Friday, October 31, 2008
This week has been truly a banner week for me in terms of mail. Today I just received the sweetest package from Doodlebug Finery, who runs the "A Little Fabric, A Little Chocolate" swap. I am so grateful and giddy about all of the goodies she sent. I'm breaking my no-sugar vow tomorrow--it's Halloween, after all--and will be digging into the dark chocolate nirvana that is organic, Free Trade Theo chocolate.
What a generous spirit Doodlebug Finery is, and so talented, too. She is one of my Etsy favorite sellers. I love the lavender sachets, baby goodies, and the adorable sock dogs she crafts. Check out her shop soon because she promises to post some bird ornament kits.
I just received the latest issue of Ottobre sewing magazine and Craft (Betz White on the cover!!). My head was spinning when I received both mags on the same day! Be sure to check out the article on eco-friendly craft sources in the Craft magazine.
And here are some items for some future projects--the cutest shrink plastic buttons by artista fabulosa Elsa Mora and two pairs of slipper soles made from repurposed leather. I bought the slipper soles from Etsy seller Stonehenge Clothing Company. They're very reasonably priced and quite sturdy. (Learn more about Tara Morrison, the artist behing Stonehenge here.) I'm planning to use my felted sweaters to make the slippers. I have a special knitted item in mind for the buttons, but that might not take shape until next year. So many projects, so little time!
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I've already mentioned that we're in the process of giving up television, mainly so that our youngest can develop a strong sense of self and the ability to entertain himself without the constant background noise of the television. That's actually going quite well, and his imaginative play is getting so much more interesting and involved. Last night after dinner he was "Museum Guy" and took us on a tour of his snake museum. Today he let the snakes go free and introduced me to his dinosaur museum. Contrary to what we feared, he's been able to amuse himself in his room with Legos and puzzles without needing help. He's starting to offer us narrative alternatives to the stories we tell him at night. In short, he's growing and changing.
Today was our first day with the new schedule, and the kids responded so well to set homework, dinner, and play times. It made things go so much more smoothly before and after dinner, without some of the usual arguments about snacks or homework or whining about wanting to go to the park, etc. We actually got everything we needed to done and had time for fun stuff. We went to the park after homework was done and while the sun was still out. After dinner, the boys even played together PEACEFULLY while my husband and daughter worked on the computer and I knitted. Amazing, and I hope we can keep it up.
Note: The illustrations above are by George M. Richards and are from Arthur I. Gates and Miriam Blanton Huber, The Work-Play Books, Make and Make-Believe, Third Reader, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1937--another Friends of the Library Sale find.
Monday, October 13, 2008
And here's a quote from the book, Odd Pets (by Dorothy Childs Hogner, Scholastic Book Services, 1951), that shows me why the twin fascination with snails and mushrooms isn't so odd after all:
My family's quest to have a TV-free household is coming along well, with a few minor bumps. I think we watched about 15 minutes of TV for the whole long weekend, and the kids have even stopped asking about it. The boys are playing together a lot more as a result, and now they call each other best friends--the kind of love-hate best friends, of course. We've been lots more active with the kids, and they are getting more outside time--hiking, biking, and just playing like puppies. My daughter is busy enough with school and extracurricular activities that she hasn't missed the TV a bit. I think it's hardest on the adults, who sometimes just need a few moments to chill at times.
According to the blurb on the back of the book, "Happy Origami is a source of happiness, full of romantic works of integrated manual arts, painting, paper folding, cutting, etc."
These books are so sweet and beautifully constructed. Each main page is like a print and is illustrated with actual origami. Each illustration comes with a tissue-paper overleaf of instructions for folding the origami shapes. The pages are bound together with a cord so that each page can be removed.
Here's a beautiful page from the Whale Book:
I've scanned in the instruction sheet so that you can fold your own mushrooms, squirrel, and crow to create your own forest scene.
Have a great week!
Friday, October 10, 2008
In addition to giving me a strategy for relating to my kids, knitting also gives me metaphors for my life. As you can see from the photo above, I am quite good at getting skeins of yarn tied into a tangle of knots. I don't always have the patience to fish the end of the yarn out of the middle of the skein, and I end up with what you see above. Over the course of a few weeks, stealing a few minutes of free time here and there, I managed to untangle that ball of purple cotton yarn. It was obsessive of me--I even took it to a dentist appointment and pulled it out while waiting to get a procedure done--but I patiently worked out all the knots and ended up with a smooth ball of yarn.
That's the metaphor for what I've been doing in the last month--patiently trying to unravel the mass of knots that arise from the complications of daily life.
And let me just throw in another knitting metaphor for good measure. Since I started knitting I have begun to notice handmade items and can appreciate the skills and time that they took to create. Recently I admired the shawl that a friend had knitted, and after chatting about knitting for a while, we got to talking about how little time we have for the craft. I was complaining about how many projects I had on my list to make and how little time I had to even start on the first one. And she replied, in her sensible and inspiring way, that yes, but wasn't it nice to have something so beautiful and tangible to look forward to doing? What a healthy perspective with which to view a very full life that sometimes seems overwhelming to me!
This past weekend I spent some one-on-one time hiking in the woods with my middle child. It was interesting to see what things caught his attention:
Meanwhile, various fungi and other natural sculptures caught my eye:
the sedimentary-like layers of a polypore, or bracket fungus;
an orange mushroom growing on the bank of the dry creek.
Part of my play therapy has involved making the most of the gorgeous fall weather and getting out to the country to enjoy the leaves and take part in the many fall festivals. Last weekend we went to an apple festival, and it was so soul-lifting to see my children's wonder and hear their laughter at the simplest things:
a barrel of apples ready to be pressed into fresh cider;
liquid sweetness pouring out of the press;
pure joy while playing with a simple wooden toy . . .
and feeding the goats leaf after crunchy leaf.
We have just started on a brave new undertaking for our family, and one that's upending the routines that we have practiced for quite some time. We are in the process of eliminating television from our lives, and limiting access to other media as well. After dinner tonight we were actually all together as a family in our living room instead of dispersed throughout the house hooked up to our various electronic devices. My husband and daughter played the guitar together. My older son read a book. And, after collapsing on the couch for a while, I was persuaded to do two puzzles with my youngest.
Nature, play, undistracted family time--these are some of the strands that we're weaving into our lives as we slowly untangle them. I'll let you know how it goes.
Friday, October 3, 2008
They are saying: Spin crazily in the breeze now, because the sunshine will soon be scarce.
Shed your normal coloring and dress yourself in your most vibrant hues. Mix crazily with your friends in tangled piles.
Let raindrop orbs settle on your skin.
And spread out flat to catch the waning rays, filling veins with precious life.