Friday, April 16, 2010

Que Sarah, Sarah...

Here she is!  With the most gorgeous eyes!  and the sweetest smile!  Precious baby Sarah.  Welcome to the whole wide world of parenting, Pete and Karen!  : )   The real fun starts as soon as she becomes even remotely mobile.  You can add physical exhaustion to the mounting hours of sleep deprivation...but for what better cause, I say.  We are here for you whenever you need a babysitter.  ; )  The boys are just thrilled to have a baby girl in the family.  Silvio likes to rifle through his stored bins of old baby stuff to find fun things to hand down to his cousin Sarah.  ; )  I knew he loved her dearly when he gave up his little yellow windbreaker jacket that was favorite as a toddler.  Here is a photo of Sarah with the boys...minus Maceo and Whitney.  We need a complete cousin photo session asap!

Monday, April 12, 2010

You Are There: The Deadly Tomato

You Are There: The Deadly Tomato

You Are There: The Deadly Tomato (mp3 audio) - Believe it or not, in early colonial America, one of the most dreaded, most feared of all poisonous plants was -- the TOMATO! People grew it as an ornamental bush, but to think about actually EATING it was a horror! Certain that he would die a quick and painful death, a crowd assembled on the courthouse square in Salem, NJ on September 26th, 1820 to watch the rich and eccentric Colonel Johnson actually attempt to EAT one of these poisonous fruits! Hear what happened next in this delightful old time radio dramatization from the classic program "You Are There" of this fascinating true episode from American history.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Horse Riding Lessons

When Silvio started taking horse riding lessons again, Nevan decided he wanted to give it a whirl too. He has been a tremendous help to us in caring for the horse clan here when Justin is out of town. I guess he figured that since he was feeding them and caring for them, he may was well learn how to ride them and truly enjoy. So both boys are now taking lessons with a local instructor who Silvio claims is the "nicest instructor he has ever had". She gives both Western and English lessons...Silvio has decided to switch back to English and Nevan is carrying on with the Western tradition. Their cousin, Marlie, is taking lessons from the same instructor and the boys are lucky to have her Duncan baby on hand to ride. Thank you Ny! for referring us to Diana! Here is a photo of Nevan riding Duncan. I'll add photos of Silvio when I get a chance.

Silvio is super excited to participate in 4H Horse Camp this summer up in Utah with Grandma Johnson. He has been patiently waiting to be of age (9). His summer adventure with Grandma is finally here!! He enjoys all the extra horsey time he gets up at Grandma's. : ) So, let's see, the last time he was up there we got a phone call that he jumped a horse over the jump rails set up for Whitney, unexpectedly. At age 6. Or was it 7? He still talks about that to this day. I wonder what his story will be THIS summer.

Estrella Wars 2010

The SCA, Society for Creative Anachronism, hosts an event called Estrella Wars every year here in the Phoenix area. Well more like Florence, which is about 1 hour southeast of where we live. It is called Estrella Wars because it used to be located way out west close to Estrella Mountain. The name stuck. This was the first year that we have participated. The kids seemed too young to go in past years and honestly, I had no desire to participate in any WAR reenactments. goes against my grain. Needless to say, it was never one of those activities that we actively pursued. This year, the boys asked to go. I decided to go ahead and dive in and learn more about it. We went. And N and S had the most amazing time. they did not want to leave. We were there from 9 am til sundown. They want to camp out next year. Estrella Wars is not only about reenacting the battles of the Middle Ages, but also recreates the entirety of community living in that time period. Individuals/families/neighborhoods create encampments and stay for a week at most and live as historically accurate as possible. We were the outsiders when we went on our home education tour day. With our modern clothes, backpacks, and water bottles, we could easily be picked out of a crowd of tunic clad villagers, jesters, and jousters. It is quite a fascinating dip into history, where everyone around you is playing the part of a personally created, historically accurate individual. We had a chance to meet a Viking couple, a woman on spiritual pilgrimage, a falcon trainer, a crossbow merchant, a blacksmith and the boys handled daggers, swords, armor, bows and arrows. They also had a chance to sneak into the encampment, where the modern folk are not allowed to visit....lucky dogs they knew families camping out. : ) The boys have since been researching more about the Middle Ages on their own, developing possible personas so they can participate next year, and aiming to learn the art of black-smithing, sword making and jousting. S was all about the equestrian events. N desiring to know more archery.
We found out our local Barony is called Twin Moons and they meet at a local park weekly, offering a chance to get more involved.

I would love to delve further into the science and arts...sewing, herbalism, etc. We are trying to convince Justin this would be a good opportunity for him to explore his interest in making his own beer...the SCA has a Mead Making Contest, but not sure he is buying it.

We will post more as the family develops their personas and skills. : )

Justin's whirlwind tour of Europe

our spring garden...

We have finally planted! After 3 years of attempted container herb gardening, we have taken the next step. Justin has built 2 raised bed boxes so far. Our dilemma has been that we *have* to create raised beds due to our regular irrigation water coming through. We don't want our plants to drown. The plan is to have a few raised bed on the north west side of the house. We currently have with tomato plants (roma and beefsteak), zucchini, and pickling cucumbers; and the other with strawberries and carrots, so far. Our watermelon plants didn't make it. We created a burmed hill with artichoke plants and plan on planting more of those for high yield. ; ) We like artichokes! The boys are also desiring to plant more strawberries and have enough to share with others. They are saving all the little plastic containers that we get from the stores and building their stash. We also have Pineapple Sage...which smells divinely like pineapple! and Blackberry bushes. Those will be added to the front yard to make a natural hedgeline between the yard and the street. I thought it would be fragrant and fun for our neighbor kids walking to school to have a berry treat on their way, as they pass in front of our home. Once we get the hoses/watering situation in the front yard under control I would like to start building a retaining wall in the backyard to the west of the pool for a large melon patch. Watermelon and cantaloupe to start. We have an automatic watering system that attaches to the main spicket line and can water up to 4 different locations at once with a set timer to water. But....I can't seem to get it to work properly. So we are all still hand watering the garden areas. Once I get that up and running, we can run lines to both boxes, the melon patch, and a prospective root garden with beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Below are photos of our cucumbers and tomatoes.

Geography and World Cultures: World's Fair: Sicilia!


Nevan and Silvio (and Justin) decided to showcase Sicily for our 1st Annual World's Fair Event sponsored by our Geography co-op! We had a wonderful time creating our posters and handouts, which included a word find with Sicilian landmarks. The boys are so creative and full of ideas! They created one poster that depict Sicilian numbers, another poster that had word translations for easy to read words like dog, tree, brother, etc...and we made a trifold board with photos from our trip to Agrigento, Messina, info. about Tindari and the Black Madonna, as well as the Trinacria and the Sicilain Flag. Silvio was adamant that we were not allowed to include anything on our display board that we had not actually seen in person...only personal photos were allowed to go up on the board. I finally convinced him that it was OK to put a printed photo of the Sicilian flag if he found it too challenging to draw a Trinacria himself. But they did both draw their own Italian flag, olives, lemons, and tomatoes by hand. Both boys remembered our trip back in 2005 and chose to focus a great deal on the Greek ruins. They are currently reading a lot about Greek Mythology and were pleasantly surprised to find out that Sicily is actually one of the main geographical locations depicted in many of their favorite Greek Myths. Nevan is keen on studying Greece next!

Silvio had fun showing our friends how to play Scopa, his favorite Sicilian card game. : )

And of course, we had food!! Cannoli, olives, cheese, semolina bread with olive oil and garlic, lemons and Pellegrino. Everyone loved the food!

Other countries represented in the World's Fair included: Scotland, France, Denmark, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, and Italy. Looking forward to the next one!

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Field Trip to the Department of Public Safety

The kids had a fabulous time on our field trip to the DPS building downtown. Various departments within the DPS gave Gang Prevention Unit, Highway Safety Unit, Drug Prevention Unit, the Bomb Squad and the SWAT team, etc... the kids had a chance to *get arrested*, remote control drive a bomb squad robot, sit in patrol vehicles, climb up into a SWAT Tanker. I think their favorite was the Bomb Squad Robots. I really had to let go of some of my biases against guns/violence/force as I watched the boys completely take in all the weaponry displays, gadgets and gizmos that police use...they were fascinated and I was equally fascinated watching them being fascinated. It was quite an eventful and fun filled day!

Should I be proud? Or concerned? Silvio can get himself out of a set of handcuffs in seconds!

The Basement Band

Nevan and his friends decided one day that they would start a Basement Band....yet to be named. His musician friends also attend Eagleridge and participate in the school band there. There are 6 of them...Nevan on drums, Braden on keyboards, LJ on guitar, Dougie and Isaiah on bass, and Silvio decided he would be the manager. He's got it all under control...down to the lights and promos. We keep reminding him that they need a name first. They meet every other week in our basement...practicing a mix of classic rock and newer groups like Nickelback. It's amazing to see these kids lug all their equipment and amps and paraphrenalia up and down our stairs every time. That's dedication! Thanks Uncle Nick for letting us borrow Maceo's drum set! Nevan is looking forward to his drum lessons! He is also taking up electric guitar and starting guitar lessons again soon. He had first learned on an acoustic, but has been excited to learn on an electric. It's fun to hear music in the house again! Just hoping the neighbors are far enough away not to be bothered by the fun that never stops. I recently went to the Paul McCartney concert here in Phoenix and thought it would be great to start a concert poster collection for the boy's music room and so their very first concert poster is Paul. ; ) Somewhere I know I have an old Rush poster to add to their wall. I'll have to dig that up soon. Anyone out there have old concert posters you don't want or use anymore?? ; )

Saying goodbye to our Twister

Twister was with us for almost 3 years. Here he is with Uncle Vance, looking rather muddy and disheveled on the morning of his departure. We had rainstorms back to back without much opportunity to clean him up before his travel adventure. Twister was adopted from the racetrack for Whitney, less than one month after we moved into our Gilbert home. He was young and didn't want to race and lucky for him his owner decided to adopt him out rather than give him a hard time. He was beautiful! and spunky! After a couple of weeks, we received another call from the rescue org...and Monte joined our family as an emergency foster placement. Monte has since shifted from being an emergency foster placement to unofficially adopted. : ) Whitney began spending more time working with Monte, who seemd more compliant to training and Twister spent alot of time lounging in our pasture, without much riding time. We decided after careful consideration that he might be happier with more attention, as the only other rider in the family is Silvio and he is just too young and inexperienced to ride Twister. Twister needed a more advanced and experienced rider. Justin's mother found a family in Utah that was interested in adopting him, so Uncle Vance drove him up there, one cold and rainy morning. Nevan was up before the sun to help Uncle Vance prepare the trailer and gather Twister's belongings. It was quite a morning indeed, as Twister decided he didn't want to load that morning. He gave Nevan and Uncle Vance a run for their money that day. It was sad to see him go...but knowing in our hearts that it was the best thing for him. Wonder what he's doing now...