Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Things Your Children Do When You Aren't Watching

This is one of my favorite moments of 2008 and I wasn't even there to witness it. This occured when we were visiting Chicago on Labor Day weekend (remember warm weather?). We were waiting at Hegewisch station for the South Shore Line to take us into the city. The adults were on the platform and the kids were in the shelter. Ellis' dance moves are amazing and I'm grateful to Nate for his video skills in capturing this.

Monday, December 22, 2008

One more hymn to the darkness before the light returns...

Back on my birthday I vowed never to not be distracted from the beauty on the West River Parkway during my evening commute. Shortly after that, the position of the northern hemisphere in relation to the sun, coupled with the end of daylight savings time, plunged my commute into darkness. At first I was unsure how I would keep to my guiding principle when I could barely see and when my affect had also sunk into darkness as happens each year when I'm starved for sunlight. I thought my main goal would have to be to avoid a crash, literally and figuratively. However, as we come around the bend of the winter solstice and the light is about the return, I can safely say that the commute remains beautiful, even in the dark. Here's a list of a few of the things I noticed:

1. The new 35W bridge glows like a beautiful blue wave lit up by LED lights.

2. The stainless steal walls of the Weisman Museum shimmer like an ice palace.

3. The west bank of the University of Minnesota stands like a dark fortress on the bluffs above the river. It reminds me of William Blake's "dark satanic mills" - in a good way.

4. Joggers with reflective tape provide a trippy sort of black light show.

5. The river now frozen and snow covered enough to reflect light reminds me that even big and mighty things must sleep.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

C is for Christmas, C is for Craft

The best thing that has happened for me this holiday season has been the final clearing of junk in our fourth bedroom that has now become my workroom. Add to that wonderful space a new, functional sewing machine and I am in heaven this season. One of my first projects was some bibs for Charlie: some in reversible flannel, some with a cozy chenille backing. Thanks to Chickpea Sewing Studio for the pattern:

I have also sewn initial ornaments for each of the boys for a stocking stuffer.

Finally, I knit stockings for each of us, stamped our names on canvas and sewed on the name tags. Some of us got special finishing touches. I call this one, "Death Takes a Holiday." Ellis worries that Santa will not fill Nate's stocking because he will think that it's a Halloween decoration. I assure him that Santa is familiar with teenagers.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

What Does Snow Taste Like?

"Wish water. You make a wish and then you eat the snow and your wish falls from the sky."

-Ellis, age 5

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December Morning

The failure of the Civic to start on yesterday's below zero morning had to do with more than a dead battery. While the mechanics tried to figure out today what is wrong with the old car's electrical system, I took the bus to work. The temperatures climbed slightly above zero and the sun was shining for the first time in days. The golden glow of the sun sitting low on the horizon and the crisp wet air sublimating off the snow inspired me to grab my camera and make the most of my day sans auto.

Today reminded me that until about seven years ago, I didn't own a car. Life where your major means of trasportation are bus and your own two feet causes you to know your surroundings in an entirely different way than when you are driving. You have a more intimate understanding of your environment on a micro level. The city, once a ribbon of highways, becomes a collection of small details.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Ellis pretty much speaks a running monologue regarding his activities for the day. Because it is so continual, I often half-heartedly pay attention to what he is saying. His words fade into the background of our house like ambient noise. Sometimes I am surprised by little things he has done to our house.

This morning, I found these little pictures marking each of the doors to the downstairs rooms. The top one marks my office, which he likes to call my sewing room. The bottom pictures show the way to the bathroom and to the parental bedroom across the hall. Seeing these, I vaguely remember him talking this weekend about signs showing the way to places. I loved stumbling upon this window into how his mind works.

I hope that when he is grown and has moved out, I will continue to find traces that he has left throughout the house.

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December Sky

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Thursday, December 4, 2008


Now that Ellis has reached school-age I am starting to have strong memories of things that I really enjoyed during my childhood. I had forgotten that I enjoyed anything about it as I had taken to assessing it with adult eyes through the lens of all my baggage. Looking at it through my child's eyes, however, I am once again excited by the simplest things. Ellis and I made this construction paper chain to count down the days until Christmas. I made the rings and stapled them, he wrote the date on each ring, as well as an E for Christmas Eve and a crown for Christmas Day. The black ring in the picture is my creative contribution. It marks the winter solstice.
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving, Part II

End of November and its chalky colors fading into sleep, into dark, into December.
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Thanksgiving, Part I

I was thankful for the easy rhythm of cooking dinner with Josh, placecards made by Ellis, Charlie enjoying mashed sweet potatoes, and Nate's offers of help.
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