swimsuits

IMG_1286I calculated that we are buying the girls about three swimsuits per summer at $20 a pop so I thought I’d try my hand at sewing swimsuits and see if it’s a viable option.  It’s fun to sew things that get used all the time.
IMG_1287Raglan sleeves and simple shorts with snazzy silver polka dots.  It was a cinch.   Fun and easy.  (No elastic!)

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Except that my sewing machine doesn’t work.  It tries to but it’s just pretending, mocking me with its illusion of competency.  Skipped stitches, tangled bobbin threads.  Much veggie swearing.  Also, much seam ripping.  (When I said it was easy and fun, I’m kind of talking about how I envision it would be without mechanical errors).
IMG_1173I have my eye on a new machine.  A real machine.  The Bernina 1008 that a surprising number of my favorite sewing bloggers use comes well recommended.  It’s pretty pricey.  Pretty and pricey.  My birthday is not until February–it’ll take at least that long to save up.

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But I just got the Cambie dress pattern in the mail and I’m dying to make it.  I’ve had a vintage sheet (white with yellow flowers, so pretty!) squirreled away for just such a dress as this.  But am I going to make it with a machine that sews a faulty seam?  Am I?

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Of course, I need to buy a new bra before fitting the Cambie.  Bra shopping could very well  take me four months.  IMG_0475HA! Look at Kiri!  Diving in head first when no one’s watching!

IMG_0620She does it when people are watching, too.  Pretty much any chance she gets, she’s jumping into the water.

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I’m pretty sure she was just trying out one of Levi’s tricks.  She can keep up with this guy.  She’s gutsy and adventurous.  All in an understated way (see above photo of unobserved dive).

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King of Tricks.
IMG_0458He wants a swimsuit, too.

 

end of summer, photos and notes

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:: Friday night supper on the back porch, blueberry cornbread and a strawberry smoothie.

:: And we’ve discovered Monopoly.  Any game with play money is of utmost interest.  Today’s school (actually, today’s dayconsisted entirely of games with money.  (Or, as we discovered with the new-to-us Bibleopoly, it’s not money, it’s offering.  Whoever made up that particular knock off certainly had a sense of humor.  At least, I hope they weren’t serious.)  Lunch and supper were not eaten at the dining table, as it was holding the ongoing Game of Life.  Fascinating to see how acing worksheets of place value exercises don’t seem to make the jump to understanding the difference between $5,000 and $50,000.  They understand now, now that it matters.  I particularly loved how they love to acquire children in Life.  Children, I am informed, are what make them rich.  Indeed.

:: We did our first one-night camping trip.  (Did you see the deer?) I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the effort packing and unpacking for just one night.  It was! It was!  I loved packing only one day’s worth of clothes and one day’s worth of food.  It took us two hours to pack up and go, and everything was clean and put away by bedtime after we got back.  Without monumental effort.  Our next trip is already reserved – Joshua Tree in October.

::  I’ve picked up a total of three pairs of roller skates for $2 a piece over the last several months.  Our church’s thrift store is a gold mine of treasures with golden-hearted people who do the pricing.  Roller skates are an excellent way to get from your bedroom to breakfast.  Most days our house resembles a roller derby.  Even Kiri can put one foot in a skate and hop along to get where she wants to go.

:: We made an awesome geoboard using this tutorial.  We eventually filled in the entire pegboard with the screws.  The geometric exercise often shifts into rubber band shooting sprees (I’m sure shooting rubber bands is teaching them scientific principles).  It’s big enough that several of us can play at the same time.

:: A “This is How We Roll” photo to add to my collection.  Home Depot has awesome new car carts.

:: A photo of a lovely, lovely moment during the school day.

:: The obligatory, traditional First Day of School photo.  We go to the same lake and take a picture on the same stump every year.  After our stint as tourists this summer, we’ve taken to trying to strike some sort of pose other than Stand and Smile.  I like to think of this one as “I’m Going Somewhere”.

:: I love the last photo of me and my True Love.  Love.  Warm.  Kind of smooshed.  Happy.



popcorn (again), etc.

:: popcorn update

I figured if I was making enough popcorn to write a post about it, maybe I was making enough popcorn to merit spending money on and allotting precious kitchen space to a machine dedicated to making popcorn with ease.  Gone are the days of my childhood where popcorn makers were larger than your stock pot – or so I hoped.

We welcomed an air popper into our household this week and immediately put it to the test.  A whole stock pot full of popcorn in two minutes, wowee.  Everybody knows how to make popcorn now, and we all stand around and watch them pop.  Very exciting.  Also very satisfying.

The popcorn still could probably use a minute in the oven to crisp up.  Because it’s an air popper, it doesn’t use any oil and I’m having wild thoughts about using butter solely for flavor.  Because I can.  But I probably won’t.

Turns out the kids love plain popcorn liberally dusted with cinnamon.  I shouldn’t have been surprised — they all love to eat applesauce with more cinnamon than you can shake a stick at.

:: lumps, bumps, and sunscreen

I went to the doctor on Friday to check out a lump on my chest that I saw in the mirror that morning.  I won’t kid that there aren’t some scary thoughts associated with the word lump.  (Lump.  Rather an ugly word in itself, but kinda satisfying to say.  Lump.  Lllluuuummmmp.  Not like the word “vulgar” – that’s just ugly all the way around.)

It turned out to be a sebaceous cyst.  (Not worrisome).

Then, since I was there, I made the doctor (made being the operative word) do a breast exam as well — I hadn’t had one since I finished breastfeeding.  Can we just talk breast exams for a moment?  I really don’t see how a brief feel-feel, and another brief feel-feel qualify as a thorough breast exam.

And then, since I was there (let’s kill all the birds with the stone), I had the doctor look at a rough spot on my temple.  Pre-cancerous sun damage.  Ouch.  He froze it with his big bottle of frozen torture and I squeezed my eyes shut and remembered holding my great-grandma’s hand while she got a spot frozen on her nose.  I am now one with the ladies in their eighties.

I’ve been a faithful sun screener.  Most of the time I try to just stay out of the sun.  After all, sunscreen and sun damage seem to be a classic case of d-d if you do and d-d if you don’t.  This summer I bought Neutrogena baby sunblock.  Hypo-allergenic this and free and clear that.  Thick, white sun block that takes hours to rub into a family of 6 but still leaves us looking like escapees from Clowns Anonymous.

A couple of years ago my mom gave me a bottle of the most delightful sunscreen.  It sprays on, light and clear.  It’s the work of a second to rub it in.  A little goes a long way.  It was quite expensive, so I guarded it carefully.  But not carefully enough, because somebody got into the cupboard and dumped it out.  I don’t remember who the somebody was in this instance.  And I was horrified at the waste and sad to say goodbye to such a delightful product.  But a little relieved as well.  Surely something so very nice was way toxic and I was poisoning my family, sacrificing them on the altar of easy application.  I was so convinced it was highly toxic that I couldn’t bring myself to look it up in the toxic database, I held tightly to my ignorance.  I currently have the same problem with my antiperspirant.

I finally looked it up this summer.  My free and clear Neutrogena Baby?  Toxicity level of 7.  My beloved I’m-sure-it’s-killing-us-and-I’m-using-it-anyways KinEsys sunscreen?  Toxicity level of 3.

Bazinga, baby.

My sister left me her bottle of KinEsys – she figured she won’t need it much in London.  Sunscreening my family is now a joy unparalleled.  Spray, rub, done + peace of mind = I’ve become an evangelist.

So let me do a little evangelizing.  If you’re of the sunscreening type, I’d like to highly recommend KinEsys.  (It’s worth the money.)  I also recommend keeping the bottle out of the hands of people who might pour it out.  Don’t want to be crying over spilt sunscreen.

 

misc.

photobooth

 

:: We went to the Living Desert today for one last time before our passes run out.  My favorite animal there is the serval, maybe because it reminds me of Lia, our long-legged, graceful, beautiful girl.

:: I’m having a food/cooking crisis of sorts.  Apparently it’s time to (a) grocery shop and (b) try some new recipes.

:: According to Amelie, she only likes fruit, macaroni and cheese, and sweets.  After long deliberation and much discussion, we have compiled a list of other foods that she deems edible.  Not surprisingly, this list contains sweet potatoes, sweet red bell peppers, sweet carrots… sweets for the sweet!

:: Devo and I went on our first completely successful date in recent months.  Levi did fall out of bed  while we were gone (no injuries), but was content to snuggle on his auntie’s lap and go back to sleep.  I’m thinking that we have gone on more dates in the last year than in the previous nine.

:: I haven’t watched the most recent Downton Abbey episode.  But everyone else has and has made scathing remarks in my presence.  Now I’m scared.  I’m trying to remember that these aren’t real people and that nobody really dies, it’s all pretend.

:: Devo knows what happens.

:: In other news, after about three weeks of a fussy, clingy, I-am-the-coconut-tree-to-her-monkey Kiri, she is returning to her cheerful and independent self.  Oh, the relief.  There’s something so uniquely insane about caring for a fussy baby – I am sure there isn’t anything like it in any other job.  You start to think that maybe you’re a weakling, blowing things out of proportion, just get a grip wouldja?

And then your husband takes over for an hour and affirms the crazy.  (Bless him both for taking over as much as possible and for affirming the crazy.  Both were balms for a storm-tossed psyche.)

A friend who had worked (and worked hard) in the corporate world for five years before having children told me this weekend that staying at home with her children is by far the hardest thing she’s ever done.  That soothed me.

adventure :: monrovia canyon park

Monrovia Canyon Waterfall

Holidays and cold weather and rain have kept us away from our usual Monday adventures recently.  (Not to mention last Monday’s marathon housecleaning session, dear me was it needed.)

But there has been a clamoring for hiking and camping amongst the nestlings that must not be denied.

This Monday was a new destination, Monrovia Canyon Park.  High up in the hills, past all the beautiful old houses.  Lots of trees and a beautiful, shady 3/4 mile hike to the falls.

Also, the excitement of being in a bear habitat, with a nice photo of a recently sighted mountain lion.  On the edge of the wild, we were.

The trail through the canyon reminded us of hiking in the redwoods except, as Amelie pointed out, the trees aren’t as tall.

Amelie who sat down next to the falls and proceeded to don a pair of satin elbow gloves she had tucked in her backpack for just such an occasion.

Monrovia Canyon Park

NOTES:

  • $5 entrance fee.
  • Closed on Tuesdays, nice and quiet (but not empty) during the week.
  • Trail is smooth and mostly flat, perfect for small hikers.
  • Bathrooms are many and new and clean.  Also echoey, as we found out when we could hear Levi’s voice coming through the vent and wafting through the picnic area.  He sounded remarkably like Sir Hiss stuck in the ale barrel in Robin Hood.
  • Five stars from the whole family.

heart garland, epicness, a recipe, and a surprise

:: heart garland

Today I did something entirely frivolous.  I put something pretty on the wall!

Our walls are still mostly (almost completely) bare.  Part of that is indecision on my part, part of it is because I couldn’t find the box with the things I knew where I wanted them to go.  Found the box a week ago, and today I made our lives a little bitty bit prettier.

This is the girls room, by the way.  The beautiful, long desired headboard, the deal-of-the-year comforter.  I love the blue on the wall.  The chair doesn’t actually belong there.  I have my eye on IKEA Hemnes nightstands (but in what color?).  And I’m on an eternal craigslist quest for a wood chest to put all of our dress up clothes in.

The garland is, of course, a pinterest find.

:: epic happenings

On our way to the UCR botanical gardens, we experienced silence in the van for approximately four minutes.  It was epic.

Also epic were the butterflies.  Monarchs, gulf fritillaries, painted ladies, we saw them all.  Up close.  I’ve never been so close to so many butterflies.  A white-haired volunteer came over to the butterfly garden and taught the girls how to pick up monarch caterpillars and why milkweed is called milkweed.  She couldn’t hear much of the knowledge the girls were showering on her, but she whipped out her iphone and showed them photo after photo of butterflies she has seen.

I have now added milkweed and butterfly bush to my list of desired plants for the back garden.  Imagine,  your own butterfly garden!

 

:: homemade grapefruit soda syrup

We have made our own Grapefruit Soda several times recently.  It’s like homemade Fresca.  Even the skeptics in the family love it.

 

:: p.s.

I almost forgot.  Kiri fell prey to an aspiring hair stylist today.  (And we all know that this is just the beginning of the mischief Kiri and Levi are going to get into together).

It’s not tooooo terrible.  She just looks a little shorn, a little bit like something nibbled on her.  I’ll trim it up a tad tomorrow.

Well, now I don’t have to decide whether or not to trim her bangs, Levi did it for me.

 

 

 

Adventuring We Will Go

Lime Kiln Trail, Henry Cowell Redwoods – Fall Creek Unit

We are finally, finally becoming adventurers.  It’s been a long arch for us, waiting and waiting for babies to grow and fussy car riders to calm down and legs to lengthen and strengthen.  There are lots and lots of half mile “hikes” in our family history.  There were many dreams and much inspiration that kept drawing us back towards the idea of being a family that hikes and camps and is outside.  In nature.

Forest of Nisene Marks – Porter Family Picnic Area

This summer we have completed, for the most part, the process (and expediture) of outfitting ourselves for hiking and camping.  All the strenuous decisions are made, no more nitpicking over the specifications of tents and sleeping bags.  Sadly, not so many trips to REI.  I love that place.

I’ve got my awesome camping list streamlined and at the ready, my supplies organized.  Getting ready for the trip we took last week to Monterey was a breeze.

Except for the clothes.  It’s colder up there (which means digging into all the kids upcoming winter clothes), and we were camping (dirty), staying with friends (clean), and going to a wedding (fancy).  The clothes kinda stressed me out.

We camped for two days at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  Highly recommend.  We had camped at Big Basin Redwoods State Park earlier in the summer, literally pitching our tent under the redwoods.  (Also highly recommend.  It’s the redwoods, what more can I say?)  At Henry Cowell you camp under oaks, but a short hike takes you through redwoods.

We made an important decision this summer – that we will bypass visitor’s centers and touristy walks and tours and go straight to the real thing.  It’s more important to make a real connection with the place itself than to get a general overview.  We will choose a state park over a museum.  We will choose a hike or an hour by a creek over a visitors center.

This decision was made primarily with the kids in mind and the kind of experience we are hoping they have, but I can’t tell you how much it has changed my own experience and connection to the places we’ve visited.

That being said, we did visit the Henry Cowell visitor’s center (after a long hike, haha), and it was one of the best we’ve been to.  It looks humble, but there were so many hands on activities.  Things that we had seen on our hikes that day were there to be identified and explained and touched.

This trip we turned a corner in our hiking experience.  On the advice of a ranger, we took two hikes and the redwood walk.  When I tallied it up at the end of our trip, we had hiked almost 7 miles in two days.

Let us now pause for some exclamation points.  !!!!!

And it was done with pleasure and joy . On the last hike, the kids ran most of the way in and most of the way back.

<Cue swelling music.>

I’m not so keen on increasing “mileage” for the sake of saying “ooh, we hiked seven miles” or for endurance sake.  Above all else, we believe these adventures should be pleasant.  But there are so many cool things to see if you can hike a bit farther, so I’m stoked.

The weekend was spent with my good college friends, Aimee and Kristian, and their two little girls.  I realized that this was the first time we had ever descended on someone as a family of six (the last time we stayed with anyone other than our parents was when we were a family of three).  The welcome we received and the time we spent together with our little families was so, so, heartening.  (Good word, Aimee, it describes it perfectly.)

I guess I’m getting old enough now to have “old friends”, friends with whom I’ve shared a significant amount of history.  It’s just lovely.

I’m already scoping out our calendar and seeing if we could maybe go camping once a month this year.  It looks possible.

I’m especially eager to try “dispersed camping” – camping by the side of the road, as is allowed in National Forests.

Early Days

I’d like to announce that I am writing today from my own, brand spanking, long-awaited (with groanings that cannot be uttered), new computer!

Ahhhhh.  

I do believe this is my first moment of Ahhhh with my new technology.  We’ve made it through the transferring and consolidating that comes with going from four devices into one (thanks, love!).  And now there’s a quiet moment, and I have everything at my fingertips.  Laaaaaaa.

Devo and I have been being more intentional about making time for me to be alone during the day to work or accomplish something or recharge and refresh.  Alone time after 8pm doesn’t count as alone time–that would be lick my wounds time.  Or dead as a doornail time.  Or, make like a marathon runner and collapse at the end of the race time.

I think it’s been three weeks or so now, and we seem to manage about three days a week (give or take) where Devo takes the kids swimming and I indulge in introverted revelry.

These pockets of time have gone a long, long way towards bringing me back to sanity, to happiness and joy, to a sense of accomplishment and purpose, to expansion and fortitude.

We started school this week.  A hike on Monday, our annual trek to the mountains to start off the year in the world’s best classroom.

And now, with two days of “school work” under our belts, I’m already assessing and reassessing and am thinking seriously of making some changes.

First off, a two hour morning nap for Kiri.  To commence as soon as Liana moves to the dorm (and out of Kiri’s room), if I can hold out that long.  Mischief this morning includes digging the Jamba Juice cups out of the recycling and helping herself and the floor to the residual yumminess. Throwing my school notebook onto the floor, where it popped open and all the pages came out.  Hollering during the time when everyone else was settled with coloring and ready to listen to this week’s chapter in Story of the World.

Next up, reduce, reduce, reduce!  I am aiming for three good, solid hours of “school work” in the mornings (with other learning in the afternoon, just not “official”).  I have a lovely schedule with assignments and activities laid out for each child (including Levi).

Apparently said schedule actually takes six hours instead of three.  Oops.

I’m fairly positive that after a week or so of settling in, my schedule would indeed fit into three hours.  But… I suspect that does not include any leeway for sticky Jamba juice babies or trips to timeout or any questions/conversation amongst learners.

It’s time to revisit the true goals and purposes we’ve identified for this year and whittle away the extraneous items.

I suppose I’ll click over on my handy dandy computer here and make up a new, revised schedule to try out on the morrow.

 

 

Mid-Summer

:: Levi in Plaid

Self-styled for church this morning.  I’m all for self-styled as long as it looks like personality, not abject parental neglect.  Personality, indeed.  And, as he pointed out, it matches.

When he walked into my room this morning, all I could think was “He’s gone PLAID!”  Name that movie.

:: VBS Aftermath

We have just finished a rockin’ week of VBS.  I’m sooo glad my mom was here…she added an indispensable layer of help and hysterical laughter into the mix.  Late-night, kids-crying, extremely-long-days-that-just-would-not-end, kind of hysterical laughter.  Comic relief.  True bonding.

I am totally planning on indulging in some coma-inducing TV watching for the kids as part of the recovery process.  Can we say “grumpy”  “very very tired”?

:: Mommy Brain Strikes Again

Mommy Brain’s most recent manifestation has made itself known in the Name Center of my brain.  Where there used to be names of friends and children and family and people I’ve known for forever and people I met last week, there is now … nothing.  Just a blank.

A pleasant, slightly bewildered blank.

But it’s not even like the name is there somewhere nearby if only I can think hard or long enough.  Nope, it’s just gone.  If the name happens to appear within ten minutes of needing it, I consider it a gift.

So if you see me looking at you with a bit of a blank, bemused smile, just know that I’m searching for your name and coming up with nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

But I do know who you are.  I just don’t know your name.

:: Vacation Troubles

We are supposed to go on vacation next week.  We really want to go on a road trip to Central California.  See the redwoods, camp, follow the coastline.  We’ve done staycations for two and a half years, I think we’re all itching to vacate this place.

Problem 1 – We don’t all (us plus Mom and Liana and stuff) fit in one car.  And we like to be together.

Problem 2 – Both of our cars need work.  The (old) Explorer needs a working air conditioner.  The (old) Odyssey has a stubborn check engine light.

Problem 3 – We’ve been considering going down to one car.  We’ve also been considering upgrading to a 12 passenger van for our adventures.  And can’t we fit a cargo bike into one of these scenarios? Puhleeeease?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to do whatever it is we’re going to do now before paying for gas for two cars on our road trip?

Well, we’ve gotta decide tomorrow and do whatever we’re going to do on Monday so we can get outta here!  (Eek, I’m really not sure what we should do!!!)

:: Cake Dreams

Does anyone else ever daydream about a slice of those vanilla layer cakes with chocolate frosting in Pollyanna?  Me too.

 

Singing Rounds with Children, Part Two

Confession :: Ever since reading The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, I’ve wanted to, you know, be the Trapp Family Singers.

A passel of kids.  Adventure.  Singing.

And the real von Trapps didn’t sing Do, Re, Mi, they sang Bach, Palestrina, des Prez. Real stuff.

And they had a farm.

So we have our passel of kids and a widening sense of adventure.  Now for the singing.  (Apparently the farm will have to wait).

We like to sing.  I was a vocal major, for pete’s sake.  Devo sang in a quartet/quintet through college.  In fact, my husband likes to sing so much that I’ve almost lost my ability to sing harmony.  Being a baritone (neither tenor, nor bass), he likes to sing a little of the alto line and a little of the tenor line.  And besides, someone has to sing the melody.

And our kids like to sing.  In fact, we often drive down the road with three children singing three different songs.  I should say four children, being that Kiri can drown us out with her own singing when she feels inspired.  (Baby singing, so darling.  So loud.)

Over Christmas, my Trapp Family Singer Dream suddenly came to life.  Suddenly we had three children who all loved to sing.  So we began to expand our Christmas repertoire, and for the first time our Advent tradition of singing O Come, O Come, Immanuel didn’t consist of two parents singing with several children looking on.

Last Christmas, two voices.  This Christmas, five.

Our time has come.

Time to get out the rounds again.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about Singing Rounds with Children.  It is one of my most popular posts.  And you can see from the publish date (April 2008) that we’ve been singing for years.

This spring, however, brought a magical leap in interest and ability and now we are on a higher plane in the Quest for Harmony.

For a couple of weeks, we spent hours singing rounds.  Hours.

The little girls would lie in bed and practice Jubilate Deo (often while Levi was singing something else entirely), until they could each sing their own part.

Meal times we would sing “For health and strength and daily bread…”, two to a part.

Every few days we would learn a new round, and then have the fun of trying to piece it together.  Amelie starts, then Lia, then Levi and I together.

Driving, waiting for friends to show up, any time that wasn’t filled with something else, we would sing.  Each person gets to pick which round they want to sing, until we’ve sung all we know.

Bach and Palestrina got a whole lot closer.

It really is magic to hear the voices of small children singing rounds, one to a part.  Not only the knowledge of the skill that takes, but also the beauty of hearing the individual voices inside the harmonies.

Rounds are the best way to learn the skills needed to sing harmony: singing your own part when everyone else is singing something different.  But because you’re singing a “song” (vs. a kind of tuneless “harmony”), it is easier to get the hang of holding your own.

Another favorite literary mention of round singing is in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Happy Golden Years where she and Almanzo go to singing school.  Laura could sing Three Blind Mice the longest because she had grown up singing it with Pa and Carrie and Grace.  {smile}

I wanted to update my list of Round Resources, namely adding the two books we love the most.

The Round Book: Rounds Kids Love to Sing.  We got this from our local library (it’s on my must-own list).  The title is not misleading: kids love to sing the rounds in this book.  I think we had this book checked out for three months out of the last twelve.  Lia will sit and sing through the book (making her own melodies for the ones she doesn’t know).  Amelie and Levi love the little pictures.  And the selection of rounds is just fantastic.  Get this one first.

The King’s Singers Book of Rounds, Canons, and Partsongs.  This book has many of the rounds featured in The Round Book.  It also has more difficult partsongs and songs that lean more heavily on the ‘classical’ side.  I own this one (the library didn’t have it).  This is the book that is going to carry us into the future.  But in the meantime, it also has many of the simpler songs we already know and love.  If you are only going to get one book for the duration, get this one.

And now for a list of the rounds we currently know (that I can remember).

  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Are You Sleeping?
  • For Health and Strength and Daily Bread
  • Sing, Sing Together
  • I Love the Flowers (this is a favorite)
  • White Coral Bells
  • Sweetly Sings the Donkey
  • Make New Friends
  • Kookaburra (another favorite)
  • Three Blind Mice
  • Jubilate Deo
  • There Was a Little Girl Who Had a Little Curl
  • Father, I Adore You
  • Come Into His Presence Singing Alleluia
  • Gaudeamus Hodie (Natalie Sleeth)
The intense learning period has ended and our new ability has become part of the normal. I tried to teach them a new round the other day, but Kiri was so inspired by the singing that no one could hear the melody over her voice.
We’ll keep singing and adding to our repertoire for the sheer joy and satisfaction of it.  Maria von Trapp paints lovely pictures of a family singing together and we’d like to create our own lovely pictures.
Next up :: Sight singing.  Some time next school year.

adventure :: ucr botanical gardens

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Today was the First Day of Spring (was there really a winter?) and we decided to celebrate.

Planting something in the garden was not an option. (The garden and I are not friends right now). Crafts just seemed too sedentary.

But going out and about and finding some fresh air and spring blossoms and ephemeral miracle of green grass? Yes, please.

We may not live in the country, with open spaces and natural habitats all around, but we do live surrounded by fabulous little pockets of nature, if you know where to find them. Somehow I woke up thinking of UCR Botanical Gardens, so off we went.

And then I couldn’t find it. It was like one of those bad dreams, you know the kind where you keep looking and looking and you can’t get out of the loop? I resisted hyperventilating, and suddenly the right road appeared. And I wrote down proper directions for next time.

Our favorite activity in places like this is to go adventuring, without any destination. We come to a fork in the path and one of the children decides which way to go. Turn and turn again. We are happy to find new paths, we are happy to find old landmarks (look, kids, Big Ben!). And so we meander and scamper and wander.

If Devo is with us, I usually like to work in a pleasure visit to the herb garden before heading to the car. But since today was our first hike all on our own (gasp!), we skipped it.

When we’re tired, we go home. I’m not into endurance.

Today’s sitings include unidentified scat (we did get a picture), bird’s nests, many many friendly hummingbirds, one decomposing lizard, small flowers that look like white bells (we missed the narcissi bloom, unfortunately), and one other homeschooling family who were equally jubilant to be able to set off on a spring adventure on a Tuesday morning.

Notes ::

  • UCR Botanical Gardens. Parking is $.25 per hour, $4 suggested donation.
  • Check directions before going.
  • Kiri on my back in the ErgoCarrier works great.
  • Levi can hike it on his own.
  • Crocs are perfect.
  • If you stay in the trees, you don’t really need sunscreen.
  • Next time ::

  • Try and be organized enough to bring water, a snack, lunch and a blanket.
  • Or stop at India Sweets and Spices on the way home for gulab jamin and samosas.
  • Or stop at India Sweets and Spices on the way there. Don’t forget chapatti flour and chaat spice.
  • Take the kids to the potty at the entrance before hiking. It’s hard to do the peepee dance while descending a hill.
  • Don’t let Levi anywhere near the nice red button on the emergency kiosk.
  • I am just loving going adventuring lately. Midweek. Which means I’m on my own while Devo’s working. Ooh.

    In the last month we’ve been to the museum twice, to visit my great aunts, to The Living Desert Zoo (Devo went to the Indian Wells tennis tournament while we went to the zoo, it was great), and now hiking.

    Usually I’m a homebody, but lately home hasn’t been a place of peace and light. It’s dang dark in the living areas of my house, and I just feel so much better out in the light and fresh air. So out we go.

    Maybe we’ll go out for a hike every Tuesday morning.