Wednesday, December 26, 2012

...and the rest of our advent calendar

I've been a bit busy since December 4th.  As it turns out making an advent pocket every night and home schooling the kids proved to be all I could handle, you know along with all the other usual craziness.  Here are some of my favorite advent pockets.  The last two were made by the girls.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December 3rd and 4th advent calendar

In which we read a 'new' old Christmas book and made paper chains

Monday, December 3, 2012

Figuring the eight scarf

Oh boy, oh boy! I got a quick hour to myself yesterday.  The girls were stringing christmas lights with their grandmother and the baby was sleeping.  I decided to use the two gorgeous Japaneese print fabrics I got in Colorado to make Anna Maria Horner's Figuring the 8 scarf.  Incidentally the fabrics were both nani IRO double gauze fabrics, one eggplant the other melody sketch both heavenly to the touch.  Buying these was a bit of a splurge for me.  My justification being that I am always making things for other folks and never for myself.  It was worth it though, I have yet to take the scarf off.  (Okay, thats not entirely true I didn't sleep in it.) I keep rubbing it on my face, I just can't help it.  I did find the length to be a bit much though.  I think I'd make it about 10 inches shorter next time.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A whole pile of potential

While in Colorado I stocked up at one of my favorite fabric stores, Mama Said Sew.  I now have this whole pile of potential waiting for me.  There is something so very exciting about all these colors, all these projects yet to be made, blank project canvases to be created so to speak.  And I do have a project for each and everyone of those pieces of fabric.  Most of them are for the kids but I'll admit to letting one slip in there for me too.  I'll be posting them as we make our way through the month of December.

December 2nd

Today we'll be writing letters to Santa.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent Calendar

My crafty mama friends in Colorado inspired me to make a new advent calendar this year.  We've had a kind of junky one for years so I've just been waiting for the right kind of inspiration.  Each December I put a paper note in each day up to Christmas.  They say things like 'make window stars', 'read a Christmas book together' or deliver homemade treats to neighbors'.   This year I'll add a felt creation each day with an activity for our family to do together or for others.  Today we'll head to the Winter Faire.  Happy December to you!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The annual lantern walk

We went back to colorado for a couple weeks.  The trip was quite looked forward to throughout the fall.  And by the time we actually got to the trip it was a very needed reunion with friends.  The whole thing was an adventure as usual.  There was snowy travel though the Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies (but no snow chains needed).   There was late night mama crafting with wine, chocolate and popcorn. Tea parties with friends and lots and lots of joyful playing (both mama friends and kiddos). 

One of the highlights for me was being there for the annual lantern walk.  We spent a week making lanterns and a special hour carrying our lanterns through the dark night.  What a joy to be with our friends singing and enjoying the light.

Our Lantern Recipe:
medium to large paint brush
tissue paper (I prefer white or warm colors.  The cool colors can get too dark and thick and the light doesn't shine through as well)
Elmers glue or homemade paste (see recipe below)
hole punch
collected plant matter (leaves etc)
a stick
bees wax tea light
lighter or long matches
clothes pin and string for hanging to dry

Blow up a balloon and mix glue with a little water or use homemade paste. Rip the tissue into strips.  Paint the balloon and lay strips making sure to overlap.  Its pretty much just like making a paper mache' project if you've ever done that.  Make sure to do a layer or two and then hang it to let it dry for a day or so.  Repeat a couple times adding leaves or plant matter under the last layer if you feel so inclined.  Three or four layers should be enough.  Anymore than that might make it too thick and your light won't be very bright.  After the last drying punch holes an inch or two down from the top.  Depending on how thin your lantern is you may need to reinforce the holes on the inside with tape.  Attach wire and stick.  Put a candle in your lantern and ta-da!  You have a beautiful lantern.   

Paper mache' recipe
1/2 C all purpose flour
2 C cold water
2 C Boiling water
3 TBS sugar

Mix flour and cold water. Add to two cups boiling water and bring to boil again.  Remove from heat.  Stir in sugar.  It will thicken as it cools.  Should last a week or two if refrigerated.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Whew!  Ten days ago the kids decided they wanted to be a witch, a cat and a mouse.  Truthfully, Eoghan had no voice in the matter.  The girls decided he should be a mouse to fit in with their theme. Anyhow, I drafted up some patterns and whipped up some costumes.  I'm not going to lie, it was a little down to the wire.  At 9pm Monday night I decided my made up witches hat pattern just wasn't going to cut it.  I needed a little help.  Thank goodness for the internet and those who post free witch hat patterns! All in all I'd say things turned out pretty well.  My pattern drafting skills are improving... don't look too closely.  Our insperation for Lillian's witch costume ended up coming from Merlina and the Magic Spell by Daniela Drescher. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Last week our adventures in home schooling had us...

taking early morning walks,

 making mud birds in the woods at wildchild,

building "baby traps" at the beach, (for the record he loved the "baby traps" he spent quite a while climbing into and out of these holes.) 

Tidepooling with friends and learning about the creatures we found,

and visiting monarch butterflies in their 'winter' residence and learning about their migration patterns.

All the outdoor exploration covered our sciences for the week. We also worked on letters, reading and arithmetic.  We have started Oak Meadow because I like the Waldorf inspired curriculum.  But I've supplemented with Miquon Math because Lil seems to need more then O.M. has to offer in the math department.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Old sweater

My grandmother Jane sent this sweater, hat and tiny mittens to me when Nonie was wee.  Gran made them for my father when he was a little guy.  He is now sixty. Gotta love the lifespan of wool.    Somehow they never seemed quite to fit Nonie but they are perfect for Eoghan.  I wish I'd gotten a photo of the mittens for you, complete with little thumbs.  Also I am determined to figure out a pattern for that hat.  I know some baby friends who need just such a hat.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Apple cider mills and bee stings

Just after this we were enjoying a cup of cider when an angry yellow jacket gave Nonie her first sting.  Oh how she howled.  OUCH! I have never seen a place clear out so fast.  Darn yellow jackets.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Going home

It had been more than two years since I'd been  home to the place of my childhood.  My folks have come to see us, but somehow we have managed to stay far, far away from small town Michigan.  Fall seemed like the ideal time to travel home.  It's been, well, two years since I've seen good fall colors.  Here in sunny California the weather seems to be pretty much always the same, though I'm told they have a rainy season.

The trip there was long.  We left in the dark, took a car, a plane, a plane, a car and arrived in the dark.  But the air was crisp and smelled of fall.  How comforting to be home in the fall.  Being home involved all kinds of wonderful time with my folks.  We played madlibs, the girls played with my old barbies, Lillian helped grandpa split logs with his fancy new log splitter.  Mostly we played outside.  We collected milkweed with Nana, watched twenty sandhill cranes down the way at the pond, fed horses and breathed the fresh air while running, running, running thorough the big, huge back yard.

Can you imagine though that I walked out the door without my camera?!  It was actually in the glovebox of the car but in those wee hours of the morning I was just thinking of getting to the airport with all three kids and car seats and luggage.   I realized this travesty on the plane but then I remembered I had this great little device I like to call the iphone.  It's a new acquisition.  I was forced at gun point to purchase it when we entered Silicon Valley.  Okay that's not true but it really did take me a while to get on the smart phone wagon.  Anyhow, I wasn't in love with the shots the iphone camera takes so I found Instagram.  It's got some fun little filters that make the photos not quite so terrible.  I do like the old-time-y feel to them.  Seems fitting for going home right?!  I think I'll mostly post photos this week.  Happy October!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First grade

The one thing I've regretted about homeschooling this year is Lillian missing the waldorf tradition of the rose ceremony.  In waldorf schools children don't approach the academic portion of learning until first grade.   At the start of the school year the whole school attends a ceremony welcoming the first graders into academics.  It is a beautiful ceremony where the child walks up to the teacher with her parents on either side and is welcomed to first grade and given a rose.  Afterward the teacher tells some version of a story about a child or children wishing to learn and how they find a teacher to teach them. 

I've been thinking about having a rose ceremony for Lil ever since we decided to home school.  Life has been chaos lately but marvel of marvels it just happened to come together today.  We found roses and strawberries at the farmers market.  (She had requested strawberry shortcake for the tea after the ceremony.)  We all dressed up and our own little family had a rose ceremony in the back yard.  It was short and simple and beautiful and I was rather pleased with my story.   Welcome to first grade Lillian!  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On gardening

Our garden in Colorado this year consisted of a few lettuces, peas and some spinach thrown hellter-skelter in the garden bed in March while I held a baby in the other arm.  They grew well and were quite delicious even if not organized.  But after early June there wasn't much left as everything went to seed.  It was a hot summer in Colorado.  June saw temps in the low 100's.  Well if you know me, you know I love to have fresh veggies at hand.  When we arrived here five weeks ago the back yard was full of beautiful growing garden beds.  My in-laws enjoy a good garden as much as I do.  Things have started to end for the season though.  So we dug up a bed and added some more good soil and planted another crop.  Hooray for California and the LOOOOOOONG growing season.  I think I'm going to enjoy this gardening all year thing.

Friday, September 7, 2012

On being the new kids

Okay so you'll see me put on a good face about moving.  And most of the time I do feel that way.  But in all honesty being the new kid is hard some times, okay most of the time; at least in the begining.  You don't know anyone, you don't know where stuff is, you get sick, you get lost.  And you tell yourself: "relish in being a little bit lost and a little bit bored and a little bit lonely because in a few months it'll be in the past and you'll be so busy you won't have any down time."  You tell yourself it'll all be great and then you wait for it to happen.  Well yesterday, it really was great!   It was one of those days that makes me say 'yep this is going to be GREAT!  We're really going to like it here!'

Yesterday we spent six hours in the woods and fields of a local-ish park.  Once a week (or maybe twice if we can find the time)  Lillian will go play in the woods, all day; the little wild child.  We've found a group with two amazing leaders and a bunch of six and seven year olds who do just that.  They'll build forts out of sticks and leaves, learn how to build fires, whittle, play games, collect and learn the wild plants and critters, eat without washing their hands first, and learn bird calls, just to name a few.  Lillian is a hard sell on most things new.  But yesterday she didn't want to leave and she can't wait for next week.  One of the other moms at pick up said this is her litmus test for whether an activity is good or not:  how easy it is to drop off and how hard it is to pick up  (as in kiddos can't wait to get there and don't want to leave)  Too true mama!  I think we may have found some kindred spirits at last.

While Lillian was off romping in the woods Nonie, Eoghan and I had our own adventures.  We hiked in the woods too for about two hours.  Then we found a beautifully quite, sunny spot on a hill with a view and a play ground.  We made a 'garden' and 'cooked' food and read books and ate snacks while Eoghan practiced crawling and standing.  It was hard to leave when it was time to go get Lillian we were in just such a good spot.

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend.  I think we're off for an adventure in San Francisco.  I'll tell you all about it next week. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This family places a lot of value in books.  The wealth of knowledge they can offer has always seemed like such a treasure to me.  Our children seem to have adopted the same philosophy.  Eoghan has seemed to understand from the very start that books are well, neat!  He and I spent the first two weeks of his life in bed, per our midwife's recommendation.  Next to our bed was a built in bookshelf filled with books.  Eoghan would stare at it for ages.  I'm sure he didn't do it because he knew they were books (though I told him) but because of the beautiful colors and sizes of all the spines lined up in rows along the shelves.

We go to the library once a week and I spend a lot of time reading to the girls.  Eoghan was starting to feel left out and his fingers just can't manages the paper pages yet.  Thus we started getting him his own books at the library.  He loves them!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Art fair


We found a great little art fair in town.  Perhaps my favorite bit about the whole thing (aside from the food truck)was the 'chalk walk'.  Various artists bought space on a cordoned off street and had two days to create their masterpieces.  At the end of the street there was room for kids to get their own small square (pastels provided).  By the end of the weekend the street was absolutely awash in color.   Not to be passed over was the art.  My favorite artist by far was Nobe Art.  As you can imagine it wasn't appropriate to take pictures of the actual art but check out the web page.  Well worth it in my opinion. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

On this gray misty morning I have found myself alone for a few minutes. Alone! as in all by myself... with no one else around!  It's just me and a hot cup of tea over the smell of cooking blueberry pancakes and ham.  Heaven! I am so grateful for these moments! To breath in the peace before the kids wake and the energy level rises.  Wishing everyone a peaceful Friday and a merry weekend.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Forest, Field and Sea part 3

 And here we are at part three; the sea.  It had been two years since our last visit to the ocean!  The girls were apprehensive at first.  That water is big and powerful.  But after a bit they were building sand castles and playing tag with the waves.  Eoghan for his part was thrilled as sand is his new favorite thing.  He's happy to run his fingers through it, squeeze it in his little fist, army crawl through it and oh yes taste it.