Sunday, 27 November 2011

Here Comes Santa Claus (two of them actually)

As much as I've tried to delay the appearance of the "Christmas Spirit" around here, it has arrived in full force! Don't get me wrong, I love the holiday season and all that goes with it. I actually enjoy the period leading up to Christmas more than the day itself. The baking, the decorating, the crafting, the visiting, the treats, the lights.......etc. I do, however, get burned out when it all begins a bit too early. I set a firm rule this year that Mommy would only tune into the Christmas songs when the calendar turned to December. Despite my resistance, Chi-Chi and Muffy are completely consumed with the holiday season ahead!

The majority of playtime in these parts centers around Santa and his elves. We have an extensive collection of "holiday attire" to aid the imaginative process, including two kiddie Santa suits, an elf costume and a Mrs. Claus costume. They have been playing this game for years (winter, summer, spring or fall), and I have to admit, it is so fun to sit back and quietly observe. This year they took their activities outdoors and converted our play-boat into Santa's sleigh. All was fine and dandy, until I found the little monkeys dumping my bucket of ashes and soot from the woodstove all over our yard! "Mommy, we are just delivering coal to all the naughty kids!!!". Sigh....thankfully there were no live sparks in that bucket!

A few years ago I knit them both a couple of warm and woolly Santa toques. These are dual-purpose hats - providing warmth from the bitter cold and adding a bit fun and magic to pretend play. Chi-Chi recently put in his request for a set of matching Santa mittens. Poor Santa's hands were cold! I love making fun little woollies for the boys! There is no doubt, these will get a lot of use.

Chi-Chi also placed his order for a new set of red pants, as he has outgrown those from the previous year. I popped into the fabric shop today to pick up some red fleece and came out with some silly fake fur in my shopping bag. Tonight I pulled out the scissors, some elastic and my glue gun. In no time, my two Santas were outfitted with fluffy new beards! They are hilarious! As I was settling Muffy down for the night, I found Chi-Chi tucked away in his bedroom, (aka workshop) decked out in full St. Nick attire. He was busily creating gifts for his loved ones. Although Santa is most often associated with the "receiving end" of the holiday, I'm witnessing the spirit of giving in my home. Both little ones are inspired by Santa's generosity. Chi-Chi's little handmade gifts truly melted my heart. He made Daddy "a set of French words to learn". I love that.

I caved in and played "Here Comes Santa Claus" for them tonight. Let the Christmas games begin (:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Owls (and Elves) in the Family

Bedtime in our house is one of my favorite times of the day. When the clock strikes 7pm, Chi-Chi and Muffy are usually snuggled up under the covers with Mommy or Daddy and a good book. I'm loving the coziness that the darkness provides this time of year. Bedtime seems to run so much more smoothly during these darkest of months. My husband and I usually "divide and conquer" when it comes to getting the little ones settled down for the night. We alternate every night and it works out quite well. This gives us some quiet one-on-one time with each child. I do cherish this special time with each of them as it is often a time of connection between us.

Both boys share my love of children's books, so bedtime stories are very much cherished by all members of the family. I do believe even my husband truly enjoyed reading the Little House on the Prairie series. I think he was pleasantly surprised! We just finished reading Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat for the second time. This is such a great read for little boys! It is full of adventure, comedy and good old fashioned boyish fun. It has a nostalgic feel to it, which took me back to stories of my own father as a boy. It represents the classic boyhood adventures I want my own children to live and experience......tracking animals, building camps, riding bikes, being curious about nature. This sounds like a lot more fun than the video games of today!

The book that currently rests on the night stand is truly a treasure - something I found at the thrift shop last year. If anyone has any information on this book, I'd love to know more about it! I still can't believe I snatched it up for $1.99. Its called "The Wee Folk - About the Elves in Nova Scotia". It was written by Mary Alma Dillman in 1953! I have the 1964 edition. It is a collection of the sweetest, most enchanting tales and illustrations I have ever read. The children love the mention of Nova Scotia in the tales. I swear, those little elves just might be living in the woods out back, the text is so descriptive and rich with detail.

With owls on the brain, we got up to a little bit of crafting, inspired by materials we collected on a nature walk. We spotted a bobcat earlier this week - likely the culprit in the missing duck and rooster mystery. We've been out scouting for tracks in the mud, so it was easy to collect bits of nature as we explored. I got the idea here at Five Orange Potatoes. We used "down" from asters and goldenrod that had gone to seed for the fluff. Alder catkins made great beaks and talons for our little owlets.

This was the first time I let the boys use the glue gun. In no time, they had moved on to more festive inspired crafts! It looks like the Christmas crafting has officially begun around here! It's a bit earlier than I had hoped...but I'm going to roll with it.

Friday, 11 November 2011

November Beauty

Although we are wrapping up another week, I'm still savouring the memories of my birthday last weekend. I will admit, it all began on a rather sad and grim note. The first foreboding clue was the discovery of a HUGE patch of feathers on my way to the coop that morning. The absence of Muffy's pet rooster Coopie, and our male runner duck was immediately obvious and left a sick feeling in my stomach. It didn't look good. I was overcome with guilt as I had forgotten to lock the pen door the previous evening. When Hubby and the boys arrived home from the rink, we followed the trail of feathers into the woods and came upon the grim discovery of Ducky's remains ):

Despite this sad event, I still managed to enjoy a fun and relaxing day. More and more, I find myself being a homebody. Instead of a night out on the town, I opted for a leisurely day at home, topped off by homemade cake and pizza by the boys. I had time for a nice long run and lots of knitting on the couch with tea. Perfection in my eyes.

With lots of sunshine this past week, the boys and I did some after school exploring around the property. I find myself really appreciating the beauty of our November landscape. The larch trees are really stunning right now as they prepare to shed their golden needles. They actually seem to glow in the late afternoon light. We have quite a few of them around here, and I always enjoy paying them a visit this time of year. My latest knitting project reminds me of them. I might just name it my November sweater.

We spent some time at the pond, catching tadpoles and throwing rocks (of course). The stillness in the air allowed for a mirror effect on the pond. The boys were tempted to jump into "the sky" as they admired the reflection. Thankfully, they did not follow through on that urge (: It's one mucky spot!!

Despite the greyness of this month, we are managing to discover and enjoy lots of November beauty. What beauty are you finding in your neck of the woods?

Friday, 4 November 2011

Buried Treasure

November is certainly one of the more grey and dismal months, but it has always been a favorite of mine. This probably has something to do with the fact that I was a November baby (: A little birthday goodness always cheers a girl up. Today I was treated to lunch with my parents and my sister. It was kind of strange to be together as a foursome - no husbands, no kids. I can't even remember the last time the four of us did something together like this. It made me feel like a kid again, out on a family outing. It's always great to find yourself in those moments where you feel like you are 7 , instead of 37!!

The sun has been shining most of the week, so we've taken our after school play and work outdoors whenever possible. The clocks go back this weekend of course, cutting those precious late afternoon hours even further. My garden is still very much a work in progress. Last spring I vowed that I would make great efforts in the fall to enrich the soil. I've carted in loads of cow manure, seaweed and fall leaves. I'm hoping I'll see a bit of payback on my efforts next summer. I can't say my new garden bed was a huge success this year ): It was feeling like a bit of a bust, until this week, when the boys and I got busy harvesting our very last crop of the season.

We dug for "buried treasure" and ended with a pretty hefty quantity of jerusalem artichokes (also known as sun chokes). This tuber is fairly new to our diet. I was introduced to it a couple of years ago through our CSA. I'm looking forward to trying out some new recipes. So far, we've been enjoying them raw - sliced in sticks with dip. The boys really enjoyed searching for them in the earth and were eager to have them included in their school lunch boxes. I'm betting there were some strange looks from classmates this week!

Anyone have suggestions for my artichokes?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

No Regrets

I tacked a few additional kilometres on my morning runs the last couple of days. I will admit that the Green Pumpkin herself indulged in one too many Tootsie Rolls on Halloween night. It felt so good to bag up all that candy at the end of the evening. I will send it to work with my husband tomorrow and the temptations will be gone (:

The Great Green Pumpkin was a huge hit in our home. I was nervous the boys would be feeling some regret in relinquishing their entire booty. The truth is, I let them have their fill just following trick-or-treating and I think they may have realized they'd had enough sicky sweetness. The allure and mystery of the Green Pumpkin was more enticing to them then a few dozen chocolate bars! I keep a small suitcase of treasures and trinkets for last minute gifts...etc. My husband refers to it as my "stash". In exchange for all those treats, the Green Pumpkin left behind a very teeny weeny Lego set, a dinky toy and a few thrifted hockey cards. I was initially worried they had unrealistic expectations, but it turns out I underestimated the allure of a $2 dinky toy! There were no regrets and no mention of treats from either of them!

So with the month of November stretched out before us, I'm in the mood to snuggle up with a knitting project. We've got the wood stove running full force these days and I love to spend the evenings lounging on the couch reading or knitting. Since it looked so great on Soulemama, I've decided to tackle an Annabel cardigan for myself. I have all my skeins dyed, but I'm still waiting for them to dry out! I pulled the last of my goldrenrod blooms from the freezer for this dye project. I regret not collecting more in late August, as I've fallen in love with this beautiful shade of yellow. In fact, I just completed a little goldenrod sweater vest for Muffy. He proudly wore his "Mommy Love Vest" to school today....melt my heart (:

We are all enjoying the cleansing effect of this crisp fall air! Thanks to the Green Pumpkin, we are back to our healthy habits.