July 31, 2008

But, I'll be so sad.

So, It's official.  After calling Dave for technical support, I have made my very own cup of afternoon coffee.  Yes, that's right -- I don't even completely know how to use our own coffee maker.  First, let me disclose, I have a wonderful husband who makes a mean cup of liquid caffeine, and our most delicious espresso every morning -- while I am still waking up, and sitting on the counter in the kitchen.  Second, we have this "new-fangled" coffee maker that I bought mostly for entertaining.  One that brews into a carafe, or directly into one or two lidded travel mugs.  All of its features seemed so convenient.  That is, until one goes to calculate and measure just how much coffee goes into the untraditional non-cup-labeled contraption.  Dave being a methodical and systematic person, has adapted to this machine that his impulsive wife purchased, and has devised exact measurements for its variety of brew options. 

I managed to pass up two opportunities for a drive-thru coffee this morning, but now the fierce pangs of caffeine withdrawal are garnering a larger amount of my attention than I could have ever imagined. So, it is today that I pledge to begin my very first serious effort to eliminate a strong addiction.  The drive-thru Starbucks.  My long term goal is to be fully weaned off of my caffeine need by Fall, when my crazy erratic schedule begins again.  In the short term, no more mini-road-trips for comfort coffee. For a myriad of good reasons. To get to know the real me again, not the regulated and/or dependent-on-caffeine one that I have become.  To learn to manage the more grueling stay-at-home mom situations, rather than escaping from them.  To reduce both spending and fuel consumption, both alleviating our budget.  

When Bella gets the answer no, for something she truly desires, but isn't really good for her, or necessary at the time, her standard quip [in the most melancholic voice] is always: but I'll be so sad. Clearly, breaking a little girls heart into teensy tiny bits--right in front of her--must be the most dreadful thing imaginable.

July 30, 2008

Hope Deferred, III

beautiful sound
plan of persistence
such distinctions 
immediately available
having enough

This series is a consuming whirlwind in my mind most of my waking moments right now, and my making has been abundant in the last few weeks. I am finding more time at the press, amazingly, and squeezing an hour or two out of every day to move this series along. It has become a new provoking and addictive pace to try and keep up with. The song that this series is singing to my soul right now is so pleasing and sweet. So melodic and soothing.  It is repairing so much, and breathing life and light into crevices that have long needed cleaning out.

Somehow, I liken it to this:
I was speaking about Bella's nanny, best friend, ballerina, godmother [Leanne] to a few new + proud grandmother's the other day, and commented about how she "speaks straight to her [Bella's] spirit." and how I count that as such a sacred blessing. Rare and lovely.

It is intoxicating to have someone or something in this world that can do that.

July 29, 2008

[geo]Graphically Gorgeous

Team Craun is thinking all things Chicago this week, and gearing up for some time with the Grand Dubs in the Windy City. Thanks to Bugaboo day trips, not only do we have a new wallpaper for our desktop, but a travel guide that is kid-centric, Bella-approved, and plain lovely to carry around on our excursions. Cory Hudson, working under the name Struggle Inc. in Chicago, is the artist who created this enticing tot-centered travel map.

July 28, 2008

Anna the Avenger

My sister is by far one of the funniest and most sarcastic of my friends.  This week, I made the grave mistake of encouraging her to read David Sedaris, and she took my advice.  After exchanging some e-mails discussing the humor and realities of “sibling relationships”, I decided an apology for all my childhood meanness was in order.  And this revenge post -- all warranted -- is how she forgave me.


Monday's First Moment

Anticipating today's hot afternoon temperatures, we headed to Cleveland's Emerald Necklace first thing this morning. We don't spend as much time as we should fully soaking up the amenities of the Metroparks, so this morning we attempted to make up for this lack.  Here is our first moment of the day, I would say we are off to a pretty good start this week.  See more of our splashing morning adventures, here.

July 25, 2008

What Chatter looks like

Yesterday I was introduced to Wordle, a nifty site that will convert text into these gorgeous word clouds. This lovely chatter atmosphere seems like the perfect translation of the theme music to Team Craun's life.  Or perhaps it could become our new family logo, and we could have it embroidered onto t-shirts and ball caps.  To play around, visit Wordle here.  Copy in any text or website address and watch it randomly generate your cloud. Unhappy with your initial results, you can negotiate layout + color options, or have it randomize all over again.  

July 24, 2008

Let Them Make Art

Sometimes I get these zany ideas that making art with a preschooler and a toddler, WITH PAINT, will be a delightfully fun project for all of us.  Going to the store and selecting the paint was difficult enough, I am not sure how I mustered the courage to actually continue, short of boredom.  Painting a toddlers hand is easy, getting said toddler to hold it perfectly still and stamping it onto a masonite panel square and center is wholly another task.  But, here they are. Bright, fresh and lovely...and never this small again. And that has made this whole endeavor worth it, hands down.

July 23, 2008

Savoring the Sweetness of Summer

My memory is chock-full of hours and days of outdoor play and the long months of childhood summers.  My little people let me taste and savor the sweetness of play, almost to the point of boredom and monotony.  My favorite moments of the summer, captured above, are when we have exhausted all ideas of new things to do and explore, and we just enjoy the small bit of earth we call home. My little lady is a measured adventurer with a passionate and intoxicating spirit, and my little man is a more reckless adventurer with a sensitive and cuddly spirit. They are so well suited for each other, and such good hybrids of Dave and myself. We have been watching their friendship grow, and have been delighted to see the glimpses of our future of getting to know one another so intimately, and learning how to love deeper.  For more pictures of our playing, visit us here.

I'll leave you with a few funny Bella-isms. 
I think we might have the privilege of raising a genius.

To daddy, packing his bag for work:
"what exactly are you doing?"

In the car, negotiating the calendar of events:
"What day is today? Is it Wednesday? Sunday? Nons-Day? Tuesday? Every-Other-Day? Wednesday? Or what?"

Demanding her potty reward:
"I want a chocolate for that!" 
Not only was she pointing at her accomplishment, but also demonstrating the need to be reward-weaned, after a year of successful potty-ing now.

July 22, 2008

Slow Going

Every time I look at this gorgeous image, and fresh art idea, I laugh.

And I think, I know just how you feel.   

For a visual treat, visit the Inner City Snail project here. Its a London-based artist who makes small urban interventions, this is the traveling work, as opposed to the placed little people street art installations, here

July 18, 2008

Plea for help -- Another, rather.

I seem to be plagued with compulsive rescuing.  It is painful how things cry out to me. Screaming so loudly, I must pull over and inquire. The thing, or situation, certainly needs my help. Surely I can rescue it from its current life. 

Stranded persons, and things like this sad huge plastic elephant.

I see it and I just can’t resist. it needs me. I need to rescue this thing. It was three or five. I am still not quite sure. I hope I didn’t take this poor man and his son. [Although, Dave thinks we were pretty taken that we actually paid money to get it]  His initial response was “from the curb?”  “Well...close...the sidewalk actually...the corner guy.” And the quasi-illegitimate small business his family sets up on the corner of our street.  Sometimes their card table is heaped high with underwear and packages of tube socks.

my car pulled over

the kids are buckled in their seats

my warning lights flashing

my window down

“how much for the elephant?”

If nothing else, the joy of getting to shout out such a question, is worth this entire episode.

His hand is up. And then, how quickly the tired parents mind will assemble any combination of fingers for the intended number. His last three fingers are definitely up.  And teaching Bella the hand configurations for numbers, I know that it can be hard to remember to pin down that wayward thumb. So, I neglect to figure that one into the math. “3?” I inquire. He nods, and approaches my window to collect. I hand him 3 single dollars. He gives me a thumbs up, and I realize--now that he is closer to the car--his first finger is a stub, and his thumb appears to have been involved in the injury that claimed his finger. 

So, his young assistant, of maybe 8 or 9, lugs the elephant across the street with a smile from ear to ear--victorious in their first sale of the morning.  I have to take the lid off of this bigger-than-I-realized elephant to fit it into the thankfully empty trunk. And it is then that I notice the label that reads $5. Maybe we were negotiating? 

After we are home, and have unloaded our new circus friend, I begin to clean her up in the bath. I know, at this point, you’re all like -- OK -- it is entirely ONE THING to actually buy this thing in cash from some curious yard sale on the corner, but is wholly ANOTHER, to welcome this beast into the claw foot tub for a bubble bath. 

Bella is completely enamored by “Elphent” at this point.  And is all like “can we keep it?” “when can we play with it?” “are you going to need help getting it upstairs into my room?”  “can baby Brie get in if I take her shoes off?”  Melding together all sorts of previous circumstances and instructions into some bizarre new love affair with Elphent.

Most of Elphent’s carnival makeup is going; she actually has a really nice ivory complexion with tiny flecks of silver glitter.  I am working on scrubbing her down to that, keeping only her eyes, nose, and blush circles on her cheeks.  So, as if the projects list in my sidebar isn’t big enough, add on “figure out what to do with a huge plastic elephant” lidded container. 

Any ideas are welcome. please.

Post a comment with your idea.

And when we do figure out what to do with Elphent, I’ll let you know.

July 17, 2008

Nathaniel and his new wordage

Nate now nonchalantly slips in words during normal playing + interactions.  As a proud mom, and an over-dramatic one, my response is usually total amazement, accompanied by animated facial expression--and I must admit--even clapping.  Language is such an exciting thing to me.  The communication possibilities: less confusion, reduction in tantrum frequency [maybe?] and the joy of knowing more about what he is thinking + what his preferences are. 

So, he slips in these words--and even multiple word pairings-- that I have never heard him utter, and I naturally respond as I descried above. I actually consider it my motherly obligation to make a fuss over menial milestones, many times daily. But this little guy just casually glances upward at me, from the corners of his eyes, with a nearly indistinguishable sly smile. Not willing to get excited, not willing to even turn his head and fully look at me to celebrate his verbal accomplishments. 

And I am convinced, if this little man knew more words, he would say: “MOM.  Obviously, we both know that I have understood these words for some time now. Up until now, crying and pointing has served us both just fine. It's not like it's a super huge deal that I am audible and understandable now, and I certainly don't need your patronizing applause.” 

I love this guy.

July 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grand Dubs

Bella said it best yesterday when she blurted out “I’m having a bad day” when Dave came home last night, late.  I should say, in Dave’s defense, that late [in this case] is a mere 15 minutes from when I was expecting him. And also in his defense, he tried phoning me three times to tell me about it -- and I was already so done, I didn’t bother picking up the phone.  This is the kind of bad day when minutes are more about all of my faults, which I just don’t want to deal with after 9 grueling hours with the kids, than actual time. These are the moments when I am for sure going crazy. Seriously, to fall apart over 15 minutes. I think that's actually a National Late Standard, and within the permissible realm, now that I think about it.
So yeah. Yesterday. Done. No biggie. Just a Tuesday. 
Until today, I was so glad it was just behind us.  We spent the bulk of today at a funeral, and memorial of a lovely 3rd Grandma to Dave.  We get home and our caller ID notes that my mom has called over lunch, and my dad twice in the afternoon. Hmmmm. Wonder what’s up?!
So, I step out of the shower, after mowing three lawns, and my dad beats me to returning the call I fully intended to do while making dinner.  And I hear, “Mom thought you were dead.”  And I am still all like, huh?? Yeah, logical over-reacting rationale that I am so glad I inherited, well “Jen always calls” she remarks "ON MY BIRTHDAY".  

Right.  I would have known it was the 15th, had I rehung my calendar on my freshly painted walls.  And I might have even remembered that the 15th was my mom’s birthday.  Even though, as Bella was making the Grand Dubs a card -- for no apparent reason -- I argued about not writing Happy Birthday on the said card.  Honestly, I am sick of writing off-season Happy Birthday cards for Bella.  And this was late afternoon, when I was nearly spent on behavior correction, so I held firm: I am NOT going to write HAPPY BIRTHDAY on this card. Oh, how I wish now I would have.
So -- Mom, the Grand Dubs -- belated, I wish you a Happy Birthday.
In your honor [the first to be bestowed this gift, I might add, on this blog space] I will list memories and attributes about you that have helped to shape me + make me both who I am, and who I am becoming:
Incredibly patient.
By far the best breakfast maker. 
[And I mean real breakfast, the farm kind]
Light-hearted and encouraging.
A maybe-forgetful, but rosy-colored rememberer. 
[All of her four children came home from the hospital and had the ability to sleep the entire night through]
Truly a Sound Sleeper.
“Smile, Don’t you know God loves you” singing wake up calls.
Homemade brownies and cookies all through childhood.
An amazing seamstress, for me and my dolls, and now my daughter.
Someone that can just take the hammer into her own hands.
Laughing into tears with sisters and children around the kitchen table.
The zoo. and the snow cones. 
The little pool in the back yard.
It seems like having fun as a mom was easy for you.
Effortless, you are so laid back.
You know + speak more cliches than anyone I know.
[I constructed my entire graduate thesis to celebrate this attribute]
You forgive and let go easily.
Thank God for that last one. It is easy to say sorry to you. I missed your birthday -- I was having a bad day -- and I am so sorry.  And your not-happy-birthday-card is already in the mail.

July 15, 2008

July 14, 2008

Eat like a Bird

I am watching these birds eat 10 times their body weight. 
At least.

I have seen the birds partake of brekkie, snackers, lunchers, dessert and they now seem to be enjoying a hearty second lunch, and it is not yet 1 pm. SERIOUSLY.  I don't know what is worse--their eating habits or my appetite for understanding their diet and voyeuristic obsession.

Hugely Hungry

"those birdies must be really hungry for their brekkie. wight? because our feeder is YUGE [picture Bella's overdramatic facial expression and wide eyes] and it is not full now. wight? it is NOT FULL? and when was it full yast time? on daddy day?"

All of this in that crazy hysterical laugh talk.  Maybe she was eating some of the feed, like her brother, or maybe she really thinks its hugely funny that those urban birdies can empty an entire feeder of its contents in less than 24 hours. We don't really have a budget for this kind of feeding, so I am thinking about looking into some sort of diet feeder. Or one that only serves snacks, as opposed to our open 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet style.

Our feeder has been relocated, since this photo, to our new flower + tree garden, which provides protection for the entire flock of little brown birdies in the young Magnolia tree, bending under the strain of the large family. The location also affords much better viewing from our favorite spying window in the living room. Location. Location. Location.

July 11, 2008

Bite me in the Bump

Let me just start off saying that I don't believe in karma.  I do believe that one should generally operate with the Golden Rule in mind.  I also know that I serve a God that does care how I raise my children.  And that there is eternal investment in what I do.

However, I am completely not surprised that after the flowery and wonderful I-love-my-kids posts of the last few days, that I should find my previous proud-mama-spirits packing their bags for somewhere more pleasant, and wanting to shake the little people just moments after I clicked the publish button yesterday afternoon.  Or set them out on the porch, which I often mutter under my breath--and occasionally at the top of my lungs.

I won't belabor you by going into full detail and diatribe over all of the poop.  And all of the skipped naps because of some of the poop. And the subsequently cranky kids. And the crabby mom-self. And I certainly won't rant on about the continued poop, and all of the messes.  And all of the requests to simply use the word please.  Or the endless conflict management of brother-hitting and sister-biting.  And I won't even begin to count all of the fallen tears.  It was actually a fairly normal day, prefaced with a too-busy-and-stayed-up-way-too-late mom, who woke up with a deficit of patience. 

Of course these beautiful and normally fun-to-play-with children would construct schemes pitted against this deficit, and direct all of their attention to my weaknesses. And they would make me want to scoop up all of those posts of nice words, encouragement and beautiful photos like a handful of clean and warm glass bowls from the dishwasher--where they may as well live--and chuck them half way across the room to have them shatter into millions of pieces.

And then I could clean up that mess too.

July 10, 2008

Wildflowers, not Weeds

Someone once told me that they made it a point to say that their children were “growing like wildflowers” as opposed to weeds.  What a great perspective.  I had only one very small baby at the time, and did not fully understand her advice, until now.  The wildflowers of my own are in full bloom, and growing faster than I ever would have imagined.  And they know my attitude, and life perspective -- sheerly by living it out with me, by osmosis, if you will.  They copy my manners and language as consistently as I model it.

Here is a shot of wildflowers that Bella + I seeded in the bed that encircles the tree in our front yard in early spring.  They are trying their best to compete with some pretty overpowering lilies.  My two little people picked these yesterday; Bella has taken great ownership + pride in these blooms.

July 9, 2008

Team Craun at Play

These are the little people I am so in love with.  And I get the privilege of playing with them every day.  See how we play right here

Moving, in many ways

I am encouraged that this is dancing -- because it is exactly what dancing looks like in this household.  And now, I am aching with a deep hunger to travel.

July 8, 2008

More hope deferred

decidedly moving forward


These pieces keep great company with one another and carry on polite, but honest, conversations.  I will have at least 25 variations--all unique originals--in the series.  In fact, right now I want a whole room of these for myself. But, those of you that visit our home, know I don’t have a ton of my own work on the walls. However, if I had a white kitchen with any spare wall space, I would have out the hammer and level.

Take a peek, and see what I have been up to this week.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do right now.

crescendo uplifted

storms passing

thoughts collected

For local readers, these prints will be on exhibition as part of the Pressed/Pulled show at Bay Arts.  The opening reception is Friday, July 11 from 7-9 pm, and the show runs through July 31.

These prints all are intaglio, some engage in relief + monotype as well, the birds are chine colle’, and the rest of the inclusions fall into the category of mixed media. There are five copper plates that I juggle in combination to create these roughly 8” X 10” unique prints. 
[They live in 11” X 14” frames -- thank you, hubby]. 

July 7, 2008

Q + A

A little game for the morning, I was tagged by Autumn

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your significant other? soulmate
3. Your hair? unruly
4. Your mother? saccharine
5. Your father? spitfire
6. Your favorite thing? freedom
7. Your dream last night? unknown
8 Your favorite drink? coffee
9. Your dream/goal? grandma
10. The room you’re in? curmudgeon
11. Your hobby? baking
12. Your fear? loneliness
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? family
14. What you’re not? alone
15. Muffins? homemade
16. One of your wish list items? remodeling
17. Where you grew up? Lincoln
18. The last thing you did? art
19. What are you wearing? yellow
20. Favorite gadget? iPod
21. Your pets? Craunlets
22. Your computer? lovely
23. Your mood? hopeful
24. Missing someone? yep
25. Your car? boxy
26. Something you’re not wearing? diamonds
27. Favorite store? online
28. Like someone? lots
29. Your favorite color? muted
30. When is the last time you laughed? earlier
31. Last time you cried? recently

TAG yourself, please.

If you play along leave a comment and link to your list.

Rules: answer questions with only one word, then tag 4 others.

July 5, 2008

Independence Day

Team Craun is the last family on the block that would march proudly out of the house in coordinating reds, whites and blues.  It somehow just isn't part of our DNA.  We love our country, true. But, I think we love our country with a more honest than falsely patriotic love. We see her shortcomings, and really do hope to be a part of the change we desire for her, but still we found ourselves at a pause in thinking about what to do to celebrate -- for a variety of reasons.  The 3 1/2 year old doesn't like loud noises, and the little guy doesn't fare well much past 8.30 -- he hasn't learned how to get a second wind, purely on the thrill of getting to stay up.  So, nope...No red, white and blue.  No holiday fare.  No fancy fireworks displays at our favorite park.  No sparklers. 

That said, I have been thinking about freedom lately.  And what it really means.  And my best thoughts are my kids. Freedom.  Their middle names.  They know it.  They live it. They breathe it.  It pulses through their beings.  They know that they were made for it.  And that they deserve it.  They boldly take it without asking.

So, a piece of our day was devoted to appreciating that freedom.  We flew kites, and chased butterflies.  And we laughed, and played hard.  We were amazed at how big even our small piece of the world is. 


July 3, 2008

Who's driving this truck, anyway?

I am uncertain which of the little people left this scene, and I am still in speculation and hold mild concerns regarding the intentions.  

I pride myself on keeping a clean and organized home, and have subsequently watched Bella insist upon the same order with her own belongings. Finding this so cleverly “out of place” is suspicious. So to my great surprise and bout of humor, I shall likely never know, but laugh quite hard -- and watch for any forthcoming suspicious activity.

July 2, 2008

Backyard Camping

I go to several art and design blogs for a visual pick-me-up, and tumbled into this treat at one of my favorite stops this morning, and it totally aligns with my holiday mode.  I have been waking up every day this week wanting Friday.  Team Craun would really get into this set-up, if only their backyard weren't a recovering jungle.  

Get all the info at Poppytalk, navigate to July 02.
[This teepee was updated by Interior Designer Ariel Ashe.]

July 1, 2008

Yes and No

Asking for help is hard for me to do. I did it more than five times last week. And when I finally thought I had the help I needed, the initial answer of yes was switched to no unexpectedly. 

Honestly, “I am feeling pressed” was the given reason.

I know how you feel. I understand.

I thought I did. I do love honesty. Though I must admit, I like it best up front.  And I am not good with change. That said, my initial response was smooth, which is a major indication of personal growth in that area, but it initiated some tumultuous thinking and a huge interior struggle.  Contemplation, a familiar place for me.

Why am I wired with this Super Hero mentality? Why did I have to stop myself twice from picking up two more stranded persons last week? Needing to rescue them -- more for myself than them, I think. 

Anyway, some pondering ensued. Unfinished tangents, but the beginnings of something. Maybe some new art. Maybe it is perfect for what I have already started. Just a slight change. Maybe the idea simply needs to let itself be pressed a little bit, and there is space after all.

I make image from this process. Without the press, and its pressing, my prints are not possible.  My image is only visible with ink and pressure. They need to be pressed.  They are dead to life otherwise.


Coal makes Diamonds

Grapes make Wine

Ground beans make Coffee

Something pressed for the sake of another thing -- yields unbelievable transformation. Often beautiful, or tasty, and almost nearly impossible to imagine. 


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