a space for her


This is the little changing area that we set up when I was pregnant with Seraphina.  I’m considering moving it and wanted to have some pictures of it as is, for her baby book.  Steve made the changing table when I was pregnant with Mairi Rose.  We left it unfinished and as she got older it was used as a bookshelf and general storage in various places around the house.  We decided to spruce it up a bit for our new baby with a coat of paint leftover from our bathroom project and some fabric drawers.  I vividly remembered how crazy making it was to try to keep everything from dissolving into utter chaos when just stacked on the shelves.

We splurged on the diaper pail as well.  Some people treat themselves to things like luxury cars.  Us?  We go in for the fancy diaper pails.  This one was pricey- you know, for a diaper pail!  But I have to say that I’ve been cloth diapering babies for the better part of 15 years now and this is by far the best system I’ve ever used.

The mobile in process…there were supposed to be more bunnies and flowers and leaves and things twined in with the grapevine wreath and maybe some birds or bees or butterflies?  But the truth is I haven’t added anything to it in a very long time.  I think the only way it’s ever going to get finished is if I just start calling it finished.

And really that’s about it.  Simple and sweet, just the way I like things.  A basket of diapers and a little wooden bowl with odds and ends; a toy for entertainment, some healing balm, baby nail clippers, that kind of thing, rounds everything out.  Lately she’s been excitedly talking to the little picture of herself, so cute!



I’m trying to lean into the cold.  By day we’re making ice art and blowing bubbles that freeze in mid-air.  By evening my resolve weakens as I go to bed wrapped in a cardigan, after soothing my soul with British gardening shows.

We’ve had so many unexpected expenses in the last year, it’s kind of mind boggling.  As pleasant as it would be to just continue on and pretend that it doesn’t make any difference, I suspect it wouldn’t remain pleasant for long.  I feel like, as my father would say, we are hemorrhaging money.  A lot of what was said in this post is really resonating with me just now.  Truly it’s time to start trying to staunch the bleeding.  When we were informed, at the last minute, that we needed to contribute something to a raffle basket for 4H, rather then going out and buying something, I looked around to see what I could manage without spending any money.  The theme was Valentine’s Day.  Some leftover kitchen cotton and a couple of free washcloth patterns to the rescue.

I’m now working on a 12th birthday gift for a friend, again on short notice (the birthday card above is unrelated.  I just thought the picture was cute!).  These are not the kinds of projects that I want to be working on.  Rather then being resentful, I’m trying to look at it as a gift I can give my family.  Small though the amount may be, it’s that much less draining out of our bank account, leaving that much more to meet our needs.  What a blessing it is to have the skills to gather up some supplies at hand and transform them to meet your needs!  I’ll willingly share that gift with my family, though I will say that, considering, I’m all for people giving us a bit more notice in the future!

I’m reading Nick of Time at Elijah’s request.  It’s quite a short book, that currently feels like it’s dragging on.  Likely due to the siren call of that stack of big girl books, just in from the library and patiently waiting for me.  I’d just as soon move on, but I’m afraid his feelings might be hurt if I don’t follow through.  If only I didn’t keep falling asleep while reading it!


more knitting and 03/52

Anothersledding hat” for him.  Some pompom booties for her.  I tried lining them with scraps of sheepskin, but it kept shifting and making it hard for her to get around.  That’s why they look a little bulky and funny in these pictures.  I’ve since taken the insoles back out.  It’s a pity to lose the extra warmth, but it just wasn’t working.

I’m not the only knitter in the house these days and mine weren’t the only knitted gifts under our tree this year.  In an adorable act of unparalleled, supreme crafting sweetness, Galen knit mittens for his sisters.

And because I would like to start including some of the other children in my 52 series posts, here they are building a flint and steel fire in the middle of a snowstorm!

I don’t feel like I can commit to portraits of each of them every week, but I’m going to try to start sneaking ones in here and there.


now we are 6….and also 15!

Iain’s birthday sweater; Mairi’s birthday sweater; tutu pattern; Rosebud’s hat

She grew 2 1/2″ in the last year, he grew 3.  No one warned me how strange it would be to be looking at my child and speaking to my child and to have him all of the sudden answer me back in an entirely new voice.

She made the candles for her cake.  The cake itself was a surprise.  This lovely confection was the inspiration, like a Beatrix Potter tea party.  When we go for walks she likes to leap and skip ahead.  I call her my little prancing deer.  “Look at me Mama!  What am I?”  You are my darling, my sweetheart, my love, my little prancing deer.

The day itself was mostly about her.  We went skating, which made them both happy.  He had a father/son movie double date a few days before and a sledding party coming up this week, more elaborate celebrations that somehow feel more private.

Her hat was actually a Christmas gift.  I made it on a whim a while back.  We accidentally got a newer edition of Milly-Molly-Mandy from the library, which I had never seen before.  In it Milly-Molly-Mandy wore a pale pink beret, just like the one I had made.  Only hers had a pom-pom.  Mairi said it was the pom-pom that made it cute.  And that is how her simple hat got a last minute, pre-gifting make over.



My sister Rachel is notoriously fond of purple and plaid.  One day when she was visiting last year, Mairi Rose asked her, with an air of disapproval, “why do you always wear those squares shirts?” The following morning Rachel came down, sans plaid.  Mairi looked her up and down appraisingly and said, “your not wearing your squares today.”  When my sister explained that no, she had chosen to wear something else, a certain snot nosed little fashionista gave a curt nod of approval and said, “Good!”.  Ever since then, Rachel and her squares have been a long running family joke.  So much so that my other sister bought Seraphina a “squares” shirt of her own just so that she could take a picture of the two of them, wearing squares together.  I think she was too afraid to get one for Mairi.  

And I, being who I am, started knitting squares.  Oh, it was a tedious and excruciatingly slow project!  Sometimes I would just sit across the room from it, giving it the stink eye and muttering under my breath.  It seems I have a tendency to get a bit cranky when you take away my regularly scheduled baby knitting.  Maybe a bit overly dramatic as well.  And all so that I could hand her a gift and say with a giggle, “I made you squares!”  I’m only slightly mollified by the fact that it looks fabulous on her and she loves it.

Books!  I always forget to take pictures of the books.  I’m currently reading Super Nutrition for Babies: The Right Way to Feed Your Baby for Optimal Health.  Book or no book, I don’t know what to feed this girl or anyone else for that matter.  So many of the foods that I believe to be deeply nourishing are the same foods that cause various people in our family problems.  It’s incredibly frustrating.  One of our children when tested years ago was allergic to everything but sugar.  I kid you not.  And every single allergy was a delayed response, making it nearly impossible to figure out which foods caused what symptoms.

I just finished with Kitchen Table Wisdom, Stories that Heal.  Which was excellent and has absolutely nothing to do with food, in case you are wondering.  It’s a collection of interconnected essays written by a psychologist who works with terminal patients and those with life threatening illnesses, along with their families.  I started it before Christmas, but somewhere in the middle of everything being hectic and festive and full of life, regularly coming face to face with thoughts of my own mortality and that of those I love, was starting to feel like a smidgen too much.  I found myself thinking that I really should have stuck with the children’s fantasy novels!  One day out of desperation I started Terry Pratchett’s Dodger, which I found beside Steve’s side of the bed.  And as just about every word Sir Terry writes is tongue-in-cheek, that did the trick and got me through to a time when I could give Kitchen Table Wisdom the serious attention it deserved.


back to it

Balloon in a Bottle*

Mentos Geyser Experiment*

Screaming Balloon*

Folding Egg*

Mini Smoke Rings*

Mairi built a bird feeder and rolled candles.  Galen started sewing himself a pair of Woodland Indian style moccasins.  Iain got a soldering iron and built a siren, a Christmas tree and a mini traffic light.  He dismantled an old phone for parts.  Steve helped the big boys to take apart an entire computer, piece by piece, explaining all the parts.  We started getting back in the habit of a daily walk and then stopped walking entirely as a cold went through our house.

During the holidays I altered our daily rhythm.  We abandoned our regular school day, save for math practice and a few little daily reports.  Instead we worked on projects together, either holiday related or not.  I checked out a stack of books full of experiments and building projects and another big pile of books just for reading.    The holidays don’t officially end for us until the 6th, the day after our big double birthday, which means that tomorrow it’s time to start trying to find our way back to every day life.

I feel like I need some sort of reverse advent so that putting everything right again doesn’t seem quite so over-whelming.  So instead of hang stockings or get out Christmas dishes, we would wake up to a note telling us to take down the stockings or pack up the dishes.  Something tells me this wouldn’t catch on quite as well.

*Some of the many experiments we tried from the book Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes by Steve Spangler.


Christmas Cowls

Mairi kept sewing up little packets of herbs and spices; orange peel, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, star anise, what ever seemed Christmas-y and pleasing to her.  There was a lot of wood block card and wrapping paper making and pretty little wood slice ornaments.  I made three cowls.  Apparently this was the year of the cowl.  This crimson one was for my mother-in-law.  The blue one peaking out now belongs to my sister.  I don’t have any other pictures of it yet.  She’s still here visiting, so perhaps I’ll get a chance yet.