A Homeschool Valentine Party

We had such a fun day today, celebrating Valentines Day with our homeschool friends. I stayed up extra late the night before, preparing some special treats for our kiddos. We had a Cupid’s arrow game, wooden bead necklaces, a table puppet show, lots of yummy treats, a heart friendship rock hunt and an adorable valentine exchange. It was perfection! Thank you to my fellow homeschooling mamas. I couldn’t have pulled it off without them!



Exploring Amethyst


In homeschool club this week, we talked about January and February’s rock boxes- Quartz and Amethyst. We talked about the different types of rocks (rocks versus minerals), the crystal structures of both and then the girls drew amethyst crystals onto rubber stamps. I carved their drawing and they had a great time making prints of their crystal stamps. A quick but fun lesson!

Amethyst peg doll by pegandbranch
Rock boxes by me!
Love bug necklaces by FairyShadow

A Waldorf Valentine Faire

This past weekend we got to attend the Goleta Waldorf School Valentine Winter Faire. We had done the Christmas faire in December and we were all blown away by how lovely and beautiful everything was. Ellie had the most wonderful time once again. There were puppets shows and Valentine fairies and goats and bees and wool and just everything magical. DSC_0340DSC_0348DSC_0326DSC_0327DSC_0331DSC_0333DSC_0337
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(treasures we brought home)

Portrait Project week 5 and 6

Eloise: Hard at work with your Dada. You guys have been doing “engineering” days together for home school. Pulleys, cranes, jet propulsion , all topics you’ve been working on. It’s such a joy to watch you work with your Dada and also to watch you understanding these concepts so thoroughly. My little engineer!

Eloise: I love this photo. It encapsulates all the wonder and joy that 5 brings. You wear your witches hat daily, you choose a dinosaur shirt because you just love dinos. You eagerly wear your nature vest that carries mama-made patches and pins and you are giddy to wear a new little love bug treasure around your neck. As hard as 5 has been, THIS is what its all about. I love you my love bug!

“a photo of Ellie, once a week, every week in 2018”

Portrait Project 2, 3 and 4/52

Eloise: Visiting the MOXI in Santa Barbara, days before the mudslides devastated Montecito. I remember we were trying to get back into a regular rhythm of visiting our favorite local museums after the fires, then the rains came days later, mudslides and fwy closed and we still haven’t been back up since. This photo, when I took it had a wonder to it that I loved, but seeing it now, reminds me of those horrible days after.

We helped to build a cardboard city in the museum that day and thinking of it now, I remember seeing cardboard firetrucks and cardboard helicopters, cardboard houses on hills and cardboard trees and buildings. Thinking of that cardboard city made by so many little hands all over the state brings hope. And I know we will be back soon, to hopefully build more…

Eloise: Laughing at your “sister Summer” as the two of you put on a show for your Mamas.

Eloise: Your Grandma and Grandpa spoiled you with this owl puppet the other day. You haven’t let it out of your sight. In fact, you have created rules for your owl. You can only hold the owl if you are wearing the “glove” (one of Mama’s arm warmers)  and you tied a string onto its foot since ‘”his wing is broken and I can’t have him trying to fly all over and hurt his wing again.” A little falconer/ bird rehab-er in the making.

Homeschool : Winter Bird Study

We’re back at it again. This being only our second week into home school club with our little pack of wild girls and boys. It was a crazy winter so far with wild fires and evacuations and mud slides so close to home and then lots of illness. But, we’re hopefully starting to see the light of a new day. Our winter birds study day was a welcome retreat from the craziness of the world. The girls really enjoyed the day. We started with talking about adaptations and differences in winter versus spring birds and then I told a Chickadee Burgess Bird Book story with paper dolls I had made for the occasion. We made our own bird paper dolls (the girls have been really into making up stories and plays, so I thought these would be a hit). Then we made winter bird feeders to hang in our favorite park. At the end of our winter semester they will each get a bird patch (I’m ahead of my game and made several already, even a few to put in the shop).

We use Lynn Seddon’s Exploring Nature With Children to outline our mornings. birdstudy19
And Veronika Hortt’s Winter stories and poems.
And if you don’t own the Burgess Bird Book, you must. It’s full of lovely, very authentic  tales of birds and wildlife. birdstudy3

The girls wanted to have a “show and tell”, so most of them brought “bird items” to share. birdstudy4birdstudy5
Ellie, of course was donned in her best bird outfit for the occasion. birdstudy13birdstudy6birdstudy9birdstudy7birdstudy8birdstudy11birdstudy10birdstudy17birdstudy12birdstudy15birdstudy14birdstudy16birdstudy21
Happy Winter Birding!!

2018 Portrait Project

I wasn’t going to do another year of the Portrait Project. It’s been so hard to keep up with it as well as make sure I post here each week. But then I finished making the book with all the portraits of 2017 and Ellie wanted to go through the older albums and so we’ve been reading them, one book a night. I have 5 of them. One for every year of Ellie’s life so far. Ellie has been loving hearing each photo’s story so much that I knew after reading the first book to her, I had to continue with the project… These books are way too important to me and to her. So, here it is…. 2018’s first photo…

“A photo of Ellie, once a week, every week in 2018.”

Eloise: January 2018, you are 5 and 5 months old, running down a sandy hill at the beach close to our home. After a strange December, we are getting our groove back. Walking the beach, enjoying the sunshine and watching you grow into a beautiful, young lady, ready to take on the world.

A New Year

It’s a New Year. I drove from our house in Ventura, up the coast to Santa Barbara today to visit the MOXI museum with Ellie and our good friends. It was the first time I had seen the expanse of devastation the Thomas Fire had left behind. For miles, the hills were charred black, burnt palm trees as far as the eye could see, houses leveled, and ash still collected in crevices and cracks in the streets and sidewalks. We were a ways from the flames in Ventura when the fire was at its worst, back in early December, but our favorite park was burned down, the botanic gardens we took family photos in completely charred and so many homes right in our downtown…. completely gone. The month of December was such a strange one. My mom having surgery, having to leave Ventura for most of the month to steer clear of awful smoke and ashy air conditions… learning about all our friends who had to evacuate, never knowing if they would lose their homes. It was just so surreal. With all the anxiety, we surprisingly had a very nice Christmas. We spent so much more time with my parents and family then we had in a long time, we made memories with evacuated friends who were staying close to where my parents lived. We were able to get back into our home before Christmas and spend Christmas morning at home. All the while, feeling somewhat guilty that we had a home while others in our community did not. Most of our friends are back in their homes. We’ve all been cleaning, washing the ash off the windows and trying to get back to normal. New Years Eve was spent in the town over with all our friends. There was so much joy being reunited with these friends, who just weeks before were all over the state on evacuation. We sang, had a parade with the kids, ate good home-cooked food and relished in being together. Every now and then, the smell of stale camp fire would waft in from outside and would remind us of the chaos of the Thomas Fire.

The New Year brought a walk along the beach. Our first one since before the fires. The air felt fresh, even if we could see the blackened hills behind us. But the walk so clearing and hopeful. Watching the birds fly and watching Ellie run around enjoying the sand and crisp air. We found a lovely 2018 written in the sand and that along with our beach walk, made a wonderful, hopeful start to this New Year.


Thankgiving 2017

This year for Thanksgiving, Jeff and I hosted once again and it was a really wonderful day all around. My family (mom, dad, sisters and brother plus Jeff and Ellie) were there with my sister’s new husband and his mother and brother as well as my Grandmother. The weather was nice, so we ate outside. Jeff and I recently lost a friend to a tragic car accident and so that family was on our minds as well as the fragility of life. And my Mom is also going through a lot right now with a tough diagnosis of breast cancer and that has been the focus of making every day special and wonderful before her surgery and the long road to recovery. We have so much to be thankful for- and I’m once again thankful for a day like yesterday with my family and friends. We ended the night with Jeff’s famous apple pie, brownies and nilla wafer pudding and a round of Heads Up that put a smile on everyone’s faces and utter thankfulness in all of our hearts.


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Homeschool Friendsgiving

Last week we got together for a special homeschool club- a Friendsgiving! We made corn husk dolls (thanks to Julie who provided all the materials and showed the girls how to make them). I read about the Native American history of these dolls to the girls while they made them. We also made gratitude rocks and talked about what we could do with them as well as what we were all thankful for. And then we had a lovely Friendsgiving lunch! Thank you to my dear friends for hosting us.


Happy FRIENDSgiving to all my friends out there!