Wednesday, January 29, 2014

snow day

In case you haven't heard, it snowed here in the south yesterday. The kids went out as early as I would let them, around 9:30 am when the temps were almost 20°. Even though our area only received about 2 inches of snow, the relatively minor amount of snow didn't seem to matter to my crew. Schools closed, and they had a blast in the deepest snowfall we've had in about 2 years.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

celebrating Elizabeth

The sweet, fiercely-independent baby girl that made me a mama is 13 today. I truly can't believe it. We'll have our family dinner and celebration this evening, but over this past weekend, we got a jump start on the celebrating. 

My parents came on Thursday evening to take Elizabeth to a local milkshake joint and give her the gift that my mother has labored on for many months. (They had to fly back to the Philippines, where they live, early this morning which is why they celebrated with her early.) As expected, Elizabeth loved her scrapbook enormously. She's the most sentimental about photos, birthdays, and the passage of time of all of our children. This truly was the perfect gift for her 13th birthday, the birthday where she moves from being a child toward her adulthood.

And on Saturday, we threw her a bigger-than-usual birthday party at the local bowling alley. She enjoys bowling, and even more than that she enjoys spending time with her large circle of friends, many of whom she's known since kindergarten.

I don't think they even made it through an entire bowling game. But they sure had fun together.

Thirteen can be such a hard yet joyful age. I feel fortunate that she has such a tight-knit group of friends, whose parents are my friends, to move with her through these adolescent years.

Monday, January 27, 2014

updates in the library

I wish I had taken a few "before" shots of the library. Then you could how much more orderly this room has become over the last month. Alas, I was so focused on the reorganization, that the before shots completely slipped my mind. Suffice to say, there was double-parking of books, many books laying on their sides on top of other books, and general chaos that happens when you outgrow the number of shelves available for occupation. Not to mention, unless you knew where a book was located, it was often a wild goose chase. With space so tight, we'd long given up our original topical shelf organization. Paul and I spent a weekend at the beginning of January completely removing every book from the library shelves, shedding a number of books from our collection, then reorganizing by topic.

And the reason that we were able to reorganize the entire library and make room for new books that will undoubtably make their way into our home, we decided to add bookshelves to our bedroom. Well, I decided. The whole undertaking was a surprise for Paul for Christmas. My parents were so generous to stop at Ikea and squeeze these 83" tall shelves into their car to bring them to me. Then, the weekend before Christmas, while Paul was out for the morning, my dad put them together. Paul was thrilled and many of his books have been relocated to this shelf. Now we have plenty of room to expand in both locations, which is thrilling to me!

Also, back to the library, I don't think I ever shared about this beautiful desk (ignore the mess of cords underneath) that Paul bought me back in the summer. A friend has a vintage shop downtown, and we saw this Paul McCobb desk with satellite legs one weekend while we were visiting her shop. I was smitten, and while I was out of town with the kids the next week, Paul bought it for me and located it to the library for a surprise when I returned.

Then back around Thanksgiving, another friend was getting rid of this vintage typewriter. When I swooned over the picture on Facebook, he offered it in exchange for a handknit hat. The best investment of a hat that I ever made! I intend to have it cleaned and hopefully fixed soon. Until then, we just admire her beauty.

Back in the early fall, when we were visiting a favorite local coffee haunt (because coffee served out of an Airstream is always better), we stumbled through the furniture showroom next door and walked away with the perfect chair to go with our desk, on sale, no less. The laptop at that desk has become the kids laptop, for homework and other queries, which means they are using the desk more than I am at this point. For now, anyway.

At the same furniture shop, we found this amazing piece of modern design, the Node chair, and we knew that we couldn't leave without it. The chair and desk part completely swivel. The kids use it quite often for drawing, especially while listening to audiobooks on the laptop across the room.

With the addition of these pieces of furniture (the first we've bought in years), I think our library has become much more useful, and usable. The kids spend a great deal of time in there now, and they still have plenty of floorspace, as they often play Legos, etc, in there while listening to stories.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

lessons in laundry

(Today's photos have nothing to do with the topic of the post. They are just a reflection of the bleak winter cold with little precipitation that we seem to attract down here in NC while the rest of the country has a bounty of snow.)

Yesterday while we were at breakfast and the kids had a "snow day", which just means that there was ice on the roads somewhere in the county, I informed them that following breakfast we'd be doing a few chores, including folding some laundry. No one batted so much as an eyelash as this is rather typical of any weekend, holiday, or summer break day when no one has school. After a pause for few bites of eggs, Paulie remarked, "I wonder how different my life would be if I viewed folding laundry as a privilege."

After his siblings looked at him like he'd grown a third head, I marveled at the wisdom that sometimes emerges at the most unlikely time. "That's a good thought." I commended him. "We should see if we could come up with 10 things that would be different or ways to be somehow grateful for the privilege of doing laundry." Queue siblings groaning and muttering, "thanks, Paulie!"

Once they got into the spirit of the task, they did come up with 10 things.

10 Reasons We're Privileged to Do Laundry

1. If we didn’t fold laundry, mom would have to do it all and wouldn’t be able to make us such good food. (I love that this was their number 1 reason!)
2. If we didn’t fold laundry, we wouldn’t know how to do it when we’re grown.
3. If we didn’t fold laundry, we would just have wads of clothes everywhere.
4. If we didn’t have any clothes to fold, we would be cold.
5. We might be embarrassed if we had wrinkly clothes.
6. We wouldn’t be able to find a specific piece of clothing when we needed it.
7. We could have something wrong with our arms, and we wouldn’t be able to fold clothes.
8. If we didn’t fold laundry, we might not learn to be responsible.
9. If we didn’t know how to fold laundry, our one-day roommates or spouses might not appreciate the mess.
10. We fold laundry together and get to spend time together. (my favorite reason!)

I was quite proud of a few of their reasons, although it was quite funny when, in the silence following the list, Philip blurted out, "but I still don't like to fold laundry." Maybe the task wasn't a 100% success, but if a little seed of finding gratitude and enjoyment during chores was planted, then 100% isn't necessary.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yarn Along

For Yarn Along this week, I'm working on a pair of cabled fingerless mitts. The Vancouver Fog mitts have been on my list for a while, and I finally ordered this superwash wool in Allspice to start making them. I'm almost finished with the first mitt. I like the long cuff because I have several very warm sweaters that are only 3/4 length. I hope these mitts will become a staple with those to keep my hands and forearms warm when I'm out in the elements.

I also started reading My Side of the Mountain to the kids. I knew with their love of camping that they would find this book completely fascinating. So far we have not been disappointed!

Monday, January 20, 2014

weekending at the farm

We just returned from a visit to our friends' farm just a few hours down the road. They've expanded, both in gardens and animals, since our last visit, and it was great fun to catch up with them and their new explorations in farming. During the long weekend spent with them, we petted goats and chickens, helped them move and fix a few minor things, baked apple pies, watched the chickens attack a nest of baby mice, buried the new barn cat, grilled a yummy dinner over the fire, debated the perfect marshmallow roasting technique, held the baby, chased the toddler, laughed with everyone, and generally had a blissful weekend with our dearest family friends.

Friday, January 17, 2014

first science fair project

Finn has had such a passion for volcanoes over the last few months, that we decided to turn his obsession with volcanic eruptions into a science fair project. This is the first time one of our kids has voluntarily done a science fair project. I typically don't overly encourage participation in the science fair, unless it's a required year for doing a project. I think the specific requirements and paperwork can dissuade some kids natural interest in the scientific process. Finn, however, was enthusiastic about participating from the minute they sent home the science fair papers.

He was, of course, the most excited about doing the actual experiment. He convinced my dad to help him build the volcano out of flour, salt, and water, with a smidgen of food coloring mixed in.

He then carefully poured red-colored water into his volcano, then stuffed it with baking soda. He intentionally chose a vase to build the volcano around so that the round bottom of the vase would mimic the plasma chamber and the thin neck of the vase would imitate the main vent of the volcano.

Sure enough, he got the eruption he was looking for. Maybe a little less red than he was hoping. It was more like pink foam coming out of the volcano.

He also diligently worked on his science fair board when it was time to turn in the project. He even search online by himself for a diagram of a volcano to show the plasma chamber and main vent that the vase represented in his volcano. He won a ribbon for participation which thrilled him. (I wanted his project to be about his experience rather than worrying that he had every single component required for a winning ribbon.)

His had 2 thoughts about the science fair once it was over: why did other people steal his idea (I neglected to mention to him that the volcano is a popular science fair experiment.) and what new idea he could think of for next year so he might win a blue ribbon. I'm thankful this was a positive experience for him. We'll continue on the science fair path as long as it's a challenge he enjoys.