Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Another year older...

...but another year wiser is debatable. Today is my 32nd birthday. I was thinking this morning of some wisdom I might have gleaned over my 32nd year to share with you, but I couldn't really come up with anything concrete, except this: Be in this moment, this day, this year. Be in this situation, good or bad, and savor it. It astounds me that Elizabeth will be 9 in 6 months, and Finn isn't really my baby anymore. I used to hear people say that, and I thought it was so contrived. I don't think that now. Now that I'm 32 and each year flies faster than the last. I'm the world's worst for being goal-oriented to a fault. Always looking toward the next activity, next holiday, next vacation...not enjoying today as much as I should be. Just my 2 cents. :)

For my 32nd birthday, Paul asked me if it would be ok to send me to the Steiner Institute in MA to take a workshop on Celebrating Festivals with Children for a week. My first thought: "um, no. That sounds lovely; maybe another year, but NO." The more we talked about it and I thought through the logistics (and there were ALOT of logistics) the more I warmed to the idea. Oh, not the idea of being away from my family. I'm especially wistful at the notion of being away from Finn for a week for the first time. But ultimately, I think this workshop has the potential to enrich our family and bring new meaning and new traditions into our home. As such, I guess I can miss my family immensely to learn these new skills and bring home new ideas. (Quite the martyr, aren't I, considering I'm the one leaving for a week.) Also, it is quite a generous birthday gift from my dear husband who will be mom and dad, taking care of all the responsibilities of our household while I'm gone for the week. And I immeasurably appreciate him, and this gift.

Last, but not least, I just wanted to share this photo of a wonderful kit that Paul bought me from She's Sew Slye on Etsy. How cool is that French material with the 1977 calendar? The kit includes several vintage fabrics and instructions for making a bag. I'm so (or is that sew?) excited to work on this project! probably after I return from MA :)

**photo #1 is from the Steiner Institute; photo #2 is from the She's Sew Slye shop on etsy

Monday, June 29, 2009

summer afternoon

Finn and I braved the late afternoon heat on this, our last day alone together, to commune with the flowers (and toys) in our front yard. Paul returns this evening, and I'm more than ready for him to be back. I'm also grateful for this bit of time I've had to spend some quality time with Finn before I'm gone for a week. (more about that tomorrow!)

Our mums are blooming!

Did you know they make 3D sidewalk chalk now? Hmmm...

Finn likes to weed! I hope this enjoyment of weeding sticks around to his older years!

And he really likes to roll cars down the driveway.

Our vincas are flowering like crazy.

Finn likes to push his scooter around more than actually ride it.

He also enjoys admiring the vincas from his rock seat.

Off to bath!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday with Finn

Paul left this morning on a trip to the midwest to visit his folks leaving just Finn and I for the weekend. (The big kids are with their other parents this weekend.) Shortly after he left this morning, I found a beautiful surprise waiting for me on our bed: two books that I have been seriously desiring for the last few months. Just flipping through them today has been a wonderful, relaxing experience, and I haven't even made anything from them yet.

Finn and I visited some friends this morning.

And I was able to help provide a tiny bit of guidance for making a felt bluebird to sit inside Grady's recycled sweater robot's tummy.

This afternoon, Finn and I picked our first official harvest from the garden. Our garden isn't overly large, but we're grateful for the opportunity to get some fresh veggies from our backyard. We cooked the zucchini immediately for dinner. :)

We didn't actually do Saturday Lunch today because we were out running around. So it is Saturday dinner this week! We found some amazing Cherokee Purple tomatoes, which is one of my favorite varieties even if it is ugly, bell peppers, fresh corn, and red garlic to cook with our zucchini.

I think Finn enjoyed the corn almost as much as I did! He was so serious about nibbling every kernel.

Friday, June 26, 2009

summer book basket

The kids have been enjoying our seasonal book basket since I updated last week with the summer books. I seemed to have a harder time finding summer books I loved as much as the fall, winter and spring books, but eventually I gathered a rather nice assortment that has been well appreciated by the kids.

Some of the favorites so far include:

Summer ~ Gerda Muller ~ because all of her seasonal set are so lovely and refreshing.
Peter in Blueberry Land ~ Elsa Beskow ~ I think we'd be hard pressed to find a Beskow book we didn't like, but this one with the blueberry-dressed boys and berry gifts for mother is so sweet.
Marshmallow Kisses ~ Linda Crotta Brennan ~ very sweet illustration, simple words
Snipp, Snapp, Snurr Learn to Swim ~ Maj Lindman ~ If you haven't read any of these Swedish stories, you are really missing something special. The illustrations will take you right back to the 40s & 50s.
Wave ~ Suzy Lee ~ gorgeous beach story told only through the chalk and charcoal illustrations
Blueberries for Sal ~ Robert McCloskey ~ perennial favorite of mamas and their little ones...and a pail of blueberries
Flower Fairies of the Summer ~ Cicely Mary Barker ~ beautiful poems about all the summer flowers

Thursday, June 25, 2009

summertime fun

Playing in creeks is the definition of summertime fun in my memories of childhood so we headed out to our favorite creek to escape the hot weather and indulge in some messy fun. Finn made his first foray into the unchartered territory of creek walking and tentatively hung out there for a few minutes.

Then decided the dry ground is his home for now.

Philip, on the contrary, spent his entire time in the creek, wading around, dropping rocks.

He even discovered a small hollow in a tree beside the creek that he was convinced was the home of a gnome.

So he left it a perfectly smooth rock as a reading chair and a walking stick, just in case the gnome should decide to go for a hike.

Paulie and Elizabeth decided to bring in Queen Anne's Lace to see if they could change the lace color with food coloring. Paulie's is harder to see since it's pink and our kitchen walls are red.

Elizabeth's blue showed up quite nicely.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

W.I.P. Wednesday

I've been a knitting machine over the last week or so, considering that I just tried circular needles for the first time about 2 weeks ago. The final result of that experiment is below, with another matching hat for a friend. I know that knitting wool hats in the middle of summer seems odd, but I have grand plans for all the stuff I want to figure out before Christmas. I have to start somewhere!

My stash is growing rapidly as I fall in love with new yarns and come up with new ideas for things I want to make for my family.

After finishing Elizabeth's (and friend's) hats, I found some yarn that I loved and decided to make myself a hat. I used Noro Kureyon wool, kind of nubby with vibrant color. I love the way it turned out. I made it long enough to cuff, and now Paulie wants a similar one with holes for his eyes so he can have a ski mask. I told him I'd see what I can do about that. ;)

On to my Work-In-Progress...I found some yummy, soft ecological wool yarn by Cascade Yarns at my local yarn shop only 2 days after I found the book, Knit Wit, at my local library. I fell in love with the striped yarn bag on the front cover of the book and decided to try my hand at something new--knitting and felting a bag. Instead of stripes, I'm just putting a blue trim at the top and making the rest of the bag in the twisted white/gray wool. I'll keep you posted as to how it turns out!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A new pet!

After a few months of hearing the kids beg, I broke down this weekend and bought the Venus Flytrap they had been ogling every time we set foot in Whole Foods. While I think it's ironic that a vegetarian family would own a carnivorous plant, I'm more than happy to accept help with the flies that seem to never leave our house. Almost immediately, Paulie and Philip set to work trying to catch a fly to feed Venus. Paulie spent nearly an hour weilding a floppy bookmark and finally knocked one unconscious. I, of course, like every good mother, made him stand there holding the unconscious fly until I could get some good shots.

When he initially dropped the fly into Venus's trap, he dropped it just a bit too far to the side, missing her trigger hairs so we were able to get a couple of shots of the fly just hanging out in Venus's trap. I wasn't able to get a good shot of the actual trigger hairs, called cilia, but you can see them on Wikipedia.

I pulled out a butter knife and barely tapped the fly to move it closer to the cilia, and before I could even reposition the camera, Venus's trap was closed! From the side of the plant, in the right light, you can even see the shadow of the fly in the trap.

We are learning alot from our little carnivorous pet. I hadn't thought of it until now, but I wonder if there are any good children's books with more information on Venus Flytraps? I'll have to check that out...

Monday, June 22, 2009

summer solstice

We visited the local solstice festival at a nearby arboretum yesterday. The weather was a little muggy, but didn't hit 95 like the day before, so we were grateful. The kids enjoyed themselves immensely in the beautiful gardens transformed by all the fairy-like activity.

Paul found the fairies hiding place.

The kids crossed over the bridge into the fairies frolic area where a drumming circle had commenced.

Elizabeth purchased a streaming halo.

Finn had a blast in the mist tent.

All the kids took a break to finish their snow cones.

We enjoyed the lovely flowers. (We were at the arboretum, after all.)

We kicked up our feet.

And got our faces, and arms, painted.

A midsummer night's dream was had by all...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer!!

We rang in summer by making some felty gnomes yesterday using the tutorial by Wee Folk Art. The kids had a blast picking out their summery felt colors then gluing them together.

Philip's gnome immediately decided he liked tending the garden and started picking the ripe produce. The other gnomes were ecstatic to find a caretaker had been born into their bunch.

The other way we celebrated the entrance of summer was to have a lunch entirely provided by our local farmer's market. Finn couldn't even wait for the food to be served; he just had to dig into those blueberries!

Everyone had their favorites, of course.

Finn's favorite was the white cheddar blueberry train...

But the general fare was Honey Oatmeal Wheat bread from the Amish stand, rosemary flatbread as a special treat for Daddy (it is also Father's Day, you know!) with locally made white cheddar cheese, cucumbers marinated in red wine vinegar and olive oil, blueberries and plums. (I think I did see some other items sneak onto the table, like white peaches and kiwi, but my eyes were fixed on the yummy breads and the blueberries. Oh the blueberries...we'll be off to pick some of those soon!)

Friday, June 19, 2009

a low-key kind of day

Paulie and Elizabeth woke up a bit out-of-sorts this morning, probably more exhausted from the craziness of the last 2 weeks than anything, and asked if they could stay home with me while I worked today instead of going to the summer program at the Y. I, of course, agreed, with the understanding that they were to entertain themselves because mommy still has to work. ;) How long do you think that lasted? By 10 am, Paulie was asking to be taught how to needlefelt, and typically, Elizabeth was too caught up in a book to show him, so I took a few minutes break to show him the ins-and-outs of needlefelting. His summary of the experience: "needlefelting is hard and dangerous!"

And what else would be the first felty from a kid in a veggie family, but a hamburger! (to be fair, he is omnivorous at his mom's house)

A short trip to the library over my lunch break gave us a few hours of quiet...especially once they realized that there were prizes involved for 8+ hours of reading through the summer reading program at our library.

Elizabeth decided to make her own book about the Suger [sic] family. Kids' names: Fudge, Chocolate and Cream. I think the inspiration for that would be the Judy Blume books she's been reading lately.

Then I caught them giggling uncontrollably in the library while making the wooden figure model do various dance moves.

This next picture didn't happen until after dinner when Paul, et al, returned home, but Finn's muffin-smeared face playing a wooden recorder was too cute to resist posting. Elizabeth's indignant reaction: "Now he's not just slobbering on my recorder, but he's getting muffin slime on it too!"