Joy Dare :: Unframed Art

Unframed art is really prolific around here. There are stacks and stacks of the stuff everywhere you look. Messy art projects are not something I am naturally thankful for, but I’m trying to not let the chaos bother me,

But recently, all the children have been branching out extensively in their artistic endeavors.


Sophie is the queen of all art forms. She’s not afraid to try her hand at anything, and is generally quite pleased with the results.



Kinsley seems to show some aptitude in the sculpting department.


Our charming penguin family was a gift from my creative mom. The kids love getting these guys out each Christmas season. They like to imagine all sorts of “clever” conversations taking place between the three gourds.

And the art behind them is by my awesome brother. I asked for an Ansel Adams style crayon art piece, and that is what he made me.



Puzzles, another art form we are certainly thankful for.  Especially these two.

Joy Dare Blog<


Chalkboard Table

 photo IMG_7862_zps6e7ef6bf.jpg

For more than two years now, I have intended to do something with this coffee table, but never got around to it, until yesterday. It is a laminate surface, so I wasn’t sure if it would work to paint it, until I discovered chalk paint about a year ago. Boy, is that stuff wonderful!

 photo IMG_7861_zps24888215.jpg

I used a DIY chalk/chalkboard paint recipe with sanded grout, and made it on the thick side, hoping to create a better writing surface.

 photo IMG_7859_zpse9f1801f.jpg

In between coats (I did two) I sanded it down to a satiny finish with 600 grit sandpaper. Normally I would wax my chalk paint, but as it turns out, if you don’t wax your surface, you magically end up with a chalkBOARD!

 photo IMG_7865_zpsd3c5b550.jpg

The chalk goes on like butter (whatever that means) and it erases beautifully, and up to the point where I was uploading these pictures, I thought the whole thing was just pure genius. But as the kids continued to (very exuberantly) use the chalkboard table, I began to notice slight scratches in the paint. So apparently it isn’t working so well with the laminated surface. If I had to guess, I am thinking I shouldn’t have put it on so thick.

I have a (non laminated) train table to paint in the next few weeks, so I will see how the chalkboard surface works on that. Meanwhile, I just need to come up with a magic cure for the peeling paint on this baby.

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort…

Says James Herriot. And if anyone should know, it would be James Herriot.


So, we ended up with a cat. We named her Meredith. She caught many mice and all was good.

What has surprised me is how perfect Meredith has been for our little family.


The children have really bought into another James Herriot thought: “I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love…”


Some days we have to outlaw holding Meredith, because after a while she takes on the persona of a frog that has been held too long and too lovingly by a three year old boy. Not that that ever happens here. But even on Non-Holding Days, Meredith still wants to be with the children. I think she loves them!


Dan and I have been thinking a lot about our approach to education over this next year, and I have been browsing back through my Charlotte Mason books. She viewed children as “thinking, feeling human beings, as spirits to be kindled and not as vessels to be filled”.

Attaining this enlightenment happens through the relationships that we form and the influences that we experience in our lives. Our ideal “curriculum” provides our children with something to love, something to do, something to think about. While there are many different things that will fit each of these goals, and while it will vary greatly from family to family and from time to time, Meredith sure does make a nice “curriculum”` for us right now!

When April Comes






When April comes with softly shining eyes,
And daffodils bound in her wind-blown hair,
Oh, she will coax all clouds from out the skies,
And every day will bring some sweet surprise,–
The swallows will come swinging through the air
When April comes!

When April comes with tender smile and tear,
Dear dandelions will gild the common ways,
And at the break of morning we will hear
The piping of the robins crystal clear–
While bobolinks will whistle through the days,
When April comes!

When April comes, the world so wise and old,
Will half forget that it is worn and grey;
Winter will seem but as a tale long told–
Its bitter winds with all its frost and cold
Will be the by-gone things of yesterday,
When April comes!
Virna Shear

caring for a cat


The kids have insisted on keeping Meredith in the best of health. They check on her just before bed, the moment they wake up, and about every three minutes in between. Kinsley has decided that we should even keep records. Unfortunately for me, some of these records include graphic descriptions of her daily kills. Fortunately for you, I did not photograph that part of her chart.

(See how often I tell the kids “Wash your hands, that cat probably has worms!”)

Update on Meredeth


She spent her day being rocked to sleep. The kids refused to come in all day until dinner time, and at that point, Meredith wised up and vamoosed. The kids have fretted ever since, and asked to pray about her at bedtime. After they went to sleep, she reappeared on the porch. What a glutton for punishment!

Trux plays cars






Everything Trux does is methodical and precise. He loves straight lines (see the blog header!) and that’s the main way he plays with his toys. His concentration level is hilarious while he is playing.


This sort of perfection requires much sticking out of the tongue. It’s kind of a family trait.


Then there’s the hair.


Mama: I like your hair, Trux.
Truxton: Yeah. I know.