Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday fun time

Thank you for your kind words following my last post.  I'm hitting my groove again, but blogging isn't reflecting that yet.  Like any habit that has fallen to the wayside, it has been difficult to find/make time to restart...and then my friend Cynthia shared this parent rap on facebook, and I knew you had to see it too.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A truth about culture shock

If you Google an image of culture shock, most of what pops up will be a variation on the theme of a W shaped curve.  The description is this: You are high at home, hit rock bottom in the new culture, reach a new high in the new culture, hit rock bottom after returning home and then readjustment is high again.

Holland crossing sign

More realistic curves have far more ups and downs and several plateaus.  There are names for phases like "surface adjustment", "mental isolation" and "return anxiety".  Until you have experienced living in a culture different from your home, it's hard to understand what all this means, especially how it would be possible to suffer shock once you are "home" again...but that's where I am living these days, and I can attest that it is very real and fairly challenging for someone disinclined to wallowing.

Qatar crossing sign

If I had to plot myself on one of those charts right now with honesty, I would be in a low "mental isolation" phase.  The good news about being at the bottom of the curve is the only way to go from there is up.  I've been through all this before.  I know what it looks like, what it feels like and how it will change from month to month, year to year.  If I get on with it, it will get better, bit by bit...but I can also attest that the process is difficult, possibly never moreso than when one is at "home" because it is easier for people around you (or you yourself!) to comprehend your difficulty when the culture that challenges you isn't the same as that of your birth.

I noticed lately that I haven't been writing: not blogging, not emailing, not journaling...not much of anything where I would be inclined to record and share my thoughts.  I like to keep the negative self to myself, but then I also realized that I am not alone in this.  Culture shock, or in my case reverse culture shock, is a real challenge, and sometimes it is reassuring to find in Blogland that you are not alone.

*I know the pics are a bit random, but I thought they were interesting in relation to different cultural experiences.  One is from Holland; the other is from Qatar.

Art project testimonial

Yesterday afternoon, we hosted an artsy playdate with two new friends.  Before they came over, I flipped through the Autumn Crafts ebook from Artful Parent, and the tie-dye leaf project grabbed my eye.  Simply drip liquid watercolors* or food colouring onto coffee filters cut into basic leaf shapes, and watch the colors spread and mingle.  So easy and oh-so-fun!

 tie-dye leaf project

 Some comments direct from the kiddos:

"This is soooo cool."
"Ooooo, did you see that?"
"Isn't mine the most magicalest leaf in the whole world?"

tie-dye leaves

When my little one initially soaked each leaf with color, I tried to shift her to painting with her watercolor set, but that was far less satisfactory.  The colors were not nearly so intense, and they didn't spread as well.  The drip method was much more exciting.  Even the paper towels we put beneath each coffee filter look amazing.  We have no idea what we want to do with them, but we don't really want to throw them away.  Collage fodder, perhaps?

As for the leaves, we ran them through the sewing machine and made a garland for the girls' room.

tie-dye leaf garland

My 4 year old is obsessed.  She loves this, loves with a capital M as in "Must Do This Right Now."  We were back at it right after dropping off Big Sister at school.

tie-dye leaf project tie-dye leaf project

The possibilities for this are pretty limitless, but don't overlook the easiest one of simply dripping color onto a plain old coffee filter.  The water makes the curves of the filter flatten out, so you'll have big circles in the end.  The special paper makes the liquid spread so well, and the kids love that effect far more than they care about the shapes.  Enjoy!

*I had seen posts about similar projects on Jean's blog in the past, so I knew I wanted to own liquid watercolors and droppers.  I ordered them from Discount School Supply, using the link through her site to support Artful Parent.  Thanks for the inspiration, Jean!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rainbow Neighborly

I finally finished it!

Rainbow Neighborly vest for Ellie

I really do not know why it took me so long to complete this vest for Ellie.  I was off to a fantastic start and then stalled out somehow.  A few rows here and there until I finally acknowledged that holidays are around the corner, cold is here now and I really needed to get this off the needles and onto the kiddo.  It turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself.  The main colour is a cashmere merino blend, so it feels dreamy too.  But what does the kiddo think?

"Oh, Mama!  I love it.  I just do!"

Not that you'd know it from her photo shoot...

Poser in her new vest

Funny face pose in new vest

Ravelry tells me this is actually my 7th Neighborly vest.  Perhaps it's time I work on a new pattern.  I have been a bit knitting-ADD this week, scanning Ravelry for ideas in my spare moments.  I'm very intrigued by these mitts I spied today.  I've never tried knitting mittens before, but they look very approachable.

Have you completed any satisfying projects recently?
Are you planning handmades for the holidays?
I admit I feel a bit overwhelmed in advance.  I sat down today and wrote out a list for gifting, and then I had the urge to hide under my bed until January (ok, not really but...).  I do feel so tremendously blessed to have good friends with whom I can share, but doing so all at the same time...whew!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


It has been a long year of campaigning, and I bet I am not the only person who is beyond tired of the ugliness on both sides.  In the US, we are all entitled to our opinions.  Many of us seem to have forgotten how blessed and lucky is that simple truth.  This video of kids from Democracy Prep School in Harlem is fantastic and gets right to the point.  November 6 is upon us.  It's time to select who will lead the United States in the next 4 years.  Whatever your views, please exercise your freedom and right to VOTE!