Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Duds for Dusty

This beloved guy is Dusty, Jude's compadre. He was starting to look a bit shoddy (and the look wasn't improved by the fly that landed on his face just as I took this picture). 

Jude had been asking for new duds for awhile, and although there are many other things to do, I set today aside to accomplish the task. 
A pair of old jeans were quickly fashioned into new denims for this wrangling cowboy (I used the side and bottom seams from the originals to give them a real jean look!). Some flannel become a sweet plaid shirt, complete with a collar and some wooden bead-buttons.
A scrap of leather and a random button became a belt into which any self-respecting cowboy would be proud to hook his thumbs!
I finished the ensemble off with a neckerchief  to dress up his look. Jude maintains that he needs some boots, a holster, and a gun, too. Maybe next Sunday will allow for some more fun creative time to complete Dusty's new look!

Right now, Margot is trying to set him up with her mermaid.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

30 weeks and counting

Like most mamas, I'm more often behind the camera than in front of it, taking pictures of my kids. But the other day my mama was at my house and got behind the camera to get a few snaps of me and a warm little critter that found a cozy place to rest.
I realised that I have very few pictures of my growing "bump" and although I don't feel overly photogenic these days, asked mom to get a shot or two of my belly.
The kitten nestled further down in what I imagine must be the most comfy place in the world. I'm 30 weeks into this pregnancy and already older women are asking, "You must be getting close to your due date!" and gasping when I tell them I'm not due till early December.

The boundaries of etiquette fall away when in the presence of a pregnant woman, do they not? I pray I remember NOT to say stuff like that when I'm past these childbearing years. 
PS: Kittens are available for free to good homes!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yarn Along: Preparing


I don't know if it's the season, or my pregnancy, but I felt compelled to knit socks this fall. I wanted all of my children's feet to know the warmth, comfort, and love of handmade socks, a favourite pair to wear in boots and skates, hopefully in ski boots, and most certainly on a cool mornings before the woodstove has had a chance to take the chill off the floor.

I finished Violet's on an evening before a work day. Just before I left for work, she came downstairs and I slipped the finished socks on to her feet. She didn't say a word, just smiled at the joy of having something custom-created by her mama's hands.

I've been reading Agatha Christie for the first time, and am LOVING Miss Marple. She sits knitting in her old-fashioned clothes, seemingly oblivious to what is happening all around her. All the while, she is quietly observing and putting her understanding of human nature to work to solve mysteries. Perfect, light reading for bedtime in the fall.

The basket in the background contains some WIPs: Baby's Puerperium Cardigan, still awaiting the perfect buttons, a pair of socks with one toe needing grafting, and my 15 year old moccasin, needing a new liner. And those jars? Concord Grape jelly, from our own grapes! The birds got to the grapes this year before we did, but fortunately I froze a lot of juice last year, so we still get these jewel-coloured jars of delicious! Perfect on toast with a cup of tea.

Stop by www.gsheller.com to see what others are knitting and reading!

Friday, September 21, 2012

::this moment::oops!::

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. 
Hope your weekend is full of surprises. Stop by www.soulemama.com to share in other moments from the past week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We're All Artists

We had a rainy Friday at school, so I cut out some giant paper dolls from a roll of butcher paper and had my Senior Kindergarten students paint self-portraits. They worked away at them on and off all day. 

The joy of watching children painting is their complete absorption and lack of judgment. They joy for them is in the feeling of the paint being smoothed across the paper, the textures of the brushstrokes, the mixing of two colours into another, and the coming to life of an image on what was once a blank space.

One of the children claimed, "We can be artists someday!"

I replied, "We ARE artists...look at the art you all just created!"
Sometimes I need to urge myself to get into the mess of painting at home (when I do it so often at work). Their task was to create a picture of themselves with Nanny for her birthday. 

Their focus and delight in colour is a joy to behold. I love seeing how they develop in their skills, particularly in painting humans. Jude has eased away from the detail he used to add, and now makes stick people with no features or details. Too many plans for adventures in his head, or he just imagines them there. My husband and I (we both teach Kindergarten) marvel at how drawing development relates to reading readiness. 

Did you know that the addition of the ground or sky indicates reading readiness? Margot has just started adding grass, clouds, etc., and is eager to practise her letters and letter sounds. I see it in my classroom all the time; children who represent people by drawing just a head, or an "open hairpin" (ball with two sticks for legs) are generally not ready for reading yet.
While it may be fascinating pedagogically and developmentally from my perspective, for them it's just what it is: art, being created with joy and without judgment.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Party for Nanny

Every September, we celebrate the birth of my mother. It's often thrown together as a last minute celebration because of our busy back-to-school lives and my dad's hockey school that keeps him out every evening and weekend. This year, he had weekend afternoons off, so we gleefully planned to surprise mom with a small gathering of some of her children and grandchildren.

The table was a cacophony of colour...no theme here, but joy and anticipation! The kids gathered with balloons when we got the word that she'd arrived in the driveway (my sister having cleverly lured her away).
Surprise! I don't know who was more delighted: mom, or my kids!
A beautiful lemon cake creation (thanks to my sister Julie), some sweet gifts, and of course, some help to blow out the candles pulled it all together into a simple but lovely celebration of this beautiful, loving woman.

Happy Birthday, mom!



Sunday, September 16, 2012

armfuls

One day the mama cat was round and lumpy, the next, skinny and perky. We searched high and low, in haylofts, chicken coops, the drive shed, and every little corner a farm can contain. For two weeks we searched for her kittens.

Then one day, we found them. She'd moved them into a coop we'd already searched, into a sweet bed of straw in an abandoned nesting box. I reached in, in the dusty darkness, to pull out a kitten. Then two, then three...four, five, six.

Six. This tiny mama cat carried and bore six perfect little kittens.
At five weeks, they are perfect armfuls of soft, mewing sweetness. I am called upon daily to "get the camera"! Because we have kittens every four months or so, my children have learned extreme gentleness, respect for the bond between a mama mammal and her babes, and the joy and privilege of being around wee things. They also learn the pain of saying goodbye, of letting go of critters we've come to love. The house always seems a bit quiet and empty when we've found homes for our Knitty Gritty Kitties.

There are plenty to go around, and they'll be seeking homes in about 3 weeks. If you live locally and think you have room in your home for a loving little bundle (or two!), raised gently in a farm kitchen, please let us know. They have been well-handled, and are learning to use the litter box! Their mother is a great mouser, and an excellent mother. My own mother has two kittens from the last litter, and they are outstandingly beautiful, loving cats!
And if you want baby pictures of your little adoptee, we have plenty to share. Armfuls, actually.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

yarn along: baby stuff, rainbow socks, and dickens

The third trimester of pregnancy brings with it the longing for old-fashioned things. I lean towards reading books published in the 19th century or before, and love period films. It may be the notion of a gentler age (I know, it wasn't really gentler) but I just love the costumes, sets, hairstyles, and so on of the 19th century.

So, this is kind of a yarn-read-watch a long. I picked up "The Old Curiosity Shop" by Charles Dickens from my shelf of vintage books. Inscribed inside the cover is "Pearl Conway, 1934, from Miss Gertrude O'Malley, H.S. Teacher". Pearl was my grandma, and she was sixteen in 1934. There is so much to love about vintage books: the embossed leather covers, the careful use of every inch of paper, the decorative touches, and of course the beautiful language. For example, from Mr. Dickens himself, on the subject of children:

I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.

I've been watching and LOVING "Downton Abbey". Ah! The scenery, costumes of the early 20th century, the horror and romance of the First World War, the division between the classes, the scheming of the servants and the scandals of the aristocracy. Irresistible!

So. This is how I spend my evenings. Once the lunches are made, clothes laid out, and the dishes washed, I settle in for an evening of Downton Abbey and knitting.

I've been re-inspired to finish my Rainbow Socks started ages ago; I have one inch to go! The yarn is Fame Trend. I also created this Puerperium Cardigan and Aviatrix Cap (both patterns available for free on Ravelry!) out of Freedom Spirit by Twilleys of Stamford. It knitted up beautifully and I can't wait to snuggle my newborn girl in this cozy knitted stuff!

What are you reading and knitting/creating these days?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

desperately seeking balance

Phew.

I'd love to post pretty photos of my kids or share inspiration of all the lovely handmade things we've been making. I'd love to have a recipe to pass on, or some wisdom.

But I'm too bloody tired.

My return to full time work last week was a rude reminder of how good I've had it the past few years.

Sure, I jumped for joy when I saw what had been deposited in my bank account. After years of struggling to get through each month, I thought, "Wow! I can finally replace my mix master! And buy new undies!"

And of course I looked forward to the joyful challenge of meeting my new gaggle of Kindersurprises. I looked forward to the return to school-year routines, and spent many days getting my classroom in order so that the months I'll be teaching pass smoothly.

I just didn't know I'd be so tired. Or so busy. Or that Margot would be so whiny and clingy as a result of never having had to say goodbye to me five mornings in a row.

I spent the week looking forward to the weekend when I could give my kids my undivided attention and lots of cuddling.

By Saturday at noon, I was ready to go back to work, if just to get away from the impossible demands of a three-year-old who couldn't let her mother out of her sight. 

Did I mention that we're finally getting around to getting her to poo in the toilet? I know, I know, save your judgments for another day. Margot's been totally trained for more than a year, never wets the bed or has "accidents", but has refused to poo in the toilet. So, we just used one diaper a day. She knew when she needed to go, found a private corner, and let us know when she was done. It seemed to make sense to get her out of that habit at the same time that I went back to work.

Not such a great idea. They say hindsight is 20/20.

So.

Take one stressed, busy, exhausted, and slightly constipated seven-months pregnant mama who snuck off to the bathroom with hopes of five minutes of privacy.

Add to it one preschooler who is paranoid that her mother has disappeared completely if she can't see her at all times, who also panics if she feels the urge to poo. 

So. There I am, in the midst of...being locked in the bathroom alone. And Margot is outside the door screaming her head off, psychotically banging on the door, absolutely PANICKING. I calmly tell her again and again, in my best Julie Andrews voice (while feeling like Al Pacino inside), "Mommy just needs to go to the bathroom...I'll be out in a minute"...

Finally, she screams that she's pooed down the pantleg of her pyjamas.

This happens three more times in the day, and each time I patiently bathe her and change her clothes.

I spent Sunday planning meals, grocery shopping, preparing food, catching up on laundry, and feeling tormented by the guilt that I should really be spending time with my children while knowing that the week will go more smoothly with muffins, soup, and shepherd's pie in the fridge.

I'm seeking balance between work and life, with a rueful laugh at the hopelessness of this task I've set for myself. It's a joke, right? There really is no balance, at least not at this point in my mothering journey. 

Can I just add one more thing? My mother is my saviour. She takes care of my girl(s) five days a week, does most of the laundry, and has dinner waiting when we get home. The dishes are washed, the counters are cleared off, and the kids always have some neat craft to show off. I'd be completely and totally lost without her. Once we've eaten, we make lunches and get the dishes cleaned up, and prepare for another day.

Thanks so much, mom...if I have any hope of getting closer to balance, it's because you're on the teeter-totter with me.