Saturday, July 31

So much love....

Deep, deep gratitude to all of you who have e-mailed or commented and sent loving words and wishes for strength and healing on my recent post about Toucie's hospitalization. These connections and these waves of buoying energy are what keep me going and I thank you for every word.

To answer those of you who have asked about sending a bit of yourselves to Toucie..YES!!! She would love it (and I would too!!!). She loves all colors of the rainbow and is delighted by most everything...any note no matter how small will brighten her very small world right now.

Thank you so much, friends, for your heartfelt kindness and support during these make a big difference for me. xoxo

Wednesday, July 28

Gathering my wits....

Oh, friends,
I have hard news...Toucie has been diagnosed with Leukemia.

We are in Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and have already launched into treatment for her, but we are still reeling from the blow. We've been living in the hospital for 7 days and expect to be here for several more...possibly for 4 weeks during this first phase of her chemotherapy. We are expecting a full cure at the end of a 2 1/2 year program of, no despair here...just preparations for a long journey.

So, this is NOT going to turn into a Leukemia related blog. I just wanted to share this news and explain why I will not be posting until we get back to homeschooling in a few weeks. We are officially registered as kindergarteners this year (well...Toucie is registered, but I expect I will be learning a thing or two as well!), so we'll be back to record our Waldorf homeschool journey here soon.

Saturday, July 17

Raw Milk

After years of pining for an affordable source of fresh, unpasteurized, raw milk here in Tennessee (where it's sale is illegal!), we have finally had two pieces of good luck come our way. The first is a re-writing of the laws to clearly allow folks to buy "cow shares". And the second is an opportunity to join a newly formed group of fresh-milk-loving families and attach ourselves to an Amish farmer and his Jersey cows. Members of the group take turns driving to the farm each Saturday to pick up milk, cream, eggs, cheese, and pickled goods for the whole group. Today it was my turn to drive again.

I took Mado and her camera along. It was not easy capturing images of the farm without being intrusive. And it wasn't easy capturing any of the beautiful sights as we flew down the road either. But she managed to bring home a few pictures so that we could share some of the happiness we feel at being joined with this family and their farm :)

Looks like Saturday is laundry day! All the beautiful blues and purples make me smile.

Several men were out tending fields...some with teams of 4 or even 6 horses.

The youngest of the 10 children in this family...the little girl has a cord around her waist and her brother is holding the "reins" reminded me of a Waldorf kindergarten scene, but in its true, natural setting!

Two of the hardest workers on the farm.

A pair of young Jersey calves. This family moved here this year all the way from Maryland. Without a motorized vehicle. One of their cows calved in a Walmart parking lot on the way...they named the calf "Walmart". (I guess someday in the near future I'll be able to say that I get my raw milk from "Walmart")

We saw many signs letting us know that we were in an Amish community.

And shared the road with this whistling fellow!

Can you see the 2 turkeys flying across the road in front of our van??!! They had a flock of babies with them, too. We took this sighting as a good omen, of course :)

Here is Toucie perched on top of 16 gallons of fresh milk.
I am SO grateful to have access to this wonderful food!
(and to you, Mado, for the pictures that remind me of how lucky we are)

Wednesday, July 14

Blueberry Farm

Yesterday, 4 generations of us girls spent an afternoon together. My grandmother shooed us out of the kitchen and off to the nearby blueberry patch with the promise of a hearty lunch upon our return. My mom, my daughters and I all trundled down a little back lane to the neighbor's farm.

We pulled in and parked near the barn...Toucie is always on the lookout for any new barn kittens that may have been born since we were here last. (There is a little grey and white one in the doorway if you look closely!) We've been picking blueberries with my mom for about 13 or 14 is the best kind of family tradition.

The couple that built and live on this farm are Norwegian. You can see hints of their heritage all here in the design of this garden shed. It is like stepping inside a Jan Brett storybook!

Here is the welcoming committee! This old Shepherd always seems to remember us from year to least she makes us feel that way :)

We grab our pails and hike through the meadow, around the lily pond,  just past the pine wood, into this little valley...

...and there it is! A whole slope of highbush blueberries taller than we are ourselves!
And they are just dripping with plump berries.

The big girls get busy right away...

The littlest one spends alot of time doing this:

...and this:

(exploring the pine woods next to the blueberry patch and the treehouse that is there)

Our haul this time was 4 gallons.

And after about 2 hours of picking, we were ready for Grandma's lunch, so back through the meadows we went to pay the neighbors for our berries.

Back at home, Toucie made up for her lack of productivity in the field by sorting all the berries with me. This is no easy feat; what you see here is just one gallon. We sorted 4 gallons and bagged up almost all of them for the freezer. She also helped bake a fresh blueberry pie.

(berries tossed in flour and sugar, snug in their crust)

Good stuff!
Jam is next on the list :)

Monday, July 12

More summery moments....

(chamomile picked from my mom and dad's garden...fresh tea)

(swallowtail visitor)

(rosy cheeked Toucie)

(goldfinch vs. sunflower)

(nursing a crippled guinea keet)

(a cherry tomato and some "fairy tomatoes" - a variety called "currant")

(pretty girls)

(more pretty girls)

Sunday, July 11

One woman's trash is another's treasure!

Look what my grandma passed down to me during a recent destash of her craft room:

This photo doesn't show this stack of over 50 vintage quilt blocks very clearly, but you can tell that there is an insane riot of color going on!
I would NEVER in a million years choose or combine fabrics like the ones you see here, but when I saw them all stitched up into a pile of lonely blocks, I fell in love with all that clashing brightness. Half of them have a purple central motif and the other half are built around an orange center.
Stay tuned for our new reversible family quilt!

Thursday, July 8

Wonder and awe...

Maybe you remember this photo from a couple of posts ago?
It is a mockingbird's nest in a grape arbor, built at the just the right level for a 5 year old to peer into it with wide eyes.

7 days after I took the above picture, we found this:

Three of the eggs hatched! Here is a shot that Mado got:

Such amazing things happening all around us, everyday...

Monday, July 5

Creek walk

Walking down a creek instead of a trail is one of the ways Toucie and I have found to get moving and keep cool this summer.  Lots of exercise...

...plenty of time to explore ...


 is nature study and P.E. and recess all at once...but she doesn't know that :)

For her, its just summertime bliss

Sunday, July 4

Independence Day

(Mado self-portrait)


We spent Saturday and Sunday celebrating this year...

Daddy brought home a loaf of "Red, White and Blue Bread" from his favorite is like cinnamon bread with dried cherries and blueberries swirled throughout. Yummy way to start our Independence Day.

Our little town has a yearly parade:

After the morning parade, Toucie, Daddy and I headed home to pack a picnic and go to the water. From one of our regular swimming hole spots at the Harpeth River we can see something that looks like an island way off in the distance, floating in the middle of the river...we decided to wade/swim down the river and check it out.

We put Toucie and our picnic in a little inflatable boat and headed out.

The water didn't get much deeper than our waists, so the going was never treacherous, but it was quite the adventure all the same!
When we reached the island it was as if we had traveled back in time to uncharted territory. So much to explore...Daddy even found a broken arrowhead...who had been here and left that so many years ago, we wondered.

We discovered additional signs that others had been there before us...perhaps more recently :)

(deer print)

(raccoon print)

And then, of course, Toucie found a colony of the tiny frogs that are native to the banks of this river...

(the tiniest polliwogs we've ever seen!)

(Toucie smooching a frog)

We found a nice shady spot to eat the picnic that Daddy had packed for us and discovered it was scattered with really interesting rocks and fossils.

And Toucie found a spot where she was able to sail in her boat unassisted before we headed back home.

When we joined up again with Sodie, Naya, and Mado, we headed out to the country to spend the day with grandparents on their farm.

There was much grilling of burgers, churning of ice cream, raising of glasses, and shooting of fireworks :)

Mado got lots of pretty shots of are a couple she took of Sodie and Toucie with sparklers:

....and now to bed! Happy 4th of July to all who celebrate!