The Sweater That Keeps On Giving: Knitting As A Parenting Tool

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Hello there!  Good Sunday evening.  How has 2015 been for you so far?
I am amazed that I have kept this #YourTurnChallange of posting on this blog 7 days in a row.  It had been in unexpectedly exhilarating week to be able to stick to a promise to myself and following through with this challenge.

Today I want to share with you one of my favourite activity and to me it is also an amazing parenting tool: knitting.

My earliest and fondest memory on knitting was from my kindergarden friend’s mother.  She was a ferocious and prolific knitter.  She would knit a whole kids sized sweater in a day.  My favourite thing to do when I go to play at their house was to sit next to her and just watch her hands and needles go.  I loved and cherished every sweater she made for me and I always felt sad whenever I got too big for them.

Not until after I became a mother, I learned to look at knitting as something outside than just a craft, that it is more than just something to do for grannies and people who have extra time to have a hobby.   Knitting now has become a nurturing and healing activity. I never realize that something seem so trivial can be so powerful.

HOW DO YOU HAVE TIME TO KNIT WHEN YOU ARE TAKING CARE OF YOUNG CHILDREN?

I know right?

After I woke up to the fact that children (as young as from birth) do not need to be “entertained”, I took to knitting as my way to have a little time to sit down in between changing diapers, cleaning the house, manage everyday household chores, feeding and putting the little ones to bed etc.

But mostly I love knitting because actually has these amazing qualities:

1.  To show (especially the in the fast paced first world) that some things are made by hand.
2.  To illustrate that whatever the end result may be, it takes time.
3.  To demonstrate perseverance.
4.  To instill virtues like patience and delayed gratification.
5.  An opportunity to show children that joy is in the process, in the doing of.
6.  And if you are knitting something for your kids, they will feel loved, valued and cherished in ways that buying them a toy can never convey.

KNITTING AND TANTRUMS GO HAND IN HAND

I must say I have knitting to thank during many episodes of toddler tantrums.  It depends on the need of my boys (whether they need to be held or not), when they are expressing their huge feelings, I often sit down beside them and would start knitting.  Instead of trying to talk to them or ask them a ton of questions,  I just keep steady, grounded, knit and wait patiently until they have let it all out.  I would remember to breathe deeply during these episodes while knitting and send out a kind, loving and gentle energies towards the whirlwind beside me.  Knitting would help me stay strong, focus and anchored for my children, which is the what they truly need when they are in despair or confusion.

THE SWEATER THAT KEEPS ON GIVINGIMG_5130

With all that being said, I have this one sweater that I have been knitting over and over again that I want to share with you today.  It is a classic raglan top-down sweater, pattern designed by a wonderful Canadian designer Jane Richmond.  To me it is great for both girl or boy.

This had been the sweater that both my boys have worn day in and day out, in all four seasons (I always use the same wool yarn) in the past 3 years.  When it comes to dressing, especially with children, I like to keep things simple and options minimal.  So both boys have only a few pairs of pants each, a couple of basic wool under layers and 4-5 plain-jane short and long-sleeved T shirts for the rest of the year.

This sweater goes on top of every outfit and we layer up/down with winter jackets, vests, hats and or scarfs according to the seasons.  This pattern is so easy to follow,  it is so rewarding for our whole family.

If you are looking for something more than a scarf or hat, maybe you can try this sweater on for size?

Have a great week.  Until next post.

Much love and warmth,
Grace

 

Finding Our Own Special Tooth Fairy

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LOOSING OUR FIRST TOOTH

Leland, our 5.5 year old boy woke me up in the wee early morning hour last Saturday with a tooth in his hand.

I was in a bit of a shock for it was only a couple of weeks ago that he mentioned a tooth was loose. Both my husband and I were in a bit of denial at the time for we both lost our first tooth much later – more closer to 7 years old.  I thought I had some time before I needed to figure out what to do with this part of our parenting journey.

I was not prepared. I did not grow up with a tooth fairy.  It was not the Chinese way.  At least it was not in my family.  We did not have much folklore and magic around these things.   We had bible stories and a few Chinese telling tales behind some of the traditional festivals.  Most of the time it was told in a very pragmatic linear fashion.

Now it is my turn to decide how my children experience these significant childhood milestones.  For both my husband and I, we feel that loosing one’s milk teeth, especially your first one is exceptionally important.   It should be celebrated in a way that is magical.  We wanted to create a tradition that all of us will look back with fondness.

We did not want our tooth fairy to give money.  We wanted something that magical and poetic, something that is also fun with an element of surprise for the whole family to enjoy together.

Since I could not  improvise from my own childhood experience, I gently took his little tooth and said I will look after it until bedtime.  After breakfast, my husband took both boys out and left me with the rest of the day to figure this out.  So here is a rundown of how it all came together:

SEARCHING FOR OUR SPECIAL TOOTH FAIRY

First, I sent out an “Calling Emergency Tooth Fairy Help!” email out to the wonderful Waldorf Homelearners email group to solicit advice from more like-minded parents for help.

Then I searched for: “Waldorf tooth fairy stories”.  After a few quick website hops around, I came across a beautiful poem about a Tooth Fairy that I felt we all would resonate with.  It is a poem about how the tooth fairy takes the child’s tooth to a Gnome in which he turns it into a crystal.

Here it is (my apologies for not being able to find the original author or this poem). If you know who the author is please let me know!  I also have attached HERE a PDF version for you to download and print out (for your own personal use only of course).

” This night it is a special night
As fairies dance upon the roof.
All the fairies must alight,
For _______ just lost a tooth!

The Fairy Queen gives her commands-
Twelve bright fairies must join hands
Then together in a circle stands
To guard _____ while s/he sleeps.

The Tooth Fairy into the circle leaps
The hidden tooth she takes
Ah, but has far to go
Before ______ awakes.

Three times around the world she flies
Over valleys deep and mountains high;
Skirts the storm clouds thick with thunder,
Wings over waves all wild with wonder.

Deep within their earthly homes
Finally she finds the gnomes,
Who upon the tooth must work
Never once their duty shirk.

Some are hammering, hammering, hammering,
Some the bellows blow
Others sweat at the sweltering forge
And then cry out, “Heigh Ho!”

The tooth’s been turned to a shining stone,
A glimmering, glowing gem
The tooth Fairy takes the gnomes’ good gift,
And bows (curtsies) to all of them.
Before the sun’s first rays are shown,
She returns to _____’s bed,
And then – – – away she’s flown!”

DOWNLOAD PDF PRINT-READY OF THIS POEM >

 

GATHERING THE DETAILS

I looked up the closest gemstone shop and off I went.  Luckily, it turned out to be a large establishment filled with a plethora of all things gems and stones related.   Where do I begin?   I asked the clerk to see if there are any animal stones.  Yes, she said and lead me to this little bin full of tiny little stone animal pendants.  Jackpot!  And I started to dig in.

In a sea of little stone creatures, a beautiful Plume Jasper Dolphin surfaced and I knew it was the one for his favourite stuffy is a dolphine. I also inquired about  what stone is a symbol for this time of year.  A Carnelian is what she said.  I looked up the meaning/representation of it: courage.  Oh how appropriate for this occasion!

The Carnelian and the Plume Jasper Dolphin

The Carnelian and the Plume Jasper Dolphin

I had no idea of what I was going to do with these two pieces of gemstones, but I knew I will figure it out.

As bedtime story hour rolled around, I had made a small orange pillow out of recycled orange wool felt and teeny felt pocket to hold his little tooth in, and the poem ready to present to him.

Tooth Fair Pillow made with recycled wool felt.

Tooth Fair Pillow made with recycled wool felt.

He loved every little detail and went to sleep with the deepest kind of ernest anticipation only a little boy can have.

After our boys went to sleep, my husband and I were giddy preparing for our family’s tooth fairy “offerings”.  We decided that since it is his very first tooth, we will mark it with a special memento for the occasion.  He is going to get both the Carnelian stone and the Plume Jasper Dolphin pendant.  One is going to be from the Gnome and one is going to be from the tooth fairy.

We each wrote out a little note, one “from Gnome” about how he had turned his little tooth into a Carnelian and that it is also a symbol for courage, and the other note “from Tooth Fairy” on marking the significance of this first tooth.

We wrapped each one with a leaf and slipped it into the pocket of his tooth pillow.  I went to sleep that night relieved to have found our family’s special tooth fairy.  Now we can really have fun with helping both our boys build a special Teeth Crystal Collection that they can enjoy.

 

the Plume Jasper Dolphin pendant on a red hemp rope.

the Plume Jasper Dolphin pendant on a red hemp rope.

the two mementos for our boy's first tooth

the two mementos for our boy’s first tooth

 

It is such a great feeling to know that we can help carve out some of the childhood magic for our little boys and that the four of us will grow up having the same memories for these special occasions.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER – A SUMMARY

Here a quick recap of the components to create our tooth fairy, in case you may want to create something similar for your family:

1. Find a special little rock crystal (s) from your lock gem shop.  They are usually under $2 for such small size.  Note:  I would start finding them NOW if your kids have yet to loose their teeth.  You never know when they fall out on you.

2.  Sew up a simple pillow, I made Leland’s out of recycled wool felt and a little remnant piece of cotton print fabric, and wool stuffing.

3. I took a piece of wool cutout, folded up the sides and sewed it together to make a little pouch for the actual tooth.  I took the pouch and wrote the date on it and stored it in a little box in my own special secret cupboard.

4. A leaf from the garden for wrapping – no need for paper or tape!

5. Some hemp string for tying.

What was your tooth fairy like?  Did you come up with something different from your childhood?   I’d love to hear your story for I am so curious to know how others celebrate their children’s teeth.

Until next time.

Much warmth,
Grace

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Storytelling While Knitting

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A sincere spring and Easter greeting from our home to yours.

Here is a photo of these Robin’s Eggs I’ve been knitting in the last few weeks.  I call this my lunch time storytelling project.  Since I would usually finish my portion of the meal sooner than my boys, I would pull out the small little size 2 double pointed needles and a leftover ball of sock yarn and would start knitting this simple little pattern.

As I knit, the boys would ask me questions that would prompt a story about spring, birds, eggs (in this case), my childhood, stories about their grandparents, their friends, and much more.  These little eggs are so fast to finish, it is a nice way for them to see me start and finish a project before them.  They would sometimes count how many I’ve made so far and would decide which one of their friends we should give these eggs to as little spring presents.

I find that these little mama craft projects are a great teaching tool for little ones.  It had always lead to great conversations and storytelling opportunities.

Here is the pattern that I have found from one of my favourite crafting resource The Purl Bee.

Enjoy the week!

Much warmth,
Grace