Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend In The Mountains

 Some of our friends (the "buddies") invited us for a weekend up in the mountains staying at a condo.  We had a fabulous weekend, got to do a short hike and the girls spent a lot of time playing with their little friends.

The kids did more body part collages while we were there.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Art Group Day 2- Yellow Umbrella Paintings

Art Group was a total success today.  I can't remember where I saw this project idea originally because I have since seen it several places but I believe it originated with Julie Liddle, art therapist and art teacher, who runs Art in Hand in Washington, DC.  We looked at the beautiful Yellow Umbrella book by Dong Il Sheen & Jae-Soo Liu.  It has a CD of music that goes along with the pictures instead of words.  We discussed the mood of each picture and what the kids could hear happening in the music.  

Then we talked a little about painting.  My sister in law L gave me the idea to talk about the paint brush as a little friend we needed to take care of.  We called him Peter paintbrush and talked about how Peter likes to take care of his hair.  He doesn't like it pulled or to have his head pushed into the ground hard.  Peter likes to wear different outfits.  I had mixed pastel colored tempera paints up in bowls for the kids ahead of time.  So first Peter tried out a pink outfit from one of the bowls.  Then Peter could play on the paper and paint.  Peter needs a bath between outfits so the kids had a cup of water and a towell to dry him and then he could try on a different color outfit.  It worked really well.  They did a great job sharing all of the paint and not contaminating the colors.  After they had finished painting we added the "umbrellas" on the kids rain paintings by sticking brightly colored tissue paper circles onto the paint.  The results were great and it was a perfect project for this age group.  I was especially pleased with Red Fish's results.  She is going through this new phase of painting where she covers the entire page in different colors of paint.  She has done dozens of paintings over the last couple weeks and there hasn't been a hint of the paper showing through.  It's interesting to watch the different phases the kids go through.

The only part of art group that didn't go so smoothly was me.  I dropped the blue bowl of paint while telling the Peter paintbrush story and New Fish dove right into it and looked like a little smurf.  She made quite a mess.  I guess I should have expected nothing less!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Pain stayed so long I said to him today,
"I will not have you with me any more."
I stamped my foot and said, "Be on your way."
And paused there, startled as the look he wore,
"I, who have been your friend," he said to me,
"I, who have been your teacher---all you know
Of understanding love, of sympathy,
And patience, I have taught you. Shall I go?"
He spoke the truth, this strange unwelcome guest;
I watched him leave, and knew that he was wise,
He left a heart grown tender in my breast,
He left a far, clear vision in my eyes.
I dried my tears, and lifted up a song---
Even for one who'd tortured me so long.

Written By,
Spencer W. Kimball

I went to a class a week or so ago that was put on by two grief conselors.  They gave really fabulous talks on how to talk to people who are going through hard things like the loss of a loved one, infertility, depression and many other difficult circumstances. Because let's face it- we've all said something incredibly stupid to someone in pain at some point.  I think back on things I have said and thought were comforting and cringe. The couple teaching the class listed quotes and scriptures that are comforting and basically said that  the best thing you can say to someone in pain is: "I'm sorry.  How can I help you."  No - "This must have happened for a reason."  Or, "it wasn't meant to be." etc.  No accidental judgment attached to the comfort.

I have spent a serious amount of time over the last few years thinking about some of the difficult things the people around me are going through and trying to learn how to be there for them in a more considerate of their feelings.  Everyone goes through really tough things and I really want to learn how to be more sympathetic to other people's experiences.  I think I've made a lot of progress over the past few years but I'd like to make more.

I feel like several scars on my heart have formed in the last year. I've had several very healing experiences that have close some wounds.  There has been a remapping of the surface of my heart that I've come to accept and sometimes appreciate.  I realized a few weeks ago, that finally after four years and two children, thinking about our failed adoption in 2007 didn't bring on a soul crushing sadness.  Thinking about our tougher losses didn't stab me through the heart anymore.  It didn't hurt quite like it used to. I daresay, it is just a mild sting now.  He was never even really ours for more than a few hours, although the months leading up to his birth we thought we was ours.  I can't imagine losing a child later down the road into parenthood. I used to think that maybe I had peeked over the edge into the abyss that loss must feel like but now that I feel such healing, I'm not sure I ever had any idea of the depth of that sorrow. I guess I'm just feeling grateful to be in my own shoes, to have the Lord to strengthen me when I fall and to have good people around me.  I'm grateful for the things I've learned and I'm truly hoping to be able to support the people around me like I have been supported in my own trials.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm Losing Ground

We've been watching my Mom's dog for her the past two weeks and I think the dogs may think they are in charge now.  Notice how they are pushing me right off the bed?  As soon as Two Fish gets out of bed, they take his place and then slowly start edging me out.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Sun Is Peeking Through The Clouds

 From sweaters and rain yesterday to sunscreen, shorts, popsicles, and sidewalk chalk today.  The weather is schizophrenic around here but we are enjoying the sunshine while it lasts.
New Fish- out for a walk and apparently ready for anything.  It's best to be prepared with a bike helmet and life jacket.  You never know what you might encounter as you ramble down the sidewalk.

Friday, May 20, 2011


A fun afternoon at a birthday party and a trampoline gym.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

An Afternoon Spent Stringing Beads

This afternoon, Red Fish (with post nap hair) spent a good hour and half stringing beads onto pipe cleaners to make necklaces and bracelets. I used to do that at my grandparent's house when I was little.  Pipe cleaners are a lot easier to string beads on than string. I thought it was so sweet that Red Fish made sure to make a set of everything for her little sister because New Fish was taking a long nap.  Red Fish spends a lot of time making sure that New Fish is included in things and that she gets the same things that Red Fish does.  I adore the concern Red Fish shows for her sister.  When New Fish woke up, Red Fish ran in immediately to present her with the gift and the look on New Fish's face was priceless.  You would have thought Red Fish had just draped her in candy coated diamonds.

Creative Cubscouting

 In the interest of journaling, I'm including a couple things we have done in cub scouts lately.  Tonight in Cub scouts we had a music night to help them earn their music belt loop, pin and some electives.  My friend and coworker Ryan came and talked to the boys about being a composer and engineer and her did a great job capturing their interest.  We made homemade musical instruments that actually turned out pretty great.  We got the tutorial here.  Red Fish and New Fish made some and loved them too.
 Last week, we made sun prints in cub scouts.  I bought paper that develops in the sun and fixes in water.  Pretty cool.  These are the prints Red Fish made of a weed and a leaf.  The cub scouts weren't as impressed by the activity as I hoped but Red Fish thought it was really cool.

This calling is good for me.  I haven't spent a ton of time around kids in this inbetween age in quite awhile.  I've worked with the tiny kids and teenagers but not with the middle ages as much.  It has taught me a lot about them.  I'm always surprised by the way my callings* in the LDS church teach me.  I've been humbled a lot when I realize how apropos some of these opportunities to serve end up being for me.  For example, I had served in our nursery for years before but serving there a couple of years ago in a new ward with a huge push for doing more art and activities with the kids really got me thinking about doing art with Red Fish and sort of started our real commitment to doing projects in our house.  I always planned on doing it but the nursery calling (which I was NOT excited about) got me really moving on it.

* callings are requests given by my church to serve.  We don't get to choose where or what we do to serve although we can say yes or no.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Art Group Begins Again

Very low key start to art group today.  We just created some of my kids favorite collages- plenty of glue and lot's of random stuff.  We had pom poms, popsicle sticks, sea shells, beads, sequins, pipe cleaners and foam shapes.  New Fish LOVES dipping things in glue.  It's so funny to set things in front of her and just see her go to town. 

There will be three weeks of the young kidart  before the older kids can join.  I plan on doing the art group every Wednesday at 10:30 aside from two weeks I will be out of town.  So ten weeks for the older kids and 13 for the younger.
May 18th little kids-
June 8th  10:30 am for the school age kids-

Projects I have in Mind (along with artists I would like to show examples from-

Collages with 3D objects- *
Collages with paper- Matisse
Paper Sculptures- David Carter
Foam Prints- Durer and Rembrandt- *
Messy Art Day  Jackson Pollock
Pinch Pots- or sculptures - Greek Sculpture- *
Water Color resists- Wasilly Kandinsky
Water color Paintings using bingo bottles, sprayers, droppers, splatter techniques etc – Brian Froud*
Wet On Wet Watercolor Paintings- Mark Rothko
Self Portraits- Picasso*
Nature Paintings- Georgia O’Keefe

Monday, May 16, 2011

Growing Up Overnight

How I love this face, the little freckles, the wild hair and the sunkissed cheeks.

A few weeks ago, I woke up and my baby girls had changed overnight.  Seriously. It was like I went to bed with a baby and a little girl and woke up and they had moved onto a new phase. They are growing up so fast and changing so fast I can hardly believe it most of the time.  Red Fish has made this sudden leap in maturity. I'm sure some of it is due to the leaps she has made in communication or maybe just turning three and a half. She is listening to me more, throwing fewer tantrums and she works so hard to teach her little sister things.  She is a big help around the house and keeps an eye on her sister to make sure she doesn't want for anything.  The two of them have become such great little friends. Red Fish is very tender-hearted and concerned about her family members and friends.  She still loves to snuggle and always gives me a good cuddle. 

Red Fish is really loving going to Primary in church.  She loves sharing time and singing time.  She still loves playing her Rusty and Rosy computer program and it seems to be teaching her a lot.  She learns things like a little sponge.  She is constantly saying things to me that I didn't know she knew anything about or using big words I didn't know she knew.  She LOVES to sing right now and I will hear her singing little songs or reciting nursery rhymes to herself all day long.  She is working on her "v", "sp", "sm" and sp" sounds right now as well as still using the tongue depressor to make her "g" and c" sounds.  She refers to them as her "coughing cat" and "goofy goat" sounds (toffing tat and doofy dote).  She works very hard at them and loves to be complimented on how hard she is working.  She loves going to school and I think she is going to be disappointed when the school year ends soon. 
I usually don't post these pics but this one shows her personality so much I had to.  She was shaking her finger at her Dad telling him she won't eat and then saw me with the camera and paused for a "cheese" before going back to her sassy pants ways.

New Fish is officially no longer a baby.  She is all little girl now and we are thinking of changing her name to Sassy.  My favorite things she says right now are: "Thank you" and "OK."  She just says them in the sweetest little way.  She is full of mischief and laughter.  She finally after almost a month of no bottles, stopped asking for them but she refuses to drink anything other than water.  She eats like a bird.  She still hates being restrained in any way and HATES her carseat.  I'm afraid she will never hit the 30 lb. mark and have her seat turned around. New Fish is talking more all the time and saying new things to me every day.  She is starting to combine a lot of words.  She loves to make decisions and have some power so I try really hard to give her choices between two things that will make me happy but it takes a lot of practice for me to think that way.  It still seems very strange to me to hear someone so little talk so much.  Now that she is a little older and can keep up with Red Fish, she plays with her all day long.  She wears dress-up clothes every day and carries her baby doll with her everywhere. 

New Fish just recently decided to let me rock her again at night, mostly in an effort to delay bedtime.  She will lay down and assume the baby position and tell me which songs to sing to her.  I love it because I was afraid I was giving up all snuggle time when we weened her from bottles.  New Fish likes a lot of songs but always demands Row Row Row Your Boat, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Patty Cake be sung first while she sings along. 

What was life even like before these two darlings came into our lives?  I can't even remember!  Life feels hectic and crazy most of the time.  Some days I feel like there isn't enough oxygen in the room to fuel the chaos that has become my life but I wouldn't have it any other way.  These girls came with a surplus of personality just hardwired into them and it cracks me up to see them developing.  It's a hard job trying to guide two strong-willed little girls and focus their exuberance on the important things but then I think about how fast time is passing and I just want to hold them all day and tell them to stop growing up so fast.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sunset Blvd.

Last night, Two Fish took me to see Sunset Blvd.  I loved it.  Two Fish was a little bored, but he is a really good sport to take me to see so many plays and musicals.  Norma Desmond's character was fabulous and she stole the show.  The over the top mellow-drama was entertaining, the set was great and the costumes were fabulous.  Now, I want to drape myself in beaded caftans and wear a turban around my house. The story line was a little dark and disturbing but I find Hollywood in general disturbing.  I will definitely be adding the movie to my Netflix cue.

More Butterflies

 The Easter eggs in the front window needed replacing so the girls made Texas Snowflakes into water-colored butterflies.  Our house has been covered in butterlies and flowers now.

Art Supplies For Kids

MUST HAVES   - We love art supplies around here so I thought I would share some of our favorites for anyone who might be interested.  We're a little obsessed.

Liquid watercolors - might my favorite art supply for kids.  Colorations makes an AMAZING set that's kind of expensive or you can buy them by the bottle.  The set will last you for a really long time.  We’ve had ours for a couple of years and we use it quite a bit.  The texas snowflakes and papers that come with the set are a lot of fun.  I’ve bought some of those separately as well.
Collage materials- recyclables, paper scraps, cut up magazines, pipe cleaners, sequins, foam, felt, feathers, buttons, beads, previous artwork, pom poms, yarn, ribbons, pretty much anything that can be glued down gets used in a collage in our house.  Collages are probably the thing that we do that most.  

Tempera Paint- is our go to paint other than watercolors.  We buy the primary colors in gallon containers but we've had several sets of smaller bottles that I refill from the gallon containers. 

White Washable Glue- we literally buy it by the gallon.  Glue sticks are indispensible as well.  It doesn’t seem to matter much which brand we use.
Crayola washable markers- After a lot of marker testing (We’ve literally tried a dozen brands because we go through A LOT of markers.)  I’ve decided that Crayola’s cannot be matched.  They are more washable and they don’t dry out as fast or break as other brands. 
Crayons-  The problem with crayons is that they are difficult for really little kids to get good pigment out of.  We’ve discovered that chunky crayons without paper on them are better.  I haven’t found a set that I’m 100% happy with but we are currently using these
Salt dough- along with a few tools for cutting, stamping etc. gets used very frequently in our house.  I listed the recipe we use here.
Stamps – we have several sets of big stamps, sponges etc. and they get used a lot.  We’ve also made our own from Styrofoam, clay, potatos and other produce.
Glitter glue- Red Fish is a bit obsessed and this allows her to get her glitter fix without me actually allowing glitter in my house.  I’m not a fan of glitter.  It gets everywhere.
Paint Brushes- From extra large and cheap (for painting the sidewalk with water) to nice watercolor brushes, we use a lot of paint brushes.  Keep in mind that if you give your kids only cheapo garbage brushes they will never really learn to paint.  Even a master can’t make a dollar store brush create a masterpiece.  It’s just a fact of life.
NOT AS NECESSARY- But I still like them.
Oil Pastels- have better pigment than crayons and provide a nice change of pace for the girls. They would be lower on my list of must haves though as they are not washable.
Colored Pencils- we like them but they don't get used as frequently as the markers, pens and crayons for some reason.  We carry a set in our church bag and they get used when there is no alternative.  I'm not sure why.
We use a lot of different paper around here.  I try to keep nice drawing paper around but for the most part this is what we use-
Watercolor Paper- is a necessity in our house.  It is the best quality paper I stock for the girls.  Anything that involves a lot of paint (that might shred other papers) or I want them to do their best work on gets put on watercolor paper.  I think having good quality papers and supplies inspire people to do better artwork.  I know it does that for me.  We use several different kinds but I buy this the most because it is cheap and pretty good quality.
Construction Paper- colorful, cheap and a childhood necessity.  We use sheets by the hundreds.
White sulfite paper- great for drawing.  A step down from the watercolor paper I buy.
Newsprint- isn’t a great paper.  It’s cheap but we often use it underneath a project for added protection or for collage projects when we want to work large or when the girls have drawn so many pictures in a day that I refuse to keep using nice paper.
Roll of Construction paper or “contractor’s paper”- Real , brown construction paper is significantly cheaper than butcher paper and we use it for our big projects.  Available at hardware stores for around $10.
Watercolor cakesThese Colorations watercolors have better pigment than most of the watercolor cakes we have tried.  I still prefer “real” watercolors but these are great when I don’t have the time to deal with a lot of mess.
Tempera Cakes- These have been great over the winter and cold weather when Red Fish is just dying to paint.
Sidewalk Chalk- Doesn’t matter if it is from the dollar store or where it is from.  It gets used up around here like crazy.
Contact Paper- makes fabulous glueless collages
Shaving Cream- Excellent for painting the shower with
Foam stickers and foam shapes- not the most adaptive supply but we sure use a lot of them.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Little Body Outlines

 Red Fish made a body outline in preschool the other day and New Fish was very jealous.  She kept admiring it and then she started saying: "Help! Help! Color!" and rubbing her little hands all over herself to show she wanted to color herself.  So on Thursday while Red Fish was at school, I got a big piece of contractor's paper out for New Fish and traced her.  After she colored herself she wanted her baby doll and a teddy bear traced as well on her paper.  She has been proudly showing her creation to people all weekend.  It's really cute.  It's the first time she has really instructed me on exactly what she wanted to do for an art project.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Neverending Rainbows

Rainbow ribbon wrist bands for music time.

 Red Fish

I thought these would be much more like do a dot markers.  Instead they are more like bingo bottles full of paint.  Not exactly what I wanted but they will get used.  Next time I want markers, not paint so they can be used inside without so much mess.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


 Butterflies and rainbow paintings have overtaken the house.  The Easter eggs have definitely been replaced.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day #2

A breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs and fruit and chicken adobo for dinner.  Two little girls and a husband who love me. Lucky me.  Sometimes (or a lot of the time) I feel overwhelmed with my responsibilities- juggling work and motherhood and everything else.  The gap that stands between being the mom I want to be and the person I am, the race against daylight everyday.  I'm trying right now to concentrate on the moment, on joy and on love.  Sometimes the best I can do is all I can do and I need to learn to be okay with that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Saturday= sunshine, yardwork, lunch outside, art projects, picnic, park, hiking and family time

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fueled By Sunlight?

Side walk chalk, bubbles, walking the dog, playground, tent in the backyard, file folder games, books, singing time, art project, bike riding, tag, ring around the rosies, jumping on the tramp, and a whole lot of running around makes for one tired mommy. (I was gone working for six hours this morning so this is just our afternoon.)  The girls on the other hand seem to have endless energy!  Hopefully, they will sleep well after a day full of activity.  The warm weather is making us all happy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Clean House

 The little cardboard house the girls got for Easter has been well loved. Hours of entertainment have been had with it.  The house has been played with, colored with markers, crayons and oil pastels and nearly loved to death so I let the girls paint it next.  It was a long project for them.  It's the biggest thing they've ever painted and they loved every minute of it.  The house now lives outside and keeps falling over.  I'm pretty sure it will need to be sneaked out to the bin soon but maybe I will just get them a big box to play in next.
Most of the time, I feel like my real house looks just like this.  Covered in sticky handprints, dirt and paint.  I complain a lot that my house can never be all clean.  As soon as I clean something, another room gets destroyed beyond repair.  So for mother's day my husband gave me a totally clean house.  Best present ever.  It lasted a full thirty seconds and then New Fish came inside and threw a plate of food on the floor- I so could have called that.  It was a glorious thirty seconds.  Now I want to send them all outside and go on defense.  Or maybe we can just camp in the backyard all spring and summer. When the cubscouts arrived this evening I eyed them with suspicion.  Nobody touch my clean house!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Painting Rainbows

Red Fish is all about rainbows right now.  She likes rainbow clothes, rainbow songs and rainbow paints.  It's fun to see her understanding when and why she should rinse her paintbrush to change colors and seeing her trying to combine colors for a new shade.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What We Are Reading To Our Kids

I blog frequently about what I'm reading but I rarely mention what my kids like to have read to them.  We read a lot.  Both Two Fish and I read to them almost every single night and some during the day.  Here is a list of sixty of their favorites.  The stars indicate books that have been read at least 6 billion times and they have been obsessed with at least once if not for several phases. Suggestions for great books are always appreciated!  We have a ton of board books and really little kid books so I want to start getting more books that are a little bit older for Red Fish.

*Blue 2 by David Carter
*600 Black Spots by David Carter
*One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
*Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury 
*Time For Bed by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer 
*I Love You As Much by Laura Krauss Melmed
* Mother Goose Numbers On The Loose by Leo Dillin
* Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor
*Mommy & Daddy Boxed Set by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben- Includes Mommy Hugs, Daddy Hugs and Daddy Kisses
*Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
*Mini Masters Boxed Set by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober- We have ten of the artist books

 The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
*The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
*Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?- collection by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle includes Panda Bear Panda Bear and Polar Bear Polar Bear

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Oh, The Place You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
The Complete Tales Of Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne
If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Curious George by Hans Agusto Ray
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Corduroy by Don Freeman
Little Blue & Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
*Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Yellow Umbrella by by Dong Il Sheen and Jae Soon Lee
*I See A Monster by Laurie Young and Daniel J. Mahoney 
*Eight Silly Monkeys by Steve Haskamp
The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
Theres A Wocket In My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
Mr. Brown Can Moo by Dr. Seuss
The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey and Gustaf Tenggren
I Can Fly by by Ruth Krauss and Mary Blair
* There's A Nightmare In My Closet  Mercer Mayer
* There's An Alligator Under My Bed by  Mercer Mayer
* There's Something In My Attic by  Mercer Mayer
The Saggy Baggy Elephant by K. Jackson, B. Jackson and Tenggren
 Love You Forever  by Robert N. Munsch
The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle 
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
Marke Van Gogh's Bed by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo
Too Many ABC books to list

Monday, May 2, 2011

Angry Face

When I start seeing this face, I should just know.  It's going to be a difficult day.
Ai yi yi.  I was hoping sunshine would make us all better but ear infections, cut heads and general surliness are taking over our day.  Fingers crossed that naptime will bring my sweethearts back to their normal selves!