Monthly Archives: January 2014

Winter fun

We are having even more snow days recently, but ironically, Elizabeth City–where I grew up on the coast of NC–has gotten far more snow this year than we have in the mountains! As my daughters say, “Not Fair!” I feel that if the children are going to miss school for snow days, we should have some snow–and a lot of it!

This week we have very cold temps, and we actually got a little snow. Enough to go sledding–my favorite winter activity. Maybe it is because it is fun, easy, and we don’t have to drive anywhere to do it, but sledding is what I get most excited about doing in the winter. I have very fond memories of the fun William and I had sledding together when were dating.

Now our driveway becomes a perfect sled run–fast and long, but not too dangerous for the children. We also still sled at the Big House (William’s grandparent’s–now aunt and uncle’s–house), which is lots of fun because many children in the community show up there and the snow usually last a long time because it faces north. We are going there this morning!

We’ve done a little more skating, too.  And, we got out for a birthday hike yesterday in the snow–for William’s birthday. It was nice that he got to stay at home for the morning due to the snow. And, the views were wonderful.

This year I am enjoying the snow and cold weather more than I normally do. I hope the same for you!

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sledding

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Quilting

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Quilting was not a tradition passed on in our family. I have never quilted in my life. Wait . . . I take that back . . . I put a few crooked stitches in a quilt that was being made for William’s cousins when they got married. Maybe those few stitches gave me my first interest in the tradition of quilting. But, that was probably 15 years ago.   This year (2014) I have nearly finished my first quilt and have gotten serious about another one!

For years, I have saved scraps of fabric from clothes that I have made my children. I have also save some of their clothes, despite the stains or tears, because I loved them, or I loved the memories of my children in them. I had a hazy vision of using the scraps of fabric and cloth to make something for my children. But every attempt at piecing together right angles of fabric had been an acute failure (math pun intended).

This past Christmas, my mother gave me a rotary cutter and mat, making angles, straight sides, and correct measurements much easier. I decided to try to make a quilt for Evva (because my scraps were leaning to pink and blue and I think of those colors and Evva together). I have used scraps from clothes I’ve made for her, dresses she grew out of (and were stained–one had a monogram I cut out), and a few left overs from other projects. I used a very simple pattern–just squares sewed together–for this first knot quilt (from Stitched in Time by Alicia Paulson–book I found at the library).

This has been a fun project, and I have plans to make a quilt for Anne now, too.  Maybe the same piecing, but adding quilting stitches instead of knots.

The other quilt I have gotten serious about does not involve piecing, but does involve a lot of tradition. More about it on another day.

It is cold (for here)

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This small waterfall freezes so beautifully and impressively.  It is a short, but challenging hike to get to it.
This small waterfall freezes so beautifully and impressively. It is a short, but challenging hike to get to it.
In front of the waterfall.  Hythe took the picture, and though he insisted he was not cold, I could not believe he got this picture because his hands were shaking so badly when he took it.
In front of the waterfall. Hythe took the picture, and though he insisted he was not cold, I could not believe he got this picture because his hands were shaking so badly when he took it.

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He doesn't look cold at all!
He doesn’t look cold at all!
Beautiful overlook.
Beautiful overlook.

January has been a relatively cold month for us this year. We are not expected to get above freezing for 4 days this week (more pond hockey, hopefully). We have had 4 “snow” days this month–school canceled, basically, for cold weather (it did snow in the north and west parts of the county which are at higher elevation than we are). No snow is a little disappointing. Growing up, the few snows that we got were good for snowball fights and snow angels, but here in the mountains, sledding and hiking in the snow are so much fun! Will we get any this year?

We have been out hiking some–no school makes it easier to work hikes into the schedule–and getting out into the woods can be magical, especially with frozen falling water. I hiked with all the children to a small waterfall near our house one day this weekend when it was not so cold. Then William, the boys, and I hiked to another waterfall near our house that is tall and impressive, but does not have a lot of volume. The ice on these hikes was fun to find and explore.

On a side note, I cannot get Hythe to wear a coat (or hat) most of the time. I thought natural consequences might work (i.e. he gets cold, then will put on a coat). But, he might be shivering, teeth chattering, and he still refuses to put on a coat insisting he is not cold. I remember fighting with my mother about wearing a coat and being frustrated that she wanted me to wear one when, obviously (in my mind), I did not need one (was it too warm, was the coat itchy, did I not want to be burdened with it inside?). Who knows what goes on the minds of children? So, he doesn’t wear a coat (but I do carry it around wherever we go, just in case).

Those who came before

Today (MLKJ Day), I have been thinking about those who came before us and paved the way for the freedoms and rights that Americans, particularly African-Americans, have today. I have been thinking, in especially, about those who saw injustice and spoke out and worked against it–who changed this country for the better during the Civil Rights Movement. They made physical change happen (reduced violence against African Americans, integrated schools, buses, workplace, voting, etc.), but they also changed the soul of America for the better.

My (maternal) grandfather influenced my beliefs and values, especially regarding social and environmental issues. He was quite liberal  (for a white man in the rural South) and despite conventional wisdom, he got more liberal as he got older. He was on the county Board of Education when Brown v. Board went through (in 1954) and he immediately campaigned for integrated schools in the county. This was met with a lot of resistance–there was even a cross burned in his yard. But, he stuck with his ideals. He told me later that not only did he think the county Board should have obeyed the highest court in the country, but that it was “just the right thing to do”. However, the high school in our county did not fully integrate until 1970. I think because he could not make the change he wanted, and he was farming full time, he did not run for Board of Education again (maybe he also knew he would not get re-elected!), but he continued to speak out against unjust political policies.

So, here’s to those to came before, who spoke out in the cities of the South and endured violence, and who were heard on the national stage and changed the country . . . and to those in small towns across the country who made a stand and were not heard, but who still influenced, for the better, those who came after.

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My grandfather, Hythe ‘Pete’ Reid, at his farm (2000).

New Year’s Resolutions

Before we get too far into the new year, I thought I would share Evva’s New Year resolutions.  We thought they were inspiring and fun(ny), so William put them up in the kitchen.

New Year's resolutions

I love that she wants to climb trees more, “hope for snow”, and sleep in on weekends (could you get your siblings to do it too?). It is admirable that she wants to help people learn, clean her room when I ask her, and learn how to tell time.

She did not put this in these resolutions, but she told me a few weeks ago that she wanted to learn how to sew. I was pleased. I will love passing on this skill of creating to her, as well (Anne started learning to sew last winter).

It is a little challenging to find a project simple and satisfying enough for a child. I remember learning how to sew from my grandmother, an amazing seamstress I greatly admired. She wanted me to learn to hand sew first but I wanted to use the machine. Certainly, there is value in learning to hand sew, but a child does not have the practiced dexterity it takes to make small even stitches required to craft most things. I remember hand sewing a yellow dress for a Barbie. It was satisfying but difficult and not very pretty. When I asked to learn how to sew on the machine, my grandmother said I must be able to sew a straight line before I could sew any garments. To practice, I had to sew along the lines of many pages of notebook paper, which I did until I lost interest.  It was not until I was in college, where I really had an urge to create with my hands, that I began to sew again.  I was able to connect to my grandmother through sewing again and this time I really enjoyed it.  I am still an amateur sewist, but I enjoy it.

Anyway, I found a project for Evva from Handmade Home by Amanda Soule: sewing a hat made from an old sweater.  She wanted to make it for her cousin’s birthday present. I had a nice wool sweater that someone had shrunk in the washing machine, so it was felted (and far too small and stiff for me or the girls to wear). So, I helped Evva measure, mark, and cut the sweater. She cut out a flower shape from some felt scraps I had.  I sewed the flower on because it was more difficult with all the curves.   She sewed the tucks in the hat and the two pieces together on her own, on my machine that once belonged to my grandmother. She was very proud of her work, and I of her.  We both enjoyed it . . . and the love of creating continues.

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Down East

William and I had a long weekend on Roanoke Island last week. It is a long drive from here, but we had some business on Friday in the area, then went to the Outer Banks for the rest of the weekend. Winter at the beach is beautiful and peaceful–there is a stronger sense of the closeness of nature and of quiet and ease.  Just thought I’d share some images.

Boats in Wanchese
Boats in Wanchese
Flying a kite--we like to fly kites at the beach and were trying out  a new one.
Flying a kite–we like to fly kites at the beach and were trying out a new one.
Beautiful swells, huge waves.
Beautiful swells, huge waves.
Bodie Island light
Bodie Island light
Bodie Island light reflected in the salt marsh
Bodie Island light reflected in the salt marsh
Salt Marsh
Salt Marsh
Sunset over soundside
Sunset over soundside

Ice

This week, something happened which has not happened for three years. Temperatures were low enough, for long enough, that a local pond froze over. William’s uncle determined, as he does every time this happens, when the pond was safe to skate on, and we received a call by a cousin on Tuesday night that there would be hockey the next morning. When this happens, everyone drops everything they can (work, meetings, laundry, children) to go play. It is very exciting–a rush to dig out the skates and figure out which fit the children who want to skate, find warm clothes, cancel meetings, and generally get prepared for a morning on the ice.

Needless to say, coming from a small coastal Southern town, I did not grow up skating. The closest I got was when the puddles in the driveway froze over and my brother and I would slide across them in our rubber boots. When William and I were dating, I was initiated into the style of skating that occurs here. Show up at the frozen pond, get a pair of skates, a hockey stick (large stash of skates and sticks provided by William’s uncle) and get on the ice. It was a lot of fun–skating around with a fun group of people, playing a fast-paced game. It is not sophisticated–the rules and positions are flexible, the players honest and fair and easy-going, there is no Zamboni or fancy skating gear. You could call it redneck hockey! Goals are two pair of boots set apart on the ice, and breaks in play occur each time someone had to find the puck which was shot into the grass or brush on the side of the pond. The men play hard, and we are all sore, with ankles bruised from stiff skates after a few days. And that is usually as long as it lasts–a few days, then temperatures warm up and the ice is no longer.

This year, our oldest child skated for two and half hours with us, though she did not join the game. She passed the puck around on the sidelines and really enjoyed it. I was thrilled that she had such a good time. Our 4 year old son also enjoyed day 2 of skating. He got out on the ice and passed the puck a few times during the game. Kindly, everyone stops the intense play to let the young generation get some play time and feel included in the game.

Maybe it is because of my awkwardness on the ice, but I love to watch the men skate (and I mean the men/boys who grew up doing this–including my husband). It is like seeing them step into a new world where they can move like they always wish they could, and ought to be able to in a perfect world–with grace, speed, and agility. They even fall gracefully (most of the time). While it cannot be captured with pictures, their skating is really beautiful and one of my favorite things about pond hockey.

Pond Hockey

Anne into it this year

Pond Hockey

pond 2014

It’s still Christmas

I love Christmastime–I think it is my favorite time of year–with lots of baking and cooking, presents to make/buy/wrap, thinking of loved ones, visiting, decorating, staying warm by a fire, taking cold walks in the woods, delicious foods to eat, no school . . . the list goes on. It is very busy, but so fun, especially with children. This special time comes to a close, for us, at the end of the “twelve days of Christmas”, or January 5. Then, we will take down the decorations, lights, and tree, and Christmas will be over. So, we only have a few days left, and I want to remember the nice Christmas we have had this year.

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Following my grandmothers' legacy, I make a few different types of Christmas cookies each December.
Following my grandmothers’ legacy, I make a few different types of Christmas cookies each December.
I made pajamas for each of the children as a Solstice gift to open on the 21st.  I was surprised and pleased when they opened the gift and were so excited--they immediately put them on.  And, I took pictures.
I made pajamas for each of the children as a Solstice gift to open on the 21st. I was surprised and pleased when they opened the gift and were so excited–they immediately put them on. And, I took pictures.
William and I put together a picture album with pictures from the year on Shutterly.  It is a gift we all love to look at for years.
William and I put together a picture album with pictures from the year on Shutterly. It is a gift we all love to look at for years.

baby's toy

love and hugs on Chirstmas morn

She got a Kindle Fire for Christmas (and paid for half of it herself).  Very excited.
She got a Kindle Fire for Christmas (and paid for half of it herself). Very excited.

opening a gift

The big family supper was really big this year--52 people.  This group that I sat with was in the music room.  It was so much fun!
The big family supper was really big this year–52 people. This group that I sat with was in the music room. It was so much fun!