Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yarn Along: Kid's Color Block Cardigan

I am in bed with something that could be flu, but I don't want to miss Ginny's yarn along again.  I have been knitting quite a bit, but I am just sharing my Kid's Color Block Cardigan today.

I used Billow, KnitPick's new thick and thin, bulky weight cotton yarn.  I love it, it is soft and the colors are beautiful. (I also entered a photo contest on ravelry with this project and another baby blanket that I crocheted)  I am surprised that the boys love this so much. They are taking turns wearing it, but officially it is Christian's sweater.  When Martinus tried it on the first time, he loved it so much he asked me if he could sleep in it, as it was soooo soft.
When I am not sleeping, or trying to sleep off this horrid flu like cold, I am reading a children's history book by Genevieve Foster.  I am sure all of the homeschoolers know about her, but she is new to me, and I love reading the history the way she writes it.  They call it horizontal history, or something like that, meaning that each book spans only a short period of time, but tells about what happened around the world. At the moment I am reading The World of Columbus and Sons.  I am sure we did this when I was a child, but I seem to have forgotten most.

And now I have to lie down again.  I am sure I will get around to most of the wonderful people that link up, but maybe a bit later this week. Happy yarn along!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Preparing for Easter

I have never decorated for Easter.  Growing up, I think we tended to roll Easter and Christmas up into one and celebrate both over Christmas.

But this year I decided to knit eggs and a nest.  I have knit a couple of prototypes, and I like this combination best - a dove grey egg in a straw colored (sisal rope) nest.  To remind us of the new life, Christ's Resurrection, and the new life we have in Him.  Easter is my favorite celebration.

Every year we remember the terrible events on the Friday night.  Yet, we know that it ends well, that it was all part of the Plan.  On Sunday, the women will find the tomb empty.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Big cat, meet little cat

We can still see you, silly cat

Last year a stray had kittens in our friends' garage, about two months before we left for South Africa.  I told the children that we could not take one, because we were going to be away for 8 weeks, but if it were not for our trip, we definitely could have taken one.

About 3 weeks after we returned, another cat carried her litter into that same friend's backyard! There must be something about that yard. The kittens were already about 4 weeks old, and this time, we picked one, and when she was about 8 weeks old we brought her home.  She is a spitfire.  Her name is Daisy.  She has been with us for about 10 days now, but today was the first time I had a chance to go out when the light was good, to take some pictures of her.

Until now we have kept her separate  in Melva's room, and I have been giving Patrys a lot of attention.  He has been sour, and limited interaction to hissing at the kitten and asking for his milk to be warmed a little. Please. Before he slunk out again.  He is starting to warm to us again, and occupied his spot on my bed today for the first time since the kitten came.

The photo session was very funny - he never really pounced, but he kept on stalking her.  Melva stayed close to Daisy to lift her to safety, but in the end it wasn't necessary.  Let's hope they become friends in future, or at least, that they each learn to tolerate the other's existence.  I am just glad we took her in.  She is so pretty.  He'll come around.

Friday, March 15, 2013

This morning on Town Lake

I intended to do a lot of schoolwork with Melva and Jean during spring break, and we did.  Melva does two online Math courses through The Art of Problem Solving, (pre-algebra 2 and competition math), and they did not stop, so we had a good incentive to just keep on going.  I am enjoying the history that we are listening to at the moment.  Jean read a book about "bugs", the first book that really caught his attention and had him running to his room during breaks to continue reading.  I am so grateful for kindle editions - without kindle editions he would simply not have been able to read that book.  If you are going to be visually impaired, this is a good age to be visually impaired in.

I read a similar book about mammals to the twins, that taught me more than I ever learned in biology.  I sometimes wonder what we did in school, how it all became so fragmented, and why I retained so little.  I guess it had a little bit to do with the fact that we were training for tests rather than learning for the joy of learning, but I do not think too much about that.  I homeschool because it is a lifestyle that suits us, with all our special needs and abilities, just so well. I love it.

Today we went to the park with friends. We spent the whole morning on the lake.  The twins made me very happy by repeatedly calling out "this is just like in Make way for Ducklings!".  (Yes dears, except this is Austin not Boston, and you are feeding the coots not the ducks. Bread, not peanuts.) Jean did a great job rowing on his end of the boat, I am glad to see that some of the training last summer carried over.  Melva and her friend spent 90 minutes unsupervised out on the lake, and saw swans, herons, egrets and American Coots.  We only saw the coots, and two different types of turtles that we still have to identify.  I also found an Acacia tree in bloom - apparently there are native acacias in Austin.  What a beautiful sight, the puffy yellow flowers, so completely out of place!

After 4 years in Austin I still got lost on my way to Zilker Park, but I blame it on the GPS.   I really knew where we should have gone, but listened to the silly machine instead of just driving there.  I have never driven to Zilker Park without losing my way.  If you know anything about Austin, you will know that that is really inexcusable, the park is like the heart of the city.  There is a hike and bike trail next to the lake, where cyclist might yell "there are way to many children out here!" in your direction now and again, but apart from that it is one of those places where I am happy.  I went there when we just came to Austin and we were still running on adrenalin.  I went there with my mother and my sister. I have gone there with dear friends.  Just a happy place, full of hipsters that I kinda like. (very handy hipster translator here)

And the weather? This is the time to visit Austin. Just perfect.

(Pictures taken with my iPhone, Hipstamatic app, Jane lens and Ina's 1935 film)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Once upon a time,

in a faraway country,

we had a dog.

(We loved visiting with him in December.  He came home as a puppy one week after we brought the twins home from the hospital.  He now lives with our dear friends, who have to adopt dogs every time someone moves to America.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Trying to blend in

Sometimes I do not write because I feel as if I have no pictures to go along with the words, and pictures reveal less than words, so they are easier to share.  Real people, who really know me, read this, and it is all they hear from me, and they know me, so my writing voice has to sound like my speaking voice.

Sometimes I do not write because I am too busy.

Sometimes I do not write because I am in a difficult patch, and a bit moody, and it seems wrong to sit down and write cheerily about crafts and such while I really feel as if parenting is far too difficult and all those people with clean, neat houses have their priorities all wrong.  They, too, should spend hours aimlessly browsing or taking pictures with their iPhones.

But tonight I have a few pictures to show, at least:

(The tablecloth was a gift from my mother, with printed South African flowers)

(Jacques' sweater was a gift from his mother, hand knit.)

(Wow, they are big!) A week or two ago we did not have bread in the house, and I have not replenished my pantry completely since we came back, so I had no bread flour.  Martinus was distraught - do we not have ingredients either?!  So I fell back on good old white flour, eggs, milk and butter.  And baking powder, of course. I used a scones recipe, but instead of making individual scones (by the time I started to panic it was 1 pm), I just made a big round scone and cut it into eights.  I know this is how many Americans do it, I have never seen it in this shape growing up.  We pulled out the good old Lyle's Golden Syrup and Marmite, and added butter and cheese.  Lunch!

Back in South Africa, walking though the aisles of the Spar, I felt so happy.  Everything I loved was just there, so easy, no hard thinking about what to do with it once I brought it home.  My sister bought me the syrup, in Namibia.  I found the Marmite at a World Market.  Today I found a site that sells many South African products, and decided to buy some Ouma Rusks, Mrs Balls Chutney, Iwisa Maize Flour (for breakfast pap, and it is not the same as grits, I promise you) and Handy Andy.  As if there isn't enough cleaning liquids in the US.  But I was on all fours under the kitchen table, yesterday, wiping up sticky brownie crumbs, and wishing that I had Handy Andy - just because I know how to use it.  I also bought some sweet chili sauce, Wellington's.  Because it really is not available here, and I eat it on everything.

In other news, we are buying a house!  The same one we saw in October and thought we could not get because we would not be in a position to close before April 2013.  We have signed the final contract, and the date of closing is specified as April 30.  We went back to look at it again, measured the rooms, and we still love it, I think I love it even more.  It may be our "forever house".  It looks big in this picture, but it is not that big - 2200 square feet (205 square meters).  Four bedrooms, two living areas and a breakfast nook next to the kitchen.
This is the view from the back of the house, that fence is part of an enclosed area behind the house.  (The Alpaca pasture?)  How funny, I never noticed the wires and poles when we were there, you get so used to them here in Texas.  It is a good sign, it means that you do not have to bury everything to prevent it from being stolen.

(As I write, it started to rain, and I hear some thunder.  What a rare treat to listen to thunder and rain in the darkness, when everyone has gone to bed but me and my poor husband who has a deadline coming up next week...)

And now I just want to show you what I have been doing with my iPhone, and Hipstamatic, my favorite app so far:

And these ones are spooky, but I like them:

 I like things that appear to be old.  I treasure the hand-me-downs from friends; I love to know that it had once been their mom's or an uncles', even the second hand homeschooling books with names written into them in the front gives me a sense of belonging.  Blending and mixing as much of the old with as much of the new as I can.