Canoptic Jars, Blue Period, Bulbs and Basketball…


We are still plodding along.

In concluding Zoe’s study of Ancient Egypt we headed over to a friends house, who is a potter and she led us in a Canoptic jar Project….Canoptic Jars were used by the Ancient Egyptians during the mummification process to store and preserve the viscera of their owner for the afterlife. They were commonly either carved from limestone or were made of pottery.


Though still fired and glazed the building stage is done. We used the coil method and slowly built up the jars.


Here she is working on her Anubis Canoptic JarCanoptic jars

My canoptic jar became more of an urn! I have had this owl head for years and finally found a use for it!


The poem inscribed on the jar/urn is a Mary Oliver poem- Thirst! I’ll post more photos once they are glazed and fired!


As for art studies we discovered a new favorite artist a German artist Mary Bauermeister and her Lens Boxes, also known as her NYC Decade- There was a showing at the Smith College museum of Art, followed by a hands on art project! Very Inspiring.

Here is a sampling of her work followed by our projects…



I loved the combo of natural findings and ocean items, and the botanical art look, with a zentangle feel. Reminded me a little of another favorite, self-taught artist Joseph Cornell (1903–1972)who also created boxes using found objects, pages from old books, and dime-store trinkets,  transformed everyday materials into curiosity cabinets … He was a kind of magician, turning everyday objects into mysterious treasures.

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Here is mine, I am now eager to make a natural curiosity lens box coffee table! Already collecting items for it!


We have also been studying Picasso specifically his Blue Period, and the beginnings of abstract art and Cubism.  Here is her interpretation of abstract cubism! (collage and pastels)

Picasso Guitar

A trip to the Smith College Botanical Gardens bulb show last week introduced us to Impressionism…..when we are done with Picasso we will move onto the Impressionists. The flower show was a great way to introduce Impressionism and to compare to the abstract, realist and cubist styles. Zoe seems to really like history of art and history of music.


Being at the flower show also allowed to take some pictures as she has been eager for good photo project

Here are creation:

Zoe photoa

In other non art related news! Basketball Season finally ended! We have Saturday mornings back! But rejoice not for long as baseball/softball season begins tomorrow!



The song writing is coming a long well….as soon as i get a chance to record her I’ll post her newest song “Send Romeo”

We are using the rest of April for finish off some loose ends, finish the Coursera Guitar Class, complete our Black History Month, finish up our Picasso unit, complete reading the Lord of the Flies, and focus on a mini women’s history unit which consists of  “The Diary of Anne Frank” and a biography on Elizabeth Cady Stanton. While still moving ahead with Math (Khan Academy), writing/spelling unit and latin.

Keep calm and carry on!


“Write 12 songs and I’ll take you on a road trip to Nashville…..”


Did I really say that?

My little dreamer has completely romanticized the Nashville music scene! She dreams about sitting at cafes writing songs, jamming with friends and meeting musicians! I think it can be traced back to reading Taylor Swifts Biography…but wherever it began -she is serious, all business

After watching an episode of Modern Family last week  when Hayley is promised a car if she stays off electronics devices for a week, she crafts a bar soap into a smart phone, paints it and spends the week talking into that- but after she wins the bet, the parents decide go back on their word,  Zoe decides we need a written deal- Well, now there is written proof.

Twelve songs gets her a trip to Nashville next Spring.


Song number 2 was written today inspired by the Biography of Langston Hughes and his “Dream” poems.

(here is the first draft. she is still working on the chorus and bridge.)

I wonder……What happens to a Dream Deferred? 

ef466cf9fddcf8a1a00529ab36e1507a(b y Langston Hughes)

Checking in…..So much for weekly write ups!

Not even one post! and it is half way through the school year, SO it is only fair to summarize our experience so far. It has been hard, really hard. There are days when I think that we are falling so far behind that she will never catch up, ever and be so far behind, and it is all my fault, and then there are days when i flip through her binders and take a deep breath realizing that we are squeaking by!

My girl has changed so much this year! Last years crazy foot growth was the beginning, growing a foot size a month for almost 3 months!. She is no longer a little happy go lucky country girl! but a tall, strong preteen, experiencing life to its fullest! What a ride!


Her love of music has also grown deep. Picking up her guitar several times a day to sing a song, practice her bar chords, or unwind. or sometimes a quick break downstairs to bang out a new rhythmn on the drums, or create a rhythm when memorizing a poem or speech. And in her spare time she mixes music on her expanding Dj set up. Yes the little girl who I tried to keep of electronics and pop media away  as long as I could! Now she has fully immersed in the pop music scene!  and I embrace it as i see her grow…in the past few months her musical taste has expanded (as has her physical taste she eats salami now!) Recently she developed an interest in playing cello and has started taking weekly lessons. Lucky for us out here in the boonies there is no shortage of really talented cello teachers.

We are both totally smitten with the cellist Zoe Keating, her CD “into the trees” is hauntingly gorgeous! We hope she makes it back to NY soon as we missed her this time around.

As well as her usual summer plans at the IMA PreTeen Rock and Roll Camp she has decided to try out the Village Harmony Program a teenage chorus/choir camp, in preparation for this she joined a weekly chorus in Northampton.


I have taken advantage of her love of music and used it as a jump off point for History of Music. We are presently doing a short unit on the History of Hip Hop, and The Roaring 20’s and Harlem Rennaissance as part of music and Black History Month. We have also tied in some Poetry specifically that of Langston Hughes. (I would like to keep going through the depression as some of my fav music styles came from that period but I know as soon as I mention Woody Guthrie I have lost her- unless i get creative! (wink wink)


Before this unit is over she will write a rap song, complete a unit on Song Writing with GarageBand too. The book she is presently reading for fun is  The Young Musician’s Guide to Songwriting: How to Create Music & Lyrics which in my opinion is written well for this age group.


In terms of Visual Arts we began the year studying Chuck Close the artist who has overcome such adversity. We recently saw The Theory of Everything about the life of Stephen Hawking and compared his life with that of Chuck Close. By the end of the year we will also study the Art and Life of Frida Kahlo another artist who overcame physical adversity.MV5BMTAwMTU4MDA3NDNeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDk4NTMxNTIx._V1_SX214_AL_

So far we have also studies Andy Warhol and the Pop Art movement. Zoe made her own pop art version of Taylor Swift! Presently we are studying Georgia O Keefe and she is working on a cow skull piece.


We are linking our somewhat abstract topics together by creating a master timeline! I hope to introduce a few photographers to her before the end of the year namely Vivian Maier, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Steve McCurry and a new to me but instant fav. Imogen Cunningham (which we will tie in back to Friday Kahlo)


The other big area we have focussed on so far and almost completed is Ancient Egypt, as planned we mostly followed Pandia Press Ancient History Odyssey- but I must admit to have hated the History Pockets book it recommended exactly what kills me about school all busy work no substance. I guess, if you have a detail oriented child it may work but it’s not for mine! We watched several Smithsian and National Geographic, History Channel Documentaries , the one on finding the mummy of  King Queen Hatshepsut was definitely a fav! as was the research project on her! Zoe has read The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, The Egypt Game byby Zilpha Keatley Snyder (def her least favorite) and Tales of Ancient Egypt by by Roger Lancelyn Green. She may still read Mara Daughter of the Nile also



She looks like she is reading but this fuzzy little trouble maker keeps her from focussing time and time again. Don’t let either of them fool you!


In math we have been moving slowly along with kumon workbooks, and more recently some of the Math Mammouth Make it Real series, it seems to be working well for her. I still would like to return to some compass art and History of math. We will see!

English has been less inspiring that I had hoped and other than some creative writing  (642 Things to Write About: Young Writer’s Edition, songwriting (more on this in another post) and book reports and biographies) we are relying on the workbook MegaWords. She seems comfortable with it as it is what they used in school last year. She is reading ” The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again ” by J. R. R. Tolkien (book report and author bio) and listening to the “Lord Of The Flies” by William Golding on Audible (book report and author bio as well as a short paper on Dystopian Fiction as she has read “The Giver “and the “Hunger Games Trilogy” and “Divergent”, for fun)

We are way behind on the Geography mapping program I was so excited about! She finds it quite dull 😦 We will plod along and through Geography lessons in whenever I can. We also have abandoned Latin and Spanish

For current affairs/science she has been reading Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands Kaye M.A., Cathryn Berger and The Down-to-Earth Guide To Global Warming – by Laurie David which I hope to end with a photo essay on the environment to integrate her passion for photograhy. I am toying with the idea of introducing Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, but I am learning to get go of my attachments! 

Here are two of her photographs that she is pretty proud of

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Also for current affairs she has chosen to memorize the Emma Watson HeForShe Speech at the United Nations | UN Women 2014.


In terms of physical eduction she took a modern dance class this Fall with a local hero  Christina Gabriel who volunteer teaches fabulous dance classes in order to raise money for the Community Hall  in town (and she is juliard trained!) It was her first dance class in years! and looks forward to it again in the Spring. In the meantime she plays on the local 4-6 grade basketball team and an indoor soccer league which she also really enjoys.

Looking ahead, to next year while I feel like we are starting to find our groove, it’s not always graceful though! Zoe is eager to go back to school we have our fingers crossed that she will get into a regional local performing arts charter middle/high school- it seems like a good fit for this alternative young woman. And while I am up for the challenge on continuing on this path, I will be happy to have my days back again!

HAPPY NEW YEAR….May we all be blessed with good health, joy, peace and prosperity


I did fully intend to get Holiday Cards out this year. I have proof I have them all sitting in a pile on my table haunting me daily. Who knows maybe I will get them out….maybe not. The next post will explain why they got waylaid!

SO here are a couple of the images I used on Holiday Cards!  you never got coz they are all still here…haunting me more!IMG_4202



and Finally




if you really wish you had received any of the cards just let me know and I will get one out in the mail to you 🙂

Hoped your Holiday Season Rocked!


Wishing You and Yours a fabulous 2015

PS. Tomorrows post will explain the long absence and sloppy correspondences!

Ukuleles, Guitars and Drums ….Oh MY!

I mentioned, a few posts ago that last Summer Z-girl began attending the Institute For The Musical Arts Pre Teen Summer Intro to Rock Program. It is a program that I has been on our radar a while, since she was a wee thing in fact, waiting for the girl to be old enough…hoping it would be a good fit! (You never know, right, a program that looks totally WOW to you, and your kid is like “really mom?”) This program fit like a glove, everything that i had hoped, totally inspiring in all ways. Amazing instructors (professionals in the field) that teach skills while sharing who they are and enjoy the kids, have fun with them promoting a passion for music, great role models (interns who share the passion), provide safe place to try out new instruments and styles, freedom to be,  a new set of friends that share their passion! The experience offers everything you read about in “Tween Parenting Books” how to help kids as they enter middle school and transition from girls to young women. The IMA a labor of love, envisioned by Ann Hackler and June Millington. 

IMG_2275_2Here’s they are introducing  yesterdays Pre Teen Concert

Being part of the IMA community has helped Zoe’s confidence grow immensely, she is finding joy in what she loves, people, and music. Music has always been in her life, beginning Music Together with Lui Collins and just 9 weeks old! moving on the Hootenanny with the Nields and special dance parties and grandmotherly support by Sarah Pirtle. As you can see she has always had great musical guidance and roll models!

Now she feels safe to expand her self expression around what it means to be passionate around music, sometimes even sees herself as a young budding musician. She has a goal to work towards. She is learning about hard work. This year she has found several innovative ways to help her fundraise or start a grass root business based on her new found confidence and passion. Back in June she Dj’d a birthday party for a younger daughter of a past student of mine and LOVED it so much that she decided to get business cards and begin a business “doing what she loves” IMG_5350

More recently she has added to her plan by making and selling duck tape guitar straps in an effort to buy a drum set (it is not a cheap hobby!) 


Finally back in January she and a friend she met at the IMA worked really hard, reached out of their comfort zone, to put on a short concert at a local cafe to fundraise for a trip to Ecuador and raised $200! 

::Full Enclosure:: At first, as a parent who has kept media and popular culture at an arms length, I struggled greatly with the introduction of pop music. These songs are often the antitheis of everything i am raising Zoe to believe, ( strong, able women, treating people with respect,  zero tolerence for judging people by how they look). For the first few months I persused The mighty girl website and downloaded songs with positive moral values to her ipod! Of course that backfired! But I have come to see that it all plays a roll in her growth and development, that the positive influences in her life dramatically outweigh the exposure she is getting through popular music, and that the more I resist something the more it makes it appealing to her…so for now I live with the sound track Taylor Swift, Keisha, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Rhianna)

This Summer Z attended both pre-teen sessions, one kicked off the summer for us, and one ended (almost) the summer. Yesterday afternoon was the final summer concert  the Intro to Rock Pre Teen Session II. The shows features some whole group efforts (percussion and voice) and some smaller group original songs and often a grand finale! If you are in the area (Western Mass) Sunday afternoons in the Summer you should attend one of these concerts, they are open to the public, and you’ll not be disappointed! The excitement radiates from these pre-teens, you can feel their anticipation in the air pre show and the feeling of achievement post show!  It blows me away every time how much they pull together in just a few days! 

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A year is a long time to wait for the next installment! Lucky for us Rock the Moon is approaching in September, a collaboration between the IMA and Blazing Star Herbal School. Its a weekend “coming of age” gathering to introduce independent self-care practices to pre-teen girls (9-12) through music and herbalism. We base our changing programing on these 8 Guiding Principles :

  1. Finding your voice
  2. Spending time alone
  3. Expressing creativity
  4. Weaving a Web of Community
  5. Exploring your dreams (bringing dreams to life, manifestation)
  6. Connecting to Nature
  7. Celebrating your Self Everyday (self care, nourishment)
  8. Celebrating Coming of Age (by Rockin’ the Moon!)


rock the moon poster.indd

And its fun fun fun. A Fall and Spring IMA boost, a fix to tide you over!