Saturday, September 24, 2011

How do you like them apples?

Just when I thought harvest season might be winding to a close, we went and checked the apples on the tree in a field that neighbors our house.  It was loaded!  We ended up filling four boxes and two large bags.  The neighbor kids came and picked with us.  One of the boxes went home with them.  Although the apples are smallish and slightly sour, once they ripen a little, I know they will make delicious sauce.  Brandon shook the tree and impressed the kids with his strength, we got some great family and neighborhood bonding time, and we got some yummy food.  It was a great evening.

Earlier in the day at the Harvest Jubilee celebration in Stanwood.

best buds

i just love the skies lately

my big boy

taste test!

slightly scared because she's up a ladder!

double rainbow all the way!

leaning a little too far...

the boys doing their work

Some of the harvest


Trike at Julie's house

As I look over the different stages in my life, I notice that God has given me an intensely well suited and special friend for each stage.  Some of these people are a friend for a season, and others are the kind that will probably give me a giant hug when we're both antiques, and sit down to chat like time had never progressed.

There are friends that save you, like the ones who decided in elementary school that even though I was labeled buck-tooth, haole and teacher's pet, I was still worth knowing.  Or the 2 who knocked on my door when I was a fresh transplant from Hawaiian to Washingtonian soil in the dead of a frigid February, and decided that I and my tiny baby needed play dates.

There are friends who grow up with you.  My friend Jeanette, who is my oldest friend, has been my friend since the sixth grade.  I got to know her right when I was starting to get to know myself, and feel comfortable with who I was as a weird, nerdy, yet very interesting and curious person.  We were both members of the first 6th grade class at an all girls school in Hawaii, and it was that school that saved me from being forever down on myself, I think.  I went from being odd and rejected, to being silly and embraced.  That's a good feeling.  It was wonderful to begin to add to my interests, rather than trying to shelter them from teasing.

 In college, there was my friend Brandi.  Together, we discussed faith and questions, trying to grasp where our minds stood, and which tenets were most important to us.  This was vital to me.  Because I had already wrestled with deep questions, when truly difficult events happened in my life, I was not frantic, but understood where I was with God, and that I could go to Him to find peace.  It was then, in college, with those friends, that I understood how vital always facing and working with  our questions is to growth and learning, both mentally and spiritually.  Whenever I see Brandi, there is this shared background of understanding and general curiosity about people and the world around us, and we always have something fascinating to discuss.

There is the best friend of all, the one who is your opposite in gender and many other ways, but who is your perfect complement.  This is my husband, Brandon.  I am artsy; he is a creative computer programmer.  I am always cold; he is always hot.  I like to do things the old fashioned way; he is interested in the most cutting edge technology.  I love to write with words; he loves to write with computer code.  I love to create with my hands; he loves to create with his mind.  I love to go against the grain and so does he.  We both question the status quo, examine it, then decide what is best for us and our family.  Our sense of humor is weird.  We love thai food and hate High Fructose Corn Syrup.  We love home grown foods and avoid fast food.  We love animals but don't love their messes.  We are enamored with our children, and also exasperated by them.  We are both captivated by the never ending desire to create, and are both in awe of all God has created, forever wanting to learn more.  We are both followers of Jesus, trying to live as He would.  

There are friends who are like blood.  These are the friends who have an uncanny connection in terms of family background, interests and personality.  These friends are sister friends.  When you are with them, you are not at all awkward.  You can talk about anything from bodily functions to childbirth, to deep pains from the past.  I met Josie, who is actually my husband's cousin, when my husband and I were first dating.  We have developed a friendship over the years that has made us into family.  My children call her aunty, and she is the first person I call when things are rough.

These kinds of friends are rare and wonderful, and serve also as therapists in the hardest of times.  I have met for the past 5 years with a small group of women to pray regularly for our daily struggles.  Wendy, Lisa, Josie, Carly and Jenny share not only my faith, but also knowledge of everything I have wrestled with for the past 5 years, and have, in prayer, guided me through these things.  When I went through my miscarriage 6 years ago, it was Wendy who came and sat with me.  She is the one who painted my entire house with me when I was pregnant and emotional as I thought I was going to lose that house.

Lisa has taught me most of what I know about gardening and food preservation, and has a go with the flow, peacemaker personality that jives so well with mine.  It doesn't hurt that our children are the best of friends.  Jenny and Carly share a very deep connection with me in our concern for our children, and raising them up in the ways God wants us to.  They both have really similar parenting styles to me, and wrestle with some of the same concerns and insecurities that I do.

My friend Carrie is a fellow homeschooling mom, without whom I would be certain I was actually completely insane to decide to continue to teach my children at home.  Also, I am sure I would probably miss out on some of the best laughs I have ever had in my life if I had never met her, and I would be certain that my house cleaning skills equate me with an imbecile, had she not convinced me otherwise, and powered with me through some of the worse messes in my house.  Jill is another homeschooling mentor mom of mine.  Having already navigated the teen years with most of her children, she gives me priceless advice.  Also, she has a knack for showing up to help just when I feel like I'm going to fall apart.  Kari, another good friend, does the same, having helped me can peaches and plant the garden.

You cannot replace friends like these, because you cannot imagine being able to endure life without them.  They are the ones who remind you that God cares enough about you to send someone who loves nearly as deeply as He does, and plops them right into your life.

Recently another dear friend has been added to these ranks, and her name is Julie.   You know someone will probably be your friend for a long time, when after meeting her just once, you're already giving her a hug.  She shares with me a deep fascination with the way the natural world works, and a sense of awe of the beauty of traditional cultures and the way they interact with God's creation.  She has been to Copper Canyon, the place where the sandals I wear daily originated.  She shares my artistic eye, and the deep desire to do things naturally, from scratch and in traditional and old ways.  My littlest girls are peas in a pod with her girls, and I feel so incredibly blessed.  I'm bubbling over with joy at this addition to the noble ranks of my friends.

Here are some photos from my visit with Julie yesterday.  I'm not sure why I didn't include many pictures of our children, but I think it's because I wanted to appreciate in those moments the beauty of their wild movement, rather than see it through the lens of a camera.

We think this might be burdock, but maybe it's something else.  Anyway, the boys stuck it to me, and boy does it stick.  Better than velcro, and a whole lot pokier.  

Best dog ever.  Their dog does NOT eat their ducks.  This was the friskiest I saw the dog get.  

What a great idea for a clothes line!

Walking back to the house...

Maia enjoying this blustery day with her friends.
Laundry out to dry

A special handmade broom given to Julie by a dear friend hangs in a place of honor in her home.

Such a beautiful dining room table

every pepper grinder should be this adorable.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It was summer, now it's fall...

The first hollyhock I have ever grown. My grandma showed me how to make hollyhock dolls when I was a little girl.  I hope to do this for my girls.

The autumnal equinox, in which the night and day are about the same length, is also the first official day of fall.  That's this friday!  I would hardly believe it, except that evidence of fall permeates nature all around us, and every activity we do.  We have already harvested all but our corn, pumpkins, later beans, and cabbage.  The freezer is filled with zucchini, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, jam, goat milk, beef from the in-laws, beans and applesauce.  The garage hides boxes of potatoes beneath tarps, and the last green tomatoes and peppers are trying to photosynthesize the last rays of summer.  In the pantry, there is canned tomato sauce, applesauce, pears and peaches.  There are drying herbs, like chamomile, dill, celery leaf, basil, calendula, parsley and coriander.  I am amazed when I realize that not long ago, most everyone had to do about 10 times more work than this to prepare for winter.  The things I have preserved are extras, but will not solely bring our family through until spring.  I am in awe of the work and dedication it took for families to merely survive, and I am thankful for the many conveniences we have.  I am reminded of a line in Lois Lenski's tiny little children's book, "It was summer, now it's fall, just the nicest time of all."

The poor neglected potted green tea plant thrives in the fall rain.

Tomatoes from the garden, ready to become a little saucy

The peaches were terrible this year.  They were mealy and overripe.  We got them from Eastern Washington, but I let them sit for 2 days, and they were more than ready.  We froze the rest for smoothies.

Riding with the babies in the laundry basket

Calendula and my cute saraiah

Beading is a favorite past time among the little girls.  This is a wind chime decoration Saraiah made an hung on the porch.

Saraiah tells me these are butterfly eggs.  I wonder?

It's crane fly season!

Another beautiful way to go to seed

"Mom, I was faking" she told me later.

Dewy, misty mornings

The last of the garden ripening tomatoes

Maia, using all her lung power

Just joy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Back to school insect adventure

It's time to catch up on my blog posts since we started school last week and have taken this week to work on food preservation for winter.  Our first day back at the co-op school the kids go to was last Monday, but it was on Wednesday of that week that the real adventures happen.  Just as our first day of homeschool was picturesque and meaningful, so was the first day of the co-op.  The second day was more interesting.  Everything was going fine, until I took Saraiah to her first ever Kindergarten Experience class, where they get to do all those "Everything I ever needed to know in life, I learned in Kindergarten" type things.  It was adorable.  I got a lot of really cute pictures, and then I noticed the tangles.  Saraiah's hair was a mess of tangles right in the back.  This is not uncommon, until I noticed that every few seconds, she itched the same spot in earnest.  I had to check.  Not 3 seconds into checking, I found an insect.  I quickly and quietly explained to Saraiah that we needed to go, and excused us, then explained that lice are very good at being shared.

We sat in the car, and I called a friend to warn her, and to also lament the infestation.  "Did you look at it closely, she asked?  It might be a flea.  It's a bad flea year."  Skeptical, and believing myself to be doomed to the Lice Meister, tea tree oil, and 39 loads of laundry, I looked anyway.  There is was.  One lonely flea attached to my daughter's head!  EW!  But, also AHHHH!  I did not have to quarantine her but only needed to be sure our dog was treated.  To be certain, I showed the now dead flea to 6 moms, including the kindergarten teacher, and got confirmation that it was NOT a louse.  Thank goodness!  Happy and slightly confused, Saraiah went back to class.

To finish out the day, Maia decided to take perfect bites from the side of a yellow and a red crayon during the church service.  It was very strange, and she did not like being apprehended from it, but most of all, I wish I had taken a picture of those perfect crescent bites out of the sides that did not even break the crayons.  Here, however, are a few of my favorite photos of those first few days of co-op. 

in the car

A fairy meal

got the wrong shoes on

Storytime yoga class

Knights and castles class

Kindergarten class