June 29, 2012

Week [end]

I wish we were sailing this weekend, I picture it as such a relaxing thing -- though I have never been. I'm pretty sure this is our Summer to sail, somehow.


What we will be doing instead, is much art-partying. We are hosting a small gathering tonight, and attending a huge one tomorrow. Looking forward to all the celebrating on slate.

June 28, 2012

On Waking Up.

The little Miss wakes up to work. Often, before half of the household is on their feet, you can find her getting dressed for the day. She first stands beside my bed and inquires about the weather, then she throws open wide the double doors of her wardrobe to ponder her selections. Hurry.up.the.day.

Often, Nate is still slumbering away in his little cave of a bedroom, snuggled deep into his mounds of stuffed animals that keep him company all wrapped up in his quilt. The kid enjoys sleeping like no other small person I know. Slow.down.the.day.

 
If Nate is not still burrowed in, he has likely braved the few short steps to Dave and my bed to keep laying down but enjoy a little company and quiet conversation. To overhear the weather as Isabella deliberates over the just.right.outfit. for the day that is just dawning.

As soon as her feet hit the lower level, she is finding something to do. It's her most urgent business. Maybe she'll keep stitching away on her current sewing project. 


Perhaps she'll whip up a paper crown. The other day she sucked in brother Nate, and was instructing a paper mask crafting session so they could play super animals. I'm barely done with my coffee when she is asking for elastic bands to secure the finished masks. Impatiently waiting, she whips out a mini-scaled bunny mask for her doll Lucy. Must.keep.busy. Must.keep.doing.


Meanwhile, Nate is rolling around on the rug taking a break from the exhausting work of coloring in his monkey mask. Can.somebody.please.help.me.with.all.of.this.coloring?


These two, the loveliest of contrasts sometimes.

June 27, 2012

Hearing Voices.

I'm over on my art blog today, writing about an art sale that I made over the weekend, and thinking about how big and small the world is.  


Read it in full, right here.

June 26, 2012

Fruit in Abundance.

We went a bit overboard with our fruit purchasing this week at the market. My first solution was a big batch of cherry jam. We now have 7 pints in our reserve.


And today the piles of blueberries–a mounded quart, and a pint besides–remaining in our fridge demanded they absolutely be incorporated into a pie. One paired with rhubarb, and enrobed in a completely-from-scratch flaky double crust. Oh delicious!


Eating local never tasted sweeter!

June 25, 2012

On Already Being a Bit Bored of Having Too Much Time Outside.

The Craunlets have been pretty amazing about finding adventure alongside us as we work on the house. We only hear an occasional What can we do now? And scenes of boredom, like the one below, generally happen pretty close to quitting time anyhow.


It's so sweet to see their Summer friendship again, with their long hours together outside.

re: Painting and Repainting.

Because someday, this little watering can that hangs on our outdoor spigot is simply going to sing against the deep gray clapboard of the house. Someday, when all this scraping is sanded down smooth, the wood reconditioned with oil, and the layers of color are applied by brush. Someday, when this lovely old house will be again restored to her simple but full beauty.


We made some good progress out there this weekend. Dave has been inching along the front corner of the West fa├žade, and I just cannot wait to get my brush out and paint the color around the corner from the front face that we finished last season, see it here.


So, in the meantime, this weekend I spent my time out there repainting. After a season of living with both of the front doors [the screen/storm and the solid main door] being goldenrod, we thought the lines of the outer storm might be best seen with a creamy white door. And I LOVE how much this simple switch immediately cheered up the entry to our home.


Then I tackled the railing. All winter long, it's lack of sheen has completely provoked me. Not only should it be treated like trim–and semi-glossy at the very least–but the top rail should absolutely encourage the  hand to slide easily along it. 


After all, it's the first herald for visitors to come-on-in, before they get to that gorgeous door that insists upon it more ardently.

June 22, 2012

On the Witching Hour.

Because sometimes I am so easily overwhelmed, that a solution can be sitting right in front of me with marquis lights and flashing arrows, and I will actually perform overwhelmingly difficult maneuvers to get myself launched up and over it without realizing the absurdity. Unfortunately, this behavior gets really exhausting, causing me often to contribute to Craunlet crabbiness, and by the time that Dave walks through the door, the three of us can be quite the unpleasant choir.

There is a piece of our late afternoon in nearly every single day that is reliably awful.  I often call it the witching hour. It's a fuzzy time frame between 4 and 6 pm. Sometimes, when we are lucky, the onset of miserable waits until closer to 5. On rare occasion we escape the terrible altogether. It's that last stretch of our day, the transitioning into the evening -- just ahead of Dave's coming home from work.
 
Actually, I had almost forgotten about this witching hour. I have cautiously orchestrated our days and committments around this time slot for so long, that I almost forgot that those hours still existed. It became an untouchable time–never to be scheduled with any activity or commitment–reserved as the most dreaded portion of the day. Inadvertently, I was making certain it would stay this way indefinitely.  

Isabella's school schedule had been the perfect diversion all year. Nate would get up from his daily rest time at 3pm, we would get ready to pick up Isabella, and by the time that we were all back from school, it was easily after 4pm. Bella would rush up the stairs to change out of her uniform and into her play clothes, and we would all sit around the table to complete homework and preschool activities. This would generally leave us with less than an hour until 6 pm. Instead of being entirely exhausted of one another, we would have many after school tasks and much catching up to do about our days.

However, with the Summer schedule now fully upon us, I have been flooded with anxiety over the return of this witching hour. Admitting that I dreaded this hour was easy. However, solving it, was not so much. My body was already comfortably bending around the solution, as it has patterned to do for more days than I would like to admit. I found myself actually about to complain about the solution to Dave the other afternoon, when it finally dawned on me. At long last.

The only sessions of swim lessons still available this Summer for the Craunlets–in order for them to each take their appropriately leveled classes at the same time in the same pool–fell precisely at this worst part of our day. Grumpily, I registered them [not wanting them to be potentially afraid of water, and unable to swim as adults] and then I immediately began to fret. Swimming lessons were causing me to stop avoiding this time of day. I wasn't sure I could take it.


And already–thankfully–they have shifted my perspective to start embracing the opportunity to lighten up the end of day with relaxing activity. To smooth out our transition from day to night with purposeful relaxation. Intentional but unwinding activity was precisely what this time of day required. Though lessons do not begin yet for a few weeks, we have already implemented our afternoon swim time, and goodness, our attitudes come 6 o'clock are much improved. And spending an hour in the sun watching the Craunlets in the water is proving to be far too rewarding to dread.

June 21, 2012

Gardening in Wonderland.

Last night the Craunlets picked our small harvest of Sugar Snap Peas. As they entered the raised garden bed, I couldn't get over how Alice in Wonderland they looked––so huge in the small contained space!
Their bright outfits and sweet postures conforming to the confines of the mesh fencing, as if they'd overgrown the space while munching away on the sweet peas that they eagerly picked and enjoyed.

June 20, 2012

These Two, This Instant.

In the days ahead of our trip to West Virginia, we asked the Craunlets to work on packing lists during their afternoon rest time. I was beside myself with what they came up with, how thoughtful and thorough they were and how beautifully their personalities were delineated through this task. Both are sweetly exactly apropos to who they are right now.


Isabella, organized and tidy, listed out her needs categorically in printed handwriting, remembering her doll Lucy, as well as including items that Mom, Dad and Brother would need to pack should they not be wise enough to construct their own lists. Bless her heart, she even thought to include coffee under her Mom Dad category. On her own list, she planned each of her outfits all the way down to her watch, necklaces, and a change of earrings––every last detail.

Nathaniel created an aerial plan drawing of the items he would need for the trip. He placed his snuggle animals [panda on top, elephant below] right next to his green sleeping bag, with a flashlight not too far from his reach on the other side. For clothes, he drew himself in his favorite play outfit and his Superman pajamas. And let's not forget art supplies, his bible and a book, underwear, his Curious George Travel Kit, and Glow Bear.

Look at the Beautiful Scenery.

I cannot remember if it was a drive through Texas or New Mexico, but I remember the insistent phrase that my father kept repeating as we drove through the new-to-our-eyes landscape. Look at the Beautiful Scenery! Again, and again, like a salesman advertising the land. 


This phrase was on repeat in my mind as we drove south through Ohio and into the topographical West Virginia and back again. I snapped several pictures through my window of the shifting terrain, as I took it in with awe.


Seriously though, Just Look at this Beautiful Scenery!

June 19, 2012

On Skipping, and Braids, Ball caps and much Running Wild.

Several days at a State Park Resort in West Virginia was exactly the springboard into Summer that Team Craun needed. The picture below perfectly captures the spirit of our almost-week getaway. I just love the freedom in Isabella's skipping steps with her sweet braids, and her curious brother's venturing ahead and taking in the densely wooded blue mountains under his ball cap.


The Craunlets got in their first official hike, covering moderately topographical ground over .6 miles in their mini-sized hiking books. They also rode horseback, and paddle-boated. In between all of the above activity, we rested hard, feasted much and enjoyed the quiet company of family in the lush landscape. For more pictures of our merry good times, click on over to our updated picture pages right here.

June 18, 2012

Vacating.

We took a splendid long weekend to West Virginia, and are just finding our Cleveland feet again today. It was an easy day's drive away, and an absolutely gorgeous escape. 
The trip afforded enough days to really soak in the quiet schedule and to take in the stunning vistas that we were constantly surrounded by. And it was also just enough days to have a day's-worth of laundry and catching up to do around here. More about our WVA adventure tomorrow.

June 13, 2012

Small Pleasures.

Yesterday I spent half an hour laying in the sun. The Craunlets swam in their brightly blue inflatable pool imagining adventures far bigger than its small walls. I listened in and out of their conversations, making sure all heads were above the water, and drifted in thought, simply enjoying the moment of relxation. 

I'm at a place of calm that I have never experienced before. At the end of my mostly-staying-at-home season [AT LAST!] and finally I find myself relaxed enough to take advantage of some of the perks that it affords. Like afternoons in the sun. Or second cups of coffee with delicately pressed waffle cookies.
Quiet thinking, and minutes where I can remember myself, and the things that I enjoy. The cycle and rhythms of the day––these patterns that life promises if we pay attention.
And the Craunlets were having an absolute blast. It seems that with permission, we can all enjoy the day. I cannot remember a single weekday last Summer like the one we enjoyed yesterday.

I think much of this freedom is actually related to the age and independence of these growing-up-too-fast babes. The fact that they can get fully into and out of bathing suits by themselves, and their knowing where to put all the wet clothes + towels after swimming is reason enough to enjoy it more. 

It's a preview of the relaxed Summer that is on slate for Team Craun, and one that I am very much looking forward to.

June 12, 2012

Week Delicious.

We skipped a week at our local Farmers Market last weekend due to our Annual Street Sale and Lemonade Smoothie Stand. We managed to patch it together with a variety of other mini-markets through out the city, and a local grocer, but it was a markedly more difficult food week. And notably a bit lacking in diversity, and much less delicious.
Needless to say, we were all pretty ecstatic to be back at our regular market this weekend. Back in the rhythm of that which has become so comfortable. 

It was a great small window of perspective as well. We expressed our appreciation to each of our favorite stands. What a delight to be growing relationships with the people and places that our food comes from.
Week Eight at the Market:

1 bunch New Zealand Spinach
2 half gallons Whole Milk
1 dozen potato + cheddar pierogies
1 head cabbage
1 pint apple cider [consumed onsite]
2 quarts strawberries
1 pint Shelled Peas
1 quart Sugar Snap Peas
4 Apple Chicken Burger Patties
1 quart Red New Potatoes
1 Peach Pie
1 dozen Eggs
8 oz Cheese Curds
8 oz Kokoborrego 1yr aged Grating Cheese
1 lb Krispie Treat Granola
1 lb. Spelt Granola
1 pint jar Maple BBQ Sauce
8 oz bag Maple Peanuts

To track back on our weekly Market adventures to date, click here: Week 1, Week 2Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6. Week 7 goes unrecorded as we patched it together over three small [and admittedly more stressful] shopping trips.

On Believing in Pink.


I've updated my art blog; you can read me over here today.

June 11, 2012

The Space between Summers.

This weekend we decided to set up the small inflatable pool that the Craunlets were given last year, when we celebrated Isabella's Summer freedom that her removable brace permitted–remember that first swim? Anyhow, we decided that since it was our official "first weekend" of Summer Break and the temperatures warranted swimming, we would inflate the pool again for some backyard water fun.

Enter our first dilemma. We knew the exact location of the pool, all cleaned, deflated and folded up for storage, but we couldn't initially locate the caps that seal in the air walls. Seemingly random aside, that proves quite important after a few hours of swim time: Dave and Nate were insistent that these two caps were black.

After some porch cleaning, and an outdoor toy rounding-up we find the two perfectly-fitting white caps. We inflate the walls, cap them, and then fill the pool with water. 
The Craunlets enjoy the first swim of Summer while Dave and I grill. Correction, Dave grills, but we both enjoy a beer together. Teamwork, am I right?

After dinner we notice that the pool walls are having a difficult time standing. So difficult is the task, that a small waterfall is watering our lawn from over the lazy low side of the pool. Dave is back out there with more air, and we seem good to go.
The next morning, the walls are entirely deflated, resigned to the ground, and there is almost a dribble of water left on the vinyl floor of the flattened pool. The Craunlets start to clean up the pool, acquiescent to the notion that we must have a hole, somewhere, and that there will be no swimming in the near future.
As they clean, Dave insists that the white caps fit perfectly, noting how they even snapped into place. This is when both of the Craunlets, overhearing his confidence, become SURE that we have mistakenly used bubble-caps for the pool. Maybe it's a hole somewhere? What happened during all that time in between Summers? And why were the caps even separated from the pool anyway?

There was a nagging unsettledness.  And Dave and Nate were certain originally that we were looking for black caps, what to do about this only memory we have from last Summer's pool? We decide to more responsibly clean up last Summer's mess from the back porch.
This is when we find two small black rubber plugs. The ones that go in first, completely sealing off the escaping air, THEN those perfectly fitting white caps that lock into place.
These super important little plugs. And we have air, and we have water–and so far, we have a hold! Let the swimming resume!

P A R A D E.

We look forward to Parade the Circle every June; it's pretty much our unofficial start to Summer. 
This year the Parade was timed brilliantly to the very first weekend of Isabella's Summer break. And as always, it was an absolute visual feast of the handmade. The Craunlets–setting an all-time best record to date–sat entirely captivated for the entire length of the almost 2-hour parade.
Artistic use of bamboo sticks, lushly dyed fabrics, towering puppets and paper mache, wind-catching streamers, miles-high stilts, dancing feet, wildly painted man-powered floats and musical instruments of every kind.
To see more of the parade, click on over to our picture pages right here.

June 8, 2012

Adventure Seeking.

Seeking a bit of adventure on our first official morning of Summer break, we headed out to preview and explore a potential location for our upcoming family pictures.
For whatever reason, I've been dreaming up a photo session that involves stairs. So when Dave mentioned this spot, and I searched out several location images online, I was immediately smitten. There's a quiet hopefulness in this space, and I just love the persistence of the green that's growing allover and blanketing the abandonment. So redemptive.
It's an expansive, but small and hidden-away crevice of Cleveland; a courtyard–half abandoned–rich with beautiful architectural detail, partly in ruin, and becoming quite delightfully overgrown.
It was fantastically exhilarating to escape into this quiet little pocket of the city, buried within a busy and burgeoning block downtown. 
We took a couple of location shots, and started dreaming up some playful possibilities for photographs.
The framing of that ivy is absolutely dreamy against those gray blocks that turn the corner of the mini terrace space.

I feel like this is a big growing-up Summer for the Craunlets, and I intend to wring out every last drop of it, keeping our days light, playful, and absolutely full of adventure!

June 7, 2012

Teacher Appreciating.

Yesterday we gave Isabella's first grade teacher this token of our appreciation:
Inside is a beautifully terrific book that I found at a local educational supply store. The book is titled One, by Katherine Otoshi, and you can turn through a preview of a few of it's pages online right here. It's a sweet story about the power of one, being yourself and standing up for friends, and about speaking up for what's right. The illustrations are clean and playfully also about color and numbers, the words lyrical yet succinct, and the message is absolutely delightful and hope-filled. 

The Japanese proverb that I wrote on the wrapping paper [pictured above] perfectly articulates our year with this incredibly talented and devoted teacher. It further tied together the content of both the book, and our sincerest appreciation for her daily commitment and investment into Isabella.

This morning, Bella brought in this paper, pin + pencil flower bouquet that she's been working on all week:
She combined layers of card stock flower pieces from an American Girl Craft kit that she stacked up with double-sided tape, and then fastened to a handful of green hologram pencils with some yellow bead-topped sewing pins. The "dirt" holding the arrangement together in the pail is chocolate-covered espresso beans.
It was cute to see Isabella crafting her little heart out at the table over several afternoons. She meticulously arranged and rearranged all the layers of the flowers to get each of them just right.
And a single butterfly lands at the edge of the pail, ONE, and it makes all the difference.

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