Thursday, December 30, 2010

     Some times in the rush of every day life, it becomes easy to only focus on what ever new emergency or necessity is arising, that I can forget the simple joys of being a Mother.  This evening as I was cooking supper, plucking Samuel off from the top of the bookshelf, (that he had scaled for the third time that evening) and being so frazzled I took a swig from the jug of the "miracle grow" water I have for plants, thinking it was my drinking water. (Yuck!) I happen to look over at Abriel and see her pounding away on her wooden xylophone, and belting out a song at the top of her baby lungs.  I had to stop and just look at her, so totally unself conscious, and just living in the moment with her own little song. I love being a mother to funny little people, even when those same little people drive me batty.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Years Resolutions: Simplifying Life

     Well, Christmas has come and gone, and things are slowly returning to normal.  We restarted school on Monday, and today the snow started to melt.  What a white Christmas we had this year!  (Over a foot!)  It forced us into a slower pace and gave me lots of time to reflect upon my New Years resolution.  January 2008 my New Years resolution was "get pregnant"; and due to getting more than I bargained for, last year it was "survive". This year it's "simplify".  I actually started towards this when the twins were about six months old, when suddenly all this extra stuff we had laying around started really getting to me.  Something about feeling so harried and pulled in a million different directions made any clutter unbearable.  So I started packing up decorations, and seriously rethinking my relationship to "stuff".   I've never been a pack-rat, but I'm not exactly a minimalist either. I like stuff; pretty things, kitchen gadgets, craft materials, etc, but suddenly here I am going through the house thinking, what can I get rid of, what can I put in storage, what can I just get out of here?! 
     So this year, in regards to my house, the focus is going to be getting things pared down to a manageable level, starting with the kids rooms.  My husband thinks I am a wee bit nutty for even wanting to do this, but he goes along with my nutty schemes pretty well. 
     Currently, there are two kid bedrooms- Anna has one and the twins share another.  In a couple of weeks this will not be the case.  They will all share one for sleeping, and the other for playing.  There are several reasons for doing this. 
One: Anna does not want to sleep by herself.  She has never shared a room with anyone, or slept in my husband and my room, and until the twins were born, this has never been a problem.  Now she realizes she is the only person who sleeps alone, and she doesn't like it.
Two: I like the idea of having a "nursery".  A communal room for all the children of the house, until adolescents.  This seems more natural for me than having all the children parceled out onto their separate rooms.
Three: Our current system isn't working.  Anna keeps her bedroom door closed all the time in order to keep the twins out, and the result is that her room is basically unused because she doesn't want the twins in her room but doesn't want to play alone.  The reason she doesn't want the twins in her room, is because she has too many toys everywhere, and they just love to go through and do a ten second blitz. Which brings me to the biggest reason.
Four:  Moving the rooms around will give me the opportunity to pare down all of the kids toys to a manageable number.  I sound so mean, don't I?  It's right after Christmas and I'm talking about getting rid of their toys.  However, I really think that this will help them to enjoy playing with each other more.  Anna doesn't play with two thirds of her toys anyways, and she hates cleaning up, so I am really hoping that this will leave just the toys that are played with, without having to continually pick up the toys the twins just broadcast about for good measure.
     And this is just the first step!  Many more simplifying measures are going to be happening this year.  Now, if I can only think of a way to convince Dave that we really don't need the TV.  Hmmm... Any ideas?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Starting to Feel a Lot like Christmas!

     Anna and I have spent the past few days baking all sorts of Christmas treats.  We usually do this at night, after the babies have gone to bed, and it is our special time together.  We've made chocolate cookies, chocolate covered shortbread, gingerbread men, and last night we made sugar cookies.  We rolled them out and baked them today, to be ready for our church's Candlelight Evening service.

     I mixed up the cookies on the dinning room table to make it more accessible for Anna.  One good thing about being the only big kid in the house, is that you get to lick two beaters. 

I let Anna take some pictures with my camera, until I started feeling self conscience.  I guess this is what the kids feel like with me always snapping photos of them.  

    And here's our pretty little peace cookies.  I don't have anything like bells or stars, but I think the doves are pretty.  
     Cooking with children can be challenging at times, but it is a great way to bond and spend time with each other.  I am going to start baking bread a couple of times a week, and having all the kids help with that.  My mother made all our bread; we never bought pre-made bread from the store, and often to entertain us, she would give us each a glob of dough to do with as we liked.  It was so much fun to make our own little braids, hearts, or whatever.   

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Handmade Presents

    This Christmas I decided that I would try to make as many gifts as possible.  With only a few days left til Christmas, I am starting to wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew, but luckily I have finished a few things.   I have three two year old nieces and nephew, so I made them all the same thing in triplicate.  Theirs is finally finished.
      Recently I have fallen in love with felt food.  Some of the stuff people make and sell through their Etsy shops are amazing.  This inspired me to make my own felt food, as I love working with felt, and it seemed like a great Christmas present for toddlers.  So, this is my first felt food- pita pockets!

It's a little smaller than life size, and includes the pita bread, a salami slice, a lettuce leaf, two cucumber slices, and a tomato slice.  It looks real enough that Abriel tried to eat it, but I don't know if that is saying a lot. She'll eat anything that vaguely resembles food.  The salami and bread are actually made out of old sweaters, which, now that I come to think about it doesn't sound that appetizing, but they were very clean old sweaters. 
     Now I can't stop thinking about felt food ideas.  I am going to have so much fun making play food for the twins.  I just hate that I didn't know about this a few years ago, so that I could have made Anna some cool felt food.  I will never go back to plastic!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nature Study/ Animal Tracks

  Today I woke to a winter wonderland strewn with trash.  A hole had been ripped into the side of a bag I had set out last night, to be taken out to the dumpster in the morning.  The clue to the perpetrator was a single elvish hand print in the snow.  It had to have been a rather crafty raccoon, to have left so few prints behind. 

I also saw signs of dogs (Such as this one) and cats, which led me to wonder what other animals had left their prints behind last night.   Anna and I bundled up and headed out into the cold with a camera and an animal track guide.

I love finding animal tracks.  They are like clues to the secret lives of animals-- who was here, where did they travel to?  Somewhere they stopped; maybe dug a spot in the snow, then moved on.  These are cat tracks, of which there were definitely the most.

Birds, birds, and more birds over here.  Must of been where Anna spilled the bird seed.  Occasionally you could see a perfect little tail print where the tail feathers pressed down right before flight.

There were also many bunny prints lippity lopping over the yard, and eventually disappearing under our shed.

Squirrel prints were seen under the shrubbery, looking so much like the footprints of teeny tiny men wearing boots.

The snow has laid bare all their little comings and goings.  Secret passageways now discovered.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Traditions

     We have a few Christmas traditions that we do every year, that makes Christmas season for us.  Of course the first thing we do is hang the advent calender and our stockings.  I don't have a fire place, so they get hung above our built in bookcase.  I made all the stockings, except for mine, which was made for me by my mother.  I loved having a stocking made just for me, and so I wanted to do the same for Anna.  After I made hers, Dave wanted one too, which kind of surprised me, since what kind of stocking do you make for a man?  But I made him one anyways, and he liked it.  Then a few years later it was time to make the twins stockings for their first Christmas.  I had gotten quite a bit better at it from making stockings for my nieces, and also thought of lining theirs in flannel, which makes it so deliciously soft inside, which meant of course I had to re-do Anna's.
     Another tradition is to buy a tree on the first Saturday in December.  As a child we always bought a balled tree, and then planted it after Christmas.  I wish I had somewhere to plant a few fir trees so that we could do the same, but since I don't, cut trees will have to do. 
     The twins actually had an inkling of what was happening this year, so it was extra fun. 

     Of course Abriel just had to wear her red sparkle shoes, since you have to look cute even when tree hunting. 
     After getting the tree, is the fun of trying to figure out where to put it in our tiny living room.  This year the couch got moved over the outside door in order to accommodate it.  Samuel is probably the most delighted with the tree of all the kids.  He asks for the lights to be turned on every morning, and just can't seem to be able to keep his hands off it.  Sometimes he likes to just sit and stare at it. 
     Eggnog, eggnog, and more eggnog is another Christmas season must, and I also like to bake, although I haven't done much of that this year.  I was going to tonight, until I realized that we are out of butter.  I can't think of any recipes that don't call for butter. 
     Right now it is bitterly cold out, and snowing.  It sure is looking a lot like Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dealing With Surgery

    I haven't posted any this week due to the fact that Anna had eye surgery this Tuesday.  That was a long day, starting at 4:00; necessary in order to get everyone at the hospital at 6:00 am.  Dave and I had debated on just one of us going to the hospital with her, and the other one staying home with the twins, but in the end we decided that we all needed to be there with her. 
     The surgery went quick, and everything went well, praise God!  However it did take her a while to fully wake up from the anesthesia.  She was pretty much out of it that whole day.  Now, fortunately she is feeling much better, and is having trouble taking it easy.  Anna is not a sit down quietly kind of girl.  Unfortunately I've had to turn to TV a lot to keep her entertained, and will probably have to deal with TV withdraw after she is well. 
     One thing I am very glad I thought to do, is to make her a felt paper doll set.  She has played with it quite a bit, and it's something she has been able to do without having to see very well.
I sewed cotton fabric and ties to the back, so the whole thing can be rolled up.  I thought this also might be good for keeping her occupied durring church, as she has trouble sitting still thought the service.
     Needless to say, school is off until... I'm not sure.  I had been planing to take a week off, but I will have to see how her vision is, as she is seeing blurry, and sees double at a distance.  Long school breaks are not usually the best thing for us, but some times you just have to go with the flow.  Right now that's sitting down, watching TV, and trying to keep two little monkeys from leaping on her.

Friday, December 3, 2010


     Anna had a very exciting day, as we have had our first bear encounter.  They are quite common around here, but we have yet to see one.  Until today.  Anna had gone out to the car to get a muffin from earlier that day that she hadn't finished.  She runs back into the house and slams the door while breathlessly saying "there's a bear in the yard!"  I run to a window and say, "Where, where?"  I just barely catch glimpse of it as it jumps off our pool deck, and dissapears in the scrubby area beyond our property.  As if that wasn't scary enough, when I asked Anna where the bear was when she was outside, she tells me that when she had gotten the muffin out of the car, the bear was right there in the drive way!  She slammed the car door as hard as she could, and the bear took off running towards the pool, and she ran inside. 
     When she told me that, my whole body went shaky.  What if the bear had tried to get the muffin?  What if the noise from the door had caused it to charge, instead of run away?  What if... a million different scenarios went through my head.  Thank you God, for having that turn out OK. Whew! What a day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Handmade Advent Calender

     About two and a half years ago I started making an Advent calender- seven months later, on Christmas Eve, I finally sewed the last tiny felt ornament.  It took a little longer than anticipated.  Granted, durring those seven months I got pregnant, with twins, spent three month of morning sickness hell, remodeled our office to be a nursery, and somewhere in that time became so huge I could hardly sit.  Still, the calender was a lot of work, but work well spent.  Every year that I have taken it out of storage I am reminded of all the time and creativity spent on it, and I am so glad the I took the time to make a calender rather than buying one. 
     Today Anna got the first ornament out of it's little pocket and hung it on the tree.  The ornaments hang on buttons that I have collected from here and there over the years.  It was nice to finally have a use for all those odd buttons. 

Here is all twenty-four of the little ornaments.  They are all felt with embroidery and bead details.  It was fun thinking up all the different designs.  My favorite is probably the gnome, or maybe the mouse or... I don't know; I like them all.