Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Feet

Today presented our family with a mixed bag of energies. Big B, healthy and strong as an ox, was exhibiting his intense spirit to the fullest, and in need of a physical outlet. Little b, under the weather a bit, needed to be held close and to play quietly. After a challenging morning trying to please this dichotomy, the afternoon unfolded beautifully, with nothing more than a hose, some water balloons, chalk, and our own backyard. We played for hours. We completed intense Jedi knight training. We made rivers, streams, mountains and valleys. We filled water balloons and crashed them against many different things. We drew names, hands, and bodies with chalk. And everyone was happy.

After four happy little feet had stomped through balloons, through water, through dirt, grass and mud, through rivers, whirlpools, and imaginary lands......they were carried inside, into a long bubbly bath, followed by clean, warm snuggly storytime.
“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance;
the wise grows it under his feet.”
--James Oppenheim

Color Walk :: Aqua

We have been holding out for an on-location purple walk, but this morning's incredible summer heat inspired an unexpected choice from Big B: swimming pool AQUA!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yard Sale Score: The Perfect Lamp

On the way home from a quick road trip yesterday, Big B, little b and I saw a hand-painted, funky yard sale sign one block south of our street. I had a good feeling about this one.

Because it was late in the afternoon, the sweet family hosting the sale had reduced their prices in half. I scored this lamp for only $5. The photos do not do the color matching justice, but the print matches my bedroom walls (Benjamin Moore 'Timothy Straw') perfectly.This is a great addition to our bedroom, and with the fabrics I've chosen for our new king-sized stacked coins quilt, I hope to up the grown-up factor in our marital suite and create a romantic, calm atmosphere at the end of our very busy days.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gratitude Beads

Last night was a very powerful New Moon. The moon remained in Cancer and coincided with the longest solar eclipse of the century, said to be a time for a great shift, for deep compassion, and for new beginnings. At last night's New Moon Circle we decided to signify this by creating Gratitude Beads.

After many Mother Blessings and kids' beading sessions, my bead supply has dwindled to almost nothing. So on Saturday morning, Papa and I took the boys on a yard sale expedition, after which I was planning a trip to the bead store. That proved unnecessary. I found a beautiful collection of beaded necklaces, mostly handmade, at a yard sale held by a woman I suspect was going through chemotherapy. As I picked through her beads, gravitating naturally toward a color palette, I immediately felt grateful: for my health, for my family waiting in the car while I thrifted, for my neighborhood, and for unexpected treasure.

Little b thought my choices were beautiful.As we gathered last night, thousands of people across the world were gathering as well, drawn to the power of the total solar eclipse."A roar went up at the ghats as people gasped and screamed in awe. Some stared in stunned silence while others shook hands with total strangers in fits of joy. The city was suddenly clothed in a surreal glow of faint light that was eerie, exhilarating and nothing like most had ever seen before." --The Times of India
At our own smaller circle, our table-o'-ju-ju was replaced by beading supplies as we moved from sacred ritual to mindful crafting.
Inspired by the ideas of Rose and Mama Bird, I placed 28 beads on a leather cord (to represent the lunar cycle), and anchored them with one perfect circle. Everyone's beads are so beautiful, collectively and individually. I will carry my beads and count my blessings daily.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Snip and Snail, The Interview? WOW!

Starr Weems de Graffenreid is a teacher, artist, educational activity designer, and the author of Teach Your Child Spanish Through Play and Brain Child. She is also a writer for the Huntsville Education Activites Examiner, and she found my blog when she was doing a story on color walks. When she contacted me asking for an interview to be included in a series of articles on 'inspirational children's activity bloggers,' I was floored!

This blog has proved a worthy outlet for not only creativity but accountability, to being grateful, to finding time to create and appreciate beauty, and to being the kind of attentive mother I know my boys deserve. And while I am so pleased that others in the blogosphere come to visit, I never would have thought I would be called 'inspirational.' So this feature is a real honor of the most unexpected kind.

Here is Starr's feature of Snip and Snail.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Emergency Activity: Backyard Car Wash

Sometimes, there are situations that require emergency activities to keep little ones occupied. Yesterday one such situation arose. I needed silence for a telephone meeting that was set to last about ten minutes. So about five minutes before the meeting, I emptied the biggest rubbermaid container in the house, squirted some baby shampoo in it, and turned on the hose.

Big B helped me line up the vehicles waiting for little b's 'car wash,' and little b was primed and ready with a sponge and washcloth. Mission Emergency Activity: successful!

Summer Knits: Heads Up on Infant Mortality

I haven't felt the urge to knit in months. It's hot. It's humid. Almost sticky, Florida summer heat. But when I saw Orlando midwife Jennie Joseph's campaign to raise awareness about infant mortality in the United States, I knew it was time to pick up the needles. I cast on 64 stitches and alternated knit and purl rows for about an inch, creating a garter stitch. I switched to stockinette until the hat measured about 4", then began my decrease, K8, K2TOG, then K7, K2TOG, etc.

If you have the itch to knit for a good cause, please knit a simple baby hat and mail it to:
The Birth Place
1130 E. Plant Street
Winter Garden, Florida 34787

Jennie's goal is to collect 1,687 hats by September, which is National Infant Mortality Month. 1,687 represents the number of babies that died in Florida in 2007 alone.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Farm Fresh Peach Fritters

Today just felt like an adventurous day. A morning photo shoot with Noni reminded me of a part of town I hadn't visited in a while, in particular an off-the-beaten-path local farm and produce stand. I told Big B we were going on a treasure hunt to try and find it (I sort of remembered where it was) and we headed north.

We found it. The kids had such a great time chasing the chickens (who gave us a dozen eggs, thank you ladies) while I picked out a mess of produce and other farm delights. The boys chose a watermelon and some zucchini for muffins,I picked some of the fattest, juciest tomatoes I've seen in months, and we brought Papa home a pint of Cajun style home-boiled peanuts, his favorite.
But by far the find of the day was a gorgeous pound of peaches. Just look at these.Coincidentally, Big B and his class made apple fritters today at his preschool, during their 'food week.' I have never attempted making a fritter of any kind, but combine a five-year-old's excitement over the word 'fritter' with these perfect peaches, and you have kismet in the kitchen. We read several fritter recipes (it truly is a great word) for inspiration and created our own concoction. And I must say, they tasted really, really good.

1 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 egg, beaten (farm fresh-yum)
1/3 c. buttermilk
4 fresh peaches, chopped
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a large bowl.
Combine egg, buttermilk and melted butter, and add to dry ingredients; mix just until moistened. Gently stir in peaches.
Heat about 1/2 tbsp. of the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drop fritter-batter (an even better word) by large tablespoonfuls into the skillet. Flip once, and fry slowly until golden brown.Combine powdered sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over fritters. Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yard Sale Score: Tangled Up in Blue

Few surprises make me happier than finding that perfect treasure at an always-unexpected Friday yard sale. I believe it's because we never intentionally set out on yard sale expeditions on Fridays--only Saturdays--so the discovery is not hindered by anyone's expectations. It's as pure a treat as there is.

On the way to pick up Big B from preschool this morning, little b and I veered slightly off course and found this blue canopy for $5. So. Much. Fun.
This must have been a sign of things to come, for no sooner had we collected Big B did we spy another yard sale, at which we scored fourteen children's books in pristine condition, a brand new Cranium game, and some flashcards that will be absolutely perfect for tomorrow's family reunion road trip. Ah, the Friday yard sale...the makings of a splendid afternoon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Project Update: Safe Motherhood Quilt

Last night was the Full Moon in Capricorn. According to astrologist Lisa Dale Miller, this Full Moon exemplifies perseverance, as Saturn (ruler of Capricorn) is "the great teacher of how to handle hardship, struggle and reality, with commitment, follow-through and guts." No one could personify this spirit better than Maddy Oden.

Maddy Oden is the mother of Tatia Malika Oden French. In December 2001, Tatia entered a well-known and well-respected hospital to deliver her first child. She was 32 years old, in perfect health, and looking forward to a natural, unassisted childbirth. There were no problems during the pregnancy. According to her doctor's calculations, she was a little under 2 weeks overdue. She was given the drug Cytotec to induce her labor. Cytotec, also known as Misoprostol, is a drug manufactured to treat ulcers. It is NOT approved by the FDA, or the drug company, to induce labor. Ten hours after being administered Cytotec, Tatia suffered hyper-stimulation of her uterus, an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) was released, and an emergency C-Section was performed because the baby was also in distress. Both Tatia and her baby, Zorah Allie Mae French, died in the operating room.
Maddy channeled her unbelievable grief into years of hard work, and in 2003, The Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation, a non-profit corporation, was formed to give women of childbearing age complete information concerning medical interventions and drugs which are administered during childbirth.

I spoke with Maddy for almost an hour last week. It was not the first time, as we have served on a committee together to further efforts for informed consent in maternity care; but it was the first time we had spoken about Tatia. I felt the love in her voice, the pain in her silences. I asked if there were any elements she'd like included in a square to honor her daughter (hers will be one of twenty in a special quilt for mothers who've died from amniotic fluid embolism). Maddy simply requested African-inspired fabrics, and that baby Zorah be recognized as well. So last night, with a full moon at my back and an altar to the divine feminine gently lighting my workspace, I laid out my fabrics and allowed them to take shape.This photograph is the only one I could find of Tatia pregnant with Zorah. Her quiet, graceful contemplation of their shared future is so beautiful, it needed to be captured. There are only a few African inspired prints in my collection, and I let them guide me. The yellowish background was leftover from the African batik project we did at Big B's preschool. I also had one piece of white gauze left from the prayer flag project, which I used to mimic the dress Tatia is wearing in the photo. I used only fusible webbing to piece this square; not a stitch was sewn. I like the raw edges. They speak to the unfinished business that Tatia and Zorah left behind, which is now Maddy's life's work.

I have also chosen and begun piecing the fabrics for the back of the Safe Motherhood Quilt panel that I will be quilting. I am so pleased with this palette and am honored to take this on. There are still several names on the AFE quilt, as well as the Safe Motherhood Quilt, that need to be honored. If you would like to create a special square for a mother who has died of pregnancy or childbirth related causes in America, please contact me or post a comment here.