Monday, December 28, 2009

Vacation from Waldorf Land.

[MOM! Stop reading this if it is before I see you!!!! I mean it! I know how you skip to the end of books!]

So in the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that though my husband is a Waldorf teacher and we have chosen to raise our children quite differently from "the norm" (as in minimal media exposure, emphasis on play, etc.), there are times for other experiences also. Frequently these experiences come when we visit or are visited by our family.

we are sleeping under our quilt!
Though we set some pretty clear boundaries this year about certain console video gaming systems that one well-meaning relative wanted to give our boys ("No. Thanks anyway. But really. No."), we compromised on several new GameBoy game cartridges for Jonas. And Sylvan got two laser tag shooting gun things that light up and make obnoxious noises. The GameBoy comes out a few times a year and Jonas knows this. These things come and go. Was it hard to watch my twinkly-eyed boy display classic symptoms of addiction and withdrawal from the handheld game this weekend? Plugged in and totally tuned out of life for hours at a time? Did I not always love the sound of the laser guns with their beeping as they rocketed by me? Yes it was hard, no I didn't always love it, and thank God these loud obnoxious things have a planned obsolescence (or actually this is pretty gross). But I didn't let it ruin my enjoyment of the weekend either.

The thing that I learned way back in childbirth ed. class was that it's the people who set hard and fast rules for their ideal experience that end up with the exact opposite, like the Universe just comes down on you for being rigid. Vehemently opposed to epidurals and caesareans and want an au naturel birthing experience? You're pretty sure to end up with quite a few interventions. Planning for an epidural? You'll end up too far along to get one anyway and get the natural childbirth that you never wanted.
So. We make these little forays into the mainstream, dipping in our toes so to speak. And then realize why the choices that we have made are right for *our family*. And it's a lot quieter too.
This fun little bag (shhh! for my mom!) is from a new gift book, totally inspiring.
And even better, I used what I had on hand! Love that. I tucked her other little gifts inside. It's sort of the perfect bag for a few books or a knitting project. The two exterior layers are quilted, so there's a little "heft" to it. The cover depicts same bag. I found the instructions in the book a little lacking, but made it up when I wasn't sure and things turned out OK. Not necessarily a beginner's book, but hey! That's cool too, I guess I have moved up in the world!
And this book. Oh, man. Total eye candy. These amazing tree houses are made by some crafty Frenchmen. It is the perfect midwinter fantasy book, thinking of the sound of swishing leaves and golden wood all around me. A great gift from one of Jake's students. Make up an excuse to go out and buy this book.

And have a healthy and happy and peaceful New Year!

Christmas Postcards

Food. Family. Friends. Fun.

The day began with a 6 a.m. violin serenade of "Swallowtail" by Jonas.

An early sled run in PJs with brand-new awesome wooden sled, engraved with our family name on it! Thanks Aunt Care and Uncle Marty.

My favorite sort of breakfast.

And what could be cuter than three men in a kitchen, putting the finishing touches on dinner?

Table for 13.
A lot of laughter.
(and smiley family resemblances)

The gift of Fruity Pebbles from this uncle.
I am happy to report that Sylvan didn't even finish one bowl: "too sweet."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Lusekofte Hat

Well, so that hat, the Lusekofte Hat from my least favorite hat knitting book turns out to be the perfect, classic Norwegian hat pattern. (And just look at the happy grins on the faces of the models on the cover of the book. You can clearly tell the mother and child haven't actually knitted anything from the book.) A few years ago I made this hat, in softest Alpaca, for my brother. Except it was before I realized the gauge issue. So I made a hat that ended up fitting Sylvan. Then thought I had figured out the gauge and knit about half of it, before realizing it STILL wasn't big enough, tearing it out, and knitting the final version. Which turned out beautifully blue and matchymatchy with his handsome blue eyes.
Then he was frolicking about with friends in a snowstorm, lost the hat, only to discover it later, munched up by the snow plow.

So I knit him another, hat, different this time. A hat with stripes like the Fibonacci sequence, which is everywhere in nature, in case you forgot. (In the mean time, I returned to the Lusekofte hat for Jonas, like a woman in a bad relationship who goes back for more bad treatment against all good advice to the contrary.)
you can see the place of prominence
of one of our favorite girls:
front and center in close proximity to creche
But now, my brother has cut all of his hair off. And since the Fibonacci hat is also Alpaca, it stretched out and is now floppy. So he has asked for another hat. It's winter and his head is cold, he tells me.

But not just any hat. The Lusekofte hat. The Norwegian hat that is the bane of my existence. Something knit finely, because he "likes that look." You know, size 3 needles and all that. So I am using Dale Heilo yarn and attacking the Lusekofte again.
frosty mornings lately
It is a library book I am using. And I admit to having a really really strong impulse to DEFACE the book, to actually write in the library book (not even Rockport's own copy!) in PEN, to warn other hapless knitters who might take a knitting book author's word for it on the gauge issue.
And in this season that can sometimes be stressful and rife with disappointment, here is a story that proves that really there is nothing to worry about. All will be taken care of. We had a lovely donated gingerbread cottage at the library, donated by some artistic middle-schoolers. We took donations for tickets and had a drawing on Saturday. Sylvan really really REALLY wanted to win. (I was secretly ambivalent, thinking of people sneezing and coughing, etc.) He happened to be in the library and actually drew the name of the lucky winner. Which was not his.
And he was quite gracious about it all. On Sunday, we went to join our favorite Froggie Princess and Recipient of Handmade Advent calendars for breakfast at her house with her sweet family...She was waiting at the door with a beautiful gingerbread house that she had made for our family. So very special. And almost more special because we had let go of the idea of a gingerbread house altogether.

It's a good thing to remember.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hello Crafting!

I have three knitting projects in process, for three different men in my life. So you know, I can only knit on certain projects in front of certain men. That cute needle case is from Emily, that dear soul, who makes me laugh because when she knits on size 3.5 needles things go so quickly for her (as compared to her usual hummingbird size 000s).

This Hats On! book (Charlene Schurch) is my nemesis. The gauge in it is completely untrustworthy. For example, for a two-color Norwegian hat, the author suggests worsted weight yarn and--get this--6 stitches per inch. OK, so if you are not a knitter, let me translate: Norwegian hats are dainty things with intricate patterns, meaning that they are basically double-knit because you are carrying yarn almost all the time. If you knit them in worsted, at 6 st/in you will have a fabric that is very close to the flexibility of cardboard and about as pliable. Que ridiculo! (More on the reason why I subject myself to this hated pattern FOR THE FOURTH TIME to follow. One hint: L.o.v.e.)
Another round for the elder boy with a fever, only two weeks after he was sick with something similar. So lots of couch time and reading for him. When we decorated the Christmas tree last night, the lights were too bright for him to stay in the room! He's so snuggly when he's sick. We have been reading Nicholas Again for laughs, and also Edith Hamilton's Mythology when we are in a more serious mood (like when Jason is such a superjerk that Medea slays her children), a gift for his eleventh birthday from his GodMama.

Sylvan has been hard at work tending the nature table, blending wooden animals and figures with the plastic Playmobil creche, to admire the new baby. Somehow I think Jesus would approve of this harmonious approach to toy brotherhood/sisterhood. Not that we are really religious most of the time, but the story of a special baby born in December has had significance for our family since we had our firstborn during this month, eleven years ago!
Oh the quilt! Will it be done in time for Christmas??? I can't wait to snuggle under it!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


a lot of nice things start like this:
and when you add mushrooms and garlic,
that may be the aroma of heaven.

It's really nice that the semester is now done for me, but having Thanksgiving sandwiched in there was a little nerve wracking. Now, my Tweens Read blog is done and all my other projects. For the moment. I may still add to it, but right now I am relishing an actual adult novel, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Nice and gothic, a little creepy, and paced for people who have longer attention spans than 9-14 year-olds. The best part: I don't have to pay attention so that I can write about it later.

I. can. just. enjoy. it.

So here's some random tidbits...
Sometimes creative endeavors happen around here when someone puts a plastic zip tie on their thumb, which almost immediately begins to turn red from the pressure. Thumb was saved from gangrene or whatever the danger is from that sort of activity, I am happy to report.
Oh, the turkey baster. So much in demand around here as a play thing. Perpetually popular. I do get a little tired of picking it up from random places, like the rug or under the couch. Think of it. Some poor turkey basters just languish in a kitchen drawer, forgotten but for a few ventures out per year. Not so, ours. But really, someday I may miss these household still-lives: Turkey Baster with String and Hairbrush.
Some people enjoy playing games that require hours worth of rule-reading and assimilation. BEFORE. YOU. EVEN. START. PLAYING. Some people like to watch golf on TV. Others like to watch their own knitting with self-striping yarn. Or paint drying on walls. While this activity was happening, I was probably writing a Tweens Read blogpost on Thanksgiving.
Jonas sometimes has these amazing ideas. You may know that we have a few small girls who we adore around here; lacking any daughters/sisters in our own house, we borrow them when we can. You may remember our four year-old Froggie Hostess? She who arrived in a box, hand-delivered by UPS?
So. Jonas decided to make her an advent calendar.

It became a family endeavor. Jacob and Jonas worked on the painting each evening together.

Jacob cut out each door. I used my favorite .02 Micron black pen to draw tiny interior pictures for under the little doors.

Sylvan and Jonas colored the pictures in one morning before school, so that we could deliver it to her that afternoon. Not quite in time for the 1st of December, but pretty close. As it turned out, perfectly, her mom had been scouring local and online sources for S's very first advent calendar. But hadn't found the right one yet.

Truly a gift in the spirit of the best ones: conceiving, creating, and giving something handmade can be as fun as getting a present yourself. Because the gift is that twinkly sparkly brown-eyed angel girl's smile when she sees what you've made her. And every morning, we wonder which picture she's opened.