February 19

I don’t care what the calendar says, February is the longest month. It’s been too cold and the snow has been too deep for much outdoor play, and any outdoor distance socializing for the kids has ground to a halt. All things considered, though, we’ve been having a pretty good time. We’re doing lots of reading and doing lots of projects and the kids are doing lots of fort building and couch-jumping.

My new sweater, which was a test knit and has to remain top secret until the designer releases the pattern. I knit this in three weeks and didn’t get carpal tunnel!
This little blondie has been really enjoying his big boy food.
Peter loves his guitar (ukulele) but lately has been very, very into the fiddle. Thankfully, cereal boxes are plentiful.
Also knights. Ditto re: cereal boxes.
Waiting for a walk.
Seeing her reading during lunch really takes me back.
We both wait for the mailman and move about the house in search of sunlight.
The cuteness of this just kills me.
Sitting on the dock.
Baby John

I am looking towards warmer weather by ordering seeds (they are selling out quickly this year!) and sewing little frocks for Alice. I also have plans to sew myself several things and am knitting the sweetest ribbed sweater for Johnny. One of the consequences of Covid is that I discovered audiobooks and ebooks from the library. I am, still, very grumpy about the artificially imposed wait times, as if an electronic “copy” of an ebook is equivalent to a physical object that only one person at a time may use. The publishing industry and librarians really should have thought of a more elegant solution…but I finally decided to stop letting my grouchiness get in the way and I’m now thoroughly enjoying listening to books while I work. This week I listened to When we Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro, and now I’m working my way through the third book of the Neopolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante. I know most people have read them already and that they are widely loved, but when I started the first one years ago I really disliked it. Now, for whatever reason, I think they are the best books I’ve read in years, and possibly the best depiction of female friendship that I’ve ever encountered. This week I also read Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (excellent!) and Silk by Alessandro Baricco (not my favorite, as we teach our children to politely say).

Off to make some lunch plates. Best wishes for a good weekend.

Autumn 2020

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Today we woke up (at 5:30 a.m.) to snow, so I felt like I should document autumn before it’s so far in the past I can’t remember it. I know the world is a scary place this year in many ways, so I almost feel guilty saying so, but we’re having a really good fall. I thought this fall would be about school buses and kindergarten and quiet(ish) mornings with my two boys, and while we ended up with something quite different, what we ended up with is great.

I love homeschool Kindergarten. Alice loves homeschool Kindergarten. Heck, Peter loves homeschool Kindergarten! We do school 4 mornings a week plus an hour or so in the afternoon, and then on Fridays we go on a hike. Alice is flying through her math and is learning to read with alarming (to me, anyway) speed. I am terribly thankful to get to watch her learning these magical skills, and even more thankful to see her thriving. Johnny wiggles along when he’s awake, and Peter is always up for the projects and read-alouds and works on his coloring books and such while Alice and I busy. Sometimes Alice and I will do phonics in the afternoon during Peter’s quiet time if he doesn’t seem up for independent time in the morning. Either way, we’ve found a rhythm for our days that works very well for us all.

Johnny is such a sweet baby, and he continues to be the most popular member of the family. We’re all enjoying him so much. He’s got true blue eyes, an easy going temperament, and a look all his own.

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So, what have I been doing, other than taking care of all these crazies? My garden got killed by a frost early on, and honestly, I wasn’t heartbroken. Instead I’ve been working on a second quilt, getting pretty darn good at sourdough loaves, and am knitting matching cardigans for the big kids. I finished Alice’s, and she likes it but it came out pretty small, so now I’m hesitant about the one I’m working on for Peter. I read a wonderful book about reading called The Enchanted Hour and a friend and I are reading Dostoevsky’s Demons. I finally bought a Kindle on Prime Day and am enjoying all the free classics and the fact that I can more easily read one-handed while holding John. I just finished Man in the High Castle and am now ploughing through Mansfield Park….so good! I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before. Philip and I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix (I highly recommend) and I deleted everything from my phone except texting and…phone. My phone, being now thoroughly uninteresting, lives a lonely life in a basket on the counter. I also unsubscribed from every email list I’ve somehow gotten on and gosh, I’m really enjoying my peace and free time.

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Well, time for phonics and some Little House read-aloud. Hope everyone is having a cozy afternoon and are all geared up for some voting tomorrow!

Maine 2020

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In a year where almost everything has been cancelled, we were so lucky that we could keep to tradition and spend some time in Maine. The drive was very long, but Alice discovered a new hobby (color by sticker!) and we all got to listen to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle in its entirety three times. We had picnics in places we wouldn’t have thought to picnic before (the little lawn off a Key Bank parking lot, for instance), and decided wisely to break up the drive on the way home with a little state park camping.

Alice and Peter were old enough to really enjoy all the outdoor activities this year, and John was young enough to mostly sleep through everything. Perfect.

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We stayed a couple days at my cousin’s camp, sitting on the deck listening to the loons and floating on the water in various ways. Alice loved the kayak, Peter the canoe.

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Ah, Maine. The Way Life Should Be.

 

Easter 2020

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Despite the stay-at-home order, or perhaps because of it, we had a really great Easter. For the first time I can remember it was sunny and warmish! No snow! No drizzle! We usually go to a friend’s house the day prior to Easter for an egg hunt, so this was the first time we hid eggs in our backyard and Alice and Peter loved it. We also usually have another family over for Easter dinner, and while we missed their company, we had a merry Easter lunch all on our own. Zoom church was…Zoom church, but we dressed up anyway and the day really did feel festive.

Alice and I decorated some eggs on Saturday before turning them into lunch on Sunday…IMG_5513

Easter morning Easter baskets were a hit, and my little handmade finger puppets for Peter and the bunny doll for Alice were well received…

I was very pleased with the way the doll for Alice turned out. It was made from this pattern from scraps of felt and fabric I had around the house, including a dress from a wee bit of lawn I had leftover from Alice’s first Easter dress. I suggested naming her “Snowdrop,” to which Alice said, “Mmm…I’ll name her what I name her.” So there. She was quickly introduced to the other bunnies of the house.

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Peter quickly ate all his chocolate and was very excited by the cake. He was intrigued by the sprinkles, but later decided he wasn’t into “crunchies.” I don’t blame him.

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Hope you all enjoyed your own quiet Easter celebrations! We’re working our way through chocolate eggs and hoping that real spring will be here soon.

 

Update- April 10

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Alice told us at dinner tonight that she likes it “when coronavirus is around” because “Papa is around more to play games with.” This is quite the improvement, since the first week of the stay at home order she complained that she hated coronavirus because “all you can do all day is stare at your stinkin’ family!” Actually, I think we’re all quite enjoying our extra time at home.

We’ve been eating extremely well, what with baking all our own bread and crafting all our own snacks. I’ve taken to making tiny batches of things so that we can bake more often (yesterday Alice and I made 4 croissants), and I’ve also been baking things like apple bread in cake pans so that they seem more alluring. A local farm has started a delivery service too, so we’ve been getting weekly gallons of creamline milk and other lovely things. I really don’t miss going to the grocery store.

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The fact that it’s been snowing all today notwithstanding, we had a stretch of really gorgeous weather and have spent tons of time in our backyard. Philip put up a chicken wire fence around our newly expanded garden and built us another raised bed. We also put up a fantastic swing set and made a little balance beam. All our seeds have been started (and re-started after Peter dumped the inside ones all over the floor and Charley ran through all the outside ones), and we’re very excited to have our best garden yet this year.

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During the week Philip still walks into his office since nobody else goes there, but he’s usually home by lunch. A few times a week there’s something online for us to do- Alice had a zoom meet up with her friends (which she did not enjoy one little bit except for the part where she picked out a fancy dress to put on for the occasion) and Alice and Peter both love the online storytime our librarian makes.

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I’ve been trying to get in the car at least once a week, and this week Alice and Peter and I found a really lovely new trail at our favorite hiking spot. We all had a great time, especially Alice who was quite sure there were fairies lurking around every mossy stump.

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We’re getting ready for a very low-key Easter and hope you’re all staying healthy and happy!

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Weekly Update- March 25

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Nearly two weeks into our new homebound lifestyle, we decided we needed a schedule. It’s been surprisingly helpful- Alice particularly likes to find where we are in our day to judge when her next snack or chance to play on the tablet will be, and everyone seems to respect the schedule. “Sorry! I can’t play now. It says I have to do chores,” I can say, and the kiddos seem to believe that the schedule has me in its hold. It also seemed very necessary to re-institute “quiet time” and to have more formal “school” activities for Alice. Alice is not into being unschooled. She wants worksheets! Activities! Schedules!

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Before it turned into winter again, we used a couple nice days to work more in the yard and garden. Philip built me a little cold frame and I’ve planted lots of hopeful spinach seeds out. Today my order of seeds arrived in the mail and I have big, big plans for this summer.

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While on some level I have more time than I usually do, it seems to be filled pretty quickly. Has anyone else noticed that when everyone is home all day there are about 200 times more dishes? Every few days I bake bread or something for breakfast, and it always gets eaten faster than I expect. Everyone always wants to “help” with everything, so we brought back out the learning tower, and even though I reliably stub my toe on it at least once a day I’ve come to see it as an essential item for sheltering in place with little kids. Other items on that list that come to mind: rain pants, lots of pajamas, stacks of paper.

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We’ve got lots of flour and butter and beans and rice, a big backyard, a washing machine in the basement, and a salary. I’d say we’re pretty lucky.

Hope you’re all staying home!

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Spring Cardigan

 

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I’m so thankful to have had this cheerful little sweater to work on the past few weeks. I always like to make Alice a spring sweater and this one turned out so great. The pattern, Granny’s Favourite, designed by Georgie Nicolson, is a wonderful pattern. I love it when a wide range of sizes and options are included- Alice has aged out of many of the toddler patterns I’ve used over the years but this pattern will last for some time to come.

I knit this with about 2 1/2 skeins of Quince and Co. Chickadee in the “Shell” color. I love Quince and Co. yarns so much- they are soft but sturdy, and they are so nice and crisp when knit up. And the colors! Ah! Alice chose this color herself, but I heartily approved.

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I used the 23 inch chest size for Alice (I believe that was suggested for age 2 or 3) but used the dress length guide for the 5 year size. It fits just as I hoped it would- Alice is fairly petite and doesn’t like things overly large. If I were to make it again, however, I think I would either make the sleeves 3/4 length or short. I went for elbow length, which I think is adorable, but I can tell by her tugging on the sleeves that Alice would be a bit more comfortable if the sleeves hit at a different spot. Still, I know that in a few months it will fit differently, so I’m not overly concerned.

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Alice instantly dribbled clementine juice all down the front, and there’s no nursery school or church or storytime to wear it to, but it will keep her shoulders warm and adorable and comfy, and that’s what matters most.

Corona-cation Week One

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In these new days of social distancing and self-isolating, it seems like a pretty good time to get back to the old blogging ways. We’re taking these things pretty seriously (may I recommend this article?) and are adjusting to the idea that our usual daily out-of-house activities are cancelled indefinitely. Here in central NY almost everything is closed (no church! no library! no nursery school! no college! no gym!) so we’re slowly embracing the idea that we’re going to have a lot more time around the house. Thank heavens it’s a mild March and we can get outside almost every day…and thank goodness we moved to a larger house with a big backyard last summer.

When it isn’t scary and stressful, thinking about our response to the Coronavirus is really fascinating to me. A lot of people are going to have a lot more time at home…what will they do? What will our neighbor who watches sports constantly do when there’s no sports to watch? What will our other neighbor who spends any spare moment at the gym do now that gyms are closed? What will all these neighborhood kids do with all their hours outside of school and sports and lessons? Even someone like me, who doesn’t work outside the house, has several more hours in a day to fill when you consider the loss of grocery outings, kid activities and play dates, committee meetings, and social evening outings.

So what am I going to do? Well, I’m planning to work through my stash of fabric and yarn and unfinished projects. We’re planning a giant vegetable garden for this summer. I’ve been baking more bread, reading more chapter books to Alice. In the absence of the library, Philip and I are giving each other book recommendations from our personal collections…I’ll be starting Dune tonight! We’re going on more family hikes and doing more jigsaw puzzles. So far, so good. Alice and Peter have been alternating between super sweet besties and crabby little enemies, but thankfully there’s no chance of them being lonely, no matter how long this social distancing lasts.

 

Lots of books for everybody.

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Puzzles! Painting! Play dough!

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Building cars out of furniture and cushions! Note the steering wheel here…

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Hikes…

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And getting ready for spring. That’s a plastic ice-cream peeking out from Peter’s pocket, by the way…

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Life seems quite different from one week ago. We’ll see what it’s like next week.

 

Gilipeysa for a One Year Old

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Thank goodness Peter is such a friendly little fellow- he didn’t mind that his new sweater wasn’t ready for either his first birthday or Christmas. I splurged on the yarn a bit- it is Geilsk Tweed in Red, Black, and Lighter Grey- and it was wonderful to work with. The red has flecks of primary colors, which looks adorable on a little boy sweater, and the finished sweater is quite light weight and plenty soft.

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I used Gilipeysa in size 12-18 months with added arm length, and I think it will end up lasting him for a long time. The sweater I knit for Alice at age one still fits her in a pinch, so I’m hopeful. The pattern is an excellent one. It is knit completely in the round and then steeked. The front edges are crocheted and button loops are crocheted on, which is something I might change on future versions. I think it could use the stability of a more traditional button band. Still, it’s cute as is too.

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Peter at one is an absolute delight. He has four teeth and is working on several more, and is crawling and cruising but not yet walking. He’s not much into toys, but he does like toy cars and trucks, blocks, musical instruments, and crayons. Mostly he likes crawling up stairs and exploring behind closed doors and under lids. He says “Mama,” “Nanana” (Banana), and “Yeah!” as well as being excellent at communicating with finger pointing and gesticulating. We’re all very taken with our sweet little baby boy and can hardly believe he’s been around for a whole year.

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Early Fall Update

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A month in, we’ve all adjusted back to the swing of things and our summer schedule feels like a distant memory. We generally go somewhere at 10:30 every morning: the library, a hike, playgroup, etc., but other than that we spend our days mostly at home.

Alice started September with her 3rd birthday and suddenly seems like a big kid. She’s very interested in learning her letters and spends a lot of time doing jigsaw puzzles and deeply involved in complex imaginary stories. Peter is a sweetheart- he loves Alice and clapping and Baby Time at the library and he really wishes he could crawl.

I’m busy with all that, and plenty of other things besides. I’ve read a few interesting books- I found Small Animals by Kim Brooks thought provoking, and also read The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss which was fascinating, if a bit dense. I’m currently reading a much less serious novel (about a mermaid!) and also reading up on sewing machine repair and maintenance. I did some work on my own machine and found it very interesting and satisfying. Oh, and I’m working on a very involved and cable-y sweater! So, I’m having fun too!

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Very carefully decorating birthday cupcakes.

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Less carefully jumping off furniture.

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Afternoon project time in full swing.

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I love how this scene changes over the season.

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Peter is very happy to swing for hours, and often does…

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This is the perfect baby age…I wish 9 months lasted for at least a few more months.

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Although capable 3s are pretty great too. 

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I probably shouldn’t let this sort of thing happen.

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Making a little fall forest.

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My sweater has lots of mistakes, but I’m just pretending I don’t notice.

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F is for “Fluffy” and “Fuzzy”

When we were on our regular Wednesday ramble this morning we noticed that all the signs for the snowshoeing paths have been put up. It’s hard to imagine that snow is just around the corner when I’m enjoying my garden of flowers and tomatoes and perfect 60 degree temperatures. I think that’s why almost everyone agrees that fall is the best season- it’s just so short. We’re going to try to enjoy every day of it!

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