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    Entries in art (12)


    like rain on your (neighbors') wedding day

    Spring around here is a funny thing. It rains; it pours; your carport floods. And then, for one day, it is 62 degrees, bright and warm from the time the sun shows his unfamiliar face until he lays it down in the Sound. And those twelve hours are enough to make you optimistic about the possibility of enjoying outdoor life again, in a sincere way, not a ha-ha, good thing I'm wearing galoshes kind of way.  

    We actually had, like, THREE of those in a row, a week or two ago. And then my poor neighbors who had waited TWENTY FIVE YEARS to get legally married found themselves putting up clear flashing around their gorgeous deck in preparation for a torrential downpour that waterlogged their wedding day. PNW, we can't quit you, but you sure are a jerk sometimes. 

    To console ourselves after we put some measly starts into the garden only to have it frost overnight at 37 degrees and kill our broccoli, George and I decided our raised beds could use some flags to jazz them up a little. Zelda had never potato printed, so we got out some muslin, cookie cutters, a potato, some paint and a paring knife.

    If you don't know how to print with potatoes, there is no shortage of tutorials online that probably give all the details you need, but all I do is press a cookie cutter deep into the freshly-cut side of a potato, then slice into the side of the potato with my paring knife and cut away the excess potato. Not exactly rocket science.

    George and Zelda chose an arrow, a heart, a star and a leaf. One arrow attempt failed, and turned into a bunny. Zelda kind of just tried to eat the potatoes, but George had a good time stamping the strips of muslin I had torn. Speaking of which, I didn't bother hemming these; I just snipped the selvedge edge of the muslin and tore it along the entire width of the fabric, leaving me with strips. 


    I gave George dishes of the paint that came with a paint-your-own wooden car kit. I have no idea what kind of paint it is, but it's labeled non-toxic, and it hasn't yet run. Do I need to tell you how many times it's rained? When the kids were satisfied that they'd eaten enough raw potato and sufficiently stamped the soon-to-be flags, we cleaned up, and let everything dry while we ate lunch.

    While George napped that afternoon, I cut the strips into smaller pieces and sewed a ribbon across the top, bunting-style. We stuck bamboo poles into the ground on each end of the garden and tied on the flags. I love that it helps give the kids some ownership of our garden in these early, boring days of germination and perseverence. 




    hundred dollar hanukkah: DIY menorah

    I really wanted the gift our family opened on the first night of Hanukkah to be one that at least one of the kids helped make (and, let's be honest, Zelda's talents don't exactly lie in crafts, so it was all on George). Being a DIYer, I have a tendency to take on all of the holiday handmaking and this leaves me burnt out and annoyed: NOT something I want to model for my children. In the DIT (do-it-together) spirit of this Hanukkah, I limited my own handmaking to one project and chose an easy craft that George and I could do for very little money, that would still be useful. 

    We have a beautiful menorah that I dearly love, and I hope that someday the kids will fight over whose family inherits it. But I have a more candlelight the better policy, and what's more Hanukkah-appropriate than a menorah? 

    I found the candle cups in the woodworking section at Michael's for $1.69 per 5-pack. I bought two packs and a piece of wood from the same section for $1.99. I used a coupon, so it was 40% off, bringing my total to $4.58. 

    We hot glued the candle cups to the board and doubled up the middle two for the shamash. 

    George went crazy with some royal blue and turquoise acryclic paint, and I filled in the spaces he missed, per his request. I'll probably seal it so the melted wax doesn't ruin the paintjob, but otherwise it was a very toddler-friendly project and turned out really well: a yearly reminder of George at almost-three.

    Even though it won't be a surprise, I know seeing it lit up with candles will be exciting for us all.  





    I'm thankful for a lot: two healthy children, a partner I saw fit to make them with, a warm home, delicious food, and enough to share. Moreover, I am grateful for the presence of mind to be thankful, for my ability -- however limited my reach often seems -- to instill gratitude in my kids, and for the fact that no Thanksgiving will pass without some discussion of the haves, the have-nots, and the used-to-haves-but-got-royally-screweds. Thanksgiving is a tricky day, with tragic and often misrepresented roots, but I wish us all a happy, delicious holiday with eyes wide open to those in need of justice. 


    a lesson in melted wax 

    Inspired yet again by The Artful Parent, I decided to try to help George a little with his fine motor skills by way of sprinkling, a practice he frequently enjoys, mostly by sprinkling the rice out of his sensory bin onto the dining room floor. I so love all of TAP's "stained glass" activities and felt like our big dining room windows could use a little cheer, since the daylight is getting shorter and considerably less bright. More grey. Pretty, and a welcome change, to be honest, but cheer never hurts. 

    We had some old Stockmar beeswax crayons that didn't mind sacrificing themselves for a good cause. If Nathan cared that I (possibly) ruined the parmesan-specific cheese grater, he hasn't said so. 

    I had to stop myself from saying spread them out, now, George. Don't lump them all in a pile. Distribute them evenly, for godssakes, or all you'll get is a brown wax lake.

    I wanted to say those things. I certainly thought them. I demonstrated my own sprinkling on my own small sheet of wax paper with perhaps a little too much zeal. I couldn't help myself; I'm bossy. I'm a perfectionist. The poor child comes by it honestly when he says with a frown, "But I'm not good at it!" Because I tell him it doesn't matter, that trying is the thing. That everyone is bad at all of it, to start. But I hate it, too, being not good. Alas. There his wax was, in piles. He took a nap and, with the baby in the Ergo, I placed his and mine next to one another between sheets of butcher paper and ironed. 

    Mine is on the bottom, his on the top. My confetti, his painter's dropcloth. 

    Mine boring, measured, neat. His messy, unpredictable, with bubbles and swirls and colors I didn't grate. Colors, actually, that I said to myself as I grated, I wished we had. An olive green would be nice. A sienna or a plum. Something to more accurately reflect the season. Beautiful.

    By contrast, the carefully sprinkled colors on my mine became muted and dull, desaturated as they bled into the milky wax of the paper. I traced and cut triangles and sewed them together to make buntings. I kept the pieces of mine small, but cut George's generously to make a big, bold decoration for our Fall windows. A reminder to me: back off and let the kid do his thing. 

    Pardon all the pictures (and the dirty windows), but it was a sight to behold. 



    how to stain your baby

    Zelda is so into being a regular person. She wants to drink your water and eat your pizza and play with that choking hazard and she will not take no for an answer, even when it is the obvious answer (I do not feed my seven month old pizza: don't bother). So during Nathan's first week back at school, when I was attempting to keep extra busy, I tried to find some fun things for both kids to do together at levels they'd each enjoy rather than George coaching Zelda or Zelda having things pried repeatedly from her grasp. Cornstarch paint seemed a nice, easy DIY for these last warm days and George is on a painting kick that I'm really trying to encourage.

    My recipe is 1 cup of water to 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. For this batch I made three cups because I knew they'd go through it quickly. You just mix the cornstarch into lukewarm water, then heat over medium-high heat until it's thick, stirring pretty frequently. I put a few drops of food coloring into cups and added the gloop once it had thickened to my liking, stirred to mix in the color and put the cups in the freezer to cool off for a little while. I gave them another stir when they came out, and they were ready to go.

    Zelda immediately turned the tablecloth and paper into a slip-n-slide. The sensory aspect was basically it for her, but she squished the paint around in her fists and slid all over the place and that was good enough for her. George is something of a rule follower and wasn't thrilled that Zelda had dumped the paint and subsequently got it all over herself, but I tried to give him an area of his own by repositioning the remaining paint and corralling his sister. I encouraged him to paint on his own arms or belly, but that was preposterous and he was deeply offended at the suggestion.

    Zelda was having so much fun rolling around in the paint that George finally decided to give some handprints a try, and, after watching her brother for awhile, Zelda picked up a paintbrush. This exploration inspired by each other was, to me, totally the highlight of the activity.

    I plunked them both in the bath immediately after they were finished playing, but Zelda came out looking like I'd haphazardly shot a tube of sunblock at her and left her out in the sun all day. It came off, though... eventually.