Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ross!

Today is Ross's 8th birthday. It's a busy day, but I realized that I have a lot of stuff to post here!

We had a small party at our house on Sunday. The kids mostly romped through the backyard, entertaining themselves wonderfully. Of course, we had cake and ice cream, and a pinata. Here's Ross blowing out the candles (he took a long pause to make his wish):

Opening presents:

Everyone around the pinata (left to right -- Kaitlyn, JD, Ross, Dylan, and Christopher):

Another milestone for Ross was receiving his Wolf badge in Cub Scouts. His pack had a moving-up ceremony for all the boys. The parents helped them put on their new bandannas, and the boys were thrilled! Ross is now a Bear. He plans to do some extra electives to earn an Arrow Point to wear on his uniform.

Meanwhile, I've been stitching as time allows. Here's the Walt Whitman quotation on my jeans purse:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jumping in with both feet

I'm entering one of my yearly hectic seasons -- between late April and mid-May, I am usually swamped. This year, at least, Ross won't be finishing school, since Spokane schools don't finish until June. In spite of the craziness, I am trying to squeeze in art as much as possible.

I'm posting some new photos of my jeans purse. My (loose) theme for this project is "directions and journeys." Thinking about pathways, I thought it'd be fun to put footprints on the purse; what better way to do that than to trace my own feet!

I used a red Zig marker, then ironed it to help set it.

Early on, I decided to use some of my favorite quotations from 19th century American writers Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman (I still have my high school copies of Walden and Leaves of Grass). I printed out the quotations on fabric, and then painted over the fabric with Dye-Na-Flow paints. Unfortunately, some of the words ran a little bit, but it's not terribly noticeable. I'm currently stitching on the Thoreau quote.

In other news, Chris and our friend Jason have decide to start making beer. They have split the cost of supplies, and are going to brew their first batch tonight, with the help of Chris's coworker, Matt, who has some experience. It'll be great to taste their efforts in a few weeks!

Ross has been struggling to complete all his homework lately. His teacher has been piling it on, and much of it is writing assignments, which is the area he struggles with the most. He is very resistant, mostly because he isn't picking the topic to write about. And, he thinks it's just awful that he has to do something that he really doesn't want to do. Much self-pity, wailing, and gnashing of teeth is involved. Of course, this drives us nuts. Just like everyone else, he has to learn that there are things that you don't want to do in life, but you have to do them anyway. At least he is learning that we are serious about him completing assignments on time, and he may be developing some time management skills. This morning, all on his own, he started to do some of his homework before we left, telling Chris that he wanted to make sure that he got to go to JD's house for dinner tonight (JD is Jason's son).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pigment dyeing

I'm slowly making progress on my denim purse. I decided to make the lining from an old futon cover. It's a nice cotton, but the blues in it were awfully dull, compared to what I've painted on the outside. So, I decided to overdye it with blue pigment dye.



Pigment dye is a lot of fun, and very easy to use. It comes in liquid form, and you just add water to dilute it to the color you want. It doesn't dry as a solid color -- the dye sort of pools in places, and so some spots are colored more deeply than others. I enjoy the mystery of "what's it going to look like when it's dry?" A big advantage of pigment dye is that it works on lots of different fabrics, including cotton, polyester, rayon, and nylon. I get mine at Dharma Trading (www.dharmatrading.com), a great resource for all kinds of dyes, paints, clothing blanks, and books about dyeing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A little get-away

When I see school vacations looming on the calendar, I tend to panic: what am I going to do with Ross? But then I start scheduling activities, and the vacation becomes very full, very fast! He had school friends over Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, we went to the MAC (the local art and history museum), where I was staffing a booth for their spring break kids' fair. And on Friday, we headed out of town on a little adventure.

We headed west to Grand Coulee Dam, which is about 90 miles from Spokane. We drove through lots of wheat farms along US 2. When we got to the dam, we checked out the visitors' center, where they had some fairly sophisticated, interactive exhibits. Here's Ross in front of the dam (with Flat Cris):

Then we drove around the area, looking for a hotel. We found a nice one in Electric City (yup, that really is the name of the town), right on Banks Lake -- guests were fishing out of the backyard! We relaxed and enjoyed the view for a while (and Chris checked out the Masters) before heading out to dinner.

In the evening, Chris and Ross played Battleship (Ross's new favorite game). I took the opportunity to sketch the scene from our balcony. I certainly don't draw much, but I've been thinking that I ought to try more often. I just read a book by Danny Gregory (Everyday Matters: A Memoir), who discovered that drawing helps him be more present in the moment, and to really see what is in front of him. He does these lovely, quirky ink drawings of anything -- his kid's fire truck, his medicine cabinet, street scenes. I am inspired by his work. What do I have to lose? It doesn't matter if my drawing is "good" -- it just matters that I want to draw and that I do it.

The next day, we headed south along Banks Lake, looking for a hiking trail. There are a couple of state parks and national forest in the area. We found a fun, quiet trail along the bottom of a canyon, where a fruit orchard used to be. The weather was nice and there were hardly any people around -- perfect! The highlight for Ross was scrambling up a fairly steep rock section off the trail. He found out that it's easier to get up than to come down, but he did just fine. Here are Ross and Chris resting at the halfway point of the hike:

After the long hike, we were all beat, and happily headed back to Spokane.

Easter was nice. Ross and I went to church, then Chris hid the eggs that his folks had sent for Ross, and Ross found them.

Then we went to a brunch that one of Chris's co-workers has every year -- a yummy potluck affair. It was nice to head home and relax with a full stomach, after a busy week!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Spring break

Today is the first day of Ross's spring break. We had invited a school friend to come over today, but he came down with a nasty cold and couldn't make it. So instead, we hung out with our friends Jason, JD, and Leo. (Jason is Patricia's husband; JD and Leo and Patricia went to the St. Patty's Day parade with us.)

Ross brought "Flat Cris" with him to the park, and we took a picture with him and JD:

"Flat Cris" is part of Ross's writing assignment this week. The second graders have been reading the Flat Stanley books, which are about a boy who is paper-thin and goes on all these crazy adventures, such as having his friends fly him like a kite. Each kid created their own version of "Flat Stanley," and now they have to take him with them on adventures, take photos, and write about it from "Flat Stanley's" point of view. It's a pretty cool assignment, and even Ross, who is not usually excited about writing, has been looking forward to this.

Here's a picture of all three boys together:

JD is four years old, and Leo is 17 months. JD and Ross have a lot of fun together. It's a good experience for Ross -- almost like having brothers.

As you can tell from the way the boys are dressed, the weather wasn't great today. It was in the 40s, and it snowed hard for a while this afternoon. But we were comfy at the Crowley house, where we ate lunch, and then Leo took a nap, the older boys watched a movie, and the adults got to relax.