I’m loving the leisurely pace of our summer break. For sure no complaints on my end. We wake up slowly, I putter around in the yard, clean a bit, read the newspaper, and then I wake up The Boy and start breakfast.

And although it’s summer and school is officially over I’ve decided to conduct some “light” homeschooling. Simple things like reading, writing assignments, math, and spelling (because The Boy is in desperate need of some extra work there).

So this morning, after breakfast and long winded conversations around the table, we did some homeschooling. Although it’s tempting to leave the schooling for the afternoon, it being summer and all, I know if we do that it’ll never get done. Our afternoons, after all, are just as leisurely as our mornings.

True story.

A whole bunch of days ago (I truly cannot keep count) we began putting together Daddy Brooks’ care package for Father’s Day. We were going to ship it out right away but were unable to get to the post office to drop off the box. And then Big Brooks mentioned that his room was getting so full he had no room for anything, which worried Brooksy that his gifts wouldn’t be appreciated and would cause stress, not joy. So we sat and brainstormed and decided that office supplies might make the most sense.

This morning, after schooling, we sat down and worked on a few items so that the box could get sealed and mailed in time for Father’s Day. The first item we worked on was a pencil/pen holder for his desk. I took an empty water bottle and cut it in half. Brooksy then took wire and covered the outside of the bottle. He also snipped of different lengths of wire and added them to the outside, so it would be art and functional. His idea, not mine. I love how his little mind thinks.

I was worried the bottle wouldn’t stand on its own after placing pens in it but sure enough it does. I think the end result is nice, and I think Big Brooks will appreciate the effort.

I had also seen a blog post about Father’s Day gifts. Here is the link, if anyone is interested. http://madebyjoel.com/2011/05/5-crafts-for-fathers-day.html One of the items posted on the blog was making a simple picture holder with a rock and wire. Since we had both handy and thought it would be neat on Brooks’s desk Little B fashioned one and then picked a photo to send to his Daddy.

We worked on a few other items as well, but since D.Brooks reads this blog we’ll leave it at that. Seeing how intent Little Brooks was on making things just right for his Daddy made me feel good about the relationship they’ve been able to forge, regardless of the deployments and crazy schedules. That boy misses his Daddy fiercely and sometimes it gets to him to the point that it overwhelms him and brings him to tears. Mostly, it’s a lamentation expressed in quiet statements or far off looks, when his absence is felt in the things we do and say.

I’m so thankful for the days on the calendar behind us, each day marked off bringing us closer to welcoming him home, even if just for a short while.

After working on the care package we were treated to a playdate with friends. We walked over to our community center to enjoy the new spray pad. Afterwards the kiddos and I played some Foosball before trekking back to the house.

Tuesday wouldn’t be Tuesday without gymnastics and tutoring. I was so pleased to score some amazing swiss chard from Greener Vision Farms (here’s the link: http://www.greenervisionfarms.com/Home_Page.html ) a local farm run by an amazing family. For those in the area it’s my understanding they will be at the new market in Harker Heights on Saturdays. Check them out if you can!

After dinner we worked on finishing our art project we started the other day (the kiddos used glue to create designs on card stock – although we used an old folder cut in half). Today paint was applied with a mini roller and then white pieces of paper were used to create prints. Brooks had a blast with this and even experimented with his prints, using light pressure for some, and not so much the next time, with variations on some papers. The end result was pretty neat. I have to admit, I love printing. It’s one of my favorite activities to do with The Boy.

Which brings me to my favorite blogs for art with kiddos.

I know it sounds sappy but one of the first things that cross my mind when I wake up in the mornings is what we’ll be doing that day. I have a “recipe” of sorts for our days. We have a schedule, which is being followed loosely right now due to summer break, but still somewhat exists, even in its barest forms.

I have a few things I try to fit in each day: outside play, art, reading, a cooking project, and a game or activity. The reading is never negligible. We always read, typically twice a day. The outside play and art is up there too.

As Brooks has gotten older my pattern for piecing our day together hasn’t changed much. I used to use my own materials I had gleamed from conferences, books, classes, my grandmother, etc. As I became more comfortable using the internet I began to pull resources from there. From time to time I’ll get on and try to find something myself, but lately I’ve been using some art blogs for all my ideas or inspiration.

These art blogs are pretty amazing. The cool thing about using a resource like a blog is that all the footwork is done. You can instantly tell how much time, effort, and materials are required, which then makes it easy to fit into your day.

I’ll be honest, some of our art projects can be complicated or long, but it’s all about the process, and at the end of the day, our art projects are guided by Brooks’s interest. Some projects we’ll do for several days, they are enjoyed that much. Some take a few minutes. It all depends. For me, the biggest thing is exposing Brooks to new things and allowing him to express his creativity in different ways, without fear of judgement. It frees Brooks to create pieces that are true to him.

Including an art project into your day to day can be quite simple. And the best thing is that you can do it with your child. It’s a great moment shared, a time to learn about each other, to laugh and giggle, to create and explore. It’s Mommy and Me Time int it’s purest form. It’s honestly one of the things the kiddos ask to do the most. Even Brooks’s friends, when they come over, will check out our fridge to see what we’ve created lately, because chances are they’ll beg for me to pull out some supplies so they can try their hand at it too.

So here are some of my favorite art blogs lately (check them out if you have the chance):







Also, check out http://maryannfkohl.typepad.com/blog/  Mary Ann Kohl was introduced to me through my reading of The Artful Parent blog. Ms. Kohl has some amazing ideas, and her book is on my list of books to purchase. She’s a genius!

Some of my fondest memories of Little Brooks involve us dabbling in art together. We’ve had some pretty funny conversations while creating some pretty neat things. It never escapes me to feel blessed by those moments. I don’t take a single one for granted. Life is truly good.