Winter-time yarn

The winter-time always makes me want to get out some yarn and this winter was no different.  And so  here is a small project I just completed,  a little scarf for Sophia…

I bought this yarn last year and actually had crocheted a hat for the girls, but it was so chunky the hat looked funny, so I unraveled it and knitted a scarf instead.    It took a while to figure out how I wanted to knit it up,  but after many attempts I decided that a garter stitch suited the yarn the best and as a bonus, the size I wanted was only 9 stitches across!  And I learned how to do a crochet cast-off, which resulted in a nice braid end which matched the other end which was nice.

So I’m pleased with this quick and easy project.   And I’m a girl who likes quick and easy.   I get bored easily and although once I did knit a vest (it was awful)  I can’t see me every attempting to knit a sweater because I would lose interest after a few rows.   I can say that in all honesty because of this…..

A crocheted afghan that I started probably 13 years ago and is still not finished!!!!   It’s embarrassing really.     Back when I started it years and years ago,  it was supposed to be for Jason and I had matched the colours to a fleece that he gave me and I thought that would just be so nice.   Well it was rather nice in a way, wasn’t it?

So this baby got pulled out of the crawl-space a few weeks ago when I was de-cluttering and I decided that I am storing it no longer!  I refuse!  But then I ended up with  a dilemma because what does one do with an unfinished afghan?    I guess I’m just going to have to finish it,   I must.    So even though I’ve only averaged 6 rows a year, I’m happy to report that I am close to finishing it and this is going to be the year it gets done.

But then that brings me to another question,  what do I do with it when I do finish it?   We don’t need any more throws around here and I don’t think Jason has any emotional attachments to it, although he does bug me mercilessly about it every time he sees it.     I guess if it actually does get done this year, it will be up for grabs.  So if anyone wants it just let know.   If no one wants it,  I just can’t say what will happen to it… and the poor thing really does deserve a good home.

Well I better get back to it, with another thaw coming tomorrow my winter urge to knit or crochet might leave me and we can’t have that!

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Really, another year already?  It seems just yesterday that I did Sarah’s last birthday post, and here’s another one.   But there is no standing in the way of time…. our girl is 5!

And even though we’ve shied away from parties over the years – we decided to embrace chaos this year and invite the little girls from our neighbourhood (we’re tight here in this neck-of-the-woods) and have a tea-partying, craft making and cupcake decorations whale of a good time, woohoo!!!

Our littlest party guest wasn’t hungry for pizza, but the cupcake toppings definitely appealed to her… caught you in the act you little monkey!

Then last night we finished off Sarah’s birthday with grandma and grandpa and her aunt and uncle and cousins… more cake, more presents, more fun!

And now that I’ve stuffed Sarah and the kids with more sugar and cake then I thought was possible,  it’s time to just sit back and enjoy more time with this wonderful, spunky, but crazily enough, shy, 5-year-old.

Happy Birthday Sarah!  We love you!

Some pics…

There has been nothing exciting going on here (that I can blog about!) so instead I’m going to show you some pictures of the kids.  Sorry for being so boring, but it’s because I decided the other day that from now on I’m going to be a tidy person who’s house is always neat.

But I’m finding that having a tidy house is very time consuming and doesn’t leave much time for other exciting things.   It would probably help if I told the children that they were now tidy as well.    Can you do that?   Can you just inform your children that they now are tidy and like to put things back in their place?  I wonder.

Today I did go down in my crawl-space (oh the dreaded, horrid crawl-space) and I tided it up and got rid of about 3 garbage bags worth of stuff – which feels fantastic.  But we don’t live in our crawl-space and so ultimately it’s not going to help me in my quest, but now I will have a tidy space to store more stuff.  Is that a win-win situation?

But I press on to declutter and be tidy and hopefully in this I will succeed.

Anyway here are the pics I promised…

This little one is days away from turning 5!  Five years old, I can’t believe it!

This one still pulls my heart-strings, makes me laugh and is getting a little lippy – it’s kinda funny/cute/horrid what kids learn from older siblings!

This one still lives in a land of extremes, happy and sweet one minute and very upset and not sweet the next – and then happy again – he for one is never boring.

And this one keeping busy building complex lego and calling me from school with new ailments pretty sure that he really does need to come home this time.

I sometimes think my kids are the most exciting things about me… it’s true, isn’t it?

But now this tidy girls needs to get to her tidy bed and get some tidy sleep.  Good night!

So that was that

So one of the things that I had challenged myself to do this year didn’t end up seeing fruition.    I started January 2nd on a 21 day Kickstart vegan challenge and I choked around day 10… too bad.    I started it not because I wanted to become a vegan and eschew meat or milk permanently, but my mom was doing it and I thought it would be fun and a good way to stop eating the junk that I was starting to eat with abandon over the Christmas holidays.    I had also hoped it would train my body to start craving carrots over cookies.   But I failed miserably.  I made it 9 days fairly easily and did enjoy eating my rice and beans even while my family was chowing down on home-made mac and cheese   But on the  10th day I started feeling discouraged probably because  I didn’t really see any instant changes – I didn’t lose 5 lbs and my lingering cough was still lingering (I had hoped all the fruits and veggies would cure me) and somewhere in those previous 9 days the joy of making two meals every night diminished.

Now maybe someday if Jason would agree to do a vegan challenge with me (hahahahahahaha) it would be easier, but since he’s not there yet and I was doing it alone (my kids are great eaters but I didn’t want to throw them for a loop) I’ll just have to be content with what I did manage and go on from there.

But I certainly don’t count my 9 plant-based eating days all as loss…  I learned a lot and will be making some changes to my diet and it’s nice to know that although I like meat I really could live without it.   Actually if it was just me and I had all the time in the world, I would love to explore all the different and wonderful foods you can eat when you are only eating things that grew and didn’t moo.

And  one interesting things I think I’ll share…  contrary to popular belief you can get enough protein on a plant-based diet!!  Yes you can!   Think about it… lots of the world’s largest mammals just eat plants and some of these include  elephants, zebras, giraffes… moose… they survive very well and are large and healthy all without eating meat or dairy.  And you might point out that we all get hungry quicker without our major protein foods like meat and cheese, but then so what… eat some more vegetables and whole grains and you are set.  It is very difficult to eat too many calories just eating vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes.   Unless you are like me and snacked on  nuts… alot… which is probably why I didn’t lose my 5 lbs.   That and I learned how to make ‘vegan’ cookies and they were very very good – probably too good.  Kinda like obeying the letter of the law but not the spirit… I think refined sugar is just as big of no-no.     But just so you believe me on the protein thing,  I just entered a days worth of plant based food in trusty Calorie Count and I easily reached my target protein amount without meat or dairy… cool huh?   It can be done.

In other news here we are plugging along with the first week of school under our belts.  Going back was a bit of a transition for the kids but we all made it, especially since we snunk in a day off – the kids all had dentist appointments Wednesday at the University and since it takes a bit longer there and I couldn’t get them back in time after lunch we just all stayed home.  Plus poor Sarah wasn’t very comfortable recovering from her filling… it’s sad that she has my teeth and she’s not even 5 and has 3 cavaites already… sorry about your genes Sarah!

And I’m thankful to not have a case of the January blahs yet,  probably because most of this month has actually seemed like March and now that there is snow it’s kinda nice.   There is lots going on and lots to look forward too which also means lots to blog about so I guess I’m just looking forward in anticipation with what is coming next – even if that doesn’t include a vegan diet.  🙂

I love these cookies…

My mom always manages to find the best books and this year at Christmas she didn’t disappoint.  She gave the girls these oh-so-sweet Cookie books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal...

They are basically cookie dictionaries… a really yummy way for children to learn the meaning of big words.  From the first book one of my favourite pages says…  “PROUD means, My chin is high, and I sure do like the way my cookies turned out. ”  And then the next page says… “MODEST means you don’t run around telling everyone you make the best cookies, even if you know it to be true.”     I think the concept she uses is so simple but understandable,  I love it!!

From the Sugar cookies book, “FORGIVE means, I needed some time to get over what you said about my cookies – ’cause that wasn’t very nice – but now I think I’m ready to play with you again.”   And then the definition of selfless, “No, really, please, I want you to have the last cookie.

Oh these books are just as sweet as the cookies they are about and I really enjoy reading them to the girls.  And it’s such a great teaching tool too, not only the meaning of works, but also values like being trustworthy.  In the cookie dictionary trustworthy means, “If you ask me to hold your cookie until you come back, when you come back, I will still be holding your cookie.”   That one really spoke to Sarah and it’s neat that we can talk about it and I can refer back to the book to remind her of things like being modest and trustworthy.

I am giving these book 2 thumbs up and they are definitely books worth investing in for that special little someone in your life!

Soap!

Oh dear, the mornings of sleeping in until 8:00, staying in my pjs until mid morning and feeding the kids breakfast anywhere from 7:00 am to 11:00 am are coming to an end.  Yes, Christmas vacation is officially over and although we had a pleasant run I really feel at this point that getting back into routine has its benefits as well.

Yesterday was all about taking down the tent and getting the house back in order.  “Take down the tent?”  you ask…. yes, we took down the tent.  When we took down our spider infested Christmas tree, we put up a tent in its place so the kids could sleep in it New Year’s eve – they were pretty pumped.   And then because they loved it so much they slept in it pretty much all week… hey, whatever floats their boat,  and we were just happy to oblige.

The picture includes Sophia which is a little misleading, I’m not sure she ever spent a full-night in the tent.  It’s become apparent that she can be a turkey because when she was in the tent everyone was awake and as soon as we would take her out of the equation,  everyone would fall asleep.    Silly little Sophy.

But the time didn’t all go to waste lounging around, I learned a new skill from my uncle this week, I learned how to make soap!  I’m always tickled when I learn to make something that previously I’ve always had to buy, like taco seasoning… but I’ve always been a little leery of attempting soap because it’s a teensy bit dangerous, working with lye and all.  Lye is very caustic but very important in soap making as it is alkaline and when mixed with oil or fat it causes a chemical reaction that results in saponification which results in soap!  Exciting!!   Well at least to me.  I choose to go with straight olive oil soap just because, and I was happy to see that soap making is  actually a fairly straight-forward process and if you are careful with the lye and wear lots of protective gear, it’s not as bad as I feared.   So thanks to my uncle’s  excellent tutelage (and the fact that he did most of the work as I watched) I now have a whole batch of beautiful natural soap that smells like lemon grass – the essential oil that we added.   We shall certainly be very naturally clean for a long while.

I wish I had lots of other exciting things to report on, but because all of us except for William had a bout with a mild flu bug this holiday we kept things fairly low-key.   And since the weather has been most uncooperative we didn’t even have a ton of fun outside.  But it’s all good,   I know the kids had a wonderful time because they aren’t crazy about going back to school tomorrow,  but I’ll just have to remind them that now we can start the count-down to summer holidays and mommy can finally start to get some things done around here!

Parenting Challenge #1 for me…

Happy New Year!   A whole new year of blogging, I’m excited to see what it brings.  I got some stats back from Word-Press on New Years and apparently I’ve had readers from around the globe, including Switzerland and Hong Kong, which kinda makes me wonder how these people ever stumbled onto my blog or if it was just some sort of  honest mistake.  Word Press also reminded me that I had only pumped out 90 posts in 2011… which spread over 365 days might be considered a little lame.  I’ll try to do better this year.  But that is NOT a resolution!    I think that as I get older, I find it harder to resolve to do things because I know myself and how I don’t like to be bossed around – by me.    I’m trying to get myself to do something right now for 21 days, I’m on day 2 and having a serious power struggle.  So I guess I can’t even tell you about it in case I can’t follow through, but if I complete it, you’ll be the first to know.

However, I will accept challenges over resolutions.  Challenges just sounds, well, I guess more challenging.  Like, “Are you up for the challenge?”    So… I am challenged to make some little changes to parenting… and here’s  how it started.

Right before Christmas we got together with some neighbours and had us a wonderful time… Jason and I wondered why on earth we hadn’t thought ourselves of getting together before,  it’s a shame.   Anyway,  while we were there, one of my neighbours mentioned that when her and her husband  embarked on their parenting journey, the first thing they decided was that when they made a parenting decision, they weren’t going to back down, they were always going to follow through with decisions they made.

Wow, that really spoke to me because that is one area where I’m not so great.     The kids ask me a question, I give an answer… they start to bug me and cajole and bug some more and what do I do?  Well I start questioning myself, I start thinking, “Oh, am I really being fair?”  Or worse, I start thinking, do I really want to follow up with what I just said, and then I cave… AHHHHHH!!!!!   Not all the time, but there have been too many times.   It’s not good, it’s not good!  In fact, the experts will tend to tell you that in doing so you are actually TRAINING your child to NOT believe you!    To never take you at your word.    Scary.

OK – so I have challenged myself to always say what I mean and stick with it  and be consistent when it comes to the kids.   This way they will start to know that when I say yes, it’s yes and no means no and stop means STOP!!!!   But there are obstacles in my way.

The first obstacle  is that I often speak too soon…  the kids ask me a question and I just blurt out an answer – the first thing that I think of.  “No” is a good one when I’m busy, or perhaps a “don’t do that” when I’m distracted, both randomly given just to provide an answer and both not good enough if I’m intent on following through.

So, clearly I need to take a minute and think of an answer even if that means telling them to wait while I think about it or even call Dad to weigh his opinion.  But then once I do speak… BAM!!    My word is law!  hahaha… don’t worry, I’m not a dictator here.    But what I mean is,  now that I’ve thought of something, now I have to follow-up on that.  As in, “Sarah, if you lick that batter with your finger one more time you are not helping mommy put the cookies on the trays”…   if I say it, I HAVE to follow through with it.    If I don’t, then my words become meaningless and vacant and then why bother speaking at all?     Idle threats do bug me, I always think, why bother?  The kids and you know you don’t mean it, so you would be better off just ignoring their behaviour and saying nothing at all instead of having them think you aren’t trustworthy.    And if I say “No TV right now” then I guess I mean no TV right now and if that means I need get out some paints or play-dough or play with them for a bit,  that would probably be better anyway.

You see… I have a duty to my kids, not only to parent them wisely, but to train them to obey, not only because I say so, but because it’s what the Bible says.    It says very clearly in Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  It’s not my law, it’s God’s law.    And when you think of it, it’s so incredibly important for so many reasons, no wonder God included it!   First off, I want my kids to see me as trustworthy – to know that I am going to follow through with what I say.     And then, just think –  obedience could  save my kids lives one day.  That is huge for me, what if someday I see a danger they don’t, and I can yell at them to stop and they stop?    I can’t imagine how I would feel if I if were in a situation where I needed my child to come back to me and they didn’t…   it makes me shudder.

I forgot to tell my neighbour this that night before Christmas, but when I first saw her husband years ago at school,  he had their son with him and he was about 5 at the time.   For whatever reason this little guy starting to run away from his dad across the field to another group of kids, and his dad called out at him to stop and….  he stopped.   He actually stopped and came back.    I remember thinking at that exact point that this child I didn’t know could play with my kids.    Why?   Because I knew that he was a well-trained child.   Cool eh?   This is the proof!   Following through has worked for them and it’s definitely why I’ve challenged myself to always means what I say and always follow through.    I’ll keep you posted!