Monday, December 3, 2012

happy december!

i know it's been a while.

i have been rather busy working, mothering, housekeeping, tending to sick babes, tending to a sick wife, and elving.

the wife and i have been ramping up for the christmas season for quite some time now: thinking, dreaming, online shopping, packaging. but mostly, we've been making. every spare moment is spent making. and sometimes moments are orchestrated to ensure that the making happens amid the hustle and bustle of work and family life.

while watching tv, on the bus, on rare lunch dates, the wife and i have also been giving serious thought to the tone and tradition we want to set for our kids during this holiday season: thoughtful intentions, mindfulness, meditation, and generosity.

over the next little while, and interspersed with anything else i feel like sharing, i'll be documenting some of the ways we'll be merry-making, discovering the spirit of giving, celebrating the return of the light, and paying tribute to the nativity. we are going for simple and sweet this year, with a focus on togetherness and gratitude.

starting now.

well, starting yesterday, actually.

the wife and i collaborated on our family's advent calendar (we designed together. i cut the pieces and hand-sewed most of the numbers. she machine sewed.). and this would be the first year we'll be marking the rhythm of december by counting down the days before christmas with family activities.

i've been wanting to do an advent calendar since the year the boy was born, inspired by so many fabulous examples in in the blogosphere. our version was made only from what was in our supply closet: felt, broad cloth, and leftover yarn.

this handsome reindeer from christmases past is going to mark our december days for us. 

yesterday, we kicked the month off by decorating the tree.

today's activity was our very first santa claus parade (which was mostly a wet, cold, and epic adventure. we vow to be the wiser next year, with a newly formed strategy that mainly involves catching the tail end of the parade and skipping out of most of the rest).

tomorrow, we're shopping for the boy's school food drive and i'm looking forward to this starter opportunity to talk to my kids about what it means to help others, even in the smallest of ways. 

this is only our second christmas as a foursome and it is all the fuller for it.

my toddlers are older this year. what they see, what they hear, what they understand - watching them experience their lives, changes my perspective everyday, challenges me to be better, kinder, more mindful.

some days are most certainly better than others. today was most definitely not my best, to be sure. (i don't deal well with public meltdowns.) but there is also value and a certain sense of redemption in starting a fresh new day, "with no mistakes in it;" and in the interest of sanity and being kind to myself, i think i'm going to embrace this sentiment as part of our december days: my christmas gift to myself. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

gorgeous moments: deep fall at the river beach

come for a walk to the river beach with us.

the weather shapes the landscape into a place newly magical every time we go. 

the boy usually finds a stick to carry.

photo by the wife
the stick is often used for pretend fishing.

i walk slow and take pretty pictures.

the wife and the boy usually run ahead.

lately, the girl's been enjoying rides on my back.

i'm thinking she's getting to see a lot more on my back than she ever did in the (stolen) stroller.

we always end up at the beach. 

the kids inevitably get right in there.

the wife thinks we should invest in wet suits.

there's usually a bit of a "costume change" before we head home either way.

then we call for pizza delivery and walk home as quickly as possible - before hungry tempers undo our family zen. 

happy friday!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

mothering soundbytes: girl talk

just last week, i found myself at a comic book store near my office where i thought to call the wife to be sure that i would be picking up the latest instalment of the buffy season 9 (priorities, you know). 

the call went like this:

me: hello? hello...? hello?
her: hello!
me: hi my darling daughter! how are you? 
her: good.
me: whatchoo doing? 
her: nothing.
me: can you give the phone to mom  please? 
her: okay.

[silence. shuffles. screams at her mom. phone is passed to the wife.]

wife: daughter, who did you call...?

wife: ... hello?

me: hey. did you know the girl had your phone? 
wife: no.
me: you mean she answered the phone? 
wife: i guess so!
me: huh. 

my baby turns 20 months old tomorrow.

she baffles me everyday with her smarts and her smile, that one.

she can sing her abc's. in fact, she sings all day. we often sing together, and she finishes my verses for me. she may not be able to pronounce all the letters and words but her sing song is usually nearly in tune.

she can count to thirteen.

she tells you when you don't quite understand what she's saying with a  patronizing, "no."

she surprises me daily with the breadth of her vocabulary - especially at this stage of her development. 
she's already so strong, opinionated, assertive, and brave. sassy. funny.

my littlest babe is growing up so fast. and something tells me it's going to be quite the trip learning from her, as well as with her, in the days and years ahead.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

knit parade: in fall colour

shawl pattern: piper's journey

yarn: the fibre company acadia in sea lavender (extra yummy, new favourite! the silk slubs that stud this shawl in luminous colour are very difficult to capture with the camera)

shawl pattern: damson

yarn: hand maiden yarn in beach house (fingering weight, not sure which base) i love how the yarn and pattern play well with each other.

happy monday

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

knit parade: birthday socks

ta-da! the wife's b-day socks - to feed our ongoing sock obsession.

pattern: basically, susan b. anderson's how i make my socks, modified with some basic mock cabling which i learned knitting this and this some time back.

yarn: sweet georgia tough love sock in cold mountain. delicious and beautifully vibrant yarn! so much fun to knit with.

i know that the colours and textures are a bit trippy - but that's just the reason socks are so much fun for me to knit. they're wearable no matter how fun and funky they look.

she loves it. success!

Monday, November 5, 2012

the wife had a birthday yesterday

we celebrated with home-made cinnamon buns (recipe from our dear friend alex. the kids' were my sous chefs), a trip to granville island, a visit to the beach, rolling down a hill, swimming at the aquatic centre, and then an early dinner at our dear friend's place: our favourite things.

simple family adventuring is how we like to do birthdays. 

one of the best parts? the day was so full - even for bustling toddler energy, that the kids were knocked out rather early. so the wife and i got to curl up on the couch with the cat and catch up on tv. 

(i finally started the sweater she's been asking for and knit nothing but on her birthday weekend.) 

i hope the wife had a good day. i know i did. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

knit parade: for halloween

final halloween post of the year, methinks. just thought i would share some of the knitting goodness. 

i knit this sweater for the boy last year, when his love for dinosaurs was at its peak. then, it was a fight to get him to wear it.

sweater pattern: garter ridge hoodie
dinosaur spines: steggie
yarn: spud and chloe sweater

this year, i finally got a good photo! and the boy has proclaimed that he loves it! (heart instantly broke and got bigger)

the wife made our tails!
pattern: dino tails

eager to watch the boy react to his classmates and their costumes, we all took him to school. we wore our dinosaur tails. the wife wore the hat i most recently made her to match. (apparently, we really really like this colour)

hat pattern:
yarn: manos del uruguay
three days before halloween, the boy decided that he wanted to dress up as a bat. that's when the wife set to work on his wings. i simply added some ears to a hat i already knit and voila! instant batty costume!

not the best picture but a pretty cool effect overall, eh? 

hat pattern: rib-a-roni
bat ears: from roar
yarn: berocco blackstone tweed and random leftovers from stash

i have some pretty special halloween knitting plans for next year though. for me and the girl, specifically. that's if i can get her buy-in. we shall see.

happy friday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

halloween night

last night, a witch, a vampire, and a bat appear to have adopted pooh bear as one of their own.

photo courtesy of wendy (neighbour and friend)

i didn't get to take any really good pictures of my kids for halloween. the boy just wouldn't pose.  also, the girl needed a lot of assistance going up and down the stairs. my hands were full.

it stopped raining in time for us to really enjoy being out long past twilight, catching glimpses of friends and their older kids as they zipped from doorway to doorway. of course,  we did our own knocking on our lovely neighbours' doors where my own babes filled their buckets rather quickly with candy.

i loved watching the girl walk in her pooh costume. (the boy wore the very same costume two years ago!)

i loved seeing the boy flap his bat wings (which the wife made with her hands using a broken umbrella, following martha's instructions). his costume rocked.

i also loved traipsing around as a witch (red and white stockings et al), with the vampire love of my life (nod to the all souls trilogy). 

and you? how was your halloween? 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

halloween ready

the pumpkins are carved. the costumes are ready. 

here's hoping the rain decides to ease up for a bit of trick or treating tonight.

happy halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

favourite things: pumpkins

it was rare that my parents came to school events. of course, they did all my school plays and graduations, etc. but they generally didn't do things like parent-teacher interviews or multi-cultural events. and i really didn't require them to. i was a good kid, a good student. and they were busy and tired from long days commuting and working. 

once though, i made my mom come to a mother-daughter event. i don't remember much about the event itself but i do remember that there was a little contest or interview of sorts where the question, "if your daughter was a vegetable, what would she be?" was asked.

on the transit ride home, i remember being curious enough to ask my mom what vegetable she thought i was. she answered, "a squash." and i distinctly recall a suppressed laugh. 

i was mortified. 

i was in my teens. and although i generally had nothing against squash in general, i didn't want to see myself in such tough, round, seedy, stringy, and well... squat-ish light. 

i don't know if i have the squash guts to ask my mom now what she was actually thinking then.  

in my late thirties, i have no quarrel with the notion of being seen as a gourd of any kind. i think gourds are beautiful and delicious. instead, these days, i celebrate the pumpkin!

in fact, pumpkin season at our house is now in full swing.

we didn't get to the pumpkin patch this year. but the boy didn't mind. extra large buckets of pumpkins are more than enough to set our babes' sense of wonder and occasion alight.

pumpkins at rest on my dining table are so beautiful to me. we'll be carving those tonight, in time for halloween.

i made pumpkin muffins using cynthia lair's recipe from feeding the whole family. (i omitted the cloves and cardamom and instead swirled in a mixture of cream cheese and egg. so good! and it gets better every day!)

and i made a pumpkin-coloured hat for an 8-year old friend at our co-op. he's a fan of the percy jackson series. i hope he likes it.

now, it's time to get to work. and then some last-minute halloween prep. which really means a lot more work than i think i signed up for.

happy tuesday!