Friday, August 27, 2010

Building a Better Bonnet

I revised the bonnet pattern yesterday. I'm quite pleased though it needs a little tweaking.

According to the kids, the back needs to be "bouncier". Oh, those Prairie Girls and their bouncy backed bonnets.

The brim is near perfect but "the stringers are too big". Which translates from three year old to the ties are too long. Today that will be rectified.

It resembles a newsboy a bit. I blame the lack of bouncy back part and using too long a piece of elastic on the neck line. Perhaps even narrowing that back part considerably might be in order. It literally took me about twenty minutes to draw the pattern and construct the thing. And I didn't get mad or confused once.  I even made different sizes

"Mommy, we read Liddle House on the Querry now?" Emmy asks. "I have my bommet on."

This is why I sew.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

There's been a discrepancy here

In our quest for All Things Prairie, the girls have requested sunbonnets. Bonnets? Sure, why not. I can make a bonnet. Because of my laziness busy-ness, I decided not to try and recreate the wheel by making my own pattern and just go out and buy one. I ditched the bow on the back and the extra neck protector piece the pattern calls for. I looked at the way Olivia's bonnet we purchased from Cracker Country at the fair earlier this year. I prefer her hand folds to McCall's required gathering. The pattern is sized for girls ages 7-10 years. Olivia is 7, her bonnet fits her so I thought that would be what I'd get; a bonnet fit for a little girl. What I got was completely different...

That's me under the monstrosity, if you can't tell.

Really, McCalls? This is sized for a child? There has been a huge discrepancy in pattern sizing which is one reason I just ditched fifty uncut patterns at the thirft store. It's frustrating for a fairly experienced sewer, I can't imagine what a novice must encounter. This hat is huge. Really, it's sizes too large for my larger than average sized head. I know I have a big head because hats. never. fit. The fact I found one good hat doesn't give way to illusions that my head is in any way, shape or form an average hat-wearing sized head.

The instructions alone are confusing and convoluted. There is even a step sewing a piece they never told me to cut out. Why sew the ties together and then curse every inch of the tubing by pulling it right side out? Why not just make them large enough to make a bias and save so many perfectly sane women from frustrated and foul tempers? Why not include finished dimensions on the friggin pattern so we can decide for ourselves what would make a ridiculous sized bonnet for our kids with normal sized heads? By my calculations, I'd have to buy the bonnet pattern for sizes 6-12 months to get a hat the right size for my five year old. Now, I'm stuck with a gigantic bonnet, wasted yards of fabric, two disappointed children and the new task of just making the stupid pattern myself which I should have done in the first place.

McCall's should be ashamed of themselves. Deluding sewers by falsely sizing patterns fit for giants. Deluding little girls intent on imagining themselves as Laura or Mary by creating ununiform patterns that won't ever, ever fit their heads. Even if they do end up with fairly large ones.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's been a time

Sorry for the quiet week, there's been much going on. Right now we're scrambling to get the shabin habitiable. We're on a coundown that has no defined end. WE have to turn a 1200 square foot house and 8x10' shed into 400 square feet of living space forty minutes from town. A yardsale is scheduled to commence at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. I look at everything now in a different light.

"Can we keep this?" "What worth does it have?" "What other uses can it perform?"

I've unconciously developed a merit system for everything we own. Everytime I pick something up to clean or straighten or use my mind becomes a ruthless chopping block for our posessions. I imagine my appliances, slowly ammased over long years, trembling in fear that they won't live up to my new standards. My kitchen has become the parts store in The Brave Little Toaster. They probably sing tales of woe and horror when I turn the light off for the night.

This change is going to be significant, drastic. I reminded the kids of the Ingalls and how like pioneers we'd be. Apparently, that was a poor choice since now they want to know when we're buying a wagon and horses. I'm trying to look at everything in a more than positive light. We're diving in with both feet and a hard prayer. But I need ideas, insight and inspiration. Here are some things I'm still unsure about

-keeping food for seven people by only using a small compact 4cu ft fridge
-how to bake without an oven
-what to stock up on in dry goods that are still healthful
-what essential homeschool things we'll need

So, I pose this question to you, if you had to downsize by 2/3rds, everyone has approximate 57 square feet to themselves, what is a necessity? what can you not live without? How would you do it?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Welcome to the Farm

Four Americauna Pullets

Came home with us today.

Welcome to the Farm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Can't see the garden for the weeds

I've let myself become neglectant of the garden. Maybe it was because the zucchini died, the corn collapsed and the tomatoes became brittle brown sticks. Though, parts of the garden are still flourishing, I honestly couldn't tell what was wanted and what was weeds.

I tried to mow yesterday but I gave myself blisters from trying to pull-start it. Apparently, there's a cord that needs replacing and has absolutely nothing to do with my embarassing lack of upper body strength. Nothing at all. Really. 

I went to Lowe's after a wonderful lunch with hubby at this fabulous Italian deli. I am scouring the city in search of cull lumber to build a chicken coop. Cull for an animal is a very bad word. Cull for lumber is very, very good. Cull lumber is the pieces of wood that are left over after people get them cut. Or they're warped, cracked and otherwise unsellable wood. These are sold at a very small price (depending on store) and usually kept in a cart by the huge lumber cutter or in the back. If you can't see a cart, ask*. Yesterday, I got a cart of plywood plus a few other boards for .64. Yes, I am head over heels for cull lumber. The deck and the hod are almostly completely cull.

Things that prevented us from jumping into poultry have been cancelled and I want to correct the fact that I have never actually held a chicken. A live one, I mean.

I also needed a square shovel to scoop rabbit poop. I've been wanting one for a while now. I have very simple needs. But while I was in the garden section I spotted a very pretty, very handy tool that I felt I had to have, too. An electric weed wacker**. Take that overgrown-ness.

*Using the term "cull" at the lumber yard makes you sound knowledgeable and not merely an idiot with power tools. They also like it when you climb into the lumber cart to find your cheap cull-gems. At least, a lot of men people were smiling when I climbed out of it today. It's hard to tell when you have ear buds in if they're laughing at you or with you.

**I think my neighbors are also happy that I have invested in one and won't continue the past four year trend of borrowing theirs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It may seem strange

All of a sudden it dawned on me that simultaneously looking up the tracking number for my iPhone and reading reviews on galvanized wash boards might seem a bit ironic.

Can you picture me on the back porch hand scrubbing cloth napkins while listening to music from my iPhone? Getting a call while stringing up unmentionables on the laundry line? It does seem odd.

But it's all about finding a balance. Embracing technology while revitalizing the antique. But why am I looking up hand washing implements? Because I'm sick of my HE fantastically expensive beautiful blue gray washing machine tearing. up. my. clothes. It really and truly ruins them. Shredding bra and sundress straps. Eating holes- holes- in pillows, ripping jammies and tearing apart cloth diapers and then having the audacity to not even get them clean. They come out caked with grime needing to be rewashed. What is the point of having it? It's costing more money and trouble than I care to handle right now. The dryer is practically out of the picture already and they are a matched set.

Yes, the tubes have been cleaned out. Yes, I bought the expensive "HE machine washer soap" to wash the inside of the machine because it smelled. An entire wash cycle just to wash the machine. Eghads.

Washing machines have been in production for a couple hundred years. Different modes of agitation, soap concoctions and rinsing methods have evolved astronomically over the past oh, hundred years or so. Do I want to hunch over a tub of murky wash water pounding out stains? Not particularly. I mean the majority of clothes come away from the wash unscathed but its the ones that don't make a clean getaway that get me riled up.

I think of the piles of clothes that accumulate in a week and just know bone deep we have too much. There is too much waste. It's too easy to let those ruined garments go because there is just so much still in drawers, stacked in clean laundry piles or waiting to be washed. The kids don't give more than a passing glance when they soil a shirt or drip on their pants.

They don't see it. They don't clean it. It goes in a machine and magically gets back to their rooms ready to wear. They have become divorced from the reality of clothes care. So, perhaps we scale back the clothes. Perhaps, we invest in a wash tub and wringer. Maybe the kids lend a scubbing hand and see just what it takes to get their clothes clean.

I'm still unsure, this might be one of those idyllic things that reality just isn't cut out for. Though, I'd like to have the tools on hand incase we loose power, something breaks or we head to the land for any amount of time. I'd like to hear others opinions on shifting to manual washings (especially with so many people!). Do you have a washer? Dryer? Would you rather not?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pompom garland and Unschooling.

I saw somewhere online a string of pompom garland. I can't recall where the inspiration came from so I can't site it here but I did want to say that this is not an original-me idea. After seeing it, though, I've been itching to make it for my girl's room.

Today, we set out to get supplies for our project. I've been trying to make a concious effort to school my kids where ever life takes us. It's a whole new approach that I have tried to embrace in the past though have never been able to get institutional instruction fully out of my head; Desks + tomes + quiet = learning. I've changed a lot lately. This is one place I think I'm succeeding.

We went to the store, gathered up our goodies, talked about money and budgets. I only had a certain small dollar amount to spend and I find being honest with the kids about where we stand financially helps them to understand I can't afford everything in the whole friggin store. We discussed coupons and sales, finances and how wages are earned, all while walking the aisles of the craft store.

When we left the next store didn't open for 9 whole minutes. For those of you without kids, let me just clarify that children are not patient beings. Nine mintues outside a store in the heat with five impatient people can drive you over the edge. So, we went for a walk.

We looked at the plants that grow outside the building. We picked a few flowers, saw some bugs. We watched a huge flock of birds at least a hundred feet up in the sky, circling. Something I'd have missed if I was head down, arguing with a three year old. This led to a discussion on scavenger birds, birds of prey and carrion. My oldest and I figured out how many minutes we'd have to walk one way before having to turn back if we wanted to get to the store exactly at ten. We mentally tried to factor in rate of walking and other scenarios like pace, leg length, if it started raining and if you ran into obstacles.

Who knew so much could be learned in nine minutes outside of Best Buy?

Then coming home I spied a neighbor had left some small pieces of a tree they cut down on the curb. They'd been there for days and I hated to see them get thrown in the trash. So, we went down the street and had log roll races back to the house. It beat gym class dodgeball, by far.

With the baby in bed and the kids cooled off with some homemade lemonade we set about making pompoms. Lots. And Lots. of pompoms.

The girls wrapped the special pompom shaper things with their chosen colors. And carefully cut them apart before I tied them together.

I'm a little sad to say they ended up abandoning me to the last of the pompom making.

But not before we talked about how many would fit in a twelve inch space if we spaced them by different intervals. How many we'd need if we wanted garland made X long. Then talked about what kind of patterns we could make.

It's saddening to me how much I have let slip by because of preconcieved notions on education. How much of my kids thought processes I've dismissed because I was too busy and didn't feel like involving them. It's wildly amazing to hear them problem solve and come up with ideas that I never thought of.

When I involve them in my whole life it's no difficulty to appreciate and be impressed by them. We get along better and problems work themselves out before I grow irritated and angry. They want to talk to me and learn and explore and play.

And there is no reason why it all can't be done together.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What I want to do.

My heart sings and my imagination flows with images of what I want to do. There is so much to be had out of life. So much to see and learn and do. I am malcontent to sit idly by. But the world is big, Huge, MASSIVE! I only have so much time. I only have this one small life.

I have grown irritated and bored with "normal". I have grown out of love with "average".

I want the freedom of blue skies above me. I want the easy laugh of a light heart. I want confidence in my path. I have to be true to myself. I have to work towards my goals. Not because they are odd or trendy. Not because the band wagon is headed that direction. But because my heart and head won't have it any other way. My spirit won't allow itself to die placated into the average normal life. I'm digging myself out of past preconceptions.

I want to grow food that nourishes my family. I want to tend animals that share our life. I want to raise humans that freely think and follow the paths etched into their growing hearts. I want to build a house, a home, a life that sings of purity and truth.

I want to live an honest whole life. However long that may be.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What I do.

Mornings are hard. My heavy lids wrench themselves open in slow measure when I hear padding feet on the almost century old wood. The creak of heavy doors casts the early light into my darkened room.

"Mommy. Mommy." I hear one of four kids calling me to conciousness. The reasons vary but it all means the same thing; time to get up. I dislodge myself from a warm cuddling baby and begin the day. I go downstairs, get breakfast ready, pour coffee and wait for my cells to realize we're vertical.

The dog gets fed and put out. The rabbits are greeted, noses sniffing, eager for their morning rations. They care little if I'm still in my jammies, which I often am. Thank goodness for privacy fencing. The sweet smell of crisp hay helps tingle my nose awake. The scent is it's own alarm. "It's Day" it tells me.

I turn on the light for the sprouts, water what needs hydrating. Turn on the computer and see who doing what while my blood pumps caffeine to my brain. The kids get sent upstairs to dress. The baby is up by now and munching his own feed.

The rest of the morning is a fast blur of cleaning, hanging laundry, dressing, making beds and playing. Lunch quickly approaches and nap time for the baby sometimes comes before I'm ready. When Max goes down school comes up. The oldest do math, reading and handwriting. We might do art or music, garden or cook. We almost always read. I always tend the garden on my trip to grab the mail. When the kids are occupied I check in online, research farm stuff, nutrition or building techniques, work on college or ASL. So many things to do.

The afternoon heat keeps us indoors for now. Summertime isn't fun with heatstroke and sunburns. Small jaunts out to blow bubbles or play with clay are just about all we can handle. I yearn for autumn -true Southern Autumn- when we want to stay outside forever and open the windows when we can't.

Dinnertime prep starts about four. Consulting the menu on the fridge saves much time. More playing, reading and tidying. There's always something to clean up in a small house of seven. Daddy comes home and dinner is served by six. Bedtime storytime has us all cuddling in someone's bed, taking turns reading aloud after teeth are bushed and jammies donned. Kisses and hugs are top priority before lights go out.

I take the quiet time to decompress, talk with hubby and do more reading and researching. Some sewing might get done, some baking or spinning. Or I might just shut off the day and go read until my eyes are too heavy for my facial muscles to hold open. Then I sleep as soundly as I can, up with little ones here and there, until I start it all over again the next day.

It might not sound like much but it's who I am everyday; boo-boo kisser, human, storyteller, chef, referee, gardener, bunny-raiser, sewer, spinner, teacher, guider, lesson-learner, maid, bug killer, laundress, wife, humanure enthusiast, blogger, mother, reader, writer, dancer, dog owner, friend, woman, dreamer, hoper, student, seeker. Following my heart and doing the best I can.

It's what I do.