Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Girls

 Silje's new thing is being able to hold Solveig now.  Not just on the sofa.  She can walk around holding her for short periods of time.
 I cannot begin to tell you what a help it is.  She's been begging me for months to let her.  As I've watched other girls her age do the same with their siblings, I've realized that it might be okay.
They simply adore each other.  Silje loves the responsibility and importance that comes with helping, and Solveig loves being doted upon by a little person.  It's a match made in heaven.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yarn Along

It's Wednesday, and that means Yarning Along at Small Things.

I'm growing concerned about my weekly yarn along posts.  You see, this last week, I've been stung by the sewing bee again, and it's sewing projects are all that I've thought about.  I'm really trying to finish at least the Jenny set I've been working on.  It's tough, though, because I seem to have messed up somewhere, even though I've done this pattern dozens of times.  It's time to split for the legs on these longies, and the numbers aren't coming out right.  If I can't figure out where I went wrong, this size 2T set may have to be frogged and redone.

I know the cream longies are very plain, but the yarn looks so pretty next to the top that goes with it.  What's worse is I'm thinking this is more of a winter set, so it really doesn't need to go into my store for a few more months...but I cannot allow myself to have yet another UFO (UnFinished Object).  Even if it's not listed right away, I'd really like to finish it completely.  Once I get to the leg cuffs and do some fun lilac fair isle accents, it will be quite fun. 

So I'm working on that, and kicking myself that the "Jane" pattern isn't done.  It's about half way there, and on my goal calender, it should have been sent to the pattern testers 2 weeks ago.  My motivation is nearing zero, and I wonder if I should focus whatever self discipline I have left in finishing this set, and then put the pattern design on the back burner for a month or so while I blow off some steam with the sewing kick I'm on.

As far as reading, I'm still paging through Orthodoxy as often as I can, although my brain has been feeling fried as I sit down to it which isn't helping.  Chesterton continues to make me laugh out loud in his simple, profound, and even comical approach to theology.  I expected to be further along in this as well.  I'm having to remind myself that I don't "have to" get any of this done.  I just want to so bad!

For school, we've picked up 2 new books this week!  Little Pear is the story of a little Chinese boy.  As you may be able to tell, our history unit right now is on ancient China.  Since Silje's been studying Chinese this year, and has an overall interest in it, we've been going all out in this unit.  Last week at church I was introduced to an amazing woman who lives in China and is currently in the states visiting family.  I asked her over for tea with Silje and I this Friday and she said yes!  She was excited to talk to Silje about China, and you know what else?  She homeschooled her 3 boys using Sonlight over there.  I haven't met another mom in my homeschool circle who uses the same curriculum as us, and I'm so glad to finally meet another Sonlight mom!  I can't wait to pick her brain.

I'm getting off topic.  We also started reading George Mueller, which is a biography of the famous man who ran an orphanage.  I'm surprised to learn that Mr. Mueller was a thief for awhile, and am curious to find out how he found God before his amazing ministry.

O, and that other book is Silje's copy of See and Sew that she's been spending all of her free time oogling over.  For  those who haven't seen yet, I'm giving away a copy of it as part of the giveaway I have going on now.  Click here to read that post.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

500 Something Post Giveaway

Here's a preview of the giveaway before I begin to ramble:

I sometimes feel that I'm constantly saying "no" to my children.  This is especially true when we're out shopping.  I've gotten them trained to not ask for things much when we're out...or at least they've learned not to bother.  The answer will be "no."

The bad thing is I want so badly to say "yes."  I'd love to say "yes."  I want to shower my children with all things good.  However, if I say yes to one child, not only do all the other children with me perk up and start asking for things as loudly and frantically like a nest of baby birds, but the child who I said "yes" to sees it as a free ticket and asks for more things.  The only thing I can do at that point besides fill my house with junk and spend hundreds of dollars on it, is to say "no" every time one of them opens their mouth, or forbid them to speak at all, which never works.

So I've learned the trick to showering my kids with good things is to get them things when they're not with me, and surprise them with that good thing when it's just the two of us.  Then I don't get the whine "but I wanted that one!  Why can't I get this too!  I never get anything fun!"  Instead, I get "You got this for me?!  Wow!"

See the difference?  Yeah...never buy your kids toys at the store.  I wish I could, but the sense of entitlement comes out so fast before I can even get to the checkout.  When I present them with something at home they feel so special that I thought of them.

So I spoiled Silje down in Phoenix with something that probably should have been a birthday present, but I couldn't help myself.  I was out shopping by myself (gasp!) and they just found their way into my cart.  Crocheting this year has proven to be a bit too difficult for her at this age, so I thought we should do some sewing instead.  We did a few ornaments at Christmas, but honestly, they didn't turn out that well and I completely lost steam for the project.  You know...having a baby and all.

Isn't it such a cute little basket?  Even better, I found a little sewing kit with pink things.  A little pink pin cushion, pink seam ripper, everything.  We started working on a counted cross stitch bookmark together.

I told her at the beginning that it may take us months to finish, so she could expect it to go slow.  I'm surprised how patient she is about it.  She needs help with every. single. stitch.  So I have to sit right next to her the whole time to help her, which I think is her favorite part about it.  It's just "us" time.

See and Sew: A Sewing Book for ChildrenI picked up this book using Swagbucks on Amazon, and thought it would be fun to work through it after we finished the bookmark.  Then I got the idea for my giveaway.  I wanted so badly to make something for the giveaway, but my load is so full.  Still, I wanted to do something to show appreciation for you readers.  So I'm delegating the work.  I'd like to get one of you sewing.  Or get your daughter, granddaughter, or that girl at your church sewing.  In my dreams, I'd love to inspire one of you to be Candy (my sewing mentor as a little girl) to someone else.

Now, I wish I could afford to giveaway the full basket that I did for Silje.  However, as blogging is just a hobby, I have to limit myself.  Here is the giveaway package that could be sent to your house:

It's the children's sewing book, just like ours, with the gorgeous vintage inspired illustrations.  It has little project ideas for little hands.  Silje loves to sit and go through this book and has all sort of projects planned that she has little time for...just like her mommy.

Also, the pink sewing kit that Silje went bonkers over.  It's not the basket, but the accessories.  It contains the pin cushion, scissors, pins, needles, thread, a seam ripper, pink tape measure, hem ruler thingy, and a tailor's pencil.

Lastly, you'll need some material to inspire a project like Silje has her bookmark.  I got these 3 fat quarters as a gift with purchase from a quilt shop, and although they're gorgeous, I don't have a project in mind for them.  I have enough projects in mind to last me a good 5 years straight or so, so I don't have room for fabric without a project.  These could make beautiful doll clothes, or little stuffed animals, or a cute little apron.  (I'll stop there with the ideas or I may change my mind and keep them.)  I'm throwing in this spool of ribbon from my stash because I think it goes well with the color palette. 

All you need is a little basket to store it, and you have everything you need to teach some hand sewing to either yourself, or someone special in your life that you've been meaning to spend some quality time with.

So here's how you enter.  I'm going to borrow some ideas from my friend Melissa's 500th post because I thought it was fun:

1) Follow me.  Leave 1 comment saying that you do. 

2) Leave 1 comment telling me what one of your favorite posts was.

3) Leave 1 comment with a question that you would love to have me answer in the blog.  I'm not saying I will answer all of them, but I'll probably answer a few.

4)Put a link to this giveaway and a comment about it on Facebook.  Then leave me another comment to tell me you did.

So, up to 4 ways to enter.  You can do all 4, or just 1.  You could technically do none of them, but you're not going to win that way!  Please leave one comment for each entry, so that it's easier to distinguish the winner using an online random number generator.  In one of the comments, make sure you leave your email address or blog address so that I can somehow contact you if you win.  If I cannot contact you, I'll pick again.  Comments/entries will be closed next Monday.

I just want to say a quick thank you in advance to all you readers.  This blog is a lot of fun for me, and mostly because of the comments and feedback you give.

UFOs, Hardanger, and Russian Literature

So, you may remember my goal to take things off of the UFO (UnFinished Object) pile. I have this nasty habit of hating to do "finishing work" on items.  That...and my terrible habit of having several crafting projects going all at the same time.  I do that with books too.  I used to have at least 4 books going at the same time, but as I've gotten busier, I try to limit myself to 2: 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction.  That way I can read whatever I'm in the mood for.  Unless it's a piece of Russian literature, and in that case it belongs in a category of it's own because they take way too long to read.  Anna Karenina took me 4 years.  I can always depend on it to cure my insomnia.  I owe any sleep that I got in my first and second pregnancy to Anna.

Anyway...back to UFOs.  Yesterday I was doing another sewing lesson with Silje.  More on that later this week.  The point is that I normally alternate between knitting and sewing, and since I've been knitting so much lately, all of a sudden the sewing bug has bitten me again.  I've actually picked up Silje's quilt again.  I used to joke when I started it that she would be 8 when I finished it.  Now I'm hoping it's done by the time she's 8.  Who knows, maybe it will be a graduation present.  Or wedding.
(Silje and I named these birds who just made their nest on our porch "Bernard", "Charlotte," and "Sophie.")

During this whole "back to sewing" phenomenon, I've been on a mission ever since we got back from vacation to get this house together already.  We've been living here for 3 years? or so and there are pictures that never got hung up.  There are things to be done!  I am nearly done decorating the 3 season porch, and just in time for the seasons we actually use it.  I was thinking that the end tables could use a little cloth or something, and then I remembered that I had started a hardanger short runner a few years back after my mother in law gave me a little pattern book and all the fixings for working the craft after I repeatedly said I wanted to learn how to do it.  (It's this gorgeous style of Norwegian embroidery.)  I'm so making more hardanger things...someday.  It's on the list.  Maybe somewhere around number 30 or 40 on the to-do list, but at least it's on the list.



The whole piece was done except for cutting around the outer edges.  Then it got put in the black hole in my sewing room called the UFO pile, and has now resurfaced after years of being buried in there.  So, yesterday I took out my little embroidery scissors shaped like a birdie, and cut very carefully around the edges while I actually watched a t.v. show.  It's not perfect, but first attempts at a new craft rarely are, so I won't beat myself up about it.  I love it, and it works perfectly in the room.

Well, it at least goes with the white, ivory, and green color scheme I have going in the room.  I would prefer it to be against one of the green tablecloths, but it's the wrong size/shape and I already have things for the centerpiece.  Then again, I think making some pretty hardanger pieces in more of a square shape for the tables in there would just be perfect.  Adding it to the list...

I showed Knut my finished work, and he looked at me in shock and said "when have you had time to do this?"  (I actually spent most of the day cleaning closets and general decluttering/decorating/cleaning of the house these last few days.  Not to mention, I've been doing lots of 'finishing' on a diaper order due at the end of the week.)  I told him that I actually did it a few years ago, and it was just waiting for me to cut around the edge.  He laughed.  Yep, that's me.  At any rate, when I was working on it, we weren't even living in this house, and I had no where to put it in our old house, but knew that once we reached our permanent home I'd have an opportunity to use it.

So there you go.  Look at what I "just" whipped up last night.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Last Weekend

It was the last weekend of the season that the ski farm was open, so of course, all 6 of us went out for one last ski all together.  I'm sure there are some boys in the household who will make any use of the snow left around our house, but this was with everybody.

As you can see, Silje and David were on their own skis, although David asked me to hold his poles half way through the first trail because he thought they were getting in his way.  He does much better without them, as most kids do.  Elias was in the pulk, zipped in and pulled by Knut.  Although he loves being on skis, he's not quite up to going out on trails yet, and more plays with Daddy in the yard there.  He loves being pulled by Knut though, and we often hear his squeals of delight.  Knut also had Solveig in the Ergo carrier under his jacket.  She however, got bored and fell asleep.  Bob, the black lab that lives at the ski farm, joined us on the trails as we seemed to be the only ones out there in the morning.

It's handy to have 2 kids hanging on Knut while we ski.  It slows him down for the rest of us.

Did I tell you that he made it into wave 1 for the Birke next year?  That was one of his goals, and he made it.  He said if he didn't make it, he'd do the Birke skate style next year, and if he did, he would do it classic style one more time, since he couldn't pass up an opportunity to ski with the elites.  I know, I didn't realize there were different types of cross country skiing either.  It's kind of like swimming, where there are different races to get across the pool using a specific method.  Classic style is what most people think about when picturing cross country skiing.  Skating is more like roller blading with really stiff, long skis on.  It's much faster which makes it more popular.  I haven't tried that style yet, and don't have any big intention to as I enjoy classic so much.

I felt the most confident on my skis this time.  It's my 3rd time out there since Solveig was born.  I've been really shaky on skis this year, as I haven't been certain which muscles of mine I could depend on.  However, this weekend I had such good glide that it was really fun.  Well, going with the kids is always a bit pokey.  Mostly because I don't really know how to stop on skis yet, and this time I was in the back of the group to insure no one was left behind.  I would have to wait quite a while at the top of the hills to make sure the kids were far enough ahead that when I started going down, I wouldn't plow them over at the bottom. 

Knut said simply, that I just need to step out of the track if I feel like I'm going to run over them.  I wish my body would do what I wanted at times like that, but mostly it just stands there in terror.  There was a very icy hill on the second trail we went on.  I nearly lost control about 7 different times but I didn't fall down.  I focused, and was chanting to myself all of the things my body was supposed to do.  "Bend the knees.  Stay loose.  Maintain control.  Don't fall.  Don't fall.  Don't fall.  Don't fall."  All of this, of course as my hands holding the poles were waving wildly in the air, which I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to do. 

So I made it down the whole way without falling, but gained too much speed and ran into David at the bottom and we both fell down.  Knut gave me the "why didn't you just step out of the track?" look, and I explained that he should be congratulating me for actually making it down and not picking at details.  David was a good sport about it, though, and thought I was pretty funny to run into him.  I was just so grateful that Knut was wearing Solveig and not me.  He's got a bit more experience!

After we were back at the hut, or house, or lodge, I'm not sure what the ski term is, Knut took my camera out on the trail to take some pictures as you've seen in this post.  It was truly a gorgeous day to be out there.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Homeschool Friday

We're finally back at school.  Actually, I'm quite astonished that we got as much done this week as we did.  We got back around midnight Sunday night, and started into school right away on Monday.  Well...Monday afternoon.  I'm not that strict.

You might be surprised that school is actually sanity for us.  On the way back, both Knut and I made comments that we couldn't wait to get the kids back to school.  They behave so much better when there's that structure.  Their play is so much more imaginative when they have that little jump start.  It was good that we didn't do school on vacation, because vacation is a necessary part of life as well.  It's so good to get back, though!

We had the astonishing phenomenon this week on getting everything done fully on each day that it was supposed to get done on.  What I mean is that history wasn't put off for the day, and clumped together in the next.  Read-alouds, which notoriously gets forgotten in our house, was done diligently each day.  The big reason for this is that I switched the schedule for the day up.  We now do our sit down reading at the beginning of the day, usually during Solveig's morning feeding when I'm sitting down anyway.  The boys are usually happy that time in the morning.

We finish our reading first, which is a chapter from Exodus, our devotional, history readings, and then our read aloud, which is currently Follow My Leader.  She's really loving this book about a boy who suddenly loses his sight and must learn to do everything again from walking to eating to getting dressed.  He has to prove himself to get a guide dog, who will enable him to once again be a boy scout...something he misses the most.  It's really a great story.

After that she does her handwriting, spelling and math at the table while I get chores done, and Solveig is usually asleep by then.

We try to squeeze in piano practice before Elias goes down for his afternoon nap.  I've learned this week that I actually have to stand over her shoulder and make her practice each song, as I've recently realized that she just breezes past the new songs, does them incorrectly, and then goes back to the older, easier songs, and does those for the rest of the 30 minutes.  So I now stay in the living room with her and be annoying.  I hate being annoying.  I'm trying so hard to say positive things as often as humanly possible so I'm not just in there picking on her.  It's tough for kids to be found out, though, that they weren't doing their best.  A little bad attitude goes with it.  I know that from experience.  

She still likes to play on her own time, just for fun, so I still rest assured that I have not killed her love for music like I didn't kill her love for poetry.  Even in things that she enjoys, it's good to require her best.

She's doing fabulously in Chinese.  I think this is due to the fact that instead of doing one lesson a few times a week, I'm having her do 2 lessons a day diligently.  It only adds up to 30 minutes or so, sometimes less.  Still, her scores are going up and up.

I don't know why I continually feel the need to defend myself on why I continually push Silje.  No one has attacked me on this point.  Still, neither Knut nor I am content to let her "coast."  We could just let her make the status quo, but the status quo means nothing.  I feel that as her teacher, it's my job to recognize where she's at, and guide her to the next level.  It doesn't matter if that level is 1st grade or 5th grade.  I don't expect her to be a genius, but I do expect her to keep her brain sharpened.

At one point she was rolling her eyes at when I noticed she was getting worse and worse in the subject of Chinese and "made" her practice more, not less because she was losing interest.  This week I've seen her jump up in down with delight over the fact that she nearly got 100% on the listening section, which is often her least favorite.  Once again she can't wait to get to that part of the school day.  All because I made her practice more when she started losing interest, not less.  I don't get to see that joy in her without pushing her a little, so it encourages me to continue to push.

This is our last full week of 1st grade math, as she only has 2 more days of it next week.  I've gotten the 2nd grade math all ready to seamlessly move into it on Wednesday next week.  She's so excited about this, and is quite proud of herself.

David has taken over the white board with his handwriting practice (we have the handwriting lines wipe-able poster taped on there pretty good), so we've had to start using the black board on the opposite side for Silje's grammar lessons.  Sometimes we practice dictation instead, and I have her write the sentences down onto notebook paper.  She was so delighted to use chalk that she asked if she could play with it after school, and pretend to be teacher to her dolls.

I told her that Elias might like being taught too.  We were surprised a week or so ago when we realized that he knew most of his letters.  We had no idea he had been learning them.  He just showed us a book and was pointing to letters one by one and naming them for us.  So Silje "played" school with Elias one evening.  I know alphabet is spelled wrong in the picture.  Don't worry.  It's now written correctly in the personal dictionary she keeps.  She just loved being the teacher for Elias!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shopping For A Friend

I don't normally write posts like this, but I should do them more often.  Every once in awhile, a story touches your heartstrings, and you just have to share it.  I know from time to time I blog about the "divas" my group of online mom friends.  It's amazing how relationships can blossom online, isn't it?  Someone you have never met in real life who is so much like you.  You both have kids.  You go through pregnancies together.  You craft together.  You debate together.

I can think of a few times the divas had me crying.  Many other times, I have been called to pray.  Oftentimes, the divas gather together and make a quilt in times of need.  This time, there's something I can give freely, and that's publicity.  Let me tell you a story.

Berritt is one of the founding divas.  She designed the "fattycakes" diaper pattern which is honestly one of my favorites.  I like that her name is Norwegian.  It's like she's family. (grin)  Anyway, Berritt is known for giving her opinion without apology, which is one of my favorite traits about her.  I admire it.  She never beats around the bush with words and is often direct, but always truthful and kind as well.  (She's obviously not a Minnesotan Norwegian but the West Coast kind.)  So much compassion and so much conviction.

Another thing Berritt is known for is her passion for her husband.  Seriously, it's always Alex this and Alex that.  No one ever doubts her love for him or his for her.  So many women get together with friends and complain about their husbands, but not Berritt.  She's always bragging about how much they love each other.  She tells of how he supports her and she him.  It normally puts us all to shame, or inspires us, and sometimes both.

A month or two ago, Berritt made a comment that she thought her husband was losing too much weight.  He was trying to lose weight, but it seemed to be coming off too fast.  We all told her that guys always lose weight easier than women, etc.  Very recently, he went in for a routine physical for work, and got a diagnosis of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia or CML.  You can only imagine how Berritt must be feeling.  Not to mention, their little girls.

After more tests, they found out that his cancer is very treatable.  Many people have CML and live for a long time.  His outlook is very good.  As she breathed a sigh of relief, they found out the 2 small catches.  First the medicine he needs to stay alive costs about $7000/month and their insurance does not cover prescriptions.  (This will likely be a long term kinda deal.)  Second, because of this diagnosis, Alex did not pass his physical for his work and needs to find a new job.

Now, we all know that there's things you can do.  You can apply for grants and help and talk to prescription companies, etc. etc. etc.  Believe me, knowing Berritt, every application will be done.  Every letter will be written.  In fact, she doesn't even seem to feel the hiccup of this because at least her husband will live.  The whole money thing is secondary to that. 

As the divas discussed if there was anything we could do, and it was realized that even taking up a collection wouldn't cover one month's worth of drugs.  Most of us are stay at home moms, and money doesn't really get passed around freely in any of our households.  Berritt took to the discussion and requested that if anyone wanted to help, first, they could pray.  She's asking for her husband to be covered with prayer.  I would ask that not only will Alex be healed, but that both of them would feel the presence of God in a very real way during this journey.  May they never doubt his love, or ever go without his comfort.

Second, Berritt makes sewing patterns.  She said that if we liked, we could promote her business, or even buy a pattern.  As most of us already have several of her patterns, (they're that amazing) we're all trying to promote them.  I have used her patterns, and I haven't been disappointed by one of them.  It's a sustainable income for them, which may come in handy during this time of uncertainty.

So calling all of you who sew!

Here is her diaper pattern.  It's amazing.  It's about the most versatile fit in diaper patterns out there.  It uses more fabric than others, I think, but it fits just about every baby out there, which is quite astonishing.  All of Elias' nap diapers are from the Fattycakes pattern.  They are known as the bulletproof ones in our house.

Here are her kids patterns.  Most of them are clothing, but I'm totally getting the bowling set one since I don't have it yet.  Some kids I know might be getting them for birthdays...or Christmas.  It just uses some fat quarters and it looks so darling!
(I made a button on the sidebar to remind you all to take a look.)

For those of you without babies or kids, here are her other patterns.  Things like e-reader carriers and camera straps.  They're just so cute.

So, first off, don't forget to pray for Berritt and Alex.  Second, take a look at her patterns.  You download them and print it off at home, so you don't even need to wait for it to come in the mail.  It's super easy to do.  If you don't sew, consider getting a pattern as a gift for someone who does. 

I'm sure the family could use an extra boost in income right now.  It's such an honorable way to help a family in crisis out, and you'll get some of the coolest patterns out there out of the deal. 

Dreading Spring?

It may not look it outside, but I know from the seed catalogs piling up in the back entry to the house that Spring is around the corner.

I'll tell you a secret...I'm not looking forward to doing a garden this year.  Don't tell anyone.

Those who have had to endure seeing my garden the last few years, and the weeds that inevitably take over know what I'm talking about.  Don't even get me started on the sighs I get from my husband...the professional gardener of thousands of acres. I've tried to explain to him that we all have our giftings, and he gets to use all sorts of equipment that I can't.

Don't get me wrong...I love having the fresh produce that tastes about 1000x better than anything I can buy.  One pepper from our garden smells like the entire pile of them at the grocery store.  Tomatoes actually have flavor.  And if you haven't tried eating sugar snap peas raw in the garden on a sunny day, you are missing out on one of life's best simple pleasures.

I was telling my mom my secret dread of the upcoming gardening season, and she told me that planting seeds aren't so hard.  I told her I didn't mind that part.  Planting can be fun most of the time.  She said she understood that harvesting the crop can be so time consuming, as well as preserving the abundance of it.  I admitted, I love harvesting them, and shelling peas and snapping beans has a relaxing rhythm to it.  I've even got the 2 older kids to help me with that part very eagerly last year, so it didn't get too overwhelming.  Also, I love having my pantry and freezers full of this amazing gold from the ground.

"So it boils down to you hating to weed." She said.

Yup.  Pretty much.

So I suppose saying that I'm not looking forward to gardening isn't the whole truth.  I'm not looking forward to weeding.  That would be more accurate.  My failures in the past have just provided me with even more little weed babies waiting to pop up each year.  Ugh.  So I've been going over and over in my head how to make it this year.

Last year was my first year in not burning out in the harvest.  That was due almost entirely to the kids' help.  Getting them to weed, though, was almost as difficult as getting myself to weed.

So instead of flipping through seed catalogs this year, my garden planning for the year lies mostly in developing ways to make weeding fun for the kids and me.  Every year I say we'll go out every morning.  Then comes a few days of rain, or a large day of harvest, or a few days at the lake.  We always, somehow get backed up.  It's when we get backed up that we can't keep up.  The usual hour in the morning turns into 2 and the kids can't go that long, and the babies can't be entertained without my help that long.  Last year I was so focused on getting the garden weeded one morning, that Elias wondered off and ate mushrooms from the yard.  Yeah, that was a fun poison control calling kind of day.  They need attention from me, and I can't go for an hour or two straight of weeding. 

My mom pointed out how quick weeding went with my halo hoe.  She suggested that we buy a halo hoe for each of the kids, and cut it down to their size.  I like that idea.  That one might be implemented this year.  I'm thinking of assigning each of them a row.  Silje will get more work than David because she's older and better at it.  I'm also thinking of getting batteries for my boom box, and buying a cd containing salsa music.  I normally like the piece and quiet, but maybe the kids think it's boring.

I've tried dried grass, I've tried plastic, I've tried cardboard.  I haven't tried carpet, because I don't have carpet, but I imagine it would have the same affect as the cardboard.  Weeds creep between cracks and close to the plants and we already have a grub problem in the yard so covering the ground doesn't help.  They need to be hand picked or hoed and there's just no way around it.

So help me.  Please.

Help me think of ways to motivate my children and myself as this Spring approaches.  (If you think I was asking for help with the actual weeding...well, you won't be turned away.)  What did you do with your children, or what did you do as a child?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yarn Along

Despite the busy-ness, I always try to squeeze in some time for knitting and reading.  I love to sit with a cup of coffee and peek into other people's projects at Ginny's Yarn Along.  If you love knitting and reading, you might like to take a peek too.
While on vacation, I did a shirt variation on the Jane dress pattern that I'm working on completing.  The whole set would be done...but I was on vacation.  It really needs to be blocked, so you'll have to picture it looking nicer and more straight in your mind.  I still haven't weaved in ends or finished the sleeves.  Still, I've started the cream longies that will go with this set using the Sheepy Pants pattern.  Instead of the eyelet empire waist, I did my version of a Norwegian flower traditional fair isle design.  I'm making it in size 2T.   I'm hoping to list in in my store sometime, however if it never sells, you may see Solveig walking around in it in a year and a half.

Part of my birthday present from Knut was this book which I've been wanting: Orthodoxy by Chesterton.  I've heard so much about Chesterton from people who I really look up to, that I'm so thrilled to finally be reading one of his works.  So I brushed aside my Birkie book, and have tried to spend a few minutes each night reading from this classic and I think I love it.  Seriously, so far it's one of the best books I've read in a long time. I can't wait to finish it and get another one of his books, or collection of essays.  The title sounds dull and boring, but he's so entertaining of a personality that it really is fun.  Trust me.

Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more about the book next week.  I'm just grazing the surface so far.

Back to Reality

So I haven't had much lacking in blogging material lately.  When in Phoenix, I turned 30, Solveig turned 3 months.  (I got a massage and pedi on my birthday.  It was heavenly.)  We picked grapefruit, visited all of my grandparents, and played in a Bunco tournament.  We watched movies, played on playgrounds, and replaced the radiator on our van...again.  We were glued to the news about Japan, my mom's birthplace, and have been checking on our family who still lives there.  I started teaching Silje cross stitch, and started a knitted Jane set with some fair isle accents for my store.  I also got to see my grandpa for the first time since his stroke, which was bittersweet, and got to talk face to face with my grandma which has become such a treasured time for me.  It was also the first visit where I met my twin nieces, Mary and Elizabeth.

How's that for blog fodder?  Life has been so full in fact, that I took a small vacation from blogging...despite my overflow of material.  I'm sure much of that will come up again in the future that I'll have to write about.  My 500th post is very quickly approaching, and my giveaway for it just isn't ready for it.  It's coming together, but just won't be ready in time.  Maybe it will be something like a 517th post giveaway, or something like that.  Who's really counting?

So we're back home, and it finally cooled off to normal temps in Phoenix...the weather I was originally expecting.  We're already unpacked from the trip, which is good.  I bribed the 2 older kids with a sticker to help me unpack all of the suitcases, and it worked!  School resumed yesterday, and I was surprised how much we were able to get done.

Elias and Solveig both have terribly stuffy noses, which is making nursing (for Solveig, of course) very difficult and the nights a bit longer.  I was hoping to get her to sleep in her own bed more when we got home, but with her cold, letting her sleep with us is the only way I get any sleep.  I'll wean her from our bed once her cold is done.  I know some people always co-sleep, but my rest isn't quite as deep when she's sleeping with us.  I like my sleep.  However, light sleep with her in bed is better than no sleep at all, so you gotta do what you gotta do.

I have a few things to blog about, but I also have a custom diaper order that needs to be completed by the end of the month.  I also have these amazing pocket diapers that I'm currently having embroidered with Norwegian rosemaling to bring to the women's retreat at Inspiration Point where I've been invited to share in an expo there.  I can't wait to show you pictures of those.  So the business will continue, and I'll try to keep up writing while still meeting my deadlines.

Until then, here are some pictures to breeze past how much fun Arizona was this time:
 All the cousins
 Grandpa L.
David and Grandma L.
 David at the playground
 Grandma V. and Solveig
The farmer and farmer's daughter helping to harvest some grapefruit and oranges at Grandma V.'s. 
 Tony, Mary, Lizzy, and Grammy

As always, the trip wasn't long enough, and we can't wait for my parent's visit to the farm this summer.  There was so much more we wanted to do that didn't get done.  However, when you're on vacation, sometimes it's nice to just sit and be lazy.  It's good to sit and talk with loved ones, and I prefer that to loads of sightseeing with all the kids in tow.  We had such a wonderful time.  I don't think I would do anything differently.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sun

  
You may not believe me, but this is only a snippet of pictures taken in the last few days.  Phoenix is enjoying unseasonably warm weather.  A generous sister who loaned us some little boy clothes and a $7 trip to Goodwill solved our lack-of-shorts-and-t-shirts problem.  I did pack a few warm pieces, in case it would get warm.  It's not normal for it to be in the 80s and 90s in March, even for Phoenix.  I was caught a bit off guard.  The kids are soaking in the sun...and lots of sunscreen.
They love it, but the sun is so overstimulating and overwhelming for me, that I've only been able to handle it in small doses.
 
 Solveig chatting up a storm whenever someone locks eyes with her.
 We spent a morning over at my sister's house and played with cousin Jack and some good quality time with Lizzy and Mary, as this is our first time meeting them.
 I have about 1,856 awesome pictures of them, but I'll send them onto my sister and just give you this little taste of their cuteness.  (Lizzy is on the left, Mary on the right.  It's amazing that it just took me a few minutes to tell them apart in person, and has been nearly impossible for me to do so in pictures.) 


Grammy taught Silje and David how to play Battleship, and it's a huge hit.  It's really fun to hear them play together.  It usually goes something like this
Silje: Give me a clue David!
David: It's not J1, J2, J7, J8, J9, or J10.  

They give each other clues like this, which makes the games pretty short.


We visited the church I used to go to when I lived here.  I usually get to see Candy, the woman who basically taught me how to sew.  I found her husband, and told him how I found the sweatshirt that we made together, and that I had kept it all these years.  He then sadly told me that Candy had passed away this last October.  She had health problems for many years, but it still stung deeper than I realized to hear that news.


After church, we visited Desert Ridge, which is an outdoor mall where the kids can play in the fountains under the shade of the palm trees.
 We packed the swimsuits, but we had one unhappy camper.  I've never seen him do this face before and it just cracked me up!  He didn't want to wear his swimsuit, and wanted to take a "bath" in the fountain, so he refused to go in at all.
 Somedays, being 2 is tough.

The other kids had fun running around in the play area designed just for that.  It's a non-slip, soft surface that they ran around, with fountains that would shoot up and cool them off from the hot day.  I'm not sure how hot it was, but the thermometer read 80 degrees in the shade.
We had lunch there of fish tacos from Rubios.  It's fried fish with cabbage (both things I normally don't like, but I love these!) with a white sauce, and you squeeze at least 1 lime over the top.  My brother got me hooked on these when I visited him once in California. 
You can be sure that the kids are sleeping well here!