Paint Along Class

Yesterday I trotted into a painting class. It is actually something I have wanted to do for quite some time. When I was in university I took two semester of art which were core subjects for training teachers. Even though the art lecturer was somewhat crazy, I quite enjoyed learning some limited artistic techniques. (Lino print and paper mache come to mind!) It occurred to me that with a good teacher, most things can be taught, even if one does not have natural talent.

I have no delusions of becoming a world renewed painter, but I do enjoy manipulating a paint brush, but at this stage just don’t have the ability to transfer the pictures in my head onto paper or canvas. That is why I was excited to hear that an art studio nearby, Shiny Happy Art, did Paint Along classes. (Mum thinks it was funny that my Happy Heart went to Happy Art!) I figured that if I could watch and follow someone else I might have a good chance of having something I could hang with pride on my wall at the end of the day.

I must say, after I walked through the red doors of that studio, donned an apron and the painting began,

I had some moments of panic. Anna Bartlett, the artist and teacher for the morning, had warned that it would be a busy morning and if we were going to get the painting done in 3 or 4 hours, we would need to keep up. But gosh, once she started I had that sinking feeling, (that I often get when I’m doing something new), that I was going to crash and burn and end up wasting my money.

We started by doing the initial outline and plan with chalk on the canvas.That is the moment that I most felt out of control. Right at the start I could see that I hadn’t done my bridge properly, which was no surprise. I may not be able to paint, but I’ve done simple pictures of the bridge and waterlillies with years 1-3 students back when I was teaching. I always found drawing the bridge difficult. Sure enough, by the end the wonky bridge was very annoying. Thankfully with a few brush strokes of magical help from Anna it ended up OK.

There I am getting some much needed help from Anna. (Photo from the Shiny Happy Heart Facebook page.) 

That was probably the hardest bit and beginning to put the paint on. I was struggling to keep up and missing things. After that, I got a bit more used to the pace, although I was constantly finding things I had forgotten the whole way through! Funnily, at one point Anna commented that I looked so worried. Although there were many moments I was worried, at that particular moment, I wasn’t thinking about the painting. I had picked my phone up to take a quick photo. (Typical blogger Instagram addiction) As I turned my phone on, a message popped up from a friend that bulk spam was spewing out of my twitter account. So the perplexed look was actually wondering how I had got hacked. Sorry if I hit you, I think it’s all sorted out now!  (Another friend notified me that I sent her a bizarre message using abbreviated expletives! Let me assure you, that is not the way I communicate!)

Sneaky Instagram during art class!

All in all, it really was a fabulous morning, and despite feeling out of my depth quite a few times, I did get there in the end. Even though I think it looks like my pond is a bit like a stream with cotton wool balls all over it! Still it’s hanging in my dining room, and I’m quite proud to have my own art work on the wall.

I did that!

Anna Bartlett really was lovely. She was doing the same painting at the front and giving very clear and precise instructions on what to do at every step, even down to when to dip the brush in water and when to combine the colours to make shades and tints. Exactly what a total newbie such as myself needed! She was also very helpful at giving feedback, and very calm at helping work out a solution to little errors. (Like broken bridges.) I actually really look forward to doing another paint along class some time in the future. There were lots of other pictures that Anna does Paint Alongs for, and there are a few I’m hoping to get a chance to do!  It’s such good value. You pay not only for the teaching in the lesson, but also the canvas and paints are provided, the cleaning up is done for you and at the end of the day you have some artwork to hang on your wall!

Watching and following Anna.

To finish, here is a picture that Anna took, (also on her Facebook page currently.) at the end. Don’t you love it how everyone’s looks different even though they are all similar? It really was the perfect morning doing something for myself after The Accountant being out of town for 3 nights and 4 days and me doing the solo Mum with the five kids during that time. (Side note: Hats off to you single Mums. You are amazing!) So being outside my comfort zone but exercising some creativity was really nice, in fact, it’s good for your soul.

Have you ever done art classes? Have you done something recently that was outside your comfort zone or learned a new skill?
**This post is not sponsored. I just a delightful time, so wanted to recommend painting classes, and if you are in my local area, you know where you can go now!
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Nugget & Fang

Children tend to be fascinated with certain creatures – dinosaurs, monsters, robots, fairies etc. In our family this week it is sharks!

We received a gifted box of books from Scholastic this week. One of the big favourites from the selection has been “Nugget & Fang”. Fang is responsible for the Shark love happening in the house now. Which is totally understandable, because quite frankly, Fang is very loveable sort of shark. His best friend is a little minnow called Nugget. And if you think it’s an unlikely combination, the other minnows in the ocean and Nugget’s school teacher’s would agree with you.

After enjoying a wonderful friendship with Fang, Nugget is surprised to learn at school that he should not be friends with sharks. To be precise and quote the book, “Nugget was shocked. (And apparently delicious.)”  I love it when books that appeal to children have dialogue that is also appealing to an adult’s sense of humour also. Makes story reading a little less mind numbing! Do I hear an Amen? (Thankfully there is such a wide range of delightfully written books these days, so it’s generally easier to avoid the mind numbing episodes! 🙂 )

Oh, while I’m sharing my personal favourite parts of this book, let me also show you my favourite illustration. To get ahead of the story, Fang is devastated when Nugget accepts the status quo and avoids being friends with a shark. Fang unsuccessfully tries to prove he’s not scary. But the minnows gain respect for him after he rescues them from a fishing net. Although they were very surprised – staring in disbelief! *giggle* Don’t you just love their shocked wide open eyes?

This book has been very timely arriving in our house. With the start of school this week, Jonty has been adjusting to a new grouping of friends. My son finds forming new friendships tricky, and unfortunately his close friends are in the class next door. Which means he can still play with them at lunchtime, but at this age level, there is a certain mysterious dynamic which makes most children naturally hang out with kids from their own class.

“Nugget and Fang” was a lovely starting point to talk with him – and Trent, who next week will start Kindy, so he will be making new friends soon. This book introduced concepts of having fun together with friends, being aware of our friends feelings, and not accepting stereotypes.

This morning Trent asked if we could do some shark craft. I love it when reading inspires kids to do real life activities and to pursue further knowledge and learning. I found some lovely ideas on Pinterest, check out my board, Kids activities to keep kidlets busy, busy, busy. After being inspired by several cute designs, I thought I could utilise our own supply and make paper plate fish and make a box shark.

3 Minnows

The kids love doing craft and embraced the project enthusiastically.

Before long, it was obvious that I needed to step back and support their interest and enhance their learning by following their lead. The triplets saw the scissors, and were instantly captivated. They received some scissors for Christmas and love using them. Two years old is not too young to introduce scissors, although they do need specific teaching on safety behaviour.

So the fish were lovingly ‘fringed’ with lots of snips. Which is excellent for their fine motor skill development, not to mention a really useful skill to develop. When the triplet’s finished their fish, they continued doing paper plate collage, in full armour with a circular saw, of course. Well if one is going to get creative, you may as well go full hog!

And there was a lot more scissor work afterwards too.

The younger children decided themselves to colour in the centre of the fish plates. Even if it didn’t appear like it, they were making the connection with the book and their artwork, and referred to the book throughout the morning.

See Jayden pointing at “Fang”? So cute.

Trent embarked on the project to make a shark out of a box.

Can you see all the logical components of the shark? Fin on top, flippers on the side, the front is a blue mouth with top and bottom teeth. There’s also a tail stuck on the back. I’m so proud of his focus and concentration during this project.

I had cut a paper plate in half and showed him to cut little triangles to make sharp teeth. That turned out to be a little complex for him, but he still enjoyed manipulating the scissors and cut out a shape that he jubliantly declared as a mouth. I was about to offer my cutting, that decidedly looked more sharkish, when I remembered, that this was HIS creation, and it didn’t need to be perfect, and the process is more important than the outcome. In a world of Pinterest and picture perfect children’s activities, craft and parties, it is easy to forget this. I love Pinterest and almost die of cuteness overload some days when I’m on it. I’m not against helping your child to produce picture perfect things either,

just so long it’s not every.single.time and that your child is regularly allowed to be master of his or her creativeness. If there is a combination of parent led craft and child led craft, hopefully the child will gain techniques and ideas during the parent led craft that they can implement during their independently directed art – and play for that matter.

OK, rant over. (Although feel free to re-read the paragraph over again if you need to! Yes, I’m passionate about the topic!)

Fang the Shark as made by Trent.

So, I had a lovely time watching Trent create. We also introduced new words such as fin, tail and flippers. We examined the pictures in the book of what the shark looked like and then Trent would go and include it on his box shark. The only problem when he was finished was that he couldn’t play with it until the glue dried. That was a bummer But once it was all dry, he had a lovely time swimming it around the house.

After all that hard work, a picnic morning tea in a cubby house was very much enjoyed.

Do you find it hard or easy to give children free reign in creative projects?

Linking With Some Grace

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A Story About Triplets + Paint

So, as I have said before, Thursday morning is normally my opportunity to blog. So on Thursday morning the babies had got me up early, and all morning I was looking forward to putting them down for their morning nap and getting started!

Things did not go as planned.

Our current set up at the moment for sleeping triplets is their bedroom, where there are three cots. However,  we also have 2 port-a-cots set up in the lounge room and the playroom. This is because the babies often wake each other up or cannot settle down on their own.

Generally if one baby sees another baby is awake, no matter how tired they are, they will stand up and start squeeling and talking to one another until they get over tired and then start howling and crying and cannot settle down.

Take for instance this morning.

Fed Jayden and put him into bed where he fell instantly asleep.
Fed and put a sleepy Baby Toby in bed.
Fed Imogen, opened door slightly ajar, saw that Toby was very nearly almost asleep. When he saw me he didn’t move a muscle. I knew that means he was really close to dozing off. Little Imogen was almost asleep in my arms, so I crept in and put her to bed also. Crept out.

Turned on the computer.
But wait, what is it I hear? Surely not babies?

Of course it was babies, standing up, bouncing up and down and looking pumped.

Laid Jayden back down. Tucked him in. Took Imogen out of the room. Placed her in the playroom.

Sat down. Logged onto blogger.
Is that giggling I hear?
Toby upon losing his first playmate, woke up the second playmate.

Banished Toby to the lounge room.
Sat in front of the computer. Listened to Jayden having a breakdown because he felt that the 15 minutes he was asleep was a full nap.

Got him out of bed. But because he was still tired, he sat pulling at my legs crying.

Which woke up Imogen.

Who started wandering around crying because she too was tired.

Which woke up Toby.

I shut the computer.

I thought I would try to do a focussed activity to take their minds off the unfairness of life and give them some extra stimulation. I often don’t do the same amount of things I did with my singletons. I had no Trent at home, so I decided to just do a babies and Mummy activity. I remembered seeing on pinterest a zip lock bag of paint that was no mess and they would be able to swish and swirl the colours around. So I sat them in their highchairs and started filling bags with paint and taping them onto their highchair trays.

 They refused to let go of the toys that I had let them play with while they were waiting. If you are super Mum/Dad, you will automatically see my error.

And by the time I taped the last bag on, the first baby was crying already.

They weren’t very impressed with the whole brilliant paint in a bag scenario. They gave it a bit of a tap, but soon all three were crying again. Except while they were crying they started banging the toys. Who had sharp pointy tails. Can you see the problem?

So, little bits of paint started getting out and onto the toys. The real paint held their interest a bit more, so I threw caution to the wind and cut open the bags and let them do some finger painting for real.

This kept them quiet for a little while.

But not forever.

And then as they started crying, they began to rub their tired little eyes.

Oh yeah. You can see just how tired the little munchkin was.

While their hands were all covered in paint, I grabbed some paint and smeared hand prints onto a few pages. Some were better than others. There was babies crying and I’m grabbing hands and smacking them onto paper like a madwoman.

Then I plonked them all in the bath. It was hectic plus! Then when I was pulling them out, I didn’t have clothes ready I had naked babies running everywhere!

 Once the babies were clothed, I then had to deal with the highchairs. A lot of scrubbing was involved. Especially since I hadn’t used child friendly paint. (Since I thought it was going to be confined to a bag.) There’s still traces of paint…

Anyway, I was trying to write a blog post for Thankful Thursday over at We Heart Life. But in the end, I’m just thankful I survived the combination of paint and triplets!

Have you made any rash/foolish moves lately?

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Party Preparations

Hello if you follow me on facebook, (Click here to like my page!), you will have seen that packages are arriving and the excitement in the house at the moment is centred around the impending triple birthday on Sunday. That’s right, the triplets are turning one!

In fact today they received their very first first birthday cards and presents! Handmade patchwork owls made by Mrs T. onto shirts made in the triplet’s colours. Simply gorgeous!

And if you are crafty and would like a closer look, feel free to “Oooooh” and “Aaaaah”. I certainly did!

Clever lady, isn’t she? Thank you so much Mrs T!

Anyway, if I’m a little quiet at the moment, one of the reasons would be that I am in party preparing mode. I decided to keep the party small. Except I invited our family. Which is not small. And just added a few close friends. Now we’ve got an attendance list of 20 adults and 16 kids. (And the kids are only from four families! Mine included.)

Why is it that even though you know an event is coming up, my preparations are always left until the last minute? I’ve been so tired lately that I’ve been procrastinating doing anything and choosing to go to bed. Which has been wise. Except it always means that at this rate I’m going to end up really tired on party day. I think this has happened every time my child has had a birthday. I could say that I will go to bed on time the next three nights to prevent that. But I know I won’t. I’ve had two post midnight nights the past couple of nights, so maybe I should retire very soon tonight. After all, after three nights, I’ve finished a project.

Meet my owl army.

They are actually bean bags to giveaway to the children as favours. I really dislike filling loot bags with cheap Chinese plastic toys that every mother is just waiting for an opportunity to throw out. It is true the children do enjoy them, so I have been known to buy them, however, I try to be a bit creative normally when it comes to party favours. I thought these little guys were cute when I found them here. Already my boys have had lots of fun throwing and catching the prototype I made.

So, owl favours are now complete. I still have to make all food, do the grocery shopping for all food, make some party decorations, make part two of the party favours, wrap the pass the parcel, make the food and make three birthday cakes. Sheesh! And all during the school holidays, so I am constantly being interrupted! And I have another party to go to on Saturday, so last minute preps will be somewhat inhibited. Somehow it always does come together on the day. Fingers crossed this is no different!

I’ll look forward to sharing more about their birthday next week with you.

When you plan parties and events, are you a last minute organiser or do you get planned well in advance?

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A New Year Non-Resolution

In my early 20’s I was big on New Years Resolutions. I would write out detailed and comprehensive lists that would cover every aspect of my life from university, home life, love life and spiritual life. I would then forget about them by February and then towards the end of the year reflect on the fact that I didn’t achieve many of my resolutions. So my New Year Year’s resolution became to stop making resolutions.

Sadly, I broke that resolution as well.

I soon realised that it’s perfectly healthy to contemplate the New Year. In fact it’s beneficial. It is necessary for the development of our character to be in a constant process of identifying areas that we can improve. One of the reasons I don’t like labelling a “New Years Resolution” is that in fact it shouldn’t be just at New Year that we are making goals to achieve. In reality, it’s a year long process, and when we see that our original goal was unachievable, instead of abandoning it, we should be readjusting it. Success is a step by step process.

But there is just something about the New Year that energises you to become better. There is a feeling of optimism and the feeling that this year the world is able to be conquered. Why not take that renewed feeling of resolve to propel you into the year?

I read some New Year Resolutions recently on a favourite blog of mine. (See here) It inspired me to write this post. There is something about making your inner resolve public to give you a bit more motivation to not slack off.

I’m still not making New Years Resolutions though.

But here’s my New Year Ambitions

1. Watch Less TV.
I love TV. There’s just something so relaxing about blobbing out in front of the couch each night. Normally with the lap top these days. The Accountant, with his male frame of reference, can’t understand how I can cruise the Internet at the same time as watching the telly. But being female I do, and it brings me great satisfaction.

It also wastes time.

So, I am thinking if I can tape what I want to watch and save them to watch without ads only a few times a week, I should have more time to blog, and not just read blogs, write my magazine articles instead of procrastinating or ‘researching’ (essentially the same thing as procrastinating when done in front of the TV.) More time to tidy up. I haven’t made this confession on my blog yet, but I’m an awful housewife. Housework does not come naturally to me. More of that later…maybe.

2. Make Things

I often observe that many stay at home Mum’s reach the pinnacle of their craftiness. (And that’s not just being able to outwit small children.) The advantage of doing some crafts now is that your eyesight is a lot better then if you save it to do it all when you are retired. Plus there are gazillions of cute things to make for kids.

I told The Accountant about this plan. You’d think he’d be happy. It should save lots of money. Instead he scoffed. He has no faith in me and made reference to previous unfinished projects and claims in the long run it costs rather than saves money.

He does have point. So if I can make two things, I’ve achieved my ambition of make things (plural).

So, when I do watch TV, I’m going to turn the Internet off and continue with a forsaken project: the granny squares.

My mother always used to crochet as we grew up. My 3 siblings and I all had crocheted blankets on our beds, as well as on Mum’s, the spare room, and then she started making them for family friends and babies.

A few years ago I decided I should learn the skill. It was a lot easier than I thought. Mum always had said she did it because it was easy. Crocheting seems so much more impressive before you learn. I’m still impressed with Mum’s handiwork though. She’s made some gorgeous blankets over the year in great colour combos. Plus she is a bit more advanced then just granny squares. I crocheted a blanket for my mother-in-law for Christmas in 2008.

In 2010 I decided to make a blanket for the J Bomb’s bed. Unfortunately the project stalled when I hit a busy patch with my casual job. When I got less busy, I discovered I lost my crochet hook. I searched and searched to no avail, so pushed the project aside and I’ve kind of forgotten about it. So that would have to be on the to-do list this year. Thankfully I found the hook during a Christmas tidy up. Currently I’ve done 38 granny squares. I figure I’m going to need 99, so I’ve still a bit to go yet. Primary colours is the colour scheme and I’m planning to do a black border. 
I’ve also got a little project underway at the moment for my nephew’s birthday. I’ll blog about it if it’s worthy! (And completed)
3. Journal More
This is an ambition to help foster my spiritual life.
I love journalling, but I’ve slacked off the last few years and journalling has become very sporadic. I went through a period where I did it every time I read the Bible, but I found that sometimes I didn’t read the Bible just because I didn’t have time to journal. (Especially since I became a Mum.) So I eased up on myself and thought it was better to at least read the Bible even if I didn’t write down how God was speaking to me. I suppose you just get out of the habit, so I’d like to get a bit better with that again. I find it can sometimes help arrange my thoughts more clearly when I journal.
Our pastor had a brilliant message on Sunday at church about instead making a resolution to “read the Bible more” you should “read the Bible better”. I will definitely be applying some of his suggestions into my Bible reading as I journal too.
4. Use Stuff Up
I keep getting smelly stuff (nice smells!)as gifts, which is fine, I love smelly stuff, particularly body wash and body moisturiser! I L-O-V-E the feel of mosituriser and how soft your skin is afterwards, plus the scent seems to linger longer on body with matching body wash and moisturiser. Good quality perfume is also a favourite of mine.
However, I keep on using the brands I like, and the brands I’m not as fond as keep getting put aside. Take exhibit A.

I think my Nana gave this deodorant to me when I was 15. That’s over half a lifetime ago. (My lifetime to date that is…) I should add that I have used up many deodorants since I was 15, and this one smells nice, but I’m not in love with it, and I’m not the hugest fan of roll ons. Which is a shame, because I keep getting them as gifts. (Do you think I should be concerned I keep getting given deodorant?) I’ve got a huge stockpile that I really need to work through. No buying aerosols, sticks or crystals this year unless I use up the 6 roll ons! Probably won’t happen, (using them all up) I’m not a huge deodorant user. I just don’t get that bad with underarm odour except in the middle of summer. Although, maybe I’m smellier than I think. Maybe that’s why I keep given new ones? Sobering thought.

I’ve also got a lot of powder to use up.

Anyone made up some resolutions of have ambitions they like to share? Or is there anyone else out there with a stockpile of unused goods in your bathroom cupboard? (Please tell me I’m not the only one!)
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