Journal Finished!

Just had to tell you that writing all this stuff in my journal about Max filled up the rest of my pages and tomorrow I get to start a NEW journal!

…A Day to Forget

I was so glad when I woke up this morning to find myself at the beginning of a new day that I actually thanked God for making our days only 24 hours. All this because yesterday was one of the most trying days ever with Max. He’s two. He usually has great days and is in good spirits most of the time…but yesterday…yikes!

Before I start my story – I want to tell you that I don’t mean to compare the trivial things that I dealt with yesterday to the horrible and tragic situations that many people go through everyday…I am not that insensitive and naive…but can I just blow this one thing out of proportion and make as big of a deal as it felt at the moment?

Yesterday was Sunday and Sunday mornings are difficult for me anyway. I teach sunday school at our church and I have to get all the kids up, cleaned up, fed, dressed and out the door by myself by 9:15. (Sam leaves for church early) Some days it is as smooth as butter, others feel like I am caught in a chaotic whirlwind of arguing, fighting and nagging. Yesterday started out rough, Savannah got a spanking and nobody seemed to be moving as fast as I thought we needed to. (I totally take the blame for a huge lack of patience as well). We got to church on time, but due to our rough morning I was seriously thinking of going home after sunday school because I didn’t want to be there.

I stayed anyway…after church there was a dinner we attended. The tables were decorated with red and white balloons which proved to be very attractive to my kids. We headed home accompanied by six balloons. The boys fell asleep on the way ( I knew they would) so when we got home it was my mission to get them into bed so they could continue their naps. (Time: approx. 1:40) Max was still clutching his balloon strings in his hand when I got him out of the carseat and by the time we got in the house he was awake enough to inform me that he was not giving them up. Rather than be firm and insist the balloons stay out of the room, I gave in hoping that he was tired enough to just fall back asleep. BIG MISTAKE! Karson went right to sleep – or maybe never woke up and after Max was tucked in bed (with the balloons dangling over his bed) I closed the door and made a dash for my bed. Crawled in and fell asleep in an instant.

Around 2:30 I was awakened by a strange bump-bump that I couldn’t quite understand. Then thinking I heard Max, I went out into the landing and saw Max and his balloons bump-bumping down the stairs, and then Karson started crying. Max was distracted by the balloons and I assume he never actually went to sleep. I tried to get Karson back to sleep. He cried for a half hour and then I went and got him up as well.

OK. It’s 3:00 and all the kids are awake. They usually sleep until at least four. Max’s afternoon was one battle after another. Throwing tantrums and crying, so by 4:30 I decided he needed to just go back up to his room. I didn’t really care if he slept at that point, I just wanted some peace! When dinner was ready we got him up and he cried because he wanted to sleep. When he came downstairs he cried because he wanted bubble gum balls instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had been planning to take the kids to the grocery store later and it was about at this point that I decided that we could not possibly attempt our shopping trip with Max acting this way. I should have stuck to this, but within an hour he snapped out of it and was acting very pleasant, ate his dinner and was playing.

About 6:30, the temptation to kill some time at the store became too great and we got ready to go. We went to Walmart and Max had his first meltdown at the bottle returns. He couldn’t put the bottles in as fast as Savannah so he got mad. I tried to distract him throughout the store, once we were shopping, with “let’s go find some Goldfish” or asking him to pick which box of yogurt to buy. It worked until we got to the canned fruit and vegetables aisle. Max found jello that he absolutely thought I must have in my cart. When I refused and placed it back on the shelf he fell to the ground crying, thrashing about. I tried everything – nothing worked. He really needed to be disciplined for acting this way and being defiant to me, but I am so hesitant about doing that kind of thing in public places because you never know how people will interpret things.

So anyway, I tried to start walking away which usually works – except this time. We went around the end of the aisle and he was still laying there. I peeked around the corner to see if he was following us – no way. When other customers started to head down the aisle, I just went and picked him up, kicking, and plopped him in the seat with Karson – feet hanging out, and now Karson was screaming. I had to get out of there, and I was practically racing to the front of the store to reach the check out. I ordered Savannah to start loading the groceries on the conveyor thing and Max wanted to help. But he was no help. He got a hold on his Shrek Gogurts and wouldn’t give them up. Down on the floor he went, in the middle of the lane. I tried, to no avail, to convice the cashier that my son was just having a bad day and my kids are not normally like this, but she seriously just looked at me like, “yeah, whatever…I know what kind of mother you are.”

I was so embarrased to be seen with my kid so out of control and thought back to all those times I have seen mothers with their kids in a store and wondered what was wrong with them and why can’t they control their kids. So there I was. I wrote my check and got the hell out of there. I love my son to death, but days like this drain all the energy from me. I am so glad they only happen once in a while and I am praying that the next time God thinks I need a challenge like this, He will help me have more patience than I did yesterday.

I don’t really have an image to post with this story, but here is Max having one of his meltdowns – Sunday after church, getting our picture taken for new ID tags for the kids…I am sure you can understand why we didn’t take the time to try to get a decent picture. But now we all have to wear this horrible picture every Sunday!

Illustration Friday – only 5 days late


This is from a photo of Sam when he was about Karson’s age. I assume he had just eaten a cake or something. His tray had been cleared…but his parents couldn’t resist taking a picture of the results of his glorious feast which he no doubt enjoyed thoroughly!

I also recently tried some acrylic paint on a couple of pages in my journal. Here are the results. The wooden manikin was drawn with a Sharpie and colored with construction paper crayons (by Crayola). The flower image was carved into the wet paint with the end of my paintbrush and then (when dry) outlined with a Sharpie.

The Results of the Value Self Portrait Project

I have been wanting to get some of these paintings scanned. I did this project with my fifth graders. It took a while…and some of them are still not done…but they turned out so great! I am very proud and we have received so many positive comments from other staff members while they were on display at school. Everybody asks how they did it. So here is the explanation in case you may be interested. By the way, they are fun to do even if you aren’t a fifth grader.

I took digital pictures – close up – of each of my students…no flash.

I took the pictures into Adobe Photoshop 7 and cropped (if needed) adjusted to grayscale, increased the contrast, and applied the “poster edges” effect. Settings for this filter were “Edge Thickness” = 0, “Edge Intensity” = 0, and “Posterization” = 2. Generally, if you do this effect and intend to reproduce the image the way we did, it is best to have as few details as possible – thus the reason for the close-up. And I adjusted the size of the image.

I printed each student’s picture on my laser printer…a full 8.5 x 11 page. (See image above)

With the students, I taught a lesson on value. We did value scales. They were allowed one color (blue, green, purple or red) and white. I demonstrated the process of mixing the paint to get the different steps in the value scale. They cut out the boxes (that they painted the values in) and arranged them in order, gluing them into their sketchbooks.

We began the painting by placing the computer printout on top of a piece of carbon paper, which I picked up at Office Depot, under which layed the paper they would do their painting on. Carefully tracing the contours of every shape, they transfered an outline drawing of the printout image onto their paper.

The students began by painting all the white areas first, then painted anything that was a black value with their color – no mixing. Then starting with the lightest value, they mixed and painted those areas, then mixed the next value and painted and so on…sort of like paint by number, but they had to match the values to their “grayscale” picture. We “blacked” out the background, making it the solid color of the color they chose to use.

I feel like the kids really grasped the concept of value through the process of doing this project. However, it was very difficult for some as it required planning and patience. Some of the kids left values out or mixed up the values, but overall, I think they produced some stunning results. What do you think?

I am not sure I will do this project again…maybe I will keep it in the archives for the years when I know the fifth graders can handle it. My reservations are the result of the reactions of only a few students. But in all my time of teaching art classes, I have never encountered so much resistance on a project as this one. It may have just been the group of kids I have THIS year, but I heard comments like “This is the stupidest project we’ve ever done…I’m not doing it…Why can’t we do something fun…This is boring…This sucks…” It’s always hard to hear those things from any student, no matter who it is…and I generally try hard not to take it personally, but I have to say that I felt really discouraged as a result. I really don’t know how I could have presented it differently to better motivate the students. I really believed in this project, and it was so hard to convince them. I think the kids that finished were pleasantly surprised at the results of their efforts, and I am glad those kids have a fabulous painting to be proud of…because they deserve it!