Saturday, December 11, 2010

Looking for Me?

I've moved!

You can find my new posts on Now that the big switch has been completed, regular posts will once again be forthcoming!

Please remember to update any feed readers that you might be using.

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Moving Right Along

It's time to move on to other things. I'm certainly ready. A couple of days needed to go by before I felt right again and by now I don't think much about what happened at the bookstore. I'm reluctant to go into the city on my own again, but I'm sure this trepidation will pass in no time.

I admit that it's surprising how long it took me to move past it. Usually, I spring right back from setbacks, but this one knocked me for a loop. But what's done is done. It helped me to realize that nothing that I or the kids had done had merited his attack. Had we been dancing around him chanting "Evermore, Evermore" we still wouldn't have deserved such intense abuse. My friend said he was a bully and a coward and I think that sums it up very nicely. No one else would go after a woman out alone with her small children. He certainly wouldn't have said those things if my husband or brother had been there (at least not if he had any sense of self-preservation at all).

Speaking of my brother, and moving on to more joyous subjects, he and his unit are back from Iraq! They arrived last Thursday just before the holiday weekend. The armory is about half a mile from my house so I walked there with the kids, pushing the stroller with Henry and a six pack of beer--for Pete. I left early because I didn't know for sure how long it would take us to walk there and by the time we got there I found that I had left pleeeeeennnty early to meet the buses. Still, there were many families there as well as what appeared to be a group or two of volunteers who came to help greet the soldiers. They had everything decorated with flags and music was being piped over some speakers. We waited and waited. My parents arrived so the kids and I waited with them. Finally, the buses pulled up and my brother was one of the first ones off. I didn't think I would be able to tell him apart from the others since, well, they all dress alike, but I could pick him out right away.

We walked over to where they were standing in formation and a general, then the commanding officer, then someone else all took turns saying "Have a nice weekend, relax with your families" before they were dismissed. I was the first one to get to him and gave him a big hug, but he wouldn't rest until he met up with his wife (Really, I can't understand this. Isn't a sister just as good as a pretty wife? ;) ). After we all caught up we just stood around smiling at each other. I have a really nice picture of Pete and his wife, but I haven't asked their permission to post it, so you'll have to do without.

I haven't seen him since because all he wants to do is sleep in his own bed, shower with the door closed, and drink beer (no beer in the desert apparently). He's supposed to call when he's ready for company so I'm guessing he'll be calling around Thanksgiving. It's enough to know he's home and happy.

While we were waiting for the buses, a reporter for our county paper asked if I'd give a quote. I'm obliging, if nothing else, and gamely agreed. The question she asked was how I felt about my brother coming home. I wish I had a better answer than, duh, "Excited." I wonder what she would have said if I'd said, "I feel GREAT! Now that jerk can pay me back that money he owes. I've been waiting to squeeze it out of him ALL YEAR!"

Monday, June 28, 2010


The most shocking and unusual thing happened to me today. Really, I've never experienced anything to equal it. I'm still stunned and I'm not quite sure how to process what happened.

I had the kids out today to take care of some grocery shopping in the city. I thought to swing by a local tea shop to replenish my stash of tea, but the store didn't open for another half hour. To kill some time, I took the kids around the corner to a used bookstore. I wanted to find a specific book on U.S. History and I thought that they might have it. We browsed quickly through the Nature section and then headed back to the History section.

There was one man looking through the general U.S. History already, so I stopped the stroller and stood behind him a bit, trying to scan the titles quickly. After a minute, I tried to see if the books were arranged by author so I could see if the book was there or not--the kids were getting a little rowdy as they tried to entertain Henry into sitting still. I wasn't able to get anywhere, so I asked the man if he knew if the books were arranged by author or not.

He turned around and practically shouted, "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING ME? I think you are so RUDE to come back here with your KIDS. . ." and then proceeded to scold me in the harshest manner for DARING to bring my kids anywhere near him. I was absolutely shocked. My skin in still tingling all over from the encounter and my hands are still shaking. I told Thomas and Anna to go to the front of the store, mainly because I didn't know what this person was going to say next and I had no idea what would come out of my own mouth in the face of such confrontational behavior. They went a little bit away, though not quite far enough for my taste.

I wanted to explain that we were only going to be there for a minute and that I was trying to find a specific book and that then we would leave, but I only stammered a bit before he lit into me with a "No! NO! I'm not interested in anything you have to say, so JUST LEAVE." And of course, he was on a roll, so he didn't stop with that. Somewhere in my head I thought, "There is no reasoning with someone so divorced from common courtesy and feeling for others. Just walk away.", but I kept thinking that there must be something to say to help this man understand that I really wasn't trying to piss him off and that, really, I was only going to impose my kids on him for a minute. He was welcome to the History section for the rest of the day, for all I cared. But I quickly realized that there was nothing to say to anyone like this. He was past reason.

He got what he wanted, in the end. We left and I wondered in a numb manner what the life of someone like that must look like. As we walked back to the car, I told the kids, "Remember the people in the stories who don't like children? That man is one of them. You were a little noisy, perhaps, but it doesn't matter because that is someone who can never be pleased."

I'm still reeling from the encounter. I rarely bring all three kids out on my own because it's simply easier to get our few errands run in the evenings by myself. And I thought it would be ok to go to a big used bookstore with less than mouse-like kids. One spends so much time and energy avoiding being a public nuisance that it comes as something of a shock when it happens anyway.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Under Way

Summer is in full swing now and it's easy to tell because of the sporadic posting. We're outside, walking around the pond, pulling weeds in the garden, and playing in the yard. It takes up most of our time. When I'm finally inside, there's the usual housework to tackle, though the amount I complete is limited with a toddler around.

The other morning I was amazed to find that by 9:30 a.m. I had baked a batch of banana nut muffins and had a couple loaves of bread set to rise from freshly milled flour. I poured my first cup of coffee and looked out the window as I marveled at my productivity. Look at what I had accomplished! And so early! I couldn't figure out why I usually don't seem to manage to do the things that I really want to do. What made all this possible?

I then realized--all three kids were outside. There was no one under my feet and no one demanding immediate attention. There was no one stealthily attacking the computer or table lamp and no one standing on the couch. I was able to be focused and efficient. It was then I realized that I was neither lazy nor unmotivated on a regular day. I was simply overwhelmed! If you remove One Toddler from my home I hit a level of basic functioning. Allow me to take a bow.

Henry is a lot like Thomas was as a toddler. He is full-speed, head-on, faster-faster. He is happiest when he is into Everything and furious when he is not. I think he'll be happier when he's finally able to speak clearly enough for the rest of us to understand. I'll be happier when I can afford to develop a dependence on alcohol. I'm sure a happier Henry is right around the corner but I'm not quite sure that I'll survive until then. If I hadn't had a child like this before I would seriously doubt that a day of sanity would ever come. Thomas is still pretty intense, but at least he doesn't break things any more. At least not on purpose.

In other news, strawberry season is drawing to an end. I've picked about 15 lbs of berries. It's translated into a batch of jam, rhubarb-strawberry sauce, and one poorly executed strawberry pie (ask me why sugar and cornstarch are important). I still have about five pounds of berries waiting to become jam and dessert. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. For now, I'm out of sugar.

The biggest thing occupying my attention lately, apart from the aforementioned toddler, has been homeschool plans. I am a big Planner. I love plans, I love knowing what to expect, I like An Outline. I like to know what things are going to be like. I don't think I'm terribly inflexible, not that anyone thinks they're inflexible, but I like to have a general idea of what MIGHT happen. So, I've been reading a lot about homeschool nuts-and-bolts.

The past few months I've been reading Charlotte Mason's book Home Education. I've read a couple companion books that are written to condense the Home Education book into simple, practical nuggets. I've read blogs and websites about this approach to teaching. I've been hip-deep in writings about Narration, Dictation, Copywork, etc. There are few corners of or I haven't explored.

Anyway, all that to is to say that I've been hearing about some wonderful books lately. It makes me wish the kids and I could read all day. The hardest part is that we can't do it all. We can't read every book on every list and we can't follow every curriculum. For history alone there are many, many books that seem so promising--A Child's History of the World, A Little History of the World, The Story of the World, An Island Story, This Country of Ours. . . How do you choose? Thomas and Anna would listen to me read all day, but how much is too much? I don't want them overwhelmed to the point where they don't remember anything we've read!

Of course, at this point there is little fear of really reading too much. I have a toddler to make sure of that!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Uptown Boot Sock

What is this glory of golden yellow you see? Why it is one of my NEW SOCKS! I'm sure you remember this yarn from earlier, but here it is in it's knitted destiny. It's the Uptown Boot Sock pattern from the book Favorite Socks.

I used Pagewood Farms Denali sock yarn in the colorway Golden. This was a treat to knit. Usually I don't go nuts over how soft a yarn is (Malabrigo? I could take it or leave it.), but I did enjoy how buttery this yarn is.

I loved knitting this pattern. It was a very easy pattern to memorize which made it ideal for travel knitting, if cabling with out a cable needle doesn't faze you. My ONLY complaint, if you could call it that, is that when the foot is being knit, the stitch pattern is on more than half of the stitches. It makes the sock look better, but it meant needing to rearrange the stitches for toe decreases, which I never remembered to do. But the sock was a success and I know I'll love wearing these little rays of sunshine.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Knit Like a Turtle

I've been knitting slowly lately. I think it might be the advent of summer or perhaps it's all of the stress we've been wading through lately, but whatever the reason my knits have been hanging on the needles longer than usual.

Here's a pair of longies I knit for Henry. I didn't even enter this project into Ravelry, if you can believe it. I thought I'd show you here instead. I knit the toddler size of Picky Pants from Little Turtle Knits.

Normally I would shake my head at a $12 pattern, but in this case it is totally worth it. The pattern covers such a wide range of sizes and is so, so, so well written that the designer has earned her fee on this one. She even incorporates a gusset in the crotch of the pants to make this better than the typical longie pattern. I've knit these again and again.

I used Briggs and Little Heritage yarn in the Brown Heather colorway. Can I tell you how much I love Briggs and Little? This is a yarn that knows what wool is meant to be. This is the wooliest wool and I love the affordable price. I'm knitting a sweater for my not inconsiderable frame and it is only costing me $45. It makes me want to burst into song.

I've also just finished a pair of socks. I'd love to show you, but this silly blogging software is being uncooperative. I'll have to try again in another post. I've been considering a switch to a different format. My biggest complaint with this Blogger set up has been that it doesn't allow me to easily respond to your comments. So often I've wanted to send back an email saying, at least, "Thanks for reading and I appreciate your comments!", but there is no straight forward way of accomplishing it. My husband Peter has a blog and uses a format that lets him do this.

With everything going on I don't know that I'll be getting to it soon, but I thought I'd let you know it's been on my radar.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Bookstore

There is a new bookstore open in Hastings.

It's a real hodge podge. The guy is just getting settled in and disorder reigns. But it is loaded with books.

This book, Toads and Frogs, reads amazingly wells. We just found a large toad in our yard two days ago so the interest is high in our house.

I was impressed with how well written this 1942 pamphlet is.

I'm a big fan of Charlotte Mason's book Home Education. Two books that many Charlotte Mason fans recommend are Tanglewood Tales and Wonder Book, both by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have no idea if the kids will like these books or if they are even old enough for them yet, but I was glad to find this copy on the shelves. I can look through it without having to spend a lot of money ordering it online. I'm sure a free copy could be found on the internet, but I find reading on my computer to be a little tedious. Now, if I had one of those new iPads, it would be easier.

My great-aunt Grace was a school teacher way back in The Day. When she retired, she brought home a couple of the readers she had used in her classroom. She gave them to me when I was a child and I enjoyed reading them. I found one of these Alice and Jerry readers when I was poking around on the shelves. This one was originally published in 1936, but this printing is from 1957. I'll have to check and see how old Aunt Grace's copy is, but it looks identical.

I also found this copy of Editha's Burglar by Frances Hodgson Burnett who also wrote The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. This copy is marked as being printed in 1899.

I also found a couple of children's songbooks. One is called Songs from Childhood from 1927, I think, and the other called The American Singer and the only date I can find in it is from 1948.

There were a couple of other books, but this is the majority of the haul. I was so glad to find these old, obscure books. So many wonderful books have gone out of print and are hard to find and yet I love to use them in our learning.

In other news, my father-in-law continues to do poorly. Please remember him in your prayers. This week will bring an appointment at Mayo in Rochester. We are hoping they have some ideas for treating his cancer. I haven't said much on this blog regarding that situation, but it dominates our thoughts these days. Thank you so much for your prayers.