Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Felted Bears

We had a wonderful Christmas. Both children keep saying, "This was the best Christmas ever!" We spent 3 days a couple of counties north. There was so much food, I never want to see food again. Today I downed cereal, a banana, and a cheese sandwich and I still feel too full.

I wanted to share something that I made for the kids for a Christmas gift. First let me back up a bit. When I hang out with a group of women, I think 90% of them are busy with some sort of handwork. Knitting, crochet, stitching, origami, the list goes on. Me, I just pick at my cuticles. So I decided I wanted a hobby that I could do while I chat. I like keeping my hands busy.

When it comes to crafts, I think in 3D. I make 3D cakes--I could never draw a picture on a cake. I must sculpt the thing. I discovered needle felting. It suits me really well, and though I'm new at it I wanted to make some sort of guys for the kids. After they were in bed, I spent quite a few evenings making these friends:

I have a lot to learn, but this was really fun and a good challenge. Now that the kids know about their bears, I can bring my hobby out during the day.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


"Mama, I'm going to name this baby Ellabella Marabelle Clair."

one minute later

"Actually I think I'll name her Molly Marabelle."

one minute later

"Well...her name is Monkey Avela Ella. And I'm Molly bunny Alee."

She puts the baby down, and goes to do a puzzle. We read some books. 15 minutes pass.

"Mama, what was my baby's name?"

I tell her I can't remember. I suggest Annabella Molly Clair.

"No! That's not it! You remember! What was my name too?!"

I suggest a few more names to jog her memory.


She flops to the floor and cries and sobs.

Repeat several times daily.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


Our Thanksgiving celebrations ended yesterday, after spending the day at my mom's. That made three dinners, three wonderful celebrations with these people that I love.

I got to play cards! With one kid always perched on my knee.

My husband rocked our niece to sleep.

I am thankful for so much.

Here's a picture of his gorgeous mug.

He's been playing checkers.

Blue eyes and brown eyes.

My girl absolutely charms me. She is funny! And so so sweet. Here she is holding a baby in a sling.

One day she made this:

Dollhouse people all lined up to watch a movie.

When I got up this morning and checked Facebook, I saw that my husband had written:
"My kids are such cool companions. My son is better than a friend. My daughter is so cute she makes me melt over and over." It is heartwarming to share this journey with him, somebody who feels it like I do.


Monday, November 14, 2011

My House Right Now

If you looked into my house right now, here are some things you'd see:

A garden with a zebra

Lego furniture

Little hands learning new computer games

Littler hands playing with Legos in her own way

A shamrock plant that my mom gave me 12 years ago

Thankful turkeys
(He's thankful for Alice, mama, dada, hugs, his life, house, Legos,
his sister, food, and friends. She's thankful for Alice, dada, mama,
her brother, books, and hugs.)

A class lined up to learn about letters

A very messy desk

But clean kitchen counters

This old picture on the fridge

This shelf of treasures
(My mom gave me the painted egg from Haiti. The kids collected
those lilypad things at the pond this summer, the mushroom
used to be my grandma's and I always liked it, and the pumpkin
seeds are there waiting until spring planting.)


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Someday, Today

Today I won't mind that...

...My front porch is lined with bikes and chalk and frisbees.

...I swept up a lego and had to dig it out of the vacuum dirt.

...The miniature sized laundry is backed up to an extreme degree.

...The jack-o-lanterns on the stoop will rot and turn to mush before my sensitive child can let go and throw them away.

...There is bickering amongst the wee ones, over things I never imagined debatable. (He stole your imaginary baby? Really? Uh, just imagine that he didn't?)

Because Someday...

...I won't have an extra pair of 3T underwear tucked in the zip pocket of my purse.

...Lego structures won't line my mantle.

...My table centerpiece won't be a painted pumpkin and a toilet paper tube candlestick.

...Tiny, still pudgy hands won't grab my face and I won't feel a whisper I love you mama in my ear.

...I won't hear the stop-and-start reading as my child puts the story together.

...I won't be awakened by a small warm body climbing onto my pillow.

...There won't be miniature socks and pajamas to fold.

...Young eyes won't show me rocks and trees and ants in a new way.

...I won't be asked to put in a ponytail or tie on a cape.

I could go on and on. I'm feeling really grateful and content and trying to soak it all up.


Monday, October 31, 2011


The sound of rustling wrappers, Snoopy, and will you trade me your nerds for my gum?

Cold, stiff fingers make it hard to open chocolate bars.

"What does Starburst mean, anyway mama? It's not shaped like a star, but it is yellow." -Sylvie

My favorite Halloween tradition is that my husband sneaks a rock into the kids' candy buckets. When we get home, we turn on It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and they sort through their loot. Usually around the time in the show when Charlie Brown keeps getting rocks, they notice their own rocks. There is much shouting and laughing and pretend indignation. Bee says, "Who keeps giving us rocks! It's probably somebody who gives out a handful of candy, and the rock is hidden inside."

I'm off to rejoin the sugar feast.

My son wore that bee costume when he was just 2 years old.
She wanted
to try it out for the night.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Green Belt and a Funny Thing

My kid is now a green belt!

He was incredibly nervous beforehand, which meant that his relief and joy when he accomplished it were also incredible.

Grampy came to watch the test. I was surprised to see him, because he'd had a long, busy day fixing his combine and harvesting. But there he was, and after the test he took us out to celebrate at Walter's favorite place.

We got him a new uniform too, and he is quite pleased with it.

On the drive home, Sylvia said a very funny thing. "Do you remember one time when I was asleep and I got unsleeped?"



Friday, October 28, 2011

Need Anything?

I stepped out of the shower this morning, and within 5 minutes I had heard all of the following things:

"I'm still hungry, can I have toast with butter?"

"I want apple slices with peanut butter."

"Can we practice my tae kwon do in the new room?"

"Where's dada?"

"Tie this on me, it's a fancy dress."

"Where's my toast?"

"Are you ready for the tae kwon do yet?"

"He won't stop saying boo!"

"I need a pony tail!"

"Untie my dress."

"I want apple slices with peanut butter too."

"Help me spread out this blankie."

I'm pleased to say that within 15 minutes, I got dressed, extracted please from both kids, and took care of all the things on the above list. If that's any sign of how productive my day will be, I'll take it. If it's any sign of how needy my kids will be today, can I drop them off at your house?


Thursday, October 27, 2011


We have had the best weather here the last week! Sunny blue skies, warm but not hot. Today it is rainy, which is nice too because we're sipping hot drinks and watching tv under blankets.

But last weekend we carved our pumpkins. Just look at the sun we had!

"I'll carve this baby one."

I love how he held his pumpkin with his feet.

She drew the face before cutting. Dada did the carving for her,
but he cut it exactly as she drew it.

Bee loved her jack-o-lantern so much that he took a picture.

For some reason, I'm sort of trick-or-treating obsessed this year. I've been searching for every event I can find that will give us candy. It's not that I like the kids to have a ton of candy, but they are just so pleased by it all. They loved the zoo event. They only got 8 pieces of candy each, but there was no disappointment. Earlier this week we went to the local university campus to trick-or-treat, and Sylvie reached into a bowl and pulled out a Gobstopper. She said, "Look what I got!!!!" I said, "Wow, what is it?" She gleefully said, "I don't know!" She was so thoroughly impressed by it. Later, she got a Hershey's kiss, and pulled out the paper from the foil and said, "Read my price." She meant fortune. How cute is that? I read it, and it said kisses kisses kisses, so I gave her some kisses and she was delighted. Best fortune ever. Then there's Walter, who is so careful with his candy. He sorts it and saves it and attaches memories to it. "Remember when I thought Skittles were M&Ms?" "Remember when I ate my Halloween candy at Christmas and saved my stocking candy until Easter?"

If I find out about a trick-or-treat event, we're going. There are 3 more things this weekend. Maybe I'm overdoing it, but I can't pass up that cuteness.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beautiful Mess

Last week was busy--for 9 days in a row I had stuff going on and too much to do. So on Sunday I made the plan that I wasn't going to do any work. I didn't wash a single dish or pick up a single toy. It seems that skipping just one day can result in a disastrous mess in my house.

So yesterday, I got up and went downstairs to make breakfast. On the counter was a note from my husband.

"Our living room is a playground. It looks beautiful. Sit and look at the things and think of what it all means."

My heart.

I do that sometimes, but I didn't know that he did too. I think he wanted to reassure me that it's okay, that this is the stage of life we're in and that he cherishes it too. The upside down farm toys, the Lego machine, the hairbrush by the baby doll, the two whistles side by side on the end table.

Beautiful mess.


Monday, October 10, 2011

For 8, He Wanted Cranes

About 3 years ago we got a picture book called Lissie's Friends. It's about a girl who has the skill of folding origami and the imagination to see her creations as friends. In the back of the book there are instructions for making a paper crane. For 3 years, every time we read that book, my son would want us to try to make a paper crane.

Those instructions were crap.

(Yes, that means all my attempts at a crane ended up looking like wadded paper.)

So finally I looked up instructions on Youtube. I figured out that crane, and suddenly my kid decided he wanted an origami birthday party, and for his cake to be shaped like a crane!


When it comes to the kids' birthday cakes, I go a little nuts. I am certainly not a professional cake maker, but I really have fun creating what they ask me to make. So I dove in and this is what I made:

He was happy, so I was too. After all that, learning to fold all those origami figures (especially the owl) was much harder than making the cakes. But it's fun to have a new skill.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Trip To The Farm

Let me tell you about a field trip we took on Wednesday. It was with a homeschool group that we joined but haven't been involved with as much as I want. A local farm has one day a year when they open up to the public and invite volunteers to show cool things to kids. It was a 15 minute drive there, and of course as soon as we got in the van the kids started saying they're thirsty. Do you know kids like that? I think my kids are camels and they think they must fill their humps in the car as if they won't be able to drink when they exit. As soon as they buckle up, they must have water. My car is full of water bottles. Anyway.

Now, I grew up on a farm. My kids visit a farm every time they see their grampy. They love farms but I wasn't expecting too much.


The volunteers made this field trip terrific! There were tables and tables set up with (usually) grandmas and grandpas sitting behind them, eager to tell the kids about bees and eggs and pelts and herbs and cornmeal and composting.

Holding a chick.

I always enjoy watching blacksmiths work. This guy told us
lots of stories from when he first started out. He said he
burned himself 3 times his first day.

Hayride with popcorn.

Eggs--from ostrich to hummingbird

She liked sorting the apples.

Carving some limestone

You know we love picnics, and a picnic on a tree stump is
even better.


Saturday, October 1, 2011


My son is 8 years old today. I won't even say how it doesn't seem possible and that he is still my baby because I think you all know that.

Right now he's at tae kwon do because the instructor puts on a funny hat and holds the birthday kid upside down while the rest of the class sings.

The cakes are on the table, the snacks are waiting in the fridge. The balloons are hung, the house is clean, the toys the kids always fight over are hidden.

This afternoon people will come to celebrate my boy, and I'm taking a moment to just think about him and be thankful.

Here are some things about him:

-LEGOS! He will do Legos for 8 hours a day. He got a new semi truck set today, and had it put together in an hour. He has a mathematical brain that is good with patterns and he thinks of great things to build. He really loves symmetry in his Lego structures.

-Speaking of symmetry, he told me yesterday that there were an odd number of icons on the computer and it bothered him, so he deleted one. Ha! I don't know which one it was...

-He appreciates the simple things in life, and I appreciate that. His dad finished his bunk bed ladder yesterday, and you'd have thought the kid won the lottery. I am grateful for his sense of thankfulness.

-He is still a snuggly kid, thank God. He is not yet too old to hug and smooch and cuddle and sit on my lap.

-When I get to the end of a chapter in a book we're reading, if there's a cliffhanger, he will scream. He will beg me to continue and writhe around. Thus, I pause our reading and put the bookmark in during the more boring parts.

-Suddenly he doesn't like hot dogs anymore.

There is more, but he's home now so I'm going to go.


Monday, September 19, 2011

We Got A Pet!

My husband is allergic to dogs and cats. When we got married, I had a cat that was 9 years old and I wasn't going to get rid of her. So he suffered for 8 years, until she died. Then we had a preschooler and a newborn baby and no time to add a new pet. The kids have been begging for a pet--anything furry--for years.

After holding a friend's guinea pig, we knew we had found the right animal for our house.

Our local animal shelter didn't have any guinea pigs so I checked craigslist. If you want a guinea pig, I recommend craigslist. We got ours for free, and her cage and accessories for pocket change.

She's about a year old, and the kids named her Alice Wonderlee.

I was dubious about her pink eyes for a while. She just seemed a little....spooky.

But after a couple days of this, I was in love:

She does not bite. She will sit on a lap for an hour, just bubbling (purring) and sniffing the air. She is really fun to feed. She likes carrots, celery, hay, grass, and watermelon rind. She chews and chews. If you're holding her when she is eating, she stops chewing if you stop petting her. When we let her on the floor of Bee's room , she darts all around sniffing things and finding places where she will fit.

It feels so good to have a pet again. I love to take her out of her cage after the kids have gone to bed, and sit holding her on the couch.

Plus, she doesn't puke, and after my cat, I can't ask for more in a pet.