Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Berkeley Saturday Morning

Today marked the return of the Small Tribe to the Berkeley Farmers Market! Between having a baby and the holidays, we stopped going to the farmers market and just went to the grocery store around the corner. But with the gorgeous, almost 70 degree weather today, we shook off our winter blahs and returned to our regular weekend ritual.

One of the glorious things about living here in the Bay Area (aside from Spring- like weather in January) is the availability of fresh, organic food. I've been reading Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food which discusses the importance of eating locally grown, high quality food that has been cooked simply. I'm very much a novice cook and find her message to be compelling and accessible. The book has been inspiring me to eat better for me and our planet. Having the incredible good fortune to live in a city with- count them- THREE (!!!) farmers markets a week, year round and all within walking distance from my home- there's really no excuse for me not to.

I thought I'd share some images of the fresh loveliness from this morning....

This is some chard we bought for dinner

Red cabbages

Organic Rillen Zeml Bread

Carrots, not as sweet this time of year as they are in the late summer when we eat them like candy

Alien Broccoli looking things which we have yet to try, but looked pretty cool to take pictures of

My boys like to play in the park next to the market

Every picture of Nico is an action photo

Matteo at the Wall of Peace

Luca sleeping on me (as usual). It was pretty bright and sunny out, so I covered him with a playsilk :)

We ended our morning with lunch from the Brazil Cafe, a funky shack across from the University that has Bossa Nova music playing from outdoor speakers.

...And here it is, your moment of Zen...

Happy Weekend and Happy Eating!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Matteo and I spent yesterday afternoon playing with colours

Like his great-grandfather (who knows how many steps there are in every area of his home), Matteo likes to count

This is his peeled orange (which he pronounces "ohr-inj" in the adorable way that only 3 year olds can)

Trains run through the dwarf hills

Blue is Matteo's favorite colour

We ended the afternoon making window stars

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I knit!- pt 2

It's 1:30 in the morning and I'm putting down the knitting needles. I tried knitting after dinner and you can see by the slipped stitches where I got distracted screaming at the boys for various mischief. I gave up and after boys, baths and bedtimes, Ivan and I sat down to watch Lost and I picked up the needles again.

It took me 30 minutes to figure out how to cast off using the instructions in my beginnners knitting kit (OK, it's really a CHILDRENS learn to knit kit, but who's paying attention anyway-right?). You would have thought I would have stopped there, given that it was midnight, but oh no... there was another small ball of yarn in the kit that was calling out to me. Aunt Elisabeth had lent me a book on knitting which was helpful in figuring out how to cast on. I used the one needle method (question for you Knitting Goddesses- what is the difference if you use one or 2 needles?). I was getting tired, but dang it- I was going to figure this thing out! It took almost an hour (pathetic, I know), but I got my 30 stitches onto the needle. I did 3 rows and now I am going to go to bed happily dreaming of soft yarn.

My first little piece of knitting is about 4" wide and 10" long. Too small for a doll blanket, too big for the dollhouse, any suggestions on how it can be used?

Wishing everyone happy dreams!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I knit!

Luca and I walked over to Ivan's Aunt Elisabeth's house this morning under the pretense of picking up some pictures, but really I was hoping I could finagle a knitting lesson from her. I showed up at the door with a cute baby, huge smile and my beginning knitters kit hoping she could spare a moment and very graciously she did :).

[Please allow me to gush about Aunt Elisabeth for a moment. The woman can build cabinets, speak beautiful French, knit, garden, sew and she has cooked the best chicken adobo I had ever had (sorry mom). She was telling me one time that she planned to parquet a wood floor into a design she had seen at the family's Gran Maison in France... I have no doubt she'll do it too. Aunt Elisabeth has some seriously mad skillz.]

So while the awfully sweet Uncle Bob bounced and cooed with the Bean, Aunt Elisabeth taught me how to knit. I was having trouble with casting, so she started a row of 20 stitches from me and from there I worked on knitting and purling. (Also, knitters who are reading this, please excuse me if I'm mangling knitting terms).

After we left Aunt Elisabeth's, Luca and I walked over to a cafe with a pretty outdoor area. Luca slept on me in the Moby Wrap while I stood doing the wearing-a-sleeping-baby-dance, swaying back and forth working on my little piece of knitting. Knit, needle in back, purl needle in front... over and over again.

When Nico first learned how to jump last summer, he'd leap and bound all over the house like a silly Tigger. Across the room, down the hallway and to my great consternation, off the furniture yelling "I jump! I jump! I jump!". As I swayed back and forth to the rhythm of the needles this morning, in my head I was singing "I knit! I knit! I knit!"

Thank you Aunt Elisabeth!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Little Sprout

I'm feeling some peace and bliss looking at this picture of the Bean this morning...

Wishing Peace and Bliss to everyone!

Many Thanks and hugs to some talented Etsy Ladies who made Luca's outfit- Dawn at Comfed Out Kaiser made the yummy sweater and pants. Jessica at WhimsyByJess knitted the lovely hat.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Being Better

Original artwork by Sharry Phelan Wright and Eric Beumer for The Sophia Project

I'm feeling kind of sick of myself right now. I think that's what happens when you spend 3 days in a row exclusively with small children and aside from the person who takes your latte order, you don't have any real adult connection and you spend waaayyy too much time in your own head.

What's making me cranky at this particular moment is stuff. Too much stuff. I know I obsess over the pretty wooden toy stuff and it's making me crazy. I know I can be deeper than that and I want to.

I want to do better. I want to be better.

As if sensing my ennui, today my incredibly lovely friend Christine sent me some information about an organization she's involved with called The Sophia Project. It is an anthroposophical initiative in nearby Oakland serving children and families who are at risk of recurring homelessness. It is affiliated with the Camphill Association and a member of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association. You can learn more about it at (there's also a button on the right hand side of the blog to take you there).

I looked at the donation wish list and nowhere did it ask for Camden Rose playstands or Ostheimer farm sets. Grocery store gift cards, diapers, warm clothing is what they are looking for and gosh darn it- I want to get it for them. Would it be crazy of me to use some of the money I would have spent hoarding German toys before the CPSIA law comes into effect to get some of these items for them? I don't think so, maybe I just will.

I'm not enough of a warrior to make this a call to action for everyone. I'm just going to put this information out there for anyone who feels the way I do today. I know that everyone has his/her own way to be better. If you have a moment- please share with me what you do. I could use the inspiration.

With Love and Gratitude, Marina

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Happiness

I'll stop. I promise. But I really can't help myself.

Aren't they the most beautiful couple in the world tonight?

(oh yeah, and I want to be able rock a hat like Aretha does)

Hope and Happiness

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

-President Barack Obama
January 20, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Spirit Babies

Jizo Bodhisattva, The guardian of infants*

I hope you'll indulge me. This is a passage from one of my favorite books Baby Catcher: Confessions of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent and has been on mind quite a bit today. Peggy is a legendary Berkeley home-birthing midwife. In this passage, she has recently had a miscarriage and her son is explaining the story of Spirit Babies as he implores her to have another baby.

"So my first child, this not-yet-teenaged boy, pulled a wooden chair to my side and draped his thin arm across my shoulders , saying "Well, Mom, here's how it is. See, I was one (Spirit Baby) myself, so that must be how I know. Anyway, every woman has a circle of babies that goes around and around above her head and those babies are all the possible babies she could have her in whole life. Every month, one of those babies is first in line. If she gets pregnant, then that's the baby that's born. If she doesn't get pregnant, the baby goes back in the circle and keeps going around with all the others. If she gets pregnant but something bad happens before the baby's listen Mom, here's the really cool part- it goes back into the circle, but it becomes a Spirit Baby, and all the other babies give it cuts. Each month it's always first in line. Isn't that great?"

A year ago I had a miscarriage. I looked at the calender today and noticed the date. Obviously there has been a lot to celebrate in this past year, but I had to stop and pause for a moment to think about our little Spirit Baby. Is our little Luca Bean the Spirit Baby that got cuts? I don't know the answer to that but that story warms me deep inside.

At the end of this particular chapter of the book, Peggy asks her son why it is so important for her to get pregnant again... his reply is "Oh, for the joy of it!"

Oh, the joy of it indeed.

* After our loss last year, a caring friend told me about the Jizo Bodhisattva, a Japanese enlightened being who has special significance to pregnant women and to those whose children who have died. I've kept this little Jizo statue on our kitchen window sill above our sink. It's a sweet reminder to me of the caring beings that are out there to watch over all of us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This minute...

My Luca Bean is sleeping


*in hushed tones*
what are you doing this minute?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Happy Space

The boys new playroom!

Ivan and I have been working on the boys' room the past few weeks to accommodate the new sleeping situations. Matteo and Nico wanted to start sleeping together, so we moved Matteo and his bed into Nico's (larger) room and have turned Matteo's former room into the playroom.

(It probably will all change in a few months when Luca needs his own space out of our room, but we like to change it up every few months in our home anyway :)).

I had a happy few hours the past few days to take pictures of the space. There's something very calming about the quiet when the boys are out of the house and Luca is napping.

Yes, I found the dollhouse! The local shop got it in and I drove almost 100 miles round trip across the bay in the rain to get it. It was worth it when Nico started playing with right away, rearranging furniture, putting the dolls on the potty :). A housewarming party is in the works for the Tiny Tribe (as we call the doll family) and you're all invited :).

Right side view of the playstands. I keep toys for Luca on that side.

Left side view with the big boy toys

The Squirrel mobile I thought Kinderkram stopped making and miraculously found on eBay!

It seemed like they were saying "Good Morning!" to me

Riding the waves

The farmhouse feels pretty peaceful with the Buntspechte figures making their home there.

Sending peace and happiness to everyone!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Solstice candle sacrifice

The other day a very dear friend commented that she had visited my blog and that my life seems so peaceful and productive. I felt like a sham, since in my own eyes my life is messy and chaotic and not as Waldorf-y as I like, but I guess one doesn't blog about that do they?

Since that conversation, I felt like I should post a few truths in the interest of full disclosure and hope that they make you chuckle a bit and maybe share something in your life that just doesn't make your blog that day- fair enough?

OK, I'll go first-

You know that pretty candlelit picture of the nativity scene I posted before Christmas? During dinner on Solstice, my sister in law Karina asked us if we smelled anything burning. I thought "oh that's just the beeswax candles" but got up to check and well.... the palm tree from the nativity set was smoldering from being too close to the candles. Yes, the OSTHEIMER palm tree was burning and the other one was starting to singe. In the true Buddhist tradition of detachment I told myself that our family enjoyed it so much while we had it that I wouldn't mourn it's loss... but also good ole American consumerism was in place when I also told myself that it's a kind of a good reason to think about replacing the set with a Buntspechte one next year anyway.

... all right, it's a really stupid reason- but I said I was going to be honest

beep, beep

We own a TV. Not just any TV, we're talking an old, enormous big-as-a-Volkswagon-parked-in-the-living-room television set. And we have cable. With premium channels. Showtime AND HBO. Ivan and I LOVE the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, we're mourning the end of the season for Dexter and are waiting anxiously for Lost to start up again. Otherwise, we find everything else on TV to be pretty craptastic. And did I mention that we only watch our shows after the kids are in bed... Am I sounding defensive enough?

I hate this guy

The boys also have an uncomfortable familiarity with Thomas the Tank Engine. I should just spit it out that they worship that stupid train. I had let them watch the show before I started learning about Waldorf and all their friends were really into Thomas too. They used to be pretty obsessive about it and when I saw Matteo copying story lines from the show during his train play I decided to cut out as much as I could without bloodshed involved. So no more Thomas DVD's, clothing, toothbrush, plates and silverware. I've kept one book that was given as a gift and the wooden trains since I think taking those away would be akin to cutting off an appendage for the boys. We bought the boys a beautiful wooden train set for Christmas and so far we have been totally Thomas free for a week.

This picture cost Ivan half a bar of his organic chocolate

Most pictures of the kids involve bribary. Chocolate, cheddar bunnies, more chocolate... you name it. I'd do most anything for a good shot. That includes pictures of craft projects with the kids. They do enjoy doing crafts to a certain extent, but at 3 and 2 years old, they have the attention span of gnats.

And lastly, my crafting is more heart than skill. So deepest thanks to anyone who gets a gift I've made and has graciously not asked if the boys did it all by themselves.

I love that this life is a journey and we can keep trying to improve what we're not satisfied with. Life isn't always picture perfect and I hope that this post makes you laugh and think... "wow, I sure am doing better than this chick!"

xoxo- Marina

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Years Thoughts

The gorgeous boys, Matteo and Nico

I had all these thoughts about what to write about for New Year's... reflecting on the past year, pondering the New Year upon us and my goals for it ... but really I think I just want to bask in the love I have for my family.

Matteo, Nico and Lucien~ I hope that every day of this year and beyond, you always feel the love that I have for you. I hope that you all know how precious you are to me and that I aim to honor you all as individuals as well as my little tribe of boys.

My beloved husband Ivan and our little Luca Bean

Ivan, love of my life~ I want you to know that you are appreciated and loved as well. You support us all with your emotional strength and inspire me with your quiet dignity. We are so blessed to have you as the rock that keeps us grounded.

I wish for everyone to have love in their lives this year and to have the time to fully feel and appreciate it :).

Happy New Years Blessings to Everyone!