Thursday, November 20, 2014

Because I "Have Time" Now for Mending

My school-aged kids attend school now, in case you missed the update.  That being said, I have a lot more time for things that I've been somewhat content to ignore for many years.

Case in point:  Mending.

Of course, the moment I spent a bucket of cash on school uniforms, all the girls started literally ripping through their other clothes.  I am determined to not buy clothes while we're here in Australia, mostly because I'm trying to save money to buy massive amounts of winter clothing when we land back in the States in the middle of winter, and also because most of the clothes that are wearing out are old, and on their last recipient (Junebug).

However, I have a thing about throwing away fabric.  I can't do it.  If we were home, I'd launch all these into the fabric stash pile, to be used in some fashion in a future sewing project.  But we're not home, and I'm not going to transport ripped clothing halfway around the world, so I decided, since I "have time" now, to see if I could fix the offending articles.

Armed with a few Pinterest images, and some handy how-to from The Beating Hearth, I mended this pair of Junebug's pants, backing the hole with her "favorite" fabric that I'm using in her Star Spangled Diamonds quilt.  I extended the darning out quite a bit, as the fabric of her pants is very thin throughout the entire lower leg.

Pleased with my progress, I tackled a pair of Bluebird's pants, which still have to last through two more girls:

That one didn't turn out as well; I should have cut away the loose threads.  Ah, well.  I'm amused by the "Utah-shaped" darning.

Inside shot:

I'm still learning, but I've managed to save two pairs of pants with my mediocre skill!  That's a skill in which to invest!  I'm unsure about the weaving part when you're done with the lines of seems unnecessary.

Of course, mending takes time, which meant I wasn't able to work on my other creative projects as much as usual, so progress on those was small this last week.  But I saved two pairs of pants, which is totally worth a little delay on extra-curriculars.  (At least, it's worth it to me.)  Also, it's surprisingly satisfying to mend clothing.  Maybe I'll try to unearth some articles out of the stash pile when we return home?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two of a Kind

Oh, my knitter heart is very happy.  Not only do I now possess a new pair of handknit socks, but they're made from yarn sent by my wonderful best friend, AND the self-striping matched up perfectly!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

I busted out an old pattern for these--the first sock pattern that I ever knit, actually:  Diane Soucy's "Easy Lightweight Beginner's Socks" pattern.  I made my first socks with it, three years ago.  Sadly, that pair of socks wore out earlier this year, after many, many times of wear.  These replace those.

The yarn is ONline's "Supersocke 4-fach" in the "Neptun" colorway.  The thing I've enjoyed with people sending me sock yarn is that they choose the colors, and the colors are different than what I would choose.  It was fun to knit these up in a colorway that I probably wouldn't have chosen myself simply because I tend to choose other things.  I really liked this colorway, especially how the turquoise-y part ended up on the heels.  Mmm, turquoise heels.  It made me smile both times it happened while I was knitting them.

Of course, I won't be wearing these in any regular fashion until we return home, because it's wicked hot here in Queensland.  (Summer has a way of being hot, doesn't it?)  However, I couldn't resist the urge to take a quick photo of my newly-finished socks against the palm tree backdrop of our backyard, even though it's kind of ridiculous to wear wool socks for any amount of time when it's 93 degrees (F) outside.  This finish is far more suited for my permanent residence, which saw its first snowfall this past week.

Whatever.  It's 90-something degrees in November, I have palm trees in my back yard, and a fresh new pair of handknit socks.  Life is good.

(He keeps stealing them because they make "great dancing socks.")

Monday, November 3, 2014

Half of a Field of Stars

Last month, I set the goal to finish piecing up the rest of the stars that made up the second quarter of this quilt, AND attach them to the first completed quarter.  I knew it was a lofty goal, but the idea of being "halfway done" with such a time-consuming project meant a lot to me.  I needed to be able to say it was halfway done...I've been working on this since May, which means I've been staring at it for five months, which is a very long time to work on something and not be at least halfway done.

Michael's been gone for two of the weeks in October, with one little week back home in between.  Free time has not been easy to find this month, especially with the extra tasks that accompanied getting the girls' uniforms, shoes, and other necessary items they needed to begin attending school.  And then you'd think I'd have buckets of free time once they were off learning elsewhere; but, no, I turned my attentions to cleaning the house...because it really needed some love and attention!

Nevertheless, I made time each evening to work on the quilt after the kids went to bed, and behold:


But not really, because I've realized it needs another column of stars to be symmetrically pleasing.  Ugh.  Oh well, it's not difficult to fix.  Just more time.

I hesitate to make any goals for November simply because I'm a little burnt out on this.  I'm also a little burnt out on the Peacock Stole, which hit its own halfway mark a few days ago as well.  Long-term projects...oi.  I really want to make something Christmas-ey, but I have no sewing machine or any real idea of what I'd make anyway.  (Oddly enough, I DO have Christmas fabric.)

I think I'll focus my efforts on my Soothing Socks for the next while, and once I get to feel the high of having a finished project again, I'll sit down and set a goal for this in the time remaining in November.  Off the top of my head, I'd like to finish at least half of the next quadrant, so...six stars.  That's what I'll shoot for, six stars in November.  Then I can attach it and actually see how long the quilt is going to be!  Yes, that will do nicely.  Enough work to keep the interest alive, but also take a bit of a much-desired breather.

Junebug is very happy that it's HALFWAY DONE, and could not wait to model her favorite stuffed animal on the quilt.  Cute girl.  Cute quilt.

Friday, October 31, 2014

And Then I Sent Them to School

For Halloween I thought they'd enjoy school uniforms.

And going to school.

All week.

It's official:  The Brookelet girls are attending a private school here in Australia.  It just got too hard to live abroad, handle the extra responsibilities of Michael's career taking off, AND homeschool.  A family in our ward sends their children to a tiny private Christian school and the mom had lots of great things to say about it, and, coupled with how fast our rental home was starting to look incredibly dingy, I thought it might be worth a go.

I sent Bluebird to Kindergarten for three months back in 2009, and hated every minute of it.  This time around...lo-o-o-o-ve it!  Of course, it's only been a week and we're still honeymooning in regards to it all, but it's been nice.  (Also, in 2009 I sent her to school because I was pregnant,* which makes any good day kind of hard for me with all the morning sickness.)  I have time for chores, the laundry is caught up, the kids have something to do all day long besides annoying each other and trashing the house, and they really love the extra-curriculars (sports, recorder lessons, violin lessons) at school.

Candy Corn Rice Krispie Treats

Halloween isn't really a thing here (some people do stuff, but most don't), so on Friday I made them some secret Halloween treats and hid them in the bottom of their lunch bags.  When I picked them up from school, they were pretty happy with me and my mad treat-making skills.  It's great to have time to do some of those "extra" things with them.  I've not sewn Halloween costumes, or gone all-out on holidays, or made special meals for anything all these years because I don't have anything left to give at the end of the day.  This decision to send them to school feels healthy.  I get to just be a mom now, and it's wonderful.

Ghost berries!
Saw the idea here.
(via Pinterest)
I don't now yet what we'll do about school when we return to the States, and I'm not going to worry about it until we return.  Maybe this is just a sabbatical year off from teaching; maybe it's a year to realize a different direction for our family for the next seven years.  It'll all work out in the end.  I do think I will insist upon Latin and Logic as afterschool topics, should we choose to stay with sending them to school.  And there's always summer break to do some unit studies!  We'll see.

For the time being, I'm loving their cute little uniforms, and how Junebug waves to me as she trots to the playground each morning, pausing at the entrance gate to yell, "Bye Mom!  I love you!  I hope you have a good day!"

Life is good.

*(For the record, I am NOT pregnant.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Laundry: Act 2, Scene 666

You already know about my wonderful "hang dry everything" laundry predicament, and truthfully, I don't mind it that much now that it's part of my routine.  The difficult part about the line-dried laundry now lies in making sure it gets taken off the line before dark because dark equals lots of interesting animals that I'd rather not see or experience; not to mention that those aforementioned animals make a habit of defecating on my laundry if it's left out at night.

The problem is that I have four young children and my attentions are usually distracted when it comes to the evening hours, thus requiring me to steal out into the darkness on a regular basis and frantically pull down the laundry before any fauna notices me.

Tonight was no exception.  I remembered the laundry on the line an hour after sunset, gave a loud sigh, and trudged over to the door leading out into the "laundry pavilion" on the side of the house.  I squared my shoulders, flipped on the outside light, and strode out into the night with my trusty laundry basket on my hip.  I settled into my choreography, plucking off clothespins and placing items into the basket like a well-rehearsed ballet scene.

And then the bugs found me.  Because bright porch lights in the dark invite bugs, and warm bodies by bright porch lights are freakin' cake.  (Insert frantic slapping at mosquitoes into my choreography, along with the lovely buzzing that mosquitoes make as they whizzed by my ears.)

And then the moths found me.  Which doesn't sound like a big deal, but we're not talking little papery moths that flit towards light bulbs; no, we're talking about solid-built hate-filled dare devil moths the size of my hands.  I've had encounters with them before, but mostly just by accident and I think they were more afraid of me than I was of them, despite what my screaming and running away would lead you to believe.  I don't know what particular genetic strain tonight's moths were, but they did not like me at all, and they wanted me to know it.  Urgently.  And with great force.  (Insert hand flailing and stifled sobs surprised gasps while moths dive-bombed my face into the choreography.)

And THEN the lightning started.  Lightning!  What an artistic touch to an already ominous scene!  Lightning also makes it easier to see all the bugs swarming around yourself while trying to extend your precious appendages to tear laundry down from the clothesline.  Oh, what a blessing.  (Increase tempo.)

AND THEN I noticed, in the next burst of lightning, the flock of bats fly over my yard.


I can do bugs, and darkness, and a little bit of lightning, but I don't do bats.  My laundry and I fled to the safety of the house, and the abandoned laundry on the line can just rough it out overnight.

Of course, the mosquitoes followed me into the house, so I had to spend the first few minutes inside smashing them on the walls where they landed, so now I not only get to look forward to re-washing laundry tomorrow, but also the much-adored task of wiping mosquito guts off of the walls.

My life is a horror movie.  Happy Halloween from Australia.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Our Trip to Australia Zoo

Michael had to fly back to the States again, but this time his flight left from Brisbane instead of Sydney, so he threw together a weekend in Brisbane for the family so we could go to the Australia Zoo.  The Australia Zoo is Steve Irwin’s (“The Crocodile Hunter”) family’s zoo, so it was a pretty interesting little place—half awesome animal experience, half tribute to a great wildlife conservationalist.  It’s a very nice zoo; and that means a lot because I don’t like zoos—animals aren’t my thing, and that’s OK with me.  However, my kids like them, so I’m stuck visiting them often.

What’s really cool about Australia Zoo is that it’s very interactive.  There’s lots of informational presentations with the zookeepers throughout the day (like, every thirty to forty-five minutes) and there’s a surprising amount of places where you can actually touch the animals.  (So much better than walking fifty-three miles in the sun to stare at animals sleeping, which is what a trip to the zoo back home feels like.)  It’s a very well done zoo, I tip my hat in admiration to Australia Zoo.

You can hold koalas, and most of the kids did hold koalas, but I wasn't with them when it happened, so no pictures of that.  I'm getting over a nasty cold that I caught from Monkeyboy, so by that time of the day I just hung out by the gift shop until I didn't feel like dying anymore while Michael took those who were interested to one of the farther-away corners of the zoo.

I was, however, on-hand when we went to see the kangaroos in "Roo Heaven":

And, in true Crocodile Hunter fashion, there is a wildlife show at noon, featuring a variety of animals, but most awesomely, crocodiles:

We had a really good time at Australia Zoo.  It was a good weekend together, and we learned a lot about many different animals.  Highly recommended experience.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peacock Pride

It's already been a month since I last showed you some Peacock progress!  What?!  I'm quite certain it was only two weeks ago, but the blog doesn't lie.  Time is flying.

So here it is, after three months of consistent attention.  I am finished with all but the last chart, and when that's done I'll pick it up and start all over again for the second half.  I'm pretty pleased with myself right now.  Slow and steady, slow and steady.  I don't think people tend to use those words to describe my crafting, but they have to now, mwa ha ha ha.  Expectations, shattered.  Lookee me, I'm, like, responsible and stuff.

Isn't Penguin so cute?  She was super happy to help "model" the stole for its photo shoot.  Her missing teeth on the sides of her two front teeth crack me up.  Growing girl.

I've reached the point where I am getting kind of tired of this project, so there's no magical progress moments where I feel like knitting any extra beyond my daily amount scheduled.  However, I'm ridiculously pleased with the fact that this thing is growing, so I just keep knitting my pittance of rows five days a week and then rejoice over the stole's progress.  Isn't it funny how you can be absolutely psyched about something, but really not look forward to the work you have to do to make the cool thing happen?  I guess that's what we call laziness, and it explains a lot of the problems we have in the world from time to time.

This section is brought to you courtesy of the month of October.

I've scheduled some time off from this in November, after I finish the first half.  When I put that break in the schedule, I wondered if it was wise, but now that I'm approaching the midway point, I'm so glad that I gave myself some time off guilt-free.  Just a week or two, but it will be needed.

Yay for slow and steady!