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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Beach Jars

It rained on Big B's 7th birthday last week, so we missed our beach day and I think we all felt its absence. By Wednesday morning we were all itching for sand and salt. During my morning coffee browsing, I came across this link for adorable upside down terrariums. For a slightly different version, we packed up a box o' Mason jars for Big B, little b and their friends to create little bits of the beach to bring home.
What a hit! This crowd loves to hunt for treasure and find creatures--the glass was the perfect, special, take-home vessel. They were careful to keep the sea creatures alive in their buckets and store only the non-living things in the jars.
We set off mid-morning on a beachside treasure walk.
And when we arrived, sunkissed and happy, back home, we each had a bit of the beach to sustain us. At least until next week.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thoughts on Seven, Thoughts on Heaven

The paths are many, the truths are one.

Big B turned seven today. I just have to go on record here and say that despite my lack of patience with several of his more testosterone-driven, spirited antics, the boy is an absolute joy to be around. He is funny, crazy smart, and curious in the sweetest way.

Tonight, on the way home from Papa's softball game, Big B asked me if there were other people that could do magic besides God. Is there is a more beautifully fantastic question? We talked about the magic of gravity, the magic of color, and, Big B added, the magic of being alive. We talked (again) about the fact that although there are many world religions with their various differences, there are underlying common threads among them that are the important things to remember: all we need is love, and be kind to each other. He liked this.

We had just finished this conversation, and were on to the scientific differences between sharks and dolphins, when we passed a church marquee that read, "The paths are many, the truths are one." I felt a peace in my heart and a smile on my face. It was a serendipitous affirmation of the honor and joy it has been to be a mother these last seven years. When I teach with my heart, I am rewarded with the truth. Every time.

I love you, Big B. The day you were born was the happiest day of my life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice: Sun Tea

The Summer Solstice is one of our favorite days of the year. Just when it gets so hot outside we are tempted to complain about it, we are given an opportunity to celebrate the summer, the season, the sun. We are reminded how very lucky we are to live in a place where we can bask in its glory. This morning as the sun was just warming up, we went outside to welcome it, and brought with us a pitcher of clean fresh water and raspberry tea leaves. Big B and little b added fresh mint and lemon balm from the garden.
We stopped to notice the sun illuminating the jewels of our little patch of earth.
We went about our morning, knowing the tea would be steeping, waiting for us.
And steep it did! After a few hours, t
he tea was a strikingly beautiful color and smelled perfume-y, sweetened only by the sun. The boys laid out a picnic blanket and waited patiently for me to bring glasses, ice, and fresh lemon to squeeze.
We took turns giving thanks for the sun, its warmth, its light, its life force. A quick toast, then sweet, refreshing sun tea on the longest day of the year.
To the sun!
"Be like the flower, turn your face to the sun."
-Kahlil Gibran

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Swift, A Wool Winder, and A Merino Blend

Today I experienced a few minutes of unadulterated joy. I wound my first ball of yarn.

Papa gave me this beautiful swift and a wool winder for Christmas. (That, a blues harmonica, and a gift card for my favorite fabric store--I mean seriously, what a man.)
Other than marvel at its simple beauty, I hadn't used the swift before today--I am typically a winter knitter and a summer sewer. But a knee injury has been demanding I sit more, and when I do, my hands start yearning for needles. So after dropping the boys off at Grammy's this morning for their first summer Monday pool date (thank you!), I stopped at a new local yarn haven for a bit of soul comfort. I decided then and there to knit myself a pair of socks. It seems appropriate, as I'll be knitting while propping my feet up--two birds, one stone, taking care of my body and soul.

I splurged for two skeins of this absolutely gorgeous kettle dyed silk-merino blend. This afternoon, as the rainbow maker was in full force and the afternoon sun was sinking low into the sky, I wrapped a skein of it around the swift.
The boys were riveted, and for good reason--the simplicity and gratification of these two tools together are really beautiful. I threaded the winder and got to work. Big B took this next picture, mid-spin.
Little b was anxious to give it a try, cinnamon stick and all. He did a fabulous job.
After a few minutes of heaven, I had a perfectly wound ball of ready-to-knit yarn, and I held it like a newborn babe. So much care has been infused into this little bundle already, from the shearing to the spinning to the dyeing. Now it's my turn.