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A Long Line of Sub-par Theatrical Productions

Yes, that’s my children’s legacy! As my cousin once said, this is one in “a long line of sub-par theatrical productions”. We did plays, my mother’s family did in-home musical concerts, and I’m sure way back, there were theatrical productions by the pioneer players!

Just like the March girls putting on productions in Little Women my children seem to put on plays when they’re with their cousins. It’s wonderful!

Here are some shots at my in-law’s house of their last play –

 

The players at the magic wishing well

 

At the curtain call

 

What do you need to get all of this fun in your life?

  • Dress-ups (old prom dresses, go to thrift stores for costumes, old Halloween costumes, old dance costumes – just keep a box handy and throw in any old outfits)
  • Props(again, just use what you have – toys, old games, boxes, etc. Let the kids be creative, you’ll be impressed what they do!)
  • Space(Any where – garage, carport, backyard, living room, any place can be a stage!)
  • Imagination – (quite honestly, the key here is to have belief in your children. Tell them that they can do it. Maybe they’ll need a story prompt to begin with, but my experience has been to just encourage them to put on a play (a dance, or a show, or a concert) and they will do it. No further prompting needed. Watch them go!)
  • Be an audience – (it is quite critical that you and the grandparents and the aunts and uncles watch the show when it’s ready. Film it, set up chairs, have them make tickets and programs, whatever! Just be there. Now, it’s okay to say to them in the middle of the performance, “one more scene” or “one more minute”, because sometimes these things can go on rather long, but MAKE sure to give lots of clapping during curtain call and positive reinforcement (“wow, who knew that you were so creative!?!”, or “I loved the part when …”, or  “What happened after …”,  the more you talk with your children about what they did, the more they will do.) 

Finally, my favorite part is to see all of the cute creative touches. Check out my favorite one from this last performance –

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This is a microphone that they made out of paper clips and tape. Cute huh!!

What’s the point of all of this?

  • Helps your children become creative problem solvers
  • Helps exercise their imaginations
  • Great childhood memories
  • Builds social skills
  • Helps them practice performing
  • They become creators, not just consumers

and at the very least –

  • Gives you time away from hearing, “I’m bored!” 😉

What shows do your kids do? Let me know in the comments.

 

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School Projects – we rock!

This is just a reminder to my daughter that together, we can rock school projects!!  Every time we work in a school project, she FREAKS because whatever we are doing is not how she pictures it in her head. The problem is, we usually can’t recreate what’s in her head because we usually don’t have the supplies to make “life size dolls” and “what-not”. So we have to use what’s available.

This week’s assignment was to make a shoebox type float (a miniature float for a parade) about the county in our state that she was assigned. Here is the rubric –   She got Salt Lake county. She wanted to get something professionally store bought. The problem is, there aren’t a lot of SL county floats in the local stores. 😉 Then she wanted to build the whole thing out of Legos or put the float on wheels. (Great ideas, but we didn’t have the time or the supplies!) So, she was forced to use what we have at home (plus some styrofoam that I got at Walmart for $3). 

And here is her float – 

  
Why does she doubt? Our mixed creativity ROCKS!!! She did most of the float and I just helped with some basic ideas, but she put it together. 

Then she told me that next time she freaks out to show her these pictures so that she can remember that using what we have can work well, especially when we use our creativity!!!
   

That’s one happy fourth grader!!

What school projects are you doing? 

  

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Creative People: Sonia Singh and the Tree Change Dolls

I have been so impressed by Sonia Singh’s Tree Change Dolls (see the video below) –

I especially loved the looks on the girl’s faces as they held and played with their dolls. One of the girls said, “They kind of look like they’re the same age as you,” and you could see that in their play. I think that the innocence of childhood is so beautiful and should be protected and nurtured. While I do prepare my children for the world that they live in, I am very careful in the way that I prepare them. I have had a very hard time choosing dolls for them and the girls and I have gone the rounds about which toys I’ll buy. In fact, I fell in love with Fanny, by Hollie Hobbie for that very reason, (see this post on my book review).

Sonia talked about the fact that her intention wasn’t to make a statement about the sexualization of girl’s toys, but as her work has become viral, it has created a debate and I believe that part of that is, as her husband said, “They really look lovely this way.” It’s true. There is a sweetness to the dolls. And, it does reflect a choice that the toy manufacturers are making. Based on at least some of the debate (and many of the mothers out there) it seems that a lot more people would also like to have dolls that are sweet and simple. I do love American Girl Dolls for that reason, but they are quite expensive, and this is a great way to save the expense, create, and teach some valuable lessons all at once.

It’s clear that Sonia’s main purpose was to make a statement about upcycling and reusing (as evidenced in her own words, but also in the name that she chose for the company). I am struck by the message that she has given both about choice and about creativity. Knowing that she can’t become a doll manufacturer on the scale of a toy company, she runs an etsy store and has created some videos encouraging others to create their own dolls. On her tumbler site, she encourages others to create saying,

I encourage others to recycle and upcylce old dolls and toys. Do it yourself, do it with friends, do it with children and others in your family, do it with strangers. There are so many plastic dolls already made that could still be played with and could inspire the creative minds of children with a little attention and creativity.

She also points others to some Do It Yourself videos on how to do a doll “makeunder”. The first is on how to remove the paint and change the face of the dolls –

and then she has one on what to do about missing feet and/or shoes, that one uses chemicals and is not recommended for children, but is interesting to watch –

I am so edified by this! I sometimes forget that I still have a choice and can fix the things that I don’t like in the world. We can change our clothes, toys, media, etc. and create things that are uplifting and wholesome in the world around us. Thank you Sonia for such a brilliant idea and for encouraging others to create as well!

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Don’t Wait Too Long

JMW getting biggerSo, two weeks ago, I wrote a post about summer creativity. Read it here. My girls went crazy after I showed it to them and they created an arcade of their own. They were busy for days. They created a bottle ring toss, a claw game in which you could win jewelry, an egg-carton game, and a few others (5 or 6 total).  They found prizes from our thrift store pile, made tokens, and wrote out rules.  Everyday, they asked me to put it up on Facebook so that they could have a “grand opening”.  But, I kept putting it off.

One of my daughters, who is a total organizational/neat freak, decided that now (two weeks later) it was old news and has disassembled everything. (The other daughter didn’t mind, because her attention span is short).

The Arcade did have one day of fun though.  My sister’s kids came and played with it for an afternoon and they all seemed to have an AMAZING time.

A word of caution, don’t wait too long. Kids grow. Kids loose interest.

But kids are also inventive, loving, and very forgiving. It is not too late to enjoy their childhood. Remember Stephen R. Covey’s metaphor of Emotional Bank Accounts (or EBAs)? He writes –

Remember the emotional bank account—similar to a bank account, you can make deposits or withdrawals from each of your family relationships. Make a conscious effort to make meaningful deposits in your relationships. When you make a withdrawal, apologize and correct the mistake.

See more on his blog here.

It reminds me of the 1957 song, Turn Around

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.
Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

So, I am sorry that I didn’t get pictures of the creativity. I am sorry that I didn’t follow through, but we will have more fun.  Right now, I’m making this post is short so that we can hatch up new schemes of summer creativity.  What are you doing with your children this summer?

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Be “that” Dad! (Or, Let’s all channel the inner creator – which is what the post ends up being about.)

Recently I ran across “the Dad that draws on sandwich bags,” David Laferriere, a designer and illustrator whCreative Dado creates art with a sharpie and a ziploc baggie, so that everyday when his kids open their lunches at school, they are met with something amazing!

Check out a video about him here and links to his website and his flickr account which is definitely worth a look.

In the video, he stated that “it was a way to kick-start his creative juices in the morning” which is such a win-win! Be creative, show love to the kids, become listed as one of the world’s greatest Dads. NICE!

My first thought today is, “in what ways can I creatively show my kids that I love them?” I know that whenever my Mom sent me a note in my  school lunch, I relished it.  Just a simple little, “Have a lovely day, my treasure. XOXO, Mummy” (My mom has a British background. 😉 ).

I am more of a mediocre artist, so as I studied this amazing Dad, I began to think about things that I like to do creatively and how I could use those creative juices in a way that would show my love?  Kids are excited when they are the center of attention. What a great way to bond with them.  I decided to pull out the old (and some new) poems that I wrote about them when they were toddlers, dust them off, add a layer of polish and see if it will make them smile.  Here’s one –

Ruby in her red galoshes
In the wet and mud she sploshes,
In the tub when she washes,
At the table, munch and moshes.
Sploshes, washes, moshes – 
Ruby loves her red galoshes!

Until …
Ruby spies pink glitter slippers,
Though this time she is much hipper,
As the shoe is much, much quicker,
And it matches the skirt with zippers.
Hipper, quicker, zipper – 
Ruby loves pink glitter slippers.

Until …
Ruby spies the green high heel
Now, this is the real deal!
Matches it with a dress of teal,
Twirls and she gives a squeal!
Deal, teal, squeal – 
Ruby loves mom’s big high heels.

Until …

Okay, it’s silly, I know. But there are a couple of things I want to say here about creation.

  1. I LOVED writing that. It was silly, and fun, and I loved the spark of imagination that came as I wrote.
  2. I am PETRIFIED to share it. You can tell because I practically apologized for it right after I shared it (I said, “Okay, it’s silly, I know”.) If I had more courage in my own creative abilities, I’d say something like – “Did you want me to sign a copy of that poem for you?  ‘Cause that’s gold!”

Why do we doubt our abilities? (Ok, maybe I’m making that statement too general. Maybe you are different and everything that you do is amazing.  If so, that’s awesome! Ride that pony, keep creating!) For the rest of us … I’ve noticed something about a lot of my students. When I push the ones that have undeclared majors on what they would really like to study, they usually say something like interior design, or cooking. But they blush and say it under their breath.

Why is that, I wonder? I’m not judging them for cooking. I’m not thinking “How dare you want to major in cooking!  Go back to the social status that you were born into – to be a stable boy. Your father was a stable boy, your grandfather was a stable boy, and so shall you be. There will be no dreams here …” It’s not happening. Usually, I’m wondering if somewhere there will be a pastry in it  for me. 😉

When I went to college, I finally got the courage to take a few creative writing classes (which I reveled in) and some theater classes (which I loved almost equally). But, I was too scared to major in creative writing or theater. I’m happy with the path that my life went on, but I counsel everyone to study what they love.  You will excel when you are doing what you love, not what just what you think will make money, because if you hate it when you’re doing it, you won’t make money in it anyway. Yes, you know that I’m right on this. Just think about “that” doctor at the clinic that no one wants to go to because he/she is a misery to be around.

For those of us who already have a path (college degree, work, family, etc.), practice your creative dreams! Practice on your children, who think the world of you, anyway (especially if you create for or with them). Practice on a blog that mom and only your most loyal friends will read.  Dare yourself to perform at an open mic night, or a community play (you can pull off that English accent!) Practice on sandwich bags, or soccer fields as a coach (where you can create those magic plays that only you can dream up).  But most importantly, engage your children with you in your creativity. It will give you opportunities to bond, to talk, to dream together. Each of my older daughters is now writing a book, as in “Mom, can I borrow the computer? I have to work on my book.”  Then we read our writing to each other and discuss plot, character, settings, etc.

Maybe in doing this we and our children will become creators rather than just consumers, (that’s a win for kids who are glued to devices all day!)  Maybe we can get closer to that child who is having a hard time. Maybe we can gain courage in our abilities and talents. Maybe we could be able to have that spark of inspiration fill our souls a little every day.  Now, that would be awesome!

Ruby's Shoes

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Shared Human Experience Reflected in Art

This has been quite an amazing year for me. My father passed away on November 24, 2012 and my daughter was born on October 15, 2013.  When Dad passed two days after Thanksgiving last year, I could have never guessed that less than a year later I would hold a new baby in my arms.  What a blessing she has been, and both the pregnancy and her birth has helped me ease through the past year and the anniversary of his death.

This morning, I came across this phenomenal performance by the Hungarian Dance troupe, Attraction, that mirrored my own experience, and I had to share it. (The group was the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2013).

It is so amazing to me that their beautiful and emotional performance is one that can reach across language and culture and can help comfort me, even as I relive and process this year of life events.  

Just this weekend, I spoke with a friend who is dealing with her mother’s cancer.  She basically said, “How can I be a mom if I lose my mom, my source of comfort and knowledge?” I felt the same about my Dad, my human search engine, cheerleader, and source of all knowledge and help.  Others have come and with their talents and love have helped to fill in the gaps.  It will never be the same, but now I know that I need to make my children my friends and my support in the way that Dad was to me.  I may not have him, but I will have them, and I can be (in part) to them, what he was to me.

When Dad passed, I was shocked when we showed up at the viewing and found that there were flowers all over the social hall, which had been sent, mostly, by others who had tragically lost someone early.  I found comfort in friends who also had lost their parents too early.  Now I know how to comfort those who have lost.  Maybe that is the reason that we have shared human experiences, so that we can understand each other.  So that we can know that we are not alone.  And, so that we can help each other deal with both the difficult moments that life brings and the joyful ones.

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Non-Pumpkin Halloween Fun

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I wanted to do a fun Halloween family activity, and so I decided to be creative with what we had at home. My husband is out of work, and we literally have no extra money. I wish that were a joke. I know how cheap pumpkins are, but I don’t get paid for another week. Since one of the main points of this blog is to celebrate good old-fashioned creativity, I thought I’d share. You’ll probably laugh at me, but here’s what we did.

We had a box full of apples that we’ve been eating for a while. We still have a bunch left, so instead of decorating pumpkins, we decorated apples. Paint, glitter, paper = an evening of family fun. Even my sweet husband had a good time painting apples to celebrate sports teams.

Here are the results:

The front of my husband’s apples –

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And the back –

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My four-year-old’s –

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My seven-year-old’s (she did a squash, because, to be honest, we weren’t going to eat it 😉 –

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All together now –

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So silly, I know, but I think that the girls will have a fun memory. Also, it took the sting out of the job search to spend time together rather than self-medicating our sadness by watching television or moping.