Like a Kid Again

13-16 GuesthouseSnow1 IcicleCurves SnowRoofGlacier

We’ve come out the other end of our first week of real Midwest snow, and I am in love.  Throughout the snowy week, I kept meaning to sit down and blog, but the winter white was too compelling. Instead we all tromped about in the drifts, built a snow fort, threw snowballs, slid down a snow slide, built snow people, and cross country skied down the street.

I felt like a kid again.

It’s been so many years since I’ve lived in a snowy climate, but I grew up in Massachusetts and went to college in Maine.  Snow was a part of my life!  And while I adored the sun of my time in Southern California, and the lush green of Oregon, there is just something about these four distinct seasons that makes me so very happy and alive.

Granted, a foot of snow makes it incredibly hard to access our land via a quarter mile long gravel driveway, never mind build our summer cottage, and that might get pretty frustrating pretty soon.  But the joy on the kids’ faces when I hand them another icicle to eat, or let them nail me with a snowball is all worth it!  Hurray for snow!

What She Sees

The past week or two, Ella has been thrilled by our camera.  She carefully places the strap around her neck, and sets off on picture-taking adventures.  She climbs up on a chair, creeps down low, quietly snapping shots.  474 photos later, she’s captured a piece of her world, and it is so fascinating to see what images she’s created. Here are some of my favorites:

Ella1 Ella2 Ella3 Ella4 Ella5 Ella6 Ella7 Ella8

I could learn a thing or two from her, my little photographer!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Late Winter Waldorf Circle Songs

One of my favorite times of the week is Friday morning, when our little Waldorf homeschooling cooperative gathers together.  Six parents and eight children crowd in a tiny living room to share songs, stories, snacks, and crafts.  Our older children are 4-5 years old, and a few of us also have 2-3 year old children in tow.  So, we’re in essence creating a mixed ages kindergarten.  It works remarkably well.  The younger kids follow right along with their older siblings, with occasional breaks for cuddling or nursing.

Each parent is responsible for a portion of the morning’s activities, and I am generally the leader of the circle time, which consists of a few verses, some fingerplays, and lots of singing. (Of course!  So perfect for my Musical Theater-loving self!)  I try to create about 20 minutes of circle activities, balancing some new material with old favorites that the kids know by heart.

I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite songs (and movement suggestions) here on the blog.  I’d love to hear some of your favorite seasonal songs for children!

Late Winter Circle Songs:

The North Wind Doth Blow (Traditional)
The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow,  (swing body, arms wave side to side rhythmically)
And what will the robin do then, poor thing?  (bird hands)
He’ll sit in the barn, to keep himself warm,  (sit down, fluffing wings out)
And hide his head under his wing. Ah! (hide head under arm, open both arms on AH!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the dormouse do then, poor thing?  (little mouse hands near mouth)
Rolled up like a ball, in a nest snug and small,  (curl up into a ball and sleep)
She’ll sleep ‘til the warm weather comes.  Ah! (jump up, arms up on Ah)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the squirrel do then, poor thing?  (hold a nut)
She’ll climb up a tree, and look out to see,  (pretend to climb, look out)
And nibble on all of her food. Ah!  (eat food, arms up on Ah!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the raccoon do then, poor thing? (mask)
He’ll waddle around, leaving prints on the ground,  (waddle around yourself)
And find a warm burrow to sleep. Ah!   (curl into a “burrow”, jump up on Ah!)

The north wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, (swing body, arms wave side to side)
And what will the rabbit do then, poor thing?  (ears)
She’ll jump and she’ll hop, she won’t want to stop,  (hop around)
‘cause that’s how she’ll keep herself warm.  Ah!


Gnome Series (adapted from Wynstones)
(sing) Listen closely to the sound!  (put ear to the ground and listen)
Listen closely to the sound!

(Chant rhythmically) Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

 Is it the squirrel scampering so? (holding a nut)
Collecting acorns to and fro?  (scampering movement to left and right)
No! It’s not the squirrel!  (wave finger)

Then…Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

Is it the giant so big and bold?  (arms up like showing off big muscles)
Stomping around in the winter cold.  (stomping)
NO! It’s not the giant so big and bold!  (wave finger)

Then….Who is this I hear? (stomp rhythmically, swinging arms)
Deep down in the ground?
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones? (cross alternate arms half time)

Listen closely to the sound! (put ear to ground again)
Listen closely to the sound!

Behold the dwarfs inside the hill–
Their tiny hammers are never still.
They sing and work deep underground,
And as they tap the rocks resound:

Crack, crack, the rock we hack (begin to pat ground)
Quake, quake, the mountains shake (get a bit louder)
Bang, bang our hammers clang (louder still!)
In caverns old, we search for gold!


Chickadee (May Morgan/German Folk Song)
Trees are bare, everywhere  (arms in a V)
Snow is deep and skies are grey.  (circle arms over the “field of snow”)
Yet one bird can be heard on the coldest day.  (bird hands)
Listen close and he’ll reply, (hand to your ear)
Cocking up a rogueish eye:  (put fingers up to eye like you’re lifting eyebrow)
Chickadee!  Chickadee!  Chick –a-dee-dee-dee!  (bird hands fluttering away)



Snow geese have been passing overhead each day, huge flocks heading west.  Today, I saw my first robin on a tree branch outside the kitchen window.  Friends are tapping black walnut trees for their sap.  Spring draws closer yet!

I, for one, have been preparing my seed orders and dreaming and scheming about this year’s garden space (which technically doesn’t yet exist, but hey, a girl’s got to dream!)  The spring garden will be planted here at the house where we’ve been staying, and I’ll work on prepping some sheet mulched beds on the land for our summer crops.

While I already have a more than ample supply of seeds  – which, by the way, I keep in an under-the-bed style Rubbermaid container.  They are the perfect shape and size and mouse-proof too! – I cannot resist adding new varieties each year.  This year, I ecstatically flipped to the melon pages and ordered several varieties of melons.  Hurray for a hot summer climate!  My old standby seed company is High Mowing Seeds, which produces super high quality organic seeds.  This year I also placed a large order with a Missouri company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I love their commitment to open-pollinated and non-GMO seeds.

Here’s my seed order, for your enjoyment (and my record-keeping!)

High Mowing Seeds

Kaitlin Cabbage

Goodman Cauliflower

Guardsman Chioggia Beet

Rose de Berne Tomato

Pruden’s Purple Tomato

California Wonder Pepper

Champion Collards

NuMex Joe E. Parker Pepper (Anaheim)

High Mowing Mesclun Mix

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Parisienne Carrot

Detroit Dark Red Beet

Golden Beet

Oeschenberg Amaranth

Jimmy Nardello Italian Pepper

Illinois Beauty Tomato

Boule d’Or Melon

Piel de Sapo Melon

Charentais Melon

Golden Midget Watermelon

Red Kuri Squash

Long Island Cheese Squash

Chiriman Squash

Giant Red Re-Selection Celery

Perfection Drumhead Savoy Cabbage

Blue Curled Scotch Kale


Brocade Mix Marigold

Persian Carpet Zinnia

Bright Lights Cosmos

Unwin’s Mix Dahlia

Tina James’s Magic Primrose

I’d love to hear, in the comments below,
what are you planning for your garden this year? 

*this blog post shared on The Prairie Homestead’s Barn Hop

Breaking Ground

Hello!  Thank you all for the kind words of support after my grandmother’s passing. I was able to spend the weekend with my extended family on the East coast to celebrate her life, and especially to remember her legacy of four children and over 30 grand and great-grandchildren!

Upon our return we hit the ground running with the myriad building details for the “Summer Shanty” (or as a friend suggested, the Summer Cottage – sounds so New England!).  The Shanty will be a 20 x 20 foot uninsulated wooden structure.  Half the structure will be enclosed and screened for a sleeping and living space.  The other half will remain open-sided and will function as an outdoor kitchen, storage and living space. (And when I say outdoor kitchen, I mean a very different thing than what the Sunset or Martha Stewart books mean when they talk about an Outdoor Kitchen!  Imagine a wood-fired cookstove, rather than stainless steel!)

We had already spent some time removing trees, brush, and poison ivy from the Shanty site, and with a little help from a generous neighbor with a tractor, we were able to break ground!  Nine post holes will contain 5 x 5 inch white oak posts, milled by the local Amish mill.  And these posts will hold up the structure, or at least that’s how I understand it!  To say that I am not the builder in our family would be an understatement!

Hole1 Hole2Woodpile1

The woodpile grows!  Ev and I are sitting on the white oak posts, Ella is resting on the red oak beams and floor joists. Next step is to put these posts into the ground!


Photos don’t quite do the Shanty site justice, but it’s to the left of where I am standing in the photo above.  The living space will extend into the forest a bit, and the outdoor kitchen space will nestle into the northern treeline.

While letting my mind wander yesterday, I was suddenly struck with a feeling of pure joy.  Here we are, doing what we’ve dreamed about for so many years: building our own home (shanty) on our own land.  We have so far to go, but it feels so exciting to be working hard to make this dream a reality.