Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Springtime School


We are headed into the third and final term of the school year and it's been a really happy school year.  Those girls are getting big so fast!  
Millie is in the middle of her first grade year and we've been reading some beautiful books together, including British history (as a natural precursor to American history), some interesting historical tales like Cincinnatus and William Tell, Paddle to the Sea (geography of the Midwest) and other interesting simple biographies, then poetry by A.A. Milne!  Tales from Shakespeare!  She likes to walk around the property with the bird guide trying to identify some of the new birds migrating back from the south. To get some extra practice, we're taking a little time to play more math games to solidify math addition and subtraction facts as well as reading "Life of Fred" at teatime (something they BEG for).  She is incredibly artistic and our drawing lessons are a source of joy and sometimes angst when it's not going exactly the way she is hoping.

Second grade with Lyddie is as interesting and fun as the first year. In many ways it is a continuation of last year's work, and I can see so many specific ways that foundation is being built upon. Even many of our books are the same into next year (third grade) with a several additional books to go along with them. We just finished reading The Wind in the Willows, Heidi, and are finishing up The Little Duke, the true story and adventures of young Duke Richard of Normandy.  The latter has been a really interesting experience together, in part because it was a real challenge to wade through the language at the beginning of the school year but is no longer what seems like an insurmountable mountain. Along with drawing, both girls have been knitting and weaving looms and practicing piano. 

Rosie participates in a lot of the "riches" (picture study, composer, poetry, drawing); she just memorized the poem "Daffadowndilly" by AA Milne the last few weeks and is so cute reciting it as she goes about the house working on her chores. She is learning to read, my little baby learning to read.  How is it all going so fast?

Friday, January 05, 2018

Yarn Along cozy January

What a sweet thing to learn that the Yarn Along community is returning to Ginny's blog after a year's hiatus.  I have missed having a simple place to connect to other knitters and their projects!  
I am mainly knitting right now for The Clever Hen, (yes, I opened up a little shop this past fall and have been kept busy!) and am thankful for the orders I've received.   Currently on the needles is a hat I designed from an Anthropologie-inspiration; I wear my prototype (second picture above) all the time and hope that others will too. The big, feminine ribbon is able to go in the side or back.  I'm planning to make others in gold and gray and a romantic dusty blue too, and I've toyed with the idea of producing the pattern for sale eventually. 
I'm also working on a chunky cable knit hat in teal that will be topped with a big cream or gray pom pom... also for the shop...
And I just cast off a huge chunky cowl with the cutest bobbles; I love that cream with the glittery gold thread running through it so subtly. The (free!) pattern by While They Play Designs can be found here.  I've knit three of these over the years over the years as gifts and LOVE the pattern.  This one is going in the shop too (do you sense a theme to my January knitting?) along with a dark gray with a silver thread.  
I'm (obviously) excited about the different ideas and goals I have for the Hen this year.  <3 a="" been="" but="" cross-stitch="" few="" font="" for="" have="" haven="" i="" knits="" knitting="" lately.="" m="" much="" myself.="" nbsp="" needles="" not="" on="" personal="" t="" the="" them="" too="" ve="" when="" worked="" working="">
I've started my reading game strong this year; I'm on track to finish all three of the books pictured by the end of January. Robin Hood is a pre-read for school, the others are just for me.  I love the Madeline L'Engle series and was glancing back through my book journal for an entirely different reason when I realized I last read them almost exactly 11 years ago.  I couldn't believe it has been that long; it felt like only a couple years.

So happy about all the links I get to click through at this first Yarn Along of 2018 at Ginny's Yarn Along.  


Tidings of comfort and joy
The heavy winter days have descended and there is sickness, sorrow, pain, death. In contrast to the lights and the happiness that seem to be out around and everywhere during the holidays, grief is outlined all the more against the backdrop of joy.  It may be my own grief or it may be my neighbor's this time around, but the darkness of sin and its consequences stand darkly silhouetted. 

Remember those words the angel said: For behold. Behold. Stop and look. See here! he says. 
I bring you The Good News. 
I bring this Best news for all of you

yeah you
the one shivering in the cold with nowhere to go
the woman about to stick a needle in her vein in her vain search for comfort and joy
the tired mom who starts to suspect that she really never will be enough
the outlaw hiding from everyone he knows 
the child huddled under a blanket on the floor with his siblings
the ex-con who can't find work or purpose
the garbage collector
the prison guard
the Walmart bagger
the trucker on the lonely road, 
the executive trying to depend on himself alone, 
the soldier far from home in a lonely land 
All people. 

This is the only, {I'll say it again, THE ONLY} comfort and only joy we can find in the face of the great suffering included in human existence. "Look at this. The virgin will conceive and bear a son and they will call his name Immanuel which is 'God is with us.'" (Matthew 1:23)
God is with us.  Now bust open that sky with light and celebrate with love and hope and joy, not just last month around the tree but every day because every day brings the same good news that the angel brought when you have Jesus.

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!