Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas pictures

My kids are at the stage where their cheesy grins and posing turn on for the camera - what can I say?
 The big white blob on the front of the tree is a needle felted angel that Noah made (ah, ornaments made by young children :)

 Our new addition looking a little more lived in.

 My first attempts at handmade needle felted ornaments.

Avery got a dollhouse for Christmas, which just so happens to be my dollhouse from childhood. Lots of old memories for me, rugs and quilts and furniture I'd made. Seashells from the coast packed into the trunk, stowed away oh so many years ago.

Look closely. Noah is wearing moccasins that I made, an elk skin vest that my dad made, and a leather quiver that my brother made. And that is his new youth wood long bow.

Noah trying out his new bow with my brother (skilled hunter) giving him just the right amount of suggestions.

Avery's new felted (knitted, fulled and needle felted) slippers. 

Wishing you all a late Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas, and an early Happy New Year. I don't know about you but I'm thinking it is time to relax and curl up with a good book or my first two seed catalogs. Time to take a short break from crafting. Time to reflect on the past year and all the wonderful lessons we've learned. I'm beginning to think of what I want to do differently in the garden. I've also been thinking of how to spend more time in the garden with the kids and less time in town or in the house. Today I started thinking that I'd like to have an open garden day, where we invite moms and kids up to the garden one day a week to visit while the kids run free. I'd even be up for watching kids while their mom's run short errands. I'm all about bribing moms to bring their kids to mine - homebody that I am.

As for right now, I am looking forward to making music with the kids this month. Avery has a new lap harp. I tuned it last night and played a couple songs. Something we can sing to together. I've also been wanting to write some short stories and poems together. What are you guys looking forward to having time for once the Holidays are behind us?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dark Day Pictures

I have been a mother for six and half years now. My existence before motherhood is blurry and vague, my adult years of carefree frolicking blend together with few defining events. Even since entering motherhood, I have thought of myself as so much more, a gardener, wanna be farmer, cook, baker, food lover, goat caretaker and cheese maker are a few at the top of my list and mother and wife have been intermingled among the rest of my passions. These days I feel like one word sums up my existence; mother. I know I should say wife is right in there as well, but as much as I like to think I am, and maybe I am; a loving, attentive wife, my husband is able to feed and care for himself, and he is often away doing his job, providing for our family. Whereas I am generally with the children every minute of every day from when they rise to when they fall asleep, and thus they direct the majority of my thoughts and actions.

So maybe you've noticed, my posts have been following my evolution as a mother. This past year I feel like I've evolved the most, realizing, (better late than never), that most of my interests will still be there when my children are grown. Not to say that much is changing, except for that feeling of desperation or urgency when it comes to planting, harvesting, preparing and creating. It has taken me a while to realize that preparing five course meals for company is not an o.k. goal to have when I have two little ones who would rather have my attention and don't do well when I'm in the kitchen all day. This last year has been a year of letting go and easing up for me. And somewhere in there I've realized that I'm just now putting my children first in my life, whereas before I was putting the health of our animals or our desire to live as self sufficiently as possible above my role as a mother.

Our family is entering into a complete new world of opportunities. We have left the days of babies and toddlers far behind. I haven't nursed a baby or washed diapers in two years. I'm enjoying uninterrupted nights of sleep more often than not. The kids are beginning to be a significant help when they wish to be. Tantrums are becoming rarer. It is an exciting time. I have been so busy trying to stay on top of the present that there has been little time for looking ahead. After several years of feeling always behind and struggling to just keep one step ahead of the kids, like have their next meal or snack prepped or planned, I'm finally having time to myself as well as time to get creative and seek out fun and adventure with the kids.

This past year we have joined a community of like minded parents and children, which has been so enriching, rewarding and inspiring. Our homesteading lifestyle keeps us in touch with our land and in harmony with the seasons. The Waldorf homeschooling community, inspires us to come together to celebrate this lifestyle. Celebrating year round and making each day special for our family by way of songs, stories, crafts, candles, special food and fellowship has been the missing thread from the tapestry that is our life. Here are some pictures from our dark days. I think they speak for themselves.

Note the goose quill from our own goose that Noah is writing with.
He chopped that himself! (at six and a half, with dad's supervision)

And I should be tying all those thoughts together for a nice tidy ending, but I'm all out of coherent umph, and I'm distracted by an untouched knitting project sitting beside me and thoughts of a novel I'm hoping to squeeze in before bedtime. So goodnight and best wishes for your darkest days wherever you are. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Finding peace during the darkest days

In the mornings when I'm milking goats or walking my chore routine solo, I think of so many topics I want to write about and so many discussions and debates to begin; Selecting chicken breeds for cold climates; winter hardiness vs. behavior indoors and tolerating coop confinement, or perhaps, Are show goats being bred for production and looks at the expense of other significant traits such as easy kidding? Alas, by the end of the day, which is generally when I sneak in a few minutes of computer time, all I can come up with is what I've been doing daily; chores, lessons, crafts, food, snow removal....

I have fallen off my blog writing routine, and in case you are wondering what I've been doing instead, I can sum it up in one word: crafting. Yep, since early November I've been spending at least an hour and sometimes three, knitting or sewing, after the kids have gone to bed. And I'm pretty proud of myself as it means I've been doing a fairly decent job fighting off the constant urge to sit down and dive into the nearest novel. I often reward myself with some reading after my crafting quota has been filled, and this past week I fell of the wagon completely for a couple nights and did nothing but read, ahem, I read four novels and two novellas in the last ten days and that was without reading during the day, much:)

So what have I been making? Well, I am skin sewing my first pair of high top moccasins for Noah. The bead work just about killed me. I use to love beading and now I no longer have the patience for it, and it shows. But, I made it and am now close to finishing the sewing on the second one. They better fit!!! I have knitted Avery one slipper or "felt clog" and I'm starting second one tonight. After I felt and shape them I'm going to embroider a design on the top. I'm working on a couple other small knitting projects for family members which I cannot elaborate without spoiling surprises. During the day we've been wet felting and needle felting. A girlfriend stopped by with her basket of needle felted amanita mushroom ornaments, crocheted snowflakes and little pinecone acorn people which were all so lovely and special, that I went on an ornament making spree and tried my hardest to replicate them, pictures coming. I'm also hoping to get some wet felted/needle felted doll clothes, and simple toys; fruits, veggies, small dolls, made.

It can be challenging finding the right projects that the kids can do and enjoy each year. Even folding and cutting paper snowflakes can be hard for Avery, and I end up doing most the folding, and cutting... Noah has been doing some needle felting. Avery is big into beads, although only a fraction of our bead stash has big enough holes. I have to sit with her but she has made a couple necklaces for friends lately. She has also been doing some wet felting and is able to complete small projects on her own. She is going to be so crafty as she gets older, I can't wait. I can just see it now, us doing embroidery together, knitting and crocheting, weaving... I've been trying to get Noah to do some knitting and weaving, it is all about my timing.

So I have to brag about our dark winter days as they are just so beautiful and peaceful. We've had some cold weather and some warmer weather, the warm weather (above zero) brings with it snow, which fills out the nooks and crevices of the white Birch and makes for contrasting layers on the dark green spruce boughs. We are in hibernation mode, as much as I try to fight the later bed time, inevitably we are sleeping in and staying up later and later. So my mornings are flying by and by the time I've finished my chores it is often time to make lunch. Dustin is home all day every day this time of year. As he was working too much during the warm months to get our firewood stockpiled, he spends a couple hours a day outside hauling, sawing and splitting wood. He is just now taking a break from working on the house, as we were able to move in to our new quarters and are content with the almost finished rooms.

My favorite times of the day have been our meals which we've been eating all together, usually with the oil lantern or a candle lit on the table. The kids have been playing amazingly well for hours and hours each day, so well that I have to be determined to stick to our schedule and get our lessons done right after breakfast before the kids get down to play, otherwise I have a hard time getting them back up to do schoolwork. Then we've been water color painting, dipping candles, felting and crafting in the afternoons. We hollowed out gourds that we grew with rattle making in mind, but we failed to let them sit and cure for the year they needed to do so, oops. The kids play. I tidy and cook. Often they come join me after dinner for more wool work. I must say that my very favorite time of the day is when the kids have fallen asleep and I'm done being productive. I lay out a few yoga mats on top of each other and prop up some pillows and bean bags in front of the wood stove and lean back and put my feet up, and read. Add to that some hot buttered rum and homemade kettle corn  or a glass of red wine with crackers, goat cheese and olives, and well, I feel slightly glutinous.

 We have been going longer stints without going to the grocery store (about every two weeks) we've been trying to buy less. I've been having fun getting creative and trying to use what we have in the house. We've been eating lots of oatmeal or eggs in the morning, meat and vegetables at night.  We have an abundance of milk, goat cheese, eggs, meat and bulk grains and beans, potatoes, carrots, cabbages, beets, winter squash and frozen berries. We just finished up the last of our own onions, garlic and celery. When we go to the store at the top of the list is crackers for the goat cheese, spinach for fresh salads, apples or clementines and olives for our late night olive addiction.

Our meals have been pretty simple as I've been crafting late into the afternoon. I'm looking forward to our Christmas break where we are going to let go of all thoughts of lessons for a couple weeks, and I'm going to make elaborate meals, I'm thinking of cheese blintzes and bread pudding for breakfast and homemade noodle dishes and dumplings for dinner. So, now it is your turn. I'm looking forward to hearing about your crafts and what you guys are making for gifts or ornaments or what other special things you are doing with your family. Happy Dark Days. Happy early Solstice! And stay warm and let your light shine wherever you are!