Monday, December 11, 2017

The Clever Hen, open for business!












Winter is upon us.  Here in the Northwest the trees are barren, the skies cloudy, the garden is asleep.  The water for all our animals is frozen every morning, so we haul out warm water to thaw it out.  We begin our first week of winter break and hopefully will spend the days preparing of Christmas in our home and in our greater community on the Rez.  This year this has involved making several dozen sugar cookies and making a nearly forty fleecy gifts for the children who come to Kingdom Kids, which are now piled high in our guest room, aka Santa's workshop.  

I am delighted to share here that I have opened a little Etsy shop, The Clever Hen, for selling handknit items for all ages.  Over the years I have had so many friends and family members ask when I will begin to sell some of the things I make and I always shrug and end up deciding I haven't had time to knit what I wanted to knit and knit to sell.  Now that my little girls are a bit older and I squeeze in knitting during school hours and evenings, I took the plunge and listed a few of my favorite things in the shop that I actually reserved and began to dream about five years ago.  This has actually kept me so busy that I am just now catching up on all the private local orders I've had!  I've sold several custom knits to local friends this month and have a few more in the wings, not to mention a lot of exciting plans and ideas for the types of listings I want to create and list once there is a lull.  I am prepping an adult Anthropologie-copycat hat in a soft pink with satin ribbon (so pretty) and have a chunky cowl in mind after that. I am still working on sprucing up the shop with photos and announcements, and eventually will host a few giveaways, probably through my Instagram, so if you think you might be interested, go follow me over there!

I have made firm guidelines about which toys the girls are allowed to play with in a given week and they must ask to bring anything out besides the toys assigned for the week.  I was discovering that I either needed to pare our beautiful toys down a lot (which I hate to do because I LOVE high quality children's toys which is why we have several options) or create a loose system that avoids five different expansive play options all out in different rooms at one time in one afternoon.  Beyond the logistics of cleaning and tidiness, I was suspecting it would bring increased focus to their play and sure enough, that does seem to be true.  It is my sincere hope that having fewer toy choice at one time will make this winter survivable ... for me.  I am not yet really very good at keeping such a large house tidy while also balancing motherhood, homeschooling, and ministry. While I'm the first to acknowledge what a delightful problem that is to have... it's still a problem!  

So happy December to all of my friends who have found me here. Let me know you stopped by so I can visit you back!  Check out my shop and see what I've been working on!  





Tuesday, September 26, 2017

...motherhood is fierce and wonderful... (and my lengthy current booklist!)







Fall colors, fair fun, moody skies.  School days fly by with lots of books and drawing and music and math.  Millie is learning about ancient British history, which is a pre-cursor to the (closer-to-home) American history Lyddie is now learning.  I am reading through a lot of the girls' books ahead of time so that I am a little ahead of the curve.  Homeschooling is really a part-time job, did you know that?  It takes me several hours every day to prep, teach, clean up, and prep for the next day.  It means I have to pick and choose what I'm able to accomplish or participate in very carefully to leave time for keeping up with running the home, spending time with Rosie, managing my friendships that I cherish, and maintaining one or two things that are mainly for me, like knitting or cross-stitching or reading or, yes, exercising (my least favorite but probably most essential renewed "hobby").  If something doesn't make the cut it doesn't mean it's not wonderful or important but just that I am so completely aware of my finite abilities that I know I won't do anything well if I add it in.  What a balancing act. 

We are participating/helping with Kingdom Kids two afternoons a week.  All of us girls really enjoy going and being with the kids and having fun.  I find it really life-giving. I try to keep an open hand with whatever the Lord has put in front of me, knowing that my main priorities of mothering this stage may call me elsewhere, but I feel thankful that my little three are doing well and enabling me to participate in something outside of our home that brings me such joy and delight in the long run. 

I haven't done any canning or preserving of any kind this year, which is really unusual but unsurprising, so to make up for it, I bought two boxes of peaches that I'm quickly trying to can so we have several jars to grab this winter to go alongside soup dinners. Fourteen jars in and I still have another whole box to put up.  I also have a cantaloupe I want to make into jam from Food in Jars- a recipe I've been wanting to try for a few years because we really love melon.  I plan to do some applesauce too, if I can, and that's about it.  

We had a surprise batch of chicks hatch from a broody free-ranging hen and they are just the absolute cutest thing.  Although we weren't desirous of any more chickens, (we already have about 17), I never get tired of watching them trail after their mama, who is as protective as can be and fiercely fluffs her feathers up and will fly at anyone ostensibly posing a threat to her brood.  Motherhood is fierce and wonderful. 

As long as I'm just writing a rambly post, I'll note my booklist:  

  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a really well written novel in the fantasy genre but is what I'd call "gateway" fantasy.  The story is very good and it doesn't really fit all the "tropes" that some of the fantasy series rely so heavily on.  Jesse also picked it up to reread it after I started, in order to beat me to the second book, which, since I did give it to him last year as a gift, I guess I should defer to him.
  •  I'm also reading Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix, 
  • Slowly making my way through Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, 
  • Reading Volume II: Parents and Children of Charlotte Mason's Home Education series (excellent and full of Aha! moments!)
  •  finally nearing the end of listening to The Count of Monte Cristo along with the CraftLit podcast
  • and delighting in listening to The Green Jacket  along with the Forgotten Classics podcast
For the girls' school pre-reading, I just read 

  • Pinocchio for the first time ever and
  • Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle, which is a book I remember really loving when I read it as a child for school and I think Lyddie is going to love it when I hand it to her as a free read,  
  • Now I'm working on the Crimson Fairy Book of fairy stories compiled by Andrew Lang. 
 I don't know how I'm squeezing in so much reading; I'm not really, I just fly through the school books in a couple days each, and my own reading is much slower than that.  How lovely it is that there are so many delicious books.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

September is nice













  


 Back to school!  Busy as can be, I wake up early every morning and head to bed a little too late, just to stay on top of things right now.  The sky turns to dusk earlier and earlier so that by 8:30 the sun has set and it's quite dark, and I get so disoriented; surely it's time to turn in but there's still so much to do.  

Homeschooling two in these early years is surprisingly not much more work than one so far, especially since I spent a significant amount of time this summer preparing and planning.  We start school at 8,break for chores at 9, and are done with most everything by noon.  The mornings are jam-packed with a great variety of short lessons: Bible, poetry, memorization, drawing, spelling, math, literature, history, geography, natural science, a variety of music, penmanship, and other happy things.  Rosie loves to join in sometimes and other times she's making her own fun in the mud or on the swings or in the sensory bins I have put together for her.  Afternoons hold splashing in homemade mud puddles while swinging, knitting**, stripping bark from walking sticks ("Daddy's going to give it an oil finish if we get all the bark off!!"), cross-stitch, playing with frogs, digging in the dirt, a bit more pleasure reading... September is nice. 

Lyddie and Millie had their very first ballet class this week and couldn't have been more delighted.  Rosie will be well prepared when it comes to be her turn in a couple years since they have spent all kinds of time talking and teaching her what they learned.  And they are just the sweetest little ballerinas in their dearly loved leotards.  

** I am working on a little knit dress for Rosie that she picked out called Anakhoreo by Taiga Hilliard, who designed the Rio dress I made for Rosie when she was an infant, and which she was able to wear until she was probably three.  This is a very similar pattern but with a cable panel rather than a seed stitch panel.  Part of why I loved the Rio so much was the yarn - frog tree pediboo was delightful and totally held up like a dream.  This is just knit picks swish which I like - it's a good quality for the price, but which will probably not hold up as well and it definitely won't have the same soft drape as the Pediboo. But it will be sweet all the same!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

august 10 glimpse






















Suddenly the light stands out to me everywhere.  I realized I am not photographing my children, or my surroundings.   I'm photographing light.  That sudden lightning bolt has affected my mental process behind the camera recently and I am always looking to capture the light.  I know that it is a very basic and simple photography concept that took way too long to really click into my head but it's not really my head it clicked into; it is more my heart and my understanding of light and shadows and how their interplay makes up the world around us.  There's a metaphor there. I doubt there is any visible difference in my pictures, but the consciousness is there and ready to be stretched and developed.  I really love the way a camera captures beauty, sorrow, fear, disgust - all these things that can be contemplated later and remembered with a sigh or a laugh.  It is my life that I am capturing with the light.  

I accidentally capture my children's personalities - Lyddie trying out whether she likes to perform for the camera or ignore it, Rosie mostly unconscious of me in the background looking for the light, Millie deliberately ignoring mostly, but eager to see the pictures later and smiling at the memories they hold.   

My favorite current book holds the same light and shadows.  Lila by Marilynne Robinson does not disappoint after having read Gilead by the same author.  I am swept along in Lila's thoughts, and it is fascinating to hear her story from her own perspective after having read the other book from her husband's point of view.  Her childhood of neglect and rescuing, her early adulthood of abandonment and sorrow, her mature womanhood with a pinprick of faith alongside all the mistrust and doubt that come naturally after traumatic experiences.  I really do get lost in her memories and reflections as I wander the outskirts of Gilead with her.  It is reminiscent of Wendell Berry but rather than writing about fairly healthy and functional communities that are evaporating, Robinson seems drawn to the beauty in the midst of the brokenness.  Not that Berry doesn't succeed in the same things, but they are different in that way.  If you like Wendell Berry, you will probably like giving this author a go. If you do or if you have already read her books, drop me a note and let me know what you think in the comments.