October Opportunities

WB-WhatWereDoing20151020This past Saturday, we visited Oxbow Farm, another local resource providing our preferred grocery store with fresh produce.  There, we explored a kids’ garden utilizing permaculture methods, including three sisters planting (corn, beans, and squash), a gourd tunnel, a squash dome, and companion planting of all kinds.  They’d built a house of hay for little ones to climb, provided food my daughter enjoyed courtesy of Tillamook dairy, and sold pumpkins, live plants, seeds, treats, and had a flower crown making station and another area for decorating tiny pumpkins.

We took part in everything we could, given our late arrival (we didn’t get a chance to launch pumpkins on their catapult), and spent almost three hours having fun.  Have you visited a local farm yet during this festive time?



Despite a minor setback with a missed lesson courtesy of a stomach virus, I’ve managed to progress well enough in my piano practice that I can now play five songs with both hands, do scales, arpeggios, inverted chords, and more.  My instructor encourages me to play around and gives me a few basic forms to try when doing so, as well as keeping me away from reading music (for now) and away from the drills I was accustomed to as a child.  If ever there was a teacher who could engage any student, it’s mine.

As for my attempts at educating my children, I’m pleased to say that Daughter is starting to appreciate note-taking for the first time in her life.  She’s beginning to see its value and how it makes reconnecting with the information she’s reading and helps her process.  She spent a good twenty minutes explaining to me why she believes the author’s opinions in her WWI text are incorrect with regard to why the war started.  She said, “He says he thinks the war could have been avoided if the assassination of this royal hadn’t taken place, but the way he presents it, it sounds like it was unavoidable. Even if this one death hadn’t triggered it, I think some of these people wanted to start a war, and they were looking for any excuse.  If it hadn’t happened when it did, it would have happened soon after.”

Meanwhile, my son is speaking in more complex sentences — and paragraphs — and has quite a bit to say, apparently.  About everything.  Sometimes we can’t help but laugh, though he doesn’t intend to be funny, and sometimes when he laughs he looks confused, but so long as we respond to what he’s said, he’s able to gloss over it.  He still loves mimicking us, and what either my partner or I say end up becoming hard and fast rules in his mind, which he’ll later argue if anyone contradicts them, so I’m working on being careful what I say and how I say them to avoid potentially contradicting myself later.



A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle, illustrated by Hope Larson

Can I share an embarrassing part of myself?  As a kid, I never really read A Wrinkle in Time.  In elementary school, it was assigned reading, and I suppose I must have skimmed it, though I don’t think I finished it.  We even went to see a play based on it, and I was completely confused by it, and spent more time engaging with my friend (quietly) rather than trying to follow the play.  Even as an adult, I’ve felt that childhood aversion, but couldn’t say why.  I sat down and listened to the first several chapters of the audiobook as read by the author (I had a hard time finding it online; this is the best source so far), and it’s a beautiful way of experiencing it, but I didn’t actually engage with the story fully until the other night.

I’d run across the graphic novel version at the library and read through it in a couple of hours.  Now I understand why it was confusing to me, and why it might seem intimidating to young people who haven’t grown up in a house where mathematics and physics are discussed at length.  I may have been good at maths all my life, but I didn’t have much of a concept of physics or the reasoning behind the formulae I’d been trained to use in those early years.  Though it’s a children’s book, it seemed far more accessible as an adult who understands the concepts being set forth, and has a decent grasp on many of the languages being spoken by Mrs. Who.  I wish I’d been able to appreciate this story as a child, because I think it might have altered my early approach to home education.  So, whether you’re reading this for the first time, or haven’t read it since you were a child, check out A Wrinkle in Time in any version you find most accessible, because you might discover things that went beyond your understanding as a child.  I know it’s going to change my approach to working with both of my children from hear on out.

Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Also from the library, we checked out Cookie’s Week for my son, and despite a pile of books to choose from every night, he keeps asking for this one.  While subtly teaching the days of the week, it documents how the innocent play of a black and white cat lead to little disasters each day.



We haven’t been watching much outside of our usual shows, so we’d like to share something we listened to this week. When I came down the stairs to my piano teacher’s studio, she was playing Couperin’s “Tic-Toc-Choc or Les Mallitons.”  She’d just heard it on the radio a few days before and she decided to learn it.  She sounded like she’d mastered it years ago to hear her play it, but what can I say? She’s a brilliant musician, and being blind, she had to have learned it from ear.

While we haven’t watched it yet, we received a recommendation for our history instruction.  There was a BBC show that came out several years back called Horrible Histories based on the book series by the same name.  It is now available on Hulu, for sale at Amazon, and has a few episodes up on YouTube and possibly in other places, should you wish to see if they’re right for your family.  As it was explained to me, these shows don’t shy away from the horrors of history, but instead, bring a lot of the ugliness to light, but in an entertaining way.  This approach sounds a little like the BBC’s Connections, which we highly endorse for learning about history, culture, technology, science, and the interconnectedness of it all.



With the weather turning colder, though we’re still having more sunny days than rainy ones (I thought we lived in the PNW!), we’ve started having more harvest meals and heartier meals.  It was raining and gloomy the other night, a perfect time to have something warm and comforting.  So, I made lamb goulash and buttered gf noodles.

Lamb Goulash

1.5 lb. of lamb stew meat
4 large carrots
1 lb. potatoes
2 bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow)
1 leek, diced
4 mushrooms (whatever sturdy mushroom you prefer, have available, or is in season)
6 garlic cloves
1 can of tomato paste
1/3 c. red wine
1/2 c. sour cream
caraway seeds

In a large skillet or stew pot, brown the stew meat on all sides.  Dice leeks, mushrooms (we used chanterelles) and peppers, add to meat to sauté.  Chop carrots and potatoes into large chunks, adding them to the pot.  Mix in the tomato paste and twice as much water, season, and add in wine.  Stir well, set to medium high until just beginning to boil, then simmer on low, covered, for about an hour.  When vegetables and meat are tender, remove from heat and add sour cream in while stirring.

Serve with bread or over buttered noodles.


Disclaimer: The recommendations made in this blog are the sole opinions of Raven J. Demers (a.k.a. Never’s Remedy), the author, and do not stem from corporate endorsements of any kind. This blog is not supported by advertisements or corporate sponsors (technically, it’s not supported at all), but I am an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made from Amazon links from this blog will go to support Willow & Birch. However, the choice to promote a book, video, or other resource are at my sole discretion and come from my daily experiences, usually from visiting the library or because a friend or other homeschooling parent suggested its worth. Amazon doesn’t tell me what to do, except when asking for my password to log in.  Promise.

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