Thursday, December 30, 2010

Slowing Down

These past few weeks have been fantastic.  We are slowing down and everyone is better for it.  Our activity load is lighter, and we spend a lot more time just being.  This has opened the way for more reading, playing, art and a whole host of other fun enterprises around our home.

It started when Eamon and Aine decided to stop taking violin classes.  Yes, it was their decision.  Yes, they were "allowed" to decide.  Their decision ended the arguments about practice and lessons and has contributed to a much happier household.  We still have the violins, but they have only played them once.  It is okay.  When they decide they want to pursue an instrument, we will follow that lead again.  Right now, we just listen and appreciate music that way.

I struggle with activites for my children.  I want them to be happy and well-rounded individuals.  I forget that activities do not guarantee that.  I also forget that my children need time to just be.  Too often this is forgotten.  Recently I read a post about stopping everything.  I think this is a great approach.  When our days are so busy, no one is happy.  If happiness is what we want, less is truly more.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Celebrating

This year we decided to focus on fewer presents under the tree.  As a family, we truly need very little.  We are fortunate to have what we need and most of what we want.  We wanted to give more of ourselves and our talents this year.  I think our plan was a success.

Santa brought the kiddos a computer preloaded with a few games.  Dave and I provided the rest.  Eamon received an electric train, a quilt and a helmet as well as items in his stocking.  
Aine received an American Girl doll, a quilt and bike gloves as well as items in her stocking.  
Benton received a truck, a quilt and a crane for his wooden train track as well as items in his stocking.  
They also received a few gifts from extended family including a bike, LEGOS, a zoo membership, tools, doll clothes and a game.  Dave & I each received a pair of Vibram Five Fingers as well as money, a Nook eReader, and a car stereo.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Minute Push

I wanted to make a quilt for each of my children this year.  I had a different idea for each one.  I started somewhat early and completed Benton's after a long delay over quilting approach.  Eamon's was completed next and went really quickly.  Made out of old jeans, I didn't spend a lot of time on layout and quilting it was a breeze with nice straight lines.  Then came Aine's quilt.

Originally I wanted to do circles.  That idea was quickly scrapped when I realized just what it would entail.  I then decided half-square triangles would be perfect.  This was the plan up until the day of execution.  Due to other gift-making,  I did not start Aine's quilt until Wednesday, December 22.  When faced with an iminent deadline, I reverted to a quilt made of full 10 inch squares.  I laid out the squares, but I couldn't get it perfect.  I decided perfection was for those who pre-plan.  I just had to make it, so I forged ahead.  It came out beautifully.

So, at 10:53am on Christmas eve, I am finished with the quilts I wanted to make for my children.  I hope they enjoy them and remember the love I hold for them.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Day

Our holiday crafting for out of town family is done.  The packages were mailed yesterday and should be there in time.  Just a few more gifts to finish for the local folks.  It appears that our handmade holidays will be a success.

Today we baked a bit.  We want to share some goodies with our neighbors.  We are surrounded by older people with a small smattering of college students sprinkled into the mix.  Most of our neighbors are quite friendly and even a bit entertained by our antics.  We baked cowboys cookies (using the chocolate/coconut variation) and made some peppermint bark.  We also have cookies we received during an annual cookie swap to share.  Tomorrow we plan on bringing the treats to our neighbors and hopefully sharing some smiles.

Loveys

None of my children have had an unusual attachment to conventional soothers.  This is now changing.  Benton has formed an attachment, however there are no binkies, blankies or loveys for him.  What he does love are screwdrivers and tools - especially screwdrivers.

He walks around the house with one all the time.  Lately he takes it with him wherever we go.  He even has been known to take it to bed with him.  His first words in the morning are "Where is my screwdriver?" or "Can I watch Bob da Builder?"

Tonight he brought his toolbox to the dinner table setting it beside his seat.  It holds a myriad of toy tools as well as a few real screwdrivers.  Ask him for a phillips and you may be surprised to get what you need.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Obsession

I read about Minecraft on a several blogs I read regularly.  When I read about it on freeplaylife, I mentioned it to Dave in the hopes that he would check it out for the kiddos.  He did, and the rest is history.

It is a sandbox game where you create your world and are limited only by your own creativity.  Everyone in our house loves it.  Dave especially.  He plays a lot utilizing online resources and his own wit to create an elaborate world.  He will play jointly with Eamon and Aine as well as by himself.  Talk in our house centers around creepers, spiders, elaborate world enhancements, ways to avoid danger, and new ore/tool finds.  For a low price, it has provided hours of enjoyment.  Just be warned, your family may become obsessed and unable to do much else.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Little Monster

During the summer, my sister in law asked if I would make her son a pair of monster longies.  She really liked a pair she saw.  I agreed on the condition that it would be his present for Christmas.   I was working on several projects at the time and honestly wanted to push it off for a bit.

Although, I have made numerous pairs of longies in my cloth diapering days, I searched Ravelry for a pattern that incorporated a monster grin.  I found one and was delighted to see that the smile was accomplished through short row shaping and the eyes and teeth were merely duplicate stitch.   Yarn was easy as she didn't want them to serve as a diaper cover.  The project was a quick knit.  He is only 6 months old which helps.

I am very pleased with the result.  My duplicate stitches could use some work, but all in all I like the result. I hope he (or at least his parents) loves them.

Project info can be found here: Gus is a Monster Longies

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wreaths

Aine and I enhanced a grapevine wreath to hang on our front door.  We completed our wreath before our friends made yarn wrapped wreaths.  Although we like theirs, we are still a bit partial to our own creation.  Armed with some ribbons and IKEA ornaments, we came up with this

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gifting

The whole family is working on creating gifts and cards for those on our list this year.  Much glue and tape is being used in these endeavors.  Boxes have been decorated.  Special cards have been created.  Creativity abounds.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Tree

We decorated the tree this morning.   This year, we were able to hang much more on our tree.  Last year we had a different type of tree, so our decorations were minimal.  The limbs couldn't support most of the ornaments.   Eamon and Aine helped hang lights, while Benton worked on checking all the ornaments for breakability.   Much delight was had as personal ornaments were lifted out of the box and hung on the tree.  
We also hung up our stockings.  It became painfully evident that the mismatched look is not working so well.  Mama better get moving on those handknit stockings.  The goal was this year, but perhaps 2011 is more realistic.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yogurt

We love yogurt.  I prefer the protein packed Greek yogurt, but we will eat it all.  Our favorite combination is plain yogurt with a bit of fruit, nuts or granola.  Benton especially gobbles it up.  To keep up with the quick consumption, I make our own yogurt.  We use organic milk and a yogurt maker my sister gave to me.  It makes 5 individual cups of yogurt.  I also have a larger yogurt maker.  In the past I used that one exclusively, but I currently prefer the individual containers with the kiddos.  We also use our yogurt in smoothies and in place of sour cream and love it.

It is very easy to make as well.  Just heat a quart of milk to 180 degrees stirring occasionally.  Cool the heated milk to 110 degrees and add 1/4 cup yogurt starter (we use 1/4 cup of homemade or store bought yogurt).  Put into the yogurt warmer cups and leave it alone for 6-8 hours.  After that time refrigerate and enjoy!   For more information on yogurt making, check out one of my favorite food blogs, 101 Cookbooks.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Victory



After Girl Scouts today, we headed north again in search of the perfect tree. We ended up parking at the same spot as last time. Friends of ours had driven to the same locale and garnered themselves a winner.


We headed out and spotted a previously dismissed tree.  We considered it in case we didn't find a better one.  We hiked around gathering sticks, pinecones, moss and other interesting botanical specimens.  We spotted animal tracks as well.  The weather was beautiful.  No one complained of cold and everyone had a grand time.

Again the perfect tree was elusive.  We hemmed and hawed until finally realizing the one we saw first was our tree.  We hiked back near the car, cut our tree, loaded it onto the car and headed home.

It is now standing in the garage to air before bringing it inside.  Eamon commented that it is much bigger than when we spotted it in the woods.  He had originally thought it a bit small and has now reconsidered his assessment.


Imitation

I enjoy reading craft blogs.  I garner a lot of inspiration from them.  Some projects I modify and adopt otherwise I steal shamelessly.  One such stolen idea is for leather cuff bracelet.  When I saw this little gem, I immediately thought it would be perfect for gifts.

I took an old belt of mine and cut it apart.  Benton helped me punch the holes and hammer the snaps.  Easy Peasy!



I hope the recipients like them!  I may have to make more for our next craft swap.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Big Three

My nephew will be turning three this week. We will be mailing him a little package to open on his big day. Based on the reactions from my children, he should like it. I made some pants for him from warm snuggly flannel and paired them with an embellished tee.


The applique for the t-shirt was based on a tutorial I found at Don't Look Now!   I followed my friend's suggestion to use interfacing on the inside of the tee for a stabilizer.  It worked like a charm - no puckering.

I think it looks adorable, and I hope it is well received.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hands Full

Recently people have commented that I have my hands full. It seems to occur most often when checking out at a retailer. I wonder what exactly they are implying. Typically my youngest is trying to climb out of the cart either over the top or through the back escape hatch. While this is occurring my older two children are either imploring that I purchase something displayed by the register or walking out the door unaware of my delayed departure. I don't see this as abnormal. I think I have very normal children and usually have things under control.

My children have needs and desires; they express them. We work on store protocol before leaving home or entering the establishment. With views limited to the cart, little buying power and impatience, my children may wander away from me, yell, climb out of the cart, grab things off shelves, ask the cashier a myriad of questions and look/act otherwise like children. I think this is normal behavior for small people. Perhaps it isn't or perhaps the expectations of society are not in line with the behavior of most people under the age of ten. I mean why would any retailer put small items right at child level at the checkout otherwise.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

She loves it

Aine has been growing her hair for quite a while now.  Her desire for long locks stemmed from strangers' comments on her short pixie cut.  She did not like being mistaken for a boy with short hair.  She had expressed an interest in having hair down past her bum.  Recently this changed.  It may have been precipitated by a bit of hair pulling, but I am not sure.  Suddenly Aine wanted her hair cut, and she was specific in the length.  She want hair to the base of her neck.  With little haste, I grabbed the scissors and crafted a new 'do for her.  She is pleased as punch.  Quickly she bathed and had her hair blown dry.  She then pranced out to show her brothers and daddy.  Everyone showered her with compliments on her haircut.  She asked them is she didn't look like Kitt Kittredge.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

On a Quest

Today we set out to find our tree for the holidays.  This is our second year obtaining a permit to cut a tree.  With permit in hand, we set out.  We left a bit later than we wanted, but Dave did a bit of initial detective work on our area.  He had a few coordinates for the perfect spot.

After driving for a couple hours, we pulled over at an observation area to look around the landscape.  The forest service was conducting a planned burn in the area, so we wanted to see if we could locate it.

We took a family photo,

made faces on the trees with snow,

 threw some snowballs,



and ran around the area.



After leaving the overlook area, we began to search in earnest.  This year our tree was a bit elusive.  We suffered from cold hands after building snow figures and throwing snowballs.  Our feet were cold, and we just were not up for the hunt.  We did capture a beautiful sunset and vowed to come back next week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lights

Annually we attend our city's Light Parade on the weekend after Thanksgiving.  We enjoyed hanging out with aunts, uncles and cousins.  This year the parade was a little shorter, but the fun was not diminished.

Friday, November 26, 2010

If he could

Benton would look like a raisin all the time.  He loves filling the bathtub to the brim and swimming.  Several times a day he strips down and tells me, "I taking a bawth".  He puts a few toys into the tub and swims away.


We Won

I follow a blog called Ordinary Life Magic.  It shows life in the day of a homeschooling family.  It provides lots of inspiration and reminds me to enjoy it all - mess, laughter, crying, yelling, running, jumping, craziness, quiet, rest, everything!

The writer of the blog offers contests every now and then.  Recently she offered a copy of the book Food: 25 Amazing Projects: Investigate the History and Science of What We Eat (Build It Yourself series)
Well our family won!!!  We are excited to get our new book and tackle a few of those projects.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

They went in

to the pool. 

Aine asked earlier in the week to go swimming.  She would not be deterred.  So, today Eamon, Aine and Benton put on their swimming suits, and Dave and I took them to the pool.   All three waded in on the steps saying it was cold but oh so fun.  Then Aine plunged off the steps and into the water.  Her face froze with an open mouth gasp.  She quickly swam to the side and jumped out.  She said, "I thought I would need to be rescued.  It is so cold!"  Benton stayed on the steps.  Eamon jumped into the water to get one of Benton's shoes.  He only did it once.  The visit to the pool lasted under 20 minutes.  From there we headed to dry land to throw the ball, ride scooters/bikes and play hopscotch.

The high today was 69 degrees (overnight low 55).  Yeah, that water was cold!

In Denial

I know this cannot be how my family feels...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not a Baby

My youngest child consistently tells me, "I not a baby; I a big kid."  He is starting to exert his autonomy.  He runs off at the park to play returning only to look for water and snacks.  He is a big kid, and he runs with the biggest.  He nurses less frequently sometimes going for days between asking for milk.  He makes sure everyone knows that his room is the one he shares with his big brother.  If E says something about his bed, B is sure to correct him.  He has laid claim to the bottom bunk.  It is his.  He now sleeps in his own room.  He decided last week that he would sleep in "his bed."  It is only when the morning light shines that he climbs into our bed for snuggles.  Last night he came into his room where the older kiddos were listening to a story.  They had fallen asleep, and he wanted to join them.  He crawled up between them and fell asleep.  He did this without me.  It was bittersweet.

Almost Famous...

http://legoquestkids.blogspot.com/2010/11/2-cups-of-random-bricks-photos.html

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Pickling

I decided with all the canning I have been doing that pickles would be fun.  I think I was momentarily delusional spurred on by a friend.  I have canned sweet pickles(cucumber chips), dill pickles, kosher dills and hamburger dills.  Most of the recipes come from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving which I of course bought at my local Ace Hardware (thanks, Dad).  The other recipe comes from a friend's mother.  Her pickles are said to be the best.  We will have to wait a few weeks and then I will give a verdict.  For now, I have to figure a spot for all the jars.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Creativity in the kitchen

If you have extra yellow squash and no plan to use it, just slice it up 1/8-1/4 inch thick and dehydrate it.  It is good with hummus or other dip.  It has a slightly sweet flavor.  Delish.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

One Third


I have a plan.  I have a crazy plan.  I have a plan to make three quilts by giftmas.  I want to make one for each of the kiddos.  I only have one pieced and sandwiched.  I have ideas for each of them, but putting them together is taking quite a bit of time.

The quilt pieced and sandwiched was waiting for quilting inspiration.  It is for B, and I think I know what I want to do.  It will be a simple geometric pattern.  I have the binding selected.  It is from the same fabric collection as the quilt top, Punctuation from American Jane.  It just needs to be cut and sewn into strips.  I am hoping to handsew the binding, but I may have to adjust that plan as the deadline approaches.

The next quilt was stuck on piecing.  The fabric is the City Weekend collection and is soft and feminine.  I had selected a pattern, but I didn't love it.  Then a friend showed me this quilt.  I love it, and have decided to make this pattern.  It required a bit of fabric, which has been ordered.  The backing fabric has been selected.  Not sure about the binding yet.  I need to hurry.

The last quilt will be made of jeans.  I have enlisted the help of everyone I know in collecting jeans.  It will include jeans from everyone in our family as well as from our community.  It will be a simple 4.5inch square top.  I will quilt it with straight lines.  I don't think this is the best time to learn free motion quilting.

Am I crazy?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Challenges

We have been playing along with the blog LEGO Quest.  We haven't yet submitted a photo, but try to participate every two weeks.

This week's challenge excited Eamon.  He built a creation quite quickly and wanted me to photograph it.  We plan on submitting it to the blog.  Eamon says, "it is a death tower.  The guy is supposed to help destroy the world with the giant monster".


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Gifts

I love knitting the mystery sock from Through the Loops each year.  I enjoy getting a clue a week.  I seem to be able to knit much more quickly when on a deadline.  I eagerly wait for the clue and hope to knit it before the next one.  This year I was able to finish completely one sock in Socktober (October for those of you non-knitters).  

I still have a foot to finish on the mate.  I carry it with me all the time in the hope that I may find a few minutes to knit.  My mom noticed the yarn this past weekend and asked what I was making.  I told her socks, for which I know she has little appreciation.  I was told last year when knitting my mystery socks that my mom thought knitting socks was a waste of time.  Too bad the socks I was knitting at the time were for her.  I promptly tore out the toe and reknit the socks to my size.  This year when she noticed the socks, she adamantly denied such a rumor.  She said she would love handknit socks.  So, I am now franticly finishing the socks for her upcoming birthday.  You have to be nice to your mom.

Circles

Today we contemplated the mysteries of circles at Math Club.  Initially the children were instructed to find a stick.  Much debate occurred over what type of stick would be appropriate, who had the biggest, which was longest, etc.  Next each child was given a piece of chalk and a string.  They enjoyed deciding how long their string would be.  Then the fun began.  The only instruction provided was to make a circle using all three things.

Amazing things occurred.  Most kids placed the objects on the ground and tried to create a circular shape.  One child arranged her stick and string perpendicular to one another and drew a circle around them with her chalk.  The following clues were given to help solve the puzzle:

  1. Tie the string to one end of the stick
  2. Tie the chalk to the other end
  3. Place the stick perpendicular to the ground
Once the final clue was given, everyone was catching onto the task.  We then used everyone's circle making device to draw a basketball court full of circles.  We discussed why the circles were different if we used the same materials.  We also tried to figure out the circumference of the circles.  This led to a quick discussion of the constant pi.

We wrapped up the morning with a 36 point circle and some artwork on it.  The kids appeared to enjoy themselves.  It helps being at a park and running around to get the sillies out as needed.

The most amusing part of the exercise was noticing the school kids in the adjacent school playground standing at the fence watching what we were doing.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween was quite an event this year.   We celebrated first with a party at the park with our homeschooling group.  The kids had a great time.  They ate, played and even made fairy dust.


This event was followed by another party with Eamon's Earth Scouts group on Sunday.  The whole family attended and everyone again ran around, ate snacks and had a blast.  We stopped to visit Grandma and GrandDad after the party.  We showed them our costumes and discussed our plans for the night.  Pumpkin carving was next on the day's agenda.  Cleaning the pumpkins was a breeze this year.  Everyone did a great job.  None of the kiddos wanted to do the actual carving, but they had plenty of ideas.  With knives in hands, Dave and I carved their designs.
Here is Eamon's 
Aine's
and Benton's 

Finally the actual event was upon us.  Eamon initially wanted to be Harry Potter.  He had decided this quite a bit ago, but he changed his mind when he discovered the cloak he would wear.  It did not seem like Harry to him.  Rather it was the costume of a Dementor!

Aine stayed true to her initial plan and dressed as a princess.  In a poofy dress, a little lip gloss and ballet slippers, she hit the streets.
Benton continued the dinocrocogator tradition established by his older siblings.  He didn't always like the hood up, but he loved growling.

We headed out in the neighborhood with a friend.  The kiddos did really well.  Everyone became tired toward the end.  Benton even fell asleep in his stroller.  Once home, the kiddos selected their candy and crawled into bed.  Each of them fell asleep quickly and were excited to find out the candy fairy had come overnight.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!