TADTown How I Have Missed You

So I  have been on break from my blog for summer vacation, but just like summer vacation, I feel that I have had enough. In the beginning it was liberating to have a break, to not feel the pressure to write, but now I am just bored (much as my children are on their break), so I have decided to start blogging again.

The twins coming home from the hospital for the first time. How did twelve years past so fast?

Now that I am sitting here I am not sure what to write about today. Hmm…The twins turn 12 in a few days. We are going to Vegas for their birthday, and I am taking them to see Phantom of the Opera. They have been wanting to see  the Phantom again for so long, so I thought it would be a perfect birthday gift. It worked out great because we got free Phantom tickets with our room. In anticipation of seeing the Phantom, Decca has been walking around in his phantom outfit.

What else has been going on? The kids and I went up to the mountains for a week and stayed at my parents house. We had so much fun up there enjoying all the beautiful outdoors. We were hoping to see a bear, but we didn’t this time.

Up in the mounains.

Decca turned eight a few weeks ago. We had a nice party, and he received some great gifts. I got him a spark scooter, which is a scooter that sparks when you press the brake. Some people (I won’t mention names) thought it was a dangerous gift, but I knew he would love it. What kid would not love a scooter that sparks?

I made this for Decca with the blocks.

He also received a huge set of CitiBlocs. I wasn’t sure about this gift, I thought maybe it would be too young for him, but he and the twins have been enjoying them all summer. It has spurred on their creativity, and they have been building some great creations. Autry made an opera house and several towers, and Tru made a great base for some Lego figures he also made.

Autry and her tower

Tru and his base

Tru has been making several short films this summer. He taught himself to edit in iMovie, and he has been having a good time with that.

Grandma assisting Truffaut on making his film.

Autry has been working hard on her singing. She is very excited about starting OCHSA in the fall. She also misses her singing class from the spring. She took a class at Orange Coast College and enjoyed it so much. Here is  her final performance from the class (sorry for the spotlight).

Decca has been keeping himself busy writing songs on the piano, shooting nature videos, and writing a new series of book. They are called the Kingsley Kelley Mysteries, inspired by the Scooby Doo books.

So this is what we have been up to lately. We are off to Vegas tomorrow morning, and then we go to New Orleans on the 4th, then up to Chicago (via Amtrak) on the 12th. I am sure I will have many pics and stories to share from our trips. Until then…

Film Studies

My son Truffaut wants to study film next year, so I am trying to put together a course of study for him. I am excited about this as I majored in film in college. I am thinking I will divide a year study into three main areas. We will study film history, film as literature, and film making.

I have been searching amazon for a book or two to help with our study. I have found two that seem promising. They are Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts and Screenwriting for Teens: The 100 Principles of Screenwriting Every Budding Writer Must Know. These two books are going to form the basis for his film making study.

For film history I am going to use The Young Oxford Book of the Movies (Young Oxford Books). I have had this book for years, waiting patiently for my children to show interest in learning the history of film. Now that one has expressed interest, I cannot wait to begin working our way through it.

The book covers film history from the earliest beginnings (the magic lantern, zoetrope, etc.), silent films, the Hollywood system, European films, and National Cinemas. In addition it goes over the major genres in film, such as westerns, musicals, comedy, etc. I am hopping to watch two films per each section in the book. I think that would be a nice overview for him, and I hope to have this list put together soon, for anybody that is interested.

After film history, we will concentrate on two genres of films in our study of film as literature. My first film class in college was a film literature class, and I can’t wait to study this with Tru. In college we studied Hitchcock, the French New Wave, and screwball comedies. I am not sure Tru would be as interested in the last two categories, but I think he would enjoy a study on Hitchcock films. Along with our Hitchcock study, I am toying with the idea of studying either Westerns or films that have been adapted from classic literature.

All in all I am happy with the plan so far. I am confident we will be able to get it all in over the year, but if Truffaut is really enjoying it, I may stretch it out over two years. If we get it all done in one year, we will concentrate on animation (the making of animated films and the history) for the next year. I can’t wait to get started!

Wordless Wednesday – AKA Day 3 – A Month of Thanks

I’m thankful for living next to a nature preserve.

I love waking up to this view every morning

(so does the cat)

and seeing flowers in the fall.

I love warm weather, falling leaves

grassy fields for the dog to play in and

taking walks with just Tru and me.

To see other posts from a month of thanks visit Daisy over at I’m Nobody! Who are you?.

Another stop motion

Stop motion videos are fun for kids and quite easy to make. My kids enjoy them, and they don’t need my help. They just use the camera to take pics, upload them to windows movie maker, and then edit them. If your kids are looking for a creative outlet I would highly recommend directing them to make their own stop motion. It takes time, patience, and a good deal of imagination, and the outcome is always worth it.

Here is one of Tru’s stop motions. It was his first one, and you can tell it is just one sequence looped over and over. He recorded his song and then sped it up for the native chant. I think it works quite well.

I have been spending time reflecting on the kids and how creative they are. I think this year I will spend more time developing their creative side and try to incorporate it into our schooling. I haven’t decided how this will play out yet, but I have decided that I will have them do a book report as a stop motion. They will have fun doing that!

Truffaut and foreign films

My son Truffaut
Francois Truffaut

My oldest son is named Truffaut, after Francois Truffaut. I remember that fateful day when I was 18. I was taking my very first film class at Pasadena City College. It was titled Film as Literature, and the only reason I took it was that it met a requirement. I walked into class thinking this would be the easiest way to get an A. I left the class a few months later completely transformed. I suddenly had such a passion for films, and I decided then and there I would major in film. I also decided, after being introduced to the French New Wave and the film The 400 Blows, that I would name my first son Truffaut. I was young and truly amazed at the films that I had been exposed to.  I thought it would be so cool to use the name Truffaut. My son has not always agreed (can you blame him?).

His first year of life we called him Truffaut, which got shorten to Truffie, and then finally to Tru. He likes Tru, he can live with Tru. And that’s fine with me, although secretly  I was hoping that one day he would start to use Truffaut. I was also hoping that he would some day love films as much as me, specifically foreign films. After trying to expose him to various foreign films, and educating him on just how cool it was to be named Truffaut, he finally found a film that he loved and that spurred his interest. That film was Vitus.


Vitus was made in 2006 and is about a gifted child and the pressures he is under. The film captured my son immediately and held his attention throughout. That is quite an accomplishment, considering my son was 8 at the time, and the film was foreign and not animated. I think it was the story that got his interest, and it was some of the images in the film that kept his interest. He made me play one scene over and over. It was where the main character and his friend were riding on their bicycles. Every time Vitus rides by you hear classical music, and when his friend rides by you here rock music. Tru thought that was very interesting. This filmed opened Tru up to the idea that foreign films are interesting and enjoyable. After watching this, we went on to watch numerous foreign films. Some he likes, some he finds incredibly boring, but he gives them all a chance.

As for his name? He has started to recently tell people that his name is Truffaut, “you know after the film director Francois Truffaut. ” Most of his friends have no idea who he is talking about, but that’s okay. He thinks it’s a pretty cool name to have.