I just said farewell to my sisters. The visit was a blur of laughter and coffee - an excellent combination. I sent Chris back to England with Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephew. My oldest niece is just a bit older than my daughter. We both thought she would enjoy a little sewing kit. I whipped up a little tote - super easy and fun tutorial here. Included in the kit are needles, a hoop and various colors of embroidery thread. We also chose a few of our favorite patterns and transferred them to square pieces of linen so she would be all ready to go.
I'm uncharacteristically productive lately.
I woke up this morning at 1:45 AM or so. The house was a mess when I went to bed, so I got up and cleaned and cleaned. It was fabulous. I also had the time to sit down and read all of Jenn's posts, Redeeming the Time... That was time well spent (ha!). And it got me to thinking about December and how much I mope through the Christmas season. I think it has to do with trying to pack in too much. My husband and I used to have these rather adventurous vacations - mountain biking and rafting and hiking and all kinds of things. But the best times, the times I treasure most were the times we just sat - the times we were still and peaceful. I always wish we had done more of that. There are so many tempting activities this time of year. Tomorrow alone: Mass, Advent wreath preparation, St. Andrew festival with gourmet, award winning haggis (really?) - and next week, the Nutcracker, a Pioneer Christmas party, and the Christmas Tree for the Birds... I want to do it all. But I shouldn't. In the end, the time spent just being with my children and my husband will bring me more peace and joy.
So I'm off to do some of that. You should go off to Jenn's and ponder how to budget your time during this busy time of year.
Except that sounded a bit bossy. It was just a suggestion really.
Watching my handsome husband play football with my brothers. Miss you Robert, again. :(
Obscene amounts of yummy food - including handmade egg rolls by my soon-to-be sister-in-law - very impressive. AND the traditional peach fried pies made by my mother.
Two gorgeous posters from the National Book Festival from sister #2. My son is all about Jan Brett right now, so these are particularly exciting.
And from my expat sister - three of the Harry Potter books in their original English. (I thought that joke was hilarious, but my husband didn't get it. It's funny, people. Laugh.) And lots of fun British goodies including something called Thornton's Mini Caramel Shortbread which are the best thing I've ever tasted ever ever ever.
(See all those empty spots? I ate them all. Or maybe I didn't, but I wanted to.)
And finally, leftover pecan pie for breakfast. What are you having?
ETA: I knew I was forgetting something! My daughter's first 5K. We ended up a family team with my sisters and parents, which was so much fun! Lucy did very well and we capped it all off with croissants and cappuccinos at the local French bakery. It was a great start to the day.
We frequently had baskets full of bread at dinner when I was a child - wicker baskets lined with little checked towels. I never adopted this practice as an adult which is odd, because I love it. So set out a pretty little basket lined with a dishtowel the other night and thought, "Oh how charming." My husband thought, "Oh what was the last thing you used that towel on?" The answer: probably scrubbing the floor or something else disgusting.
So I set about making a little basket liner. I traced a little turkey cookie cutter onto a flour sack towel I had lying around (clean and unused) cut into a 16 by 16 inch square, I think. I outlined it with a simple running stitch because I have other things to do.
I squared a fat quarter approximately 17.5 or 18 inches. I folded a clean edge under around the flour sack towel and stitched around the edge. I started off hand sewing a very pretty blanket stitch to attach the plaid backing but again, I have other things to do. You could hand sew the whole thing. You could, in fact, do whatever you want because I'm not the boss of you. The running stitch appealed to me because it's something a young girl could manage - gingerbread men or snowmen or something... a young girl could actually manage this whole project... but I did have fantasies involving French knots etc.
OK so - wouldn't this be the sweetest thing as a teacher or hostess gift? A basket, the liner, perhaps a scone mix and some tea for Christmas morning? I think this is what we will do for our teachers. Because I am a wee bit addicted. I think we will end up with a basket liner for every day of the year.
And well, you should probably iron it. See: other things to do.
It does get cold here, but rarely cold enough to justify turning on the heater (my dad will say that this isn't true and that I'm just cheap). But I do like to warm the beds occasionally before bed by slipping in a heating pad for a few minutes. I brought ours out the other night and wow, it was ugly. And it was dirty from hanging out under my bed for a year. It took me about 10 minutes to whip up a new one.
Ah, so much nicer. The main fabric is leftover from a blanket I'm making for my sister and it is a thick and squishy cotton. I'm glad I got just a bit more than I needed because I ended up loving it for myself.
I added the trim yesterday after looking at my giant pile o'fabric. Scraps of these two prints had ended up right next to one another and wouldn't you know it? They look beautiful together.
I said I wasn't going to do any handmade gifts because I am not very quick about getting them made. Hand sewn gifts require the delicate balance of money for materials, time for the project, and inspiration. I rarely have all three. I do better on working from my stash than actually planning a project. So I'm not committing to anything yet, but I will share the few ideas I have here this week. Of course me saying this will guarantee I will hit a sewing/writing block riiiight... now.
I made this little doll over the summer. It was all from an old pattern I found on Ebay. I've toyed with the Waldorf style dolls before, but this was far more fun to put together. It was time consuming - the embroidered linen clothes took as much thought as work but they are my favorite part. There are some things I would sew differently next time around, but as a prototype I kind of love her. The children do as well. She is a great size to carry around and love, smaller and sturdier than the Waldorf dolls I made.
My son just crawled into my lap and so time here is up. I wish I could write more poetically and thoughtfully and consistently but they come first. As it should be.
I'm watching The Cosby Show reruns at night. The show was funny when I was a child. It's terrifying now - like when Claire spells out to the children how to take a shower? I weep. I have seen children (who shall remain nameless) consistently get out of the bath tub and just stand there shivering for a very long time while my brain screams, "Why aren't you drying off? Dry off! Dry off! Dry off!" The show just hits a little too close to home now.
So here's a question for my friends who know stuff about writing and grammar and whatnot. I've noticed that British people say, "My family are..." I would say, "My family is..." This is consistent when speaking about groups of any kind. Anyone?
I always try to stay away from stories that are not mine to tell, but my sister had a friend who passed away this week. I had been praying for her for a few weeks. It puzzles me that I can feel so sad over the passing of someone I didn't know. Anyway, my friendly readers should know I'm not so great at talking about anything serious, but my sister sent me a link to this last night. Read it and offer up a prayer for Susan's friends and family.
I'm not feeling very inspired about writing this morning, but I carry on, for my readers could probably get on with their lives if I don't post, but I can't take that chance. No, I've no plans to proofread and this is written more conversationally than otherwise.
Our term ends on December 6th with a month long vacation book ended by St. Nicholas Day and Epiphany.
I would call our summer/fall term successful. Math is what is is. I think Lucy is working where she should be or a little above. It is rarely joyful, but also rarely difficult. Grammar and Spelling through CHC are joyful. I do love the bits of faith infused in the workbooks. They are not exactly challenging, but I don't think they need to be. Our literary studies are sufficient. I honestly got these workbooks to reassure myself that our i's were dotted etc. and to give some structure to the day. History is as random as ever and my most "unschoolish" subject. Science has been lived and studied. Our weekly nature walks sound rather inadequate but our conversations on these walks - ranging from seed dispersal methods to insect body structure and so much more - I'm not particularly concerned about her body of knowledge there. The monarch count project was a huge success. Our vacation taxonomy project was also beneficial and will be repeated every fall.
Our main focus this fall has been sacramental preparation. It has been wonderful. I have loved approaching faith studies with more structure and being more involved in our parish.
And Latin, of course. We are back to using Latina Christiana and love it. It is our favorite subject by far. My children could listen to it in the car for hours (frankly, a lot longer than I can). And my son! My baby boy who has only a slippery grasp on the English language can say the Doxology in Latin. But, but! He can't say the L sound, so it's completely adorable "saecuya, saecuyorum."
Other pursuits: Ballet and gymnastics, embroidery, and piano. It is so lovely to have music in the house. Even choppy versions of "Ode to Joy". My baby takes a science course for toddlers which is fantastic.
We haven't begun formal studies with my son, but he is attempting to match letters with letter sounds. He is learning to write them as well. And he's in this prime picture book phase. He brings me a stack of books every night. It's pure joy.
Hmm. I think that's it. We are reading "A Christmas Carol" which is above Lucy's head or so she claims. However, she is grasping more than she expected and is interested against her will.
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