Thursday, September 29, 2011

Art Tuesday: Messy Media

 Well for this Art Tuesday we definitely wore our old clothes, because it was messy, messy, but messy is so fun!  First we talked about "doodling", that it is drawing without a plan, just letting your hands and mind go.  We used gorgeous (but messy!) charcoal for this - dust was flying, but so was creativity!

 Next up was painting pots.  We got out acrylic paints and terra cotta pots and painted them with natural sponges.
 We came home with our creations, then after lunch Ginger and Poppy climbed into a big empty box with a case of crayons and happily colored for at least a half hour.  I know I've said it before, but Art Tuesdays truly are the BEST.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cox Farm

 Last month the Younces moved back to Virginia after three years in England.  That's my brother Dave, his wife Michelle, and their three (and a half) wonderful kids.  This week is Dave's birthday, so we all spent Saturday together at the Cox Farms Fall Festival, then had dinner and a party at their house.  Brothers, sisters-in-law and especially cousins are the BEST!

 I think Dave probably didn't know I was going to post this picture (below.)  But I think it's great he had the confidence to be the only adult in a line of kids for the rope swing.  There are several pictures of Dave in this post.  He needs to know it's just all part of living close to us.  I also hope to take, and post, pics of him in his kilt when we go to the Renaissance Festival in October. 
 E totally found an injured butterfly at the bottom of the slide and was able to pick it up and hold it for a few seconds before it half-flitted off!

On the hay ride, which Dave's kids loved and my kids were varying degrees of scared.  Kind of sums up the differences there.  But Dave was great and held Ginger on his lap and got her to laugh at the scary stuff. 
 Ginger on one of the many huge slides.  I was so impressed, she went on all the slides like the other big kids, and some of them are massive (the slides, not the kids.)  Last year she was much more timid and afraid, this year she is truly a big kid.  And when I say things like that to her, she puffs up proud and says, "I know.  I'm like a FIVE-year-old!" 

 Speaking of being a big kid, she has finally come around to wearing jeans - she never would before.  But it's great because we had about 6 pairs of jeans in the fall clothes bin in her size, so her shopping is already done.  All day on Saturday I just watched her an marveled at how much she has grown up in the last 6 months. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

First Day of Preschool

OK we are really in full swing around here.  Ginger (finally) started preschool last week - here are her first day pics.  
(She is all about that belt - I don't get it, shiny pink buckle with rainbow hearts all around, I mean what is there for a 4-year-old to like?)

 And in case you were wondering, yes that's a pug on Poppy's shirt, with a pearl necklace and bow - thank you Walmart!!!

Speaking of Poppy, I haven't posted pics in awhile.  Here she was on Sunday.  A notably "Kari" outfit so I had to take some photos.  She is 17 months and quite the bug, extremely astute and following everything her sisters do. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Art Tuesday: Cereal Box Houses

This project was my baby. I loooved thinking it up, putting it together, and I stayed up late a few nights making my model...because I wanted to. Turns out once in awhile gluing is therapeutic.

This is probably the most "crafty" thing we did all summer, and I'm conflicted because I hate the word "craft." Makes me think of all the ugly useless junk my youth leaders used to try to get me to make. However, the point of art with children, and really any art or craft or hobby, is the process. Finished products are nice, but people build models, or scrapbook, or do crosswords, or sew, or bake, or work on cars because they enjoy doing it. Which is why I hated crafts like puffy fabric-covered photo albums as a girl - they weren't my kind of process. Then I started manipulating my clothes - changing buttons, adding trim, fraying, dying, and who can forget the skirt I made out of ties? (Yes, I wore it. Often.) And I found my thing. I found my process.
These days it's baking. And doing arts, and yes, sometimes crafts, with my kids. And finding out what their processes are.

Another reason I loved this project was that I got to clean out all my craft supplies! As you will see near the end of this post, we used lots and lots and lots of stuff! It was tactile. It was 3-D. There was coloring, sticking, gluing, sprinkling, cutting, stringing, twisting. And I won't deny the fact that I took the opportunity to get a few new things, like Crayola's telescoping towers of crayons and markers:
And a paper crimper (with a 50% off coupon at AC Moore) to make "shutters":
Setting up for the project was almost as much fun as doing it!
Everybody's house was completely different (see pics below). That's how it should be. Then just to drive the point home we read "The Big Orange Splot" by Daniel Pinkwater, which I've had for years and used to use in my speech-language practice. It's about Mr. Plumbean who lives on a "neat" (= cookie cutter) street. When a seagull flies over and dumps some orange paint on his roof, he takes the opportunity to decorate his house to fit his dreams, and one by one his neighbors follow suit. A simple story about individuality, tolerance, being true to yourself, and artistic creativity. And, yes, even about the artistic process. Cereal Box Houses
What you need:
(I love this supply list - it's like those new back-to-school Target commercials, have you seen them? My favs are the kindergarten teacher - "so much glitter!" - and the music teacher "denim, denim, more denim...")

an empty cereal box for each child
glue/glue gun
colored/patterned duct tape
pipe cleaners
lightweight beads
beans/dry pasta
popsicle sticks
stickers/foam stickers
patterned scrapbook paper/cardstock
paper crimper (optional, to make shutters)
glitter (if you're up for it)

What to Do:

1. Take your cereal boxes and open the two ends. Then cut up one corner to create a totally flat piece of cardboard. You're basically going to be turning them inside out.

2. Lay out all your awesome supplies and have everyone go to town! We also cut some pre-made windows and glued yarn on them for the panes. And crimped some shutters - see above. We also told everyone to draw a door so we could cut it for them - other than that, whatever!!!3. When everything is done but the roof, cut a piece of packing tape the length of the box and use it to secure the cut corner from the inside:

4. Leave the bottom open to help it stand, and to be the "yard." Angle the top pieces to make a roof and secure with with tape on the inside, or we used patterned duct tape on the outside.

Instead of houses, you could also make a whole town or city - post office, church, library, etc. Or use different kinds of boxes for real variety.

Here are some of our finished products:
"Our houses are us and we are them. Our houses are where we want to be and they look like all our dreams." -from The Big Orange Splot

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vegging Out

Hazel has decided to be vegetarian. She announced it last night as we were sitting down to a vegetarian meal from the Dinner Swap - roasted veggie panini sandwiches, spinach salad, grapes & raspberries. But she had obviously been thinking about it.

We have a handful of vegetarians in our life, so here and there Hazel has asked questions, which I have answered. How do people become vegetarian? Either they choose it (for a variety of reasons), or their parents are, so their whole family just eats that way. Why don't they eat meat? Some don't like how it tastes, some don't like the thought of killing or eating animals, some think it's healthier. Can vegetarians eat fruit? Yes, they eat everything except meat, and some still eat fish. But they eat everything else, like rice, grapes, cereal, yogurt. Et cetera.

Yesterday at school Hazel bought lunch. When faced with cheese or pepperoni pizza, had chosen cheese, not her usual choice. When she told me this at dinner, and said she was now vegetarian, I decided to take her seriously, not like the amused reaction my parents gave me when I made the same announcement at age 11. True, I said was going to be vegetarian "except for ham", and it obviously didn't stick, but people, even children, like to be shown some respect.

We talked about how this would affect our family. We can work with it, making sure there are enough meatless choices for her. Breakfast and lunch are no big deal, so dinner is the only meal to consider, and with the Dinner Swap there will always be at least two side dishes that are usually meatless. And there is always PBJ. Actually Hazel overdosed on PBJ last year and doesn't like it anymore. Or cheese. But I have encouraged her to try to like them again because they will go a long way in expanding her vegetarian meal options. We talked about protein sources - nuts, beans, dairy - and I even told her about tofu, which I have eaten only a few times and never bought or cooked with - Ed says NO to tofu, but I think we could try it out. In fact, Ed feels overall more amused and less supportive, or maybe less believing, than I do. But when he asked her how she came to the decision, she simply told him, "I just feel done with meat." Then tonight the next Dinner Swap meal came. Really fabulous fixings for southwest chicken/taco salad - chips, lettuce, homemade bean & corn salsa, dressing, cheese and slow cooked chicken. Hazel looked around the table and said, "Mom, being vegetarian and picky is hard work." I said, "Yes it is. I think you should drop being picky." I knew she was hungry. She sat down and filled her plate with chips and lettuce and some bean salsa. Then she got out the ketchup and used it to dip her lettuce in. My girls love ketchup. Then she asked if she could have a hard-boiled egg from the fridge. And that was dinner. I didn't say anything; she seems quietly convicted.

It's interesting. I wasn't going to write about this until I knew if it would "stick", but then I changed my mind. Even if she is vegetarian for only a week, or a month, and then wants some chicken fingers, it's part of her story. It's something she has thought about, a personal decision she has made. And can change whenever she wants, like a favorite color. A chance for us to show her our respect and support, and encourage her taking responsibility and consideration for her own health.

But please oh please don't let her go vegan. Or worse (for us) - gluten-free! Vegetarian we can live with. But stop eating butter and flour...and we have a problem.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Art Tuesday: Different Paints

Now that we are into fall and all of its inherent busy-ness, Art Tuesday is done...but I am behind on posting them so I have at least three more to show you. And we had so much fun with it this summer we are trying a modified schedule of every other week in the fall. (Even though it won't be on Tuesdays anymore I am still calling it that. It has just taken on a nice sound to me.)

So this time around we showed the kids how two kinds of paints can differ - watercolor and acrylic. Watercolor is thinner, and to vary the shade you add more or less water.
This time the toddlers even took an interest and got to paint with some water.
We painted postcards.

Next up, acrylic paints. Nice ones.Acrylics are much thicker, and to vary shades you add white or black to them, though that also changes the color a bit. We painted canvases this time.

Sometimes it's just nice to say, "Here, here's some paints and brushes - just enjoy how they feel!"
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