My Artistic Bird Girl

This year, the girls and I added an online watercolor course to our curriculum.  Though most of the techniques were already familiar to the older girls due to their classical art class they have taken the past 4 years, it’s still been a fun bonding time for us.  Last Thursday, while I cleaned out the garden and picked our last bouquet of zinnias before the winds were predicted to return, Natalie joined me outside to practice her watercolors. Natalie has been my bird girl AND my artist since she was little.  It is so amazing to see her completely surpass me in art.   To be totally honest, I think all the girls are better than me at this medium.  I just love seeing what they do and hopefully with a few more of our lessons I will be able to do what they do!

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Hike Day

Sometimes I don’t write in this little space for a week or two because life just happens and I don’t have a lot to write.  Then there are other times when I feel like I have so much to write, but I don’t know where to begin or how to compile my scatter-brained thoughts.  I think the latter is what has been happening these past few weeks…

I’ve been thinking a lot about our homeschooling journey, lately.  As with all journeys, there are different places that offer different views; some spectacular, some kind of boring, and others beautiful in their own way.

As I was pondering our homeschooling, it occurred to me that we have unintentionally broken our schooling into 4-5 year seasons.  My first season homeschooling was spent learning the basics, doing lots of arts and crafts, music, baking, and surviving with babies and toddlers.  I can still remember doing reading time on a bedroom floor while simultaneously building blocks with a toddler, or doing math under a play structure at the park while the other kids played in the sand.  These years were so precious, and offered a lot of freedom, but I started to feel as though we needed more structure.

The next 4 years we were part of a community that I loved, which offered wonderful content as well as great friends and a sense of purpose and structure that we had been lacking.  As with all things, it came with a few negatives such as losing some of the freedom I had so loved in the earlier days.  Honestly, I look back at both seasons with a lot of fondness.  One wasn’t necessarily “better” than the other — they both offered different things we needed at different times.

We are now entering yet another new season in homeschooling.  This year we joined a new community that is actually local to us, which offers me a lot more freedom and a few hours of free time.  Daniel’s job has also changed, allowing him to be home every night for our family dinners.  We have intentionally cut-back on some of the academics and extracurriculars to allow more freedom for hikes, field trips, reading together, and spontaneous activities.  (See pictures above of our first hike with our new community today!)

Again, this new season is not necessarily better than the last 2 seasons.  But, it is providing exactly what we need at this time in our journey — more rest, more freedom, and more freedom to rest!  I feel my joy and excitement for this journey being renewed and refreshed once again.

All that to say, change can be hard.  There is an adjustment period in everything.  But, it can also be so good.  There is not one “ideal” community or system out there, which is the beauty of homeschooling, really.  We are given the freedom to try, to experiment, to start over… sometimes daily!  And, that’s ok.  It is not the end-product we are after, but rather the process, the journey, and the relationships we are blessed to be a part of.  Each day is a gift, and as my children are getting older and I am seeing the days slipping away, I am more grateful for this gift, and want to be more intentional with our time together.

If you’re still reading this, thanks for listening to my ramblings!

P.S.  Who are those big kids in the pictures????

Fall Conundrum

It happens every fall…

I have grand plans to work on the garden and plant fall/ winter veggies…

Or, perhaps, I would try a “cover crop” to prepare my soil for spring…

Then along come these…

Zinnias that sprouted on their own from previous years of planting them…

And I look out my kitchen window, enjoying the color and the humming bird friends…

and the butterflies!  And… all my fall gardening plans go out the window, too…

My Kids are Weird

My kids are so weird!

We’ve done all the traditional apple breakfasts this week, (and still have more apples).  Apple pancakes– check!

Apple coffee cake — check!

Dutch baby with apple syrup — check!

Apple waffles — check!

Then I tried something new: Apple carrot cake breakfast cookies.  I was met with “Ews” and “Can I have cereal?”  (I told you my kids are WEIRD!  Except for Allison who happily enjoyed a cookie date with me — she’s now my favorite!)

Can I tell you, these cookies are awesome!?  Some day… some day they will come back home and beg me to make these.  And, I gladly will!

Here is the recipe:

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup oat flour or whole wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup grated carrot, chopped smaller if desired (2 medium carrots)**
  • 1 cup finely chopped (or grated) apple (1 medium), no need to peel

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
  • In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together applesauce, honey (or maple syrup), egg and vanilla. Mix in the melted butter.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the grated carrot and apple.
  • Use a large scoop or measuring cup to drop 1/4-cup portions of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Use your fingers to gently shape the cookies and flatten slightly, as they won’t flatten on their own during baking.
  • Bake 14-15 minutes, until set and lightly golden. (If baking more than one pan at a time, be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.)
  • Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Fall

We had the most beautiful fall weather this weekend.  Windows open.  Candles burning.  Apple baking.  And, a family walk to the horse stables.  Unfortunately, it also included lots of naps trying to combat this head cold.  It wasn’t in the plans.  (Sickness never is, is it?)  Here I am Tuesday and my weekend to-do list is still unchecked.  It kills me.  It feels like my beautiful weekend was “wasted.”  Yet, this morning when I opened my devotions, the first line read, “Be careful not to attach your sense of worth to your performance.”  BAM!  I am feeling much better today, though still not 100% and I am reminding myself that each day is a gift.  No, I did not get to enjoy a family hike or gardening in the cool morning fog, but I was blessed to sleep and just be with my family, which I am convinced is why I am feeling a bit better today.

Apple Galette

Confession:  I don’t love apple pie.  I’ve learned to appreciate some if it’s not too gooey, is a little tart, and super fresh.  In other words, if it’s homemade the way I like it, (which is rare to find!)   But, over the years we have always been a fan of galettes and tend to go that way.  For one, they are so easy… and light and delicious.  Tonight we indulged in a galette after dinner, and didn’t even make a dent in our basket of apples.  I see lots more galettes in our future!

Here is the recipe we used:

PASTRY

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water

TOPPING

  • 4 Golden Delicious apples
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Step 1    

In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away.)

Step 2    

Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Step 3    

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples and dot with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border.

Step 4    

Bake the galette for about 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

Oak Glen 2018

They said it was a “great year” for apples… and indeed, it was!  Traditions are awesome, and picking apples is one of my favorites!  Oak Glen is just so beautiful, and we have our routine down by now.  Park, pick apples, hot dog lunch and apple cider, hike.

This year we even picked some fresh wild blackberries on our hike.  While we were picking, we passed a school group.  I heard the leader say, “Kids, don’t touch anything!”  “That’s the difference between homeschoolers and public schoolers,” I thought… The homeschool teachers, (us moms), were saying, “Find us some blackberries, too!  Go ahead and eat them!  Hey, climb that tree!  Ooh, jump over these rocks.”  Daniel even had them pet bees — something even I wouldn’t do.  But, that’s the beauty of having moms AND dads for teachers!

Until next year, Oak Glen…

It must be a long week… I just tried to wash my face with hair gel!

Truly, this week has not gone as planned.  Life has a way of doing that to you, doesn’t it? Throwing the unexpected at you and trying to overwhelm you, I mean.  The good news is, God is close to the broken-hearted.  In my weakness, He is strong.  I have felt unsure of myself this week.  But, He is my sure foundation; the Rock on which I stand.  Even as I type these words, (the Words of Truth), God is overwhelming me with a sense of peace.  His peace passes all understanding. I am grateful for the extra time I have spent with him this week, crying out for him to help me with my situation.  I am also grateful for his grace, as I have also selfishly wasted time when  I know I should have been seeking him.

Most of all, I am thankful that his mercies are new every morning, and that he has already won the battle.  My victory is in Christ alone!

It’s a Miracle!

You may see these pictures and think… “Poor thing!  How sad!”

Yes, it is sad to see my baby wearing the “cone of shame;” (name that movie!)  But, we are actually thrilled he is alive and only required a few stitches on the back of his leg.

I walked into the house from my morning jog, expecting everyone to be asleep as usual. Natalie came to me in tears and asked, “Did you let the cat out?”  My heart dropped.  She detailed the long, blood-curdling scream she had heard, and I told her “He’s gone, Sweetie.”  We both searched, seemingly in vain, as we cried.

An hour later, guess who appeared at our back door?  He was half covered in slime from some enormous animal, and had a back leg with a cut.  Other than that, we saw nothing wrong.

We found a long, coarse hair from either a coyote or bobcat on him, confirming our suspicion that he was in a wild animal’s mouth.  How did he survive?  That is a mystery… though I am certain God had his hand in it.  The vet was baffled and confirmed that our kitty is a miracle.

Angel, we’re so glad (and shocked) that you are alive!  Praise God!!

It Is Finished…

It is finally finished… no more home inspections, no more social worker visits, and most of all no more worrying about whether we will lose him… After 446 days of living with the Yeh’s, Xavy has now officially been declared a Yeh!  And we are thrilled to celebrate this “Gotcha Day” with him!  Here is a picture recap of our morning.

Arriving…

Waiting…

Swearing in…

Answering questions…

Hearing the “official announcement…”

Celebrating with a picture…

And another…

Walking out…

A picture with our sweet social worker…

And a picture with our dear friend who drove all the way out to the courthouse early in the morning because she is precious like that!  (And, she took all our pictures!)

It is hard to believe it is over.  Court took all of 2 minutes; (a bit anti-climatic after months of classes, months of waiting to be cleared, months of waiting for a placement, and then months of fostering!)  Yet, I am grateful for the wait.  God does all things in His timing, and learning to rest in Him and enjoy the process is a challenge, but a good strengthening of character!

Xavy, long ago God put it on Papa’s heart that he was to adopt a little boy, and teach him about his heavenly father.  Xavy, you are that special little boy.  Little did we know, that you would be one to show us our Heavenly Father’s love in new and deeper ways.  Thank you.  And, welcome to the family!!