Archive for the ‘Features’ Category
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…)
Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
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.
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…)
Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
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.
Click here to see what other goodies you can find in the shop
Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
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.
Thursday, April 16th, 2015
The other day I asked a friend who treats kids for anxiety what she thought about free range parenting. She said, “Did you ever read that article in the Atlantic about the adventure playground where kids play freely without hardly any adult supervision? I love it.”
And she’s not alone. Experts say that allowing kids to engage in perceived dangerous activities helps them become well-adjusted adults. And having my kids become well-adjusted adults sounds pretty darn nice. Although truth be told, I’d settle for even marginally well-adjusted.
So in the spirit of playing adventurously, I’ve created a list of activities for all those out there who say, a little danger does a childhood good. (more…)
Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
Well hello there! I’m hanging out over at PBS Parents sharing a technique for marbling and tying it in with a geography/art & culture/world history lesson. Basically, I’m kitchen sinking it, educationally speaking.
Hey, speaking of education, have you heard about the latest educational trend coming out of Finland? It’s called phenomenon teaching. Instead of organizing classes by traditional subjects (e.g., math, science, etc), students study topics in which many subjects are covered. Here’s a quote from an article about the shift:
“Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.”
Sounds intriguing and reminds me of the passion projects in the piece Deborah wrote about homework. I’m sure the world will be looking to see how it plays out for the Finns. At first glance, it sounds pretty awesome:
“We come across children playing chess in a corridor and a game being played whereby children rush around the corridors collecting information about different parts of Africa. Ms Jaatinen describes what is going on as “joyful learning”. She wants more collaboration and communication between pupils to allow them to develop their creative thinking skills.”
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Friday, February 20th, 2015
How has your Friday been? I’ve spent most of mine pretending I’m not cold. I even photoshopped myself into other people’s pictures taken in warm locations. I may be going stir crazy. Let’s just say I empathize with Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. How many days left until spring?
On the bright side, there’s been a lot to love on the internet this week! Let’s take a look at five of them: stories of adventures, dairy free goodness, scarves to keep warm, a grass roots campaign, heart to heart.
Friday, February 13th, 2015
Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope someone treats you well this February 14th—whether it’s your kids, significant other, a friend, or even a stranger. There’s so much to love out there when we look for it. Here are 5 things to love right now: people changing the world, a twist on selfie art, strong women, a valentine’s day jam, and love you can squeeze.