Friday, June 28, 2013

A Box of Crayons

Can there really be something as ridiculous as vintage crayons?  I don't know, but I'm convinced I have a whole tin of them!

One of the projects I've taken on for the summer is to clean out the kids room and make their small, shared space more livable for them.  We've had a lot of headaches with our little rental here in Berkeley, but have recently been inspired to stick with it and make the best of it.

Unfortunately, our children's possessions amass to more than the rest of our household goods combined, so the first thing I've done in this process is to weed out a ton of their things and prepare for a garage sale.  I'm nearing the finish line: I've tackled books, toys, games, legos, stuffed animals, school portfolios, clothes, furniture, but one of the things I saved for last was the art stuff... ugh!  So many cut up papers, crumpled stickers, markers with no lids, paints, painting accouterments, paint pencils, paint crayons, tape, glue, rulers galore, erasers, sharpeners, stencils, folders, envelopes, miscellaneous bobbles and whose-its and what-nots, tons of highlighters, pens, sharpies, and crayons!  Lots of crayons; broken crayons, cheap crayons, melted crayons, fat crayons, skinny crayons.  You get the idea, right?  It was a mess!

I made an executive decision to just throw away all the broken, fat, or melted crayons.  That whittled down the supply considerably.  Pleased, I moved on to the metal tin of crayons I brought back from my grandmas' house.  I thought I would do the same thing with her box of crayons and then combine the two batches--hers and ours.  

But...  I opened the metal tin of crayons and that familiar smell of wax and paper wafted out. I looked at the nubs of crayons: fat crayons, skinny crayons, crayons with the paper torn down, melted crayons.  It was a box of old crayons--really old crayons.  They were just crayons, right?  But, I felt so stupid, sitting their staring at those crayon pieces, feeling teary and unable to bring myself to throw away a mere piece of crayon that had so long been bumping around inside that box that it looked black, even though it clearly said "blue-violet" on the side of it.  I remembered that crayon.  I remember coloring in my grandfather's wood-paneled, book-filled den where the crayons were kept on the bottom shelf of the bookshelf.  I remember being fooled by that blue-violet crayon many, many times as a child; thinking it was black when it was really purple. Over time, I got wise to that box of crayons and always closely inspected them and tested them before defiling my page of coloring with them. 

With memories swirling around in my head, I slowly drug my fingers through the box of crayons, thinking how ridiculous it was that I could care so much about a bunch of stupid wax when I noticed something: the font on these crayons was great.  Stark, clear, strong.  And there was something else.  They had the words: "CRAYOLA, Binney & Smith Inc. New York" written on all of them.   I checked our box of newer crayons and they simply said "".   Lame.  My grandma's crayons are old, people.  I don't know how old, but they are the same ones I was using 25 years ago at least...probably longer.  I don't know how she did it, but my grandmother must have bought crayons once and they just lasted forever.  There are crayon colors in that tin that Crayola has since discontinued.  I don't know if these crayons have any monetary value, but that doesn't really matter to me.  I just... couldn't be practical with these crayons from my childhood, so I didn't combine them with our other crayons.  I took out a few crayons that were from Kmart, but other than that, I just put the lid back on and sat staring for a while longer.  Sometimes I hate how time keeps marching on like a terrible drill sergeant and you can't go back.  But there's something nice about having a box of stupid old wax to remind you of precious time gone by...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Caiden Writes a Birthday Note

I'm starting think that Caiden might be slightly introverted.  She has a hard time with big groups of kids. If a party is going on with lots of kids, Caiden will want to go, but when we get there she will usually just hang back and chill on the sidelines with me.  So when she was invited to celebrate her friend's birthday just one-on-one, she was very excited!  I think that Caiden felt like her friend did this just for her.

I was pretty impressed with how Caiden was able to express and communicate her thoughts and feelings in this birthday message for her friend. It is always a treat to get little glimpses, like this, into her soul.  And I love how she uses words like 'excellent', 'peaceful', and 'queen':
"How did you know I like birthday parties peaceful and not scary?"

And those last few sentences read:
"I think you are as beautiful as a little special queen.  You're excellent at pretending you are a baby."

Caiden has always been a little spark of laughter and fun around here; and I was totally laughing, today, when I got to see more of who Caiden is when I read this...  Love.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Shockingly Positive Kiting Experience

As a general rule, I don't enjoy flying kites (as I have ranted about before).  But Monday was an exception.  Since the weekend for our "pastoral" family doesn't really start until after Sunday, we like to set Monday aside as our "family day."

The kids love saying "family day."  They say it all the time...: "Oh, its family day!"  "Maybe we could do this on family day." "Yah, and we'll watch a movie together on family day!" "Is today family day??"  I think Elliott and Caiden keep "family day" alive by the sheer force of their claim to ownership and excitement over it.  Otherwise, I might just tend toward forgetting all about it and letting it meld into every other day of the week.

For the last few weeks, on family day, David has been suggested things like kite flying, going to the park, and other things I'm not naturally inclined to do.  But somehow those innocent suggestions, consistent over time, have served to brainwash me into actually considering them as real (and maybe fun?) options for family activities.  I'm a kite and a park grinch, clearly.

But this Monday, I actually suggested the kite park myself (little pat on the back)... And David played it cool, as if this was something I normally suggest and never veto.  Only later did he confess his complete, but concealed, shock at hearing me suggest it.

I hate to say it, but we actually had a really nice time setting up kites and flying them, enjoying the stunning beauty of the San Francisco Bay, and making it to the end of the extraordinarily long pier in the Berkeley Marina.

One thing that helps make kite flying more enjoyable for me is an upgraded string-lett-er-out-er; the kind that unwinds itself as the kite picks up wind.  It just spins and spins; no need to manually unwind as the stupid string gets caught at each rotation...

The kids also really enjoyed the tall grasses they found in the marina.  After they tired of holding the dumb kite string, Elliott said, "Can we go play in that cool grass?"

Dave and I packed up the kites and when we went to find them, Elliott was completely camouflaged in the grass like a little lion.

Its so fun to see my kids enjoy one of my secret loves: the golden grass of summer.  It reminds me of my early childhood in Kansas.

In summary, I think its all about the attitude you adopt when approaching an activity.  On that day, mine was set toward positive and willing and for that I'm thankful.  Its much easier to enjoy family that way.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Best Breakfast Bread in Bed

After two miserable, hectic weeks leading up to the end of the school year, I started off the first day of summer vacation with breakfast in bed... Not for my kids, but for me!  Caiden came in this morning with a menu and told me to place an order.  I obliged.

My choices were: "Milk with cereal!  Water.  A toast.  A glass of milk.  Chocolate milk."  It was pretty adorable; how could I say no?  I decided to ignore the disquieting thought of crumbs in my bed.  I chose not to worry about whether she knew how to make toast or if she could pour the milk.  I threw caution to the wind and ordered toast (with butter) and a glass of milk!

Sure enough, a few minutes later, a table was laid beside my bed and 'voila!' breakfast in bed: a mug of milk and a toast with a little dab of butter only in the center.  After waking up grumpy, that piece of toast and warm 5-year-old smile really gave me new life.  She was so proud and happy.  It was the cutest thing.

That was the first time Caiden has ever made toast.  She then proceeded to take David's order and then Elliott's.  She is officially a toast making pro!

I've never even made her breakfast in bed... I better get on that!

Happy summer vacation!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Caiden's First Sleepover in Which She Doesn't Sleep Over

Caiden got invited to her first sleepover last weekend.  The invitation stated that it was a "pink party" and that the guests should wear or bring their pink pajamas.  Since Caiden wasn't going to actually spend the night, she donned her pink pajamas before arriving.  We were surprised to realize she had out-grown her pink slippers, so we put those ballerina slippers to use yet again.

Caiden kind of reminds me of a hermit crab sometimes: hard to coax out of its shell, un-willing to leave its own home for another.  Or maybe more like a clam: shut tight!  So, I was a bit surprised at how excited and insistent she was about the whole "sleepover" thing.  

She seemed so grown up, going to a party without her brother.  The two of them haven't done much independently from each other...

As planned, my little sea mussel clung to me like, well, a sea mussel pretty much the whole time.  She ate some food, used some puffy paint, watched her friends play, and came home with me towards the end of the night.  And she made sure to grab a little extra goodies for Elliott who had been left behind.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cryn-spiration: The Time I Made a Panda Mug

My friend, Tiffany, was turning 29 and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make her something that combined a few things she likes: coffee and pandas.  I'm always excited to be able to give a handmade gift, so the kids and I set out to collect our supplies...

Our first stop was at the Crate and Barrel Outlet where the kids forced me to buy them fabric scraps for 50 cents.  Next, we visited CB2 where everything was going fine until Caiden opened the emergency fire door and turned the alarm on.  We paid for our mug and left!

Our final stop was Blick for the porcelain paint pen.  I avoided being forced into any more purchases for the kids (they LOVE art stores!), but conceded to taking weird pictures with the white blob guy.

Most importantly, we went home and had cookies--itsy bitsy cookies that I had painstakingly formed (100 of them) the day before. Maybe I should have given her some of those for her birthday, too.  Oh, well.

In the evening when all was quiet in the house, I pulled up panda images I had saved as inspiration and set to work doodling and testing out my skill, which is not very great but can be passable at times.  The first sketch (upper left hand corner) was a disaster so I moved on to inspiration number two, tweaked it a bit, liked it, and set to work on the real deal.

I drew the outline on the mug in pencil to allow for error.  Tools I used for this project were:

partially unglazed porcelain mug (CB2 Tactile Mug 12 oz.)
Pebeo Porcelaine 150 paint pen 1.2 mm
Blackwing 602 (not original) drafting pencil

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pack Your Sookcase for a Vuckashine!

First, the list of supplies from left to right:

"spy suit,  spy roller skates, suitcase,
binoculars, book, bookmark,
spy hat, spy camera."

Next, the explanation of purpose:

"Caiden Spy is going with?...
Juno Spy and Sarah Spy!
Happy Spy Vacation
after tomorrow
and after the next day, too!"

There are so many things I love about this.  The plan, the drawings, the spelling. I LOVE "spy soot" and "sookcase"; are you kidding me?  That's cute!  Suitcase sounds like sookcase to her.  I love that!  And how about the word "vuckashine."  That's amazing.  I just love, love, love, this and had to share.

Show and tell courtesy of my 5 year old daughter, Caiden.

P.S.  This top secret plan reminds me of the time Elliott got drafted by the kid army a few years ago...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Keep Going and Live.

My husband would never be caught dead in pajama pants in public.  That is... unless he really thought he was dying.

A few years ago, David finally went in to get his wisdom teeth taken out.  You should know that he is terrified of needles and has never been to the dentist since I've known him which has been about 13 years or so.  But he was in pain, so he submitted to his first surgery ever and man... talk about giving up on life.  I think he really thought there was a good chance he would die. When I drove him home from the dentist, he just sat there with blood dripping down his chin; powerless to help himself. I had to personally reach inside his mouth and insert gauze.  After a few delirious days under the influence of vicadin, he was firmly on the road to recovery.  Eventually, we had to go to the pharmacy or do some such errand so he reluctantly dragged himself dramatically to the car... wearing his pajama pants.  And that's when I knew.  "Why are you wearing those pants?"  I demanded.  "You think you might die!  Don't you??  You are fine.  You just had your wisdom teeth out, that's all!  Now go back inside and get some real clothes on and LIVE.  LIVE I tell you!"

Well, I don't know about you, but I have a suspicion that a lot of us are like that.  I know I am.  I had a particularly emotional week this past week as I waited expectantly for my normal womanly cycle to kick in, but it never did.  Day after day went by and I was just kind of dumbfounded.  I am never late.  Furthermore, I look at pregnant women all the time and consistently think, "Better her than me."  I have no hidden desire to get pregnant.  I am totally happy with my kid situation.  So after a week of no period I really started to freak out a little bit.  So many different thoughts, feelings, and emotions flying around inside my head.

It wasn't until I talked to Dave and he said, "I wouldn't be worried.  God is the giver of life.  Who am I to question that?" that I started to relax and accept it.   And the more I thought about that, the more excited I got.

"Wow!  God is the giver of life." I thought.  "As the Giver, has He decided to give us a little life that we didn't plan for or expect?  He must have His own special plan for us and that is exciting!"  I began to pray for this little life I was sure was growing inside of me.  I thought about how excited the kids would be and how good it would be for them to learn to care for someone else.  I had a secret I couldn't tell.  There was still time, but I was pretty sure the unthinkable had happened.  I was pregnant.

And then one day... It shockingly became clear that I was not pregnant.  Suddenly all of those new ideas that were so hard to embrace at first were ripped away.  The future suddenly seemed flat and gray--mundane.  "What in the world?" I thought.  "I don't understand this at all."  But from the beginning I had decided to trust God with my life and situation; so I decided to trust Him again.  Still, I was sad...very sad.  And confused.

And then as I suffered through these new emotions and sense of loss, I was keenly aware of every little body ache.  Each one seemed to me to be a sign that I was surely dying.  "Just pile it on." I thought.  "Just press the "TNT button" to add more drama."  That was me.

My achilles was hurting and not extending all the way. "What's wrong?!" I wondered.  I had an awful headache.  My back was hurting.  My hearing felt a little off.  I felt dizzy.  "I"m probably dying," I dramatically surmised. "I better lie down." And that was when I realized: I'm doing that thing! The dramatic thing.  The making so much out of my little situation thing. "You're not dying!"  I told myself.  "You're having your period and a few aches and pains.  Get dressed and LIVE, Corynne.  LIVE I tell ya!"

But you know what, God is so gracious to me and patient.  I had a few cuddly, quiet moments with Dave. I had some prayerful times with God.  I took it easy while I wasn't feeling well and dropped the ball on some of my household things, but God provided.  A sweet friend left breakfast on my front porch and after a few days, I'm feeling out of the woods.  I'm still alive!

{Here I am "living" while my 5 year old disguises me with silly putty...}

And really... I'm just fine.

"With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand." --Psalms 78:72

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." --James 1:2-4

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Un-Western Ballerina

Caiden makes crazy outfits.  We all know that, right?  If you aren't familiar with my previous discussions on this topic, look at the old posts here:

Sartorial Inclinations
Wacky Wednesday
Parenting Crossroads
I Let My Kids Dress Themselves
The Red Tutu and the Garden
Caiden's Crazy Outfits

As I rolled out of bed this morning, I found a little 5 year old girl, curled up in a ball with her hair splayed out all over my pillow, wearing nothing but bright green underwear.  I got up, brushed my teeth, and decided to make the kids' lunches in peace before waking them up.  As I came back to drag Caiden out of bed, she was so cozy and warm that I curled up next to her, cooing to her to wake up as I gave her little kisses and nudges.  She refused, so I scooped up my scantily clad Kindergartener and carried her into her room where I tried to deposit her onto the floor in a standing position, but she kept trying to climb back into her bed.

"Do you have clothes picked out?" I questioned, trying to wake her up more when suddenly she came to life and ran over to a fluffy pink pile of clothing.  I guess she was really excited about this outfit, because it snapped her out of her fake grogginess (she's a morning person, but she tries to hide it).

Off came the bright green undies.  On went some clean ones.  She ran to the potty.  She came back and I helped her wriggle into some white tights with silver dots.  Next, I assisted her in stepping into a very fluffy, soft, pink skirt with about 5 layers of "floof." (I just made up a word...)  To my horror, the next thing we put on was a bright green, no, fluorescent green t-shirt.  We then rounded out the outfit with a pair of pink, authentic ballet "shoes."

The inner turmoil regarding those ballet shoes waged inside me for a good few minutes as the scenarios of her prancing around the playground in ballet shoes, sitting on the floor in the classroom cross-legged with ballet shoes, and dangling her ballet shoe-clad toes at the cafeteria lunch table played out in my mind... As well as walking in the cafeteria over food, running around outside for P.E., doing various activities in the classroom, her teachers reaction to her feet???  I had to make a decision!

And then the other side of the battle was waged in my head as I considered the alternative shoes for this already wild outfit with the remaining options being fake patent leather purple flats, black and yellow Nike high tops, Roxy flip flops, or white Chuck Taylor Converse.

None of those options appealed to me, so I went ahead and condoned the use of the leather ballet slippers.  But not without quite a bit of hesitation.

Now the only remaining obstacle was to hope against hope that papa bear wouldn't object to this outrageous getup before we left the house.  We happened to be in luck, however, since oddly enough, the only thing Dave commented on was how bright her shirt was.  "Hhhmmm..." I thought.  "Really???  Could I actually be this lucky?!  He must be getting slowly desensitized if he didn't notice anything else strange about this outfit..."  But I sure wasn't going to bring it up at that point in the game.  No one was crying and we still had a few minutes left for breakfast.  That's a win, win, win right there.

Caiden must have felt lucky this morning, too, because after all of that passed inspection, she pulled out a velvet, forest green sash and a fire-engine red bandana to "complement" the outfit.  That's when I put my very generous foot down.  "No way, Caiden.  I'm already letting you wear all of that. [pointing and gesturing] You take off that green belt right now--And the red bandana off your neck.  I've been generous, but that is too much!"

"But, Mom, this belt says I'm a ballet master!"

"That's not how it works in ballet..." I countered (echoed by Elliott).

"What about this bandana.  It makes me look pretty." she tried.

"No way.  You're dressing like a ballerina, not a cowboy."

And that's the story of how Caiden went to school dressed like a very colorful ballerina with ballet shoes and everything on the day I had forgotten was supposed to be "Western Day."  Oops.

"See, Mom, you should have let me wear that bandana.  Maybe you could go back home and get it..."

(Re-enacted outfit, missing one shoe and her glasses due to breaking them...)