February 28, 2013

good morning from narnia

I'm sure C.S. Lewis wasn't thinking of the Vermont woods after a snowstorm when he described the winter forest in Narnia, but really, it's a perfect fit. All day yesterday we had heavy, wet snow falling and this morning we woke up to an even whiter world than usual. It's breathtaking, truly. My photographs don't do it justice.

While Briton played with a friend yesterday, Evie and I had a sewing lesson. Her first using a pattern and the machine. She picked out (bright, but oh so Evie) fabric at the store the other day and a pattern and asked me to get enough extra so that we could make Eliza a dress to match (naturally). So with the boys banging around upstairs we ironed and cut out the pattern and the fabric and read through the directions. She doesn't love the ironing part. I got a sign that read "Why do I have to?" when I told her we couldn't start sewing until everything was pressed. Not surprising. I hated having to wait while my fabric got washed and then ironed before I could start too. Actually, I still hate that part, I just do it because I know I should.

Today (at last!) we start the sewing. Her goal is to have it done in time to wear it on the first day back, which I think is attainable.  It's a pretty easy pattern other than the zipper. But it is our first try. So we'll see.

We are trying to grow an avocado plant. I don't know why but I never have good luck with that. This time, however, something is definitely pushing up through the top of the seed. Fingers crossed it will work this time. I'm also on the hunt for a really good, soft, honey wheat bread recipe. Something like the one they make at Great Harvest. Yesterday I made a pretty good one with this recipe, but the top didn't rise very well. Maybe I need a different shaped pan. Anyone have good tips on making wheat bread that white bread lovers will like? Or a recipe they love? I'm sick of white bread. Plus I'm going through a bread making phase. It's nice to see it rising away next to the woodstove.

I can't quite believe the week is almost over. Where did it go? We still have two more days off next week, although one of them will be taken up mostly with the town meeting. I must admit that I'm kinda excited to attend my first town meeting. So very Gilmore Girlsy! I didn't think that actually happened, but it seems that it really does. 

February 27, 2013

a little sweater

A wee little sweater, knit up over the course of two evenings for Miss Eliza with the pink hair. Or more precisely, one sweater knit up one evening that was too long, too big and too boringly dark green and another knit up the next night with nice smooshy yarn and a better sense of proportions. I've got all sorts of knitting patterns floating around in my head these days. Some afternoon I'll sit down and write my notes up into something legible instead of just strange markings on graph paper written this way and that depending on where I was sitting when I needed to note something down.

This morning I got up before everyone else. I wish I could convince myself to do that more often. It's hard to climb out of a warm bed and come down to a cold living room when you don't really have to, but I'm always happy when I do. A chance to sit in the quiet with a cup of tea some yummy infused honey and some yellowy-yellow yarn. It reminds me of Harvest Gold 1970's living rooms.That particular yarn has been ripped out too many times to count, but I think I've figured it out at last. A scarf! Which I never knit because they get boring. Except I think this one will keep me interested. At least I hope so.

Today my girl and I are starting a new project together, we're both pretty excited. So I better get off and get started with it. Because someone is looking at me with an impatient little grin.

February 22, 2013

friday before break

Well after a long day that ended with good news, all is well here. But we are ready, so so ready, for a  week off of school. Time to sleep in and not have to worry about homework or tests or making sure everyone has their gloves and boots and gym shoes and binder and snack and, and, and before mom and dad are fully awake in the morning. Ah, break. I'm sure by the end of the week I'll be done with you, but at the moment, I can't wait for school to be out and vacation to begin.

February 21, 2013

spring leaves

This morning we are off, bright and very very early (before it's bright, actually) to Burlington for a series of doctors appointments for Evie. It's nothing serious but will not be terribly fun for my sweet girl.

Instead of dwelling on it too much (as moms tend to do) I'll try to focus on waking up yesterday to this out our window. A world of snow frosted trees. And this, my newly finished oak leaf cowl. It turned out a bit big and I'm not sure if I love that or hate it. I must love it because I wear it all the time. But I'm planning to rework the pattern and try again in fall colors, so I have spring and fall oak leaves. And maybe dark brown too for winter. It'll be a set! When I've got the kinks worked out I'll put it on Ravelry I think, if I can decipher my chart, that is. It got a little messy toward the end.

Time to hit the road and leave the woods for the city.

February 20, 2013

hang dry

When we lived in Ireland, one of my friends lived in a classic straight up and down Georgian town house that I loved, especially since we lived in about half a floor of a similarly sized building. Besides being pretty jealous of her large kitchen, and gigantic bathtub (truly, her bathroom was bigger than our bedroom) I was completely envious of her airing cupboard.

To be honest, I didn't know what an airing cupboard was before we moved there, but once I discovered it, and especially since we had a teeny tiny washer/dryer combo that didn't do much along the drying lines, I really would have loved one. And I've been wishing I had one ever since. And airing cupboard is basically just a cupboard for your water heater or boiler that also has shelves for storing towels and sheets near the warmth to keep them dry. But, at least for my friend, it was also where she hung dry clothes. And that, that is what I want. A nice warm place to hang up all those clothes that we don't like to put in the dryer.

When I went to re-sort our linen closet this fall, I realized that our linen closet is piping hot anytime the fire is going and warm most of the time that it isn't, and I've been meaning to figure out some way to harness this and rig up my own airing cupboard. Eventually I'd like to put some slated shelves in there, but for now, I rigged up a closet rod to hang things from while they dry. And after a little test run last night with some wet laundry which was nice and dry by this morning, I think I've got it. Yay!

And yes, those are our lovely plywood floors. One of these days they'll be gone. (Please please not too long!)

February 19, 2013

at bedtime

Last night I realized, with something of a shock, that bedtime has changed for our family away from bedtime routines to just going to bed. There is less what we do every night and more what we need to do tonight, less routine and more here there and everywhere people getting ready on their own. Less read out loud stories and more "close the door mom I'm listening to music."

When I was a young mother, with young children, bedtime was sacred. I tried very hard to not let anything throw us off. It was early and regulated and set in stone. Of course, as needs changed the routine did, but still, it was  a routine. Now that the kids are older (and more interested in listening to music or books on tape or reading to themselves than a book read out loud) bedtime is more of a scramble to get everyone where they need to be with enough time left over for Will and I to have some down time. Or at least fold laundry.  I was reminding him just this weekend that we used to get gobs of things done around the house after the kids went to bed and now we are lucky if we don't fall asleep before Briton does. Part of it is age (as in, we are getting older) and part is that, where they used to be in bed at 7:00 and Evie at least would be asleep by 7:15, now bedtime stretches to 8:30 or 9:00, maybe later if there is homework or baths or a school event or whatever. Evie still sometimes wants a story, but she can read now, and she wants to read on her own (to the dog or the cats preferably). Or, if she is very tired, she wants the lights off and music on and good night all she's off to sleep. She did ask me this week if I would start reading the Harry Potter books to her (which made me jump for joy a little) but most of those "let's read more" requests come at different points in the day - bathtime reading is a big hit, for example.

Maybe we just need a new kind of bedtime routine. Or maybe we have one and it just looks so different from what used to be that I don't recognize it as routine. Chores and brushing teeth and chasing cats up or down the ladder, depending on where your bedroom is and which cat you want to sleep with. But maybe it would be good to slip a little mama reads time back into the schedule.

Do you still read to your (older) kids at bedtime? Or have a regular bedtime routine?

February 15, 2013

my sweet valentine(s)

What's the saying about best laid plans? That they are knocked out of the park by the need to roll and tie 60 Madlibs into tight tubes in time for a Valentines Day? Something like that. My envisioned afternoon of a little weaving, a little baking and a little valentines making turned into an assembly line of Valentine rolling, tying and tagging that sucked up the entire afternoon and most of the evening. Because finding a Valentine that is 10-year-old boy approved (not mushy and it has to be cool, and funny, and let's not forget cool) is not easy, but once we hit on it we had to make them for the WHOLE fifth and sixth grade PLUS an additional valentine for just his class (it was supposed to be an either or, but who am I to squash crafty enthusiasm?) Plus her valentines, which involved making heart shaped crayons (since when were crayon wrappers hard to get off?). Well....bang went the afternoon. Not that I'm complaining. Because making valentines is pretty fun. Especially with these two.

Last night, however, it was nice to have nothing to do except dress up in frilly clothes and play UNO and work on left over Madlibs and weave on a new potholder loom with all those loops (thanks MaGran!) I even wove a whole inch on the big loom (not sure if I like it as much as spinning, but I do like it). Thank goodness for lazy winter evenings.

Tonight there is a dance. Now that we have one under our belt there is much less nervousness attached to it, plus he is "on the dance committee" so he's sort of in charge (I fear for whoever really is in charge) He told me on the way to school that he'll probably dance with more than one girl this time around, keeping his options open. Oh dear. Where has my little boy gone to?

February 13, 2013

new toys

Two new toys arrived yesterday. Only borrowed for the moment, but still exciting. The rigid heddle will take a little time to figure out but the lap loom went into immediate project mode. She's making a rug for her dollhouse. Or maybe a scarf (though I don't think it's really long enough to be a scarf for anyone, even Eliza). We've also rescued a pair of tights from the too-holey-to-wear pile to cut up for more pot holders. Weaving, weaving everywhere in this house. Except for Will, who is intrigued, but is busy with chicken coop designs (and I'm not going to interrupt that! Woop! Chickens! I miss having chickens!)

The snow is falling outside and today is a half day at school, so I imagine we'll have a nice long afternoon of weaving and valentine making and maybe some cookie baking. Because it's that kind of day. What are you up to on this cold February Wednesday?

February 11, 2013

down to the studs

Oh yes. You know that some serious renovation is happening when you see studs and insulation. And also when you have to rely on your phone for pictures because you don't want to risk your real camera with all the dust.

It will be some time before it's finish finished. No all in one go kitchen re-do this time. But it's looking so much brighter and open and us. Well, except for the pink insulation hanging out of the wall. That's not really our color (although Evie likes it) but still, slow and stead, weekend afternoon by weekend afternoon, it's a comin.

February 8, 2013

snow day

I wasn't sure they actually existed here in snow country. But apparently there is a point at which lot of snow becomes too much snow and school gets canceled. The only bummer of it being that today was a ski day (ironic, since I'm guessing most of the kids are up at the mountain skiing because it was too snowy for them to go to the school so they could go to the mountain to ski).

We have been having a grand old time, sleeping in and eat muffins and playing games and hammering out a new knitting pattern that's been living in my head for a few weeks (cable charts! Oh my!). There was a dragon battle earlier and the ninjas had a snow race (as ninjas do). We've been Dracula and Harry Potter and a firefly and I *think* a glowworm.  And now Briton is off with a friends and Evie and are going to have some very special snuggle on the couch time to watch Sleeping Beauty. I can not believe she's been in this world six and a half years and she has never seen my favorite Disney movie. Time to remedy that. Because, hey, it's Friday. And it's a snow day. What could be nicer?

Hoping you have a lovely, snowy, safe weekend.

February 7, 2013

helpers and projects

I'm not sure who's helping who here, but we're all very project-y around here this week. Even the animals.

February 5, 2013

in the evenings

We are trying something new around here. And I'll be totally honest, it's been a hard sell. 25% of our family is still not really all the way on board. Not when he stops to think about the injustice of it all. When he's not thinking about that, however, he shows every sign of enjoying our new habit (er, rule?) decreeing no screen time (outside of homework needs) during the week. On weekends we revert back to our normal time limits of time in front of a computer or tv or phone. But Monday- Friday (Friday we do have family movie night, it should be noted) no screens at all.

As I said, it's been a hard sell. We've always been pretty strict with the time they can spend in front of a screen, limiting them to an hour a day, except for special things like movies, but over the past year or so we've noticed that our kids, and more particularly one of our kids (that would be the 25% holdout) becomes very easily obsessed with screen time. When he hasn't had his hour, he's thinking about it. When it's over there is nothing else to do I'm so bored can't I watch more TV/ play more Wii/ computer?

So we nixed it entirely.

And the result has been wonderful, really. We play. PLAY in the evenings. Taking away that one hour seems to have stretched our afternoon/evening time by two or three hours. Because the whining for more more more TV isn't there. (Ok, we still get some whines, but they are getting less and less the longer we go down this path. I think they've figured out we're serious.)

I love it. We play card games and sew and read and PLAY together. I feel like we don't have that many more years where we can all play together, and I want to play. It's a lot of fun. I know a lot of families have no TV at all. And part of me would like to go down that path (we've been Hulu and Netfli only for several years, so I guess in a way we are TV free, except we're not, because it's still TV) but I like to watch TV. I have shows that I love and movies I want to watch again and some days I don't want to paint the hall or work on projects, I want to plunk down and watch a movie with Will. So it wasn't going to go away all together. But this limiting, I think it's good.

There are still, as I said, the occasional grumbles. But there are more moments of "hey let's go build a fort!" then there are grumbles now. Lego dragons have been built and rebuilt. Favorite animals and dolls are cuddled and dressed up and played with. The pets are getting a lot of attention (really, who needs TV when you have two kittens and a laser pen?) There's a lot of music and singing and dominoes and rummy and Wizard and Sumoku (a new acquisition but already much played). And we're on the hunt for more, if you happen to know any games that can be played by a range of ages.

I'm curious what other people do, especially with emerging tweens/teens/boys who love video games when it comes to screen time. What works and what doesn't in your house?