Friday, July 29, 2011

new friends

I did something funny.

A few weeks after moving to our teeny tiny town I made a little poster with my email stating that we were a young family new to the area hoping to meet other homesteading, homeschooling families.  I honestly didn't know what to expect and I felt like a bit of a boob as I waited for our post office to clear out before I sheepishly pinned the posters up, but I figured I had nothing to lose.

I can tell you I wasn't overwhelmed with emails, but I did receive one response.  From another young family living on 25 acres 10 minutes away with four year old Auren and 2 year old Fern (expecting another in late fall), many chickens, 5 pigs, 4 cats, a gentle dog, and big plans.  The kids play really well together while their sweet mama and I laugh and chat easily.

The above photos were taken at their home when we met up for our second playdate (my goodness, I hate that word) get-together.  It is still early, but I think this is the beginning of something really great.

I wanted to share this lesson in stepping outside of the box and tapping into the community in your own backyard.  I encourage you to try it.

Feel free to share your stories of how you are creating your own community.

go gently + be wonderful


Thursday, July 28, 2011

sleep update

I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your kind comments and emails full of advice with regards to this post a few weeks ago.  After reading each tidbit of advice and personal account I decided it was nothing short of insanity to expect a lovely little routine with such young ones.  Instead, we decided to focus on routine check points throughout our day especially with our night time routine.

So our mornings and days are still a crazy stew of good and bad things, but our nights have a little more structure.  And though we haven't mastered the punctual bedtime, we have been sticking to the following routine fairly well.  {Note: there is a difference between schedule and routine.  We do the same thing with the same end just not at the same time every day.}

  • Bath
  • Jammies
  • Brush Teeth
  • Mike reads to Poppy in her bed while I nurse Silas to sleep
  • We then move him into the crib in our room
  • We then switch and I lay with Poppy until she falls asleep 
  • Silas sleeps about 3 to 4 hours in the crib and then we move him into our bed so I can nurse him back to sleep
  • Poppy usually will sleep through the night, but either wakes up at 5am and calls for me (not at all upset) and I tuck her back in and rub her back until she goes back to sleep.
  • Silas has been waking about 2 to 3 times per night since we implemented this and is sleeping in a little later in the mornings which is nice.
So yes, it wasn't perfect, but it was a start and we felt a little more in control.  That being said, something changed.  Poppy has napped for the past three afternoons and it has thrown our little routine for a loop.   It is difficult enough to get Poppy to sleep before 9pm without a nap.  As much as I revel in the quiet of the simultaneous nap time, I know I will pay dearly for it later.  Silas hasn't been falling asleep as I nurse him, and they have been bouncing off the walls until we all fall asleep in an exhausted heap in our bed at 11 pm or later.  I then wake Mike up and we move them to their beds.

With all of this, Silas has been waking his usual 5 times per night again.   Let me first tell you that I don't have an issue with "parenting" my kids to sleep.  What makes me crazy is the constant night waking that seems to be getting worse rather than better at 11 months of age.  No matter what we do, Silas howls and cries unless I nurse him back to sleep.  We pat, sway, sling, sing, rock, dance, and hold him in a attempt to get him back to sleep, but he just pushes our hands away and continues to wail and flop around.  He won't take a soother.  Last night, after finally getting him to sleep at 11pm, he woke up not even an hour later.  We brought him into our bed and let him cry.  We have never done the cry it out method and don't want to resort to it, but if we ever want to sleep through the night again, something has to change.  So we let him flail and scream between us while we rubbed his back and after 10 minutes he went from a full blown cry to a deep sleep.  He woke two more times in the night and I nursed him back to sleep both times.

The only thing we can think of or that we have read is that he is in the habit of nursing and knows that if he wakes up, I will be there with his comfort.  Our plan is to do as we did last night and let him cry in our arms until he goes back to sleep.  A sort of controlled cry it out.  Our hope is that he will realize he doesn't get to nurse every time he wakes up and will, in turn, begin to sleep for longer periods of time.

Parenting is tough.  It's even tougher when you lack deep, restorative, patience-giving sleep.

go gently + be wonderful


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

screen printed shirts

red antler women's tee

size 2T kid's tees
Slowly, between diaper changes, snacks, kitchen dancing, laughing and crying, I have been getting a few items ready for the Peterborough Folk Festival.  Each one is based off of simple line drawings I do and no two are exactly alike as I only use each stencil once.  I find gently used clothing and upcycle them into their glorious, screen printed destiny.

I have had some requests regarding an Etsy shop.  I don't currently have items for sale, but am considering it it the near future.  I will keep you posted!

go gently + be wonderful


Monday, July 25, 2011

peaches + rain

The morning air is scented with peaches and rain with an undertone of coniferous.  I am reminded of childhood.  Sundays have become our favourite day as we watch reluctant cars make their way back to their respective cities and we putter in the yard and house unfettered by travel or traffic.

We moved the woodpile to make way for the coming chicken coop.  We hope to build the chicken coop in the next couple of weeks and get four laying hens soon after.  As Mike moved the woodpile he kept finding snake skins which we showed to Poppy and admired closely.  Then, as he neared the bottom of the pile, three snakes slithered out.  We lifted the pallets up to find holes in the ground and the snakes kept returning looking rather confused.  My heart broke for them as they slid away to find new shelter.  These Garter snakes are harmless and timid little creatures.  Rationally, I do know this, but it has awakened a limb-numbing fear in me.

I should first tell you that I can't remember the last time I even saw a snake before moving here, but I would bet it was at least a decade, maybe even two.  But since moving here I have had 13 very close encounters with them and as I said, I have realized I have a totally irrational and paralyzing fear of them.  Now I am not a squeamish girl and have been known to save spiders and earwigs from death by carrying them outside to safety.  When I mentioned this surge in snake sightings, a dear friend sent me this link about snake totems.  I do feel as though I am on the verge or in the midst of a rebirth living here in the trees.  I welcome the snakes, I just ask that they don't freak me out.  They have my full attention and respect.

We cut the lawn, hung laundry, bought all sorts of paint to brighten our bedrooms and hallway, painted the hallway in 'Unicorn White', weeded the garden, found a most perfect door for our chicken coop at a nearby junk + antique barn, and then in the late afternoon, made our way to the lake for a tourist free dip.

I am reminded yet again of how blessed and marvelous this life is.

go gently + be wonderful


Friday, July 22, 2011

New Photo Packaging

I am really happy with the way these little wallet sized photos pop in there new paper frames.
Five dollars.

Handmade business cards.
Each one is a labour of love.

For those of you who have followed me through the years know I am rather fickle with my blog + business names.  As I was getting ready for another name change (perhaps even the final one?!) I read this quote and I knew in a heartbeat.

"I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living." 
— Anaïs Nin

It was decided that the name "twenty six mermaids" (which has been floating around in my head for years now) would finally have its chance.  It sums up a lot and reminds me of the deeper importance and personal meaning of creating.

And now you know.

go gently + be wonderful


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

wash away my sins

Heat Wave.
Cranky kids + Mama.
Cabin Fever.
Messes upon messes.

All of it washed away as I glide into the cool water of Gooderham Lake.  My scalp thrills as the water makes its way through hot tangled curls.  My body made heavy by pregnancy, time, and comfort is new and blurred just under the surface and, for a moment, I forget to hate myself.  Cool and quiet, I try to remember the last time I actually swam.  
Wet skin, goosebumps in the heat, Mumford + Sons roaring, and milkshakes wash the day's sins away and I can begin again.

Milkshake Recipe

Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream
Kawartha Dairy Milk
Organic Strawberry Jam
Frozen Organic Strawberries

*No measuring required, just make it as big or as small and as thick or as runny as your little heart desires.

1.  Blend.
2.  Pour into Mason jar.
3.  Insert pretty straw.
4.  Enjoy.

go gently + be wonderful


An Old Fashioned Picnic

For Silas' 1st birthday party we have decided to take advantage of the warm weather and big outdoor space our new home boasts by holding a good old fashioned picnic with friends and family.  I must admit, my inner Gramma is in old fashioned heaven with the preparations for this Labour Day celebration.

We plan on having a photo booth with fun mustache and glasses props set on a bold fabric background.  Instead of lame loot bags, I thought we could send the families their family photos after editing.  Simple picnic fare and party food will be washed down with iced tea, lemonade, and Pop Shoppe pop on ice.  Activities will include three legged races, nail hammering contests, and maybe a log cutting competition!  I even made my first hoola hoop in red and white stripes to match the vintage looking paper straws and will be making a few more {in yellow, white and navy stripes} to have on hand for when the hip twirling mood strikes our guests.

We have asked that our guests join the fun and dress up too.  I have a green vintage dress {fifties style?} and we found the most perfect cap, wool tie, and beige suspenders for Mike at our local Value Village.  In the same trip we scored a pint sized straw fedora style hat for Silas.  Now to find a picnic dress for Poppy and the main outfits are complete...unless, of course, I find a large sunhat or other vintage treasure I just can't pass up.

I will be sharing a few of the fun projects with you as I go so be sure to check back for more old fashioned fun.

go gently + be wonderful


Monday, July 18, 2011

Another Sunday at Ellenberger Organic Farm

We always come away feeling restored and inspired after spending time on Ellenberger Organic Farm.  This visit was a special one in that we went to meet the 52 five day old chicks they received on Wednesday.  Poppy was excited as she is a tad obsessed with all things chicken and chicken eggs {as is her Mama if we're being honest}.  If we had let her, she would have sat contentedly by their side for hours, but instead begged to go see them again and again {and again and again} throughout the visit when she wasn't eating raspberries and running through the sprinkler.

Another fun activity was making butter with the churn we found at a local antique barn.  We took turns churning it and while I sat in the shade of the apple tree it turned into glorious, yellow butter and all was right with the world.

While Mike and Janet churned, Dad and I went through an old trunk which holds my deceased Aunt's belongings.  It was both eerie and comforting as she passed away 2 months before her 20th birthday back in 1977.  I never knew her, but I have always wondered what it would have been like to know her.  She seemed feisty and smart and I think I would have loved her dearly.  The trunk was filled with photos and letters, notes from boys with crushes on her, letters from pen pals in Germany, clothing, hair from the mane of her horse, drawings and trinkets.

I am reading a book about the past lives of children and am at the part about people being reborn into the same family.  I can't help but wonder {hope}.  In case you're wondering, I have not a single a doubt that we live many lives and that children can remember them.  And yes, I will be listening {and recording} very carefully when Poppy + Silas start to talk about it.

Yes, it was another good day on Ellenberger Organic Farm.

go gently + be wonderful


Thursday, July 14, 2011

make pretty things or bust

This year, instead of my usual hand drawn signs I thought I would go for a more polished look with my signage.  This means I have to organize and focus on what I want to make and sell well before the show.  I am happy with the results.  This year, I will be making wish bracelets.  I love the understated beauty of these. If my style were a bracelet, this would be it.  

I will also be choosing a series of photos that define "beauty in the details" and adding inspirational quotes perfect for those corners of the home needing inspiration and joy.  Tiny, pretty reminders to be mindful and ever-present.

As I begin making pretty things for the first time in nearly a year, I realize something about myself: if I don't make time for pretty things, I will suffocate.  They don't have to be particularly brilliant or artistic, but I must do it.  I usually do quite well at the Peterborough Folk Festival, but this year it is more about the process.  Of course we could use the money, but I am realizing that this is more of a sanity saving project than a money making one.  If I can cover my costs and keep making things, this Mama will be sustained.

I enjoy finding the look and feel.  
I love coming up with creative/minimal packaging.  
I love melding words and stories into the tiny things I make.
I love bringing it all together in an attempt to make it all contradicting and cohesive. 

I struggle with calling myself an artist or a photographer because I don't paint or play an instrument or have formal training.  I have an old school definition of what an artist is dancing around this head of mine, but I am learning to ignore it and make for the sake of making; make for the sake of sanity.  Because we're all artists and photographers in our own rite if we'd only let go and ride the wind.

More to come, deer hearts.

go gently + be wonderful


Monday, July 11, 2011

Fridge Organization 101

I love Pinterest and I just adore the idea of Pinning Real Life.  There are just so many good things to be made, decorated, re-purposed, and organized!  So in an attempt to motivate and organize myself, I will try to work my way through my Good Ideas Board and share the results with you as I go.

A few weeks ago I made the Bleach Pen Tshirt.  This week, I cleaned my fridge {original pin found here}.  I know, I know, not too exciting or crafty, but without organization, this mama can't create.  And since tossing everything in on moving day it has been making me bonkers with all its discombobulation.

I am not sure why I never thought of using plastic bins in the fridge before, but it is pure genius.  No more taking 15 jars out to get to the jam or mayo in the back.  No more hidden corners where leftovers go to die.  Spills are contained to one bin instead of creeping through the whole fridge.  An organized fridge is a thing of magic.  Magic, I tell you.  You may have noticed the middle door shelf is missing.  It was the one casualty of this project {likely due to the fact that I had a cranky 10 month old strapped to my back, but it did make me get ruthless with our over abundance of condiments so it was a blessing in disguise I guess.  Seriously, who has that many condiments?

One of my other favourite parts of the new organization was the creation of a snack bin for the kids {original pin found here}.  A place to keep pre-cut cheese, fruit, veggies, snack sized yogurt and apples sauce, etc.  I also keep two sippy cups ready to go here so we can keep track of whose is whose and cuts down on the cheese making sippy cups we find under couches and car seats.  Simplicity at its finest eh?

The only thing left to do is to label the bins so it stays this way.

Details for those who are inspired to clean their fridges:

Top shelf: snack sized foods and one bin with jams and other spreads

Middle Shelf:  Drawer used for extra bags of milk {yes, in Canada we get our milk in bags...I didn't know this was unusual until they mentioned it on 30 Rock}.  Under the drawer is the kid's snack bin.  Beside that is the dairy bin.

Bottom Shelf:  Space for leftovers, milk, juice and water and a bin of most popular condiments

Bottom Drawer #1: Veggies

Bottom Drawer #2:  Fruits

Top Side Shelf: Butter, cheese slices, brick cheese, eggs, smaller items I use regularly.

Bottom Side Shelf:  Salad dressings and marinades

I don't know about you, but I feel good.  I promise to do a more interesting Pin next time.

go gently + be wonderful


Friday, July 8, 2011

pretty face contest

Hello all.

I recently purchased this sweet conductor's hate for Silas from Bula Jean's Boutique on Etsy.  When I found out she was hosting a teensy photo contest I decided to enter it.  He is neck and neck with another cute baby so this is me shamelessly begging for your votes.

If you're on Facebook and would like to indulge this mama, please "LIKE" Bula Jean's Boutique and then both comment and "LIKE" the above photo of the wee man.  While you're there, feel free to add me as a friend if you are so inclined {erin ellenberger-march}.

It isn't about the photo or the prize, it is just a bit of fun and as Mike's cousin put it: "...I don't want to live in a world where Silas doesn't win pretty face contests...".

Thanks in advance my lovely dears.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sleepless in Gooderham

I feel as though I am beating this subject to a pulp lately, but I must ask your advice and talk my way through it.  When Poppy was born, we fell into a gentle rhythm or nursing and sleeping.  It felt natural and rather effortless in almost every way.  We co-slept.  She weaned herself around 11 months.  Her teeth came slowly as did her words and communication.  A speech specialist at the Early Years Center said that it was likely that she didn't feel the need for words as all of her needs were being met.  She would fight sleep with all her might, but once she was there she stayed there.

Our plans were to do the same with Silas.  We co-sleep and nurse.  He, however, is the opposite and falls into sleep rather effortlessly, but it is fragile and he wakes at the slightest movement or sound.  He only nurses once or twice during the day and wakes nearly every one or two hours through the night.  Despite singing, patting, shhhhing, swaying and rocking, the only thing that gets him back to sleep is five to ten minutes of nursing.  We have tried laying him in a crib beside our bed and, if he doesn't wake when we place him in it, he sleeps no longer than when he is in our bed.

On top of this we have moved Poppy into her own room so she has been waking at least once or twice.  Not upset, but saying "Where Mama?".  I just lay with her until she goes back to sleep.  She was in our bed until Silas was born at which time she transitioned to a toddler bed in our room.  She has been sleeping through the night consistently for a long time now.  Before we moved we were in a pretty decent routine of a 7 to 8pm bedtime for both of them with Poppy sleeping through the night and Silas waking his usual amounts.  In the past, I have found that if Poppy naps during the day she is up, despite our best efforts, until as late as 10:30 or 11:00pm, but everything I read tells me she needs a nap.

Our days are chaos.  Our bedtime routine consists of tears and frustration most of the time and usually ends with all of us flailing until we fall into a restless tangle of sleep.  I don't know if it is their age, age difference, or just our own lack of structure, but we just can't seem to get our footing.  Nothing at all is consistent.

Here, let me show you...

6:30am to 9:00am:  
Silas wakes at the early end while Poppy wakes at the later end.  This changes daily.
Diaper changes
Mama tidies the kitchen, washes her face and hair, brushes her teeth.

9:00 until 12:00pm:
Chaos including, but not limited to:  diaper changes, snacking, baking, counting, reading, pretend play, painting, colouring, drawing, refereeing, biting, hitting, timeouts, cleaning, teeth brushing, Sesame Street, lunch preparations, Silas getting cranky until I put him in the Ergo to fall asleep...or not, letting the dog in, letting the dog out, rescuing chipmunks from the cat's jaws of death, Poppy asking for no less than 30 snacks {yogurt, apple, bagel and cheese, vitamins, juice, milk, water, cheese, pickles, cereal, etc.}, outdoor time which usually includes Silas cranking, and Poppy giving him dirt and rocks to eat until the bugs drive us inside for lunch.

*The new addition of a blow up pool has made outdoor time a little more successful.  For Silas' birthday we plan on purchasing a large swing/slide/play structure and making a noise wall.

12:00 until 1:00pm:
Making lunch while Poppy demands more snacks and Silas whines.
Inhaling lunch and leaving the kitchen in a state to rush upstairs for quiet story / nap time which usually leaves one sleeping and one awake, both awake or, very rarely, both asleep.

1:00 until 4:00pm
Whoever is asleep, sleeps.
Whoever is awake does a repeat of the morning shit storm.
If they both sleep, I read, clean, nap, or make feeble attempts at organizing our lives.

4:00pm until 5:00pm:
Prepare supper between whining, biting, hitting, and timeouts until I put Sesame Street on.

5:00pm until 6:00pm
Eat and tidy kitchen while the kids undo nearly everything we do.

6:00 pm until 7:00pm
Family time which includes reading, tickling, pretend play, check the garden, grocery shopping, a drive into town, etc.

7:00pm until 8:00pm
Bath, snack, brush teeth

8:00pm until whenever:
Nurse or carry Silas to sleep
Wrestle Poppy to sleep

After that, Mike and I collapse into tired heaps and usually zone out to some online time rather than re-connecting until we turn out the lights, hold hands, mumble an apology for being short with one another and a heartfelt "I love you" and fall asleep.

Yeah.  It leaves a lot to be desired.

If you care to do so, please leave a link or share what your average day looks like.  Tell me, how do you get your kids to sleep through the night?  How do you find the strength and time for yourself?  How did you establish boundaries and structure?  What obstacles did you encounter?

I understand that I can't expect too much with their young ages, but I am looking for things I can do to make our days flow a bit better for my own sanity.  I have been examining my anger and have found its roots lie in powerlessness and lack of confidence in what I am doing.  If I can empower myself with effective and kind discipline and routine, I think could be a more effective teacher and more patient mama.

Also of note:

  • I don't want to nurse much past a year, but want to wean gently.  I have been pregnant, breast feeding, or both for the past 3 years and that is enough for me.
  • We have no problem with helping the kids get to sleep or with having them in our room and bed until they are ready to transition.
  • have made efforts to meet some local families to play with {I put a sign up in the post office and got one reply so far...Hey, we'll try anything}
  • There are benefits of not having too much routine.  Our kids are pretty easily adaptable to new places and changes and remain good tempered where others may not do so well.
  • That being said, I want a routine.  I just don't know how to implement one without being ruthless.
  • To be honest, I am not totally comfortable with having a mother's helper here nor am I comfortable leaving the kids with anyone other than a trusted adult.  Call me crazy, but texting teens don't really instill a great deal of confidence in me.
go gently + be wonderful

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