Monday, September 26, 2011

Making honey

Over the weekend, friends invited us to their house to see how they process honey from their bee hives. It was a fascinating -- and sticky! -- experience:

What you don't get to see in this video is everyone enjoying fresh honey on fresh cornbread. Mmm!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Goodbye to summer!

Well, it's officially fall now, and the jackets are hanging on the hooks by the back door. Time to catch up on how we rounded out our summer!

Mouse and I went on a bike ride by the lake one day -- she was having a rough day and needed some alone time with a parent. We sat on this bench and watched the sun set. As we biked along the path, she commented on how "romantic" various spots would be. She liked the idea of having a date under a willow tree, but thought that the bugs might be an issue. This bench made an acceptable alternative. We also talked about all the types of jobs she could possibly have when she grows up -- all the different types of writing and artist jobs, and other possibilities, too.

Here is a great shot of my mom with Mudpuppy. We took this picture during our visit to the Cities (at the same time we visited the state fair). This shot required multiple takes!

I ask you, would summer ever be complete without a lemonade stand picture? No, it would not. Jaybird and her friend sat out on the sidewalk for more than an hour and got three (non-family) customers. God bless people who stop for little kids' lemonade stands; they are nurturing the nation's future Job Creators (as our Republican friends would say). It's a patriotic act, I tell you. It's too bad I didn't take video -- they spent much of the time marching up and down the sidewalk yelling, at the top of their lungs, "LEMONADE! ONLY 25 CENTS!"

Bear enjoyed kayaking on the lake, but he really enjoyed...

...this paddle board. You stand on it and use a long paddle to get around. Park rec had a couple for "rent" (for free) this summer, and they were very popular indeed. Bear couldn't stop talking about it for a few weeks.

Icee pop on the deck...pretty much speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Last weekend was really warm...the perfect day to go canoeing on the lake with friends!

This summer, if Mouse has not been reading, she's been scootering, back and forth down the sidewalk in front of our house. She pretends that she's flying, which she almost looks like she is.

Making honey! One of the great things about this town is connecting with so many people who are connected to the land -- including some friends of ours who not only raise chickens in their (urban) backyard, but also keep bees. We visited them as they extracted the honey from the combs -- I have a video of this that I will post if I have time.

Bear also got to go out on the river a few times with his good friend's family. Once, they went jumping into the river from this rope swing on an unnamed island. Here's Bear jumping in.

No garden tour this year! I think I have to deem the garden a bust this year. Our harvest of everything from tomatoes to carrots to peppers and apples and berries was really disappointing, nothing like previous years. I put this down partly to the bizarre weather, and the hottest summer on record (peppers and tomatoes don't set fruit when the nighttime temps are too high); partly, to some basic mistakes on my part (for instance, interplanting carrots and lettuce too close), partly to dumb luck. However, there's always a silver lining...and in our case, that lining comes in the many colors of our bumper crop of fall flowers. We have morning glories for the first time this year, as well as dozens of these stunning sunflowers.

And that seems an appropriate way to wrap up this post!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adoption update

Sorry for the lack of posts. I have been insanely busy, mostly with volunteer work. I need to cut down on that. (He says as he prepares to go to yet another work-generating committee meeting tomorrow evening.)

I wanted to quickly update people on our adoption situation. We are currently compiling the application for the home study, a seven-page interrogation that has become something of a nightmare. (Lost it twice, after hours of work; don't ask.)

We've also narrowed down the list of children we're considering adopting. We have printed out this list, with photos, and are praying for each of them every night -- that they all will be adopted soon, and that God will provide us with some sign of which child might fit best with our family. At this point, it feels like we've whittled down our choices based on practical considerations as much as we can; given the lack of detailed information about these children, it's going to be hard to make a decision.

Here are the children; click on the name for information on each one. I don't think we're soliciting advice here so much as prayers and support during this process. The good news is that we're not under pressure to make a final decision anytime soon, at least until the home study is completed in a couple months.


Generally, these names are not the child's real names. Also, note that Alex has a warrior (someone actively advocating and fundraising for his adoption), an awesome 17-year-old Canadian girl named Joanna; see her blog, with more pictures of Alex, here. It doubles as a personal blog, so you may have to click around to find the entries about Alex.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

First day of school

It was the kids' first day of school on Tuesday. As you can see, they met the day with shining, expectant faces!

Overall, it was a pretty smooth launch. Everyone got up and dressed early enough, the kids were in an upbeat mood, and we had time for a few small rituals. We usually do a blessing for the beginning of the school year -- we did that again, this time with our first-class relic of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (patron saint of schools and schoolchildren) at hand. Then we had pictures, and we drove the kids into school.

For the first time, we did not go in with the kids. We've found that Jaybird does better separating at the car. Unfortunately, it was a rather chaotic scene when we dropped them off, and right away Jaybird got lost in the crowd and panicked. A teacher got Mouse, who guided her to her new classroom -- Mouse's old classroom.

Bear had shown signs of being nervous about the first day -- he has another new teacher (they're supposed to have the same one for three years in Montessori), so I think he was anxious about that. Mouse was worried about being separated from all her old friends and not having any friends in the classroom. Jaybird was a little anxious about the new routine in first grade -- not knowing the work and all.
Mudpuppy stayed home, but he has his own
"school" experiences on Tuesday and
Thursday mornings.

But when they finally came home, everyone gave a positive report. Bear had nothing but praise for his new teacher, especially the way she handled the class. He also said he was going to make a couple new friends this year. Mouse made a new friend, someone new to Bluffview. And Jaybird -- well, actually, she complained quite a bit about all the "sitting, sitting, sitting" they had to do on the first day while they went over the rules. Her experience may have been colored by the fact that she couldn't find her bus at the end of the day -- Mouse, who was supposed to guide her to the right bus, was nowhere to be seen, so she started to panic. That got the teachers' attention, and they spied Bear walking away from the school -- he had had our permission to walk home, but the teachers didn't know that, so they held him. They got Jaybird hooked up with Mouse on the right bus, and I got a call from Jaybird's teacher about Bear walking home around 2:30. It was so late at that point that I just went and picked him up with the car. (It's a half-hour walk home.)

Mouse and Jaybird spent over an hour on the bus ride home. It's incredibly ridiculous that they get home an hour after dismissal, given that we live 5 minutes from school; the bus drives right past the house all the way to the east end of town, then works its way back. I guess they lost a kid on the first day, which contributed to the delay, but they were really late again today. We'll see how this plays out....

Anyway, we ended the day with a special dinner, including double chocolate brownies for dessert. :)

Here's a video of the morning and homecoming. Sorry for the blurry middle section -- the camera started out out of focus and doesn't auto-focus once it's in video mode.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Bear's new blog

Well, Bear has a new blog that he's super excited about.

I have made no secret to Bear that I am not particularly fond of his Nintendo and his fixation with all things video-game related. We limit his screen time to an hour a day (that's televisions, computers, anything with a screen). However, the other day I was musing on his constant desire to make well as his total aversion to practicing his well as the fact that the greatest source of job security ten years from now when he's looking for his first job will probably be a strong tech background...and it occurred to me that maybe we could address all of those concerns at once if he had a blog about...(sob!) games.

When i suggested this idea to him, his face lit up with a thousand-watt smile, and he started jumping up and down on his toes. Well, between yesterday and today, he has probably put in eight hours on this thing. He was totally thrilled when he checked his stats and found that someone from Germany had read his blog. He's also excited about the possibility of earning some pocket money, but we've warned him not to expect much, or anything at all for a while.

So, if you'd like to do a kindness to an eleven-year-old boy, you could visit his video game review blog. And if you were extra kind, you might link to it from your own web presence. :) Ask us for the url.