Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Coming of the Pilgrims

This week in school we've been learning about the coming of the Pilgrims. One of the things I've been doing with Peregrine is having him do a short narration each week. Usually it's just a few sentences summarizing what we've been learning; he dictates it to me, I write it, and he copies it. This week I told him I would type it for him and he could do a longer one. So, without further ado, here is his story. (This kid amazes me. He even told me that Mayflower needed to be in "fancy" writing.)

The Coming of the Pilgrims
by Peregrine E. B. G.
The Pilgrims left England because they were not allowed to worship God in their own way. They went to Holland, but were not happy among the Dutch. So they left in the ship Mayflower and sailed to North America. Life was hard on the ship, but finally they got to Cape Cod. They decided to build a village called Plymouth Plantation. Building the village was hard work. They must build beams and poles to build their houses. First they all lived in one big house altogether, but then they started to make their own houses. That first winter in Plymouth was extremely harsh. Illness spread through the village like a wildfire. Nearly half the people died. But the next winter was not so harsh for they had built some more houses and had more stores because the Indians had showed them how to plant corn. Corn was their main food that winter. Their village grew and grew until the Indians became worried, for perhaps Plymouth was planning a raid. But they were not, for they had signed a peace treaty. They lived in peace for many years.

Picture by N.C. Wyeth

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This is the time of year, as the days grow cooler and become golden, and the first leaves begin to flutter gently downwards, that I remember. I remember three years ago, when I had just lost a baby to miscarriage, and two years ago when I would have been giving birth to a second baby who flew away too soon. I remember long moments of waiting, watching, listening for a heartbeat that wasn't there, and long days of waiting for my body to give up the baby that I so desperately wanted to keep. I remember the horrible night I spent in the ER, as my life's blood flowed out with that tiny one, and the long weeks of recovery that followed. Then, a few month's later, learning once again that there was life within me, and waiting, hoping, praying, fearing, and then losing that baby as well.
Time goes on, and there is healing. Yes, there is still sadness for those little ones; there are still questions. I still wonder what they would have been like. I give thanks for Raphael, whose very name means "God has healed" and through whom God indeed brought healing both to my body and my heart. I give thanks for Peregrine and Alethea, my two lively, curious, and loving older children. I am glad, not for losing babies, but that God was with me through it and that I have changed, hopefully grown through the sadness and pain. I am thankful that I know those babes, Esther and Lydia, are safe and that one day we will be together. It makes me wonder more about heaven, long for my eternal home.
Little ones, Esther and Lydia, I remember you. I miss you, and am glad I got to be your mama, even if our time together here was so short. I love you, and I remember...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

BBA Challenge #13: French Bread

The thirteenth bread in the Challenge: crusty, delicious, baguettes. I tried making French Bread years ago, and frankly, it was nothing special. This, on the other hand, was wonderful. More substantial than your typical grocery store baguette, it was a great balance of crust and crumb. The large portion of pre-fermented dough added greatly to the flavor. I took this to a family gathering and it disappeared quickly. I would definitely make this recipe again next time I want this type of bread.
Next up: Italian Bread. I'm not sure how this differs from French Bread, but I'm sure I'll find out.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Rainbow of Silks

I have, for a long time, loved the idea of playsilks. My Magic Cabin catalogue, one of the very few I get, arrives, and I look at all the wonderful playthings. My kids love to dress up and are fairly bursting with imagination, and I love fabric, especially natural textiles. So while I've looked at them often and thought they'd be a lot of fun, paying $10 each for a square yard of colored silk seemed, well, a bit extravagant. Then, a few weeks ago, I came across instructions for dyeing your own silks with Kool-aid! White silk scarves were less than $4 each from Dharma Trading Company, and Kool-aid didn't add much to the cost. The project was easy and fun; the kids were able to help out. It was also quick, and before long they were happily playing.
Peregrine puts the vinegar-soaked silk into jars with Kool-Aid. If I do this again, I will do each silk in a small pot so it has more room and the color comes out a bit more even. Also, I would use three packets of Kool-Aid for each scarf for a more vibrant color.

Here's the finished rainbow.

And here are a couple of cute little pilgrim/princess/king kids in the front room. They are finding so many uses for these and really enjoying them.

After dyeing with Kool-Aid I got inspired to try some natural dyes. From left to right I used coffee, tea, coffee/turmeric, blueberry, blackberry, and turmeric. I also did one with half a bottle of liquid chlorophyl I found in the cupboard. It came out a pale green that is also really lovely.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Story of Helen, Who Loved Dolls

School has begun in our humble little home. Officially, Peregrine starts first grade this year, and Poppy, at 4 1/2, is my pre-schooler. One of the great things about learning at home is that we are not bound by those numbers, and the kids can learn at their own pace and, largely, learn about things they are interested in. We are doing a combination of a few different curriculum pieces, chosen carefully by Teacher-Mama, who put great thought and care into choosing things that suited our children, their interests, and our family. I've been mulling over, for some time, my teaching philosophy and will one of these days (or months) try to put it into words.
I am very drawn to and inspired by the work of Charlotte Mason, a British educator who lived, taught, and wrote over 100 years ago. The main history and geography curriculum I'm using with Peregrine uses some of her methods, and the language arts program I'm using is also based on her ideas. It tends to be extremely gentle, and instill in children a love of learning. Yesterday we simply looked at the above painting and talked about it. Today, I asked him to tell me a story based on what he sees in the painting. I typed as he dictated to me; since he reads well he watched and instructed me when I left out an exclamation mark, or if he wanted to change a sentence. This is his story. Enjoy!
By the way, does anyone know who did the painting?


Once upon a time there was a little girl named Helen. She had a doll with a blue dress and loved dolls. The house dog with a white chest and orange back legs, Collie, would follow her everywhere she went. One day some friends came to her house. She asked them to play dolls with her, but they said they were going to play freeze-tag. So she decided to play dolls with Collie. She put another of her dolls, Rosie, in front of Collie. Collie picked the doll up in her mouth and ran away with Rosie! Helen put down her blue doll and began to cry. She cried for half an hour there in the corner. Then, Collie came in without Rosie! Helen said “Bad dog! You should never go away with my doll like the way you did!”

Just then, her mother came in. “Why are you crying?” her mother asked. “Because Collie went away with my doll” Helen replied. Her mother said “Never mind. I know where your doll is; Collie ran off and hid it in the bushes.” “Oh, may I get it now?” Helen asked. “Not yet, Silly! It’s lunchtime! Look at the clock!” “Oh,” replied Helen. “You can get it after lunch,” her mother said.

So after lunch her friends said “We’ll play dolls with you now!” “Hurrah!” Helen cried, and jumped up and down. Then, she ran out, got Rosie, got her doll in the blue dress, got five other dolls, and played for hours with her friends.

Then it was time for her friends to leave. “We had a nice time here!” they called. “I’ll see you next time you come!” Helen called back.

And that is my story of a girl named Helen and a dog named Collie with a white chest and orange back legs.


Author’s Note: Guess who wrote this story? If you’re my Grandma, or Papa, which of course you probably might not be, it was me, Peregrine! Since you couldn’t guess it was me, whoever has read this story, you will like it! And how a girl named Helen’s mother helped Helen find her doll that the house dog had hidden in the garden. You can learn a lot from this computer-written book and this exciting story!