You only get one life to live, you might as well live it AMAZING.
What amazing means varies from person to person. For us amazing looks like freedom. Freedom to have the time to explore whatever we want, whenever we want. We have learned (over and over again) that a luxury kitchen, 3-car garage and having kids dressed in boutique clothes does not make us happy.
Seriously...thinking back to your childhood...which memories stand out the most? For me (and Jon) they tend to be the ones that cost the least money. Climbing trees, camping, picking cherries, exploring nature, spending time with family and friends, learning new things, cooking from scratch, eating a beautifully prepared family meal over a beautifully decorated table...and oh so much more.
And the really cool thing is that these are the same things that people have enjoyed about life for thousands of years. Not once in there did I mention TV or computers or iphones or Kindles. Because as much as we like those things...I would bet that no one ever thinks of them when they consider their best memories. The strong memories that bring tears of joy to your eyes as you recall them.
So we are setting out to make our one life amazing, while the kids are still young, while we still have a chance to make their lives amazing...and to that end, this is our new home. Floating atop the Pacific Ocean, docked on an island in Southeast Alaska...the salmon are so prolific outside the boat right now that you could scoop one right out of the water if you wanted to. It's an amazing chance for us to live our life to it's fullest, without being weighed down by a large house and a lot of stuff. We're in the process of remodeling the inside and downsizing our stuff to move onto the boat. It will be a crazy month, but I think it will be well worth the effort. Stay tuned...before and after pics to come.
What is with this sudden increase in sewing, you ask? School is ending! Summer is starting! Our time is becoming more our own (as it should be). It feels good just being able to do nothing if nothing is what I want to do. (Of course I should be cleaning and organizing...but what fun would that be?!?!)
Actually, this started BECAUSE I was cleaning and organizing. I started sorting through old clothes and such to donate...and before I knew it I was taking things out of the donation bags to breath new life into them as Laurel's summer wardrobe.
I made one like this last year (below) after seeing a tutorial posted on Pinterest. I made a more subtle color choice this year though, which will help match more of her wardrobe. Plus I made a few adjustments this time...for instance, making the pockets big enough to actually put a hand into (oops!), and making it long enough to be comfortable for anything. I'm not a big fan of skirts that don't play well.
I used the scrappiest scraps, making this skirt FREE. The tan came from the striped curtains I made last year from Walmart sheets (which were only $5 to begin with), and the contrast on the pockets is from the skirt I made for myself last week. This is why I don't throw scraps away!
I still had a hemmed edge on the sheet scrap, so I just lined it up and cut out a rectangle. Then I cut out the pocket, and a length of trim to match. I just folded a 2" strip of fabric (about the same length as the curve of the pocket) in half and pinned the cut edge of the strip to the cut edge of the pocket and sewed it in place. Then you can snip the curve, press it back and top-stitch it to make it look/sit nice. Then place a rectangle of fabric behind the pocket and sew it to the front panel. Then sew the front panel to the back panel, make the casing for the elastic...and...done!
(For one added detail I made the casing a little too big and then sewed an extra line of stitching at the top...I don't know what you call that, but I like the way it looks)
I think it's a good lesson in life to deal with death in small doses. It's a real lesson, one that I think we shy away from in our culture. But the truth is, it does happen, and it's awful.
Daffy was only 4 days old when he passed, but he was the duck that Laurel had bonded with the most. He would sit and cuddle with her for long stretches. (Likely the first sign of his coming demise) As every day passed he became progressively less able to walk, and mostly just sat and peeped weakly. Laurel did her best. She came up with a special food plan, opening his beak and feeding him a few drops every hour or so. She tried her best to nurse him to health, and to love him back to life.
On Daffy's last night Laurel decided to sleep downstairs to keep a closer eye on him. But no matter what she did, in the morning when I woke up and went to peek on them...Daffy had passed away. My heart broke for Laurel. I let her sleep longer, mostly just to keep that innocent little girl innocent for a few more minutes. But when the time came, I told her. And she cried, and Luke cried, and I just held them and let them cry.
It was kind of beautiful in a weird way. As a parent, but especially as a homeschooling parent, you really get to experience everything with your kids. And that's how it should be. We help shape the way they handle life, death and everything in between.
Here's to Daffy Duck. Rest in peace sweet little duck, you will be remembered by a little blonde girl for the rest of her life.
First, I laid out the sweater and used a tunic she already had as a makeshift pattern. (I traced around it with a marker, then cut it out)
I used the little extra piece of material at the top as the ruffle sleeve, I just flipped it around so that the flat side was in towards the sleeve hole, allowing the rounded side to ruffle.
Then I just sewed up both sides along the marker line, hemmed the outside edge of the sleeves (I think that's easier to do before you put them on) and then I put the ruffle sleeves on.
IT WAS THAT EASY! The sweater was headed to the Goodwill anyway...so it doesn't even matter if you screw it up. That's the beauty of up-cycling, it allows you to experiment without spending a lot on fabric.
While sorting through clothes to donate I found a bunch of stuff that could pretty easily be converted to little girls clothes...
Maternity shirt into...little girls skirt
This couldn't have been easier, I just chopped it and sewed the casing for the elastic and put the elastic in. I used all the original hems, so this one was minimal work. (maybe 10 minutes)
Maternity shirt into...a little girls shirt
This one took even LESS work, I just took up the side seams and shortened the straps. Instant tunic. (less than 10 minutes)
I did cut out the Motherhood Maternity tag, because
frankly, it's a little creepy to have your 7 year old wearing clothes
from a maternity store.
Old undershirt into...a little girls t-shirt
Laurel has this t-shirt that she loves (and I like the way it fits), so I
laid it down on top of the old shirt and and used it like a pattern. I
cut 1/4" around the whole shirt. I used the scraps to make the new
neck-hole, then I just sewed the front to the back, hemmed the sleeves
and put elastic in the shoulders and bottom hem for some shaping. (I
used the original bottom hem of the t-shirt, so I didn't even have to
hem it!) (30+ minutes)
I have a one happy girl.
I feel like Maria from The Sound of Music, making play clothes out of curtains...and there is nothing wrong with that.
The National Forest Service was running a special program for school-aged kids this week at one of our very close and very incredible parks. It focused on orienteering, local wildlife, local fish and insects and local plants. Living in Southeast Alaska we spend LOTS of time indoors in the winter.
So when opportunities like this arise...and it's good weather...it's
like the planets have aligned just for us.
Everything was hands on and outside. The experts (park rangers, fish & wildlife biologists, etc) ran the classes. The homeschooling moms mostly just watched (and learned).
This is where I love to watch Laurel grow up and become her own person. There are those adults out there with the special gift of treating children like small adults with fully valid points of view. It is these few adults that really help kids shine and begin their own path to discovery and passionate exploration. Ms. Leslie Swada of the Forest Service is one of those people. She seems to bring the best out of the kids that are ready to make that leap into learning something new.
There was so much to see and do and learn. It was an exciting, fun and tiring day for us. But it was WELL worth it.
Thanks to our local Forest Service crew!!
Seriously...this is what it's like to homeschool in Southeast Alaska. (at least when it's not raining)
Inspiration comes from so many places. A book, a movie, a friend. I read a lot of books and articles about being a better mom, better homeschooler, being more present in my life. I read so much that sometimes I just have to put down whatever I'm reading and let my head rest.
And then---sometimes---you just have to touch the cover of a children's book to be inspired.
Then open up the pages and get lost in the amazing world that someone else has created.
And then realize that this is what you want for your children.
I want my children's lives to be like a Doris Burn illustration.
It's that simple.
And what I find disturbing is that publishers seem to think that old is bad, and so they replace amazing with something that is brightly colored but completely devoid of passion and depth. No offense to Joe Cepeda, but come on...I think even he can see the difference. Doris Burn created a wonderland for children to live in for hours, a place for the imagination to roam even after the book is closed. Why would any publisher think that some bright colors could replace that.
We decided today to start raising our own backyard egg-layers. We had to choose between ducks and chicks and then decide how many we should start with. YIKES! We've been talking about starting a farm for so many years, this would be the first (second if you count the month of goats) step towards that goal. We need to begin to learn the skills now so that when we do settle on a farm someday we'll at least know a little about what we're doing!
We all sat down together to deliberate. There was much discussion and much excitement. Both kids have strong opinions about what we should do. (Luke=chicks, Laurel=ducks) After many impassioned pleas we chose to start with ducks. The word on the street (or the pond?) is that ducks are hardier and messier. So here's my thinking...hardier means harder to kill (great for a family starting out) and messier means that anything else will seem easy after this. So once we get used to the ducks, we'll add some chicks. That sounds reasonable, right? I almost went for both, but then I thought better of it. We'll break ourselves in a bit. Hopefully Roger won't mind them...he never did like those goats.
Our eggs go in the incubator this weekend, so in a month we will have our own fluffballs. Stay tuned!
Confidentially, if you asked me about Alaska in about 6 months, beautiful is not the adjective I'd use.
But today...today was a different story. The sun shone so bright it made the ocean glitter outside of our windows this morning. I spent my morning in a church of rainbow colors, the sun shining so bright the stained glass window behind us turned our skin and hair different colors. Luke and I took turns grabbing handfuls of color and throwing them at each other.
This afternoon we spent five hours playing, climbing, fishing and hiking and Ward Lake. So many other people we knew had the same idea because it seems we ran into a million people we knew. (in a town of 8,000 running into a million people might not be possible...)
Becoming Maggie Blue is the journey to becoming the person I want to be. After many years of living a conventional life, we decided to move to Alaska and live on a boat. Currently we're traveling full time in a camper with our two kids, exploring North America. We have no plan beyond going slowly and seeing all there is to see, and taking the time to connect and be together as much as possible in these special years.