Sunday, December 15, 2013

raindrops and cedar

I've been meaning to post a little something about our family vacation to Southeast Alaska (yep, we are now officially those Alaskans who vacation in Alaska).  Being back in Southeast always makes me a little homesick for the ocean.  
And a lot homesick for family

Now that several of my siblings have young families of their own, I really wish we could be closer, so that Sadie and Eli could see their cousins more than a couple times a year (and I could see my brothers and sisters!)  But, heck... we'll take what we can get.  It's no picnic traveling with the small ones.  There were viruses and teething miseries and sea sickness and tantrums a plenty on this trip, but still it was lovely in it's own respect.
There was the gift of time spent with loved ones--both family and dear friends.  Breathing in that Southeast aroma of cedar and moss. There was delicious venison roasts and mom-made meals a-plenty. It was so nice to just be there and be present with family that I actually did a very crappy job at photo documenting the trip.  You know, sometimes it's good not to have a camera stuck to your face every moment of the day just in case something cute or memorable happens.
There were friends to be made--both furry and feathered
and grandparents to converse, play with and snuggle with. 
The kids loved it, although on the last day Sadie got very homesick "for her chickens." 
After several weeks away it felt sad, but good to come home to our own place and fall back into familiar routines.  Our dry-bags are unpacked and our hearts are full of happy memories. 
And that is where we find ourselves this mid December, with a healthy dose of elving happening and lots of time spent building new holiday traditions of our own.  
Merry. Merry. Merry.

Monday, November 11, 2013

sliding into winter

This morning we awoke to the first snow of the season.  Perfect. White. Still. "Do you want to go sledding today?" Loren asks Sadie.  "Yes!" She shouts enthusiastically, "and find a Christmas tree and eat candy canes!" 
Eli goes to the door and gets his boots.  This is probably the first winter for him as far as memory serves, as bundled up & backpacked as we kept him last year. This season, he is ready to dive head first into winter.  Literally.  That is his way, this funny little guy of ours.
I'm ready for winter too.  This next few months is going to be a whirlwind of non-stop holiday delight and family merry-making, peppered with some much anticipated travel to the far off exotic shores of Southeast Alaska.
I used to dread Alaska's long winters, but something about having children has just re-invented holiday cheer for me.  The gift of seeing the marvels of the changing seasons through their young eyes is a treasure beyond anything I could have dreamed up myself.
Its funny how just a little shift in perspective can change your entire outlook on something.
until one day you wake up and find yourself saying the exact words you swore you never would.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Words by Robert Frost
Photos by Tara
Spectacular fall colors and children by God.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

jellyfish dress

I got this fabric from spoonflower over a year ago. 
Sadie has been admiring it, off and on since then.  I finally decided to make her something out of it... a winter "twirling dress" to replace the much-loved summer one she wore into rags. I kind of made up the pattern loosely based on a favorite t-shirt.  It's nothing fancy.  The rest of the fabric is organic cotton knit jersey from, I think--It's been in the stash for quite a while.

If you've never checked out spoonflower, you should.  They have a pretty innovative business going on.  Their organic cotton jersey knit is some of the most lovely fabric I've ever run my fingers across, but it is not cheap.  And oh, does it fade.  The original fabric is pictured above, and the dress below is after only one wash.  I was kinda bummed on this one, it faded more than usual, or, probably because of the darker dyes the fading was more noticeable.

 I understand that this is the life of the water based inks they use to print, combined with the fact that the knit fabric stretches while it washes and allows the ink to escape more, or something along those lines.  They suggest hand washing in cold water and line drying, but I really can't commit to that when using the fabric in a child's garment.  Oh well.  Sadie loves her dress anyways.  Loves it.  And her new red up-cycled sweater mocs that I can NOT get her to take off her or night.

Faded fabric, faded petunias, already faded memories of summer on these cold fall mornings. Who can complain of a cozy jellyfish twirling dress to warm you up from neck to ankles right? It does go so perfect with my little water moon child at least.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

kitchen bitchin'

I try not to make this blog a space where I whine...too much... but I'm going to today.  I love my kids, they are truly the light of my life... but they are also a holy terror (squared) when it comes to dinner time.  Am I the only mama out there who dreads the arrival of the five-o-clock hour?  This is pretty much how things go at my house during every dinner time:

4:55 After coming in from a fun nature walk, both kids are in a great mood.  They are peaceably playing with legos in the sun room.  They don't see me sneak into the kitchen and start peeling veggies....or do they?

4:58 I haven't even finished one carrot before the screaming starts.  Sharing has ceased.  Sadie is hogging the toys.  Eli wanders into the kitchen to seek comfort and to unpack the contents of the lower cabinets for the fifth-million time this week.  Oh, good.  He's tall enough to reach drawers now, so he starts by pulling all the appliance manuals out of one drawer.  While I am picking those up he pulls the silverware drawer out completely, emptying the contents all over himself and the floor.  Thankfully, he isn't injured.  After I comfort him and get him set up drumming on pot lids with a safe {I think} wooden spoon, in comes Sadie.  I guess it isn't that much fun when you have all the legos to yourself.  Now she needs a wooden spoon too...the one Eli has.

5:15 Both kids are playing, underfoot, but not close to the stove, so should be golden, right?  
I put a pot of rice on the stove to cook.  Oh, now Sadie is wildly swinging the broom around the kitchen.  Eli is screeching because he wants the broom.  I shoo the children out of the kitchen after admonishing them about stove top safety.  I've only peeled two carrots.

5:30  Kids have decided to run laps through the living-room kitchen loop while chasing the dog with brooms...well, they both have a broom now, so that's equitable.

5:45  Have tried to redirect the activities to something less dangerous.  Kids have crayons.  Eli is eating his, Sadie is drawing.  Why are they screaming at each other again?  Eli is using his crayons to make dots.  Sadie wants him to make lines.  I want a shot of tequila, but dinner is mostly in the oven.

6:00 I am trying sweep the floor. I turn to grab the dustpan, Eli is foraging for snacks in the swept up debris.  Ugh.  I hear Loren's truck in the driveway.  "KIDS, YOUR DAD'S HERE!" Ok... good, I should be able to get stuff done for a few minutes while they mob their dad.

6:15 Kids are playing in the bedroom with Loren, the house is quasi-presentable and I am just getting the table set.  Loren calls for me... Me, "what?" Him, "Come in here and look at how cute these guys are."  Me, "no."  Him, "no, seriously." me, "no, SERIOUSLY, no." He gives up, probably thinking I am a terrible human being.

6:20  We are sitting down to eat.  We light the dinner candles, say thanks, and Sadie immediately begins to state which things on her plate she "doesn't care for"  Me, "You liked carrots on Monday." Her, "I don't like them cooked."  Meanwhile, Eli is smashing food in his hair and throwing rice on the floor.  Actually, it is landing mostly on Toby's back, because he has taken up a permanent residence below Eli's highchair.  Toby cant reach his back, so Cash is eating the rice off  his back.  Nice teamwork dogs.  I make a mental note to wipe down the wall after dinner.  Eli starts to scream and furiously sign "more."  It takes us a few tries to figure out what he wants.  Sadie has generously given him ALL of her carrots.  He wanted a fork, it turns out.

6:30 After 15 trips to the kitchen to get a fork/salt & pepper/water or milk or both/ napkins/ a towel to clean up a spill I get to take my first bite of food.  I think of the movie Christmas Story and the line, "my mother hadn't enjoyed a hot dinner in fifteen years." I totally get that now.

6:40 The children are done with dinner, and it's pretty much certain that one or both of them need to go straight into the bathtub.  So Loren and I rock paper scissors to decide who gets to finish dinner ala bath monitor.  Sigh...

Is there some magic chill-pill that I'm unaware of, or is this just the reality of dinnertime with a three and one year old?  Someone please tell me that this is just a passing phase, and that once again some day I will be able to enjoy the gift of relaxed and relaxing food preparation...sipping wine, chopping the vegetables while I have a thought to myself... and maybe even an uninterrupted conversation at the table?  I know this is totally a first world problem, and I really am thankful to have good food to offer my kids and even 10 minutes to sit down together as a family.... I just can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong here...or at least that I could streamline this process somehow to be more peaceful for everyone involved.  Thoughts?  Tips?  Any suggestions welcome (except sitting the kids in front of a t.v.--I really don't want to resort to that on a daily basis).

Monday, September 23, 2013

crocheted qiviut hood

 Woke up to snowflakes falling this morning... a perfect opportunity for Sadie to try out the crocheted qiviut hat-hoodie I made for her back in August, when it was way too warm to be modeled.
 This is made from a ravelry pattern, which can be found here.  Overall, it was a very simple crochet took less than a week of here and there working.  I did alter the pattern as I saw some people mentioned the hood in the original pattern was kind of shallow and didn't come forward far enough on their kids' heads.  I added 8 or 10 stitches evenly spaced across the bottom of the hood to accommodate for ponytails and my kids' giant noggins (because I figure when Sadie is done with it Eli can wear it). This alteration made the hood plenty big (as you can see above) Not quite as excessive as, say, the hood of Emperor Palpatine from Starwars, but almost.  Although, all mama biases aside... pretty sure the face peeking out from this hood wont give anyone bad dreams ;)

Nope, just sweetness there! However, it is pretty funny when your kid is old enough to try posing every time you get the camera out.
I tried to sneak a couple of candids though...Here is how the hood should be worn...under a nice winter jacket where the lovely yoke serves as a scarf too (but attached, so one less accessory to keep track of-yay!)
Happy fall time to you readers... may your necks and heads stay toasty warm!

Friday, September 20, 2013

killing frost

 We awoke this morning to a magical, sugar-dusted world. In the quiet you could hear the tinkling of frozen leaves falling in the woods.
 "Why is the world all white?" asks Sadie carefully plucking a tiny plant "look at this!"
 Even though the killing frost (and the termination dust in the mountains) are the very certain beginning of Alaska's long cold winter, I don't even feel  a hint of sadness this year.  What a very beautiful summer we enjoyed.  And even though its been a rainy fall, the puddle stomping and mushroom hunting has brought much joy to the three and under crowd.  And to me.
Yesterday, I remarked that I needed to harvest the rest of my kale, and Sadie nodded knowingly.  "I need to pick the rest of my nasturtiums" she said.  She has been filling up little ziplock bags full of them and stashing them in the freezer. I asked her what her plan was.  "Well, you know how we made jam so we could have berries to eat in the winter?  I'm saving some flowers so we can have boquets when it snows."  That is what my three-year-old says.  It almost made me cry, because she gets it... she really understands the concept of putting things up for the winter, and how wise to know that flowers are food for the soul.  We are so very, very fortunate that we have a life that allows us to teach our children these things, or maybe to have children to teach us to remember the important things in life. 
So as I was about to lift the begonia tubers out of my garden I took a few quick photos--so I could remember my flowers the way they looked on this very beautiful morning, frozen in time for a moment with the last of their summer splendor still intact. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

apple jelly

I wanted to find a poem about apple picking to go with these pictures,
but Robert Frost seemed too heavy, and besides, 
nobody picks that many bushels of apples in Alaska.

Maybe something then by Mary Oliver?
No, it turns out she and Seamus Heaney were blackberry pickers.
And I'm sorry to say that even though William Carlos Willams ate all the plums
He didn't cover the subject of apples.

I'm sure that somewhere in a dog-eared volume on someones bookshelf there is a perfect verse
that catches the orchard on a dewy morning, humble apple tree boughs heavy with ripe fruit kissing the tops of yarrow and the last of summer's wild grass.
Each apple there, no matter how tiny or large, 
how crisp or pithy or tart hides in its heart a tiny star-shaped secret.  
A remembrance of seasons past and moment of present to memorize the good weight of this fruit in your hand, the satisfying thud as it falls into your basket or bowl. Then your mind wanders 
to a current patch in the forest, stealing the ruby gems in the last of the waning summer sunlight; 
being only human, you begin to scheme what it is you will do with all your orchard spoils

 Later in a steam-filled kitchen, you will dole out samples of crystal jelly to delighted children, 
eyes bright from September adventures and too much sugar
 You, the queen of the apples will look out a rain streaked window pane, and wonder 
how many women have passed an unremarkable moment like this
trying to capture this little bit of summer
in a mason jar.

Monday, September 2, 2013

she says...

On Life's Mysteries:

"Mom...nobody knows when or when not they are going to's a mystery.  And not even Huckle {cat from Richard Scary's Busy Town Mysteries} can solve it."

  "Mom, what does God looks like?"  me: "I don't think anyone knows exactly Sadie, what do you think God looks like?" "I think god is kind of bigger than a grownup, but more like a kid"

 On Growing up:

"Mom, what's a submarine?"  after I explain... "I think we should get one of those when I go to college...or maybe a cow?"

Me, "Sadie, what am I going to do when you get to be a grown up lady and you are too big to give me kisses and snuggles."  Sadie {with exasperation} "Mom. When I'm a grown up lady I will be BIGGER, so I can give you BIGGER kisses and snuggles." Duh.

On Family:

 "Oh mom look!" {squeals with delight} a WHOLE family of mushrooms living under this tree! There's a mom a dad and two kids...and {looking at one that's all tipped over} this must be that one guy who always falls down?!"  There's one in every family.

(Dad is trying to explain a character in a owl who is young but also very wise like he's old) Sadie, "So he's kinda like a babka?"

Friday, August 30, 2013

Elias turns one

At this very hour one year ago I was 42 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty down in the dumps because I was fairly sure that I was never going to have my baby. Little did I know that in just a few hours as a blue moon was rising I would naturally deliver an 11 pound baby boy at the Geneva Woods birthing center.  The arrival of Eli was swift.  One minute I was in labor and the next minute I was holding a yollering, red-faced baby in my arms--that's how this little man made his entrance into the world--full of vigor and ready to let everyone know it.  After a year of getting to know this guy, I think that part of his personality is very much the same.  He is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kinda guy.  His happy is a BIG happy, and when something is amiss, well...he lets you know about it.
But more often than not it's the big happy that we see these days.  In the last month or two Eli has really developed a snuggly side, and he is working so hard on being gentle...which is a challenge for a baby his size with very fast reflexes and the astounding ability to grab with a deadly sense of accuracy.  We will all breathe a collective sigh of relief when he learns that noses, lips and eyes are not detachable from people's faces.
He is an observant little guy and he loves to be outdoors.  He examines things with an intense focus.  And he has an impressive associative memory for someone his age.  I see the wheels of language development spinning around in his little brain--that point and look to someone for a definition motion over and over again. 
It's so interesting watching the way your second kid puts things together--a whole different process in many ways than your first.
 But of course, Eli's point of view is bound to be different because he will never know a world without sister Sadie there.  Sometimes I wonder if it gives him just a little extra sense of security.  He seems to rest easier than I remember her doing...but it could just be that he needs the rest because he is always on the move.  always.
And this is his motion posture.  His chest is in a whole different time zone than the rest of his body, and it arrives at all appointments just a few seconds before he does.  It cracks me up--kind of reminds me of a rooster. 
We had a quiet celebration of Eli's first year on this eve of our little guy's birthday.  Some gifts decorated and wrapped by big sister (she decided to gift him with a dinosaur and a mama gorilla with a baby on her back--very Godzilla & King Kong Loren pointed out).
A peach pie, and a boquet of flowers from the garden.

lots of help with the unwrapping of gifts
and testing them out
In true one-year-old form his favorite thing was the stickers on the wrapping paper.
But the peach pie came in a close second.  We sure do love you Elias.  Your first year has been an adventure and a gift and we are looking forward to many more to come. 
And of course, I must post this picture of the birthday boy in his birthday suit so that when he is a teenager he can roll his eyes and be all embarassed when the family photo album gets dragged out and dusted off.  Be thankful least you aren't rockin' a mean mullet like your mama did...