For the past couple of months it's been dominated by perler beads. I know I've written about them before, but for anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, perler beads are little plastic cylinders that you organize on a pegboard, then iron to melt them together to form a single, flat, plastic piece. Normally people make junky little things with them that nobody knows what to do with (I have some set aside for coasters), and the loose tiny beads get all over and are unpleasant to step on in bare feet.
Aden proceeded to do a slight variation of the macaw that came with the board. I learned the hard way how to iron it without destroying the whole thing. All the kids were excited by the results, and Mona went next with her own variations on the bird.
Then Quinn dug around in some old (and I mean OLD from when I was a kid old) Ranger Rick magazines and found a toucan photo to put under the board. Now the kids have moved on to using the big board in a free form sort of way with nothing under it to copy. Many of these creations end up perched on things on the walls of the kids' rooms.
It's interesting to me to watch the kids work in their own ways. Quinn is methodical. Aden is particular but efficient when she's motivated. Mona manages several projects at once. Last time it was Mona's turn with the big board she invented a bird. She also did a butterfly on a special pegboard, and decided to make an airplane that I thought was pretty nice. (If I remember correctly, the yellow circles were going to be eventually hot glued in a stack to make a cupcake, but I don't know if that's still a plan.)
I don't know how long this perler bead phase will last. The crafts my kids are interested in seem to go in cycles. There was lots of perler bead stuff for a while, then they moved on to other projects like rainbow loom creations, then modeling clay, and now the perler beads are back again. I think by the time Aden finishes her cockatoo we might be able to box up all the beads for a while. (My bare feet hope so, anyway.)
I like the projects. It may seem messy or inconvenient at times to have three kids' worth of materials spread out over a room or two, but with the things they create I get tangible souvenirs of their different childhood phases. So much of what they do or say happens in the same kinds of cycles as they grow and there is nothing to hold onto.
For a long time Mona used to start sentences with "whelp" (instead of "well") and it made me laugh every time, and then one day, unceremoniously, that was over, and we didn't even know. There were unusual clothing phases, and different movements or habits.... And they all just drift off as new things take their places. I can't even begin to remember it all anymore. But when I look at one of Mona's unusual water color paintings from when she was two, or wear one of Aden's necklaces to a concert, or even knock over yet another stack of Quinn's perler bead hearts, I'm there again for a moment. Watching them work while probably fussing about the mess, but standing nearby while they were smaller.
I miss them from then; I adore them now. One day we will be done with the perler beads for good and I won't even know when it happens for the last time. But I'll still have some hearts to hang onto as a reminder. (And probably some birds.)