Quest for the Spark (Book One)

Quest for the Spark (Book One)

“Quest for the Spark” by Tom Sniegoski.
Based on the World of Bone created by Jeff Smith.
My boys read the original Bone series through multiple times each.
I didn’t have the patience or the eyesight to deal with the graphic novel format.
Now it’s rolled back around to my younger boy’s turn to choose our read aloud.
Quite earnestly, he handed me this newer Bone series.
Assured me they were written as regular novels.
And promised I would enjoy it.
I was skeptical.
What was a “Bone” anyway?
And why were they hanging out with two humans, two hair rat creatures, a spirit and a racoon?
Squashed my doubts down.
Started reading.
Turns out my boy was right.
The characters do work.
The story is entertaining.
We’ll finish this first book day after tomorrow.
Then onto the next two.
… I’m especially interested in finding out what happens to the hairy rat guys and their dead squirrel…
Just counted how old our reading streak is.
Today was day 1,281.
Finding the time to read together grows ever more challenging as the boys get bigger and their schedules busier.
But all those 15-minute reading moments. the stories and  the adventures we’ve shared are adding up to become something quite substantial.
The reading streak continues to be an important part of our family dynamic.
Can’t say enough about reading aloud as a family.
Once again,
Thank you to Alice Ozma and her father for being the inspiration for our own reading streak. 
Key in a Cage

Key in a Cage

Dealing with a bit of after-Christmas blues.
All the preparation.
Then the day finally comes.
And goes.
No matter how I reason with myself,
There’s always some disappointed crankiness that follows.
Hand in hand with post-holiday let down,
Comes the creeping emptiness that swallows inspiration.
What to make next?
Silence answers.
As energizing and right as a stream of inspiration and ideas feel,
That empty nothingness is part of the process too. 
Nothing to get worked up over.
Rested a few days.
Watched movies.
Goofed around with the kids.
Meandered through an antique store.  
Studied and touched everything that caught the eye and the imagination.
Sorted through tools and supplies in the studio.
Tucked some older items away.
Pulled others out to enjoy.
 Pushed through that foggy lethargic feeling enough to pick up the
  • Coiled wire
  • Gold 24 gauge wire
  • Jewelry plier and
  • A pair of snips
Slow going at first. 
Kinda like walking on a treadmill right after gorging on heavy fatty food.
But the habit of hands shaping, twisting and making took over.
And pulled mind and imagination back into line.
In the end,
What I finished with was not quite what I initially visualized.
The cage larger and rounder.
Almost a foot tall and eight inches in diameter.
An antique key-as-perch added in.
There was going to be a bird in there somewhere.
But a bit of ribbon with a message ended up there instead.
The more I make,
The more each project ends up as a conversation with myself.
The mind wanders.
The hands answer.
The process never fails to surprise.
Wrapping Without Waste

Wrapping Without Waste

Wrapped packages under the Christmas tree.
So pretty to look at.
Kiddies happily shaking shiny boxes bedecked in ribbons.
Excitedly anticipating the glut of holiday loot.
Who doesn’t love that?
Our wrapping traditions are horribly wasteful.
Whole aisles in stores devoted to
Wrapping paper,
Tissue paper,
Gift boxes,
Shredded paper to fill those boxes,
Paper gift bags,
Bows and ribbons.
Designed and produced for one time use.
Then mostly swept into trash bags & left curbside.
For folks trying to be environmentally responsible,
One small way to make a difference is to rethink the wrapping thing.
 My preferred wrapping alternative is to use furoshiki.
Think fabric instead of paper.
Tying knots instead of taping.
Folding away one year.
Ironing and reusing the next (and the next and the next).
If you’re interested in making your own fabric wraps,
Word of warning.
In the short term, wrapping with fabric is not a cheaper option.
It also takes some time to cut and finish the fabric edges.
But the results are pretty, functional, reusable and creates no waste.
Which in my book, makes it worth the extra effort.
 Every Christmas, my boys also receive “practicals.”
New wearables to replace the ones they’ve worn out or outgrown.
Socks, pajamas, hats, gloves, etc.
Rather than using multiple gift boxes and tissue paper,
I fill a single basket for each boy.
And cover with a square of fabric.
Old school picnic style.
 There is no gleeful tearing or ripping of paper at our house Christmas morning.
But there are still twinkly lights.
Colorful wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree.
Plenty of anticipation.
And a little less waste.
Mini Bird Nest Ornaments

Mini Bird Nest Ornaments

A bird fact my littler son shared with me:
Birds make their nests out of whatever is available around them.
He went on to conjecture that
Since the previous owners of our home were dirty,
It would explain the bird nests built from trash we discovered on our property…
Out of the mouth of babes.
My response? 
We’ll put out baskets of scrap yarn and ribbon in the spring.
Let’s see what the birds do with that.
That was the inspiration I needed for the bird nest ornaments.
(The “whatever is available” part.  Not the “trash” part.)
 When I first bought the half dozen miniature bird nests,
I intended to needle felt a little bird to sit in each nest.
Perhaps add a cluster of needle felted eggs as well.
But Christmas is fast approaching,
I’ve run short on the time and patience necessary to finish that project.
Considered gluing three glittery silver balls in each nest.
Thinking to put eggs, if not birds, into the nests.
But decided the look was too “straight from the craft store.”
Loved the idea of adding whatever was available instead.
Just like a bird building its nest,
I rummaged through my studio to see what I might add to each nest ornament.
What I gathered included:
  • Broken jewelry
  • Faux red berries
  • Feathers
  • A few gold beads
  • Jingle bells
With jewelry pliers and gold wire in hand, I started the nest ornaments.
 Though faster than needle felting birds,
It was still slow and delicate work to snip and stitch in the pieces.
 Fortunately, my lightweight found objects took only a few wire stitches to hold each in place.
Usually, I prefer systematic and orderly designs.
(My obsessive compulsive self loves grids and repeat patterns).
For the nests, I attempted to add an element of randomness.
Yes, every nest has a jingle bell and feathers.
But I tried to make each nest a little different.
Here they are.
Can’t quite decide if I like them or not.
I achieved that hint of randomness.
But the ornaments are a little messy looking too.
Still, that “ah-ha” moment of what to make was a good one.
I enjoyed the process of making them.
Now there are a half dozen new ornaments for the tree.
And I think they add something hanging there.
So it’s all good.
Animal Farm

Animal Farm

“Animal Farm” by George Orwell.
It’s a good one.
One boy was so intrigued he insisted on reading ahead on his own.
He just “had to know” what happened next. 
The other boy was content to let the chapters unfold each morning during our read aloud time.
We experienced a moment of silence after I read the last sentence of the book to them.
After which, one of them solemnly said,
“That was a good book.”
Our favorite line?