I’ve put together a little playlist of our Advent adventures this year. I will be continuing to add to it throughout the holiday season.
I really have no idea why I up and decided to film my first video in 9 months on a whim, first thing thing in the morning, with my hair all a mess and at a terribly unflattering angle, but here it is! Also, little bits from the month, a home improvement project, Thanksgiving, and lots of knitting.
Can you spot the frog??
There aren’t words for how much I love her little scrunched up face in this picture.
A few weeks before her birthday we had a conversation where it occurred to her that I’d made far more dolls for her siblings than I had for her. I believe that this doll is the only one that I’ve made for her (she got a little update here). And it’s true that I’ve made two or three dolls, or more, for each of the other kids (some of which can be seen here if you scroll through). It’s also true that I’ve made her other toys and that I’ve bought her two dolls, which I never did with the other kids. None of this was intentional, it just kind of worked out that way. I think part of it is that I’ve been quite ill for the vast majority of her life, resulting in far fewer little side projects like that, but also, she took an interest in the kinds of dolls that I can’t make at a much younger age than the others. I told her that I didn’t realize that she was now interested in the kind of doll I make (Waldorf dolls) and she assured me that she very much was. So, of course, I offered to make her a doll and had her describe to me what she would like….a mermaid with rainbow hair.
Instead of pushing myself to try to make it as a surprise (the truth is that these days, I’m in bed for as many hours as she is, if not more) I told her we would make it together. Mairi was intrigued and asked if she could make one as well. In the picture of the three mermaids side by side, Mairi’s is the first, the second was drawn by Seraphina, and the third was the one that I made for her.
It’s been a tradition in our house to read The Seven Year Old Wonder Book aloud to children approaching their 7th birthdays. It’s a conflicting sort of thing for me because that book really speaks to children at this age and there are elements of it that hold great beauty, but it’s also racist. There is simply no way around it. I’m not sure when it was written, but the author was born in 1901, which is not an excuse, but it does start to explain why some of the imagery used comes across as inappropriate to the modern sensibility, which is hopefully more in tune with social justice. My compromise, and I’m not really sure if it’s a good one or not (!), is that I’m the only one who reads the book and I change the objectionable parts.
The book reading was very different this time, as my voice is still limited. I would read her a couple of pages a night, sometimes less. It took us a long time to get through that little book, but it was our special time together and every night she thanked me for reading because she knew it was a struggle. I got her Snow and Rose for her birthday and we’re reading it in the same slow, patient, quiet way now.
As is also tradition, she had a wonder book of her own as well and people (okay, mostly me, but I talked some other people in the house into contributing too) volunteered to be “rhyme elves” for her, adding in pictures and poems for the two weeks leading up to her birthday. Her beautiful wonder book came from EllieBeeCrafts on Etsy. She was really sweet and customized some things for me so that it was exactly what I was looking for. It’s magical. Seraphina was so pleased!
She wanted a cat cake, only the cat’s ears where supposed to actually be mountains and the mountains were to have a whole forest on them and there were supposed to be gnome houses in the forest (?!?). I’ve got to be honest with you, I haven’t even managed to picture that, much less figure out how to make it! In the end, she settled for a pink kitty vanilla bean cake with raspberry jam between the layers, white chocolate-strawberry buttercream icing, and marshmallow fondant details.
I own a small collection of vintage baby knitting patterns…but of course I no longer have babies to knit for! Because my brain works in mysterious ways, despite the fact that there are probably thousands of patterns that come in her size, I decided to adapt a pattern meant for a six month old. Not only that, but I liked certain elements of another pattern so opted to combine the two. It was quite an adventure (in knitting terms anyway), but I will spare you the details. The yarn is Snuggle Puff in ‘Hatchling’ and ‘Lamb’. I expected and wished for a much softer shade with the hatchling, my face fell when I opened the box of yarn, but I’ve learned to live with the disappointment.
We went for a walk in the afternoon and our neighbor spotted us and sent over clumps of snowdrops and a crocus as very apt birthday gifts for my sweet, little, spring babe.
Waldorf Inspired Mermaid Doll by ThimbleGarden
Slightly modified Sweet Dreams Vintage Bloomers by RabbitRabbitCreation
I made myself a dress. After reading all of Jane Austen’s novels last year, an empire dress seemed inevitable and not made any the less likely by having binge watched Bridgerton. I amused myself with full on Regency hair to boot, because it’s not like I was going anywhere and it kind of made me laugh. There are worse things to be than a Jane Austen character for the day! When I was young people used to swear that I looked just like Jennifer EhIe in Pride and Prejudice. I’m not sure that the resemblance still stands, but if there was ever a time for it to show, I suppose it would be while I was dressed like this.
I made my littlest love a dress as well. I haven’t really sewn in a year. The last thing that I made was a dress for Mairi for a dance last Valentine’s Day. There was a quickly thrown together Halloween costume fiasco, where Elijah practically propped me up at a machine and handed me everything I needed, while I just settled for trying to make sure that things stuck together, but that doesn’t really count. I sewed Mairi two dresses last year and Seraphina none and this is a very sore spot. The fact that Seraphina gets piles of hand-me-downs, both from Mairi and friends, and had at least ten new-to-her and perfectly lovely dresses last year and Mairi had zero hand-me-downs from anyone, means nothing to her. All that matters is that I sewed Mairi dresses and not Seraphina.
I bought myself the fancy little French violet candies, in the charming little tin, which have been kicking around the back of my head for two decades. And now I taste like violets. I thought about getting roses, because it would be fabulous to have roses right now…maybe pale, pale apricot ones? But decided that it would be wiser to invest in a new house plant to pad out my rather paltry indoor garden. I spend a couple of weeks obsessing. Did you know that Etsy offers tons and tons of house plants?? I did not. Game. Changer. In the end I wanted so many that I couldn’t decide on just one, so I didn’t get any at all, which is so very like me. As it turns out, a friend ended up in possession of a whole bunch of just past their prime flower bunches and she left one on our driveway. So, there were flowers after-all.
I put little piles of pink foil covered chocolate hearts next to each of their plates because, as it turns out, candy is as welcome with my adult children as the six year old. The kitties got heart shaped treats and catnip. The home-made sugar hearts (and flowers and chicks) went out with the girls’ valentines.
Mine is the Folkwear Empire Dress pattern. Hers is cerisier en fleurs on top, with just a simple skirt I whipped up on the bottom. All of the fabric came from our old homeschooling co-op, where we maintained a community fabric stash. It was two old duvet covers with coordinating fabric on front and back. By the time I got to them, there had been some random head holes and things hacked into them in wild form, by children playing who-knows-what game. Luckily there was still enough fabric left. We over-dyed it and the yarn for Seraphina’s with avacado pits and peels because I look god-awful in white and, besides, nothing in this house stays white for long.
I resisted the temptation to add on the optional train, but oh, it was hard! Highly impractical, I know, but gosh, it would have been so much fun! Still making a dress from the late 1700′s/early 1800′s seemed eccentric enough. I actually think I’ll be able to get away with it as regular wear, without too many people pointing and giggling. Certainly without the ribbons in my hair. And probably dropping the sash as well.
These days I try to live part time in a fantasy. Balanced with as much time as I can endeavoring to be very, very present with my kids. It’s easier to pretend myself a stricken fairy tale character than to fully face the very unromantic, though still somewhat tragic, medical and practical realities of my world. I’m not really ready to look at everything head on. Just a periphery glance will do, thank you very much. Or maybe the modern day version…those gorgeous women on Instagram who swan around in dreamy dresses, putting pretty little touches around their homes, and writing their rose covered lives out like poetry. Yes, I think I want to be her for a while.