July 31, 2009

I [would] like to Ride my Bicycle

I've been dreaming up a more bicycle life these days. Looking at sweet bikes like the double-seater's, and one's that can tow a small family, and the like.


As any good switch in hobbies or lifestyles always encourages a little gear, I found these sweet T's on threadless, and had a merry laugh.


T-shirt images pictured above are found here and here.

July 29, 2009

Picture Pages, Picture Pages


We have updated our picture pages, Click here to see our most recent shenanigans.

Back-to-School Dream Space

As many of my more seasoned readers might remember and know about me, I have been longing for and dreaming up a most perfectly impossible room. A multipurpose space that integrates the following daily needs of Team Craun: art studio, home office, and a child's school/playroom combination. Right. In one space.

Fuel to my fire--through a myriad of hopscotch linking--I find my way navigating from Ohdeedoh, and their feature of the Hope Revolution, that was dreamed up here and carried out by Playful Learning. And there I was, knee deep in their site, following the link to learning experiences, and I almost fell over. After I picked my chin up off the ground, and further crossed off homeschool the kids from my erratic and fleeting bad ideas list, I started to realize that this crazy vision for this room isn't so unattainable, and is also a fairly reasonable desire. Heck, I spend the majority of my waking hours with my little people, and trying to make my art, and eking in schizophrenic moments of work somehow. A room that could usher in a little sanity around here, and yet be creative and beautiful, and educationally inviting. This could be good for the whole Team.

Photo Credits: all from Playful Learning.

This need is also marvelously supported by our decision to skip the preschool path for Bella. Not only is it too long of a day, and far too costly, we really don't think she needs it. Instead, we are committed to piecing together some structured and unstructured activities + classes to fuel her desire to both learn and go to school. Dance lessons. Early literacy programs at the Library. Art classes. You get the idea. Most of you know how I feel about kids having darn plenty enough time to grow up. So, I don't feel at all like she will be starting off behind, when she goes straight into the big K-garden the year after this one.

Unless something catastrophic changes my mind, I really don't think I'm cut out for homeschooling. And I won't go on and list my million reasons why. I'll just leave it there. However, that said, Team Craun loves creative, engaging + educational play. Many of you know, outside of a confession I have coming shortly about a little t.v. intake for the Craunlets, we don't sit in front of the tube. We don't have cable. And I think we own less than a dozen DVDs. Pathetic perhaps, but I think there too, we can't do any damage keeping it away from our family life as long as we can. Most of our games are about counting, matching, early literacy building, and a few about character development. And we spend a lot of time at the desk with our Kumon books; ones with mazes, and numerical + alphabetical connect the dots, ones that are teaching Bella to write, and to spell, and to read, and ones that are introducing math concepts. So in some ways, though not accountable to any department of education, we are hitting the subjects in our every day play.

So, back to this amazing site. A mecca of creative and engaging learning activities, if you will. Categorized by their subject [reading, writing, math, social studies, science, art] and each of them accompanied by a thorough description, many lovely photographs, and links to all the resources.

Brilliant and simple ideas. Counting with marbles and shells, using lovely little jars. Constructing letterforms with assorted wooden pieces and letter charts, a family writing center. Simple graphics. Open ended activity that encourages curiosity and creative exploration.

All of it, Candy for the room remodel, and surprisingly not entirely costly--and rather quite clever and resourceful. In the moments, minutes, and soon hours, I have spent on this site, I have re-envisioned the use of many an item we already own that could be spruced up to fit the bill.

And what perfect timing that we are almost hitting the done button on Nate's room, and freeing up this proposed space.

July 28, 2009

Impromptu Outdoor Feast

Daddy came home early and surprised the Craunlets with a picnic lunch. They headed to the park and spread out their blanket + basket on a bit of grass that overlooks the lake.

July 27, 2009

Weekend Moment, Giving it Up

Saturday morning, Bella was given a very precious present. One that celebrates her milestone achievement. The grand one-week mark of giving it up. Quitting the thumb sucking 24-7 for an entire week, and permanently...we thought we should pause for a bit of praise and celebration.


She received her very first piece of real jewelry. A silver charm bracelet with a teeny tiny dangling little heart. We are so proud of this little lady--kicking the habit cold turkey. Now we just need to keep all of her other belongings out of her mouth.

To celebrate her accomplishment at the one-month marker, we have ordered a small silver thumbs up charm. I couldn't resist; I thought it would be a delightful pun!

All weekend, following both her manicure and pedicure, and the presentation of this little gift, she has been elated and floating around the house with her arm outstretched and gazing at the dangling charm.

July 24, 2009

Growing Like Wildflowers

I took these photos on our recent playcation to the greater Chicago area. It was a day much like today. Somehow cloudy and sunny at the same time, and a day that followed several days of rain. It was a quiet moment on a small bit of preserved earth. One that swept the Craunlets up in the magic and mystery of the created world. And as I watched them explore, I was amazed at how quickly time is passing on the freedom years of their childhood. I was teary, and thinking of how we might be able to prolong these days for them; keep them from the rush of growing up that surrounds and bombards them.

July 23, 2009

The Craunlets and their Cherry Chomper

I imagine this photograph with the caption [spoken in a mother's voice] "who is eating all of these cherries?" every time I look at it. And I laugh.

The Craunlets received a cherry chomper via the post yesterday.

Then they busied themselves pitting cherries all afternoon.

Each of the Craunlets gave it a try.

The chomper is perfectly sized for little hands.

This rainy afternoon we decided to bake a Cherry Upside down cake.


Above is the fruit of our labor, if you will.

July 22, 2009

Lemon and Other Yellows

The Craunlets were rewarded for their superb behavior + use of their manners this morning at our Storytime with Miss Bette. We walked into the attached coffee shop, and I permitted them to select a sweet from the fresh bakery case. I was delighted at their selection.


A cake donut, iced beautifully in a gorgeous yellow, infused with lemon, and fully adorned with sprinkles. It was magic beautiful watching them eat their reward. I also splurged and ordered a second one to go, for my afternoon nap time slot; a little lemony yellow indulgence to look forward to.


After enjoying my little treat, I have now officially decided to learn how to bake donuts. I keep seeing this marvelous donut pan in the King Arthur catalog, accompanied by many a great batter recipes. Surely this could be a new treat to perfect!! Imagine all the lovely icing combinations!! The flavors, colors and textures seem endless!

Returning the unexpected kindness of the recent yellow gift, I have sent my thank you response off in the post. Here is a detail of my wrapping--with Bella's assistance; I think it turned out just sunny.

A Tidbit Regarding the Thumb-Sucking Initiative

Let me just say that the car is now a much louder place. With the eldest Craunlet currently unplugged, she is putting her voice to good use. And as proud as I am of her, I must admit that a small part of me misses the quiet melody of the wet chugging sounds of suck-suck-slurp. Her Train and Airplane Go Back to Sleep tune--sung at the top of her lungs--is a bit more distracting whilst driving than the white noise of her former thumb sucking.

July 21, 2009

twice

Two days in the studio, two weekends in a row. I have been working harder during my week days to keep my work moving forward, and it is fueling vastly more productive print sessions in the studio on the weekends. It feels like I am hitting a good balance again.


Above are some drying prints in progress; these are the first layers down, and created using monoprint and relief. They await some line drawings of neighborhood development patterns; some aerial maps of the built landscape of contemporary, and nearly disposable, housing. The works will further sound out issues of occupancy, vacancy, comfort, safety and vulnerability in the way of percentages and other numerical codings.

July 20, 2009

Weekend Moment, We Dream in Cleveland

At the end of a both productive and play-filled Saturday, Team Craun found themselves at a park, looking out over the water's edge, beholding the view of Cleveland just before sunset.


Cleveland. This place that we have tethered to our hearts.

July 17, 2009

Kicking the Habit

I am watching the four year old shift around nervously and fidget like she is experiencing nicotine withdrawal, desperate, and jonesing for a smoke.


We started the Anti-Thumb-Sucking Initiative on the day before Playcation. She was nervous, but eager, and seemed certainly interested and ready to give it up. But I don't think any of us really knew just how addicted she was to its comfort. To the habit.

Less than a few short hours into the initiative, the emotional meltdowns had piled up higher than a tall stack of pancakes. And we ran out of any maple syrup offerings in a hurry.

Searching for a fix during the grueling car ride to the Grand Dubs, she soaked both ears of her Bun-bun [a hooded towel she clutches as a companion to her thumb sucking] until she finally fell asleep. It was then that this now habitual pattern of comfort managed to lick through all of the yuck paint on her thumb and fingernails while she frenetically moved through her sleep cycles.

She was determined to kick the habit, and/or at least earn the present she had been promised, or rather bribed, to receive once the sucking was behind us, and when the lead thumb in the sucking shenanigan would begin to heal from its bone deep and callous cuts from two years of rubbing on her lower front teeth.

It became so desperate, on day two I actually caught her holding baby Brie, her doll baby, and found each of them sucking on one of the doll's plastic thumbs.

And the whining.
And the tummy aches.
And did I mention the whining?

Mind you, we aren't even using the Thum paint at this point. This is now a battle set entirely in the landscape of Bella's determination. One so fierce that it was threatening to destroy our family vacation.

So we called a Team Time Out on the Anti-Thumb-Sucking Initiative. A reprieve, if you will, where we could give it a sporting shot without all of the pressure. And most importantly the break provided a period of re-stabilization and reconstruction of the war-torn emotional landscape of Bella. And we could further talk about it; even make thumb sucking jokes in an effort to plan, and cope with the inevitable; this wasn't going to be a $3 paint purchase and an overnight fix. This habit doesn't have a 3-step program, with a support group; no thumb-sucking summer camps; we will slowly lick this habit moment by moment.

After much discussion with the now-ready four year old, and the prodding of the pediatric dentist regarding Bella's rotated side teeth and her now elongated palette, we found ourselves this morning at the dentist office purchasing a more aggressive potion.

I am hopeful we will find ourselves on the other side of this in short order, much like potty training and every other uncomfortable milestone, and forget what life was like before she quit.

Bright as Yellow

The present truck pulled up the other day, and delivered a most unexpected and delightful surprise. And as I opened the small box I discovered a meticulously wrapped and assembled gift. One bright as yellow.


The present arrived perfectly timed at the end of a long day as the clouds overhead were shifting and the skies were changing blue to gray. A warming of my heart. The thought. The attention to detail. The lovely combination of textures. And yellows.

My heart was so moved. And was reminded that we are made for the beautiful. And that when we see it, and receive it, it causes our soul to sing.

July 15, 2009

Sweet Remainder

All that remains of yesterday's Bastille Day feast:


Lemon Cheesecake bars with fresh raspberries.
What a sweet finish.

This Journey towards Normal

In trying to reassemble normal upon returning from our summer holiday, I am finding my head in the clouds. I feel overloaded by all the sensory intake, the nuances of the varying scents of wildflowers, the melodic chirping of birds that frequent our feeder, the newly dark and cool master bedroom thanks to its new curtains, the chatter of the Craunlets engaged together in pretend play; remarks of encouragement that I hear Bella exclaim as she cheers on her little brother. These small but sweet fruits that our life is bearing in this season. And I find myself contemplating normal. I feel like I do this on a semi-annual basis, usually in the summer...when I enjoy more sun and have a whole lot more clear space to think.

Dave and I recently saw Away We Go, whilst on vacation, and it has acted as fuel on the flames of my unsettledness around here. And I think with a nervous excitement, that we really aren't creatures that are made for settling down. I am not wired to get comfortable and just put my feet up. I don't think or believe that we ever really arrive, I think the seasons just keep changing and moving us forward. One of the songs in the film's soundtrack has been on repeat in my mind all week; All of my days [by Alexi Murdoch]. It carries such a sweet melody. One I can dance to in my barefeet in the kitchen. Alone. With my God. With my husband. And with my babies.
Well I have been searching all of my days
All of my days
Many a road, you know
I’ve been walking on
All of my days
And I’ve been trying to find
What’s been in my mind
As the days keep turning into night

Well I have been quietly standing in the shade
All of my days
Watch the sky breaking on the promise that we made
All of this rain
And I’ve been trying to find
What’s been in my mind
As the days keep turning into night

Well many a night I found myself with no friends standing near
All of my days
I cried aloud
I shook my hands
What am I doing here
All of these days
For I look around me
And my eyes confound me
And it’s just too bright
As the days keep turning into night

Now I see clearly
It’s you I’m looking for
All of my days
Soon I’ll smile
I know I’ll feel this loneliness no more
All of my days
For I look around me
And it seems He found me
And it’s coming into sight
As the days keep turning into night
As the days keep turning into night
And even breathing feels all right
Yes, even breathing feels all right
Now even breathing feels all right
It’s even breathing
Feels all right

I feel like we are coming out of a long season where we were finding ourselves on many a nights with no friends standing near. And in a conversation last night with a new couple friend, our conversation headed to the familiar place of shared thoughts, dreams and ideas. About giving. About being available. About raising a family. About living in the city. About relationship. About our God. About LIVING.

And, I remarked that It seems like you can do a lot more when you have less. And there was such solace that poured over my spirit when I let those words come out of my heart, when I spoke them aloud, I poured them over my weary tired stir-crazy unsettled self. And I feel such peace today. Such connection. Such quiet. Such contentment in this season. Such silence. And I hope to savor this. And then I hope the wind blows, and moves me straight into my next season, when it is time. And the nomad in me, never wants this journey to stop...for all the years that I am living.

July 14, 2009

These Two

I am amazed at how much these two are growing up this summer.


Bella and Nate are engaging in a lot more convergent play--developing a sweet sibling friendship, helping one another, getting swept up into bouts of pretend play and games--though their personalties couldn't be more divergent.

It is such a treat to soak up the sun with these two.
I am so happy it is summer.

July 13, 2009

Freedom and Fun. Playcation 2009

There is something beautiful in this shot that speaks straight to my spirit. Clutching onto their free gift dime-store American flags, Independence Day weekend, Riding a train through a lush green landscape, brother and sister. Mesmerized by the whole thing. The freedom we have and so often take for granted. The exhilaration of chugging through the preserved landscape on the rail in an antique train car.


This picture also sums up our Playcation to me; the constant play and grand adventure. Curiosity and wild discoveries around every bend: trains, playgrounds, parks, zoos, motorcycle rides, patios...together, Team Craun exploring another bit of the world and temporarily making the Chicago area home for some of their creative adventures.

Check our updated picture pages here to get a glimpse of all our holiday merriment.

Weekend Moment, Return to Normal

We returned from playcation this weekend, 3 am on Saturday morning, and began to piece together normal. I made it into the studio to print both Saturday afternoon and Sunday. We unpacked, hung some new curtains, and visited with family. We caught up on our chores; we mowed, grocery shopped, and made bread dough for the week.

After all was settled and ready for the return to normal, I popped some popcorn on the stove, and we played Chutes and Ladders as a family. I feel like the Craunlets grew up so much this last week and a half. What a fun family night; sharing a hearty bowl of popcorn, climbing ladders + sliding down chutes whilst laughing and enjoying each others company.

July 8, 2009

Playcation Sneak Peek

Here is a little preview into the beginnings of our glorious adventures in the windy city, and our raucous fun times with the Grand Dubs. Team Craun is finding themselves playing morning noon and night. And feasting, laughing with family, riding motorcycles, discovering new playgrounds, riding trains and renting pedal boats. We are up to good fun so far:
 

A sculptural detail and ironwork shadow in the healing garden 
at the Ruby Room where we stayed in Wicker Park.

A Scotch and a Strawberry Mojito, we were celebrating Independence day, surely.


Nate + Bella playing with their new balls, bat + make shift tee.


Bella's princess ballerina braids thanks to Grandma Dubs; 
Grandpa Dubs in the background watching the Craunlet's play.

Nate sitting on the glider with grandma Dubs, in his naked feet.

July 2, 2009

Let the Playcation begin!

Whilst piling up all of our belongings and packing them furiously into their little cases, I realized that I failed to mention that this year's playcation starts off a little differently than last year's.
 

Downtown Chicago.
Independence Day Weekend.
Swanky Hotel in WickerPark.
No Craunlets.

Sometimes, different is good.

July 1, 2009

Ready or Not, Here We Come!

Team Craun is gearing up for the 2nd Annual Playcation with the Grand Dubs. And to get into the spirit of the full-day-fun + frolic adventures to come, I was pouring through the more than 700 pictures from last year. 

And still, my favorite shot is this one: 
 
Here is Bella, 3 going on 13 at the time, and the not-yet-2 Nathaniel with the Grand Dubs. 

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