Spring Video, How Does Life Live?

In celebration of Spring, I’m adding a new post every day this week and came across something extraordinary to share. It’s a 12-minute video called How Does Life Live? by Kelly O’BrienIt’s just beautiful!

Kelly filmed her daughters playing while her 3 year-old Willow asks questions about life. O’Brien says, “Kids are endlessly curious and ask about how life works, the ineffable mystery of it, all the time. Their questions reflect that time between innocence and experience as they try to figure out who they are in relation to the world around them.” My favorite question Willow asks is, “Do blue butterflies eat part of the sky?”

It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

If you watch How Does Life Live?, I’d love to know what your favorite question was.

Happy new beginnings, hon.

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Spring’s Secret Garden

Monarch feeding on a Butterfly Bush.

The Secret Garden was one of the classics I read to my children. We spent many hours in the car driving to Maryland and Long Island to visit family (hon, trust me, we know every rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike), and made the time pass quickly by learning language, discovering stories, discussing characters and predicting plots. I only found out later that “brain imaging has suggested that hearing stories evokes visual images in children’s brains, and more strongly if those children are accustomed to being read to.” (The Merits of Reading Real Books to Your Children  by Perri Klass, M.D.,The New York Times)

Wait! What? Something I did was good for my kids? Woohoo! Hopefully, that balances out the other stuff that might not have been, ummm, as advantageous.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Memorial Day 2015

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Memorial Day 2015

This is a post from 2013 with a few additions.

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One of the 9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools in Manhattan.

One of the 9/11 Memorial Reflecting Pools in Manhattan. 

In 2005, my brother took my almost twelve-year old son to Washington D.C.  I came across these photos of their day together.  My son is in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for the United Stated Army while he studies at a university.

the Capital

United States Capitol

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue

military helicopter

military helicopter

My son with proud dad and sister.

Proud dad and sister at an Army function.

Me and my son.

2015:  Me and my son.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dahlia.

Dahlia.

Happy Mother’s Day–dedicated to my mom.

This poem was tacked to the bulletin board in our kitchen.

No Child of Mine Poem

My dad and mom with the triplets.

My dad and mom with the triplets.

Me, my mom and my son.

Me, my mom and my son.

Grandma and granddaughter (my Plus One), matching.

Grandma and granddaughter (my Plus One), matching.

Butterflies on Cone Flowers.

Swallowtail butterflies  on Cone Flowers.

I hope you have a lovely day, hon. 

Motto Mom In the Moment! (Snow Day Shenanigans–a Short Video)

Liquid Copper, Curly Girl and Me.

Liquid Copper, Curly Girl and Me.

“I have this theory that people make an implicit decision as to whether they’re going to stay young and curious and interesting and interested, or whether they’re just going to let themselves age.”*

Call me “Motto Mom.”  Maybe mottos would roll off my tongue even if I didn’t have triplets, but mottos have allowed me to live in the moment.  One of them is, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” If it’s a snow day, and there is NO WAY I’m going to get any work done, I allow myself to enjoy the found time.  Guess where you’ll find my kids, their friends and me?  Outside playing because 1) living on a hill makes us the “Sledding House,” 2) you’re never to old to play, and 3) there’s always hot chocolate and marshmallows afterward!

You know what else I’m good for, besides serving snacks and hot drinks?  Videoing the shenanigans.  Except when I decide to video the “sled train” head on!  Ahhh!

Enjoy the 1 minute video of being in the moment!

Click link to watch video:  Snow Day/Blizzard 2015 

 Related Videos:  

December Defined 

Snow Puppy

* Quote by Mitch Rothschild, Chief Executive of Vitals, a website that connects patients and doctors, from a 1/25/15 article in The New York Times.

**music on video, Paul Hardcastle-The Jazzmasters “See You in July”

Stories and Ceramics

Handbuilt Raku Lantern Boxes

Handbuilt Raku Lantern Boxes

I still play in the mud!

Technically, I play in clay, but I mush and squush, pat and pound, and get lots of dirt under my fingernails in ceramics class. What was great about a rain like the 40 day flood? Shampooing your hair outside. A muddy stream meant tadpoles to inspect. Wet sand on the beach? I still like the feeling of the gritty sand surrounding my sinking feet. Do I sound like a big kid?  Hmmm, maybe that’s why no matter what else I’m doing, I’m thinking about children’s books.

Each of my latest ceramics pieces has elements that can relate to children’s books. “How can you relate pottery to books?” you might ask. Hon, if you talk to me for a few minutes, you’ll find out that I often connect seemingly random things. Is that kid-like, too?

I’ve mentioned this before (My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop)–I find children’s books magical. There’s something lovely about words on a page that bring you to another world, make you laugh, let you to believe the unbelievable, teach you something, allow silliness to surface, relate to your own life, can be read dozens (hundreds) of times and always feel fresh. I strive to create magic in my children’s books.

I made the lantern boxes above with Hubby in mind, inscribing them with our wedding date.  I love the Little Bear books. In the scene below, “The skunks decided to get married. They had a lovely wedding.” What’s timeless about them? The characters are sweet yet wise, proper yet loving. Friendships and family, the underlying themes, are set in a world seemingly simple, but filled with depth of emotion. Little Bear stories expand my heart.

Little Bear books by Else Holmelund, illustrated by

Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

The Wedding

The Wedding.

 

 

 

 

Wheel Thrown Bowl

Wheel Thrown Bowl

I make lots of ceramic bowls! I’m not at the point where I can tell the clay what I want it to be. The clay tells me what it wants to be. Boy, is that clay bossy! And a bossy character is part of what makes the Max and Ruby books funny. My kids and I never got tired of reading Bunny Cakes.  The scene below sums up the whole book.  “Max wanted to help. ‘Dont’ touch anything, Max,’ said Ruby.” You know I have triplets, right? My kids could relate to the sibling rivalry. Guess what theme I explore in some of my books? 

Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells

Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells

Baking the cake.

Baking the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate

Handbuilt Raku Plate

Forests are infinitely fascinating to me. I made the plate above with a forest theme:  wood grain, foliage and a brick path. I even pressed a piece of wood along the edges.  Owl Moon teaches readers about owling, or looking for owls in a forest at night.  Not only does the text make you feel the hush of winter snow, the anticipation of calling the owl and the wonder when you see it, the illustrations beg to be studied and explored (look for other night creatures hiding in the branches).

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

 

winter forest

Winter Forest.

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate

Handbuilt Raku Plate

Water is the theme of this handbuilt plate. I glazed the pebble impressions, wavy, watery and slim, rope patterns green and blue. I was thinking of the beach when I made this plate. The Pig in the Pond isn’t set at the beach–its set on a farm–but a hot day, farm animals, Neligan the farmer and a pond are all key elements in this funny picture book. My kids and I laughed every time we read it, especially since Neligan gets naked!

The Pig in the Pond by Martin Wadell

The Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jill Barton

"Sploooooosh!"

“Sploooooosh!”

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate

Handbuilt Raku plate

Picking out the red in this plate and accenting it with green and blue took concentration. Loving Mouse Paint did not. Just because this is a board book and it’s about white mice doesn’t mean it isn’t huge in excellence.  The mice jump in jars of paint, hop around and mix colors to make other colors, wash themselves off in the cat’s bowl, then paint paper instead. But they leave some paper white “because of the cat.”  Genius!

Mouse Paint by

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Mice as artists.

Mice as artists.

 

 

 

 

Wheel Thrown mugs

Wheel Thrown Mugs.

I also make lots of mugs. What’s better in mugs than tea (or coffee or hot chocolate)? A constant source of my childhood imagination was tea parties, whether it was with my stuffed animals, friends, or underwater at the town pool. Mommy Badger carries a tea set in the scene below. The Frances books were written when picture book word counts were longer. They’re perfect for children ages 4-8 who want to sit and explore a story. Frances sings silly songs, likes to rhyme, is a picky eater, gets jealous of her baby sister and has to learn how to share (she reminds me of me!). Her parents get annoyed and frustrated with her, but Frances learns about the world around her with their guidance and, of course, love.

Frances books by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Frances books by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Mommy Badger

Mommy Badger holding a tea set.

 

 

 

 

 

 Hon, do you relate things in your life to books, children’s or  otherwise?  I’d love to compare notes!

Sources:

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak

Max and Ruby by Rosemary Wells

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr

The Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell and Jill Barton

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Frances books by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban

My Top 20 Triplets Memories

Two months old.

Two months old.

Happy 20th birthday today to our three beautiful babies!

Here are my Top 20 memories of raising two girls and a boy, born within five minutes of each other.

The triplet stroller turned heads.

The triplet stroller turned heads.

1.  Walking up and down our street to get some fresh air. (“Sleep babies, sleep!”)

2.  Watching all three babies nap in one crib, swaddled and warm. (bundled like sausages)

3.  Reading stories together, either at bedtime or on long car trips. (Except when they wanted to read out loud and were at three different reading levels.  Oh, the competition!)

Triplets plus one.

Triplets plus one.

4.  Pumpkin picking, wagon rides, and bringing home cider, doughnuts and apple butter. (looking for those perfect pumpkins)

Halloween.

Halloween.

5.  Halloween–dressing up, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and the elementary school show. (Our attic doubles as a Halloween costume shop!)

6.  Thanksgiving along with many holidays spent with family. (cleaning up, cooking, celebrating and catching up)

7.  Countless trips to Baltimore (shout out to my MD family) and Long Island (Dad’s family).

Train ride to NYC.

Train ride to NYC.

8.  Day trips, especially taking the train to Manhattan. (One of my many mottos:  “Getting there is the accomplishment.  Being there is icing on the cake.”)

Scan 12

9.  Building snowmen, sledding and playing in the snow. (Hot chocolate and cookies, anyone?)

First day of high school.

First day of high school.

10.  First day of school. (School supplies? The right outfit? Ready to go.)

11.  First day of camp (and first time on a big, yellow school bus)

Farm-themed b-day party.

Farm-themed b-day party.

12.  Birthday parties.  (Hon, you know I love a party!)

Skiing.

Skiing.

13.  Skiing. (Almost nothing beats a sunny day skiing.)

14.  Trip to Israel. (I knew the trip was a success when we landed in the US and my son asked, “When can we go back?”)

15.  Vacations, especially Disney World. (The secret to theme park success:  pack snacks and sandwiches.)

16. Significant religious milestones. (connecting roots from one generation to the next)

Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Bethany Beach, Delaware.

17.  Beach vacations and day trips to the Maryland, Delaware and Jersey shores.(sandcastles, sunbathing and seashell collecting)

"Baby A"

“Baby A”

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18.  Watching our determined 2 pound 9 ounce daughter grow up.

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"Baby B"

“Baby B”

Scan

 

 

 

 

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19.  Watching our feisty 4 pound 12 ounce son turn into a young man.

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"Baby C"

“Baby C”

Scan 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20.  Watching our sassy 4 pound 4 ounce daughter morph before our eyes.

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Hon, I’m raising a virtual glass of champagne in a toast to my three 20 year-olds.  Health and happiness.

Cheers!

Holiday Party for Tweens

IMG_6797Me to Tween Daughter:  “How would you like to host a New Year’s party at our house?”

Tween Daughter:  “Can I?”

Me:  “Definitely!”

My teens hosted New Year’s parties in the past, but now it was Tween Daughter’s turn. She and I had fun planning her spa-inspired birthday party, and just as much fun shopping and decorating for her New Year’s Eve party.  We kept it small with just nine guests; everyone could fit around one long table for dinner.

New Year’s decorations can be replaced with any holiday decorations, and the activities are just right for middle schoolers.

Decor:  Paper lanterns, silver snowflakes, white holiday lights, brightly colored paper goods and margarita glasses.

Paper Lanterns

Paper Lanterns

Silver Snowflakes

Silver Snowflakes

Brightly colored, holiday-themed decorations.

Brightly colored, holiday-themed decorations.

What's a party without chocolate?

What’s a party without chocolate?

Dinner Menu:  Chips and salsa, veggies and ranch dressing, mozzarella sticks, baked ziti, garlic bread and plain pasta.

Tween Daughter loves my baked ziti!

Tween Daughter loves my baked ziti.

I insisted there be a vegetable on the table!

I insisted there be vegetables on the table!

Cupcake Decorating.

Cupcake Decorating

Party Poppers.

Party Poppers

Activities:  Pictionary Man (new version of Pictionary with a “man” you draw on), cupcake decorating, home-made laser tag (involving “slingshots,” pom-poms and sticky notes), party poppers and Secret Santa. (Secret Santa givers and recipients were previously picked at a friend’s holiday party. The kids came to our house with unwrapped gifts, then we had a “wrapping station” so all the gifts would be wrapped in the same paper.)

Additional Tween Parties Ideas:  Karaoke, the video game Dance Dance Revolution, scavenger hunt, Scattergories, ice cream sundae bar, movie, trivia games such as “How well do you know…”, pinata.

Blenders and Mocktail .Ingredients

Blenders and Mocktail Ingredients

Hubby as bartender.

Hubby as bartender.

Mocktails:  Mocktail choices were Strawberry Dacqueries, Pina Coladas and Shirley Temples.  Garnishes?  Lime wedges and little umbrellas, of course!

Dessert:  Aside from the cupcakes and an Oreo cream pie, guests brought homemade rugelah,  puff pastries filled with apples, candy cane icing cupcakes and cotton candy.

Homemade Rugelah-Yum!

Homemade Rugelah-Yum!

Puff Patries filled with Apples-delicious!

Puff Patries filled with Apples-Delicious!

Candy Cane Icing Cupcakes

Candy Cane Icing Cupcakes-Adorable!

Cotton Candy-Sweet!

Cotton Candy-Sweet!

Tween Daughter with her friends.

Tween Daughter with friends.

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"Can I go with the kids?  Please!" Lucy asked when everyone ran downstairs.

“Can I go with the kids? Please?” Lucy asked when everyone ran downstairs.

Countdown:  Watching the ball drop.  10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Happy New Year!

Hon, how did you ring in the New Year?

Autumn Haikus

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My triplets plus one pumpkin picking.

My triplets and Plus One pumpkin picking, ages 10 and 3.

Colorful and crunchy leaves make me nostalgic for the time when my children were little. If you read my recent post, 19 On the 19th (Happy Birthday To My Triplets), then you know I’ve been strolling down memory lane since September.  Every year, we would

drive to the a country farm,

ride in a wagon,

pick pumpkins,

decorate our house,

carve pumpkins,

jump in leaf piles

and, of course, go trick-or-treating.

Topping off the holiday season was the best entertainment around, the elementary school Halloween show. Soon after Thanksgiving arrived and we feasted with extended family at our home.  Heaven!

I recently came across my big kids’ third grade Autumn Haikus.  I couldn’t wait to share them with you, along with a photo of each kid, all grown up now.

Autumn Haikus H

"Baby A"

“Baby A” and me.

Autumn Haikus T

'Baby B"

‘Baby B” and Hubby.

Autumn Haiku M

Tween Daughter, Me, "Baby C"

Tween Daughter, Me, “Baby C”

Do you and your family have favorite Fall traditions?  Hon, I’d love to hear them.

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Honoring Memorial Day and My Son

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

In 2005, my brother took my almost twelve-year old son to Washington D.C.  I came across these photos of their day together and thought they were a fitting send-off to my son who is in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for the United Stated Army while he studies at a university.

He’s leaving today for mountaineering training in a country very far from home.  I could say how anxious I am about this trip, how world events and politics are sad and disheartening, how I get nauseous thinking about his future, and how much I love him and want him safe and happy.  Instead I’ll  leave you with these photographs.

the Capital

United States Capitol

Washington Monument

Washington Monument

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Statue

military helicopter

military helicopter

Almost twelve-years old.

almost twelve-years old

high altitude rescue training

high altitude rescue training

contracted

Contracted.

My son with proud dad and sister.

Proud dad and sister at an Army function.