Remembering Nannie

The Dearliest’s grandmother passed away last Wednesday, and I have spent the recent days thinking about the conversations we shared over the years. Stories about WWII, movie stars she met, and life in Ireland before her immigration. My favorite stories of course were the ones she told of the Dearliest. I could listen to her all day.

You will be missed, Nannie, but you leave a legacy behind, and not one of your children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren will forget you.

Nannie, Me, LK (2008)

Risky Ventures, Parties and Bumps, the Quiet in Between

We went for a walk the other day. It was a risky venture, with rain in the forecast and all that, but we didn’t much care. At least, we didn’t until we heard the first rolls of thunder.


“Uh, Mom?”

“Yeah,” I replied, turning the stroller around. “We’d better head back now. That’ll be here in 10 minutes.”

The first sprinkles fell just a few hundred feet from home, and fortunately for us it was a slower storm so the hammering wind didn’t hit until after we made it inside. By that point we didn’t care again, because we all had hot chocolate and popcorn and a warm heater.


Squeaky turned 5!


Drama-loving Pokado brought excitement to the party by splitting her head half an hour before people were scheduled to arrive. Fortunately it wasn’t super serious, the Dearliest was working nearby, and he was able to come home and patch her up with only minor delays to cake and ice cream.


Quiet time happens almost every day (Sunday is often an exception in favor of family excursions). It is more difficult here than it was on the mountain, since space is more minimal, but I have found a setup that works (most the time) and allows me an hour or so of (mostly) quiet while Arc and the Princess take their naps.

Quiet time generally looks like this (complete with laundry waiting to be dealt with):


The kids switch off which location they get, and the rules are simple. No talking, no noises, no getting up except for water or restrooms. They read/ look at books, color, or do other quiet activites that don’t involve toys. Legos/ Magformers are sometimes allowed.

The key, I have found, is to make sure it is ALONE time. Even my social butterfly benefits from an hour of not seeing her siblings, and my go-go never still LK seems calmer the rest of the afternoon if he has some time away from the others.

Does it always work? Nyet. In fact, as I’m writing this the kids have taken their quiet time creations and banded together to form a rescue squad of horses battling floods and burning buildings. Quiet time is nearing an end anyway, so I’m inclined to let it ride this time and not enforce the last 5 minutes.

Cherry Marinara

When we realized just how much our cherry tomatoes were going to produce, I made immediate plans for canning marinara sauce. The Dearliest was somewhat skeptical at first, because cherry tomatoes aren’t Roma tomatoes and they were loaded with seeds.

A week passed, during which there were grapes to process and colds to fight. Finally, it was time to mount the first ever Mass Marinara Cook-Off. We spent two days picking tomatoes, and I really should have taken two more days to do the remaining steps. But no, I decided to blanch, puree, sauce, AND can in one. My feet were sore.

Fortunately I did have some faithful helpers!

There is at least one more batch of equal size still ripening in the garden, and I look forward to it with eagerness. And promise of a foot massage.


An Unaverage School Day

tmp_6694-wp_20160929_18_11_53_pro449149053Last week we were coming off colds and in that state where physical energy is wild (but limited) and book concentration is a joke. Too well to stay in bed, but not well enough to study, we took a walk instead.

It became primarily a lesson in observation. One of them noticed a bird on the wire above us, so I asked them to I.D. it, which they did (dove). I then asked for more information, and they proceeded to mimick the various dove songs, tell me about its food, and then a cat wandered across our path.

So we talked about cats.

Pokado saw a pretty purple flower in a garden, and I intended to steer discussion to parts of a flower and root systems when the 3 year old shouted, “PLANE!”

Guess what we talked about next.

The walk went like that for 20 minutes, then when we got back I spent another 20 minutes looking up things like basic aerodynamics*, do female cows have horns, and is there gravel in asphalt.

To me one of the best things about homeschooling is when a kiddo asks me a question, and my answer is, “You know, I don’t know! Let’s find out together.” They see me excited to learn along with them, and that fuels their own excitement.

* I should mention that I now try to look up potential walk topics before we leave, because I KNOW why a plane flies, but I hadn’t thought about it in so long I couldn’t think how to explain it in kid-friendly terms.

The Advent of Fall Part 2: The Hat of My Life



For me cooler weather means a switch from skirts to pants and sandals to boots. Sweaters and scarves evict the t-shirts and tank tops, and I bring out my favorite hat. It’s my favorite for a single reason: It was present at the beginning of my relationship with the Dearliest, and it has been a major accessory in the Falls and Winters since.

Its story actually began in the 90s, when a visiting uncle arrived wearing The Coolest Hat Ever. My young teen self asked him where he got it, and my heart sank when he said the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. I wasn’t likely  to go there any time soon. I felt doomed to give up my desire.

Fast forward to the year 2000 and high school graduation, at which point the parents of my small graduating class pooled together to send us (with a few chaperones) to Disneyland for 3 days. My first thought when I heard was “THE HAT!” (My second was along the lines of Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain.)



Disneyland came, and Indiana Jones was closed for repairs. Fortunately for me, the gift shop remained open, and willing myself to Not Look at the price tag nor hear the amount when I stood at the register, I bought myself the most expensive hat ever. I wore it a time or two, but for years it simply hung on my wall. Every time I looked at it, I felt happy.

Fast forward again to 2006, during which I met The Dearliest (online, on a homeschool forum), we took a liking to each other’s writing and began an exchange of emails. Some 4 months and 500 emails later, he drove down to California to meet me at an Applebee’s.

The next month he returned for a weekend with my family, and we both acknowledged something serious was happening. The month after that I found myself on a plane to Oregon to meet the Dearliest’s family. I was nervous and wore my heeled boots and The Hat, because I feel stronger when I’m in them.


Christmas 2006

It turned out that the Dearliest had a similar hat, and as the visits back and forth increased, the hats held their own. He wore his on his weekend visits to me, and I always flew up with mine. It was easy to spot him in the waiting crowds (height notwithstanding), because I need only look for the hat that looked like mine.


May 2007

The Hats traveled up the coast with us during our honeymoon, and they settled into our first house with us. I wore mine when we moved to the mountain, and again when we left it for town.


It has seen every major moment of my life, and in my mind that makes it the most valuable hat ever.




The Advent of Fall Part 1: Pie

tmp_10027-img_20160928_144449-582144024We break from the canning frenzy to bring you the first pies of the season. Pumpkin, of course. The Dearliest makes sure to keep me in constant supply of the needed ingredients year-round, and my youngsters make sure to keep me on my toes when I’m cooking it. Judging by the finger swipes, I had an off-guard moment.

Pie making is easier this year. I now have 2 kiddos old enough to truly be helpful (Pokado cut out the butter for the crust and measured ingredients, and LK did all the tmp_10027-wp_20160928_11_42_56_pro-372141833mixing), plus Squeaky, who tries very hard and can do things like fetch spices and spoons and rags to clean up the mess that invariably hits the floor.

When I sent the kids outside to play, Pokado asked to stay and help more (“Because I like you, Mom.”), so I gave her the pie dough scraps to “practice” with. After a she tired of rolling it, she sculpted a volcano and a snake before settling on her favorite–a horse.

tmp_10027-wp_20160928_11_47_03_pro-1062025848The horse refused to stand up for her, but instead of moving on to something else, she declared the horse was simply lying down. Clever girl.

Everyone is looking forward to dessert tonight! And breakfast tomorrow. And tea time tomorrow. Because PIE!

Stay tuned for another Advent of Fall post. It’s about something that has been with me since before I met the Dearliest, was there for our courtship, our engagement, on through our honeymoon, and is with me still. Here’s a sneak peek: