Today we went to Sherwood Orchards in the morning and picked apples, pears, and Italian plums - nearly 100 pounds! We met two other families, so it was a nice group of us. It was a beautiful orchard, and I was wishing we had really gotten out there to pick cherries earlier in the summer. Next summer! There are six racks of apples on the fruit drier right now. We picked Gravenstein apples, which make great applesauce. I'll probably turn the bulk of those into applesauce and can it as soon as I get more quart-size canning jars. I might make one small batch of apple butter, but I'm probably the only one who would end up eating it. I'm not sure yet if I'll make pear-applesauce too, or just can the pears plain. For now, they'll hang out in the spare refrigerator. I also have a recipe for pear-ginger conserve, but every time I've made a jam that wasn't just straight-ahead strawberry, apricot, plum, etc., it's turned out to be nothing special. The plums I'll probably dry into prunes after setting aside a bunch for eating fresh. The plums are incredibly delicious. Anyway... we had lots of fun, and the fruit was very low on the branches so Eli and Amirah could pick their own fruit. Raizel loved all the fruit-tasting and Avi hung out happily in the Ergo. We all had a good time, and enjoyed a picnic lunch when we were done.
On the way there we had passed a sign for the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge. We'd never been there before, so we decided to stop. They have a beautiful new visitor center. We went inside and talked to two wonderful, enthusiastic volunteers who told us all about the animals and birds we might see and where the trails went and what the children might enjoy. They were so friendly. So we did a 2-mile round-trip walk and oohed and ahhed practically the whole time. We saw a truly astonishing variety of insects, habitats, and birds. When we reached the Tualatin River we looked around some more, then doubled back. We got home at 4:00, tired and dirty, but what a great time we had!
Then I quickly improvised dinner and it turned out great - ground buffalo sauteed with onions and mushrooms, then mixed with brown rice and barbecue sauce. It was YUMMY. Dessert was the pears I got on Sauvie Island last weekend. Ah, summer.
Tomorrow we're going to focus on our regular school stuff, with hopefully time leftover for a trip to a nice cool wading pool or fountain. I love the flexibility that comes with our independent learning, especially since I more or less want to do it year round. I don't stress out when the kids get fussy and learning doesn't seem to want to happen. We can pack it all in and walk around the block. Eventually, we should get done in a month what we need to get done in a month.
In other news, Avi can now climb the stairs! We put up the baby gate at the bottom, which presents new challenges with having to pitch The Middles (Eli and Raizel) over the gate coming and going. Not sure how to make that easier... I'm pretty sure Avi also said his second (third?) word - "NO!" :) How rich all this is.