Friday, December 30, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in 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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Magic Act

Eamon has been working on his magician skills lately. He is perfecting a few coin tricks. If given a moment, he will don his costume and dazzle you with his skills.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Day Late

I almost did it. I was so close, but I did not finish Benton's sweater for Christmas. I ran into an issue on the 23rd. I realized that I had to rip out a whole sleeve. The directions were clear, but I misread them. The decreases were to occur every 4 ridges. I did them every 4 rows. Ooops. After that setback, things did not look good. Dave assured me that all would be fine. He reminded me that I was the only one holding myself to the goal of a handmade sweater for each of my children. He reminded me of all the handmade gifts I had made for others and that Benton would still get a sweater even if it was late. He also reminded me that 3 yr olds seldom keep score. I tell you that man is so wise!

After forgiving myself, I was able to finish the sweater on the 26th. Benton loved it when he tried it on, but subsequently deemed it itchy. I have decided to line it with coordinating fabric from my stash. With a good soak in wool wash and the lining, he should be happy. He also requested a zipper. That will require a trip to the fabric store as couple I have are too short. Hopefully it will be completely done by Thursday, and I can show you modeled photos.
Joining Ginny's Yarn Along
After I finish Benton's sweater, I need to alter Eamon's sweater a bit. As I feared the neck is a wee bit snug. He can get it over his head, but it reminds me of his birth. It is a tight fit for sure! I plan to rip out the neck and reduce the number of decreases. This should do the trick. He loves his sweater and is eager to have it back. He even asked for another one next year in Gryffindor colors. (I apologize for the blurry photo - he was strutting his stuff!)
Fortunately Aine's sweater fit beautifully, and she has worn it quite a bit. She loves that her new doll has one to match. I am so glad she likes this one after the last sweater I knit her was never worn. I really like how the sweater looks on her and want to make one for me now.
I am not sure what I will cast on once the sweater issues are resolved. I will be participating in the Through the Loops Mystery Sock project starting January 1. There is also a pair of birthday socks for someone special on my list. Even with the socks to knit, I really want to make myself something. I truly am a selfish knitter at times. I have some Madelinetosh that needs to be used as well as some red Beaverslide. So many decisions!

As far as my reading list, I have been settling in with my new Nook Tablet. I downloaded Stephanie Pearl McPhee's All Wound Up. I love her blog and am enjoying her book. I usually patronize the library for my reading material, but I felt I should purchase this book to pay for all the enjoyment her blog provides me!

A Wonderful time

What a wonder-filled holiday we had. There was much food, many hand-made gifts, family together time and lots of goodies to open.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season
Benton hugging the sock monkey his sister made for him
Eamon sporting his new scarf made by his Aunt Christie
Aine, in her new mama made sweater, hugging her new doll made by a very talented friend
Eamon in his new mama-made sweater building with his new Legos 
Dave with a couple stowaways in his new kayak

Friday, December 23, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in 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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Welcoming back the Light

The winter solstice has come and brought with it the shortest day of the year and also the return of light. In Arizona, this transition can sometimes be lost since our weather is quite mild. Our family has been trying to really mark this time by noticing the world around us. The kiddos have noticed a shortening of days. Eamon recently remarked that he is looking forward to summer and more daylight. We are relishing the cool weather and eating our dinners by candlelight.

Wednesday night we lit a fire to mark the beginning of the longest night. We lingered reading stories of wintertime and learning more about the solstice and astronomy. We talked about what the solstice is and how is has figured into so many religious celebrations throughout time. Today we measured our shadows and plan on doing this again a few more times for comparison throughout the year. We also put tape on the window to mark the sun's position. We will watch how the sun moves in the horizon based on our tape mark.

Do you do anything to mark the solstice and the changing of seasons in your home?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Each year we exchange ornaments among the cousins on my side of the family. Usually it is handmade, but it can be anything. One year, I bought the ornaments because I knew exactly what would fit for each child. This year we have struggled with different ornament ideas. Aine made pipe cleaner candy canes with beads. I tried some felt creations. Eamon did some woodworking. Nothing was quite right.

Then I had an idea. When Eamon finished his ceramics class this fall, he still had quite a bit of clay leftover. We weren't sure what to make with it, so I stuck it in the closet for a few weeks. Inspiration finally hit, and we made some holiday ornaments.
Benton, Aine and I setup a workspace on the table(Eamon elected to continue building LEGO creations). Under Eamon's watchful expert eye, we laid out butcher paper in lieu of canvas. Rolling, cutting, and writing ensued. We made a bunch of ornaments, decorations and gift tags. Using a sprig of pine from our tree, the kids and I imprinted the designs. Benton also tested out the use of a pinecone for imprinting. I carried them outside to dry a bit. We then hung them on ribbon for gifting. They turned all out really nice and I am sure they will be well received.

Crunch Time

I still have one last gift to complete. It is one of the three kiddo sweaters. I admit to becoming a bit cocky when I finished the other two so quickly. This one is taking a bit of time. Most of it has been in my head. How should I handle the stripes? How big should it be? Shawl collar or hood? I-cord binding or garter button band? Zipper or toggles? The possibilities are endless.

I decided to stripe the sweater using pi. It is comical to me that I cannot randomly stripe. This method works well and it takes the burden off me. The hood and sleeve portion of the sweater are solid. I am hoping that looks good when it is finished.

I finished The Yellow House and started Winter Sea. Someone on the Yarn Along recommended it, and it was available at my library. I have also been busy reading winter picture books with the kiddos. Today we read The Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. Our library book was misprinted; part of the story was repeated and the ending was missing. I was able to find it online read by Capote. We listened to the remainder of the story that way.

Friday, December 16, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in 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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Back on Track

I finished the little gift I was making yesterday, and I am very pleased with the result. For those knitters out there on ravelry, you can see it here. I will post a photo once the holidays have past. I don't want the surprise ruined. I even impressed myself by mailing it this afternoon. All of my holiday gifts that need to be mailed are gone. Woo Hoo!

I cast-on for my final official gift tonight. I still have another gift I want to knit, but I added it late to the queue. If I finish the last kiddo sweater then I will make it. If not, there is always random "because I love you" gift giving.
Forgotten socks in the yard
The kiddos have been getting a bit stir crazy after several days of rain. We run outside between storms to draw on the driveway, play tag or ride bikes. After a bit we would come back inside to listen to the torrential downpours. Aine was disgusted to find out her chalk creations washed right down the street. I told her it just meant she had a fresh canvas. Today it cleared a bit. We headed to the indoor trampoline place for some homeschool bouncing. It was so nice to go and stretch our bodies.
Watching the chalk pictures melt away
The library was also on the agenda. I truly love getting a big stack of books to read. Everyone found a spot to curl up with their books when we returned home. There are a lot of winter books in the pile which will make the rotation in the next couple weeks. I envision quite a bit of reading tomorrow as well as knitting.
My little garden loved the rain

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

More Changes in Plans

Details at Ravelry
I thought I would be working on Benton's sweater at this point, but my plans have changed a bit. The gift I had planned to give one of my nephews did not materialize. His mama had asked for it specifically, but my skills could not pull it off. I asked a friend for help, but her holiday list became too long. She told me a few days ago that she wouldn't be able to make the item. So I had to move to plan B. Fortunately it is a super cute plan that I think my nephew will like. (Since I know she reads the blog, I cannot give too much information at this point!)

So today was spent furiously knitting his gift. It has been raining a lot here, so we have gathered inside for some crafting and fun. I only have a little bit left to do tonight, and it should be done by tomorrow and in the mail.

On a side note, I think I may have mastered reading while knitting with this project. I am finishing up The Yellow House. I really like this story, but I have to admit that I also love Masterpiece theater and period pieces. Think what you will about my recommendations. I also read bits of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum aloud to the kiddos. They are enjoying this version of the story. It is free from Project  Gutenberg if you have an ereader (I love my B&N Nook).

As always, I am reading and knitting this Tuesday with Ginny over at Small Things. Join us if you would like.

Busy Elving

Much is happening at our household. We have been busy making and creating. Everyone is busy with their own gift list. There has been dyeing, knitting, sewing, laughing and celebrating. I do so love this time of year.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Change of Plans

When the day started, our schedule was full. Milk pickup and a trip to the farmers market followed by a playdate at a friend's home. Playing would then lead into time in the car running a few more errands. It would be busy.

We left the house before eating breakfast to get our milk. Usually my milk run is done before Dave leaves for work, but he went into work early. The kiddos bundled up and we set off. It was uneventful. Once home, we ate some yummy grub and set off again to the market. I had not been to this particular farmers' market, but our friends go every week. I figured it would be a good introduction to the market and the kiddos would see friends. I also secretly hoped to snag a market basket from one of the vendors (the basket seems to be a marker for our homeschooling group, and it is cool).

We pulled up to the market, and the kiddos squealed with delight at seeing so many of their pals. They started running around the grassy area. They wanted to walk around the water feature until one of their friends fell into the fountain and it was really cold. It was madness of the best kind. The mamas were talking near the fishhugger tent. He and his family are also homeschoolers. He loves having the kiddos running around his area and checking out his baskets (I told you already about the baskets). After buying a basket for myself and a smaller one for both Aine and Benton, we set off for our real goal - kale.

The market has one big produce vendor. It isn't all local, but most of it is. It is all organic, and reasonably priced. Everyone working that stall was so kind, but apparently all the kiddos were driving one other shopper a bit crazy (or so I overheard). We ended up with a bit more than our kale. Eamon, Aine and Benton each collected a few items. We had beets, radishes, apples, parsnips, carrots and a butternut squash. While paying, Benton became upset over the purchasing process and threw his basket and food on the floor. After paying I picked him up and settled back into the grassy area. After much talk, he calmed down. He really wanted his basket contents to be weighed together in the basket. He understands now, but is not truly convinced that his way was not better.

The day went a bit awry at that point. Each of the kiddos had a struggle with hitting or unkind behavior. I decided to pull the plug and change our plans for the day. I talked with the mom and children with whom we had planned our playdate. We all agreed that playing could wait for another day when everyone was having a better day. I even said that it was my point of view on the day. I just didn't want to spend the day frustrated and angry with the behaviors. I wanted us to focus our energy elsewhere.
We headed home. It was the best decision. Once home, we settled into our rhythm again. I pulled out the simple supplies for graham cracker houses. Eamon was disappointed that we didn't have real gingerbread like last year. His feelings of disappointment faded once the assembly began. There was much candy consumption and hilarity throughout the process. Eamon came up with a porch design that was quickly adopted by the younger crowd. Each has a specific look for their house.
When the houses were complete, we settled in for some stories, holiday movies and crafting. Dinner was a delicious soup, green chicken chili. With full bellies, we settled into bed and listened to our next installment of The Cinnamon Bear. The kiddos fell asleep and I finished up the mitts I had been knitting. It was a good day, although it was not what we had planned.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Casting on

Although I foolishly promised photos and details of the second sweater last week, I still haven't done that. It is tough to find a moment to photograph and document a gift when the giftee is always present. I can get away with a lot while knitting, but laying out an 8yr old sized sweater to photograph is harder. Instead I have been busy starting other projects. This week, I finished the baseball hat I had begun. It is really cute, and I think the recipient will like it as long as it isn't too big. (I have a hard time with hat sizing, since my children seem to have massive craniums!) I liked the Bimple pattern so much that I quickly made another one for my almost 10 yr old nephew. To spice it up a bit, I added some pirate colorwork. I love, love love it!
Fueled by the hat success, I cast on for another hat. This one is for my youngest niece. I am knitting the Aurora pattern from Bambeanies. I did not make it far before I realized that I had loaned my size 6 double points. I could have used magic loop, but instead I cast on for a pair of fingerless mitts for my oldest niece. My son informed me that she really likes the blue we chose for the mitts. He and Aine both think she will love them as they enjoy wearing theirs. I am knitting the Dashing pattern from Ravelry for them. I hope to finish the mitts tonight and the hat tomorrow.
Joining Ginny for our weekly Yarn Along
Reading has taken a backseat to holiday preparations and elving. I have only read a few pages of The Yellow House this week. Instead picture books, winter stories, holiday craft books and some audiobooks have been the mainstay. We have been listening to the Cinnamon Bear each night for bed. The kiddos really like it. We are also listening to Sacajawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the car. My history buff, Eamon, really likes it. I would like to read more about the expedition as well.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Slightest Twinge

It lasted only a brief moment, but I had a flash of holiday stress last night. I started to worry about finishing my nieces' and nephew's gifts in time for my parents to hand carry them this week. Not to mention a birthday gift that is needed for a special someone in that family as well. I wondered if I could squeeze in a little time to gather, sort and create a photobook to take advantage of a twofer deal by Monday evening. When would I be able to sew a few gifts that I really want to give this year. And what about my poor chilly spouse who could use a bit of wool to keep him warm. And that final kiddo sweater.
Sheesh! it was a big flash of panic, but I shrugged it off. Truly what will happen. The world will not end if I have to buy something for the people I love. They will still know I care even if I do not give handmade. I prefer giving gifts of thought that I create, but it will all be okay.
So, I returned to knitting while surrounded on the floor by my children who were also immersed in their own creations. We talked about what gifts they wanted to make and how we could make them. So much planning, preparing and togetherness. This is what I love.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Something Shiny

With a busy weekend ahead, Aine and I decided to have our monthly date a day early. After Girl Scouts, we headed out for some fun. I stopped by our home for the camera and told Dave my plan. We had discussed it last month, so he knew it was coming. Aine had no idea.

For months or even over a year, Aine has been pining for pierced ears. We were able to hold her off a bit over the summer with the promise of new jewelry in the fall after swim team ended. She has continued requesting them, assuring us that she can care for pierced ears. As soon as the swimming season ended she told us it was time. We decided that she was right. I called ahead and set the plan in motion.
As we drove, I asked Aine if she still wanted her ears pierced, and if she was up for it today. She couldn't answer yes fast enough. We headed to HTC in downtown Tempe. After a brief return home to retrieve Aine's birth certificate, the adventure began. Our piercer, Kevin, showed Aine the earring choices.  True to form her first pick was a large sparkly gemstone. I suggested that we start with a smaller earring first, so she picked a small titanium ball. 
Disinfecting her lobes
We were then led back to a smaller room where Aine listened to everything in awe. All the needles and earrings were in sealed packages. As Kevin opened everything, he explained what would happen. With earlobes disinfected and placement dots on her ears, the piercing began. We held hands throughout the process, which Aine described as someone pinching a small section of skin really hard. She did really well with only a slight grimace on the second ear.
While sucking on her congratulatory lollipop, she and Kevin exchanged high-fives after it was done. She practically floated out of the shop. As we walked, she kept putting her hair behind her ears taking extreme care not to touch her lobes and earrings (she had been told to keep her piercing clean and not touch her new earrings at all). She was so pleased and could not stop smiling. She finally has her fancy, new earrings.

{this moment}

Joining Soulemama with {this moment} – 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, savour and remember.

Making yummy pumpkin pancakes is better with a little help.