We took summer down in big happy gulps, living by some unwritten rule that we would just go where the wind took us...a hot and sweaty day? To the beach. In an exploring mood? Grab the bikes and a picnic and go. Boredom setting in? Perfect...pack a blanket and some books and head to the lake. It kind of didn't matter what we were doing, as long as we were together. Summer camps and over-scheduling for the boys was not on the menu these past two months, and all that free time made us all the more prepared to head into this new school year today.
Wee blossoms...the first of the mum flowers always a certain indication that summer is winding down.
My fourth grader excitedly woke ready to take on a new school, a new grade and a new year. Made it all the harder for Julen for whom Kindergarten doesn't start until Wednesday. Phew. Just enough time for me to stitch together his nap blanket for school (I love that they still nap in Kindergarten-I know many schools have given up on this tradition, but the five-year-old children really DO still need it!). We picked out the fabric last week...robots and orange. Julen's two new obsessions.
I finalized all the paperwork I need to do for the start of my new preschool year. I know that most of my parents probably don't care that I use my hand carved stamp and spend time drawing a willow tree on the front of each manual, but it's important and fun for me, so I do it anyway. Postcard writing for tomorrow.
Finally...making me happy today is my silk and glass bead bracelet. A gift from my sister.
It's a steamy one here in Minneapolis this week...we are on day three of temperatures in the upper 90's with still more to come...hope it's cooler where you are!
To further avoid that dreaded long list, I decided to go "up North" to spend some time at my happy place.
We first stopped at my cousins cabin for a much needed reconnect with family at a reunion that had been planned for months. I was so happy to see all these wonderful people and catch up, that I did not take one photo. There are many, many cousins, and a lot of them have grandchildren so it was a bustling and busy and lovely, lovely time. My boys were in heaven!
From there to the cabin, my two plus my nephew and a friend. Four days of play for these sweet boys who never grew tired of one another. The night sounds are so crazy different from the city...just the constant call of the loons through the night and the crickets and the plunking of the acorns as they hit the roof/picnic table/ground.
I feel I'm finally ready. Rejuvenated. It's time to get back to work.
This has been the summer of Star Wars in our home. Both boys have become completely enthralled with the story...Star Wars books have been the number one checked out books from the library these past three months. Any new Legos they have wanted have been Star Wars Legos. And most important to them are their treasured Tom Angleberger books. ART2-D-2's Guide to Folding and Doodling book is the favorite, closely followed by The Secret of the Fortune Wookie.
Tom Angleberger's blog is filled with all sorts of tempting ideas for my nine-year-old to scout out...like these instructions for origami Darth Vader. Once the boys got started folding...it was...look out! Folded creations started multiplying in my house faster than dirty socks and don't even get me started on how frustrating it was that they kept emptying the printer of all it's paper!
They have had so much fun though, and I do love that the instructions are easy enough even for my five-year-old to fold without my supervision. They have had hours of fun and then play with all of their creations. In ART2-D2's guide pictured above, there were even instructions on how to make your own origami yoda tshirt...my boys were relentless and bugged me until they finally got to make them (Tom suggests weighing the pattern down using pennies...guess he hasn't heard of freezer paper stencils yet!) Anyway, as you can see they turned out so cute and have been the "uniform" of the summer.
While in Wisconsin we visited our friends' new place where they are raising goats, chickens, two young cows and bees. I've known Amanda since she was a young girl and she has always impressed and fascinated me with the way she has chosen to live her life. She wants her footprint on this planet to be small and works very hard to live organically and off the land, producing little waste as she goes.
Amanda is also very generous and shares with us a taste of everything she makes. We ate her honey all through the winter, as well as her jams and canned tomatoes and last week she sent us home with freshly made goat yogurt and her hand crafted goat cheese. Absolutely the best of both I have ever tasted. I've been loving my breakfasts of her goat cheese spread on toast with either the raspberries Amanda grows or the handmade peach/brandy sauce she made. She is truly a gifted and wonderful young woman and is always, always an inspiration to me.
It's Father's Day today. It's impossible not to think about my dad, now gone more than 18 years. It's hard to believe it's been that long. For anyone who has never lost a parent, it's an odd feeling how the memory of them remains fresh, while the years quickly slip away without them.
Dad never got to meet my boys. I like to think about how much he would have loved them. My dad was good with kids. I remember how children always gravitated to him, his good nature and sense of humor drew my cousins and the neighborhood kids to him. He was truly a very good man.
Sometimes I fear I talk too much to my boys about "Angel Grandpa". I think...is it fair for them to hear so many stories? is it meaningful? do they really care at all about this man they will never know?
Of course, my two sweet boys give me the very answer to those questions. About two weeks ago, this is the conversation from the backseat of the car:
5 year-old: Mom...does Angel Grandpa know us?
9 year-old: Of course he does because he lives inside us. We know all about him and he knows all about us.
5 year-old: Good. Because I like to tell him secrets sometimes.
9 year-old: He is also our Guardian Angel. I can feel how much he loves us, can't you?
5 year-old: Yes. He tells me he loves me all the time.
The above photo is a favorite of mine. I took a picture of it as it is in my baby book, our ages written to the side of the photo in my mom's writing. I always loved holding my babies face down on my chest while I rested too. Just see here.
This time of year always send me reeling. Busy, busy, busy. So many end-of-school year activities... May Festival at the preschool, Elementary school picnic and carnival, a meet to mark the end of gymnastics (until September), Field Day. Emotions run high, mostly mine. One baby leaving preschool, the other moving to middle school. Transitioning from one somewhat rigid rhythm to a lighter one takes so much work!
This week we officially began summer vacation, marked by a big friend get-together breakfast that lasted until lunch. I started the first of four summer camps, soccer season (for BOTH this year!) is upon us and today we continued our (now fifth year) tradition of Beach Friday. So far the weather has not been cooperating...it has been the coolest and rainiest start to summer that I can remember. While the boys shivered on the beach (it was a mere 61 degrees!) I chuckled at the craziness of it all and watched as a woman walked by in her gloves and zipped tight jacket (she confessed she is visiting from Florida).
I really want summer to slow down this year, not be as over-committed to kids activities as in the past. Leave time for spontaneous trips to the cabin, bike rides and visits with friends. Our book lists are long and Julen is showing interest in learning to read himself. I'm happy to see my nine-year-old (and his dear friend) have declared this summer as the Year of the Hardy Boys! (I always wondered where boys interests go after Beast Quest, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Percy Jackson). I couldn't be more thrilled he finds these stories published in 1927 "quite fascinating".
Trying to get back on track. Once I lose my posting rhythm, it inevitably happens. Also, I've just been so crazy-busy...like everyone, right? Well, here's what's been going on.
One of my beautiful boys had a birthday. Nine. So hard to believe. All he wanted were highlights(?)!!!.
My other beautiful boy has graduated out of my preschool. Gulp. I love that he can just go with it..."I'm both happy and sad Mama. Happy to be grown up and go to Kindergarten, but sad that I will miss going to Willow House with you everyday." He has no idea how this tears at my heart.
Mid-May I went to Europe for a work trip. I love this jaunt back into my previous life when I traveled for work. I get to spend precious time with some really great people who I have worked with for many years. It was had saying good-bye this time...I do miss them so.
I have a bit of a backlog of preschool posts that I will catch up on this week. All of our end-of-year projects and birthday celebrations that I've yet to share here.
For now I just want to put a little plug in for some of the camps we are offering at our preschool this summer starting next Monday. I will be teaching all the camps in June which are...
My partner will be teaching Music, Toy Making, Cooking and Fairy Tale Camps in the month of July. If you happen to live in the Twin Cities and have preschool age children I welcome you to join us for these one week creative camps. For more information check out our website here.
These finally came off the sticks last week. Julen has been waiting since his birthday for this gift. I just found this project incredibly hard to work on. (Round and round and round and round). As one friend said, it's hard to make two of anything and I have to agree. The first one went pretty quickly, but the second? Weeks. In fact I was getting a little worried that the first one would wear out before I finished both as Julen was so excited about the one, he started using it immediately.
Julen picked out the yarn colors and then colored in the sketch of the legwarmers I drew to give me an idea of what he wanted. He loved that he designed these on his own.
The pattern came from Ursula in the comments section of this post (thanks Ursula!!). I had reached out looking for a legwarmer pattern and she answered my call...don't you just love this crafty blog world?
I used #4 DPNs and cast on 50 stitches. Despite my challenges of finishing this one, I sure love how they turned out.
Julen loves how they turned out too...he wears them all.the.time. He often wears them on his arms too, you know, when he's playing ninja warrior (or something).
Now that I'm free to pick up a new project, I'm not sure where to go. I keep thinking blanket. Maybe this one? or this? Any suggestions out there? I'd love to hear about them. xx
I have been on pins and needles since saying good-bye to papa and my eight-year-old...waiting to hear if their flight to Spain went well. I don't know what it is about this trip that has made me feel like my stomach is in my throat...my sweet boy, my first born having this first great adventure that I am not a part of. But I am thrilled for him, and of course for papa who gets to finally introduce his boy to all his friends, show him around his old neighborhood, eat jamón, turrón and panellets not made at home, speak spanish and learn more Catalan.
So today after school when I found these photos in my email, my heart ached with joy.