February 29, 2012

This Instant.

A round-up of our recent shenanigans through Instagram. I cannot believe how much the camera on my phone has replaced the real deal. But I must admit, in capturing the quick and everyday, it certainly does the task. Telling of it's convenience, as I reached for the camera the other day, the Dave remarked: You're not actually going to bring that big thing are you? Why not just use your phone? So here's a look at this week's phone pictures...little blips of life, simple.
What's left in our harvest basket. It looks like soup to me.
Super tiny plastic pirate ship model for Nate's new game.
Salt-n-pepper shakers, in a pea pod. Small and smooth.
Bella's new ruffle dress + palm tree necklace. The layers of girlie.
Superman picking apples, a recent drawing by Nathaniel.
Bella's reading hugglepod, and her new favorite series of books. A voracious reader.
Spelling words. Always spelling. S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G. New words every week listed out.
It's rainy rainy out there this morning. I love waking up to the lulling sound of the steady drops. It's such a lovely slowing to the day's beginning.

We updated our picture pages again, you can see more of what we are up to over here.

February 27, 2012

Yesterday.

We watched and listened to our two friends at the piano.
Lovely doesn't begin to fully describe the enormity of the experience; it was an absolute feast for both ears and eyes.

On Growing.

It was a weekend of much celebration, as we rung in my 35th birthday. There's something terribly official feeling about 35, like unquestionably adult. I was melancholy a good part of last week as I mentally readied for the big day. And then, cheerfully and suddenly, I let the entire weekend lift me up out of the gray. We dined and drinked a lot–just the Dave and I–simply enjoying life and conversing about how really awesome the season that we are in right now really is. It feels both comfortably content yet vibrantly on the cusp of so much development and growth–personally, relationally, professionally. 

We spent three days with and without the Craunlets just marking a stake in the ground. We've grown a lot as people, as a couple, as parents, as best friends, and spouses...and it's crazy looking back on all the fruit of constantly working the ground in front of us.
Dave tracked down my all time favorite version of the Secret Garden. We watched this movie way back when we were dating, on VHS at his parents house. It's the best version of all that I have viewed, but impossibly difficult to find on DVD. Dave's amazing like that. Always remembering, and finding exactly the right thing, with perfect timing.

I had never gardened a bit of my own earth when I first saw this movie. Us two young people, sitting beside each other dreaming, hopeful. I'd never known the satisfaction of putting down the promise of life into the cold autumn ground, to have it gloriously and green burst up through the barely-warming beginnings of Spring. I had never picked vegetables, and enjoyed them around my table, having planted them from seed myself. Never been captivated by the change that a little tending can make; never before experienced the intoxicating reward and delicious fruits of that labor.

Now I'm itching to get out to those beds, turn some soil, and bury the first of our seeds. Hurry winter, I'm ready to garden!

February 25, 2012

Fresh Flowers.

I so enjoy the life that fresh flowers bring into the house. It's a simple small thing, but lovely and so uplifting.
These brightly yellow daffodils, amidst a snowing outside, are such a sweet promise of Spring. How I am already dreaming of our gardens.

February 24, 2012

For Better and For Worse.

Another follow-up for Isabella this morning. The curvy interior of her little self, under scrutiny and careful watch. It's x-rays, and curves, numbers and degrees. And much nerve-wracking waiting. It always seems upon arrival that we are doomed to wait for the next moment of truth. Like all the change and growth that's slowly taken place–quietly and invisibly–over the five months prior, comes to light in an instant on the glowing screen that illuminates the x-ray film. A determined blip in her mound of charts and films, dates scheduled at random but regular intervals. The weight is so fiercely heavy.

We waited for half a seeming eternity this morning.
I nervously laughed when she walked back with the x-ray technician. By herself, tall on her legs, and looking all too grown up. And too familiar, comfortable, with this process. I joke to make it a straight one [please, I beg in my interior. please.] and remind her not to forget to smile. Her smile can penetrate all the heaviness, can lift it up. How joy lifts all burdens.
I finger the edges of my scarf nervously. It's poignant and bulky soft neon threads mixed in with fragile and open-weave warm whites and beigey-grays. They line up in almost perfectly straight rows, with only subtle shifts and nubs.

Bella returns. And her smile is beaming. Her hands filled with stickers. I suppose they make everything better.

We are called back to the patient room by Isabella's name. Reminded sharply that this is not solely my experience, though not reliving all those years and disappointments, those in-my-throat-fears seems absolutely impossible. Isabella is skipping, untethered by all this weight. Thank goodness. I fake that I am just as easy with all these circumstances. I pretend with smiles, and silly faces with my still-waiting babes in the tiny waiting room.
The technician delivered us to this littlest space to wait, holding a single long and dark film, so thin, showing Isabella's interior stretched tall, and fiercely curved. I swallow back disappointment. I hate seeing. I want to believe the best. I want to be Isabella-amounts of hopeful. I want to skip in this small space, and play bubblegum-bubblegum-in-dish again and again. 

Her doctor walks into a room full of giggles. "It looks good, actually it looks fairly similar to last time," he announces confidently, a large smile on his face also. And somehow, I am less reassured. I fight this always wanting things to un-do and just go away. A delusional desire to disbelieve. 

He is energetic, he is descriptive. The upper curve has gotten a little bigger, insert numbers, the lower curve has gone down a few, insert more numbers. My head is swirling. He brings me back to present, this is good, this is great–given the 5ยบ allowance of error this indicates there has been no significant change. The numbers fluid, but measured and named, they continue to feel so terrible. Shifting, this always unknown, shaped relentlessly like the sand of the shore always moved by the never-stopping tide. These moments are the tiniest of snapshots. Seconds in an eternity we are already promised. Where is my confidence? 
So now, just more waiting. We will see you in the Summer. And I want to hear all about your swimming! Everyone is smiling. Even though all of this is serious, we must rejoice. THIS MOMENT BEARS GOOD NEWS! This moment records that we still have a hold. And this moment finds Isabella healthy, and full of life. This moment she is whirling about the room, she is seven and spinning, unaffected by the prescribed more waiting that was just parsed out, and she is dancing because she knows freedom so much better. She allows herself to enter into what I withhold from myself.

I am happy, relieved, but still reluctant to celebrate. "I have no concern," her doctor relates in closing. I decide then, that I too shall not–for we have good news today, and celebration is in order!

February 23, 2012

Getting a Stitch On.

Because I don't have enough on my plate, I decided on a whim this afternoon to participate in a little stitch swap. 
Photo Credit, Wild Olive.
YAY! I'm so excited to stitch up a little 4" frame embroidery piece. And the premise is simple but full of surprise; make one, get one. Interested? Head on over to Wild Olive and sign yourself up!

On Meetings and Lazy Mornings.

It' been a week of meetings and much work. 
So we seized the opportunity for a morning of play on the rug, followed by tall mugs of hot cocoa with marshmallows.
I have these crazy impulses to check in with the Craunlets on mornings like these–the quiet after the busy–and indulge in sweet conversations with them. So I started by asking Nate one of my favorite and familiar questions:

ME: Will you be my baby forever?

NATE: Eyes wide, large smile, slow nod in the affirmative. Whispers: Yes. [pause] Except, I still want to have birthdays.

ME: OK.

NATE: [continuing] And I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I want to work all day. And then I want days off from work.

ME: What will you do on your days off?

NATE: I will play with my babies, [clarifying] my kids.

ME: How many kids will you have?

NATE: Well, maybe one or two. [big smile, eyes meeting mine] And I will have boys. All that Poppy has is girls, so we will have boys. 

ME: Will you be a good daddy?

NATE: [again, those big dreaming eyes, and wide smile] Nodding: Yes.

ME: And do you promise to be my baby forever?

NATE: [same response] Yes. [he is certain]

And all is right in the world.

It's the Details. Always the Details.

So, I've this thing for cloth napkins. 
In all honesty, we started using them for practical reasons alone, and implemented them as part of our increased household sustainability long before I was addicted to how fabulous they could be. Before I would become obsessively preoccupied with wanting a drawer full of waiting choices, to be partnered with all of our various and changing meals and moods.

Our first set was a wedding present. They are hugely rectangular and solid white with a rolled hem. I have no idea what fabric they are–sturdy, and only made soft by frequent laundering. In fact, I just down-graded them to rags this week, making space for this newest set in the stuffed-full drawer. It's remarkable to me that the original eight lasted more than a decade–just now tattered and all threaded out. 

Our second set came to us as a gift from Madagascar. They showcase sweetly embroidered scenes in the corners of rightly-sized square napkins. And the embroidery is so awesome that deciphering the front from the back is a nearly impossible chore. That's something completely amazing to me. One doesn't want to see the chains of knots and brambles of thread on the reverse side of my stitching–I always conceal that behind another layer of fabric. In defense, I do really enjoy the indulgence of double-layered napkins. Now that I'm addicted to sewing them. And the myriad of possibilities out there; I pretty much envision there's a set for every occasion and whim, and the yards of fabric and miles of threads available seem to provoke me forward on that front!
Inspiring these napkins, I recently saw this fabulous pin [via Abbey Hendrickson] that I quickly repinned onto my MAKE ME board, and then pined for an opportunity to sit and sew up a set. 
With yards of leftover creamy Kona cotton fabric from the Mitch Bear napkins I recently whipped out, and taking color inspiration from their backing fabric, I sewed up a solid set in three different thread colorways. I think the red, turquoise and olivey green are lovely against the cream, even if some of my sewing wants for a little more accuracy. 
I was reminded at how hard it is to actually sew straight lines and perpendicular intersections [as the stitches are all showcased here] especially given the tight seam allowance I wanted with the row of stitches so close to the outer edge. All-in-all, I am completely pleased with the odd little stack of nine. They are soft and lovely detailed, and make our every day dinners more delightful.
Next up, definitely these seriously silly embroidered vintage faces [via chezbeeperbabe]. I cannot stop loving the look of them, and the razzle-tazzle frayed edges of the linen totally do me in partnered with those cheeky expressions.

February 22, 2012

Silent Reading Time, Out Loud.

Bella is hanging out and reading inside her new Hugglepod, and Nate is peeking in for some conversation. They had just finished up 20 minutes of silent reading time.
A silent reading time that found Nate laying on the ground under his desk, kicking and tapping, and making sound-effects to bring his Superhero Comic books alive. Having proposed the quiet reading time, I was surprised to also hear Bella reading aloud from her new Ivy and Bean book for the full twenty minutes. 

These two completely crack me up.

Sweetly Remembered Early.

A friend in attendance at Bella's party remembered that my birthday arrives shortly on it's heels. She bestowed on me a few simple–but lavish–gifts. It was a most pleasant surprise of thoughtful friendship and indulgence.
Having just coveted my friend's charming mini colander during one of my last visits, she sweetly picked me up one all for myself.  Inside, she nestled a gorgeous handmade necklace that is exactly my style, and that hangs at the perfect length. Perched atop the present was the most aromatic bundle of cut daffodils. A heralding of Spring and new life. Their scent has filled my studio with loveliness.

A delightful start to my birthday week!

February 21, 2012

For the Love of Building.

With Nate, I am constantly stretched into the 3-dimensional. The kid is ALWAYS building.
This morning's play time yielded this quirky tall robot built with Nate's beginner erector set. I love the greens and yellows with the grays and blacks, as well as the combination of flexible rubber and rigid plastic pieces. All the parts are perfectly sized for both adventurous and practically-sized building projects.

Butterflies + Paper Globes, a Party in Pictures.

We celebrate around here by fully transforming our lower living level with party. It usually involves a couple weeks of making, and a full weekend of installation.
It's like a month-long art-party-extravaganza. 
To say that we get a wee bit carried away doesn't even begin to get at the reality of our over-doing where parties are concerned.
The night before Isabella's party, Dave and I were discussing the root of the problem. Both of our parents were simple, loving, and non-party-throwing people. Dave's family had THE VERY SAME BIRTHDAY CAKE for EVERY SINGLE BIRTHDAY. [Full disclosure, it's still a sweet spot of his; it goes straight for his soul.]
My experiences were family-style gatherings with cousins, and various sheet cakes, with gallon tubs of ice cream–the ones with the plastic red handles. The mental image of them still brings a smile to my face.
All of our childhood birthday memories left us feeling terrifically celebrated, certainly. But the adult version of our kid-selves, leaves us wanting our extravagant parties. And as our Craunlets are still smallish, [read: mostly under our control influence] we pretty much take turns throwing ourselves parties, you know, FOR THE KIDS. We really do it for them, truly, and a little bit for us too. 
We can go completely crazy with what we might have liked, and lavish it on our mini-me counterparts. It's a WIN-WIN; the entire Team walks away happy, generally carried off on a tidal wave of towering sugary cakes and miles of papery decorations. 
The transformation of our living space is something so magical, I can't even articulate. In the days of preparation, and the following weeks of living in the decoration...the Craunlets absolutely come to life with excitement. It's like living in an art installation; it takes us somewhere so awesome together, right inside of our otherwise every day. 
Our family birthday tradition centralizes on the certainty of celebration, with the unpredictability of never repeating a theme or approach–the wildly anything-is-possible with an idea mentality, paired with a stubborn we-can-build-it resolve. 
It's fabulously intoxicating to make something from nothing, and cleverly commandeer all the bits and baubles that we can gather from art + craft supplies around the house. Every birthday is a fresh challenge for the Team.

February 20, 2012

So She is Seven Now.

It happened, and there was much sweet celebrating.
Wishes were made by the little miss–a crowd of friends and family singing loudly–and her seven candles all blown out.
A tall and lovely delicious cake [from the fabulous Momofuku's Milk Bar cookbook] was heartily enjoyed in double-helpings by many. More party details forthcoming, the house is still a flutter of activity and excitement with Bella's four-day-weekend still finishing up today.

February 17, 2012

The Craunlets and ArtCares, Jr.

We don't really practice our painting skills much around here. I'm not entirely sure why, but even the words paint and Craunlets used together in the same sentence causes me to flinch. Which is kind of a shame, because more than anything, the Craunlets absolutely love making art. They are thoughtful, and creative, cautious [especially considering their ages] when creating in our carpeted dining room, and they wildly enjoy painting.


So, when they were approached by two of my colleagues to participate in the ArtCares, Jr. fundraiser for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland this year, they jumped up and down in the gallery, and alternated shouting both yeses and pleas to be allowed to participate. 

This week, they each received a 12x12 canvas, and excitedly began to paint around the table. Nate had three different studies on paper that he was referencing, and Bella was looking at one of her spread's in the family sketchbook when she first started drawing tree houses.
Nate had given the canvases a good coat of gesso while he whittled away the hours that Bella was at school that afternoon, and was eager to transfer his plan to the canvas. I let them use the real deal–deciding to get over my painting issues–and to let them feel the viscosity and mixing potential of acrylics, and get drawn in by the lure of deliciously saturated colors. Overwhelmed by the tubes of paint, and the gleaming white canvases, they elected to use my water soluble color pencils to first hatch out their plans onto their canvases.
 

From there, they were painting.  
Re-envisioning their worlds, and pouring their hearts into the project.

Nate's Building World on the left; Bella's Trip to the Park on the right.
I love the contrast of the finished results. The wild freedom of Nate's, and the regulated control of Bella's. And both so spot-on apropos to who they are right now, in subject, color and craft. 
Tonight, we are headed to the reception and silent auction, to see their works on the wall.

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