Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It won't fit!

I still love the Fisherman's sweater pattern, and I am very sad to say that I will have to frog all of that knitting, because the sweater won't fit.  I know how important gauge is, I read the whole darn "The Principles of Knitting" and "Knitting Rules!" barely two months ago, both of them emphasizing the need to get gauge.  Yet I felt comfortable winging it.  Now I covet  a hank or 3 of Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool, because that would be a much safer yarn to try to wing it with, as it is more or less bulky, right?  If only I did not have too much yarn in my stash already.  Maybe if I knit size 10 it will fit the 4 year old?  ( I know how to do the math.  I just cannot get myself motivated to do it. Yet.)

About the books - I am not all that pious, I wish I were.

To be a transplant in all spheres of life, including your church, can cause some confusion.  Thus far we have been blessed with nurturing congregations, gifted pastors, and new points of view that challenge those that we grew up with, only to the extent that they are from a different angle.  It nevertheless requires some thought and study to bring my own thoughts and words in line with the words of the people around me, specifically those whom I trust.  (For clarity, I should perhaps say that we are now members of the  PCA)

I do not know exactly what I believed about prayer until now.  I think by nature I am a bit cynical; I also believe very firmly that everything is in the hands of God.  I did not grow up with specific prayer requests.  The Lord's Prayer was the example.  It never seemed necessary to be more specific.  Am I making sense, here?

In the 90's, a couple of tragedies struck in short succession.  My father and brother died, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer.  (He has been in remission for more than 10 years now)  I did not feel as if specific prayer was "effective" then, in any measurable way, apart from asking God to convince me that His mercy alone would be enough.  Actually having long internal debates, trying to convince God that it might not be, and then what?!  I know, it would still have been enough, but I was only 22 then.  As He promised, nothing could separate me from his love.

However, I fear that I might have become a bit cynical in terms of praying for anything specific.  This book, and I am only a few chapters into it,  may answer some questions.  I trust God to keep me safe, spiritually.  I just do not know how much more I should ask, since that seems to be enough.  So, in a nutshell, that is why I am reading "A Praying Life."

Once again, I am linking up with Ginny's yarn along.

(PS:  Yesterday it was 107 (41.6) degrees in Austin.  It is now after midnight and the temperature is 87 (30.5) degrees. Just sayin. It's not like I am trying to convince my whole family that this place is hotter than anything in South Africa. Really not.  Who would get involved in a debate about the weather?)

Monday, June 25, 2012

A pop-over halter dress

This dress did not turn out as bad as I thought it did.  When I finished it, the first time, it was far too wide - the dress was gaping at the back.  I undid one seam, removed 3 inches from the back panel (that was just a  rectangle), and also took 4 inches off the elastic, and now I think that it could work.  I was hoping that it could be a dress, but I have to admit - this won't work as a "real" dress.  It will be a dress for the beach.


If I make the pattern again, I will choose a softer fabric with more drape - my friend Leslie from The Seasoned Homemaker suggested cotton lawn.  I will also make it one size smaller (maybe even two), to see if I could get the neckline to a level where she would feel more comfortable. I think the white is perfect.

Pattern from: "Girl's World:  Twenty-One Sewing Projects to Make for Little Girls"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Things to do in Texas...

... when you are (almost) blind:

Stopping and looking at butterflies on flowers does not work.  But you can pretend to, and blend in, if you are a go-along-to-get-along kind of guy.


You can always look at the picture, later.


Scaling mountains is quite possible: since you never really know where the next obstacle will be, you are used to being cautious, so you will actually slip and fall fewer times than the more adventurous types.
Jumping into the river with the rope swing is a bit daunting.

But it can be done.  Someone just has to sit on the ladder and call you so that you know where to get out again.

(Without his glasses he cannot see a thing.  If he opens his eyes and closes them quickly, he has a couple of images to work with, but he usually uses sound and touch in bright light, outside.)

Rowing does not come naturally, but after some explanation, he got that too.

Last weekend we went with a friend to a house next to the Frio River, near Leakey, TX.  It is about 3.5 hours away, but well worth the drive.  Summer is very tolerable if you spend it in the water, and being invited along to a friend's friend's house was a wonderful treat.

All four of them.  I remember our neighbour's mother in South Africa telling me that these are the best times.  While you can still cover them with one blanket, parenting is at its easiest.

 The babies, as we still call them, can both swim now, and both had the courage to jump into the water.

Martinus is definitely the more emotional one, at the moment.

 He is not crying because he is scared.  He cries because he wants to jump off the table on the deck, like the big children, and not only off the deck. (Or in his words, because I won't let his dream come true.  "His dream" being to jump off the table, and not the deck.)


Dad thinks up a new game:  let's pretend we are fighter airplanes, and mom is an enemy ship, then we swing over the water and shoot the enemy.  Here he is Admiral Nimitz giving orders to "The Red Duke"


Amelia Crash-a-lot, unintentionally aiming at the Admiral.

He makes a narrow escape.

We came home after the week end totally unprepared for the week ahead, with heaps of laundry and several play dates lined up, so I barely had time to sit down and sort through the pictures and write about them.  I guess it is almost always like that - the more you do, the more there is to show and tell, and the less time you have to pen it down.

Summer is now in full swing.  The older kids are doing a morning choir camp next week, I am looking forward to spending some time with the twins.    I am also looking at the next school year - as we are planning a second summer, we cannot stay idle for too long.  The twins actually know their alphabet, and they can do simple math, so I want to see what we should plan for them for next year. In the mean time, I have baked pita pockets, and we made our own butter!  But I did not take pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  It was delicious, and much easier than I thought.

And about the 52 projects - I think I am actually on track.  I'll take some pictures soon!

Friday, June 22, 2012

{this moment}

Joining SouleMama

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This time, sweaters for the boys

Joining Ginny from Small Things again:

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
(from Samuel Taylor Colerige's Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner)
I have been in the knitting doldrums for two weeks now. I decided not to buy any new yarn before I shrink my stash significantly, and then I started to feel sentimental about the yarn, thinking about what else it could beThis yarn was bought for Max, the t-shirt for boys in "Knitting in the Sun" by Kate Oates, but I lost my enthusiasm for it.  Once I had the yarn (that was more expensive than what I usually feel comfortable with for the boys), I felt as if they would not, to their credit, want to wear it once it was done.  (No offense meant to Kate, I love most of her designs!)  
So instead of knitting, I have been sewing, with not much Erfolg, as they would say in Germany.  More about those unfortunate garments later.
Traveling to our weekend destination next to the Frio river, I picked up needles again and started to knit a gauge swatch with my Madelinetosh Sock yarn.  It is an addictive pastime, I really love to knit and I missed it.  The gauge did not work out, I still need a project for my lovely sock yarn (not socks, I want to knit something that you will see with that beautiful yarn), but I started to look in earnest for a pattern to knit with my Rowan Handknit Cotton.
I found Fisherman's pullover.  I think some who yarn along have knit it, I have always loved it, and I know it should be knit in bulky yarn, preferably wool - but we live in Texas.  And the way things appear now, we will be in the Western Cape this December, and a light sweater is always handy at the coast.  So far I love knitting with the yarn, and I love the pattern.  I'm learning just enough to make it interesting, and since it is knit in the round I can fit it while I go so I will know soon enough if my calculations are correct.  Calculating the right size involved going one pattern size up since the yarn is one number thinner. Impressive, hey?  I am planning to add three rows of dark blue at the ends of the sleeves and around the bottom edge, since I think the simple lines of this sweater will look better without stripes.
And keeping with the nautical theme, we have been listening to Commodore HornblowerJean loves the stories, and while it is not strictly children's literature, it is suitable for him, now.  I love the vocabulary that he is building.  I know that it is not historically accurate, yet I think it will at least provide some context when we study the Napoleonic Wars later this year. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Barbeque - actually, "braaivleis"

We did celebrate again.  The day was filled with a lot of excitement - they are working on our street, and first they sprung a gas leak right in front of our house.  Then, while fixing the gas leak, they broke the water pipes. I was laid back today, so I just laughed and let the boys look at all the fancy machines, but on a day that I actually had to get things done it would have been pretty frustrating.  The men were all very polite and apologetic, and the gas and water was back on by 5 pm, so it wasn't a disaster.  Later, when I fetched the mail, I met some neighbors in the street who still did not have gas.  They were all on their way to eat out.  The Mayor of our little city actually lives across the street from us, so I told her that we are making a fire and that I know that there is a burn ban but that we will be really careful.  She gave us the go ahead.

We made the fire with logs and branches that keep falling from the Ceder Elm trees in our yard.

 I marinated the meat and the onions in a mixture of red wine, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic.

We made a table out of the stack of pavers (cobblestones) that is waiting for someone to come and pave with them. (We are just renting, the owners of the house decide every now and then to do something to the property, but it does not always happen as soon as they said it would).  Most of the time I find that an endearing trait, especially as it makes me feel less inadequate for not always keeping up with the schedule!

Now that, dear Americans, is braaivleis.  Do not get me wrong, I like hamburgers and brats as much as the next person, but this is what my mind conjures up if someone says "barbeque". 

An artsy perspective, to show off my pretty bowls, a gift from my sister.

The children sat on a blanket to eat, we just sat on chairs and ate with the plates on our laps.

It was a good celebration, with our family, at our house. Just the way we like it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What day is it again?

I had a crazy day.  We woke up, got breakfast ready, called Jacques, and gave him his present, sang to him, the whole deal.
Later the day, I made him eggs and bacon for lunch, and told him to go phone his mother, because she cannot get hold of him easily, and one should phone your mother on your birthday.  I was just sticking the birthday cake in the oven, when he came in from his office (at home), and called us all together to tell us:  that it was not his birthday.  Tomorrow is his birthday.  We had the date wrong, his mother just told him that.  As in, we thought that it was the 7th, and it was actually 6th.  That was very funny, I am still blushing, but at least he got it wrong too, and he has a job where you kinda need to know the date, whereas I am just a stay-at-home mom, you know. Does it surprise anyone that we both regularly forget our anniversary?  It is not that we do not want to celebrate, or that we do not treasure tradition; we are just not really focused.  Now should we celebrate again, tomorrow?  And who wants to turn 40 twice??

So, with all the celebrating, I did not have time to take pictures of the puerperium that I finished, but I still want to share the dress Melva knit for her bunny, on #2 needles.  She blocked it and seamed it, too.  To think that 11 years ago, she was just born.  I love watching them grow!

For reading, apart from the children's literature that I am devouring via the iPod, we started a summer Bible study on the Beatitudes today, with John Stott's study guide.  Does anyone else find the passage daunting?  It should be so simple, I know.  I hope to learn a lot with dear friends from a previous congregation.  I think I will try to be quiet, just listen, for a change...

Happy yarn along, dear yarn along friends!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Krause Springs

We have been out all day, I should be picking up and finishing dinner.

But isn't this amazing?  Another gem 30 minutes from our house.  You have to pay a bit to get in, $22 for five of us, but it was worth it.  The temperatures are are around 94 now, but the water is very cold, straight from a spring, so we were comfortably chilly.  Those are Cypress trees, they line most of the creeks here.  Can you see the rope swing in the background?  It is almost as if we are on vacation in a strange country...  I am so glad I finally started to get out a bit.  Maybe it is because the children are bigger?  Or the fact that we met several families we know well there, and I did not feel like the stranger anymore? It is very likely just something in my head that changed, but I am very grateful, anyway.

This weekend we went driving

If you live where the wildflowers grow, you need a flower press.  I made one on Friday, and have hardware to make another one soon - it is very easy.  This weekend we took our flower press and drove out to Llano, west of Austin.  The Texas Hill Country is beautiful right now, it looks as if someone spilled yellow paint over it.  Temperatures are still in the low 90's, and it seems that everyone is outside and making the most of it.

We stopped to take some pictures, and get some flowers for the press.  And then the car would not start up again.  The battery was dead - we left the car idling, but for some reason the battery died anyway.  That meant that we were sitting next to road for about 90 minutes before someone pulled over to help.  Cody got out of his old truck (bakkie), and jump started the car in 2 seconds.

I sometimes wonder if having roadside assistance does not make us worse .  I am sure everyone assumed we had road side assistance, and we had, but they were taking their sweet time to come and assist us.  Cody made a big impression on us - from now on, we will pull over if at all possible, and I hope these little guys will do the same one day when they have their own trucks. (How do you foster a kind heart?  My dad always, always gave beggars money.  Even when we did not have anything to give, really.)

When we thanked him, Cody just said (in his beautiful Texan accent):  "Well (wee-ell), when I saw the little children and the hood up, I thought there must be something wrong.  If I were stranded next to the road with my wife and children, I sure hope someone would do the same for us".   I hope so too, although - Cody looked like the kind of guy that, provided he had a rubber band and a hairpin, could fix any car trouble by himself.

Despite the incident, it was a lovely trip.  We had lunch at Cooper's Barbeque (yes, you really eat off sheets of paper!).  The meat was excellent, and we are slowly getting the hang of eating at these places.  I even managed to make me a sandwich, with pickled Jalapenos.  (See that huge tub - it is full of pickled Jalapenos)

While we were driving we listened to the "Old Yeller" audiobook.  Fred Gipson, the author, lived in Mason, a small town 35 miles from Llano.  It is an experience to listen to the story while driving through the part of the word that the story was more or less set in - seeing the lovely Live Oaks and the Mesquite trees that he describes.  In Mason, in front of their library, they have a statue of "Old Yeller".

 He is the kind of dog that makes me want to get a dog against my better judgment.

The boys would surely love that.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bull Creek

This week we started with what I hope will be a series of day trips.  We have never been fond of leaving the house on a whim, it is very hard work if you have small children and if you,well, do not have everything in place the way you maybe should have.  And we like being home, eating late breakfasts on Saturdays, maybe getting something done by late afternoon in the shape of a lawn mowed or a tree trimmed.

But with summer upon us, we have 100 Saturdays stretching before us, with no family obligations. So I thought we should perhaps leave the house now and again, before we all go stir crazy.

We have a book with a list of hikes in and around Austin.  We have lived through three summers here, and two of them were brutally hot and dry.  During the third one we were eaten alive by mosquito and chiggers. I have almost lost all interest in trying to find something to do outside from May through September. It has all been so hot, dry and bright that we could not enjoy it, not even with the best attitude.  I have started to distrust anyone who told me that it can be different, that you just have to get out at the right time, and go to the right places. 

 I know, it looks like torture, doesn't it?

I'm not going to lie, it was still very hot! 

But I remembered to pack something to eat, and we had a lot of water in our backpacks, and if we had our suits, we would even have been able to swim.  Finally, we had a successful outing.  This trail is right in the middle of Austin.  We have driven past it before, not knowing that it was there.