What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Bunkin Birthday


Adele', our little Bunkin baby, turned 8 years old the week of Thanksgiving.  

And for the first time ever, a birthday child has been involved in the baking and decorating of their own cake.  Usually they give me a general theme and then tell me to "surprise them".  So I bake and decorate in secret and they don't get to see until the big 'reveal'.  And I kinda like it that way.   But it was her birthday wish, after all.  

She showed me a picture of a pigs swimming in the mud cake- perfectly fitting because the girl loves pigs most of all.  She helped me bake it, frost it, make the marshmellow fondant and shape fondant animals.  She also unwrapped the Twix- one of those menial jobs I can't stand doing but kids somehow never seem to mind.  Oh- and because she isn't a huge cake fan, she wanted the 'cake' to actually be brownie layers.  Since I am not a huge cake fan either, but seriously love me some brownies, I was all too happy to comply!

Her birthday fell on a Saturday which meant that Papa was home to celebrate- only the *best* birthdays have Papa home all day!  She said her other birthday wish was "that Papa would not go outside at all today unless it is to play in the snow with me."  I said "Well now, maybe you are taking this whole birthday wish thing a bit too far..."  and she grinned.  

I used the woodland fabric to make her a dress.  It was a surprise dress so I couldn't fit her in it as I was making it and it was a dress without pattern or tutorial- just something I made up in my head.  Which means, of course, I made mistakes.  I love the fabric so much I wanted to keep it as intact as possible.  I know it is a more childish style but I am going to embrace these last few 'childish style' years with her as best I can.  They never last long enough, in my opinion.  I should rework the front of the dress so it does not hang so low (either adding a panel or cutting out underarm sections and drawing it up. But I don't know if I will bother- partly because I am lazy but mostly because adjusting it may mean cutting the straps shorter.  And that would be tragic because the straps are edged with real rabbit fur.  Totally impractical, but I couldn't resist!  The fur just makes it, I think.

Her headband is just a bunch of felt flowers and feathers attached to elastic.  She also got a goat marionette I had stashed away and a book (of course). 

I have *just enough* leftover corduroy and rabbit fur that if I am conservative and plan it just so, I should be able to make a coordinating ensemble for the next birthday girl in a couple of weeks.

I have been seeing a shift in my girl this past year.  She is setting her mind to doing more grown up things like cooking and sewing and reading and crochet and becoming abler by the day.  She is grappling with sin and salvation and finding her place in this big, wide world and in this family, too, as a not-quite big but not-quite-small sort of girl.  And yet, I still find her playing make-believe or hear her talking to her dolls or herself from the other room.  I am incredibly grateful for those quiet little moments where I can catch glimpses of my little Adele', filled with childlike wonder and imagination.  Grow up my girl, but slowly.  Slowly.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The First of December

A superboy cape and boy for Tye.  

Planted 145 cloves of garlic before the snow fell.  Now they are all snug in their wintery beds.  With plenty of garlic to spare for cooking (I hope!).

Garlic Onion and Dill homemade cheese.  Our personal favorite flavor.


That beautiful wintery snow (above) was the first snow of winter and happened over a week ago.
As I type, the ground outside the window is brown and muddy once again.  A rooster just pecked up some water from a mud puddle and the pasture is empty of livestock, them taking up residence in the barn because of all the rain we've been getting.  But that first gorgeous snow really kicked off the season for us and now, with Advent officially begun, we are getting very much in the spirit of things.  I feel ready and refreshed for the beginning of a new year, a new season.

I grew up in the Reformed Presbyterian church and as such, there was no 'church holidays' to celebrate and certainly no Advent.  I hold a special place in my heart for that heritage in which I was shaped and formed in my early years but I have learned that Advent brings such a focus of truth and renewal and hope and light and refreshment and anticipation. We are moderates when it comes to Advent- there is no fasting in our home and we put up our Christmas tree before Christmas Day.  Even still, there is a richness and fullness to the season that was lacking before.  It is as if our year is marked by the coming and going of Christ than any calendar and indeed, it is.  Two Advent books we are going through this year:  Advent and Christmas Wisdom from G.K.Chesterton and God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Bonhoeffer.

Little bits of Christmas are popping up here and there.  The outdoor lights are hung (and with the storms, now a bit wet and droopy.  Don't you love it when you hang lights that are working and then, just a little while later- they poop out on you?  I love it when that happens.  (or not.)  I always buy our christmas lights during the post-holiday clearance sales, so unless there are comparable deals at some point before Christmas, we'll have to wait until next year to brighten up that sad, dead and dark portion of the porch.  The kids are itching for our Trim the Tree party to happen this Sunday.  We'll see.   In the meantime, the dollhouse has a new Christmas tree with fancy lights (I love the new seed lights that are everywhere nowadays! Way better than those strands I used to get at the dollar store with ten little bulbs on them.) I found the strand we have at A.C.Moore, using a coupon of course, and discovered not only are there more than 10 lights- but they actually have several different modes!  Faaaaann-cy!  Adele' has been busy making sculpy clay feast food for the dolls and I may or may not have a few presents to tuck under their tree when the time comes.  ;-)

Christmas making is in full swing and I love.every.minute.of.it.  I usually get started much earlier on the gift-making as our gift lists are so extensive but I didn't this year and for some reason, it doesn't seem to be bothering me.  I'm sure it will get crazy toward the end, as it always does, but I love the feel of this slow-paced, all-the-time-in-the-world lingering over projects.

The glass ornaments (above) were made by filling a container with water and drizzling different colors of nailpolish on the top and then dipping glass ornaments into the water slowly.  The children loved the process- and the results are stunning.  My only regret is not having a more varied color palette to choose from- we just used what I had for my own nails.  And I guess another downfall is the fact that all my nailpolishes are now empty.  hehehe  Two things- make sure you use a disposable container- they are impossible to get clean! And- colors with a metallic luster give the prettiest effects.

Corynn is nearly done her entire gift list (and she gives gifts to EVERYONE!) and loves to rub it in that she is on the tail end and I am only beginning.  And of course, we have another little baby celebrating a birth this Christmas- so there is some birthday crafting for Ineke on the docket as well.  I have two cowls on needles or hook (both gifts), lots of peg people being painted (something I find ridiculously relaxing to do), a birthday dress and bonnet to sew, and a doll much like I made once upon a time, a castle...well, perhaps the gift-making isn't bothering me because I haven't taken the time to really consider the whole list?  So, I'll take this moment to stop considering.  ;-)

Speaking of Ineke~ thank you all for your kind care and concern for her and her mouth injury.  We had the follow-up appointment this week and the pediatric dentist was overall pleased with the healing of her bone and a bit disappointed with the healing of her gums- apparently the attachment of lip to gum is pulling the gums forward so they can't stay in place long enough to heal.  More time is needed there and only time will tell if the teeth (and nerves) are damaged and will need to come out...but today we are very thankful for a girl who seems perfectly back to normal.  We gave her cheerios with her breakfast this morning to celebrate!

(kkco and Ginny's yarn along)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Woodland Party

The first snow of the season happened on November 20th  and not just a few flakes to tease the children.  It came on the heels of a most amazingly mild, blue-skied, 61 degree late-November anomaly, in which I very smartly (if I do say so myself) hung Christmas lights outside before the cold hit.  The sun went down and the air turned downright chilly.  By morning, we all awoke to a winter wonderland.  The first snow was the very best kind of 'first snow'; the kind that turns the world all snow-globey and covers the ground and trees and barns and roads with inches and inches of beautiful flakes.  It was (and still is) perfect snow for snowmen.  And sledding.  And catching on tongues.  And admiring.

It might be winter outside our door- but just a few days ago it was 60 degrees so these photos might look outdated but they aren't THAT far gone.  (Unlike the non-existent birthday posts I've been meaning to post since April.)  

A few weeks ago we hosted a Woodland Party.  It was on-again, off-again for several weeks and spit and sputtered into reality, making it feel spur-of-the-moment when it had been in the back of my head since summer, when I had originally hoped to have it.  But summer slipped by, covered in slimy tomato seeds and I knew if I put it off any further it wouldn't happen at all.

We don't have 'birthday parties' for the children but the goal has been to have themed parties every now and again instead.  It's been far too long since the last one!  (In my defense, we did move into a fixer upper!)

The object was to get some local homeschooling families together to get to know one another better and to give my children an opportunity to turn acquaintances into friends as only time together will do.  The guest list was topped off at 54, though there were several other families we had wished we could have invited as well.  One must eventually stop the invites, right?  Only six families represented that guest list.  Awesomely fruitful families, am I right?!?!  ;-)

Three important decisions at the outset: First, it had to be a costume party.  (They are the very best kind of party, after all.)  Second, the party would have to be inexpensive to host and third (and most importantly), it would be one which would not be stress inducing.  ( I am prone to making hostessing such a big deal that I wind up stressing instead of enjoying. This is something I have been working on.)  I am happy to report, it succeeded at both points.  

Having a party after Halloween meant I got to score Halloween clearance at 75% off to be used for the party.  Popcorn balls for pennies and my childrens' Halloween candy for prizes.  Pumpkins to decorate the porch (after the few measly pumpkins we grew rotted) for .50 or $1.00 each.  Dozens and dozens of Glo-sticks bought for about $3.00 in total.  Very handy, indeed.

The Decorations~

We used scrap fabrics from my stash (anything woodsy I could find) and curtains from the boys' room to decorate tables.  Matt cut wood slices for me from some logs we had lying around and Andrew let me use his abundant supply of antlers and deer skulls.  I raided the toybox for all our woodlandy plastic animals and raided the woods for moss, bark and fungus to decorate with.  

The Games~ 

We had a relay race of children making a birch wood tower from some blocks we had made.  I wished we had been videoing that race- it was hilarious.  Get a bunch of people from four years old to adults racing each other- and it is just awesome.  

We had an antler ring toss made with Andrews' deer skulls.  (He has found them all in our woods!)

There was also a Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Buck game, courtesy of Corynn and her artistry.

Several other games were planned (donuts-on-a-string eating contest, anyone?) but never happened just because children were off having their own fun.

The Costumes

One week after Halloween, I warned the children I would NOT be putting lots of effort into woodland costumes.  Andrew wanted to be Daniel Boone again anyway (Blessed boy!).   Judah already had a woodsmans' beard (until the morning of the party when he couldn't find it and I had to quick stitch up a replacement before church).   I raided Ineke's clothing drawers and stitched a few felt elf ears to pin to the hat I knit for her a couple months ago.  Adele' grabbed a fall-ish dress from the dress-up bin and I made her a butterfly crown.   Corynn wanted to be an owl- she made and painted her own mask and I made some felt wings for her which incidentally, was the very thing her best friend came as, unbeknownst to either of them.  I was a fox for the evening- and the very same thing that my closest friend dressed up as, again- unbeknownst to either of us!  Like mother(s), like daughter(s).  ;-)  

These owls lost their wings!

There were so many amazing costumes, my one great lament is not getting good photos of everyone in their duds.   Everyone looked SO great!

The Trail Mix Bar (to fuel further adventures...)

Remember this fabric?  You'll be seeing it again soon!

Because there were so many children in attendance, I thought a Trail-mix Bar (to fuel the next adventure) would be cheaper than getting (or making) individual favors for everyone.  It turned out to be the biggest expense of the party, but pretty darn fun though.  We all had fun decorating a roll of paper for a tablecloth and the trail mix food was all 'themed'. There was:

Teddy Bears (to eat before they EAT YOU): Teddy Grahams
Bear Poop: Whoppers
Deer Droppings: Raisinets
Nutkin's Winter Stash: Peanuts
Elvin Tobacco: Craisins
Pixie Pillows: Marshmellows
Twigs: Pretzels
Chipmunk Chips: Golden Graham cereal
Candy Corn: well, because they were also discounted after Halloween.  And because, I have a major weakness for them.

The Stress(lessness)

Instead of offering loads of delicious and varied foodstuffs, I told myself I would limit the vittles to soup and bread for dinner.  A big vat of chili and a big vat of potato corn chowder and loads of bread, to be sure, but making LOTS of one or two things is far easier than making a little bit of many different things.  I invited anyone coming to bring a dessert and I made one single solitary snack (the cheeseball pumpkin).  I offered water, cocoa and warm apple cider (that I canned last year).  It was surprising how much food I had leftover, too.  I was able to pass on leftovers to four different families (and have the night off of cooking the next day for ourselves, too!)

 I didn't go nuts cleaning the house: It being an outdoor party and all, I just tidied things up a bit, vacuumed the rugs and made sure the bathroom was clean.  I didn't dust.  I didn't de-cobweb.  I didn't clean off the top of the refrigerator (a dumping spot of ours).  In truth, I didn't even think about it because I was too busy with other things. After the party I discovered to my horror the ridiculous amount of cobwebs in every nook and cranny of the downstairs, the picture leaning against the wall in the corner that I had planned on hanging and the dust coating the piano.  People wound up in the living room, visiting, nursing or just warming their bones but- if they noticed the dust and cobwebs they didn't care.  That's what friends are for.  ;-)

Because hosting takes so much time, I didn't get many pictures during party or of the most important things...the people there... (most of these were taken the next day as I was cleaning up) which was a shame because, well, I just love these people. They are MY PEOPLE.  

 It was such fun- the children enjoyed themselves so much- which was the whole point.  I am so glad that we were able to squeeze that little shin-dig before the weather turned cold.  

And now the snow can come- we are warm and toasty with the recollections of time spent with good friends.