Homespun Hat

The weather seems to be breaking.  The spring peepers are singing, the birds are chirping, and I’m finally getting around to knitting Leif’s winter hat.  Ahhh well.

He asked for a blue hat with a point, and he wanted me to spin the yarn. :-)  What can I say, the kid knows what he wants!

Blue Food Coloring, Naturally!

Every year, for my kids birthdays, I make their cake… whatever kind of cake they want.  I’ve made unicorn heads, construction sites, Ariel the mermaid sitting on an island floating in the water, and more mermaids….. you name it.  It’s always a fun challenge.  But, this year when Leif requested a Perry the Platypus cake I was stumped.  How was I to recreate a little platypus with aqua blue fur without using artificial food coloring?  There is just no good natural blue.  Cabbage can be boiled down, but that ends up being more pale blue/grey.  Blueberries are actually purple.  Then I found these:  Butterfly Pea Flowers.  They grow on vines native to Southeast Asia and are known for their vibrant blue color.  When steeped in hot water, they color the water a beautiful blue… the perfect blue for Perry the Platypus.

My hope was that the flowers could be infused in oil, too.  Then I could infuse some coconut oil and use the oil in the frosting.  But, no such luck.  The color didn’t transfer to the oil at all.  I heated them in coconut milk and got a light blue, but not the striking blue I was looking for.

Butterfly Pea Flowers infused in coconut milk.

Butterfly Pea Flowers infused in Rum…. just for the hell of it!

Butterfly Pea Flowers infused in boiling water.

So, I decided to infuse them in water, making a very dark blue with lots of flowers.  I put this blue water over about 6 cups of coconut.  I used enough water to coat the coconut, but not drown it.  Then dried the coconut in the oven at 130 degrees stirring it every 30 minutes.  I think it took about 3 1/2 hours to dry out completely.

Blue coconut!

And while I was soaking things in this lovely blue water, I decided to throw some hard boiled eggs in there.  I soaked these for 2 days before the birthday party so that I could make some blue deviled eggs!

Eggs in Butterfly Pea Flower water.

Here are a few other pictures of the process of creating Perry:

I smushed together some Sunbutter Crunch bars to form a bill.

I connected two Do More Bars with a tooth pick for the tail

Here’s the pre-frosting set up. The front limbs were also made from Sunbutter bars and the feet from peach gummy candies.

And here’s Perry.  I put some of the coconut in the frosting as well as coating the whole cake with it after it was frosted.  It’s certainly not as blue as the real Perry, but I think it turned out pretty dang good!

Leif was thoroughly satisfied with his cake!

Oh, and with his blue eggs!

 

 

Max the Marvelous and Magnificent

Crossed the rainbow bridge after 15 years of faithful friendship and love.

August 25, 1997 – February 21, 2013

Max the Marvelous and Magnificent…

  …was never opposed to being carried around.  In fact, he preferred that his paws never touch the ground

…was a fabulous snuggler

…was a very snappy dresser

… was never afraid to speak his mind

endured was with us through two home births

Watching from the bathroom as we weighed Kaia in our room.

hanging out on the stairs outside of our room while I labored with Leif.

…knew how to relax

… was fiercely protected by his lady love

(sometimes, a little too fiercly)

…had a great sense of humor

… chose me to be his mother

When I was deciding which kitten to adopt, Max climbed up my shirt and flopped down into my hand, purring, and promptly fell asleep. I knew he’d claimed me as his. He was a little over a month old.

I already miss you dearly , Max!!

Filling our days

We seem to have no trouble filling our days with fun indoor activities while the weather is cold outside.  I’m glad.  I don’t care to hear the kids moan, “I’m bored!” (I’m sure my mother felt the same way about me :-)

We’ve been writing letters and numbers in shaving cream on a cookie sheet….. and on his pants, and on his arms, and on his sweater, and on his socks…. (Kaia got into it, too, writing in cursive).

 

Right now, it’s actually easier for her to write in shaving cream than on paper.  The kittens are a little too interested in her wiggling pencil.

 

Kaia and I took a spinning class a few weeks ago and I’m having a blast practicing.  A friend let me borrow her wheel and this is what I made today.  It’s my second skein.  Next, Leif says I have to spin some bright blue yarn so I can knit him a Perry the Platypus hat.

 

 

 

Being a Trackhoe

I imagine I’m not the only mom who has to reinforce the knees of her child’s pants because said child spends most of his time on his ‘tracks’ pretending to be a trackhoe.  Leif was more than excited to unwrap his new trackhoe shirt and wouldn’t take it off for three days!  It was a really simple project.  I pulled up  trackhoe images from the internet and found one that I liked.  Then I used a pencil to draw it on the shirt.  I used black fabric paint to outline the image and let it dry for the night.  Then I went back and filled it in with color (again using fabric paint).  Easy peasy!

Hello 2013 and repurposing your tree

Happy New Year my loyal readers!  I hope you have all had joyous holidays!!

We have had a very slow and relaxed time here in the hollar reading books, knitting, playing family games, snuggling kittens…  I felt so lazy :-)  It’s very hard for me to just chill.

Speaking of kittens, they have been fitting in very well around here.  In fact, last night I found all four cats snuggling on the couch and no one was hissing about it!  There has been a bit of a competition for the only sleeping basket, though.

Cookie Dough and Oreo fit in there nicely together.   It’s a great spot for snuggling and for practicing their ninja fighting skills on each other.

Max, however, felt it was his job to show the little guys how he could make himself into a perfect circle.

Of course, Isabella wanted in on the action.  Max wasn’t too sure about this.

So far, there is no clear winner in the Basket Wars.  Luckily, those not in the basket are finding other comfortable ways to get some sleep.  Well, maybe not so comfortable.

Meowwww!  Ninja attack move #286.

Oh yes, repurposing your holiday trees.  Some years we will get a tree with a root ball so that we can plant it in the yard when the holidays are over.  This year, we got a cut tree and decided to recycle it by making fragrant pine fire-starting bundles.  Everyone helped snip branches, arrange, and tie the bundles.  Kaia even cleaned out the lint trap in the dryer and stuffed some lint into each bundle (lint is a great fire starter).

Many Blessings in the New Year!

Any plans for the year to come?

So proud

So we have these two adorable foster kittens, right?

Well, Kaia has decided that she needs to keep them and that they need to be hers.  She has been on a campaign to convince us of why this is a good idea.  She wrote lists of the pros and cons of adding two kittens to our family.  She debated all the cons:  asking neighbors if they would be ok watching extra animals when we are out of town, offering to help feed the animals and clean the litter boxes.  And today, she sat out in front of our local grocer and played her penny whistle to earn money.

Her sign says “Your generosity will help me adopt two kittens”  She made over $100 in one hour!  I’m so proud of my little introverted child.  She’s really stepped into new and scary situations lately and has done so with grace. (And a wee bit of sass, as you’ll see at the end of the video.)

A little boys dream

We are having our horribly rutted and bumpy road redone… Finally!  I’m so excited.  But even more excited than me is my little construction-obsessed boy.  He would have stayed out there all day watching the backhoe dig if I’d let him.

In case you can’t tell, his left hand is his stabilizer and his right hand is his bucket.

Fall

Corn necklaces

Halloween Family Night with home made treats and family games.  (Twix, toffee, butterfingers, and fruit drops… none tasted the like store brand, but they were all yummy!)

Happy Sunshine Kitties

 

New winter hats

Spy Training

Handstands

Crystal vase and bowl mushrooms

And we are only half way through Fall!!!

The Blue Enchantress

Kaia has become smitten with the Juniper series by Monica Furlong.  She decided, like the main character in the first book, that she wanted to create her own cloak.  Over the past month and a half, she has been cutting, stitching, harvesting, and producing an amazing creation.

Of course, we didn’t plan to sheer the sheep and weave the wool, like Juniper did.  We just went to Jo Ann’s fabric store and bought some :-)  But, she did harvest herbs from our land to stuff in the secret pockets. (Lavender, thyme, lambs ear, rose petals, and a few others)

 

And she used a button that Toby made for her out of Maple and Black Walnut.

And she made the button loop out of yarn that a friend of ours spun from her angora bunny.

I think it’s fabulous and I’m so proud of her!  She’s quite a lady!!

Learning his name

Leif is very interested in his alphabet.  He’s often telling me things like, “Hey, Mom, fish starts with ffff, fff, ‘F'”.  And he’s super excited about writing his name.  He’s still young and working on his hand/eye coordination, and keeping a steady hand.  So, I started by writing his name on a chalk board and having him trace it with water (we used a little wooden stick with a sponge on the end that we got at a craft store).  The smiley faces helped him remember where to start his letter.

He noticed that we were writing his name in all capital letters and wanted to do it “the right way”.  Smiley faces didn’t work as well here.  So, I used little green dots as starting points instead.

Yes, it was a very exciting morning!

ABC Game

Leif is ecstatic about school this year.  Every day, including weekends, he asks me when we are going to do his school work.  He’s like a little puppy who needs to have a task :-)

Today, I made him an ABC Game.  I spread out his ABC deck in alphabetical order.  Then he picked a card from out of a bag.  The cards were lower and upper case ABC’s.  He would tell me the name of the letter and the sounds it makes, then match it to the ones that were on the floor.  He LOVED it!  We even got the remote controlled cars into it, rolling the next card to him… Ahhhh, the simple things :-)

 

Settling in

We’ve had a wonderfully full summer with activities to keep us very busy.  But, with perfect  timing, the weather has started to turn a bit cooler just as we are beginning to settle in to our school year and we are feeling ourselves begin to calm down a bit.

Leif LOVES his ‘school’ time.  He fusses when I put the books away.  He and Kaia spent an hour playing with his new wooden letters yesterday.  I sat and knit while she did the lesson for me :-)

We’ve been putting up our harvests:

Raspberry/Elderberry Mead, Raspberry Jam with chocolate mint, Raspberries and Peaches in a light syrup, Peach/Apple Hard Cider, Cinnamon Peaches, Peach/Lavender Butter, Green Beans, Pickled Green Beans…

Peaches and Raspberries in a light syrup

And watching our little foster kitties grow big and strong (and very mischievous!)

Wilbur at maybe 3 weeks old

Little bellies getting bigger

Discovering new activities!

Kaia is finishing up a class on stage make up

Looking Older

Zombie Horror Makeup

on the left is 'plump', on the right is 'thin'

This was from Glamour day

We’ve been visiting farms and just enjoying each other’s company.

I have a general feeling of excitement about this Fall without any particular reason why.  I love this time of year. :-)

What have you been up to?

 

Grammy

My grandmother and mother

My grandmother passed away on July 20th, just one week shy of her 91st birthday.  She had been having a very hard time these past few years so it was a blessing.  I never lived near my grandmother and didn’t know her as well as I would have liked.  But I remember always being very excited to visit her.  We’d pull into the drive way and she would be at the door waiting to give a hug so big and strong that you wondered if she would let go of you in time to catch your breath.  She’d accompany that hug with great slaps on the back, as if she was trying to help a choking victim.  No, she wasn’t beating me up :-) … it was a hug that told you that she loved you intensely.

Grammy always wore red glasses, and she liked to poke her finger into your arm and say, with a giggle, “Am I boring you?”  I never really got it until I was older that she meant ‘bore’, as in ‘to drill a hole’.  That was Grammy’s style of joke.

I remember when we took her to see a movie.  It must have been her first movie in the theater because when it ended she said, “Is this intermission?”

And I’ll never forget the time she called me into the kitchen to show me the special way she cracked and peeled hard boiled eggs.  She pulled me close as if to whisper a secret.  Then she cracked the egg on my forehead and put in my hands so I could peel it for her.

In 2011, I brought my family up to visit her for mother’s day.  She was having a really good day.  She even recognized her 2 great-grandchildren from the pictures I’d sent her!

She taught my sister to roller skate.  She let me slide down the carpeted stairs, over and over again.  She cut my orange into lots of little squares so my little hands could hold them more easily.  She wrote beautiful poetry.  She always had candy in her house, but she served me vegetables first!

These are the things I’d like to remember!

Ruth Mae Pelletier

born July 27, 1921 – died July 20, 2012

5 children, 10 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren

 

9 years!!

I wonder what she wished for.

I can’t believe I’ve known her so long, and I feel so lucky to have it so.  She is an amazing soul!

Birthday reading in her new bean bag chair.

One of her gifts, given to her at her exact birth time, was an oyster.

Do you see it???

Decadence!

Happy, Happy Birthday My Sweet Daughter!

Firefly Gathering

This summer, Kaia and I decided to consciously study survival skills.  What would we do if we were without our normal comforts, how would we survive?  What if she were lost in the forest?  What if she had to find clean water… food… fire…

I began a long list of things that I would like us to learn.  Things they don’t teach in schools that are supposed to teach our kids how to ‘survive’ in the big world.

This week, we had a fabulous opportunity to work on this list at the Firefly Gathering.  Only 50 minutes south of us, once a year, is an amazing gathering of people sharing their primitive survival and sustainable living skills.  So, Kaia and I packed up our hammocks and headed out.

During the 2 days we were there, the woods filled with tents, hammocks, and make-shift living quarters.  This picture above was taken as we arrived and the woods still seemed quiet.  We arrived a little early, so we had some time to wonder and explore.

We learned that there are many trade blankets and barter circles, but Kaia and I arrived without bringing anything to trade.  So, she quickly gathered sticks and began whittling.  At the trading blanket that we went to, people were looking to trade things like hand blown glass flutes, and hand crafted jewelry and medicines.  I was worried that no one would want to trade for a simple hand whittled boat.  But a sweet mother went and got her tie-dyes specifically so she could trade something with Kaia.  Very kind!

Kaia and I stayed for only two of the 4 days.  Her birthday is the same weekend as the gathering, so we left early to make cake and have a party.  But, while we were there, I took a class on starting a fire with flint and steel.  VERY cool!

Flint rock, piece of broken steel file, and my fire!!

Getting the fire going with a tiny ember.

It felt so empowering and satisfying to get a fire going with just a rock, a piece of steel, and some cedar bark!  I’m planning on making a little kit to carry with me, so watch out people!!

My second class, which Kaia took with me, was on snares and deadfall traps.  It was a fabulous class.  I think I’d like to get a book on this to really study some of the traps and snares in more detail.

Kaia, blocking one side of her figure 4 deadfall trap, so the prey has to enter on the side that will trigger the trap.

This is another fancy trap, I think the teacher said it originated in Africa.  Yes, our teacher wore only a leather loin cloth.  :-)

Snack break.

The third class I took was on making and using slingshots.  I really had no idea how potent slingshots could be.  I always thought of them as toys, but man, these things really packed a punch!  We started with a Y branch of a tree, whittled it down, added some rubber bands, and a leather pouch (to hold your ammo).  I was surprised how similar it is to archery in how you stand and aim.  I was able to hit targets pretty accurately.  The teacher is a well known archer and sling shot champion.  He also creates the most beautiful slingshots I’ve ever seen.

Mud ball pyramid, created after a heavy rain turned the parking lot to a mud pit.

My final class was on starting fire with a bow drill.  We created all of our equipment.  I have to say, flint and steel are so much easier.  I worked my butt off and was able to get lots of smoke and some nice embers, but I just could not get the fire to take.  By the end of the class, my hands had blisters and my arms were worn out.  Very fun though.  I need to practice at home so I can do it if I ever need to.

While I was doing all of this, Kaia was also taking classes on basket making and wilderness survival skills.  We both want to go back for the full 4 days next year!!!

 

What we’ve been up to…

As the school year comes closer to an end, we always seem to slack off in doing the actual school work, yet, somehow we seem to get more done.  I guess I don’t feel as stressed to do this curriculum or that project, and in letting go of that I feel more free to experiment.  I like that!

This past weekend, Kaia participated in the local Pine Car Derby race and took third place!  Here is her car zooming past the competition!!

I’m not sure how she got comfortable on the rock wall, but she always finds fun spots to read!  (yes, her ‘pleasure’ reading is any book from the Horrible series!)

I grabbed a book on Georgia O’Keeffe from the library for an impromptu artist study.  What a neat woman!  Kaia and I decided to try our hands at large flower art.  She’s working on her purple pansy here.

We used oil pastels, so our fingers were very colorful from all the smearing on the canvas.

Here’s mine.  I’m not sure what kind of flower I was looking at.  It was from a bush up the hill that was covered in little flowers like this.

And tell me, what is it about 3 year olds and chocolate ice cream?

This is Leif from this past weekend:

And here is Kaia from when she was three years old.  See any theme here?  (yes, I know, that is a crazy picture.  I think she stuffed most of the ice cream in her cheeks!)

Have a beautiful week!

 

Smooth Sailing

Don’t you love those days when it feels like things just flow smoothly?  Today was such a lovely day!  Leif let me sleep in a bit and Kaia woke up early, so we were all up by 8am.  We had a nice breakfast and then we just seemed to move from one thing to another.  There were lots of giggles, nice quiet contemplation, and enjoyment in just being together.  What a lovely start to the weekend!

Have a beautiful weekend!

 

Knitting for kids

I’ve been knitting for less than 4 years, but I love it so much!  It is such a soothing thing, the repetitive motion of the needles.  And seeing the finished product, this thing that I’ve created with my own hands, gives me such satisfaction.  I think this is such an important life skill for our kids to know.  Not just with knitting, but with the creation of anything from their own hands.  So many adults feel powerless to do things because they were never given the skills as kids.  “Oh, I can’t build something like that.  I don’t even know how to use a hammer.”  “I don’t think I could ever learn how to knit/sew/cook/build/craft”

This semester, at Kaia’s homeschool co-op, I’m teaching a kids knitting class.  I have 10 girls between the ages of 7 and 15.  Some have knitting experience, but most are beginners.  Right now, we are simply learning the basic knit stitch but it’s so wonderful to see their faces light up when they get it.  They may only get a couple of rows knit in the hour long class, but each class they build on that and their confidence in their new skill grows.  I’m hoping that, like me, they will find the joy in it to continue even after the class is over.

In today’s class, we took a break from the actual knitting to learn a little bit about where the yarn comes from.  A generous spinner, Lorri Helms, brought in her spinning wheel and two of her angora bunnies and volunteered her time to give us a spinning demonstration and talk about angora fiber.  The kids (and adults!) had a blast!

Yes!  That is a bunny on her lap that she is spinning from!  The loose fur comes right out.

She also talked a bit about caring for angora bunnies, and demonstrated the art of nail clipping.  Too funny!  He seemed to enjoy relaxing on her lap.

The girls then got to try their hands at spinning.

But, most of all, I think they liked petting the incredibly soft bunnies.

 

This week

This sweet cat will put up with anything…

I know! I swore I was done chickening.  But, I missed them!

Learning to have gentle hands with the baby chicks.

watching the world.

best friends

This is a picture that Kaia took of our tulips.  I didn’t know it was on the camera!  Doesn’t it look like a Georgia O’Keefe painting?

We know have 3 Lemon Cuckoo Orpingtons, 3 French Black Marans, 2 Easter Eggers, and one true Ameraucana.

We are expecting 3 more Lavender Orpingtons in mid-April.  Before they all need to go outside, Toby and I are going to redo their run and coop, and hopefully predator-proof it!

And I promise you, I didn’t give him illegal substances before filming this!  He discovered this game on his own!

 

My baby boy turned 3!!

What an amazingly lucky mama I am to have such a sweet, smiley, happy, loving little boy!  He brightens my day, every day!

We had a wonderful little party for him today, with friends and family, and balloons and face painting, and construction cakes… he was a very happy little man!!

I know, he looks like a crazy red-eyed demon child here.  I have a red eye issue with my camera :-)

Lots more pictures below:

Continue reading »

Blue Back Hoe Undies

The other day, Leif told me that he would start using the potty more if I could make him some blue back hoe undies.  I said, ” you got it, buddy!”

Behold!  Blue Back Hoe Undies

Cutest Butt Ever!  One day, he’s is going to get tired of me chasing him around the house trying to grab those cheeks!!

Oh, the back hoe fabric is from Spoonflower and the undies pattern is from Fishsticks Designs.

38 Acts of Kindness for my 38th Birthday

Traditionally, on my birthday, I get a fabulous breakfast in bed followed by a day of fun and a break from responsibilities.  It’s always a wonderful day!  This year, though, I was inspired by another blogger to make my birthday a day that has more of an impact.  I decided to spend my 38th birthday doing 38 Random Meticulously Planned Acts of Kindness (MPAK).  I am completely exhausted, but it was one of the most amazing days!  Here is how I spent today:

MPAK #1 – Gave the kids the day off of school and chocolate cake for breakfast!  (Yes, it is a heart shaped, super-duper, chocolate cake!)  Toby took the day off of work, too, so he could join us!  Awesome man!

Then we headed down the road to drop some chocolate covered bananas off at the neighbors (MPAK #2).  We tried to be sneaky and left the treats on the doorstep.  But, they figured it out :-)

MPAK #3 – I mailed a letter to two special people who I haven’t talked to in a while, and left a thank you note and some chocolate in the mailbox for our mail lady (MPAK #4).

Next was off to the library, where I donated some books (#5), gave the librarians a thank you note and some goodies (#6), and left a few dollars for the next patron with overdue fees (#7).

At the grocery store, we had a great time helping people load their groceries into their cars (#8), and returning carts (#9).  People looked skeptically at us when we asked if we could help, but I can understand that.  Unfortunately, most of the time when someone you don’t know approaches you it’s for something they want, not for something they want to give to you.

I had written up a bunch of notes with inspirational sayings on them to pass out and put on cars. (#10)

Once we headed inside the store, we stocked up on a few things that we needed for the day: balloons, flowers, tea, pet food, litter, and a gift card for groceries, which we gave to a sweet lady in the line next to us (MPAK #11).  She looked stunned and I don’t think she was quite sure what to do with the thing. :-)

Then, it was on to the laundromat, where we taped some coins on the machine for the next unsuspecting clothes washer (#12).

We veered from my detailed and ordered list then, to make a stop at the local hospital.  A dozen balloons in the back of a Prius makes for a bit of a driving hazard. So, we thought it might be a good idea to drop them off first.

We had hoped to give the balloons to the kids in the children’s ward, but we were turned away.  They were concerned about the latex in the balloons.  So, I headed up to the Labor and Delivery ward (where I use to work) and they were happy to give them to the mamas there (MPAK #13).

While we were there, we also dropped of some flowers and tea for the nurses (#14).  It was a wonderful treat for me, too, because I got to visit was some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time!  Ok, really, this whole day was a wonderful treat for me.  How can you not feel happiness seeing all the smiles created by kindness?

Then we snuck into a few of the public bathrooms and taped inspirational notes in the stalls and on the mirrors (#15)

From the hospital, we headed over to a couple of friend’s houses to put love notes and a little chocolate on their doorsteps (#16).  Mmmmmm!  Chocolate!

By the time this was done, we were getting a bit hungry and headed to lunch.  While we were at the restaurant, Leif delivered some hand-made mint chocolate lip balm to a mama and her little boy, who were sitting at a table near us.  She was very thankful. (#17)  I also bought a white-chocolate brownie dessert and had it delivered to another table anonymously  (#18).  Because, again, who doesn’t need a little chocolate?  Then, along with a tip, we left a lottery ticket for our waitress. (#19)

From here, it was over to the park where the kids could play, and drop coins in the sand and all around for kids to find (#20).

Leif buried a few in the sand box and then dug them up himself, then ran over screaming about the silver treasure he’d found :-)

We ended up seeing a friend of Kaia’s at the park and she joined us in spreading the coins.  She told me that I had to add that as a random act of kindness because she was having so much fun and it made her happy to join in the celebration. So, bam, #21!

We also saw the mama and little boy from the restaurant to whom we gave the lip balm.  She came over and said hello, let us know that she really liked it, and thanked us again.  By the time we were leaving the park, school was letting out and the park was filling up.  I wish I could have set up a secret camera to watch the kids find their booty.

Before we left the park parking lot, Kaia and I ran across the street and left a bouquet of flowers on a random doorstep (#22).  As we were getting in the car, we saw a woman and a girl come out of the house and pick up the flowers.  They both had huge smiles on their faces.  It was very sweet to see.

From the park, we headed to the Y where we handed out locally made soap to all the sweaty people (#23).  They all loved it.  One sweet man told me he couldn’t take the soap (this one was a little brown soap).  He said, “I’m fat and you’re trying to give me chocolate?”  He happily took it when I reassured him that it was only soap.  Each soap was individually packaged with the information about the local soap business on the baggie. Free advertising for the soap makers (MPAK #24).  Again, we met up with friends that we hadn’t seen in a long time and got to do a little catching up!

Then, it was off to the women’s shelter to bring some goody bags with toiletries. (#25)

Leif was getting pretty tired from all the running around decided to take a snooze in the car.

So, Toby dropped Kaia and I off at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, while he and Leif hung out in the car and relaxed.  We brought them some dog food and litter (#26), then played with the kitties and a sweet dog named Ruby (#27).  We also changed the littler boxes in the cat room (#28).  Before leaving, I bought a raffle ticket, in Toby’s name, for a car! (#29)  I have to admit to you that if he wins the car, we will selfishly be keeping it :-)

Our next stop was downtown Asheville.  I put on a sign that said “It’s my birthday!  FREE HUGS!” and headed out into the streets.  We gave flowers to strangers (#30).  When we ran out of flowers, we gave inspirational notes (#31). When we ran out of notes, we gave chocolate (#32).  I was stopped a few times by friendly souls looking for hugs (#33).  One couple was super excited to see what we were doing, stopped to talk and gave us huge hugs and lots of smiles. (Yes, I have put crazy blur glasses on them because I forgot to ask if it was ok to use their picture on my blog.  But, you can see their great smiles.)

One woman that I gave a flower to asked for a hug and then began to cry on my shoulder.  I held on as long as she needed and then gave her another flower.  I wish I could have given more.

We taped quarters to phone booths (#34), and put quarters in parking meters that were about to run out (#35).

I got a couple of movie tickets at the Fine Arts Theater and then left them for the next person with a little inspirational note. (#36)  We stopped by the fire station and brought a thank you note and chocolate covered bananas for the firemen (they were very thankful) (#37)

As we were leaving the parking deck, I paid for the next person leaving the deck (#38).

That’s 38!  But, we weren’t done yet.  I still had a box of books in the back of my car that was destined for a friend’s house.  So, off we went to bring her some homeschooling books that she has really been wanting but wasn’t able to purchase.   (#39!!)  She was super happy and said she felt like she was on a TV show with someone delivering a big prize to her doorstep.  We visited for a while and then, after a wonderfully long day, headed home… for more cake!

It was an amazing day for all of us.  Kaia is already planning the 9 deeds she wants to do on her birthday (Yay for role modeling)!  But in the end, I know I’ve received more than anyone else today, and I think I will be high on all the hugs and smiles for many days to come.

Oh, by the way, Random Act of Kindness Week is Feb 13th – 17th.  So, if you are feeling inspired, I challenge you to go for it!  During RAOK week, or any time!!!  And please leave me a note letting me know!!

Love to you all!

Maria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouraging writers

It seems that every new school year Kaia picks a subject to rebel against.  Last year, she did whatever she could to get out of writing in any form.  So, this year, I’m getting super creative with her assignments.  If there is more to writing than just sitting down at the table and putting words on lined paper, then it holds her interest more.  Of course it would.  Most kids don’t want to finish an assignment if they are bored.

So, lately we’ve been doing Sistine Spelling (tape the paper under your table and write your spelling words a la Michelangelo.

 

Then there’s Invisible Cursive:

 

Write your message in white crayon on white paper.  Then watercolor over it to reveal the message.

Yes, Kaia’s secret message to me says “Hag but head.  Bla Bla Bla. Bye.”  She realized that she’d spelled ‘butt’ incorrectly.  It is a very important word to know how to spell when you are 8!

Leif’s hands were definitely not idle while Kaia worked.

Speaking of Leif, he’s been begging me for his own curriculum (yes, he used that word!).  So, we’ve started with All About Reading Pre-1  I wasn’t planning on starting any official schooling with him for a few years.  He’s not even 3 yet.  But he knows his alphabet and wanted more.  So far this is perfect for him.  Kaia likes to join in his lessons and be my assistant teacher, and they both love using their magnetic doodle writer thingies (what are those things called anyway?)

How do you get creative with your lessons?  I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Hand Made Holidays

What beautiful holiday celebrations we have had this year!  I am so grateful for the time that I have been able to spend with my friends and family.  We’ve spent many days traveling to others houses to participate in their revelry and had a wonderful time!  At our own home, we had a small Winter Solstice dinner with friends, old and new.

Followed by a decadent, chocolate yule log cake, of course.

 

Ok, and I have definitely been feeling uber-crafty this year.  I love to give hand made gifts!!  I feel like they ooze with love and comfort… I hope the recipients feel that, too, cause this year, we couldn’t help ourselves.  There was…

Rum infused with Banana and Vanilla

A Car Shirt for Dad to enjoy massages more often

And even when Toby sat up, Leif just kept on driving!

Toby turned a magic wand for Kaia

We all got some new flannel or fleece pajama pants

And Leif also got some winter pants.  Both were corduroy on the outside.  One was lined with flannel and the other with fleece.  (and in case you are wondering, Leif did chose the cupcake fabric!!  In fact, he begged me for it!)

There was also a puppet theater that you can hang in a door way.

The other side has pockets to keep your puppets in.

Holiday Cards

Wintermint Lotion Bars

Vanilla and Candy Cane sugar scrubs (made by Kaia)

Sea Glass Pendants

Hand knitted hat with velcro detachable hair for a little friend going through Chemo.

Hand turned wood bowls by Toby

Flannel pajama pants for Pop and a knitted purse for Mom

Now that the holidays are over, I don’t know what to do with myself.  I feel like I should be crafting when ever I have a spare moment.  Guess I need to learn to try to put my feet up.  Ha!

Leif’s crafting

It’s not just Kaia who’s been crafty lately.  Leif has been holding his own.  Aside from helping me create a parking garage for all of his cars:

He has recently had his hands in lots of gloop!  We discovered a recipe during a science lesson and he can’t get enough of it.  His little hands have been busy playing, making me gloop pancakes, gloop eggs, gloop on a stick…  It’s more addictive than play dough!

 

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it yourself.