Steeked, Staked, Stoked

I’m not entirely certain how to start this post. I had every intention of blogging regularly over the last two years, but it didn’t happen. And then I was so embarrassed that it hadn’t happened that I was too afraid to start it up again. I talked with a friend this morning about fear. (Actually we covered many topics. I’ve learned that parents of small children are able to efficiently cover a sometimes alarming range of topics in a brief conversation as well as drop a topic to explain why charging head first into anything isn’t a good idea, fix lunch, and discuss playground options before picking it back up with a simple, “Oh, speaking of.”) But the one topic that stuck with me was fear. I fear many, many things, and somehow those fears and some bad experiences lead me to give up places I had staked out as mine. Now I’m trying to not let fear stop me from doing the things I love to do. And this blog was something I treasured, so I’m going to metaphorically reclaim it!

So, inadequate explanation aside, I’m here to say that I knit Ginny a sweater!

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Then I measured and machine stitched it with bright safety orange thread.

And then I cut it!

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(And then my sister said, “Hey, hold it open. (Dramatic pause.) Ewwww, you can see its guts!” She’s always a good one to have in tense situations.)

And then I sewed it together one sleeve at a time.

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And now I can say with a voice of experience and knowledge, “Oh yes, I have done steeks! And you can, too!”

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They’ve long intrigued me. I knew that conceptually it should work, and there are hundreds of years of evidence to show it works. There are plenty of knitters out there who say it works. However, the general dread of cutting your hard earned knitting keeps lots of people back from it. Let me assure you that you and, perhaps more comforting, your knitting will survive.

And now that I’ve done a child version that will all too soon be outgrown, I’m looking forward to knitting one for an adult or maybe some matchy-matchy ones for the kids. But, for now I have a bit of a crafting back log to get through. And, I’m pretty stoked to be back at documenting it.

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Letting Go

During my long blogging absence the kids went from this:

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to this:

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(Despite appearances, she is still a quite happy child.)

I’m having a little trouble letting go.

They are growing faster than I can think. Every day they both say something funny or smart or crazy that amazes me. Time doesn’t give me much choice; I can’t keep them little forever. I can, however, hold on to the things of their childhood. But, that could get fairly dangerous because kids come with a lot of stuff, and I already tend toward the pack-rat end of the human spectrum. Bob and I are working together to keep it under control, and we’ve culled a lot out of our possessions. But some of the things we come across are problematic.

While I was pregnant with Ginny, Bobby and I made her a set of 8 flannel burp cloths. They were wonderful while she was little and going through that baby stage of burping up part of every meal. When I get all weepy over the passing of childhood and need to remind myself that it is good that children grow out of stages I think of how glad I am that we don’t go through all of life puking up at least part of everything we consume. (Yeah, just take that mental picture path.) And, they were nice to lay on the floor for tummy time and they were easy and colorful and double-sided so as to better coordinate with whatever we were wearing (because it’s my fantasy and in that I’m totally put together like that) and when it came time to cull the belongings, I just couldn’t part with them.

But, part of what we’re doing is trying to make sure we have a use or purpose for everything, and their original use is gone. So, of course, they’re becoming a quilt. She is in a twin size bed now and the little quilt I made her for her first Christmas isn’t going to cut it for long. But, also of course, I couldn’t just cut the edges, sew a bunch of squares together and call it good. I have a habit of wanting to make things more challenging difficult interesting. It’s a problem when paired with the perfectionism I’m trying to overcome (there’s a logical problem there, I’m sure.). And, I thought that maybe it would help the quilt look more unified if the fabrics were a bit more mixed. So, I did half square triangles. They’re quick, easy, and fantastically versatile.  I am a tad obsessed with all the different ways they can be laid out. I’ve spent more time trying out different layouts than I did cutting and sewing them.

The only problem is deciding which layout to use and letting go of the others.

 

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Rusty

I may be a little rusty at this. When I had the chance to think about it, I missed it. But, I’m hoping that with a few less responsibilites (I’m taking a year off from teaching) and a little more sleep, I’ll be ready to start blogging again.

We’ll be back soon.

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Advent Days

This advent calendar thing is going great! Some days have been a little hairy, and I’m figuring out where my kids are as far as attention span and small motor skills go, but on the whole it’s a great success so far. Bobby is totally pumped to open the bag each night. I’m thinking that as the kids get older we’ll have to develop some sort of sharing system. Right now Ginny’s cool playing with other things, but I can see a day when that will not be the case. But, I digress, on to our fun times!

Day 2

We made little button wreaths. I should have cut down the size of the pipe cleaners. Bobby took one look at the thickness of the buttons, the length of the pipe cleaner, and I could see him figuring out that this was going to take forever. But, he stuck with it a good while. Ginny got into it as well. They’re just nuts about buttons. So we had that on our side. When they were done Bob pulled out wire cutters, we made circles, and added a ribbon for hanging it on the tree. 

And his face just cracks me up.

Day 3

With a full day to make and clean up a mess, and grandparents coming for dinner, what better day would there be to make sugar cookies! 

I’ll admit, I had hoped in my idealistic way to make our own dough and frosting, but we settled for a tube of dough.

I don’t think they noticed or minded.

Day 4

This one and the one that goes with it have me pretty excited, but also a little nervous. And, Bob had to not watch for part of this day. He’s not too into the messes… …

We worked on decorating felt ornaments. We had glitter glue (totally the way to go in my opinion), sequins, and pom-poms. Oh the pom-poms. They love those things.  We also had a little cup of white school glue with q-tips that Bobby told me later he really liked. Not sure what angle he was working there, but I haven’t found it squeezed into anything yet, and am hoping for the best.

We ended up with some fun ornaments that were surprisingly all dry this morning. I thought they’d take a while with how enthusiastic he was with the glitter glue. But they turned out great.

Day 5

I had to do a last minute tag switch tonight, but we still had fun cutting out snowflakes.

We’ve been working on using scissors when I remember. (Or when I’ve sufficiently recovered from the most recent scissor incident. Last time it was cutting his shirt to make Ginny some clothes…) It was kind of tough for him to cut through all the layers, but he still tried and came up with some flowers and clouds.

He also told us we did a good job as reopened our snowflakes. What a guy!
Tomorrow we’re going to use our felt ornaments to decorate this tree.

Which is one of those rare projects that comes out almost exactly as I had imagined it. It was supposed to be tonight’s activity, but the tree wasn’t assembled yet. So, I suppose it was almost exactly as I had imagined it, just one day later than I had thought.

Hope you all are having fun with your holidays!

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Advent Calendar

I love traditions, the ideas of predictability and continuity, but we don’t have a lot that I can think of in our family so far. I think my kids are just getting to the ages where we can start them and actually make them work, and Bob and I do want to have them. So this year we’re starting with the advent calendar. I am super excited about what it is this year and what it can be in years to come. My first plan was a typical pocket style wall hanging and little gifts in each pocket.

But a friend told me that she had found that all her stocking stuffer ideas were used up in the advent calendar. Seeing as how I have a grand total of two ideas for that I was pretty worried about the future of any advent calendars in our home. Plus the whole never finishing them part. (I’ll probably still make the others in the future. When I was growing up we had a little mouse that moved from pocket to pocket and the excitement of watching him move down to the next week was pretty incredible. But, clearly this was not going to work for this year.)

Then I saw on pinterest (super handy site, by the way) an activity advent calendar. There are some activities she lists that aren’t yet age appropriate for my two, but I really like the idea. I love the holidays, and Christmas is the absolute most anticipated time of year. Besides the music, which is rumored to play throughout the year in our house, my favorite part is all the time you can spend with family. (I really don’t think we as a culture get as much time just living with each other as we should, but that’s a whole other discussion.)

So, this advent calendar that emphasizes doing and making things together to decorate our home, to feed our family (even if it’s cookies), to give away to friends. Those are parts of the holidays that I’d like to draw attention to for Bobby and Ginny. With the help of my sister, Bob, and the creative people whose projects have been pinned, there are now 24 brown paper bags lined up along the ledge next to our table.

Each one has a little card with an activity for the day and in the bag are all of the supplies for it. (Or almost all in some cases. Certain things were a tad too large.) So, each day at a time appropriate to the activity it holds we open the bag.

Bobby pulls the “stuff” out and finds the little card with the description.

And we go at it. Tonight we had hot cocoa with candy canes!

I’m hoping that in all the busy holiday rushing this helps us remember to spend time with each other and gives us a chance to slow down and appreciate the season.

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I Think I See a Light Down There

I’ve been swamped. It’s funny how you never realize how much you can actually do (and how little sleep you can do it all with) until you have to. I’m working more than I had planned to, and while it’s a good problem, it has been a problem. But, things are going to be winding down soon and then I’ll be able to breathe a bit again. (Plus, I’ve started drinking coffee again. Amazing how much that has helped.)

We’re all here, and we’re all excited for the upcoming holidays. Our house was inhabited briefly by a tiger earlier today. But he left, Bobby showed up smelling vaguely of baby-wipes, and assured us that he was friendly now.

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Busy Bees

We’ve been doing lots around here:

Picking raspberries. Yes, she’s decked out in a knit sweater and pants. It’s chilly out there! She was very excited to pick raspberries (and leaves, and bugs) and even managed to eat a few. She did, though, have trouble with the vegetation she had to walk through. Hazards of being just over 2 feet tall I suppose.

Getting first haircuts. She was impressively calm, during the haircut but I didn’t get a decent “after” picture, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say she is still wonderfully adorable, if a little less ragamuffinesque.

We’ve been making lots of cooking messes. It’s been two full weeks now since I had anything to eat that I haven’t made myself. Bobby loves to help with anything he can and you can see where his little fingers left tracks in the flour of one of our bread experiments. We do clean up after ourselves.

But, sometimes even when you’re putting the brown sugar away things happen and the container goes spilling down to the floor. Luckily we have a little boy who happily wields a broom.

On the cooking front things are going better. This is one of my favorites: tomato sauce in the crockpot. It was a little heavy on the oregano, but I can fix that next time.

I’ve also figured out some tasty bread. It takes three rises, and I need to actually write down the amounts of what I’m putting in the bowl. So far it’s been eye-balled, but it turned out so well the last time that I really need to figure out what I did. It was deliciously yummy.

And, lastly, we went to the fair, where Bobby rode rides and Ginny looked on explaining in articulate baby-ese that she was also big enough. I mostly managed to distract her with Cheerios.

Other than that we’ve been working on figuring out food and our schedules and routines as we settle into the school year. It’s still in a lot of flux, but in the upcoming weeks we should get truly settled in. Then we can find new ways to change things up again.

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