homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"Click" moments

Oh, the baby sat still for a book!

This is huge. Theo loves books. We read together as much as we can. Sadly, this is not as much as we would like. Not only is my attention divided, but Cayden has no patience for books. While Theo would happily look at books even at a very young age, Cayden seems to only find pleasure in throwing them. Or, if Theo is the target audience, sitting on them.

Tonight I had some one-on-one time with Cayden and I pulled out an old favorite: I Am A Mouse, by Ole Risom. This is the worn-and-torn copy that was my bedtime book at their age, and the first book that I read. The illustrations (by John Miller) still enchant me. I'm so glad that my mother held on to this so I could share it with my children.

Anyway, this time I didn't bother trying to read to him. Instead, I played a simple game that Theo and I had enjoyed when he was around the same age. I let him flip the pages at will, and each time I'd ask him to point out the mouse. It took him mere seconds to understand the game, and wouldn't you know...we got nearly a half-hour's enjoyment from--yes--a book.

I'm so thrilled. I do want to encourage my kids to be readers--heck, I pretty much have to if I expect them to be autodidacts--and making books appealing is the first step.

As for Theo, this week he has been doing experiments with water...taking delight in seeing whether things sink or float. He was tickled to learn that certain items (ice cubes in his dinner drink, empty shampoo bottle in the tub) could be made to do both: that is, if dropped, they would immediately plunge under the surface, but then quickly pop to the top again.

As for me, I learned that learning happens even when it isn't convenient for Mom. (sigh) It only took a few go-rounds of Theo dropping that darn bottle and yelling, "Look, Mom! Look!" and me huffing, "Theodore if you don't stop splashing right this instant..."


I see.

Note to self: sometimes making yourself open to wonder means dropping your own frustration and--ahem--paying attention.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


After several days of the little ones running me ragged--complete with interrupted sleep and touched-out days--they fell asleep early tonight. I finally had a little "me" time to get my Stuff done at a reasonable hour. "Stuff" being cleaning the kitchen, doing/folding laundry, sewing...

Instead, I plopped down here and spent an hour and a half making a new page logo. Which doesn't even look that good for reasons I still can't figure out but will blame on PaintShop.

Well, that was fun.

We have maggots!

This is Good News!

Unlike the mice and deer, the maggots were invited. And anticipated with hope and optimism.

What am we, crazy? Gross?

No, just a composting, gardening family. And let me tell you, that bin fills up quickly with a household of 6, and that stuff doesn't break down on its own. We've even had to take a few weeks off here and there, because there was no room in the bin. It was really hard shifting back to throwing food scraps into the *gasp!* garbage.

But now we have a bin full of happy little worms, feasting on melon rinds and coffee grounds. And all is right with the world.

Friday, July 20, 2007


I have managed to resist the scrapbooking craze thus far. Frankly, I just don't "get" anyone who has that much time on their hands and spends it doing something that requires that much effort, fussiness, and supplies/equipment.

Then again, if I had that much free time and no one actively climbing me, I'd be who am I to talk.

Anyway. It looks like I'll be joining the ranks after all. Because as I do my homeschooling preparation (reading, reading, and more reading), lap books are looking really good to me.

And they really are just tiny, subject-focused...scrapbooks.

I guess I'll have to drop the snark. And start shopping for colorful paper with the rest of the masses.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In the interest of fairness...

...and just to show that I am not universally a Hater of Wildlife, here is a list of animals in our yard to whom I do not bear any ill will.

  • Bats
  • Songbirds
  • Hawks
  • Crows
  • Groundhogs
  • Squirrels
  • Field mice that do not entertain fantasies about becoming Kitchen Drawer mice
  • Rabbits - even when they do get into the garden, they are selective munchers and not wanton destroyers like the deer
  • Ants - some friends may remember my battle with the neighbor over pesticides?
  • Turkeys - yes, there is a large wild flock that comes through every few days to eat bugs in the tall grass

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Deer oh deer

I live in Allegheny County. Pretty much anything that isn't Pittsburgh proper is a really close suburb. We are lucky enough to have a full acre of land and lots of trees on our property, but we're only one street away from the bus line, so to my country-girl heart, this is NOT in any way a rural area.

However, there are scattered patches of woodsy areas all around here. Like South Park. Places where deer are protected, and free to reproduce like mad. Which they do. And then they need to roam to feed. Except there's nowhere to roam except into people's yards. (Hm, maybe someone should make a CGI movie about that...)

And, with the exception of the occasional borough-sponsored "bring in hunters from surrounding counties" event, they are not hunted. Which means that they have practically no fear of people. I have pulled in my driveway to encounter deer munching on my landscaping and they did't scatter...they didn't even stop eating. They just looked up with an expression of annoyance.

Excuse me! We're trying to eat here...

(Okay, okay...a blank expression. Forgive me a little projecting!)

We have learned not to bother with ornamental flowering plants, because the deer have been bold enough to graze directly out of pots on our front stoop. I had a gorgeous cover of vareigated hostas next to the house,

but as you can see, they were apparently equally appealing as Deer Salad Bar.

This year they even trimmed off the blooms. I hope the poor plants survive!!

Our yard looks like a bizarre prison camp for plant life. Any tree or shrub that we want to survive must be protected by deer fencing, wire mesh, or chicken wire.

Solitary confinement

In our back yard, you can see two very large areas surrounded by similar net fencing.

These are the garden and a small "orchard" of a half-dozen fruit trees. The protective barriers around each of these areas are 8 feet high...yet we lost an apple tree last year because the deer learned how to lean against the netting to get it to sag...then they'd leap over and graze at will. Our first garden barrier was only 6 feet high and we awoke one morning to find a doe trapped in there, trampling and destroying everything in her frantic escape attempts.

When I was a child, I lived in Washington County and every male I knew over the age of 11 considered it their mission to bag as many deer as humanly possible. I have photo albums full of me as a toddler, posing with dressed carcasses on the back of dad's flatbed pickup. Even so, I think it's safe to say that I see more live deer in my suburban back yard in certain weeks than I saw in my entire childhood in the woods. Now I live in an area where people are too PC to dream of hunting...and every time I find another plant decimated, I want blood.

Of course, you know my history with the mice. There will be no actual violence, because as much as I piss and moan, I'd never have it in me to actually harm them. I just wish that these creatures and I didn't have so much unfortunate territorial overlap...