Sunday, June 28, 2009

celebrating Jove

Jove celebrated his fifth birthday yesterday and it feels like a time of growth and change in confidence, abilities and independence. I can see glimpses of the man he will become. I feel lucky to get to experience Jove everyday. He is kind and outgoing. He is adventurous and inquisitive. He is energetic and talkative. He loves dirt, building, dancing, hiking and experimenting. He is loving: a good brother and a good friend. I can't wait to see what changes this next year will bring.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

my own victory garden: dad I salute you

You all have probably heard of the victory gardens planted during times of war to increase local production and reduce demand on the agricultural sector. I think this philosophy should be applied to our present day dilemmas: poverty, environmental health and human health. Do you want to reduce your shopping bill? Plant a garden. Do you want to eat organic? Plant a garden. Do you want to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables? Plant a garden. This philosophy is so deeply ingrained in me due to my father and mother: my dad grew up with a large garden that fed his family, my parents gardened extensively (both flowers and veggies) during my childhood, my mom canned and preserved food that we ate the rest of the year, my dad built a compost bin larger than you can imagine and delighted in getting into it to turn it over, my mom made pickles and grape jelly, my dad made homemade horseradish and I have heard my dad talk many times about how gardens can be a relief for the poor. I must say, among the many lessons my parents taught me, a love of gardening is one that I cherish deeply.

My biggest garden victory this year so far is my baby salad greens. I have tried "regular, old" lettuce in the past and found it impossible to manage, so much lettuce all at once, then bolted and bitter. You can't exactly can or freeze lettuce. This year I did it smarter, I found out our last frost date was April 15th, so much earlier than I thought having grown up in Michigan. So I planted my baby greens early, a mix of salad green seeds. I pick leaves as needed and spin them in my salad spinner and then I either eat them or put them into a plastic salad container. Every time I fill the salad bowl I think I just saved myself $4. Did I fail to mention that my parents, especially my dad, are very frugal? Another life lesson they taught me well.

So, I guess this could be an early Father's Day tribute. Dad you rock. Thanks for frolicking in your compost bin, thanks for making homemade horseradish, thanks for planting a beautiful vegetable garden every year. By the way, I weeded my garden this morning and put my weeds into a garbage can lid on their way to the compost bin. You taught me well. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

these days

These days I am enjoying following Jove's suggestions: to make chocolate pudding after reading the chocolate room chapter of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to paint with feather tips after learning that people used to use quill pens and making our own book to record car accidents and other road disasters that we see (inspired by some recent long trips in the car).

These days I am enjoying outings with Jove where I get to learn a lot myself. Besides watching Jove learn, learning myself is one of the best things about homeschooling. We went to a Wolf Conservation Center and learned about endangered wolves and met some.
Jove took a week long, hands-on archeology class on Ancient Egypt that included a backyard simulated dig. I find myself thinking, "Did I ever learn this stuff? Well, I am now." Better late than never.

These days Miranda is completely absorbed by her pet, our crested gecko, Fluffy.

These days I am grateful for occasional morning runs through the park where I can sneak in unaided birdwatching and make other seasonal discoveries and I am grateful for my mother-in-law who entertains the kids and does the laundry while I am out.