Monday, May 29, 2006


Would you like to eat "in-season" but really aren't sure what to do with things like kohlrabi, turnips and kale? Do you love the look and smell of fresh herbs? Did you just join a local community supported agriculture farm and they don't publish a cookbook? A friend of mine has set-up a blog called In-Season. Kim, myself and Nancy will be sharing what we receive at our CSAs and recipes and ideas about cooking with our harvest. We buy meat, cheese and dairy from another local farmer and will be incorporating recipes using these ingredients as well. We are also all homeschooling families so expect a post or two about a day at the farm, bugs we see, and things we learn.

We are just getting started, but please stop by and say hi. It would be great to hear from you and hear what you are cooking!

Here's that link again: In-season -
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Got Haggis?

The Colonial Gathering in Fair Hill, MD brought many smiles. The kids and I traveled with two friends. For both friends the Scottish Games were a first. For one a first period, for the other a first outside of Scotland. Alison (from Perth) said that the games were very similar to those at home. She took some pictures to send to her brother including a short movie with the massed pipe band playing "Scotland, the Brave". It sounded as though he would be quite surprised to learn that this goes on in the States. One of her favorite sodas was too overpriced, but she did get some English/Scottish candy, a Scottish Flag and a tee-shirt for her sister.

Sword DanceThe children had their first dance competition in the morning. Things went really well. They all made it through their dances with no big (and really not even small) mess-ups. The oldest even one a medal in one of the dances! After the dances we sat down for some lunch (fish and chips, bridies and pasties), watched a border collie sheep herding demonstation and talked to the spinners and weavers (big surprise there). We were about to head out but realized the "Address to A Haggis" was happening in only 10 minutes, and there would be samples.

Addressing the HaggisApparently, done correctly there is much pomp and procedure regarding this whole affair. First we were introduced to the whiskey (well, kinda) and then to the cook and finally to the piper. The gentleman performing the poem was kilted and in character. He was fun to listen to and watch. At the appropriate time he cut open the haggis and paused to allow the aroma to waft to his nose. The last line is given to the audience, "Gie her a haggis!" and then the piper plays and in lieu of a toast to the haggis the gentlemen reciting the poem took a drink of whiskey. We were all then invited to get in line and receive a wee bit of haggis to try.

Eating the Haggis
Here are our comments:
Alison from Perth - a little too creamy, should be a bit drier, but a good haggis.
Jess of German stock - pretty good, kind of similar to a German stuffed pig stomach.
Erin - hammy taste and smell, a little spicy, would eat it again.
Julius - pretty good.
Me - Good, spicy. I could eat this with mashed turnips and potatoes.
Sadie - didn't brave the haggis.
So, the next time you have a chance, give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.
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Monday, May 22, 2006

Happy Birthday


Happy Birthday Dad!

Today my father turns 83! He was born in the Roaring 20's, lived through the Great Depression, went to the 1939 World's Fair, fought in World War II, and remembers when the Dodgers left Brooklyn. He knew life before television, and computers and men on the moon. He knows all those great old songs and no new ones. He's lived at the center of the world (NYC) and in Amish country. He was part of the "greatest generation", went through college on the G.I. bill and worked for 35 years for the same company. He's raised sheep and steer and has become a land conservationist. He provided a wonderful context for his family financially, emotionally and spiritually. He is the most generous person I know. He is the wisest person I know. He is, next to my husband, my biggest fan. And, "His generousity is only exceeded by his good looks and charming personality."
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Myers-Briggs for Moms

My neighbor is really into Myers-Briggs, she uses it in her job to help people understand themselves and each other. So, when I saw this quiz, I already knew I was an ENTP (according to my neighbor) but this is what is says a mother with this personality type is like:

Your type is: entp —The “Independence” Mother

“When I held my babies, I always faced them outward so they could take in the world.”

  • Full of energy and confident in her own self-sufficiency and competence, the ENTP mother encourages her children—as a role model and as a teacher—to be independent and confident on their own in the world.
  • A “big picture” person, she points out options and possibilities along the way. Objective and logical as well, the ENTP wants her children to evaluate their choices and learn from the consequences of their own decisions.
  • The ENTP mother is resourceful and action-oriented. She likes going places and doing things with her children, exploring all that life has to offer. She is less concerned with rules, routines, and schedules. Introducing her children to new concepts and activities, challenging them, and stimulating their intellectual development are top priorities.

I had my husband read it, and confirmed it fit me like a glove, although there are aspects of other types that describe me. (No one will fit neatly into one type.) I wanted to share this for a couple of reasons. First, it is good to know your strengths. Take the quiz and find out yours! Second, sometimes we wish we were more orderly or more adventurous or more sensitive: it helps to see that people are built with these tendencies. We can appreciate how different we are from each other while we seek to grow in an area. If you read this blog and think "I could never homeschool like that, going all those places..." Be assured that I read other blogs and know other moms and think "Wow, I wish I could have my house orderly like hers" (as I sit here with laundry on the dining room table) or "She's so good at encouraging her children." I strive to grow in those areas, but I know they won't come as easily to me as they do to some others.

If you take the test, leave a comment and tell us, did it have you pegged?

HT: Bonny Glen
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Thursday, May 18, 2006

First Half of May

How can we be more than half-way through May? It has been a busy month. Here's a quick catch-up on what we've been doing.

DeSales University Senior Class kids show.100_1718.JPG This is excellent. We've gone for the last 3 years. Interesting, funny, original show. This year's show was Heroic Hercules where we were introduced to figures from Greek myths.100_1707.JPG The theater is small and has seating around 3 sides so every seat is a great one. After the show the cast interact with the kids and signs coloring sheets related to the story. Some stay in character, others ask "what was your favorite part" .

This past Friday we saw a Penn Presents show. The Children of Uganda introduced us to music and dance from their country. It was delightful and inspiring. We even learned some moves (although it would've been hilarious, no videos of me doing those are available). 100_1750.JPGAfter the show we went with friends to Fairmount Park and had lunch, climbed some rocks and toured the Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center. It is small and free. The intro video and interactive exhibits were engaging.
100_1754.JPGSince it was a beautiful day and the Dad Vail regatta was on we walked (a couple of miles, I think) up to the finish line and back. All the people, boats, college insignia, were facinating to the children. I coxed in college, but haven't been back since. So, this was a great opportunity to share about those days with the kids.

One last thing. Most of this week was spent finishing, altering or making pieces of the outfits in the picture.100_1763.JPG The littlest outfit is borrowed and all the kilts are borrowed. Shoes for two of them are borrowed. (Scots are very generous!) I also finished the vest and shirt for this (bottom right) costume. 100_1772.JPG(Skirt was finished earlier.) All in preparation for the competition on Saturday. Now if I can only get them up and ready by 6:30 am on Saturday. If anyone lives local, the Scottish Festival is at the Fairhill Natural Resources Area in MD - very near Newark DE. Details here.

Have a great weekend, wherever you are, whatever you are doing!

The New World

In the car on Tuesday, our almost six year old was asking a question. Not really sure how this one formed in her brain - "Who was the first Catholic person in the "new" world?" We had just passed the local Catholic church, so that kinda made sense, but we couldn't figure out what she meant by the "new" world. Do you mean America? Do you mean ever? "No," she says, "the first world is under the ground and the new world is on top. Although sometimes the new world is not under so far. Like in colonial days." Huh?!?

My husband and I give each other confusing looks - then it dawns on me. Jamestowne and St. Mary's City, MD! She is trying to make sense of history and archeology. The old world is back in colonial days and we dig it up and find things from their world. She didn't understand how the old world was connected to today. (We did our best to straighten that thinking out.) Funny thing about it is that I wasn't really confident that she gained anything from Jamestowne or St. Mary's City. It was one of those "along for the ride" kind of days with her. I love these glimpses into how kids process experiences. Her mind is trying to make sense of it and understand how it all works, even several weeks later. That to me is real learning, the content knowledge will come as long as the brain is working.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Gentleness, Patience and Love

I found this quote over at Here in the Bonny Glen, she's been posting a few quotes each week from this book. This one was particularly poignant for Mother's Day.

"Gentleness, patience, and love, are almost everything in education; especially to those helpless little creatures, who have just entered into a world where everything is new and strange to them. Gentleness is a sort of mild atmosphere; and it enters into a child's soul, like the sunshine into the rose-bud, slowly but surely expanding it into beauty and vigor."

—from The Mother's Book
by Lydia Maria Child

On Mother's Day we are rightfully remembered for our love and service to our family: the many meals cooked and clothes washed, books read, walks taken, conversations, hugs, kisses and tickles. Ironically, that is when sentiments like the quote above remind me of all the times I have failed. I probably fail in one of these virtues to some degree at least daily with at least one of the children. I forget how new they still are to the world. How much they don't know, how little, how (as simple as the concept seems I still forget) childish. I too often expect too much and forget that they are small. Perfection is too far a reach for them, as it is for me. My heavenly father remembers that I am weak, unable to live out the virtues of gentleness, patience and love perfectly. "He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." —Psalm 103:14 That helps me to put my expectations of them in perspective and seek to restore "the mild atmosphere". I thank God they are so quick to forgive, wanting as well to regain that atmosphere where they will grow best!

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mann Summer Kids' Concerts Posted

The Mann Music Center in Philly has a great program each summer geared toward youth. Free and open to the public. I wrote about our experience here (with some hints and tips, of course).

Check out this year's line-up:
#1 and #5 are high on my list!

Kidz Kickin’ It @ The Mann
Shangri-La Chinese Acrobats
Wednesday, June 14 and Thursday, June 15, 10am and 12:30pm

A Piano Summit
The 5 Browns
Monday, July 10, 11am

Caribbean Rhythms
The Caribbean Youth Panoramics Steel Pan Orchestra
Capoeira Troupe
Monday, July 26, 11am

Rhapsody of Rock
Rock School for Dance Education
Monday, July 31, 11am

Spirit of Africa
Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble
African Stiltwalker Ballet
Linda Goss, Storyteller
Monday, August 7, 11am

We're Being Invaded!

A blog I read today reminded me of an online course Erin and I did a couple of years ago. Click on over to The Thinking Mother and check out the post on Invasive Plants.

Then come back and click here for the course we took and here for the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources site on native and invasive plants in the PA area. Also if you are in the area, some local native plant sales are listed on my calendar as well as a conservation fest at Warwick Park in Chester County coming up this month.

By the way, our local Audubon Center/Society has great classes. Download their calendar of events at their website.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Saturday's Scottish Fun

So we are now in May, but I am still blogging about our trip at the end of April. We went to the Southern MD Celtic Festival on the second leg of our trip. I have a friend who lives near by who showed us great hospitality for the weekend. First off, Southern MD is beautiful, the rivers, the bay, really pretty. The festival entrance fee wasn't cheap ($15 adults, $5 children) but it was chock full of bagpipe and kilt goodness. 100_1668.JPGLots of people were dressed, from the fancy costumes of the pipe bands to historical reenactors. It would have been fun just to people watch all day. And we had ample opportunity to do that while waiting in very long lines for food. I should have gone for the fish and chips, but the line for bridies looked shorter. In terms of quantity, I think my friend rated first with an awesome chicken gyro. I was fortunate enough to find reasonably priced hotdogs for the kids at a boy scout tent in the merchants wait either. Enough about the food.

We watched the dancing, of course. Several dancers from my kids' school were there and it was fun to watch them compete. Some of them were competing to advance to the US Championships in NY in July. Seating (or standing) for the dance was out in the sun so we kept it moving visiting the caber toss area and the clan tents. We listened to some music and were rapt as a talented storyteller told his tale. The two highlights for my son, however, were visiting the 84th Regiment of Foot reenactors and the mercenary sword dealer. 100_1671.JPGOf course with our recent trip to Williamsburg all things colonial were interesting, but here it had a Scottish twist. His uniform from the waist up (except for the head) looked just like a regular British army soldier. However he had a Balmoral cap on his head and of course a kilt instead of trousers. He explained how after the battle of Culloden the King outlawed the wearing of the kilt and the playing of the bagpipes but when Britain needed soldiers for the army they told the Scots if you join up you can wear your kilts in the army. It worked.

My friend got the attention of the sword dealer and asked him "What cha got?" He returned, "Anything you are looking for." Julius came closer and he picked up that "Tell me about some of these swords," meant put together a little lesson for the boy. He did. "This, this one would have been the kind of sword William Wallace carried." He proceded to demonstrate all the different ways it could be used against the enemy. He did this for about 6 different kinds of swords. My friend held several of the swords and remarked on their heavy weight. Now we think we know why highland games consist largly of throwing heaving things around. At the end the sword dealer quips, "I also do birthday parties." (wink).

There are games coming on May 20 in Fair Hill, MD, very close to Newark, DE for those in SE PA who may want to venture out. That same weekend is a reenactment of the Battle of Culloden (near Chambersburg, PA), check the Fieldlearning calendar for links to that. And for a list of games around the world (many in the US) click here. It is out of date but has links to current websites with correct dates.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bloglet down again!

I've been having trouble with Bloglet so for all of you who subscribe via email, your subscription has been transferred to Feedblitz. Same basic idea, but I am hoping it works better! Meanwhile, I've been posting about our trip last week. So, there are several new posts and pictures from the last few days.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Jamestowne (Don't forget the "e" on the end.)

Friday we headed over to Historic Jamestowne. There are two Jamestowns, one is a living history museum/town near the original Jamestown. The other is operated by the National Park Service and is the actual site of Jamestowne where you won't find costumed interpreters (or many buses full of school children) but archaeologists and guides. Homeschoolers can get in free to the Jamestowne and Yorktown NPS sites by bringing a letter with them. It was easy as pie and saved me $8.

There is alot being planned over the next 18 months to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. Events are not just in Jamestown, in fact the Godspeed will be a floating museum in several different cities along the East Coast. If you live near Boston, RI, NYC, Philadelphia or Baltimore be sure to check the calendar so that you can get on board! In Jamestown, on May 13th, the new museum will open up and later in the summer a brand new visitors' center should be completed. When we arrived the old museum was closed and the visitors' center was VERY small. It was a beautiful day, however, and on the walk over to the historic area we saw some red-winged blackbirds and turtles in a swampy area. The park preserves not only the history but provides a wildlife refuge for many endangered species. (Not that the turtles or blackbirds are endangered, but they were easy to spot!) One of the rangers told us there were 3 bald eagle nests in the park as well as osprey nests. We saw an immature bald eagle in a tree near the fort and an osprey nest on the way driving out.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Before you cross the bridge to the historic area, stop by the glassmaking area. 100_1648.JPGThere were four craftsmen blowing and stamping glass while we were there. Very willing to answer questions and explain the process. They use a gas powered oven, but other than that the tools and techniques are authentic. Right next to the demonstration area is a shop with glass objects made right there. We found an affordable paperweight as a memento and picked up a Christmas present.

The highlight of our visit to the historic fort at Jamestowne was talking with an archeologist. She was working in a trench where they were going to be rebuilding part of the pallisade wall. 100_1665.JPGShe explained what she was doing and why, how she could notice changes in the color of soil (soil stains) and why those were significant. She told us with excitement things they had found last week in a well they are excavating (pieces of armour, pottery shards, plant seeds...). She also explained why after 400 years something as organic as a pumpkin seed could be found intact. Later on, we came back to watch her dig some more and she found a little copper thing that goes on the end of a shoelace. As she was putting it into her bag of artifacts she pulled out 2 pieces of pipe and explained how the white one was from England and the red one was made with clay from VA. As she rubbed the dirt off of it she found a seal stamped into the clay. That little clue told her that it was made by the first pipe maker in the Jamestowne colony. When asked about how she got into this profession she talked of parents who loved history, growing up near fields to explore and look for arrowheads and the awe she feels at handling things that people held hundreds of years before. The Historic Jamestowne site has pictures of many artifacts and lots of lessons and other resources for teaching.

We were very hungry as it was almost 1:30pm, but Erin remembered a DIG magazine at the shop, so we bought some books before hopping into the Jeep. A grocery store provided a nutritious lunch on the road. We listened to the exploits of Grandma Dowdell from A Year Down Yonder as we took the three hour drive to Southern Maryland. We arrived at my friends apartment and enjoyed an evening at the Naval Air Station looking at planes and playing on the beach.

Next: Celtic Festival of Southern Maryland - in which we hear "Scotland the Brave" played on pipes about 100 times.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Williamsburg in April

Over the next few days (in between working on that May calendar that I haven't gotten out yet) I'll be sharing what we've been doing over the last week. On Wednesday I rented a car and the kids and I drove to a KOA in Williamsburg, VA. I had reservations for a Kamper Kabin for 2 nights. (BTW, I hate that they spell those words with K's.) We checked out the Williamburg Visitor Center that night and planned for the next day. When we arrived the next morning at 8:45 am, there were no lines.

First off, if you homeschool, bring your affadavit. If you do, you'll get a 50% discount on your adult ticket! Woo hoo! We bought a one-day pass, so that little piece of legal paper got me $17 off. On the recommendation of the ticket seller we also bought tickets to tour the Govenor's Palace. ($6 for me, $3 for each kid.) No charge for kids under six (my youngest turns six this month). Total cost for me and 2 kids = $60 admission. We watched the movie at the visitor's center - very much worth the 30 min. We skipped the orientation tour as you enter the town. Maybe it would have been worth it, but with the very good map they give you, and the movie you already saw, it didn't seem worth another half hour.

On to the Govenor's Palace. We went to the near courtyard first and talked to the wheelwright. There were 2 men outside working on a wheel - they didn't seem very interested in talking to the public. One woman asked them if someone was going to put that wheel in their yard. One of them was visibly peeved. "Would you put a handmade wheel in your yard to rust and rot away?", He asked. So, we ventured into the "shop" to find another man. He asked if we had any questions to which I responded, "I don't think we know enough about wheelwrights to know what questions to ask." His reponse I found very amusing - "Yeah, everyone knows about the blacksmiths and the gunsmiths, wheelwrights aren't one of the hip crafts." Okay, so is everyone going to be like these whining or angry wheelwrights?!

The Govenor's Palace was pretty cool. Especially the entry hall with all the swords and muskets. Govenor's Mansion in WilliamsburgBut, there were about 40 people in our group and I felt we were being rushed. It was hard for the kids to see things (hey, hard for me to because I'm short!) with that many people. I would skip it until the kids were a few years older.

Before we left the palace area we stopped by to see the cook. Williamsburg Govenor's CookHe wasn't in character, but he was friendly, personable, very knowledgeable and didn't complain about a lack of respect for his craft.

From there we went to a mock trial which involved some of the guests as characters and a garden tavern for lunch. We got 3 large cornmuffins, 3 cups of baked beans and a turkey leg for $20. If you saw the prices of the other food you would know how happy I was that this filled us up nicely. After lunch we visited the magazine (where the gunpowder and weapons were kept). Stealing the GunpowderIn the movie they told about the British army coming in the middle of the night and stealing the gunpowder, so we needed our own version caught on pixels. From there to the crafts we haven't seen at sites in PA; a shoemaker, harness and saddlemaker, milliner, tailor and the silversmith. All of these were very interesting but the most engaging was the milliner. She stayed in character while teaching you all kinds of things about what people wore and the materials they used. She also mentioned that the tailor was boiling baleen to make boning for stays in back of her shop. We received a little biology lesson on whales as well as a history lesson from him.

Revolutionary CityFor 2 hours in the afternoon parts of the street were roped off for ticket holders only as actors portrayed different reactions from people in Williamsburg to the talk of independence from England. This is new and has been running for 5 weeks. The climax comes when someone who looks as though he just came off the frontier rallies everyone present (including guests) to parade down 100_1643.JPGto the capital to hear how Virginia was going to vote in Philadelphia, for or against independence. Statesmen reeactors gave eloquent speeches and we end with several "Huzzah!" cheers.

By the time we had visited a few shops and gotten to our car we had spent 9.5 hours in Williamsburg and although tired, had enjoyed it very much. I will say this, however, there are many places here in SE PA that will give you much the same presentation in terms of "living" history for MUCH less money. If you exhaust those first your family will have a bigger context to put Williamsburg into and you can spend more time learning about things you haven't encountered up here.

Click on the pictures to see more pics from my trip. Go to the Colonial Williamsburg website to see maps of the town, pics of the buildings and more.

Next: Jamestowne - in which we meet an archeologist