Sunday, August 30, 2009

yes we still do crafts

It's seriously been ages and ages since I posted a craftsy type post. We still are crafting away here at my house but I've been lazy about taking pictures while crafting. I plan on being better about that and aim to try and post a craft activity each week. We shall see if I'm able to follow through.

My kids love to collect rocks and shells and with all the trips to the beach and pond this summer we've accumulated a LOT of loot. We became very discriminating rock hounds by summer's end. Even so, I've got bowls on my kitchen table and windowsills. Teresa has a huge jar on her dresser. And we've got buckets out on the deck. All filled with rocks. I even got into the game. I always keep my eye out for heart shaped rocks and managed to find over half a dozen cute little heart shaped stones. But this year I also really took a hankering to rocks that have bands of another color running through them. So I have a bucket of striped rocks I plan on using for this craft featured here.

Okay...on to the messy stuff.
We decided, and by we I mean me, to use some of the summer's treasure to create stepping stones. It's a very simple process and the stones become summer souvenirs that should last far longer than a keychain or snowglobe. You will need a mold for your stepping stone. We have purchased molds from the craft store but this time around we just used some foil baking pans from the supermarket. You will also need a bucket of ready mix cement, an old bucket, water and a wooden paint stirrer. I also recommend a board or flat pan to do the project on so you can move it easily while the cement is still wet. The crowning glory will be whatever you plan on decorating your stone with. It can be rocks and shells or you can buy pretty marbles or tiles at the craft store if you want.

First you need to dump some of the cement mix into the bucket. Then begin adding in the water. Add a little (1/2 cup) at a time and stir it thoroughly. You want the mixture to resemble cake batter in the end. Once you've mixed it to the right consistency you will need to pour the cement into the mold. I would not mix the entire bucket all at once because it will be really hard to stir. I make enough for one mold at a time. As soon as the mold is filled your little artists can begin decorating. All they need to do is place the rocks and shells in the cement and push them in just a bit (not too deep). And that's it. Just pick the board up and move it to a spot where it can sit undisturbed for a day or two and once it's hardened pop it out of the mold.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

power nap

Proof that even Pink Power Rangers need to recharge sometimes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

ungrateful wretches

My kids are playing house this morning. I usually think it's hysterical to see them take on the roles of Mumma and Daddy and look at it all from their perspective. I have to tell you though, this morning I'm a bit perplexed and slightly concerned for my safety. Teresa was assigning roles...Teresa is the big sister, Sam is the brother and Katie is the baby. There doesn't seem to be a Dad however, and the Mom....ummmm....yeah, she's dead. They killed me off!!!! Do you think they're a little sick of me? Should I be watching my back?

more summer fun....Mystic Aquarium

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While on vacation we took a trip to the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic CT. To say it was worth the expense would be an understatement. We all LOVED it! The aquarium has indoor and outdoor exhibits and many interactive exhibits too. Sam, Katie and I got to pet some sting rays. We'd put our hand into the tank and they'd swim up and rub against our hands like a cat. They are so smooth and it was an amazing experience. Teresa kept chickening out. She'd put her hand in and when a ray swam up, she'd yelp and jerk her hand out of the water. Katie had a blast in the touch tank holding sea stars and crabs in her hands. I don't think she loved the sea lion show all that much. The aquarium has a twenty minute show starring two adult sea lions and a youngster as well. It wasn't the greatest show but entertaining. We sat there front and center and watched the sea lions do their tricks. Afterwards the lights went up and we prepared to leave. Katie then proceeds to throw a fit because she says she missed the show. WHAT!!?? I still can't figure out what she was expecting. I'm thinking she was looking for LIONS and she is not accepting our explanations that those seals are really sea LIONS. But that was just a little blip in an otherwise wonderful day. The highlight, hands down, was the beluga whales. There are three of them and one was swimming around in the big tank and every time it passed the large windows and saw people waving, it would slow down, smile and wave back! The kids and I could have waved foolishly back at this beautiful animal all day long. We could have stayed longer and explored a bit more but after Katie's mammoth fit, we decided to hit the gift shop and head back to the beach house. Now we have an excuse to head back again sometime.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

redefining beautiful

This one is for Karen...I hope you have a tissue handy.

Teresa has the most beautiful hair. It is thick and wavy and has reddish highlights that catch the sun. She loves her hair. She has always loved her hair. Even when she was a year old, she would sit patiently and let me fix her hair and put little doodles in it. She would ask to be lifted to a mirror so she could admire her beautiful locks. Her first haircut was at nearly four and we took off just a smidge because she couldn't bear to get more than that cut off. (I don't count the time Sam got ahold of a pair of scissors and trimmed an eighteen inch long lock of hair from the top of her head.) Every morning I had to pull the comb through the snarls and tangles while she cried and hollered. I explained that if she had it cut shorter it would be so much easier to care for, but she would adamantly refuse to even entertain the idea.

About a month ago she heard me talking about how my friend's daughter got her hair cut and donated the hair to locks of love. Not long after, on her own, Teresa came to me and mentioned that she wanted to get her hair cut and donate hers to locks of love. I admit, my heart did a little jump. As much as I would welcome relief from the torture sessions of brushing and fixing...cut her hair!!??...I don't know that I really wanted her to get her hair cut that short. She kept insisting though, so the day before her birthday I took her to the salon. She climbed up into the chair and the stylist combed out her waist length hair. She then informed me she'd need to cut off twelve inches in order to get the ten usable inches they needed for Locks of Love. Not even hearing this deterred Teresa from her resolve. I was a little sad to see the hair gathered back and chopped off, but oh so proud of my girl. Because even though she is turning seven and seems so big, she is still just a little girl. A little girl who thinks long hair means beautiful.

Or she did. I caught her stealing looks into the mirror as the stylist worked and couldn't help smiling at the little grin that danced around her face. She loved her haircut and has yet to stop looking into the mirror to admire her new look. I look at her and see that beautiful face I love and am so proud of the person she's showing herself to be.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

summer fun moments 5, 6, 7, 8....ah, heck...I couldn't keep track...playing in the sand

My kids, like most, could play in the sand all day long. Teresa loves to squish the wet sand through her fingers and make sand drip castles or dribble it all over her legs. Sam is a digger. He will be a superb know, just in case he needs to tunnel his way out of prison or something. He just digs these random deep holes and then walks away to begin another. Katie is our builder. She wants to make castles. The more elaborately decorated with shells, rocks and seaweed the better. I've even indulged in some sand play myself. In case you were wondering, I enjoy building castles like my Kate. Let me tell you, she and I knocked out some spectacular palaces of sand over the last couple of months. I get very territorial though and hate to see them demolished. Unfortunately for me, that is a favorite activity of my kids. Most of the time I managed to bite back my wails of protest. We have gotten more than our money's worth out of our sandbox with all the use it's seen. But nothing can compare to being at the beach. There is a world of sand as far as the eye can see and they are in sandy heaven. They work on projects together and at other times go their separate ways to work on something of their own. We have spent days upon days at the beach and the kids have been able to satisfy the urge to play in the sand to their hearts content.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

does it ever stop being "home?"

We went to my parents for dinner last night. I love going there. Not only do they ask me to do nothing more strenuous than sit and turn the pages of the latest LLBean catalog...they feed me and my offspring too. And speaking of LLBean, my parents seem to get an inordinate number of catalogs from them. They get the Home, Children's, Summer/Fall/Spring, Gifts, Women, as well as the regular all purpose everything catalog. Can't they just send out one catalog with everything in it? You know, like Sears used to? Anywho...back to me being pampered and petted. I sit at the table, or one of the rocking chairs if I'm able, and sip my soda or wine. My Mom or Dad take the kids in hand and that's the last I see of the kids until it's time to eat.
My parent's kitchen is one of my favorite rooms in the house. It's a big cluttered room and it's had two rocking chairs in it for as long as I can remember. A big island in the middle of the room has piles of catalogs and magazines and the big calendar we all make sure to read any time we stop in. Everyone writes events down on it and it's one way to know what's going on with everyone. It's warm and cozy despite it's large size. They have the same dishwasher in there since I was a toddler. It doesn't work and I rarely remember it ever being used. You'd think they'd either replace or or just have it taken out but that's not how they roll. My younger sister stuck some kitty stickers on it when she was a toddler and those same stickers are still there. It's one of those places that hasn't changed all that much and you can just sink into it because it's so familiar. Sigh....I could sit there in that kitchen forever.

Where was I...oh, being spoiled by my parents and them giving me a break from attending to my kiddos. The kids either disappear somewhere into the bowels of the house or my parents are entertaining them with a book or game or little task. They take such delight in the kids too. And it's not just my kids...they're like that with all their grandchildren. Here they are, seventy six years old, raised eleven kids of their own and have twenty one grandchildren, and yet our kids can't fart without my Dad chuckling and remarking to my Mom..."how strong, how smart, how humorous." Every milestone, big and small, is still amazing to matter that they've seen it thirty plus times over. My Dad can hold a baby and study it for hours on end. He sits in his rocking chair, humming and looks into the baby's face. I love this about my parents. They never cease to find the wonderful in our children. My parents have this ability to make every grandchild feel like he or she is the only one they have.

My Mom is always giving my kids little gifts too. They are constantly coming home from my parent's house with odd bits and pieces or little toys or dress up clothes or books. Some to borrow and some they are allowed to keep. My Mother is a consummate thrift store shopper. If you're looking for something, she is the woman to ask to find it. When I was teaching preschool I was looking for an old fashioned hair dryer and not only did she find two, she also called me excitedly to tell me she found an actual chair from a salon and did I want it. She picks up clothing, toys, books and other items all year long. I'll bet she is the only 76 year old woman who buys up all the star wars and superheroes action figures she can find. Each time we visit, she will disappear upstairs and reappear with some little treasure. Last time we were there the kids came home with some dress up shoes, finger puppets and some small rocket ships.

I like to think she bestows these little gifts because she wants to spoil her grandchildren but I think she has ulterior motives. She and my Dad have been cleaning out their house, barn and carriage house. Now the barn and carriage house are both bigger than most houses and the house is bigger than both. Let me tell you, that gives them tons of room for stuff. And they have crammed stuff into every square inch of space. Jukeboxes, boxes of records, our childhood artwork, trophies, books, furniture of every kind, all compete for space in all three buildings. Cleaning them out is a HUGE job. Every so often my Mom will come across a box or trunk with items that were mine at some point in time and she'll ask me to come take it away. They say they are cleaning house to prepare for their move to a smaller home. I don't like to think about that. I can't imagine not having my "home" to go home to anymore. But honestly, they have so much stuff to sift through it could take them close to twenty years before they're ready to move. Which is just fine by me.
However, back to my Mom and her ulterior motives for giving my kids these little doodads and finery. I think it is her way of getting back at me for helping to fill her house up with junk all the years I lived at home. Little by little she is trying to fill my house up with the same manner of junk we filled her house with. Many days I think she's succeeding. Thanks a lot Mom.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

early morning walk with my daughter

mug of tea in one hand and her hand in the other

seagull prints and mermaids purses, seaweed bracelets and a beach rose in her hair

discovering the wonder in the simple things...relishing the awe in her voice when she exclaims, "the sand! it's sparkling!"

the beach revealing little treasures; rocks worn smooth by the waves and shells shaped like shark teeth

her sandy feet leaving little girl prints

she dares the waves to kiss her toes and shrieks in happy protest when they do

if she's not asking questions, she is humming her delight

the sound of the waves rolling onto the shore and the spray catching us unawares

tasting the salt on her cheek when I steal a kiss

our shadows, reflecting how we feel, race ahead on our way down the beach and lag behind on our way back

Saturday, August 1, 2009

my official wine glass of the summer

If you have to drink wine...and believe you me, I have to...don't drink it in a boring stodgy glass. I came across these fun little wine glasses up at Old Orchard Beach, Maine and I couldn't resist bringing a few home with me. Now every sip is a veritable celebration...not just for the taste buds but for the eyes too!