November 24, 2014

Counting to 100

With Thanksgiving just days away, I'm finding it hard to believe that the school year is almost half over. It feels like just a few weeks ago we were packing up backpacks and waving goodbye at the bus stop for the first time.

Kindergarten has brought a lot of new things into A's life: the bus, PE, full day school and...homework. I know, I know...homework is nobody's favorite, and there are plenty of people who argue that kids this little shouldn't have any homework at all. But over the last three months, I've come to view that little packet as a window into what's going on in A's classroom. More importantly, it's quickly becoming a fascinating glimpse into A's rapidly changing mind.

My own memories of kindergarten and early elementary school are fairly hazy: a stack of giant cardboard blocks printed with brick patterns in primary colors. A lift-top desk with crayons tucked inside. Buying milk at a little table just inside the cafeteria doors. And a litte booklet with a red construction paper cover. Inside were pages filled with blank boxes, boxes meant to be filled with numbers from 1 to 100. I couldn't tell you what grade that assignment came home with me, but to this day I remember holding it in my hand and angrily thinking why do we have to do this? Numbers have never come easily for me, and that assignment was hard and made me feel like I wasn't smart.

Fast forward about 31 years to last Monday, when A and I sat at the table with her homework packet. We flipped it over and she decided to start with the math page first...a page filled with blank boxes save for the very last one, which was marked 100. How many numbers can you fill in? asked the instructions at the top. A got to work, filling in the first row quickly before starting in on the second. She got halfway through that second row and paused.

Look mommy - it's a pattern! she announced, tracing her finger down the columns to show me how 2 and 3 and 4 were following from one row to the next. And then she kept going until her hand got tired.

I thought the day A learned to talk was the day we learned what was going on in her head. And indeed since she started talking we've learned that she has a fantastic memory, that she can make up a song or a story about just about anything, that she never runs out of questions. But it's been a surprise to watch her mind grow and change so much in just a few months of school.

We've got a lot left to learn, all of us.

November 13, 2014

Mad hatter

Finishing my last blanket set a fire to my knitting desire...I wanted something fast and easy the next time around, and there's not much that's faster to knit than a hat.

First I made one for A, who picked out this color for herself months ago.

Then I made one for D, out of a gorgeous hand-dyed yarn I won last year.

With two hats finished, I was ready to stop...and then I came across a beautiful bulky weight yarn I'd bought for myself without a project in mind. That's probably a bit of a lie - the truth is that I'm pretty sure I bought it assuming I'd turn it into another seed stitch cowl, something I've made for myself three times now.

What if I could turn it into a hat instead? I found an easy pattern after a few minutes of searching, and four hours after I cast on, I had a hat. A glorious, thick, cozy hat that I think might finally turn me into a hat wearer.

There's a rush in taking a tangle of raw materials and turning it into something useful. Both kids have worn their hats both in and out of the house. A's highest compliment for a garment is to put it on immediately upon receipt, and her hat? Went straight on her head. She wore it all day at school the next day. I've been struggling with my own feelings of usefulness lately, and making something useful and doing it quickly has been good for my soul.

A fourth hat is on my needles now*, another bulky weight beauty (this one for my husband) - putting me on track to have a hat for every head in my house before the polar vortex descends later this week. Yarn awaits for a second hat for me, and I have second hats planned for everyone else in the house. I may not know what it is I want to do with my life, but at least we'll all be cozy and warm as fall turns frost.

*I'm on number five now and haven't taken a picture of number day I'll round them all up for a giant hat group photo.

November 10, 2014


It's hard to write and knit at the same time, and I've spent much of my time knitting in recent weeks. Last week I finally finished a long overdue birthday present for my husband: a blanket, specifically Purl Soho's Super Easy Lap Blanket.

You can see why I'm calling this gradient-ish - the gray throws off the blue theme, and the navy is a bit dark for a true color progression. But it makes for a relaxing color palette nonetheless, and the birthday boy is pleased with the results.

I love stripes, but I don't love weaving in ends, and a blanket full of stripes means lots of ends. This is my third striped blanket, and two out of the three have felt so slow to knit...I set this project down more times than I meant to, much like I've set writing here to the side more often than I've meant to. Finishing this blanket gave me a creative energy surge that's resulted in three hats in four days (with a fourth on my needles now), and I'm hoping that I can find similar creative motivation for writing too.

For now, I've got a hat to finish.

November 3, 2014

This is just a drill

We're more than two months into the school year now, and A has hit her stride in kindergarten. In the early weeks, it was a struggle to get even a sentence about her day before she curled into a ball in the living room to rest until dinnertime. Now she bounds off the bus full of details about her day, and she saves the best bits for the dinner table.

Tonight, A was pleased to announce she's started studying some new symbols: the question mark, the exclamation point and the period. As an editor, it warmed my heart to discuss the merits and uses of punctuation with our oldest child. And then, between bites of lasagna and telling us about her new classroom job, A remembered one more detail about her day.

Today we had our first lockdown drill, she said.

And what is a lockdown drill? I asked, knowing full well what it was. How can you not know, when school shootings are so commonplace they barely make the news these days?

We lock the door and pull down all the shades and pretend we aren't there. I was very quiet like this (and here she demonstrated, mouth zipped tight, eyes open wide).

Did your teacher say why you had to do that? I didn't want to add any extra details, but I wanted to hear what she knew about it.

If someone was yelling in the hall, we would do that and be quiet and pretend we aren't here.

 And then we got to the detail she really wanted to share about her day: the best part of getting the door opener job at school is that you get to walk in front of the line leader.

For all the times I've worried about my kids at school, it's always been for minor reasons: are they happy or sad? Are they keeping up with the work? Adjusting socially? Managing emotions properly?

But it's never occurred to worry about whether or not they're safe at school. I'd like to think that neither of them will ever be in a situation where there will be a real lockdown at school...that the stories we see on the news won't ever happen in our backyard. But it could, and now my five year old is doing drills so that she and her classmates are ready if it ever does.

That's a lot to take in on a Monday night.

October 30, 2014

A decade

Today is our tenth anniversary.

Ten years ago, we said "I do" in our college chapel, surrounded by family and friends. When we started dating nearly 16 years ago, I don't know that I could have pictured a day when we'd have two kids running around the house - but how lucky we are to have our wild and crazy two and each other.

 Picture courtesy of the talented Mindi of Stavish Stills.

Happy anniversary to my partner in crime...I can't imagine life with anybody else.

October 24, 2014

Because you should never wake a sleeping baby

Once upon a time, my baby boy fell asleep in my arms multiple times a day. Wiser the second time around, I spent a good part of his earliest weeks sleeping along with him, taking his naps as my cue to savor his huff-and-puff baby breaths as I closed my eyes too.

My baby boy grew, and he spent less time sleeping in my arms and more time sleeping in his crib. A week ago, that crib became a bed, and in three months my baby will turn three years old. 

His naps have been almost non-existent since he gave up his pacifier a few weeks ago, and he hasn't taken to the concept of quiet time the way A did when she stopped napping. Yesterday afternoon, I pulled my tired, tearful boy into my lap and put on a movie to calm him after a frustrating end to another not-so-quiet quiet time...and he fell asleep in my lap, forty minutes before his sister's bus was due to return. 

Today I decided to test out a new quiet time idea, and after lunch D picked out a movie and climbed into my lap with a cup of milk. Half an hour into Despicable Me, my baby boy fell asleep in my lap. I had plans to carry him up to his room or lay him down on the couch and spend a quiet hour or two reading my book for book club...and then I changed my mind.

One day, my baby boy will outgrow his nap completely. One day, he won't want to climb into my lap, and one day he won't even fit. So today, I'm savoring his little head on my shoulder, his soft breathing, his warm body in my arms, because almost three is awfully sweet.

I'll catch up on my reading another day.

October 17, 2014

Catch the Moment 365: Week 41

283/365: Pumpkins of every shape and color.

284/365: Boy on a bridge.

285/365: Post-family photo session treats.

286/365: Sneaking a bite.

287/365: Splish splash!

288/365: Hard to capture, beautiful in person.

 289/365: Why yes, I did want all the boots lined up in front of the pantry.

290/365: Note to self: next time slice the lemons thinner. Otherwise this Shaker Lemon Pie 
was a wonderful surprise!

As always, thank you to our hosts: Simply Stavish, Nurse Loves Farmer, and