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...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I have a confession. 
I've been having a mini love affair with felt this summer.  It's the real reason I haven't finished knitting that sweater I wrote about... that, or possibly the fact that after chasing two kids all day my craft-time has been relegated to 10 or 15 minutes stolen here and there.  I cant always knit, right?
So I've really been making a dent in the giant stack of felt I impulse bought last fall.
And I've been making Christmas ornaments.  In summer.  That's right.
You gotta get an early jump on this business when you have small kids.
I started with these (Christmas present spoiler if you happen to be one of my nieces or nephews, and can read, read no further!)
I wanted to make the kids a Christmas ornament every year so that when they grew up they would have a unique, handmade set of ornaments imbued with all their magical Christmas memories to put on their own tree.  I also want ornaments that are unbreakable and wonderfully soft and textured.
sooooo..made these little wool felt friends and they were so cute I decided all the kids in the family are getting one for Christmas this year...
I wont put pictures of them all yet... because I haven't finished making them.  I got side tracked in July with this birthday crown (okay, technically, it's a tiara) for my big.

 This might also be a new birthday tradition for nieces and nephews. 
Then I got side-tracked again with these fun matryoshka dolls to depict the seasons.  This has been a collaborative effort between Sadie and I.  She is picking out all the felt and thread colors for me.  I like her taste, I must say!
so far we have done summer and autumn.
Now the pressure is on to finish up winter and spring.  Sadie is worried I might not get them done in time for Christmas. She has her felt all stacked up and ready to go, and my embroidery floss is all in a tangled pile, or as Sadie says, "all raveled up."  As you can see, my embroidery skills, are um, rudimentary.  But I'm learning as I go.  And my audience is very forgiving.
 my two favorite little sewing helpers.  They keep things lively for me, that's for sure!


Monday, August 26, 2013

dyed in the wool

 I'm knitting a sweater right now.  This one.  I started it in April, and I am a little over half done with it.  Its slow going with garden season being in full swing, and thanks to all the hot weather it really hasn't been a knitting summer for me.  But I am loving that sweater, and I know I'll finish it, eventually.  In the meantime, I felt like I needed an instant gratification project that involved wool.   I read an article about dying wool with common garden plants, so I decided to dye up a couple skeins of natural wool I had lying around with some of the many marigolds that are growing in every raised bed I planted. August has brought us some much cooler weather and the idea of manning a boiling pot for several hours seemed more palatable than it did a few weeks ago.
I was expecting yellow, but what I ended up with was closer to chartreuse.  I'm not complaining... I love the greens.  The one on the right was the first dye batch, and the one on the left was using the same dye and doing a second dying (hence the lighter color.) I wonder if the resulting color is because my marigolds are mainly red? The dye bath looked very red.  I used alum as a mordant.  It was a simple process--one that I fully intend to repeat with some other plants...soon....but first I need to finish up that sweater.  I can see how fiber dying with found plant material could become an addictive habit. It has a certain alchemical element to it that is hard to resist.  The colors are so rich too... lovely lovely.  It's going to be hard to not start up another knitting project before that sweater is finished....hmmmm....maybe just a simple little shawl?  I'm sure that would be quick and easy to knit up between rounds of kid wrangling and laundry folding right?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

August in the Garden: Flowers and Squash

August is a good month to stop and smell the flowers.
Zinnia Green Envy, Love Lies Bleeding, Rannuncula, Baby's breath & Nasturtium

If I could give awards for the strangest & coolest looking thing I grew this summer it would have to go to the Bells of Ireland,
Accumulator of most biomass in one growing season goes to Borage, as pictured with Sadie for scale.
The sunroom porch is now officially a flower jungle.
Out front in the fern garden is Astilbe, more pink Rannunculas, Zinnia, Calendula, Nasturtium, and the most riotous hot pink geranium I have ever laid eyes on. 
Begonias, Astilbe & more enough strawberries to make this an edible landscape for little grazers.
A wiggle of rannunculas and Papaver somniferum.
 The lovely blue of delphiniums by the front porch.  Pretty even when they are tipping over because you forgot to cage them up...oops.
and out back it's a pumpkin party (top) plus a good bed full of brassicas and some winter squash growing with nasturtiums, rutabega, sweet allysum, and bee balm.
This summer has been ridiculously hot, sunny & gorgeous for Alaska.  I had no expectations of what this gardening adventure would bring, so honestly I feel pleased as punch with what we've come out with so far.  We have enough lettuces and greens to feed an army of rabbits, we have been enjoying broccoli, kale & chard, and will hope to have a few tomatoes and zucchini soon. Sadie constantly grazing on carrots, so even if we don't end up with any big ones, it makes me happy that she is experiencing the marvel of pulling those perfectly delicious little orange baby ones out and munching them as the day goes by.  She is such a wee forager, if she isn't eating carrots you're sure to find her in the raspberry patch. Next year, we are going to get a little more serious about the business of putting food up for the winter.

 It would be amazing if we actually get some squash, or one of our tiny pumpkins grew into something substantial...but hard to say if they will.   There is just a whisper of fall in the air these days.  The fireweed has almost bloomed to the top.  Here and there a golden cottonwood leaf is falling.  How can it be August already?
but August is always my favorite too... So much energy to savor the last and sweetest drops of summer and busily plan for the cool months ahead.
Hard to believe that just this same time last year we were eagerly anticipating the mystery baby:
And now he's nearly one... full of wonder and sweetness, toddling all over the place, saying half-words and starting to look more like a little boy than a baby. 
My oh my, how the seasons do fly.