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...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Kool Aid Dyed Playsilks

 My children love playsilks. We have had a few over the years, and it came to my attention that we were down to a single, ratty, faded yellow play silk. The sad looking silk had been a cape, a doll sling, a blanket, a net, a tent, a skirt, and so many other things in its dear little life.  It has been a while since I went playsilk shopping, or dying, so finding the price of $14 (or more) plus shipping per silk was more than I could afford.

In steps Pinterest and every one's favorite childhood beverage: KoolAid. I found this blog post with an amazing color chart for dying silks with KoolAid.  I did all the dying in the microwave, in ziplock bags, thanks to a tip from my friend Regina.  Basically that means no mess.  Basically pour 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 3-4 packs of KoolAid into a ziplock freezer bag and heat for 3 minutes, let sit for 3 minutes and rinse. Then hang to dry (or throw in the dryer for 5 minutes if your children are begging for them). THATS IT! :)

I think the colors are so beautiful and vibrant.  You can make a forest green, dark blue, maroon red, and clayish orange by adding 1/2 packet of grape koolaid to 3 packs of the solid color. It makes them a little darker. Also, if you do yellow, do like 5 packs and let it sit for as long as you can stand. I love the bright, summery colors and you have to know the kids have been playing non-stop with them.  The rainbow silk I made (above) was done by tieing off sections with rubber bands in ziplock bags. I actually may re-do some of the colors that needed to be more saturated.  You can also do this on the stove which I intend to try with the hope of getting some more saturated yellow, green, blue and orange.  It was really hard with the zip locks to tie it off and make sure the silk was completely in the water... if that makes any sense at all!
I bought the silks from dharma trading post for $5.35 each I think. Even with shipping and KoolAid they were still around $6 total.  Much better than $14. I must have purchased 50 packs of Kool Aid in all the primary colors! I went several places and Wal-Mart had the best selection. They had all the colors I needed and then some! I didn't have enough silk left to make some pink.  Maybe for Christmas?
We have been really into Mermaids lately, and the silks have really added a lot of color to our Mermaid world!  :)
Can you guess who Anastasia is pretending to be?  I really enjoyed this project because it was quick, easy and super rewarding.  All the Kool Aid brought me back to my own sugar-induced childhood.  I think I drank gallons of that stuff.  The scary thing is, my hands are still green and blue from yesterday's dying adventure. All I can think is what all that color does to one's insides?? Yikes! I am so glad I can pass on the beauty of Kool Aid to my children in another way. :) hehe.

Now go buy some silk and add some color and creativity to your life!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Finished Projects

Once upon a time, Little Red Riding hood took a walk into the forest...

There is a great sense of accomplishment that follows a completed sewing project. Especially one that was ordered nearly 3 weeks ago. Unlike housework which is only accomplished for mere moments before someone tracks mud in on their feet, dirties a dish or decides to change for the 16th time that day because apple juice spilled on their dress. For one reason or another, I ended up with several custom clothing orders all at once.  My sanguine temperament took over and had, as always, an overly optimistic outlook on how quickly and easily I could finish these projects.  This little red riding hood "caplet" and ruffled skirt (with little red fabric) is for a cute little girl on her 2nd birthday.  It is terribly small looking on Isabel, but the measurements are as ordered, so my fingers are crossed that they will be well received.

 Its always a little scary for me, sending a piece of my work out into the world, to a new home. Thus far I haven't had an unhappy customer. Lets hope there is never a first! In the midst of orders and our anniversary, we were invited to a "Pirate Party" for our little friend Elan, who is my childhood friend Tara's little boy. 
 We found the cutest paintable ship at Hobby Lobby and I made some little pirates for the birthday boy.  The girls had the time of their life with a kiddie pool and sand and a treasure hunt! What fun.
And 3 weeks ago I made the above dress for a friend of mine. She has 3 little girls, and I have 3 more dresses to work on now that all of my Etsy orders are FINALLY caught up.  No thanks to coming down with Strep throat last weekend. I am thankful though, that my children didn't catch it, thanks to an immediate dose of antibiotics. Love 'em or hate 'em, antibiotics save lives, and entire families from misery!  Whew. So it had definitely been a bit crazy over here. Last week Nick sold the Jeep and we are down to one car until his truck is up and running. Also, I have kept the kids inside all week long in case they were contagious, so they are all a little stir crazy!  Establishing a bit of rhythm and beginning our life-long adventure in learning has been a beautiful necessity as summer fades quickly into fall.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


 Had you asked me 3 months ago about homeschooling, I would have told you I had no idea what I was doing and probably told you how badly I wanted to send my children off to school like every sane person on the planet. But we had made the decision long ago to home school and that is what we are doing.  Thankfully, the past few weeks I have felt a renewed sense of peace and passion on the subject as we plan and piece together all the particulars and start a new season of learning.  A little over a week ago, I stumbled upon this video that really sums up a lot of my attitude towards education:

(Sorry it is off center)
I find it is so important to educate the whole person. Mind, body and soul.  And that the most important things we learn, we learn through creativity and using our imagination.  As Albert Einstein mentions,

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.
If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
― Albert Einstein

So all those things considered, we begin our adventure into education at home.  

I have taken a Waldorf approach to homeschooling with a good amount of Charlotte Mason's concepts mixed in. I also like a lot of Montessori ideas, especially the introduction to reading and spelling. I love the beauty, simplicity and pure imagination of the Waldorf Concept. I like how every subject is presented in stories. Handiwork, art and movement are considered as important as the intellectual subjects. The approach focuses on the whole person and rhythms of life. I am also drawn to the importance of spirituality and nature to the education of the soul.  We are so fortunate to live in a mecca of natural beauty, and it is absolutely important to me that my children have a deep love and a healthy relationship to God's creation. I love the overall picture, but I am not a Waldorf purist but think than any educator can really gain so much from adding some of the concepts to their lives. I like Charlotte Mason's ideas to keep a nature journal, read "living books", encourage good habits and again, art and handiwork.  I also like her classical studies, and some of her approaches to different subjects.  Like all theories of learning, not one is perfect but so much can be gleamed from each concept to fit your children, life and style of learning.

For curriculum I chose the Kindergarten curriculum from the BEarth institute.  The curriculum is mainly stories, wonderful stories, songs, and crafts.  We started doing a little "Science" yesterday and the curriculum uses the Storybook of Science (that you can download free here!)  and the first story was about poisonous berries and plants.  We learned so many plants in our yard are toxic and the kids were completely glued to my total surprise! Anyway, I have been using Simply Charlotte Mason as a guide for adding things like music, art, Bible and poetry.  We will be studying one composer a month and one artist.  For History we are just reading chapter books.  We will be finishing up "Little House On the Prairie"  this month and begin studying Native Americans through stories.  I would love to rhythmically go through American History from Indians to present day every 2 years so the children almost get a timeline in their heads.  I also am not sure where to fit in world geography/history.  But I am not worrying about it for Kindergarten...... I just need to see if I can get through this year!  Not to mention ballet and Girl Scouts. We will have a full plate! :) 

I am so excited though, and truly blessed to be on this crazy, beautiful journey of homeschooling. I can't wait!