Getting Creative

I have been in such a creative mood lately! I have really worked hard at doing something “artsy” every day and I have managed to succeed on most days.  I have been drawing, painting, cutting and gluing and it has been so fun.  My creative ideas have been flowing so much.  I have even been working on my curriculum plan for my classes next year. I have been tweaking my lessons and revising some things and I am really excited about the new school year.  Aside from school I have been doing art just for me.  I think this is so important for an art teacher and something art teachers often overlook.  When you have drawn and painted with kids all day long sometimes it is difficult to motivate yourself to do your own artwork and to improve your own skills.  This is part of why summer breaks are so important for teachers.

I just wrapped up 4 1/2 days of prefessional development where I got to learn and make about 6 different 3D projects and about 8 multi-cultural art projects.  Today I went to a photography workshop where I picked up quite a few tips and tricks I didn’t know.

Right now I am also involved in a Traveling Art Journal Swap.  The swap consists of about 22 people from the US and Canada.  We each pick a theme and make the first few pages of our own art journal.  We then mail the journal in round-robin fashion and each respective person adds a few pages to the journal until it eventually makes its way back to me in about a year.  The swap is being hosted by some of the members of the Facebook group associated with A Year in the Life of an Art Journal.  I have chosen ‘Nature’ as my theme.  This means everyone who works in my journal make pages to do with nature.  As I receive journals I will be expected to work in it’s owners chosen theme.  I mailed my book off to a participant in Fort Smith, AR today.  I should be getting a book from a girl in Albuquerque, NM any day now.  Before I mailed off my book I completed a title page and two additional pages.  Here they are:




















I also have several other projects I am working on right now.  I am additionally working on my own art journal using the No-Frills-Prompts I found over at Daisy Yellow, one of my favorite art journaling websites.  I will share my pages as I go along.

I am also planning to take two online workshops to teach me some new art and art journaling techniques.

The first workshop is called 21 Secrets.  Basically there are 21 different techniques in 21 different lessons taught by 21 different teachers.  I am so excited about all the different techniques I will be learning.

The second workshop I will be doing is a ‘Doodle Camp’ and it starts in July.  This workshop will be taught by Dawn DeVries Sokol who is the author of the book Doodle Diary: Art Journaling for Girls.  I love her doodley approach to art journaling and I look forward to learning some of her techniques.

What are you doing to stay creative this summer?

I hope you have a stong marriage!

Richie and I received that little bit of advice from strangers no less than three time over the course of a  week.  We decided to take on a project of monumental proportions that would seemingly be a true test of our marriage.  We decided to replace the carpet in our living room and hallway with wood laminate and we decided to do it ourselves!

We spent about a week perusing different stores and different samples and finally decided on the Mannington Restoration Collection and found a store in Little Rock that keeps it in stock.  Friday afternoon we drove to Little Rock and picked up the flooring with the intention of beginning the project on Saturday.

We emerged on Monday bruised and battered but with our marriage 100% in tact.  We actually made it through all of the long hours and the countless setbacks without a single argument.  Our knees and hands did not fair so well!  Hours of being on the ground took its toll on our not-so-young-anymore bodies.  In fact not only did we put down all new floors but we decided to go ahead and replace all of the baseboards in the living room, hallway, and dining room/kitchen.

Would I ever lay laminate flooring again? NO way! But I am glad that I can look at the floor and know it is there because of our hard work and that throughout the process our marriage survived!

The Finished Product































Box Turtles

Let me introduce you to Roslyn.







She is an amazingly knowledgeable Teacher Naturalist at the Ozark Natural Science Center.  Last weekend at the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged Retreat we were blessed to have Roslyn with us on Friday and most of the day Saturday.  She shared her knowledge with many of the ladies at a 6 am hike on Saturday morning. I missed the hike as sleep sounded like a better idea but many who went said it was amazing.  I am not surprised because Friday night Roslyn shared her knowledge of Easter Box Turtles with us.







The Ozark Natural Science Center participates in a Box Turtle Research and Tracking program.  When a turtle is found on the property it is caught, logged and sometimes a tracking device is affixed.  Roslyn walked us through the collection and logging process when two turtles were found Friday evening.

Here are some facts about Eastern Box Turtles:

  • The shell shape, pattern and coloration can vary widely from turtle to turtle.
  • Male turtles often have brighter facial features.
  • Male turtles often have concave plastron.
  • The plastron is the bottom of the shell.
  • Eastern Box Turtles found in our area are typically the three-toed variety.
  • Box Turtles are not aquatic but do sometimes like shallow water.
  • Adult turtles eat mostly plant matter but will eat just about anything.
  • Box turtles often live 25 – 30 years.
  • Some Box Turtles can live up to 50 years.
  • Box turtle bury themselves up to a foot deep when they hibernate in the winter.

Each turtle caught at ONSC is given a code name which is gently notched into the edge of the turtles shell.  The codes are typically three or four letters in length and the location of the notches around the edge of the shell help the researches code the turtle if it is caught again.  The turtles are then sexed, measured and weighed.  All of the data is collected and kept for tracking purposes and for future reference.  Many of the turtles are also fitted with a small transmitter that allows the researches to track it digitally with GPS.

Roslyn keeps a Naturalist blog and you can go here to check it out!

Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged “Camp” – #AWBU

I turned off of highway 23 and onto the dirt road.  About a mile in I thought, “this isn’t too bad,” as I continued onto the Ozark Natural Science Center driveway.  About a 1/4 of a mile into that 2 mile stretch I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  Beth, of ONSC, had warned us that this would be a somewhat remote location and that cell reception and wifi would be limited at best!  She wasn’t kidding!  I managed to locate a single bar of reception on an “E” network long enough to get an “I’m here!” call off to my husband and parked my car in the ONSC lot where I would be joining about 40 other women for a weekend “summer camp” type experience to unplug from technology and plug in to each other.

I am not known to spend nights away from home my husband very often so driving 4 1/2 hours to spend two nights with 40 women, a few of which I only know from online and most of which I have never even had any contact with before was a little weird.  So I set aside all of my preconceived notions and went to the conference with an open mind.

What I found was some amazing women with amazing stories who will likely become lifelong friends.  We left our Facebook, our Twitter and our Blogs behind for two days and connected instead with each other.  I found women who were a lot like me and women who were so totally different yet I enjoyed them all.  We laughed until we cried, stayed up late and drank a little too much. It was a weekend I will always remember.

Please go check out the blogs of some of the talented ladies I met this weekend!

Beth Stephens – Carpe Diem Beth
Dannie McClain – Dannie Speaks
Fawn Rechkemmer – Instead of the Dishes
Jackie Wolven – MoxieLife (Jackie was my roomie Saturday night!)
Janie Clark – The Green Zine
Jasmine Brown – The Brokins (Jasmine was my roomie both nights!)
Jennifer Janes – Jennifer A. Janes
Lyndi Fultz – NWA Foodie
Robyn Wright – Robyn’s Online World
Sandy Moss – Cedar Berry
Shannon Simons – Hillbilly Wisdom
Stephanie Buckley – The Park Wife
Whitney Sutherland – Running with Whit

There were lots of other great ladies there and hopefully they will be sharing their blog posts about the conference on the Arkansas Women Bloggers Website over the next few weeks.  I am really looking forward to my next meetup with any of these ladies!


Friday was the last day of school(work) and summer break has started.  I am looking forward to the time off because when school starts back things will be very different.  If you haven’t heard…I have taken a new job!  I have so many mixed emotions and while I am very excited about it I haven’t really come out and told a lot of people.  I accepted the position about two weeks before school got out but elected not to tell anyone at my current school.  I prefer to go out quietly.  I have worked at the same school for the last eight years.  There were some really good times and some not so good times but in the end it just came time to move on.  It was a tough choice really for one main reason.  My husband.
Richie is employed by the same school district.  We started and ended school on the same days.  We had the same holidays and the same in-service days.  When school got cancelled because of snow we were both off.  We got to ride to school together every single day.  We coached the chess team together and worked on quiz bowl and mock trial together.  We were even class sponsors together.  We even got to eat lunch together.  We had separate classrooms on opposite ends of the campus but our schedules allowed us to bump into each other often throughout the day.  It was great.  The drawback was that we never really could seperate our lives from the job.  We left school and came home to talk about school.  We had the same kids in class and would often talk about the kids.  If someone we worked with did something to upset me it became Richie’s problem too.
I’m moving to a school that is 7 miles in the opposite direction.  At my old school I was teaching kindergarten through twelfth grade art.  That was a lot of classes to prepare for and was physically, mentally and emotionally draining.  I would have a class high school students, followed by a kindergarten class and then a class of 6th graders all in a row with literally seconds between classes to switch gears.  It started to take its toll on me.  I am not old but I am no longer a spring chicken either and the need for a more narrow scope of classes started to weigh on me.  I had pondered this for some time but I loved the school and loved working with my husband.
Unfortunately, some administrative changes in my school caused some other changes to occur throughout the school that weren’t very pleasant.  I was able to overlook a lot of stuff and did for about two years.  But then the snowball effect occurred.  The bad changes led to more bad changes and student and teacher morale began to decline.  It became time to go.
When a position at a neighboring school district opened up I jumped at the chance to interview.  I had done my student teaching in the school many years ago and had worked with their principal before when he had worked at my school.  The job would be fifth through twelfth grade.  I would be eliminating 5 grade levels!  Additionally the school has an AMAZING elementary art teacher and I looked forward to the possibility of working with her.
I was offered the job a few weeks ago! I still don’t think it has really sunk in.  I quietly boxed up all of my stuff in my old classroom and carted it home.  It is amazing how many art books I have! I had no idea! I literally had 10 boxes of books I have collected over the last 8 years!  The last day of school came and went and I think most, if not all, of the students and other teachers just assumed I would be back the next year as usual.  Someone will probably complain that I never said anything but I needed it to be that way.  So now I sort of sit in limbo between two jobs for the the next two months. It is very surreal.
I am super sad that I have to be someplace different from Richie.  But at the same time I am also hopeful that the change will help us to learn to leave work at work a little more.  I get to start fresh with a new outlook on things.  Hopefully the change will help me to thrive and become the best possible teacher.