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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Kids

All told, we have some pretty happy kids. It's truly a blessing.

BB with her Raggedy dolls (one of which was mine when I was a kid!)
She loves these so much!

Art projects almost always make the kids happy. (And Mama too, when there's not too much mess involved!) Earlier this week, we had a great time doing collage. BB especially enjoys collage projects right now.


Deciding where to glue is a serious business for BJ!

Another surefire way to make the kids happy -- computer printouts!

Most of the time, when they ask for a printout, they are after a coloring page. Both the kids will ask to Google a phrase or a word and see what comes up. "Butterfly coloring page" (BB's frequent request) I'm quite comfortable with. Other good ones from her: unicorns and princesses. Google images can surprise you, though, so a little caution is in order. (The pic above shows her delight with the result of a Google image search for unicorns and princesses. Yes, it is a Barbie princess with a unicorn horn in the middle of her forehead. Yes, I found this a little disturbing.)

More often, it's BJ's requests that make me nervous. Start searching through Google images for phrases like "real human intestine" with a five year old looking over my shoulder? I don't think so!

But then he gets down to basics, and the result is worth it. He was thoroughly enchanted with his printout of the periodic table. Carried it everywhere the day he printed it out, showing it to random people.
Yep, that's one happy kid!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Worth Sharing

Reflections on Motherhood (Warning -- it got me all teary!)



(And I do miss you, Mom... and you too, Dad.)

Swim Class

One of the many benefits of our recent move -- we are now very close to the community pool and were able to sign up both the kids with a fantastic swim teacher.

C is a student at the university, and she's really great with the kids. We have our last lesson of the season next weekend, so on Sunday I was sure to grab some pics and video of the kids in the pool. They aren't swimming independently yet, but they've sure come a long way!

BJ doing "bobs" and loving it:
I remember when he protested even the idea of going underwater. No longer!


video

The pool is too deep for the kids to stand up, but the swim teachers have set up a nifty platform that they can stand on. Both BB and BJ think this thing is super cool.
Floating...

Talk about a simple and elegant solution -- a pool noodle knotted around the waist makes an excellent flotation device! (Heavily supervised, of course.)



video

BB is still more hesitant about the water than BJ. But then she'll go and be all brave and surprise us -- swimming down the lane in the video above, C asks, "Do you want to hold my hand?"BJ wants to, but BB says, "No!"

Just last week, he discovered the fun of diving sticks and was brave enough to swim down for one without holding C's hand. This is a Big Deal for him! And he was talking about it all week long. BB wanted nothing to do with the dive sticks, but she enjoys jumping into the water now, which is a Big Deal for her!





video
We're very proud of both of them. We only wish we'd started the lessons sooner!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Feature -- Scottish Lily Jewelry

This week's featured Etsy artist is Ros of Scottish Lily Jewelry. Her wire work is simply lovely! I especially like these "Cobblestone earrings" in earth tones. Perfect for fall!

SF Etsy members are in for a treat next month, because Ros has graciously arranged to lead a craft night at Knit One One, teaching folks how to make a wire wrapped ring! Isn't her work gorgeous?
Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?


I started out making wire kippot with bugle beads and Swarovski crystals when we moved out to California a couple of years ago. One of my friends (who is a rabbi at the temple that my hubby and I belong to) showed me a wire kippah that she was wearing. I loved it so much that I started experimenting on how to do a similar one for myself. Of course it turned out completely different, but I still liked the look.


From their I took a class on jewelry making basics, but couldn't finish it as I was put on bed rest while I was pregnant with my son. It was enough to get me started making cluster earrings and necklaces. I wanted to take my craft further, so I began buying very thick wire and hammering out until it was flat. I then added glass beads to the middle and came up with a new design to add to my earrings and necklaces! My wire wrapped rings and stud earrings are my latest creation. I end up with a one of a kind piece each and every time!


I needed to make some small earrings so that my son (then 7 months) wouldn't be able to pull on them! I am so pleased that my rings are getting such a good response at shows :)

2. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?


I belong to the Busy Moms Team (they helped me with a lot of mommy stuff when Soren was a newborn and when he was teething!!) and of course the wonderful SF Etsy Team :D

3. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

I suppose one interesting thing about me is that I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland (my family moved to the States when I was 6).

Another interesting thing is that I love to tap dance! I was quite active when I was a teenager and just recently got back into it a couple of years ago. It's lots of fun and a great workout, too!!

4. What inspires your creations?

I really am inspired by the colors of nature. My newest kippah is the called Vineyard. It is a combination of light blue and white Swarovski crystals for the sky and olive and grape colored crystals for the vineyard.

I find absolutely amazing lamp work glass beads from other Etsians and in local bead stores for my hammered earrings.

5. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

I would love to finish the jewelry class that I took when I first started making jewelry. It would be great to learn how to solder things together and try my hand at metal clay. It might be kinda fun to learn how to make my own lamp work glass beads, too :D

6. Tell us about your first sale ever?

My first sale on Etsy was actually just a couple of weeks ago. Every one hundred facebook fans I hold a giveaway for a custom ring. One of my fans saw the last giveaway and asked for one with her birthstones in it... blue topaz and aquamarine are such lovely stones :D

7. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

http://www.facebook.com/ScottishLilyJewelry
http://scottishlilyjewelry.blogspot.com/

http://www.scottishlilyjewelry.com


8. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your shop or your work?

I absolutely love what I do! It has been great staying home with my son and watching him become this amazing little boy. Joining the SF Etsy Team has been such a wonderful experience and I have really learned a lot from all of the wonderful people who are a part of it :D

I also do jewelry-making parties where you can learn how to make your own jewelry pieces (great for girls night out or for kid's parties!!)




Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Flower Girl

BB has been making big strides in her literacy skills. At our last trip to the library, we borrowed Lily's Big Day and she now has it committed to memory. I believe that this is the first longer book that she has memorized!

It's interesting to note that her interest in the book, and her memorization of it, happened prior to the big news this week that she is going to be a flower girl in our friend L's wedding. Nice synchronicity!

Mama's Magic readers will recall that we are longtime fans of Kevin Henkes, so it's especially fun to have this book be an important stepping stone on her path towards being able to read. BB is very proud of herself and tonight at bedtime, she wanted to read the book to me. And did a pretty good job of it until she got tired about halfway through and wanted me to finish. So neat to see her so excited about reading.

The fact that Auntie L brought over BB's pretty flower girl dress last night for her to try on certainly doesn't hurt. It will be interesting to see if she's more of a Lily or a Ginger when it comes time to walk down the aisle....

Financial Advice from a Five-Year-Old

Bad ways to get money, according to BJ: Stealing.

Good ways to get money: Allowance. And finding it in the street.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Earring Party!

Last night, I had a lot of fun participating in an Earring Party at Eni Thing, a local handcraft boutique. Got to meet some other local artisans and show off some of Mama's Magic!

To prepare for the show, I'd been having a lot of fun with wire and some new designs. My friend M bought two of my new pearl and wire creations. (Thanks, M! I really appreciate your coming out and showing your support!)


The lower ones were put on their card rather hastily in order to package them up for her -- which is why they are a little crooked. I was just happy to have time to snag a pic before I sent them home with M!

It was definitely a different experience focusing just on my earrings. Table felt a little empty without my other items! But I loved the idea of an Earring Party!


I'm calling my other new design Decadent Dangles. I created these just in time for this show, and while I didn't sell any, I got lots of great feedback on them.
I used all sterling silver beads and wire, handmade many of the ear wires, and incorporated lots and lots of semi-precious stones and genuine freshwater pearls. They really do feel decadent!
Red Jasper, agate, amber, citrine and freshwater pearl.

This middle pair below (with the blue pearls) is my favorite and I'm really tempted to keep them for myself! They have hematite, amethyst, rainbow fluorite, and genuine freshwater pearls
The ones on the left have lots of garnets, rose quartz, and freshwater pearls. The ones on the right have amethyst, rainbow fluorite, and freshwater pearls. Look for these in my Etsy shop very soon! (As soon as I can get pics taken!)

They're Baaaaack!

After a nice, long summer's break, the students are moving back on campus today. It's gonna be a busy, busy weekend! Already the parking lot is full of parents and kids (who are truly young adults, yet they still seem kids to me) and All Their Stuff.

My two kids decided, with S's help, that it would be fun to decorate the white board in our building with a Welcome Back sign. S was kind enough to take a picture of it for me, since they made it while I was cooking dinner.

S drew the butterfly for BB to color in. She was all about the smiley faces. Because a welcome back sign should be happy!


BJ left them a very cryptic secret message. He wouldn't even tell us what it said -- because it's secret!

It's been nice to have the quiet campus, but I have to say I'm looking forward to the students coming back. The mostly empty building has been a little eerie at times. And it will be great to have so many babysitters available again -- date nights, here we come!

Best Friends

On Wednesday, BB's best friend C came over for a play date. We'd originally scheduled a park play date, but on Wednesday morning C's little brother O had a high fever, so that didn't work out after all. Time for Plan B!

A dropped off C at our place and C hung out with us for the morning while A and O went to the doctor. (Turned out it was just a bad virus, poor boo, and -- knock wood -- not too contagious, since neither C nor any of us seem to have caught it.) The girls had a fantastic time playing together. They dressed up as princesses and ran around the house saying, "Good afternoon!" to each other in their most elegant princess voices.


The girls informed me that C was Cinderella and BB was Sleeping Beauty, because C was wearing blue and BB was wearing pink.
The girls also enjoyed doing some puzzles together (princess puzzles, naturally) and it was pretty cute to see them trying to manipulate the pieces while wearing their dress up gloves. The gloves were a key part of the outfits, so they really didn't want to take them off. Good fine motor skill practice, right?
I was sad not to get to spend some time with A, whom I consider to be one of my best friends, but hopefully we'll get a mommy playdate soon.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

48 Laps!

BJ's school had a Walk-A-Thon this week, getting sponsors to earn some money for extra programs at the school. Thanks to Nana J and Giki and Pop-Pop for sponsoring him! It meant a lot to him. (One of the many things I like about this school is the fact that they do NOT push the kids into a lot of fundraising. No door-to-door stuff. Whew.) Each kid was given a goal of raising $100, which seemed reasonable to me. I'm sure we'll get more sponsors in years to come, but this time around we were perfectly happy to have him ask those people he wanted to ask and then make up the rest ourselves.

I was amazed to learn that my kid walked 48 laps! I'm told that each lap was 2/10ths of a mile -- so he walked nearly 10 miles!!!

I now understand the advice we were given that it might be more advisable to sponsor a flat amount than to sponsor per lap. Word on the street is that some kids did 100 laps and more! (50 laps was the max for the kindergarteners -- but even so!) It would be quite a surprise to promise a kid a dollar a lap and discover you owed them $100!

In other kindergarten news, BJ continues to really enjoy school. He's making lots and lots of friends, and there seems to be only one child with whom he is having any sort of trouble. C and he get along fine sometimes, but at other times they fight and tussle. But there's learning to be had in the trouble, as well -- right?

We also continue to be very impressed with the community at the school. The fact that parents are in the classroom every week really makes a difference, in so many ways. Everybody is "in it together" and really committed to helping the kids learn and have a positive experience at school. Both S and I are having a lot of fun during our mornings in the classroom, and BJ clearly likes having us there to participate.

BJ especially adores his teacher, A. We love her too!
Special thanks to the class photographer, L, for these pics.

Art is an important part of the curriculum. Here BJ is decorating a mask with his friends E and C (not the same C with whom he's having some difficulties).

The kids spend a lot of time outside, as well -- a benefit of the California climate for sure! Plus good planning on the part of a teacher whose classroom has suddenly had to go from containing 20 kids last year to 30 kids this year. Works better if you can spend some of the time outdoors! The parent, S, who was supervising this bubble activity informed us that BJ was having a great time blowing bubbles and trying to figure out the direction of the wind.
S reported it thus: BJ blows and then says, "Now I think it is blowing in an easterly direction." Blows again, nods, and announces, "Now it is in a southwesterly direction." Yep, that's our kid.

Music is a highlight of the week, when they go to see B and sing songs.


L was kind enough to share some videos of the kids "Singing with B" and obviously having a great time. The pic above of BJ stretching is from one of those songs. The music program is one of the programs funded in part by the Walk-A-Thon, so it's nice to see how much the kids enjoy it.

More evidence that school is making an impression: BJ has now started playing school at home. This is a new development. Earlier this week, he lined up a bunch of stuffed animals on the floor and opened the New Toby School, where he was the substitute teacher. (No word on who the regular teacher might have been -- appropriately enough, I was the parent helper.)
It's such fun and such a relief to have BJ's school going so well. Knock wood that this continues!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunny Sunday

We had a nice, relaxed weekend, enjoying the sunshine and some good family time. On Saturday, we went to a birthday party for one of BJ's classmates. It was at Baylands Park, which I recognized when we arrived as a park where my dear friend M took me for some hiking and wildlife watching -- in those PK (pre-kid) days, so long ago! Was fun to revisit it with kids in tow.

On Sunday, we enjoyed hanging out in the little "yard" next to our patio. The students will be moving in this coming weekend, so we are trying to enjoy the all-but-vacant campus while we can! S and I sat in the shade and watched the kids ride their bikes around (and around, and around) "the loop."


Then BB got a notion and came over to where S and I were sitting.
"Mom, will you take off my helmet?" Because obviously I am up to something... just look at that look on my face!

And this is what she was planning:
Musical hats!
And then a photo shoot as the girl, obviously aware of how adorable she is, works it for all it's worth.

Then, as is usually the case, BJ didn't want to be left out of the fun:

Hat-napper!

And apparently he didn't want Mom to be left out of the fun, either...

Happily, BB was amused by it all instead of indignant that her brother had stolen her fashion prop.

All in all, a nice sunny Sunday. It's getting nippy, so I'm not sure how many more of those we'll have this season. Felt really good to capture some of it with the camera, and even better to make the time as a family to enjoy it.