While we, especially the children, get out in the snow (and ice) to sled, hike, romp, and play, the very cold days have also had us inside quite a bit. We limit screen time as much as possible, though the girls are slightly obsessed with Harry Potter right now and short sections of movies tend to get played once or twice a day on snow days. So, what to do? Generally, the kids have good ideas about what they want to do – there is lots of art and crafty projects. The girls read, I read to the boys. I cook and have helpers. I made some awesome mini fried apple pies (with my canned apple pie filling and basic biscuit dough). They are a treat!
We all do some writing – letters to friends or family, stories, book reports. We have lots of art, sewing, and craft supplies on hand most of the time. Evva drew pictures all over a sheet of paper to send to a cousin last week. Anne made “monsters” out of colored puff balls, glue, and glitter. Hythe enjoys drawing and coloring and having “work” to do with his art. Steven loves uncapping a marker, scribbling a bit (on paper, the floor, his arm), re-capping it, and going on to the next one. Hythe also loves needle work. A wonderful aunty gave him a set of constellation sewing cards which he loved, and now he is also asking to sew on fabric. He concentrates and does a great job. My next idea is to get him to do a simple drawing on the fabric and see if he can embroider it. He may be too young.
We had some friends over on the weekend – somewhat to celebrate the thaw out and socialize (it can get isolating to be snowed-in in the country). Music was made, and Hythe tried to join in with every instrument he had any knowledge of – violin, harmonica, guitar. Finally, one of the guests put his banjo in Hythe’s lap and gave him a pick. Hythe loved it! He had a pretty good rhythm and enjoyed playing so much. He is now clamoring for banjo lessons and his own banjo – “I’m really good, Mom.”
We woke up to a real snow day today – not icy/sleet days like last week. We spent the morning sledding and are back home for some play, crafting, and Harry Potter movie watching. Off to a kids yoga class soon, too, as the roads are not bad and the temps are well above those of last week.
The cold and ice of last week brought with it a growing dissatisfaction with winter and and growing longing for spring (at least for me). I watched my sweet little snowdrops and the first lenten rose blooms keel over and touch the ground with their sweet blooms as the temperatures dropped last week. I expected, and hoped, they would perk back up, but they haven’t yet. The lenten roses look even more bedraggled and browned than before.
We did have enough ice on the local pond to skate and play hockey on Saturday. I was so tired of the cold that I did not even want to get out, but I finally did and was glad I did. It felt good to glide over the ice and was lots of fun to play and watch the game.
On our good thaw-out day, Sunday, I made it up to the Big House (the beautiful, old, rambling house of William’s great and grand parents and now of his aunt and uncle). William’s great grandmother, Elizabeth, planted scores of snowdrops and English crocuses in what is called the rock garden in the late 19-teens. There, I found the snowdrops just opening, unhurt by the recent weather – hardy, beautiful, standing in the remaining snow. I took hope, as I always do, that spring is coming. It also reminded me of one of Cicely Mary Barker flower fairy poems – the Song of the Snowdrop Fairy:
Deep sleeps the Winter,
Cold, wet, and gray;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!
Predictions of snow – the first this year – were coming in Monday morning. 100% chance of 2 to 4 inches. That would probably be enough to go sledding on, play in, build a small snowman. We were starting to look forward to it. About 11 a.m., large snowflakes started falling beautifully from the sky. School let out early. Then, the snow turned into a kind-of sleet. Small icy pellets drilling down until there was an inch on the ground. It lasted all day and all night. Well, actually not all night, because we woke up to find that icy rain had also fallen in the night, covering everything (even the icy sleet pellets) with 0.2 inch of ice. Most. Dissappointing. Snow. Ever.
But, the kids had a great time sledding on the ice covered hills around the house. It was fast, hard ride, and there were a few broken sleds when a child bounced too hard over an icy bump. And, there were a few raspberries where exposed skin got pulled over gravely ice – my hip during a sledding wipe out, Hythe’s knee and ankle (the boy won’t wear socks and had holes in his jeans), Anne’s face.
The roads were slick sheets of ice, the driveway more like a luge. It was even hard to walk in the yard (on the grass)! Needless to say, school has been cancelled ever since, with a valiant attempt yesterday with a 3 hour delay but a 1.5 hour early release when it started to snow again.
And, it did snow again, putting a dusting of snow over all that ice. And, the temperatures have dropped so that the high today is 10 degrees. It is cold!
I am ready for spring.
But, William keeps telling me we need to have winter. That winter is important. I’m not convinced. He does seem to relish the coldness, snow, ice, and similar uncomfortable winter elements. I, on the other hand, tolerate winter. I love the time up till Christmas and New Year and then I am ready for spring. I actually don’t mind snow – it is fun to sled in and play in – or ice when there is pond hockey. But, the continued bitter cold with no snow, can’t-get-outside-because-it-is-so-cold, bundling of reluctant children, is just not fun. I do see the beauty in winter. Even in those cold, gray days I see the breathtaking starkness of the mountains. The raw beauty of naked trees. The silvery sheen of ice on branches. My children playing outside in the frosty world.
I also loved the Valentine I saw Anne had made for herself propped up on the art table.
We moved our soap making business to a tiny stone cottage in November. The move was good for our growing cottage (literally) industry. We needed the space, we needed to take the next step for the business if it was going to grow. This cottage is a perfect size with plenty of room for storing our supplies, great views and light for working, and is really cute. There a couple of downsides so far, though. First, and most important at the moment, there is no heat. But, there is a wood stove. So, we have to fire it up a lot. It is a balmy 43 degrees in there on most days lately without the fire. When we make soap, we need to keep that fire roaring to get the cottage up to about 65. We want to be comfortable when working, but this is also important for the soap making process. The soap gels and sets up much better when we have the temps up to at least 60. We also don’t want the water pipes to freeze.
For the next few days, we will be checking in with the fire and temps in the soap cottage and hauling wood over there while this winter storm passes over and a very cold front descends. Hopefully. it will stay a little cozy.
One of the exciting products I have been working on lately with the soap business, is a shampoo bar. I made a shampoo bar last year just for myself after I decided I did not want to use conventional shampoos that had so many unpronounceable ingredients (even the “organic” ones). I have fine hair and I use great all-natural soap on my body. Why not on my scalp and hair. So, I did a little research. I made the shampoo bar with some heavy, very moisturizing oils, and have always used a vinegar rinse after shampooing, which leaves my hair soft and without buildup. I have used this shampoo (and rinse) for the last year and love it. We will be slowly rolling out the shampoo bars in the next few weeks.
Anybody used any alternatives to “traditional” shampoo?
This past week flew by (or crept by as the situation went). I did actually finish the Kids Clothes Week on day 6 with a cute pom-pom cowl for Anne. Green being her favorite color and loving trim, she adored this cowl and has worn it everyday since. Then, I came down with a nasty cold and tonsillitis (and no day 7 of KCW), and William left the same day to be out of town for three days. I couldn’t stay in bed and nurse the illness since all the children had to be fed, clothed, and transported to school, etc. Not to mention, I had to work. But, I did high myself to bed as soon as they were tucked in and the dishes done. No other house work, crafting, or writing took place. I was finally starting to feel better when I had to leave for a work conference for two days. I got back to enjoy one warmish day, to admire the small lenten roses starting to bloom and the snow drops growing larger everyday. Then this afternoon turned chilly, wind picked up, clouds blew in, and the forecast looks dire for spring. I will have to look for the beauty of winter (maybe some snow!?) a little while longer. And, Valentine’s Day! Whew! It can be very full with 3 children who not only have classes full of other children to give Valentine’s to, but who also come home with bags full of Valentine’s from their classmates. Only one child came home with lots of junky candy to send him on sugar highs and lows for a full day (thank goodness the girls’ school asked for no-candy V-day treats!) – and a sweet Valentine from his teacher.
All this to say, I feel a week behind. With the soap business, with my sewing projects (for me, now – a skirt and a pair of jeans!), and definitely with housekeeping. So, I’ll take a deep breath, fold the laundry, ignore the mess in the living room, vacuum, ignore the train tracks scattered across the boys room – spend the evening sewing, go to work tomorrow afternoon (still ignoring messes). Eventually it will get done, or picked up, I’ll find a chance to sit and sew, and there will be another mess to clean up. It is a cycle for now, one that I do have to try and stay on top of – to balance, but that is never perfect. But, since we don’t do perfection in this house, I’m ok with it!
I headed east to be present for a conference that takes place tomorrow. I stopped by the HR department of my employer on the way through to pick up a 10 year “service award”. It was a small pin and a notepad cover. Though the “award” was paltry, I looked at the pin and and thought how proud my grandfather would be that I was receiving an award for working for his alma mater for a decade.
After leaving the administration building, I thought I would go for a walk around campus on that beautiful afternoon – stretch my legs before the last short leg of my trip. I thought about my time in school there and the fun and stressful moments. I started to walk towards my old office building, but was repelled by the memory of anxiety over work, papers, and classes that never ended. So, I went a different direction and was impressed with the number of young people on campus, the feeling of potential energy and accomplishment and work.
My image of college is one of a place for progress and learning, for friendships and freedom. And, I am saddened by the events that happened yesterday at my other college town – so incongruous.
On day 4, I made up a skirt for Evva from a simple little pattern from Maja’s Heirlooms (a company that may not exist anymore). I found the pattern at a thrift store and think it was donated there by a wonderful local, independent fabric store that closed down last year. I also made a skirt from this pattern for Anne a few months ago for her school uniform.
The wonderful fabric came from a dress that I had put in the quilt-making pile, but I pulled it out because the fabric is so wonderful and there was enough there to make something else wearable. The dress was made by a local seamstress, but I did not like the construction. It looked like a coat, but was not lined. It was a cold dress to wear in winter and the buttons popped open all the time. I could have sewed all the button holes shut, but one of the buttons popped off and was lost – and since it was an impractical dress, I thought I might make it over. I decided on the skirt because it is a quick sew, looks great, and I knew there would be enough fabric.
It came together very quickly. When I made the skirt for Anne, I put in an invisible zipper (per instructions), but she never needed it because the little bit of elastic in the waist made it easy to slip on and off. So I did not put in a zipper, nor did I have to hem it. It looks great and Evva loves it.
On day 5, I took a pair of Anne’s leggings with a hole in the knee, cut them off and made a cuff, so they are like yoga or running pants. She loved them and wore them all day today. I also started making a cowl for Anne, but I was too tired to sew today. The beautiful weather here (and my coming down with a cold) found me sitting in the sunshine, resting during my free time today. I hope to finish tomorrow and will post about it (only missing one day of KCW this time).