Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Making of a Dragon

The Making of a Dragon



This is one of my all time favorite art projects ever.  This summer we found that we had a lot of cracked, sun baked plastic beach buckets of every shape and size. Instead of tossing them into the recycling bin...we repurposed them with style.  We took the largest and screwed the bottom of it to a board that we could mount to the wall later on.  Then we took a medium sized plain beach bucket and turned it upside down and shoved it into the first bucket rim to rim at a slight angle.  Then for the dragon's snout we duct taped a pointed castle form to the bottom end of the last bucket.  This gave us our basic dragon head shape.  Then we took some thick styrofoam packing  we had been saving and  cut and tore out  chuncks for the cheeks, eyelids, nostril bumps and head crest and used clear packing tape to attach them.  You could also use store bought styrofoam balls cut in half for the cheeks and into thirds or quarters for the eyelids.  Get creative and ball up some newspaper to help shape up your own dragon  or dinosaur head and tape it into place.
Here is a good side view of how the buckets fit together.
Once we had our basic form built, we covered the wooden wall mounting board with plastic so our paper mache wouldn't get all over it.  We tore our newspapers up..(don't use the shiny ad pages) into long strips.  We mixed up a simple paper mache paste out of elmers glue and water about half and half.  I usually use and even simpler paste but we wanted this to be really strong.  You can also use a homemade paste of just flour and water and it will work well.  Try one cup of flour to one and a half cups of water for a super easy  nontoxic and edible paste that is easily water washable. 


Once we had our basic form finished it was time to get sticky with the paper mache.

We needed several layers of the paper mache to make it sturdy enough to paint on so we recruited some of the neighborhood kids to help with the project.  Paper mache is either something you love or it feels totally gross...I'm not sure all the kids liked the ick factor here, but they stuck in there and got the job done.

Alexis and Donovan braving the goop and helping paper mache the dragons head.


Here is our finished dragon hanging in the classroom.

Cammy did a great job painting the dragon with acrylic paints all by herself.




Saturday, August 21, 2010

A tub full of overflowing sisterly love!

Cammy is such an awesome big sister! She really loves little Karma and takes such good care of her and watches out for her. They are having so much fun together these days. Cammy is very into teaching Karma right now. I can occasionally sneak away from the room they are playing in long enough to really get something done. What a miracle!
Cammy can be a little overwhelming with her love sometimes and gets quite easily upset if she can't get Karma to hug her back and storms off saying Karma doesn't love her. I guess sisters will always have personal space issues and having to share.
Overall....we have two wonderful and loving sisters. I cherish every moment when I see them having fun together. I didn't have any siblings so it amazes me ....the whole process of seeing them learn to share and bounce love and anger around.

This is my favorite pic of sisterly bonding. How much closer can you get. A tub full of overflowing sister love!





The Cammy Jammy Family Band"



Rock On! Cammy is most definitely following in Mark's musical footsteps. She loves to put on concerts ...be it at home or the Wilmington Childrens Museum . With my husband being a preschool music teacher and entertainer I guess it is to be embraced. She is not keen on lessons of any sort ...she very much wants to do her own thing musically. Mark has tried to teach her a few guitar lessons. She picked up the few cords he taught her so far pretty well but she wants to play the keyboard more.

My husband "Mr. Mark" performs at the Wilmington Childrens Museum about once a month. The whole family goes of course and Cammy will occasionally perform with him for a few songs. She does a great job with the puppets and with passing out shakers and instruments to the other children. She also has the patience and the attention span of a seven year old so she doesn't usually make it through a whole show before she wants to go and play like the other kids are doing.


She has been rocking it out at home with anything she can grab onto. I caught her here singing with the broom....hey whatever it takes to get her to do her chores. Again I say "Rock On!"


This time I found her singing with the hairbrush. Classic mike prop!


Mark and I painted this child size guitar up for her as a gift recently. It was in very rough shape and didn't play well at all but it serves as a good prop and Karma gets to play with a guitar now. Luckily one of my husband's guitar students brought Cammy a guitar they didn't need anymore that plays quite well. Thank You!



Here is the best shot of Cammy all dressed up for one of her shows. She will write little invitations with check mark boxes for yes or no and slip them under the roommates door.
These house concerts come complete with tickets and special lighting and almost always a few pairs of fairy wings on whoever is willing to perform with her. I would tell you the name of her band but it changes daily.

Monday, August 16, 2010

School Begins: Secret Agent Style

School is off to a great start here in The Muddy Schoolhouse. Here is a picture of our first day blackboard. I am going to teach Cammy how to write in cursive this year. We ended the school year this spring reading creation stories from around the world. We probably read ten different versions...everything from Norse frost and fire giants creating the world to Japanese versions, Native American stories , Aboriginal accounts, biblical and more. So I felt it natural to move into the study of man and community and how we communicate. We are starting the year off by studying the origin of language. We talked today about the oral tradition of history and language and how man began to communicate in more elaborate ways. We are reading passages about the history and evolution of language in several different books but by far my main source is the book Letterbox:The art and history of Letters by Jan Adkins. My daughter is very comfortable with it now but I use the quote "What catches the eye, inspires the hand" all the time. It is kinda like a slogan around the house. So the eye represents what we see around us. The iris is like a clock with ancient symbols at each of the hours marks on the clock. In the pupil a sun radiates the time that our day is to begin 8:15. The eyelashes are the cursive letters that she will be learning this fall: tops are capitals and bottoms are lowercase. The eyebrow is a rainbow. I love to draw a new amazing picture to captivate and grab Cammy's attention at the beginning of each week.

I have been setting up our learning centers all summer. We have a new roommate in what used to be the office so we have had to make a few adjustments in furniture arrangements. This is a tray of rocks and pinecones and any other interesting nature finds on a low shelf so that Karma can get to them.


Here is Cammy posing in front of the new blackboard drawing. You can see the shelf beside her where I have our math center and all of the dividers for each subject ....color coded. I'm really trying to prove to myself that I can be organized.
I put up a bulletin board of sorts a few weeks ago. The idea was for her to write down anything she was interested in learning about. The light bulb above her head was her bright idea! Inside it I wrote the questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? We have been talking about different ways of brainstorming ideas. Last year Cammy loved it when we built a time machine to study history. So I came up with the idea of extending that playful learning with a twist. Last year my husband issued Cammy her very own official Universal Time travelers license. This year I sent her an official letter stating that she has been recruited to be a special secret agent for the Universal Time Travelers organization. Today she had her first meeting with my husband complete with an ever changing accent and in disguise (a tablecloth over his head and a dust broom mustache) Cammy laughing her head off. The fake meeting to discuss her training (school work) lasted almost an hour. My husband played his role up so much I thought I was going to wake up the baby I was laughing so hard.

Here is our secret agent in training. In keeping with the secret agent theme we are going to be doing a lot of work on puzzles and riddles and decoding secret messages. Highlights magazine publishes some books that follow this theme. Today she had to decode a secret message that was tied in with ordinal numbers assigned to the alphabet and when she decoded the message it read "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing"
Here I am trying to get organized for the school year again. Cammy seems to work best and is more focused and less anxious if she can see the plans visually. I have posted under each subject the basic concepts I would like to cover for the year. Hopefully this will help keep us on track. I am all about teaching Cammy what she is interested in but I also want to keep to some kind of path at the same time and meet certain goals even if we do branch off from the main tree trunk at least we have our roots firmly planted.
This is a glimpse of part of our science center. We go on a lot of nature walks and I am always collecting bits of eggs, bones, fossils, butterfly wings ....all kinds of things to study. Mark jokes that the kids are going to start thinking I am a witch....what with bat wings and slug slime in the jars beside the kitchen...I don't really have those but I can see where he is coming from.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Karma is growing up

Happy birthday Karma! Two years old....wow....You are growing up too fast. Such a curious and energetic little person. We love you! We did not have an official birthday party with presents for our youngest child Karma this year. My husband and his band The Cosmic Groove Lizards had a huge concert at Mayfair on the lawn so we just told everyone to come out and enjoy the music. I did make cupcakes to pass out to whoever wanted one but we didn't even get her a birthday present. Well we had almost 2,000 people come out to the concert to hear my husbands band play. I would say that Karma ended up having the biggest birthday party any two year old has ever had. My husband had everyone on the lawn for the concert sing her happy birthday. When the sun finally set there was even a fire breathing, fire twirling, juggling dancer. Unexpected....but it sure did top off the festivities in a grand way. I think her eyes were still glowing with wonder the next day.
Here is the only shot I managed to get of her birthday cupcake face. Our new roommate Gabriel Layman is holding her up. He is a musician and performed at the concert that night as well.
Karma with a very proud Granddaddy. My husbands dad Jerry Herbert is also a musician and performed on keyboard with the band as a guest that night.
Here is Karma being such a big girl riding her new tricicle, her birthday present from Grandma and Granddaddy.

I still play with my food

I haven't had a computer to post on all summer and this is a rather odd one to start back with but it was the first one that came up on my camera memory card so I'll go with it. Early this summer we had a guest whose child was not a vegetable eater of any kind. My oldest child is known to go on boughts of vegetarianism every few months. We as a family are not vegetarian but we try to eat meat only two or three times a week. Both of my children eat their vegetables and are known to favor an apple or carrot over candy. My husband Mr. Mark a children' s musician and teacher sings a song about eating your vegetables with a giant broccoli puppet.....So needless to say a child who refused to eat a vegetable of any color was a new one for me. Well....we were having a vegetarian meal that night of roasted vegetables. A challenge!! Can I get this kid to eat our meal?. So I ended up making this potato sunshine thinking that it might inspire him to at least taste a vegetable if it could be part of something this crazy. I had so much fun and had high hopes of instilling a bit of vegetable love but still didn't manage to get a vegetable into the little man.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Drawing with water



We have been spending a lot of time outside this spring and the kids have been engaging in a LOT of water play. Probably because I went kinda nuts with the garden this year and that calls for dragging the hose around the yard twice a day. I don't mind though ....I can work in the pottery studio with the garage doors open and watch the girls spraying themselves and making their own muddy mess in the gravel driveway. Cammy has gotten pretty creative with it. Today she started drawing with the hose. She started out drawing simple forms like squares and circles which was great....I have struggled to get her engaged and excited about form drawing all year with no success. Turns out I just needed to change up the medium. She likes drawing her forms with the hose.
Here is her triangle and square. These later turned into a magnificent castle complete with a nicely placed oyster shell door.




Trying to refresh the castle picture....."Mom...it keeps disappearing!"
Aha! Time for a lesson on absorption and evaporation and permeability and the list goes on. Learning and living at its best. Gotta love it.
She struggled a bit with a heart but I thought it came out pretty well. I love seeing her really getting into a creative groove and finding her own way to learn.

She was very proud of her square. She has pretty good control of the hose after experimenting with every setting and (accidentally) spraying inside the garage and the upstairs office (the window was open) and spraying mom and sister repeatedly. She likes the jet setting best for drawing with, but the fan setting makes the best rainbows. Who knows maybe she has a future as a firefighter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Simple moments to cherish from my week

A curious little fairy encounter with Karma...what a character!
A sweet sleeping beautiful baby!
Cammy rockin out and dancing with the broom in the kitchen while doing her chores.
Wow! Cammy is so beautiful here. I can't believe how big my girls are getting.
Crazy Karma sitting in the water play table on the porch.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Welcome to our Fairy Wonderland

Welcome to our fairy wonderland. My oldest daughter Cammy is all about fairies. This year I built the girls a fairy house of sorts. I used Karma's old crib sides for the main structure and secured them to a shady tree. Then I cut the wisteria and grape vine back and wove a nice domed top for the house. It is actually big enough for me to stand up in. We had an old column off of a porch that was all painted up....it kinda looks like a chimney. We also added a piece of old broken fence and even made a walkway complete with stepping stones and secret passage going behind the house. Cammy has added her own touch by painting a door and she has filled the house with large seashells for dishes among other natural things. I had done this once before when we were renting a home but I used twisted crepe myrtle branches that time and let Cammy weave yarn and other things into the sides of it.
Here is little Karma our resident fairy upon occasion.

We have set up a little oasis for weary traveling fairies to rest at when their wings are tired from a long flight.
We caught sight of a fairy one morning but she flew away before we could catch her in the butterfly net.
Cammy has put together an edible fairy garden on the back porch in the shade of the umbrella trying to entice a fairy friend. Karma has been having tons of fun watering the garden and making the little ceramic animals play in the mud. Everything that we planted is actually edible : chives and lettuces. Karma is a bit confused with what is edible in the yard right now. I am having to keep a close eye on her. With seeing us pulling up radishes and picking herbs and lettuce...she is trying to pick and eat leaves off of just about anything right now.
We also found this old abandoned castle. We aren't sure but it looks like trolls might have stormed the castle because part of it is broken and it is empty, there is no furniture or anything in it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring brings change: change is good

I haven't been blogging much lately because it has been a very rapid transition into spring: lots of orders to fill (a good thing) but lots of tugs in different directions ie. children, pottery, homeschooling, teaching at the preschool, new store consignments, spring shows, the garden, holidays, and the list goes on just as it does for every family. We are all tugged in many directions all the time. I love it when I am able to find that alone time out in the studio, just me and my clay. A couple of years ago my mom gave me a great T-shirt that said in big black letters across the front "I NEED MY GARAGE TIME". I have been finding myself spinning my wheels out there thinking about what is working for our family and what direction we want to go in. I love teaching Cammy from home. I also really love the times when I teach a larger group. I volunteer often at the preschool and sometimes with the church but transportation has been a problem with being a one car family. I am really looking forward to opening up a classroom in the city again. I miss teaching more kids. I have no real desire to become a public school teacher and be chained to a set of requirements and curriculum. I much prefer a more organic form of teaching. I like being able to just go with where a child's mind wanders. I find myself in awe sometimes when I watch my own daughter in her quest for knowledge. I love it when she asks "Hey Mom, I'm really getting interested in dragons lately can we start learning about that next?" She is telling me what she WANTS to learn and NEEDS to learn for herself now. Why should I constrain her or put up fences and gates of set standard curriculum. It is a much more time consuming approach to teaching . It would be much easier to just follow a yearly standard curriculum or school in a box approach. I don't fit in that box and I don't want my children to fit in any specific box. They will find and fill their own organic form. I am just honored to be there to help nurture and guide their interests and to present inspiration and challenge their minds bodies and spirits. When her interests change I often find myself a little sad because I didn't get everything in or didn't get to some special project that was going to be the highlight of that topic. I also find myself thrilled to meet the next challenge. I thrive on that energy. I know I will spend a couple of late nights scouring my book shelves and the internet, but it's worth it. It's like a reward in the end getting to help her expand her knowledge and view of the universe.
I am excited and scared at the same time to be teaching on a broader scale meaning to more children again. It is going to be such a change of pace for our family. I have gotten so used to our flow at home and spending so much time outside....It will take some adjustment. We are also going to put the youngest Karma into daycare at one of the schools where Mark and I teach. She is very active and social and absolutely loves it, but it tugs at my heart that I will be away from her so much. Hopefully we can pull her back out a few days a week once we see how things are working at the new classroom. I need to find that inner strength and courage to run with it. I know that I will find a lot of support in the community as well. Much love and light to all who embrace the role they play in teaching the children of the world.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jumping into Dreams

OK! so I have not blogged in a while. Our family has been struggling with choosing a path. We are loving our homeschooling but are finding that we are really being tugged back to the city where we used to live 45 minutes away all too often to teach. Now I know that lots of people have long commutes but it doesn't make our family very happy seeing as we only have one car. My days are spent here unable to go to libraries or parks or playdates as of late. Don't get me wrong....we really have it made in the shade out here. We are only four blocks from the river and community docks and there is a beautiful little lake in the community that we walk around quite often. But I get kinda stir crazy sometimes. I have been combating this pent up creative energy of mine by really loving on the land. I have been spending hours in the yard and garden this spring with my hands in the earth ...making things grow. In part out of frustration at our situation and also because I really was loving the land and needed to put my energies into something more. Earlier this winter I found myself in the front flower bed reworking the stones that border it. I was trying to make a spiral in the flower bed but found myself making multiple branching paths over and over again not quite satisfied with the layout each time. It is still unfinished and I have moved on to other areas of the garden transplanting overgrown daylilies and other bulbs that had grown up into the bushes. It has dawned on me this week how significant this compulsive gardening and path making really was/is. Recent events have revealed and opened up a pretty clear path. We are embarking upon a huge cosmic leap for our family right now and I am so excited and scared at the same time. Mark and I have dreamed of opening up an art center some day. We have been fortunate over the years to have had the opportunity to share our creative energies throughout the community. Now thanks to our partnership with Lovebird Studio in Wilmington, NC. We are thrilled to have been given the chance to teach and share our creative musical and artistic gifts with even more of our community. I have been homeschooling my children for almost a full year now and really enjoyed it. There is nothing better to me than seeing my daughter loving learning and finding new ways to keep her journey on the search for knowledge as creative and engaging as possible. This being said I really miss my interactions with other families and children. I have built up quite a stockpile of teaching materials and resources over the years and cannot possibly use all of it for just my two children. I am really looking forward to sharing my creative energies and knowledge with other families again. We really want this to be an opportunity to feed a lot of young creative minds and it will take a real community effort to pull this off.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Getting rid of the dryer

Ok! So I'm a few days behind in keeping up with my One Small Change challenge for the month. I'm behind on a lot of things but this is an important one. If you are just now learning about it One Small Change is a challenge posted by Hip Mountain Mama to make one small change in our daily lives that positively effects the planet. It could be to recycle, compost, use natural cleaners you name it. She challenged anyone willing to post about it to make one change every month for the year. For the month of January our family got rid of our microwave. We had lived without a microwave for years until we bought our current home and it came with one. Having been here for two years we had gotten into the habit of nuking our food which I have always found to be a little disturbing. I was glad when this challenge came along because it gave me the excuse (I didn't really need) to get rid of the large radioactive contraption in my kitchen. So for the month of February I am vowing to discontinue using our dryer. We have a clothesline strung on the back porch already (we used it quite a bit last summer) and we also have one of those wooden drying racks. So I ask myself : Why do I continue to use the dryer?....it eats up massive amounts of electricity! The answer; I was being lazy. There are no excuses for this one. Millions of people around the world have no electric dryer for their clothes much less and electric washer. I live in the southern USA where the temperature year around is mostly pleasant. We have sunny days here every week. I can dry the clothes on the wooden drying rack if it is raining. This does drive my hubby crazy though because it is quite inconvenient in our kitchen but so what if we have to walk around it. We will be saving money by not using it, we will be using less electricity, we will be setting a good example for our neighbors and children, we will in our own little way be helping our earth. I don't quite have the where with all to completely give it away to a charity yet but I think in the mean time I might get creative with some duct tape and tape the front door shut so I won't be tempted to use it. Maybe I'll even let the girls draw on it with some markers.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who needs toys when you have playsilks

I have been in awe lately of the versatility of the simple playsilk. My girls play with this basket of scarves more than they play with any other toy in the house. There is a huge pile of dress up clothes and hats in my oldest daughters closet that goes untouched for the most part except to get tossed to the floor. The playsilks downstairs however go through many transformations during any given day. They can be a river on the floor one moment and the next they are part of a beautiful gown. Sometimes the scarves are part of a shelter other times they are used as bandages for wounds. Little Karma at just a year old loves to wrap up the "baabiees" in them and never tires of hiding under them to play peek-a-boo. They can magically transform a child into any creature or even be a leash or a bridle. They have even been known to transform a young child into an old woman or Rapunzel with her long flowing hair reaching down from the stairs.

Both girls love to play with them....sometimes I wonder why I even bother to buy the other toys. We don't have a lot of money to spend on toys and I am kinda picky about the toys I do buy. I have tried over the last couple of years to get rid of almost every plastic toy we have and opt for high quality wooden toys instead. I have managed to get some really nice wooden toys from time to time at the thrift store...a nice wooden castle, a great collection of wooden cars and rolling animals, wooden blocks and trains. The girls play with these occasionally. The scarves they play with everyday all day.
The inevitable plastic Christmas toy always seems to make it's way into the mix though. How can you make your kid give up their brand new piece of bright shiny plastic? Well, I have found that after about a week or two at most these have lost their novelty and go untouched...eventually making their way into the next bag destined for the local charity or thrift store without anyone missing them or objecting. My oldest just turned seven and I continue to be amazed when I am going through one of my household purges getting rid of "stuff"....just how much of her "stuff" she graciously and willingly puts into the give away bag. I know I probably wouldn't have given up my toys when I was a kid without a little fight.
You can see from this picture the pure joy and imagination she is filled with. She has always had an imagination without borders or restraint. It is a beautiful thing in action.
My beautiful butterfly acting out Eric Carle's The Hungry Caterpillar. What a metamorphosis!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Indoor Camp Fire

I bet this is not what you were thinking! My daughter Cammy loves to choose indoor camping as one of her reward privileges. We have a box full of index cards that the whole family made, we each got to write down or draw fun things to do on them. Some of them are just plain silly like giving her baby sister a finger painting lesson in the bathtub or mixing your own bubble concoction. Others are really sweet like the one my husband wrote: Have a tea party with Daddy. When Cammy has earned enough pebbles in her jar she gets to choose a card from the box. The indoor camping is her favorite by far. She has only been camping once and that was with her Nana in the mountains. Sometimes we do a complete camping tent set up...sometimes we just make a classic sheet tent in the living room. This time we did the latter with a minor adjustment. It was raining outside so we couldn't do a fire in the backyard firepit to roast our marshmallows so I did smores roasted in the oven and we made this little pretend campfire inside and told stories. It was really easy to make. I have a box full of crafty recyclable stuff in the pantry. There was a drink cup holder and some paper towel tubes that proved to be the perfect fodder for a camp fire. Cammy colored the drink cup holder with red, orange and yellow markers and we ripped up a sheet of neon orange copy paper for flames and tucked them into the holes of the drink cup holder. Colored tissue paper would make nice flames if you have it. The paper towel tubes were our logs. I tried to get Cammy to color those as well but she said "Mom they are already brown!"
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