Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's in the Photo?

Tulips along Michigan Avenue.

Last week, I promised to tell you about the photo I posted for Wordless Wednesday.  Here's the scoop about those beautiful tulips.

After my first mile run during the Mother's Day 5K, I was gasping for air.  Before our little man passed the official 'toddler' mark, I didn't have much time to run.  So, you can imagine the shock in my body when we woke up that day at 5am and announced we're going for a run, a 5K run.

Back to the first mile, I decided to take the very premature breather I was saving for the third mile.  I didn't want to seem too weak, too soon.  So I found my excuse - the lovely rows of tulips along Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.

Mustering a huge smile, I waved to hubby who's strolling the little man in his uber-comfy jogger (we call it 'buggy').  Give me the camera!  These flowers are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l (spoken lengthily and slowly to emphasize how mesmerized I was).  Come on, I know you do that sometimes too.

I can see the perplexed look in hubby's eyes.  Handing the camera won't be an easy feat, especially with the thickening crowd between us.  We are several feet away by now, so I squeezed myself through the anthill of walkers and runners. Camera on hand, I set to complete my little mission to sneak a 'break'.

Snap.  Wait, this angle is better.  Ooopps, focal point out of scale.  Click.  Hmmmm.  I think this bunch will look better.  

There. Perfect.  Mission accomplished!  Breathe.....

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eighty-Eighth

Tuesday Traffic at the Dan Ryan

It was Tuesday morning at ten yesterday.  Everyone is fed and little man is already showing signs he wants to go 'nap-nap'.  Great!  My art bag packed, sample paintings wrapped, car loaded. Power bars and water bottle, checked!  Grandma is all set to take over the fort while I go and head over to a very important 'meeting'.  

I know what you're thinking.  What a relief it will be to have some adult time.  Not too fast.  That day, I was scheduled to meet 25 kindergarten and over sixty first graders for two and a half hours at Beidler Elementary School in West Chicago.  I'll be teaching them art. 

You got it right.  I'll be away from our little man to be with eight dozens more.  We live in the south end.  To get there, I have to drive fifty minutes if there's no traffic which will be a miracle. Perhaps in I-80, but definitely not at the Dan Ryan expressway.   

After an hour of radio tuning, yawning, singing, stretching (while stuck on traffic), I finally made it to the school.  Knowing my luck, parking will be far from the entrance.  Ka-ching! I was right.  Two large paintings, one easel, two bags, what else?  All in all, I already have more than forty pounds to carry.  At least, none are wiggling around like my little man.  

Why won't I just drive close to the entrance, unload my stuff, then park?  Good idea, right.  Not really.  School's parking only accommodates twenty vehicles, the rest have to park at the busy Walnut Street.  I was lucky to have found one.  Either I drive up close and lose my spot or risk lugging all my stuff twice the distance going back.

Where's hubby when I need him?  Far in Indiana working hard to bring home theturkey bacon (that's a metaphor).  All sweat paid off when I saw the eager little faces waiting for me.  In less than three hours, I basked in the glory of being a celebrity to children five to seven year-old. We got busy with our hands, papers, scissors and paints.

Me, with two dozen happy little artists.
( Didn't got a chance to snap a photo of the sixty eager first graders.)

What did I got in return?  A little back-ache, smiles to last for weeks, dozen hugs and over a handful of soon-to-be famous quotes I'll treasure forever.

"What's your name?  That is something."

"Where did you came from? That is very very far."

"Can I ask you something?"

"Are you an artist?"

"I'm an artist too, I think."

"Your hair sparkles."

"Wow!"

"A chorus of Wooowwww!! (again)."

"You know everything."

"You smell good."

"You smell like flowers."

Your eyes are beautiful.  They look like mine.

"My flowers look like leaves."

"Can you take me home with you?"

"Thank you for giving us powers." 
(I think he means, 'for teaching us to make flowers'.  On second thought, maybe he really meant what he said.)

"Do you live around here?  I want to play with you everyday."

"Can I hug you?"

"Me too, can I hug you?"

"Hi, I'm waiting here to give you a hug."
(from the eighty-eighth kid waiting in line)

Who knows, maybe one of them will someday become the President of the United States, or the next Da Vinci.  Or become the first man to discover the new ninth planet (in replacement to Pluto).  I'll look back and say, I knew that kid.

He gave me a hug when he was five.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sandbox

A Child's Play

It's the weekend.   Nice spring weather, play park getting full and I hear the high-pitch cheers of tiny people (a.k.a. children) outside.  It's only a matter of time until our little one realizes he's missing out on the fun.

I love where we live.  Forest preserves and parks are just steps away from our backyard.  But like any other perks, there are few downsides.  For example, keeping the lawn weed-free is almost impossible.  Nature has it's way of relentlessly sending the seeds of the unwanted sprouts blown through our way.

Then, there are the tennis and volleyball courts directly facing the windows of my studio.  I swear they wave at me each day saying, 'We're waiting for you.'  I used to play tennis back in college but didn't got into volleyball that much.  I'm not much of a 'contact sports' person.  First time I tried volleyball and felt the tingling pains in my wrist last for weeks, I vowed to stick with non-contact sports.  

I lost count how many times I told myself, I'll get back into tennis or learn volleyball.  The courts are just right in our backyard anyway.  Oh, the many plans we make, and break.  This is why I don't mind watching the little man play in the sandbox.

We're both able to 'start over' again.  Forgive ourselves on the plans we break.  There, he builds, creates, digs, piles, and explores, and do it all over again.  While he's busy experimenting on new ways to line up mounds of sand into miniature hills, I savor that little 'pause' time for myself.

I'm able to reflect on few things, just few because within ten minutes or so, he'll be wanting me to jump in there.  If I'm lucky, there'll be kids who'll join him and I can resume my 'reflection' time.  Watching the kids play on the sandbox  reassured me that's it's okay if some of my plans don't materialize.   Or if the dreams we built sometimes break, and expectations fall through.

That it's okay to live imperfectly.  Life is a big sandbox, waiting to be explored.  

Maybe this time, I'll dig into mine with childlike wonder to see what treasures await me. 


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Run, Mommy Run.

Still smiling at the first mile.

Last Sunday was Mother's Day.  My Day.  I shouldn't have done anything, right.  Revel in peace in a quiet home while the boys were out.  In my dreams.

Every year for Mother's Day, we go to our cousin's house a little after lunch for a dinner party.  We actually skip lunch since you don't want to stuff yourself and feel too guilty trying out all the sumptuous treats on the dinner table.

Several years ago, I devised a plan to shed our guilt off a little bit.  Wake up at 5am with bloodshot eyes, drive half an hour downtown, have breakfast in our favorite tea shop, rest for a while, then run the 5K to support cancer survivors.

Sounds like an easy feat right?  Only if you don't have a little toddler in tow.  Here's what happens actually.  Wake up at 4am, after more than a dozen attempts from husband to wake me up).  It's interesting to know that when dad says he's going to bed at night, he actually falls asleep.  

When mom says 'I'll go to bed', it really means, cleaning the last bits of mess left, folding laundry, re-checking and adding lists of things to do, rearranging appointments for the hundredth time, and so on and so forth.  Did I say, I was going to sleep.

Okay, so I was finally awake.  I packed the little man's diapers, wipes, drinks (notice it's  in plural form).  Amazingly, little people weighing almost thirty pounds can down liquids twice his weight.  Oh, and don't forget the change of clothes.  Just in case, we get blessed with a big 'blow-out'.  You know what I mean.  Okay, I'll spell it for you.  Mean poopie.

All set.  Don't forget the jogger!  Carrying a squiggly active tot for just half a mile is not my idea of getting fit.  At least, not that morning.  It was Mother's Day, so I didn't have to drive.  I planned on squeezing a nap during the drive.  That was my plan, until I heard Bebo the baby sign bear singing away from the little tube in the van.  

I turn to look at the little man, his big bright eyes beaming with excitement watching the little bear.  All the sleepiness disappeared.  Watching him has been my favorite past times ever since we had him.

We didn't actually run the whole 5K.  We walked part of it and I sprinted the last two miles.  The boys decided to brisk walked it, or I should say hubby did.  Jogger plus tot, equals fifty pounds at least.  Try running with it for a good mile without stopping, and I bet you'll be begging just to sleep the whole day through.

After an hour or so of walking and running, we finished the lap.  We skipped the free McDonald breakfast after much debating.  What's the point, we just concluded a 'let's get fit' mission anyway.  Hooray!  Luckily, the little man dozed off half the time in his cozy stroller.  That's why I was able to run the last two miles.  Otherwise, he'll be wiggling crazy looking for his 'Maymee'.

Back to home.  Hubby carried the sleeping little man to his bed.  We both can't wait to go back to sleep too.  It felt good to start the day right.  Later, we won't feel too guilty piling up the calories from the delicious dinner.  

I said I was going to sleep, right.  But wait, I got to prepare the things we're going to bring later.  I checked on the boys.  They're already snuggled together, sleeping so peacefully.  I can't help but smile.  This is why I love this job.

I might be running a marathon in this race called 'parenthood', but I have my eyes on the prize.  Right here, before my eyes.

So, run mommy run.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sampaguita Garland


Paper Flower Lei by Morning Artist

Sampaguita is a species of jasmine, native to southern Asia.  

This evergreen vine with strong-scented buds is also the national flower of the Philippines. The flowers are strung into leis, commonly offered to welcome guests or adornment in religious altars.  

On Tuesday, I'll be teaching kindergarten students in Chicago how to make their own Sampaguita leis from papers and ribbon.  This is in celebration of the Asian culture awareness week.  

It's very easy to make.  Here's how (Kids should be assisted by adults, especially on cutting.)

1. To make each flower:

- Cut three different size circles from regular printer paper (small, medium, large).  Largest about 2 inches in diameter. 
- Cut holes in the middle.  
- Glue together all three pieces on top of each other.
- Fold and crumple, and form into a flower bud.

2 . To make the leaves:

- Cut out two leaf shapes from green paper.  
- Draw the leaf veins with black pen (colored pencil for kids).
- Cut holes in one end.

3.  Stringing and forming the leis:

- Measure and cut right length of yarn and ribbon
- Tie first knot, about an inch from end ribbon (this is to prevent the leaves and flowers from falling.
- String two leaves, then one flower.
- Tie a knot after the first set of flower and leaf are strung.
- Repeat above steps, until all flowers and leaves are strung.

Tie the two ends of the ribbon together to finish.  

Enjoy your new lei!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

iPhone Sleeve Insert


I designed this new insert that goes with the 

I took a photo of the iPhone
then customized the apps icon with my own images.

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Summer iSkins



My take on the popular iPhone Skins.  

Protect your iPhone, iPod Touch or any phone or mp3 players of similar dimensions, while toting it in style. The cool colors are sure to splash you with added inspiration in school or at work.

You can access your gadget's 'Home' button just by pressing the decorative button on the iSkin. To put it on, insert the iPhone/iPod touch at the bottom first, then pull the upper part of the sleeve, then slide the iPhone/iPod touch in. 

It is stretchable so it will fit snug. When charging, just pull the lower part of the iSkin. Hand-crocheted with easy care acrylic. It is durable yet has a soft feel to it. Just slip it on your little think tank. 

Then, get the 'wow' effect from your classmates and peers when it's time to pull it out. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chocolate


Sweets don't interest me as much as spices.  

Two years ago, my husband succeeded in getting me into chocolates.  It stared with that little espresso bite.  An inch of dark chocolate cube with rich espresso filling in the middle.  A powerful dose of caffeine enough to wake up a sleep-deprived gal.  

Then, they say the rest is history.  There's chocolate mousse, cafe mocha, chocolate martini, chocolate power bars and granola cereals with dark chocolate.

So, here's to all the chocolate lovers - a rich dark brown sleeve for your iPhones.  

To remind you of all the sweet things in life.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Black Saturday


The beauty of black. 
Classic, timeless. 
Everlasting.

An insignia of loss.
The grace of defeat.
Token of grief.

Symbol of darkness.
Feelings kept.
Unfulfilled dreams.

It's petals wither.
New buds sprout.
Sign of hope.

A new beginning."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We Card Hard


Credit cards, business cards, driver's license, gift cards, membership cards, pledge cards, appointment cards and card-size bill folds.   Did I miss anything?  Oh, yes.  Photo cards, moo cards, coupons and memory cards.  I'm sure the list goes on.

Is sifting through the ever-growing number of cards getting tougher?  Why not put them in color-coded sleeves.  Business cards in black.  Credit cards in red (red, to signal 'stop' or 'pause' before using it).  Yellow for others.  

Plus, you won't end up losing everything, in case that precious wallet or purse gets lost.

Isn't that clever?

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, May 4, 2009

Charming Coasters



It's not even Wednesday, and I was left 'wordless' for a minute or two.  That was after I opened my nifty package from Wood Pond Designs.  Out came these gorgeous quilt coasters.  

Beautifully well made and packed carefully.  This is why I love buying handmade.  The artist's careful attention to detail is bar none.  The personal touches make it even more special.

These call for a toast!

Caching In


So, you're in art, craft, or trade show.  You meet someone and he asks for your business card.  You say 'Wait, let me get one'.  At this point, you're a little bit panicky.  Your precious cards got somehow lost amongst the pile of mounting flyers and items you've accumulated.

The answer to your dilemma, the Card Cache.  I came up with another fun design with two things in mind - simple and convenient. 

No more card-hunting, just caching in.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hooked


I have a confession to make.  The second time I picked up crocheting again, I was hooked.  That was two years ago, when my ultra-stretched belly was growing a baby.  Sleep was rare in those last few weeks before the little one decided he's ready to come out.  To while away the time, I thought I'll give crocheting another try.  

So much have changed since I first learned the craft.  I was sixteen when mom first taught me.    From home decor to fashion, it found it's way to the hearts of many.  Crochet has evolved to be a prevalent craft for even the younger generation.

For me, it's an 'art' by itself.  Just like any medium, it can be articulated into many unexpected art forms.  Someday, I plan to build a six foot fiber installation using crochet.  The type that will make one stop and wonder, 'That was crocheted?'

But I'll save that for another day or year.   Today, it's jewelry-making.  

With my hook, of course.
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