Sunday, January 23, 2011


Leaves of my tree is a great little blog that is hosting a lovely giveaway for a set of alphabetty monster prints and an adorable little owl from make more friends. They are so totally cute. So please stop by and check it out the blog and all of the giveaways!

The set of four prints that I am giving away are for four monsters of your choice- personalized in whatever way makes you happy.

I love grouping my monsters based on who I think would be friends. My latest grouping involves "adventure monsters". In this set is adventure monster, birdie monster, rocket monster, and one of my favorites- snorkel monster:-) But you of course, can choose whatever four monsters you want!

And soon will be the One World One Heart Giveaway- so check back at the end of the month!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frida Books!

Reading to your child is one of the most important tasks we do as parents. Not only is it an opportunity to spend quality time with our little ones -but it actually has so many more advantages beyond just a fun thing to do. Reading helps improve verbal language skills, builds vocabulary, gives an opportunity for practicing empathy, opens up children to a diversity of experience, and it helps children practice focusing and being quiet. And of course, children love it. I read to my own children as well as to the children I work with as a therapist. It is amazing how a good book can make things feel so much better. Because I feel like books are so important, I wanted to give space on this blog to honor those books that I love reading to children. I hope you find some new favorites!

So here is this weeks book picks!

Frida by Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Ana Juan

I owned this book before I ever gave birth to my daughter. I have been a fan of Frida Kahlo since I was 16. That was a very long time ago - and yet I am still drawn to her artwork and story. The book tells the story of Frida. It talks about some of her tragedies - the bus accident and the pain that she lived with- but Jonah Winter does it in a way that is easily accessible to children. My daughter was struck by the sadness of the story and it began a wonderful discussion around how people deal with the terrible things that happen in their lives. The book talks about how Frida used her artwork to feel better - and we have since used artwork as a way that my daughter can work through her own sadness around growing up and being four. (she doesn't always get what she wants) As an art therapist, teaching anyone how to use art to deal with hard feelings is an awesome lesson!

Now to talk about the art...
To say that I am a fan of Ana Juan would be a terrible understatement. I find her to be magical. I can easily become lost in her beautiful illustrations - and each time I pick up a book she has illustrated, I am inspired to make art! In this book, her drawings do not disappoint. They are full of color and whimsy. They are bold and emotional. My daughter loves them - and so do I.

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky - Illustrated by David Diaz

I saw this book at the SF MOMA bookstore last time I was there, and quickly texted my husband that I wanted it for Christmas. It is another beautiful book about Frida Kahlo. This one does not talk so much about her physical pain, but focuses on themes of loneliness and feeling small in the shadow of her husband when the couple go to San Francisco. By the end of the book, Frida has again used art, focusing on the beauty around her, and trusting in her own individuality to overcome the negative feelings she experiences in the beginning of the book.

The artwork...
In this book, the artwork is again bold an colorful. The backgrounds have a beautiful painterly quality and the images are exquisite. The art is not as playful as the work in the Frida book, but impressive none the less - and will definitely please someone who loves the artwork of Frida Kahlo.

Next Steps...
The act of simply reading to a child is wonderful, but it is also an opportunity to do so much more. I have listed here ideas around how you can further use these books to develop emotional and social skills in your own children. If you have any additional ideas, I would love to hear them!
  1. Ask your child if they have ever done an activity to help them when they are sad? Do they think making art would help them feel better?
  2. These books are wonderful starting points for discussion around emotions. Asking children what characters are feeling builds empathy. Asking them what they would do if they were the character's friend, helps children learn appropriate social skills. Active reading styles (where you point out things in the story, make connections, and ask questions) definitely create more opportunities for a child to learn.
  3. In "Me, Frida" the author talks about how Frida finds inspiration in Chinatown. Is there any place they like to go just to look at the sites?
  4. Draw a self portrait in honor of Frida! or using the first Frida book, draw a picture of an imaginary friend.
  5. Go online and look at some Frida Art work (You may want to find them first, because there are some pieces that are not appropriate for small children)
  6. Frida's image has been painted by so many artists who find her work inspiring. Check out ETSY and do a search for Frida to see lots of artist interpretations. Ask your daughter to draw her own image of Frida.
This is my four year old's drawing of Frida. I think it is beautiful:-)

And just because I think this party is awesome and wonderful.... check out this Frida Kahlo inspired birthday party! Makes me wish my daughter wasn't so obsessed with princesses!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Valentines Day Cards!

I am so excited to have finished my first set of valentines day cards for my ETSY store. I really wanted to use my little monsters, because I felt they were well suited for the holiday with their little heart tummies. You can click on the picture above to check out the listing. I am planning on making a set for myself and giving them out at work and to the kids I work with:-) I remember when I was young, I would always get so anxious around Valentines day because I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea just because I gave them a valentines day card that read, "Be my valentine" - so I tried to make these less romantically exclusive, if you know what I mean.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A new year of intentions

Each new year, I try very hard to pretend that New Years day will be symbolic of my entire year. Which means that I try to do all of the things that I want the year to be full of, and steer clear of those things that I would like to not have fill my new year. I kind of strive for a perfect day- which we all know is a bit foolish... but I still try every year.

This year was no exception. My little one hasn't been sleeping well, so I was up most of the night with him. My husband let me sleep in for a couple of hours- which symbolized being rested. When I woke up, I let him take a nap and I took over with the children- symbolizing showing gratitude and reciprocity. I played with my son and daughter, read them books, took pictures, did some art work, and made a lovely breakfast. When my husband woke up, we decided to make a meal together in our new slow cooker. Beef stew. Symbolic of working together to create nurturance for our family.

We went for a drive to the ocean, and my daughter and I made a wish while looking at the water. When we returned, we planned to have stew and bread for dinner and get the children in bed early. The children fell asleep in the car on the drive (which meant an early bed time would not be in the cards). After cooking nearly all day, the stew was an utter disaster. We abandoned that plan and had sandwiches for dinner. I guess that symbolizes being flexible when things don't really work out the way you want them to. The children didn't get to sleep until extremely late, but I still managed to do some artwork into the wee hours of the morning.

Having children has taught me that I am not the boss. Life unfolds in ways that I can not plan for. Happiness isn't about everything being perfect. I guess it is about being flexible and accepting what does happen. I had a pretty wonderful day on the whole.

I have two blogs - my caya papaya blog which focuses on my paintings - and this blog. This blog is very new, and I am still getting acclimated to writing two blogs. So what is the direction that I want this blog to take in 2011? Here are some of the ideas that I came up with:
  • Sharing art that you can do with children. As an art therapist for over 15 years, I have a ton of ideas around this subject.
  • Sharing my insight as a clinician working with children.
  • Sharing things that excite me around the raising of my own children. This might be in websites, books, and whatever else inspires me as a parent.
  • Giving my husband a place where he can also talk about the trials and tribulations of being an active father. Although often times the children will prefer me (attachment parenting and the mommy thing), I really do believe that we share the role of caregiver in a way that has been supportive and wonderful.
Hopefully, this blog can be helpful to someone- and I can create something that I enjoy and am proud of.

Happy 2011. Please visit me again soon.
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