Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another Week, Another Word, and a Special Art Lesson

A Self-Portrait Today for Project 365

That quiz below is too weird. If you haven't tried it, you should. Given that it says that I should be a stay-at-home parent - and I am - and my sister should be a lawyer - and she is - is just... impressive. :) It's not really a quiz either; you just pick a pattern and see what it says. Try it; it's fun!

So. It's Thursday again. Seems to be the only time I can find to sit and do this lately. I guess I'll just have to be okay with that. Only two weeks left of Bible study and only two weeks left for me to teach art with the co-op. I'm thankful; I'm ready for a break. I'm not ready to be dreaming of summer yet, but things feel a bit too full right now. All of my time feels spoken for.

It's not all bad, though. We've been enjoying opportunities to meet new friends and do some fun things. I'm continuing with my Project 365 on Flickr and have enjoyed the daily challenge of pausing and looking and framing an image for the day.

Visiting New Friends Down By Sarasota Bay

Walking Out on an Old Oyster Bed on Sarasota Bay

Eve holds up an Egg Case

I've been painting and working on my Everyday Life series and am learning quite a bit about watercoloring and my tools and what I like and what I want more of: primarily more time to paint!

Everyday Life Series II

Amidst busy and stressful days I am finding the painting centers me and calms me and the whole process is one I need and relish.

I am working at being more gentle with myself regarding school and am trying to inject more color and fun into our days - whatever that means for that day. It seems its been a typical January with feeling overwhelmed at being smack-dab in the middle of the year and needing to stretch the boundaries a bit and remember to have as much fun as possible in the midst of the everyday.

I continue to mull over my word for the year which is: Imagine. I told my girls about picking a word for myself and suggested they pick words for themselves this year. I explained that for me, imagine, for now, wasn't so rooted in the art and design that I thought might be assumed, but instead about imagining my world as I would have it be and making steps toward creating that.

Eve has not picked a word quite yet, but I was fascinated to discover Maia immediately named her word of the year: Strength. When I asked her about it, she said she felt she needed strength for the things she's been thinking about herself from time to time lately. At 11 she is developing a new self-consciousness that she's not all sure she likes. This led to a whole new discussion about ways that she will be developing (emotionally) in the coming years. I talked to her about how very normal it is for middle-school aged kids to become very self-conscious and that other kids her age were likely thinking about themselves as much as she was. I also told her that she ought to remember that she will be thinking about and scrutinizing herself waaaaayyy more than her friends will be. I related it to the recent class I taught on Monet and the Impressionists. I said that she would look at herself as though she were up very, very close to the painting, seeing only blobs and smears and that she would spend a great deal of time trying to get those blobs and smears to be just right. Her friends, on the other hand, would be like a viewer in a museum, seeing the whole, wonderful painting and all its blended colors. They would see it and appreciate in in a fleeting moment of time and then move on, not realizing the amount of time the artist had spent arranging that painting, just so. And she got it. She did - for today anyway - and hopefully she'll be able to think of that image from time to time as she approaches her teen years.

Maia and her beloved Webkinz

So an art lesson in a different vein. An art lesson for life and a new word. Strength for a growing girl who is becoming.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Crazy Busy - Too Tired to Post - Easy Quiz

You Should Be a Social Worker

You are deeply caring and empathetic.
You are able to take on other people's problems as if they were your own.
Sensitive and intuitive, you understand human emotions well.
Helping others gives you the most joy in life. You feel like it's your purpose in life.

You do best when you:

- Have a lot of responsibility
- Greatly impact someone's life with your work

You would also be a good philanthropist or stay at home parent.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Notes on a Thursday

A bit of sunshine on a gray day

Wow; can it be Thursday already?

This year, I am loving Thursdays. We usually have nothing scheduled on this day and we get lots of good school work and snuggly, reading time done on the couch. The weather has lent its hand perfectly in matching my "dressed-in-sweats-no-makeup-hair-in-a-ponytail" mood. It's been gray all day and I'm actually okay with that.

I got a good walk in this morning and enjoyed walking through morning fog. I have been wanting more regular exercise and am trying to schedule it in more and more. I don't know how well it is working - especially this week - but I am trying and it is in my mind to do so.

I looked into joining the YMCA here, because I thought it would be fun if I could have my family with me. Maybe we could all head down once-a-week together or something. Maybe the girls could play in the pool while I swam laps. We all bike and walk together, but not always, and exercising alone is not always the most inspiring for me. Sure, I have my iPod, but there's something to that human companionship thing that gets me every time.

But, um, the Y is $900 a year for a family. Does that seem a bit steep to you? Maybe I've been out of the whole health club scene for too long and I'm naive about prices, but let's just say that walking alone in the morning doesn't look too shabby now that I think about it.

On Monday we visited some friends who live on part of what used to be an orange grove. They've got 6 acres and live on less than one of it, so there are still plenty of orange trees out there. Since our tree is behind schedule this year, we took her up on her offer of picking yummy tangelos and I juiced a bunch yesterday.

It's that citrusey time of year! We finished a bunch of tangerines from Miss Helen down the street and Even and I split a huge grapefruit this morning. It's nice to have some success with some harvest!

I pulled out the remaining tomato plants this past weekend. That hard freeze really did them in. I put down some manure and tried yet another planting of carrots and lettuce. *sigh* It's been so dry and our schedule has been such that I haven't been diligent in keeping the ground we until the seedlings come up. But the rain has helped out nicely this week and I'm trying to remain consistent with the watering. I'm hopeful for this next batch of seeds.

A package arrived in the mail today: 462 photos from Snapfish. Heh, heh. It's a wee bit heavy.
I finally ordered prints from way back in May. I have a bit of photo album work ahead of me, so I think I'll sign of for today!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fun, Whirlwind Weekend!

The Scrambler. The Spider. The Scorpion.

That's right, we've been to the county fair! Actually, we've had a whirlwind of a weekend, it seems, but today... today was the fair.

We made out pretty well. Maia got a 3rd place ribbon for her corn muffins. We decided that next year we'd have her do something sweeter in a category that seems to be dominated by sweet treats. I received 2 red ribbons - one for my Little Guy and one for my potato salad - and Eve was the champ this year, bringing home a red rosette ribbon for her cross stitch and a blue rosette ribbon for her fruit dip. Her rosettes earned her a total of $18.00! Was she ever surprised! I can tell you, my girls will be crafting up new ideas for next year's fair after they've seen how lucrative it can be! :)

I know it's cold up north when we are feeling chilly here. The air was cool and crisp today as the wind continued to push down from the north. It made for quite a different fair day than the hot and sticky one of two years ago. Still, we managed to created enough sticky with our cotton candy and funnel cakes.

On Friday we had a busy intro to our weekend with a homeschool field trip out to a local nature center. Later that afternoon we headed out to the girls' first concert; we went up to Tampa for Winter Jam 2008! And a very loud time was had by all! :)

I continue with Project 365. I am on day 10 today. It's interesting trying to frame photos for the project. It seems easier when there is an event to record. Yesterday I'd planned to do nothing as I recovered from the day before. It was nice and restful, but then I was left with "nothing" to photograph. Obviously, there's always something to photograph, but I can see how this project is going to push me some days.

Day 9 - "We Three Friends"

Another series I am working on at the moment is in my sketchbook. I'm calling this my Everyday Life series. I'm working from photographs (I really do have plenty!) and just painting things in our everyday lives right now. This is the first one:

It's taken from a photograph of the girls making Halloween cookies in 2006. They were baking with their dolls. Here, Maia is holding her American Girl doll, Kirsten. Kirsten is wearing a chef's hat - which I painted purple. Our counters aren't really purple ether, but I'm using my creative license!
I'm hoping to create some larger pieces this year too. I'd like to do a picture of our home and then begin to dabble in some other larger pieces throughout the year.

Thanks again for stopping by and having a look. I hope you've all had as fun a weekend as we have!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day of Discovery

Yesterday we went to Pre-HEAT (Home Educated Athletic Teams). Our homeschool support group has over 500 families in Manatee County and the surrounding areas. The Manatee HEAT has enough children to compete in competitive sports with other class A public and private schools in our county.

While the HEAT compete at the varsity and jr. varsity levels, Pre-HEAT is for the elementary grades through 6th grade. We are not hard and fast with that age cut-off, but we usually find that if the older kids don't want to compete in HEAT, they enjoy coaching and helping out with parent coaches. They earn community service hours doing this.

So, every Wednesday we all converge on the park for about 2 hours. The first hour is spent in the sport we are currently learning and the second is for lunch under the picnic shelter. I would say we average about 50 children a week.

This week was our second week of basketball and the first week of tennis. My girls chose tennis and found Miss Kim to be a terrific teacher. Maia and Eve are not into competitive sports, but yesterday they really liked it! Hooray! Maybe they've found their sport!

But the real magic of the day happened after the lessons were done.

As I said, we meet at an area park. This is actually a park that is for members of this development only, unless you are a guest of a resident. Thankfully, our group has a number of folks who live in this neighborhood and so we are allowed there. I won't even tell you how I feel about this policy, because I know I have before. But we just won't go there today.

I only mention it because, while there is this exclusive/expensive park, the kids led us to this place off in the woods (to the left in the picture), behind the park and that is where the real fun began!

Can you see here where someone sat in some mud? :)

I am thankful that some places have been left undeveloped like this. I imagine, sometimes what it must have been like for children in my parents' and grandparents' generations to have unspoiled places like this to play. Those are all genuine smiles on their faces; not once did I need to say, "Say cheeeeeeese!"

I noticed a few plastic bottles in the stream. There always are , it seems. Next time we'll take a bag an clean the place up a bit. We won't have to wait long for that; the girls can't wait to go back!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Project Photos

Above, is my picture from Day 3 of Project 365. My friend and her family are looking for a church to attend and visited ours today. That's one of her sons sitting on his daddy's lap in the background there.

Yesterday I took a walk and snapped this shot of a tree that blooms every January. It has a haunted look to it, as its branches are bare, save for these blossoms and the Spanish moss that drapes from the branches. This is the shot I submitted to the project, but the others are additional shots I took.

Finally, the leaves I sketched on Friday were painted in on Friday night. They're pretty simplistic, but provide for me a good memory of our day.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Projects, Clean Spaces

What a hectic week it's been! Do you ever start to get cranky when you can't get to "your" things? "My" things are my knitting, drawing, and journaling. When things get too hectic and I can't get to them like I'd planned and hoped to do, I find my patience wearing quite thin. Today has been much, much better, though, with nowhere to go. Oh, thank heaven! In fact, we canceled something in order to do just that, because I needed it so badly.

So, today... better. I even got to sit down and sketch while the girls worked on their notebooks for botany. They glued down and classified leaves according to shape, venation (the way the veins appear in the leaf), and margin (the outer edge of the leaf - smooth? serrated? etc.). While they glued I sketched the leaves with watercolor pencils into my watercolor moleskine and will "paint" them with with the water tonight. It was so peaceful sitting there with them. The windows were open, the grackles and red-winged blackbirds had a constant chatter going, and we listened to classical music on the radio. As we turned on the music, I noted that it sounded "sneaky." Eve said, "That's the thing about classical music. It tells a story." So nice. :)

I felt all of the tension of this past week easing out of my neck and shoulders onto the paper. As I colored in my leaves I remembered how much I loved coloring books as a child - a trait neither of my children shares with me. Filling in with color is something that carries over into my crafting too: cross stitch and embroidery are like this.

Not that I need one more thing to do, but I decided to join the Flickr group, Project 365. One photo a day for a year. I'm sure it will prove to be an interesting journey and I'm really hoping I won't miss a day. As it grows, perhaps I will create a link to my set here for anyone who is interested. It's so scary making a commitment like this. I'm gentle with myself with my resolutions, but I really want to push to try to do one picture. It's not one piece of hand-made art a day. I should be able to point and shoot once a day... right?

My first photo is there at the top. It's called, "Lucy Dog - Woof!" That's what my husband likes to say to her every so often. :)

Non-digital work takes place at my newly revamped "command central." My desk that took 4 hours to clean on new year's day was worth it!

I still needed a drawer for everything that wasn't categorized. Camera case, cords, and candy from my stocking are here in the top, left drawer.

My written journal and supplies are in here. My current magazines and a couple of catalogs are in here too. As I read, I snip and clip favorite/inspiring photos ~ whatever catches my eye. I'll spend time just cutting and taping in some pages for filling in with writing later. I find this activity wonderfully relaxing. :)

My art journals are in here along with a bowl for gesso or glue and a rag for wiping my brushes.

Note cards and stamps are here, along with a couple of current letters that need a response. Below, in the files, I also have folder with stationary that won't fit in here and images and stickers.

"Stolen" from my younger daughter. This came with some foam stamps and paints and was a gift to her for her 3rd birthday. She's long since outgrown those supplies and I confiscated the box!

I love these side boxes for pencils, charcoal, and smudge sticks.

That's it from me today. The family is waiting for me so we can go on our evening walk. Have a great night everyone!

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