Celebrating and Settling in

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The other day, I noticed that the light hitting the forest behind our house was looking remarkably beautiful, and I ran for my camera and zoom lens. About that time, Jonny came and grabbed me, saying, “Come on, you’ve got to see this.” He was talking about the same light, of course. We got in the car and drove down the road, just wanting to see all that we could. There was even a double rainbow in the sky. It was pretty amazing. I thought about how grateful I am that our landscape hasn’t changed much with this move.

A friend asked today how we’re doing as far as the move goes. I told her that it feels a little like we’ve been on vacation (though not the relaxing kind) and I’m ready to go home now. Only, we are at home, it just doesn’t feel that way yet. And I really don’t want to go back to living in our other house, I just want to feel at home, you know? That won’t happen overnight, and I know better than to expect it to. We are hanging pictures here and there, and making plans for what we would like to do to make this house better reflect us as a family. Making a place your own takes time.

To answer a question that many of you have, yes, we have room here for our animals! What we don’t have yet is fencing. Fencing will be the chief work of this week and next.

Last week, we celebrated Beatrix’s eighth birthday, our first family celebration in the new house. We came up with a crazy (maybe not so crazy, actually) last minute cake idea: two pans of brownies with a layer of ice cream between, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Total stomachache, but so good! Reminded me of the Shoney’s hot fudge cake that we oftentimes got on birthday dinners out when I was a kid.

Beatrix was pretty specific about what she wanted for her birthday: mainly this dress, this doll, and this bonnet. To make up for the lack of a homemade birthday dress or sweater (still knitting the first sleeve!) I also bought her and Mabel matching dresses. The lack of enthusiasm when Bea opened that gift was hilarious. I admitted to Jonny that maybe the matching dresses were really a gift for me.

We dipped leaves gathered in our new backyard in beeswax (Beatrix is wearing her original orange Sunday Sweater in that post!), ate more ice cream, and had a wonderful time celebrating. Another week, and it will be Advent, the perfect time of year to keep doing the work of settling in, making this house our home.

Christmas Days

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Yesterday I cleaned out my pantry, and today I got out of the house to grocery shop, along with Seth and my youngest three.  The woman behind me in line at my final stop said to me, “You’re brave.”  I replied that I was in fact feeling rather brave, but even more so, relieved that we were at the end of our shopping trip.  I arrived home and cleaned out the fridge before putting the groceries away.  I usually have my older boys put groceries away, but that isn’t really working out.  They just put things where they will fit, and while I appreciate the help, I think I need to go back to doing it myself.  I feel the same way about the girls’ laundry, though I am heading down a rabbit trail now, when what I sat down to write about is our Christmas.

As far as gifts go, we seem to do things a little differently each year, depending on a variety of factors, including where we are at financially.  Our children don’t have high expectations in the gift department, and that helps.  We at one point decided we would only do stockings for Christmas day, but that actually got expensive, and I ran out of ideas after the first couple of years.  I could probably swing it every year with the girls, but the big boys don’t need more than one pocket knife and watch.  This year I set an approximate budget of $50 per child (I figure some people wonder about things like that.)  Our three oldest boys just got cash in their stockings along with the candy, nuts, and clementines, and the younger children received wrapped gifts.  Larkspur and Beatrix requested these cloaks in red, so that’s what I bought for them.  Job got a balance bike, a little over budget, but I supplemented with saved birthday money.  Silas has been wanting a tool set, and I ordered him this one.  Jonny told me that I could have gotten everything cheaper by going to Harbor Freight, but I patiently explained that would have required GOING to A STORE.  I wrapped a few extra gifts for everyone, mainly TinTin books.  I bought The Action Bible, which some of my kids really like, and some (Seth) find distasteful.  I also finally bought Connectagons after considering them for years.  They are cool, but are currently spread all over the house.

Some years I make most of the Christmas candy.  I joked with a friend that my theme this year seemed to be, “Why make it, if I can buy it?”  Ha!!!  Those words did actually run through my mind when I spied a bag of high end peanut brittle at the grocery store, remembering that Beatrix wanted me to make some.  I didn’t want to make some.  So, I bought some.  She didn’t mind.

Larkspur picked up my slack in the homemade department.  With Jonny’s help, she made me a candle using beeswax from our bees and an old broken teacup she dug from a dump in the woods.  I love it.  She had gifts for everyone including scarves that she knit for both Silas and Beatrix.  In the photos above Bea is wearing hers, and Lark is wearing the one she knit for Silas.  (Hmmmm.) I also received a hand painted Our Lady of Guadalupe figure from Sue Dow.  It’s so beautiful, and I’m keeping it right next to my bed.  So there was a little bit of handmade in our Christmas, which was nice.

I’ve been knitting, and my barn sweater is finally almost finished!  I washed it last night, and if that thick wool ever dries, I will sew up the pockets and add buttons.  I’m also knitting a little hat for Beatrix (making up the pattern as I go) using a skein of indigo dyed yarn (this one) that she requested from my recent indigo dyeing day.  I think it’s going to be pretty!

Right now, my younger kids are making bread with Gabe’s help and the entire downstairs is a big fat mess.  I don’t mind.  I have knitting to do, and besides, my fridge is clean on the inside.  And usually, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

I hope that all of you can ignore the mess and enjoy the season for a little bit longer as well!