Sunday, December 30, 2012

Week In Photos

I hope everyone has is been enjoying the Holidays so far. 
Here is a quick look at the goings on around our home this week.

Christmas Eve Sissy and Bubba opened their gift from me. Here they are showing off the PJ's I made, it is hard to tell in this photo but Bubba's pj top has colorful stars instead of the hearts.
Sissy and Bubba's parents decided to try and prank them by giving them a letter from 'Santa' saying that because they were on the naughty list all they got for Christmas was snowman poop. The prank was an epic fail, Sissy read the letter and with a very serious face but when she opened the box she smirked and said yum Tic Tac's. As you can see Bubba was thrilled with the snowman poop and excitedly shouted out 'Thank You Santa!'.
We all decided the prank would have worked better if we hadn't put any other packages under the tree. Over all though we had a very nice Christmas and the kids were very happy with their presents.
Then on Friday one of my other granddaughters (Ba, which means little fish in Laotian) came for a visit and to spend the night. There was lots of giggling and tons of creative endeavors like this one where the girls were making beads for jewelry.
Of course I gave Ba her pair of PJ's which she put on right away and didn't take off till it was time for her to leave Saturday afternoon.
 Saturday morning the kids played Dance Central.
Then I pulled out the sewing machine and helped the girls make bean bags with some of the left over Charlie Brown flannel. Ba made a heart shaped bean bag and Sissy made one shaped like a gingerbread man. Bubba was happy to watch but didn't want to make one. Although the sadness of facing this first Christmas without my dear husband crept up on us all from time to time we did have a good Christmas and created many fun new memories as well as relived many wonderful past memories.

I hope you will hop over and visit others who have linked up at Unknown Mami's for

Unknown Mami

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Homework Hour

Artistix Network's very own co-founder Val has many talents, writing however is not high on that list. Recently she was given an assignment for an English class she is taking to write an essay that included narration and conversation. After some deliberation she chose to write about her family's battle with homework. Her and her husband have graciously given me permission to share her essay with our readers. 
Homework Hour
by Val
Once upon a time the typical view of an American family was a married couple with two wonderful children. A smart and strong willed third grader, and a very curious and shy kindergartener. After dinner every night they sit around the dining room table for homework. Homework for such young grades never exceed more than a half hour long. The father works with the son, and the mother works with the daughter. There are no fights, disagreements, and very little confusion it’s a smooth half hour.  This example, this view of the American family, that’s not my family. Homework hour is the most challenging part of the day.

My husband and I, we are a young couple with two great children. Sissy she’s eight, and in third grade. When Sissy started school things were pretty easy. Homework was a simple task, she caught on quickly and there was really no problems learning the information she needed to learn. It was done within a timely manner as well. As she gets older she has embraced more attitude and sass. What eight year old girl doesn’t?

Bubba he’s six, he just started kindergarten this year which was new territory all together.  Bubba has speech and language disabilities, he doesn’t catch on as quickly. Understanding his homework is very difficult almost all the time. We are constantly trying to come up with new ways to help him understand and help him retain the information he needs to know. My husband and I both have our own set of issues. My husband has a bit of OCD. Things have to be perfect; if letters aren’t shaped right, or the spacing isn’t exact he gets antsy. He’s always trying to correct our eight and six year old. How can you expect an eight and six year old to write perfectly? Me, I’m no cupcake either. I’m dyslexic, trying to explain things to young kids; reading things out loud for longer than a five minute period is difficult and extremely frustrating.

The dining room is off the kitchen almost connected but separated by a bar counter with a walk way into the dining room from the kitchen. Above the bar counter there are cabinets for the kitchen that come down half way. The back sides of those are flat, they are meant for the kitchen cupboards. Our table and chairs take up a good amount of the dining room. There are two windows in the dining room one along the back wall that almost runs its length. Then a smaller window on the side wall that also has the back door. The blinds are always open, it lights up the room nicely and the kids love it. We have one of those big oval solid wood tables, the ones with the leaf in the center to make them bigger. This is where we do our homework every night. With Paul helping Bubba while I sit close by to help Sissy if she needs help, most of the time she does her homework on her own.

Calmly I say "Let's get homework done" while at the same time getting all their books and papers. Paul heads to the table calling the kids "Come on guys, your mom said get to the table!" Paul's job is to help Bubba with his homework. Right away the challenge begins. "Do we have to right now? I'm busy." whines Sissy flipping her hair over her shoulder. "I don't want to do homework." pouts Bubba. This of course sets Paul off as he raises his voice “Sit down right now so we can get this done, I said right now and I am serious!"  This is when the real chaos beings, when our personalities, and learning challenges collide in to an hour of mess.

Paul's warning was ignored so I issue a warning that usually works "If you don't sit down right now and do your homework you are going to bed early." Jackpot, all the kids including Paul are now at the table and ready to do homework.  "Sissy please get started with your math, then do your English homework" I ask nicely.  She starts with her attitude and sass right away flipping her mid-back length dirty blonde hair back with her hand, staring at me with her almost crystal blue eyes, as she says "I know what to do mom.” So I let her be so she can work on it. When she gets to her English homework is when our heads butt with my dyslexia. She looks almost identical to me, although I have Hazel eyes not blue, this is when blue eyes and hazel eyes stare down and lock in battle. After reading part of her short story Sissy asks “Mom, I can't figure out the answer to these questions, can you help?"  Like I said before reading for more than a few minutes aloud is difficult for me. "Really Sissy? You want me to read for you? Okay but you gotta listen." I say slightly frustrated knowing Sissy won’t pay attention so I will constantly be telling her to pay attention. "Listen Sissy." "I am listening mom!" "Sissy come on you gotta listen!" "I am but I don't understand!" This banter goes on for a good fifteen minutes until she finally understands what’s being read to her, and she is able to complete her homework. During all this Bubba is whining "I can't concentrate with Sissy talking!" While Sissy is complaining "I can't concentrate with Bubba whining!"
 
Finally Sissy gets her homework done before Bubba gets his complete. So I check over Sissy's homework, "Sissy you have a few math problems wrong please get them fixed." With her hands on her hips and a death stare she argues "They aren't wrong mom! Look I did it right!" In the middle of showing me how right she is, in a defeated voice she says "Oh I guess you're right mom." I gently tell her "I know so please fix them, and then you are done."

Bubba’s homework is pretty easy, for someone without any learning disabilities. With his Speech and Language disabilities and with Paul's perfectionism it’s a bit harder. Paul and Bubba start on his homework which is usually drawing a pattern or numbers for Math. That part goes pretty smoothly after Paul explains what shapes he needs to draw. Bubba is the master of making faces; he’s got these cute little cheeks almost chubby but not quite. With his short brown hair Bubba is the spitting image of Paul. He squints his hazel eyes and raises his eye brows trying to understand what’s being asked of him. There’s always a lot of repeating with his homework.
 
The next part of his homework is writing letters, each day he has a new letter that he has to write five times, and then draw a picture of something that starts with that letter. As he writes his first letter too big and slightly crooked, Bubba asks "Like this dad?"  "No Jr, erase it. It needs to be smaller and straight" Paul says all antsy. Bubba beings to rewrite the letter after erasing the first letter. Paul anxiously says "No Jr, you have to erase it like this" as he shows him how to completely erase the lines. Then he draws the letter on another piece of paper to show Bubba exactly how it should be done. Paul's standards of perfectionism are high, too high for a six year old. Bubba starts to whine "I don't want too, it’s hard." After I tell Paul to relax a little bit and if the letters aren’t perfect its okay he’s only in kindergarten. We finally get through that part.

The last part of Bubba’s homework is practicing sight words. This is the worst part of homework hour. As Paul picks up the stack of index cards that contain the sight words, Bubba crumples up his face and whines "No more homework". He hates sight words. "We have to finish these, then you will be done with homework" Paul says hoping Bubba will cooperate. Showing the first card to Bubba Paul begins "Come on Jr sound it out with me", "c" … "a"…"n". Paul sounds out the word as Bubba stares at him like he's lost it. This is repeated over and over, first Paul sounding it out too fast then too slow. "Just look at the card Jr!" Paul says. With both boys becoming more and more frustrated. Wiping the tears from his eyes Bubba finally says "c"…"a"…"n", "can."   After about ten minutes of this I step in "Hunny just give me the cards I'll finish this with him." I don’t sound the words out syllable by syllable. I just sound out the first letter and add the rest of the word behind it. Holding out the next sight word I ask "Okay Bubba what’s this word?" "s"…"aid." Bubba says excitedly "Said!" We spend a few minutes on each word until we've finished his sight words. "Okay Bubba we are done put your book up and go play." I say as Bubba jumps from the chair and runs out of the dining room. As I lay my head on the table closing my eyes, and breathing slowly I sigh "We've made it through another night of homework."

We hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into our family and will visit others at Unknown Mami's on this fine Sunday. 
Unknown Mami

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Silence and Support for Sandy Hook

This tragedy has touched so many and I am sure their are many like myself that have been wondering how they can help. In a visit to Robyn's blog I read the following post from O. is Me, and wish to share it with you.

To the Blog World and Anyone Else who Wants to Help,

Yesterday, tragedy struck so many of us in ways we did not foresee. An elementary school and small town in Connecticut was shattered by a mass shooting. We knew we wanted to help. As a side note, I would like to take this time to thank Neely and Michelle for helping organize and be so quick to come together and think of something that we could do as a blogging community. After some planning, we came up with this:




On Tuesday, December 18th, there will be a blogger day of silence. We will post the button and that's it. Please try to not post anything else that day if possible.

 We are also raising money that will go to an organization in the memory of this tragedy. The organization is called The Newtown Family Youth and Family Services. Here is the official description of the support service we are donating to:

"Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.

ANY DONATIONS MADE TO NEWTOWN YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES WILL BE DONATED DIRECTLY TO THOSE EFFECTED BY THE SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING."


Please visit THIS PAGE to make your donation.

 We can't imagine how they must be feeling, especially this close to the holidays. We would love for you to spread the word on your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Let's make a difference and use blogging in a positive way. Thank you in advance for participating.

 Love,
The Blog World

p.s. Please share this post with your followers! If you leave me a comment on this post asking for the HTML to post on your own blog, I will be happy to reply via email and send it to you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

No words can adequately express my sorrow at this tragedy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week in Photos

It has been a quiet week here at the Zoo. 
No trips to the beach.
Photo taken during my last trip to the beach in October
No trips to the Japanese Gardens.
 The weather has been nice, a little rain now and again but temps in the 50's and 60's.
 Yet most of my week has been spent indoors.
 Preparing for Christmas and Capturing quiet moments like these.
 According to Bubba the stool in the bathroom is the best spot to play his sisters' game undisturbed. It can be difficult finding a private spot in a home with six people.
Weekly Top Shot submission not the best but my favorite.
As far as work goes this week has been spent working on a request for a calendar featuring old school VW's, Navy ships and E2C Hawkeye's. This is the composite photo cover for the calendar.
In between that and editing client photos, Val and I came up with a few more designs for the humor section of our gift shop.

Have a wonderful week everyone!
Linking up with:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Time Travel

A group of young tourists document a trip back in time when they come across our Victorian photo session.

For more fun on this Wednesday check out what others are doing at the following Wordless Wednesday Meme's:

 Wordless Wednesday.

And

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Photographs & Memories

Memories are triggered by many things; a song, a phrase, a season, a scent and of course a photograph. I have always felt the importance of  photographs to future generations and to help keep the memory of departed family strong within those living. But those photos were always of the family or taken by the family. But I have learned that sometimes the photograph doesn't even need to be one that we have taken, only one that in some way resembles a location or event to which our memory is linked. The truth to this statement was never so evident as it was on Friday.

Friday I decided to create a new Facebook cover for my personal page and wanted a winter scene. While going through stock images looking for a scene that appealed to me I came across this photo. Now maybe it was just the photo and maybe it was the combination of Christmas music, Cinnamon scented pine cones and the photo, but as soon as I saw it I knew it was the one I would use. 

While the photo gives a sense of loneliness, I found it comforting because it immediately reminded me of my husband and how every year at some point during the Autumn he would announce that we had eight weeks till it would snow. An announcement that always tended to drive me crazy as I was never quite ready for the snow to come. Yet,now that memory brings a smile. Odd how something that once drove me crazy is now greatly missed. Even more strange is how one memory can bring about both a sense of loneliness and a feeling of being comforted by a love shared. Thus was born my latest composite art piece 'Love Transcends the Elements'.


I had thought to link the sneak peek at my Victorian photo shoot up with Unknown Mami's Sunday in My City and show off our beautiful mild weather here in Norfolk, but I wanted to share this message with all my blogging friends. No matter how difficult the elements if we build and share love we will never be truly alone.
Now please hop over and share some blogging love at:

Unknown Mami

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week In Photos

Here it is Tuesday and I am just getting around to posting the week in photos. Last week was one wild week. Not only did we have Thanksgiving but we also had two birthdays. My daughter and co-founder of Artistix Network celebrated her birthday yesterday and the day before was her son's sixth birthday. So here is how our week went.

We started the week off creating various different scenic photography designs and applying them to both calendars and accessories. Pictured here is just one of the many designs, to see the rest just click HERE.
Of course there was plenty of play time for play. Here Bubba decided to create a convoy with his mini's.
While the kids were in school during the beginning of the week I got a little work done on their Christmas presents. This is part of the design. For now I will tell you that I am creating matching PJ's for all six of my grandchildren incorporating snoopy.
Unlike the formal Thanksgiving I was accustom to, here at my Daughter and Son-in-laws it is an informal buffet style gathering of friends and family. Which is probably more due to the fact that there was no way all the food would fit on the table and still be room for all the family and friends to put their plates. As it was we did need to pull out a second table for the kids.

Of course football was part of the day both on and off the TV. While they all had a blast I do have to say it was not evenly matched. Sissy, Bubba and our dog Max made up one team, while my Son-in-law and his two buddies were the opposing team.
Halftime saw the family tackle their traditional decorating of the Christmas tree.
With Thanksgiving behind us, it was back to work adding new ornament designs to our gift shop. This photo shows just a few of the many ornaments. You can check the rest out HERE.

Show Off Your Shot submission
Complements of the mild weather the kids and I decided to head over to the Japanese Gardens for a few photos of the kids and of Sissy with her kimono.
















Tones On Tuesday submission
I was a bit off my game but at least I was able to alter the pink parasol in post production. I have decided to post the other photos from our outing HERE even though they are certainly not my best shots.
 Finally we made it to Sunday and Bubba's sixth birthday. With it so close to Thanksgiving and Christmas it was a small affair with a few gifts and a cake but he was excited just the same.



All in all it was a great week here in Norfolk Virginia. How was your week?



Linking up with:

Unknown Mami
and
 then, she {snapped}
Scattered Horizons

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas Is Almost Here

I can't believe the year is nearly over and Christmas is once again just around the corner. If you have been wanting to give the gift of precious memories this year and haven't ordered your custom Memory Art work, time is running out to place your orders. We will continue to accept orders until Dec 1st for delivery of artwork by December 21. After December first we can not promise your artwork will arrive before Christmas.  

Looking for other gift ideas or fun things to put in those stockings? Visit our gift shop where we have something for everyone.  Here are four of our main categories:

Our Fun Stuff Section includes products with designs in the following categories: humorous, love N romance, Gag Gifts or Jewelry. Personalization is available on some designs.
Our Seasonal section has a large selection of Christmas ornaments as well as Christmas themed products great to stuff stockings.
Check out the Art and Photography section for products featuring beautiful art and scenic photography. Or check out our new section full of Calendars and matching accessories.

Share the joy and power of inspirational art with prints and products from our Motivational section. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Life by Chocolate: Robyn Alana Engel's Blog: Ode to the Twinkie

Personally I am a Ding Dong person but I can see the appeal of Twinkies. Even if I didn't care for them at all I still think Robyn's "Ode to Twinkies" would have brought a big smile to my face. So this morning I invite you all to head over to Life by Chocolate and read what Robyn has to say. 

Life by Chocolate: Robyn Alana Engel's Blog: Ode to the Twinkie: Oh Twinkie, Dear Twinkie So light and so long Though your creme was real sweet I preferred the Ding Dong. Oh Twinkie, Dear Twi...

A little about the subject.

First introduced in 1933 Twinkies have become a part of American culture. They have been in the news on a number of occasions, taking their fair measure of criticism (the Twinkies Defense) and yet  remain popular to this day. While their maker Hostess may not survive it's financial woes, as  Tom Krisher of the Associated Press writes Twinkies will survive even if Hostess doesn't. 

Of course to see it on the internet one is lead to believe otherwise. I guess one could argue that while another company can buy the brand and recipes, it just will not be the same. Just like your meatloaf is just not as good as your mother's, even though you follow her recipe. So who knows maybe this is the beginning of the end for Twinkies. 

So are you a Twinkies fan or a Ding Dong lover?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Four Legged Family Members

When it comes to capturing and preserving family memories often our four legged family members seem to be the ones that get missed. Knowing this and how important my Mother-in-laws' little babies are to her I decided it would be a good idea to photograph them. I plan on creating a special memory photo of them for her.  




This little gal was so cute, I was sorely tempted to hide her in my purse and bring her home with me.

I haven't decided on a design yet but here are a few that we have created in the past for clients.