Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. 

I'm knitting Christmas presents for a couple of very special girls. I thought I was done with a dress for my best friend's younger daughter, but even though I added a couple of inches in length, I knew it was going to be too short for her. I decided to give the dress to Tess although I'm bummed that it didn't fit it's intended recipient because it would have matched her blue eyes perfectly. Anyway, I started knitting the dress again in the same yarn, but pink and in a bigger size. I expect that it won't take long even though it's miles of stockinette. Ireally hoped that I could have crossed something off my Christmas list, but I'm getting to be a pretty quick knitter. Hopefully, I won't lose steam on the 17 inches of skirt!

I've often mentioned that knitting is like a tonic for the sould when I'm stressed. I had a particularly stressful week. I left my knitting out on the kitchen table. Every time I walked by, I'd pick up my project and knit a few stitches-maybe two or three stitches. Then, I'd set it down and continue on with all the other things vying for my attention. The strange thing is that I could tell that knitting a few stitches released some tension. Those few stitches here and there were little pockets of peace in an otherwise chaotic day.

As for reading, I'm currently reading The Light Between Oceans.

I admit, I was pulled in by the lighthouse on the cover. It's going to be sad, extremely sad,  but I guess I'm more interested in the life of a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Australia. I've been reading a lot of novels lately.

For more yarn and books, visit Ginny.

Off My Game

I'm off my game. It's no secret that since the twins arrived, I've been way off my game. I can't just blame the twins. Life got bigger and fuller and busier and well, just more. My husband constantly tells me that "this too shall pass". I get a little sad because I don't want it all to pass too quickly. I don't want to wake up and realize that I missed it all hoping it would pass. It's the 5th of December and I haven't done much in the way of getting ready for Advent or Christmas. I'm going to sound like a total Grinch here, but getting all the decorations out feels like just one more thing I have to do. Of course, I don't want to Christmas to feel like a burden, but, right now, it does. 

The other night, I started reading our Christmas books to Tess and Sammy. This ritual is one of my favorite activities of the season. Sammy flipped out because I asked him to read one of the board books to Tess. He just didn't want to and well, it disrupted our book time. In my mind, reading to my children is one of the things that makes for an idyllic childhood. On the very first night we started reading, my ideal scene turned into a classic meltdown. I was more than disappointed. I felt like Advent was already a loss. Yes, you can say it. I'm very all or nothing. I tried to let go of the awful  frustration do something I struggle with. I hoped that our next reading time would be better. I tried not to dwell on the bad.

I've ranted a lot (on Facebook) about my absolute dislike of the 24/7 Christmas music radio stations beginning in early November. Somehow, the Christmas music seems less magical when it gets nearly two full months of constant air play and don't get me started about how depressing some Christmas music is. Yes, Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year.
Life move pretty fast. If you don't stop and take a look around, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller said that. There's wisdom to be found in Ferris Bueller.I expect that Advent will move quickly, but slow down? Seems impossible.
  I think about that quote a lot. So, maybe finding a way to experience deep joy even in the midst of chaos is the path to choose rather than constantly telling myself that this too shall pass.

We celebrate St. Nicholas day in my house and typically, I get each of the kids a new ornament and some chocolate coins. This year, I wanted to knit ornaments, but I didn't. It's not like I haven't been knitting because I have been knitting in every spare second of my days. I just didn't get to the ornaments. I still might try and knit them, but instead I ordered each child a Christmas/Advent/Winter themed book to add to our holiday collection. I discovered that it's really difficult to find the perfect holiday book for a 13 year-old.  I ordered The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for Luke. I remember reading it when I was about his age and enjoying it. It wasn't my first choice. I think I will dig out our copy of Letters From Father Christmas by JRR Tolkien for him as well. 

Before I started writing this post, I knew that it was going to be kind of a downer. It turns out that I'm not alone.  Christmas can be overwhelming and yet, we're supposed to be joyfully and peacefully awaiting the baby in the manger. My good friend Elizabeth has been posting all kinds of good stuff about Advent and Christmas. She's been my inspiration for years and this year, I honed in on something about gift-giving in her recent post.
Gift-giving is a whole other source of stress. I love choosing just the right gift. I spend a lot of time searching for the best gift. I love buying supplies to make just the right gift. Any excuse to buy yarn or fabric, right? I used to go with the three gift rule for each child. Since the Wise Men brought Jesus three gifts, I thought three gifts per kid seemed reasonable. I think many people use this rule of thumb for selecting gifts for their children. I usually give something that they need, something to read, and something that they want. Five children multiplied by three equals brain overload. I can't do it anymore. Our house is small and the things that go here have to be meaningful. Elizabeth mentioned selecting one gift that really speaks to the child. What a burden lifted! Even with three gifts per child, Christmas started to feel like it's all about the gifts. Gifts are great and gifts are fun and gifts can be magical, but gifts aren't everything. 

So, I'm changing some things this year and I hope that these small changes give me some peace and hopefully, the less-is-more approach will make for a more restful, peaceful, and happy Christmas. Hopefully.
I know that this rant isn't organized and well-crafted. I just let the words come and I didn't try to fix them much. 
By the way, here are the books that ordered for the kids. Board books for the twins. Fancy Nancy for Tess.    
Lighthouse Christmas for Sam. I am enchanted with lighthouses and I hope he will like it as much as I think I will. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Birthday Girl

                            She's 4 today! My little pink-obsessed princess girl is wearing blue. 
                                                  Happy birthday to my darling little girl.

Friday, November 9, 2012

November Knitting

Amazingly, I've finished three knitting projects this week, but I didn't get a post ready in time for this week's Yarn Along. I'm finding less and less time to blog these days. Life is very full.

 I realized that I have at least three different knitting bags filled with various projects in various stages of near completion. I had at least two projects that had been hibernating since last year. I finally decided to get serious and finish Sammy's sweater and a Christmas stocking. Although I knit the body of the sweater longer anticipating that Sam would grow a lot and knowing that I'd probably take forever to knit the sleeves, (I don't like knitting sleeves) the sweater fits perfectly right now. I mean, this sounds all well and good, but it really means that I waited too long and he grew too much and he won't get to wear his sweater very long. Okay. Lesson learned. Kids keep growing. Don't let projects for your children hibernate so long!

I knit this little hat this week. This is the Pippa Toque and it's a free pattern on Ravelry. This was a fun and very quick knit. I surprised myself by knittting this hat in less than a week. I'm really enjoying color work right now and I have several Fair Isle hats on my favorites list on Ravelry right now. Color work is like painting with yarn.

Has all this knitting this week made the three knitting bags smaller? No There are still three knitting totes. I don't know how this possible. No matter how much I knit, the bags of yarn always seem remain full. I suppose this is a good problem to have.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sammy in October

I should have added this picture in my October collection. This might be my new favorite picture of Sammy. This kid is so cute, sweet, and lovable. I know I added this picture to Facebook, but I couldn't leave this picture our of my Autumn 2012 collection here on my blog.  Oh, October why do I have to wait another year for you? Actually, I can wait. I don't want this little boy getting any bigger faster. I'm holding on to the here and now.

The October that was

My little corner of cyberspace has been so neglected of late. Honestly, I just haven't felt like blogging recently. Since I returned from my trip to the UK and Iceland, we were without a computer. After the demise of our last laptop, we bought a new one only to have it quit on us after five days! We sent it back and for whatever reason, they could not send a replacement within a month. The shipment kept getting delayed and we decided to cancel the order. So, I started taking lots of pictures on Instagram and posting them to Facebook while we were without a computer. I have to admit that Instagram is just so easy and quick. I suppose that some of my enthusiasm for blogging has transferred over there. Anyhow, I'm back and I apologize if you've seen some of these pictures already either on Facebook or Instagram.

Here I am on the first of November lamenting the end of my favorite month of the year. I love October as it's truly the best time of the year for me. The oranges, browns, yellows, greens, and earthy hues fill my senses and make me long for warm hand knit items and pumpkin spice lattes. It's cozy and well, it's over for this year. The trees are now looking almost barren, but there are some that still have leaves, but they are past their prime. It doesn't matter. I still love that deep complex brownish-orange. I soak up all of Autumn until that last leaf drops.

Here's what made our October. Our little twins, Liam and James turned 2. I actually cannot believe that they are 2 already. Our little chunky monkeys are 2! I'm so happy that they decided to be born in my favorite month. October got even better with their arrival. This year, I wanted to celebrate in a low-key fashion and head out to one of our favorite pumpkin patches in Boulder, but it was a very rainy day. We went to the pumpkin patch anyway and only Sammy and I got out of the car. We raced in and bought three pumpkin pie pumpkins for the twins and Tesss and then, since we trekked all the way to Boulder, I dragged everyone to a yarn shop. Liam ended up getting sick in the car and well, it wasn't the birthday I had envisioned for the twins. I baked them a little pumpkin bundt. There's a picture in my collection of October photos above. I think it goes without saying that I love Autumn baking (all those spices!) as well.

I did my fair share of knitting too. I started a sweater for myself! It's miles of stockinette and I've already started to doubt that this sweater will look like anything other than a hand knit sweatshirt. There's a reason I don't knit for myself. There's a picture of the sweater in the photos above as well. It's the red, pink, and black-striped yarn. What was I thinking with horizontal stripes? Of course, I've set it aside for other projects like a blue dress I'm knitting for a certain little girl I know (not Tess).

Luke and I are tackling a lot of school work  right now. He's doing a fair share of his work independently these days, but I still ask him to cook with me or write with me. We're planning to read Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival together for some science reading beginning tomorrow. It's not the kind of book that I would normally read aloud. We're each going to read a chapter every couple of days and then discuss it. He's plenty busy reading, making stop-motion films with his Legos, taking care of his five chickens, learning high school Latin, writing a novel, and finishing up Algebra I. He would have been done with Algebra in early summer, but that's when we started to have some computer issues and the computer lost all of his work. I made him do it all over again, but Algebra has become something that he loves. He keeps a nature journal. He grumbles about French, but I'll get him back on track there. We're diagramming sentences and we talk the importance of good grammar every day. As the weather has become more chilly and the twins are napping, we watch The Story of Us and talk about the history of the United States. I love the home educating life and I'm passionate about lifelong learning. It's the biggest lesson that I try to instill in my children. I want them to want to learn all the time. I want them to be curious. I got off on a home educating tangent, but all these things are/were part of our October learning. For some reason, I'm always more optimistic and idealistic about our learning plans in October. Right now, as I blog, Luke is in the room with me. He's working on his novel. I'm sure it will be in the science fiction/fantasy genre. It's quiet right now and we have this time together. I'm cherishing this moment. Right now.

As I move into November and the Advent Season, I hope for more moments to cherish.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October Yarn Along

I'm back from my Grand Adventure and I'm ready to get back into my normal routine! Last Saturday, I was on a plane from Reykjavik, Iceland headed back home from a two week trip to the UK, Guernsey and Iceland. I had over 7 hours in which I could  knit, uninterrupted! So, I happily began working on the Four Seasons Hat in Winter. I knit a good chunk of this hat on the plane! I ordered the kit to knit this hat and I'm very glad that I did although my hat looks like most of the projects on Ravelry. This yarn is just fabulous. There are five colors, but each row only uses two colors at a time making the color work much more manageable. This hat is a little snug, but a little blocking may help.

Here's a photo of me wearing the hat. I'm not a very good subject for photos. I often think that I am smiling, but it turn's out that I'm usually just barely smiling. My oldest son, Luke took this photo of me with our aspen trees. I think that October is the best month of the year.There's no contest for me. I look forward to Autumn and Autumn colors all year. So, my Winter hat doesn't quite fit in with those fiery aspens, but guess what? There's an Autumn version of this hat and I want to knit that one too, but by the time I get around to it, those aspen leaves will all be gone!

As for reading, I'm reading The Flight of Gemma Hardy. This is a very good re-telling of Jane Eyre and it even takes place in Scotland and Iceland-two places I visited on my recent trip!

                     For More Yarn adventures, go ahead and click on over to Ginny's!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm off on a grand adventure...

After over a year planning, tomorrow, I am leaving on a grand adventure with my dearest friend, Stephanie. We've grown up together. We met as freshmen in high school and here we are celebrating our 40th birthdays together! We will spend a little time with Jane at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath and yes, I do have a Regency costume. There will pics.

Jane Austen

After reading the delightful, The Guernsey Literary and PotatoPie Society a couple years ago, I had a huge desire to see this island. It sounds perfectly enchanting. This trip is somewhat of a literary tour for us.
In addition to spending time with Miss Austen, we will spend some time in Scotland and I expect to see some spectacular tartans!

Stonehenge-A must see

We'll end our trip in Iceland and I can't wait to be dazzled by the Aurora Borealis.
It's really a trip of a lifetime and a celebration of friendship! Doesn't this landscape look
absolutely dramatic and captivating?

So, tomorrow, I'm off to the UK for an adventure. If you have a moment, say a prayer for us for safe travels and a prayer for my husband and children. I will miss them all terribly.
I will see you in two weeks!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our Big Summer Results!

Western Tanager

Luke and I had a good time birding over the summer. After watching the film, The Big Year with Jack Black and Steve Martin, we agreed to do a Big Summer. We knew that we would see a ton of birds we don't see in Colorado on our trip to the Outer Banks. We carried this book with us all over the Outer Banks. We flipped through this book constantly. I think I missed a chance to see an osprey because I was looking in this book. Luke knows his birds way better than I do and thus, he was able to distinguish between similar looking birds much easier. On the day that we were at the Kitty Hawk Memorial, I saw an interesting bird that I knew wasn't on my list. I asked Luke what it was. He wasn't feeling well that day and he barely responded. Little did I know that he was getting Chicken Pox! I'm still bummed about missing that bird at Kitty Hawk!

Paul took the big boys on a jeep trip on the beach to see wild horses and that's where Luke got way ahead of me on his bird list. He came back from the wild horse tour more excited about how many new birds he had seen than about the horses. At that point, I knew he was going to win. So, I made up a crazy rule that whoever saw a Western Tanager, no matter how many birds on one's list, wins. Of course, Luke thought this was entirely unfair and well, I thought this rule made the Big Summer a little more exciting. It could be anybody's game.

Western Tanagers are native to Colorado, but I haven't seen one where we live. Neither of us has a Western Tanager on our list. Luke wins!

Here's my list:

1. Red-breasted Nuthatch
2. American Robin
3. Common Raven
4. Mountain Bluebird
5. Red-winged Blackbird
6. Canada Goose
7. Scissor-tailed Fly Catcher
8. Black-billed Magpie
9. Common Grackle
10. Downy Woodpecker
11. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
12. House Sparrow
13. Laughing Gull
14. Brown Thrasher
15. Rock Pigeon
16. Northern Mockingbird
17. Herring Gull
18. Eastern Bluebird
19. Northern Cardinal
21. Brown Pelican
22. Purple Martin
23. Great Black-backed Gull
24. American Crow
25. White Ibis
26. Great Egret
27. Ring-billed Gull
28. White-breasted Nuthatch
29. Cormorant
30. Mallard
31. Steller's Jay
32. Mountain Chickadee
33. Black-capped Chickadee
Western Tanager

It's hard to believe that the winner of the Big Year competition saw over 700 different species of birds.  A serious birder could get my list in less than a day!
Now for Luke's list:

1. Crow
2. American Robin
3. Common Grackle
4. Canada Goose
5. Mallard Duck
6. Common Raven
7. Red-winged Blackbird
8. Scissor-tailed Swift
9. House Sparrow
10. Red-Winged Hawk
11. American Kestrel
12. Red-breasted Nuthatch
13. Mountain Chickadee
14. Herring Gull
15. Brown Thrasher
16. Bald Eagle
17. Laughing Gull
18. Rock Pigeon
19. Northern Cardinal
20. Northern Mockingbird
21. Eastern Towhee
22. Black Vulture
23. Osprey
24. Forster's Tern
25. Great Black-backed Gull
26. Ring-billed Gull
27. Boat-tailed Grackle
28. Brown Pelican
29. Barn Swallow
30. Brown-headed Nuthatch
31. Gray Catbird
32. House Finch
33. Purple Martin
34. Mourning Dove
35. White Ibis
36. Great Egret
37. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
38. Black-capped Chickadee
39. Brown-headed Cowbird
40. European Starling
41. Red-winged Blackbird
42. Fish Crow
43. Turkey Vulture
44. Double-breasted Cormorant
45. Black and White Warbler
46. Downy Woodpecker
47. Hairy Woodpecker
48. Northern Flicker
49. Black-Crowned Night Heron
50. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
51. Eastern Bluebird
52. Steller's Jay

Next up? The Big Winter!

Yarn Along: September Edition

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  

Instagram photo

I am reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. How is it that I have never read this book before? This is  my September book club selection.

I have been away from the Yarn Alongs most of the Summer. Not because I haven't been knitting, but I haven't really finished much this Summer. Also, due to a certain twin, my laptop broke. So, I ended up neglecting my blog this summer and the weekly Yarn Along.

 I got this crazy idea to knit stocking caps for everyone in my family for our Christmas card photo. I'm on hat #2. I only have 5 more hats to knit. This seems like a goal I can manage. It's really a simple hat with endless stockinette. I do, however, need to learn how to make a pom-pom. The above hat is for Tess. Simple wide red and pink stripes make for a striking holiday hat. I'm thinking about Gryffindor colors for Luke, but I haven't decided on colors for the rest of the boys in my family. I still have time. I think.

Head on over to Ginny's for more reading and knitting.