July 2006 Archives

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Personal Note: Since this is my first post to this blog I decided to include it in the General category as well as the Spirit Bear category.

Also, if you have been to this Look What I Drawed site before you will see that it has changed!  What was once a regular website, is now an interactive web-log or blog for short. That means that after you read a post or watch a video (coming soon), you will be able to follow the comments and opinions of others and be able to offer your own ‘two cents’.

Being interactive makes things way more fun! So I hope you enjoy the new format.

There’s a bear in My House!

In Spring 2006 I was involved with a very exciting and rewarding charitable project called "Kermode Spirit Bears in the City". To watch "The making of the Spirit Bear" with interviews of Sullivan Elementary Kids click There’s a bear in My House!

The Lions Society of British Columbia, Easter Seals, and the Canucks for Kids, came up with this public art project after the huge success of the "Orcas in the City" project in 2003.  (My orca on this link is titled ‘Young and Free’ and is half way down the page.)

Click here for newspaper articles involving both our "Orcas in the City" project and our "Kermode Spirit Bears in the City" project.

These two projects were created to give exposure to artists and sponsors, beautify the city and ultimately to raise much needed funds for children with disabilities.

Basically the way the projects worked was, a limited number of gorgeous life sized fiberglass sculptures were created. An 8 foot baby orca whale, and a 71/2 foot baby Kermode Spirit Bear.

These were the ‘blank canvases’ on which the artists created their masterpieces. A sponsor funded the cost of the sculpture’s creation and installation, in exchange for their name on the plaque and brochure,  the say in the location of the sculpture, etc., etc.

The sculptures then spend the summer ‘out on the street’  enjoyed by the public and are auctioned off online and at a big gala event in the fall. Our Spirit Bear will be auctioned in October 2006.

What makes my Orca and Bear particularly special is the involvement of tons of children. As an artist who works with children’s art as the basis of my designs, I can combine the work of many children’s designs into one piece.

This really ‘raises the bar’ as far as involving the community.

With the orca project I used the drawings from 10 different children including my own. With the bear project there were over 500 children involved!

The sponsors for our bear were 4 Moms for kids. They were four moms from a private school in Vancouver, BC called West Point Grey Academy (WPGA). They approached me to paint the bear after one of the moms had purchased my orca in 2003.

Together with the help of the Fine Arts and Performing Director at WPGA Christina Mears, we collected over 700 drawings of specific images from the students of WPGA.

They held a special Spirit Bear Day to create these drawings and many of them will be published in a small book along with poems and stories the children have created. 

My husband Doug and I were there at WPGA on Spirit Bear Day, going from classroom to classroom observing the kids creating their drawings. It was so inspiring to see their excitement and raw enthusiasm for the project.

Right now our bear titled "WPGA School Spirit" is standing out on the corner of West Tenth and Sasamat in Vancouver, BC enjoying the ooohs and aaawes from the passers by … from the tiny baby to the big burly construction guy.

So go check out the video to listen to all the children’s darling opinions and come back here to leave an opinion of your own. I’m sure all the kids and their parents would to here your kind words!

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Have you ever read an article and been instantly transported to your childhood?

I just read an article about the popular comeback of the ice cream sandwich from the New York Times called Frozen Treats: A Bite of Childhood.

The moment I started reading the article, a flood of ‘ice cream sandwich memories’ came rushing back of my own childhood. One memory in particular comes to mind.

My grandma lived in a tiny town called Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. This tiny town is nestled in at the base of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

For most of my childhood, we lived on the West Coast of British Columbia and did not have that many chances to visit my Grandparents. So getting to stay with them in their home was a special treat.

Grandma kept an old deep freeze in the mudroom by the back door, where her friends and family entered the house. The front door was the formal entrance and was only used by guests.

Whenever we would visit, my little brother and sister and I would go out to the mudroom and hunt in the freezer for treasure! The treasure we were hoping to find was a bucket filled with homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Grandma made her ice cream sandwiches with large chocolate chip cookies filled with vanilla ice cream. She then rolled the edges of the sandwiches in melted chocolate. Before the chocolate hardened, she’d roll them again in a plate of chopped nuts, usually salted peanuts.

Then grandma would carefully wrap the ice cream treasures in wax paper, before placing them in an empty ice cream bucket in the freezer for us to find.

She made it seem like there was probably always a bucket full of ice cream sandwiches at her place. Though now that I’m an adult, my guess is she started making them right after she found out we were coming.

Childhood memories are amazing. Simple things like the thought of an ice cream sandwich can take you back twenty or thirty years. When times were simple and pleasures were sweet.

How far back can an ice cream sandwich take you?

Filed under Childhood Memories by  #

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I recently came across a short article from the Proctor and Gamble’s P&G Everyday Solutions Newsletter, called " 6 Ways to Be a Kid Again: No Kidding!"

As parents we have a huge opportunity to re-live some of our childhood through something that is called ‘play therapy’. Childhood games like tag, Red Rover, skipping and using a Hula Hoop is a fantastic way to stay healthy and young at heart.

Some of the other ideas presented in the article were, finger painting, doing crafts, dancing, and being on a sport team.

I loved the idea of taking a group of your friends (leaving the kids at home), and heading off to an amusement park, zoo or the water park.

I know there would be a lot of giggling if my friends and I went to Playland… and even some screaming from me if we went on one of those crazy swinging rides!!!

Tell us some of your favorite childhood activities, that would make you feel like a child again if you tried them?

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I was just reading an article from About.com on an artist from New Orleans who returned to her studio after Katrina, to find by her surprise a watercolor painting that had survived the hurricane.

Reading this article got me to thinking. What if a natural disaster happened to our family?

If I were lucky enough to have fair warning I know what I would bring. After bringing all the essential legal papers and my hard drive (I’ve got video and pictures on there), I would head for the emotional stuff that I just couldn’t replace.

Things like photos, artwork, the kid’s drawings, and small love gifts would be the first things to come. Then my box of childhood mementos, along with my husband’s and our children’s. Other things would come only if there was room.

If you had just a few hours to grab a selection of your personal possessions what would they be? What do you think your children would bring?

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If your family is anything like mine, then your kids’ messy rooms are a continuing issue your house.

Right this very moment my daughter is attempting to tackle her disgusting dirty clothes ridden room and my son’s bedroom floor is so littered with Lego and K’nex pieces that trying to maneuver them in the dark is like maneuvering a mine field! Not exactly what I pictured when I was helping them decorate their rooms in the first place!

In fact this ‘messy room’ issue is so common there are huge industries devoted to dealing with this very problem.

There are TV shows, designers, magazines and books dedicated to organizing and decorating kid’s rooms. And there are countless storage products to make this job a little easier.

There is even a contest running in Chicago "Looking for the messiest kids’ rooms" that will give the winner the opportunity to have their child’s room tackled by a professional organizer.

But where is the real problem?

Have we not properly trained our children to pick up after themselves? Do they have logical places to store things? Is the ‘system’ we’ve designed for them too hard to do? i.e. Racks and hooks too high, drawers too sticky, toy box so big they have to empty it to find things.

Do they just have too much stuff, which makes organizing it a nightmare?

Are our own standards too high that they are impossible for them to achieve? Or maybe so low ,that things get way beyond what our child can tackle, before we do anything about it?

So what do you think? Should we as parents do a better job of training our kids or should we resign to a messy room being part of the parenting experience?

Tell me your messy kids’ room stories.

Filed under Kids Rooms by  #

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Working on a variety of decorating kids playrooms and bedrooms articles, both my husband Doug and I have been reminded again and again about our own childhood bedrooms.

 

Maybe you remember the bedroom paint colors… a quilt… or a picture perhaps? Or does a special toy, or a cozy seat by the window fill your memories when looking back into the past?

 

There is always something that you can remember from your child bedroom decor. As you try to bring your minds eye to those little things about your room, a flood of other childhood memories come rushing in.

 

Talking with Doug about his childhood bedroom, he remembers the nautical decor, the aquariums and the radio that took all day to warm up enough to listen to.

 

My dad remembers the attic bedroom with the arched ceilings he shared with his two brothers, and the tall dresser in which he got the bottom drawer because he was the youngest.

 

My mom remembers a bleak, drab bedroom with little to no ornamentation. A room that was always cold and shivery to her.

 

As for me, I have cozy peaceful memories of the bedrooms I had when I was a child.

 

My sister and I shared a room in every home we lived in as children, except one. There was even a time when my brother also shared our room.

 

I tend to remember things spatially. The way the room was laid out, where the closet was and how the beds were placed.

 

I don’t really remember any of the bedroom colors except for the one turquoise striped room I didn’t really like that much. Mom and Dad found a good deal on wallpaper and bedspreads for my sister’s and my room while we were at school and surprised us with them.

 

I remember being pleased our room was getting updated but never had the heart to say I didn’t like the color. 

 

It wasn’t like I hated my new room; I just didn’t feel very comfortable with the bedroom colors. I was never angry with my parents for ‘choosing for me’ but I never felt like it was really mine.

 

To give my sweet parents some credit, I remember one of my child bedrooms with great fondness. It was the one time I had a room of my own.

 

I really wanted to have one of those wallpaper murals that covered the whole wall with a scene. They were expensive and my parents weren’t sure whether they were worth the money. I loved this one that was a country road lined with trees in fall color and I wanted it really bad.

 

I was twelve at the time and could picture myself taking long walks through those beautiful trees.

 

They bought the mural for me and hung it on the wall with quite a bit of difficulty. The squares of wallpaper had to be lined up perfectly or the picture looked all wrong.

 

I remember lying on my bed dreaming of peaceful outings by the hour and being thankful that they had put it up for me.

 

The one thing in common in every child bedroom I had, was a picture of a puppy investigating a little green frog at the edge of a pond. No matter how old I got I was never too old for this picture.

 

I think some how you never outgrow what you love and understand.

 

This little picture now hangs in our daughter’s bedroom along with the paintings we made of her drawings and the photo of her first cat.

 

It is funny how much your own past child bedroom decor can have such a big impact on you as an adult.

 

I think as parents, how we remember our own childhood bedroom also affects they way we go about decorating our children’s rooms.

 

Were we given the opportunity to express our own personalities in our rooms? Were they our own rooms or just extensions of our parent’s house?

 

Were our rooms cozy or bleak? Were they creative, original and filled with art and treasures? Were they filled with the things we loved or were they decorated in someone else’s tastes?

 

When our children were very tiny, Doug and my tastes tended to dominate their rooms.

 

As they are growing and discovering their own likes and dislikes we are seeing changes in their needs to influence how their rooms are being decorated.

 

Their rooms are the one place in the house that is truly theirs alone. Big discussions have to be made now when we are interested in adding or removing any elements in their rooms, such as furniture, bedding, toys and artwork.

 

Since our memories are so strong about our own childhood bedrooms, we are assuming theirs will be too, and want their memories to be of comfort, individuality and empowerment.

 

We are hoping that our children can look back on the memories of their own childhood bedrooms with fondness. We also hope they hold onto a few of their precious treasures to share with their own children when their memories are just tiny snapshots in their own minds eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I know it sounds strange, but over praising your child’s artwork can actually hinder the development of positive self-esteem rather than support it.

Just as you would tend to become suspicious of a friends’ motives if they were constantly praising everything you did, "Ooh I love you hair and your clothes and your house and your kids and your husband!!!!"… Your child will quickly disbelieve your sincerity if you are constantly saying "Oh you’re a fantastic artist, I could never do as well as you!"

Being an artist I have a great interest in my children’s art. I found myself constantly telling my daughter what a fantastic artist she was and how she would probably end up to be a much greater artist than me. Surely that couldn’t hurt her, to tell her that?! After all it’s true and it encourages her to aim high right?

Well it never really dawned on me that this could be a problem until my son started drawing. Being three years younger it took awhile before he started to get good enough for her to consider him competition. But then one day he got bigger.

She started asking, "Am I a better drawer than Fisher? Mine is a lot better right? Who’s art do you like better, Fisher’s or mine?"

This behavior worried me because I wanted her to be confident in her artwork and I didn’t want her to feel she was in competition with anyone, especially her brother.

I also worried about how it made her brother feel. Being smaller he was already ‘behind in skills’ as far as he was concerned, so he really didn’t need his sister always talking about how much better she was.

So how do you encourage your child to continue creating art without over doing the praise and causing self-esteem issues?

Well after reading several articles, parenting books and magazines I have discovered it is more important to admire the development of skills instead of the work itself.

Try saying things like, "I like the way you used the side of your crayon to get texture in your drawing. I’ve noticed you are adding more detail to your drawings than you used to. I like the way the dog looks like he’s smiling in your picture."

An article I read today called "How can praise be negative?" is an excellent article on exactly this issue of over praising your child. Take a moment and read it. It has some great ideas that may help you give your child the type of praise that will build his self-esteem instead of tearing it down.

By the way, I’ve noticed a big difference in the way my children see themselves and their artwork since handling the praise I give them a little differently. Maybe it will work for you too!

 

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Maybe I’ve been in denial …

Surely my children’s rooms won’t be as messy when they get older and more mature?!

This is just a phase. They will soon outgrow all these toys and then there will be less stuff in their rooms to get strewn about. Right?!!

I just read this article about a messy teen whose room was being tackled by a professional organizer. (Seems organizers all the rage now… Have parents finally lost the battle?)

The article was kind of funny since the kid wasn’t mine.

The mother kept twisting her ankle on the stuff on the floor and the boy’s girlfriend would have cried if she saw their prom pictures under the pile of clothes and junk in the corner. 

Turns out the flooring was actually carpet and not spagnum moss as they had thought before the room was cleaned!

Anyways, it looks like the same problems that plague a young child’s room affect the older child’s room too, if they are not dealt with.

Too much stuff. Not enough storage. Units too big and stuff gets lost or too small and stuff won’t fit . So guess what, it doesn’t get put away!

Storage pieces that are hard to use. Old hand-me-downs with rickety shelves and drawers that stick are very common in kids rooms.

No logical system in place for putting things away, is also a big problem for kids rooms. Electronics mixed with toys , books and clothes makes things hard to find and difficult to put away.

Let’s face it… If it’s not dead easy, it’s not going to get done. At least not by your child.

So looks like I should probably head out to Walmart and Ikea for more storage bins and boxes and see if I can’t help my kids set up a system that will work for their rooms.

I just can’t bear the thought of things getting any worse in their once cozy little rooms!

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