Friday, May 31, 2013

Just when I think I'm going to take it easy... I decide to mix things up!

I signed up for a grad class yesterday. I haven't taken a class since I finished my MFA in 2000.

I'm excited, but a little nervous.  I've read the syllabus and already made my first post.

I'm planning to learn a lot, get some great ideas, and be ready for next school year. (crazy talk.. today is the last day of school and I'm already planning/dreaming about next year!)

So what am I taking? Instructional Strategies for Art Teachers! Doesn't it sound fun :) !

Now you know why I am excited.

So if you are an art teacher and you haven't found your way to The Art of Ed, you should. It's a really great resource.

I'll keep you posted to how it goes.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More on My Parenting Perspective

I read a lot of mommy blogs. I read some daddy blogs too. I read philosophy and psychology and even some religious blogs. I'm pretty eclectic in my reading both in the cyber world and the traditional book format. I have friends at both ends and the middle on the spectrum from lifestyle to religion to politics. Because of this, I think I am probably more compassionate about other perspectives than some.

I say this, because it seems like every time I turn around I am constantly reading about why I am not good enough as a parent how I could be a better parent if only I would emulate this certain style. If I would just be more rigid at mealtimes like the French, or push more like the tiger mom, or home school, or private school, or no school or don't spank or do spank or....... and it goes on and on.

So since everyone else spouts their beliefs and some with no parenting experience at all, here is my parenting perspective. Side note: I am calling this my parenting perspective for a reason... in perspective drawing, what is closest is biggest, most detailed, most vibrant.. so with my parenting perspective I am choosing to focus on the things that mean most to me.

My street cred... my kids are 13,8 and 3 and I've taught in public education for 16 years.

Parenting is about Personality! Not the personality of the child, but the parent. If you are a person that loves routine, needs the rigidity of daily scheduled meals that always happen at the exact time, great. But don't expect others to understand or follow suit. This doesn't make you a better parent or a worse parent. It makes you a parent that likes routine. How is this good for your child? Your child learns to follow a schedule. How could this be bad for your child? If you are inflexible about meal time, your child might learn to be inflexible.  My take? I like routines. I am a teacher, I live by the bell schedule. At home, most of the time we eat dinner between 6 and 6:30pm, bedtime is around 8:30. Our routines are like elastic, they have structure, but they also give.. to a point.

Parenting is about Priorities and Priorities are Personal! Every family has different priorities and those priorities are made up of a number of different elements. A family like mine with two working parents and three kids have very different mitigating factors than families with fewer/more kids or a non working parent. I have to say, there are days when I'd really like to tell people to walk a mile in my shoes..they aren't fashionable, they are probably dirty and well worn, but I happen to really like my life and the way I'm living it! Yep, that sounds a little cantankerous.. but like all families, the outside world only sees the small tip at the top of the iceberg of the responsibilities and daily stuff that my family faces each day. However, when I get on my high horse about how good of a parent I am compared to such and such parent, I have to remind myself that I don't know the personal part of their priorities.

Parenting is about Perseverance! Parenting is hard. It is really hard. Some days are easier, but on the whole, parenting is tough. What I like about the idea of perseverance is that we try and try again. If you persevere at something, it implies that you didn't succeed the first time. Parenting is just that. Hey, you might have gotten "lucky" with your child and had a good sleeper or eater or whatever the current definition of a good parent or easy baby is, but the likelihood is that you persevered through something! I can tell you from experience that I had a great baby... but she wasn't a good sleeper and she wanted to nurse all the time! It didn't matter what Dr. Sears, Dr. Spock or Dr. whoever said, my little one was not going to be on a routine, she was not going to sleep laying flat in her crib and she was not going to take a bottle if she could smell me! But we persevered. And guess what, years later we learned that all of her foibles and "spoiled" baby issues had basis in her health problems.

Parenting is about being Practical. Being a practical parent means that you don't make everything a fight. You choose a couple of non-negotiables and allow flexibility to reign in your home. That might mean that you don't "win" every fight. Cause really, if the child gets her teeth brushed but had to be carried to the bathroom upside down on your back, is that a loss? I'd consider that a win on both counts. The child had her teeth brushed and you just created a magic moment for your child. Sure, you could have demanded, forced, fought and spanked and got those teeth brushed and "won," but in my book, it's a loss. You lost the moment with your child to connect, to show compassion and to teach flexibility. So instead of living within the strict confines of what some guru says we should do and are constantly having to fight, we live in practical peace. (not much peace, lots of words... lots and lots of words....but much less punishment.)

And that's my parenting perspective.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Summer To Do List

Summer is not quite here, I have 4 work days left... but my summer to do list is already growing! Doug just groans.

Top on my list: decorating the girls rooms!

When we moved in to the house, we just crashed and made it work. Now I'm ready to make the rooms personal. But I'd like to forgo paint! So, I'm thinking a funky canopy and things like that. All of the girls need bedroom furniture (can you say big bucks!) but for now, I'm thinking of basic bed purchases and then adding some flair.

2. Another high priority is my bedroom and bathroom.

I'd really like to decorate these rooms to match, but the decorative tile in the bathroom really limits the color palette, so I'm not sure what I want to do. All I know is that I want to use a turquoise-y baby blueish color in the bedroom.

Here is one option I found
but I really want a nice bold graphic...
Doug would freak. And this one is just too much pattern!
So I could go with more basic. 
You see why it takes me months and months to find anything...
ooh, but look at this one! I love the beachy feel!

I know, no bold print, no dark contrast. just calm.

I think this one may be it! But I wonder...

3. Next on the list is organization. Or the lack of it. I am tired of clutter. Yesterday we were working in the garage and I came across a box of bells that I used to collect. I told Doug that we should just sell them. I don't have a place to store them, I don't want to just stick them in the attic and I am not emotionally tied to them. I moved past them and I've scrapbooked the memories! Doug said he guessed as long as I didn't toss him out or try to sell him, he figured we were doing okay. I might be getting a little aggressive with my selling off of the clutter!

Anyway... I'm looking at finding better storage solutions!

And that's it for now. Well, not really, but you don't care about the trashed closets and annoying Tupperware drawer! But if you have a great idea for movie storage, I am all ears!

My list is growing, I can't wait for summer!

Monday, May 27, 2013

It's been quite a year!

It was a year ago that I decided I had to change my life. Don't know why Memorial Day was the day, but it was!  And what a year of change it has been! I didn't change the big things, like husband or family... just the everyday choices that made for an overweight and unhealthy me.

So, let's recap.

My first weigh-in for Weight Watchers had me at 173. ouch. I weighed on the Tuesday after Memorial Day. I did so purposely because I knew that weighing in on Monday mornings would be difficult after the weekend. Loosing the weight was going to be hard enough, I didn't the need emotional ups and downs of a Monday morning ouch!

Here is a picture right before I started on the new me.
Looking at that picture makes my heart hurt. I'm so glad I did something. In the the first three weeks I lost 11 pounds.  The below picture is me at the one month mark. I started running and even exercised while at the scrapbook retreat. But oh these pictures are not kind.

Sometimes we need to see the brutal reality we have created for ourselves.
Over the next couple of months as the weight came off and I exercised more, a new me began to emerge.

And then in August, I got up the nerve to start running with some ladies. This was huge! The idea that I could run with others.. crazy! This changed my world. I went from running 3 or 4 miles tops to knowing that I could keep a decent pace and run more miles. Awesome!!

So I decided to run a 10k. I hadn't even run a 5k in 15 years, but heck, I've never let things like that get in my way! And I did it and found out through the process that I love running and love races!

From October 20th to this past weekend I ran nine races. Five 5ks, one 10k, two half marathons and one adventure race!

And there you have it. I met my original Weight Watcher goal in November and got as low as 136 on December 11th. Then the holidays hit and the winter blahs and then the crazy spring..Today I am at 142. I'd really like to get to 135, but I'm not putting much pressure on myself as summer is about here and I get to start water aerobics!!
I think what I have been most amazed at over this year is that while I have lost a lot of weight, I have dropped a lot of sizes. I never imagined that I would wear size 6 jeans and small shirts. So yeah, I'd like to loose a few more pounds, but really, that's more about my mental issues with the scale cause I sure am happy with the me that has been uncovered!
oh and I've started training for a marathon!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tutorial for printing your own tshirts

For yesterday's race, we wanted tshirts. Buying a custom printed shirt is expensive. we didn't want that!  So, I designed a little shirt and printed our own. Here is a tutorial for you as this is a printing process that anyone can do!!
Now, I have to say that if I was going to make 10 or more shirts, I would screen print them. I have that capability and knowledge, but I know that a lot of people don't. You could use this printing technique that I will show you to print as many shirts as you want, it would just get tedious.
The upside to this technique is that there is no wasted paint and no mess!! Score! (Screenprinting has mess and waste.)
So back to this technique. I didn't create the idea, I just tweaked it for my use. In the art world, it's a monoprint.
Step 1: Design your shirt. I first had a fat font and a heavy graphic. This didn't work very well as I ended up with lots of squishy paint. I would suggest that you stick with a simple font and simple graphic. You can always add more paint later, but it's hard to work with gobby paint.
Step 2: Print your graphic in REVERSE or MIRROR. It doesn't need to be in color and it doesn't matter if it's inkjet or laser, you are not using the paper, you are working with the image.
Step 3: Using Dimensional Fabric Paint, trace the image. I was really afraid the paint would dry to quickly and that it wouldn't print, but that was really only a problem with the school house as it was a fine line. I could have gone back over it and made it a thicker line, but I chose not too. I will say that I practiced on the back of old shirts a few times. I was leery of how it would print and didn't want to ruin a good shirt.
Here is an early print. I  used too much ink on the letters, but I love the way it looked on white! (we didn't want white for the race as we weren't sure about getting wet/muddy)
Here is another print. I did this one directly on the blue shirt. It did NOT work. But here is what I learned, if you print and it looks horrible, use spray and wash liberally and put directly into the wash and the paint COMPLETELY comes out!! Awesome!!
Alright, so here is a print ready to go. I just used black paint and the lines are fairly thin.

Step 4: Turn your paper over and place directly onto the shirt that you want printed. I have my shirts on tshirt boards, but you could use a piece of cardboard or a few layers of newsprint. You just need something to absorb the extra paint and to protect the other side of the shirt.
Step 5: RUB GENTLY but FIRMLY the paper onto the shirt. I start with one corner and rub over the entire surface of the paper. Yes, even the part that doesn't have paint. You want to make sure that the entire print had a chance to adhere and set onto the shirt.

Step 6: Carefully pull the paper off the print. I start at one corner and pull at an angle gently rolling the paper off the print.

After the paint set up a little, I just painted in the shoes, outfit and bow. That was probably the easiest way to add color. But, another option is how I did my shirt. I traced the black and then went back and added the blue and red.

 You can see from the print that it was too much blue and red and that it smeared out of the edges. Not a great clear print, but worked well for what I wanted the shirt for.
So there you have it! A tutorial for printing your own shirts!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Diva Dash Adventure Run. Done. and how bout 31/149 in my division. Oh yeah!

The Shape Diva Dash was this morning. My friend Courtney and I went together. We were "Teachers on the Loose!" Here we are before the run! And look at that.. I have muscles :)
The entire family went with me. I wasn't sure if I would ever do anything like this again, so I wanted my girls to see me do something hard.

And we are off.
 A picture by Maddie. love.

The first obstacle.
Lexi and Kylie got a chance to play on the course between waves of runners! 

Me on the course. This was about mile 2.
The ropes.That's me climbing!

And the final obstacle! I was scared of this one! But I did it and didn't fall!!

At the end of the race!
This was after we had run a 5k and completed 12 obstacles.

The obstacles were...
1. the tires with swinging hippity hops (you saw in above picture)
2. climbing through a rope maze (rope burn on right forearm)
3. climbing up and over a tire mountain (tire burn and knot on my right calf)
4. up and over 4 foot construction walls.. five of them! (bruised left knee)
5. stepping across a moving rope type structure
6. up and over 7 or 8 foot walls built in 3 sections.. 3 or 4 of these I can't remember. But I do remember that they swayed a little when you pulled up to the top of the wall and crossed over!
7. down a steep wet/muddy bank across a board and up the other side
8. the rope climb (seen in picture above)
9.  up and down a steep incline 3 times
10. a run through mud section.. man I think my shoes gained a couple of pounds each here!
11. Monkey bars
12. the balance board (seen in above picture)

It was hard, but man it was fun!! Here we are at the end.
And how did I do... well, I ran it in 33:51:99 which put me 31 out of 149 in my division!! How cool is that!! and 81 out of 360 timed runners! I am soo proud of myself!!

And will I do this again? You bet I will!! I'm already looking to see if there is a 10k event like this :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spring Band Concert

Tonight was the spring band concert.  Maddie did great. The band did great. In fact, the band is so good that they are changing my preconceived ideas about what a junior high band is supposed to sound like!!
I have a video... but I can't get it to load. Just hum a tune while you look at the pictures!
Maddie was in Symphonic (the top band) during the spring semester. It is really hard to believe that she didn't start playing the clarinet until about 10 months ago. She is third chair.. only 2 eighth graders are better than her in her band class! And some of the students have been playing for 3 years!

Here is her band director. Mr. Short. Funny really. He is super tall!  Anyway.. he is really good. Maddie says that he is very strict and won't let the kids give up on a song. I love that!! I'm thrilled that the kids are good and play beautiful songs, but I love that the director is teaching them to persevere. That is good teaching!
And here are Lexi and Kylie up close and personal to the concert. I love this picture. You see Maddie on stage and her sisters watching.
And guess what? With tonight's concert, we have one more end of the year obligation checked off!!

It's a good day in my art world.

Last night, one of my student's won 3rd place in our state UIL Technical Design contest. She is a freshman.

Today, one of my student's was named Runner Up in the 2d3d National Art and Design contest. She is a sophomore. That's not her work below, it's from the contest site.

It's a good day in my world! :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Hungarian Dance and Harry Potter..

Sunday was Maddie's end of the year piano recital. She played The Hungarian Dance and a theme from Harry Potter.  Maddie practiced a lot and did great!
I know now what my parent's meant when they made comments about how much I practiced my songs... it's a little brutal on parents! But oh so worth it for the progress Maddie has made. She loves her music and I can see that this is a path for her future.
Here Maddie is playing with her teacher Ally turning the pages. (one thing I soo appreciate about Ally, she doesn't require that the students memorize the songs!)

With this year complete, Maddie says this is eight years taking the piano. Really? How can that be.?!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"Free" Curtains for my French Door!

I almost hate to tell you about my curtains for my french door. Why? Cause they were free. Well, they weren't really free, but basically free.
You see here is my tip.. I figure I learned this from my mom... but anytime brown, denim or a really basic fabric is on sale cheap, I buy it. All of it. This means at times I have had 20 yards of khaki canvas, or 10 yards of denim or... well you get the picture.  Anyway, I have had this brown cotton/poly blend fabric for years. I bought it for $1 or $1.50 a yard at Walmart and have stored it in a plastic tub all of this time.
So, last week, after finishing my tree with the brown print fabric and noticing that I had a good bit of leftover, I set it on my curtain rod and was pleasantly surprised. I had planned on a light curtain, but the dark was a great contrast to the paint and tied into the tile on the kitchen counter. So, I dug through my stash of fabric and found this brown that looked nice with the print.
And there you have it. I divided the fabric into two pieces, sewed the brown and the print together and hemmed all four sides and clipped it onto rings that I had purchased years ago.. clearance again... I consider curtain rod/clips a basic that can be purchased at anytime...and hung my curtains.
Nope they aren't perfect. But I didn't spend a single dollar on them and it took all of 30 minutes. I call that a win!

And that's one more project down!

My Target Field Trip Grant!!!

Back in the fall I heard about the Target Field Trip Grant and being one that is always looking for an extra dollar to spend on my students, I wrote for it. I was thrilled when I heard that I was selected!! The grant covered all the expenses to take up to 50 of my students to the Fort Worth museums for the day!
So after months of anticipation, Friday was the day! We ended up only having 40 people as there was a pep rally and tests and such and some students just couldn't get away. But those of us that went, had a great time!
And it was truly a great feeling to be able to tell parents and students that they didn't have to bring a penny for this trip! The grant even covered a snack!
Our first stop was The Modern. We were divided into 4 groups and shown around. Each group saw different works of art. I like that, but wish we had had time for the students to go around after the tour and tell their friends about the pieces that they saw. But that's okay, I'd rather leave them wanting more than be bored!

After we finished at The Modern, we loaded up back on the bus and had a snack and drove the block or so to the Amon Carter Museum. Here they are waiting to go into the museum for our tour.
I love the Amon Carter Museum, but an hour just isn't long enough for a tour here when the education specialists want to engage the students in conversations about the pieces! I think I was the only one out of the 40 of us to have ever been to the Amon Carter and we didn't even see some of the best pieces. The students were a little frustrated too. It's hard to engage in thoughtful conversation about something you have never seen before. But the experience for them was wonderful and each and every student left talking about the museum and the pieces. 

I love this picture!! Sorry museum people, my kids were not sophisticated enough to "get" some of the questions!! But Louise Nevelson is one of my favorite artists, so I was thrilled for my kids to see it in person!

And here they are just being the cool kids that they are!

After the museums we loaded back up and had a late lunch at Golden Corral. Thanks Fort Worth Golden Corral for making it work! They lowered the price for us so that the per diem covered the meal! Awesome!!
After the kids stuffed themselves we headed back home.
It was a great day.
I have to say, I love GRANTS! And I love that Target offers a field trip grant! It was a truly memorable day and so very good for my kids.