Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Art Camp 2014


A week after we moved in, I hosted art camp amidst the boxes.  Not one of my more brilliant ideas, but it was scheduled before we even put an offer on the house and the kids were really looking forward to it.  I girded my loins and put my teacher hat on.

I had six 5-8 year olds.  Perfection.  Art Camp was held upstairs, which is basically one big game room (or if you are the previous owners, a large and completely dark poker room).  I set up a long table with old plastic tablecloths covering the carpet (thankfully, since there were several paint spills).  I had been having issues with loving the new house the week before (our a/c wasn't working and several other first world problems), so utilizing that room and realizing how awesome it was made me start appreciating the house more.  I had our regular babysitter, AnaKaren, come and help out as my assistant.  She was fabulous and I'm not sure I could have done it without her.

On the first day as the kids came in, I had two stations set up.  One for decorating their art bins (filled with supplies for the week and labeled with their names) and the other for customizing their art smocks (white xl men t-shirts).  The kids were divided into two groups and switched stations after five minutes.  Some of the kids were very predictable in the way they personalized their shirts (Jakson drew Minecraft---shocker), but Storey decided to go avante garde with hers and drew a large, angry bull.  Sometimes I wonder....


Before getting started, I explained everything that was included in their art bins and all of the rules that we needed to follow to have a successful week. The main rule: don't do anything to harm another artist or their art.


Every day we started with a drawing prompt, shared our work, I introduced an artist and an aspect of their artwork that we would be studying, practiced it a bit, and used that as the inspiration for our "masterpiece."   I was pretty amazed at how much the kids retained about the artists and the different types of art. 

The whole week was so fun and ended with an art gallery Friday evening to show off all the masterpieces.  It has been such a crazy couple of months that taking the time to do something like this restored a little sanity for me.  And kept the kids away from the TV!

Showing off the gallery invitations they made.  Their masterpieces from Day One are strung on the wall behind them (in preparation for the Art Gallery that evening).

From the evening Art Gallery....
artcollage4 artcamp3

More details in case you are interested:
Monday Lesson Plan (can you tell that I used to teach school???  This may be a dead giveaway :)):
  • Design shirts and decorate art bins 
  • Cover rules of Art Camp and go over supplies 
  • Introduce artist of the day: Kandinsky-father of abstract art.  Go through library books about artist discuss what they notice about his pieces (colorful and abstract).  Also go over the definition of abstract.  Explain that Kandinsky used a lot of color because he "heard" color and painted what he heard.  Listen to a couple of clips of songs and talk about what colors we hear in them.
  • Acquaint kids with Kandinsky's "Concentric Circles" and mediums for the day (watercolor and oil pastels)
  • Practice drawing concentric circles in sketchbooks 
  • Snack time
  • Teach kids how to use oil pastels and practice on "practice" water color paper (8.5x11)
  • artcollage2
  • For the masterpiece: Using large watercolor paper with a grid of 6 squares already drawn on it.  For each square, kids listen to a different piece of music and draw concentric circles with colors they hear using oil pastels.  After drawing circles (using at least three different colors), listen to the same songs again and choose one color watercolor to paint over the top, filling each square.   
  • Examples of songs-I didn't download anything special for this, just chose a variety of genres and tempos from CDs and songs on my computer: Popular from Wicked, Cotton Eyed Joe (I happened to have a CD with this, don't judge), a church hymn, an Imagine Dragons song, No More Monkey's Jumping On The Bed (from a kid song CD), and a dance song by Baha Men.
  • Pickup
  • Get sketchbooks as they come in.  Prompt: Listen to the classical music playing and sketch a picture of how it looks.   Some kids drew abstract drawings, others drew flowers and such.  Jakson drew a still life of his marble toy that he was laying next to....  You can't win 'em all.
  • Finish listening and painting from the day before (not in the original plan, but this took longer than I had predicted to finish)
  • Introduce artist of the day-Paul Klee.  Look through library books of his artwork (I put sticky notes on the pages beforehand--some of his art is not appropriate for children).  Discuss his phrase "take a line for a walk."  
  • Talk about different kinds of lines we use in art.  Hand out copies of this flier showing different types of lines.
  • Using the practice watercolor paper and a pencil, have each child trace their hand (and part of their arm).  Copy over it with sharpie.  Divide the hand into five sections.  Instruct the kids to fill each section with patterns of one type of line.  Choose a different type of line for each section.  
  • Show Paul Klee's Senecio.  Talk about his use of lines and minimal details. 
  • Pass out mirrors and masterpiece paper.  Explain self-portraits.  Have the kids draw self portraits step by step.  Draw a large oval for head, place hand at top of head and draw almond eyes underneath hand, etc.  Encourage kids to stay away from drawing lots of details, just lines.  Trace over pencil drawing with sharpie marker.  
  • At this point, we were supposed to finish these pieces with tissue paper but were running out of time.  I needed them to paint the background for Friday's masterpiece so that the paint would dry in time for them to work on the rest of it.  I instructed them to choose one watercolor that represented the sky and paint an entire masterpiece paper with that color.
  • Lay papers out to dry and pickup
  • Get sketchbooks as they come in and their "types of lines" handout. Review the types of lines by drawing pictures with those types of lines or completely filling pages with patterns of them.
  • Finish masterpiece from Wednesday.  Originally I wanted to use tissue paper cut into squares that would bleed the color onto the self portraits, but I went to several stores and couldn't find any.  Finally, I settled for regular tissue paper cut into squares and painted over the self portrait with a mixture of glue and water.  Still looked cool, but the self portraits were a little harder to see underneath than I would have liked.  
  • Discuss artist of the day: Romare Bearden.  Again, I had to be careful about the artwork that I showed the kids, but we talked about collage and using different types of materials to create layers and dimension in a piece of art.  We were also going to make small monochromatic collages with a bunch of materials I had collected, but didn't have time.
  • Masterpiece inspiration of the day: House in Cotton Field.  Have the kids create a collage of their home, their dream home, or their bedroom (a last minute addition because a couple of the girls wanted to make their bedroom).   Use magazines, newspaper, and construction paper for collages.
  • This was the least successful piece of art in my opinion.  I wish we would have had more time to discuss collage and monochromatic colors.  The kids still enjoyed making their collages (most of them had no idea what a collage was to begin with).
  • Write and paint invitations for the gallery.
  • Pick up
There are so many amazingly talented people that posted ideas I gleaned. 
What I would change for next time: Longer hours. Because I'd never done this before, I didn't exactly know how much time would be needed for each activity. I either underestimated or over planned. I had to cut out a few activities. Next year I will make sure each class day is 3 hours.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

April & May Moments


APRIL 11-One of the more exciting moments of April happened when Zak's car died under an overpass on the way home from a meeting in Sugarland.  Oh, how we love that car.  The kids refer to it as "The Wreck." A well deserved name.

APRIL 14-Jakson wanted to eat at "the place where people do tricks" for his birthday dinner. It took us two weeks to figure out he meant a hibachi grill.

APRIL 18-The Easter bunny brought a birthday-present-that-arrived-late for him and a Mary Poppins-esque umbrella for her.   Oh, and the movie Frozen.  Storey wrote a letter to the Easter bunny asking for it because she "knew mom and dad weren't going to buy it."

The kids are also already writing Christmas lists.  Jakson told me that he's going to ask for an iPad.  I told him that Santa doesn't usually bring such expensive gifts.  He said, "That's okay.  I'll just ask for $1000 instead."  Big expectations.  

APRIL 19-While we were cleaning out the garage, I found a box of old cards.  And inside one of them was a five dollar bill in a birthday card from my grandma.  It's been in there for, oh....FOURTEEN YEARS.  Well, thanks Grandma!

MAY 6-Storey's school hosted Moms and Muffins.  This year they did not have iced tea that I inadvertently drank thinking it was Kool-aid.  So that was a positive.  I think Storey ate 5 muffins.   We are so glad that we made the decision to keep her at Cornerstone this year instead of moving on to Kindergarten.  It was a much better fit for her.  She will be going into first grade in the fall at our the local elementary school and I am hoping it's a better public school experience than the one we had with Jakson.  My main concern with Storey is boredom.  And nonstop talking/questions as a result. 

MAY 18- I can't begin to tell you how happy this picture makes me.  I did something right as a parent!!

MAY 22-Jakson was able to start Cub Scouts after he turned eight. I think he is going to be the most dedicated Scout of all time. Less than a month into scouting and he earned his Bobcat. He was so proud.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Not dead


So much has happened since I wrote last--and I will eventually catch up on it because I want to document everything for our annual Blurb book.   We celebrated our 10th anniversary with a cruise, Storey finished up her last year of preschool and had her first dance recital, Jakson earned his Bobcat, and....we bought a house!  And moved!   It's been a little bit crazy to say the least.

We finally have the internet in our new home, so I have no excuse (well, besides time) not to get the posts written.  

Jakson came home from school one day with this new, awesome hat.  He was so proud.  My cute boy.  I just can't believe sometimes how big he has gotten.  Not my little puppy anymore...

Storey informed me that you must have hand sanitizer to "be a lady."   She saved and finally earned enough from chores to be able to buy her very own hand sanitizer.  What a thrill.  Not only did she choose sanitizer at the store, but also a package of travel tissues.    Watch out world.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Eight is Great


Jakson was baptized on May 10th.  He wanted to invite everyone that he'd ever met-all of his therapists, everyone at school, all of the neighbors...it was awesome.  In fact, he invited Great Grandma Blair when we were in Snowflake a couple of months ago and she ended up being able to come, thanks to Grandma Criddle.   Uncle Tyler, Aunt Melissa, and Aunt Megan also flew in for the weekend.   Grandpa and Grandma Vermillion were able to join us via the computer (which was pretty entertaining).  It was a full house!  We were so grateful for the enormous support he received.


For a long time, Jakson was scared to go under the water without goggles on.  Apparently goggles equal invincibility.  I bought some clear goggles but wanted to try and get him to the point where he could be immersed without them (kind of like the least restrictive environment at school).  We brought them as a backup, but Jak was able to get baptized without them, much to the disappointment of several attendees (it really would have been cute).


Storey exclaimed as Jak came out of the water, "Mom, I'm so proud of Jakson." Those two.  Melt my heart. She sang When I Am Baptized and did a fabulous job. She had practiced a lot and remembered all of the things that Sister Cook taught her about Italian vowels in choir.  :)


Piano: Jonathan Criddle (Uncle Jon)
Chorister: Clyde Criddle (Grandpa)

Opening Song: I Love To See The Temple
Opening Prayer: Crystal Criddle (Aunt Crystal)

Baptism Talk: Anne Criddle (Grandma)
Baptism: Zak Vermillion (Dad)
Witnesses: Clyde Criddle (Grandpa) and Tyler Vermillion (Uncle Tyler)

Holy Ghost Talk: Melissa Vermillion (Aunt Melissa)
Special Musical Number: When I Am Baptized sung by Storey Vermillion (sister) and accompanied by Anne Criddle (Grandma)
Confirmation: Zak Vermillion (Dad), Clyde Criddle (Grandpa), Tyler Vermillion (Uncle Tyler), Jonathan Criddle (Uncle Jon), Nate Kolbaba (family friend), Chris Crawford (Bishop)

Welcome To The Ward: Bishop Crawford

Closing Song: Families Can Be Together Forever
Closing Prayer: Bethany Vermillion (Mom)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Valentine's 2014


This year was a special Valentine's Day for Zak and I because it marked ten years since our relationship began.  Ten years ago on February 14th, Zak kissed me for the first time (after being rejected a couple of times.  He is nothing if not persistent) and then we dated for two whole weeks before getting engaged.   I called my mom to tell her that I was thinking about getting engaged and she paused for a moment and then asked, "to who???"   It was definitely a whirlwind and not something I'd recommend to everyone, but it was right for us (though I understand if you think we are crazy).

During the months of our friendship leading up to dating and our engagement, Zak wrote me an email almost every day (he really really liked me).  He would compose it late at night so that I would receive it as I sat down to my desk in the morning.  It was one of the many things that finally convinced me that he was amazing.  All of the emails back and forth were still sitting in our accounts, so I compiled them all into a little book I had bound at Kinko's for his Valentine's present.   The collage above was the front cover and is made up of photos from our friendship/dating/engagement. 

Apparently I wasn't the only one with the idea of the "10 years ago today" theme.  Zak recreated the same gift he gave me that first Valentine's Day and our date that night (Jamba Juice and a viewing of My Fair Lady).  He even stole the exact bear that he got me from Storey's stuffed animal stash.  But we gave it back to her....

Storey's gift was equally thoughtful.  She found the most pink thing she could and made it into a card for me.  It was left, dripping wet with glue on my nightstand.

Miraculously, she let me do her hair for school. Normally, she complains about having braids but this took a lot longer (I'm not very experienced because she starts to scream when I come near her with a brush) and had to be redone a couple of times.  She loved the results though.  A new Valentine's tradition? 
Jakson isn't into mushy holidays, but he shared with us some some wicked bedhead that morning (kind of a daily tradition).

Thursday, May 08, 2014



Autism has turned me into a control freak.

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram, something I rarely do, and noticed that many of my friends seem very laid back and fun.

And then there's me.

Even things as small as taking all the kids to the doctor at the same time (something a friend recently posted a picture of) makes me want to roll into a ball and moan.  I'm way too uptight to do something like that.   It could possibly stem from the fact that last time I took both kids to an appointment, Storey starting crying about something the doctor was doing and Jakson bolted out of the room, covered his ears, and proceeded to scream for a solid twenty minutes.  Then he pooped all over himself.  I'm still experiencing post traumatic stress disorder from that ordeal.

But it's not just doctor visits.  I wish I could be spontaneous.   I learned early on that our little family just can't handle spur of the moment.  I want to surprise my kids by pulling them out of school and taking them to a movie like another friend did a couple of weeks ago.   Last time I tried "surprise" we picked Jakson up after school and took the kids on a staycation (stayed in a hotel here in town).  The result of springing an unexpected activity on Jak?  Meltdown during dinner (at a restaurant) that included throwing himself under the table while yelling.  Not something I want to repeat anytime soon.

So I've become an un-fun control freak.  What once was a minor personality trait in a list of personality traits has now become THE personality trait.   It sort of makes me sad.  I learned about six years ago that my life isn't going to look like everyone else's life because I have a child that has different needs.  And most days I'm okay with that.  But there are times where I'd love to throw my kids in the backseat and yell, "Today we're going to Disneyland!"  or heck, even "No school today, we're going around the corner to get ice cream!"

There are some positives with being very in touch with my control freak side.  I tend to be pretty organized (meltdowns about toy buckets not being in the right spot has made me this way),  because I do so much research, I am a Google master, I'm also fountain of useless information about Disney, and I think people have learned that they can count on me (though if it's not written on my calendar, it's probably not going to get done).  Autism has shaped me in a way that I didn't expect.

I love it and I hate it all at the same time.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Storey Lately


Storey has a huge personality.  HUGE.   She is loud and asks a million questions and sings all the time and asks a million more questions and wants to be the star of the show all.the.time.  Sometimes it's exhausting.

Which is why she naps every afternoon.

These are some of her shenanigans as of late:
Storey has been watching Zak and I do various exercise videos and decided she wanted to exercise too. So she put on her "sports bra" (which is actually a half tee), Can't exercise without the proper support! 

Last month I found a pair of cowboy boots at a consignment sale. They are about 3 sizes too big but Storey insists on clunking around in them almost every day.   Soon after the purchase came the much anticipated Rodeo Day at school.   This girl was in heaven.  She is really getting into the whole Texas pride thing!

Speaking of Texas, Storey had show and tell at school. Texas themed. Because we are in Texas and Texans are taught to be proud of Texas from a very young age. Storey took a paperweight with the shape of the Great State inside. I asked her what other kids showed. She said one brought a picture of bluebonnets, another one a brochure from Space Center Houston....oh, and then there was the kid that brought beef. BEEF.   I asked her what he said about it and she said, "Oh he hasn't been able to show it yet.  He just put it in his cubbie."   Um....

Storey is obsessed with the Berenstain Bear's books. She is constantly telling me that we need to change things in our home to meet Mama Bear's standards. A few nights ago, Storey sat us all down to review the "Family Politeness Plan" that she, er...Mama Bear, put together. It consisted of many rules and consequences that we have not, in fact, implemented since then.

Aunt Leanna mailed each of the kids a letter. Storey was SO EXCITED to get mail. She sat down right away and replied. And included the seeds from the apple that she had just eaten. Because, why not?

From her most recent class book:

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