Thursday, October 28, 2010

Artisan field trip class, take one!

...In which we visit Eric Billig W O R K S. First, I'll start off showing you some of his works.... you could just die, am I right? I mean this dollhouse. My. God. Teeny tiny concrete countertop in the kitchen and a green roof? Fainting now!

But that was just a little somethin'-somethin' he whipped up for his sweet little bambinos. His main medium is concrete... and I do believe he is a world-class tinkerer who is doing things with concrete no one's ever done before.... pushing the limits. He is so playful and creative... and loves to try new things, and has such a sense of possibility and play... he is exactly the kind of working tinkerer I want these young ones to get to have contact with. Lucky for me he is really excited about teaching for Austin Tinkering School... and will be offering a full-on class (6 week series) in
January. He says his motivation to teach a class to kids has a self-serving side to it... he knows the kids are going to give him all sorts of good ideas, because they'll approach this medium without the heavy mantle of limitations or expectations weighing them down. Such an amazingly cool guy and I'm proud to say a long-time family friend... one of the first people we met when we moved to Austin 10 yrs. ago.
So, we made trivets. He had strips of (flat) PVC which you can bend or
score and break. We all worked on a big sheet of melamine and glued the pieces of PVC straight onto the melamine to create a mold. Then he
had this beautiful mixture of materials in the center of the table... tons of beautiful colors of glass tiles and stone and other interesting tidbits. We secured them down with just a dab of caulk and then he even let us look at
the different kinds of concrete he had and indivually mixed a batch of concrete per each kid's taste for each trivet! That means, you add tint and different aggregates (crunched-up glass, etc) for different looks. We were able to remove the mold from just one before we left. We're going to return this Tuesday and do some polishing and finishing work and get to take home our masterpieces. Also we'll get
to tour the rest of the fabulous Blue Genie, where Eric rents studio space.... we were so busy with our project, we didn't even have a chance to wander around! But it's fantastic that we have that to look forward to, because there is lots of other artisans and fascinating tools and art work in the rest of the space. Go check out Eric and Blue Genie
during East Austin Studio Tour coming up here in a few weeks(on of my FAVORITE events of all time) .... it'll be SO fun a
nd they'll even have some delicious beer flowing freely, I'm sure.
warmly! You are the BEST!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The kids are alright

Do you ever just have those moments when you are absolutely positive that your kids are going to be total, total a-holes? And then you have those other moments, when everything becomes clear and you can see way into the future and beyond, and know without a shadow of a doubt that these are some truly excellent people right here? No? That's never happened to you? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Good luck with that. Anyway....

Jack, age 7, has definitely served up all sorts of challenges on my parenting plate in his lifetime, turning my whole entire idea of what a perfect parent I would be right on its ear, and of course that has turned out to be a very good thing, though it certainly didn't seem so at the time. But lately he's been almost preternaturally mature and agreeable.... it agrees with me, this having a kid working with me rather than against me. And little Bruno, 4.5, has been a real rager, pretty darn disagreeable guy for a pretty long while now (as 3-4 year olds can sometimes be, feeling as they do that it is their duty to differentiate themselves from their parents... quite healthy and natural but real and total hell to deal with at times)... but he, also, sometimes shows some really great emotional intelligence. So without further ado I share these two little conversations that made me melt the other day.

I walked out the back door to find that Bruno had opened a new bag of nice coffee beans that someone had given me as a gift and scattered them around outside. I freaked out and yelled. I really shouldn't have because as it turned out it was just a small amount that had fallen out... he was probably just curious about what was in the bag. Anyway, he was up in this little loft in the addition we are building, just crying and crying and I couldn't get to him to comfort him and he was too upset with me to come down. Jack was up there trying to comfort him and Bruno was saying, "I hate you, go away, Jack!" Jack said (to Bruno) "I love you Bruno. And even though you say you hate me, I know you love me, too." Then, to me, "I love you Kami. I'm sorry he did that." Then, to Bruno, "I'm sorry she yelled at you." Then, looking straight at me with a knowing, wise smile, "I know just how it feels."

Then, a little later:
Jack: (to Bruno) Do you still hate me?
Bruno: (starting to recover) I half hate you and I half love you.
Jack: Why do you hate me?
Bruno: I hate you because Kami yelled at me.
Jack. I know what you mean. I feel like that sometimes, too.

Good job articulating difficult, multi-layered emotions, little dudes! I am so glad to know you. And so honored to be your mama. Even if you do all call me Kami.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wheel and Axle day

Wheeeeeee! What a great day. Gosh, I was in paradise. The kids took a mildly amusing and interesting project and really ran with it. Mad decorating and innovations with design and decoration with these cars, and then they even ended up drawing multiple tracks for the cars with side walk chalk on the ground complete with pits of despair, lava, water obstacles, and so much more. I can't TELL you how happy this all makes me.... kids happily immersed in creating and playing is just WHERE IT IS AT, for me. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stuck in my craw

SO, I have lots of wonderful friends. Lots of great friends that I love and that I either see or don't see or connect with or don't connect with at any given time or for any number of reasons and that's all right and wonderful. There's just this one dream family that I've been talking about for years now, though, and I still don't count them among my friends. This is this best-friend family that just clicks perfectly with ours... that lives nearby... that isn't turned off by big bound-y boy energy, and forgives us our foibles, and is just so much easier to be with than when we are on our own.

Our children match up perfectly age-wise, and they live in my 'hood. Really, universe, is that so much to ask? I think not.

Anyway, about a year ago, my friend told me about this family that sounded perfect. I begged her to set up a playdate but it never happened. Then I surprised myself by boldly just going over and knocking on their door. I told her the real honest truth... how I just wanted to meet a great family in our neighborhood, and hey how 'bout it? And she was SUPER cool. She designed their beautiful, modern house with all these frickin-frackin' reuse elements, including a swimming pool made out of a shipping container!! Homeschooling her two awesome boys while they waited for word about a daughter they were hoping to adopt from Ethiopia?? OK, am I embarassing myself with all these italics? Yes, of course, but it's not even like it was just all these trappings that made her cool, she was also really smart and interesting and laid back.... why wouldn't we fall deeply and madly in love and spend our lives, us 10, biking to and from from each other's houses, talking to each other on walkie-talkies, grilling fish out on the deck, doing everything together, why not....? OK, forget the fact that I'm a bit of a recluse... that's not important to this fantasy story.

So, we hung out once, and it was great. Easy and fun. Then, DUH, I made the mistake of meeting with them on a Friday afternoon... probably a time when my poor, public-school-going child is ground down to a nub and is tired and hungry and crabby and grumpy and a pretty emotional guy any way you slice it, really just in no position to impress the people that I was hoping to impress with what a great family we are. But really, if we were destined to be together, what did it matter? They would smile understandingly and say, "Oh, my kids do that too" as Jack hissed and spit and threw playground pebbles in my direction. But of course, what happened was, is that they never called us again, and didn't answer emails and calls, and while I do a pretty good job at just accepting lots of things as just what is, I still continue to just have a devil of a time with this one. Stuck in my craw is right. It does not help matters that I drive by their house several times a day. And it does NOT help matters, not one little bit, that I've seen her several times walking down to the river with a stroller, which means that they have their new little daughter. Or that I see her 8 year old son walking by himself with a violin case from a bus stop about 8 blocks away (across busy 7th street)... damn, she's so Free Range Kids! That's awesome!

I'm lonely for them, I don't even know them, and I still find it hard to believe we got dumped. And it comes up ALL too often in my thoughts because of course it hits me at my most tender spot.... did she just think I was a terrible parent? I'm sure I was just doing my normal thing, trying to be cool with Jack but also trying to play through it because my kids melt down a lot, they just do, whether I'm a good parent or not. Are hers just so even keeled that she'd never seen a flip-out happening for no-apparent-reason?? I can't help but also imagine that it appeared that her homeschooled children were happy and centered while my school-going child was a mess. Another total sore spot. Though I do happen to know almost for a fact, that Jack could go to school or not go to school, and he would probably still have made a spectacle of himself with a blazing tantrum several times a week at that age.... thankfully he seems to have mellowed (hear that, dream family??? He's mellowed!).
Of course I know that my real dream family would never judge us harshly and jump to conclusions. And of course I know that I have no idea what was going on for this particular family.... so many other factors that could play into this that I will just never, never know (and ooh that KILLS me! I just want to KNOW!). And of course I know that this is this fabulous opportunity to look at all the stuff that comes up for me around this, just grow and learn and change. But DAMN I'd like a chance to explain myself.... and say, "You've got to be kidding me! If you had any idea what a cool kid Jack was you'd be laughing your socks off while we sipped margaritas while floating in your swimming pool made from a shipping container!"
Oh, life, how you vex me. And does it ever occur to me the tiny hope that this new tiny daughter will really know how to pitch a fit....? Heavens no, the thought would never cross my temporal lobe! Now accepting applications for one very nice and funny dream family of 3-or-more, to love us through the tantrums and the messy kitchens. East side preferred.