January 30, 2011

We Are Ready.

Belle waits for her final Ballet class of this semester. 
Her hair all fancied up for the in-class performance.
And the flowers that await her afterwords.
Yeah, we are ready for Spring already.

January 29, 2011

Piling Up, as You Could Just Imagine.

This weekend--so far--has yielded quite a pile of pretty paper spheres. Productive, certainly. And quite unbelievably relaxing to just be thoughtlessly making multiples.

January 28, 2011

Sweet Six, and the Making Madness that is Already Under Way.

Less than a month out now, the little Miss will turn six. So, I am busy crafting up a paper storm around here for all sorts of festive party cheer and decoration. 
The proposed party theme that we are working within this year is Sweet Six. As she will surely not let us have this much input on her sixteenth -- we are taking the opportunity prematurely -- with a sweetly homemade paper party with undertones of an old candy shop, and one that will quite likely include a classic doll cake, as well as a small tower of cheery cupcake companions. 
Above, are the small beginnings of our first balloon-free party in as long as I can remember. I am loving both the charm of these simple paper globes, and the gloriously springy hues of the pinks and yellows that I am using, as they begin to pile up in my studio.

January 27, 2011

Bookbinding By the Pile[s], the Third.

At long last, the third and final pile of Kindergarten weather books, and a certain turn towards the wackier. [To check out pile number one and two, click here and here, respectively.] 
Interestingly, this class was my most frustrating of the six that I worked with this semester. I waited to finish them last intentionally, with bated breath, even. They seemed--on a whole, strangely--completely unable to listen. I know, you are all thinking "Duh, Kindergartners...what kind of expectations does she have of 5-year olds" but seriously, it seemed constantly as though the essential understandings between the hearing and the translation into the doing, were entirely lost on them. Gone. Missing. Collectively. Absent. Like lights illuminating aggravatingly low, and set on a dimmer switch that couldn't be made any brighter.
But there is a spooky charm to them. Certainly the furthest away from comprehensible weather, but none-the-less still quite visually arresting. Almost more so, even. 
I find a lot more darkness; depth. An unapologetic use of dull colors, and strange symbols with accumulated mark-making.  
And on the other end of the spectrum, reckless abandon with color--at apocalyptic results--like the holy hot pink illustration. I am pretty sure that if I ever experience this day, we are near the end folks.
None-the-less. All the Books. Are. Done.
And overall, quite wonderful--a tall stack of colorful accomplishment. It will certainly be a bittersweet goodbye tomorrow, as we close out this residency together.

49cent Find

The little man and I headed to our favorite thrift shoppe this morning, to deliver a trunk-load of donations. Whilst there, we decided to stroll around a bit. And we treasured upon this lovely sweet find. 
A charming simple game called Merry-go-Round. At 49cents [and with a green tag, we further garnered a savings of 40%] we could barely resist its pull. After accounting for all of the pieces, and glancing at the premise of play--we were totally sold. A thematic, color-pairing and object-matching game. The illustrations and wacky colors totally drew me in, and the perfectly-age-appropriateness to Nate--at this very moment--was a total score.
We have played four raucous rounds already this morning. 
And so far, he is KING Winner of the game. All rounds.

January 26, 2011

Bookbinding By the Pile[s], the Second.

Copious more amounts of glue and time, and we have pile number two. [Pile number one, here.]
Only one more class of books await their covers.
How awesome is this illustration of a coming storm? 
Five, people. Kindergartners are mostly five. How incredible are the subtleties of this piece? The restrained palette and broad mark-making is just unreal to me. So quiet and lovely.

This Constant Learning

There is little that tops watching and cheering alongside your children as they learn and master something. To solve a difficult maze or puzzle, or to write their name in legible letters. To successfully orchestrate the tunnels of a marble run, after much trial-and-error. Their tiny hands and fingers holding pencils. Navigating scissors.  Stacking blocks carefully. Having taught more than 120 5- and 6-year old's this semester, I am again poignantly reminded of the fruits of the labor and investment that we have poured into our children. And I count it a great treasure to have this opportunity.
This semester I met a feral child. No joke. One who was six years old, and seemed to have almost no prior contact with humans--the teacher kind, the child kind. Never met a single day of school. He was blankly just aware of his existence. Never held a pencil or crayon in his hands. Stared at them with absolute wonder.  Timid. Reserved. Scissors too. I met and grew to know, also, classes of wide eyes and giggles that couldn't begin to form the symbols of their name in any logical order or legibility. And this is Cleveland. These are neighbors. Children growing up parallel to the Craunlets. This same next generation that we are raising up. Trusting with the hope of our collective future.
And I am so glad I get to work with them. It takes every shred of my energy some days, and it weighs so heavy on my heart. But the rewards; this same watching of mastery! Their illuminated eyes of accomplishment that shoot up towards mine. An unspoken: I got it, Miss Jen -- I GOT IT!! And suddenly their little spirits rise so high. Soaring. They know that they have mastered something. Overcome. And that it also has great value. And it is victory. 

And it reminds me. Repeatedly.
I love my job.

January 25, 2011

Bookbinding By the Pile[s]

I am wrapping up two artist teaching residencies with a total of six classes of Kindergarten this week. Three of the classes worked on fantastic weather illustrations, to culminate as artist books. 
All of the images are monoprints that they created on cotton paper. Lovely. The vibrant saturated illustrations just sing gloriously loud and happy. Finishing these long residencies is always bittersweet, but as the final art pieces pile up -- it is such a celebration and sense of victorious accomplishment also!
 
So, for those three classes to capitalize on full image spreads for their illustrations, we selected the drum leaf structure. And friends--holy PVA--it's been a lot of glue! Seriously. Figure sixty plus kids with five to seven illustrations each, and a cover. All glued together. I'm a huge they must make it type of art instructor, but one also furiously bent on helping them exceed even their own wildest expectations. 
And good grief! It might be the amount of hours that I have spent with these, but they are so  unbelievably LOVELY.  Truly gorgeous and energetic books depicting weather. And the bright pile pictured above is only one of the three classes; the other two--similarly sized--are still awaiting their covers. In looking at that vibrant stack of spines, they are such exuberant expressions of a multitude of weather conditions...I just LOVE them!

January 21, 2011

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XXXV

This week started itself off with a screeching halt. And I am talking the all-day aches and chills, losing-your-stomach-to-the-flu kind of halt. My terrifically loving and supportive family let me rest, and showered me with all sorts of art-and-crafted feel goods. Mid-week felt like the true beginning of things, rendering a short week for us -- which has been both sweet and timely. We visited friends, where we dreamed and laughed, and we managed to eek out quite a good bit of work as well. And then quickly, like lightening, we have found ourselves on the edge of a weekend!

The snowglobe has again been shaken and the white stuff is piling up in Cleveland and softening the days and nights. Slowing activity, and bringing us all closer in.

This week, as I reflect, I am thankful for:

331. health. and for food that tastes good again, and stays in my stomach.

332. that AGAIN we rest in lifted out-of-network sanctions from our health insurance! This week we were once again victorious in our ever-increasingly long battle with our insurance for non-penalized and continued coverage of Belle's casting for her spine. And I am thankful that we are also soon approaching a fork in that road, as we look forward to this next cast potentially being the last before we transition into bracing. I am thankful that our insurance, through much arm-twisting, let's us continue to say NO to surgery! YEAH! New readers who are unfamiliar with Bella's long relationship with casting, due to her very curved spine, can catch up here, here, here and here.

333. family. I am so glad to have my husband--my very best friend--and my two rambunctious Craunlets. It makes me want to squeeze them all the time. And with that, I am glad that we are raising little snugglers.

334. face-to-face conversations with friends. For visits, shared meals, and kid play-times. For dreams, and ideas, and laughs. Relationship is surely what we were made for.

335. the constantly gone-missing or lost, that is somehow always found, recovered. So redemptive. We recently turned the house on its head trying to find our lost letter "P" beanbag.
336. my artist-in-residencies. They are a ton of work, and incredibly body-exhausting, but I love bringing print and the artist book to some of Cleveland's most underprivileged children.

337. grace. And I am so glad that there is new grace afforded with each day.

338. future pillows for the reading tepee. And for having a pair of voracious readers to soon appreciate them. Who could resist this playful fabric, already broken up into panels?
339. laughter. Though I often crave more quiet around here, the raucous sounds of giggles and fun times and fantastic grand adventure always acts as salve upon my weary heart.

340. the getting-going on our planning of an early Spring getaway.
 

January 19, 2011

Bouncing Back

Feeling back-to-normal at last today, and it is sure terrific to be in the full swing of things again. 
That, and to be eating food. Oh, how nice that is.

Enjoying Winter

See our afternoon of sledding shenanigans by clicking on over to our picture pages.

January 18, 2011

On Feeling Better

My amazing supportive family, not only endured the few days of my bout with a fierce stomach flu, but they also showered me with well wishes, and a terrific foamie sticker feel-better badge.
Though they didn't lift my flu symptoms, they certainly did my spirits. Also, having a young reader-writer is such a delightful thing. How sweet is that precious card?

January 15, 2011

Shaking the Snow Globe

The view looking out of my studio windows is most certainly like peering into Narnia from the back of the wardrobe. We have 16 or more inches of snow on the ground right now, and the sky is still dropping flakes. This winter has been so unexpectedly magical...
More inches of the wintry white is on slate for this weekend. That, and a request from the Craunlets for sledding, that we hope to honor this afternoon, on our ratty-tat wood toboggan.

January 13, 2011

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XXXIV

YEAH, Winter. Bring it! It's been a snuggle-up-with-a-mug-of-hot-cocoa kind of week here. And paired with a slowing of all my work commitments; it is so timely!

This week, I am thankful for:

321. the prelude to the winter storm that seemingly just won't quit. And a most surprising appreciation and patience that I have had with the piles of the white stuff in which we are finding ourselves enveloped. Here are the inches that began the last several days.
322. a balmy little escape from the onslaught of of this most fantastic winter storm with my little guy to the Cleveland Zoo's Rain Forest.
323. being captivated in awe and wonder of created life. Getting up close looks at animals walking, hopping, swimming, and doing what they were made to do just inches from our view. I hope to never tire of this amazement.
324. for counting, and more fun beanbags whipped up by Auntie A. And for the good fun times of filling them up with their beans. Even though the aftermath required both our tonka trucks and nearly a full hour for clean-up from our efforts.
325. making mini cupcakes with my mini's. Because surely there is cause for celebration in the every day. And what's not to love about those fantastic rainbow candied mini chips?!
326.  really...look at the cuteness of my mini's -- who could resist?
327. and even mini's with their own precious but pretend mini's. Please, somebody slow down the cute train...
328. walkie-talkies, and the crazy fun and wildly humorous nonsensical conversations that can now occur between rooms.
329. the finishing of my edition of 10 Walking in Circles artist books for submission into the second Monumental Ideas in Miniature Books Project [MIMB II]; I am so pleased with how they turned out.
330. for treasures of both smallness and cuteness, and even some function.

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