Category Archives: play

Kittens, Pink Unicorns, and Trucks

When I was pregnant, I had all kinds of ideas about how I was going to raise my child without enforced gender roles (such as “girls wear pink + play house” and “boys wear blue + play football”). I was determined to only have gender-neutral colored clothing + toys. But at some point I realized that banning the color pink was just as foolish as FORCING it upon a daughter. I realized that I can provide a full spectrum of colors + styles + themes, and let my child decide what s/he actually likes.

As it turned out, I had a daughter. This makes the whole situation easier, since (for the most part) girls are allowed to have “boy” clothing + toys + activities without seeming weird. Her tastes are all over the map, but I’ve noticed that most people are very selective in what they notice about children. Pretty much all toddlers like mud, toy balls, cuddly animals, and sparkly things. But adults observing children playing with such things tend to see it through a filter of “boy” or “girl”. People focus on the girl when she’s playing with a dollie and say “what a sweet little princess”, while dismissing the fact that this same person was covered in mud + throwing rocks moments earlier. If a girl is playing with a ball, it is more likely to go overlooked. But if a boy is playing with a ball, people make “cute” comments like “he’s practicing for the NBA!”

My daughter IS pretty stereotypically girly in many ways. She likes to give her dollies hugs + kisses, and try on jewelry. She is also small + dainty looking (and when dressed in something frilly + pink, it is probably very hard to see her actions through anything but “girly” filter). But she also is obsessed with trucks, toy balls, and trains. Pretty much anything with wheels is fascinating to her right now, but she favors her yellow dump truck + her front loader. When we pass by construction sites and sees REAL excavators + bulldozers + loaders, she becomes EXTREMELY EXCITED and insists that we stay and watch for a long while.

My daughter is now starting to take an interest in what clothes she wears. Her clothing drawer is close to the ground, so she is able to go through it and select what she wants to wear. When she finds something, she hands it to me and insists I change her into it right away (otherwise she tries to put it on herself, then generally gets it stuck on her head and becomes very angry). So far, she’s been favoring things with BRIGHT colors, but sometimes prefers brown or black. When I laid out an assortment of bathing suits for her to choose from (including “boy” swimming trunks, “neutral” colored full body swimsuits, and “girly” swimsuits), she immediately picked one covered in hot pink cherries with a frilly skirt + bow on it. Then as soon as I helped her put it on, she went over to a puddle and began splashing in it, laughing with glee as mud splattered all over her face, hair, and pretty pink swimsuit. Toddlers of all genders are like little cave-people that are amused + amazed by every new experience. I’m happy that we aren’t limiting hers by keeping her away from “boy” things OR “girl” things.

Plushie Seder Plate!

While thinking of ways to make Passover more fun for kids (and babies), I got the idea to make a festive seder plate that is entirely made out of plushie toys, paper mache, and other crafts. I made a paper mache “shank bone”, cloth lettuce bunch + yarn “parsley”, plushie “charoset” (the pink ball things), squeak-toy “horseradish” (the yellow thing) and a plushie “clump of horseradish”. I had a decorated wooden egg rattle-toy that I used as the roasted egg. Then I made a couple pieces of matzoh out of cardboard (probably tastes similar to the real stuff!) + decorated them with crayons. The plate itself was a plastic serving tray that I painted. Everything was made from recycled materials and my 1-year-old LOVED playing with it when I was done!

Fun Passover Crafts!

I put together a fun + meaningful haggadah, and now it is time to decorate the covers! I decided to do collage art, because it is something that the baby can participate in (ripping paper, yay!) without causing toooo much of a mess. Later, we’ll decorate the inside pages with crayons, and tie the pages together with colorful ribbons. Here are a couple of my favorite ones so far, and “how to” instructions below…

happy helper

FREE YOURSELF cover (look: she’s holding matzoh!)

MATZOH cover… mmmm

How To Make Your Own Haggadah Covers:

You will need:
– 8.5/11 card-stock paper (fun colors preferable)
– pictures to collage with (magazines, family photos, drawings, etc)
– scissors
– glue

Begin by finding the perfect pictures to create a picture that is both fun to look at + meaningful to you. Lay it out on the card-stock page to make sure it looks right before you start to glue. When the covers are finished + dry, use a hole-puncher to make 3 holes down the side (and do the same to the pages of your haggadah). Tie the booklets together with decorative ribbons. Enjoy!

Inspiration + Advice for Artist Parents

Being with a baby 24/7 can be pretty overwhelming.  Even if you somehow manage to find the time to create art, you may feel like you completely lack the energy to DO anything about it!  For the first year of my daughter’s life, I tried out all sorts of different art-making strategies in attempts to find something that worked.  As a SAHM of the “attachment parenting” variety (with a daughter who tends to only take naps while nursing), I have discovered a few tricks to help me continue making art on a quasi-regular basis…

1. Keep it simple, keep it small
Now might not be the best time for ambitious, gigantic, or super-messy projects. If you feel like you need to get momentum going to make something really awesome, you will be disappointed when you have to stop every 5 minutes to play with the baby, nurse, clean up some poop, etc… Instead, see if you can figure out projects that take less time, and can be done in little spurts without needing a lot of preparation or cleanup.

2. Accept that your art will be different now
That might sound scary, but it is not a bad thing! As mentioned above, you may only have 5 minutes at a time (or less!) to work on your art, and this will definitely have an effect on the outcome. This game of musical chairs might end up giving your artwork an interesting new flavor.

3. Try new mediums
I was primarily a painter in my pre-baby life, which has totally not been working out for me in the past year. But I am now discovering the joys of illustration, collage, and fabric art.  When I’m working with baby-safe materials (like fabric), she can even play alongside with me while I work!

4. Make a plan while nursing
I prefer spontaneous, unplanned, messy art-making. But I have discovered that when every half-second counts, it is better to begin making artwork when I already know what I’m going to make. And what better time to plan it all out than when trapped under a nursing baby?

5. Let your baby teach you how to appreciate everyday awesomeness
Babies are amazed by simple things like mirrors, bubbles, or seeing a flower that is PURPLE. Instead of thinking this is cute and then focusing on “important stuff”, take a moment to really investigate the awesomeness that your baby is pointing out to you. See it for yourself as if YOU are seeing it for the first time… and notice that it really IS amazing! This is a great opportunity for art inspiration.

Art-time for me, playtime for her!

I’m looking forward to when my daughter is old enough to paint alongside me instead of try to eat the brushes! In the meantime, I create things out of non-toxic substances that she can grab at while I use them. Today, I started working on a fabric collage of POMEGRANATES (Recently, I have been obsessed with pomegranates. Perhaps because spring is coming, and pomegranates are a symbol of swelling, bursting fertility)! Ariana “helped” me put together the artwork, by sitting on top of the canvas, then snatching up the fabric pieces and hiding them under the rug!