The Best Text

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My dad sent me a text last month out of the blue that I’ve thought about every day since.  I cried after I read it the first time, I was that happy.  My dad is a very intelligent man, a Texan, a scientist, an outdoorsman, a writer & columnist, a retired 3M chemist that climbed almost to the top of the management chain before he left.  I went to college in 1999 with dreams of being a scientist like him, but life got in the way & somehow I ended up an elementary teacher (something I told my friends in high school I would NEVER EVER become) & eventually a stay-at-home mother.   I’ve always felt like I failed him (& my potential) in a way, even though I know that these feelings are absolutely not true.

We took my dad fishing & birding in the Yellow River State Forest Paint Creek Unit this summer & it was the best day.  He caught several trout with his fly rod & after he got back to Wisconsin, he told my mom how much fun he had with my family.  These are photos from that day.

Love ya, Dad.  The Best Text is rewritten below.

At Silverwood Park, north edge of the Metro [Twin Cities] for my writer’s group.  New, very nice.  Lots of nature programs for children.  There is a mother with three girls about the ages of your three.  All are sitting atop a wall outside.  She is telling them something and has their attention.  The scene reminds me of you.  I am proud of you, Ruby.  You are doing a remarkable job rearing three children.  Daddy. 

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Autumn creep, fossil collecting, wool washing, & a wee Wurm obsession

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I don’t exactly feel Autumn around these parts yet, but I can see the subtle signs she’s slowly wetting her paintbrush and readying the canvas. The kids spent a lot of time outside this weekend due to the mild temperatures.

We had one volunteer sunflower this year thanks to our prolific winter bird feeding. Coralee found an abundance of clay in the creek recently & made a clay pot {even baked it in the sun!} to temporarily hold the seeds she’s collected.  She is ever the seed saver.

Following church on Sunday, the older ones spent the entire afternoon in the creek looking for more fossils for Coralee’s archaeology studies. She’s getting a trunk from the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History this week to aid her in her identification of her finds & felt the 20+ fossils she’s amassed so far is clearly not enough.

The autumn creep caused me to dig out all the woolens that lasted well into the spring/summer months this year {read: fingerless gloves} &  wash.  I LOVE handwashing wool.  I once thought the only way to own wool was to dry clean it or get rid of it when it got dirty.  So glad I was set straight around the time June was born thanks to cloth diapering with wool.  Handwashing is not only easy, but very enjoyable.

I truly have developed an addiction to the Wurm slouchy cap pattern.  Coralee has said I need to stop & KNIT SOMETHING ELSE.  I need to knit one more, just one more!, for me & then I promised her I would move on…for awhile at least.  June got a Wurm today and, no, the child does not need anymore caps but she loves wearing her mama’s handknits so it’s hard to resist.  I made a mini of the Wurm pattern, only knitting 5 repeats but sticking with the 100 stitch cast-on.  She will probably be able to wear this forever.  I used an entire 50g ball of a DK merino/silk blend for the fuchsia & about half a skein of Blue Sky Alpacas for the rust–it’s like wearing a woolly cloud & it’s delightfully squishy.

Has the autumn creep found you yet?

Accidental Spelling Comedienne

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As part of Coralee’s homeschooling, we use the New York Time’s Learning Network a lot.  Back when I taught K-5 Talented & Gifted students in the public schools, I relied on this website for much of my curriculum.  Last year Coralee was required to add a word to her spelling/vocabulary notebook daily using the Learning Network’s ‘Word of the Day’ blog.  She also had to write an original sentence, using the word correctly, for each word.  Each time a new word was added to the current list, she had to write a sentence for each of the previous words.  We usually worked toward a list of 10-15 words before I gave her a spelling/vocab test.  It all proved a bit too much, so this year she adds three words to her list per week & writes sentences for those words on the two “off” days.  She uses vocabulary.com for definitions, synonyms & antonyms.

I was flipping through her spelling/vocab notebook from last year & gave myself a good chuckle over many of her original sentences.  There was a running ‘Frozen’ theme at one point, multiple sentences about Hans, Anna, & Elsa.  She also seemed to draw from her Iowa history lessons for many sentences, that’s got to be a good thing.  The bulk of her writing, however, centered around her younger brother Merritt or birding.  I typed my favorite sentences below (spelling/vocab word in bold)–hope you enjoy a little chuckle, too, whilst reading.

* * *

He woke up and found toothpaste in his omelet and cereal in his drink.  I asked the doctor if it was just senility kicking in, he said no it was just the maid.

My grandmother tells me “just senility kicking in” whenever she forgets.

I have hoodwinked Merritt many times into going to the basement with me.  –Mom’s note: this is SO TRUE.

Field corn is an extrinsic part of a white-tailed deer’s diet.

Corn syrup is an extrinsic part of the American diet. –Mom’s note: can you tell we live in Iowa?

Our friendship seemed irreparable after I smashed his thumb with the hammer.

Let’s just say that my excuse for buying 200 candy bars was not unassailable.

To gawk is to disappoint granny.

It was like he required an anesthetic to pull a bandaid off.

Merritt is an incorrigible boy, especially when he locks himself in his room and refuses to do his homework.

This word is expanding my lexicon.

My secret tepee hidden in the woods is known as Coralee’s Hermitage. Mom’s note: I think this might actually be true.

After breaking his diet for a month, Kyle was looking a little paunchy.

After the Easter egg hunt, Merritt had found all the eggs (or stolen them).  You can guess I felt enmity.

I felt enmity for our rooster, while he was alive. –Mom’s note: this is true.

I went to a lecture on plant “feelings,” the professor’s dogmatic attitude is to blame for me failing the Poison Test. –Mom’s note: this sentence was accompianed by a doodle of a professor named Awesome Phil touching a bunch of apparently poisonous plants & saying “Ow, that hurt.”

The president wished to repeal the law banning dogs, but Congress did not.

The Congress really had the President in an untenable position, so he just decided to forget freeing dogs.

The buff, sinewy movie star was filmed in many wrestling movies.

Christmas morning is a jovial time for Merritt and I, but not for Mom and Dad and I quote, “Why are you awake already?”–Mom’s note: true story.

My mom says I’m a swindler. –Mom’s note: I think I’ve been misquoted.

The mallards nesting by the dock scolded me when I came too close with loud quacks.

My Great-Grandma went to a quack thinking she had cancer, but he just said it was a cold.

When the creature I loved dearly began to quack and swim I had mixed feelings about my cat.  I took my cat to the doctor and he said, “I may be a quack, but I do know that ducks aren’t allowed at a clinic.”

The trees at the cabin look nebulous in the morning fog.

Papa hadn’t cleaned his glasses lately, so everything he looked at seemed nebulous. –Mom’s note: true.

If you have an arch enemy, your best bet is to eschew them.

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During the fall the temperature cascades and so do the leaves.

* * *

 Happy Friday!

Yarn Along {life hums along & babies grow up}

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Not sure when my baby Coralee, my firstborn, became such a lady, but the fact that her foot is now the same size as mine & we are very close to literally seeing eye-to-eye should have been a clue. When I brought her home from the hospital 12+ years ago I was 20 years old myself & naive & clueless (we all are, right???). The past dozen years raced away from me so fast I feel like life has given me whiplash. We ventured outside this morning to take photos of my latest knit Wurm cap–I’m addicted to the pattern again (the brim is GENIUS, check it out if you haven’t). After finishing Megan’s Wurm last week, I’ve knit this one & cast on another in oatmeal & teal. As I flipped through the photos, I focused on Coralee’s captured gaze & realized she will be gone into the world before I know it & I cried. She is so beautiful. Sometimes I can’t believe she is part of me–how did I get so lucky with such a stunning daughter both outside & in? Mamas’ hearts are tested so much in the course of 18ish years (& forever after)…it’s good sometimes to peer into their eyes & realize that little baby you held & nursed & ached for many years ago is still there & always will be, no matter how far the years take you from that beginning. No matter how much the exterior changes, grows, ebbs & flows…no matter how much you change yourself.

Joining Ginny

Yarn Along {School Along}

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I’ve been slowly easing Coralee (my 7th grader) into the start of school.  This is her second year of the Home School Assistance Program.  As part of the program, she participates in Concert Band & Jazz Band every other day at the local middle school, meets with a cooperating teacher from the district once a month to check progress, & receives the bulk of her instruction at home from me.  I think I have a better grasp this year on what is reasonable to accomplish in a year and what isn’t–I was much too overzealous last year.  Merritt started school last week Monday, but I don’t plan to implement the full schedule for Coralee until after Labor Day.  We worked last week Wednesday to clean the loft & go through all of last year’s materials.  Since that time she’s been working daily on Pre-Algebra & also started a G3 literature class online.  This is her first online course & she’s done very well navigating the quirks that go along with online learning.  Her first assignment was to read Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki-Tikki-Tavi & participate in a dozen discussion threads regarding the plot.  Math has never really been her forte, but her lesson this week on the Pythagorean theorem thrilled her!  I think it was the drawing aspect of it that she enjoyed the most–she excels at drawing–I included a photo of her notes from the lesson.  June is 3yo & not attending public or private preschool like her siblings did at this age, but she has managed to find some fairly “preschool” activities to occupy her time in the loft in the mornings.  The size of the scissor she chose to work with was a bit crazy, but she insisted she use the “real” scissors.  Cutting pieces of Sugar ‘N Cream yarn directly from the spools is now one of her favorite pastimes.  She filled my empty coffee mug with her work.

I’ve been mostly reading homeschool curriculum this past week.  I finished knitting a Wurm cap for a friend of mine who writes a wonderful blog here about being car-free  with a family in the Pacific Northwest (she is also an artist with a beautiful etsy shop).  She chose some very earthy, calming colors for her cap–Lost Lake & Forest.  I used Knit Picks Swish DK which I always find to be soft with a lovely sheen.  I’m also still working on Martin’s scarf.  Martin the Monarch did eventually fly away over the roof of our house with no issues.  Happy endings in daily life are to be cherished no matter where you find them.

Joining in with Ginny this week.

Pink Procession

Solanum lycopersicum

Solanum lycopersicum

This week marks the beginning of one of Coralee & my favorite parts of summer: the ripening of our German Pinks!  According to the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, this Bavarian heirloom (Solanum lycopersicum) is one of the founding varieties of Seed Savers, cultivated & donated by the founder herself, Diane Ott Whealy.  Coralee saved the seeds from our crop of German Pink tomatoes last summer as part of her fall homeschool science project.  She germinated the seeds in wet paper towels on top of the refrigerator this spring & we transplanted the leggy ladies into the garden in May.  It looks like we have a fairly average crop of fruit growing this year from two plants (I’m guessing about 12-15 tomatoes total).  Each heirloom weighs between 1-3 pounds & is so much fun to hoist off the vine!  We use only four of these lovelies to make our special ‘orange & honey’ tomato soup.  Recipe next week!

Fourth Grade

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Merritt, our second-born, started fourth grade today. He struggles a lot at school. He has diagnosed ADHD & Tourette Syndrome (motor tics only, vocal tics have subsided) & is not medicated for either condition–our choice based on MANY factors. He tests at the “Mensa” level in terms of IQ. He is creative & interesting & has a very, very large vocabulary….but he hates school. He tells everyone he hates school. The only part about school he will admit to enjoying is PE class. This year, due to where we live & the fourth grade schedule, he has to board his bus home halfway through PE class (along with two other students from his grade). So he will miss half of the only class he claims he enjoys. He knows this & seems surprisingly okay with it. He woke up this morning wishing school and summer were one whole year long EACH. Morning is often a very volatile time here for Merritt, but after telling me his wish, he proceeded to get ready for school with no fuss. He even let me style his hair (aka: comb his hair) without any complaints. He ate his breakfast of a bagel & cream cheese, took his fish oil pill, & then asked to finish a homework paper on division he had neglected to work on all summer. WOW. Way to go, Buddy. You started your first day of fourth grade like the amazing guy we all know you to be–thank you for a wonderful morning.

Happy First Day of School!

{Please ignore our front stoop–gosh, I did not realize how awful it looks until after I took the photo!  At least I managed to hose the chicken poo off last night.  Winning!}