Category Archives: waldorf toys

Travel Update

Well, the great American Anthrofamily trek is well underway. By the grace of God.

Of course, the final packing and truck loading went as well as can be expected. Which is to say, like hell. Our wonderful next-door neighbor (who happens to be moving into our vacated house) was kind enough to help load the truck for several hours on Saturday and Sunday. But the process of packing, loading, and cleaning has reminded me of some moving wisdom.

THE FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER SAY TO YOURSELF WHILE MOVING HOUSE:

  1. Sure, that will be enough boxes/packing tape/garbage bags/room in the truck.
  2. We’re almost done packing! Let’s take a break.
  3. This should only take a few hours to finish up.
  4. I’ll just quickly dust/vacuum/sweep/mop/scrub the kitchen/bathroom/floors/top of the refrigerator. It will only take a minute.
  5. All that miscellaneous crap still unpacked and strewn about the house? I can just sweep it all into a box in no time.

So, things ran overtime. We planned on finishing up loading the truck and cleaning the house on Saturday and hitting the road early Sunday morning. Ha! We didn’t get on the highway until about 1 pm Sunday.

But, that said, the trip so far has been pretty smooth. (Knock wood. Oh, I’m in a cheap motel surrounded by plastic wood-like veneer. Guess I just jinxed us completely.)

Even though we have been driving each day for 8 hours or more, the kids have been really quite good. Barring today’s tantrums, of course–there are limits to how well a four-year-old can act in a situation like this! What in particular has saved our sanity? Two things have been most popular: the anthro-approved Stockmar modeling beeswax, and those awful, yet we’ll make an exception for cross-country peace Color Wonder pens and coloring books. Tomorrow I’m busting out the potholder loom for SillyBilly. Ya gotta hold things in reserve, you see.

And how are the cats, you ask? How are they, being cooped up in little plastic carriers all day in the noisy back of the minivan, and then dumped into strange motel rooms each night?

By God, they are FINE! And why, you ask? I have two words for you, oh my bloggie friends:

Valerian and Feliway.

We ordered a huge bag of catnip, a smaller bag of valerian, and a can of hormone spray. The two herbs were put in small amounts into old socks tied with knots at each ends–we call them “happy socks”. Evidently valerian calms cats right down, as it does humans.

Feliway was new to us–it’s a spray used either for stressful situations or for curbing unwanted urine spraying. It’s got “analogue of feline facial pheromones” (say that five times fast!) which makes the cat think that where he is is just groovy.

Between the herbs and the hormones, our cats are completely mellow. They cry about five times right after we put them in the car, and they hide under the motel room beds when we first arrive, but otherwise they are completely normal. Contrasted with the time we drove these two plus another cat from Los Angeles to Sacramento–a chorus of kitty yowling for 7 hours straight!

Well, I have a few photos that will go up in a future post. We’ve driven through five states, crossed the Mississippi River, and seen way too many corn fields and freight trucks to count. Tonight we’re in Iowa, tomorrow we’ll be in Nebraska, and after a fun-filled day through Wyoming, we’ll finally be in Idaho, our new home.

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Filed under Family, life, Napoleona, Parenting, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly, travel, waldorf toys

Random craftiness

I’m still pondering my “SCA, part 2” post, so in the meantime I’ll share the following with you after uploading 95 photos off my camera:

Napoleona dressed herself as a little old woman the other day. Note the kerchief, and the block used as a cane.

She regularly dresses in this exact ensemble to play. Here she is doing a fairy dance.

SillyBilly and Anthropapa made this propeller contraption from an experiment described in a book about aircraft that they bought at the National Air and Space Museum. They took it outside and strung it up between two trees–it really flew fast!

We’ve tried to incorporate more items from nature in our toy stash. We brought in some larger rocks and bits of bark from the forest, which Napoleona used here to make a bridge over the river. The blue gnome is sailing on a little boat and will soon dock at the stony path leading toward his house.

Here’s Napoleona creating a “puppet play”. She does these almost every day, now that we brought in those forest items. Here she has made a house to the right, with a lovely yellow rug. And of course, the adjacent farm.

Last week the kids and I made these little people, posed here with a mama/grandma table puppet I made when SillyBilly was a very little baby. The kids helped sew up the green felt bodies and stuff them with wool, and they helped make the head shapes out of carded wool. When they weren’t looking, I needle-felted the hair on. Somehow, without us trying to, we made them resemble the kids themselves…down to the boy being taller and thinner and the girl being shorter and rounder!

I made bread today. Thanks to SusieJ’s review of the great book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day! I finally made it to the #1 spot in holds on this book at the library. I’ve always wanted to make sourdough starter and work with that, but so far it has eluded me. This method has worked great so far, and was as easy as they said it would be. I don’t have a baking stone, but it still came out OK. Next time I’ll be more careful of my oven temperature so that the crust gets truly brown, and I’d like to try the “healthier” recipes, since this was pretty much straight white bread. But, there is only one tiny chunk left–we devoured it for dinner!

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Filed under Crafting, freelancing, Parenting, play, Silliness and Mayhem, waldorf toys

Hospitals and Castles

No big news on the hearing aid front. We saw the ENT today (first time in the Bronx, woo hoo!) at the lovely Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. It’s only 7 years old (the hospital, not the ENT or the Bronx), and features some amazing art and science installations, including a huge Foucault’s pendulum and a huge sealed ecosphere in the main lobby.

We didn’t learn much of anything new today, except to confirm that hearing aids would help SillyBilly. The ENT pointed out that where his loss falls (from normal 10 dB in the 250-1500 Hz range, down to 40 dB at 2000 Hz and 60-65 dB above 3000 Hz, because I know you wanted the numbers) should allow him to hear normal speech fairly well. Men’s voices would be more clear than women’s, and certain high-pitched sounds (fricatives, because I know you wanted the technical term) like s, z, or f might not sound clear to him.

So, the next thing is to do our 2007 taxes so we can confirm that we can get help paying for hearing aids. Since they can range from $500 to $3500 each (and we’ll need two), we’re crossing our fingers. Looks good on that front, though.

We also have an appointment scheduled for April to rule out a genetic etiology (you like my expert use of medical lingo?), but since SillyBilly shows no signs of having one of the more common genetic syndromes, I’m not too concerned.

Anyhoo, on a lighter note I thought I would share SillyBilly’s current obsession: castles. And medieval siege weapons.

One day he announced that he had made a trebuchet, shown above. After clarifying that this would have been, technically, a catapult (a trebuchet has a counterweight, of course!), we went on to making bigger and better siege engines together.

Somehow, perhaps as a relic of my old SCA days, one day I was explaining how in the Middle Ages, a besieging army would sometimes heave a dead horse or cow into the castle to infect the people inside, and thus render them incapable of defending the castle. Now that I do a little bit of online research, I see that I was conflating the use of dead human corpses and certain other references.

Here’s SillyBilly launching a lamb into a castle occupied by gnomes and a firefighter innocently enjoying some tea.

The gnomes look on in shock at the carnage and devastation.

Yesterday SillyBilly presented me with this drawing, a castle with two knights on horseback. He proudly pointed out the portcullis and arrow slits. Please also note the stirrups and swords the knights are carrying. The boy has an eye for detail. And please note the spare lines and assertive use of space … oh, wait, this isn’t an art appreciation course, I’m just a bragging mama.

A few days ago he created this puppet play, all about some gnomes who were being harassed by a mean dragon who lived nearby in a cave. I think the various forest animals helped the gnomes steal the dragon’s treasure, but the story was a little convoluted so I’m not sure. This one has an invisible castle…can’t you see it?

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Filed under art, Hearing loss, play, waldorf toys

Details on the Knitted Farm Play Rug

Since there were some questions about the play rug I made for my kids, I thought I would go into a little more detail in a separate post.

I lucked into a copy of Jan Messent’s Knit a Fantasy Story last year at a rummage sale. Since then I’ve seen these farm rugs in Waldorf blogs and other websites. I used the general concept from the book, with my own changes (because I seem to be unable to follow a pattern of any kind and must make half of it up as I go along). I didn’t use a pattern, but simply took the general idea from the book and drew freeform shapes on the canvas.

The base of the rug is latch hook canvas. I did a little latch hooking (the yellow “wheat” at the top left and the bluish bushes at bottom right), but that became overly time-consuming, so I switched to embroidery/needlepoint (not sure what to call it really since it’s such a mashup) and crochet. I gauged the size of the crocheted areas by eye, and sewed the completed shapes onto the canvas.

The pond and the dark brown “pigsty” at the upper left are pieces of felt sewn onto the canvas base. Actually SillyBilly sewed on the brown felt himself! (This was a gift for the kids, but not really a surprise gift. Over the last year, every once in a while he would remember it and ask me when I was going to finish.) The stream is embroidered yarn, and the tiny brown turtle island in the pond is a small crocheted disk.

I made the vegetable garden with freeform crocheted “cabbages” and “leeks, lettuce, and celery” made from bits of ribbon sewn on in strips or loops. In a similar freeform manner, I crocheted the little berry bush by the pond with green yarn, and then knotted on red yarn for berries.

The big gray and white area on the lower left is supposed to be a cobblestone farmyard. I haven’t gotten around to making any farm buildings yet like the ones in the book.

After I completed the scene I bound the whole thing with rug binding, and sewed a piece of lightweight denim onto the back. I then embroidered “For D + R By Mama 2007” on the back. (D + R being code for SillyBilly and Napoleona, of course.)

I have an idea for making trees, which is the main thing I think this lacks. (You might be able to see the side of a wooden evergreen tree at the upper right, surrounded by wooden forest animals.) The idea given in the book for using a toilet paper roll insert and a pompom top to make a tree just sounds too flimsy and top heavy.

Amazingly, now that it’s done it seems too small, even though it seemed enormous while I was making it. Maybe we just have too many animal figures! But the kids really seem to like it, and I’m glad they’re playing with their animals again after they went out of favor for so long.

Of course, what I really want to do is make the knitted castle on the cover of the book! But I have the feeling that’s a very long term goal. I’m a much slower knitter than crocheter, and it seems like knitting would be better for the smooth castle walls.

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Filed under Crafting, waldorf toys

What I’m doing instead of wrapping presents…

I found a link to these incredible Goddess dolls on Strollerderby. I’ve never seen something so original in “Waldorf” style toys.

Whoever can make a cool little doll out of Kali (complete with skull necklace), Tethys (with tentacles and cowries) or Boudicca (torc, woad and all) is simply awesome.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the Waldorf world is a bit stuck in convention and dogma (another future post), so it’s refreshing to see someone branching out a bit.

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Filed under holidays, waldorf toys