Jenny from Wildwood Cottage has given me a Nice Matters award. Let me just say I am very touched by this, especially coming from her. Jenny is the mom to one adorable two-year-old girl, and they spend their days together reading great books, enjoying nature (especially birds), and doing tons of interesting and creative activities at the kitchen table and beyond. And the best part is that she blogs all about it so I have another mom to look to for inspiration and ideas. So thank you Jenny, for the award and for sharing your adventures with us every day :)
Now I get to pass it on to five people. OK, I will try not to just copy all of the wonderful people on Jenny's list, so here we go:
Melissa from Tiny Happy is just delightful. Her blog is bursting with color and creativity, and she is never too busy to answer a question or make a kind remark via email. She took the time to post, for free, her own clever handbag pattern, my version of which is my current favorite purse. Melissa lives in New Zealand and is looking forward to spring with the same fondness that I am awaiting autumn. Ah, seasons. And she also has two adorable children.
Taimarie from Small Wonders also has a beautiful blog. She writes so lovingly about life on her farm in Canada, it's like a trip to the country with every click. She is also a mama to one adorable boy who looks to be thriving in his world. And her handmade crafts are a joy to behold. She is deserving of a Nice Matters award for all of the times she has popped in to leave an encouraging comment for me, and for the general positive and uplifting tone of her own blog.
Stacey from Blooming Fields deserves a Nice Matters award too. She and her family are currently in the middle of a big, big project involving moving across the country and starting a new business (with a toddler along of course). So I'm sure it is a stressful time for them in many ways, but her blog posts are really very focused on the "adventure" side of things. My family will be in a similar situation when Josh graduates next year so I am really enjoying hearing her perspective on things. And I can't imagine a nicer thing than Vermont in autumn. Stacey if you are reading this, pictures please :)
Maybe it's against the rules, but I will give one of my five awards back to Jenny because she is always friendly and kind, and I really have a wonderful (free!) resource in her blog. She takes the time to post her book reviews and has really changed the way I use our library. I get the feeling that she blogs for the enjoyment of it, but it really has a wonderful influence on my family and I'm sure many other readers are also benefitting from her interest and enthusiasm. So thank you for that, Jenny :)
And I will keep the last one in my pocket just to remind me to be on the lookout for Nice. Because it does indeed matter!
This photo was inspired by one of our favorite books, Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg. I've always been fond of it, in fact we are still reading the copy I got for Christmas when I was two years old. So when Ivo wanted to play out this scene it made the perfect photo op.
We had a lovely time on our vacation, and thank you so much for all of the well-wishes. I'll post more vacation details later, but mainly we just spent time relaxing and reconnecting with friends and with each other. It's been a smiley four days and I feel completely recharged from it. I even have a few new bloggy ideas that came to me during my time away from the computer, so please stay tuned for details :)
Also, can you believe the maple trees on the peninsula are already turning colors? I think I say that every year.
We are off to Door County tomorrow, to visit our once (and possibly future . . . ?) home, spend time with friends and loved ones, and just enjoy the last bits of summer in one of the places we like best. The title of this post refers to the fact that Ivo and I have been on our own since Sunday, as Josh was traveling for work, which he only does once a year. I am in complete awe and admiration of mothers whose partners travel often, and furthermore mothers who are doing this with no partner. Spending three days parenting solo has me ready to crack. Not to mention its been raining pretty much the whole time. yikes. I am so ready for this trip. Tensions between Ivo and me have been high lately, I hate to admit, and we need a change of pace to keep the peace. I need my friends to keep me smiling, and I need the negative ions in the great lakes air to clear my head. And a visit with Cinnamon over at the Farm wouldn't hurt either. Here's that beautiful girl now . . .
And a couple more pictures from the Farm. Hard to believe that was almost two years ago.
So, in that great American tradition of repairing the family dynamic through a summer road trip, here is to a wonderful long weekend.
Some gift crafting has been happening at our house over the weekend: a smock for little Isa, and two zippered pouches for some upcoming birthdays. You can see how fiddly it was to make those without my zipper foot (which has gone missing), but I think they turned out ok. One of them has the embroidery on the wrong side, according to proper zipper placement, can you tell which one? I couldn't.
Also a pile of yo-yos that have been keeping me scrap-happy lately. Josh has been watching me amass dozens of these little guys, toting my little kit of yo-yo making supplies everywhere we go and yesterday he picked one up and said, "Ok, I don't get it. I know these are yo-yos, but how do you make them go up and down?" When I told them they were just for decoration, that they weren't like a yo-yo that you do tricks with and such, he looked a little disappointed.
The embroidery patterns came from the Japanese bok in the picture, ISBN 4 8347 2421 2. I ordered it from Amazon Japan and was kind of nervous about it, not speaking Japanese and all (or understanding money in terms of yen. I started to sweat when I saw the total was 3,500 yen. that sounds like a lot doesn't it?). But it was surprisingly easy and the books arrived in about two days. could be dangerous ;) This book is just brimming with cute designs that I can't wait to try. Here's a close up of the soup-eating cutie from Isa's smock.
Here's a picture of Ivo giving Josh a pretend haircut with his toy pliers. Over the past few weeks he has started to do a lot of make believe play, and pretending to be a worker tops his list of things to do, especially being a cashier. He likes to set up his little table with a toy cash register and "merchandise" (his word), then we take turns being the checker. After playing this game over and over he wanted to try the real thing, so this afternoon when we were at Scheel's he made his own transaction with the woman who runs the candy counter. I gave him a dollar and then stood out of the way, and he chose his rock candy, waited in line (looking back at me a few times for encouragement), and when it was his turn he put the candy and the dollar on the counter and said,"This candy please", waited for his change and remembered to say thank you. I could tell by his face he knew he had done everything *just right*. Such a proud moment to feel so competent at something new.
I have some more thoughts on the matter of make-believe, but I need a night's sleep to collect them so they will have to wait for another day. It has just been so amazing to watch this unfold, and it seemed to happen so fast. When Ivo is pretending something, he is totally there and it is absolutely real for him. It's just incredible that all children have this innate capacity to transform their worlds from moment to moment. Sometimes I see Ivo completely immersed in play and I think, "I should have more moments like that." and then I do. Kids are so inspiring, aren't they?
I think this might even be more like three minutes to throw together, but a lovely supper in spite of it's simplicity (or more likely because of it). I use the Pacific Natural Foods soup shown in the picture, which has a really nice roasted veggie flavor and just requires heating to serve. The cheese is monterey jack <yum>, for crackers I like Wheat Thins, and the apple is a Braeburn, Josh's favorite. It's a nibbly supper that leaves room for dessert later on. Tonight it was leftover birthday cake eaten right from the freezer. And again I say, <yum>.
This moment was a dream come true for Ivo, which gave us a sense of humor about things:
When our car broke down halfway to our camping spot, I really did think our trip might be ruined. We walked to the nearest hotel, in a tiny little north woods town, called every auto shop in the phone book (three places) and no one was openon a Sunday so we almost checked in for the night and resigned ourselves to a change of plans. Then we got a tip from a local lady about a service station called Slim's who was "always open" according to her. It was only a little way down the road so we hoofed it on over to see if Slim could help us. (All the while doing my best positive self-talk "What a nice day for all of this walking. At least no one was hurt. Thank goodness I brought the credit card. At least we have a cooler full of food. Boy people in this town sure are nice." And so forth.) While we waited to talk to Slim we noticed he had a Rent-a-Wreck service for $29 a day, way cheaper than a hotel room plus we would still get to see our friends. An hour later we were back on the road in a purple '96 Chevy Lumina, our car safe in the care of the good men at Slim's. Hooray! After a little stress about the availability of parts, it turned out Slim had our car fixed the very next day and we picked it up on the way back through town, $300 lighter but all smiles. Ivo even got to ride in the tow truck. When the driver asked him how old he was, he said "I'm three. Are you three, too?" funny.
As for our camping trip, it was wonderful. Just being with our friends whom we hadn't seen in months was enough to make the trip worthwhile, but on top of that we had just about the most fabulous weather ever created, no bugs, and a beautiful state forest campground all to ourselves. We rode around Lake Namekagon on a pontoon boat and fished here and there, not catching much but having lots of fun. Ivo is a total natural, casting out 25-30 feet so smooth you'd think he'd been doing it his whole life. And he caught a fish for the first time ever, actually two fish, both perch, with his little Shrek fishing pole. Neither of them were keepers but Josh did kiss the first fish for good luck before throwing it back, in keeping with our friends' family tradition.
And tonight I am looking forward to a nice bath and then cuddling up in my own bed and reading until my eyes close. That pretty much sums up my relationship with camping: Before the trip, I can't wait; during the trip, I think "boy this is the life"; and after the trip is over I think "thank heaven we're not camping anymore." And off to my bubble bath I go.