The Village Free School does as All-School Sleepover each year, and this year’s is tonight. Our kids have never been on a sleepover; although the neighbor kids have multiple times brought up the idea, they’ve always wanted to stay at our house, and Dave and I vetoed. I think they imagine staying up really late and playing like crazy, but both Dave and I love our sleep and have little interest in making more (and later) work for ourselves.

Ryan was uninterested in the Village Free School sleepover — in fact, he steadfastly refused to consider it even with Nathan’s talking it up — but Nathan was excited. So tonight I dropped him off with sleeping gear and a bag full of snacks and stuffed animals. I stayed through the orientation (he was clearly a little nervous and wanted to be in my lap) but left immediately afterwards. They were already gathering for a trek to a park, and there was a massive game of hide-and-go-seek purported to happen later. He’ll be fine.

I drove back feeling weird and nostalgic and with sympathetic nerves. On the one hand I’m totally excited for him and proud of him, as whenever he embarks on an adventure. On the other hand this is the first time he’s ever slept away from us, and that feels weird. Wasn’t he just a little baby, Mica’s age, still snuggling into our bed at night? How did that change?

And when I got back, as I expected, Ryan was sad — he wished he’d gone too. Next year, love.

And The Other Pictures

Baby smiles are addictive, and one of the reasons is that they’re utterly pure. There’s no artifice in a baby’s expression, no filters between their brains and their little mobile faces. Getting a good baby portrait is a matter of timing: get the baby roughly in position, get them looking the right way, make them smile, push the button. It isn’t entirely easy to get those things to sync up, but it’s no harder than, say, pinball.

Older children, who have grown out of the animal stage of human development and developed true consciousness… they’re harder. “Take a picture of me with my eyes crossed!” “Ok, I’ll be Freddy — take one now!” (From Five Nights At Freddy’s, a video game, if you’re blessed with ignorance.) “Now I’m going to die… Ugh!” “Ok, this is my biggest smile!”

It does no good to explain the ideal of a natural smile; at least at seven and five, they don’t understand what that means. It does no good to harass them about it; the smiles only become more uncertain and more false. In short, the process is just like with a baby, except with their freaking intellect in the way, which means there are at least twelve additional stars to line up before everything works out.

All of which is to say that my original idea, of scheduling a reminder to take pictures like this every year… well, I’m wavering a bit on that. We’ll see.



Just A Picture


Strangely, it’s been much harder to get good shots of the boys than the baby…

Bedtime Books

I am not much of a woodworker, but I can occasionally pull together a project if it’s pretty simple. Mom once told me that she liked building, but the trouble with it was that when constructing with wood, unlike with fabric, everything has to fit just perfectly. With fabric one can tug it a little bit, but with wood… not so much.

I’d like to say that understanding this has caused me to become more meticulous in my building, but that would be a lie. What it’s really caused me to do is lower my standards. Small gaps, while unsightly, probably won’t be noticed from across the room, and that’s the distance from which I like to view my creations.

It’s still worth building the occasional thing. After all, sometimes it’s hard to find something ready-made that perfectly meets your need. Case in point: a home for our bedtime books.


Each week I grab a handful of new picture books from the library, so that after tooth-brushing the boys can each choose a book. I love the ritual, but I’ve wanted a more convenient way to store the books — they tend to end up in a big pile somewhere, and only the top ones get noticed. Voila! A simple, narrow pocket under their window that nicely holds the books.

Current favorite books, by the way, include Chickens To The Rescue! and Bedtime Math 2.

The Walking Game: Leveling Up

Mica is now nine months old, and she has celebrated this milestone by starting in on that time-honored variant of the Walking Game: Walking Between Two People. (Pictures by Nathan — thanks, sweetie!)




Oh my goodness, but she loves this game. She loves it when she sturdily walks four feet, she loves it when she topples over into our hands, she loves it when she veers off course and has to be pulled back from running off to find her fortune. Every time she takes a few steps on her own she looks up at us with a huge smile on her face — a smile that promises that soon, very soon, she will be fully mobile and independent, and no one will be able to hold her back. (Cue ominous but somehow still cute music here.)


Suminagashi is still good fun, but I’ve been feeling a lack in my life. This lack can best be summed up with the phrase “marbling on fabric.” I have nothing against paper — dead useful stuff, that — but can you sew with it? Not very easily.

As it happened, I actually had a marbling kit on my shelf, one of those things picked up a long time ago and never used. It looked slightly more complicated than suminagashi, with things like mordant and size, and I just hadn’t made it happen.

Now I have, and it turns out to be still pretty easy. What’s better, both Ryan (not unexpected) and Nathan (hallelujah!) gave it a whirl as well. Nathan’s creation is on the top left, and Ryan’s on the bottom left.


This is, as with all good crafts, only the tip of the iceberg. I have two books from the library now to tempt me into doing more.

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It’s That Time Again…

Time to add a load of compost to the garden beds! I love this job — it’s good strong work, the beds look great afterwards, and all that rich black dirt makes my fingers itch to plant things. It’s only mildly more challenging with a baby, depending on how worried one is about the baby tasting some dirt. (Answer: not very.)


The boys like me doing this job too, because they get to “help” as much as they want. Sometimes they do in fact help a bit, although I have to say that my shovel is vastly more effective than their trowels. But more importantly they get to play in dirt. From the way they get into it, one would think there were no other piles of dirt on the property for them to play in. (Not true.)



Nathan came in from a hard hour of dirt play with his hands absolutely black, gave them a quick rinse in the sink (just enough to make them muddy, as Dave pointed out) and then tried to pick up Mica. Who’d just had a bath to scrub her own blackness off. She looks grumpy in the picture, but that isn’t because she’s the first baby in the history of the world to be mad about getting dirty — it’s just that she was tired and we made her stand still for a photo shoot.


And now I’ve finally planted some carrots and greens, a few pea seeds (in hopes of a trellis to come soon, but that’s another story), and mulched the strawberry beds. Spring is really one of my favorite seasons.


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