Archives for January 2013

Moments: I’m Thankful?

Have you ever taken one of those personality type tests?  If you have, you know we are all a mixture of characteristics, some of which are more prominent than others, but each making us unique. I’ve taken my share over the years and suffice it to say, I don’t have a type-A cell in my body. I love to let the day take me where it leads. I love to spend time with people. I love spontaneity and I struggle with schedules and check lists. One look in my closets and cabinets would tell you organization doesn’t come naturally to me.

But that doesn’t keep me from trying…

When I was a new mom and my son was about one and half I went through a season of searching to find meaning in the repetitiveness of my daily routine. I would find myself thinking, “Really?  I have to figure out 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks every day?” And, “How are there 8 loads of laundry to do when I just did the laundry last week?” It would often take everything in me to get up after dinner to do the dishes, all the while grumbling to myself about how not fun it was.  
One day when I was cleaning the bathroom with a grumbling spirit I heard the Lord speak to my heart. He said, “Turn your work into times of praise.”  Simple, yet so profound and for me life changing.  I soon found myself tearing up with gratitude and a humbled heart as I would scrub stains from my son’s jeans and thank the Lord for a healthy toddler who loved to play outside. I would make dinner and it would turn into times of thanking God for His provision for my family. I would turn up the praise music and dance while cleaning my home, letting the music spill out the open windows to my neighbors. I began to realize the great joy of what it meant to be a mom, a wife and a homemaker.
Whether you are a master organizer or more like me, we are all given a choice in how we respond to the demands of each day. It’s often about our perspective and I don’t know of any better way to get our perspective right than through thanksgiving and praise to God.
Have a blessed day and enjoy your “Moments” with your family.
Lanise Santala
Colossians 5:15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Masterpiece: The Magpie

“The Magpie” by Claude Monet, 1868.

When we think of Claude Monet we think of impressionism, but does this look like Monet’s typical impressionism to you?  It looks perhaps like a beautiful snow scene many contemporary artists might even paint today.  In this painting created in 1868, the “Father of Impressionism,” Claude Monet, shows us his more realistic side.  “The Magpie” was painted before his famous “Impression Sunrise” painting, below, which first exhibited in 1874 in Paris in what became known as the First Impressionist Exhibition,

Notice the difference in the color palettes of these two paintings.  “Impression Sunrise” is mainly a warm color palette, reflecting the warmth of the sun with its colors.  “The Magpie” is mainly a cool color palette, displaying icy cold blues, violets, greys, and white.  Monet was living off the coast of Normandy with his family in Etretat at the time he painted this beautiful snow scene of “The Magpie” in 1868 plein air (French, meaning “in the open air.”)  My fingers are cold just thinking about painting this outdoors!  

The cool blue-violet shadows in “The Magpie” angling downward to the right instead of cutting straight across the picture plane, give us something to lean into and chew on for a bit, happily digesting its truth.   The pie-sliced sunlit snow in the front or foreground shows us footprints in the snow that stop just before the ladder the raven sits on.  Your little students will giggle if you ask them this question:  “I wonder what happened to the person whose footprints we see?”  They will probably come up with all sorts of funny stories you can write down in your teacher’s journal or parent/grandparent diary!

Did they disappear into the snow or perhaps take a leap of faith off of the ladder into the snow and then wander off the page?  I am sure Monet added them for visual interest and did not expect such us to wonder such things!

The lone raven on the ladder is assuredly our focal point.  His singular black figure against the white snow in the position of authority falls directly in one of the golden sections or sweet spots of our composition.

Contrast “The Magpie” painting to one of Monet’s snow paintings completed five years later in 1873 entitled “Train in the Snow:”

Here are a few more questions for you to engage with your student(s):

  • In the painting “The Magpie,” what colors do you see?  How about the colors in the “Train in the Snow” painting?  (Note both use similar colors, but the values, or how dark and light the colors are, remain different. ) 
  • Do you think “The Magpie” painting was painted on a sunny day or a cloudy day? 
  • How about the “Train in the Snow,” painting?  Was it painted on a sunny day or cloudy day? 
  • “Which painting, “The Magpie” or “Train in the Snow,” do you like better?”  “Why?”

Enjoy sharing these paintings with your student(s) and learning more about the Father of Impressionism, Claude Monet!



Laura Bird Miller, artist/art instructor

Review: No Two Alike

Author – Keith Baker

How clearly I recall the elementary art project of folding a circular piece of paper in half, then thirds, then cutting small knicks and slices out of the edges and folds. Do you remember how exciting it was to unfold your paper and find that you had created a snowflake unlike any other in your class? My teacher would then hang them from the ceiling and we would gaze in wonder at how we all could have possibly come up with so many different patterns!

What a revelation it was to soon realize that each and every snowflake was truly unique, that in fact everything everywhere in nature was one of a kind. As hard as I tried to capture identical snowflakes, they either melted too quickly or I couldn’t compare them because they were all smushed together.  

This is a simply, yet sweetly written book for children to understand how wonderful it is to be unique – to be themselves. How boring our world would be if everyone looked, acted, walked, talked the same way.  In our own way we are all special.  “No two friends, large or small, no two alike…among you all!”

Want to make your own snowflakes? CLICK HERE to learn how.

Mary Byrne Kline

Mary Byrne Kline

Reveiw: The Mitten

Author & Illustrator:  Jan Brett
(A Ukrainian Folktale)

Anyone who has ever played in the snow knows how easy it is to lose a mitten. But what happens to Nicki’s lost mitten will have you laughing with delight. 

A tired mole burrows inside to get cozy and warm.  It isn’t long before a snowshoe rabbit comes hopping along, and yes, he decides to wiggle in.  Things get quite prickly when a large hedgehog shuffles by and wants to get out of the cold, wet weather. WELL, you can easily see where the story is headed… The pages are intricately illustrated along the edges also, which give the reader a hint as to what might be happening next. 

How Nicki’s problem is solved is one that is sure to “tickle” you, just as it tickled someone else! Oh my! Will Nicki’s mittens ever look the same again?! 

Mary Byrne Kline