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Inspiring Kids to Play on Their Own

I have read many articles that say that boredom is good for kids. And I agree — being constantly entertained is not realistic or even fun. When Alex has time on her own, she often falls into a zone that is happy and engaged. But sometimes she still cannot quite get there and seem restless and ends up saying, “Mommy, can I have your phone to watch a song?” or “I’m super hungry.” So, I was grateful to learn this tip…

I always figured that the experts who recommended boredom just let their children loose in their homes and said, “Goodbye and good luck,” and trusted they would find something to play with. Maybe so? But Alex sometimes needs a little help getting started.

Then, recently, I read this article about how to help little ones “enjoy pottering.” I was most interested in how the author suggested putting basic materials around the home to help inspire imaginative play.

Parents do have a role… children need the adults around them to understand that creating their own pastimes requires space, time and the possibility of making a mess (within limits – and to be cleared up afterwards by the children themselves).

They will need some materials too, but these need not be sophisticated – simple things are often more versatile. We’ve all heard of the toddler ignoring the expensive present and playing with the box it came in instead. For older children, a magnifying glass, some planks of wood, a basket of wool, and so on, might be the start of many happily occupied hours…

If a child has run out of ideas, giving them some kind of challenge can prompt them to continue to amuse themselves imaginatively. This could range from asking them to find out what kind of food their toy dinosaurs enjoy in the garden to going off and creating a picture story with some friends and a digital camera.

Nowadays, at home, we try to help Alex by having just a few simple imaginative toys out and visible along with some (washable) art supplies. Alex loves playing vet and dress up! Most all of her patients either have a fever or a broken bone, and she does a good job treating her patients. And, Alex loves making her art, and she usually sings a song while she makes her art, which we proudly display in our home! And she has recently been decorating envelopes and cards to send out, which are decorated with her stamps, stickers, and coloring, and people love getting them in the mail!

What imaginative toys/materials do you like? Legos and Magna-Tiles are a hot ticket in our house these days.

Taking Vows

I really love this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. The essence of her words encompass doing the work you love regardless of any outcome. Her words, shown below, really resonated with me, and perhaps her words will positively impact you, too.

“When I was about sixteen years old, I took vows to become a writer.

I mean, I literally took vows — the way a young woman of an entirely different nature might take vows to become a nun. Of course, I had to invent my own ceremony around these vows, because there is no official holy Sacrament for a teenager who longs to become a writer, but I used my imagination and my passion and I made it happen. I retreated to my bedroom one night and turned off all the lights. I lit a candle, got down on my honest-to-God knees, and swore my fidelity to writing for the rest of my natural life.

My vows were strangely specific and, I would still argue, pretty realistic. I didn’t make a promise that I would be a successful writer, because I sensed that success was not under my control. Nor did I promise that I would be a great writer, because I didn’t know if I could be great. Nor did I give myself any time limits for the work, like, ‘If I’m not published by the time I’m thirty, I’ll give upon this dream and go find another line of work.’ In fact, I didn’t put any conditions or restrictions on my path at all. My deadline was: never.

Instead, I simply vowed to the universe that I would write forever, regardless of the result. I promised that I would try to be brave about it, and grateful, and as uncomplaining as I could possibly be. I also promised that I would try to be brave about it, and grateful, and as uncomplaining as I could possibly be. I also promised that I would never ask writing to take care of me financially, but that I would always take care of it — meaning that I would always support us both, by any means necessary. I did not ask for any external rewards for devotion; I just wanted to spend my life as near to writing as possible — forever close to that source of all my curiosity and contentment — and so I was willing to make whatever arrangements needed to be made in order to get by.”

Viral Comic About Parenting Double Standards

Graphic designer and mother-of-two Mary Catherine Starr recently posted a comic on Instagram about how differently society views moms versus dads. It went viral and it has been translated into more than 15 languages. The full comic is below…and I am sure many can relate to the this comic, which is so telling!

Image credit: Mary Catherine Starr.

Loving: Winter 2022

Happy Winter!

1. Maid — We finished this series, recently, which was based upon a true story. It was intense to watch, but it was very well done and interesting, and it follows the arc of the hero’s journey.

2. The Lost Daughter — We watched this film recently, and it was well done. Maggie Gyllenhall is the writer and director of this film, pertaining to how events past and present shape our souls and force us to confront our shadow.

3. Bocce’s Crispies Dog Treats — These are some new dog treats we tried with Victory, and she absolutely loves them, they are similar to crispy training treats!

4. Patagonia Jacket Alex loves her winter jacket! It is well-made and keeps her very warm, which is important!

5. Osmo — Alex got an Osmo for Christmas, and she loves it! She loves making creative pieces of art, along with her letters!

6. Vivian Maier, Developed — I recently purchased this book over the Holidays, and it is such a great read. Vivian’s Maier’s work was discovered in a very fascinating way several years ago. Her work has subsequently been acquired by and shown in museums. Very little was known about her at the time her work was discovered; however, Ann Marks does a wonderful job sharing Vivian’s story, in conjunction with her work. I learned a lot about this photographer, and it was inspiring to read as well.

You can view other things I love here!

Happy Heart Day!

We celebrated Valentine’s Day a little early, this weekend with Alex and Victory! They are quite the pair! I am so grateful for our little family.

Happy Heart Day!  I hope you have a great day celebrating with the ones you love.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

Persistence

I love this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It really boils down to how one handles herself during a creative endeavor where there is always much uncertainty, while simultaneously there is great possibility. These words really resonated with me.

“Back in my early twenties, I had a good friend who was an aspiring writer, just like me. I remember how he used to descend into dark funks of depression about his lack of success, about his inability to get published. He would sulk and rage.

‘I don’t just want to be sitting around,’ he would moan. ‘I want this to all add up to something. I want this to become my job!’

Even back then, I thought there was something off about his attitude.

Mind you, I wasn’t being published, either, and I was hungry, too. I would’ve loved to have all the same stuff he wanted — success, reward, affirmation. I was no stranger to disappointment and frustration. But I remember thinking that learning how to endure your disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person. If you want to be an artist of any sort, it seemed to me, then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work — perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of the work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process. The fun part (the part where it doesn’t feel like work at all) is when you’re actually creating something wonderful, and everything’s going great, and everyone loves it, and you’re flying high. But such instances are rare. You don’t just get to leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living. Holding yourself together though all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.”

Ten Year Blogiversary!

Today is the ten-year Blogiversary of the blog!  I can’t hardly believe it! It is extremely difficult to believe that ten years, a full decade, has already passed by so quickly!  The time moves so quickly, these days, and I often wonder where the time goes? Many things have changed, but some things remain the same, fortunately.  I am grateful for this little space here.

If it were not for our beloved Biscuit, I am not sure I would have ever started blogging and I know that I would not have started my long-term photography project, for which Biscuit and Victory are my inspiration.  Biscuit was such a blessing and gift to us.  Biscuit permanently changed our lives in so many positive ways and he sent us our precious little rescue sheltie, Victory, who we adore and love, shown below!  We have savored our time together with Victory during the pandemic. And, coincidentally, Victory is the same age (we suspect as she is a rescue dog) as the blog!

Thank you for reading this blog for however long or short you have been visiting!  I truly enjoy creating content for the blog to share with all of you, and I hope that you continue to enjoy visiting and reading the blog!

Thank you so very much!

Snapshot: Fall 2021

This post is a little late, as we are already fully into the new year. However, I have been fervently working to catch up on editing our family photos along with making family year books via Blurb to document and archive our family year, by year. However, somehow, I always seem to be catching up on my photo editing, a never ending process.

During this past fall, we picked apples; took a trip to the pumpkin patch; took Alex to horse riding lessons and she is currently riding on her own now, which has been so wonderful to watch her progress; celebrated our thirteenth year of marriage (along with celebrating seventeen years of being together); celebrated Victory’s tenth birthday; spent time with my parents who came to visit; celebrated Halloween with our two little peacocks; and Alex met Santa outside! (We do miss our regular Santa visits with the girls due to COVID.) Overall, we had a fun fall together! Below are a few images from this past fall!

Here is Alex riding Edge!

The Pet Show

The Pet Show exhibition at Fotographiska, located in Stockholm, Sweden, showcases photographers and artists, including Martin Usborne, Robin Schwartz, Sophie Gamand, Tim Flach, William Wegman, and Elliot Erwitt, as well as new and emerging artists.

The exhibition is a tribute to pets and their place in our hearts and our history, and their significance in art and culture through the centuries. Twenty-seven artists and more than 140 works blending documentary photography, portraits and everything in between infusing what we love best about dogs: their present moment nature; endlessly entertaining quirks and pure expressions of unconditional love; and joy. The Pet Show celebrates animals for what they are: beloved works of art.

Images are courtesy of fotografiska.com.

One Little Word: 2022

I hope you had a nice Holiday. We visited with family, we had some down time with our girls, and we got some sleep and rest, which was so nice. And, I cannot believe our little girl is turning three-and-a-half-years-old this week! She is growing in every way and she loves learning and she is curious about everything, which I hope never goes away!

It is a new year, which means there has been much talk about fresh beginnings. For me, I keep things simple and I select a word, an intention, for the year.

I have reflected on my word for this year: present.  Last year I chose grace; in 2020 the word bliss; in 2019 the word embrace; in 2018 the word peace; in 2017 I chose relax; in 2016 I chose present; in 2015 I chose flow; in 2014 I chose trust; and in 2013 I chose the word create.  The idea of picking an intention has worked well over the past few years. 

I have nothing against resolutions (or goals, or plans, or to-do lists), but for me, I have found the most impactful way to embrace a new year is to pick a word — just one word, intention — to keep in mind.

As 2021 came to an end, I know that things were really hectic and busy in 2021, for a number of reasons. I could feel the tiredness and exhaustion throughout my entire body. I realized, that there were times that I was not present in the moment, and I want to work on this this year — to truly embrace the moment. “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” —Buddha

For me, it is an easy reminder to take whatever small steps I can to create clarity and feel better. For anyone similarly overwhelmed by resolutions, I recommend the practice of a New Year’s Word. Plus, since it is so simple, and you can change it at any time.

Happy New Year!