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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Video Games

Video games:

This world that has stolen the young boys minds, and the husbands for that matter. My son is addicted. My husband is addicted. My 13 year old daughter has now been sucked into recently a game called Sky Rim. They each take turns playing, and are bored in between waiting for their turn. I try to stay away and do something else so it doesn't suck me in too.

I wonder what the effect will be on my children for the future. Will everything else be boring? If you can go on an adventure in a game and make your own character, what fun can you have in everyday life? I know its meant to be fun and entertaining. I also know how amazing technology has become. How real the game can seem, and you can even socialize while you play the game over a head set.

It's a person's dream come true. I just hope that people will still take their kids out to have real adventures. A video game really is against everything that I stand for. I love....Outdoor activities, hiking, biking, snowboarding, boating, wakeboarding, surfing, walking, swimming, running, exploring. Being creative with art activities and manipulatives, legos, blocks, building forts, houses, pretend play with doll houses, dolls, drawing, painting, music, a board game, ..etc.... OR just socializing with friends. It's crazy to think, you can actually almost do all these things on a, wii, etc..and never step outside your home.

My children have been exposed from birth to the video games. As their dad had worked in the field as a game counselor, then a concept artist since they were born. We were given free consoles and free games and their dad regularly played everyday.

We are living in a land of video games and technology. I welcome all the new things that have came into our lives. Game boys, Nintendo 64, X-Box, Wii, Ds, ipod, Zune, laptops and netbooks for all, cell phones, ebooks and Kindles. I wait for what will be next. No more real paper books....Every child to carry around an ipad or some kind of eReader instead of textbooks. Which actually I like this idea. All the books in one place and no more carrying those huge backpacks.

I guess you can't have one joy without the other. There is always going to be a quest for instant gratification.I am completely impressed with what all those intelligent men and woman have accomplished. How you can start with an idea and have it propagate into a majority of peoples households.  

I am guilty of loving and hating technology. I always feel torn. As I am writing this blog, on my laptop. Furthermore, getting excited today about my new printer that I can attach to my phone and print a photo or document from anywhere. 

Then in another sense, I would rather paint on a canvas then on a computer screen. and Really.. go hiking on a trail in a mountain outside. 

I don't know? Maybe in this day and age it's about Balance.

My daughters leaving notes for Juliet in Verona, Italy

Playmobil Fun Park in Zirndorf, Germany

Near Lake Como, Italy

Coffee shop on the river in Graz, Austria

Cousins Ds.. ing each other. When we were in Austria the cousins only knew a little English.
and my kids only knew a little Austrian. They had fun communicating through their Ds.

Exploring the Charles Bridge in Prague with friends.

Relaxing and Scaling walls near Riegersburg Castle in Austria

Friday, December 30, 2011

Teenage Tantrums

I love my 16 year old daughter. I love her with all my heart. She was my first real true love. She is the first one who made me a mom. She is also the first one who knows how to push just the right button. The one who can break my heart in a single word. The one whom I have learned to worry about, and what true worry is.

The adventure I am taking everyday, the adventure of being a mom. It's truly the most exciting, happy, life transforming, devastating, and miraculous time I have ever had.

I am just thinking of a memory of my first trip to Europe in 2008. We were in Venice, Italy and it had been a looonnng day. If you are reading this as a mom or dad you know what I mean. One of those days when everything just seems to go wrong, kids fighting, everyones hungry, everyone is tired, you can't seem to make anyone happy including yourself and husband.

They... my children, were standing in front of this amazing building and all I could see was the magic all around  me, being in Venice. I took out my camera to take a picture. I asked the kids to smile and as you can see from the sequence of the photos. It went ok at first, then they began to fight and argue about something...who knows, it probably was about one of them was standing too close to the other. I remember I kept telling them to"stop!" and that "I want to get a good picture." At that point  I didn't want to snap the photo. I thought... ooh! never mind.  Then I remember this little old Italian lady coming up to me and saying, "Oh take the picture anyway", "Someday they will be all grown up and you won't remember having a hard day"," You will just miss them" Remember to Enjoy them" "I miss all the yelling, arguing, and the laughing too"" My children are all grown now and I miss them everyday" she said. I thanked her and told her its nice to have someone else understand. Then began to take the photos.

Its funny how all over the world mom's are feeling the same. We have so much in common with each other.

Anyway, at the time these facts hadn't really hit me yet. My oldest daughter at that time had just turned 13. She was just beginning to pull away and settle into her womanhood and mix of hormones. The other three kids were only 10, 8 1/2, and 3 years old. I felt like I had plenty of time. We were in the middle of the best time of their childhoods. They were full of wonderment and wanted to see and do everything. These were very happy times when I look back now.

 Now three years later I feel so different. My oldest, whom I talked about in the beginning of this post has started to drive this year and bought a car. She  is going to a college program for high school kids wanting to get a head start, has a boyfriend, works two part time jobs..etc..etc...In the short 3 years she has almost completely grown up. I hardly see her anymore because she is busy with school, work, her boyfriend, and school sporting activities. When she does have time she has a car and  she can get in and drive to go do something else. I liked it better when at least I had to drive her somewhere so I could have a chance to really talk to her. Which boils down to an incident today.

We had planned to go shopping together and she would ride with me. When suddenly right before we were about to get in the car, I see her talking to her boyfriend on her cell phone. Then she turns to me and says.. (moments before we are about to leave) that now she wants to drive herself. I say "no", that we had already planned to go together. Suddenly she lets out a highpitched sch-reeking scream that" why do I say no?".(..and yes... she is schreeking this, not just asking me.) I turn and look around and notice the screaming echoing through the neighborhood and almost wave at some of my neighbors who are now watching us. I tell her "no" again and she keeps screaming at me and saying,"I am so unfair" and "what reason would I have to say no?"..etc..etc.....I just sit there, and her younger sister just sits there in silence, waiting for her to stop.All the while, I am thinking to myself. I just wanted to spend some time with her. She finally.... after seems like forever, and in slow motion, proceeds to get in the car. I sit there silently as she raves at me why? why? why?  I finally began to try and talk to her, and tell her I just wanted to be able to spend some time with her. She calms down and the moment passes...

Strangely, like all these ups and downs so far, the rest of the day goes perfectly. She acts as if she never had the tantrum. We have a great time shopping together and I even get a chance to really talk to her. Weird, I will never understand the teenage girl mind. Even though I was once one of them (and yes, I know I gave my own mom some real fun times..llol..) I don't really remember when I was having teenage tantrums. My teenage years were such a blur. But I bet my mom sure remembers..Thanks Mom! Love You!

Monday, December 26, 2011

a mom

When they were little it was easy.

For me, I had an easy time when my kids were babies and toddlers.
I had always known I wanted to be a mom. In fact, my mom tells me that when I was 3 years old, she asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her," a mom."

So as I got older I based my whole life on that very subject. I babysat for every family in our neighborhood. I worked at daycares and preschools. Then eventually when thinking about college, naturally I was going to be a teacher. I worked as a nanny and at a preschool while going to college and ended up with an early childhood education degree. Had training from Eastside healthy start and Lake Washington for Parent education training to visit and counsel  young mothers with children. Had Art training in the midst's of the early childhood classes. Then after having kids of my own, went to Seattle Midwifery school and completed  Doula and Childbirth instructor training. After that owned my own business starting my own concept of teaching art to very young children. It's funny, I look at all these details and education. You think that you would be well prepared as a mother with this background. (hahaahha, the jokes on me.)

I remember while I was taking my early childhood classes in college while my siblings were having kids. I would try and give them advice about handling their children in various situations. They would just laugh at me and say, just wait till you have your own kids then you will understand. Just because you learned some method on how to discipline a kid doesn't mean it will actually work.

At the time, I thought I was so knowledgeable and that everything your teacher teaches you in college and what all the textbooks say must be right. Well, I was in for a rude awakening. Now after having 4 kids of my own. Going through the trials and tribulations of raising them, now 16, 13, 12, and 6 years old. Trying everything I learned in college. Reading back on my books. There's one thing they don't teach you. Every child is different and what works for one, may not work for another. I am not saying that the methods in these textbooks don't work. I am just saying they don't work for every child. You have to go by a case by case basis.

I have found with my children that when they were babies and toddlers it was so easy for me. It was pure instinct. There was just basic needs to be met. Only redirection was used for tantrums or scuffs with each other or friends. It seemed simple. I based my schedule around their sleep schedule. They were portable. We went out often and did activities for mine and their sanity. I had an art room that would allow them to experiment and make a mess and keep them busy and happy for hours. (which in the future this room was what I eventually based my art business on later)

Well its just the wake up of the first instance of one of them telling me "no!"
Its that moment when your sweet little innocent child has crossed over into their own existence. The moment when you feel them pulling away. This is of course, is the natural progression and healthy. So I have tried to foster and grow my children's identity. I have told them from early on that they can be anyone they want to be, and they can accomplish anything if they just try hard enough. These were the words my own mother had said to me over and over again while growing up. They definetly all have this covered. My children seem to know what they want, and stick to it, no matter what anyone else will say. Have reached their own decisions based on their knowledge, and are self sufficient. Show compassion towards others and are polite.

I am very proud at whom they have become. I feel like I won't have to worry as much when they are sent out in the world.

This strong willed personality is just hard for at
I admit it stems from all around them. This is why it has been hard dealing with them as teenagers. In my family.... all the parents, including grandparents, have a strong personality. Yes... we are all know- it- alls.

I, over the years have had to step back and realize that I don't know it all. I can give my advice based on experience and education. I can tell you things that have worked for me, but ultimately, you just have to try it on your own.

Your personality and your childs, together mixed, could be any sort of experience.
My advice is just to be patient and kind and loving  and with these three things you can't go wrong.

On a wall in Verona, Italy with my girls in 2010.

I love this picture with Grandma's face :) My kids all around her.

My kids and I

My oldest and youngest at park in Germany. 2010

Christmas Eve 2011

Dear Santa, Thanks for good friends.........

Dear Santa,

All I wanted for Christmas was for my kids to get along.
Instead the pressure got to all of us. The stress and sleep deprivation of the holidays has worn a hole in my patience level. I find myself standing there while my 6 year old is screaming and kicking at me because I asked her to smile for a picture. My 16 and 13 year old daughters are in a heated brawl about borrowing clothes with each other, and my 12 year old son was poking my 6 year old, making matters worse.

All around me the turmoil is thickening. I try to count to three and think ok ok, talk to them calmly. My husband just lays there snoozing on the couch. Which makes me even more in the mood to just stuff my head in a pillow and scream, or pour ice cold water on him. I make a decision to give myself a timeout and head for my room. This doesn't work, they just seem to be following me and the volume of the high pitched adolescent screams seem to be echoing through the halls . In this moment I realize that I feel completely alone. Doesn't anyone understand that my hearing is going to go out before age 45 if my girls keep this up!?(I yell this in my head to myself)  Its funny, I realize I have gotten so used to my kids screaming at each other that I am only worried about my the screaming ever stop?

There is a few choices I have. I can put the younger ones in time out, or take away tv or toys, then talk to them. The older ones I can talk to and take away cell phones. Hmmmm...or I can just try and relax and give them some time to work it out with each other. The older girls are the same size I don't think they can hurt each other too bad. The 12 year old boy is just bored, so I can quickly think of something for him to do. It's Christmas, I think. Let it go...I turn to my six year  old and say, "I need a hug." She instantly stops and comes and gives me a hug and sits on my lap. I look at the time and realize its time to leave to go to Christmas dinner at a friends house. I tell my six year old to get shoes on, and tell my son to let the dog out. Then I go and find my 16 and 13 year old. They are by this time, yelling at each other and saying they hate each other. I pull myself together and calmly and firmly tell them to get in the car. They go grudgingly one holding back, until the other one is out the door.

Finally after waking my husband up, we find ourselves out in the car. Its very quiet. I turn around to see my 6 year old fast asleep. The other 3 kids sitting and staring out their windows.

It's interesting how just a change of scenery really had changed  the mood of my children. When only a few minutes before they were going completely berserk. I forgot about this method.

Soon after we arrived at our friends house, my girls were best friends again and acted as if the fight had never occurred.  My other two kids were happily playing with Legos, and their friend that we were visiting.

I took a deep breathe and finally got a chance to relax.

Oh Santa Claus...Thanks for the good friends that had us over for dinner.

Sincerely, M

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Tradition

Like hot cocoa and marshmallows after being out in the snow.
Our family has many Christmas traditions.
My house is filled with them.
I actually don't have too many store bought decorations.
With the exception of the fake tree I put up every year.
I am going to post some of them. A lot of these are very child friendly activities that you can do with your children with only a few materials. Some of these are with supplies you may already have on hand at your house. This is just a sampling. ENJOY!

My son made this sock snowman 2 years ago.  Its made with a sock stuffed with
 rice and tied with a rubber band. Then you add all the details with fabric, twigs, pompoms , buttons, googly eyes,  etc...(whatever you can find around the house) Tacky glue or hot glue work the best. Trick is make sure to really stuff the snowman with the rice and put rubber band at top tightly. Then carefully pick spot in middle that is thick to keep snowman from being too floppy.

My daughter made this ornament. We started with clear glass ornaments. 
Took off the top and squirted  acrylic  paint  and glitter glue inside.

My daughter simply used green and metallic red pipe cleaners to make this wreath  ornament.

This tree ornament was made with salt dough.  Rolled out then cut out shape with cookie cutter. Then left out to dry. After it was dry, it was painted with acrylic paint.

Ingredients: for salt dough is simply 1 cup flour, 1 cup salt, add warm water to get right consistency 
Make sure it is not gooey , you want playdough feeling.

Red, white, and brown pipe cleaners

My daughter made this when she was 3 years old. When you scroll down you  will see more examples, and can tell  by details which was done by my younger and older children.
I bought some fake Pointsettas. Then pulled them off the stems leaving a top perfect to fit a wooden bead on it.Then my daughter embellished it with shaped sequins, drew a happy face on with a permanent marker, and added fake hair on top. (glued all together with tacky glue)

A picture in a bag ornament.
Simple....Last year when my daughter was 5 she drew a picture . Then found a bag in my stuff from purchased jewelry. (recycle)
It looks great as ornament on the tree. You could do this with any drawing that you want to save. 

More pipe cleaner art (10 year old)

Bead work on cardboard star bought at craft store.

Clear glass ornament filled with beads and painted  on outside with acrylic paint.

Beads and foil ribbon wreath. One of my children laced beads
 into circle shape then added the foil  star ribbon.

Supplies needed: regular white typing paper, scotch tape, scissors, and patience.
This is cut in sections then taped together. You cut V's in folded squares then pull paper back and forth in opposite directions. My kids went all out with this. They tried to make the tiniest snowflakes, then the biggest ones. I had them hanging from my ceiling all over the house one year. Very inexpensive way to  have amazing decorations.

Model magic clay . Its a product made by play dough.
That you can usually find near the regular playdough.

Painting with acrylic paint an outside of clear glass ornament. I think one of my daughters was 7 years old when she made this.

More detailed Pointsetta ornament.

Fun making paper doll streamers. One of my daughters figured out how to do this one year
by folding one piece of construction paper and cutting people shapes

Decorated wooden shape that we bought from craft store.

Son was 2 1/2 years old when he made this.
Every two year old loves to sprinkle glitter.

My daughter made this snowman at school with  pompoms,
broken toothpick, ribbon, googly eyes and felt.

Made at ceramic painting place. 

One year we had two sewing machines out and had the kids pick out their own material,
cut out stocking shape and sew it together. Hardest part was the material was thick with the layers
and  it took a while

Bought cardboard reindeer shapes and kids decorated them with sequins.
 (below you will see another one decorated with beads also.

Snowman made with quilt batting glued over circle shapes. Then buttons, ribbon,
 and hat made out of foam paper, and pipe cleaners for arms.

Gingerbread man made with construction paper, yarn, and fabric.

Paper bag gingerbread girl. Cut out then stapled  together and decorated.

One year we bought mini trees. Some we put lights on others we didn't.
We gave some away as gifts. Put some on tables and counter tops, others up above our kitchen cupboards.

Did this for one of my daughters first Christmas's at a pottery painting place.
 Foot for trunk, and hands for branches

This year my son made this at a Winter construction camp that I taught at Orange Blossom Society.
I gave the kids: sugar cubes, marshmallows, rocks, shells, clay, popsicle sticks, fabric, paint, felt etc...
We drew out a plan and they used the supplies that we had to try and make what they had drawn.
(Below you will see the scene my daughter made also)

Easy activity that my 6 year old made this year at school party. Recycled water bottle with white tissue  paper stuck on bottle. Then they painted elmers glue and water mixture over the tissue paper. After that  they added fabric for scarf, and sequins and pompoms for eyes and mouth.

My sister made this cute penguin made
 out of a light bulb.

Another school project. This is what you can do with all those mismatched puzzle pieces.

Santa handprint on glass ornament. If you look back on my posts you can see  ones on paper.

Had to showcase this wreath. Its literally is just made out of  paper book pages rolled up.
My sister gave me this for a gift this year. Thank you again sis! I love it!

6 year olds computer art.

Merry Christmas!