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Feeling Inspired and Catching Up

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We’ve been busy in the urchin house these last weeks and Thanksgiving day was a welcome calm. But here’s December and I am feeling so inspired to make this the merriest of Christmases. I have some things planned for this joyful month but I feel like that can’t start until we do some catching up, so here’s what we’ve been up to:

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  • Tristan turned 5. Five! I can hardly believe it. He’s gotten taller, thinner, and very few traces of the baby he was are left. I can get all weepy just thinking about it.
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  • Katie was the cutest gingersnap to ever grace the stage. Just a few weeks ago the choreographers asked if she could be in four performances instead of the planned two and she did incredibly well with the added commitment. That girl loves to dance. I’m sad that photo up there is blurry but it really is indicative of the weekend, an enormous ballet blur.
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  • My newest niece was christened last Sunday. Seeing your baby brother as a father is really a remarkable thing. He is head-over-heels in love with that baby girl. I knit that bonnet — twice! but more on that later — so her little wet head wouldn’t get cold.
  • Lots of other things happened since we’ve chatted last but those are the highlights. So what have you guys been up to?


    In Thanksgiving

    For the beauty of the earth,

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    For the beauty of the skies,

    Star Trails

    For the love which from our birth

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    Over and around us lies,

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    Lord of all, to thee we raise

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    This our hymn of grateful praise.


    Wishing you a day when your blessings are too great to be counted.


    Back in October Tristan went to a party for his friend Mallory that happens to be the youngest of three girls. Katie is friends with the older girls so we know the family fairly well and I knew that they did not need any more toys. In the past we’ve given them craft and baking sets but I wasn’t inspired with a new idea this time. So, we decided to make her something she could wear.


    One morning at school dropoff we asked Mallory what her favorite color was, blue and also green, so that’s what we went with. I used the pattern Scrapbook Jeans and a Sweatshirt from Pink Fig Patterns. Tristan went with me to the fabric store and helped pick all of the fabrics, I had the blue and green Amy Butler to start with in my stash. The dot — a really great one — and the plain turquoise fabrics are from Georgia by Pat Sloan. I used a blue velour for the inside of the hood so it would be nice and soft. The whole thing came together in just a few hours so I’m thinking of more fun combinations including a ballet themed one for Katie to wear backstage at the Nutcracker. Wouldn’t that be so fun?

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    We had a lovely halloween, did you? Papa’s parents and sister were here and it was so fun for them to get to enjoy this fun silly holiday and all the traditions with us. Saturday morning everyone carved pumpkins while I went to the farmers market. On Sunday afternoon they experienced the frantic making and last-minute engineering involved in costume development — this year was actually quite calm. Sunday evening they witnessed the annual Halloween group portrait — what started as a group of three tiny trick-or-treaters has expanded to a group of six — and partook of the annual doughnuts and cider before heading out to the neighborhood.

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    I actually made three costumes this year since Katie devised a plan involving a bat costume for her and my nephew. Those two were easy enough though, we used an umbrella split in two for their wings and I sewed two-sided velcro straps to the wrist and upper arms. Their ears were sewn onto “ninja” hat/mask things I picked up at the party store. The worst part was finding the black sweatpants and sweatshirts.


    Tristan decided back in the summer that he would be a Jawa — from Star Wars — this year so the main part of his costume was a hooded cape — Simplicity 5512 — in imitation brown suede. He wore two of Stefan’s belts criss-crossed on his torso, black gloves, and another ninja mask, this time backwards. the finishing touch was yellow lensed sunglasses. We tried all different things to give him glowing eyes — see last-minute engineering above — but the sunglasses were the best thing we came up with that still allowed him to see where he was walking.

    Halloween Urchins

    Halloween costumes are fun but I must admit, I’m always a little glad when I don’t have to think about them again until next year. If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane here are the costumes from previous years:

    Hiking the Appalachian Trail or How I Spent My Columbus Day Weekend

    View from the Appalachian Trail

    We spent last weekend camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We had perfect weather and perfect company. It was a really fabulous weekend. I had my doubts about four days in the wilderness without showers or hot water but it turned out to be relaxing and so much fun.

    Appalachian Trail

    One of the highlights, and there were many, was spending some time hiking on the Appalachian Trail. For those unfamiliar, the Appalachian Trail runs along the mountains of the eastern coast of the US from Georgia to Maine. We walked for a very short time along the ridgeline that separates Tennessee from North Carolina near the top of Clingman’s Dome. We had driven our cars up the 6000+ feet and only walked the last half-mile or so to the summit, thru-hikers walk the whole way up. We picked up the AT on our way down from the top and it was so beautiful and peaceful compared to the paved tourist-filled path from the parking lot. It reminded me to always be on the lookout for the road less traveled.

    Appalachian Trail

    Welcome October

    Right on cue mother nature gave us some Autumn weather today. I’m wearing corduroy pants and leaves crunched under my feet on the walk home from school this afternoon. I love October. So what have I been up to in the last month? Well, the urchins returned to school, my sister-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Tristan started soccer, and Katie was asked to be in a local production of the Nutcracker Ballet. We’ve been busy. September kicked my butt.

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    But October is going to be different. I think we’ve gotten a grip on the schedule. We’re going camping with some of our favorite people. We have family coming to visit, and pumpkins to carve. We’ll be picking apples and making applesauce. The canning pot will spend more time on the high shelf in the pantry than on the stove. 31 of my favorite days of the year, starting now.

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