Archive for June, 2012

One of our unschooling adventures for the summer occurred outside the actual yard. We went down to the local game park to practice riding bikes on the bike trail. While we were there, over the din of traffic on the nearby highway, we heard a strange “gung-gung” noise coming from the pond.


The kids, even Liberty,were intrigued at this noise. I told them it was bullfrogs. Although we couldn’t see any frogs in the pond behind the fence, we practiced their noises, had leap frog races and then drove over to the bay on the lake to see if we could find any frogs.


We did not. When we got home, I prepared lunch and the three kiddos watched you tube videos about bullfrogs. They giggled when the throats puffed out during the bullfrog’s call. We learned the ASL sign for “frog” and they excitedly told their dad all about our science lesson when he got home.



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When you watch the Ludington Guard Band perform in the bandshell at Wilson Park in Menomonie on Tuesday nights in the summer, you are watching a piece of local history, even if you don’t know it. The Ludington Guard Band has been around and performing since the late 1800’s (for real). They put on a free show in the park every Tuesday night in the summer, accompanied by concessions, namely ice cream and pie.

I caught the mid-June performance – it was my first show. It was really an overwhelming feeling of simple, community togetherness and joy. Imagine entertainment in the 1920’s and 30’s – big band music in the park; children running around with ice cream cones; moms, dads, babies, grandparents lounging on blankets smiling, clapping to the music. That is what concerts in Wilson Park look like in 2012. There is nothing less complicated or more joyful than a community enjoying an amazing musical performance on a beautiful June evening while sampling local pies, treats and popcorn.


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  • someone┬áloving nature, plants, and animals. (The type of person who lives on granola.) : He’s such a crunchy guy, always saving whales and trees. *
Crunchy is a relatively new slang word used to describe someone who is a tree-hugger, hippy, environmentalist, naturalist, green. One of the things that makes me “crunchy” is belonging to a magazine club called Pathways. It is sort of like a book club, only we read articles in a quarterly magazine and meet monthly to discuss the articles. A few of our members have also organized a buying group where we order wholesale from organic food catalogues and divvy up our orders just prior to our monthly meeting. As part of a discussion one night, we talked about some of the things that make us “crunchy.” I compiled a list of things that fit that category:
1. I quite frequently “wear” my babies
2. I eat free range eggs and beef
3. I enjoy growing and preserving veggies/fruit
4. I make homemade deoderant
5. I use coconut oil to eat, as lotion, diaper cream, an ingredient in my deoderant, etc.
6. I air-dry my laundry in the summer (Taylor says only farmers do that)
7. I do my best to limit energy usage by opening windows at night and closing them in the morning to trap the cool air in the house to disspell the heat of the day
8. I shop, at least a little, at the local Co-Op (of which I’m a member) and farmers markets
9. I limit “screen time” with my kids
10. We made our own baby food
11. We use environmentally and body-healthy cleaning and personal care products
12. We re-use food containers and plastic bags – just rinse them out and let them dry.
13. We focus on decreasing the use of plastics in favor of more “natural” materials like metal, glass or wood
14. I use cloth diapers
I’m by no means perfect! But I am always striving to add things to this list. One thing that is a goal for me is composting. We did plenty of that when we had chickens – scraps went to chickens, chickens laid nice bright eggs! What do you do that makes you “crunchy?”
*(Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition. Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw Hill.)

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Every year in June I get an itch to get out there and pick fresh strawberries. I love fresh strawberries! I don’t really even like strawberries from the store – they’re like banana or watermelon flavored candy – they taste nothing like “the real thing.” I remember each year of strawberry picking at Govins since Natalie was 2 and we went with our friends Jessie and John with their daughter Ivy. The girls had a blast, smiling with strawberry juice dripping down their faces. James was a baby and a very young one at that!

The next year, Natalie was able to find a few berries and James was on my back in the Moby wrap – he had strawberry juice dripping down his chin and I had stains on my back. We had Liberty in her carseat and she slept the whole time. Taylor ate as many as he kept.

This year it was Liberty with the strawberry beard. James picked for 5 or 10 minutes before announcing he was done and Taylor and Natalie picked pint-fulls at a slow-but-steady pace. Each year at the strawberry patch there are new adventures and new milestones. And there is something about the beauty of a bright red berry on the plant and the smell of fresh strawberries in the fridge that makes my belly tingle and my heart happy every June.

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Today is James’s 3rd birthday. Riley always says he’s the greatest Fathers Day gift he’s ever gotten. He spent the day going to the dump with Daddy, stopping for his contraband McDonalds chocolate chip cookie, getting a bike, fishing pole, water gun, new outfit, water shoes, and a marshmallow crossbow, showing Nana and Papa on FaceTime how he can ride his bike, visiting with Uma and Grampa, eating pizza buffet at Jeff’s Pizza, eating chocolate cake, watching the Nature Valley Grand Prix bike race, taking a nap, playing some games, squirting his sisters with his new watergun, eating cake again, and is now playing with action figures and watching Cars 2 on TV.

Here are some things I want to remember about James at age three:

He loves Simba

If you look sad, he kisses you to cheer you up

He likes to name his own routine: “I eat, I watch cartoon, I take a bathtub, I go nigh-night.”

He can match pitch

He loves ketchup

His smile can melt your heart

(His scream can split your head)

He likes storms and watching the radar

He already tells “fish stories”

He’s a great big brother

He’s a pesky little brother ­čÖé

His hands and cheeks are my favorite part about him

When someone asks him how old he is, he says, “Mama, whats my number?”

He likes to have company in his room at night when he falls asleep – Daddy sits by the door for 5 minutes after we tuck him in

These are some of the sweet little things I want to remember about that boy. Happy Birthday, James Joseph!

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This Moment: A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Have you ever seen The Parent Trap? Well, Hayley Mills plays both Susan and Sharon who were split up by their divorcing parents at a young age. Walt Disney produced the film by using a body double and then spliced the film together to make it look like the “twins” were in the film together.

That’s what it felt like creating the photo for this week’s photo challenge. The theme this week is “friendship” and my best friend lives too far away for me to photograph her, so we did some trick photography to make it look like we were actually together for a friendship pose.

There are a lot of reasons why Jessie is my best friend. Here are the top ten:
10. She talks to me on the phone whenever I need her
9. She knows when I need her to just agree with me
8. She likes to have tasty junk food with me after the kids go to bed
7. She inspires me to always do better
6. She works hard
5. She does what she says she’s going to
4. She likes to do projects and includes me – like this weekly photo challenge
3. She likes to talk about politics and we almost always agree
2. She sometimes cracks open a diet Coke with me before 10:00 am.
1. She has always been there for me – to talk, to listen, to laugh, to cry, or just to hang out on the phone while each of us address our respective childrens’ screaming.


Jessie has the same picture on her blog with some of our best friendship moments. Check it out on behindthewillows.com.

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