Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall....and stuff

We've been having lots of fun this fall. So much fun, that I haven't had any time to blog about it all!

We kicked off the first day of the season with an equinox party and bonfire at our home. A few families came from a new "homeschool" group called LATTE, which stands for "Learning all the time, everywhere". It's really a planning center for events and activities and is particularly suited to our autodidactical approach to education. The group was recently started by a friend I met at the local farmer's market, and it's been a wonderful way to incorporate the kids' interests within the local community. Leslie heads up the children's table there at the market with activities and crafts each week. She brought materials to our party to make fall garlands and apple stars. The kids all had a great time collecting leaves, twigs and acorns to thread onto the garlands. Then we enjoyed a hot dog roast and s'mores over a cheery fire for supper. And last of all, we skyped my friend Lauren in Australia to meet her family and see what their brand new spring looked like in the southern hemisphere.
The kids are all growing, especially Jude, who has gotten quite chubby and quite too big for his newborn sized clothes. Here he is at his first trip to Grandma's. Big sister Virginia snapped this picture, as well as the one above of the fire in the wood stove. She experimented with several settings before she found one that captured the dancing flames just right. She does a lot of experimenting these days. You might stumble on a perfect, rectangular patch of new grass on the bare patch under the old swing set, a half finished model of a lego fire truck, and many bracelets with various arrangements of beads strewn about the house. Especially since my friend, Kelly, and I coordinated a jewelry making class with Kelly's girl scout troop led by two local artisans, whom my girls had gotten to know a bit at the farmer's market. Both Virginia and Miriam made lists of the things they wanted to learn this school year, and jewelry making was at or near the top for the two of them.

Miriam is the little mama to her brothers and loves to have them accompany her on endless pretend trips to the market and real picnics that she packs up for them to take outside. This morning she drew a calendar with illustrations in each box for the chores they had to do each day. When I asked her why she only had "feed the cat" for one day, she informed me that that was the day they would visit Virginia and help her feed her cat, but they did not have a cat to feed every day.

Reuben is funny, and impatient. But you can't blame him too much when he is stuck in the middle and sometimes needs a little extra drama to get attention. We are all learning to be patient with each other. He loves super heroes, drawing monsters and dressing up as a fireman. We took a tour of the local fire station in his honor with the LATTE group. At four, he is proud to make himself snacks, which he learned by watching his sisters. Trail mixes are his specialty, but chocolate milk from scratch (a spoonful of sugar, a spoonful of cocoa, a spoonful of hot water, mix, then stir in milk) and a cup of tea are, well, also his cup of tea.

Seth is quickly leaving his babyhood behind. He's grown into a stocky boy with a bright mind and lots and lots of words. He is our earliest talker and has opinions too, which he never hesitates in sharing. He is also the loudest and largest for his age, which sometimes makes the two year old mood swings a bit challenging. In a matter of seconds he is the loving big brother who makes the baby coo and smile and the charging bull/screaming banshee who didn't get his way when Mama refused to let him ...wave a sharp knife in the air, pound the baby, flood the kitchen, play with fire, you get the idea. But he's almost always in the mood for a cuddle. They all are, and I'd better get as many in as I can before they think they're too old. (You are never too old from a mama's point of view).
We've also been enjoying the harvest. I let the garden go while recovering from the c-section and new baby days, but was grateful to still harvest some big sweet potatoes (which were so good, we ate them all already), a few acorn squash and some beautiful, colorful ears of Cherokee popcorn. I've been gathering acorns, too, soaking and drying them, and grinding them into flour, and making oodles of muscadine jam. It's hunting season too, and our neighbors have given us a generous portion from a buck they shot here in our neck of the woods. I made some stock with the bones and used it to make some warm, hearty stew with local veggies from the farmer's market, herbs from the garden, and some tender meat that was stuck to the bone. And I have steaks and roasts in the freezer for future recipes to try.