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All children must come with genetic encoding for spouting the phrase, "Are we there yet?"  My going on three-year-old sung out this question like he was caroling "99 bottles of pop on the wall" as his soundtrack for our last road trip.  Sitting still in a car seems to be as trying for a child as it is for a parent to hear how tough it is for the kids in the back of the wagon.  Yet, traveling does require some time strapped in our seats, so what can we all do to improve our time in close quarters?  My family offers our top ten list for passing travel time:  1.)  Pull out Your Naked Sock Puppet;  2. ) Dump out Mommy's Purse;  3.)  Play I Spy and other Window Watching Games; 4. ) Songs and Stories; 5.)  Turn Paper Scraps into Games; 6.)  Munch on Road Trip Food; 7.)  Switch Things Up; 8.)  Stop!!  9.)  Lap Games and Hand Work; and 10.)  Sleeping Short Cuts

1.  Pull Out Your Naked Sock Puppet
When Bryles decides he can't take another minute in his car seat, up pops my naked sock puppet.  Yes, you'll say that desperation has rendered me rather nutty, but how is your brain when your kids are decrying their misery in a mind numbing chant?   I pretend that a puppet is on my bare hand, ducking behind my front passenger seat and using the headrest as my stage.  My silly sock puppet doesn't realize his clothes are gone, and he likes to sing although he often hits sour notes and must apologize.  Bryles cracks up over this one, and often pulls out his own naked sock puppet to join in the performance.

If that gets old, I quickly search the car for other props to divert his attention.  Recently we tied a piece of yarn from my handwork basket around his bear's stocking and began an impromptu game of "fish."  He giggled as he worked to cast his line of yarn, and expectantly waited for me to find something in the front seat for him to catch.  Suddenly that center console I never get to cleaning out came in very handy, as I pulled out random tidbits to surprise him with. 

Once, I could only find the roll of tissue and a hair tie as my diversion tools.  I quickly made a simple tissue angle who I named the "Snot Nose Fairy."  After introducing her to Bryles, I told him that she likes to hide so no one will try to blow their nose on her dress.  I made him close his eyes while I found different places to hide her (behind the sun visor, between the seats, in the seat belt dispenser), and then ask him to search for her.  These games usually get him smiling and distracted for at least twenty blissful minutes.

2. Dump out Mommy's Purse

If your car is too clean to have "props" in the front seat (NEVER the case in this mommy's car!!!), you can always resort to using the contents of your purse.  Bryles has a bottomless reservoir of curiosity for all things usually regaled as "mommy's."  Chapstick, keys, coins, old discount cards - it's a treasure trove for him.  While he gingerly fingers these items, I can also use the opportunity to clean out a few things - maybe the kitchen sink never made it into my purse, but just about everything else ends up stowed away in there!  Let your child have a moment feeling grown up, and see how quiet your car gets!

3. Play I Spy and other Window Watching Games

I grew up traveling in the back of a blue station wagon with my three brothers and my sister. While seat belt laws and even belts themselves were non-existent, we still found we felt cooped up and in need of pass times.  With at least two siblings always willing to play, we went through the whole list of window watching games.  Slug bug left us with bruises, but we learned our 50 states well as we searched for license plates from cars traveling across the nation.  "I Spy" or "Road Sign ABC" are fun too- even the littlest tykes can learn a few letters and search for them.  At just two, Bryles started shouting out "B for Bryles" pointing to billboards. 

For more ideas, check out this list of top ten games that require just your family's imagination (no little pieces, tools, or props!).

4. Songs and Stories

Inside the car, we found we could also generate our own fun.  As a kid I knew all kinds of clapping chants  such as "Miss Suzy had a Tugboat...."  My sister and I always liked that song as it came so close to saying so many bad words, but we also liked to sing "Say, Say Oh Playmate..." and others.   We'd also learned many a folk song crawling under my mother's feet while she played the piano, so all five kids could break into "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain" or "Michael Row your Boat Ashore" to tick the miles off the odometer.  

My mother comes from Southern story-telling roots, so she'd weave tales of her childhood while we drove.  I loved her stories of her brother's famous attempts to sell her his birthday.  Then their was her father's attempt to break her addiction to Coke-a-Cola by purchasing her an ice chest full of soda.  He wanted her to drink herself sick, but she counted it as the best day of her life.  Sometimes, the kids would take over the story telling, which gets really silly when you let one person start and others take over at different climatic points.  My sister would start off about a chocolate river, and my brothers might end with a goat eating troll.  The stories never quite made sense, but they always made us hysterical!

When the noise level in the car got tiresome, my parents always tried to get us to play the quiet game.  They'd time us to see how long we could go without speaking.  Of course, this usually inspired more goofing off (think boys blowing fart noises on their hands) and giggling.

Check out Mom's MiniVan page "This Trip Ain't Over Til Somebody Sings!"  for a great list of songs, campfire song books, and more!

5. Turn Paper Scraps into Games

My own creative mother orchestrated many interesting games through dumping out the paper scraps in her purse.  She knew how to make a cootie catcher, and she loved to get us started playing the dot game.  Hangman was another favorite, and I bet my parents loved that it helped us with our spelling!  One day, I even got the bright idea to turn paper scraps into dolls and their furniture.  For years, I'd ask my mom for a pen and paper scraps so I could make little couches and other odds and ends.  I often did this by tearing the paper as we didn't regularly totes scissors in the car.  Scarcity does spark creativity!

Check out, which  has great games for kids including the directions for how to make a cootie catcher!
6. Munch on Road Trip Food

I am normally something of a healthy food Nazi.  My husband and son have to give me puppy eyes for me to throw pretzels or other processed snacks into the shopping cart.  I also try to give them granola rather than granola bars and fruit rather than fruit rolls.   However, when traveling, I do throw these rules out the window.  The novelty of good road trip food goes really far for helping to keep everyone content - stomachs really are the pathway to most people's hearts!  We load up on nuts, fruit, Pirate's Booty, fruit rolls, yummy drinks, and even chips before we pile in the car.  When doldrums hit, we just open the next bag of treats.  Make sure you have a few extra special food items ready to distract your little one, and you can be sure to buy yourself a bit more peace!

7. Switch Things Up

The older I get, the less I find I can stand sitting in one place.  Unlike my child who just hates confinement, it is my backside that hates to get overused!  Still, we can both agree that switching positions, stretching, or making any kind of physical change can help.  We usually ride with parents up front and kid in back, but when nothing else seems to help Bryles survive the miles, I climb in back with him.  I give him a pillow - tucking one under my own behind - or blanket, and try to create some bodily comfort for him.  He likes to have me closer to him, and often asks me to wrap my arms around him so he can nod off to sleep. 
He also really likes to drive.  I am not a Brittany Spears, but he does get a thrill out of sitting on the driver's lap and driving a short distance down his grand parents' private, dusty road.  He also loves to pretend to drive while his daddy pumps gas.  These little role changes always seem to help him endure his position as backseat captee for a bit longer.

8. Stop!!

Sometimes, most all else fails. You and your kids simply need to stop the car and GET OUT!  Every parent tries to look for a park, grassy rest stop, gas station with bathroom or other place to get the family out to stretch, but sometimes we want to push through so much that we overlook frequent stops as a necessary measure for a happy car ride.  If stopping seems too frivolous and time consuming, try to make a double reason for stopping such as checkin the air in the tires or getting gas.  If its raining, and outdoor options aren't looking better than being trapped in the car, some of my friends make a rare stop at the conviently sheltered Burger King Playland. 

9. Lap Games and Hand Work

My personal favorite remedy for mommy car boredom is to bring myself a basket of projects.  When we made a five hour trip to go camping last week, I brought along the latest felt book I am crafting.  I managed to get two pages done, while putting on naked sock puppet shows and toting my toddler to gas station bathrooms every hour.

Bryles likes to do whatever I do, so I made sure to pack him a backpack of things to do as well.  We packed his cute little sack with his art roll (thanks again to Soule's Creative Family for that pattern and idea!) as well as a few other small toys.  Quite games played in his lap kept Bryles busy for short durations.
Some parents also pack magnet games, and other interactive things that can be played on a small lap.  Try this idea for sewing a tic tac toe game for your kids.

10. Sleeping Short Cuts

My husband's favorite car pass time revolves around convincing Bryles that if Bryles falls asleep his daddy will jump through a worm hole, thus creating an amazing short cut to our destination.  Does every dad try this trick?  Well, you can help support this by packing pillows, blankets, a favorite bear, and singing a lullaby to your little one.  I've rested my own head against the passenger seat's window a few times, and found we did seem to arrive more quickly.  I am half convinced that these worm holes do exist!

Try a few of these traditions for traveling, and share your family's secrets for getting there quickly!  Happy trails! 

I met a lovely woman, Shelly, at the farmer's market this morning who inspired me to write about the magic of homespun gifts.  We chatted about our joint passions for knitting and scrap booking as our kids ate fresh peaches and nectarines.  Shelly confessed that she is also an avid blog reader - particularly a blog by Wendy Bernard (Knit and Tonic) who is working to bring back home made gifts among a dissident circle of friends.  This mom found that many did not appreciate the gifts she crafted with love.  Shelly loves to read this blog to find her own encouragement for bestowing her knitted items or custom made greeting cards on friends.  She too finds that many don't appreciate the handmade!

How can it be that any gift could be perceived as better than one made through the talents and love of the gift giver?  I recently became inspired to make an interactive felt book for my best friend's daughter.  When I asked what Jasmine might enjoy for her first birthday, Nina shared that Jasmine is just reaching the exciting age of learning to use her hands to manipulate objects.  She thought Jasmine might like a puzzle or shape sorter.  However, another crafty mom friend shared that she'd had great fun making a simple felt book for a baby shower gift.  This reminded me of a lovely fabric and photo book Amanda Blake Soule features in her Creative Family book.  Suddenly light bulbs went off...  I decided to make a fabric book dedicated to Jasmine, her budding love for all things winged (you should see all the pictures of her wearing wings on her mother's Piccasa site!), and her growing coordination skills. 

My family is sticking to a strict budget lately, so I hit my sewing stashes in search of felt and other tid bits that I could work into the project.  With a hefty supply of photo transfer paper, just enough felt to make the squares I needed, and a bunch of odds and ends I found inspiring, I found I had plenty to work with.  I love to reclaim fabric, silk flowers, and other what nots for projects - all the less to end up in a landfill!

The book project requires many steps inlcuding planning, searching for photos, and much hand work.  It took me several days and many captured moments (riding in the car or stitching while watching Bryles ride his bike in the court) to complete all of the pages.  I relished the opportunity to put my heart into a gift for this girl I love.  It gave me an opportunity to focus on Jasmine, and to remind myself of her important role in my life as my best friend's daughter - this is a girl I hope to help mother in that "it takes a village" sense.  I also found myself thinking of the wonderful handmade gifts Nina bestowed on our family when my son was born.  Her kitchen made herb concoctions, hand knit wool booties, and flowers found there way to me at a time when I greatly needed support.  Making Jasmine's book became my opportunity to reciprocate through my own homespun way.   

While I stitched the pages, my son would often wander over and judge my efforts.  He'd say, "Can I hold Jasmine's book, Mommy?"  When I had enough pages completed, he'd sit on my lap and "practice" reading it by pretending to be one year old Jasmine.  He'd sniff the lavender pages, play peek-a-boo with the fern page, and talk about Jasmine all the while.  By the time we were ready to give Jasmine her gift, my son felt like he had a part in creating the gift too.  He happily showed her how to work the pages and "read" her the book's story.

I sincerely hope that Jasmine enjoyed this gift.  If at least bits of it suvive her toddler years and follow her through her childhood,  she'll know her "auntie" and "cousin" loved her.  If I am lucky, she'll be inspired enough to make such a gift for someone special in her life one day.  After all, it wasn't that long ago that handmade items were the norm and not the rarity!  Just look at this needle kit that Farmers Insurance used to give out to customers - as if everyone was home sewing in those days!  (Note the inclusion of a knife edged needle used for projects such as creating the binding for this felt book project.)  Here's to making a handmade and from the heart comeback!

Sono-Ma Karla Gormley requested a detailed "how to" on making a weekly meal plan for families that is both delicious and budget friendly. Annalyce la Source chimed in to say that she also can not figure out how to keep her weekly grocery bill under $170. Earlier this year, I spent one of my sessions with Miss Teapot (my crafty neighbor who is teaching me domestic arts) focusing on developing a weekly menu of items that would appeal to my whole family and my wallet.  Clearly this is a top issue for mammas!  Drawing from the real experts like Sally Fallon's author of Nourishing Traditions, Ellyn Satter of Child of Mine: Feeding With Love and Good Sense, and a few classic Waldorf traditions, I'll share how our family makes good eating a simultaneously yummy, frugal, AND nutritious art.

Here are my top four tips:  1.)  Appeal to the caveman within your husband!  2.)  Cater to your toddlers - at least a little bit.  3.)  Make it easy on mom. 4.)  Use the table as a family table - eating meals together can bring a family together!

Appeal to the caveman within your husband!  Many of my Sono-Ma friends confide that their hubby's tummy lies at the center of most meal planning dilemmas.  It seems that many guys have a hankering for meat, sweets, and food cooked the way mom made it - leaving little room for discussion around potential food changes or nutrition.  Getting the man of the house on board is essential - who can convince the kids to eat homemade mayo if daddy-o insists on Best Foods?  How do I keep Bryles out of the granola bar box when "Daddy's bars" hang around like forbidden fruit?  How do you get the kids to the table when daddy doesn't feel like eating at lunch time??    My secret is to put some of my guy's favorites front and center on the menu - including a huge hunk of meat at least once a week. 

I think nutritional guidelines only call for 4- 6 oz of protein for an average dinner, but try telling that my man who likes to order the 2 pound steak at Cattleman's!  Talking about cutting meat out or down from the dinner plate is a conversation killer, so I skipped talking about it and just started roasting chicken once a week.  We get a fresh Rocky Junior whole bird (.99 - 1.99 a pound at most local grocery stores such as Whole Foods Santa Rosa), stuff the cavity with thyme and pull out the rotisserie once a week.  If it is hot, we skip the rotisserie and put the food on the grill.  Either way, my husband takes charge of cooking and cutting the sizzling, savory meat, and his inner caveman can't help but grin. You should see his smile when he has his weekly drumstick in hand! 

We eat chicken and/or chicken broth as part of our meals for the next few days, satisfying his need for meat through lean poultry.  He starts to complain about wanting other meat right around Thursday most weeks, so I toss a few shrimp (5 per person) in the stir fy and remind him that we'll have salami (Applegate's preservative free all natural from Whole Foods) on our pizza on Friday.  After months of chicken, he'll start asking if we can put on a beef roast or London Broil, and I happily comply.  At least he is eating lean meat most of the time!  Once again, we choose a large cut of meat and make it last for a few meals.

Finding alternatives to packaged stuff is also a challenge I face with my husband - the trick is keeping quick, easy snacks on hand that he likes.  If we keep a stash of nuts and bananas, he is happy to forgo pretzels and granola bars.

Cater to your toddlers - at least a little bit.  Your next picky customer is likely your toddler.  If you can get into your husband's frame of mind with the caveman image, try thinking like a toddler for a minute.  Eating offers a whole world of new experiences in learning table manners, trying new textures and tastes, and learning patience, communication, and more!  Ellyn Satter does a wonderful job helping parents learn to navigate the family table with a toddler in the above mentioned Child of Mine.  Her book taught me a great deal of practical tips about enticing my child to eat.  First and foremost, Satter instructs us as parents to provide nutritious foods at routine times of the day.  Our job is to put good food on the table, and our kids job is to decide what to eat and how much.  While Satter says no parent should become a short order cook making separate dishes for children and older family members, she also says there are good strategies for making food more friendly for toddlers.   

I've found that my toddler likes his food to be served without a lot of mixing of ingredients.  I cater to this need for separated foods by giving him cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers in individualized piles, while these items top the salad older family members eat.  If I make a stir fry, I will cull out each vegetable and put it into unique piles next to his rice, whereas the rest of us eat it mixed together on top of our grains. 

Hands on opportunities add some fun to the toddler experience too.  Bryles prefers to use his fingers to eat carrots served with dip, rather than a fork to eat carrots topped with butter.  Dipping is so much fun for him, we actually offer him many foods, such as waffles and syrup or roasted potatoes and catsup, set up for dipping.  Other ways to let him use his hands include pulling out the chopsticks with rice once in a while.  Most importantly, I find that involving my little one in harvesting and preparing the food is the best way to get him to want to taste the food on his plate!  Bryles loves to help me paint olive oil on our Food for Life tortillas we bake on the pizza stone for our tostadas.  Get your little one in an apron and see what happens! 

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet DictocratsAnother important idea for moms is the fact that toddlers need salt and fat. Not only do these things add to the taste of food, they are essential for brain and other physical development.  Bryles devours steamed and salted broccoli dipped in homemade mayo. While many moms want to watch their waste line, this is not an area to skip for the little ones.  Nourishing Traditions also offers many outstanding arguments for all aged people to consume good fats and Celtic sea salt.  Read up and convince yourself that you deserve yummy tasting food too!

Make it easy on mom!  Planning and routine take the thinking out of the equation.  For a menu and weekly shopping list, click here.  Ellyn Satter recommends creating a menu that includes at least one dinner each week that is each family member's favorite.  Not everyone has to like all meals equally, but each person should get to feel especially satisfied by at least one meal.  Our family decided to follow the Waldorf tradition of creating a standard weekly menu to help simplify our lives and develop a rhythm we now all count on.  Scott gets his meat weekly, Bryles gets pasta, and I love it all, so we are all well satisfied with this routine.   (See Sample Weekly Menu below article.)

The recipes we use are generally throw together meals (a.k.a. they have no real recipes) and are extremely simple fare to prepare.  Nourishing Traditions is my cookbook bible, and I do flip it open when I want to review a recipe for lacto-fermented salsa or salad dressing.  This book also helped me learn how to soak grains to ensure they are easier to digest, as well as many other pointers on how to get more nutrition from my food.  We buy high quality items that need little preparing to taste fabulous, and keep our pantry stocked with what are now old standbys.  (See Keys to Stocking Nutritious Food in Your Pantry below.)

Using the Crockpot also comes in very handy!  Starting meals by throwing beans or bones in a pot hours before eating removes the stress of preparing a meal moments before the whole family has a hunger meltdown.  I love the sound of a bubbling pot, and ours is going most days of the week.  The same applies to using our freezer, so I take every opportunity I can to make large batches of items I can prepare ahead for future meals such as chopping a whole flat of peaches (you can buy the "seconds" for $5 a flat at the Farmer's Market from most vendors) and freezing bag fulls for smoothies.  I also make several jars of salsa when the mood strikes me, to keep that yummy snack or topping on hand.

Easy is important, but let's not forget the impact of simple fare on the budget!  Pinto beans, whole chickens, and lots of fruits and veggies don't cost all that much.  I just conferred with my last four receipts from Whole Foods, Oliver's and Trader Joe's and my average weekly expense ranges from $85 - $128.  Menu planning before I shop also ensures that I save money by using up what is in my pantry and freezer.  Most of us have more than $100 worth of food in our storage, and every mom can save a few bucks by eating what we have on hand before buying more.

Use the table as a family table - eating meals together can bring a family together!

Amanda Blake Soule author of Creative Family writes about dinner time as a daily ritual for her family - a time for the family to come together, give thanks, enjoy each other and eat soul satisfying foods.  Her family uses verses and expressions of gratitude to kick off mealtime, and to signify that eating meals together can equally be about nourishing the soul and stomach!  Both of our families like to use the Waldorf verse:  "Blessings on the blossoms, blessings on the roots, blessings on the leaves and stems, blessings on the fruit" as way to center our families before eating. 

As my little one gets older, we are working to encourage him to sit at the table until we are all finished with our meal.  We talk and laugh and take a moment to connect with each other in the age old tradition of breaking bread.  According to several studies highlighted on, families that eat together enjoy better nutrition, better communication, stronger relationships, and increased academic performance.  Who needs more reasons to take advantage of meal times together?

Sample Weekly Menu:


Oatmeal, Eggs and Toast, and/or fruit


Left Overs, Quesadillas, Sandwiches and Veggies, or Rice and Beans


Sunday:    Rotisserie Chicken, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes, Brocoli (Green Vegetable)

Monday:    Chicken Salad Sandwhiches or Chicken Soup (Soup: Asian Style, Fricasse, or Standard)

Tuesday:    Chicken and Whole Bean Tostadas on Sprouted Corn Tortillas

Wednesday:    Pesto Pasta with Pine Nuts and Salad

Thursday:     Rice and Stir Fry Vegetables (with Shrimp sometimes)

Friday:    Pizza (Toppings can include salami, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, zucchini, pineapple and/or ham)

Saturday:    Sushi or Salad (e.g. Steak Salad, Chicken Apple Sausage with Blue Cheese, or Taco Salad)

Keys to Stocking Nutritious Food in Your Pantry:

  1. Use only extra virgin olive oil when cooking with olive oil
  2. Use only Celtic sea salt
  3. Use unsalted, organic butter (adding Celtic sea salt for taste when needed)
  4. Use sprouted grains or soak your own before cooking (in water with whey or lemon juice)
  5. Drink raw milk (i.e. unpasturized, unhomoginized milk - available at Whole Foods) and do not eat any low fat or non fat items
  6. Replace cereals and processed snack foods (e.g. crackers) with alternatives such as sprouted grain bagels (we love Alvarado Street Bakery's, of course!) or sprouted corn chips
  7.  Incorporate digestive enzymes into every meal by incorporating honey, homemade mayo, homemade salad dressings, or lacto fermented foods (try Nourishing Traditions' salsa recipes!) into every meal
  8. Use sugar alternatives when sugar is necessary (e.g. honey, syrup, agave)
  9. Avoid packaged foods as often as possible - sugar, hydrogenated oils and fats, and other harsh preservatives are often included in the production of these items
  10. Bring your canning jars, have the checkers write down their tare weight before you shop, and get your grains, nuts, pasta and other items from the bulk bins

Me?  An artist?  Well....  That is a rather loaded word for many of us.  Women of this millennium strive to "do it all" in terms of being career women AND  mothers, leaving little time for creative pursuits.  Many of us dream of what we might write, how we'd love to dance more, or instruments we'd love to dust off and play, but those things seem so indulgent and far off when dishes call, work follows us home, or the kids need a bath. 

However, my inner artist must be dying to come out, because I've found more than one excuse to bring beauty into my family's life.  Pulling out a special platter during a snack of the season's first berries, crafting special gifts for friends, and dancing with my son to the beat of the Farmer's Market band of the week.  Still, "artist" is a word I've saved for reverently referring to the people I know who dedicate their lives making money doing art.
For example, Sharon Eisley, art school graduate and painter, creates pieces that often have an arresting affect on me.  Before we formed a friendship, I watched this neighbor looking pregnant and beautiful working in her front yard.  Her long red hair would be wound in some complicated braid, bangs fringing her face and she'd be dressed in some hip skirt and stylish wool sweater.  I'd watch her gracefully move as though her ballooning stomach wasn't toppling her balance at all, while she tied climbing roses in interesting formations throughout her trees and over arbors.  I, who was pregnant at the same time, felt unbalanced, frumpy, and spent my energies deep cleaning rather than making beauty with roses....  I knew she was on to something with her ability to channel art while simultaneously being a mother.  More importantly, she seemed to pull her artistic abilities into mothering.
Just step into her home any Friday to see what I mean!  You'll find fresh cut flowers artfully arranged in a vase, candles lit on a beautifully spread table, and delicious foods including fresh, delicately braided challah bread coming out of the oven.  Sharon engages her kids in gathering the flowers, taught her boys how to braid bread, and has them help light the candles each evening.  Art flows through her everywhere.

As a first step in tapping into some of this creative energy Sharon exudes, I bought one of her paintings:  Stork.  After two years of firm friendship, I am learning ever more through watching her.  You can too if you'd like to follow her blog:  When in Home - dedicated to artists who must squeeze art into the life of being homemakers.
This one little move towards bringing art into my home truly inspired me to go farther. Sharon's painting reminded me how magical and powerful birds have always appeared to me.  After hanging her painting in my living room, I found a hand painted lamp featuring cherry blossoms and birds to place near "Stork."  Then, I started amassing all of the bird creatures I've collected over the years for holiday trees or gift wrapping.  I found a lovely fallen branch on a friend's property, and mounted it on my wall.  The winged creatures of the forest are now perched all over my living room, and the artist lurking in my heart is dancing a victory jig!

South East Santa Rosa must be a little known artist haven. Miss Teapot, toymaker whose items are on sale at the popular Ark Toy Stores in the Bay Area, also lives just across our court.  This wonderful maker of children's toys, fairy crowns, and magic wands often bestows her gifts on my family.  From lovely hand made cards, to tiny flower arrangements, to ADORABLE children's toys crafted from wood, wool, and other wonderous materials, many pieces of Miss Teapot's work have found their way to our doorstep.  Miss Teapot likes to surprise us by leaving our gifts on the porch, much to our delight!  Last summer, Bryles received the amazing birthday treasures of three little gnomes (see picture at the beginning of this post) and a whole set of hand cut and burned wooden blocks.
Miss Teapot does wonders for helping me with my desire to provide Bryles with a few, high quality toys made from natural materials.  Her gifts are always well loved and well used.  However, after receiving such a range of handmade items, I started to get a little envious of Miss Teapot's abilities!  Last Fall, I convinced her to take me on as a crafting student, and she set about teaching me the basics of sewing, cooking, and other important skills she has mastered.  I relish our time together, and seem to have a never ending lists of requests for her to teach me:  felting, card making, quilting, paper doll making, and more are on our agenda for future months.
My friend, Annalyce la Source, saw some of my creations (hats, curtains, pillows, toys- even my own gnomes pictured below!) and heard the joy pouring through me while I described my experience.  Lamenting the fact that her own crafty mother was too engrossed to pass on many of her domestic art skills, she asked if Miss Teapot might take her on as well.  Now we are both happily sewing away during weekly sewing lessons!

Infusing art into mothering allows me to move away from thinking of my self as Cinderella (and her never ending list of chores), to seeing myself as the creator of family magic and beauty.  Today I am taking conscientious steps towards channeling my own art, and yes, maybe even using the label of artist for myself.  I began reading the "Artists' Way" and signed up for the Emily Carr workshop in July through Nurturing Arts.  Mary Bowen, Nurturing Arts teacher and founder, is sure to take me out of my normal "thinking mode" by helping to expose me to interesting anthroposophical exercises.  For those that know Grandma Mary, you know that taking one of her workshops is sure to be a soul enriching treat!  Through these activities I'm learning the more creative I allow myself to be, the more energy I have for mothering and the more enriched our family life stands to become.

This movement of moms teaching each other how to bring creativity to the family is growing like wildfire. If you'd like to join in, read Amanda Blake Soule's Creative Family (see Amazon portal "Our Family Reads" on sidebar to buy this book). Ask your neighbor to teach you how to can jam this summer. Find a co-madre who can show you how to sew or stay tuned to Sono-Ma's future articles about rediscovering the domestic arts!

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