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.