Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

The “S” Word

Monday, August 31st, 2015

talking to kids about sex
*Quick heads up: This post is about sex. Read at your own level of comfort.

I was 11 years old when George Michael told everyone he wanted our sex. I remember it clearly. As soon as George’s first note hit our car’s antenna, my mom turned the station. She was lighting fast. I still marvel at her reaction time. How did she know? But even with deft censoring, my curiosity was piqued. I had already heard the song somewhere—either at a friend’s or on the bus or anywhere pop music was played—so I wondered why my mom turned the station so fast. Why didn’t she want me to hear about wanting someone’s sex? And what was sex anyhow?

Experts agree we should start talking to our kids about sex at younger ages than we think. But how young are we talking here? My husband and I were forced to have the talk when our daughter heard from a kid on the bus how babies were made. “He said it’s when the mom and dad rub their private parts together.” She was in first grade. I know, some of you are feeling very uncomfortable right now. (more…)

Posted in Features, Parenting, The Tween Years | No Comments »

Quite Possibly The Cutest Socks Ever

Friday, August 28th, 2015

These socks are the cutest things ever

Ahhh! How cute are these socks? They’re called Pals Socks and they’re intentionally mismatched friends. Think dragon and unicorn, t-rex and triceratops, space robots and earth robots. I think the whole concept is fantastic and fun. I even love their hashtag #defeetthenorm.

Since I love these socks so much that I thought you’d love them too, I asked Pals Socks if they’d offer you guys a discount. They said, “Heck yeah!” So they’re offering Classic Play readers 20% off their purchase using coupon code “classicplay” at checkout. Happy back-to-school shopping!

ps. they have adult sizes too.

love these socks for the kids!

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Play With Your Food! Tangram Puzzle Sandwich

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

these tangram sandwiches are a fun twist on the classic puzzles

This is my 48th Adventures in Learning post! For this one I adapted a project from a great book about math. It’s a classic twist on tangram puzzles. I love it because it’s creative, whimsical, and dead simple. Plus, it helps challenge kids to think about things differently—geometry is all around us; a sandwich can become art; some rules should be challenged (e.g., a sandwich doesn’t always have to come in halves).

Click here for the full post!

ps. I’ve been working with PBS Parents for nearly two years now. Time has flown and I’ve learned some surprising things. First, I write a lot about math. I was not an exceptional math student in school. I didn’t love it. It stressed me out. I’m sure that’s why I try so hard now to think of ways math would have appealed more to me as a kid. Second, the general public is way harsher than I give them credit for. Like, Whoaaaaa, settle down now people and step away from keyboard. Third, I’m a seriously lucky blogger.

Posted in Features, Play + Learn | No Comments »

Happy 4th!

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

sea to shining sea

We’re heading south this week to the shores of North Carolina. We have one post while we’re away that I’m super excited about (it’s a new video), so keep your eyes peeled. But my priorities next week look like this: a little reading, maybe some writing, but above all else, relaxing. Also, I’m staying the heck out of the water. The sharks can have it. I’ll just appreciate the ocean from afar.

Have a wonderful week, friends! Oh, and I’ll make sure to share some photos on Instagram. :)

ps. a few happy beachy posts…
-shell memories
-summer sand art
-things to do in the outer banks: nags head

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Hair Story

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015


Oh, hair. I’ve been through every emotion with mine—love, rage, fear, awe (as in what the ???), and yes, grief.

I’ve been scarred by my hair. In fact, I can recall with such vivid intensity two hair-traumas, it’s like they happened earlier today. The first was the summer before my freshman year of high school. My aunt took me to a salon hidden inside JC Penny for a perm. The first clue something terrible was about to happen: the salon was empty. Second: it was located inside a department store. (more…)

Posted in Features, Style, this is 39 | 3 Comments »

Classic Play + Sprout by HP = Summer of Fun!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

love this modern twist on the classic scavenger hunt game

This post is sponsored by Sprout® by HP

We have just a few weeks left of the school year and the kids are already amped. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out what we’re going to do all summer. We aren’t ones for camps (they’re so pricey!) or pool memberships (I’m too impatient for the waiting lists, also, I have a fair amount of sun damage already eek!), which leaves us with lots of hours of… oh boy.

Over the years, we’ve tried a lot of different things. While I’m a huge fan of ‘slow summers’ I’m also a fan of setting up some fun things now and then. Basically, guided experiences. I set something up and let the kids take the reigns from there. It gives them a sense of independence, and I get the feeling that I’m kickin’ butt in the parenting department. Also, I like knowing that when they bring me up in therapy later, they’ll discuss how I was an amazing parent that damaged them just enough to make them interesting, but not enough to be the source of all their problems. I’m trying to nail that parenting sweet spot.

My goal for this summer is to encourage creativity and frivolity, both the kids’ and my own. I have lots of plans for guided creative experiences—journaling, building, drawing, games, etc. There are so many ways to express creativity. Oftentimes, it comes down to the tools we use. This summer, I am beyond psyched to use the Sprout® by HP. The kids have already claimed it as their own. It makes creative expression easy.

the sprout by hp

Since I’ve declared this the summer of Creative Expression, we’re kicking it off with a scavenger hunt that combines a creative exercise for me (a bit o’ painting), a creative exercise for the kids (tuning into their environment), an easy set up, and an activity that gets the kids out of the house (and yes, out of my hair for a minute). It’s a win-win-win! And the Sprout will make easy, and fun work of it. Ready?

Painted Block Scavenger Hunt

You’ll Need: (more…)

Posted in Camp Classic Play!, Features, Play + Learn | 2 Comments »

Stylo No. 4

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

bananas for classic play

The new issue of Stylo is out. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a super stylish fashion magazine for women who sew and design clothes and toys for kids. My long-time friends Celina Bailey and Jess Abbott produce it. Celina reached out to me and asked if I’d like to submit a little something for their High Fructose Summer theme. So, I created the illustration above.

It’s easy to get lost in a publication like Stylo. The colors and artistry are all so vibrant. There’s magic in it, I tell you. I’m blown away by what the featured artists can do with a piece of fabric. It’s incredible! I also appreciate that projects like the ice cream ponytail holders, painted fabric and do-it-yourself badges are also included.

When artists come together, beautiful things happen. In that spirit, the print above is inspired by all the artists (and oddballs) out there. May you find your bunch. Good things happen when you do.

You can purchase the print above here. You can get it on a set of stationery cards, and a tote.

Click here to see what other goodies you can find in the shop

Posted in Becoming an Artist, Creativity, Features | No Comments »


Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

baltimore street art

Note: There is some disturbing language in this piece. I’ve tried to censor it best I can while still telling the story honestly.

I think about race. Maybe too much. Maybe not enough.

As a kid, I played a game. I would sit upright, place my hands on my lap and stare straight ahead so I couldn’t see my skin. Then I’d pretend to be black.

I’m a bit embarrassed about it now. It seems like such a silly thing. But I was a naive kid and I desperately wanted to be a Huxtable. I wanted our loud and crazy family drama to be resolved in 22 minute chunks; 30 when you added breaks for pudding pops.

I grew up in a fairly conservative white town. There were few kids of color in my school. I had no reference points for what it must be like to be black. Close to 100% of the interaction I had with people of color were through textbooks and television. Meaning they were either stuck in time or stereotyped. They either always made the right choice—from choosing nonviolent resistance to saying the exact right thing at the exact right moment—or the wrong choice, their pictures showing up on the nightly news as fodder about “inner city problems.” There was no gray.

I’m raising my kids in a different place than where I grew up. I’m raising them in Baltimore. As Frank Pembleton said, “It’s a brown town.”

My daughter attends a school where she is the racial minority. Like 20% racial minority. In some of her classes she is one of two white kids. This is not an intentional thing. It just happened. She applied to a program she loved at an excellent school that produces some of the highest scores in the state and was accepted.

My son attends a more racially diverse school. He is about 50% represented. Both my kids know Asian kids, Black kids, Muslim kids; girls who cover their hair and those who keep them in braids; boys who ride at 12 o’clock and those who are nerds just like them. We live in the same neighborhoods and shop at the same stores.

Race doesn’t seem to be as weird for them as it was for me growing up. Their friends are their friends. That’s just how they see them.

I see their friends differently. I see their faces when I read racists tweets. I see their faces missing from book covers and television shows. I see them when I hear a white woman yell at a group of black women, “We owned your people once and we will own you again!” I see them when I hear a white man tell everyone at a summer picnic about the time he shot a n**** in the head during the ’68 riot.

I understand the need for the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. I also understand why white people respond #alllivesmatter.

Like most Baltimoreans right now, I am a thorny mess of emotions. Included in them are anger, frustration, fear. I read comments across facebook and the twittersphere supporting the rioters, or rationalizing their actions, and think, Yes, so easy for you to say because you don’t live here. For you, it’s all theoretical; something you tweet about because you want to be edgy.

Meanwhile, we watch while our city burns, listening to sirens and the helicopters overhead, knowing that the whole world is watching. Knowing that we have to live with what remains.

I also read the racists comments that shout “Let the animals burn West Baltimore!” I want to punch those people in the face and say, that’s my home too ahole. I feel the anger rise as I watch reporters on tv work hard to shoehorn in a pre-determined narrative that fits the story they want to tell, rather than listen to the story that’s being told.

The truth is what happens here affects all of us—the brutality, the racism, the riots, the nickel rides, slashed fire hoses, protesters marching peacefully, citizens protecting storefronts, crowds arriving to clean up, groups providing safe places for kids to hang out. All of that affects you, me, our kids, our cities, and our country, because of, or in spite of, your skin color.

I’m not saying I don’t have my own racial baggage. Because I do. I’m imperfect. I see things through my filter. I’m not some enlightened individual who understands the plight of anyone other than myself.

But what I am saying is this: as someone who lives with race, I see that things are broken. And it’s up to all of us to fix them.

We can’t continue to stare straight ahead, pretending we don’t notice the color of our own skin.

Posted in Features | 17 Comments »