Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Apple Pies with Auntie

After our apple orchard adventure last week, Auntie Carrie brought over her handy-dandy apple corer/peeler/slicer so we could prep our apple pie filling for the fall. (True Confessions: we meant to make actual pies, but got really lazy when it came time to do the crusts.  They'll have to wait for another day).
In the meantime, the kids both had fun operating the new machine. 

Vera patiently watched and waited for her Mama to get done messing around in the kitchen and feed her!  Some Mamas!


Monday, September 29, 2014


Michaelmas- the Festival where we celebrate the Archangel Michael and his battle with the Dragon.  The battle serves as a symbol of our own daily struggles (large or small).  The fact that Michael always comes out a victor is a good reminder to us that we will always triumph if we have truth and light and right on our side! 
The children discovered a Michaelmas tableau as they enjoyed their breakfast.  Then it was out for our nature walk (which has lately morphed into a bike ride....) to search for and collect goldenrod to dye our Michaelmas capes. 

We found a huge bunch not far from the house, unfortunately most of it had just faded from the vibrant yellow it had been a few days ago. Luckily, though, we found just enough to fill our bike basket.  We enjoyed some early fall sights on the ride home.
 Kisses from Kolachi

Once we got home we prepared our goldenrod (stripping the yellow flowers off and throwing them into a pot of boiling water to steep).
 While our dye was boiling, I told the story of a country plagued by dragons and how the Archangel Michael defeated them by throwing stars and golden sunbeams down to earth, and we kneaded the story into our dough.

 We shaped it into a wonderful, fearsome dragon and put it aside to rise and bake.
 While it was rising, it was time to dye our silks.  I admit to not having actual 100% silks.....I found a wispy poly-blend at the fabric store last night (when I finally committed to a dyeing project).  It turned out well, but I'm sure would have been much more vibrant with real silk.
 As our silks soaked, we pulled out our dragon bread and nibbled on his tail and legs.  Each slice you eat gives you strength and courage to fight the 'dragons' in your own life.  Justin is a bit young for all this dragon metaphor talk, but Alex seems to understand it.  She talked about some of her biggest 'dragons' being talking in front of lots of people and being brave enough to touch snakes.
 Time for some more fortifying kisses from the dog.
 We rinsed our capes in cold water, dried them and fingerknit some ties to secure them.  For some reason, Justin was not excited about the cape.  I think pehaps the dragon talk could be too real, and he doesn't want to be challenged to actually battle a winged beast.  He just ate the bread and played with his knight peg doll.  Look at this yellow!  (We did add a few capsules of turmeric to get the color a bit deeper).
 Happy Michaelmas!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Visiting Professor and a field trip!

We had a visiting professor at the Marotz Homeschool today.  Uncle Sam joined us to present a lecture about the planets.  He's a natural teacher and storyteller, and had Alex engaged from start to finish.  She first designed a spaceship and drew up a list of everything she'd need for the trip.  Then they started the journey to each planet. 
 At each planet, Alex drew a picture of the most notable characteristics. Her final chalkboard was a masterpiece!
 Then we took a break and headed to the apple orchard with Auntie Carrie, Uncle Sam, Vera and Grandma Mary (who is in town for a few days!!)
Grandma Mary and Justin spotted the BEST apples in the orchard.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Grams and Gramps had ANOTHER surprise up their sleeves for the kids.  Every year, we've been able to join them in Ft. Lauderdale at their beautiful rental.  This year, however, they're doing something completely different!  They gave Alex and Justin a puzzle so they could try and figure it out.

 Here are the clues:
 Alex was a bit thrown off.  She saw Mickey and thought "Disney World", but then the rest of the photos were clearly (in her mind) NOT Disney World.  There was a bit of confusion until Grams and Gramps showed the kids a short youtube video.
That's the smile when she started to figure it out!  We're staying (as a big family group) in the exclusive Sweet Escape home (click on the link to see the video too!).  It's wild, crazy, over-the-top and will be a blast.  Oh yeah.....and Mickey?  We get to go to DISNEY WORLD too!!  I have some kids who suddenly are trying to earn all the stars they can so they have lots of spending money for January!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grams and Gramps Visit-- Happy Early Birthday, Alex!

Grams and Gramps made the trip up from Iowa to come do an early Birthday weekend with Alex (and, technically, me too....)  Alex was so excited to get her own microscope and slides.  We have to write this into our science lesson plans!  It will be really fun to see what things look like when they're magnified by 40 or 100 times!  She also received some beautiful knitting needles AND a rock tumbler to polish up all of the gems she finds in nature.  So fun!

(You may notice Kolachi's lovely accessory.  She's in season, and gets to wear her special pants if she wants to be out and about in the house with the family.  It's her second heat cycle, so this is the last one that we get to experience before she's spayed.)  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homeschool Group: Carpenter Nature Center

We've found a fantastic Homeschool group that we love meeting up with.  They are a group of Mamas and Papas who are interested in nature and experiential learning.  Technically we're a mix of unschoolers, Waldorf-inspired schoolers, and nature-inspired schoolers, and the mix works quite nicely.  We met at Carpenter Nature Center today for a homeschool program.  The educators at CNC are stellar, and the kids really enjoyed their program, animal encounters and scavenger hunt around the grounds.  We even ran into one of Alex's former MWS classmates and his family!  Small world!

Science class today was all about nature changing from summer to fall-- we were able to check off quite a few of the items on the scavenger hunt, including wild grapes (yum) and wild highbush cranberries (yuck!).  We ended our morning with a picnic with our new friends and collected enough buckeyes to fill our nature basket!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Feeding the ducks and settling in...

On the way back from Chik-Wauk, we stopped at the Gunflint Lodge, which hopefully will be the next resort we stay at.  They are dog-friendly AND have lots and lots of interesting educational classes and programs to take.  I saw one called "edibles" that I know Alex and I would have enjoyed auditing!
They also have bins of corn and sunflowers for feeding the wild critters....so Alex fed her many web-footed friends whilst Justin grabbed his fishing pole and got a few good casts in.
After relaxing at home, we ended the night with Alex's specialty dessert-- banana boats made on the woodstove!  Mmmm...what a fantastic vacation it's been.  Can't believe it's time to leave the woodsmoke and chilly air to head back home tomorrow morning.

Chik-Wauk Museum and Hike

After a little lunch in the cabin, we loaded up and headed to the end of the Gunflint Trail.  There's a lovely little museum up there, with great interpretive exhibits about the area.  They even have a kid's scavenger hunt, which always interests my two. 

After checking out the exhibits, we decided to take one of their many hiking trails to explore the area.  There are huge rocks for scrambling, LOTS of reindeer moss and we even found a (moose?) print on the way!