Saturday, December 31, 2011

Around the homestead

The holidays are nearly over now! The boys went back to Memphis to be with their grandparents for Christmas, and returned home where we missed them dearly! Even ZB gets out-of-sorts without her brothers at home for so long!

In our great tradition of not having a tradition :-D The boys were welcomed back home with a treasure hunt of sorts leading to a few presents (keep me up too late at night and the rhymes and riddles I come up with as clues are pretty hilarious!) We don't like to associate the birth of Christ with presents and at the same time, there's a huge social pressure for the kids to be getting gifts this time of year. I'm sure it's that way for people even celebrating alternate holidays than Christmas. So we just did a few presents for the boys on days of our choosing, and they are entirely happy with that!

One of the much-loved presents was a new camcorder - the boys had friends over today and have so far spent about 3 hours outside filming mock-fight scenes.

The gardens are getting cleaned up and ready for Spring planting! I did get two beds filled with garlic - a regular California white, a beautiful purple striped one, and Elephant garlic with the huge bulbs. We can't harvest until the beginning of Summer, but it's fun to watch their shoots come up now!

B is also working on building a duck enclosure & chicken coop. They'll be able to live together, and we'll be getting ducks that don't *need* water (though they like to swim every so often), so their needs should be well met here! B is going to build it behind the glass blowing studio... I'm excited to finally see it start to be here! This will hold about a dozen birds.

And finally little ZB is 9 months old! I can't believe she's so close to a year it seems like. I'm trying to give and get as many snuggles as possible, since I know babyhood will soon be gone! She isn't walking yet, though she's just on the cusp! She crawls crazy fast and does all sorts of cute things like shaking her head, clapping, doing a few basic signs, and even rocking on her rocking snail :)

Love to you all - hope you are staying warm this Winter, and I'll try to start posting more often again!


Hello friends! It's been quite a long time since I've updated, and after a call from B's mom (hi!) with a gentle reminder about it, I decided to give an update! Here's a brief timeline since I last wrote. I made a blog post when the boys were either at their grandparents or just about to go there (this is to Memphis, TN) for their great-grandmother's funeral. Since the funeral was so close to Thanksgiving, they decided to just stay with that side of the family for the holiday. ZB and I went to a potluck at a friend's house on Thanksgiving afternoon. When we got home, my email started getting flooded with updates on a dear friend of mine, Karen who went in to liver failure after having battled breast cancer for only 8 months. She had 2 daughters, the same ages as my boys and we've been friends with them in the homeschooling community for about 4 or 5 years.

On Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Karen passed away surrounded by her family.

Her siblings soon set up a website with beautiful photos and info about Karen:

The homeschooling community here doesn't take the loss of a parent lightly, especially since Karen was so active in our community, and her and her daughters were very special to so many of us! We quickly started organizing, and developed a core group of about 7 moms that pulled in amazing resources and put together an auction and benefit night only 3 weeks later!

Leading up to Dec. 20, my life became nearly consumed with putting together this auction - as was the case for all of the women planning it. Preparing for the holidays, homeschooling our kids and continuing my regular work-from-home job is consuming enough, but throw a huge benefit auction on top of it... whew! Hence, blog writing was not a priority.

The event was amazing! A downtown church donated space, local vendors donated beer, wine and food, a caterer donated her time to set up and prepare all the foods, an auctioneer donated his time, and the amount of donated items for the auction was incredible! In fact, we put 100 items in a silent auction, and the other 100 were supposed to go in a live auction, but we didn't even have time to auction off everything in the live auction! We had a great turn out and even went over our monetary goal, raising over $11,000 in only 3 hours! The remainder of auction items are listed for sale on a website that was set up to promote the auction. Our group had two newspaper articles written about our efforts and a TV news spot to promote the unsold items. All of this money is being put into a trust fund for Karen's daughters. We are so pleased with the outcome, and honestly I'm glad it's over - it was wonderful and exhausting at the same time!

The website is:

I will post some photos of around the homestead in a minute, I just wanted to explain my absence first :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Big Kids

I can't believe how fast these kids are growing up! It's a weird mix of sad and happy at the same time for mama. Clay decided he wanted his hair cut! yikes! He said he was tired of being called a girl, and though it doesn't happen much in our hippie-bubble-town, it does happen a LOT when he goes out of town, which is happening this week. Here's some before and afters:

That last one looks SO much like a glimpse into teenage years! Holding on to the last of these "kid" years! The boys went to Memphis this week to be with their Dad's family, since their great-grandmother passed away after dealing with dementia for too many years. I'm sending peace to them through this difficult time of adjustments.

Here at home, Blossom had some ADORABLE photos taken by a local (amazing) photographer. Here is a link to the sample photos that were posted on the photographer's blog:

Go check them out, and if you're in the area and need photos done, don't hesitate to contact Lenka!

Blossom is also at a sweet age of entering toddler-hood. She's crawling like a champ and trying to stand by herself. And what perfect timing to find this at the thrift (for $2!), since we're getting rid of the big baby toy stuff - and she LOVES it!

Stay warm this chilly week - I probably won't be posting much since the boys are out of town, it means I have a lot of projects that need attention!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fall Catch Up

It's been a while since I've checked in here! Our Fall has become super busy, and my camera has mostly not been tagging along. Halloween was fun in a friends neighborhood - C was a hobo and R was conjoined twins with one of his best buddies, each walking in the leg of a pair of size 58 shorts :)

B harvested a mass amount of peppers before the first big freeze - now our fridge is filled with pickled peppers and the freezer has chopped peppers! I planted 2 beds of garlic (each 4'x8'). I just plant the garlic from the grocery - there are 3 kinds this year, including 2 rows of elephant garlic.. now we just wait for them to sprout!
Time to harvest seeds from all the beautiful sunflowers we had this year...

Our neighbors came over this weekend, and we are getting to soak up these last warm days with plenty of friends...

Good tunes...
And sweet family...

Be well! Love, Julie

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall LEAF'in

BRRRR!!! I now remember why we stopped camping at the Fall LEAF. It's COLD! At least I remembered to bring enough warm clothes... we also snuggled under down comforters, so it wasn't too miserable...
And ZB in all those layers looked pretty darn cute!
Tents covered in frost, in the morning...
With nights like those, we were happy to crowd around the fire in the morning with the other campers in our group. Could we *be* any closer to the fire??

I didn't sleep well at all the first night, the rest of the family slept fine; I just kept worrying someone would wake up too cold! So, we actually slept at home on the second night and returned Sunday warm and rested :)

The line-up this Fall was great! Usually LEAF draws lots of great bands and entertainers from all over the world, and usually I have only heard of one, maybe 2 of them. This year, I actually did know quite a few of the bands! We were excited to see and hear The Mighty Diamonds, Galactic, Toubab Krewe, 7 Walkers, Leo Kottke and Sweet Honey In The Rock!!

Here's a pic of Leo Kottke performing - he's such a great entertainer, I love that dry humor and story-telling intro to his songs

Sweet Honey in the Rock was also amazing!! I've never seen them live, and we LOVED them! They played very last on Sunday - what a great performance to leave for home with :)
The wonderful thing about LEAF is that it isn't just about the bands! For kids, there's a huge Kid's Village and plenty of room to run. For the whole family, there's classes going on all day, impromtu performances, a parade, a dance hall and so much more... can you tell I LOVE this festival?
On Saturday, I went to a hula-hooping class led by the Asheville Hoops... pretty fun! And ZB had a good time crawling around until she wore herself right out and slept under the hoopers...

At one point on Sunday, music started randomly blaring, and these teenagers did a coreo-graphed dance right in the pathway...

I could go on and on, but you've really got to check this festival out in person, if you are in the area. It happens every Spring and Fall (though I think I'll stick to day passes in the Fall from now on, and keep camping to the warm Spring!) Their website is

See you there!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Birthday Sweets

Thanks for all the sweet birthday wishes from everyone! In the midst of our whole house sharing a cold with each other - they were very sweet to me (and slightly snotty -heehee ;) B got me a wagon - not just any wagon - a HUGE, garden wagon - it's awesome! I'm excited to take it to LEAF this weekend, have it for trick-0r-treating, have it for vending water at concerts and just having it around the yard... and the kids *love* it, too!

The day was pretty busy with Homeschool Co-op in the morning, and the boys met with their OM (Odyssey of the Mind) teams in the afternoon.

And my little sweetness serenaded us over dinner with her new found ability to make zerberts (I think that's from the cosby show, but we've always called them that, I don't know what else they're called!)... so cute!

We were also visited by Senor Duct Tape...
After dinner, ZB and I went to a La Leche League meeting to meet some other mamas & little babies. Then we met some of my lovely girl friends at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (chocolate torte in berry sauce accompanied by a local beer - yum!!). Thanks everyone for the good wishes and love!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Family

What a fun weekend! We had Bobby's sister and her sweet family in town this weekend, and we all got to be tourists in our own town, which is always fun. Not only did we go around town on LaZoom's big purple tour bus, we also walked all over downtown and through 3 different festivals (and a protest - gotta love Asheville!), had a s'mores roasting firepit going in the yard and went for a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The BRP is in Full Leaf-viewing season, right now. It was very overcast, and the original hike we wanted to do has lots of balds for good views, but it happened to be surrounded by clouds, so we went to lower elevation...
The kids were grinning and literally running around in the parking area - here's ZB with her cousin...
We stopped for a mini-picnic on the trail (I think Blossom ate mostly leaves!)
And checked out a beautiful waterfall (wishing is was warm enough to use the swimming hole at the bottom).

The kids climbed some trees...
And jumped the rocks in the creek...
Then we headed back up the mountain trail to the car, where the kids promptly collapsed while the adults caught their breath!
I was not good about taking photos this weekend! Glad I at least remembered the photos for the hike!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


One day, I'll have other things to post, but seriously the most fun parts of our days right now center around baby! The boys had some friends over and when ZB crawled right into their room, they had the best time playing with her!

Thanks to Reed for getting a video :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

6 Months!

Woo-hoo! We have a 6 month old in the house - Boy, that went quickly!

The girl is so strong, and still working on the coordination. She has quickly learned to crawl - she can make it across a room now before getting tired out. She's doing pretty good with eating foods, though she's not terribly excited about the idea yet. Today she tried plain, whole-milk yogurt for the first time - you wouldn't guess by the amount on her face and bib (and hands and floor and table...), but she actually did eat quite a bit.

We found a fun score at the thrift store today - a big, sturdy Step 2 slide! The boys are okay with keeping it in use while we wait for ZB to grow big enough for it...

And a little humor for you today - I thought I'd try to some new things from the grocery today - so I bought this Central American cheese... looks kinda neat, right? I even read the label and everything to make sure no funky ingredients were in it...
Unfortunately, I didn't read *all* of the label, and we soon found out our tropical cheese is from the far away paradise of... New Jersey. haha! Perhaps I should read the whole label next time!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

ZB Buddies

Miss ZB is one of the most popular babies I've met... she attends monthly baby get-togethers - okay, really just an excuse for the parents of the babies to have a drink together and discuss the woes of sleep-deprivation and triumphs of baby milestones! Here she is at her last get-together, being tackled by her buddy... of course i probably should have been helping her out, but she seemed rather content, and let me take photos :)

When we go to homeschool co-op, she's nearly immediately handed off into expectant arms of sweet mamas and children...
And she LOVES the attention! She's doing great in the nursery for a couple hours in the morning without me. During one of the hours, the Duct Tape class is next door to the nursery, and all the boys in that class wanted to make Blossom a hat - they even all went in and presented it to her - so sweet! And cute!
So here's a big virtual hug from ZB to all her buddies out there!! ((hugs))

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can You Stand Anymore Cute Baby Photos?

This baby never stops the onslaught of adorableness, and is so easy to take photos of!

ZB is 5-1/2 months old now. She is super strong and can (slowly) crawl! She's only been doing it a few days, and I think she'll get quick pretty soon. My boys didn't crawl until 8 and 9 months old, so this seems so young to me. Just today, she also figured out how to sit up on her own... big stuff!

Patient, patient Bear:

One of the cuter photos of taken in a while (crawling around the porch) :

A good shot of all the youngins!

Dinner Time! Freshly harvested (by a friend) Chicken-Of-The-Wood wild mushrooms (SO good!)
Served the mushroom and garden veggie casserole with potatoes from the garden and pasta... on my new stove! woo-hoo! I didn't want anything fancy, I did want something that wouldn't spontaneously catch fire (yup, that wasn't fun).
And as long as I have the camera out while making dinner, I may as well photograph what's going on under-foot...
The day is coming to an end now, and we thought ZB might like to try some food! We thought all was going well... some was swallowed, a lot was on the face...

And right after I took this photo, she vomited it all up... oh well, maybe the food can wait a bit longer!

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