A Return to Focus

I’ve been rather absent from most of my blogs and other projects as I work toward making a great concert series for the summer.  My volunteer duties have taken over almost all of my free time, but we’re still homeschooling here.  Daughter just completed her annual testing with excellent results, and I’m feeling more confident about our work with her this past year.  Though the toddler takes up most of my time when awake, and exhausts everyone, including his sister, we’ve still managed to squeeze in some good learning opportunities.

As I attempt to return to a normal blogging schedule (outside of my monthly post at SageWoman blogs), and get back into my rhythm on my solo novel project, I’m trying out a new format for this blog.  Something that summarizes all the recent resources we’re tapping into. Let me know if it works well for you!


Daughter and the Little Fox splash on a sunny day on our own private stretch of beachfront.

Daughter and the Little Fox splash on a sunny day on our own private stretch of beachfront.

We recently attended Bellevue CC’s Science Department Open House. We saw bug heads up close in microscopes, watched a gummy bear scream and turn into brilliant, fleeting light, made bubbles with geometric constructions, and more. Daughter was more interested in the room dealing with light and holographs rather than the chemistry rooms we thought she’d enjoy, but ended up making her own sparkler in the bunsen burner while the little fox cheered on the colors he most wanted to see in the flame.

After finishing all of the books (some of them multiple times) in the KCLS Books to Grow On: Water, I made some time in our schedule for a beach outing. After a bit of searching online, I discovered a local fresh water beach a short drive further than the more popular park.

We gathered up towels, snacks, swimsuits, a pail and tools for the sand and headed out on a sunny weekday while most kids were in school and adults at work.

We swam with ducks. We watched a crane fly back and forth and perch on a pylon. A jet skier created rapid waves that beat against our legs. Daughter crab walked deeper into the lake until she nearly became entangled in a forest of duck weed. A crow watched us as he chilled on our beach towel beneath the shade of a tree.

My son took advantage of his tools and dug in the sand, moving water and rocks with his pail. We said hello to a number of elderly people out with their dogs, a few other families enjoying the sun, and a group of teen men who were likely skipping classes at a local school.


Daughter just completed The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I recommended it to her because it was historical fiction that detailed the development of comic books and their popularity in the early twentieth century. It also features escape artists, the rise of Nazis to power, Jewish myths and culture both in Europe and New York, the risks of being homosexual in a time when it was illegal, family bonds, and so much more. Sadly, she didn’t like it nearly as much as I did. She found the history of comic books rather disturbing, though she did like the escape artists. She found the details of war hard to face and the book itself, she admitted, went a bit over her head. She had no trouble understanding the relationships between characters, which came as no surprise to anyone.

I’m in the middle of Cane by Toomer to help help me get back into the flavor of the novel I’m writing whose heroine comes from rural Georgia. I’m in love with the blend of poetry and short prose to weave the story of a people in a given place and time. Each piece becomes part of a song with multiple melodies all harmonized to rekindle the life of a community from the past.

To add to this, we’ve begun addressing the lack of focus on civics, history, and the sciences by using the book basket method. Each child (unless they’re near enough in age), has a basket filled with books on a given subject. For fifteen minutes a day, the children sit and read anything from their baskets. Every few weeks, when the library sourced materials need to go back, they pick new topics to explore.

Daughter wanted to know lore about Medieval politics. Son is too young to choose special topics beyond those found in the Books to Grow On boxes, so his basket is currently filled with Olivia books his dad picked out. Little Fox adores them, just as his sister did in her early years, and it’s hard to go wrong with any book about a precocious child who can use the term, “corporate malfeasance,” as part of a discussion about her future.


We completed all of Crash Course‘s World History, and are now several episodes into World History II. To my daughter’s dismay, I’ve also been playing PBS’ Food Forward series on their web site.

My son keeps playing this TEDTalk, and insisting we dance together. I love watching him dance, and I love Isadora Duncan (mostly because my dance teacher compared my style of dancing to Ms Duncan’s).

For pleasure, we’re still enjoying Fairy Tail as a family, and though my son loves pretending he’s Sosuke from Ponyo (Ponyo is his first imaginary friend now), he insists we call him Natsu.


A quick guide for those new to making fresh rolls.It’s hot. We’re making fresh rolls and berry-yogurt smoothies a lot. I like fresh rolls because they’re easy to make, and I can put almost anything in them. The most recent ones had carrots, mint, cucumber, and avocado, and we dipped them into mild cashew sauce.

Berry Smoothies
2 c. frozen berry mix (ours: marionberry, blueberry, strawberry)
1 c. Original Almond Breeze or other milk substitute*
1c. Fage or similar plain, thick yogurt
3T. honey
1/2 t. grated ginger
1/2 c. chopped greens

Add wet ingredients first, then ginger and berries. Blend together. *Add extra milk or sub. juice as needed if your blender is old like mine. I’ve also used cold ginger tea in place of milk.

Cashew Sauce
1T. Thai chili paste (more or less to taste)
4T. creamy cashew butter
1 t. lime juice
1 t. fish sauce
1 t. agave syrup
4 oz. canned coconut milk
Olive oil

To be made after fresh rolls are prepped. Add oil to pan and heat on medium-low. Blend chili paste, lime juice, syrup (brings out the flavor of the lime), and fish sauce together in skillet until warm. Drop in cashew butter and mix well with other ingredients until a pasty liquid. Turn off heat, but leave pan on burner, and add the coconut milk. Mix well and serve warm for dipping.


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