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.

Emma’s Portrait Dress

Homeschooling friends of ours love American history. They love it so much that every year, sometimes even twice a year, they put on a week-long Adventures in Learning day camp for homeschooled children in the area to dress, play, learn, reenact, and create based on a specific event or time period.   They’ve been doing this for years. Our oldest two children were able to participate when we lived in Maine the first time. Our middle children have been participating since we returned. And now one of our Littles is finally old enough to go along.

IMG_3699Emma was looking forward to this for weeks. The sweet families that run Adventures in Learning has costumes for all the participants to wear, but when the program first began years ago, part of the week was spent creating costumes, so it’s a family tradition now for our children to wear their own instead of borrowing.

This fall, Adventures in Learning focused on the French and Indian War. We prepared Zach and Maddie a little bit by having them watch a PBS program on the war so that they’d understand more about what was happening and why. And then we got to the fun of costuming.

Maddie was able to wear a dress that Cate made when she attended the program. It needed a little bit of repair and altering, and the time period for it wasn’t quite right (I think Cate made it during a Civil War program.)  It was funny to think that Cate was sewing this when Maddie was only a baby, and now Maddie is wearing it.

Zach wanted to wear the Native American outfit I made him earlier this year for the Native American program. We had to add a bit to the length of the shirt, and we added a little bit more to the decorations. But that was all he needed.

IMG_3701Emma needed a new dress.  I chose the Sensibility Portrait Dress pattern and used some cotton fabric that was in my stash.  It’s a pretty French blue print with very small gold squares. Quite appropriate for a French and Indian War dress, yes?  Since I made this pattern before (was it really almost 3 years ago?), it was a whole lot easier to put together this time.   I stitched up the gathered bodice option for Emma. The fit seems to be a little more flexible than the smooth bodice and I’m hoping she can wear this for a while.

IMG_3697I wasn’t going to make a petticoat for her, but at the last minute I decided to whip a simple one up. (There are directions in the pattern for a petticoat. It’s really just the skirt portion of the dress stitched to a waistband.) I took a very quick measurement of Emma’s waist the night before the start of the French and Indian War and sent her to bed. It turns out that my measurement was taken just a little too quickly. The snap that I sewed on for fastening wouldn’t stay fastened because the waist was a little too snug. So a simple safety-pin came to the rescue, although it does make the petticoat hang a little crooked – the hemlines are all straight, but the petticoat shows more in the front than in the back.

IMG_3696Emma is pretty happy with her new dress. I’m hoping that it will become part of her regular wardrobe. Little girls in long dresses are a favorite thing, even if the dress isn’t white with a blue satin sash.

I’m linking up with Katy at No Big Dill‘s Sew all 26 weeks alphabet project. This dress is perfect for week F I think – for the French and Indian War Dress.

The Moon Loves Pink

IMG_3676Mama.

Yes. Sophie?

The moon is following me.

It is? Why is the moon following you?

Because it loves me.

Why does the moon love you, Sophie?

Because I’m pink.

IMG_3682It happened that when I was finished knitting a shrug for Maddie, that Sophie asked for a sweater for herself. In pink, of course.  It just so happened that I had just the right amount of yarn in just the right color in my stash, purchased from a thrift store not too long ago.

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I’m still very much a beginning knitter, but the tiny tea leaves pattern caught my eye. I had a little trouble figuring out the pattern early on, which I’m sure has much more to do with my pattern reading skills than the pattern itself.  I realized after I was finishing the third decorative section that my first one was, well, facing the wrong side. I didn’t really feel like starting over (again) so I just went with it. I prefer to call it a variation, not a mistake.

IMG_3678(my ravelry page link) I ended up having to reknit the edges 3 or 4 times as I just couldn’t quite get the picking up of stitches and then the buttonholes done correctly. (Note: it is very important to pick up the same number of stitches on the left side as the right. Picking up 38 stitches on one side and then 64 on the other makes for a sweater closure that doesn’t line up. )  The neck seems a little big, but I think it might be my knitting skills or the yarn that makes it that way. I’ll have to try the pattern again to see.

IMG_3680I used some buttons that I’ve had in my stash for a very long time. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I clipped them from an outfit that my oldest daughter wore when she was about 2 or 3. I think that makes them officially vintage buttons.

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Sophie is very happy with her sweater.  And so is the moon. Because, I’m told, the moon loves pink.

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.

Traditions in Play

One of the benefits of having a large family is the passing down of playthings. We haven’t kept a lot of the toys that the Olders played with when they were little, but we do have some of the favorites. One of them is the dollhouse. IMG_3375This dollhouse is on child #5 and #6, sometimes even #7 joins in the fun. We’ve had this for … 20+ years. And it’s still a favorite. I do love when the Littles play nearby so I can overhear their play. Just after I snapped the photo above, they had the table all set with all the “family” gathered around, and Emma had the Papa lead them in prayer.

IMG_3385 IMG_3386The Middles, Zach and Maddie, have quite a collection of Webkinz (oh, how I dreaded when another was introduced back during the Webkinz frenzy). See how sweet they look driving along in the school bus and the tractor?  Don’t be fooled. Since moving into our cottage here, they have a tradition of launching, yes, launching, the toy-stuffed vehicles down the hill in the back.

IMG_3390One… Two… Three… GO!

IMG_3391IMG_3392I’m not sure what the goal of this game might be. I don’t even think there is a goal. But the laughter and shouts of victory are enough to keep them playing, and this Mama smiling, for hours.

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.

My dog, Silas

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IMG_3335-2 IMG_3334-2 IMG_3333-2   No, we didn’t get another dog and name it after our son. Our son has been pretty enamored by dogs lately. He watches our family pet, Abby, eat and drink. He lies on her bed when I don’t see him doing it. He walks by me and licks my arm. Yes, really.  He has now decided to start drinking out of the dog’s water bowl, which I think is kind of, um… gross, so I put a clean bowl of his own down on the floor.  Did you really think I’d let him drink from the dog’s bowl?

Every time I look at these I crack up. Ready? One more.

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Silas Turns Two

IMG_3293-2 IMG_3294-2 IMG_3298-2 IMG_3305-2 IMG_3310-2 IMG_3313-2 IMG_3314-2Our littlest Little just had a birthday. It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by since the whirlwind weekend when he arrived. But my nursing babe is a babe no more. (Though he is still nursing.)

We’ve been trying to reduce the amount of Things in our home lately (seems like we’ve been working on it for a year), so this birthday created a bit of a dilemma for us. Do we purchase cheap toys that he doesn’t need and won’t play with for long? That’s an easy one. No.  Do we purchase more expensive but classic toys that really engage his imagination but that we just don’t have room for right now? A much more difficult question to answer.  The original answer was yes, just one little thing. But the day that I tried to go to the Bella Luna shop in Rockland because I was in the area, I found a note on the door saying they needed to close early. So we needed to do some rethinking.  And the final answer is one that all our children still living at home are embracing. We aren’t giving birthday “gifts” any more. From this birthday on (with a few exceptions here and there, since rules are made to be broken, after all) we’re going on birthday excursions.

Silas is a little too young to choose his place, so we chose for him. One of our favorite places to visit is a not too far away orchard, complete with ice cream, apple picking, goat petting and feeding, and a hay ride. We skipped the corn maze on this day since the day was about Silas and we didn’t want to wear him out.  But oh, did he enjoy his ice cream. And petting and watching the goats, especially one of the little ones who was nursing. And going on a hay ride, pulled by one of his very favorite things – a big tractor.  And being pulled in the wagon. (Which he was very reluctant to leave behind and tried to push it to the van for us to bring home.) And of course we picked a few bags of apples to enjoy.  It was a very good day, indeed. Happy Birthday, Little Man!

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.