Instead of Knitting

Instead of knitting, I took my 8 year old nephew Hank for a day, and here is what we did. (Actually, if you are my mum, or Erin (Hank’s mum) please move along. You can read this another day. Like…. the 26th. Thank you.)

1. We had a conversation about whether or not it could rain frogs. The answer is a definitive Yes- and Hank feels that there is a 95% chance you would survive. (The 5% risk of death would apparently be a result of your complete shock that it was raining frogs. Not that you would die of fright or something, but that you would be “so shocked that you would forget to take cover, and even a small frog falling from a great height could kill you.” Excellent point.

2. We went on the subway.


My sister has a car. The subway is very novel to Hank. We stood in the last car and watched the tracks go out fast behind us… and we came up with a strategy (as all young Torontonians have before him) for what we would do if he fell onto the tracks. We sped under the city, guessing at what we were under.

3. We had hot chocolate and croissant at Bread and Roses in the Village. (Also maybe one candy cane cookie, but it was small, so it’s not like it was really like junk food.)


4. We bought a few things, things for Hank to give to his mum. (When you are eight – you really need help with strategy.) We think she will be very surprised and wonder where he got the money and how he got to the store. She will likely, Hank thinks, wonder about this “for the rest of her life”.

5. We almost didn’t buy a picture frame, because as Hank pointed out to me, they were all full of pictures of people we didn’t know. His mum wouldn’t like that. Also, Hank told me that he has asked Santa for an ipod, which he is going to fill ONLY with songs by Mika. (I had no response. Still don’t, although I admit that “Love today” is on my own ipod for running. Only for running. Well, running and the first day of school.)

6. On the way back home, Hank discovered an antique device, the purpose and use of which I explained carefully.


We left a message on Erin’s phone telling her we were calling her from “a pay phone”. Crazy. When I told him that when I was young there were no cell phones, he looked at me and said “That must have been hard to manage.”

7. We made a Gingerbread house.


Technically, Megan and Hank made a gingerbread house. Then Hank called my mum and told her that he was bringing dessert on Christmas day. (Quote from Hank “There has got to be a way to get more candy on this.”)

8. We made tee-shirts for Erin and Gramy.


This is something my kids used to do when they were little. It was really, really fun doing it again. The results are as fashion forward as they were the last time I broke out the fabric paint. (Don’t tell me you’re surprised I had a bunch of fabric paint lying around. C’mon. I’m crafty. Click to embiggen.)


9. We wrapped gifts.


(That there is a Gordon Ramsay Cookbook. When Hank chose it, I asked him if his mum liked Gordon Ramsay and he said “Oh yes. She says the only thing she doesn’t like about him is his wife and kids.” I almost had a spasm in the bookstore.)

10. Hank left… and I looked at the sweater.


One sleeve short… and I really don’t care. People before things, and today was totally worth it. I gotta go knit though. Maybe all night.

239 thoughts on “Instead of Knitting

  1. How wonderful of you to spend precious time with Hank. THOSE are memories for you both to rememeber. Merry Christmas, Steph, and remember that IOUs for hand-knitted gifties have always been welcome at my home.
    Barbara @ the Jersey Shore πŸ™‚

  2. I’m never first… but I like to pretend, sweater is beautiful, Megan and Hank look enough like to be siblings instead of cousins… always people first…

  3. Wow, Hank is so grown up!
    Don’t worry, I think I’ll be up all night finishing knitting too. Solidarity Sister! And Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

  4. What a delightful way to spend a day! I thoroughly agree that this was better than knitting. Children are only at this age for a short time and spending time with them and glimpsing their perspective is so important. You can knit anytime, but a chance to be with a child can’t always be moved to another day.
    You can knit all night to make up for today, can’t you?

  5. That’s not only an awesome sweater, it looks like it would be perfect for Hank. I’m sure he won’t mind if you finish that sleeve in the laid back week before the new year. Great day.

  6. What a great day. I need to go spend time with my own kids (if I can ever leave work). It makes you remember why I love living! Knit on!

  7. Sounds like a great day – love the t-shirts. And a good antidote for a parent of teenagers is spending time with a younger relative – helps you remember that your own were that sweet once & that mayhap one day you’ll have some grands as a reward.

  8. Thank you for sharing your day with Hank. He is an awesome young man, and it is kind of you to share him with us. I agree with your sister’s assessment of Gordon Ramsey, and commend you for holding it together in the book store. And Hank is right, life before cell phones was harder to manage. Good observation skills.
    Good luck with finishing the Christmas knitting, but if you don’t, the day with Hank could never be replaced, and you made the right choice.

  9. Woo hoo! I’m in the top 25 first commenters!
    I love when kids say stuff like what Hank said, and with straight faces. My niece has a habit of doing that whenever I’m around her. It’s a guessing game and adventure to see what she’ll say next.
    Gotta love those kids, right?
    The finish line is almost there!! You can do it!!

  10. Definitely people before knitting and that sounds like a wonderful day. Hank is an awesome kid and Santa should bring him lots and lots of candy and video games or whatever he wants ’cause he’s *definitely* been good this year.

  11. I think Hank would love to read _Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs_ with you sometime.
    We had similar fun with a nephew Zach at our house a few days ago, letting him make glass beads with my husband’s torch (dh makes glass beads/buttons/stitch markers – So far, my mom, the 4 members of my family, my nephew, and my BIL have made beads that will be given as a super secret set for my sister (Zach’s mom) to wear on her Troll bracelet — diff. set of our beads here:
    Such fun to do cool secret stuff with the nephews, eh?!

  12. I gave up on the Christmas knitting and there wasn’t much of it to begin with. I decided people first this year too. My daughter and I took my nursing home bound mother to lunch and a movie (which she didn’t like) last weekend. Tonight I must finish the shopping and finish decorating the freakin tree so we can have Christmas tomorrow on Christmas Eve. My daughter has to spend Christmas Day with the MIL, so this is the time to be together. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  13. Hank’s mom’s comment about “his wife and kids” has me giggling and laughing and I’m just dying over here. I really, REALLY needed that.

  14. What a wonderful day. I had tears in my eyes from laughter and joy. I miss my niece and nephew – 2000 miles away.

  15. What a great post. I can’t wait until my nieces and nephews are old enough for fun like that! Little kids really do remind me of the meaning of the holidays!!

  16. He is getting so big! I think it is great that he was able to have some new exciting experiences. Now Christmas will be his favorite holiday ever!

  17. Hank’s mum has good taste, when he’s not swearing I think Gordon can be very charming and he’s a damn good cook any day of the week.
    I did a different version of the fabric paint t-shirts with my kids (though certainly not uncommon). We would go for a walk and pick all sorts of interesting leaves. When we got home we’d paint the leaves, arrange them paint side down on the shirts and roll them with a rolling pin then carefully peel them up. They never ever got tired of making them. There’s a lot to be said for fabric paint. πŸ˜‰

  18. I think, that while Hank’s mom might be getting a gift, it is you and Hank who also got the presents. Smiles!

  19. Yer an example to us all — and given that I’m still fourteen rows short (each row is something like 273 sts/15 minutes if I don’t screw up) of a finished “David” scarf (hint: black on black in winter in a pattern which requires careful montoring which will blind you AND drive you crazy)… give these points I am deeply grateful I have no opportunity to follow your example.
    Still — Cosmos? You listening? Double her karma. People before things (even though the things are for people.)

  20. That is one of the best Christmas adventure stories I’ve heard! And everthing will work out for sure because you put people before things!
    Have a wonderful holiday.

  21. I have Love Today on my iPod for running.
    I tell you this so you know you’re not along! hehehe

  22. Dear Hank,
    Can you answer questions if you’re on the blog? We have some. We made our candy-covered house out of sugar cookie dough. Can we still call it a gingerbread house? Also, we got a picture frame and it was full of strangers, too. Are they maybe your family and you got ours? Because then we could switch.
    Merry Christmas from your friends,

  23. Sounds like a lovely day. And the sleeves will get done on time, or not, but a day like that can’t be given up for a sleeve. Merry Christmas!

  24. What fun! I would have enjoyed a day like that when I was 8 (or 38… like now)…
    I’m about a sleeve short on my Mom’s christmas sweater. When I told the Boy this he said “Just leave it and say it’s a sweater/vest” and then he kept repeating that for the rest of the phonecall. Apparently it was humorous to the non-timecrunched non-knitter. You can use if if necessary.

  25. Bread and Roses is Markus’ fave, they have the gingermen with the bright pink candy Elmo faces that turn your whole mouth and chin area pink for days.

  26. You two were very productive! What a great day!
    Next time on the subway with Hank, get into the FIRST car and look out the front window (yes, there is one)–it’s fascinating to see the stations coming into view, and to realize there are more ups and downs and interesting things to see than you realise when you are watching everything go by in a blur out the side windows…will induce “Matrix” flashbacks in those who have watched the movies repeatedly, though!

  27. A priceless day, and those are the most important of all. Not sure there’s a way to get more candy on the house, tho’. Merry Christmas to you and all of yours!

  28. Now you’ve done it. Now I’m missing my four boys when they were about Hank’s age, and the fun we had making things, and the things they’d discover, and the ideas they had. Now I miss the Christmas activities I did with my school kidlets. I wish it were possible to freeze dry kids to stay the way they are. (and not go through teenage years) Take the time you can get with Hank and treasure it. Now I’m going to look at the blue glass my youngest found and gave to me taped to a paper torn from somewhere, and the sweet message he wrote on it, along with the permission to call him by the pet name I had for him. I miss that little boy! Thankfully I have his little boy and his little girl to love and learn from!

  29. This is what the Holidays are all about. Not stuff, but family, friends, making memories. I bet when Hank is an old man, he will be telling his grandkids about the time he went Christmas shopping and rode the subway with his Aunt Steph. Merry Christmas!

  30. I bet I had more fun wondering what was going on over my head than you did.
    I live in Northern Virginia, right outside DC, and I used to work in Maryland (right outside DC).
    One night I was driving home down New York Avenue (in DC), and just before turning into the tunnel for 395, I heard a news report about someone who had a shotgun, and was firing at people right in front of the Capitol building.
    Then I got to turn into the tunnel and drive directly under the scene of the excitement wondering what was going on overhead.
    Living in the DC area is fun. I was in the hospital in DC once, and had a Senator walking around the hospital introducing himself and shaking people’s hands. He was there to visit someone in my ward.
    Holly (my daughter) lives downtown, and works very near the White House (I used to work in that area, too). It’s fun. They periodically block streets for diplomatic cavalcades and other assorted nonsense. Plus you get to see interesting people on the street.
    Do you mean to tell me you lived BEFORE there were cell phones?

  31. You made the right choice! Knitting, though I hate to admit it, wears out. Memories like this do not. You will cherish these memories as much as Hank will in the future! We always said we would never regret doing too much with our kids and I’ve always been grateful for that as they’ve grown up.
    Hank is truly adorable, but don’t tell him that. He’d be horrified. It’s okay to tell him he’s cool – and he is!

  32. I am 11 weeks pregnant with my first and am now all weepy thanks to you and your wonderful post! I cannot wait to do things like this with my own child. Or foist them off on my brothers for the day!
    Merry Christmas!

  33. OMGoodness, Hank *does* look like a young Harrison Ford! Look out world…
    And Hank, awesome job on the t-shirts! They are beautiful.
    Hank-time does not count against knitting deadline karma. It can’t.

  34. “People first, things second” was a favorite sermon topic for the pastor of a church I used to attend — not least because he felt he needed reminding from time to time, too.
    Besides, sleep is overrated. I’d definitely give up sleep for a chance to spend the day with a kid like Hank.

  35. My son is Hank’s age to within a few weeks so I know what a good age this is. He has managed to buy presents for us both with a bit of help from Gran, this is the first time he’s done his own wrapping up and it was very special.
    There is always knitting, there is Hank at 8 for such a little time.

  36. I love the comment about the picture frames – beautifully sensible as only a child can be. Your time with him was well spent, but then you know that.

  37. What a wonderful way to spend the day! Looks like you had loads of fun together. I’m still knitting Christmas gifts, and have told my darling husband that he may well get the yarn wrapped up if I don’t finish in time. He thinks I’m joking!! I am already planning a way to get ahead for next year! And I think I’ve got it sussed. I’ll let you know if I’m feeling all smug come December 2009! Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours. I’ve just taken your calendar out of its box all ready for 2009, and am resisting the temptation to take too many sneaky peeks and spoil the surprises.

  38. I lerve the fish t-shirt!
    hank is growing up; such a cutie!
    happy holidays to the yarn harlot and her family!

  39. Hank is so precious. LOVE! What an awesome day. I’m jealous. I was at work and now I’m ignoring the knitting that’s not done (since Chanukah started it’s already late, so when it gets done it’s done) so I can figure out Quickbooks (again, I do this every year) so i can bill clients and buy more fibre. πŸ˜‰

  40. Steph, you’re the best sort of Aunt, and it sounds like you’ll have the best sort of Christmas.
    In frantic knitter solidarity…

  41. I think I’m falling in love with Hank. Does he like older women?
    Cocoa and cookies aren’t junk food; they’re seasonal celebration food.
    The gingerbread house is too adorable to live.

  42. How cute is Hank?! That is one adorable kid. And the pay phone thing killed me. I think I’m the last person in the world (or in Canada at least) without a cell phone, and those payphones are sure becoming rare. It’s getting hard to keep in touch ;-0.

  43. Love the fish t-shirt. Love the Hank days.
    People before things, always, as long as the basic things people absolutely need are taken care of. With the wild winter weather in places, that has been a challenge for some lately. I’m very glad I’m where I am for this holiday. Hope everyone you love is in a good place, too.
    Merry Christmas.

  44. Aren’t 8 year olds wonderful? I have one myself and highly recommend spending time with one whenever you are stressed. Ours keeps us in stitches much of the time (except for today as she is sick with a cold — poor thing!)

  45. I love Hank. Can he be betrothed to my granddaughter now, even though she’s only two? (Sorry, too many Phillipa Gregory books about the Tudor era lately.)

  46. if my boys wind up half as cool & sharp as hank, i’ll consider it a job well done. it’s all that love y’all wrap him up in, i’m sure.
    and, as i always ask, has he taken up the needles any more, or is he still more enthralled with the ball winder?

  47. You must be the coolest aunt ever!! It sounds like a wonderful day and just what you needed (even though there was knitting to be done). Like you said – people before things. Have a very Merry Christmas.

  48. This sounds like a day in the true spirit of the holidays–which are, most of all, for children. I love kids at the “big teeth” stage. My DIL calls my granddaughter’s “can openers.” Hank’s show off a very handsome grin.

  49. I have an 8 year old boy, so I can use him for scale. That croissant is HUGE!
    I wish someone could take my son for a day and write about it. I’d probably learn a lot of interesting things!

  50. awwww! Hank, and all stories concerning him, are adorable. I can’t wait till my nephew is old enough to speak in complete sentences (mostly now he just says “blach!” and “grwlrlrlooo”).

  51. Hank is the best! You are second best for taking the day with Hank. Can’t get enought days like that. I used to have a young friend I’d take around before Christmas so she could present hunt. Of course, she moved away and did that grow up thing. She is 21 now, but I’d bet we’d still have a blast shopping around town.
    I always like postings of Hank. Please don’t stop. Love the t-shirts, too. Must remember if I ever get someone young in my life again.

  52. Thank you – I am one sock short but spent the day with my kids. People before things…yes!

  53. It always makes me happy when I get to read about Hank. I love Hank. And after spending hours wrapping gifts, and hours doing chores and errands, and no time at all spent knitting the scarf I want to have finished in time for Christmas, I really needed a little break to have a Hank story. I feel much, much better!
    BTW, I understand the bit about Gordon Ramsay. I could do with some Gordon in my house right about now… not necessarily in the kitchen, mind. I’d happily give up more knitting time for that.

  54. It’s been so much fun to watch Hank grow up on the blog. He’s really just about the cutest kid ever.
    And people before things – that’s a wonderful motto to live by, especially during the holiday madness.

  55. Can I just tell you how much I love that Hank? In about eight years can I set him up with my niece?

  56. I’m in love with Hank. I love him. Really. Are you sure you had to give him back at the end of the day? What a sweet cutie pie!

  57. Stephanie, you put it beautifully “people before things”.
    Merry Christmas et une bonne nouvelle anne’.
    p.s. My Christmas Cardi for the husband is not done nor will it be – I only have 4″ of each sleeve knit, and buttons yet to buy. But since he told me yesterday that he really doesn’t “need another sweater”, I’m not going to worry. I’m sick of stockinette anyhow.

  58. Go Hank! And Megan, too! Love love love this post of joy to the world. And I’m remembering my kids’ kindergarten teacher back in the day, who warned all parents on the first day of school that by the end of the school year she was going to know everything about them. Just so they knew. Heh.

  59. Thanks for putting things into perspective to relieve some of my own pre-holiday stress… PEOPLE FIRST! Putting the “stuff” on hold to take the college kid and her boyfriend out for a beer and burger (and hopefully some meaningful conversation) tonight! πŸ™‚

  60. The most lovely thing about visiting here is that there is so much life and joy, even when things aren’t going so well. Happy everything to all of you.

  61. Girl, you ALMOST make me want to move to Toronto! If only:
    A) the winter wasn’t so long
    B) the spring, summer & fall weren’t so short
    Guess that’s what I get for being of island extraction….NEVER gets below 60 degrees in Puerto Rico. Must be why it’s taken me so long to knit with wool (mostly a cotton/silk repetoire & stash).

  62. The Gordon Ramsay comment had me laughing out loud.
    There are worse things in life than an iPod filled only with songs by Mika.
    Merry Christmas, Paisley

  63. Is there any way to not love this post? I hope to have such a wonderful day someday with my niece and nephew.
    You are a great auntie. However, it is kind of easy to be a great auntie to a kid like Hank. πŸ˜€

  64. I have no idea what it is about Gordon that means he gets away with the swearing. I saw him live at the Good Food show the other year and the audience was full of the most proper, middle class, English ladies just lapping him up, expletives and all.
    btw, the popular theory over here is that all the swearing is due to Gordon’s secret concern that cookery isn’t really a “manly activity”.

  65. thanks for that. Seeing how cute an eight year old is in someone else’s eyes, I am reminded of how cute mine is.

  66. That sounds like the best day ever. I haven’t had a day like that since my boys were little – and that’s been a long time.
    Hank is a prince. Lucky you.

  67. ok, who is gordon ramsey? Is he on one of the food channels like rachel ray? (LOVE ms ray. she is one i hope to convert to my side and marry one day. gorgeous.)
    Sounds like you had a fun day. Florida is having a VERY weird “winter”. It’s kinda like the state is going through menopause. A few days it’s boiling and we have the air on b/c it’s 85 degrees, than it’s freezing cold and the heats on and I can’t pile the knitting on fast enough. I’m getting a little tired of it. I wish the stupid state would just pick a season already…. =^P
    Did you make Hank’s hat? It’s pretty neat.

  68. You definitely made the right choice for today. Hank is so cute and you have made an adorable eight year old boy feel very special and, most importantly, very loved. Great Choice!! I’ll bet Hank never forgets the memories and I’ll bet you won’t either. Merry Christmas to both of you!!

  69. I adored Hank’s account of raining frogs and the perils there of! What a lovly day you both had.

  70. I love Mika too, just discovered it/him a week or two ago. “Any Other World” is my current fave.
    Sounds like an awesome day!

  71. This just brought back so many memories, first of my children at that age and then my grandsons, makes me want to run out and find a child that age to spend some time with. I remember when my youngest son was that age and we were talking about when there was no such a thing as electricity and he looked at me and said…why did you not use a generator. Children find it hard enough to imagine living without cell phones etc. let alone no electricity. happy Knitting, have a great Christmas!

  72. Is it possible to take a bad picture of that kid. He and Megan look so much alike I thought she was his mum.

  73. I love that sweater! btw, when does the first episode of YH Knitting Nightmares air? Will you scream B^LL^CKS at the hapless airheads who can’t turn a heel? Make them scrub their dirty skeins before casting on? Get them new needle bags and reorganize them? I can’t WAIT!!!! (I suppose you’ve heard script ideas over beers and socks too many times already)!?

  74. Your time with Hank is the BEST present he could get this year. What fun! Besides, you’ve gotten MOST of that sweater knitted. You can check the sleeve length needed on the person after they try it on (unfinished), right?

  75. (reposted from my blog..!)
    ’twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land
    the knitters were knitting, needles in hand.
    The stockings were hung o’er the shower rod with care,
    in hopes that the wool would dry in the air.
    The sheep were nestled, all snug in their worlds,
    while visions of shearing ruffled their curls.
    And I with my sweater, all ready to tend,
    had just settled down to weave in the ends.
    When out on the ‘net there came such a loud chatter,
    that I opened my browser to see what was the matter,
    flew through the bloglines, and quick as a flash,
    clicked through to Ravelry and checked on my stash.
    The light from the screen on my new fallen wool,
    gave the lustre of midday to my stitches in full.
    When what should appear suddenly in the inbox,
    but a minature knitter on bicycle, and eight tiny socks.
    Her needles were shiny, so lovely and quick,
    that I knew ’twas the Yarn Harlot doing the work of St. Nick,
    More rapid than eagles her socks oh, they came,
    And she whistled and shouted, and called them by name!
    “Now worsted! Now laceweight! Now Tiptoe and Monkey,”
    “On Jaywalker, on slinky, on pooled and on funky!”
    “To the top of the pile, and away from the mall,”
    “Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”
    As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
    When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
    So up through the laptop the coursers they flew,
    With needles and stitches, and the Yarn Harlot, too.
    And then, in a twinkling, I heard on my mouse wheel,
    The prancing and pawing of each little heel.
    As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
    Down the modem the Harlot came with a bound.
    She was dressed all in wool, from her head to her foot,
    And her Clapotis was all tarnished with ashes and soot.
    A bundle of skeins she had flung on her back,
    all from Rhinebeck, all in her pack.
    Her eyes – how they twinkled! Her mittens – how merry!
    Her cheeks were like roses, her scarf red like cherry!
    Her droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
    And the yoke of her Bohus was even, each row.
    A shawl she had just knit with needles held tight in her grasp,
    and the edges were already drawn together with a clasp,
    it was made of Kidsilk haze in a dyelot of Jelly
    though the wool was still damp (and a tiny bit smelly)
    She was knitterly and knowledgeable, a right jolly elf
    and I said ‘I’ll learn to steek’ in spite of myself!
    And a wink of her eye and a twist of her head
    soon taught me that scissor’d stitches were nothing to dread.
    She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
    And knitted up stockings, then turned with a jerk.
    And laying her finger aside of her nose,
    And giving a nod, up the modem she rose!
    She sprang to her bicycle, to her socks gave a whistle,
    And all flew away like the down of a thistle.
    But I heard her exclaim, ‘ere she drove out of sight,
    “Donate to MSF, happy holidays; I’m going to knit through the night!”
    Merry Christmas, Stephanie!

  76. You are a sweet aunt and Hank is as cute as a button…but we won’t tell him that since 8 yr olds don’t like that kind of talk. πŸ™‚

  77. I am particularly fond of the way the fishy t-shirt has FISH!!! written on it, just in case you couldn’t work it out! πŸ™‚

  78. Oh, this kid is a *trip*!! What an incredibly fun time you must have with him! And yes, yes — people before things, every time.
    Happy Holidays!!!

  79. Wow. Hank does a better job on his Tee shirts than my 25yo daughter does! (Altho I’m looking forward to this years because it is the FIRST YEAR it’ll say “Grandma to Jackie” πŸ™‚
    And it sounds like you had a great day πŸ™‚ I got to hold a sick baby all day. Not only did I not get anything knitwise done, I nearly didn’t get dinner done (ovens work best when you turn them on.) Baby was more important.

  80. I don’t know which is cooler – Hank being the coolest nephew on the planet (besides my own, Auggie) or you being the coolest aunt on the planet. Seriously – I mean Hank has an aunt who spends time with him, crafts really cool stuff (like spiderman mittens) and in general does realy neat things. Will you be my aunt? (at least until I figure out how to cable and fair isle?) πŸ˜€

  81. Yes,indeed,people before things!And Hank is one of the two cutest boys in the world.(I have to include my own son in those ‘two’.He is just adorable.Not that I’m biased or anything…)Sounds like a wonderful day and quality time with the nephew is always priceless…

  82. Well, Hank is certainly a fine artist – I love the FISH shirt especially!
    Hoorah for you for taking a day to explore the underground wonders of Toronto and show Hank the dark ages of pay phones (did you tell him about always having to have a dime in your shoe in those olden days so you could call home if your date was a turkey?)
    Have a lovely holiday with your amazingly nifty family!

  83. Finally… a dose of Hank. Thank you. I felt like I was right there with you. Doing simple things like riding the subway and using a payphone are important. Merry Christmas Stephanie!

  84. Did the book “Tuesday” by David Wiesner have anything to do with the raining frogs conversation? We just read it again tonight and it will be one of my favorites forever. I saw the watercolors in person once and they were amazing.

  85. I’m so glad you’re posting again. That little dry spell nearly killed me. I broke my arm. Can’t knit. All I can do is buy yarn, and that gets expensive. Your blog may be my chief form of knitting related satisfaction for the next six weeks.

  86. Did you tell him there were no ipods, no mp3s, no cds, no dvds…? That would really freak the poor kid out. When I was a kid my mom told me that when she was growing up girls weren’t allowed to wear jeans to school. Ok, that still freaks me out. Heck, I wear jeans to work.

  87. You did a fabulous job of conveying 8 yr old boy to us. I no longer have one of those, and they are charming…especially the ones who belong to someone else!

  88. Merry Christmas! I have visited with you most days of the past year. I appreciate the knitting fun that you have given to me. Have a great new year. I look forward to sharing it with you.

  89. I am so glad you took the time to be with Hank. Sweet little boys are so much more important than things. Especially how he sees the world and shared it with you.
    Happy Holidays.

  90. What a great day with Hank. He just sounds like the greatest kid… I remember his joy over the hat you knit for his birthday……Monkey hat?
    Please, wrap up the gifts ON the knitting needles, and enjoy tomorrow, Christmas, and Boxing Day. People WILL understand, and LOVE the personal touch you have given each and everyone of them.

  91. That write-up was just wonderful. You HAVE to write a children’s book starring Hank and his trip with the Yarny Aunty.

  92. Do try to remember that you are included in the set of things described as “people”..?
    I wish you a joyous holiday of whatever flavour you choose.

  93. Thanks for the reminder: people before things! That can’t happen enough. It really helps when you can stay in the present. That’s why it’s called the present—a gift for forever.
    Knitting is for people, but it can wait.
    I, too, love Hank posts. What a wonderful memory in the making. Thanks for sharing.

  94. That nephew of yours seems like a neat little character! It looks like you guys had a really smashing day – I love the little comments about pay phones and Gordon Ramsay πŸ™‚
    Merry Christmas, Stephanie!
    (and try to get a little bit of sleep in, eh?)

  95. Hank is adorable! It’s great that you got to spend time with him. Those t-shirts are awesome.
    Do you actually eat the gingerbread house? Or are they just for display?

  96. oh cool; hank posts are my very favorite. he’s just getting cuter every month, how can you stand it?
    i loved spending time with my nephew when he was that age and he’s still one of my very favorite visitors at age 28. he told me last night that the times we spent together when he was a kid are some of his fondest memories.
    it’s totally worth it to ditch knitting for that.

  97. What a cute nephew. He looks even cuter when you have teenagers! So….thanks for the teenager comments. It makes me feel somewhat better! (I thought it was just my teen. Yikes!)
    De-lurking to tell you thanks for a great blog, that I enjoy more than you know!
    Merry Christmas!

  98. Hank is absolutley right – I can still see gingerbread on that house, ergo it needs more candy. Or icing. Possibly candy and icing.
    Merry Christmas!

  99. What a great day for you and Hank! I wish for a blessed and merry Christmas for you and all of you family, and blessings and peace for us all.

  100. What a wonderful Christmasy day. May we all have one-sleeved sweaters before a future Christmas. Thanks for sharing a beautiful day.

  101. Hank is right about it ‘raining frogs’ – Isabel Allende writes about it – in her case happening in tropical South America where they have whirlpools, hurricanes, water spouts that pick up things and then throw them down – I am sure it can ‘rain frogs’ in some parts of the world. In my literature class her writing is labelled ‘magical realism'(I think)

  102. This reminded me of a time when we moved to NM and were in our rental and the boy asked me to pause the TV so he could pee. I tried to explain that the rental TV didn’t have TiVo and he didn’t understand at all. What do you mean you can’t stop it!?!? Or like when I told him to record something and he didn’t understand until I said to TiVo it. *sigh*
    Happy Holidays to you and your family S!

  103. Steph- Wishing you & yours a blessed & very Merry-Merry Christmas!
    Hank- Nice job on the T-shirts!

  104. What a fabulous day! I have a five year old so I can totally relate. He helped me bake cookies and make a lime tart today. Oh and we watched Wall-e which he figured was a Christmas movie since he got it as a Christmas gift.
    I have told him that there won’t be as many Christmas gifts this year since noone has a lot of money. He just keeps telling me that “that is okay because Christmas is not about presents or decorations- just about having a good time with your family”….but he did wrap up a roll of nickles from his piggy bank and give it to his father as an early present-so just maybe we could buy him a gift. Too cute. Happy holidays Steph. Thanks for always making me smile.

  105. Haha. Honestly, I don’t really know what to do with little children, so I’m pretty impressed by your day. From my experience, there’s usually a meltdown of some sort with small children out in public. ^^;;

  106. *love* this post. with holiday shopping season in full swing, it was wonderful to be reminded that the best gift we can give is time together.

  107. Dear Stephanie,
    I am sitting here, at 2;57 in the morning of Xmas Eve and reading your blog. I am sure that you will not get to my comment anytime soon, what with all your knitting, family, Hank (my son is cuter than he is, but it’s OK πŸ™‚ and all the wonderful stuff you do. I am currently reading two of your books, Meditations and All I Learned and I do belive that bestselling in knitting humour counts as much as bestselling in genealogy (that would be me) or in Really Important Stuff about How the Church Messes Up with the Masses (that would be DaVinci and his code) or whatever the current megahit is [I read your blog from 2007 about the media not knowing how many of us there are]. So, anyway, if you ever get to this comment (like in October 2009) please remember that I wished you a merry Xmas and all the best in the year about to end (again!).
    PS. I had a bit of bubbly and am thinking about a friend who died earlier this evening. Bummer.
    PPS. I lived in TO for, like, forever, and now live in SteelTown. May be I saw you at some yarn stores in the 80s or early 90s. Or may be I am too old???
    PPPS. Have no idea where the “like”s are coming form. Must be the bubbles.

  108. I just love Hank appearances! What a doll! I love the picture of him and the package! So sweet! I’m glad you took a break for some fun!

  109. My sweatshirt, with the fabric paint hand and footprints from my kids is one of my treasured Christmas presents through the years. It is one of the few proofs I have that sonny boy (age 11) was indeed smaller than his two older sisters at one point in time. Now, I do not belief I could have one sweatshirt with all three sets of hands and feet. Sonny boy, also named Joe, is not the the size of your Joe, yet, but he is working hard at getting there! Totally seems like an appropriate way to get off schedule.

  110. What a perfect day.
    All the important things covered!
    Wishing you & your family a very happy Christmas.

  111. I love Hank. You’ve got to borrow him more. I’m hoping my 2 and 4 year olds will grow up into sort of real people like him, instead of being screaming little monsters. (Yeah, it’s Christmas Eve in Finland. Yeah, mom is a bit tired today.)

  112. Out of the mouths of babes…. I love Hank. I also love your posts about him.
    And a very merry Christmas to you and yours.

  113. What a great little guy! Love the Gordon Ramsay bit :D…money and ‘things’ can never replace what you and Hank got from the day! Merry Christmas >^..^<

  114. Oh thank you for the wonderful post about your outing with Hank!! It’s wonderful and makes me a little nostalgic. The nephews that I used to do things like that with are all grown up. Well, really close to grown up. Graduating high school and all that. My youngest niece and nephew, who are just a little younger than Hank, live a thousand miles away. Sigh! My son has always treasured days like the one you had with Hank. From the time he was very little he used to say to me (or whoever he was with who was willing to listen) “I think we should make a memory today.” I’ve always loved that, even though I have no idea who he picked it up from LOL! It’s rubbed off onto quite a few family members (and assorted teachers, friends, and classmates) over the years. Thanks for reminding me of the joy and enchantment of nephews and nieces. It was a wonderful and most appreciated Christmas present, even if I’m not on your list!
    PS: I would have so totally lost it in the bookstore. One of the great things about kids is their lack of verbal censorship. Just as long as you aren’t the one they’re talking about, it’s a riot! Please tell Hank that those T-shirts are totally cool and I’m with him on the amount of candy on a gingerbread house.

  115. I love Hank posts! He’s funny, charming and seems like a delight to be around. And that is one heck of a gingerbread house! Way to go, Hank!

  116. The Henry scarf (not David — when you’re panicking they all look the same) is, for the record, perfectly FINE (i.e. five and a half inches wide) at three … um, two and a half repetitions rather than the SEVEN the pattern calls for. A scarf is not a blanket.
    Now to bind off. Hope you got enough sleep for tomorrow to be joyful. Exhaustion can be a high, but it would be nice if your eyes focussed. And a reminder to everyone that the Red Cross does a blood drive today and you can do a good deed flat on your back.
    Merry and Happy.

  117. You are a very good Aunt – but we already knew that. Good for you for putting your knitting aside in order to spend such a quality day with Hank. Hope you got some sleep!

  118. Which explains why, when I’m in a full blown case of IT, my family and I went cruising the streets looking for Christmas lights tonight.
    As you say, totally worth it:-)

  119. That was a great post – and just what I needed. Made my day. Very funny, very touching, and humbling too.
    Yep, when I was a his age we didn’t have cell phones – and Pluto was a planet. It’s a new generation, a new world, a new universe even. And now we get to see it all through their eyes as they learn from us as well. How lucky we both are for that exchange.
    All my love to you and your family.
    Happy Holidays.
    ~ Suzanne

  120. “People before things….” I thought the same thing as I opted to have dinner and shopping last night with my friend’s daughter (basically niece) and her 3 month old daughter. Definitely the right thing to do, though I may be up all night tonight finishing Isabelle’s Baby’s First Christmas stocking. It was going to be last night’s project but well, I have another day before it’s “due”.
    Hank and the pay phone….priceless. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  121. Merry Christmas Stephanie! Thank you for the gift you give nearly every day–your blog posts. I quote them and they never stop entertaining me. People around me might be tired of hearing about you, but I never am. A new post always starts my day off on a nice direction. Have a great holiday!

  122. What a fabulous day you two had! It sends my mind back 15 years when I was lucky enough to spend “secret days” with my nephews. Now the grandchildren are almost old enough to spend a day away with Oma.
    I wish you and your family a holiday full of love, hope, good health, and peace! VREDE en VREUGDE L

  123. I’m so glad you chose to spend the day with Hank (and even happier you chose to share it with us.) I too love reading about Hank’s adventures and insights. He really is a neat kid. You have a clever nephew to go along with your bright daughters; it must really keep you and Joe on your toes. Thanks for sharing your family with us and have a happy holiday.

  124. Great choice, Steph. Hank will be different today than yesterday. Small changes that add up way too fast and then he’ll be a teenager. Gulp! It seems he’s growing way too fast as it is. I agree, how did he become 8. I miss those days with my niece. Now it’s all texting and boys.

  125. Hi Stephanie…what a wonderful gift for Hank and you! Looks like you had a fun filled day.
    I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

  126. When I rode the subways in Chicago I had to work hard to get in the first car – front seat facing forward – and then you can see the tracks and the tunnels and all the fun underground stuff. That was at 40+ years of age – some excitement never wears off! It didn’t dawn on me that the last car could be fun, too. I’ll try it next time I’m in town! Thanks! (And Merry Christmas!)

  127. You are a fine, fine Aunt. I wish I had had more patience for my niece and nephew at that age. (I was a snotty twenty-something who thought that children were little aliens.) Now that I have one of my own little alien my outlook has completely changed. It’s amazing what they have to offer.
    Best wishes for a merry holiday!

  128. Hank is adorable and he’s getting so big! Spending the day with an eight year old can be very entertaining. Sounds like you both had a nice time together and I’m sure Erin made good use of having the day to herself.
    I wish all a very Merry Christmas!

  129. That sounds like a great way to spend a day! And it is good to take a break from the knitting even if you can’t stay on schedule that way!

  130. wow, is he ever adorable! sounds like you guys had a really fun day πŸ˜€ the gordan ramsey comment made me actually laugh out loud. too funny. πŸ™‚

  131. You have your priorities straight. My Pop told me, when I had the first baby “Your floor will still be dirty tomorrow, but your baby will be too busy for a hug. Sit down, and hug him NOW.” I’ve found it to be so true. Hank won’t be 8 next year, so if the knitting isn’t done, will there you go. That’s life.

  132. I’d have to agree that a day with Hank is well worth sacrificing a day of knitting. I hope that you & your family have a wonderful Christmas day.

  133. That is one awesome kid. And “people before things” is sort of my New Year’s Resolution…to spend money on experiences, not things. Thanks for the genuine holiday cheer, and good luck with the last bit of knitting!

  134. What a handsome young man Hank is,and what a precious gift you gave him by spending time with him. good for you . Time spent with those we love and care for is the BEST gift of all. All the very best wishes to you and all your loved ones.

  135. Thanks!! I’ve read it through now several times and my eyes are still misty. What a fabulous memory for both of you.

  136. Thanks for this post. I had already taken much from it but when my DD got sick through the early am of christmas eve I was able to calm down, give up on tidying the house, sit with her, (knit!), and be much calmer than I usually am on christmas eve anyway.
    May the holidays and 2009 bring you much joy.

  137. Love that Hank. Smart kid.
    You are the bestest aunt in the world.
    That story made me miss my nephews…they live in Germany, I’m in the US. πŸ™
    Merry Christmas to all of you wonderful people.

  138. May you and yours have a safe and Blessed Holiday.
    Thank you for sharing them with us during the past year.

  139. May you and yours have a safe and Blessed Holiday.
    Thank you for sharing them with us during the past year.

  140. Merry Christmas Steph. Thank you for making drinks come out of my nose. Your humour is rare and ever so cool. I wish you and yours the best for the new year. Cara

  141. A happy Christmas Eve to all!
    Hank will never, ever forget the gift of a day with Aunt Stephanie when he was eight and found out about life before cell phones.

  142. What a fine and righteous day. You’ll catch up on your knitapalooza–that’s what coffee is for! Thanks for letting us come along with you.

  143. Such a cutie pie! He alone is almost a match for our World’s Cutest Nieces, and there are three of them. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  144. My kids need an aunt like you! That’s a wonderful way to spend a day. And then looking at the sweater…it looks like it could fit that 8 yo. Merry Christmas.

  145. This post just worked for me on so many levels. I can’t wait until my niece (who, incidentally, will receive a one-armed sweater tonight) is old enough to have days like this. And I totally get Erin’s take on Gordon. (sigh.)
    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Stephanie.

  146. I don’t usually comment, because you get several zillion. But this one made me happy for Hank and for you, Stephanie. Happy Solstice/Merry Christmas!

  147. I really loved reading this post! I think Hank is the greatest and I love that you spent the day hanging with him and the other fam and put the deadlines aside!! Merry Christmas! πŸ™‚ Erica

  148. You surely do have your priorities straight. Thank you for sharing your day with Hank. It brought back so many fond memories of my children at that age. Eight really is great!
    Merry Christmas!

  149. Kids sure bring out the magic of this time of the year, don’t they? And it sounds like Hank is a wizard worthy of Hogwarts. What fun!
    Thank you both for making me laugh out loud on the streetcar and sharing some of that Christmas magic with me.
    Happy Christmas to you all and your loved ones!
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m rather behind on a scarf that Santa has to deliver….

  150. “The only thing she doesn’t like about Gordon Ramsay is his wife and kids.”
    BAH! How did you NOT pee your pants?
    Oh, that Hank. He’s a cheeky one!

  151. Oh my gosh, Hank is so ever-lovin’ CUTE!! And clever too.
    My little boy thinks our gingerbread house will make a great dessert too. Can’t wait to see him attempt to bite into a chunk. πŸ™‚

  152. Hank = awesomeness. What a great day you two had, and what a great gift to Hank’s mom (a little time before Christmas)

  153. I imagine Hank will remember the day for a long time… Sounded lovely; and you’ve obviously still got your priorities straight among the Christmas madness!

  154. Dear Hank:
    When I was eight years old, it rained frogs in the suburb of Houston where I lived.
    I can’t rightly speak to the lethality of frogs, since I don’t remember any news reports of people being killed by falling frogs or pure shock and our mothers wouldn’t let us out in the frog rain to test the theory ourselves.
    I can tell you there is science behind it… something to do with the right amount of drought happening at the right time so frog eggs can evaporate up into the clouds, then it has to stay just warm enough (and stuff about air currents and weather things I don’t know much about) for frog eggs to hatch in the clouds.
    Then they fall.
    Guess what… they survive that fall! At least a lot of them do.
    Once it stopped raining and our mothers let us out again, we spent the rest of the afternoon seeing how many frogs we could hold in our hands at one time.
    I think the record was 32.
    A late Merry Christmas, Hank. Nephews are the best.

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