Sunday, October 24, 2010

Please and Thank You

I have so many projects underway, it is easy to use them as an excuse for the curious silence of this blog. Today I feel inspired to press pause and reflect a bit.
My favorite positivity blog, Superforest, posted this as a visual representation of their humanifesto, or goal:

I love this blog, and I am so grateful to be able to share it with my son and all of my family and friends.
So on this beautiful sunny Arizona morning while I relax and work on an art project this is on my mind and I wanted to help share it with the world. I hope it can inspire you too.

Sunday Morning Haiku:

before the wind blows
and the sun begins to set
please know I love you

Friday, September 3, 2010

Haiku Friday

Today's subject: invention

This one is for you Mr. Edison:

Say I think I can
believe in your crazy self
it will change the world

Happy three day weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Haiku Friday

Today's subject: shoe laces

hold me together
don't trip me up, I can fly
ready, get set, go!

have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Let's all take a bit of time today to extend a bit of love and gratitude to some real life superheroes halfway around the world from us- our troops.

Zac Brown Band has a campaign to collect 1 million letters for the troops- they are calling it "Letters for Lyrics" because they are offering a free cd to those who take the time to write letters (or you can have it donated to a soldier, which I highly recommend).Just click on "send" below and you can write the letter online and submit it. This isn't about politics- it's about love and supporting the men and women who have dedicated their lives to this country.

So take some time today and send a letter of gratitude out their way- let your kids do the same, and send the info to every one you know. I am going to leave this post right now to let my son jump on the computer and send some love out to them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What happens when we assume?

Anderson Cooper 360 aired a phenomenal special on kids and how they view race last week. You can watch the video here.

The study they did is a variation of the doll experiments done in the early 1940's, and it focuses on children and racial bias. This is a great inspiration to have some serious conversations with our kids. I have talked to my son about race on occasion, but like one of the mothers in the video says, I assume that because my son sees the way I live my life and the way I embrace equality and tolerance that he will do the same. A lot of the parents in the video assumed the same thing, but when their kids were asked about their opinions of skin color, and their understanding of society's views on skin color, their answers were shocking.

As you will see in the video, it is just as important to make sure your kids love who they are as it is to teach them about racial equality. I suggest watching it with your kids and then taking some family time to discuss what you see.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Haiku Friday

Good morning haiku lovers!

Today's subject du jour: back to school

hey juicebox, it's time

peanut butter and jelly

summer is over

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Punk Rock DIY: Displaying the kids' art

- - - -What is "Punk Rock DIY"?

Punk Rock DIY is do-it-yourself projects like recycled art and creative, environmentally and kid friendly home improvement. - - - -

My refrigerator is papered with kids' artwork, awards, pictures, concert tickets, and whatever other creations will fit. I try to sort through it every once and again to clean it off, particularly when the magnets are unable to hold everything they are endeavored to. Once I take the time to clean it I recycle some things, put some things away in scrapbooks, and I am usually left with a couple of drawings or paintings that I like too much to put away. Since the surface area of the front of my fridge started to look like real estate on the beach, I thought it might be time to figure out another venue for those works of art.

In the spirit of reduce-reuse-recycle I decided to try and complete this project without purchasing anything new. So that meant rummaging and wandering around the house trying to find inspiration. I found it in my tool box and my sewing box.

My first (and probably most prominent) inspiration was found in my sewing box- a bag of miniature clothes pins, some yarn, and some leftover black ribbon. I found a lot of yarn and only a little ribbon, but the ribbon looks a bit more polished- so the ribbon wins.

The clothespins sealed the deal- I knew I wanted to do something like a clothesline (and art-line maybe?), but what to hang it on? In my tool box I found a bunch of cup hooks, ranging from super little to way too big. Hmm…time to get to work.

After carefully measuring and marking the wall (I cut the length of the ribbon in half and used it to measure- always measure twice!) I was able to easily twist the little cup hooks into the wall.

At first I just tied the ribbon onto the hooks but the ends of the ribbon hung vacantly off to the side, so I tied each end into bows, and then knotted the ribbon around the hooks.

(I tried this two ways: I tied the bows first and then tied the knots around the hooks, and I tied the knots first and then tied the ends into bows. For the sake of cute bows I think it was easier to tie the bow first and then tie the string into a knot around the hook- otherwise the bows were smooshed and hard to reshape.)

The finished product:

My art-lines are a success and have cleared up some new real estate on my refrigerator, but I still have more art to hang! I have to give equal representation to all the kids in my life, so I need more gallery room. Stay tuned for the next installment of Punk Rock DIY to see me wrestle with a creative way to reuse bulletin boards.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Haiku Friday

Happy Haiku Friday everyone!

Today's subject: home

Dorothy said it
it is in my state of mind
there's no place like home

Grab on to the subject and join in! Happy weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

four little words...

I came across this post on one of my favorite blogs, SuperForest, a little over a month ago and it has been nagging at my brain a little bit every day:

Sir Ken Robinson Revisited: Bring On The Learning Revolution

The speaker is Sir Ken Robinson, an author, educator, and innovation/creativity specialist. He has some really valid points on our education system, but for this post I am more focused on what he says about stifling kids’ creativity. His speech is fantastic, but the key part that sticks with me is the comment he makes about how as kids grow our education system teaches them to be afraid to be wrong, which basically halts their creative growth. Those four words have been spinning around my head ever since: afraid…to…be…wrong…

Essentially, this means that kids are taught that the most important thing is to be right, and this smothers their natural creativity. But the idea of this fear seems to go beyond that, and is so applicable to our lives in so many ways- and not just for kids, but for all of us.

Maybe it is something different for each of us, but to me, being afraid to be wrong also means being afraid to admit I don't know, or being afraid to appear foolish- there are a lot of applications that all have to do with ego. It reminds me of all the times I have sat in class thinking I know the answer or have something to add, but was too afraid that I might get it wrong to say anything. It also means being afraid to be different, or being afraid to stand out. How much of our lives to do we live, even subconsciously, bending to the will of the accepted mass culture? I believe we all have the freedom and right to be whomever we want to, exclusive of judgment.

I think because my son is quickly approaching his teen years I may be a little more sensitive to this idea, because I can see him lose some of the ways younger kids just throw themselves into things and I don’t want to see his choices smothered by inhibition . Trial and error, learning from our mistakes, laughing at ourselves- these are all things that we need in order to live a humble life, and as Sir Ken Robinson points out, it is also imperative in how we learn and develop.

With those four little words floating around my cerebral cortex, I have consciously gone out of my way to combat them. I’ll be honest; I don’t like to admit that I don’t know things. So now, when someone mentions something I am not familiar with, I ask them about it and I listen to the answer intently.

I vow that every time I have something to say I will push past the fear and say it.

I have tried my hardest to let go of being afraid to be wrong, and I am proud to say I think I am a better person for it. I feel more receptive as an adult and as a parent, and I am trying to impart the same knowledge on my son. I have talked to him about the idea and I think I live my life by a parenting credo that is supportive of his creativity and development- but a lot of this is pressure that he will feel at school and in our culture.

I am fortunate enough to say my family has always accepted me for who I am, but I have definitely felt pressure from the outside world. I believe that giving him a good foundation will give him the ability to grow into the person he really wants to be- supporting and encouraging him are the only ways I know to give him the freedom to be himself. This is a good reminder to myself to have patience with him while he learns, and that it is beneficial to let him do things his way. I will never push my son to be anything other than himself, and those four little words will always be there to remind me how important that is.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Open Doors

On his first day of school last year my son came home and told me he had signed up for the beginning strings class at his school- he would be learning to play the violin. I was so excited for him to learn how to play an instrument- any instrument- I just wanted him to have the exposure to music. Maybe playing an instrument wouldn’t be his thing, but I had been dying for him to give it a try. He has never wanted to commit to any instrument in particular so it was meaningful to me that he chose violin on his own accord. I am not particularly musical (I have only taken one piano class and I am no prodigy), but I love music and everything it offers. It is my favorite art form, it is expressive, and it may even help kids learn.
A couple of months after my son started playing violin we stumbled upon a PBS concert with David Garrett, a classically trained, German-American violinist. He is amazing, and my son was really excited to see him pluck the violin strings during songs because he was learning the same technique. Garrett seamlessly mixed classical music with rock, pop, and blues. I am a fool for mixing genre’s, particularly when it means integrating something as beautiful and cultured as classical music. This offers a fantastic opportunity to expose kids to the art and culture of classical music, as they are intrigued by the more familiar sounds.
Today I happened upon Garrett’s newest album, Rock Symphonies, which- hence the title, mixes rock music and classical violin. Again, this CD grabbed my son’s attention immediately as Garret puts his own spin on familiar songs like Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”- but Garret also puts a rock spin on classics like Beethoven’s 5th and mixes a Vivaldi concerto with a U2 song. It is a great CD- one that is being played constantly at my house. Next week my son starts another school year, and this year he has chosen to learn how to play the cello, so bumping into the CD was serendipitous. After a relaxed summer it has given him a spark of excitement to get back into his strings class.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A room without a view

I work at a doctor's office, and working in an interior office (with four solid walls and no windows) can be brutally bland. Also, I do most of my work on the phone or on a computer- so combining that with no natural light and no real distraction really started to drive me crazy. I put up pictures, bought calendars with beautiful pictures, and changed my computer’s wallpaper all the time- anything to give me some kind of focal point, all to no avail. I was in terrible need of something to brighten my days.

One day, while drawing with my son (then 8 years old) I took an oversized piece of construction paper, divided it into quarters with a marker to make it look like windowpanes, and asked him to draw me a window. He was initially at a loss, so I explained it to him- I wanted a picture that I could hang on my wall at work that would simulate me looking out a window. That way I could not only have something to look at, but also something that he made. What I saw out the window was totally his choice. He had a great time drawing a mountain to hike on with little people and a bear:

And this one coincided with a geography assignment, so it has a plateau and valley:

Seeing how happy it made both of us, I decided to spread the wealth and request more windows from other kids. Everyone had a great time- my nephews, friend's kids; they were all excited to make their own creations. It was also interesting to see what the kids wanted to see out their windows. It reminded me of a psychology teacher at GCC who told my class about a theory that when kids draw houses they are most often a reflection of themselves- it is an art therapy technique called a House-Tree-Person test . The idea is that a child’s drawings are a representation of their feelings and personality. I wonder if the windows are a reflection of the artists, or a reflection of the artist's projections of me- either way, I have lots of beach scenes, mountains, and a couple of bike riders- all sunny and happy, so I am grateful either way. I have since moved into an office with physical windows, but I have the windows hung up on my bulletin board at home now as inspiration. They remind me of the importance of perspective and seeing the world through other people’s eyes, particularly through the eyes of our kids.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Haiku Friday

Haiku Friday is getting a late start today due to computer issues, but here it is:

You know the rules 5 - - 7 - - 5

Today’s subject: rainy day schedule

the seamless grey clouds
try to contain the days sun
but it will peek through

But… I wrote that haiku this morning, while it was still cloudy here in Glendale, and guess what? The sun did peek through and the rain is no more- so maybe one more haiku for the day:

New subject: peeking

excited glances
in shy anticipation
can’t contain the smiles

So grab on to the subject and join in- happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reading Time

To be perfectly honest, I get kind of nervous when I meet new people. One nervous afternoon, I found myself cross-legged on the floor at the Phoenix Public Library, trying my hardest to make a mischievous little dog’s voice come to life. All I wanted was a smile, and as soon as the little girl I was reading to laughed, I felt my nervous tension melt. That little dog’s voice empowered me- I can do a mean Toad and Kangaroo too.

Though I will sit and read children's books anywhere, anytime- the afternoon I am referring to was part of a volunteer project called “Read to Me” through HandsOn Greater Phoenix.

One of the greatest resources I have found in my search for community involvement is HandsOn Greater Phoenix. They have countless opportunities to get involved- from reading to kids to tending gardens, serving food, and cleaning up schools- they have a calendar full of great opportunities to volunteer in our communities. A great plus- the volunteering projects are graded with age appropriateness labels. So if you are looking for a volunteer opportunity to take your kids to you can peruse the calendar to see what they have.

I have fallen in love with the “Read to Me” program. They have several downtown locations, and volunteers meet about once a month to read books to kids who are brought in from inner city neighborhoods. After we read, the kids present their favorite books to the group. This program allows children over ten to be part of the volunteer team- my son partners up with me and whatever child we are fortunate enough to be paired with. It is so rewarding on so many fronts. Primarily, it gives us the opportunity to be involved together to serve a cause that I hold near and dear to my heart- literacy. It solidifies a sense of community through involvement.

I have a great son, a bunch of great nephews, and all of my friends have kids that I adore. I used to believe that being a good role model to them was enough- and granted; I still believe that is really important. However, rather than having them learn just from my example, I realize I want these kids to be in it with me- involved up to their elbows. Projects like "Read to Me" are a great way to get our kids active.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Art Table

You know what I love about artistic expression? The diversity of it- I love how we all have unique ways to express ourselves. Your creative outlet might be light years away from mine. My son’s artistic voice can sometimes be like his personality- quiet and a little reserved, or sometimes it can be loud and totally out there. He likes cardboard and creates sculptures, and houses, and multi-level command centers out of it. Or sometimes he just likes to draw the logo of his favorite football team. I myself am a totally addicted doodler. I doodle all day long, on everything around me. One day I started really thinking about creative outlets, and thus: the art table was born.

I have a semi-formal dining area and an eat-in kitchen in my house, and we really are not formal dining room people so we really never used the semi-formal space. I started to think it was the perfect spot for a creativity hub- a place to organize our boxes and crates of art supplies that I had stashed in various closets around the house (making it hard to find that green pipe cleaner you desperately need to finish that project). I put up a cube bookcase and organized all of our art supplies and then started shopping for a table. I finally found one that was perfect- a plain white table- absolutely nothing fancy about it. I also found some awesome bright colored stools that were perfect for it (super simple and totally affordable). I brought it all home, set it up and put a cup of permanent markers in the middle of the table; declaring it free space for whatever you want to draw. Only one rule: respect other people’s drawings.

Every person who has come into my house has added something to the table- it’s become our cornucopia of doodles. All of our friends and family have contributed- my son had a birthday party and him and his school friends spent a good hour drawing on it. One nephew was a pinch too small to use permanent markers on his own, so I worked with him and made a picture out of his traced handprints. I keep a clear tablecloth over it most of the time to protect the art, as it had started to wear off a little bit- eventually I plan to cover the top with a clear varnish. But that is once we run out of room, and no matter how hard I try to run out of room I find I can always squeeze something on.

It’s more than just our art table too. It has become our homework table, our school project table, our game table, our puzzle table, the Lego table- a table where we can spend time together doing endless amounts of things. I have to say it is a piece of furniture that I absolutely cherish, and not only because it has become a doodle documentary of family and friend history, but because to me it is a symbol of open expression and acceptance.


I come from a family of 'Thank You' note enthusiasts. If my grandmother gives you a gift, and you do not reply Emily Post style within a certain number of days you are in trouble. Nobody wants their Grandmother to think them rude, right? I appreciate this influence on manners in my life, but I want to put my own twist on it.
This weekend as my son and I labored over the 'Thank You' notes for his recent birthday I started thinking. My goal everyday is to come up with some new way to reduce, reuse, or recycle. So as we mailed out our notes I had visions of them in recycle bins around the city, or gasp, a worse fate- in the dreaded garbage. We were too late this year- the thank you notes have all been sent out. But for future needs- what can we do to say thanks in a more effective and more efficient way?
Instinctually, a face to face thank you (if possible) is the answer right? That just isn’t quite as far outside of the box as I would like. I want to say hey, I am thankful but I also want to be creative and send a message here (to my son as well as the recipients of our thanks). I thought, you know, why can't I just give each one of them a peach (or insert local and in-season fruit or yummy treat here_______)? A peach is sunny, happy and delicious- it can be a token of our thanks as well as a wish for good health. Hand deliver a peach, say thank you so much for your thoughtfulness, please enjoy. (Incidentally, my son thinks this is both hilarious and awesome). But some of our relatives live in California and Oregon, which makes it a bit hard to hand deliver the peaches. So we decided to take pictures of ourselves enjoying whatever gift was given and write our thanks on the back (because Grandma is not going to throw away a picture).
So we missed the boat this year- but just to experiment with the effectiveness of our idea, we are going to practice random acts of peachness. We have decided to randomly hand out peaches to our loved ones, thanking them for being awesome. I will keep you posted on the outcome.
You may wonder why I started this blog with thank you peaches. I wondered too, but I thought it carried a good lesson. If my post brings a peachy smile to your face, then that is awesome. If it makes you think of a more earth friendly approach to etiquette, life, or just today- well that's awesome too.

Ok, so- things to look for in the days to come:

· My first punk rock DIY project: displaying the kids art

· Haiku Friday starts this week- stop by to join in!

So in anticipation for that, and to end my very first post, a haiku- just for you:

peaches are the way
I have chosen to give thanks
And also hello