Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mama made a play house

Last fall when we found out that we would be buying the home we had been renting for several years, I was immediately busting with ideas for the things we would be able to do.  One of those things was a playhouse for the little girls.  The boys have treehouses already- too high up for the girls tho.  I had seen a similar idea to what I'm planning here at a friend's house ages ago and stored it away for another time.  I had intended to get started this spring, but alas - that didn't happen.  Today was the day tho :)  We just finished a renovating our bathroom, and had a fair bit of scraps of this and that.  My husband had just shown me how to use the mitre saw, which meant I was good to go :)

Now my plan was involving 4 trees.  I would connect them putting a wall between each pair of trees, creating an enclosure., and leaving a space between the 2 trees that were fairly close together as an entrance.  Today the plan was simply to create one of those walls.  The thing I loved most about our friend's playhouse was the restaurant take out window, so all I really know was that that would be part of it.
My plan of action?  

Wingin it ;)

And of course the kids helped a ton!

My biggest boy, aside from giving his little sis some lessons on wielding a hammer, helped a ton - he did as much nailing as I did, and handled the cordless drill like a pro - he's been using it since he was 3 ;)

That's some serious focus!

I think she's already open for service - anyone care for some lemon-aid - maybe it's too cold for that (tho you'd never know to look at the little rascal - bare feet and the shorts she refused to wear all summer and has now declared to be her favorite article of clothing ;)  It was pretty warm today tho...

Can I take your order?

In this picture above, (taken from the inside) the entrance will be at the right side of the photo.

It's  no where near done - 2 more walls still to go and a whole lot of prettying up :)  Miss Big A has declared that we will need 2 colors of pink paint ;)  I've got my heart set on some blackboard paint for at least part of it too.  I'm envisioning a hanging flower basket next summer already.... maybe a sandbox ;)

And a whole lot of serious playing......

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dry ice heaven

My scientist has been desperately wanting to get his hands on dry ice for ages now.  I had no idea where to find it in our small town until recently.  At first I was a little nervous about buying it - I knew he wouldn't be content to have me hovering over him - and I needed to know he would be able to use it safely.  When I asked him about safety tho he let out a big sigh - "Mom - I know all about safety!"  And he did.  He was able to explain to me that he knew not to touch it, and that he'd need some good gloves.  He also knew how to store it, and several other things that are escaping me now, but that definitely surprised me in the moment.

And where did he learn all this you ask?  

you tube.

Seriously folks - I swear that everything this boy knows he learned on you tube. 

A fabulous learning tool - that has become his fave place to roam.  I mean where else are there that many videos of his hero?  

Soooooooo we went to the industrial supply store, and he got to *watch* them make the dry ice!  Very cool - He was in heaven I tell you.  On the way home in the car he was beside himself with excitement - I could practically see the wheels turning in his sweet little head.  This boy had big plans.

One pound of dry ice is about the same size as a pound of butter.  It cost $8.  He quickly started figuring how he might get himself an ongoing supply of the stuff - mom buys one pound - scientist buys 2.  Fair enough ;)  A weekly obsession likely to replace the previous flubber obsession, or the all things baking soda and vinegar explosion obsession.  Brilliant :)

I love the way this boy is so content to experience the same thing over and over and over and over again.  I'll admit that at times it's trying - the corn starch and water obsession (ok I have to admit that it does feel really cool to put your hands in it ;)  )  was a constant mess.  That said - the learning in all this repetition is impressive.  Doing any of these experiments once is cool - fun - informative yada yada.  Doing it 20 or 30 times over leaves all sorts of room for discovery!  Recently he's been doing an experiment with pop cans.  You put a little water in the bottom, and bring it to a boil.  You have a container of cold water sitting next to the stove, and carefully using tongs pick up the can and drop it in the cold water.  IT's quite exciting, because when the can hits the cold it contracts instantly.  Soooooo the other day he was all excited that he was going to try the experiment with different temperatures on the stove to see what would happen - variables folks.  He thought this up all on his own!  And he did it too.  And no I'm not worried about him using the stove-  my kids all learn to use the stove safely as soon as they show an interest - he's 8 and has been using it for a while now.)

I've seen this with him many times now.  He just immerses himself in his current science love.  With the flubber he soon learned to add varying amounts of glycerine to get exactly the texture/stretchiness he was looking for.

And now we are on to dry ice.  

Check out those awesome gloves ;)

He added some dish soap for some bubble action here.

He had been wanting to try this next one desperately - yes desperately - he's super keen ;) 

You need a container that is round and has a nice lip on the edge.  The liquid inside is bubble solution - Just some water and a couple good squirts of dish soap.  He took a long skinny strip of an old rag and dipped it in the bubble solution and then wiped it around the rim.

Next he dropped in a chunk of the dry ice (he used gloves and a hammer to break it up).  He took his rag  soaked in the soapy solution and dragged it gently across to form a bubble across the top of the container.  A thick piece of yarn might work well here.

Then you sit back and watch.......

patiently, it takes a while.....

At this point it would have kept getting bigger a while longer, but the urge to pop that bubble was too great for him ;)

That's the best part he says :)

It's too bad he forgot the lab coat and glasses until the end :(

I'm melting.  He's so lovely.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I've been pondering again..

I stopped for gas today with 3 of my kids, heading home, gas light on.  I rushed into the gas station on a mission for gas, and balloons - hopefully.  Yes  - they had them.  OK - back in the car, I've got the balloons.   The girls want red - ok let's get red.  I was hit with a vivid memory - not a specific one mind you, a general memory of balloons.  As a child, just how vivid the colors were, and the excitement of which color one might want, or hope for.  I could see the color with the sun shining through.  I drove away, forgetting to put the gas I just paid for in my tank.  I was driving along, thinking about balloons and blog posts, and the magic of childhood - OOPS!  The gas.  Right.  So back I went, and in a flurry of rushing sillyness got the gas into the tank, and with a sigh, headed in the direction of home.  And still this vivid colorful balloon floating around in my head.

   I was thinking of other memories like that - still so fresh in my mind.  Pink and Orange icecream at Baskin Robbins every summer when we visited Oma.  The images in "Oh What a Busy Day" by Gyo Fujikawa (If you don't own this book, and have small children you should most definitely go straight out and buy it this instant )  So many things that are so fresh still, just waiting to burst in my head with just a little reminder.

As I drove along the windy road towards home I was struck with how different my memories are now.  Not at all so vivid.  Much fuzzier - even the really important ones.  Just not the same.  Cloudier.

And I wondered why.

Is it that as adults we rush around too much?  We aren't in the moment enough to *really* stop and taste that icecream ?  To look closely at that book and take it all in - with every part of our being?

I watch my Little one in the midst of her "why's" as she asks (repeatedly - of course as she most certainly should )   ...Why?  What's that?  "Umm that's a jacket sweetie - uhhhh a green jacket."  "OH! " she responds with that cheerful exuberance.  Everything is exciting and new.  Everything.
I wonder what her memories will be one day.  What will her special book be?  What smell, what color, what song will make her stop and smile?

Is that it?  It's all brand new for them?  We've been there done that?

I don't know.  I think maybe it's that we forget how to *be*.  That we get caught up in the day to day, and we forget to stop and smell the flowers, to savour our food instead of hurrying to get past this annoyance of a meal and on to the next thing on our list.

I mean look at the little ones when they eat - they smear it everywhere with great joy!  Remember this photo?  Just look at that smile!  Talk about experiencing food - I mean really - we're sitting there gasping in annoyance at the mess, and they couldn't care less - they are immersed.

What would happen if we slowed down? What would happen if we took more time to really taste our food, to smell those flowers, to enjoy that moment - whatever it is.  Would our memories change?  Would they be that magical vivid burst that the childhood ones so often are?

My oldest daughter says that every song is attached to a place for her.  When she drives along a certain part of the road on the way home, there is a certain song for a certain part of the road.  Songs conjure up vivid memories for her - my girl who is still so very in the moment .... my girl who's memories are so vivid - not so dull and cloudy like mine are.  I can't help but think that it's because she revels in every moment of the day, bouncing from one creative endeavor to the next.  She may not remember where she put her bus pass, but my oh my she's got a store of thrills inside that head, ready and waiting to pop up just at that certain turn in the road.

I think that perhaps the thing that has pulled me into photography as my latest unstoppable, irresistable  passion, is the way that it makes me  - trains me to notice.  To see things differently.  To be right here.  My eyes see differently now.  I can't help but notice the light, how the sun shines so sweetly at certain times in certain windows.  And the contrast - everything looks different to me now.  I like it.  I like that going for a walk is slowed each time I need to stop and snap another picture.  I like the noticing.

Maybe it's partly because of my foggy memory that I am loving my camera so much - perhaps one day this photo will take me back to a time when my wee girl was growing so fast, and I just had to capture those busy feet, at rest.

Or these fabulously glowing eyes - 

Maybe these photos will become like the memory of the red balloons, and invoke the same vivid beauty in my mind's eye.

All this because of a pack of balloons.  

I'm sure glad I thought of them, in that moment, when I was a little bit rushing, regretting not remembering to buy them earlier ..... for the scientist.

It's still there - that red balloon.  In my mind's eye.  With the pink and orange ice cream.  And that  lemon-aid stand, in the book.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Carrots Grow From Carrot Seeds....

....I'll plant a seed and grow it.
(anyone else hearing this song ?)

I'll Water it, I'll pull the weeds....

Carrots grow from carrot seeds :)

Today was a sweet day of firsts.  Little Miss A got to pull carrots for the first time :)  I'm thinking there's not much that is more thrilling to a 2 year old than to discover that there are carrots hiding under the dirt! I mean really - can you imagine the delight?

And as if that sweetness wasn't enough for the day, then Big Miss A went to her very first dance class :)

Now that was a moment and a half, for a bunch of reasons.

As a child I *always* wanted to have dance lessons.

I was also really really (did I mention really?) shy.

Really shy. 

If I'd had the chance I'd have likely hid in the corner.

And so my oh so very shy girl conquered her shyness today.

It was sooooo hard for her.  She wanted desperately to be a part of the class, but she couldn't bring herself to even *move*.  She sat next to me, she sat *on* me.  Looking at me, looking at the teacher and a look of utter panic on her face.  

I didn't want her to leave feeling like she had failed herself - not me - she couldn't fail me - it's ok for her to choose not to go.  I didn't want her to feel disappointed in herself.

I thought it might end badly - and then....

The teacher suggested they dance like butterflies!

And that my folks is where that sweet lovely teacher got my girl ;)

Slowly, ever so slowly - first she asked me to walk over with her - and then she stood in line....

And then!  Then she was a butterfly running across the room.  Heck - running is just fine - that sweet girl of mine just pushed herself through her fears and did that scary thing.

I was proud :)

And it would have been fine if she hadn't - but hte little girl in me that never really pushed through those moments - well that girl was impressed :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

One introvert + 4 kids = a balancing act extraordinaire

*I* am an introvert with 4 children at home.  Homeschooling.  Extended nursing.  Way more ideals than I can manage.  Some days I think I'm doing pretty well - others..... flailing!  I know - we all have our flailing days when we feel completely inadequate for the task at hand.  Today was one of those days for me.

I managed to maintain my calm through the snack turned fingerpainting.... good thing I'm obsessed with my camera....

And then there was the maniac of the day......a certain someone was *full* of beans today - everyone was actually, they just didn't all pose in quite such a spectacular way ;)

And the day passed and eventually it ended.  One by one they slept....ok - only  2 are sleeping, but close enough.


Bit by bit I felt the tension of the day melting away.  The house became quiet.

A big sigh.  

A cup of chamomile tea - ok a *quart* of chamomile tea.

And I'm slowly coming back to center again.

My goodness it's a challenge reconciling the introvert that is me with the energetic, passionate, *loud*, incredible 4 children that are still in the nest.

One great big old balancing act.

I guess tomorrow is another day.

I've heard a lot of complaints that people don't share the rough parts of life when blogging.  
So here I am.  

Today was a sucky tearful day.  I made it through.  I apologized for my cranky moments, reconnecting with all before sleep came.  A story was read.  A board game or 2 played.  Some cookies were baked - doesn't everyone bake cookies when they're having a bad day?

Here's to doing our best, and sometimes the day just sucks anyway and all we can do is just try to look for a moment that is good and grab for it.

     How do you meet your need for quiet, alone time, creative expression, while parenting?
Tell me your best secret strategy ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Heart Faces - Smirk

With all of the smirks I see daily from my children I figured it would be a breeze finding one for this week's challenge at I heart faces - but apparently not.  Considering the fact that they have a smirk on their faces all through the day......

So I would not consider this to be a good photo technically speaking, but she sure is cute isn't she?

Be sure to head on over to I heart faces and check out all the great smirks ;)

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Me thinks that none of the people this letter is directed at can read ;)   I may have to keep it forever tho - it's so classic ;)

Friday, September 17, 2010

snapshot - More pesto....

This Moment

Inspired by Soulemama - {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's time for soup!

It's that time again already - the time of the year when soup is a necessity, warm comfort in a bowl.  This time last year I was very excited about a dairy-free cream of zucchini soup.  This year I'm excited to be able to eat dairy again!  And of course that means that I came up with a new soup ;)  As usual I don't really have a recipe - more of an approximation - and a vague one at that ;)  

 I cut up a medium sized zucchini and put it in the pot with 3 large potatoes cut up, added water enough to cover the potatoes (this went in first) and one organic mushroom boullion cube.  I cooked it until everything was good and soft and the whizzed it up using a hand blender.  Then came the fun part - I poured several glugs of light cream in :)  And a big spoonful of butter :)  And salt of course :)

That's it.  It was pure heaven.  And really anyone who has a garden has a whole bunch of these kicking around, so the best part is that we can eat this soup every day for a week if we want to!!!!

Last year I started freezing zucchini too.  I just cut it up small enough to put in the food processor, and whiz it up until it's pureed.  Into the freezer bags it goes.  It's my secret ingredient in my spaghetti sauce :)

Things have been really really busy around here.  A bathroom reno (our only bathroom ahem), and at the same time shifting 4 different rooms around (3 bedrooms and my studio!)  The house is entirely upside down.  Then of course there is the fall harvest - soooooo many potatoes to dig!  Wood to be stacked.  APple sauce to make, tomato sauce ditto......

I could go on.   And of course a new homeschool year has begun with all that that entails.....

I haven't forgotten that I promised another tutorial - I just have to find my sewing machine first ;)  I realized that I definitely did not take enough photos - I was really enthusiastic with the pants, and then became so engrossed in the shirt that I forgot about the camera.   Soooooo for the sake of clarity, I will make another one, *remember to take photos* and finish that tutorial!  It's bugging me actually, so hopefully that can happen soon ;)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Heart Faces - Vroom Vrooooom

This is my entry for the I Heart Faces challenge of the week - Vroom Vroom...

"Adding a vehicle to a portrait session is a fun way to mix things up a bit!  This week’s entry should have some kind of vehicle in it (any form of transportation or even a toy!) AND a face.  Please make sure a face is clearly showing as well.  :)"

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Special thanks to Rachelle for taking this lovely photo when I was bummed to have forgotten my camera :)  Yay for uniting to never miss a shot ;)

Friday, September 10, 2010

This Moment

This Moment - inspired by Soulemama - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tutorial: Repurpose a Sweater into Child size Pants and Shirt - Part 1

I recently came across a gorgeous Cashmere sweater at a thrift store - in the pink I've always associated with Big Miss A.  I knew right off that that sweater was coming home with me :)  I actually managed to turn it into both pants and a shirt for her :)  I'll start with the pants for this tutorial.  I've found that the size of sleeves so far almost always yields pants that are around a size 4-5, tho they fit my 2 1/2 year old with a fair bit of room to spare since the cuffs just bunch a little at the ankle, or can be turned up.  I'd also say that a thinner sweater is ideal, and it should be very soft, - an itchy sweater will surely be rejected, and understandably so ;)

Part 1 - The Pants :)

I want to start off by saying that my inspiration started with my lovely friend Claire.  

First you need to grab a pair of leggings that fit your child well.  You're going to lay them on the sweater like so:

I'm afraid you'll have to bear with me - I tend to sew by eyeballing - especially for repurposing things.  As you can see in the picture (hopefully) the pants are folded in half and the crotch side (is there a technical term that is more appropriate here lol?)  is lying in the armpit.  I cut along the curve there, but left the other side alone (the outer edge of the pants, and the upper part of the arm of the sweater)  You could be more specific with your cuts at this point if you wanted the pants narrower, or shorter.  I followed the path of least resistance ;) (and the fewest seams ;)  )

I cut the top edge shorter than on the pants that I'm using as a guide, for  2 reasons:  1.  These pants are a bit long in the waist for my daughter, and 2.  The waist band that I'm going to attach is around 2-3 inches.  I would suggest that you look ahead and decide how you are going to do the waistband to decide the length here.

Do the same on the other shoulder, and you'll have 2 pieces like this. 

Next you will take one sleeve and turn it inside out.  You will take the other sleeve which should be right side out, and put it inside the inside out sleeve.  Line them up so that they fit exactly inside each other, line up the seams and sew the 2 pieces together along the curve.  I used my serger for this.  You could use a regular sewing machine for this I think, if you felted the sweater a bit first.  

This photo shows the pieces together as described before I sewed them together - the top layer is folded back a little to show all the pieces clearly.  When you sew, you pick up the top 2 layers and sew your seam starting at the top of the waist, and down the curve to the other end.  This part always makes me a little cross eyed lol!  And actually the first time I tried making pants this way I sewed one leg inside out! So do pay attention to make sure you've got everything where you want it.

On this sweater there was a convenient turtleneck type collar - if your sweater doesn't have one, you could either steal on from another sweater, or cut one from the body of the sweater.  You want this to be the right size to go around your child's waist, with a little extra for a seam allowance.  It was exactly the right size - I just trimmed the top straight.

Fold it in half, and sew together so that you have the waist band.

Like so :)

Ok - the  next part is probably the hardest part to explain, so here goes ;)

Open up your pants and lay them in front of you with the waist up.  They should be inside out.

You place the waist band inside the pants, with the raw edge at the top, and right sides together.  Am I making sense? (I hope so :)  )

I used my serger again - and stretching the waistband to match the size of the pants, I serged around the top of the pants attaching the waistband.

This is how they look after with the waistband pulled up.

Voila!  You're done :)  Wasn't that easy?

Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Enjoy :)

P.S.  Stay tuned for the second part of this tutorial where I explain the shirt  :)