2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 12,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 20 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Highlights of a Trip Home to England

Count magpies
Drink tea with milk – and maybe a biscuit or two
Drive on the other side of the road – and remember how to get from here to there
Read an actual newspaper – and especially the polygon word puzzle
Reconnect with cousins, aunts, uncles
Smile and feel anchored anew after spending time with old friends
Rediscover London with fresh eyes and energy
Sleep so soundly in my childhood bed
Dry my hair with a seemingly-nuclear powered hairdrier
Gleefully wander the aisles of Waitrose & Boots
Stock up on chocolate hobnobs & Jaffa cakes


A Plea For Kindness

It’s been well over a week since I last wrote and published a blog post. I’ve been meaning to but the tragic events of last Friday muted both my desire and capacity to write. The words failed me. In many respects they still do. It’s not often I find myself stymied when words, usually, are my salvage.

Through the haze of the tears, attempts to process and comprehend, and the sickening reality of so much pain and innocence lost, one word kept piercing my emotions and reverberating in my head.

It’s kindness.

As parents, it’s our sole duty to raise children that have experienced and know kindness and how it manifests itself. As parents, we must model it every day so our kids understand it’s just the way we behave. We are kind to one another. We listen, we say please and thank you, we pay compliments, we boost you up when you’re feeling down, we reach out a helping hand. We open our minds and our hearts. Without kindness, the world is cold, shallow and violent place.

So, let’s all pledge to be a little—even a lot—kinder to each other. That’s all I want for Christmas.

Thank you.

Guest Post: Talking to Kids about their Art

by Theresa Harris

When your child brings home their art from school, what’s your typical response? “Wow”, “It’s beautiful!”, or “I love it”?

This isn’t a trick question. No matter what your response, it’s understood that as parents and caregivers, our role is to support and encourage our budding artists, regardless of skill level. But here’s something to consider: What was going through your child’s brain when they drew that picture or painted that landscape? What did they imagine? Is the image part of a larger story? Is it fantasy-based or realistic? Does their art say anything about their hopes, their dreams or their fears? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could get into their creative minds a little bit and understand what their experience and process was when making art?

Art is so much more than what happens on the page. It’s also about the inspiration, creative thinking, and innovation. When you start thinking of art in this way, it opens up a whole range of possibilities for you to explore with your child.

How do you get the dialogue going? Here are five conversation starters you can use to talk to your child about their art in a thoughtful way. The questions are part of a parent education program I’ve started called “Art Talk.” The questions are straightforward, yet are designed to quickly draw out deeper levels of artistic thinking.

Here are 5 main questions to ask your child about their art:

  1. What did you create? What process did you use in making your art? What materials did you use and why? How did you plan your picture? Why did you use those colors?
  2. What do you see? What is this? Is it a thing or a place? Real or imaginary? What is happening in the picture?
  3. What did you learn? Did you use a new material or learn a new technique? Who taught you? Was it hard or easy? Show me how you did it so I can see what you’ve learned.
  4. What do you love? What do you love about this artwork? Are you happy with your work? Are there certain parts that you like better than others?.
  5. What do you wish? If you were to make this again, would you do anything differently? Would you use a different material, color or composition? Is there anything you’d like to change?

For more ideas for using Art Talk with your kids, take a look at the Parent Tip Video at  www.thriveart.com/arttalk

When kids are given the opportunity to talk about their art and share their experiences, it can enhance their self-awareness and confidence. When I’ve used this tool with my students and with my own child, I’ve been amazed at how capable they are at being reflective, and their responses are often incredibly insightful, and sometimes hysterical! Oh- the things they come up with!

What are some of the fun and insightful things your kids have said when you get them talking about art?

Theresa Harris is founder of Thrive Art School in Seattle and Thrive Art Online, a video-based art program for kids. When she is not is playing legos and making messes with her two lively boys age 2 & 4, she loves to hike and paint with encaustics.


My Son’s First Art Show

My kid is crazy good at art—at least, to me. I love seeing his imagination and attention to detail transfer from that fermenting mind of his onto the page. I love how he expresses himself, explores the world and projects through art. I hope this isn’t a phase: that he continues to explore his artistic nature and digs deep into his creativity. It’s a journey I can’t wait to witness. On Monday, he turns eight so I thought I’d create and share this gallery of many of his finest works over the last two years. So, without further ado, here it is: Gabriel’s first art show!

IMG_5518 IMG_5406 IMG_5014 IMG_4422 IMG_4394 IMG_4039 IMG_4030 IMG_4011 IMG_3944 IMG_3925 IMG_3785 IMG_3782 IMG_3535 IMG_3496 IMG_3428 IMG_3435 IMG_3268 IMG_2732 IMG_2673IMG_5528

When Kids Muddle Their Words

What’s cuter than a kid messing up the pronunciation of a word? My kids do it often and, while I know I should correct them, I usually don’t because it’s so funny and sweet.

My daughter has a habit of adding “ed” to the end of every verb to show past tense: “I wented; we ated: they broked” – you get the drift.

These are some of the other words my kids often muddle (and their translation.) You got any to share from yours?

merote/remotion control (remote control)

moosmic (music)

patteren (pattern)

emeny (enemy)

basketti (spaghetti)

The 5 Senses of Motherhood

Nobody warned me just how physical parenthood would be. It’s like a full-on assault on the body and soul, every single day. Physically, it takes its toll too, and I’m not just talking droopy boobs, bags under eyes and the inevitable extra pounds around the middle. Five consecutive years of lugging a newborn, then a toddler, around—usually on my left shoulder or hip—have pretty much wrecked my neck, vertebrae and  rotator cuff. Aches and pains aside, it occurred to me that motherhood has a meteoric impact on our five senses, and even heightens them.

1. Sight: I used to stare at every millimeter of my newborns, fascinated by each tiny detail on these creatures that my body had made. Eyelashes, freckles, lips, the fragile maze of their ears, toes, fingernails. My eyes would—and still do—drink in these details. Fast-forward a few years to crawling, cruising toddlers that you can’t take your eyes off for a nanosecond for fear they’ll climb a book case or eat a bug. These days, I watch my kids with less obsession and with more amusement and curiosity, observing how they interact, socialize, wrestle, role-play. As I tuck them into bed every night, the images of their sleepy, happy faces—hungrily reading, eager for dreams— are seared into my brain.

2. Smell: Remember the sweet smell of the head of a newborn baby or a toddler, fresh from the tub, wrapped in a towel? And the nasal assault of a blow-out diaper. Pee-soaked clothes during potty training. Puke in the car seat. A mother’s nostrils smell it all!

3. Sound: Oh, the torture of listening to your baby crying during the night as you attempt to sleep train him or her (and not cave.) Or that moment when you first hear your baby say “mama” or “dada.” Not to mention being able to identify your kid’s cry in a crowded playground. I love the sound of listening to my daughter’s carefree singing. Of course, there’s also blocking out the whining, the negotiating, the bickering. Oy!

4. Taste: Kissing away salty tears. Licking the brown smudge on your fingers, confident it’s chocolate and not … Finishing off their half-eaten mac ‘n’ cheese or soggy cheerios.

5. Touch: The tickle of their breathe as they whisper in your ear. The feel of their small hands clasping yours. How they tug at your arms when they want to go that way but you need to go this way. The intensity of a hug. The way they prod at your boobs so as to get your attention (or is that just my kids?) Tickle fights!

And let’s not forget that other sense —a mother’s intuition—that nigglye feeling in your gut that something’s bothering your kid, that warns you he’s about to barf, and alerts you to an imminent meltdown so you can activate diversionary tactics.

Yes, in addition to our  supersonic five senses, we mothers are also endowed with many super powers. And you know what? It’s all good.

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