Sunday, November 4, 2012

All Hallows Eve

 Halloween is one of my favorite holidays!  I love it because it is a low-commitment, non-expectation holiday, where it is perfectly acceptable to dress up in anything, and be someone else for the night! Not to mention how exciting it is to go trick-or-treating among the ghosts and ghouls that roam about in the dark.  This year our Halloween was perfect!   Last year Halloween was truly a nightmare of sorts. Between scraped knees and lost shoes and a fussy baby who wasn't keen on all the excitement. This year, with my little deer, Snow White and a teddy bear who refused to keep his bear-eared hood on, we enjoyed a great Halloween party and quite a bit of trick-or-treats.  The kids were intoxicated by the magic and excitement of it all. Little Isabel would get seconds from all the houses by holding out her bag after she was dished out a hand-full of candy, then the candy-giver would ask, "oh, do you want more?" And give her another handful. Needless to say, her bucket was twice as full as the others! :)
 Its neat how as the kids grow older, they have expectations of what we are going to do each season and holiday.  We took the kids to Hill High Farm last weekend to get our pumpkins! We arrived a little late and they closed the hay ride (oh how could they?), but we visited some sweet animals and picked out perfect little table-top pumpkins! 
 Kieran was at least content with dressing up and trick-or-treating, but mostly he loved the party.  There was a big plastic LittleTykes car that was just his size that he guarded pretty heavily all night long. Now he is so excited to pick out candy from his "Puck-in". :)
 I have a goal now of keeping Halloween costumes simple, preferably using something we have on hand. I was delighted that Anastasia wanted to be Snow White because we got a lovely Snow White dress at the Flea Market this summer. Her only request was for a matching dress for Bitty Baby and a big red bow. Easy Peasy. It seems she is on a rotation each year she is either a princess or a fairy. This year was a princess year.  Isabel went through wanting to be a deer, to a bunny, to a deer, bunny, Rose Red, a fairy, a bunny.  Finally on Sunday I told her to choose then and there what to be so we could get her costume ready or else she would have to choose from the dress up box. I just made ears and sewed them to a headband and painted a face... for a strikingly lovely deer.  And Kieran wore his old bear suit from last winter after I lost the desire to make him a monster costume (as if he needs a costume. He is always a monster).

 We survived the nasty little hurricane with no power outages.  Maybe because we over-prepared this time.  The wind was insane and the rain was unending, and my heart goes out to those up North who lost everything. 
Because of the massive storms, we kept our jack-o-lanterns indoors on our table this year.  We really enjoyed them so. I hope you all had an equally lovely Halloween!  And now it is November... and I am feeling the gravitational pull of Christmas on our lives already.  7 weeks is not that far away! 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A forest party for my little deer... and her brother too.

Last weekend we had a little party in the forest for Isabel and Kieran. Isabel is in love with deer and wanted a deer party, a new "mommy deer" for her birthday, and is going to be a deer for Halloween too.  We had a perfect, perfect party in the woods, on a most beautiful fall day.  My good friend Tara came up for the party, and I made a huge pot of Chili.  Sadly, my camera battery died before the party even began but I got a few pictures of a few of the decorations. :)
 And a blurry picture of my cute little bear... who is definitely a grizzly type bear looking for trouble.  I have a wonderful woodland Pinterest board full of ideas I never used. I did use these free printables with adorable animal ears. Seriously, printing them out on a rainy day will change your household into a happy woodland. In fact, I think the bear ears will be my halloween costume.  Also, this party kit on Etsy was very sweet.  So I just print and cut... the forest provided the rest of the party.
 My mom of course outdid herself with perfect cupcakes and an adoable fox cake!  Isabel has been obsessed with that cupcake stand my mom found on clearance at Michaels.  She has been talking about it for the past month and I think it was all she could have hoped for. I made a scavenger hunt and Anastasia drew clues on paper for a little treasure hunt.
 So we had a perfect day. 
 And now we are awaiting a historic storm. Most likely we will only get rain and wind, but it looks like so many people will be getting snow, and massive winds, rain and waves. I had to get face paint at Wal-Mart today and the water aisle was wiped completely clean. Its funny how people completely panic and buy out water, milk, and bread.  As if nothing else really matters as long as you have those things... so you can hydrate and have bread pudding? Anyway, we need milk and who knows if we will be able to get any in the next few days.  I can't help but wonder what tomorrow will bring, and I am praying for the safety of those closer to the storm's merciless path.

My girls are getting so big..... and it is getting so late. I need to get to bed. Until next time, be safe, evacuate if they tell you to and God bless.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

My Isabel is 4!

 Isabel turned four on Wednesday! FOUR! My goodness is she a wonderful 4-year old! Her birthdays are my favorite because she is so silly, clever, beautiful, enthusiastic and a little crazy.  And she loves birthdays. She has been obsessing over her birthday all summer long. Pretty much all year long, ever since her last birthday.  So the very day was the best day ever for her. At least since she turned three anyway.
 She was very fortunate that I was teaching my sewing class in the evening, so we let her open gifts first thing... while birthday cinnamon rolls were baking!  I had been up the night before sewing her a new dress, which was a very loved gift.
 This is one of the first times I have ever sewn Isabel a dress for herself, without making a matching one for Anastasia. At least the first time in a very long time.  So I think it was special. It was also special because there are deer on the bodice which is currently her favorite animal, along with kitties.  I used Simplicity 1793 and a little bit of Storyboek fabric I was able to find a 1/2 yard of off of Etsy. I am sort of in love with it, and used a little deer square on a little wool bag:
 I am sooo happy with this bag, and Isabel put all her birthday treasures in it. I found the wool at the flea market this summer. I bought a giant box of wool pieces... several yards worth for $5!!  And so now I will be making many more lovely, wool messenger bags. I really made the bag for this:
 Isabel received a camera for her birthday! This was something she has been asking for for a while. Almost as long as she has been asking about her birthday... so kind of a big deal!  She has been taking pictures of everything, and as it has been dropped several times I am soooo glad we opted for a kids camera instead of a cheap adult camera. Isabel spent her whole birthday taking pictures of everything.  We had her favorite dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs!  For dessert I made her cupcakes and planned to ice them after my sewing class.  While I was away, Kieran fed Leia (our dog) all 12 cupcakes!!! So I ended up at the grocery store buying cupcakes (and beer) at 9pm for our little celebration. 
Isabel loves her Little-Tiny-Baby-Kitty seen in this picture, which Anastasia picked out as an early birthday gift.  I helped Anastasia come up with a gift she could make Isabel this year.  We are just learning to sew and she opted to make a sleeping bag for Little Tiny Baby Kitty.  She picked the fabric for the pillow that I quickly sewed up, as we were running low on time.  I am really proud of her efforts, and the sweet gift she was able to give her sister... made with love. 

Its hard to imagine 4 years ago I was holding my little, bald, sweet Isabel for the first time ever. I had no idea the joy and laughter she would bring to this world. Nor the mop of red hair that would become of that peach fuzz. I could never have guessed how many band-aids one child could go through or how many snuggles a little girl could possibly need.  We have had our moments, good and bad, but Isabel is my mama's girl.  My needy, middle child who I have come to need too. :) Happy Birthday Isabel!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Michaelmas Week

Brave and bold I will be, golden light shines bright in me.
This past Saturday was the feast day of St. Michael the arch angel, also known as Michaelmas.  This is a big holiday in the Church, and also in Waldorf schools.  For Christians it is a time to reflect on how God and His chosen ones fight the evil one, and the evil on earth.  Waldorf education focuses on being courageous and brave, tackling dragons in our own life, as the seasons shift into Autumn.  We celebrate all aspects of this spiritual day. 
Actually, truth  be told, this is the first year I have really worked hard to celebrate Michaelmas with my family.  Usually I don't think about it, and then I am sad that I forgot.  This year friends of ours were married on St. Michael's feast day, depending on the power of St. Michael and the angels to strengthen and deepen their love.  It was a beautiful way to celebrate with a high mass and a lovely reception, on a cool autumn night beneath the stars.  Because I was sick-ish last week and lost my voice for half of the week, I have declared this week as "Michaelmastide" and we have been slaying dragons and beseeching the power of the angels to protect us from the wicked dragon.

 We decorated with dragons and knights.  We have told many stories about St. Michael and St. George, including the story of St. Michael and the star children. (which is our favorite!).  I am hoping to do a few more things before our week comes to an end, but we will see. Today is Isabel's birthday and I decided to skip doing school today due to the other festivities at hand.
 We also made dragon bread, for the first time ever! Not too bad for a first go!
 I made this wonderful dragon from the pattern at Rhythm of the Home.  He was quite easy and turned out very sweet... and of course fierce and frightening!  ;)  I also pinned a bunch of other Michaelmas ideas on my Autumn Pinterest  board.  Do any of you celebrate Michaelmas also? 
"Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen"
May God clothe you with courage and light to defeat all the dragons in your life.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Magic Beans

Lately the girls have been building little fairy houses around the huge tree in our yard.  Occasionally fairies move in, and leave treasures for the little hands that built them.  Last week the girls were gifted with little squirrels and a bag of magic beans.  We had been reading the story of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and Anastasia wondered if the fairies knew that, and that is why they left us magic beans.  I am sure fairies know a great deal more about us, than we do about them.
The girls ate most of the magic beans, but I convinced them to save a few, just in case they are really magical.  We took our magic beans and placed them in the ground in a sunny spot, then watered them. The girls spent the day wondering what the beans might grow into. Perhaps a beanstalk that will take us to a magical land?

When they woke the next morning, the girls looked out the window but there was not a beanstalk growing to the heavens.  At first they were disappointed, but then when they ran outside they found a little lollipop bush sprinkled with fairy dust and lollipops poking between the lovely flowers.  To say they were excited would be an understatement!  They really were magic beans! And they grew into magical lollipops!
 I have found many people don't like to encourage the ideas of fairies and magic to small children, for fear that they may question their faith later if all other things prove false (Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, etc).  I on the other hand, find that we are really opening up our children's mind and hearts to miracles and wonder, that they may be able to believe more strongly in that which we cannot see and touch.  I also think it helps children to think outside the box of our reality which is what the world needs most to fix the problems at hand.  A strong imagination is essential to childhood and builds a more thoughtful and dynamic person who isn't bound to the realities of this life, and who can love the world and the magic that nature and its Creator has to offer. 
May your week be filled with wonder and awe.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

C is for Cat... and chalk board painted walls!

 The past week and a half has been a total whirlwind of emotions.  Some very sad things have happened to friends we love very much, and it has been hard to digest the reality of what has happened.  None the less, life goes on.  On the lighter side, we added a new cat to our family. His name is Dmitri and he wears princess dresses without shame. So therefore, he is perfect. Only, he is terribly lazy. We picked him out of 8 different cats we had narrowed down to, and he was a perfect blend of sweet and playful. Well. He is beyond sweet but the playfulness has been trumped with constant napping.
 I have been on a bit of a painting spree. I painted a dresser, a clock and I turned a wall into a chalk board.  It was a little bit ominous painting this wall pitch black, but my only regret is that we didn't do this ages ago! 
 This chalkboard wall has added so much life to our living room. I have loved the idea of chalkboard paint for a while, but I was so afraid of black.  Then, as we began homeschooling this year, I felt like I desperately needed a chalkboard. Only, we have no real room for a nice sized one. And so I finally went and bought the paint, outlined a large rectangle space with painters tape, and painted my wall pitch black.  After the 24-hour wait period, not a moment was wasted and everyone joined in the drawing fun! Even Daddy added a castle which inspired our letter "C" mural.  Our living room has not been used as much as it should, but we are slowly turning it into a rather lovely school room, especially with our new canvas.
We have been well and the girls love school thus far. Even Kieran asks every morning to do "cool".   And Kieran likes to nap anyplace but his own bed.  Apparently hard plastic bins are more comfortable than toddler beds. Anastasia wants to be an artist and a mom when she grows up.  Isabel doesn't want to grow up. She wants to stay with me forever. I am beyond blessed. :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Finding Simplicity in a Complicated World

We just finished up reading Little House On the Prairie last night. Funny, I have never fully read the story, or at least I don't remember it. Through reading this story I am struck with how little the Ingalls family had, how hard they worked for every little thing they had, and how happy they were.  I am mostly moved by how the girls had very little toys or things of their own and then when they were given a gift, an entire chapter went on about how enthralled Laura was with that very special gift. Especially at Christmas, when they each received a simple tin cup, and they were beyond delighted by that very utilitarian gift, given especially to each of them. There are sentences written about how they licked their candy canes so slowly, savoring each taste. Pa put his blood sweat and tears into that house, and then they up and left it. No big deal. A beautiful cabin left alone on the prairie.  How quick they kissed such precious material possessions goodbye. And then there is now.
Now, 150 years later we are inundated with stuff. Material things drive our economy, our households, our lives. Every time you turn around someone is handing out a lollipop and some plastic, made-in-China toy that gets played with 2 seconds and tossed on the floor to be stepped on, swept up, and thrown back in to the vicious materialistic cycle. Not to mention the pace, the anxiety, the new dangers we have created ourselves! Pa didn't have to worry about pesticides on the prairie and toxic waste in the creek!  Our lives today are too complicated. Too fast. We could barely write an entire chapter of a book about our year.... let alone a single day.  And so in this, our crazy, unsettled world, this valley of tears, I am reclaiming simplicity... one day at a time. One Barbie, one unused cup, one dress that doesn't get worn, one moment at a time I am bagging up the excess, skimming down the needs, and moving on.  I don't think my children will only receive a single tin cup this Christmas, but they will get less, so that less will be more.   
I recently picked up the most wonderful book, Simplicity Parenting. The concept isn't new to me, but the book is hard hitting. It really looks at the toxicity of our society on childhood. For me personally, simplifying our life is really about taking control of it.  Not being a slave to my children's toy collection or ballet schedule, or even to their endless parade of desires.  This month I have donated over 10 trash bags of toys, books, clothes, shoes, etc. to Salvation Army. If you have seen our tiny home, you must know what a huge deal that is! I hope to donate another 10 more before Christmas.  While the 3 generations (mine, my mom's and the girls) of Barbies will probably stay tucked away in the closet for rainy days, there is more excess than actual played-with-toys floating around. I am only one chapter into the book, and I feel like I am ready to reclaim a simple and organic childhood in a very Ma Ingalls fashion.    
And so I share with you, our nature table, beeswax fairies (tutorial from here) and our homemade fairy house.  All part of our August "school" focused on fairy tales, nature and handiwork. Simple. Beautiful. Imaginative.  Sugar City Journal has a very moving post that I read a couple weeks ago, that leaves me with a question in each situation, "what would Ma Ingalls do?"  Its easy to forget how far we have come in our progressive world, and how much we have really left behind. Peace to you all.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Camping at Sherando Lake

 This week we took our first family camping trip since Kieran was born. We joined my parents for an overnight stay at Sherando Lake, about 2 hours south-west of our house.  We had a fantastic time!  We got very little sleep and had way too much sugar, so by the second day the kids were little crabapples. Its amazing that it took me a few days to pack, and a couple more to unpack and I did 5 loads of laundry afterwards.  I think that in the end, being outdoors connected with nature and away from the busy everyday lives we live, it was all totally worth it.  
 Kieran really enjoyed just being outside all day long. Camping was as natural to him as breathing.  Only, he slept poorly and was the biggest fuss the next morning.  Thankfully, he gladly sat in his car seat and napped for an hour, and became the charming young man we know and love.  I am glad we have several more months before another camping trip is in our future.  Squishing him between Nick and I on an air mattress was a total nightmare.  I honestly don't know if I slept more than 20 minutes that night.
 Oddly enough, this was the first time we have ever taken Leia camping with us.  She is of course the perfect camping dog.  She sat at our campsite eating the scraps and scaring the bears away.  They had pretty intense bear warnings posted all around the campground so we did in fact have quite the threat. Leia did her job as we didn't see any bears. And we are all incredilbly thankful that we didn't have any skunks walk into our campsite because Leia still has skunk smell in layers of her fur... many months and several baths later.
 We spent our first day pitching our tent and enjoying the lake, cooking out and having s'mores over the campfire.  The girls love swimming, especially anywhere that has "deep water".  Anastasia finally taught herself to swim underwater this summer, so I am really excited that we finally have a near-swimmer among us! Isabel is our little mermaid and would probably live in the water if she could. Its really neat to see new aspects of their personalities come to life each day. :) 
 On our second day we hiked a little bit of Crab Tree Falls. We made it about 1/4 mile when Isabel flung herself around a railing above the falls. It could have been really awful if she fell, and she was beside herself that Nick grabbed and startled her.  So we hiked a tad further and went back down.  They really are beautiful falls.
 We then drove to McCormick Farm and had lunch.  The farm belonged to Cyrus McCormick who invented the "reaper" for reaping crops.  The farm and landscape were beautiful and the perfect setting for a peaceful lunch. 
 We spent another evening at the lake, and packed up and headed home with a little Starbucks in hand.  We were wet, muddy, exhausted and happy. :) 
I look forward to more camping trips next year.  We have been dreaming lately of purchasing a pop-up camper and kind of cheat a little, but mainly to make camping more comfortable and overall more accessible to our family.  Someday maybe! But for now, I am just glad we finally made it outdoors and slept under the stars for the first time in years! :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012


 I love summer. August is fading quickly into Autumn and before you know it we will be sewing Halloween costumes and decorating for Christmas.  This has been the best summer.  We have had so much fun, learned so many new things, accomplished so many tasks and made loads of new plans for the coming months, years, and whole life.  It has cooled off outside and yesterday we enjoyed our second fire of the season in our little firepit, made from river rocks we found on one of our many adventures. We have been so busy, it has been so hot, and we had no chairs. 
 Thankfully on Saturday, we went to the Rte. 11 Yard Crawl, and amazingly found 2 large chairs and 2 small chairs (we had 1 small chair already), so now we have 5 camp chairs. One for every person. And seeing 2 large chairs and 3 little chairs with 3 little people sitting in them, staring in awe at the flames of our humble fire, beneath our largest tree was so cozy. My heart melted in each and every way.

 Other yard-crawl finds included a box full of sweet (and some ugly) vintage linens and things (for $3!), Jan Brett's "The Hat", and a lovely new bookshelf for our living room. It was a successful outing, complete with snow cones and french fries. The sweet dresses pictured above are a bit of a mystery as some of them had no holes at the neck, and others had very small neck holes and loops at the top.  They were hand-crocheted and must have taken some time.  We cut holes to fit some of our dolls, and they are entirely sweet.  My mom thinks they might be dish cloths?  They are too pretty for scrubbing pots.
 We are slowly wrapping up our summer with a little bit of school and trying to find some rhythm in our daily lives between cramming in all the fun things we have to do before summer is over. I have stuffed most of the contents of our life into plastic tubs, and am possibly the most organized I have been in my entire life.  And yet I still have piles of laundry everywhere. Everything has a place even if things don't always make it to their places.  There is comfort in that at least.
In other big news, my children learned how to turn the table into a little house! :)  They must have all 3 played in there for hours.  It really doesn't seem so long ago that my brother and I were building little cushion forts and houses out of our card table.  Childhood is so precious, and fleeting, much like summer, fading into fall. And so I try to enjoy the little things, between all the washing, scrubbing and cleaning that we mamas spend our days doing.

Make believe, and stories, songs and magical worlds, peaches and ice cream, fairies and fire light..... that is how we will spend the last days of this quickly-fading summer.

PS-I am sure you noticed the new blog layout, and hope you like it! I needed a little change...