Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Recent Projects

Julia's ATC Swap Series "Valentines Forever"

Emily's ATC Swap Series "Snowfall"

Danielle's ATC Swap Series "Typeset"

As part of an Imagination Tribe ATC swap, the girls and I made 26 Artist Trading Cards each. We began with a poster board canvas, which we painted and then cut into individual cards. We worked with acrylic paints coated with a clear shellac. Jules focused on mixing her own paint colors; Em focused on different brush strokes; I worked with a texture-technique using plastic wrap. My cards featured two textured layers of paint, a gold-foil alphabet letter, and several alphabet add-ons--stickers, rubs and metal letters. We had a blast creating these and are looking forward to the next mini-trade and a collaborative ABC book trade coming up.

The kids each received a plaster model kit for Christmas this year, which they had fun mixing and painting. Emily got a T-Rex skeleton, which she pieced together like an archaeology dig. Jules got a cast of several different butterflies, and Sam got a NASA kit with a cast of a rocket, sattelite and the space shuttle. Unfortunately, I can't find a picture of Sam's creation. They had fun mixing the plaster, pouring it and painting it with the paints provided.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Chinese New Year

In celebration of Chinese New Year, the kids and I went into Chinatown in D.C. Of course, the beautiful, warm weather we'd been having gave way to real January weather for our trip, but the restaurant was warm. While Chinese food is one of our favorites, this was the first time the kids had been out for dim sum--a great way to sample different Chinese foods! The girls were content with white rice while Sam devoured an entire order of pot stickers by himself. The green onion pancakes and spinach dumplings I had were delicious! The wait staff was very kind, picking rice out of Em's hair and bringing me several vegetarian dishes to try.

After lunch, we headed over to a Chinese grocery and picked up a few things for our own Chinese New Year celebration. The kids each chose their own rice bowl to take home, and I grabbed a 5lb bag of jasmine rice to cook at home. The kids also chose their own mini-statues of Lao Tzu--the lion guardian--that they fell in love with outside the restaurant. The grocery also doubled as a Chinese apothecary, and the man showed us some of the different dried Chinese herbs he was weighing out and packaging.

Dim Sum was definitely the kids' favorite part of the trip, but the metro ride to the Air & Space Museum came in a close second. The museum itself didn't hold the kids' attention in part because we've been there so often, but also because of the lack of hands-on activities. One can only look at planes and rockets so many times. Even the gift shop seemed tired this time around. One of these days, we need to head out to the Annex out near Dulles Airport, which I hear is quite interesting.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Chess Tournaments

The current passion at our home is chess. We've all been playing lots and often have a game going in the background even when we're off doing something else, which we'll pick up, play a few moves, then leave it for a while again. The kids have been learning to play off and on for a while now, and Sam has recently decided to start playing seriously by the rules. As the kids have learned to play, they've alternately played with rules and just played imaginatively, either making up their own rules or playing with the pieces in altogether different ways. We've just always followed their lead. Sam's favorite way to play for a while was with me using the rules of the game and talking out how the different pieces moved while he moved his pieces in any direction, any number of spaces to take my pieces one after the other. He just recently decided that really wasn't a fun way to play anymore once he'd grasped the rules and really wanted to play for real.

Emily got interested in chess a couple years ago, so we got her a computer program called Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster. She played with it off and on, but recently the kids have rediscovered it, and Julia's been playing with it non-stop, valiantly battling King Black. It's cool to watch their critical thinking and problem solving evolve. I've been playing with them either fully or with a handicap if they choose, and they're really getting quite good. It won't be long before they'll be able to beat me pretty consistently, I'm guessing. Even Sam, at age 5, has a really good grasp of the board and can anticipate different attacks and think non-linearly with his knights.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mean Moms

Someone on the Ubasics list posted this blurb that was circulating and being celebrated on a local list of hers. I re-wrote it from my own perspective and wanted to share it here as well...

Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean Mom told me: I loved you enough . . . to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home. I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep. I loved you enough to make you go pay for the bubble gum you had taken and tell the clerk, "I stole this yesterday and want to pay for it." I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes. I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect. I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart. But most of all, I loved you enough . . . to say NO, when I knew you would hate me for it. Those were the most difficult battles of all. I'm glad I won them, because in the end you won, too. And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them.

Just for kicks, I wanted to write this out as it would look for me....

Someday, when my children are older, I will tell them:

I loved you enough to care about where you were going, with whom, and what time you'd be home and to help you get there, have fun, and come home.

I loved you enough to be silent when you needed me to be silent and to be there when you needed to talk, to give you the space to discover for yourself who your true friends were and to help you pick up the pieces when you were hurt.

I loved you enough to help you pay for the bubble gum you wanted and to make things right when they felt wrong.

I loved you enough to stand by you for a lifetime, to be by your side for two hours while we cleaned your room, a job that would have taken me 15 minutes, but the conversation was too precious to lose.

You learned that I wasn't perfect as we shared our lives together.

I loved you enough to let you make choices even when the stakes were high and to help bear your burden whenever I could.

But most of all, I loved you enough to always help you get what you needed, to put our relationship first and to walk in your shoes instead of engaging in battles.

I'm glad you came to me, because in the end, you've helped me grow and become a better person, so I won, too, in this relationship.

And someday, when your children are old enough to understand the principles that guide this legacy of parenting, I hope you tell them how they helped you grow and become a better person.