You know that scene from the movie Tangled, where Rapunzel and Ryder sit on a boat and watch lanterns in the sky? Yeah, that is my dream.
There is just something magical about lanterns, and so yesterday afternoon, we made lanterns to have our own little winter festival in our backyard.
Using materials that we had around the house; recycling bags as aprons, cupcake cups as paint holders, and recycled glass jars as our lantern, we improvised to make something beautiful. My favorite kind of craft.
– Glass Jars (empty jam/pickle/tomato sauce jars)
– Acrylic paint and brushes
– Tea Light Candles
– Pipe Cleaners
It’s mesmerizing to watch them craft. Both so different in their approach.
Penelope is very focused; careful about where her colors are, and covers large areas before she switches colors to paint again.
My sweet Oliver is more playful. Sometimes painting the glass, sometimes painting his hand, and just happy to be experiencing the activity.
They covered the surface of the glass, and once it dried, I secure some pipe cleaners around the mouth of the jar to create a handle.
While they sang happy birthday (which they do every time they see a candle lately haha) I added a tea light candle into the jars. And Voila! Beautiful lanterns!
It’s been a smoky couple of days in the city. The smoke from the forest fires in the province that neighbors us has blown over, and I’m sad for the circumstances, but trying to find the silver lining.
At a new moon circle I attended last week, the ceremony started off with the burning of sage. I’m learning that smoke, or smudging, has been used by many cultures throughout history to cleanse one’s aura and clear one’s space.
Ironically, our city has been filled with smoke for the past couple of days, and I’m trying to view it as a cleanse. A cleanse of our souls and our aura, and when the smoke passes, everything will be clearer and we’ll appreciate more just how beautiful the air is when it’s clean, and how lucky we are to be able to enjoy it. A beautiful and important lesson that life is giving us.
Yesterday afternoon, the smoke was not as intense, and we spent it in our backyard.
Our little backyard oasis; how much I love it. It’s not very big. We have a pergola in the middle of it that takes up quite a bit of the footprint, there is a mixture of grass and stone surfaces, and a deck that needs to be redone; still, there is something special about that space. From the color of the grass in the afternoons, to the angle of the sun as it sets, to the way it feels like it’s in the middle of the country in it’s privacy.
I picked flowers, and roughly braided a flower crown that we all took turns to wear. The flowers were yellow, my favorite color, and they very much complimented the sun that we were finally been able to enjoy after a few days.
Later in the day, our day was very different, it was hard.
My Penelope, overtired from an active day in which she skipped her nap – a transition she’s going through right now – had a long and tearful (from my side too) meltdown. She cried and screamed for things she wanted, and when she had them, screamed because she didn’t. I sat by her side when she needed me, and left when she asked me to. After what felt like a really long time, she calmed down, and while still whimpering, asked for her milk and colcha (blankie in spanish).
We were laying on her bed, her little body cuddled into mine, and after a few minutes of silence, she turned her face towards mine and whispered in my ear- “I love you so much”.
It was her way of saying “I’m sorry”, and I was sorry too. My eyes teared up, I told her I loved her so much, and then she told me about bears and caves, and how dinosaurs lay eggs that hatch into giant T-Rexes.
The smoke had passed.
And still, at one point that day, while sitting on my lap, with my arms wrapped around each of them, they shared a bowl of raisins. We cuddled, we laughed, and did nothing more than sit there with each other. If you know me, you know that moments like those fill my heart in ways I cannot explain.
It’s been raining a lot the past couple of weeks, and you can tell the plants are happy for it.
Every year around this time, our backyard flowers begin to bloom, and making backyard bouquets is something I have fallen in love with. I am so grateful for the previous owners of our home – a couple who you could tell loved their yard – who laid down such a great foundation for our little backyard oasis.
As a lover of the simple things, making backyard bouquets is something that makes me so happy, and the kids have learnt to love it too.
Glass Jar – I collect old jam/pickle/tomato jars for this exact reason 🙂
Plants from your backyard, or area near your house like a field/park. *Make sure you’re allowed to prune plants from public areas before you do*
Wearing their diapers and underwear, the perfect attire for a summer night in the backyard, we spend about 10 minutes creating our little piece of nature art.
I prune the flowers, and cut as many leaves from the stems as possible. If the leaves get stuck to each other when they are trying to put the flowers in the jar, the activity quickly becomes very frustrating for them and it will be over very soon – I’ve done it before haha.
Watching the process is wonderful.
Penelope is very proud of her arrangements, and in a very endearing way, is almost too protective of “her” project, which sometimes leads to her not wanting Oliver to even come close to her flowers. I love her sense of ownership in her craft though.
My Oliver is happy to watch and learn, and slowly learns to be gentle with the flowers as he caresses them while simultaneously saying “niiiiiceeee, niiiicceee”. He follows me and pretends to prune branches that he can reach, and whenever he gets close, tries to steal the pruners from me, ha.
If you don’t have flowers in your backyard, pruning different types of green leaf branches can create a wonderful bouquet. We are lucky to live in Alberta where there are so many different types plants; a quick walk around your neighborhood let’s you see so many different shapes, textures and shades of green. A “green” bouquet can be just as colorful and beautiful.
The most beautiful part of these bouquets is, of course, seeing Penelope and Oliver continue to love and find wonder in doing the simplest of things.
And at the end, a beautiful bouquet to keep brightening our days.
I hadn’t ever thought to press a dandelion flower, but the children have taught me to find beauty and potential with everything. Dandelions press beautifully – who knew? They are delicate, the yellow color preserves well, and there is something magical about them. From the moment Penelope could walk, she has loved picking dandelions flowers. I imagine Oliver will be the same. Where live, these flowers are everywhere in the spring and summer, perhaps even over looked in their abundance, but they really are quite beautiful.I didn’t grow up in Canada, so the dandelion is very much a flower that I consider native to the land. To my children, the dandelion is something they will have seen since the moment they were born, just a flower that grew in their home land. I imagine one day, when they are older, travelling the world, and come across a dandelion flower, they will remember this mobile, their mother, their father, where they came from. The dandelion flower, the inspiration for this DIY post.
As a mother raising bicultural children, I am always looking for fun and creative ways to teach them about both their cultures. My children are Canadian, and they are also Peruvian. I speak to them in Spanish so that they learn their mother’s tongue, I sing them the songs that I was sung as a child. During our walks in the beautiful Edmonton trails, Penelope picks up dandelions, fallen pine cones, tree sticks, and she learns about the flora of her country. Through exploration, my children are embracing the nature of their homeland, and learning to love their mother’s language as they practice the names for trees, flowers, rocks in English and Spanish.
As with any DIY that I do, like this and this , I look for it to be easy, simple and affordable. In this case, most of our materials are collected from nature, and the rest, most likely in your home already, or easy and inexpensive to get (ie- your local Dollar store).
We began by cutting the stems off the dandelions we collected, placed them face down between two sheets of paper in a large heavy book, and allowed them to dry. Penelope then helped me tie “talking knots”, or “quipu” into the string, a practice that is native to her Andean culture. The number and color of the knots conveyed meaning, sort of like writing. In this mobile, the number of knots in the strands reading both her and Oliver’s birthday.Once the dandelions were dry, I glued a small piece of cardboard onto the back of the flowers for easier handling, and glued them back to back onto the string. I tied pine cones at different heights and secured a little Spanish note in there as a special touch.
Once two pieces were completed, I placed them together at a perpendicular angle, and secured them with wrapped knot, leaving a little loop at the top for hanging. And voila!I love how this DIY turned out! In the process of making this mobile, with the stories I tell my children while we’re out exploring nature, they are learning about the history and the culture before them, and I give them a sense of identity, a place in the world.
Gathering materials that are abundant in the native flora of where we live, with addition of details native to my ethnic culture, my children and I create a simple, but special piece of art that brings activity, culture, and nature together. All encompassed by something all mothers, of all cultures, share – love.