The Penultimate Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions

At last the tiny knit debate.  The two candidates, dressed in their parties’ traditional colors, approach their lecterns with neither a handshake or even an acknowledgement between them.  They are rivals.  Santa was chosen as the moderator and the candidates and members of the debate audience have been forewarned that he will use his “naughty or nice list” if things get out of hand.  The list is in his bag and he’s not afraid to use it.

The debate is similar to the human presidential debates, but there are some marked differences.  With no mouths to speak the candidates must express their opinions though wild gesticulation, sighs, head shakes, groans and moans. So, basically what you would have seen on television if you had the human debate on mute.

The toy debate turns to the topic of the environment and climate change.  The question is directed to tiny knit Secretary Clinton. She comes armed and displays her tomes of knowledge.  Passionately she points out picture after picture of ecosystems decimated by changes in the climate.

Tiny knit zombie stops his moaning and stomping when tiny knit Clinton mentions trees and listens intently.  Tiny knit zombie Trump loves trees and the more tiny knit Clinton talks the more he fears for his friends the trees.  When Santa asks if zombie Trump has anything to add he reaches beneath his lectern and pulls out his favorite hat: a double acorn cap he found in the forest.

A melee ensues.  The evil toys cannot believe that their hand knit candidate is willing to side with his opponent.  Fights break out in the audience and even Santa’s shouts of “naughty, naughty, naughty” don’t stop the combatants.  Tiny knit chicken tries to hatch Viking’s head.  Witch knocks Snowman over and threatens her with a melting potion.  In short, it gets ugly.

While Santa tries to regain control over the audience, something amazing happens on stage initially unnoticed by the crowd.  Tiny knit zombie Trump and tiny knit Clinton turn and actually look at each other.  She admires his hat.  He admires her pile of books.  They each wonder if the difference between them are really that great.  She’s always been an outsider because of her love of research and policy.  He’s always been an outsider because he has an unnatural palate, hair and skin tone.  Tiny knit Trump realizes he’s a infant in the political arena compared to her, while she considers that his fresh perspective might be good for the toy community.

Slowly he reaches out his hand.  She responds by reaching out her own.  Together they stand and one by one the toys stop their fighting and watch what their chosen potential leaders are doing on stage.  Some are horrified, but others are impressed by their candidate’s willingness to reach across the aisle and put aside differences to find commonality.  The election takes an unexpected turn days before the vote.

Forth post in a series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the third post here, second post here, and the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see for the zombie pattern and visit her site at

Spoiled Rotten?

My daughter is an only child.  My husband and I chose to have just one.  We made that decision for a host of reasons including:

  1. We want to be as involved as possible in her life, while still both working and maintaining our own lives.
  2. We wanted to be able to experience her life together, rather than the divide and conquer method.
  3. I am a crazy tree-hugger and know the impact each additional person has on this earth.
  4. Having kids is a crap shoot.  Heck, life is a crap shoot.  We had one healthy kid and that’s a miracle and amazing.  I don’t need to roll the dice again.

I could go on and on, but I’m not trying to convince  you or anyone else that we made the right decision.  We made the right decision for our family.  Most days I’m really happy with the size and makeup of our family.  Do I worry about our decision?  Of course.  I’m a parent.  I worry.  That’s what I do.

  1. I worry that she’s going to be some kind of social misfit because she doesn’t have the influence of another kid at home to learn from.
  2. I worry that our holidays and traditions are boring and lame because there is just one kid.  Christmas morning has to be more magical the more kids you have, provided that you have the means for those kids, right?
  3. My daughter won’t play a sport, take a class, or do much of anything without a friend.  A sibling would provide a built in other person to hang out with.  I worry that she’s missing out on opportunities because she won’t do things alone.
  4. I’m afraid she’s spoiled rotten and a spoiled brat.

Trust me.  I worry about #4.  It is the thing about only children, isn’t it?   Spoiled is the stereotype. Well that and weird, but I believe in my heart of hearts that every single human being on this earth is weird.  My kid would be weird no matter what.  She’s just a different weird then she would be if she had a sibling.

But I digress.  Only children are spoiled.  They get everything they want.  They don’t have to learn how to share.  Their parents dote endlessly on them.  Their parents helicopter them to no end because there is no other child to focus on.

Do I spoil my daughter?  I don’t have multiple kids to make life fair for.  We need a new family laptop?  I give her the old one so she has her own computer.  If I had two kids they’d have to share that computer.  She looses her gloves at school?  I gripe, but just get a new pair.  We are fiscally conservative and I can afford a new pair.  I’m more annoyed about the time it takes for me to buy her the new pair.  My husband and I coached her soccer team together.  Both of us took hours out of our week to coach our only child.  I’d say that spoiled her, but she hated it, so probably not.

My daughter is an individual though.  She is like her dad.  She doesn’t really want stuff.  Her list to Santa this year consists of the following:

  1. Tic tacs, orange.
  2. Rocks
  3. Notebook
  4. Beanie Boo
  5. Magic Set
  6. Broncos Jersey

What an amazing list.  So reasonable, especially when split between Santa, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Papa, Nanna, Grandpa and the two aunts and uncles who buy for her.  Oh but wait.  There are two other items, and that’s where the problem comes in.

  1. iPad
  2. Dash and Dot robots

My daughter wants the same setup she has in her STEM lab at school so she can program robots at home.  This, my friends, is when the “OH MY KID IS SPOILED” freakout starts.  It goes like this:

  • Mom voice: She wants to program robots.  That’s so cool.  I was a programmer, so maybe she wants to grow up and be like me.  That would be a great career for her.
  • Head voice: WHO THE HELL GETS AN IPOD FOR THEIR KID FOR CHRISTMAS?  Only the parent of a spoiled brat only child.  That’s who!
  • Mom voice: Whoa.  We don’t even have an iPad.  She uses them at school.  It could be a family present.  In this day and age it isn’t that extravagant for a family to have an iPad.
  • Mom voice: There are eight things on her list.  She doesn’t ask for that much.  She’s a good kid.  She’s generous and caring and a good friend.  Stop freaking out.

Forever some reason, my worst case parenting scenario always ends with serial killer.  As much as I know that some of this worry is self inflicted, there is also a weird societal side of this craziness.  Today, we were at Michaels buying craft supplies for our annual “kids make holiday presents party.”  My well spoken confident daughter was explaining to the checkout person that we were having a party so she and her friends could make presents for their parents and siblings.

The man asked her, “How many siblings do you have?”

She replied, “None, I’m an only child.”

“Well, I bet you are spoiled rotten.”

I yammered something about how no she wasn’t spoiled rotten that she had a cousin and some second cousins and no I’m not a bad mom and I really have good reasons for only having one child and I’m going to write a blog post about this you creep.  (Actually, I stopped after the strange cousin justification.)  He went on to tell me that he was one of fourteen kids and that his wife was an only child.  We pretended it was totally normal that he’d called my kid “spoiled rotten.”

So let me just state here my kid is not spoiled rotten.  According to Google the definition of spoil is:

harm the character of (a child) by being too lenient or indulgent.
“the last thing I want to do is spoil Thomas”
Okay.  I can be lenient.  I can be indulgent.  However, not to the extent that I am not harming my child.  (Head voice: Well, maybe I am.  I mean would I really know if she was being harmed?)
Shut up head voice!  Okay, am pretty sure I am no harming my child, and I know she is not rotten.  She is a sweet kid who, as I was blogging this, came and slipped a finger knit necklace around my neck.  She is teaching her new friend how to finger knit so she can make a necklace for her mom.  She is not rotten.
Head voice: But will she become rotten if I get her an iPad?!?  Will that be the last straw?  What if the iPad makes her a serial killer???
Sigh.  Stupid head voice.

Can it be? Tiny Snowman!

Tiny Santa’s friend, Tiny Santa #2 was given to Nanna as a Thanksgiving present.  So Tiny Santa was getting lonely.  He was excited to meet his new friend Tiny Albino Peanut.    

Oh Tiny Santa, don’t be silly.  A peanut is not a good friend.  I’m not done yet.

Eyes, scarf and arms make Tiny Snowman!  Oh, the cool weather adventures they will have together.  

Santa Sighting

The Afthead Christmas season begins with a trip to Main Street of my hometown.  The four blocks are lined with trees covered in tiny white lights, dark until Santa arrives.  He travels in the back of a truck waving to the kids, and when he reaches the beginning of a new block the lights magically illuminate. This year it was cold and snow flurries painted the sky.  My daughter and her friend were bundled three layers deep topped with Santa hats.  Both of them believe completely in Santa, and while they know this is not the real guy, eight years of a tradition have made him special.  

The girls call in unison as Santa passes.  

“He saw us!”

“He waved at us!”

Because they are bigger and the crowds stayed home to avoid the cold this year I ask, “Do you want to go down another block?”  They do.  This year we see Santa four times and he sees us twice, by the girls’ counting.  Only at the last block do I have to threaten, “Girls,are you really hitting each other?  He is right there!”  Their cold bodies extend for one final wave.  

They leave singing  a song they proudly made up on their own:  “Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus right down Ma-ain Street.”  

More Travel Knitting

So much knitting gets accomplished on vacation.  I found a darning needle in my “emergency knitting kit” in my carry on – yeah that’s a real thing in my life – so was able to remove the double pointed needles out of hat #1 for the younger cousin.    I then knit a bigger hat for the second older cousin.  Somehow I lost the picture of the second hat, but it was the same colors, slightly bigger with a different stripe pattern.  Can you picture it? With the baby hats out of the way, I moved onto my finger cramping knitting.  I love making tiny Mochimochi Land toys when traveling.  Nothing says “road trip” to me more than this image:  Tiny needles and yarn?  Sign me up.  Since Christmas is coming I brought along my kit to make tiny Santas.   I messed up the leg to body interface the first time but turned out a respectable tiny Santa the second try.  His name is Verona Tinypants.      Thankfully my aunt-in-law had a needle in her sewing kit smaller than my giant emergency darning needle so I could finish weaving in his octopus arms.  In case you are wondering about the gorgeous fluffy base in the featured image, Verona is on the cat-in-law, Mr. Belding.  Such a sweet guy!  One more day of vacation left and I’ve knit all the projects I brought, except the other tiny Santa – the kit makes two.  We’ll see if my hands are recovered enough to make one more tomorrow.  His name would be Kaukauna Tinypants.    

Christmas morning

The Magic of Christmas at Six

The holidays are over but next year, I beg you, go find a six-year-old to spend Christmas with you.  It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve experienced in my adult life.

The wonder starts from the moment elves on the shelves start their creepy spying from bookcases and shower heads and ovens.  (No elf on the shelf at our house:  too beady-eyed stalkerish for me thanks.)  The parental threats of “Santa’s watching” with every misdemeanor cannot squelch the excitement.  Santa’s watching is a mystery to be explored.  He knows if you’ve been bad or good is a rule to ponder.  Santa Claus is coming to town is a fact full of anticipation.  Rudolph’s colleagues would be sued for discrimination in this day in age – shun the different guy – is a parental minefield.

At six though, the magic isn’t just in the belief; it’s in the new-found logic ability.

“Mom, that Santa at the mall, he’s not the real Santa.  The real Santa is too busy getting ready for Christmas at the North Pole.  Why is that fake guy here?  He’s scary.”

“Why do you think he’s here honey?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you believe in him last year?”

“Yeah… oh… he’s there for the little kids.  The ones who don’t understand that Santa is real and needs to be at the North Pole with the elves.  They need to see him, even if he is scary.  I’m a big kid now, so I know better, but I won’t tell the little kids.” 

The joy of that interaction: the unquestioning belief in the real Santa and all the work he needs to do; the logic of the scary fake Santas; the pride of figuring things out; and the understanding that you don’t ruin it for the little kids.   That my friends is a Christmas present of joy wrapped in belief wrapped in magic wrapped in logic wrapped in empathy in a box of parental astonishment right there.

I was almost sad to see Christmas morning knowing that six won’t last until next year.  There were only a few pictures as I immersed myself in the moment.

“Mom!  Santa gave me coal in my stocking, but I got other stuff too.  I bet I got it because he knows I love rocks and would want to study it.”

“I’m sure you are right sweetie.”

Merry Christmas wishes from the Afthead family to you and yours.  Wishing you and us magic at the holidays for years to come.