Friday, May 30, 2008

No TV?!

So...we decided to try being a tv-free household for the summer. (Well, not exactly tv-free because we still intend to watch the occasional movie on the weekends, but cable-free, for sure.) After turning in our cable boxes on Wednesday, Paul and I just looked at each other on Wednesday evening when the kids were safely tucked in their beds. What now?!

Paul ended up on the computer most of the evening, his new tv-substitute...[eyes rolling here] I attempted to do something productive and made a couple of playsilks for Charlie, who is coming to visit this weekend. I needed some demonstration silks to show the first grade teachers at Elizabeth's school anyway since I'm going to be helping the entire first grade dye silks next week!

After the playsilks were complete, I started a scrapbox for the kids to have various colors and textures of material to use for projects. I kept all the large pieces in a bag for bigger projects and put all the small pieces in a box for the kids to play with and use as needed in their own crafts. Finn has already waded into the box and checked out the contents. :)

NYC, Day 3

Our final day in NYC was really only a morning, but we made the most of it! We were up bright and early, made our obligatory stop at Starbucks and then headed out toward the Museum of Modern Art. On the way we stopped at one of the many pieces of NYC street art. This particular piece doubled as a fountain and the kids had a wish so we paused to toss pennies.

We headed into MOMA as soon as they opened. Elizabeth found one of her favorite Matisse paintings in a staircase hallway.

Of course, they needed to pause to read ALL the soup can labels by Warhol.

Paulie enjoyed identifying all the various states on this Jasper Johns painting.

The room containing all Lichtenstein's cartoon drawings was a favorite. They especially liked this painting that they remembered seeing in their Roy Lichtenstein's ABCs book.

Paul enjoying seeing a few photographs by August Sander, his favorite photographer. Paulie declared there were "just a bunch of old people" in those pictures.

After MOMA, we headed out for a bite of lunch before leaving for the airport. We had a few minutes before Uncle Joe would be picking us up so we strolled through Times Square one last time...with Ugly Dolls in tow.

What a fabulous trip to NYC we had! I think the kids definitely enjoyed themselves and are looking forward to their next adventure here!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

NYC, Day 2

Our second day in NYC dawned clear and bright, and after a quick breakfast of bagels, we headed down to Battery Park for a look at Lady Liberty.

While we were down at the park, Paulie and Elizabeth decided to have their caricatures drawn and buy some souvenirs, then Elizabeth and I had our pictures taken with the Lady herself. She was quite a character!

We set out from Battery Park on the Staten Island Ferry so we could get a better look at the Statue and the kids could get a good look at Manhattan from the boat. It was a windy but beautiful ride.

After the ferry ride, we headed to Ray's Famous Pizza which was located near our hotel. After lunch we took a short rest at the hotel before heading out to the Museum of Natural History. Paulie and Elizabeth really enjoyed seeing the many animals on display!

They even got a close up look at some of the animals that Paul used to see when living in Alaska.

We saw a huge mask from Central America. It was tempting to want to reach out and touch it!

After dinner at Whole Foods and a walk around Union Square Park, we headed to M&M World.

Day 2 was so full that they just passed out when we finally got back to our room!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NYC, Day 1

Wow! We spent an action packed brief weekend in NYC over Memorial Day. Here are some shots from our weekend. We rose early Saturday morning (5 am! yawn...) to head to the airport to catch our 7:30 am flight. The great thing about early morning flights to NYC is that you get a whole day of fun before the first night. :) Paulie and Elizabeth were so excited they were literally vibrating, skipping and hopping down the street!

Of course, all that vibrating led to a spill on the sidewalk which earned Elizabeth the best view in on the street.

I think that her first ride on the subway cheered her up though.

After lunching at the Life Cafe, and eating more pancakes and fresh fruit than they could hold, they played at the playground in Thompkins Square Park.

The afternoon would not have been complete without wandering through the street fair at NYU and picking up some candy apples. Paulie enjoyed his caramel apple, but Elizabeth's candy apple got the best of her. The candy was so hard she couldn't get to the apple underneath!

After checking into the hotel to unload our stuff and take a brief rest, we headed out again. Elizabeth, Karen and I perused the amazing American Girl store, complete with doll salon, mini-wardrobes and a cafe with small chairs to accomodate the American Girl dolls. While we shopped, the guys decided to take in the Top of the Rock (the view from the top of Rockefeller Center).

After posing for a quick picture under the Rockefeller Center flags, we headed off to Times Square and Planet Hollywood. The kids enjoyed pizza and fruit slushies in huge Planet Hollywood souvenir cups.

Following Planet Hollywood, we made the rounds through the huge Toys-R-Us then headed back to the hotel to wind down. What an amazing amount of activity we were able to pack into one day!

Friday, May 23, 2008

You're not supposed to eat the finger paint?

Finn's first fingerpainting experience could best be described as tentative. I squirted some blue fingerpaint on his construction paper, and he stared at it. So I tried to show him what to do by dipping my finger in and rubbing the paint on his paper. He tentatively got a small amount on each hand and wiped it on the paper. After seeing his messy hands, he tentatively brought his hand to his face, then tentatively stuck his tongue out to meet his hand. Realizing this mess was not much related to the usual mess that happens at the kitchen table, he then promptly wiped his hands on his shirt and pointed at the next bottle of fingerpaint. I squirted some orange on his paper. He then started rubbing paint around for about 3 seconds before pointing at the green paint. He repeated the same steps then pointed at purple. At the rate he was going, his paint would have run out in about 5 minutes. After trying to encourage him to keep rubbing the paint around on his paper, and him becoming increasingly concerned about the state of the mess on his hands, we decided that fingerpainting was a fun if brief activity today. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some of my favorite spring things...

We spent the whole late afternoon/evening outside yesterday. The weather was gorgeous--sunny and breezy. The kids spent the whole time just enjoying being out there, interacting with nature and each other. During the short days of winter, I forget how magical the spring can be...which is probably a good thing! Anyway, I made a photographic list of some of my favorite things of spring.

Gathering toadstools...

Running through the knee-high grass of the pasture to feed beloved horses...

Picking flowers for siblings...

Making flower necklaces...

Wearing flower crowns...

Flower stick figures...

Reading on the front porch...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Signs of spring, part 2

Also this weekend as the weather evened out, after some pretty serious thunderstorms and a tornado that blew through in the last 2 weeks, we decided to take Finn on his first (self-walked) hike through the woods. We took him to a nearby park with some short trails and let him go. I was amazed at how he took to running through the woods without so much as a backward glance to make sure we were still following. The trail contained some uneven path, due to roots that had popped up through the dirt, that initially he was willing to hold our hands through, but eventually he wanted to try it on his own. He only fell a couple of times; each time getting up without complaint and brushing his hands off before racing on again. A few pieces of nature, in the form of a large, flat, smooth section of bark and a chunk of broken root, caught his attention. Inspecting those items sidelined him for a few minutes as he turned them over in his hands examining them, but eventually, he was ready to continue on. Overall the trail wasn't particularly long, but still, Finn walked probably three quarters of the way on his own. Pretty good for a first hike, if I say so myself. :)

Signs of spring

Now that spring is officially upon us, we decided to break out the sidewalk chalk, jumbo size, and see what Finn thought. I must say that for his first experience with sidewalk chalk, he did remarkably well. He didn't try to eat the chalk, he sufficiently coated his clothes in pink and blue dust, and he even made a few marks on the driveway. He seemed a bit more interested in carrying the chalk around and driving his cars over the marks his daddy made. Sitting around in the driveway making mindless chalk marks is actually a pretty relaxing way to spend an evening so I'm sure we'll end up doing this a few more times before the summer heat sets in. And of course, much as spring does, the rain came the next day and washed the driveway clean so that we can have a fresh slate next time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Family Tablecloth

Elizabeth started asking around Christmas if I would teach her to sew. I couldn't really think of what to teach her so I held off until this project came to me. I thought it could be fun to have a family tablecloth. Anyone in the family can work on it, and when it's complete, we'll place it on the table to remind us of how much we enjoyed working on it together (and how much we enjoy eating together). We visited the Goodwill and picked out a plain white tablecloth; well, it does have some textured print to the fabric, but it's the Goodwill, you can't be too picky. Elizabeth is working on embroidering her name to it. Eventually, we'll have everyone's names on there, and we'll dye it to give it a bit more character. Hopefully, I'll have more to post as we continue this project, but for now, here's the beginning...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Crayons Rock!

Finn has been coloring with crayon rocks since right around his first birthday. I found them online, (of course!) here. Crayon rocks are made out of soy and colored with natural mineral powder, not to mention they are grown and made in the USA! Apparently, they encourage a tripod grip, which is why preschool teachers and occupational therapists like them. I like the fact I don't have to worry about Finn breaking them the way regular crayons so easily do, and if he eats them, hey, they're just soy!

Finn was coloring with his crayon rocks yesterday when Elizabeth decided to get in on the action. I love watching any of the kids interacting creatively. For a few minutes, squabbling ceases while they encourage each other in their various artistic endeavors. Not that Finn does much of the squabbling since he only has about 6 words, but watching Elizabeth encourage his coloring, hand him new colors to enhance his creativity and even show him how to draw circles to accompany his many lines, I'm amazed to see how adept they've become at boosting each other's creative confidence.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Zip, the Silly Dragon

Philip's class in preschool, in a markedly ambitious mood, decided to write and star in their own play. They performed the Big Show last weekend on the Big Stage. The part that Philip wrote for himself was Zip the Silly Dragon. Several dragons were written into the play. Their parts largely consisted of chasing the princesses back to the castle, but it was an adorable glimpse into the creative imagination of preschoolers. I especially loved watching Philip race around with his spiny plates just hanging by his side.

I am amazed by how closely their vein of creativity runs at that age: the girls wanting to feel special and princess-like, the boys wanting to either be the antagonist dragons or superhero rescuers. I remember when Paul spent 2 years rarely separated from his Superman outfit, and the princess dress that Elizabeth wore endlessly during her fifth year. I wonder whether Finn will be similarly influenced by his peers at that age or will the superhero/ villain stage pass him by as he tries desperately to keep up with his older siblings.

Face Painting 101

Finn has recently become interested in face painting. Not the traditional variety of clown faces and Halloween faces but a more organic variety... organic avocado, to be exact. Although I'm a little surprised it took him 16 months to be interested in this variety of art, I know that the desire to feed himself was overdue. I think the face painting in this picture should be titled "Five O'clock Shadow". What do you think?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We're missing a tooth!

Elizabeth's first tooth is missing although this has not dimmed her smile. The tooth saga began with an apple (don't they all?) and an exclamation, "Hey, my tooth moved!" She excitedly wiggled the tooth and complained about the difficulties eating for 2 days. On the third day, her school principal, who is apparently somewhat of a legendary tooth-puller, handily plucked it right out while Elizabeth bravely squeezed her eyes shut. The standard tooth fairy visit followed, and Elizabeth eagerly stashed away 5 dollars for our upcoming trip to NYC. Now, predictably, she's complaining that it's not very exciting to just have a hole in your mouth after all the excitement of the actual loss and tooth fairy visit has passed.

You know how we're an art family...

"You know how we're an art family?" was a question posed by Paulie (the oldest stepson) when he was describing something in the car one day. The assertion, as a description of our family, became a catch-phrase for us. We are a family that LOVES art. Paulie goes to an arts magnet school and Philip (the younger stepson) will be starting there in the fall of 2008, Elizabeth (the daughter) goes to an arts-based charter school, Finn (the baby) has only made a few marks with some soy crayons, but we're sure he'll be on-board once he stops trying to eat the markers. Paul (the husband) has an art history degree and worked as a designer in NYC, and I have absolutely no art qualifications except that I like art museums, art galleries, art shows and creating things with my family. Hopefully in the future we'll be able to show you some of those things. :)