids played hard all day, I went for a long hike without them (thanks Grandma for watching them), and spent a lot of time sitting around.

Deer roam through the village daily. They are used to people.

Railroad Creek runs next to the Village. You can just see the mine ruins on the hillside in the distance.

I took a hike to Hart Lake. Of course, it was the only day of the week that it rained. But the waterfalls and flowers were spectacular.

The color of Hart Lake is deep teal green. Lovely!

The views from the vicinity of the village are breathtaking. You just have to ignore the tailings piles.

Indian Paintbrush were in full bloom - red, yellow, orange, pink.

Lovely penstemon all over - big and small varieties.

Gabriel enjoyed a new journal he bought with his own money. He spent a lot of time writing and drawing.

I found it tough for a few days to get back into all the work that comes with being home and raising children. I wanted to rest from all that resting (the travel day home was tiring). But now I think I'm back in the swing of things, cooking and cleaning, catching up on laundry, decluttering. I need to plan the kids' school for the next semester, which starts after Labor Day here. I'll have two officially in school now, so I need to figure out how to fit Annika into our day. I have a sneaking suspicion it will involve being more structured, but we'll see. Hopefully I can figure out how to work Kindergarten and Fourth Grade together as much as possible.

It's finally sunny here in Puget Sound, and I am enjoying the warmth. I've picked several pints of raspberries to put into the freezer for the winter.

That's about all I have in the garden this year, except for some chives and rhubarb. Maybe next year I'll get my raised beds built and planted and have more crops, but you know, summers are so busy it seems tough to add gardening into the mix. Oh well, I enjoy what I did do, and the raspberries are fabulous!