I remember being amazed by the world when I was little. Then I grew up and stopped seeing. And then I had children.
For me, one of the best things in life is noticing the miracles that take place around us every day. I love the way children remind us of these things. I used to peer into my little Shrinky-dink oven and watch with my mouth open as the plastic curled and twisted as if it were alive, then relaxed and flattened into a much smaller version of itself.
Children are born with their minds wide open. My youngest is that that age where she is trying to figure out what to believe, and what to doubt. For now, this appears in the form of sorting fiction from reality. "Mommy, is this movie real?" No, guinea pigs cannot talk, even of you give them tiny spy translators. No, you cannot make a house fly by tying a bunch of balloons to it. No, a giant lady is not under the water letting her goldfish children grow arms and legs and visit us on land.
At the same time, this daughter of mine is exploring the world of writing. She asks how to spell words and scribbles little stories into tiny notebooks.
One Upon a Pon
"Don't you mean p-a-w-n, like in chess?"
"No, Mommy, a Pon, like Upon."
She tells stories in the car and, although they are usually pretty interesting, I do admit to sometimes concentrating on the road and mumbling the occasional 'Mmmm, hmm." Yesterday she was telling a story and said, "Then they came down in a parachute...Mommy, are parachutes real?"
"Woooow!" Her voice was full of awe and appreciation.
"What about jet packs?"
"No, no jet packs." (Although, come to find out I might have been wrong on that one. Ironic that we were having this conversation as a man was jetting over the Grand Canyon.) "But it is true that people used to be able to go to the moon."
"Ha! That's not true!"
"Yes. Yes it is. It happened before I was born, but now we can't do it anymore because our computers are too delicate."
"Mommy, that is not real."
"It is! The first man to walk on the moon was named Neil Armstrong."
"No way. That is not even a real name!"
How could I argue with that?
These kinds of conversations open me up to being able to experience the everyday wonders in our world. We see marvelous, unbelievable things every day and don't even stop to marvel or disbelieve. Airplanes fly past the palm trees and I seldom stop to think--flying vehicles filled with people? Amazing! Water loving palm trees in the middle of the desert? How amazing (and sort of sad, right?) that we've figured out a way to get that much water right where they need it!
Shrinky-dink paper still comes alive as it shrinks, although my current oven is much bigger than the one I used in the '70s. I discovered the idea of making Shrinky-dink rings on etsy. I saw some very cute little rings that I loved. But since etsy is supposed to be all handmade, I thought the seller was stretching the definition of handmade. How could someone possibly print pictures onto plastic rings and call that handmade? It must be done by a big fancy machine. Then it dawned on me...those rings were handmade from Shrinky-dink paper! I googled Shrinky-dink rings and found an awesome tutorial by Planet June. Even though you might be tempted to do without a tutorial--the basic concept is obvious enough to anyone who has ever played with shrink plastic--you might want to look at it anyway. She has some great tips and gives the measurements she uses.
Shrinky-dink paper is something that we keep around the house, (because it is a necessity, that's why!) so it was easy to sit down and make a bunch of tiny rings. My oldest is studying the California gold rush in school right now, so she made a ring with golden nuggets and "49ers" written on it. The baby used rubber stamps to make a duck ring and a dog ring. My son sat this one out. He'd rather read a book about origami yodas than make girly rings out of plastic.
I made the tree ring to go with a polymer clay tree necklace. It was for a swap with the theme 'tree in your pocket'. I kind of botched that one; this is more like trees around your neck and finger, but the person I sent to didn't seem to mind. I suppose she can put these into her pocket of she wants to.