09/52

Iain: After not knitting for months, maybe even a year or more?  He’s suddenly been inspired to knit every day this week.

Galen: Experimenting with charcoal drawings.

Mairi Rose was asked what made her special.  I thought she might say something about her splits and straddles.  She’s forever reminding us how she’s the only one in the house who can do them.  She gave the question some serious consideration, much more then I would have expected.  Finally her face lit up and she said, “That I have an Iain and an Elijah and a Galen and a Seraphina!”

Seraphina: This picture!  Ack!  It’s a blurry mess and I probably shouldn’t even post it, but oh, it made me laugh!  Elijah says she looks fierce.  She had just spilled water all down the front of herself.  Halfway through changing her, she started entertaining everyone by showing them how she could go from sitting to standing.  This girl knows when she has a captive audience.  She’s so very pleased with herself!  She claps when she makes it all the way up.  It was just such a funny, special moment.  So that terribly blurry, ridiculous photo is my favorite of her this week, all the same.

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about a dresser

My Grandmother was a mother of 7, grandmother to 24.  As such I imagine she knew quite a bit about fixing things up and the curative power of paint.

When my mother was pregnant with me, Gram found this dresser on the side of the road, waiting for the trash pick up.  She brought it home and fixed it up, adding a new coat of paint, complete with faux wood grain.  Since that time it’s been a constant in my life.  It’s one of the few pieces we managed to save when we lost just about everything to our mold infested old house.  Once, about a decade ago, I was tempted to paint it.  I slapped on a splotch of primer to see how if it would take and that’s how it remained.  Somewhere along the way I got nostalgic, and once my grandma passed away, I just left it as it was, a symbol of an act of love.  Over the years it’s been moved many times.  During one of those moves we discovered the newspaper stuck to the bottoms of the feet, with little snippets of news from the year of my birth.  Recently we noticed the date stamped on the back, confirming it’s manufacture in 1954.

I/we are working on a long term project, trying to turn the little room off our dinning area into a studio space.  The goal is to purchase only paint for the walls and a light fixture, for everything else we are going to work with what we have.

I’ve been using this dresser for fabric storage for quite a while now.  I seriously considered leaving it as it was.  The main factor that swayed me is that at this point it’s chipping quite a bit and considering it’s age, who knows what’s underneath and with another little one in the house, putting everything into her mouth, it seemed time.

Not bad for something that was considered trash 34 years ago!We used all products that we had on hand.  Once the creamy white (Olde Century Colors in ‘Candlelight’) was on, it looked so fresh and clean that I doubted my plans, hemming and hawing….fuss, fuss, fuss.  I can make myself sick of the simplest of decisions.  But I really wanted the beautiful curvy bits to stand out.  I eventually worked up the nerve to experiment with adding some General Finishes Glaze Effects in Van Dyke Brown on the body.  I compromised by leaving the drawer fronts plain, which gives them a little more pop.  It may be a little strange, but I rather like it.  What do you think?

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together

Galen crafted matching headbands for all the girls, Mairi Rose rolled candles, together they created a mess of glitter that extended the entire first floor and beyond.

A couple of years ago I started the tradition of taking photos of Steve and I together on Valentine’s Day, not because I’m ridiculously sentimental about the holiday or anything like that, because I’m really not at all (though we also have a tradition of making cinnamon rolls and that I am attached to).  It’s just that having a specific day means it’s more likely to happen and this is as good a day as any other to serve as a friendly reminder.

It’s such a simple idea, but looking back I’m amazed at how revealing it is; the photos captured are so very specific to each point in time.  Two years ago we were planning our vow renewal.  Our youngest child was reaching a more independent age, leaving us with a bit of time for the first time in 13 years (!), to be frivolous, silly, flirty.  I had just gotten over being really ill and we were both just so ready to focus on enjoying each other and life again.  Last year was moving slow, big bellied, full of excitement, but more of a quiet and comfortable expectancy.  She was essentially our honeymoon baby.  In many ways it felt like starting all over again, only this time we were able to enjoy it in a way that we weren’t capable of with our first child, while we were so busy trying to learn how to live together and be a family.

And this year- a day late*, rather frazzled, somewhat haggard, kid made accessories, clingy-cranky baby way over-due for a nap, but still crazy in love (perhaps with extra emphasis on the crazy…see below).  I had though I would take some time to really make an effort and do my hair nicely and put on make-up.  I must have been completely delusional.  I think I managed to scrape together five minutes, total, including dressing.  I was mostly just happy that I managed to brush my teeth.

I started making my dress, oh, about a year ago now.  And then I had a baby… and it sat and sat and… sat….  It’s the Sis Boom “Jamie Dress”, with modifications to make it a nursing dress (tutorial here.  I substituted ribbon for old bra straps).  Since we are trying to save money I thought I could finish this up and it would be a little something to make things special.  Instead of an act of love, I think it may have come across more as making myself crazy while trying to sew a dress on Valentine’s morning, because my earlier attempts were thwarted time and time again, while subjecting everyone else to my crazy self.  Which wasn’t quite what I intended.  Sometimes the big picture is a little lost on me.  At that point I just wanted it to be finished and wearable for the future.**

* It’s possible that on Valentine’s Day proper I was a bit on edge and that by the time dinner was on the table I was ready to be completely done with everything in the world and everyone within a certain age bracket.  As an undeniable signal of my total and absolute defeat I had already changed into my pajama pants.  Throughout the day as I was metaphorically ripping out my hair, usually while the baby was literally ripping it out, my husband would occasionally look at me with maniacal gleam in his eye and exclaim, ” Day of L-O-ove!”.

** There is a rumor circulating that in these pictures the nursing opening is being held up with safety pins.  I refuse to confirm or deny said rumor.

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07/52

I’ve been having computer issues and well, life issues as well I guess.  Nothing major just busy in an everyday busy kind of way and kind of over-whelmed too I suppose; trying to find the wherewithal to muddle through until spring.

Pictures of everyone this week!  I’m rather pleased with myself.

Iain and Elijah: they bought themselves canes and fake mustaches.  Why?  I couldn’t even begin to say.

Galen: suddenly seems so much older and taller.  I don’t yet know how much taller, but we will measure this weekend! (Unlike Iain who I know for a fact has grown over an inch since his birthday last month!)

Mairi Rose: they are working on an African dance routine accompanied by drumming.  She’s into it.

Seraphina: has been enjoying our afternoon walks.

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from abundance

I think I’m ready to be done with winter.  Usually I’m not fussy about these things and my spirits don’t give out quite so easily, certainly not so early!  I don’t know why I’m struggling this year.  I miss the earth.  I crave green growing things.  But winter does not seem to be nearly done with us.

As I mentioned before, we’re trying to cut spending in our household.  The prevailing view seems to be that this will be a painful, miserable process, during which we should all “suck it up” and white knuckle through.  I choose not to see it that way.  The fact that I can make that choice is evidence enough to prove I am truly blessed.  I am not scared for our lives, far from it.  And I have many, many, many things to be grateful for.  Up to and including the chance to act responsibly now for my family’s future well being.  I’ve set myself something of a personal challenge and I’m encouraging my family to join in.  Rather then focus on lack; all the can’t and shouldn’ts, my goal is to live the very best life we can live, while lowering our expenses.  As I go through this process I’m going to share some ideas here, some of the joys, some of the failures (because there will be setbacks) and just generally keeping tabs on how things are going.  I invite you to do the same!  Feel free to leave comments or links to your own thoughts.

I don’t feel like we are taking full advantage of our belongings.  There are so many things that could be fixed up, altered, put to a new use, taken advantage of, rearranged, even just tidied (!), in such a way that would serve us better.  Something to meditate on this week: if I’m not able to realize the full potential of my possessions, if I don’t have the time, energy or creativity to truly care for the objects I already own, then what on earth do I need additional things for?!?  I have so much that I can’t even properly care for it all.*  I find this thought very humbling.  I vow to shop at home and work with what I have, before even considering making a purchase.  There is so much untapped potential around our home.  Yes, there are limits to this.  Having an extra vegetable peeler does me not a whit of good when what I really need is a decent pair of pants that fit or new tires on the car.  But certainly there is enough to be getting on with.  Rather then feel confined by this I’m choosing to feel inspired.  I’m willing to consider the possibility that something amazing can be born out of limits.

*If you think you are different, let me ask you this…do you have any shirts that need buttons sewn on?  Closets that are cluttered without everything put away properly?  Socks with holes that need mending?  Are you behind on your laundry or dishes?  When’s the last time you backed up your photos or changed the filter in your furnace?  Any furniture in need of repairs or a fresh coat of paint?  I could go on, but I think you see my point and I’m really quite certain that I’m not alone in this.

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knitting on

I’ve given it  a lot thought and I’ve come to the conclusion that I could greatly improve my quality of life, if I could just figure out how to knit while folding laundry.  Ginny of Yarn Along fame says, “Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading (though not at the same time!)”.  They are two of my favorite things as well, only I routinely do them at the same time.  When I read to the children in the afternoon, I prop the book open so that I’m able to accomplish some simple knitting as well.  Most of my private reading happens while nursing.  Some times I knit while nursing too.  And there have been a couple of times where I’ve nursed while knitting and reading, but generally that seems like one too many things.  People often ask how I manage to knit as much as I do.  I’m pretty sure they think that I just sit around all day doing nothing but knitting.  Actually it’s quite rare for me to just sit and knit, I’m almost always doing something else at the same time.  I knit while I teach.  I knit standing in lines and waiting in waiting rooms.  I knit during anything we might watch.  I’ll get in a row or two between turns at card games.  I sometimes get ridiculously giddy at the prospect of car rides, where everyone will be strapped in and my hands are guaranteed to be free for a set amount of time.  It’s not odd for me to slip in a stitch or two walking from one room to the next.  A little here, a little there and it all adds up.

This week I’m reading The Forever Marriage and knitting birthday sweaters; Seraphina’s in the daytime and Galen’s after he’s gone to bed.  I’m cutting things rather close on Galen’s, which is strange since I usually have his done well in advance.  Not this year!  I just couldn’t decide what to make him.  I changed my mind about 15 times before finally settling on something once and for all last month.  I’m taking several risks with this one and even though I’m getting close to the end, I’m still not sure how it’s going to turn out!

The yarn for Seraphina’s is dreamy…baby alpaca with a hint of merino in that soft fawn hue that I want to cover just about everything in these days.  I just finished with the calm, meditative part.  I’m about to start on the fun part, which will lead me to the absolutely terrifying part (steeking!!!!).  When I explained the concept of steeking to Iain and mentioned being nervous, having never done it before, he asked why on earth I would ever do such a thing with something as important as a first birthday sweater??  Setting aside the endearing fact that my teenage son deems a first birthday sweater of paramount importance, I’m starting to think he may have a good point.

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the adventures of Mairi Rose (and 05/52)

When I transferred my pictures this week, I found a whole collection of images of Mairi.  I must really be charmed by this current newly 6 stage and all of them together seem to kind of make up a picture of who she is right now.  I couldn’t pick just one.  So instead I’ve put together a photo essay of sorts.

wanting to try to do her hair on her own

This is how she bowls…throw a ball, do a split, throw a ball, do a split.  That’s also how she dries dishes, eats dinner, has conversations.Learning to braid using playsilks.

She made herself fairy wings.

This one has been such a Daddy’s girl lately.

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sox and stocks

Trying to craft for boys as they get older is a tricky business, especially when the boy in question is not your own.  I think I did alright with this one.  His eyes lit up when he opened it and said, “Did you make this?” and when I replied that yes, I had, he looked at me with wonder and asked, “for me? specifically for me??”  It was really very sweet.  I think the moral of the story is that the logo of a favorite team can really go a long way towards selling a plain old neck warmer.  I’m just glad they’re not in the National League.  I don’t think I would have ever heard the end of it if they were regularly in competition with the Phillies.  That would be like some sort of sports knitting treason or something.  As it was there were a few snide comments.

I’ve never had trouble with color work in the past, but somehow my tension on this one was all wonky.  Post blocking it seems ok, but I still wasn’t overly thrilled with the finished product.  But as I said, it was well received, so I guess that’s all that matters.  I used yarn leftover from the Christmas cowls, some scraps of white.

I’ve been reading Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey, since I’ve seen his work recommended in a few places.  In the beginning I found it some of the comments kind of offensive.  Not to me, as most of what he was saying didn’t apply to me, but in general.  There were a couple of blanket statements that just rubbed me the wrong way.  To be perfectly frank, I also found it patronizing and a bit sexist.  But as I’ve gotten into it I’ve found the practices he recommends to be sound and for the most part in line with the way I personally believe money should be handled, ideally, at least for my own peace of mind.  You, however, can feel free to enjoy handling your money however you want, without any judgments from me, though I’m not so sure I can say the same for Mr. Ramsey.  I think my main objections stemmed from, shall we say, a different world view from what I’m accustomed to.  I’m glad I stuck with it, as there is a lot of quality advice once you get into it.

 

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