Monday, March 28, 2011

Cancel the week

The past two weeks have found us replacing a well pump, dishwasher, water heater, front load washing machine, and oh, hey, by the way, the transformer that feeds electricity into our home.

(While I ramble on about our electrical drama, feast your eyes on a few photos of Gracie and her beloved new doll Samantha from the big bakery birthday. And although six may have been a mix, seven is heaven. At least the first week or so.)
In the middle of all that partying and fear of the house burning down we've enjoyed five ear infections, multiple visits with friends, homeschool spring break complete with a book buying spree, two trips to the movie theater and play dates galore.
The thing is, when you dream about "going off grid" and becoming a real homesteading family, it's easy to forget that hot water is kinda nice.


So is plugging in the Kitchenaid mixer.

So is washing and drying laundry (gasp) indoors.

And in honor of our week of mostly waterless and electricityless "roughing it," I thought I'd let you know that I may be canceling this week to soak in a very, very long and very hot bath.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


My friend Lexie got a sewing machine and outed herself today as a fabric junkie. I suggest she enter a 12-step program. Step One: I''ll take that offending substance off her hands.
My sister (Whose blog is not public. Gah. What kind of sister of mine is not all about the attention?!) joined me earlier this year in retreating for a weekend of quilty goodness. She, too, is a burgeoning fabric addict on a slippery slope. But don't think I'm a pusher.
My friend Katie, also, she sews a mean streak. She sews dresses from pillowcases and slipcovers from remnants and probably was the inspiration behind a little book called StitchAholic. Her first step, I'm thinking, should be to hand over the stash to one who can watch over it for her. I mean, I'm prepared to help.
Today I sewed nonstop at my dining room table. I sewed through Sarah writing a riddle about Gandhi (who, it turns out, was quite riddle-worthy). I sewed through Madeleine applying for a patent (no kidding) for an invention that may or may not be revealed here later. (When she decides whether she trusts you, dear readers.)
I sewed through making umpteen cups of "cold cocoa" (known as "chocolate milk" unless you're a particularly particular child of mine) for Laura and through just as many sessions of nursing Salvador.
I sewed while Gracie spent her last day as a 6-year-old just as Gidgety as ever, never once glancing at the plainly visible increasing stack of finished items. Oh, to be that happy-go-lucky. Grace is a butterfly of a girl, you see, alighting on a flower here, a sunny spot there, gently unfolding her wings in the most springlike manner. Any other of my children would have had twenty questions, no fewer, for me, about the pile of bright floral and gingham fabrics. Any other of my children would have started asking me to sew something specific. Not Grace. Grace Hannah collects happinesses like I collect pretty bits of floral fabric. She just does. She can't help it.
Just last night, to give you an example of Grace's way of walking through the world, this same child burst into my bedroom at well past midnight. A headlamp blinded me as she excitedly bounced up and down on my side of the bed, waving two books in and out of the glow.
"I finished these, Mom! Do you want me to read them to you?"
"I want you to know what happens!"
There is something undeniable about Grace. She is enthusiastic; she's single-minded until she's inevitably distracted; she's effervescent. It didn't occur to her last night that she busted herself for reading well past "lights out" just as it didn't occur to her today that I might be sewing her birthday gifts in plain sight. She's just so full of joy, that girl. She's good medicine in a world that doesn't seem fluttery nor innocent right this minute.
What did I sew, you ask?
I slashed through a lot of my own personal stash creating a wardrobe for Grace's as-yet-unmet dream doll: Samantha, a beauty of an American Girl that my mom bought for our gorgeous middlest's seventh birthday. Samantha now has one period (1904-ish) outfit, three skirt-and-sweater sets and a pair of pajamas. Grace also has a lookalike skirt set so she and Samantha can dress in matchy-match glory tomorrow.
And now I feel as giddy as Grace! I can't wait to wake up in the morning and see her open her gifts! I couldn't be more pleased to bust through fabric than for this reason. It was a delicious day of sewing and school and reflecting on Grace's sparkly seven-year life.
Plus I made some room for more fabric. Isn't that the way it works?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Salt dough travels

Madeleine's been spending a lot of time in Mexico.

While Grace is around the world in France.

And Sarah? She thought India would be interesting.
The school year marches on and the 'big girls' have been studying topography, geography, culture and chemistry. We're sewing costumes and practicing recipes for madeleines (a French cookie) curry and fried ice cream. We're very authentic that way.
I love watching each girl's concentration meet with imagination.
I love homeschool.
This week we received the sad news that the rural school across the road from us is closing. We have loved that school, more specifically its teachers and staff and students, for five years despite our decision not to attend. We will miss the tiny red school on the hill. No matter how far we "travel," a little bit of our heart will remain there.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This one's for my dad

Recently we enjoyed a day with family at the new Matt Court, aka Matthew Knight Arena, to watch the Ducks play basketball.
Laura had the best seat in the house.
My dad asked to review the snapshots before I left for home.
I told him he'd have to check at farmsuite.
So there you go, Dad, I have successfully lured you to my little weblog.
Meanwhile, back at the homestead:
Salvador is sick, the canned ham trailer rejuvenation project is on hold because I can't paint while he's coughing, my quilt tops still need sandwiched (see former excuse), laundry threatens to take over our every waking moment (not necessarily a product of caring for a sick baby, but not helped by that situation either), seeds call out to be started (and will wait for no illness), neighbor children are visiting every day after school (necessitating much cookie baking and Clue playing by all).
It's busy and it's a beautiful thing. Except, you know, for the sickness.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We live and learn

How is it March already?

It's nearly time for spring fever for school children and mommies everywhere.

My daffodils are still shivering and the maples aren't yet in bud. I haven't yet started a seedling although I plan to do so this week. Winter storms still pound on the skylights and most passing cars still wear snow tires.

I suggested a hike to my sweet children the other day. A nice, long nature hike to collect mosses and cones. "That sounds miserable," replied one child who then entered a form of witness protection. She was right but it still stung. I'm ready, for goodness sake, for spring. So why won't the weather cooperate?