Monday, June 29, 2009

I Blink, He's Five

1 year ago, you needed training wheels; today, you fly.
2 years ago, you were the only; today, you are a loving teacher.
3 years ago, you were a nursling; today, you are an adventurer.
4 years ago, you knew words; today, you know a language.
5 years ago, you were born; today, we celebrate who you are.

Happy Birthday, Big B. Thank your soul for choosing our family.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Color Walk :: Black

A morning color walk with cousins is the best. Big L and little l are in town for Big B's birthday, and we set off this morning for adventure. Each big kid chose a different color, so we diplomatically played a guessing game to determine the 'winner'--and Big L came out on top, choosing BLACK. A great start to the last day of Big B's fourth year!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Safe Motherhood Quilt: Quilting Gallery Guest Post

I am honored to have been featured as a guest blogger on today's Quilting Gallery blog, discussing The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project. Please visit the Gallery and read more about the project and how you can get involved.

I have followed the Gallery's blog since beginning my own, and am hopeful that their wide readership will draw attention--and volunteers--to this important and amazing effort.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Color Walk :: Silver and Gold

It was such a bright afternoon today, we decided to hunt for shiny treasures of SILVER and GOLD. Along the way we stopped and visited old neighbors, and met new ones--including one that invited us to a party, and one that might just be Big B's Kindergarten teacher. Have I mentioned that we live in a GREAT neighborhood?

"Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold."
--from the traditional Girl Scout song

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Mesic Hammock: Our Secret World

Tucked away behind a parking lot, which is tucked away behind a community park, which is tucked away behind a quaint, quiet neighborhood, a small footbridge leads us into a magical land. There, a native Mesic Hammock transforms us into warriors, into Narnians, into brave woodspeople, charged with navigating a labyrinth of secret trails.
We climb root stairways and inspect fairy houses. We cross creeks by log bridge and seek treasure along the way.
If we conquer the labyrinth, we are rewarded with brilliantly picturesque stages on which to play, accompanied by choirs of insects, birds, and the most fantastic imaginary creatures.
"She looked back over her shoulder
and there, between the dark tree trunks,
she could see the open doorway
of the wardrobe..."
--C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day: Silhouette Painting

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.
Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”
--Author unknown

Papa is a constant teacher by example, instilling respect, laughter, and love into our boys every day. Big B and little b simply radiate at the sound of his truck pulling into our driveway. He is our pater familias, our strength, a wonderful partner and a really, really good dad. I am beyond grateful, today and every single day since Big B's birth (almost five years ago!), that he is the father of my children.

We made some art to capture the faces of Papa's boys for this particularly special Father's Day.

MATERIALS: Printed profile photo(s), pencil, trace paper, clear contact paper, scotch tape, scissors, watercolor paper, watercolor paints, paintbrushes

STEP ONE: Using trace paper and pencil, trace profiles
STEP TWO: Tape the outlines onto front of clear contact paper
STEP THREE: Cut outlines
STEP FOUR: Peel contact paper off of back and position outlines onto watercolor paper as desiredSTEP FIVE: PAINT!STEP SIX: Allow paint to dry, then peel away contact paper for your silhouette painting!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Project Update: Safe Motherhood Quilt

The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is well underway. Several names have been assigned to the quilters who have lovingly volunteered to participate in this important project. Thank you.

In watching these squares come together and cataloging how each mother died, Ina May Gaskin noticed a very large number of women who suffered from Amniotic Fluid Embolism. Moreover, a majority of these women were induced with Cytotec, or another form of artificial oxytocin. Cytotec is a drug that was never approved by the FDA for this purpose.

Ina May would like us to create a quilt honoring these women specifically. Many of the names on this list already have squares in the larger Safe Motherhood Quilt Project; this one will be devoted just to AFE deaths. I am beyond honored to create a second square for Tatia Malika Oden French, whose mother I have worked with on a committee to try and increase awareness about patients' rights to informed consent and refusal.

Each of these women has a story. Please read it. If you would like to create a square in honor of one of them, please email me or post a comment on this thread. Together we can begin to raise visual awareness that women are dying unnecessarily, right here in our American hospitals.

1. Janet Spiess
Age 26
Died in Aurora, Illinois
September 16, 1985

2. Denise Puckett - Quilter: Denise Lange
Age 37
Died October 1, 1998
Dallas, Georgia

3. Sofia Rangel - Quilter: Rose
Age 18
Died February 27, 1985
El Paso, Texas

4. Jennifer Lynn Knutson
Age 36
Died April 3, 1998
Orange, California

5. Margaret O'Connor
Died January 28, 1997
Portland, Oregon

6. Gwyneth Vives - Quilter: Marcy Tracy
Age 36
Died December 21, 2001
Santa Fe, New Mexico

7. Darlene Morton - Quilter: Marianne Ogg
Age 32
Died March 9, 1998
New Haven, Connecticut

8. Tatia Malika Oden French - Quilter: Kangaroo
Age 32
Died December 28, 2001
Oakland, California Baby Zorah died with her.

9. Lindsay Michelle King - Quilter: Mell Fraze
Age 18
Died May 6, 2000
Columbia, South Carolina Her baby died with her.

10. Jill Heiman
Age 41
Died December 31, 1991
Eugene, Oregon

11. Suzette McGinnis-Gorman - Quilter: Danielle Damen
Age 37
Died August 28, 2003
Santa Cruz, California

12. Lynne Saiter
Age 30
Died December 14, 1999
Walton, New York

13. Diana Benefield Mateo
Age 40
Died January 18, 2004
Murphy, North Carolina

14. Shannon Stevens
Age 25
Died March 11, 2004
Waco, Texas

15. Bethany K. Joyal
Age 22
Died July 7, 2005
Rochester, New Hampshire

16. Aria Rae Ruggles
Age 24
Died July 26, 2007
Voorhees, New Jersey

17. Randi Madnick
Age 34
Died June 17, 2007
Boynton Beach, Florida

18. Wendy Lee Bassett - Quilter: Marianne Ogg
Age 42
Died April 28, 2008
Rockville, Maryland

19. Pamela Jean Young Lippert - Quilter: Kangaroo
Age 26
Died July 18, 2007
Rocky Mount, Virginia

20. Susan Goodrich - Quilter: Danielle Damen
Age 46
January 11, 2008
Marquette, Michigan

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Creating an Outdoor Classroom : Day 3

Day three of our outdoor classroom creation. Time to introduce some plant life.

We've had good luck in the past attracting Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars to parsley, so we decided to invite them back. We created a simple herb box from an old cookie cutter tin with holes poked in the bottom. Big B planted the parsley with some family-favorite-basil. I hope to see caterpillars soon.
I feel so lucky that our boys can watch caterpillars morph into butterflies.
Taking a walk in our backyard, we discovered many new tangerines and a few lone mangoes clinging to our old tree.
I feel so lucky that our boys can watch fruit ripen and fall, and give way to new flowers and new fruits next year.
To create a fluffy green for centerpiece for our little learning garden, we finally dusted off the Chia Tree that Noni gave Big B for Christmas a couple of years ago. We soaked the little clay pot and the seeds, and we will plant them tomorrow.
I feel so lucky that our boys can watch seeds sprout and grow into things much greater than themselves. (Ch-ch-ch-chia Seeds A-Soaking)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Creating an Outdoor Classroom : Day 2

We spent almost the entire morning in our developing outdoor classroom. The find of the day came from right next door: our wonderful neighbors were discarding an old toy bin storage system, with just one broken rail and a few missing bins. Perfect for an outdoor organization station. We started filling it with bug collecting gear, chalk, and various water table supplies.Our outdoor music station began taking shape today, as we collected all of the 'drums' we could find from the garage and backyard, exploring the tones they produced. We also found lids to two old dutch ovens, perfect for cymbals to accompany the drums. (I'm sure the neighbors agree...)And of course, more water table action today, this time with the inclusion of spray bottles, play sand, and ice cubes. The boys played outside nearly all morning, enjoying the summer sun, the new (but almost entirely recycled) play space, and being with each other.
"Help your brother's boat across,
and your own will reach the shore."
~Hindu Proverb

Monday, June 15, 2009

Creating an Outdoor Classroom : Day 1

For the past three summers, I have wanted to take advantage of the daily outdoor play that this season brings by creating an outdoor classroom. I envision an environment that is attractive to my boys and provides opportunities for imaginative, messy, exploratory play.

Today we got started by decorating our backyard entrances with a great new discovery: Crayola Washable Window Markers!We also cleaned up the water table--an excellent yard sale find--and filled it with soapy water, measuring cups, and shells of all shapes and sizes.
Extra Credit: On the way home from the grocery store, we saw this easel on the side of the road! A bit weathered but the perfect addition to our new creative space.
Here's the June 2009 edition of The Write Connection, issued by the Mississippi Forum on Children and Families. A great monthly resource for ideas in your own outdoor classroom.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Color Walk :: Orange

After a hot summer morning at the beach, we took a hot summer afternoon walk to the duck pond, and the color choice was unanimous: ORANGE. This may be my personal favorite so far!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Project Update: The Safe Motherhood Quilt

I received in the mail today the first square from a growing list of quilters who have found The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project through my blog. Marianne Ogg is a young mother who has been quilting for 20 years, and it shows, through her craftsmanship and perfect piecing. Thank you, Marianne, for becoming involved in this project. I have added your name to a sidebar that I hope will continue to grow as we help Ina May Gaskin bring awareness to American maternal mortality.

The mother Marianne honored in her beautiful quilt square was Kerry Martin, 34, the wife of Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin. Two days after her death on May 25, 2009, Kerry's infant son Austin died in Dean's arms. Marianne chose the background fabric for the square because it reminded her of water, and Kerry was involved in promoting youth swimming programs.

Note: I understand that these posts might be uncomfortable to read, and that they do not interject the same brightness that I shoot for with other posts. But the forum that this blog provides to connect me with the quilting world is unmatched, and I care so much about this project, that I feel it is appropriate to take advantage of their intersection. To learn more about American maternal mortality, please visit The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project.

Our First Date: UP

This afternoon, Papa and I took Big B on our first 'date' since little b was born, almost a year and a half ago. We have been wanting to spend this kind of afternoon with him for quite some time. He is fulfilling all of the childhood cliches we've all heard too often: growing too fast, before you know it, in the blink of an eye, etc. So this afternoon, while Grammy and Papu played with little b in the mall (thank you!), Papa and I treated Big B to popcorn, candy, and the new Disney Pixar film UP in 3-D.

It was fabulous. Sad and sweet, funny and meaningful, I think the film had an effect on all of us. During one bathroom break, Big B and I were holding hands and running to miss as little as possible, and he said, unprompted, "This is a really good movie, mom. Thank you for taking me to it." You're welcome, my boy. Anytime. May your Spirit of Adventure fly high, and may our boring moments be remembered. Always.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Color Walk :: Red

Mimi is in town! Big B, always the consummate host, offered her the selection for yesterday's color walk. Mimi told him that one of her favorite colors is, and has always been, RED. Very fitting for a hot June Florida afternoon!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hawaii 5-0, Where Are You?

Last June, Big B and I started our quest. We made a list of all fifty states and kept it in the car. One by one, we checked off license plates. We saw many at first, then one every few days, and then every few weeks... As our list became smaller, our excitement grew bigger. Seeing those elusive last few states--Wyoming, Oregon, Alaska, Oklahoma--would literally make our day. Now, just a few weeks before the one-year anniversary of our quest's beginning, we have only one state left to find.


I know there must be at least one family who has decided to move to the Sunshine State, shipped their car here, and hasn't switched plates yet. Come one, just one? Where are you, Hawaii?


EDITED JUNE 10, 2009: We found Hawaii today! Right after I picked Big B up from preschool, there it was, on a residential street...just passed right by us! We were so giddy: Big B said, "I don't even know what to think, mom!" We found all fifty states in just under a year. I'm sure it can be done more quickly. Care to try?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dome Fresh Eggs

Aside from the memories of time spent with family, playing in the country, and connecting with old friends, we left the North Florida woods last weekend with a tangible treat--actually, seven tangible treats--fresh eggs from the dome chickens.Just outside the dome-sweet-dome where Aunt S, Uncle S, Big L and little l live, eleven chickens present them with fresh eggs every day (except the rooster, the two funky chickens, and the one brooding mama hen).Big B and little b love the daily ritual that occurs there, inspecting the coop for eggs like seekers on a treasure hunt. Many of my friends and Papa's family are familiar with the taste of fresh eggs, but this is a relatively new indulgence for me. It is something very special. The morning after these seven were collected, we made simple turkey-cheddar omelets for breakfast. They were easily the most delicious I've ever tasted.
"Love and eggs are best when they are fresh."
-Russian Proverb

Monday, June 1, 2009

Road Trip Fun: I Spy Bottles

Big B is a master of all things I Spy. Where's Waldo, Hidden Pictures, and I Spy books have always piqued his interest. So in preparation for our trip to North Florida this past weekend, I made him and little b the road trip version of this popular game: their own I Spy Bottles.

MATERIALS: durable plastic bottle with tight fitting lid, glue, trinkets smaller than diameter of opening, birdseed / rice / oats, paper, pen or printer, scotch or packing tape

STEP ONE: Wash the bottle thoroughly, and remove the label and all sticky residue (I used Goo Gone). Make sure there is no moisture remaining in the bottle before filling.
STEP TWO: Raid your toy bins, baskets, junk drawers, etc. and collect whatever trinkets you can find, smaller than the mouth of the bottle. Within about ten minutes, I had quite a collection:

popsicle stick
large striped wooden bead
2 bottlecaps
a go-fish fish
empty keyring
wooden screw
green heart
blue heart
yellow heart
pen cap
2 hungry hungry hippo balls
silver star
tiny cookie cutter
small rubber band
2 puzzle pieces
gold and silver beads
2 'B' beads
long white plastic bead
long pink plastic bead
purple butterfly
piece of yarn

STEP THREE: Put the trinkets into the bottle, keeping a running list of what you've put in.
STEP FOUR: Using a funnel or rolled up sheet of paper, pour the birdseed, oats, or rice into the bottle. Leave enough open space for the spy-er to shake the bottle and move the objects around--for ours, this meant filling up to about the base of the bottleneck.
STEP FIVE: Apply strong glue to the lid and screw on tightly.
STEP SIX: Print label and tape onto bottle, or print onto cardstock, punch a hole in the corner and tie onto the neck with ribbon, etc.
LESSONS LEARNED: I used scotch tape for the labels, and little b removed his instantly. Clear packing tape would have worked much better. Although the birdseed offers a great textural / colorful palette, it tends to leave a dusty residue on the objects hidden within...not so helpful when color is a key clue. I found this tutorial that suggests multi-colored rice, which we'll use next time. And there will be a next time, because I think this would make a fantastic birthday gift. Perhaps the best lesson of this project was that it offers a great opportunity to rid your house of those lost objects that don't quite fit in. Now they do!