holidays

of apples and boys

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

apple time

I was thinking about titling this post "and so it begins." I would have added an exclamation point to that title, because there's this inner child in me that's getting all excited about what's going on in my house these days. 

The excitement is over something very simple. Apples. A shifting season. Decorations. Leaves changing. Noticing everything. 

The one who is doing the changing and the noticing is my little boy. He is most assuredly not a toddler any more. He is waking up to the world - its changes, its celebrations, and its more nuanced flow. For the first time, I find myself decorating for this autumn season. For the first time, I find myself accompanying FInn on walks to find acorns. He has ideas. Plans. He picks apples and wants to make applesauce and bake a pie. We do. He suggested we sing Happy Birthday to Autumn before we cut into our pie. He made the crust with minimal help. (He likes it that way - he is still two after all.) His sentences are long. Involved. He has theories about the health benefits of butter (It's good for my body and will give me energy to run, run, run!) ... says he who is trying to convince me that we don't need to reserve all of it for the crust and that he, perhaps, could just taste a tablespoon of it? 

We are embarking on our first season of celebration with a boy who is aware of it all. Last year was sweet, but he was still a baby. Everything was parent-directed, which felt just a bit contrived (the nature of that stage of parenting, I think). Now is the time that traditions will truly take root in our family, growing organically. We are becoming a conscious family. Let us celebrate with apple pie!


dandelions

dandelion

dandelion 2

dandelion 3

dandelion 4

'Tis the season.

As we begin this weekend that brings to the forefront the cycle of death and rebirth, we can't help but feel the profound way in which our family has experienced just that.

A baby on heart/lung bypass. A baby who, thirty years ago, would only have lived a few days.

A baby who is alive, and looking forward to more beautiful days ahead. Dandelion blowing included.

A happy Easter to all, however you celebrate it. We will do so minus the eggs and bunnies (what mother of two under two can pull that off? Not me.) But our hearts are oh so thankful.

lachlan on the changing mat


a stocking for finn

a stocking for Finn

Thanks again for all of your kind words after my last post; we're on the upswing here, and it's amazing what better health will do for one's mood. Things are once again getting done, albeit slowly, and I'll soon be sharing in this space a few ways in which I'm trying to lessen the weight on my shoulders. I should also mention that the Winter edition of Rhythm of the Home is now live, a publication that truly helps me to keep a balanced view of motherhood, and inspires me to keep things simple and keep my priorities straight.

In the midst of repeated nose-blowings (both mine and Finn's), I was able to do some "merry making" in preparation for our return home on Saturday (and tree decorating on Sunday!) Finn needed a stocking. The one I put up for him last year was a little knitted sock ornament, a gesture that was purely symbolic.

a stocking for Finn 2

I used the pattern in Alicia's fabulous book, Stitched in Time. The result is very sweet and mis-matchy, but let me tell you, it is rather small. Alicia mentions this, but I just didn't think to enlarge the pattern more than the suggested 200%. Next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I'll enlarge it by 300% to keep mutiny at bay. You see, the stockings I knitted for me and Patrick many years back are humongous. As in, you could fit several animals in there, a la The Mitten. Those hand knits are stretchy. Finn's stocking is very modest by comparison, and I think I'll make a larger version in a few years' time, using this one as part of the holiday decor rather than a stocking to be stuffed. Either that, or I'll have to make smaller stockings for the adults in the house!

stocking heels

I've also started to gather some things to fill Finn's stocking, gifts that will pique a toddler's interest while avoiding the typical plastic trinkets. So far, I've found the most beautiful geode:

outside of geode

geode

This will be a great addition to the winter nature table. Along with that, I'm putting in an amethyst and a piece of calcite. Finn's already seen these rocks/minerals, as his Papa (a geologist) was happy to introduce them to him. We all got a real kick out of hearing an 18 month-old say "calcite." He didn't attempt amethyst.

geology lesson

I also stopped by the local crystal shop and picked up a simple window crystal. My parents have one in their house (you can see it in the background) and Finn is so taken by it. He goes to look for rainbows throughout the day, and finds it endlessly amusing to try and catch them in his hands or "wipe" them off of pillows, floors and walls. The crystal will hang from the window in our new playroom.

rainbow makers

Another idea I have in mind are a pair of fingerless gloves (I have this pattern - I'd like to give it a go as soon as I get home. I've noticed that gloves like these would be really useful for Finn during his outdoor explorations. Putting regular mittens on a toddler is like blindfolding an adult - so much sensory information enters the mind through those little fingers, that covering them up seems torturous! For those of you who don't knit, there are some reasonably priced fingerless gloves for toddlers available from various Etsy sellers.)

Other than a few art supplies, that's all I'll be able to fit in Finn's stocking, and it will be plenty, I'm sure. Now ... what in the world will I put in his father's bottomless stocking? That one's always a challenge.


a different kind of black friday - low cost "big" gifts for children

Hooray! We're back online and, most importantly, showering with hot water! The dinner yesterday was spectacular. My mom has a knack for making an incredible food spread look effortless. If I had been in charge, I would have looked haggard, food stuck to my hair and clothing, unable to hold a conversation with anyone until everything was on the table. She rocks the kitchen, that mom of mine.

one mess of a puppet head

I thought you would get a kick out of my Black Friday "shopping" excursion this morning. It started at the end of my parents' driveway where I grabbed a handful of newspapers that had been put at the curb to be recycled. I threw those in the back of the car and headed to the craft store, where I bought four styrofoam balls and some masking tape.

Styrofoam balls, masking tape, newspaper, flour and water ... all I need to begin my most ambitious holiday handmade gift of the season. Puppets. Four of them, with a door frame puppet theater from fabric in my stash. I'm planning on using the tutorial for the theater below, which can be found at Petite Purls

Puppettheater_01

Photo, design and tutorial by Nancy Anderson

This gift isn't for Finn, as he's too little yet to really use such a toy, but my nieces (who are four and six) will most certainly put it to use.

I've been thinking a lot this holiday season about being thrifty, perhaps more than usual, given the health care costs we will be incurring due to Lachlan's condition. The main thing I'm doing for Finn this year is putting together the art/playroom, and trying to spend virtually no money on the endeavor. (More on that when I return home from our time in California.) He will get a few quality, wooden toys, but other than that, it's a simple stocking and a new playspace.

Since so many of us are needing to tighten the belts of our gifting budgets, I thought I'd point to some great, low-cost ideas for children's gifts.

  • Put together a new playspace for your child, using thrifted furniture cut down to size (i.e. saw off the legs of an old desk to make a child-sized table. Again, more on this later!) Here's an article with some helpful ideas.
  • Organize a spectacular dress-up area. Keep your eyes peeled for fun hats, shoes and outfits during thrifting excursions, or make your own. Dedicate a space for dress up in your home - set up one of those cheap wall mirrors next to a peg shelf. Add ribbon loops to all shirts and pants so they can be hung from the peg shelf, assuring that they are easily accessible to children and don't get lost in a bottomless toy chest. Place shoes and accessories in bins below the peg shelf. Remember to rotate the items on occasion to maintain the child's interest.
  • Put together a "kit-in-a-box" gift that caters to your child's particular interests. I thought the veterinarian's case Amanda put together for her daughter was amazing. You could take this idea and apply it to any interest - an field explorer's kit, a baking kit, a sewing kit, a florist's kit ... really any interest you see emerging in your child could be nourished through such a gift.
  • Stock your child's play kitchen with handmade felt food.
  • Set up a birding area near a large window in your home.
  • Re-organize and re-stock your child's art space or reading nook.

Leave a comment to share your own ideas!


cozy

Cozy. It's a word I've had in my head for the last few days. It certainly aptly described the twelve hours Finn and I spent on the same plane before finally arriving in California. It went as well as could be expected. Thank you, mini slinky. Thank you, lollipops. We arrived in one piece (looking like we'd just been run over by a truck, I'm sure, but we're here!)

snow play

We arrived at my parents' house after a major snow storm that knocked branches onto the utility lines and has left us without power, internet connection, land line or cell phone reception for the last several days. We're still waiting for the power to be restored, but until then, we're cozy-ing up. Lots of knitting, a simple Thanksgiving meal, and snow play. A truly old-fashioned kind of cozy. I found a bit of time to stop by a cafe in town to blog today (on my way to the local fabric store!) I'm not sure when I'll be back online, but I wanted to wish you all a very cozy holiday with family and friends.

Finn's first snowman

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours!

 


holiday traditions

red coat ornament 2

I've had coat sewing on the brain. A coat for myself, a coat for Finn, and a coat for the tree. Check the last one off the list, thanks to Alicia's ornament kit. I know. Is it not the most adorable ornament you've ever seen? Alicia's been publishing these ornament kits for the past three years, and she has them up for sale in her shop now. They're so cheery; I have plans to make many more from the collection for our tree this year. We'll see. I have a lot of plans, of various sorts. I always do. I always finish less than half of what I set out to accomplish. Oh well. At least I'm admitting that this year.

red coat ornament 1

As you may have gathered from past posts, we're in the midst of some challenging times in our family. And in the spirit of keeping things rolling smoothly and as stress-free as possible this holiday season, I need to step back from hosting the holiday traditions exchange. While it is such a fulfilling thing to do, it also requires a lot of work to organize. Right now my energy is needed in other areas. Perhaps in the future I'll host again, but for now, I encourage those who might be interested in hosting similar exchanges to pipe up and leave a message in the comments. I'll eventually amend this post to include a list of other blogs who are hosting exchanges.

red coat ornament 3

Other news ...

  • For more holiday inspiration, check out this magazine.
  • For more felty goodness, hop on over to Melissa's blog or visit her etsy shop.
  • I'm totally putting on the Christmas music on this cloudy, cold day. 
  • And drinking hot chocolate.

 


hosing off

4th of july neighborhood parade

Well, now. That was a whole load of fun. As you look at the following pictures, please imagine a chorus of high-pitched squeals emanating from the drenched kiddos. It will be as if you were right there with me, cautiously shielding your camera from vagrant drops.

fire engine hosing off

soaked and loving it

soaked and loving it 2

i'll watch from here

party in the park

Good feelings. Good times. Good neighbors. How did you celebrate the 4th?


festive fog

the night shift

Peeking my head out from the fog for a moment to say hello, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas ... may your holidays be full of family and joy!

Why fog, you ask? See that cup of strong black tea there? I've was working the night (and day) shifts around here for a few days as Finn had his first illness. Sweet boy had to be held just so, by Mama only, all night long, in order to keep his little lungs cough-free. I've never been so tired in my life, yet so in love. I feel like I've been baptized in the pure waters of Motherhood - those late night comfortings really bring out the best in mamas. Patience? I wasn't aware that I had it in me for several nights in a row, but yes ... it is there, only for this little boy who I love so dearly.

He is much better now, but cutting two teeth - his front teeth. Theme song, anyone? "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth?" Superb timing! I'm sure I'll have a toothy grin to post before the New Year!

reading with mima

Mima visited, hats were knitted, gifts were made, cookies were baked, tamales were prepared, lasagnas assembled, chocolate raspberry truffle cake whipped up, and the grocery store was tackled. All of this was accomplished with the help of a very loving husband, and many cups of the aforementioned VERY black tea.

more janes

My in-laws and Patrick's younger siblings arrive today. The guest beds are made, the meal plan written, and the fingers are crossed as I prepare to host my first ever Christmas. Nine people for five days, almost all meals here. Most of the meals are already in the freezer, and if all else fails, there's enough cheese and crackers in this house to feed a small town.

Also, be sure to catch the following blog tour interviews (and thank you to all the lovely women with whom I had the pleasure of chatting!) ::

:: about fabric on True Up

:: about aprons on Apronicity

:: about time management, Nature, and green crafting at Living Life as Art

:: about everything on the CraftSanity podcast

:: Tomorrow at maya*made about motherhood and balance (Check out Maya's beautiful bird blossom blouse!)

Now get thee to merry making!

xo,

Meg