May 30, 2011

These Two.

Keep us constantly on our toes. And laughing.
I had the camera out and on-the-ready all of this weekend, so we got some fun shots of our foolery and shenanigans outdoors. We even updated our picture pages, click on over here to check it out.

Three Day Weekend.

It's amazing how refreshing a single additional day can be to a weekend. We managed to eek out some fairly productive days--which is also somewhat astounding--given all the cook-outs and parties, walks in the park, and ice cream outings.
 
Hope you all had a happy Memorial Day.

May 26, 2011

On Deck.

My current reading pile:
I think we've finally decided to bite the bullet this year, and sign up for Cleveland's CSA and be delighted and possibly overwhelmed with weekly fresh + local produce. On top of our gardening efforts; in which we also hold high hopes.

May 25, 2011

Dear Craunlets,

May you both always be voracious readers, and remain insatiably curious about the world. May your laughter always have abundant space in this home, and may I forever be picking up things like books laden with place-markers, puzzles, and small sculptures and installations that have been fitted into every crevice of our living space. May we always track colored chalk across the carpeting whence coming in from the outdoors also with sticky hands from exuberant bubble-blowing. May you always be creative and independent problem-solvers, and contributors in all of our family conversations.
May you always have the space and time in this home to become the very two people that you are made to be. May you grow into these people, and never lose sight of the importance of love and truth, of kindness, and compassion and gentleness. May you always be unswervingly good and loyal friends, and stewards of this earth.

Love, 

Mama

May 24, 2011

Love of Letters. And What I do.

People, I know you all know how much I love printing and making books; it's what I do. I am lucky to do what I love, and I get to teach it too! It feeds me, and gives me the energy to be all the other me's...the wife, and mom, the Associate Director, and gardener, and baker, I know -- blah, blah, blah.

I'm a wee bit too busy right now, having fun mostly. I am teaching a super fast, almost-everyday paper-making and book arts residency to some inner city first-graders. And it is AMAZING. However, incredibly draining. [But, hey -- what a great launching project into the wide open summer!] Today almost 60 first-graders dipped their hands and screens into the pool of wet papery pulp, and by God -- they made sheets of paper! It never ceases to be such a magical thing.

So, I'm at least keeping up with my e-mail inbox [this task makes me feel sane] as it's the primary communication source for all of my other jobs [so it's also pretty much mandatory] and yesterday, a friend sent me a terrific link to this video:

It's a yummy quick overview of letterpress printing. And it's lovely, and graphic, enticing and so refined. It doesn't look like printing is a messy thing at all! Amazing! Watch it, and you'll know even better why I love what I do.

I mean, really: the detail shot of the paper gripper's rising up to grab the paper. My heart flutters.

May 22, 2011

The Weekend.

It was every bit full of terrific hard yard work and much outdoor play.
The very best combination of the two--in my opinion--and the making of the most fabulous of weekends. Click over here, to visit our updated picture pages.

May 21, 2011

Weekend, Outdoors.

Sometimes, it's a quick glimpse of the two of them together. And I am undone. These moments of friendship and collaboration. The sweet togetherness, and tender conversations.
Happy Weekend, at long last. The sun is shining, and I hope to find ourselves outside most of our awake hours.

May 19, 2011

Yesterday.

This fresh flower arrangement came home with Dave in a stunning and subtly flared purple glass vase. 
And they smell as absolutely incredible as they look; lucky me, I know. I am loving the purples and greens this Spring.

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

We asked. We plead; we even implored.
And it did. And now we are overjoyed with the current cloudy + sunny blue sky. So we are off to feed the birds.

May 18, 2011

On Average.

Belle's third quarter progress report came home in her backpack the other day. It's grades in every single category were exactly identical to her report card for the second quarter, only in this one, there were way more items listed under each subject in regards to graded activities and assessments. 
Raising a most-daunting over-achiever, her average for each of the ten subjects is a 100%. Is that possible in any grade other than Kindergarten? It's freakish to run down the column of numbers--a sea of whole fractions like 12/12, 5/5, 10/10, 25/25--which means that every single answer on every single paper that Belle has completed for a grade has been correct. And this report is collated by three different teachers assigning grades. It's absolutely astounding to me.

Being a proud mama, I've shared this news with several friends and mothers, trying both to gauge the norm, and also understand that this is even  true and possible. One of these friends remarked certainly and suddenly to my concerns:

From day one, we have all known that Bella is that kind of smart.

And I thought, yeah. In complete agreement. It's crazy that this is a perfectly understandable extension of her personality. This girl who has always been in her head. This girl who hungers for numbers, and letters, and reading, and writing. This one who questions every bit of this big world with her every breath. The one who is always so complex and contemplative. 

My only hope is that kind of smart allows a happy life; one that continues to be always full of wonder, and joy, and love.  That she remains compassionate, and loyal in her friendships, and always has time  and priority for play. I've worried about these very thoughts before, and I find myself still less concerned about the brains, and grades, if these things remain.

May 17, 2011

On Project[s] and Too Many of Them.

The constant shuffle of furniture from room to room this week is the certain mark of what too many projects in the household at one time looks like. I am up to my eyeballs in one artist residency concluding and installing soon, and another frenetic one just taking off. Top that with my other jobs, and a few late night design projects, and we have hit mental capacity here folks.

The Craunlets, eating dinner at their tiny art table in the kitchen last night, were giggling and making the best of all the additional stress in the household. Which I sadly appreciate, but failed to last night when I couldn't even think straight with the cacophony of their playful happiness and laughter. How do they always find joy, and further manage to even slow down the day's demands to what is more reasonable --and certainly more fun--without any worry for tomorrow? How can I get so strung into stress and coordination details that are completely out of my hands, that I fail to appreciate laughter? That I fail to savor these sweet moments when they are absolutely the uninhibited little selves that they are? The ones I count my highest pleasure to know and continue to grow. And yet I pass out all of this hurry up and wait. 

This morning I delineated all of the demands. I drew a line at my capacities and then listed off all the periphery tasks still out there, and I was met with the sweet reminder that these things are not within my control. That it isn't cause for a single moment's stress, but rather permission otherwise. Permission to let all those things go, and to move forward in hopeful optimism and renewed spirit. 

And Nate and I shared laughs over our little lunch this afternoon--crowded in the kitchen--and completely enjoying ourselves.

May 13, 2011

Onward, Weekend.

Most of the days this week ended this very way; the Craunlets sharing the width of our small couch.
I think it's one of the sweetest things as a parent to watch your children growing into good friends, and  to witness their deep love for one another. Also, hearing your child read; amazing. Hearing them read to their younger sibling; absolutely heart-melting.

Happy Weekend, All.

Teacher Appreciating, Continued.

Wanting a garden after we whipped up a dozen or so tulip cards for teacher appreciation week, we decided a little present of potted life would surely be the way to go for our biggest note of appreciation for her primary teacher, due this morning. 

For weeks, we have been receiving fliers sent home in Belle's parent folder outlining this week's theme Fun in the Sun, and all of the related yellow and summery festivities to celebrate and honor their teachers each of the five weekdays. I work well with themes--potentially to a fault--so I was ecstatic last week when I saw these yellow planters full of pansies in the garden center. Ecstatic because well cared-for pansies should bloom all summer. They were a bit tattered, and in need of a little love, but being clearanced out at just over $3.00 the rescuer spirit in me simply couldn't pass them up. Last weekend, after all the dead-heading, I was a bit uncertain of my choice. But yesterday, to my delight after all the sun and rain of this week, new blooms had opened prolifically throughout the plant, and it was looking as full and luscious as I had dreamed. Just in time.

Not only were these flowers perfect matches for the theme, but they worked fantastically for the idea I had flagged from the Fiskars craft pages, here. Bunting tied to pencil posts?! Brilliant! I knew we needed to do this the moment I spied it. 
I already had a big spool of lemony yellow cotton baker's twine on hand, and within minutes, I had various sheets of perfectly coordinated papers culled from my studio supplies. Now it was simply a matter of cutting, folding and stickering--I even had a full package of perfectly-sized white alphabet stickers ready-and-waiting for a project they could be a part of.
After loving the scalloped banner of thanks, I thought a bit more message would be appropriate, so I decided to make a little coordinating pennant with more of the same paper, cut into a diamond and folded around a bamboo skewer. I loved the message pun; it seemed so aligned to Kindergarten, and the incredible progress Belle has made in a single--and her first--academic year. 
It's been astounding to witness and encourage her growth; and to see her march off this morning for school--arms full of life--with her huge smile.

May 12, 2011

Teacher Appreciating.


This week is Teacher Appreciation week at Belle's school, so we have been around-the-clock busy crafting up a variety of cards and small presents for each of the themed days and activities. First, we created a small garden of tulip cards--one for each of her teachers.


The project [and tulip template] came from here, but it called for a pipe cleaner stem that we handily replaced with some green popsicle sticks that we oddly already had in abundance. I pretty much refuse to craft with pipe cleaners--for the record--it seems they are impossible to be made straight,  are never as structural as one might desire, and they absolutely do not behave nicely with white glue. We happily modified our versions with the sticks, which aside from making them sturdier, also brought them down in height, which I enjoyed.  

Of course, the modified height required that we shrink the tulip template to 75% in our printer settings. And the leaves, well...changed them up too; not only did the leaves on ours need to be appropriately made in green, we also desired for them to be closer to the actual shape of a real tulip leaf. I know, I know...it's these unrelenting details all the time. For the tulips, we traced our reduce-scaled template onto a variety of textured and two-sided yellow card stock sheets that we had on hand from previous projects, so we inadvertently upgraded our paper choice as well. Why not, I suppose, we've already departed from pretty much every step of the project at this point?!

The tulips certainly held their own sweetly as individual cards, but I really enjoyed them together as a small garden. This very notion--of wanting a garden--leads us to our main gift for Belle's teacher. That one will be up tomorrow. Ah, the suspense...Kindergarten crafting gets pretty intense around here.

May 10, 2011

Busy Making.

This pencil totally makes me smile. I have found it's message quite encouraging these last handful of days, as I have been furiously tracing, cutting and pasting zillions of hexagons in my studio.

May 9, 2011

On Music, and the Pleasure of Being Known.

Dave bought me two albums for Mother's Day. Both sweetly poetic hopeful; rich to listen to and inviting. [The YouTube links below are two of my favorites; one from each of the albums]



Because he knows me so well.



Both infectiously melodic and a measure bittersweet; perfect partners for my quiet afternoons in thought and work.

Mother's Day; the Quiet and the Loud.

White petunias nestled into our fence planters with some tall grasses.
We indulged in a terrifically refreshing weekend mostly outdoors in our gardens. We tended first the kitchen gardens in the back, laying straw down for our blooming strawberry patch, and making a pup-tent trellis for our already-reaching-up sugar snap peas. Then we moved to the front gardens, and all of the hanging planters. Belle and Nate tenderly helped nestle all the white petunias and tall grasses into each of the five window boxes that chase the top of our low fence. The sun shone brilliantly--with a breeze keeping us comfortably cool--while we worked and played our day hours away.
Espresso Macchiato at Erie Island Coffee downtown; indulgent quiet.
Craunlets busy at their desks in a flurry of making Mother's Day cards.
The Craunlets showered me with several hand-drawn cards, and many extra hugs. And the hubby cooked up a mighty delicious batch of vanilla waffles which he served with a warm cinnamon-infused strawberry compote for breakfast.

Laughter and hard work, interspersed with many breaks for ice cream and exploration, finished with  a picnic supper on the grill -- my favorite kind of weekend.

May 7, 2011

Week[END]. Yeah.

It is here. Hope yours is grand. 
Found this old picture the other day. This is exactly the so-simple casual weekend that I want.

May 6, 2011

I've Been Looking Everywhere for You.

What seems like forever-ago, whilst on our little jaunt to St Louis, I enjoyed the most fabulous deep dish brioche french toast crowned with lemon curd. It was a charming French bistro, and I was all alone with the awesome husband, quietly closing out a very pleasurable but jam-packed many days and late nights of print and paper conference-attending merriment.
The combination of its custardy baked goodness, with the crunchety skillet-toasted edges, and the most divine partner of a sweetly not-too-tart lemon curd was hands down the best breakfast experience ever. And it wasn't the mimosa talking. It was such a fantastic brunch, I further enjoyed my first breakfasty dessert; the grapefruit brule'.
I have searched the Internets high and low over the last couple months for a recipe of comparison for the baked brioche french toast to absolutely no avail. Until this week, right here. And it is darn close enough. I think I could almost recreate the most fantastic breakfast ever.  And if it turns out terrific, I'm likely to try to modify this version to my memory's exactness.

On Persevering.

I finished up the last class of my morning residency and stood in quiet shock as I realized that it was Friday. As in end-of-the-week Friday. WOW. Let me just say that the May-train is moving way too fast. It is week's like this one, that I stand back utterly amazed that we can keep up with all of this, and still find time to eat well, bathe, and even eek out a few chapters of pleasure reading. That we could bust out a small edition of teacher appreciation cards, on top of completing the stack of make-up homework from missing two days of Kindergarten. Crazy busy, but still finding ourselves feasting as a family for a weeknight celebration dinner on a patio that overlooks a waterfall and a train bridge and a gushing river as the sun sets.
Once on antibiotics, the little lady sprung back almost instantaneously, a trick that only 6-year-old's and other kid-aged can pull off. On the heels of Belle's recovery, I've managed to pack in two days of  art-residencies, a handful of curriculum coordination meetings, a BFA exhibition review, and all sorts of other miscellanea for Zygote and my other professional commitments. Not to forget being home with Nate, for tickle parties, much dancing and time spent in the pages of our preschool workbooks.

All of our week shifted around and re-configured in multiple iterations for sickness, schedule conflicts, teacher appreciation week, and Kindergarten end-of-year Tea Parties, seemingly without breath. 

So appropriately Belle would miss the pep rally on Monday, where she was to be honored with a character award; perseverance. And so rightly she earns this, after months of Kindergarten nearing a close, as I cannot think of a more accurate celebration to mark her growth this year. A year that has been so monumental in her life, and ours. Unthinkably so. One dotted with so many celebrated victories, through her dedication, her heart, hard work, and plain ole perseverance.

May 4, 2011

Bye, Bye, Babyhood.

The coups hit the curb with a we are free sign attached. They lasted only a moment; a certain closing of an era. It seemed best to release them in the manner in which they were attained.

May 3, 2011

On Never Googling Your Sick Child's Symptoms.

Likely, whence your child begins to display a few disconcerting symptoms, a Google search using the words: child, symptoms, bite, itchy, fever, vomiting is not the best of ideas.

It all started on Sunday in the middle of an otherwise quite enjoyable afternoon, when Belle was overtaken with extreme fatigue. We were at a Bridal shower, the fun family kind, but inevitably, also the kind where there is a lot of waiting, conversation, and general boredom among the kid-ranged. So at first, I had much impatience, and little sympathy. And more than once, urged her most politely to please sit up. And then, giving up on that initiative, I offered to hold her. Blazing hot her.
OH, right. A getting-sick little her.

The one that managed to snooze off a good portion of the hour+ car ride, until it was just the two of us, and less than 15 miles from home when she surely needed to vomit. In the car. Let me spare all of the dramatic details, and just thank our Cleveland Public Library system right now. Your double-lined bags--I have appreciated them before--but now, let's say I LOVE YOU. FOREVER.  

For two straight days she continued to trade hours sleeping warmly on the couch and taking in movies. We watched a lot of Harold and the Purple Crayon. All we own, more accurately. But, it was late yesterday afternoon when Belle mentioned that she was itchy. I look over to focus my attention on her description to note she is somewhat red-allover on her face, neck and arms. And she points to just below one of her armpits; really itchy right here, she shared with emphasis. I move closer, and WHOA, there's a swollen, I'm sure a bite from something wicked, patch right where she is pointing. Larger than a dime. Which now that I type that out, sounds small...but given her small frame, and all the other circumstantial symptoms, [Including a gal at the shower who had just yesterday shown me a gigantic spider bite welt on her leg] I worried.

Then I Googled. 

And as I called our pediatrician after-hours, I calmed myself about the unlikeliness of a brown recluse spider surviving an Ohio winter. They live South of us; I repeated like a mantra. South of us.

The pediatrician urged me to give Belle a dose of benadryl, the medicine we always have on hand for Nate [our allergy-prone] and it was likely hives. GREAT. Crazy with the allover redness and itching, that I hadn't thought of that. A moment of Nate displaying even a hint of those very symptoms, and I'd have already fed him an entire bottle of the stuff [or the appropriate dosage, certainly]. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was lamenting over the lack of application of understanding in this generation of students? Hmmm, there I am added into the very same category I was criticizing.

Before advising that I wait it out until any one symptom worsens, the doctor asked about her throat. Fine, I reassured her, after inquiring with Belle.

Until the middle of the night that is, after bemoaning every minute in her sleep, Belle  wakes me to tell me that her neck hurts. MENINGITIS, I quickly gather panic-stricken as I rub the sleep from my eyes. Neck? Do you mean the inside of your neck? Yeah. Ok, well that's called a THROAT. The very one I asked about yesterday, perhaps? Now it is burning? OK. And it hurts to even swallow. Terrific, that is called Strep most likely, and another day home from school.

So we land ourselves a quickly-scheduled sick visit. Can I insert here how much I LOVE our pediatrician's office? I was called back last night, by the doctor herself, in less than 5 minutes after my call. And I had an appointment this morning immediately upon calling. Because we packed up quickly to get there, I all but forgot to include a small arsenal of medicine. Rushing to be on time, I mostly wanted to make sure I put pants on the Craunlets, and combed Belle's hair.
This lack of foresight to pack drugs, makes certain that in the brief window of time that we waited for the doctor in the patient room, Belle all-over breaks out in hives 10 times worse than yesterday. After reading aloud When I grow up, Belle hits it horizontal for the remainder of our visit. Rising only for the strep test, a complimentary dose of benadryl, and to be carried to the car.

With a dose of antibiotics now in her belly also, she is asleep on the couch. Getting all better already.

May 2, 2011

Under the Weather.

Belle is home from school sick today. So we begin the week in tatters. 
Slowly, in our pajamas and taking in some Harold and the Purple Crayon on video whilst noshing on cinnamon toast.

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