TGIF! Before a holiday weekend! Woo HOO! And to those of you starting summer vacation — WOW! Have a blast!
I thought I’d share a little fun thing I just learned how to do — create an animated gif. Ever seen one? Well, here’s mine to share:This is my son doing the running long jump at his elementary school track meet.
I won’t go through a tutorial, as I learned it from a great tutorial from a friend of mine, Xanthe. If you have Photoshop, you can use her tutorial here. If you don’t, then there are a variety of free sites that you can use to create your gif animation. Its lots of fun. Just use your burst mode on your camera to capture a series of images in quick succession. Then follow the tutorial or use some of the software and create something a little different and fun to share! One key tip I learned — if you are posting it to your blog, you may need to be very careful about the size of the images PRIOR to making your gif. You must resize them to the pixel width of the blog you are posting to (at least if it is a wordpress site) or it won’t display. Resizing after loading to wordpress will NOT work. (thus why this post is late since I had to remake the gif to fit TCM!)
Have a fabulous holiday weekend Mamas! And make yourself a little GIFT.
At our house, we like to keep birthdays simple. That doesn’t mean that they are not special, just simple.
Growing up, birthdays were a big deal at our house. I don’t remember over-the-top birthday parties, bounce houses, or tons of presents. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that just wasn’t how my mom rolled.) But what I do remember is that my birthday made me feel special. I remember my mom making me my favorite dinner, a special cake, and loving my birthday more than anything.
Now that I am a mom, I want to do the same for my kids. Turns out, you don’t have to do a lot or spend a lot to make that happen.
When my youngest recently turned 5, my husband and I decided to make it especially low key. His class is really big, and we just didn’t have it in us to do a party this year. Even though I usually do make a cake, the birthday boy asked me to buy cupcakes. He really likes the rings in them, I can’t compete with that. He made a few birthday requests, which we were happy to oblige, and it was a great day for all of us.
How did we make the birthday boy have a simple, but special birthday?
1. Wear something special – I was sent this adorable shirt from Petit Lemon and gave it to him when I was getting him dressed. He was so excited and it was a great way to start his birthday. It doesn’t have to be a big deal – but a favorite shirt, a colorful hair bow, something to make them feel like it is their day. You could even make one.
2. Do something special – At Clay’s school, the birthday kid gets to bring in a special snack. Most people bring cupcakes, but he wanted doughnuts, so we made a pit stop on the way to school at Krispy Kreme. 2 dozen glazed. Easy and inexpensive.
3. Eat something special – Clay loves hamburgers, and that was his choice for his birthday dinner. I made sliders and oven fries and he was happy as could be. I bought some cupcakes and we had a nice family dinner together. He will not remember that the cupcakes came from the grocery store, but he will remember that we had a special dinner all for him.
4. Gifts, but not a ton – When your child sees colorfully wrapped presents with their name on them, it doesn’t really matter if there are 3 presents or 30. We opt for a few smaller gifts and call it good. A few small toys, a book, and some clothes.
5. Involve family – We live away from all of our family, so we spend birthdays with just the 5 of us. But the phone dings and rings all day. Clay got to talk to all of his favorite people that day and he loved that they were calling just to talk to him.
This is what works for our family. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Or anything expensive or even fancy. But birthdays are a big deal to a kid. A few simple things make them feel special and loved on their big day. We try to make their birthday about them, and not about the party. There is nothing that makes me happier than when I tuck them into bed after their birthday and they tell me that they had the best day ever.
**Disclosure: Petit Lemon gifted me a birthday t-shirt. All opinions are 100% my own.**
Have you assumed that the best discussions about art take place among collectors while nibbling cheese and sipping wine? You will be delightfully surprised to discover what children’s minds have to offer!
May I suggest starting with the most basic question, “What is art?” Discussions about the very definition of art will lay a foundation for making judgments and forming opinions of preference.
Early this month, I came across a great news story about artist Florentijn Hofman’s gigantic sculpture “Rubber Duck.” This inflatable has most recently been instigating smiles from spectators on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor. Sharing this news story with your children is a surefire way to open a lively chat about “What is art?”
When talking about art with kids, it is important to create an atmosphere in which all opinions are valued and respected. Emphasize that there are no wrong answers on this learning journey as young minds’ definitions of art develop. Keep things light and let your child’s interest and response guide the number and depth of the questions you discuss. This should be a fun time of discovery and connection… one that you can build upon later.
Here are some questions you could pose to get the wheels turning:
Is “Rubber Duck” by Florentijn Hofman art?
If this big duck in the ocean is art, is the smaller rubber duck in your bathtub also art? Why or why not?
Does size matter?
Why do you think the artist made this duck?
In the article Hofman is quoted as saying that he hopes the duck “puts a smile on your face.” Does knowing the creator’s purpose help you decide if the duck is art?
Does art make you happy?
Does all art make you happy?
What other emotions might art make you feel?
If you were to make a gigantic sculpture, what would it be? What would you like people to feel when they see it?
If you care to go a step further and delve into some art history, the giant rubber duck news story lends itself to the discussion of Pop Art– an art movement that began in the mid-1950s. Pop artists made ordinary, familiar objects (like Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans”) the subject matter of their art, thus bringing popular culture to the forefront of their canvases and installations. Size was often a significant element for impact as seen in Claes Oldenburg’s Spoonbridge and Cherry.” Check your local library for books on Pop Art, many of which are written especially for children.
So next time you sit down to a midday snack of string cheese and grape juice with the little ones, how about a conversation about art? Happy small talk!
“Mothering, in my opinion, is an art, and it takes a while to get it. One of those live and learn deals.” ~Megan Mileski
We here at The Creative Mama hope that today, you have….
-breakfast in bed (even if it is just cereal)
-homemade cards with endearing, exaggerated stick people drawn inside (and lots of hearts)
-sweet presents made out of clay, tissue paper and/or pipe cleaners
-endless hugs and kisses
-a little time to yourself to relax, write, create, read, pamper yourself, or if you’re lucky — take a nap
-and most importantly… we hope that you get at least one trip to the bathroom ALONE today!
Also, if you are able, don’t forget to take the time to appreciate the special women in your life. Most of us are blessed with a network of precious women who have listened with a sympathetic ear when we needed to vent, seasoned moms who have offered advice and encouragement for all of those sleepless nights, kind friends who have filled our freezers with food when our babies were newborns. Aunts and grandmas and babysitters who have watched our children so we could work, moms who have helped out with the carpool for months of soccer practice and swim lessons. Sisters who have reassured us that we’re doing a great job despite how disappointed we might have been in how we handled that situation with our kids. Local friends who have shared books and favorite recipes and school recommendations. Bloggers who have inspired us to reach further, hold tighter, go slower, and make the years count.
As moms, we all know that we can’t do this alone. We all have different circumstances and different backgrounds, but there have been amazing women in each of our lives who have taught us how to be the mothers we are today. Moms, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, friends, cousins… we are all in this together.
Thank YOU for being here, dear mamas. Happy Mother’s Day to each of you!
The title of this post may be a bit misleading, but in the spirit of all the ‘how-to’ posts on Pinterest I thought it seemed catchy. I don’t really have a hard, fast formula on living bravely to share with you today. That would be too easy, and really, being brave is anything, but easy.
For much of my adult life I have lived in fear. Fear of failure, fear of what others think, fear of not knowing/doing the right things, fear of not being a good enough mother/wife/sister/daughter/friend/photographer…the list went on and on. It kept me from starting friendships, taking on projects, even doing things with my children. While I knew fear was, of course, a natural emotion to have, it was becoming paralyzing. It kept me from fulfilling dreams, stalled out relationships and made me quite unhappy. As mothers, we all know the trickle down effect an unhappy mama has on our families.
Something needed to change. I was frustrated with being stifled, and had no one to blame but myself and my fear. This stirring began as I entered my thirties. There’s just something kind of great about this decade of life. You’re a little smarter, a little more comfortable in your own skin. It certainly has been the decade of change for me.
It began with small steps. Praying. Talking with my husband (always my patient cheerleader). Making a bucket list. Not the jump from an airplane kind of list, but a list of things that I knew would push me just enough. A realistic one. Each item built a little on the one previous to it. Small steps of stretching…growing…learning…letting go…becoming the person that fear had kept locked up for too long.
A few items on the list…
Traveling to a photographer workshop out of town, without knowing anyone there….
Running my first half marathon (that led to 5 more and my first full this fall)…
Starting the blog that had sat in my heart for years…
Joining a book club…
Getting to know a neighbor that I just knew was a kindred spirit…
Creating a personal photography project…
Having my first gallery showing…
Getting a magazine cover…
Learning to speak my mind without guilt…
Mothering my children the way my soul knew I needed to, without guilt, without apology….
Here’s the thing about deciding to live bravely, and then doing it. You want more. Because each of those experiences listed above? They branched into more than I ever could have imagined, a life that is full, dreams fulfilled, leading to even bigger dreams…and the person hidden by fear for too long, finally feeling the sun on her face. Do I still wrestle with fear? Of course. We all do. And every experience hasn’t been good. I’ve definitely learned my limits. But what I’ve also learned, is that the first step is the hardest. That breaking the grip of fear is often the step that takes the most strength, after that, what do you have to lose? Even more…what do you have to gain?
Not long ago, I thought we might have a chance to purchase the perfect home for our family. We currently own a modest little house that I am extremely thankful for, but at the thought of moving I began to picture our lives somewhere else, and I began to see everything in our current home through a lens of it being temporary. I frequently thought or said things like, “Once we move I want to… grow a garden, hang this canvas on the wall, create a space that is more ‘me’, etc.”
After finding out that we will be staying here a bit longer, I realized the discontentment that I’d allowed to creep in, and I thought about how often I have brushed off my ideal life as something that will happen in the future. I’ve looked forward to traveling and other adventures with my family, to filling our home and our days with things that bring us joy and reflect our values. So many of these things have fallen into the category of “oh, someday…”
Now, I am absolutely a huge advocate of dreaming of the future. And I know that some things, like backpacking in Asia, will have to wait for a season in our lives in which there are no babies and a bit more of the necessary resources. But so many of the things I dream of can absolutely be part of our current lives. It turns out that my husband has much of that same longing for adventure and the same tendency to look at the future and forget the present. We have committed together to actively create the life we want right where we are, with the resources we’ve been given. If we can learn to live our lives fully and passionately here and now, we will carry that with us no matter where we go in the future.
Our home may not be the most ideal, but I can still infuse my style into every corner of it and make it a place that my family loves to be. We may have a tiny yard, but we can still grow quite a lot of food in containers. And while most of our epic travel adventures are still in our future, there is so much within driving distance of our home that we have yet to explore. We’re planning to take more roadtrips and day trips, eat dinners in the back yard, visit state parks, put our phones down, turn our computers off, and create as many real experiences as possible for our family.
I have been planted in this place for this season of my life, and I am determined to make each moment of it absolutely magnificent.
Won’t you bloom with me?
Now that spring is finally here, we have been spending lots of time outside playing. Fresh air feels so good after being stuck inside for months. My littlest one is home from school at lunchtime, so we have been soaking up our last afternoons together before he goes to kindergarten next year. Short, easy, crafts have been so much fun for us to do together and I found some great ones on the Dixie Crystals Kids Kitchen website.
One thing that I don’t like to buy is bubbles. My kids never, ever get tired of blowing bubbles and the kind that you buy in the store makes the biggest mess. I like to make my own, and this recipe made a great bubble solution. Easy, inexpensive, and you have the ingredients in your kitchen already. I don’t feel bad about throwing the leftovers away because costs pennies to make. Big bubbles and lots of laughs, the best recipe ever.
- 1 Tablespoon Dixie Crystals sugar
- 2 Tablespoons dish soap
- 1 cup water
Put all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
Grab some bubble blowers.
The next project we tackled was Butterfly Food. We have a lot of birds in our yard, and the kids love to watch the bird feeder, so I thought it would be fun to see if we could attract some butterflies. We don’t have a lot of flowers or trees, so making this concoction helps attract butterflies without having a lot of flowers in your yard. While this recipe might seen a little “adult”, butterflies apparently like booze and sugar. We had a lot of fun making it.
- 1 pound Dixie Crystals sugar
- 1 can stale beer
- 3 very overripe bananas, mashed
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 1 cup juice (we used apple)
- 1 shot rum
Put all of the ingredients in a large bowl or blender. We used an immersion blender and it did the job perfectly. Blend until smooth.
Get a few sponges and poke a hole with a screwdriver. Tie some string so that you hang the sponges from your trees.
Soak the sponges in the solution.
Or, put the butterfly food in a jar and use a paint brush to paint your fences and trees.
Hang the sponges from the trees in your yard, and watch for butterflies.
**This post was sponsored by Dixie Crystals. All opinions are 100% my own.**