Friday, January 28, 2011

The Wind in the Willows

We've just started reading The Wind in the Willows at bedtime, which I've never before read (though I do recall the Disney cartoon version quite well and always sing "We're Merrily on our Way" in my head in our neighborhood due to the streets here being very much like the names recited in the chorus). I found this quote compelling:
Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.
It so happens to be the bit that both children fell asleep to, but it reminded me of my life, especially lately as I lament my lack of motivation and the cold and all the problems going on in my life that seem on the one hand insubstantial yet inspire lengthy complaints to close friends. Every day I detail the ways in which I feel unmotivated then make attempts at rationalizing the ways in which I accomplish enough. This quote is like that: trying to describe what enough is, what it looks like, how it goes.

It also calls to mind when I was doing similar lamenting to a friend this past fall, whining about all the things to do and the struggle to drag boys about trying to do things. She cut me off with, "and boys don't care!" And I, feeling self-righteous and indignant said, "You're right! They don't!" Then she said the most surprising thing I think I'd ever heard and knew and yet somehow never saw before, "Which is awesome."

It had simply never occurred to me that the boys lack of interest in almost anything included in externally-motivated definitions of "value" might be seen as a boon. The Water Rat says it right there and it applies to boys and unschooling and all of it: it doesn't matter what you do. Whatever it is, it fills up time, space. Water Rat is so existential, when you think about it. Do amazing things, recognize that they are as common and as necessary as sweeping the floor. It's all about intention.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mozart's Birthday

Thanks to The Celebrationists (which I believe is mainly a single artist in NYC), we have new inspiration for approaching activities for the day which doesn't involve me leaving the comfort of the internet. The Celebrationists also provide the art: Today we celebrated Mozart's 255th birthday. We had to do some math to figure out how old he would have been today, which involved learning how to "borrow." Then we printed the above art for the living room wall, read about Mozart on Wikipedia, and listened to lots of examples of the music online. I swore we owned a few CDs of Mozart - for which we discussed the alphabetization of media in order to search through our shelves - but all we could come up with was Beethoven (whom I actually like much better, generally, but he wasn't born on this day).

Then after dinner, we baked. Happy Birthday Mozart! We made you pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Pity you're dead and can't enjoy them.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Building the Igloo

As we are having a real winter with real snow - not that that's unusual here - we had no choice but to try to build something out of the mass of white in our front yard. Alas, it was an igloo. To achieve said igloo, we dug all the snow in the yard into a pile and the children used their bodies to pack it down since our snow was not very pack-y. Then we dug out the interior with sand shovels.

Go Fish!

Bastian and I play. At the very end, he tries to say he's "on a roll," which I've said before when we played, but it's his own variation. Too cute.

Learning to Sew, Birthday Presents

We decided to make Lavinia a sock monkey for her upcoming birthday because we have seriously no money and because the sock monkeys I make are generally delightful and amazing, if I do say so myself.

We've been having ongoing family movie night in which we work through a series (last week, while knitting legwarmers it was the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy), so we sat on the couch watching Pirates of the Caribbean whilst I pieced her altogether.

Aleks began to fondle my needles and thread, desiring to learn to sew, so finally, years after having purchased the embroidery hoops in order to teach sewing, I broke one out, along with a piece of jersey knit and Aleks drew a skull, which we began to stitch. He grew bored rather rapidly - which made me think that next time, we'll just let him try the basic in-and-out stitching rather than this full-blown design - but then Bastian decided he wanted to give it a go. We each did a bit and by the next day, I'd finished.
As my first real embroidery project, it was a lesson as jersey knit means your stitches will be very loose upon being released from their tautness in the hoop. He plans to live in a quilt for the boys of all their old clothing (unfit for passing on) and I just hope his teeth all stay on.
After two Pirates movies (and some after-children-were-in-bed stitching), she looked fabulous.

Aleks drew a picture of the final product because he felt that since I'd done all the work, it wasn't really a gift from him. We're planning on matting and framing it to give the two together. I think it's the most adorable thing we ever thought of. His drawing is completely awesome and I was so glad to see him trying a new medium - this is in colored pencils.