Thursday, July 10, 2014

Art Club

I have been wanting I do more art with my kids for awhile.

So, I started an Art Club. 

I was pinning and pinning and pinning all sorts of fun and artsy projects. I'd been collecting arts and crafts books for ages. And I'd done a fair amount of projects with my kids. 

But every summer I planned to do more.

And then I didn't. 

But art is soooo important! I want my kids to have the opportunity to create and dream and express new ideas, to work on something that doesn't have a right or wrong answer and to gain confidence in their creative choices. 

An awesome friend of mine, Elaine, started a super fun book group for kids last summer. I'm thrilled my kids get to be involved in it. And not only do they get exposed to new and interesting books and get to participate in fun book-related activities, it got me thinking...

What if I did something similar? But all about art? An Art Club? I could invite some of their friends. Then it would be on our calendar. I'd be commited. 

And because I'm impulsive, I jumped right into it. I sent Facebook messages to the mommas of my kids' friends. Kids came. And we made art! 

For our first meeting, I decided to start small. I wasn't totally sure how many kids were going to come.  We began with some drawing games.

I love drawing games! 

The first one we did, The Scribble Game,  involved scribbling all over a piece of paper. And then they passed that paper to their neighbor. Next they looked for images in the scribbles. You know, like when you're staring at a textured wall or floor with random squiggles and suddenly you realize a face is staring back at you? Your brain has organized the mess into something? Right? (Or is that just me?)  And when they found something, they outlined it with a sharpies.

The other drawing game we played, which produced a lot of giggles, was the Blind Art Game. Everyone closed their eyes and I described a scene...

Draw a house. Add the windows and the doors. Now draw a tree and a bird sitting in the branches....

I loved the moment when they opened their eyes and looked at what they'd created. Ha!

Next we made mosaics of our names using bright pieces of torn construction paper.



Next I gave each of the kids a paper divided into triangles (sorry! No picture of this one). And then I told them to fill in each of the triangles with drawings to represent the things about them that makes them special and unique. 

When there was about twenty minutes left, I got out a big drawer full of pipe cleaners. We sat on the ground and made stuff. 

I loved watching what the kids came up with! Crowns, hand cuffs (or ankle cuffs), people and unicorn horns. 


Then one girl started making guns from Despicable Me. And they were off....fart guns, freeze rays....you name it, they can probably make it out of pipe cleaners. 

I love, love, love how a group of kids (or adults, for that matter) feed off of each other's creativity. You never know what they'll come up with next. For instance...



Here's Sam as an undercover unicorn Greek god. Awesome. 



Thursday, February 27, 2014

doodley embroidery


I love to embroider.

But I'm a total beginner. I've embroidered, like, 3 projects in probably 10 years. It's just not something I've made time for, but I love the look of it and I'd love to do more (loads and loads) of it.

A few years ago, on a whim, I bought this fun book...



Doodle Stitching.  And it is awesome. I love the fun projects. And I love Aimee Ray's approach to embroidery. Doodling. Brilliant. 

And I love to doodle, as illustrated by my latest writing notebook. 



So, months and months (and months) ago (before Rory was born), I took a jean jacket of Zoe's and got busy. I didn't plan anything. I just started doodling. With thread....




It was super fun! It's an excellent thing to do while watching a movie. And isn't this such a great way to upcycle a coat? Or imagine what you could do to jean pockets. (I'm kind of excited by the possibilities. Yep. I love embroidery.)

Next...that jacket got plopped in a plastic box and shoved into a corner. We had Rory, school started, I attempted to shower more than once a week (sometimes failing), winter came, Christmas chaos and then, finally, a few weeks ago I worked on it some more. 





I'm happy as a lark about that butterfly. Oh, and I love how the words turned out there above the sun. You can't see them too well in the picture, but it says, "hello sunshine". 

It's not done. I still want to add all sorts of things to it. I want it to be really colorful and fun. But Zoe wanted to wear it anyway. 


She told me after the first day she wore it to school, that she went around showing everyone the back and saying, "My mom made it." 

Cute girl. 

Molly is anxiously awaiting for me to start hers. Luckily, I have a jean jacket all ready for it. She's requested a mermaid and a girl playing on the playground. Hmmmm. This will be interesting. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

our present ball tradition


A friend asked me about this funny tradition of ours the other day. After telling her all about our present ball she decided to try it this year. And I thought it would be a great thing to blog about, just in case anyone else wants to give this nutty, chaos-inducing tradition a shot.

So, here's the general idea. We save all the wrapping paper from holidays and birthdays all year long, wrapping and wrapping it all around a present. And then on New Year's Day we make a game of it and tear it open.


Now for more of a detailed explanation. 

On Christmas we save all the paper and ribbon. We stuff it in bags or boxes and then it gets shoved to a corner in the food storage room in the basement. Then I forget about it for awhile. But when I run downstaris for a can of corn or black beans I see the bags and remember. At some point I actually think to pick up prizes for the middle of our new ball. (Obviously this may not be the best way to go about doing this.)

Finally I take some time and get wrapping! And our new present ball is begun.



Then throughout the year I continue to add to it. After someone's opened all their birthday presents, we stuff the used paper into a bag. Sometimes I ask the kids to add the next layers. They quite like it!

Finally, on New Year's Day we play a crazy game.

You'll need:

Pair of dice
Two cooking spoons or oven mitts
A massive present ball


Gather your posse in a circle. The first person rolls the dice, hoping for doubles. If they don't get them then they pass the dice to the next person. The first person to get doubles gets to start opening the present ball. But, of course, if they used just their hands it would be waaaaaaay too easy. No, this needs to be a challenge. We've been saving that paper ALL YEAR! We're going to make this game take a bit more time.

So, they must either don oven mitts or use spoons (or maybe even both!) to unwrap the present. While they're going to town, tearing paper and throwing it willy nilly through the air, the rest of the eager participants continue to roll the dice, hoping for doubles and then passing them onto the next person.


Whoever gets the next doubles gets to take over the fun task of relieving the ball of its paper. This continues until, finally, someone manages to get to the middle. Then...Eureka! Whoever gets their first, wins the contents.

Now, a word about that center. It wouldn't be too much fun for all the participants if just one person won, right? So, we like to put some suprises in the center for everyone and then one fun thing for the winner. This last year I put punching balloons, chocolates (this would not normally be the case....but I didn't get the present ball wrapped until...THE DAY WE DID IT! Yes. That whole having-a-baby-thing put me a bit behind last year.) and a package of scented markers.

So, who won this last year? (well...it was New Year's Day....so, this year!)

It was Molly.



And there just might have been a bit of help from her cute brothers in that matter.