Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carving Pumpkins

This one was really cute. Ella thought that the little ones would not be fun to carve, but they are sometimes the best.
She is really into this. Maybe she should be a sculptor. Note the fashion statement with the apron.
That one in the background is mine. I was glad that Ella made her marks smallish, because the finished pumpkin ended up with perfectly sized features.
My pumpkin had this really strange stringy spaghetti squash inside. It just kept coming and coming, and was really dry. We bought pumpkins a while ago, and had them outside, but it has been so warm here that they all rotted on the porch. They 'll go in compost tomorrow and feed the crows and coyotes probably.
So, anyway, we went to Trader Joe's today and snagged the last few mangy looking pumpkins. So what if one of them was so dried out it was filled with spaghetti? They were easy to carve!

Well....Declan really wanted to carve pumpkins, but Episode 1 of the Star Wars saga was on, so he kind of gave some creative input while I carved the pumpkin. I LOVE carving pumpkins, but for the last few years haven't really been able to carve the kind of pumpkin I like to carve.

Ella has gotten to be a completely independent carver, big knife and all. She is not crazy about getting all the guts scraped out. Could it be because I call them guts? Well look at them in the bowl. What else would you call them?

Home days

Lately we have not enough days at home. That is my big plan for next week. Look how lovely my cozy girl is. She needs a home day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dogs, dogs, dogs.....

Someone forwarded this to me, and as I am having to having a '"firm hand" with the dogs after all the travelling we've been doing, I thought it was funny.

Dear Dogs -

When I tell you to move, it means go someplace else; not switch positions with each other so there are still two dogs in the way.

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your dish and your food; nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help, because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-size bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue to sleep on the couch to ensure your comfort. Look at videos of other dogs sleeping. They can actually curl up in a ball. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out at one end and having tongues hanging out the other to maximize your space is nothing but doggy sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob, or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. In addition, I have been using bathrooms for years; canine attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog's butt. I cannot stress this enough. It would be such a simple change for you.

Visiting Chloe

This is a place in Dover, New York called the Stone Church . It is really beautiful, and you should link to the site if you really want good pictures. Declan and Harry, Chloe's son, are both five and they played so well together.

Although Declan was a little tired at the start, after we got in the shade, we basically chased Harry and Declan to the stone church.

This is the view at sunset from Chloe's backyard. She was such a wonderful hostess and it was so good of her to have us come and stay. I am sure it isn't easy having me, my mom (the rabid Red Sox fan) and the kids come and stay in your home, but she was very nice about it.

It is so nice for my mom to have this continuing link to Lila, as it is just about a year since she passed away. It is one thing to lose a person, but to lose all connection to her family would be just too hard. Chloe has really been a wonderful bridge to make us still feel some kind of connection to her still, as I hope we are for her.

We were all talking about how much Lila would have loved seeing Chloe there, but would have wanted to make sure that the people she works for are treating her well.

This picture typifies the whole trip. Declan and Harry ran ahead of us pretty much the whole three days. I think Declan is still tired from it.

This is one of the vistas from Chloe's work. Her family seems very contented and happy there in this beautiful setting and great part of the country.

Ella said most of it was like a fairy garden, since there were little stone steps and big ferns and babbling brooks. It was so clean, Ella could walk barefoot through the woods, which was really fairy-like.

Oh, there is so much to write about, and life just keeps flowing on! I am trying to get to everything!

Concord and Lexington

We read a great book called Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau's Flute. Ella read Little Women last year, and saw the play with Boston and Nana. We had never been to the house that the book was set in, however. We went this week and it was great. It is called Orchard House, and has a school of philosophy attached. Apparently, Bronson Alcott, Louisa's father, had to start his own school since at the time he kept getting fired from teaching jobs for being to radical.

He was really obsessed with letting children ask questions, explore nature, and learn what they were interested in. What a concept. Interestingly, Horace Mann was also a neighbor for a while, but he was not a friend of Nathaniel Hawthorn and Thoreau (also a fired teacher) and Bronson. I have more research to do.

In fact, a young man who was a homeschooler and now plays Nathaniel Hawthorn's son (who was a friend to May Alcott, Amy from the book) was our guide. The house is just like you see in movies and plays. And our guide was a phenomenal source of information.

We learned that the man who sculpted the Lincoln Memorial was named Daniel French and he was given his first sculpting tools by May Alcott (she was married by that time, but her married name escapes me right now).

This is the museum of National Heritage not far from the Alcott house if you take Paul Revere's Midnight Ride route.
Declan loved the idea of making butter. This museum is very kid-friendly and has loads of stuff to touch and explore. It is a great find, and free which makes it even better!


Declan has some serious moves as a Jedi, doncha think? He is here rockin' the light saber moves. Our church has a no weapons at the Halloween/Samhain party. We ended the party with a big fire at the graveyard behind the church which more than made up for the lack of a light saber at the party.
This is the pumpkin that barely made it through the door! I had to include the picture of the girl, since that night Ella and she had the same hair (hee hee).
Ella was going to be Sandy gone bad, and have a devil tail and a pair of horns, but she decided to go as straight Sandy. How about that poodle skirt? I think the whole point of the costume was that awesome wig.
Yep. That is the Hokey-pokey. I love this picture, because Ella has at this point ditched her wig, her neck scarf and finally her skirt. This is mid-turn, she is actually in the front really rockin' the hokey pokey. Declan was in the hall covering his ears. The hokey pokey is NOT what it is all about for him.

Halloween is getting pretty exciting around here! Nana helped the kids pick out Declan's costume and Ella's wig, and they are looking ready to trick or treat. Nana is completely flinging herself into grandparent-hood (not that she wasn't already), and has become a Red Sox Fan. Yep. A raving lunatic fan, in fact.
One never quite knows what life will bring.

Tompa came over yesterday for a pre-view of the outfits and to check out the goings-on. He just got back from DC so we compared notes. He made it to the National Museum of American Indian, which we found out after our trip has the best kept secret lunch! He said it was excellent, and he ate there twice. It has been very cool, because our town was one of only ten towns choosen as America's Hometown and it has been a nationally recognized honor. I am sure it is in part to all the hard work Tom has done to help people with housing over the years.

Ella has already been to two Halloween parties. One was at 4-H and the girls who planned it did a great job. There were games, snacks, even Thriller dancing. Ella's friend Olivia had made a pumpkin that almost didn't fit through the door! Her father is an artist and it was made of "tape-r mache".
The hokey pokey dancing is at church and the other shots are 4-H.
I am sure that there will be more to follow since Halloween is still 5 days away.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I tried. I really really tried to get a picture of Waldo (or Dean or Deannie). He was just too fast for me.

He is so cute, so I kept trying.

Here he is running with the kids on their bikes. He is Chloe's dog. She has another one, named Fern, who is small (teacup) Maltese and mellow. She just follows Chloe around, but Waldo is another kettle of fish altogether.

He runs all day long.

But, he did seem to like Ella. Ella has developed this little hand motion that seems to get all dogs to sit. Or, in this case, almost sit.

Long enough for me to take a picture at least.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Banned Books Week

We love banned books. In fact, reading a banned books list is like reading a list of my favorite books and authors. Maybe that is because of my liking for fantasy and horror and my fond childhood memories of Judy Blume. Maybe because I love Mark Twain and JD Salinger.

Maybe just because I am passionate about exercising my rights.


Yum. Fresh apples. So delicious, I could have just eaten these.

Ella does like to leave her mark. Sometimes, we call Ian "E", too, so it worked with the collaborative effort.
Doesn't that look gorgeous?!?!

Ella baked her first pie today with her dad. I haven't eaten it yet, but it looks good.

Learning something new

We are enjoying having the cat inside. It is a bit of a struggle getting him to learn some manners, tho. It is great what Declan is learning from him, ha ha.
Why will he only drink from a glass? The cat, I mean, not Declan.

Oh, I just love these feet!

Ah, feet. Princess feet, fairy feet, constantly moving feet.Free feet.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Killer Cat.....

Okay, I am trying to forgive. It was a near miss after all.

Cape Wildlife Part Two

Oh. My. God.

So after yesterday's post, we were sitting having lunch and looking at the very green backyard. It has been raining here, much much needed, and so everything looked just lovely and fallish.

Then, streaking across the lawn I see our cat, Ozzie, chasing a white cotton tail.

A very small, and fast, white cottontail. It looked just like this picture.
So, before I even open the door to the back, I am screaming like a mental case. Screaming and banging stuff.
Both the cat and bunny freeze, but where is the bunny? I know it has frozen, since it isn't moving, but I am left to wonder, Is it UNDER the killer cat?!?!?
Now, I am the one streaking across the backyard...well, not streaking exactly, but running, and yes in my pjs. As I reach the cat, he just lounges, as if killing sprees of baby bunnies is really nothing at all to get so worked up about. Lolls, really, the big brute, for a scratch or something.
I scoop him up in my armpit. I can't look at him. He must go INSIDE. FOREVER. NOW.
By then my kids are involved and although I don't relish the idea of them coming with me to discover the bloody corpse, I think the bunny is just in a panicked faint as bunnies can do. Of course, the woman at the Cape Wildlife Center had told me how bunnies just drop dead unless you approach them with a "yoga-like calm".
Hmmmmm.....I really really really tried.
And I tried to remember if I could touch it with my hands. Stories of mange, rabies, and other various common human mistakes were racing through my head.
It wasn't moving. Its eyes were open, and it seemed to be breathing, but there was a big smear of blood on its little cheek.
I called Cape Wildlife. They told me *not* to touch it, and wrap it in a blanket or towel and bring it in.
All the while, I am looking where it is sitting thinking, Get up and hop away. Get up and hippidy hoppidy along now. Go on. HOP!! HOP!! HIPPIDY!!!
So, out we go again and bring a shoe box and a towel. It is very still. I kinda poke it and it moves a little, so we try to scoop it up.
And it stirs. It hips. And then, it HOPS! It scampered off just like a little bunny should.
Nature lives another day.
Now, I am off to buy some cat toys for my indoor cat.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Renaissance Fair

Declan made a friend at the Renaissance Faire. Although he declined a sheild, he did feel it made this opponent "unstoppable".
Hmmmm, are they attacking this other kid in a team?

Photos by Ella.

Cape Cod Wildlife Center

Today we went to the Cape Wildlife Center
and it was great! Although it staffed by only four full time people, they serve all animals in the area that are injured or sick or orphaned. They recently relocated to an old estate. It is like something out of an animals dreams! They have a hot tub that houses turtles, and the in ground pool is in the process of being converted into a salt water pool for seagull rehab. The mansion has rolling grounds with apple trees and berries and beautiful quiet, wooded corners for large kennel style cages for the squirrels, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, and foxes (among others) to recuperate and yet not become familiar with humans.

It was interesting to hear the woman who met with us talk about having your cat outdoors. The number one reason that animals come to her shelter is cat attack. Millions of birds are killed each year by cat attacks. I was shacked, and abashed as an outdoor cat owner.

One thing she said about cats really stuck with me. She said, "We treat cats as if they are wild animals. They have been domesticated since the age of the Egyptians. They are not wild."

We saw a red squirrel and I decided that that was the animal most like Declan. She said red squirrels were like regular grey squirrels on drugs.

I guess what we learned in Over The Hedge was pretty accurate after all. All that info, and learning the lyrics to "Rockin' the Suburbs"...hmmmm...was Over the Hedge more valuable than this field trip. Only time will tell.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Not needing approval

Ugh. I just had to change the fact that "Getting Approval" was at the top of my blog.

I didn't need the "approval". It wasn't even that nice to get.

Note to self:
Be more careful with blogging titles or you'll drive yourself crazy. Love, me

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Getting Approval

This summer, I sent my letter in at the last minute, as usual. Then I went away for pretty much the first two weeks in Sept.

While I was gone, someone called and said I had filled out the wrong form.

Huh?...well, since I do a progress report and letter of intent with listed materials, I don't know why they couldn't write "see attached" on the *new* form, as I did on the *old* form.

Then, the day before I got back, some one called and said that the principal would like to meet with me. My dh was home, and he said, "Okay, she's away, but she'll set it up when she gets back."

Again, um, huh? And, no I won't.

The principal *can't* require a meeting. I called him and said I didn't want to cause any trouble, but felt that it was important to stay within the requirements of the law.

He said, "Well, you are the only homeschooler I know of!" (laughing, ha ha, you wacky woman, clearly implied).

I said (laughing slightly and gently), "All the better to not set a precident!"

Total silence on his end.

Then, he says, "Well, I'll talk to our lawyer and get back to you" (all laugher and bon homme gone now).

Now I freaked out.

But, I went about my business. I knew I was right and that I had every right to homeschool my child and that Massachusetts legal statutes require only that I be "of competent ability and good morals".

But, still I worried for two weeks, and didn't hear anything.

I contented myself by thinking that this was a new principal and he probably had bigger fish to fry than little ol' homeschoolin' mama me.

And two weeks later, I got my approval.

Monday in fact.


We found a teeny pumpkin for the fairies, and Ella made this ladder.

Ella's grandma gave her this. It is actually a Christmas ornament.

Somehow, I feel that this project was stereotypically homeschool-y.

Ella loves the Magic Cabin catalogue (well, who doesn't?).

She decided to make a fairy house like the ones that they have there. She has an old tree in the back, called Old Burl. A burl is an outgrowth on a tree http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burl, but she got the name from a book called Tree Girl.

Here's the house. I love the slopey feel to it.
Anyway, Old Burl was willing to give us some rounds from his trunk, and although he is a fallen tree, he is not yet rotten. We measured and made a plan to make the house.

Ella has added these cute little wire figures, as well.

I think the wire dolls have a little bit of a punk rock feel.
So fun.

Look what we found!

We are pretty sure it is some kind of jelly.

But, we had an interesting debate about whether or not it was a horseshoe crab without its shell that got stranded.

Off to the library!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Atwood House in Chatham

Today I got up early, packed my bag, made a delicious lunch of all kinds of snackeroos, the camera, a knife, some peanut butter, my date book, directions and sunscreen.

I felt like uber mom until I pulled out of the driveway and drove all the way to Chatham without any of that stuff.

Yep. It was all still on the kitchen table.

Oh well, no pictures of our great day, unfortunately.

The amazing Cathrine from the Cape Cod Maritime Museum led us in a great "Speech Without Sound" program today at the Atwood House in Chatham. She had the kids signaling with semaphore flags and decoding those signal flags.

We also had the fortune to have a dad there who knew Morse Code and had a transmitter in his car so we could listen to Morse Code on the little radio. I was glad we listened last, as it was quite humbling to hear how fast the signals are going over the wire.

Military personnel can transmit 60-80 WORDS a minute! I can't even write 60-80 words a minute. Uh, maybe I can. Hmmmmmm, I feel an experiment coming on.

After we went to this great park. One thing I really miss about living in the city is having an abundance of public parks with climbing structures. There just aren't that many around here. We are lucky enough to have one right down the street, but after living amidst so many parks, it can get boring to go to the same one every time.

It was lovely, and I think I met a really nice woman from Wellfleet. She seemed much more laid back than the other mom I met today who was taking about washing her kids mouth out with soap. She said she even got a mini bar of Dove and told her kids that the doctor gave it to her if they said bad words. This was the mom of the child who punched at least one kids from every other family there.

Go figure.

Deep breath.

Everyone is on their own path.

Maybe she really really needs that mini bar of soap in her life.

Or maybe just a minibar.

Maybe I need a minibar.