5 Tips For Moving With Kids Without Losing Your Sh!t

I am in the midst of the Sisyphean task of moving across the country with two kids under two and my in-laws. My partner works 14 hour days, so when I’m not worrying about packing, I’m debating whether it’s too early for wine or too late for more coffee.

I’m a teacher- I like routine, I like knowing what’s next, I like putting things back in the correct place. Moving is none of those things. My life looks like there was a huge party last night that I wasn’t invited to and everyone left before cleaning up. Things. Are. Everywhere.

So please, learn from my mistakes. May they save you time, money and sanity.

5. Have a photo shoot in your home.

Ok, this won’t save you time or money. This was our first home and leaving it feels like leaving a piece of myself. These photos give me that piece back. I brought both my kids home from the hospital here. We had our post- wedding brunch here. And although I complained daily about the lack of storage space and cheap cabinets and endless trail of child mess to clean up – the thought of walking out of here broke my heart. So in the middle of moving chaos, we had a photo shoot (this doubled as my 3-month-old son’s “newborn” shoot hahaha). Luckily, we have a great relationship with our wedding photographers, Rudy and Marta. We had relaxed, “lifestyle” photos taken celebrating the everyday moments. More than that, Rudy managed to capture quiet corners and sentimental objects around our home – these mean just as much to me as the ones of our family.


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4. Toss It, Sell It, Give It Away

While I was bingeing on Real Housewives and Intervention, I could have been making money selling my stuff.  About three weeks before our move date, I started selling a lot of my kids’ things – our wagon, a bassinet, maternity clothes, even unopened breastfeeding pads. And PEOPLE BOUGHT THEM! I was floored. There was a bidding war on my daughter’s umbrella covered plastic swimming pool! Someone snatched up my IKEA couch that had survived constant attacks by kittens, tiny humans, and a sloppy husband! I used the app LetGo, Craigslist and a FaceBook group. If I had started this process earlier, I could have been more patient and choosy about buyers and prices. But I just wanted everything gone. I also donated a bunch of things. Again- if I had started earlier, I could have researched different organizations (other than Goodwill) to donate to.



A couch-less Grandpa and Little One


3. Get Help Packing 

My original plan was to pack while the kids were napping and after I put them to bed. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I actually tried this one night. Armed with Red Zinfandel and a podcast, I tackled my art supplies, but three glasses and 40 minutes later I was just sitting there surrounded by boxes, too wrapped up in S-Town to do anything. The reality is when the kids are napping or in bed, I’m usually doing the same thing. Or other glorious tasks such as cleaning, taking a shower and arguing with my student loan company on the phone. With a week to go, I panicked and hired our much-loved babysitter every day for four hours. She took my energetic two-year-old and the baby and I packed our hearts out. We have no family here but with better planning, I could have arranged a childcare swap with one of my mom friends.

2. Start With The Small Stuff

The pens, the loose change, the rubber bands, the IKEA tools that I should probably throw out but can’t part with because WHAT IF I NEED THEM ONE DAY? One rare weekend when my significant other was home from work, I asked him for help packing. I walked in the room and he was organizing markers and pens into piles and rubber banding them together. I lost my mind.  Why was he organizing this measly junk drawer when we have entire closets and toy bins to pack?! I now know why. After the movers left and all my giant, heavy items were out of the house, this is what I was left with. Important Junk. These are the items that drove me to drink. I sorted as much of it as I could into a giveaway pile or the trash but I literally have boxes labeled “Miscellaneous Shit” and “IDK” that will now haunt me at our new abode.



So many pens, so little time.



1.  Hire Movers

I’m cheap. It seemed like we didn’t have that much stuff. How hard could it be to carry boxes a few feet from my front door to the POD? Um, SUPER HARD. Even if I didn’t have a toddler underfoot and an infant to breastfeed it STILL would have been hard. I hired movers from a referral list that POD’s emailed me. Two guys came armed with giant saran wrap and dollies and had my three bedroom house empty in an hour and a half. This company didn’t charge by the hour – it was a flat fee of around $600. There are most definitely better deals out there if you do your research – I just didn’t have the time or energy. I also have friends that posted an ad on craigslist and hired people that way. How ever you do it – get help!




We actually forgot that lampshade. Too late to go back? Maybe at night?



Happy Packing!

Cityscape Prints

Printmaking with 4th graders involved endless steps and massive clean up – but it was so worth it! Using styrofoam, students print a cityscape on a painted piece of paper. Beware – they were quick to point out that it’s not a TRUE reflection. I didn’t have a good comeback for that one so I just stopped calling them reflective cityscapes.

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4th Grade Printed Cityscape

I got the idea for the lesson here and had to try it out. Class 1: I hooked them in with this video of the worlds weirdest buildings. After sketching a rough draft, they drew their buildings on a piece of square foam (I helped them cut off the space above their buildings).


Class 2: Now that we had our awesome city “stamp”, it was time to create the background. Using watercolors, they painted half of their paper with cool colors and the other half with warm colors.


Class 3: Printing Time! This took the most prep. I explained what all the tools and materials were and my exact expectations (how many people at a station, what do I do with my paper when I’m done, who cleans up what, etc…). I actually reinforced this by writing the steps on big index cards and passing them out to students randomly as they came in the door. When my demo was done, I asked who had what number card and they came up to the front of the class to read the steps again in order.


Early finishers – the process of printing is super short. Roll ink on your stamp and press. Then you have a bunch of kids milling around with nothing to do. I set up a big sheet of paper on the board. When kids were done with their individual prints, they could print on the “class” cityscape.



Here are some finished pieces:

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Three Cityscapes made it to the Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival!

Mouse Paint

One of my favorite books for introducing about color is Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Now, there’s an abundance of resources online for using this book but the best one I’ve found is by Cassie Stephens. She has a awesome, simple tutorial for drawing mice that you can find here. And because it’s a “video” and because it’s not my voice the kids, of course,  were engrossed – like a fire alarm could have went off and they wouldn’t have budged.


After drawing the mice, I gave them a paper plate pallet and let them go to town. I love hearing the excited shouts as they blend secondary colors for the first time – “Wow! I made purrrple!” ” OMG – Ms. Shirley – Green! Come look!”

My classroom is organized by tables with colors, so another way I reinforce what we have learned that day is saying “if you sit at a primary colored table, you may line up”.


Happy painting! 🙂

Pop Art Animals

Look out! My classroom is full of dart frogs, falcons and one angry, great white shark!

Second graders have been studying endangered animals and of course we had to S.T.E.A.M it out and do some awesome animal paintings.

Students started out by sketching out their animal (I printed out a picture and if I could find it – a step by step instructional on how to draw that particular animal). This was the hardest part for them because of the constant what if it doesn’t come out right fear (we all have it, second graders are just more vocal about it).


Just starting to paint that background


Students started out by sketching their animals


After sketching out their animal, they used a ruler to create a geometric background and painted with bright, “pop-arty” colors (that’s a technical term). The final step was outlining the animal in sharpie. I gave them a worksheet that you can download here EndangeredAnimal – explaining all the steps.


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Colorful Chameleons

First grade started their unit in color! After reading the book A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni, I showed the class how to draw chameleons step by step (weird voices help – and letting them put their own twist on them like a mad face, etc.)


Next was the fun part – painting! I kind of let them go wild here. My only suggestion – draw out six circles on a plate and only give them the primary colors so they have to practice mixing. The circles prevent a giant mud mess, seen in the red plate below.


Oh one last thing – the kids will explode with excitement if you show them this video of a chameleon changing colors as an intro or wrap up.


Lego Selfies

I came across this project on a really cool art education blog  and knew my fourth graders would love it. After a mini-lesson on the basic shapes that make up a lego body, students dove right in. The next class was all about creating value through shadows and/or color. I gave them a blank lego figure  (like the one below)

to practice techniques in creating value – this REALLY made their final pieces successful. Students could choose from oil pastels, colored pencils or markers to add color and value to their self-portraits.


Everglades and Art Competitions


Student using a viewfinder to draw the details of a butterfly native to the Florida Everglades

Art competitions are a controversial subject among teachers. Do you risk getting a student’s hopes up? Who’s judging these things anyway? And isn’t is about the process not the product?

With these thoughts in mind, I made the decision take part in a juried art exhibit called Literacy Through Art at the Hart Memorial Library. The theme of the show was Florida history and culture – and what’s more exciting about Florida than the Everglades?!


Students adding details to their Everglade animals


Look at that Egret!

As a class we read the book Everglades by Jean Craighead George, which has spectacular illustrations. To bring the book to life, we closed our eyes and listened to sounds of the Everglades (I also played this while they were working). Students created a sawgrass background with watercolors and then chose an animal native to the Everglades to draw. Lastly, they created a collage using their animal and thin strips of their background. The results were phenomenal and one of my first graders


This talented first grader won Best in Show!!

won best in show!!


Gluing “sawgrass” on top of an egret



Our artwork at the library

Proud teacher and ecstatic students

Proud teacher and students SO ecstatic I had to hide their faces

Pop Art Self Portraits

Oh Pop Art – the source of endless interesting discussions/potential projects/pinterest pages. Alas, I could only fit in one self portrait project inspired by Lichtenstein.

Pop Art Self Portraits. www.artroomadventures.com

Pop Art Self Portraits

Fourth and fifth grades spent about four classes drawing their portrait on pre-dotted paper, adding color using colored pencils and paint and outlining in sharpie.

pop art self portraits artroomadventures.com

Pop Art Self Portraits from four students

As an intro (what I call my “do-now”) to the lesson, students examined pictures I cut out of magazines using magnifying glasses to help them understand the concept of ben-day dots.

Pop Art Self Portraits artroomadventures.com

Pop Art Self Portrait www.artroomadventures.com

pop art self portrait www.artroomadventures.com

Sharpie Wielding Six-Year-Olds

I really believe students will live up to your expectations – if you expect great things, they will show you that. If you expect a room full of chaos – they will show you that too.


A kindergartener using a sharpie


A sharpie wielding kindergarten artist

With this in mind, I took a chance and used permanent markers with kindergarten and first grade. And they rocked it!

We read the book, Look! Look! Look! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. After showing students step by step how to draw a cartoon mouse (and explaining it was ok if their mouse looked different from their neighbors) in pencil, they outlined them in sharpie and finally added watercolor. I dread the cookie-cutter, pinterest-y perfect art project. To avoid this I let students add any accessories – clothes, glasses, fur, food, etc. to their mouse. They also chose their own colors.


Superhero Mouse


Yay watercolors!


Students painting their mice.


Exploring with watercolors


This mouse had bat wings


Ok, ok, there was ONE class that just wasn’t ready for sharpies or paint – no matter how great my expectations were.

Check out my responsible artists!

Maternity Leave in the Art Room

A short seven weeks ago, I was running around my classroom finishing up prepping for maternity leave. Frantically photocopying, finishing power points and furiously organizing supplies. This is partly because I am a notorious procrastinator and partly because I wanted everything to be perfect. I left that evening with the cleaning crew – pretty satisfied my kids (and classroom) would survive twelve weeks without me.

A few days later my daughter Maya was born.

I made this!

Mommy and Maya

It was an emotional whirlwind of exhaustion and joy. As each of my friends asked how motherhood was all I could come up with was a lame, “everything is different”. Trying to describe the first few weeks of parenthood is like trying to describe the color blue to a person with no sight. I recently read a quote by the artist Sarah Walker in an article about motherhood changing your brain that came kind of close. She said, “becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in a house where you already live”. So, it’s kind of like that. And like being in love while severely sleep deprived.

So for the next few weeks, this love-struck, bleary eyed parent will be sharing fabulous art projects we did in the classroom  but that I never got around to posting.