Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My MItts

Most women I know suffer from cold hands to some extent. And while cold hands mean a warm heart, I'd rather have both warm hands and a warm heart, thanks. So when I saw this pattern for fingerless mitts made from a minuscule amount of yarn, I had to give it a try.
 For me, they are just right. I had the leftover Malabrigo from my sweater and cowl, so there was no shopping involved - a bonus at this time of year. One thing I really like is that neither the wrist nor finger ribbing is too long, and they fit beautifully under long sleeves. With some other versions I've made, the "wrist" area actually goes halfway up my arm, which doesn't sit comfortably under sleeves. Maybe I'm just fussy, but I'm not down with that.
Contrary to popular belief, I haven't found fingerless mittens to leave your fingers cold and your hands hot - they seem to lend an all-over warmth while leaving your fingers free for using your iPhone or iPad, or delivering the mail (if you're my mom). Or knitting, of course.
Soft, warm, squishy mitts. Love.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Multitude Mondays

what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:4
I've recently been finding myself humbled by so many needs and circumstances around me that I have never had to deal with, trials I've not yet had to face. It leads me to wonder why - who am I that I should be spared such things? My only answer is that it has been God's desire not to send these difficulties my way yet. When trial does come, with His help, may I continue to thank Him, for He has dealt kindly with me...
  • I've had 5 healthy pregnancies, labors and children
  • None in our home have chronic illnesses
  • None of the kids have ever been to the NICU
  • None of us have ever been a serious car accident
  • We have never suffered unemployment
  • We've never had problems in the buying or selling of a house
  • None of us have serious allergies
  • We have yet to experience real persecution

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Trying to Savor

It's been several late nights and early mornings, now, complete with often getting up in the night to soothe a poorly child. Then came chores this morning, including my least favorite - vacuuming. It got done without incident, and it does always feel good to have a clean floor. Then, I moved some books downstairs to the shelves in my workroom, and it happened - with a spectacular crash, both shelves laden with books, papers, printer, and glass jars full of knitting and sewing tools ripped off the wall. I was there to watch it, to catch some of it, and to be totally rattled by it - it took a large mug of hot, sweet tea to stop my hands shaking. Amazingly, nothing was broken, not even the glass jars! It's been a morning of slowly tidying up and putting things to rights, while still trying to keep the kids out of mischief and doing their work.
Needless to say, by the time lunch was done, I was tired. Desperate for a nap. Dan was still awake, which is not only rare, but it makes naps dangerous, though I was confident that since everyone else was quietly reading, he seemed happy to join them. (Dumb, I know)
I had gotten comfy and warm under my covers when I heard the not-so-little pitter-patter (or thump-clump) of little feet. Then little giggles. Then the bed bumped and wobbled as the littlest Gayner made his way under the covers next to me, whispering little "Hi"s. He was so excited to be in the big bed and under the covers that he kept wiggling and kicking, leaning over to give kisses.

It's not what I'd planned - I was so tired. And I confess, I was thankful when Abigail came in a little later to collect him so that I could get a 15-minute nap. But my baby's not a baby anymore - he's a toddler. These cuddle-and-kisses times won't last forever. And while so very often, I put off the sitting-down-and-resting together times because there always seems to be so much to do, I'm also glad that this time, I made the choice to savor my little boy, rather than turf him out. I pray that I would get better at making the right choice - the choice to savor them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Multitude Mondays

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
And here I am, looking for God's will for me, when here it is, all the time, written down in black and white...
  • the church Men's Retreat, and all the men that were able to go
  • getting together with friends for a movie night
  • having kids' friends over for crafting (I tried to stay out of it!)
  • lots of new yarn arriving, with the promise of lots of knitting to do!
  • enjoying a fire and Red Rover in the yard with the kids
  • hanging-on coughs that are starting to lose their grip
  • seeing brothers and sisters in the Lord serving each other, in large and small ways
  • dozing with a child in a comfy armchair
  • listening to another Penderwick story on CD
  • key lime pie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Five-Fingers Chores

A while back, I was asking some other homeschool moms for advice. I have long struggled with how to approach my kids' daily devotional times:  should I make them or just allow some time and hope they make a good choice? Should I tell them what to read and check up on them or let them read what they want? And the biggest conundrum - what time of day is all this supposed to happen?

In steps wisdom, in the form of my wonderful friend Donna, whose opinion I take very seriously - she has 9 kids worth of experience behind her. She introduced me to the Five-Fingers Chores:
Every morning, each child has four chores or responsibilities to take care of before they can eat breakfast - they must read their Bibles and pray, take care of their rooms, take care of their bodies, and then they may eat. Each step is marked or symbolized by a finger to make it easy for kids to remember. For instance, reading the Bible is the most important thing, so it's linked with your most important digit, the thumb. The index finger is prayer, followed by taking care of your body at the middle finger, the ring finger being caring for your room. By the time they've completed these four fingers, their whole hand is ready to pick up some food and eat!

The very next morning, I explained the concept to the kids, followed by having them each trace their hands on a sheet of paper and labeling each finger accordingly and hanging them up in strategic places around the house. It took a few days to catch on, but in less than 2 weeks even Ellie, who tends to wake up offended that her breakfast and juice isn't ready and waiting at 6.30am, needed no reminders to spend time looking at her picture Bible and getting dressed.

Honestly, it's totally changed the way our mornings run. Previously, everyone was turning up at different times and expecting to be waited on, plus I was trying to get my husband fed and out the door. Now, they know breakfast isn't happening until their five fingers are complete, which gives me extra time to get breakfast ready, and I'm not breathing down their necks to "get moving and spend some time with Jesus already!".

So, there you have it. Excellent principles, tried and tested for you. Anyone else out there have any helpful morning routines their families use? Any massive failures?  Everyone likes to hear about those...

Multitude Mondays, a day late

A house full of poorly children seem to have a way of dominating the time, don't they? But they also seem to have a knack for inspiring extra affection from even the grumpiest of souls (ahem), not to mention many reasons to recognize God's goodness and faithfulness in our lives.
  • The Sovereign Grace Pastor's Conference and the wonderful preaching we heard there
  • seeing old friends and meeting some new ones
  • a fearless grandma who kept all 5 kids alive!
  • even though the kids have been under the weather, they've all been in surprisingly good spirits
  • the ability to conveniently take children to the doctor, when much of the world has no such opportunity
  • such a nice doctor, too!
  • a very first blood draw for one of the kids was very easy and virtually pain-free
  • the ability to listen to a message online even when I can't be at church
  • my sweet husband leaving church early and doing fun Sunday-school activities with the kids
  • a new, and free, iPhone!
  • kids slowly beginning to feel better
  • lots of reading time
  • lots of knitting time
  • lots of down time, at home, where I belong

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Conference Cowl

This is it (I think) - the last completed project update!
It was a great project. I had a ball of Malabrigo Rios left over from my Estelle and I needed a project that was interesting but not too involved to take along to the Sovereign Grace Pastor's Conference. This pattern and this yarn made for a beautiful pair.

I began on the car-ride down to Gaithersburg and finished the day we came home. Perfect.

Plus, I learned two things:
1. Blocking is so important. I already knew this, but the reminder was helpful. When it was first finished and I put it on, it looked like a large, blue caterpillar was attacking me. It was more than a little snug around my neck, and I was preparing to give it away. But once home and suitably blocked, the fibers really r  e  l  a  x  e  d, and there was a lovely drape to it. No more(wo)man-eating caterpillars here.

2. When you drop your yarn in the middle of a meeting and the ball rolls under the dozen or so rows in front of you, several things will happen: the yarn will pick up dust and fluff, people will turn and look at you, you will want the floor to open up and swallow you whole, you will have to ask a patient man to throw that ball of yarn back behind his feet so you can get to it, he will look at you like you have 3 heads as you scrabble about on the floor, you will feel like an utter moron, and you may never live it down. I'll get back to you on the last one.
For real. 

Baby set

Such a cute set, and a nice project to work on.

 Having made both before helps with speed, but having to rip out the sweater twice before getting beyond the second button does not.

 Abi helped sew up the booties, so I can officially call it a joint effort.
I don't know what to say about that pen cap (other than that it is obvious I do not use Photoshop), but all the info is on my Ravelry page.

Gorilla legs

That's what Toby calls these little soakers - the wool is rather...hairy, so I suppose it suits.
 I love them, though. He's warm and cozy, with plenty of growing room. And of course, they make the perfect cloth diaper cover - no leaks and no smell.

 Even though I did run out of yarn right before the end and had to substitute with another black yarn for the last inch of the second leg. A non-hairy yarn.
 No, we'll not discuss that. We'll simply enjoy the fact that they fit, they do their job and they're finished.
Check here for more details.

Another hat!

This one was mine. Seriously. I'd had my eye on using this yarn for a while - it's so soft and just...yummy. But it was very much not the right gauge, nor was I using the correct needle size, for my own noggin. But it fit this little noodle very well...

 Yeah, I know the photos are blurry. I defy you to get one in focus some days - I couldn't pay him to keep still!
Visit the Ravelry page for pattern and yarn details.

Annette needs a hat, too

 Another "A" name, but not another child - this is Abigail's American Girl doll, so kindly gifted to her by friends. We've been busy making her some clothes, and I'm working at using up some of the ends-of-yarn balls from previous projects. I had enough purple cotton for a little cap.
Rubbish picture - taken in a dark hallway at night, while children sleep. Helpful making info found here.

Sock Hat

I'm not particularly fond of making Anna hats, since she tends to lose them, without much remorse, I might add. Still the child needs a hat, and I've had this handspun sock yarn I bought off ebay for so long, I figured I'd put it to good use on her head...

 She seems to like it. Maybe she'll hang on to this one a while.

Pattern details on my Ravelry page.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Multitude Mondays

What a week - so many things planned, then missed or cancelled due to illness. Not what I would have arranged, had I the choice, but Isaiah 55 reminds me of the truth - a truth I need to remember so much that it's engraved in my wedding band:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

And so, my list of thankfulness this week includes:
  • This verse!
  • His good purposes in sickness
  • a chance to snuggle with a poorly baby
  • getting a new haircut
  • a new carpet to replace the flood-damaged one!
  • a generous bonus from the Man's work
  • my mom coming to visit
  • making a roaring fire in the fire pit and spending all afternoon enjoying the warmth
  • swing set restoration now under way
  • a perfect autumnal afternoon
  • my first workout in too long!
  • napping babies

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lying low

My kids are not altogether well at the moment.
Daniel seems to have come down with the chicken pox. I have no idea where he may have picked it up (like a bad penny). It's certainly not the worst thing for him to have it at his age - he's little enough that though you can't explain to him why he shouldn't scratch, he's also not too inclined to do so, combined with the fact that his most affected area is under a diaper, and thus unreachable. Still - poor lad. He's definitely not a stoic, but is sharing his discomfort with all.
Abi is also not well. Nothing specific, just a general malaise (how often do I get to use that word??). She can function for a while, then lays down and reads or even sleeps. She's not terribly interested in food, though she has yet to turn down any Halloween candy. And for the record, I'm pretty sure she doesn't have the pox - she had them when she was about Dan's age, so I reckon she's probably safe.
The other kids are okay, health wise, for the moment. Noah had the chicken pox vaccine when he was little, so he's unlikely to get it, but Anna and Ellie haven't had it (the virus or vaccine), so I'm kind of waiting to see if they come out with little rose gardens of their own. But when two out of the five are out of commission for a while, it seems to make everyone a little more subdued.
This makes for a slower pace for sure, but I'm convinced it's not altogether a terrible thing. Of course, I would prefer my children to be happy and healthy - who wouldn't? But while the afternoons are quieter a little longer to accommodate the longer naps and outings have to be missed, we'll make the best of it. Lego creations are flourishing, goodies are being cooked and baked, books are being read, and snuggly little bodies that are usually so busy are cuddling up for naps on Mommy's lap. Not a bad thing at all.