Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm Blessed

What an amazing week it's been.  I've been feeling so blessed.

The rain has driven Knut home more than we had expected.  Of course, I want him to be able to plant, and I don't like delays either.  However, it's sure nice to have him home to help out too.  I won't complain.

My Serina Cardigan was self published on the Ravelry.com site.  It took off faster than any of my other patterns have.  I had goals for how well I wanted it to do in the first month.  Triple that number, and you have what I got in the first day of it's release.  I was completely blown away by it's popularity, and mentally I was not prepared for it.

You see, I've been reading a bit of garment shaping techniques by an amazing knitwear designer who goes by Ysolda.  She's amazing.  Everything she does is amazing, and everything she makes is amazing.  When studying the techniques of a designer way more qualified than me, I was starting to feel like I was a fraud.  She's a real designer.  I have no idea what I'm doing next to her.

I was praying about it, and God laid on my heart that he gives me the skills to do what I need to do, when I need to do them.  So I can't design as well as her.  I bet she couldn't make a grocery trip run with 4 kids in tow.  (That's in my mind my crowning achievement of each week.)  I'm getting better, and I'm learning as much as I can about the craft I love.  Just because I haven't arrived doesn't mean I won't.

It was after that when the Serina Cardigan was released and all the lovely chaos of my inbox filling up and people buying the pattern happened.  As silly as it sounds, I feel like God gave me that success...just because.  Just because He loves me.  Just because He felt I needed a big success.  Just because He's a daddy that loves to give good things to His children.

I feel like I need to add a disclaimer to every design, or every blog post, or anything else I do that may interest people.  Saying something like: "I'm just a mom.  My house is messy, and I lose my temper.  If you look hard enough (or casually browse) you'll probably find mistakes.  I'm just a mom surrounded by little kids all day and loving on them as much as I can, so these other worldly successes may have to take a back burner, and I can't be as successful and polished as those who have the ability to devote their life to their job."

This last week, God reminded me that my primary label is "Daughter of the King."  I worry that the more I attempt to accomplish things, the more mistakes I've made will be found.  God continually encourages me on saying that whatever He asks me to do, whether changing diapers or knitting up a hat, is for the purpose of people seeing Him when they look hard enough or casually browse my work.

I feel so humbled at the idea that God would take an interest in me, and in the things that fill my day.  Can there be any greater blessing?

If you want to share how God has blessed you this last week, please join in!  Either leave a comment below, sharing with the class and/or write your own blog post, put a link to this blog in your post, then copy and paste the address to your blog post below.  It's really quite simple.

Thank you to everyone who reads this too.  You readers are such a blessing to me as well.  I'm blessed to share my life with you.



Friday, April 27, 2012

Serina Cardigan


I know I've been calling this cardigan both "Ginger" and "Serina."  Serina was the original name, but the color yarn I was using was called "Ginger" and I thought that was cute too.  However, when I was publishing it, I did one last check to see how many other "Ginger Cardigans" there were.  There were about 5 other cardigan patterns by that name, and none by the name of "Serina."  So I switched back last minute.  Hope that wasn't too confusing.  ;)

This project finally got done!  This is my first cardigan pattern and has so many "firsts" for me!  Earlier this week I got it back from the tech editor who gave me a few more things to polish it up (as always), and this week I was working on finishing all of the pattern details.  Last night I published it on Ravelry, and it's available to anyone who wants it here, too.  Just click here:


$6.00



A quick rundown of details:
This cardigan is worked using sock weight yarn from the top down, all in one piece with no seaming.  It has a very, very simple lace detailing in the back panel that is quite simple and repetitive to work.  The ribbed front edges and neck are picked up and knit after the body is complete.

I used Madelinetosh Tosh Sock yarn in the colorway 'ginger' and it was a delight to work with!  I will be using Madelinetosh yarns again, that's for sure!  I may have to pick another project using this yarn soon, because this one is getting worn so much it'd probably be prudent to have a rotation going.

Teacher Notes

School this week has been mostly of the outside kind.  I try to make sure that before we head out either on errands or into the garden each day, that Silje and David have at least completed Bible, language arts (their readers at least) and math.  We do our read alouds before bed, but this week that's all we've been able to manage.

David has been loving Follow My Leader.  Loving may be an understatement.  Silje loves me reading it again as she claims it was her favorite book from last year.  We've been trudging through his readers lately, and I'm very concerned I'm giving him too difficult of books.  Then we got over a huge hump when he told me yesterday when he was deep in thought, "Mommy, I'm starting to like books without pictures in them, more than books with pictures.  The books with more words than pictures have more adventure in them, and I like adventure."

It was a good moment.  I'm learning that just because he doesn't speed through a book doesn't mean he's not enjoying it.  He pauses a lot to ponder.  He gets stuck on an idea and likes to explore it in his head before moving on.  I call them 'hiccups' in his reading.  I had no idea he was loving every minute of it.

The kids made a bunch of popsicle stick boxes the other day.  I showed them how to start the base, and now there's about 7 of them on my dining room table, and I'm not sure what we're going to do with them all.  I got a box of 1000 popsicle sticks last summer at the craft store and we barely dented it.

I may have mentioned before, but we've been getting in boxes of curriculum most days.  I ordered some of mine used on ebay, and some new and used on amazon, and still more from Sonlight.  I saved some money doing that this year, and it's been a steady stream of boxes coming to our house.  The bookshelves in the den that Knut is building for our expanding book collection is not done yet, and has little chance of getting done during this planting season.  So for now, the safest place to be is with the popsicle stick boxes on the dining room table.  Anywhere else and Solveig and Elias start exploring them.

As you can tell from yesterday's post, there has been a lot of outside playing going on over here.  I'm not stressing about it much that our school day has been short lately.  Mostly because David has been working on his 1st grade work for next year, and Silje is working on her 3rd grade work for next year, and I plan on doing these "small days" through the summer, so unless I am intending them to skip a grade just for the fun of it, I either need to slow down, or let the kids enjoy these nice weather days when I can.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Good or Bad

This week I'm really working hard to get the garden all planted.  This includes transplanting the strawberries from their overgrown patch to long rows protected with landscaping cloth and "mulch" from the chicken coop litter.  It also includes planting all the rest of the vegis... and neither of those 2 jobs are done yet.  However, the week isn't done yet either, so we're good.

Knut finally tilled the whole garden for me.  He tills deep, and afterwards it's a big pit of soft, dark soil.  I had to keep working on the strawberries, and of course the kids wanted to come with.  So they took off the shoes and ran across the soil that they sank into many inches with each step.  They built dirt castles.  They ran leaping races.  The above picture you'll see what I saw for a few hours as I dug up the strawberry plants.  (That row is spinach that just started coming up this year.  I guess I accidentally let some go to seed last year.  O well, head start with spinach.)  Knut moved it into a row as he was tilling.

Silje and David had a blast burying their feet, leaping across end to end, and making dirt angels.  I kept thinking, "Does it make me a good mother, or a bad mother that I'm letting them get this dirty?"
Elias played by himself mostly, which is pretty typical for him.  He doesn't like people messing with his stuff.  He mostly made dirt castles.
Solveig was a riot to watch.  She mostly preferred laying on her belly, and just playing with the dirt in front of her.  Lifting it up, letting it drop.  Repeat.
I'm pretty sure she was playing with some worms, too.

The kids all got a much needed bath that night, after way too much dirt was trampled across my house.  I found out later that I wasn't supposed to let them play in the freshly tilled garden as I worked on the strawberries because the footprints will make my seed planting go at different depths, and that's bad.  So I guess it doesn't necessarily make me a bad mom, just a bad gardener.  Well, I can handle that

I'm surprised that each year I find out more things that I should and shouldn't do that seem to be common knowledge to most farmers wives.  I remember my first garden I didn't know you were supposed to plant along a plumb line to make sure your rows were perfectly straight.  Knut was horrified when our peas came up in a long wiggly line.  I told him if he complains, next year I'm just spinning around in a circle with random seeds in my hand and we'll see what grows where.  That'll get people talkin'.

And that's how this farmer's wife rolls...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yarn Along

So I'm still working on my Tsu Sweater.  I need to finish the bottom, and then I need to do the sleeves.  The lace repeat is so programed in my brain now that this is my "mindless" work that gets done when I just need to get my hands busy.  (There's definitely other knitting going on during more focused times!) It needs to be blocked, but it's not time yet.  So I thought I'd put in on my dummy friend here to give a rough idea.  I'm really liking how it's turning out.

I'll wear it, at least.  One of my favorite shirts I wore when I used to work at a jewelry store was this lacy blouse with a matching tank top underneath it.  I felt so sharp and put together for a girl whose normal wardrobe consisted of a plain shirt and a cardigan.  I'd normally forget to wear jewelry too, so a lacy little sweater like this will be my "wow factor" in my wardrobe next winter or so.  We'll see.

I feel as though I have nothing interesting or profound to report for reading.  It hasn't changed much, accept we have a lot more books in our house now that the school curriculum for next year is sitting on my dining room table.  One can waste plenty of times just reading the backs of all of them.

When ordering some of the curriculum books, this year I got a few off of ebay.  One of the sellers was also selling a lot of "Jan Brett" books, and Silje and David love Jan Brett books, so I got the lot of 5 books for $12 or so, and we've been looking at those a lot.  They're not in our curriculum for next year, so fair game to read now.  I'm thinking I'm going to set one or 2 of them aside for Christmas next year. 

I've read about 3 small chapters of The Hundred Dresses, which is a book I've found on dozens of chidlren's reading lists, and is even on the Sonlight's curriculum, but for kindergarten read aloud, and we've never ordered a full kindergarten program like that.  I added it to our curriculum package for next year because from what I've read it's not one to miss.  I've just so barely started, though, so I don't have much feedback yet.  So far I think it would be a really enjoyable reader for either Silje or David next year, but I'll most likely read it aloud to Silje, David, and probably Elias.  He sits through books really well.


For Today

Today we need to run to town.  We need groceries in a bad way.

Today we'll spend a lot of time finishing the transfer of the strawberry plants from their patch to the rows.  This could take me all day and I hate I have to take the time to go buy groceries.  We were thinking they'd go into 2 rows.  After the first row done a few weeks back, we're thinking now at least 3 rows, possibly 4.  They really spread last year.  That 1 row we transplanted barely made a dent in the patch.

Today I got "The Ginger Cardigan" pattern back from my tech editor.  She had less fixes than I expected (although one big one I didn't see coming.  An easy fix, though).  Anyway, I had set aside a week to go over her notes, and I'm thinking I can get that done tonight easily.  Then another night working on schematics, etc.  My magazine pattern is coming along ahead of schedule, so I feel go about pausing to finish the final touches of my self-published cardigan.  This one has been in the works for so long I'm giddy about it!

O, I'm supposed to do the yarn store newsletter today.  Shoot, I forgot.  (A few months back the local yarn store asked me to do their monthly newsletter.)  Well, the cardigan editing may be tomorrow then.

Today I need to find a spot for all the books coming in our house at an alarming rate.  The school books for next year are almost all here, and the bookshelves they go with are not done yet.  So until they are, I need to find a spot in my house where they are out of the way and out of toddler reach.  Almost every book so far is about Native Americans or the founding fathers.  It's going to be a fun year.

Today I have no laundry to  fold in my house.  I did 7 loads yesterday, folded and put away.  I feels so happy whenever I walk past the "laundry couch" that we can actually sit on now.

Today every one of my kids woke up happy.  That rarely happens as Elias especially takes a long time to wake up.  They all slept in too.  Today is going to be a good day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I'm Blessed

This week I think I'll do a simple list.

I'm Blessed:

-to be able to homeschool.  Both legally, and financially.  I'm thankful for the freedom to do so, the parents who have gone before me to give me those rights, and my husband's hard work that paid for next year's curriculum that I just ordered.  I know all that is available to me is not available to everyone, but I'm thankful that God has provided for me everything I need to accomplish what He has set out for me to do.

-Knut is employed and gets to do what he does.  We've been in that spot before where he hated where he worked.  We've been in that spot before where his income didn't quite cover all the bills.  I see friends around me where unemployment is the big struggle in their family right now.  It's not that uncommon.  I'm so blessed Knut has a good job.

-With good days with the kids.  Some days are harder than others, but I'm so thankful for the good days.  The days that are full of creativity and hugs.  Those moments when they get along (there aren't usually days of getting along...just moments.)  I love when they tell each other jokes.

-To see my kids grow spiritually, academically, and physically.  It's an amazing thing to witness.

If you want to participate in this week's I'm-Blessed-a-thon ;)  Either leave a comment saying how God has blessed you, and/or leave a link to your blog post about how God has blessed you.  To do that, simply:
-write a blog post saying how God has blessed you.
-put a link to this blog in that post (if it's easy for you, you can use my button that's located on the right hand side of this blog.
-Copy and paste the address of your specific blog post, and put it in the little linky contraption below.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Teacher Notes

The big news lately is Silje learned how to ride a bike.  With her younger brother mastering this art 2 years ago, it has been bothering her for a long time now that she couldn't do it.  Well, she finally got it, and so she's outside anytime she can ride.  That's a big switch for her.  Her confidence has skyrocketed, especially in physical areas.  For instance, in swimming lessons I see her push herself more.  No longer does she see herself as the smart one, and David the athletic one.  She now sees herself as athletic too, and that makes me very happy.  She wants to get better on the bike, and I see her getting stronger.  All in all, it is a very good thing. 

The big thing for me was going to another Mom's Night Out with my homeschool mom group.  It seems way longer than a month since we last got together, and it was getting to the point where I was counting down the days.  This time of year I feel like I needed that jolt of energy from the homeschool conference, and yet I decided not to go this year.  It would have been too difficult to manage, so I'll have to attend from afar.  The group we're a part of buys all the MP3s of the speakers from the big weekend every year, so that we can all "attend."

I finished the long process of buying curriculum for next year, which seems to be the April activity.  I'm pleased with our choices for next year, although for the most part it is just continuing on the path we are on.  There were very minor changes I made.  We're stepping away from Shurley English next year, and into Sonlight Language Arts.  That's pretty much all I'm changing.  Don't get me wrong, we love Shurley English, but I'm realizing it's the same every year.  Same way of learning, same games, same activities, same worksheets.  I'm all for repetition, but I don't think the kids or I really look forward to doing "the same" quite to that extent.

So we're going to try out Sonlight Language Arts to mix it up a bit.  I've already started looking through it, and I think it looks fun.

I was encouraged and convicted last night at Mom's Night Out on how my attitude sets the tone for my kids'.  Do I rejoice in work or complain?  Do I take joy in my kids and praise them, or is everything they do wrong?  It's tough, isn't it, when what bothers us most about our kids are things that they learn from us.

Already this morning, I have snapped at my kids to just eat their breakfast.  I tire of them saying the same thing 5 times in a row before I have a chance to respond once.  Already I have been impatient.  However, this morning I do not feel defeat.  God likes second chances...and third...and fourth...seventy times seventy.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Something Out There

Something out there is taking my chickens.  2 nights ago we lost a few more.  We were down to 12, but one black one (our last black one) returned from the woods yesterday.  They also took Gimpy, our lame chicken, which isn't a big surprise.  Frankly, I'm surprised she lasted this long.

We're down to 13, and so I'm thinking about what we should do at this point.  I didn't leave the coop open all night this last time.  I just didn't close it right at sundown.  Sundown used to be around supper time, which was easy to do.  Now sundown is as I'm reading to Silje and David at night.  It's tricky to remember at bedtime because there is so much going on.  It's never been a big problem to just close it before I go to bed. 

What happened was I finished reading, I was sipping some tea to relax as I was figuring out what to do next.  Lena's ears perked and she ran to the door barking.  We all know Lena never barks unless there is something very wrong going on.  She and I ran outside and sure enough, I saw by the light of the yard light, feathers scattered everywhere, about 15 feet in front of the coop.  It wasn't just loose feathers.  It was clumps, and clumps of feathers.  My heart sank.  I hoped it was only one chicken.  I quickly checked the chicken coop, although it was too dark to do a head count at that time, I wanted to make sure nothing was in there.  Then I shut them in for the night.  I couldn't have been more than an hour late.  This predator was getting more bold.

When Knut let the chickens out the next morning, he counted only 12, and gave me the report of who was missing.  The kids were really upset about Gimpy.  David especially since she was his personal favorite.  She was the easiest to catch, so she was carried around the yard by them most often.  I was most upset about my "Rubies."  (My nickname for the black ones.)

So I'm thinking of short term and long term changes.  Long term is that we're supposed to be ordering our meat birds (once Knut settles on the breed.  We can't seem to settle on the traditional broilers that everyone gets because we're worried about them forging for food properly.  Birds bred for the purpose of being so huge they can't walk when they're full grown may not be helpful for pasture.)  The meat birds will be in a movable tractor.  Making a secondary tractor for the layers is definitely on the table.

We knew we'd lose birds this summer.  We were actually planning on it.  Many of our friends go through 15 birds a year easy.  When we got 20, we planned on 5 not surviving as chicks, but all 20 did.  When they first went free range, we were planning on losing up to 5.  We lost 3.  However, now we're down to 12, and that's not a terrible place for our family size, but I'd like to stay ahead of the curve, rather than behind.  I'm thinking that when we order our meat birds, I'll add about 10 more layers to the order because it's tough to order less than 20 birds, but since the meat bird order is large, it won't be hard to add on.  (Birds survive the shipping better when they can be kept warm by other birds.  When you order few, your survival rate is lower.)

The 10 new ones won't lay for several months, but they will be good replacements to have in rotation.  Knut wants to get a rooster instead.  I'm fighting that idea at this point.  Having to candle eggs to look for chicks would be added to my daily routine.  Plus roosters and kids are known to not be friends, and I particularly picked breeds that were not broody for the kids, and I'm not convinced our sweet girls will make the best mothers.  They're not protective of their eggs in the least.

Of course, if we were to get a rooster, the hens would raise the chicks, not us.  That's one less thing to do as well.  However, chicks are fun, aren't they?  At least I think so.  If I already have to take care of broiler chicks, I can take care of laying chicks too.

Until we decide on the movable tractor for layers, which we are mutually both for and against simultaneously, I'm thinking a quick fix might be putting Lena in the yard after supper, and not bringing her in until I've shut the chickens in.  She'll be outside to guard during that sketchy dusk time that has proven dangerous for our coop.  She has barked and made a scene from the inside every time one of our chickens was taken, or anytime something has gnawed on the door of the coop.  She just hasn't got outside fast enough these last 2 times.  (The first time when we lost 1, the second time we lost 3.)

She's going to hate being outside for those few hours, but I think that will be my quick fix.  She's going to have to come to terms that she is a farm dog, and has a job to do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yarn Along

This week I went to the yarn shop in a celebratory way after finding out one of my pattern submissions was accepted in one of my favorite knitting magazines.  I splurged and got Little Red in the City which is a knitting book by Ysolda Teague, who is probably the most popular knitting designers of our generation with the heart of a teacher.  I didn't get the book for the patterns (even though there are about 4 in there I'd cast on for today if I had the time).  I got it because of her extensive notes she has in there on shape and fit and ease.  I'm learning so much just from paging through it.

As far as knitting, I started work on the super secret (not so much) knitting pattern for said favorite knitting magazine.  I got the yarn in the mail this week.  The color was not what I had submitted, but they said it suited their palette for the photo shoot better.  I don't mind one bit because the project that I was going to do after I got this pattern done was that exact color which is some great eye candy.

The secret project is still in the math, double check swatching, casting on and painstakingly taking notes as I go stage.  So when I need a bit of a mind break, or want to knit and chat, I'm continuing on my other project shown above (in Quince and Co. "lichen"), which is a pullover for myself.  I had to rip back a bit on this last week, but I think I have it right this time.  It's a really fun lace to do and doesn't require much brain energy.  The notes are already set for this top, and will probably be published in a few months.  We'll see if it's any good.  So far I like it, though!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm Blessed

This weekend, I was very thankful for rain.  It kept my husband out of the field, and me out of the vegetable garden.  I mean, it's good to be in the field/garden, but it bought me a little time.

Knut said they needed rain, and when the ground gets what it needs to, you usually get a happy farmer.

On Friday afternoon, Knut came was home (unplanned) and asked if there was anything I wanted to get done that he could help me with.  I asked if I could go to the library alone to finish up the editing/grading of the Ginger Cardigan.  So he stayed home with the 4 kids, and I had 3 blissful quiet hours in town by myself.  I of course went to the yarn store for a few minutes since they like to be in the loop of my upcoming pattern releases, but then I went to the library.

I don't think I've held onto one thought and worked on one project that long interrupted since I was in college.  I got all the math and editing done, but it was all done with my paper and pencil.  Now all that's left is transferring all my work to the computer, and would appreciate some prayers that none of my kids would destroy the hard copy I finished before I get it onto the hard drive.  That's a pretty high priority for today.

I got a current cyst checked out at the clinic.  It turns out my gut was wrong and it's not a "funny" cyst like I had before that required removal.  That was a big relief!  It was just a normal, run of the mill, "simple cyst" that I get all the time and should rupture on it's own.  It does make me hurt.  What's worse is it does make me moody, for some odd reason.

Poor Knut has had to deal with me snapping at him for the smallest things.  After almost 10 years of marriage (and dealing with ovarian cysts) I noticed last night that he's learned to diffuse me like the bomb squad.  I bit his head off last night for making a small comment about how I haven't been making much bread this last week, and he's sick of the store bought stuff.  I think it was more a vent about rising food costs in our house. It was a stupid comment, but not worthy of the explosion that came from me.  I went off about how busy we have been, and I have to be home to make bread.  Poor guy had to hear me rant for nearly 30 minutes before I realized what I was doing.  (If you see Knut, you may want to give him a hug.) 

He diffused the situation.  He said he was sorry (that's something we had to work on early in our marriage.  When we were first married, we had the issue where he thought it was enough to be sorry, and therefore it was unnecessary to say he was sorry.)  Then he hugs me, and tells me I'm beautiful, which I'm pretty certain I was not at that time.  He seems to always know when it's me talking, and when it's the cyst talking.

I'm blessed to have Knut.  I was blessed to get the satisfaction of finishing some big projects and having some  much needed alone time.  And as always, I'm blessed to be forgiven.

If you want to join in and say how God has blessed you, you can leave a comment to share with the class, and/or leave a link to your own blog post about how you've been blessed.  There's no shame in praising God.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Teacher Notes

There's been a lot going on this week.  Let's just start with that.  I worry so much on weeks like this that we're getting into a pattern of always being busy, and it's not going to be just this week.

David has really been enjoying our read aloud Follow My Leader.  It was one of Silje's favorites last year.  I pulled it all out of order for his core, but I wanted to see if he would get drawn in or not.  It was sort of a test to see if he was ready for the advanced reading core I picked for Silje last year.  Normally when I read to him, he stops me every once in awhile to ask me a question that has absolutely nothing to do with the reading.  Last night he stopped me and asked me more about Jimmy, and blindness.  His mind has been on the main character throughout the day too.

The main character was a boy very much like David.  He was active and athletic.  He was smart and loved to play ball.  Then an accident with firecrackers happened and he was left blind.  Yesterday I blindfolded both Silje and David, and they tried to walk around the house the way Jimmy was being taught by his instructor.

I love that this book makes people with disabilities on my kids' brain in a very real way.  David is amazed at all the ways that "Jimmy" is learning to develop his other senses, and all the things he's able to do when he's blind.  He's in love with the idea of a secret code of "braille."  He's learning the differences between using a white cane and using a guide dog and what that means for the quality of Jimmy's life.  He's told Knut several times that they need to be really, really careful around firecrackers.

On another David note, I had to take away the computer from him and I'm not sure how either of us are going to survive that.  I caught him twice lying to me about going to play chess, and then playing computer games instead that are reserved just for weekends.  I know that as a good mom, I need to teach him not to lie, but the frazzled mommy in me misses him getting sucked in there during quiet time every day.

So while I did dishes during quiet time the other day, David set up the chess bored on the kitchen table, and said, "Mommy, do you know all the basic forms of check mate?"

"Um, nope, I don't think I do."
"While you're working over there, I'm going to set up just the basic check mate scenarios, so you can think about them."
"Okay, David."

I'll honestly say I normally have no idea what he's talking about in chess.  I know it doesn't take much to get beyond my understanding of chess, but he's most definitely passed me in knowledge in this subject.

Silje is missing choir, even though it's been done only one week.  I need to find some more situations for her to be with other friends, because she seems annoyed with her brother most of the day these days.  Next week we have both homeschool group, and possibly a field trip scheduled, so I don't have to stuff anything more then, but I'm looking ahead to this summer.

All of us are a bit stir crazy at home.  I think we all have the end of the year blues.  I need to think up a project for Silje to pour herself into right now.  She's going through the motions in school lately, and it's been awhile since I've seen her light up about something she learned.  Not every day, and every week needs to be exciting.  I realize that.  It's just getting to that time of year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Headlines in Our House

Heart Attack


Yesterday was such a day of emotions!  I woke up finding out that my Grandpa was in the hospital.  I know I've written about him numerous times, trying to attempt to explain why he meant so much to me.  He had a heart attack.  I remember when he had a heart attack when I was in 6th grade, but lately his "thing" has been strokes in the last few years.  My mom said that there was still blockage in his heart, but the doctor didn't think he was strong enough for any more surgery just now.  I spent the morning wondering what that meant, and wished I was down there to ask all my questions to his doctor.

The plan is for him to be sent home today, and he'll be monitored and return to get the blockage cleared up bit by bit over the next weeks/months depending on his recovery rate.  He's 88.  I know some people say that you get to a point where you're ready to let some people go.  I can't imagine ever getting to that point.

I'm seeing my doctor today as well.  Ovary issues again that I'm so sick in dealing with.  I'm hoping for some good news.  I'm not in the mood for surgery again right now.  I'll probably tell you guys if I'm going to need surgery, otherwise expect all is well.

Gretchen's Big Break

 (This picture was amazingly not staged!  She's like her mommy and loves to spend lots of time looking in knitting stitch reference books.  It's adorable.)

I DID get a huge pick-me-up yesterday.  Sorry for the repeat announcement for all my Facebook friends.  It was right after I found out that my grandpa was going to be coming home soon, and they were going to do surgery after all, but in a more gradual-work sense.

I'm getting one of my knitting designs published in my ultimate dream magazine.  As in, the magazine I was aiming to get published in when I had "reached the top."  It was the publication I was going to work up to.  Knut has been encouraging me to put in some submissions just to get some practice in submitting.  You know, not wait until I was more established.  When I used to do some freelance writing after college, I learned that you learn something with each rejection.  So I figured it didn't hurt much to start trying.

I can't submit patterns I have already published.  This includes self publishing.  They have to be new, never before seen patterns.  So you guys haven't even seen the yarn that will be used. I sent them 2 ideas, and it was my first time sending them any submissions.

I just got word back yesterday that they like one of my ideas, and they would like to publish it in their next Winter issue.  I was emailing back and forth with the senior editor yesterday.  I mean, seriously, I feel like I'm in a dream!

I even made it into the Winter issue!  In the knitting world, in my mind, that's huge!  Winter issues are always my favorite!  Now, they're sending me the yarn for the sample, along with a contract and I'm pretty sure I shouldn't show you guys the progress.  That would pretty much nullify the "newness" that they want to be publishing.

I suppose it is possible that I finish writing the pattern, send them the sample and they absolutely hate it and decide not to use it.  It's possible.  So I'm keeping the rest secret.  I just wanted to share how excited I am to have gotten that email.  I sent in the submission a few months ago so it's been a bit of a long wait!

Planting on the Farm

Knut said yesterday that today planting begins.  It's always a bit of a jolt to get back into an intense work time on the farm.  We actually see him way more in planting than in harvest.  He's just not as flexible in covering for me at home when I need to go somewhere, and his schedule is no longer predictable.

I need to finish transplanting the strawberry plants.  It got so cold after we started, that we delayed a few days and now the job is all mine.  The ones we moved already are thriving very well, though, and that is a huge relief to me!  Most of the plants we put in the ground before this small cold spell are doing quite well.

Bucket List Cross Off


I was reminded when writing about how Silje and I have been going through my old magazines that I was always wanting to make all the cakes in a certain cake issue.  So without further ado, I went out and got some lemons, and plan on making the lemon cake as soon as these babies ripen.  I miss lemons from my grandma's yard.  These under ripe ones way North of where they grow are not quite the same.  When they soften in a few days, I'll have to try the recipe out.  In the mean time, they do look pretty in my kitchen!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yarn Along

I nearly forgot to post this week.  Besides publishing the instructions for the Tsu Wrap last weekend, it's been a pretty uneventful week, knitting-wise that is.

Shown here is my Quince & Co. yarn knitting project.  The yarn is not quite as grayish as the picture seems to convey.  Last week's post shows it off better.  I'm making a pullover sweater for me.  I've been a selfish knitter lately.  I have one project of mine hanging over my head for a sweet nephew, but the stitch has been giving my arms cramps, and I can't work on it for very long periods of time.  It's a stitch I have to do when I'm relaxed, not a stitch I do to relax.

Anyway, what you see in front of you is the start to the pullover, but that's not where I started.  In fact, this is about the 4th version of the start of the pullover.  I'm pleased to report, that I think it's right now.  I'm trying to convince myself that designing a pattern myself allows me more knitting over and over with the same yarn.  It's being frugal.  ;)

My reading this week has not been deep.  I'm in a Spring cleaning craze, and I pulled out all my old Martha Stewart Living magazines from deep in the back of the upstairs closet that I'm going through.

I found one issue that was missing.  December 2002.  Best.  Issue. Ever.  I've done about every craft in that issue.  I've made nearly every recipe.  Some things in this issue are part of our household's Christmas traditions.  It was published the year Knut and I got married, so that may be why.  It was our first Christmas together.

It was lost last Christmas, and I couldn't find the chocolate truffle recipe for it (at least the right one) on their website.  I'm not sure if I was more excited to find it or Knut.  (The mocha truffles are his favorite at Christmas!  I'm more of a sugar cookie girl.)

Of my 4 years worth of this magazine, I think I've narrowed it down to 3 issues to keep.  I love their gardening themed issues, but I've found that several of the ideas in there don't apply to my planting zone.  It's directed heavily to the coasts.  I'm letting Silje go through them and see if she wants to keep any.  She's in heaven.  She wants to keep them all and I told her she gets 5.  That made her very sad.

I don't have a subscription there anymore.  The magazine has changed so much since it first came out.  It used to be thick and full of simple pleasures of life.  It was like a guide to homemaking for a generation who knew nothing about the profession.  Now it's thin, glossy, and full of advertisements.  I suppose every market tries to increase their profits.  I can't say I blame them.  I just don't get the magazine anymore.

(For those wondering, the other 2 magazines I'm keeping are February 2002, and January 2006)    February 2002 because there are so many amazing, breathtaking, make-you-gasp-in-delight chocolate recipes.  That one won't be leaving my house.  None of their "chocolate issues" since have even touched this issue.  The 2006 one is thin and glossy, but it's a huge cake issue where they have a different cake theme for each month of the year and I always promised myself I'd make each one because each one looks amazing.  So far I've only made 1 of them.  Getting rid of that copy is like crossing off one item on my bucket list that has not been accomplished and I'm just not okay with that idea at this time.  Because that one cake I made was so good...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Like a Weed

The weather has turned cold again, but that does not mean the Spring cleaning hasn't hit hard.  Did I write before how I bought clothes for David for next winter?  I normally buy clothes in January when they're 50% off at Target, for the following winter.  I bought them a size bigger than what he was wearing comfortably.  Then in mid-February I had to pull them all out and let him start using them.  He hit a growth spurt.

As I was trying to figure out what to put in his "big box" for next year, it recently happened again.  That's right, all the clothes for next winter, that he's wearing this winter, are now about 2 inches too short in every direction.  He now has about 2 pairs of pants and 2 shirts that fit him right, and the rest look funny.  I joked to someone at church that it's a good thing we homeschool.  No one here cares if his pants are above his ankles.

David now stands shoulder height on me.  You have no idea how strange that is.   He and Silje are neck and neck, although I think he may be passing her, at least for a few more years.  They look more like twins than ever.  I think people assume they are, even though they're really 15 months apart. 

So we're going to make a trip to the city to the children's consignment shop soon.  I think we'll pick up some summer sandals for the kids there too.  First, I should see what the other kids need.  I'm realizing that about 90% of the clothes in Elias' dresser don't fit him anymore.  So I need to put those in storage and bring out the next size from the closet for him.  Silje went through her own clothes this year, and has already made a pile to leave her closet.  I love that she's old enough to do some of those jobs!

Also, Knut's cousin's wife in Connecticut, who is just my size just sent me (through relatives who just visited them) a bag of really cute clothes that she was getting rid of.  It made me realize that about 50% of the clothes in my closet I never touch, and should go through and weed some out.  I need to make some room for the "new" ones.

Then there's the issue that Solveig doesn't have a dresser, and up until now, all of her clothes have been on one open shelf in the closet.  Her clothes are getting so big, that I think she needs a dresser now.  However, there's no room in the girls' room for any more furniture.  I'm thinking about getting rid of Silje's queen size bed (which doubled as our guest bed) and replacing it with 2 twins.  I'm leaning towards bunk beds like the boys have.  Then I'd have plenty of space to put another dresser in there.

Add to that the fact that I'm just about done ripping wallpaper down in the upstairs bathroom, and getting ready to paint in there.  I want to paint the linen closet in there too, which is so dark and narrow.  It's my running theory that if I can make the closet look like a magazine cover, I might be inclined to keep it organized.  It's currently my dirtiest closet because many of the boxes in there I haven't opened since we moved in about 4 years ago.  So all around the upstairs hallway are boxes I'm going through. 

Once again, I've taken on too many projects at once.  Some Most of them creep up whether or not I want to do them.  I think my knitting time has suffered for it.  O well.  It will be there when I'm done.

It's a good thing the weather turned cold.  I'm not ready for that garden yet.  I'm getting excited now, and will be starting some seeds inside, but still not physically ready.  ;)

Monday, April 9, 2012

I'm Blessed

Sigh.  I have no wise words for this morning.  It's mornings like this that I need to write a post like this, but I've said that before.

Knut and I woke up yelling at the boys.  They woke up too early and were naughty from the start and woke up everyone else in the house...too early.  Then we told them to go downstairs, where they continued to pretty much forget every rule we have ever taught them.  The dishes didn't get done last night, so I was trying to wash some spoons so the kids could have cereal, and Knut was trying to get the coffee going so the haze would lift.  There was a lot of screaming while all this was going on.  I hate starting the day like this.

Yesterday went pretty good.  Church was wonderful.  We got to reflect on the resurrection.  We enjoyed family and food so much.

Then Knut got a dull fever to compound the back ache he's had for the last week, and we decided to go home.  After the kids were in bed, we watched a little Netflix on the computer, and flopped into bed.  Solveig was up for an hour between 3 and 4.  The boys woke everyone up not long after that.

Knut is in that "not totally sick, not totally well" state.  I'm not 100% either.  Our computer is letting me type this painfully slow.

Silje woke up a bit weepy.  She gets that way when she hasn't had enough sleep.  We let her stay out late with Grandma and Grandpa yesterday when we had to leave the Easter get-together early because of Knut's dull fever.  She got to stay because she was having so much fun.  Then her brothers woke her up early and her patience is short too.  So she's weepy.

This is why I sometimes dread holidays.  The crash after holidays are so hard.

I wonder sometimes why it is we can go so quickly from the awe and amazement of a resurrection Sunday, to yelling at our kids and just being angry.  I'm sure God wonders the same thing.  I think of the Israelites.  I think of the parables.  We're not the first ones to struggle with this.  It's like whenever we get it, we are about to fall again.

This morning I feel blessed that God forgives me.  He forgives my short patience.  His grace is sufficient.  It's days like today when God forgives, and I look at Him confused and ask "but why?  Why would you forgive me, when I'm so quick to forget?"  God knows I'm just going to mess up again, and He forgives me anyway.

That is amazing.  That is why the resurrection was so necessary. This morning I'm blessed with forgiveness.  I'm blessed with breakfast and coffee.  I'm so blessed with mercy.  I want so badly to show my kids what God has shown me.

And I'm blessed by Solveig.  She's the only one in the house who woke up in a good mood this morning.  She's just walking around smiling at each of us.  She has hugs and kisses to anyone who will take them.  I hate to think how much more grumpy this morning would be without her smiles.

If you'd like to say how you're blessed, and share the joy with anyone who will hear it, either leave a comment, and/or write your own blog post to join the "party."  Simply:
1)Write a blog post about how God has blessed you.
2)Link back to this blog in your post.
3)Leave the link to your blog post in the box below.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tsu Wrap/Cowl/Capelet...thingy


 This is a super easy pattern I'm putting out there.  I named it "Tsu" (like 'Sue') because it's uses a Japanese lace motif, and because one of my Japanese friends from high school "Tsubasa" had about the cutest clothes I've ever seen.  It made me want to go to Japan just to get clothes that were cute and fit.

It's easily adjustable for any size, and can be worn a multiple of ways.  Now let's get down to business.

You'll need:
Worsted weight yarn.  I used Misti Alpaca in the hand painted color: leather.  For the size I made (let's call it petite) I used 327 yards (exactly 150 grams).  If you intend on adding some repeats to the lace section as I'll lay out for you in a minute, you'll want to have a bit more yarn on hand.

Size US 7 (4.5mm) circular needle (at least a 24 inch cord or longer).  (check your gauge.  I'm a loose knitter, and use size 7s where most patterns require an 8).

Gauge (unblocked): 18 stictches = 4inches

Crochet hook: Size I (5.5mm)  Don't freak out you knitters.  It's just some basic single crochet.  You won't be don't anything fancy.  I suppose if you wanted to modify to do an I-cord edging instead of a crochet edging, but I really think this is easier and faster.

Buttons:  If you want your wrap/cowl/capelet thingy to be exactly like mine because you think I'm that cool, then I'll tell you I used 6 wooden buttons that were 1 inch in diameter.  However, you could easily use bigger or smaller buttons.  Also, if you intend to make it longer, you'll need more buttons.  You could even just do 2 buttons at the top...but I digress.

Needle and thread to sew on the buttons.

How to vary the size:
The size given is for petite people like me.  After blocking (with a bit of stretching) it's roughly 36 inches wide. If you want to add another wavy repeat (2.75 inches) just cast on an extra 11 stitches, and work the pattern as written.  If you want it to be even wider, you can add another 11, or 22, or 33 (you get the point) stitches.  I would also recommend that if you do cast on extra stitches, you might consider making it longer too.  You'll just want to add another repeat or so of the lace pattern before you get to the ribbed edge.

(Option) How to make it seamless:
If you'd like just a circular cowl, and want to omit the buttons and make it just one big tube, you'll want to take 1 stitch away from your cast on number, and join in the round from the beginning.  The first 2 rows you'll do in garter stitch in the round (knit one row, purl the next) instead of garter stitch flat (knit every row).  Then you'll want to decrease 2 stitches (not one right after the other...say one on each side of your tube) as you move into the 3x3 rib.  During the lace section, you'll skip the first stitch in each row, and every odd row will look like this: *K10, p1; repeat from *

Abbreviations to remember:

(WS) -wrong side
(RS) - right side
K-knit
P-purl
YO- yarn over
SSK-slip 2 stitches, than knit them together through the back
K2tog- knit 2 stitches together.

Begin:

Cast on  144 stitches.  (See note above on sizing)
Knit 3 rows.
Begin lace pattern:
Row 1 (WS) and all other odd rows: K1, *p10, k1; repeat from *
Rows 2 and 4: P1, *k10, p1; repeat from *
Rows 6, 10, and 14: P1, *k1, (yo, k1) 3 times, (ssk) 3 times, p1; repeat from *
Rows 8 and 12: P1, *k1 (k1, yo) 3 times, (ssk) 3 times, p1; repeat from *
Rows 16 and 18: repeat rows 2 and 4
Rows 20, 24, and 28: P1, *(k2tog) 3 times, (k1, yo) 3 times, k1, p1; repeat from *
Rows 22 and 26: P1, *(k2tog) 3 times, (yo, k1) 3 times, k1, p1; repeat from *

Repeat rows 1-28 3 times.  (add more repeats for longer length)

Next row (WS): *K3, p3; repeat from *
Work in 3x3 rib for 14 rows.  Cast off in rib.

Crochet edge:
The purpose of this side edge is to add some button holes.  If you line up the opening, you'll see I put my crochet edge on the left side, but there's no reason behind that other than that was the side my yarn was still attached to, and I didn't want to cut and weave in any more ends than I had to.

Using the loop left in casting off, take the crochet hook and single crochet in the next 2 stitches.  Then do 3 plain chains, and skip 3 loops on the work that you'd normally crochet into. 

Single crochet in the next 15 loops.  *Chain 3, skipping 3 loops, single crochet 8.  Repeat from *

The main idea behind this crocheting is to put a little button hole on the low and high points of the wave.  My numbers aren't magic here, nor are they the law.  You may be able to just wing this, and skip counting all together.  Be sure if you're using a different size button to make sure that the "chain 3" sections are big enough, or small enough for the buttons you want to use.  You can do as small as "chain 1" for small buttons, or "chain 10" for ginormous buttons.  Then send me a picture of that button, because I'd like to see it.  ;)

Now sew on buttons on the opposite side of the button holes.  I did not put a button on the very bottom, because I thought it was unnecessary. 

And now for all the fun little disclaimers and answers to questions that may be asked.  You may totally sell any items made from this pattern, as long as you made it, and not a sweat shop of little children.  Of course, if you actually have a sweat shop of little children, you probably have no problem stealing patterns either and I'm probably wasting my breath.

Also, if you're a yarn shop and wish to distribute this pattern you have my permission to do so.  A couple of requests, though:
1) Give a source to where you got it on the physical copy.  Even handwriting in my blog address will work.
2) Don't sell it.  Give it away.  I'm giving it away for free, so it would sort of be ripping people off, and I'm not fond of that.
3) Let me know that you're distributing it, or using it for a class.  I'm not going to get mad if you don't but you will TOTALLY make my day if you do.  I've gotten several emails asking permission from yarn shops to use my Clara cowl, and I walked on clouds each time I received such a request.  So spread the joy.

Teacher Notes

I had some really neat pictures for today's post set aside.  My camera's card got full mid-week, so I downloaded it to the computer, and now I can't find them.  I'm sure they're there, as I've only devoted about 20 minutes to finding what file I put them in.  That's about all the time I have to give to looking for them at the moment, though.

I declared it "Easter break" in our house (You can say 'Easter' instead of 'Spring' when you're not federally funded, so I will.) and this declaration took place about midway through Monday when I realized that coming back from a weekend to a house that wasn't dirtier than I left, but certainly wasn't cleaner required my attention.

I needed to make bread, I needed to make some granola...2 things that keep me energized throughout the day that we were out of.  The kids needed clean clothes.  Then on Tuesday morning, Elias started throwing up, which made my heart fall.  Not just because I don't like seeing my kids sick, but Silje and David had their choir concert that night.  As soon as he threw up I knew that someone would have to stay home with him, and that someone would most likely be me.

Knut offered to stay home, but I told him it was only fair he went.  I got to hear them practice every week.  He should at least hear them once.  Solveig had an incident later that day where I found vomit on her chest, but she seemed to think nothing of it.  When a baby is 1 year old, it's tough to tell the difference between spit up and throw up sometimes.  We kept her home too just in case.  She didn't seem to mind.

I was so sad not to go.  I tried not to show Knut how sad I was about it, or he would have made me go, and I really thought he should.  I wanted to see their teacher one more time and thank her so much for the time she poured into my kids.  I wanted to give a standing ovation after all the work they did.  Then I tried to stop thinking about it.

Around Wednesday, everyone had recovered, and the kids were getting antsy at home. So I called off Easter break and we got back to work.  Then Silje threw up a bit last night, or I should say the wee hours of the morning this morning.  She's completely herself now, but I'm thinking we'll be pretty laid back about school today.

The major study notes this week is Silje passed from her 2nd grade math workbook to her 3rd grade one.  Also, we started our first study of African history.  Silje loved to share at the dinner table that when men used to cross the Sahara, and they ran out of water, they would kill their camels and suck water from the intestines.  I nearly got sick.

It's probably late now, but sorry for the vomit/intestine grossness in this post.  Next one will be about something pleasant like strawberry plants, I promise.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Outside

After I wrote my post about not being ready, I started mapping out the garden for this year.  Then I bought some flower seeds.  I couldn't help myself, then I bought some new perennials as well.

Last night Knut helped me get my new purchases, as well as the lingonberries from my brother into the ground.  We researched a lot where the lingonberries should go.  We decided to put it where some tulips and hostas were alongside the summer kitchen.  The hostas were thriving there, but the tulips...not so much.  The hostas were moved to a shady spot next to the dog house, and the tulips were moved to a sunny spot of our yard that borders the county road.

It felt good to get in the ground.  Honestly, it felt so good.  We had cleaned out the wood chips on the bottom of the chicken coop, so for certain plants (the berries especially) got some "special" mulch from our gold source there.  We'll see how that works. 
 Everyone in the family has been spending more time outside lately.

Silje and David have been spending time exploring the woods by themselves.  We've given them some strict rules, but we really wanted them to explore some beauty back there before all the bugs hatch.  Silje especially has been loving the back woods.  She tells me about every tree.
 They both loved finding their dad's old fort from when he was a boy.  We told them not to touch it.  Seriously, the thing is not safe right now.  I hope sometime that can be another project added to Knut's list.  I know it is.

I've found this daily dose of fresh air has been so good for us.  Whenever anyone wants a break, the walk is right there waiting for us.  Knut would say it never left this winter.  I would say it's not so simple in the winter.  The number of layers required for a winter walk, and the number of people needing those numbers of layers overwhelms any mom, I think.  It's nice to just hop outside, do some work, and come right back without all the fuss.  I'm not a big fan of fuss.

I think Spring fever has finally hit.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Yarn Along

It's been a bit crazy since I got back from the quilting retreat, but that's to be expected, I guess.  I missed my cleaning day on Saturday.  Knut had a lot of fun stuff planned with the kids, and I like that.  I just didn't get most of my cleaning done and I'm feeling behind.  Plus I haven't even made the halfway point of unpacking.  Then in one tangent I emptied out one of the upstairs closet in hopes of getting rid of stuff we never use.  So there's unwanted stuff scattered everywhere up there.  You know how it goes.

I've heard lots and lots about this Quince & Co. yarn, so I ordered some to try it out on a sweater pattern in my head.  So far the furthest I've gotten was winding one of them up.  They are some nice eye candy, though.  If I could I'd decorate my whole house in yarn, I would.  Knut would probably say I already do with projects everywhere.

I know I have 2 patterns that have a completed sample, and I just need to finish the writing.  Well, the "Ginger Cardigan" is almost done except the pattern grading, and tech editing.  I didn't get it off to the editor before my retreat as planned.  I didn't work on it at the retreat either because I was feeling rebellious.  I felt like doing whatever I wanted to do at the moment.  I figured it wasn't a retreat if I was just working there.

My tech editor is going on Spring break, so the earliest the Ginger Cardigan pattern will be released is the end of this month.  So in the mean time, I've finished up this little, easy pattern as shown above.  I just need to pick up some buttons at the yarn shop this week, sew them on, take some pictures, and this will be a free pattern I'll put on here most likely within the week.  Just for fun.

The whole project was just for fun...much like the Clara Cowl was.  I just finished up a huge marathon project of an adult sweater in fingering weight yarn.  I needed something quick and easy and fun.  I came up with this.  Since it's a very uncomplicated pattern, and took me very little time to write, I'll put it up for free.  I'm calling it the "Tsu Wrap" and it's sort of a capelet/shawl/poncho/cowl thingy, depending how you wear it.

I haven't been reading anything besides homeschool catalogs that are flooding in.  It must be April.  I'm spending most of my time looking at Sonlight, and Classical Conversations.  I haven't seen my Timberdoodle catalog yet.  I always love that one too.  Next year's plans are slowly coming together.  I'm forming my wish lists, but I haven't added the cost of my wish lists up yet.  So we'll see.

Thanks to Ginny for hosting the yarn along.  Her blog is one of my favorites.  By far.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not Ready

I'll admit, I'm ready for tulips.  I'm ready for green grass, though I'm not ready for Knut spending every moment of free time either fixing the mower, or mowing.  I'm ready for vegetables that have a flavor so amazing you couldn't buy it if you wanted to.

I'm not ready, though.  As much as I love this warm weather, and the beautiful color outside, I'm scared to death about starting the garden this year.

Then I realized, like labor, these babies are coming whether I'm ready or not! 

See these strawberry plants peeking up through the leaves that covered them for the winter?  They're coming in thick.  The patch was overgrown last year, so I need to replant them in rows this year with some landscaping cloth.  Soon too.  As in, probably yesterday.
I've been checking the asparagus daily for weeks.  Today I saw the first one.  Well, two actually.  There's a small little one to the left of this big one.  I think they'll be ready to pick by the end of the week at the latest.  My kids fight over fresh, steamed asparagus.  The last two years, as the harvest grows, so do my demanding children.  I'm hoping this much we'll have enough so that there will be no dinner fights.

I need to cut back last years asparagus "trash" to make room for these new sprouts.  Add that to the list.

Knut's work is gearing up big time.  Flexibility has ended, and that's okay.  They're not in the fields yet, but with grass this green, you get some anxious farmers.

The idea that the bookshelves will be done this winter is now laughable.  Maybe this summer...or next winter.

Dear garden,
You know I value you, and feel I'm lucky to have you.  However, I was counting on a longer break than what was given this year.  You're starting a bit early.  You're like a child I love, but woke up at 4:30 am, ready for the day.  I'm not awake yet.  I'd rather sleep in.  I need some coffee, and you need to tone down your voice, I mean weeds.

So please, slow down with the weed thing already.  I haven't even planted yet.  I'd be great if you'd just stay sterile for a few more weeks.  My garden map isn't done.  My seeds have not been decided on for the year.  Do you think I actually have time for you yet?  I have baby lingonberry plants in my cool garage right now, and they need to get in the ground.  Like, yesterday.  One plant at a time, please. 

Your incompetent gardener,
Gretchen

Random Bits

Elias is sick today.  He woke up throwing up, and this time I don't think it's because he was spinning around too fast.  Every 20 minutes like clockwork.  This will prove to be a bit of a logistical dilema as Silje and David have their choir practice followed by their choir concert tonight.  I have a strict 24 hour-sick-kid-stays-home rule.  By that, I mean, 24 hours once he feels better...which is not now.

The older kids have homeschool group this afternoon too, which I feel better about skipping when someone is sick.  A big end of the year concert tugs at my heart a bit, though.  I think this time I'll ask Grandma to bring them to practice, and I'll send Knut into the concert.  I'm sure he'll offer to stay home, but this time I think I will.  I've at least heard them practice.  I'm so bummed over it.

I was going to tell the story about one of our chickens dying.  It was one of the black ones, which are my favorite.  I call them "the Rubies" because their combs are a striking red.

I left the coop open overnight accidentally.  I do this a lot, so I guess I thought nothing of it when I realized what I had done, and foolishly went to bed anyway because I didn't want to go outside in my pajamas.

The next day when we were in the yard, I saw a large pile of black feathers.  Some friends of ours were over for a campfire where we roasted some hot dogs, and they have chickens as well (our friends, not the hot dogs.)  Anyway, she pointed out to me that it was just the pretty tail feathers and whenever she had a chicken killed by a predator, there were wing feathers, and a few body parts.  This was merely a pile of fluff.  She supposed that something was chasing it, and it probably fled into the woods.  It was probable it would come back, sans tail feathers.

That night I was very sure to close them in just at dusk.  I counted them, and one of the four black Rubies were still missing.  It was dusk, though, so I shut  the door.

In the morning, before church, we sent David out to let the chickens loose for the day, and to collect eggs.  As he set the egg basket on the table, I asked if he had counted the black ones for me.  (I wanted to be sure because it was a bit dark when I counted the night before.)  He said that there were 4 black ones, but one was dead.

"What?" I asked.  "What do you mean one is dead.  In the coop?"
"Nope.  Under the slide.  It wasn't there last night, but there's a dead chicken under the slide now.  The other 3 black ones came out of the coop. Can I go play chess?"

Yup.  He's a farm kid.

Now, I'm certain I didn't see a dead chicken under the slide when we were out the night before.  Knut buried the chicken, which was mostly in tact, he said.  Something did not eat it all.  I don't know what predator got it, but it was my stupid fault that I didn't shut them in at night.  I can't tell you how much I've been kicking myself over it.  Why did I have to remember after I had climbed into bed, and why did I not get up and shut them in after I had remembered?

So we're down to 16 chickens.  The pro to having them free range is that they cannot easily be cornered.  If a predator does come, they rarely get more than one.  In enclosed structures, I've heard of a coyote wiping out a whole flock.  Still, they should be shut in at night.  Our coop is night and tight and safe.  Well, when the door is closed, that is.

Egg count is now rotating between 14 egg, and 16 egg days.  We're seriously overrun with them.  It's thrilling.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I'm Blessed

Last night I got back from a quilting retreat at one of my favorite places in the world.  I used to work at this camp, and I have yet to go on that land and not encounter God in some way.  I was spoiled rotten by the staff with amazing meals.  I got to spend time with friends.  I got to stay up as late as I wanted quilting, and got to sleep in as late as I wanted in the mornings.

I feel so refreshed.  I told Knut last night that this is the clearest I've felt my brain get in months.  I get to hit the ground running this morning, and I'm actually excited to get things on a roll.  I sorted and worked with about 6 years worth of sewing project scraps that need some serious organization.

I didn't get any quilt done, but I completed about 40-8 1/2 inch quilt blocks, about a dozen cloth napkins, and a new hot pad for my kitchen.  I had some really neat conversations.  I came home with t-shirts for Silje and David for them to wear to their first day of camp this summer.  (They go to the same camp as well.)

So obviously, this week I feel blessed to have a husband who saw no problem with me taking off for the weekend...you know...since I haven't done it in a couple years.  I'm blessed that everyone was fine when I got back.  (It was rough when I left, so I was glad to see everyone okay when I got back!)

O, and I'm blessed with 4 new babies:
My brother sent me 4 baby lingonberry bushes as a birthday gift.  I told him not to send them in March for my birthday, but to wait until the weather was warmer.  He said the nursery they came from had a computer that monitored my zip code, and when the computer said it was warm enough to plant, they were delivered via climate controlled train car over the Rockies to Chicago, and from there delivered overnight to us.

Fancy, smancy plants, I say.  They're gorgeous.  We should have lingonberry jam in roughly 2 years...when we figure out where in our yard these babies belong.

If you want to participate this week in sharing how God has blessed your life this last week, please share!  Whether it's material blessings, or a friend helping out just when needed, or just a message given in prayer.  God gives us blessings in so many forms and in so many ways, and I find there are some great stories surrounding them too.  So either leave a comment saying how God has blessed you, or leave a link to your blog post about how you have been blessed.  Be sure to leave a link in your post that people can follow back to this blog and see the big blessings list.