Super Creatures!

The past two Saturdays there have been heaps of community-wide, artistically-minded and strange events happening in Charlottesville. In fact, the entire weekend of April 11-14th was overflowing with creative energy. The Tom Tom Founders Festival brought hundreds of musical performances and innovative thinkers to local microphones and parks. We spent a good portion of Friday hanging out at the McGuffey Art Center for the, now annual, block party. Kids were going nuts (think: dancing, big foam cubes, snow cones, climb-able sculptures…) while the adults felt a sort-of hipsterbia, indie art camaraderie. The next day of the TomTom, there was a big family-friendly picnic celebration at Lee Park but we decided to stay home and just be.

Ever since our dating, college days, Aaron and I have kept a day set apart from the rigors of the other six. Call it a Sabbath or day of rest or just Wednesday- it has been an anchor for our relationship and a respite from the pressures of maintaining a certain pace of living. Over the years our day of rest has changed from week-end to mid-week and back. Currently, Saturdays are our “family day”. We don’t commit to activities (even really, really fun ones), as a rule. Instead, we go with the flow as the day unfolds. So, on TomTom Saturday we stayed home and played games, made food, and I painted everyone’s faces like the Avengers. See if you can guess who is who…

dylan avengerpierce avengerjudah avengerboys avengersdaddy avengermama avenger

This weekend, Aaron was really pumped about going to the Stan Winston Arts Festival of the Moving Creature at UVa (uh, who wouldn’t be pumped?!). A friend, who is one of the instructors in the course on creature making, invited us to participate in the parade. We didn’t commit but an hour before the parade was to begin, we decided it was a go. I scuttled up into our attic/crawl space and dragged out bits and pieces from the stuffed animal costumes that I made in college. The boys put on slippers and wigs and masks and tails, in addition to the stuffed animal accessories. Then we all squeezed into the car and headed over to The University (as it’s called in these parts).

Later, Aaron and I talked about how amazing the experience was; how this town offers so much wonder for our kids. They were right there when a giant alien ant-thing battled a huge, blobby, leopard octopus and then went on to attack the Alderman Library.

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From beyond that mayhem, a mechanical elephant approached, luring the children closer to its whirring gears with bubbles (and apparently by pooping candy). Hundreds of people blocked traffic, taking to the streets, surrounded by creatures overhead and amongst the crowd. There were balloons. There were lion-dancers. And that silly ant even attacked a Prius on its way to the field of moving trees. Awesome.

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Everyone went to bed early that night- I’m sure the dreams were intense.

The next day we biked a few miles from our home to Charlottesville Mennonite Church. Afterwards, we stayed for an impromptu potluck lunch and then we pedaled off to the Annual Children’s Bike Rodeo sponsored by Community Bikes. (Check out our cameo on the news.) Judah’s preschool teacher, Shelly Stern, was one of the organizers of this fun and informative event. Shell asked me to help with the design of the flyer and t-shirts this year- so fun!

bike rodeo flyer4The boys had a blast and we all learned some great things about biking in this town: the boys learned how to signal when turning and I learned how to properly load a bike onto a city bus. Exhausted, we cycled on home.

Such a rich and full few days of adventure!

I can’t wait to see what pops up next weekend…

Busy Business

Lately, it seems that my wall clocks are spiraling out of control, spinning their faces off, coils and numbers shooting all over the place like bottle-rockets gone wrong. Time is off the chain and barking at the neighbors.

I am starting a business.

Melding my art background with my training and passion for design, I have begun building a creative division connected with Piedmont Paint & Finish– my good friend’s painting company.

Pigment will specialize in color, as the name suggests. We will offer color consultation (hourly and by the project).

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In our showroom/shop, you will find samples of custom paint techniques, re-fabbed painted furniture and hand-made furnishings from local designers. Because of our on-going relationship with major, national paint suppliers, we can offer personalized service enhanced by exceptional products.

There are still many loose ends that are being attentively woven into the pattern of this new and exciting business. But each day brings me and my partner closer to inviting you into an original and vital experience with color.

I’ll let you know when we put the clocks back up on the freshly painted walls and the doors are ready to open.sign no border

Sneak peek…

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Color Me Badd

Best name for a tanning salon: Color Me Badd. In Detroit. In the nineties. When I went back to take a picture of this magical gift of culture and signage, it was nowhere to be found. I swear, it was real. (This was before the true coming-of-age of the interwebs, mind you.)

Today was a colorful day, and not always in the best sense. My son contributed some colorful behavior: slamming doors, yelling, crying, etc. And I offered some colorful language, out of earshot of aforementioned kid, barely. Once that was resolved and Thing 1 was off to kindergarten, I made rainbow popsicles with Thing 2.

We used orange juice, ’cause it’s what we had, added some Elderflower syrup, dropped in some food coloring, and poured it all in the amazing Zoku pop maker.

IMG_5737IMG_5745“The colors match my sweater!”

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It was a great lesson in color mixing and a decent lesson in patience. While we waited for each color layer to freeze, Judah and I played Chinese checkers for added flair (It was his idea that we each use two colors of marbles).

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Bright, fun and delicious.

Super Choice Champion Chart

Since the end of winter break, it’s been a ragged transition into the heave and ho of routine. My five-year-old is especially having a rough go of it…

There have been several freak-outs and not a few fights.

Tired tears are flowing soaking many late, late nights.

I’ve had it with the shouting, the whining and the like.

And if I see those eyes roll once more,

I swear I’ll wreck your bike.

I’ve got something for you, you snotty, hissing child,

(Especially my first-born, who is neither meek nor mild)

Shut up. Sit down. (And here comes the kicker…)

“I love you, sweet boy. Have another sticker.”

So, under the wise and loving guidance of my step-mom, I made each of the boys a behavior *star* chart. First night: great success!

I’ll keep you posted…

judah super choice chartpierce super chartIf you want one for your sweet, obedient child, I am taking orders for custom charts :).  They are 8.5″ x 11″, laminated for use with dry-erase markers and so stickers can be removed/reused. trouble.trace@gmail.com

Scarf it Up

Delicious DIY project of the day: cheap, cheap T’s sliced into tasty scarves.

Dirt-cheap t-shirts have become a vice. I have a basket full, just waiting for some scissor love. I have made costumes, bags, headbands, dresses, play food, and more out them. Locally, I paw through the 5 for $1 bins at an otherwise obnoxious, and (for the sake of peaceful small-town living) unnamed) thrift store.

I even found a book on altering t-shirts second-hand. (Yes, I am a firm believer in the Thrift Guides from a strange and frugal spiritual realm.)

T-shirts and me go back a long way. In high-school I was making dresses and pants out of vintage He Man sheets and the like. And then I started chopping t’s.

Here are some more recent additions…

Usually, I won’t spend more than 10 to 15 minutes on a t project, but every once in awhile I settle in for a half hour or so of pinning and sewing.

Today, I made some scarves while I watched old school Speed Racer cartoons with the boys.

  • Lay out the t on a cutting mat
  • Slice off the bottom hem
  • Cut 1 1/2″ strips horizontally across the shirt (not a continuous spiral) up to the bottoms of the sleeves

  • Pull and stretch the strips to lengthen and so the edges roll

  • Cut an extra strip that is about 18″ in length from the chest area of the t to use a a tie for the bundle of strips
  • Stretch the extra strip and wrap the bundle of strips
  • Stitch the ends in place

  • Wear and pretend that the vines/octopus tentacles/mutant earthworms are strangling you, fashionably

What are some t-shirt projects that you love?

Rack ’em, Kid!

I brought two of these wooden, spice-rack-shelving-thingies home from Circa with visions of organized rows of tiny toys marching through my mind. Sure enough, thanks to a salvaged piece of convex-quarter-round-trim-molding (?), several screws and anchors and I had a classy set up for the boys’ exponentially increasing collection of Playmobil guys.

Basically, I leveled the molding, marked it and drilled pilot holes for two screws. I put two plastic anchors in the drywall, double-checked the level, and installed the molding. Next, I hung the shelf so that the inside top edge rested on the open edge of the molding. I slapped on a little wood glue and taped that sucker in place overnight. The next morning, Judah and I lined up the little dudes in their new barracks. Remarkably, the boys enjoy the display enough to put their toys back in place at the end of play time.

Tip o’ the week: If kids know where items belong, they will put them there with very little resistance and/or assistance. (Bonus if your storage system looks rad.)