Saturday, April 25, 2009

Art's birthday sewing

I finished Naomi's garland the night before her birthday, April 25th. I left it in the mailbox and David hung it in their kitchen while she was asleep. I now have Art's to finish. The children love to sew with felt but I've never had them work with fabric. Eli found cutting with the pinking shears fun. Eva picked up scissors and started creating with left-over fabric. She cut out shapes and sewed them together to make a house. She wanted to give them to Art for his birthday. I suggested we could sew it on to a pillow, knowing good and well I'd never have a chance to make a pillow before his birthday. We decided to pin it to another pillow we owned until I could get around to her project. She was pleased with it. I ended up helping her trace a sun she wanted and cutting the cloud for her applique project.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Projects brewing

With the children back to school, I've visited the fabric store, made lists of a couple of projects. The garland project is not over. I'm making one for Naomi's, Art's, and Suzy's birthdays. I build on the fabrics I already have but have broken out and purchased some new ones. I used to work on projects when Eva + Eli are in bed but now I find they are interested in what I'm doing and I can give them work while I'm busy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

summer2008 424

summer2008 424
Originally uploaded by janhammock
I was not sure Kara has seen this one yet?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bunny Altar

As mentioned in an earlier post, there was Easter fever around here for a while. As we neared the big day, it ramped up a bit. The children had out their baskets for two weeks prior. When I woke up on the eve of Easter the children, mostly Eva, had made an altar of sorts on the fireplace hearth. They laid our two colors of silk, placed their baskets on the silk, made a little vignette of bunnies and the piece de resistance was the carrot, which became two later, dangling down, held in place by raffia, oh yes and the china tea cup of water for the bunny. What have I done to this girl - making her so crazy about holidays?

Monday, April 20, 2009


Easter officially began at 1:30 a.m. when Art came out to find Eva gazing at her basket from the Easter Bunny. After being shooed back to bed, she and Eli were still up while the moon was bright in the sky. Art and I tried to sleep-in but they were making such a racket in their room, I had to get up an hush them. I discovered them sitting on their beds behind their baskets, mouths tainted with chocolate. Eli more guilty than Eva. I let Art sleep in a bit - which is not what usually happens around here (thanks Art). I got so tired reading them stories I returned to bed. I was able to get back to a deep sleep when I dreamed that Eli was sitting on top of me talking to me, I woke with a start and jumped when I heard them outside in the yard, in the dark. Of course, I did this on top of Art as I was still completely asleep when I started to move. I went out the window to find the children running around the yard finding the eggs that Art and hid, (in our bathrobes as we were already in bed when we remembered we'd neglected some of our bunny duties.)

The rest of the morning was about trying to get some nutrition in to and clothes on the bodies. We made it to the end of the pancake breakfast at church, ate more candy, attended service, ate more candy and then hosted the egg hunt which provided more opportunities for candy. Anyone reading this that knows how strict I am about sugar may be reading this in disbelief. I decided that they could, pretty much with in reason, just go for it. Eva seemed a little more tempered with her intake of sugar. On the other hand, Eli's hands were in constant motion unwrapping, keeping pace with his mouth chewing, his movements were jerky and his eyes were bulged a bit and set towards outer space. By the end of day, some loud romping and some sibling fighting, they were ready for bed. Eli finally could not find something important to his sleep, and I can not for the life of me remember what it was, to the point he was walking around the house screaming/crying for over 30 minutes. We sent him to bed unconsoled but finally were victorious in what ever that item was....

The next day, Art came home to be with them as I could not bear for them to be near the candy at the Senior Center. They asked for candy all day and I caught Eli sneaking some here and there. As Eva was more rational with her request, pleading, "but I really do want some candy today mommy, we've had no treats today." I gave her a sympathetic hug and let her know the first day after so much candy is the hardest, every day it will get easier....and it has.

Easter photos cont

Sunday, April 19, 2009


We got our first fava beans of the season. I learned last year how much work they were when for the month they'd come in our CSA box. This year our CSA farm had an insect infestation so they had to turn-under their crop. With this news I took care to use ours judiciously. I took the beans out of the pod, blanched the shells and pealed them. I'd made a tasty lentil soup and just added the blanched beans to the top. They gave a peppery bite to the soup.

After this I found out while working at the garden with Eva, that fava leaves are quite tasty. Amy, the gardening coordinator, had read an review of a Chronicle food critic of going to a fancy restaurant and having a delicious salad that included the leaves. We'd planted the beans in a mix as a cover-crop, harvested the beans and were ready to cut and turn-under the green stems in to the ground. At this news there were a bunch of kindergarteners gathered around the plants nibbling on the leaves - a lot less work then the beans!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

birthday garland

I can now write this post because the recipient of the gifts have now both gotten them. After Sameer's, Neema + Tim's guy, had his first birthday, I got photos of a garland Neema made for the celebration. I was in awe and inspired. It took me a while to act on the inspiration but in February I worked on a small garland for Valentine's Day. I did not follow the plan of using the invisible thread and sewed the pieces on to a cotton band - too big. Plus I had made the velvet hearts way to big they became floppy.

I received my birthday gift from Kara - once again, a fabulous - homemade marshmellows and slippers. I've been in no condition to make any thing for anyone the last few years but I was now inspired to make a small garland for Kara/Andrew and the Simpson/Bonney clan. It was so much fun going to Discount Fabric, choosing colors, patterns that did not clash in the very least. I cut out all of the pieces and layed them out on cookie sheets. The fun began when I laid out the patterns on the newly purchased cutting board. I only had 4 patterns to choose from (would chose at least one more next time if not two) so it was fun to make a rhythem. As I worked I decided each group would receive 7 rows of pattern. The sewing took no time at all. I did this at home during they day while the children were at school. It felt so indulgent to sew during the day. It was my own little guilty pleasure.

Once finished I rolled the garland around a board to keep them straight. Of course I could not find my address book for two more weeks but they did indeed get their gifts - K/A's 2 months late and S/B 2 months early.


This past November, around his birthday, Eli announced he was no longer Eli his name was Pinecone. I regarded his request like any parent would regard child's play, calling him Pinecone for the day. I did notice that Eva was very respectful calling and referring to or tattling on him for weeks with his nom de guerre: Pinecone. One day E + E had a little bit of a cold but they really wanted to go to school on hiking day. I agreed they could go but would pick them up early in the Presidio. I parked just inside of the Presidio Gate and walked through the forest and found them eating lunch at Julias Kahn Playground. I walked with the troops back up to where our car was parked. As the class marched onward, there were little voices calling out, "Bye Pinecone, bye Pinecone." The teacher looked at me and said, "You know he changed his name to Pinecone?" Even his teacher Dagmar humored him a few days. Victoria, her assistant to this day calls him Pinecone.

I told Art this news, he was sitting with Eli and asked him if his name was really Pinecone. Eli replied affirmative. Art delved in further asking, "well don't you have two names like Pinecone Elias or Pinecone Branch?" Eli responded, "Yes, I have two names PINECONE BENDER."

It's been almost 6 months and I still have better results when commanding my son if I call him by his chosen name.

Favorite moments of being off school

I think I liked having breakfast and tea together in the morning like old times. We used do this every morning as a family or at least E + E + me. Now that we have to leave so early in the morning for school I can never sit down with the family. I'm pacing around the kitchen putting lunched in to baskets, cleaning up breakfast dishes, gathering rain gear for the day...

Sey Sey gave Eva some of her very own honey for Christmas. Eli protested so I got him his own jar. It can be a complete pain when we are in a rush to get out the door but during the holiday I'd bring out all the individual jars, including my own honey that Neema and Tim gave with with espresso, we'd sit around slathering honey on our toast, easting delicious oranges from our CSA box and chatting the morning away.

Spring Break

We're just at the end of a two week break and I can honestly say that aside from going to Sea Ranch for two nights we did not do much. The children would probably disagree, they loved being at home, eating breakfast at Boogalooz, many playdates with Leon, a few with India and basically loads of free time to just be and do what ever they wish.

One of my favorite days was when I crashed a party hosted by and for parents from the Waldorf nursery program. I spoke with Susan in the morning she said she was going to Jillian's. I then spoke with Julianna and she said she invited herself and encouraged me to do the same. I called Jillian and she was excited about our wanting to make the trek to Mill Valley.

We packed in to the car, stopped by Destination Baking Company to get a dozen hot-cross buns and made our way to Jillian, Troy, Zeb, Cole and Violet's magical house on the hill. This family got out of the city as Cole longed for space, renting this lovely home that was perfectly suited for a crafting day with mama's and kids.

Everyone brought great food and there were eggs to be died with tissue paper and Nora came with a box full of pipe-cleaners, fake flowers and raffia. Eli ran around with Henry, Eva hunkered down and made two beautiful baskets, I drank coffee (which I'm currently off of) and proceeded to pace and talk too much. It was a perfectly fun day.

We made it back to the city in time to get ready for Passover at Naomi, David, Leon, Marcel's home. It was fun sitting around the table with 20 people going through the text, mostly in Hebrew with parts in English and many rowdy songs. The children were a little wild in the beginning waiting for supper. Eva, Eli and Leon ganged-up on a few of the other children especially little Theo. If I had to tell them one more time to let Theo join them on the bunk bed.....anyway, once it all began E + E was so good. They sat and listened and answered all the questions. Later, Tawney and Ann Paige from MWC stopped by. They walked in as we were enjoying dessert and just in time for a round Arak (anise flavored liquor). After 30 minutes I went back and checked on the children and Eli was no where to be found. I started to get a little worried when I called and called his name with no response. I went in to the dining room to find him slouched down on the sofa (which was pulled up to the table) eating piece after piece of mazta brittle. He'd been there for a long time....He was thrilled and could not stop talking about how good it was and quite proud of himself for staying under the radar for so long. I left at 8:45. Evidently Art stayed until Eva, my late bird, said she was tired and wanted to go home.

The children were fine the next day, much to my surprise but boy oh boy the following day was unbelievable. Eli cried all day, Eva was mean as a snake!

Getting Ready for Easter

The count down for Easter started three months prior to the event. I do not know if the children are influenced by our routine attendance at church or if they are so starved for sugar they know this is one of the few free-for-all days allowed. Anyway, most nights before bed I'd get, " how many days to Easter?" It started out as months and half months. By the time we got to weeks, Eva was concerned our house was not properly decorated for the holiday. So the Friday before Spring Break I went to the florist and got, for free Im proud to say, a lovely quince branch that was at the end of its flowering. I decorated it with eggs, put the proper amount of chicks in nooks and on mantles, voila Easter. The children arrived home with their own little baskets that had the grass they grew, eggs painted and hung on the handle.

Some time that next week our yearly package from Esperanza, Diana's mother arrives. In it was Eva's beautiful Easter dress and stuffed animal. Much to Eli's chagrin all he got this year was a t-shirt and shorts. This sent him in to a fit. You know my boy has style and he needs to express himself too! So I told him I'd ordered him some seersucker pants. He lit up and asked if we still had the sailor suit from Quinn. He ran back and got it - I had it laid out to send back to Sydney, as it is only a size 4. Last year when I borrowed it for Uncle Allen's wedding (photo of Eli at the wedding), I had to talk him in to wearing it and as I recall there may have been a bribe included - oh yes, two pieces of wedding cake if he wore it. He struck the bargain that he'd wear it but not the coat or hat. Fine, we had a deal. Well this 5 year old was in love with this suit. He put the entire outfit on and declared his love. Needless to say the suit JUST fit him thanks to the extensions Sydney had sewed on the straps. The pant are a little too short, his fat cute legs stuck out of the bottom and the coat - JUST buttoned. All the same this is one proud little guy. He asked if he could keep it forever. I told him that we'd have to give it back by the time he's 20. He seemed happy with this. Our friend India came over for a playdate and Eli had to run and put on his suit for her. She seemed uninterested but Eli was all smiles. Alas we were ready for Easter.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Springs for Spring Break

A month before we had our break from school, I arrived to pick the children up from school after hiking day. Dagmar looked a bit chagrined as she handed me a bag of we clothes. She admitted the children got very wet at the "springs." In turn I looked over and saw Eva BEAMING with joy from her experience. As the day went on, I find out that Eva basically sat down in the water and all the children followed. She confessed that Dagmar at first tried to stop them but alas she let them. Eli on the other hand was regaling me with stories of the cement pile. It really made no sense to me but I enjoyed his enthusiasm.

A few Saturday's later, after I'd had a long run I was pleased as pie to go in search of the Springs in the Presidio. The children told us where to park, showed us where to walk. It turns out it was a place we'd been to many times before. I curled up like a cat in the sun and took a nap while the children carried cement from a pile over to the water and formed smooth balls and set them to dry.

This spot became a site for Naomi, Leon, Marcel, E + E and I spent the first day of our break. We were there for 4 hours. It was perfect. Naomi, Marcel and I just relaxed under the tree while our busy bees worked diligently at their tasks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trading going on

The new thing with E + E is that they do a lot of trading. There is an imbalance that I'm not comfortable with, also being the youngest child in my family. For instance, today I went to pick up the room, after the children took their turn at "cleaning" . Eva had Eli's big treasure trunk moved near the book shelf. I asked her why Eli's box was there. She explained that they'd traded. He got a coconut shell from last summer from the Costco frozen desserts Syd/Sean brought to North Garden, plus some gravel that was excavated from Shu Shu's driveway. She also said that she got all the treasures inside the box and that Eli has relinquished his rights to the books and they were now her library. It is difficult for me not to step in and defend Eli but I bit my tongue...


Now Eva's big transformation began last May 10, 2008 when she lost one of her teeth. It was the typical long approach to the big day. She claimed her tooth was loose the previous November. The final stages of the tooth took weeks. It would twist, turn, bleed but those roots of hers were tough and not willing give this little tooth away without a fight. When she went to school on a Friday, we knew it would not be long. Only one other first year classmate lost a tooth at this point, Cyrus lost one the day before turning 5. The second years were loosing theirs on a daily basis, looking more like a boxing club than a kindergarten.

Art picked up Eli at the pink curtains a.k.a. nursery first and then walked up the hill to the grade school campus. When her got there, a crowd was gathered around a single child - it was Eva, the mood was full of excitement and joy. He arrived seconds after her first tooth lost the battle and came out. When he got close enough to see there was a proud little girl with a big bloody smile.

Our friends Helen, Joel, Isa and Felix came for dinner that night there was so much excitement over the tooth. I suggested several time placing it in a safe place. This would last a few minutes and then the tooth would be scooped up and admired by the children all over. Eventually it got lost. Eva was barely upset. She takes things in stride. With the help of Isa who can write, all the children made notes for the tooth fairy explaining what happened to the evidence of the tooth.

I made a little pink bag in my sewing class a few weeks before and gave it to Eva to put her tooth in. We decided she'd get a shiny quarter and a tooth I'd needle felt out of wool. It was exciting to go in to her room and place the little tooth and quarter in the bag. I took all the notes but accidentally left one behind much to the childrens' chagrin. Eva loved her prize. I wish I'd thought it out better because you never know when a child will loose a tooth and some nights she'd loose one just before bedtime as Art and I were heading out for the night. I've been up making wool teeth until midnight! Maybe we'll switch to a dollar soon and no Tooth!

Two days later, Eva lost the pink bag walking home from Gialina Pizza, somewhere on Chenery Street. Art drove back looking for it, to no avail. Once again Eva takes it all in stride. She's so great.

It's taken me a while to get used to her big teeth. She talks differently, she looks different and it has ushered in a big girl.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


It was a last month when Eli put his hand in mine walking down the side walk, as he does everyday several times, that I realized his new paw. I could always feel the difference in the children, though only 11 months apart, when I held their hands. Eva's hand has always been bigger. Her long, slender fingers always felt more substantial then Eli's. I remember making a note, maybe even in an earlier blog, when Eli started to loose the baby fat of his chubby little hand. Now his fingers are strong and the nails are so big - why would they all of a sudden grow like this? Eva's hands are now callused from her love of monkey bars and the addition of the trapeze in out doorway to the living room. I know they are little marks of how much they've grown the last few years but this is my most tangible record of measurement.

it has been too long

I'm going to give this a new try. I'm ready. I've jumped over to the other side of parenting. With Eli being 5 and Eva, 6 life is different. I'm back. What does this mean? It all has become easier - the children, the me, life with Art.

I observe my children from much farther away now. We are not always in each others space. There is a distance, a perspective that I was lacking for the last 6 years. I would not trade those years for the world. The blurring of my legs, hands, faces with those two was wonderful but it is easy to loose track of oneself along the way.

I'm enjoying a bit of creative energy that this new space has allowed. I'm hoping to document projects, how I go about my day and the movement of the childrens lives along side of me and us as a family.

Let's see how it goes.