Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Thursday, October 29, 2015

ART PROJECT: Day of the Dead Metalwork

Originally posted October 17, 2012

 A friend and I alternate teaching a once-a-month art class to 10 homeschool children ages 8 - 12 (funny thing - this is only 3 families, including my own).  This month I thought it would be fun to do something spook-inspired in honor of Halloween, but I feel like we've done so much traditional Halloween art that I thought investigating a different culture might be fun.  As such, I searched around and found a very cool project over at Dick Blick - Day of the Dead Triptychs.  I knew that in the time given there was no way the kids would be able to complete all three panels. My goal was that they each fully complete one panel, hopefully two - and they did. In the two hours allotted, each child was able to complete a completely metal-and-paint panel and one with a paper maché skull.  We were also able to incorporate a quick Day of the Dead lesson (though shamefully I forgot my laptop on which I'd created, if I do say so myself, a pretty awesome power point presentation that included many pictures of beautiful DoD artwork) and a snack of pan de los muertos, baked (and completely veganized) by a friend. I combined my children's creations to make triptychs (and one bi-panel) and we're using these to decorate our home.
If you want to give these a go you should know that the panels were fairly inexpensive, though mostly because I bought in bulk (just don't tell my husband!) to bring the cost down and used paint & tools I already owned.  I figured it cost approximately $1.50 per panel, maybe a little more but close enough.  If you don't buy in bulk the cost will probably at least double. And if you don't have metal embossing tools you'll either need to buy them or go without. The kids actually used the blunt end of paintbrushes to do most of the work, but I also have some tools (a crimper, stampers, etc.) that they were able to work with.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Get Creative (with writing!) for Halloween: Tombstone Prompts

(Reblogged from here).
A few years ago, I was teaching a workshop-style creative writing class to middle school and high school girls and decided to focus on "horror" as the genre for October. I did a different warm-up exercise each week, and the one that turned out to be my favorite was writing short stories based on funny tombstone epitaphs. The girls had a blast and came up with some amazing material! I have kept this trick in my bag and use it myself from time to time. This exercise could be simply that - a writing exercise. Or you can take it further - it could turn into a poem, a work of flash fiction, a short story, or even a full-blown novel if you take it and run! Even better? This exercise is one that the whole family can do together. It can easily be adapted for younger children by having them draw a picture and only a few short lines, while middle grade and high school children can join in the short story fun.
I've included a few epitaphs (supposedly from real tombstones) to help the juices flowing. (Click on the image to enlarge.) Don't see one that calls to you? No worries! Check out this list from BYUthis collection from Amanda Chatel at Bustle, or this list (also linked above) from My Time Matters for more inspiring (and funny!) words from the graveyard.
If you try the exercise, let me know - I'd love to hear what you think!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Overdue Update...

As you can probably tell from the picture to the left, over the past few months my world has been turned upside down!

Please visit my new online home!

A lot has changed in the past year.  My husband's father fell ill after Labor Day last fall, and my husband flew out to be with him for a few days.  Those three days turned into six months.  Sadly, my father-in-law passed away after battling his illness and I am forever grateful that my husband was able to spend those precious months with him.  It was difficult for the girls and I, but we managed.  Our homeschool year did not go as planned, but it did go.  My husband came home and we tried to finish out the year and the summer by getting back on track and back to normal.  

Then, at the end of July, my husband decided he wanted to move back to the town where he grew up.  We've been living in Maryland since 1999 but both he and I grew up in the SF Bay Area and he told me he is ready to switch back to the West Coast.

I cried.  I threw up.  I drew some angry pictures and wrote some angry words (that I promptly burned so he wouldn't see them).

And then I thought about how supportive he has been over the past sixteen years.  He moved with me to the DC Area when I started law school, he didn't complain when I withdrew from Georgetown Law to stay home with our kids, he wasn't in love with the idea of homeschooling but he stood behind me, and he uprooted our family from the metropolitan suburb we were living in to The Middle of Nowhere, Maryland when I pushed him to do so.  And now he was asking me to support him.  How could I not?

So in August, I flew out with him to CA and we secured a house - a total dump that needs a massive overhaul.  And is one-third the size of our current house.  And cost us so much money that I feel sick thinking about it.  We'll be doing a whole-house remodel and addition work (from 3000 miles away) over the current academic year, and we plan to move this summer.

It is a stressful process, and one that is not without sacrifices.  I work part time, I'm in grad school, I just started a writing internship, I volunteer (too much - I need to learn to cut back), then there's homeschooling, and now we've added coordinating a whole-house remodel AND prepping our house to be sold AND packing/moving... It was too much.  I can handle a lot, but my heart felt like it was going a million miles per hour and I couldn't sleep.

Something had to give.

So after much back-and-forth and soul searching, I enrolled my girls in public school the day before school started this fall.  Yes, you read that right - the day before school started.  They handled it okay.  Well, most of them did.  My third daughter had some serious adjustment issues but she's doing better now.

And I had to make the decision to delay my graduation from my MFA program by a year, moving from full-time to part-time status.  I spent a full day crying and bewailing my fate.  (I'm over it now.)

It's been difficult.  It is difficult.  I'm trying to focus on the positives (like being near my sister and her family, the weather, etc) and trying to focus on my work (because it helps pay the bills) and my writing and art (because they are my true loves and are what will get me through all of the stressful days ahead).

I've started a writing- and art-focused blog, which will include posts that will be helpful to homeschoolers looking for writing assignments and art projects.  I'll try to cross-post them here, and please check out my new site from time to time!

I'm not sure what will happen when we finally land in California - whether we'll jump back into homeschooling or if the girls will balk after experiencing school for the first time.  I'm willing to let the chips fall and figure that out after they do.

Best wishes on a wonderful homeschooling year!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Homeschool Room - Redone

Reading Corner
Time For a Change

Now that I'm homeschooling middle and high school girls, it was time to change up the school room and make it a cool hangout for tween and teen gals (plus a 30-somthing mama).  I spent a good part of two weeks cleaning out, rearranging, decluttering, and decorating.  Here's the (almost) finished product.  I'm still working on organizing the kids' desks as well as wall art, but so far it is a much-improved room.  I'm actually looking forward to starting the year off in this space!  The best part for me is a new (to me) desk repurposed from one of my girls rooms - it closes (to hide my clutter) and has an attached bookcase for storing my supplies and books.  Love it.

Every year I try to create dedicated spaces for different things.  This year I revamped the "art corner" (mostly because our art supplies are so numerous that they do not fit into this corner and have been almost completely removed from the school room) and turned it into a reading corner.  This is my favorite space in the room (aside from my new desk), and if I could I'd spend a large part of every day snuggled up reading there. 
The "Before" - in the midst of sorting

The "After" (well, almost ... still finishing up here and there)

Bench covers to match the curtains.
The History Corner

Two of my daughters' desks - still working on this area... The upper bookcase holds the art books and a few art supplies that we use on a regular basis.  The drawers are great for storing paper, cardboard, and misc. craft items.

Another daughter's desk - plus the bookcases which house science, lit, poetry, geography, & math plus serve as "cubbies" for the girls texts, books, binders, etc.