I’m running away from the fact that my little man is entering full time Kindergarten by throwing an “end of summer” obstacle course party. I’ve been dreaming up this event since I participated in the Warrior Dash and Color Me Rad races and saw the excitement on my kids’ faces.
We work hard this week to set up the obstacles we’ve imagined up for this “Mini Rainbow Warrior Dash.” Everyday, we do a little something to prepare. We trim branches in the deep dark woods and in the forsythia fort, rake out all the leaves and sticks and small stumps. We paint low branches orange to let kids know to crawl under or climb over. My team of kids love to trim branches with our shears and to paint non-traditional objects, so they are really into this.
Certain kids who have thought up a certain obstacle take charge of specific projects.
Friend H designs the “Lazy River,” made with a found playground slide, dry lily stalks and river stones. We’ll be adding the hose on low water flow.
Little J and Friend A think of jumping over fire, and after convincing them against real fire, we brainstorm a way to represent fire instead. We use real fire wood with cardboard triangles painting red, wedged into the cracks between logs.
Little K thinks to use our small collection of hoola hoops. We hang them from branches of our crab apple tree so kids can lunge through the hoops.
My ideas are incorporated too. I have simple ideas, like hopping on slate stones, skipping through the spokes of a ladder, pushing rolling toys around a chalk road on the driveway…
…using caution cones and hay bales borrowed from Big K’s work, and taking advantage of our more natural playground elements, like the sandbox, the deep dark woods and our forsythia fort.
All together we have 16 kid friendly obstacles.
The kids try a dry run. We iron out some wrinkles, like undetected stumps and prickers, and have a record so far of 2 minutes 45 seconds, held by Friend H.
The kids help me with every aspect of this set up.
Each obstacle can be used individually for an afternoon of fun with kids.
If you like any idea in particular, you are welcome to use it!
We are inviting our friends over to play tomorrow. We’ll see if anyone can break Friend H’s record.
Stay tuned for a head cam movie of the obstacle course after the race. My talented Brother-in-Law has agreed to be the photographer during the event. Thanks Mick. And thank you Big K, for being so flexible with these big plans, for bringing us hay and cones, for weed whacking the forsythia fort and helping me lug all the heavy stuff. You rock babe!
After our visit to the Worcester Art Museum we are inspired by Charline von Heyl’s The Wall at WAM and by Ellsworth Kelly’s Orange White. We are most influenced by the simple shapes and bright colors.
I make prints of Ellsworth Kelly’s Orange White and offer them to the the kids as a provocation with the DIY liquid watercolors we made together.
Little J and a friend, both 5 years old, start by tracing the shapes with color. Then, they fill in the shapes with marks, followed by filling in the rest of the spaces. Little K, 3 years old, thinks, “screw this, I’m gonna dump this glass of black liquid watercolor over the paper and see what happens.” He asks me for another paper. His marks are done only with red paint, his favorite color.
Finished art inspired by art.
Epilogue: After I put down the camera and turn my back to clean dishes at the sink, the kids find syringe-type medicine dispensers and use them add more liquid watercolor to the papers. The images dry pale and look like a tie dye sunset.
We take all the markers in the house, fat ones, skinny ones, permanent and washable, smelly ones and very expensive art store markers. One by one, we test each marker on paper to see if the ink is dry. We make 2 piles of markers: the ones that still work and the ones that are dry. We have about 30 dry markers when we’re done.
We categorize the markers into 5 color families. Each family goes into a glass of water, upside down without the cap. We leave the markers steeping in water for a full 24 hours.
Voila, free liquid watercolors. For a more thorough tutorial, see finding my marbles.
Warning: permanent markers, make permanent paint. Use caution if you want to keep your skin and clothes from getting stained.
We bring our sketchpads with us to the museum. The boys think of these books as investigation journals, thanks Sid the Science Kid.
Me: “When you find something that really interests you, we’ll sit down and draw it.” Sketchbooks are great for documenting what you see. You can write your ideas in words or draw what you see.
The Late 20th Century Gallery is where we spent most of our time.
We see a Kandinsky, we study the Black Garden Wall by Louise Nevelson, and we talk about what the kids call the “black square,” Plato’s Cave by Robert Motherwell. Plato’s cave brings up the most interesting discussion.
“What do you see.”
“A black square.”
“Is this art?”
“No. Yes.” (I can see they’re not really sure of this question.)
“What else do you see?”
“I think something is hiding in there.”
“What would be hiding in blackness.”
I read the plaque on the wall next to the art work and this is what we learn: Robert Motherwell was known as an intellectual and an artist, whose task he thought was to reveal the contents of the unconscious mind. Plato’s Cave gives us the experience of light and air, meditation and mimic’s the play of shadows on the wall of a cave.
artist, Nam June Paik, worked named, “Robert Goddard”
Nam was a composer, performer and artist, the inventor of video art. In this piece Nam pays homage to Robert Goddard, technological ancestor, and his invention of the liquid fueled rocket.
We spend the most time in front of the piece. There is no question why…there are blinking lights, televisions flashing colorful images…the boys are drawn in. Little J and Little K have a seat in front of this piece and choose to draw.
We brave our first visit to an art museum, a to do item on our summer wish list. On a Sunday, Big K is at work, mama and her boys set off to check out some art, as Big K would say, “doin’ our Artsy Fartsy stuff.” We stay for an hour, a perfect amount of time, it seems.
As we drive there, we discuss what we might see, and we think about museum etiquette.
These rules remind the kids of the library and they keep talking about our visit to the library.
We follow a map of the museum, and I take their lead.
The first impressive art piece we come across is The Wall at WAM.
You catch a glimpse of the mural as you walk down a hallway and BAM, the room opens up,
balconies inviting you to take in the whole airy view.
Bright orange background, black marks covering the walls, brightened by natural light.
The kids’ eyes get wide, they point, they say, “WOW.”
Me: “How do you think this was made?”
Little J: “Ladders and paint.”
I read the sign, paired with the piece, out loud to the boys.
“Charline von Heyl…drive towards abstraction…desire to invent something that cannot be named and that challenges the eye in unexpected ways…imaginative, experimental…extreme in her use of vivid colors…excel at creating paintings with a sense of play between defined and indeterminate forms, open ended drawing…elements that reinforce a composition that ingeniously travels back and forth across the wall.”
“Von Heyl’s inspiration for this commissioned mural, part of the Museum’s Wall at WAM series, was Ellsworth Kelly‘s Orange White, a 1961 abstract painting in the Museum’s collection in the new late 20th Century galleries.”
I try to read the parts of the mural’s description that would make the most sense to the boys, so I don’t lose them in the big words and ideas.
The parts that do make sense, pull them in and remind us of our art work at home…bold colors, lines that travel back and forth, playful, experimental and imaginative.
To celebrate the end of a full and adventurous summer, we are planning a “mini rainbow warrior dash” for the kids and all their friends.
The kids have seen me run in fun races all summer. They got to stroll along with us in Color Me Rad. They have so much fun at these events that I thought to create an obstacle course suited for children.
Combining the themes from races, we came up with a rainbow warrior dash. The kids and are are in brainstorming mode, making lists and collecting ideas. We have a list of supplies, ideas on how to use them and some great imaginations working on fantastic ways to run, jump, crawl, slide and balance.
Once the kids have their list of ideas, they draw some of the obstacles. Friend A draws a map of the obstacle course. Little K draws a hoola hoop around a boy. Little J works on a logo.
These are some of their ideas:
jump over mountain of toys
hoola hoop as fast as you can
crawl under branches in the deep dark forest
climb over mountain of hay bales
get through a spider web
lazy river, slide with rocks.
crawl through tunnels
jump over pretend fire
Any other ideas?
Fill a clear plastic container 1/3 a way with water.
Add the food colors that you like.
Fill the rest of the jar with oil.
If the water/oil seperation waves aren’t trippy enough…you can add an Alka Seltzer and it starts to bubble color like a real lava lamp.
Little K and Blanquita are inseparable. She is a great comfort to my baby boy, and I think if he could, Little K would put her in his pocket.
A most wonderful blog post about boys and dolls, is such an inspiration to me, a mom with a nurturing little boy. Small Potatoes shares a book about a little boy who wants a doll to take care of…“William’s grandmother smiled. “He needs it,” she said, “to hug and to cradle and to take to the park so that when he’s a father like you, he’ll know how to take care of his baby” …” ~William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow. Small Potatoes directs us to a link that shares the sling pattern from a little time to share
I’m a knitter at the beginner level. I bring the pattern to my sister in law, textile artist, and she walks me through all the knitting lingo in the pattern.
“A pattern: Baby-Love Sling
You will need:
US 15 10mm needles
An extra needle for bind off
Cast on with long tail 24st
Knit first row
Cont. Stst until it measures 7″
RS Kfb1 *K1 M1* cont. to last st Kfb1 (48st)
Purl first row
Cont. Stst for 8″
RS When garment is 15″
K2tog all across (24st)
Purl first row
Cont. Stst until its 25″ long.
Cast off with 3 needle bind off
Perfect for dolls, trucks or any treasures your little one may carry around as their baby.”
~a little time to share
Adult dinners are hard to come by these days. The kids like simple foods and for the most part, I only have time to throw something quick together for dinner at the end of our busy days.
This night, I’m prepared ahead of time, to make an old favorite. This is a dish I haven’t cooked since Little J was very little, and it’s Big K’s favorite, mostly, because it has chorizo in it. I didn’t end up using chorizo though…I didn’t have any, so I used chicken sausage instead because I knew the kids would eat that.
Baked Cod with Chorizo & White Beans
From EatingWell: January/February 2008
This recipe follows the Spanish and Portuguese tradition of pairing mild white fish with full-flavored cured sausage—just a bit gives the whole dish a rich, smoky flavor. Make it a meal: Enjoy with steamed green beans and roasted potatoes tossed with thyme and coarse salt.
4 servings | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 ounces Spanish chorizo (see Tips) or turkey kielbasa, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine, divided
1 15-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 1/4 pounds cod, cut into 4 pieces (see Tips)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot, chorizo (or kielbasa) and thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and the wine is almost evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in beans and 1/4 teaspoon salt and remove from the heat.
Sprinkle fish with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; place in the prepared baking dish. Top each piece of fish with equal amounts of the tomato mixture (about 1/2 cup per fillet). Pour the remaining 1/4 cup wine into the pan and cover the pan with foil. Bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the fish with the sauce spooned over the top.
Per serving : 293 Calories; 8 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 66 mg Cholesterol; 18 g Carbohydrates; 30 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 567 mg Sodium; 511 mg Potassium
I served the fish over brown rice with a side of greens and beets.
The kids didn’t like the fish,
but they ate up the sausage, rice and beets like it was going out of style.
There is a plastics corporation in the next town over that has a “community store,” where educators can shop for free rejected materials. Their main supply is contact paper, so of course, I trek my way there and snatch a stack. There are usually local resources like this available to educators and parents…you should take a look around to see if there is a resource like this in your community.
I tape the contact paper down onto the little kid table and fill small bowls with snips of foam paper and crayon wrappers left over from other projects.
The kids keep cutting up the foam and paper, sticking all the pieces onto the sticky surface.