Showing posts with label My musings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My musings. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

7 Tips for Taking Preschoolers to the Art Museum

Ever take your children to the art museum?  A couple weeks ago my friend and I brought our 3 preschool boys to our local art museum.  Can I admit something to you?  I was kinda  SUPER nervous about how it would go.  Three active boys walking around a building of beautiful, priceless, breakable artwork?  What could go wrong?  (Ha!)

Pre-mom years, I loved  visiting art museums with my husband.  But once I had Chuck... I put aside those visits because of my fears.  But oh, how I love looking at beautiful things.... and oh, how I love making art and crafts with my son.  Now that he's a bit older I figured it was time to give it a try.  So I asked for suggestions on FB... and we bravely visited the art museum with our 3 very active and curious kids.

Guess what?

It went pretty well!  We had fun and the art stayed unharmed!  Huzzah!  So here's a post detailing 7 things that we did to make our art museum experience more enjoyable (and educational) for the kiddos.

7 Tips for Taking Preschoolers to the Art Museum

7 Tips for Bringing Preschoolers to the Art Museum

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

(Hey! Who's that boy in the photo?  Not Chuck. It's one of our friends!)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What's up? Happy Handmade- A Joint Craft eBook Adventure!

Hi everyone!  I don't usually post on Saturday but I'm posting today because I'm feeling super excited and super nervous about next week.  (Isn't it funny how those two feelings often seem to go together?)  

Around this time last year, I shared my now-not-so-secret dream of being a professional crafter.  Re-reading that post, I wish I could go back in time to hug my old-self, and tell her that I'm proud of her for taking a step in a new direction.

Throughout 2014, I took several steps towards making that dream a reality.  I pushed my super shy self to join a couple of really supportive kid blogger groups (like Kid Blogger NetworkRockin Art Moms , and the Creative Preschool Collaborators.) I dipped my toes into the super scary (and still, completely confusing) world of blog advertising and sponsorship.  And, I also got the opportunity to do some freelance craft work for wonderful sites like Handmade CharlotteMollyMoo Crafts, and DIY Candy.

You're probably wondering now- Leslie, was it worth it?  Are you raking in the big bucks?  Well, yes.  I'm glad that I took those initial steps.  And no, I'm definitely not making big bucks.  But, I do make some grocery money and I really appreciate the opportunities that come my way.

And that's what I wanted to share with you today- one of these opportunities.  (Sorry for the rambly intro, but I felt so nostalgic after re-reading my posts from 2014 that I had to say something first...)

I recently had the opportunity to join with 17 other kid-craft-loving moms to put together Happy Handmade- a beautiful, unique and fun ebook showcasing 115 pages of crafts to make with and for kids!  

Happy Handmade Kids Craft ebook!

I'll be sharing more about the ebook and how you can purchase it on the blog this Tuesday, January 20th.  But I just wanted to just write something about it today because there are just so many lovely and unique ideas inside.  And my heart feels like it's bursting open because I'm so proud of all the work that went into it.    

Ok.  That's all friends.  Thank you for stopping by and thank you for all of your support.

And before you go, here's a sneak peak at some of the crafts inside...
*Insert happy sigh here*

happy handmade joint craft ebook inside sneak peak

  Hope you have a wonderful rest of the weekend, friends!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Maple Syrup Candy + Craft Fail book review!

Now that the weather is a bit chillier, I thought it would be fun to do more fall and winter crafts and activities.  I loved reading the Little House on the Prairie series as a child and always wanted to try doing the things Laura did.  Last year, we made homemade butter from heavy cream.  This year, we tried our hand at making homemade maple syrup candy!

Let's Make Homemade Maple Syrup Candy!

(using snow-- ooh la la)

Make maple syrup candy using snow and maple syrup! (Great Fall and winter activity for the kids)
This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Faith, Generosity, and a Cardboard Pumpkin Face

Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!

You're probably confused by the title... and I apologize.  Today's post is quite special to me and I just wanted to make sure everything important was included.

Now if you've peeked over at my About Me page, you'll see that my Christian faith means quite a bit to me.  It shapes how I view the world, pulled me out of a tough spot when I quit my PhD program, and even influences how I view creativity and crafting.

My friend Amy Sullivan (who you might remember was the mastermind behind the #riskrejection challenge that encouraged me to publicly "come out my crafting closet")  recently wrote a book When More is Not Enough - How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need.

I received a copy of this book to review... and I was pretty nervous.  A whole book focused on being generous and serving others like Jesus? Ehhh...  I worried that I'd finish the book feeling super guilty because my family and I weren't doing enough.

After reading the very first page, I saw how wrong my fears were.

Amy is honest, funny, and humble.  She shares her own family's struggles with generosity, and how God slowly changed their views of service.  She also offers some really great ways the whole family (including the kids!) can serve and love their communities and the world.

You can check out this video book blurb below for more details:

(Psst- Did you catch how she's donating 100% of the proceeds of the book to Transformation Village ?  Wow.)

After reading her book I felt really encouraged to rethink my views on service and generosity too.  I didn't need to be a missionary or the president of a non-profit to make an impact and help out my community.  I could do small things with love.

And now here's where the pumpkin face comes in.  I initially made Chuck this changeable cardboard pumpkin face (inspired by Halloween and this face from Mr. Printables) as a way to help him learn about his emotions.

Make a changeable cardboard pumpkin face to help teach children about feelings and empathy

See how the facial features change?  As we played with the toy, Chuck began relating to the pumpkin as his friend.  It kind of took on a life of its own.  We talked about how Mr. Pumpkin looked sad, happy, surprised, or scared.  We then also starting having conversations about how we could help friends that might be scared or upset.

And that's when a light bulb went on in my head.  These small, everyday conversations were also equipping Chuck to have compassion for others... and do small things with love.  Chuck's only 3, but he too can have compassion and serve others too.

Whoa.  That was definitely a "wow" moment for me.

Changeable faces from a DIY Cardboard Pumpkin

So if you have a chance, I definitely recommend you reading Amy's book When More is Not Enough.   You can read her thoughts on writing a book, or find her on her blogTwitterFacebookInstagram or Pinterest.  

(And in case you want to make your own changeable pumpkin face, simply cut out the facial features and pumpkin from corrugated cardboard.  Then, paint them.  Then, drill holes through the pieces and use fasteners to attach everything together.)

Happy Monday friends!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

hello, Wonderful: Maker Mom Interview

hello, Wonderful Maker Mom Interview

Quick question:

If you were stuck on a desert island with the kids, what crafting materials would you absolutely need to have?

Go on, I'll wait.  *Twiddles thumbs.*

Why do I ask?  Well, a couple of weeks ago I had the privilege to be interviewed by Agnes from the lovely website hello, Wonderful.  (It's a great place to find all sorts of lovely kid activities and inspiration.) One of my interview questions was the one above.  Curious about my answer?  Head on over and read my responses here.

And of course, I wish all my American readers a Happy Fourth of July!  Hopefully your fireworks won't be rained out (boo!) and you'll have a great time hanging out with family and/or friends.  I'm actually going to be travelling this weekend to Baltimore to visit some East Coast friends before we make our epic move across country in a couple of weeks.

See you on Monday!

Friday, June 20, 2014

#riskrejection- Confessions of a Kids' Craft Blogger

A couple of months ago, a friend shared some of my blog posts with her sister who has kids.  After seeing some of my posts, her sister said something along these lines... "Wow.  She makes me feel like a bad mom because I don't do those things with my kids."


Now, I think her sister was only half joking... but still, the comment dug in deep and hit me hard.  I started this blog as a way to document all of the fun and crapty ways that I keep myself (and now, my son) entertained.  And I've kept this blog going for because I want to keep creating things... and hopefully inspire other parents and kids to create things too.

In no way did I ever want to make someone feel bad about themselves...

So today's post is an honest post.  Friends, hopefully I haven't made others feel that way.  Let me share some honest, kid craft blogger confessions with you...

1.  Ever notice how Chuck is always cute and smiley in photos?
Confession- I bribe my child to smile.  *Gasp* Yurp.  It's true.  I give Chuck a gummy snack to smile and laugh for photos.  Yes.  Gummy snacks... the sugary, non-organic, artificial color-laden kind.  It works every time and he enjoys working for this "fee." 

2.   Ever notice how the first photo of each post shows a lovely project laying on a clean, white background?
Confession- It's staged.  *Gasp*  It's true.  I take up "office" in Chuck's room, move around his toys, place my artwork and projects on a white board, and shoot like a million photos.... and end up using only one or two.  (Oh and btw- I also recently learned that images are considered more "pinnable" if they're vertical ones instead of horizontal ones... so I've been working on that too.) 

3.  Ever notice how my photos are nice and bright?
Confession- They are edited.  *Gasp*  Yes.  It's true.  I take photos in the morning (for the best light).  Then I edit them on free software like Picassa.  (And here's another confession- I even do this for many of my photos on my Instagram Feed too)

4.  Ever notice that I post a lot of craft posts every week?  Where do I get the time to do this stuff?
Confession- I'm a super hero and have the ability to stop time.

Just kidding!  I hate cleaning.  When Chuck is finally in bed, and I see a dirty bathroom/floor/kitchen/bedroom (take your pick) and an enticing list of craft ideas... the craft ideas win every time.  So if you ever come and visit our apartment... sorry for the dirty toilet and the giant dust bunnnies... let's make something together!

5.  Wow.  So many of my projects seem to work out so nicely and neatly....

  • 2/3 of my projects are "duds."  Ideas often don't work out (like my exploding dinosaur eggs) or activities just weren't very fun (like my DIY math game).   
  • I usually go through several iterations of more complicated projects to get a version that I like. 
  • Of the 1/3 "successful" projects, only about 1/2 of them ever make it to the blog.  The other ones are never posted because... (and I know this is superficial... but I'm being honest here)... the photos just aren't that great.  

And now that I've bared my kid crafter soul, I'll end with this post with couple of photos from our latest creative endeavor.  A couple of days ago Chuck and I had a TON of fun painting in our living room.  Here's a photo of our activity:

confessions of a kids' craft blogger

Yes.  this was in our living room.  Yes. We went a bit crazy.  He ended up painting his feet, hands, bubble wrap, a random tire, and some of his clothes green.  It was a good rainy, day, stuck-inside activity.   

And here are real* (and blurry) smiles from Chuck:
*No gummy treats were offered here

And here's our final artwork (made 100% by Chuck)

super awesome bright amazing pinnable image

Heh heh.  Isn't the image gorgeous?  Isn't it super pinnable?

Friend, this is what a lot of our artwork and projects end up looking like... 

So that's the end of my confession.  I'm just a regular mom, who hates cleaning, but loves making stuff (some good, some really not so good) with my regular kid (who is sometimes happy and smiley and agreeable... and sometimes not).

Thanks for joining me on this crafty and crapty adventure.

Linking up with other ladies who are daring to be honest and risk rejection.


Friday, March 7, 2014

#2redfruitloops (and why social media stresses me out)

What should I give up for Lent?

This year for Lent I thought long and hard about what to give up.  Midnight snacking?  *Jiggles belly fat*  Yeah... that would probably be good.  Television?  Yeah, that would probably be a good choice too. 
But then I heard a bloggy friend saying that she was giving up social media and I thought... oooh, now we're onto something.

On wanting to be a kid blogger... and that pesky thief named Comparison

Last January I participated in something called #riskrejection, where a couple of bloggers and I shared how we were daring to take scary risks even if it meant getting rejected by others. That weekly challenge has now become a monthly one.  (If you'd like to participate in this month's, you can link your risks here.)

For my first risk, I shared my (now not-so-secret) desire to somehow make a career as a kids' craft blogger.  Since then, I dove into the huge social media ocean and

Yurp.  It's been great and I've learned a lot... but it's also been pretty overwhelming.

Both groups are made up of super talented, super hardworking, super social media saavy moms and I am  in awe of them...and honestly, supremely intimidated by them. 

I know I shouldn't compare, but it's hard not to.  Every time I look at my newsfeed or check my email I see how hard they've been working, how much they've created, and how many shares or likes their posts received... and  I get stressed out.

Blogging definitely becomes less fun when those pesky "What ifs" "Maybe I shoulds" or "Why am I nots" pop into my head.

Stepping back from Facebook and Page views

So for this month, I'm stepping back from social media, specifically Facebook.  I'm trying not to check every feed, comment, like, or update... and I'm also really trying hard to not worry about stats or pageviews.

It's going to be a battle till Easter, but boundaries are good right? 


Instead of obsessing, I'm going to try trusting that God somehow has a plan and a place for all of us... and I'm going to do something that makes me happy.... draw red fruit loop doodles!  I love seeing all the artists on Instagram who doodle scenes around real objects.  So I've challenged myself to draw doodles that include 2 red fruit loops in them. (Why red fruit loops?  Because they're yummy and they make me happy.)  So if you want to follow my red fruit loop journey, you can just find it on Instagram using #2redfruitloops.

 Here's my first doodle:
(I feel like that's me... always trying to see what the future holds...)

Whoa.  I've been reading for an hour... just how long is this post anyway?

Way too long, apparently.  Wow.  You're still here? High five.  I'm sorry for this long, long personal post, but I needed to take this risk, share what was on my heart, and let everything out.

Let's be brave and hopeful together friends, shall we?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why I'm thankful for all of my Craftgawker Rejections

This is the last week of our #RiskRejection series.  (New to the series?  About 20 or so bloggers have been bravely taking risks and sharing about them every Thursday on their blogs.)

So far, I've risked by
  • sharing that I'd like a career as a craft blogger 
  • sharing that I was overwhelmed by what it took to become a professional craft blogger
  • taking Chuck out sans diaper for the first time

This past week I've been reflecting about rejection quite a bit.  Specifically, I was thinking about being rejected by Craftgawker.   Have you heard about this site?  It's a lovely, curated compilation of crafts.  Crafters and artists submit their best project photos hoping that the site will showcase their work and send readers to their sites.  Craftgawker is EXTREMELY PICKY about the photos they accept.  Only bright and beautiful photos are showcased. 

My first submission to the site was this fortune cookie advent calendar photo...

It  was rejected and I was crushed.  I may have cried.... I'm not sure, but I definitely remember eating carbs to cheer myself up.  

Yup, I was really hurt.  I'd like to say that all of my following submissions were accepted... but I'd be lying.  Out of my approximately 80 submissions, only about 40 were accepted.  Yup, I have a 50% acceptance rate.  Pretty poor right?  But, you know what? 

I'm really REALLY thankful for those rejections.  They pushed me to take better photos.

You see, every time I received a rejection, I also received a reason for the rejection.  Maybe my lighting was too dull, or my composition was too tight, or I had white balance issues. 

When I first started blogging, I would have had no idea what they were talking about.  I took photos like a cave person.  "Ooh, ooh.  Me click button.  Magic picture on screen.  Me got whole face in picture and eyes are open.  Me likey."

Now I'm able to decipher those terms.  I look at white balance and composition.  I'm learning how to take brighter photos at night time.

Here's a photo of my latest submission (Ice Bird Feeder Craf):

Can you see the difference between these two photographs?  I can.

That's why I'm really REALLY thankful for all my Craftgawker rejections.  Rejection stings, no question about that.  But each one pushes me to become a better photographer and a more resilient and determined blogger.

(By the way, if you've ever felt frustrated by Craftgawker, check out this post  from Dream a Little Bigger.  Allison offers helpful and easy-to-follow insight on how to improve your photos.)

 So even though our #RiskRejection month is over, let's continue to be brave and risk together, dear friends!

Friday, January 24, 2014

My Scarlet Letter and Taking hazy plastic bag photos

A couple of days ago, Chuck and I went to Target and I was super nervous. (Like armpit sweat nervous.) For the past week and a half, we had a breakthrough in potty training.  He was telling me when he needed to use the bathroom.  (Finally!  Yes!  Insert choir of angels.)  But, I was still putting him in pullups when we went out.  I was afraid that he would have an accident outside.  

But since we're on week 3 of Amy's #RiskRejection challenge (where bloggers embrace risk even if it involves getting rejected), I felt emboldened.  If other ladies could risk big and start businesses and non-profits, apply to become foster parents, write books, and move to other states and countries, then certainly Chuck could wear underwear outside.   

So Chuck and I both put on our big kid pants and went to Target sans pullups.  In the beginning, everything seemed was fine.  I kept reminding him to let me know when he needed to potty and he said that he would. 

But then we entered the toy section... that terrible black hole in the store where logic and reason escape and wails and tears (Mom's silent ones and children's vocal ones) are heard in every aisle.  We got to the Cars section and Chuck hopped out, super excited.

And then he peed.  


It was just a tiny accident, but I still felt so bad.  We cleaned up in the bathroom and then I told the workers.  I expected to see a smirk, a roll of the eyes, a shaking of the head, or the accusation of "Bad Mommy!  Now you have to wear the scarlet P!"  But none of this happened.

They were actually... nice about the whole thing.  Within a couple of minutes everything was cleaned up and no one was the wiser.

I was hesitant to share this risk as part of my #RiskRejection Challenge because I wasn't moving mountains.  My risk was small.  But maybe that's ok?  Maybe taking small risks like this one will still mold me to be a better, braver person and mom.

Psst- If you want to see how I took this hazy photo, keep on reading!

Friday, January 17, 2014

I took the risk... so now what?

Last Thursday, I shared with you my secret, well now not-so-secret dream to make a career as a craft blogger.  Today I just wanted to briefly share what's been happening since then...  

Ehh... a lot of hard work.
End of post.

Image by Marc Johns, found here
What, you're still here?  Ok, ok, maybe I was kind of vague.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Risking Rejection.... while wearing sparkly tights

Eeek!  My legs... for all the world to see....

Today's post is a departure from my normal craft/diy posts.  Now, if you just want to see how I made these sparkly tights, scroll directly to the bottom of the post.  But if you want to read about a neat, new Thursday blogging series and a bunch of courageous gals, read on!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hide it close to your heart

Disappointments.  Fears.  Worries about the future.  Problems with a second pregnancy.  A break-up.  Struggles with job-hunting.  Illegal residency.  A  child with learning disabilities.

While hearing about friends' and family members' struggles, this quote kept popping into my head:

It's true, right?  Life is beautiful, but it is also brutal.  I'm going to hide the quote close to my heart, and pull it out whenever I feel myself getting grumpy at someone or feeling too shy around strangers.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I can't believe I...

recently created an official Pink Stripey Socks Facebook page for my blog.

This was a pretty big deal for me.  You're probably thinking "Who cares? It's no big deal.  Everybody uses social media nowadays."

Urm... well... confession time- you're talking to the girl who's been hiding under a technology rock for the past couple of years.  I don't twit tweet.  I just got a personal Facebook page last October.  (I know, I know.)  And since we're airing dirty little secrets, I might as well let you know that I don't own a smart phone   or a texting plan.

I know.  *Gasp*  I'm a technological dinosaur.  Rawr!

But ever since I chose the word "try" as my word of the year, I figured I should try this newfangled social media thing out.  I really love blogging and crafting, so this seems like a nice way to connect with others and grow as a blogger.  I'm not going to lie.  I'm still nervous about creating the Facebook page because it means that I'm putting myself out there and I'm taking this whole blogging thing more seriously.  Will everything just end up blowing up in my face?  I don't know.  Not sure.  Hopefully not.  But I just have to try and see where this adventure leads.

Does this mean that you'll soon see me twittering twitting  tweeting?  Urm, probably not.  (Those hash tags really scare me.)  Or, does it mean that I'll start texting and get a data plan?  lol! omg no way :)   Baby steps, my friend, baby steps.

And since we're nearing the end of this post, I just wanted to upload this cactus doodle because seeing faces on cacti just makes me smile.

(Psst- Special thanks to Kira at Her New Leaf blog for providing lovely free social media buttons and clear, easy-to-follow instructions.  They were perfect for a techno-phobe like me.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My discarded bits

While chopping up the fruit and veg for last Sunday's salsa and guacamole, I was struck by how beautiful my discarded bits were.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

One word: Try

This year, instead of coming up with a list of New Year's resolutions that I will undoubtedly forget by March, I'm participating in the One Word 365 challenge.   This challenge asks people to choose one word that "sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.  One word that you can focus on every day, all year long."

I first heard about this challenge from my friend Lisa, who chose the word "kneel." She beautifully describes how she wants to "kneel in prayer, kneel before God as a broken person, kneel before others with my heart wide open, kneel in service to those in touch of love and kindness, kneel before my writing to encourage others and encourage justice."

Gosh, just reading her words send shivers through me.

After a lot of thinking, I'm choosing the word "try."  I don't want to live this year wishing for things to happen or hiding from life because I'm too afraid to fail.  This year I'm going to push myself to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

So, here's to trying, failing, and living.

*Gulp* We'll see how this all works out.  Life suddenly feels very exciting and a scary all at the same time.

Would you like to join me in this One Word challenge?  If you could choose one word to influence your life for an entire year, what would it be?  Why?

(Keep me accountable, ok?)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mommy date

A couple of days ago I went on my first date in New Jersey... my first mommy date that is.  Another mommy and I planned to go out for lunch by ourselves (without the kids!) and I was kind of a nervous wreck.  I felt like a pimply faced boy going on his first unchaperoned date.

As I got ready, a whole slew of questions popped into my head.  Some questions were a bit easier to answer...

What do normal women wear when they go out?
Is this shirt too dirty to wear out?
Do I have time to wash my hair?
How should I do my hair?  
Will I look like I'm trying too hard if I paint my nails?

And others questions pointed at deeper worries...
What if I'm too boring?
What if I have nothing to say?
What if I forgot how to just be... me?

Hubby was really sweet and gave me a good pre-date pep talk.  He also helped me to pick out an outfit.

And  look, I even wore an accessory!

We ended up going to a nearby restaurant and having a really fun time.  
Sometimes it's nice just being me... instead of mommy-me.

Oh yeah, in case you're wondering- here's a picture of my hot mommy date.  :) I look forward to going out with her again soon.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Graham Cracker Houses

Hubby and I have been still thinking about Sandy Hook.  This past weekend, we struggled with whether we should still hold our gingerbread house making party.  At first it felt kind of wrong.  Hold a party to make small houses out of crackers and candy?  Were we being too frivolous?  Was it ok to have fun while others grieved?

In the end, we still held the party.  And you know what?  I'm really glad we did.

Two gal pals came over and we spent the night eating, talking, and building.  We shared what was happening in our lives.  We listened a lot and laughed even more.

*Sigh* What happened in Connecticut was really really horrible.  But maybe this was our small way of battling the darkness.  Where one candle glows, darkness cannot win.  That night, I imagined our small apartment glowing with good friendship and love.

And doesn't the world need a little more of that right now?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Look for the helpers

Hubby and I are just trying to process what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.  We're in shock about how someone could murder so many people... but we're also touched by the staff's amazing bravery and sacrifice. 

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'  To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers- so many caring people in this world."  ~ Mr. Rogers

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guest Post at About Proximity

Today I'm writing a guest post on my friend Lisa's blog, About Proximity.  Lisa and I met in Michigan and she's seriously one of the warmest and kindest people I've ever met.  Because of her openness to share about her faith and life, I felt that her blog was the perfect place to share about my decision to quit my PhD program.

Click here to read my guest post.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bottled smiles and laughter

If I could, I would bottle up all of Baby Chuck's smiles and laughter and keep them in my pocket.  Then, whenever I met someone who was sad or going through tough times, I'd hand them the bottle and have them take the goodness in.