Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bad ideas

We took our kids to the Trail of Lights on December 20th.  Yep, the last Friday before Christmas, two days before it closed down for the season.  It was just as insane as you would expect.  Approximately half of Austin walked through that entrance tunnel with us--a slow, plodding crush of humanity that was actually a little depressing.
Also, we were apparently not the only ones to think, "Let's go eat at Chuy's first, and then we can just walk down there right when it opens," because Chuy's was insane as well.

The next day I went to the post office to mail a few packages.

Yep, the last Saturday before Christmas, I headed to the post office.  Walked in about five minutes before closing time.  That experience actually turned out to be far less painful than I anticipated, so bravo, USPS!  May you not go bankrupt in 2014, because boy do I love sending and receiving honest-to-goodness mail, even if it is only at Christmas time.

Oh, I also waited until the afternoon of Christmas Eve to go grocery shopping.  Maybe "become a person who plans ahead" should top my list of New Year's resolutions.

Ah, well.  I hope you had a lovely Christmas week.  

To end on a good note, here is a bit of my favorite art and music for the season.

Gift of the Magi by Squirrel Nut Zippers

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Good ideas

The beauty of watching a group of kids make gingerbread houses is that after all the community frosting cans and finger licking, you will never be tempted to eat the finished product.  It's like that saying about sausage and legislation: you really don't want to see what goes into it.

Last night, one of our boys held out a handful of Nerds to me and said, "Mom, would you like some candy from my gingerbread house?"
Thankfully, before the disgusted "Ugh!  NO!" came out of my mouth, I was able to reply, "Oh, that's so kind of you to share, but no thank you."

Somehow, I now have a child old enough to be assigned a class presentation on a foreign country.  He chose Canada, and he needed a drawing of the country to attach to the poster.  I don't know if you've noticed, but Canada has a ton of islands and lots of jaggedy edges, so freehanding was out of the question.  Our paper was a little too thick to trace the outline by placing it on top of the picture in the atlas, so I figured out an ingenious solution.  Pull up a website with an appropriately-sized picture, and trace it from there.  The monitor works like a light box.

Just as I was congratulating myself on being super duper smart, my boys asked if they could salt their own popcorn.  Of course they are old enough to correctly use a salt shaker, right?

If it were snow, we'd call it a light dusting, but in salted popcorn terms, that's a blizzard.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DIY: Make art with your kids

This is a project I've wanted to do for a long time.  You can do it too!  There are only four steps, but with drying time, it might take a couple days total.

1. Find and prime a canvas (Let it dry completely)
2. Cover with color (Let it dry completely)
3. Add pattern and texture (Let it dry completely)
4. Use a thin sharpie or marker of your choice to add doodles and drawings.
I found a couple of wall hangings in the clearance section of a home decor shop.  They were slightly damaged, which means I got them for $2.50 each.  (You could  also check thrift shops for cheap large canvases.)  The art was totally not my style, so I was happy to cover it with two coats of white paint.
Pick just a few paint colors and cover the entire canvas.  Don't pick too many or things could get muddy.  I like to stick with similar shades for the bottom layer.
Then use paintbrushes and all sorts of other tools to create a layer of pattern and texture.  We used bubble wrap and a cardboard roll as paint stamps, and even used the edge of one of those fake credit cards they send in the mail to "slice" on the black paint.
 Then doodley-doodle all over the place.
Mason insisted that we play a couple games of tic-tac-toe, and he drew me an award ribbon when I won.
 I see more collaborations in our future.
This project was inspired by Danielle Thompson's family art gallery here and Alisa Burke, who is constantly doing art with her two year old, for example, the one in her office tour here.