Saturday, November 25, 2006


It's funny how little comments can stick with you. Over the holiday weekend, Grammy asked if we ever worried about putting our kids' pictures and names on the internet, because of "predators".

I've never given that much thought. Perhaps I'm naive but I just can't imagine anyone taking the time to track down some random child. I know my kids are gorgeous and brilliant, but what could follow from someone reading this blog?

But then Anthropapa pointed out that all of our favorite parents' blogs use pseudonyms for themselves and their kids. So I'm wondering, what level of privacy is necessary? What are the assumptions behind the privacy of information on the internet? What are the actual risks?

Any thoughts, O my loyal 2-3 readers?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thinking Thanksgiving Thoughts

We're starting to get ready for Turkey Day around here, busily stuffing the fridge and doing strategic cooking planning. It will just be 4 adults and 2 kids, but we'll still cook the whole shebang. We decided on a mostly native foods menu this year, with turkey, bread stuffing, cornbread, wild rice, green beans, peas & pearl onions, cranberry sauce, apple pie and pumpkin pie. Lots to give thanks for.

I got a little book for the kids about Thanksgiving, but what a hard decision. There were many to choose from at the local chain bookstore, but most of them are either too cartoony, or don't seem to be telling a story even remotely close to the real history. The one I chose seems to be trying to tell most of the bits that would be comprehensible to young children, without the religious persecution, Manifest Destiny, King Philip's War, native peoples ravaged by smallpox, etc.

I did find a cool website about The First Thanksgiving, as part of my research into my latest burning question: Puritans vs. Pilgrims. I thought that they wouldn't be called Pilgrims until they left Europe, and that they were called Puritans in England.

Turns out in England the initial Protestant splinter group was called Puritans, which then split further into an even more radical reformist group called Separatists who sailed on the Mayflower, then in early Plymouth they were First Comers, then Forefathers and then Pilgrims.

I also learned that the first settlers were heavily indentured for many years by merchant investors, and that they had already moved to the Netherlands more than 10 years before sailing from Southampton, England. There is no evidence that the Pilgrims landed on any rock in what was later named Plymouth.

Anyway, now I need to find a little ritual with the kids to help them remember what they are thankful for. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

But then, they make up for it...

Tonight before bedtime SillyBilly made a little bed on the floor for his most beloved friend, Banjo the puppy. He then proceeded to sing lullabies (Oh How Lovely is the Evening and This Little Light of Mine) in a quiet, off-key, little boy voice. He also played the pentatonic lyre very gently and softly to complete the bedtime mood.

Tantrum Land

Well, we've reached a new phase in the Anthrohaus....tantrum land. Napoleona has decided that it's her way or the highway, about every living thing. Today at Target she wanted to ride in the giant carts with two kids' seats in the front, and when I said no she started freaking out. Those behemoths weigh about a thousand pounds and invariably one wheel has given up the ghost. So using one is pretty much like steering a water buffalo through quicksand, and I just wasn't up for it.

So now my challenge is, how do I work with her to 1) calm her down so her shrieks don't pierce my eardrums, 2) get her to listen to what I am trying to say, and 3) remember to not freak out the next time, all without resorting to major violence?

She is pretty stubborn, but luckily she's only 2 1/2 so I can still rely on some mother's helpers: distraction, her complete lack of rationality and logical thinking (oh yes, that's actually helpful sometimes), and my newest friend, Consequences.

We've been becoming more and more acquainted with Consequences lately...

"If you can't stop screaming and sit calmly in the cart, we will have to leave and go home."
"If you hit your brother again, you will go sit in your room."
"If you step into the brook and get wet, we will have to stop playing and go inside."
"If you don't start using nice words and an inside voice, Mama's head will explode and you'll have to clean it up." (Haven't actually used that one yet, but it's been tempting.)

Sometimes distraction works well: "Hey look, those seagulls are eating up all the french fries that lady just dumped out of the back seat of her car!"

Sometimes irrational thinking works: "If we keep our house neat and clean, the monsters will be repelled by its beauty and stay away!" (Caveat: I'm not big on scaring kids into submission, so I tread carefully with this one. I have never said "If you don't clean up your room, the monsters will come for you!"...but I have been tempted.)

And then there's the bonus action of the big brother egging her on or having a tantrum of his own....

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Light and Dark

I’m finding myself a bit melancholy this autumn. I think in some way I’m experiencing a true autumn, in that the profound changes in nature in this part of the world in this season have really penetrated my emotional life. Though I don't celebrate any festivals honoring the dead like Samhain, All Soul's or Dia de los Muertos, I still find myself thinking about people I know who have passed over the threshold.

Since this area is primarily mixed deciduous forest, we have incredible leaf colors. Burning scarlet maples, yellow walnut and weeping cherry, and every color in between. Our feet scuffle through thick layers of rotting leaves on the forest paths near our home, and the little brooks become clogged and even dammed by the piles of leaves. After rainy days, mushrooms pop up through the earth, and after windy days the paths are littered with sticks and branches.

Though we are blessed with the bluest skies of the year, our attention seems drawn down to the earth along with the falling leaves. The warmth and light of the sun now decreases in the heavens and comes closer to the earth, in the bright colors of falling leaves and autumn harvest foods such as pumpkins and apples.

Autumn seems to me to be a time of hard thoughts. In summer we are more physically active, outside most of the time, and full of the same abundant life forces we see in nature. In autumn, those life forces are dying away in the outer world, and we must struggle to maintain our inner light in the face of the coming cold and darkness.

In Waldorf/anthroposophical communities, we celebrate an unusual yet ancient festival, Michaelmas, at the end of September. In the Bible we can read in Revelation about Michael casting out the dragon from heaven down to earth. This image corresponds to the modern struggle between spirit and materialism, light and darkness. The scaly, cold, earthly dragon opposes the fiery angelic spirit.

I see a correlation between this casting down to earth of darkness and the festivals of light at this time of year. We are surrounded by jack-o-lanterns, bonfires and candles for the dead on Samhain and All Soul’s Day, the lamps of Divali, and lantern walks for Martinmas, another ancient festival celebrated in our community.

Two nice quotes about autumn:

St. Martin recognized the divine spark in the poor man of Amiens, and gave it the protection of his own cloak. When we make a paper lantern, we, too, may fell that we are giving protection to our own little “flame” that was beginning to shine at Michaelmas, so that we may carry it safely through the dark world.
-All Year Round, Druitt, Fynes-Clinton, Rowling.

The season of hope and promise is past…We are a little saddened because we begin to see the interval between our hopes and their fulfillment. The prospect of the heavens is taken away, and we are presented only with a few small berries.
-Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A knotty knitty problem

Maybe it's the trees almost devoid of leaves, bare branches against darkening skies, and the cold winds blowing from the north hurrying us indoors. Maybe it's the time change, where more hours of the waking day seem to be spent in darkness, within the small pool of light that is our home.

Or maybe it's that Christmas and Hanukkah are only a few short weeks away, and I've committed myself to many home-made presents this year, but right now...

It's all about the crafting.

I have about 42 projects going on at once, including knitting a sweater vest, a pair of mittens, a hat, and a teddy bear sweater; a truly cool knitted/embroidered/latch-hooked farm landscape for the kids about 1/16th finished, and one cross-stich project as yet unbegun. I also want to make a flannel dress for Napoleona, a sweater vest for myself, hem about 10 pairs of pants for Anthropapa....

It all started back in August when I was visiting my mom. When I found out she didn't have a Hanukkah sweater for her favorite holiday teddy bear, I promised to make one for her. Then Anthropapa gave me some red wool yarn for my birthday. Then I found a funny little cross stitch project to make for one of the grandparents. Then I took a class on knitting in the round at the Sunbridge Craft Studio so I could learn to make mittens for the kids. Then Anthropapa complained one too many times that I never knit him anything, so I had to start on a sweater with some great yarn I found on sale. Then at the Eurythmy School Rummage Sale I found a cool book about knitting fantasy figures and landscapes (knit a castle, how cool is that?), which included the farm landscape that just begged to be created.

It's all snowballed into a bit of crafting hell, where something I love to do is slowly but surely being overshadowed by a looming deadline. Anthropapa kindly let me off the hook (ha!) by saying he didn't expect a whole sweater by Christmas, and I know that really the kids don't need the farm landscape right away either. But still, that's a lot to do in the few weeks I have left.

I can't decide if it's just a problem of short attention span and lack of focus, 2 weeks gone by either sweating out a fever or visiting with grandparents, or just that I need to learn to knit much, much faster.