May 28, 2023

Creative Destruction

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."--Mikhail Bakunin
Chris and I often talk about Soren's love of destruction, even from an early age.  When he plays, he destroys.   It's his favorite thing to do, take things apart, break them, crash them, etc.  Just yesterday, he busied himself with smashing Matchbox cars with a brick and was utterly delighted in this activity.
It's difficult for me to see the creative power in this; as an artistically-inclined person, my natural instinct is to create, as in build, make marks, produce something out of nothing.  Watching him and accepting this destructive impulse is teaching me about different ways to approach creativity.
I remember as a kid having an overwhelming urge to pull all of the flowers off of a bleeding heart bush at my grandmother's house.  Even then, I'm not sure why I did it.  There is a smattering of other memories regarding the urge to destroy, like peeling wallpaper off a wall, tearing at a hole in my clothes, etc. even if these impulses weren't  on the level of Soren's. Why did I do this?

Most likely, it was thoughtless, done out of boredom rather than curiosity.  But in many ways, destruction is a satisfying thing, like peeling bark off of a birch tree, or it can be dramatic and exciting, like watching a watermelon drop from three stories above.  For me, it's rare that the creative acts that I know, like painting or drawing have such a dramatic conclusion as a watermelon shattering to pieces.  Or a snowman, for that matter.
No sandcastle is safe either, as this one proved too irresistible for avoiding stomping on.  Thankfully, the kids who made it were long gone.
Is that what the interest is, the dramatic effect of destruction?  I'm still trying to make sense of it.

The obvious meaning behind Picasso's quote above would seem to be that destruction makes room for more creativity, however it doesn't seem to the be the case with Soren.  He's not interested in rebuilding, other than for the purposes of destroying again.  Maybe he should start dabbling in the "eraser drawing" style of Willem de Kooning.

I think Soren simply enjoys cause and effect, and having power over something physically, which might be where his love of destruction comes from.  I only hope this creative urge can be focused onto an activity or hobby.  If that were to happen, I'm sure Chris and I would be blown away by what he can achieve.

May 23, 2023

Cabbage Rose Customized Necklace with Martha Stewart Jewelry

I love making jewelry, though it's taken a back seat to other crafts in the last few years, mostly because of little hands grabbing at little things that might end up on the floor, like jump rings, chains, and teeny beads. 

However, I recently pulled out my tools and supplies again to work with a new line of jewelery making materials from Martha Stewart Jewelry from Plaid and available exclusively at Michaels.
I was sent a huge assortment of items, including epoxy clay, enamel paints and brushes, charms, Czech beads, settings for rhinestones (though no rhinestones in my box).
It's both exciting and overwhelming, all of these options for creativity.
I've always been a fan of beaded necklaces, so with summer approaching I wanted to make a necklace that evokes the ocean and its colors.
To create this necklace, I used the following items from the Martha Stewart Jewelry line:
  • Jump Rings
  • Assortment of Czech beads
  • Needle nosed pliers
  • Flat nosed pliers
  • Jewelry Adhesive
  • Settings
  • 1 Cabbage Rose Cabochon
  • 1 Filigree Round Cabochon setting
(non Martha Stewart items used were jewelry cable wire, a few wooden beads, necklace clasps and crimpers)
I cut a length of cable wire that was about 6" longer than I wanted the finished necklace to be.  Then I looped a clasp on the end, folded the wire back and added a crimper to hold the clasp in place, keeping it from sliding off.
Then I added the beads for the necklace in the pattern I wanted.
I made one half of the necklace, then crimped the end with the flat-nosed pliers and added a jump ring.

Next, I glued two glass beads onto two double-ended settings using the Martha Stewart Jewelry Glue.
Actually, I did this the day before so that the beads would be dried and secure (follow the instructions for use on the package).  I would have used rhinestones, but they weren't included in the package and I didn't have any on hand.

When set, I attached these via jump rings to the round filigree setting.
I then made another beaded strand identical to the first one to use on the other side of my necklace (except I attached a ring instead of a clasp), and attached both strands to the settings.
Finally, I glued a purple cabbage rose cabochon to the filigree setting using the jewelry glue.
 (apologies for the terrible photo quality above...not sure what happened there)

It's pretty and full of summertime color. 
The possibilities for creativity are limitless with Martha Stewart Jewelry.  You can make complicated, intricate items or the simplest jewelry, like a cabochon ring created entirely with items from the MS line.
These items would make it so easy to personalize a gift for someone, whether it's by using their favorite color or a favorite charm.

I'm eager to try out some of the other items to make even more unique and personalized jewelry.  You can learn more about the product line and projects via the Inspired by Plaid Facebook page, on Twitter @PlaidCrafts, or by following Plaid Crafts on Pinterest.

Enjoy some additional creations from other bloggers in the campaign below

Disclosure: As a participant in this campaign from Plaid Crafts and The Blueprint Social, I received sample items for creating this craft as well as payment for my time.  All opinions are my own.

May 22, 2023

The Fun Uncle

Did you have one growing up? Or many, as I did?  That fun uncle who plays cars for hours, takes you swimming when your parents think it's too cold to bother, and tosses you over and over onto the bed.  Soren and Jude have 4 uncles on my side who spoil them with attention (and gifts).
This weekend, we spent some time with Uncle Jeff, mucking around in the bay near the beaches in Delaware, a favorite spot for our family.
Since it was a pretty overcast and drizzly weekend, we didn't get in any swimming, but still played in the water.  And the boys were so happy to be with their doting uncle (and we parents were just as happy too, to get a break for relaxing and drinking hot coffee and reading, something we don't get to do much at home).
Uncle Jeff is the fun uncle who spends an entire day on a paddle board, exploring the bays, and hoping that Soren and Jude will one day join him.  So far no luck in coaxing S onto it, at least this season.
But walks in the woods to hunt for "bad guys" will suffice.
Even Jude can't get enough of "Un-ca Def", which was the first word he said when waking from a nap, followed by "bed" (referring to Jeff throwing the boys onto the beds).
Every kids needs a fun uncle (or aunt), wouldn't you say, even if it's not a relative by blood?   Oddly, I think I could be a fun aunt, though I'm not always so fun with my kids. I think the sheer amount of work it takes to raise them is just too exhausting to leave much time for fun, at least for me.  Plus Soren and I clash a lot, so often when I think we're going to have a blast together, it sours quickly.  Not so with his uncle though.
 Did you have a fun uncle or aunt?  What memories do you have?

May 20, 2023

Hands, Paper, Sun Craft with Elmer's Naturals

Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Elmer’s. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

With Father's Day quickly approaching, I've been thinking of ways to celebrate the dads in our lives, including my husband.  Since my eldest son's preschool ends this month, I can't rely on his teachers to come up with some cool craft like they do for Mother's Day (yea teachers!  And no, I'm not really so lazy as to not want to make a card/gift with my kids), so I had to think of something fun to make with the kids for Chris.

We always have an abundance of paper, and this week we also got to test out some of Elmer's School Glue Naturals, made of 99% natural ingredients.

We are always up for crafting, which allows me to exercise my old art teacher skills while engaging in a creative activity with my son.  Elmer's is the only glue I bought for students when I was a teacher, so I have a lot of experience using it.  I was eager to see how their line of natural glues held up when making our Father/Sun craft (pun intended).
It's a very simple project you can do with your kids, and it is made up of tracings of their little hands, which is meaningful and sweet.

Here's what you'll need:
  • Construction paper (we used orange and yellow)
  • Scissors
  • Elmer's School Glue Naturals glue stick
  • Elmer's School Glue Naturals glue
  • Pencil
  • Markers
  • Sequins
  • Ribbon or string for hanging
  • Paper Plate
Trace your child's hand onto a piece of the construction paper.
Since I have two kids, we have a mix of small and smaller hands in both yellow and orange.
We cut out the hands,
then I folded the other papers and cut out multiple hands at once

Gather all your hands and your glue stick,
then glue your hands around the outside of your paper plate.
Please ignore my "rounded" square plate.  It's the best one I had on hand!

This step is optional, but I felt it added a little more pizazz to the artwork.  We cut out two circles out of orange and yellow paper, one larger than the other, and glued them together with the glue stick.
Then we glued that to the center of our plate using the Elmer's School Glue Naturals glue.
This helps jazz up a plain white plate too, if you're using one.

In the center of the sun, I wrote the lyric "You are my sunshine, You make me happy when skies are gray." but you could certainly write something like "you are the sunshine of my life", etc.  Then spell out "Dad" in glue and let the kids add sequins for sunny sparkle.
You could add a little heart too, out of glue.

When the glue is dry, turn the sun over and glue a length of ribbon to the back.
Allow to dry, then hang in a prominent place on Father's Day.
As for my take on Elmer's new natural glues, I found no difference in using these as compared to their traditional glue.  I would definitely have no problem replacing the traditional glue with Elmer's Naturals, especially knowing they are made from 99% natural ingredients, great for those glue-eaters that I've come across as a teacher. :)

Be sure to enter Elmer's Pin-to-Win Sweepstakes, where you can win an Elmer's Naturals prize pack and $100 gift card.
Details are on the Elmer's Facebook page under the Pin to Win tab.

May 17, 2023

Open Door Policy

Growing up, I recall my parents, especially my dad, constantly shouting to my brothers the tired phrase "shut the door, we don't live in a barn!".  Or something like that.  Which was promptly met with deep eye-rolling from us, thinking that phrase was so silly, and probably confusing to us, since we lived in a neighborhood (albeit in a teeny, rural town).

It's true, most people don't live in a barn, but as a parent now, I can relate to that phrase.  In and out, out and in, the front and back doors are constantly in motion these days.  So much so that I had to oil them, as to reduce that post-winter creaking from the hinges.
While I love that my kids spend so much time outside, especially in the light of reading this article, the parade of neighborhood kids traipsing through the doors is something I have to remind myself to embrace, especially at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when I've had my fill of little voices and shoes.
Pre-parenthood, I always wanted to be that mom in the neighborhood whose house the kids always congregated toward. 
Surprisingly, I am still happy to live in THAT house, the one where the kids hang out.  Whether it's facilitating a May Day teepee, filling a wading pool and getting out the squirt guns, or just mentioning the possibility of a popsicle treat, I (mostly) like hosting the kids, and I'm pretty sure they like being here.
It can obviously be exhausting and stressful, keeping an eye out for sometimes 6 small beings and their antics and monitoring behavior, especially sibling rivalry.  It is sometimes funny too, like when Soren and one boy yesterday were peeing in my flower bed and then discussing whether to try pooping in it too.  Oh boys!  Thankfully it wasn't in our veggie garden, which is coming along beautifully, despite an unexpected frost a few nights ago.
A perpetually-busted screen is proof that kids inhabit a house
While I try not to secede my home entirely to children (as evidenced by my plants and decor), I do appreciate seeing the evidence of their existence left behind via their toys, crumbs and dirt.
That is, when there's a quiet moment to reflect upon it, especially during preschool/nap time for the boys.  Which I'm certainly frittering away on the computer right now.  It's hard to muster up appreciation when boys are snapping your lilac bush with swords.
It's still a work in progress for me, this living-with-children, especially boys.  Incrementally, I'm letting go of a tidy house, because when you really confront the fact that cleaning+kids=more cleaning, it's actually easy to let go of it.  You'll never get more neat-freak satisfaction than that 20 minutes of time when all the laundry is done and the floors are clean, so why stress for such a brief moment?

So please excuse me while I throw open the doors, smile when the kids come in, and ignore those sticky fingerprints on the glass.

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

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