making life

attempts at homemade

the summer that is

Let’s not talk about all the plans I had for this summer.  Let’s not mention the weekly beach trips that haven’t happened, the perennial beds that haven’t been mulched, all those fun programs at the library that we haven’t attended.  And let’s just ignore those hopes and plans I still have for the remaining summer season, which may or may not play out as I want.
Let’s just focus on this: the summer that is.


These girls.  I can hardly contain my love for these growing-up girls.  I can’t give them the attention they deserve right now (their brother demands more than his fair share).  But I hope they know that they are loved beyond measure.


We almost had a handful of raspberries this year (here’s the photographic evidence), but something else ate them before we got a chance.DSC_0082DSC_0086

It’s been a rainy summer, and for a while we had a big pile of dirt just hanging out in our yard, waiting to fill the raised beds and be made into a garden.  In the interim it was a wonderful, dirty, muddy place for all the neighborhood kids to play. Mud has played a big part in this summer.DSC_0101DSC_0129

This girl.  She’s a bookworm.

Look at all that hair!  Will has been losing his hair; he temporarily sported a faux hawk but now is mostly bald.  Bea loves to snuggle him.


I’ve been having some mental anguish about all the stuff that’s not getting done.  It has been an exercise in letting go, in admitting that I can’t control everything: each time I walk through the gardens while holding the baby, staring at all those weeds that I can’t pull or the eggplant I’ll have to come out and pick later because I can’t reach it now, or seeing how badly the floors need sweeping when I’m holding a sleeping baby and feeling so powerless to do anything (because as soon as I set that baby down he will wake up and I won’t be able to sweep the floor anyway).


Then in scrolling through the archives of this blog looking for baby pictures of the girls, I came across this post and remembered: Oh yeah, I’ve been through this before.  It’ll change soon enough.DSC_0138

And I’m often reminded of a conversation I had with our elderly neighbor at the last home we lived in.  She had a flower garden that, while still boasting a magnificent array of blooms, was also fairly choked with weeds.  And she told me how frustrated she felt that she was no longer able to do the work that garden required; she was dependent on someone else who didn’t do the job quite as well as she would have liked.  At that time Bea was an infant, and I remember thinking that I knew just how she felt, to be dependent on others when you can’t do the jobs you want to do — but in my case it wasn’t that I was physically incapable of doing the work, just that my time was taken up by this tiny person who depended on me for everything.

We will have tomatoes!!


In the early days of summer, the girls spent a lot of time preparing “salads” from the garden — lettuce, spinach, mint, dill, and other herbs, carefully arranged on a frisbee plate or bicycle helmet bowl.
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Hula hooping.  It’s Adeline’s thing.  We even made our own (though they were possibly the most expensive hula hoops in existence, the supplies having come from our friendly local [read: no competitors in town to keep prices down] hardware store).DSC_0096DSC_0192DSC_0177Yup.  Harry Potter.


DSC_0217We’re using the square foot gardening method this year for everything but tomatoes.


We finally found a piano!  Not just a piano, but also a piano bench filled with vintage lesson books, just the right level for Adeline.  She’s been over the moon about it.DSC_0110DSC_0183DSC_0185DSC_0239

We’ve got a lot of space in our backyard, but it wasn’t a happy place.  Not a place we liked to spend time in.  We’re slowly transforming it, with a patio expansion, a clothesline, a lattice fence for the hops to grow on (and perhaps some clematis as well).  It’s working: we spend more time out there already.


Bea’s day











Sweet Bea turned 4 this week.  I wanted to make her favorite meal for supper, but thinking about it I realized that I don’t even know what her favorite meal might be.  She doesn’t ever want anything except dessert.  She hardly ever eats at mealtimes.  The only meal she ever requests is macaroni and cheese.  So that’s what we made for her.  But she was so preoccupied by the prospect of cake that she only ate a few bites of it.

Bea is the epitome of middle child.  I think she was even before she actually became the middle child.  She is amazing in so many ways and I love her to bits, but she can also be contrary and defiant and often we focus on trying to correct these things rather than praising the good in her.  Every morning I wake up and think, today I am going to be patient with her, today I will only show her love, today I will shower her with a little extra attention.  And I always fail.  I’m not sure why I thought it would be any different on her birthday.  I wanted to make this day really special and all about her.  Of course, then in her characteristic Bea way she made carrying out that plan very difficult.  She kept walking around declaring, “It’s my birthday, I can do whatever I want!” and proceeding to quite literally do whatever she wanted — to the frustration of her parents.  This was compounded by a needy baby who apparently didn’t know that he was supposed to let his sister have some of mom and dad’s attention on her special day.

But she did enjoy her presents — particularly the make-up kit she got from her grandma and a My Little Pony comic book.  And Jake made his signature mint chocolate cake.  We had a little party with the neighbors, and I know she enjoyed playing pin the tail on the pony with her friends.  (It was such a hot and humid evening, when I got out my camera to take a picture of her blowing out candles the lens fogged up and I only got one hazy picture.)  I think (I hope) in her mind it was a really great day, and that she didn’t sense my own sense of failure.  She’s one amazingly awesome girl, and I’m proud to be her mama.

Will in wool

Here is Will at two weeks old in his oh-so-tiny pants.  At nearly 5 weeks, he’s already so much bigger than in these photos.DSC_0008 DSC_0009 DSC_0011 DSC_0013 DSC_0014

And this is the vest I knit for Bea — she wore it when she was four months old.  Then I lent it to my sister for her babes, and it came back as a newborn vest — thought I sent along washing instructions but you know, sometimes things get tossed in the dryer accidentally.  It’s still darn cute. DSC_0016 DSC_0017 DSC_0019Bea adores dressing up her new doll brother.

Easter weekend

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meet Will

photo 1photo 2DSC_0001 DSC_0006William Miller joined us on April 14, weighing 8 lbs 3 oz.  He is adored by all.

photo 3


green! but only inside


We’ve been experiencing a typical spring — days of sunshine and mud and hope alternating with days of cold and snow boredom.  We’ve spotted a few slips of green outdoors — most notably our chives and some dandelions sprouting.  But we also decided to bring some green indoors.  We are conducting a twig study, with lilac, plum, and basswood branches clipped from our yard.  And we made a terrarium.  Just enough green and growing to get us through to the warmer side of spring.
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playing and learning, part 2

How we kept busy indoors this winter:DSC_0104


DSC_0112Adeline got really into making her own comics (templates here and here).  She’s still using the techniques she learned from Ed Emberley’s thumbprint books.


DSC_0117This accordion turned out to be a very worthwhile Christmas gift.


DSC_0130Sometimes an impromptu photo shoot is a good way to pass the time.


DSC_0136Ed Emberley again — this time we were inspired by The Wing on a Flea to make pictures out of simple shapes (we printed some from here to cut out.)




I am in love with Mr. Printables.  We’ve spent many hours printing, cutting, gluing, and playing with the wonderful creations there (including the dolls above and the calendar below).  Cutting out and pasting all the elements onto her own calendar really helped Adeline understand how calendars are organized — but it was quite a lot of work, and February might be the only one we make this year!

Made by Joel is another site for great printables and inspiration.

We’ve been studying a bit of Shakespeare with the help of this great book, watching this animated version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Adventures in Learning blog has some really fun ideas.

We “joined” the Dinosaur Train Nature Trackers club.

We’re loving the Willowbee Tree stories from Sparkle Stories.

playing and learning, part 1

Spring is nearly here and I feel as though we’ve been sprung from a cage.  But in many ways our time indoors this winter has been full and pleasant, so I’d like to take a minute to record what we’ve been doing.  I’m sure by next winter I’ll have forgotten most of these ideas and the links to them if I don’t write them down now, and perhaps you might find a little inspiration, too.


DSC_0042Adeline and I have been slowly working through Drawing with Children (an amazing book I learned of here), and during our last lesson Bea was more eager to join in than before.  We collaborated on the above drawings (I drew the palm tree and the baby birds) and I must say it was wonderful to work with a child who is not as much of a . . . perfectionist as my other child is.
DSC_0045We’ve been studying Mary Cassatt and we made these parent and child drawings (Adeline’s is on the left, Bea’s are the two on the right).



DSC_0070We read a really sweet book about a girl who makes a butternut squash into her doll, at which point Beatrice decided to adopt the squash that had spent most of the winter on our kitchen counter as her own “Bernice.”  She’s been with us for many weeks now, only slightly more soft and dented than she started out.

I was inspired by this post to get the girls involved in planning for this summer’s garden, and I was very surprised by their enthusiasm for the project.  We spent well over an hour one night poring through seed catalogs and drawing up plans, only stopping reluctantly for bedtime.

{this moment}

Joining Amanda for: {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.

now I’m knitting


I haven’t unpacked my sewing machine since we moved — and did I mention we’re approaching one year in this house?!  For several reasons, it has been easier of late to pick up the knitting needles rather than try to tackle the half-unpacked boxes in my sewing space.  So.  Here are a couple finished projects: first, an Irish hiking scarf for Adeline made with Brown Sheep Serendipity Tweed.  I’ve used this yarn for several projects, as it always seems to be on sale at our local yarn shop.  And I finally realized during this project that I just don’t love it.  It is a cotton/wool blend and I don’t like the way it drapes.  And knitting with yarn you don’t love is just laborious.  So I’ve given myself permission not to use this (or any) yarn I don’t love in the future — and I’ll be more careful when picking out yarn from the bargain room.


Next up: tiny pants in KnitCol for the yet-to-be-born one.  These were so fun and quick to make!  I promise you that the legs aren’t really lopsided, it’s just the angle of the photo.  I’ll get a better picture when he is wearing them.

I figured since the needles were flying I would try to squeeze in a few more projects before spring (and baby and garden) brings my knitting season to an end.  I may have been overly ambitious in my planning.

DSC_0017 Some of them may languish half-finished over the summer, but for now I’m enjoying working on a boneyard shawl, a puerperium cardigan, and a little something for Bea.


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