Have I mentioned how much I love my daughter’s preschool? My son went there the second year it was open and graduated from the four-year-old class. Caroline was born shortly before that milestone, and has the distinction of being the first “preschool baby” who has gone on to be part of the school. Just a few short years ago, we brought her in at one week old for Darian to introduce proudly to all his schoolmates. The teachers held her and let the other children gently say hello, and now she’s well into being a happy member of the two-year-old class.
It’s a cheerful, loving, wonderful environment, and very easy to leave her there for a few hours in the morning while I go out and earn my keep! Another reason it’s special is that they make an effort to involve all of the families. We are so fortunate to live in a place with a great deal of diversity, and it’s all too easy to be “comfortable” just associating with people who speak our language. But how much one misses! Our preschool is helping to make a difference with tonight’s activity: a group of Spanish-speaking parents and a group of English-speaking parents are gathering late this afternoon to cook a meal together. Those of us who speak English will help the Spanish speakers learn a few more words in our language, and the Spanish speakers will help us brush up on our Spanish and teach us how to make a delicious meal that’s part of their culture. Next month, we’ll select a “typical American” menu and cook that together. Chances are, their American-raised children will want to try a few American dishes at home, and this will help them know how to shop and cook for American ingredients.
Cultures tend to get along better when we can sit down and eat together. There’s a good reason why so much diplomacy is conducted over state dinners: we’re more relaxed, receptive, sitting at the same level and enjoying a basic human ritual together courtesy of someone’s hospitality. I took one year of Spanish back in college (a social work major requirement) and only learned enough to truly confuse a native speaker, so it will be helpful to me to re-start my language knowledge. A lot of our neighbors here are from countries to the South; as I engage in my career, being able to communicate with more people is a very important skill. But more than anything, I look forward to forging warm new friendships over a delicious meal. Comer bien!
If you weren’t lucky enough to be caught in the epic snowstorm that blanketed DC, Virginia, and points north, here’s a really cool video that shows the snow getting deeper and deeper. My parents live up near DC and were amazed at the amounts. Some years they don’t get more than an inch or so, and every few decades, it’s like this. I had one year in secondary school where we had three snowstorms, expertly spaced, that kept us out of school for almost three weeks. Whee! Except it ruined summer; we were in school making it up until July, and for families that sent kids to summer camp, it was a real problem. That may happen for them this year, too. So if you’re not stuck in it, enjoy the video!
Back in October, when I wasn’t posting here, one of the events you missed was the Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk, NC. This little caterpillar fellow accurately predicts the harshness of the coming winter by the thickness of the black band he grows. Well, not only did he have a mostly black fuzziness, it *snowed* on his party! We trudged through a muddy country fair between the snowflakes, and didn’t stay as long as we might have because it was truly cold. The Woolly Worm didn’t lie…..this winter has been quite memorable.
Sorry to hear that as this weekend’s snow wasn’t enough, they’re expecting 4-6 more inches tomorrow. Ugh! Go away, Winter!
Grey, rainy, miserable weather day here; our neighbors 30 minutes to the north and beyond are having an epic snowstorm this weekend….so while I complain, I can’t really complain!
It’s perfect creative weather. I bought this fabric back in the Fall, intending to make a skirt out of it. Bright blue with multicolored embroidered hearts, the more I looked, the more I thought I wouldn’t be able to pull off this particular fabric. It’s very youthful, and while I’m hardly ancient, this fabric was just a wee bit too sweet for my wardrobe after all.
Fortunately, I have a two-year-old daughter! This was enough yardage to make a jumper, and I found an absolutely darling pattern:
Isn’t that cute? I made the center/bottom right view with the double flounce for the skirt. Caroline came along with me to the fabric store to choose lining and get a zipper, and she selected a bright yellow taffeta! The contrast with the blue is pretty, even if the fabric is not so very easy to sew. I love the functionality of linings, but joining heavy corduroy to slippery taffeta is a bit of a task.
Still putting in the zipper at the back, but you can see the lining fairly well. I made this a size bigger than her clothes right now; it’s a bit loose now and will hopefully be part of her Fall wardrobe later this year. I’m glad to have re-purposed some fabric, and I think I’ll definitely be making Caroline more dresses from this pattern!
This is where I sew. It’s part of the bedroom; my dedicated sewing room became my son’s room eight years ago and I had to reduce things down to fit into a cabinet. This folds up into a piece of furniture when not in use, and I have an ironing board that folds down from the closet door, there in the background. Having to put things away each time helps reduce my tendency to have too many things going at once!
The weekend promises more rain and perhaps a bit of snow. I have a skirt to make for work, which starts next week, and some more planning to do for the late Winter/Spring wardrobe. My creative time will be more precious as I devote hours to work, so I’m making the most of my time now. Have a wonderful weekend!
Every few years, I get re-mesmerized with the Mitfords. Not the Jan Karon novels; I’ve never read them, even though they take place in North Carolina. Not those Mitfords: these Mitfords.
Right now, I’m reading the former Duchess of Devonshire’s delightful The House, about Chatsworth, the country home she and her husband rescued from ruin and death duty taxes. She lived there nearly 50 years and devoted much of her life to restoring and preserving it for future generations of her venerable family to share with the always-curious public. It’s beauty on a grand and glorious scale: the roof alone is over an acre, and any attempt to describe it uses large numbers and words.
I first fell down the Mitford rabbit hole after I saw this photo in Slim Aarons’ book, Having a Wonderful Time:
Look at those eyes. I’d seen eyes that color only once before: Jessica Mitford, who wrote and lectured about “The American Way of Death,” which I read as a freshman in college. Her work intrigued me; how unusual that she was a Communist and a peer all at once! A connection? Yes, indeed: the mother of Desmond Guinness was her sister, Diana Mitford Guinness Mosley:
Generally thought to be the prettiest of the six Mitford sisters, she scandalously divorced the Irish brewery heir Bryan Guinness to eventually marry her true love, fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, to whom she was married until his death in the early 1980s. Diana died in 2003 in her mid-90s, unapologetic to the last about her involvement with fascism and the Nazi movement. A woman of conviction, quite literally, as she spent several of the war years as a political prisoner.
She is the grandmother of the two beautiful children above, and also of the inimitable Daphne Guinness, a contemporary of mine and a true style original. The resemblance between the two women is uncanny.
But I digress. One could spend a lifetime of reading to absorb everything about this extraordinary family. Right now, I’m reading about Chatsworth, formerly occupied by the youngest of the Mitford daughters, Deborah, during her decades as the Duchess of Devonshire. She surprised her contemporaries by being as eloquent and thorough a writer as her accomplished sisters, Nancy and Jessica.
Chatsworth is notable as well for another reason: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, used it as her country home in the eighteenth century. As with so many other members of this family, she was a style setter and political agitator in her time. Diana, Princess of Wales,was a several-times-great-niece of Georgiana, both of the Spencer family.
Many excellent books describe the history of this extraordinary family. If you’re at all intrigued, go here and here to get started, and prepare to be drawn into their world of beauty, intellect, politics, scandal, and tragedy. One of my life goals is to visit Chatsworth and spend time walking the halls and taking it all in!
School has been out since Friday, and the novelty of fallen snow wore off by Sunday afternoon. The roads were a wee bit slick yesterday and we got the call before dinner that school was out again. The children played and watched television yesterday while I cleaned and did laundry (during which time they would have normally been at their respective schools)…..so today, we had to do things a bit differently to avoid the boredom. The roads are mostly fine, but it was raining, and we were inside.
So we came up with Snow School. I’d never dream of insulting a homeschooling family by insinuating that we were trying to accomplish what they are doing, day in and day out, but in our own way, we had school at home today. What we learned about:
- The digestive system, all the organs from top to bottom.
- Beginning multiplication.
- Cursive handwriting, letters A and B, as I’m told this won’t be covered in school.
- Sent email to a child friend in Sweden asking why they don’t stay home for snow!
- The difference between a physical and political map
- The first five state capitals alphabetically: Montgomery, Juneau, Phoenix, Little Rock, and Sacramento.
- Finished Norton Juster’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth.
- Started Beverly Cleary’s Henry and Ribsy.
- Talked about the Revolutionary War causes and key people.
What we didn’t get to: Paul Revere’s ride, sign language, piano, book review, or logic puzzles. If they’re not out tomorrow, they will probably go in late, and we have plenty to keep us busy……even if this weekend brings us another round of atypical winter weather.