A Few More




things to be thankful for from this year's garden



This Year's Garden


What can I say about this year's garden... hmmm.  Well the other day we found this sunflower that Jackson planted had popped up.  That was nice.  And my sis and I did can all those tomatoes.  That was very nice.


Remember when I said these "flowers" were my favorite "flowers" to photograph in the fall?  Is it believable if I say that I planted our whole garden full of them?  You know, just to photograph.  Look how pretty they are!


After the groundhog ate everything, and then I replanted it, and he ate it again, I kind of got discouraged about gardening this year. Plus those potato beetles ate every potato plant aside from the beautiful one that planted itself in our compost. Oh and I thought it was a good idea to place a rounded wire screen over the whole melon garden- NOT a good idea as the weeds got tangled up in it and I couldn't pull them out.  Everytime I went to the garden after all of this I was reminded by all the empty (weed) beds of what wasn't growing.  This didn't prove to be a very good motivator.  By the end of the season I was really doing my best to avoid the garden altogether.

But look at those squash!  Don't they look delicious!  (I have to try and end the year on a good note so come next spring I will be inspired (tricked) into doing this all over again).  I know, they do look delicious!  I cannot wait to eat them!  My garden is amazing!  I'm so glad I'm a real gardener!

First Fies





Mommy Nora Day


Today Daddy brought the two big kids to work with him.  So this one and I had a whole day just the two of us.  We played house and jumped on the trampoline and made tomato soup.  Most notably we ate ice cream.  Good stuff.


Canning Party and Notes




~ This year we canned about 15 (frozen) gallon bags of tomatoes.
~ We got everything boiled down to a really good consistency this year- this took about 7 hours for this many tomatoes (I think there was about 20 quarts in the pot before we boiled it down).
~ START EARLIER!  We ended up canning until after 1:00 in the morning because we got to a point where we couldn't really stop.  I think starting around 9:00 am would be great.
~ PUT THE LID ON THE CANNER (did I mention it got late? a good portion of our time was spent watching a pot waiting for it to boil and saying why isn't this water boiling!)
~ In the end this was okay because the sauce had more time to simmer and I love the thickness of it.
~ Food mill, love.
~ For next year- Freeze, thaw ahead of time (NOT BY BOILING IN WATER, makes them too soggy and we lose some tomatoes that way) and use the mill.
~ 12 jars total (4 large Weck, 8 medium)
~ Just had spaghetti tonight, SOOOOO good.


Day 6


{Dogwood tree}

{Working on her map of the neighborhood, she is very into this project}

{My favorite autumn "flower" to photograph}

{Ryan's wool shirts, washed and drying so they are ready for fall}

After 4 blissful days of school our happiness came to a screeching halt yesterday morning (on day 5 of school) as we sat down to do our "circle time".  Circle time for us is a variety of things.  It is singing some seasonal songs along with a Spanish song.  It is practicing numbers and times tables in the form of bean bag games or rhymes.  It is a poem or an outdoor game.  Since we have a preschooler, a 1st grader and a 4th grader it includes things for preschoolers, 1st graders and 4th graders.  However the majority of circle time is for little ones.  This can sometimes be a sore spot for the two bigger kids.  Last week I talked with them about it, reminding them that in circle time we do things for everyone and there will be preschool songs for the preschooler in our family.  Given that there is very little "homeschooling" to do for a 3 year old, and that this 3 year old often spends a good portion of her day tagging along with a class or activity geared toward her big brother and sister, I feel really strongly about making her stuff important too.  Last week they did awesome with this.  And quite honestly, they actually love most of the songs we sing, they grew up learning them and it is not uncommon for one of them to start singing a song we learned when they are off playing on their own.  But yesterday they were not having it.  Resistance quickly escalated into name calling followed by aggression.  Jackson was able to recover but Grace spent the next hour upstairs.  As all of this was happening I realized that my tolerance for the really bad homeschooling days (especially when it is a fight that we have over and over) is less then what it use to be when we started homeschooling two years ago.  Granted the good days far exceed the good days of our bumpy first year but that doesn't outweigh the fact that when things are going horribly wrong I can't help thinking I don't have to do this.  Except that I want to do this, I love doing this.  They love doing this.

So last night we had a family meeting.  We talked about everything and I asked them if they really wanted to keep homeschooling which was met with a resounding yes!  Then I explained my fear, that as much as I love homeschooling, if I ever get to the point where I am feeling resentful, I will have to stop.  So let's not get to that point!  So we decided to make a contract.  Today we had a second meeting.  We made lists of everything we like and don't like about homeschooling.  We made lists of what we have to do as homeschoolers even if we don't like it.  We focused on the fact that like life, there are going to be things you don't like doing when you homeschool, it is okay not to like them!  But you still need to do them and be respectful about it.  Then Grace typed it up and I printed it out and everyone signed it.  I am anxious to see if this has an impact on our days.  I will say that today was awesome, but then again, it's only day 6.


Weekend Highlights


~ Jogging
~ Going out to lunch with Ryan
~ Fall air
~ Making venison sausage
~ And 4 and 1/2 dozen pumpkin muffins
~ My little cooking helper
~ Reading this book
~ And this one to Nora
~ Time to write



Today's Tomatoes




Releasing Our Monarchs









After the Monarchs come out of their chrysalises you have to wait a day to release them so their wings have a chance to dry.  So this morning after breakfast we brought them out to the garden by the zinnias to send them off (Have a mentioned my zinnias?  They are my favorite part of our garden this year.)  They seemed to adjust well to the world.  A few hours later they were already nowhere to be found, on their way to Mexico I guess.  I'm not sure who was more amazed by watching this whole process Ryan and I or the kids.  Definitely something we will do again next year.


First Day of School

{Finding her new books}


{Like the good teachers they are our butterflies decided the first day of school would be the perfect day to come out of their chrysalises}



{We are reading Minn of the Mississippi and today we made "Minn" out of beeswax while we read a few chapters}

The first day of school is always so good (and misleading as the teacher), everyone loves lessons and is in such good spirits.  Aside from all of the above we also made maps of our trip down the river.  It has been a crazy few days as we adjust to school everyday and all the classes they are taking.  Swimming, golf, gymnastics, fiddle, Irish dance, science club, homeschool group.  All good things but definitely a change from our lazy summer days.  For the most part though I think we have Mondays and Fridays as completely home days so hopefully that will help to balance us out.  I always worry about little Nora who is forced to tote along to all of these activities.  I've already learned in the past two days that I'm going to need a bigger supply of snacks to have on hand when we are out and about.  She is a trooper for the most part though.  And this year she is very interested in participating in whatever her big brother and sister are learning about. They were so kind to her today making a big deal out of the fact that it was her first official day of (pre)school.

Homeschool Group Field Trip: Canoeing the St. Croix River