Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Look What I made!

I'm pretty proud of myself! My grandmom made me some knitted washcloths that I love. She doesn't knit anymore, so I decided to make myself some. These are just single crochet squares, and I tried to make a fancy edging for them :) The colors look a bit washed out in the photos, but in person, they're really pretty. I think the large one is a bit too large and the smaller one is a bit too small, so there will probably be a version 3.0 at some time. In the meantime, I can barely bring myself to wash the dishes with them, but I guess I've got to break them in sometime!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Good Gracious

It is after 10 pm. My kids are all asleep, my house is clean, the laundry is done... why in the world am I blogging?!?!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rainy Day Fun

Otherwise entitled, How Can We Pass The Time on a Rainy Day With No TV

Otherwise otherwise entitled, A Nearly Exhaustive Look At Our Day

This morning it was raining again. Not gentle rain like on Tuesday. Today we had a terrific downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. We HAD planned to work in the back yard today... SIGH I guess plans change. It was dark and gloomy, so we lit candles and snuggled up for some good books. But we all knew that could only last so long. And it was only last night that I announced to the kids that we would be keeping the TV off during the day from now on. YIKES

So what to do with three super active kids on a rainy day? Why, indoor bowling of course! We set up our little foam bowling set, and took turns bowling down the hallway.

Next up was lunch -- soup served in tea cups with tortilla chips on the side. During lunch, we read aloud from Little House In the Big Woods. So of course naturally we then had to play Little House.

And then K and I settled in on the loveseat to finish attaching Bianca's hair. Bianca is the Waldorf doll I made for K for Christmas. She'll get her own post complete with pictures at a later date. But due to running out of yarn, and waiting for a new ball of yarn to arrive, Bianca's hair has been incomplete. And today seemed like the perfect time to fix that. K helped, J watched, and W tried to jump on us repeatedly.

Somewhere in there we also played a few board games, did all of our lessons, baked two loaves of bread, baked a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread and a batch of rolls, made a pitcher of iced tea, emptied the dishwasher, got dressed, had some snacks, folded and put away yesterday's laundry (oops), and started another load running.

And just when I thought we might run out of things to do... the sun came out. The sky is a perfect blue with not a cloud in sight!!!! What happened to the ferocious storm of this morning? If it wasn't for the muddy ground and lingering puddles, I almost wouldn't believe it. So into the car to pick up our CSA share and let W take a nap... we had been postponing this (the car trip, not the nap) because the wet weather seemed dangerous for driving. And now that we are home, the boys have tumbled out of the house to go play in the mud, K is playing with chalboard in the garage, and I am about to go fix supper (chili and cornbread, yum).

So, we all survived, and we managed to keep the TV off too! Whew!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's Working Wednesdays

I have just a minute or two (literally) but I don't want to skip this. So this week's What's Working is dishwashing :) It's amazing how much better my morning goes when I wake up to a shiny sink! I'm on a roll... my sink has been clean for about a week now. I think this is some kind of record.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Playing Hooky

It's a rainy rainy Tuesday morning here at the owl nest. K only just woke up (she is having alot of trouble sleeping because of her eczema). So, since we aren't planning to make it to the park this afternoon, we're taking our day kinda slow. We'll get to our lessons eventually. Everyone is still in pj's. The boys are outside, having built a fort out of the climbing cube and our patio umbrella. They are hanging out together eating snacks. And I am getting a chance to catch up on my blog while K and I sip tea.

Yay for the rainy weather!

CSA Goodness

A few weeks ago, we starting receiving a half share in our local CSA . A friends picks up the CSA share, and I pick up half of it a day later. I have to say, I am REALLY excited about this.

First of all, I feel like I am really doing something I believe in. I've always wanted to join a CSA, but for reasons unknown I've never done it. I love knowing that my money is going to support local organic farming, and that I am getting super farm-fresh veggies for my family. The kids love preparing supper using veggies from "the farmer".

It's like Christmas for me, receiving our bag of organic, locally-grown veggie goodness, unsure of what treasures are in inside. Our produce share is dependent on what is ready for harvest that week and will change throughout the season. The first week, we received a giant bunch of green onion, some swiss chard, a head of leaf lettuce, some spinach, and a head of cauliflower with the beautiful leaves still attached.

Because I am determined not to waste any of this yumminess, I am getting to flex my creative kitchen muscles a bit. We are all eating more fresh veggies, which is great. Lots of salad, lots of green mixed into our dishes. Yum! I have to admit, though, I was stumped by what to make with the cauliflower leaves! Who knew they were edible! I ended up sauteing them in oil and garlic, and adding them to a super delicious bean and sausage soup. So Good!

So, in honor of that, here is the recipe I finally settled on (adapted from a recipe in Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely)

Bean and Sausage Soup
one lb bulk Italian sausage
lots and lots of fresh greens (we used about 4 cups)
a cup veggies (a yellow squash is called for, but this is one of those times when you can use up pretty much anything)
4 cups cooked white beans (can use two cans, drained)
4 quarts chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
Italian seasoning to taste
cheese to garnish (a romano or parmesan works the best but we have used just whatever we have)

Brown one pound of bulk sausage, set to the side (we make our own bulk sausage, seasoning up local grassfed ground beef).

Take lots of greens from the CSA, like chard and cauliflower leaves, and saute in olive oil. Add lots of fresh garlic, and chopped bunching onion or whatever onion you have on hand. Saute until greens wilt and onions are soft.

Add whatever other veggies you are including and saute for a moment or

Add remaining ingredients, including the cooked sausage, and heat. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with cheese on top, and fresh baked rolls or biscuits.


Garage Project

Here are a few "during" photos. The garage is all cleaned up (Owl Poppa can now walk around in there, and thus domestic happiness returns) and my project is halfway finished.

My plan is to rip out the hideous wood shelving and put in another super deep plastic shelving unit. With the available wall space, I want to make a workbench for J and a pegboard on the wall for his tools. The opposite wall, behind my furry model, I want to put up a display of kid artwork, and further organize the toys so that the kids are able to play. Lots of the boxes stacked on the floor and against the walls are things to take to Goodwill, so some of the clutter will be reduced. And in case you noticed, yes, our laundry area is in the garage, so that needs to be accounted for too. Part of the reason I want the kids to have a safe place to play out there is because, as I keep mentioning, I am always doing laundry! :) My sewing area is also in the garage (not because I want it there, but because there is no place else for it) so I would love to see that get some attention as well. But unfortunately, I can't make any more progress until Owl Poppa has his next few days off, unless I can convince W that the playpen is a really really cool place to hang out!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Morning Blues

and reds and purples. :) The kids spent the later part of the morning coloring pictures of Set and Osiris, after reading a little bit about Ancient Egypt for History today. W mostly colored on himself.

And speaking of colors, Owl Poppa is home today, and spending the afternoon planting flower bulbs in the front flower beds. It's going to look so pretty when he is done.

I'm off to finish my over-ambitous garage organization project, trying to create an indoor play space for the kids, for when it finally gets too hot to play outside. It's one of those projects where you have to rip everything out, making a huge mess, before you can get the organizational part done. Unfortunately, I'm only as far as the Huge Mess Stage, and it's been that way for two weeks at least. Owl Poppa is a bit unhappy about having to dodge so much junk just to put his work shoes in the garage. So, I am going to work diligently this cool and breezy afternoon and try to finish it up for him.

Maybe I'll post pics of the finished project later (there will be NO before photos though. It is really that bad out there).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

No Deep Thoughts Today...

I am just too tired :)

W is STILL boycotting sleep. Owl Poppa got up with W at 6:45 this morning, and I got to sleep in until 9:30! Amazing! Not that Owl Poppa got up with the kids (he is so great about that), but that I had all that time, in bed, by MYSELF!!!!!! And then I made a big breakfast (brunch, really) and stayed in my pajamas until after noon. So, I am still tired, but have a somewhat sunnier outlook.

In fact, while washing up brunch dishes, in my pajamas, I was a little overcome with how lucky and blessed I am. W (not in the least bit tired, mind you) was playing with his firetruck on the floor; K was sitting on the couch reading a book; J was at the coffee table playing with his playmobil. Owl Poppa and I were in the kitchen... I was washing up the dishes and he was cooking up the last of the pancake batter. It was one of those rare moments where everyone was happy and content and quiet. We were really quite the picture of domestic bliss. I had to stop what I was doing, and just take a deep breath and smile. It was all so sweet and was glad to have a chance to stop and savor it.

While it lasted. Because anyone who has spent any time with my little owls knows it didn't last long :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Weekly Update

This was our first week back to school after an extended break (again). We are starting out this time around using an organized curriculum and lesson plans (we're using a modified version of the Ambleside Online Curriculum, more on this later), and things are going very well.

I am actually a little bit shocked.

My hero, um... I mean, my good friend, Dawn inspired me to sit and think about what I wanted our weekly schedule to look like. I tried to be realistic about what we could actually accomplish, and to leave plenty of time built in for transitions, reistance, chasing W out of the crayons, and the other "real life" things that crop up when you are trying to do anything constructive with 3 children ages 6 and under.

After a week of implementation, I think we have something that will stick. YAY!!!! And we are able to get all of our academic pursuits taken care of by noon. Which leaves time to fix lunch and eat in time for W to go down for a nap at 1.

For anyone curious enough, our schedule looks something like this.
"School" in the a.m. Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri. Wednesdays are not school days, since J has capoeira on Tuesday nights and K has ballet on Wednesday mornings.

Daily work includes:
Aesops Fables
Math - J
Math - K
Reading Lesson - J
Reading Lesson - K
Copy work - J
Copy work - K
Spanish vocab
Daily Read Aloud Assignment

After a quick snack, and a chance to play outside, we then do one more "special subject":
Monday is History
Tuesday is Artist Study and Composer Study
Thursday is Park Day
Friday is Science Project
Nature Study is whenever we can fit it in

It really looks like alot all typed out like this, but all the lessons and reading selections are very short. We have been starting in around 9, and finishing up around noon, with lots of breaks. And since we are doing Math and Reading lessons separately, whoever is not with mom is having a chance to play outside or do quiet activities inside.

And I am just so pleased at the progress I've seen in just this week, especially with J. I think the schedule is agreeing with everyone. And the best part is, Owl Poppa is happy too!

Coming Attractions

To combat my writer's block, I'll list a few things I am planning to blog about...
Weekly recap: our first week back to schooling
Curriculum and Lesson Plans
Simplicity and Contentment
Deep Thoughts on Attachment

Now, if I EVER get a good night's sleep, maybe I'll have the energy to take the thoughts out of my head and into the wide (blogger) world. W seems to think that 3 am is the perfect time to be silly and awake. Owl Momma would like to politely disagree.

I'm off to make a cup of tea and hope today goes better.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patricks Day Recap

I didn't get to post yesterday, so I'm hoping all of you had a great St. Paddy's!

What a great day we had!!! The bigger kids and I built leprechaun traps the night before, and read a few St. Patricks Day books. In the morning, the little owls awoke to find notes from the leprechauns who got away from their traps, and consoled themselves with new St. Paddy's Day socks. W did his best to be a leprechaun, running around in green pajamas and stealing the "treasure" out of the traps.

We had shamrock bread for breakfast (I baked three huge rolls so that they connected like a shamrock), green beans with our lunch, Irish Potato candy for our snack, and a special surprise called "leprechaun stew" for dinner.

What is leprechaun stew? The kids asked the same thing. I told THEM that it was a secret recipe left in our kitchen by some leprechaun chefs. I'll tell YOU that is was steamed cauliflower and broccoli, seasoned with salt and pepper and garlic, some milk and butter, and then the whole deal is pureed (like cauliflower mashed potatoes, with broccoli added). Super yummy, and the kids each ate triple helpings. This Owl Momma felt like one tricky little leprechaun!

What's Working Wednesdays

So today, in our little owl nest, our new lamps are what's working! Really, I didn't realize such a little thing like ambient lighting could make me so happy. We used to have table lamps, but both of them, with their glass bodies, suffered mortal injuries (at my hands, no less... never throw blankets down the stairs if your lamps are along the staircase and your aim isn't very good).

So, the kids went with me today to pick up new lamps. Check them out here. All three lamps are now assembled and strategically placed around the living room. Let's hope Owl Poppa likes them when he gets home from work!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Yesterday was K's half-birthday! She is now officially 4 and a HALF.


J and K were taking turns playing photographer (they LOVE taking photos with my camera). When it is finally J's turn, he says "Okay, K, now look FIERCE"

Note: While I myself love old cycles of ANTM, my kids have never actually watched this. Which makes the above even funnier!

Friday, March 13, 2009

This says it all

It's been THAT kind of day. He's totally done.

Writer's Block

The novelty of blogging hasn't quite worn off yet. I frequently find myself thinking throughout the day "wow, I could blog about that." And yet, when I FINALLY have a few minutes to sit down at the computer (or to sit down at all, lol) I have NO IDEA what to write about.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's Working Wednesdays

One night each week we have our Family Night... Family Night must be capitalized, since this is a big event we all look forward to. What does Family Night look like?
  • Supper is a meal we can all make together so that we are all working in the kitchen together. The favorite so far has been individual pizzas (including making a mini pizza for W).
  • We all sit down to an early supper, and then
  • we get to do a fun activity together as a family. So far we've had a few movie nights, and a game night.
  • Special snacks, picked up just for family night.

This isn't TOO much different from a normal night, but the kids love the hype of Family Night... They look forward to it all week, they are extra kind to each other on Family Night, they willingly help out around the house earlier in the day so that we'll be ready for Family Night (Family Night can't begin til afternoon and evening chores are done). It makes me happy to think that we are building these sweet memories together, and reinforcing that spending time with one another is something we value in our family.

Besides building memories, Family Night is giving us a platform for other family-building activities. Starting tonight, allowances will be given on Family Night. I also hope to make Family Night into part family meeting, where we can talk about things that have been going on in the family, air our grievances, brainstorm about family issues, etc.

This weeks plan: pizza, popcorn, and a movie

Monday, March 9, 2009

Home? Schooling?

My goals for this blog experience are (to quote myself): "to share some of my general thoughts on general things, and to capture some of the moments we share during our homeshcooling days." I seem to have found time for the former, so it's time to address the latter.

But man, there doesn't seem to be much HOME or much SCHOOLING going on around here lately.

At the moment, my only goal is to have each of the kids do their reading, math, and writing four days a week. And even that has been a big struggle. For one, we're just not HOME much. Owl Poppa has an erratic work schedule that means he is frequently home during the week, and gone on the weekends. So when he is home, we are running errands, hanging out, and trying to do all the things that are too hard for me to do alone with three kids. And then of course we want to spend time together as a family. Formal desk work seems to take a back burner too often. And we're all recovering from colds, a bout of flu, and terrible cedar fever. So even when we're forced to be home, we're more convalescant than academic.

We're also facing alot of resistance from J. He doesn't want to willingly do anything that seems like work. I certainly don't want to be neglecting his education. But I don't want to rob him of his love of learning in the name of discipline, since instilling a love of learning is one of the reasons I want my children home with me. Left to his own devices, he is still learning... history, practicing math skills, building things in the yard (engineering?), and "reading" (looking through books, though he is not at all fluent with the decoding yet). But I still feel like we should be doing something more formal for him.

Starting tomorrow, I am planning to move our book work back into the forefront, since Owl Poppa would like to see them do something constructive each day. Maybe I'll have more to report later.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dear John

It is very early... and I went to bed very late. The problem is that I also had more caffeine than usual yesterday, so I didn't sleep. Neither did W, who is still nursing and co-sleeping. I am not sure if my caffeine excess affected him, or just my general fidgeting kept him from sleeping well. I feel like I hardly slept at all. In the seven hours I spent in bed, I was awake at least 12 distinct times. I know caffeine does this to me. I'm very sensitive to caffeine, and I know in excess it not only makes me jittery and agitated, it triggers terrible insomnia and panic attacks.

But I really really love Coke*. Really. Many many mornings in my early days of mommahood, my breakfast consisted of a can of cola and a handful of chocolate chips. I have been known, on a bad day, to drink ten cans of the stuff. Few things sound more appealing to me than an icy cold, carbonated beverage. But I'm realizing that few things sound worse to me than spending seven hours in bed being more awake than asleep, then needing to get up and face the day with three kids, a husband, two dogs, a fish, a never ending pile of laundry, dishes that didn't get done last night, paperwork that must be done for tomorrow, a birthday party to attend, and overzealous plans of finishing a garage clean out project.

So I am going to have to concede that my cola and I can no longer be even the most casual of aquaintences. This is going to be like a bad breakup... the love affair is over, and no we cannot "just be friends". I need a clean break. I'm going to have to be strong, resisting the urge to recollect fondly on those happy times we shared, me and my cola. I will not be swayed by tempts of just one more sip, just to say good bye. I will have to remind myself that cola is no good for me, I deserve better than sleepless nights, and jittery agitation. No matter how much I beg and plead, I am not going to be able to change my cola's double-crossing ways, luring me in with promises of icy cold refreshment and then, once we're through, leaving me with nothing more than an empty can and a racing heart. Ohhh... the tears, the heartache, the midnight phone calls...

and all while trying to convince my sleep deprived system that it is an hour later than it really is. Blech!

*all names may have been changed in order to allow the object of my obsession to remain anonymous

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Napoleon Who?

Owl Poppa is watching Napoleon Dynamite... I think this might be the dumbest movie we have EVER had on, EVER.

Whatever happened to the good movies? Here are my top 10, in no particular order:
1. The Princess Bride
2. Ten Things I Hate About You
3. The Brothers McMullen
4. Empire Records
5. Animal House
6. Ever After
7. The Wedding Singer
8. The Blues Brothers
9. Breakfast At Tiffany's
10. The Spit Fire Grill

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Where's the Phone Booth?

I think I am ready to let people in on my secret identity as a blogger (this is like my new superhero job description... I am Owl Momma, super blogger!). As this is the fifth post, I guess I didn't stay secret very long! I'm not actually surprised by this.

Since this is my first blog experience (see here), I didn't want to share the news with anyone who might be less than enthusiastic in their assessment of my endeavor. But in all honesty, I can't keep a secret AT ALL. Especially about myself... I am definitely a wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kind of gal. Knowing I was up to something new and exciting, but not talking about it with any of my friends, was driving me crazy. So I finally cracked and invited a really good friend of mine to take a look (check out her blog here).

I imagine this is how masked superheroes feel as they trudge to work at their mundane office jobs, knowing they have some super-cool alter-ego, desperately wanting to proclaim to any and all who will listen "hey... I'm really a superhero in disguise!" And while I am totally excited to be Owl Momma, Super Blogger, I will be the first to admit that my blogger status really isn't all that cool... but at least in my real life there are three little owls who think I'm pretty super.

What's Working Wednesdays

NOTE: I stumbled across this idea at exhale. return to center. Erin's blog is really neat. I love the idea of taking some time to really appreciate what IS working for us. I am hoping to make this a regular Wednesday feature.

One of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles I am always facing (besides the laundry, and the dishes, and the... oh wait, let me focus here) is how to keep the hosuehold running with my children. This isn't as simplistic as it sounds. I know how to keep a household running without my kids -- when I send them away for an afternoon playdate with Owl Poppa and I hurriedly check tasks off my to do list. I know how to keep a household running in spite of my kids -- haphazardly putting out whichever fire is burning hottest at the moment, and hoping to play catch-up when everyone goes down for the night. But I spend hours pondering how to keep things going WITH my children -- working together harmoniously as a family to get done the things that need to get done as part of everyday life in a family (like the laundry, and the dishes, and the...)

So, one thing that is working for us has been the creation of two new household roles... the Kitchen Helper and the Baby Buddy. J and K alternate roles each evening. The Kitchen Helper helps Momma prepare supper, helps set the table, and does general odd jobs in the kitchen area. The Baby Buddy spends quality time with the littlest, and is responsible for helping him wash up and get into his booster seat. So now I get to prepare supper without tripping over W or removing him eighty-seven times from the cabinets. But more importantly, I get to spend some time one on one with the older two, and they get to spend some time one on one with W. Plus, I feel like they are learning some real life skills in both roles... learning some kitchen skills (and practicing math and reading) as the Kitchen Helper, and learning to be nurturing and really what it means to be in a family as the Baby Buddy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


So, no matter what I do, I cannot get the font on the first post to default back to whatever the default is (what is the default?!?! Anyone know? This would be so much easier if someone was actually reading this thing... um, yeah, maybe I should clue people in to the fact that I am now a blogger)

Anyway, as the uptight individual that I am, it is driving me crazy. I just can't seem to let it go. So I refuse to spend anymore time trying to fix it, simply as a matter of will. I am willing myself to just accept this imperfection and move on...

It isn't going very well.

Also, I can't seem to figure out what to label these posts. I am feeling overwhelmed... what an awesome weight and responsibility on my shoulders... What if I pick the wrong topic titles? What if no one can relate to the labels? What if I try to be funny and I'm JUST NOT? Does anyone else sense the fate of the entire universe hanging in the balance? Oh yeah... no one is reading this yet!


ETA: I have no willpower... But I do think I've fixed the font issue! YAY!

What's In a Name?

This is to answer anyone who may be wondering what the OWL thing is all about. I love owls... I don't love birds in general (they remind me of beady-eyed feathered lizards, and I am always afraid they're going to peck my eyes out), but I have a real soft spot for owls. Perhaps it is the association with knowledge and learning, those wise forward facing eyes, the mystery of an animal who stays up all night and sleeps all day, but I just love owls. When we wanted to pick a name for our homeschool, it seemed like an obvious choice (to me, since I was the one doing the naming). So, we became Little OWL School. OWL stands for Our Wonderful Learning. Most importantly, the little owls loved it.

The owl theme has been an answer to some organizational challenges as well. Each child has their own owl clip art for labelling their school supplies, chore magnets, and anything else that needs labelling. I have my own owl clip art as well. Even the littlest little owl is now being initiated into OWL School with his own owl.

I found some terrific stuffed owls at Barnes and Noble, that inspired the clip art. J has the brown owl (who was named Archimedes Thundercat Owl), and K has the white owl (lovingly christened Princess Owl). W received his own owl for Christmas, and we are thinking of naming it Bill (from this beautiful book by Martin Waddell).