Friday, February 29, 2008

A Family Getaway

The view from our window.

We recently got away from it all at what Patrick and I think of as our secret little family hideaway. Maybe not so secret anymore since I'm about to share. We first came across Peeks of Otter near Bedford, Virginia during our first road trip as a family when Sabrina was just nine months old. It was not on our itinerary, but we stopped anyway because we had the time and it was so lovely and peaceful. We fell in love and nearly cancelled the remainder of the trip in favor of just staying at Peeks of Otter.

At ten months of age, CC got introduced to this magical place. What's so magical about it? For us, it's about all of us sleeping in one room and bed, about having absolutely nothing to do but be together, about having no phone or internet or TV, about having every meal taken care of, about deer hanging out outside our lodge door, about hiking and exploring, about the experience being inexpensive enough to go whenever the desire stikes us, about taking pictures of the same things during different seasons, about a postcard view from the window, about a place close enough to go to on a whim and far away enough to feel away.

Do you have a place like that?

Sabrina playing at Peeks of Otter Lodge - October 2005

Sabrina and CC playing at Peeks of Otter Lodge - February 2008

Lois Lenski

We love these little books by Lois Lenski--the vintage illustrations are cute as can be and the simple but detailed little stories are perfect. Lenski was a very prolific writer and illustrator, so there are lots of books to select from. The Little Family and Papa Small are two of our favorites. The series about the seasons is also wonderful.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Three Little Pigs

Sabrina just discovered the story of the the Three Little Pigs at preschool and loves it. The story provided inspiration for an entire day of activities:

*She brought home three stick puppets that represent the pigs, but Sabrina missed having a wolf, so I quickly drew one for her.
*We also spent all morning making the three houses--one of straw, one of sticks and one of brick. Sabrina loves collages so this was really fun for her.
*We performed a puppet show with our houses and puppets for Daddy and CC about five times.
*Sabrina made a big pot of soup out of paper cuttings, blocks and other items--this was inspired by the pot the wolf falls into before being eated by the third pig, but we didn't go there!

I hope to do this again--be inspired by one book to pursue a slew of projects and games.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Salty Watercolors

Inspired by a project from The Artful Parent, a dreamy new blog about creating art with children, we worked on these salty watercolors. First Sabrina painted using lots of water and watercolors, then while the paint was still wet, she sprinkled with salt. I let her experiment with sea salt and table salt to different effects.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Voice Breathe Return Process

I am hanging these inspiring and beautiful prints by Nikki McClure in my study. Sabrina and CC (the other little work of art in this photo) really like them too. Each reminds me of something important to my daily peace and happiness. I love being surrounded by art that centers and grounds me in what's important.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Origami Heart Valentines

This is our first year making Valentines, and I really wanted to come up with a pretty design that Sabrina could have fun with but that would be easy to make many of--we have eleven classmates, seven teachers, a dozen friends and family to express our love to.

I decided on the general design we would go with and asked Sabrina to pick out the materials. I have a box filled with paper so I let her choose three types, specifying that they be red or pink or white. She chose construction paper, which doesn't surprise me since this is a familiar and comfortable materials for her; an origami mesh that I have had forever and never used; and some lovely origami paper I recently bought on a whim. Yeay! Don't you love it when your child makes such great choices?

I cut the mesh into squares, the paper into rectangles and hearts out of the origami. One by one Sabrina selected her colors and patterns and glued the cards together. Later we'll add her name at the bottom of each card. So we still have work to do but I wanted to share with you in time to inspire your own card making!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Smileys from School

Sabrina comes home from school with amazing things: Matisse-inspired collages, fall-colored etchings, watercolor aliens, bejeweled crowns and multicolored sheilds, a universe in a jar and a little book about outer space are some of the beautiful and fun projects she has worked on lately.

But my favorite surprise in her school bag has been this, brought in today: smiley faces drawn on her little clipboard. Something no one directed her to do. She found a quiet moment and worked on these crowds of happy people all by herself, out of the happiness in her heart.

Wouldn't these faces make a great pattern for wrapping paper or fabric? Does anyone know how I could make these into something like that?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pet Shop Girls

We're back to our week of wonders routine, so yesterday we ventured out to the pet store. It was all Sabrina's idea--she made a cage for a toy parrot and then wanted to pretend we were visiting the pet store to see the parrot. So after lunch we went to the real pet store. Fish, birds, cats available for adoption, dogs getting groomed. It was more fun for the girls than I thought possible. I will say I was relieved that we were able to leave without any living purchases.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Gift of Craft

My sister liked the clothespin dolls we made so I put together a little package with everything she'll need to make her own with her children. I think a little package with materials for a fun craft is a nice little happy to give. Just bundle it up in a pretty tissue paper package and you're sure to make some mom and child's day.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Hearts and Kisses

It's February... a month I really like! I like the surprise snowstorms, the love in the air, having a theme for crafts , coming up with something fun to do on Valentine's Day (with children of course), and making cards. I think this is a cute idea: an "advent" calendar leading up to Valentine's Day. No need to make it all related to V-day... just making it about friendship, love, sweetness, the color pink is enough for me. Here are my thoughts, in no order:

1. Bake something sweet as a surprise for a neighbor
2. Make and set out some feeders for our friends the birds
3. Write thank you letters to Sabrina's teachers
4. Make Valentines for Sabrina's classmates, friends and some special ones for Patrick and the grandparents
5. Have a Valentine's Day tea party for our stuffed animals
6. Read some simple love poems to my girls
7. Make lists of things we love about each other
8. Update my picture frames and brag book
9. Play love songs from when Patrick and I first met for the girls (Chris Isaak was a favorite)
10. Indulge in some really special chocolates
11. Make pretty bouquets for the girls' rooms
12. Have some pictures taken of the four of us... do you know how few of these we have?
13. Have a Valentine's Day-themed family happy hour
14. Make heart-shaped pancakes

What will you do in the first half of February?

Image by Sarah Jane Studios.