Sunday, July 1, 2012

Celebr-EIGHT-ing Big B

Yesterday, we gathered at one of our family's favorite beach spots to celebrate Big B's eighth journey around the sun. I arrived by car with the feast for our family and friends, and Papa and Noni brought the boys and the (surprise!) inner tube by boat.

At one point I walked down toward the water and saw so many of our village there, floating in the sunset lit water, every single one of them with a smile on their beautiful faces--and soaked in the good fortune that my children have to be living in a place with such abundant love, friendship, and beauty. We struggle with lessons of gratitude, humbleness, perspective--but I am confident that when they are grown, wise men, they will reflect on these days of innocence with appreciation and joy.

Big B's Eight Cake was a big hit! I used this tried and true recipe, per his request for a chocolate chunk brownie cake--with this amazing buttercream frosting. To make the "8," I just doubled both recipes and baked the cakes in identical Bundt pans. I sliced about an inch and a half off of the end of each and matched their edges to make a perfect eight. Bonus: The inch and a half remains were a perfect day-after-party treat for Big B and little b.
My wish for Big B for his ninth year is to be confident, creative, and happy. He was born with such rich gifts in his intelligence and his spirit--now I think he is ready to use those gifts in a new way, one that is on his own time and by his own design. I continue to feel the honor and privilege of the best seat in the house to watch him unfold. Happy BIRTH day, my prince. Thank you for making me a mama--the greatest gift I'll ever be given.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Summer Wishes

With four and a half weeks to go until summer, Big B and little b (and hey, Mama too) are getting restless. The hustle and bustle of the August to May calendar has taken a toll on all of us, and we are ready for a space of relaxation, creation, exploration and adventure. So over tonight's dinner, I encouraged the boys to make a list, with no parameters or expectations, of what they would like to do this summer. Looks like we have big plans!
  • Go fishing on Daddy's boat with friends
  • Stay up all day and all night at least once
  • Take Singer (our youngest faithful beast) on the boat with us
  • Go nightswimming
  • Ride bikes to Yogurtology and back
  • Go to Myakka State Park and bring a quarter for the telescope at the top of the tower
  • See the famous Hinterlands sunset (?)
  • Reform the Sunset Club
  • Go to Grammy's pool
  • Go to Harry Potter land
  • Go to Lego Land
  • Go to Disney World
  • Snuggle
  • Do another crayon melting project
  • Make solar prints
  • Pick flowers

Friday, August 5, 2011

Melted Crayon Art

We have been having so much fun with experiments this summer. Lots of dry ice, baking soda and vinegar, that kinda thing. I saw this melted-crayon-on-canvas project on Pinterest and knew the boys would love it. And oh, did they love it.
They each chose the order of the colors on their canvases and lined them up for gluing. (I wanted to let them operate the hot glue gun, but that got out of hand very quickly.) So I glued, then they took turns operating the hair dryer to melt the wax.
If you have children that can use a bit of patience practice, this is the perfect activity. It isn't too long that they lose interest, but long enough that they must be patient--and the hum of the hair dryer adds a meditative element to the exercise. Just when they are wondering if the wax will ever drip, it begins to. A high ROI index on this one (huge gratification, small patience investment).
And a bonus at the end: we put trace paper underneath the canvas to catch the wax. When we were finished, the boys loved peeling the wax off of the paper--and then realized they could color with their new custom crayons!

Friday, July 29, 2011

{ this moment } : sunrise bike ride

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So Much More Than Vintage Pillowcases

Today was not a day I thought I'd be blogging about. The morning began with one of those not-so-proud mommy moments: I lost my temper. I know, I know, we all do--but still. It was not without benefit, as Big B and I seemed to really connect to the solutions we laid out for preventing such a fiasco in the future. We talked, we resolved, we loved, we hugged, but there seemed to be a little black cloud over my head as we loaded up our requisite Wednesday cooler and beach bag. This past week has also been heavy in our village due to the loss of family members for two in our New Moon Circle, as well as a close friend of Papa's family. Even the ocean--my ocean, whose healing waters usually cleanse me of any negative energy still hanging on by Wednesday--even she was thick, full of seaweed, and a carrier of funk.

But then, just as I was packing up our sandy crew to call it a day, feeling full with emotion and as unclear as the mirky water, I was given a reminder of just how beautiful my little life here is. Not one but two of my dear friends handed me vintage pillowcases they had brought for me. Just because. What for them was a simple, thoughtful gesture was for me, so much more. I was reminded that I am doing a-okay. I have a deep connection to this place and these people. If I have a not-so-great morning, there are people here to lift me right back up and remind me that I am doing a good job with these boys--these sweet boys, who have never lived without the innate knowledge that they are part of a true community.

Two friends, coincidentally and separately, bring me something I love, on the day I really needed love most. I don't know how these things happen. I just give abundant and humble GRATITUDE.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Color Walk, 2.0 :: Orange

Two summers ago, we took color walks. Lots of them. At the time, it was an activity more suited for Big B, although little b happily came along for the ride. This afternoon's plans changed for a myriad of reasons, and instead of hustling and bustling from this engagement to that--we found ourselves at home, ready to explore a world freshly shined by a thunderstorm. With Papa taking a well deserved nap, Big B, little b and I embarked on our first of this summer's Color Walks--an activity little b is discovering anew. It is only fitting to begin with ORANGE, as this is little b's very favorite color. Many more to follow!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Legacy Quilt, Part I

I've been working on a very special project. It has been tempting to blog its progress, but I wanted its recipient (and my collaborators) to be the first to see it. I've written in this space before about the amazing woman Papa's Grandma Wilson is. Among the many other things she has given in her life are a collection of spectacular quilts commemorating her descendants' weddings and children (the two she has given to my family are shown in this post).

Some of her daughters and granddaughters and I decided to return the favor. For the last several weeks, the women of the Wilson family have been lovingly crafting unique, commemorative quilt squares in Grandma's honor. Meanwhile, using Noni's photographic chronicle of the family, I have been creating log cabin pieced photo squares showing the faces of Grandma's 6 children, 13 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and 1 great great granddaughter.
I made photo squares depicting Grandma and Granddaddy Wilson when they were newly married, and joined them with a simple pieced heart of vinatage fabric.
When all the squares were complete, I pushed our dining room table aside and began piecing the story of this woman's amazing life.
Sometimes, there are greater things at work than we can put a name on. I had been collecting everyone's squares for weeks, without counting them or designing the finished product until I had all squares in my possession. For the photo squares, I created four for each of Grandma's six children and their families, plus two of Grandma with her children and one each of Grandma and Granddaddy--that's 28 squares. When I finally counted the squares everyone had created, I was amazed--but somehow not surprised--to find 28. The quilt designed itself.
We decided to present the quilt top the night before Sunday's family reunion. Noni and I snuck into Grandma's room and spread the quilt out on the bed, then invited Grammy and her sisters to come in. Somehow they all made it in before Grandma did, and when she arrived, she noticed it right away--and I think it began to sink in, as she looked at every face, every square, what a life of love she has led.
The next day, Papa and his cousin hung the quilt high at the family reunion. Dozens of relatives took their time looking at the quilt, appreciating the love this woman's family has for her. I held it together pretty well, despite sleep deprivation and a swell of pride and gratitude--but when I caught Big B telling little b who some of the people were on the quilt, wrapping his arm around his little brother, I almost melted. Without this woman, my children would never know a family of this size, with these traditions, woven with strong love and togetherness through generations. This family has inspired me to begin family reunions on my side of the family tree, the first of which we held earlier this summer. New traditions. Another chapter in her legacy.
Look at these beautiful women! We will all gather together this fall to finish the quilt in the only way Grandma ever has: by hand. Many hands, working together, weaving the story of a family.
It was indeed a true honor to stitch together the story of this woman's life thus far. She has many stories left to tell, I suspect. I am just grateful to be included in her circle so I can hear them.
"I see the wise woman. She carries a blanket of compassion. She wears robes of wisdom. Around her throat flutters a veil of shifting shapes. From her shoulders, a mantle of power flows. A story band encircles her forehead. She stitches a quilt; she spins fibers into yarn; she knits; she sews; she weaves. She ties the threads of our lives together. She forms a web of spiraling threads: our lives invented and shared."
-Susun S. Weed