Sunday, January 31, 2010

Papa's Birthday

This weekend was papa's birthday and it was a good one. :)
We headed up to my parents' house for the weekend and then on Saturday we went to visit our friends who are awaiting their new baby.  It was soooo good to see them.  Their little family is so sweet, their house beautiful, their company ever so encouraging in the "oh you are still my dear, dear friend" kind of way, and the cupcakes superb. :) Thank you "O's" for having us for a visit this weekend.  We love you. 

We ended the day with a nice supper with the grandparents and some cozy bedtimes.  Perhaps this doesn't sound like a sparkly kind of day to some of you, but it was for us.  The whole weekend was really good actually and it is still finishing up tonight. (the boys are getting ready for our Sunday night "Nature" episode on pbs right now....come on boys... get those teeth brushed!) 
Some other things that I haven't had time to mention to you...from the past few days.... 
making sandpaper letters for Owl.....
cracking nuts at Grandma's...who knew that would be so much fun?
and....good conversations on the drive....good playtimes & walks with grandpa....making apple pie with cocoa with peppermint sticks....drawing with grandma...chess with grandpa....and other cozy times.

and then.... home again... to the pleasant surprise of opening the front door of our house and realizing how much I love it here.  I have the tendency, you see, to love beautiful things and this sometimes can lead to discontentment.  Our friends' house is so lovely....grandma's house is so lovely....and our house is....well....old.  And we have never bought real furniture, not to mention artwork for the walls.  For the most part, I am usually proud of us for this as it is really important to both J & I to live within our means.  And truly we do have so very, very much.  We have gotten very good at making do with what we have and making something beautiful out of not much at all.  I am grateful to learn this.  Yet, sometimes the grass does seem greener, if you know what I mean.  And I'll admit that the last part of the drive home today, I was thinking about how our house still needs so much work and thinking about what color to paint the walls as if that would somehow help.  So.... I was indeed pleasantly surprised to find my feelings do a complete turn around as I walked in our home... as I realized that our house is lovely too.  Just the way it is.  I love it here.  I love the space we've been given, and I love what we've done to it too.  
That's all for now.  Time to settle in for cozy bedtimes. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pirates in the Kitchen

Today we had a special birthday dinner for Papa at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  We got to bring the birthday cake....or....rather...birthday pie.  J loves pie. :) and I love to make's a win, win situation. :)  Did I ever tell you about the time when J and I were first dating and he ate an entire apple pie that I had made? in one sitting...the whole thing.  He really loves apple pie.  Good thing we have apple trees. :)

So when I ask him what kind of birthday cake he wants he almost always says...yeah, you guessed pie!  But this year I wanted to try something different, and when a friend gave me a recipe for French Silk Pie I knew it was just the thing!  I had never made one before because I thought it was complicated, but it was really pretty easy, especially with such great little helpers as I had in the kitchen with me today!
Happy (early) Birthday Papa!  We love you!
and also a big Happy Birthday to my mom!  She may or may not be turning a very "special" number today!  We love you Grandma J!  I will try to save you a piece of pie, but I can't make any promises.....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Here are some of the drawings the boys have done over the past few days.  Each boy has their own unique style of course and I find it quite fascinating.  Watching them draw is like catching a little glimpse into their minds.  It's one of my favorite things to do actually.  

Badger's artwork....

some prehistoric animals
a woodland scene....complete with labels...he likes to do that sometimes....
this one he drew because the camera was out of batteries and he wanted to remember this playtime he was having with his brothers.  they are lying on the bedroom lying on top of badger....papa said, "i wish i had my camera." badger said, "it's ok papa. i'll draw it for you." :)  the perspective is kind of funky... an aerial view?
This one is very different from others he has done and I like it. 
He's been studying animal tracks and is making a field guide.  

Cricket's artwork....
some scuba divers and sea snakes and treasure and a squid

a pirate ship, a sea monster and a banded sea snake (sea the pirate with the sword? and the yellow crab?)

Knight and dragon. (i love this one)
medieval scene (i love the colors)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hen's Haircut and other Happenings is our beautiful boy before.....
See his whispy hair by his ears? :)  So sweet isn't it?  
Yet, at the same time, says J, there is something about the whispy thin hair, that reminds one of.....Gollum.   So it was time to get out the scissors.  Hen didn't mind at all.  He sat in Papa's lap while, I took one last long look at his beautiful babyness and then snip, snip.  Carefully collecting the fuzzy softness in an envelope for the scrapbook.
And here he is looking more like a boy.  *sigh*  It was bound to happen.  I just keep reminding myself to embrace what is and let what was slip into the realm of carefully tucked away memories.  To be revisited often. Not too often. Just often enough to keep the present rich with meaning and understanding.

Other happenings this weekend.....
Lingering over breakfast with my J and coffee(oooo, the french press is really great!) I love weekend mornings.
Baking oatmeal scotchies with Badger.  He continues to be so interested and successful in the kitchen.  It's fun to share that with him.

Papa had a great, long playtime with Owl and Hen sitting in his lap watching the traffic from the upstairs bedroom window.  Hen standing looking out the window at times while Papa and Owl play monsters on the floor.  I love watching them play together.  Owl is so in love with his papa.  All the boys are really.  He is such a good papa and I am blessed to have him as my partner.
Owl wearing his Harry Potter scarf that I finally finished!  He loves it oh so much. Hurray!  There was much HP play this weekend inspired by the new costume piece.  At one point, all three of the older boys were walking around the house under Harry's invisibility cloak (an old blanket) trying to get to Hagrid's.  :)

There was also a nice tea time yesterday where the boys set up a maze city on the table while they sipped their tea.  I'm not sure of the specifics of it, but it looked fun.  J and I attempted cribbage in the other room, but mostly we watched Hen as he walked around the train table and Millie as she attempted to eat Hen's socks.

And today is Monday again.  Fresh snow is falling after all the melting we had here this past week, and the white brightness of it reminds me of our Creator and I am "filled up" again.  And I'm glad to be starting our week in this way.  Thank you God...... for....for all of it.

Blessings on your week, friends. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

We love yarn

When I was a girl my mom taught me how to do all kinds of interesting things.  Like how to clean greenware and use a kiln and glaze things (not cinnamon rolls, ceramics) and how to paint on fabric and to crossstitch with pretty colored yarns.  I remember she also taught me how to finger knit once.  I think she mostly wanted to keep me quiet and busy and quiet.  I was always singing.  And I'm pretty sure it's truthful to say that it wasn't like nice little girl singing that is so sweet and just a pleasure to be around.  I'm pretty sure, since my Cricket is the same as I was (so my mother says), that it was the kind of singing that was loud and excited and never-ending.  Do you know that kind? Yeah.  I remember her saying things like, "please stop singing. did you hear me? stop singing." um okay mom. then a little bit of silence, then more singing.  I just would forget.  It's true.  To this day she does not believe me, but I really just would forget and Cricket forgets too.  And I when I ask him to stop singing, (which I try to remember to do only once in when I'm nursing a sleepy baby, reading a story to Owl, and checking Badger's math problems all at the same time....)  I feel really connected to my mom (and to myself) and I love my little boy all the more for being his loud, crazy self.

Aah, I wandered a bit just there....

Well, I'm not sure if the finger knitting kept me quiet, but I do remember really liking it. :)  I loved the feel of the yarn.  I loved that something "straight" could make something three dimensional just by the way you twisted and looped it around.  Fun times.

It wasn't until much later that I wanted to learn to knit.  I think I was in my late teens.  I asked my mom to show me.  Afterall, she really does know how to do everything. :)  She showed me and I struggled to get it.  It wasn't easy to learn from seeing someone else do it.  And I admit, that although I firmly believe my mom is the coolest mom on the planet in most is a little hard to learn how to knit from a lefty.  So I made a few scarves, struggling all the while, and then put it away for awhile.

Then I got pregnant with Badger and I just had to knit some baby socks.  A teacher that I worked with had made some for a friend and showed them to me and I couldn't believe how cute they were. Eek! Get me some yarn! I gotta make me some of those!  And so I figured out how to turn a heel from a book and the rest is history.  Actually, just for the record, learning how to knit from a book was at first so complicated that once I figured it out I felt like I could read anything and know it.  I may just read a book about auto mechanics next.

Here are two knitting projects that we finished lately.  
These are mittens I made for J.  They took me...well... a long time to finish.  But they were fun to make and J said they keep his fingers toasty warm. :)

These are the first project I've made that have two color stranding (or whatever it's called)  See how the inside has the yarn traveling around with the pattern so that it looks almost reversible?

Here is a project that Badger made!  I am so pleased that he is knitting.  Like for real, knitting.  I tried showing him how a year or so ago and he didn't take to it right away.  This time he watched me do a few stitches and then just took off with it.  :)  He made this ipod case for papa for Christmas.  It took him only two weeks, working on it only during quiet time, and when he finished it he said, "I thought I'd never finish it!"  He loved picking out just the right button from the button jar for it and sewing it on himself. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What we've been up to...

Another couple of lovely days with my boys.  I didn't take too many pictures, because...well...i was too busy enjoying the moment to think of it.  

The boys had a friend over for the day on Tuesday.  He fits into our family really well.  I remember one of the times he came over there was a cool conversation between Cricket and he.  The boy was holding a plastic snake and said something like, "did you know this is a reticulated python? that's my favorite kind of snake."  Cricket says, "Yes I did.  They are cool, but my favorite kind is the western grass snake (or something like that) because they live in Wisconsin." And the boys says, "yes I've seen those before...." and they have this whole conversation about things they both know about and love.  Keep in mind these boys are five years old.  His mom and I just kinda laugh and she mentions something about real "peers" and we both are grateful for this.  One thing that makes homeschooling easier is knowing there are other families out there who understand because they are going through it too.  "It" being this really indefinable "thing" that has to do with having kids like ours and being us and living life...and when I figure it all out someday(?) i'll write more about it...

And....Millie was spayed yesterday.  Oh, man.  Having a dog spayed is the equivalent of a full hysterectomy.  ouch.  Needless to say I had such mixed emotions about this and it was a tough decision for me, but ultimately I left it up to J who is being very gracious about letting us have a dog at all.  And of course, he said "no puppies" when I asked him his opinion.  LOL.  um, okay.  Anyway, she is doing well today and is even feeling well enough to be up to her regular puppy antics like pulling the baby's socks off and trying to steal the baby wipes. (yeah, she eats them. *sigh*)

And today we read more Prince Caspian and worked on our puzzle and made granola bars and had a visit with Grandma D.  They are upstairs playing in their room with her just now in fact.  I can hear her patiently trying to play Star Wars Legos (eek! all the pieces) while Cricket sings the Star Wars theme song at the top of his lungs.  Ever since we started our weekly walk together, play times with Grandma are going much better.  This way we get our gabbing done during our walk and they get her undivided attention when she is here. :)

Well....I'm going to go stir the creamy potato, mushroom, kale soup.  (just made this up, hope it's good) and then we're going to shape the pretzels.

Check back in later for some knitting pictures.....including a project that Badger finished!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Building with Spice Drops

I got this idea from my sister-in-law, and well, the spice drops just happened to be on sale at Farm n Fleet. ha ha.  The boys had a fun time and I was glad to supply them with yet another way to build.  
This summer, when the boys were meeting a new friend, Badger was showing her his legos and he said, "I was born to build!"  :)  I love it that he feels so good about it. :)Little Owl spent lots of time with this and it was great!  He built walls and then the other boys made the walls into a castle.

Crickets' guy.  Complete with sword and gauntlet.  When Cricket builds he always makes guys.  Or animals, especially snakes which is his latest passion.  The black mamba is his favorite poisonous snake.  You'd have to ask him for the details about his other favorites.
I just love this picture of me and Hen.  Hen is such a sweet little mancub.  He is crazy active and loud these days, but sweet and little and fun.  And I love this picture because I think it captures the contentment that has crept into my soul despite some hard circumstances that have occurred lately.  Oh nothing life shattering...but the kind that weigh heavy on your heart and you wish you could do something to change it but realize that you can not.'s okay.  And despite the sorrow, I also have peace....a deep, still kind of peace...that steadies me....and makes me grateful for what I have and for the love that surrounds me.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beautiful Weekend

My honey last night, relaxing by the computer.  We hang out on Saturday nights watching Dr. Who and snuggling on the couch.  We've both been kind of tired lately, so it was nice to have a restful night together.  (see in the picture one of the Harry Potter scarves i'm knitting for the boys?)
This morning when we woke the trees were beautifully covered with frost again today.  

I journeyed out with the puppy and she and I reveled in the snowy air.  The frost was amazing. Such beautiful shapes.

The last of the rose hips that the deer haven't found.  I've been growing this wild rose that sprang up in the most unlikely place. (in the gravel driveway) I transplanted it this past year to the side flower garden, much to the dismay of my friend who is a gardener (you know that's a weed, don't you?) It actually flowered this year and made beautiful rose hips.  I'm hoping to harvest them eventually.  They are super high in vitamin C and are good for using in all sorts of things.

Such beautiful shapes.

And here is a picture of our puzzle that we are working on.  The boys picked this one out because it is Hedwig. (of course)  Badger and I have had some really great conversation sitting working on the puzzle.

I love the weekend time.  We had a nice day yesterday of being home together and going sledding at the big hill here in town.  Today we went shopping at Farm n Fleet (strange, but the boys loved it) and did some household tasks to get ready for the week.  We are wrapping it up tonight with a family time of watching Nature on PBS, which is our Sunday night ritual.  Boys are all jammied and snuggled in on the couch.  I'm ready to get out my knitting and settle in too.  G'night.

On the menu this week....

This week we are just going to have a supper menu.  I am trying to focus more time on the boys and finding time to knit so breakfast and lunch will be all the delicious, healthy things we usually have just on the fly.

S - homemade pizza
M- chicken florentine pasta
T- sloppy lentils on homemade whole wheat buns
W- potato soup a la crock pot w/salad and homemade soft pretzels
Th- Nachos w/beans and rice and fixin's
F- Roast chicken, mashed taters, and a veggie (this never got made last week...)
S- Chicken soup with rice (chicken soup, chicken soup, chicken soup with Ri-ice!)
S- Something with chickpeas and rice or lentils and rice....

and I'm going to try this fabulous chocolate cake recipe from my friend M.E. because I'm thinking of entering our local Death by Chocolate baking contest.  sounds fun, right?

What's cookin' at your house this week? I'd like to know! Leave a comment!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

These Past Few Days

Sometimes something happens....I can't precisely say what the something is.....usually for me it is a series of circumstances and a stirring of my heart and the result is part of me is awakened and I see things clearly.  I love it when this happens, and I admit that it usually has very little to do with anything that I am doing.  Perhaps even it happens despite me.

I used to think that the "seeing clearly" was the point of it all.  Then for awhile I thought, "well it really means nothing if seeing clearly doesn't change anything....if it doesn't change me..." Perhaps to some extent this is true.

But this time, a few days ago, the something happened again.  It started with a day of chaos with the boys, some hormones, and a messy house. (stirring begins) Then a phone call from a friend sharing with me something about parenting that hit home. (more stirring) Then a little bit of feeling sorry for myself which left me more unsettled still.  

Then that night I stumbled upon this blog.  Bring the Rain.  I can't even begin to tell you the circumstances of this woman's life and yet the circumstances aren't even the most important part of the story.  I read her blog (a little more stirring) and her story changed me.

And I realized that it isn't about seeing clearly, or about waking up and changing to be better, it is about the relationship with God, the One who awakens me.

(i'm sorry if mentioning this makes you uncomfortable.  but if you are my friend, then you would want to know what is important to me, right?  i'm hoping this is so anyway...)

Also in the past few days...we got a new camera! Hurray! and a new french press! hurray, hurray! And I had some nice time with the boys...them playing and me watching them and talking with them while I knit.  And we made eggrolls.  Mom's recipe.  Which means, since I did it all by myself this time, that I am officially an adult.  ha ha!  Check out these pics.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hang on Tight

Today we had a snow day. :)  It didn't snow at all today, but that didn't matter, we still have over a foot outside.  In fact, most places in our wilderness of a yard come up to about my knee. (Can you picture me with the babe in the pack hanging on to Owl's little hand so he can stand up in the drifts?)  So we decided to celebrate it all as a way to embrace what we've been given.
It started with snowflake pancakes.  I didn't take a pic of them (remember the dying camera) but you can see some cool snowflake food ideas here.  (the snowflake quesadillas are especially cute!)  There was also some snowflake making (the paper kind) and lots and lots of playing outside in the snow.  The weather was beautiful today (above 20 degrees!!! whoo hooo! it feels so warm after the cold, cold, cold that we've had lately) We stayed out sledding on the hill until we had to bring little Hen in to warm up.  Then we had some hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies.
Yes, Badger is actually sweaty from his sledding time.  He was determined to pack down the snow and see how far the sled would go (a little farther each time...) and was up and down that hill so many times!  
This picture captures Cricket's more "grown-up" look that can be seen more and more every day.  He is really growing and is now as tall as Badger.  He's also starting to be more independent from B these days, and is developing a real friendship with Owl.  It's interesting to watch.  They are growing up so fast and part of me wishes I could keep them little forever. 

As I was writing that last little bit, I was reminded of what kind of men I want them to be when they grow up, which reminded me of this conversation.....

Today Cricket and Badger were discussing a past "incident" involving the eating of chili (not their favorite thing) and how Badger was really disrespectful to Papa during the incident.  And Badger said to Cricket, "well at least you were on my side." And Cricket replied in a concerned tone, "yeah, well I was, but I'm not going to be on your side anymore when you go against papa.  Because I want you to turn into a good man B."  wow. yeah.  I am not in this alone.  We are all invested in each other.

And also....
We got out the train track and cars today.  When we cleaned up the toy room we moved the train table to a different room with the intention of setting it up for little Hen.  Today we set up the track and got Thomas and his friends all ready to go.  Hen was enchanted with it.  He sat and watched Badger push the train round and round the track until B decided he didn't want to play that anymore.  (he had done it at least 20 times. )  Then, when B left the room Hen scooted over to the table and tried it out for himself!  Pulled himself right up! 
He also makes a pretty good Chugga-chugga sound.  And when I told him to "hang on" as he was a little wobbly while standing there (did you see he was holding on with just one hand?) he repeated me...."haan on".  Um, okay little buddy.  I will.