August 31, 2012

On Stocking their Childhood Memory Banks.

It was 8:30 am yesterday morning, and already a pan of chocolate brownies with peanut butter chips lay cooling on a wire rack set on the kitchen counter. The quiet house was echoing the loud strums of the washing machine on it's spin cycle.

The day before, I was whipping up a batch of magic cookie bars just minutes after the Craunlets closed the front door behind them.

On my way out to my car yesterday morning–headed again to the studio–I realized how alone I was. No little hand in mine. Arms empty of all the extra baggage, such as coloring books, matchbox cars, or polly pockets. I wondered how single I looked. Oddly walking down the few squares of sidewalk to my driveway and not dodging the errant strides of my little people underfoot. Does anyone notice? Does anyone wonder where my children are? I'm looking around curiously myself, like maybe they are lost.

Only, at the same time, I am beaming proud and excited of my two school-aged little people. Eager to hear their frantic and exuberant after-school reports of their days. Them both fighting in turn for a moment of air space and gulping in quick breaths that punctuate their long sentences. 

And I am in the studio. Hitting a stride already with a book that I am working on currently. Now having consecutive hours and days to give it my attention. I am relearning my way around the presses, and the shop; reconnecting with the community of printmakers at Zygote. Using up every minute before my attention is back on Craunlet time, and I am quickly packing up to head to school for pick-up.

A rhythm is starting. And it's wonderfully bittersweet. At times I am singing at the top of my lungs, others I am quiet and pensive–if not a little lonely. It's like I have found a long lost favorite scarf. One that still fits perfectly, but is bringing my attention and memory to a season sweetly gone but well cherished. One lived out so fully. I look back with tears of absolute joy that I carved out the privilege to mostly-stay-at-home with my babes for seven years now, and the honor to know them so thoroughly. 

I am excitedly shifting gears into this new season, where I can stock up their childhood memory bank. I'm focused right now on the after school snack. It's something tangible that I can hold onto fiercely with both hands. So most mornings, you will find that I am baking.

August 28, 2012

On Losing Teeth, and Building Castles.

Over the weekend, Nathaniel lost his first baby tooth while eating a s'more. How awesomely memorable will that one be?! As is the standing Team Craun tradition, the first tooth loss was celebrated at Chuck-E-Cheese where we got to see his new smile almost constant. 


After we got home from nearly two hours of gaming, we found his little tooth fairy pillow. Slipping his tiny tooth into the white felt pocket, Nate wondered with excitement what the fairy might bring. He was excited that she would add his tooth to her castle – certain that this is what she does with all the teeth. Could you imagine this castle, built entirely of pearly white baby teeth?


He was delighted in the morning to find that his tooth was gone, and a shiny gold presidential coin was in the prize pocket. 


Then, sharing his treasure with Dave, he asked: "where does the fairy get all of the money?" And before Dave responded, Nate speculated his own answer: "probably, she sells all the teeth.


So much for her castle, apparently she's quite the entrepreneur instead.


August 27, 2012

On Baking and Growing up Babes.

When I get busy. Overwhelmed. Or just crave an outlet for procrastination. Distraction. I bake. 


When I need to celebrate. Escape. Lavish on love. I bake.

It's the familiar rhythms of the kitchen that lure me in. The perception of having control. Commanding ingredients to create something beyond their solo existence. Exalted. Made absolutely extravagant. I bake myself into and out of seasons.

I have wildly wonderful memories of warmly fresh baked treats as an everyday after school snack. Do I rationally think my mother baked for me every single day? Likely, no. But I have entirely convinced myself this week that she did, and I am furiously trying to keep pace with this legend. 

This season is sweetly sentimental and overwhelmingly heavy. 

These two Craunlets both in school all day. This need to make so much important fuss in the afternoons. To ring out every ounce of playtime in the evening. Pour too many bubbles in their baths that are already overloaded with toys. Keep them small. Build their wildly out-of-perspective childhood memory bank. Fill their bellies at bedtime with richly indulgent cookie bars, warm and cut directly from the pan to their plates. Cups of milk to wash them down. These growing fast bodies, all dangling limbs and large smiles.

When I feel the urge to slow these two down. Savor the them that they are right at this very second. This brief and fleeting moment. I bake.

August 24, 2012

Morning with the Miss.

This morning I enjoyed some solo company with my little lady before we headed to her doctor appointment. We stayed back our waiting [and my worrying] with her fashion rubbing plate art set at a local coffee shop.


I LOVED this toy so much as a child. It's sweet to see her enjoying them now, and deliberating over all of the outfit options and hairstyles–carefully rubbing them with the crayon, and then meticulously coloring them in just so. This so-seven little young lady.


We arrived at our 6-mo "wait and see" check-up monitoring her scoliosis. I've mentioned before how much I dread these appointments here and here. These little doses of waiting–it could get worse, it could stay the same–wait, wonder, worry, repeat. repeat. repeat. It's a bittersweet mix of absolutely wanting to hold onto hope, and the in-the-moment anxiety of trusting the One who governs our unknown as we sit in the doctors office waiting for a picture to develop. The awful relentless submission of not being in control, even as the parent of the child. As the protective momma bear. So again I nervously make the same familiar request of Bella as she skips into the x-ray room to "make it a straight one," and I am smiling to hold back the tears that really have no place in her story.

After x-ray pictures are taken, we wait in a tiny quiet space and wonder silently.


Waiting. All this silly waiting, and then the climax of waiting. 


Yet again, the doctor is beaming, smiling, when he enters our room. He announces familiar again; that we have a hold! And predictably, now we "wait and see" once again. And it is 6 more months. These increments that have stacked up to more than 5 years now. These numbers and degrees, and the praying this curve to be straight. Time is passing, and she is growing–she is healthy–and still, the brace is holding!

August 23, 2012

Because Sometimes We All Need a Little Wind in Our Capes.

He made a pretty solid case this morning, about the necessity of his day off being a fun one and well spent. I selfishly petitioned that we go to Zygote, so that I could get some work done and he could sit and make some drawings. He's done that–almost always readily–for the last two years with me whilst big sister has been in school. Not today, he said. His charming smile stretching over his growing-up-too-fast and handsome face. I only want to do fun things, and no working. He points his thin and outstretched finger at me, eyes lit with the certain hope that he is convincing me. Imploring that I not drag him along as a good sport to my work. He is standing on his history of impeccable behavior there, and asking for an exception today. How could I not grant this request?

After all, work has its way of getting done. And today, what's most important is my Kindergartener. The one who tomorrow is back in school, and done staying at home with his momma full time. Though we have all sorts of random days off, holiday breaks, and years of Summers ahead, he is delineating this new season, and he is laying claim on this last day.

So we spent our morning at Zygote–not to work–to make some art. 


And this kid rocked out printmaking like a pro.


His Superman Monoprint absolutely makes my heart soar. As does his proud smile.


The ride through the press put a little wind in Superman's cape – I suppose sometimes we'd all like a little wind in our cape.

August 22, 2012

First Day.


Upon entering the big front doors of school, Isabella quietly reached over and took Nathaniel's hand. Away they went, together. Day One. And this new season begins.

August 21, 2012

Time, I Suppose, and a Little Bit of Melancholy.

Tomorrow both babes will go to school. I threatened that I might cry all day at the dining room table, but Nate assured me that it wouldn't happen -- "you won't do that, you would run out of crying juice."

Lego Watch, Nathaniel's going-to-Kindergarten present.
It's a bittersweet season, as happy as I am to have an increase in both teaching and work opportunities this semester as well as all of the additional art-making time I'll have in the studio, I'm a bit teary over all the change. Absolutely rejoicing over the savings for childcare, but stilled by the relentlessness of time–these Craunlets, growing up so fast.

Days-of-the-week embroidered cloth lunch napkins, and robot reusable snack bags.
Nathaniel's Book Bag, and other robot-themed matching pieces.

He's been pretty much practicing for Kindergarten these last two years with Isabella in school. Tomorrow–at long last–is Nathaniel's first day of school.

Nathaniel's blue Goodbyn lunchbox, decorated robot-style.

We are as ready as we can be. I suppose.

August 20, 2012

P L A Y C A T I O N | 2 0 1 2

After nearly a week-and-a-half of staying with the Grand Dubs, Team Craun is back from our annual Playcation. This year was marked again with much playgrounding and adventure, laughs, hearty meals, and many late nights. Playcation has become the most terrific annual trip to ring out the end of Summer!



Dave and I were also able to take a two-day excursion to Galena–a small town with a walkable and charming downtown–to celebrate our anniversary. We stayed only one night at a fabulously comfortable + detailed artist-owned bed-and-breakfast, but the two day getaway felt like forever as we enjoyed the freedom to wander and explore without the Craunlets.


Playcation 2012 was chock full of motorcycle rides, sprinkler runs, splash parks, endless streams of chitter-chatter from the Craunlets and absolutely gorgeous weather.


In our moments indoors, the visit also afforded a lot of time for playing new games, piecing together a hugely overwhelming puzzle, and some sewing projects–including the embroidery of Nate's days-of-the-week lunch napkins for school.


Back on Cleveland time, we are now busy with all the madness that back-to-school entails.

August 9, 2012

Taking More Ground.

Last night, I finished up the last few strokes of Primer on the front West walls. We are overjoyed to see the gray turning the corner at last! Better is the victory, that thunderstorms should descend this morning.


Lovelier yet will be when we have the two-tone gray topcoats, and trim detailing in the creamy white and warm goldenrod. What a song, as we inch along out there.

August 8, 2012

These Two. This Instant.

Sweetly now. These growing fast babes, and the chattery back seat.


Me: See those wood boxes over there, they are bee houses. That person keeps bees.

Bella: How does that person make honey?
Nate: Bees are the only ones that can make honey, not even people.
Bella: Well, then how do they make it?
Nate: Easy, they drink pollen from flowers and then they gargle it.

HA! Kid loves his mouth rinse; such a great testament to the good dental hygiene around here.

Coming and Going.

For the want of travel, and a longing to vacate...

Image Credit: my infinite home tool by Hanemaai

What a beautiful idea, both a bag and a display cabinet. I love how it also makes the task of  packing look like a lot more fun.

August 7, 2012

Being a Winner.

I crafted up this over-the-top felt and embossed-paper badge this week for an award that we bestowed on a colleague of mine at Zygote Press. Doesn't everyone just long for a badge of their own?! I suppose in some ways we all want to hear that we are a winner. I decided that as part of my creative role in my position, that this annual award would be accompanied each year by a handmade prize ribbon. I'd surely love to get one, and I definitely enjoy making them. Even when they get a little carried away and overly biggish–something that really screams WINNER!


I started with our print chop, and embossed our logo into some spare tympan paper used for our Vandercook presses. This year's recipient is a letterpress printer, so it was a perfect fit. I love how crisply it crimped the paper. Using our buttonmaker allowed me to have a solid center circle, and also a functional pin-back medallion. WIN! Then I went a little nuts with various leftover wool felt scraps that I had on hand, and even a bit of an old sizing catcher printing felt -- the creamy outer edge -- to make a festive layered badge in a quick afternoon craft session with the glue gun.


The best part of the award presentation–outside of it being entirely deserved–was my colleague sharing how she had always wanted to receive a fancy ribbon She pinned it huge on her shoulder, and partnered it with a big smile. LIKE A TOTAL WINNER!

August 6, 2012

Cicada Sanctuary.

So apparently our yard is somewhat of a cicada sanctuary. We discovered over the weekend a small tree in our front lawn that seems to be even more of a favorite to our hatching winged friends than all of the trees of our back yard. 


Nate's cicada exoskeleton collection is now at 85! And last night, we had the privilege of watching one as it emerged from it's shell.

The Night Shift.

Setting up for the first night shift; ladder, task lighting, and sheer determination.
Racing a thunderstorm–and just needing a victory out there–we pulled our first ever house-painting night shift. And as we packed up for inside, somewhere around midnight, we basked in our sanded smooth, fully repaired and oil-rejuvenated wood now officially paint-ready. 

Boards glistening with boiled linseed oil, each of them buffed by hand.
Most completely exhausted morning ever, he is the hardest and most dedicated worker I know.

I primed in the trim first thing in the morning, and have started the gray priming of the two walls. It feels so good to have a brush in the hand.

The West front corner is getting paint!

August 3, 2012

Grossly Interesting.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, we've been fascinated with the cicadas this Summer, and are enjoying learning about them, as Nate's collection of their abandoned exoskeletons increases by the day. We lost count last night somewhere around 44. I'd be lying if I said this whole bug shell collecting business didn't gross me out just a bit. I mean, look at them?!!


The other afternoon on the way to our swimming lessons, the Craunlets barraged me with brainstormed a flurry of questions. How long do they live underground before they decide to come up? How do they know when to come up? Why do we keep finding so many in the same places? If they eat the sap of tree roots while underground, what do they eat once they have changed into flying bugs? 

I think what's profoundly astounding to me is how engaged they are, and how completely ungrossed out they are by finding and handling all of these giant bug shells.

Beating our Record.

We've done it! In all my excitement over our apple pie consumption record last week, we've made a fabulously simple and delicious peach tart that went and stole its record. 


It was an absolute cinch to whip together and bake [recipe here], and incorporated only a few ingredients that we always have on hand in our baking pantry. And I finally used that tart pan! Let me further add that popping it out of its pan was fantastically simple, and the crinkled edge made for a lovely presentation when plated.

The new record? Less than 12 hours; Summer is proving to be quite sweet.

August 2, 2012

Counting Down Days.

Nate is sure excited about entering Kindergarten. We are counting down the days here, and discussing it nearly every minute. Though I'm completely elated to be hitting this season at long last, I'm still sort of stunned that the baby is headed to school. We've been piecing together all the parts of his most handsome school uniform wardrobe, and I'm getting teary already with the thought of him walking confidently through those big doors. In his neck tie. 


The neck tie is not a uniform requirement, but rather a specific request from the growing-up-too-fast little guy. I can't get over how independent and vocal he has become over the course of the Summer about his looks and preferences for his school clothes. He's still way more laid back than the quite-opinionated older sister, but there is a certain sweetness to see him developing his identity.


His Goodbyn lunchbox has arrived, the blue version of Isabella's [which is still working fabulously after two years of daily use], and he is excited to transform it into a robot with the enclosed stickers. I still need to get to work on his days-of-the-week lunch napkins, but I have all of the materials on hand and the digital-looking font all printed out for the embroidery, so I am certainly making progress.


Nate's book bag is currently being made, again by the fabulous Etsy seller that made Isabella's. His bag is going to be blue, and lined with robot fabric pictured above [which is also currently being made into coordinating reusable snack bags by this Etsy seller].

Could we really be ready already? I know I'm not...

August 1, 2012

Three Strands.

Many of you know that I have a bit of a thing for string, [cotton drawstring bags, friendship bracelets, and general string stockpiling to name a few instances] so it's likely not hard for you to gather that we generally have a lot of partial spools, other waiting snippets of threads, strings and cords, and a wide variety of miscellaneous odds-and-ends from previous projects always at the ready around here. Well, [remember the colored pencil bin?] more than a year later now, I finally found a good use for some of that leftover white cotton clothesline. A sweetly braided headband for the Little Miss.

Photo Credit: Brittany Gidley Photography

It was a figure-it-out as I went sort of quick project. I started braiding until I had just about the right length I desired. Then I piped in some hot glue to hold the three strands in place before I attached a small stretch of white elastic to each end. Things were mostly what I envisioned, but with a bit more clunky of a finish than I desired. 


This prompted me to coil some yellow embroidery floss around the raw edges, and provided further reinforcement where there would be a lot of tension in use.


I quickly stitched on some fabric baubles, also in the stash, and left the small elastic space open for clips. This way the headband stays neutral, and can be a carrier for whatever our mood and matching color we desire on the day. 


For our recent pictures, we selected a yellow clip, and it held everything in place so nicely. Even for all of our running around and grand explorations.

Photo Credit: Brittany Gidley Photography


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