Monday, September 8, 2014

Too Much for One Week!

Lucia certainly fit a lot in to her first week of school - from showing up at the right class at the right time, making friends and trying out for the novice crew team, to class Saturday morning followed by a Black Belt test, she managed it all with aplomb. The whole family, including Nonna and Toto, as well as family friends and fellow athletes, showed up to support her as she was initiated in to a new stage of her Tae Kwon Do career. 

Here is what her "sensei", or instructor, said about her during the ceremony:

"Lucia is a freshman at --- school here in---.  She has been practicing Tae Kwon Do for four and a half years, with the last two years as a brown belt.  Lucia enjoys rowing, reading, drawing, writing poetry, and taking care of her family's chickens, when not attending class".

He further explained the significance of obtaining a Black Belt:

"It is said that out of every 100 students who begin training, only five will make it to black belt.  Many people believe that black belt is the end of their training, and that they mastered the art.  In fact, it is only the true beginning of the art.  They must now walk further on long paths which will hopefully lead to mastery of the art and enlightenment of the self".

Congratulations, girl, we are so proud of you!

Breaking boards.
Happy family!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chickens and Golf

Summer came and went!  Here are a few highlights, with a short Q and A for each photo.

1. What do chickens and golf have in common?  
Not much, you would say.  Except that our neighbor is a backyard chicken farmer who also happens to coach golf.  Claudio casually mentioned to him one day this summer that Clara was interested in learning how to play. He insisted that both girls attend the golf camp he runs each summer, free of charge, since we are his go-to chicken care takers when he goes on vacation.  How cool is that?  The girls had a fabulous time.  Clara missed week two because she was in Chile with Claudio, the lucky duck.   Let's hear it for bartering, or being friendly neighbors.  You never know what adventures may be in store!

2. Who are these hotties?  
Melanie, my dear college friend, came to visit while Claudio and Clara were away in Chile.  We had some much needed girl time.  This brave woman recently completed a degree in interior design, many years after receiving her undergraduate degree in art history.  She likes this painting by Claudio's Spanish friend and former colleague. 

3.  How's that book?  
We took Melanie to Princeton for some ice cream and window shopping.  Eva was drawn to this sculpture on Palmer Square.  As she was trying to discern the print on our character's page, I lamented, out loud, that I did not have my camera with me.  A kind young man, who happens to be a photographer, offered to take a photo and send it to me.  We have a joke in our family that my father has a habit of inviting strangers over to dinner.  Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I invited him and his girlfriend over for dinner and they will be coming next month, after their trip to Turkey, where he plans on shooting lots of photos.  

4.  Did you clean out any closets or otherwise complete an item on your "summer home improvement list"?  
Oh yes I did, thank you.  I overhauled Clara's sewing area behind the couch.  No more scraps sticking out of wicker baskets.  She hasn't asked where they've gone so I won't tell. 

5.  Was it a sweet return?
Clara and Claudio were in Chile for nearly a month.  Her best friend went along with us to pick them up at the airport and the reunion was more than touching.

6.  Daddy's little girl. Need I say more?

7.  Who are these crazy ladies?
Old school friends.  I mean, we're not old, we just have known each other, well, since about 6th grade.

8.  And these princesses?
Our children.  They played together like they were old friends too.  This only strengthens the bond we moms share.  Special note: See how that tiara keeps changing heads?

9.  More of the princesses.

10. More of the princesses

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Living with Crafters

The multicolored, plastic beveled beads are my favorite.  At least the sparkles do you the favor of announcing their presence.  A low swipe and a lob in to the plastic recycling basket below the kitchen sink marks the beginning of their new life cycle.  I'm slowly dumping the junk, but at least it's getting recycled, I think.  And then in a few hours, I repeat the process, the relative size remains the same, colors are even similar - brilliant hues of pink, purple red - this time it's round and plastic, a mini-rubber band intended for another bracelet, but it got left behind.  

Have you ever tired of hearing yourself mutter the same complaints?  It's relentless, the treadmill.  He asks me why I'm not more interested in putting in just a few moments of the day on the treadmill.  Why would I want to do that?  I'm already on one.  It keeps going, I can put myself in sync with the rhythm, or I can hop off, but it'll keep on going, keep on going, wuap, wuap, wuap, wuap.  

I wrote the above a few months ago.  Things have improved since then regarding "the stuff".  Can't wait to post pictures of our new look in the school room!  Stay tuned!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Moving Furniture - Repurposing what you already have (with "before" and "after" photos)

I know, I'd better be careful about what I say here.  Don't let your imagination run wild; I moved furniture  yesterday, with little actual participation from outside parties, and I must say, I'm rather pleased with the results. 

My goal was to establish a more user-friendly kitchen "central command" for our family calendar and messages. Up to now, the calendar has been buried under a pile of papers on my desk in the family room and deadlines and appointments have been nearly missed because we lacked a "long view" of upcoming events.  Our kitchen phone cupboard only accommodated what you see pictured, with outdated phone books and other papers stuffed inside it. Here I present my


I began with my grandmother Nou-Nou's chest of drawers, thinking it would do the job, and might give me more storage space as well. But I didn't even need to finish putting the drawers back to realize that it was just too large for the space, see below:

So then I started mentally walking through each room in our house to see if there was anything a little daintier.  "Ah, yes!  Clara's bedside table!" Well, it's not a bedside table, really, but a small set of drawers. Perfect!  However, Clara, the artist that she is, required some diplomacy.  She wasn't going to let go of her cute chest of drawers for a shabby chic telephone table with a large paint stain on the front.  No way. So we had a teachable moment in which she learned about the art of negotiation (as opposed to pouts and sighs).  I managed to sell her on our handsome front hall table - "Very cute, nice drawer for your notebooks, and spindly legs so that dust won't accumulate and exacerbate your allergies!" Here it is, newly set up in her room:

And then, before she changed her mind, I went about setting up my new "command central" in the kitchen.

AFTER PICTURE (version a):

I like the drawers.  They're already filled with pads of paper, pushpins, tape, sandwich bags and cloth food bags. However, a calendar just push pinned in to the wall is a recipe for frustration for small hands.  So I decided to add a bulletin board (which was gathering dust in our school room/exercise room), even if it is a little "busy".  All charm with no practical benefits is no charm, in the end. 

AFTER PICTURE (final version):

The flower painting is by a Chilean artist.
The bulletin board provides that firm surface for the calendar, and there's even space for the girls' artwork and a recipe print-out. Claudio said that the space invites you to write something.  In fact, Eva left me a note after I finished with the new look (sorry it's sideways, I'll have to fix it later).  I'm glad she approved:

I then got to work on the front hall.  My sleek and slender table was no longer; I would have to make do with the telephone cupboard.  I tried it out with an unusual sculpture we had in our bedroom. Claudio's opinion was that we could be featured in the book "Weird New Jersey" and the girls thought it looked medieval:

Back to the drawing board, keeping in mind Claudio's fondness for color and good cheer, as well as the problem of size.  I needed a small to mid-sized picture above it.  And then I thought of Eva's painting.  It still needs framing, it's on the large side, but it satisfies hubby's requirements and is welcoming. A Chilean ceramic plate featuring the hills of Claudio's beloved Valparaiso completes the look. And I present, shabby chic telephone cupboard cum front entrance cupboard:

Do you have a household project you've been putting off because you're not prepared to invest in new materials?  Start by looking at what you have with new eyes.  You might come up with something you really like both for its beauty and its functionality.  I would love to see your before and after photos!