Saturday, October 16, 2010

Happy (Belated*) Birthday

Yesterday was a bit of a party... or at least we played like it was party time. First with play dough that Maria was aching to make with me. And then with a couple of new toys I have been saving for Marissa and Dominic.
(tee hee :: My own children know full well how excited I have been about this.)

Obviously, I remembered to bring out the camera... yay!
How about a little photopalooza?

Happy Birthday Marissa!
Happy Birthday Dominic!
Aunty sure did have fun!

*I am not an altruist. I believe I've got the regard and devotion parts going on, but I must confess my selfless component is sorely lacking. This defect in my character is plainly evident when it comes to Dominic and Marissa's birthdays. I find them toys, totally awesome ones, if I may say, and I buy the toys, and then... and then I cannot stand to miss the party, to skip the part where I see their eyes pop out, watch them hug the package, maybe squeal. I don't want to be hundreds of miles away when they play, discover, uncover, and delight in the new toy. I even like the part where they move on to a another interest, or when the gift suddenly becomes frustrating or boring... I simply love sharing in their whole experience.

So. Yes, I did stash their totally awesome gifts, knowing they were due for a visit soon. And yes, this is an embarrassing and selfish admission. Look away! I am not worthy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

They're Here! They're Here!

Yesterday I kept popping in to my office to see what updates there were from my brother. Bill and Alison took the kids to The Big D, and Bill was keeping us posted on their fun day with phone-camera images.

Alison and Dominic

I have been looking forward to their visit for such a long time. My nephew and niece are the cutest little munchkins, but I do not get to see them nearly as often as I would like.


The Snow White ride and the Pirates' ride gave them a scary-thrill... poor babes. But Marissa looks completely enchanted with Finding Nemo. Lucky for them the Winnie the Pooh ride broke down before they got on. In all honesty, I think that the Winnie the Pooh ride is easily the most disturbing and scary ride in the entire park.

Dominic and Alison

Dominic and Marissa came in last night rested and ready for fun with their cousins. The driving-nap here was just what they needed! Maria, Dominic, and Marissa were fast friends, and they launched right in to play and hilarity.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Socked Out

Sometimes Ferris gets in trouble, like when he attacks Benjamin, or when he prowls across the kitchen counter in search of asparagus. When he gets in trouble, Maria likes to give him a time out. His punishment is time locked in the garage. One thing I've noticed is that Ferris doesn't protest his punishment like he did when he was new to the Bird House. In fact, he seems happy with his lot.

Poor-poor Kitty. All alone in the big garage, where it is dark, and quiet, and...

I heard someone distinctly meow "And turn out the light when you leave, please."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where Was I?

It's a good thing I know how to immerse myself in meditative activities, and be mellow. I was all set to make a quick post here, when I made a decision to fix one link in an old "Yarn" post, well... that was two hours ago. I am still repairing broken links in the blog archive. Yesterday I spent about three hours updating all fifty-four Robotics posts. It takes concentration, patience and a lot of maze work, following one path that leads to another, until all the links synch up again. It also takes discipline, because I must force myself to dismiss housework and other responsibilities, in order to repair a complete series of broken links.

Now my brain is all unraveled, and my initial reflections and thoughts about my latest yarn project are lost in the fray. <------------That's me being pun-y.

Where was I?
Oh, yes.
A quick post about yarn, and the pleasure of having something to do in the down times.

Now that school is in session, and we are having cooler days, I have brought out my crochet hook and yarn. I think I am making another blanket, unless I lose patience and let it be a scarf. No. It should be a blanket. I love snuggling under the weight of a crocheted blanket.

I am happy to have yarn in my purse, or basket, that I can bring out whenever I am waiting... like on Sunday. In a doctor's office, or at school pick-up time, it makes me glad to have something to do. Something fun, and nearly useful.

I say "nearly" because I am aware that some people would question the usefulness of playing with yarn. And even I have an impossible time justifying the expense of yarn. Can anyone explain to me how to justify the expense of yarn?

It's cheaper than therapy, is my go to defense.

Speaking of therapy, the kitties were out. They still turn heads, those whiskered two. And just looking at them always lifts my mood.

Hello Kitties.

Where was I?
Dear me.
I believe I am supposed to be getting things done. Domestic type things, related to not being nominated for this program.
Dear me. That "Hoarders" show scared me straight.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Thanks~Item Two~Art

Alex is in a painting class. He painted in Oregon this last summer. He painted last spring for an English 10 project. And now this...

Since he paints at school, I was missing out on his progress, so when this came home I was really impressed with he'd done. He is taking this, and more in a portfolio, with him today when we go to a college fair for art schools. Today is National Portfolio Day.

I find it remarkable that he draws and sketches these images, these models, and he designs them... he knows how they work... what the gears and motors would do. It is a merging of art and engineering, from his mind to the paper. What a gift.

Oh. Hello Gilbert. It's been a while. You are like one of the family Gilbert.


Thank you for the positive feedback. I try to be objective, but you know, I am the mom... I love everything they create and do!

We were warned that Portfolio Day can be brutal. In a room packed with art college representatives and hundreds of talented and eager students (high school through graduate students) a straight-shooting professional artist makes an unsentimental analysis of student's work, giving the student criticism, and hopefully advice, or suggestions about their future. There was at least one horror story about a talented student leaving in tears. yikes

So, Alex, Suki, Grant, and James took a No Dashed Dreams Vow and we agreed to take everything in stride. James and I were along to help survey the scene and act as tactical shields in the event the critics were packing too much heat. Alex said he prepared himself by imagining the representatives keep shredders under the table, that they use for any art they deem unworthy. He said it gave him courage to imagine the worst.

I am so glad we went. Initially I was glad because we could see that navigating the room took some practice, and it was easy to see a few things that will help when they return next year... things like being more familiar with each individual school, and having particular schools singled out, having real-actual portfolios. It was brilliant having friends along, to hold papers, stand in place, find things, and offer support.

After Alex visited with a few schools, I am happy to report all the feedback was positive and encouraging. He even got worried that maybe they were "nice" to everyone, but then he saw some of those "dashed dreams" kind of episodes, which made him appreciate the affirmations he was hearing.

Seeing other art there, I noticed that his advantage in technical and design art is that he is engineering. His gears work. His gears and wires are intentional and purposeful, and this distinction really singled him out from students with similar themes... in fact he began to stump the representatives who appreciated that he was going beyond envisioning technical concepts, and rendering them artistically. He has a grasp of the science and the art, and they admitted it is a unique ability.

But where to go? No school could say for sure that they had a program that would teach to his dual interests and strengths. For instance... Pasadena Art Center suggested automotive design, but then admitted that their sleek graphics and concept drawings did not represent curriculum in mechanical engineering, innovation, invention. This kind of scenario played out at several of the schools, and it helped Alex conclude that he may want to focus on the engineering, and add art to his studies, rather than the other way around.

Overall, it was simply a worthwhile experience. No dashed dreams. And next time they can go in familiarized, and even more confident. It was a useful and encouraging first look for Alex to start to conceptualize what his academic future may be. I saw Suki have some great exchanges too. She is a talented artist, with work that shows character development, and a narrative. Bright, beautiful Suki... she is a work of art. I hope Grant heard appreciative remarks. The things I have seen him create, the performances he gives with his SteamPunked accessories are riveting.

I figured there would be a lot of students that looked like artists. You know what I mean? Like they would physically have their art on... in unique clothes, or jewelry, make-up, haircuts. Alex, Suki, Grant, and James went in their typical individual, colorful garb and they stood out. It was awesome actually, because without even opening their bags, or turning the pages of their sketchbooks they were already presenting their art, their true selves was actually on their heads and sleeves. And so even what they wore and how they presented themselves made positive artistic impressions that received enthusiastic responses. Yeah, I was not surprised that they did that, that is who they are... I was surprised there wasn't more of it from other artists. It was interesting.

Next year I am going to set up a table for... maybe Bird House Art Academy, and then I can enjoy looking at all of the amazing works of those hundreds of talented people. I would advise all to carry on with their dreams, to never give up! Never surrender!

Sunday Thanks~ Item One~Max is Home

He is home from camp.

What I know:
~He and I attended the same sixth grade camp, thirty one years apart.
~They did tell stories, although not necessarily ghost stories.
~The food was only "okay."
~The cold was not as much of a concern as I had feared. "There were more times when it was too hot, than too cold."
~His favorite part was the all day hike.
~He slept well.

What he wanted most of all was lunch, and his kitty. And yes, Ferris did look much bigger.

Seeing that he was more interested in decompressing than pouring his heart out, I went straight to the most telling question I could think of: "Would you do it again? Would you go back."

Unequivocally, most assuredly, he replied: "No."

Max is home.