Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mother-Daughter Knitting Project

Lily made me these great purple socks for Christmas last year. The toes were a little tight and I promised her I would undo and redo them to my size. However, as I was unknitting, the idea of having my very own pair of pedi-socks was so much fun that I asked her permission to leave the toes out and add green trim. Voila; peek-a-toes AND warm feet!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Book I Would Take With Me

You know the old dinner-conversation question; if you were headed to a desert island and you could take only one book, what would it be? This book is definitely on the top of my list, especially if I am going to be on that island with my children.

It is "that book" that we reach for over and over, as we learn about the seasons, history, math or grammar. Sometimes we learn a poem by heart by reciting and copying it, sometimes it is just the reading for the day.

I am a lover of poetry, so I love that I can find works by the great poets of times past as well as lesser known painters of verse. There are poems about the weather, animals, numbers, love and war. When I want a little teacher inspiration, I look to verses by Steiner. When we need a new grace to remind us to be thankful for all that we have, I look here. And sometimes I look for ways to tell my children how much trouble they are in or how much I love them in new words. This is the book I pick up first. 

Lessons from the Bench

Criminal court at the County Courthouse at 8:30am is a crowded place. The lawyers on both sides are huddled in small groups and pairings, the guards watchful on the sidelines. The French interpreter is present, flanked by her two oldest children dressed in their very best. Heads turn from the first moments; kids in here? 

Aragorn and Lily take it all in, as I had hoped they would. Everything is new, everything is fairly solemn and formal. The bailiff announces the judge's entrance and all rise. My offspring are still and absolutely silent throughout the proceedings (they'd better be, the bailiff would have them out of the courtroom in two seconds otherwise and they know it.) The books they've brought along for the first half-hour wait are closed and forgotten. 

Things were rather noisy in the courtroom and it was hard to hear the discussions at the bench over the whisperings of the attorneys. My initial disappointment at this later gave way to appreciation: they can always read accounts of what happens in a courtroom, the visual was what would be most powerful here today. The sight of prisoners, young and old, male and female, being brought out in shackles, brown granny flip-flops and orange jump suits, made, I hope, a lasting impression on young minds. The friendly solemnity of this particular judge, and the kind sollicitation of both a defense attorney I'd worked with in the past and the public defendant in this case, did much to make my children feel at home.

My assessment of the whole experience? I will admit to unabashed motherly love and pride in my children. I had so much fun having them with me. They were perfectly polite, showed an interest in everything taking place and thanked me oodles afterwards. A good day.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hopes, Dreams and Plans

A rock star or skateboard hero, a famous writer, an artist or something else, a dad and a hairdresser. These are the careers my children plan for themselves for the future. The future though, is in a long time. When you are all grown up, or at least 18. I encourage the kids by seeking out real life experience in whatever they are interested in, when it truly grows to a passion, understanding all the while that it may most likely be a passing one.

When Lily was eleven, she wanted to be a vet. She asked, and our exotic animal vet allowed her to shadow her for a day. She learned about pet ducks who swallow fishing hooks and how a dog is neutered. She came home so full of enthusiasm from that day! The vet had treated her as a real assistant and explained everything as she did it. When Aragorn was into drawing, I sought out real artists to learn from. One was a first-year college art student, who ended up doing a fantastic job, even though his specialty would influence my nine-year-old in unexpected ways; he was a graffiti artist. To his credit, he did begin with "real" drawing lessons; how to draw the human body. The next teacher chose Aragorn after a free class at the library; he was a professional comic artist.That was a lot of fun for him, and he has continued in comic-type drawing to this day.

They are both interested in the justice system and how things work in court. I may be able to oblige them by letting them sit in the courtroom while I interpret later this week. That is definitely a "big kid" project, as they will need to sit still, observe and not speak for a few hours at a time.

Now that Alienor has taken up cosmetology, I oblige by holding still and having my hair done. She really wished me to post the following pic of her latest work. I am afraid my unruly hair was already coming loose by the time she shot the photo. I think I'll see if her favorite hair lady will let her hang out with her for half a day. Perhaps she'll master the fine art of extra bobby pins!

When Alienor Does Mama's Hair

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snowless Winter and Adapting

This is the oddest winter, as anyone living anywhere probably knows. It is snowing in temperate, coastal France this week and here in the Midwest, we have fog and sunshine and rain. Unseasonal? Unreasonable! 

I worried in the beginning of the snow? Warm weather? How would I cope? What would my winter be without the whiteness that brightens the brown landscape of December through April here? As time went on and we enjoyed more time outdoors without freezing our fingertips and noses off, the advantages of warmer weather were felt, even if I continued to glare at those who positively exalted in the absence of snow.

I have finally stopped glowering. I now relax, and make the choice to take each day as it comes. If it snows, we go sledding, enjoying the moment, because it will most likely be gone tomorrow. If it is 55 and sunny, my daily walk is pleasant, a trip to the skate park becomes urgent (for certain family members), and the garbage is much easier to take out.

In my region, we are so used to hardship in the winter; the shoveling and heating bills and cold toes, that we may have forgotten how to enjoy the simple things in life that come to us unbidden. A warm breeze on your face in January, the soft sound of rain in early February, the delightful sight of your neighbors out raking their leaves. Now that Candlemas has come and the light is growing stronger, the feeling of having been cheated out of winter could take over and make me nostalgic for the good old days; of 30 below temperatures and three feet of snow overnight. I could choose to worry excessively about global warming and ponder the dire fate awaiting us.

I will keep living in a green way and learning about our ecological crises. I have sufficiently mourned this year's snowfall. But I will also bask in the warm weather as I take my small dog for a walk through streets free of slush and snow and ice, and look to the coming spring.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Swap Package: Reception!!!

Packages are so nice. I was as excited as a kid to open one up from New Zealand a little while ago and find...a gift from my friend, Marie. She sent me this little guy, along with photos of her creations. I am preparing a package for her in exchange, with knitted items and a couple of goodies. Thank you, Marie! Rainbow boy is already hanging in the spot Puck chose on a pale blue wall. Gorgeous! You can see her felted works of art on her blog: or at her etsy shop:
I set her post cards in my winter yard just for a second, so that she can compare seasons here and there. It is such a snowless, muddy sort of winter this year. I am sure the warm summer must be prettier down under. Or at least behaving the way the season is supposed to be behaving. 
That's OK. Now I have a beautiful felted fairy boy to gaze on and cheer up my days until spring and beyond.

Marie's New Zealand Work; my winter grass

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Beautiful Rainbow Boy

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