Thursday, December 23, 2010

Birthday and Baking

Happy Birthday to Isaac! I can't believe he turns 2 today. Though he is the baby of the family, he definitely is NOT a baby anymore!

Here is a couple of weeks old:

Here is a recent pic:

I love that newborn snuggle stage, but honestly, I have to say, that every age has its fun points. What a joy to see his soulful eyes light up in laughter, or when he discovers something new. I love to watch him study things over and watch how he is so dexterous! He has excellent fine motor skills.

This morning Jerusha and I made Isaac's birthday cake. Then I wrapped his gift and we went about our day.

Esther was mixing up some bread dough and I realized how cozy and nice it was to have us girls in the kitchen, working together. Elizabeth was busy washing breakfast dishes, too.

Speaking of Esther, she took on the task of making a gingerbread house... from scratch. I offered to get her one of those kits from Target, but she just looked at me scornfully and said, "I'll do it from scratch, thank you." Look out Martha Stewart!

Here is the end product, which came out pretty well at first. She finished yesterday before church, but when we got back we saw the roof had collapsed and knocked down part of a wall. She and Dale tried to fix it, but it didn't hold very well. This morning more of the wall was down. I don't know what happened, but my guess is that more frosting was needed to glue it all together. Overall though, it was an excellent first attempt!

Since last January I have been on a journey to lose some weight, but more than that to get into a habit of healthier living. I have recently bought a Heart Rate Monitor as a reward to myself for losing over 30lbs. It will help me more accurately gauge how many calories I am burning during a workout, and while going about my usual routines. That way, I can be sure not to overestimate how many calories I need to consume.

I have learned that no matter what approach you take to losing weight, it boils down to the math. You can mess around with carbs all you want. You can go on specialty diets (which I do NOT recommend). But it is very simple... you have to burn more calories than you take in. I also have learned it is a whole lot easier to put on weight than to take it off. Most importantly I learned NOT to diet, but to change my lifestyle so that it is healthier.

One of the side effects to this healthier lifestyle is that the clothes in my closet have become way too big for the most part. Earlier this fall I went through and got rid of two large garbage bags of clothes that no longer fit. Over the summer I had to replace a couple of jean skirts. Now my favorite black and khaki skirts no longer even came close to fitting, so I had to replace those in a size I haven't worn since I had the twins. That's 13 years! I also got a new top and stylish scarf with a gift certificate my mother in law gave me for Christmas. Talk about good timing! anyway, I hate to toot my own horn, but here is the "new" me:

I still have a little ways to go, but I'm so excited to be feeling energetic and slimmer! I have no plans to revert away from all I am learning. It is a process, but at least things are going in the right direction.

Oh, I got my new skirts from New Creation Apparel. I recommend them for affordable, modest, stylish clothing. Their sizing charts are right on. When they say the waist is say, 32, then it really is a 32" waist. I measured myself at home to make sure I got the right size, and it was exactly as they advertised. Also, I ordered the skirts on Monday afternoon, and it got here Wednesday afternoon... and that during the busy holiday season. So, two thumbs up for New Creation Apparel!

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Isaac's BSJ

I guess technically it is a TSJ... Toddler Surprise Jacket. :) I just finished this yesterday. I really enjoy the BSJ pattern, and may try to upsize it for my 10 year old son. The directions I have give the formula for doing that, I just haven't worked up enough courage to tackle the math. It isn't that complicated, but I don't want to make a large sweater only to find it it is way off. Of course, one of the benefits to having a large family is that if it doesn't fit Josiah, it will either fit Caleb or will be ready for Caleb to grow into it.

Speaking of Caleb, I started on a simple vest for him with some wonderful yarn I got from Knit Picks. It is City Tweed, in Jacguard. It is gorgeous to look at and work with. I have plans and yarn to make a matching one for Isaac. I was thinking originally of making one for Josiah too, but the pattern doesn't go up to his size, and I'm not comfortable altering knitting patterns too much yet.

Anyway, here is Isaac's new sweater... all ready to wear!

Also, I finished up another secret project. I can't post about it here, but if you are on Ravelry, you can catch of glimpse of it there.

Left on my "to do" list before the holiday is a ton of wrapping. Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Things are really getting Christmassy here! Here is some proof that the holiday spirit is prevailing:

Last night we decorated our little Charlie Brown tree.

Ummm..... that's not the tree.

Oh yeah, so innocent looking. Too bad my halo is held up with horns.

Okay... those aren't trees either. Really, we do know what a tree is.

Yeah, I know... not a tree either. What a face. Only a mother could love it.

We did finally get around to the tree, after a lot more goofing around from which I will spare you.... the finished product looked something like this:

I say "something like" because after about an hour Isaac decided to rearrange some of the ornaments, then I saw evidence of Pumpkin doing the same this morning.

Last Saturday the kids treated Dale and I to a "date night". Pizza was on the menu, but they did up the kitchen like a little restaurant. They switched around the big table and little table, so that we could have our own little romantic spot in the side of the kitchen.

We had a lovely pizza dinner with some sparkling cider, and were waited on hand and foot. In fact, when I got up to refill my own water, I was thoroughly scolded by the maitre'd.

Part of our decorations is a little bouquet of mistletoe. Fair warning to all, if you are standing under it, you are fair game. Isaac found that out last night.

One of the kids' favorite decorations is our little Christmas Village.

I have been working diligently on my projects and putting in every spare moment. I am glad to say that Isaac's birthday quilt is finished... two days ahead of time! I just need to wrap it.

The rest of the week we have some special baking to do (oh, there goes my diet! Oh no! LOL) and a TON of wrapping to finish up. Overall, things are on schedule and though I have one little secret project to finish up, I'm feeling much less stressed than I was about a week ago. I'm even getting some non-holiday sewing and knitting done during my down times.

I'm still fighting this throat cold, but overall I think it is getting better. Hopefully. The coughing is calming down some, which is so exhausting when you spend most of your time sounding like you are hacking up a lung. It isn't in my bronchial tubes at all, just all in my throat, which makes it sound horrendous.

Last Sunday the kids and Dale sung a nice special at church. I tried all day yesterday to post the video I took of it but cannot get it to work. After trying several different tactics from the laptop and desktop computers, I believe the problem is on Bloggers end, and not mine. I will try again posting it in the future. They did a really good job! Benjamin played guitar, Elizabeth and Josiah played recorders, Esther played violin, and the remainder bodies sang, except for me, who bowed out from throat troubles. This mama was very proud of her brood! I'll keep trying to get the video on, but I may have to resort to showing it to grandparents when they come visiting, and stop hiding in the south. :P

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

Bah Humbug.

I've been very Scrooge-y here lately. I'm counting down the days until Christmas, but not with anticipation. I'm working on all my projects, but to me, they are just one more thing to cross off the list of things to do.

Before I go any further with this post, let me just say that our trip to the Animal shelter last week yeilded a small, 10 month old orange kitty which we adopted and named Pumpkin Truffle.

Pumpkin is still a bit skitterish, but is settling in well enough. Mattan was a "percher" but Pumpkin is what I call a "duck and hide" kitty. When he wants to relax, he likes to get under our bed and snooze. At night, when I am locked in my room knitting on... er... something.... Pumpkin likes to curl up in my lap. Usually he'll snooze a bit, but lately he has been loosening up a lot and now attacks that horrible yarn that keeps tapping him on the ears or back while I am stitching away. The other day I was knitting along and came to the end. Only there wasn't supposed to be an end to the yarn there. That striped kitty (who we really should have named Neelix, really, but the kids wouldn't have understood that) bit the yarn in two! Little stinker. It was good yarn too. Oh well... such are the hazards of owning a cat I guess.

He is quite lovey-dovey once he becomes comfortable with you. He is absolutely terrified of Isaac. He refuses to be in the same room as that loud, unpredictable two legged creature. He is slowly warming up to the others, but it is going to take a while. The kids all agree (and so do I, but don't tell them that!) that it is nice to have a kitty in the house again.

This week we have kicked it all into high gear. Monday, we made home made Christmas cards. Tuesday we did our annual candy making. Wednesday we painted some wooden ornaments I got on sale at JoAnn's last weekend. The kids were all gung-ho on decorating Monday, as well, so we split it all up into teams and did it. It didn't take long.

Christmas music is playing, presents are getting made, some are even getting wrapped, and I think I am finally getting a little bit into the spirit of things. I joked with Dale that by the time I feel like I'm in the Christmas spirit it will be Easter!

I can't share too much of what I have been up to since some of my readers need to be kept in the dark for nine more days. :D I can tell you that Isaac's quilt is coming along fabulously. I absolutely love the fabrics I picked out. I have the top all done, and the back prepped, and was going to get it all basted this afternoon while Isaac was sleeping only to find I didn't have batting. Ugh. I was just at JoAnn's Saturday for crying out loud! Why didn't I think to get batting? I have a wee little bit, not even enough to piece together to make a big enough piece for the crib quilt.

I went to start getting the cards we made all filled out. I like to use my fancy calligraphy pen set to make it look extra special, but wouldn't you know it, the set is MIA? I looked through drawers, shelves, under desks, then the kids looked, but to no avail. I may have to purchase another set.

Feeling rather frustrated over the delays in what I really NEED to get done NOW, I decided to just start piecing another quilt. Ahhh.... stress relief therapy. This one is overdue for my newest nephew. It won't be ready to send with the Christmas gifts, but should be done shortly after the new year.

Other sundry secret projects are coming along on schedule, with minor glitches that come with crafting anything.

Oh, did I mention the shopping is all done? Esther and I finished it up last weekend. I was breathing a sigh of relief when I realized that just because the shopping was over, that didn't mean my job was done. AT that time I still had cards to make, candy to make, ornaments to paint decorating to do (all done, as previously stated), but now I need to finish Isaac's quilt, a couple of other little gifts, and wrap like crazy. Some of it will have to be wrapped and ready to get in the mail by this Saturday.

While we were at the mall (gasp.. faint... jaw drop... I actually braved the mall! In December! Those of you who know me know I am NOT a mall rat, and stay away from them usually like they were the plaque), we stopped at a Subway for a very late lunch. I needed a break and a chance to revamp my list, check it twice, figure out who has been naughty or nice... oh wait, that isn't my job!

While we were eating we were regaled by a young teen group playing Christmas music. This live band would have been more pleasant to listen to if the accompanying instruments were softer. Why they had the sound so loud on the guitars, I'll never know. What little I heard from the vocalists, made me think that they had nice voices, but you absolutely could not make out the words at all, and most of the time the singer was totally overpowered. When we did hear her, she hit a good half of the notes off key.

I know, it sounds like a Scrooge type comment. But I couldn't help it. Few things irritate me more than performers being off key and overpowered by instruments. And the poor teen group got my bad review when we got home, because they were inferior by comparison.

What happened was that when Esther and I got home, Benjamin and Elizabeth and Josiah had the pizza made, and the table set with candles like a little pizza bistro. We were waited on for every little thing we wanted. It was so sweet! The pizza was delicious (kudos to Chez Ben). As we were finishing up, Benjamin brought up his guitar and he played while Elizabeth sang a few folks songs and a couple of hymns.

I have to say, I was proud of them. Now there is a gal that can sing on key! Even when her big brother flubs up on the guitar.

Not that I'm biased. :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY December 13th...

Outside my window... temperatures have dropped and we are getting some snow!

I am thinking... that sleep is highly overrated and that I'll be burning the candle at both ends AND the middle until Christmas.

I am thankful for... Helpful hands.

From the learning rooms... Studying Albert Einstein, doing a unit study on Huckleberry Finn, music practice, and all the regular stuff.

From the kitchen... Supper in the crock pot, bread raising, and tomorrow we'll be making candy.

I am wearing... jean skirt, t-shirt, and my cranberry tweedy type sweater.

I am creating... Oooh, I can tell anyone that yet. :D

I am going... to hopefully get into the holiday spirit soon.

I am reading... the second book in the "39 Clues" series the kids like.

I am hoping... to get lots of time to work on Isaac's quilt this week.

I am hearing... washer and dryer running, recorders, guitar, and piano practice going on.

Around the house... Decorating (hopefully!), lots of laundry, and general picking up, organizational tasks, cleaning out ashes from the woodstove.

One of my favorite things... being serenaded by my kids.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Get and decorate a tree, get all the "away" gifts sent, cards made, candy made, and a secret project or two done.

Comfy-Cozy Crazy sock!

For guidelines go to:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wolf Lapbook Unit Study

I know I have said it before and I'll say it again: I love lap book studies! You can make them as involved or basic as you want them. More writing, or less. More pictures or less. More manipulatives or less.

We just finished a lap book on Wolves. It was a quickie, and took us about a week and a half to do. We did a very basic approach. No fancy folds but lots of learning. I got the pack on sale at CurrClick this past summer.

I had a ton of links I looked up too. One of the favorite things to this unit study for the kids was making wolf masks. In the first pic Esther couldn't find hers, but of course, found it right after the pic was taken. That is why she is privileged with a solo shot. :)

Here are some links we used, including the one with the template for the masks. There is adult and child sized available.

Nova Online Wolf Howling Audio

Discovery Wolf Facts and some Short Videos

Kids National Geographic Grey Wolves

National Geographic Wolf Pictures

How to Draw a Wolf and Free Coloring Pages

Wolf Notebooking Paper

Happy Learning!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY December 6th, 2010

Outside my window... a nice dusting of snow an it is wintry cold. Yay!

I am thinking... "Now where did I leave off on Isaac's quilt?"

I am thankful for... a husband who puts up with my bad moods.

From the learning rooms... Finishing up our Wolf lapbooks, continuing with Huck Finn lit study, and all the regs.

From the kitchen... Ham in the crock pot for supper. Mmmmm!

I am wearing... Olive green corduroy skirt, embroidered pink fleece pull over, and .. believe it or not... LONG JOHNS!!! Woot!

I am creating... a gift for Dale, and a quilt for Isaac.

I am going... to take Benjamin to the Ortho's Friday morning to fix a broken wired on his braces. (Already! Ack... methinks it is going to be a long few years with these braces.)

I am reading... the second book in the 39 Clues series.

I am hoping... that Isaac starts getting to sleep earlier.

I am hearing... general chitter chatter from the kids.

Around the house... Decorating this week!

One of my favorite things... January 1st. Feels like time to settle in and cozy up for the winter.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Decorating the house and church, trip to the orthodontist's, oh, and going to the animal shelter in town.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

For Guidelines go to:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pressing On...

We are trying to get back to business here. After Thursday we were all moping around (except Dale... he felt sorry for Mattan but more so for the kids because of their sadness)and trying to occupy our time while we got over the shock. We still look for him from time to time, and more than once a couple of us has gone to do the door to call him at the accustomed times.

The promise of a new kitty has softened the blow, and we got online together to look up the local SPCA. They had some pictures of kittens they have available. I called to ask some questions. After a brief discussion with Dale he said, "Well, you've done all the homework. All we have to do now is find a time to get down there as a family during their open hours."

We are hoping to be able to do that this week. Maybe by the weekend we'll have a new addition to our family.

Meanwhile, I hit the sewing pile. Our new church outfits are done, after a long delay. I was hoping to have them done before vacation, but alas, I just plain ran out of time.

From my hand:
Jerusha's jumper and blouse
Esther's skirt
Elizabeth's skirt

From Lilies of the Field:
Esther's blouse
Elizabeth's blouse
My blouse

Next up..... working on Isaac's quilt for his 2nd birthday on the 23rd. Eeeek!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Roller Coaster Week

You would think that after completing the NaNo challenge that I would be flying high for a while. I was cruising at a high altitude for a few day, but Thursday the whole family was dealt an unexpected blow that sobered us all up quickly.

Isaac hasn't been sleeping very well, and has been pulling some very late/early hours. Thursday morning around 1, just as we got Isaac asleep, the cat wanted to go out. He was meowing by the door, and I knew if I didn't let him out he'd be meowing up and down the hallway for the rest of the night.

The next morning after Dale went to work I called for Mattan, and he didn't come. No biggie. That was somewhat typical. Throughout the morning one of the kids would call for him from time to time. He didn't appear, and as the day wore I got worried. Being gone for more than twelve hours without poking his nose in was not his style. I got especially worried when I saw the neighbor's cat, Target, and arch enemy of Mattan, come strutting across our yard will a feline like smile on his face. Cats will try and dominate another cat's territory when they know the other cat is out of the picture.

Also, Tabby, Mattan's special friend, was hanging around a lot, meowing and waiting for Mattan.

I have to say that deep down I knew this wasn't going to end well, but I tried to downplay it to the kids. Esther is our resident cat expert, and knew something was up too.

We had lunch, still no Mattan. I curled up with Isaac,who actually slept,and tried to rest. Around 2, I heard the phone ring. I must have drifted off because the next thing I knew, Esther was in my room with the phone.

"It's Benjamin... he's with Tim. He said to hand you the phone whether you are asleep or not."

He found Mattan. Actually, Tim found Mattan. Benjamin went and confirmed it was our cat. He was up by the main road. Apparently he got hit by a vehicle during the night. It looked like he got hit in the head. Benjamin got a box, brought Mattan home, and buried him at the edge of the property.

So, we are adapting. I still look out the window looking for Mattan crossing the yard. Tabby is still hanging around meowing for him. And suddenly, all the cats in the neighborhood he lorded over feel at liberty to congregate in our yard again. The kids and I keep glancing at his usual favorite spots around the house and expect to see him there. He was about a year and a half old, but we have lots of fond memories.

To help fill the gap in our family, we are looking into adopting another one from the SPCA nearby. The kids are trying to talk Dale into getting two. We'll see how that works!

A week that started out so well has ended in sadness.

Goodbye Mattan, we love you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Been There, Done That, Bought the T-Shirt

Guess what?

I did it! I managed to get in a lot writing yesterday, despite lots of interruptions. However, even those were a blessing as they gave me some ideas for dialogue and events in my sad little tale.

I made the challenge! I hit 50K while Isaac was napping. The story wasn't over yet, but I was close, and was able to finish it by supper.

NaNoWriMo challenge?

Been there, Done that, bought the T-shirt.


After your word count is validated a new page on the NaNoWriMo site opens up just for "winners". You get to download buttons, a certificate, and you can purchase t-shirts declaring your winning status for 2010. I had to do it. I couldn't resist!

I am already thinking ahead to next year. I think I will try and get an outline of sorts started and some research. The rules are you can't start writing the actual story before Nov. 1. Outlines, research,interviews,etc, are allowed before then. I've always wanted to write a book. Now I can say I have. :D

Don't I sound cool, calm, blase, non-chalant?

Ha! I probably won't have to do any exercise today for all the "goodie goodie" dancing I am doing.

Meanwhile... the sewing pile is calling me and I need to get busy. Back to your regularly scheduled life.