Friday, June 20, 2014

On Second Thought...

Believe me when I say that I never, ever (EVER) wanted to go on a "staycation."  NEV-ER.  It's "vacation," but we're "staying"?  Thank you no.  Do not sign me up for that.

Well... time passes.  Things change.  And apparently:  Timing Is Everything.

I am eating my words as we enjoy a fabulous, all-expenses-paid staycation in our guest room.  I am not exaggerating when I say we have barely left the room!  And why would we?  Check out these amenities:

A giant feathery bed (the Westin Heavenly bed has nothin' on us)

Relaxing lavendar sachets & an ample library within arms reach at all times

Fancy finery & linens
(Pets acceptable -- strike that -- encouraged)

Fresh (extremely) local produce (we might have to leave our room to deal with that tomato...)

Classes available 
(I'm currently enrolled in three)
Beginning Quilt Blocks
Knitting 101

Project-Based Homeschooling
Journal Class

Additionally, we have:
:: In-room movies
:: Audiostory library
:: Internet access
:: Foot baths & neck warmers
:: Bedtime stories

Okay -- I'm officially sold.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Art Together giveaway!

Amy at Amy Hood Arts is always doing something creative and artsy at her place.  She believes in the value of experimenting and creating, and she's a strong advocate for making art together with our children.  Which is exactly what she calls her art-focused e-zine: Art Together.

She's put together a brand new issue, and we were eager to check it out!  So that's what we did this week.  It is packed with goodies.  There is so much to read and do.  And do and do and do.  We've only scratched the surface this week.

Making even one of the projects, just made us want to make more and more of that project.  I've never made a collage like Amy's before.  She included prompts and a playful format that even a beginner like me could use to grow some new creative vision.  I'm hooked, for sure.  What a clever approach!

My girl who can't keep her nose out of a book for too long, chose Amy's book-making project.  I think this will be the Summer of Books in a whole new way this year.  I am brimming with ideas for how we'll use all the books I sense we'll be making.  They're beautiful, full of heART, and wide open for more exploration.

Amy has kindly offered to give a lucky Home With Heart reader a free copy of Art Together Summer 2014: Mixed Media/Collage!  This giveaway is open to anyone worldwide.
To enter simply leave a comment on this post by Saturday, June 21st.  The winner will be selected randomly and announced here on Sunday, June 22nd.
(Be sure to leave your email address so that you can receive your prize!)

You can purchase Art Together Summer 2014: Mixed Media/Collage, as well as previous issues, by visiting her website.
Use the code ARTPLAY to receive 20% off any Art Together purchase.  Offer expires July 31.

I know that Amy will leave you feeling inspired in a whole new way!  Grab your glue & scissors...

A winner has been chosen using a random number generator.
The winner is Karen!
Congratulations, Karen, and thank you to everyone for commenting!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Little Library Bag

Some of my favorite moments are spent reading to my kids.  Sometimes on the couch, with Linus snuggled up beside me, his arms wound around one of mine.  Sometimes on the floor or at the table, while they work on their own projects.  In the car, while we wait for one thing or another.  In the backyard in our new fort.  On our bed, just before the tucking ins and good night kisses.

I share many of our favorite chapter book reads in the sidebar, but I've long wanted to share some extra special picture books, too.  Here are some from our little library bag this week.  These were bedtime reads.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

I picked this one up because we spend our summers at the local art museum.
Even more inside than I thought we would find!

What Is Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle & Friends

Talented friends.  Funny friends.  Inspiring friends.  Friends we like, too.

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi & Ron Barrett

Classic for a reason.
I first read this book to a group of four year olds twenty years ago.  That left a mark.  On my heart.  So fun to share with my own kids.  Giggles galore.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Creatures in Our Kitchen

::  Triops have been around for 200 million years.
::  They are crustaceans.
::  They live in standing fresh water, mostly temporary rainwater pools & are rarely found in permanent water sources.
::  Eggs survive drying and freezing & hatch when pools refill with water.

We don't keep proper pets.  I'm wise to the whole "who will take care of the animals?" bit.  But, I feel we do need creatures around sometimes, of some sort at least.

We did a double your pleasure, double your fun life science extravaganza this spring.  Triops AND butterflies.  Our kitchen/nursery was a hotbed of hatching-emerging activity.  Wild times here.

I sure do love being a homeschooling family.  With a big chalkboard.  We kept track of what we were growing, when to feed, how much to feed, who was doing what.  Linus was first to run down to give us the triops count each morning (big ones sometimes eat little ones -- eek).  Sela tended to check on the butterflies on her morning stroll through the house.

Right now we have several mysteries we're working on.  One: what are those creatures that hatched in the tank that don't look like triops?  And, two: what should we feed these water creatures, now that we've run out of the food that came with the kit?  

We've now released our butterflies.  We watched all five little (dead-looking on arrival and often thereafter) caterpillars form chrysalides, but we only had the opportunity to see one butterfly emerge.  The others all did -- just not when we were awake.  Watching the process unfold was a really special experience -- I'm so pleased we did it.  Next time, I'd like to carry our adventure over into raising a second generation, as Shelli did.  You can read about it here.  Very inspiring!

Now I'm trying to figure out what other creatures would fit nicely with our offbeat-pet lifestyle.  Suggestions welcome. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Is It Nighttime Yet??

It's a time of regrouping around here.  In some small ways -- because it's summer, and we can change gears and change focus.  And lose some focus.  In some big ways, too.  Sometimes, things come together (or fall apart) in a way that simply insist you take a look at how things are working.  Life can be... intense.  

So, some stepped up self-care is now in the mix.  In the last month, it's been cranial-sacral chiropractic appointments, acupuncture and Chinese medicine, various western med perspectives, SLEEP, no caffeine -- yep, it's all on the table.  I'm fine.  But, changes are required.  

The first order of business has been a nightly herbal foot bath, recommended by the Chinese medicine practitioner I'm seeing.  Each night as I move through the ritual of setting up my soak, I think, "Doctor's orders!"  What better way to end the day, and the "doing"?  I literally cannot get/do/make that for you -- my feet are in a tub of water.  (I have been asked to do this for a whole month.  A whole month.  Yes, I willlllllll.)

This topic (self-care, that is, not wet feet) reminds me of a favorite conversation among parents.  Years ago, a friend had a beautiful idea for a group aimed at supporting parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers.  She asked me and a couple of other colleagues to join her in starting it up.  We called it the Family Connection Program, and I had the pleasure of running the program as well being on the steering committee.  Every week we had time to talk about topics that families were interested in.  One of the most memorable for me was about caring for ourselves.  On this morning, one mother talked about how restorative it was to go away for the weekend without her child.  Another mother shared that on that rainy morning (as on many others), she sat in the car in the parking lot for five minutes before joining us.  Her two kids were buckled into the backseat happily listening to a favorite cd, and she sat quietly in the front with her hot tea.

Caring for ourselves can come in so many packages.  It isn't one-size-fits-all.  It isn't even one-strategy-always-works-for-you.  And sometimes we think we're doing it -- and it turns out, we're not.

The other day the kids and I were out, and we needed lunch.  So aware of accumulated wear and tear -- and that the day before had been my birthday! -- I decided we would go to lunch somewhere we had never eaten before.  (Are you picturing your children's eyes widening at this decision in the backseat like my children's were?)  Yes.  That's right, kids.  I enjoy doing new things.  I like trying new things on menus.  I realized just how long it had been since we had done something new.  I like new!  I need new sometimes!  We had a lovely, lovely lunch.  Everyone found something on the menu they liked.  It was just what I needed.  (Until the sun set, that is, and I could get my feet back in the tub, that is...)

What's happening here??  Let me get a closer look...