Six years ago I was waiting for a baby and making some collages. January 17 was David's due date, and I still think about it as an anniversary of sorts.
I'm so happy I have these journal pages to look back on. I haven't had much drive lately to make work like this. I don't try to push myself, because forced work seems to lack a certain spark to me.
So yes. My son is almost 6. I've been a stay at home mom for almost 4 years. I feel like I'm at a turning point in my life but not sure where it's turning to. Maybe it's time to make some new collages and figure it out.
Playing a little catch-up this week....the second installment in our summer learning project!
As I said in my previous post, I scaled back my expectations on this project quite a bit. My kids are too little to go in-depth on a country's history and culture, but figure I CAN give them some basic information about different places in the world, in a way that appeals to them.
The books pictured above were the big hits of the week. I will probably end up buying a copy of The Story of Babaji because the kids have still been requesting it despite it's being back at the library weeks ago. The Road to Mumbai was a nice introduction to different geography and culture in India.
My Daddy is a Pretzel was also a big hit. While the book is not about India specifically, I thought doing some yoga would be a nice way to tie a new activity into our country studies. I also did a quick youtube search for kids' yoga videos and came across this channel: Cosmic Kids Yoga. Yeah, it's kinda goofy, but it was pretty much an ideal rainy afternoon distraction and a great way of enticing the kids to get off the couch and get moving.
Oh, and we also had some fun on Google Maps, using the street view to look at the Taj Mahal. Google Maps and Google Earth are fascinating to my kids; but the good old globe has been helpful too, to show scale and distance.
Introducing the children to Indian food did not really go as planned. "It's too spicy," my midwestern cheese stick and applesauce-loving children complained. In my defense, I'd made some of the least spicy recipes I could find; a samosa recipe from the book Festive Foods: India, and a chickpea and lentil curry I'd cobbled together from a few recipes online. My second feeble attempt involved pre-made samosas from Trader Joe's, as things from a package always seem less suspicious to children, right? They still wouldn't finish it. Oh well... maybe when they're older. Exploring new things doesn't always mean embracing new things & I am totally okay with that.
One last note: as the summer goes on, these "weeks" are lasting longer than a week. :) Between lessons and trips and being sick, and everything else in between, it's taking me longer to get through our projects. My new goal is to visit at least one country on every continent (except Antarctica... sorry, Antarctica.) 6 countries seems like the perfect goal for this summer project.
For every week this summer I've chosen a different country for the kids to learn about. There are many, many reasons I decided to do this, but I'll share just a few. 1-I am NOT very good about keeping a structure in my children's days, and I figured a flexible learning project like this would give me a baseline of educational things to do on a daily basis. 2-I am a giant nerd and when I was a kid I would have loved something like this.
Our first week was Egypt. Honestly, if the kids were older, this was a topic we could have kept on for months, I'm sure. Between ancient history and modern culture, there is SO much to learn. But, my kids are 3 and 5 and their attention span for learning activities is about 20 minutes at a time, so a week was plenty.
We made Egyptian flags.
David practiced writing.
This craft project was a big hit. We made "pharoah masks," with these instructions as a guide, using masks I bought from Party City and leftover cardboard. Clearly we were not going for perfection here, just fun.
Here are the finished products. David got the concept of adding stripes around the sides, but Norah's is just scribbly 3 year old painting (though the less messy parts of hers were finished by David in true big brother "let me help you because I am big" style.)
(Please note they are wearing their pajamas because afternoon baths were necessary after playing with acrylic paint for an hour.)
Some other things we did last week: I made falafel for dinner one night. David turned up his nose, but Norah ate a little. I tried to get them to watch a Rick Steve's travel show one day but David deemed it "boring, like for grown ups" so I didn't push the issue. David drew some pyramids. We talked about sand and desert animals.
We ended up reading the same 2 storybooks over and over: What's the Matter, Habibi?, a cute story about a camel and his owner, and The Littlest Frog, a funny take on the part of the biblical plagues. This book, Egypt (Letters from Around the World) was nice, a non fiction book featuring a young girl and what her daily life is like. It didn't hold my kids attention that well, but would be great for older kids.
I learned this week about what my 3 and 5 year old can handle, so I think in the future we'll focus on more hands-on activities, and storybooks about our different countries. Next week is India... I'm excited to make some naan bread!
Can you believe in all my years of mixed media art and journalling that I've never picked up one of these crayons before? I think I'd read about them at least 10 years ago but never searched them out. Luckily for me, my amazing local art store had them displayed right at the check out last week and I picked up a few on a whim. THEN I went back the next day and bought a bunch more. It's a super fun new tool and I've been having fun just experimenting.
I've been using them more like watercolors for the most part, I shave off a tiny piece of the crayon with an x-acto, then mix with water in a palette. I'm also finding it's a nice effect to layer dry crayon markings over the watercolor-style painting once it's dried. The pigments are so vibrant. It's really exciting.
These experiments are also part of my new goal of adding more color to my work. The more I mix different colors, put new shades next to each other, and just mess around with color in general, I know I'll start to feel comfortable.
The ony downside is that these really do look like crayons, and therefore tempt my children. I know i shouldn't let them play with my nice art supplies, but as I was taking these photos, this happened:
And then this:
Aaand now I need to go buy a new piece of white posterboard for photo backgrounds.
With 2 little kids in the house, there are days when I can't think of a single thing we've actually accomplished. Then, there are days like today, where I can hardly believe all the things we've crammed into a 12 hour time span.
(Side note: after I typed this all out I realized it's probably suuuuper boring to like 90% of my blog readers, but what the hell, it's mostly for posterity's sake, and maybe a reminder of why I only have time to post art projects like once a month.)
Here's the outline of our day:
6-7 am. Wake up. Children are already in our bed. David and Norah and I lay underneath the fluffy white covers (in our household this is referred to as being a "warm toasty cinnamon bun") while Mike takes a shower and leaves for work. I make oatmeal for the kids after I discover we're out of peanut butter for toast. Norah gets sent to her room for screaming about not having toast for breakfast. I make a big pot of coffee.
7-8 am. Breakfast. David watches "Chuck the Truck" while I silently curse Netflix for introducing lots of terrible children's shows into our home. I take a shower; both kids periodically break into the bathroom asking when I'll be done. I hear some screaming at some point but try to ignore it.
8-9 am. It's raining so we can't go outside like I had hoped. David decides to play pirates. We play pirates. We play firefighters. We play grocery store. We play pirate grocery store. This is really fun, actually.
9-11 am. Cajole children into getting dressed. Head out for the library. Play puzzles. Look for books about pirates. Read books about pirates. Norah runs around yelling and I decide it's probably time to leave the library.
11-12 am. Steer giant car cart through the grocery store: bread, peanut butter, blueberries, cookie ingredients. Home for lunch; PBJ for the kids, leftover chicken and potatoes for me. Norah is so tired she's falling asleep sitting up and chewing with her eyes closed. I invented a new word for this: xhungry. It means exhausted yet hungry.
12-2 pm. I read Norah a few stories and she falls asleep immediately. David watches a Veggie Tales video from the library. I do dishes, make the dough for Double Chocolate Chip cookies (based off this recipe), then spend some time scrolling through instagram while the dough rests. I imagine what it would like to be a real working artist. (Basically a daily daydream.)
2-3. Norah wakes up from her nap. We eat cookies.They are delicious but really, almost too rich and sweet to have more than one. This thought then morphs into a multi-levelled epiphany about my taste buds changing and this is probably why old people like weird sweets like butterscotch candies and gingersnaps. ANYWAY. Then I have to clip the kids' fingernails because there's so much melted chocolate underneath them a regular old handwashing doesn't do the job.
3-5 pm. We go to the playground. Play in the sand, chase robins. David decides the playground equipment looks like a giant dinosaur so that becomes an element of play. Also he wants us to pretend to be redwing blackbirds for some reason? THEN to a different park so that Norah can throw pennies in a specific fountain, her current most favorite thing to do. This park happens to be right next to the library. So we end up going to the library AGAIN, though it turns out to be a happy accident since we run into one of David's favorite preschool friends. When we get home Norah finds a tube of finger paint I thought I'd put away, and I have such a hard time turning down a request to paint, even though I know the result will be...
5-6 pm. Bathtime. Clean up fingerpaint fingerprints in kitchen and bathroom. Tidy the kitchen. Start making meatballs and assembling these sandwiches for dinner. Norah plays in her crib, David plays in the living room, and I hide out in the bedroom reading dumb stories on Buzzfeed because really, it's been a looong day and I just need to sit down.
6:20 pm. Dinner is ready. Mike comes home (hallelujah!). I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down to type this.
Norah turned 2 a few weeks ago. I think 2 year old humans are some of the funniest and strangest creatures on the planet. It's definitely entertaining to have one in our house again (okay, entertaining mostly, infuriating sometimes). This girl loves to be outside and moves FAST. So fast that you start taking pictures and realize they're all overexposed but that seems fitting somehow and you appreciate them anyway.
She looks at the birds and the sky and likes to "help" me do yardwork. She loves her tricycle even though she can't ride it yet, she just wants to sit on it and put her special toys in the basket: her blankie and the little Woody and Jessie from Toy Story figurines that she carries everywhere these days.
Her hair is a mess but I don't want to cut it. It's usually in 2 curly little pigtails with pieces falling out all over. I love it.
She got this purple dress from my mom for her birthday. She calls it her "ballerina dress" and wants to wear it all the time... even when it has macaroni stains all over the front and grass stains all over the back. As you can see, in these pictures she is wearing it over her regular clothes. Because I'm not into having fights over the little things that make her happy.
She has discovered the magic of the words "no" and "yes" and uses both of them equally though seemingly at random. When she says "yes" it sounds like "esss" and she nods her head and smiles an adorable teeny little. When she says "no" it may or may not be accompanied by an ear-piercing shriek. We take the bad with the good on this one.
Our sweet Norah. We are so happy to have her.
You probably know I'm big on life lessons and this past month felt full of them. Okay, some of them might have just been mistakes that I'm attempting to gain something positive from. But some were pretty sweet things to learn, too.
1. Sometimes your kids just cry and whine a lot. It's probably better to stop trying to analyze it and just move on. (See above. Norah has been fussy lately. Lesson 1a: at least when you hold your 27 pound toddler half the day, your arms get a pretty good workout.)
2. Roller skating is fun. Parades are fun. Roller skating in a parade is really, really fun. (Watch a video here and look for me at 0:59 and 1:53.)
3. Don't leave expensive and fragile items laying around if you're going to accidentally take a nap and the kids are playing nearby. Like say, the $500 glasses you just bought 4 months ago. D'oh.
4. But then also: Never underestimate the importance of threatening to take your business elsewhere. When Lenscrafters tells you there's nothing they can do about your broken glasses and you're just going to have to buy a new pair, tell them you'll probably buy something cheaper online. Then the glasses lady will be all "Well... maybe we can sell you an insurance plan and then say your glasses were covered previously." Still a ripoff, but not as big of a ripoff. Or maybe the lesson here is that I should have just bought cheap glasses online in the first place?
5. If you're in a weird March cold snap but it's above 35 degrees, make your kids play outside anyway. Because you never know when it's going to get even colder, and on those 0 degree windchill days you'll be pretty happy you haven't already been stuck inside all week.
6. And last but not least, when you take jumping photos, make sure to bend your knees. It makes your vertical look a lot more impressive. This is totally not photoshopped, and yes, I'm about as shocked as you are that I can jump this high.