Thursday, December 12, 2013

Just like Last Year

Heather's house
Eamon's house

Aine's house

Benton's house

Our annual gingerbread house decorating went off without a hitch. This year we assembled all sorts of candies and returned to using graham crackers. The kiddos really prefer the open-ended quality of graham crackers. They each requested that we skip the kit this year. Each of us decorated our own house. I went with the traditional look, while each of the kiddos did their own thing. The houses lasted a few more days than last time. This year each of the kiddos ate their own house and they split mine. No more Benton-zilla this time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Best Gift Ever

Yesterday morning when checking the mail slot to see if their wishlists had disappeared, Eamon and Aine discovered a sealed envelope. There was no writing on the front. With a bit of parental prodding, they decided to open it. Inside was a letter from Santa. The letter mentioned the gift last year and how it was a bit late (a cabin weekend in the snow after New Year's). Santa apologized for the crazy schedule and said this year their gift would be early. He provided GPS coordinates, a meeting time and instructions to ask for Jasmine. They would receive their Santa gift today!

With a new afternoon plan, the kiddos and I set out for our scheduled field trip and park day. Theories abounded throughout the morning and early afternoon. They had no idea what the gift could be, but they were excited. Dave arranged to leave work early and meet us at the designated spot. Eamon was concerned that we may not be there right at 4pm due to traffic. He worried about what would happen if we were a minute too late or too early. His worries were not realized, since we pulled up exactly on time with Dave right behind us. Immediately Eamon shouted that we were getting a dog after reading the sign along the street. Aine began jumping with excitement about a dog named "Jasmine." Only Benton was worried, because he has been wanting a yellow dog (lab or golden retriever), which he would call Butterscotch. I finally convinced him to get out of the car, so we could even see what Santa had in store. Dave and I were still not convinced a dog was in the cards for our family!

When we entered the shelter, there was quite a line. As we stood waiting, a tech brought out a puppy with red leash and collar, adorned with a bow and candy cane bandana. She asked if anyone was waiting for this puppy. Aine hurriedly asked what the dog's name was, only to be bowled over when the tech replied, "Jasmine." The rest of the visit was a blur of snuggles and love. Jasmine was quite subdued, still a bit sedated from her earlier spaying. She snuggled up with each of the kiddos enjoying the attention. We signed a few forms, thanked the staff and gave a nod to Santa before heading out the door. All of us were still a bit shocked as we headed home. The kiddos could not believe WE had a dog. They declared her the best Santa gift ever.
Once home, we discovered that Santa had visited again bringing a crate, dog food and bowls. Jasmine was set. Friends came over to meet our new family member. She snuggled with everyone. Each of the kiddos keep holding her proclaiming her the best dog or the cutest. I think I even heard one of them call her "adorbs."
The love fest has continued into today. I think our whole family is glad Santa decided we were ready for a dog. This little 12 week old lab mix puppy is perfect for us.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Tree

A few years ago, we discovered that Costco sells trees. It was rather by accident. We were picking a few things up from the store, when Aine discovered the truck and signage. This year we decided not to cut our own tree and rely on our local warehouse store again. After attending a winter festival at the local Waldorf school, we went in search of our tree. I ran into the store and paid while Dave and the kiddos scoped out the situation. (Truly there is little picking when shopping at Costco; all the trees are the same, wrapped in twine and standing on end. I don't really mind as I believe most trees are very similar when they come from a farm.) They selected one, and we strapped it onto the car. Our holiday season had begun.

With music setting the mood, I dug out the ornament bins. Each of the kiddos examined their own bin filled with their special ornaments, oohing and ahhing as they remembered each one. With Benton's expert help, Dave strung the lights and our beaded garland. Quickly the tree was filled with ornaments. Every spare limb was decorated with plans to add more as the crafting continues this holiday season. I placed hangers on the remaining ornaments as the kiddos' interest waned. They soon ran outside to play. Initially I was annoyed that I was left with the work until Dave reminded me of how much I love having a tree and the holiday season. I love the music, the spirit and the family. My mood shifted as I continued to fill the remaining spots on the tree and hang the stockings throughout the house. It is in the letting go of my preconceived notions of how things should work that I find my happiness.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


I am surprised to find out how hard it is to carve out time for this space. How the more I am away, the harder it is to return. October was a blur and sped quickly into November. We were gone for three weeks in November visiting family and friends in Michigan and Ohio. I wrote several posts, but somehow they never saw the light. Now we find ourselves in December with the year end quickly approaching. And I realize I need to write here. Actually I want to write here and keep a record of our lives, but it is tough to return. So, over the next few days I will try to get those posts from November to upload and move forward with the everyday magic of our lives.

(These are photos from our return to Arizona last weekend. We drove back to Arizona right after Thanksgiving. After a too quick stop in Nebraska to visit two of my uncles, we sped home. We encountered a bit of snow and even dense fog, but the driving was rather easy (or so it seemed - Dave does all of the driving while I knit and entertain). Utah was especially beautiful with snow and frost covering the trees. It made the whole landscape look a bit like underwater coral.)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I awaken early by nature. I love those quiet times of the day. It is my alone time for list making, day planning, reading and knitting a bit. It is also my time for exercise. I was running most days, but a bout with plantar fasciitis has slowed me to walking now. I love my time walking through the neighborhood. I greet neighbors I see or just revel in being alone. My route is between three and four miles, which takes around 45 minutes, just the perfect amount of time for exercise. When I return home I am greeted with hugs and reports on breakfast. Although I often consider staying home and using those minutes for something else, I know I will regret the decision. That early morning outing refuels me and helps me remain centered throughout the day.

** I am working my way through November with prompts from write alm. Join me won't you.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Perfect Buttons

I finished this little sweater for Aine several weeks ago. It is the Bulle pattern made out of Cascade 220. Although the knitting was complete, I could not count it as finished until we found the right buttons.  Aine and I looked together at first, but I was unable to reconcile myself to her picks, and she disliked most of mine. I decided we would look again for buttons when the whole sweater was complete. This weekend that chance arrived. Eamon helped me instead of Aine. He was certain she would dislike whatever we found. I assured him that we would pick two options, and she was sure to like one.

I was right. Aine was delighted with one of the sets of buttons we found. I thought she would when we spotted them. She has a big place in her heart for sparkly buttons. The light blue buttons match the contrasting pockets perfectly. Once the decision was made, I hurriedly sewed them onto the pullover . The sweater is now set aside to be worn on an upcoming trip to colder country. She cannot wait! I am glad we were able to find those perfect buttons.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Tiny Stitches

The mornings have been gorgeous and cool. After my walk in the brisk morning air, I have been picking up my needles to either knit or embroider for a bit. Recently I pulled out the Winterwoods sampler I bought last year from Alicia. I hesitated when she first released the pattern. I live in the southwest, and our winter is so very different from most of the United States. After our time in Virginia I changed my mind, I still love the feel of fall and the memories of my childhood spent in colder climates. With cooler weather here, it seemed the perfect time to begin the cross-stitch sampler.

Clad in jeans, a long sleeved shirt and flip flops, I took up residence on the front porch this weekend. The kiddos rode bikes and played in the driveway. Intermittently they would come over to check out my progress. Aine commented on how much she liked my shirt, a rare comment from the eight year old fashionista, who thinks her mom is rather pedestrian in her dress. Then she counted the figures on the sampler to help me figure out how much to finish each day. Eamon recounted to make sure she was correct, and because we forgot how many she had. We made a plan. So far I have two rows complete and the beginnings of a third. This meditative stitching is really perfect for me right now. My current knitting pattern requires too much concentration. The kiddos continue to race around our park and climb trees, while I marvel at the beauty of our world. With weather like this, I am sure the sampler should be done this week. It is too hard not to spend this time on the porch. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Without Wheels

For over two weeks now, our little family has been without a vehicle. We used our bikes more, took the light rail and depended quite a bit on others. Friends let us borrow their car and van, so we could easily attend services for my dad and get to a gardening class. We carpooled to park days filling up a minivan with scooters and kiddos. A trip to the farmer's market also involved a load of six kiddos and a back filled with produce. We have forgotten the lock to our bikes and been greeted with the generosity of a security guard at the grocery store who let us wheel our bikes inside. We discovered the library is so very close, although the number of books we can check out is limited again to what we can carry. Last minute Halloween costume prep was easily accomplished after a quick ride to the local, family run, fun shop. We know we can take the light rail and a bus to meet Grandma for a play without any trouble. Although we have had to change a bit of what we do day to day, our legs are stronger and our knowledge of our new neighborhood is better. I foresee weekly car-free days in our future.