The start of another school year

All weekend Hope could hardly contain her excitement as she counted down the beginning of the school year. Last night she was sure to remind me that there’d be just a few more hours until she started second grade and that next year she’d be in third grade. I reminded her not to rush growing up. This morning we got back into our school routine and Hope was up and ready much earlier than expected. She even packed her own lunch before I had the chance to!

Last year on her first day of school Hope begged to ride to and from school on the bus. This year she wanted to ride in the van to school and ride the bus home. Here are a few pictures of my big second grader before school.

Hope before leaving for school

Hope before leaving for school

thumbs up for second grade

When we dropped her off at school she waved bye and walked into school. Yes, I missed her a little more today.

dropping Hope off at school

off to second grade

While Hope was at school Jaylen and I had fun with one another. He was glued to his magna doodle for a portion of the morning.

magna doodling

And we colored.


Yes, coloring makes my little man happy. I just love to see his huge smiles.

coloring makes him happy!

He had a tough time deciding on what crayon to use, so he grabbed a handful.

my little artist

Of course he was eager to hand me crayons so I could color too. I suppose that was his way of asking me to put the camera down.

he kept handing me crayons

And yes, he colored quite contently for quite a bit this morning.

my little artist

I have really come to admire how loving this little guy has become lately. He must have known I was needing a hug this morning.


He’s been a smoochy little fellow lately, here’s his adorable little smoochy face that I just adore.

mr. smoochy

By this afternoon Jaylen was quite excited to go for a ride in the wagon to pick up his big sis. You can just see it in the smile on his face.

he likes riding in the wagon!

So we walked, in the Florida heat. Jason pulled Jaylen in the wagon as I took pictures.

on the way to pick Hope up

By the time we got to the bus stop Jaylen began rubbing his eyes and seemed a little tired. He leaned against the wagon looking a little tuckered out.

he was tired of waiting

A moment later he crashed.

a second later he crashed

With it being the first day of school we ended up waiting longer than usual for Hope’s bus to arrive. We waited nearly 40 minutes for her bus.

236/365: waiting for Hope

napping while we waited for Hope's bus

Hope’s bus finally arrived and she was the first one off the bus.

getting off the bus on the first day of school

I admit I was happy to see my big second grader finally home.

Yay...she's home!

She proudly gave her daddy a high five as he congratulated her on her first day of second grade.

High five!

I was standing a short distance away taking pictures and Jason and our neighbors were sure to point out I was waiting for her to arrive home too.

just take a guess who they're pointing at!

We walked home as Hope told us about her first day of second grade.

walking home from the bus

walking home

She made sure to tell us that her teacher would let her put stickers on her folder. And she was excited to learn that her teacher had a chihuahua. She told us all about some of her classmates and about music class. She was also proud to let us know she was the line leader this week in school!

telling her daddy all about her day

By the time we arrived home Hope again reminded me that pretty soon she’d be in third grade. I again had to remind her not to rush second grade, her Momma’s not quite ready for third grade.

Published in: on August 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm  Comments (1)  

On my way to Savannah again!

I received the phone call I’ve been waiting all month for this past Friday and by Saturday I received the official written confirmation that I’ve been accepted into the masters program at Savannah College of Art & Design. The first part of the letter was just the reassurance I needed as I begin another degree:

“Dear Amanda:
I am pleased to announce that you have been accepted for enrollment in the master of fine arts program in graphic design. Acceptance is competitive and you are to be commended for this achievement. Congratulations!”

234/365: The acceptance letter

Phew. Not that I was quite as worried about being accepted as I was about beginning by this fall. I submitted my application just prior to the deadline and have been anxiously awaiting word so that I could begin preparations. I will begin this fall quarter which starts September 14th – so it’s only a matter of time before life gets even busier.

For those of you worried that I’m leaving for Savannah, please don’t. In fact, I have yet to visit Savannah, even after finishing my bachelor’s degree there. I’m sure someday I’ll pay Savannah a visit but for now I’ll be pursuing my degree completely online just like I did with my bachelor’s.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to offer support and encouragement – it certainly helps fuel my energy as I embark on achieving many more goals in life!

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Second what?!

Second grade, that is. Yes, my baby girl will start the second grade this week. As we went to meet the teacher this past Friday I was reminded how quickly time has flown since she began school. Here she is visiting her second grade class for the first time Friday.

Hope visiting her second grade class for the first time

She was very excited to visit her new class and teacher. All summer long she’s talked about her excitement of starting second grade. Her excitement continued when she learned her class would be upstairs. And at the start of the year she’ll be sitting up front and center! Though she was a little shy, Jason made sure she asked him all the questions on her mind before we left her class.

Hope asking Jason a question at meet the teacher

Yes, I’m equally thrilled to see how much fun Jason has accompanying Hope to school events like meet the teacher. It was nice to meet Hope’s teacher but it made Jason’s day to learn her and her husband are also cubbies fans! 🙂 She made sure to let me know that she was forewarned that I take lots of pictures and that she was very supportive of it. Woohoo! Before we left I took a quick photo of Hope & Mrs. Myers.

233/365: Hope & her second grade teacher

Before leaving school we visited Hope’s previous teachers. Here’s Hope with her first grade teacher, Ms. Aubin.

Hope & Ms. Aubin

Hope was thrilled to run into her music and art teachers to let them know that she’s been busy with piano and art lessons this summer. Yes, she hopes to someday get to play a song on the piano for her music teacher.

Hope chatting with her music and art teachers

It seems like just yesterday that we were visiting Hope’s kindergarten class for the first time. When we visited this year it really put into perspective how much Hope has grown in just two short years as we passed the little kindergarteners coming in and out of her old class. Here’s Hope chatting with her kindergarten teacher.

visiting her kindergarten teacher

visiting her kindergarten teacher

As we chatted, the kids stood there in her old kindergarten classroom and I realized WOW…time has flown. This time two years ago this little guy wasn’t even born and here he was standing in class beside Hope as we realized it won’t be long and it’ll be him in school. But let’s not rush it – I’d like to keep him little for a while longer.

Here we go…off to second grade. (And yes, Hope reminded me just yesterday that it won’t be long and she’ll be in third grade.)

Published in: on August 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Map to My Mind

Earlier this year I discovered I’d have the opportunity to display some work in Valencia’s faculty graphics art exhibition. The theme for this year’s art exhibition just happened to be “self portraits squared”. I spent a lot of time this year brainstorming ideas and came to the conclusion that creating a mindmap would be a perfect solution. I attribute the fact that my mind tends to think of most things lately in mindmap form to the time I spent training with O’reilly. Ever since that experience I suppose you could say I’ve been corrupted by intertwining thoughts on paper. In the past I’ve been known to mindmap for personal ideas, training, as well as research papers [1] [2].

After over 60+ hours of work this past week I am quite thrilled to finally share the process I’ve taken to complete my mindmap project which I’ve dubbed, “The Map to Mind”. Here’s a screenshot of the project:

The Map to My Mind

When I first began this project I envisioned this project ending up similar to my very first 365 photo, just a little more complex and better planned out. I designed the project at 24″ x 24″ and began using InDesign to set my type in small sections. My hopes were that some aspects were hand rendered, yet still resembled some of the qualities in the original fonts used. As I worked I would print out small sheets at a time and would use a pencil rubbed against the back of the print out to act as a “transfer” as I traced each of the letters to maintain similar qualities to the original font used, just hand rendered. This became a tedious process – setting type on the computer, transferring in pencil and then drawing the letters with ink. Other things I chose to just scribble my own chicken scratch. Every time I’d create new type I’d photomontage the type using photoshop. After I got far enough along I printed out parts of the project and added my own writing to the project. After a day or two my hand was ready to fall off! Here’s a screenshot of many of the words I hand rendered along with printouts.

mindmap process

In my project I chose to make some phrases stand out more than others. Like this one:

mindmap process

Having InDesign to help set the type helped me keep some of the more complex thoughts organized like this one:

mindmap process

I found this mindmap a great way to express the many thoughts that run through my mind like these two:

mindmap process

mindmap process

I admit there were times I thought I’d never finish. I can’t thank my family enough for putting up with me the last week as I juggled this mindmap and final grades. I was completely immersed in this project most of the waking moments that I was not at work.

214/365: hand rendering type for my mind map

hand rendering type

Of course I had fun at times writing comical things, like my death wish on two of my least favorite fonts. I ended up being tortured hand rendering two fonts I despise – I ended up having to render them much larger to pull off getting the characteristics of the typefaces.

213/365: I have a death with on comic sans and papyrus

I made sure to include some iconic elements, such as logos, with hopes that it might add just enough interest to make viewers look at this project even more closely.

215/365: doodling after teaching all day

I decided I wanted to print this project large on canvas but at first was skeptical about how all the detail would print on a textured surface. I had used Artistic Photo Canvas once before for a canvas print and was pleased with the quality and service so I contacted them again about my concerns with printing the fine details. After reviewing my file they assured me every single word would print well and so I rushed my order to get it here to turn in for our faculty show. Less than two days after I ordered the canvas it arrived and I have to say I was thrilled with the quality of the canvas print. Here’s the 36″ x 36″ canvas print that I ordered:

The Map to my Mind

When I began this project I mentioned to Hope how I’d love to include one of her drawings of our family because she has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life. Of course she’s now at the age where I try not to force her to do anything – I wanted to be certain that if she wanted to be a small part of my project that it was at her own will. I mentioned it a few more times over the course of the week I worked on this project. She never created a drawing and by the time I finished this project it was late and to be honest, I was at the stage that i was eager to be done. Just a few hours after I placed my canvas order Hope came to me, not knowing I had ordered the canvas, and asked if I still wanted her to draw the picture for her. I had to explain to her that it was too late and as bad as I felt not having her work in my project, I made sure she understood that I never want to make her do anything against her will. She walked away and a few minutes later returned and handed me a paper with her drawing. I felt awful knowing how big of a heart she has. As I explained again to her that it was too late my creative thoughtful daughter became quite emotional as she realized the disappointment that had set in. As she was saddened I told her I had a better idea – that once the canvas arrived I’d see if she might be able to draw her picture directly on to the canvas. We practiced before hand and I did in fact let her draw her picture directly on the canvas.

putting the finishing touches on my mindmap

I let her draw on my mindmap!

Hope's addition to my mindmap

218/365: She helped complete my mindmap

Her drawing is definitely one of the most special and unique things in this mindmap project.

Mindmap canvas print close up

I also took a moment to sign my project – which I realized I forgot to do before printing.

Mindmap canvas print close up

I know the entire mindmap is tough to far away, so hopefully you all enjoy the close up shots of a few of my favorite parts.

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

Mindmap canvas print close up

The faculty show will be on display beginning August 21st on east campus through mid September with the reception opening on September 11th. I’m sure I may see some of you there.

Published in: on August 8, 2009 at 1:27 am  Comments (2)  

Hope’s creative summer

For the second year in a row I signed Hope up for art classes at Crealde. She just finished up her 6 week pint size picasso class last weekend so I thought I’d take a moment to share some of her artwork.

My favorite piece from this summer was her self portrait. For this class I stood by for a few minutes at the start of the class listening the instructions in hopes that Hope’s cousin Tyler might get to join her class for the day. As we waited, her teacher let the class know they could do self portraits that didn’t necessarily look like them, but yet still expressed who they were. The instructor showed examples of picasso’s work and mentioned how they could choose different color hair, eyes, or clothes and how it didn’t have to look identical to what they looked like in class. The kids sat at their tables and had mirrors to look into so it’s quite interesting to see the kids rendition of themselves. Hope of course instantly let me know she could paint herself with pink hair which she claims she would like to have someday.

Hope's self picasso

I was so thankful that the teacher was willing to let Tyler sit in class that day. Tyler had come down from Chicago to visit us for a few days. Hope and Tyler were inseparable so I just kept my fingers crossed that they’d be able to take the class together. Thankfully a few kids were absent so there was room. They had quite a bit of fun together and Tyler got to create his own self portait too.

199/365: Art class

We spent the summer at Crealde missing someone
Though this is Hope’s second summer in classes, all this past year she’s been in a few other classes. This summer’s class makes her 5th class at Crealde and the first class she’s taken at Crealde without her buddy Miscia. Hope mentioned a time or two how she missed her friend in class and how it wasn’t quite the same. Of course, I too agreed because as the kids were often in class together it meant myself and Jaylen were also missing our friend Sasha, Miscia’s mother. On the last day of class Jaylen played outside as we waited for Hope and at the very moment I took this photo it brought back memories of the first few classes the kids took together. It reminded me how we were all missing our friends a little more this summer.

we spent the summer at crealde missing someone

Of course, Crealde is a wonderful place for a photoshoot. Their campus on a lake is beautiful. Jaylen was as cute as could be as I took a few more photos of him.


213/365: Jaylen



Hope’s art show
On the last day of class the kids hang all their work they worked on in class and put it on display for their family. It’s a fun time to reflect on their artistic accomplishments. The moment Jaylen and I walked in the class Jaylen ran right to Hope and she picked him up. It was certainly a priceless moment.

greeting her brother after class

Hope first showed off her collage she made in class earlier that day.

her collage

I loved seeing her point out her self portrait again.

213/365: pointing out her self portrait

She also had a mixed media piece that was mostly watercolor and some pen and ink that said “I want all animals”. She drew several of the animals she “wanted”. Hopefully want = love because I don’t have room in my home for a horse, dog, cat, hamster, fish and baby duck . 🙂

pointing out her artwork

She still enjoys the messy pastels and had fun making something so colorful.

pointing our her pastel work

On the first day of class Hope got to draw something inspired by another artist. It’s a good way for the kids to learn about previous artists and their techniques. Hope chose the work of John Brewster. I’m not quite certain of the title but I imagine it was something influenced by her beginning her piano lessons this summer.

sharing her drawing

Here’s the artwork she was inspired by:


She was so eager to show me all her work and was very cooperative as I took lots of pictures. Before we left I asked her to let me take one last picture and this was the look I got.

the look she gives me to let me know she's had enough of me taking pictures of her

So yeah, I suppose she had enough of me taking pictures of her that day – but she hasn’t had enough of art lessons. She’s already showing a lot of interest for classes this fall, especially now that she’s close enough to move to the next age group. I imagine it won’t be long and I’ll have many more of Hope’s creative projects to share.

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 12:39 am  Comments (2)  

a few new videos

I thought I’d share a few recent videos that I just posted online. There are definitely many memorable moments that I’m glad we caught on video during this very busy summer!

We got rock band & guitar hero this year and Jason and the kids have a blast playing it. Jason’s family came to visit a few weeks ago and it was cute to see them all playing it. Jaylen loves it so much that now he even lets us know what song he wants to play. Check it out.

Jason’s brothers were in town with the kids and it was great seeing them all playing rock band together. Tyler, Hope and Jaylen really had fun rockin’ it out.

They were excited when Jason was able to download a spongebob song for them to play on rock band. Of course Tyler wasn’t too thrilled when I kept blocking his view of the tv. 🙂

Jaylen is becoming quite the little character squealing and growling like a little tiger. You get to see some of his cuteness in this video before Hope’s friend accidentally knocks him over.

These two are too cute together – this is how they are together most days.

The last week or two have been insanely busy and filled with stress and I have come to notice that this tends to cause Jaylen to be even more whiney. I’m confident he feeds off of every one of my emotions. So I apologize in advance – but if you want to see the moodiness I’ve experienced around my own stress, here it is.

Who needs toys when you have paper cups? Hope had found some paper cups we’ve had for what seems like years – and at first she began just stacking them for fun. Then her and Jaylen would knock them over. Well, it turned into a hilarious episode of throwing the cups around…who needs snowball fights when you’ve got cup fights. Those darn paper cups kept the kids busy for hours! I’m going to have to tell santa that we don’t need toys this year…and just to get more paper cups after seeing how excited the kids got over them.

Of course I missed the best part of Hope opening a package from Allison. She kept saying “cool” and “awesome” and was super excited but once the camera came out she was a little more reluctant…but still the kids do get quite excited when they receive packages, especially from Allison

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

205 days of 365 mosaic

As most of you are aware, I began this crazy idea to take a picture of my entire family, including the dog, at the start of the year. I know how crazy the idea sounds – 365 days of photos EVERY DAY with my family. In fact, I’ve found myself in the midst of this photography challenge asking myself on more than one ocassion, “what in the world am I thinking giving myself more unnecessary work?”

This summer I’ve passed the midway mark in completing this project and have spent sometime reflecting on the first half of 365. It’s overwhelming to look back at how many moments were captured and how many MORE moments were photographed that would likely have either never been photographed or may have never happened if it weren’t for this silly idea. I bring my camera with me about 90% of the time and have lost track of how many of my favorite moments photographed happened when I’d typically would have never had my camera with me. Though the year started with me challenging myself to take a photo every day of each of us – it’s pretty obvious that its tougher to JUST take one photo.

Our graphics faculty art exhibition is later this month and I’m thrilled to share with everyone what I’ve dubbed as “205 days of 365”. It’s a photomosaic made of 1553 of the best photos taken this past year. Yes, 1553 – that’s only a fraction of the estimated 15,000+ photos I’ve taken this year. Here’s my mosaic that will be on display at our graphics faculty art exhibition at Valencia Community College in late August.

205 days of 365

Now yes, I have to say that the idea of creating a mosaic sounded just as crazy as taking a picture every day this year. Months ago I looked into how to pull off making a mosaic, knowing it’d be a challenge to assemble such a tedious project. That’s when I ran across Picture Mosaics who specialize in making true photo mosaics. After looking through a gallery of previous mosaics they’ve helped create, I know that this was exactly what I wanted to do with my 365 photos for the faculty show.

Though Picture Mosaics helped assemble the mosaic, it was still a very tedious process on my end. I have been a little OCD with keeping my 365 photos organized this year which helped speed this process up some. I ended up using Lightroom to manually set the crop area for every single photo because I did not trust the computer to make the decision of where to crop the photo for me. Lightroom then exported all the photos for me together so that I wouldn’t have to open and save all 1553 photos. If it weren’t for lightroom I’d likely still be cropping and saving photos. Once I finished all the files were sent to Picture Mosaics and they made the mosaic using the source photo I wanted the smaller pictures to make up. I was impressed with how the mosaic came together and would definitely suggest trying Picture Mosaics if you’re ever considering a photo mosaic.

Of course mosaics are best viewed either at a distance or up close. I spent a while after receiving the mosaic analyzing all the photos that made up the mosaic. Looking at the mosaic was a great reflection on the first 205 days of 365. Here are a few closer screenshots from the mosaic.






Yes, I am still continuing 365, even after this insanely busy week of finishing final grades at Valencia, preparing 3 projects for our faculty art exhibition, and finishing up my portfolio for my masters at SCAD. I’ve got a week and a half worth of photos to sift through to share before I’m caught up but at this point there’s no giving up on 365 – and seeing this photo mosaic is just more fuel for me to finish of this challenge. Who knows, I may just need to make another mosaic at the end of the year. 🙂

If you’re interested in seeing more of the 365 picture up close you can check them out in flickr in my 365 collection.

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm  Comments (5)