Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas this year.

We had a bittersweet Christmas this year. Christmas day was as magical as it could be. The girls awoke and were beyond excited, yelling "Happy Birthday Jesus!" And my heart melted. Christmas just snuck up and took me by surprise. Handmade gifts were dreamed about and not made. Presents were ordered and wrapped up at the last minute. Somehow, everything came together and the magic and wonder of Christmas found its way into our hearts.
And my little loves enjoyed every bit of it.
My brother came into town last week, and we all went for a hike with my parents. It was perfect weather, and very peaceful. A welcome trip outdoors in the midst of preparing for Christmas.
Looking at these pictures now several days later, I feel a bit of sadness, at how things were just a mere week and a half ago, and how different they are today. A week later, a new year. Some things reamain unchanged, the mountains, the valley, the rivers, the sunrise and the seasons, always familiar and beautiful. and Faithful.
We spent Christmas day at my Mom and Dad's with my brother and our still-skunky dog. We had more presents, more food, I defeated all at scrabble, and the kids ate so much sugar they bounced off the wall. In more than one way, I am glad Christmas only comes once a year. And now it is over.
Unfortunately a few days after Christmas, our beloved cat, Pascal died. It was the saddest thing that one day he was balled up in blankets in a doll bed, or being dragged across the floor by his tail by an overly affectionate baby and then he was gone. We think he ate a mouse that had eaten rat poison. He was an indoor cat bent on escaping, which he did on Christmas night. We miss him dearly.

Last night another dreadful thing happened. Kieran awoke shaking, and then his eyes rolled back in his head he stopped breathing for a moment... as my heart stopped beating for a moment. For a few moments I thought my baby would die. I prayed my heart out, while Nick dialed 911. The EMTs came and informed us that Kieran had had a Febrile Seizure. I have never expirienced anything like this as a parent and I was so afraid. Thankfully it isn't as huge of a deal as it looked like at 5am. It is moments like these that we realize how vulnerable we really are and how great a gift life really is. And in these moments, when life is lost or spared I feel the true meaning of Christmas, ribbons and paper aside, the gift of life in the most likely of places. A babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. So vulnerable. So alive. So perfect.

I hope you all had a moment to appreciate the greatest gift of all this Holiday season, the gift of life. Because it isn't something we are owed, and tomorrow is never a guarentee.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

"the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away...” Job 1:21

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Christmas for ME!!!

So can you guess what I worked, slaved, and saved up for?? Not a kitty...
Nor the cutest baby ever...
Not a tree with sparkly lights. Or the sweetie pie who didn't want to leave the tree at bedtime. I FINALLY purchased a new camera! A dslr, the Nikon d3100 and I am so happy with it! At first I felt a bit guilty dropping all that money on something for myself, but I think my only regret is that I DIDN't BUY ONE SOONER. I feel somehow, like I wish I had something so detailed to capture Anastasia's sweet baby feet, the wrinkles of Isabel's baby double chins, the tiny fingers of newborn Kieran. *sigh*
But Now I am ready for life, and all those moments that I want to see pictures of. I think it took about 1000 gnomes and 3 months of 3 am crafting to afford it. And I am so, so excited.
Funny though, how many accessories I suddenly have on my wish list, now that I used my (3 month) life savings to purchase something I really wanted. I am such a model consumer, don't you think? Anyway I guess I feel like Christmas morning came a couple of weeks early for me.
And look at our ballerina! I was so proud of her at her "friend and family" day for ballet! She was a little elf in "The Elves and the Shoemaker" and it was very sweet. She held that smile on her face the ENTIRE time. I was a ballet drop out myself, but ballet drives my little girl. And to see tiny ballerinas in their pink leotards and tutus are enough to melt even the most tom-boyish girls of us all. Especially when they parade around on their toes and giggle together. Be still my heart.
And afterwards I found that our local fast food joint, Spelunkers, sells candy cane milkshakes that are out of this world! It was a good, pink, ruffly, candycane evening indeed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The racoon story

Today my girls told a story together that went something like this:

Isabel: Once Uponsatime there was a girl who got sprayed by a racoon.

Anastasia chimed in: And she was really stinky and had to take a potato juice bath.

Isabel: And then the monster came and ate her and the racoon all up!


they melt me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy St. Nicholas Day to you!

Last night, 3 tiny pairs of shoes were placed by the hearth and the children went to bed without any trouble. And they awoke with jubilation at truffles and chocolate coins tucked into the wee corners of their shoes. I do love all the magic of Christmastime. Driving through streets of houses glowing with colored lights. Like little gingerbread cottages. I love how Christmas music jingles its way through shops decorated with garland and trees. I love Christmastime. :) And I love our dog:
I love her even though she decided to go skunk hunting at my parents house. Last week she killed a skunk that came into my parent's yard. Their whole yard stunk. And my whole dog stunk too. So Nick and I spent our Sunday afternoon bathing our dog and all that thick, fluffy, stinky fur. In some ways it was completely amusing. In other ways it was gross and stinky. Our poor dog had never seemed so happy about getting a bath. In fact, she HATES baths, but this time she knew too well, that she smelled HORRIBLE. Poor Leia.

So as much as I love Christmas, I don't like Christmas shopping. I enjoy picking things out, but I hate dropping cash on it. And of course my girls want the same things as last year, tinkerbelles, princesses and Barbies. I cringe at how hard I worked to keep natural, handmade and pleasant toys in our house to have it slowly taken over by girlie plastic bonanza. But it is all okay, I reason because they play with princesses and tinkerbell dolls more than anything else. Endlessly. And sometimes I imagine the $22 I could have spent on a waldorf-style dollhouse doll that would be played with less and the $5 I just spent on a plastic Ariel, and think of how many yards of fabric I could buy with the leftover $17. Or the book I have been wanting for months. The extra bill I can pay, or whatever else. That puts my mind at ease. I just try to keep the big things like doll houses and furniture wooden and natural. And this year I have been saving my money for something BIG. REALLY BIG (for me anyway) so even though in some ways I feel I am giving the kids a little less, or at least spending a lot less not ordering from my favorites, Magic Cabin and Nova, I feel that it isn't really all about what I want for my children, but what they want, love and are passionate about.

And I just peeked in on the girls to find them building castles with wooden blocks, for a mixture of princess dolls, playmobil, wooden animals, and some fairies I made, and I think that is the balance I hope to achieve. I don't know why I am rambling on about this, but I guess I just spent years on my high-horse wanting the best and the nicest for my children, and that horse just fell in love with a cheap little pony. Haha. I think maybe I obsess and care too much about my children's playthings but when I walk into Target and see the dolls with freaky eyes and wobbly heads and skimpy clothes, etc I cringe because I don't want toys to jeapordize the carefree innocence and beauty of childhood.

End ramble.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Remember Me?

Its been ages hasn't it? Since I have written in this little space of the world wide web. Between broken cameras and computer issues, parties and craft shows, pumpkins and turkeys and everyday life with 3 littles I have slacked in my blogging. But I am back just in time for my most favorite time of the year! Since my last post, so much has happened:
Isabel turned THREE!
We were so ready for the "terrible twos" to be over, and we have embarked on the next year of our life with our crazy, funny, sweet Isabel. She never ceases to amaze us with her very quick wit, her great sense of humor, her budding imagination and how busy, busy, busy she is.
We celebrated with the only-ever STINKBUG BIRTHDAY PARTY!
We had a great big stink bug jamboree per Isabel's request! We had a stinkbug cake, decorations and antennas for all! And Isabel was the biggest stinker of all!!
Aren't we the best stink-bug family EVER?
We hiked at Lost River State Park...
where not all who wander are lost.
We had our first snow of the year....
just before halloween.
It was Beautiful.
Isabel was a cat for Halloween. And I mighty cute one.
Anastasia was a beautiful fairy.
Of course.
Kieran was the cutest owl in the world.
And he and Isabel had a boat.
They were the owl and the pussycat...
who went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat.
Kieran turned one.
I can't believe he is one. One. He was only born a few months ago it seems.
He took his first step at 364 days old. Can you believe he has been around so long?
I can't.
I am starting to miss the peaceful, blissful infant he once was.
He hasn't taken many other steps. He is a pro-speed crawler.
I am okay with that.
He can stay my baby forever.
I did really well at a craft fair at the Washington Waldorf School.
I worked so hard.
And it was totally worth the effort.
And the next day my parents gave Kieran a nice party.
And I forgot to bring my camera.
Then we went to Indiana for Thanksgiving.
We went to Chicago and they lit up the zoo with magic.
It was very magical, beautiful and perfect.
We spent a couple of days in the windy city. The weather was perfect.
We visited Annie and Martin on our way out and it was GREAT.
We also enjoyed spending time with family.
We stuffed ourselves with turkey.
Then we stuffed ourselves with pizza.
And we stayed at hotel on our way back...
and Santa Claus happened to stay the night there too.
We met him at the contintental breakfast.
That was magical too.
I hope you are all having a beautiful, festive beginning of advent! I look forward to posting regularly again!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn Jumpers with Tutorial

Over the weekend I finished some fall jumpers for the girls. I found some cute corduroy at Joann's and had to make jumpers. I only had 1 1/4 yards, so I added a few other hues of corduroy.I am very happy with them overall, and may add some ric-rac to the bottom to seperate the two corduroys. It was very easy and while I began with using a pattern, I changed my mind and did my own thing.Here is a mini-tutorial in case you want to make your own. You will need about 3/4 yard of corduroy for a size 4T, 2 inches of thin elastic (I used child's hair ties), and buttons. And sorry about the irregular spacing in this post. I can't seem to fix it.1. First cut 8 Rectangles (sized 4t with a little room to spare):

2 Bodice + 2 bodice lining 13 1/2 inches for 5T Give/take 1/2 inch per size difference.

2 straps 10" long by 3 1/2 inches wide (adjust as needed)

2 skirt pieces totalling 20" (or desired length) x width of fabric (42") The bulk of my skirt was 14inches and the bottom was 6 inches. You could do the entire thing in one fabric and make one cut. Its totally up to you.

1. Add applique or trim to front bodice if you want.

2. Make straps. (I usually press the stap piece in half, and press the raw edges under and sew. Make sure one end is finished.)

3. Sew back and front bodice pieces together at one side seam. Do the same for linings.

4. Pin straps to back side of dress along the top edge (if you didn't add detail to the front, than either side can be the back). I pinned mine about 3 inches from the open side and the other 3inches from the seam side. Are you still with me? Make sure the raw edge is sticking out and sew lining to bodice along the top seam with right sides together.

5. Choose a side to be the button side and the other to be the elastic side:

6. I used hair ties cut into small pieces as elastic loops to hook around the buttons. Sew two in place along the side a half inch from top and 1 inch from the bottom. Sew other end of bodice right sides together.

7. Sew skirt top and bottom together (skip if you only have one skirt piece)

8. Sew skirt together at side seam leaving 3 inches open. finish the open edges by folding raw edge under 1/4 inch and sew it.

9. Gather skirt.

10. Pin evenly along the bodice.

11. Sew skirt to bodice.

12. Hem skirt.

13. Add button holes to front and add buttons to straps and side.

14. Put cute jumper on cute child and take 100 pictures of your handiwork!!! :) You are done.

Hope that helps someone, and makes sense! I should have taken more pictures! Sorry. Let me know if you have any questions and best of luck!

Fairy Rings and Other Whimsical things

This week has been busy, whimsical and quite rainy too. The rain seems to make mushrooms grow everywhere. A walk in the woods over the weekend treated our eyes to a rainbow of colorful mushrooms. I forgot to bring my camera. And sometimes things are more beautiful when you aren't trying to get that perfect shot. Anyhow, I had never seen a fairy ring before. I don't even thing I knew they existed. And since Saturday I have seen 3! They are so magical, a perfect circle of mushrooms. I wonder if I might step into one, if it would take me to fairyland before I get caught trespassing on someone's property. I wonder. I have been lacking in crafts, school, projects and other picture and blog worthy things. Instead, we have been baking and cleaning and folding mountains of clothes. But I am so inspired by other bloggers' brilliant ideas and creative endevors. Like this adorable woodland party from Love the Day: I am contimplating a woodland party for Kieran this year, but trying to keep it very simple AND still adorably cute and autumny. Can you believe the cookies? I wouldn't be able to eat them, they are SO CUTE. Party or not, I also love these owl pumpkins from Better Homes and Gardens: It looks like you could even maybe, just maybe do something similar with little children and a box of nuts and seeds and sticks and the tiny pumpkins. I would love a little flock of these on an old branch this Halloween.

And I can't get over this georgeous wool coat from Craftykin. Really, I just want to make one for each of my girls, my boy, and myself!!! I think it is probably what Little Red Riding hood wore every day of her life.

And this embroidery hoom mushroom decoration by Pillipilli Handmade on Etsy is SO CUTE. I have been meaning to hang more emboidered items on my wall in all the little spaces where we are lacking in the whimsy department. And have you seen the Greenwhich layette from BabyGap? I love every piece of it. I don't own it and may never buy it as Kieran has a nice handful of items for fall, but he would be sweet and adorable in any of these items. And it is always nice to see foresty sweet items for little boys. Seeing as he is already in 18-24months, next year we will be into the less sweet toddler sizes.

Fall is upon us, and I love the cozy woodland projects and inspiration that are blowing around the blogosphere. Now onto pizza crust and popcorn and maybe I can sneak into my sewing room during Kieran's second nap today...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Just to make you smile...

No explanation needed here. Only, take note of her self-inflicted mullet. Maybe I should
offer her hair-cutting services to some of our neighbors.

And Pasqual, our resident mouser seems to have killed a mouse. Or so you would think as he laid next to this fake one, looking all tired and proud from the chase.

And our little ballerina who loves to dance.

What a silly and beautiful life we live.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apples and Cinnamon Play dough

I haven't made play dough in a while. My kids weren't THAT into it last time, but to go along with fall, and apples, and cinnamon and pies, I made apple play dough and cinnamon play dough. I added rollers, pie pan, toothpicks, little butter knives and leaves to make apples: And everything stores nicely in a basket on the table ready for open-ended play. It was a HUGE hit. Almost as huge of a hit as washing dishes in the sink. But not quite.

I used the basic recipe from and divided the dry ingredients in half. For half I added about 2 tsps of cinnamon and then water to cook. For the other half I used steeped Celestial Seasonings Cranberry-apple tea in place of the water. I am unsure how well it will last, but I am storing them in jam jars with lids. I will let you know if it goes bad. I like the recipe overall because it is less greasy than others. My little mad scientist Isabel thought it would be fun to see what adding water would do to playdough while I was on the phone. It made slime. BUT I added a handful of flour and kneaded it in and it saved the day! Good as new aside from the colors being mixed together now. ha.

We had fun using toothpicks as Hedgehog quills, and they also make great candles for birthday cakes and pies. Sometimes its amazing what will work as playdough toys when you don't have a box of store-bought ones! Let the fall smelling molding and making begin!

Monday, September 12, 2011

H is for...

So I decided now that we are back from our vacation, to get to work on "schooling" the kids, or unschooling, or homeschooling, or whatever you call it when you sing songs, play games, make cookies and have fun in some kind of organized fashion. It feels very official with new backpacks, notebooks and crayons for sure. And their rain boots just kill me. We are still plugging away with letter themes. Maybe by the time they are 18 we will be on the letter Z. I am not using any curriculum whole heatedly, or any particular philosophy as my singular guide. I like aspects of Montessori and Waldorf pedagogy and yet I like the organization of a more traditional education. I want to teach my children to read as early as they show interest so that is our area of focus with Anastasia at least, and we are working through "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" which is working beautifully for Anastasia. It is short, I skip through a good bunch of the exercises that bore Anastasia, and hopefully by Christmas she will be reading. But if she isn't I am not going to freak out about it. I think that is why I am homeschooling. So my children don't have to fit into any mold, especially a government-run mold. That being said, homeschooling isn't for everyone, and that is fine too. I secretly wish my inner convictions granted me the freedom to send my kids away for 8 hours a day aboard that big yellow bus. That bus always seems to drive by my house when my kids are fussing and fighting, taunting me in that obnoxious yellow sort-of way. Imagine sending my kids off and knitting all day. But instead I make little boxes of sensory exploration:
This is our Apple Orchard Sensory Tray. We are learning the letter "H" this week, which is why there are Horses in it. Also included are apples (plastic and wooden), pails, baskets, Spanish moss from the $store, various wooden trees, scoops, pie tin, pom poms galore, blocks for fences and hidden in the bottom is a bag of cranberry apple tea for that yummy "apple" smell! And then I made a fall box, or as we call it, our Hedgehog box. Beans, silk leaves, wooden branch slices, wooden apples, wooden acorns, mushrooms, pine cones, pom poms (I am on a pompom kick!!) moss, scoops, cups for making fall beverages, wooden hedgies and hidden in the bottom is a bag of Chai tea for a nice smell. Opening this box smells divine!

I also made some Montessori inspired trays of activities. My real hope and desire was to come up with things to keep Isabel busy while I work on reading with Anastasia.

Marble spooning (the leaf dishes were in the dollar section at Michael's).

Pompom sorting with little tongs.

Counting leaves (this is a bit advanced for them right now).

Sticking with the "H" theme we read Hedgie's Surprise by Jann Brett and made Hedgehog cookies as our baking activity. I love the Waldorf concept of daily and weekly rhythm so Monday is our baking day. We sang Happy songs and did the Hokey Pokey and played Hide and Seek.

Oh, and can you believe how big and handsome this little man is? I can't stand how cute he is. He is such a perfect, happy, cuddly baby. He is the kind of baby that makes people want lots of babies. Only I know what other genes are in our pool... and that scares me. hahaha.