February 14, 2015

February 4, 2015

Our newest favorite little craft

It seems like everyone I know these days is getting into (or back into) embroidery. OK, well, lots of moms with little kids I know, which, I grant, is a pretty small group. 

You tend not to think of embroidery being a great craft for little kids, what with the sharp needles and need for finger dexterity and patience and all. But my kids are the ones who asked to take it up, after having watched me embroider little toys for them here and there over the years.

Colin learned to embroider last year in his Waldorf kindergarden, and he liked it so much he embroidered half a dozen little swatches last year, which we sewed into lavender sachets and gave as Christmas gifts to friends and family and teachers. He even helped me at the sewing machine!

But recently, when Colin asked to get out his embroidery kit again after a bit of a hiatus, Archer asked for a kit of his own. "Wasn't three a little young for embroidery?," I worried. Well, after all he is three-and-a-half (as he reminds me daily). So I let him give it a try, and he took to it like a fish to water. Now, with only a little supervision, he can make and follow his own designs. He loves being able to do anything his big brother can do.

And I do love sewing with the boys. It teaches them hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity. It's easy for them to let their creativity run wild, but without any mess, and it is quite simple for me to fix their mistakes. There is also a lovely and useful project at the end for them to be proud of. 

Colin just finished a "shape sampler" of his own design, and we've made plans for him to embroider his alphabet over the coming months as a big project to sew and frame for his bedroom. Yet, there's nothing terrible precious about the product. I have ripped out stitches from finish projects they didn't seem to care about so that we could reuse the linen, which were scraps to begin with from a pair of Ikea curtains I hemmed years ago.

Mainly what I love about embroidering with the boys is that it makes us all slow down and be still, which, if you know little boys, almost never happens.  It helps Archer to stay quiet in the afternoon, while Virginia is sleeping. It helps Colin unwind from a long day at school. And it forces me to neglect the dishes and the floors and to postpone starting dinner until I realize its too late to cook anything and Kevin will have to take us out to dinner—again.

But most of all when we embroider we have to sit on the couch together. We can't do anything else, except maybe listen to some music and be in each other's company. It helps me savor these fleeting moments with my boys when they are still so very young and just want to be near me and doing, well, just about anything really.

January 13, 2015

Seeing Red

All I wanted for Christmas was a swift ... and a lot of red yarn to wind on it, and eventually make a sweater for Miss Virginia (this one). And because my husband is so good, he let me order one! It makes sense for him, too, since until now he has been my ball winder.

But the pleasure was not all mine. The boys were mesmerized by the contraption. (They are really into all things mechanical at the moment.) And a swift is one of those marvelous machines where all the working parts are in plain view.  I even let them each wind a ball of their own. They had a ball! Har, har.

Afterward, Colin asked me if I had any more yarn that needed winding. Sadly, I did not. But I do have a birthday coming up in a few months, and I know just what my husband will be getting me...

December 28, 2014

On Christmas Day in the morning

I wish I could say that Christmas Day was the most wonderful time of the year—but not this year. We were visiting my parents in Little Rock. But my mom was sick—and was later hospitalized—for pneumonia. My dad was exhausted. And my brother decided to spend most of the day rock climbing.

But I'm not sure this mattered to my kids, who had the best day ever despite all that. We tried very hard this year to only get them each a handful of gifts, and chose those really wisely based on what each kid most enjoyed. And I think we pretty much hit the mark.

That, plus the general magic of the holiday with all the decorations and family get togethers with cousins they only get to see a couple of times a year, glossed over the less fun parts—at least for them. And their joy, in turn, lifted a few spirits. At least for me. Bless them!

December 20, 2014

The most wonderful time of the year...

Christmas is such my favorite time of the year! I look forward to all the baking and decorating and celebrating for months ahead of time. 

Despite all that, I was still completely unprepared this year. With all the traveling I had to do, in addition to some long stints of solo parenting while Kevin was out of town, it was all I could do to get the house decorated by mid-month. 

And given that Virginia has been such a busy, into-everything little toddler, I just couldn't do a big tree this year. Instead I did live table-top tree and decorated it only with our most unbreakable ornaments: soft fabric ornaments from my childhood (and a few from Ikea), and then a collection of small wooden German ornaments that my grandparents brought back from their travels when I was a child. It was small, but kinda perfect. Still, next year I hope we spend more time at home, enjoying the season.

November 30, 2014

A simple thanks

For the first time in more than a decade, I got to spend Thanksgiving with my family in Arkansas this year. And while my mom certainly turned herself out in the preparations and decorations (as she always does), what I loved about the holiday was how simple it was: just the five of us, my mom and dad, my Aunt and her boyfriend and his sister.

And because we were so close (a mere four hours' drive!), we just went over for a couple of days—the perfect length of trip for my kids. We all had enough time to enjoy each other's company—playing "Go Fish" on the floor, and listened to Colin develop his reading skills—but not too much time that we became exhausted and grumpy.

Mostly I was just thankful to get to spend this holiday with my mom and my aunt, both of whom nearly died this past year. So very thankful, indeed.