Thursday, November 19, 2015

Knitting ~ my first finish

There is a list that I made for myself for winter makes for Liam.  After looking at his closet and between hand me down and gifts, a few essential items were needed for this colder season.  The first up was a beanie.  He had outgrown all of his other beanies and it was time for a new one.  I have been wanting to learn how to knit for such a long time, and it's so funny how this little guy has pushed me out of my someday mentality into a more proactive right now state of mind.  Children. They make you brave I tell you.

I decided on tincanknits's barley pattern on my first project.  This site is wonderful to learn from for a lot of their beginning projects have tutorials on how to go about doing step by steps portions of the pattern. was also an amazing resource in learning.  Now I'm hooked and most of those free moments go to adding rows.  Knitting is wonderfully portable I'm finding so it actually goes with me everywhere and a few stitches here and there are added throughout the course of a day.

Are you wondering why I don't have any pictures of Liam wearing his new hand knit beanie?  Well... apparently this little boy doesn't like it on his head (Insert weeping emoticon).  I've tried everything - even on really windy blustery days, as soon as I whip it out of the bag he goes crying and running the other way.  Oh well.  Ross tells me to make him one and then he will model beanie wearing for Liam in the hopes of inspiring our little boy to keep his mama knit hat on.  A beanie for Ross is next on the list!

Currently on the needles though is a scarf for my dad.  Once again the pattern is from tincanknits and it is actually perfect for practicing those beginning stitches.  That stripe of knit stitches keeps it so very interesting.  My dad comes in a weeks time and I'm crossing my fingers that this present will be ready for him by then.  He celebrated his birthday a week ago and it has been on my heart to create a little handmade for him, and to also have our own little birthday celebratory dinner for him during his short visit.  My dad... such a special man in my eyes.  He is the one who taught me how to appreciate handmade presents and cards you see, and I would so much love to gift him with something that has so many wishes and good thoughts knit into it with every stitch.

November is here and it is almost over.  Can you imagine that next week is Thanksgiving? Oh my where is the time going!

Happy Thursday everyone.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Finding Center

Sometimes when everything feels like it's out of my reach, there are a few things that help me find my center.

::setting the table::

::spending a moment to think of someone else and to say a prayer for them::

::baking something special to celebrate a hard day completed and learned from::

::a breath::

One moment, one breath, one life.

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Good Day

There is a new little sou chef in the kitchen! Keeping with the momentum of having Liam in the kitchen, we made graham crackers together yesterday.  Monday is usually baking day for this little mama, but yesterday a baking project was chosen with the intention of inviting this little guy in to help me.

Liam's first picture, taken with my little Cannon PowerShot while we rolled out the dough. Future blogger perhaps? 

Catherine McCord's book Weelicious had the perfect graham cracker recipe for us to do together.  There is no egg in this cracker, which was really good because I saw Liam eating the dough several times. But oh it was so much work  fun helping him to use the rolling pin, cut out the cookies and place them on the sheet.

I love that picture above! He is checking out his pictures on my old camera all the while sporting a flour mustache!

While they were baking I set up a play dough station for him so that he could practice what we had just learned.  His little rolling pin is new to his little basket of kitchen things,  a yard sale find for a dollar.  Don't you just love those?

I don't know what made me do it, but I was so inspired from this experience with him... watching him touch the dough with his hands, watching him concentrate on a task with such amazing focus, it didn't feel complete to set up a quilt on the floor and have our regular floor picnic.  So I loaded a tray with snacks and we headed outside to the lanai, or porch.  And sitting there, watching him eat the fruits of his labor with the birds singing and the wind blowing our hair around us just made sense. It felt really really right. Eating outside, is a really big thing for this mama that tends to cower inside in fear of those dreadful tropical mosquitoes! But they stayed away so that we could enjoy ourselves.  We looked for geckos but they were being shy.  The birds came for a visit on the trees outside and Liam laughed as he watched them glide. We counted four trucks and three cars during our little alfresco snack time, in of course Hawaiian and English.  And we enjoyed the sun and the wind and the discovery of a broom.  This mama was inspired to put some love into this unused little corner of our home and went inside dreaming of a container garden space to grow flowers, a table and chairs for when Liam is older and we can really have lunch or perhaps afternoon tea.  

Afterwards Liam helped me with the Monday chores, (well Tuesday actually, but all that baking and flour play really messed up the floors) of vacuuming and mopping. We vacuumed the house together and then he rode in the sling while I mopped.  Doing things with Liam seemed to take three times as long, but the experience that he got out of it was so worth it.  Not only did he fully engage in an activity, but he helped me take care of our home, and I think that lesson has so many layers of meanings that we can explore.

The nap that he had in the afternoon was wonderful.  It was one of those tired but happy naps.  A nap that felt earned by this mama.  Isn't it wonderful when our children are tired because of all the experiencing that they have just had?  Nothing makes me happier.

And his little sleep was so deep that I got some prepping in to continue a WIP that has long needed attention.

Looking back it was a good day.  A very good day if I must say so myself.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thoughts on play

Is it November already? Oh my how October seems to have come and went! Can you imagine that there are only two more months to the year? Lately my thoughts have been turning to activities that Liam and I can do together.  Especially in the kitchen.  Not only to help him learn, but to also control the type of mess work he has going on in the kitchen while I am cooking or baking.  One morning, I was making these muffins again (I think I've made them every week since I discovered them!) and this time I was going to add mashed banana.  So I had Liam mash the bananas for me.  We had a blast, him and I - mashing bananas. Who knew that mashing fruit into a pulp could be so therapeutic! It's a stress reliever I tell you.  

After we finished mashing, I washed off the masher and gave it to him so that I could get the muffins mixed and into the oven. When I looked up from my work, you know what I found him doing?  You guessed it... 

Mashing his little crochet fruit in a mixing bowl in his play area.  He had just applied what we had done in the kitchen to his play.  I have read that children imitate real life in their play in books, but to see it in real life - amazing! I think I stared at him a bit awestruck for a moment before snapping to my senses and running to get my camera like a good little blogger to shoot pictures of this occurrence.  Please excuse the picture of his back, once I started snapping pictures of his face he got distracted.

You know how he applied a skill from real life to imitate in play? Well, the same went vise versa.  Liam here is spooning one crochet apple from one bowl to the other.  We had never introduced a spoon during meal times, but lately he has been reaching for one.  This morning I gave it to him and was blown away as he used his spoon to pick up food and put it into his mouth.  Food. Spoon. Mouth.  All in that order. Mind blowing! He taught himself how to use a spoon by playing with small objects and a spoon.  Looking back, I do recall him spooning those little crochet apples into his mouth and later chasing him to pry it out, but it never really amazed me until he did it with real food during breakfast.

A child's play... so much learning about the world and their part in it takes place through play.  That realization really has me contemplating the meaningful work that I can give him and the play stations that I create for him.

I know this stuff must be old news to veteran parents like yourself but to a newbie like me, I am learning so much.  And it is so amazing to see and such a blessing to be a part of it all with him.

I added a dish rag to his kitchen toys.  I've been thinking about teaching him how to dry his own dish lately.  I thought I would start off with play drying. Or perhaps real life drying.  Apparently it doesn't matter because there is such a wonderful overlap!

Cheers everyone!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Our Spot #1

Lately I've been thinking about spots. You know, that one spot that you claim as yours.  It might be that one chair in the living room, or a chair on the lanai (porch), or a table at your favorite coffee shop.  Perhaps it is a large flat rock on the beach or a bench in your garden.  A place that offers refuge and a place to recenter and find focus.  

We have a few, this boy and I.  I don't know if they will always remain ours. I would like to think that they will. That no matter what life changes around us, inside of us, these spots will remain ours.  A special place.  A place where we go to find whatever we are looking for and leave with our hearts and hands full.  I thought I'd document our spots here in this space.  So that even if our spots change, we will have these pictures and words to remember them by.  

Have you read Kim Payne's Simplicity Parenting?  This book and knitting have been my secret delights this week.  I once read this book on my kindle last year, and while it was an interesting read, it didn't quite captivate me as this second read has.  Perhaps it has something to do with holding a real copy in my hand verses a digital one. Or perhaps it has something to do with the age that Liam is at right now. Whatever the factor, I am so glad to be rereading it for there are so many treasures that have moved me to action this past week. 

Yesterday I posted about my spot.  A spot in our home that I claim as my own. Where work and rest takes place.  It had me thinking about spots that Liam and I have.  In our home. On our island. I realized that when I think about a spot that the two of us share, it is our spot at the beach.  The few spots of shade on the long stretch of white sand.  Right under a tree when our red cardinal and his lady friend visit so frequently.  Right by the large white piece of drift wood that lies beautifully and patiently waiting to be discovered.  Far enough for Liam to be comforted that the crash of the waves cannot reach him.  Close enough to the bathrooms and showers that will be used to end our time at the beach.  Yes... this spot has become ours without me really realizing it until now.  Will you visit with us? 

"How satisfying it is for a child to know a place - however modest - and to know it deeply. To explore it repeatedly, to know it in all of its seasonal faces, to identify one's own favorite little spots and crevices in it."  ~ Kim John Payne, M.ED., from Simplicity Parenting.  

"Children need experience, not entertainment, in play.  The more kids can do, see, feel, and experience for themselves in play, the more connected they will feel to the world, and the less overwhelmed". Kim Payne ~ Simplicity Parenting. 

Experiences.  How much of my day goes into planning experiences for this little boy.  Things that I want him to touch and taste and see.  Our spot on the beach offers so much of these wonderful sensory experiences.  

 Like the feeling of sand between our toes 

 Or sifting through our finger tips 

 Furry roots or smooth driftwood 

(Lack of picture because my camera and ocean water just don't mix!) 
 The water on our bodies and the wet sand in our hands.  

And rocks - of the corral or lava rock variety.  

Our spot on the beach provides so many opportunities for experience.  A beach day is so ripe for the potential to experience and to absorb and to heal.  I wrote earlier about how I was waiting for the joy to come.  This week, with the lack of sleep, it is so easy to think that nothing is going right.  That I am the worse parent because I lost my temper after a hard night, in a long line up of long and hard nights all because I couldn't drink my silly cup of coffee in peace. Not a proud moment.  But today was one of joy.  Where everything seemed to flow in the right direction, where everyone was rowing towards the same destination.  Where I was patient and fun and fully present. I'd like to think that it was because we got to visit our spot today.  

Our spot offered us a wonderful way to be in the water.  With the hard winter surf season starting to come in, the swells were too much for us to try and take part in.  But with the waves being so strong, a lagoon had been created sometime before we got there and a large section of water lay still and waiting.  Liam was scared because it was unfamiliar.  I was scared because I didn't know if it was clean enough to play in.  After a while of watching some other people playing and sitting in the little lagoon, this little mama got brave enough to venture into it.  Liam wasn't on the same page as me and furrowed deep into my arms.  I so wanted to just go back to our little spot on our blanket, but a part of me wanted for him to so badly experience the water. So my  mama desire won out and I plopped down in the water with him in my arms.  He protested and used my body like a ladder to climb who knows where he thought he was going.  I knew though that once he got in it, he would love it.  So I held him close and when he settled down, cupped some water and brought it up to him.  When he saw what it was he splashed the water in my hand.  Splashing water was familiar.  Over and over we did this until slowly he started to unlatch and reach out towards the water surrounding us. And oh what fun we had.  There was a game of lathering our bodies with the wet sand.  There was a game of washing our bodies clean.  There was throwing sand and rolling around in it.  There was stretching out like a cat to taste only to grimace at the salty wet flavor.  There was just the right amount of sun and just the right amount of wet cool.  Our little spot - knew just what we needed.  We were scared and then brave.  We dipped our toes in the little lagoon and then our hands and then our faces.  There were moments when we laughed and squealed and more times when we were just silent and thoughtful.  Life, comes in the hard but also the good.  And the good is always so sweet and tender and full of wonder.  

 Joy.  Oh yes indeed. Be it morning, or noon, or night - eventually it does come.  And when it does it takes your breath away and fills your heart with an ache because it is being stretched so full.  

Do you have a special spot?  I would so love to hear about it.  

Wishing you and yours blessings this weekend.   


Thursday, October 29, 2015

My spot

I asked Ross to shoot this picture of me last week so that I could remember.  My spot.  Where you can find me doing most anything that requires sitting.  Sewing, reading, eating.  All of my handwork is done here.  It is the perfect space.  The right grants me a view of the ocean. Straight ahead is the futon where Liam takes his naps.  I love those moments when he sits up while blinking the sleep from his eyes, and then they focus on me, sitting here.  Always here.  Usually stitching with a cup of something that use to be warm.

He likes to play where I am. Lately he sits on the ground next to me where we keep our can goods and stack them.  This is what I found this morning.  Oh my sweet little boy - no longer just a destroyer but a builder too.   There really is a time for everything is there not?

It's these little moments that are so precious to the heart, don't you think?  These moments that we want to hold close and remember.  A stitch here, a sip there. One can on top of the next.  Oh these small things that make up a moment, a day, a year, a life.  

So much sweetness.  My heart is so full. 

Blessings on this Thursday. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The colors of fall

Yesterday, all of my tricks came out of the bag in attempt to try and distract this little guy from the fact that razor sharp teeth are trying to cut through his tender and swollen gums.  Popsicles and ice cubes wrapped in dishcloths were eaten frequently, lavender oil foot massages, spending time cuddled in the sling, and playing with the art trunk.  I haven't brought this trunk down for him before, so it was fun to watch him discover all of its contents. 

Since Liam was born, I started collecting art supplies that we could use when he got a little bit older.  Surplus markers from when I taught at the school,  Prang watercolors from the thrift store (fifty cents a piece! Whoo hoo!) large color stamp pads gifted to us from my sister, a pack of moleskin journals, and then a few bottles of kitchen things that had gotten old to make art with: beans, pasta, lentils... thing like that.  

Liam was drawn to first the large ink pads, so I chose the colors that traditionally indicate fall, which to be honest has been a bit hard to teach him about considering that we don't have any deciduous trees with changing leaves around us, no apple orchards to visit, not a lot of the clear signs that the season is changing here.  I still haven't figured it out yet - how to teach him about fall here in the islands.  I have a few ideas about teaching him about the world and their different seasons, but I still draw a blank when it comes closer to home.  But I still have time! Which I am very grateful for!

Inspired by the pumpkin patch outing over the weekend, I did want to do a bit of traditional autumn colored art with him.  So we took all of the warm colors and made hand prints.  Liam really enjoyed discovering this new medium.  He had fun pushing down into the ink pad and looking at how the ink saturated his hands.  When I tried to encourage him to put his hands on the paper he protested a bit, so I stopped and let him be to discover.  This process is about him, I had to remind myself. Not necessarily about a finished product.

But the few handprints that we managed made me smile and this little piece went directly onto the fridge to sit for a while before eventually getting filed away.  On the back went the date, the medium, and a few notes about what it is and how he seemed to interact with the materials.  I have it in my mind to create him a yearly art book with samples of the best of his art.  I thought he would love to be able to look back when he was older to see how his art has evolved. Or to just see how much fun we had.

It is getting to that point now where he is really starting to understand.  I don't have to guide him as much.  He understands that when there is paper set with markers, or crayons, or paints, or ink pads now, that we put color to paper - and oh how he smiles as those few marks are made on that white white space.  Creating is starting to become so much fun with him.

What shall we make next I wonder....

Happy Wednesday everyone!


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Joy cometh in the morning

Disclaimer:  This post is written pre-coffee finish after a hard night with a teething little boy.  I can not be fully responsible for anything I say!  This teething experience that Liam is going through ::insert exhausted exasperated sigh:: it is threatening to take me under.  Sleep deprivation... I can see why it is a form of torture! You'll say anything, or do anything to just be left alone! I often try to remind myself that it isn't about me... think of this little boy who is hurting all the time.  But it is really hard to hold that self sacrificing attitude when he tugs on my shirt to nurse.  Again?!  We just did this twenty minutes ago!!! There are almost tears.  Tears I tell you!

Lately, I have been reading a lot of Amanda's words lately.  And themes of joy, and gratitude, and being present are very prevalent.  Her words and her life of creativity are so inspiring.  It helps me to reach for my crafting when I can. To make one little stitch, to take one deep breath.  To find myself recentered and more focused for everything else that is to come. 

Lately I have been teaching myself to knit.  Like quilting, this craft has always been something that my heart has desired to learn.  For the last three years I have checked out knitting books, watched knitting podcasts, and read knitting blogs to become inspired.  And inspired I am.  And ready to start.  

I can see the appeal in this craft.  It is even slower (to me, some of you knit really really fast!) than hand sewing.  And repetitive.  In a meditative sort of way.  It is a wonderful craft to pick up during those stormy times when you have a free moment to add a stitch.  When I work on it, I can literally feel my breath changing.  Slowing.  And it's wonderful. The therapy that comes with repetitive handwork like knitting.

Yesterday I made a mistake... I'm still learning how to read patterns.  I have a whole row to fix... but that's alright.  Because fixing this mistake is teaching me so much - a parallel lesson if you might think of it that way.  I am learning patience.  Mistakes, hard days, they are all a part of the rhythm of life.  We receive the good as well as the hard.  So, breathe.  Breathe through it all and remember that joy always comes.  Wait for it... wait for it...

Linking up for the first time ever with Nicole's Keep Calm, Craft on.  A beautiful blog if you haven't already discovered it.


Monday, October 26, 2015

The road we never took... until you.

Liam has brought so many firsts for us.  Has in a sense, rewritten us.  And the new story that we find ourselves in is so beautiful and bright and joyful. Living on this island for five years now, it was my first time visiting the pumpkin patch.  For years we drove past the entry on the mountain road, enjoying the brightness of the sunflower field and the ant like people wandering and enjoying their family excursions.  Never inspired or tempted were we to stop though.  

Until Liam. 

This little boy of ours has created in us such a desire for him to experience.  Nature. Life. Joy. Sense. So it was only natural that we planned a pumpkin patch excursion.  And oh how he experienced. He experienced the sights of a farm. Of touching the softness of a baby chick. Of walking in a corn maze and getting lost and the laughter that comes from such adventures.  Of walking in the pumpkin patch to find that perfect pumpkin.  To see their blossoms and various stages of growth.  Of walking away empty handed but happy because we know now that we have to research how to tell when a pumpkin is ready to be picked (city mice, both Ross and I apparently when it comes to picking produce from the vine!)  And in giving him this experience, he gave it to us.  Because if it wasn't for this little boy we would never have turned right to go down the mountain to this little country pumpkin patch of ours.  And we wouldn't have gotten lost in a corn field or seen how glorious the sky is when surrounded by the tall stalks.  We wouldn't have walked hand in hand down the road while watching him smile in delight and pick up rocks and toss them into the grass.  We wouldn't have experienced. So thank you little one.  For the richness that you add to our lives.  For the opportunities to turn right into adventures we otherwise wouldn't have taken without you.  

When we got home we were tired with a tired of having really lived that day.  A meal of meatballs and spaghetti.  A nap under a quilt.  And a heart full of love.  It was a good day.  A first experience.  A new tradition to mark that fall is here.  Even in our little tropical corner of the world... we can feel it.  



With open arms and anticipating hearts... welcome! 

Blessings on this new week.