Thursday, December 22, 2011

Second and Third Dolls, Finished!

     The girls dolls and their outfits are finished!  (Well, except for the snaps, which I have to go get tomorrow.)  Anna's doll is on the left and Abriel's is on the right.  I am SOOOOOOOOO glad to have these done.  I think worrying if I was going to have them completed on time for Christmas was giving me insomnia.  Never, never, ever again will I try to make so many things in December.  This really has taught me a lesson about not waiting until the last minute to do things. 


I am glad I undertook to make these dolls, even though it wasn't the easiest thing I've ever done.  I know they will like them, and that they are special, even with their flaws. 
     I also love the fact that they smell like lanolin.  It kind of gives them a real baby smell. 
     My special doll as a child was a cloth doll.  Not a Waldorf doll, but hand made and very cute. Her name was Sally. When I held her, she felt real to me, and I would swear she could change expressions.  I think a part of me really thought she was real.  I would never lay her down in an uncomfortable position, and I made sure everyone else treated her with respect as well.  I think my younger brothers secretly resented the status that my sister's doll, John, and Sally had.
     The first time I saw a Waldorf doll, (years before I had kids) I knew that I had to have one because it reminded me of Sally. 

Anna's doll from the side.  Her hair looks red here, but it's actually three colors combined; brunet, blond, and brown.

I designed the sleeper pattern for Samuel's and Abriel's dolls.  It's makes them so soft and "baby" like.   

All of the dolls have bottoms and belly buttons.

The doll dress is made with the pattern that came with the doll pattern, and it's cute, but it doesn't look like something a baby would wear.  I will probably make her a sleeper as well, AFTER Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Making Waldorf Dolls

     I am making all the kids a Waldorf doll for Christmas, and I have finally completed one doll and outfit.  Isn't he cute? The other two dolls are finished now as well, but I haven't finished their clothes yet.  This one is Samuel's, and of course it is a little boy doll.  He got to be the Guinna pig, since I know Samuel won't care how he looks as much as the girls will care how their dolls look.
    Making the dolls turned out to be quite a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.  I think I partly brought that on my self, since I chose Joy's "Baby Companion" pattern, which she says is her most difficult pattern.  Considering I've never made a Waldorf doll before, and am not very experienced at sewing, I probably should have started with something simpler.  I guess I like a challenge.  Either that, or I am crazy.
     The hardest part was stuffing it.  It's not like most stuffed toys, where you just keep adding filling until it feels right.  With a Waldorf doll, you have to shape it before you stuff it, so it's hard to determine how much wool will fill it out, but not be too much. All three doll have a different "feel" to them, since I couldn't stuff them all the same, but I guess that is what it means to be handmade.  I know one thing for sure now; a pre-made Waldorf doll is worth every penny. 
     I put a little wool heart into each of the dolls, and even though you can't see it, I know it's there, and I think it makes it more special. 

     Crocheting the wig was the one thing I though for sure would be a breeze, and still turned out to be a lot harder, or at least more tedious than I anticipated.  I can probably crochet a little bennie cap in my sleep, but keeping all the mohair strands separate was slow and tedious.  This is definitely a labor intensive way to make a wig, but the end result is very cool.  As you can see, when I was working on it, it looked like a little bowl of hair, and then sewed on, it really looks like real hair, and can be combed and styled too. 

     Sewing the arms and legs on was absolutely maddening, and you can see they're not perfect, but he feels soft and snugly, and he is very cute.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wooden Play Stove

       I have finally finished one (just one!) of all the toys I am making the kids this year.  This is a wooden play stove for the twins. 
     My husband helped me a lot on the construction of it, but the design is all mine.  I like working with wood, as somehow it is less stressful than sewing. 

     Dave saves everything, which drives me crazy most of the time, but with this project his pack rat tendencies really paid off.  The counter of the stove, (which makes the whole stove look awesome!) was  from the left over piece of counter we had after cutting out the hole for our sink when we remodeled the kitchen.   I have to admit, I was for throwing it away, but Dave said he wanted to keep it.  Now I'm glad he did. 

     The shelf brackets are little Red Bellied Woodpeckers.  I thought it added a cute and unique touch.  I still need to add cup hooks underneath the shelf, so that they can hang the little oven mitts I made.  So, maybe I'm not completely finished.

     I love the oven door.  It has a frosted plexiglass window, and magnetic closures to help keep the door shut.  We still need to attach chains to keep the kids from breaking the door by sitting on it.  Hopefully if it doesn't open all the way, it won't be such a tempting little seat for our boy who loves seats.
    All in all I am very pleased with the way it turned out, and I think the kids will love it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Our Island Story Lapbook, part 3

     Here is the Henry II and Richard I page of our lapbook.  It has a map of the holy land, a crusades mini book, picture of a crusaders cross, and Planta genista, from which the Plantagenets derived their name.  There is also a picture showing all of Henry II's eight children.   Richard I never married or had children.
     Here is the mini book opened out.

First Snow

     It has been unusually warm for the past few weeks, so when the first little snow flakes we've see this year were spotted, the kids were ecstatic.  They were all shouting, "It's snowing, it's snowing!" and rushing to get on their snow gear.  There still wasn't a speck of snow that had actually stuck, but we still tugged on snow pants and mittens.  By the time they were all ready to go out side, it had stopped snowing.  They all sat down on the side walk and looked mournful.  Every once in awhile Samuel or Abriel would come up to the door and say, "It's not snowing."  Slightly accusationally, like it was my fault it was no longer snowing.  I made them stay outside a little longer, since I had gone through the effort to get them dressed, and said a prayer asking for God to send a little snow for three disappointed kids.  A few minutes later it started snowing again; at first just a few flakes, then it really started coming down. 
     It was too warm for it to stick much, but it was enough for the kids to play in and have fun.  Samuel spent most of the time trying to catch a snowflake on his tongue.
      Abriel just kept trying to eat it...

      Anna made snow angels on the little bit that coated our deck.  It doesn't take a lot of snow to amuse children.
     Of course after all that snow, (Well, after all that playing in the snow.) everyone need some hot chocolate to warm up. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

Home Made Christmas Presents

     Lately I've been feeling a little bit like a factory, trying to turn out toys as fast as I can. (Which isn't that fast)  This is my latest completed project.  This is for my niece, although Anna has requested one just like it.  I made Samuel a crown a few months back, after realizing that the only dress up clothes we had were pretty girly, and he needed a few things.  All the kids wear the crown though, and it has proven very durable and comfortable.  I will probably be making some more crowns soon.

Double Trouble

     Since I am making most of the kids Christmas presents this year, I have been grabbing my chances to work on them when ever I can.  Today, after I put the twins down for their nap, I ran out to my little shop to quickly glue and clamp a couple of parts on the wooden stove I am making.  I gave Anna a reading assignment to do until I got back and we could finish her school.  After a few minutes she is finished and bored, so she comes out to visit with me.  Since I am finished gluing, we go on up to the house.  And guess who's smiling at us through the door?  That's right, they're up already.  I wave hi, and try to open the door.  It's locked.  All the doors are locked; all the windows are locked, there is no way into the house.  The only way into the house is to persuade a couple of grinning two year olds that they need to turn the dead bolt to let Mommy in.  Anna and I are standing out in the cold rain trying to coach them into UNLOCKING the door.  Abriel tries, but doesn't seem to understand that you need to turn the knob, not just rattle it, in order to unlock the door.  Samuel seemed to think the problem was in the door knob it's self, as oppose to the dead bolt knob.  He keeps checking the door knob, and when it turns, he grins at me like, "problem solved!"  Abriel rattles the dead bolt again, and smiles.  They seem to think this is hilarious.  It's cold, it's wet, I am beginning to think I will never get inside the house, when Samuel finally figures out the lock and lets us in.  I think he knew how to do it all along.
     Well, at least it's never dull around here.

Sooooo funny!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Day We Got Anna

     Eight years ago today I was sitting down at my table drinking coffee and planing out my day, when I got a call that would change my life forever.  It was our case worker, wanting to know if we were able to foster a ten day old little girl named Anna.  I didn't know then how long she would be with us, but when I got off the phone, I knew I was going to pick up my daughter that day.
     She was the smallest baby I had ever held.  Our toddler sized car seat swallowed her.  The buckle was as big as she was.  We had no diapers, no formula, no bottles, no clothes; the only baby item I owned was a crib, but none of that stuff really mattered.  We had our baby; things are easy to acquire.  I spent hours just holding and looking at her.  Memorizing every line of her face.
     The thought that we might not get to keep her, that she would be ours just temporarily, was always at the back of my mind like a bad dream you just can't shake.  We loved and delighted in her; she was our daughter, but not according to the State.  So we waited and prayed and hoped, and prayed some more.  There was one prayer running constantly through my mind, "Lord, let us keep her.  Let me keep my baby girl." 
     Over two years after she was first placed in our care, she became ours,  officially and forever.  My daughter, my darling, my little baby girl.  My Anna.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Sweater Backpack

     I just finished making another felted sweater backpack, this time for one of my nieces.  I lined this one, and put elastic in the front.  I am slowly learning new sewing techniques, and getting a little bit better with each project, though I still have yet to follow a pattern.  I have always made my own.  I like birds, (if you can't tell) and bluebirds are one of my favorites, so it was fun doing the applique on this.

If It's Quiet, Watch Out!

     Yesterday morning was  little more hectic than our usual; spent trying to get Anna out the door on time for a field trip, and put the house back together after a week end of birthday parties and company.  After Anna had left with her Daddy, I thought I would grab a moment to check my email while the twins were watching TV.  At least I thought  they were watching TV. That is until Samuel came up to me and showed me his orange hands.  Wait, orange hands? How on earth did his hands get orange!  I run into the living room, and this is what I see.
     Yes, that is orange soda and apple cider and cream cheese bagels and just about everything else you can think of all over my rug.  Apparently Samuel climbed up to the refrigerator and got down the soda that was left over from Anna's party, then I guess they decided to have a picnic, as the little blanket they use for their pretend picnics was out.  The amazing thing is, that this all took place in just a few minutes, with me not twenty feet away.  I thought they were quietly watching TV.  HA! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Harmonious Housework

     One issue I have felt compelled to work on lately, is to display a more cheerful attitude while I am working around the house.  I am also trying to be more patient with the little ones (Samuel in particular) "helping" me with the house work and cooking.  These are both areas that I struggle with a lot.  The problem is that I really don't like house work.  In my mind, there are countless other things I would rather be doing than the never ending task of keeping the house from spiraling into chaos.  Most days I feel like Sisyphus, pushing that ball up only to have it fall right back down again.  Needless to say, when I am cleaning, particularly if I am in a hurry and there is a little some one rapidly making messes behind me; I can become a little less than pleasant really fast.  I then banish the kids as far away as possible, (which is usually only as far as the play room) and then go through the house cleaning as fast as I can, while once in a while yelling out things like, "What on earth are all these banana peels doing on the living room floor?"   " Do you realize what a laundry hamper is for?"  "Nobody is using anymore paper for the rest of the day.  There must be twenty sheets here!"  Meanwhile, the children are watching and copying.  Your children can be the most honest mirror there is. 
      So now onto what I am striving towards.  I have been working on doing the house work calmly and cheerfully, while also getting the children to help along side me.  Anna is at an age where she can actually be of some help.  The challenge with her is to get her to actually do it.  This is where enthusiasm comes into play. Because we like cleaning! Cleaning is fun! Right, Anna? Anna...? The twins love to help, but unfortunately are very bad at it. 
     Samuel is a very, very busy guy, and the best way to keep him content is to keep him working.  If I don't set him at a task, he will find his own.  In the picture above, I walked in on him washing the dishes.  He managed to do this without even a stool.  These past few days, he has been my little helper, working right along side me with everything. 
     All this has helped with the flow and rhythm of our home, and has made me more.... Tired.  Sometimes being happy is so much work.  Really though, I feel better too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Anna!

     It's hard to believe that my little girl turned eight yesterday.  I take the kids measurements every six months, and so on their Birthday they get to see how much they've grown.  In Anna's case, she had grown two and a half inches since last year! 

     Her Birthday coincided with our homeschool co-op field trip, where we got to see and mingle with goats.  It was beautiful at the farm.  A wonderful, clear late fall day.

     Samuel loved the goats.  He just walked around hugging this one for awhile.  Thankfully the goats where very tolerant. 
     On the way to the barn, we passed through a wooded area, and Samuel kept asking if there were monkeys in the woods.  We kept telling him, "No, no, there aren't any monkeys here."  and he finally seemed to understand.  On the way back, however, Samuel and Abriel went exploring off the path a little ways, and  Dave jokingly calls out, "I see two little monkeys!"  (Meaning them) Well, you just don't joke like that with a literal minded child.  We like to never got them to stop looking for those two little monkeys!

     It was a great field trip, and we had a lot of fun.  The first thing Abriel said this morning was, "I want a goat."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On Waldorf and Warmth

     About a year ago I started reading a lot of Waldorf mom blogs. (homeschooling and otherwise) There is a wonderful homemade crunchy feel about them, and the effort that these women put into their homes is inspiring.  I have since found my self drawn into a lot of Waldorf type things, mostly in the form of early childhood development and general family environment; not so much educational.  There is a lot of things in Anthroposophy that I do not agree with at all, but there is a lot that makes sense, and I have started to implement into my parenting. 
     One of the things, is the large emphasis placed on the need for physical warmth.  At first I thought it was a little bit silly, but after reading on the reason behind it, there seems to be a lot of sense in it.  The reason, as I see it is; when you are cold, most of your energy is spent in just trying to keep warm. You are not able to fully live.  Since children are not mature enough to make sure they are dressed appropriately, or frequently do not seem to be aware that they are too cold,  we as parents need to make sure that they are dressed warmly.  (I think this would also apply to keeping children from getting overheated in the hot summer months, but Steiner, being German didn't seem to address this.)
     I grew up in an old drafty farm house, with a wood stove and a kerosene heater as it's only source of heat.  My main memory of winter, every winter, was being cold.  Bone aching, shivering cold- all the time.  I know how crippling being cold can be.  I also remember (when I was about four) rushing to get ready to play with my siblings in the snow.  I couldn't find my mittens, so I went without them.  After about an hour of sledding, my hands had passed the raw stage and were completely numb, but I still didn't even think about going inside.  After a while my father came out to check on us, and was horrified when he saw my hands.  He asked why on earth I went outside without any mittens on.  The reason is that a four year old doesn't have mature judgement, and is willing to put up with the pain of frozen fingers, in order to not miss out on some fun. 
     I find my self being much more aware of how the kids are dressed this year, as the weather is getting colder, and making sure they stop and put on a coat or shoes before running outside.  I am also more aware of other children.  (Yes, I probably need to mind my own business) I often see little children out in a T-shirt on days that I'm wearing a coat and hat, and where as I've always hated to see little bald headed babies out on cold days with no hat on, now I am almost tempted to say something. 

Monday, October 31, 2011


     Another year of Halloween fun.  Samuel and Abriel were a knight and a princess.  I had considered making them Apollo and Artemis, but thought they would have fun playing with these costumes all year round.

Anna was a Luna moth.  We were joined this year by my sister and her family.  Her son, Asher, is only three month older than the twins, and he and Samuel wore matching crusader costumes.  Her little one year old was a princess as well.  They all looked adorable, but we couldn't get them together long enough for a picture. 

The idea for Anna's wings came from those wonderful fairy wings that Sarah's Silks makes.  Anna's wings are made out of a re-purposed flannel sheet.  I thought since she was a moth, that a slightly fuzzy material would be appropriate.  Samuel's hood is a copy too.  I saw this neat chain mail hood at the The Wooden Wagon, and I thought, "I could make that!"  It's where the whole idea for their costumes came from. 
     People always ask me where my ideas come from.  Well, the truth is, I am very good at borrowing other people's ideas.  I love the internet!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Art Time

      Tuesday is art day here; or at least it's suppose to be.  Sometimes it ends up being just one thing too much, but I give a good effort.  It is also something that all the kids do together.  Yes, it would be so much easier to have Anna paint a picture while the twins nap, but they really love art time.  I am seeing some return on the fact that they have been working with messy art materials since they were able hold a crayon, as they aren't too terribly messy.

     If they do get their hand in it, they can at least clean themselves off now.  I have also learned that washable tempera is the best paint for toddlers.  Finger paints only frustrate if the child is really interested in painting a picture.  I also give them a limited pallet. Usually only two or three colors.

     Anna uses opaque water colors, but I think the next time I buy her paint I will get transparent, since I think she is ready for them.  She likes it if I give her a specific thing to paint when we are doing art.  This time it was a tree in fall foliage.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our Island Story Lapbook- Part Two

      Here is the second page of the Our Island Story lapbook.  It has information on Henry I and Stephen, as well as stuff pertaining to that time period. 
     We had to do a little digging to find the names of Stephen's wife and children, as they were not mentioned in the book, but it is doing stuff like that, that makes it more interesting.  One question I have in the King's "fact sheet" is "Good or bad king?"  I have asked Anna to put down what she thinks, using her own judgement.  When it came to answering that question about Stephen, she said she thought he wasn't a bad man, but he ruled very badly, so that made him a bad king.  I thought that was very well put.
     Here are the mini books unfolded.  The code of chivalry mini book I got from Homeschoolshare, a great lapbooking resource. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Autumn Nature Table

     Our Autumn nature table got started a little late in the season, but it has only recently really started to look like fall with the leaves changing colors.  The little guys love the acorns, leaves, and the little tiny pumpkin that came from our garden. (We didn't exactly have a bumper crop) I think the sugar maple leaves are beautiful.  These came from the park, as we don't have any maples in our yard.  Every leaf is a beautiful shade of yellow or orange.  The whole tree just glows.
     I am learning to like Fall more as time goes by.  It used to be a sad season for me, as I dreaded winter so much, but if you take fall by it's self, I don't think there is a prettier time of year.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Peas in a Pod

     Lately the twins have been working together even more than their usual.  I think it has something to do with the fact that they can actually talk to each other now.  Sometimes it's cute, and other times it's scary, as two two year olds can do so much more mischief than one.  Like the time they filled a large cooler up with rocks, and hauled it up to the deck that has no railing,  (and therefore they are not allowed on) and then proceeded to throw the rocks towards are neighbors house. It puts a whole new spin on the terrible twos. 
     From the moment Samuel and Abriel were conceived they have done everything together.  It's no wonder they think alike.  I took these picture durring our nature time at the park today.  Can you tell they're twins?

        A down side to their closeness is that it sometimes leaves Anna out.  She was complaining today that they didn't want to play the same thing she wanted to, and said, "They only want to play their own little games, and I can't even understand what they're talking about."  That does seem to be the case most of the time.