Monday, August 30, 2010

100th Post -- 1st Give-Away!

A while ago, I decided that I would host a give-away when I reached my 100th post. All of a sudden it is upon me -- this very post is my 100th! I find it hard to believe myself, since I've only been blogging for a few months.

But, without further ado, let me show you what you could win:

Teaching Your Child Creativity (You'll have to click on this link to actually see inside -- not on the picture here)

How do you win? Simply leave a comment below -- about anything, really -- and I will enter your name in a draw. You don't have to vote anywhere, or "like" anything, or sign up to be a follower (though that does make me feel loved!!).Just comment. I will put each name on a slip of paper and draw the old fashioned way -- so make sure you provide a way for me to get in touch with you should you be the winner!

The draw will be on Labour Day: September 6, 2010

Maybe you WILL win! Enjoy the anticipation!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Special Offer

I don't know how many of my readers are homeschoolers, but over the last few years,The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, a wonderful resource for homeschoolers, has become my favourite magazine. My mom loves it, too -- and she's not even a homeschooler! She even asks to borrow almost every issue, which, I'll be honest, is hard for me to allow simply because I'm afraid I'll need it while she has it! Each issue is full of heart-felt encouragement, wise counsel, helpful reviews, and tons of rich information, including lots of links to educational resources. And it's not just a magazine -- it's a connection to a network of homeschoolers, new and veteran, from all over the world. I love the fact that the people who publish and write for the magazine are fellow homeschoolers who are willing to share their hearts and homes with their audience. They're people who are accessible -- people who interact personally with their readers. And not only do they offer a great magazine each season, they offer freebies and newsletters and additional resources throughout the year, including online conferences! I'm telling you -- there's a lot of bang for your buck with this magazine.

For that reason, I wanted to share their current offer with you -- available to both American AND Canadian subscribers (It used to be that we Canadians had to pay much more!):

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary subscription offer to homeschool families. Receive a one-year print subscription for just $7.95 or a one-year plus current issue subscription for $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue.

Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31through midnight on September 15. Once the 5000 are gone, they’re gone!

Hurry and grab this crazy price today!

I will receive a generous freebie for telling you about this offer -- but my praise of the magazine is genuine. I truly think it's a wonderful resource and highly recommend it to anyone who might even just be thinking about homeschooling. It will be money well-spent, and it will inspire you to be the best, most creative homeschooler you can be!

A Birthday Book of Hope -- and then some!

DD12 has become DD13! To commemorate her entry into young womanhood, DH had the brilliant idea of creating a "Book of Hope." We sent out an invitation to friends and family asking them to write a personal message of hope for the future to our daughter, and include a picture if they wished. The response was overwhelmingly wonderful, and DH created an awesome scrapbook that can be treasured for the years to come.

Of course, I won't show you all the personal stuff, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of this wonderful "Book of Hope" in case it inspires you to create something similar for someone you love:

Here is the beautiful birthday girl about to cut her "Facebook" cake -- another brain child of my DH. One of our DD's anticipated privileges of turning 13 was being able to go on Facebook, so when we asked what kind of cake she wanted (thinking about flavours!), she said "A Facebook cake!" So, using a screenshot of his own profile and then modifying it with fun family photos and comments directed to her, he created an image which he took to the bakery. They printed the image on marshmallow paper, so the cake looked like a computer screen with a Facebook profile:) How cool is that? (Sorry -- you'll just have to use your imagination to "see" the cake ;)

We thought long and hard about how to make this birthday a memorable one, as it marks the beginning of a new era for our daughter, when she really begins to mature into adulthood and independence. Because we want to encourage her to be reflective about herself and who she is, but also to look beyond herself to the needs of others, we hope to do a missions trip with her this year so she can see the world outside of her immediate frame of reference. We have yet to determine when and where -- but we're all excited about the prospects of learning about life by serving others in a meaningful way. She has a heart for "social justice,"  so we suspect that such an experience might be a turning point in her life. The trick is to find something that will be appropriate for her but not "all about her" -- which is the last thing we want to make it. KWIM?

Anyway, when it comes to making a birthday memorable, one thing we never considered a remote idea was enabling our DDs "over 80" grandmother (she's sensitive about her age -- though I think the actual number makes it all the more impressive!!!!) to fulfill one of her "life-long dreams" by

Drumroll please . . .

going for a ride on a motorcycle! But one of our guests was giving rides to the children and my mother decided this might be her only chance to do this thing she'd always wanted to do! So, with a little help from a throng of cheering observers, she did it!

Not to be outdone, my MIL, who is younger but a great grandma now, decided she would go for a ride, since she'd never been before either!

What a riot! DD13, who was thrilled to ride herself, said her rockin', "hard core" grandmas (along with their awesome driver) made it the Best Birthday Party EVER!

She did confess, though, that she almost cried when she realized her dad had not given her his traditional bouquet of roses -- until it occurred to her that her party did not take place on her actual birthday! Here is the happy girl with her birthday bouquet:

What great birthday memories do you have? Are there traditions associated with those memories? Have you come up with any creative ways to commemorate a special birthday? Please do share by leaving a comment!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Altered Book July and August Challenges

The altered book yahoo group that I'm in challenges members each month with a theme or technique to use in an altered book. One of my personal creative goals is to complete all the challenges, so I got caught up this week. Here is July's spread, the challenge for which was to use the theme "picnic" and incorporate an image transfer:

August's theme was "At the Beach" with the directive to incorporate texture. My beach is made from sandpaper, and the towel is that non-skid stuff you put under mats and such. I was low on ideas for creating more texture, so I resorted to puffy stickers and such :{

I can't say I really like either of these spreads. But that's OK. We don't have to like all of our creations. I think only God can look at ALL that He made and pronounce that "It was good."

As I say about my children's art -- Sometimes the process is just as important as the product!

Have you found this to be so in your own creative journey?

Drawing Day

In addition to a surprise trip to a not-so-local art gallery, for my birthday I received a copy of Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists, which I'd read about on someone else's blog. So, though I'm not quite finished the projects in The Artistic Mother, I acquired the suggested supplies and got started. The first exercise involved drawing cats -- from memory or imagination. Since I'd actually left my book on the counter of the local art shop when I'd purchased some supplies, I didn't remember the complete instructions, which were to use a permanent, black pen on white cardstock while lying in bed (so that the pressure on the page would be lighter than on a hard surface). Therefore, since I associate drawing with pencils, my first effort was done in pencil copying from photographs in a science book. (I had to take a photo instead of scanning it because of the myriad technical difficulties that abound with the computers in our home!)

My second "kick at the cat" (sorry -- I couldn't resist -- though I would never actually kick a cat!) was done with the appropriate pen using only my imagination:

The extension activity for this exercise was to select the cat we liked best and re-create it using mixed media. So, for my first re-creation, I used watercolour pencils (with water) and outlined in black marker.

She was a pretty kitty, though I didn't really l like the colouring -- so I decided to try a small canvas and pieced paper. I wasn't confident that I could reproduce her freehand again, so I traced her with tracing paper and cut out the pieces, which I then traced on the papers I selected (one of which was a background that I'd made for the Artistic Mother projects). I painted the background canvas with tubed watercolours -- a medium I've never really used before because I actually thought watercolours always came in pallette form! (Pardon my ignorance, my artistic friends!) I also thought they were always transparent -- which clearly they're  not! It was really like working with acrylics, which I like. Here is the resulting pretty kitty, who quite tickles my fancy:

She's cute and quirky, don't you think? DH says I should do a series of cats like her and frame them together. I like the idea -- though I lack confidence that I could create several others in the same style but in different positions, KWIM? Also -- would I try to mimic the background in all the pieces to create unity in the larger picture? Or would I make them all different and find another way to tie them together? Hmmmm . . . some food for thought. (Feel free to share your opinion in a comment below. Just click on the little word "comments" -- I have yet to figure out how to make that more visible!)

Anyway, while I was doing the initial drawings with pencil, DD12 asked if she could use some of my paper and grabbed a pencil of her own. Using a photo in a book as a reference, she drew this:

Personally, I'm pretty impressed! She's never taken formal drawing lessons -- she just draws a lot.

Do you marvel at any creative skills in your family members? What special talents do they have? What are you doing to develop your own talents and creative skills?

Sidewalk Art

DD8 and her friends were playing outside the other day and got around to using sidewalk chalk. All of a sudden she was at my side asking if I would consider posting their work on my blog. When I said, "Sure," the girls were giddy with excitement (though I think one of them thought it was my "blob" on which they would be featured ;) They frantically worked at decorating every tile of the neighbour's walkway. Here are the creations of these budding artists, aged 8 and 6:

Have you and/or your children found ways to be creative outside this summer?

Just one more note -- DD12 and some other neighbourhood children have been working on a communal fort in the forest. It's quite an impressive, 6-level structure with ladders and stairs and signs saying, "This fort is for everyone. Feel free to add to it. Please don't destroy it." I've only seen it once and didn't have my camera with me at the time -- but I ask you, how cool is that???? I'll try to get pictures soon!

Friday, August 20, 2010

One Crafty Crew

I think it's week six of The Artistic Mother that shows how to make a cute little "art reminder" ornament with balsa wood, paint, paper, stamps, and beads. I've never worked with balsa wood before -- but I sure will again. It's just a bit stiffer/sturdier than styrofoam, so it's really easy to cut it into any desired shape. I wish I'd had a better variety of beads to work with, but for the little bit of time and effort this quick project took, I'm pleased to hang this by my desk as a little reminder of what I should do each day:)

While I was busy with my little ornament, DD8 was busy painting this:
I love that she enjoys being creative with me.

It wasn't quite enough of an outlet for her, though, so I decided to help my keen little artist with a "stained glass" sculpture I saw over at the Frugal Family Fun Blog. Both boys decided they'd like to join in, as well.

The finished creations are bendable and fun to play with:

Somehow the pictures of DS11 and his creation have disappeared (how does that happen?!?!?), but when he was done, he spied the wire I'd been working with on my ornament and went and created this guy:

So, as summer slips quietly into that foul, four letter "f" word (once it's here, I don't mind it so much, but I hate thinking about the end of summer and vacation . . .), we've been busily creative.

How about you? How have you been spending these last few days of summer? Have you been working some creativity into these dying days of heat and humidity?

How Cool Is That????

Some of my altered book work was featured on artist Cyndi L's blog, Mixed Media Artist! Check it out -- and while you're there, have a look at her fabulous work. You'll see on her side bar that she has multiple blogs, all of them with inspired and inspirational works of art. I'm especially excited to know that Cyndi and I share convictions about our Creator and our creative natures :) How cool is that? She also has a give-away running until August 25, so there's one more reason to go check out her blog!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Creative Learning Opportunity

In these days of modern technology, there are so many new ways of learning! One I'm excited to try is an online homeschooling conference.

It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool speakers, fellowship, and fun door prizes.

Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free E-Books.

You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. We've also planned a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing. Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your LIVE event ticket.

Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.

The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.

If you cannot make the Live event, then the October Expo To Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!

I am not paid to advertise this event. I will, however, be able to enjoy some of it in return for telling you about it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Giveaway Scout

Today I was introduced to something called "Giveaway Scout" -- a website that  collects info about blog giveaways and puts all the info in one place so it's easy for you to see and participate. I love free stuff (it's part of being creatively frugal!:), so it sounds good to me! Check it out here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two Little Orange Chairs

Last night we sat around a campfire with some friends, and one lady talked about a job she'd had in which she spent 45 minutes each morning praying for the people that would sit in the chairs she was setting up. I used to do that at the beginning of each school year; I'd pray for each student that would be sitting in my classroom.

As I sat on the porch this afternoon reading some poetry (Shona Cole would be proud of me;), my eyes fell on the little orange chairs my children brought out to sit on during the meteor shower (that didn't happen in our line of vision!) the other night. Those little school chairs took me back to the fireside conversation, and to those prayers so long ago -- and I found myself composing this little poem:

Two Little Orange Chairs

Before me sit
two little orange chairs,
relics from a kindergarten classroom.
Scratches and stains bear witness
to silent stories of souls
who've sat on them.
And now, decades later,
I find myself praying for those souls.

Do they have happy memories of time
spent sitting, spelling, and sorting shapes?
Did the rattle of the chairs' metal feet
distract them from the drone of days
drowned in alphabets and abacuses?
Or did it echo their dancing dreams
as they laughed and learned
of worlds beyond their own?

Where are those children now?
Are they living, and loving life?
Have they found Joy and Peace?
Do they yearn for the simple days when
their chairs rattled as they wriggled?
What have they done, and
what have they become?

Wherever they are, I pray for the salvation
of the sweet souls that sat on these
two little orange chairs.

Have you read or written any poetry lately? What simple, everyday object could you look at with the eyes of the poet in you? I challenge you to exercise your poetic license by writing a simple poem! Let me know if you accept the challenge by leaving a comment below, or by contacting me at the email address in my sidebar.

Another Name Canvas

I decided the gift for my friend wasn't complete, so I made this to go with it. As I mentioned in my Baby Art post, it's hard to make art for other people because you can't be certain if they'll like your creation. But it was a little experiment I wanted to try with using book pages as a background, so I figured I'd give it a whirl. It was fun:) Because she is musical, the pages I used were from a little music text.

(The stand isn't part of it -- it's actually part of a gift she gave me! I just used it for the photo:)

Because I knew I was going to give her the wire dragonfly I made, I included some dragonflies in the collage. And speaking of my wire dragonfly, here he is adorning the gift as I had envisioned:


Cute, eh?

By the way, what do you think of the new look of my blog???? I made the header myself using one of my own art backgrounds! I'm pleased that I've been able to make the margins smaller so my text section is wider and my pictures can be bigger:) I don't know that this look will be my "signature look" -- but it's been fun playing and learning how to do all this technical stuff! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Just for fun, I linked this post to:
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