Friday, July 31, 2009

Spontaneous Hugs and Kisses

Who can resist this cutie pie? Not Anna!
She's a great big sister. She likes to give little Ruthie lots of hugs and kisses.

It makes a Mama's heart glad.
And what was Josie doing? Playing in the mud that she and her friends had made. "Making soup," she told me. That's why Ruthie was in the wagon playing and not on the ground crawling around. She doesn't get the line between real and pretend yet and she really wanted to eat the soup that Josie was offering her.

I do believe Josie was loving every minute of it.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Of the fun, two-legged variety, eaten dipped in yogurt as a companion to some scrumdidilyumptious pizza the girls helped me make. You probably can't tell in this picture but each of the girls made their own mini pizza. That was the afternoon's excitement, carrots and pizza (quite long carrots, too. Good job, Mitch, on improving the soil. We've never had such long carrots before!)Even Ruthie enjoyed hers:Here's that cutie pie again:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Anna's Nap

This is how Anna fell asleep on the living room floor at 6 p.m. last night:
She never took a nap yesterday. Not that she didn't lie down and rest for the whole time I asked her too, she just never fell asleep. What can you do? So by 6 she crashed on the living room floor after a whole day of playing hard, including time playing in the creek on this hot afternoon. Would you be comfortable napping like that?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Orange Julius

What could be better on a hot summer day than Orange Julius?

3 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. water

2 T sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla


7 ice cubes

blended in the blender

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rainbow Lakes

-Nights under incredible stars. As Rich Mullins says: "They're the same ones Abraham saw!"

-A creek for the girls to play in. Anna was in her bathing suit playing in the creek by 7:30 the first morning before the sun was up high enough to warm anything.

-Mitch's guitar music around the campfire with the girls playing along on whatever instrument suited their fancy.

-My brother joined us for a night! I've never seen more perfectly melted, toasted marshmallows than the ones he was doing! So nice to have an extra set of free hands to take care of all the logistics of camping with three girls, although those hands will soon be filled with his own little one due at the end of next month. Anna, Josie and Ruthie had a wonderful time with their uncle and I enjoyed getting to spend time with my brother. Thanks for your kind, playful, servants spirit, Michael.

-Anna and Josie hanging out a ton with Nora and Sam, off to who knows where. Josie told Sam while they were playing one day "I like hanging out wiff you, Sam."

-Dirt play! Away from all the plastic props of normal life in our culture the girls enjoyed just playing in the dirt, literally, and built their own 'campfires' out of wood they found and 'cooked'.

-Spontaneous little girl hugs.

-Hammock time! Mitch, Anna and Josie even took their afternoon nap in it one day.

-Kind, servant-hearted friends who did the dishes almost every meal for us. Thanks, Michelle and Rob!

-Sun screening up a little Josie, or at least rubbing in what she puts on. She loves her part in the sunscreen process, that tactile little one.

-Whittling. The ultimate 'I have time to spare and can just stand here and whittle' pasttime. Most people would sit, but it was Ruthie's nap time, so I didn't sit.
-Morning coffee!

And oh so much more relaxing fun outdoors with friends filling our time.

Ruthie Crawling

I've been promising a video of Ruthie crawling for a while now and finally here it is! She's gotten quite good by now, since those first uncoordinated attempts a month and a half ago. She's our earliest crawler by far, neither of her sisters crawled until 8 months. I guess she had the motivations of trying to get where her sisters were and get what they were playing with. It's so amazing to watch a little person learn to move around like this, to watch her brain develop and her muscles develop and the coordination between the two develop. It's fun to see as she gets better everyday and learns something new.

She is also pulling up on things and standing there to play with whatever she can grab now. Nothing on the coffee table is safe any more:) It's a whole new ballgame with two older sisters who have small toys, like to build towers, use scissors and crayons and leave a paper trail on the floor behind them. Anna and Josie are getting better at picking up after themselves and are also good at spotting every time Ruthie gets something in her mouth that she shouldn't have. They are a cause and a solution. They are good big sisters and are good at including Ruthie in their play as little as she is and love to play little games with her and get her to laugh as well.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Proud but Tired

We are going camping this weekend! And so is everyone else that I know. Since we don't have sleeping bags for the girls and couldn't find anyone to borrow any from, I made one for the girls. I'm quite proud of it. I like using the resources I have at hand and spending the time to make what we need instead of just going out and buying something new. Good thing I like it, since that's also what fits our budget :). The girls are quite excited about sleeping in their new sleeping bag. It has layers of wool, fleece and cotton, pillows attached, cushioning underneath, and I am quite sure it will keep them plenty warm even at 11,000 feet tomorrow night. It could use a little more work before its maiden voyage, but I'm tired and am off to bed. It'll do just how it is.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Garden Update and Wonders of Nature

It has been a while since we posted about our garden, so we figured it was time again, especially with the way everything has taken off in the last couple of weeks. You'll have to indulge us as we share our pictures from today. They were taken in the middle of a hot afternoon, so some of the plants were a little wilty, but you can get the idea. First, though, here is a picture of an interesting beetle that hung out on our screen door overnight and half of the next day. Anna and Josie thought it was pretty cool. It actually hissed at us whenever we came near. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but it is about an inch-and-a-half long.

Now to the garden. It may just look like a crazy mass of random plants, but there actually is an intentional order to it (and some intentional wildness). The large plants in the background are kale that we are hoping to get seed from. We planted these plants last year. The seed came from Katie's grandmother, Ginya, in 2002. We are almost out of the seed, and it is nearing the end of its viability, so we wanted to get some more seed. We are not sure what the variety is, but we have never found it anywhere else. The seed pods are just about mature, so we will probably pick them this week. We are anxious to see if the seed is relatively pure. In the foreground is some of the same kale planted this spring. It has already yielded copious amounts (just look further down the page). There are also orange calendula flowers, a sage plant on the front corner, and bunching onions around the border.

This is the same corner of the garden. Toward the top of the picture, tucked in under the kale are beets and swiss chard. The chard will be happy to see the big kale plants go soon.

This is a picture from the other side. In the front corner is some dill. Calendula, beets and cayenne pepper are behind that. The green and purple patch in the middle is our salad mix. There are about five or six different varieties of lettuce growing together. One benefit of having a cool early summer is that we have had an abundance of salad greens. We cut from this patch at least once a week and have more than enough salad. Now that the weather has warmed up, I expect each cutting to be the last and that the lettuce will bolt or turn bitter with the heat, but we harvested yet again today, and it was still just as tasty. When the lettuce does bolt, I plan to leave it so that we can gather seed from it to have our own seed for salad mix next year.

The green mass in the middle of this picture is carrots (more on those later). The plants with white flowers sort of growing over the top of them are arugula. This is arugula grown from our own seed that we grew last year. Now it has gone to seed, and we are almost ready to collect the seed from it for next year. To the right, it is hard to tell, but there are six varieties of peppers, some of which are setting on pretty well, though the plants are a bit scraggly. We need to get some more compost on this area. The peppers are planted amongst another variety of bunching onions. In the front right corner is the mint that we try to keep contained to this small corner.

A close up of some of our peppers.
Our tomato jungle! There are seven varieties of tomatoes growing here. I think the plants all grew about two feet in the last week. With our cool early summer, they are a bit behind, but they are now loaded with blossoms, and have a fair amount of fruit setting on. We are still hoping for a good harvest.

The tomatoes are quite a bit taller than Josie. She will still be able to reach the cherry tomatoes (2 types) that grow right by the path. We can hardly wait. Tucked in around the tomatoes are numerous basil plants, some thyme, and on the far side chives, oregano and garlic chives.

Some cosmos. The seedlings were given to us by a neighboring gardener. They were coming up quite prolifically in her plot, they were self-seeding from last year's plants.

I didn't realize that eggplant blossoms were so beautiful. We have three plants tucked in around the tomatoes. They are looking good right now as long as they don't completely get crowded out by the tomatoes. (If they do . . . I'd rather eat the tomatoes anyway.)

And we can't forget the Three Sisters garden! (The three sisters are corn, beans and squash.)The corn was a little slow getting started (I think again due to the cool early summer). The beans however are doing great. They are Mexican red beans. We grew them last year in a small spot just outside our door. They produced about a pound of dried beans, and we saved enough to plant this 100 sq. ft. area. It is looking like we will have quite a large harvest. It is tough to see the squash in this picture, but it is coming along nicely also after a slow start. I think we will have zucchini to eat next week (a green and a gold variety). We also have cucumbers (2 varieties), three varieties of winter squash and pie pumpkins. In the middle, Anna is standing in her sunflower house. The sunflowers haven't taken off quite like we had hoped but the idea is that as they grow up, morning glories planted in between them climb up and form the walls. It is starting to come along, and Anna had fun playing in it today.

Here is Anna standing by her "fireplace." The largest sunflower was her fireplace where she was frying corn and strawberries. In the foreground is one of our zucchinis.

Soon after we came in from the garden Anna started calling for me to come. She spotted this deer walking through the courtyard. It is not often we see deer in the courtyard. Foxes and raccoons are much more common (not to mention squirrels). This one seemed quite content to hang out for a while, though. That's okay with me as long as it stays out of the garden.
And now for today's harvest:
I was really excited when I pulled these carrots out today. We have never had much luck growing carrots. We will get big green tops that seem to indicate healthy plants, and even the tops of the roots seem big and fat, but then we go to pull them out and they are only about two inches long or forked in three for four directions. So I was pretty excited to harvest these first carrots of the year. My experience with carrots has shown me that a lot has to do with the soil texture. It has to be loose. So getting carrots so much better this year than last indicates that we have done a lot to improve our soil texture in just one year. And 'growing the soil' is my favorite part of gardening.

Some of the swiss chard we ate with dinner tonight.

Some of the bunching onions which went in our Indian lentils and rice.

We harvest this much kale at least once a week. This will be used for tomorrow's dinner.

Our friends Darren and Ruth and their daughter Alex came over for dinner, so it was joy to get to share from the bounty of our garden with them. We had Indian lentils and rice that used onions and mint from our garden, sauteed chard and salad greens with shredded carrot. That's when it is really fun and fulfilling-- growing good food then sharing it with others

We even had a little flower arrangement for a center piece. Calendula, cosmos, mint and cilantro flowers.

And one more picture of Anna at the end of the evening as she decided to decorate her hat with clothes pins. (She's wearing the dress that Mitch made her for Christmas this year. Josie has a matching one. He sewed them without even using a pattern. Quite impressive, really. )

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Anna Counting

It is fun to see some basic math concepts clicking in Anna's head lately. She's figured out how to count objects and can figure out how many of something there are accurately up to about 10. Yesterday we were eating cinnamon rolls and she and Josie had torn theirs into pieces. She kept wanting to know how many pieces she had and would count and recount the number on her plate (the number kept changing as she and Josie traded pieces back and forth). Then she decided she wanted to have 3 pieces because she is 3 years old, so she counted how many she had. She had 4. She looked at me and I could see the wheels turning in her head. She slowly took one away, looked at me, grinned, and asked "Do I have 3 now?" as she recounted them to make sure. Yup, you did your subtraction correctly, Anna. I was impressed. Math in the real world.

I feel so privileged and a bit in awe to be able to stand back and watch my girls learn and grow. They take in the world around them and understand a bit more of it each day and sharpen their own abilities both mental and physical.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Buffalo Creek Campground

We had a wonderful weekend camping with friends at Buffalo Creek Campground.

Lots of playing in the hammock. This is our three girls with Matthew and Jake Cairns: And relaxing in the hammock. Mitch even got a nap in the hammock one morning.

There was a huge broken tree limb that the kids were constantly climbing or playing under. Miles Paschall Johnson and Matthew Cairns are the climbers in this picture:

Mitch brought his guitar and his didgeridoo and we brought all the girls' instruments including the banjo that Josie is playing in this picture. Josie kept asking Mitch to play the guitar and then she would get out her banjo and play along so she could be "playing the same thing!" as her Daddy'O.
What camping trip would be complete without s'mores over the campfire in the evening? Daddy and Josie roasting the marshmallow:

Uncle Darren is helping Eli Paschall Johnson and Mitch is helping Anna while Josie is busy eating hers in the background.

Hanging out by the tent. Can you see Josie peeking her head out?
It was Ruthie's first camping trip! It was a great spot to camp with kids. We had great weather. Some rain, just enough to keep all the bugs away, but not too cold. Evenings spent talking around the campfire. Days full of hiking, biking, playing in the creek and relaxing in the hammock. Good food, great company. Lots of time to connect as a family. A truly relaxing weekend outdoors doing all of our favorite things.