Monday, February 29, 2016

Solving the Pencil Bag Issue for the Big Girl

One day it finally registered with me that Genevieve was carrying her school pencils in a ziploc bag, punctured by their points and ugly as those bags always are.  I asked her if she wanted me to make her a pencil bag.  Yes! And since she was playing with the baby, she gave me carte blanche to pick the fabrics, too.  Fun! I suddenly had an inspiration and asked her if it would be helpful if the bag was on a big elastic that held it in place on her binder. Oh yes!  Fortunately I had some frilly yellow elastic on hand - I thought I might see if I could make some sagging knee socks stay up.  But in the meantime, Genevieve has a sweet little pencil bag that is convenient and much nicer to look at than a filmy, pockmarked plastic bag.   

I realized that I haven't been blogging about my kitchen work.  I believe it's mostly because Phoebe is urgently hungry at meals, so I feel pleased to just get food on the table and into her mouth and I don't have much time to photograph anything (I like to put pictures with my posts).  I'm going to try to be more deliberate about that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I Try Boro

"Boro" is Japanese mending using a field of sashiko (embroidery) stitches.  Boro is quite trendy on Pinterest right now, but I just eyeballed it when Ben's other knee, next to the monster, wore through.

I think it turned out nicely and it was certainly easy.  I used red perle cotton, a random darning needle I had, and the same red fleece from the monster's mouth.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Legwarmers with Unpredictable Stripes

I have turned a corner with my knitting and am happily, confidently using double-pointed needles. I am knitting socks for Ben!  These legwarmers for Phoebe were key.

I used brown wool yarn that I had in my stash because I wasn't a confident knitter when I started.  I bought this yarn pre-kids when my husband and I took a lovely trip through a West Virginia state park; there were some local goods set up on a table in the hallway of the welcome center.  At that point, I was only laboriously knitting cotton dishcloths, but I bought that brown wool yarn because it was undyed and so satisfyingly nubby.

I actually knit it into a garter stitch scarf for my husband at one point, but it wasn't a success, so I ripped it out and wound it back up into a ball.  But these legwarmers are a success!

I measured Phoebe's legs and just made up the pattern as I went along, making them longer than necessary in the hopes that she can wear them next year.  I did an inch of 2x2 ribbing at the tops and bottoms with stockinette inbetween. The brown seemed too severe, so I added three fuschia stripes to each leg.  They are snuggly warm.

My dear sweet baby girl.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On a Snowy Tuesday Morning

I woke up at 6am and immediately looked out the window and went out to this computer to see if the children had a delay.  There seems to be rain and ice outside, but no delay.  I needed that delay - I wasn't prepared for this school morning.

In the kitchen, I whisk together a blueberry coffee cake and as it bakes, I take a shower. I run through morning scenarios as I shower because there are, as you will see, lots of variables. As I dress, I hear the baby starting to fuss and it sounds like she still is sick; she had a fever and a runny nose yesterday evening.

It's now 7am and time for the big kids to get up, so as I change Phoebe's diaper (she is crying and definitely feverish so I won't take her on the school walk), I'm exhorting them from the next room over to get up and get going because daddy is sick and sleeping and I need them to be helpful.

While I nurse Phoebe on the sofa, the coffee cake timer goes off and she wails as I set her down on the kitchen floor to check the cake.  Back in the oven it goes and back to the sofa for Phoebe and me.  By this time, Ben and Genevieve are struggling downstairs and mostly awake.  Phoebe fusses with her toys in the kitchen as I make coffee, put away the clean dishes in the dish drainer, and plate coffee cake for the big kids and me, pouring milk (a dash of coffee for Genevieve, please).  I stand at the counter eating bites of cake as I start to pack lunches.  I leave the children in the kitchen to fetch some foccacia and brownies from the freezer in the basement; the sidewalk is turning slick and the rain has turned to heavy snow.  In the kitchen, I peel two clementines for the big kids' lunches and urge them to hurry, to clear their breakfast spots.

I rouse my husband long enough to ask him if he wants to walk the big kids to school or stay home with the sick baby; he was up until 3am meeting a work deadline and he is fighting a cold himself.  He opts to stay home.

It's now 7:30 and Phoebe is very fussy.  I set her up in her high chair and give her a few cheerios.  I mix some yogurt with a squirt of broccoli/pear/peas from a baby food pouch (man, I love that convenience).  I slice more coffee cake, grab my coffee, and sit down at the dining room table with her.  I am surprised by her appetite because she is clearly sick.  I share my coffee cake with her, picking it apart for the cake and blueberries, keeping the nuts on my side.  She is especially fond of the blueberries and picking cheerios off my fork.  I yell up to the big kids to keep dressing because I hear a toy car going across the floor.

Phoebe notices the snow outside the dining room window; she is mesmerized.  I clean her up and we stand at the window while I tell her about snow.  I plunk her on the bed next to her daddy, surrounding her with pillows and toys.

The big kids are now milling around downstairs - I remind Ben to put socks on and he dashes upstairs again.  We cram into the bathroom for teeth brushing, hair brushing, face washing and of course a fight breaks out; I finish my teeth at the kitchen sink and ignore them.  They put on their snow pants, boots, coats, and put their lunches in their back packs.  Genevieve heads out to feed her rabbit, Ben goes to the front porch to wait, and I race around covering the coffee cake, unplugging the coffee, picking up cheerios off the floor, wiping the high chair again and putting it away, checking one more time if there's a snow delay, etc. etc.

We leave for school at 8:20 (this is late), walking a half mile across town.  It's fun, that walk; we chat and I hold Genevieve's bare hand in my mittened one and Ben throws a few snowballs, careful of cars and pedestrians (good boy!). At school, we kiss and hug and I hurry home.  My husband has brought Phoebe out on the sofa to snuggle as she is getting fussy for her morning nap.  He returns to bed and I change her diaper and check her temperature; it's a low-grade fever at this point.

She bounces in her johnny-jumper while I blow dry my hair.  As I return my things to the bedroom, Phoebe on my hip, I manage to smash my finger in the catch of the pocket door as I whirl it closed.  I am whimpering, Phoebe is crying.  I sit her down so I can bandage my bloody finger, lamenting my clumsiness.

I cuddle Phoebe on the sofa and nurse her again, an extra nursing because she is sick.  She struggles with her stuffy nose.  When she is peaceful, I put her in her crib for her nap.

Downstairs, it is 9am and I hurriedly pack my market cart, thankful I made my list yesterday. I put my snow clothes on again and walk down to market.  I fill my cart and walk home.  It is 10am.
The market haul; I'm not taking the time to style it for a photo.  I'm not that kind of blogger.

The house is quiet.  I hang up my dripping coat, bag up the produce, lay out chick peas and beets to roast later, refrigerate the leftover coffee, and sit down to write this post.

I want these details of a fairly ordinary morning at this time in my life.  Let it stand on the record that family life is a lot of work, that I am happy and efficient and busy.  I find times to catch my breath (like this post) and other times I am just exhausted and barely kind to my family.  I also want to remind myself that ordinary family life is consuming right now, even though the general vibe I get in society is that I'm a lightweight, that parenting and housekeeping shouldn't occupy all my time and energy; I don't believe that, but it's tiring to defend myself. The children grow so fast, so I will be with them now and later have outside commitments and paying jobs.  The baby is about to wake up.  I am ravenous.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Monster and a Robot for Ben

A hole appeared in the knee of a nice pair of Ben's jeans.

 I wondered if he would like a monster face there, something I had seen on Pinterest.  He was charmed, and I amused myself one Sunday afternoon with needle, thread, and fabric scraps. 

I did the patch entirely by hand so I didn't have to rip open the side seams to get the leg into my sewing machine.  It was not as difficult to hand-sew through denim as I thought.  We love Ben's monster, and he often gets compliments when he wears the jeans; in fact, he styled himself on Sunday with a sweater vest, red bow tie, (orange snow boots - whoops, forgot the penny loafers at home), and his monster-knee jeans.

The robot came about because I bought Ben a plain green sweatshirt at the thrift store and offered to embellish it for him.  He drew a robot for me, which I had to modify to sew, which did not please him, so we had to go back and forth several times at the drawing board.

I don't enjoy looking at the final result as much as he does.  He is so pleased that his robot has sunglasses.  

I am just pleased to have so much fun sewing things for my boy that he loves.