Thursday, March 25, 2010

It is really feeling like Spring.  The temperatures have been so mild that we haven't had anything but a small fire in the woodstove for days.  The turtle has been spotted on his favorite log, the Spring peepers have been heard peeping, the coltsfoot has been spotted, and the robins are quarreling in the yard!

We are in full swing cleaning and getting ready for a big trip over Easter to Anastasia State Park.  But I  will be back for the opening of a new forum that will  help us Encourage One Another in this endeavor to parent and educate our children.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Although...when you have a bagpiper in the family it is more like Happy St. Patrick's Week!  The weekend before and the weekend after St. Patrick's Day are big parade days.   This year the first parade Hannah was scheduled for didn't go too well - after standing in the rain for 45 minutes the parade was cancelled due to the threat of wind.  But since everyone was there and assembled why not play a set or two?

Here's a nice shot of Hannah at the that appeared in a local paper.

But apparently - the police officers who were trying to reopen the road to traffic were...less than pleased...with the band taking matters into their own hands.  There are even  rumors that when the parade is rescheduled the band may not be invited back.     Good grief - where has the world's sense of humor gone?  Or how about a sense of adventure! Or spontaneity! 

A happy but soggy Piper!

Back at home we've been enjoying selections from A Pot O' Gold: A Treasury of Irish Stories, Poetry, Folklore, and (of Course) Blarney.  We especially liked the story of "St. Patrick and the Salmon" - I bet you didn't know it was St. Patrick who blessed the salmon with the ability to jump.  The story is that much more vivid to us having seen the salmon run this past fall on the Oswego river in NY.

I bought a corned beef at the supermarket - even after I read the label - I am now pretending I just didn't see the "ingredients" at all - in fact I guess I might as well pretend it was completely home cured from a cut of grass fed organic beef - I figure everyone's entitled to their own bit of blarney on St. Patrick's Day - right?

And we thought we made Irish Soda Bread but actually what Hannah made was two loaves of what might be called "Spotted Dog Cake" according to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.  I am scandalized that this lover of all things *authentic* did not catch onto this sooner.  Well now I know how not to embarrass myself at an Irish Feis if I ever dare enter a "Soda Bread"!

And I have been feeling a little blue lately, a little overwhelmed, a little well...lost.  I have three things that help ease my more melancholic episodes....a visit to the crafting.  No visit to the ocean but my husband's Explorer is "mostly" clean now and this little fellow has joined our  St. Patrick's Day Festival Table :

A wee Leprechaun

I see that he is missing his hat band - I'll have to fix that - and he needs a bit more curve to his hat - but overall I like him.  I was first inspired by this post at Wee Folk Art but lacking the wooden body piece I improvised with different colored roving I had on hand. 

And of course a post about St. Patrick's Day would not be complete without an Irish Blessing -

May those who love us love us.
And those who that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping!
--From A Pot O' Gold (the treasury mentioned above).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Maple Sugaring 2010

The torch has passed from older sister Hannah to younger sister Katie.  We put in our first taps around February 20th.  The ground was covered with quite a bit of snow leftover from our only impressive snowstorm of the winter season.  The first gathers of sap were not fun as the buckets of sap had to be lifted and carried above the snow.  But very soon the snow began to melt - when the trees are tapped you know spring is just around the corner.

Snow covered ground a few days ago.

Katie carrying heavy buckets.

But now the snow has disappeared and the rising tempatures at night mean that our sap flow may disappear as well.  The sap flow depends on the contrasting temperatures of below freezing at night to above freezing during the day.


With the ten day forecast showing temps above freezing both day and night, Katie's first season of syruping may be rather short.  But she will have another try next year.  Katie is using any money she raises from syruping to help fund a trip to England with her orchestra in the summer of 2011. 

I never thought I'd be hoping for those colder temperatures to stick around for a little while but....we have a lot of people who are asking for our syrup!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The big 7th and 8th grade Winter project in our homeschool has become Maple Sugaring - this activity has tied into so many great topics in science, literature, business, art, marketing and more...  My oldest daughter in now a homeschool freshman, the project has been passed to her younger sister, but we found one more opportunity for Hannah.

A friend of mine teaches kindergarten in a local charter school and she invited Hannah to tell the children about her Maple Sugaring experience.  Hannah put together her presentation completely on her own - complete with props and drawings to help the younger children understand. 

Here is Hannah setting up for her presentation complete with a maple tree stump, and jars of sap and finished syrup.

She used the stump and a section of branch to explain how you can identify a maple in winter when you don't have their leaves for identification.

Here is the picture she used to help illustrate how the sap comes up from the roots to the higher branches.

She did a great job presenting the material in an age appropriate way.  She has had several years of experience with younger children - not only her younger siblings - but helping her Dad at a science and technology based summer camp as well.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Aidan and I had a weekend to ourselves and boy did he keep me busy!

We went to the library to stock up on books and pick out a movie.

We made lots of paper airplanes.
Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes

We made Carrot Cake to bring to the pot luck supper -

We went to Mass and the pot luck supper where we had a very nice chat with Fr. who joined us for dinner.

We made pancakes - well Aidan made the pancakes - all by himself.  "I can do it, Mom."   "Umm... Mom can you get me..."  "Mom...I need..." but really he did a great job.

We played many, many games of  Pictureka!  He beat me every time!

We played  Marbles.  Our kitty Curry wanted to play too but that didn't work out so well.

And so much more!  Whew -