Saturday, December 31, 2011

The year in review

Yesterday, the Christmas tree fell over and in that instant I knew that the holidays were over. We used to leave the tree up until Epiphany, but in recent years, I've wanted to start the new year fresh and that means taking the tree down on New Year's day. Yesterday, I took off most of the ornaments and packed them away. There's still a few left and the lights are still there. I felt like the tree needed to hang in there until New Year's day. When the tree fell over, I started thinking about 2011 and I started thinking about it more when I read this post

It's been a hard year. No, it's been more than a hard year. I think this year has stretched me more than any other year in recent memory. I'm not sure how much I grew, but it has been a year of enormous change for me. I looked back at my post at the beginning of 2011 and I had so much hoped  that it would be the year of calm for me.  I think it was anything but. That makes me sad. 2010 was defined by a difficult pregnancy and 2011 was largely the year of adapting to life with the twins. As much as I desperately sought the calm I hoped for, I felt rushed...all the time. I'm still learning and I've learned that I have to let go of some things. I won't be less of a person if I do. That's a hard thing for me. I'm one of those "Carpe Diem" types. I want to learn something new every day. I want to try new things. I'm excited by life. I try to do too much and I'm disappointed when I can't. Here are the things (in no particular order) that filled my life in the past year.

Knitting/Quilting: Looking back on the past year, most of my posts centered around knitting. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how I had the time to knit with 5 small children to mother, I'd have piles of money (for more yarn of course!). Knitting has been so much more than knitting for me. This won't be the first time that I  mention the calming effects of knitting on my soul. I'll stay up late when the house is quiet and knit contentedly for hours. The joy I get from creating something for a loved one is something I find difficult to convey. The tactile joy of handling beautiful yarns and the rejuvenating effect of the repetitive motion is like being rocked to sleep. Like Elizabeth said in her post, knitting is so much more than knitting. Amidst my sometimes chaotic life, knitting has kept me sane.

I also got back into quilting this year. I've been quilting for several years now, but I had a lot of not-quite-finished quilt toppers that really needed to be completed. Now quilting isn't like knitting for me at all.  It isn't portable and it isn't really super relaxing for me, but it's enormously satisfying. There's something about piecing all that fabric together. Somehow, my brain starts churning with the endless possibilities of beautiful fabric. I've collected a lot of fabric this year and I have plans for it all. I'm giddy over my fabric collection. There's something about quilting that makes my brain work harder, better...something I can't quite describe.

The Twins: I was blessed with the two most adorable boys ever! They are one year-old now and I love these two little faces so much  (a little bit more each day), but mothering twins has not been easy for me. I didn't get to mother them the way I mothered my other babies. For instance, I barely made it to a year nursing them. I wanted them to have what my other babies got and my other babies got more nursing. I just didn't have enough milk for both and I had to supplement. This was difficult for me, but I tried not to feel like a failure. It's been difficult to accept that each mothering experience is going to be different and a little unexpected.

It's hard to cuddle one twin when I always feel like one twin is being left out. I sometimes feel that the twins aren't getting everything the other babies got, but maybe (hopefully) having each other makes it all okay in the end.  I'm still learning how to mother twins. It's not just the twins though. I just want to be a good mom to all five of my children. They stretch me and force me to be unselfish and hopefully, I will be the mom I want to be.

Counting Gifts: This book encouraged me to write down all those gifts I might otherwise overlook. If you look closely and pay attention, there are gifts everywhere. Gratitude. Thankfulness. I stopped and noticed the small things in my crazy life. I know that seeing every small thing  has changed the way I see life forever.  I started recording them here at my blog, but my whole list never materialized. I will do better at capturing those moments here in 2012.

Just the other day, one of the twins was in the Exersaucer  playing with one of Tess's birthday balloons. He was absolutely enchanted with that balloon. It was something I wanted to remember. I stopped in that moment to capture the image, not with a camera, but with my heart. It was one of those small gifts. God's glory is everywhere and I might have walked on by without ever truly noticing how adorable the image of a baby boy and a simple helium balloon.

Anniversaries and Birthdays: This year, I turned 39.  I entered my last year of my 30s. It's been a great decade. In July, Paul and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  It's so cliche to say that the time flew by, but it did. How was I once 23 year-old bride now heading into 40? All I can say is that life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and take a look around, you could miss it. (I got that from Ferris Bueller.)

My Word for the new year: Last year's word for the year was Calm. This year, I have two words: Calm and Gentleness. I want to be characterized by gentleness. I know this would go a long way to being the mom, the woman I want to be.

What will 2012 bring? More gifts....Choose to look closely.

 Happy New Year my friends!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Snow Princess

December is always busy no matter what. There's always so much to do.  Every year, I try to simplify, but some things are just beyond my control.  I thought I'd get this cape done in time for Tess's 3rd birthday, but now, it's her Christmas cape. You can't see it, but the yarn sparkles and it lookes like glittering snow. I bought a "diamond" clasp to match and now, she's ready for all of her Holiday social engagements!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I tried....

to get a good picture of the twins together for the Christmas card, but I am officially giving up. They needed a nap after this photo shoot. I need a nap too!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the last day you are 2

This is the last day you are two.  I can't believe it.  You aren't my baby anymore. You are my big girl. You are my big girl who picks out her own clothes and loves them to be pink. You think that everything that I knit is for you. You are my only little girl and you are growing too fast. I cherish every day with you.

                                                        Tomorrow you are three.
                                                  Happy early birthday beautiful pink girl!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Daybook: Thanksgiving Week

Outside My Window:
It's the first day of Thanksgiving holiday week. It's cold outside. I can tell because it's slightly overcast, but not completely dark in the house.

I am listening to:
Tess and Sam chatter. Sam is making siren sound effects with his Lego police car. I wish it were completely quiet.

I am wearing:
jeans and a pink sweater. It's a thin pink sweater and I'm a little bit cold.  I noticed a small hole near the armhole this morning. It makes me sad that my clothes just don't seem to have much longevity.

I am pondering:
That I'm exhausted both physically and mentally. I try to keep my blog a happy place so I don't usually write down my struggles, but I'm struggling right now. I'm feeling very alone. I'm overwhelmed with my mothering duties right now. It's not easy to admit that. I never expected feel like this after the twins were born, but I do. I can't seem to order my day to build in the peace and quiet I crave. I feel selfish. I feel pulled into a thousand directions all the time. I'm having a hard time feeling hopeful about any meaningful change in my days.

I am reading:
Well, I'm almost done listening to Mindy Kaling's book, Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me?  andI'm reading The Westing Game to Luke and The Ministry of Motherhood for a Bible study. I'm also reading quilting and knitting patterns? Does that even count?

I am creating:
Despite the fact that I feel completely exhausted, I'm still knitting a ton. It amazes me that even though I don't really get to knit until after 9 pm most days that I am still finishing small items. I casted on this cape in a yarn called Holiday Lights in White to go with Tess's Christmas dress. I'm in the middle of a hat for Paul knit from sock yarn. I've knit the body of a sweater for Sammy and I'm in the middle of another cap-sleeved shirt for my friend's daughter for Christmas. Yes, I know. I'm still doing that. Every time I get semi-close to finishing something, I cast on another project. I'm sure this isn't helping what's going on in my overwhelmed brain.

I'm also working on some quilting as well. I do love to quilt, but I don't find it truly relaxing. It's fun to design quilts. It's fun to buy fabric, but it's sometimes stressful to sew those pieces together  I used 3 Woodland Bloom charm packs to create this topper. I cut all the charms in half, re-arranged them, and sewed them back into squares. Then, I sewed the rows together. Sewing the rows took way longer than I expected. Now the topper is complete, but I don't have any fabric for the both the backing and binding. I haven't figured out how when my life feels the most out of control, I add to my work by taking on more projects. Maybe this is something that I can truly control? I don't know. 

Towards Rhythm and Beauty:
I feel like I've forgotten how to achieve this at all. I feel like I'm just treading water right now.

From the kitchen:
I'm thinking about the pies I'm going to make for Thanksgiving. I think I've settled on Dutch Apple Pie and the Pumpkin Mousse Tart from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts. I thought that would make traditional pumpkin pie a little fancier. Paul loves Dutch apple pie and Sam loves using the Pampered Chef Apple-Peeler-Slicer-Corer. Sam can handle getting the apples ready for me.

Around the house:
fabric, yarn, books, toys, dishes....and they're not in their rightful place!

Giving Thanks for:
My chaotic life despite what I've written above.

A Few plans for this week:
making pies
Taking Luke and Sam to a youth production of The Nutcracker the Sunday after Thanksgiving
Hopefully, a date with my hubby
some dedicated knitting time

Picture Thought

Just look at those cute faces.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

The fairy and the court jester

Desperate for a photo of the kids in costume, I settled for this quick pic right before bedtime. Sam stayed home from trick-or-treating tonight since he's got some stomach bug.  I couldn't get him to put on his knight costume even for this photo. So, I realized I'd rather have him in the picture without his costume than not in the picture at all. The babies can't wait to go to bed and it's time to get them out of their of dragon costumes and into their jammies. Paul wears the candy corn hat that I made for one of the twins and little T enjoys her time as a fairy princess. I tell you I really wanted a picture of Sam as the knight with his twin brothers dressed as dragons...maybe tomorrow I can get a picture of that fairy tale. Happy Halloween my friends!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Something Fishy

No. I didn't knit these hats. My Aunt Rosie knit these fun hats for the twins, but James discovered that he can he remove hats making it difficult to get a good picture. I think the orange suits them very well.

A Little Princess

So, the other day, I asked Tessie if she was my little cupcake. She replied, "No. I'm Daddy's princess."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Little T gets a new hat

I'm sorry. I can't help it. Here's Tess in another knit hat. I've made this hat several times and it's really easy. I can't seem to stop knitting hats.  At least Tess gets to keep this one.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Liam and James!

              I can't believe it's been a year already! Happy birthday little loves!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Autumn Knitting

Okay, full disclosure: I made her pose with this book (the inspiration for Pip's Acorn Hat).  We are fans of Elsa Beskow's picture books around here and after seeing Jenn's little hat, I had to knit one too. It can be a little tedious with so many p3tog stitches, but it's worth it and it knit up very quickly. This particular hat is going to a friend's daughter. Poor Tess. She models so many things that she doesn't get to keep, but she knows I'll knit her her own little Acorn hat. I used Berrocco Vintage in Mocha.


Candy Corn Hats #1 and #2

                                                        James and Liam

Friday, October 7, 2011

Candy Corn Hat #1

Here's Candy Corn Hat #1 modeled by James.  I started this a couple of days ago. Someone at my local knit shop recommended stuffing the top with tissue paper so the hat will keep its shape. I think that's a great idea! James seems delighted with his new hat. He didn't even try to take it off. I'll start Candy Corn Hat #2 today and then I'll get a photo of both boys together. I may even make a Candy Corn Hat #3 for my hubby for Halloween. He usually won't wear any type of costume, but he said he would wear a hat. Maybe I'll make one for me too. Have a great Autumn weekend friends!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Autumn Aspens Ablaze

    Yes, I know that Liam is missing. Paul had him in the front carrier when he took this picture.

Yarn Along: Holiday Knitting

I've started to think about the holidays and yes, it's early, but not really especially when knitting is involved.  Last year, I wanted to knit stockings for the twins, but adjusting to life with twins was and is difficult. So, although I continued to knit (a lot) last year, I didn't get to the stockings. Paul solved the problem and bought two matching plaid stockings that were just fine, but I wanted handmade stockings. So, I've started stocking number #1 and I'm just starting to turn the heel and of course, true to my nature, I set that project down and cast on  the Child's Fake Isle Tam (which I am more than half-way) and well, then I remembered I wanted to make Candy Corn Hats for the twins. So, I set down the Fair Isle hat and cast on Candy Corn Hat #1.  I think that if the twins will tolerate wearing the Candy Corn Hats then they will have simple, but cute costumes for Halloween. I spend too much time on Ravelry! Haven't I mentioned that I have issues with only reading one book at a time or knitting one project at a time? Is this curable?

Here are the links to the patterns I'm using:
Easy Christmas Stocking
Fake Isle Hat (This hat uses only two yarns, but one is Noro Silk Garden and it's variegated with long color changes and it makes this hat look way more difficult than it really is.)
Candy Corn Hat (I'm using Spud and Chloe Sweater in Ice Cream, Firefly and Pollen. The orange isn't dark enough, but it'll do.)

I just started reading Sally Clarkson's The Ministry of Motherhood with a study group.

Here's the fair isle hat up close. I used some leftover Cascade 220 for the contrasting color and it  probably wasn't a good choice since it makes the pattern difficult to see, but the Noro color changes are fun as they emerge row by row.

That's it for today. Please go visit Ginny's for more knitting inspiration.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tess reads Pride & Prejudice!

Yes, you read that right. My two year-old daughter is getting a head start reading Austen. Okay, I stumbled upon this delightful board book at the library this past week. It's a counting book in which she can count fancy ball gowns, marriage proposals, English villages and more. I think I'm going to have to buy Tess her own copy just because it's so darling and well, funny too. This just might be my favorite board book in a very long time!

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Pumpkin Pie Squares were the featured dessert at my last book club. Of course, it wouldn't be a Fall Treat without pumpkins. These pumpkin pie squares were like combining  the best of both traditional pumpkin and pecan pies. It's easier to prepare than regular pie and it's just delicious warm served with some whipped cream on the side. I don't think that I will ever again make a pumpkin pie without the brown sugar, butter and pecan topping.

I followed the directions, but doubled all the ingredients for the toopping! I live at a really high altitude and I had to bake it longer, but that's not unusual here. I also added more Ginger and added some Allspice. I like it a little spicy!  Try it and taste Autumn!