Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Favorite New Yarn

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Puck's Warm Rainbows

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My Wainbow Hat and Mittens

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The Empty Spaces

I close my eyes and see and hear: skyscrapers, building fronts, the train screeching high above, the rushing river below, honks, the whoosh of traffic, big signs stating "beware of falling ice", hollered cell-phone conversations, beautifully dressed women, dapper men, the murmur of 3 million people moving, chatting, all going somewhere now, here.

I can see and hear this with such clarity because this is not my world. This is a rare treat, a field trip out of my every day life. The quiet space surrounding these infrequent trips to the big city is what defines them so precisely in retrospect. This stands out; the twilight of underground parking garages, the majesty of the buildings housing museums, the dirt of the streets, the underground glow of beluga's bodies in aquarium pools, the brilliant blue of the sky above the buildings, the mist on the frozen Lake Superior. 

My own quiet space may seem like mayhem to some, to those very people who inhabit the great towers, each in their own private, quiet place of respite when they close the door.

What defines your world, your peaceful place, your chaos...?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mother-ease Cloth Diaper Cover Givaway!!!

I am excited and over-joyed and, and...soooo pleased to announce this blog's first-ever givaway, a chance to improve one baby's comfort and give the environment a little extra boost. Mother-ease Cloth Diapers, is offering readers of A Homeschool Story a chance to win a free diaper cover. Since these are the only cloth diapers I have ever used, I am quite partial to Mother-ease. They are the only ones I have ever used because they are the only set of diapers I ever needed. Frugality played an important role in my decision to use cloth. Convenience played the next biggest role. Mother-ease promised a one-size, 0-2 -years diaper and they delivered. They attach with snaps; nice, solid, no-scratch, no-rip snaps. Snaps do not snag on other family members' stockings or favorite sweater, ever, they are way easier than the pins I was expecting to have to use with non-disposables. Mother-ease are sturdy and bleach out pure white when hung in the sun. Since cover and diaper are separate, they dry quickly and the covers do not wear out because they do not need to be washed each change. You can even rinse them out quickly by hand and hang them to dry in a convenient spot. I am not a "housekeeper", ask my mother or my grandmother-in-law. I still can say, that, really and truly, cloth diapering is not a hardship, not difficult, not a big deal, just another load of laundry, no more, no less.

I purchased one set of 24 when my third baby was two months old, and besides the few Toddler-ease I bought for night time for my three, four and five-year-olds,  that has constituted our entire cloth diaper collection these past nine years. I do buy fresh covers as little bottoms grow larger, so I know that this is a givaway that will benefit just about anyone who uses cloth, or is thinking of using cloth, because whether you have prefolds or fancy duds, a new cover is always welcome. No more babies at home? Sign up to win one for a grandchild, niece or nephew! Just leave a comment on this post to enter, make sure your email address or website is indicated so that I can contact the winner. I monitor all comments, so I will keep your email address to myself, it will not be published if you send it in your comment. The winner will be drawn by the  time-tested French method of the youngest child sitting under the table pointing to the piece of cake for the next person...or maybe the good old American method of the drawing a name from a hat. Bonne chance!

Here is a link to the air-flow cover that will be given away:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Speaking the Lingo

What if connecting to one's children were as simple as...acquiring employment outside the home? ...learning something new together?...or purchasing a cool electronic device?

While I am in no way advocating full-time work, and while it is clear that my six and three-year-old boys are not ready for Mama to be missing for too much of their day, it is true that the older ones are seeing me in a new light. So far, my interpreting work has been at most, a few hours a week, so managing both homeschooling and work has been a doable challenge. This week, I have an assignment that will mean 8+ hour days from Tuesday through Friday. After the panic of a child-care dilemma was solved through various kind agents, the "I'm leaving my babies" panic kicked in (no solution for that one), and then the "organization panic" began.

The first item is, of course, meals. This is where being married to a Frenchman has its upside. We sat down together and wrote out our weekly menu, but planned on dishes that could be made ahead of time. Last night we were both in the kitchen cooking for the week. I made a giant pot of tortilla soup, he made lentils and beans. Two nights down, with leftovers to freeze for later. Tonight, as there is no kung-fu, guitar or theatre, I will make the Italian sausage soup that will feed us for two more meals, Pierre will make chili. How great to have the same outlook on feeding our family.

If I am interpreting non-stop for eight hours a day, there are a few tools that will be necessary.

1) A good travel tea mug; check,

2) a small knitting project for the time between when I call my chauffeur and the time he arrives to drive Miss Daisy home; check,

and 3) several good dictionaries with all of the specialty language I will need this week...stumped.

Unless, of course, one had a down-loadable sort of dico. that one could easily and discretely access at all times. After days of deliberation and hours of research, I decided that an i-pod touch would suit my needs and not be a monthly budget drain. I have not seen my Aragorn,12 so excited since the Christmas he was two and opened a giant chocolate Santa. He is so sure he is going to get his little mitts on it to play, and he will, just not this week. He and my husband are having a ball teasing me about my new-found "geekiness". They misattribute my enthusiasm for a really great dictionary that fits in the front pocket of my knitting bag-cum-purse for endorsement of electronic devices. I have a weakness for dictionaries, my favorite calendar is the word-a-day, in Latin. I am a geek that way I now have the entire Larousse French/English dictionary available in the palm of my hand. That is an appropriate use of electronics, and sooo cool. I do look forward to the bonding time that Aragorn and I will have as he teaches me about "apps"; like music and books and games, oh my.

My darling Lily has learned to knit socks. She made me a beautiful purple pair for my birthday, nice, thick ones made for "jumping on the trampoline". Now she is working on a second pair for a mystery recipient. I have the immense pleasure of helping her through rough spots, encouraging and praising her and joyfully seeing her take pride in her work.

As for seeing me and their future in a new light; the kids have suddenly come face-to-face with an almost instant career choice for bi-lingual types; interpreting. They knew I did this before they came along, but they had no idea that both their stay-at-home mother and they themselves could look forward to such a cool choice in part-time or full-time work. Ah, inspiration.

On a wholly personal note, I had a great excuse for knitting time among the chaos of preparation yesterday; I needed a case for my i-pod, of course! I borrowed the rainbow yarn I've been using for Puck's hat and mittens and knitted up a cute little case. I have just remembered about downloading books onto i-pods too. Hmmm,  I wonder if Aragorn can get "Gilda Joyce and the Ladies of the Lake" onto my new toy before I leave for work?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Chemistry

The Chemistry...

of everything we cook, bake and mix in the garage keeps us happy, healthy, or just plain entertained.

of the mix of friends popping in or staying for longer, adds spice to the ordinary.

of the lovely colors of paint, yarn and play dough, brighten and bring life to our world.

of the diverse musical tastes and instruments loved and practiced by all give a harmonious (mostly) sound to our home.

of the lab experiments this week, afford the unique opportunity of burning brightly colored flames and mixing vivid hues of all sorts of liquids (yes, we are all loving it!)

of a family of seven, growing and changing together each day, is not always an easy task, but one I am glad to be a part of.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cloth for Buns in France

I just read the great news that cloth diapering is gaining popularity in France these days. The good news came from this blog: 

When my first two children were born, I was interested in cloth diapering as a way to leave less of a carbon footprint on the planet, save money and as a nicer, more natural way of baby care. There was nowhere to turn, no diapering service, no cloth diapers for sale, no one I knew used them. I moved to the US while expecting my next baby and before she was two months old, she was 100% cloth diapered. I have used that same set of diapers for three children, (they are Motherease one-size diapers, good from birth to two years, here is the website: I just passed most of them on to a new mother to use. What a great investment, what a great comfort measure, compared to the non-stop redness and soreness of disposable-clad bottoms! I even traveled to France with that set of diapers twice,

Monday, January 3, 2011

West O' the Sun, East O' the Moon

The sun and the moon light a path between them in the predawn hours, a path that leads straight to Venus, shining in the white winter sky. The title of the old tale and a favorite children's book mocks me as I struggle to remember if it is the opposite or the same as the vision before me in the sky. I am in the "sweet spot of the universe" as some clod in California dared to call his corner of the world. I'm sure the coast is very nice, I really miss the ocean myself most of the time, but this is it, this is where I am, where my family is and where I am blissfully jumping on the trampoline Santa so kindly left us under the early morning sky in 18 degree weather.

The kids have been very happy munchkins. Not only has Daddy been home from work for a Christmas break, but they have been free to run outside all day, have been indulging in way more screen time than Mama allows when she is in charge and their friends who go to school have also been free to play. Guitars and pianos have been played all day, piles of library books have been read, veritable Lego architectural sculptures have been built and the new trampoline has been used in literally all weather. The sick ones have been taking turns trying to stay in bed and drink tea, the others helping out with cleaning and cooking with a minimum of grumbling and jumping some more on the trampoline.

Lily has been pounding away on her typewriter, working on her book or playing Christmas tunes on the piano. Aragorn has gone snowboarding with a friend, played with his brothers for hours and learned a few new tunes on the guitar. Alienor has had play dates with her best buddy between being sick and celebrating holidays. She has knitted little gifts for everyone and listened to hours of books on CD. Arthur has been spending half his time at the neighbor's house with his friend and the other half either complaining of boredom or building with Legos. Puck has been all over at the same time, helping in the kitchen, running outside, "cooking" in his own little kitchen, delighting us with pretend shish-kebabs and wooden ice-cream cones.

Where is your own favorite place to be? It's fine with me if it is California or anywhere so enviable. For me, it is right here, where the heart and family find themselves.