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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

a needle felted mousy friend.

A few weeks ago we were reading a little story about a fairy and her gnome friends and her best friend, Jeremy the mouse. I made little gnomes last year(click here for this simple pinecone gnome craft! so cute!)  and a fairy this summer but we had no mouse.

We needed a mouse, little miss informed me. Now.

So. Putting aside laundry and dishes and emails and etc. I used up that precious toddler nap hour making a little mouse friend for her. She was ecstatic and carried it around for days. Then she lost it. So I made another just this past week. This time I took pictures.

I think this is my new favorite needle felting project. Sweet. Simple. And best yet, quick.

A first note about needle felting. You can't use regular needles. You need felting needles. They have barbs on them, tiny barbs, that mush and mash the wool fibers together. I did not understand this at first and tried using regular needles. It doesn't work. At all. These are the kind you are looking for. Also, some people love these little gadgets they have that screws in several needles at a time. I have tried using this gadget. I want to believe in this gadget. BUT every time I use this gadget I break a needle. I think its harder to control them. I am down to one needle now. And its bent. So. No gadgets.

A second note about needle felting. The needles are sharp. Like, very VERY sharp. Please take care not to, for example, hold a large project up against your body as you felt. You will poke yourself in the stomach. And please, try not to needle felt when extremely tired. You WILL end up ramming the needle through your fingernail. And it does hurt. A lot.

Now. Where to get wool. Well, I am lucky in that my mom has a flock of sheep. Which I know is unique. But there ARE lots of great sellers on Etsy who sell raw wool to work with. I am happy to post links if you are interested.

So, here are my mousy making thoughts. Tell me if you don't get something. I will edit to clarify.  YAY. Mousy friends.

The very sharp bent needle.

a lump of grey wool. you will also need black and pink.

start pulling and shaping until your lump resembles mousy parts

I would like to point out that it is very difficult to take a picture of yourself needle felting. That is all.
Here is the needle in action, Definitely recommend getting this foam pad thingy. You can also use a couch cushion or something like that.

So, needle felting is really about shaping the wool. Think of it like sculpting. Poke a little here, poke a little there. That is all there is to it. And if you don't have enough wool, just add another lump. Its a very forgiving craft.

After some poking on the ears and the face I added a few bits of black wool for eyes. It kinda looks like a koala here. The pink nose at the end helps.

To make the body I started by forming a tail. Just roll a long piece of wool like a snake in your hand. then needle felt up against the foam piece, while rolling and twisting a bit.

I had to add a lump into the inside of the body for a fluffier tummy. Then I pulled out bits from the
side to form two little legs, like a mouse crouching. Then I added the tail.

Below is the bit to add for the front paws (paws? hands? what do mice have?)

I rolled a piece and then needle felted the hands quite a bit to make them sturdy.

Crap picture. again, the disclaimer. But yes, now add the paws to the body.

Now add a bit of pink fluff for the ears. And here is the nearly finished mousy, minus a pink nose.


A finished little mousy friend, romping in the pine needles. And I must confess I am deathly afraid of mice. And I warned the children that if I see these little guys in a corner on the floor I will likely scream. Which is what I did a mere hour later. Rather lifelike out of the corner of your eye in the kitchen under a towel. EEK.

Mr. Mouse and his gnome buddies.

And of course baby dear needed one too.

Mousy friends for all!

Happy felting mamas!

Monday, October 28, 2013

operation de-stress, unwind and reconnect

You know those weeks, those periods of life, where things are frantic. Where mom and dad are stressed. When things seem to pile up, and laundry too. When meals tend to be last minute affairs of chicken nuggets and steamed edamame and children are shushed with the television too often. And whether its work or stress or holidays or visitors, life is out of whack.

And suddenly you wake up one morning and your kids are WHINEY and you realize its because you are WHINEY and you have to take a step back and say, okay folks, time to get things under control.

Operation De-Stress, Unwind and Reconnect, commence.

This of course has been my life these past few weeks. New work possibilities opening up for me (hence lots of conference calls and kids in front of videos). Dada's second job fiasco (long story short, didn't work out, now looking for another second job, ugh.) Car breaking down = mama and kids STUCK AT HOME (we have a new - to us - car now, YAAAAAY)

Things have been out of whack, down to the nuggets and edamame dinner last night.

And Oh. My. Lord. The children have been whiney. And we realize last night, yea, its because WE have been whiney (also, wine-y, which is what I just accidentally typed, HA.)

So we step back. Mid-day dada said, "yea, we are scrapping that to do list today, aren't we".

"Uh, yep, looks like it."

Little mirrors, these kiddies need peaceful, calm, contented, reflected from us back onto them.

Instead of the to do list we go to church, clean a little, chop some firewood, carve pumpkins, go shopping for costumes, make dinner. Go to bed.

Slow it down.

Drink it in.

Take a breath.


They NEED us to be this for them. To know that even when the van breaks down and dada is gone long hours and things are topsy-turvy, its all still good, we are together, we are loved, we are blessed.

Somehow I lost this perspective over the crazy week, instead getting more upset with how, simply put, devilish,  my children have been. OH the whining. OH the fighting. OH the TV consumption. And I got more and more worked up. What is going on? Why are they like this? What have I done?

And oh, they are now fighting, again, as I type, about who is going to turn the ceiling fan on, and oh, they just shoved each other...

Yes, still working on it.

But this was my take.

One, what makes me calm? I need to be calm for them to be calm. Honestly, cleaning up the house helps. I washed the kitchen floor at 9pm last night.

Then, two, a calmer week helps too. My mom is on her way up to us to spend a few days. (YAAAAAY GRANDMA!) So we "cancel" school for the week. Instead opting for fun (educational!) activities that we can all do. This morning we read a pumpkin story for the girls, did a paper pumpkin Pinterest craft (mildly successful), talked about pirates and read a history story of Black Beard (little man's costume of choice this year), and then wrote a poem out by Tennyson (copywork!) and read his biography. Then he looks up oak trees and flips through our North American nature book for 30 minutes. All this while lounging in the sun drinking coffee. Sneaky school. Ha.

But it works. We are low key. We hang out in our PJs most of the morning. We make granola. I sit and build Duplo castles for them. Here is how you PLAY, TV is NOT required for entertainment. We read  few stories. Do a craft. Listen to music. Make some pumpkin bars. Wait for grandma.

Soft, sweet, calm, contented. And the last few weeks melts away. And the sunshine helps. Sometimes we just need to step back, and realize yes, their mood does (sometimes) start with us. So where are WE at? Stressed? They will be too. Worried? Yep, they are gonna get freaked out about their sister touching their Duplo castle. Looking for escapism? This is what cartoons are for kids.

You know?

And oh yes, they are their own little people, with their own moods. But I am finding more and more in my parenting how much my tone sets their tone, and rather than correcting them, I see how much there is to work on in myself. Can I show them grace in my reaction to hard things? Can I show them perseverance? Loving reactions? Patience? Calm? These are the things I want for my kids to see in me, to model to them.

And now. We put on our jackets and gloves and hats and go out into the chilly sunshine, embracing the cold air, the wind, the golden leaves.

A mama and her babies, three separate souls, yet spirits so intertwined.

as I took this picture I said to dada...remember how every year
we HATE doing year lets paint them!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a to do list

This morning I finally got in some time with me and coffee and iPad before the sun rose, and more importantly, the kiddies.

It is ESSENTIAL to my sanity to get this time in, a couple of times a week at least.

This morning I indulged in Pinterest (I have been trying to show pinning restraint as to focus on DOING, not just PINNING.)

And then, as I do, I make a list. These lists make me happy, a nice collage of life these days.

Here is mine from this morning, in no particular order.

What is on your to do list this Wednesday morning?

This week/Today:

Outside find leaves =>Beeswax leaves  =>Lotion
Number story, new math book?
Skip counting wheel
Logic book
Home geography
Cyrus story
Native myths story
Find new nature series, birds by Burgess!
Write poem
Vit d and fish oil and detox tea
Flat basket for collection? For kiddo to play with, need things for her to do.. Rotate collection in basket => dada build Play nature table?
Wrap sticks with yarn and bells and leaves for fairies
Corn husk dolls
Bake bread
Gather pine cones, pine cone wreath
Garden looms
Bird seed
Letter combo chart
Put seed babies to sleep
Seed baby story
Garden time...Pull up broccoli , mulch herbs, pull up radishes, hang herbs to dry 
Sew Boys new hats
Finish shoes ... Mail out Saturday am!
Knit hats
Knitting with kids, finish homemade needles!
Grass stars from tall stalks outside

Oh, and somewhere in there is laundry, dishes, and figuring out what to make for dinner. Maybe vacuuming too. Or I can do that tomorrow. HA.

But first we play outside. 

Making number wheels!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

oh white stuff

Do you see the white stuff in the picture? All over my still green, still producing garden? 



And it's still coming down two hours later. 


However, dada is home, the wood stove is crackling, a kitty is purring on my lap, a homemade mocha sits next to me, and my happy blue light is shining on my face as I read the news. 

All in all, a perfect morning.

I am going to rock this winter. Kick it in the teeth. And then make another mocha. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

blue skies

So, I had this list of crafty/fall type posts that I wanted to write. And I sit to write them. And I cant, because I have a hard time writing about needle felting mousy friends when, when I have had this week.

First of all, rain and cold and clouds.

Second of all, second job blues.

Third of all, government shutdown.

Fourth of all, a van that cant be repaired.

And. The sun is pushing through the clouds in a noble effort to bring me some light and suddenly as I type the rays hit my arm and I think. Yes. I have awesomely fantastic fantabulous children. A man who works his cute butt off for us. I have a pantry stocked full of food. (What we did with our last measly little paycheck before things stopped.)

And baby is throwing markers at the cats, without lids on.

And the sun retreats again.

And little man yells at me when I tell him to find the lids. And I say, we made a deal, and he says, oh yea. And the deal with him is that we both don't yell. We both work on keeping our tempers in check. That we are a team. Gonna make this week work.

And oh, here comes the sun again.

And I think about other people in this world, mothers and sisters and brothers and fathers, who have so little, who have lost everything to things much crappier than a bickering government. And in my own community, people who don't have the luxury of second jobs to make things work, who don't have sisters offer to loan out cars, who don't have blue lights (given to me last month!) to counteract the grey fall days.

And the sun is pushing away the clouds, dear mamas, and I see blue sky. Blue sky.

And even if the grey comes back, and the sun retreats, I know its still there, beating away those clouds, and that a sunny day is a'coming, just for me.

Monday, October 14, 2013

second job crabby days

You know dada is back at his second job at the restaurant when this is your dinner. 

Government shutdown, fun times.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

beeswax modeling clay and fall leaves crafty-ness


This fall has been so busy I feel like I looked up and suddenly it was FALL and the leaves were turning and pine needles covering the yard. And, as is the case when you have a crafty bug in you, fall makes one need to craft. NEED.

Like right now, the woodstove is going, the kids watching a movie, dada in the garage trying to get the chain saw working, toddler dozing, kitties dozing, cold rain coming down. NEED TO CRAFT.

I'm thinking sewing, possibly (GASP) knitting.

The other day though it was windy, sunny, and beautiful. We ran around the yard with baskets picking up the most perfect fall leaves we could find. Because mama had an idea. A crafty idea. Involving the several pounds of beeswax on the shelf, courtesy of a local beekeeper friend.

Here is what we did.

Create some kind of a double broiler to melt the wax. I simply put a layer of tinfoil in a pot, an inch of water inside, and placed a chunk or two of beeswax in the foil. Now heat on med high or so until the wax is melty.

Now, turn off the heat and take your clean most perfect-est leaves and gently dip them in the wax. At first I was nervous to let the kids try but they convinced me and did really well dipping them. You have to hold each leaf over the pot as it drips but it only takes a minute or so to dry enough to lay down on another sheet of foil to cool. Depending on how many leaves you do you might need to reheat your wax at some point.

Next we hung a stick from the yard by the sliding doors out to the patio and strung up the leaves for a beautiful fluttery display in our dining area.

It really is beautiful! I also took a few downstairs to our nature table area in the school room to hang on another mobile with "fall fairies" I made last year. I love this one too. A little bit of breeze makes them flutter and dance in the window. Simply fall magic at its best.

SOOOO then I had a bunch of leftover melty wax. And I had an idea. HHHHMMM to make it more pliable?? To make it into that fancy expensive modeling beeswax they sell on the fancy expensive websites???

Oh. I did. And it totally worked.

I had maybe a cup of beeswax melted. Maybe less. I turned the heat back on and added one tablespoon of olive oil and then the same amount of lanolin. Where do you find lanolin? In any babies r us type store! The breast cream Lanisoh is 100% lanolin and perfect for lots of crafty projects (like lanolizing wool pants for diaper covers!) I found mine and added it. Now melt it together on med high in your little double broiler creation. Turn off the heat and let it cool, in the foil on the counter, and once its cool, peel it off in chunks!


Nice and pliable, a lovely smell and super fun for kiddies to play with AND non-toxic! Little miss and little man both spent more than 30 minutes working with it. When kiddies are done playing I just wrap it back up in a bit of tinfoil and stick it in a shelf with our craft supplies. It takes some working to warm it up when you first pull it out again but it does become pliable as you work it. Next I was thinking I could try dying batches of it to make different colors??

In any case. Let me know if you try!

Happy fall crafting!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

the sun, the rain, and the apple seed

Every night for dinner we sing the old tune accredited to Johnny Appleseed, kiddies gathered round the table, its our call to focus in and be present, and the words have been resounding in my head this week as we gather the last of the cucumbers, pull up another cabbage, turn over the soil in the brussel sprout bed (that never produced??) and pick out and dry seeds to save in envelopes for next year.

And I think of the truth they hold for this time of life, this mommying life, where things like fighting over princess dolls and playdates gone awry and schooling choices and longing for date nights and worrying over doctor bills and screen time and your career, someday somehow, and it all, everything, all feels like so much. Too much. And we hold it all inside.

And then this little voice starts making its way through. A tiny hopeful voice. And in that moment, as the toddler pulls the cats tail and the big kids start into an epic battle over who hit who and you realize its 4pm AGAIN and you have no idea what to do for dinner AGAIN. And you find yourself swooping in to scoop up the toddler, toss the cats in the laundry room, oh crap, laundry, and you yell at the kids to JUST BE QUIET and then you hear it again, that voice, reminding you, it is, in all of it, it is so good.

Oh, the Lord has been good to me.
And so I thank the Lord.
For giving me the things I need
The sun
And the rain
And the apple seed
The Lord's been good to me.

And I think of these words, in my life. The sunny days of beautiful warm October. When the kiddies play nicely, my energy keeps up with their energy, the work of the day comes easy. Those times in life, when things seem full and blessed and lovely.

And the rain. Rain, which has such a different meaning when you are a farmer - or a hobby gardener in our case. Rain isn't a curse. Rain isn't a bad day. Rain is a blessing. Rain is life. And I think about those times when life felt heavy, and how I grew, how I needed the rain of those grey days, to be who I am today.

And the apple seeds. The little nuggets of hope. The emails from a friend on a rough day, the perfect cup of coffee in the sunshine, those moments where the kids actually LIKE the craft you tried to do, when your little man looks up from his math to say, "I really like this!" Those moments are my apple seeds. My reasons to have faith. To keep fighting the good fight.

Because its good. And its worth the good fight.


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