I’ve had the great good fortune to be nurtured and supported by some generous and loving people during my time so far on this planet, and today is the day I say thank you to the caring women who’ve helped me become the woman I am. Without you, I never would’ve dreamed so big, endured so much, and insisted on getting so much from life. You’ve pushed, hugged, listened, laughed, become exasperated, dried tears, and loved me … sometimes in spite of myself. The moments in which I get it right with my kids, you are there in spirit and I am thankful for all you have taught and shown me. Women are not made mothers by the physical act of carrying and birthing children, but through the opening of their hearts to those who need to be loved. I’m both proud and humbled to consider myself part of this amazing chain, spanning from one big-hearted woman to the next. Thank you.
Yeah, I know – you should’ve seen the cobwebs I had to drag down to get back in here. Wow, that was a lengthy absence. And I do have the feeling that I might be talking to myself in this echo-ey virtual box, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.
First and most important, a big hug and hello to my dear and dearly-missed friends in Holland. Heidi, ever generous and talented to a fault – if such a thing is possible – gifted me with this stunning WIP roll (which I fully intend to display year-round!). I know that Heidi struggles with some serious health issues, yet despite her own discomfort, she is always there for everyone else. She’s a true role model to me and when I find myself feeling snappish, I try to channel the grace and humor that she always embodies. Thank you for a lovely piece of yourself to treasure, Heidi! And thanks to Rachael, I recently re-established contact with Annemarie and it was lovely to get an email from her. Back when we were all in Europe, we had the opportunity to all get together (with Harmien as well!). Although I haven’t mentioned Conny, I hope she knows how much I miss our cheery afternoons together.
I’ve made wonderful new friends, here, too. What’s that saying about friends of silver and gold? Recently Dawn was doing a clear-out and gifted me with some lovely stash. I am especially enamored of these wool squares – in my head, I’ve already made them into the most darling penny rug centerpiece. I’ve shown them on top of a pattern I recently purchased – need I say I’ve mentally stitched it up and picked the perfect frame and mat, and have it hung on my sampler wall?
Sadly, mental stitching is the only kind I’ve engaged in. There has been a great deal of stash-fondling however, as I begin packing for our move late this spring. If you have a horror of messes, turn away because the next photo shows the disaster that is our library and my stitching corner. Gasp!
When not stitching and making horrifying messes, I’ve been busy on the farm. Our buck bunnies somehow managed to make contact with the ladies despite being separated by cages and we have a dozen unplanned baby bunnies, including four absolute beauties from Mary Margaret and Arthur.
We had seven baby goats born on the farm this winter – six of them within a 24 hour period! – which kept us busy for a long time. All of the ones intended for sale have now gone to their forever homes, and I’ve met some wonderful new goat people. The day the last baby goats left, the chicks began hatching. Fingers and toes crossed for a successful hatching season this year. The first five Icelandic chicks have already been picked up and taken to their new homes. Two of the Muscovy ducklings that Mrs M surprised us with as winter set in also went to their happy new home today.
Our barn family now consists of two Silver Fox bucks and two Silver Fox does for outdoor rabbits (plus two lovely foster bunnies we’re taking care of for the rabbit shelter in Lamoine); Muscovy and Pekin ducks (with a couple of ladies who are neither but are part of the family); the Pilgrim geese; about 8 breeds of rare or heritage chickens; 3 buck goats (Nigerian Dwarf, Myotonic, and Spanish/Cashgora) and 8 doe goats (3 Nigerian Dwarf, 3 Myotonic, 1 Nubian, and 1 Nigerian/Spanish-Cashgora). I hope to pick up a couple of lambs and I have bought myself a birthday gift of a mini llama (yes, Niek knows, LOL!). The llama will not join the family until after our move to prevent undue stress (for all of us, not just him!) Here’s a bit of a family portrait, though many are missing from this lineup:
Don’t think less of me for mentioning the animals before the human children, okay? The non-feathered/furred kids are doing great and boy are they busy! Some days, I have no idea how we keep up with it. Niek made the joke to a fellow baseball parent that he’d turned into a soccer mom, which I found screamingly funny but the other parent was utterly bewildered. We enjoyed a cold but exciting Easter with plenty of eggs thanks to that aforementioned barn family, and the kids also set up a number of hunts and activities for Niek & I to enjoy. It was a weekend that I wished could go on for much longer – we all lamented the fact that the USA does not have a “tweede paasdag” like Holland does. You’ll notice that Arden is not as eager to pose for pictures – our littlest boy is growing up! He’s as jolly as ever, with an extra does of mischievousness now. LOL.
When there’s no family fun, mess-making, or animal husbandry going on, there is my new job. Not only am I learning so much that sometimes it seems my head must actually expand to fit it all in, but I also have the dubious pleasure of travelling – two days a week, I rack up over 200 miles each day. On the bright side, I’ve been to some lovely parts of Maine that I’d never before seen. And of course we must always look on the bright side, right?
To make sure I don’t get bored, I’ll be starting grad school in June. My first set of classes includes statistics, which I always swore I would not take again. On the one hand, I’m terrified but on the other hand, at least it will be behind me after this summer. LOL!
There’s been a little bit of baking and cooking, including some totally new-to-me stuff like this in my free time:
And so dear friends, if you’re still out there, we’re still here and we are really & truly living life to the fullest. Wherever you are, I hope the same is true for you. Best wishes, and thank you so much for visiting despite my lengthy absence!
Okay, so I’m not stitching at the moment but I didn’t want to let that get in my way of saying hello to everyone.
The past week has been one of those weeks that when you reach the end of it, you just take a deep breath and feel grateful to have made it to the other side. No ill health or losses like that, thank heavens, but some state-level budget restructuring that makes me deeply troubled … and facing unemployment. Our governor has decided to throw mental health and education under the wheels of the bus in his ongoing attempt to balance the budget. The district I live in has been especially hard hit – our entire department was wiped out – with more punishing blows anticipated. I have already put in for another job and it tentatively looks good, but I am very, very sad to see such a dedicated and talented group of crisis workers broken up.
On the bright side, Mary Margaret’s twins are doing so well and growing so much that I purchased a new-to-me larger cage (we call it a bunny apartment) for them. Max set it up for me today (do not trust me with illustrated instructions and tiny parts!) and the family is enjoying their new digs. Arthur likes having the love of his life nearer by.
Silverjacket and Maybellene are still inside. Winter storm/blizzard Nemo has given them an extra few days on the sun porch. I love how the kids have been enjoying and interacting with the animals during this period, and I’m deeply appreciative of the kids’ friends who are also enjoying it. We had one negative encounter when a friend of Rowen’s was denied permission to come visit due to the fact that we had a goat in the house, but other parents have been understanding and supportive and have even thanked me for being the crazy parent so their kids can enjoy the experience without having the muss & fuss at their own home. LOL!
Speaking of friends, Rowen celebrated her 9th birthday this week and had two of her best friends over for a slumber party. It was a lot of fun, and I’m glad that my kids have such great taste in their friends.
As mentioned, we did enjoy some extra attention from Mother Nature this weekend in the guise of a blizzard. Here at home, we feel like the last big storm actually dumped more snow, but Nemo was wild with winds approaching 50 mph that made the world look like a snowglobe in the hands of an unusually energetic two-year old. I had the dubious pleasure of walking in to work on Saturday morning against a headwind so strong that it seemed to take me three steps before I could progress even one. But I do love to see Mother Nature in her glory! Here is a picture of the tail end of the storm Saturday evening, and a few pictures taken as the sun set tonight.
Wishing you well, and I thank you kindly for visiting even if there are no stitching pictures to share.
That’s what I’ve been wondering. Or maybe I’m just a farmer who collects cross stitch patterns? On the phone with my father last night, he mentioned that it’s been some time since I updated my blog. True, I agreed. With this snap of incredibly cold weather, my free time has been taken up hauling water to the barn and keeping the livestock as comfortable as possible. By the time the kids are in bed, my normal time to pull out linen and needle, I’m just beat. Niek and I will watch an episode of something on Netflix (lately it’s been Annika Bengtzon) and then I tumble off to bed. Terribly fascinating life, huh?
The animals have needed and appreciated the extra attention, though, with nearly a week of temps that were considered ‘high’ if they topped the zero marker on the thermometer.
And Mary Margaret has enjoyed a comfortable and lavish laying-in following her delivery of two big baby bunnies earlier last week.
And Silverjacket has loved lots of playtime with her human-shaped goatie friends.
I even managed to get the Christmas tree down and out, and Max cleaned the living room up to the point I scarcely recognize it.
But of stitching, there has been very little done. I stitched up this wee rooster for a Valentine’s surprise for Niek.
And recent ebay wins of a couple of wabbit charts by Sheepish Designs has made me wonder if I should get to work on those for an Easter basket surprise for the family.
So really, as you can see, not much to build a blog post around. Life is quiet for a moment, and I’m enjoying it.
- and how are those New Year’s Resolutions coming along?
I had fully intended to blog on New Year’s Day after I got out of work, but I was whooped. Beat. Utterly exhuasted. I did put in a couple of stitches, however because I was going to duplicate last year’s WIP Challenge, working on a WIP every day for the first 15 days of the New Year. But then I got called in to work a few more times and … well, here’s where The Flood is currently stuck.
About the closest I’ve come to stitching since New Year’s Day is fonding the end-of-year stash that’s arrived in the mail. I tried to get a picture of it for you, but … someone else decided it was all about him.
To be fair, Spin may have a legitimate reason for honing in on any attention that can be gotten. See, we received a bit of a New Year’s surprise on the third of the month – Maybellene surprised us with a baby girl, a purbred Myotonic (fainting) goat.
The weather has been so bitterly cold – in the single digits – that we had to bring the girls in to avoid losing the baby. Even so, it was a little iffy until Niek managed to get the baby doe nursing from the mama. (He also bravely carried Mama Maybellene in from the barn, though thigh-high snow.) To honor his efforts, I asked him to name the baby and he finally settled on Silverjacket. I love it – it sounds like a princess from a fairy tale.
Today I thought it might be nice if Silverjacket and Maybellene could make the acquaintance of their neighbor, Arthur, who has a small 2nd floor apartment in their “inside barn”. Maybellene was not fully convinced that Arthur was a suitable playmate for her precious daughter so any future playdates will have to be supervised.
Arthur was totally cool about everything, as always.
So in closing, it might be easier to say what I haven’t been doing. I haven’t been stitching, as we’ve seen. Although I have taken down the cards and the Advent Tree, the Christmas tree is still standing and is fully decked out:
But it’s so hard to put all the beautiful ornaments away for a whole year! I also have not been cleaning. Sigh … I used to be such an amazing housekeeper. Spotless. I would actually polish the individual leaves of all my houseplants once a week. Seriously! I guess the anti-pod-people got me or something.
I have finished my first book of the year – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – and had the strange experience of actually wanting a book to be finished before it was. I liked the novel up until the second part and then … eh. I’ve also read The Peregrine Pact by A.J. Hartley with Nick and Rowen and found that to be a good bit of fun and well-written. It’s geared more to a tween audience, but the kids were able to follow along without problem and were only scared witless by one chapter (The Jenkinses, for those who’ve read it, LOL). I have made quite excellent progress with my January resolution, which is to go through and sort/discard/label all the old photos I’ve inherited from … well, everyone, seemingly. Five large boxes and a drawerful have been reduced to one small box of labelled photos and one envelope full of photos that I need help in labeling. Yay, me! Now to get them in a proper book so the kids can enjoy learning about their foremothers and forefathers!
Thanks so much for visiting! If your New Year is as overfull and busy as mine seems, I do hope that all your tasks bring you some level of joy and fulfillment! Best wishes for 2013!
It’s been an interesting year. I read 21 or so books, which is far less than usual. I know I gave Salt the highest score, but looking back over my reading list, it’s Stephen King’s book On Writing that seems to have made more of an impact (but I’ve also read it more recently so that may not be fair). Stitching went into a serious slump. I did manage to complete 25 projects, but nothing at all was stitched for both May and June, and only one project for both July and August. Thankfully, when Christmas loomed on the horizon, I found my mojo. I’m enjoying working on The Flood – and I’m loving how enthusiastic Arden gets whenever I pull it out: “That’s for me, right? That’s going to be mine, right Mama?” Also in 2012, Niek and I watched all episodes – in order! – of Dr Who (from the 9th doctor onward) on Netflix. I love Netflix, though I do complain a fair amount about them. Commercial-free viewing is all I can stand – the incessant ads on cable TV have me reaching for the remote to shut it off fast than you can say ‘mareseatoatsanddoeseatoats’. Also in 2012, I decided it was time to act on my long-standing interest in mental health, so I took a few classes at the local university which led to a job in crisis services, and I’m now awaiting notification of whether or not I’ve been accepted to graduate school where I intend to pursue a master’s degree in counseling. With the kids getting older, it seems a bit of personal enrichment/career re-direction can be allowed. If all goes well, I’ll be finishing my graduate studies just as it’s time for Max to go to college, Nick and Ro to start high school, and Arden to … do whatever wonderful things he gets up to. Speaking of those amazing kids, here’s a pic I stole from myself, from my first year of blogging at about this same time of year:
Well, Niek’s building a fire in the woodstove to take the chill off. I’ve got a ham & bean soup to make for tonight’s gathering of friends, and a squash and couscous vegetarian dish for the non-carnivores among us. Niek will soon get busy with the preparation of his Dutch delights: zalmsalade, oliebollen, apelflappen … and maybe a surprise or two thrown in. Our friends and their kids will brave the still-snowy roads to say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new one together with us, celebrating the bonds that keep us strong and enrich our lives so much. Wishing one and all peace, happiness, and good health in all endeavors!
PS: I feel like I should mention my favorite stitching project of the year, having mentioned favorite books, TV shows, etc … but it’s not really possible to choose a single favorite. I loved making the BOAF series into treat bags for the kids at the beginning of 2012. I was thrilled by Ro’s reaction to the La D Da “Old Crow” modification I made for her for Christmas. I loved the teeny Chartmakers series – with which I gifted dear friend (such an insufficient word for her!) Sara (pictured below). I had so much fun with Wash Day by CHS and Little Sampler by The Goode Huswife that I wound up keeping them instead of sending them along to others as gifts – oh, am I bad?! I was chuffed by how well my Sudberry box turned out for my father Jim and his wonderful wife Gaby (shown below).And I love that my Dad has a bright and cheery “Good Morning” wish (also below) straight from my heart to his eyes every morning when he has his first sip of coffee. I love how stitching brings us all closer, one little x at a time.
It’s very quiet here. We’re between snowstorms and Niek has taken Rowen and Nick to enjoy some sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing with friends during the lull. Arden, Max and I “enjoyed” some warming vegetable soup (some of us liked it better than others, with Arden graciously offering to share his with Spin the cat):
The snow has been magnificent. The kids have loved every second, every snowflake, of it so far. Rowen has devised her own Extreme Winter Enjoyment sporting category:
And she and Nicky created some jolly snowpeople to populate our lawn:
And for tiny people who might disappear into the snow, there are train tracks galore to set up, tear down, and reconfigure endlessly:
Wishing you the beauty and peace that I associate with this time of the year, as we all renew ourselves for the coming spring. May your travels be safe and may you always be accompanied by one you love.
What a wonderful day! We have a little bit of snow on the ground – just enough to make things pretty, without being slippery or needing to be shoveled – and I’m sitting by the woodstove while some homemade chicken soup fills the air with its delectable aroma. Today is Arden’s fifth birthday and we started the day with homemade blueberry cake (Arden’s request) and brownies (for those who were not here to voice a choice). Here’s Arden, hamming it up for the camera as only he can:
And here he is again, in front of our beautiful, twice-decorated (it fell down the first time!) tree. The tree is straight – it is the picture that’s crooked (this time, LOL!).
Our days have indeed been merry and bright. This is our biggest-yet tree. So big, indeed, that Max had to hang the lights this year because no one else could easily reach around the top. For a wonderful change of pace, here’s Max hamming up his big moment as the star of the show:
And once the nose-bleed heights were taken care of, the rest of the elves quickly joined in. Nicky didn’t like how Rowen’s jeans allowed for a bit of plumber’s cleavage, so he made me re-take the photo while he safe-guarded his sister’s modesty.
After it was done, my favorite ‘gifts’ of all settled down for a nice family picture:
Rowen also needed to pose with Peanut, her hamster.
Arden was allowed to open one of his presents this morning, which turned out to be a new Harold and his Purple Crayon book, much to everyone’s delight. Nick and Rowen immediately began reading it to him.
I have finished a little Bent Creek project, “Glad Tidings” from the Stoneware Wishes series. I love these charts! And this one really sums up how we’re feeling around here!
It was fun to pull out our Christmas decorations, many of which are handmade by friends far and near. <3
Our family has grown again, too! I joked that this is the first time in 15 years I haven’t been pregnant with a little boy so maybe that’s why this big fella followed me home yesterday. This is Arthur, a New Zealand buck who just adores being petted and loved.
And his future mate, Mary Margaret, consented to have a photo taken this morning as well:
So as you can see, all is well here at Chateau Chaos. We wish you and yours all the best during this season of rebirth and renewal!
Yikes, this month is flying! But what fun it’s all been so far.
We celebrated Sinterklaas on the fifth and the gifts were all so unique – the kids put more effort into it than I’d expected and I was extremely glad to get this celebration back on track in our family. It’s a bit of a toss-up as to who loved their gift most: Arden received a school bus package with an Etch a Sketch from Max and Rowen received a giant rabbit package from Niek that contained candy.
I was pretty pleased with my hat from Arden (with some assistance from Niek) with a poem from Arden Himself about my need to “keep my brain dry from the rain” and which sported a nifty pair of new barn gloves.
The poem Max wrote to accompany Arden’s gift was a little longer, as you can see here:
Less pleased was Nicky with his Timelord homework folder. He said he’d wished his Dad had gotten his name
My stitches came out on the 4th and although the Doc reluctantly agreed that my career as a hand model is over, I’m just glad to have use of the hand back again. Niek cut himself last night while chopping cauliflower, but thankfully it was more of a normal cut – painful, but not too deep.
I did some framing this week for Christmas gifts and got them sent off. I’m dying to share pictures, but of course I can’t. My skills as a framer will never put anyone out of business, but they were all done with love. I’ve since stitched two small ornaments that I need to finish-finish. The teeny one is a freebie from Nikyscreations (slightly re-worked in my interpretation) and the other is from Pineberry Lane.
We don’t decorate until after the Sinterklaas celebrations, but I did put out the lovely Advent tree that Sara made for us – isn’t it stunning? Obviously, I took the picture back on the 5th when I had the camera out. And those utterly adorable snowmen are handmade by Annie - aren’t they adorable? Watch out for her TDIPT Mercantile listings!
And to remember that we need to take time to relax during these busy but wonderful days, Flip and Twist once again wisely demonstrate how to enjoy some down time.
Thanks for visiting! Your comments and visits are always a joy!
It’s really been quite the week! We had our second bit of snow – but really, this seemed like the first snowfall of the year because the other one just took me completely by surprise. This was little more than a dusting, but it was beautiful and put me in more of a mood to enjoy our winter weather. I was especially looking forward to seeing the baby ducklings out there in snow – ducks are an absolute riot in snow! – but there wasn’t enough for them to really notice that it was any different from a heavy frost. The goats escaped that same day, though, which was a lot more exciting. No pictures – sorry! – we were too busy trying to catch them, LOL. But in case you’ve been yearning for a bit of bucolic beauty, here are some other recent farm pictures.
I guess the biggest excitement of all came as a result of trying to do some housework. Housework is dangerous and really should be avoided! I cut my hand on a chipped glass badly enough to require stitches. I went all woozy in the knees when I looked at the cut and realized I was looking inside my hand. Ugh. Blood doesn’t bother me, but I have no desire to see my insides. It started healing up very well, though – here it is after only a day:
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I popped a stitch on the 5th day (for the record, I was trying to catch an escaped goat). Note that it is difficult to take a decent photo of your right hand using your left hand, when you’re right-handed.
Trying to do anything has been a challenge, as I’m right-handed and the wound is in a spot that seems to affect any motions I make with my hand. I couldn’t cross stitch at all the first two days (not that that stopped me from trying), but then everything just seemed to limber up and the silly thing stopped bleeding every time I accidentally over-stretched it, so I was able to finish Hope 1727 by Chartmakers and I immediately began Faith 1708, the last one in this series. These pictures don’t please me. My new camera and I do not get along that well when it comes to taking photos of cross stitch projects. It’s a sweet little piece IRL and the 40 count linen (Vintage Pear by Lakeside Linen) has not been at all difficult to stitch on.
I put the last stitches into Faith last night. I changed this up a little because the dates just didn’t work for me. I’m always a bit puzzled over why we seem to think a design is improved by throwing in a random long-ago date. Here, I gently tweaked the blue “thing” in the upper left corner hoping to make it look a little more like some kind of bad weather, and added a sun. As in ‘faith brings sunlight after storms’ or something along those lines.
(Oh my heavens, those pictures look so crooked – you’ll have to trust me that they are stitched straight, LOL!)
I have a few Christmas projects yet to do, both stitching and finishing, but my big start for 2013 has already been decided upon: The Flood by Plum Street Samplers using the NPI silks on 34 count Legacy Linen. I used this linen (in a different color) when I stitched a CHS sampler as a wedding gift for Niek’s youngest brother, shown here, and I’ve longed for a legitimate ‘excuse’ to use it ever since.
So what’s my justification? Well, we are (fingers and toes crossed) moving to a house of our own in the spring and Arden will finally have a real room of his own, which I am decking out in a Noah’s Ark theme. I’m so freaking excited it’s ridiculous. But all the other kids had special rooms when they were little – Rowen and Nicky’s was the best, decorated in custom wallpaper by Niek and his brothers as a surprise – and it’s bugged me that Arden has been stuck in a bright pink bedroom that is actually more of an alcove off our bedroom. So … a justified excuse for that sumptuous linen and those scrumptious silks. More finger-crossing is requested from you in that this purchase goes though – as always, nothing is as straight-forward as expected and we are running into some little bumps in the road.
So what have I been doing when not stitching ,being stitched, or popping stitches? I’ve been hanging with the kids. Rowen’s been training her hamster, Peanut, to go through some mazes. My friend Joanna, who is an amazing teacher down in Florida, suggested Ro polish Peanut’s performance up for a classroom display of his prowess, and that has consumed all our free time this weekend. The mazes began as fairly simple constructions, becoming ever more elaborate, and they are now busy with a top-secret version for school:
Peanut and Rowen have a great cheering section, too. (Can you pick out which one is not a morning person? LOL!)
Thank you for visiting! Your companionship and comments always bring a smile to my face.