Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Auction, of course!

Hello! Thanks to the an incredible outpouring of generosity, our auction catalogue is packed with unique and wonderful items. Please view it online, and consider emailing the link to far-away friends or relatives who can bid by proxy.

Meanwhile, everyone around here is hard at work. Diane Anci and Carolyn Hazen--aka The Awesomeness Committee--have been making gorgeous centerpieces. These will beautify our party and then get raffled off. I am already plotting my raffle strategy, because I just really want one.

At Emily Neuburger's house a few weeks ago, there was a great deal of mailing and crafting occurring. Here is Nicole Blum putting the finishing touches on one of the beautiful silk-screened bulletin boards that will display our vacations and also be for sale:

Please gather up the biggest group you can and come to the auction! If my own husband is any indication, the band is practicing very seriously. Very, very seriously, with electric guitars plugged in at all hours. Please. Come.

xo, for Maddie and me, Catherine

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Better in Real Life

You wouldn't believe how hard it is for me (Maddie) to write a simple catalog description.  It involves much googling, writing... erasing... writing... erasing... writing.  When you see this beautiful catalog which owes nearly all of its brilliance to the amazing Pam Matheson's fabulous database and Catherine's incredible writing skills you will be so glad.  If it were all up to me the catalog would be three times as long and infinitely more dull.  

But here's my point.  Despite all of this brain work, it is still nearly impossible to do justice to so many of the things that come in.  We can say "beautiful blue tea set" but somehow it just doesn't capture it.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Horse Manure and Love

If you've been at the school long enough to have seen Tom Sawyer, then you'll know Terry's got a real "painting the fence" thing going on with his auction donation. Deal of a lifetime! Pay for the privilege of shoveling horse shit! And yet I can think of 25 E1 students who are going to be begging their parents to bid on this exact item: Horse Mucking with Terry. Because it's Terry! And because it's Terry, it will be a total blast.

Our teachers and staff. Oy. Not to wax excessively sentimental, but they give so much of themselves every day to our children and then, on top of that, they grab Maddie and me in the hallways to tell us about their donations to the auction. Their wildly generous donations.

You will get the auction catalogue in your mailbox next week (gods willing), and you might want to keep your eyes peeled for these gems. If I've left any out, please forgive me! Maddie and I are still working out the tricky issue of coordination.

Horse Mucking with E1 teacher Terry McCue. Enough said.

Day Camp with Blue Nursery teachers Jean Meister and Jen Jarrell. Monday through Thursday, June 22-25, 2009 from 8:30-noon. At Jean's House in S. Amherst for up to 5 kids. Crafts, outdoor play, nature exploration, we'll bake a snack together each day. Ages 3-7 (current CS kids). If you had a dream about the best week of your child's life, it might look a lot like this.

P1 Teacher Burl Muten's Beautiful Books (which we won one year and treasure).

A Custom-Made Heritage Quilt from P2 teacher Zevey Steinitz. This is a top-stitched wall hanging that Zevey will make using a special photo-transfer technique. It can include text (such as a xeroxed letter, a poem, or a quote) and up to 20 historic photos. The winner to choose fabric styles and a color scheme. Can you imagine a more beautiful or moving way to commemorate a loved one?

Also from Zevey, a Kids'-Choice Party for up to four children. Pick crafting or a nature hike, and let Zevey plan a lovely afternoon. (Oh to spend that time in Zevey's company!)

Afterschool Rock Star Aric Bieganek has donated so many things that I've almost lost track:

An autographed copy of his CD "Bright Lights, Big Kitty."

A Recess Rock music show for your child's birthday party.

A 30-minute Beginner Piano Lesson.
(My son Ben takes piano lessons with Aric, and I simply cannot recommend him enough: the ideal mix of disciplined and creative.)

And, perhaps most exciting of all for that special musical kid, an afternoon of writing and recording a song with him. Talk about priceless.

From Outreach Administrator Dana Kadish: Snow Day Child Care for up to 2 Children. Can you imagine the luxury of waking up to heaps of white and uncancelled work, and knowing your kids can go to Dana's house for the day?

Or, in finer weather, maybe you'd like some help from carpenter and maintenance guru Dave Russell, who has donated 3-hours of his time to help repair, build, or
remodel your home. (Don't tell my kids, or they'll beg us to bid on his services for installing a zip line in our backyard.)

There's this enticing item donated by Office Manager Deb Hanley: "6 bottles of wine hand-picked form our 'cellar' by alum parent Andy Farnsworth (Sonny '01). These wines represent high quality at reasonable price ranges so that you will be able to replenish as you wish! Andy has over 25 years experience in the fine wine business." Yum.

Blue Nursery teacher Cathy Wolf has generously donated a basket of adorable Beanie Babies that my children eyeball daily (they're hibernating in our study for the moment).

And Maddie's already written about Green Nursery teacher Marcy Sala's fabulous collection of wind-up Kritteria.

P2 teacher Michelle Parrish, a weaver, is responsible for organizing the incredibly lovely P2 classroom donation of a pair of weavings, each one uniquely beautiful and loomed in natural fibers by our own children. (More on the other classroom projects at a later date...)

Our own principal Bud Lichtenstein is going to buy three lucky kids peanuts and Cracker Jacks at a New Britain Rock Cats game. What a fun outing! I had lobbied for a 12-Months-of-Bud Pin-up Calendar, but minor league baseball was a close second on my wish list.

And even old teachers can't stay away! Joanna Frankel, formerly of E1, along with her trusty new sidekick Eli will take 3 children out for lemonade or hot chocolate. Oh can't you think of the Joanna-and-baby-loving kids who'll beg you to bid on *that*?!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Martha's Vineyard Paradise

Forgive me if I end up sounding like bad real estate copy: it is very hard to describe an incredible place without lapsing into the cliches of the business: paradise, stunning views, beautifully landscaped. . . . Meredith Michaels and Lee Bowie, grandparents of Claire Michaels (Blue Nursery) are donating their Martha's Vineyard house for a week. I'm going to attach some photos, and the description written up by Becky Michaels (Claire's mother), but I just want to say: I (Catherine) have been to this house and will never forget it. The views and the utter serenity of the spot are not like anywhere I've ever been, and the house itself is just so open and pretty and filled with light. I don't even think Becky mentioned the outdoor shower. To shower under the stars with the bay winking out in the distance? One of life's great experiences.

Also: local lobsters. Not included, but readily available.

Spend a week on Martha's Vineyard!

Beautiful home in Aquinnah, Massachusetts--at the quietest, prettiest end of Martha's Vineyard. Enjoy a view of Menemsha Pond; walking distance to pond beach (great for young kids who are not yet accustomed to waves); 3-mile drive to stunning ocean beach (great for everyone!). The main house has 3 bedrooms, each with a queen bed and two bathrooms. The "kid's house" has two single beds and two bunk beds. There are two couches in the kid's house that can also be used as beds, but (full disclosure) they are in the living area, which gets very sunny very early, so the room fills with light by 6:00am.

The main house has a big kitchen stocked with every appliance, pot, or pan a good cook needs; big living area with tons of games and puzzles; dining area that easily seats 12 if not more; outdoor shower; 5 acres for kids to romp around. It is gorgeous all year-round, though the kids' house is not winterized. The main house has heat and a wood stove.

This is a wonderful getaway. No internet access at the house, though it is available for free in the parking lot of the town library. The house is available from October 1, 2009-June 30, 2010. A security deposit of $300 is required but will be returned if nothing is damaged, and renter is responsible for paying for post-visit cleaning service (approximately $100).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You're Invited!

Please come!

The invitations are in the mail! And they were such a group effort. People typed, edited, printed and labeled (special thanks to Bridget and Nina who were a labeling tour de force). Emily Neuburger (mother of Leah in Blue Nursery) made the beautiful stamp that are we using for this year's auction image. I think it's one of those perfect images: simple and lovely and somehow capturing a piece of the Common School that makes my heart squeeze in just the right way.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More pretty things

Today I am particularly in love with all of the hand-made, hand-knit, hand-crafted beauties that are streaming in.  And then there are the paintings!  I want to post a picture of every single one.  A set of stunning earrings.  A watercolor landscape.  A small zippered pouch.  And to be honest, I have tried to find a way to get all of those photos up here but I am not quite technically savvy enough yet.  I'll keep working on it.  For now, I am hoping that these quick photos, taken on my back step, will do.

That very top image is a 9"x9" oil by Connecticut artist M. Trisha Barry, painted on hand-made clay tile.  This bottom picture is an amazing iron plant hanger, skillfully (and unbelievably to me) hand-forged by Common School alum Eric Donnelly.  OK, the middle basket was not hand-made by anyone we know but it is cool and has been hand-woven by someone.  Someone in Africa in fact.  And they did it using telephone wire.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

Too Cool

Nicole and the Fundraisers? The Bunbuns? Okay, so the auction band doesn't have an official name yet, but here's a tiny sneak preview of Nicole Blum (Blue Nursery/E1 parent) rehearsing a little Lucinda Williams. The rest of the band includes such very local and awesome musical talents as Dean Zimmerman (Blue Nursery teacher Jean Meister's husband) on bass, Darius Greenbacher (P1 parent) on guitar, Peter Michaels (Blue Nursery parent) on drums, Michael Millner (P1/E1 parent) on guitar, Lou Cove (Blue Nursery/P2 parent) on vocals, and John Sheldon (Common School friend and beloved kids' music star) on guitar. To say that they are going to rock the house down is really putting it mildly.