Monday, December 31, 2012

More Snow!

Still more!  Over the past 3 days we've had about 18 inches of fluffy powder.  It looks like my wish for a snowy winter this year may be coming true.  These pictures are from 2 days ago--before the deepest of snow falls. Today bright skies and sledding, snow forts, snow shoes and more.  A good dose of sun and snow to say good-bye to the 2012, and looking forward to a lot more of it in the new year.  


Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snowy Morning


This week we welcomed (by email) my newest niece into the world, and are now anxiously awaiting news from the NICU where she is receiving treatment.  She seems to be in good health aside from some troubling/confusing symptoms and so is fortunately able to be held and loved by her parents through all of this.  Even so I can't begin to imagine the stress on my brother and his wife as they negotiate through the already harrowing first days as parents.  I wish there was someway I could help, instead of sitting here a state away, feeling distracted, teary, and short with my children.  We're sending good, healing thoughts their way and hoping she'll be able to go home before too long.

With so much distress in the world this season the quiet and peace of snowfall was a welcome way to start our day--a bit of hush during this period of worry and waiting.  

Friday, December 28, 2012


With all the hype around Christmas and so much of the focus on presents and Santa Claus it sometimes leaves Rob and I feeling a little Grinch-like.  In order to distract from the commercialism we're working on creating small traditions throughout the holiday season that will be the memories for years to come.  Its tricky business.  Especially with our oldest fast becoming a cynical pre-teen, we find that traditions have to be solid--either through time (ie the Christmas Frog below, given by Mimi 8 years ago) or given enough reverence to quell the silliness/sarcasm that has become such a part of our lives these days.

I think Clove (who also has a Juniper!) said it well:   "I have mentioned before my desire to develop meaningful rituals and traditions with my kids.  Now that Juniper is 3 and logging lifetime memories, I have an overwhelming urge to solidify lasting holiday family mores... I want our holiday to represent us--our family--and those things we hold dear.  We're working on it.  Slowly, we are carving out a place for our family within the season.  As usual, I have grand plans that are wholly unrealistic within our days.  Despite the bustle, I'm trying to focus on slow family time." 

I too (and I suspect many of you) am striving to fill in the gaps with family traditions and create  something meaningful that my children can hold onto and perhaps avoid being swept along in the current of over- spending and excessive waste.  We're still working on adjusting these rituals so they fit realistically in our lives.  Many have been ditched and new ones added,  but each year I see the promise--the children's anticipation of the Christmas Frog--and where in the Advent Calendar  he'll appear, our lantern walk, tiny solstice rituals, and the making of re-usable gift wrap.  Each of the following is one little piece of our anchor, allowing us to slow down a bit and focus on what the season truly means to us--a celebration of those around us.  A time for giving, and appreciating, and creating joy and light in these darkest of days.  

* The singing Christmas Frog.  He is loud and obnoxious, but so jolly too.  One of the activities on our calendar is to get the frog out of the box of holiday decorations and hang him up for the season.  The kids love this.

*  Another favorite Advent activity is our Lantern Walk.  We choose a clear night when we're all home and we walk our little bog walk by lantern light (usually a flashlight too if the moon isn't available).  Its short and sweet with very little ceremony.  This year's walk was our 4th and we're sticking to it.  
*  In an effort to reduce waste we've been creating our own holiday fabric wrapping each year.  Some of these I sew into drawstring sacks, others we just use as we would paper and secure with ribbons.  This year nearly all of our gifts were wrapped in cloth.  By next year I imagine we'll have a large enough stash to begin wrapping gifts for friends in hand stamped cloth as well.  


*  Santa always comes to Maine by way of the tropics and leaves tropical fruit in our stockings.  Mango, starfruit, kumquats, kiwi and persimmons are our first Christmas breakfast (followed by many other goodies to be sure).  

*  For the past 3 years we've included a drive through town to look at the lights as one of our Advent activities.  This year we added the ritual of delivering trophies to our favorites on Christmas night.  While its clear that the system needs some tweaking (we need more trophies!) we all agree this is a definite keeper.  

I'd like to add a tradition for the day after Christmas as well (Rob suggested taking down the tree).  I'm imaging some kind of marathon board game day--but perhaps that's too ambitious.  We'll see.  

I'd love to hear about what the rest of you are doing....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  Ours was a smallish, festive affair, followed by a mostly quiet day, lots of mess, just enough sugar, outdoor time, a small bonfire, the delivery of our Holiday Lights Awards (more on this soon) finishing up with a Christmas movie all together on the couch and in bed before 9 (all of us!).  The morning after was a bit too "normal" life for me with Rob back to work and still no snow to be had.  We played new card games and playmobil,  had too much Christmas candy, and headed to Reny's for a sled, and a dart gun (more on this too) with Grampy's Christmas money.  

Hope yours was a merry one.  And today snow!  Hooray!



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We Got a Kitten!

Because the holidays are not quite busy enough with three children home (and in and out and being shuttled about) all day, Christmas baking, ornaments, trees, lights, wrapping, concerts and parties...we got a kitten!  Tipping the scales to near chaos, but also plenty of joy.  Look at that face (in this pic she's actually in my pocket).  

And look at this face as well.  Adoration.  Even Rob who claims he is not a pet fan takes time each morning and evening  to sit with Gracie and visit. 

 Marley dog (chicken killer that she is) has her own thoughts about Gracie.  For now we're taking it slowly, with plenty of close supervision...oh and a muzzle for good measure.  No kitty snacks for Christmas.  

Also plenty of "elving" happening here, and though not as much sewing and knitting by me as past years, there is a larger effort on the whole family making goodies for friends.  Its good. 


On Monday we got enough snow to pull out the tractor and plow--though needlessly since it was gone by morning.  Still 6 more days for a snowy Christmas.  We're hoping.  Until then, lots more wrapping, mixing, celebrating and snuggling with our fuzzy little Gracie.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Homeschool Thursday

I love to organize spaces--our play table, seasonal table, studio, etc.  Trying always to create a space that is inviting and efficient.  I think this is crucial in any home, and particularly in one when learning is happening all the time.  However, I am not particularly skilled at organizing my/our time or schedule (I'm working on this truly but its slow going).  Fortunately, my children--and I suspect most others, make the most of any unstructured time to fit in the activities in which they are most interested.  So, with very little structure here is a list of topics discussed, some in passing, others in detail one morning last week:  

rabid foxes, foxes vs. coyotes, cumulative law, bar graphs, x-y axis, earth's rotation, seasons, what would happen on earth if it took Earth only 1hr. to circle the sun, the cardinality of various sets (thank you Life of Fred)  animals with many sharp teeth, Fahrenheit vs. Celsius, daily nutritional requirements, medieval tools...  

Insert several snacks, watercolor painting, read a-louds, a tantrum or two and plenty of Lego play for a picture of what a typical day at home is like around these parts.   

Wylie's Rock Hammer 
A cozy place
Roy Toy building blocks with clementine foot path
Crayola white board--the new favorite way to practice letters at our house (thanks Grandma Max!)

As you can imagine we don't get bored very often.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A little bit of winter

It really hasn't been very winter-like yet this season and while its not officially winter I expect a little snow,  and the possibility of ice skating by mid December--in Maine.  Oh well.  Its hard to complain about sunshine and warm weather.  If the world is slowly burning up at least we can enjoy it for a while.

But, we did get about 2 inches of slushy stuff on Monday and the kids were on their skis around the yard before breakfast.  Even if the grass showing through that slush is as green as July, they're ready.
So, despite the outdoor truth, the seasonal table is sporting its new winter scene and the kids have been decorating the windows with pine cone garlands.  We're looking forward to sledding and snowshoes, but we'll make the most of this opportunity to run in capris a bit longer, dig in the sandbox, and all the while celebrate (the way 3-year olds do) in the finding of soggy pine cones, sugar cookies, and red berries declaring it is in fact nearly Christmas.  


I guess if we want it enough we can find the season just about anywhere...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Morsels

The past few days our advent activities have found us cutting gingerbread men, stamping fabric for gift bags, a few more lights and decorations (the sweet "Tammi's Angel's" print can be found at Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast) our boy's first concert performance ever!,  and our annual lantern walk across the bog bridge and through our little woods path, bringing a bit of light to these dark days.  

Fortunately the weekend also allowed for a much needed 5 mile run on a beautiful, sunny morning; breakfast with some of my favorite women (without our children!) and a relaxing day at home with Rob (returned from a trip away) and all of us well again.  Finally.  

Today we're enjoying that homeschooling requires no travel on an icy morning like this one, and planning to gather on the couch for reading, hot chocolate, some quiet work time on math and such, a bit of crafting to be sure, and our next activity (involving prizes to be awarded in town.  If you've got a fabulous light display, and you live near us, you may be one of the lucky recipients! Stay tuned).  


Friday, December 7, 2012

The View From Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".  In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."  To play along go to the SouleMama blog.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A cowl for you friends...(and you)

I've been wearing this cowl nearly everyday since I knit it up about a month ago (maybe I should wash it?).

I've received so many compliments on it that I realized ya'll would want to knit one up too.
I finished this in a weekend, making it the ideal holiday gift for your girlfriends--and guys too perhaps.  Anyone who can knit a stitch can whip out a few of these babies.
Make one for yourself while you're at it.

The Details (you know how I am about patterns, so bear with me): 

Cast On: 30 stitches, or enough to give you 6 inches according to your yarn and needle size.  Knit a gauge swatch if you're not sure.  

Knit in Garter stitch (back and forth knit stitching only) until the piece measures approximately 22 inches--you can test your length around your neck as you go. 

Bind off.

Here's the secret--don't worry its not at all complicated.  Using the same yarn and yarn needle sew together one end to the edge of the opposite side (as below).  This forms the nice triangle point, distinguishing it from other round cowls (and possibly identifying you as a cowgirl).  

Now put it on, and quick knit up another.  

You could change this up so many ways and have a different style for all your friends, or one for each day of the week!  Maybe try seed stitch, or ribbing, a variegated yarn would dress this up a bit, and stripes are always fun.  Enjoy!