happy haunting. and harvesting.

we spent much of our halloween day out with friends at a small, organic u-pick csa farm in marin. just imagine--a sweet, 1-acre farm in a regular neighborhood, completely tucked away and unexpected. run largely by a very nice, and very generous 87 year old man and his 84 year old wife. a u-pick farm that works on the honor system--pick your produce, weigh your produce, leave your money in the cash box.


we weren't really there to do too much harvesting, as the farm is mostly in transition from summer to fall. tomatoes are rotting on the vine, while winter veggies are just getting going. we were mostly there to celebrate autumn, let the kids run wild, and meet the farmer jerry, the man behind the place.

of course, we had to feed the chickens...

play a bit in the squash pile...

and do a good bit of serious searching for things to take home.
there was good old fashioned farm fun (real lizzards are always a treat--especially to little witches playing tricks)...
we got good & dirty, like all good farmers should...

and channeled our inner raccoons by crawling around on all fours as much as possible. ahh, dirt is so good. hope your halloween was not too tricky!


a pretty lil' pumpkin...

isn't she sweet? pumpkin decorating, farmers market style! we hit up our favorite market this morning with friends, and were able to squeeze ourselves into the kiddie crafting booth amongst lots of school-aged kids (more field trips to the market!). vendors had donated all kinds of fruits and veggies, and each child was able to pick a small pumpkin and decorate it. lucy was up to the task, hudson was pleased as punch to crawl around on the ground, searching out dropped food.

alright, as you can probably tell, i helped lucy LOTS with this craft since we were short on time and the booth was crowded. hudson was making a break for it while lucy was still trying her darndest to push the first toothpick into her pumpkin--that part proved pretty difficult for a 2.5 year old. she was, however, into the creative part, and insisted that her pumpkin needed a tail (a radish and a long lettuce leaf).

too fun. and so easy to just keep a few fruit & veggie pieces on hand for a quick decorating session here and there, don't you think?


home again, home again...

well, we've actually been home again for a few days, but the weather has been so winterlike there's been a whole lot of nothing going on. which includes wading through photos. nine o' clock bedtimes are surprisingly refreshing... and addicting!

the same terms can be used to describe our short getaway to the lagunitas redwoods last week. such a short drive from home--a mere 45 minutes--but really a world away. we were surrounded by ancient, hollowed out trees, tons of wildlife (20+ raccoons was actually too much wildlife for me, personally) and a lovely, sparkling clear creek that was the perfect depth for wading.

we went with my friend molly, who has children the exact same ages as lucy and hudson. automatic playmates! the kids were never bored and rarely squabbled--there was simply too much to do.

from crawling around in the dirt...

to gathering dirt...

to eating the dirt... dirt was the #1 toy of the trip. we hardly needed to pack anything else.

lucy kept herself busy gathering "fairy wood" for the evening fire. we hadn't brought enough wood to last the entire stay, but were luckily able to pillage empty sites for logs left behind by other campers instead of paying $7 a bundle. this girl was a true worker, hauling BIG logs up BIG hills! i couldn't believe it.

we spent lots of time hiking the paths around the campgrounds...
and sought out the sunshine wherever we could find it...

shade comes early when you're surrounded by trees!
from-scratch chicken noodle soup was a good "warm up" meal...

our last day lent a bit more sunshine (plus short visits from some very special daddies) and we were able to hop down to the creek for some wading and rock-collecting. empty beer bottles = good toy #2-perfect for holding all of those tiny stones.

we were (mostly) packed up before the rain rolled in. the "soggy six" pulled away from camp taylor with promises to come back often in the spring.

all in all, a fabulous trip. the kids were fantastic, we were pretty much warm and very well-fed despite brazen raccoons who opened our coolers and made off with a pound of bacon, a half pound of salami, and a half pound of turkey. in addition to a container of sweet potatoes, a jar of oats and other bits and pieces--an egg here, a snack bar there. i did not see them make off with any cash from my wallet but in truth, i would not have been surprised! we drank lots of tea and even got to enjoy a few glasses of wine while the kids slept soundly in the tents, no doubt plum tuckered out from all of that dirt. i was even able to sit 'round the fire with another special visitor (my brother--and king raccoon shoo'er) and listen to the giants win game #4 on a crank radio. perfection.

so much fun was had, and yet i will say this: it's always nice to come home from camping. especially from a cool-season trip. we got home and i herded the kids into the bath and we just--soaked ourselves back to reality. ahhh!


food for thought...

this recent post on the soulemama blog has me revisiting the idea of raising chickens to provide food--not only eggs, but meat as well. having just paid $22 for a 4.75 pound pastured chicken, i can tell you that while we eat good meat, we don't eat too much of it. that chicken will likely provide protein for 2 dinners and one small lunch, with the addition of the carcass which is now simmering away on the stove (yielding around 10-12 cups of broth for soup).

earlier in the year, we brought home 5 baby chicks. my original intent was to try our hand at chick-raising (we'd only ever bought "teenaged" chickens before that). if all went well, we would raise another batch of chicks specifically for food.

in all, i can only say it was a true learning experience. having lost 3 of the 5 babies to predators, we've come away with some insight on just how vulnerable an 8 or 10 week old chicken is, as compared to the rest of our flock, which runs around the yard daily without incident.

it's time to start thinking about getting another batch of birds. first and foremost, of course, i've got to learn how to properly cull and clean a chicken. thankfully i've got a friend of a friend who does this professionally and is willing to share his secrets when i'm ready. then comes the hard part, i guess. the darker side of "urban homesteading" that is met with gasps of disgust and the question of, "why would you possibly want to do that?"

i think the better question is "why would you want to buy a foster farms chicken from the grocery store," but i guess that's just where i am at this point in the journey. more to come as it all unfolds!

in much lighter news, we're off for a mini vacation--camping in the redwoods. having never done cool-season camping, i'm positive i've overpacked on blankets, sleepsacks, outerwear and the like. the kids will probably be sweating as though it were 110 degrees outside. ha. stay tuned for photos!


hudson is 11 months old!

seems like we took a trip to the beach around this very time last year. oh, that's right. we did. what a difference a year makes, hmmm???

anyway, hudson has just had his last monthly mini-birthday before turning 1. don't ask this mama where time goes. i have no idea and quite truthfully it makes me a bit sad. the days are long, but the years are short. so very, very true.

thankfully all i have to do is look at my BIG boy--trying to walk, babbling his little head off, chasing the cat, eating sand--and all is well. here are the photos:

new talents include:

~ taking steps! mama happened to miss it, but daddy and lucy both attest to FIVE steps taken last weekend
~ otherwise navigating the world via the "mowgli crawl." (see photo #3)
~ says "thank you" when handing something over. how polite!
~ practically convincing mama that five a.m. is a proper rising time
~ snuggling. the calendar might say otherwise, but he is still very much my baby (see final photos as proof!)
~ pointing out objects in books when asked
~ inching his way towards a first haircut
~ charming lucy daily. in her eyes, he's the best toy EVER.

gotta love him. cheers!


keeping busy...

having opted not to enroll lucy into her (parent-attended) preschool this session, i am, as of late, searching for ways to give her a bit of structured-yet-unstructured lesson time here at home. i stumbled across the idea of tray activities somewhere on the internet, loosely based on the montessori approach of having age-appropriate crafts and learning toys set out a the child's level to work with as they desire. i liked the idea of going beyond what's sitting in the toybox (the stuff that gets played with day in and day out) to "special" little activities that are a bit more engaging and conceptual.

our interpretation is a tray set out each morning for lucy to work with & explore. when she's done, the tray gets tided up and set back on the table, just in case she wants to come back to it later. she often does.

favorite activities so far have included water pouring, button art and digging for treasure (bottle caps!) in a bowl of flour. tools have included glass jars, bottles and bowls, items from the cooking drawer and one of my favorite china pitchers--in lucy's eyes this makes everything all the more interesting. it's all fun and games till something breaks, kid!

of course, i'm the mama with tons of ideas and a little one who wants to do the same three activities over and over. oh well. i guess that's part of being two--they learn through repetition, right?