Monday, August 30, 2010

Head Lice

Woke up with high blood sugar this morning. Haven't had breakfast or lunch so I'm feeling a little bobble headed. My son is doing well with his reading lessons. Still waiting to hear about my new computer and graphics software. Discovered a new website that I absolutely love. Designing new products for my Zazzle store has become quite addictive. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you will see what I mean. The possibilities are endless.

Here is another one of my articles for your reading pleasure. I think it's appropriate since school has just started and the pesky little lice varmints are at it again. Hope this is helpful.

Kids vs. Lice

It's that time of year, again. The days are getting shorter. Leaves are beginning to fall. Children are coming home from school with their scalps itching from head lice. Parents are scratching their heads, hoping it's not lice on their own heads, trying to decide what to do to eliminate their children's misery.

I vividly remember what I refer to as the year of our discontent. My two daughters were in the 6th grade and the 2nd grade. About a month after school started, that year, my oldest daughter came home from school one day complaining of itching at the base of her skull. I thought it was probably just dried shampoo that didn't get rinsed out of her hair. Her complaints went on for about a week. I looked closely at her scalp and saw a small bug crawling in her hair. It was then I realized she had lice. Her head was covered with them. I drove to the store and bought an off brand shampoo for lice. We followed the directions. We even placed all of her stuffed animals into plastic bags to remain in quarantine for three weeks. I washed all of her bedding and instructed her not to use anyone's combs or brushes while at school

The next day, she came home with another head full of lice. Within a week, her little sister also had a head full of lice. Back to the store we went. This time, I invested in the higher priced store brand of lice treatment shampoo. At home, her stuffed animals joined her big sister's in a plastic bag. The girls missed their stuffed animals and the itching continued, unabated.

At this point, I came to two possible conclusions. Either the lice treatment shampoos were not working or the girls were picking up new lice at school. It was time for another approach. I began having them flip their heads, upside down, over the bathtub. Then, I would brush their hair and watch, in agony, as dozens of black lice would drop onto the white, ceramic, surface of the bathtub. Next, I would use tiny scissors, going strand by strand, cutting single strands of hair. Each hair that had a lice egg attached, near the base, would be snipped and put into the trash. It took roughly two hours to complete this nightly ritual for both the girls.

After spending almost $100 on lice treatment shampoos and countless hours cutting eggs out by hand, the itching continued, still unabated. We were all at our wit's end. The girls were miserable. I began to dread the evenings, knowing I would be spending several hours cutting strands of hair while my girls patiently sat, waiting for me to finish. Oh, the misery didn't stop their. Now my own head began itching. My oldest daughter was enlisted to begin cutting lice eggs out of my hair. My husband and our son were not affected with this plague that had befallen our house. They both had very short hair. My girls and I all had longer than shoulder length hair. We even tried washing our hair with mayonnaise.  I was beginning to consider the possibility of shaving all our heads.

Finally, someone told us about a solution to our infestation. I was fall-on-my-knees grateful because it really did work. It's called a Robi Comb, a registered trademark of Epilady. It's basically an electric comb that runs on a  AA battery. It has metal teeth. When combed through the hair, an electric current shocks the lice and nits (eggs) and instantly kills them. Robi Combs are available at Walgreen's, and other drug stores, and sells for around $30.  Magicomb is another version of this type of device, but I personally have not tried it. Thirty dollars may seem like a great deal of money but the one I bought was well worth it. I had wasted much more than that on shampoos that did not work. I used the Robi Comb on myself and my girls every day for a week. We were lice free. Using it once a week, thereafter, kept us lice free. I still have the Robi Comb I bought fourteen years ago. It still works. I keep it just in case I ever need it again.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Best Friends vs. Authority Figures

While I am still waiting for Voc. Rehab. to contact me about my new computer and graphics software, I thought you might like to read an article I wrote for Associated Content.

Best Friends vs. Authority Figures

Should parents be best friends, authority figures, or both to their children? Only in recent years has this question plagued parents. In the past, parents were clearly expected, by society, to be authority figures to their children. Being friends with their children was not even a question to ponder. Parents who spoiled, or were too gentle with, their children were scorned and ridiculed by their peers. Children were expected to do what they were told and not talk back to their parents, teachers, or anyone in authority.
Extreme cases of this style of parenting sometimes led to child abuse. An inability to form loving connections to others was another consequence of this strict, authoritarian, style of parenting. Today, there is a growing trend for parents to be more worried that their children may get mad at them, or not like them, than they are concerned that their children learn to practice self control and to respect authority.

Is this new trend in parenting good for children and society in general? The answer to this question will give us the answer to the first question. The effects of parents being friends only to their children can be observed at an early age. Most of us have seen examples of this in grocery stores when small children are observed throwing temper tantrums to get what they want. The "friendly" parents are observed bargaining with these children or giving in to their screaming toddlers rather than standing firm and clearly stating the impending consequences of such disruptive behavior.

When these same children enter school, they are unprepared for such a structured setting where they are expected to behave themselves. Teachers must spend a great deal of time dealing with these children. They are then able to spend less time teaching or giving attention to the other students. There are no winners in this situation. The misbehaving child feels isolated because he/she is different from the other students. They are often teased by their peers for acting like a baby, and generally unable to benefit from the lessons being taught. The other students are less able to concentrate. The teacher is less able to teach.

During adolescence, the child being raised by "friendly" parents often has a home that looks and seems more like a flop house than a home. Children are coming and going at all hours of the day and night. There may be little to no adult supervision. Many of these children have almost unlimited access to alcohol, drugs, firearms, etc.

On December 5, 2007, a 19-year-old boy named Robert Hawkins walked into the Von Muar Mall in Omaha, Nebraska and shot to death eight people. Two others were wounded. Robert then turned the gun on himself, committing suicide, showing as little regard for his own life as he did his victim's lives. On January 7, 2009, Dr. Phil interviewed the gunman's mother, Molly. She admitted to smoking marijuana with her son because he told her that he really enjoyed doing this with the mother of one of his friends. Apparently, this killer's mother was so afraid that her child would like someone's else's mother more than herself, she was willing to break the law to please him. The new trend of "friendly" parenting is not good for society. While most cases of "friendly" parenting do not result in such extreme consequences, it is at this stage of development when the parents usually realize that their screaming toddler has turned into an almost grown man, or woman, who has no respect for themselves, or anyone else, and will stop at nothing to get their own way. Speaking of television shows, if it were not for “friendly parenting”, Supernanny would be out of a job.

After adolescence, these spoiled, disrespectful, and often dangerous, young adults are next turned loose on society. They are the young adults who can't keep jobs because their boss was mean and actually expected them to be on time and do a full day's work. Many of them refuse to leave home and continue to be provided for by their parents, who now feel guilty for not better preparing their children for adulthood, and are all too happy to relieve their guilt by continuing to give in to the demands of their children and not have their grown children mad at them.

Perhaps the answer to the question, "Should parents be best friends, authority figures, or both to their children?”, can best be answered by children themselves. In an informal survey of 52 high school students, conducted by this author on January 9, 2009, the results revealed a great deal of wisdom on the part of teenagers. 2% of the students believes that parents should be friends only. 10% of the students believes that parents should be authority figures only. 82% of the students believes that parents should be both best friends and authority figures to their children. 6% of those surveyed was undecided. Clearly, children themselves want to be both guided and provided with companionship by their parents. Isn't that what a true friend does, be a companion and offer guidance and support?

In conclusion, a balance between authority figure and friend is best for parents, children, and society. This approach is not easy. It requires a great deal of emotional and physical effort applied consistently over many years. The effort is well worth it when, as a parent, you witness the child you raised, both as a friend and with boundaries, guidelines and responsibilities, leave your home and become a productive, confident, joyful, member of society. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning To Read

Yay! The book I ordered for my son, Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, came in the mail yesterday. We had our first lesson last night. He did really well. He even made the sounds for "if" and "sister". I am even more encouraged now that he will learn to read with this book, just like his sisters did.

I hope you have been enjoying the "How To Draw" videos I have been posting. As you can tell, I have been experimenting with the best way to light my drawing table so that the paper comes out white in the video and so that the shadows aren't too harsh. In the first one I shot, "How to Draw A Caterpillar", the paper looked brown instead of white. The more light I put on it the darker the paper became. I finally had to call in the photography expert, my brother ( for assistance. He reminded me of something I had forgotten, since my days as an illustrator/photographer at Tinker Air Force Base. He reminded me that the automatic setting on a camera/camcorder will try to balance the scene to middle gray (halfway between black and white.) It was making the white paper look gray. That's why automatic cameras have a little snowman setting for shooting snowy scenes.

When I took away all the lights, except for one window light and one fill light on the other side, the exposure was much better and the paper looked more white. The only problem with this was that now, the camera had trouble focusing because there wasn't enough light. I moved the fill light closer and that helped it to be able to focus better. That light is so hot and bright that it creates a hot spot on the back of my drawing hand so I will purchase a cool fluorescent light for use in future videos.

If there are specific drawing/painting techniques you would like to see me post a video for, please leave a comment and I will see what I can do. I'm still waiting to hear from the Oklahoma Department of Vocational Rehabilitation about my new computer and illustration software. It's a wonderful program but they have so many clients, and so few counselors, that it does take quite awhile for things to get moving. I will keep you posted.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Count Your Blessings

The other day I read a blog posted by a young graphic designer who was complaining that she hated her job, had a big pimple, and her neighbor was mad at her because her garbage can stinks. I only wish those were my biggest problems. I wish I had a graphic design job to complain about. My handicapped son has acne so bad one whole side of his face looks like raw hamburger meat, and we have very little garbage because we use or reuse almost everything we have.

It really irritates me that so many young people just don't realize how good they have it. In this country they are given a free education and yet many of them sit in class and do nothing because they are bored and have no motivation to learn. They just want the bell to ring so they can go home and play on their video games. They are obsessed with their looks and spend tons of mommy and daddy's money on the latest fashions and make up and don't seem to have any thoughts deeper than which shoes would look best with these jeans. My car is the oldest and most beat up car in the parking lot at the high school where I work part-time as a substitute teacher.

Don't get me wrong. There are many young people who do work really hard, are polite and considerate of others, and are making a positive contribution to society. My daughters are among those and I am very proud of them, but they seem to be the acceptation to the rule.

It really concerns me that before long, these whining slackers who are the majority will be running this country and I will be really old and at their mercy. I can only hope to be raptured out of here before that happens. For now, I will go on studying computer graphics and do my best to earn a living with it. I will pray that my son's acne responds better to the medications he is on for it and be grateful to God that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and a home filled with love for one another.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Waiting Game

Since it will probably be several weeks before I get my new computer and Adobe Illustrator, I have downloaded a free program called GIMP. Since it is similar to Illustrator, I can practice on it. Too bad it does not use vector files. If it did, I could just use it and save the expense of Illustrator. In today's market though, I have to be able to create and send vector files.

I've added a new page to this blog. You can click on the "Oklahoma Red Dirt Artwork TM" on the right side of this page to see it.

On a personal note, my daughter is flying home from Germany today. Yay! She has been gone for 3 weeks and I can't wait to hug her. She and her grandmother and aunt have been gallivanting all over Germany and Austria. She got to go see where they filmed "The Sound of Music". She really had a good time and kept us all updated by posting pictures of all the places they visited onto FaceBook.

Thanks for stopping by today. Leave a comment and turn the lights off when you leave.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mission Statement

It is my intention to use this blog to allow people to follow my progress as I attempt to transition from being a traditional illustrator to a computer graphics illustrator. Since my degree in Advertising Design was obtained in 1983 it is quite antiquated. Computers have taken over my field since I was taking time to raise my children. During those years I freelanced and did mostly portraits and other drawing and painting. Now I want to get into computer graphics and since I am also a diabetic, I can qualify for assistance from the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation. Because I already have a degree in my field, they can not provide me with classes or a new degree but they can help with getting me a new computer and software so that I can compete in today's market.  I will be using online tutorials and books to learn Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.

Because I am also a substitute teacher, mother of three; one grown and a mom herself, one in college, and one multi-handicapped in high school, my blogs may diverse into these other areas from time to time. It is my hope that sharing my experiences will be of some help to others. Comments and advise are welcome.

When my children were little, I home schooled them and had the pleasure of teaching my daughters how to read. The book I used was called, "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." They loved that book. It was full of silly little stories that they found to be hilarious. Teaching them to read really was easy. I loaned that book to a friend and have since lost touch with her and the book is gone. I recently found a copy at Amazon and ordered it for my son. He has limited speech, mostly nouns. I hope he will become as interested in learning to read from this book as his sisters were. He knows most of the alphabet, from flash cards now, so I can't wait to see if he can learn to read and improve his language skills. I will keep you posted on that topic, as well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First Day on the Blog

Everyone has a blog these days. Decided it was time for me to have one too. Do people really get followers doing this? I hope so. As a 49 year old freelance artist/author and mother of 3, I probably have gained some knowledge that can be of use to others and am certainly up for learning from others as well.