Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Daycare that Spoils. (In A Good Way!)

Way back in August I posted about Kylie's new daycare and how good things were going.  Well, it's late January and it is still good!!  Yeah, we've had a couple of ughs.  Like biting.  But, when you take a toy away from someone, you probably should expect to be bit. 

By and large, Kylie's "school" is awesome.  Like every other daycare, I wish it had a more "homey" feel, but the facility is clean, there are plenty of toys, the curriculum is great and Kylie is happy.

Why is she happy?  It's the staff!!  They are incredible.  All of them.  I'm sure that the few staff in my pictures would be just thrilled to know that their pics are on my blog, but too bad.  :)

Kylie's teachers, Tara and Paige love on her everyday.  They offered to get Kylie ready for me in the mornings since she gets their early. So most mornings, they get her dressed, fix her hair in braids or ponytails and this last week, they even added teaching her how to brush her teeth!!! Yeah Baby!!

Here is Kylie and Tara. Tara would be mortified at Kylie's hair.  It is always fixed perfectly when I pick her up. But these pictures were taken at the Christmas party so they had other things going on that day!

This next picture is of Tara, Paige and Tate. 
Tate, the lady you can barely see, wearing glasses is a director?? Not sure. She's always there, always smiling, runs the front desk and takes Kylie many mornings all wrapped in a blanket and cuddles her! 
It is so nice to see my sweet child being loved on by the people that take care of her everyday!
What's even better about Kylie's school?  It's not just these ladies, it's April and another Paige and countless other hard workers that make Kylie's day special.  They know that Kylie doesn't eat meat, so they give her extra helpings of fruit.  One day, one of the teachers even pulled apart the lasagna so that Kylie would eat the noodles!

And lastly, since one would think I am a commerical for them, they are teaching Kylie the fundamentals of reading and math.  The two year old class isn't just play, she is learning to love reading and knows her colors and numbers and letters. 

So, there you have it.  If you are looking at childcare, take a few minutes to visit different schools at different times of the day. Ask lots of questions and look at the kids.  Yes, there are ALWAYS nasty snotty noses.  That's just one of the perks you get when you get more than 2 or 3 kids together! Ask if they have video cameras in the classrooms. We have that and can log in and watch our kids play!  I can't remember to and don't have time too, but you can bet that if there was a problem or I was concerned I would in a heartbeat! And lastly, watch the interactions of the staff.  The workers should work as a team, if they are not, ask who is doing all the work and wonder what happens if that worker leaves.  Would your child have the same experience if that person were not there? Some daycare's have really high turnover rates and you want to know if your child's classroom is going to be in constant upheaval.

Hey, and if you happen to live in my area and look at this daycare, tell em you read about them on my blog.  Maybe I'll get a referral discount! :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I used to be sentimental. Then I had three kids.

There are moments when I wonder who I have become. :) I used to be sentimental and I would keep almost anything that had a special story or a link to my family's past.  These days, it's take a picture of it, put it in the scrapbook and send it on it's way! 

Such is the case of my sofa.  I love this couch.  It was the first major piece of furniture that Doug and I bought for our first house right after we got married.  It has moved with us eight times!  I have pictures of Doug on the couch with Maddie just days old sleeping on his chest.  And the spills and the crayon marks.... how could I be contemplating it's demise?
But I am.  I'm tired of it's plainness. It's boring neutralness. All the qualities that made it a good investment and easy to decorate around have made it blah. And up against the tan wall. ICK.  The colors are just off enough to not go together at all.

I'm trying to decide what to do.  I've tried a slipcover.  That didn't work.  It ended up looking like a dark brown blob.  It could be that I bought the slipcover at big lots.  But what if I order an expensive slipcover and hate it.  What if I couldn't return it? I could try to re-upholster it myself... except that I have vivid memories of my mom doing just such a thing with 3 small children (well, I guess I wasn't that small if I remember it so well, but go with me).  I don't think it turned out well as we got a new sofa not too long after that, I think.  I was just a child you know :)

So there you have it.  This wonderful couch has lived well, but I'm ready to send it on its way.  Not that I have the money to replace it.  This whole discussion is really hypothetical!

But for grins, what would you do?  And painting the wall is not an option.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finding Balance on the Red Wall

I know, I know... I teased you with this picture and now I've moved on.

Well, one simple reason.

I can't find the one thing that I really, really want to put on the empty side of the dresser.
So, I'm moving on for now... well, moving to a different wall in the living room, not a new concept.

Here is a portion of the back wall of my living room.  I love the vibrant red, contrasting with the white trim and ceiling with the brown beams.  It's fun and appeals to me. 
I think it is so important to create places that appeal to you.  Who cares if it is designer, or in fashion, if it makes you smile or feel good, go with it.

However, I do think you should know at least a little bit about why you like something!  No worries, I won't go into a big long lesson ..well, I'll try not too :) , but I will break down the above picture for you. If you want to know more about balance, simply do a google search on balance as a principle of design and you will find tons of stuff!

Okay for the quick teaching.. You see, there are 3 kinds of balance. Symmetrical, Asymmetrical and Radial.  Most of us know symmetrical or formal balance.  That's where you can cut something in half and you get an equal amount on each side.. ie the human body.  Asymmetrical is where you can't cut it in half and get equal parts and radial is circular, like spokes on a wheel.  Get it? Got it?  Good! See, easy!

In the below picture, I've super-imposed a grid on top of the picture.  Yes, like grids.  Shocking, I use visuals to teach :)  So in the grid you can see that the bookshelf, the dominat object on the wall is in symmetrical balance with the pictures.  This makes for a nice grounded space.  While some of us like things willy-nilly, we don't want EVERYTHING to be chaotic!

However, to break up the symmetry, I have a plant on top of the bookshelf that is much larger than the little bike that is sitting there with it.  The bike is a seemingly afterthought. (There are lots of teaching terms that I could insert here, but I won't!) Then in the bottom quadrant, the chair sits.  If I had a chair to balance on the other side, it would be too planned and BORING! Even on a red wall.  Instead, the lone chair throws off the symmetry just enough to be interesting.  Also, the solid color, one tone chair isn't distracting in a "look at me" way so the whole thing just feels good.
And that's it. 

Balance is simply the arranging of things (objects, pictures, paint, etc..) so that no one part of a work overpowers, or seems heavier than any other part. But remember, balance doesn't have to be boring. And look, I'm leaving the correlation of life and art to you this time!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

I hear you, loud and clear. Or is it silent and deadly?

I hear you.
Well, actually I can't.
So I can.

Are you confused yet?

Over the last couple of years I've learned a little about blogging.
I've learned that somethings that I am really interested in, you are not.

Elements of Art and Principles of Design theory happens to be one of those areas.

You like how I use them. You just don't want to know why.

Thanks :)

It's just like teaching school!

So, while I'm not going to stop teaching you readers about these things,
I'm just going to do a better job of hiding the teaching!!!

Moving on.

I need your opinion.

This little set up is right inside my living room.
Which one do you like better? And sorry about the quality of the pictures.  I used my camera phone.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B

I'm taking a vote.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is it January or March?

 Is it January or March? 

The grass is green.
Pollen is in the air.

It's mid-70's and beautiful.

Not exactly winter. 
I love me some family time in the spring!

Monday, January 16, 2012


This is my first post in a series called Life Defined by Art.  If you would like the introductory page, click here.

Buried in the list of Principles of Design is a concept called Composition. 

Composition is not the single most important concept on the list, but in my humble opinion, it is the make or break concept!  You see, it doesn’t matter how great your line work is if the viewer quickly glances at your work and moves on cause it doesn’t capture their interest.

Composition helps set the mood of your work. It gives the viewer a "feel" for the artist and even lets the viewer learn a little about the artist as well.

As I teach composition in art class, I use a tried and true graphic to help students understand how to place things on the page.  Yes, it is formulaic, but until you understand how and why something is done, you don't understand how to break free from it in a positive way. Below is my graphic.  It's not my original thought.  It's a lot of different people's theories rolled into one usable handout.

Many people understand the idea of breaking a photograph into a grid, but they don't consider the grid placement for other art forms. What is really nice about using the grid is that it gives a place for the artist to mentally focus.  It helps the artist define one key area, an impact area for the best color, the best contrast, special edge work or great detail.  This allows the artist to spend time developing that one area without feeling like he/she has to give that much attention to the whole. 

In the above painting, you can see that I chose to make area 2 my impact zone.  Yes, I bled into part of area 1, but not too much :) I went with the expected and made the faces the impact zone, but I could have changed things up and made the hands realistic and detailed, making the impact zone 4. 

As the artist, the important thing is to focus on one area.  And by placing the detail and best highlights and so forth within the blue areas, the viewers eye remains inside the painting.  If you place the impact area on the edge of the plane, the viewer will look at your impact zone and move right off your piece onto the next thing. And that would be a bummer.

OKAY... I'm moving on.  sorry, I get a little too "teachy" sometimes.

So how does this relate to life?

Well, when was the last time you have felt like you are worn out, pulled in too many directions and have no focus?  Yeah. That's how it relates.

Let's take another look at the composition grid.
If I break down my life into the grids and I place my job, my family, my community responsibilities, my church responsibilities and everything else into a grid, my first question would be how many sections can I have.  But truly, if I have 12 sections and my immediate family takes up four, I need to figure out what makes it on the grid.  Obviously, my job is one.Then do my sisters/parents/mother-in-law all share one box? That's a lot of people and expectations for such a small box. You get the idea.

Very quickly my grid is full.  Did I make time for myself? Did I leave a box for exercise or scrapbooking?  If I didn't, what am I going to cut?  Am I going to dump my work for the public library? Ouch.

Now that I've filled my 12 boxes, I'm ready to move to the focus area.  Just having to put my life in a concrete black and white format helps me see why I am always struggling to "get things done!" So, here is where things get tricky.  Obviously, my children need me a lot. So does my husband, even though he gets forgotten often.  Thankfully there are four boxes that make up the larger impact area.  It goes without saying that my family should be in my impact area.

Is yours? Nope, it's not to make you feel guilty.  You notice that I said that my family SHOULD be. There are times when my impact area moves off my family. This is why I like putting things down on paper.  Cause really, does doing my job mean more than my children? If not, why am I spending more time working than playing with them?  No, I'm not giving up my job. I can't. So, I have to make sure that my work is not in an impact area.  Yes, it gets a box, but not my best box!

In the end, I have to remind myself that in my life, as in a composition, I have to be deliberate as to where I put all of my best color, my best detail, my best everything.  Everything doesn't get the same weight visually in a composition.  If it does, the viewer's eye has no place to rest.  This is just like life.  Everything in life can't be the focus. You have to have an impact zone.  If not, you will have no place to rest.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Pre-Valentine, Post-Anniversary Gift for the Foyer

With the way I titled this post, you might think that I gave a gift to the foyer. 
I didn't.
I really bought the tree print for Doug. 
For either a late Anniversary or a pre Valentine gift.

It was funny, he opened it and smiled and said that he had looked at getting one for me.
Good thing I'm either late or early so that we didn't overlap and both buy the same gift.
That would be bad given that they are custom and not returnable.

So, disaster averted!

And here is the print on the wall.
Yes, the prints are high.

I cleaned off the entry table so that the picture would look nice.
All the junk mail that usually sits on the table is hiding nicely in the drawer.

So you see, usually, I would need the prints high like that to see them over the accumulated "stuff."

Hmm. Now what am I going to get Doug for V-Day?
I might should have thought that thru a little longer....

Monday, January 2, 2012

Everyone's favorite dirty word... BUDGET!

It's that time of year, everyone is talking about it, so I thought I'd throw my two cents in too :)

Aren't you glad? 

Well, here is my budget. It's actually pretty easy to follow.

Don't buy things you don't need. How do you do this? Don't go shopping.

There you have it.  That's my budget.

Really? Yup.

Here is how my mind works, or maybe doesn't work... who knows.

I buy decorative things for the house when my friends have those at home parties. I like supporting my friends and their friends. It makes shopping way more fun.

I also buy decorative things for the house on clearance, or Ikea.  And since I'm at Ikea maybe once a year, if that, it's not too bad!

Clothes shopping?  Well, for myself, I buy things when my younger hip sister Katy says I have too. She's pretty thrifty, so I don't have to worry about spending a crazy amount when she's in charge.  You can take a look at her (and my other sister Melody's) blog at . Even their blog name is hip.

Clothes for the kids?  Too be honest, a couple of times a year I go off the charts and have a friend of mine do a couple of custom and totally cute outfits, but it's worth it. Other than that, I am the back row sale rack kinda shopper.  But even there, it implies that I shop.  I don't. I usually wait until one of my kids points out that their shoes are worn out, or their jeans are too small or something like that.

So where do we spend our hard-earned dollars?  EATING OUT!!! OH YEAH!!

I'm not gonna tell you how much we spend on food. It's none of your beeswax. :) But, I can tell you, we spend too much.  I love to eat out.  That is our entertainment!  However, if we want to be sensible and all that, and we have to cook and be money-minded, then let me tell you that E mealz is the way to go!

I <3 Emealz

Click on the above picture and it will take you to the website.  It really is awesome.  Using E Mealz I have the meals for the week planned, a grocery list made out and the recipes (all basic that Maddie can even help handle) in hand.  It's totally the way to go if you have to cook.

And that's it.  That's my budget. 

I know that you are glad you took the time to read the fine print of my budget!

But hey, it really is simple.


Hope you have a great year and that you stick to your budget, if you have one.  But, if you only stuck to your budget for one month last year, don't expect to be able to make it all year, this year.  Really. Why don't you try to make it to three months this year.  That would be a reasonable goal.

As to goals, I've got lots of those. In fact, I make up for the lack of shopping with goal setting! Wow. I probably shouldn't have said (written) that.  Good thing I am already completely aware of my lameness!