Our seeds have sprouted. The seedlings were lovingly and carefully attended to daily —watered at least once a day, thinned, transplanted, hardened off, planted in our garden and watered again. The garden is quickly taking shape and looking up.
Before April turns into May, I thought it might be a good idea to reflect upon Easter activities, aka egg dying. This year we tried to dye Easter eggs naturally using crushed blueberries, turmeric, cranberry concentrate and paprika. We added vinegar to boiling water and then let the eggs sit. The hard boiled eggs did absorb the color, but the color also rubbed off. So, we abandoned the completely natural approach for the more traditional approach and had success. For our second attempt, we used brown eggs, icing color (which I presume is the same as food coloring), a teaspoon or so of vinegar, hot water and mixed everything in mugs (in the past we've also used bowls). Good coverage in muted tones brought happy results for all participants.
This Easter we also decorated an egg tree. We used clippings from one of our shrubs and hung the dyed eggs that were first hollowed out (a bit of stamina required). The tree was sweet and simple.
Knitting has become integral in my life and for some reason this really surprises me. Knitting wasn’t passed down in my family — I learned from a neighbor years younger than me when I was an impatient teenager. And, I only started knitting in earnest four years ago. These past two years, I have knit every week and more often than not, everyday.
I never seem to be at a loss for a project and usually have many cued up ready to go. And, as no surprise, my children are often the recipients of what I knit. Since I am gnome obsessed, more so than the kiddos seem to be, knitting gnomes was a must!
Before the busyness of April, we enjoyed a warmer, fresh March day with a quick hike. I think this was our first hike of the season and it was one with a mission. We were in need of sticks that we could transform into buttons for a very special project (more on that later). We collected a variety of branches, sawed them into thin slivers, bore holes and then hand sanded these little gems until they were milky smooth. I dyed a batch of buttons using turmeric while others were left natural. The sticks we collected have new life — Mission complete.
Not only was this the first hike of the season, but it was also Kian’s first hike on his own two feet. To our surprise, he walked the majority of the trail himself, collecting many, many twigs along the way (and one tiny, tiny tick). He often passed his collection to me so to free his hands for more.
The woods seemed to be lush with new finds — tufts of green grass, a lot of lichen on old tree limbs, twigs (as mentioned), and plenty of shed bark were some highlights. Some of the larger swaths of bark now adorn our walls.
The above picture is from a year ago. I remember it being early spring, warm and waiting for impending rain. While the baby napped and just before the drizzle, we snuck in outdoor time and this first volcano venture. As you can see, we were rather serious about our approach. We built a mountain of dirt around the glass jar, added bamboo for effect and used a touch of food coloring to jazz up the explosion.
These days, we’re much less formal — we just set up in the kitchen sink. All that is needed is a small jar or glass, a touch of dish soap, vinegar, baking soda and a spoon (or not). Food coloring is optional. It’s an activity that is inexpensive and one that a three or four year old can manage on their own. Granted, vinegar is dispensed at a rapid pace in such small hands, but it’s their experiment, right?
I’ve contemplated wooden peg people for some time. My interest probably started a year ago or more when I became interested in having plain people, so to speak, for my children to play with. I liked the simple shapes, the texture of the wood and I loved how the large people fit ever so naturally into the hand of a small child.
We played with these plain wooden people for quite some time. We also experimented with adorning our new friends with eyes and other such necessities. Cooper’s people were most unique, I have to say. Some had simple marks made with marker. Others were dressed in glitter glue.
Recently, I’ve become enamored again with the peg people’s endless potential to transform — this time into characters we are familiar with. This evolution coincides with a more detailed storyline I overhear during play by my four year old.
My first foray into wooden people character development is inspired by one of our favorite books, Peter in Blueberry Land. Peter is already stained through the hard work of play and the little blueberry boy hasn’t been spotted in quite some time. I guess it’s fair to say that these recent additions are a hit.
I like the idea that my children have characters to play with that are not driven by cartoons, movies or mass marketing — it’s not our world. Phew.
One morning this month was determinedly spent cutting and ripping fabric into 1 inch strips so I could start knitting a rag rug for the kitchen. I stayed in my pajamas for as long as possible, the dishes waited until noon and the kids were left to entertain themselves, leaving a huge wake in their path.
It felt incredibly good to rip yards of fabric that I haven’t touched in a decade, but felt too guilty to trash. I was also surprised to feel relief and freedom from these patterns that I no longer related to. I’m pretty sure that this project falls under spring cleaning. The rag rug is under way and I look forward to altering more swaths of fabric.
April has been busy, busy, busy. Our weekends have been occupied with birthday preparations and parties, Easter and a whirlwind (and inspiring) getaway to New Paltz. Weekdays are calmer, yet focused on our best days. The boys are busy working outside as early as 8am sweeping, digging and moving dirt, rocks and mulch — rain or shine (thank you to slightly warmer weather and also to a new raincoat and boots). I keep busy with some serious spring cleaning — I desperately need more space in my life to live, play and make. Making progress.
A magical moment... This was one of those mornings where stars were aligned. The dishwasher was (and still is) broken, so there was valid reason to actually wash dishes by hand. Unbelievably, there was peace in this chore — I’ve never minded doing the dishes and have read that this activity is good for children, but to actually have a justification to wash dishes by hand and together… amazing.
Crazy, you say? No! Shortly after doing dishes together, Cooper moved over to his kitchen sink and started washing his tot size dinnerware. I thought it beautiful how he arranged his dishes to dry. Hand washing dishes was time well spent.