Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Snow in April

On the few nice spring-like days we had so far, Juliana has been riding her tricycle and getting very good at pedaling. She finally has long enough legs to make a go of it. Well, this week has brought us nothing but snow and cold weather. We are so sad about this. Just the other day I was praying before eating and when I finished Pieter asked, "How come you didn't tell God that he needs to make spring come?" Oh, I agree, little boy. It is really time. This morning the snow started coming down very hard at breakfast, adding to our already five inches from Monday. As Pieter and Ben shoveled the driveway, Juliana got busy. As far as she is concerned, nothing is going to hold her back from her spring activities of tricycle riding in the driveway!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bowls & Buttons

Pieter first coconut experience was in Mexico while we spent Christmas 2012 with Oma and Opa. Ben pulled down lots of nuts and we drank coconut milk and had the most wonderful shredded, toasted coconut for Juliana's first birthday. Yesterday, Ben brought home some coconuts and disappeared with Pieter for a bit while I was packing. Pieter came racing back inside with a handful of coconut buttons for me! They still need to be sorted by size and holes drilled, but aren't they beautiful? I think Pieter may have a little side business of button making for my knitting friends when we are in Puerto Rico!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kites and Cacti

{Plains pricklypear, Opuntia tolyacantha}

{Spikemoss, Selaginella}
Sunday afternoon we headed out to Crow Peak Bench. Ben needed to collect some cacti for another researcher and this arid land was the perfect place. Ever since Pieter flew kites on Lummi he is always wanting to fly some more. These wide open fields were just right for Pieter to run back and forth with the kite. Amazingly enough, he didn't get any spines through his boots. And he only dropped the line twice and the handle, thankfully, got caught in some scraggly bushes. We are really looking forward to our move to Puerto Rico, but it is so nice to visit these spots one more time to see such beautiful views of the landscape. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Collecting Sap

Ben is tapping the Silver Maple trees on campus as part of his botany laboratories this spring. He has been busy collecting sap and boiling it during lab. And the syrup is great!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Celebrating the Spring Equinox

Life is what you make of it. Oh, we've heard that before, but it is so true. As our family has grown and developed, it has been special to create memories and traditions. Some days pass by without celebrations or memories because of being focused on the here and now or being just plain, old tired. But when I take the time to do something or make something, the kids are noticing. There are many things that I do that are new to me, traditions that I never had in my life before, and somehow they are becoming traditions in our family. Like making Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. As our days have lengthened and we move through Lent, Pieter keeps asking about making them. He remembers and knows that this tasty treat is coming soon. 

My cousin Emily sent me some ideas for celebrating the Spring Equinox. We so enjoyed celebrating the Winter Solstice with her family in December that I decided we definitely need to have more active family celebrations that are thoughtful and special (here is a great list of reasons to celebrate). I spent some time looking for more ideas and found that celebrating the lengthening days of the sun is a center point of many spring celebrations, as well as the rebirth and renewal that is happening in the natural world. These celebrations of the Equinoxes and Solstices, that happened over so many centuries, were incorporated into many of our present day Christian celebrations. It seems to me that we are missing out by combining these, rather than celebrating them independently. How fun is it to celebrate the Spring Equinox, the rebirth of our world, with bunnies, chicks, and flowering bulbs and then to celebrate Easter in a few more weeks, with a sacred focus on the Risen Christ.  

Family traditions and celebrations grow and mature over the years. Rachel Probert says it just right: "I think the secret is to just plan something, anything, just to get out there and make the day memorable." While I may not have had something all set up, we talked about the Spring Equinox, that we had equal sunlight and darkness yesterday. And we celebrated the wonderful egg by eating egg crepes with sautéed asparagus for dinner. The day was beautiful, sunny, and 60 degrees. We found new tulip and daffodil bulbs coming up in the yard and found a few spring things for our table at the thrift store - a sweet spring linen with Bambi and Thumper embroidered on it and an egg candle. When we woke up this morning and saw more snow coming down, I declared that we would celebrate spring all weekend, no matter what the weather would be. Today we made spring cupcakes (red velvet cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting) using Papa's maple syrup and celebrated with them this afternoon.

Here are several ideas for celebrating the Spring Equinox as a family:

Light a candle at the dinner table. Each person should peel off the white shell, symbolizing the shedding of winter's hold on the land. Eat the egg white first, contemplating and being thankful for winter's role in our lives and in nature (a time of rest, hibernation and renewal). Hold up the egg yolk, symbolizing the sun and say:
The Sun is coming back,
And now that he is armed,
And now that he is strong,
He will chase away the cold,
He will bring us spring,
And summer is sure to follow.
(Emily sent this to me. The prayer is from Ceisiwr Serith.)

Creator God, forgive our moments of ingratitude,
the spiritual blindness that prevents us
from appreciating the wonder that is this world,
the endless cycle of nature,
of life and death and rebirth.
Forgive us for taking without giving
reaping without sowing.
Open our eyes to see
our lips to praise
our hands to share
and may our feet tread lightly on the road.
For the cycle of life
Which brings death and rebirth
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For lengthening days
And sunlight's warmth upon the soil
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For a snowdrop's beauty
Reflecting its Creator's artistry
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For new born lambs
Their joy and exuberance
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring

For all of creation
And the majesty of its Creator
A. We rejoice in the promise of Spring
~John Birch

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Remembering the Buffalo

Pattern: Kinsale, Size 4T
YarnCascade 220 Heathers, Celery
Needles: US 7

While making Juliana's Springtime sweater and looking for buttons for it, I found these buffalo nickel buttons in my button box. I knew I needed to make something with them right now for Pieter before we leave these beautiful plains that the American bison used to rule. We are so fortunate that these amazing animals were saved from extinction after the massive slaughter in the 1800s. One of our favorite adventures is visiting Custer State Park to see the herds of buffalo there. We still need to squeeze in another visit and now Pieter has a great sweater to wear. It is just the right sweater to remember our times in the Black Hills and to not forget the history of this amazing animal.

I love Cascade 220 and this was a gift from Genevieve, who couldn't bare to finish her partly knit sweater after someone spilled their yogurt and grapenuts on it at a coffee shop. So, I was gifted with the yarn and have really enjoyed making several projects with it. I thought this colorway perfectly matches the green-yellow plains that the buffalo graze on.

I knit the largest size of the pattern (4T) and added length (1.5") to the arms and body. I thought by adding more length, it would be just a bit bigger than Pieter, but it fits my tall boy just right. Not bad since he only has three more months to wear it before we say goodbye to sweaters.  

The pattern was straightforward, but it does have an error in it: when starting the sweater at the neck and increasing for the shoulders, there is an error in rows 2 & 4. For the first section before the first marker, it should be: "p1tbl, k1 until the last two stitches, p1tbl, p1." As it is written now, that one raglan shoulder at marker one has purls along the center seam when it should only be a knit stitch. Of course I didn’t notice this until I was almost done with the shoulders and had to redo the entire shoulders again.

Buffalo Dusk

The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they
   pawed the prairie sod into dust with their great hoofs,
   their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.

~Carl Sandburg

Larrick Crosby, Nancy. Piping Down the Valleys Wild. 
New York: Delacorte Press, 1968. Print.
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