Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dress Rehearsal


A little doll...

Book/Stuffie swap
I made this little doll for a book/stuffie swap on swap-bot. It is the first thing I've made that I had a hard time letting go of. Just something about it called out to me. So I will definitely make more to keep around the house. The daughter's birthday is a few months down the road, I think a few dolls that represent fairy tales or nursery rhymes would be cool. Must put that on the to do list.

I found this book at our brilliant second hand bookseller. I fell in love with the illustrations and the story was based on a Scottish traditional oral story. Just all around nice book.
Book/Stuffie swap

Picture of the girl I based the stuffie on. My version is of this girl after being caught on a windy damp day. Hence the fly away curly hair.
Book/Stuffie swap

Here she is a work in progress.
Book/Stuffie swap

Here she is nekkid.
Book/Stuffie swap

I also sent a small store bought fox stuffie, since the book was basically about a fox. I intended to do one of the prince as well, but holy cow, the girl took a lot more time than I anticipated. I hope they love her in her new home!
Book/Stuffie swap 2

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Best Therapy Ever!

We were the lucky recipients of a drum set.

The new and improved (and a bit crowded), music corner. Check out my boys 'rock-n-roll' sneer.

One would think that one small house, three kids and a massive, imposing, loud drum set would be a bad combo. I know I did. But my husband's aunt offered us hers. We had asked her if she could give the boy a few simple lessons for drums because he has been wanting to learn so badly, and she insisted we take her set. Somewhat like asking someone to teach you to drive and having them give you their car. She was just over their loudness and bigness. So of course, we said yes. And I. LOVE. THEM. In all their booming glory.

The boy thinks they are his. But secretly I think they are mine. They are that fun. Oh, and our neighbors? Now we just fit in. There are a few drummers on the block, and a regular drum circle across the street, (behind the frat boy house). So a little more noise will probably not be too intrusive. One perk to living in the 'renaissance zone'. Ahem.

And for any drum geeks out there, I realize they aren't set up right and we are missing cymbals. We were in the process of fitting it in when I snapped these and we are still debating the cymbals. There is a limit to the noise a person can handle in a home. However, right now they are in our entry and make for the coolest doorbell ever.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is this the face of a future math geek?*


About a month or so back our lives got somewhat insane with my husband's work schedule, a change in my routine and getting more involved with my husband's business, and just life in general. Hey, the sun came out and woke us up finally. :) At that time I stopped doing the structured daily math curriculum we use. Right Start Math. Lately the girl was grumbling and fighting me and in the midst of everything else it didn't seem worth it.

Fast forward to recent weeks and some sort of odd observations. Earlier this year we subscribed to the online Art lessons GeeArt16. We all loved it so very much. It was just a very fun program. We completed the lessons together but the kids have gone through them over and over alone since then. There is one lesson titled nature + math = beauty, and my daughter has been obsessed with it. In fact one day I was soaking in the tub and she walked in with a paper where she wrote 5 ÷ 34 = 1.618. I asked her what that was and she told me it was the golden ratio. I asked her if she knew what that meant and she went into the whole fibonacci numbers/sequence jazz. Hey, I read The Da Vinci Code, I could follow. At this point she was just sort of showing me she watched the lesson enough to regurgitate this stuff though. What impressed me was she knew what division was and that wasn't in the lesson and it is something we have just lightly covered here and there.

The next odd thing was we were doing Pokemon Learning League. Yeah, yeah, we are computer people, whatever... Don't worry we see the sunlight. It is a website aimed for 3rd-6th grade students. Some of the stuff is very reachable for younger kids though. And then some, not so much. She wanted to do a math lesson that I felt was a bit too steep for her, but let her do it anyway. Pretty soon we were neck deep into problems like 9-6+(3+4)+2² and 16÷4x2+3. I mean these aren't genius problems, but it is far over where we had been working. We watched the lesson (which was about the proper way to read a math problem in order to solve it correctly), and then I helped her do the problem. It wasn't like she did it herself. I am not claiming that. But she followed me with just as much understanding on the harder concepts presented with these as she had with the easier stuff we had been tackling before. And with much greater enthusiasm.

Then tonight. I was reading Matilda to her before bedtime. A lovely violent book Matilda is, no? Great bedtime stuff. Well the Trunchbull was yelling at some kid to tell her 'if she had seven apples, seven oranges, and seven of something else how much fruit would she have'. My girl immediately said 21. I looked at her shocked and asked how she knew that and she just shrugged and said she counted. But it was practically an immediate answer. So I don't think so. Then, just so I didn't shrug it off she did it again. Trunchbull asked another kid an 8 and 8 and 8 verbal question. And my daughter provided an immediate answer of 24.

My girl has always been scary logical. So math probably makes her all warm, fuzzy and calm inside. It makes sense to her organized brain. I have done my best to make math fun and more like puzzles and a language for my kids than the tedium that I experienced for math but at ages 6 and 4 I haven't gone nuts with it yet. I am really excited about math again and this has caused me to see my daughter in a new way. This is something that belongs to her, not me. It makes me step back and see her as in individual, not just a little me in a daughter suit.

I am not saying she is beyond Rightstart Math. I just think it is time to buy the next couple books as I feel this program has been instrumental in helping her grasp the concepts and language of math. How cool is it when your kids surprise you and their image snaps into focus a bit more? And how cool is it that my child is teaching ME how to love a subject that I pretty much hated for three decades?

* I hesitated to write this post since I didn't want it to come across that I think my kid is some kind of homeschooling genius creature. She's smart and silly and has areas that her mind is especially awake - just like every other kid on the planet. Math is important, but I think people glorify it because of the general belief that it is hard. When really it is just presented in a boring fashion most of the time, so even the kids whose brains spin naturally in that area are turned off to it. This post is more about how our own kids can take us by surprise, moving the mask of childhood aside for a moment to give us a startlingly clear and wonderful image of who they are to themselves. Leaving us, the parents, to smack ourselves in the forehead saying, "Of course this is you. I was sort of caught up for awhile with what I thought was you. But now I see, and you are so darn beautiful."

As night and day...

Last night:
Three of us tossing and turning until past 4am. Two end up throwing up, another one moans in his sleep throughout the night. Another one lamed up in his teen cave with a broken collar bone. Three are stuffy. I am not sick but I am one of the awake ones. I comfort, I soothe, I clean, I am exhausted.

Road trip with mom and sister. Serious girl shopping done. Craft stores, coffee shop, and Target. Whew. That is better!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Give a girl a camera...

And she uses up all your disk space. But has so much fun you don't mind. A few shots from my budding photographer.

Self Portrait

Block Pyramid

A Window Study

A detail of her 'Soap Store' she sets up in her playroom

What she was avoiding...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Magic Wand Factory

Magic wands waiting to be painted. My daughter and I made so many she wanted to pretend that we were working in a magic wand factory. She was a hard little worker.

Another shot, just to appreciate how involved the daughter and I became with this project. It was that fun, and there's still more fun to be had. The painting and decorating is the best part.

We've done this project before for the magic themed birthday party that didn't really get off the ground. (Due to a little brother who battled the corner of a kitchen cabinet and lost.) We had so much fun making these before, my daughter was excited when I told her I wanted to make more. She really helped me this time around. Last year she just watched me make them and then painted a few. This year she was very hands on all the way. You can't see it well but the wands in the picture have marbles and fake gems embedded in the ends. An addition we came up with that I am THRILLED with since it used a ton of the extra marbles we have laying around (and somehow always end up under my feet).

I will post a picture of the finished project later. I just thought all the white wands piled together looked cool so I had to take a picture. However, if you want to see this project completed you can go straight to the source where I got the plans for it, Dadcando. Here's a link directly to the wand plans. If you have never seen this site before prepare to be thrilled. It has such amazing projects to do with kids. It is written by a dad to help inspire other dads to be involved in their kid's world. But I don't think he'd mind a few moms using some of his ideas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I am so behind on blogging. Not that there is any deadline here but my own, I still enjoy keeping track of the highlights of my days. The highlights being the cute stuff my kids do or projects we undertake to entertain ourselves. Since I participate in some swaps on swap-bot I don't like to post things I make for those until I am pretty sure the people have received the item. Don't want to ruin the surprise if they happen upon this blog. That leads to me forgetting about them until I log into my photobucket account. And once a picture is in my photobucket it must be blogged. So there you go. A clear picture of my OCDness.

Anyway... I joined a swap awhile back where we had to make a zillion bookmarks. It gave me an opportunity to use my new, lovely colored pencils my wonderful man gifted me with awhile back. I did three sets of Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Juliet and an extra Juliet. They have quotes from their own stories pertaining to books on them.

Set 1:

Set 2:

Set 3:

2 Juliets:

These were so fun to make. Someone asked me if I ever made a mermaid one. Now I must try it. My daughter made a bunch of bookmarks too and they were so cute. However, they got scattered too quickly to all ther secret little places where she squirrels things away, so I didn't get a photo op. I would search them out, but it makes my nerves ragged to venture into the scary territory where she hoards her 'collections'. Remember my OCD tendencies I mentioned? I don't do well with her system of organization. One that involves many bags within bags, that are stuffed in boxes and set in corners. Wait... what was I talking about? Oh yeah, bookmarks.

Mother's Day


Is there anyone else in the world that got the combo of kid picked bouquets, a new mortar pestle and Police concert tickets for Mother's Day? Anyone, anyone? What a fun day. Not to mention my kids had their first sleep over ever with grandma. Did I get pictures of them all packed up, cute and excited? Nope, I was too excited to head down to the concert! I haven't found any youtube footage of the actual concert I was at, but here is a taste from another venue...

Memories of the concert:

• Group of drunk kids behind us (one who actually poured their beer upon the very cool, laid back couple beside us. THANK GOODNESS it wasn't my husband. My concert would have ended there... Hearing them lament that they were surrounded by a bunch of old people. Snort. Since both the Police and Elvis Costello have been around since before they were born, that would have probably been a clue that the crowd might not be as young and hip as they might like :)

• Hearing the same kids say... "I am not familiar with Elvis Costello, but I checked his Myspace and he seems to be getting popular since he's been touring with the Police." This is in response to why Elvis got over an hour to play before the Police. Can I say AWESOME concert for those of us who loved Elvis Costello before there was a myspace on which to confirm his coolness.

• I loved how enthusiastic and upbeat the bands were. Like they were happy to play our smallish scene. They seemed to have a blast. Played an amazing show and everyone just seemed overtaken with the energy of it all by the end.

• Just the whole experience. The drive with my husband. The calm before the concert, an hour sitting in comfy seats watching the stage get set. Watching people. Hearing the band that turned me into a music lover play. It was such a great time. Thanks mom for watching the kids!!! How is that for Mother's Day? As a gift to my mother I dropped my kid of for a day and a night? She's cool like that though. My kids didn't want to leave so I the visit was a success for them as well.

So fun! Bathtub paint.

The masterpiece:

The ingredients:

The amazing colors:

The fun:


Where I found the idea. The Crafty Crow. One of my favorite blogs. Where the recipe was posted originally. Pepper Paints. Another fun blog.

We've been mixing up this paint since I first saw the post and it always amazes me on what a great time this is for all of us. It is so easy to mix up. The colors are so pleasing to me. The texture soft and as non-toxic as the ingredients you choose. The kids love it. It combines three of the ultimate pleasures, baths, painting, and mess making. And it involves two of my all time favorite things. Low mess maintenance and making the little people in my life very happy. Can't beat that combo in an activity!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Four Year Old Logic


"When I say sorry, it makes me feel sad. When I feel sad, it makes my eyes water. And then I can feel me turning good inside."

I love that little guy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Uncle Traveling Matt

Title a hat tip to Fraggle Rock. Any fans? Oh how I love Fraggle Rock. I have the first season on DVD and force the kids to watch it with me from time to time. On FR there is a character, Uncle Traveling Matt, who travels the world outside of FR and sends back postcards. It is all mysterious and amazing to the homebound Fraggles. He lives a life of adventure, not the same-old-thing-every-day for UTM. No sir. As for the Fraggles stuck home at the rock, receiving a postcard brings about longings for adventure in their own lives. However, more often than not, they realize that life at home can be an adventure as well. There is a message in there that I am currently trying hard to embrace. As trips outside our rock will be a bit limited for awhile.

My kids have a sort of honorary Uncle Traveling Matt. However, she is more of a Second-Cousin Traveling Amy. Doesn't have the same ring does it? She is one of the coolest chicks I know and has spent her adulthood teaching in foreign countries, and traveling to yet others on vacation. She has taught in Venezuela, Brazil, I might be missing another country. Next on the line up is Israel after summer. She just returned from a month long trip to India where she went to volunteer time in orphanages and to further her study in yoga.

She always does better than postcards. This was what she brought back this time.

Real Chai. For my husband's fetish. I will inherit the cool elephant box when it is empty of said chai. I am willing to wrestle my daughter for this box. I will win. I am bigger and meaner.

Bindi powder in succulent colorful splendor. And small stamps for making artful bindis. I sense a very amazingly jeweled and beautiful halloween costume in our future. Anyone know how to fold a sari?

Sigh. There's no place like home. There's no place like home. There's no place like home? Right?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Clay Picture Tutorial: Part III - Messy Middle Part

Here are the links to the first two installments of this tutorial. Slow and steady is the only way things get done around here folks. Part I. Part II.

Usually I can't help myself and start a tile or two before I get to this point. At this time I just place them on the board for guidance but I don't glue them down yet. Then I get out some paper and start to make patterns of where I want the other tiles to lay. It gets a little messy with the tiny bits of paper and stuff. But I really love this part. It is like putting together a puzzle.


Close up.

I then use the paper "tiles" as templates for the real thing. I roll out plain white polymer clay into desired tile thickness and cut the tiles around the patterns. Then stamp or write quotes on the tiles. For me this gets messy. But that is just how my mind works. I will often stop and clear the space, wash the stamps, table and tools. Lay down new paper. Then make more tiles.


After I get my aluminum foil "pan" filled, I will bake that batch of tiles. Then I flatten them under the book and glue them down once they cool. I then sometimes have to cut down the sizes of the paper tiles left. Or change them based on the size of the quotes I pick. Kid scissors work fine for this, which is a good thing, since all of my scissors seem to have abandoned me in my time of need. Kid scissors work for cutting down baked tiles as well. Who knew?

Doesn't that mess make your breath catch up in your throat somewhere? Just me? Actually, it gets that way since at that point I am so in a zone. Just me rolling clay, stamping, cutting, baking, gluing. Listening to books on my ipod. Labyrinth by Kate Moss for this project. Great story so far, (haven't finished it yet).

Okay, next tutorial post should wrap it up, and I get to share the stress I endure when it comes time to paint.

Has it been five days?

I have been here...


Buried in this book. I had been looking for something exactly like this and am so happy to have found such a perfect fit for my needs. I will probably end up buying this too.

The main problem I had in school was the lack of cohesiveness between subjects. It became a huge pet peeve of mine and I would bug the teachers as to why things weren't connected. To me some classes barely made sense standing alone, and did I even need some of them for my future? I was NEVER given a good answer. (And I apologize to my teachers for being one of those PITA students.) I loved school and did well there, so that isn't where I am going. I just wanted to know why I needed to take Calculus and where Chemistry fit into the broad scheme of things.

This whole curriculum seems to be based on a inclusive view of subjects (themes). So far I have accomplished this naturally with my pet subjects. It has been easy for me to fit history with art, music and have reading and writing a happy addition to projects involving those topics. But what about science and math? How do those fit within my desire for a cohesive educational experience for my kids? This book seems to be the answer.