Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bowling and Candlesticks

The second part of the preparation for our Lenten Lights involved making the candlesticks to hold our beeswax candles.

We molded the candlesticks out of sculpey.

Finn painted with watercolors.

The big kids painted with acrylics.

The finished product!
(I realize it's a little manic with all the crazy color,
but the kids love them.)

Since it was the first day of Elizabeth's spring break and the boys had a teacher work day (their spring break comes in a few weeks), we decided to bowl a few games to celebrate.  Well, they decided.  I'm not a big bowler, nor am I a fan of the cigarette smoke they still allow in the alley, but the kids begged so I relented.

Philip, getting ready...

Paulie, in full swing...

Elizabeth, letting go!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Beeswax Candles for Lenten Lights

Lent is not something I grew up celebrating, but I feel that for many Christians the Easter season is not celebrated the way it should be, considering the importance of the Resurrection to Christians.  I'm glad that the kids enjoy the egg hunts, Easter bunny, and all the other spring-like festivities, but I want this season to be about more than the commercialized interpretation of Easter.  In an effort to change that for our family, we decided to celebrate Lenten Lights, the week-long version.  I thought it might be more fun and attention-grabbing for the kids if we let them make the lights.

We got beeswax candle-making sheets from A Toy Garden, as well as some decorative beeswax.  We laid the sheets on the table and blew them with a hair dryer for a minute to soften the wax a bit.

Then we slowly rolled the beeswax sheets around a wick.

After we had rolled all of our candles, we broke the decorative beeswax into chunks and pressed them into our candles.

The finished candles turned out quite colorful, and I'm sure the Lenten Lights will be that much more meaningful for the kids since they had a hand in creating the celebration.

We're also making our own candleholders so stay tuned...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour

We celebrated Earth Hour last night from 8:30 - 9:30 EST.  Well, we actually celebrated for 2 hours because I knew the kids would really enjoy it and they generally go to bed much earlier than 9:30.  

So we started at 7:30 with roasting marshmallows over a beeswax candle.  (Not my idea, I saw it here.)  This part was a surprise so they were thrilled, to say the least.  It was at this point that Elizabeth declared Earth Hour to be "best celebration we've had in a long time."

Then Paul cranked up the victrola, and we listened to Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me".

Then we got down to business with a bit of family game playing.  The favorites of the night...Gobblet Junior (by Blue Orange games, sustainable, all wood games--quite fitting for Earth Hour, I think) and Apples to Apples Kids.

After the kids brushed their teeth by candlelight and crawled into bed, Paul and I sat alone in the dark, breathing the silence.  I think it shouldn't take another Earth Hour to spend more time this way.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More Knitting

I thought I'd give an update on how the knitting is coming.  I finished the scarf I was making with the funky orange wool.  This scarf it the first piece I've done that wasn't washcloth sized and wasn't either all knitting or knit one row, purl one row.  I did the basic ribbing of knit 2, purl 2, and I really like how stretchy the scarf is and how clean and simple the lines are.  (Elizabeth keeps asking if she can "borrow" my scarf.  I didn't know that was going to start already.)

Next up, I'm trying an actual pattern  with some of the wool from Linda.  I really like how it's turning out so far, although you can't see the triangle pattern very well with the varigated yarn.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Kids at Play

Mary Beth's post on Salt and Chocolate yesterday inspired me to just watch my kids yesterday afternoon.  In the hour or so that I observed their play, this is what I saw.

They happily collaborated on a woodblock tower...

until, when her head was turned, he knocked it down.

She was not happy.

But she forgave him, and they made marble soup together.

And when he went to play with puzzles, she built the "town of woodsville",

roped off into a Finn-free zone.

Also, since the weather here is so blah again, I made this yummy spring salad to cheer us up.  Isn't it beautiful?!

Asparagus-Strawberry Salad

1 bunch asparagus 
12 ripe strawberries, capped & diced 
1/2 large green pepper, diced 
1/2 med onion, diced 
1/4 cup raspberry vinaigrette (I used Newman's Own) 

Cut bottom 1/3 of asparagus off and discard. Slice remaining asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Steam for 2 minutes then plunge into cold water to halt cooking. Combine with other ingredients, and chill for 2-3 hours.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Book Basket

The spring books have been getting some love this week so I thought I'd share what's in our spring book basket.

1.  The Sun Egg ~ Elsa Beskow - Oh, I love this story, the "egg", the elf, the pilgrimage south...sigh...
2.  Lost in the Woods ~ Carl R. Sams - beautiful photography, sweet animals
3.  Over in the Meadow ~ Ezra Jack Keats - Lovely illustrations set to a familiar rhyme, my kids enjoy singing along to it. 
4.  Easter ~ Fiona French - love this book! but I already blogged about that.
5.  Spring's Sprung ~ Lynn Plourde - I admit that I enjoy the illustrations in this book, more than the story.  I live with squabbling enough without having to read it as well.  Who knows, maybe it helps them work through their issues though.
6.  The Tiny Seed ~ Eric Carle - We're huge Carle fans and this one's no exception.  Elizabeth used to compare every seed she saw to the ones in this book, trying to determine where they'd land.
7.  First The Egg ~ Laura Vaccaro Seeger - not really so much a spring book, although it does have eggs and chickens.  Paul's mom sent it recently, and the kids love watching one picture become part of the next.
8.  The Sun Seed ~ Jan Schubert - One of my favorites.  What this woman can't do with felt!  Gorgeous pictures and the story reminds me of Elizabeth's sunflower seed harvesting obsession.
9.  Pelle's New Suit ~ Elsa Beskow - Great story of a boy who works his way into a new coat, following all the steps of turning a sheep's wool into a new blue coat.  Wonderful!
10.  Spring ~ Gerda Muller - There hasn't been a book yet in this wordless book series that Finn hasn't loved.  He was a bit concerned about where the dog went, but the photos just ooze spring-y joy.

I just had to add a footnote about the lovely yarn that came in the mail yesterday from Linda.  I love, love, LOVE this super-soft yarn, and I can't wait to figure out what I'm going to make with it.  :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Enjoying the Outdoors

The weather has been so wonderful for the last couple of days.  We've spent every possible moment outside enjoying it, soaking up the sun and warmth since the rain is moving back in today.  Some of the things we've been enjoying while we soak up the spring sun include:

crocheting many rainbow chains
(and wearing them in a variety of ways)

brushing up on the baseball skills
(first game is this Saturday!)

tracking down stray balls

hiding treasure
(probably cars)

picking flowers

chasing siblings
(he needed a rainbow spell cast on him)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Everything Wall

I knew as soon as I published the previous post that I should have included a picture of the "everything wall".  I guess by making the "everything wall" it's own post, I'm obliged to give a bit more detail to what's on it.  Feel free to move on to another blog when you're tired of reading the list below...

1.  Obviously in the center is one of the famous campaign posters of Obama.  Paul is a huge fan of Shepard Fairey, the artist that created those posters, so the everything wall needed one of those.
2.  Beside Obama on the left, toward the top, is Egon Schiele.  Some pretty scary art came from that guy so this is definitely tame for him.  Another one of Paul's favs.
3.  Directly below Schiele is a mixed media piece by Woodie Anderson, a favorite local artist of ours.  You can also find her on etsy.
4.  Directly above Obama is a photograph of a potter by August Sander, Paul's favorite photographer.
5.  Directly below Obama is an Egyptian pharaoh painting with heiroglyphs on either side.  Made by Paulie.
6.  Directly below the pharaoh, Elizabeth's volcano and rainbow drawing, done with oil pastels.
7.  Above the cd shelves at the top is a photograph of one of the angels on the Ponte Sant'Angelo, taken by Paul on our trip to Rome in 2005.
8.  Directly to the right of the angel, a photograph of Pablo Picasso.
9.  Directly below Picasso, a photograph of Blarney Castle taken by me last year.
10.  On the far left on the wall, a white paper bag is hanging with a simple drawing by De La Vega, who we met at his shop on St. Marks Place in the East Village.
11.  Directly to the right of the bag is a picture of my grandmother posing beside her first car in the 1950s.
12.  On the very bottom left is Paulie's interpretation of Starry Night.
13.  Two over to the right from Starry Night is a Klimt poster from the Neue Galerie in NYC.

Clearly there are other photographs, mostly taken by us, and other kid art as well, but you've got the high points.  Just wait 6 months...it'll change anyway.

Learning Japanese and Symmetry

Elizabeth's big second semester project was based around the second grade class's study of Japan.  Elizabeth has been thrilled to study Japan since she's 1/4 Japanese.  Her great-grandparents, on her father's side, emigrated to Hawaii where her grandmother was born.  We watched The Little Traveler's Japan dvd to learn a little bit more about the country.  

Elizabeth chose to report on the Japanese language.  Her dad was able to help with this since he knows a bit of Japanese.  Her visual presentation hit a few key Japanese phrases she intended to teach the class, as well direction for writing the Japanese characters for the numerals 1-5.

Elizabeth's dad also allowed her to borrow a poetry book that her great-great-grandmother wrote in Japanese as well as photos of her great-great-grandmother.  She was so excited to share this bit of her history with her friends at school.

Philip has been learning about symmetry in his art class at school.  He came home with this collage of painting he had done, folded over after painting, of course, to make them symmetrical.  He asked me if I'd blog about his painting, then hang it on the "everything wall".  

(I'm not sure if I've ever blogged about the "everything wall" in our library.  All artwork, photos, posters that don't have a home somewhere else in the house, get hung on the "everything wall".  We semi-annually replace a significant portion of the art on that wall so it changes frequently.  Books and art, living together...definitely one of our favorite rooms in the house!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

First Weekend of Spring

Springs in NC, when the weather doesn't go straight from 40s to 80s, are wonderful.  This weekend was a case in point, mid to upper 60s with cool nights.  When we came downstairs this morning, our little cardinal friend was hanging out in the garden.

He might have been checking out the breakfast options:

When Elizabeth came home this afternoon, Finn was just waking from his nap, so we decided to head to the backyard, for acrobatics...

and snacks.

Mommy worked on knitting with this new funky orange wool,

which inspired Elizabeth to learn crochet chaining with her rainbow wool.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

While Mommy Worked

Once a year, the bank I work for declares a disaster on a Saturday afternoon in March, and we practice taking all the necessary steps to ensure normalcy in the event of an actual disaster.  Of course, this whole event takes 15 hours, plus or minus a few minutes.  So that's what Mommy did yesterday.

This is what Finn did:

made a parking deck out of tree blocks

and a road for his bus

played outside with daddy

and his beloved bus that he decorated with avocado stickers

Although I did manage to take a few breaks for playing and reading yesterday, I'm definitely looking forward to spending more quality time with Finn, and Paul, today.