Wednesday, February 19, 2014


    Were you one of those kids who made forts out of blankets and furniture when you were a kid? I was. Some of my best childhood days involved forts. 

     Tonight I didn't suspect when I asked, "Where are you?" that I would hear my daughter's muffled voice answer, "I'm in my hidey-hole."  Where is a hidey-hole? I believe it involves a fort of sorts that's located somewhere between childhood and adulthood.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sleigh Riding Party

     There's been a Facebook war lately between a few of us Long Islanders and some of our Floridian friends.   We post pictures of snow and either comment about how pretty it is, or complain incessantly about how tired we are of shoveling, and they post pictures of themselves in shorts or swimsuits and say how lovely the weather is. It's all in good fun.  Until someone gets pissed off.

     But I really don't really care.  I like winter and I like summer.   I don't even mind shoveling snow (except when I can't shovel fast enough and it forces me to cancel my plans).  One of the things I like best about winter, though, are the sleigh riding parties.

     What?  You don't know what I'm talking about?  One winter when our kids were small, one of our neighbors called and invited us to their sleigh riding party.  Don't you get cold out there, I wanted to know?  Won't something catch on fire?  I am a worry wort of the highest order.  No, no one gets too cold, and nothing's caught on fire yet.  We stopped by and had a great time eating, drinking and riding on sleds with the kids.

     Now I look forward to it every winter, but some winters with the timing of the snow, it just doesn't work out.  This year, this weekend, it did.  To make it work you need a good amount of snow, but not TOO much (last year we had TOO MUCH all at once!) and your snow needs to stay for the weekend.  Then you gather your man/woman power and hike all your supplies to your woodsy location.  This takes some muscle and some time.

     When night falls, you light the campfire, turn on the barbecue and take turns riding the sleds down the looooonnnnnng slope (with lighting along the sides and hay bales strategically placed so no one hits any trees).   A snowmobile or two is available to take people back and forth to the house.  Music and strings of lights add to the ambiance, courtesy of a very quiet generator.  

     Everyone had a great time.  My husband had such a great time, he already posted all my pictures on his Facebook wall.  I took a bunch of videos, but they're too dark to see much; you just hear people laughing and whipping by on their sleds, saying things like, "Holy crap!"

     I loved every sleigh riding party we've been to.  In my opinion, it's one of the highlights of winter.   My Southern friends... sorry, but you are missing out on this one!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Creative Freedom and Seagull Heads

Size the hat to the head of the person wearing it before you begin.  
Make sure the beak is short enough so the wearer can see!

Every time I've worked with someone new on a creative project, I've always learned something new.  Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and we all bring something unique to the table of creativity. 

After gluing your beak on the appropriately sized baseball cap,
cut many strips of felt about 1-1/2 inches wide.

Slice the felt into tabs, and then round off the edges of each tab to make feathers.

Using a glue gun, glue each strip of felt feathers onto your cap, beginning at the bottom rim of the cap.

If you're going to ask for help from people, they might ask for very specific directions on how to do the task you've assigned them. Or, they just might want some creative freedom to do it their own way.

Continue making smaller and smaller circles, overlapping the feathers as you go.

Either way, be careful to give clear directions but still allow for some variation in the finished result.  Appreciate that the finished product might look different than you had originally planned, and that's ok. Sometimes I have problems with this myself, but years of working in a preschool changed the way I look at things.  You can give ten children the same set of materials and every one of them will use them in a different way.  Many times you'll be astounded and impressed with their results.

Add an extra strip of feathers on any side necessary to ensure that the center
of the open circle stays roughly near the top of the hat.

Last year I asked a parent to paint two mermaids for me.  She asked me what color scheme, and I asked her what she had in mind.  She told me, and it was something I had never thought of.  The results were AWESOME.  Whenever you ask for help, it becomes a collaborative vision, not just YOUR vision.

Glue on eyeballs of concentric circles in black, white and grey.
Glue a vertical feather on the very top,  just for the sheer heck of it.

Appreciate your helpers, and realize that they'll only enjoy what they're doing if you let them have enough creative freedom to be proud of their creations.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow Peace

looking over at my neighbor's horse corral

     Each year, it is after approximately this many snowfalls that we Long Islanders usually get sick of winter.  I don't know exactly how many snowfalls this is, but I know that the number has arrived, since Facebook is blowing up with comments about how "winter sucks" and "bring on summer." Me, I take a little longer to hate winter, especially when I'm home for the day (school is closed!), the snow is perfect packing snow (great for building) and I don't have anywhere I really need to be.   

     Lately, I've been staying in on snow days, using the time to catch up on laundry or cooking, only going out to take a turn with the shovel on the driveway that would be like an Olympic ski slope if we didn't clean it perfectly. Today was warm for a snow day, though - or is it just that I've grown used to days with temperatures in the teens, so the thirties seems warm?  I decided to go out and wander around just for the fun of it.  

     My dog, Zoey (I like her name with a y), was terribly excited to go out - she loves snow - and she charged over to the neighbor's horse corral to see if her horse friend was outside.  No such luck.  Zoey is two years old - in spite of technically being an adult dog, she's really just a dog-child.  I think she may stay a dog-child for quite some time.  She used her unique antelope-style "I'm SO excited!!!" jumps to spring through the yard into the woods behind the house.  She charged down one of the trails...

     ...and I followed her for a while and then she played a short game of "catch the snowball in your mouth until your mouth gets cold and you have to take a break."  We returned to the yard where I took a picture of my favorite tree...

which looks just beautiful covered in snow.

I made a snow head.  Not a snowman, a snowhead...

     I worked on my snowhead for a few hours, alone with my thoughts and the still falling snow.  I remembered a snowman I made while I was in college, a tall, tall one that somehow came out looking like the statue on cover of the book I was reading for one of my classes.  I thought about a snowman I made with a preschool class I worked in long ago.  We had made the first snowball so big, when we got to the second one, I couldn't lift it up on top.  I asked a guy inside the building to help me assemble our snowman.  Then, years later, I married that guy.  Just a few years ago, I made a snowman with my daughter and our neighbor, who is like another daughter, and I made them both laugh by adding butt cheeks to that snowman.  

      My son opened the back door and shouted, "Mom, what are you making?  Is that an Easter Island Head?"  Hummmm, I guess it is. Sort of. 

Now he's out there making his own snowman. And the snow is still falling.

Soon, I too will be sick of snow and longing for spring.  Just not quite yet.