Powered By Blogger

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Kids Art Week Day 2: Dubuffet figures

     Had another fun time doing an art lesson for kids, offered by Carla Sonheim. Jean Dubuffet was a French painter, printmaker and sculptor.  He lived between 1901-1985. He wasn't able to really work as an artist until about 1942. Like Klee, he was not impressed with "scholarly" art, but was inspired by "outsider art" of alienated groups such as prisoners, mentally ill and children too. He coined the term "Art Brut," meaning raw art. I read that he was influenced by Klee (in style and subject matter) and he was also a musician. Some of the ways he added texture to his paintings were interesting. Here are a few of his famous works:

The Arab in Orange 

The Reveler (Le Festoyeur) 


   Our goal today was to create a figure in the style of Dubuffet. We could create a face or a whole body. Timmy and David did this with me. We started with a treated watercolor base. I did the project separately with each boy. I was surprised that they each chose almost the exact same colors (and that they were the colors I had originally chosen to use. Grrr..), but their backgrounds came out very different. The top one is David's. The middle one is Timmy's. Mine is at the bottom.

   After our background dried, we made our "figure."  The way we all interpreted these and worked through our own styles of creating was pretty varied.  Here is David's (Sorry he is sideways):
  David had a meltdown over how to draw arms. We originally had them leading off the page and then he decided he wanted them raised up. When he saw that his figure was "weird shaped," he was a little disappointed. Then I showed him what Dubuffet did and he felt much better. Once he added the black, he was very happy with his work. He especially liked the nose he drew.

Timothy's (Which might be my favorite):
Tim knew exactly what he wanted right away. He liked that his face was a bit lopsided. He drew the eyes close together, like Dubuffet would have. Those things on top "could be horns. Actually, I like that they are ears, kind of like animal ears." I love the eyelashes.

     It should be no surprise that the person who struggled the most with this was me. (Though I didn't cry like David.. lol)  I picked colors that were different from the boys to make something different. I found that working with colors that might not appeal to me as much was a challenge, but I liked the results. What I found really hard was to let this guy come out "uneven" without "fixing" him. I also wanted to make it look more aesthetically appealing to me, but exercises like this are wonderful since you're imitating someone else's art. Some people made their examples more personalized, but I'm a bit of a rule follower.He looks like a mix between Squidward and Gumby.  I sure have come a long way since the first time I posted art and was nervous that people wouldn't like it!

Tomorrow I will be introduced to Robert Motherwell, also new to me! Before I forget, there's still time to play along. If you'd like to catch up on the classes, join here

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kids Art Week- Carla Sonheim

   I forget how I originally heard about Carla Sonheim, but I think it had to do with the Index Card a Day Challenge a few years ago (ICAD). I started looking into art journaling, other artists, drawing, etc. Anyway, I signed up for an e-mail list from Carla a long time ago and this week she is offering free online art classes for kids. David loves arts and crafts so I thought he might enjoy doing these projects with me. I signed up for the classes and we completed day 1.
     Today's project was based on the grid paintings of Paul Klee. He was a Swiss-German artist who lived between 1879-1940.  It seems that Klee cannot really be categorized into a certain "school" or art. He seemed to be influenced by many different artists and places that he visited. His dad was a music teacher and music was also really important to him. (Sorry this is not as informative as it could be. I didn't know anything about Klee before today... and I just wanted to show you what David and I worked on.)  Klee had many grids in his paintings. One such painting is called Static-Dynamic Gradation:
Static-Dynamic Gradation
   As I looked through his art, I realized that I have done some art in a style similar to another painting of his, Rocks at Night:
Paul Klee, Rocks at Night, 1939. Watercolor and ink on chalk-and glue-primed letter paper, mounted on paper, sheet: 8 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches (20.9 x 29.5 cm); mount: 10 7/8 x 14 1/4 inches (27.6 x 36.2 cm) 

   Today's paintings used a grid. We first made a grid and printed our name in it. Then we painted it with watercolor and did a few more steps. (If you are interested in Carla Sondheim's Kids Art Week, you can sign up here.  I think it was so generous of her to put this together!)
    Here is David's. I love his colors that he chose.

     This was mine. We did a color wash to see how the watercolors reacted with the second color. It really made some of my colors pop and changed a few others. I'm thinking I might make a few of these as small gifts for friends. (Let me know if you want one :) ) 

     Tomorrow's lessonis a Dubuffet figure. I have never heard of Dubuffet, so it will all be new to me. More crayon and watercolor.  If you join us, post a picture here to show your work. the name painting was a fun, easy lesson. Carla, if you end up reading this, thanks for your lesson!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Updated summer bucket list

Here's our updated lists. The (x) have been done.

Summer "To do" list:
-Visit a museum (x)
-Go somewhere touristy-
 -Have a picnic
-Make snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches. (Don't they look delicious? D is most excited about this)
-Go on a local bike trail (maybe this one, which we've never been to.)
-Make s'mores
- Go camping
- Have a firepit
- Go fishing (x- Well, Matt and David went)
- Go deep sea fishing (boys have never been) or a whale watch (? Timmy and I went to see the Hokule'a sail out)
- Explore some of the local towns for a day.
 -Swim in a lake
-Swim in a river (x)
- Swim in a pool  (x)
- Learn to surf (T)
- Do a puzzle (x)
-Stay in a hotel
- Go to a different state
 - Visit Dogtown
-  Eat at Woodmans (or get fresh seafood somewhere)
-Plan Quebec vacation  (Anyone reading from Quebec? Suggestions for us?) We might have to postpone this trip. Maybe around my birthday? We didn't realize that we wouldn't get back the paperwork from baseball until today. It might be too late to get passports to travel this summer.
- Try to learn some French for Quebec
- Invite friends for dinner
-Visit relatives
- Run around in the rain (x)
- Visit a farmer's market (x)
-See The BFG (x)
- Visit Pettingill Farm  (I have relatives that are Pettingills, I'm wondering if there are any relations.)
- Family tree research (Anyone into genealogy research? I'm stuck in a few places.)
-Watch fireworks
- Go to an outdoor concert.
- Play a board game (x)
- Get an ice cream (x)
-Ride a roller coaster
- Catch fireflies
- Get slushes at Sonic (x)
-Go to a beach
- Visit the Rochester Fair
- Canoe on the Ipswich River
-Make Brazilian limeade (x- We made this recipe and loved it.)   
- Visit Six Flags  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Books this week

Goodreads Goal

    Last week I received an e-mail telling me my progress on my 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge.  Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. Ironically, 2 of my favorite pastimes can completely take time away from each other. Both reading and penpalling takes some effort and time for me to fully pay attention. Because of this, I had decided early on that I wanted to make sure that I read at least 1 book a month. After my first few books I realized that that was a pathetic "goal" for me and there was no way I was going to read less than 12 books in one year. I chose to aim for 50 books, knowing that most of my reading would be done during school vacations and the summer.  As of last week I was at 48% of my reading goal.
     Due to Timmy's crazy baseball schedule (and the request by the coaches to "stay out of the sun"), I had a lot of time to relax read last week. In addition to having time, the weather here in MA was humid and disgusting. I'm a pale Irish girl who feels like my skin is being fried whenever I walk in full sunlight- never mind when it's hot and humid with no breeze. I also browsed some book blogs and decided to give myself the luxury to enjoy my leisure time.

Books last week: 

    I heard that this book had been read in many book clubs and I found it in the book swap in our teachers' room at school.    This book is about a girl named Dolores Price. It tells about the relationship with her father and the consequences of her life when he leaves the family to be with another woman. At first I liked this book because the characters just seemed (very dysfunctional but) real. They had problems that people have and some of them reacted to those problems in common ways- denial, gratification in some other way, escape, etc. Maybe it was the narrative style of the book that I appreciated at first- or the sarcasm.  Unfortunately, I never found any edification for any of the characters. I wanted to like somebody in the book but it just kept getting more depressing. I finished it, in hopes of something good, but was left feeling just kind of gross. I thought I read somewhere that this was going to be made into a movie at some point. I would not watch it.
   I have read the previous two William Marshall books (A Place Beyond Courage and The Greatest Knight.) and enjoyed them so when I saw this on the same teacher swap shelf as the book above, I snagged it. I was concerned that I wouldn't remember the story or the characters since it has been a while since I've read the first 2 books. Since this book continues chronologically from the other 2, this was not a problem. Chadwick is good about reviewing family relations in the book and I found this book very easy to just settle into.  
     One thing that I enjoyed about the book was also the one thing that kind of aggravated me too. The story, and the relationship between William and his wife, Isabelle, was a little formulaic. On one hand, I appreciated seeing the steadfastness in their marriage and knowing that she would wait for him or support him, regardless of what their family was going through. On the other hand, William is upset- Isabelle comforts- William goes away- William comes back- Isabelle comforts, got a little old to me.
      I do like Chadwick's style of writing. I appreciated all of the research that must've gone into this book. I have always been interested in Medieval times so stories set in that time period tend to get my attention.
     This was another book I got from a Goodreads giveaway, and another book I probably wouldn't have given a chance if I hadn't gotten it for free. This book is about a woman named Halia, who owns a soul food restaurant named Sweet Tea. After leaving an investor of the restaurant to close up, Halia returns to find Marcus (the investor) murdered in the back room. Fearing that this would look very bad for her restaurant, Halia and her cousin Wavonne, who also works at the restaurant, move the body.  Halia expects that the body will be discovered in the morning but when she doesn't hear anything she makes an excuse to throw some boxes into the dumpster near where the body was dumped. She then realizes that somebody else had taken the body. 
    Marcus ends up being found in a nearby lake. Unsure of what to do, and not wanting to be implicated in any way, she and Wavonne investigate the people they suspect might have been behind the crime. 
     This book was an easy read. The book itself (despite the murder) was a bit lighter than what I usually read, but I enjoyed the characters. Wavonne is one of those people who just speaks her mind, regardless of whether what she is thinking if appropriate or not. There were quite a few characters whom I felt I could associate with people I have come across in my life and Sweet Tea seemed like your average local diner. The book also included a few recipes that I might try. 
    This is the final book I completed this week. It was my favorite of the bunch.When I first heard of this series I thought, "Wow, that looks kind of different and interesting." I tend to be a bit of a book hoarder so a few years back I made a "1 book out/ 1 book in" rule, meaning that I was going to add a book to my apartment, another book had to go. This shouldn't have been hard because I don't really re-read books. It's harder than I thought- and then my upstairs neighbor (who is retired and apparently addicted to James Patterson..lol) started getting rid of her hordes of books bringing me books and leaving them outside our apartment. Now I have too many books that have started to become piles on top of my "to read" bookshelf. A few months back I got a gift card to Amazon.com and decided to buy myself this set as a gift.  
     This book is about a boy named Jacob who, after his grandfather's death, feels that he needs to go to a remote island of the coast of Wales to research the stories of his grandfather, which he could never decide were fact or fiction. This research led him to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The home seems deserted when he first sees it. Throughout the story Jacob uncovers the meaning of his grandfather's last words, discovers the answers to many questions regarding his grandfather and learns a lot about himself.  
     I finished this book in one day. I enjoyed the whole concept of the book and thought it was very creative. The pictures throughout the book are apparently all real pictures that have been obtained from people's collections. The author, Ransom Riggs,  has a penchant for creepy photographs that just seem, "off" in some way or another. As I looked at some of the photos, many gave me a "What the heck?" type feeling. I love the way that he built a story around these photographs. Speaking of the author, as I was reading, I realized that I recognized his name from somewhere other than these books. I read that he is the author of Strange Geographies, some of which I had looked at and read before. I look forward to reading the other 2 books in the series and possibly see the movie when it comes out. I can imagine that it will be very interesting visually. 

Other than reading:

   In other news:
-Timmy's team lost the sectionals, which was kind of a disappointment, but we're proud of his hard work.
- Another baseball tournament starts this weekend. lol
- I might try to take some time this week to catch up with some family. 
- I joined a gym. After I finish this post I'm going to drag myself there since I obviously have gotten no cardiovascular exercise this week! (PS. I'm now at 54% of my Goodreads goal and reading The Altar Ego by Craig Groeschel.)

Saturday, July 16, 2016


    One thing that I have discovered as a wife and a mom is that sometimes it is really healthy and nice to step outside your comfort zone. Personality wise, Timmy and I are very alike. On a positive note,  we are both self-motivated, empathetic, hard working, love to learn and love to read. On a negative note, we can both be a little "know it all"ish and we like to do things our own way. Being married has taught me that sometime you have to compromise if you are attempting to make a group of people happy. Last night I got an e-mail from a group that I have volunteered with (classifying invasive species on the shoreline... told you I'm a nerd.) saying that they were offering a free boat ride to view the Hokule'a as she sets sail for Maine and Nova Scotia.  Hokuleʻa is a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a waʻa kaulua, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe.  Since 1973 the Polynesian Voyaging Society has been at the vanguard of promoting awareness of the rich and skilled heritage of Polynesian mariners.  (Their website is actually really interesting.) This vessel has been in Salem, MA for a few days Interested parties would be leaving the dock by 6:30 am. The only problem is that I kind of hate water. 
     I asked Matt if he would be interested. He was, but he is not a morning person- at all. David said it was too early for him since we've been up late with Tim's baseball games. Tim, of course, totally wanted to go. So, he and I headed out to Salem and set sail.  After my initial fear of being completely surrounded by water, I was fine. Maybe I was fine once Timmy was off the dock and on the boat without me having the worry about him falling in. :) 
      Timmy and I had gone on a whale watch a few years ago, but he didn't remember it. I was curious whether he would enjoy being on a boat. Once he dismissed his fear of a shark attack (I'm not afraid of that, just water in general), he had a great time. Here are some pictures from our morning:
 A little sleepy and reserved, but relaxed.
The Hokule'a being towed out before opening the sails.
 Speaking of being scared of water. This would be terrifying to me. These paddle-boarders are crazy. Although it would be fun if I liked water, this is one of my ideas of things I'm least likely to do in my life.
 The Hokule'a with the sails open. Here is where the boat is now on their voyage.
 Tim saying hello to their crew.

Tim chatting with the captain of our crew. He learned about the engine throttles, steering the boat, the radar system, the camera showing things from the bow and a map. The captain was very knowledgeable and patient.
     The boat we were on is part of the Salem Sea Shuttle. They do tours of Salem Sound and trips to some of the local islands. Our boat also had a touch tank that they use for education. Today they had mussels, hermit crabs, snails, starfish and a lobster. The lobster had been rehabilitated after losing it's right claw. After it lost its carapace, it regrew the claw.
      Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves. Timmy has developed some interest in visiting some of the islands off the coast (Misery Island and Bakers Island.) Hey, maybe one of you could sponsor a sleepover at the lighthouse for our family :)  I am guessing that the trip we took today is pretty similar to the Sea Shuttle's tour of Salem Sound, so if you were looking for a nice, but shorter, trip; that would be enjoyable too. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Spellman Stamp Museum

    Today I visited the Spellman Stamp Museum in Weston, Massachusetts. I had never heard of the museum until a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she had visited it with her father. Then, the next day, I saw it advertised in the the Highland Street Free Fun Friday program. I decided I would up my level of postal nerdiness and indulge myself by visiting this museum.
       The museum is located in Weston on the Regis College Campus. Today the museum had opened a new Olympic stamp exhibit and was hosting 2 Olympic athletes. I took a few pictures after asking, since I wasn't quite sure if they wanted their collections photographed.
      This is Timmy with John Allis, who was a cyclist at the Mexico City(1968) and Munich (1972) Olympics. Mr. Allis was a very kind and intelligent man. Timmy asked questions about how many bikes Mr. Allis had gone through before making it into the Olympics. He wasn't sure, but he told us about one of his earliest memories of being pulled around on his tricycle by his pet boxer. (He also mentioned that he was a skinny little guy who weighed 80 pounds at the age of 14. I think Timmy is already above 80 pounds.)
     The boys both participated in a stamp scavenger hunt.  They had to find things like "A stamp that shows Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern day Olympics,""Find a fencing stamp issues by Luxembourg" (It's the red one, 2nd row down- 3rd one in; in the picture above) Some of the stamps were kind of odd- like "a stamp showing Daisy Duck lighting the Olympic torch with the reflection of the sun" from Grenada. It was fun anyway. I chose these fencing stamps to photograph because I'm hoping that one of my former students will be fencing in the Olympics at some point in his life. I have not had an Olympian as a student yet. 
 Speaking of Olympians, the other Olympian we met was Bill Becklean, who was in the Melbourne Olympics (1956), as a rower. He told us a few great stories about his experience at the Olympics. He said that the American team actually lost the first heat of his competition to the Australians. However, they won the repechage, which is a second chance heat at a regatta to ensure that all crews have 2 chances to advance. In French it means "to save" or "second chance."  They ended up competing against the Australian team again in the semi-finals and won. Right after that, the Australian team approached the Americans and offered to show them Australia. He is friends with many of them to this day. He also told me that Nicaragua issued a stamp with his boat on it, but they didn't have it here at the collection. He was also very nice and asked Timmy if the wanted to hold his gold medal. How cool is that?
 The gold medal.
 Civil War mail from 1862. Look at that handwriting!
 More civil war mail and an accidental picture of me too :) Again, I wish I had that hand-writing.
 Prisoner of war mail- censored
 Early mail art.
 Early mail art. This one was my favorite.
 This one reminded me a little of Limner's blog. Check out her incredible mail!
 Stamp dress anyone? If you ever see me wearing something like this remind me that I've gone too far.
 The boys in front of the sign. Following are just some pictures of the pretty trees by the museum. I imagine this place is beautiful in the spring. It would've been really nice today if it wasn't close to 100 degrees!

 The respite of some shade.
 Tim's first day cover that he won from participating in the "stamp hunt."
 Each boy left with a packet of stamps to start a collection.
Sweet, thanks!
      If you are local, stop by this museum sometime. They also had an activity room, a small gift shop, a small research library and some really interesting displays about stamps, post related things- scales, post office boxes, stamp holders, mail related games, etc. They also do programs for schools and scouts. If you do go, the hours are somewhat restricted (12-5, not open Sunday.) Here is the link to the museum.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer happenings

     Summer is turning out to be quite relaxing. Here's a little from this week:
      David has been doing his summer reading, enjoying a local parks program and enjoying his time at home. He has always loved games so we have played Beat The Parents, UNO Spin, Minions Monopoly, regular Monopoly, etc. We did a craft at the library and made a rainbow fish. He has just turned in a "book review" illustration for a reading program sponsored by a bakery. (and got a free cupcake since it was his first book report this summer.) He illustrated a scene from Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses.  He worked very hard on it.
Tim= Baseball. He has been working hard at practices and his team just won the district championship. We had much celebrating with a pool party at 9pm. On to regionals!


    Today he also had a performance in a summer band program at the middle school. He's the only student who is younger than middle school, and he has enjoyed the challenge greatly. He even volunteered to play a short composition he wrote. It was pretty cool. 

Matt= has been working hard at work. He has been trying to come up with a signature candy bar at work, which must be good because I eat it every time he brings extras home. Ha ha. He'll actually be going to a workshop in Maryland in August for work. This is new for us. 

I have actually been doing very little. I have done some chores around the house and sat around thinking of all the things I should do, or want to do, but have not actually done much. This is rare for me so I'm going to be content for the time being.  With all of the baseball tournament play, I have not really known my schedule more than a day or 2 ahead of time. I can't decide if this is a good thing for my personality (and if it's making me relax about my time) or if it's immobilizing me so I can't get anything done. We'll see after regionals I guess. 
      I have been doing a lot of reading of books and blogs.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Package from Ashley

   I love penpalling and hearing from my friends through snail mail. It will be no surprise to you that I also love receiving packages, especially "no reason" packages. I got one of those packages today from my penpal Ashley in Wisconsin. Here are the goodies she sent me:
    Ashley always sends awesome stamps. The post office didn't even stamp these with the postmark. Good thing I'm not one of those people who reuse the stamps. Lately I have realized that I have lots of half-used journals (paper hoarding anyone?) so I thought about putting together a journal of the stamps I get on all of my letters. I usually put the envelope with my letters and then just store them, at least the stamps will all be together. David seems interested in stamps too so maybe we can do this together. I am not going to remove them from any postcards, just the letters.

 This is a really cool, music themed letter sets. For all of my European friends, I never see any letter sets like this in stores in the US. (Anyone reading from the US know any stores that sell them?) The red stamp that looks like a postmark says this was made in Italy. On the left side there are envelopes and on the right there are pieces of stationery. I love it! I especially like how the gold pops on this paper. I will write a letter using this tonight!
Images belong to Bravado Merchandising
 Then there are these Justin Beiber- trading cards? I laughed when I saw them. I'm not sure if these were because I'm a music teacher, because I must have confessed having his music stuck in my head, or because I accidentally seemed like I called her Boo in an e-mail the other day.
      I'm planning on starting this devotional as soon as I finish this blog post. I have needed to spend some serious alone time with God lately and I have been pretty neglectful on my side. Thankfully God is always faithful to me, even when I'm selfish with my time. Thanks for this, Ash.
   Lastly, she sent some cool Massachusetts postcards since I'm really involved with Postcrossing. Plymouth, MA (Plimoth in the old spelling) is pretty close to where I grew up.

      Also, today I have spent a lot of time listening, noticing and watching people. Just today I have seen/heard about
- my parents struggling with moving out of the house they raised us in
- a friend feeling isolated and lonely as a stay at home mom. At the same time, she is struggling with the fact that many of the people she really considered friends don't seem to notice and her church keeps asking more of her.
- A mom losing her child to cancer
- Another friend whose cancer has returned
- A few of my students competing in a national fencing competition
- An acquaintance who got injured right at the beginning of the summer and has to really restrict herself all summer
- The reminder that many people do not feel safe living based on their color, religion, sexuality, etc.
- Medical issues that run the gamut
- Loneliness/feeling like you don't belong

     For my Christian friends, this has reminded me of 2 passages today:
 " Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.- Ephesians 29-32
" Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.- 1 Thessalonians 5: 11-18

    Even my friends who are not Christians, there are so many people in this world who are hurting. Wouldn't the world look very differently if we all took a minute to reach out to someone in whatever way we can? A letter, a package, flowers, a phone call, a hug, a smile... anything. If you are a person who is reading this blog and you are going through a hard time, please feel free to message me and I will add you to my prayer list.  I hope the rest of your day is filled with many small moments of happiness.