Charlietalk, family

Four years.

Our Charlie turned four years old last week. And boy oh boy, was he ready. He’s been talking up his birthday for months. In fact, according to him, it’s still his birthday because it’s still April. And that’s fine with me. Hey, if you can find a reason to celebrate, by all means—celebrate!

Charlie, this year has been another fascinating peek into who you are, what you love, and how you interpret the world. You’re bigger, you’re braver, you’re LOUDER. More aware, more gentle, more compassionate. Independent. Full of in-the-moment joy (of course, the year has been interspersed with plenty of three-year-old doses of in-the-moment crankiness too.)

What fun we’ve had with you this year, little one. Let’s take a look back.

You love to be silly. And when you make someone laugh, I can see it in your eyes—you feel like you hit the jackpot.

Charlie01Your silly side gets me giggling.

No surprise–you’re still hamming it up with your brother.

Charlie09You still tell me secrets about how much you love Jacky, when Jacky’s not around.

If there’s a moment of silence in the room, you fill it with a request: “Can I have some candy?”

Charlie11Or ice cream, or cake, or… anything sugary sweet. Sometimes I worry. But I’m learning that a little (five jellybeans) goes a long way.

You’re still falling asleep in strange places.

Charlie06Foot in the popcorn bowl.

But you’ll fall asleep in plenty of normal places too.

Charlie12Story time with daddy.

Your speech is near perfect—all of the right sounds are in almost all of the right places. But your daddy and I never encourage you to say some words correctly. We find the way you say them too adorable to put an end to.

* brefkissed (the first meal of the day)
* lellow (the color of daffodils)
* sumping (I'd like to tell you…)
* teese (brush twice a day)
* mouse (what you put your brefkissed in)
* a-yoad (in regard to Nerf guns)

I see you consciously working on your “L” sounds. Last year you would sing “ya-ya-ya.” This year you make an effort to sing “la-la-la.” Part of me is proud to hear you challenge yourself. Part of me wants you to stop trying.

You have an unexplained affinity for people dressed up like animals. Unlike your brother, you don’t run screaming from them. Instead, you chase them down and jump into their arms.

Charlie13I admit it–they do look kinda cuddly.

You're such a charmer. You started an unexpected exchange of words a few months ago, between you and me. I don’t know where it came from. But I hope it sticks around for awhile.

Charlie: “I’m in love with someone.”

Me: “You are? Who are you in love with, Charlie?”

(He points to me.)

Charlie, we've spent such a fun, funny year together. You're always willing to try new things, and you're always striving to be self-sufficient–you just may be the most adventurous soul in our famly. But in the small, quiet moments, you still reach for my hand, still want to be picked up, still want to cuddle and be close. Sometimes it seems like my heart will burst if I love you more. Sometimes it hurts. And then I love you more.

What I'm realizing is that my heart won't burst. My heart grows with you.

Thank you Charlie-Barley, for helping me grow an ever-bigger heart. I am grateful.

On to year five.

crafts, family, holidays, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: hand-wrapped snowman ornament

Last Saturday was a lazy one. How nice are those? Me and the boys were looking for something fun to do at home. Jack said his teacher brought a Christmas tree into the classroom, and she'd asked the children to bring ornaments to decorate it.

Ornaments? Hey, that’s what we can do! I thought.

I looked to our own tree for inspiration. I found this:


My brother made this when he was in elementary school. Somehow I lucked out and now I own it. It's precious to me.

Geez, it must be blankety-blank years old. (You’re welcome, Jason.)

Anyway, my brother’s ornament got me thinking about snowmen and pom-poms. I didn’t have any ready-made pom-poms, but I had an old skein of wool yarn that I’d thrifted long ago. How do you make a pom-pom from yarn? I wasn’t entirely sure.

After a quick online search, I realized that the task was more difficult than the boys wanted it to be. Wrapping yarn around doughnut-shaped cardboard didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but it sounded like a major chore to the boys. I decided to try their hands as a template instead. And on that lazy Saturday, two little “hand-wrapped” snowmen were born.

If you like, follow along below and I’ll show you how we did it. It’s super simple—and if your kids are like mine, they’ll get a kick out of being wrapped up in yarn.

a wildcards tutorial: handwrapped snowman ornament

Snowman10What you’ll need: yarn, scissors, a yarn needle, buttons, a glue gun, and scraps of fleece. In place of fleece you can use felted wool or any other bulky-type fabric that will hold its shape. Oh, I almost forgot—you also need little hands!


Here’s that old yarn I mentioned earlier—it needed winding. The upside-down barstool worked pretty well (although one day I hope to be like normal knitters and own a swift).


1. Leave a 6" to 8" tail to start. Begin winding yarn around two fingers.

2. Wind the yarn until you find it difficult to keep the yarn on the fingers—the more yarn you wind, the fuller your pom pom will be. Cut the yarn, leaving a 6" to 8" tail.

3. Use the end of a spoon or fork to push the tail through the two yarn-bound fingers. (Charlie’s mitts were too small for this step, so I just wiggled the loops carefully off his fingers.)

4. Wrap beginning and end yarn tails around the center of the loops once. (If you wiggled the yarn off fingers, lay the loops in your lap and carefully wrap the tails around them). Tie the beginning and end tails together in the center of the loops. Tighten and knot the yarn.


Cut through the center of the loops.


Cut yarns until you end up with a spherical shape.


We made six pom-poms–three from each boy’s hand. I wound the first pom-pom using two fingers; then three; then four to get a small-to-large look. Jack’s pom-poms are on the right; Charlie’s are on the left.

Charlie’s pom poms all turned out to be about the same size. I’m okay with that. So is Charlie.


Using a long length of yarn and a yarn needle, sew three pom-poms together from small to large. Poke right through the center of each pom-pom and pull the yarn through.


Stitch through each pom-pom again, this time from large to small. You should end up with both ends of your yarn coming out of the top of the snowman's head. Knot the two ends at the head; then knot the two ends again 3" to 4" above the head to create a loop for hanging.

I used a hot glue gun to adhere buttons to the snowmen. I cut two layers of fleece into identical triangle shapes and glued them together for the hat. Then I ran a strip of glue along the bottom of the hat only, and pressed it onto the head.The sides of the hat are left loose.

No hot glue for the boys. But they did get to choose colors, sift through the button jar, and watch mom hot-glue herself to the table. Only briefly.


Our pom-poms aren’t perfect, but they sure made for a lazy Saturday well spent. Charlie's ornament is pictured; Jack's is now proudly hanging on the classroom Christmas tree.

Thanks Jacky, thanks Barley—let’s give ourselves a "hand," shall we?

And thank you for dropping by. Happy holidays!

crumbs, family, holidays

Thankful 2011

Thanksgiving launches such a flurry of activity, doesn’t it? Feasts ready to be eaten. Gifts ready to be given. Songs ready to be sung. Stockings ready to be hung.

The holidays are beginning. Before you know it, they’ll be done.

The cute couple over at Young House Love recently shared a way to capture and save your own thankfuls on paper during the month of November, with printables to boot:


A jar, slips of paper, and a pen. I love their idea so much; it’s such a simple concept. We missed the opportunity to start this idea up during November. But hey, November doesn’t own a patent on thankful. So I think I’ll start today and go through December instead. And instead of paper—just for today—I’ll save my thankfuls right here.

* * *

Thankful for a new little one in our life—found in our backyard, just before the first major freeze of the season—who is reminding all of us to slow down, be gentle, and stay playful:

Dash1Meet Dash (or DJ, if you ask Charlie).

Dash2Yes. He does feel as cuddly and cozy as he looks. (Or she. Not sure just yet.)

Thankful for a fun furniture upcycling project that has happily turned my attention away from all those boxes still in the garage:
Cabinet1Before. (Those white streaks in the photo? Snow.)

Cabinet2After. I like! (The boxes are still in the garage. And that’s okay.)

Thankful for these people:

MomMy mom.

DaddyMy dad.

And their wonderful, caring new partners in life.

Thankful for a heck of a Black Friday sale. On books. Of the quilt and sew and knit variety.

No shirt? No shoes? No problem. (Unless a really weird mood overtakes me, however, I’ll be wearing a shirt Friday morning.)

Thankful for new ideas:

FlowerFlowers at Your Feet, part two, in progress.

LogcabinLog-Cabin-loaded thoughts scratched on sticky notes (and cool notepad pages from October’s Sewing Summit—did you know they just announced dates for 2012?).

After a creativity block during the move, the ideas are starting up again. No matter how they turn out, welcome back, ideas—I thought I’d lost you forever.

Thankful for these beautiful boys:

TheboysWho I want to spend every Thanksgiving with, always. And every other day of the year, too.

Thankful to you, for stopping by.

A cue to be thankful. A reminder. Because no matter how lucky, fortunate, or blessed we are—or how stressed out, bummed out, or down in the dumps we get—prompts to be thankful from time to time are good.

Toss your slip of paper in the jar—what are you thankful for today?

Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving to you in the states, and a very happy day to you everywhere else!

family, sewing, thrifted!

halloween 2011

This year, I finally took pictures of the boys in their costumes before nightfall. Daylight sure does help. Thought I’d share before we head out to trick and treat tonight!

Two weeks ago:
BeforeThrifted pieces for costumes.

Tonight, Charlie debuts as:



Charlie4Lots of cool karate moves included.

Jack debuts as:



After the karate hero and scary monster encounter a flying bug. . .
Frankenstein shows us his fascination with rocks.
Jack2Rocks good.


Halloween3Looks like it’s gonna be a fun night . . . as long as those spooky, evil, scary flying bugs—otherwise known as flies—don’t take over. I’m sure the boys will brave the danger for the rewards ahead.

Happy Halloween!

crumbs, family, farmville


Home4Empty rooms.

Home8One final grape harvest (and 24 containers of freezer jelly to show for it). Well worth the effort in the midst of our move.

Home19Goodbye, Kaysville. September 24.

We’ve been in our new house for a month now. Odd—sometimes I feel like I’ve been here only a few short days. The move from a bustling suburb to the expanse and quiet of a farming community has been . . . strange. There are some characteristics of this town that I’m sure my new neighbors—some of whom have lived here their whole lives–don’t even notice. But I just can’t seem to get over them. Things like:

Home9No sidewalks. No cars.

I walk down the middle of the road for a mile to pick up Jack from school. We walk in the middle of the road for a mile to make our way home. If Jack walked in the middle of the road in the ‘burbs, I guarantee he’d be grounded.

Home11So much . . . S P A C E. (Two children walking through a massive field to get home from school.)

I’ve lived in suburban neighborhoods all my life. There, every piece of land is used with efficiency. Each plot has a purpose. Here? Well, yes. And no. I keep wondering what the people that own all this space are going to do with it. I’m starting to realize that the answer may be nothing. Nothing at all. It’s simply to have space.

In all colors, sizes, and states of order and disorder. I’m charmed.

CornCorn fields.

These fields, bordering our backyard, are being harvested now. Rumbling Christmas-green John Deere tractors pull towering, Christmas-red machines behind them. Somehow the red machine pulls the corn stalks from the ground and tosses them into itself. I haven’t gotten close enough to see how it all works yet. But I’m very curious about the farmers in this town. I want to meet one of them. I want to ask how it all works. I hope one of them will share a story or two with me, sometime.

There are onion farms around here too. Over the last several weeks I’ve seen dozens of dump trucks driving along, filled with so many onions you can see them crowning on top of each load. Papery onion skins flutter behind the trucks like a swarm of brown (or white, or purple) butterflies.

I saw my first onion truck on the first day I walked to school to pick up Jack. The truck whizzed by, onion skins flying. I stopped, surprised, and turned to watch it pass. When I looked to the road ahead of me again, there lay a little onion, one side slightly broken from its fall out of the truck. I carried it all the way to the school and then home, thinking about how that onion came to be in my hand. After all the effort of seeding, growing, watering, feeding, harvesting, and trucking, I couldn’t leave it on the road. We had the good half in our dinner that night.


Okay, there’s only been one so far. And we missed it! Apparently when we were gone one day a neighbor’s cows got loose. As another neighbor tells it, the cows always like to escape to our backyard. Their hooves left deep impressions in our grass. In a few years I might find the holes irritating. This year, I find it amusing.

Meanwhile, as a family, we’re getting used to our new home. The boys are:

Home12Exploring space. Flat. Even. Wide. Open. Space.

Home13While I’m still getting used to all the space, the boys are simply getting a kick out of it.

Home15Enjoying harvests. From a nearby farm.

Home16Playing with empty boxes. Rocket ship? Yes. Space-age sleeping capsule for two? Yes! The possibilities are seemingly endless.

But the newest farming-town novelty for us?

Home17A fire pit!

Bretty dug a hole far from the house one day, deep and perfectly round. That night, we put it to the test.

Home18Charlie’s first time roasting marshmallows.

We still can’t get over that we can build a fire in our backyard. Sure we’ve sat fireside, camping in the mountains with our tents and sleeping bags and coolers. But in our backyard? With a fully-plumbed potty only a few steps away? What a treat!

* * * * *

I’ve spent most of my life living against the mountains—always just a few short miles, or even blocks, from a mountain trailhead. Spent several years on the bench. Moving far away from the mountains, I thought I would miss being so close. I thought I would miss seeing the details of their craggy rocks from my yard. Instead, I’m enjoying the mountains in a whole new way. Against the backdrop of big sky.

Home20Sunup, from the back porch.

So much space. What to do with it all? We have lots of ideas. But this fall, while we’re still getting our bearings, it’s been decided. What will we do with our new space? Nothing. This year, we’re taking a cue from how this little farming town lives. This year, we’ll use our space simply to have space.

But spring? Spring’s another story. Stay tuned.