BUMBLEBEE

BUMBLEBEE

The only face missing from the quintet on Arielle’s Halloween scrapbook page is Emma’s—so I wanted to include a picture of her too. She’s wearing yellow and black stripes because that’s the year she was a bumblebee.

ALL HALLOWS DAY

ALL HALLOWS DAY

Each year, at my place, my godkids and I made a gingerbread haunted house, using kits I bought at Cost Plus or Party City. We’d decorate it with candy corn, gummy worms, marshmallow ghosts and pumpkins, Skittles, jellybeans, and more. One year I discovered when I opened the box that the pieces of gingerbread were all broken up, so—after I went back and bought another kit—we used the broken shards to create a toothsome graveyard. Of course, the kids always wanted to take their creations home afterwards—and somehow or other Char, their black lab, always managed to savage them. (By the way, Cost Plus carries Halloween packets of “Beanboozled“ Jelly Bellies in flavors like Barf, Rotten Eggs, Stinky Socks, Boogers, etc. I tried only one of these and had to spit it out.)

One year Ella and I took pictures of each other making ghoulish faces. I scanned the photos, enlarged them to life-size in Photoshop, and printed them out on heavy glossy photo paper to make masks. Then we greeted the kids at the door on Halloween wearing each other’s faces. Of course, they were eager to join in the fun. And though it might seem incongruous to some, Arielle decided she wanted to wear the tiara she’d picked out at the Lacis museum—a birthday gift from me—with her Native American princess costume.

Above is the scrapbook page Arielle and I made that year. We used bat stickers to attach the photos to their mats, but, on the gingerbread house photo, I attached the bat wings with small brads, so you can lift the picture and see the surprise underneath—a pumpkin I carved with Michael. 

ENERGIZER BUNNY

ENERGIZER BUNNY

Rummaging through more of my boxes the other day, I came across a baggy with fold-dye—as opposed to tie-dye—art I made with my godkids when they were younger. Actually, I cautiously introduced Arielle to the technique when she was only two. That was the year I was busy writing A Patchwork Memoir—and just as I made a point of chronicling my outings with Earl, I described all my play dates with her:

When I arrive, two-year-old Arielle is napping on the sofa, so Leia and I talk a while to let her sleep. I tell her I’m going to give a presentation about my father at my second grief group tonight—and how nervous I am about it. Arielle’s still groggy after Leia rouses her—and looks disgruntled about being awakened.

“Did you have a dream?” I ask.

She shakes her head, rubbing one eye with her fist.

To reanimate her, I whip out an envelope with more stickers for her—cats, fish, and birds. It’s then that Leia brings out a book with waxy pages that’s already filled with every kind of sticker imaginable.

Luckily, I’ve got another ace up my sleeve. I cut paper towels into quarters, then fold the squares into different shapes, letting Arielle dip the points into bowls of food coloring—red, yellow, and blue. “Les see what’s inside,” she lisps, carefully unfolding each one so as not to tear it—a tricky business because once they’re saturated, they glom together. I don’t know if she can see that each bright kaleidoscopic pattern is different, but she’s properly enthusiastic, taking my word for it, I have a hunch, that they’re beautiful. One day she’ll have her own opinion, I think, but for now she’s satisfied to share mine. Each time I start to fold a new square, she politely asks, “Is that mine or yours?” though I invariably assure her, “It’s yours.” I was worried that this project might be too sophisticated for her—well, it is and it isn’t. Pretty soon I catch on that I’d better be the one to dunk the squares—sparingly!—into the blue dye, or by the time she gets done with all the unfolding, they’ll be murky brown messes. She loves to use her hands, I muse—I wonder what she’ll be? An artist?… musician?…surgeon? Already I’m look forward to bragging, “I knew her when…”

Two hours later we’ve got designs laid out on waxed paper all over the dining room floor. “When they’re dry, you can pick your favorites and hang them in the window,” I say. She continues to ignore even the Dutch crepes with honey that Leia has made us, though I’ve already wolfed mine down between foldings, and like the Energizer Bunny, she just keeps going and going.

OUR SCRAPBOOK

OUR SCRAPBOOK

One of the things I’ll be featuring on my website is activities that kids and grownups can do together—like scrapbooking. The page above is from the scrapbook Arielle and I started when she was in elementary school, chronicling our favorite pastimes. “Us, Livin’ the Life” she titled the front cover we made out of bright poster board.

I designed the page above to celebrate our first play date, which Leia had arranged. (When I’d arrived at Live Oak Park, two-year-old Arielle was about to climb into a play-structure tube. Scampishly, I peered in the other end of it—and she waved me away with a scowl.)

At the start of our project, I took her to Scrapbook Territory on 4th St. down by the bay, which has to be the best scrapbook store ever—or should I say had to be? (I’m still not reconciled to it going out of business.) It had aisle after aisle after aisle of papers arranged by color, texture, or theme, an astonishing array of ribbons I still use for the doll clothes I make, fanciful adhesive letters, and every kind of—flat—miniature you can imagine.

Besides poster board for the covers and colorful papers, you and the child in your life will need:

Two metal rings, scissors, a hole punch, a ruler, glue dots in different sizes, a glue stick, adhesive letters, assorted stickers, colorful brads, ribbon, and, if your kid likes bling, also glitter, sequins and stick-on gems.

I would also recommend you buy a plastic 14” x 14” scrapbook bin for storing everything.