Flute-playing Squirrel

Going though iPhoto I found this picture I took in Vancouver almost exactly three years ago (I’m a just week off of the anniversary of our delightful encounter.) Hopefully it makes you smile as much as me!

“The flute player played songs of the forest
and songs of the sky,
songs of the meadows
and songs of the sea.
all day and all night.”

–Robyn Eversole, in The Flute Player

We are beginning to see squirrels in our neighborhood here in Southern CA this year. I love to see them foraging alongside the wild rabbits. When we moved here from the Chicago suburbs in 2005 I quickly realized squirrels were one thing I really missed. In one apartment I had in Illinois there were very wide windowsills. All winter I would put out nuts and birdseed for the squirrels. It got so that if the food wasn’t out by the time one squirrel in particular made her daily rounds, she’d knock on the window. She’d also taunt my cats by doing what I can only describe as blow-monkeys on the window. The cats were not amused. I really wish I’d taken photos!

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Celebrating the Cherry Blossom

Yesterday I uncovered this gem in my cupboard, a tea made of cherry blossoms preserved in salt that my sister-in-law Misa gave me last year. It is called Sakurayu and is substituted for green tea at special occasions like weddings.

I had enjoyed it for a while, but as I didn’t drink tea as often in those days it eventually got hidden behind other things in the cupboard and forgotten. (Active baby who insists on being held much of the time + hot beverage =  recipe for disaster!)

It was the perfect time to make the rediscovery! Spring (and therefor cherry blossom season) has arrived, and I can now enjoy a hot drink around Eli without likely mishap. It was so nice to find this unusual and special treat again.

Oops... I fogged up the camera lens with the steam. It does look kind of dreamy though.

You could rinse the salt off beforehand I suppose, but I just brush the flowers off a bit. I like the salty taste combined with the subtle sweet and tart cherry flavor. We’ve also been battling a string of viruses here lately and drinking this tea a little bit salty feels good on a sore throat.

Taken from a bit off to the side things are a lot clearer.

Most of all I love to see the flowers bloom when placed in the water. So beautiful and relaxing!

Kevin and Misa

And drinking this tea makes me feel a little bit closer to my brother and his wife who are now living in Kyoto.

cherry blossoms

cherry blossoms (Photo credit: Peter Lee(이원희))

As I wrote this post, I found I wanted to learn more about cherry blossom (Sakura) season. One of the first articles I hit upon was this one from abcnews. It was there I learned that this month is the 100 year anniversary of the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees given to Washington DC by the city of Tokyo.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running annually since 1937, is now in full swing.

Cherry Blossom festival commemorative stamp

Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gift from Ja...

Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gift from Japan in 1965, adorn the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Washington Monument is visible in the distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Preventing Autism?

Eli is showing some red flags for autism. We are waiting for an appointment with a neurologist in a couple of weeks to find out, although some friends who have been down this road have recommended we see a pediatric psychologist instead. I’ll be looking into that this week. I honestly don’t think Eli is autistic right now. He is incredibly relational, shows empathy, likes to do everything with somebody else, and has been recently been showing vast improvement in giving eye contact.

I do however have this feeling that he is in danger of becoming autistic… kind of like he’s on the tipping point and it is important to keep him from going over. It is a gut-feeling, intuitive thing and it is very strong. It has only happened a few other times in my life and each time I have been later so thankful that I paid attention. I’m kind of feeling that God is giving me a heads-up here. And while it may seem a bit screwy to other people, especially with an issue like autism and all of the controversy that surrounds the condition, I don’t want to find myself a year from now with my son locked in his own world bemoaning the fact that I didn’t listen to the voice inside that was doing everything it could to get my attention. If in the end he does end up with an Autism diagnosis  despite our interventions and precautions, at least I will know I did everything I could and not waste any time or emotional energy on guilt.

So what will we be doing?

First, we will see the neurologist and most likely the psychologist as well to make sure he doesn’t already fall on the spectrum. I may think he doesn’t, but I’m not a expert in this area and I’m also not completely objective when it comes to my little boy.

We will continue with the speech therapy and occupational therapy that he already receives for his speech delay and Sensory Processing Disorder. These are the same therapies he’d receive with an autism diagnosis. When we are at therapy I am trying to learn as much as I can and am continuing the activities at home. If he does get a diagnosis we will add on any other therapeutic interventions they recommend.

We took Eli to see Dr. Sears last week. It was an extremely helpful appointment. The biomedical theory about Autism makes sense to me. We will be following Dr. Sears’ advice found in the preventing autism chapter in The Autism Book: What Every Parent Needs to Know About Early Detection, Treatment, Recovery, and Prevention (Sears Parenting Library). See here for an overview of the book.

 (This link is provided through the Amazon Associates program.)

We have decided to stop all vaccinations (we were previously on his alternative vaccination schedule), at least for now. We will likely reevaluate this decision in a couple of years. We are starting Eli on the recommended supplements (multivitamin, cod liver oil, vitamin D, and a probiotic). And the biggie is we are now doing the gluten free casein free diet (GFCF). There will be future posts about that one, I’m sure.

(I know some of this stuff is controversial. I’ve read quite a bit from both sides, and this is direction we have chosen to take. While I am generally open to hearing conflicting points of view, this is a time of struggle for me and I don’t want the comment section on this post to turn into a heated discussion. It’s fine if you don’t agree with me, but please don’t choose this place and this time to spell it all out. I just don’t have the energy.)

As a footnote… We also spoke to Dr. Sears about how hard it has been lately to get Eli down at night. (Actually it always has been, but prior to therapy I could just let him sleep in in the morning and it wasn’t such a big deal.) It doesn’t matter when we try to start putting him down, or what we do, we are lucky if he falls asleep by 10:30 and often it is 11 or midnight. The doctor recommended we give him melatonin at night. I had wondered about that before but don’t feel comfortable giving supplements to the little guy without medical advice. Well, let me tell you, the stuff is amazing! Eli is out for the count and snoring away within 15 minutes of taking it.

Mommy Blog Hop Sunday!

This past week I was able to guest post over at The Grant Life with Eli’s Birth Story. The fun with Kelley continues today as she has allowed me to be her featured mommy of the week for Mommy Blog Hop Sunday!

To join in just follow the Grant Life and Folk Haven and then link up your homepage.

Spend some time, mingle and make some new friends!



Eli’s Birth Story

Today I have the honor of guest posting over at The Grant Life. Kelley is running a Labor of Love series on Wednesdays featuring labor and delivery stories. Today it is all about Eli’s grand entrance into this world just a little over two years ago!

It’s a good thing I got it written now as so much of that long day is now quite a murky haze in my memory. Luckily my husband is a writer who takes detailed notes on just about everything, especially the birth of his first child. (He said it seemed like he made people attending the birth a bit nervous when he would pick up his journal and jot stuff down from time to time. Sorry about that, but I’m still glad he did it!) But now it’s all written down with many photographs (don’t worry- nothing that would make the squeamish squirm or the modest blush) so Eli will always have his story regardless of the state of my recall as the years progress.

Please follow the link to meet up with us there.

Images of Ireland

In September 2006 I had the privilege of accompanying my husband on a business trip to Ireland and Turkey. (After business was completed we stopped by Spain on the way home. Some photos from that part of the trip can be found here.)

We were only actually in Ireland for a day and a half, and it was raining much of that time, but there was a few hours when the rain subsided and our gracious hosts took us on a drive through the countryside of County Cork to the Glengarriff Nature Reserve.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the lovely sights we were treated to that day.

I have always had a thing for old cemeteries. I wish I could go back and spend a long while there reading any stones that are still legible and imagining the lives of the people resting there. (Yes, I’ve been told many times that I’m a bit strange.)

This looks like a storybook cottage to me. So peaceful…

Wouldn’t it be great to spend a day like you’re 9 years old again, exploring this stream and enjoying a picnic on a mossy bank?

We saw the ruins of a small castle.

Here is a view from inside the tower.

And what about this red-haired, blue-eyed beauty? I had thought all cows had brown eyes. I was delighted to find I was wrong.

I had always wanted to see Ireland since I was a young girl. Now I fervently hope to be able to go back one day as my short time there just whetted my appetite for more.

Thanks joining me on my little trip down memory lane. Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day. 🙂

Karen

Here’s where I’m linking up.

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeDittle Dattle,

C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet homeCraft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love Creations,

Between U & Me,  Anything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Letter to Eli, 24 Months

Dear Eli,

24 months- otherwise known as 2 years old! Only 2 short (depending upon how you look at them) years, and now I can’t imagine my life without you. This past month has been quite an eventful one for you.

Playing in the dirt is still a favorite.

Playing in the dirt is still a favorite activity.

You have started going to Speech and Occupational Therapy 4 days a week. It is really keeping us busy but we are seeing so much improvement already. One of the therapists has commented that you are such a fun child to work with because every time she sees you you’re saying new things. You are finally repeating words that you hear with little or no cajoling. Everyday I’m hearing you say words you have never said before. This is true in Spanish as well as English. Your current Spanish vocabulary includes agua, mas, arroz, hola, sopa and most likely a few more I can’t think of just now. I couldn’t begin to list the words you are saying in English anymore. One we are hearing a lot now is “Ergo” which means either you want to be cuddled in it or that you have had it with being inside and it is time to go. If it is the latter and I don’t take the hint you then bring me my shoes just to drive the point home.

Today at your group program I couldn’t get over how far you have come in just a few short weeks. You sat through both opening and closing circle times with just a bit of encouragement and redirection and actually participated. Your smile when everyone sang the Happy Birthday song to you was priceless. You also did quite well with participating in the various little classes as well… whenever you weren’t trying to scale Mama that is. It seems we’ve hit a new round of strong separation anxiety again and you would like to spend much more time in Mama or Dada’s arms than is possible at this point. I think my favorite part of the day was when you kept making your little plastic dogs kiss each other rather than matching them with the picture in the book like you were supposed to, not because you couldn’t but because matching is an inferior activity to kissing in your estimation. That’s my Eli… a lover and a rebel all wrapped up into one!

Trying your hand at eating with chopsticks.

You have always been sensitive and tender hearted, but this past month you have developed empathy. It used to be it didn’t phase you if you accidentally clobbered someone (usually me) while playing. You just didn’t get it. But now, if you think you have hurt someone else you are still sobbing about it long after the other child is done crying and has gone back to play. I never like to see you cry, but I do love seeing that you are becoming such a caring person. I was telling my cousin about this on the phone while following you around the toy section of the store. (Sherie always wants to know what is new with you.) I didn’t realize you were listening in so closely on my end of the conversation. Unfortunately all you understood was that I was telling somebody on the phone that you had hurt someone else. You immediately started shrieking and sobbing. It took you at least 10 minutes to stop crying. I really have to be careful about what I talk about around you now!

Working on your new puzzle with Cori.

You now LOVE to do puzzles, and you are pretty quick at it. One of the things you like about going to therapy is that there are many different puzzles. Since we started going you have gotten so much better at turn taking with the other children there as you put together puzzles together. You were thrilled to receive some new puzzles for your birthday.

You are beginning to show an interest in dressing and undressing yourself now. We’ve been working on being able to take your shoes off and you almost have it down. You take off your own socks. The other day you wanted to put on your own pants and ended up going to get your Daddy for a little help.

Having a jam session with Daddy.

You are liking your potty chair as well. I’ve been wondering about when the right time to start the potty training process with you. I think you have been listening to some of the conversations I’ve had with others about it. For about a week your Dad and I had been confused about a new sign you were using that we didn’t recognize. It turns out you were signing potty! Now you sign potty and we get out your chair. You will sit there for up to 20 minutes at a time if I stay with you and you have toys. When the anticipated action occurs you are so pleased and we make a big deal about flushing it. We are not doing any serious potty training at this point, but you are showing an interest which is an important first step.

You have a certain way of exclaiming that I just can’t figure out how to put into print as it it all in the tone of voice. You use it especially whenever you encounter something that is wrong or somehow inappropriate. Like the bulb syringe being on Daddy’s desk, or the door to Daddy’s office being open in the first place. (After all you know as well as I do that a certain wild toddler is apt to come rampaging through!) Or while at the store with your father and overhearing a woman say to her little girl, “Let’s go see Daddy.” Couldn’t they see that your Daddy was standing RIGHT THERE?

Enjoying a hug from Grandpa Jim.

In the couple of weeks that passed between your 2 birthday dinners (to be able to celebrate with out of town family, I’m pretty sure you now think a birthday is a month long affair) you learned how to blow out your own candle.

Here you can see your Daddy blowing it out for you.

Two weeks later you surprised everyone and had it blown out from across the table before we even finished singing.

So Aunt Jacki lit it again…

so we could catch the moment with the camera. And then we did it yet again, just for fun. 🙂

You REALLY enjoyed the “cupcake” not minding a bit that it was actually a wild blueberry flax muffin with some frosting on it. Turns out the vegan bakery was closed that day and I didn’t have time to bake. I wonder if you will always be this easy to please. Somehow I doubt it, but if you take after your father, you just may be.

I cannot imagine feeling any more blessed to be a mother than I do with you in my life. I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama

Candle Wick Yarn

I just uncovered a bag of Candle Wick Yarn I bought while thrift shopping over Christmas week. I’d squirreled it away in a corner of my sewing area and promptly forgotten about it. I was thrilled to discover it anew a couple of days ago. The price tag reads $2.99 but it may have been a half-price buy. I don’t remember now.

I plan to use it for embroidering. In fact I just used some of the chocolate brown to make this elephant patch for Eli’s backpack.

But there is a lot of yarn here. Perhaps one day I will attempt some candlemaking? Maysem of Ode to Inspiration recently wrote a post about some candles she made that made it sound like a lot of fun. The yarn comes as three strands that I understand are then braided together in different ways depending on how one wants the candle to burn. I always thought it would be fun to make dipped candles. I can imagine doing that with Eli when he is quite a bit older and we are homeschooling, maybe during a unit on the pioneer days.

How would you use a bag of candle wick yarn?

Thanks for reading!

Karen

Here’s where Im linking up.

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeDittle Dattle,

C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet homeCraft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love Creations,

Between U & Me,  Anything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805

“mi elefante” mochila- Toddler Backpack

This week I made a toddler-sized backpack for Eli. It was a super fun project for me and I already have an idea for a second one I want to make. I’m kicking myself for somehow losing track of the tutorial I used to make this. I thought I had pinned it, but when I went back to find it to add the link to this post it wasn’t there. A very similar tutorial can be found here however.

I used a well loved pair of linen pants whose seam had split irrepairably for the body of the bag, and the shirt that I gave my husband the first Christmas after we had met for the straps and front pockets.

I embroidered the words “mi elefante” and added a patch with an embroidered elephant to the front.

After I had sewn the front and the back of the bag together I found that I had accidentally used the wrong side of the back fabric piece. The linen is the same on either side, but as this fabric used to be a pair of pants there was the seam from the inside of the pant leg already sewn into the material.

I decided instead of picking it apart and sewing it together again to embellish the seam with embroidery floss. I liked the effect.

I didn’t have any fabric pens that would show up on this fabric so I wrote out the words “mi elefante” on paper in the size I wanted them to be and then just embroidered it on keeping the letter shapes and sizes as close to the original as possible. There are a couple of letters that appear a little bit wonky to me, but overall I think it worked out okay.

Here you can see the two front pockets a little better. The next backpack I make will use the back pockets from these same pants. They button shut. I may end up going back in on this one to add some sort of closure for these pockets as well.

I wish I had a photo of Eli wearing this as it’s really cute on him. But he is napping, and it will be dark out by the time he wakes up.  I want to get this posted today so the chair gets to be the model this time around.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Update:

Eli woke up a bit earlier than expected, and the days seem to be getting a bit longer. He went out to play in the flower pots and I snapped a few pictures. 🙂 Here are the least blurry ones.

Thanks for reading!

I’ve been featured!

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Here’s where I’m linking up.

Saturday:

The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal

Sunday:

Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog, A Round Tuit

Monday:

Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeA Pinch Of Joy,

C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet homeCraft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful Rising,

Sarahndipities Just Winging ItEverything Under the Moon,

The Cure for the Common Monday

Tuesday:

At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Wednesday:

Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchTea Rose HomeLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots

Thursday:

Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit Bear,

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderSaved by Love Creations,

Between U & Me,  Anything Goes Linky Party,

Friday:

Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805