Saturday, May 28, 2011

My First Calder

I wasn't planning on starting the "25 Summer Crafts..." list so soon, but a chance meeting with some marked down sticky-back foam at the craft store helped me decide which project would be first: The Foam Mobile from the book Kid Made Modern by Todd Oldham.

It was a ton of fun to make with my little assistant. I pre-cut the shapes and had them ready to go. My kiddo (nearly 4) had fun picking out which colors would go where, peeling the paper off the sticky-backed foam, and sticking the pieces together. We bent the wires together, and she decided the order in which to arrange the pieces. For the center string she picked a pink piece of yarn (of course) and I did the tying. It took a little while to get the balance correct, but once I bent the pieces a bit more here and there it worked out great. We've all been enjoying watching it spin around in our dining room, and the shadows it creates on the walls are lovely. Most importantly, she is super proud of this piece of art we made together.

The whole thing got me thinking about meeting my first Calder, nearly 20 years ago at The National Gallery in Washington, D.C. The mobile felt so colossal hanging over me. After this photo was snapped, I looked up. I remember thinking I could touch this, if I just reach a little higher. I stretched a bit more and touched it with my finger. I expected alarms to go off, but it just gently nodded at me - as if to say "Hello".

I was smitten.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

25 Summer Crafts and 25 Books For Kids and Their Grownups.

As of today, my kiddo is on summer vacation (although the weather feels more like winter). While part of me is thrilled about 20 some weeks of unstructured bliss another part of me is in a slight panic. Here's a list of 25 crafts to do with your kiddo this summer and 25 plus books to accompany each craft. I can't wait to get started!

Make a Smoothie (or 50): My number one goal this summer? Get my kid to enjoy eating more fruit. Read: Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert.

Rock On with some Rock Crafts. Collecting rocks and making stuff from them is a cheap and fun way to learn a little bit about geology while being crafty too. Read: Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth, and Rough by Natalie M. Rosinsky.

Plant something to eat. After my failed attempt last year to grow food from seeds, I'll be buying lots of veggie starts this year, and growing them in containers on our deck. Read: Jack's Garden by Henry Cole.

Make a little Modern Art. I fell in love the first time I saw a real Calder mobile. Now, we can make one of our own. Read: Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder by Tanya Lee Stone.

Sew a Reusable Shopping Bag. My kid is always wanting her own bag at the store. This project takes care of that while re-purposing an old or favorite tee shirt. Read: Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser.

Plant a Terrarium. Terrariums all all the rage these days and I want one badly. They are also a great opportunity to learn about ecosystems on a super small scale. Read: Rain Forests: Gardens of Green by Laura Purdie Salas.

Make a Gnome of Your Own. Speaking of miniature worlds, who wouldn't want their very own gnome? Read: Serendipity: The Gnome From Nome by Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James.

Make a Rubber Band Bulletin Board. This project has been on my list for ages, the perfect kid safe bulletin board (no thumbtacks required). Read: How Far Will a Rubberband Stretch by Richard Thaler.

Create a Vacation Memory Jar. With this project you really can bottle up your vacation memories and keep them forever. Read: Pictures From our Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins.

Paint Your Shoes. Why not? Read: What Can You Do With a Shoe? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers.

Make Mud Pies. The dirt variety are a summer classic, but I also love the ice cream kind. Make both! Read: Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls by Marjorie Winslow.

Make Sock Puppets. For bonus points get your kids to use them to dust your house. For ideas on how to turn everything from a garden glove to a meatballer into a puppet, read: The Muppets Make Puppets by Cheryl Henson.

Tie Dye Something. Because it's groovy, baby. Read (for a good giggle) Everyday Fashions of the Sixties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs by JoAnne Olian.

Make a Cardboard Puppet Theatre. Because after you turn your meatballer into a puppet, it will need a stage. Read: Puppet Theatre by Maija Baric.

Make a Kaleidoscope because they are awesome. Need I say more? Read: Light: Shadows, Mirrors, and Rainbows by Natalie Rosinsky.

Organize Your Kid's School Work. I've been putting this off all year, but know that when it is done, bit my kid and I will enjoy looking back. Read: Aunt Claire's Yellow Beehive Hair by Deborah Blumenthal.

Paint The Town (or at least the sidewalk). I love this idea. Sadly I live where there are no sidewalks so we might have to borrow one in another neighborhood. Read: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont.

Make Some Spoon Friends inspired by the wonderful artist Alexander Girard. Read: Spoon by Amy Krause Rosenthal.

Make a Rain Stick. This looks like a fun project. A four year old wielding a hammer could get interesting, though. Read: Rain by Manya Stojic.

Plant a Seashell Garden. These are just plain pretty to look at. Read: What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Play Alphabet Bingo. This game is a big-time hit at our place. Read: Alphabeasties: And Other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss.

Interview your kiddo. I love the idea of a yearly interview and with all the free time ahead summer seems like the time to do it. Read: Only One You by Linda Krantz.

Make a Little Sunshine. Living in the Pacific Northwest, the grim reality is that if we want to see the sun this summer, we might have to make it ourselves. Read: The Sun Is My Favorite Star by Frank Asch.

Draw Stories and Pictures Together. Before I hear the words "But I can't draw...." escape from your lips. Kindly shut up. Your kids don't care how 'well' you draw, or the fact that you can 'only draw stick figures'. Let then see you do something your not 100% great at, or better yet - let them see you working to improve at something. Here are a ton of suggestions to get you started. And I dare you to say you can "only draw a stick figure" after checking out one of Ed Emberly's genius books. Read (for kids) Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. Read (for grownups) Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory, The Creative License by Danny Gregory, Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith, Ed Emberly's Big (Green, Red, Orange, or Purple) Drawing books by Ed Emberly - these are also great for kids of all ages. PS. I'm passionate about this topic - can you tell?

Take Some TIme for Yourself (with some at home spa treatments) Summer is long, and it can get hectic pretty quick. Don't forget to give yourself permission to recharge, too. Read: If You Give a Mom a Martini: 100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself by Lyss Stern and Julie Klappas

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pinch Me.

I just returned from a 9 day trip to what I consider my second home - Holland. It is easy to show in pictures some of the typical Dutch things I got to enjoy on my trip. Adorable buildings, beautiful flowers, delicious cheese, Nijntje (or Miffy as she is know in the USA), and pastries so sweet they make you toes curl in sugary delight.

What's harder to show is how full my heart feels after visiting there. Meeting my two perfect nieces, Rosalie and Carmen and establishing a bond with them was such an important part of this trip. Spending time with the family that has grown to be 'mine' over the last 20 years was like a dream come true. Meeting new 'significant others' of the people I love, and seeing them in love, was wonderful. Getting to hug my friend Miss M, drink coffee and eat our traditional Tompoes together, and meeting her adorable girls was nothing short of pure bliss.

I also realized that each time I visit, I leave a part of my heart there - at least that is how it feels. In return, I also bring a fuller heart back home and for that I am so very grateful.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Going to the Midwest!

My work and I are both make our Midwestern debut tomorrow! My prints and cards are finding a new home at Domestica, in Des Moines Iowa! This shop looks incredible, and I am so honored to be a part fo the action there. The communications I've had with the store's owner, Chrissy,  have made me want to meet her in person someday - seriously funny, smart, and sweet.

There's a big party to celebrate Domestica's 1st birthday tomorrow, and it seems Chrissy is up to her elbows in rice crispie treats, margarita mix, and cake. If you live in Des Moines, or can get there - GO! it looks wonderful. My work will be available on their website shortly - I'll let you know when that happens. It feels huge for my work to be in the company of some of my favorites (Tad Carpenter and Sass & Peril to name just two). 

For myself, I'll be flying into Minneapolis, Minnesota (en route to Amsterdam!) - and that's the closest I'll be getting to Chrissy's pink frosted rice crispy treats and margaritas. So have a margarita or two for me tomorrow at Domestica (especially you, Chrissy) - and I'll toast the Midwest from 30,000 feet int the air!