Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hills Near our Home

These are the hills near our home. These hills soon will be covered with tract houses. House after house will line the hillsides: houses of similar size and shape, all very close together, all in their sure-to-be beige glory (not that there's anything wrong with that). It isn't our land. It isn't the city's land. It isn't the county's land. It is the developer's land, and the developer's plan is to build 76 homes right smack on top of these lovely hills.

We watch fireworks from these hills. We hike these hills. We enjoy the views from these hills. We also enjoy views of these lovely hills from our homes, from our walks in the neighborhood, from our school. Perhaps most upsetting to me is that from our kitchen window, from our dining room window and from our bedroom windows we see these scenic hills and the mountains beyond. That soon will be lost. True, they are not our hills, but the view of these hills makes standing at my kitchen sink washing dish after pot after pan after sippy cup bearable for hours every single day. I only ask, in this great valley of ours, with so much flat land to build on, why must they build on the hills to which we all look? Why on these scenic, lovely hills?







We took a hike on the hills in late January.





Having a snack mid-hike on some of the many rock formations on the hills.




A trail through the hills. That's Mount Diablo in the distance.



Annabel, my cutie, after the hike.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hearts for the Birds

I recently discovered this nifty little website called Pinterest. Ideas for everything on that puppy, including the birdseed hearts you see below. The girls loved doing these. The assembly was exactly at Annabel's level, so they each did them entirely on their own.

Start with a tray of cardboard hearts with ribbons attached, a plate of Crisco and a bowl of birdseed.


First spread the Crisco on the heart, as you see Annabel doing here.





Then spoon on the birdseed and press down slightly to make it stick, as you see Lucy doing here.




The finished products. If your birdseed includes sunflower seeds (ours didn't), you can add a cute border of sunflower seeds around the edge.








Hanging the birdseed hearts on our tree. If you hang them next to a small branch from which the birds can perch while eating, it makes it a lot easier for them to enjoy!





Our neighborhood birds loved them!





The girls crouched in the bushes, doing a little bird watching.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Van Gogh Art, Butterfly Art

On a rainy Thursday afternoon in January (one of only a handful this dry, dry winter), we had Friday Art one day early in an effort to lift my (yes, my) spirits. These spirits of mine had dropped after hearing a whole lot of bad news about our cat Stimpy's health that morning at the vet's office. Kidney disease (which, by the way, is incurable -- progressive decline is expected). Severely infected ears. Mouth issues. Our geriatric cat has some health troubles. It's to be expected at his age. He's got a new diet and some drops for his ears. We'll see.

Anyway, we skipped the torn paper snowmen project and other wintery subjects to instead focus on light, flowers and other things of joy. We put on our Van Gogh glasses and painted sunflowers. Then we imagined butterflies in nature and painted those. Lucy added in a still life as well. Sammy got into painting, too, as well as drawing a few pictures for his sisters.


Sammy drew rainbows for his sisters because he knows his sisters love rainbows. He usually doesn't care to participate in Friday Art, but with all the rain and being stuck inside he joined in.


Sunflowers with watercolors.




Sammy's painting was very good this time. He is learning to not dip the brush in every color then paint, which makes each stroke a shade of brown. Instead he will dip in one or two colors, then paint, and then rinse before dipping again.


Lucy's still life. She used a Sharpie for outlining the vase and flowers, something she learned in first grade. It makes for a crisp contrast.


Lucy's watercolor sunflowers, outlined in crayon.


Annabel's watercolor sunflowers also outlined in crayon.


My sunflower.


Moving onto butterflies.


Lucy painted hers sitting on a leaf.


Annabel often takes cues from Lucy's art and also painted her butterfly on a leaf.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Capitola for a Day

I think we should live in Capitola, California. It's all bright, sunshiny and beachy there. We, as a family, love that. The playtime, the sea air, the waves, the relative warmth and even the sand are like heaven for every one of us. We pick days of 70 degree temperatures or higher, no wind and plenty of sun to make the hour-long drive through the valley and over the coastal mountains for some time at the beach. I suppose if we lived there we would get the days of fog and cold, too, but it would make the best-weather days all the more appreciated. Perhaps someday we'll make it back to the beach life. For now we'll stick to our once monthly beach days, weather permitting.

Dancing with shadows and waves.


The waves go out.


The waves come in.


Joyful digging.


Building a huge sandcastle with Daddy.





Beach picnic.














Busy kids.




Happy kids.


Content Mama.


Bye-bye beach! We'll be weather watching and waiting impatiently for our next opportunity to see you again.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Winter Art

We have kept up with Friday Art as much as possible through winter. This installment was a winter landscape study using color intensity to show foreground, middle ground and background, and using evergreen trees of three sizes to show depth. The girls did great. It was a two part project as we had to paint the landscape and trees first, then cut the trees and tear the blue landscapes second as well as glue them and add snowflakes.


Lucy's winter landscape.


Annabel's winter landscape.


Part one: painting foreground, middle ground and background.


Annabel sketching one of the evergreen trees.


Lucy sketching the evergreen trees.