Spring!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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Kale made a broom! 

 

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We built a bench!

You may have noticed some of the most recent pictures include a new bench.  Superbowl weekend Grampy and Uncle Matt came up for the game, and what trio of building kin can resist a group project?  Not these! (Plus, we kind of sprung it on them.)

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Of course, when I say “we” it is in the same spirit as in “we” cut and stacked all of the firewood this year,  or “we” plowed the driveway.  Or, “we” make dinner every night, or “we” had 3 babies.  Anyway.  We built a bench, and it’s fantastic.

We put the board games in one end, cat food in the other, and seldom used kitchen things in the middle.  Hooray for storage.  I stained the bottom a driftwood grey, and whitewashed the top.  We moved the table over a foot so now the bench accommodates one whole side of seating (convenient since two of our 5 chairs broke last fall).

 

I designed it wide enough for board games and stories, but not so deep that you can’t comfortably sit at the table.   I think I can correctly say “we” love it.

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Mardi Gras!

The boys and I attended a Mardi Gras masquerade Saturday night.   So much fun! The night was extremely surreal, mostly due to my kid’s extremely bizarre, unreadable expression as he wandered the hall the entire evening leading an entire cloud of helium balloons.  I wish I’d brought a better camera.

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I love dancing at parties and weddings, and it’s even better when everyone is in a mask!  I had fun decorating mine to match a Goodwill found dress, Kale created “Frankenclown”, and Wylie requested I decorate his mask to look like the “Anonymous” Guy Fawkes masks.  (That lead to an impromptu history lesson on Guy Fawkes–of which I knew very little).

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Homeschool Thursday

It’s school vacation week in Maine, which doesn’t automatically mean vacation for us–though it means different things available throughout the week.

Juniper has been at Tanglewood 4-H camp all week, doing their February vacation week.  A 1 mile hike into camp, snowshoeing, outdoor wilderness games, art, and hot cocoa in the cabin by the woodstove.  The temps have been in the mid to upper 40’s so she’s had great weather for it.  The boys have had sleepovers, playdates, and board games.  Today we’re tapping a few trees.

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Otherwise it has been business as usual here.  All three kids are working through Beast Academy for math, doing just a few pages a couple of times a week.  We’ve been using SpellCity online and that has been a fun way to get some spelling practice in.  For writing we’ve just started working on taking dictation (think practice for note taking in the future) either typed or written or preferably alternating by the day.  The idea is they’ll use a passage (from some novel) for copy work one day, the next day I’ll read it while they write, the third day while they type.   I’ll let you know how this progresses.  Generally,  when I try to implement something like this it works for a week or two–then they go back to writing a page on anything they choose.  That’s ok too, but its good to mix things up.

Juniper is trying to master walking on her hands, so spends much of her day upside down.  She has also created an entire American Girl apartment in her closet, all out of hand crafted shelves, couches, sinks, even a refrigerator and a shower.  Most of her creations are cardboard.  Occasionally she and a friend will get crafty with felt or paper mache.  She has developed a new habit of reading in bed every night and morning and has started reading Kale’s bedtime stories at night.

Wylie has been excited about bullet journaling, and that has been a fun way for him to get some writing practice (an otherwise barely tolerable task).  For years I kept a daily journal, and still do have an ongoing journal for meeting notes and such. But I’m feeling inspired so maybe it’s time to really start again.  He has several ideas for a regular radio short, to air on our local radio station, and is beginning the early stages of making it happen.

Kale is learning through board games these days, Yahtzee, chess, and Life and Bananagrams.  Plus, endless pretend games involving plastic toy soldiers or Native American scenes.  It is great when we can find stories that go along with the games he’s playing.  He just pulled out some of our ancient Childcraft books.  A few years ago our neighbor donated her whole collection to my kids, and they have been great.  There are several volumes dedicated to stories, “stories of freedom”, “legends”, “native peoples”, that have very appealing (particularly to 7 yr. old boys) illustrations of battles and such.  I’m not sure how historically accurate they are, but they give enough info to offer a general idea of a time period and pique an interest in history.

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Two weeks ago we made a trip to Boston with friends, to the Museum of Science.  They have a traveling Da Vinci show until the end of February, so we did some reading up on Da Vinci ahead of time. It was so cool to see Mona Lisa (even though it was a copy) and all of the work they’re doing with infra-red lights to reveal the painting’s past.   Though I have to say I think my friend and I enjoyed the Da Vinci exhibit more than the kids. Wylie loved the human body exhibit which was full of fun kinesthetic exhibits and the physics challenges like building a tower to support a bowling ball.   Juniper and Kale really liked the physics and motion exhibit.  It was like a playground. We ate in China town, experienced bubble tea for the first time (mixed feelings) and were mildly traumatized by a delay in the subway with over tired/over stimulated kids.  The next day the 3-hour drive became 6 hours due to the second of 3 consecutive blizzards. We listeded to the entire audiobook of Maniac Magee, and stopped for donuts and latte at Whole Foods in Portland, so that made it ok.   The things we do in the name of education (or boredom?).   It is nice to break up these February weeks.

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Home

 

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I think in my last post I bemoaned the lack of snow.  I guess I spoke too soon.  It’s been a fantastically snowy February so far with plenty of days at home due to lousy driving, and lots of sunshine and warmish temps in which to enjoy it.

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One of our local art studio/galleries is hosting an open call for art next month, with the theme of “home”.  It’s got me thinking about what the word congers for me and how to best represent that through photography.  It may be just what I need to dive into a photo project I’ve been ruminating on for some time.

In the meantime, a few images of what home looks like these days:  cozy and dark in the evenings, messy and full of sunlight and play in the daytime.  I love these late February days when the longer daylight is truly noticeable and the glare of the sun on snow washes over everything.  It’s a little like mid-summer in winter.

 

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Check out the new bench  (thanks, Grampy!)

 

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