Monday, July 30, 2012

Art Camp 2, SO FUN!

Such a great week in Art Camp 2! I had even more kids this time, but it went smoother than the first week. This week had the theme "faces". We made some amazing masks, self portraits, portraits of friends, and even threw in tie dye just for fun! We also had a nature art day, where we made hedgehogs with pine cones and clay and owl masks with nut shells and leaves. The kids learned to draw a face with the attention to proportions and got to play with all kinds of materials and media. They experimented with mixing colors, shading, and learned some common art terms and styles. Most of all they had fun and got creative!

I especially loved the impressionistic self portraits to see how the kids viewed themselves. There was so much laughter and joy in this class! I will treasure the memories, the cards they made me, all the smiles, and the gifts some of my students gave me, for all time!

impressionist self portraits
owl mask
Nature art day, pine cone hedgehog

nature art

clay mask, wish I had gotten a pic after it was painted!

plaster masks, again I wish I had gotten a pic when they were finished. They were decorated with feathers, sequins, beads, and more!

practice drawing faces

My amazing artists!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

To Not believe in gender stereo-types

I had to share this story (link below). My son has long hair. He started growing it out to look like a pirate about a year or so ago. Now he's really into Native American Indians, so he now tells me he's an Indian. I love his hair! It's thick, rich chocolate brown, with waves and curls. I wish I had hair like his! He's always looked and dressed very boy-ish so has rarely been mistaken for a girl, though it has happened occasionally and more often, especially since he can just get his hair into a ponytail and stole my bobby pins to keep the sides from falling.

I absolutely love that he is comfortable with who he is and does not gender stereo-type. He is totally accepting of all people, never questioning what they are wearing, how they have their hair, etc. The only time I had an inner struggle about it was when he wanted his nails painted when his sister and I were painting ours. Do I paint them and continue to give him freedom of dressing how he wants? Or do I avoid his pain and humiliation when some mean person wants to make fun of him for it? At least he has not wanted to wear dresses so I haven't had to think on that one. I would like to think I would not care, but I grew up in this society, too. I compromised and painted his big toes and one thumb green and he was happy with that. Even his dad was fine with that and he has a harder time accepting the long hair and some of his fashion choices.

My son is homeschooled so has not felt the pressure to conform. The many other homeschooled kids we've met are all very accepting, some dressing pretty outrageously, and I just love to see their fashions and freedom of expression! It saddens me that so many kids go to school and are teased and bullied for being different (and I completely remember being the receiver of it). Aren't we all different? Isn't that what makes each of us wonderful and unique? So far my son has avoided most of these situations, but I know his innocence can't last forever.

We've already come across some people, and all adults, that have asked him "if he likes looking like a girl?", referring to his hair, or "Why he's wearing a necklace or ___ that looks like a girls.." Luckily he didn't seem to really take in what they were saying and I hope he always keeps in mind what this blogger's daughter thought about them, that those people are just "stupid".

At home my son will play with dolls, cook, dance, draw hearts and rainbows, wear a tu-tu when his sister is wearing one, eat off a pink plate, and do all the things that boys are supposedly supposed to do, as well. I hope he always keeps an open mind and hasn't a care in the world of what others think he should look like or do.

Best Free Educational Websites

Best free educational websites I've used, so far:

As a homeschooling mom, I want the time my kids spend online to be educational as well as safe, fun, and engaging.

Sandy Toes Creations: Best Free Educational Websites

These are sites my son (five) and I use and we both love: (world culture; people/places), (painting online), (art projects), (facts, sounds, and videos of animals), has podcasts from the aquarium and activities,  (current science and history facts)
or for lesson plans:, (from the San Fransisco Symphony, fun learning about music), (awesome online library for science, art, & history), (reading), (educational games and videos, all subjects),
and of course (for educational games).

You can also find some great videos on Youtube, but be sure to turn on the safety setting. Just search the topic of your choice, such as "science for kids". There are so many great videos, you be there all day! You can subscribe to the channels of the videos you like to easily find them again and see more by your favorites.

More on internet safety for kids here.

My son loves, though it's not free. It really taught him to read in a very short time! Once it got more difficult he wasn't playing it so much, so we took a break. But now he's back at it and wants to play daily. I recommend taking advantage of the free trial! And there are discount codes you can get before purchasing if you want to continue.

There is a free app for your smartphone you can get! Eggy Words App. There are some other new apps as well, such as one for Spelling.

If you're a homeschooling family in Santa Cruz county, join us on Facebook at for park days, hikes, field trips, friends, support, mom's night out, and more!

Also, these sites were recommended by some of my homeschooling mom friends and I can't wait to try them out with my kids: (spelling),  (vidoes/ lessons/ practice for all subjects) (supplemental lessons, activities)  (fun underwater science adventure videos), (activities for all subjects)

What are your favorite educational sites?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not so happy meal

I'm not a fan of fast food. I'm not a complete health nut, I've just never liked it. My kids are used to eating fairly healthy and usually only get fast food if we're traveling. Now, my husband loves his hamburgers! So, since I was not going to be home for dinner one night, he brought home a special treat for the kids! Happy Meals! They were of course excited about the toys! They both tried the food, but even after we put the toys up for later, they were not eating. My hubby asked "why aren't you eating your dinner?" My 5 year old answered, "It's not healthy and I don't like it". I hadn't left yet and my husband gave me a look that said "what the *@$3 have you been telling them?!" I never said a thing!

I told my son "it's okay to eat this once in a while, we eat healthy food most of the time". But he asked if I'd make them quesadillas so I quickly put out veggies and dip and made them grilled cheese quesadillas with spinach, which they promptly gobbled up. My hubby didn't look at or talk to me till I was leaving. Then he proceeded to read the "nutrition" facts off the fries box, and told me they were actually healthy! Numbers of calories don't mean much to me, since I don't track them or anything, but there's no way I'll ever believe that fries, skinned of the most nutritious part of the potato, fried in grease and covered with salt, are good for you! I know he was thinking I've ruined his kids and filled their heads with health-freak nonsense! Can't even enjoy a treat like that!! Personally I was very proud of my kids, I'm happy they crave healthier foods and will live healthier lifestyles, but I didn't say a word!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stop and Smell the Blue Roses

Once in a great while I actually read those annoying forwards that clutter my email inbox and once in a very, very great while, I'm actually glad I did. I don't know who wrote it, but I just loved this story:

A Blue Rose

Having four visiting
family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store
for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper
towels, trash bags, detergent, and Clorox. So off I went. I scurried
around the store, gathered up my
goodies, and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the
narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about 16 years old. I
wasn’t in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I
was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and
declared in a loud voice, “Mommy, I’m over here.” It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me
standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and
surprise exploded on his face as I said, “Hey buddy, what’s your name?”
“My name is Denny and I’m shopping with my mother,” he responded
proudly. “Wow,” I said, “that’s a cool name; I wish my name was Denny,
but my name is Steve.” “Steve, like Stevarino?” he asked. “Yes,” I

“How old are you Denny?” “How old am I now, Mommy?”
he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle. “You’re
15 years old, Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by.” I
acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes
about summer, bicycles, and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with
excitement, because he was the center of someone’s attention.

He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section. Denny’s mom
had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to
talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn’t even look at
him, much less talk to him. I told her that it was my pleasure, and then
I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the
prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red,
yellow, and pink roses in God’s Garden; however, “Blue Roses” are very
rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness.

You see, Denny is a Blue Rose, and if someone doesn’t stop and smell
that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then
they’ve missed a blessing from God. She was silent for a second, then
with a tear in her eye she asked, “Who are you?” Without thinking I
said, “Oh, I’m probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in
God’s garden.” She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, “God bless
you!” and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next
time you see a BLUE ROSE, whatever differences that person may have,
don’t turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say hello.
Why? Because, by the grace of God, this mother or father could be you.
This could be your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or any other family
member. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their
family. From an old dandelion! Live simply. Love generously. Care
deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to the powers that be.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”

Monday, July 2, 2012

Photos from Kruz Kidz Art Camp1

Thank you to my wonderful students for making my week at Art Camp so much fun and such a great experience! I hope you never lose your passion for art and the courage to use your imagination and creativity!

I loved seeing the creativeness and passion for art in my students! Especially when they came up with their own ideas and altered the project we were working on. I've had art teachers get mad at me when I wanted to do something else or do something a little differently and I remember how I felt then. I let my students have the freedom to participate step-by-step, change the project slightly, or even do something else completely. I just wanted them to experiment with all sorts of mediums and have fun with it! There really are no rules in art anyway! I hope they got the message I kept repeating throughout the week that there are no mistakes in art. So many times my favorite pieces are something I messed up on and though I may not like it right then, I usually love how it turned out later when I never would have done it that way on purpose.

Watercolor painting

Recycled Art Day

recycled owls

recycled jellyfish

clay necklaces

pinch pot

Art Camp1

Art Camp was a blast!

Art camp was craziness! It was great fun and a wonderful learning experience for me. I have taught small classes before, but never had this many students. I think I did pretty well! I survived the week and my students seemed to have a good time. I chose messy projects that their parents would most likely not want to do at home, like splatter paint and tie dying. It was pretty chaotic on day one!

I'm so thankful for all my helpers! I had camp counselors and junior counselors helping me. Some I could not have survived without, they took initiative and made great suggestions! Some, I slowly came to realize, needed direction and I think by the end of the week I was getting the hang of delegating tasks and asking for help so things got much smoother. I'm usually horrible at asking for help, I'm a doer, if I want something done I just do it, so I'm proud of myself for asking for the help I needed. I was even delegating tasks to my students to get them involved in set up and clean up.

The hard part of the week was dropping my own kids off and not seeing them all day! I missed them tremendously! I can't imagine having to do that every week! I am so glad I am able to be with them most of the time! This weekend I relished every second with them because I missed them so much! But it also felt very special to be important in another child's life, even if it was for such a brief time. I had students tell me how much fun they had, how they Loved art camp, and some even made me special gifts during the week! It was such an honor to see their beautiful work, it's like seeing a peice of their soul. Art is very personal to me. They all had wonderful talents, and to be part of their creativity and imagination is a privilege I'll never forget!
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