Showing posts with label The Boy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Boy. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Boy as Minecraft's "Steve"

The Boy went off skipping to the bus this morning. And I went off skipping to work. That's how I knew we'd done good with this year's Halloween costume-making adventure.

The key to both mom and boy's high spirits this fine day? His simple, super-cute, super-comfortable Halloween costume: the ever-pixelated Steve from Minecraft!

Happy Halloween to you! Be safe out there, eh?


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Michele's Top 10 Excuses For Not Even Trying

If rationalizing not doing something were a business, then I could be its CEO. I excel at finding reasons for not trying new things. I'm like a professional at it. Here's a list of my Top 10 (there are more, yes) Excuses For Not Even Trying:

Excuse #1:  Nope, can't do it. Can't afford to spend money on such frivolity. We're on a tight budget here.

Excuse #2:  Are you kidding me? There's no time. I'm too busy with all the crap I'm already doing.

Excuse #3:  My family is way more important. The precious time that thing would take up should really be spent with them.

Excuse #4:  That activity just does not jive with my life philosophy, sorry.

Excuse #5:  What thing? Oh right... Um, I totally forgot to sign up for that.

Excuse #6:  I'm gonna fail! I'll be freakishly incompetent and everyone will make fun of my ridiculousness.

Excuse #7:  Seriously, I don't have the character to see that through. Eventually, that thing will bore me and I'll end up quitting, so why bother even starting?

Excuse #8:  What if I discover I'm good at it? Will I have to do that thing, like, forever? Naw, I'd rather not open that can o' worms.

Excuse #9:  Will there be lots of people involved? Because I'm way too shy to be around all those strange folks.

Excuse #10: No! I do NOT perform/learn/hear/see/feel/eat/breathe well in that kind of large/open/loud/busy/small/closed/quiet environment.

I've spent the last few years putting this handy list, in its entirety, to very good use.

Case in point, I've been considering taking a painting class. See, there's a little art school just down the street. I've looked into their painting classes on many occasions. They offer watercolour, oil, acrylic painting. You name it, they paint it. Yet I've never seen fit to sign up. I've walked past the little art school for the nine years that we've lived in this house. And for nine years running, I've found excuses to not take a class.

Until a few weeks ago, that is.

A few weeks ago, my husband put his foot down and made me do it. He made me spend the money. He made me find the time. So for eight weeks I'm spending every Tuesday afternoon in the company of kind strangers in the little art school down the street learning to paint with acrylics. It's intimate. It's scary. And I may fail.

But you know what? I'm loving it. I'm getting out of the house. I'm spending time with other human beings. I'm putting aside my Top 10 List - for now - and, by gum, I'm trying something new.

Above is my very first class assignment. It's called "The Boy" of course.


P.S. Thanks for your understanding regarding the blog feed situation. We've managed to fix it now, so Michele Made Me should be updating smoothly once again Jiminy Cricket! A big hug to my blog guardian angels for helping me put things right. Thanks a ton for saving me, you guys!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Piano Boy

This year, The Boy asked to learn the piano. After enduring weeks of persistent prodding, we gave in and signed him up for lessons at a local music school. The thing about piano lessons is you kinda need a piano. We are not in a position to acquire one at the moment, and notwithstanding the initial expenditure or the space it would take up, we don't know how long The Boy will stick to this particular flavour of the week (we've already experimented with both guitar and drum lessons to no avail)... So I was asking at the music school if they had a piano available there for us to practice on. The receptionist said: "Not really..." but then handed me the coordinates of a local business. "That's the Musical Instrument Lending Library" he said. "Not sure if they have any keyboards, but it's worth checking out". Why I have never heard of this place before - like before we went out and bought a whole drum kit AND an electric guitar with all the fixings - is beyond me. I live under a rock I guess. Anyway, it sounded like just the solution we were looking for.

The next day, with The Boy in tow, we went downtown to check the place out: a large dark basement filled to the joists with used musical treasures including a mountain's worth of pre-loved guitars. A musician's dream. True, the place emitted a certain odor, and of course, was staffed by the obligatory ornery shopkeeper. Nevertheless, we were excited to poke around and see what we could see. Once we located the stacks of keyboards, we spent some time going through them. The Boy wanted something befitting a nine-year old. I suggested a very simple, 88-key electric piano. "No thanks", he said. He was looking for something slick. Something cool. Something with lights and buttons and bling to explore. In the end, he chose an electronic keyboard, a Yamaha Portatone. I paid I tiny fee for my new "library" card, and we were golden. We get to hang on to the keyboard for 5 weeks at which time we must either take it back and renew it, exchange it for something else, or just leave it behind. It's a pretty sweet deal I figure.

The keyboard's been in the house for 3 weeks now. So far, so good. The Boy likes it and, for the moment, practices without prompting. I'm not holding my breath but I hope this enthusiasm lasts... He spends the bulk of his practice time improvising. I just love hearing the music he creates. It's quite, shall we say, experimental. Every now and then he comes out with something melodic and pretty. Thrilling! But there's also been another important side-effect since bringing the keyboard home. He's actually playing far less Minecraft. And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.


Friday, July 26, 2013

A Letter from The Boy


How are you?
How do you feel?
I really like your music!
My favourite is Rock Band Rolls Silent.
What's your favourite music?
What are you doing?
I'll see you soon so I'll say goodbye now. 
From B To The ABBA People

The other day, Lo found this letter in his files. It dates from July 2009 (pre-blog). It's a letter The Boy wrote to the music group, ABBA, when he was 5 years old (he's now 9). In his letter, he tells ABBA he likes their music BUT his favourite song is called "Rock Band Rolls Silent". This happens to be a song that he has written himself (at the ripe old age of 5)...

I'll say this much for him. The kid has balls. Oh, and ABBA never replied (by the way). But that's okay, we forgive them. And we still love them.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mini-Balloon Inflator with The Boy

Hey, did you notice the summer holidays are upon us?

I did.

Suddenly, I have this little human hanging around the house wondering what to do with himself. Where did he come from I wonder? I'm totally unprepared for the onslaught of "I'm-bored-s" and "Whatcha- wanna-do-s". Dang it.

As luck would have it, Arthamay Tewartsay (I'm not supposed to use her real name here or the name of her book so I've resorted to pig latin but you know who I mean, right?) is on her toes and way ahead of me. As usual. Just in time, she sent her newest book for The Boy and I to check out. Nice of her, eh? I had no idea she cared... I guess this means I'll have to send a thank you note or somethin'. Be all civilized and such?

So The Boy got right down to it. He found his first project in the "Experiment and Explore" section of the book. See, lately he's been less interested in crafty crafts and more inclined toward sciency-type activities. The book has several of these, thank goodness. So Arthamay's "Natural Gas Experiment" or what he called his "mini-balloon inflator" was first on the list. We collected the few supplies we needed and he was off and running. He was kept busy for 20 minutes just designing the label. Then he followed the gas-making procedure step-by-step, and it all worked like a charm. The faces he made and the running around during the whole exciting bubbly bit were just too cute! Don't you love it when things work the way they're supposed to? I do.

The book contains some 175 crafts divided into 7 big sections that include everything from character creations to science experiments to handmade games to storage solutions and more. It's true that the book includes activities we've seen before, like the vinegar and baking soda experiment above. But there are many I haven't seen too, like the soft "Beach Board Games" and the wondrous "Phenakistoscope".

What do I like about the book? Good question. Well...

  1. It's a handy and portable one-stop craft and activity reference for kids. 175 different things to choose from. That's a lot of busy afternoons.
  2. The internet can be a wormhole that I don't always want to send my child into. The fact that this is a physical book means that I have an alternative to the computer.
  3. A good portion of the projects don't need new materials; most households have the required items. I told The Boy he had to choose a craft we had everything for in the house. With 175 choices, I wasn't worried.
  4. If you have an older child, you could just send them to this book when they need something to do. The gorgeous photography, detailed parts lists, and straight-forward instructions might actually kick-start their autonomy. And that's a good thing, if you know what I mean.
  5. Sometimes The Boy just likes to flip through books and dream away. I've already caught him doing just that with this book. Like most things by Arthamay, it is beautiful to look at.
  6. I want to make some of these things too! So not only is this a book for kids, it is a book for kids at heart. Awwww...

So yes, pretty much a glowing review... Shocking, I know.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Pioneer Home

Ever think of going back in time? Imagine if that were possible? I'd go back to pioneer times I think. Before electricity. Before the industrial age when machines took everything over. I think life would be brutal and hard but you wouldn't have time to dwell on that because you'd be too busy just trying to survive. And anyone who lived near you would be in the exact same boat and you'd support each other because you'd have no other choice but to do so. Your survival would depend on knowing your neighbour and caring for them and vice-versa.

Your life would be full. To the brim. Working your land. Maintaining your land. Making your home. Growing food. Hunting. Gathering. Preparing the food. Preserving it. Caring for your animals. Repairing the few items of clothing you have. Keeping your home warm. Caring for your family.

Imagine having to go out to the well for water? Every time you needed to bathe or cook or clean, out to the well you would go and you'd have to carry that load of water back with you every time. Your body would be so strong. And your mind would follow, I think. Can you even imagine that kind of life? I can't. Not really.

But I'd like to try it, you know, just for a few days? If only to be reminded of what is important in life. But also to know how truly lucky I am to be living where I do right now.

Can I even begin to understand how lucky I am?


The above "Pioneer Home" was a family effort that all three of us worked on as a team with The Boy as lead designer and maker. It was made with stuff we had around the house.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

What is Beautiful...

I was thinking today that, sometimes when my spirits are low, all it takes to lift them again is to ask myself one little question: "What is beautiful about this moment?" And, you know what? The universe always has an answer for me. In fact, the universe usually has several.

Two of today's beautiful answers pictured above.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kid Craft: The Boy's Robot Maze

Over the March Break, The Boy had a chance to create some really fun art work. One of the things he made, the following kid craft, was directly inspired by the work of art teacher, Christie, and the kids she teaches. Her blog, Fine Lines, is one we both enjoy perusing.

Using Christie's Pattern Pathways as a jumping off point, The Boy created his funky "Robot Maze". He started with two sheets of 8-1/2"x 11" printer paper, and cut each into 6 small rectangles. He built his "robot" from the resulting 12  rectangles, and concocted his continuous maze first in pencil and then in marker. He then added colour to the snakey bits of the maze in colourful marker. And finally, he painted the outside of the maze with cake paint.

Once the paintings were dry, we placed them under a stack of books to flatten out the wrinkles. His Robot Maze is displayed proudly on our kitchen cabinets.

It's an organic looking sort of robot, isn't it? Pretty cool, I think.

Thank you Christie for the flow of art ideas for children. I want you to know that we love and appreciate your talent and hard work.


P.S. In the next post, I'll be asking you to fill out a 5 question survey. I need your excellent input on a few things and thought a little survey might just do the trick! Until then?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What The Boy Said

"If you scrape away the night, it will be day." (December 2007)

"Don't put something I don't like on something I do like." (October 2010 after being served noodles with sauce on top)

"A week is like the dad of a day. A month is the grand-dad of a day. And a year is the great-grand-dad of a day." (January 2013)

"Ooh, my back... It feels like a lizard is waltzing on my spine." (June 2012)

"Know what? You're always touching something even if you jump, because air is made of molecules." (March 2011)

"Stop un-believing me!" (October 2012)

"I wonder why they call it the "New Moon" when it's the same old moon..." (December 2012)


We've always collected quotes by The Boy who's now 8 years old. Above is a small sampling. Here are a few more.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reveal: The Boy's Bedroom

It's taken us a few weeks... But today I'm proud - and relieved - to proclaim The Boy's bedroom renovation project complete! Joy of joys!

If I go back and peruse our original wish list, I think we managed to stick to the plan pretty much. We kept the whole thing relatively inexpensive. We used a lot of stuff we already had kickin' around. And we kept it reasonably simple. All in all, a success I think.

Want a look-see? Okay, let's head on in!

When I say we kept it inexpensive, we did. We kept the bed, the dresser, the rug, the shelves, the overhead light fixture, the pouf, the old red cushion, the tall cabinet. We also used other stuff we already had: the aquarium stand, the study chair, the quilt, the other cushion, and all the storage containers.

That's not to say we didn't splurge on a few things. We did. Like all the paint and the supplies for the roman blind, for example. And I also bought a simple white duvet cover. I know. I could have made one easy. But I decided instead to give myself a break and buy one. Sometimes, it's nice to treat yourself, you know? And I supported a local linen shop in the process, so it's all good. We also bought two light fixtures for focussed lighting: one for the head of the bed - The Boy reads every night - and one for his new "study".

Also, several months ago Lo surprised The Boy with a poster he ordered online. It's a large, divided Tintin and Snowy poster and it's quite quite lovely. When it arrived, we ooo-eh and aww-ed, and then we put it back in the box and never put it up. Aren't we awful? Finally, the thing has come out of hiding, and it's found a place on the wall. Feelin' a little better about that now, eep.

As I take a look around, I'm a little aghast at all the stuff we've made in this room. Besides the desk, the shelf brackets, the refurbished fish stand, the blind, the cushions, and the brown dresser made by Lo's great-grandpa, many other projects in this room are also handmade.

Lo, The Boy and I made the black and orange airplanes that hover above the dresser. Hanging on the walls are a few of the pretty paper airplane garlands I made for The Boy a couple years back. Sitting on the dresser is the wooden tower crane The Boy and I constructed together last summer.

You may well know that the bed quilt is my very own "City Streets". Also, the denim pouf is a popular tutorial here on Michele Made Me from back in 2011. Two summers ago, The Boy and I put together the small woven sun wall-hanging. The denim chair cushion in the closet-study is my very first Shop project (which, by the way, is still available as a PDF downloadable template/tutorial right here)!

It's interesting really... To think of all that time spent making all those things... What an investment of energy! But over time, you really don't notice it. You just enjoy the moment, you know? Still, I sometimes ask myself why I make stuff. I look around at our Boy's simple bedroom - now complete - and I see all these projects at work. And actually, I'm proud. One answer to that why-I-make-stuff question becomes obvious. I make things to bring a little of myself to this earthly place. To leave my mark here. And to make it home.

That's a good enough reason, I think. 


All posts on The Boy's Bedroom overhaul: here (before room), here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Boy's Bedroom Reno: Paint Colours

Here we have the paint colours for The Boy's bedroom. The colour pendulum has swung 180〫from warm-slash-dark to cool-slash-light!

Aside from choosing paint colours, what have we done so far?


1) Lo gave the ceiling a single coat of white.
2) I sanded, primed, and painted the trim twice in your basic white. That was a job I did NOT find the joy in, I tell you. I looked for it too. But dang it, it was nowhere! Thankfully, I'm on the other side of it now so we're all good.
3) After much research, Lo installed an outlet in the closet. He had to cut through the drywall to do it but managed with minimal damage. I applied several coats of drywall mud to the area in question and sanded the Dickens out of it. You can't even tell anything was done there. Thing of beauty!
4) Patched all holes in walls with drywall mud. Sanded, dusted and washed the walls.
5) The Boy and I decided to tape off some areas of the window wall for a touch of fun. The idea being that the original red colour would show through in stripes when the tape was removed. Here's a peek at the effect...

6) Given the darkness of the previous colour, we had no choice but to prime the walls before painting. I cut in the primer and Lo rolled it on.
7) I was relieved to finally cut in the actual fancy-named paint, "Beige Chanterelle" of which we applied two coats. Lo rolled it on. Unsure of it at first, I am liking it more now but still getting used to it. Thank Pete, it's about 4 million times better than red and orange.
8) I painted the closet in "Vienna Lake", a colour The Boy chose. Here's a glimpse of all the colours playing together...

I'm excited about it! We're chugging along nicely, aren't we?


Find "before" photos here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Boy's "Before" Bedroom

We've officially made a start on The Boy's bedroom overhaul!

This is a project we've been discussing for about a year now... It's almost ludicrous, I know. But it is my belief that sometimes these things have to percolate in the mind for a time before they can be poured out into the real world... Anyway, the work has finally, finally begun. I know, I have an actual goal. Amazing stuff.

Before sharing any progress, I thought I'd show some "before" pictures and our BIG list of plans. There's a lot to be done in this little room but our hope is to keep the changes simple, work with many of the existing elements, donate a lot of stuff, keep the waste to a minimum, and be done swiftly!

Here's what the room looked like before we started, and our wish list for its improvement:

Can't wait to see the backside of that red and orange colour scheme. Yikes-ey... I'll be back with an update soon. Wish us luck!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

One For The Boy

When he saw the crocheted Christmas blanket I made for my two sweet girls (who share digs far away in the big city), The Boy asked for a similar one of his very own. Since then, I've been slowly obliging him. The work is keeping me busy - and warm - during these long, cold winter evenings.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

All I Want For Christmas Is The Truth.

Last year, right around this time, Lo and I got a surprise lecture from The Boy. It went something like this: "If Santa isn't real, then you really shouldn't pretend that he is. If kids shouldn't lie, then neither should parents. Lying is not allowed." And he walked off quietly miffed.

Our response to his pronouncement was a mix of bewilderment and stifled guffaws. It was a little bit shocking and a little bit humorous too. I mean, you can't help but laugh at the things that fall out of your children's mouths sometimes, funny or not. The thing is though, he was dead serious. Someone had dropped the bomb. Someone had told him the truth, and when the smoke cleared, we had some "splaining to do". But did he have to be so cutting in his analysis? We never thought we were lying to him. We were just adding a little magic to his life... Right?... Anyway, after our initial reaction, Lo and I looked at each other in silence. An understanding arose between us. If he wasn't having it anymore, then we had to tell him the truth.

Lo and I tag-team the bedtime duties. He puts The Boy to bed one night, I put him to bed the next night, and so on. It happened that this night was Lo's night. After story time, they lay in bed together. I eavesdropped from my perch on the couch. Lo levelled with The Boy. "You're right", he said, "Santa is a myth. Your mom and I are the ones who bring you gifts." Lo reported later that something like a wave of relief seemed to come over The Boy when he learned the truth. He sighed audibly and with wide eyes exclaimed: "You're Santa!" He wasn't upset. His boyish world wasn't devastated. On the contrary, he was relieved and happy. Of course, during the same conversation, The Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy were also debunked. Yes indeed, they too bit the dust that night.

It's funny. While he loves to read stories, The Boy prefers those that are rooted in reality. He's not a fan of fantasy books. He has never liked cartoons and he has always refused to watch animated films. Something about them makes him uncomfortable. Time and again, I have tried to get him to watch movies like Aladdin or The Iron Giant but he just won't have it. His favourite subject seems to be history, and his medium of choice? The documentary film. His reaction to the Santa thing is consistent with his m.o. I guess.

And I guess it's okay that he knows. This year, whenever we mention Santa, he smiles knowingly, allows us our game for a moment, but then stresses: "You guys are Santa." Whereupon we affirm: "You know we are."

Sometimes I think we wanted Santa to be real more than The Boy ever did. I mean, do we need the magic of Santa Claus more than our child does? I think it's fair to say that kids are magical simply by virtue of their age and innocence. The kids I know certainly are. But we, who have survived to adulthood? Why, for what we say is our child's sake, do we walk a line we know is false? Why didn't we, right from the get-go, tell the beautiful story of The Santa Claus, mythical creature who gives for the love of it, and go from there instead?

I wonder about that sometimes.


P.S. Ironically, the flying Santa in the above pictures is one I made in December 2003 when I was pregnant with The Boy. The design came from a craft magazine - I don't recall which one - and includes a few tweaks of my own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

House Garland Interview with The Boy

What follows is an interview I had with The Boy regarding his collection of little green houses which I made into the following garland:

Michele: I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about the houses you made. It's for the blog... Would that be alright?

The Boy: Oh, okay.

Michele: When did you make these little houses?

The Boy: Before before before before before last month early in the morning I think. But I don't know.

Michele: Quite a while ago then... Did anyone help you make them?

The Boy: No.

Michele: What are the houses made of?

The Boy: Playdough. Dried playdough.

Michele: Why did you make this collection of playdough houses?

The Boy: I don't know... I wanted to. I wanted to keep myself busy.

Michele: Crafts are a good way to keep busy, that's for sure. So where did the house idea come from?

The Boy: I don't know where it came from. I was playing around with the playdough and the houses just popped out.

Michele: I can relate to that. Can you describe how you made them?

The Boy: Well, to cut them out, I used a butter knife. And to make the bumps, I used the un-dangerous end of a pin. Also, I used a butter knife to make the lines also.

Michele: I use butter knives a lot in my crafts too... What gave you the idea to make the houses progressively smaller?

The Boy: That's so easy. Each time I used up some of the dough to make a house, I had less and less dough, so the houses kept getting smaller and smaller because I didn't have enough dough to make them exactly the same size.

Michele: I love all the different sizes. In fact, I really love your little houses period. Do you?

The Boy: Yes.

Michele: What do you like about them?

The Boy: I like the little bumps. And they sorta have these little dots that look a little bit like snow but it wasn't me who made the snow. It just appeared out of nowhere or else maybe some sort of chemical reaction happened when the dough dried out. But I don't know.

Michele: Well, thank you for telling me about your little houses.

The Boy: You're welcome.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas Ornament #4

The above two tree ornaments come to you courtesy of The Boy. He designed and made them on Friday, and I just had to include them in the ornament series! I'm big-time in love with them. They're so simple, beautiful, innocent. It's the kid thing. Those little fingers do magic, I tell you.

He made them from a cereal box, paint, pistachio nutshells, junkmail confetti, string, scissors and glue.

The pistachio shells, I'd painted a while back, so when it came time to decorate his trees, the shells were there for the taking. In fact, if you plan to do a collage craft like this with your kids, it's a very good idea to prepare all the decorative bits ahead of time. That way, there's no waiting and they can dig right in!

The shells need a generous amount of glue if they are to stay put. He applied a goodly blob to each before attaching them to the trees. Those little guys are there for the duration, methinks.

The confetti was punched from Christmas-flavoured junkmail, a favourite in these parts.

But who am I kidding? There was no way I was going to let him have all the fun. Nuh-huh, I just could not do it. I had to make one of my own too, right? Here's mine below.

And here's the tree-some...

I'm thinking of asking The Boy to make me a whole grove of them. Wouldn't that be great? I wonder if he'd go for it... Do you think?


Previous installments in this little ornament series: here, here and here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Boy's Tree Fort Project: Part 2

It's been sometime since the last (and first) tree fort update. Here are a few photos taken along the way to catch you up.

Ground floor framing is completed here with space for two windows and a door. (Aren't my boys cutie pies?)

The Boy is learning to wield certain power tools like the power sander and the cordless drill. He has also used the miter saw. He loves this "manly" aspect of the build!

Attic framing almost complete. This is one serious fort!

It looks like a tiny backyard church, don't you think? I'm lovin' it! I'm also curious to see what they do next... So much fun!


See the first post in this story: here.


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