Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Does It Work? Salt-Painting Edition

It's summer, and the kids are out of school.

Now, I don't know about your kids but mine would just sit around and watch cartoons most of the day if they could get away with it. Alas, they have a mean mommy (so they say), who thinks they should do something with their brains besides stare at a screen. 

Disclaimer here - I'm not one of those oh-so-perfect Moms who always has oh-so-perfect little crafts, and worksheets and this and that for her kids all the time. For the most part, I leave them to their own imaginations (which isn't always a good thing...), but many days there comes a point when they just can't seem to come up with anything to do on their own (except fight - they're really good at that),  and Mommy is left trying to find something for them to do.

We've had quite a few days lately when it's rained all day long, so they don't have a whole lot of time to play outside (I can only take so many clothing changes and muddy feet-tracks through my house before my mommy-brain starts vibrating and steaming, and that's never a good thing), and today was one of those days. We made it most of the day, but after supper they were wired, high voltage, high volume, high speed - just HIGH, mostly, and they NEEDED something to do. Ju decided she wanted to do some kind of an art project, so I randomly decided to try salt-painting.

Now, if you use Pinterest much at all, you've probably seen one of the many salt-painting projects running around. If you haven't, feel free to go search 'salt painting' on Pinterest right now. I'll wait until you get back...
...alrighty, then. Satisfied your curiosity now? No?
Then by all means, keep reading.

The idea of salt painting is basically this:

First, get your supplies -
A bottle of basic white school glue (elmer's, store-brand - we used both),
Paper (we used plain ol' printer paper, but something heavier would be better, if you have it),
Salt (the regular table variety)
Eyedroppers, medicine droppers, paintbrushes - whatever suits your fancy (more on that later)
Food Coloring

I put about 1 tablespoon of water in each of those dandy little containers 
(you can get them for about $2 each at Walmart - just buy a can of Great Value brand cinnamon rolls, open them up, and there's a handy-dandy little white plastic container in there with icing in it. Just dump the icing out, wash the container, and you're ready to go. Of course, if you don't want to be wasteful, you can eat the cinnamon rolls and all that... or you can just use whatever you have.), then I added about 3 drops of food coloring to each one. Swirl it around carefully, or stir it with a toothpick or something.

Ok. Now that you've got all that done, take the glue and draw a picture on the paper with it. (Alternatively, you can draw a picture with a pencil and trace it with the glue - whatever floats your boat. We did both.)

Once you have your picture done to your liking, pour salt all over it.

We found it just as easy to just dump the salt on the paper and then tip the paper every which way, sliding the salt all over. You want the glue to be thoroughly coated in salt. 

It will look kind of like this when it is done:

Now, take some of the colored water in your dropper (or whatever you're using), and drop a bit on the salt/glue. The fun part is that it slowly begins to creep down the line from wherever you drop it.

Add more colors and watch them mix together and make new colors...

And you have a pretty little painting. 
In theory, right?

And it's all very neat, not terribly messy, etc. 

Well, yeah, if you're a steady-handed, mostly sane Mommy. (Which I'm not, particularly)

Not so much if you're a not-so-steady-handed, somewhat rambunctious, four-year-old.

A little better for a somewhat-of-a-perfectionist, artistically-inclined seven-year-old.

But fun for both.

The seven-year-old was pretty careful with it and enjoyed dropping the colors on just so, and making a pretty pictures; here's some of her work:

She kept hers fairly well to thin lines of glue, and as much salt would stick to it, and it it colored nicely. Watching the dye creep down the salt lines is pretty cool, and for the kids, it's neat for them to see how the colors mix and make new colors.

The four-year-old...well, he though it was awesome to thoroughly saturate everything with glue...and salt...and dye. Here's some of his work:

(We all have talents...drawing dinosaurs isn't one of mine - but hey, they made him happy!! :) Oh, and the top right blue/green/yellow one is hers, not his.)

Yes, He likes green. what was your first clue? He pretty well tried to empty the whole container of green on his own. 

The all-green dinosaur on the left, he spread glue pretty heavily over the whole thing and then dumped large quantities of salt over it. The salt was pretty wet, though, from the glue, and didn't take the dye as dramatically. Which, of course, didn't bother him - he just poured on lots of it...I had to pour some of it off, and the rest soaked through the paper and left a puddle underneath. All of his paintings I set on paper towels, and after ten minutes or so, removed the towels - they were pretty well soaked. It helped to get some of the puddles off the paintings, though.

A note regarding the droppers/paintbrushes/etc. 
I've seen different people recommend different things. We tried them all - paintbrushes, Q-tips, eyedroppers, and a medicine syringe.
We had NO luck with the paintbrushes and Q-tips.
The best seemed to be the glass eyedropper shown here. With it we had the best control over where the dye went and how much.

That being said, the boy preferred the syringe - it was messy and hard to control the amount that came out, but that was right up his alley. He loved squirting it all over the paper.

So, Did it Work? 

Yes. Although our paintings didn't turn out nearly so neat and precise as some of the ones on Pinterest, it worked. It was messy, but the kids really had fun. By the time they quit, they had used up all of the dye in all the containers (I added a container of red later, so they had four altogether), about four of those little cups of salt (probably about 1 cup in all), large quantities of glue, and the table was covered in artwork. Oh, and did I mention it was messy? The floor around the table ended up pretty crunchy from the salt, and we had to sop up puddles from the table several times, but I had a vinyl tablecloth on, and the floor is sweepable, so it cleaned up pretty fast.

Most of, it kept them occupied for a while and they enjoyed it.
It was not, however, an activity I could give them and leave them to it - I had to stay and help the little one the whole time, mostly so he didn't start randomly squirting dye at his sister and everything else in sight, but still...not something you'd want to start if you aren't available to help.

As of a couple hours late, they weren't dry. We'll see what they look like in the morning.

So, it's wet, it's messy, but it really does work!

Go make some salt paintings! You know you want to!!! :-D

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What I Need.

It's the beginning of a brand new year.
(ok, it was when I started writing this...then time got away from me. That's what happens when you put things off!)
With each new year that comes, people are fond of making 'resolutions'; vowing to themselves that they are going to change in the year ahead. Whether it be behaviours that need tending, habits that need broken, weight that needs to be lost - the list goes on and on - with the new year, for many, comes the desire for a new start, a new lease on life.

Sadly, most of the changes they make are not lasting ones, and by the time January is gone, most New Year's Resolutions have already been broken - thrown, crumpled and unheeded by the wayside.

I've never been much of a resolution-maker. I tend to be fairly pragmatic about things, and to my way of thinking, if something needs changed it needs done now - if I don't have the will-power to make the change sometime in, say, September, then the likelihood of my doing it just because it is the beginning of a new year is no better. Like many people, I have lots of grand ideas for things that 'need' doing - projects that 'need' done, plans that 'need' to be accomplished, and like most, I have less 'git'er done' than 'dream it up'.

Yes, there are things I'd like to see done this year. There are things that should probably be changed. There are things I want...

But what do I need? What does my family need?

We humans tend to put our 'wants' in the need column:

"Oh, I NEED that dress!"

"I absolutely HAVE to have those shoes."

"We NEED a bigger house."

We NEED this...we NEED that...

But do we really NEED it?

I like pretty clothes as much as the next girl - but do I NEED them? The large quantities of clothing, shoes and accessories in my closet and dressers (and everywhere else) tells me I don't. I need clothes to cover my body and to keep me warm, but I have more than I need.

While I'd like a bigger, nicer house,  do I need one? I have a roof over my head, my family is warm and dry  - what more do I need?

We have food in the refrigerator...and the freezer...and the pantry...we won't go hungry anytime soon - which is more than many people even here in America can say.

So, what do I really need?
What is ONE thing that I can really say, "I NEED that" in 2014?

I NEED Jesus.

Mind if I say it again?


More than anything else in this world, I need Him.

Why do I need Him?

Because in myself I am a sinner and I need a Saviour. I cannot save myself. I cannot make myself 'good enough' to be fit for Heaven - but He can.

Because on my own I am weak and I need His strength. 

Because alone I don't know where to go or what to do - I need someone to guide me. 

Because when I'm sad, or lonely, or just plain tired of living, tired of fighting...I need a Comfort that I can trust to be there for me no matter what.

Because when I'm facing things that I can't explain to anyone, I need someone who will listen to my heart - and knows what I'm facing without me ever speaking a word. I need an Intercessor to pray for me when I can't pray for myself.

Because, as a parent, I alone am incapable of raising my children to be respectable God-fearing adults - 

  • I need a Teacher to teach me so that I can teach them. 
  • I need an Example to follow so that I can be an example for them.
Because on the days that I wonder, "Why am I here? What is the purpose in my life?", HE is the meaning, and knowing Him gives me a purpose for living.

Why do I need Him?

Because without Him I am nothing; I have no reason to live; I haven't the strength to keep plodding on day after day...

But with Him, I have everything. 

I can wake up each morning with the realization that no matter how awkward and unlovable I feel, there is Someone who loves me beyond measure; that no matter how many times I fail Him, He will always be there for me. 

And believe me, I fail Him often. 
But when I do, I can get back up and reach out to Him, and He will always pick me up, brush me off, and set me on my way again.

When I look at my children, I am reminded time and again how much God cares for us. So often, I explain to them just what I expect of them; I tell them plainly to make sure they understand. And yet, five minutes later, I can turn around and find them doing the very thing they were just told not to do. How many times have I said to one of them, "You shouldn't do that, because this and this will happen if you do", only to watch them do it anyway - and get hurt in the the process, just like I said they would. And once again, I pick them up, brush them off, fuss at them, and send them on their way again. No matter how many times they disobey or forget, I still love them, and when they come running to me, I'll hug them and kiss them and tell them everything's gonna be all right.

But, unlike God, I get impatient with my children. I fuss at them when they don't do things right. Some days I yell at them much more than I should...

That's why I need Jesus.

God has never done that with me, but too often I fail to follow His example.

That's why I have GOT to have Jesus.

So, this year, I have no fancy list of resolutions - no pile of projects to accomplish. In fact, I have only one resolution:

I MUST have more of Jesus.

I have one deep supreme desire, that I may be like Jesus.
To this I fervently aspire, that I may be like Jesus.
I want my heart His throne to be, so that a watching world may see
His likeness shining forth in me; I want to be like Jesus.

Oh, perfect life of Christ my Lord, I want to be like Jesus.
My recompense and my reward, that I may be like Jesus.
His Spirit fill my hung'ring soul, His power all my life control;
My deepest pray'r, my highest goal, that I may be like Jesus.
(from the song, "I Want to Be Like Jesus", by Thomas Chisolm)

Friday, January 31, 2014


Today, as I was scrolling through my facebook feed, I saw a link to an article posted, clicked on it, and read it.
It was the story of a five month old baby boy who died after being left by his parents in his car seat for eight days. EIGHT DAYS, with no diaper changes, no one to pick him up and hold him, apparently even no one feeding him, other than the mother saying she stuck a bottle in the carseat beside him, assuming he would feed himself (at five months old).

(You can read the story here, if you really want to torture yourself)

Instantly on reading the article, I was sickened, saddened, and horrified.

I've been seeing articles on things like this happening all together too often lately. Even ONCE is too often, but it seems like in the last several months I've seen several different instances of babies dying due to gross neglect on the part of the parents.
It makes me sick to read about it. It makes me angry to think of those poor innocent babies left to die. It confuses me - how can a woman carry and give birth to a child and then seemingly forget that that child even exists?! In at least two instances, the parents of the child were said to have been 'playing video games with friends' during much of the time that the baby was left alone.
One thought that stands out to me, though, is this -

When did parents stop teaching their children responsibility? Do the majority of American parents no longer teach their children to take responsibility for their actions? Are kids no longer taught to think of someone besides themselves?  

Just the other day I happened upon Yahoo! Answers, and saw a question from a girl wondering if she could be pregnant (there's a lot of those on there, unfortunately); upon closer examination, she told the story that she had been pregnant, had an abortion, had already had unprotected sex with her boyfriend, and then, a WEEK after her abortion, was already afraid she had gotten herself pregnant again. After reading that, my curiosity got the best of me and I looked around a few minutes longer and discovered several others that had the same basic story...some of them having had multiple abortions already.

I came away from there sickened. And I wondered - do young people today not have ANY sense of responsibility? Does it not even cross their minds that just because something feels good, maybe, just maybe, it might not be the smartest thing to do? Do they go into relationships with the thought in mind that, well, if they WERE to happen to make a baby (because, you know, that  IS a well-known side effect of having least, I THINK it is...), then they'll just abort it and go on their merry way?

I thought I was still a fairly young person, but if that's the way young people think today, I'll gladly be an old lady.

I don't want this to turn into another piece about abortion - I wrote on that a while back. My point was more about kids that bring a child into the world (choosing NOT to abort it) and then kill that same child with neglect only a few short months later. (I just got off on a tangent there...sorry)

Since when are video games more important than the life of another human being - no matter how small? Have we (and I use the tern 'we' loosely, referring to parents today) raised a generation of people that have no moral compass whatsoever? Are they so removed from reality that they can justify leaving their own flesh and blood to rot in their own waste?! Apparently so, at least in this case, as the article stated that the father of the child, a 23-year-old, "showed a complete and total lack of remorse for the death of his son."

God help us.

God help me, as a parent, to bring my children up knowing right from wrong, and to teach them to take responsibility for their actions; to teach them to love others, to think of those less fortunate than they.
God help me to show them how a parent should love their children, and put the needs of those children before their own desires; to teach them not to be selfish, but loving, and giving.

There's a meme that's gone around the inter-webs a few times now, that states:

"We talk so much about leaving a better world for our children...but we forget about leaving better children for our world."

The facts are these: 
We can moan and groan about, "What is this world coming to?",  and bewail the rising crime and the increasing numbers of seemingly totally amoral people in the world today, but until we take ourselves up be the seat of our pants and determine to DO SOMETHING about it, nothing is going to change.  

If we continue to promote the ideas that telling our children "no" will somehow scar them, and allowing them to act like small tyrants is acceptable, NOTHING is going to change. We have to teach them while they're teachable, for when they're grown it's too late!  I'm not saying that it's impossible for a person to change when they're grown, but the likelihood is small. If a child is allowed to run the home as a child, and never disciplined for fear of causing 'trauma' to their poor little personalities, they will grown into undisciplined adults; if they aren't taught responsibility when they're young, they will grow into irresponsible adults.

Take note: I am NOT in any way advocating child abuse. There is a world  of difference between lovingly disciplining your children and abusing them. 

Is the madness ever going to end? 

No, probably not. According to the Bible, evil is always present, and always will be, as long as Satan is still alive and well. But it also tells us that we can overcome evil with good.
Where does good come from?
Again, the Bible tells us that all goodness is from God...and that apart from Him there is NO ONE good in and of themselves. It is only through Christ that we can be truly good. 

How do we overcome the evil in this world?
We can begin by teaching our children.
And how do we teach our children to be good?

Introduce them to the only one who can actually help them.
(And in the mean time, a little discipline won't hurt.)

Do I understand why God allows events like this one I mentioned to happen?

No. I doubt I ever will.
I do know that that baby is infinitely better off with Jesus than with the sorry excuse for parents he had.
But that doesn't always ease the pain.

All I can do is leave that in God's hands and resolve, with everything in me, to teach my children better.

And that is what I will do.