Saturday, August 30, 2014

Portrait of a Lady

I am painting a series of portraits. This first one is of my youngest daughter, 3 years old, and I think it captures some of her sweetness.

And a touch of the saucy. I tried to paint a little in Renoir's style, his use of color, brightness, beauty that sort of thing. I learned so much while working on this piece about color, composition, and style. 

I forgot how long oils take. I love oils, the color, translucency, consistency, but they go so very slow. I started this in February. Hopefully I'll become more expeditious so that I can offer portraiture to clientele other than my family. At least I'm capturing my children while they're young.

An interesting thing that happens when I get involved in something is that the children pick it up as well. When my oldest would only do his math reluctantly, the best solution was having 'math time' and I would sit down with my calculus, and everyone would sit down with whatever math they were on. The same with writing. I write, they write. I paint, they draw, color, etc. So, that lead by doing thing, is actually a principle. Works with cleaning kitchens too. 

Hopefully I can finish the next in the series before next February. 

If you have tips to motivate children (or me) to do something out of their comfort zone please share in the comments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


This morning, I woke up with baby fingers poking delicately in the holes of my face. Later, after I gave up on those precious extra five minutes, my lovely, delightful 9 year old daughter knelt on my bed to ask me the kind of question that makes me think.

"Do you like Motherhood?"

Why, yes, I did just pee all over the floor.

I sit speechless as feelings, thoughts, instincts flood my brain and my baby tugs my hair.

She lives in a world where Motherhood has been shafted by the majority of educated women. I want her educated, independent, to fulfill every particle of potential she came with. I also want her to be a mother, because it's hard, she's tough, and will be the best mother in the world.

I spent some time studying preschool education, because I homeschool and think I should know about these things, and the studies show over and over, that the best is home. The best place for babies is home. The best place for mothers, is with their babies. The best. Education, resources, money, none of it can offset the magic that happens when a mother is rolling around on the floor with her babies.

This matters. This is life work that comes with no retirement fund.

But. It's hard. It's money and sleep poor, hair pullingly frustrating and mind numbingly tedious. Hard.

It's having the missionaries over for dinner last night then finding the poo patty on the couch after they left that mysteriously disappeared from the diaper while I was trying to talk the 3-year-old our of the bathroom she locked herself in after she clocked the baby with her doll. That was before dinner. Before trying to cook dinner with a baby holding onto my pants, not walking, but practicing, practicing, the same way I'm practicing not losing my temper when I have five people talking to me at the same time and I haven't had four hours of uninterrupted sleep in nine months.

But look at her. A few short years ago and it was her fists in my hair, her mouth quivering with need, seemingly endless hunger for attention, love, food, care, and time.

Now she looks at me pensively, lovely warm eyes full of life, intelligence, curiosity and concern. Her thoughtful nature, her generous heart and compassionate soul are gifts that she gives unconsciously. I had a place in that, in the creation of something so beautiful, so perfect that I couldn't have imagined the reality, the possibility that began with a tiny bundle nine years before.

I am in awe.

Like is the wrong word to use with Motherhood.

"I love it."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sewing Pants: Fall 2014

Brown pants. Thrills, doesn't it? Chocolatey corduroy skinny stretch jeans though, sounds almost exciting.

Flat felled seams, faux zipper, reinforced knees, elasticated waist, all the details you'd expect from the tailor in the basement. Why do I bother with all this fanciness for a pair of pants? A pair of pants for the 7 year old who is notoriously rough on said pants? I don't really know, but it has something to do with, 'if you're going to do something, may as well do it right', which isn't really my philosophy in life. I'm all about embracing my mediocrity. Oh well. Hopefully they'll last longer.

AND I have been filling my dull desultory days with music! My sister sent me the lyrics, I stuck them to a tune swimming about my brains, and here I am, singing my heart out with my brilliant backup singers, playing less than mediocre guitar with uncalloused fingers, and in general, enjoying myself immensely.

Plaid Pants   I'm laying bets that you'll sing along during the chorus. If you can't have corduroy, plaid is certainly a statement maker.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Project Run and Play try-out

This is my 4th of July outfit for my 9 yr old. I used the yoke of a burda pattern and the shorts of an Ottobre.

Pardon the brief post. I didn't plan to try out. Hope you like it!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Outfits: Slumber

You can't see it, but the green crayon sparkles.
My heart thrills when I see paper dolls with their pages of perfectly planned outfits. When I opened bright, shiny, Barbie boxes, my favorite thing was the way everything went together with the perfect accessories. I am far from the most experienced accessory seamstress, but when it comes to designing an outfit, I think that's half the fun. That is why I am planning to make more outfits so my inner Barbie lover can soar.

My illustrious 8 month old helped me with the illustration. Quite gifted, eh? Hopefully I can complete one thing a week and then, voila! A finished masterpiece.

In other news... I've had an interesting realization about writing. I CANNOT write a House of Slide Book in the summer. CANNOT. Don't want to read it, don't want to fix it, and that is okay because Watergirl is my summer novel. I am so seasonal that I don't want to read or write moody evocative brooding stuff in the summer. I want fluffy, fun, light and mermaidy. So that's my excuse for not doing edits of book 3.
wintertime writing/reading
Product Details
summertime writing/reading
Does anybody else like some things better in summer than winter? I'd love to hear comments.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Adventure Units

Unit studies can be expensive. I decided to try it out without spending any money. I grabbed a book from my massive collection of classics and began to read. 1001 Nights cast a spell over all of them, even the version from my Harvard Classics collection, which can be dry.

I read a story every day, had them journal about it, introduced the Persian language, collected library books about it, checked out the manga version, saw youtube videos all about Cyrus and the Persian Empire, and ended our month-long study with a party where everyone wore harem pants and we ate rose ice cream and stuffed grape leaves.
Our Oasis and what is on my head? 

The amount of energy that it took was pretty immense, but the amount we learned was enormous. We learned. This is the best part of homeschooling for me. If I'm not learning, I'm doing something wrong, or worse, boring, and no one will retain very much.

For my mother, because she wanted to see my happy birthday to me outfit, got the linen jacket done. Yay! Also the red riding hood felt doll ...