Friday, February 29, 2008

Do you knit?

I don't - not really. I'd like to, but my knitting, like my sewing, is utilitarian.

My sister sews. She could be a professional. She's meticulous and a perfectionist. She visited me for a few weeks last summer and made two window dressings, several dresses for my girls, an apron for Hannah and two aprons for me. (This was in her spare time when she wasn't painting our bunkhouse.) All of the items she sewed look professionally done. Not chain store done, but professionally done. She puts a lot of thought and care into her work.

I'd like to sew like that. Instead, I sew in spurts and try to get as much done as quickly as possible. If it can't be seen on the outside, I don't worry too much about what it looks like. I'm afraid my knitting is the same way.

I'm trying to get better. Hence, a blanket for my older daughter. You can tell it's for her by the copious amount of pink.

I'm learning a lot about knitting by doing this blanket. I've learned that I will probably hold off on doing any sweaters for myself for awhile. With my "Oops, I dropped a stitch. I'll just pick it up instead of going to the work of fixing it. Oh, that left a big hole right there." approach, I'd probably end up with holes in not so fortuitous (for me) places. I need to get more meticulous.

I'm wondering if I'll be done with this before the baby comes. I've now (since taking this picture) finished the main block of the blanket. Now I'm doing the border and then I'll need to weave in and trim the strings.

I'm done with the pink yarn now, so Hannah's appropriated some knitting needles and is trying to knit. She gets frustrated at times, since she is in no way near knitting, so she sticks a needle in the ball of yarn and throws it. Then she and Ainsley play "throw the yarn all over" for ten minutes and I end up looking like I'm sitting in the middle of a pink spider's web. Which I thoughtlessly said the other day and now "pink spider" has been added to Hannah's pretend repertoire.

Taking sick days.

Not for me - for my girls.

Both girls have been sick, Hannah with a cold and Ainsley with croup. We've been taking it easy, reading lots of books in the bedroom with the humidifier going.

We broke out yesterday and went into the craft room. I set about completely rearranging everything except for the girls craft area while they did crafts.

Then I lit a candle for Ainsley to blow out over and over and over... which led to candle play. We've done quite a bit of candle play in the past, though I don't think I've blogged about it. It's all been melted wax play, really. This time, however, I put a bucket of water on the desk and Hannah had fun testing out the flammability of different items. Ainsley blew out candles.

Ainsley finally wanted to see what the big deal was...

but she decided that throwing things in the water to see if they would float was much more interesting.

Play, at this age, takes a "stream of conciousness" path. Crafts with popsicle sticks lead to sticking said sticks in fire which leads to throwing the sticks in water which leads to noticing that the colored sticks "bleed" in water which leads to talk about dye. Fascinating.

Ainsley left crafting to help me organize. This box was chock full of yarn when she started. I couldn't believe she stuck with me until it was done.

But to the helper go the spoils - a big box to play in.

And then the helper's big sister sees the fun and takes over.

Ainsley finally left the box since it was only big enough for one and began to play with some animal tri-omino cards. I thought she was just looking at the animal pictures, but a few seconds after I took the following picture, she'd turned the cards so that the sheep and pigs matched. Then she pushed those two cards to the side, got some more and played around like that for almost thirty minutes.

When Ainsley went down for a nap, Hannah and I went back to organizing the craft room. Hannah thought that my old shelf needed some nails in it. To hang necklaces, I think.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Unschooling blog.

There's nothing spectacular about this blog, nothing that shouts out at you. Just a loving, proud mom of one unschooled girl. The way she writes about her family and her life make me calm, happy. When I'm having a bad day I go to this blog. This woman obviously loves her life and lives it fully. It's worth checking out.

Circle the World In Big

Good unschooling quote.

As an unschooler you get the usual homeschooling doubts (socializing, of course), but unschoolers have their own unique set of "I could never because..." statements made by relatives, friends and strangers.

One of the most common is "Kids won't learn if you don't make them." A ridiculous statement, but not surprising when you look at our schooling culture and where a person making that statement is coming from. But when you step back and think about it, about how very much a child learns in the five years before schooling begins, about how voracious they are in their appetite for learning, it really does make the statement appear as ridiculous as it is. Something happens in that transition from non-schooling to schooling, something causes those children to think of learning as hard, as unappealing, as something they must be made to do.

On that note, here's the quote, pulled from Our Report Card.

“So many people have said to me, ‘If we didn’t make children do things, they wouldn’t do anything.’ Even worse, they say, ‘If I weren’t made to do things, I wouldn’t do anything.’ It is the creed of a slave. When people say that terrible thing about themselves, I say, ‘You may believe that, but I don’t believe it. You didn’t feel that way about yourself when you were little. Who taught you to feel that way?’ To a large degree, it was school.” ~John Holt

Life plugs along.

I love not having carpet in my kitchen.

Some moms do crafts, some moms do games, some moms do gardening. Apparently I do baking. I asked Hannah to get me two cups of flour and handed her the measuring cup. She said "Mom, I need a knife." And she measured flat cups of flour. Maybe we spend too much time in the kitchen.

We got a stool like the one my sister has so that my girls can see what I'm doing and help out easier. And I don't have to lift them. Both girls push the stool around with ease to where they need it. This was taken when I was making zucchini bread the other day. Ains pushed the stool over, got a book, climbed up and asked me to read to her while I baked. Hannah climbed up and helped her read - it was sweet.

*BTW, does anybody have a good zucchini bread recipe? I've tried *six* and have yet to find a great one. They're all passable or worse.

After bath picture. Ainsley arranged those so meticulously. I don't think I'd notice the small peculiarities of my children if they weren't so very different.

No, this isn't Hannah. This is my Ainsley. My little Ainsley. She only left it in for about twenty minutes, but it really aged her, having her hair pulled back.

Ainsley ignores the phone most of the time. Somehow, though, she knows when I'm on the phone with Matt and she demands to talk to him. This morning he had her giggling and signing for about seven minutes before she said "baaay", waved goodbye to the phone and handed it to me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Still waiting for baby.

Doing things that I thought I wouldn't have time for before baby. Like setting up my seed-starting stand. Which is a jungle gym until I start my first seeds next week.

Hannah used all of the pieces to make many unique designs for a few days before I set it up. I kept going in to set it up and as soon as I got started, she'd get inspiration and have to make a new design.

Finally we got it put together.

And it was a glorious house.

Until Ainsley realized she could climb over it.

Other activities for the last few days:

Reading - lots of reading.



Dancing and playing a knitting needle violin.

Playing on the My Little Pony website.

Counting pennies.

And I was able to take all of my loose recipes from this -

to this -

The three black binders are recipes I've pulled from various places to try. When I make my monthly menu plan, I pull the recipes out from either those binders or my yellow "tried and true" recipe binder and put them in the clear folder to use that month. If the new recipes pass muster, they get transferred to the yellow binder. If they don't they get trashed. Much nicer having them in the black binders now instead of just messy piles.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Candy galore.

When we were little, my mom had a Valentine's Day tradition - make graham cracker houses. Now my mom came alive at holidays. Traditions were her "thing". So for almost a month in December, and a day here and there throughout the year, my mom was a great mom. These are the moments I remember and these are the traditions I hold on to - even if some of them make me a little bit queasy now.

Like graham cracker houses held together with frosting and decorated with twenty different kinds of candy. Yes, my mother went overboard, so I feel bound to do the same.

First we made the boards that the houses sat on.

Then Hannah and I set everything out while Ainsley taste-tested.

Then the decorating started.

Growing up, we were not given candy free-choice except for this one big splash. (At Halloween, candy was put in bags and stored in my mom's bedroom. Funny, we never saw more than a few pieces of it after that... ) As kids, our houses were not so much works of art as works of gluttony. You learned to make your house as big and stable as possible with a roof that could be stealthily removed and replaced without notice. This way you could fill the house full of candy that Mom wouldn't know was there. Then, instead of designing a beautiful house, you put as much candy on it as possible. You made a garden chock full of candy. Because these houses sat on the table for days and you were allowed to eat off of them. Apparently, my mom didn't like frosting covered candy, so these houses were safe.

While Ainsley does not have the same candy issues I had growing up, she does have a healthy does of toddler-itis and absolutely loved pushing the candy into the frosting and watching in amazement as it didn't fall off. Her house fell down not long after this picture from an excess of candy.

Hannah's completed house. Note the beans (jelly) and corn (candy) in her garden.

Ainsley kept decorating long after the rest of us had quit.

I thought it would be torture to do these houses since I've been on a no-sugar diet for the last few months of this pregnancy, but apparently I've lost the desire for pure sugar or sugar mixed with wax and flavoring. It just wasn't appealing to me. Since I've been off sugar, Hannah's kept close tabs on my sugar intake. If I eat anything with a slight amount of sugar (berries in my kefir smoothie), I have to explain to her why it's so little and why it's ok while other sugar and in other amounts is not. It's been really interesting to have to find the answers to our questions and explain to her even more than ever about diet and what's in our food.

Hannah's also decided that sugar's not good for her and has been phasing it out of her diet where she can (and, frankly, where it's convenient for her). When Hannah was nearly done decorating her house, Matt asked her if she wanted to put any of the conversation hearts on her house, almost the only candy she hadn't yet used. She asked him if they were made of sugar and he said yes. She informed him that she didn't want any sugar on her house, so she wouldn't use the candy hearts. Matt just stared at her. At her and her frosting covered, candy encrusted graham cracker house. That, thankfully, didn't have sugary conversation hearts on it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sending seeds.

Today I made seed envelopes, filled them with seeds and sent them to friends around the country. My desk was covered in seed packets, tape dispensers (one for the girls to play with), pens, envelopes, and stamps. I can't wait to hear how they grow.

Hannah sent flower seeds to some cousins. We didn't get to send any to cousins in Arizona or friends in Florida because of the heat. Bummer.