Supporting an Aspiring Young Author, Rose!

I am getting a little carried away, perhaps, but I don’t care. When your kids show interest in something you have an equal passion for, you just have no choice but to get excited!

My daughter, Rose, has shown a high interest in writing and illustrating her own books, and she’s only seven years old.

I remember I was just like her when I was little. As soon as I learned to write, and read my first story in front of my class, I was HOOKED. I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer and illustrate my own books. So what happened? I was gung ho all through childhood, and my writing was highly encouraged by my teachers and my peers (in Canada). However, when I moved to the States, nobody knew me. Nobody knew that I’d been writing ever since the first grade. But when I started drawing in art class, it was extremely obvious to people that I had a talent in art, and that became what people focused on in my new life in the States. It wasn’t until I bought a blank book from the bookstore and started writing my autobiography during recess time that people started to notice my writing passion in the 8th Grade. But still, writing isn’t as cool as being good at art, so my passion for writing remained something mostly I knew about, along with a select few of my friends. Hence my decision to pursue art as my career choice rather than writing. I decided to sneak into the back door of the professional writing world by entering through it with my art (creating illustrated children’s books first, perhaps). In a way, that is what seems to be happening, but not exactly the way I planned.

So on to my daughter! I feel like I want to take what I learned from my own life and pass that knowledge on to her. I learned that sharing my work to others was what excited me. It isn’t enough to simply write the words. A writer isn’t much without readers, just as an actor or musician isn’t much without an audience. So I joyfully created a blog for Rose on which she can see her work up in front of the world for everyone to see and read. Getting comments on her blog is so exciting to share with her. She’s learning so much so early. I certainly didn’t have the internet to use as a resource when I was little. I’m happy to introduce it to her in a supportive way, so she can see how the internet can be used as a support tool.

I’ve created a few different pages for her. The latest is this one, created for her and her friend Jamie: GirlTeenagerBooks.wordpress.com

Rose also created her own little writing desk area in her room. SO cute!

I am thrilled to see that her teacher at Sunview Elementary School is extremely encouraging, just as I remember my own elementary school teachers when I was little. This just delights me! BIG thanks to her teacher, Mrs.Johnson!

I’m looking forward to teaching her to feel empowered and not rely solely on traditional publishing as the ultimate way to go. I guess I focus so much on that because I think that’s what killed my own confidence about getting published as a young person. I knew I wasn’t the best author – I was just a kid – but there was no other way I knew to get my work out there.

Independent publishing can be just as lucrative, and in some cases, more lucrative! Besides, we writers don’t write for the money. We write because we love to write. Just the way any creative person does what they do – Artists love to express themselves creatively. Actors love the thrill of performing in front of an audience. Musicians have passion for the audio art they create. We are all artists and we do what we do because WE LOVE TO DO IT.

Edvard Munch said, “Art is your heart’s blood.”

SO true. Creative expression is something we just have to do.

And I am so happy to be sharing all this with my daughter. I’m looking forward to journeying with her through this artistic path, and even  learning a few new things myself as I watch what happens with her own new journey.

Artist at Work

At left you’ll see a photo of my daughter, Rose, watching her dad (David) do his art work on the computer.

So many times Rose will ask me after dinner, “Can I watch Daddy at the computer?”

One of Rose’s favorite things to do is watch her Daddy doing his art work on the computer. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing. It could be creating a new font, a logo, or a full illustration. Rose seems entranced by watching him do any kind of art work on the computer. She’ll grab her teddy bear, and he’ll take his headphones off and crank up the music for her.

I think that’s how Rose was introduced to the music of Ane Brun.

It’s really very sweet.

You can check out some examples of “Daddy’s work” on his art blog HERE. I guarantee Rose has watched him make half of the art you see there.

Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up!

An unfortunate situation at home created a POSITIVE opportunity for me this morning. I got to drive my daughter, Rose, to daycare this morning (normally Daddy’s job), and we had the most uplifting conversation in the car on our way.

She started asking me about astronauts, asking if girls can be astronauts. “Absolutely,” I said.

“Are there any girl astronauts?” She asked me.

I knew for sure there were, but the only one I could off-hand remember was the teacher who was killed in the Challenger explosion when I was a kid. I decided not to mention that detail to her, telling her I knew of a female astronaut who was ALSO a teacher (another thing Rose dreams about being when she gets older). Rose was very interested.

After some discussion, Rose said, “I think I just want to be a book writer!”

“Me too!” I said to her, and explained to her that I had that same dream when I was little, but gave up on it after a while. Now I’m picking that dream back up again. “But,” I said, “if I hadn’t given up back when I was a kid, I’d probably be making a good living from my books now! So it’s really important not to give up if you really want to do something.”

I decided to think more positively, and said, “But I didn’t give up on my dream of being a professional artist – and now that’s exactly what I do for a living! I’m pretty happy about that!”

“So I’m never going to give up on my book writing, then!” Rose decided.

I cheered her on. “Yes,” I said. “Because giving up is really the only definite way to fail. If you never give up, eventually you can make that dream or that goal happen!”

What a great conversation to start my day today.

Thank you, Rose!

Don’t Just Dream ~ Make a PLAN!

I was so proud of my 7-year-old girl, Rosie, who came home from daycare one day with the best plan ever!

She called it her “get rich plan.”

Please watch the video above to see Rose explain her plan to you.

I can learn so much from Rose, here. Not only is she making her dreams real by writing them down and creating a plan, but she isn’t bothering to think small. She has a GREAT BIG DREAM. When we grow up, somewhere along the way we allow our dreams to shrink down. I love how kids have the best dreams ever, because they don’t yet know what their limitations are. When we grow up, we allow our limitations to automatically cancel out certain dreams (I can’t do this because… I can’t do that because…).

I ask what my 5-year-ols boy wants to be when he grows up and he says, “I want to be Spiderman!”

I try to silence Rose who pipes up to tell him he can’t be Spiderman “… because he’s just a cartoon character,” she says. Now is not the time to tell him what he can’t do. I want him to dream as big as he can. The truth is, maybe he CAN be Spiderman someday – Firemen wear red (at least they used to) and save people. Or he could be on the big screen someday in yet another Spiderman live-action remake. Or he could simply be Spiderman for Halloween.

I see equal possibilities in Rose’s dream. If she keeps writing and drawing like she’s doing, she’ll make it to New York and Hollywood someday… if she still wants to when she gets older. Or she could stay in Cleveland. I sure would miss my little BIG dreamer.

Are there any childhood dreams this makes you remember? Remember, no dream is too silly or too big!

Hug THIS! ~ Using LOVE to Stop Meltdown Mania

Take a good look at this picture to the left.

I know, hard to do.

When your child is like this (and I’m sure he/she has at one time or another), it s almost impossible to stop it. We just have to let the child cry it out, right? That’s all we CAN do.

Well, what about when the crying lasts ten minutes? The crying/screaming fit begins for a reason, but after about five minutes, the child most likely doesn’t even remember why she began crying in the first place. NOW she is crying because she feels rejected or alone.  Nobody understands her. Life SUCKS! She feels just plain upset in general, so the crying and screaming continues on and on.

This has happened with my daughter a couple times – and one time I decided it could not continue. I had to get her started getting ready for bed. But how?

I had to get her to stop this meltdown.

Finally an idea struck me. I knelt down in front of her, wrapped my arms around her, stroked her hair, and nuzzled her head

Don’t just give a little hug. EMBRACE the child with every ounce of love you have inside you. Let the child FEEL your love.

against my cheek.

Like a jet plane landing, you have to be patient for it to come to a complete stop. It took about one long minute, maybe two, for the screaming to turn into a cry, the cry turned into a whimper, and finally it was over. I could wipe her tears, tell her “I love you,” and begin our bedtime routine.

Yes, it’s hard to bring yourself to hug this child who might seem like a demon trapped in a child’s body, but you see, THAT is the whole point. IN A WAY, there IS a little demon trapped in your child at that point, and the guaranteed way to get rid of a little demon is to LOVE IT OUT.

Remember, don’t just “hug” your child. EMBRACE him. Wrap your arms around him and communicate EVERY OUNCE of your love with your embrace. Kiss his little head, stroke his hair. Express your love.

And wait patiently.

Something to think about, for the next time the uncontrollable meltdown hits.

Heck, it’s worth a try.

A “Thank You” to My Angel, Rose

This week has been very difficult with the kids. It’s one of those weeks that has been so frustrating, I feel like blasting myself to the moon just to breathe. I know the kids pick up on my tension, especially my daughter, Rose. Rose quite often is my God-by-Proxy person in my life. I am certain God uses her as a conduit to give me just the message I need. This has happened many times in my life with Rose, and it happened again this week. It was amazing.

I was fuming mad at both the kids for not listening and not getting along with each other. It was bedtime and I was ready to say goodnight and get some time to myself. I asked Rose over and over to please pick out a story for bedtime and to hurry (before I lost it completely). She finally decided on a Peanuts comic book and flipped to the comic she wanted me to read when we were finally settled in her bed for story time. As I began reading, I joked to her that I felt just like Lucy, and we both tried to laugh about it. When Linus gives her his sweet-heart line at the end, I stared at her with amazement, smiled big, and kissed her on the top of her head.

“Rose,” I said to her, “I think you’re more than just a person. You’re an angel.”

We hugged and I read her more that night than I planned to, happy to have my mood suddenly changed with a warmed heart again.

Just had to write about this and share this same comic with any others out there who are having a hard day!

Blooming Rose

Rose at play - Here she is at the bookmaking class I taught for an after-school volunteer thing.

"Butterfly" by Rose

I just have to share some wonderful news about my daughter, Rose.

I am so proud of her. She has won two achievements in art this year already, and I just found out she won the state competition for an art piece she created back in January. I could not be more proud of our little artist. And she’s only FIVE.

Rose also loves to write (I am beaming). She couldn’t get enough of the bookmaking class I volunteered to teach for a special after-school activity. You can find one of her books she made at home on our Potato Bug Press website — I gave Rose her own page, and there you can see more of her artwork.

I sure have learned an important lesson as a parent. Once you realize what your child is good at, shower the child with praise. Show enthusiasm. I know it sure was important to me when I was growing up. I’m also learning that it is never too young to enter them in little contests. I am so happy for Rose to see her beginning to decorate her rooms with certificates and ribbons. It is such a joy to watch your child excel in something.

Sending out a blessing to all parents out there. May your child be showered with praise and enthusiasm.

Every kid has a super power of some kind  🙂

Dream-ing ~ With Sidewalk Paint!

I had the most wonderful time with the kids over the Labor Day weekend. We got out one of my daughter’s birthday gifts – a pack of Crayola Sidewalk Paint. I had no idea how much fun it was going to be. I really got into it – and since it’s all just liquid chalk, not paint, we were FREE TO GET COLORFUL. For the first time in YEARS my shoes were speckled with bright-colored paint! I had paint on my hands, too – and when it dried it merely turned to dust on my fingers.

We ended up using every last drop of the paint, and wore the chalk down considerably as well. Rose and I could have gone on with it forever. After about twenty minutes, Jack of course was finished and began playing fetch by himself, throwing the chalk into the neighbor’s yard. By the time we had only drops left in the containers, I said, “Hey, Rose! Look at this!” I screwed off the lid, raised the container high, and whipped it down, letting the paint FLY across my “DREAM” painting. OH, it was marvelous. Will definitely have to get more!

I was excited to know that the next day several parents would be walking their kids to school, and people walking their dogs, and I hoped my “DREAM” message might hit a few chords with some. I thought how wonderful it would be to paint something new every weekend with the kids – leaving my creative mark for the neighborhood walkers and passersby to enjoy!

We had a rainstorm last night, and the kids and I watched as our painting was swept away. Rose was upset, but then I explained to her, “Don’t worry! We can just do it again!”

I can’t wait.  🙂

Teaching Cartoons to Kids at Cleveland’s Natural History Museum

Artwork by Jake - one of the kids in my class.

I had a wonderful opportunity to be hired through ZAP Entertainment to teach a couple cartoon classes to a group of 25 kids for their summer camp classes at Cleveland’s Museum of Natural History. What a boot camp this was for me – a good way to get my feet wet when it comes to teaching art to children.

I taught two one-hour classes a week, for two weeks (a different group of kids each week). The first class I titled “Superhero YOU,” which put emphasis on the fact that we all have superpowers (talents/skills) – and having the kids illustrate what they think their own super power might be. The second class was focused on teaching how to draw expressions.

It was very fun, and I learned much from the experience.

I had to share one of my favorite pieces drawn by one of the first-week students, named “Jake.” I had a handout that showed a series of Calvin cartoon expressions to get my point across, and this kid loved the sheet so much that he decided to duplicate it! This boy was only in the 2nd or 3rd grade – I was impressed.

Precious Art for Mother’s Day!

The finished product!

The finished product!

I just finished a new blog entry for CraftsUnleashed.com using Precious Stone material, making a cast of my children’s hands and then painting on it. It was a challenging project – just getting the timing right to do the casting of the hands was tricky. But in the end I am very happy with how it all turned out! I plan to gift this piece to my mother-in-law as a thank you for watching the kids as me and my husband go on a trip to the NC mountains for Mother’s Day weekend. I hope she likes it as much as I do!

Rose is 4 1/2 and Jack is 2 1/2 — and I was surprised to see both their hands were pretty much the same size!

Painting this has really excited me. One project I really would like to do this summer is paint my picnic table in the backyard — in a similar style as on this piece. I want bright, vibrant colors! I want to also make more painted creations like this and place them around the backyard. I want to paint our front door like this, too. I want, I want, I want. I guess I shouldn’t pressure myself too much. Over time I’ll develop a yard filled with colorful, artsy creations. And I suppose over time those creations will reflect my own personal journey. It will be interesting what develops.

So many creative dreams this year! I’ve really enjoyed doing my posts for CraftsUnleashed.com. It has forced me into playing with art materials again, and also has given me the opportunity to call myself a published writer!

It’s funny to me — my interest in art and writing has always grown hand in hand from the very beginning, when I first learned to write. This blog writing opportunity has melded the two interests most perfectly.

I see this dual interest (art & writing) growing in my own daughter as well (she loves writing, already – at 4 1/2). Her drawings are always accompanied with words (real and made-up). This makes me pretty happy!