Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yarn Along, Chilly November


Gone is any trace of summer and really autumn, too, and I don't know what to call this now since it is too early to be winter.  I have settled on calling this the Season of Cold Fingers.  We have been keeping our thermostat set high in the evening since there is a noticeable chill in the house after the sun goes down, yet my fingers are stiff and cold as I knit still.  I hate to run the heater so much, especially this early in the year but with highs in the low 30s and lows in the teens now, my frugality has to take a back seat to daily practicality.  So I sigh as we bump the heat back on and wish for a wood stove that would at least give the illusion of coziness and a place to heat my frigid fingers. 

My oldest baby girl turned five yesterday.  How can that be?  In the pictures above you can catch a glimpse of her newly pierced ears, which she is quite proud of.  I finally got to see the Bulle I knit for her a couple months back being modeled and I think it fits her perfectly, oh I love it so!  What an adorable pattern, I just wanted to eat her up all day today.  I will definitely plan to knit that one again, it seems like this one will be a staple in her wardrobe and she didn't  even complain of any itch to her skin through the shirt underneath it like she often does with handknits (thank you KnitPicks Stroll!).  Her favorite feature is a tie between the sweet Little Red Riding Hood buttons I found and sky blue pockets that are just barely peeking out at the bottom of one of the pictures up above. She also received some handknit wristwarmers and a darling dusty blue Leksak tunic knit for her by her Mimi (my mom) which I will take pictures of soon.  She is all set for this cold weather, let me tell you!  Happy birthday, my dear Lyddie-girl.

I am knitting several gift-ish things that I can't describe too thoroughly in these annals.  

And I haven't had a spare minute to read this week (so what kind of Yarn Along post is this, really?) other than a few pages in The Molehill, v. 1, a compilation of short stories, essays, and poems by some of our favorite writers, singers, and songwriters.  Just an excellent short story by Walt Wangerin Jr. that I disappear into during quick hideouts in the bathroom.  Other than that, the reading is sparse because of a big birthday party, out of town visitors staying with us, and serious Christmas preparations happening now on top of all the normal demands of a busy life with three small children.  I resolved to have all the gifts bought and wrapped by the end of the first week of December if at all possible, as well as have a few batches of cookie dough in the freezer, Christmas cards printed and sent, and the indoor and outdoor decor done.  This timeline has been helpful and has helped me stay on track and be motivated - something about seeing it all broken down makes it feel that much more doable, though I am pushing it back a week because of the birthday week and the fact that this doesn't account for our American Thanksgiving since the writer is Canadian. We'll see how I finish out the plans but so far there is no reason to think I won't be able to meet my goal and minimize the stress of December. 

So now I am probably at least halfway through gift planning and purchasing now.  Can you see my happy dance?  I am hopeful it enables me to happy dance through December as well.  The last few years... well, the last five years... have been difficult when it comes to holidays - happy but difficult.  I have been either pregnant or had an infant for all five of those years, I think, and this is the first year I feel like I have a bit of sanity in approaching the season. 

So this week I will still continue to not-read, most likely, but am looking forward to the beginning of a new CraftLit book (HerLand) starting Friday.  I finished The Woman in White recently.  I have also been hooked into the new podcast "Serial" (what is the grammatical convention for podcasts anyway - quotation marks?  Italics?).  Seriously, look that one up, it's fascinating! 

Today?  Hoping to get a family picture for a Christmas card, which explains the high levels of red strewn across my bed as I attempt to get everyone coordinated.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Yarn Along, November 12

Busy week- (terrible photo from my early morning phone!)
Planning a birthday celebration
Christmas preparations and planning
Knitting through online continuing education courses
Pondering cognitive anchoringcognitive anchoring

Soft lavender wispy Alpaca yarn in lacy stockinette
Sturdy vibrant sunshine socks with slipped stitch rib heel, moments stolen near bubbling and boiling pots
Even sturdier white cotton that will soon scrub dishes
New stash (on surprising sale!) in sweet pinks, purples, and emeralds

Smiles exchanged with that other mother with clicking needles in the waiting room

Chapters of North! Or Be Eaten snuck late at night and over a slow quiet lunch
Drifting to sleep repeatedly over the same few paragraphs of The Woman In White, only two chapters remaining

What are you reading this week? Are you crafting? Joining with Ginny for Yarn Along!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

What Beauty Here

Autumn has slowly begun to exhale.  The weather has turned colder and the temperature is predicted to drop quickly this week but we go outside anyways.  We walk, and we stop and we exclaim in wonder over that perfect yellow-red leaf, the furry mullen, the stark trunks reaching into the sky, tenacious leaves clinging to the last.  

My heart, how can it feel so light and so heavy at one time?  I recall the last walk we made here in the spring, bringing with us the little girl who stayed with us for that time, and that now-dry creek bed is transformed in my mind for an instant back to the bubbling water that three little girls leaped over and through which they splashed so proudly.  I recall that the toddling hiker on this trail stopping now to pick up leaves every few moments wasn't yet walking and spent the morning happily in the backpack but now clamors to get down from high on daddy's back.  Where is the time going? 

And those precious redheads now confidently dash ahead of me on the trail, glancing back over their shoulders before following the bend just out of sight and I realize that all of motherhood may be like this: glimpses of the years and moments past and a capturing and treasuring of the moments now, and a sorrowful joy over what is to come. That almost-five year old grinning so cocky on that log, I nearly gasp when the picture of that grin spread on a fifteen year old's face flashes through my mind. 

I slow, I photograph to help me remember later what beauty was here. We admire the handiwork of the beavers, and I fail and fuss when my foot goes in the water and I am tempted to keep moaning but they all bear with me and I silence my complaints.  I bite my impatient tongue with the drooping three-year-old and tell her to close her eyes and tell me what she can hear, her little hand tucked into mine as we walk by gurgling creek and screeching stellar's jay, and she smiles and plays along, no longer whining about tired legs.  There is a beauty in being together, even when things aren't exactly as we might have hoped. 


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Yarn Along, November!

Not much new here, just several added inches on my Radiance shawl as well as several inches on my first Vanilla Latte sock.  I am really undecided about the length I like my socks, so I decided to make them just slightly longer than ankle socks.  I still really like the sunny yellow of the Dandelion colorway and think it is a fun shade to get to knit with.

I'm still listening to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - down to the last few chapters, and reading North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson.  But mostly I am working hard on accumulating SLP continuing ed credits each night online so I can keep up my membership in the national organization.  I am learning and re-learning all kinds of interesting things about literacy development, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other speechy kinds of topics.  It touches the part of me that really misses working with a team daily with families and children with special needs and I find myself even remembering things about grad school that have been pushed to the recesses of my mind in this process.  I love being a mom and my precious children have plenty of their own immediate and unique needs and I always planned to be at home with them once they came.  It just makes me nostalgic for the good and exciting aspects of that career and especially the incredible workplace I left.  The call on my life here is just as exciting to me, and part of the reason I am continuing to push myself to stay current is so that, if or when the Lord opens doors for me to use the knowledge I believe He has planted in me, I will be ready, even if that is several years from now.  I really enjoy working with some of the children in our after-school program once or twice a week, and am doing some remedial reading instruction for a few children who should be reading but really aren't at all and I get this little taste of that joy of helping children meet goals and be enthralled by the feeling of success they experience, sometimes for the first time in the area of reading skills, and oh!  I so enjoyed reading Where the Wild Things Are to two boys yesterday who hung on every word and every picture.  It made my heart sing to see the joy lit in their eyes as they connected with Max, the king of all wild things and considered the magic of facing fears with an unflinching stare.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

What do a Fox, a Spider, and a Fairy all have in common?

Being that my photography tends to capture the moments as they happen, I tend to be terrible at pose-your-kids kind of pictures and therefore never end up with great Halloween pictures.  I really hate interrupting what they're doing to make them stand still and take pictures so I am intentional to do so only rarely, but usually I at least try on holidays... but not this year!  Oops!  Oh well.  Real life, my friends.

I loved these costumes.  Millie was a fox complete with a bushy tail and ears, Lyddie was a spider with four extra limbs hanging from her arms and a spiderweb hairstyle, and Rosie was a sweet flower fairy.  Jesse and I were, as you can hopefully tell, pirates.  We did a trunk or treat at church with 10 cars all lined for anyone who stopped by. It was cold and windy which was part of the picture hindrance!  We had pizza, trick or treated at the cars, watched Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin projected on a big white sheet, and walked through the Boo Bus - our ministry bus all decked out with spider webs and strobe lights.  

It was a special Halloween that we got to spend with friends. Suddenly this year it hit me that the years that my children would think it was cool that mom made costumes for them are limited and if that was something I wanted them to remember fondly in childhood, I better start now.  It is one of my special memories that my mom always made beautiful costumes for us and that is something I really wanted for my kids too, as long as they'll let me.  These weren't fancy or even particularly beautiful but I knew my girls all loved their costumes and had fun helping me pick and prepare them!  Now it's on to planning birthday parties and Thanksgiving and then Christmas... eek!  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I will

The rain sweeps through the valley and the leaves and grasses sparkle.  She just drives, drives alone in a quiet car with the rain dropping heavy on the windshield.  She racks her brain to remember just who she is and why she is.  She drives by just-harvested corn fields, where cows wander and pick through the remnants to find those leftover ears.  She drives by seemingly ancient houses drooping under the weight of an old roof, and a barn fallen to its knees like an injured animal.  She doesn't know what she's looking for but whatever it is, she won't find it out her window.

She pulls to the side of an out-of-the-way road and puts the car in park.  Not one car in sight, no houses or buildings either.  Just a fence, some fields, a stand of trees, looming hills, and the endless stormy sky.  She pulls her Bible from the purse on the passenger seat and pushes her seat back, making room for the precious Words.

"I will..."  she reads the familiar words on the worn and tattered page. 

He will do so many things, it says right there in Zephaniah 3.  He will save.  He will rejoice.  He will quiet.  He will exult and He will gather.  He will deal with oppressors. He will save, gather, and change shame into praise.  He will bring in and gather together.  He will make renowned and restore fortunes. 

Not one word about her responsibility.  Not one finger-pointing mention of her work in this covenant.  
She exhales.  Set free again, not from His demands but her own chains she has tried in insanity to strap back around her ankles.  But then, what does He require of her?


Three days pass and she stumbles across these words:  

This is the covenant of grace.  I call your attention to the fact that there is no if in it; there is no but in it; there is no requirement of man made by it. It is all "I will" and "they shall."  "I will be their God, and they shall be My people."  This gracious charter is written in a royal tone, and the majestic strain is not marred by a perhaps or a maybe but dwells on shall and will.  (C.H. Spurgeon in The Covenant of Grace).  

No requirement  of her but entirely based on His tender love, His sure goodness, His sovereign will and His perfect power to accomplish His will.  What soothing comforts are found in these reminders of what the Good News is that she longs to live radically for.  

She remembers back to the moment in the unmoving car, remembers the sun peering out from behind a slate-colored cloud and a rainbow bursting into view.  

And there, in the clouds- just where the storm meets the sun - was a beautiful bow made of light.  It was a new beginning in God's world... God's strong anger against hate and sadness and death would come down once more - but not on his people, or his world.  No, God's war bow was not pointing down at His people. 
It was pointing up, into the heart of heaven.  (The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones)

That requirement she keeps waiting for, expecting it to thunder down one of these days?  It. won't. come.  There is none and never will be.  It is finished.

Again she can open that clenched and grimy fist to receive His hand and all the love and blessings that go with being His child.  

Yarn and Books

Wednesday is the day I set join in with others who, like me, love to knit and read.  Check out Ginny's blog to see all the beautiful projects going on this week!


I have been making good headway on my Radiance Shawl and really enjoying the knitting process.  I also made a little progress on the other two projects I posted about last week but not much because several non-knitting projects have demanded my attention.  I thought I'd include a few pictures that showed the October activities that have caused my knitting to take a backseat this week.  Halloween costumes in particular have dipped into the evening time I usually knit since I decided that there will only be so many years that my children will want my help making costumes and took the plunge in the home-made route this year.  I am pretty proud of how they are turning out and will share pictures in a few days.  Most importantly, my girls are thrilled, probably more thrilled than the costumes warrant, but I'll take any enthusiasm they want to give me.  We've got a fox, a spider, a fairy, and two pirate costumes waiting in the wings.  Do any other moms out there dress up?  I don't usually but we are doing a Trunk-or-Treat at our church and I decided the kids - both mine and the community that hopefully will show up- are worth the work and embarrassment of going as my husband's (modestly attired) pirate wench to go with our pirate ship/car.  Wish me luck!

Nothing new being read this week.  I actually don't think I even picked up a book at all this week unless you count my Bible, but I have still been listening nightly to bits of The Woman in White (free for Kindle through the link!) at CraftLit.