October Fest

One weekend in October we went to an October Fest (not the beer-drinking kind) hosted by the Essex County Environmental Center, the same place where the girls go for their Frog Pond Science Club. It was a lovely community event where all the things on offer were free — crafts, a petting zoo, a snake man, music, and even some snacks!

It was such a fun time, and so refreshing to get away from the concrete and to enjoy some great nature!

Posted in Family, Nature | 3 Comments

Frog Pond Science Club

I signed Marica and Esther up for a “Frog Pond Science Club” class at the Essex County Environmental Center, which is about a half hour drive from our house heading into the mountains. Once you get past Newark, it’s a beautiful drive, especially this time of the year with all the autumn colours. The class meets once every month and they do fun things like catch frogs and tadpoles and then study them.

Last time we went, the teacher brought a toad into the lab and fed him earthworms, so the parents got to watch too. Laurelin was fascinated!

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Talking about Laurelin: while the two older girls are busy with their class, she and I get to hang out under the trees, lax out on deck chairs and explore. The class meets from 4 till 5pm, which is not ideal in terms of driving that time of day, but it’s so refreshing to get out in nature that I count it a trip well worth our time!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Cooking with friends

When I was in high school, a woman in our church (hi, Jantina!) got a bunch of us young’uns together for a day of cooking at her house. She gave us some basic recipes and tips and together we spent the day cooking and baking. Such a simple thing, but I remember that day very fondly and with much gratitude. I always thought I’d like to do something like that too, one day when I was a grown-up. And then I realized that, actually, I’m already a grown up, and I can do this now!

The nature of the church we attend in New York is that people come from all over the metropolitan NYC area, and we are very spread out. It really limits the contact we have with each other during the week, so whenever we get together it is great.

This was no exception. I wasn’t exactly teaching new skills to young’uns, because we’re all pretty close in age, but it was really fun just cooking together with a bunch of girls, to have an excuse to use my pretty tea cups (though looking at the photos now I notice that my table sorely lacked a tablecloth!) to drink tea of various sorts and eat the fruits of our labors.

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Esther and Marica did a bit of helping too. Here Esther is chopping mushrooms, which was very nice of her because she detests them!

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We made made bread and soup and a very nice dinner. It was a great team effort!

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And that reminds me, I should get my act together and start planning our next cooking day!

Posted in Food, Friends, Hospitality | 2 Comments

Some nice things

I like autumn. It’s not so hot, there are pretty colors everywhere, and the change of season brings all sorts of nice things like warm slippers and hot drinks, nice decorations and good smelling candles, and fun kids’ crafts…

I changed up the decoration on my buffet and put 3 cute little pumpkins on it, and they just make me happy with their cuteness.

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Earlier this month we made some coconut and orange zest shortbread, which tasted just lovely, and was fun to make with the kids.

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The shortbread goes quite nicely with a cup of pumpkin spice latte. (Make a cup of strong coffee, blend it with a cup of milk, a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin puree and about half a teaspoon of cinnamon, with a dash of nutmeg.)

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Another nice thing around here is that there is only one alien left among us, yours truly. The girls got their US passports in the mail and now officially have dual citizenship.

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Recently I realized that with the colder weather Laurelin will need her duvet out, which I then realized I didn’t have a cover for. So I rummaged in my fabric stash and combined 3 fabrics and some ribbon that were all actually intended for other projects in my mind, but combined perfectly to make this cute cover.

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Posted in Being creative, Food, Just life, Kids, Recipes | 5 Comments

If your daughter asks you for french toast…

If your daughter asks you for French toast, then you’ll be tempted to just say ‘no’. It’s a weekday, after all. But then you’ll remember that you want to be more of a ‘yes’ parent than a ‘no’ parent. So you’ll say yes.

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If you say yes, then you’ll remember that you have half a bag of frozen berries in the freezer that isn’t great for smoothies because all the raspberries and blackberries make for a very seedy (literally, not figuratively) smoothie. So you’ll turn the berries into a sauce for the french toast.

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If you make berry sauce for french toast, it will be so delicious that your 1-year-old will want to eat lots of it. She’ll like it so much she’ll smear it all over her hair too, so that her hair won’t miss out on the yummy sauce.

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If her hair doesn’t miss out on the yummy sauce, she will be a sticky monster. The sticky monster might ask you for some french toast!

(And sticky baby monsters are very, very cute.)

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If you know the book If you give a Mouse a Cookie you’d understand the reference of this post. :-)

Posted in Food, Funny things, Just life, Kids | 3 Comments

Marica the entrepreneur

When Marica was 4, I got a fancy new camera as a very generous gift. Marica then got our old camera, which was a little point and shoot that was on its way out but still in good condition. Unfortunately it got dropped a few times too many and gave up the ghost. Ever since then, Marica has been hoping and saving for a camera. But you know, you have to do a lot of extra jobs to make money around here, and that’s just not nearly as cool (or profitable!) as having a lemonade stand!

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We live on the same block as a big school. Another block away there’s a charter school, and two blocks in the other direction there is a big day care center. (Yes, people think we are crazy when they find out that we homeschool!) Suffice to say, we get a lot of foot traffic  past our house for about half an hour after school gets out.

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Marica got pretty excited about the idea of having a lemonade stand, so we said that if she bought the lemons and cups, I’ll help her with it. Well, the first day we had our stand, the lemonade sold out within 10 minutes! The second time we sold iced tea as well. We made more lemonade which all sold out and most of the iced tea went too. The third time we made lemonade, iced tea and we sold chocolate chip cookies! With those 3 stands she made about $70! Seeing that we told her we’d for pay half of the camera she and Ben picked out after researching online which went for $110, she had more than enough! The camera has now been ordered, and its arrival will be cause for great rejoicing. :-)

Posted in Being creative, Kids | 8 Comments

Why I quit Facebook (for now)

Disclaimer: this is simply my reasoning for giving up Facebook for the foreseeable future. I’m not saying any of this to make you feel like you should quit Facebook too.

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I thought I’d give a bit of an explanation to those who might be interested on why I deactivated my Facebook account 3 months ago (since a few people have asked).

Giving up Facebook was a decision that did not come to me easily. And I should probably say right from the get go that I’m not necessarily quitting forever. I really like Facebook. I like scrolling down the news feed and seeing what people have been up to, checking out their photos and reading some of the interesting articles they’ve linked to. I really miss that feeling of connectedness — showing someone that I’m interested in their life, even if it’s just with a simple ‘like’. I really miss the fact that I now don’t know when someone’s had a new baby, or got a new job, boyfriend, or girlfriend; I can’t see people’s wedding photos or their cute videos; I don’t know what people are thinking through the articles they’re posting. I’ve had withdrawal symptoms, where I’d sneak onto Ben’s Facebook account, until I asked him to change his password so I can’t do that anymore! I had become somewhat addicted… Going cold turkey on Facebook was harder for me than I thought it would be!

For months, I had a growing sense of unease with how much time I was spending on Facebook. It’s not like I was spending hours a day (or even an hour!), but since starting homeschooling, my time has become incredibly limited. I have precious few hours left in a day that aren’t taken up with homeschooling, or with preparing, eating and cleaning up meals, or just trying to keep this place looking half sane. And then I’d waste it by zoning out on Facebook?

I think part of the temptation for me to zone out on Facebook is that I’ve been so tired for months and I seem to just not have the self-control to handle it at this point in my life. It’s so much more beneficial to me to take a 20 minute nap than to zone out on Facebook for 20 minutes!

Tying into being tired: I was also concerned with the kind of browsing I was doing. Nothing about it was deliberate. It was the kind of aimless scrolling and browsing you do where you retain maybe 10% of what you read. I might be reading interesting articles, but in reality I was actually just skimming them. I was escaping reality and zoning out. Doing that in front of a T.V. makes you look like a slob; zoning out in front of a computer makes you look important. You can say something like “Mamma is busy on the computer right now” and it sounds like I’m doing something worthwhile.

Facebook’s nature makes it very easy to spend 2 minutes or 2 hours on there. With the result that I could quickly check it for 2 minutes on my way to the bathroom, get distracted and actually spend 10 minutes instead. And this might be right during a school day. If a friend knocked on my door uninvited at 10am and said, “I’ve come to show you my holiday photos!”, I’d invite them in, but politely explain to them that I’m in the middle of schooling my kids and that her photos would have to wait. Then why on earth do I think it’s legitimate to do that on Facebook? Somehow, somewhere along the track I lost the sense of how absurd my Facebook usage was.

All this has gotten me thinking more about how I want to live deliberately. I don’t want to be zoning out and wasting hours of my life that I will never get back. I want to think carefully about what is worth spending time on or for. I want to be present in body and mind for my children.  I want to remember that spending time on people is more important than spending time on things. I want to consciously be able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to things that will enrich the lives of my family. Interestingly, that means cutting out more and adding in less. For me, that meant cutting out Facebook for now, so that I could be more present. I’m making some other changes too, and need to make many more. But it’s a start.

Posted in Just life, Potentially controversial | 5 Comments