Let’s Rock! project #1

Creativity with Natural Objects are not only free but freeing. This is from my other blog. Thought it could start out  suggesting summertime activities.

Sillyfrog's Blog

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Rocks have always been an interest for me. My career goal in Jr.High was to be a geologist. Have you ever really looked at them?

The shapes are interesting. I began playing with rock shapes when I started photography. I used them to create characters and taught my granddaughter shapes.

This project takes only time, paper , crayons and imagination.

The first part is collecting assorted shaped stones. I tell the kids to pick tiny ones ,as well as,some the size of an ATM card. (I would have said half dollar but I wasn’t sure they had seen one 🙂 ) Also tell them to pick up some twigs or acorns to embellish their artwork.

The second stage is to lay out their rocks on an outdoor table and to create creatures. Rocks are much more fun than blocks!…

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Bella and Raya

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Evelyn and Raya

 It’s been a long while since I spoke of Evelyn’s imaginary friends. Bella has been showing up from time to time but fairies, as you know, tend to make brief entrances.

There’s been a new friend lately. Her name is Raya and she is the same size as Evelyn.

Raya appeared at bath time a few months ago. Evelyn wanted her tiny Bella around but Bella’s size and delicate wings kept her out of rough and tumble play. Raya is the same size and age as Evelyn. She rides behind Evelyn on her tricycle and takes “tubbies”with her. Of course, Raya is the messy one and usually creates the splashes that go over the edge.

The names of Evelyn’s friends came from her. What, or who, inspired them is as mysterious as where they came from. Evelyn is posing (above) while hugging Raya.

There was one startling bit of news about Bella last week. Evelyn claims that she has lost her wings. Although she seems to have retained her 2” height, one ponders if she may be evolving in some way?
I’ll be following these three closely and add updates. 🙂

We ARE Artists

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We held our first annual art show in August. The kids and I had a blast. Family members showed up and even purchased some pieces!
All kids are artists. The hard part is keeping them artists.
My personal love comes from my own artistic ability. It came to me gradually and through much effort. I simply set my heart on being an artist.
Paisley printed ladies with untamed hair pulled back with twine used to sit painting by rural roads when I was a kid. They looked so serenely happy. Their unfinished paintings were impressive even to a 9-year-old racing by with her nose pressed to the car window. So…I drew and I drew and I drew. At recess, in 5 th and 6 th grade, I walked around with a sketch pad. Finally, an adult, or two, told me they thought I had some talent.
That gave me wings!
With my day care friends, I take that experience to them before they even start reading. Not all of them have the same level of interest but, those who do, are given every opportunity to shine.
I clearly remembered my childhood frustration over doing things “right” and my own talent never soared until I cast THAT idea away. Artists are not afraid of mistakes because there aren’t any. The work is an experience not a project.
My kids are only given plain paper and assorted tools. Our attitude is “go for it!”
The very first year (age 18 months and on) produces muddy messes. If it doesn’t, the kids are being held back in their exploration. Then, amazing things start to happen. The painted paper has separation of colors…the page goes from a scribble in one corner to a filled page…the child names her painting eventually and then decides to make a specific image before she begins. Bam!
An artist is born. No piece of artwork leaves my house unsigned after that. It is owned by its creator.
The kids who spend their formative years playing with me, don’t ever for a minute plan to become artists, they know they ARE artists.

Day Care Syndrome aka Home Sweet Home

cropped-cropped-cropped-header1.jpgThere are wonderful milestones that parents happily anticipate achieving. No more messy diapers, no more dripping sippy cups, no more highchair taking up valuable space, no more child safety locks and no more playpen. These things remain constant in a family day care home. They become part of the ordinary landscape, even gaining creative usefulness.

My playpen is an all purpose storage area including single forgotten socks and dog toys. The highchair lives on my porch. It has become a valuable spot to hang damp clothing and place plants in need of repotting. Each no longer in use for their intended purpose, have become the tapestry of my happy home. To the seasoned decorator, they are tacky and ill matched. I’ve noticed that day care providers are not the dinner party hostess type and it’s no wonder. I stopped seeing things through that kind of discriminating “eye” years ago.

Hand prints on mirrors are invisible unless I’m taking a photograph and notice them through the focused lens.
Stacks of drawings in the center of my kitchen table aren’t a nuisance unless I’m searching for a pen. Coat hooks are meant to hold multiple coats and bags aren’t they? Scatter rugs move like icebergs in my home. I know they aren’t ever stationed where they were first placed but never actually see them make a move.

Quick efficiency is treasured more than strict order in the family day care home. A play area can be transformed into a cozy den with a sweep and a tuck. At week’s end, we have a treasure hunt for toys, socks, and sippy cups that have gone missing. This event is looked forward to by the kids. (Warning: avoid serving milk in wandering sippy cups.)
Be advised. A bulletin board is essential but may come crashing down in the quiet of the night when loaded with more than 7 pounds of papers, which include the emergency numbers, class photos, old spelling words and triumphant tests, paintings by more than one child, as well as, the usual seasonal decorations, and grocery lists.
And last, but not least, imagine on retirement day the rewarding experience to be had when the toilet paper roll is not perpetually empty but filled with quality paper. The kind that requires only a few sheets for adults but would stop up a toilet like cement when used at “kid” proportions. Ah…now that’s a milestone to aim for!

She Ain’t Heavy, She’s Bella.

Evelyn’s relationship with her imaginary fairy friend, Bella, hasn’t evolved as quickly as I had expected. Big sister, Katherine, had a cast of characters by this stage in her imaginary friend days. Bella seems to like working alone.

She’s ever present though. Evelyn has a loosely closed fist almost constantly. Once in awhile, I’ll ask her what is in her hand only to hear, “Oh Grandma, you know it’s Bella.”

Even when she doesn’t see me watching, Evelyn places Bella on the table in order to use both hands. Just last week, she was asked to play football on the sidelines of Katherine’s softball practice. As she raced by her mother with the football tucked under one arm, she hollered to her Mom, “Catch Mommy! Please hold Bella.” Then she waved her hand in the air tossing the fairy not the ball.

On one occasion, Evelyn held both fists in the air announcing that one held Bella, and the other, Baby Bella. She was Bella’s new ( even smaller!) baby sister. I haven’t heard from her, or “seen” her lately.
Out of the blue, when Bella gets into a high flying routine, Evelyn invites me to watch. Sometimes the fairy takes on a superhero role and becomes, Super Bella! It’s quite awe inspiring and I am reminded to clap for her, if I forget.

Yes, she is able to “leap tall buildings in a single bound” and, according to Evelyn, her goal is to save people from falling. I’m thinking she’s very effective. I haven’t seen a single person fall from the sky on Bella’s watch.

The “Bella Experience” has been so dramatically different from Katherine’s Zabby Eight. I have no idea what twists will happen next. You’ll certainly be kept in the loop.

Tend the Garden

This is an amazing post worthy of my blog and support of children. Enjoy!

Storyshucker

A longtime friend commented during dinner that her next door neighbor’s son was on the path to nowhere and constantly in trouble. She thought herself clever referring to him as “a weed in the garden of life”. Although an avid fan of barbed words and wit, I found her comment harsh directed at a kid who was barely a teenager. He was dismissed and labeled as worthless. A weed.

“But maybe he’s a pokeweed!” I said in a positive tone.

She rolled her eyes. I recognized the look of resignation on her face. The look many of my friends have when I spit out a puzzling one-liner and they know a story is coming. She sipped her drink and grinned, arms crossed in silent permission for me to proceed.

Years ago I had a yard packed with plants. It was full of boxwoods, azaleas, and geraniums surrounding a dogwood centerpiece…

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The Presence of Bella

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It’s been a while since my last update, but it is still clear that Bella is ever-present in Evelyn’s daily life.
When I attempt to hand things to Evelyn, or ask her to take my hand, she pauses to place Bella somewhere safe. Yesterday, I unfolded her sweaty little hand to relieve her of Bella so she was able to grab the slide with both hands for climbing.
(There they are in the photo above! I asked Evie to hold Bella out for a photo.)
What is especially cool is the fact that Bella is a fairy. Her size, and wings, make her adventures so different from Katherine’s imaginary friends. I think Bella’s “stature challenges” will be very useful to Evelyn as she, herself, is on the tiny side. And, of course, Bella is almost useless when it comes to picking up toys which keeps Evelyn on clean-up duty alone. HA!
We’ve started noticing that Bella engages in many of the naughty things that Evelyn does. She and Evelyn have each engaged in writing on themselves with pens and locking doors.
Yes, fairies have pens but they are “really tiny ones”. As each day starts anew, I’m happy to announce that Evelyn and Bella took a tubby last night and came in all clean and shiny this morning. We’ll see if the talk I had with them did any good.

One thing that Evelyn’s imaginary friend can do, that Katherine’s never could, is ride on the bubbles that we blow and swiftly flutter to safety when the crowd gets too rowdy. Oh the places we may go!
Another interesting difference is that Bella has no pets, family, or friends. Katherine’s, Zabby Eight, had a multitude of new characters almost daily!
Bella and Evelyn are going to Myrtle Beach next week and, soon after, they’ll be coming to camp. As fairies are very discreet, I’ll have to listen extra well to find out more. I promise that this is going to be fun!

Identifying Adversaries

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Communication is a delicate matter. Some would say communicating with small children is extra difficult. They haven’t mastered language and, therefore, they cannot make their needs precisely known. This seems very logical.

What children have to offer, though, is an unbiased view of the world. Yes, they are self-centered. It is themselves against the world. Yet, their honesty is quite refreshing and often funny.
For some time, I have scoffed at the efforts in Early Childhood Education to do away with competition. My argument was that life is a competitive sport and learning to lose, with grace, cannot be taught without it. I have revisited this idea, and although I still find it valid, I am willing to see a benefit to reducing competition. Yet, the common practice of giving everyone a trophy is absolutely absurd and won’t teach them what I believe is the most important lesson. Insisting that everyone wins implies that any trophy is a fully worthy kind of goal and “fighting/competing” is never required for the BIG win. We want kids to realize that they must compete but, sharpening competitive skills, should comprise growing up to compete against problems, not directly against our comrades. We must not buy into making everyone “feel” good while reducing the motivation to DO good. No one vote, one act of kindness, or one “wrong” corrected, can change the world. Winning requires a group effort and a truthful definition, of the competition, includes identifying who/what the real adversary is, not just an “eye on the prize” trophy at all (or no) effort or cost.
What brought me to this new enlightenment was my heartfelt concern over the division in our country today. We, Americans, aren’t doing well in efforts to solve problems because we are focused on competing with each other. (Yikes…”divide and conquer” has caused the demise of other thriving societies. I hope you do not think we are impervious to that principle.)
Winning individual arguments has taken on a lopsided, more important, role than working together toward a collective victory. In politics, the largest amount of energy has been going into trumping each other’s advances. How did we lose sight of the fact that we belong to the same team and mission?
The tactic of demonizing each other’s motives is the worst of this. Time for us to ask ourselves the hard questions because any open-minded person (most of us) would admit we know ourselves better than the complexities of anyone else.

The most important question we must ask is, what do I want?
Be honest, after all, you are asking yourself.
Do I want a better country?
Can I make it better without a united effort?
Many of us are angry, who are we really angry with?
Am I buying into a media and political hype by embracing that there’s a “right” and “wrong” side to complex problems or that either/or arguments really help?
Let’s examine a few ridiculous, often not challenged, assumptions:
Republicans don’t care about poor people, gays/lesbians, women, minorities or the elderly.
Democrats hate America and would rather consort with terrorists than work with Republicans.
Really?
Break it down then…There are gay, female, poor, minority and old , Republicans. There are veterans and public servants galore who are Democrats. Oh, they must be the ignorant ones who don’t recognize evil when they see it?  Really?
So, what can we do about this?
Neither side deserves a trophy, at this moment. But if being united is essential to “winning” and getting what we want, what good does accepting “holier than thou” conclusions do?
I return you to children. Children should not even witness the current vicious (childish) behavior but I know what they would ask.
Why are you mad at each other?
Do you hate them?
Are the ones you’re mad at “bad” people?
When you’re done being mad, can we all have fun again?
My heart is sinking because the last question cuts right to the bone. What will their future, their country, look like when we are done “being mad”?

 

 

 

 

Bella Helps

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Evelyn is continuing to bring her imaginary, fairy-like friend, Bella to day care.
I want to take this opportunity to add that imaginary friends have been discriminated against for years. When Evelyn’s sister started with them (7 years ago), most of the expert opinion literature was divided about their worthiness to be encouraged. Encouraging them once they appear of their own accord, I might add. I was extremely careful not to be involved in their creation. This was handled well by only asking questions.

We (My daughter, Ellen, and I) had a blast with older sister Katherine’s friends. It was a delightful experience from which I vowed never to deem imaginary friends unworthy again.
(In fact, as an advocate, I’m waiting for just the right moment to suggest that imaginary friends might want to consider unionizing.)
The biggest benefit became clear when I was able to discuss manners and safety by including the imaginary friend. Children under 5 or 6 simply do not know what truth is, and so, when Katherine began blaming her friend, Zabby, for some of the rule infractions, I took advantage of that chance to address my displeasure. I sternly told Zabby what would happen if she OR Katherine did those things again. After all, taking responsibility for one’s actions is a very difficult, mature concept. Many of our adult public servants haven’t even learned that lesson… a small child is simply unarmed. Later on, taking responsibility was also discussed with the imaginary friend. In fact, we approached many topics from the shared responsibility Katherine and I developed in raising Zabby to be a good citizen.

Bella has already been helpful. Evelyn and I have been “showing her the ropes” for day care. We’ve told her about the danger of opening doors without permission and to watch for babies’ fingers when we close them too. Evelyn and I thought of one specific safety issue which only applies to Bella. When she flutters around on her fairy wings, we warned her not to go near Pepe’ who might mistake her for a pesky fly and swat her!
I still find myself carrying Bella in my own cupped hand longer than I need to. Ha! And you thought Bella was not real. I certainly believe.
Yesterday, Evelyn was dismayed that Bella wouldn’t take a cracker. When I asked about the size of Bella and the size of the cracker, Evelyn drew her own conclusion about the cracker being too heavy. And late yesterday afternoon, Evelyn took a “tubby” in my sink at the same time as Bella was safely in her own small Tupperware tubby.
Evelyn even treated me to a lesson in “How to kiss a fairy.” before her Mom went to work. (Incidentally, Ellen was in tears suppressing laughter during my instruction.). Every time I puckered and gently kissed the palm of my hand, it was incorrect. Then Evelyn adjusted her lips (looked like she was chewing gum) then gently brushed her lips across her own palm. I just didn’t measure up in fairy kissing all day.
I’m going to practice today…wish me luck.

Let’s Go, Bella.

It is going to be somewhat difficult to add photos to the Pa-Pa-Pa Bella posts. I’m not new to imaginary friend blogging and already know they are especially hard to pin down for photo shoots.
Today, Evelyn convinced me that Bella is here to stay. I caught her talking into the palm of her hand several times. On one occasion, I heard her sighing, “Awwww.” and kissing her hand.
Her manner was so genuine that it touched my heart.
Around noon, she walked up to me and gently slid her hand into mine asking me to watch Bella. With a cupped hand, I left the room to make lunch and this is when the phone rang. Just so you know how completely I had bought into Bella’s presence, I actually turned and put her on my kitchen table before answering. Ha! Yes, that is the absolute truth.
Later on, when Ellen showed up at day’s end, Evelyn cupped her hand and told her mother to hold Bella. Ellen was gathering boots and bags and told Evelyn she was going to let Bella ride on her head so her hands would be free. Evelyn agreed.
Moments later, Evelyn shouted, “Mommy! Your glasses are in the way…I can’t see Bella. ” (Ellen wears sunglasses on her head.)
Ellen assured her, “She’s there.”
Evelyn, not convinced, pursued her to the door on tiptoes trying to see the top of Ellen’s head.
I spoke up, “I see her! She’s on Mommy’s ponytail.”
Relieved, Evelyn grabbed her blanket and said, “Yeah…there she is. Okay, let’s go.”