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Joyful Birthday

Joyful Birthday


It has been a while since my birthday, but that doesn’t mean it got forgotten!  On the contrary, lots of you did really nice things to make it special.


I won’t run the risk of offending anyone by listing all the wonderfulness, since I would be sure to leave something out and then you would be sad.  Instead, I’ll just share the artwork each of my kids made for me, since you probably read this blog to find out about them rather than me anyway!


Katya drew this picture of us together, featuring each of us dressed in our favorite colors.  I wish I were really that skinny.  Ok, maybe not quite THAT skinny, but still…


Nathan gave me this piece of artwork he had made.  It started with a doodle that turned out to be the creepy-looking hand, and then expanded there to become a cool reflection of God’s intervention on our behalf to keep us from Satan’s desire to steal and destroy.  Here’s what he wrote on the back…

“Mommy, I thank you for reaching out to me like God reaches out to us.  I hope you have a wonderful birthday and you can have the strength to keep reaching out.  Love, Nathan.”

Somewhere out there are people who really don’t like birthdays, but I’m fortunate to not be one of them.  Happy day!

Pinterest Projects

Pinterest Projects

Here’s round-up #1 of some of the fun projects we’ve done this summer.


Ice Cream Art with Real Sprinkles!

This turned out really cute, and it was fun to see the different ways each person customized the original idea.  Using real sprinkles was fun (instead of glitter).  Maybe I will make a smaller version for the front of a birthday card someday…  The downside?  Sprinkles bleed a little in the glue, and now they occasionally fall off the artwork and roll all over the floor.  (And no, I don’t require kids to dress up for crafting–the kids were playing butler and queen before we did the project above, hence the unusual artist attire…)

A great deal on tape from Sam’s Club put me on the hunt for duck tape crafts.  Our best use so far was covering the fronts of our summer journals.  On a different afternoon, we tried using the tape for various boats.  We tested out Sponge and Duct Tape Boats and Origami Duct Tape Boats.  The sponge ones floated better and are cuter, but the origami ones required less in the way of additional equipment.



I got some liquid watercolor paints for us this summer and we have used them in lots of ways.  My favorite is painting this modern house kit that we got from Target.  It turned out really cool and I had fun doing the project with the kids.


We have also used our paint for Crumpled Paper Art, traditional watercolor resist painting (painting over white crayon drawings), rubber cement resist, even shooting watercolor at paper using little pipettes.  Katya displays her favorites as an art gallery on her bedroom door.


Katya and I had a fun morning creating Ladybug Rocks which are now hiding in my garden.  We didn’t follow the instructions exactly, but ours turned out great.  It is so fun to find them peeking out of the garden wall around the patio!



In the “mommy only crafts” department, I worked with my new Sharpies (thanks, mom) to create these cool Kaleidocycle paper toys.  They are kind of mesmerizing to play with, although they did take a long time to color.

Wow, that’s a longer list than I thought!  I have a few more projects to share–some that worked, and some that really didn’t, so I guess I’ll make one more post.  Hooray for summertime crafts (and for actually DOING some of the things I so abundantly PIN!)


Summer Crafts

Summer Crafts

Why do I take pictures of my kids doing craft projects?  Who knows!  I’m not dedicated enough to photograph each step of the process and post good DIY instructions like so many of the blogs I read, and I sometimes I feel annoyed and inadequate when reading other moms’ glowing reports of their brilliant ideas, but here I am doing that anyway.  Sorry, and remember that certainly not every day is like this, nor does every idea turn out!!!

Disclaimer aside, here are some of the things I enjoyed doing at home with my kids this summer…


Baking-soda vinegar volcanoes in the garden


Beanbags in the basement


Circle prints on the back porch


Our circle prints colored in with markers, colored pencils, and watercolors.  Eventually we turned them into notecards!


Sun prints, an activity I remember from my childhood (thanks, Bonzo, for sending the special paper all those years ago!  I found more at a toy store this spring and knew we should try it out.)


The sun prints eventually became notecards too, my favorite way to enjoy but use up cool kid art.

Of course I had tons of other fun things planned as well.  Most of them didn’t ever happen because we were busy with who knows what else.  Some of them we tried but didn’t photograph, some of them were really not as fun as they looked, and a TON more never made it off of a Pinterest idea board.  Oh well, I’ll take the creativity however it comes and all of those things are part of the process too!

Here are links to many of the things we did, in case you want to try any…

Popsicle Stick Harmonica

Summer Reading Board Game (with a Dollar Store prize for each one completed)

Lego Board Game

Laminated Photo Faces (good on our car trip, I just used black and white 4×6 family photos)

PomPom Fairies (adorable, even if they weren’t very durable)

Melted Bead Hair Clips (Katya wears one almost every day to school)

Circle Paintings

Canvas Art (this was one of my favorites)


Nathan’s Chihuly

Nathan’s Chihuly

Here is a glimpse of what captured Nathan’s camera eye on one of our visits to the Chihuly glass exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  I think it is interesting to see what he chose, and I guess at some point we might need to give him the gift of a better resolution camera!















Nature and Glass

Nature and Glass


This summer and fall, Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting the Chihuly glass exhibit.  Having seen these amazing colorful blown-glass sculptures on a visit to St. Louis, we were excited to welcome them here to Denver.  Thanks to our gift membership we were able to visit on the very first day, and were far from disappointed.


The striking colors, textures, and forms of this exhibit are some of the most compelling art I have experienced.  The glass looks so startling and so at home all at once.



We have visited once more since that initial day, and look forward to going back as many times as we can to appreciate this unique expression of creativity and beauty.


I will look forward to sharing more of Than’s photos in upcoming “Random Quotes” posts.



To think what God can put in the minds and hearts of people, and what a dim reflection that is of his boundless imagination!


Pinterest Post 4

Pinterest Post 4

One more Pinterest Project Post left over from summer.  It is way more fun to look at photos of my kids doing projects than to look at photos of me prepping dinner or working on my music teaching lesson plans, so enjoy it while you can 🙂

Here they are making tissue paper Sun Catchers.  Hooray for my vinyl machine–the photo I linked to had different instructions, but I used black vinyl stuck on clear transfer tape.  The project was easy for both ages, enjoyable for both, simple to explain and do.  I’m not sure what happened to Nathan’s, but Katya’s is hanging in her window and looks very pretty with the sun shining through.



I think I might have done salt paintings with Nathan once before, but we did them again anyway.  This is one of those projects that is much more about the process than about the product.  As the instructions warned, the salt starts flaking off as the glue dries but watching the watercolor paints creep along the salt lines was fun.


Our final project of the summer was making colored salt jars.  This one was super messy, so I’m glad I didn’t do it inside!  It was surprising how quickly the sidewalk chalk colored the salt and the end results were pretty.  Neither kid mastered the art of pouring salt into the jars, so maybe we will do it again in a year or two when they can experiment more with making hills or designs.



And there you have it–a smattering of Pinterest projects from our fun summer.  I will definitely be looking forward to next year’s plan!

Pinterest Post 3

Pinterest Post 3

I am still getting adjusted to what life looks like with two kids in school, but I can already tell you that there are a lot less things to take pictures of!  Instead of photographing myself doing laundry or answering e-mails, I’ll post some more Pinterest projects from this summer.  Surely that will be more interesting!

This first one we did near the middle of the summer, and it provided amusement for over a week, off and on.  Our DIY “Lava Lamps” were easy to make and fun to demonstrate for people who came over.  The fizzy reaction was short lived, but very entertaining, and we did a little experimenting with different colors and container shapes.



Another well-received project was Kool-Aid Taffy.  I didn’t time things the best, since we ended up making it only an hour before dinner guests arrived so I was crazily wrapping taffy, trying to get it off the counter while I made dinner, but the kids had fun choosing their Kool-Aid colors, buttering their hands, and pulling… pulling… pulling.  The flavor was pretty good, too–a lot like Laffy Taffy, but much stickier.  We would do this again, especially with some friends around to help pull!



As part of my birthday celebration, I chose to do two different fabric art projects with the kids.  I had been looking forward to these ever since I pinned them, and was pleasantly surprised that both batik-type projects worked as well as they did.  The Rainbow Batik project took a VERY long time–lots of waiting for things to dry, and washing out the glue lines was work only mommy had the patience for, but the results were very good looking.  The Acrylic Sun Prints were easier and more fun to make, and the results were also quite pretty.  I would definitely make them again.  Once all our fabric art was done, I backed all the squares with a solid fabric to turn them into napkins or liners for bread baskets.


Hooray for more Pinterest projects!

Katya Art

Katya Art

A few more Katya art samples, since she produces them at a very rapid pace…

A drawing from several months ago showing Katya (in the center) at her own wedding, marrying Bert from Mary Poppins and with the best man (who was nameless) also in attendance.

The current favorite item to draw, a rainbow princess.  (The colorful jagged things at the top are chandeliers).

A still life–she laid out the stuffed animals (the ones that are pictured here in her lap) and managed to draw them pretty well!

It is fun to watch her concentrate and develop her skills, and I even get the fun of pulling out the crayons myself sometimes!

Contest Results

Contest Results

Surprisingly enough, none of the loyal participants in the “Guess the Family Artist” contest got it all correct.  The answers are as follows…

Than (most of you guessed that one right!)

Nathan (this was the big trick–Nathan painted the dog, not Katya, for once!!)

Katya (my free-spirit was very patterned this time!)

Michelle (everyone got this one right–congratulations!)

Thanks for playing!  Perhaps someday I will actually have a contest with a prize, since that seems to be the thing in the blogging world.  I guess before I can do that I need a fabulous sponsor to donate something…  Anybody want to win an end-of-the-summer zucchini?!!