family life

visiting the pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

ganyard hill farm pumpkin patch

The title of this post should really be "Make Your Kids Happy With 40 Tons of Corn Kernels." The pumpkins, as it turns out, were an afterthought. I think you can see why.

We're lucky to have a pick-your-own-pumpkin farm in our community. Ganyard Hill Farm doesn't just stop at the pumpkins, though - with two corn pits, plentiful hay bales for scaling, goats to feed, unlimited hay rides, and a few mazes, I'm happy to say that this yearly visit has become a solid family tradition for us. Check out the photos of my little butter balls in the corn pit two years ago! My, my. How quickly things change in life with young children when you just take a step back to see a larger expanse of time. 

The season of pletiful celebrations is upon us. We're looking forward to doing some projects from our copy of The Artful Year: Autumn, as well as making our Halloween costumes. Finn has already made Patrick's - he's to be a single cell. (I mentioned he was into evolution in my last post. One of his favorite books is currently Life Story, by Virginia Lee Burton. This book, among others, is the inspiration for our costumes.) Finn's just trying to figure out how to best hang the cardboard cell around Daddy's neck. Homespun Halloween, little boy style. I really love it. 


sky top orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

skytop orchard

Baskets. Panoramic views. Running, almost tumbling down grassy hills. A hayride (with requests for many more). A normally cautious child exploring his newfound tree climbing passion. Warm apple cider on a cloud-filled, crisp morning. Apple donuts before lunch, because that's how we roll on apple picking day.

If you happen to be in the Asheville area during apple picking season, do take the time to visit Sky Top Orchard. This was our second year visiting, and it really is an amazing place. A beginning-of-autumn tradition has been solidified for our family. Patrick and I found ourselves recalling what was going on in our lives at this time last year when we went apple picking - he had just started his full-time job as a computer programmer, and I had just stepped more deeply into my role as a full-time stay-at-home mama. And here we are now, my belly round with our baby girl. That is something we surely didn't expect! Next year, we'll attend as a family of five. What else will have changed between now and then? Oh, the possibilities held within a year.

Now I have 23 pounds of apples to process, and I can't find my beloved book, Canning for a New Generation. Must have loaned it out. Can anyone recommend a good applesauce recipe without sugar? Or a pie filling recipe without weird ingredients? We're itching to start peeling and coring some apples.


welcoming autumn

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

Autumn festival

It's been a particularly festive and colorful week. An autumn party to attend, apple crisp to be baked and shared, summer clothes to be put away and pants and long-sleeved shirts to be brought out of storage. Tomorrow, we leave for our second annual camping trip to the Appalachian mountains for some apple picking and cool weather hiking. 

Not many words today, just some pretty pictures. Wish me luck packing for the trip with two very tired boys in tow! 


the evolution of a space

trying it on

our new studio

Here's our studio, as we call it, just after we moved in. It was one of the first spaces that I put together, knowing that Finn needed a space for independent play amidst the chaos of moving boxes and complete disaster in the rest of the house.

our new studio

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It's an odd room, this studio of ours, as it also serves as our primary entry/exit door. The room is essentially cut in two by an invisible hallway leading from our exterior door to the kitchen, the area with the bookshelves having a tile floor and the rest of the room being painted plywood (until we can afford the hardwood floor.)

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It has always housed books and art supplies (both the boys and mine), as well as the occasional basket of blocks and random stuff that seems to settle in this room we use so much.

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writing letters

writing center times two

This little table that I originally brought in to house my own art supplies was quickly comandeered by Finn, and I made it into his letter writing station.

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We've tried our cozy reading spot in various locations - looking for the best light, the best use of space.

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And here it is today. I moved in the big table from my sewing room to better serve my two artists (as well as myself.) Added the shelves, which house many art supplies that are now freely accessible to Finn. These include acrylic paints, scissors, oil pastels, various crayons, sequins, beads, saved bottle caps and juice tops, googly eyes, glitter glue, watercolor, papers of various sizes, paint brushes and containers, a low-heat hot glue gun, as well as a bunch of recycled materials that I keep in the wire basket under the table. All of his letter writing materials are accessible, too. Lachlan can access the paper, crayons and some washable markers - the rest are (intentionally) too high for him to reach just yet.

Yes, we do have a computer in the space - Finn, at almost four, does 30 minutes of Reading Eggs a day, does the occasional yoga video, and occasionally watches Mathtacular or a science video. If you're conflicted about screen time, I found this post written by Jaime Martin of Steady Mom very helpful in providing me the necessary prospective. Allowing Finn a bit of time on the computer during the weekdays allows me to spend some precious moments focused on Lachlan exclusively - something that's so rare! 

The big, braided rug (an ebay find) really improved the space - now they have a large area for play. I gathered baskets for housing dress up clothes, blocks, car tracks, and puppets. Those small bolga baskets that are hanging from tree branch hooks are homes for our legos, story stones, finger puppets, and felt animal masks. Smaller baskets on the shelf include various toob animals (these are great if you can't afford the more expensive wooden animals - they inspire play just as much!) and a basket for small cars. We also have a bigger basket on the floor for larger cars, as well as a piece of wood that they use to race the smaller cars.

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Finally, our snuggly reading nook is just where it needs to be - right by the bookshelves and the cozy bird watching window seat. 

This room is how I keep my two boys, now 2 and nearly 4, busily playing, both independently and together. I'm sure it won't stay this way forever, but it feels like a very sustainable set-up, able to accommodate children of various ages and interests. Right now it feels perfect for us.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!


a good bit of winter, just in the nick of time

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Appalachian winter vacation

Just returned from a week in the mountains in a cabin without an internet connection. It was just what we needed - a taste of real winter. Being snowed in takes on a whole new level of excitement with little ones around. There was much sledding (Finn says sledding is the most wonderful thing in his WHOLE LIFE.) There was game after game after game. There was plentiful "galimoto-ing," as the boys call it. 

Appalachian winter vacation

Being away from home without all of the independent activities I have set up at the house was intense yet enjoyable, especially with my dear husband at my side. I did have a tad bit of leisure time while there, and it was blissfully spent learning how to carve stamps. More on that tomorrow!

It's good to be back. It's full-blown springtime back at our house!


and he's (almost) two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

a train trip to celebrate two

My dear little Lachlan,

Tomorrow, February 27, it will have been two years since I first gazed into your calm eyes. Two years since you had your one and only nursing session. Two years since the bright room full of specialist onlookers waited for you to pink up, then take you away while I lay there, dizzy with oxytocin and yearning for you. Daddy was with you as much as he could be. I didn't sleep but for little spurts in the blue lounge chair in the pediatric cardiology ICU. Your brow was swollen and blue, your nose a bit bruised, too. I'm not sure any other heart baby in that ICU was near your whopping nine pounds.

Two days later, we kissed your unscarred chest and they wheeled your bassinet to the operating room. We held it together until we couldn't see you anymore, then we collapsed and wailed in a dark family waiting room. Other people ate breakfast while you were under. I just thought that was weird, but life does go on, somewhere, doesn't it?

And life went on for you, in the most amazing of ways. You emerged from surgery, had some ups and downs, but mostly ups, in your recovery, then we were home (only after having been told by a geneticist that you were missing a miniscule piece of one of your chromosomes, which could make you prone to autism.) I carried that worry with me. The fear of your second surgery. The fear of your genome print-out. 

Yet you smiled. You cooed. You were oh-so-easy (except for the nursing/feeding thing.) But look at you now! Two years later, you have a husky little voice, speak in eloquent sentences, memorize entire songs, run along behind your brother, and eat phenomenally well, I must say. No one on the street would guess that you still have half a heart, and that your blood oxygenation is at 80% of normal.

What you are is a wonder. A medical wonder, a human wonder. You are hilarious, spunky, cheerful, and wise.

At two, you like reading books, singing, playing with cars, "washing" the dishes, and being with your Mima and Papa. You occasionally like your brother, who will occasionally play cars with you. You are starting to engage in imaginative play with puppets and cars, and start off many conversations with "You be this one, and I'll be this one. Hi! My name is car! What's your name?"  

At two, you don't like sharing Mama, and you don't like it when I can't play cars with you right now. You give the funniest looks, and you like to practice saying "no." But mostly, you're a carefree fellow. And we can't imagine life without you.

Happy birthday, love.


february 18

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

February 16 Snow

The two boys from North Carolina got a full day of snowfall, enjoying it greatly in their throw-on-whatever-looks-warm-and-perhaps-waterproof, decidedly NOT New England snow outfits. Hot cocoa was imbibed. The wood stove was fired up for the first time this winter. Lots of board games were played, and I swear that my knees are scuffed from "playing cars" with Lachlan, pushing them all over the house. 

Today, some thanks, thoughts, and a few sew-y links:

  • I wanted to thank you for the toasty warm reception that you've given the new patterns. I'm so glad you love them! 
  • I'm so excited that Natalie Chanin is teaching a class with Craftsy: Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric. I hesitated about .3 nanoseconds before signing up. Love her aesthetic, and sewing by hand is something I can do in between pushing matchbox cars around the floor.
  • Speaking of aesthetics, I loved Sarai's post about the spiritual practice of sewing
  • Amy Butler put together a little fashion show which showcases her newest line of fashion fabrics and my Mariposa Tee is featured starting at 3:45. Fun! 

secret love totes

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Valentines Day 2013

Cookies were baked, heart totes were made, first letters of friends' names were painstakingly written (and glittered over, of course), and two stealthy little boys delivered them to their unknowing companions. The totes just say "You are loved," and are unsigned. Such an exciting mystery to solve.

Just one of many little traditions that I've gleaned from our Sparkle Stories - this one from the Martin and Sylvia Valentine's audio book.

I hope they remember these little things. It certainly generated many a giggle today.


imagine childhood book review + giveaway

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That book up there? It's amazing. Of course, I knew it would be - I've been a loyal visitor the Imagine Childhood blog and a supporter of their store for many years now.

What author Sarah Olmsted has crafted is a deep, relaxing breath in the form of a book . It's an invitation to experience the wonder of nature in a creative way. An invitation to notice. An invitation to experience a forest, a creek, a pond - through the eyes of a child and alongside your child.

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The activities in Imagine Childhood, I would say, are geared toward families with young children or older children who are able to read and craft on their own. None require a developed skill set - the sewing projects are very simple, the woodworking projects extremely basic - so anyone can jump right in. Everything can be made with little and big hands working side by side.

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The boys eagerly chose to work on the mud house project, and it was a delight to work alongside them. I cut the wood forms and they did most everything else - from oiling down the sides of the wood (even the oustide of the form - unneccesary for the house, but somehow perfect work for Finn, as you can see above.) Finn made design decisions (such as choosing to hammer a door frame together rather than using a bigger block. I just followed their lead. Come to think of it, Imagine Childhood and my other favorite, Project-Based Homeschooling, are perfect companion books.

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Lachlan really got into the mud part after his nap. (Do you see him nearly falling over in one of the above pictures, unable to give in to sleep with the excitement of the mud house construction?) Hold on - I have to go give him a smooch this minute - ok, I'm back!

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And here is our mud house thus far, still drying. Come to think of it, it had a very generous watering in the last few days, first by eager boys who love to go around watering this and that, then by nature herself, in the form of a rainy day. I'm not sure if it will ever dry properly without splitting, but the experience itself was quite worthwhile regardless. There is a town of mud houses being planned, as well as many other projects from Imagine Childhood.

Building this with the boys made me remember one of my first blog posts, back when I was living in rural Mexico and building a cob wall to protect our garden. It wasn't surprising that building with mud attracted the neighborhood children; there's something so simple, functional, and rewarding about it.

Cobwall2

Cob wall

Roost Books has generously offered to give away two copies of Imagine Childhood to my readers, and Sarah has chipped in a $25 gift certificate to the Imagine Childhood Shop. Three opportunities to win! Leave a comment to enter. I'll pick a winner on Saturday, December 1st.

Good luck!


Comments are now closed - congratulations to Gwenn, Joy and Milena!