Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice Celebrations

Yesterday we followed a horse's skull around some pubs. Today friends are coming over and we are going to stay up late eating and decorating cookies, watching movies, playing games, and hopefully welcoming the sun in the morning. It's the longest night of the year and after this, the nights are shorter and shorter. Thank goodness for that!

I will post some pictures and recipes of the gluten free adaptations of favorite goodies.

There is a thin layer of icy snow on the ground outside and the sun is shining. When our friends get here, I think we may take a nice walk down to the castle and the beach. Can't do that in Indiana.

The snow helps with my homesick-for-Indiana feelings.

Poor Benny has to go to work tomorrow!

Oh, and there are presents for the children, homemade. A bog baby for the Tiny Goddess, a purse for Miss Mousie, and pen cases for the boys and our guest child filled with glitter pens.

The adults won't open gifts, didn't have it together for that. Oh well.

Christmas is coming!
The goose is getting fat!
Please put a penny in an old man's hat.
If you no penny,
a ha'penny will do,
If you have no ha'penny then God bless you!

(and if I can talk the group into it maybe we can go caroling!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

quote from James Naylor

There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself. It sees to the end of all temptations. As it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thoughts to any other. If it be betrayed, it bears it, for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God. Its crown is meekness, its life is everlasting love unfeigned; it takes its kingdom with entreaty and not with contention, and keeps it by lowliness of mind. In God alone it can rejoice, though none else regard it, or can own its life. It’s conceived in sorrow, and brought forth without any to pity it, nor doth it murmur at grief and oppression. It never rejoiceth but through sufferings; for with the world’s joy it is murdered. I found it alone, being forsaken. I have fellowship therein with them who lived in dens and desolate places in the earth, who through death obtained this resurrection and eternal holy life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Because I needed another blog to neglect...

I've started a gratitude blog here.

It's just for lists of things I am grateful for. I know I've neglected this blog. I'll try to get here more often.

Current projects:

Knitting for the holidays
Finding support locally for some educational stuff.

oh, and a little one,

Figuring out what we as a family want for our future and helping that future come to pass.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How it is going (the 101 things)

Well, I failed my third attempt at the UK driving liscense and to save my sanity I have given up on that list item. I haven't decided for sure what to replace it with yet. I'll let you know when I do.

But, I am working on numerous list items. In no particular order they are:

learning to crochet
learning to spin wool (with a drop spindle) I have the basic idea, I just need a spindle and some
roving so I can get the technique down.
recording an album of ballads
learning Alice's Restaurant (I don't know if I will ever get this perfect, but I will at least get it
enough to play it)
learning to speak a foriegn language (Spanish)
knitting sweaters for everyone in my immediate family (working on sweater number one)
Reading Jane Austen (halfway through Emma)
Participating in NaNoWriMo

And already I have done a few items to completion. I have my etsy shop up (though I haven't sold anything yet) and I am now a sock knitter. Miss Mousie is very pleased with her socks. She keeps looking down at her feet but falls over because of her Dunlap's Disease (her belly dun lapped over her belt).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Composer and Artist study

This is something I've tried to work into our "school" for a while and haven't been able to do for some reason.

But, now, well we are doing alright in that department. Basically my plan is this: We study one artist for 4 or 5 weeks looking at one piece a week. We are using a book called Discovering Great Artists to do one or two projects for each artist. Every morning during circle time (more on that later) we look at the piece of the week and each of us tells one thing we notice about it.

For the composer studies, we are using a fabulous website called Classics for Kids. We study each composer for 4 or 5 weeks. We listen to one show from the site a week and have one piece a week that we listen to.

It's quick, it's painless, it's easy.

And did you know that Bach had 20 children? Most of them were musicians also. That blows my mind for some reason.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

101 Things in 1001 days....The big list!

Ok, so now remember that I reserve the right to change any of these at any moment. It is after all my list. I think I will have an official start date later. The Artist has mentioned joining me in this quest so I have to wait for him, plus I want to do something cool to mark the date.

Also, thanks to Handmade Homeschool for the idea. I have sort of stolen a lot from that lady's blog. Sorry and thanks.

So here it is.....TARANTARA!

101 in 1001
1. Knit Mrs. Beton (learn to use beads w/knitting)
2. Knit a cardigan for me
3. Learn to crochet
4. Illustrate a copy of the Tao te Ching
5. Crochet or Knit a blanket
6. Spin my own yarn
7. Make wine
8. Dye wool/yarn w/natural dye
9. Learn Welsh national Welsh
10. Record a cd of ballads
11. Record a cd of hymns
12. Record a cd of my stuff
13. Put first 2 CDs on iTunes
14. Play one gig
15. Sweater for me
16. Sweater for the Lord of Sound
17. Sweater for the Artist
18. Sweater for the Explorer
19. Sweater for the Tiny Goddess
20. Sweater for Miss Mousie
21. Learn a new language
22. Bake gluten free sourdough bread
23. Read something by Jane Austen
24. Read something by one of the Bronte sisters
25. Read The Scarlett Letter
26. Read one Redwall book
27. Read entire Harry Potter series
28. Read one Shakespeare play
29. Learn Cable Knitting
30. Learn Fair Aisle or Intarsia knitting
31. Learn to darn socks
32. Read Oliver Twist
33. Throw an awesome Christmas party inviting people from the LoS' work
34. Read (or listen to via audio book) everything written by Maeve Binchy
35. Learn to play and sing Alice's Restaurant
36. Learn to play and sing Joni Mitchell's California
37. Sing in London (A Foggy Day in London Town)
38. Sing in Paris (either Joni's California or Free Man in Paris)
39. Read something by Charlotte Mason
40. Learn to needle felt
41. Bind a book that is already printed
42. Drive in UK
43. Learn a new instrument
44. Complete the Lively Latin course
45. Make a Mei Tai
46. Make a sling for our local home ed group
47. Learn a new type of dance
48. Take a bike tour of London or Paris
49. Learn to felt something I've knit
50. NaNIMo
51. yoga goal: create a daily sequence and do it for 30 days
52. walk a 20 min mile
53. Knit lace
54. Knit pants or diaper cover
55. Surf standing up
56. Ride a horse on the beach
57. Make DVD of home videos
58. Knit or crochet 20 hats for preemies
59. Knit or sew a doll forMiss Mousie
60. Have an entire Handmade Holiday (directly stolen from Handmade Homeschool)
61. Don't buy anything for a month
62. See 100 castles
63. Take a road trip alone with kids
64. Read everything by L.M. Montgomery
65. Go camping alone with kids
66. Put a video of me singing on YouTube
67. Knit w/plastic bags
68. Make fabric from plastic bags
69. Set up my Etsy shop
70. Do print making
71. Go Letter boxing
72. Record a book for librivox
73. Busk
74. Reread The Once and Future King
75. Socks for my family and myself
76. Go kayacking or canoeing
77. Read at least part of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy or the Hobbit
78. 100 miles (walking or biking)
79. Reread the Narnia series
80. Make 10 hats for chemo patients
81. Put a pattern on Ravelry
82. Knit fingered gloves
83. Pet a sheep
84. swim in the ocean in winter
85. Listen to and learn all the vocabulary from all the Learn Welsh podcast
86. Make a 100% up/recycled journal
87. See puffins
88. Sew a bonnet for each of my girls
89. Participate in British pub quiz
90. Read a book in a foreign language
91. Record a song for librivox
92. Memorize 10 poems
93. Read Terry Jones' Medieval Lives
94. Walk part of Offa's Dyke Trail
95. Memorize states in order of statehood
96. Project 365
97. Read a book on the History of Wales
98. Read Walden
99. Record a Christmas cd (myself)
100. Adeste Fideles in Latin
101. Family Christmas cd


Sunday, August 23, 2009

She moves in mysterious ways...

I've always thought this song could be describing God in a way. So maybe some might say my theology is off. I tend to view the gender of the Creator as more fluid than just male or female. If that offends you then go on and stop reading here.

Last night I had a spiritual experience at a concert along with hundreds of thousands of other people. Last night the Lord of Sound and I went to the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff and saw U2. Now, if you know me at all, you know that I tend to like the female folk singer genre with a bit of crooner type big band jazz and old time music thrown in there. So to say that I had a spiritual experience at say a Joni Mitchell concert would not be surprising. But to say it happened at a U2 show? Well, that is what I tend to call "boy music" and usually not something I'd choose to turn on.

But then again, I like U2 alright, I like a lot of their songs. You read my last poetry Friday post, and the title of this one. (Note: In our family, it is a rule that when we hear someone sing or say Memphis in a song we cheer. The only exception is Pride (in the name of Love) since it is an inappropriate place to cheer. Instead I raised my hand and thought of home. I have to admit, negative context or not, there is something warm about someone saying the name of your hometown when you are so far away. I bet we were the only Memphians in the crowd.)

During Sunday, Bloody, Sunday there was a feeling in the air. A sort of happy solemnity. Having been to Ireland myself now (and like I told the LofS last night, in my heart I'm American, Welsh, and Irish. Maybe a little Italian, but I certainly have a soft spot for the Celtic nations) It only dawned on my last night that this song was about the Easter Rising. (Remember I'm not a U2 fan particularly, or wasn't before last night.) A good bit of the time, Bono was very fond of turning the mic to the crowd and letting us sing. (Who can blame him, I'd love to have just one person sing along to one of my songs, I can't imagine the rush he felt.) This song was no exception. The audience chanted "Sunday, Bloody, Sunday" and I could feel something welling up inside me. The next song was of course, Pride (in the name of Love). Same kind of thing as the previous song. It was very moving. (And it really hit home when it dawned on me that now we have a black president! However you feel about him, it is historical and something Dr. King worked for.) At that point a normal diva rock star would have focused in on himself. Not our band. The next song was dedicated to Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi. People had masks on, there were pictures on the screen of her. It was like a giant prayer.

He then moved on to more "fun" songs. Until he left (without singing With or Without you!). Of course he came back for two encores. One of them began with a message from Nelson Mandela with (get this) Welsh subtitles! That was huge! How much trouble he must have gone through for that, only to use it at only one show where everyone spoke English anyway! (With or Without you was one of the encores by the way, the last one. Bono came out wearing a jacket with laser lights swinging around on this haning microphone.)

Another sort of holy moment, at the end of this one song, Bad, it says, "Let it go, and so to fade away." and for a good five minutes after the song ended and the cheers faded the stadium glowed with the sound of hundreds of thousands of people singing those lines like a choir. (and thousands of cell phones lit up like stars)

Which brings me to this:
Colossians 3:17
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

When I was a teenager, I used to think that verse meant that it was only ok for me to listen to Christian music. I was so sure of this that if a "secular" song got stuck in my head (even something harmless like Stop in the Name of Love), then it was my duty to drown it out with a Christian song.

Now I know that God is bigger than that. (Personally I know there is a lot about God that we just don't know.) God is everywhere, a part of it all.

George Fox (founder of the Quakers) said, “The Lord showed me, so that I did see clearly, that he did not dwell in these temples which men had commanded and set up, but in people's hearts . . . his people were his temple, and he dwelt in them.”

I think that is where God was last night.

At least in my heart.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Poetry Friday

Since tomorrow night the Lord of Sound and I are going to see U2 in Cardiff, and since I hail from Memphis, Tennessee.

Pride (In the Name of Love)

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come here to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love!
One man in the name of love
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resists
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more? In the name of love!

...nobody like you...there's nobody like you...

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I'm in full on planning mode right now. I'm planning our home ed year, knitting Christmas gifts, planning a class on herbal something or other, planning our vacation to Cornwall, and visits from both my parents and a friend. Whew! But it's all going well. It's nice to have stuff to be excited about.

So, no blog posts yet. I am working on one about how I use my iPod for our homeschool. Until then, check out how this mama does it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Poetry Friday

When I was in high school, we sang this poem. It was so beautiful. I wish I could find a recorded version of it.

Plus, has anyone seen that documentary on the BBC that Rupert Everett does on Lord Byron? Whoa!

I'm so often shocked by what I see on the BBC.

She walks in beauty

by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Long and Winding Road...

The Artist went with me tonight on my evening walk. We started down the path that leads along the cliff towards Llantwit Beach only to decide we wanted to turn back so I could show him the World's Greatest Climbing Tree. He wasn't impressed. But we carried on and wound up at St. Donat's Castle. I suggested that we take the trail through the woods instead of going up the hill by St. Donat's church (usual path back). So we took off through the woods, randomly taking this path and that one and we wound up between a huge wheat field and the ocean with the Nash Point lighthouses in the distance. We carried on walking towards the lighthouses, then up the road until we arrived at the Horseshoe Pub. From there we called the Lord of Sound (aka Papa) to come pick us up. I convinced the Artist to see if we could make it home before they found us and reluctantly he pressed on. We didn't quite make it home, but we almost did. (Locals will appreciate how far we walked.) We were gone well over two hours and walking the whole time at a rather brisk pace. It was great. When we got home I made pasta with marinara for the children (since it is quick and everyone likes it) and tofu paella for the grown ups. I'm eating some paella now. It's so good and so low fat and healthy. I will have a second bowl and probably have it for breakfast in the morning.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Birthday Party

Poetry Friday (one day late)

all which isn't singing is mere talking
and all talking's talking to oneself
(whether that oneself be sought or seeking
master or disciple sheep or wolf)

gush to it as diety or devil
-toss in sobs and reasons threats and smiles
name it cruel fair or blessed evil-
it is you (ne i)nobody else

drive dumb mankind dizzy with haranguing
-you are deafened every mother's son-
all is merely talk which isn't singing
and all talking's to oneself alone

but the very song of(as mountains
feel and lovers)singing is silence

e.e. cummings

101 Things in 1001 days...

I'm still working on my list. So far here is a taster:

Knit a large cardigan for me
Knit or crochet a full sized sweater for every person in my family (will most likely make this separate list items for each person)
Knit Mrs. Beeton
Learn to knit socks
Learn to Crochet
Dye yarn with natural dye
Spin yarn from roving

Record myself singing in every country I visit (so this means I have to go back to Ireland, oh darn)
Record three cds and put them up on (One of hymns, one of my own stuff, and one of old songs in the public domain)
Play at least one gig in a pub or coffee shop or something while I live in Wales

Participate in project 365 for a year then print out photos into a book.
get my driver's license here in the UK

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The Tiny Goddess turns 3

After over six hours of Norah Jones' Come Away With Me (and some hours without her), and after she "waited 'till I saw the sun". Our little girl was born, at home in beautiful Indiana. I couldn't believe I could actually grow a girl.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Of course.


Driving lesson scheduled for Friday afternoon (after cupcakes) and as often after that as I can manage.

It's much easier to remain zen about the outcome of a situation when that outcome is in my favor.


in my mind now...

Today I take my driving test. I am very nervous. I plan on passing and that will go a long way towards making things Better around here. But, I'm trying not to put too much into whether I pass or not and to remain zen about it all.

The tiny Goddess turns three in two days. How can that be? She is all about attention and touch these days. As in tight tight hugs and kisses that often involve teeth. Ouch. We are having a party for her on Saturday. Now British birthday parties and American ones seem a little different (though honestly parties are different in California versus Indiana as well). Seems like here, there is often some sort of hired entertainment, which is very fun and sweet but not so much my style. Also here the gifts aren't opened at the party and sometimes the cake isn't eaten there either. At our party we are having gluten free, vegan cupcakes which the kids will decorate themselves and we will open presents at the party.

My neighbor is coming over on Friday afternoon to help me bake a zillion cupcakes. If I have extra, I can freeze them.

I've been also enjoying this blog. It's my homepage now as I explore it more. I'm thinking of doing a 101 things in 1001 days list like her. I just like her attitude and how honest she is. I also find a lot of inspiration there. Sorry it's not much of a review. I don't feel up to writing a lot right now, but it is worth checking out. I also like this idea. I think I will give it some more thought as well.

But first things first, on to the driving exam.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Knit, Knit like the Wind!

I love this podcast. Probably my favorite one (and remember that I also listen to This American Life which is a timeless classic, ok Cast On and This American Life are tied for my favorite...along with Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me). The reasons I love it are these:
1. It's about knitting which is my preferred form of meditation.
2. She is an American ex-pat living in Wales.
3. It's entertaining, good music, interesting topics, even my non knitting partner likes it. (The Artist is also a fan.)

Right now I'm listening to old episodes and I just heard that she doesn't have a Stitch and... group in her area. I'm going to invite her to ours.

Anyway, please do check it out:

Poetry Friday

~God Says Yes to Me~

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish

or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don't paragraph

my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I'm telling you is

Yes Yes Yes

- Kaylin Haught

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Poetry Friday

Making Jam in July

by Inna Kabysh

A woman who's making jam in July

is resighned to living with her husband.

She won't escape with her lover, secretly.

Otherwise, why boil up fruit with sugar?

And observe, how willingly she does it,

as a labour of lov,

even though space is at a premium

and there's nowhere to store the jars.

A woman who's making jam in July

is preparing to be around for a while.

She intends to soldier on, to hibernate

through the discomforts of winter.

Otherwise, for what reason, and notice,

not out of any feeling of duty,

should she be spending the short summer

skimming residue off jam?

A woman who's making jam in July

in all the chaos of a steamy kitchen,

isn't going to be absconding to the West

or buying a ticket to the States.

That woman will be scrambling out of snowdrifts,

buoyed up by the savour of the fruit.

Whoever's making jam in Russia

knows there isn't any way out.

Translated by Fay Marshall and Jay Marshall

Friday, June 26, 2009

Poetry Friday

Teddy Bear Poem

Judith Viorst

I threw away my Teddy Bear,

The one that lost his eye.

I threw him in the garbage pail

(I thought I heard him cry.)

I've had that little Teddy Bear

Since I was only two.

But I'm much bigger now and

I've better things to do

Then play with silly Teddy Bears

And so I said good-bye

And threw him in the garbage pail

(Who's crying~ he or I?)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gluten Free Granola Bars

This is based on the recipe I found here.

Group One:
1 cup liquid sweetener (maple syrup would be good but you can use anything from honey to agave nectar to rice syrup...)
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

Group Two:
3 cups gluten free granola (recipe to follow)
2 1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
1 cup almonds (or any nut)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Bring group one ingredients to a slow boil. While you do wait mix group two ingredients.
After the first group boils, mix together and place in buttered casserole dish. Bake until crispy.
Cut into bars and enjoy.

As soon as I get another free moment, I'll post the gluten free crock pot granola recipe.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice!

Now, what I really wanted to do was stay up all night in order to arrive here at sunrise. Now the sun currently rises around 4:30 am here in Wales, and you will remember our four children (including two under age three). Plus it's like a 3 to 4 hour drive from here. Next year maybe.

Instead we are hanging around the house and relaxing. I have done some solstice-y things, though.

I finished a second batch of elderflower cordial (this time it was a double batch) and made a couple of pitchers up for the family. (That pitcher is half full not half empty by the way.)

The Artist and I also made a cake. I found the recipe on the back of a bag of Dove's Farm Gluten and Wheat Free White Self-Raising Flour Blend. I'll work on translating the recipe back into American (sorry sis!). I did replace the eggs with 2 tablespoons corn flour (aka corn starch) and 2 tablespoons water. But then I made 2 cakes and put lemon curd and clotted cream in the middle of them. Kind of defeated the purpose of an egg and dairy free cake. (I ended up using goat butter in it, too since that was all we had in the house. But margarine would be a simple substitute.)

So, with that disclaimer, here is the recipe:

Lemon and Poppy Seed Sponge

10 ounces Self Raising Flour
8 ounces Butter
10 ounces sugar
4 eggs (or 8 tbsp water and 8 tbsp corn flour/corn starch)
6 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp poppy seeds
icing sugar (aka powdered sugar)
lemon curd
clotted cream

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. Mix dry with wet and put into 2 greased and floured circular pans. Bake at 190 degrees Celsius or 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 - 45 minutes.

When cool, pop the cakes out of the pans and put them into the refrigerator. When completely cool, spread lemon curd and then clotted cream on top of one of them and place the other one on top of it. Sprinkle with icing/ powdered sugar.

Now I'm off as we are fixing to go either to the beach or some ancient burial site. Depends on what the rest of the family wants to do.

Oh, and Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Elderflower Cordial

(My lovely neighbor gave me the recipe as well as a container of tartaric acid.)

24 elderflower heads
4 oranges
1 lemon
2 ounces tartaric acid
3 pints cold water
3 lbs sugar

Place flowers in a bowl, slice fruit and add with all other ingredients. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Leave for 48 hours. Sieve and strain through a muslin. Store in bottles or in plastic tubs in the freezer. Dilute to taste.

See, it all started when my neighbor had American guests at her house over the holidays. One of the Americans was very excited to meet my spouse "the Lord of Sound" since he (my spouse) is basically a loudspeaker genius. So, on Christmas eve, we came over, ate various British treats and goodies including elderflower cordial. She said she'd tell me how to make it when the time came to make it and now is the time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Funny Thing Thursday

I know it's dated. I know I've shown a bunch of people this.

Check out this guy's other stuff, too. He is funny.

"..and there's nothing young people think is as cool as Star Trek."

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Last night's yarn is the blue with green. It was first dyed green (easter egg dye) and then half of it was dyed blue (again easter egg dye).
Here is the yellow/orange after I added the orange. Actually the Artist did a lot of this. We used food coloring this time. First we dyed it yellow and then red over that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Funny Thing Thursday

Considering that our carseat got left in Amsterdam both the trip over to America and the trip back, this is timely. The fact that the guy is Welsh is just a coincidence.

Up at all hours....

Dyeing yarn with easter egg dye! Pictures and results to follow. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't felt it!

Back in Wales: Wordy Wednesday

And the jet lag is minimal. Thank goodness for that. No wordless Wednesday with this post, though I may post a photo or two (or more) later.

Today's plans:

Laugh a lot
Watch a lot of The Office season four (American not British)
Play Star Wars
Fold Laundry
Wash Clothes and hang them outside (only because it is so beautiful today!)
Go outside (hopefully search for nettles that haven't flowered yet. I really should take a photo of the nettles drying on my kitchen table for y'all. I think I am due to post about nettles soon. I do love them and have missed them. There is nettle tea infusing in my kitchen as we speak.)
Recieve all the daisies the Tiny Goddess will inevitably pick for me (technically buttercups now)
Photograph the rose that is busting out in our garden
smell the lavender in the garden
Clean out part of the Fridge
Play guitar and sing
clean up after ourselves

Oh, and I have a short math page for the Artist and will work with the Explorer on reading. If I can convince the Tiny Goddess, we will go for a walk but she wants to "Stay Here with Mama."

Yesterday when we arrived, we had to wake her up to get her out of the taxi. She ran around the yard and picked flowers and was so happy to be home. I asked her if she wanted to get on the plane again tomorrow and she laughed and said, "NO!" and started squeezing my arm and kissing it.

It's nice to be back.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hello from America

We are having a nice visitation here in the states, but we are very very tired. It's hard to fit it all in and I still didn't get to see my Indiana People and I didn't get to take the Tiny Goddess to the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks. We did get to feed ducks with my Grandma, that was cool. We also got a lot of face time with my nephew, the Little Tornado.

We got most of our shopping done, I want to go to Barnes and Noble and to a grocery store to stock up on BBQ sauce. Yes, I've been told there is BBQ sauce in the UK, but I have to tell you that is a myth. It is so not the same.

I'm planning a little American dinner party for some of my friends from knitting group and home ed group. It will be very fun.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Poetry Friday

Ha! Bet you thought I wouldn't post one today. I am that awesome. (Plus blogger has a feature where you can schedule your posts to publish later. But I am a little awesome, too.)

One, Two, Buckle my shoe;

Three, Four, Shut the door;
Five, Six, Pick up sticks;
Seven, Eight, Lay them straight;
Nine, Ten, A big, fat hen;

Eleven, Twelve, Dig and delve;

Thirteen, Fourteen, Maids a-courting; Fifteen, Sixteen, Maids in the kitchen; Seventeen, Eighteen, Maids in
awaiting; Nineteen, Twenty, My plate's empty.

Funny Thing Thursday Part Dau

Scroll down and read the reviews. I promise it's worth it.

Wolf shirt

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

All gone to look for America...

I have a lot I still want to post about, but very little time to put my thoughts into words these days. We are leaving for America tomorrow, as in very early. We leave the house at 4:30 am British time. Can I say that we are not morning people. Not at all. We fly from Cardiff to Amsterdam (ok, side note, who can tell me the rest of the song I learned at camp that goes, "Amster, Amster, shh shh shh!" Seriously, you give me the lyrics and I will send you a present.) We will spend five and a half hours in the Amsterdam airport. Yikes! Luckily, it is a large airport with a museum in it even. I hope that it's not too stressful. It was either that or have an extra plane to take. As it stands, we will arrive in America at 6 pm their time. Please don't ask me to decipher how long we'll be in the air, those kind of temporal discussions give me a headache. (I feel a bit like a time traveler, though. It brings out my inner Trekkie.) So our plan is to keep the kids awake for two hours at least once we land and get to bed by eight. We'll see. I'm not looking forward to the flight. I still have nightmares about the one we took over here during the Big Move. So we are packing 3 outfits a piece and bringing extra luggage in our suitcases to fill with Things We Cannot Get Over Here. I'll give a list once we fill them. I'm also bringing over things like gluten free goodies for my sister, lemon curd, and hot cocoa (Cadbury makes this fabulous hot cocoa!), as well as various gifts we've accumulated for people. We will be dressed in our traveling clothes, aka tie dyed t-shirts. No, it's not very Duggar family of us. (Not that we don't love the Duggars! We are certainly not dissing them one bit and wearing matching shirts in public with a large family is brilliant. That's why we do it.) Think traveling clothes like in the Sound of Music! Let me tell you that the tie dye t-shirts in a busy airport are a Good Thing.

So I know both of my readers are asking themselves, "What about Funny Thing Thursday? I can't live without it!" Not to worry. I am going to set up my blog to automatically post it for next week and here is today's Funny Thing Thursday:

Breaking the silence for a moment....

Sorry, but I wanted to mention something cool about nettles. "Something cool about nettles?" you say. Why yes. Nettles are our friend.

Now I could wax poetic about their lovely mating dance (I've yet to see it but have heard tell of it). I could talk about how their sting is simply an energy transfer from a very powerful plant. I could tell about how I believe nettles prevented me from post partum hemoragging and a resulting trip to the hospital after Miss Mousie was born. But instead, I will talk about my latest nettles discovery ( as I drink from my second pot of nettles infusion today).

On April 1, I remember the day, it was a lovely lovely day with one of my kindred spirits here in Wales, I fell while wearing Miss Mousie at a castle. Boom! My body, twisted to protect the baby, onto an ancient stone floor. Ouch! Seems like I have done something Bad to my shoulder. It still hurts, only worse. I've tried a variety of things: chiropractic, massage, heat, ice, ibuprofen. Nothing touches it. But then I got the desperately brilliant idea to let dear nettles heal me. I took a piece of nettles and lightly touched the affected area. Wow! It was so much better, and still three days later, is much better. It does hurt today and I plan on giving myself another treatment as soon as I post here. But wow!

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, May 15, 2009

Poetry Friday

The Four Friends (by A. A. Milne from When We Were Very Young)

Ernest was an elephant, a great big fellow,
Leonard was a lion with a six foot tail,
George was a goat, and his beard was yellow,
And James was a very small snail.

Leonard had a stall, and a great big strong one,
Earnest had a manger, and its walls were thick,
George found a pen, but I think it was the wrong one,
And James sat down on a brick

Earnest started trumpeting, and cracked his manger,
Leonard started roaring, and shivered his stall,
James gave a huffle of a snail in danger
And nobody heard him at all.

Earnest started trumpeting and raised such a rumpus,
Leonard started roaring and trying to kick,
James went on a journey with the goats new compass
And he reached the end of his brick.

Ernest was an elephant and very well intentioned,
Leonard was a lion with a brave new tail,
George was a goat, as I think I have mentioned,
but James was only a snail.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's up with the dates on this thing?

Today is Thursday and I put the video up this morning. Is this blog still on American time?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Funny Thing Thursday

Ok, so this is very old. But the Artist and I cracked up over this while we were getting ready for the Big Move. We listened to it a few times a day.

I spent election night watching the results and finalizing my decisions about what to store for 2 years and what to bring with us to Wales. I made some mistakes, but overall I think we did a good job making those decisions. Still, it was stressful and this video helped. Many tears were shed in our home that night and not all of them were happy ones. Though I did cry at Obama's acceptance speech and kissed my husband and sleeping children.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wonder if the same applies to cows?

Question Number 74 (of 963) of the Theory test practice book from the UK Driving Standards Agency: A person herding sheep asks you to stop. You should:
A. ignore them as they have no authority
B. stop and switch off your engine
C. continue on but drive slowly
D. try and get past quickly

There are three sheep to every one person here and I've been here since December and still take pictures of them. (They are so peaceful and pleasant!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poetry Friday

Who Has Seen the Wind?
by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
neither I nor you;

But when the leaves are trembling,
the wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
neither you nor I;

But when the trees bow down their heads,
the wind is passing by.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Funny Thing Thursday

Let's see if I keep this one up.

For my facebook readers, forgive the crosspost.

"Kids get in the van so we can go there today...."

It's just so.... American.

I'm homesick now.

This just gave me a thought. Were I not an American, I would not get the humour (yeah, check out my awesome British spelling. I think I'm learning the language after all!) But, if I weren't in Wales, this region of Wales specifically, I don't think I'd find this so funnny (for a longer version, there is this, please note the Explorer wanted to point out that Wales is not a part of England).

Weirdly, I've seen line dancing here and clogging lessons, but no morris dance groups locally. Yet in Indiana, I was pretty involved in our local morris dance group. (Of course morris dancing isn't Welsh, but it's certainly not American either!)

(I still don't get Monty Python most of the time.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Our Bookbags...

I know, so many posts in one day. The three readers I have must be quivering with excitement!

So, to borrow an idea I've used before with good results (and also Dawn does something similar), we have our bookbags.

I did this back when I was pregnant and either on the go all day or resting up from being on the go all day. For a while I did a different bag for each subject, but as I'm revamping my whole process of education around here now, the subjects won't be so clearly defined.

So basically what we have here is this: Each child (and all four of them!) has his or her own bookbag. On the days we go to home ed group, they will just simply empty the contents of their bookbag into a dish tub so they can take it on the train to carry lunchboxes and bring creations back. The boys have a backpack each. On nursery school day, again the Tiny Goddess will empty (or mama will) her bag into her dish tub and carry what's needed for nursery school in the bag. The Tiny Goddess has a backpack on the way from but for now she just has a bag.

Here are the contents of each person's bag:

The Artist:
small art kit
colored pencils
a big A4 sized envelope for work to be done (mostly math worksheets)
another envelope for completed work
an envelope with drawing paper
his independent reading book
his spelling journal
his math journal
his copywork journal
his school journal
copywork book
his calendar (a project we've sorely neglected)
and his roll up chalkboard (these are lovely. I will post pics of them at some point.)
British bird sticker book
Maps of Britain sticker book

Wow, that's a lot. Lots to explain there. To begin with, each of us has our own clipboard that we painted together with one of the other ex-pat families from Sweet Benny's work. They also home school. There is another family, too, who are really nice and their kids go to school. I plan on taking these clipboards back to America with me and painting the back of them with chalkboard paint.

Now, you are probably wondering what all these journals are for. Let me go down the list for you. The spelling journal is where I put his spelling words and he writes them for me 3 times. He was writing sentences but after the meeting this morning, I'll be writing the sentences as he dictates them. The math journal is where he puts new math stuff he learns. Now that I'm doing a more artistic approach, I plan on having him draw pictures and paste them into the math journal, too. The copywork journal is where he writes his copywork. The copywork book is full of ideas for copywork, but he tends to prefer to get them out of books he's reading. His school journal is where he does creative writing assignments. (He also has a personal journal that I'm only allowed to read out of as he gives permission.)

Here are the contents of the Explorer's bookbag:
clipboard loaded with drawing paper
art kit
A4 envelope for work to do
writing book
copywork book
Biscuit book
Roll up Chalkboard
math workbooks
math manipulative kit

His writing book is where he is writing a story about a sticky, gooey, little monster. The Biscuit book is a selection of books about a little puppy named Biscuit. He's learning to read with this book. (Using ideas from a book called Teach a Child to Read with Children's Literature) The math workbook is called Math Mastery. We are sporadic about using it. Often I just give problems on a chalkboard or whiteboard and talk about them.

The Tiny Goddess' bookbag:
Clipboard loaded with drawing paper
hot pink A4 envelope with coloring sheets, extra paper, ect. in it
her current "In the Night Garden" magazine (she enjoys ripping them)
art kit

and let's not forget Miss Mousie:
a board book
a toy or two
and scrap paper for wadding up and chewing on

Oh, and I have a bookbag as well:
Clipboard loaded with notebook paper (and whatever needs my attention)
current and next weeks file folders (in an A4 envelope)
my art kit
my ipod (really I do use it for home ed!)
this record keeping system I use for the Explorer (which I'm thinking of dumping)
our home ed journal/planner
The Complete Phonemic Awareness Handbook
Starting Sensory Integration Therapy
current read alouds
my personal journal
my camera
current poetry book
this animal book we are using (title later)
an extra pad of notebook paper

I'm not a huge fan of the notebook paper here. It only has two holes and you can't get looseleaf. I'm seriously thinking of getting some in America.

Sorry not to have titles for you, later I will fill them in.

Also I will post more on art kits later.


Poetry Friday

Down By the Salley Gardens (William Butler Yeats)

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her did not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

(You know I'd put a folk song down as my first poetry Friday post, didn't you? He's also Irish.)

Revamping our home school

The boys and I had a nice chat about our home school today. Here are the notes from that chat (note that in parentheses I put the initial of the boy who came up with the idea. A= the Artist, E=the Explorer)

This was prompted by the Explorer coming up to me this morning and telling me he had a great idea for our home school. He suggested we have a time for drawing every day.

Now our list:
(E) Drawing time every day "Everybody grabs a book and draws a picture from it."
(E) More Max and Lewis stories
(A) a few different types of math problems every day instead of all one kind
(A) more copywork (this surprised me!)
(A and E) More crafts
(A and E) More science experiments
(E) The Explorer is not a big fan of Circle Time. The rest of us really enjoy it so we are brainstorming ways to make it more fun for him.
(E) The Explorer doesn't like the little homemade workbooks I used to make (haven't made one in a long time, but "Friends, he was making sure")
(A) The Artist likes spelling, but he would rather say his sentence than write it. (I pull words from his writing that he misspells and I make a list of it. He works with five of them a day writing them 3 times each and then writing, now saying, a sentence with the word. Every so often I give a quiz and any words he misses go back on the list of words to learn.)
(E) The Explorer does NOT like copywork. He is willing to try to copy one or two Star Wars related words instead.
(E) "Every day there could be a time where we go outside and do homeschool."
(A) More gardening (Frankly, I don't know how this will happen as I don't have the energy for this. I think I will provide him with pots, soil, seeds, and plants and let him have at it on his own. I do have plans for a wormery in my brain. Does that count?)
(A) "Pick out an animal and learn about it all week and at the end of the week do a report." (Something that has been in my brain for a few weeks and has been mentioned to him more than once.)
(A) The Artist wants to learn about the different types of caterpillars.
(E) "We make books with drawings in them."

I also have some ideas about organizing so that we can do work lying down, outside, or on the go if needed. Basically revamping some things I used to do. Don't worry, the file crate system plays a part in this.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Added a feature

If you look over to your right, you'll see a little bit of text that says, "My Music". If you click on the title(s) (more to follow!) you can download songs recorded by me. (They are in the public domain, the songs are, the recordings really aren't.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

Comments are below each photo.

Believe it or not, this was just in somebody's back yard.

Poulnabrone Dolmen

Parnabinnia Wedge Tomb
We accidentally ran across this. The kids didn't want to get out. You could walk right up to it and touch the stones. It was right off the road. I actually could have crawled up inside it had I wanted to. There was such an eerie feeling around this tomb that I got sort of close, took a few pictures, briefly touched the stones, said a quick prayer, and hightailed it back to the Delta Flyer (aka our Ford Galaxy minivan).

Leaving Ireland at sunrise.

Friday, April 24, 2009

And we have diagnosis!


Turns out it's not a bunch of random illnesses but the same thing.

Chances are we all have it. But immunity lasts a lifetime.

Hopefully the kids are through the worst of it.

Malaise is one of the last symptoms and that is what Sweet Benny and the Artist are feeling.

We got a prescription for some throat spray and some chocolates from the chemist (aka pharmacy).

It will be a weekend of lying around, watching tv, and hopefully catching up on some light housework.

Interesting article

Thursday, April 23, 2009

our beloved Mimi

My husband's dear grandmother passed away today. She was in no pain and just surrounded by family saying the rosary while she fell asleep.

She will be missed all over the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

sick again and again and again...

I got really sick yesterday all of a sudden. We had taken the train to home ed group and on the way back I felt so bad that I just cried on the train, cried at the station, and really broke down in the car. Today I went to the doctor to get blood tests to figure out why I can't stay well. The tiny Goddess keeps coming up to me and saying, "Mommy sick" and "Mommy cried in the car." and piling her blankets on me. (This is huge since she doesn't like to share her blankets.)

All this illness (two months of off and on illness) is really bringing me down emotionally.

My husband is a little sick too.

Please hold us in the light.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blogs I Love

In no particular order, I am going to discuss these. (NO particular order, y'all!)

First off, By Sun and Candlelight is one that I check in the morning and if there is a new post I am pleased all day. I first skim the post to see what it's about (not much time online in the morning) then I come back later when I have time to savor it. And savor it I do. I have gotten so many ideas from Dawn that I can't even list them. So much wisdom in her blog. I love her cheerful attitude and her deep love for her family and her overflowing faith. I am a convert to her file crate system (although I am not so good at keeping up with it). So far it is the only "system" for home ed organization that I keep coming back to.

This blog is the reason that I now put my nature observations here for you to see. In fact Dawn's style of blogging is sort of how I model my own blogging on. I love that she is so down to earth and honest. She often talks about how she blogs the good and happy things about her life and that's my intention here.

(Whoa! Huge rook at the neighbor's birdfeeder! Darn! Flew away before I could get a picture. I wonder if the fact that seeing a rook gives me a sound in my head is a sort of synesthesia type reaction? )

I love this blog so much that when I didn't have internet here in Wales and was very homesick for America I would download pages from her blog onto my desktop when I would go out for my weekly computer time (wifi at a local restaurant/hotel/pub) and chew on them when I got home. When I was at the end of my pregnancy with Miss Mousie, I went through and read the whole thing. It helped distract from the pain.

So, there we go. I hope you enjoy Dawn's blog as much as I do. I have begun commenting here and there and once she even responded to my comment in a post. I felt a little bit famous for a minute there.

Thank you very much, Dawn, for all the time you put into your lovely blog and for permission for me to jabber about it here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More bird pictures...

There were a ton of Rooks in Ireland. I mean a lot. They were tamer than my Welsh rooks also, so I got the amazing picture you see above. Their beaks look like wood to me. I would so love to touch the outside of one of them. I'd also like to hear them tap their beaks on the ground, on trees, on a drum. Do they do that? Is that weird that I wonder these things? (Don't answer that.)

Here is a surprise we saw. First we drove by and spotted this beautiful creature, then we turned around and pulled over so I could get a better look. (I got stung by nettles on my lower back, but it was so worth it!)

Baby cries now, more later!

Vacation musings

In advance, I want to apologize for the ramblyness of this post. I have had a lot of time for thinking lately being too ill to do too much else and then being on vacation in the vibrating greenness of Ireland. I have pictures and posts to follow soon on the following subjects:

Books I have read (I'm making a list)
various pictures of flowers
sights, sounds, and smells of Ireland
change in our homeschooling (less is going to have to be more)

I have a lot on my mind, a lot of thoughts jumbled up together that I want to share. Some will be here, some will be on facebook, and some will be in my uber private online journal.

I did kiss the Blarney Stone.

Can you tell?

Monday, April 6, 2009

no poo on hold

I have too much going on to deal with my itchy head right now. Suffice it to say, the salt does not help. I'm breaking out the nasty coal tar shampoo tonight.

On other fronts, some funniness:

The tiny Goddess, being super excited about the Eating in the Living Room Because Daddy's Not Home started running in circles around the sheet we had lain on the floor chanting, "Run, -aster, -aster!"

I handed Miss Mousie the remote while I took the (not so) tiny Goddess upstairs and she put it on the Welsh language tv channel. What's super cool is I understood two little phrases, da iawn (fine, ok) and nos da (goodnight).

I also have my firefox browser set to Welsh. Why? Because when I installed the updates I thought I was so cool. So now I can say tab, new, window, bookmark, cancel, and ok in Welsh. Well, say is an overstatement, I can read them in Welsh. My pronunciation is so bad that I have to translate back into English for Welsh speakers.

I got a call from my Stitch and Bitch buddies. They had gotten my email saying why I wasn't going to be there and they wanted to check on me.


It's a good thing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

not much we can do

My Grandmother-in-law is feeling poorly. Not expected to live much longer. Please remember the family in your thoughts/prayers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jumping on the no poo bandwagon....

As in no shampoo. Here is a quick how-to, and here is an NPR piece on it. (How I miss Day to Day!!!) I have done this before with great sucess when I lived in California (and had glorious long hair, kissed golden by the sun). I didn't water down my apple cider vinegar, and I put the baking soda on dry. It really really worked.

Did not do so well in Indiana. I had to switch to either Head and Shoulders or Coal Tar shampoo (I varied which one I used). I kept doing the apple cider vinegar rinse, but otherwise I had to use shampoo.

Now here I am in Wales and unless I use the nasty coal tar shampoo, I itch like crazy. I have tried the baking soda and cider vinegar thing but it doesn't seem to work like it did in San Diego. Today I'm back to itching like crazy and I have to wash my hair (even though it looks clean). I am out of cider vinegar, so I'll use lemon juice. Since it doesn't seem to rinse out as well as I'd like, I'm going to use plain salt instead of baking soda.

I know you are all on the edge of your seats now.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 27, 2009

More British wildlife

We'll begin with rooks. These are fascinating birds to me. It took me forever to figure out the difference between a rook, a jackdaw, a raven, and a crow. To be honest, I'm still not 100% at first glance (except for the jackdaw). But I do know that the birds that make a bunch of racket and big twiggy nests in my yard (In British: Garden) are indeed rooks. Despite their scowling beak and grumpy sounds, they seem to be a very sociable bird. At sunset especially they hang out in their nests and holler and gossip at each other. It sounds like this:

While I was outside, I decided to take a few more pictures to share.
On the left is a tiny little daisy (many thanks to my foot model, Miss Mousie), and on the right, our dear friend, Nettles.

These are English primroses.

And what would a Welsh blog be without a picture of Wales' national flower, the Daffodil.