Birthdays and more

Rob has a habit of calling Juniper “sweet girl” (which she truly is) but I am quick to jump in and correct any gender stereotyping, and remind them both of all of her other amazing qualities–clever, strong, kind, sassy… So her new nick name has become, “Sweet girl, ahem  (throat clear)” which indicates all the unsaid truths about her.  It’s become their thing.  In any case, this sweet girl (ahem) turned 12 the last week of July.


Her birthday followed the sickest week I have ever spent as an adult, possibly ever, and she was truly a good sport as birthday planning continued to be pushed aside–“maybe after a nap we’ll sew your dress”, maybe after another nap we’ll start your cake.  Each nap turned into another day, and day after day in hopes that my fever would dissipate.  A course of antibiotics did the trick, and true to tradition, the dress did get sewn, the cake did get made, and I was nearly as good as new in time for her special day.



Wylie’s birthday is just a week after that, and our 1st baby turned 14.  It is hard to believe that I’ve been a mother for 14 years.  That sounds like an eternity.  And when I think of who I was at 14,  well, I can’t believe that my boy is that big.  It really is an incredible thing getting to be with these people as they grow.



Mimi’s birthday is two days after Wylie’s.  Seventy-three and still the best Mimi around! It’s a solid week of cake.  No one ever complains.


The end of July was also the year anniversary of adopting Daisy.  We can hardly imagine living without her.  Such a funny little pup she is!


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Last, but not least, Rob and I celebrated 16 years of marriage on the 11th!  The friend who snapped this pic said she wanted to make an ad for running that said, “this is what running together will do for your marriage!”  Must be true, because it gets better every year.


Napping after all night Down East Sunrise Relay





Summer Vacation

We’ve been doing it properly.  Lots of fun running with friends (including the Rocklobster Relay, 200 miles from Bar Harbor to Portland), 4th of July weekend at the Lake with the Fowler cousins and second cousins, a week camping at Mount Desert Island, the first week of Farm Camp at Toddy Pond Farm, and somehow, time for swimming, ice cream (lots), sleepovers in the yard, and a bit of gardening.   This year we’ve made a “Summer Bucket List” (inspired by Pinterest) and have been working steadily to make sure all of our summer dreams can be fulfilled and adding new ideas weekly.  I’m realizing that there may be a point in the summer where this goal feels stressful and crazy making–but so far, it’s been nothing but loads of fun!


Rob’s solo marathon in Acadia, Rocklobster Relay, Carriage Trails, Eagle Lake 


                         Wylie’s homemade sailboat–it got him across the pond, fast!                                                        Pedaling back was much slower. 



Fireworks with second cousins, Rob is 40!, Family Sundae at SuperScoops


Hiking Bar Island in Bar Harbor with friends


MDI Campground, Ship’s Harbor Hike, 1st Monarch of the year




Summer Weekend

The temps are back to the 60’s today, but the weekend was like mid-summer, 90’s and humid.  Rob was away and the kids and I had a mini-vacation, spending the days hiking and beaching it in Acadia with friends.

Yay for summer!  We’re ready.







Homeschool Review

Every year as part of Maine State requirements of Homeschoolers we participate in a peer portfolio review, overseen by a certified teacher.  I feel so fortunate to live in Maine, where the requirements are extremely minimal, and homeschoolers and unschoolers can learn how they choose and still meet requirements set by the state.

Our peer review is basically a gathering of friends.  We sit, roughly divided by our children’s ages (young or old) and discuss what we do in our families to cover the various subjects.  It ends up being a great way to share resources, frustrations, and success stories.

In the past I have used this blog as an ongoing portfolio–but it seems this year that goal got away from me.  So, in prep, I sat with each of the kids and we did a quick review of our work this past year.  It was such a good exercise I realize we should be doing that a few times a year, partly because Fall was so long ago none of us could really remember what we’d done, and partly because we all felt so proud of ourselves for all of our amazing work.  Aside from math and writing, we rarely categorize our learning into subjects–but when you take the time to pull apart a year’s experiences and stuff them into boxes they really amount to quite a bit of education.  You can learn a lot in a year (often without even trying!)

At the risk of boring you all, and for the sake of record keeping, I’ll record them here, interspersed with pics of what we’ve been up to these past months.


Family Read-aloud:

Mysterious Benedict Society, books 1-3

The Boy on the Porch

Half a World Away

Maniac Magee

Understood Betsy

Laura Ingalls Wilder books, 1-4 (so far, again)

Harry Potter, book 1



Curls by Mimi, for piano recital


Juniper, 2016/2017

Independent Reading: 

Land of Stories, books 2-5

The Family Under the Bridge

Bridge to Terabithia 


Beast Academy levels 3C and started 3D (Multiplication, Division, Fractions, Measurement, Variables


Book report on Bridge to Terabithia, work on an independent story set in colonial times, birthday cards, pen pal letters to cousin, poetry and song, typing and spelling through SpellCity online.

“Moving Beyond the Page” unit study on The Family Under the Bridge


folk songs

piano study (Bach, Beethovan)

Special Projects:

Paper mache crafting of convertible for Girl Dolls, Girl Doll furniture and accessories, Knitting 2 hats, babysitting certificate, drumming, song and dance, yoga, circus performance, film class, intensive nature and primitive skills studies (bow drill, wild edibles, shelter building, cordage making, basket weaving, etc), and bird ID.

Physical Education:, she has participated in swim lessons, soccer, and track and field.

Health Education:, she has helped shop for and prepare balanced meals, participated in Mother-Daughter group discussions about puberty and body changes, and helped prepare herbal remedies.






Juni competed in middle school track and field qualifying for regional championships in 800m, 1600m, and long jump!


Kale 2016/2017

They might grow in before corn on the cob



Bob Books

100 Easy Lessons, (occassionally)

SpellCity online

Birthday Cards to friends and family

Story narration

copy work



Beast Academy 3A (skip counting, multiplication tricks, hundreds charts)

Right Start B (mental addition, 5’s trick, 8’s trick, 9’s  trick, go to the dump, addition war, adding 2 digit numbers in head, place value)

Special Projects:

sewing (hand stitching and machine)



nature study (bird ID, bow drill, knife safety)



physical Education:


basket ball




Child’s History of the World–hunter/gatherers

Little House books

Timeline Inventions (the game)

Health Education:

Helping shop for and prepare balanced meals, physical and dental hygiene, garden help (growing your own food).



Wylie 2016/2017





Number the Stars


A Dog’s Purpose

Ham radio and short wave radio manuals


Beast Academy:  3C (multiplication and division) 3D (fractions)



Spellcity online

Independent story work

book report on A Dog’s Purpose



“Moving Beyond the Page” Unit Study on Number the Stars

“Moving Beyond the Page” Unit Study on WWI and WWII


Special Projects:

Radio Station Volunteer work

Nature Study (primitive skills, knife safety, bow drill)

Video and Audio production


knitting (hat, almost finished)

drumming, music, and dance


Wilderness First Responder Certification

Community First Aid Certification

Short Wave radio



Self-exploration of guitar and keyboard, sound engineering apprenticeship

Sound engineering apprenticeship






Health Education:  Discussions on the importance of physical and dental hygiene. Books on puberty and body changes (boys), Assisting in shopping and food prep of balanced meals.  Braces.






Every day we’re adding to our list and spending more and more time outdoors.  Last night, after a day of hiking, followed by track practice, and playing outside after dinner, we read our bedtime story on the deck (with sheepies and blankets and tea but outside no less) peepers chirruping in the background, and the first bats swooping overhead. Bats! Hooray for spring.


Still Winter

It’s very much still winter here, despite the “signs of spring” sign on our wall.  So far we’ve listed “mallards, chickadees singing their springtime song, budding maples, and loons (though I suspect it may have been a mourning dove he heard).

On the first day of spring, our spring birds laid those magical chocolate mini eggs we all love! We drew pictures of grass, daffodils, and ducklings, and watered the wheat grass for something green.  The forced apple branches are nearly blooming.  It was warm enough in the sun to leave the window open for a while, and take our painting outside.





The next day, and for the rest of the week was a windy, gray, 10 degrees F.  Fortunately, we were distracted by a fantastic visit by cousins from NH.  The kids had so much fun together, making a winter wilderness camp, building furniture, and repairing the tree house.  Did I mention it was 10 degrees?  And snowing?  The kids didn’t even seem to notice.  They bundled and un-bundled themselves (oh the ease of middle childhood) about 12 times each day.  The chimney was hung with snow pants 6 pairs deep.

My sister-in-law and I knit, drank tea, and wine, and made food.  It was a great distraction from the spring we weren’t having.





Maker Space

I’ve been working on a project for a while now with a friend of mine, rolling things about in our minds, shifting visions, but always coming back to the same focus of having a creative community gathering place.  A few years later we’ve settled on a mission, put together a steering committee, and have launched our project out into the world.

Belfast Community Works is a small scale maker space, a “community center with tools and ideas”.  A place where creative people of all ages and abilities can gather to share skills, inspiration, coffee, and stories.  It’s about re-skilling the community, and empowering people to create things rather than buy them.  And, it’s about connections.  Connecting people throughout the community who may not otherwise cross paths, and connecting groups with like-minded missions by providing creative space for them to meet.

For now, we don’t have a physical space (yes this is a bit of a hurdle).  But, in the meantime, we’re organizing community “maker/fix-it events” that will get the ball rolling, inspiring people to share skills and ideas with one another.  Our first event is a Fiber Skill Share, March 25th, at the Belfast First Baptist Church.  We’ll have on-going demonstrations of weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet, kids table, and felting.  We’ll also have workshops in sewing tote bags from grain sacks, up-cycling t-shirts into clothing, sewing produce bags (to support the “ban the bag” project in Belfast), and mutant stuffed animals.  We hope crafters who already have these skills will come out to meet one another, share their expertise, and enjoy good company while working on projects.  And, we invite folks who would like to learn a fiber skill to come and try it out.  Everyone is a maker.

I’m so excited to finally be making this happen!


Kale made a broom!