Friday, December 30, 2011

Schooling on Vacation

We get asked a lot if we take normal breaks at Christmas time.  The longer we've been educating our kids, the more difficult I find that question.  The question seems to assume that school for us is always sitting and reading books, or doing worksheets with me at some writing board and all.  Visions of school desks found at garage sales run through my mind as my students "work hard" at their learning.

Our school just isn't like that.  We do some sitting work at the dining room table, but not every day.  Most days, but not every day.  We read everyday whether or not we are on vacation.  I would imagine that many families are like that.  We read school books on vacation.  Does that mean we're "doing school?"  

There was an afternoon a few days ago when Silje and David were just silly and (frankly annoying) as they were overwhelmed with new fun things down here every single day.  They needed a little forced "down time" so we brought out the math workbooks and had them each do a math sheet.  It was a bit of "normal" for them in the overstimulating environment of vacation and it did the trick.  They were much more themselves after that.

Our chosen curricula is sometimes multiple grade levels ahead of their peers so if we're "behind" of the set schedule it doesn't bother me.  Sometimes we're ahead, sometimes we're behind of the prescribed schedule.  It's been really hard for me to realize that if we're learning every day, then we're doing what we're supposed to be doing.  

So if you ask me if we're learning everyday while on vacation, I'd say YES!  So on our learning adventure this week the big highlight was our "school" field trip to the Grand Canyon.  Our principal (Knut) declared the field trip and so our little class along with 2 added chaperones (Grammy and Papa) headed out.  It was our family's first time there.  Knut and I had last visited it when we were Silje and David's age.  (Although we didn't visit it together.  We had no idea who each other were at that time.)
It was fun to hear the variety of languages there, and see license plates from as far away as Alaska.  I think anyone who has ever been there would agree that there are no pictures that can capture this sight.  We just saw a little tip of it on the South rim, but it was still a sight to behold.

The weather was ideal (60 degrees or so) and Silje and David did so well.  David was a little nervous that he would fall in, so he was pretty cautious the whole time.  Silje was adventurous and really wanted to hike down to the bottom.  Unfortunately we didn't have time for that.  

The tough part of the day was that Elias did not enjoy a single second.  His grating whine was in full force and he was just having a tough time handling himself the whole way. 

There's a reason Knut and I sort of wish that our kids would skip over the age of 3 and go straight to 4.  I know that sounds bad, but all of our kids thus far have had a tough time with that age, and grow out of it by 4.  We finally got to a little shop and found a place for him to just sit and decompress. 

So Knut took the older 2 and saw a bit more of the canyon as my mom and I took the little ones to more indoor places. 

I ended up getting a school book for next year.  Next year we'll begin studying early American history, and I found a book put out by the council for Indian Education talking about the nation's move to their designated reservation and adapting to their new environment and new way of life.  It's called Navajo Long Walk and is from the perspective of a little boy.  I'm hoping it will be a good supplement for next year.

On a side note, I find it so interesting that down here, Indians call themselves Indians.  You see it all over signs for their shops and different places.  In the midwest where we live, saying "Indian" is wrong and you're supposed to say "Native American."  I have yet to see any term of that sort down here and wonder if the tolerance and need for political correctness varies from Indian/Native American nation to nation.  Sorry...just some random observations.

On another side note, on our trip down here to Arizona we stopped at a little Indian shop because one of the kids thought they were going to throw up from car sickness and we all needed to stretch our legs.  We stopped and Silje found a map poster in the shop of Indian nations and their original location all across the United States.  It's a fascinating map, so for $4 we got that also to supplement our school year coming up.

Now back to our field trip.
Knut got a trail guide book there to study for the next few years as he plans a big trip to the bottom.  No one in my family seems interested in going with him, but Silje really wants to.  It would be a big overnight adventure, so maybe when they're a tad older, and the trip is mapped out.  Half the fun is anticipation anyway, right?

Here's our dreamy principal.  There was no way he could get me to pose over the cliff like that.  I stayed nice and firm on the paved sidewalk thank-you-very-much.

Resource:  Often there are online promo codes available for educational supplies or travel, to save on home schooling experiences.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Picture Round Up

Vacation pictures seem to pile up pretty quick.

 We're keeping busy, that's for sure.
 My sister's twin girls have gotten so big since last year.  There were very few pictures that I actually caught them in together as they seem to always be running in opposite directions.
 On Christmas Eve day it's become a new tradition to go Frisbee golfing.  I caught an action shot of Knut, playing and still wearing Solveig on his back. 
 Silje is looking more and more grown up as I see her with her younger cousins. 
 Let's not forget my nephew, who is a pretty cool 4 year old!

 We're realizing Solveig really knows how to work a crowd and get everyone doing her bidding with very little effort.  We'll have to keep an eye on that.  (Psst...isn't my sister gorgeous?)
 The cousin picture didn't work out so well this year, but I'm still looking through all the shots and trying to figure out a way to make it work.  They're a squirrely bunch. 

 The boys are having fun with their new toys.  I did finish Silje's homemade present finally, and she loved it so so much.  I'll have to post pictures of her gift soon since it was handmade.
 On Christmas day we were gathered with extended family at my aunt's.  One of my cousins who is now in college was there.  He's half Japanese and half American and now lives in the states going to school, but his parents are now back in Tokyo.  He was handing out treats from Japan (just like I remember getting from my uncle as a child). 
 Elias was having the hardest time understanding that some of the candy had edible wrappers made of rice paper (which is basically taste-less) and the wrappers just wouldn't come off.  No matter how my cousin Josh tried to explain that you just eat it with the wrapper on, Elias felt he knew better and spent a good deal of time trying to get the wrapper off, without success.
 Josh got such a kick out of this, and Elias got such a kick watching Josh pop candy in his mouth with the wrapper on over and over in an attempt to show him that it was in fact, okay.
 In the end, Josh won him over.
I've never experienced the technology we had going on in that house Christmas Day.  My uncle in Tennessee Skyped in, and then so did my cousin in China, aunt and uncle in Japan, as well as a phone call from another uncle in China.  We had all these iPads and laptops open in the middle of the coffee table as we sang Christmas carols.  It felt so oddly science-fiction to have us all together like that.

We've also squeezed in some cousin bowling, girls night out for coffee, and a mini-road trip (within our road trip).  I've been trying to take pictures, and still be disciplined to leave the camera at home and just live a bit.  I'm at that part of vacation that I'm in overload of things to blog about and no time at all to share it all.  What normally ends up happening is I go home, pass out from exhaustion from the relaxation that being a mother on vacation always brings, and just move on.  I end up skipping all those lovely little details without record.  And you know what?  That's okay. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yarn Along

It's Wednesday, so that means I'm writing about knitting and reading along with Ginny.  I'm on vacation this week and I ironically that does not mean a lot of knitting.  I am happy to report that I'm finally able to knit without my arms hurting and I could not be more happy about that.  I think my rest paid off.

I'm working on my first ever felted project.  It's some slippers for me using the hopsalot pattern.  I actually have some ideas for slipper patterns, but before I burn out from pattern writing, I was craving some no-brainer pattern for vacation that I could easily knit without any paper in front of me. 

As for reading, I've being flipping through the high style magazines that my sister brought over to my mom's place.  I'm really not in the fashion loop ever, but my sister is.  She always looks gorgeous so I feel when I'm around her that I should step it up somehow so I don't look like the frumpy-farmer's-wife sister straight off the pasture.  Ironically, I go past the make up tips and shoes and go straight to any ads or write ups on sweaters.  I study the pictures and see what's in, and deconstruct each sweater in my head to figure out how it is made, or how I would "improve" it.  I'm hopeless, really.

So that's the Yarn Along from my mother's kitchen.  My parents just informed me it's time for me to go to bed. ;)  Just when you think you're a grown up, married with 4 kids...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Blessings

This Christmas, I was showered with blessings.  As an adult, it seems that there aren't many presents for me under the tree anymore, but several sitting around it.
This Christmas, I feel especially blessed to see my grandma and grandpa.  In their late 80s, they are still an amazing treasure to me.
Grandpa still read the Christmas story.  He's had an up and down year health wise.  It's all stable now.  Some days it feels like we're losing him in bits and pieces instead of all at once.  It saddens me to see how much he ages from year to year.  He was much better than I had prepared myself for, though.
My grandma can't see much anymore, but she's still a treasure as well.  It's so funny to me that I wasn't close to her much when I was a child, but as an adult we've formed this amazing connection.  Grandpa was always the darling of the kids, and we all knew that anyone who hung out with Grandma ended up doing chores.  As an adult, I treasure the skills she has given me, and her deep desire to bless others.  It's so hard that our visits are limited to once a year because a year brings so many changes at their age.  I'm so blessed to have them, though.  They are my Christmas present.

If you'd like to share your blessings too, it is always fun to share.  Leave a comment with your Christmas blessings, or a link to your blog post following the I'm Blessed guidelines.  It's a fun little party.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cross Country Eggs

We just arrived in Arizona from our cross country road trip to visit my family for Christmas.  We couldn't leave our 3 full cartons of eggs behind, so they came with us, and Knut and my Papa enjoyed some country egg omelets this morning.

The kids did fabulous during the trip.  In fact, I don't remember them ever doing so well.  We modified our trip heavily this year.  We took a different route down to avoid some snowstorms.  We drove at different times and for longer amounts for a variety of factors, and lastly, we left later in the morning than we normally do.  Normally we get the kids up super early to get a really early start (as in 6am or so).  This year we let everyone wake up when they normally do, had a great breakfast and started off.  It was amazing the difference in the kids.  They were just so good the whole way.

We saw more snow in crossing New Mexico than we have seen at home all winter.  Driving through Flagstaff, AZ was a bit painful for Knut as the conditions were perfect for some skiing, and we were just 2 hours from our destination.  It was a beautiful trip.

We got here a day earlier than planned because we just kept driving instead of normally stopping half way for the night.  We could have stopped, but things were just going so well and we were all feeling so good so we decided to just keep going.  We've never done that before and I must say it did feel a bit wild and crazy to just keep going.  That's pretty much living on the edge when you have 4 kids.

Silje and Elias are our "carsick kids" so Silje knows now that she can't read in the car.  It was so funny that as soon as we got here she ran with the urgency normally associated with having to go to the bathroom into the grandkid bedroom to the bookshelf, grabbed a book and read for about 2 hours.  We had some books on tape in the car, but she was so reading deprived for those 2 days of travel that she needed that bit of sanity when we got here.  It made me smile.

Today we'll visit with some family, perhaps go to the park, and I think we may stop by a bookstore for some last minute stocking stuffers for the kids.  Knut always picks a book for each of the kids for Christmas, and writes a lengthy "yearly" letter to them in the front.  I hope that will be something they'll look forward to each year.

The sun is beating down on my back right now, and I think it may be time for a walk to the park as soon as Solveig wakes up from her morning nap.  Grammy and the older kids are reading a book on the couch, and Knut and Papa are discussing fishing boats over coffee.  I think it will be a good day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Teething

I mentioned a few months back that I was going to try the "amber teething necklaces" and tell you what I thought...honestly.  They seem to be all the rage these days.  Just a review amber is fossilized tree sap.  They're not magic fair teething stones invoking some mythical god.  The idea is to wear the necklaces to get the benefit.  The baby does not chomp on the necklace like a teething ring.  It's nothing like a teething ring.

The amber warms to body temperature, and is somewhat absorbed in the skin.  I've worn it a few times as a bracelet, and I'd have to say it's kinda comfortable.  It's kinda gives you a cozy feeling.

I got the necklace with the magnetic closure so it could easily be yanked off because I'm paranoid like that.  I also got one that was too long, and sort of regret that.  I would have liked a shorter one because this one flops outside her clothes often and it doesn't work unless it's resting right against the skin so the amber qualities can be absorbed.  She never wears it when she's sleeping, but I've found if she wears it for a few hours in the day, it makes the nights easier.

At first, I didn't notice any huge difference when Solveig wore it when she was teething.  Mostly that's because I would put it on her when she got a dull fever, and it really didn't help with fevers.  I talked with a friend of mine who said that amber can effect different babies different ways.  For instance, for her child the amber stopped the drooling associated with teething.

So then I kept some notes.  Honestly there it's really hard for me to notice ANYTHING without taking notes these days.  For our little girl, here's her response to the teething necklace:

-she has to wear it at least an hour before we see any difference.
-her drooling stops completely.
-she stops chewing her fingers.
-she's less crabby...significantly.
-rashes around her mouth disappear.
-fevers are not affected.  She still needs medicine for that.
-stuffy noses are not affected.

So even though it's not the miracle necklace that we had heard claim, we still use it because it has done some things.  I often forget to use it, but remember as soon as I see her drooling again.  From my notes, I have to assume it makes her feel better, although I would consider Tylenol stronger than this necklace.  However, I LOVE not using medications when I don't have to.  Plus, there are many scenarios where she is HAPPY and has no fever or any sign of pain and she's drooling like a river.  I'll stick the necklace on her, and within an hour, we can remove her bib and see her pretty little outfit.  I wouldn't normally give Tylenol for a situation like that anyway.

I'd say this necklace is a useful tool in a mother's bag of tricks.  It's not very strong or powerful, but sometimes that's exactly what is needed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snow

We got a trace of snow the other day.  Sure enough by the time I get around to looking at the pictures I took, the snow is already gone.  We have some very depressed skiers in our house.
The boys spent their few blissful moments in the snow breaking in their new snow shovels just their size.  The quickly cleared the deck and cement portion of the driveway which was a pleasant surprise for Knut.  These boys are getting to a very helpful age.
Lena was just happy that Silje was actually playing fetch with her outside.  Our dog is getting a bit flabby, as Silje isn't as outdoors-y as Knut may wish.  Some days I can't even bribe her to get outside.  Not even with a new toy! This day, however, she ran to play in the snow.  I pushed school back to the afternoon and let them play all morning outside.  It was good for everyone.  Lena (and the kids) got some great exercise.

Elias had tons of fun too, although he found the slide to be a bit too fast for his taste in this weather.  He's in desperate need of a new hat, although he doesn't mind this hand-me-down from Silje.  I got him one at Target since then, and have about 6 patterns on stand by to knit with scrap yarn.  Just one won't last the winter.  This guy loses mittens and hats just by looking at them.

The snow is gone now, but no matter.  I hear once we're in Phoenix, there's an outdoor mall that artificially sprays it in the air using a snow machine every Friday and Saturday night.  It will be my kids first experience with "fake snow" and I can't wait.  ;)

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Blessed

Sorry I'm a little late posting this Monday "party."  We're all still in a bit of recovery over here after last week's bout of sickness.  Where once I was ahead, now I'm a bit behind.

It's Christmas this week.  Can you believe that?  Whew!  It doesn't seem quite real.

As I'm overwhelmed with the number of things that need to happen before Christmas, I think it's good to for me to count my blessings.

It's hard this morning to do that without feeling so hypocritical.  I just sent punished David for tormenting Elias.  I've just scolded Silje for goofing off instead of doing her chores...again.  Just before Knut went to work he told me not to take the van anywhere because it emptied all of the radiator fluid onto our garage floor as we slept last night...again.  (This is the van that we just took to the mechanic to tune up before our 2 day road trip for Christmas and just got "it's good to go" for the long trip.)  Since I woke up this morning I feel like I am fixing or correcting someone and I cannot act all cheery and "everything is fabulous" at our house this morning.

Some days, when my mind is sadly searching a bit, I'm sooooooo blessed by grace.

That is all this morning.  I am so blessed for God's grace.  It covers all.  Everything.  It's free.  It's essential.  It's beautiful.

It's all we need.

Thank you, Lord, for your grace.  This morning, it is sufficient for me.

Don't forget to link up this blog to your own I'm blessed post if you're a blogger.  If not, leave a comment saying how you have been blessed, and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Breakfast with My Babe

Since being sick, I've been going to bed ridiculously early.  The day we were sick I was in bed before 9.  Last night I tucked myself in around 10 (which is early for me) but I don't think I fell asleep until after 11.  I hate that.  I could have been finishing the sewing for Silje's Christmas present.

This morning I feel good for the first time in a few days.  My ribs don't feel bruised this morning, and my body doesn't ache.  I got up with Solveig early and let Knut sleep in.  It's normally the other way around.

The kids have made us very aware of how close Christmas is.  It's a little overwhelming to think of all that needs to be done between now and then.  Mostly Silje's present, and Christmas cookies that have barely been started.  Then there's the catching up of laundry that happens after everyone is sick.  Everyone needs clean sheets, towels were used to cover every surface that day, as well as many sets of clothes were soiled.  Laundry after sickness is mountainous.  Let's not even discuss the bathroom situation.

Preparation for Christmas always seems to be a mother's job, doesn't it?  I don't despise it at all, I'm just thinking.  I think perhaps that's the way it should be.  After all, Christmas is preparation for a birth, isn't it?  In a way we're nesting.  We worry that some things are clean that no one else worries about.  We want everything to be just right.  It's like we share in Mary's nesting at Christmas.  Christmas nesting.

My grandpa tells the story of when he was growing up on the farm.  His mother would lock herself in their parlor every Christmas Eve day and they weren't allowed to peek.  Every Christmas Eve night there was the big reveal where his mother (my great-grandmother) would open the parlor doors and let all the kids see the twinkling candles, the tree, the presents, the decorations hanging everywhere.  In his reflection upon those days, it was purely magical.

It was his mother's job to decorate for Christmas.  It was her gift to the family.  My grandpa was the 7th of 8 children, and in their little farmhouse in North Dakota, he recalls looking through the cracks with his older brothers and sisters of the parlor doors at his mother's feet and trying to get a peek of the big reveal. 

We've lost a few of my great-aunts and uncles this year.  This is the first year that my grandpa and his little sister are the only ones remaining of his siblings.  Auntie Ingeborg who was the oldest girl passed away.  She was only a few months away from her 100th birthday and boy did she have some energy.  Last time Knut and I visited her we had trouble keeping her pace.  Uncle Si passed away too.  He was much shorter than me (if that can be imagined).  My first memory of Uncle Si was when he came to visit us in Colorado when I was a little girl and he offered me a Life Savers candy.  I said sure, and as I reached for one little circle he shrugged at me and said, "why don't you take all of them?  Keep the package so you can have one whenever you like."  You would have thought he offered me a million dollars for the treasure I got that day.  I still can't have a LifeSaver without thinking about Great-uncle Si.

I'm glad we get to go home and visit my family this year for Christmas.  I want my kids to know their extended family like I got to know mine.  My great aunts and uncles prayed for me every day...by name.  It's sometimes very lonely to think of that generation fading away.  I'm so blessed.

It's a snuggly, cozy morning here on the farm.  It won't be light for quite some time.  It's kind of fun to be up for the sunrise, which isn't too tough to do in the winter.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Whew!

I'm writing this today as we recuperate.  Yesterday was all kinds of awfulness.  After I posted the Yarn Along, I went to bed.  A few hours later I woke up and was terribly sick with the stomach flu that David had a few days ago.  Things sort of went spiraling downhill as Solveig woke up wanting to eat in the early hours and I was too sick to even hold her.  So Knut did his best to pacify her, but he kept bringing her to me saying that he wasn't feeling so great either. 

Not too much after that he was sick as well.  Elias woke up...I'm sorry, I can't write it down without make all of you throw up but let's just say he had been sick that night too, and was continuing to be sick.  Silje and David helped out a bit with Solveig, until Silje got really sick too. 

Worst day ever.

By evening, we were all able to split a piece of bread and sip on some water.  None of us wanted any more.  Knut and I prayed so hard that Solveig would sleep through the night, despite her not nursing during the day as much as she was used to.  We gave her lots of fluids in a cup, but we figured in her mind it wasn't the same.

She slept straight through until 6:30 this morning so we all got some good sleep.  Actually, Knut and I went to bed at the same time as the kids, so it was almost like getting 2 nights of sleep.

Today we rest.  We're all sore and a bit edgy.  To brighten up the day, I thought I'd post some pictures of Solveig's birthday party.  It sounded like something cheery to do while I rest.

Traditionally for the 1st birthday, we throw a big party with lots of relatives.  Making it a whole year with a baby seems like something to celebrate, even though she'll never know.  We've thrown a big party for all of our kids 1st birthdays (except Elias.  Shh!!!  His 1st birthday was in the middle of a crazy harvest where we were there wasn't much sleep so we skipped it.  Surprisingly, he still doesn't care.)

We invited the grandparents, great-grandparents, and the great-aunts and uncles who live in town. 
It was a warm day, (over 50 degrees at our house!) so we got to use the porch, where all the men seemed to claim.  This porch gets a lot of sun and heats up like an oven on days like this even though it's not insulated.
 The birthday girl and Grandpa.
 I wanted to do more with her cake, and make it more fun, but I've been feeling a bit burnt out lately.  So I went for the "get it done" cake.  It was yummy, so it all worked out.
 Solveig sure seemed to enjoy her piece!

We also served some homemade wassail on the stove which was a big hit.  My Grandma V. always makes that at Christmas time and just felt right for the party.  I just found a recipe online that called for apple cider, pineapple juice, orange juice, cinnamon and ground cloves, with a touch of brown sugar.  We heated it up on the stove and it was a yummy side to the cake.

Well that was fun.  Time for another nap.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yarn Along

It's already Wednesday and time to talk about knitting and reading.  It kinda crept up on me this week.  As always, many thanks to Ginny for hosting this fun blog party each week.

I'm working on my sock yarn cardigan in bits in pieces only for sanity sake.  I've probably only gotten an inch and a half done in the last week.  Mostly I've been doing a bit of sewing in the crafting realm.  I got some pillows recovered in the den (the fabric for that was only sitting in my stash for just a hair under a year!) and doll clothes for Silje's Christmas present.

My mind is on knitting, though.  I figure if I can't be knitting, I can at least think about it.  I'm still reading the essays in All Wound Up and I'm still laughing out loud.  Knut still asks me what is so funny when he hears me laughing and he still doesn't get knitting jokes. 

I'm also already thinking about another knitting project on the brain that I wanted to get done this winter.  I'm working on a cardigan design with some fair isle elements and so I'm browsing this book: 200 Fair Isle Motifs.  I already know the design in my head but I'm trying to wrap around how I'm going to do the arm shaping without compromising the colorwork design.  I figure if I get it sorted out in my brain before it's on the needles it will save me a lot of time in the long run.

Just as a reminder, the giveaway I'm doing for the sewing book and yards of fabric will be open until Friday evening.  Don't forget to enter!  (But please still leave a comment here!  It's such a highlight to "visit" with my knitting friends.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Knut's Masterpiece

I've been meaning to post pictures of this since it was finished last week.  I've been so full of blogging material that I just have to find a day to fit it in.

This has been a 3 year process.  You may remember, year 1 was the installation of the fireplace.  Knut cut a big whole in the wall of our house just before the snow was going to fly.  He and his dad built a chimney outside our house, and a wood box was installed next to it so wood could be available without dragging the mess through the house each day.  Truly, he has thought of everything.  (You can't see from the pictures, but he also installed an electrical outlet on top of the mantle so I could plug in Christmas lights without hanging cords, and even cut in a large "plate rail" on top for a decorating idea we had.  More on that in a few days...

So for a year, we used our fireplace and it has been the main source of heat for our house since then.  On the other side of the house we have a corn stove that is used often as well, and we have a tank in the back of the house that is used to keep the pipes from freezing when we're on vacation.

It was very industrial looking at first, and we spent many evenings debating over how to spruce it up the next year.  I had my own ideas of what I wanted it to look like, and I soon realized that this project consumed his thoughts more than mine and he was determined in his own ideas. 

The next year, Knut picked out stones from various piles around our fields.  Doing the stonework himself, these stones that were in our living room for many weeks were placed layer by layer up on the fireplace.  He would only do one layer a day so that the mortar could set before the weight of the next layer was installed.  It was a tediously slow process.

He was planning on doing the mantle that same year, but he hit a bump in that plan.  You see, he found these great posts in the barn that used to be the old porch posts to the house.  So he cut them down to size to fit the fireplace.  He measured and measured, started cutting the molding, and came up against a big problem.  The posts that he wanted to put molding around were warped from being so old.  They twisted ever so slightly.  The angles were all askew.

So for the next year or so, whenever Knut was in the living room, he would sit and stare at the mantle.  He read woodworking books to find different solutions to the problem and debated in his head what the best route would be.  Can we say: perfectionist?

Really, fixing up a house is a journey and we have no rush to it.  The number of things Knut learned in this project is inspiring.  It was a really, really fun 3 year journey and we are so happy with the results.

Since we don't have snow yet this year, he's spent all his free time post-harvest and post-wood-pile-stacking working on the mantle.  Finally one night, he had me help hold them up and fit the molding pieces tightly together.  He even let me use the fancy compressed air nail gun from the shop a few times.

The next day he painted it to match the posts.  Most of the woodwork in the house is stained, not painted.  However, since the posts were so aged (and originally painted white) we agreed that staining wouldn't be the best route for them and we wanted the molding to match the posts.

The molding for the wood box came from scraps his dad left in the summer kitchen (aka shed by the driveway) when his parents did a remodel when Knut was little.  They were also kind of beat up so they got a paint job as well.  The inspiration for the molding for the fireplace came from the molding found in the antique doors to the 3 season porch.

 So who is more excited that it's DONE!?!!  I'm not sure.  It's a pretty close tie over here.  It's amazing that ever since we got the fireplace, a room that was virtually unused by us in this house is now the most used.  The whole family is constantly in there.  Knut and I are trying really hard to get the kids to start calling it "the parlor" instead of "the living room."  So far, no luck.  That won't stop Knut and I from calling it that, though!