...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


creating a space of her own

I am simply amazed at how natural the process is for children to be creative. And if we pause and take time to watch, nurture and embrace their desire to create - magic happens. What a tremendous gift this is for them and to us as parents. Dreams will be sketched here first. Stories will come to life on paper bigger than herself. The alphabet will swim in brush strokes of colors she only will bring to life.

This morning was such a day. With her pajamas still on, she was determined to create a palette of new colors by combining a few primary ones. Ava has shown a tremendous amount of interest in art [paint especially] for quite some time. When my mom took Ava for a "day out" alone, and told her she could have something to take home from the toy store, she chose a watercolor set, which she followed by giving the most genuine thank you [I am told] that made the store clerk's jaw drop and mom tear up.

So when we stumbled upon a craft table at Pottery Barn Kids yesterday, I was sold on the idea of creating a special space for Ava to do her art. So after the kids went to bed last night, we assembled the new table in our breakfast room, added a roll of butcher paper on top and cushions from an old sofa underneath. We tossed her crayons, chalks, markers, watercolors, finger paints and acrylics in the middle. Her Aunt Wagma came by today to visit and even she was drawn to the table to "create." They did her first art project at the table - with crayon shavings... Remember those?

We really enjoyed watching her curiosity grow with excitement using a sharpener for the first time and turning her crayons into chunks of glitter. We hung her "project" with stickers and color forms on the bay window behind her table so that she can be proud of her piece and remember the time spent with family creating it.

If you forgot how to... here it is:

Crayola Glitter Recipe
1. Use broken crayons or start collecting free ones from restaurants.
2. Peel off the paper and sharpen. We used an egg crate container to hold the shavings.
3. With your fingers, grind the curls to your preferred size.
4. Apply Elmer's glue to your picture and then sprinkle the shavings on top. You'll get better
results if you work in small sections at a time.
Turn the paper over and shake off excess shavings and re-use these to cover the remaining areas.

have fun!

here's to 7 years... and to one day slowing down

Approximately twenty years ago, Aaron and I first met. It was the first day of 6th grade science class when we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves.

Ten years ago, we bumped into each other on the UNT campus when I was trying to read and walk at the same time and Aaron ran into me on purpose. He literally took my breath away. It has been about 3 years since we last talked [and he had changed quite a bit since 6th grade]. We exchanged phone numbers and started dating since that encounter. I still blush when I think about those days.

And on this day, seven years ago, we were married. This year, there was no cruising along the Amalfi coast or 6,000 miles across the US. No shopping in Florence or Carmel. No sun bathing, hiking or B&B hopping on this anniversary. Just us, the kids, and a short-drive east to historic Jefferson for a day poking around a small town and having old-fashioned milkshakes with the two most important little people in our lives.

It was a short sweet relaxing trip for the two of us. We both actually talked more in the 3 hour car ride [each way] when the kids were sleeping than we had all week at home. Didn't realize how much conversation gets interrupted at home until we were in the car and strung 3 different topics together. This isn't a revelation as much as it is a reminder to take it slow. A stroll through Jefferson gave us the time to do just that.

turn up the music

I will admit - I have never been a music lover. But I can appreciate a good song when I hear it judging from the way it makes me move. I don't want my lack of musical interest to pass on to Ava - so it takes quite an effort to remember to play it around her, or in this case, extreme desperation to keep her from wanting to watch TV. "Mommy broke the TV last night. We have to wait and fix it," I told her. We went back and forth until she very maturely accepted the idea that Mommy could not "fix the tv."

I asked her if she wanted me to play some music instead. She agreed. The first cd was a mix of Indian dance music. She loved it and I didn't see or hear from her for quite a while. During that time, there was chaos all over me in the kitchen - the usual when it comes to preparing lunch for 3. I was dipping and coating her chicken and thinking about work when the disc changer played WeeSing & Learn ABC - from the book set that uses letters of the alphabet to show animals playing musical instruments. "Abe the alligator plays the accordion."

That broke my trance and so I decided to peek around the corner to see what Ava was up to. And that's when - I melted.

There was my Ava with her music book in her lap following along. How did she remember that there was a book to the cd? It had probably been a year or so since we last went through it together.

I rushed over to Aaron to tell him what she was doing, and he said to me, "This is why people have more kids." Of course it is. They do things that pull at our hearts, stop us in our tracks, and even change us completely.

We listened to music all day - and even danced around the living room to burn off some energy. I can see this quickly becoming a family favorite thing to do.

Music in our disc changer:

1. WeeSing & Learn ABC [look for it at Half Price Books]
2. Afghan dance music [Ahmed Zahir and others]
3. Indian dance music [songs from the movie Taal, Chama-Chama, Bumbaro...]
4. Norah Jones [Come Away With Me CD]

holidays should be everyday

Easter to me has always been a fun holiday simply because there are a lot of pastels and bunnies parading the store shelves. One year, my most favorite, Aaron and I did an egg hunt at my parents house. They had no idea that we ransacked their front yard with plastic eggs. We knocked on the door and told them that each egg contained a dollar bill - some with even more. We laughed so hard the entire time. Our parents enjoyed themselves and we enjoyed watching them push each other out of the way.

Sorry to regress - the point is that I will always cherish the fact that my parents allowed us to participate in the festivities that came along with the holidays even if they were outside of our faith. Easter was no exception. So in keeping up with our own childhood traditions, we visited Froggie's 5 and 10 toy store- and gathered some items without the kids looking. And around midnight last night, Aaron trekked up into the attic to find the plastic eggs for their first egg hunt. He filled it with pennies and Cheerios and I hid them this morning. Of course, the entire time I'm debating the rationale behind all this and wondering if I'm "spoiling" the kids. But then there was this...

Pure - delicious joy in seeing our kids chase each other as they collected eggs hidden throughout the yard. Ava, still in her pajamas, threw on a sweater and with much anxiety but perfect restraint, waited for Noah to get ready before heading outside. We handed them both baskets to carry and the smiles just kept getting bigger.

After they played with their new toys, we went over to my in-laws where we had a delicious Easter lunch. This year, they hosted an egg hunt for the grownups - which was such a wonderful treat. From children to grown adults, what is it about finding small surprises so exciting and following a path that leads to somewhere - well, surprising? These are the kind of activities that must be had traditionally but also ... just because. The excitement, the hunt, the prize... it's all wonderful. I feel as though we shouldn't wait for the "holidays" to experience these kinds of joy but instead on any random day.. for no reason at all.

project #2

Good news! Ava's black flower dress that I made her survived the wash. Speaking of survived - I haven't thrown my sewing machine into the pool just yet. In fact, I even made something else! With all the extra fleece we had laying around [from our Petnode animal-making days] I decided Noah needed another lounge - or more accurately, explore my domain pants. I googled a pattern - and it's so funny how easy it is to make these. BUT I still managed to sew the wrong sides together. Of course, I didn't realize this until after I added the waistband and rushed to try it on Noah. The crotch was too small - oh, it's upside down. My next attempt turned out much better. I even decked it with a pocket on the back - for what - who knows. It's adorable.

It's so amazingly comfortable, soft and so perfect to strut in with bare feet. And I think my little guy thinks so too. We ran our errands today with him wearing these and got our first compliment from the sales woman at Pottery Barn Kids [before Aaron told her I made them]. Success!

I made one for my nephew using a different design - equally fun. Wagma - send me a photo of him wearing it when you can!

Next project: a summer tote bag - oh, la, la.

old is new again

I have been itching to sew Ava a dress since before she was born. I finally did on Sunday thanks to Aaron who took the kids for a very long visit to the park. And thanks to my old skirt I hadn't worn in 5 years and owned for more than 10. It was one of those pieces that remained tucked away in my drawer - too cute to give away because just maybe I'd be inspired to wear it one day. And yet, too burned out to wear it because I did a thousand times [or somewhere close to].
So here I was, with no pattern to work with - what if I completely screw up and waste the poor old skirt? But I said a prayer and started snipping. Pinning and ironing the seams were daunting - but I kept envisioning what the finished piece would look like - and that kept me on pace. Three hours later, I had a piece hanging to look at.

I'm proud to say that it turned out pretty cool and that it does in fact resemble a sweet summer dress. Tailored with one green button and one shiny orange button. I even went so far as to sewing her a sachet to carry her Maisy books. I was smitten when it was done. Unfortunately for me, all the camera gear was charging so I had no way to document the adventure.

Not only was the look on Ava's face priceless, but I also discovered that I do have the patience to create something from scratch. And that is a good thing.

Next project: an outfit for Noah to crawl around in.

flea market sunday

Another surprisingly beautiful day today we find ourselves with. There's so much to do around the house - work to catch up on - laundry to wash - dust bunnies to catch. But it'd be a shame if we didn't take advantage of the sunny day. So we threw the radio flyer in the back of the car and headed north to Third Monday Trade Days in McKinney.

We parked the car, loaded the wagon with the diaper bag and bottles of water and strolled a few aisles before realizing how hungry we were. And corny dogs and turkey legs - although customary at these events - were not appetizing. So we packed the kids back into the car and drove up to Taco Cabana. Noah tried guacamole for the first time and didn't crinkle his nose. He also ate the Spanish rice - which tickled me because he's been refusing anything lumpier than a puree at home. Maybe it was the high-chair he was sitting in that made him feel so daring today.

We returned to the market and headed straight for a deep fried funnel cake. Ava seemed to enjoy it but even she knows when there's too much of a good thing. The crowd became heavier as the afternoon wore on and we enjoyed people watching and searching for stuff we didn't need. And we found some! We bought the kids a handmade wooden airplane and hamp-e-cure as Ava calls it [aka helicopter]. The old gentleman who sold them makes them at home - so we couldn't resist. A table later I found old door knobs and metal hooks - just what Ava needs to hang her necklaces on.

We had a lot of fun but we probably won't be back this year. I was disappointed in types of vendors present - my idea of flea market was not the same as a vendor selling dollar-store type of toys and accessories. But it was fun and fattening and we enjoyed the long walk. And most of all it was a new adventure for both Ava and Noah - seeing so many different faces and trying new flavors for the first time.

a burst of spring

In tradition with the unpredictable weather in Texas - we were graced with a wonderful warm spell this weekend. The rest of the states are drenched in rain and snow. And here we are showing off our arms in short-sleeve shirts.

It seems as if we've had a terribly long winter. Of course, I say that every winter. But when you live in Texas, and have grown use to "hot" weather - it makes anything below 70 a bit chilly. And so we welcomed this little burst of heat with a walk around our neighborhood. I had seen a yard sale earlier in the morning during my jaunt to the grocery store. So we trekked over with sunglasses and rummaged through old books. On our way home, Ava climbed, bounced, skipped and ran around various front yards. Noah spent some time in a small patch of wild flowers and enjoyed the stillness of a new color around him.

We ended the walk with a slow stroll through the sprinklers - how wonderful! Thank you Spring. We can't wait untill you visit us again.

the art of family

Our children constantly challenge us on how we feel about everything. We find ourselves constantly amused and confused over what seems to be the biggest obstacles to even the smallest of details.

It seems like a lifetime ago when we first learned we were pregnant (actually it was just 3 years ago really) but even so, it was a very exciting time for us - two people from two very different upbringings, cultures and religions, spending countless hours designing and dreaming a future together with little ones.

As we crafted this image of our "family" in our minds, we shared our favorite childhood memories and pastimes and talked about how amazing they were.

Aaron Indiana Jones-ing through sewer tunnels in hopes of discovering a lost artifact. He collected baseball cards and sold blow-pops on the school bus so that he could purchase more than his allowance stretched. Even yet, he truly believed he was the hulk because his arms really did glow under the covers. I played department store and tagged all my dolls while running a register out of my jewelery box. I even made my own chandelier by cutting strands of colorful yarn and taping it around my ceiling's light bulb.

Bliss was running through sprinklers in the summers with your cousins, collecting fireflies at dusk, and just making things out of anything we could get our hands on. I once took a stack of Chinese take-out menus from the front lobby of our apartment building and made Chinese stars so that I could sell them door-to-door. It meant the world to me when one neighbor exchanged what I made with my own hands for a dollar. Looking back, I am grateful to that person, who could have easily shut the door on my face, but instead encouraged a budding entreprenuer to knock on the next door. Moments like these from our childhood resonate deeply. Replicating these moments for our own children seem to be a challenge however. Mostly because of where we live and the obligations we find ourselves so conveniently wrapped up in.

Family gatherings, wooden toys, kites at the park, hand-sewn books, and endless opportunities to be creative, playful and adventurous - that's what childhoods are made of. We envisioned taking it further by adapting a greener lifestyle and surrounding ourselves with things as intended by nature. This was the ideal vision for our new family [of course, that didn't last long when I discovered a very unpractical pair of Ralph Lauren pink suede loafers for Ava.]

Now that Ava is a toddler - her natural wonder and mobility to discover and create things on her own has our hearts racing. And sometimes even out of control. Baby Noah's sweet demure and rebellious breakdowns is a courteous reminder that he is not like his big sister and therefore everything we learned the first time around no longer applies.

Our lives are shifting as fast as they are growing - and that's pretty fast. With what time we had, we raised questions and challenged both our old and new dreams. Things we have been doing suddenly didn't make sense anymore, and things we haven't been doing are now on the priority A-list.

The art of family or the creative process of raising children, is about learning from each other. It's about dreaming and connecting our imaginations together beyond what we know now. It's about growing - and learning and being lucky enough to capture the moments.

some books we love

Black?White!Day?Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
What an artisticly creative book! The pages and their respective cutouts demonstrate how perspectives change with the turn of a page. You'll be reading this one over and over - as well as Lemons Are Not Red - another fun book to read. A beautiful visual way of learning, children can read these books all by themselves!

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
The Gruffalo? Why didn't you know? It's the best rhyming story about a tiny little mouse who sets out to look for food and uses his clever imagination to help him walk through the forest without being eaten himself. Not only is this a great book, but I've since discovered that it's become a hit production as well - and can be seen in play theatres worldwide. This is a classic for all!

Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola
The first book in a series, Strega Nona is one grandmother you instantly fall in love with. I don't know if I love this book because of the wonderful illustrations or the fact that its so fun to read in an Italian accent more. DePaola is a must have for any child's library...

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin. Age 2+
We love how funny the idea of cows typing is - and even more so, making sounds together. I start off, "click, clack.." and Ava finishes with the "moo" right on cue. It's got a lot of expression and humor and a great lesson about compromises.

Corduroy by Don Freeman Age 2+
A little teddy bear on a hunt to find his missing button in a department store, until Lisa comes to the rescue. I love to read this story with a different accent each time. It's such a classic series that will last through all generations. The book we have was actually one we purchased for my little sister 19 yrs. ago.

The Earth and I Age 1+
The photos in this book and simple sentences of appreciating the earth will have your little one asking questions. Ava interrupted with, "Fish is upset, Mommy" which opened up the doorway to discuss the effects of litter, our environment and role in helping it grow. Truly a book to treasure.

A Pocket for Corduroy Age 2+ The adventure continues for the bear who now longs for a pocket on his overalls. He falls into mischief in search at a laundromat. Reminds me so much of my childhood and how we looked for adventure in the laundromat, or what we called, "the dungeon" of the old apt. building we lived in. Such good times. I'll have to do a load there just so the kids can experience the same.

Olivia by Ian Falconer Age 2+ It wasn't until another mom at a bookstore told me how much her son loved this pig and how he got into art because of her that I bought one for Ava to read. Now, it's her favorite to read before bedtime. Ava adores her. And saying "oh-liv-e-ya." She wants me to point out all the ways Olivia exhausts her parents in the black, white and red colored pages. Olivia is laying down - Ava will say, "she's pooped" - and we laugh. It's a wonderfully simple book about how fun a day can be - visiting the museum, going to the beach, playing dress up, dreaming about becoming a ballerina...and of course family. It's a wonderful story - and I look forward to growing her collection with the series.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...