Monday, 25 May 2015

Nurturing creativity

Hello again my lovely readers, I'm here today to discuss art with you. Not just art, but kids art. This is a subject which is really important for me, because art plays a huge part in our lives. I'm sure this isn't unusual, who doesn't love seeing walls filled with beautiful pictures? It just happens that most of the art that decorates our walls was made by someone who still can't cross the road without someone holding their hand.

Now I personally have no talent when you give me a pencil or a paintbrush. I've dabbled in the past, but one of my largest regrets is that I don't have whatever it is that artists are born with that makes them great. It stung even more when I was a teenager because my best friend in high school had that natural ability, and I would spend hours just watching her scratch at a piece of paper, and end up creating something amazing. One of her murals is still being used to decorate a telegraph pole not far from my home, and I'm always proud to be able to say I know the person who created something so beautiful at the young age of 17. My friend has also been lucky enough to turn her talent into a career for herself, so she gets to spend every day making beauty. What more could a person ask for?

One of my wishes for Miss K is the ability to create such beauty. I know natural talent is something you can't force, but you can encourage and nurture even the smallest glimmer of ability, to help turn it into something amazing. Which is why Miss K picked up her first paintbrush at the tender age of 5 months.
An artist in the making, complete with paint smudges on the face.

I've always encouraged Miss K to love art, and to this day it's one of the only times I can get her to sit still for more than 2 minutes at a time. One of her favourite pastimes is when I help her discover a new way to create pictures. She's done marbling, worked with washi tape, made collages out of leaves and sticks, and has a collection of pens and pencils that any child would envy (with thanks in no small part to the amount of stationery mum brings home from work on a daily basis).  This love of creating has helped her greatly at kindergarten, and I'm always being sent home huge bundles of art projects that she's completed while I'm at work.

This is great for me, in several respects. Mainly because I get a record of what Miss K does while I'm off being an adult, but also because it shows me that art is just as important to Miss K's kindergarten teacher as it is to me. It's such an important part of Miss K's education I've already selected her future schools based on their attention to art education in relation to all other areas of their learning framework. 

Miss K's marble art still sits on our fridge.

Part of my desire to encourage her creativity comes from all the setbacks Miss K has had in her short four years. Developmentally she always seemed to be at a disadvantage, lagging 6 months behind every other child we ever saw. Giving her this outlet gave her a chance to just be like every other kid, even for just a few minutes. When she was drawing, it didn't matter that her eyesight wasn't brilliant, that she couldn't talk the way she was meant to, you wouldn't even know she had the attention span of a gnat when she sat down to draw. All that mattered was the making. It gave her a chance to feel pride, and accomplishment when she completed a picture. It also helped with her development. Learning how to hold a pencil gave her fine motor skills a healthy workout, teaching her how to name the parts of the body she had just drawn helped with her language skills, and her cognitive skills were improved too, which is super important. Art for children is an education in and of itself, and one where they don't even realise they are constantly learning. 

One of Miss K's most recent works of art tell me I made the right decision. One day we were slobbing around the house and mum gave her a giant art folio to scribble in. The week previously Miss K had been learning about the ocean in kindergarten, so she used the knowledge she had gained in her kindergarten class to draw me a picture of a shark.

Miss K's version of a shark. It kind of looks a bit like the Family Guy version of the shark from Jaws, but I love him anyway...

This was a major step for Miss K because before then, we had no idea whether she was gaining anything from her time at kindergarten, because she is so tight lipped about what goes on when I'm not around. But for the first time she wanted to share part of her that I never get to see, and she did it with art. As you can see that picture has pride of place on a wall in our lounge room, and every time I look at it I smile. It's still definitely a drawing done by a four year old, and I bet if I hadn't told you it was a shark you'd guess a slug or just random scribbles, but knowing this little girl as I do, I can see a perfect little shark right there on my wall. 

And I think that is the most important part of art, for me anyway. A lot of people don't realise this, but art is a form of communication not unlike music. You take your heart and soul and pour it onto a canvas, or a piece of paper, and you are left with a permanent record of yourself. You may have drawn a tree, or a person, or written a song about a hamburger, but there is always a little piece of you in everything you create. For someone like Miss K who still struggles to put most of her thoughts into words, this is an absolutely vital outlet. We've used drawings to help discover her feelings, find out what's making her happy, what's making her grumpy, and I've even used it to let her know when I'm happy or grumpy. We've fought through art, we've laughed through art, and we've grown closer through art, which sounds incredibly crunchy but I swear it's the truth. 

This post has been brought to you today in collaboration with Invaluable Invaluable is an advocate of all forms of art, whether it be classic fine art or youth paintings.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

May Fly on the Wall - Oh the Insanity

Welcome one and all to another installment of Fly on the Wall. The series where you get to find out what it would be like to be a fly on the walls in 17 blogger's homes. Below is a list of all the other bloggers participating this month. Be sure to visit them all to see even more craziness than I'm about to present to you.                   Baking In A Tornado                 Spatulas on Parade                  Follow me home                      Menopausal Mother           Stacy Sews and Schools                         Battered Hope                           Just A Little Nutty                                      The Momisodes                   Someone Else’s Genius                             Disneyland in Kentucky                                 Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                     Juicebox Confession         Eileen’s Perpetually Busy                    Southern Belle Charm                              Sanity Waiting to Happen People Don’t Eat Enough Fudge

Discussing a bag of melted chocolate malt balls with mum

Mum: It's all melted together. It's going to turn into...what's his name? Gorilla.
Me: Gorilla?
Mum: No, gorilla's not right, I mean Godzilla.

Mum to Miss K
That's not an answer, it's a nod. In a cup.

Me: I got spanked by a tram :(
Side note I actually did get hit by a slow moving tram, while trying to cross a road. Don't worry I wasn't hurt, he hit me in the caboose, so the extra padding there kept me safe.

Mum: So what is whole foods, other than not halved foods?

Sympathy from mum always makes a situation better. Too bad I never get any...

Miss K made a vase for me for Mother's Day, but it was meant to be a surprise. This conversation happened after watching a kids show where the presenter made a vase out of a plastic bottle.
Me: I love that vase, it's so pretty. Someone should make me a vase so I have somewhere pretty to put flowers...
Miss K: No, I'll just sit here, you make your own vase.

Miss K and I were lying in bed one morning waiting for the alarm to go off when this conversation happened.
Miss K: I'm going to be mum. Miss K, go back to sleep.
Me: No, I want a drink and bikky
Miss K: Here have Elmo. Now shush, I'm trying to sleep. (I don't know whether to be offended or impressed that she nailed it so perfectly)

Me: Look at that idiot speeding through a car park. Don't these things have speed limits?
Mum: Sometimes, but it's hard to enforce because they're private property and not roads.
Me: Could I make a citizen's arrest?
Mum: You're welcome to try.
Me: I've always wanted to make a citizen's arrest. Maybe it should go on my bucket list. Right after star in a music video.

An ad for Magic Mike XXL came on telly one night. This is the conversation that happened after.
Mum: Magic Mike 21? What?
Me: Did you seriously just read that as a roman numeral?
Mum: Well what does it mean then?
Me: It means extra, extra large.
Mum: Oh yeah. L isn't even the roman numeral for one...

My breasts have a mind of their own. And the ability to use technology.

Miss K and I went to visit my best friend for the afternoon this month. This conversation isn't even one of the most awkward ones we've had in his presence.
Miss K: Can I take my pants off please?
Me: No, leave them on, we're not at home right now.
Miss K: I'm going to take them off...
Me: For God's sake Miss K put those pants back on right now.

During that same visit, my best friend fell asleep on the couch. This happens on occasion, and it gives me the perfect opportunity to mess with Miss K, and wake him up at the same time.
Miss K: Mum, Frankie's asleep.
Me: Is he? Awesome, I'm going to give him a wet willy
Miss K: No, don't.
Me: Well then, I'm going to give him a noogie.
Miss K: NO!
Me: Well can I give him a wedgie then?
Miss K: Mum, just stop!
Me: That's it, I'm gonna do it.
No one can sleep through an air raid siren.

So one of Miss K's many speech impediments means she can't say the word very. It always comes out as hairy, no matter how much I correct her. So I decided to have some fun one day.

Me: Miss K, can you say very balls?
Miss K: Hairy balls.
Me: Good girl. Now go tell grandma very balls.
20 seconds later I hear mum laughing in the kitchen before telling me off.

Miss K was throwing a tantrum in the back yard last week, and she started to walk stiff legged while ranting.
Me: What's wrong with your legs?
Miss K: They're boring.

This is why my dad no longer discusses cars with me. I can never take the conversation seriously.

And the winner for the weirdest sentence I have heard all month:-

Ben to Nat: You like penis because your nose is really smooth right now.

And now for some context, he was discussing Auslan, where the sign for penis is a downward stroke of the nose. Why Nat's nose was smooth never was explained to me, so even with context that is still a weird sentence.

Well that's about all the crazy I can fit into one blog post, be sure to visit everyone else and enjoy the show.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

May Use your Words - The Fussiest of them All

Hello again people, it's time for another installment of Use Your Words! For any of you who are unfamiliar with this series, 15 brave bloggers have swapped words with each other. Our task is to make a post out of the words we are given. Today we are simultaneously publishing what we've all come up with. Below is a list of all the other bloggers participating, so be sure to visit them all.            Baking In A Tornado          Spatulas on Parade        The Bergham’s Life Chronicles                              The Momisodes   Stacy Sews and Schools                  Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Eileen’s Perpetually Busy                  Battered Hope            Southern Belle Charm           Someone Else’s Genius                 Confessions of a part-time working mom            Climaxed    Evil Joy Speaks                             Disneyland in Kentucky

So today the words I must use are angel ~ levitate ~ unicorn ~ proud ~ portion and they were given to me by the wonderful Jules over at The Bergham's Life Chronicles.

So for any of you who have had to deal with the finicky tastes of a pre-schooler, you'll understand today's post. My lovely four year old daughter is without a doubt one of the fussiest eaters I have ever met. I know kids are famous for their suspicion of any food that isn't deep fried and packed full of sugar and preservatives, but I always hoped my kids would be different. I might as well have hoped to give birth to a unicorn...

The list of foods Miss K won't eat includes but isn't limited to peas, meat of any kind that isn't a hot dog, carrots, dim sims, soup, beans, pumpkin, potato unless it's chips from a take away store (and don't bother trying to tell her that chips are made from potatoes, she knows you're lying). pears, strawberries, yoghurt with lumps of fruit in it, anything with lumps in it really, fish, baked beans, pizza, the list just goes on and on. I have struggled with Miss K's eating habits ever since she was a baby. She took to pureed foods like a champion, and I always though we'd just breeze through the whole introducing solids thing, until it came to introducing slightly chunky foods, then we hit our first stumbling block. It has all been downhill from there and every new food I try to introduce is a massive battle. 

Of course I can't lump all the blame on Miss K for this one, I'm not proud to admit it, but when faced with the choice of having to don full armor every meal time, or giving in to the screaming child, I have on occasion just thrown up my hands and let her eat jam sandwiches for the sake of my own ear drums, so I'm as much to blame for this fussiness, and the problems that come with it. 

As you can imagine, this pickiness affects every part of life imaginable. Eating out at restaurants is a nightmare, because unless they serve a kids portion of chips, she just won't eat. Then there are the issues a limited diet causes a person's body. Without going into too many gross and horrifying details I've had to google impacted poo before, and it wasn't just for the lolz. I was beginning to think that it would be easier to learn how to levitate than get my little miss to eat anything even remotely healthy. 

So recently I've decided it's time to tackle this problem head on. Miss K and I sat down and had a good talk about the issues we are having at the moment, and I explained how she needed to start experimenting with new, healthier foods for the sake of her own digestive system, as well as my sanity. I've started giving her a horrible looking potion we call "poo juice" which is really just watered down prune juice, which I occasionally mix paraffin oil into (giving it a look totally befitting its name) and she loves it. She begs me daily for more poo juice. But the drink on its own wasn't going to cut it, she had to start learning to eat better, and this week it seems we've turned a corner.

The first night we started trying new foods she ate tomato. The second night she ate roast beef AND squash, and tonight she ate cauliflower soup. I could swear I heard an angel choir singing at dinner time every night this week, and the relief is so immense I feel like I'm about 100 pounds lighter. I know this doesn't mean that all our problems are instantly solved, and if my googling has shown me anything, we've still got a loooong way to go before every problem fussy eating (and a lazy mum) have piled on us are gone, but we've made huge steps in the last week, so armed with a disgustingly named magic drink, and a slightly more willing child, I feel this is just another of those mum jobs I'm finally learning to tackle. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

May Secret Subject Swap - the eternal struggle

Welcome one and all to the May Secret Subject Swap.  This week 16 brave bloggers have swapped subjects with one another, and today we are all revealing what we wrote.

Secret Subject Swap

Below are links to all the other bloggers participating today. Be sure to visit them all and see what they have written.        Baking In A Tornado    The Bergham’s Life Chronicles       Spatulas on Parade                     Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                           The Momisodes                Sparkly Poetic Weirdo                  Disneyland in Kentucky         Southern Belle Charm                          The Lieber Family        Someone Else’s Genius Confessions of a part-time working mom               Battered Hope                Small Talk Mama

So today my subject is: Everyone has their own struggles and battles. While each person's experience is unique, the types of battles are often similar e.g. the same physical illness, depression, losing a parent or child, losing a job, divorce, etc. If you were selected to give a speech to a group of people with a struggle similar to yours, what struggle would you discuss? What would you say? 
And it was submitted by the wonderful Jenniy over at Climaxed

We all have struggles. Some days are nothing but a struggle. I wrote this during one giant day of struggles, all the time wondering how in the heck I was going to get up tomorrow morning and do the exact same thing again. Sometimes the list of struggles is endless. And some days the list seems so small and manageable you wonder why you were so stressed last week facing the same hurdles. It seems impossible to rate all my struggles, to give them an order from most to least easy to deal with, but I guess that's why they call them struggles, and not mild inconveniences. That's a whole other list.

I can't say this is my biggest struggle, nor can I say it's my smallest, but one thing that comes to my head when people ask what do you struggle with? is juggling. And before you ask, no I'm not a wannabe circus clown, I'm just a person with too many fingers in too many pies. And one of these days I just know one of those pies is going to blow up in my face. I happen to be a lot of people. I'm a secretary, a teacher, a writer, a mum, a sister, a daughter, a friend, an ex, and a font of useless knowledge just to name a few. All of these people live in a delicate ecosystem and prop each other up. But it takes just one slight breeze to send the whole house of cards toppling over. And it's always the ones I love the most who suffer. And the guilt that brings out in me is almost a physical pain.

Right now I am sitting in a room full of fallen cards. I'd say that my most important job, and the one that gives me the most joy is that of motherhood. But when you've got so many other duties to complete on any given day, something's gotta give, and more often than not it's my parental responsibilities that I fall short on. I'm not saying I'm a bad mum, maybe a lazy one, but I always have the best intentions in my heart, even if I always seem to come up lacking. It's easier to have a piece of fruit for lunch than try to actually think about coming up with fresh, nutritious ideas for meals to feed a finicky four year old. It's easier to keep silent when my little one forgets to brush her teeth before bed rather than remind her that she's forgotten a step in her nightly routine and have to spend an extra five minutes on getting her to bed. It's easier to give in to a screaming pre-schooler and give her an extra biscuit rather than lecture her once again about the importance of a healthy diet, and be a horrible person yet again. It may seem that all of these things on their own are tiny infractions, that wouldn't hurt anyone, but they build up quickly and before you know it you're lying in bed crossing off sin after sin and kicking yourself for being such a terrible person.

So how do you fix this? How do you fix being an imperfect person in an imperfect world? Is there an answer to this question? To be perfectly honest I have no idea. I'm still searching for it. I know none of us have all the answers, and some days we have none of them, but all we can do is get up each morning and try again. Resolve to be a better person, to not take short cuts, to do the hard work, simply because it must be done. It sounds incredibly boring, and trust me, it can be sometimes, but it's a necessary monotony, and one we must all do, simply so that the very threads of our world don't unravel entirely. I'm sad to say I can't tell you how to fix your own struggles, simply because I'm having enough trouble fixing my own right now. But I'm trying. Each and every day I try to do better, even when I fail so fantastically I deserve my own made for TV movie about being the worlds largest screw up. And that's all any of us can do. So hold your heads up high, and be embrace your struggles, because each and every one of them will make you a better person one day.

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