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.