We had pancakes topped with a berry sauce for breakfast and filled the house with flowers. Seraphina picked out pretty pink candles for the table We made a sun catcher from flowers that we dried during the spring. I gave them the book Sing a Song of Seasons:: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, not because it’s a gift-giving occasion in our house, but because I wanted it anyway and just thought it would add to our celebration. Its really one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen.
On his last visit my dad sang Seraphina her favorite song as an early birthday surprise. Guess who is getting a teddy bear for her 4th birthday next week? Shh, don’t tell!
Seraphina’s Christmas Wish List: Eggnog, jelly beans, chocolate cake, candy, bananas, oranges, clementines, grapefruits. My mother asked, “don’t you want any baby dolls or toys or books?” Nope. Just sweets.
Elijah watches old episodes of Bob Ross, Galen watches Elijah, I try to figure out which walls can still fit more paintings. The northern lights one was my Christmas present from Elijah. Galen is an extremely prolific painter, but I tend to get fewer pictures of his as he tends to paint at night.
Two books that are perfect for around the time of the Winter Solstice:
Little Snow Bear by Hazel Lincoln has been a family favorite for years. I believe Elijah received it for his 4th Christmas. The illustrations are divine and I think they were the inspiration for the painting in this post. It’s a very sweet and gentle story in which little snow bear goes out in search of the missing sun. Our copy is worn and battered and greatly beloved.
Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root was a happenstance library find and entirely new to us this year. The story is modeled off of Nordic lore, but more modern in tone and appearance. It had me from the opening page, “Lucia and her mother and baby brother lived with a velvet brown cow and a milk-white cat in a little house at the foot of a mountain in the Far North. The cow gave milk, the cat slept by the fire, and the baby cooed and grew fat by the hearth.” When the sun disappears one day Lucia’s mother tells her that they will, “be each other’s sun until the real sun returns”. The sweet story turns into an adventure when Lucia sneaks out to find the sun only to discover it’s been stolen by trolls! The trolls, admittedly, were too much for sensitive, three-year-old Miss Seraphina, but I will keep this one in mind for next year.
Life with teens: I have one who walks about draped in home-made whips and another who randomly wears boxing gloves as some sort of bizarre fashion statement.
The baby doll Juliette has been in a somewhat horrifying state for about a year now. She never really recovered from that time when Galen decided to give her “troll hair”. And beyond which was getting rather grubby with two years of loving. When two days before Christmas my neighbor dropped by with some brown mohair yarn I decided the time was ripe for an impromptu surprise makeover. I do not adore the highlights. They are what was salvageable of her original hair, plus the little bit of that yarn that I had leftover. I was afraid that if I used an entirely new hair color she might be too different, so I tried to blend the two. It’s ok-ish I guess. I also cleaned her up, refreshed her rosy cheeks and donned her in her new Christmas nightie (of course) she made her grand reappearance on Christmas Eve.
Elijah helped with the Christmas pajamas again this year. Thank goodness. It’s too daunting for me alone. It took 16 yards of fabric to cover those boys of mine! Sixteen! We hated the pattern (Simplicity 2771) so much that by the time we got to Galen’s we decided to switch to another pattern entirely (Kwik Sew K3945). Elijah made that complete set on his own in probably a quarter of the time it would have taken us with the other pattern. And probably half the size- the others were HUGE!
For the girls I used old standbys. My favorite Kwik Sew 3423 and it’s bigger sister Kwik Sew 3105. I used the latter for Mairi Rose’s first Christmas and have turned to them both regularly ever since. I made them each a pair of pink organic cotton velour leggins for underneath. And they are terribly sweet and soft and toasty and cuddly in them.
Oh, I almost forgot! Seraphina’s romper….I was rushing out the door headed for a long car ride and trying to quickly pull together everything I needed for the day’s knitting. I had every intention of sizing up the Lady from the North Cabled Romper, but something went amiss with my paypal and it decided to treat my payment as a check requiring three days to clear. Are you kidding me?? So I grabbed a stitch dictionary instead and designed my own as I went along. I was already well into it when the pattern arrived several days later.
And the chickadee! I love him so. It was a little project just for pleasure, started with some friends, mostly crafted on Christmas day, finished a day or two later. I think I might have to make a tradition of it and make a new bird each year to add to the tree.
And this is as far as I got in what was going to be a very full advent sort of post. Better some than none? I don’t know, but here you go anyway.
The garden is covered in ice and snow. I’ve been scanning/quick reading Christmas chapter books all month to make sure that they are ok for Mairi, who reads at least one a day. I’ve been making a list so that I don’t have to start all over again with Seraphina. I should share it here, but who wants a list of Christmas books after Christmas?? I’m absolutely exhausted, but I suppose that can’t be helped. Christmas pajamas are complete, but for a few snaps still needing to be set. It took 16 yards of fabric to cover my boys this year, for goodness sake! The girls’ are of a different fabric and pattern this year- pink and matching, Seraphina is going to be thrilled and hopefully Mairi Rose will be tolerant. My Grandmother’s shortbread with all sorts of alterations for dietary restrictions turned out only so-so. Elijah has been covering at least one canvas a week (that is one of the more recent ones above) and Galen has been averaging a painting a day (didn’t get so far as to include those pictures). We’re supposed to have a snowstorm Christmas morning and I’m pleased about that. Currently I’m trying to figure out if there is any way to fit in a Christmas Eve nap, but I think I probably ought to go clean up my living room instead. It’s also my sewing space at the moment. You might just be able to picture the chaos. Or maybe not. I seem to bring with me my own special brand of chaos. And goodness I need to be on top of it all soon because in 12 days my children have a birthday. Mairi Rose will be 9 and Iain will be 18 (!!!). p.s. Who decided that 18 makes for an adult? I think I might like to have a word with them… And there are still gifts and things to be tended to there. So I think I’ll end here by saying a very merry Christmas and happy holiday season to all of you!!!!
Two bundt cakes stack bottom to bottom sort of make for a pumpkin shaped pumpkin cake. We used carrot juice to color the icing and matcha green tea to tint the marzipan.
Elijah has started making Halloween costumes for his friends as well. This is Gandolf the Grey’s staff….
and Gimli’s helmet…
The Dread Pirate Roberts, a.k.a. Wesley
And my darling Anne-girl.
It was really nice of our neighbor’s black cat to drop by on Halloween for ambience.
Anne of Green Gables dress details:
I started with the geranium dress pattern. I used the bodice extension and sash straight from the expansion pack. I took the straight sleeve from the expansion pack and modified it for the oh-so-important puffs using this tutorial. I made the sleeves first and she came in to kiss her puffs several times each day. I took the hem band from the pack and made it 1 1/2 times longer and used that to craft the ruffle at the bottom. The collar is an actual hand-pieced, antique collar. After some repairs I added a button and bound button loop so it could be worn, but still remain a separate piece. The rest is just trim.
It is brown of course. Because Mathew bought Anne a brown dress with puffed sleeves. Mairi Rose was so offended when he gave her a blue dress in the movie! This was hands-down one of my all-time favorite costumes. I couldn’t stop watching her in it. She’s like a china doll. And that she picked Anne? Oh my, well this mama heart couldn’t be happier!
This littlest one was seriously too excited to stand still for a picture. All of these rather poor ones were taken in rapid succession over the course of like 45 seconds, which was way, way longer than she wanted to spend on it. Which explains why you can’t really tell what her dress looks like in any of the pictures. I’ll have to get a better picture of it at some point. She informed me that she plans on wearing it everywhere so I should have plenty of opportunities!
Ever since we were matryoshkas together two years ago, Seraphina is convinced that we require coordinating costumes, which is how I ended up as a Mama Kitty last year. And really now, how long is this last baby of mine going to want her mama to wear a matching costume? Not very long at all. So I humor her. This year I was informed that herself, myself, Unicorn, and her doll Milky were all to be princesses for Halloween. Sometimes I humor her a lot. I asked her if it wouldn’t make more sense for me to be the queen and she assured me it would not. I was the mama princess and her, Milky and Unicorn where the baby princesses. End of story. Yes ma’am.
Seraphina’s dress is also a geranium, with the gathered sleeves from the expansion pack. The only modification I made was to add three large, lace trimmed ruffles in tiers down the skirt. I was also told that her dress must be pink. I had other ideas in mind, but set myself the challenge of making it entirely from what I had around the house. Adjustments were made and this is the result. She seems happy with it!
My dress is a heavily, heavily modified Darling Ranges dress, altered to the point of no longer being recognizable as such. Mine was a freebie sew as well. I found the material at our local fabric swap. Since I was taking the time to sew it, and I happen to really need clothing, I was trying to make something that she would consider a princess dress, but that I could get away with for everyday wear. I’m not 100% sure that I’ve made a success of it, it’s awfully red for one thing, but I’m going to see how it works out.
I started a post about Seraphina’s birthday, one about finishing a quilt for Iain, one about how I thought I was done with blogging. Not a one of them ever went anywhere. I know that some of you have been worried and for that I am very sorry. Others have been sad or frustrated and I apologize for that as well.
I’ve been asked a number of times if I’m no longer in this space for good reasons or for bad and the frank answer is a little of each.
A few months ago we joined a homeschooling co-op. We meet twice a week for two very long days. It is both satisfying and all consuming. I think that for Seraphina it’s like suddenly having 15 new siblings. She always wants to go so desperately and when we are there it’s running from one thing to the next, all smiles for everyone. Her current favorite game is to see how outrageously she can behave before Mommy will stop teaching to reprimand her. When it’s time to leave she cries. And when we get home, more often then not, she has a complete breakdown and spends the intervening days clinging to me like an infant. It’s all mommy, all the time, making it pretty impossible to accomplish just about anything.
I’m co-leading a book club for the oldest kids (including Elijah and Iain when he has the time), where we’ve been reading the likes of Wuthering Heights and To Kill a Mockingbird. And yes, I am still not-so-secretly in love with Atticus Finch. Fun fact: I attended the 7th grade book fair as the ghost of Catherine Earnshaw after having donned a lacy nightgown of my mother’s and powdering my face white.
I’m leading a book club for the next level down, including Galen, where we are just finishing up Swallows and Amazons, even though Galen has read it before. That kiddo is a tough one. It’s hard to find an appropriate book he hasn’t read.
I teach what I tend to think of as a small, mixed age, Waldorf kindergarten type class, which Seraphina has lovingly christened her “circle time class”. I have a huge age range, with ten 1-8 year olds. I lead a circle time with dancing, singing, story telling and finger plays followed by nature crafts. We’ve made nests and nature weavings and played with snow dough, little clay pinch pots planted out with cress and more.
I’m also assistant teaching two drawing classes and helping out with a singing class. It’s a lot. With our dietary restrictions even just the food prep is an ordeal. We’ve just shifted to a much more laid back, one day a week schedule, with lots of outdoor time and most classes being done until Sept. I’ll be glad to take a step back and regroup. Of course we have a singing concert, two performances of a play, an Irish dance concert and a ballet concert, with all the associated dress rehearsals over the course of the next three weeks, so we are still keeping quite busy, but things truly do ease up after that.
This is all the hectic but good developments. Also in our world…
We were informed that Steve’s job of 14 years is moving several states away at the end of the year, and as we have made the decision not to move with it, there is a lot to consider.
Our ill little one, who miraculously and inexplicably grew well again around Christmas time, just as inexplicably began to decline again by Easter and we’ve found ourselves back in the world of long sleepless nights and seemingly endless worry. I come unmoored at these times and loose all concept of time or priorities beyond what is in front of me. I can’t even see beyond that. It’s not even possible. Full weeks just drift away without my being able to account for them.
Honestly, the only reason I am managing to finally post at all is that I’m laid up with “post vital cough syndrome”, Pleurisy (inflammation of tissue lining the lungs) and a resurgence of the RADS that hasn’t really given me trouble in over a decade. In layman’s terms: whenever I try to move about I start coughing so hard that I see stars and feel like I’m going to vomit.
As to my future here, I truly don’t know. Perhaps this post will be the catalyst that propels me back into regular blogging or maybe this will forever serve as my farewell post. I feel like it could go either way. There is so much up in the air right now that I have no idea what the future will bring.
No matter what, please know that this space and your involvement in it has been incredibly dear to me over the years. Thank you all so much for sharing this little window into our life. I’ve so enjoyed all of your comments and messages.
My birthday was beautiful and I feel blessed. As a gift to myself I finally, finally, finally sewed the buttons onto my Calligraphy cardigan and blocked it and I’ve refused to take it off since it dried. It still needs pockets. I need more pockets in my life. I’ll get to it at some point. Unfortunately the buttons seem a bit too small or the holes have stretched a bit too much, either way I might have to do something about that as well. But none of that is stopping me from wearing it constantly. The yarn is Swish Worsted in “Doe” (I believe this color has been retired).
I just finished reading The Winthrop Woman. It was most enjoyable. I had trouble putting it down.