Saturday, January 31, 2009

Noah Meets Bubba

"A handcrafted doll is one of a kind, an individual which carries the spirit of the maker in its stitches and absorbs the spirit of the child who loves it."

Meet Bubba, Noah's new doll. This was my first sewing project ever. Well, unless you count the few straight lines of the napkin holder I made in 7th grade Home Ec class, which I don't. I used a combination of instructions from three different books, and decided to make him really bright so he won't get lost. OK...that last bit is a lie. Actually, I ordered the cotton velour fabric online and what was supposed to be a color called 'grass' turned out to be fluorescent green. He is made in the Waldorf tradition with natural materials, merino wool hair and wool stuffing. His face is embroidered with a neutral expression to allow Noah to create any expression he wants with his imagination. I think Bubba turned out pretty well, even though he could probably be seen from space.
Noah enjoys carrying him all around the house, usually with Bubba dangling by one leg. Here Noah is being more nurturing and using two hands.

The pushcart also makes a very nice buggy for giving Bubba rides back and forth across the living room.

As a side note, I am aware that in most pictures I post, Noah is in his pajamas. I would like to say that is because I always take pictures of him in the morning, which is when these pictures actually were taken. The truth is that Noah often spends the entire day in his pajamas. I justify this by the fact that he will not leave any kind of sock, shoe, or slipper on his feet when he is wearing pants, and as a result his feet are always cold. At least the pajamas have footies on them and he cannot take them off. That's my story and I am sticking to it!
-Jen

Friday, January 30, 2009

Red Ice Hearts

This little Valentine's Day project added a little color and sparkle to our otherwise snow-covered yard. All it took was some twine knotted into little loops, some red food coloring, some water, and a silicone heart-shaped ice cube tray that I found in the bargain bins at Target.

After pouring the red water into the molds, I added the loops and froze for several hours before hanging them on our little crabapple tree.

Very simple and very pretty! There are some purple lights on the tree as well, but we haven't been able to plug them in because the base of the tree is buried in about 2 feet of snow.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Talking on the Phone

This video is for anyone who has had the opportunity to chat with Noah on the phone and wondered what exactly he is doing while he is talking. I am not even going to attempt to put subtitles on this one. Noah and Grandma S had lots to talk about, and this is but a snippet of their conversation!

video

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Filled With Sorrow (and Hunger)

Oh, Tasty Leftovers! Why have you left me?

It was you that bestowed upon me that delicious taste in my mouth and rekindled memories of yesterday's meals, such as homemade tacos, spaghetti, or midnight cravings where only the perfect snack would hit the spot - Hawaiian pizza. You granted me the joy of quieting my stomach and calming my body and mind, so that I could be the best that I could be. Without you, I am but a starving Dada, with a toddler who is eating everything in sight and yet too hungry to leave anything behind or acknowledge the gift you have given to so many taste buds.

Tasty Leftovers, why have you left me?
-Curtis

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mealtime Rhythms

Lately, we have been incorporating some little changes into our daily rhythm to bring more peace to our evening meal. In an effort to bring an end to the "What should we have for dinner?" dilemma, that usually starts just 30 minutes before we should be eating, I am trying to follow a simple meal plan. And I mean very simple. As in, on Tuesdays we have something with beef; usually with enough leftover for Curtis and Noah to have on Wednesday night while I am at work. Some weeks are better than others, but I am hopeful that if we stick with it we will greatly reduce the number of last minute dinner decisions and (gasp!) fast-food runs.

For some time now, we have been lighting a lovely smelling beeswax candle at the start of our meal. It is such a simple gesture, but really creates a special atmosphere in which to share a meal together. In addition to lighting our candle, we have started saying a new blessing before our meal. In searching for a blessing for our family, I wanted one that would acknowledge our thankfulness not only for our meal, but also for the world around us. I also wanted it to be simple and easily memorized by our little one. After choosing a blessing, I wrote it on a card to remind us to say it every night.

Thank you for the world so sweet.

Thank you for the food we eat.

Thank you for the birds that sing.

Thank you God for everything.

As Curtis and I started taking turns saying the lines, he discovered another feature of this blessing that I had not originally thought of. It offers a lot of flexibility in adding your own little rhyming verse. At first, his straying from the written blessing resulted in some irked looks from my side of the table. For example, the other day as we were saying the blessing, he added "Thank you for the rhinoceroses that charge" to which I was supposed to respond with a rhyming line, but instead looked at him with raised eyebrows. Finally, he explained that we couldn't just single out the birds when there are so many other animals to be thankful for! He then added, "Thank you for the world at large." So although one of the reasons for having a blessing is to bring a familiar routine to the beginning of to meal, I guess there is nothing wrong with having a bit of fun with it. After all, sharing and having fun together are what family meals are all about, right? I can't wait to hear what Noah is thankful for, once his jabber-talk becomes more comprehensible!

On evenings when we are running behind and rushing to get dinner on the table, we sometimes skip the lighting of the candle and saying the blessing. However, I have noticed that on those hectic nights, when the meal is over, I feel as though I never even tasted my food. I have realized that it is on those nights especially that it is important to take a minute to pause, say our blessing, and bring ourselves to the moment, so that we may slow down and enjoy our meal together. Like most of our daily routines, this one is still a work in progress, but one that I think will really pay off the more solidified it gets.

-Jen

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Emma

When I was a very little girl, my brother Mike and his girlfriend made me a very life-like doll. I am not really sure who named her, but since anyone can remember, she has always been called Emma. I still have Emma twenty-some years later, and though she is worn in places from years of dressing and snuggling, there is still much love in her.

Because she is a perfect newborn size, I have used her many times over the past couple years to measure and try on newly knitted items for size. In fact, right now she is wearing one of Noah's newborn diapers with a teeny tiny soaker cover and one of his t-shirts, along with the matching hat and bootie set that he wore for his first photo shoot.

Emma rests next to the couch in our office/knitting room, where Noah often leans over the edge of the couch sweetly whispering 'bah-bee' until I hand her to him to kiss and snuggle. Why am I waxing so nostalgic, you may wonder? Because Mike and Emma have inspired me to make Noah a doll of his very own. A soft, snuggly 'bah-bee' that he can carry around and kiss and hug. So stay tuned, for he or she will be my first project with my new sewing machine!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jammin'

There has been a lot of music happening in Our Quiet Place lately. Well, there always is a lot of music around here, but more this week because Curtis is preparing for the Verona Area Community Theater (VACT)'s performance of Camelot. This will be the fifth musical he has played percussion for with the VACT. Here is a shot from the 'pit' during yesterday's dress rehearsal.

And here is a short video of the budding musician in our family jammin' with his Daddy this past weekend. It's a bummer when you need to turn the page, but your little arms are too short and you practically fall off the piano bench. Please excuse our morning hair and the fact that we are all still in our pajamas!

video

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Soccer Practice

It has been a while since we posted a video. Here is a glimpse into our lazy weekend morning, for all you Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins to enjoy!

Subtitles added for those not yet fluent in jabber-talk.

video

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Mourning

Oh, Morning Nap! Why have you left me? It was you that bestowed upon me that precious hour before lunch to do those unheard of things, such as taking a bath, reading, or after nights when I worked late into the morning, taking a nap myself. You granted me the time to regroup and refresh my body and mind, so that I could be the best that I could be. Without you, I am but a smelly Mama, with a toddler who is cranky and yet too awake and unwilling to rest.

Morning Nap, why have you left me?
-Jen

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Determination!

After all the Christmas gift-knitting, I am determined to make something for myself. So, to celebrate my recent de-stashing, I purchased some beautiful handpainted sock yarn from KnitPicks in a colorway called Looking Glass, and in an attempt to cure my one-sock-syndrome (Colleen - I swear I will finish the second Andean sock!), I am knitting them toe-up and both at once. They may take me a month, but by golly, I will do it!



Meanwhile, Noah has been really into his cars lately. He can usually be found zooming them across the floor, carrying them all around, stashing them in the drawer under the oven, or (when he thinks I am not watching) driving them across the piano bench. I tried to capture a photo of him deep in play with some of his handmade-by-Grandpa Ted toys, but alas, the camera lured him away.

Hmmm... I wonder who he gets that look of determination from?
-Jen

Smile

This photo was sent to us by Sis and Auntie Trisha. It brought a smile to my face, so I thought I would pass it along. Nature is so wonderful!

I was unable to find the name of the photographer. Please let me know if you discover who it is.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

One of these things is not like the others...

How do you know you have a toddler in the house? When you open the refrigerator to find...

Ta DA! A shoe!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Winter Walk

Noah and I ventured out into the brisk late afternoon air for a little nature walk today. I find there is something about carrying a camera and a child that allows me to really see things that I otherwise might not. Such as these animal footprints in the snow...

Or the moon rising between the trees in the late afternoon sky. Noah noticed it too, and stared at it for a while with a look of wonder on his face.

Or the way that if we stood in just the right spot, we could see the sunset through the missing slats of this old barn.

Or the gradient of cool pastels in the eastern sky, as the sun was setting in the west. Unexpected, but beautiful.

Despite the cold temperatures, Noah did not complain. Instead, he gazed at the wintery landscape and chattered to me about what he saw as his cheeks got rosy red.

If only I could understand what he said. For I am sure he saw so much more than I.
-Jen

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why Waldorf?

If you know us, or have been reading our blog recently, you probably already know that we have chosen to provide Noah with natural toys and strive to create a calm environment in our home without the mass quantities of battery-operated toys that is fairly common in most homes with babies and toddlers. You may have seen the term Waldorf used to describe our style of living and parenting. You can click here to read about the origins of Waldorf education and about the attributes of Waldorf playthings. While we are not strictly Waldorf, there are many aspects of Waldorf education and philosophy that seem to fit well with our family. Below are some of the reasons we have chosen a Waldorf-inspired lifestyle and playthings.

Rhythm. Having a regular rhythm/routine to the day, week and year helps children to know what to expect next in the course of the day and the week. For example, on Tuesday we sweep the floors and vacuum, on Wednesday we do laundry, etc. Also, having yearly rituals for birthdays and seasonal celebrations builds a sense of family and stability.


Reverence for nature. Outdoor free-play (even in the rain or snow) in naturalistic surroundings provides opportunities for the child to explore. The child should have dirt to dig, places to climb, a source of water for play, trees, flowers that smell good, bugs, birds, a garden with edibles. Ideally, play should involve all of the senses. Seasonal changes are celebrated with a nature table containing objects found during nature walks. Each morning the earth is greeted with a song or verse.

Limited media influence. Waldorf encourages limited, if any, television viewing for young children, no character clothes or products, and no computer use for young children. This allows the child's imagination to developed freely, without the constraints of commercialism.

A slowed pace. As much as possible, the home should be protected from the frantic, busy, noisy, and rushed pace that is often the norm today.

Parent involved in purposeful work. Young children learn through imitation, so adults should model behavior that is worthy of imitation. Even if the task is washing the dishes, or doing laundry, the parents should take pleasure in this simple activity as children pick up on mood and attitude. The child should be involved in simple and routine chores of some kind, such as helping clear the table or putting away laundry.


Storytelling. Early education in Waldorf schools is based heavily on traditional fairytales and storytelling. Often the stories are told from memory and are acted out with figures or puppets to make the stories come alive.

Natural playthings. Children are given time for uninterrupted free play. Toys are made of natural materials such as wood, silk, and wool that appeal to all the senses. Toys are unstructured so children can turn one toy into many different things. Adults do not interfere with the play, but often supervise in a subtle way by doing some sort of work nearby suck as knitting, or folding clothes. Respect for the child in his/her development. Waldorf education acknowledges and respects the development of the child as a physical, mental and spiritual being, and allows development on all three levels to occur in their natural time.

This is but a glimse of Waldorf and why we feel it fits well with our family. It makes us happy to provide Noah with a home and environment that nurtures his growth in such a natural way!