November 25, 2008

Night Owling it

It's beginning to feel a lot  like Team Craun again. Having the energy for some late night design time with the hubby. Wife has no professional graphic design deadlines; hubby is done with his architectural exams. So nice to work creatively for Team Craun again, and stay up way past our bedtimes working on Nate's upcoming birthday invitation. For all of my local readers, swing on in for a raucous fun time. I can't believe our little bear is turning two.

November 23, 2008

For the Little Girl

Above: handmade card for Bella's present
Below: Bella holding her present for the Little Girl 

For the Little Girl:
Handmade Christmas card, with return address. Photograph of Bella with Nate. Precious Baby Doll of color, in a Holiday Dress. Baby Blanket. Necklace, beads strung by Bella. Underwear. Socks. Toothbrush with toothpaste. Soap with sudsy washcloth covering.  Christmas Coloring Book. Triangle Chubby Crayons. Chapstick. 2 candy cane hearts. Hair clippers, and pony tail bands with beads. 

For the Little Boy

Above: handmade card for Nate's present
Below: Nate Holding his present for the Little Boy

For the Little Boy:
Handmade Christmas card, with return address. Photograph of Nate with Bella. Wooden Toy Tonka Truck. Small Soccer Ball. Underwear. Socks. Toothbrush with toothpaste. Soap with sudsy washcloth covering.  Christmas Coloring Book. Triangle Chubby Crayons. Chapstick. 2 packages of Jelly Belly Candies. 

November 21, 2008

More than Socks, maybe

The small business gears have been turning all week, and I stumble upon these gorgeous stitched softies, mostly created with up-cycled fabrics, in the winter issue of the online magazine, Small. Maybe I could make these with various odds and ends around the household, and create a swath of creatures to befriend all the little ones in our lives. I have snippets of fabrics from a variety of miscellaneous projects that could make some lovely softies.  And we could have more fairy tale clothes made for the Craunlets, and further, we could take stunning and dramatic photographs of them with their new friends: 

November 20, 2008

Smaller and Bigger than I Thought.

Turns out a shoe box is kind of small.  But it is provoking some pretty big thoughts in my small, but quickly growing big, Bella.  We have been on Operation Christmas shopping errands all week. Pushing a myriad of carts through the monstrous halls of all the places I generally try to avoid with the kids in tow. Places overstocked and teeming with toys, toys, toys.

So we have been talking incessantly about the little girl, and the little boy who will receive these gifts. And it is really getting Bella thinking on many levels. 

The day before Halloween, someone stole our pumpkin right off our porch.  And we have been talking about it every day and night since then, as Bella is broken-heartedly struggling to reconcile all the details.  And we repeat the questions and answers again, and again.  And when I am patient, I see that her list of questions is becoming more nuanced by her thoughts, and I am getting little glimpses of compassion, and her growing heart. But it is breaking mine. What happened to our pumpkin? Did someone take our pumpkin? They should have asked us? Stealing is mean. It makes God sad. I am sad that someone took our pumpkin. The other night, she paused and asked: would we give them our pumpkin if they asked? I paused, struck by her struggle with compassion, and replied, was your pumpkin, so we probably would have let you decide what to do. Pause, no answer, the end of the Alphabet game we were playing, and then bedtime.  But the situation still percolates in her heart and thoughts. And the questioning further grew yesterday, on one of our car rides to yet another toy store, If they would have asked, I could have given it to them. Why would someone take it? Maybe they didn’t have a pumpkin. Pumpkins cost money. What were their names, mommy? 

Into the next toy store to try find a baby doll of color that is beautiful, toddler appropriate, and clothed. And further, one that will fit into a shoe box.  The associate on the floor helping us complimented Bella for being able to shop for a little girl, and to buy something that she herself would love to bring home, and to be so well behaved in the store and generous to give it away. 

And I thought, you have no idea. Thank you, but you have no idea about this girls tender heart today. It is provoking.  We have been talking about how these presents will go to kids that don’t usually get presents. Kids that don’t wake up Christmas morning to a small pile of wrapped packages nestled under a lit tree. 

On the way home, Bella continued to talk about our pumpkin. And mulling over the contrast of the have’s and the have-not’s.  Those that have pumpkins, and those that do not. Those that get presents for Christmas, and those that do not.  And just when I find myself quietly sobbing in the front seat, heart broken with her over all of this. 

We are still going to have presents under our Christmas tree this year, right Mommy?

And I am about to laugh, when I hear a soft:

No one will take them? 

The joy and pain of watching her heart grow. It is bittersweet to see her growing. Painful, but full of hope and promise.

November 19, 2008

Team Craun, as Elves.

After visiting a favorite read of mine, Angry Chicken, I was further linked to a site that lists name translations into Elvish.  So, I worked up Team Craun, and here we are in Elvish:

Isabella [see Elizabeth] Oath of God  is Eruwaedhiel

Bella Beautiful is Vanya [and further means strong]

Nathaniel Gift of God is Eruantien

Jennifer White-faced is Nimthiriel

David Beloved is Meldarion

I love that both the little Craunlets start with Eru. And that both Dave + my translations sound so much older to me, and the wee little Craunlets roll off the tongue as more sing-song and somehow younger.  Ladies, get your translations hereGentlemen, translations here.  Of worth to note, the Elvish translation disclaimer: Names are not 100% accurate. The purpose of this name list is to give you a close Elvish translation of your name, without being long, unpronounceable, or "non-Elvish-sounding". All non-elvish sounding options are off the table, of course. 

I am not sure exactly what White-faced is to mean...but the rest of the Team seems pretty regal. So, should you receive a holiday card from Meldarion, Nimthiriel, Eruwaedhiel, and Eruantien know that it arrives from the elvish workshop of Team Craun.

November 18, 2008

Post 100, Making Friends

My next family small business idea, seems to be centered on socks. Lost ones. There is something in me that compulsively seeks out new projects, before I even complete the projects now taking permanent residence on the to-do list.  Like our good Elephant in the [dining] room, still unfinished, now harboring mittens and scarves. But these, seriously, look at these cuties. I am SURE we need to make these. 

So, to commemorate + celebrate post numero cien, I plan to make a small pack of followers, using socks and tights. Thanks for the great idea Boden

November 14, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Dave was explaining to Bella last night that I was in the Christmas Spirit early this year, and he was sort of kidding around, as this is uncharacteristic of the normal Jen. So, being a smarty, I quipped back: "Well better to be in the Spirit of it early, cause that's all we're gonna have this year." And you know what? IT IS. And then I visited Leanne's blog, and was so reconfirmed.

We are so thankful to be employed. To love our work, and to have health insurance through Dave's. We learned recently that it is highly unlikely [impossible, rather] that Dave will receive a Holiday Bonus this year. And this traditional holiday bonus is the only way we have ever afforded holidays as usual.

Interesting enough, I took a handmade pledge for the holidays. And I sort of did it half serious and half on a whim a couple weeks ago. Before I learned of the suspected no-bonus year.  And, I am actually o.k. with it, and looking at it as a great challenge. To thoughtfully handmake our Christmas, and to bring our children into that. And bless our friends and families with our time and talents.

So, the only Christmas presents we have on our shopping list currently are Boy aged 2-4, and Girl aged 2-4.  And they will be from Nate, and Bella respectively. And they will go to kids that don't know the Christmas filled with presents. Operation Christmas Child. I can't wait to fill up the boxes with the help of the little Craunlets, and think about how this season is more about the Spirit. Who could resist being a part of these smiles? 

November 13, 2008

Saving the Planet, Peppermint Pencils

As many of you know, Team Craun is slowly shifting their household more and more towards the green. We are eliminating most of our paper use by switching to cloth. Our kids eat on real dishes as do we, wipe their hands on cloth napkins, and shovel in their mostly home made whole foods using stainless steel utensils. Both babies were in cloth diapers. We try to use green cleaners and products that biodegrade or recycle.  We reuse, we recycle, and we are constantly improving on reducing. We buy mostly wooden and cloth toys. We are shopping more and more organic, and looking for as local as possible. Currently, our butter, milk + honey come from local farms, and our bread from a local bakery. We are planning a huge garden where we once thought we might erect a  garage. Slowly, we are chipping away at a mindset we inherited from our culture. 

Oh, and four months of the year, we are absolutely berserk for peppermint. So imagine my delight, when I come upon these. Recycled newspapers wrapped around graphite leads, and further scented with peppermint [and an array of other scents] for all the holiday list-making, and card writing, advent calendar presents, and stocking stuffers. 

Not only can I indulge in a little more peppermint for the household this holiday season, I can support a company that makes pencils without harvesting trees. Holiday Scented Smencils are available here

November 12, 2008

Reindeer Bark, on a stick.

Team Craun was busy in the kitchen first thing this morning. Unwrapping Candy Canes, crushing them to bits with metal spoons, melting white chocolate + pouring it over the peppermint pieces in lollipop moulds. After waiting the agonizing few moments they required to set up in the refrigerator, here is what we enjoyed for elevensies today. 
Actually, these goodies are a test-run for my contribution to a weekend Holiday Art + Baked Goods Sale at Art House.  My local readers looking for another location to be holiday inspired, and to find some artist goodies for a handmade Christmas, should stop in, the festivities are all day Saturday. It's a toss up for which was more enjoyed by the Craunlets: pulverizing the candy canes, or their expert quality control of our first finished lollipops.

November 11, 2008

Beginning to Look like Christmas

Team Craun is totally nuts for Christmas. Teetering on insane. Bella insists that whence the snow commences, so does Christmas. I blame this all on Dave. Before I laid down the law, it was not uncommon to hear holiday tunes in this household before Thanksgiving. I was generally the Bah Humbug. And I don't know what has happened, but there has been a  gradual chipping away at this Christmas meanie, who I think upon looking back, needed those boundaries more for herself--as I am already full swing in Christmas thought, preparations and excitement. And although I grumbled seeing the snow flurries dancing around in the sky yesterday, I began to hum to myself, that it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 

I was almost completely devastated when I couldn't find any candy canes at our grocer this morning. Until I stumbled upon them at the very last minute. A tiny little stack near the register, just for the crazies who like to begin their Christmas festivities far before they have even compiled their Thanksgiving grocery list. Who knew there was such a thing as organic candy canes? No corn that even possible? Portions of sales going to charity. Made in the US with actual ingredients, natural sugar cane, and peppermint oil...and they are even hand wrapped. 

Saturday, I worked a couple hour volunteer shift at the Heights Arts Gallery as my responsibility for participating in the Holiday Store. So, I stuffed boxes with festive tissue, and worked away happily selling art and listening to holiday music. Any of my local readers in need of a holiday shopping pick-me-up, swing on in...and make it a handmade Christmas this year.

Sunday, I attended an artist lecture at Zygote Press by Gloria Plevin.  She provided all sorts of yummy kuchen and bonbon treats. Baklava varieties, and the yummiest new Holiday Staple for Team Craun: Babka. Um, yeah...heaven. Chocolate Vodka Babka. We will happily replace my families Fruit Cake tradition with this recipe, sorry mom.  

So, the combination of my flurry of weekend activity, with Bella's insistence that Christmas begins with the snow, I am in full swing elf mode. And am thinking of all sorts of craft projects for this year's advent calendar for the kiddos, our holiday card design, potentially a 2009 calendar, a very homemade Christmas for the few on our shopping list, down to the gift wrapping.  I anticipate a little village of presents [thank you Craft magazine] under the tree this year, and can't wait to get started on their construction. Eco friendly Gift wrap on recycled paper, by Elum

November 10, 2008

Hope. Peace. Power of Prayer.

The bond and strength of women coming together, of all walks. Having hope. Praying. Human hearts longing for peace. On my must-see film list, I can't wait until I get the chance. Under the poster image, I have included a brief synopsis of the film, you can find more information here

Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the gripping account of a group of brave and visionary women who demanded peace for Liberia, a nation torn to shreds by a decades old civil war.  The women's historic, yet unsung achievement finds voice in a narrative that intersperses contemporary interviews, archival images, and scenes of present-day Liberia together to recount the experiences and memories of the women who were instrumental in bringing lasting peace to their country.

November 9, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

awe. wonder. exploration. hope. excitement. joy. watchful curiosity. 

Playing with the Craunlets is one of the most engaging ways to appreciate the created world. Bella and Nate at the Cleveland Rainforest on Saturday with daddy.  Left, watching turtles. Right, mesmerized by monkeys. To see more of our recent adventures, click here.

November 8, 2008

Who is Her?

A week or so ago, we played a game with our great friends Aaron and Sarah. The game is Man Laws, Woman Rules. And like the name suggests, through the light of humor, it brings up some pretty great gender and relationship scenarios and stereotypes, see some here.  It's a great how well do you all know one another game. And sharing the evening with our close friends, it was great to see that the answer is that we know one another pretty well. Sarah soared through the game of wagers, leaving us in the dust by double digits. Dave and Aaron tied in second place, still miles ahead of my embarrassingly low score.  So low, at many instances, I was thankful the rules of the game do not allow a player to have a negative score.

Through laughter, some occasional tear fits [mine, and arising from laughter], and anecdotal stories from our shared experiences as couples and good friends, we played for a couple hours. Dave and I bickered off and on, bantering back and forth like a good old married couple, and he continued to lament over the difficulty of playing this game with me. As I am highly unpredictable. Even to my own fault in this game, proven by my score of 15.


When I visited a friends blog the other day, and found that she was sharing this mind reading quiz, and a challenge to participate, I thought...hey, what the heck. And as Bella always asks:who is her?  I was in just the right mood, had a few moments left of nap I quickly plugged through the dozen or two questions, to get a glimpse into this really unpredictable self.

Jen Craun...who is her?

Jennifer, you are somewhat left-hemisphere dominant and show a preference for visual learning, although not extreme in either characteristic. You probably tend to do most things in moderation, but not always.

Your left-hemisphere dominance implies that your learning style is organized and structured, detail oriented and logical. Your visual preference, though, has you seeking stimulation and multiple data. Such an outlook can overwhelm structure and logic and create an almost continuous state of uncertainty and agitation. You may well suffer a feeling of continually trying to "catch up" with yourself.

Your tendency to be organized and logical and attend to details is reasonably well-established which should afford you success regardless of your chosen field of endeavor. You can "size up" situations and take in information rapidly. However, you must then subject that data to being classified and organized which causes you to "lose touch" with the immediacy of the problem.

Your logical and methodical nature hamper you in this regard though in the long run it may work to your advantage since you "learn from experience" and can go through the process more rapidly on subsequent occasions.

You remain predominantly functional in your orientation and practical. Abstraction and theory are secondary to application. In keeping with this, you focus on details until they manifest themselves in a unique pattern and only then work with the "larger whole."

With regards to your career choices, you have a mentality that would be good as a scientist, coach, athlete, design consultant, or an engineering technician. You can "see where you want to go" and even be able to "tell yourself," but find that you are "fighting yourself" at the darndest times.

By far, my favorite descriptive line in all of this analysis, and one that very tellingly rings true: you probably tend to do most things in moderation, but not always. Probably? Tend to? But not always? YEP. Inconsistent, erratic at times, non-committal, indecisive, spontaneous. So, I took the test, and I laughed and cried as I read the results, but I still wonder just who is her?

Photo, above, by Emily Powers.

November 6, 2008

Yes they Can

Every once and a while, like pure magic, I catch these two being the best of friends: 

Bella insisted she needed some time with Nate after lunch, mostly to avoid nap time, so I cleaned up the lunch mess in the kitchen, and nervously went to check on the silence in the living room. My two babies, growing up faster than I ever could have guessed, sitting in daddies chair and holding hands. Are you kidding me??  So, naturally, as this scenario is quite unexpected, I charge: 

"What are you guys doing in here?"

Quickly trying to process my state of disbelief. Noting that Bella is holding Nate's hand, not out of coercion, and Nate is not biting Bella in retaliation. And further, they are touching, and smiling. Laughing, even. I am completely stunned, until I hear Bella's response, when I am shocked beyond belief:

"We are being Barack Obama friends."  
[spoken in Bella's "obviously, mom" tone.]

Could you two actually grow up and be great friends?  I hope the answer to my question is a timely, Yes they can.

November 5, 2008

It is done, and just beginning.

I am so glad it is all behind us, sort of. I guess now it is really all beginning.  To celebrate, I am wearing this t-shirt today. 

And ask Nate who our president is, and he will say the cutest thing. BAMA. really loudly. with his big wide eyes. And then after a good little giggle, BAMA...MAMA!

November 3, 2008

As if you even need reminding.

The sun is scheduled to shine all day tomorrow -- I am so stoked. We are looking at a forecast of almost 70 degrees, and sun. Team Craun voted early, so we miss out on the little "I voted today" sticker.  Be sure you swing on into your local polling booth tomorrow and get yours.  I have never been so politically excited before.  I can't wait to stay up all night tomorrow, watching the numbers roll in.

This poster, and many others that are lovely to look at, are found here

In less than 48-hours, the phone calls, surveys, and door-to-door canvasing will finally come to a halt. I can't say I won't be relieved.


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