pony up

It must be December because my crafting level has been set solidly at FREAKING OUT! Nevertheless, I took a week away from my Christmas preparations to make a hanging embroidery for a special little girl who's moving to the UK after New Years.

a bible verse and an unbiblical character

At first I thought i would sew a pony softie, since I have a horse pattern I turned into a Zebra for Zion a few years ago. But that was before I realized I might have a horn and wings to reckon with. I messaged the girl's mother and asked her which was her daughter's favorite pony. "Princess Twilight Sparkle" came back the reply. I googled the phrase and exclaimed "God damn it! She's a mother fucking Alicorn!"

For those of you who don't have a small group filled with little girls:

Alicorns are pony characters in the show who have both a unicorn horn and Pegasus wings.
-source = a wiki devoted entirely to My Little Pony. Bet you didn't know THAT existed.

So instead of spending several hours cursing white felt into a conical shape I decided to make this embroidery. When my photoshop failed Dan took over the layout.

Me: Why are you googling pictures of Princess Twilight Sparkle? Didn't the one I send you work?
Dan: I'm trying to find the exact font associated with this pony.
Me: Be careful with that image search, it's gonna turn into porn in like half a page. You think it's just gonna be purple ponies and then it slowly morphs into purple ponies wearing stocking and showing you their butts.
Dan: I have safe search enabled... I think.

So you see, it was a group effort, and an appropriate sendoff for the only little girl who's let me braid her hair.

I think she'll like it in England. There all the horses are called ponies and some are REAL royalty.

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this moment

Harvey and Zion's feet, as they walk over a plank a few inches above above the grass

walking the plank

A moment from the week (before the snow).

Thanksgiving in pictures

Zion on a snowy morning

outside early for snow play

Lijah and his cousin in their baby seats in Grandma and Grandpa's living room

bumper baby battle

Grandma's table set for Thanksgiving dinner

ready for the food

Lijah with broccoli bits all over his face

broccoli fan

Harvey, Zion, and their cousin Leighanna working on an art project

cousins at work

trash all over the kitchen floor

Rascal had a party, too

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many thanks

We're enjoying lots of chances to eat Thanksgiving dinners this year: after two over the weekend, with friends and at Leah's parents, we made our own this evening. We invited a few friends over to share it with us, but a winter storm—all the scarier for being the first of the season—kept them away. That was alright, though, because we had a fine meal with just the five of us: tablecloth and centerpiece and all! And because it was just us, we were free to power through the meal from start to finish in not much more than ten minutes!

No, that's not quite fair. The boys, especially Harvey, did an atypically great job of waiting until everyone was served to start eating, and that was after we all shared something we were thankful for. And Leah only rushed off because Elijah, who got into the spirit of things by keeping himself awake for the feast, needed to go to sleep immediately after finishing his mashed potatoes. And Harvey and I lingered for a reasonable time over our seconds and desert.

And any rushing wasn't due to a lack of interest in the meal: on the contrary, excitement was high! We've been studying the Pilgrims, so Harvey was enough in touch with the original feast to ask for corn and apples to be part of our meal—five minutes before we sat down to eat. Happily canned corn is quick enough to heat up, though hardly authentic. I'll see what I can do about making some samp for next year. And Zion got into the celebratory spirit by calling for toast after toast, which in practice meant clinking glasses a lot. Cheers!

I'm always thankful for my family, but it's nice to stop and notice it officially over Thanksgiving dinner. Grumpy or cheerful—and we had some of each today—I love being with them, and am grateful for how much time I get to spend hanging out. Each of them is wonderful, and none more than Leah who did all the cleaning up after our feast! She's also much more eloquent than I on the subject of giving thanks; here's what she had to say on Facebook earlier:

Because the snow kept our dinner guests away tonight, I am particularly thankful for my family of five who makes every meal feel like a party. I am thankful for Harvey who said, "My favorite part of thanksgiving is corn because the settlers had corn!" and for Dan who immediately rushed some canned corn onto the stove at my whispered request. I am thankful for Zion who owns his pilgrim name so much that he now refuses to be called "ZiZi." I am thankful for Elijah who rubbed a full serving of mashed potatoes all over his face, and then freaked out that there was mashed potato on his face. I am thankful that every year they are a little bit more themselves and a little bit more my own. So happy thanksgiving, Archibalds, I'd settle with you guys any day.

One more Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow... let the thankfulness continue!

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bedtime these days

Our bedtime routine is working pretty well these days. I thought of it because today it didn't, quite; I guess that made me pay attention. We haven't said much about bedtime since Lijah's been around, which is maybe surprising since there's some concern, I think, about having the third kid: now the parents are outnumbered! But for us going from one to two was actually trickier. As it is now, Harvey and Zion have pretty similar interests and schedules, so it's workable for one parent to put them both to bed at the same time.

What usually happens is that Lijah starts getting sleepy sometime around 6:00, and Leah takes him upstairs to nurse to sleep in the bed. He's fairly sensitive to noise when he's falling asleep, so I work to keep the boys quiet and contained in their after-dinner activities. When one or both of them seems tired—usually between 6:30 and 7:00, this time of year, we head upstairs for stories. That they both love books more than just about anything else is very convenient, since if there's any recalcitrance I only have to say that the window for story time will be closing shortly to get them going.

They each get one book "in the lap"—so called as a historical relic from when Harvey was the only audience; these days we're just all in a row on the edge of the beds—then I direct them to brush their teeth and pee. That last bit is the only trouble spot lately, since Zion isn't always (ever?) happy to be made to use the toilet on command, and the requirement is a new one for him. But we make it work. Then I read two more books "in the bed", lying in Zion's bed between the boys (their "beds" are a pair of mattresses on the floor, pushed right up against one another). The lights are off for the second round of stories; they're lit by headlamp. I limit the "lap" stories to shorter picture books, but the "bed" material can be longer; most nights Harvey asks for a portion of a chapter book (we're currently in the middle of The Four-Story Mistake).

After I finish reading I turn off the headlamp and assess the situation. Zion often falls asleep as he listens, or nearly so, but Harvey has only dropped off during a story a handful of times in his life. Sometimes he asks me to pray for him to have no scary dreams, something which used to be a ritual but now is pretty intermittent, and every once and a while he'll request a song; Zion also tends to want a song if he's still awake enough to speak. After I do those things—or just lie still for a minute or two, if there aren't any requests—I say goodnight and get up to go, letting anyone still awake know that I'll come back to check on them in a couple minutes.

Most of the time that's all it takes. We work the boys pretty hard most days, and even Harvey can't usually last more than 30 seconds after I stop talking to him. But on the rare occasion it doesn't work and we have open rebellion I do my best not to fight, while also not setting any precedents that'll possibly extend bedtime in the future. Today, for example, Harvey was too worked up to settle down to sleep, so ten minutes or so after I left him to go downstairs I heard him walking around up there. Investigating, I told him that I was cleaning the kitchen and he was welcome to come help me, or he could turn on his headlamp and look at a book in his bed, or anything he wanted. He sat at the top of the stairs for a while, then came down and started drawing in the playroom. When I finished cleaning and started turning off lights, he whined indistinctly for a while until I was able to get him to ask me for what he wanted, which was "help going to sleep". So we went up together and I petted his head for, oh, about a minute and a half until he fell asleep. That was a little past 8:00.

Our kids are not awesome sleepers. Lijah wakes up four to six times per night, and its a rare night where I don't have to go in to settle Zion down at least once. But at least—and this is a great relief to me—they mostly don't fight sleeping. Lijah wants cuddles and nursing, and he get them, and Zion mostly just needs reminders that it's sleepy time and he should be lying down. He actually likes sleeping, which very gratifying to his parents; we're big fans too!

I don't know how other folks do with bedtimes; our culture seems to say that we should just put kids in their rooms and tell them to sleep—starting weeks after birth!—but there's also an industry of authors catering to solving sleep problems in the young. If you ask me, getting your kids to sleep isn't something you can "get right": all kids are different, and what works one month might not even work with the same kid the next month. But when I can relax about it things seem to go better. And I'm feeling pretty relaxed these days, so life is good!

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