Sunday, February 07, 2016

Sleek pins of February

The promise of spring pressing up through the dirt
The wooing of beauty and from gray yarn
Celebrating a friend's first birthday on the Rez, an encouraging sister who brings light into whatever room she enters
The astounding delicacy of nature captured by this amazing photographer
Hearing from a dear sister about special Navajo traditions and the similarities she sees in what we are studying in John together
Glancing across the library to see the Littlest flipping slowly through pages of book after book
His promise that all things work together for good- no matter what
The peace that promise brings in the face of unknowns
Paperwhites rising tall against the gray
Watching my little big girl start learning to make chocolate chip cookies

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

yarn along: nourishment

I was so surprised to see little shoots pressing their hardest up from the cloddish earth this week.  Already!  Monday I heard a mourning dove for the first time in awhile, I hadn't even quite noticed they had left until I heard it cooing up on the power line in the morning. I have missed their song which immediately transports me to beautiful summer mornings before the heat descends. Other darling little birds have kept me company all the cold months including that one pictured in the tree, which I am pretty sure is a Spotted Towhee. They are such cheery little creatures bobbing around with the sparrows and juncos in search of food.

I had to take my Hitofude off the needles this week (shudder!!) to frog about 8 rows after dropping a few stitches I couldn't recover.  I've finally got the ability to pick up dropped stitches even several rows back but this was right in the middle of yarn overs and k2togs and I just couldn't figure it.  I was able to get the whole thing frogged, the stitches back on the needles and a quarter of the undone part re-knit in one evening.  Worth celebrating, I say!

My resolve to read more this year is keeping my mind nourished and I feel like maybe I have interesting things  to say that don't include the word "laundry" although what I could have to say  about laundry that is interesting, I don't know. I finished the books I scheduled for January and am well into my February books, to which I added The Poisonwood Bible in a read-along with some of you all, hosted by Amanda!  I will have a lot to say about this book, I imagine, and I have always really appreciated Barbara Kingsolver's books.  It's not too late to join us, especially if you can get a copy at your library or if you have it on your bookshelf waiting for some inspired moment like this (like I did)!

Other books open right now:
Winnie-the-Pooh (with the girls for read aloud time), these could handle re-reading often, they are so darling and funny and really funnier the older you get.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome which I will finish up this week and may be tempted to add more of the series to my plan for the year because I love it so much.
The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels, you can see my thoughts on this book so far here
Hamlet (audio book via Chop Bard)
Charlotte Mason vol. 1 Home Education which I'm reading at a snail's pace

We are about to start going through The Count of Monte Cristo at the CraftLit podcast this Friday and you should join us because it's not like any other audiobook you'll listen to!  Heather does a great job delivering background information and teaching the book a little at a time.  I recall so much about each book I go through with CraftLit because the slow pace allows me to really absorb and soak in the characters and story.  I'm listening to Hamlet the same way.

I'm linking to the Yarn Along hosted by Ginny.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

come sail away



First.  If you are a mom of any age child, especially a stay-at-home-mom (but not necessarily) please read this article because you probably need a laugh and this will do the trick:

I was laughing out loud, especially at this:
"THE KIDS." Says husband.
"What?" I ask again.
It is only then that I notice the screaming in the back seat. It has something to do with a receipt they found on the floor and who should be the proud owner of such a treasure. I try to explain that my ability to "tune-out" is a learned skill, but he doesn't want to be my student."
That right there is my life, receipt and all.  

Now I got that out of the way.  

I worked on my Hitofude this week.  Again. 

Isn't that cross-stitch sampler pattern from Alicia Paulson precious?  I haven't decided where it will hang once it's done but I'm sure I'll have no problem finding a spot.  Maybe this time I'll actually frame and display the finished product!

I am reading Swallows and Amazons (about halfway through) and l-o-v-e it.  It is so sweet and I keep remembering the little sailing course I took several years ago and realizing that I still remember many terms and remember how sailboats really work!  I would love to one day sail again; it's one of my favorite memories and there is something incredible about it.

I'm working my way through The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels (blog of the same name) and, you know... I'm on the fence about whether I actually like it or not.  As I read, I keep having a feeling like she lives in a land where I don't live - a land where money is probably no issue, or not much of one and your house is great to start with (and definitely not a shabby-not-chic-built 1940s home in the middle of the country).  This hit me this week as I read about her kitchen remodel.  After saying that she and her daughters decided to paint their kitchen cabinets, they sanded and primed, and the next day when it was peeling off, they "laughed" and had "professionals do it." (By "we laughed," does she mean break out into inconsolable tears and hide in the bathroom where you can let out a few curse words?  Because that's the kind of "laughing" I did when the same thing happened to me.)  I get it, that's great - if you have money for professionals to do it. Since we don't, we labored for many sweaty hours this summer over our hideous old cabinet doors.   So and so.  Her contractor took out the kitchen peninsula, her contractor looked this up for them and did this for them and that for them in a blink of an eye!  That's so great - if you have money to hire a contractor.  The principles in the book are valuable and I enjoy a lot of it and it's a good reference and challenge book, but it's not really addressing some of the obstacles and variables I am facing in making my house work for us in this moment.   Check in next week and see if I've changed my mind.  It's possible that with a different chapter on a different room I'll think differently.  However, since she probably won't include a section in the chapter about bedrooms on how to make a closet work as a bedroom, or what to do if you can only fit a bed and one dresser in your master bedroom, it may not help me much.  {A comparable book would be The Nesting Place and if I had to choose between the two to recommend, the winner hands-down would be The Nesting Place.  Anyway. Still enjoying it but I am glad I finally pinpointed what was kind of bothering me about it.}  

Oh and I couldn't help it, while I was working out on the other day I started a new novel that I had waiting on my Kindle:  Shiloh, by Helena Sorensen.  One of a series and definitely not the book about the dog. I don't like sad dog stories and you won't see those here.  It's going to be good, I think.  I really like the first few chapters I've read - they fill me with a longing for goodness and restoration.  

As I usually do, I'm linking up to Ginny today for the happy Yarn Along.  Won't you join too with your blog or with a picture on instagram?

(P.S.  A sweet friend gave me her old camera since my borrowed one needs to go home so bear with me the next while as I learn how to use my new-to-me camera... I finally am learning how to actually change settings in manual a little more smoothly and my pictures WILL get better again, I hope!  What a blessing to me that is! )

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

yarn along with love

 I finished my hat, With Love From Norway, and I love it.  It blocked out so nicely and although I was little worried before because it was so stiff, but of course once it blocked it softened up and smoothed out and fits so comfortably.  I picked my Hitofude back up and am making steady headway on it!  I am so torn between working on it or my cross-stitch project because I love them both but I just alternate and hope neither one of them gets hurt feelings when I choose the other. 

I finished books this week!  I finished the last of the Wingfeather Saga, The Warden and the Wolf King and I loved it.  Loved.  It is beautiful.  I actually realized a couple days later as I talked about with Jesse how much I loved it and how much I loved my new friends and how I miss them.  I also finished Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie and will definitely reread it several times over the next few years. 

Now I am on to reading Swallows and Amazons, a sweet story about four English siblings in the Lake District who sail and camp and more all summer.  It is so detailed but not boring so that you really feel like you can probably do what they do in the story if you had the chance.  I am also nearly finished with The Molehill, vol. 1, essays and short stories and poems and even a few illustrated recipes.  Slowly working my way through The Inspired Room. I am undecided about the last; so far there have been a few helpful exercises and I'm only on the second or third chapter, but it's pretty focused specifically on the author's own home so I can't always apply everything she's talking through to my old and rickety house.  But considering the many changes it's inspired me to keep making and thinking through the past few weeks, I can say I'm enjoying it and being challenged by it and I am excited to keep reading the rest of it.   

I am linking up with Ginny for her Yarn Along party as I always do.  What are you working on?  Leave me a comment so I know you stopped by!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

the deeps of winter {Glimpses of a January day}


Hello, my friends, happy middle-of-January.   As I write this, the snow swirls outside, and I wrap my frozen fingers around a warm mug of tea.  January continues to prove all the weather experts wrong and bless us with ice and wet and more wet.  Just when it had begun to thaw, another round began.  I have no complaint, I love to watch the brown blanketed over again with white and to see the pillows pile on the branches of our big spruce tree and fence posts. 

I wonder what I will wish to remember about this day when I look back on what I have written. 

I probably won't want to remember my fit of frustration and choice words toward the woodstove that wouldn't cooperate early this morning in the schoolhouse, or the way the toddler refused to stay in her room for rest time and I wanted to tear my hair out for just a few selfish moments of quiet.   And how that same toddler poured all the cat food out on the carpet in the playroom when I wasn't looking before lunch.  And I probably would be happy to forget the lunch dishes undone for the afternoon in the sink.  But those are regular parts of my day and I guess without the mess the rest might not be be as precious.

I will want to remember the short time I had to read quietly by myself with the storm blowing outside, even if it was interrupted several times to reinforce obedience.  I know I will be glad to remember the twenty minutes I set aside this morning to play on the floor with a mischievous two year old before lunch, who really needed attention.  I will wish to remember Lyddie's happy smile of triumph after a song played especially well during our piano lesson and how today she learned about the grand staff and how all music is written and the new door that cracked open further for her today into the world of music. 

And how we forsook that chilly schoolhouse when the fire just wouldn't light and cuddled in the warm house on my bed for our Circle Time, reading Mother Goose and Christina Rosetti and coming close to the end of Dragons of Blueland, us all enraptured by the adventures of Elmer and his friend, the dragon.  I'll wish to remember how sweet it is to hear a four and six year old reciting most of the first Psalm from memory and their little sister's voice chiming in with familiar words.  And how Lyddie produced the most lovely "a's" and "d's" in her handwriting book.  And how Millie, by listening in to her sister's lessons, can tell time to the hour.

I will hope to remember Millie pulling me impatiently by the hand to the bedroom when I tell her we will get to read the end of The Bears on Hemlock Mountain together this afternoon, and Lyddie's bright eyes when she begged me to read just another chapter of The Land of Oz.  

 I am enjoying our school plans and since there is no garden or growing things, I get to use my leftover time knitting and cross-stitching and reading.  Meals are simple and warm; soups and salads and casseroles served with a jar of homemade warm applesauce.  That's all you need really in the deeps of winter.  Afternoon baths for small people are a happy and warm way to pass the time indoors (these bath paints are so fun but we got them for a dollar each at Target!  Do you have fun bathtub ideas beside the obvious?).  I am not allowed to watch The Great British Baking Show (on Netflix) without Lyddie anymore, a mistake I'll only make once after the look of disappointment on her face when learning that she missed one of the episodes.  

In previous years I have muddled through January but this year it is my favorite.  It is peaceful.  It is beautiful.  I hope it is the same for you.  Warmest wishes, 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

really reading

Why, hello!  Happy January again, my friends.  
The house is a disheveled again, and again and then again.  It's not at all a holiday mess, this is just life-with-five-people-in-a-small-home mess.  A kitchen-remodel mess.  A sick-mom mess. 

We decided a couple months ago that we are going to work toward selling our house and buying something else in the area.  What does this mean for us?  I don't know.  I do know that we stopped feeling like this house is a blessing and instead has become a huge burden that can't really be adapted to what we need or want long term which clinched it.  So.  That makes my head spin and is a 180 degree turn from my teeth-gritting resolve to make this place work.  It was me, really, who needed to surrender.  It was me who kept stifling the little lightbulb that kept pinging on uncomfortably suggesting that maybe I needed to let go of the status-quo and trust that our good Father can (nay, does!) have good plans for us and will supply all our family needs whether that looks how I want it or not.   Sometimes, though, the hard things that we are familiar with are less scary and seem easier to live with in the moment than the unknown good blessings that we can trust Him for as we follow Him.  So. I'm working on it. 

I love grabbing moments to work on my Norway hat - with Lyddie reading aloud to me, there I am, needles clicking, even for the 5 minutes.  While the girls watch the end of the TV series of Heidi, I settle on the couch and watch too, white and purple and greens carried along the back for a double-thickness.  I am amazed how holding two colors has become more automatic.   The daylight hours fly by so quickly and are so full of things much more important than photos of my knitting, aren't they?  I think my tension has been pretty good; definitely consistent and I am happy with it.  I have a little fear over it being too tight but when I slide it on carefully it fits snug and perfect, not too loose nor too tight.  The final test is yet to come.  Two more rows of hearts to go and then the decreases.  I haven't touched Hitofude because I want this hat done and wearable for a good long time before the cold weather disappears.

Y'all, reading a small section in a book every night actually gets you somewhere!  Who'd have thought?  I have plowed through 200 pages in The Warden and the Wolf King in the past couple weeks!  It helps that it is so good that sometimes I keep reading to (gasp!) three or four chapters.  I am also about halfway through The Molehill vol. 1, a collection of short stories, essays, and poems by many of my favorites (favorite writers, singers, poets) which is also very good.  It is like healing water on my thirsty soul. And I am nearing the end of Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie who can be found and heard on the Read Aloud Revival podcast - if you're parent who loves books and wants their kids to love should click through that link. This book needs its own post.  I may or may not have highlighted 80% of it.
I am also listening to Hamlet on Chop Bard.

I will get back to The Inspired Room and will share more about it for those who asked, but I haven't picked it up this week. Because the next thing on my wishlist related to that book is a little rug for my entryway and I haven't been able to find one yet!