Thursday, February 28, 2008

Eye Candy.

It is snowing heavily outside tonight. Beautiful, wispy, fine flakes.

And while I gaze at the white floating down, and love how the amber streetlights light up the snow, I do dream of spring. Green. Not just any green. That riot of green that comes in Wisconsin as the landscape explodes with life.

I like having 4 seasons. Seeing the world fade into winter, the starkness and survival in the harsh cold and snow, the bursting of life each spring, and the rain and relentless sun all summer as things grow and thrive from our soil.

It is not long before I start my seedlings. I love going down the steps into the basement, seeing the bright lights over my tiny vegetables and herbs, watering them, smelling the soil, thinning out, checking everything, rubbing the leaves gently to release the smell of the tiny basil, dill or lemon balm. The boys love to help and are excited each day by the progress they can see.

Until then, a little eye candy to go with my shoveling.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Weaving Towards Spring.

Another sunny cold day - and a BLUE sky! A few bright days in a row and we seem to have more energy and focus and are getting back into our rhythm of things. Every year as March grows nearer I feel that optimism creep in, and even though I know that the cold and snow are far from over, that sense of spring coming sparks energy and promise.

Today A tried out a new project he picked out. He learned how to weave with a hand loom. It was fun. I threaded the base, but then he did the over/under/over/under of the needle and pulled, tightened and lined up the yarn for each round. He was very focused and interested in it. Of course he wanted to finish it quickly (he wants to make a case for his pencils), but some things take more time.

The sunshine in the front windows was calling, so he found a place to stop and says he will return to do more again tomorrow!

If you are interested in reading more about weaving with kids, this is a great book: Kids Weaving: Projects for Kids of All Ages by Sarah Swett.

Give it a spin.

I have a new header which is a photo of G pointing out Wisconsin on our globe. The globe is a source of much fun in this house - both boys love spinning and finding places.

They like to find places they have visited and states where family members live. Locating places they hope to visit is also fun. For A, this includes attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium or islands he is interested in lately such as Tahiti, the Faroe Islands, or Fiji. We spin, chat, and look at mountains, oceans, rivers, and coastline. All so interesting!

And of course they both love finding one other spot - Home!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Carnivorous Plants.

I have been posting lightly so far this week, because I have been in the thick of it with too much work and too little sleep. I enjoy working at night after the boys go to bed, but 7 nights a week until the wee hours has been wearing me down a bit!

So, what is a mama to do? My two sweet little guys are still as energetic as ever during the day and are a bit done with winter. Today we went out to lunch and then went to absorb some humidity and warmth at our local arboretum. We haven't been in a few months, and the boys enjoyed going again - it is nice to go for a walk in such lush surroundings.

A loves facts, and always surprises me with how much he remembers. He identified many plants - and was worked up that they had TWO (yes TWO!) corpse flower plants there...although without buds. I reassured him that without buds, there is no stink, so we were safe in the building! His favorite spot, though, is the carnivorous plant area. We often check out books about them, and he loves reading about how they trap insects, about where they grow, and how they digest things.

Today he stood at the pitcher plants for a long time, discussing the types of pitcher plants they have there, and how limited their collection is (why don't they have xxxx, or xxxx, or xxxx?). So interested. We plan to grow some of our own as a project when it gets warmer - and so we read and re-read the plaques of information. It is fun as he gets older, because he wants to read everything - names of plants, birds, which insects are beneficial and which are not, where the plants come from, and how they care for them there.

All through this, G was marching in his boots as fast as he could...always away from whatever we were looking at. A kept desperately calling to him to slow down so we could read all the signs!!! But alas, there were too many millipedes on the floor near the carnivorous plants, which he, so he marched and marched.

After I convinced him that standing on a bench would keep him far from the crawlies, he was more comfortable, and was able to hang out and sing for a little bit while we finished reading about the pitcher plants.

With the sun out today there were areas in the arboretum which were scorching hot and so humid my camera kept fogging up. We loved those spots - enjoying the heat, breathing deeply, basking in the light.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Photos...

Weekend snapshots.

Fresh sourdough bread.

The ice holes are so bad in our neighborhood it is like a roller coaster ride just driving home!

Small town Wisconsin (could this be where Mr. Depp will be filming?).

We love marbles!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Photos of the Day - Snail!

A rolled a bit of beeswax into a snail shape and inserted it into a treasured shell.

We have a few books about snails coming in soon - he is excited!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter Playground.

Today it was sunny and in the 20's...which is perfect weather to get out and play in! The shoveling and plowing from this crazy winter has left mountainous piles of snow in front of our house. Perfect for something...but what?

The boys decided they wanted to make a snow slide, so we carved out stairs leading up, a path across the top, and a slide chute coming down.

Lots of fun in the sun!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What will it be today?

Every week or so I clean out the "shop" space and we start with a clean slate. What shall it be? A book store? Lemonade stand? Toy shop? Bakery? Cafe? Animal rehab facility? Today it was a library.

We cut out rectangles and make library cards with our names and a bar code. We have a cash register that one of them got as a gift who knows when, and it has a "scanner" hand. Our library has a self checkout area, so we check out our own books when we visit - so they know a scanner and bar code are needed!

They carefully organized books on the shelves - sure to get books that they both like, and which fit well on the small shelves. They take turns as librarian (who wants self checkout when playing together?). They politely ask for a specific book for for their books which are on hold. The librarian says "May I have your library card, sir?" and starts scanning.

They are so cute - asking for late fees (!), recommending books, and reading bar code numbers to each other. "Thank you sir, have a nice day!"

Of course after visiting the library we need to visit the cafe, where we can sit and read and sip our warm green machines. This cafe has an excellent story time.

I love watching them play together - when they get into a groove, are interested in the same thing at the same time, and are obviously enjoying each others company. I watch them and see their love for each other and I envision them in 10, 20, 30 years, brothers AND friends. These relationships we are building as a family are the most important of their lives. I'm so happy that they do spend time together and are not separated or divided by age in their daily lives and are on equal ground with each other. They love each other - and it doesn't get much better than that!

Lunar Eclipse.

We have a very puny telescope, but with a moon so big and bright on a clear night, we had a great view. We could see light and shadow, mountains and craters.

The boys love looking through the telescope to see the moon, and A was so excited about the lunar eclipse.

Both boys did fall asleep after a bit, and somehow, just as it was time for the last of the blackness to creep across the shining sliver remaining, A woke up and came in to watch.

I stayed inside to photograph the moon, since it is -5ºF right now. Well, actually I did try to step out at the very end, but the door was frozen shut, so I figured that was a sign. To stay inside. Warm. I kind of like my reflected view of the moon though - achieved by taking photos through double pane glass.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Today G kept talking about plushies and animals. I am not sure what gave him the idea, but he wanted me to make him something! A bunny.

He helped me dig through all of the fabric remnants (that is, after all, where all the fuzzy stuff is) and picked out some bunny body colors with me. He said the bunny had to have a carrot, so we found some orange and green as well. I sketched a bunny on paper and then cut out the fabric pieces and sewed everything together. G must always participate in the stuffing of anything, so he filled the bunny until it was just right.

I don't think it turned out too bad for a first try. G loves it and snuggled his bunny all afternoon.

A wants one now too, of course, so we picked out some fabrics to make one for him tomorrow. I'm going to tweak the second one a bit - nothing like repetition to get it right!

Got My Finger On the Button.

Most days the boys are happy a good part of the day with only the normal brotherly squabbles. Some days one, the other, or both are just more emotional. I think it must be tough to be a little person. So many feelings and not so much experience with them yet. It seems as they grow they go through periods when they are more sensitive and emotional. For A, during those times if a beautiful piece of music comes on it reduces him to tears (sweet boy). Those days are more of a roller coaster ride.


Not so happy (yes, it was from a song!).

All I can do is give extra hugs and snuggles and be SURE only spunky upbeat music will be heard. No alt rock ballads, no movie soundtracks and DEFINITELY no classical music. Oh, and no spunky songs with haunting melodies. Maybe just three favorite upbeat songs played over and over. Well, that might be too much, how about that one song. Just hit repeat.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blue & Ice.

Another Sunday at home. More crazy weather - such an unusual winter.

Luckily we knew this was coming, so we re-arranged our plans to visit the Model Railroad Show and get out for some errands on Saturday. We just happened to pass by one particular quilting shop while we were out - so I picked up a few things for some projects I have been wanting to start.

The bold blue in the swirl batik seems even more intense in this world of white. A welcome blast of spring color.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Train Show! A loves trains and really enjoys learning about train facts and history - so this annual event is very anticipated and exciting for him. As we arrived at the expo center he burst out "My stomach just feels all ticklish and wiggly inside!"

They both had a great time. Well, except for when A seemed to have a problem sitting in front on a moving bench rail without handles. I'd post that photo, but he might not be thrilled with me!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One More - Hearts.

Last one, I promise! My last craft for the boys is felt bean bags. Well, I used rice since that is what I had available, but same idea!

I used two colors of felt, and cut into 4 1/2 x 6 inch pieces. I cut out small hearts from a piece of the color I used on the back, and embroidered it onto the center of the front piece.

I sewed around the edges using a zig-zag stitch (so rice won't easily come out), leaving a hole open on one side to fill. I filled mine with rice which was scented with a few drops of sweet orange essential oil...but you can make it unscented or using beans instead.

After stuffing with the rice, I stitched the hole closed on the machine, and then using pinking shears, trimmed around the edges.

Voila! The bags are fun for tossing games (get a few different sized boxes or bowls to toss into), playing catch in the house, or as doll pillows!

Cozy Hearts.

I have been sewing a few little Valentine's Day things for the boys as I have time this week. They always love little pillows that they can easily fit into a fort or tent, so I made a few using some "I Love You" fabric and red felt that I had in my fabric stash.

They are super easy to make - just cut out whatever size and shape of heart you want (front/back), sew around edge with right sides in - leaving a few inches open to reverse and stuff. Then just hand stitch the last bit closed! I used one full felt sheet per heart for my cutouts, so they are small enough to cuddle but big enough to lay on!