Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Giveaway

I love to paint on Mondays, even in summer, even when we are not schooling. Something I never tire of is playing with color, so I end up with sheets of finished watercolors and wonder what to do with them.
thing I have done is create several sets of alphabet cards, both print and cursive. First I created them for my home classroom and later made some for others. It is a nice way to make something useful out of my artistic impulse and it keeps the stack of paintings in my closet from hitting the ceiling!

Yesterday I was painting and making some alphabet cards and looking at the little scraps of paper left after the cutting process. I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of "zero waste" and how possible that really is. For a long time now I have been using re-usable grocery bags, storing things in old shoe boxes, recycling, composting, seeking out local foods or growing them myself, raising chickens and worms (both excellent composters). But I am seeing newspaper articles and little stickers in shop windows claiming "zero waste" status and wondering how I can, in my own way create less waste. Perhaps I am thinking about this because of the ongoing saga in my own household regarding our septic system. I have become way too familiar with the ins and outs of our literal waste system this summer! Looking for ways to reduce how we tax our home system has made me more aware of other areas where I can try to reduce waste in my life.

So, when I saw these little scraps of paper I thought about what I could do to make use of them. I came up with the idea for some little greeting cards. Once I had the scrap pile whittled down to only very thin strips I let the worms take care of those!

Now I have this sweet set of four paper collage note cards. One thing I realized was that it took a lot of extra time to sit and make something else out of my little scraps. But the activity was artistic and I was thankful that I had the time to spend. I may not always have the extra time, but now I know that there is always something more I can do. In honor of the project and to encourage others to think of ways to reduce waste in their hobbies, art and lives, I am offering the set of four cards as a giveaway. Just leave a comment here and I will enter you into a random drawing on 30 September 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting Ready

It is fun to plan for the next school year! Today I cleaned my bedroom. It felt wonderfulto get all of the dust out of the corners and to begin to sort through curriculum materials for fourth grade.

When I thinkof fourth grade, I smile. The well balanced ten year old, the prime of childhood! There is a symmetry in fourth grade that completely resonates with the study of Norse mythology, fractions, long division and the movement toward science in the Human and Animal block. When I look at my older daughter's work, I see everything in rainbow colors and lovely, imaginative drawings with a new orderliness in the writing samples. My older son, who was actually home schooling in fourth grade benefited from form drawing and tongue twisters and poem's with rhythm. We learned to tie knots, paint animals and sew cross stitch.

The weather and the calendar of events in my area are inspiring me to begin our school year with a block on Local and Natural History, combining a focus on the human and animal with stories of and from local Native American tribes. An Ohlone Day celebration takes place near us in early September. I have been working on a story that involves a young Ohlone boy who sees himself in the still water of a pond. In this he notices some qualities of himself and realizes how different he is from an animal like the fish who swims by in the water or the bird that flies overhead. He will then have a long (something new every day for a month) talk with his grandfather about what it means to be human and admiring the gifts of many animals. I can then weave together some of the early history of California as well as a study of some of the many native animals of California. I don't have it all worked out perfectly yet, but then again, things often don't go exactly as I plan them...

My new clutch of hens has started to lay eggs! I have been waiting expectantly for weeks now and yesterday we had two small brown eggs. After a summer of bravely fending off the predators and watching the hens grow from little fluffy things into full sized clucking ladies, I am finally seeing the little gems they can produce.

Entering the county fair every year means that we often spend the first couple of weeks in September making and preparing entries for the fair. It also helps bring a personal connection to the fair itself and this makes the whole event more fun. This year Rowan plans to enter the baking contest, the Lego contest and the vegetable creature contest. I entered a little family of wool sheep inthe needle felting display.

Friday, August 6, 2010


A summer of ups and downs so far: one child with a broken heart, one with an (almost) broken head and one who is just bored.

But I think that boredom is good for children once in a while. Besides, with a week in Southern California, a week in New York City and now two weeks of Celtic Fiddle Camp underway, my youngest really doesn't have much to complain about. I think sometimes he believes that summer should be about having some fun exciting plan for each day. The trouble comes because I want summer to be about having as few plans as possible. So we try to meet in the middle.

As for the broken heart, that has been a healthy process as well, as far as I can tell. My oldest had a sweet relationship that lasted quite a while, but, these young hearts grow fickle and things must change. The nice thing for me is that I have had some very nice hours to spend with this most interesting teenager. One huge first for me is teaching her how to drive! I am amazed again and again to see what a capable individual she is becoming!

And then there is my daredevil! My middle child. When he becomes transfixed with a hobby/sport/passion, he throws himself full force into the pursuit. So it is with his bmx bike and the tricks and jumps and routines he can perform with aid bike. He is careful and thankfully he always wears a helmet and that is what saved him from anything more serious than a concussion and an awful case of road rash on his dear cheeks. No skull cracking so far! It is a risky sport and some ask me how I can allow him to do it, but those people don't really know this child and how silly it is to think of me, his mom, telling him to stop pursuing his passion. Anyway, he suffered through it and seems to have grown from the experience.

As for me, I just try to get into the garden whenever I have a spare moment!