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.