What I’m Into: March 2015

crocheting

We’ve been in the hospital four months now. In some ways it feels like a lifetime, in others it feels like a flash. I will never measure time in the same way again.

As you know, some parts were so awful I wanted to die; others were okay and a few were quite pleasant. Like the day we took a nature walk with Lydia and the sun was shining and she learned about cattails and thistles.

And here are a few things I’ve enjoyed.

Books

Veronica Mars and Anne of Green Gables

Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. This second novel sequel to the TV show and movie was another fun read. A real treat for any VMars fan. I didn’t like quite it as much as the first one (which was perfect), but it was still a good time. The dialogue is its greatest strength — Mac, Wallace, Keith, and Cliff are as clever and lovable as ever.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. In a complete change of pace, genre-wise, I finally got around to reading this delightful classic. Please forgive me, but thanks to the TV series from the 90’s I always kind of assumed it would be boring. I was surprised how lively and charming it was. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I want more Gilbert Blythe.

Movies

We re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD which I still adore. (Hilarious! Exciting! Quirky!)

And we also re-watched Ever After on Netflix since everyone else is Instagramming pictures of themselves going to see Cinderella with their little girls and it was making me crave something romantic. Such a great movie.

We also saw The Birder’s Guide to Everything, which is funny, sweet, winsome, and sad. I recommend.

We finally saw Mockingjay: Part 1.  An utterly fabulous half-a-movie. Dark, haunting, and sublimely acted. The only thing I didn’t like was that they chopped off the second half, only to sell it next November for the cost of another whole admission. Jerks.

Then there was Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist on Netflix. A waste of time. I was expecting something charming and funny. Instead, Michael Cera said about seven adorable things and the rest was totally dumb. When the climax (NO PUN INTENDED) of a movie  involves a teenage girl reaching orgasm with a guy she’s only known a few hours . . . I give it a big fat no thanks.

Television

Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix — it took a bit of coaxing to get through the first few episodes, which were only so-so; but eventually Ben and I fell in love with this very funny TV show (starring Andy Samberg). Once you get to know the characters they’re all hilarious in their own way. Jake in particular is a hoot to watch. I’m also intrigued by the way the show subverts stereotypes about gay men with the stoic Captain Holt. Can’t wait for Season 2!

Flight of the Conchords Season 2We also finished up Flight of the Conchords (Season 2) on DVD. I could sing Murray’s praises all day. His Friendship Graph is one of the funniest TV moments of my life.

Crochet

And once again, this has been  taking up the majority of my down-time:

crocheted baby blanket

crocheted baby blanket 2

crocheted baby blanket 3

crocheted baby blanket

This super-simple colour block baby blanket was a great opportunity to master the single crochet stitch. I just chained 100 and single-crocheted into every stitch with an H hook. I went back and forth until I used up the whole ball of yarn and then switched to the next colour. It couldn’t get any simpler. But if I were to do it again, I might use a bigger hook or a bigger stitch — it’s a little stiffer than I would prefer.

I used Mary Maxim Starlette worsted weight acrylic yarn, simply because there’s a Mary Maxim store five minutes away from the hospital and I wanted to start with something inexpensive for learning. (The colours are turquoise, soft aqua, burnt orange, light grey, and medium grey). The colour scheme was inspired by this one by Rescued Paw. But it ended up being a little shorter than I’d hoped, so I added the fifth colour.

It ended up being approx two feet by three feet — a decent size for a baby or lap blanket.

Speaking of babies . . .

Felix 4 months

This little dude is four months old. He’s been doing great! He’s started to drink from the bottle again, he loves tummy time, and he only smiles for his favourite nurses. (Being five feet tall or less seems to be a prerequisite.) He sleeps through the night like a total WEIRDO (seriously: what four-month-old does that?!) and he screams like he’s being murdered when we bathe him. We love him to death!

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

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What I’m Into: February 2015

February 2015 will go down as the Month of Crocheting.

Ben and I were sitting on the hospital cafeteria one afternoon early this month and I was weeping into my pizza AGAIN when Ben suggested I take up a hobby. I have so much time to just worry about my sweet baby and think about how horrible this all is . . . he thought I could use a distraction. Hadn’t I always wanted to learn how to knit and/or crochet?

I immediately perked up. Yes. It was PERFECT.

I don’t know if you knew this about me, but I’m an obsessive person. Once I get started on a project (or book or TV show . . .) I can think of nothing else. The need to eat,  sleep, and use the bathroom (let alone care for other members of my family) become inconveniences I have to work around to get back to my thing. That’s part of the reason I have avoided taking up some of these hobbies so far.

But when I’m in the hospital for months on end? Nothing could be more perfect. It has been wonderful for my soul. It’s like meditation for my hands.

I asked around on Facebook, and a friend recommended Crafty Minx’s free Crochet School. (She’s wonderful and thorough and provides lefty videos.)

First I learned all the different stitches and techniques. . .

crochet school

And then I started on a few simple projects. The goal was mostly to master simple crocheting. As with this bowl . . .

crocheted bowl(Tutorial by Bunny Mummy. I used only the same two colours of yarn throughout)

And this small granny square afghan for Lydia’s doll . . .granny square blanket for doll(I used some clearance acrylic/wool yarns from Michael’s.)

Also this scarflette  . . .

crocheted scarflette(tutorial by Pretty Prudent. I used Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn in Grass.)

Followed by this chunky basket . . .

crocheted basket(Tutorial from A Handmade Year. I used Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Barley and Wheat.)

I’m currently working on a blanket for Felix.

As a result of all this crocheting, I didn’t do much reading or movie-watching. Except for the following:

Books

Veronica Mars novel

DID YOU GUYS KNOW THERE WAS A VERONICA MARS NOVEL?! Two of them, in fact?? Written by the creator of the TV show? No one told me this while I was obsessing over the show all through October-December. I just happened to learn of its existence while randomly surfing through social media. And I immediately decided I HAD to read it.

I’m just over halfway through and I’m loving it. The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is a sequel to the movie, and it takes place a few months after the events of the film. It’s just like watching a VMars episode. Thrilling mystery, witty banter. The characters are written perfectly. I can imagine every line of dialogue coming from the actors’ mouths. It’s a pretty cool experience, actually. I’ll be sure to pick up the next one when I’m done.

Television

Flight of the Conchords and The Office

These are two of the funniest TV shows I have ever watched in my life. Murray from Flight of the Conchords is possibly my favourite TV character of all time. Re-watching these hilarious shows and laughing my butt off are so therapeutic.

That’s what I’ve been into! How about you?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer!

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!*

What I’m Into: January 2015

felix room 1

Felix room

Sitting in Felix’s hospital room for the last eight weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to consume media. Since our internet access is limited, we’ve had to resort more to books and DVD’s, which is all good.

Books

january books

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened Jenny Lawson. This book is hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud like an idiot on numerous occasions. It is also rambly and filthy and has the word “vagina” in in WAYYYY too many times. It will also make you want to swear more, so watch out if you spend a lot of time around children and conservative Christians. But I can’t deny that Jenny Lawson is one of a kind. And if you only have the chance to read a chapter of it, jump to “The Dark and Disturbing Secrets HR Doesn’t Want You to Know,” about her years as a human resources rep (Think Toby from The Office). I died.

Yes Please – Amy Poehler. I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs written by celebrities lately, and Poehler’s is one of the best. It seems to be fashionable in humour writing to go on constant tangents and ramble on and on, providing ridiculous footnotes and prefaces as if trying to prove how eccentric and whimsical the authors are. (Lawson, above, is guilty). I find it exhausting to read. Poehler doesn’t mess around with that. She writes like a professional. She’s not out to prove anything. She’s the most no-nonsense humourist I’ve read in a while. And I still laughed. And I delighted in the chapter on Parks and Recreation, because we’re long-time fans of the show, and it’s always exciting to read behind the scenes stuff.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Volume 1 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A friend gave me a copy, and I was surprised to find how thoroughly I enjoy these old stories (some of which I’ve read before). They’re quite exciting! I have always adored all incarnations of the Sherlock Holmes character (starting with Basil from The Great Mouse Detective), so I don’t know why I was surprised to love the original so much. I enjoy spotting all the places where my favourite version (BBC’s Sherlock) got its inspiration. So much goodness.

The Problem of Pain - C. S. Lewis. This man never ceases to bring me to my knees in awe. This book has helped me through some hard times this month.

Television

I have learned that reruns of Corner Gas are on ALL THE TIME on The Comedy Network. And once I got to know the characters I found I loved the show. The humour is unique and wonderful. None of the expected story arcs involving sex between different characters. (Can you believe it?! On television??) And Wanda is the best. And also Davis. Okay, I love everyone.

We’ve also been re-watching The Office (the American version) from the beginning on DVD. Man. What a show. So original and funny. And painful. Michael Scott is one in a million.

Movies

Into The Woods – Every few years, I try to see whether I like filmed musicals yet, especially if one is critically acclaimed. So we gave Into the Woods a shot one afternoon to get our minds off of the nightmare we’re living.

Turns out, I still don’t care for them. Even though there were lots of fun musical numbers and phenomenal performances, I still got tired of all the singing. I also found it creepy and weird that Johnny Depp as the Wolf still looked like Johnny Depp. His interest in Red Riding Hood felt a lot more like pedophilia than the hunger of an anthropomorphic carnivorous beast. The ending is kind of depressing and ends with a big focus on a baby boy, so I walked out of the theatre sobbing. Not exactly what we had in mind when we bought our tickets.

Boyhood – We watched this (and the following movies) on DVD on a laptop in Felix’s room. It was astonishing. The dialogue was so believable I really, truly felt like I was watching an actual person’s life. Such a touching story of beauty and healing coming out of very ordinary brokenness. But it is long. Make sure you have the time to commit to watching it. (We had to watch it in parts.)

The F Word – Positively delightful from beginning to end. Very funny dialogue. Daniel Radcliffe is amazingly believable as a normal guy. It only took me about twenty seconds to get over seeing a scruffy Harry Potter drink beer and say swear words at a slummy party.

Safety Not Guaranteed — Weird and wonderful. I was distracted during the last part because Felix was showing a slightly higher temp, but I think I liked it.

The Giver – I think this movie received poor ratings from critics, but I thought it was lovely and moving. I didn’t think Jeff Bridges was the right choice as the Giver, but he did okay. (And Taylor Swift as Rosemary? What the what?!). I rather liked the liberties they took with the ending, especially with Fiona, thought it felt kind of like cheating and pandering to the crowd. I didn’t care. It made me happy.

But given the circumstances while watching it, I felt like I would totally rather live in a perfect, black-and-white world without music and art than live in a colourful world where babies can get sick and die. Is that just me?

Speaking of babies, here’s a picture of ours with his Bamboletta named Jasper:

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Let’s end with that happy, cute little face. (PS – If you haven’t heard, he’s actually doing a lot better this week.)

*As usual, linking up with Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into.*

Update on Felix

Dearest friends,

I’m afraid this blog is going to be a little different for a while, as I will likely be using it mostly to provide updates for friends and family on little Felix. This is the best and easiest way I know to keep loved ones up to date on our baby’s condition. I hope to be as thorough as possible, both for those who love him and are concerned about his well-being, and so that those who are the praying type know what, specifically, to pray for.

As most of you know, last Monday (December 3), when Felix was only 12 days old, I got called from the newborn screening center at the Victoria Hospital in London, letting me know that Felix’s blood test got flagged for a rare, life-threatening disease called SCID — severe combined immune deficiency. We were called in to get him re-tested two days later, since false positives are very common. So we made the two-hour drive out to get him assessed and to have his blood taken. He appeared perfectly healthy, aside from some oral thrush, which is comon in babies, and a mild cough.

By the time we had arrived back home, we were called again — the initial results seemed to confirm the diagnosis. We were asked to return first thing next morning. We were warned that we might end up being admitted and have to stay the night.

So we left Lydia with grandparents and made the trip back out to London with a change of clothes and toothbrushes. As soon as we arrived, the bad news started rolling in. It hasn’t stopped.

We are now admitted here long-term. We have been here a week, which is just the start. We have been told that best-case scenario, we will be in hospital at least for the next three months, but very likely it will be much longer.

The diagnosis has been confirmed. The good news is that the disease is treatable, possibly curable.

As I’ve mentioned, this genetic disorder affects Felix’ immune system — he is unable to produce t-lymphocytes, which are necessary to fight infection. In other words, he has no immune system. Any bacteria or virus that he gets exposed to can be life-threatening. So far, he’s done quite well, though recently they’ve identified a bacterial infection in his bladder and an unidentified infection in his lungs. They are treating both with antibiotics until they can learn more.

Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to be suffering too much as a result of these infections besides the cough. The greatest source of suffering comes from the constant testing. He gets blood work every day, and has had numerous catheters, a spinal tap, a lung swab that required sedation, three x-rays, and an ultrasound. He is due for another ultrasound, more blood work, and a catheter dye test tomorrow.

Meanwhile, to prevent any exposure to pathogens, Felix is in strict isolation in a sterile environment. To see him, we must wear masks, gloves, and gowns. I undersand that this will be the case the entire time we are in hospital.

Felix’s absolute best bet for recovery is a bone marrow transplant. Ben, Lydia and I have gotten our blood taken to see if any of us is a match. If we are, and the transplant is successful, he will essentially be cured. If we are not, there are other treatments available, though they are expensive and life-long.

My two greatest prayer requests are these:

1. That none of his current infections spread or put him in serious danger until he can get treated; and that he doesn’t develop anything new.

2. That one of us is a match for a  transplant. Lydia is the most likely match, and the odds are only 25%; Ben and I are even less likely.

Thanks so much for all your love and support. It has meant more than you can know. I will try to keep you updated as I can.

Please Pray for Felix

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi friends,

I just wanted to offer a quick update as I will probably not be blogging much in the next little while.

Monday I got a phone call from the newborn screening center, letting me know that Felix’s blood test got flagged for a rare, life-threatening disease called SCID — severe combined immune deficiency. Basically, this disorder means that the baby’s blood doesn’t have the necessary elements to fight infection, and is fatal if left untreated. This morning we had to drive in to the hospital two hours away to get him re-tested.

We already got some initial results which don’t look good — they seem to confirm the diagnosis. We still have to wait a week to get a full diagnosis, but we have to return to the hospital tomorrow morning to get him screened for any infections. If any are detected, he will have to be treated and possibly stay overnight to be monitored. Again, this hospital is two hours away from our home, which will mean another long day.

It’s been a long, long couple of days and I don’t have any emotion left. I just wanted to update you, my dear readers, and ask for prayer.

A few hours ago, I would have asked that you pray that the tests came back negative; but since that possibility seems less likely now, please pray that he has a less severe, more treatable form of the disease, and that we’ll be able to take him home tomorrow night. It is likely that we will be spending a lot of time in hospitals for the next weeks, possibly months.

Thanks so much for your continued love and support.

What I’m Into: November 2014

Well, my main project this month was bringing this guy into the world:

baby Felix

As most of you know by now, Felix Victor was born last week (November 19) here at home.

Everyone is doing really great. So far, Felix is a pretty happy guy and a great eater, though he’s really dramatic when he needs something. I am about eighteen times more relaxed about everything this time around which really helps. Lydia is adjusting to the changes astonishingly well (but it helps that she’s been staying with grandparents a lot). She looooooves to cuddle her new brother, except when she “doesn’t like babies.” Fair enough.

And if I’m honest, here is the number one reason I wanted a second baby from the start:

Lydia and Felix

Oh my melting mama heart.

I just wanted so badly for Lydia to have a sibling — someone to share her childhood with. I am so grateful God heard my prayers and baby Felix finally arrived safe and sound. We are so happy to have him join our family.

As for the name, if you’re interested . . . I fell in love with it way back while studying Latin in university — it means happy or fortunate. I like for my babies’ names to be linguistically consistent (both of Lydia’s names are Greek), so we gave him a Latin middle name — meaning victorious. Lots of happy words there.

So obviously my world has pretty much revolved around the family since his arrival, but here are a couple of things I’ve been into:

Books

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I’ve wanted to read Wendell Berry forever.  If you’re not familiar with him, Berry is one of the most prominent voices connecting the Christian faith and ecology. He’s a poet, novelist, essayist, and — importantly — a farmer. I finally got my hands on this book (What are People For?) and dug in — I kept it in my purse (hence its ragged state) and read it in the waiting room of the chiropractor and during Lydia’s swimming lessons.

SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. It’s a collection of essays exploring a range of topics that circle around our (broken) relationship with the land. It highlights the bleakness of our relationship to the earth but is infused with hope that change is possible.

Admittedly, Part 2 is a little academic, mostly exploring ecology and sustainability in relation to literary subjects; but Part 3 is a lot more accessible, and I found it very moving.

Television

After we ploughed through Season One of Veronica Mars on Netflix last month, we jumped right into Season Two. SO SO GOOD!!! Ben and I just loved it. Riveting plot, interesting characters, fantastic story-telling.

Again, it deals with really heavy stuff like child abuse, rape, murder, and suicide, yet I find it doesn’t fill my soul with blackness the way a lot of shows today (ahem — Walking Dead and Breaking Bad) do. (Note: I have not watched a significant amount of either; I’ve just seen enough scenes and heard enough synopses to determine tell they were not for me. Too many rotting/melting corpses.) Once again, we watched an episode almost every night until we finished the season.

Hoping Season 3 doesn’t disappoint!

Craftyness

I don’t usually make much time for crafting. I’m usually too busy in the kitchen, honestly. But reading The Nesting Place last month must have had a greater impact on me, subconsciously, than I realized. Suddenly, I wanted to make All The Home Decor. I started getting really excited to make wreaths and sunburst mirrors and I got a little carried away.

So here goes. I did all of these things while watching Veronica Mars with Ben.

Also: not a SINGLE one of these ideas is original to me (except the last one). Someone else came up with them. I just followed tutorials I found on Pinterest. I am not the creative mastermind behind them.

First I made this sunburst mirror out of poster board, following the tutorial on the Nesting Place blog. I paid $6 for the mirror at Michael’s, and another $1.50 for the cardstock. (So that’s $7.50 total.) It’s big, too — about three feet across. It’s going up over the new mantle Ben built for our gas fireplace — he just has to mount it.

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Then I started getting crazy with book pages. All of the paper you see in the items below come from the same old copy of Don Quixote. Thanks, Cervantes! I never read your book but it looks awesome on my walls!

book page wreathI got the instructions for this book page wreath from Vintage Paint and More. Since I already had the book, it cost me about a dollar in hot glue and took me three hours to make. It hangs above Lydia’s care of self table (which I talk about here). I’ve wanted something there for a year now, and I realized that what was missing from the room was something with texture. Here’s how it looks in its new surroundings:

book page wreath / care of self table(Full disclosure: I totally kicked things out of the way for this picture. It was not this tidy twenty seconds ago.)

Delighted with the results (Yay texture! Yay free decor!), I then went ahead and made a slightly different book page wreath for the space going down the stairs into the basement.

vintage book page wreathThe tutorial for this one comes from The Shabby Creek Cottage. It also cost me about a dollar in hot glue.

Finally, while I was browsing Michael’s, I spotted the very thing to go on the walls beside our alphabet poster: paper-maché deer heads. I immediately knew I wanted to cover them in torn up book pages to match the wreath on the opposite wall. Here’s the finished result:

paper mache deer head with book pages

paper mache deer headsAs you can see, I’m almost done with the second one. It might be a while until my hands are free during Veronica Mars to finish it, though. We’ll see.

And that’s what I’ve been into!

Disclaimer: post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer!

Announcing: Felix Victor

Hi friends! In case you missed it in my social media feeds, baby Felix Victor arrived last Wednesday.

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We had a wonderful (though still horrifically painful) home birth, and we’re all doing really well. He was a whopping 9 pounds, which makes perfect sense considering my size. Felix is a champion nurser and so far a great sleeper. My wonderful mother and mother-in-law have been keeping an eye on Lydia quite a bit, which has really helped with my recovery. I will never be able to repay them.

I’ll be back soon to share his birth story if you’re into that kind of thing (I am!!). Thanks for all the love and support you’ve shown over on Facebook and Instagram. You are all the best.

What I’m Into: October 2014

October leaves

playing in leaves

October garden

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t even begin to talk about October without first making this important PSA: if you are experiencing any kind of back trouble, whether related to pregnancy or anything else, consider chiropractic care. Even if you don’t have insurance and will have to pay for it out of pocket. Even if you’re broke.

I mentioned last month that I was suffering from debilitating back pain related to my pregnancy. Seriously, you guys: I could hardly move. Getting out of bed and climbing down the stairs in the morning pretty much wiped me out for the day. I couldn’t get groceries, couldn’t cook . . . couldn’t do any of the daily household tasks that needed to be done. I was miserable and helpless so the whole family was miserable and hopeless. And we were ordering in dinner every night, which we totally can’t afford. I was panicking, because I didn’t know how I could possibly deliver a baby in a few months when already in this much pain.

So we decided it could hardly cost us more to go see a chiropractor. We sucked it up and I used my piddly savings from my blog’s ad revenue to see if my sister’s chiropractor could help me.

The first couple of weeks didn’t seem to help much, though my chiropractor seemed able to pinpoint exactly which vertebrae and joints were giving me trouble. I was feeling discouraged. Three $30 appointments a week were draining the bank account pretty fast. I stuck to it, though, and soon I started to feel better.

And now, four weeks later, I’m as good as new! I literally feel no more pain whatsoever. I can walk with my daughter to the park, climb stairs without thinking about it, and I’m on my feet most of the day again without trouble. The only reason I remember I’m carrying 30-odd extra pounds is because I get out of breath if I move too quickly.

So all that is to say: I’m so glad we went ahead and saw a chiropractor! Totally worth it. I am a firm believer now. My quality of life is improved a hundredfold, and we don’t have to order in crappy food every night.

Okay, moving on!

Books

During my last pregnancy, I probably read at least two books a month on pregnancy, birth, or infant care for the duration of my pregnancy. So that was, like, eighteen books. Plus a ton of internet reading. This time around, aside from some refreshers on pregnancy nutrition, I hadn’t read a thing.

I’m due next month (late November), so I thought I’d re-read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (Ina May Gaskin) — the book that sealed the deal on home birth for me last time. (Oh yeah, if you didn’t already know — I’m planning on another midwife-attended home birth this time around. I sometimes forget that people give birth anywhere else. Hoping for a water birth!) It’s just so comforting and inspiring. My anxiety about this birth has decreased since re-reading it. I believe my body can do it. I was made for this. Thanks, Ina May!

I also decided to try out The Nesting Place (Myquillyn Smith), just because everyone on the internet is going crazy over it. I had to wait months to get it from the library, it’s in such high demand. Turns out the timing is just wrong for me right now. With a new baby coming, interior design just isn’t on the forefront of my mind. And I felt like the opening chapters were just . . . stating really obvious things? But the latter chapters are more interesting, and the photos inspiring . . . I’m suddenly inspired to make some textured wreaths and sunburst mirrors for our house. In between gathering birth supplies and attending midwife appointments and freezing meals, of course.

Children’s Books

flora and the flamingo

We happened upon Flora and the Flamingo (Molly Idle, 2013) at the library recently. What a stunning find! It’s another gorgeously-illustrated wordless book with a unique twist — it has interactive flaps to help tell the story about a little girl learning to dance with a graceful flamingo. The artist is a former DreamWorks animator and you can totally tell.

It is, however, a very delicate book, what with all the white space and manipulable flaps; at three, Lydia is a little young to be trusted with it completely unsupervised. I’ve kept it on a high shelf and only allowed her to look at it when she asks. I would recommend it for slightly older children — maybe four or five. Little girls (especially aspiring ballerinas) will love this beautiful, charming book.

Little Oink

Back in March, I shared our love for the books Little Pea and Little Hoot. I remembered that there was a third one in the series out there somewhere, and I requested it through inter-library loan.

Little Oink (Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace) is just as funny and cute as the first two. This time, it’s about a neat little pig who likes to keep his room tidy, but his parents tell him he has to mess it up before he can go play. The illustrations are lovely and just as chuckle-inducing as the text. Ben and I enjoy this book as much as Lydia does.

Television

We started watching Veronica Mars (from 2004) on Netflix last month and weren’t crazy-impressed. It seemed a little cheesy and relied too heavily on narration in those first few episodes. But Leigh Kramer insisted we keep going, so we watched a few more episodes.

I’m so glad we did! We LOVE this show! We watched an episode almost every night until we finished season one. Spectacular! A very intriguing plot and wonderfully complex and interesting characters. There’s scandal and murder and intrigue but it’s not dark and gory like many shows these days. There’s witty banter and familial love and high school drama in there, too. Thanks for the push, Leigh!

Movies

We watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on Netflix this month. Overall, we really enjoyed it. It’s funny and weird and has a happy ending. You get to see beautiful landscapes and it will make you want to travel the world and go on adventures.

With the Munchkin

One of the most fun things we did this month was just walk around the neighbourhood collecting leaves for crafts. Okay, so I was more into it than she was; but she ended up liking holding the basket. And it was good to get out of the house.

Beach sand play dough

I made this sand play dough for her, which she loves. I just had coarse commercial sand on hand — not beautiful, fine, Florida beach sand like in the original tutorial — but it still gives it a really neat texture and weight, and is fun with sea shells.sharpies on foil

Another fun and easy fall-back activity that Lydia loves is coloured Sharpies on aluminum foil. The foil makes the colours glow, and just offers a slightly different experience.

marker holder made with plaster of paris. Keep markers off the floor and capped!

And lastly, I made her this plaster marker holder, with instructions from The Artful Parent (Jean Van’t Hul). Like most kids, Lydia loves colouring with markers, but she always left the markers and caps scattered all over the floor. This was both irritating and it quickly ruined the markers. With this pretty new holder, she is much more likely to put her markers back where they belong. No mess, no drying out. WIN.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer!

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!*

What I’m Into: September 2014

tomatoes

little pumpkins

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September was mostly terrific. There was harvesting and preserving; we celebrated the autumnal equinox; and we read some good books.

Last week I injured my back (I’m in the third trimester of my pregnancy) and have been pretty much out of commission since; so I have a feeling the next couple of months won’t be as eventful. I’m hoping some chiropractic care can at least get me back on my feet. We’ve also been dealing with some pretty serious extended family issues, which has been hard on all of us; so it hasn’t all been pretty pumpkins and walks in the leaves.

But here’s what we’ve been into!

Books

September books: Killing Monsters and Artful Parent

Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence – Gerard Jones.

Two words: Absolutely phenomenal.

Killing Monsters is one of the most interesting books I’ve read all year. Intriguing and elegantly written. Very challenging and very compelling. I’m a tough customer on this book’s premise, as a pacifist and a general hater of commercial entertainment. But Jones had me seriously rethinking my views on violent cartoons and video games. I know, right?

What struck me most, throughout the book, was his intense empathy for children. It’s central to everything he writes. He’s a true role model. I highly recommend this book to anyone invested in children’s development, especially if you’re interested in the effects of media. You will be surprised and challenged.

The Artful Parent: Simple Ways to Fill Your Family’s Life with Art and Creativity – Jean Van’t Hul

I’ve gotten some good ideas from the author’s blog recently, so I suspected I would love her book. And I did! I skipped a lot of the (kinda boring) introductory stuff (I feel pretty artful already); but took notes on her recommendations for art materials. And I loved the activity ideas that comprised the latter half of the book. We already tried a few and I have plans to try lots more.

And I love that the book includes beautiful photos. I’m way more inclined to try an activity or recipe it’s got a picture.

Kids’ Books

Over the last few months, most of our library visits have produced pretty meh findings. But this month we got an incredible haul!

Kevin Henkes

For starters, we discovered Kevin Henkes. We just stumbled upon them at the library. His books happen to be perfect for Lydia’s age (three). Not too wordy, but rich and evocative text. His illustrations are simple and beautiful. My personal favourite from the bunch is Old Bear, about a bear who dreams about the seasons while he hybernates (so cozy and lovely); Lydia’s is Penny and Her Doll (about a little mouse trying to find the perfect name for her new doll). Kittens’ First Full Moon (about a kitty who chases the moon, thinking it’s a bowl of milk) is a Caldecott Medal winner.

Hank Finds an Egg

And then we found Hank Finds an Egg (Rebecca Dudley), which might be the cutest picture book in the history of the world. It doesn’t have any text, it just tells a story through images. It’s made up of photographs of miniature handmade scenes, with breathtaking detail. Every leaf and twig is handmade. And look at little Hank! You  can see every stitch that holds him together. Isn’t he the most adorable thing you’ve ever set eyes on?! The story is sweet and heartwarming.

Television

We mostly took a break from TV this month. We tried Veronica Mars on Netflix but weren’t totally taken by it. And then we watched the season premieres of our favourite shows (Big Bang Theory, Mindy Project) which were fun as usual.

Movies

We re-watched Megamind (with Will Ferrell), and MAN, I love that movie. It is just so clever and wonderful. One of my favourite romance stories ever. I don’t know why it just tickles me. Come to think of it, every movie Will Ferrell has done for children (Elf, Lego Movie) are among my favourites.

With the Munchkin

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I recently got Lydia some new coloured pencils, since she’s so into drawing. I love these particular pencils: the triangular shape means they don’t roll around and fall onto the floor while she’s working; they’re high-quality, with beautiful vibrant colours; and they’re eco-friendly, too! Oh, and she loves them, too!

I thought they deserved a nice holder, to encourage Lydia to take good care of them and not leave them all over the place. So I made this wool felt pencil roll, based loosely on this tutorial (I only did single layers, though. Wool felt is expensive!)

To encourage her to put away her pencils, I told her these were their beds and they needed to go to bed every night. Unfortunately, I hadn’t foreseen how she would assume that just like in real life, everyone would want to share beds. She stuffs them all into just a few pockets. So much for orderly. *Sigh.*

But at LEAST it keeps them off the floor. So: win!

Spider web capture. Spray paint a spider web, then lift with black cardstock.

We also did this spider web capture activity, which was pretty cool. Next time I’d like to try using a brighter colour.

Linking up, once again, with Leigh Kramer!

*Post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!*

What I’ve Been Up To (Instead of Blogging)

Man! It has been so busy around here! I thought I’d share a few pictures in lieu of a real blog post. So that you can see I’m not just being lazy.

Harvest from the garden . . .

onions1Onions curing in the sun!

squashLast year was lousy for squash, but we got a good haul this year!

pumpkinsAnd look at all these PUMPKINS! (And some spaghetti squash). These excite me to no end because we grew them from seeds I saved from a couple of heirloom pumpkins (red Cinderella and and gray Jarrahdale) I bought last year. I’d never saved seeds before. There’s something thrilling about watching two pumpkins turn into twenty. And look how gorgeous they are! They have thick, delicious flesh, too, which will be turned into pies and muffins throughout the winter.

Please note: I think some people are under the impression that I am doing this stuff all by myself. FAR FROM TRUE. I garden with my mom at her house. She’s been gardening for decades and has lots of excellent land to do it on. During spring and early summer, I go over there once a week to help plant, sow, weed, hoe, and pick a few things to take home. During the late summer and fall, I go over there two or three times a week to help harvest and preserve. It’s usually when we butcher, too. Last year we did hogs, because that’s what my parents raised; this year they raised meat chickens. I have to go back next week to do the last ten with my mom.

At our own home, we raise four hens for eggs and an herb garden. That’s it.

Anyway, we did all this canning this week:

tomatoesDiced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salsa. My mom’s been doing additional canning like a madwomen in the evenings when my sister and I are not there. She’s insane, and also awesome. We still want to put in another day or two.

Anyway, all this work is made a bit more taxing due to all this extra weight I’m carrying:

28 weeks

Yeepers! I still have three months to go! How huge am I going to get?! I’ve been huffing and puffing for weeks already, and my hips are starting to get achy. I was about this size at nine months when I gave birth to Lydia, so . . . this is uncharted territory for me. (Ben conveniently cropped out my badonkadonk, so you can’t see how much weight I have gained in the lower region of my body.)

And for fun, on the weekend the three of us went to see WALK OFF THE EARTH in concert!! (I went a little crazy talking about the band here.) They were playing at a venue less than an hour away, and we’re all huge fans, including Lydia. She knows all the members’ names and likes to imitate Sarah in Material Girl and drum on the hood of the van like the guys in Gang of Rhythm.

Walk Off the Earth concert

It was an outdoor concert, and we had a hard time finding a babysitter, and we really though Lydia would enjoy it. So we took a risk in taking her. It went great! She was a little overwhelmed by the volume and lights. This is how her face looked throughout most of it:

watchingAnd when they sent huge balloons out into the crowd, she cried because she couldn’t have one. Until someone handed her one! Then she was thrilled. It made her night.

balloon

familySo things have been busy, but good. So, so good. I’m overwhelmed with the blessings in my life right now. I hope you are doing well, too!

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