Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Yarn Along

I have a bunch of finished items for baby this week to show off!  I finally got some ends woven in, some blocking done and buttons sewn.  Many of these projects were started awhile ago, and I just spent a few days this week finishing up last few inches, weaving in ends, sewing on buttons and blocking.  It feels good to finish projects!

First up is baby's Christmas stocking (Ravelry notes).  She's due December 22nd, and I tend to go on the early side, so I'm assuming she'll need a stocking.  If she decides to come late, I'll consider myself a year ahead on her first Christmas present next year.
I was really worried that it was coming out too small, but I stretched it a ton in blocking, and I think it will be just fine.  I'm in no mood to pull out everyone else's stockings to compare, so we'll just have to deal with it regardless.  Other than the size, I'm very pleased with how it turned out.  For reference, here is Solveig's stocking that I made 2 years ago.  Everyone else in the family has store bought knitted stockings from before I learned how to knit...or before I knit well enough to make a stocking.  I would buy one this time too, but I just can't find any knitted ones I like. 

Second up is the finishing of this little one's Small Thing Romper.  Some may remember I made one for Solveig, in the newborn size, and loved it so so much!  I think she wore it non-stop in the first 2 weeks of her life.  I was disappointed I hadn't made one in the next size up as well.
 So this time around, I made the 3 month size, so when this little girl grows out of her big sister's hand-me-down romper, she can start breaking in her own one.  This time instead of sapphire pink, I chose periwinkle.  I think I have enough left over yarn to make a matching Small Things bonnet again, and since that's a pretty easy knit as well, I may work on that this next week.

I had a tough time picking out buttons for this one.  I was certain that people would confuse periwinkle with blue and call her a boy all the time, so I wanted to make the buttons extra-girly.  I asked Silje and David each their opinion, and they both strongly suggested these pink flower buttons.  Since Silje and David basically never agree on anything I figured it was a sign that these were the buttons.

Lastly, I made a little set of booties.  They came together so fast I was shocked!  Who knew that sport weight yarn and size 3 needles could pull together a set of booties in just an evening?  This pattern was fabulous, and I will definitely be using it again!  Actually, I'm wondering if I can tweak this pattern to make myself some matching booties for myself...

Because I think I need a pair of these for me!

Poor Ginny was in the path of Sandy, so I'm unsure whether or not she'll have the power available to host the Yarn Along today.  If she posts, I'll link up.  If not, then remember to say a prayer for her family, that they are all safe and well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Carving

This year I made the controversial decision of buying only 1 carving pumpkin.  We didn't grow pumpkins this year, so I picked one up.  Silje and David each wanted their own pumpkin, and had they be able to catch onto what was going on, I'm sure Elias and Solveig would have liked their own as well.

Halloween isn't my favorite holiday, but I think carving pumpkins and dress-up are both fun activities, so we do those.  Unfortunately for the kids, I remember very well years past when I got them each their own pumpkins.  What ended up happening year after year is they don't want to clean out the middle, or at least not past the first 5 minutes.  So I ended up carving out all of them after the kids' initial thrill was over. 

So this year, we did a "family" pumpkin.  That way, the kids could take turns with the thrill of cleaning it out, and when they got bored, there was another kid on deck to try it out. 

Silje and David were not fond of my decision.  The first few minutes involved pushing and shoving and yelling, and separating.  They did eventually work together to come up with a design, and it was decided that David would draw on the eyes and nose, and Silje would draw the mouth.  Knut would use the knife. 

Elias and Solveig had a blast, and the older kids did too, after each taking turns having to leave the room to cool off and have a talk multiple times. 
It took awhile to get our teamwork going, but when all was said and done things clicked.  Knut and I both agreed that we need to do more of these "team" activities together as the older 2 seem to always be in constant competition.  It worked out really well.

We do non-scary costumes, and trick or treating with a few neighbors and into a trunk-or-treat event in town.  This year, I believe we have a mermaid, a knight, a Transformer (or Thomas the Train...he's still deciding) and whatever I find in our old costume box that fits for Solveig...probably Eeyore.  We make it simple around here.  I buy costumes by the handful when they hit 90% off in the store, the kids play with them all year long, and on Halloween, they come up with their own costumes based off of what's in the dress up bucket. 

And now we do a "family pumpkin."  I'll save my energy for Christmas.  ;)

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm Blessed

It seems as though I have picked up on the little cold that Solveig and Elias have been hanging onto for the last week or so.  It's really not too terribly bad.  I was certain I wouldn't sleep at all last night, and I actually slept really hard...except when I had to get up with Solveig at 4am because she needed a new diaper.

At any rate, it's Monday morning, and I need to focus on some blessings.  Won't you join me?

I'm blessed with a cold that is forcing me to drink the herbal pregnancy tea that my midwife has been wanting me to have 2 cups a day.  It's hot liquids all day long for this sore throat.  1 cup of coffee, 2 cups of pregnancy tea, multiple cups of other teas.  This cold is forcing me into submission.  I'd been only have 1 cup every other day, and now I'm so on board.

Yesterday, I had an amazing photos hoot for my new Clarity cardigan to be released at the end of this week.  I edited all the pictures and already formatted the whole pattern.  The only thing stopping me from publishing it right now is I'm waiting for the final word from my tech editor in a few days.  I'm trying so hard to be disciplined because once my side of the work is done, I really want to put it out there!  I'm trying to be disciplined, because I'm sure she's going to find some mistakes.  She always does.

The photo shoot ended up taking, like 15 minutes because every shot was perfect.  I'm blessed to have married into a beautiful family so I had a handful of models to choose from:

I'm so excited about this pattern.  The anticipation is killing a good way.

I'm blessed that I can't yell at my kids today, because of my throat, and will be forced to use better parenting techniques.  Colds are great bad-habit breakers for this mommy.

I was so blessed yesterday when Knut made our family pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.  In fact, I'm just blessed with Fall flavors in general lately: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice.  Does any other season have such amazing flavors that seem to fill the house?

THE ROOSTERS ARE GONE! (Or I should say, have been moved to my freezer.)  The dirty job was done this weekend, and I couldn't be happier about that.  What a huge blessing.  Looking over our hens afterwards, which is the first chance I've had for awhile, it really hit me how war-torn they all were.  We have witnessed 4-5 of the roosters pounce on one hen at a time, pecking out feathers and pinning her down, and many of the girls have missing feathers and bald heads now.  We're not getting eggs (well, we're at 1 egg every other day right now), but I recently heard they stop producing them when they're growing in new feathers.  At any rate, our girls are on the mend.  It may take them awhile to recover, but I'm so blessed to have those mean birds away from them.

We're still lingering on the high of a wonderful harvest over at our house.  I can't seem to get over how good everything went, and what a good year it was.  We are so blessed.  I know people ask "why me?" or "why us?" when things go wrong, but I seem to find myself asking God that when things go really well.  To me that boggles my brain even more.  The sinners we are, the number of mistakes we make, and knowing full well our inadequacies, why us?  Why did God choose to bless us?  I don't know, but I do know that I will praise Him for it.  His blessings boggle my mind most of the time, but what can you do but just praise Him?

How has God blessed you?  This is a wonderful Monday morning exercise.  (Especially if you're like me and not a morning person...or a Monday person.)  I love reading how God has blessed you too, so please share!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Teacher Notes

Ugh, I've been dreading writing today's post.  I so don't want to tell you how homeschooling has been.  Upon much reflection on this in the last few weeks, and lots of prayer, I've realized our homeschool is just fine.  My kids are still fine.  I'm just not wanting to tell you how I've been.

I've been so hormonal.

I've been so moody.

I've been so irritable.

I've been so guilty about the above 3 items.

Running through my mind the last 2 weeks or so is the same thought: my kids don't deserve to deal with me.  Certainly, there must be someone better suited to teach them.  God surely made a mistake when he called me to this.  I must have misheard.  I'm screwing them up.  There's about 1,000 + things I should be doing better.  I need more patience for this job.  I need to be a better person.  If they were going to school somewhere else, they wouldn't have to deal with my raging pregnancy hormones right now.  They would be in a fun place.  At least, more fun than I am right now.

Mentally, it's been a battle.  Right on time, like clockwork, when I feel like I'm near bottom, my monthly homeschool mom support group met.  I love those women so much.

I felt like I walked in there so empty.  Empty of ideas, empty of hope.  Frustrated.  Guilt-laden.   Holding onto this whole homeschooling thing because the one thing I don't doubt is that God called Knut and I to this.  But surely, God must know what a failure I am. 

I left there so encouraged, so refreshed, and with a bucketful of ideas and tools and resources for hitting the next month.  I'm not the first homeschooling mom, (or the first teacher for that matter) who's had a tough time dealing with kids through the uncontrolled emotions.  Given the more than usual large families in the homeschooling community, it's certainly not unusual to deal with it. 

I'm reminded once again why the Bible stresses real fellowship.  We as a body need each other so desperately.  We are not meant to do this all alone.  It may feel like we're alone in our troubles, but that's a blatant deception, and we moms especially need to see that.  I think of Elijah, who felt he was the only one left.  I think of the multiple ways Satan isolates us to make us feel like no one would understand, people will rush to judge, and it will only lead to more loneliness.  There's so much power in fellowship, and in our independent society, it's so important that we see ourselves spiritually as a body of believers, not just an individual.  That's a whole other study I'd like to do sometime.

On a practical note, (really changing my tone here), David's glasses have been great.  He really loves using them, and as he explains it, "They really help my brain relax, so when I see the math problem, it just makes sense.  I don't have to concentrate as hard."  I've tried picking apart that statement of his to try to understand him better.  He's aching for more work to do, and I'm determined to assign him more.  He's not expressly asking for it, but he complains a lot of being bored, and when I suggest schoolwork, he doesn't fight me much at all.  We still really need to work on his attention span, though.

He's crusing along in Chinese, much faster than Silje did, although if he gets stuck, he always asks Silje who helps him out, and Silje didn't have that helper.  He still likes to figure out how things work, why they work the way they do, how things are built, why they aren't built another way, etc. etc.  His questions sometimes drive me bonkers.  Legos are my friend. 

He's been eager to be a help, and be "the man of the house" when Daddy is at work.  It's not all roses, but really, I see him stepping up to the plate maturity-wise.

Silje has been my quiet help.  She's been practicing the piano a lot in her free time, and she's getting to the level where I really enjoy listening to her play.  We just got her Christmas songs music book in the mail and she has wasted no time pulling it out and starting to work through it.  She spends a lot of time reading still.  She still wants to be a vet, and has started doing "check ups" on Lena and the chickens.  She reads books on animal anatomy and care, and tries to locate all the parts to each of the animals, and make sure they look right.  I like when she's with the animals in the yard because she's been able to save some of the chickens from the roosters' brutality by chasing them off every now and then.

Don't get me started on the roosters.  If it's not done this weekend, I may butcher them myself.  They're such bullies out in the yard these days.  It's painful to watch.  I need to clear out space in my freezer.  Add it to the list.

I digress...

Silje has been very careful around me these days.  She is old enough to see I'm on edge, and she's trying hard to make my life easier.  You have no idea how guilty this makes me feel.  I know it's a good trait for her to have, and I appreciate it so much, and it makes me beam with pride that she's my daughter, but I HATE that she's tiptoeing around me.  I don't want to be the kind of mom my kids have to tiptoe around.

Knut somehow feels that my moodiness must be due to some sort of dietary imbalance and has become my food intake tsar.  I somehow regret taking him to meet the midwife.  He asked her all sorts of questions since I've been telling him how great she is at helping me feel so good through diet.  So now he wants me to have molasses on everything instead of brown sugar, and is making me these spinach omelets in the morning, when I would just like a piece of toast and a large cup of coffee.  Then at night he brews me these special herbal teas instead of the black tea I prefer.  It's ok, though.  The food isn't bad, and I don't mind being babied by him.  Eventually he goes to work and I can pull out some cookies to snack on and all is well. 

Some things can be solved with a healthy diet, and other things can be solved by dunking a chocolate chip cookie into milk.  I'm so hungry all the time that I can have both.

At any rate, I feel so pumped up for this next week after my mom's night out.  I got some great tips on extending the kids' attention span, and developing better habits.  We need some better habits for sure. 

We'll get there.  My kids are exhausting, but still surprising me by how much they're learning and growing in maturity each day.  It would be easier if Elias didn't recently decide he hated going to the bathroom again after a few months of no accidents.  That's been miserable.  I blame my lack of good habits, which is #1 on the list right now. 

God has put on my heart this evening, as I write this: "When I am weak, He is strong."  Upon reflection, I see how true this is in our life right now.  I may be failing, but my God certainly is not.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Focus

As my mom has requested, here's David with his new glasses.  He does not wear them all the time, but he loves wearing them during school.  I'll have more on that tomorrow.

 And just because David has been starring some posts lately, I thought maybe he could share the spotlight with this little one.  I haven't posted many pictures of her lately because she's moved into the "blurry stage" of childhood.

 You know...that stage where no pictures of them turn out because they are all blurry.  She's just so constantly in motion!  Out of about 40 attempts, I got these 3 that aren't too bad.  It shows off just how crazy her hair has been getting.  I'm trying to stay on top of it.  I'm trying to let those bangs grow out.  Normally she's good about letting me pull that hair in her eyes back into a ponytail, but not this day.  

Just a little joy from my yours.  :)

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yarn Along

I finally cast on the Christmas stocking for baby, who I am assuming will come before Christmas, therefore need her own stocking.  The notes on Ravelry had several people complaining how big it was.  I never checked my gauge, but I'm worried it will be too small.  This is my break from designing a project, though, so I refuse to rip back.  Doing the collar on the Clarity Cardigan 5 times before it was perfect was enough ripping for me this week.  It's wool.  I'll make it stretch.

I am just using leftover yarn from other projects and so it's doubly fun not only to knit from a pattern for a change, but knit from my stash.  I feel like I'm crossing things off my list left and right.

A picture of my math notes for the Clarity Cardigan that is being checked right now.  And people said I would never use math...

My sewing/crafting space looks poorly neglected, as you can see.  Thank goodness I didn't zoom out on this picture.  Knut was going through the mail the night before last night, and saw there was a Fall quilting retreat at our favorite camp coming up this next weekend, or the weekend of my knitting event at the yarn store.  He casually said, "You should go.  Harvest is done, I can stay with the kids.  You won't be able to go this Spring with a nursing baby.  It'll be your last getaway."  I asked him if he was serious.  Apparently he was.  He knows I love going to the quilting retreat every Spring that we don't have a nursing baby.

I cannot believe he so casually offered me a quilting retreat weekend off the cuff last minute.  However, the thought of getting my stuff together, not getting any of the things done this weekend that must get done, plus preparing the house/meals for them when I'm gone ('cause seriously, I wouldn't be leaving him with much to work with at all, and I can tell that he's overstimulated around the kids now as he's adjusting to being at home again).  Anyway, the whole idea of me leaving started stressing me out and not exciting me.  So I'm dropping it.  In the past I may have taken him up on it.  Right now, I just want to be home and together, and get lots of household things done before this baby comes.  I can't not show up to my own party at the yarn store in a few weeks, and there's no way I can just skip town this next weekend.  It just can't be done.

I am a bit bummed by my decision, but I see no way around it without adding stress to my life, which I know was not Knut's intent in suggesting it.  I should dust off my Sassy Pfaffy, though, and sew something up here soon before the baby is born, even if it's just a few quilt blocks for fun.  Silje has been begging for a new dress, which is surprising from her since she has disliked a number of things I have made for her in the past.  I've learned she will only wear what I make her if she has a say in every step of the process.  I can only guide her or say "no, I'm not using that fabric" (I'm not afraid to use veto power) but if I pick out something I like without her input, she will just wear it through tears.  She's quite opinionated.

We've done a bit of dress shopping lately, and apparently she doesn't like anything out there. (She's not into the current styles of short skirts and leggings, which...well I can't argue with that.  I'm glad she's not into it.)  Anyway, she thinks it would be simpler if I just sewed what she was thinking.  I'm not so sure...

At least for the purpose of getting this crafting space cleaned up it would be good to at least think about sewing something up.  It's hard to even maneuver in there!  It's become the drop-all space for anything I don't have time to deal with yet want out of reach for the toddlers. 

For reading, we've finally gotten to a read aloud this year that we all like: The Sign of the Beaver.  The older 2 kids and I are reading it before bed along with a sequel to a book (Homer Price) that the kids have really liked in the past.  Both are good so far!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Weeks with Clarity

 Here I am...reaching 31 weeks.  For those with a rusty memory, my kids were born at this point in each pregnancy: 40 weeks, 37 weeks, 36 weeks, and 39 weeks.  The boys were the 2 early ones.  They apparently thought it was a race.

Although I certainly do not want another baby born preterm, I realized that if this were Elias, I'd only be 5 weeks from giving birth.  That would be a bummer this time around because my midwife is only allowed to attend my birth if I make it to 37 weeks since she handles low-risk patients.  Plus, with Elias who was born at 36 weeks, even though he handles colds much better now than he did, he still handles any sickness much worse than any of the other kids.  So at least 6 more weeks is the goal, and that's still really soon!!

I'm thinking 38 weeks for this baby would round out those previous numbers well.  I totally wouldn't be surprised if I went overdue this time.  I seem to be due some over-due-ness.  I'm really not wanting to have this baby on Christmas, though.  Everyone says she looks like she's dropped, but she hasn't.  I haven't had a full breath in about 2 weeks, so if you see me winded, that's why.  Her little head has been up still, but I think last night she turned head down finally.  Whether or not she'll stay head down is a different speculation altogether.  She's been in somersault mode.

I thought we had settled on a girl's name.  I really did.  I started calling her by that name, until one day Knut heard me refer to her by that name.  Apparently he thought we were settled on a name as well, although a different name.  (I had resigned to his favorite, and he had resigned to my favorite, and when we both realized that the other person was willing to go with our own favorite name, we have taken up our original favorites with greater fervor, and further away from deciding a name to begin with.)

This is also a sneaky post, showing a sneak peek at my new Clarity Cardigan pattern that is now finished, written, and with my tech editor.  It's not a maternity sweater, though, so it's not laying properly on me.  Hopefully I'll get it on someone without a baby bump this week for a photo shoot.  I asked a senior in high school at our church to model it for me this week, as she's just about my size, although a foot taller or so.  While she said yes, I'm finding that getting an appointment with a senior is pretty tricky scheduling!  They are very busy people!  I'm hoping to have everything finalized for it by the end of next week.
These are not the final pictures, but they're a peek.  I'm loving wearing this thing.  I should probably be disciplined and keep it nice and pretty for some events coming up like the party at my local yarn store.  It's going to be hard, though.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I'm Blessed

I'm not sure if it's the time of year, or just the time in our lives, but I feel so blessed these days. 
My cup runneth over a lot!

I was thinking this as Elias has once again gotten his wheezy cough.  I was remembering when it used to be that our "preemie baby" was hospitalized with RSV.  After his lungs were damaged by that, for the next 2 years a small cold would land him in the hospital.  Now our little boy is nearly 4, and a cold is just a bad cold.  It's annoying, and we deal with it, but it doesn't mean automatic hospital time anymore.  I feel so blessed by having 4 kids who are well enough now to handle mild illnesses without nurses, oxygen masks and vital checks every few hours.  I was thankful for their help when we needed it, but I'm very thankful we don't need their services just now!

In bigger news than colds in our house: harvest is done!  I don't mean by any stretch of the imagination that work is done.  However, the crop is off the fields and there's a big collective sigh of relief.  A few records were broken this year.  Fastest ever harvest was one of them.  In my short history to draw from, the earliest the guys have ever been done is October 31st.  They were done last Thursday. 

So then the blessings get bigger.  What does Knut want to do on his first morning off?  He wanted to come meet my midwife as I was headed to an appointment.  I didn't ask him.  I didn't even bring it up as a possibility as I assumed he just wanted to lay low on Friday morning or work on odd jobs, or even just sleep.  No, he wanted to spend some time with me.  That's what he said.  He missed me.  Melt.  My.  Heart.

We went out to lunch after our appointment.  I had a chocolate mousse tower for dessert.  It was worthy of mentioning on the "I'm Blessed" post for sure!

Saturday he replaced the downstairs bathroom sink faucet that has been dripping for the last few years.  It started out as a slow drip.  He's done multiple fixes to this sink since we moved in.  Over harvest, it went from a slow drip to about a drop a second and it was driving me nuts!  Now I have a shiny new faucet, and best of all, I won't have to clean the rusty spot all the time from our well water dripping there constantly anymore!  I'm just giddy with the thought.

He fixed the light in the kitchen, he fixed the handle to the drawer of the coffee table.  He carried the heavy old vacuum down to the basement and got all the spots I can no longer contort my body to reach.  He replaced the old batteries on all the smoke detectors that I can't reach but have been beeping low battery warnings like crazy lately and also driving me crazy. 

Do you have any idea how awesome it is to not be the only adult in this house? 

That is by no means an exhaustive list of our blessings of this last week.  This Monday as Knut heads back to work, since there's still much to be done, I'm so thankful for this amazing harvest.  I'm so thankful that the critical point has been passed of getting it off the fields.  I'm thankful for all the blessings that come with harvest, but most of all, I'm so thankful to have my hubby least by supper time (or close to supper time) for awhile.

Thank you Jesus, for the little rain we got this year.  Thank you for willing the crops to grow.  Thank you for sustaining our health to get the work done.  Thank you so much for my hard working husband.  Thank you for chocolate mousse towers.

If you'd like to share how God has blessed you this last week, I would love to hear about it!  You can leave a comment, or a link to your own "I'm Blessed:" post if you'd like.  Our God is so good.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie/Biscuits and Gravy

Here's another freezer meal that can be used in a variety of ways once it is thawed.  My cook book lists it as "Country Chicken Pot Pie" however, we use it as a pot pie filling only about half the time.  The other half we heat up the filling and pour it over biscuits.  I'm pretty sure our family prefers it that way.

This recipe will make filling for 6-9" pies, or "gravy" for my family of 6 with no leftovers.  The original recipe (without my tweaks) is found in The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: which I have found to be a very valuable reference to have on hand.  I love how easy the recipes are to navigate, (although the many of them include processed foods which I'm not a fan of).  The lists of food equivalents in there are a constant resource to me for about every other recipe when I'm trying to figure out how much meat I want to buy for a recipe calling for 5 cups of cooked chicken and I want to make 5 of them, and therefore how many pounds to I buy? 

6 Pot Pie Fillings:

3 cups chopped onions
3 cups chopped celery
3 cups chopped carrots
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup flour
3 cups evaporated milk
6 cups chicken broth (I STRONGLY recommend homemade broth)
5 lbs chicken breast, chopped and cooked
3 cups frozen peas
1 T salt
1 tsp pepper

Have on hand ingredients for pie crusts (I like to use my favorite pie crust recipe, substituting in whole wheat pastry flour for regular flour to give it a more "wholesome" taste and nutritional more filling) or simply buy some pre-made pie crusts, or ingredients for biscuits/biscuit mix.

Saute the first 3 ingredients in butter for a few minutes.  Add flour and cook about 1 minute.  Add remaining ingredients, peas last.

Equally divide the mixture into 6- gallon sized ziploc freezer bags.  Label and freeze.

To cook as gravy, thaw and heat.  Pour over your favorite bread.

To cook as pie, thaw, make pie crust, pour filling in, add pie crust to top, and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then 30 more minutes with it covered with foil.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Teacher Notes

This week we continue to keep busy.  I continue to be disappointed in myself, and I continue to be astonished how much my kids are learning in spite of my deficiencies. 

The thing that has continued to save our school has been our now weekly library trips.  That's at least one thing I'm doing right.  Silje has been burying herself in reading and telling me all about it.  We've really done well with math as well as some other subjects.   I haven't done so well in the history department.  I'm determined to catch up in that department next week.

This last Tuesday, I took Silje and David to the eye doctor.  I gave Silje and David a screening test that I printed from online.  Silje seemed fine, but one of her eyes was stronger than the other.  I was pretty certain that was normal, and her "bad eye" wasn't even that bad.  She was complaining of bluriness, though, and how she really thinks she needed glasses.  I was pretty sure she just wanted glasses because some friend of hers got them.

I gave the test to David too, and there were a few more red flags.  So I went online to see what typical signs (besides having one eye not managing the screening test very well) a child who needs glasses displays.  Going down the list on some parenting site, I was thinking to myself: "David does that...that too...and that."  Pretty much everything on the list was a description of how he responds to different school activities.

So I made an eye appointment for each of the kids: the one who claims she need them, because who knows, I could be wrong, and the one who had some big red flags during my assessment.

Silje passed her eye exam with flying colors, much to her disappointment.

David had his exam next and did just fine with reading the letters on the wall, at which point I was pretty sure I was a fool to bring these 2 kids in.  Then the doctor had him read some letters close up, and I could see the doctor quickly change methods.  All of a sudden, the glass lenses on his contraption started clicking, and I could tell this exam was quickly going a different direction.

It turns out that David is far-sighted, which the doctor said he'll likely grow out of by middle school, at which point he'll likely start getting more and more near sighted.  He didn't think David needed to wear glasses all day: just during schoolwork and reading.  He did say if David wanted to wear them all day, I should let him, but only make him wear them when he's reading, etc.  He said there was no reason for him to wear them outside or during sports.

What surprised me, was when the doctor explained to me what David has likely been going through during school.  He's likely been getting lots of headaches.  He has to concentrate so hard to see words on a page that it was literally exhausting him and took all his energy.  He told me to talk to his teacher about it until his new glasses got in, to make sure he was getting enough breaks.  I said I was his teacher, and that would be no problem.

I bring this up on this homeschooling post, because it's such a turning point for me.  In case you couldn't tell, this year has been difficult for me so far.  The main reason for that is I went from having Silje full time, and David doing school things for maybe 30 minutes a day during his kindergarten year, to having both Silje and David "full time" for a few hours a day.  While Silje works and follows directions just fine, David has been needing me by his side every inch of the way.  I feel guilty when I can't help Silje as quickly as she sometimes needs it, and I feel annoyed and exhausted by David not being able to do his work without me pointing to every word for him and sitting by his side for every second of every assignment or project.

David's glasses are due to arrive in about a week and a half at the latest.  His doctor said he'll no longer constantly loose his place when reading, he'll no longer need me to point at each word.  He'll be able to concentrate on things longer than 10 minutes without starting to whine.  He actually said David currently has to move while reading in order to constantly refocus on the words.  Maybe he'll still move while reading, but at least I'll know it's because he's energetic, and not because he's dancing around trying to find a distance at which he can see the page!  Do you have any idea how these predictions excite me and breathe new hope into this mama's heart?

School won't exhaust me, and I may not dread it.  I know those words are blunt, but I like to be honest.  I love teaching my kids, but this year has been hard.  Now I feel I know why, and it's being fixed.  Will we still have bad days?  They're glasses, not a magic-remove-all-sin-from-the-house wand.  I understand that.  I'm getting so excited for them to come in, and I'm planning all sorts of fun activities and crafts that Silje's been dying to do, but we haven't been able to because I can't tear myself from David for 3 seconds without him needing my help.

David may enjoy these activities now.  He's not a crafty sort of guy, but maybe that's because he couldn't see the crafts!  Who knows how many things this will change and how far it will reach?

Let me just say, I'm excited to find out.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

David's Birthday Present

I love the pictures in this post, and it has a lot to do with changes in our family.  However, I've hesitated in posting it because I hate stirring up controversy and arguments, and sometimes I don't know which posts will stir up controversy, and which ones won't.  However, it's just so cute that I'm just going to throw it out there.

We got David a BB gun for his birthday.  It was 100% Knut's idea, and he got a Red Rider, just like the little boy from "Christmas Story."

I suppose I went right along with it for a few reasons.  First, 7 was how old I was when my dad first taught me to shoot a .22.  My dad had guns, so at an early age, we learned gun safety.  You can ask yourself, in an area of the country where hunting is common, and even if guns are locked up in our house, how can we be sure they're locked up at our friends' houses...shouldn't we be teaching our kids gun safety at an early age too?

I laugh a bit at my initial worry, because seeing Knut and David shoot cans after church on Sunday, many of the BBs just dent the pop cans, and don't even puncture.  It's nothing like the .22 I learned on.

I love the picture above of Knut showing David to shoot for the first time at Knut's parents' house where the big joint October birthday part was for Grandpa, Aunt Rondi, and David.  Behind Knut, 3 of the boy cousins look on with great caution and interest. 

Right now, David only has access to his new gun on Sundays when Knut is home to shoot with him, and Knut said this will likely be the case for at least a year or two.  So shooting is now part of the after-church routine!

I think of all of our kids, I'm glad David was the first to get a gun and learn about gun safety, because he's the most curious and the most adventurous.  Of all our kids, he needed to be taught the most.  You wouldn't believe the attitude he has taken with his new charge. 
 (His gun came with safety glasses.  We never told him to wear them, but he thinks they're cool, so he always does when shooting.)

When he first opened it, he was speechless.  For several hours, Knut wondered if he liked it at all.  His excitement was there, though the words weren't.  To me, David talks non-stop about his new gun with lots of "Can you believe Daddy thought I was big enough for my own gun?"  I think he was in awe to have received such an honor from his dad, and he takes it very, very seriously.  Since then, he's spoken with his head a bit higher.  He takes other responsibilities more seriously. 

It's as though, if Daddy thinks he's a man, well then perhaps he's a man now.

This last Saturday, I went out to the yard to take pictures of them shooting pop cans.  Those 2 were having so much fun together!  David is really getting better aim and handles it much better each time.  He is just aching to go hunting with Knut, and has been pestering him about it quite often.  Poor Knut would love to go hunting too, but a farmer's schedule rarely allows for such luxuries. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yarn Along

Are you all sick of seeing this green yarn yet?  Surprisingly, I am not.  I'm getting more and more excited about this cardigan.  I've now finished the body, the sleeves and the pockets.  All that is left is the collar and finishing work.  It fits just perfectly.  It still really needs some blocking.  I've now done the collar 2 1/2 times and I'm about to rip it out again. 

I'm surprisingly not sick of it, though.  I was a bit discouraged with myself the last week or two in regards to this particular project, and the previous one.  I do all the math on paper, but then when I knit it up, it's not how I saw it in my head and I have to rip back, rip back, rip back.

There was a thread on the Designer Forum on Ravelry that talked about this frustration, and it turns out, that some of the designers that I respect most piped in and said they regularly have to rip back their projects 3-5 times.  In their minds, that's what they get paid for: messing up and tweaking the pattern to perfection so that others don't have to make the same mistakes.

I suppose I hadn't though of it that way before, but I'm taking on a new approach, of every mistake being so valuable. Here I thought every time I messed up "I'm no good at this.  Real designers wouldn't have made this mistake."  Turns out "real" designers make mistakes as often as I do.  It was very reassuring.

During bath time, I've been paging through a new "must have" book that several designers have recommended to me, and it's The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design.  It does not have anything in there about how to design, but more how the design business works.  It has chapters on contracts, and what is usually negotiable.  It talks about various ways to make money, and interviews 30 professional designers, their take on the industry, and what percentage of their income comes from books vs. teaching vs. publishing, etc.

What I've taken from it is each designer makes her money differently, and there's about 1000 ways to skin a cat.  I think the interviews from various editors are very valuable to see inside their heads as to what impresses them.  Although this will be a good reference to have, and I have been learning new things, I found that it wasn't mind blowing either.  Much of this stuff I've been researching on my own, so I guess you could say I wish I would have read it a year ago!

As soon as I finish this collar, I plan on casting on for the new baby's Christmas stocking.  That, and I wanted to get a shawl pattern done.  I finally finished the design concept for it, and I've been aching to get it done for awhile.  It should be a quick knit, and after a big cardigan like this, I think something quick will be very welcome!

Joining my friend Ginny for her Yarn Along this week.  It's always a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicken Chatter

So much has been going on with our chickens lately.  Several of the black chicks that we got from our neighbors are turning out to be roosters.  Knut plans on butchering them after harvest.  They have now matured, and now some of the eggs I'm collecting are fertilized.  None of our chickens are sitting on them, though, as they're not very good mothers, and I don't have any desire to have chicks around at this point anyway.  We purposefully picked breeds that were not broody, so that they would interact with our kids with little injury, and all we wanted were the eggs anyway.  We've never had the intention to raise our own chicks.
(Hens: Ruby and Goldie)

For those wondering, a fertilized egg isn't as gross as you may think, although I don't use them.  It basically looks like a regular egg, but there's a red vein around the yolk area.  It's often known as "a bloody egg."  They're fine to eat, but most people don't for the visual reason.  I don't.

Anyway, that's the overall news.  I thought I'd update of a few individuals, though.  First, there's Princess. 
(This isn't actually princess, but princess' sister.  She's the same breed, but much further up the pecking order.  The real princess now has several missing feathers and is much skinnier due to the other chickens restricting her access to food.  Princess was hiding in the woods when I was taking pictures.)

Many of you may remember Princess.  Back when we got our first batch of chicks, we split the order with a friend of ours.  As the chicks got bigger, we realized we mistakenly got a few of his roosters, and he mistakenly got a few of our hens, so we did a switch.  His coop was more crowded than ours, so there was more evidence of the chickens picking on each other, and princess was one of the hens that we got in that swap back. 

She has always been at the bottom of the pecking order, and for that reason, we named her "Princess" so as to raise her self esteem.  In the beginning we had to pour white vinegar on her wounds, and did a bit of separation from the other hens, but eventually she rejoined the group.

Well, Princess is getting royally picked on by the roosters.  She cannot hold her own, and has left the coop altogether.  We can't get her to go back into the coop at night to roost.  I can't seem to catch her, and she no longer lays her pretty eggs in the nesting boxes, so they're being laid somewhere out in the woods.

She is still around though.  She's pretty sickly looking, and is missing some feathers from the roosters' brutality.  If we were to catch her, it's likely we'd keep her in seclusion until she's healed.  She won't be caught, though, so I simply leave out food and water for her, and she roosts in the woods each night somewhere.  I'm not sure how long she will make it.  I'm hoping once the roosters are gone, she'll be bold enough to return to us.  Right now we only see her on days when I keep the other chickens in the coop all day.  She'll come out of the woods and roam around the yard and peck at the fallen baking apples on the ground.  Otherwise, she hides in the woods.  I've started keeping the chickens in for at least half a day each day to make sure that Princess is bold enough to get the food and water that I leave out for her, and she always comes out of the woods and eats and drinks if the other chickens aren't around.

Then there's Beatrix.  She's the last of this breed that we have.  She's always been a trooper.  I'm not sure why, but the roosters seem to target her most for some...interaction.  Roosters are constantly hopping on top of her, and her eggs are now always fertilized.  I'm tempted to throw in some sort of blond joke in here, since she is our only remaining blond chicken, and also the most sought after hen for the rooster's attention.  I'm trying to refrain...

As far as the roosters go, I'm thinking that of the 10 chicks we got, 1 died early on, and now I'm thinking 6-7 of them are males.  Even Marilyn.

I named Marilyn after Marilyn Monroe, since she had this gorgeous blonde head.  Well, since then I've seen Marilyn be one of the most aggressive "fertilizers" and crows so, so often.  So Marilyn's last name was changed to "Manson" since she is a he.  He will soon be butchered with the rest of the roosters, and good riddance. 
(Marilyn crowing.)

That's the news from the chicken coop!

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm Blessed

Today is a good day.  I don't often say that on Mondays.  It's more often that I wake up way too suddenly, and spend the first few minutes staring at my coffee and trying to get my children to speak softly.  I think yesterday I was blessed with such a long afternoon nap for myself, and add to that going to bed "early" on Sunday night (as in 11pm) I woke up this morning so easily.  It's a good thing.

Knut said there's the potential to finish harvest this week.  I've never once seen harvest finished this early in the Fall.  That would be a huge blessing.  HUGE!  That means he'll have time to get some more wood cut for the winter, and he'll be able to finally butcher the roosters that have now matured and are crowing all day long.  That means he'll be able to come to Bible study with me when they're on a weekday evening.  So many good things!

I'm blessed that all 4 of my children have woken up on the right side of the bed as well today.  Not only that, but we don't have any plans today but the routine school plus a bunch of catch up cleaning.  Translation: my house might be cleaner at the end of the day than it is right now.  I'm kind of excited about that prospect.

I started out this last weekend so physically and emotionally spent, and I feel like once again, I got some huge rest yesterday.  Sundays are such a huge blessings most especially during harvest time.  Putting the 2 littlest ones down for naps, telling the 2 older ones to read/play/watch t.v. quietly, and then snuggling up with my hubby for a few hour nap is about the best reset button that I have experienced.

To sum up, I'm blessed with rest;
I'm blessed with a good harvest;
I'm blessed by my snuggly children;
I'm blessed with a fire to stare at in the fireplace;
I'm blessed with coffee and a new day.

How has God blessed you this week?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Camille Cardigan

I'm so thrilled to announce my newest knitting pattern, which is now on the cover of Knitscene Magazine, Winter 2012.  I'm so in love with this cardigan, which uses a really fun "contiguous" construction knit in one piece from the top down in this really fun chunky thick and thin yarn.  It's worked on big needles, so it comes together really fast!

I want to thank my hubby Knut, who listened to me dream about making it into this magazine, and encouraged me to go ahead and submit some ideas even if all I got was feedback from the editors.  I was shocked that they took my idea (in a run-around-the-house-screaming sort of way).  I was so excited with every step of the process of working with the magazine, the amazing editors, and low and behold, they put my sweater on the cover.  So thank you, Knut, for pushing me in the direction of submitting in the first place.  I hope I support his dreams at least half as much as he supports mine.

This sweater construction came at a funny time as I found out I was pregnant and found out they accepted my design pretty much at the same time.  Both were things I was hoping for, but never dreamed that either would happen right now.  So with all the first trimester extreme fatigue, this sweater and I stayed on the couch and it was worked on in between my naps as my house got very, very messy for a few weeks.

You would think that would discourage my hubby from ever encouraging me to submit to a magazine again.  However, he found another swatch and proposal I had laying around and I was debating whether or not to send in.  He asked when the deadline was to submit it and I said, "Um, it's the day after tomorrow.  It's probably too late to submit this idea anyway.  It got really crazy around here when I worked on the other design.  I wasn't sure if I should send this one in and add that craziness to our lives again."  My hubby over-nighted the proposal to the editors himself and low and behold, you'll see another one of my designs in next Summer's issue as well since I I just shipped off the final product and pattern a week or so ago.  Yup, I picked a good one.  I love how much he believes in my dream.

The name "Camille" for the pattern actually was picked by the editor, and I like it.  It was such a thrill to work with the editors there.  They were always so quick with responses to questions, and so patient and helpful walking me through this process.

(This is not me...just so you know.  My belly is quite a bit bigger just now.  This is one of the fabulous pictures in the magazine that will be in stores October 23rd.)

I'm so in love with have no idea.  I may make myself 3 of these, and I don't usually repeat patterns like that.

I also want to thank my friends at Crates of Yarn who have also encouraged me through this whole process, and where I got the original submission yarn, and helped me pick out just the right buttons.  They are throwing a little celebration party on November 3rd for anyone to attend.  They are such sweet cheerleaders!

Thank you all, too, for being my cheerleaders too.  You have no idea how much your encouragement means to me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Just Another Day

I had one of those moments yesterday when I just felt like the most awful mother ever.  Ever have those?  Silje and David were at a 4H meeting, so Elias and Solveig and I went running some errands.

Elias had been having a bad day.  His whining had been improving, but that day he had not yet said one word in a "nice" voice.  It was 11am, and already I was so done.  We were almost out of coffee, and my creamer, so we stopped at the grocery store quick while we were in town to pick some up.  It was going to be a fast trip, with only 2 kids in tow and only 2 things on the list.

Elias whined the whole time we were in the store.  I reminded him that if he whines the whole time, he doesn't get his free cookie at the bakery.  Those are only for kids doing a good job.  So he starts screaming at the top of his lungs that he's doing a good job.  If that was the case, I'd HATE to see what a bad job was.

I should probably stop the story at this point to give a bit of the origin of bloody noses and my kids.  It was only after we were married that I realized Knut got bloody noses often (well, at least more often than I ever got them), especially when the seasons change, and especially when he's tired.  He explained it was no big deal, and it was fine as long as he got enough sleep and sometimes he had to run a humidifier.

Then when Silje was about 18 mos or 2 she started getting bloody noses during the same circumstances: tired or season change.  I asked her doctor about it, and mentioned my husband gets the same thing. The doctor said that it was a hereditary thing.  Some people have the genes for weak blood vessels in their noses, and they are just aggravated easily, but it was nothing to worry about. 

In the last year we've realized Elias inherited those same genes as Silje and Knut.  So far 50% of our family deals with bloody noses when they're tired or the weather has turned cold.

Elias has been dealing with random bloody noses for the last 2 weeks, (right around the time we started running the wood burning fireplace in the house) so we've been running a humidifier in his room 24/7, and in the house during the day.  It's brought them down to about once a week, and they're almost gone altogether as we've switched our house from dehumidifying mode to humidifying mode.  It has caused a lot of laundry, but what else is new?

So back to the store...

Elias is whining.  He's screaming.  He wants this or that.  He wants me to stop.  No, he doesn't want to stop.  He wants to go home.  I pick up our coffee things, and as we walk past the bakery and Solveig perked up her smile for the ladies behind the counter, I did what I have done with every single one of my kids...and it's hard:

I give a free cookie that is provided for kids at our grocery store to each of the kids doing a good job, and withhold a cookie from the kids doing a bad job.  (In this case, Elias.)  They still can have the cookie.  It's sitting on top of my purse.  At this point, I tell them that they do not get cookies for bad behavior.  Getting down to his level, I explained that if he decided to control his body and his voice for the whole time we're checking out, I will reward his good behavior with the cookie in the car.

Normally, this gets bad at this point.  I expect it, and that makes it easier to handle.  When the misbehaving child realizes that everyone is getting a treat but him, the bad behavior escalates...a lot.  There is a full blown tantrum on our hands.  Normally they scream during the whole check least the first time.  (For the record, he had a snack 15 minutes before the store of an apple and toffee covered peanuts.  He wasn't hungry.  I've made that mistake before.)  It gets loud, because the poor boy is frustrated, and things are not going his way.  It's a teaching moment.  I can either teach him that screaming will get him what he wants, or I can teach him that the rules apply to all of the kids, and each kid is responsible for his own actions.  Cookies are not an entitlement.

At any rate, I've found that if I hold to our family rules of public behavior, and endure screaming in the check out from time to time, they learn that I mean what I say, even when people are watching.  It makes the next 6 months or so of grocery shopping is like heaven with the kids striving to show that they can follow the rules.  It's worth it...but it's really hard to do when everyone is staring at you with eyes that say "Just give him the stupid cookie so he'll shut up!"

I used to stare at mothers with judgment when I saw kids screaming in stores.  After Silje was born, I used to think "why are they taking that child out when he's obviously tired?" or something else of that nature.  I was the person who had never dealt with toddlers, who had never dealt with multiple children and juggling activities and nap times that were phasing out, but not all the way out.  I had so much wisdom, and so little grace back then.

I've found, if I can get through this public humiliation, you better believe the kids know I mean what I say.  It actually increases the trust between us.  They help, stay close, are polite, and shopping trips are a piece of cake for quite awhile after something like this happens.  You have to walk through the fire to get there, though.  I just figured this was Elias' turn to learn this lesson.

So as we're checking out, and Solveig is pleasantly saying "hi" to everyone around her, Elias is still pleading with me screaming "I am doing a good job, I AM!!"  I look in his face, I get down to his level.  I explain again that what a good job is, and what a good job is not.  I explain again that he does not get cookies for acting like this, but should he change his mind, control his body and voice, the cookie will be waiting for him.  I smile at the cashier, take my change and bags, and calmly start dragging Elias out to the car.  I've explained enough, and I just say with a firm grip on his hand, "it's time to go to the car."

Good mom, right?  Doing what I say I'll do.  Not losing temper, and enforcing rules.  It isn't until we approach the outside door of the grocery store, when my eyes have been off Elias' face for about 30 seconds when someone stops me and says, "Um...he has blood all over him."

I look down and Elias has blood coming out of his nose, and he's smeared it all across his face and the sleeve of his arm...and more is coming.  Someone handed me a wad of tissues, and I got down and held his nose firmly to make the bleeding stop, which made him scream all the more.  Everyone is staring.  My bags drop and my little girl is squealing "hi!!" to everyone who is looking at us, and Elias is screaming, "stop!  ouch!  You're hurting me!" as blood gets all over him and me.

Just another day as a mom.

I'm writing this so someday I can look back and read it, and laugh really hard.  Someday...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yarn Along

Nothing is getting done at my house these days.  Operation "Get Out of the House and Not Climb the Walls" has backfired, and there's so much that needs to get done at home that I feel a bit overwhelmed by it.  In a matter of 2-3 days I've gotten so behind.  Yesterday we went to the library again, and I saw a "librarian's pick" selection while my kids were checking out.  I sighed and told the lady "I wish I could read a book..."

Obviously, I know how to read.  I just feel like lately I get to read or knit, and I've had a few deadlines I've tried (and sometimes failed) to make.  I wish I could finish reading my vacation book Kristin Lavransdatter.  The kids are way too needy these days to allow such a luxury.  My mind is on so many jobs that are getting undone around the house.

Soon Knut will be back home.  By soon I mean weeks, but still: harvest is temporary.  I miss having him here in the evenings to settle me down and just set this tone of relaxation for the night.  I miss him doing the supper dishes while I read to Silje and David before bed.  I miss talking to him during daylight hours.

Last night he came home, and I showed him the kitchen books I picked up at the library.  We sat down at the kitchen table, and just looked at pictures and pointed things out for well over an hour.  It was way past midnight when we got to bed, but both of us were just craving some sort of hanging out and talking about something besides, "I need you to stop by the bank tomorrow," or "Did you get to washing my work socks today?"  It was an hour of lost sleep well spent.

It's not that I'm not thankful for this harvest, because I am.  From what I can tell, things seem to be doing much better than expected out in the fields.  There's been a lot of worry about that with our lack of rain this year.  I'm so thankful and excited they're pulling in a good harvest.  I'm so thankful, so, so thankful that Knut has a good job that he loves.  With all the discussion on the economy in our country these days, it's very evident that many people are struggling with employment, and that's one thing that we don't need to worry about right now.

With all the troubles in the world, my unfulfilled desire to just sit and read a book...maybe with the attached far off dream that I will read said book on a clean couch with no laundry on it...just seems a bit trivial.

I have been able to knit, which is made possible by the fact that I'm at the "mindless" portion of my cardigan and I can knit during school time, or knit while parked and waiting for the older kids to finish their choir practice.  I can pick up my knitting for 5 minutes while talking to someone, but I can't seem to pick up a deep book and read it while getting interrupted every 30 seconds.

If someone points out that I can also do a few dishes in some spare 5 minutes, instead of knitting, you may get punched.  Just sayin'.  Don't mess with a farmer's wife during harvest.

Slowly but surely, it's making progress.  I was very excited that Quince and Co. finally got the color "lichen" back in stock in their "chickadee" yarn, so I was able to order more and not worry if I'll have enough to do the collar I wanted.  I'm really eager to get this pattern out, as so far it's fitting great (well, except over my pregnant belly) and I'm on the first arm, just knitting around and around and around and around.  It's very therapeutic.  I'm just so pleased with how it's turning out that I want to share the pattern...and perhaps make another one.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I have to get on a Christmas stocking for our little girl due to arrive just days before Christmas.  I shouldn't even allow my brain to go to another sweater from this pattern, but it's just been so fun...  I've named it the "Clarity Cardigan" and I hope to have it published around the end of this month, or beginning of next month, depending on about 1,000 things.

Anyway, I hope I can still participate in my "Yarn Along" discussion if I don't have any reading to report.  I haven't even done my devotions for 3 days.  Ironically it coincides with the number of days it's taken for me to get horribly behind in my chores.  But who's surprised by that...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kitchen Plans

I recently mentioned Knut's comments about renovating the kitchen in a nearer future than I had expected.  Now he's trying to make it very clear how near he's thinking so that I can start doing some research and making some plans:


The thought on a whole is overwhelming.  There are so many things to figure out before then.  It might be easier to explain what's staying in the room: the ceiling...and the walls (although not the wallpaper on the walls) and of course the antique light fixtures (although the wiring will need to be redone).  Well, Knut has debated several times about moving the walls as well, but I'm determined to take a restoration view of the kitchen, not a "bigger is better" view.  Our house was built in 1900, and I want our kitchen to look like it fits in an old house, while being very functional.

After searching several kitchen ideas, the design above is what I've concluded is my "mood board" but I'm pretty sure our kitchen will look a bit different.  For starters, we're going with a wood floor, and we're planning on keeping the wood trim around our windows.  Also, through lots of measuring, we've concluded there just isn't enough space for an island, and we'll just stay with the peninsula idea instead of knocking down some walls.

At any rate, I told Knut that this picture is the "feeling" that I'm going for, although not anywhere near a blueprint.  He liked it, which made me happy.  I know he'll want some more "wood" elements in it, but I assured him, there would be.

So for starters, our floor which is not very level will have to be ripped up.  The cabinets that are crooked (with a few crumbling shelves) will be gutted and replaced.  Our 20 year old fridge will be replaced, and we're planning on upgrading the oven and switching to a gas stove.  The most exciting of all?  Drumroll...

We're getting a dishwasher!

We'll be the first owners of this house to have a dishwasher in their kitchen.  We just need to figure out where to put it.  Since I've finally convinced Knut that although he would do a fabulous job on building the cabinets, he simply does not have the time to do it.  The only person he says he trusts to do it is the guy who did his parent's kitchen when they built their house about 4 years ago.  So job number one is to track down "that guy" and see if we can get a layout worked out to accommodate a dishwasher, etc.

I'm grateful Knut told me about it now.  My moods lately have been...well quite hormonal.  I feel great most of the time, but it seems very quickly that I get worked up over something.  It's been very helpful when I'm feeling overwhelmed, or ready to escape the house, to have something really fun to let my brain sit and think on for awhile.  I often just sit in the kitchen and think while looking around, much like Knut did for months in front of the fireplace.  He's been calling a lot of the shots in the recent "big" changes in the house (and making some decisions I disagreed with, but ultimately liked).  I sense that he's wanting to make sure that this is "my" dream kitchen, while insuring it isn't totally contrary to his style either.  This will be by far the biggest house project we've taken on, and will make the fireplace and bookshelves and painting, etc. look like small potatoes.

I feel like we couldn't possibly be old enough adults to be taking on a project this big.  We're big Dave Ramsey fans, and this project has been sorted through his system for a couple of years now.  It will push back other projects like the kids' bedrooms upstairs, and getting furniture in our dining room, and very possibly, replacing our van with nearly 210,000 miles on it.  Those were all projects I had thought we'd work towards first. I think this project may have been moved up because our view outside the kitchen is about to be "ruined" due to the electrical company forcing our hand to sell them some of our farm land so they can put some ugly power lines that pretty much mess up our pretty country view outside the kitchen.  Knut was a bit annoyed at that.  I think our consolation prize might be the ability to make the view on the inside of the kitchen a bit nicer.

However, when a man offers his wife a dishwasher, she takes it.  He will receive no argument on the order of projects on this one!  I'm pretty sure this means that every date we have for the next year or so will be the two of us (well...probably nursing baby in tow makes 3) walking around showrooms.  That makes our date planning pretty set for awhile.

Monday, October 8, 2012

I'm Blessed

I feel like I have so much to share this week, and will have to limit it to the highlights.

Last week I started hitting my "harvest wall."  I normally hit it at some point during corn harvest when I just start climbing the walls.  A friend from church visited me, and that was a big help.  By the weekend, though, I had had enough.  I needed to get out of the house alone.  Friday night I called Knut saying I was losing my mind with the kids, and I needed to go grocery shopping, but the idea of taking all 4 of them to run multiple errands was more than I thought I could handle.  He told me to call in a babysitter, which I frantically did Saturday morning.

So Saturday I got a few hours break as I got some chicken feed and groceries, and may have stopped by the yarn store with some donuts.  I felt like celebrating "the big news."

This last week, the digital preview for the magazine that my sweater pattern is to be published in came out.  To my great surprise, they put my sweater...on the cover.  I was so giddy about it, and poor Knut wanted to take me out to celebrate, but had to leave it at "when harvest is over..."

So I was out on my own to get a break.  It was good, but I sure had a ton to do when I got back.  I unpacked all the groceries, including a mega pack of 10lbs of ground beef I got at a super good price.  I was planning on using 3 of the lbs in a triple batch of chili that day, and freezing the rest.

We all had chili that night except Solveig and Elias didn't touch it.  Kids that age are pretty temperamental when it comes to food, so that's okay.

Well, about 3am on Sunday, David woke up saying his stomach hurt.  About 10 minutes later Silje started vomiting.  Then David.  Then they went in sync about every 20 minutes for awhile.  Knut was complaining that his stomach was not right at all, and promptly went downstairs to drink some of my Keifir as he says that makes his stomach feel better than anything these days.

My stomach felt fine, but I had a terrible migraine.  Handling the kids was terrible, and my head was pounding so much in between the episodes that I couldn't sleep at all.

How does this tie into blessings?  Well...I'm getting there.

At least it wasn't like last year when Knut and I and 3 of the 4 kids all had the stomach flu like last year.  Knut and I will always remember that as the worst day/night of both of our lives.  We agreed we're never allowed to get sick at the same time like that again.  No, we're pretty confident there was something about that new meat that wasn't right.  Knut looked online, and saw that some people get food poisoning via migraine, and thinks that my migraine was via the meat as well.

At any rate, I didn't get any sleep that night, and by 6am, I was in tears I was so tired, and the kids simply didn't want Knut, so he was sleeping the night away.

Well, here's the good part.  By morning, everyone was just fine.  Knut had the brilliant idea to ask his parents to pick up Solveig and Elias for church, since they were just fine and the rest of us needed to rest.  With his good sleep, he took care of the morning and let me sleep until 11am.  It was so wonderful.  I got so much sleep that morning!

When I woke up, there was coffee waiting for me, a warm fire in the fireplace, and some relaxing knitting next to Knut as he was reading some Chesterton.  Silje and David were watching t.v. because we knew they needed to rest and recover, and that seemed to be the best means.

So the house was quiet.

It was so quiet.  Knut and I just kept sighing with how wonderfully peaceful it was.  We got to talk for hours.  The fire was so cozy, and we got some much needed catch up "hanging out" after a week of passing in the night and snapping at each other during the day and being generally overwhelmed.

It was the best day ever.  I don't know if we would have had that opportunity for so much time together had we not skipped church because of the long night of bad meat.

That evening, the greater family agreed with us that Silje and David's sickness was due to food, and not some virus, and so we decided to move ahead with David's big birthday party.  It was a lot of fun.  I love that all of Knut's siblings live nearby now.  It makes it so much fun.  With a total of 11 cousins now (with the 12th in utero) it certainly is getting crazy, but I love these memories that my kids are making.

So, I'm blessed with an option of babysitters when I go crazy.
I'm blessed that I got to sleep for a long time Sunday morning.
I'm blessed I got some really, really great rest time with my husband.
I'm blessed with a fun extended family for my kids.
Oh, and I'm blessed to get my knitting on the cover of a magazine.  I totally didn't see that one coming.

How has God blessed you this last week? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Teacher Notes

This week we had the typical extreme weather that's common in our parts.  The early part of the week it was warm and lovely.  The last part of this week it's been cold and snowy.  My family is fond of both, so it's been a happy week.

It's normally hard to push my kids outside, but the early part of the week it was so lovely to be out there, that I merely had to suggest it.  That was fun that they wanted to be out there so much.  One day, I was really busy working on household and computer things in the morning, and decided to do school while the 2 little ones were napping.  We did it out in the kids' fort attached to the swingset in the yard!

They got such a kick out of that!  Well, David asked if he could do his math in the leaf pile, which of course I had to let him just so he could say he did it.  He made a little leaf pile chair for himself and promised me good handwriting.  He did not disappoint.  Well, I will say the kids did take longer to get through their work than normal, but it was a beautiful experience for all 3 of us, and I wouldn't take it back for anything.

It was one of those things that I just needed to do.  I needed to show all of us in this family why we are homeschooling.  I needed to stretch our wings and do something fun.  As we memorized different categories of taxonomy, surrounded by nature, all 3 of us were just smiling.  The kids spent time outside exploring far after our "seatwork" was completed.

Thursday, was our tricky day, but we pushed on.  A few factors really threw us off.  First, it was David's birthday!  He turned 7, and that seems unreal.  His party isn't until Sunday, but we had some plans for brownies after supper and opening packages from my family that came in the mail.

Anyway, he somehow thought he didn't have to do anything he didn't want to do on his birthday, which was untrue.  He thought the dog didn't need to be taken out.  He thought he didn't need to do his reading.  Really, he just complained all day how I was ruining his birthday.  That part was not fun.  He did end up doing everything he was supposed to, but math took him over an hour because he kept wandering off.  He kept saying he was done with a job, and I would show him he skipped half of it.  Reading was frustrating because he was struggling over words that he's known for over a year.  I could tell his brain was just not turned on.  That was frustrating for me.

Silje was not too much better that day.  We went head to head over handwriting, which ended up taking 45 minutes instead of the normal 15.  She was getting her cursive "a" backwards (a letter she's gotten perfectly in the past weeks), and I asked her to write it 5 times by itself, and then write it again in the word.  She kept saying "I did my best, why do I have to try again?"  I kept saying "Because we're going to make your best better.  We don't do school just to see what you can do, but teach you to do more.  I thank you for doing your best.  Now let's make it better together."  She was mad about it, and so her letters kept getting darker, and sloppier, so I made her do it again...and again.  Once she reigned in her annoyance, she got it perfectly.   

I feel like I deal with that quite often with her, which is another reason we homeschool.  Silje is so smart.  She's very smart.  She's used to understanding things the first time, and doing it right the first time.  That's her normal.  When she doesn't get something right the first time, she gets really flustered and frustrated.  My goal is to show her that it's okay to work at something.  It doesn't mean she's stupid or she's not capable.  Work is okay, and work is normal, whatever level you're at.

The good thing about that morning was that it snowed!  Nothing accumulated of course, as it's still too warm.  However, that was a welcome distraction from the craziness of that morning.  The other 2 factors making that morning off is I had a splitting headache.  Knut got up with Solveig that morning, but plopped her in our bed where I was sleeping while he got dressed.  Solveig in her silly state head butted me when I was laying there and it hurt so bad!  I had a headache all morning, and didn't feel I could take anything good for it.  It basically made me the grump of the day, which was tough on David's birthday.

The thing that saved us, is that harvest was delayed in the morning due to the snow and moisture.  That means Knut was home until lunch.  While I was a grump sipping coffee, Knut made pancakes for David with chocolate chips and sprinkles, and made the morning generally fun.  He's very much a morning person.  It's one of his few faults.  However, that morning, I think we needed it.

I did feel a bit of pressure having him around for school, though.  He wanted to observe and see what we were doing, and they were not doing well.  It was a birthday, and Daddy was around, and it was snowing and it was actually pretty chaotic due to the lack of concentration from the kids.  I wanted to show Knut that we do actually do school, and how hard we work, and so I just didn't let up.  It worked out fine, and we got a lot of good things done.  The kids weren't concentrating, but I could tell they were holding back any rebellion with Daddy's presence in the house.  I'm not sure how much the kids actually absorbed through that, though. 

I went through our curriculum schedule, and I was pleasantly surprised that we're actually not behind at all.  I've gotten it stuck in my head that we're doing terribly, and we'll need to make up a bunch.  I was worried that by just doing a bit day by day (as much as I've thought we could handle) we couldn't possibly be keeping up.  Turns out we were.  Whew! It turns out the only thing I wasn't doing was keeping on top of was the schedule, but we were keeping on top of the work, and I guess that's all that matters anyway.

So overall, it was a good week.  We had fun, we pushed through, we actually aren't behind like I thought we were.