Monday, July 22, 2013

Farewell, for now.

Woody's 7, and he doesn't want to be documented on the blog anymore. He doesn't like that anybody, anywhere can see what we do with our days. At first, I worried that somehow I had let slip through an overarching fear that the world was a scary place full of bad people.

Then I remembered it's not really about me.

We have been watching G.I. Joe Renegades on Netflix. Tracking and spying technology feature heavily in that show where the Joes are always on the run from seen and unseen Cobra forces. That might be playing a part. Other parents have told me that this was the age that their kids began to think about real-world dangers and risks, and experimented with setting limits for themselves and their families. (One mom said that for her son, it was a gripping worry about natural disasters. I remember that for my younger sister, it was "America's Most Wanted" criminals who were last seen in our geographic region.) So, it might be developmental.

Regardless, I'm going to respect it. So, this blog, which is all about what we do during our days, will go into dormancy. Last time I took a break from blogging, I wrote lots of poetry. This time, who knows? Thanks for reading for this past year.  If we start up again some time in the future, I'll come back and add a link.

In peace,


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

It's hard to be away from such a keen daddy on Father's Day, but we Skyped first thing this morning to wish him well and tell him where we'd hidden his present, this Bill Murray t-shirt.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Play and curiosity around the house

When we come back to Florida, it's always tempting to fill the days with exploration, trips, adventures, and new experiences. That can be a lot of fun, and this blog is full of pictures and stories from such travels--Central Florida has them aplenty. But it's also fun to simply be at home here, to play with the toys my younger sister and I, and  my now 16-year-old nephew, played with, to go swimming and watch Spongebob and pet animals and go in the front yard to look at bugs. 

Daddy Honey talks about being at his grandparents' home, which the 34 grandkids call "1911" after the address. What he remembers is not using it as a base for sightseeing, but rather, as a special, beloved, quirky, comfortable, life-filled place to be. It was the time he spent there thinking, playing, getting to know and feeling loved by his grandparents, climbing trees with cousins, eating popcorn and drinking Dr. Pepper, and learning by experience where he came from that made 1911 so wonderful to him, and the others. That's a sustaining memory. It's maybe odd to think that we have relationships with places, but of course we do. And our relaionships with some places, especially homes, are every bit as worthy of cultivation as those with any park, art museum, science center, or other area attraction.

1980's and 1990's Legos.

Pet sitting my sister's Chihuahua and testing the limits of inter-species tolerance. This dog is rather cat-like, and our rabbit is rather dog-like, so the sum of their personalities was more significant than their genetic predisposition to a predator-prey relationship.

The Stink Lily has emerged! Latin name, no surprise: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius. Other pseudonyms are Corpse Flower and Carrion Flower. Appeared one day out of the blue about ten years ago, and comes up almost every year, but hasn't ever bloomed its notorious bloom.

2 1/2 hours of our evening, constructing the Lego Harry Potter castle. The other side, which folds out, shows a very intricate inside.This was possible because Fox the whole while pretended to run a junkyard and would fetch us the pieces we needed from his pile.

Fox at the pincushion again. Best toy in the house.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Medieval Times

...was AMAZING.

Woody was ecstatic in the most literal sense of the word--consumed by a frenzy of delight--for nearly the whole show. Knights, steeds, flags, swords, lances, maces, morning stars, shields, and axes--in action--feet from us. (If you made a soup of my boys' all-time favorite things to play, the main ingredients would be in that last sentence.) Also, a medieval village of houses, workshops, and displays, including devices of torture that, understandably, spooked Fox a little bit.

But the part Woody liked best was the cheering for the knight in whose color section we sat, and the corresponding booing of the knight on the opposite side. He wanted our whole table to be pumped up, and would coach us on things to say and ways to make big noise. His uncles, both of whom have two daughters each who tend to be more reserved in public, got a big kick out of Woody's overwhelming display of happy dudeness.

With a discount coupon that my niece got at school last week (a perk of living in the world's most popular tourist destination), it was a hundred dollars total for the three tickets, and worth every bloomin' penny.

So giddy he couldn't sit still--a blur of joy and excitement for an hour and a half.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Looking backwards for inspiration

My niece travels to Atlanta to spend the summer with her dad tomorrow. We made the most of our ten days together, but her light shines brightly and she'll be deeply missed. She sat at the computer and searched back a few months on this blog looking for something that looked like fun, landing on the shadow box puppet theater the boys and I made back in February.

 So, this is what we made today.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Valentine, Marionettes, Fairy Journals, and a Passing

The boys and I made stained-glass heart valentines to send around to loved ones this past February. My mom has hers still stuck to her kitchen window, and today I saw that my sister Kate has her displayed in her bathroom. We sent one to Grandaddy in the hospital a month before he passed away. I wanted to ask someone who visited him in if it was there, but the question didn't seem quite right. But I'd like to think that he got it, and knew we were thinking of him with love.

The kids and I caught a mid-day performance of the Wizard of Oz at the marionette puppet theater. It was a little disappointing; all the sound was pre-recorded, and they were short one puppeteer, making for some awkward transitions, especially when the script called for more than three puppets on the stage at once. The kids noticed, and afterward described the show as "OK." I wish I would have been a bit more fair-minded about it. I could have offered some possible explanations for the lackluster parts and focused on the aspects that were good. As it was, I joined them in an "Eh" review. 

The Spiderwick fairy field guide is turning out to be way fun. My niece and I especially are having a great time with it. Today, we made proper notebooks in which to record our observations of fantastical creatures in the (usually) Invisible World. 

My friend Sharon showed me several years ago how to make a simple book using a running stitch through cover and paper as a binding, so we applied it here with slightly different materials. Nana has LOTS of cool stuff with which to be creative. We found a selection of awls, a sizable stash of leather scraps, and enough sewing supplies to quilt, cover, and clothe a small village. 

We were both very pleased with the results. Aila's  is the dark teal-covered book in the front. Her first entry was, "Fairies love bread. They eat it almost every time, if they are real, that is."

And, today, Daddy Honey brought our 13-year-old Doberman in to be put down. I don't have much more to say about that right now, though in the next few weeks I may.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Clear water, rave toys, fairies, snails, and buddy reading

A cousin outing to Rock Springs at Kelly Park, Orange County, Fla.

Cousin Canyon is pretty heavy into rave culture and new and retro House music. When we dropped him back off at home after the springs, he brought out some of his dance club stuff to show the kids. Two favorites were his LED dance gloves and his diffraction glasses, pictured here. They break all light into rainbows.

Snowmen from a Nana-special boardgame became zombies seeking to steal each other's body parts. Between these and Nana's pincushions, Fox's entertainment needs are fully met 90% of the time.

Having finished and loved the first book in the Spiderwick Series (also our first audio book), I ordered from Amazon a used copy of Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, the one referred to in the story itself. It was very, very popular with Woody and Aila. We spent the rest of the afternoon attempting to lure Brownies out from hiding and protect ourselves from pixie mischief. The bag above is filled with salt and tied with red string. (If you read the Field Guide, you'll know why.) Below, the kids are sitting in Nana's sewing room, the likeliest place for a fairy to hide, they thought. A doozy of an afternoon thunderstorm added significantly to the mood, and the wee cup of milk was frequently scrutinized for signs of imbibing. Belief and reason were brought up a few times, and left in indecision for another day.

Snails outside after the rain.

The ends of days don't get any better than this--a new book, read by a beloved one, after a bath, supper, and brownie dessert.

Chasing babies

First cousins are ample in the Honey boys' family, grown-up, older, same aged, younger, and baby. I always remember all their names and the families they go to, but I sometimes forget their ages. Here's my best guess:

Katherine -- 22
Meagan -- 20
Maddie -- 16
Jordan -- 19
Caleb -- 17
Canyon -- 15
Patrick -- 16
Hannah -- 16
Lizzie -- 14
Margaret -- 13
David -- 11
Karol -- 9
Aila -- 8
Isabel -- 7
Nayfi -- 5
Michael -- 3
Ava -- 3
Gilbert -- 1 1/2
Emma -- 1 1/2
Junia -- 10 months

Happy parts of yesterday were spent chasing that last little one around the house:

The baby, Juni, and my niece Aila are sisters. Aila remembers when Fox was a baby. She remembers some of the diapers that her sister now wears when they were Fox's. Fox is learning to give the baby some space to crawl and reach and grab and scoot. (He keeps wanting to set up barriers for her--of toys, pillows, baskets, etc.) And, he thinks she is the cutest baby ever and tells me so every ten minutes when he's around her. Woody likes how she squeezes her eyes shut and shows her teeth when she smiles, and then looks up to make sure you saw her and are smiling back at her. We all think it's funny how she sometimes loses her balance and tips backwards, but how she has a kind of technique for falling that involves rolling on her bum and back, then righting herself once the topple is complete. 

It's no small thing to be comfortable, at ease, and delighted around babies.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Florida or bust!

We made a spontaneous decision to come down to Florida a bit ahead of schedule, and impulsively I decided to drive the whole way in one 17-hour go. I'm still not caught up on my sleep, but the boys have seen all of their cousins at least once, and gotten lots of good Nana's-house fun in for the past four days.

 Fox hasn't yet braved the pool. Every year, it seems as if he begins the swimming season a little more timid than where we left off the fall before. But we have time for him to find his happy place again. Here, he is practicing milking a cow using a pool-water saturated basketball hoop as an udder as Woody and Aila play Marco Polo behind him. And you thought I was joking about this kid being ready to buy the farm...

My Whirly Girl niece is growing up. They're all growing up. I consider myself pretty darn good at slowing down and really living in the moments, and yet, I'm still surprised and sometimes saddened at how fast they pass.

Bowling with Imaginext and Rescue Rangers. Nana's playroom is a special space with remnants of five different childhoods--her own, my older sister's, mine, my younger sister's, and my 16-year-old
nephew 's.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Kid Space at the Art Musuem

We started this morning at AutoZone getting a bad battery replaced. I thought that was going to be a lot worse than it was, but the boys pretty well entertained themselves playing pirates with the long funnels and talking to the technicians about our car. And with a job like that out of the way by 10 a.m., it felt like the day was our oyster!

So we went to Crystal Bridges. Woody kvetched a little bit. He wanted to know why we would go again if we just went. (We last went in November, and before that, June, but we have probably been there six times in 18 months, a frequency which, to a kid, may earn the distinction of "all the time.") We talked a little bit about the changing nature of exhibits, how different an experience of a museum can be from one time to the next, and how this particular art museum is one of the really cool things about Northwest Arkansas that I want us to take advantage of while we're here. Plus, a friend had just talked up a Norman Rockwell exhibit that I was excited to see.

Unfortunately, we missed Rockwell by three days, but since that was the only want-to on my personal agenda, that meant that our visit was wide open for whatever fun we could find. Boy, howdy, did we! We did two things: the art walk trail through the sculpture garden and to Compton Gardens, then the Art Studio, which is Crystal Bridges' educational/child-focused space. And we spent four fantastic hours:

Starting at the trail head, the navigator gets oriented. See what I mean about not being a little boy anymore? Increasingly, incidents and pictures of big kid things happening around here.


A thousand thanks to the Great Spirit that these two started their journey together.

Fearless forager beneath his totem tree, a mulberry.

Fox and the bears at Compton Gardens. This is his favorite of all the sculptures.

A new acquisition! A Keith Haring sculpture, "Two-Headed Figure," made in 1986.

The puppeteers at work. They attempted to rope two other families into their play, but were only marginally successful with one little 5-year-old boy.

Potholder weaving as spiritual practice. Just wait and see if I don't try this out at church...

Unexpected, but immediately appealing: the light table.

My mom bought gears like this for my sister and I when we were little. The set was one of many cool Discovery Toys that she strew about our house. She remains an expert on "cool toys." She thinks I am not serious when I say I'm excited for her to retire and move in with my family. She is reading this and being reminded that I am serious, and whenever she's ready, we'll pitch a little Airstream in  the backyard just for her, with a side-car for her fabric collection.

An audio file with accompanying text talked the listener through a set of descriptive statements about a work of art in the museum's permanent collection. The listener sits with paper and pencil and quickly attempts to draw the scene they are hearing about. Woody was pleased with how well he approximated the items and their placement.

This wall was for visitors to display the art they made in the Art Studio. The chalice is my contribution--what can I say? They make good iconographs! In the tradition of evangelicals, I like leaving them places I've been. I imagine them being viewed by others with an openness of heart and a happy curiosity, which is, in its own way, a blessing of a mindset to carry into one's next encounters and experiences...

Alexander Calder. This one's just called "Mobile," like so many others of his, but I think of them as blackbirds.

The Art Studio had a small but high-quality library on nice, low shelving. One of the books we enjoyed a great deal was called Imagine, and this picture of the witch was my favorite. 

On the way home, I got a little panicky and upset about gas. I forgot we were almost out, and I forgot to fill up before getting on the highway, then we pulled off at one exit with one gas station charging .45 more per gallon that the going price, then we pulled off at the next exit which was one of those sprawling upscale retail hells with dozens of big box stores and gussied-up strip malls and chain restaurants but NOTHING else around. No gas stations. Woody picked up on my angst and started parroting it, decrying price gouging and asinine (or complete lack of) urban planning. That woke me up. I dialed it back, tried to reframe our experience, found a gas station, bought a pack of M&M's, and initiated fun car games for our 15 miles drive home in standstill traffic. We made up a game together called Categories that I'll tell about another time. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Playing is learning is playing

Categorizing cookie cutters

Celebrating a win and the last game of the season

Watching newly hatched praying mantises travel from their hidden ootheca up the side of the porch to places beyond

The view from my kitchen window after lunch.