Ten Days of Art, Part 5 – Don’t Try This At Home

Today was just one of those days.

I have seen so many different recipes for various homemade paints.  They all seem like such a great idea.  Who wouldn’t want children’s paints made with real products as opposed to the chemicals found in store bought paints?

Well, we gave it a try.  I made finger paints.


It was easy.  The consistency was perfect and it was a breeze to make quite a bit of paint.

Although, I am not certain I am sold on this chemical free alternative.  Before letting the girls stick their fingers in the paint I stuck my hand in first just to make sure it wasn’t still too hot.   After washing my hand it was still bright red.  The food coloring in the paints absolutely stains your hand.

I am all about making a mess, but the thought of red food coloring stains was not really on my agenda for today.

We will try something different tomorrow…

Ten Days of Art, Part 4 – Gratitude

As a child I recall my mother telling me that if I was not willing to take the time to write a thank you note for a gift that somebody took the time to choose for me, I might never receive another gift from that person again.   I know, harsh, huh?

When was the last time you received a Thank You note – a written note?  After our most recent birthday celebration and many days of reading “write thank you notes” on my to do list I have realized these little hand written notes are one of the things we have made ourselves “too busy” for.  And even worse, we feel as if this can be excused because we are so “busy” with so many other things.

As a society we have exhausted our tasks with all things instant.  We scan payments from our phones, receive appointment confirmations via text and invitations via email because our culture has decided one can “save time” if we don’t have to pull out our wallet, make a phone call or post something in the mail.

So today I have decided we will slow down and take the time for gratitude.  Not only are we writing our thank you notes, we decorated them too.  Each note is unique and lovingly made just for the addressee.

IMG_6236  IMG_6237  IMG_6238

To make cards like these we used white cardstock, red acrylic paint and the base of a stalk of celery.  Other vegetables like romaine lettuce or okra would work well too.  Use your imagination and have fun.

Ten Days of Art, Part 3 – Successful People Journal

Do you keep a journal?  There are so many options – art journals, written journals, smash books, junk journals.

Well if you don’t, you should.  This is a list of 100 reasons why.

As school ended and Summer rapidly approached I contemplated what activities we would work on to ensure all of our hard work the past year would not be lost amidst the lazy days of Summer.  Of course options included worksheets and flashcards, but really, who wants to do that everyday.

I decided what was really most important was to continue reading, writing, discovering and then a little math.

So, we created journals.  My plan was to allow the kids to be creative and motivate them to write a little bit while giving them a fun way to document their Summer.  And hopefully, plant a seed for success with their very first journals.

This is what we did:

Because this was a first attempt at journaling for the kids I wanted to make sure the project was as inexpensive as possible.  I bought a Chipboard Album Kit from Michaels for about $5.  The kit came with several chipboard pages and binder rings.  I only used two pieces of chipboard for each journal, one each for the front and back cover.  For the inside pages I cut an assortment of extra scrapbook pages, cardstock and white paper to fit and used the pre-punched chipboard cover as a guide to punch holes in the paper.


The girls decided they wanted to use tissue paper to begin decorating the front of their journals.  They cut small pieces of tissue paper then lightly glued the pieces to the front cover.  Using a paint brush and diluted glue (about 1 Tablespoon white glue and 2 Tablespoons water, so that it looks like milk) they brushed the tissue paper with the glue mixture.  This seals the tissue paper edges and causes the tissue paper to bleed creating a really fun blended effect.  (Art stores sell “bleeding tissue paper.”  Not all tissue paper will bleed.)  Beads were also added for extra flair.


I like to keep the journals in a Ziploc bag along with a few supplies so that it is easy to work on whenever they are ready.  Your supplies could consist of anything you choose.  Glue sticks and tape are essentials, along with some sort of pen.  Stickers, felt tip markers, washi tape or anything else you might find would work well too.


 If you are really creative you could also create a few pockets in your journal.   I did this by cutting a slightly smaller piece of paper, folding the edges under and gluing it to the page.

It is also fun to include some prompted pages.  I wrote a few prompts on the tops of a few pages like:

  • If I were an animal I would be…
  • Books I have read this summer…
  • Today I…

Be creative.  Be Unique.  And have fun!


 If you need more ideas take a look at some of these journals that inspired me:

Art Journal ideas for kids

Art Journal Ideas

Smash Books

Journals to get you started:

Strathmore Art Journal Kit

Visual Journal

Smash Book Kit


Ten Days of Art, Part 2 – The Dot…

Children’s books are an excellent way to give a little momentum to your child’s imagination.

The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, is a wonderful book which addresses the fear of beginning something new.  In this book the student, Vashti,  feels she cannot create art because she is not able to draw.  Vashti’s art teacher suggests, “Make your mark and see where it takes you.”  Boldly, Vashti makes a dot.   And with this dot Vashti gains the confidence and inspiration to create more and more.

So go ahead, “Make your mark and see where it takes you.”


The Dot…



Watercolor or Thick Drawing paper

Tempura paints

Paper plates

Plastic Cups (or something similar)

Corks (or something similar)


1.  Choose tempura colors of your choice.   I chose primary colors because my group was young and this easily led to discussions on color theory and secondary colors.


2.  Using items found around the house to create circles and dots, allow the children to create their own abstract masterpiece filling the paper as they please.

IMG_6212                                                                  IMG_6213

 3.  And just as Vashti did, be sure to sign it!

Ten Days of Art, Part 1 – Splattered Ink Creatures

Splattered Ink Creatures



Watercolor Paper

Black India Ink (or other permanent ink)

Dropper (if not included with ink bottle)


Black Sharpie Marker

Watercolor Pencils

Watercolor Brush

Container and water

Paper Towel




1.       Randomly drop several drops of black ink onto the watercolor paper.



2.       Use the straw to blow the ink around the paper.  As you are blowing you may wish to rotate the paper.



3.       Allow ink to dry completely.




4.       Use your imagination and black Sharpie marker to “connect the dots” to create your artwork.  Add an eye if you choose.  Imaginary creatures are an excellent idea.


5.       Using the watercolor pencils add color to your creature.  Fill in the empty space.  Layer colors.  Choose bold colors to create contrast.



6.       After coloring use a wet paintbrush to blend your colors.




Move over Picasso

One thing you may not know about me is that I am a huge advocate for art, especially art for children.  I appreciate fine art too, and I love to visit an art museum or have a class full of children explain to me what it is they see in a famous piece of artwork.  But my all time favorite is to watch a group of kids work on their own interpretation of whatever project we may be working on.

There is so much pressure in our schools today to meet certain criteria and achieve certain scores in order to excel.  I often worry whether my own children are merely learning to excel or really learning to learn.

Art education and the opportunity to create enhances the intuitive right side of the brain.   Creativity allows us to understand that not everything is “right” or “wrong.”  With art the options are limitless and one is never wrong.   Art teaches there are multiple perspectives.  And that there are multiple approaches in order to achieve a common result.  This range of possibilities created in art is very encouraging to a child.  Children gain confidence when allowed to create art freely.

Unfortunately, art is an area often taken for granted in our schools.  So in our house we try to do as much art as possible, especially during the summer.

Over the ten days I will share with you some of our favorite projects.  Hopefully you will enjoy these too during these last lazy days of Summer before we all head back to school.

Day 1 – Splattered Ink Creatures

Day 2 – The Dot…

Day 3 – Journals

Day 4 – Handmade Cards

Day 5 – Failed Homemade Finger Paints

Day 6 – Mixed Media Collage

Day 7 – White Paper Project

Day 8 – Textile Art For Little Hands

Day 9 – Back Pack Charms




What’s Your Story?

I find birth stories quite amazing, but not for the reason you would think.  Sure, I am amazed of the new life and miracle that has happened.  But what I find most amazing is how vastly different one person’s story can be from another.  I guess that is part of what makes us all so unique, right?

Today I read about the birth of two very different babies.  First, of course, the Royal Baby and then that of a baby named, Hugo.

This will just about sum it all up.  Kate’s delivery was described as “a very emotional experience.”  Baby Hugo’s mother, Laurentine was said to be “in a hypnotic trance, “during most of the delivery.

I must say I am very intrigued by the natural birthing process.  This is the crunchy side of me!  I too must tell you I have delivered all five of my children in a hospital, four of those births via C-section.

With that said, I think what is most important here is to recognize we are all different.  We have different needs, desires and comfort levels which drive our decisions.  Ultimately, we are all mothers doing our best to make the best decisions for our most precious gifts.

So whatever your decision, let’s support each other by recognizing that while our decisions may be absolutely opposite of one another, we ultimately have the same goal – to be the best mother we can be to our children.

Prince William


Today is my first and biggest baby’s birthday!  He might be 6’2″ and wear a size 14 shoe, but he is still my baby.

Over the last fifteen years and five children later I realize how much I have learned and am still learning about being a mom.  And it makes me laugh to think of the person I used to be.

It is amazing to me how many different books, perspectives and opinions are out there on parenting and pregnancy, yet it still took me 5 children to figure some of this out.  There are some things I really wish I would have fully understood or known about pregnancy and newborns that I never read in a book.  And there are some things that I did read in a book, but I just didn’t really fully appreciate or believe.

This is my top 10 list for pregnancy and new moms:

#1  When you are pregnant you are not eating for two.  Really, you are not eating for two.  I am certain you will read this somewhere.  Don’t take it for granted, and don’t try to convince yourself you will do better tomorrow, or worse yet that you will work harder after the baby is born.  Gaining too much pregnancy weight is awful for you in so many more ways than just making it more difficult to fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans.  Excessive weight gain will make your entire pregnancy even more uncomfortable than it already will be.  And after the baby is born you will thank yourself.

#2  While you are pregnant you will have days (often) where you are worthless.  Some days you will feel sick, other days you will be tired, and most days you will be grouchy, forget most everything and cry – a lot.  Sometimes you will cry when you are not even sad.  This will make you angry and you will then cry more.  All you can do is accept this.  Between your hormones fluctuating constantly and the fact that you are subconsciously thinking and planning for so many other things like how to set up the nursery, your birth plan, how to keep your in-laws out of the delivery room, etc. you will be mentally and emotionally exhausted.  The only thing you can do is take solace in the fact that there will be a time again in your life when you do feel in control.

#3  After the delivery it will take some time to get back to normal.  For that first trip to the bathroom have no shame.  Let the nurse walk with you.  (It will be years before you can actually go to the bathroom in private anyway, so you might as well get used to it now.)  Depending on your delivery, walking could be very painful, you might feel faint and when you do get there be prepared for a mess.  This was one of the first things I realized I was not fully aware of.  I recall my first shower after delivery and feeling panic and fear that something may have gone wrong when I saw the vast amount of blood still coming from inside of me.  Now I know this is absolutely normal, gross, but normal.

#4  Be prepared to wear maternity clothes for quite a while after delivery.  Women who leave the hospital in their pre-pregnancy jeans are just not normal.  Don’t expect this to happen.  Even if you could fit into your pants they would be miserably uncomfortable.  Choose something soft and stretchy.

#5  Breastfeeding is hard.  Your baby has to learn just as much as you do when it comes to nursing.  Like the bathroom visit, this is no time to be bashful.  Let the nurses help you.  Let them position your breast and move things around to assist you.  And don’t assume you have it figured out.  Ask questions, ask if you are doing it correctly and always let the nurse help.  This is the most help you will ever get.  But like all good things, they are worth working hard for.

#6  Do not stock up on multiple sizes of everything you can imagine for baby.  While this sounds great and people really like to pick out baby items, clothes especially, you really have no idea how big your baby will be and how fast they will grow.  So unless you live in a place where the climate is the same year round you risk the clothing sizes not matching with the appropriate seasons.  Likewise, don’t ask for diapers.  Some brands work well for some babies and not others.  Suggest giftcards.  I know this isn’t quite as fun, but you can save those gift cards to buy clothes and diapers when you need them.  This eliminates drawers of excessive and unused clothes because they just never fit at the right time.

#7  Do not believe that you need every gadget, monitor, bouncer, swing and toy sold for your baby.  Honestly, newborn babies need absolutely nothing other than diapers, a few sleepers, a swaddling cloth, car seat and place to sleep for about 2-3 months.  And that place to sleep does not have to be a crib.  Did you know Finnish babies sleep in boxes?  Save yourself the stress and save the other purchases for afterward.  At this time you will be thinking much more clearly and have a much better understanding of what your baby truly needs.

#8  Newborns sleep a lot.  Let them sleep.  And when they sleep, take a nap yourself.  I know you have dishes and laundry to do, but that can wait.  You are still healing and that takes a lot of energy.  Do yourself a favor and take care of yourself too.

#9  Don’t feel like you have to do everything by the book.  All babies are different.  Trust your instinct.

#10  Take loads of pictures.  And be sure not to shy away from the camera because you don’t feel you look perfect yet.  You shouldn’t look perfect.  Remember, you just had a baby?  These early days are precious and no matter what you look like you will appreciate the memories years to come.

Back To Nature

We doubled the fun this weekend – camping and a birthday party!  MC turned four.  And for the second year in a row she chose to have a campout birthday party.  This is definitely up there with one of my favorite birthday parties we have hosted. Our family loves to camp and explore the outdoors, so to add a birthday party just makes it all the more exciting. Even if you are not campers, or have not really tried it yet, if you have children, especially between the ages 3-12, I highly suggest you camp at least once.  Give it a try!  Perhaps begin with a cabin if you lack supplies or are a little apprehensive.  But definitely get out there and camp.  There is something amazing about the freedom to get dirty and explore the outdoors.  It is such a great thing to see a child’s excitement and appreciation of nature. This little guy was discovered before the Commander and I even finished unloading.


Here are some ideas in case you need a little motivation, or might just like a good list.  Check out our Camping Checklist.  These are the standard items we always bring with us when we camp.  Like I said, we really like to camp,  but we also have 3 Scouts in the family who camp ALOT.  So this list has been tested, many times.

Another thing we have found to be very helpful when camping is to keep a “Camping Gear” box.  We use a large Rubbermaid type container.  Instead of gathering all of the campfire cooking supplies like s’more sticks, spatulas, iron skillet, foil, etc. every time we camp, we keep it all in these Camping Gear containers.  This really eliminates some of the hassle when packing to camp.  Instead of searching for each individual item we can open the box, take a quick inventory and pack it in the car.  (An inventory list taped to the inside of the lid is always a good idea too.)

Other items like sleeping pads, flashlights, first aid supplies and such could always be kept in another large container.  This will make packing for your next camping trip so much easier.

We usually keep it pretty simple and stick to hot dogs or sausages for dinner when camping.  Although we have been known to get really crazy and bring things like steak.  Vegetables like asparagus or corn on the cob wrapped in foil are easy to transport and always cook well over a campfire.

Very important: Don”t forget the S’mores!


And try a little of my favorites for breakfast – Campfire Omelette.  These are a big hit with everyone because you each get to make your own adding your favorite omelette toppings.

Campfire Omelette

  • Eggs
  • Quart size Ziploc bags
  • Large pot to boil water
  • Chopped toppings of your choice – cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms, salsa, whatever you like

Boil a large pot of water.  Crack 2-3 eggs in the Ziploc bag.  Add the toppings of your choice.  As you seal the bag squeeze out all of the air.  Use your hands to squish the bag to scramble the eggs.  Recheck to make sure bag is sealed tight.  Drop in boiling water.  Cook about 12 minutes until egg is done.  Be sure not to let the plastic bag touch the hot sides of the pot.  This will melt the bag allowing water to get in your egg.

And if you would like more inspiration check out these great posts with campfire ideas:

25 Delicious Camping Recipes

More Camp Fire Dinners