Friday, June 26, 2009

I Can't. I'm Waiting for Godot.

We went to see Waiting for Godot in New York last night. It's a revival starring Nathan Lane (!), Bill Irwin (!), and John Goodman (!). And Johnny Glover, who probably deserves a (!) if you're a Broadway fan, but I've only been to two shows before this. Waiting for Godot is a famous play from the 50's by Samuel Beckett. It was revolutionary for the time because it was one of the first "existential" plays. It doesn't have a plot, really, and a very strange sense of time. If you're interested, the wikipedia link gives a pretty complete description.

It was very good, although it's rather an impenetrable piece. I love Bill Irwin, if you don't know who he is, click the link, and of course Nathan Lane is Nathan Lane (!). They were fabulous, and John Goodman was good as Pozzo, but it's a tough character to like.

We found a nice mid-range Italian restaurant around the corner for dinner. I don't remember the name but it's right next to the Dave Letterman theater. And the show was in Studio 54, which didn't look like a nightclub at all - apparently it was previously a theater, and we couldn't figure out HOW you'd have a nightclub there, because it looked like it had always been a theater. Gilt and cherubs and everything. And we walked from Penn Station to 54th street, and I even anticipated walking and carefully chose shoes - which rubbed my heels raw and gave me blisters on my toes. Sigh. But I chose to walk instead of take a cab because I LIKE walking in New York. Watching people is fun.

However, on the way back to the train station, we walked through Times Square which was PACKED at 11pm. I mean, shoulder to shoulder, squeezing along the sidewalk. There were numerous TV broadcasts setting up, I think to report Michael Jackson's death, because where else would you go for crowd reaction than Times Square for news like that? And that may have been why it was so crowded. But I didn't enjoy that - I mean, I like people watching, but not when I'm crushed by a crowd!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Letters From Camp

Dear M+F
Hello, I am here at camp and and enjoy it. There IS not much to write about today, and so this letter is (?). So far, there is only a few people from last year, most come for later session. Well, I think that is all, and I am in (?), so bye.
Your son, John.

Dear Mom + Dad,
Today, so far, has been more boring than fun. And the pool was FREEZING!!! But, we did play Ultimate Frizbe!! The lunch was awsome today. There was gravy, stuffing, and lots of...turkey!! Later, I'm going to do body painting, or knee tag. Yesterday, we played a game called smog. Travis said he was a character in the Hobbit.
- Rachel M
love Will

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gosh, It's so QUIET Around Here!

It is very quiet around here right now. That's because all three (3) children are at sleep-away camp. No, really!

Yes, I sent my 7-yr old to sleep-away camp for a week. I'm getting two reactions. 1. Are you nuts??? and/or 2. Wow, what are you going to do all week by yourself????

I am feeling slightly nuts that I sent a 7-yr old who's never had a sleepover to camp. Although he has spent a couple of nights at the grandparents' (with his siblings, without parents at night), and when he was a toddler, spent a week at the other grandparents' house sans parents. Not that he remembers that. But he's not a hugely clingy child (mostly), and we've been working on independence in terms of showers and such. Bedtime may be the sticking point, but he's in a cabin with 9 other boys about his age, so there's a lot of thrill to that (but maybe not much sleeping). I'm feeling sorry for the counselors in his cabin, frankly.

As to what I'm going to do, well, I don't know. John is away on a business trip Monday and Tuesday, so I'll be REALLY on my own. Kind of looking forward to it, actually. Eat, sleep, everything totally on my schedule. Wow! And we're loosely planning on going into New York to do ... something. Eat good food, see a show, something.

Yes, of course I miss them. A little. Mostly I'm worrying that they're getting rain and thunder, although it's stopped raining here and there's actually SUNSHINE!!! But of course it's humid. Somehow I think they'll manage to have fun, regardless.

My biggest concern? It's a Quaker camp, so this morning they had a Quaker worship service. An hour, no sermon, no music, no talking. Unless you stand up and share something about your feelings or faith. I have NO IDEA how William sat without talking for an hour. I can't even begin to imagine him doing that, so I'm dying to know what happened.

7-yr old boys. An hour of silence. Really?

Friday, June 12, 2009

I've Been REALLY Busy

So the hardest part of this project, in many ways, was coming up with the content. I knew I wanted to do a star book (more on that later). It's a gift book for a librarian, so I fairly quickly settled on children's books as a theme. But it took an hour on the phone with my mother before she came up with the idea of featuring Caldecott Medal books. The board is covered with an embossed paper I bought in Amsterdam a few years ago. I printed the title on vellum, sized to fit the bookplate. The brads are through holes in the board so it's well attached, but I also stuck some glue dots behind the metal just to make sure.

This is a star book (you'll see why in a minute). There are three layers of pages, the front layer has a window cut out, the second layer has a picture of a book (I just printed pictures from the internet on photo paper). The third layer is just blank.

Another view. I just selected 10 books from the history of the award (roughly one every decade), and the years are hand-written.

And now you can see why it's called a star book. It's meant to be displayed like this or you can close it up and tie it shut.

An even more starry view.

I didn't realize the end pieces would be so tight to the cover or I wouldn't have spent so much time on them. It's a list of all the Caldecott Medal books, years and illustrators, and the quote is printed on vellum, mounted behind the window cut out of the first layer, and there's a piece of decorative paper glued behind on the second layer.

Ditto for the endplate of the book. Plus a lovely Ray Bradbury quote. But its so tight you can hardly open it, which wasn't obvious before I glued it to the cover. Oh well, now I know for next time.
They both loved their books, by the way. Gushingly. It was a little embarrassing - making the books was fiddly but not HARD in the way that painting or drawing is.

I've Been Busy...

Today was the luncheon for the library volunteers. The volunteer program at our elementary school is very active. There are ~20 library volunteers, and we come in for an afternoon or morning every other week, all school year. We check books in and out, shelve, and generally do the grunt work so the librarian and her assistant can actually work with the kids, maintain the books and add new ones, and schedule authors and illustrators to visit. They do a great job. Our librarian tailors her programs to fit the ages and needs of the kids - younger kids learn how to use the library and older ones learn how to use the library. Last time I was in, she had the 3rd graders on a book hunt - she gave them clues, either by Dewey Decimal call number, author and subject, or title, and they had to find the books in the library. It was a great exercise to really use what they had learned, and by structuring it as a game, the kids had a blast.
So every year she has a luncheon or party for her volunteers. Last year, in addition to a gift card we all chipped in for, the volunteer chair gave her handmade earrings. I thought, "Hey, I'm going to be co-chair this coming year, I could make her something!" Well, one thing led to another and I've been making books, so what could be more appropriate as a gift for the librarian?
This is the book I made for the assistant. It's approximately 3"x3", made as "meander book." That's a variation on an accordian book.
Cover is binder board covered with scrapbook paper. I drilled a little hole, and the button is actually a brad, so it is firmly attached to the cover. I poked it through the ribbon on one end, so the ribbon wraps around the book and then around the button. All the stickers and transparency pieces are from Making Memories. Some of the rub-ons are MM, some are Stampin' Up.
First page spread. Rub-ons and stickers, and I cut little slits to hold the corners of the quote.Second page spread. Because of how the book is made, I was able to cut the window in two pages and sandwich the bird transparency inside. The white is rub-ons on the following page.
Next spread goes over 4 pages. The left-hand quote is attached with flower eyelets. The white is rub-ons, and the colored flowers are stickers. The right-hand quote is again sandwiched between pages, with just a piece of white cardstock behind to make it more readable. Last spread! The transparency is held on with 4 mini glue dots in the corners, covered up by flat back gems (adhered with glue dots). The flowers are a transparency, again sandwiched, but with part of the plastic cut away so the button flower pokes through a little. It's adhered on the back page, which is attached to the back cover.

Unfolded, standing up.
From the top, you can see how the "window" pages stick out. The book is cut from one square piece of paper, divided into 16 equal squares. You then cut along some of the fold lines to make a long strip of paper that turns, or "meanders". Some people let the book turn, I chose to attach those pages together to make my windows.
This actually came together really quickly, although I found it easier to just start putting things together rather than plan each page. I'd purchased all the stickers, etc., from the same collection (in the clearance bin!) so everything coordinated, and I happened to have paper that worked with it too.
I'll post the librarian's book later, I'm off to the orthodontist with JC now. Goody!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Evils of Technology? Not so much...

So you read a lot in the news these days about kids and cell phones. How they have them too young, how they don't talk any more, how they text their friend sitting next to them, how spelling is dead, how they blow the family budget on text messages, yada yada yada.

Let me tell you, as a parent, there is actually an upside.

Three times now, I've had a child on a field trip, and actually had some idea what they were doing all day. Really! Both kids (Rachel and JC) took their cell phones along (basic safety precaution, plus you never REALLY know when the bus is coming home). Both of them, unasked, sent me pictures and texts during the day. "I'm going to ride that roller coaster" "Look at the Liberty Bell" "Check out this funny t-shirt"

Ok, not a lot of messages, but some every now and then. And it makes me feel connected. So many times they're gone all day someplace cool (yes, I know they're gone all day at school, but I have a pretty good idea what happens there. I think.) and by the time they get home, they're too tired to tell me more than, "yeah, it was fun."

So I get to live vicariously through them, a little. I get to see what they're seeing (at least a bit). I get a talking point to ask questions about. It's just a really nice thing. I hope they keep updating me, at least a little, for a long time. Text messages, emails, phone calls, I'm not picky.

And yes, I have talked to my own mother this week.