This past week has had me returning again and again to my summer manifesto. Time for a little sand between my toes.
Even if it is just in the back yard sand box.
Some of you expressed interest in the sawed log sand box I was fiddling with in an earlier post, asking to see it when it was done. It is done. Enough for now, at least.
Finnian showed me very quickly that I would need to secure the logs together. This was unfortunate, because I thought I had landed on the perfect free, natural, easy solution. Find some logs, line them up, fill with sand. Not so much.
Mike handed over the drill, power screwdriver, and a box of (pricey) Timberlock screws. I used some scrap pieces left from our chicken coop to screw the logs together. The vertical corner logs are screwed in as well. I drilled holes half way through the vertical corner logs, then screwed them to the ends of the two adjacent logs.
The kids love it. They both fit. (Forgive the old sand box and plum collecting bucket in the background.) I am still thinking about a permanent lid, but for a temporary solution, I just laid down old window screens and weighed them down with a piece of wood. (It works well enough that I may just use it permanently, unless we become frustrated with rain.) You can see that I didn't get a tight enough fit with the corner log in the front right corner. Sand is leaking out.
I admit, part way through this, I thought to myself I might just check Craigslist for a bigger plastic sand box, but now that it is done and the kids are happy with it, I am pleased.
The past week plus has been a bit rough and I am feeling a bit stretched. So what better way to begin a new week than to share some treasured and meditative moments from the weekend and a list of things I am grateful for right now?
Sprinkler fun at Uncle Stian's house
We harvested nectarines and ummm....zucchini that I clearly didn't notice earlier!
She "painted" with water. I took a "better" photo with better lighting, but I liked all the shadows in this one.
Lala invited me to color with her. It was one of my favorite chunks of time. I had forgotten how meditative and soothing coloring is.
I am grateful for:
Time away from the computer
Garden fresh goodies
Homemade (everything, really)
Getting an email from my parents (out of town and back in email/phone contact)
Our young friend, Julia, turned 6 last week and her party was on Saturday. Julia's mom, Liz, had suggested that Julia might want one of the crayon caddies and one of the stitched notebooks I have made. Bella and I thought she might also like a stenciled shirt.
Mike made this caddy. He used wood from the free woodpile, which I think might be birch. Bella and I made a stitched notebook to go with it. Making things with my kids that are usually "my" crafts is something I love. She sat on my lap while I sewed and chose the cover art, pinked edge, and thread colors.
Julia loves super heroes (and Wonder Woman), so we made her her own super hero logo for her shirt. (Last year, we made her a cape and crown.) For all of the freezer stenciling, I traced and cut, but Bella did all the painting herself. I loved that, despite the extra blobs here and there.
Bella couldn't be left shirtless, so we made a shirt for her, too. (Paint splatters got near the collar, so we free handed a heart, which she likes as much as the butterfly.)
And perhaps the most amusing of the fiber painting we did was for Finnian. He's growing up so quickly and is a potty loving guy now. When I went to purchase underpants for him, I was disappointed with the selection and came home with white.
Bella and I thought his little bottom deserved a little something more! (I don't know why the big rig print bled like that, but in the end, we decided to keep it and call it clouds of dust.)
*Most of the stencils came from Spray Paint Stencils. The super hero logo was my own design and the giraffe stencil came from The Creative Family, by Amanda Blake Soule.
I've decided to take a little break from the weekly Wednesday Corner View. This week, I am sharing a photo I took, appropriate for Garden Mama's Wash Wednesday series.
I have a love/hate relationship with a few stores, one of which is IKEA. We have one near us and I was in awe when Lala began recognizing it and shouting it out at about age 3. She taught her little brother and IKEA may actually have been one of his first 25 words.
In my defense, we drive by it several times a week. We don't actually go that often. However, I have found that IKEA is an incredibly wonderful place to take kids on a rainy day. The store and the food are kid/family friendly. The store is entertaining for my kids and the food appeals to them and is an inexpensive treat.
My love/hate comes into play because I don't like big box stores. There are a handful I flat out refuse to enter, but IKEA is one at which I occasionally shop. The prices, and generally the ethics, are good and the design is excellent. The quality is so-so, depending on what you are buying, and although I try and be creative with thrifted or homemade items most of the time, I am incredibly grateful to have an IKEA near us.
My total love and appreciation for vintage items is unwaivering, but occasionally I don't want a particular item used or I am just too tired to have to bring something home, fix it, and refinish it before using it.
So all that is to say that late last week, my brother, the kids, and I found ourselves at IKEA in search of a couple of items, and as we walked through the home organization section, Lala spotted their laundry drying racks, dragged me over, pointed at the smallest one and said "This is my size. Would you please buy this for me so I can hang laundry too?"
My first response was almost a no. It turned into a maybe as it came out of my mouth, then I looked at the price tag and thought for a moment. I put it into the cart and brought it home.
She has been asking me for the smallest laundry items (her's and Finnian's preferably) and been hanging ever since.
Just the kind of lesson in responsibility I am happy to teach and just the kind of "I want" I can handle.
Inspired by the dragonflies I have been seeing, by the flowering artichokes in our garden (Yes, I let some go to flower. Shame on me, but the bees do adore them and I adore attracting bees), and by Melissa of Tiny Happy, I did a little ceramic art this week.
I don't draw well, but this was easy, I was really pleased with the results, and I think ceramic art would make sweet gifts.
Each month, at the end of the month, I post about how I have done with my monthly goals during the month and to share my goals for the month ahead. This "month in review" helps me to keep track of progress, so even during the months I feel as though I am going backwards, I can see some concrete forward motion.
The completion of June marks our journey half way through 2010. A pause here as I sit stunned (again...it is a recurring theme in my life) at how quickly time dances ahead. As I mentioned a month ago, taking a step toward balance, one month at a time, has been so positive for me and just the right speed. During June we bought more new items than we have in months, Mike's project deadline got pushed (meaning continued long hours), school let out for summer, and a few other significant factors mean I am entering July determined to reign in our spending and let go the feeling that I need to be present online. (I feel as if I say this often, but somehow summer really is allowing me to ditch the computer in exchange for sprinkler time and popsicles with my kids. And the stars...it had been awhile since I shut down the power at night and sat on the deck and just looked up. I did that the other night. It made all my anxiousness dissipate.) So another step ahead, this month, barefoot, with sand between my toes.
a step toward balance: January: I created a schedule. It has morphed a few times now, but July is the first month I can say that I am functioning more on rhythm and less on schedule. A few months ago I was a schedule girl. There have been a couple of instances when I have had to remind myself of my summer manifesto plan to set "ish" times, but mostly, that is working out dreamily.
February: I cut back on my daytime computer use. Soon after I realized I needed to step back more in the evenings as well. I was still online a reasonable amount, although this blog did see a drop in readership, both in page hits and followers. (I actually lose followers regularly. Thinking I should remove that little widget!) Well the very fact that I noticed that struck me as rather pathetic, so I am pleased that the advent of summer (and probably more importantly, my own personal growth), have me feeling much more blase' about blogging and far more interested in living life fully. So I am.
March: I focused on our family's diet and nutrition. Another area we slipped away from in June. July I plan to be back at it. In fact, in July, I am challenging myself to eat down our food stockpile, eat from the garden, and only then buy more food.
April: My goal was to get back to exercising. I was successful with this through May, but June has been a challenge. I had decided to continue focusing on sleep and exercise time slipped away. I really wish there were more than 24 hours in a day and that I didn't have to spend any of them cleaning! When I get my sleep on track, I will be back at this. Although it sounds very "program" (it is), I have been very successful with Body for Life in the past and I would like to resume it.
May: My goal was sleep. I am doing better with this, but our kids continue to have a hard time with bedtime the past two months, and their sleep affects mine. We all seem to be sleeping better through the night, but I really do need "me" time after they go to sleep.
June: I extended my sleep and exercise goals into the month of June and this might be the first month I did not succeed as well as I would have liked with my monthly goal.
July: I wish I could step forward to something new after a pause and repeat in June, but I need to continue focusing on sleep, then add exercise back into my mornings. I also want to eat down our food stockpile (as mentioned above) before shopping more. One step at a time, even if I trip, right?
A lovely group of women have joined with steps of their own towards balance and flow. We've had several more people join us the past couple months and there are some amazing women out there working on goals of their own with input and encouragement to share. I urge you to click through and see how they are all doing and if you care to join, just let me know so I can link to you, then grab a button so you can link back.
I am choosing a word to focus on this month, as well. My word is: Relax.
We clipped our chickens' wings. We have a small yard, want them to free range as much as possible, but don't want them to escape. To clip, cut about 2 inches from the tip of the feathers of one wing (not both). This causes the birds to fly unevenly, so they can't get height to fly out of a yard or large coop.
2 embroidered daisy prints, a pile of vintage linens, doilies, 5 aprons, 3 old cameras, a card catalog, 2 rag rugs, and other assorted vintage goodies, all from my maternal family, gifted from my parents. Thank you, mom and dad!
received/acquired new: This has been a heavy month of new. I don't know why. As noted below, it has been a heavy month on groceries, too. Again, I don't know why. Transition? Fatigue? Everything needing replacing/DIY at once? All of them? All I know is that we need to reign in spending again.
2 kids camelback backpacks. Thanks, Nonno and Grandma!
shirt for Mike. Thanks, Annie!
Dremel Tool for Mike's father's day gift
Waterproof mattress pad
Band saw blade
Chicken feeder and waterer
School uniform (Bella's school is switching to uniforms with the school logo this year, so everyone has to buy new. I am already volunteering for a used uniform buy/sell/trade next year!)
Greens and homemade bread, with grapes, brie, and grilled eggplant.
groceries: 696.13.This is embarrassingly and frustratingly over budget. (By about $300!)
While there are plenty (plenty!) of links to peruse, below, I have been true to my own steps toward balance and summer manifesto, and have been offline more. (Okay, truth is, my kids are with me nearly 24/7, so it is hard to sneak in online time!) My presence with all of you online and inspired links will be a bit slimmer than normal for July and August. Lots of good stuff anyway! Enjoy!
I love this post on learning and remembering to surrender, from Kelly of Misadventures of Kelly and Kelly.
Lala's Tribal Times quick question. Thought-provoking and how could I resist a blog with the name Lala?
Mindfully Mothering workshop offered through Threading Light. It was worthwhile and I recommend it if it is offered again.
I have blogged about our friends, the "H" Family, before. I blogged about Liz being my coffee companion. Josh has helped us around the house. Lily and Finn Luca are best buddies. And Julia and Bella are who brought us all together in the first place.
With the advent of summer, Liz and I discussed how to transition our weekly toddler trade through the summer and keep our big girls entertained through a summer with no official summer camps.
Enter Camp C-H. (Our last names, abbreviated for privacy!)
On Tuesdays, our girls are signed up for a two hour ceramics class through the city. (Read: fun and cheap!) During their class, Liz or I play with the toddlers at the adjacent park. The following week, we trade. When it isn't our turn to watch toddlers, we get a chunk of time for errands all by ourselves.
On Thursdays, we have our own Camp C-H day. Tuesday, Liz had the little ones at the park, so yesterday (we switched to Wednesday this week for a reason noted below) was my day to have all four kids for a whole day. It gave Liz the day off and me time with four of my favorite kids. Next week, Liz and I will trade so that I have the toddlers at the park on Tuesday and I have Thursday off.
We had a blast. For our morning activity this week, we went to the airport. My brother, Stian, has arrived back in town from Antarctica (where he works) and we went to collect him. What a fun adventure, talking about all we saw along the way.
Home again, and fed, the toddlers went (reluctantly) down for naps and the big girls and I chose our activity for the day. A tea party and then poster making for Julia's birthday party.
While we sipped, nibbled, giggled, and created, we made plans for what to do on our next Camp C-H day at our house.
Today, our friend Julia is 6! Happy birthday, Julia! Enjoy your special day with your family!
We have (or I should say Mike has) been working on a lot of wood projects lately. Not classy woodworking as I think he would like, but projects involving wood.
He finished the chicken coop. He says it looks shabby (not a proud statement), but I like it. Made to fit our small yard, this is home to our 6 chickens, when they aren't hanging out in their pen or our yard. The white tubes up the front are his clever design for their grit food. The food is poured in the top and comes out the bottom through holes the chickens peck at. As they eat it, more food drops down. The tubes are two different heights, because Isabella requested on at her height so she could continue to help feed them. (Although, she much prefers to offer them greens, fruits, and other chicky treats.)
In the midst of the chicken pen and chicken coop building, his little helpers needed a place to bang, so he made them one. A work bench all their own. Finnian, especially, loves it. I have long since realized that things take us a long time to finish around here because of kids. Because someone has to care for them while work is taking place. When they "help" things take longer. And because dada cannot resist pausing on the project at hand to make them something special. As noted on the workbench, above, and the wooden pencils he made for the kids, below, out of sticks and project scraps. And this woody project is mine. Our little plastic turtle sandbox has been great. I know, everyone hates plastic, but I have loved this freebie score. It's sturdy, came with a lid that fit (our neighbor has 7 cats), etc. But...it is too little for two (plus, as we often have friends) kids who continue to love sand play. So I thought about other free options and figured the local wood pile might do. Initially, I imagined my (yes, my) wooden sandbox with vertical logs, but very quickly realized this would take a lot of logs that I would either have to dig and "plant" or secure in some way. So when I read Adrie's Rythm of the Home article, I smiled and settled on horizontal logs. Below, my first new sandbox configuration. Nope, no sand yet. And there won't be until I (ugh) secure it. My little guy took the whole thing apart in about 10 seconds. The finished product? Stay tuned... (Edited to add: Yes, it will have a lid!)