Friday, November 20, 2009

Satisfaction, Thy Name Is Hat

Hat from above

My toddler has an enormous head. I mean, off-the-charts enormous. So enormous that when he was younger and had gross motor delays in addition to this gigantic and fast-growing noggin, they ordered an MRI to make sure all was well. It is. He just has a big head (and the gross motor delays appear to have been because of this enormous head he had to figure out how to balance on his little shoulders). But anyway, this means that hats are a problem. The "toddler-sized" hats don't even begin to fit him. I went through my whole box of hand-me-down winter gear, and could find not a single hat to fit him. Since next week we will be in Maine for Thanksgiving (and the last time we were there for Thanksgiving, it snowed!), I decided he simply had to have a hat. And not just any hat -- a hat custom-tailored for his unusual, beautiful, brain-filled little head.

I haven't knit anything in ages. A combination of busy-ness and worsening arthritis in my hands made me set aside the knitting needles for a while. Like, a few years. I never meant to actually quit knitting, I just thought I'd take a break for a bit. I did some sewing -- much easier on the hands -- but I missed the aesthetic pleasures of knitting. The portability of it, the ability to be sitting in a room, talking or watching a movie, and be able to interact and participate while also doing something so beautifully productive. The feel of wool in my fingers.

I wasn't sure if my gimpy ol' hands would still be able to do this, but I was determined to try. Two very important tips: 100% wool yarn, and wooden needles. The last thing I tried to knit was a shawl, made with acrylic yarn using metal needles. No wonder my hands hurt! So I made sure that the yarn I chose for this project was 100% wool (it has a give to it, unlike cotton or synthetics), and I even bought a new set of wooden double-pointed needles, even though I already had metal needles in the right size. It made all the difference. Yes, my hands hurt, especially the first day, but it actually got easier as I went along. And three days later, my little boy has a hat that fits his funny little head -- and that he adores!

Hat in motion

Many thanks to Amanda Soule over at SouleMama, whose recent posts about her knitting projects pushed me over the edge and gave me the courage (and envy!) enough to pick up the needles again. What a joy to have this back in my life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Being Present

Lately I've been thinking about the million-and-one ways in which I am grateful that my husband goes out into the world and makes a living so that I can be home with the children. I love being with these little monkeys all day. I love following where they lead, seeing how their whims and interests will shape our day. While there is a loose routine, for the most part we are opportunistic, being ready for adventures wherever we might find them. Hmm, it's a gorgeous day today -- hey! let's walk to preschool! Someone's having a grumpy afternoon -- time for a baking project! The toddler spilled fish food all over the family room -- let's all help with the vacuum cleaner!

OK, some adventures are more fun than others.

But one of the things that is most special about being home, is that it is part of my job description to be fully present in each moment. It is my job to be paying attention, not just with a part of my brain, but with my whole soul. If I am to be what these children need, I can't just be here in body... I must completely be here. And if I start to drift away, if I allow myself to be scattered and distracted, they will let me know.

"Mom. Were you listening? Did you hear what I said?"

And once you are present, once you are fully, feet-on-the-ground present in your current daily life... you notice things. Not just all the million things that the children will point out to you if you give them the time and space to do so, but you start to see with their eyes. And you start to share their sense of wonder.


Today it was a bat in the window. A bat! In the window! We admired and studied it, marveled at its tiny feet. I laughed out loud. I smiled with all the muscles of my face. I felt their joy, their awe. I forgot about the to-do list, and was simply present with my children. And a bat.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cure for a Dreary Morning

Rainy November morning

We woke up to another cold and rainy day.

So I decided to use the time while the little ones are waking up and playing, and I'm checking my email and making my coffee, to put some steel-cut oatmeal on the stove. I have had trouble selling the texture of steel-cut oats to the kids before, so I decided to set up a little fixin's bar to generate some interest.

Oatmeal fixin's

It worked like a charm. They both gobbled their oatmeal, and the five-year-old even had seconds. The joy of DIY strikes again!

Yum, yum, extra yum.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cultivating Wonder


One of my most important parenting goals is cultivating wonder in my children. I want them to feel awe and reverence when they encounter the natural world. I want them to be thrilled and amazed by science experiments. I want them to view education as a life-long pursuit that is its own reward.

Lately I am once again contemplating just what our schools are teaching our children. What values are being communicated? Where is the joy of learning when there is such pressure to teach to the test? First it was art and music that were being nudged out, then recess. Now even science and "social studies" are being pushed aside in favor of a single-minded focus on reading and math -- and not just reading and math, but the skill of performing well on reading and math tests.

Where is the wonder? Where is the joy? The world is full of so very many interesting things, there is so very much to learn, so many exciting discoveries to be made.

Much to ponder, as we consider the next phase of our children's educations.