I simply want everything I do to be an act of worship to God. ********************EVERYTHING******************** like a spider's web, intricately woven, the threads of our lives are entwined, making us who we are, where we are, at this time in history.... here's a small record of one family's journey to love God

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We're moving!

Not literally.
At least, not this week anyway (though we are going to an auction next week and will bid if it's the right price - but Father Bear expects the bidding to *start* at our limit - like the last one we went to!!!!)

My change of address is in cyberspace.
The hilariously-makes-you-laugh-out-loud-funny Sarah, who writes The Funniest Blog in The World commented on a discussion board that Wordpress leaves Blogger for dead. She gave some pretty compelling reasons as to why this is so....and I determined to show her how much I value her professional opinion and Made The Move. This time yesterday she was wishing she had not given any unsolicited advice as I emailed her every hour or so with very particular not confined to blondes technical unique to wordpress problems. I'm sure she would have given me undivided attention except that Karen (who recently moved from just-round-the-corner-to-me to very-far-away-from-me-and-not-too-far-from-Sarah) went to visit her. That would not have been so bad in and of itself - they could have emailed me together....but the visit meant that Sarah, who is obviously a Very Good Hostess, went out to buy milk, because she had visitors coming. And so I was left in the lurch without any help whatsoever until late at night when she was supposed to be doing business administration. Sarah's big trip out to the dairy caused me to drop from her memory and I suspect Karen-n-Sarah spent the day yakking instead of checking for my emails - I'm sure it didn't take All Day to buy milk.
Ah well, all's well that ends well.
Which reminds me, you don't know that all was not well.
At least not HOW BAD it was.

Wordpress is meant to be amazingly better.
It has more options and more themes and better commenting facilities and easier editing functions and fancy schmancy things called Widgets (that's the bit that sold it to me I think - coz let's face it, you only need one theme and you do nothing with the remaining 732 that you don't choose, except perhaps wonder if they would have looked better.....or, if you're like me, you try them all first and in the process lose half your posts and upload pictures that take over the whole computer screen).
I think you're starting to get the picture.
Wordpress was not all roses.
It ate an entire blog. It chewed up my header photo and spewed it out split into three horizontally. It would not let me access the kids' blog and suggested I transfer all hundred-and-something blogposts manually. It insisted on putting my pages in alphabetical order even when I ordered them numerically. And right back at the beginning it didn't tell me I would be stuck with my username forever....if I'd known that I would never have chosen a name with nineteen letters!
I still haven't worked out how to do anything with photos, but that is an invalid complaint right now as Father Bear played with the computer the other night and now the camera and computer are not talking to each other so I can't get photos anyway.
The camera and computer might not be talking, but Father Bear was talking to me. I have a sneaking suspcion that he got a bit nervous about my very nonchalant dropping of new words like "widget" into dinnertime conversation. Now you need to know I will never be mistaken for a techno-geek. Never. Father Bear, on the other hand, could be. Well, only if you heard him talking. If you *saw* him your fears would be allayed, because he really is quite stunningly striking/debonair/spunky/just plain gorgeous - tall, dark and handsome, that's him (though the dark now has to refer to his skin tone and not hair colour as that is becoming speckled).
Anyway, Computer Consultant Father Bear must have been a tad disconcerted that Blonde Wife could use a technical term he had not taught her (in fact, that was probably the hair to break the camel's back - she had been caught doing her own html-ing a few weeks earlier - the first html episode left Father Bear with a slight smile of admiration shimmering on his face, but this widget-talk turned the admiration to threatening-behaviour-alert)....and so he got involved in my blogworld....he even solved one of the Problems (quite funny really, in teaching me the solution, he talked about gif and png.....to Father Bear that is a such-n-such file "just like bitmaps or something else he said that I can't remember and didn't understand at the time"....to me they are gifs and penguins! I told you I wouldn't be mistaken for Computer Geek!)

There you have it. The transition from Blogger to Wordpress.
Here's the link.
Don't try this at home yourself unless you have a Sarah - and make sure you buy her a bottle of milk before you start.

Friday, August 3, 2007

speed quilting

twenty-four hours is all you need to make a quilt
(and supervise chores and knit a few rows and do some shopping and visit friends and cook dinner and read a chapter and grab some shuteye....)


the twenty-four hour quilt......
(complete with fluff that needs to be picked off but I'm oh-so-impatient about getting it onto the blog!)

Laying it on top of the Blue Quilt was probably not the most aesthetic thing to do, but I can't put it in the garden as it's raining! And I really *wanted* to lay it out on the dark brown bark...coz this is The Ghecko Quilt for The Ghecko Boy, who is turning five next week.

But I don't think it's *ever* going to stop raining, which takes me back to the impatient comment above.

TGQ is a leftover quilt: leftover ghecko material from the boys' shorts last summer, leftover cord from our lounge suite, leftover brown cotton from my pants, leftover checks and plain brown from the boys' jackets, lots of leftover suede (which never got made into what it was bought for - heehee) and a little cord that wasn't leftover, but *was* a bargain from the Sallies.

The back looks just as good as the front.....in spite of me throwing all caution to the wind and just picking up random pieces (Very Not Me, but it's how you Get It Done in 24hrs...and more importantly, Before The Birthday!)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

God Bless the Sallies

What a find at the Sally Shop....
(BTW, last week it became apparent that some of my smaller kids think the Sally Shop is so-called, because they *sell* things)
$2 for a bag of Very Useful Bits and Bobs.
More specifically, a latch hook hooky thing (OK, so not too much more specific!).
Not one, but two, darning mushrooms. Just yesterday J12 had brought me ER's wooden stacky toy thingy and suggested the base of it would make a good darning mushroom if only it were smaller. Well, now we have one each - and one of them is even red with little white dots. (Who said all preteens are into playstation and Harry Potter?)
There are self-cover buttons....just last week J12 learnt how to use these and made herself three buttons for a vest so her beady wee eye spotted them pretty quickly in the bag.
But wait, there's more.
Zips, thread, bias binding, Metal Things and a very cool wooden and metal contraption,which will probably need an Engineering Mind to devise a use for (or at least explain to me the intended use....all I know is it's something to do with a bobbin).

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

ah the agony

The maths books had to be abandoned.
There was a Big Lie Incident.
How can you concentrate on Exciting Books when you're sleuthing and refereeing?
That's no rhetorical question - I have an answer.
It's quite simple really - I can't!

I can, however, make up a knitting pattern.
Looks quite nice don't ya think?

And while we're on the knitting theme, I finished this hat and vest this morning while the kiddos ate breakfast.

J11 has kindly offered to make the requested-by-M4-for-whom-the-vest-and-hat-were-made- pompom to dangle off the end of the hat. I valiantly started it myself, thinking how sweet it would be for me to make a *whole* something for my darling M4 all myself, but crikey, pompoms are BORING (and that's a word we don't use round here - except, of course, in Exceptional Circumstances - and this is one of them). J11 doesn't know it, but I would PAY him to do it! (I told you this was an Exceptional Circumstance). Now don't anyone go letting him know, OK.

(And yes, the vest is enormous for a four year old......but next week he'll be five....and next year when he's allowed to start wearing it he'll be six and I hope it'll last two years, by which stage he'll be eight....so methinks it's just perfect! Goodness me, it's nearly only one year till we go away!)

One last comment - I know I shouldn't have bothered doing a cable in a variegated wool, but I was finding the going round and round all the way from waist to armpits to be rather monotonous so I needed something *different* to do.......a pocket eventuated....and then I thought I'd better repeat the cable pattern at the top of the vest too. So even though you can't see it, I know that little labour of love and creativity is hidden in there;-) I had intended doing it up the hat aswell, but plain ol' forgot. So the hat is just plain ol'.

the height of excitement

There's nothing like hearing that knock on the door and racing up the hallway to discover, not a face-to-face-friend, but a New Friend all wrapped up in paper and cardboard and a big plastic bag.

Yesterday the first of our recent book purchases arrived. All the way from America.
Which ones would this box hold? Latin books? Knitting books? Farming books?
No, it was the maths books.

J12 and J11 are a good way through their first ever maths text book and they were keen to get a hold of A Human Endeavour after they're done this b*o*r*i*n*g, but useful one (to be honest, I'm impressed at how they are sticking with a book that is just page after page of sums - they are not *overly* enjoying it, but they can see how much quicker they are getting at the basic facts through their almost daily practise and they are ploughing on of their own free will).

We flicked through the new orange book briefly yesterday...there's no way we'll be waiting to finish the current book before starting this one. It's FANTASTIC. We didn't want to put it down, but other things (like dinner preparation) were calling and we had to be grown-up responsible people! Can't wait for the littlies to go for naps this afternoon (hence why I'm betting the blog out of the way now while I munch on grated carrot, lettuce from the garden and a fried egg).

We dipped into Challenge Math as well. I had bought that mistakenly thinking it was a small book and would be a great one to throw in the backpack for our seven months in China and Mongolia......it's not so small, but it's definitely coming with us!

And the last one: Ten Things All Future Mathematicians and Scientists Must Know (But are Rarely Taught). Well who could leave a book like that at Amazon?

We're looking forward to getting to know our new friends this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I really shouldn't have.

No brand new purchases-this-year-n-all-that-jazz.

I needed a button for my Kaffe Fasset-inspired blue bag. It used to be an open bag,

but I'm using it all the time and it bugs me that things *could* fall out (never mind that the whole bag fell off my shoulder in the carpark ~ I would never have noticed except that a lovely big burly workman shouted out to bring the misadventure to my attention. Bless his woolly worksocks.)

Anyway, I had added a "top bit" in very funky wool....

....and just needed two buttons to make it a closed bag. One had to be not too big, because one of the buttonholes didn't really work (not sure what I did wrong), so it will remain The Permanently Closed Side. The other one needed to be enormous, coz the buttonhole was gigantic (not sure what went wrong there either). I'd raided my own stash and found a suitable Permanent Button and put on the biggest one I had as the other, but it was too small and the bag kept popping open.

So I checked the local op shop clothes for Big Buttons.
No joy.
In an effort to support local business rather than The Big Red Shed, I ventured to Knitworld and they had Just What I Needed.
What's more, it was only 70 cents.

But did I have even a dollar on me?
No, not me.
And I felt silly using my Eftpos card for 70c.
So I had a quick sneak around hoping to find a cheap ball of wool to use for my last Sock Knitalong pair (it would be a reward for finishing all the unfinished socks, y'know)

There was no cheap wool.
But there was this:

Real sock wool.
Not chunky.
Will require more than 36 stitches to make a sock;-)
And needles so tiny you could mistake them for toothpicks.
But at the end of it I will have a pair of REAL socks.
Actually I hope to have four pair, all different.
All the girls have some purple in their Trip Clothes so this wool will be perfect.

I'm keen to knit both socks at once to avoid Second Sock Syndrome and I was fortunate enough to realize that if I did that working from opposite ends of the one ball of wool, the pattern would turn out upside down on one sock. Hence the TWO balls.
And that should be enough for six small socks and hopefully the tops of the last two!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Continuum Concept

I was going to write a review of Jean Liedloff''s book, but I think I'll just stick to the questions it raised for me and some Helpful Information.

1) Do people really *believe* that as babies we have expectations inside of us, which are dependent on what our ancestors experienced over millions of years????
2) How can someone who has visited a couple of remote tribes five times (totalling about two years with them) speak with such authority about how they never do this or always do that?
3) Closely linked to number 2, and assuming she's not a linguistic genius, wouldn't a huge amount of everyday interaction have gone over her head because she simply didn't understand? Perhaps the apparent total absence of arguing was merely due to the fact that they argue differently to us - just like they greet people differently and have different mealtime customs. Who knows?
4) Has she overlooked the problems that do exist in that society? (I'll be upfront with my underlying beliefs: I do not believe there is a perfect society anywhere around - of course, some may do better than others and we could all learn from each other....but none are perfect. So when someone writes a totally glowing report I am inclined to think they are romaticising it a bit. Call me cynical; I'm OK with that!)
5) How would she, as someone who obviously believes it is detrimental for a young baby to be "not carried" during the first six or so months, describe my children? With the exception of the one who cried from pain for hours a day (and he yelled whether he was held or not), they have all happily slept in an old cane pram.

We didn't experience the agonising screaming described in the book as children are separated from their mother and their world turns upside-down. When our little ones would wake we would attend to their needs and they seemed genuinely secure - certainly no signs of despair at all.

A few of them needed to be close to us for the first few days, especially at night. But this didn't last long - the worst was ER, the one who got the most holding out of all of them!!!!! She was only content if being held from 6 to 11 each evening...and this went on for about seven or eight weeks. There she is at *that* time of night:

However, this didn't last for anywhere near as long as Liedloff suggests, and she was more than happy to be separated from me during the day. How would Jean explain this?
6)At the risk of sounding like a defensive parent who didn't do what Liedloff said, I will ask my final question. Will parents be left feeling guilty if they don't follow her formula? It's not rhetorical.

I read this book having had a background of parenting reading that erred more on the side of "parents doing stuff to their kids".
So this book was VERY different, and in many ways, in spite of the fantastical (IMHO) assertions about humanity, it was a breath of fresh air.

I loved:
*the value placed on the *relationship* between parent and child
*the value placed on the children themselves
*the description of what a baby experiences upon entering the world - it explained in part for me, why our little ones really do *need* to be so close at the beginning. This was something I had *worked out* for myself (in spite of reading that books that were pretty strong on needing to teach bubbas to sleep right from the start and Plunket warning otherwise)......so I had spent nights sleeping with babes in my arms, mainly in that first week.
*the acknowledgement that babies are social
*the encouragement to allow your children to co-operate with you.
*not so much in the book, but certainly on her website, Liedloff talks very convincingly about children needing to be included in the adult world - not being the centre of the world, but just being an active participant. This is one of my soapboxes, and I'm more than happy to move over on it and share it with her!
*again, on the website, discussion about children needing to know parents are in control.
*the article about two women sharing their lives intimately - I have to admit I tire a little too easily of the pervasive view that if it's "tribal" it must be better than what we as modern white men are doing. So the terminology of this piece gets to me a little - but the sentiment of working together in community is definitely worth noting, and something we need to be intentional about these days if we live in suburbia.

Funny thing is, these ideas are not new. And I don't even think Liefloff can lay claim to them. They are Biblical ideas (OK, not the inbuilt-expectations-handed-down-from-ancestors-over-millions-of-years-bit....I mean the "good" bits!) And quite frankly, I find a Biblical worldview reflects the reality I see around me far more consistently than Liedloff's wild claims about *evolutionary expectations*.

But all in all, an interesting read.

how special is this?

Very. Very. Special.

It came with this explanation:
"I drawed this card for you, because I love you very very much."

Thanks M4. I love you too.
How much?
This much.

Well, *you*-who-happen-to-be-reading-this won't know what that means, it's a special M4-n-me thing.

I can't even remember how it started. Something at the back of my mind says it was something to do with one of the medical procedures he had done that he was a bit scared about and I did something to take his mind off it...or maybe it wasn't. Anyway, he now often comes up to me and grabs one finger and squeezes it as tightly as he can, whilst asking "Do you want to know how much I love you Mama? This much."
Then I show him just how much I love him.
This much.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I like this kind of weekend

Yesterday I had my winter Out Day. Father Bear was unimpressed that I should wake about 6 and he informed me there was nowhere I could go in the rain before the sun was up! So I snuggled in bed for a bit longer. I even managed not to remind him of the time he told me it was half past six when it was only half past five. It was on the tip of my tongue. But then I remembered that a) *that* day turned out wonderfully b) it seemed to go on and on and on (that's what happens when you leave the house at 5.45am) c) it wasn't raining on that occasion and d) the sun was virtually up despite the early hour. It must have been summer. All in all I concluded I would not win if I were to pursue this unnecessary argument and decided to take some Biblical advice - "even a fool is thought wise if he keeps his mouth shut"
But in the end I just couldn't lie still any longer and I got up.
I scrambled around in the dark (not too difficult as I had laid everything out the night before - pays to be prepared for the big day out) and tiptoed out of the house, embracing the possibilities of the day. I had packed the car with a couple of knitting projects, an art book, some trip stuff, my current read and most of my scrapbooking paraphernalia, as well as my pile of scrapbooking magazines for inspiration. I wasn't sure what I'd end up doing, and I sure didn't want to limit myself!

I didn't have far to drive and then spent a couple of hours sitting in a carpark waiting for The Warehouse to open (as a matter of principle I am trying to avoid this place - I think this was the fourth or fifth visit for this year and I put aside all principles as I went in and purchased plastic scrapbooky stuff which came inside more plastic wrapping and had pieces of unnecessary cardboard aswell.......I encouraged myself to learn the art of calligraphy, but, knowing my previous attempts at this art, which clearly requires some discipline to acquire, I bought stickers for this particular project - and precoloured papers as well seeing as I am not yet an accomplished watercolour master either) Wow that was a long sidetrack, wasn't it? (Maybe I should have just left out this whole paragraph and you wouldn't need to know about my lack of resolve.....but this is meant to be REAL!) Back to the story.

That done, I was ready to Make The Scrapbook.
So I went home!
Well, not quite. I ended up spending the rest of the day Next Door To My House at Father-in-law's place. He kindly let me spread all over both his dining room tables (two tables, that is, one dining room).
Occasionally a child appeared at the door - I tried hard not to shoo them away too quickly.
Once or twice I needed to return to My House for the one or two scrapbooking bits-n-bobs I had thought I wouldn't need. The kids actually looked pleased to see me - that was nice!
I built up their excitement by leaving immediately.
And not coming home for dinner.

Best of all, I got finished. One complete album in one day. Well, let me qualify that. I got all the backgrounds done, all the page headings and even a few other extra bits. I just haven't done the photos. In fact, some of the photos haven't even been taken yet. But at least now I have a list of what I need to do.
So one more morning to *take* photos, another hour to send pics for developing, the rest of another afternoon to stick photos in and one evening to embellish and it'll be totally done. One album, two days.
"a Kiwi Life", a nice little record of our life in NZ to take with us wherever we end up going. We had been going to buy a book to take, but none of the many we flicked through in Borders reflected *our* life. So we've ended up making our own.

That was all done by the time the last kids headed off to bed.
I realised I was hungry and heard the local Turkish kebab man calling, so I left the guys watching rugby (yawn) and enjoyed the solitude of being the only person in Mr Turk's restaurant for half an hour. There happened to be a real estate paper sitting on one of the large slabs of treetrunk that double as tables and I happened to pick it up.

Armed with that piece of information you don't need to know about the knitting I completed Saturday night......fast forward to just before noon Sunday. There we were wandering around ten acres looking at a three bedroom house and a two beddy cottage. I told you it was a nice weekend!

We raced home to have lunch with friends. We just hung out together all afternoon, enjoying each other's company. The children played, the adults chatted.
We'd done similarly on Friday night - different food, different friends, same enjoyment. Plus we saw *Amazing Grace* together too. Not often you get a movie with good theology, great costumes and sets, accurate history and a jolly good yarn to boot.

It really was my kind of weekend.

Friday, July 27, 2007

he'll wish he didn't tell

Father Bear came home yesterday saying, "They need someone to deliver the programme in China in February"
My Excitement Metre raced off the scale!!!! It has a habit of doing that.
Within one second I had worked out that would mean two summers in a row - and right now, in the throes of week after week of drizzle and downpour, the concept was instantly appealing. The next second was devoted to wondering whether this summer's clothes would be suitable for China. Affirmative. Second three and I was on to organising passports, vaccinations and visas.
Then I remembered my
TO DO list. "The Trip Planning" hasn't even made it on there yet!!!! That's still at-the-back-of-my-mind. There's no way we could be ready for The Big Trip in six months' time.

I slept on it.

And woke to tell Father Bear there's Definitely No Way We Could Do It.
I think I heard an audible sigh of relief!


New day. New thought. New research.

What if we went up for the February - April stint and then returned for three months....and then continued with The Trip as per the original plan? My Live In Fear Of Global Warming Friends would certainly be scared by such a proposition.

But as I've said before, I am yet to be convinced that it is anything more than political hype.
So my conscience is clear.

We could do our planning while we're up there. No interruptions.

But if we went up there now, could we afford to do The Trip? Gut instinct (aka Father Bear) gloomily predicted it would cost (before you read how much he said, I need to insert a footnote and I'll do it right here to save you the trouble of scrolling to the bottom of the page: Father Bear has been known to err on the side of caution in the past, very much so, in fact. Which is why I have become an Expert in the Field of Creative Accounting. It's probably his caution that got the mortgage paid off - that, and his Amazing Miracle Number Crunching Computer Programme he wrote. Anyway, as I was saying, he thought that to go up to China now-ish would cost....) $50,000 - or did he say $60,000? I forget. Either way it was way higher than my guesstimate-based-on-careful-research - insert cheeky grin here -;-) Unless my figurings are wrong (and they might be, but check my track record, it's never happened before), I work it out at $3993. That seems pretty cheap for ten people for three months of *Cultural Exchange*. It would also give us the opportunity to "try before we buy" the Big Concept of traipsing right round the world potentially forever.

Can you feel my excitement?
I've even sent the kids to play outside so I can write because the rain has stopped and I'm feeling sorry for them all cooped up inside for days on end.

Isn't it funny how you can sit down at the keyboard with just a vague idea of saying "I got excited that Father Bear might take us to China sooner rather than later, but it's not going to happen after all".....but what comes out is a full story about global warming, our mortgage, How My Brain Works, what kind of people we are and justifications for today's parenting methodology. Intricate Simplicity!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Going Bush

"Look at all the school kids" came the cry from the back seat as we pulled into the Information Centre carpark. Our kids - a dozen of them - gathered picnic basket and jackets, big kids escorting little ones across to the picnic table, past The Other Group.

We eyed them up.
They eyed us up.

We decided they weren't school kids at all, but a Homeschool Group.
They probably decided the same about us.

There are some things that give it away.

Firstly, there's usually a Mama with a baby in a sling.
There will be toddlers as well as teens.
Lunches are carried in icecream containers and baskets instead of little individual lunchboxes.
There's often a mother off to one side "having a word" with one of the youngsters.
There's always someone called Zechariah or Ezekiel, and he's usually called a few times.
The baby in the sling will be lucky to have socks on - definitely won't be wearing shoes.

We exchanged friendly smiles.

They were there to be Bush Detectives.
We were there because we two families had got together for lunch and some board games, and decided at the last minute to pack sandwiches and make the most of the break in the weather with a walk through the bush.
We didn't have any worksheets, but L6 darted about reading the plant identification signs. M4 and T3 noticed lots and lots and lots of "fellen down trees". We all stopped to *listen*. Conversation raced from Maori myths to pirates to church growth to blogs.

The rain started to fall as we got back to the car!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

to do take two

aka Listmaking 200

Principle 1:
You gotta cross things off (would be great if someone could teach me how to do those little crossing-out-lines on your blog)
Principle 2:
You gotta revise what's already there in case you've changed your mind
Principle 3:
You gotta add some more

So here's the revised list a couple of weeks on:
Sub-heading 1: SEWING
*winter clothes All done except for three buttonholes, which J12 could do herself. So consider it done - it's no longer on my list!
*summer clothes definitely too cold to be thinking about summer clothes yet - put on hold
*The Trip clothes cannot be started before Summer Clothes are finished so Put On Hold.
*Christmas stuff I've been doing for three years *this is the year* but not till December, so I don't even need to think about this one yet either.
*pencil rolls soon....sooon.....these ones are making me feel guilty
*quilts (should be a subheading of its own given that there's Father Bear's to bind STILLaha, maybe it doesn't need binding - Sharon got to use it when she was here and it's been on our bed ever since....., J12's to finish before her birthdayI went so far as getting it off the shelf to show Sharon....oh there's still soooooo much to do on it...as soon as the Blue Quilt is bound I'll be working on this one....September will be here before I know it, a pink one cut out and half sewn, fabric for at least four more sitting thereno hurry on these - they are now officially packed away for A Rainy Day (of which we have been having plenty!))
*redwork embroidery wall hanging suffering similar fate to above quilts
*snowman wall-hangings...don't ask! December

Sub-heading 2: KNITTING
*vests (ER1, M4, L6, K8, K9, J11, J12) M4's is very nearly done!! wool is wound into balls for the girls' ones and L6's.
*hats (L6, K9, J11, J12, me, Father Bear) mine is done, but now I add another one for M4 coz I've imagined-up a funky pattern to match his vest and there's gonna be stacks of wool left over
*mittens for J12
*cardy for me (just a plain old sensible boring one....and if I ever get time, I've seen some really funky patterns for wild ones - it's no longer going to be totally boring - I'm going to do some Nicky Epstein fancy patterns on it somewhere)
*socks progress made - remember this?
*giant cooking bag that'll be the summer camping project
*needle holders (really not an essential item at this point in time, but I started on this project and would like to FINISH it) and I'll take them camping too!
*cotton dishcloths (some for us and some for Helen - as promised) eager to do some in the pattern I used for the collar - might just happen soon
*nativity collection (well, when I bought that booklet, I *knew* it was a put-away-until-much-later thing, but I just love it and so I can hardly wait to start) definitely not yet. Plus I can't decide whether I want to do it all in cream wool or in bright funky colours. Not to worry, I have a few years to make up my mind!

Sub-heading 3: READING (books on my shelf that I want to devote some serious time to)
*Don Quixote
*The War on the Poor
*American Adventure Series all 48 of them
*Mollison on Permaculture
*The Blessing
*Endangered Minds we've lent this to someone and I haven't written down WHO...if it's YOU, please drop me a line and let me know coz Father Bear is asking for it.
*The Hurried Child
*The Overload Syndrome
*Complete Charlotte Mason Series
*Houses That Change the World
*A Landscape with Dragons
*Is There Life After Housework?
*Pilgrim's Progress
*borrowed The Long Emergency from the library. RIVETTING. Nothing happening with any of the others! Expect a review.

Sub-heading 4: THINKING
*non-adversarial parenting now also called non-confrontational in my mind, but I'm looking for a positive term
*response to The Continuum Concept formulating - does talking about it this weekend count?
*my work

Sub-heading 5: OTHER
*Christmas scrapbook
*J12's childhood scrapbook
*have purchased materials to make an Our Life In New Zealand Scrapbook - add it to the list so I can cross it off! Then add "Our Life In New Zealand Scrapbook".
*Garage sale collecting items
*Book purchases all done - and then some! Got some real bargains on ebay. $85 book for $4.99 and the $30 accompanying workbooks for 99p. Latin here we come. Plus the textbook seller offered us any help we should ever want - she's a Latin teacher. YAY. I'll do a "books purchased this year" post when they all arrive.
*sort through photos DONE. totally completely finished
*the paper pile (sigh) stacked in a banana box!

something for *me*

I was meant to make *My* Travelling Things last, just in case I ran out of time - I don't mind freezing my own ears off, but it just wouldn't be fair for it to be one of the kids with no hat. However, I needed to start something easy-peasy and thoughtless while Sharon was here and I had just wound my wool, so that seemed a good place to begin. Besides, I had a pattern on hand and the right sized needles hadn't been put away from the last project. As it was, I had to start it twice because I cast on the wrong number of stitches. By the way, what is with The General Population? They all seem to think that women can multi-task. Either I have a few chromosomes mixed up, or I am a Different Kind of Woman (No rude comments thanks). I cannot multi-task.
End. Of. Story.
And the fact that I had to cast on my stitches twice just proves it. Actually, it's not QUITE that bad. I cast on the right number according to the pattern. But whenever have I been known to follow a pattern? They told me to change my needle size to get the right gauge (does that mean I did a tension square? You've got to be kidding! I just measured another item I'd already made out of the same type of wool). I liked *that* tension, so I just upsized the pattern a wee bit.
FYI, JUST was used rather ambiguously in the last sentence. It does not mean "only" or "that's all I did to the pattern". As well as upsizing, I knit "just a wee bit more" before decreasing (and I'm so glad I did) and then instead of casting off "in knit" at the end, I did a fancy little number - I do love picot points. They are not only for baby pants (I could've said JUST instead of "only", eh) ....they are for Big Grown Ups too!
But I haven't finished with it yet; it needs to be a bit longer at the back. If I don't run out of wool, I'll use more of the same, if I do run out before the cardy is finished I'll use a contrast - the same as I'll have to use on the cardy. And what will I do with it? I'm going to add another flappy-brim-type-thing to the back, gently easing round to the sides. Well, that's the plan!

PS Do you like the collar? It's not getting any rave reviews in my face-to-face encounters! As far as I can see, either it's too *different* or my temperate-townee friends just cannot imagine being really truly cold. Yes, that must be it. I'm sure if they knew the meaning of COLD, they'd think it was a Fantastic Creation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

what a wonderful weekend

It started early on Friday morning with a trip to the airport to pick up Sharon. I had only met her face-to-face once before and on that night the time had flown by all too quickly. This time we would not be returning her to the airport until Monday evening - and the children would have a car-picnic on the way home.

She was the Most Wonderful House Guest Ever. She made her own bed and took the sheets off on the final day, she washed dishes and vacuumed floors and made her own coffee when I didn't think to, she engaged children and even offered to take one of them home, she didn't leave anything in the bathroom sink and she didn't snore.

Not that we slept much.

Friday night I had a group of friends over ~ Sharon went out to visit with her own sister, but left us Brand Spanking New Only Just Arrived From Amazon The Day Before craft books to pore over......and she still managed to spend a couple of hours with us all as the other friends* didn't leave until their customary 12:01am......*these ones: Jenna who doesn't blog, Jess and Karen.

Saturday night we had even more crafty-type friends over. Fifty of them if you count the kids and partners. For Dinner. But my Father Bear went out! Well, do you blame him? He marched back in the door along with Midnight before All The Guests* had taken their leave.....*I'm not listing the blogs of all that lot!
On Sunday we dropped some kids off at church, picked up Karen and headed out. Sharon and Karen disappeared for the morning to a slightly-disappointing eco-tour. I took J12, K8 and L6 to make felt in a friend's garage.

This was a Massive Hit and there are now Big Plans to make a fullsized blanket! Thankfully the expert-felt-making-tutor who had never done it before, but had googled a lot was happy for me to sneak inside to the house and play with yet another friend's swift and wool winder.

Was it the wildly spinning swift or the bright roaring fire or the two-late-nights-in-a-row to blame? I wondered if I looked as cross-eyed as I was feeling to the girls sitting round the table with me - girls whose blogs I would link to if they wrote them, but they don't.

Dropping off Karen after lunch was.........well, it should have been deeply-something. I mean, it was the last time it would happen for a Very Long Time. She would be leaving town the very next day. Maybe the momentousness of the occasion was softened by the fact that she'll be back for a midnight craft night in three weeks!

We returned home to Chocolate Cake in the Late Afternoon.

The problem with this is that it always means dinner is late and the smallest kiddlies who didn't get chocolate cake end up scratchy. But hey, as I said, Sharon was an impeccable guest and her only comment was that her own son squeals much louder and longer and at a higher pitch. How polite can you get?

Fortunately when you get to that time of night anything is bearable, because you know it's now a matter of minutes and not hours until the angels will be tucked up in their beds! And so it was not long until we were sitting in the lounge with yet another bowl of chocolate cake (*bowls* this time, to contain the overly generous dollops of whipped cream).

We sat. We knit. The tv was on. We browsed through the craft books again. We knit some more. We hardly even talked. I realised it was a moment of "companionable silence" I had first read about in Trixie Belden (at the time I thought I'd plagiarise that phrase one day! The Day Has Happened!)

Monday we sat, knit and talked lots. It was The Last Day. So we made the most of it.

Sharon finished a wonderful baby cape, I finished a project I had started the night before from one of her new books (using wool I had wound into balls that afternoon). It will always remind me of Sharon, of the weekend, of the new friends....even when I'm wearing it in deepest Mongolia!

You see it's a little collar to keep your neck warm - just like a scarf but without being as big as a scarf - we're trying to keep our packs Not Too Heavy remember! This will be just perfect.

But back to the present...yesterday's airport trip was just to the domestic terminal.

And Sharon flew home.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

a personal challenge

Look what I'm doing!

I've joined up for the Sock a Month Knitalong.
Actually that's two socks you're meant to knit every month!

And I'm on target. I joined two days ago and have already finished the first one. But I can't finish the second for a couple of weeks - because it has to come off the needles during the month of August. The problem with this is that I'm all keen to get my next one done and actually finish a PAIR....for once, I'm not suffering from Second Sock Syndrome.

Generally speaking, I tend to start things with a whizz and a bang and loads of enthusiasm.....and precious little thought about whether I actually have the time or resources - and I have proven time and again that I don't have the staying power to see most things through to completion.....(everything seems like such a good idea when I hear about it)....but at least on *this* occasion I know I have the resources, socks take so little time and I'm sure I can do a five-month-challenge...it's not like I have to keep going for my my whole life!
Maybe I'll start my September pair now as well while the interest factor is sitting on HIGH...and perhaps even the October and November and Christmas ones too; then I'll really be ahead of the game! In fact, in my possession are three or four carefully-knitted-but-still-waiting-for-partners-socks, so I am halfway there already. I'm going to use this challenge to finally finish the sock-mates.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

i can do that!

I just read Mr No Impact Man's blog post for today.
Ah I love it when I find someone more extreme than I am. Makes me feel slightly more...well, normal. It's not that I actually *want* to be mainstream-and-mediocre, but sometimes it's tiring to be a circus act when you go out for a walk with a baby on your front, one holding each hand and still there are five more milling around you....and really those bigger five *should* be at school (but they're not, coz we don't do school). And when you consider one of them has failed again to find matching shoes or is incredibly grubby, at least one of them is likely to be practising his cricket bowling technique with an imaginary cricket ball, another is probably climbing each tree we pass or at least jumping out from behind them to scare everyone and the baby is squealing in delight at being outside or squealing in disgust at being outside, you realise you stand out even more (as if you didn't anyway).
However, this post is not about our Going Out Antics.
It's about Not Making Trash (or Rubbish as we call is Down Under).

As I read Mr Extreme's list, I patted myself on the back that I do many of those things...and even felt somewhat smug that I have an answer to his not eating Chinese, Italian or Indian dilemna....experienced that "oh yeah someone is more extreme than me" feeling for twenty seconds......and then started thinking "I could do that......and that....and that too"

The Rubbish Revolution is on!


Our table didn't start its life with us.
A newfound soul-sister (who also had seven children in nine years) moved away to America. Her table with the accompanying benches she had had made to go with it came to live at our house and be a constant reminder of a Very Special Friend. The dents at one end where her littlest would bang his cup have worn away - or at least amalgamated with our own bangings to create quite a smooth surface! The varnish has peeled away and we have sat around with more than one set of dinner guests scraping the top so it is now almost entirely bare timber.
Father Bear has grand plans about cutting the sides square and fixing in extensions - we talk about these plans every few months;-) In the meantime, the table is collecting history, collecting memories.

The table is for working at....
chopping parsnips

making pizza lunches (with friends)
making plans

fulfilling dreams (aka excavating, albeit on a smaller scale than dreamed of)

creating musical instruments

building gingerbread houses

creating masterpieces (with friends)

conducting experiments

The table is there when you're playing the goat
The table is there when you meet friends you've been writing to for years - friends who live in Romania

The table is there when you're celebrating with family

(and sometimes we even put a tablecloth on it!)
celebrating with friends
celebrating birthdays

and doing real Su-do-kus too!

The table is for eating at

and eating under (when it's made into a hut)

The table can even be made beautiful....
this photo is one which prompted a friend to tell me I really should start a blog!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

dreams are free

While I'm going all foodie on ya, let me tell you about my dream kitchen.
I've always said I'd like a cellar and everyone thinks I'm joking.
But I'm not - I'm dead serious. A real cellar would be so useful.
It would give me somewhere to store all those preserves and chutneys that I do actually make.
It would provide space for a potato box and an onion box (instead of the basket I trip over every time I walk into the laundry).
It would give me somewhere to hang my strands of plaited garlic and dried mushrooms
It would hold my fresh milk and cream and homemade butter - can someone tell me, does the butter churn live in the cellar?
It would certainly have room for bags of wheat berries and oat groats and other whole grains.
Ah yes, I'd love a cellar.

I'd like a nice big table with a long bench too. I like to be able to sit down when I'm peeling potatoes for a dozen people. None of this standing up at the bench business. And my kids like to gather round and help aswell...again, much more *communal* around a table than standing in a line at a bench. Maybe my table romance is coloured by our dining room table. It's not the fanciest table around, but it's wooden and it has a history. I'd say we've done as much cooking at that table as we have at the bench, and as I turn into a more-n-more natural girl, the fact that it is made from a tree and not formica really appeals. It smells nicer, it feels nicer, it's warmer and when you drop a knife on it the dent adds to its magic instead of making it look tired and tatty.

Now because most of my stores would be in the cellar, I wouldn't need such a big pantry. Just enough room for the bread box and other *basics*. My ceramic mixing bowls, wooden spoons and cast iron cookware would probably fit in there. And I'd like a wooden sideboard for the crockery and cutlery. I don't just want to go into Early Settler and buy the oldest-looking piece I can find. I'd be really happy to wait and have it made by Dadda and the kids who want to help.

And something to cook on. Yes, we'll need to cook.
I used to think I'd like an outdoor oven, but then I thought "why waste all that good heat when it could be attached to the house and warm us all up? and why build a special shelter over it for when it rains when it could just be part of the kitchen itself which would already have a roof"
So I think a wood-burning oven INSIDE would be essential. I love the fact that you fire it up, cook a few pizzas (enough for our whole family and friends all at one time), throw in a leg of something to roast with veges and a pot of stew and then when all that's done it's the right temperature to bake a few loaves of bread and some bikkies or a cake. All that without using electricity all day long. When The Great Power Crisis happens, I'd be all set! Imagine that - cooking half a week's food from two hours of burning wood.

I might not need electricity in my kitchen, but I'm yet to be convinced that running water from a tap isn't a good idea! However, I would make sure the greywater was funnelled out to the garden when it was finished with.

And in a corner, on a rag rug made by J12, would be a rocking chair. Beside it would be my knitting bag and sewing basket. I've recently moved a comfy-to-work-in-chair to the place-where-the-kids-play-most and it's been great to sit and work while they mill around.

One day...some of this dream just might happen.
I'm filing it away for After The Trip.
But I won't forget.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sourdough Regurgitated

This blog of mine......some weeks craft-blog, some weeks trying-to-engage-brain-blog, some weeks green-thumb-blog.....but I would never have thought it would ever turn into a foodie-blog.
And I guess by the usually-understood definition of "foodie" (y'know, tiny bits of nice food served on a big plate, all fancy-looking, with swirls of something to cover up some of the Big White Space of plate, which frames the Exotic Ingredients), by *that definition* this will never be a foodie blog.
BUT this is the third kitchen post in not too many days.
So maybe I'm on the way to becoming a foodie.
Or just fat.

Ah well, I thought I'd tell you about a kitchen mishap. But I'll start with a success first. I've worked out why my sourdough starter is bubbling within minutes of joining the flour and water. It's those organisms in the air. We have lots of them round here - because (wait for it) I Don't Dust. I did enough dusting when I was growing up to last my whole lifetime, so now about the only times the duster comes out are before my mother visits (wink). The kids....now that's another story...THEY dust...gotta keep the tradition going! But I don't make them go back seventeen times to move those specks that settle when your back is turned. Maybe that's why *I* have to do the dusting before Visits From Mother - because, quite frankly, the kiddos do a pretty shonky job of it! Anyway, at least I now have a reason to not dust...it's to keep my sourdough bread alive!

And that's what the mishap was all about. The bread, not the dusting.
I completed steps one, two and whatever...and put the bread in the tin without leaving it to rise in a greased bowl under a damp cloth. I totally forgot about that step. I was too busy wondering if it really would work if you didn't put it in a bread tin (as I had suggested the other day you might do if you didn't have a tin). So there I was carefully arranging one blob of bread on a flat tray and putting the "control loaf" in a tin. After they had been rising for a couple of hours I realised my mistake. To my sheer delight, though, they had actually risen heaps, and I decided that not only would I try the bread-on-a-tray-trick, but I would try the bread-only-gets-one-rising-trick as well. Now I know you should never change two variables in a scientific experiment, but really, this is my *kitchen*, not a science lab (though the things that grow in the back of the fridge sometimes look pretty chemistry-lab-ish)
A mere two hours had passed since the kneading had been completed and my loaves were sitting there looking ready to go in the oven. The oven, which, of course, was not up to temperature - primarilly because I had not as yet turned it on.
I have been accused of being and all-or-nothing-chick at times...and this was going to be one of those times. If I had already changed two variables in my experiment, what would it matter if I changed three? So I slid the trays into the oven and turned it on. Didn't even wait for it to come up to temp.

And. It. Worked.

The bread turned out great. Unfortunately I can't remember if I had to let it cook longer or not, but even if I did, it certainly wasn't 20 minutes longer, which is how long the oven takes to warm up, so I discovered a way to use less electricity.
How ecologically-correct of me!

Now can I tell you a funny story to finish?
I know an elderly gentleman who makes The Most Amazing Sourdough Bread. He gave me some of his starter once. And An Explanation. You have NEVER heard such an intricate explanation of how to make sourdough bread - no, not even if you read mine the other day. Man, that was tame in comparison. Not only did I get the full lecture, but he gave me pages of his notes. You see, he takes notes of every loaf he makes; how much the bug weighs before he begins, how much flour he adds, how much of everything he adds for that matter, how long he cooks it for and at which temperature. And he doesn't only keep these screeds of information somewhere safe, he puts the Really Important Bits of Data on a sticker on top of his Starter Jar AND he refers to them.
Well......here's the funny bit......this gentleman had to go to Australia for a month and he asked me to babysit his Starter. I think he doesn't actually *know* me as well as he thinks he did. Just because I haven't killed the starter he gave me two Christmases ago does not mean I am capable of maintaining his pet! (goodness me, our birds flew away and our fish died so we don't exactly have a great track record). And he obviously had never read this post or he wouldn't have even contemplated entrusting his Precious to my care.
But there you have it, Mrs MuddleBrainWhoDoesn'tEvenLikeTheKitchen is looking after
Mr Particular Gentleman's Starter (couldn't call that one gloop!)

Look at them sitting in the fridge - can you guess whose is whose?
Hint: my one has an ill-fitting lid, OK, so it's not even a lid, its a round plate on a square container....his has the aforementioned stickers with each successive loaf''s details written in a contrasting colour.

And THAT, my dear friends, is why I'm not dusting at the moment.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kitchen Makeover

We fell off the healthy eating wagon. It's not like we jumped....it wasn't intentional....as the truck slowed down we didn't notice the tailgate had dropped and we slowly slipped over the edge. We bounced along on the ground for a while, occasionally noticing the view was not quite the same, but I don't think we were really aware.

This morning I woke up to the fact that lots of little things have slipped, and lots of little things multiplied together become A Big Thing.

So I'm about to drag together all the little things from the dusty corners of the kitchen and the even dustier nooks and crannies in my head, and Make An Action Plan.

It all started over a year ago when the oat groats we got from our organic farm were full of husks. For a few weeks we tried all sorts of things - cooking with husks and trying to ignore them (impossible), cooking with husks and picking them out, picking out husks after flaking but before cooking, soaking and seeing if the husks would rise to the top of the water (they didn't), grinding the oats into flour (the grain mill got plugged....every time), dehusking the oats before flaking (now there's a job for monkeys).....and before we knew it, we started buying "shop oats"....just once or twice, to mix in with the husky oats.....then three or four times......then to eat just on their own...meaning we still have an almost-25-kg bag of oat groats sitting in its bin in the garage.
When you get out of the habit of flaking your oats, soaking them and cooking them up in the morning to make a nutritious porridge, you start thinking about other cereals (especially when you are actually stopping in the cereal aisle at the supermarket to buy oats!)...and so now we have a big batch of muesli sitting in the pantry. To be fair to ourselves, we did make it....but it doesn't change the fact that porridge is Better For You (and much easier on the wallet).
So I think if I sorted the Husky Oat problem, we would be well on the road to recovery.
That is, after we get rid of the white flour that somehow found its way into the cupboard. That came on the heels of wholemeal flour.....you see it's a slippery slope; you stop grinding your own flour (for a not entirely ignoble reason - the farm ran out of wheat) and resort to buying shop flour....when you pick up a bag of wholemeal, it doesn't seem quite so bad to then grab just one bag of white and before you know it the kids are saying "oh I like white bread"
So the shop flour needs to go - I've emailed the farm to see if they've got any more wheat in stock yet. And if not, I'll bite the bullet and buy it from our local organic shop who charges an arm and a leg (pity he won't take tummy rolls or fat from the hips instead!)
And with no white flour, the kids may lose their interest in making chocolate chip cookies and so the big bag of white sugar may last a bit longer...then it can be replaced by organic dehydrated cane juice instead and if said kids want to do any more baking they can choose something from Nourishing Traditions.
Perhaps I should remove the recipe books from the kitchen - except for my well-worn copy of NT, of course.

Now why is it that making lacto-fermented cabbage does not hold the same appeal as making chocolate brownie? If I could just work that one out, then I could convince the kids to take over making the pickles each week and we would be bouncing around with a renewed zing! In the meantime we can pile up our sourdough bread with the pickles in the fridge. In the recipe book it says they improve with age - I wonder if the author had twelve months in mind?

Thankfully, dinner hasn't been such a problem. We're very much in the habit of roasting a chook or a leg of lamb and then making soup from the bones the next night and stretching it with lots of garlic and chilli to do a third night...and it's been very soupy kind of weather recently. I'll go easy on myself and just continue the same ol same ol. One day I'll become an Interesting Chef (or not).

Taking the time to Stop and Think was all I needed to get back on track. No need for an action plan. I'll just go and tell the kids we're back to porridge with yoghurt or cream or butter-n-salt for breakfast, eggs and sourdough bread for lunch with as many lacto-fermented veges as they can eat, and if they want to bake, I choose the cookbook! I might even insist on the drop of cod-liver-oil and a half-cup of beet kvass before breakfast each morning. You're sure to hear their groans when I mention that one.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

simply stripes

Friends have just had a little boy.....but I didn't want to do a "little boy blue" present.

He's got a manly stripe blanket!

And it's got to be the ultimate in simple.


Fold a piece of polarfleece in half, wrong sides together.

Cut along the fold.

At one inch intervals around the edge snip the fabric two or three inches in towards the centre (3 inches on the not so stretchy sides and 2 inches at the stretchy ends)

Tie the two layers together. Don't tie too close to the end of the cut or it will pucker up and not lay flat.

I had visions of applique-ing a big r for Riley on it...or even a giraffe...but the cable pocket I'm knitting was calling!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

double trouble

Virtually once a week I get asked if these two are twins. For the record, they're not. They are, however, very often partners in crime;-)

But that's not the point of this post.

The point is:

I just made two sweatshirts in two hours. Go me!!!!
Special thanks to Sandi at Portabellopixie for giving me fantastic instructions on The Easy Way To Set A Sleeve In A Small Hole - it worked perfectly! I think I love sewing again!
OK so if you look very closely you'll see one of them isn't hemmed yet...but give me another five minutes....they were done *enough* to get the camera out....and once you've got the picture you might as well do the blog-thing. (Please to announce I finished the hem while the pictures were uploading...AND I put the camera away - wonders will never cease!)

I did a wee applique on the sleeve - just for fun.

And now a wee note to myself, something I don't ever want to forget.
M4 has been having "laughing parties".
He starts to laugh and he laughs and laughs and laughs.
It's actually infectious and others join in too!
Yesterday he laughed so hard he fell off his bike.