Friday, January 30, 2009

What I Do ... 3

I love... Massimo Vitali's pictures of European beaches. That's where we'll be this summer. ... This collection of pictures of IKEA's Expedit shelf. It's pretty much an icon at this point, isn't it? ... The Longchamps handbag my parents gave me for Christmas. All my good handbags come from them ... The lavender eye pillow from Ella of Little Red Caboose. It's perfect and oh so soothing.

I write... About how we're splurging on certain things and cutting others and learning a lot about happiness in the process.

I read... The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. Read it this weekend. You'll laugh and cry and nod your head a thousand times ... Collected Stories by Ellen Gilchrist. The beautiful blue cover (notice how I chose Ella's eye pillow to match?) on my copy is enough to make me love having this book on my nightstand, but it's the stories--elegant, timeless and cool--that keep me reaching for the thick tome.

I create... I am so inspired by the Hundred Dresses Project found via Design Mom, and now I want to make 100 of something. It's just such a nice, round, ambitious and complete thing to do, no? And I'm pretty sure my 100 things are going to be collages. Now that I've said it I'll have to make good. By number 100 maybe my paper won't buckle and my cutouts will stay smooth after drying. Could this be a 2009 goal?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Afternoon at Home

There's CC's highchair.

There's Mommy at the dining room table cutting out things with red scissors.

There's the sideboard with red tulips and three votive candles.

There's Sabrina's stuffed porcupine in his cage (I think I'll have to explain in a future post).

There's our living room rug and Mommy's new blue shoes.

There's Sabrina's pink bed and the stairs leading upstairs.

There are the living room shelves.

There's the clock that said 1:21 when Sabrina was drawing it.

There are the family photos of the babies and of Mommy and Daddy kissing.

There are the flowers on Mommy's desk.

There's my amazing child, gone to do something else amazing, leaving this for me to admire.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Little Snow Day

Preschool closed early and we bundled up to play in the snow. I've always loved children in white.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What We Do ... 2

We love... Having the park almost all to ourselves on a cold but sunny morning ... Getting a huge stack of library books ... This year's Caldecott winner, The House in the Night, that we read at the bookstore a few weeks ago. Our own copy is ordered and on its way.

We read... At the library we came across the Valentine's Day shelf, untouched so we had first pick of everything! I've always lamented there not being any good books about this holiday, but I was wrong! A Village Full of Valentines and The Valentine Bears are our favorite discoveries.

We create ... I let Sabrina use my watercolor pencils and she loved the two-part process. The pencils give a child more control than watercolors do, which until you've mastered the technique can be tricky. There's also something magical about seeing one's work be transformed.

We eat... Big bowls of hearty Irish oatmeal that I soak in buttermilk overnight. We add goodies to the recipe and make up fancy names while eating: Blueberry Nut Breakfast Bonanza. Apricot Almond Outrageous Oatmeal. Makes these cold morning that much cozier! ... Muffin tin lunches. I forget about this fun trick, but the other day when we didn't have much in the fridge it came back to me and was a hit.

We watch... Flickr slideshows. It's become one of CC's favorite little things to do, sit back and go through all 1000+ pictures on our photostream, laughing and pointing every time she recognizes someone.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What I Do ... 2

I love
... A surprise warm(er) day in the middle of winter ... Judging a book by its cover on this archive found via Black Eiffel ... These pictures of people in their creative spaces. Click on the photos to get many other pictures ... The white children's rooms collected by Remodelista ... The changes on my blog. Really, I'm not fishing for compliments, but I hope you like them too!

I create
... I'm exploring collage. My pot of Mod Podge and I have become good friends ... This week I spent many long evenings crafting alone (a first for me!) for my BabyCenter assignment. It was so fun and, other than a few snags, pretty relaxing. I can't share the results here until they appear on BabyCenter, but the crafty mess in the picture gives you a little peek. I'm excited that I have lots of leftover materials and new experience to create things with the girls ... Chickpea and spinach soup, a Spanish recipe from my grandma and mom. It was my first time making it and I was hoping it would be a hit with the girls, which it was. I told Sabrina about the recipe's heritage and she said "When you make it it's like your grandma and mommy are here." So true.

I watch and listen... Art will take you places. So cool. So inspiring. I started watching it and both girls ran to my study to see what was going on. We were mesmerized. Thank you for sharing, One Crafty Mumma.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pasta Jewelry

I love finally getting to a simple and classic activity that we've somehow managed to skip over. Pasta jewelry... Sabrina and CC were both so excited about a new material to play with. More and more CC enjoys our artsy craft times by just exploring the materials and observing. She also liked trying on all the jewelry!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cold Morning

I marvel at how children are drawn to the outdoors no matter the weather. Again, to me it's a sign that they know what's good for them and all I have to do is pay attention.

Sabrina and CC begged me to let them play in the backyard after we returned from grocery shopping. Boy, was it cold here yesterday. But sunny and bright. The girls couldn't have been happier running around, gathering treasure, fascinated by the block of ice in their wagon and the bits trapped in it.

At first reluctant, huddling and thinking how sad a backyard looks in the winter months, I eventually got into being there too and found beauty everywhere.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Getting Lost in a Book

We're big fans of Richard Scarry's books, and this giant book is the best one yet! And have I told you how my sister and I think so much alike that we both got this for the girls for Three Kings' Day? Now we have one and her boys have the other. It's big enough to sit on, lay on, read as a family, perfect for spending long cozy afternoons stretched out on the livingroom rug finding a new detail and talking about all the fun things going on in the pictures.

I loved Scarry's books as a child and still have a few of them, so found this comparision of the 1963 and the 1991 versions fun.

Collection from Nature

Isn't it funny how when you have a new love everything seems to move to support it? Just as we are becoming seriously passionate about our nature display--lovingly curating it, playing with it, photographing it and changing it daily--I come across these inspiring pictures of nature collections in the equally inspiring and wonderful blog In Heywood's Meadow. So now I must post more pictures of our nature collection in all its splendor as of Sunday afternoon. The treasures are growing in number so we had to add a bowl.

The display never stays the same for long. Little hands can't resist touching, piling and rearranging things, new things get found and added, which is precisely my objective. To bring in the beauty and wonder of nature, to appreciate these gifts and incorporate them into our lives, to in ways mimic the eternally changing nature of... well, nature!

I must say that finding the perfect receptacles for the collection has done a great deal to inspire us. I had been searching for months and wanted something organic-looking, in wood or white. Finally, I came across these candle trays at West Elm. I had to get two different ones and love how the light and dark allow us to play with contrasting colors. The slight compartments divide things nicely, but the fact that they are shallow keep our finds visible and prevent us from gathering too much of a good thing. One perfect pine cone is plenty. Then again, one perfect acorn cap is not enough it seems!

Monday, January 19, 2009

What We Do ... 1

Hello! I hope you're enjoying a nice long weekend. Thank you for the sweet comments on What I Do! I hope you like What We Do just as much. Here we go.

We love ... Curling up with books about Winter and snow ... Super thick and nutritious Fage Greek yogurt with honey and berries for breakfast ... Lighting candles as soon as the sun sets. Sabrina and CC take turns blowing out the match ... Adding to and changing the new nature display ... Drinking hot cocoa out of mugs painted by Grandma.

We read ... In the Town all Year Round. A cross between Richard Scarry's word books and Where's Waldo, this German tome is charming and full of details of life in a contemporary European town. Sabrina loves the book and brings it out often saying "Let's talk about this page, Mommy."... Books with faces and babies are CC's favorites and we read 10 Little Babies by Gyo Fujikawa at least a few times a day ... I think together with Goodnight Moon, this new find is the most perfect bedtime book ever. We have fallen in love with It's Time to Sleep My Love for evening reading. Sabrina said it was "sad," though I think she meant it was moving or poignant, so we talked about the difference. CC snuggles closer as soon as she sees this book come out. The pictures by Nancy Tillman are magical and surreal as dreams, and the poetry by Eric Metaxas is truly a lullaby. It ends so: And as you dream inside your sleep, / the fishes crooning in the deep, and / all the songbirds up above / will sleep and dream of you, my love, /of you, the one I love.

We watch ... 20-minute episodes of vintage Aquaman. Sabrina likes Tusky, the trusty walrus mascot and pretends she is him and Patrick is Aquaman.

We listen ... To the classical music radio station a lot lately. I find it calms us all and creates a nice backdrop to reading, cooking, creating, just about anything. But bluegrass music is what we've been dancing to.

We play ... The Orchard, a collaborative game in which everyone wins or loses together. I love the non-competition which feels so right for what is after all a game and family time. Sabrina loves, as I knew she would, the tiny baskets and wooden fruit to collect in them.

We create ... With lovely hand-dyed wool felt. So much softer and more beautifully colored than the brighter stuff found at craft stores ... After much practice and many training sessions Sabrina has learned to whistle and does so all day while doing other things. It's sweet music to all our ears.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What I Do ... 1

Here I go... my first What I Do feature.

I love... Our new nature treasure display at home... Perfectly thin sweaters from Madewell...This house... Rex Ray's book... Good news... This photograph. Sabrina has a thing for porcupines and now I do, too!

I write ... About bedtime and morning routines for grown-ups.

I create ... Crafts for a new section of BabyCenter. I'm producing crafts, not just making them, so I'm designing them, writing out the instuctions, shipping them off to be photographed and getting paid for them. I can't believe my luck! I guess that makes me a professional crafter ... I cooked up a huge pot of Boeuf Bourguignon with beef stock made from scratch by Patrick. It's perfect for dinner on cold days like these.

I read ... The Condition by Jennifer Haigh. I love the desciptions of a family vacation on Cape Cod, it so reminds me of our last summer vacation as well as those of my childhood, that feeling of returning to the same place year after year ... the habit of being, a blog I just discovered and can't get enough of. I love the photostream too ... The Not So Big Life by Sarah Suzanka, in which she talks about simplifying, creating flow, living in the present moment, making time and room for what matters ... The Nie Nie Dialogues. Welcome back, Stephanie!

I watch ... Life on Mars, the British version. I have a big crush on John Simm. He just looks so cute in those 70s leather jackets and tight shirts ... My Kid Could Paint That. I very much liked this documentary about a four-year-old artist. Marla Olmstead is a cutie pie who reminds me of my own little artist Sabrina. And her paintings, whether produced with a little encouragement from Daddy or not, are fabulous!

I listen ... To Kelly Corrigan's reading of her essay about women's friendships and am so moved by her words ... In the car I've got the audio version of The Not So Big Life. It's simple and inspiring in the best of ways, pointing the way I already know I want to follow.

It's All One Life

I've been wanting for some time to incorporate a little more of our life into this blog, something in addition to documenting what we do and enjoy as a family. There is more than what I've been sharing, more to remember and celebrate daily, more that we draw on for inspiration and learning and energy. Much goes into good + happy days, and now two new features will open the window a little wider into what shapes ours.

On Fridays I'll post What I Do, in which you'll get a glimpse of my life beyond children and family. I've gone back and forth between wanting to start a second blog devoted to "grown up" good + happy days or introducing new subjects into this one. I like tidy compartments and enjoy having a specific focus in Good + Happy Day, but in the end, it feels more natural to build on what exists than create something entirely new.

I feed my children afternoon snacks with one hand and pour wine into the meat stew for a dinner party with the other. I read blogs while the girls play at my feet. I light my favorite candle when I read bedtime stories. My writing and professional interests are increasingly focused on family life. And as the girls grow I am able to work and create side by side with them. Letting this blog evolve to cover more of life feels organic and whole and a truer representation of how our days really go.

After all, it's all one life.

It is, and right now it's in great part, and blessedly so, about the wonder and delight of childhood, family life, togetherness, first discovery, learning. Again, so much goodness comes into our family's days in the form of books, materials, places, games and ways to learn and enjoy ourselves. I want to capture all this outside the posts about our activities and I will attempt to do so in a feature posted on Mondays titled What We Do.

I hope you like what it is I do and we do. I hope you always find something here for your days.

The photo is a polaroid by Marta V. It makes me think of all the unexpected, wonderous things that descend upon us daily.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Artist at Work

Sabrina received a blank canvas from my sister as a New Year's gift. "A new year is like a blank canvas, full of possibilities," said the note attached. I helped Sabrina get set up for painting and then left her to focus, but couldn't resist tiptoeing back down to the basement to peek in on her progress. She was so in her zone--humming, talking to herself, selecting colors and brushes--that she never noticed me. It was so inspiring to watch this artist at work.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Musings on the Start of a New Year

Hello! I haven't been linking to my Week of Wonders column for a while, but wanted to remind you that I'm there, on, every week. My two latest posts are about the start of the New Year... maybe you can relate!

In 2009 I'll become the person I once was: after figuring out what kind of mother I want to be, I am now getting my groove back as a whole person.

Mommy I'm bored and other problems with January: we're overcoming our touch of post-holiday blues by shaking up our routines.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Big Scribbly Art

Oh, what to do when you're all out of ideas at the end of the day and it's rainy and both girls are bickering and Daddy is stuck in traffic and it's not dinner time yet but it's too late for a snack? Why, roll paper across the living room floor and make art together, of course. We didn't try too hard as you can see. Just scribbled and stuck stickers onto paper and scribbled some more. It was big. It was scribbly. It was fun.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Three (or Four) Kings

We had a sweet Three King's Day celebration with crown and star decorating, a King's cake and chocolate to dip. All the children were kings of course and received as prizes personalized little photo albums in which to keep images of their smiling faces. It was really hard to find anything as special as the glowing stars my sister found for last year's party, but the albums were also a hit. Children love to look at themselves!

It was a perfect final celebration to end the holiday season.