"A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.
A street house, a neat house,
Be sure to wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all-
Let's go live in a tree house.”
― Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
It's family reunion time again. Coordinating school and work schedules with our six kids, and all of their people, is a challenge, to say the least, but every now and then the planets align and all twenty of us end up in the same place. It usually consists of a few days where we disconnect from the outside world, somewhere without the internet, and focus on what really matters most, each other.
I have assigned myself the job of making sure there are plenty of art supplies for the little ones and the big ones. I show up with pens, paints, canvases, wire, glue, popsicle sticks, and all sorts of odds and ends that I've collected over the years. I stack it in a pile by the table, ready for the taking when inspiration hits.
My 12-year-old granddaughter, Tessa, is always ready and willing to dream things up with me, and this year we decided to build a treehouse for our Maileg mice. These magical little creatures are so small that I can easily throw them in my bag and bring them anywhere.
I gave my grandkids a canvas bag, and we walked up to the lake to see what we could find. They collected small pieces of driftwood, rocks, and pinecones. We also found an old weathered board to use as our treehouse platform. Papa is always working on a project at the cabin, so his power tools are readily available.
Tessa put pinecone shingles on the roof of the porch and used this Wooden Wool Loom to weave a colorful hammock.
The treehouse evolved into more of a ninja warrior course.
While tubing down the river we picked up some pretty green moss and cut little branches from pine and aspen trees, to use as landscaping. Queenie looked very royal on her throne.
I am often caught playing... I mean working on things when no grandkids are around.
The bridge and the swinging cradle were a couple of my favorite additions.
All the little details add to the magic.
Jammies are always in style at the cabin.
Sometimes a little guy just needs a soft place to take a break from all of the action.
The final-ish (things are always being rearranged) treehouse was a hit with both the mice and the grandkids. It had lots of use over the weekend and we decided to haul it home with us so we can continue to add to it.
I have been doing these unstructured arts and crafts sessions with my kids since they were little. Two of them actually have careers where their artistic skills are a big part of their jobs. I like to think that maybe these creative explorations helped them to find their inner artist. At any rate, these projects have given me a chance to be with them away from any distractions – i.e., screens. These days my grandkids tell me their ideas and we brainstorm how we can make them come to life. It takes a little time and patience to make it all happen. It’s definitely not as easy as getting lost in the digital world, but the end results are far more rewarding.