Category Archives: Seasons

In and Around the Cottage

Homing::  After moving things in and out and around Maddie’s room (which is still not quite done) I had a chance to make some changes in other corners of our cottage. One of them was moving a tall bookcase out of Maddie’s room and into the little girls’, which made the coziest of reading corners. Made even better by moving two rocking chairs and a sheepskin. This is now one of their favorite nooks.IMG_3857-1

Learning:: With all the sewing I’ve been doing lately (no, Maddie’s quilt is still not done) the girls have all been watching intently. Grandma’s sewing machine has now been relocated to Maddie’s bedroom. I’m hunting for the perfect sewing/crafting/schooling table for her little space, but I haven’t found it yet. I did see one on Craigslist about 2 months before we needed one, but at the time the need wasn’t there and I couldn’t justify the purchase. Hmph.

My back up machine was brought out for the little girls’ to practice some machine stitching. Just on paper right now, following paths and lines and curves to learn how to control the machine, but Emma is quite anxious for some fabric and a project.  Soon, baby.IMG_3973-1

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Out of doors::  We’ve had quite a mix of weather this fall. One day brisk and breezy, the next rainy, then a treat of balmy and practically warm for these parts at this time of year, then a flurry or three whispering of things to come. My almost every morning routine (unless one of the Middles goes for me) includes donning happy boots, fetching water, either from the hose or the house depending on how frozen things are, spending time with the goaties, and then taking a brisk walk around the field, through the trees, up to the garden and back to the house, grabbing an armful of firewood on my way in which usually lasts until afternoon chore time.IMG_3825-2-1I do think that these goats have the very best view. Luckily, they willingly share it with us when we visit. IMG_3822-2-1

In the kitchen:: After a bit of a cooking slump, I revisited some of my favorite cookbooks for some menu ideas. I’m doing a much better job of meal planning and carrying out those plans, assisted by a weekly trip into town where I have two hours to run errands all alone. Thrifting? Yes, please! Grocery shopping? Why not.   Tonight’s supper was boeuf bourguignon.  Perfect on this chilly night.

Making:: I’m still working on Maddie’s quilt. I had a bit of trouble with the machine quilting. After stitching along just fine for a whole lot of the quilt, I was suddenly faced with the thread breaking over and over again, and then the needle breaking. Rethreading, cleaning the machine, changing the needle and even switching to a different thread didn’t solve the problem. After sleeping on it I realized that the weight of the quilt was pulling too much. So I adjusted my sewing table and propped the quilt up better. Problem solved! And I’m getting oh-so-close to being done. I’m not sure who’s more excited, Maddie or me. IMG_3989-1

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First Frost

Is it really possible that we didn’t have a hard frost until now? This October has been so wonderfully mild, allowing us time to get many, but not all of our outside projects done before cold weather set in.  But now this frost is a sure sign that winter is on its way.IMG_3792

I switched out the Littles’ summer clothes for winter just this past weekend. Just in time I think, but there are a few gaps in their wardrobe that needs to be filled. Which of course leaves me dreaming of patterns and fabrics and wishing for more sewing time but knowing that realistically I’ll probably have to just go shopping for it.IMG_3791

The woodstove has been brought into full use, no longer just for evening fires, we’re keeping it burning even during the afternoons as well. So the all day tending and evening banking is an added beat to our daily rhythm.IMG_3789The water for the goats was frozen over. And the hose that we use to fill their buckets is no longer functional with these very chilly temperatures, so morning and afternoon chores now require a trip back to the house to fill the water buckets.IMG_3782IMG_3787The woodbox has reappeared from summertime cellar storage to be filled from outside every day.  A chore that the little girls always want to try to help with, but because of their little arms is more often assigned to one or both Middles, Mama or Papa. Taking turns does seem to make it less of a chore, and the little ones contribute by carrying a log or two inside to add to the woodbox. How they love to help!IMG_3785Christmas wish lists are being made and some secret gift making has begun, and a daily update of the Christmas countdown is brought to me by Zach (56 days in case you were wondering). Requests for Christmas lights in bedrooms have been made, so another trip to cellar storage needs to be made soon.IMG_3783

IMG_3786We’re enjoying these last few days of evening light, knowing that the coming time change will mean that Papa drives home from work in the dark, the goats need to be tucked into bed that much sooner, and the very precious light will need to be taken advantage of by earlier rising. Oh, I so don’t look forward to earlier rising!

How Much Wood :: Split

Once all the cutting was done, it was time for the next step in our wood gathering winter prep.

IMG_3636All those logs need to be split into smaller pieces that will actually fit in the wood stove. The old-fashioned axe and stump and lots of labor sounds romantic. Unless you’re the one assigned the job and you try to split the first log. Yes, there is a lot to be said for machines.

IMG_3637IMG_3639These two worked all day long for two full days. And the little pile that began like this:

IMG_3641Looked like this when they were finished:

IMG_3704And that, my friends, is a beautiful site when you live in Maine.

IMG_3644Silas loves these days of out-of-doors work.

Nature Table Fail

I love the look of a Waldorf and Montessori style room. They are so warm and welcoming. The rooms are designed not just for the sake of design, but for the exploration of the child who lives in the space.

IMG_3558 The amazing autumn that we’ve been having, combined with my love for the look of these naturally styled rooms had me planning a nature table. You know, just like the ones that Waldorf and Montessori mom’s do.

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This is what a nature table looks like. It’s just what it sounds like. A small table or tray with bits and pieces of the outside brought in and placed at the perfect height for a child to explore.

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Source: montessorimum.com

I mean, really, that can’t be too hard at all right? That’s what I thought too.

I collected a few little pine cones and some fallen acorns along with some pretty leaves and placed them oh-so-neatly in a little tray and put it on a low cabinet so the Littles could see and play and touch.

It lasted for about 5 minutes. As soon as Silas saw them, he began to use the pine cones as a hammer. Banging and banging them until they were shattered all over the cabinet and floor. Not too bad, I thought. He is, of course, touching and playing. Right? Well, the next morning my older son, Zach walked by our little nature tray. Mom? He says. What are these little white crawly things? What! Yuck!! Yes. Our acorns had little stowaways that hatched out in our nice warm house. Fortunately the didn’t wander far from the acorn, and they were easily disposed of.

The weevil larvae that had burrowed inside the acorns were a little too much nature inside my home, so the rest of the contents of the tray were promptly tossed back outside.  I am not a Waldorf Mom. I am not a Montessori Mom. And from now on,  we’ll be exploring nature outside. Where it belongs.

How Much Wood?

We’ve been running a bit behind schedule this past season or so. Preparing for winter is one of those things that absolutely must be done. We can, of course, survive without firewood. But, oh, how expensive oil heat is! So the wood needs to be brought in.

IMG_3636I was, I admit, a bit concerned that we didn’t have any firewood prepared at this very late date, but my husband reassured me that he’d be able to get it done in time. The trees were already down and were just waiting for him to have the time to cut them into length.

I can’t tell you what a welcome sight this was for me. Our Maine winters can be very cold and very long. A well stocked wood shed is as much comfort as a well stocked pantry.  He was going to try to get some more cut into stove length, but an ill-timed run in between chainsaw and rock ended that pretty quickly. No worries. I think we’ll have enough.

Very Bunch of Chilly

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This weekend our Middles packed up and headed out for a weekend at camp. While it isn’t the first time they’ve been gone, it is the first time they’ve gone to camp. Exciting, yes. But I admit I was a little apprehensive about how they’d fare their first weekend away to an unfamiliar place.IMG_3342-1

Knowing that they were only about an hour away, that they’d really only be away for two nights, and that they’d be together was comforting for this Mama.  Our little home was so very quiet with only three Littles running about, noticed especially at suppertime when we rearranged ourselves around the table to make those empty chairs seem not so empty.  And while the Middles enjoyed their time away, it was so very nice to have all of our usual chairs filled when they returned home.  IMG_3346-4As usual for September, the weather has shifted a bit more. We’re not yet in Autumn, but we’re not in the midst of summer either. The shadows have lengthened, the light has changed, and there’s a different feel to the air lately. The sun rises a little later and sets a little earlier, telling us that these summer days will be ending soon.  Sophie noticed it when she was outside after sunset and ran back inside for a jacket, announcing, “It’s a very bunch of chilly outside.”

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We still have so many summer projects that we want to finish, and some that we haven’t even started yet. The change in the weather is working to encourage us to move as quickly as we can through the list and focus on those things that are most important, like firewood. Because, as Sophie said, “It’s a very bunch of chilly”. And we know that a warm fire will be welcomed very soon.

An Island Visit

A glance at the calendar told me that we’re in the last days of summer. I had been planning a visit to a dear friend since spring, and just hadn’t made the time to do it. So I put all housework, garden work, school planning and other things aside and gathered bathing suits and towels, packed a quick lunch for us to eat in the car, and the children and I were on our way.

IMG_2956-1I had forgotten the beauty that filled the drive from my home to her home. We didn’t pull over into any of the planned “scenic lookout” places, but we did make a quick stop, due to a Little complaining of a bit of a tummy ache, near an old cemetery at the top of a hill overlooking the world. (Okay, maybe not the entire world, but it did seem that way.) The view was enjoyed, the tummy ache subsided quickly, and we were back on the road.

I wish I could convey the peace that overcame me as we slowly made our way over hills, around turns, over a large bridge and a small causeway to the final turn to my friend’s home, finally arriving at the farm that has been in their family for generations.  The Littles ran off for a quick guided tour, thrilled to see baby chicks and turkeys. Then we did a quick change into swimming gear (well, the children did, us Mama’s knew how cold that water would be).

IMG_2968-4A little parking adventure, a short walk, and we arrived at the sand beach. For those of you unfamiliar with the coast of Maine, beaches are plentiful, but SAND beaches are precious few and far between.

IMG_2965-2Oh, that water was cold! But the children didn’t seem to mind at all.

IMG_2970-5IMG_2959-1It was, like all days spent with a dear friend, perfect. Sun, sand, water, and being with one I love so much. If I were a romantic, like Anne who lived in Green Gables, I’d call her a kindred spirit. (Good thing I’m not a romantic, right?)

This day, spent on an island at the end of the world, watching our children play in the water, taking in the abounding beauty of God’s creation, visiting and sharing life with a friend, this was a day of peace and joy. Exactly what this Mama needed in the midst of a very busy season.

Celtic Interlude

Saturday night storms brought a welcome weather change. Finally, an end to the hot humid days we’ve been having, returning us to the mid-70 degree temperatures we love about Maine summers. Before heading down the coast to spend some time visiting my grandfather, we stopped to enjoy a bit of the Celtic festival taking place nearby. Image

Image We enjoyed bit of bagpipes, drumming and dancing, then grabbed a bite to eat. Our family seems to always gravitate away from the crowds, so we moved toward the almost empty waterfront for our quick picnic which included climbing, playing, and enjoying the view. Image

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IMG_2869-4A walk through the vendors, a quick hello to friends, and we were on our way. Just a quick interlude, but enjoyed ever so much.

Capture the Summer

This summer has been flying by and we haven’t even gotten to the beach once yet. I know that this week would be perfect to go since it is so very hot here, but it seems almost too hot to sit out in the sun. (Hot is a relative term. It’s been hitting 90 degrees every day. Here in Maine, we call that HOT. Down in Texas, it was a cooler summer day.)   I think I need to just plan a day and go.

Even though we haven’t made it to a day of ocean side swimming, we have been doing a bit of summer seizing. Yesterday we met a lot of friends at the park for a game of capture the flag.Image

The waterfront was hot and still without the characteristic breeze to blow any relief until the sun began to set and the shadows grew long enough to cover the field.  The kids played several rounds of the game, with a few moments of rest in between and during the game. Image

After a while a band joined the scene at the waterfront for what looked to be a video shoot. Once the cameraman got all the shots he needed, the band had a little fun playing around. And we had a little fun listening.  ImageOne of the band members had a beautiful old Saint Bernard named Hugo. Silas followed him everywhere, and finally had a chance to sit and pet the “puppy”.  Image

Capture the flag gave us a chance to capture a bit of the summer.  Next stop – the beach!

Nemo, or Another (Winter) Day in Maine

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I’m not 100% certain what the official snowfall total was for our area. Certainly less than the 3 feet seen by some places in Connecticut. I think we got between 20 and 24 inches of snow. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s a lot of snow for one storm. But when I look outside my window it all seems so… right. This is Maine, after all. And this is winter. So we’re supposed to have snow on the ground. The odd thing to me, is that the snow we just got, is the only snow on the ground.
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We fully expected to lose power, and we were completely prepared for that. But we are so very thankful that we didn’t. It’s so much nicer to watch a blizzard when your lights are on and your toilet flushes. (I can handle not having lights, but toilets that don’t flush, that’s another story. Maybe I was scarred a bit when we lost power for 2 days only 1 day after Silas was born. Flushing was a luxury I was desperate for, and lifting the 5 gallon bucket to fill the toilet 24 hours after giving birth is off limits, but my pride insisted on taking care of things myself. But you really didn’t need to know that.)

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But this storm, oh, this one was perfect in it’s peacefulness. Because power never went out, my husband wasn’t called in to work. We just sat and watched the snow fall. And we made popcorn, and watched the snow fall. And I knitted, and watched the snow fall. And we played games, and watched the snow fall. It was, I think, exactly what we’re supposed to do sometimes. Taking time out from the very busy schedules we make for ourselves. IMG_1057
Maybe because we don’t know how to stop on our own and pause, God sends us a reason every now and then. IMG_1042

After the storm, then sun dawned bright and even more glorious than usual. IMG_1062Maybe it was because of the reflection on all the pristine, glittery white with the brilliant blue sky as the backdrop. Maybe it was because the intensity of the storm made us appreciate the brightness of the light so much more. Whatever it was, it seems to me that everyone steps out a little more gingerly than before. IMG_1048-1
Taking extra time to add extra layers. IMG_1053
Setting about the work to be done to shovel out.
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Focusing on the task at hand instead of on a myriad of details that really aren’t important.
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Greeting the world a little at a time instead of all at once. IMG_1049 Perhaps this is the rhythm of winter that we’re missing. This bit of hibernation that gives us a chance to reset. The news headlines said the storm paralyzed New England. From my point of view, I think it refreshed us.