Friday, May 26, 2017

Garden of Eden

I thought I might take a day and try to eat nothing but what Adam and Eve would have eaten in the Garden of Eden.  I went out to my garden (which is certainly NOT anything like the Garden of Eden), plucked a leaf of mustard greens, and munched on it. 
 Very tender, kind of boring all by itself.  Not very filling.  On to the strawberry patch:
So sweet, juicy, and delicious!  But the bunnies and birds have been helping themselves, so there were only a handful left for me.  Still hungry, so I raided the fridge for more fruits and vegetables.  I wanted some crackers and hummus, so I made up a whole story to convince myself that Adam and Eve could have smashed up some chickpeas, added some spices from their perfect garden, and made hummus.  I supposed they could have made a fire, harvested some wheat, smashed it into flour, and baked some crackers. By the end of the day, I was attributing all kinds of skills and resources to the first people, imagining that they grew sugar cane and cocoa and...poof!  Oreos.

Taco night

Sarah and I went to Kroger this morning.  It happened to be right at the time that a Kroger employee was going around picking out the old produce and marking it way down in price.  I went behind her and snapped up everything I could.  I got a bag of Brussels sprouts and planned on roasting them for lunch.  When she marked down the cauliflower pearls, I snatched those up and hoped she would mark down the mushrooms so I could make vegan taco meat.  But she passed the mushrooms and went on to something else.  I continued to stalk her.  Suddenly she returned to the mushrooms, picked up a box of baby bellas (which were over $4), and marked them 99 cents.  Taco night!  I had to pay full price for the walnuts needed to complete the meat, but I saved enough on the cauliflower and mushrooms to make up for it. 

 Noah, who almost never refuses to eat anything, hated the Brussels sprouts, but he ate four tacos.

I also made nachos.  This particular cheese sauce is made in the blender and has roasted red peppers and oatmeal in it!  It never ceases to amaze me what can be made with only plants. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer school

And so it begins...the difficult season of homeschooling in the summer when the neighbor kids get out of school.  Every summer, I question why we keep it up all year long.  So this post is to remind  and encourage myself why we're doing this:

1. They would forget so much over the summer that we would spend half the fall reviewing.
2. A little structure is good for them, even in the summer.
3. If we didn't school in the summer, we would have to do a lot more during the other nine months of the year.  Slow and steady seems better.
4. There's no abrupt transition into the first day of school in the fall.
5. We can be flexible and take breaks all year round for vacations, emergencies, playing in the snow, other unscheduled opportunities, etc.
6.  It just makes no sense to me to do nothing for three months.
7.  What would I do all day?

Noah stayed up late last night to get today's independent work done (he's focusing on biology and math this summer, adding history in the fall).  Then he was up early to hang out with his buddy next door.  Normally, we would start our day with devotions and our read aloud book (which is currently The Scarlet Letter) and then get into our subjects that we do together (geography, English, Korean).  There's an hour of mandated quiet time in there somewhere.  But today I let him go out before we got anything done, because:

1. It's a beautiful morning, and the fresh air and sunshine are good for him.
2. It's supposed to rain this afternoon, so we can do our work while it's raining.
3. The neighbor boy is a nice kid and a good friend for Noah.
4. Sarah was still sleeping, and I hardly ever wake her. The girl needs lots of sleep, and if she doesn't get it, we all pay for it.
5.  He finished his math and biology last night.
6.  I'm a nice, compassionate, flexible person, not a rigid, mean ogre.

When Sarah woke up, I gave her the option of going outside to play before school.  I told her it was going to rain later so she could go out and enjoy the outdoors now.  She looked suspicious and said, "So you're just giving me a free pass to go outside before I get anything done?"  I said yes, and she surprised me by choosing to do her math first.

Sarah had just finished her math and was about to go outside when Noah came in and said, "I have an hour till I meet Ben again, so let's get our together work done."  Sarah was not in favor of that since she on her way out, so I let her go.  I did English and Korean with Noah, which I will have to repeat with Sarah later.  He got away before I could get to geography, so we'll do that later too.  The principal thinks I'm too flexible, and maybe I am, but I don't think he understands how difficult it is to strike the right balance between military school and complete freedom.  But we both have the same goal: well-rounded, happy adults who have good memories of their childhood, and who are prepared for whatever God has planned for each of them.

Update: It did finally start raining in the late afternoon, and we did eventually get all the schoolwork done. I finished teaching at 10:30 p.m. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Baby robins

During our unusually warm February, I watched a pair of robins build a nest in a lilac bush that I could see from my bedroom window.  It was easy to watch their progress, because the bush wasn't blooming yet.  Over the next few weeks, the bush filled out with leaves and eventually blossoms, and the nest was completely obstructed from view.  But I knew it was there, and I could easily pull back a couple branches to see inside it. Mother Robin laid four beautiful eggs in it, and then the fun began.
 May 5--the first three hatched. So tiny and helpless.
 Day 2--the last one hatched.  He was smaller than his siblings. I named him Glennie.
 Day 3--Always hungry
 Day 4--Sleeping
 Day 5--The oldest three open their eyes.
 Day 6--Glennie opens his eyes.
 Day 7--The oldest three are getting stubby feathers. Glennie is the one asking for food.
 Day 8--Growing so quickly!
 Day 9--A full nest
 Day 10--Really starting to look like birds
 Day 11--Getting crowded in there
 Day 12--The oldest three hop and stumble away. Glennie has the nest all to himself.
Day 13--Glennie is gone. Only poop remains.

June 3 update: Wonder if this is Glennie....

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Putting out fires

It was one animal crisis after another today.  I looked out the window and saw a bluejay attacking one of my baby robins.  I had to run out there in my nightshirt to shoo the bully away and put the little bird back in the nest.

Next it was Shiloh falling off the top level of her cat tree.  She was sound asleep and slid right off, getting herself firmly stuck between the wall and the post of the tree.  I had to pull her out and comfort her.  She was out of sorts for awhile and needed lots of comfort.

Then I opened the van door and found a baby robin inside!  I have no idea how it got in there or how long it had been in there, but it was happy to escape.  He flew out and landed right in the middle of the street, so I shepherded him over to the curb and stayed with him until he got out of the street.  There was bird poop all over the inside of the van: the back seats, the front seats, the dashboard, the floor.  Thankfully, Mike cleaned it all up, but it still smelled like poop in there a few minutes later when I went to pick up the pastor's daughter.

I felt like I had purpose today and made a positive difference.  I love animals.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Of robins and moms

I was having a rough day.  Mike is gone for two days for work.  I'm in charge of a big youth group event tomorrow and had to make some decision and phone calls about that today.  Sarah was argumentative, moody, rude, and acting like a spoiled brat.  Noah was annoying her and making it worse, and the two of them were fighting.  Sarah dissolved into tears because there are no Fuji apples in the refrigerator.  Teaching school was frustrating.  I had break the news to Noah that his chinchilla died.  All day I was looking forward to gymnastics, because it's not my night to drive the carpool.  At 4:30, the mom whose turn it is to drive called and said her daughter isn't going tonight so she's not driving.  I almost cried.  I still had to get everyone fed, finish grading math, go over the corrections with them, water the garden, etc. etc. etc. and now no hope of any kind of reprieve.  In a moment of desperate selfishness, I asked my facebook friends if anyone could take Sarah to gymnastics.  One of them responded right away that she could, and I immediately felt guilty.  I almost never shirk my parental responsibility and put it on someone else.  But she was willing and available, and I was mentally unstable, and Sarah was excited about the opportunity to talk to someone besides me, so I gratefully accepted the help.

I've been watching a nest of robins for a couple weeks.  Today, three of the babies flew clumsily out of the nest and started hopping around the yard and testing their wings by taking short haphazard flights.  They were all squawking for food, help, and/or attention, and the mother robin was working her tail off, digging up worms, feeding the babies on the ground as well as the one still in the nest, keeping track of all of them by herself.  At least one of the babies was always following closely behind her, chirping incessantly.  The mothers in nature always convict me and inspire me when I think I'm having a hard time.  You never see a mother robin just start flapping around, pecking her husband, smacking her babies with her wings, spinning out of control, and screaming like a maniac. They're always loving, calm, gentle, and in control, doing their job without complaint or fanfare.  Lord, make me more robin-like.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Outside school

We had poetry class outside today.  The neighbor's dog, Hank, was barking the whole time. One of the assignments was to write a couplet with alliteration.  Here's what we came up with:

"How can Hank have a happy home
by boldy barking for a big bone?"

No, the rhyme isn't perfect, but it's hard to combine rhyme with alliteration. Rhyming on its own is easy, and so is alliteration, but putting them together into a couplet inspired by a dog is not so easy.

What's his name?

Sarah (looking out the window): Oh, look! There's what's-his-name!
Me (getting up to look, seeing a stranger in the neighbor's yard): We don't know that guy.
Sarah: I know. That's why I called him "what's-his-name".
Me: "What's-his-name" refers to someone you know but whose name you can't remember. Not a complete stranger.
Sarah: Don't hold me to such a high standard.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bosnian cooking class

My friend Nerma invited me and our friend Ann to her house to learn how to make a Bosnian dish called burek.  It's traditionally stuffed with meat and cheese, but of course Nerma veganized it.  We listened to Bosnian music while we worked.  First we watched Nerma roll out a little ball of dough until it was huge and as thin as paper.  Then she stuffed it with zucchini and rolled it up, and baked it in a special Bosnian pan. When it came out of the oven, she poured milk (non-dairy, of course) over it, which Ann and I thought was strange, but it was delicious!

 Then it was my turn to roll out a ball of dough.  It was definitely not as easy as Nerma made it look, and I didn't do it right. Ann tried next, and she didn't do any better than I did.  Nerma has the gift for sure.

Ann and I stuffed this one with zucchini and red peppers.  She said it looked like a colon. Then we were supposed to roll it up by lifting the tablecloth.  We weren't very good at that either.  We made and ate lots of them.  Nerma had to rush off to her daughter's school, so Ann and I cleaned up the kitchen, washed the dishes, and decorated Nerma's fruit.  :)
Such a fun, interesting, delicious experience!

Let all creation sing!

May 12, 2017 I was in the garden (one of my favorite places to meet God) and I noticed some ducklings way down the creek. I had been waiting for them to hatch, and this is the first day I saw them. I went to the house to get binoculars. I stood in the yard and watched them through the binoculars for awhile. Gradually, I took small steps to get closer without scaring them. It took me a good fifteen minutes to reach the bank of the creek, where I stood still and watched the babies swimming and eating. They were so tiny and cute. I wanted to see them closer, so I prayed that God would let them know that I love them almost as much as He does and would never harm them. Then I asked Him to send them closer so I could see them better. Right then, they turned in my direction and started swimming slowly towards me. They were still a long way off and I didn't really think they would get much closer, because they knew I was there. It took them awhile, but they kept swimming slowly but steadily right for me. When they got directly in front of me, the mom actually stopped, turned to face me, and presented her nine babies to me. She looked proud. I thanked her for showing me her babies, and of course I thanked God. I started singing praise songs right there with the birds and the creek and the ducks chirping along. It was absolutely glorious. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Vegan lasagna

Noah requested vegan lasagna for his Gotcha Day dinner tonight.  I went to Kroger this morning to see what vegetables I could find marked down.

 I made cheese with the cauliflower.
 Sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, kale, carrots, red peppers, orange peppers, and added a jar of pasta sauce and some seasonings.
Layered noodles, sauce/vegetables, and cheese, baked it like lasagna. Next time I would use more noodles and/or less sauce, because it was a little goopy, but Noah liked it.

Sarah's parody

Today we read "The Germ" by Ogden Nash:

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

 Sarah was inspired to write this parody:

A fearsome creature is the gnat.
It builds its little habitat.
Flying in the air so small,
only to land on your basketball.
It flies on its tiny wings.
It gives you bumps by its stings.
Should you, my poppet, run away,
it will find you without delay.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day

Happy May Day!  One of my favorite holidays.  It's not as easy to get the teenagers motivated to make and delivery May Day baskets as it was when they were little, but I dragged them out of bed and got them to do it.

Our neighbor has a very prolific lilac bush and gave us permission to snip some to help fill the baskets.  Then the fun part: ringing the doorbell, running for it, and hiding in the bushes to watch.

 We ended going way off the route I had planned, because some people weren't home, and we ended up by Cracker Barrel, so I treated the May Day elves to a surprise breakfast.