Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy 9th, Jamie!

Our dear Jamie, turned 9 today and celebrated by having the most terrific day.
This is how it went...
Woke up early to open presents.
Took over the dining room table to build awesome new lego creations....
(noted that the Pirates of Caribbean Revenge Ship Lego model is for ages NINE to 13!)
Went to see Smurfs in 3D movie.
Got to try out birthday snorkel, mask and fins.
Harry Potter birthday cake...yum.

Being 9 is really, really, fine.

Jamie shares a birthday with one of his fictional heroes... can you guess who?

He wears cool glasses and a lightening bolt scar.

That's right... Harry James Potter + Jamie G. both born on July 31st!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Very Best Origami Artist I Know.

 This is my young friend Nathan, he is 11 and he is extremely cool.
He is such a nice + cool guy that he agreed to teach a class in origami at his local public library.
(That's his little brother Jonathan on the left)

 A whole bunch of kids came to his class, including Henry and Lily. 
I got to tag along too, which made me very happy and but made the class a bit tougher to teach since it then included "mature learners." All of those nimble minded youngsters picked up on the paper folding and bending quickly.... less so for me.

But Nathan was patient and explained his folds to me slowly. He even complimented me although  it was obvious that my "crane" looked more like a spitball then anything else. 
When I asked him to check my work he looked closely at my pitiful little bird and said...
"I think it would help if I do this fold over... that way the head won't be as long as the neck and the whole crane will be more even and balanced."
Thank you Nathan.

 Here he is showing Lily how to fold. 
She was a far better student and produced a far better bird and I am totally NOT jealous of her crane folding skills.

 Henry, Nathan and Lily with their finished cranes.

Nathan is showing off a little bit... his crane is kind of like an action figure. If you pull on it's cute little tail while tugging on it's well balanced and in proportion beak... he flaps his wings.

Nathan is demonstrating just how cool and flappy he made his crane.

Henry and Lily's cranes are also lovely and they should be proud of them.
My little spitball wad crane is safely tucked in my purse to spare my kids the embarrassment of an inept origami mom.

 The picture window of the library became a display of Nathan's origami art. 
Here is a folded vase of flowers and a hummingbird.

I thought this piece was funny... it's a baby in a box.
Of course.

Nathan is one of my heroes.
He is cool and sweet and the very best origami artist I know.
He is also a gifted musician and plays the piano and cello.
He does all of these things with the additional challenge of being born without his right arm.  He uses his foot to do things like make intricate paper folds and guide a cello bow. Two things that many people who do have a right arm can't do.
Nathan's right foot can do anything that a right hand could do. 
Nathan can do absolutely anything he wants to do.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mary's Excellent African Adventure.


Mary just returned from a most excellent trip to South Africa where she did a lot of posing in natural splendor with her arms up.

And leaping for the Joy and Happiness of being with twenty other teenagers instead of her way less cool family.

She did some other stuff too... she assured me that she helped the guys paint this school instead of just posing for photos... once again, with her arms up.

The other things that she did included...

 Organizing some craft projects at a rec center. She has years of crafting experience and was happy to share her cutting and pasting talent.

She also got to play with and hug some cute kids at the school where they volunteered.
The little ones gave her a new name..."Zinhle" which Mary pronounces with a click. Our girl can speak with a click! She said that a lot of the older kids spoke English but the younger kids spoke Xhosa. Since my girl doesn't speak a ton of Xhosa, the clicks are pretty challenging- she had to fall back on her pantomime skills to share her craftiness with the little guys.

It's a good thing that hugs are the same in English and Xhosa... Mary grew very fond of this fellow who called himself "Lucky."

Lucky had a map of the USA and asked all of the delegates to put stars on their home states. Then he put butterfly stickers on the lonely states without stars... the final product was an inspired map covered in stars and butterflies...just lovely.

Mary took the big digital Nikon and really had fun with it. She took over 2,000 pictures and as she put it "tried to be artsy" and find some interesting shots.
I love this one of her little pal slapping her a high five.

Also, this one of the mirror in the school bathroom... 

She got a kick out of the Papa, Mama, and Baby toilets at the school. I think that she spent a considerable amount of time in the bathroom with her camera.

Then there were the beasties... nope, she didn't have a telephoto lens... she really was this close to a big ole wrinkly elephant.

And this polygamist man lion and one of his proud sister wives.

Hip-hop hippopotamuses...ready to break into a muddy rap.

She said good bye to Africa from the Cape of Good Hope... the Southern most point of Africa- where this little beach guy wished her a safe journey home.

More likely he is saying something less kind- like "get off my beach" but as she  speaks no penguin, she is free to interpret his stare as well wishes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Swagger Angel.

Jamie has been working his little tushie off all summer so as a fun incentive (read: bribe) I promised him that on his final day of summer school I would take him to Chicago for the weekend.

 Turns out, Jamie is a Chicago kind of guy... 

On Saturday evening, Jamie and I enjoyed dinner on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. 

Handsome fellow.

Our fabulous dinner view.

By the end of the evening Jamie was quite fed up with me taking pictures of him... to bear such photographic hardship was upsetting.

But then... he found his swagger.

This is how it happened...
Jamie and his fun mom (me!) were riding the elevator up when the doors opened and a in pops a young-ish, professional-ish and definitely fashionable fellow.

He nods to my son and says "looking sharp, but you need a lid," and takes his own hat off and plops it of Jamie's head. Looks at him again, and says "almost there,"pulls some shades out of his jacket pocket and puts them on Jamie.

Then the elevator stopped and he jumped out.
"But wait, your accessories!" I shouted after him. 
But he waved me off.
And then he was gone.
Like a fashion angel.
And Jamie assumed that this was typical of riding elevators in a big city... cool, and fashionable stuff happens all of the time, and you just go with it when it does.

So he took his swagger to the streets.

And to the Bean...

And was troubled and a little bit frightened by this guy, so I did what any sensitive parent would do and gave Silver Guy a couple of bucks to pose with my son.

Before the swagger became too obnoxious... we caught a cab for the airport.
Here are Jamie's final moments in his windy city.
My son the dude.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bachelor Hamster

Henry asked me if every adult in the world was married.

"Like, does every grown up man find a woman to marry?" 

I told him that a lot do, but that some men don't and stay bachelors.... then I needed to define "bachelor" as that is a new (and now very cool) word for Henry.

"Can you be a dad and still be a bachelor?"

"Nope, once you are a dad, you are a dad and no longer a bachelor."


"Well... I'm worried about Wesley, (his beloved hamster) because he might like being a bachelor now, but he might like being a dad later, and I don't see how he will ever meet a woman hamster to marry while he is living all alone in his aquarium."

Good point.
Sorry Wes.

Then Karl, who has some personal experience in bachelorhood, suggested that hamster-guy brains aren't the same as human man brains and if there are no lady hamsters around he probably doesn't think about it  much.

And that made Henry feel better about Wesley's current lifestyle. This is a good thing as Wes is no spring chicken amongst hamsters and I am afraid he is getting a bit rattier by the month. We love him, but a lady hamster not see his inner beauty and break his little rodent heart.

As evidence... these were the cutest photos from the recent Wesley photo shoot- I wouldn't recommend using either for a hamster profile pic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vulture Wings.

Shopping advice from Jamie... age, almost 9.

If you are ever given an opportunity to buy yourself a pair of vulture wings- grab it. 
You will suffer no regrets.

In fact, every reflective surface will give you much happiness as you check out just how unbelievably cool a nice pair of vulture wings make you look. 

It's the perfect accessory, really.

Your personal space increases dramatically as a result of your new wingspan.

 Helpful in elevators too... you can see how fun it is for my brother and sister.

Every family needs a winged vulture boy to bring them happiness and excitement and Jamie's wings are his very best summertime investment.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Katy, Mary, and Anna Summer 2011
Every girl needs a big sister. 

If you aren't lucky enough to have a biological one in your life then, if you are wise, you recruit.
Our Anna recruited wisely.
Katy has very generously become Anna's big sister and Anna understands from the bottom of her 19 year old heart, how incredibly fortunate she is to have Katy as a part of her life.
We have been friends with Katy's family for many years but they live about eight hours away. This made it tough to get together very often while the kids were growing up. However, each summer Katy and her family would come and visit the farm for a week. 
 Their friendship began when Anna was six and fell into awe of 11 year old Katy. At the time, Anna was a big sister to two year old Mary, but didn't have a big sister of her own. She was looking for someone to look up to and Katy became just that person.

Anna was a smart little girl...
Here is Katy at age 11, looking every bit the cool chica then that she is today.

Last weekend we were able to relive some of those summertime memories...grown up Katy came to visit!!!

Katy is without a doubt, the most energetic, optimistic and completely fun person ever... she is a wonderful role model for my daughters and all of my kids adore her.

She can also be completely goofy, which I consider an essential ingredient in humankind. 
 We had a fabulous weekend, full of laughter with some healthy reminiscing...

here are Anna and Katy summer of 1997.

And Anna and Katy in summer of 2011.

Oh, and in case you were wondering how hoofprints outfits are created, here is Yoder the hesitant but artistic pony in action.

Thank you Katy, for being a good friend to everyone in my family but especially for being there for Anna during all of those crucial times when she needed a big sister more then a mom.
You are the best sister-by-choice, and my girl is very fortunate to have you to look up to.
As the signs in the airport say..."Yay, Katy!!!"