Friday, May 09, 2008

Compulsive Posting

Unlike some bloggers who know when to take a break from posting, I cannot seem to resist sharing something, anything. And for this, I apologize. I have nothing to say... nothing but an irresistible urge to report the minutia of the day.

Dude, this isn't my car.
Funny, when we were 5 kids, crammed into our avocado green VW bus, I didn't think it was quite this cool. Hey family, who remembers summer 1982, the road trip and the unplanned stop in Visalia, California? Waiting for a part to come in? Good times. Mom, that was the same trip when we camped in Kings Canyon and you kept us on high alert for bears. Even though I was 15 and moody, I still have happy memories of being in the wilderness, with real trees and hiking across a huge meadow.

I just dragged the children out to the driveway of Garage Mahal to clean our ride. I love our Odyssey... so much room, so dependable and safe. In the recesses of our conestoga we found 47 pencils and pens, 2 crayons, 14 Lego parts, a pair of socks, 3 dirty socks, one black dress shoe -size 12, inline skates, knee pads, a helmet, an old sheet, 68 plastic grocery bags to take to recycling, a banana... technically a fossil of what is presumed to have been a banana, 2 jackets, one sweater, 17 print-outs of house listings, and the "Mary Poppins" DVD box, which had "Pirates of the Caribbean" in it. There was more, but I think you get the idea.

As soon as William gets out of the shower, we are going to the car wash, then we are going on a walk. Fascinating, I know.

We are having turkey meatloaf for dinner. I will do my usual thing, where I add a ton of grated zucchini and whole oats to the mix, and everyone except Max and Maria will love it. Max and Maria will get peanut butter and jelly or pasta.

Ah! He's out of the shower... we're off!
I hope You have a great Friday night.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cutie Pants and Chocolate Croissants... Yeah, We're Creative

This is Maria's line-up. I can't think of a nicer way to tone down the looming towers of faux columness that grace the entry of Garage Mahal. True, she does tend to overrun the house with her collections, assortments of odd this and that, and sacred altars of randomness. I could do an entire blog devoted to things Maria puts in boxes, bags and cupboards. But if this is her art, her expression, well then, it is sacred to me too.

I can't think of a time when we haven't been a creative family, enjoying spontaneity and the pleasures of discovery and invention.

Jennifer, those stamps you sent us have been a huge hit. It took me a while to remember to bring home a fresh stamp pad, and when I finally did show Maria what magic was contained in those funny wood blocks she was ecstatic. Then Alex jumped in and filled a giant page with his stamped tales. Max was racing through his school work, so he could join them, and he stamped these stars dancing across the waves. Yesterday he used the 3 dragon parts to make a dragon of unusual length.

William's creativity has been applied to stop motion animation. The latest family interest has been of extra special interest to William. He is our resident film enthusiast-graphic art-CGA expert... a true prodigy, his father's son. I promise to figure out some way of posting video, so I can show-off some of the fun William, Alex and Max have been having with stop motion animation.

Warning: Here Comes The Chocolate Part!

Alex likes to mix things up... his creative enterprises are all over the galaxy and in the kitchen too. Heavens! He decided to try his hand at making chocolate croissants. We had some leftover chocolate chips from Trader Joe's and in the freezer was some puff pastry, also from Trader Joe's. Love that place! Defrost, cut, fill with a few chips, fold and bake... and then drizzle with melted chocolate. They are small and tasty and I think Alex has a baker's gift...

Nothing satisfies like chocolate, except, perhaps, a good read. Maria has an uncanny ability to immerse herself in a book, any book, pictures optional, and turn it page by page. Sometimes she makes a running commentary, a sort of lecture or lyrical narrative, and she does not appreciate being interrupted. Fair enough.

These reading sessions can last a long time.
Self-conscious Mother Moment: I washed her shirt and she pulled it on again, so no, she hasn't been in it for 3 dirty days. Oh, I feel better.

So, what's up with the Creativity Theme? Well, I finally couldn't resist bringing home Amanda Blake Soule's "Creative Family" book. There is so much good buzz about the book and I really enjoy visiting her blog, so when she offered signed copies, I jumped.

It's strange... when William was born and I was merely 24 years old, none of my peers were into marriage or starting families or even remotely interested in going all domestic, so I felt like something of a loner-pioneer mom, and I also felt free to do things my way. My way has been a creative journey. These days? Well, these days I feel like a rather old mom. A been there, done that kind of mom, and I wasn't sure I needed a book about "creativity." Then I remembered something else from when William was born... Geoff questioned some method or approach I was taking in caring for our newborn son and he cited the advice of an expert from a hospital pamphlet. I did not agree with said expert and I declared as much, adding, "It's okay to do it our way. We'll just find another expert to support our style."

So, trusting my instincts, including finding help when I need it, has been my parenting style and I like to surround myself with experts, resources and support that confirm and validate my beliefs. I guess that might sound narrow... it isn't, and most importantly it's what works for me... which leads me to something else I've learned as a parent: You have to do what works for you and your family.

Well, since creativity works for our family, I realized I ought to welcome an expert into our home, someone who supports our beliefs and lends a fresh perspective, new ideas and terrific insight. And I must say buying this book was a very good decision. I am enjoying it immensely. It is thoughtfully written and full of lovely examples and real life illustrations from a real life family. No one asked me to review the book, so I hope she doesn't mind my deep thoughts and other musings!

Maria was the first one to get her hands on the book and she obliged me by reading me some of the pages. I love Maria's reading voice, the words she creates. Then, on page 42, we found something that really captured my imagination: "Constructing Children's Pants" was a perfect fit for something I have been working on lately and I could not wait to try my own version of this ingenious recipe.

I just recently finished a quilt top. It's been a very emotional project, involving Aloha shirts. I have been wanting to take a breather, a step back to prepare myself for the next step of finishing this quilt, and Amanda's idea seemed like an ideal transition. Her idea is to make something old new again, and in this case it involved turning a shirt into children's pants. Some of Geoff's old Aloha shirts were still on my cutting table... a fun print and careworn comfiness seemed ideal for some beach-combing, pajama-style pants for Maria.

Easy! Oh, man was this easy and gratifying and fun. Really, I am quite giddy about the results and even the process. The hem of the shirt finishes the hem of the pants.

Even the pocket transferred nicely... a feature that delights Maria. I had already used the sleeves to make soft baby blocks for cousin Izzy, and now much of the rest of this old shirt is new again and keeping Maria comfy-cozy and very happy.

I love the how the details of the shirt, like the cut vents in the shirt's side, make an easy, cute finish in the pants. Geoff joked that he might start missing some of his shirts. I will be on the lookout for any that are getting too shabby! Thank you Amanda Blake Soule... this creative family is feeling nurtured and encouraged, anew!