Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Art Studies

My children are consistently so artistically creative that it seldom occurs to me to sit down with them for planned art activities. I really love time spent working with them on projects, though, so I've been trying to participate more in their work by planning group activities that will help develop their talents and techniques. All of my children love paint, and in the past we've really enjoyed achieving a resist type look using crayons and Darren's fancy old watercolors. (This particular technique is one I remember from my childhood but is explained in detail here, at one of my favorite websites!)

So, yesterday we got out some supplies and spent some time creating works of art! We recently read A Walk in the Rainforest during our habitat studies, and thought the colorful illustrations were quite lovely, so Dylan and I chose to replicate the vibrant red-eyed tree frog pictured on it's cover. Clearly, my detail oriented mind prohibits me from deviating from the image set before me (my work is pictured above), but I just love the creative liberties that Dylan takes in his own work! Here's his interpretation, Tree Frog at Sunset:

I love it so much! And I am equally charmed by Caitlyn's darling interpretation of a flamingo in the rain. Her artistic abilities have really matured over the past few months and we are always finding the cutest drawings she's left throughout the house! (On paper, thank goodness! Unlike her mommy at the same age, who seemed to think that any large, flat surface was fair game: walls, chairs, pianos...) :)

In addition to actually creating more art, we've also been more diligent in really studying great masterpieces. Last summer, one of the free exhibits at a local museum was "Crime Lab Detectives", in which children collected and examined clues at a mock crime scene to solve the mystery. Dylan and Caitlyn loved it and created their own detective's club, complete with magnifying glasses and notebooks. :)

So, when I found a used copy of this very clever book entitled Art Fraud Detective, I knew it would be a wonderful resource for us! The unique concept of this book is one with which Dylan is completely captivated. As the "detective", the reader must carefully study 34 works of art which have been altered by gangs of forgers and identify which member forged each piece. In so doing, we really have to study these paintings carefully! Even I have been stumped by some of them and we've even had to create a new diagram for ourselves due to oversights we've made the first time around. It's riveting fun that really forces us to appreciate every minute detail of each painting in order to finally solve the mystery! It seems there are at least two other similar books in this series and eventually, I think we'd like to try those, too!

I used to think that art projects were just too much work, but now that the children are a bit older, it really is worth the time and effort to see their creativity flourish! We've kept our decor simple and understated for the duration of Lent, but after Easter I'd really like to dress up our learning room (also known as the dining room) again! I love these cheerful stained glass tissue paper flowers and I think they would be quite lovely for spring!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

While I was sleeping...

  • The crib and changing table were sold
  • The cat box was changed
  • The dishes were washed
  • The laundry was finished
  • The garden was planted
  • The most DELICIOUS dinner was prepared
  • The children were happy!
My husband rocks!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Photo Fun!

Oh my goodness! I've just discovered the most incredible free photo editing website! Christina at Living One Moment at a Time posted the most adorable photo on her blog that she edited over at Picnik! Have you heard of it? SO FUN! Really, do click over and you'll be hooked, too! I played around with one of my favorite recent pictures of Caitlyn and within mere minutes created this:

I experimented with different effects, borders, and text just to see what they'd be like, and I really love how it turned out! I just might cancel school for the rest of the day. Mama wants to play! :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Out of Doors

My mom observed this morning that I've sounded happier the last few times we've talked on the phone, and I'd have to agree that this is true. And I think that, for the most part, my greatly improved demeanor can be largely attributed to the amount of time we've been spending outside lately. It's amazing, really, how sunshine and some old fashioned hard work have done wonders for my overall disposition! Darren and I had a good start working on our garden over the weekend, and I spent two valuable hours working in the backyard with the children yesterday. And by working, I mean that I moved load after load of rocks and gravel from beneath our bedroom bay window to Darren's cactus garden, clearing the bed for what will become a beautiful Mary garden, while the children busied themselves making mud. :)

I also took the opportunity to pot up a few lonely plants that didn't quite fit into our last arrangement. The children helped me select these vibrant, cheerful gerbera daisies last Saturday, and they've added such a welcome splash of happiness to our patio!

But, while I love the bold, beautiful colors of our planned, potted displays, I think it's still the surprising little flowers, sprouting unexpectedly in obscure places, with which I am the most taken. Like undeserved gifts, they offer pure pleasure at otherwise mundane moments, gracing us with their simple and quiet beauty. Such is one of the greatest joys of gardening, I think: those happy discoveries from one season to the next, unbidden but entirely welcome.

Darren's cactus garden is alive again with some of my favorite, delicate blooms. The stark contrast they provide to an otherwise forbidding garden will never fail to delight me...and will provide, for many years to come, an overabundance of photo opportunities. :)

Some other happy discoveries yesterday, which I eagerly shared with my children, included the fascinating remains of an empty praying mantis egg case on one of our Ocotillo branches and the first of our tiny black swallowtail caterpillars on the Fennel!

In addition to time spent outside, I've also been doing a lot of cleaning, purging, and rearranging around the house, which has helped my mood tremendously. My Lenten plans haven't stayed perfectly on track, but we're doing pretty good! I'm proud of how well my children, in particular, have been steadfast in their sacrifices. We're looking forward to taking a week off from school to observe Holy Week, and are especially excited to see my brother and sister-in-law and niece and nephew at Easter! I love my life. :)

Kool-Aid Kids

May 29, 2007

March 24, 2009

I couldn't resist snapping a quick picture of my children cooling off with tall glasses of Kool-Aid during a break from playing late yesterday afternoon, but when I transferred my photos to the computer last night I was struck with a strong sense of familiarity. Sure enough, I have a nearly identical photo from two years ago! Our sweet Kristen enhances this most recent photo quite nicely, I think. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for blogging. I hope it returns soon, because I miss my online friends. In the meantime, though, there's this. (Uncannily accurate, too, I might add.)

You Are Blooming Flowers

You are an optimistic person by nature. In even the darkest times, you are hopeful about the future.

You feel truly blessed in life and can sometimes be overwhelmed with emotions.

You have an artist's eye. You are always looking for beauty in the mundane.

You have a good sense of aesthetics, especially when it comes to shapes and color.

Hat tip: Jessica (and Charlotte!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A St. Patrick's Day Birthday!

It's so hard to believe that our little Kristen Marie has turned one year old! It just doesn't seem possible that an entire year has already passed since the day she was born. But what a year it's been! It has been such a joy to witness our tiny, delicate, bud of a baby blossom into the most darling little girl. She absolutely amazes us. She was treated on Tuesday to a birthday breakfast of green pancakes with sprinkles, which she promptly devoured. My baby loves to eat! :)

After breakfast, the older children enjoyed helping me make some St. Patrick's Day treats, including some yummy snacks, green kool-aid, and scented play dough. While they were outside with Daddy enjoying a science demonstration in the cactus garden, I cut the cooled dough into shamrock shapes and packaged it into personalized baggies for each of them. They had so much fun playing with it when they came back inside!

Darren and I spent much of the afternoon in the kitchen, where I baked a birthday cake, two loaves of bread, a beautiful Irish Soda Bread, and Darren prepared a feast of corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots. My dad was unable to join us, after all, but one of my brothers did manage to make it over in time for dinner before a rehearsal he had that night. He couldn't stay for cake, but we were all too full to have any immediately after dinner, anyway! I wish I had a better to picture to share of the wonderful food, but this is all I've got. Horrible lighting, but happy children. :)

Kristen really enjoyed opening her presents (with a little help, of course, from her sisters and brother!) Because she so enjoys participating in their tea parties, the girls gave her the most adorable little tea set of her own. It is so cute! Dylan gave her some bright little Stack & Roll cups, which can stack, nest, or snap together as balls, and she loves them! Darren and I gave her a clever little Stroll-Along Walker (and coordinating baby), and it is so fun to see her practice walking!

She was so cute when it was finally time for cake. Seated securely on Caitlyn's lap, she reached out and grabbed a fistful of frosting before we could even light the candle! She seemed stunned at the delicious desert set before her when we served her her very own plate of cake and ice cream! She grinned at us with each bite and was a mess by the time she was finished! I think her sweet little fingers are still stained green. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Kristen "walking"

Yesterday was Kristen's first birthday and while I have plenty of photos to share later, I wanted to at least post this short video for my mom since I was telling her about it this morning on the phone. I'm sure Kristen's grandpa and aunts and uncles will enjoy seeing it, too. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cowboy Days, continued

I'm too exhausted to actually be blogging right now, but I wanted to share these pictures from the Cowboy Days festival we took the children to this past weekend. It was so much fun, and, though a bit cooler than usual, the weather was otherwise lovely. I am so glad my work schedule actually worked to my advantage! (I never did get called in that night!) I'd like to give a nice little commentary on each photo, but it would require too much effort and besides, they're all pretty much self explanatory. And yes, there is a ridiculous number of Kristen riding the little wooden pony but I just couldn't help myself! Enjoy!