Blog

Should kids get trophies for participation?

Should kids get trophies for participation?

When my kids were in elementary school, they received little trophies each year just for running in the jog-a-thon fund-raiser. Speed or agility didn’t matter. The number of sponsors and the amount you raised didn’t matter. You could get a trophy just for the fact that you showed up and...Read More
Are you Celebrating or Lamenting?

Are you Celebrating or Lamenting?

Did you ever read a book and wish you’d written it? Have you walked through a gallery and wished you had a better eye and camera for your own photography exploits? Have you found yourself envying the singer with the beautiful voice or the musician with such mastery of his...Read More
Revision: When is it good enough? Finished or abandoned?

Revision: When is it good enough? Finished or abandoned?

How do you know when you’re done revising a poem, essay, or novel? Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” He obviously wasn’t completely satisfied with the final product. French poet Paul Valery concurred by saying, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” Such is the case...Read More
Barbara Britton: Perfume Pics, Coloring Pencils, and Records: An Author’s Unconventional Tool Box

Barbara Britton: Perfume Pics, Coloring Pencils, and Records: An Author’s Unconventional Tool Box

Have you wondered what it would be like living in Biblical Old Testament times? So has author Barbara Britton. In fact, she digs into O.T. history to create story worlds from 1000s of years ago. Her wanderings start with map-making and music. Last year I read the first book from...Read More
The Compulsion to Tell A Story: The Dog Ate My Glasses

The Compulsion to Tell A Story: The Dog Ate My Glasses

My husband Tim tells the story of when he was in 4th grade playing baseball with the neighbors. He had brand new glasses and was afraid of breaking them. He set them in a “safe place” in the grass nearby. A dog was snooping around. After he got up to...Read More
Risk-taking & Art, Part 3: The Hot Air Balloon Quilt

Risk-taking & Art, Part 3: The Hot Air Balloon Quilt

How do you handle Art that doesn’t measure up? Recently I attended a play that was well done but the backdrop was nothing but a poorly drawn tree standing in a poorly painted field. It filled the entire stage. It did nothing for the production. Fortunately, the actors were good...Read More
Risk-taking & Art, Part 2: Birds in the Woods

Risk-taking & Art, Part 2: Birds in the Woods

When my husband Tim coached middle school girls basketball, one of his players ran the wrong way down the court and made a basket for the other team. Sure, this kind of mishap happens regularly with inexperienced players, but Tim can recite foibles from teams of various calibers. His coaching...Read More
Risk-taking & Art: Not everyone thinks your baby is beautiful

Risk-taking & Art: Not everyone thinks your baby is beautiful

The baby who is beautiful to you might not be beautiful to everyone else. You take a risk when you share your art with others. It’s wearing your heart on your sleeve. It’s like putting your baby on display. It’s not safe. How much are you willing to risk to...Read More
Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 2

Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 2

How has your home or your art been a healing place for you? Kaysie Strickland, founder and president of Homes & Havens, is an interior designer who has mastered the art of creating healing home environments for wounded women. Last time, she shared her philosophy of home as a healing...Read More
Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 1

Interior Designer Kaysie Strickland: Home as a Haven of Healing, Part 1

Have you ever thought about the most healing features of your home? What in your environment brings you comfort and peace and reminds you to focus on the right things? These are questions that interior designer Kaysie Strickland might ask if you hired her. My daughter Kaia introduced me to...Read More
My Pitiful Venture into Interior Design

My Pitiful Venture into Interior Design

I call my decorating style eclectic. That’s mainly because I can never decide which route to take. My daughters, who have very good taste, probably laugh at me behind my back. Not in a mean way. Just something like, “Mom and her crazy decorating ideas. It just never goes well...Read More
Monday Metaphor Musings #1: Web

Monday Metaphor Musings #1: Web

What comes to mind when you think of the word web? I teach writing students how to brainstorm ideas on paper, using a webbing technique that some call clustering. Many teachers use this. The rules are simple: start with a word, phrase, or concept in the middle of the page,...Read More
Artist/Teacher Laura Fesser, Part 2: Inspiring students

Artist/Teacher Laura Fesser, Part 2: Inspiring students

Artist Laura Fesser not only creates art but teaches art. Two of my four children had the privilege of being in her elementary art classroom. In fact, I was thrilled because she had the uncanny ability to bring out the best in them. Because of her, for the first time ever,...Read More
Artist Laura Fesser, Part 1: Inspired by Polymer, Playable Guitars, & Portraits

Artist Laura Fesser, Part 1: Inspired by Polymer, Playable Guitars, & Portraits

Laura Fesser wears two creative hats: artist and teacher. Her lively artwork brightens our community at the local hospital, library, and gallery, as well as numerous homes. Laura teaches elementary art at Heritage Christian School where I started the secondary art program years earlier. Later, she taught my two sons,...Read More
A Different Kind of People Watching, Master Painting #1

A Different Kind of People Watching, Master Painting #1

Are you a people watcher? Are you entertained by the family dynamics of people in museums, restaurants, and airports? Do you sit in public places and make predictions about the passers-by, or develop their life histories? What occupations and hobbies they have? What personality types they exhibit? A variation of...Read More
Ode to Broken Crayons: Some do’s and don’ts

Ode to Broken Crayons: Some do’s and don’ts

We’ve all been there with a huge sigh, staring at a pile of old crayons. Ready to throw them out. Or staring in disbelief as our child peels the paper right off brand new crayons! How dare he! And if he snaps a crayon in half, oh my! Call in...Read More
Let it Go to Let it Grow

Let it Go to Let it Grow

“What a great job you’re doing on that tower!” I said to my three-year-old son, my enthusiasm rivaling a rock concert crowd. CRASH! In an instant, he sent blocks flying across the room. Not for fun, but in a rage. What was his message to me? Hmm. He wasn’t able...Read More
Backyard Art Fairs & Tie Dye Parties

Backyard Art Fairs & Tie Dye Parties

Tie dye, anyone? When my kids were little, we had the neighbors over for tie dye parties. In the backyard, we dunked T-shirts, pillow cases, and socks into big buckets of dye. My husband Tim monitored the garden hose as we rinsed the colors out. The alley flowed with turquoise,...Read More
Alison Sherwood, Part 2: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

Alison Sherwood, Part 2: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

As a mom of small children, Alison Sherwood says YES to Mess and Mayhem. Not only does she enjoy creating and capturing memories for friends, she makes art for, about, and with her kids. She doesn’t dictate the outcome but engages them in the process, even working alongside them. Their...Read More
Alison Sherwood, Part 1: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

Alison Sherwood, Part 1: Memory Maker, Memory Finder, & Memory Keeper

Need inspiration? Need ideas for a party or craft? Look no further. This woman is overflowing with them! Non-stop. Alison Sherwood is a journalist turned stay-at-home-mom to three kids (Corban, 6, Mara, 4, and Haddon, 3). For nine years, she was a writer, videographer, blogger, and digital jack-of-all-trades for the...Read More
Process vs. Product: the Sizzle or the Steak?

Process vs. Product: the Sizzle or the Steak?

We all love shortcuts. From dishwashers to washing machines, from cars to planes, from texting to email, from Google to apps for anything you can imagine, the modern world is all about convenience and finding the easiest and fastest way to do something. But that’s not how creativity usually works....Read More
Say YES to MESS & Mayhem – the Joy is in the Journey – right?

Say YES to MESS & Mayhem – the Joy is in the Journey – right?

Is the joy really in the journey? [caption id="attachment_408" align="aligncenter" width="759"] Photo credit: cogdogblog on VisualHunt / CC BY[/caption] What price are you willing to pay for letting creativity flow? In other words, what messes are you willing to put up with? This is an ode to my mother. I...Read More
Author Liz Tolsma: Story Worlds steeped in WWII history

Author Liz Tolsma: Story Worlds steeped in WWII history

Unlike my friend Cathy, I cannot read and cook at the same time without drastic consequences. Spaghetti boiling over. Overcooked Chicken Divan. Burned biscuits. Have you ever been so engrossed in a novel that you forgot you were reading? Or didn’t hear the oven timer? And your smoke alarm went...Read More
We Need Fairy Tale Dragons

We Need Fairy Tale Dragons

We need Fairy Tale Dragons. [caption id="attachment_365" align="aligncenter" width="650"] CC BY-SA 3.0[/caption] We need the bad guys, the villains. Jack’s Giant. Cinderella’s and Snow White’s evil step-mothers. The Troll who bullied the Three Billy Goats Gruff. The witch in Hansel and Gretel. The Big Bad Wolf. Not to mention Captain...Read More
Why was Einstein so brilliant?

Why was Einstein so brilliant?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Albert Einstein? The theory of relativity? The atomic bomb? An image of a wild-haired genius? How about fairy tales? Seriously. He was a huge fan. Here’s what he said . . . ************************** "If you want your children...Read More
The Ruby Slippers

The Ruby Slippers

“Today the ruby slippers went on auction,” I wrote to my college-aged daughter in November, 2011. “They’re expected to be sold for 2 or 3 million dollars!” [caption id="attachment_334" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Photo credit: twm1340 on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA[/caption] Audrey and I share a love of old movies, including The...Read More
In the schoolyard: R.I.P. Here lies imagination

In the schoolyard: R.I.P. Here lies imagination

“My legs have hiccups.” That’s how my daughter described muscle twitches at age three. “There a melted rainbow on that truck.” That’s her four-year-old description of a colorful array of fuzzy, blended images. “It’s the same sky over Milwaukee as in Michigan. God just spreads it over us all like...Read More
Creativity: Popcorn Popper vs. Slow Cooker?

Creativity: Popcorn Popper vs. Slow Cooker?

Ever been on a committee that had to come up with ideas for the next best thing? It could be great fun, depending on what has to be made: --a Super Bowl commercial --a plot twist for a TV show --a name for a new doodad --a catchy slogan or...Read More
Creativity is not just for Artists

Creativity is not just for Artists

    Brad and Joyce, my in-laws, would never call themselves artists, but they are two of the most creative people I know. Give Joyce the high school play title along with yards of fabric and accessories, and she’ll whip out a bevy of fantastic stage-ready costumes that will leave...Read More
Chickens at the State Fair

Chickens at the State Fair

Every summer at the State Fair, you can bet I’ll visit the chickens. They compel me. Their antics make me laugh. And they amaze me with their variety. From the Belgian Bearded d’Uccle Bantam to the Golden Laced Wyandotte, no two chickens are alike. I marvel at splotches of color,...Read More