December 31, 2009

Ringing in this New Year

May your New Year be joyous and bright; and may you ring it in with many bells and whistles. We are certainly ready for a new year in this household. Here are our preparations for tonight's countdown festivities with friends:


And here, whilst I was preparing our hats, bells, whistles + horns for later, the Craunlets are making crowns for their babes, and later for themselves and a friend for their sleepover tonight.



And this is how we rung in our Noon Year's Eve:



Happy and Safe New Year's Eve to you and yours.

December 30, 2009

The New Look of Play

The Craunlets were lavished on by their Grandparents with a few large toys for their Christmas presents this year. Toys that they will share; investments that support their pretend play adventures, and their love of reading and making art.


Our recently spare room, now houses our newest toys from the Grandparents. And hopefully, in short order, a desk for myself as well. The very beginnings of our work/play/school space that I have long desired [remember? here are a few reminders: here, here, and here.] is off to its first iteration. Now, to get the Craunlet's Christmas tree down, and switch out the paint color. And then some shades, or fabulous cling window vinyl, perhaps. Always a project on slate; somehow our spaces are never static for too long.





We also used Christmas break to get caught up on our picture pages. For a visual update of all of our recent shenanigans, take a looky-lou right over here.

December 29, 2009

Song of Semantics

So the whirlwind of the Holiday is settling down again for a bit, as we prepare for the New Year. And honestly, I am quite ready to close this one, and eager to start a new year afresh--with a lot of hope. This year is closing with one heck of a bang.

After learning that our portion of Isabella's casting medical bill, with our changed insurance, is higher than our bi-monthly income, we thought we might have a heart attack. So now, we are knee deep in paperwork and up to our ears in phone calls, working on a transition of care exemption. As this simple cast procedure, which is totally working WITHOUT SURGERY, happens on the calendar every 3 to 4 months. And that, entirely exceeds our budget. So paperwork, and much prayer.

Somehow, being so far beyond our reach, it is actually the least worrisome and traumatic of all the events to follow in our dramatic December, alluded to previously here, after days of Internet silence whilst we were trying to regain our footing.

Not two weeks into our month, we lost a deer friend. We received a phone call late one evening that he was in Hospice Care with hours remaining in his life. Our life mentor. Our biggest supporter outside of our God. A man that dreamed our dreams with us; sometimes I think even dreamed them before we were brave enough to. I am so thankful we trekked down to the Castle this Fall, what sweet memories we made with our deer friend Clyde. What a fabulous weekend we will treasure always. What a kind goodbye; such a sweet kiss.

Catching our breath from all the overwhelming and unexpectedly timed emotions, and bracing ourselves for a no-bonus year at the Architectural Firm that Dave works for, we were surprised to learn that he was being promoted to Senior Associate. We met up for a coffee to celebrate. During the day, like two young and free-of-worry adults. I remember feeling like the world was spinning. The two of us, sipping some terrible espresso, but dreaming again.

And taking the wind straight out of those sails, the very next day I lose my job at The Cleveland Institute of Art, OVER THE PHONE. Maybe that is normal? I have never lost a job. That is something to be thankful for, I suppose. In fact, of all of my current too-many jobs, I have never even applied for a single one of them. How crazy is that? And I love them, each of them. They just sort of grew naturally out of life and relationship, if that makes any sense.

So, right, back to the PHONE CALL. The most bizarre dance of semantics that I have ever engaged in; my world was surely spinning. And this afternoon, unlike the one previous, in the other direction. Several sentences from that circular conversation might forever resonate in my brain. Your class is going, it's just that you won't be teaching it. But your class is still going. I won't go further into detail, and honestly, it is bittersweet -- but I am not a drop angry, or in despair. Strangely, I am even a bit relieved.

Relieved, and actually quite excited about Dave's proposal to spend that day-a-week in the studio. MAKING ART. My husband truly loves to keep me sane. He lavishes his love and support on me; I am so lucky. My New Year's resolution is to maintain a weekly full studio day. No other work, or errands to encroach this reserved time. I can't wait for January's arrival.

Spending a few hours to myself recently, and shopping for a small gift for the husband's birthday, I wandered around Cleveland Handmade's Last Minute Market. This is where I found the print that I featured on Dave's birthday, here. And it picked up my spirits. It replaced the Song of Semantics that was on repeat in my heart. And it reminded me of who I am. And what I am made for. It redefined all my current circumstances, and what it all means. Shifted the Semantics. Changed the Game.

I can be certain that these waves will keep on coming. And the wind will surely continue to blow. But they only shape who I am. They do not govern me. And there is such hope in that. Such hope that each day, and this New Year, holds. Hope that I am running headlong towards to claim. Because it is rightfully mine. And I am not tethered to these waves.

December 28, 2009

Team Craun Christmas Day

Post-Craunlet, we have managed to carve out Christmas Day all to ourselves as a small family unit. We have a quiet day that is started by reading the Christmas Story from the Craunlet's Bible. We follow that with Stockings. As they open these little treasures first, Dave and I are usually still rubbing the sleep from our eyes. This Christmas, probably due to all of the Eve excitement, Dave and I found ourselves sitting on the kitchen counter, enjoying espresso macchiato's together. What a quiet lovely and late start to Christmas morning.


The Craunlet's rose well after the sun, but we soon found ourselves in the living room beside the tree. Dave read the Christmas Story. Next, the Craunlets opened their stockings, one small surprise at a time. It was a delight to see them sitting alongside one another on the love seat; siblings, sharing, comparing, laughing...it was just sweet.




They stayed in their same spots for presents also, and were handed a wrapped package one at a time, as many of them were quite similar, or obvious pairs. No match to the large gifts from both sets of Grandparents, but great fun, and quite a bit of things that they needed, like pajamas, and socks, and the like, as well as things that they enjoy, like books, games, and Legos. And to the pleasure of both of them, each of their babies received a present with them. Nate and Oliver got a puppy. Francie got a full ballet school ensemble that matches Bella's nearly identically.


The grandparents lavished on them this year, and our spare room upstairs is really shaping up into a great play space adjacent to each of their rooms as a result. From the Grand Dubs, the Craunlets received a beautiful wood Dress-Up Center, with a clothes hanging rod, four storage shelves, and a full length mirror. From the Craun's, an Artist Easel, and a reading Tee Pee.


Pajama's, long naps, movies, some new toys, family, fabulous food + baked sweets...Team Craun soaked in a sweet Christmastime together this weekend.

Christmas Eve

Fully ratcheted up by the morning's scavenger hunt, and a playful day at home with a myriad of baked sweets and a couple of short Christmas movies, the Craunlets were filled with anticipation to get to Grandma + Grandpa C's house.


After we enjoyed dinner there, the family settled into the living room in front of the fireplace. An older cousin begins passing out the presents from under the tree. Flooded with nostalgia and memories of similar Christmases from my childhood, I watch the Craunlets patiently wait for their presents, for their name to be read from one of the wrapped packages. All these boxes so huge against their small frames, tied up with ribbons and topped with bows, each of them holding such mystery and surprise.





The wonder, the excitement. How awesome it is to see their faces lighting up with delight at the opening of each gift. Doctor Dress-Up clothes. Books for Nate, and a giant reading Tee Pee. Art Supplies for Bella, and a beautiful Art Easel. Presents matched so well to their interests and current play passions.

December 27, 2009

When the bell Moved to 24

We decided the last box of our Advent calendar should begin the Craunlet's merriment of Christmas presents. In lieu of the sweet treat that preceded the Christmas Eve box in the prior 23 little packages, we left a monogrammed and color-coded ornament clue for each of the Craunlets, sending them both on a Merry Chase.


This was a fun change to that of the previous days, and transitioned in to full-on Christmas celebrations for Team Craun. A quite lively Christmas Eve tradition that I look forward to continuing.


Most memorable, as I helped Nate navigate his clues was his exclamation at the Kitchen, upon finding yet another tag for the searching: [full pout lip extended] Where is my sweet?? He was on the edge of despair, as I coaxed him towards his final clue destination, and reassured him that he was just a few short steps from treasure.

Bella, more experienced in gaming and treasures of the like, saw her little B tag in the 24 box, turned to Dave and I with eyes that lit up with the expression: GAME ON!! And she quickly located her clues in succession, building with anticipation and laughter.


Once they both located their small presents under their chairs at the table, they furiously opened them, and made themselves quite busy with their Finger Printing Art set, and Zoo Stencil kit. And merriment abounded all day in anticipation of Christmas Eve Dinner and presents at Grandma + Grandpa Craun's house.

The First of our Christmas Celebrations

We started this year's Christmas celebrations in a humble basement apartment on Wednesday evening. We laughed with Sandy, and Yan, and their mother Paniagua. The oldest, Luis, was out with friends. Bella and Nate played with Yan, being of similar age and interest.

We nestled a pile of presents under the tree, and talked about Christmas. What it really means. And we lavished that love on them.


Our life group decided to adopt this family for Christmas, and provide them with some holiday cheer that they would not otherwise have. Christmas tree? Check. Ornaments and Lights? Check. Grocery Gift Card? Check. Presents for each of them? Check. Each family of our life group took on a small portion of this big undertaking.

Team Craun shopped for Yan. We got him a winter sweater, jeans, a pair of leather shoes, and a build-it Airplane toy. On top of our present, we tied on a large lollipop.


What a joy it was to share our first gifts of Christmas with this family.

Oh Christmas Tree

We decided to initiate a new Team Craun Annual Tradition this year, regarding Christmas, and the tree specifically. We decreed that said tree should be purchased only whence Nate's birthday has been celebrated. It falls nicely in December actually, and about half way through our Advent count down to Christmas. Honestly, having the tree around for two weeks before Christmas seemed quite enough, and helped to more slowly ratchet into the the final days of preparations. Also, the tree stayed quite green and fresh, which is a major improvement upon year's previous.


This year, we also did Christmas on a much more conscious budget. Conscious mainly meaning dramatically less. The new budget's first impact was on tree selection. Quite a conundrum it posed. And especially so late in the tree buying season. We wanted a local tree. We wanted to buy a local tree, from a local farm, and really support our regional economy this way. However, our one-hour-away local tree farm was all sold of out trees in our budget. And an hour away. In the rain. Right-o. It is pouring winter rain on the day after Nate's party.

So, second best, we purchased a tree from a small locally-owned nursery [still supporting our local economy] that gets their trees from Michigan, so at least within the 500-mile sustainability radius, right?? And the additional pluses, their trees are already cut down, and they had several varieties to pick from in our price bracket. Of course our new price point demands that they be smaller than height of wife.


Above is the tree that we selected, its scale comparison to wife, before the trunk was trimmed, and below is the tree we all secretly [and not-so-much] lusted for at the nursery whilst ours was being tied to our roof rack.



December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas Cards

Perhaps the concept of our Christmas cards this year might have been strengthened by an earlier mailing + arrival date, but we found them none-the-less quite fun to make. Plus, the annual tradition of mailing them moments before Christmas is becoming increasingly more difficult to break around here...so, post-marked on the 22nd...they should arrive at most destinations on Christmas Eve. Just in the nick of time, once again.

Card front is pictured left; inside message is pictured right.

Team Craun is looking forward to creating some ornament masterpieces over the next several days of our Christmas celebrations, and adding them to our meager tree. I'll let you know what we come up with, and provide pictures after the holiday.

In the meantime, we are going to snuggle up in front of our diminutive lit + decorated pine, sip some hot cocoa and enjoy all the extra family time that the next several days will provide.

From our Family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Photograph taken by Dan O'Keefe of Z Media Family.

If you participate in the DIY Ornament, please share a picture with us -- we would LOVE to see what you come up with.

December 22, 2009

Star of David

I had intended to dig up these photos of Dave as part of the previous post, and turned them up later this afternoon, after pouring through a box of old photographs. One of the three boxes currently occupying space in the dining room.

Boxes full of remember when. Although the boxes were unearthed out of the attic when we received some painful and sad news about our dear family friend's passing, almost two weeks ago now, it has been a good season to be sorting through our many past lives. Looking back, as we look ahead to a New Year.


These photos are actually some of my favorite's of Dave. It was the summer of 2002. I was enrolled in a folded structures bookmaking course, and had just learned how to make these lovely little paper stars. Which I have subsequently forgotten entirely. Anyone?? I would love to re-remember how to make these little suckers...I do remember they were made with thin strips cut from magazine glossies. And one could make them quite tiny, and pretty quickly. In fact, the ones pictured here are quite large, comparably, to the smallest of the stars we made.

He is sporting his post-Italy long curly locks. Which I LOVED. Still do. Both of us in Graduate School. Doing what we love. Together. Pre-Kids, living out our early dreams together on a fabulous wooded property in Chagrin Falls. Ironically, on the property and in the house designed and built by this dear family friend we are just grieving.

Also, I need to issue an amendment to the prior post. I completely forgot the reason for our shopping tonight, CHRISTMAS. Oops. So today was mostly Christmas-free. Until later tonight. Pretty good for 3 days before Christmas, right?

Happiest of Birthday's, Husband.

Today is Dave's birthday. Most of his 32 years, it was entirely swallowed up by Christmas. So, with Nate's birthday [not quite so close to Christmas] as well as Dave's, we try to make a Christmas-free day in December [now two] to celebrate.

Most important, birthday presents should NEVER be wrapped in Holiday paper. Here is what I came up with for this year's gift, using some blue rice paper, a sturdy mailer, and some Japanese masking tape in various grays:


Also pictured, is a Tiramisu Trifle. We'll be serving that up after our birthday dinner tonight. Though, I did have the opportunity to sample the components as they came together, and I will go ahead and offer it a hearty two thumbs up. Given that it also set up this time, as I both followed an English recipe [as opposed to an Italian one] and gave it the full over night of refrigeration to gel, I am even further over-joyed. The last time I attempted Dave's favorite dessert, it was more like a tiramisu soup.

Happy Birthday, Husband.

What a year. The completion of all seven architectural exams, all of them passes, and resulting in your Architectural License. A promotion at work to Senior Associate. A year of Household remodeling, Roof Repair, Landscaping, Gutters...I could go on and on, but really...you took Home ownership by storm this year. And most amazingly, you did most of this stuff on Daddy Days. WITH THE KIDS. Good Lord. Let me say that again, all of that list, WITH THE KIDS.

And my favorite this year, is a re-beginning to dream together. Eying a property in Ohio City. A place where you could design a home for us, and we could build on the edge of a cliff, and capture an unbridled view of our city.

In that little white envelope, perched on top of the other presents that the Craunlets already spoiled the surprises out of, was this print:


It makes me think of your year. And it makes me smile about our dreams, and our years to come together. And how your work, and commitment, and love pave those dreams for us and our family.

Happiest of Birthday's, Husband.

Print by: Brooke J. Witt,
Standing Still [The World Spins Madly On] 2009

December 18, 2009

DRAMA

Unceasing Drama around here this week.
Just wanted to throw that out there.

In big type.

DRAMA.

DRAMA.

DRAMA.


It's been a crazy hysterical roller coaster of ups-and-downs sort of week, and whence I get my head altogether straight again, it will be some very FUNNY STUFF. In the meantime, I'll go back to the maniacal trade-off between all of the sad news wrought with sighs and tears, and all of the good and unexpected fabulous news marked with raucous laughs and yelps for joy.

December 15, 2009

Stuff my Stocking, Installment III

These lovely Japanese masking tapes. Any of them, really. I cannot get enough. Many rolls tied together in a little stack. Barely translucent, slightly pearlescent. Available here or here...and many other places too.
Perhaps in this little wood dispenser.
The above charming dispenser is available from Design Within Reach [also the source of both photographs]

Pretty much any of the uber-compact, diminutive in scale, pieces in the Japanese wood desk set collection would be lovely. like this stacking storage.

December 14, 2009

On Turning Three, and Crazy Cardboard Constructions

Several weeks ago, when asked how he would like to celebrate his upcoming third birthday, Nate had a few specifics that he bolted out with less than a minute's consideration:

I want a train party. With hot chocolate, and ice water. WITH ICE. and a Strawberry Cake.

So Dave and I got busy designing his All Aboard, Polar Express inspired celebration by first knocking out the invitations.


Completely over-the-top, we even designed some shimmery gold tickets to include in the invitations.


Then, in usual fashion, we decided a cardboard construction was in order. And we discovered Mr. McGroovy's Box Rivets. Um, WOW. Any cardboard building enthusiasts out there??! YOU NEED THESE. Truly.

Being lucky enough to have an artist momma, and an architect daddy, Nate was going to have a steam engine scaled for three year old play.

His daddy got busy drawing.



And then building.


Meanwhile, mom was busy brewing up a mean pot of heavenly thick sipping chocolate, accompanied by some homemade vanilla bean marshmallows, and the requested cake, only made a bit more extravagant: a torted Strawberry + Custard Cream layer Cake.


And the happiest of birthday's was had.

Weekend Moment, Birthday

The baby turned three this weekend. Unbelievable. Nathaniel Pierce, our little bear, no longer a babe. We celebrated in Team Craun fashion with an all out and over-the-top train party [photos forthcoming].

In the flurry of getting ready, I took a few minutes to look back at some photos, taken when he was only a few small months. How does time move so quickly?

Above photograph taken by the sister-in-law team Angela + Emily Powers

Above photograph taken by Dan O'Keefe of Z Media Photography.

December 10, 2009

All Wrapped Up

The worst of our windows were remedied with some of hubby's TLC, and then further wrapped in shrinking plastic this year. Having neurotic tendencies, I am pretty sure I spent all the saved energy we were hoping for with the plastic, on the hair dryer shrinking process...but HEY--It is warm in this house. And when I say warm in this house, that is a treat, considering the temperatures are currently in the tens and they are accompanied with some seriously powerful winds.


That frost we knew and loved last year -- GONE.
The cold breeze that would tear through the living room -- GONE.

So, I do hereby take back all of the mean things I ever said about plastic on windows. I am so sorry. I had no idea how warm that tacky treatment could make a room in the winter.

So, to top off the tacky plastic, we even changed out our blinds to these snappy temporary paper ones, the ones that with come with free plastic clips, so as to not seal in our more fashionable roman shades. We thought we might like to raise them, every now and then, and peek out at the arctic conditions.

December 7, 2009

Weekend Moment, Salon Time

In the flurry of this very busy weekend, I carved out a nearly 3 hour sanctuary, with an afternoon in the hair salon.


I'm talking aroma therapy, neck + scalp massage, hot tea, all over red-infused highlights, a new twirly curl short do, and a glass of Chardonnay. I almost never get my hair done, but when I do, I love that it is quite an event. What a pleasure it is to be lavished on for a few hours.

December 6, 2009

Stuff my Stocking, Installment II

I am entirely undone by these heavenly scrumptious bars.

















Enveloped in a crisply folded box, the foil wrapped bar is nestled inside--this amazingly creamy white chocolate packed full of tiny macaroon coconut flakes. Someone, please...tell Santa to fill my stocking with these!

December 4, 2009

This growing-up Bella

has the most amazing way of getting my attention when I have been on the computer for too long, or working too intently on something at the table, or trying to read anything more than half a page.


She quietly sneaks near and snuggles up beside me, so tall on her long legs, and she wraps her arms around me, her fingers wandering around the back of my neck, tickling my skin and twirling the stray wisps of hair.

What a treasure.

photo credit: Dan O'Keefe of Z Media, Autumn 2009

Advent Calendar and Counting

Wow December. Already??!! Our last evening in November, we managed to hang all of our little advent boxes that I made last year...sometime well into the season...But this year's even greater accomplishment, is that I shopped that afternoon for all the pairs of treats that would stow inside, ready for Advent before it started.


All from a local candy warehouse, and the grand total [including some baking splurges for Nate's upcoming birthday] was under $20. Talk about a fun afternoon, gathering two of every foil wrapped holiday sweet treat...I felt like I was preparing to load and launch the candy version of Noah's Arc.



I am pleased and amazed to say that the Craunlets are so daily delighted that there is a little candy treat behind the numbered boxes each morning, that they haven't seemed to calculate that there are a good twenty more pairs of sweets sitting right there behind the numbers waiting for consumption. Perhaps they think they magically appear each morning, two at a time? Also, it is likely quite helpful that the boxes are visible, but hung fairly high above our love seat in the living room.


Whatever it is, I am loving the sweet Countdown until Christmas, and am finding myself quite satisfied to be marking off of the very busy next couple of weeks, advancing our little jingle bell, on day at a time.


I Hope your December is off to an equally sweet start.

*Note, though I had a lot of creative fun with this project, this advent calendar was adapted from an archived Martha Stewart Kids project from here, and Ali Edward's version, here.

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