A New Goal

If only you knew what is in store for you! I know I’ve been quiet on my end for a while, but rest assured, big things are heading your way soon! We have been busy busy around the house and hopefully this weekend will see our major project finished up and ready to be shown off. In the meantime, I’ll tell you about a new goal Ryan and I dreamed up.

It is a blessing in our marriage, when all children are over the age of 6 months, that we get a few hours to spend together in the evening. It is a cruel reality, however, that these hours come at the end of long days which have taken our energy and mental capacities away from us, leaving us tired empty shells waiting for sleep.

This is when we watch tv.

We have a few tv shows that we have discovered and watch together such as The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Firefly and Avatar: The Last Airbender. These are great shows and we enjoy re-watching them through the magic of Netflix and DVD’s. However, recently, during our second viewing of The West Wing, Ryan thought it would be nice to shake things up and find a movie to watch.

 

 

He found an old book I have from Blockbuster of all places. It is a summery of Oscar winning movies (Best Movie, Lead Actor\Actress, Screenplay) from the years 1927-1989. It also has some unused coupons in the back for free rentals which expired in 1990. This inspired Ryan to find movies and fill in the gaps of our classic movie knowledge. After some discussion, this inspiration turned into a goal of watching all of The American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Films of All Time (minus The Silence of the Lambs, because, hell no). We’ve seen a number of them and we haven’t discussed if we are planning on re-watching one’s we’ve already seen. I was upfront in saying my soul cannot bear to watch Sophie’s Choice again.

We’ll see how long it lasts, but so far it’s been fun. We’ve watched The Jazz Singer and Duck Soup for the first time. Both were fairly new experiences for us. We’ve both watched silent films before, but The Jazz Singer was very unique. Apart from the story, it was fascinating to see this gem from movie history — a little bit of talking, a lot of singing and mostly silent dialogue. We both agreed the silent film aspect, writing dialogue in separately, was refreshing. You watch the scene, the action and body language tell you most of the story. The written dialogue doesn’t tell you every word the characters said, but rather, just what you need to know. It was refreshing.

We watched Duck Soup last night. This was the first time either of us watched a Marx brothers movie. To be honest, I’m still absorbing it.  It was certainly an experience. I felt as though it exemplifies the transition entertainment made from stage to screen very well. So many early comedy movies were film versions of popular Vaudville acts. A quick internet search tells me that the Marx brothers indeed started on Vaudville.  That feel was certainly transferred to the movie.

I’m not sure what’s next on the list for us, but Ryan’s already put a few on hold at the library. I’ll keep you updated as our movie knowledge grows and just for kicks, I’ll leave you with the hilarious Lucille Ball \ Harpo Marx clip

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Stenciled Picture Frames

I stenciled! I’m a stenciler! It wasn’t that hard, I just let the stencil do all the work.

I admit to staring at the blank walls of my foyer daydreaming of three quarter’s high board and batten meeting a regal yet contemporary geometric print stenciled on the wall. I’ve read tutorials, tips and even product reviews, but ultimately I’ve always been intimidated by the whole prospect. Maybe I’m spending too much time staring at blank walls?

Finally I decided I ought to at least try. Don’t worry, I didn’t just start stenciling a wall. As I’ve mentioned, we have some fun projects coming up in our kitchen soon and I decided I’d like to make a collage wall the corner between the doorways to the living and dining rooms.  To begin, I bought two balsa wood 11×14 frames and stencil materials. Then I jumped right in.

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I feel as though stenciling is a crafter milestone. Or maybe that’s just me being overly proud of myself. It took me a week or so to finish them, but that’s because I could only work at strategic times. The frames didn’t turn out perfect, but I learned quite a bit:

First, I misunderstood my stencil and thought the first color I used would be the prominent color. Nope. What I had hoped would be a grey design with yellow outlines, was the opposite. It turned out fine, because what I thought was flat  grey paint was actually silver metallic paint and I prefer the yellow anyway. C’est la vie.

Second, geometric prints are pretty user friendly and certainly not as complicated as they could be. That is, unless you’re covering something like a picture frame and the pattern has to match up in the end. The first frame I did, I jumped in feet first and wasn’t surprised when I got to the last panel and it didn’t match where I had started. The second time though, I was really careful and purposeful but still managed to not line up. I kind of meshed it together in a way that I don’t think is super obvious but I was still sad.

Third, and I’m not sure how I’d fix this in the future, I didn’t get an even coat with the yellow. Some parts are darker than others. As I was painting I tried to use the same amount of paint and keep an even coverage, but it didn’t work out that way.

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Fourth, my top color didn’t cover as well as I had hoped. To be fair, the grey paint wasn’t what I thought it would be and ended up being much darker than originally expected. I was hoping for a bright yellow, but when it was all said and done, the yellow is much more muted. All in all I think that will actually be better because the pattern makes for a pretty busy frame, and having two large busy pattern frames on a somewhat small wall may have been overwhelming if the paint was also bright.

Then again, maybe I’m just talking myself out of painting over the whole thing and starting over. I have picture hanger kits to use for both frames and I’m ordering prints of pictures I want to put in. I also have to figure out how I’m going to actually get the pictures in there…but that’s next week’s problem. Right now, I’m super proud of my frames and my first attempt at stenciling. After our kitchen project is done, I’m going to hang up the frames then take my time building a collage around them. So if you start seeing a bunch of collage wall pins on my Pinterest boards, you’ll know why.

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Spring Toddler Crafts

We enjoy changing our home with the seasons, both weather and liturgical. I can’t lie, I needed some time to recover from Christmas. I dug deep to put together our St. Joseph’s Altar and Gender Reveal, but I’ve been pretty burnt out since. Unfortunately, Evangeline’s energy levels went up as mine went down.

So for the past two weeks, she and I have been working on Spring crafts to help fill our days and spend some energy. Felicity was able to help with most of these as well. In looking for ideas online, however, I’ve had to be careful to pick spring crafts and not Easter ones. As my husband insists, it’s not Easter yet. So be it.

On a sort of whim, I started displaying our crafts on a blank wall in our dinning room. Who am I kidding, all of our walls are blank in the dinning room. The gallery has grown and I’m already thinking of what we can do for summer. Without further adieu, our Spring toddler craft gallery wall, thus far:

Spring Gallery Wall II

Spring Gallery Wall

 

The walls in our dining room are ugly. They are bare, peach color voids that make you feel as though all the happiness has gone out of the world. It has been glorious to add more color to our wall every few days!  Evangeline and Felicity get so excited to show Ryan what new things we did we he gets home each day.

I’m starting to get ideas to do during Holy Week and after Easter Sunday. I’ve been hoping to find craft ideas for Holy Week so each day we could read part of the story then do a craft to go along with it. Unfortunately, all the ideas I’ve come across so far are for older kids. I’m going to keep searching. Send me any ideas you have!

Tissue Paper Butterflies

These are our most recent addition. I could have done them for free, except I saw that cute polka dot paper at the store and splurged the $1.50.  We cut tissue paper into roughly 12 inch x 8 inch rectangles. Honestly, I just cut along the folds in the paper. The we layered three sheets on top of one another and pinched them together down the middle. A clothes pin holds it all together, and voila, a butterfly!  Evie drew faces on each of them and I used fishing line to hang them from the ceiling.  I meant to add pipe cleaner antenna, but forgot. Maybe we’ll come back and add them. All you would do is bend a piece of pipe cleaner into a V, bend or tie off the tips to make a ball then clamp it with the clothes pin. We have a ceiling fan right next to this wall, so the butterflies get to flutter around all day.

Handprints

At Christmas time, JoAnn had a super sale on packs of canvases. I bought a 10 pack of 8×10’s and I could not be happier that I did. I’ve used them to mount pictures and for hand print art! I even have some wall decor ideas for Reuben’s room I’m going to use them for. Evangeline liked doing the hand prints best because I let her look through Pinterest with me and help pick out which ones we were going to make. Plus, she got to paint.

The butterflies I did two Christmases ago with Evangeline and Felicity’s feet– I was making it for a gift and messed up so I kept it for myself ;). The other three we made this year: Evangeline’s hand for the Very Hungry Caterpillar (don’t paint their thumb!), Reuben and Felicity’s feet for the bumble bee and lady bug (draw in the black parts after they dry, I didn’t want to use black paint in fear that it wouldn’t easily come off their little feet) and finally all three of their hands for the flowers. Reuben did better with feet prints than hand prints ha ha.

I like doing these on the canvases rather than on construction paper because I plan to keep them and bring them out again each year. Now that they are completely dry, I will seal them all with ModPodge to further help them last. I am still deciding if I should color in around the flowers more or just leave them on a white back ground.

For the “Spring” banner, I used poster board and cut out the pendants, then wrote in the letters and colored the green on the bottom. I let the girls loose with crayons to fill in the rest, then taped them to a piece of scrap ribbon I had. I had a lot of other ideas for this, but went the simplest route. Maybe for summer or fall when Evie’s practicing writing, she can write the letters, or let them use finger paints to really have fun.

So that’s what we’ve been up to over here when we’re not soaking up as much sunshine as possible. I’m really hoping to keep this up and change it out each season. It seems like a fun way to introduce art to the kids as well as learning about the seasons and holidays.

Just another week to get my “lesson plans” ready for Holy Week! Do you have any traditions you do with your kids to teach them about Easter?

First Quarter Book Report — An Ode to the Audiobook

Well, we’re three months past the new year, time for a reading goal update. There’s just no way to sugar coat it, I’m not doing so well. I started off strong, but as Ryan’s vacation days grew further and further apart and as baby Genevieve started taking more and more of my brain power, I’m barely left the wherewithal to read the cooking instructions on frozen pizza.

Of course the greatest irony of being both pregnant and a parent to small children is that I spend all day tired but can’t sleep at night. I try not to watch movies or be on the computer late because it seems to keep me up longer, but I rarely have the energy or focus to read anymore. The last four books I’ve “read” were audiobooks. They’ve been a great solution to the problem of wanting to read but not having the mental energy to do so. And I have to say, it’s the most peaceful way to fall asleep. Thank goodness for  the sleep timer.

The downside, however, is that I am cheap and don’t want to pay for each audiobook I read. I have an Overdrive account set up through my local library which I enjoy and they indeed have a wide selection. Unfortunately, I can’t always find specific books I’m looking for, and unlike print books, I can’t request inner-library loans. To make the search selection slimmer, I’ve only really been able to handle listening to fiction. While I enjoy reading non-fiction, I have a harder time consuming them via audiobook. Maybe I just need to keep trying.

On to the actual report. To date, I’ve read 8 books, only one of which is on my Southern to-read list for the year, Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor.  I just found Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find (and other stories) and The Moviegoer by Walker Percy on audiobook, so I should be able to check those off my list soon.

I have read one non-fiction, Get Me Out: A History of Birth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank  by Randi Hunter Epstein. I thoroughly enjoyed this cursory overview and was tickled to see the Wertzes in her bibliography. It was gratifying to come across information with which I was already familiar while also expanding my understanding and learning new opinions. I am still very much interested in birth history and hope to keep adding to my book repertoire after my pregnancy brain lets up a little — oh sweet irony. It has also given me a lot to think about in regards to what is considered a woman’s “right”. Maybe I’ll post more on that when I’m ready to poke a hornets nest.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep on keeping on with my audiobooks and hope my brain hasn’t turn to complete mush by the time I have a new newborn. We’ll see!