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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Saturday, 31 December 2011
This Christmas, we welcomed two new boys to our family!
Of the furry kind...

Ghidora and Godzilla ~ Rowan and her Daddy love monster movies~ came home on the 27th and have quickly adjusted to their new home, rewarding our patience with lots of chirps and purring, popcorning (when piggies leap about, it really looks like popcorn popping!) and happy 'wheeks'.

Guinea pigs are *not* quiet pets!
But their happy little noises make everyone smile.
And yes, they do produce as much 'output' as people say, it is rather shocking how much these little munchers can leave behind!

We are really pleased so far with the function of our homemade cage.
Super easy to clean a little every day and clean out completely once every 5-7 days.
They have a kitchen area (pictured below) with litter and a living area (above) with re-useable fleece.

So far Murray, the Papillon (all 4.5 pounds of him) hasn't really seen the piggies, and his lack of curiosity is reassuring!  Archie, the Sheltie, has licked (Rowan says kissed, I say tasted!) each of them and is feeling pretty paternal~ that herding instinct is so strong and leads to his gentle care of any creature he finds (he is, however highly supervised at all times near the piggies!).

Our 6 year old was a little disappointed at first that she couldn't just play with the pigs, but as we are becoming able to hold them, she is enjoying reading to them and today she coloured with them for about an hour, apparently they told her what to colour and she did as they said...! 

It has been a great life lesson in patience for her to wait on them to warm up to us, as well as one of self-control in the presence of a small and skittish animal. Each day we are giving her more of the care tasks, as well.
Friday, 30 December 2011
Our family began a new tradition this year: to read a holiday themed book every day, together by the Christmas Tree, for the 25 days of December leading up to Christmas.

We did pretty well!
I managed to get re-usable fabric bags made for all 25 days, with numbered tags~ this will help us continue the tradition next year, as books and bags can be stored together, ready for reading.

We fell short on the days when we didn't have a book ~ our collection was only about 18 books, and that was using some questionable titles we would prefer to cull~ my plan had been to borrow from the library, but this never came to fruition. However, we did add a couple of new books this year, and hope to do so as the years go on!

I did promise to report on our final books, so here we go...
On the 23rd we read One Winter's Night, written by John Herman and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. I am familiar with the amazing illustration work of the Dillons and it is put to moving use in this tale that parallels the birth of the baby Jesus with the labouring of a lost and lonely cow.   Sounds odd, written that way! But it works.

As the cow moves through the snowy night in desperate search of warmth and shelter, her footsteps are foreshadowed by a young man and woman on the same quest, and followed by the forest creatures.  The main illustrations follow Martha's journey, while on the facing page, simple woodcuts follow the young couple.

It is a reading experience of looking out of the side of your eyes... as you follow and read about Martha, you know the tale unfolding although it is never mentioned directly.  It is very engaging for school age children who feel the confidence of the familiar tale and are curious about the cow's story, too.

On the 24th we read The Nigh Before Christmas (of course!)~ the classic poem, not one of the many derivations including a Zombie and a Canadian one we have come across! It never gets old, and we read it with breath-held wonder anew every year,
And on Christmas Day, after a long drive and a wonderful time with family, we settled down to read our new Christmas book... The Polar Express.  This story was never part of our Christmas traditions, but we thoroughly enjoyed it and will look forward to hearing the ringing of that silver sleigh bell again next year!
And before we put it away, I am going to have to take the time to listen to the enclosed CD with the story read by Liam Neeson (♥).

There you have it... nearly 25 holiday books~ maybe some are new to you... enjoy!
And I do need to make an honourable mention for the best Christmas movie of our season.
No.. it was not A Christmas Story, which my highly sensitive daughter found upsetting in three ways: the boy's tongue getting stuck, the roast duck and Ralphie very nearly shooting out his eye!
And while Rudolph is a perennial favourite (and I have a soft spot for Rudolph's Shiny New Year), the top honours in our house go to A Muppet Christmas Carol~ heartfelt, feel good, Christmas spirited! ♥♥
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Keep your young skater’s toes warm and cozy while they skate this winter!
Knit these fun and endlessly embellish-able boot covers in a night or two.
Your skater’s will have warm toes while they bunny hop the winter away!
Ravelry users, you can add this pattern to your faves by following THIS LINK.
skate, boot, covers, warmers, skate covers, skate warmers, handmade, knit, knitting, knitted, pattern, free, diy, wool, yarn, girl's, children, figure skates, figure skating, free pattern
 My daughter was having trouble with her toes getting cold before she was ready to come off the ice.
I couldn’t find a pattern for what I needed.
Of course, I could have bought skate covers, but where is the fun in that?!
So after much trial and error, adapting other footwear patterns,  and a few wild leaps, the Bunny Hop Skate Warmers were born... and no more cold toes!
These slip over boot covers stay over the skates with their own weight.
I am all about the natural fibers, but in this case choosing a superwash or synthetic yarn is suggested as they will get wet and need drying~ natural wool covers risk being felted (and shrinking!) in this repeated process.
Adapting this pattern up or down in size  is as simple as adding stitches or subtracting enough
stitches to shift the pattern to fit the boot size. Math is not my strong suit, and since this is a free
pattern, I figured I would let you clever types do the calculations!

This pattern, as written, will fit girl’s figure skates from size 11 - 2.

     ❄    knit & purl (stockinette stitch)
     ❄    moss (or seed) stitch or ribbing if preferred
     ❄    k2tog and SSK (knit 2 together and slip slip knit) decreases
     ❄    long tail cast on (creates a stretchy hem)
     ❄    Zimmerman’s sewn bind off (or other bind off as preferred)

     ❅    3.5 oz. of worsted weight yarn
     ❅    Stitch marker
     ❅    blunt needle for sewing in ends
     ❅    16" circular and/or DPNs (size 5/ 3.75 mm)
                    I start these with the circular and switch to the DPNS on the ankle, but you could
                    remain on the circulars using the Magic Loop technique.
Gauge is less important than creating a bootie that fits the skates.
I used a heavy worsted and the size 5 needles for a gauge of 1" = 5 st.
I would use a 6 or 7 needle on a lighter worsted.
Size to the boot as you go.

Cast on 76 stitches using a long tail cast on.
Place marker and join in the round.

Knit 12 rows in moss stitch.
Add 2-4 rows if making size 1 or 2.
(If possible, check against the skate to ensure that these rows will easily cover the toe of the boot,
which is slightly lower than the heel on a figure skate).

Begin decreasing on every round as follows:
K 35, K2tog, P2, SSK, K 35
continue until you have 40 stitches left on the needle(s).

Knit 22 rows
(or number needed to reach top of skate boot) in moss stitch.

Bind off using Elisabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind off to create a pretty, stretchy edge.

with buttons or pompoms, or whatever you choose!
Alternate pattern: replace all of the moss stitch with k2, p2 ribbing.

The warmers are pictured below with the ankle cuff turned down.
 skate, boot, covers, warmers, skate covers, skate warmers, handmade, knit, knitting, knitted, pattern, free, diy, wool, yarn, girl's, children, figure skates, figure skating, free pattern
This pattern is being offered to you free of charge.
You are welcome to do what you like with what you make, but credit for the design to 
Beneath the Rowan Tree ©2011 and a link back to 
is an appreciated courtesy.
The text and photos of this pattern are protected under copyright and may not be used in any way without  permission from Lori Campbell/ Beneath the Rowan Tree. ♥♥
Friday, 23 December 2011
We have had so much fun making and preparing this guinea pig home for Christmas!

Daughter Rowan, age 6, is excitedly hoping that Santa will bring her a Guinea Pig Gift Certificate (since we all know Santa never brings live animals, right?!) to redeem after Christmas for two little piggies.
I happen to know that Santa is going to grant her wish.

So we have been getting ready....
Guinea Pig cages ain't what they used to be!
This is a 'C & C' (cubes and coroplast) cage~ made by Daddy, decorated by Mommy.
It features a fleece lined living room~ fleece backed with toweling~ think cloth diapers! should last a week or so with extra absorbent pads under the sleeping areas~ all washable and re-useable.
And a kitchen for food and litter box which is filled with disposable, recycled bedding.
The door slides in and out (pictured out) so Rowan can access the animals easily.
We plan on picking up our new pets a few days after Christmas, and we'll keep you posted!
We expect Archie the Sheltie will be thrilled to have little herd animals to herd, but we do have concerns about Murray~ while GPs will be nearly his size (all 4.5 pounds of him), he has the heart of a ratter! Eek! ♥♥
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
These sweet little candy cane ponies are sweet, simple and adorable!
 Not to mention great for using up lots of odd ends of yarn, as gauge and weight are not critical, and easy to adapt.
You can find the pattern details here: Candy Cane Ponies from Hollinger Fiber Farm.
I made 2 dozen and Rowan is giving them out to friends and family for Christmas.
If you purchase the pattern ($2), note that I didn't tie the ends of the yarn around the canes, and they seem to stay put just fine (I pictured how tangled they would become when I pack the ornaments away for next year with dangling yarn!).

I also opted out of adding eyes, and made the reins from yarn to keep them natural and avoid messing with glue (and ending up with one eyed ponies some year, 'cause that would be creepy!~ but then again maybe no-eyed ponies are creepier?!).

A great project for a novice knitter or even a spool knitter!

Rowan lent me her thumbs to make our holiday cards~ we used ink, Sharpies, the backs of old business cards, a glue stick and card stock. 
Easy peasy!♥♥
We are hanging in there!
Our plan to read a holiday book a day in December has slipped slightly off course... I was short a few books and got too busy to fill those slots with borrowed ones.

But we did take time for a book we treasure last night.
Brian Wildsmith's A Christmas Story is the simply told story of a baby donkey and the girl who cares for him while his mother sets off on a journey with her neighbours~ Mary and Joseph.

I love how the story is so simply told, and the focus is held to the donkey and the child (and the little tabby cat trailing along) as they follow in the footsteps of the Nativity story... encountering all of the players along the way, but unaware of the story unfolding beyond their own.
 Gorgeously illustrated, with golden bursts, twinkling snow and rich hillsides illuminated by stunning angels, the larger story is seen through windows and heard from spectators.
Very effectively done.
The multiple layers of the story and pictures will allow children to enjoy it with fresh wonder each year.♥♥
Monday, 19 December 2011
You know that I found this one on Pinterest.
This Christmas I am all about the Pinterest finds!
scrappy, scrap, yarn, scrap yarn, wreath, fiber, craft, kids, children, christmas, holiday, handmade, child

These sweet little yarn wrapped wreath ornaments are easy to make.
Do set aside a fair bit of time for little ones to wrap their yarn.
At our house, one was enough for my 6 year old's patience and interest (and she is a pretty craft friendly kid).
We embellished our finished wreaths with beads, silk ribbon and flowers.

You can find the tutorial at Christopher and Tia.
We pretty much followed these directions, subbing in wooden rings for the Styrofoam ones for a more natural, sturdier wreath.
So gather up your yarn scraps and get wrap happy!♥♥
And while you are crafting, why not give this very cool candle a try!
It really works and smells so nice, too....
The Orange Candle from Apartment Therapy:
Sunday, 18 December 2011
*whistles innocently*
What? Days 16 and 17? Did I miss those...
Yes, yes I did.

But I am here with Day 18 of our book a day holiday reading extravaganza~!

This one was an 'on sale' book I picked up last year.
Rowan loved it last year, but this year... it made her cry.

The Most Precious Gift by Marty Crisp and illustrated by Cooper Floyd, is the tale of a boy, Ameer, traveling with the Kings to see Jesus.  On his journey he agonizes over what gift he can give to the child, while simultaneously recollecting his relationship with his dog, Ra.  When he arrives in Bethlehem, he decides to give his dog to the holy family.

Yes, it is the giving of his beloved pet to the child that left my daughter, dog lover, in tears.

She felt the pain of Ameer in leaving his best friend, but she also understood the wonder of giving all that you have to another~ and how painful that may be, no matter how right the decision.
Which brought more tears... but tears mean snuggles and we had a close family time and some thoughtful discussion ♥.

On the whole, the book leaves me a little cold~ it does pull at the heartstrings, I like having a book with the characters of the story illustrated as eastern rather than western peoples,  and I appreciate a good midrashic turn on the traditional tale.

But once the boy arrives in Bethlehem, the story takes on an odd contrived feeling, with swarming crowds ALL bringing rich gifts, a bouncer, a half-hearted king and a precociously theological Mary.  If the boy had simply offered his dog, we would have gotten the point, without all of the hammy exegesis to bog it down.

{{Speaking of hammy exegesis.... Insert internal replay of the manger scene from The Life of Brian~ "a bomb? what'dya give him a bomb for?!"}}

I love the idea of this one and I want to like it more than I actually do, so we will definitely give it another chance.
Friday, 16 December 2011
Just how far can I stretch a metaphor?
Watch me... I'm a preacher....

You may have read my post several months ago about arriving in Budapest when I thought I was headed to Rome (parenting -wise, that is).
Well, it turns out it isn't even Budapest (stretch that metaphor!), but another destination, which may look like Budapest, but is really a whole other city!

Monday we had a very thorough and understanding (bless him!) appointment with a pediatrician (in Canada we only go to a pediatrician as a specialist by referral, not as a matter of course). His diagnosis is that Rowan is an excruciatingly sensitive child with significant anxiety as a result and NOT ADHD.

Her entire history speaks to neurological sensitivity.
She has allergies and eczema.
She had GERD (reflux) and food sensitivities.
She reacts strongly to all physical stimuli~ ie. hunger is experienced as stomach pain, hair brushing is a delicate task etc.
She is emotional reactive, sensitive to any negative nuances, prone to meltdowns when overwhelmed.
She is sensitive to touch, clothing, loud noise, strong tastes, smells.
To thoughts, ideas~ scary stories, pictures, movies... and imagined scary things, too.
To any sort of change.

And so on.

It is exhausting, some days, for all of us.

The doctor was very compassionate and understanding.
(The very fact that I wanted to talk to him with Rowan out of the room confirmed his diagnosis~ she would have been dreadfully hurt to hear us discuss her 'problems').
He 'gets' that everything about Rowan~ her experiences and her personality, is intense.
And that as a result, she becomes easily overwhelmed by things that pass others by~ all of which can lead to pathological expressions like anxiety, obsessive compulsiveness (Ro is currently hoarding rocks and leaves as a coping mechanism), tics (which she has expressed since 18 months of age), sleep issues (life long) and attention issues (focus, prioritizing, staying on task are all difficult when anxious + bombarded by stimuli).
Down the road, the umbrella diagnosis of Tourette's may be applied, but at this stage it Anxiety with a capital 'A'.

It was (is!) a lot to take in.
The 'treatment' is a safe, stable peaceful environment as much as possible, ongoing work with a mental health professional for cognitive behaviour therapy (learning to cope, relax, respond), responding to the ADHD like behaviours with strategies to help her cope and lots of patience(!).  Ideally, if her anxiety is curbed, the other issues will ease as well.

Honestly, I am relieved to have an explanation.
To have someone put it all together and recognize that our happy, brilliant, creative, quirky kid struggles to express her gifts, and that we as parents have hoed a difficult row!
To have it all put together~ that we are not just rotten parents because our kid doesn't sleep, is afraid of everything, has tantrums at 6...
The doctor was very realistic (it ain't gonna be easy!), but also very positive~ that Rowan's sensitivity is a GIFT to herself, to us and to the world.  That as a person who leads with her feelings, who is compassionate and kind because she senses others' feelings as well, she can be happy, confident and live into her potential.

As I read more about 'highly sensitive' people, I recognize myself, both physically and emotionally, too.
And while I worry~ her latest tic includes blinking and rubbing her eyes until they are red and even begin to bruise~ I also know that we can do 'this', whatever it is, whatever name they decide to call it.  And understanding what we are dealing with is a HUGE step in the right direction.

Oddly enough, over two years ago I purchased a copy of Your Highly Sensitive Child.  I have taken it out again, found my old notes confirming this trait in Rowan, and begun reading it again.

Parenting is always a tough job!
And we rarely end up where we expect to be.
But I wouldn't be any where else.
No, really.
They are for the dogs!

Last year, I made a stocking for Archie.
And since Murray joined our family this year, he needed one too.
A fact Rowan has not let me forget.

So yesterday I finally carved out some time to do Murray's stocking.
This is Murray~ all 4.5 pounds of buggy eyed, squirrelish Papillon.
I dug into my stash of wool felt to find the colours I needed, and began to snip and turn it to create the basic shapes and layers needed.
 And then began to sew them down, from the back/bottom up, using embroidery floss and blanket stitching.
Murray's eyes were a particular challenge, being dark, upon dark fur, but using black felt and dark brown floss seemed to do the trick, with a French Knot for a pupil adding the needed dimension.
Once the front was completed, with his name and some holly, I machine stitched the front and back together and added some rick-rack for hanging.
And now Murray's stocking can join Archie's on the mantle as we all wait Santa Claus to fill them!
This book.
I had to have Andy read it because I can not do it again.

Because Rowan *loves* it and I have read it fifty bajillion times, all year long since she was 3.

Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer is definitely a hit around here.
It is sweet, funny, has running gags and flaps to open, what's not to love?

We are reading a holiday book a day in December, scroll down to find our reads so far!

Day 14 brought us The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett.
This book was new to us last Christmas, and what a wonderful book!

The story is about Teeka, a girl put in charge of preparing Santa's reindeer for Christmas Eve.
Teeka is determined to do a good job and sets out with a heavy hand and loud voice...
to which the reindeer do not respond well!
Once disaster strikes, she realizes that she needs to be more gentle and work WITH the deer.
A great lesson for all of us, especially, I think, us parents!

The story is gentle, humourous and kind.
The illustrations are incredibly rich and detailed, revealing new beauty with each read.
Rowan especially enjoys the sidebar illustrations, one for each day of December, picturing the elves preparing all the Christmas toys and goodies.

I have to admit that this is the only Jan Brett story we own (how did that happen?!), but we will have to add some more to our collection.   I also found it interesting that a quick search for this book online yields many lesson plans and activities for kids!

What Jan Brett titles would you suggest?♥♥
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
We are reading one holiday book each day in the month of December.
Our books are packaged in re-usable, tagged gift bags and displayed in a basket by our tree.
I am getting to a lean patch of empty bags, though, and need to hit the library tomorrow!

Yesterday's book was The Christmas Donkey.
Another Little Golden Book.

This one is a simple story about a donkey who is purchased in Egypt and endures hardship until he finds a home in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph... and eventually takes them to safety back at his home in Egypt.
Pretty straightforward, more of a filler than a favourite, but one I could see using to help children consider the Christmas story from other points of view.
You've gotta love sweet, simple, personal Christmas cards!
This idea gets a thumbs up {groan}.
card, christmas, tutorial, diy, kids, child, children, thumb print, thumb, thumbprint, bright, easy, toddler, preschool, homeschool, christmas, lights
Pinterest does it again!
I found this little gem of an idea here: Meet the Dubiens. (click for full instructions)

As we are intent on making all of our Christmas crafts from items and supplies we already have at home, we used watercolour paper and stamping ink to get the job done!
Sweet, simple, almost-instant Christmas art. 
Perfect for grandparents!
On a card, in a frame... you decide!
Have fun!♥♥
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