Sunday, July 29, 2007

Labor of Love

As some of you know, I have had a big project in the works for Blake's (formerly Chloe's) Preschool teacher Miss Olivia. My days have been spent either thinking this design through or actually working on it. It all started after seeing this quilt that Soule Mama made for her Meme. The parents of the school and I wanted to give Olivia something special this year as a group, instead of giving individual gifts, and after many emails, and in person conversations we decided we would collect money for Olivia to purchase a new video camera, and I would make a keepsake gift to present to her on the last day of school. So, a few weeks back we surprised her with an impromptu party after school one Friday, and gave her an origami money necklace. Then, we got together with the kids on another day to get their little hand prints. I spent the remaining weeks designing and constructing the apron, and then presented it to her on the last day of school this past Friday, during her annual graduation party for the children. She was thrilled ! These pictures are of her, in front of my favorite wooden playhouse in her yard.

The past 10 days, I spent almost every evening in my garage studio working with the circles of hand prints and this lovely vintage reprint fabric I found. The colors were so bright and fun, I fell more and more in love with it every time I picked it up. It also made my weary eye's and body somehow pull through the fatigue I was experiencing around 11pm each night. Listening to KCRW (L.A. public radio) helped to. I feel like I know these two DJ's, Jason Bentley, and Garth Trinidad, quite intimately these day's. Along with my Bernina, they pulled me through to the end.

I based the design of the apron on this pattern by Indygo Junction. I was not able to use the skirt pattern because I had 13 hand print circles and they would not fit on it, so I drafted my own circle. Something I learned from the pattern was to cut out the waistband and the tie's on the bias. Made sense since most of the skirt was on the bias to.

I also made it reversible as the pattern does, and used some vintage napkins I found at an estate sale for pockets. I am not sure that I like the placement of the pockets or how they hang, but I do love the cherries, and the red crocheted detail. I realized after trying this apron on over and over again to figure out where to put the pockets, that I really need a dress form in my studio!!

On the circles, I made bias strips out of red gingham and the waistband print instead of just appliqueing them with a decorative stitch. This added many more hours of sewing, but I liked the contrast of fabric's. I used my monogram function on the Bernina to add the children's names to their hand prints. What I didn't anticipate was how heavy the apron would become with all the added fabric. Yeah, it's the heaviest apron I have ever held. It will be great to wear during a winter day. During the graduation party, after Olivia opened it, she put it on, and it was so hot, that I think her waist must have been dying to breath. We joked and laughed about it. I do think she really appreciated it either way. I have definitely learned from this time, I would choose thinner fabric, and I would not do the bias, or I would not make it keep the weight of it lighter, so it's more wearable.

If you clicked on the Soule Mama link, you saw the photo quilt that Amanda made for her Meme, and you might wonder how did I get to an apron with hand prints from that inspiration. Well, at first I wanted to make a quilt, and use photographs Olivia has taken of the children, (she takes beautiful ones). As time went by and I kept re-thinking the project, I felt she would enjoy and apron more, and that is my thing right now. I have yet to make a quilt, and I didn't want my first one to be something that was for someone else. On top of that, I am not set up to do printing of photo's on fabric yet. Something that Olivia does everyday of school, is jot down the quotes that the children say and she categorizes them into a twice a year newsletter. They are just adorable. So while we were getting the children's hand prints, we asked them to tell us what they loved about Miss Olivia and Circle of Friends Preschool. I wanted to take their quotes and monogram them around the circles on the apron, but there was just not enough room. My plan was to put them on a dish towel to go with the apron, but time ran out. So I printed them out of paper and wrapped a ribbon around it and put it in the pocket for Olivia to keep. She loved it. Maybe in the future I can come up with a design that will showcase the quotes. Luckily we have two more years with Olivia, one's I will surely cherish !

I can't end this post without telling you a little about our Beloved Miss Olivia, and her preschool "Circle of Friends". We found Olivia 3 years ago, after having a terrible experience with a small co-op preschool. Olivia was and still is in my book an Angel in not only my children's lives but in mine as well. She gives her whole heart and soul and more to the children and families in her school. She only has 6 children each day, and focuses on social and emotional literacy through play and all sorts of fun exploration. I often describe her as worldly in her approach. Most mornings, Alan drops off Blake, but when I do, I find that I spend at least an hour there enjoying the children and her interaction with them. I have learned so much about parenting from Olivia, and there have been times when I was heartbroken for some reason or another, and she was there for me to impart her wisdom and humor and a nice cup of English tea to help mend my soul . She is not only my children's preschool teacher, but a true friend in many ways as well. I could go on and on, I wish you could all meet her and see for yourselves, because her presence would change you on some level. She ended the party on Friday with a DVD (she does this annually) of some priceless moments of the children throughout the year. Her lovely talented Son, Robert edited hours and hours worth of footage, and put alot of his own music to it. I am so happy that we will have these memories to show Chloe and Blake. I know they will always remember Miss Olivia, and that they are better little people for being with her in there early years.

This photo below is a corner of Miss Olivia's school. One I have come to love, because she plays the sweetest little songs from these vintage children's albums. Just had to throw that in. Circle of Friend's Preschool could be a whole post in itself. I will do that one day, with lots of photo's to tell you it's story....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Self Portrait Chloe & Blake Style

I was inspired recently while reading one of my newest friend's blog. She is what I like to call my blog pal, instead of pen pal, (did you ever have one of those when you were young ?) Her name is Louise and she lives in Melbourne Australia. It's winter over there right now, so her kids are in school. One of her daughter's teacher's, had the kids lay down on a large piece of paper, traced them, and let them go to town painting themselves.

The pictures turned out pretty funny. The sun was in the kids eyes as they were laying down waiting for Momma to put down the camera and trace them. Patient little one's they were, especially since most of their days involve Momma clicking away lots of photo's.

I figured this would be a great summer afternoon activity for Chloe and Blake. I ended up using my good pattern drafting paper, it's pretty thick weight, and it was the only paper that I had alot of, and that had a large width to it. Don't worry, there is lots left of it, and it's pretty inexpensive.

The End Results...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tribute to Blake

Here is a video that Alan made a couple of years ago. It's footage from the time Blake was born up until he was about 8 months old. Chloe was 2 and a half.

Just a little more narrative so you can understand the conversation that the video begins with. You will see my back, and check out the paper I have in my hands. I was on speaker phone with our friend Jerry going over names for our soon to be born baby boy. Chloe was in the bath tub that evening. Funny thing was, the next morning at 5:30am I woke up in labor, and Blake was born at 7:55 am.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer Camp

Chloe went to The Naturalist Adventure Camp last week. It was the perfect place for her. She really had a wonderful time. There was lots of exploring, learning, and playing. They spent their days at Mission Trails Regional Park, Torrey Pines State Reserve, and Tecolote Canyon Nature Park. Chloe was the youngest child there. The ages ranged from 7 to 13. I think the older kids kept an eye out for Chloe. She even had an helper assigned to her, McClain. She and Chloe instantly fell in love with each other. Everyday when I dropped her off or picked her up, they were hugging. It was so cute. I think the idea of having and older sister for Chloe and a younger for McClain was very appealing. Chloe came home teaching me about all the things she learned, what a delight ! The last day they had a group skit that was based on a Native American Folk story that involved "Mother Spider" and the "Sun".

You can read about the camp here. I highly recommend it. It was developed by two very intelligent and loving teachers from Chloe's school. It is such a nice feeling to take your child to a camp like this, knowing that she will be loved and nurtured and challenged at the same time.

P.S. See more pictures of the week on my Flickr page

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wedding Day

Last weekend our friends Ron and Raluca tied the knot. Alan was one of "two" best men, yes there were two. The ceremony took place in a tiny Romanian Church...which I believe was Catholic and Greek Orthodox "if that is possible"? I found myself wanting to photograph the inside of this church and the ceremony, but it was so small, and the position I was sitting in was not very conducive to capturing the moments. Note to my mother; No, Mom the statue's did not fall over when I walked into the church...

A great time was had by all...

When we got to the reception my friend and Incredible Photographer Ashley, offered me her professional camera to take some shots with. All I can say, is "WOW" what a great camera ! I think Alan got jealous...I spent all evening with the camera instead of him.. Now he knows how I feel about his Love affair with the Mac ! LOL

Alan doing his duty during "The money dance".

This is one of my favorite photo's above....The other best man, Lee. Can you tell what part of his body it is ?

I learned quite a bit from that experience. I have renewed respect for the Wedding Photographer. There is alot of work trying to capture everything. I got so dizzy from shutting one eye, while using my other eye to constantly look into the viewfinder. Ashley was great at setting the camera to where I needed it to be in order to adjust for lighting and focus. I am such a novice photographer...that I know I am not using the correct terms here, I barely know how to use my own camera, but this experience has left me wanting to learn more, possibly take some photography classes.

All the photo's you see on this post are what I took with Ashley's camera. As you can see there were lots of hue's of blue at this wedding, I tried to capture was really beautiful. I have put the rest on flickr under "Wedding". Thanks to Ashley for cleaning them up and sending them over to me !

This is Ashley above after she caught the bouquet...

You should check out her work here, and here. She is not only a wedding photographer but an excellent family/kids photographer. I will be highlighting more of her work in upcoming posts. She has done some beautiful photographs of Chloe and Blake. If you scroll through her gallery's on Ventana Kids you will see us..


Well, I'm back. Last week was one of the craziest weeks we have had in a long time. We had some sort of event to attend almost everyday.

:: A hand print party with Blake's preschool buddies ( to make a gift for his teacher, more on that later).
:: An exciting play date with Benjamin.
:: A wonderful 4th of July Party with great food and company.
:: A surprise "We Love You" Party for Miss Olivia (Preschool teacher).
:: A Wedding " Alan's was the best Man".
:: A Memorial to celebrate the life of our Friend Mike Green.

I found myself more overwhelmed than I have been in a long time, hence, my inability to blog. After many days of reflection, I realized that it was just to hard to blog about my beautiful little life, while my good friend Susie had just lost her husband/soul mate/father of her children to a nine month battle with a brain tumor. I tried many times to write about this...but felt I just could never do Mike or Susie justice. I did come to the conclusion that I could not write another post until I told you about Mike and Susie..and their life together.

I started this blog to record the lovely things in my life so I could not only share it with my friends and family, but so I could look back in years to come and remember. After thinking alot about death, and loss these past few weeks, it finally occurred to me that I could write about something beautiful. Mike's Memorial....

In order to do that, I need to tell you a little about Mike and Susie.

We meet them through a good friend when we moved to San Diego from Michigan 9 years ago. Mike was a fellow Michigander, and Susie had visited the State quite a bit, so we felt at home with them. They were probably our first set of friends that we made in this town. We were grateful for the way they took us in. We joked quite a bit about Michigan, as we do with most Michiganders we meet here. Mike was one of the funniest guys we have met, he did the "Best" imitation of Austin Powers...I think he literally channeled Mike Meyers. He also had a set of Billy Bob teeth that he would randomly break out to crack us all up. Susie, was equally hilarious, and together they were so fun to be around. Over the years they had 2 boys, Beau 7, who is so much like Mike in many ways, and Nik 2, whom they adopted from Russia. We have not spent as much time together as we did in the first few years of moving to San Diego, but have see each other for Birthday Party's, Weddings, etc.

Here is a picture of Mike and Susie at our wedding 5 years ago. Mike is in the Middle, our friend Mark is on the Right

Not sure what was going on in this picture...looks like an old fashion nuggie, but that was Mike and Susie...
always yucking it up !

Susie and I have seen each other more in these past years...doing girls night outs..talks on the phone. One thing that was always evident was the great marriage and partnership that they both had with each other. Mike had a successful painting business. When we bought our house 3 years ago, we wanted to do the painting ourselves to save money, and Mike was so kind to lend us his painting supplies and his business discount at the local Home Depot. He was just that kind of guy, solid, nice, really one of the best! On top of that, he was one of the best father's a child could have.

When the family sent out the invitation to Mike's Memorial, there were specific instructions to wear bright colors, no black, and to come for a celebration, not to cry. They had a cermony outside, at Marina Village, the place where Susie and Mike were married. It was a celebration..there was humor, there were tears, but there was alot of joy for people who were thankful to have had Mike in their lives.

Susie, for one has been so strong through what she has been through, and her family and friends have been so supportive. Just the fact that she could get up and talk about Mike in front of everyone, and still have a sense of humor, was truly amazing. She is one incredible Woman. There was also a great slide show, and video tribute to Mike, they even played the theme to Austin Powers at one point. It was if he was right there talking to everyone. And of course there was a toast to his life.....

It was one of the most beautiful events I have ever attended..and yet the most overwhelming. I still cannot put my thoughts and feelings into words at this point, I don't think I ever will be able to...and I don't think I will ever understand death, especially when it happens to someone in the prime of their life...

What I can do is leave you with this...the Lyrics from a "The The" song.
It was written by Matt Johnson, after the death of his brother.
It's from the Soul Mining Album.

Love is Stronger than Death

Love love love
Love love love

Me & my friend were walking
In the cold light of mourning.
Tears may blind the eyes but the soul is not deceived
In this world even winter aint what it seems.

Here come the blue skies here comes springtime.
When the rivers run high & the tears run dry.
When everything that dies.
Shall rise.

Love love love is stronger than death.
Love love love is stronger than death.

In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch.
All the thoughts unuttered & all the feelings unexpressed
Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath.
But, awoken by grief, our spirits speak
How could you believe that the life within the seed
That grew arms that reached
And a heart that beat.
And lips that smiled
And eyes that cried.
Could ever die?

Here come the blue skies here comes springtime.
When the rivers run high & the tears run dry.
When everything that dies.
Shall rise.

Love love love is stronger than death.
Love love love is stronger than death.

Shall rise. shall rise.
Shall rise. shall rise.

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Can't Bare to Blog

Sorry I have not blogged this week...

There has been to much going on in my life...that I am so overwhelmed...I just can't post.

I promise I will get my groove back this upcoming week...