Friday, March 17, 2017

The Magic of Nighttime Snow/Cub Scout Outing

This was a guys' night only; Charles was skiing with his Boy Scout troop, and Thierry kept an eye on Gael and the Cub Scouts who were sledding like madmen (it was probably a good thing Mama was not there stressing). Thank you for the photos, mon cheri, they are a treasure!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Knitting and Books: An EZ Jacket and the Law

What a week, and it's only Wednesday. Monday night, after clearing a FOOT of snow off my car, there was still parts I could not reach, way in the middle. I had to drive to work Tuesday, with a mohawk on my car. I was not in San Francisco this was Wisconsin.  Trial cancelled and I turned around and drove back home. No cozy nights knitting in my hotel room, no adult dinners with colleagues, hearing about their far away travels and homey projects. But I have the great, big fat joy of being home again with my family, and there is nothing quite as nice in the whole wide world!

Joining Ginny's Yarn Along at

I love the concept of sharing what one is reading and what is on your needles; especially when it is clear that the sorts of people who knit and read seldom have just one of either going at the same time. A choice then, what to share this week? And a chance to be curious, what is everyone else knitting? Here, then, are this week's two obsessions; the EZ Tomten Jacket I really, really want to complete...yesterday, and the dictionary. I kid you not. The more I learn about law, the more I discover I need to learn, and this has been my constant companion day and night while I prepped for a trial earlier this week. So here is an ode to  Elizabeth Zimmerman, and to Jean-Daniel Katz, two maestros.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ze Moustache

Knit-Along with Ginny at Small Things

Here is my read of the week, and one of the itsy-bitsy parts of a project that has been ongoing; a mustache for a monster. Completed monster coming soon.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chicken Soup and Honey

"I'll have my tea now," from the apparently sound asleep little boy I was checking up on. He'd gone to bed with a fever and conked out before finishing his mug of tea. None of this was going through my mind just now, tea? Huh? "Child, it's three in the morning, how about water?"

"O.K., but I'm hungry and I'm going to throw up."

"I'll get the tea." Resigned and more than half groggy, I leave my little guy IN HIS BED and go down to fetch a cup of chamomile, because chamomile is good for upset tummies. When I return, child is in the same position, and he matter-of-factly lets me know he has barfed, his term, not mine.

It has been a hard week; norovirus, better known as "stomach flu", influenza, three kids down, and they have been taking turns being ill with one or another, or both at the same time. Yesterday, it was at the point where the decision was made not to make lunch, on a Sunday...radical around here. There was not an able-body among the three kids who were home. Their positions ranged from curled on a sofa under a bathrobe to face down on a bean bag with another bean bag on top for warmth. My husband, after making pancakes for all of these unhungry little beasties, decided a bike ride was in order.

I sat and ate something, still in my sweats, because I had begun working on taxes early in the morning in bed, and had simply not transitioned to full wakefulness, while Gael had a bowl of chicken soup, then Valentine decided she would have a bowl of soup too. Charles was still sprawled over the love seat in the sun. They ate slowly, but I could see that the heat of the soup was bringing back a little color in their cheeks. "Charles; a mug of soup, sweetie?" "Hmm, what, huh? Yes, please, I think. If it's already warm." "It is no problem to warm it up again." "No, never mind, don't trouble yourself." "It is already done, come over!" And there we were, a family. We were rather a motley crew, but beginning to talk, and argue and tease...and heal again. 

Checking in: one week later. I did not even have a minute to hit "publish," when Duncan was also hit with the flu, and then my husband. Goodness. One of the first things I did was buy a giant jug; three or four lbs. of local honey, to put in their tea day and night. Two days ago, I returned to the whole foods store for another jug; we were out. Whether it is from my licking the spoon after stirring in honey for everyone else, or, as Thierry claims, out of sheer stubbornness, I have not been as ill as everyone else.  There is fresh bread baking and soup's on for lunch, with honey for dessert.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Valentine's Day and Tasha Tudor

Countdown to Valentine's Day? February does tend to get long and boring. I have found a calendar to bring us to the next holiday. And by Tasha Tudor, who had a great fondness for Valentine's Day. 
Valentine's Day in France was not so much meant to be shared among family or friends, it was strictly for sweethearts. I love our traditions here, especially the ones involving chocolate and champagne, and preparing little gifts  for the kids.
This is the lovely wrapping that brought this treasure to our door:

And here is the calendar, super cute to gaze at and discover, even with all the windows and doors shuttered up. Each time I look, I find a new element tucked away in a corner or behind flowers.

I am sure there will be a mad dash to be the first to open a window, even at the ages of 9, 12, 15 and 18. Happy February!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Museum Homeschooling Series #2: The Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

Dubuque, Iowa is my hometown, and it is also host to the largest, truly incredible museum on the Mississippi River and the history of the peoples who have inhabited the area. In a single visit, you can do everything from petting a freshwater sting ray, to trying your hand at shaving roof shingles, to dreamily meandering through the aquarium section.

Our first study unit (main lesson block) of the year was local and U.S. history. I planned the museum visit as a part of this block. Native peoples, the land, the water and pioneers were all on the agenda, and I knew we would encounter them here, as well as the children's favorite alligator tank. What I did not know, was that the museum I had last visited a few years ago, was also constantly expanding and changing, adding ever new places to explore and chapters in the earth's history. This museum, in particular, makes it very easy to keep curiosity alive while exploring and having fun. The boys could be looking at arrow heads while I read aloud to them about Native American's respect for animals and all of life. They could stick their head in a turtle while I read the quotes about the mighty river and its connection to all. We had quite a visit.

Resources of the Mississippi (much depleted): Button-making clam shells:
Early European settlers' cabin:
The walkway between the cabin and a main building; there used to be a wigwam here...
Soil erosion lesson;
This goes nicely with Native American stories in a 3rd grade Waldorf curriculum, and animal stories in 4th grade.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Museum Homeschooling Series: #1: Discovery

I am not going to hand you one single formula that will always work for every museum you tour. This is not about extracting every ounce of learning to be had at each and every visit. I am not always that kind of homeschooler!  I will give you examples of different ways to approach a museum visit at a new venue each time.

                                              Charles, in a typhoon-wind-velocity simulator.
Museums can be wonderful places to learn and wonder. They can be both places to discover and to spark interest in learning more. You can take it to the next level with research and a plan in hand before leaving the house, you can explore every nook and cranny together, or you can grab your knitting and let them go (for those who are old enough not to touch what must not be touched) and let the discovery be self-led.

This week's museum was our local Putnam, a science and natural history museum. We specifically went to see the traveling Pirates and Shipwrecks, an exhibit that truly had something of interest for every single age group. The approach this time, was to go and discover together. We were all given free-reign, and called each other over to see what we had found of interest in one corner or another. It was fun, a lot of fun.

Yes, those are actually my off-spring:

The spots the boys called me to were mostly the truly gory ones; the skull hanging in iridescent blue spookiness, descriptions of pirates' lives, the weapons window with cutlasses and daggers.

I was more often reading them other historical items of interest; here are a few.

Each of the objects below is followed by the signage describing it, I love seeing the treasures brought up from the bottom of the sea.

We were all set to go home, when we made one last discovery: the museum had emptied itself of the dozens of bused-in school children, and the place was OURS. Instead of the two boys who were sooo ready to go home, I now had two young men eager to take advantage of every single one of their favorite spots, ie: (Lego station above with Hall of Mammals behind), while I knit and knit and took a break to participate in a car race or visit the submarine every hour or so. Paradise. 

Next up: mindful visit, after study of a period in history, to a giant of a museum; the National Mississippi River Museum.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Road Trip: Colorado!

                                                            Just look. Wonder and look.

They ALL love to climb the boulders, it's their mini-Everest. Oldest on top, Charles half-way down. He made the most trips up and down, part mountain-goat, that child.
Mon amouur in our warm and cozy cabin (which was especially warm the first night, as Cate had found the thermostat and cranked it to 79 before we figured out why we were all removing layers of clothing.) She was the child who used to sleep in pj's, a sleeper AND a wool sweater.

Valentine/Ariel, wondering how the heck a mermaid found this comfortable:
 We stay at a YMCA complex when we go; some of the perks: playground equipment by the cabin:
 A lesson in bravery, perseverance and endurance:

This next one, I'll admit, was my: "please get out of the car, the lake is so beautiful and we never did get a family photo!" Alas, there was no one around to snap it, so we are still missing Papa, but look at those colors!
Sleepy brothers on the way:

One last glimpse of the snowy peaks; exhilarating and mournful, but with the promise of home at the end of the road.