FINAL DAYS of our Kickstarter!

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I cannot tell you how very excited I am that our Kickstarter campaign has been a success!  We made enough to print our book!  I made a stretch goal in the hopes of printing our little animal storybook, and we made THAT goal as well!  Woohoo!   Everyone seemed to be completely confident we would make it except me, so I cannot TELL you how amazing this whole thing has been.  I am jumping up and down in my head with excitement!

So I’m gonna go wild and set ONE FINAL GOAL in the last few remaining days of our Kickstarter campaign.  I want to see if we can make it to $24,500 to add more pages to our book!  If we can make this goal, I will include an EXCLUSIVE PRINT available ONLY to Kickstarter backers who pledge $25 or more!  This means if you already pledged and we make goal, you will get your reward AND the exclusive print!

For those of you that follow us, you know Myla is a big giant part of the creative process, and she decided we should create two smiling lemurs hugging (I suggested teddy bears or dinosaurs, but she was insistent on lemurs–so yeah, lemurs are pretty awesome, too!), as a “thank you” for all of your support.  I’ll actually be working on painting it soon, in the hopes that we can make our goal.  This print won’t ever be available on the Society6 print shop, but will ONLY be available to Kickstarter backers!

So please spread the word, and let’s see if we can make this last stretch goal happen!  Thank you so much!

Old Bones

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One day, while adventuring through a little wooded area, the kid and I ran across some old bones.  Myla is a girl who is instantly fascinated by unusual things (a girl after my own heart), but thankfully, these bones were old and dried up and had been there quite a long, long time.  She asked me what it used to be, and I asked her what she though it looked like.  “A dinosaur,”  she said.  “Or a goat.”  So we looked a little more closely, and noticed hooves and places where horns once were.  Having seen a lot of dinosaur shows, she remembered that flat teeth usually meant plant eater.

“We could take these home and make a project with them!” she said.

Whoah there.  Ew.  While quaint little odd things fascinate me, I am not one who is interested at ALL in the performing the process of taxidermy on bodypart-things.  The idea of taking these bones home was not something that appealed to me in the slightest.  “But wouldn’t it be quite gross?” I asked, to which she replied that the bones were almost like rocks now, and they weren’t disgusting at all.  Knowing our daughter can be quite sensitive (and to avoid potential heartbreak later), I asked, “Would you feel like it’s maybe sad at all?  To have the bones around of something that died?”

And our 4-year old daughter, being quite sweet and thoughtful, said, “Well, yes.  It IS a little sad, mama.  But we can take them and make them into something beautiful.  And then it won’t be so sad anymore.”

And boom–I was sold.

Now don’t ask me about the intricacies of dealing with mushy, fresh fleshy bones–ours weren’t that, or I would’ve left them in that wooded area without a second thought.  Scouring the internet, I found way more disgusting things on how to handle that subject matter than I care to recall.  Thankfully, these bones (as I say) were EXTREMELY dry, and therefore the easiest to sterilize.  I soaked them in hydrogen peroxide for about three days, flipping them each day, and let them dry for another day, just so we didn’t have any random goo-cooties crawling all over us.

Markers were the medium that Myla chose.  I suggested paint, but she said “they take too long to dry.”  So markers it was.  I got out the permanent markers, and we started doodling.

We traded back and forth.  She was so excited that each time I picked up a piece to doodle on, she was instantly interested in it as well.  So in the spirit of sharing, we took turns, swapping pieces, and decorating the bones.810

She turned this vertebrae into a “little creature” who can conviently hold a marker.

3And she gave this jawbone the most adorable face (with “hair made out of teeth,” she said).

4We doodled on the skull with shapes, colors and patterns…

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7Until they were all nice and strange and lovely old bones.

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After awhile, she said she wanted to “make it prettier” by putting flowers in all the places she could fit them.  (For all you folks that know art supplies, don’t worry–that’s a way older, nearly dried-out primary chisel tip blue marker, not one of my fancy new brush ones…)

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So there you go.  Something sad and dead into something lovely.  And the best part was watching her work.  And not that I particularly love old bones lying around, but I may have to varnish these and keep them around somewhere inside.   Maybe mounted.  But up high, maybe….so the dogs will stop sniffing at them.

What’s the Point?

As a kid, I LOVED trying out new artsy things.  As I might have mentioned before, our daughter has sort of developed the same sense of realistic sensibilities as I have.  While she’s definitely got the creativity and imagination going full tilt, we’re both VERY literal in our interpretations of things.  Filling a loose, free-flowing pattern on something is an uncomfortable concept to her.  Why not just make it into something figural, something REAL?

Which is why I try to introduce her to new artistic techniques from time to time.  We did some Pollock splatters.  We did some Picasso shapes.  We looked closely like O’Keefe.  Now I thought we’d give some Seurat a try…

Seurat was one of the key players in developing “pointillism.”  Similar to expressionism (which was more about capturing EMOTIONS), pointillism was more about capturing an image through LIGHT.  About how color is not always just ONE color, but sometimes many different colors all the many different ways light hits it.  “You know how your skin looks light in the sun?  At nighttime, doesn’t it look more dark and blue?”  I asked her.  And she agreed.

I set up a few simple things ahead of time…Instead of messy finger paints, I got a rainbow stamp pad, which had a variety of colors we could use.  I also found a sample of Seurat’s work (like “La Parade de Cirque ” or “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”), which were easy ones to show her the basic idea, and tell her the concept of how we were going to try to paint the light

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I thought the concept of freestyle figure painting might be a little complex for a kid, and since she’s four, I decided it might be easier to draw a quick outline of what we’d like to “paint” on, so we didn’t lose focus.

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I don’t know about most kids, but to our daughter, anything that SOUNDS like a “lesson” is instantly rejected.  I get better response from her if I create a sense of adventure and exploration, as opposed to sitting her down and saying (in a stuffy school marm accent), “Here’s what we’re going to learn today.”  Just doesn’t work.  So I say things like, “I thought it would be cool if we could try to do what this guy did in his picture.”  Works MUCH better!

So she was ready to go…but then stopped short when she looked at the stamp pad and realized there was no brown.  She wanted her character to be brown.  He HAD to be brown.  And there, my friends, is the lesson:  color mixing using pointillism!  I said, “since there’s no brown, we can make it LOOK like brown by adding lots of colors to it.  Then when you look from far away, it will look like brown.”  She was a little hesitant, but she dove in….

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She played with different colors to sort of get a brown color going–oranges, reds, yellows and blues.  And it was working!  I, on the other hand, made rainbow monsters.  But still, I was trying to demonstrate how the different colors blended when you looked at them from far away, without actually blending.  An up side of using the ink pad stamper also, is that the colors DON’T run together, so you truly get a “point” of color.  She noticed how from faraway, her drawing looked sort of brown, but closeup he was made up of lots of little fingerprints of different colors.

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As for setup, it was one of the cleanest “messy projects” we’ve done in awhile!  But to keep her from wiping her finger on herself, I wet a paper towel and put it next to her.  This way, she could change the colors she wanted to use, without too much mess.

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We had fun just blending the colors.  It was calming.  It was relaxing.  The soft little pat-pat-pat sounds of our fingers on the paper was quite comforting.

She’s been learning a lot about elements (mostly from her VERY favorite science game, called Toca Lab–an EXCELLENT learning game, by the way), and she said, “We are making these characters out of tiny little dots…just like people are made up of elements.”  YES!  Exactly!  And again, we talked about how color looks different in different light and different times of the day (a concept that Monet, especially, was really trying to capture).

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She still found a way to get messier than you would imagine with a stamp pad…!

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So here are our final doodles!  Myla’s on the left, and mine on the right.  It was such a relaxing, fun project!  She really got into it.  But the point is, it doesn’t matter what the end result is:  it’s more important to not only make something fun with your special person, but to enjoy the time together.  One of the coolest thing about being a parent (for me) is the opportunity to show someone something COMPLETELY new to them, and watch that fascination with it and amazement for the very first time.  It’s almost like being able to experience it for the first time yourself, and see it through new eyes.  It’s one of my most very favorite things.

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On a side note, we are about 13 days away from the end of our Kickstarter campaign, with only a little under $5,000 left to go!  If you’re interested in supporting our collaborative book project, would you PLEASE consider pledging (there are some great rewards, as well as copies of the actual BOOK), or at least sharing the link?  I want to share our weird story and unusual doodles with the world!  Thank you so much!

Kick It!!

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If you haven’t heard, I’m running a kickstarter campaign in the hopes of printing a book of the collaborative doodles I do with our 4-year old daughter.  (And if you have, I’m sorry…but I’m really trying to do everything I can to make this happen!)  We’ve had SO much support, and so many great shares and contributions–and we’re already over HALFWAY there!

It is a lot of money for a goal, but for a 96-page, hardcover, FULL color book full of doodle pages and quirky illustrations, as well as the cost of shipping everything to everyone, I have hope that we can do it.

If you’re new to kickstarter, there are a couple of things you should know:  1: You don’t get charged until (and unless) the kickstarter project makes its goal by the deadline (in our case, April 17th).  And thusly, 2: If we don’t make our goal by deadline, the project fails and nothing happens.    Boohoo!

For your pledge, you can select different reward tiers, and I’ve got some pretty cool ones:  postcards, gift tags, books, and CUSTOM doodles!

I really really want to share this book with everyone!  I want to share something weird and wonderful with the world.  I want to put something GOOD in it.  And I want to encourage other people to do the same thing in their own lives.

So please PLEASE consider putting in a pledge–every bit helps!–and if you can’t, please just share the link with anyone & everyone you think might enjoy it.  Thank you all SO MUCH!

Here’s the link again to our kickstarter campaign…Thank you thank you and thank you again!

Cardboard Duct Tape Fairy Wings

Things aren’t always as crisp in real life as they are in the parenting magazines, are they?  Mistakes and miscalculations are made.  And while most of them are fairly harmless, life doesn’t always look as perfect as it does in the pictures.  But you know what?  That’s OKAY.

Sometimes I find that the standards I set for myself are WAY higher than what anyone else expects.  Take, for example, the idea our daughter had recently to make some butterfly fairy wings.  “Can you help me make wings, mama?” she asked me.  And who can say no to that?  There are times when I say “Baby, I can’t DO that, I don’t know how.”  And our daughter, aware of her blatant challenge or not, will say, “you can do it, mama.  I KNOW you can.”

If I were to make my dream fairy wings, they would NOT be made from cardboard.  But cardboard is what we had on a rainy stay-at-home day when I didn’t feel like leaving the house, and that’s what we used.  And you know what?  She didn’t mind at all.

Do YOU need a set of on-the-whim fairy wings, like, STAT?   Well, I’ve got some some ninja crafting moves right here.  Just call me the MacGyver of crafty mamas….

Because of an anxiously, excitedly impatient kid, and without the luxury of being able to consult my trusty Pinterest pins before getting started, I just quickly cut out some butterfly shapes–one side each–from a small piece of cardboard I had.   Later, when I had a chance to look it up, all the pins I read said to make one big piece.  But like I said–I was ninja crafting.

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While she colored the separate wing pieces, I was wondering to myself how the heck I would get these on her back.  I looked up a few pins, which–as I said–all had a single wing shape.  I only had my two hastily-cut-out shapes…but I was pretty confident I could make this work.

By the way, have you seen these no-mess paint stampers?  We found them at the craft store.  A super easy way to get the paints out without REALLY getting the paints out…

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Oh wait.  She was done doodling and I hadn’t quite figured out how to attach these yet.  QUICK!  I went for my box o’ embellishments and came up with some sequins, which she spent a bit of time gluing on.  For a little more interest, we used our trusty rainbow ink stamper for a little more color to the wings.

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Okay, finally my stalling had paid off, and I had a chance to think it through…Maybe I didn’t plan this out very well (or at all), and maybe I was using last-minute materials.  But what works best when you have nowhere else to turn?  I’ll tell you, my friends:  DUCT TAPE.  I made a “bridge” of sorts, connecting the two wings together.  Then I constructed a set of “backback straps” by folding a piece in thirds for the strap, and first: taping them on the top of the wing bridge.  I did it at a bit of an angle, so they’d fit around her shoulders pretty smoothly.

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I held them up to our daughter, wrapped the straps around her arms, and taped them back down at the bottom seam at an angle as well.

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I fastened them onto the “front” side for a little more support, and taped those down, too.

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Now we had a sort of “backpack” set of wings!

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Since we first made these wings, she’s worn them to the grocery store, on outings, exploring in the woods, visiting neighbors, and just hanging around the house.  And while they’re not SUPER sturdy, they’re holding up fairly well, actually!

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So there you go.  Sometimes I tell myself we can’t do something, for a number of reasons:  we don’t have the right supplies, we’d have to go to the store, I’m pretty sure I can’t make it look exactly like what you’re imagining.  But, you know, sometimes all they want is something WAY simpler that what you have in mind.   Even if it doesn’t REALLY look like fairy wings, it’s close enough for her.  And all I did was grab some of the stuff around me and SIMPLIFY.  Don’t be afraid to mess up–if you make something out of love, it’s got a higher chance of survival than something that isn’t.

And sure, with some planning and some craft store trips, I could’ve made some cosplay-quality wingness to be adored…but you have to pick and choose your battles.  This was one I was willing to simplify on.  They have all sorts of decorative duct tape, just ripe for customizing.

But you know, now that I’m thinking of it, wouldn’t it be cool to do a STEAMPUNK set of wings?!?!  Myla keeps asking me where MY wings are…and this metallic-looking duct tape would look really cool painted to look like rivets and metal and such.  Hm.  I have an extra set of wings I cut as a backup…maybe I need to look into that….  :)

So give it a try!  See if you can make some super easy, spur-of the moment, on-the-fly (har-har) wings, and let me see your kids (or you) exploring in ‘em over on the Facebook page!

And on a side note, have you read our proposed Kickstarter project?  We REALLY want to make a book of our collaborative doodles!  We’re nearly HALFWAY THERE with several fun rewards for various pledges.  Every bit helps–a share, a like, or a re-post.  We appreciate it!

WE WANNA MAKE A BOOK!

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Hello there!  This is a different kind of post….I’m going to share a project we want to do!

Um.  Oh wait…I guess we usually do that, don’t we?  But this different because this is a project we want to do THAT WE NEED LOTS OF HELP WITH.

Ever since the Collaborations post went viral, people have been asking me to make book.  “You should make a book!” they’d say, and I totally agreed with them because they’re all awesome.  We had a few publisher nibbles, but they all fizzled.  They said they weren’t really sure how to sell it.  (Do you know you have to have a TON of existing interest in your idea and a ready-made audience online before anyone at a publishing company will even LOOK at it?   I mean, how do new things even ever happen that way?)

Anyway, after many trying and much attempts, it occurred to me that I don’t want to make money on a book, I just want to make something that makes people smile.  Yes, of course I’d be happy if I could get it done through a big publishing company to make even MORE people smile, but if not, I’ll just be happy if I can put something good out there!  Something fun and inspiring that gives people a grin and makes them feel good.  Because that junk is contagious.  Especially in kids.

I was going to try to figure out a way to pay for it completely out of our own pocket, until someone suggested Kickstarter.  And so I thought I’d give it a try.  So I’m running a KICKSTARTER TO PRINT OUR OWN BOOK!!!

It’s going to be an 8×10, 96-page, full-color hardcover book with TONS of our collaborations in it, along with pages thick enough to draw and doodle on a few pages yourself!  I am very proud of and happy with it, and excited to (hopefully) share it with all of you.  It’s a lot of money to try to get funded, but it’ll all go directly into the project, and I think it’ll make for a wonderful and inspirational keepsake.

It’s not a “just for kids storybook,” but a collection of the drawings with the funny little sayings I add to them on my facebook page.  More of an inspirational art book, and will include some pages that are partial doodles from Myla and me that you can add to yourself.

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I’m including a lot of rewards for pledges.  Like postcards…

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Gift tags…

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And doodle pages to draw on and get creative with by yourself, or with someone else…

doodle pages set

At the higher levels, I’m offering CUSTOM DOODLES!  One face, drawn onto a print of one of Myla’s dinosaur doodles–$150 for 5×7 simple and $250 for 5×7 more detailed, and 8×10 for a pledge of $500 or more.  (I didn’t want to offer a handmade drawing from her, because–you know–she’s a kid and I don’t really want her to be chained to an art table at the age of 4…)  I’ll hand draw a face for you and blend it to the print so it looks like one of our doodles!

custom dragon 5x7 samplecustom dragon girl 8x10 SAMPLE

I am nervous about everything–it’s a LOT of work trying to get funded, along with fulfilling the rewards if we DO get funded, but you know–my husband (who’s the biggest fan and strongest supporter of our artwork, even from a billion miles away) reminded me that if my goal is just to put something GOOD into the world, then it’s totally worth it.

So please check out our KICKSTARTER PROJECT!  I’ll probably mention it a lot on Facebook and Twitter.  Sorry.  It’s only temporary.  And if you can’t support it, could you PLEASE at least share it?  I just want to fill the world with a little more “weird.”

Thank you so much for all the encouragement and support!

Lunch Doodles

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Wow!  Last week on Facebook, I posted some of the napkin doodles I do for Myla’s lunches, and it got so many positive comments!  So I thought I’d share some other lunchtime doodles with you.

But first, let me go back a bit….

For some reason, when I was pregnant (and then later when our daughter was a baby), I was obsessed with the idea of bento box lunches.  I don’t know why–but I thought they looked like so much fun!  How exciting to be able to be creative with your kid’s food, to have them open up their lunch to a nice little creative box of sunshine!  But sometimes as a new parent, the things you THINK you’ll do and the things that actually WORK for you are two very different things….

…AND THAT’S OKAY!

For example, one of the first times I made a school lunch for her, I put together a super-sweet, super cool bento box (a frog that I had gotten when she was still a baby and had no use for it)…a fancy fru-fru one, just like I had seen on Pinterest, with all her favorite foods in it:

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And you know what?  She only ate the grapes.

Seriously?!?  I asked her why not the rice–she loves rice!  She said, “Yeah, but not at school.”  Okayyyyyy.  And the bottom compartment hadn’t even been opened!  And it was then that I learned another lesson:  If you’re going to use fancy bento boxes, be sure to SHOW THEM HOW TO USE THEM first. Hehehe.

So, yeah.  Bento boxes, as cool and amazingly creative as they are, just don’t work for us.  I really wish they did.  Not to mention the fact that she’s developed a super-picky kid palate and I’m lucky if I can get her to eat a PB&J.  (Seriously have you SEEN some of those bento boxes?!?  As beautiful as they are, I often think, “do those kids actually EAT that?!?!?  Our kid won’t eat ANYTHING!)

When we were kids, my mom used to leave little notes in my lunch, and I have VERY good memories of them.  …Okay, honestly I can’t remember what a single one said, but I definitely remember the smiles and warm fuzzies they gave me (thanks, Mom!).  It was like a little reminder that even if you were having a rough day, there was SOMEONE on your side.  Even after I got “too old” for them, I still couldn’t open a lunchbox without thinking of them and secretly hoping a little note was tucked in there.

I mean, uh–NO!  Teenage Me was waaaayyyy too mature for that.  Ahem.  :)

So when our daughter started full day Pre-K last year, I wanted to leave her something sweet in her lunch, too, to let her know I was thinking of her.  She’s an only child–and a very social one–so she ENJOYED the idea of going to school and didn’t have a problem leaving at ALL…but a full day away seemed like such a long time!  I just wanted to put a little something in her lunch to remind her that I loved her.  She’s in Pre-K, though–which means she can’t read.  So what better than to doodle on her lunch bags?

Sometimes I kept to a theme.  The first one I did was Star Wars–have I mentioned she loves Star Wars??    Hehe.

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Also inspired by the Lunchbag Dad, I did goofy little monsters and bugs and dinosaurs.  All things that she likes.  As I said, she can’t read, but she does know that hearts mean “love”…so I tried to always put hearts in there somewhere.

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Sometimes the doodles would be related to the food inside, like this heart-shaped sandwich (I used a cookie-cutter to cut the bread), and the monster eating the popcorn.  Or from books we’ve read…the “good apple” at the bottom was from a book about teasing called “Bad Apple” that she really loved at the time.

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More little monsters, animals, bugs, and critters…

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I even used my trusty ol’ Sharpie marker on some reusable plastic containers…

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I often visit her at lunch (which she loves), and for her birthday, I decorated her bags with little birthday alien monsters:

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But as fun as they were, after awhile I started feeling a little guilty for using all the disposable ziploc bags…So I decided to make some reusable lunch bags, and drew on them with Sharpies.  I even did a little blog post about it, ages ago…

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So now that our bags are fabric and already have doodles on them, there was no need to really draw on anything anymore….which kind of took the pressure off every day (those doodles don’t take long, but DARN!  Sometimes you just run out of time!), but I also kind of missed them.  So my solution came to me when I visited her at lunch one day and saw all the kids wiping their faces on their sleeves, including my daughter, whose face had become covered in peanut butter and jelly:  Napkins!

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No, they’re not reuseable, but hey–one half-napkin a day isn’t too shabby.  I like to doodle little things that pertain to whatever she’s into at the moment.  And if it’s nothing in particular, I just make a goofy monster of some sort.  She gets a kick out of it, and loves showing them to the kids at school at lunchtime.  And from what I can tell, she gets the warm fuzzies from them, too…

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Still, even after all of this, she rarely USES the napkins.    I find them in her lunchbox after she’s thrown all the other trash away, when she brings them home nearly untouched….

I mean, who needs a napkin when you have sleeves, right?  :)

So, yeah.  Pretty pointless, right?  Why go through all the trouble for something that she’s not even using?  Well, simply because it doesn’t take much effort at all, and I know it makes her smile.   …And really, there’s nothing pointless about that, is there?

Some readers on Facebook have shared that their parents used to write notes, draw drawings, use special stickers, or write math problems that needed to be solved when they got home, little “secret messages,” or just smiley faces.  So do you have any good lunchtime memories?  Do you have anything special you do for lunchtime?  I’d love to hear about it!

When Mama’s Sick

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Okay, so I’ve been really sick lately.   It was bound to happen.

I was lucky enough that when my husband was deployed the first time and our daughter was in her Terrible Twos–with tantrums, teething, and terrors at night, and all sorts of terrific things–to have avoided the plague that crept around other peoples’ houses.  If someone had the sniffles, I avoided them completely, and my efforts paid off:  for that entire year, I was lucky enough to have avoided injury–either from roller derby practice, or the calamities of the common cold.

When your spouse is deployed, being sick is sort of like getting shot in the back as you’re running away from the enemy.  “AUUUUGH, they got me!  Save yourself!” you scream, as you fall dramatically to the ground, like in a scene from a Vietnam War movie.

Okay, well.  That’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea:  when you’re the sole person having to take care of the kid and the dogs and the bills and the house and school and appointments and everything and you’re suddenly out of commission…things can go from bad to worse really fast.

Our kid is an only child, and because she is, my only complaint about her has ever been that she has trouble playing on her own.  It’s not her fault, really–being isolated indoors in the frozen temperatures of Alaska for most of her early childhood, I was her constant companion.  I get it.  So I worried when I was sick, that this would be an issue.  But this kid is CONSTANTLY surprising me.

“Mama is very sick,” I croaked, because my voice would only allow a raspy whisper (another dangerous disability when you’ve got a small kid who usually needs constant vocal supervision).  “Can you help me by playing on your own?”  And to my surprise, she did.  And there was much rejoicing.

And here’s where you have to “let go” a bit, and take care of yourself.  Forget what the house looks like right now.  Forget the mess, forget the dishes.  We dragged out the Legos, and dumped them on the living room floor.  I put a tablecloth on the coffee table, and dumped a bunch of crafts on it.  Things that didn’t need much supervision, like stickers and elmer’s glue and washable paint, kid-scissors, and construction paper.

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Also, a friend had just cleaned out her craft room and sent us a LOT of craft things, so that kept her busy awhile, too, and required minimal supervision…

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I let her drop the Alka-Seltzer Cold tablets into water and watch them fizz, which made her feel very important.  And she had fun giving me a spoonful of honey (especially when she got a little spoon for herself).

And OH!  The TV!  Our daughter will only watch two movies right now (she’s going through a phase where she’s afraid of “bad guys,” and won’t watch anything with bad guys in it.  Um…they ALL have bad guys), so all she’ll watch is the Croods and Frozen.  So we watched them over and over and over.  And I didn’t really mind, because she was busying herself doing crafts, singing the songs, and keeping herself occupied while I lay all day on the couch and rested.

When I was feeling a bit better, I kept her busy with another project:  I printed off some photos (mainly of myself, because hey–I can take a joke) on cardstock and told her she could paint whatever she wanted on them.  Her eyes lit up.

photo 3-2I drew a little with her to sort of give her some ideas, and turned myself into a strangely decorated peacock or something (not at all influenced by my foggy flu delirium, I’m sure).  She turned me into a purple cat.photo 4-2

Didn’t take much energy on my part, and I was still spending time with her.  I only did one, and she got the hang of it herself.

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She asked for more, and entertained herself for a couple of hours, just painting and drawing on the printouts while we watched movies.

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photo 4-4

When it’s just me and her, I can’t really lie down and take a nap.  But I found I can let myself rest a little as long as she’s touching me somehow.  So I lie on the couch or in bed, and she sits near my legs and plays Ipad games.  This works for as long as I have physical contact with her–unfortunately, as soon as she’s up, I’m up.  That’s how my mama brain works.  Thankfully, the kid was WONDERFUL this past weekend and I was so very grateful for it.  I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have worked when she was two…

I have some issues with feeling like I need to have a handle on ALL things ALL the time.  But I can’t help it–with military life, I often HAVE to, so I have trouble letting that go when I’m sick.  But I forget sometimes to take care of myself.  For example, it took a call from my husband from Afghanistan to remind me to get a specific medicine, since I often get overwhelmed and forget it.

But being sick, it’s OKAY to let things go that don’t matter:  that laundry can wait.  No one cares what your dishes look like.  So your kid’s been in her pajamas all day?  I’m sure she doesn’t mind.  So we spent the whole weekend with the TV on?  We’ll live.  There are worse things out there than Sprout TV.  Are you feeling guilty for not spending quality time with your kid?  I’m pretty sure, with all the things in our life that we do, this one weekend of laying around the house will not affect her in a negative way.  Even Supermom needs some rest.

I tell myself all this stuff because when I’m in the moment, I have trouble believing it.  But it really is OKAY.  Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do just to get by.  As long as you’re not neglecting anyone’s basic needs, the rest can wait til you feel better.

Anyway, that’s what happens in our house when Mama’s sick and it’s just us.  What do you do?  Do you have any special magic tricks for feeling better and keeping the kids entertained?

Super Awesome Beady Necklaces

Sometimes I see a project from another site that I just can’t help trying myself.  This one comes directly from Molly Moo Crafts, and when I first saw the little wooden bead necklace she made for her daughter I did an inner squee, and had to give it a try.

To begin, here is a picture of Molly Moo’s super adorable necklace:bead0necklace-diy3

Isn’t it super cute?  I TOLD you it was super cute.

So I showed the munchkin, and she liked it a lot…but, as usual, her imagination got carried away as she started making mental customizations.  “Maybe you could make me a Batman one,” she said.  “Or Robin.  Or some monsters or creatures or something.  Could you make me a pirate giraffe?”

Uh…  What?

As is often the case, a simple idea, when presented to her, goes in a multitude of directions.  So, following her creative lead (as I often do), I gathered my supplies (wooden beads, string, and paint), and made her a gosh-darn pirate giraffe (she requested the additional neck bead, which is a pretty cool idea, actually), although his face & nose don’t really lend themselves well to a sphere-shape…

pirate giraffe

On Molly Moo’s tutorial, she glues the beads in place, but I thought it’d be pretty cool to leave them all separate and have fun interchanging them each day.  I basically just took a strand, tied a knot in the end, and you can slip the different ones down each day.

We made a panda for a friend…

interchangeable

And the munchkin requested her own version, but as a pirate…(I don’t know what the deal is with pirates lately.  She’s really not THAT into pirates.)

pirate panda

And, as always, the obligatory C-3PO.  Have I mentioned our daughter is madly in love with C-3PO?  She is.  Which is probably why she wasn’t so impressed by this one.  “Um…Mom, he’s too round and he doesn’t have arms & legs.”  Jeesh!  Everyone’s a critic. 

c3po

So it seems like a super easy, super fun project, right?  Well, if there’s a way to mess a project up, I can find it.  At the craft store, I accidentally bought the beads that already have a shiny gloss on them, which I painted on top of, and sealed with varnish spray.  I didn’t think it’d be a problem, but after one day with a 4-year old, that thing looked like it had been battle-born and bruised, it was so messed up, scuffed, and dirty.  I finally went back to the store and got the plain ones…

thin string

These new beads required a smaller string, since the holes were smaller.  Worried about the knot slipping through the bottom bead hole (it happened with the thicker rope, too), I put a button down first.  I’m sure you could do way cuter bead things, but this is what I came up with about 10 minutes before we had to leave for school.  I also didn’t get a chance to varnish it.  Surprisingly, though, it came home with her from school fairly unscathed!

stringSo there you have it!  A wonderfully simple project directly inspired by Molly Moo Crafts!  There are so many fun things you could do with these, and the kids in her class have fun looking at the different sides of the faces of the newest one.  The teacher even asked about it, so I’m sure they’d make GREAT teacher gifts!  So grab some beads and some string, some paint or some markers, and see what happens!

A New Hobby

nick of time

I have a new favorite hobby:  I’ve been pausing the shows I watch.  That doesn’t sound like much, right?  Well, I’ll tell you a little story about that…

Once upon a time, a million ages ago, when I was an artsy kid, I didn’t have much for artistic references besides what I found in my local library and Teen Beat magazines.  This was the Stone Age, so I couldn’t just google what I was looking for; there was no internet.  Can you imagine the horror?

I remember really once wanting to draw Kiefer Sutherland from one of my favorite movies at the time, Lost Boys, and not having much to go off of besides the cover of the video (Yes, I said “video.”  For you young’uns, that’s like ancient technology, pre-DVD, streaming video, and BR…).  I often rented movies from the library only because they kept the actual cover jackets to the film tucked in the case (unlike movie rental stores, who just printed the title with their own blank logo).  THIS meant that if I strained my eyes very very very carefully, I might be able to draw one of the pictures or characters from the movie that was printed on the back.

Another fun task was trying to pause the movie at a particular scene, hoping to catch the actor in a certain pose.  Here’s a funny thing about pausing a movie in the 80s that is pretty much irrelevant these days:  imagine when you pause a show, there is about a 5-second response time from the time you push the button to the time it actually freezes…which is a long time when you’re trying to pause it right in a very specific spot.  Imagine not being able to get the right spot, and rewinding (also with a delayed response) and playing and pausing.  Rewinding, playing, pausing.  Over and over again until you get the right spot.  All delayed, all very very frustrating.  But say you finally are able to pause the film in just the spot you like….You grab your sketchbook and holy COW you’d better start drawing FAST because not only will the flimsy nature of VCR tapes only allow for a single minute or so of pausing before completely shutting off the VCR on its own, but also: the already low-res image will start to get shaky and warbled after a very short while before it turns itself off.  So once you finally overcome pausing a movie in the right spot, you’d better grab & draw like a madwoman, because you’ve only got a minute.

Ahhhh, those were the days!

Oh wait—no.   That wasn’t much fun at all, actually.  Also, I’m guessing this problem wasn’t really much of a problem for most people besides artistic teenagers like me, desperate for movie references to draw from.  Sorry.

Fast-forward (with only a few years’ delay) to the amazing awesomeness of blu-ray, streaming video, and the internet!  Looking for an obscure image to use as a reference to draw from?  Easy, just Google it, and I’ll bet it’s there, along with a million other obscure things you never asked for.  Or you want to draw a specific scene from a movie?  Easy:  if you can’t find the image online already, just push pause and take a quick picture of it with your phone to draw from later.  Boom.

vulcan

A very cranky Vulcan, from The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen.

Can you believe it??  Of all the comforts of modern times, for an artsy teen of the 80s, this ranks up there pretty high in my world….but maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, this brings me back around full circle my new favorite hobby:  pausing my shows.  I have re-discovered, through AmazonTV, the wonders of the Twilight Zone.   I had seen quite a few episodes from when I was a kid, and they stuck with me for ages.  So many great stories!

filibustering death

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite things to draw are faces from black & white movie photos.  And lucky for me, they have every season of Twilight Zone on Prime (which means no additional fees)!  How exciting for me!   And yes, some of the material may be dated, but the fascination with it, for me, is a new story, a new strange tale in every episode.  New people, new characters, new situations.  Fun little snippets of strange stories that never fail to hold my attention.

robit

So lately, after the kid is nestled in bed, I sit in front of the TV with my remote and my phone, pausing and snapping photos for later.  Compared to what I USED to go through to get references, this is nothing short of bliss.

talky tina

I’ve done this with some of my favorite movies and TV shows, too: Baron Von Munchausen, Time Bandits, City of Lost Children, Game of Thrones

time bandits

king of the moon

cersei

So.  You don’t have references?  You need some practice drawing from references, but can’t find anything to draw?  I beg to differ.  It’s SO much easier out there than it used to be, and there are SO many opportunities to learn something new.  There’s a whole WORLD of things out there to use as inspiration!  Sometimes, you just have to work a little harder for them…

If you have an Instagram account, I post a lot of artsy artwork over there (@busymockingbird), especially from the Twilight Zone, so come follow along, and join me in celebrating the weirdness!

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