Friday, May 20, 2011


Trips to the library yield great finds for our family. Recently we discovered a set of books that the kids really enjoyed. The books are by Laurence Anholt and part of an artists series. Each books covers a great master and their contribution to the art world. The first book we read was Degas and the Little Dancer (Anholt's Artists Books for Children). It was fantastic and led to many questions about the artist's sculptures.

I decided to try some art projects with the books, since we finally have our creativity space back. I remembered a book we had that would work well, Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters.
There were two projects for Degas. We decided to try the Resist in Motion project first. It was fantastic. Eamon, Aine and I drew our main pieces on cardboard (a car, a truck and a bicycle respectively). I then helped them cut their individual designs. We traced them with crayon and set to work with watercolors. This project then led the way to much painting and drawing. We talked about blending colors and used a bit of tissue paper to blot areas.

Aine's finished piece
 We plan to try the other Degas project before delving into the next book we checked out of the library, Camille and the Sunflowers (Anholt's Artists). It is such fun!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Some Days...

I even impress myself. Today was one of them. Eamon had a friend over to play. I set out a quick snack for everyone to enjoy - oranges, popcorn and crudite. It was a hit. You don't want to see the aftermath. Days like this, I miss our dog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back at it

A I mentioned yesterday, I have been cleaning up the house. Our dining room table is a hot spot in our house for clutter. It is intended to be used as a large crafting space, since we eat primarily in our kitchen nook. Recently the space has been unusable. Piles of stuff accumulate on its surface. I have tried to clear it off, but it seems to be a never ending job. As part of my recent purging and rearranging, I decided to tackle this area.

I started by cleaning out the drawers of the buffet adjacent to the table. The drawers were full of coloring books, workbooks, and drawing paper of all kinds. I also pulled everything off the two lower shelves.

Once the drawers and shelves were emptied, I got to work. The coloring books were the first thing to go. My children do not use the coloring books or workbooks. Once the pages have been used in a book, they toss it aside for a new one. I have been unable to convince them that the unused pages are empty canvases just waiting for them. They scoff and open a new one. I figured someone else would enjoy these. I then tackled the notebooks. Many of them were half-filled as well. A quick clearing out of used pages made them new again. The drawers are now empty of everything but canvases, fingerpaint paper, several notebooks and pads of notebook paper.

Paper of all kinds was another challenge. I purchased a block of multi-colored construction paper a year ago. To use it was a disaster. Construction paper would go all over the place. A trip to IKEA seemed to be in order to help organize it. I had tried looking at Goodwill and asking friends, but no one had something that would work. The kids helped me pick out what we thought would work best. Two wire letter trays now hold our paper. The colors of paper are separate and much easier to use.

Bins were returned to the shelves. This was the same, however I added labels to the front of each box. Now we have a place for paint, pastels, stickers, playdough, stamps and science supplies. Our paper letter trays also reside on the lower shelves.
The change has been dramatic. We are back to creating art daily. I make sure the table is clean every night and set out something for them in the morning. Aine loves having a project each day. I am loving our reclaiming of the space and the rediscovery of art.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Little Voice said Rippit

I never posted last week for Ginny's Yarn Along. I didn't post, because I had ripped out the shawl I was knitting. It just wasn't right, and I knew it. Of course, I kept ignoring the little voice in my head. I forged ahead. I kept telling myself I could block it, and the fabric would be fine. The voice said I should change to a bigger needle; I didn't listen. I didn't want to stop. I didn't want to frog the shawl. It wasn't until my friend felt the shawl. She immediately told me the fabric was stiff. Drat. She was right. I could ignore the voices in my head, but I couldn't ignore her. So, while sitting at the park, I ripped back my shawl. I think she felt bad, but truly she was just echoing my inner thoughts.

So, I moved up a needle size and cast-on again last Tuesday. Changing to larger needles has really helped the feel of the shawl. I am currently knitting the back, which means I am further than when I ripped it out. Woo Hoo! It is a simple shawl reminiscent of the one worn in the new Jane Eyre film. The pattern is easy, and I should have it done by next week. Of course, a shawl in Arizona during the summer is not truly necessary. I will probably use it when confronted with the frigid air-conditioning found in most places or wait until winter (which is many months away!).
To Eyre Shawl 
I finished a quick read that a friend gave me entitled Body Surfing by Anita Shreve. The book follows a woman and her involvement with multiple members of a family. It was an interesting exploration of a family dynamic and the psychology of marriage. Since it was a quick read, I finished after a few days and was able to start Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I have had this book on hold at the library several times. Each time previously I was already reading something when it was available for pickup. This time I was ready for it. I will have more to share about it next week.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Been Ruminating

I have been quiet lately. I am not sure if it is the change of seasons or just a general funk. We are trying news things and exploring different options here. I finished cleaning up our main living areas. I still have our bedroom to tackle, but already the house feels better.

The kiddos are deciding what activities they want to pursue this summer. Unlike our big trip last summer, we are staying home this year. Eamon wants to continue with swim team and ceramics. Aine would like to join the swim team again as well as gymnastics and horseback riding. Benton wants to swim and play. 

I am devising ways to play, learn and enjoy the summer despite the heat. I am sure lots of time will be spent swimming, reading, going on day-trips and perhaps camping a bit. I plan on updating everyone a bit better.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Who knew

Apparently beginning reader books from the library do not hold up well in the washing machine.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

More Classification

While taking out the trash, I spotted this odd looking leaf on the kitchen window screen. Closer inspection revealed a very large moth. I called the kids out to take a look. Eamon ran inside and brought out Butterflies and Moths, one of our field guides, to identify it. Each of us flipped through the pages until we found the right species. It is an Achemon Sphinx moth. We looked at more photos on the internet once we made a positive identification. This led to much discussion about its relative size and colorful smaller wings.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Moving Right Along

I am not sure what happened this week. I apologize for the lack of blog posts. I think I must have used all my spare time to knit. Another project flew off my needles this week. Of course, in all fairness knitting for babies is quick and rewarding. I managed to start and finish the second pair of monster longies. A few of you asked me about the pattern. I did not make up the pattern. I probably could, since I have knit my fair share of shorties and longies during our days of cloth diapers. Instead I used the grumpybum pattern, which is available for free. I think they turned out well. I hope the recipient is pleased and her twins don't roast in them!
Monster Longies
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a thread on Ravelry about the Jane Eyre movie and a shawl featured in a few scenes. Although I have not seen the movie or read the book recently, I was drawn into the conversation. I ended up following the thread and eventually volunteering to test knit a new pattern. The designer requested a technical edit for the fastest turnaround. I found a few additions to the pattern, and was rewarded with the pattern for free. I was eager to start, but wanted to finish my sweater and the pair of longies first. Now that my queue is clear, I am casting on for this shawl. I will start reading Jane Eyre to go along with my knitting as soon as I finish Coop.
Shawl for Ginny's Yarn Along