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Our darling Sweet-a-phina…

has very expressive eyebrows.

looks around when you call her name.

unfortunately she responds the same way to her siblings calling out, “hey, chub!” (short for Chubbawonka).

tries to catch the water as it’s coming out of the faucet.

blows kisses, but somehow manages to do so while sticking her tongue out at the same time.

I’ll be away for a little while, but I should be back to posting in a week or so.

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days of goldenrod

You know you knit too much when…

You find yourself stalking a man in the grocery store, not because he’s really good looking, but because he is wearing an Aran sweater with a cable you are trying to work out.” 

~At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women who Knit Too Much by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I’m reading that book right now.  I think I will forever associate Stephanie’s writing with Seraphina’s early baby days when I read book after book of hers all in rapid succession.  I love her so much, if for no other reason then she assures me that it’s perfectly normal to have a freezer full of wool.

The quote above reminds me of a funny story.  Several years ago we were walking out of a co-op as a man was crossing the parking lot to walk in.  I think he was somewhat attractive and of the general right age range.  Maybe.  I didn’t really note that.  What I did notice was his fabulous, luscious, cream colored sweater full of some of the most meticulous and complicated cabling I’ve ever seen.  I stood there, frozen in my tracks, staring after him, with snowflakes gathering on my eyelashes, trying to mentally deconstruct the main cable.  I’m not sure how long I stood there, spellbound, before it suddenly dawned on me that to the casual observer it looked just as if I was very intently checking out this gentleman’s backside. heh-hem  Luckily my husband knows me well enough to know that I only have eyes for him….and yarn.

The goldenrod!  It sneaks up on me.  Every year I’m surprised to find myself in this season.  Even this year when I prepared in advance.  I always want to be knitting something golden as they come into bloom, but never have the right yarn on hand.  When I was ordering yarn a few months back, I made sure to include some with this season in mind.  From the Knit Picks site- “Wheat is a dark mustard yellow color that is slightly darker than Turmeric. With stronger green undertones, Wheat is has subtle cooler undertones and is reminiscent of a dark goldenrod.“  I’m on a somewhat embarrassing mustard yellow kick.  Actually I wasn’t embarrassed by it, until my sister informed me that I really ought to be.  So since it’s my duty and all…  It’s not really the color of freshly bloomed goldenrod.  Nor it is truly what I would consider “mustard”.  For what I have in mind I think I prefer it more subtle anyway.  And it is almost exactly the color of the faded blooms and these days I’m already finding more faded then fresh.  Autumn is almost upon us.

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exploring

On Monday Steve was home and I decided to make our very first day back to (home) school a field trip.  We had recently heard about a local historical area where remains of old mills were to be seen and we were both eager to check it out.  We’ve been living here for two and a half years now and we honestly haven’t learned as much about the area as we would like.  One of our personal goals this year is to remedy that.

An afternoon spent in and around the ruins and adjoining creek turned into not just a history lesson (as we had planned) but also a natural history and geology lesson as well.  Elijah figures he could spend a year or so exploring that particular site before he got bored.  Unfortunately we only had the afternoon.  This time anyway.

Our first week back is going well, but I am busy all. the. time.  This afternoon I told Steve that I really felt like I was doing well by them just now (she said a whooping half a week in).  Sometimes I still feel like we are really just starting out on this whole homeschooling journey.  Then I remind myself that this is our 9th year and that not one, but two of my children are much closer to the end then the beginning.  And there are many things that I’ve learned in that time, but the very fact that I’m still learning so much, each and every year, if not each and every day, is exactly what makes me look over my shoulder when someone mentions the “veteran homeschooler in the room” before realizing…oh, right, yes, you mean me! got it. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that the first week is important.  I’ve found it can set the tone for a whole season of learning.  If everything goes wrong, yes, there is always tomorrow, and any mother or any sort will tell you that’s a motto to tie your heart strings to.  But often times tomorrow will go a lot easier if you can just manage to get things right in this moment now, it’s a momentum sort of thing.  As such I try to make our first week back a very enjoyable one while easing into new rhythms.  I recently joked to a friend that I kind of sneak up on them with the work.  I’ve recently started “naming the days” with Màiri, as I used to with Galen, and both of the last two days were some variation on “the day we had fun”, so I think it’s been something of a success.

Yesterday, after a morning of school work and chores, seeking balance, I took the children to the pond.  Ombré blue sky with huge dollops of fluffy cartoon roving clouds, looking oh-so-close enough to touch.  Splashing and laughter and sand.  Baby sleeping by my side as I knit woolen tights and the breeze ruffles the leaves of the tree above our heads.  I was thinking that there are times in life when you can look back and remember them as such a happy golden time.  How much better still it is to be able to recognize them as they are happening.  Back home after a hot shower, pajama clad, ringlets still damp, ukelele in hand, Galen sighed a deep sigh of contentment and said to me, “Mommy, hasn’t this just been the most wonderful day?”

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This week Seraphina…

cut her first tooth!  So soon!  Our youngest yet.  She had rather a hard time of it, poor little love.

turned 5 months old.

amused herself by blowing raspberries at her siblings.

reminded me so much of my sister as a baby that I sometimes felt like I’ve been transported back in time 28 years.

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swim babies

My entire childhood there was a little oval magnet on the refrigerator; a navy blue plastic frame encircling a photo of me in a baby tub wearing that little yellow swimsuit with the ruffle.  The tag says it goes up to 22 lbs., but I don’t know, it seemed rather a tight squeeze! (Steve may have used the term “sausage”)

We made it to the pond for a quick swim before dinner.  The kids all raced in and, never one to be left out, our Sweet Wild Violet started trying to propel herself in the direction of that water.  She was quite clear about where she wanted to be, and uhm, oughtn’t we be getting her there quicker?  Hello parent people, I have made my intentions known!  I took her to the water’s edge, not sure how she would respond.  Splashing in the chilly water, mud squishing between her toes, fistfuls of sand, she smiled and smiled and gleefully splashed some more.  Pure joy.

I don’t usually imbibe caffeine, but I had a bit today.  I don’t think it did well by my littlest love.  Well past both her bedtime and mine we were still here, awake but sleepy, so sleepy.  Even so she was all smiles and giggles, nuzzling my face, playfully sucking my cheek, all with closed eyes, a sweet cooing sigh of delight and a big contented smile.  Oh, I do love this girl so!

Totally unrelated image that I just received from the boys’ riding instructor.  They were at the pond too, with us, but not with us.  They ran into some kids that they knew and were absorbed into the mass of bobbing heads, splashing and diving on the periphery.  

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simple cookery: roasted red pepper soup

We sometimes stop in at this discount grocery store.  Mostly it’s full of processed food that we wouldn’t eat anyway.  And sometimes you come across completely disgusting food, well beyond what can actually be rightfully deemed “food”.  But usually there is a thing or two worth having at a decently low price.  And every once in a while an amazing find that makes it totally worth while to stop by whenever we’re in town.  Like our most recent trip where we came home with a 40 lb. box of organic bananas for $6 and an entire case of organic red peppers for $7 all in near perfect condition.  Amazing, right?  It takes a little work and hustle to get it all preserved before it has a chance to go bad, but it’s totally worth the effort.

We sliced and dried some of the bananas in the oven and froze the rest in chunks to be used in smoothies and things in the future.  Most of the peppers were frozen raw-some in chunks (to be used primarily for kabobs) and some sliced (for stir-fries and the like).  They keep quite well that way.

But first thing first, I made some soup!  A big pot of soup- some to eat and some to freeze for later.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

2 onions

1 extra large zucchini (or 2 medium, or 3 small)

3 cloves garlic

balsamic vinegar

broth

salt

oil

15 red peppers

1 tsp red pepper flakes

bunch of fresh basil

bunch of fresh parsley

Slice the onions.  Saute them in oil until translucent. Add in the garlic, cook for a minute or so stirring frequently.  Add a good glug of balsamic vinegar- use care, it’s going to sizzle quite a bit!  Allow the sauce of vinegar and onion juices to thicken.  Add the zucchini* and red pepper flakes.  Add enough broth to just cover everything.  Simmer until the zucchini is soft.  While this cooks, roast your peppers.  Slice them in half.  Remove the stem. Scoop out the seeds.  Broil them on a cookie sheet until the skin bubbles and they get a bit browned.  Flip and cook the other side.  Strip the leaves of the herbs and add them along with the peppers to the broth.  Puree the whole thing, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used a Vitamix to blend my soup.  If you aren’t using some sort of high powered blending device, you might want to consider peeling both the zucchini and the peppers.  You may also need to cook the peppers in the broth for a while to soften them.

We’re in the final week of summer vacation and I’m both trying to prepare and trying to say “yes” as much as possible…getting my lessons plans in order, trying to get the house set up to accommodate everything, switching out baby clothes for the next size up (yet again), wondering where everyone else’s cold weather clothing got to, trying to keep up with the garden and the harvesting and the processing of food.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working to get my homeschooling binder in order, updating our calendar and trying to wrap my brain around new schedules; work two days a week for the big boys, multiple dance classes, multiple riding lessons, other possible classes- all of the related shows and special events and the things that come and go; in the last month between us we’ve had 8 doctors appointments, most of them 45 minutes to an hour away.  That’s not counting the all day affair that is traveling to our geneticist, which took place in the last days of July.  I’m having trouble trying to figure out where to fit in all of the dentist and eye doctor appointments that need to be scheduled, amongst all of the appointments with the other doctors and specialists and how are we to still have time for anything else?  It’s all rather stressful.  So far there are only 3 appointments scheduled for September.  But that’s mostly because we’re supposed to be going away for a while, so they can’t be scheduled for a bit.  Did I mention that I’m trying to plan a trip?  Right.  There is a lot of planning for that.  And then there are the yes things…meeting friends at the pond for yet another “last swim”? Yes.  Make ice cream for the third day in a row? sure, why not.  Work on that ridiculously messy big project? go for it.  Sometimes the yeses are stressful too (for me anyway), but worth it.

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The toys were a hit!

Seraphina Violet Juliette…

weighs 20 lbs and is 26 1/2″ long; our tiny giant!

reaches out her arms to be picked up.

is getting used to the car.

has been sitting on her own for longer stretches at a time.

has tried to say a few words…hat, hi and na-na (our word for nursing)  I know it sounds crazy, but I swear it really sounds like she’s trying to say them back to us.  I have witnesses.  Other people have heard it too.

likes to play with the baby in the mirror.

can be quite silly and giggly at home, but gets very serious when we are out, studying and trying to figure out everything new around her.

may be teething already?  She’s acting that way lately, but it could be a while yet.

has left her siblings all grumbling about how she won’t cuddle anymore.  too busy!

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Welcoming Seraphina

Our littlest one was officially welcomed into the world and into our community with a shower of blessings and rose petals.  As with our vow renewal, it rained and the ceremony had to be moved indoors at the last minute.  I planned everything in pastels.  A friend showed up unexpectedly bearing huge bouquets of flowers in the brightest and boldest of hues; a complete riot, so entirely different from everything I had imagined and completely perfect.

Our Sweet Wild Violet wore the gown and bonnet I made for her sister 5 years earlier.  It was a bit too warm to add in the stockings as well.  I love that they both were able to wear it.  Still I wanted to make her something special of her own.  The party was to be an all day event.  Since it didn’t seem practical to keep her in the gown all day, a party dress was in order!  I decided to give the Lizzy Dress another go using the chart this time.  The yarn is Knit Picks Diadem in ‘Azurite’, blue, blue…deep blue…like the ocean and the sky, her eyes when she was tiny, her beautifully formed umbilical cord, our birth tub!

Rosebud had a new frock of her own to coordinate.  I modified this pattern for the bodice.  Originally I pictured it with a floral skirt, featuring hints of that same blue.  I think there was a specific Liberty of London print that I kept seeing in my mind whenever I closed my eyes.  Then I remembered this amazing single yard of green Radiance, cotton silk blend, that I had tucked away for a special occasion.  I thought the combination a bit daring really.  The silhouette has kind of a regency feel with the empire waist, scooped neck, slightly puffed sleeves, but the striking colors make me think of some of the really bold fashions that started appearing in the 1920′s.  Kind of a The House of Eliott vibe.  Together they put me in mind of the skyline around our home…treetops reaching up into the deep blue of an early autumn sky.  She looked a tiny goddess in it.

I wanted to get some really nice photos of my girls in their dresses, but I didn’t take most of the candid shots that day.  The pictures of Seraphina in her gown and most of the decorative detail ones are mine, but most of the rest were taken by other people as my camera got passed around throughout the day.  I’ll have to try to get some better ones for posterity’s sake.

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staycation

The pictures above were sent to me by my husband.  This weekend we packed Steve and Iain up and sent them off to a campground for a kind of right-of-passage, special father and son bonding adventure.  From what I hear they’ve sent most of the weekend fishing, kayaking and eating s’mores.  Oh, and drinking coffee.  The boy had a decaf at the local co-op, very grown up.

Meanwhile the rest of us are keeping the home fires burning and having a bit of a holiday ourselves, full of little treats, old movies, long walks hunting for wildflowers and junk food- of the slightly more wholesome, home-made variety- we’re working on perfecting our grain-free pizza crust recipe.  On Friday night, after we got the little ones off to bed, with our Sweet Wild Violet sleeping beside us, Elijah and I made milkshakes (with coconut milk ice cream) and watched The Music Man.  Then we stayed up late looking at horse books and talking.  He’s going to keep a horse for me to learn to ride on when he has a stable of his own.  I’ve set him the task of finding a breed that resembles a Clydesdale, but with more the stature of say a large German Shepherd, the intelligence of a dolphin, loyalty of a puppy and temperament of a lamb.  He says he’ll have to get back to me on that one.

The weekend is almost over now, with a crazy busy week ahead.  I’m so glad we took this time to recharge and connect a little.

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