First Make It Monday

On Mondays I share a glimpse of what I’m working on in my project basket…

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Lately I’ve been working on little knit bunnies.  A friend just had her fourth baby under five so I’m making little bunnies for the sisters to have as they adapt to baby brother’s arrival.  The pattern is an older one from Barbara Prime at Fuzzy Mitten. I think it is called ‘Easter Bunny’ but this is the closest pattern I could find on Ravelry.

It’s a fairly simple pattern.  The hardest part for me was embroidering on the faces.The little brown one was my first and a wee bit lopsided, but maybe this bunny will just have a fun, quirky smile?? 🙂  Definitely a pattern I will knit repeatedly.  Easy to carry along in my purse because I can just take enough yarn to make one or two pieces at a time.

I’ll probably sew little dresses and then knit wee little sweaters for the bunnies to wear.

Patapsco Snow

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We had a light dusting of snow yesterday.  Probably our last snow for the season. And while I’ve grown to love the winter here (no idea who I am anymore!), I’m definitely ready for Spring so we can get back to daily scooter rides and outdoor energy burning activities for the Little Warrior.

I tossed aside my really important plans to wash dishes and vacuum solve the JFK assassination conspiracy and took the pups for a hike along the river.

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It had mostly melted by the time we got back to the car, resulting in muddy paws and wagging tails.

But what a beautiful winters day it was!

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Nine

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Our Ballerina Princess turned 9 today.  NINE.

So hard to believe she’s one year away from double digits!  I could not be more proud of the girl she is becoming.  She is kind and generous (she was worried her brother would be sad not getting a gift and insisted on stopping to pick out a present for him this morning).  She is warm and gentle.  And vivacious and fun.  If you had asked me 2 or 3 years ago if I ever thought she would be such a delightful, mature young lady, I honestly would have said no.  But the Lord has grown her heart and her mind in such dramatic ways this year.  She’s come so far since the day she catapulted into our lives. So very far.  And I’m insanely proud of her.

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She’s an amazingly adventurous eater. Last year for her birthday dinner she wanted lamb. This year she requested mussels and sautéed carrots. This girl loves seafood. If you can catch it in the ocean, she’ll eat it!  Hubs cooked the mussels in a white wine butter sauce with thyme and garlic and I sautéed the carrots and baked honey whole wheat rolls. It was a simple but delicious feast.

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Of course, she wanted ice cream cake for dessert- loaded with sprinkles.  So, you know, she’s still got nine year old taste buds too.  ; )

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I love the priceless look on her face when she opened her Bible.  She’s been wanting her own, grown-up bible for a long time and has been working so hard on reading so she can read it on her own.

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Her favorite gift was a microscope kit. She spent the rest of the afternoon finding things to look at and waxing eloquent on being a scientist. ❤

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Happy Birthday, sweet Ballerina Princess!  You are loved and adored more than you could ever know!

Fave Five

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Friday Fave Five is hosted by Susanne each week and offers a place for us to come together and share favorites moments and blessings of the week.  It’s a great exercise in gratitude!

1. Grandpa is here! Grandpa comes out to the East Coast a few times a year for business and always extends his travel so we can spend the weekend together.

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A picture from Grandpa’s visit last January, when Grandma got to come along! ❤

We wish Grandma could be here as well, but are grateful for all the family time we can get out here.  Never take for granted being close to family.  It’s a joy and a treasure that we miss dearly. (Close, for us, means four hours driving or less.  That’s the closest we’ve ever lived to family. Oh for the day we could live in the same city!! ❤ )

2. Fun times at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

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3. A warm home as weather gets cold and wet. We’re praying for people affected by Hurricane Joaquin in the Bahamas and for people already experiencing flooding along the East Coast.

4. Happy hearts and funny words.  Little Warrior had a rough week last week (he was growing and oh-so-cranky) but this week has been delightful and filled with so much laughter. He’s been on a role with hilarious little one-liners that get me giggling.

At the Renn Faire, as this knight rode out, he enthusiastically exclaimed , “Mom! He’s the stuff legends are made of!”

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And while on the phone with my Mum after karate yesterday, he started chocking on his oatmeal because, you know, you’re supposed to swallow before shoving 4 more bites in your mouth (did I mention he’s been growing like a bean sprout..?? Eat ravenously. Sleep. Repeat.). After dealing with the lack of oral space issue, he worried aloud, “I think my digestive track is broken”, sending us into fresh peals of laughter.  As his sweet Mema assured him we were laughing WITH him, not AT him, he replied matter-of-factly, “I know.  It happens all the time.”  These weeks of hilarity keep me pushing on through the tough ones.   🙂

5. Sweaters, scarves & boots- oh my!  While I may detest the cold and dreary winters out here, I sure do love getting to pull out my wellies (most comfortable shoes I own!) and snuggle up in cozy, knitted goods.

Face Paint and Bagpipes

This past weekend I took the Princess and her friend to the Renaissance Festival.  And the next day I took Little Warrior on a date just the two of us.  He picked the Renn Faire too, and we enjoyed having an entertaining afternoon out together.  We saw…

A real jousting match.

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Archery demonstrations.

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Our favorite metal bagpipes band.

(Yea, it’s a thing. And we love it. The kids talk about seeing them play all year and one of their albums is always in the minivan’s CD player. This year they even played snippets of Metallica and Violent Femmes. Legit.)
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The kids all got face paint. Dear goodness, they’re gorgeous! IMG_2337 IMG_2387

We visited the Museum of Unnatural History (complete with the Cyclops’ second eye and Medusa’s head) and got lost in a giant maze.
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Such a fun weekend full of yummy foods, fascinating sights, and good friends!

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Autumn Favorites- FFF

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Each Friday Susanne hosts Friday Fave Five, a chance to share blessings and favorite things from our weeks.

1. Fall Decorations

I may have mentioned how much I love Fall

happy fall yallI’m so. excited. to have my house over-flowing with oranges and yellows and reds!

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2. Friends (and their kids)

We’ve been so blessed by the community the Lord has provided for us on the East Coast!  Wonderful friends I’ve hardly known a year who have kindly weathered with us some of the most challenging circumstances we’ve been through. I love the special times I get to have with my friends, as well as their kids!  I got to babysit multiple times this week and I treasure the moments with each child. And my friend, The Frugal Girl, has 3 daughters that come and spend the night pretty often with the Princess. We have such a blast together- we cook, knit, craft and laugh a lot. One of her daughters has painted me some beautiful water color paintings. She brought me this gorgeous one today:

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3. Faithful Love

This year we celebrated nine years of marriage and he still writes me love notes on the mirror.  Today’s sweet words were courtesy of Shakespeare:

 All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

4. Fall Food

I love the way my house smells in Autumn!  Spices and baking.

On the menu today is mahi mahi in ginger curry sauce, butternut squash soup, brussel sprouts, and cooked cinnamon apples for dessert.  I came inside from picking the kids up from school and the house smelled a-maz-ing.  (Hubs had gotten home early and stayed back to manage the baking vegetables.)

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Lest you get a false impression- we do not eat like this every night. We may or may not have eaten cereal for dinner the last two nights because of ballet.

5. Finished Projects

I promised a peek at what’s on my knitting needles these days… I’m excited to say ‘not much’ because I’ve actually been finishing projects!  Whoo-hoo!  Binding off is a minor miracle for perfectionists. ; )

Presenting, the Sunshine Blanket:

Sunshine Blanket

Based on this blanket from The Purl Bee, I ripped out this particular blanket 4 or 5 times because I just. couldn’t. get. proportions. right. You’d think it would be easy since it’s straight garter stitch, but the yarn kept stretching as the blanket grew so I had to adapt accordingly. But now that it’s done, I’m so glad I re-knit it so many times- because it’s perfect (if I do say so myself)!  I’ll be snapping some better pictures with my friend and photographer over at B Claire and posting a pattern in October.

These are, of course, Pickles patterns. I heart Pickles.  The Chevron blanket is the same pattern my mum used for the Princess’ blanket and I just took it and standardized colors because I’m physically incapable of randomly knitted colors. The Enkel Vest is one of my all-time favorite Pickles patterns and I have knit it in nearly every size!

H's Chevron Blanket

H's Vest

These are all for my friend’s new baby girl!  I have a few minor details to finish on some presents for the big brothers (a star to crochet for the Dallas Cowboys scarf etc) and as soon as those are finished everything will be packed up and sent across the pond to England. I can’t wait to see pictures of sweet little H in her Enkel Vest!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy all the pumpkins & apples & spices!

Autumn, Anniversaries, and Book Piles

Happy First Day of Autumn!

I love this season so much, I got married on the first day of Fall nine years ago.

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My mother-in-love sent us the sweetest anniversary gift- matching Mr and Mrs mugs with “I found the one my heart loves” written on the inside.  I’ve definitely already used them and I love them!  Perfect for the ceramic year. 
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Of course, when Hubby unwrapped his, he exclaimed, “And Judas went out and hung himself! What kind of mug is this?”  I just love his quirky, hysterically funny sense of humor. It’s strange and sometimes dry, sometimes goofy… and it fits me perfectly. ❤

I have way too many piles of books around my house… and have passed the habit on to my son!  Every room in the house has at least one, sometimes more, pile of books that someone is actively reading at the moment.

What’s in my current reading pile:

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Deadly Companions: how microbes shaped our history – Hubby got me this for Mother’s Day (he totally gets me ❤ ).  I’m about half way through- it’s interesting. Certainly not the best journalistic take on bio-cultural systems and disease that I’ve read, but very interesting still. From this genre, I would be more likely to recommend The Great Influenza by John M Barry or The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby.

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home: Hope and Healing for Families Living with PTSD and TBI – Only a third of the way through this one.  It hits close to home and I need frequent breaks to process.  If you or someone close to you cares for a loved one with PTSD or TBI (or both), I highly recommend it.

On Intelligence: how a new understanding of the brain will lead to the creation of truly intelligent machines – Whoa, that’s insanely long sub-title.  This was a Christmas gift from my big brother, Dr P.  I’m about 2/3 of the way through this book and have found it very fascinating.  Hawkin’s premise is that the industry’s lack of success to develop true artificial intelligence is rooted primarily in its failure to define intelligence properly. He then lays out a theory of intelligence based on neuro feedback loops, etc.  It’s a bit techy at times, but definitely still accessible to the lay person (i.e. ME ).

To Repair the World – I haven’t actually started reading this one yet.  It’s next up.

Reimagining Global Health – Fantastic book.  As with all Paul Farmer books, I highly recommend it.  This particular book is geared toward people in the public health sector and reads more like a text or compilation of articles.  For a more all-around or non-technical look at healthy systems, disease and poverty, I’d recommend one of his other books, such as Infections and Inequalities or Pathologies of Power. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Tracy Kidder, also wrote a fascinating biography about Paul Farmer called Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – my bible study is reading this and I’m really enjoying it.  I love all Tim Keller books, though.

I’m also listening to Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell on audio book.  I listen to Til We Have Faces while I paint or knit and Hubby & I listen to Outliers in the evenings after the kids are in bed.  I definitely have enjoyed and would recommend all of the Malcolm Gladwell books I’ve read thus far!

I need to work on finishing up some of these books so I can start the next ones! 🙂  I am really enjoying audio books right now because I can work on other things as I listen. Today I’ll be having a finishing party- weaving in all the ends for quite a few finished projects and hopefully finishing up Til We Have Faces.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a peek at what’s on my needles these days.

My favorite season is ALMOST. HERE.

You guys, it’s only ONE MORE DAY UNTIL FALL.  Orange and yellow and scarves and boots and pumpkin everything– what’s not to love??

While we’re at it, let’s check in on my Autumn Bucket list…

Blogging twice a week… well, clearly not.

Painting– the dining room and living room are finished and lovely!

After being disheveled for nearly a month, I’m happy to have everything put back together

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I also rearranged furniture to create more floor space.  We have this beautiful square, leather ottoman that just didn’t fit next to either couch, so I moved it to the corner, put a few throw pillows on it and voila!  Extra seating, plus board game storage.

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I am working on picking the color for the entry and have narrowed it down to 2 greys.  Hubby likes the lighter one- he’d rather the entire house be all beige, but I talked him into an accent wall.  Of course, I picked the 2-story one that connects the entry, living room, and playroom downstairs.  😉  I think the darker one goes better with the furniture and has a more dramatic effect, but don’t want to overwhelm the space.  Which do you prefer?

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Dog training- yup! I’m always shocked at how much easier it is to train Ape- he’s so much more interested in treats than Shep!  Added bonus- my sister and nephew came out for the weekend and brought their dog, Molly. We had tons of fun just relaxing, taking the dogs to the dog beach and watching while the cousins climbed all over boulders by the bay (didn’t get any pictures- we were having too much fun!).

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Spend time in the Lord’s Word  I haven’t consistently been up every morning, but most mornings. It’s been perfect, really, that Ape wakes me up early (hooray, house breaking) so I can sit and drink coffee & have devotions before Little Warrior wakes up and careens down the stairs, starting the day at break-neck speed.  I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God and just ordered a study from She Reads Truth.

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I also ordered this print from She Reads Truth and am SO EXCITED.

Doxology Print

We sing the Doxology to both kids after turning out the light each evening at bedtime. We’ve done this every night since they came home.  When I saw this print, I immediately knew I wanted to put it by their bedroom doors.

That’s about all I’ve accomplished on my list so far, though I have researched and selected a compost bin to help reduce our waste output and found a few places to apply for part-time work.

Now I’m off to pull out my Autumn decorations and go crazy on the house!!  😉

Back to School Bucket List

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After spending Labor Day weekend camping, we’re finally able to settle into the school year.  The Princess started 3rd grade and Little Warrior entered Kindergarten (yes, there was much weeping on my part after drop off the first day– he managed to happily trot off to class without any hesitation).

For the first time in nearly 4 years, I have some consistent down time during the week.  Last Fall I had 1 hour without kids while they were in Sunday school and I sat in the sermon and a bit less than an hour when The Princess did ballet and little one was in preK.  Going from having a bit less than 2 hours a week to myself to, well, 6 hours a day, has been a huge adjustment.  I get so. much. done.

My friend, The Frugal Girl, always posts expansive bucket lists over the summer because that’s when she has time available each year.  For me, Autumn is when I can finally get my ducks in a row and accomplish big tasks.  So here’s my Fall list, in no particular order.

  1. Blog at least twice a week. 
  2. Paint the house.  Like, all of it.  I want the living area to be completed in September and the bedrooms/playroom can wait until later in the Fall.
  3. Spend at least 20-30 minutes a day training each puppy. Um, did I mention we got a puppy the last week of January?  And we got ourselves another one 3 weeks ago! They’re both Bernese Mountain Dogs and truly live up to the breed’s reputation for being the gentlest of giants, completely devoted to their family.  But even with the mildest-tempered dogs in the world, you must train them, especially when they’ll weigh 100-130 pounds!
    This is Shep Oden:
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    He was 4 months old when we got him and he’s 11 months old now and the sweetest, most patient dog you’ll ever meet. I have multiple pictures of him with babies & toddlers crawling all over him– usually grabbing fist-fulls of fur– as he lies calmly, gently by. He was the runt of the litter and will likely never pass 100 pounds. I’m  completely in love.

    This is Ape Lincoln (name pending..)IMG_2095 IMG_2099He’s feisty and mischievous, and might be better suited with the name ‘Trouble’.  He loves nothing more than playing tug-of-war and chewing on Shep’s ears and tail (oh, faithfully patient Shep <3). Despite his playful ways, he certainly lives up to the gentle giant reputation and he’s a really great pup. He was the roly-poly one of the litter, and knowing his lineage will probably be a good 130-140 pounds. His paws are already the same size as Shep’s!     The kids LOVE the additions to our family and snuggle with them all the time.Shep and his boy2 Bonus points for anyone who knows why the kids named them Shep & Ape!

  4. Spend time consistently in the Lord’s Word and in prayer each day.  My bible study is going to be reading Timothy Keller’s book Prayer and I’m excited to delve into a deeper understanding of what constitutes a healthy prayer life.
  5. Begin cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This goal came about when the Princess and her friends started cooking through the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook during sleepovers (followed by one of the HP movies each sleepover, of course) and we cooked up the idea to start working our way through Julia Child’s iconic book.
  6. Reduce waste.  On multiple fronts– Reduce our food waste, which is embarrassingly high of late.  I’ll be following The Frugal Girl’s example of Food Waste Friday. Maybe if the world can see how much I waste, it’ll light a fire under my hiney to be more dedicated to using food wisely.  Reduce trash/recycle waste by being intentional about packing lunches in reusable containers and bags instead of disposable.  I’d love to get down to two bags of trash a week.  Reduce time waste.  With all this extra time it could be so easy to throw it all away.  I want to be focused and purposeful with how I use these new-found hours of productivity.
  7. Refinish the cedar chest I got at Goodwill.  I found a beautiful old cedar chest at Goodwill and lugged it home for just $30. I’d been looking for a coffee table for our book room and when I saw this I knew it would fit perfectly.  Although it is a gorgeous chest, it needs to be refinished and I’ve never been one to DIY that kind of thing.  It’ll be a learning experience!
  8. Organize and inventory our camping stuff and winter supplies.  I love camping and hope to do a lot more of it as our kids get older.  It’ll be so much easier to have everything catalogued, stocked, and ready to just pull out the camping box and go on a new adventure.
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    Also, it’ll be good to easily access emergency supplies that we may need during winter storms out here.
  9. Start working part-time. Whether doing at-home transcription, starting an Etsy shop, or subbing- I will go stir crazy if I’m not actively applying my mind to something– and why not make a little moolah in the process?
  10. Train for a half marathon.  I’ve been working toward a 5K in October, but my long-term goal is to run a half marathon.  Gotta start somewhere, however slowly. 2 miles down, 11 to go!

We had a great summer filled with adventure and family.

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But as we say goodbye to summer,

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I’m excited to see what the next year holds for us!

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Friday Fave Five: Skating through the month

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Susanne at Living to Tell the Story hosts us each week to share 5 of the favorite parts of our week.

1. 3 Day Refresh.

I love BeachBody programs and this one didn’t disappoint.  I lost 3 pounds but more importantly it jump-started me on healthy eating habits that I’d grown lax on over the past few months.  I’m not gonna lie, I was crazy hungry the last night, but overall the rest of the the time wasn’t bad at all. Though Sunday night was hard- mostly because I ice skated for 2 hours and shoveled snow for 30 minutes on the 3rd day of 900 calories a day- overall I did not feel deprived of food because you’re consuming something every few hours.  I’ll definitely be doing it again when I plateau and need something to zap my metabolism to attention.

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But once in awhile I did think of this and giggle.

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2. The Princess is loving school.  This is a huge blessing.  I knew she would but still worried about it since she was so adamantly opposed to the idea at first.  And her new teacher is great. We had an unsavory experience with SoCal public schools, but I’ve been beyond impressed with the educators at her school so far.

3.  An ice skating birthday party with the Princess.  It was fun to get an afternoon out, just us. And we had a great time ice skating with her friends.

We liked to think of ourselves as this…

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But in reality were more like this…

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We had so much fun I didn’t get a single picture!  🙂

4. Hubs was supposed to be out of town all week and ended up only having to be away Monday & Tuesday.  Though we do fine on our own when we must, life is always better with him around.  I never sleep well when he’s away so it’s comforting to have him home.  Excuse me while I go swoon.  😉

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5. Finishing projects.  I was able to finish 3 projects this week!  I hate weaving in ends and blocking and such, so I have to plan in times to finish up all the projects I’m working on.  I also cast on a fun new secret project and was able to problem solve a way to smooth out some edges that were pretty gnarly at the color switch.  They’re still not perfect, but a lot better, and I’ll keep experimenting to see if I can make it even smoother.  🙂

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And bonus, I got to go on a little reading date with this sweet boy.  He’s started reading chapter books and I’m having such a tough time finding age-appropriate books (he just turned 5 at the beginning of the month).  We’re doing Nate the Great and Encyclopedia Brown but any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!  He’s also in love with TinTin books. ❤

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