Posts Tagged ‘creative ideas’

The other week-end the weather was so gorgeous there was no excuse for not getting outside and into nature.  On the Saturday it was a bit chillier, but a Peregrine Falcon payed us a visit beckoning us to come outside.  My sons were thrilled to see the Peregrine Falcon so close, as it had visited that week before in our backyard but further away.  Good thing too, as it was eating a sparrow on the back fence, not something I want to see up close (bloody awful, literally).

We watched in awe as this beautiful and strong bird went about its business.

We acknowledged together that though we felt bad for the bird it was eating, we knew that it was all part of the cycle of life.

I looked up Peregrine Falcon and found this “It has been suggested that rescuing the peregrine from extinction has been one of mankind’s greatest environmental success stories.”  How wonderful that this powerful and fast-flying bird sometimes referred to as the “cheetah of the sky” visited us that weekend.  It was a reminder of the marvel of nature’s strength and ability to survive and then thrive.

On the Sunday when the weather was milder, we went for a bike ride in the valley and stopped to make some nature art . I have included some fast forward videos here to inspire.

There is no right or wrong way of doing this.  As long as you are respectful of nature, living plants, and possible habitats for small inhabitants, then how it looks is up to you.

 

A few weeks ago my kids agreed to try some doodle art inspired by artist Traci Bautista .  We never really got to the doodle part, but the boys had fun with the layers that they created using found stencils. It was a fun art activity to do with the kids.

 

You could have each family member do their own then piece them together in a collage, you can frame them side by side or if you are brave like me have your kids work on the same one together. Be prepared for disagreements. Think of it as an opportunity for learning.

 

There is no wrong way of doing this activity.  Below are just some suggestions and ideas of what can happen.  Encourage spontaneity and above all FUN!

 

Materials

  • paint
  • paint brushes
  • paper
  • apron, smock or old clothing to wear
  • old tooth brushes (optional)
  • sponges (optional)
  • brayer (optional)
  • stencils
  • Objects to us as stencils such as feathers, netting, doilies, popsicle sticks tooth picks, pennies anything goes as long as you’re okay with getting paint on it.
  • Things to add texture: large brush, sponges old tooth brushes
  • Spray bottles filled with single colour and some water

 

Choose a medium to large size paper. Choose about 3 colours that everyone feels goes well together. Have some white paint to lighten the colours adding to the layering effect. Not sure about mixing colours? Check this link out: mixing colours.

 

Here is what you will generally be doing to create your painting:

Place items on the paper and spray paints lightly over the area you want to make an imprint of. Remove the “stencil”.  Allow paint to dry between layers or before putting another stencil on.  Any object you place down and spray paint on will leave a negative of the object when it is removed, giving a stencil effect. The first ones will leave white outlines, but as you add more layers of stencils and paint the painting will have more textures.

 

Place object on paper, spray one paint colour at a time allowing it to dry before adding another colour.  This is to avoid making the colours muddy or brown.

 

Use a brayer or sponge to put paint on a plastic letter stencil for a neat print.

Press this down on the paper, being careful not to shift it and smudge it.

Press firmly.

Lift carefully.

Use a styrofoam tray for a wide pallet for use with wide brushes and brayers (paint rollers).

 Be careful not to put too much paint on your brush or it will get under the stencil.

Rather than dragging the paint brush on the doilies or other stencils, dab the brush into the holes gently to leave a print.

Lift carefully.

Be sure to hold down the stencil as you apply the paint.

Be sure to praise team work!

You’re done when you decide!

 

The other day I was taking my eldest son to a doctor’s appointment and we took Public Transit as we usually do, since the office is right on the subway line.  It was rush hour so somewhat on the crowded side, and there were several groups of youth canvasing asking passersby for change or tokens to help Toronto’s youth.  We passed them on the way as we rushed to our appointment again on the way back to drop my son at school.  This second group was younger children, a school group that were volunteering their time to fund raise.

 

As we passed them by headed towards the stairs to catch our train, I stopped mid stair.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in the everyday rush of getting places or getting things done that we pass by opportunities.  This is why I stopped.  I reached into my purse and pulled out some money, giving it to my son to donate.  He took it then hesitated, because it meant him going up the stairs and approaching someone he didn’t know, as well he said he was eager to get to school (nothing like a dentist appointment for doing that) I let him know that it was ok since we had missed the train anyway, and he then went and made the donation.

 

Of course I could have just done it myself.  I really wanted my son to do it for several reasons:

1. I felt is was important for him to feel like he was taking action, helping others helping a cause.  I had noticed him looking at the youth who were calling out their campaign with their T-shirts on “Help Toronto’s youth, your change can make changes happen”.  I believe it is important for him to recognize and be grateful for what he has, that he is not in a position where  he need this kind of help.

2. I wanted to push him a bit outside his comfort level by having him approach the volunteers himself with the hopes that he will feel confident to initiate this himself one day

3. I wanted to model the idea of taking time to notice what is happening around us and rather than be passive bystanders watching and not doing, I wanted him to remember to engage and participate fully in life, take opportunities to help when you notice them, however small.

4.  I wanted the youth to feel heard, to encourage their efforts by listening to them and show them that we appreciate what they are doing by taking action and donating.  I think that it is important important that youth who volunteer their time and effort feel that they are actually making a difference.  Giving them a positive response helps ensure that they will continue to be active participants in change rather than discouraged bystanders who feel there is no hope.

5. When others see you donate for a cause I think it has a ripple effect.  It makes it all the more easier for them to justify stopping and taking a few minutes to reach into their wallet, walk over and help out.

 

Giving a little bit of money may have been a “drop in the bucket”, but we can’t forget that each drop creates its own ripple.  This was not just about helping through giving money.  It was so much more than that:  giving attention to our surroundings and what messages to pay attention to; giving our attention an appreciation to the youth who are taking their time to raise awareness; taking the time as little as it might be, yet still breaking the habit of just walking through crowds with blinders on; and finally by responding we potentially set off a ripple effect to the crowds who  may be in “I can’t stop -have to get somewhere important” or “I am not going to pay attention to what is being asked of me because it doesn’t concern me” mode but then notice someone else taking action and stop and do something themselves.

 

Our actions are more powerful than we think.  Hopefully it is the kind of power that brings other great things to life.  Your children are watching.  Everyday there are opportunities for change, lessons to be learned.  When we take the time to take our blinders off and be open to seeing the opportunities and lessons life presents to us, our children will see them too.

 

 

 

Sometimes when we talk to our children they don’t listen. It may seem like a lot of the time in fact.

 

As a child therapist I am used to slipping into the language of children to engage them in conversation and pull from them their strength. They are engaged easily through their active imagination with play and story. They learn from watching and doing.

 

However admittedly I sometimes forget as a parent to use this child speak. This often happens when I am trying to do so many things and when I am so task focused and in my adult head. I forget that my children are not in that same head space and are driven by other motivators like play, having fun, enjoying life. The usual kid stuff.

 

What would happen if more adults were focused on having fun?

 

Luckily because my kids are so play driven, I can’t help but be reminded of their need to have this outlet. They are constantly trying to engage me in play so I am reminded of a different way of being in my head, namely through my creative imagination. When I am in this space it’s as if we are doing a wonderfully intricate dance where everyone is in rhythm with each other. Cooperation is not a struggle but a fun game where both players are winners.

 

I cherish those moments knowing that I have access to them any time I choose. It’s these moments that make the hard work of parenting worth it. It’s these moments that give me the clarity to communicate in my child’s mother tongue: play.

 

Sorting through and tidying up my computer files I came across a letter I had written for my youngest son from the voice of a small (bean bag) bear cub which I gave him. To put it in context, I will tell you that my son was having some difficulty doing his daily routines and was needing much encouragement and reminders. Also at the time he would rather stay home than go play at a friend’s place.  I knew that he was feeling like he couldn’t do things as well as his brother.  Anyway, though these were things that we talked with him about, there is something about stories that sparks the interest of a child to “listen” on a deeper level.  With this in mind I share with you the letter below.

 

 

Dear Alexi

I just want to let you know that I am a black bear cub, and I am mostly vegetarian. I am still little but big enough to do things like swim across the lake (like that bear cub your mom told me you guys saw last year while camping). I heard we have a lot in common like your mom said that you like to forage for wild edibles and I love foraging for berries. I have been to Crab lake too just for the blue berries- I heard you like them too. One thing you should know about black bear cubs is that we stick with our moms a lot but we also venture out to explore new things. We are good swimmers, climbers, foragers (and your mom wanted me to mention that we almost always listen to our mamma bears- because they keep us safe). I have come to live with you so that I can learn some things about camping (my mom said I can visit her when you take me wilderness camping). I heard that you are a great portager- that is something I have never done before. Will you teach me? Your mom also told me that you like to help out at camp and you have a great smile. I am so excited that I will be living with you!

Lots of love,

Your bear cub friend

(Bears don’t have names like humans do- but my mom said it was okay if you gave me a human name)

 

 

What does your child speak look like?

 

 

A while back my kids agreed to try making some sock monkeys.  Originally the idea was to make them as gifts for others.  Eventually we did get around to making sock monkey gifts (like the ones pictured above who traveled to Greece to be with my sons’ cousins), but first my boys made their own sock monkey to love and to hold.  While this wasn’t the first time that they have sat down and sewed with me, this was the biggest project they have done in terms of sewing time.  There’s something to be said for getting a smiling monkey at the end as a motivator!

 

Just so you know, these monkeys were completed over several days with lots of breaks in between.  But as you will see the first part of making the monkey is quite easy and can be completed fairly quickly, which is great for keeping your kids interested and motivated.

 

I wanted to make sock monkeys with my kids after being introduced to them again through a sock monkey therapy tutorial that I had signed up for as part of 6 Degrees of Creativity, an Art Therapy Alliance e-course.  They were really fun to make, and although my guys were tired of sewing after making theirs, they helped me stuff the monkeys that were sent to their cousins in Greece (pictured above).

 

Working on the sock monkeys brought up plenty of opportunities for problem solving . . .

 

I was amazed as I watched my sons carefully focus on making and sewing their monkeys with minimal help from me.  While my youngest who is almost 8 did get more help than his big brother, he sewed the majority of his monkey himself, only needing help with attaching the body parts.  I had the camera rolling as they worked in hopes that it would inspire other young children to give it a try.  Aside from the boost in self esteem that comes with taking on such a project at this age, if you watch the video you will see the sense of community created as we all sewed together.  At times it looked like a production line as one of my sons threaded a needle for me while I started sewing something for him, and other son was stuffing a new monkey.

 

That being said, it wasn’t always roses. Working on the sock monkeys brought up plenty of opportunities for problem solving when my youngest was frustrated with sewing or worse began to get discouraged because he compared his progress to his big brother who was moving along quicker.

 

The project also took on a silliness of its own as the sock monkeys came alive dancing around though 3/4 finished.

 

Below I have included a picture tutorial as well as a 15 minute video which you may wish to watch with your kids as you make you monkeys.  If you do end up making sock monkeys, we would love to see pictures feel free to post them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/offbeatfamily or e-mail them to us at petrea AT offbeatfamily DOT com

 

 

  • Start by turning your sock inside out

 

  • Flatten the sock (as if putting it on) and cut up to just below the heal to make the legs
  • sew using the whip stitch from the bottom up to the crotch on each side, leaving a hole for stuffing
  • Turn the sock right side out and stuff

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sew up the crotch

 

  •  Divide up the second sock as shown here

 

 

  • cut the heel for the mouth
  • cut a thin tail from top of sock: heel to toe

  • cut semi circles for ears from remaining sock
  • Cut the arms as shown in above sock diagram
  • sew all inside out using the “whip stitch” leaving a space to turn right side out before stuffing
  • pin to body and sew in place
  • choose button or beads for eyes and sew on
  • use coloured thread to sew a on smile
  • add a heart if you like
Get ready for some sock monkey LOVE!

The other week I stumbled upon a writing prompt I had written in my journal with the intention of responding to it later.  It was a series of prompts to write a letter to your self that I had found while blog hopping (sorry to say I could not find the original reference- but when I Googled it there were many renditions of the letter to Self).  One of them was to write to yourself 10 years ago.  I thought I would give it a try.

 

After just writing a few sentences I was struck  by how powerful this exercise was for me.   My intuitive parent stepped right in and began to respond with such empathy I was brought to tears.  Parenting is tough, we all know that.  But sometimes we can be our own worst critic, ruminating over how we should have done things differently or comparing ourselves to other parents who don’t seem to be having such a hard time.

 

For me 10 years ago was a very significant point in time as a parent  because it was really so near  the beginning of parenthood for me (my eldest son would have been 1 1/2 years old).   Allowing myself to speak to my “new” parent self now, after 10 years, also brought to light how very important it is to continue to show the same empathy for one’s self even later on in one’s parenting career.

 

Perhaps this is something each and every  parent can give themselves as a gift for the new year.  We often talk about empathy for our children when they are going through tough times, but how about extending that empathic understanding to ourselves?

 

Here are some excerpts from my letter to my younger parent self.  The advice I give myself is relevant at any point in my parenting, even to this day when my children are (almost) 8 and 11 1/2 years old.

 

Dear Petrea,

You are a great mommy who loves your little baby boy deeply.  I know it is hard to be away from him and you feel stressed because you wish that you could give him more of your time.

You worry. Don’t let your worry take over who you are and get in the way . . .   You will have another child.  You will learn more . You will make mistakes that you regret, but you must let go of that regret, you must pay it no mind for it will eat away at you and fuel your worry, your self doubt.

Know that you are a wonderful parent, a fantastic parent.  You are human , yes, you make mistakes, yes, but you can and will learn from  them.

You are the best mom your son has, he needs you, he needs you to believe in yourself.  For when you believe in yourself as a mother, as a parent, your son will learn to believe in himself.

Don’t worry that one year has passed.  There is still time, there is always time.  You are a great parent, know that, feel that, believe that, and you will see how much easier things will be,  your life will be easier, your parenting will  be easier.

 

Let go of the past.

Walk boldly, with confidence, into the future!

Love your Wise Parent Self.

 

No matter what stage of parenting you are at, whether it is 2 months in, or 2 years, 12 years or twenty years into parenting, it’s never too late to show your self some gentle understanding and acknowledgment for all of your hard work as a parent.  Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective of time to realize the beauty of what we have done as parents.  I invite you to write a letter to your younger parent self.  For showing compassion to yourself is the first step in letting go of past “mistakes” and moving towards the intuitive parenting that we all have inside.

 

With the holidays upon us it’s easy to forget to take care of one’s self. I find myself rushing about baking gingerbread cookies  like the ones above I made last night from Naturally Yours’ video. We parents so often put ourselves last as we prepare for welcoming others into their home.

 

This season make yourself a priority. Be sure to take some time for yourself, to relax and regenerate. If you wait until its all over, you’ll miss out on enjoying what the holidays are all about. Below are some helpful posts to make the most out of this busy time of year. Enjoy!

 

Jo of the Red Box Company shares 10 tips for staying stress free over the holidays

 

Carrie Hensley of Free to Be Me has a great video with tips for helping you stay present and centered during the holidays.

 

Jackie of essence of wild has a wondeful post on taking cues from nature to find peace.

Gina of Veda Sun shares some tips on staying present with Awareness Practices for you and your family’s sake.

 

Tina of Open Roads Coaching has some great activities you can do with your family the grinch jar and wishing tree.

 

Pixie Campbell has a wonderful ceremony to let go of emotional baggage which you can do with your children to help them visualize letting go . You don’t have to celebrate the winter solstice to do this,it goes well with the traditional New Years letting go or releasing the year to make room for wishes .

 

And if you want to give yourself some play time I have just the thing on my sister site with my free Free Your Inner Child e-course

 

May your holidays be full of  peace, bliss and joy!

 

A Guest Post by Becky Jaine of Monkey Shines for Glimpses of Family

My children and I spent an afternoon throwing rainbows and creating colorful explosions on canvas.

I called to Sonshine (my 2 year old) to get his attention for the picture,

and he “roared” his lion roar at me to share his delight.

My joyful art warriors!


 

 

This was the end result of a messy and hilarious family painting project we did together.  My husband, children and even our dog got in on the creative fun.  I documented the event sharing a simple “how-to” here 

 

 

 

 

Becky Jaine is a wife, mother, writer and creative arts enthusiast (in ever-changing priority). She passionately writes about what her family does to disconnect from technology, to be more fully present together. She calls these activities “togetherness projects“, encouraging families to occasionally disconnect to reconnect. Check out her Monkey Shines at www.MonkeyChiMonkeyDo.com .

 

 

When my oldest son was in grade two, his class was asked to make a drawing of where they would like to live. They drew their pictures, cut them out, and displayed them at the school art show. I remember seeing all the wonderful drawings of homes. The pictures were two sided with the outside of the home on one side and the inside on the other. When I asked him where his was he showed me a large airplane. It was colourful and full of details. Talk about thinking outside of the box- or should I say house! He was so proud of it that he hung on to it for years hanging it in his room. Read the rest of this entry »

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