Sunday, December 27, 2015

well, that's that.





I hope your Christmas was great! Maybe some of you are still celebrating it? Some might have a let down or sense of sadness now that it is all over. For me, the days after Christmas and especially January are my favorite time of year. I love the fresh feeling my house has when I take down the ornaments and tree. A new year feels e x p a n s i v e and full of possibility. It is also typically a month full of the best weather in Florida, so we can hike midday and sit in the yard for hours without getting eaten by mosquitos. 

Our Christmas was hot and filled with turkey, bingo, coloring books, records, games and a new ping pong table. We are so fortunate and look forward to spending the upcoming year playing with all our goodies. 

I will be spending the next week camping on an island in a river, looking for alligators and manatees, thinking up my word(s) of the year, and preparing for what I anticipate to be a jam up session of BAM. Each year is a bit different with some new prompts, a new guest contributor and fresh ideas/perspectives and this year promises to be one of the best ever. 

We are going to be: talking about how to realistically incorporate herbal medicines into your life, searching out origin stories, learning new time management techniques and maybe even drawing some comics. 

It will be chaotic and expansive and unlike any other lab you have taken. 

If you want to read more, you can check it out here.


Monday, December 21, 2015

{review} A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote



I love reading because sometimes you come across a book, story or poem that perfectly communicates something you know or feel deep down inside. Truman Capote's short story A Christmas Memory did just that for me. I have known about it, but for some reason have never read it. What was I waiting for? My children and I were charmed by the character Buddy, a young boy living with his elderly cousin, and his preparations for Christmas. Although they don't have much, they seem to have everything that really matters. I don't want to give too much away - but the story is both heart warming and heart breaking and such a sweet reminder of all the ways we can make our own magic at this time of year.

Capotes writer's eye focuses on small and sensual details; his rhythm and frequent, chatty asides make the story roll off the page with ease. It is absorbing and a provides a perfect evening's read in front of a fire.

A little taste from the book:

On decorating the tree they just cut down and hauled back home in a baby carriage a long ways:

"A trunk in the attic contains: a shoebox of ermine tails (off the opera cape of a curious lady who once rented a room in the house), coils of frazzled tinsel gone gold with age, one silver star, a brief rope of dilapidated, undoubtedly dangerous candy-like light bulbs. Excellent decorations, as far as they go, which isn't far enough: my friend wants our tree to blaze "like a Baptist window," droop with weighty snows of ornament. But we can't afford the made-in-japan splendors at the five-and-dime. So we do what we have always done: sit for days at the kitchen table with scissors and crayons and stacks of colored paper. I make sketches and my friend cuts them out: lots of cats, fish too (because they're easy to draw), some apples, some watermelons, a few winged angels devised from saved-up sheets of Hershey-bar tin foil. We use safety pins to attach these creations to the tree; as a final touch, we sprinkle the branches with shredded cotton (picked in August for this purpose). My friend, surveying the effect, clasps her hands together. "No honest, Buddy. Doesn't it look good enough to eat?" "

( I have the edition illustrated by Beth Peck and the watercolors are lovely!)



Sunday, December 20, 2015

{BAM} how it works (and a crazy promotion)



I am busy working on goodies for the next session of Book About Me. I love sending mail and it has become a hallmark of my labs. The tangible becomes a thread that connects us all across time and space.

I wanted to drop in to let you know something about BAM. Something I think is important and another distinguishing component of Mama Scout labs. I strive to make the content as EASY to access as possible. There are no videos to watch of me waxing about story or memoir (you will have to come to a live retreat for that!), no downloadable workbooks, no projects that are prescriptively taught to you, no forums or platforms that ask you to choose yet another password; there is none of that. I am not against classes like that  - but as a participant of so many labs myself, I have noticed a sharp decrease in my involvement with the material as the content delivery became more polished and technical. It does not work for me or my lifestyle.

So, I am doing it different. And I think it works really well.

Everyday, for 6 weeks,  you will receive the lab in an email that you can read immediately (no downloading or clicking through). My goal is that the content is easily available to you as you check you phone in the morning before you get out of bed or when you are in the bathroom (:)) You can even read it waiting in car line at school.

If you carry your smart phone, a journal and pen - you are good. You can read the essay and prompts, think about them all day, write when you have a chance and in as simple or elaborate way as you want. If you have a chance at lunch or when your kids are in bed, check into the FB group to see what is cracking for other labbers. If you do just this, I promise that by the end of the 6 weeks you will have a new outlook, a deeper appreciation for your story (and those around you), and hopefully the beginnings of a creative practice that you can carry with you.

BAM is intense and serious and content heavy. BUT I have made every attempt to remove the barriers that might make sticking with it hard.

Sign up here

Now until Christmas Eve, you can invite a friend for free. Just add their name, address, and email in the comments and they are in. This offer allows you to gift yourself and a friend with an experience that will start 2016 off with a intense reckoning with your life and your story. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

{copy work} The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry


The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me 
and I wake in the night at the least sound 
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, 
I go and lie down where the wood drake 
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things 
who do not tax their lives with forethought 
of grief. I come into the presence of still water. 
And I feel above me the day-blind stars 
waiting with their light. For a time 
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Monday, December 14, 2015

{art} collabs with olders




For Christmas I asked each of my kids if they would paint a collaborative painting with me. This is tricky territory because I have trained myself over the years to let them paint with little direction and normally can not imagine laying paint on their artwork. 

But this was different. We thought of it as an experiment and I love the results. We picked poems by  Dickinson, Wordsworth and Berry to work into each piece. I suggested that they paint an animal or scene that reflected their interests and personality and they sketched in the design. My help was more with painting backgrounds and adding touches here and there. 

I love what they (we) made and now have a great poetry corner in our eating space. I am sharing here because it feels like such a good connecting and creative project to do this time of year. It was the perfect present and I think we will incorporate this approach more often. 





Sunday, December 13, 2015

{exciting!} a new teacher and herbal component added to BAM






I have enlisted the amazingness that is Melanie Levy to add a component to A Book About Me that I have been thinking about since the beginning. 
This session of BAM will have a mini-lab on herbs and easy ways to use them to support your health and spirit as you do this deep work. 
During the week we will talk about writing, memoir, journaling, trying new things, remembering, bearing witness and recording the mess of it all. 
Each weekend you will get a special lab with information and an actionable step you can take as you explore your inner kitchen alchemist! Topics include: intro to herbs, tinctures, teas, salves, syrups, and oils. This is a fascinating area of study that can become a cornerstone in your family's wellness. 
Melanie is a wise, engaged and funny teacher. I was able to be in one of her sessions a few months ago and the class could not get enough - of the content and her easy manner. She leaves her students feeling empowered and ready to start their own journey and course of study. 
I am beyond excited to expand BAM into a bigger vision that will help spark creativity, heal the soul, and embolden each participant to step into their own power. 
Join us! 
{this is the perfect gift to yourself! imagine reconnecting to your self after the holidays...}

Join here.


(I met Melanie in person a few years ago in DC and several times since. The friendships and connections that can made in intentional and thoughtful online groups is real, so real.)

Monday, December 7, 2015

found memories



I was reading through I book I had not cracked open in 15 years. 

A place was marked with a popcycle stick half stained orange-red. 

I can not remember eating this - but the concrete connection to my younger self pulsed off the page and makes me homesick for something I don't even recall. 

{Book About Me} 2016 session open for registration


This starts right after Christmas and will kick start your 2016 like nothing else! 
Join now as a gift to yourself in the new year!


A 6 week Mama Scout e-lab for mamas looking for themselves. 

Through list making, memory mining, visual map making and attentive looking, we will clear the path back to who we are, noticing how we have changed and plotting who we want to be. 

This lab is only being offered once in 2016. This is that session. It is the prefect preparations for my spring offering, Dream Lab.


_____________Who is this is for?_______________

This lab is primarily for mamas who have given so much to their children and families that they have lost a bit of themselves along the way. A virtual room of your own, but in the form of a self-ethnographic book/journal.

I was inspired to do this project after I did something similar with my kids. 

Over the weeks that I helped them compile books all about themselves (with lists of favorites, recording of life stories, timelines, maps and charts and more), I kept thinking of how the format could be an amazing tool for self growth and exploration for women. So, I took notes, adapted and added adult themes to the project and this lab was born.

However, the adult Book About Me program has taken on a life of its own and has become a standard Mama Scout lab. It is one of my favorites and I look forward to returning to the prompts (and the new ones) each year. 

By recording the details of our lives, both big and small, through word and image, we recover our lost selves and reconstruct stronger versions of the women we want to be.  

You might be looking for the forgotten you, the submerged self, a younger or different you than who you confront in the mirror each morning. This course is to help you uncover her, find her and also redefine her. Because chances are, she has been deep in the muck so long, she might have evolved into something a little different. 


__________What do I get & how does this work?___________

+Just before we gather you will get a little welcome package of goodies in the mail to get you inspired for the lab.

+ Each day, for 6 weeks you will receive an email lab from me. Each lab contains a short essay, a meaty journal prompt, a creative invitation, copy work and additional resources to help you on your journey. This is as low-tech as I can manage which using a computer. There are no videos to watch or big downloadable workbooks. My ideal lab (and how I designed this one) allows you to read the entire lab on your phone or laptop quickly in the morning before you even get out of bed. I want this the fold simply and seamlessly into your day. 

+ We will have a giveaway each week! In the past these have included great books, CDs, art supplies, digital products and more!

+ You will receive a special discount for Dream Lab (offered in late March)! 

+ You will gain access to one of the most positive and friendly online groups. Not only have great friendships and collaborations been welded in mama scout groups - there is a genuine, non judgmental and supportive energy.


I will not lie, it is a lot.

I encourage all participants to write daily for 5-15 minutes. Seriously, that tiny amount can shift roadblocks and open doors. BUT even if you just read the lab material and THINK about it, you will benefit. 

Our secret FB group will allow you to witness and share stories that will shock, heal and amuse. 

The creative projects are for the most part simple and inexpensive, yet novel and meant to disrupt your (and my) default thinking. I hope they will inspire you to look deeper, think weirder, and explore your life in a creative way. 

As a full time, homeschooling mom, I have found online courses to be of great benefit to me. As a lifelong student, I am personally enriched and a much better parent when I am engaging my mind and creative spirit. My e-labs are the type of courses I had been searching for and could not find. So, I created them and learn next to the participants in each lab.

What supplies might I need? 

When the course is closer, you will recieve a welcome letter and a more detailed list of supply ideas. Basically, you will need a journal or notebook with paper, pencil or pen, camera and printing capabilities, an internet connection and generic art supplies. You should not really need to buy anything specific for this course.


Please feel free to check out my work at www.mamascout.com or email me any questions you might have amybarbo [!at] gmail.com. 

I look forward to working with you in a lab that can be the catalyst to major change and refinement in your life. This is powerful stuff!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

gathering is magic


This past weekend I flew to the Cuyahoga Falls National Park to gather with women from across the country. This is the third year I retreated with this group and to say it was magical is an gross understatement. 

We spend the days hiking, writing, painting, drumming, talking and listening, learning herbal alchemy and of course laughing until we snorted (or farted). 

I feel protective about the space and the sacredness of how we filled the time, but I am convinced that online tribe building can lead to lifelong friends of the best degree. Something powerful happens when we connect with other intentionally online and then take the daring step to meet in real life. 

I have been blogging and leading labs for awhile now and EVERY time I have moved out of my comfort zone and met a real life mama scout tribe member the connection has exceeded my expectations. 

These friendships are real. And so super saturated with goodness and intelligence and caring - that a few meetings a year can creatively and emotionally fill ones heart. 

Some wild cohorts and I are working on some really fabulous offerings in the upcoming year so stay tuned for those. 

In the mean time, if you are ready to get your holiday on, it is time to sign up for the annual Holiday Lab. Holiday Lab is a yearly grounding session to help you create the season you want. Your rules, your values, your dreams. It is a big dose of sanity stirred into your hot cocoa. Join us now (the first 50 sign ups get some happy mail from me!). 






Monday, November 9, 2015

{monday mission} read atypical books to your kids at bedtime


A great way to get more of your own books read is to incorporate them into your children's nighttime story time. Some of my favorite books over the last few years have been ones that were bedtime reading. 

We are now reading the above. It is an adult book about taking risks, getting uncomfortable, failing, and fully participating in life. My youngest is 9 and not only gets it, but gets really excited by the message and paraphrases it back to me. We call him mini Mama Scout. 

I think this concept can extend into other realms. What about a serious current science book or something by Malcolm Gladwell? Maybe a memoir or an old field guide (we like Jean-Henri Fabre). 

Scan your shelves or visit the library and see what sparks your interest. If you are moved by the text, your children will be too. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

{copy work} on being old


"They say, " she announced - "they say that when you get old, as I am, your body slows. I don't believe it. No, I think that is quite wrong. I have a theory that you do not slow down at all, but that life slows down for you. You understand me? Everything becomes languid, as it were, and you can notice so much more when things are in slow motion. The things you see! The extraordinary things that happen all around you, that you never even suspected before! It is really a delightful adventure, quite delightful!"

 My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

Friday, October 30, 2015

{explore} mural art in St Petersburg, Florida



If you are in the Tampa/St. Pete area, I encourage you to spend an afternoon touring downtown to enjoy all the mural and street art. St. Pete encourages and supports public mural art in a big way which makes the city vibrant and visitors lucky. The recent Shine festival helped add even more art to the walls. You can read more about the artists and get a tour map here

*And for refreshments, we love Bodega and Banyan Cafe.











Monday, October 26, 2015

{copy work} The Secret by Denise Levertov


The Secret

by Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
for

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

found on Poets.Org

Saturday, October 24, 2015

{read} Hold Still by Sally Mann


Oh, how I loved this book.

A memoir that goes back over a hundred years into a fascinating family history, a deep meditation on one's bond to land, and a treatise on working creatively while raising a family (and more importantly - becoming collaborators within a family, this is essential reading for creative parents!

Mann's intimate photographs of her family, published in the book Immediate Family,  shot her to national prominence (and infamy) in the early 90's. She photographed her children injured, naked, and in awkward positions (as well as playing, thoughtful, and engaged in life). As photographs, they definitely elicit a response from the viewer. They are beautiful and powerful and darkly capture a side of life with children that is not often talked about or even recognized. As a parent, one wonders what would prompt her to make these photographs and publish them to the world. She writes at length about her process, the children's cooperation and collaboration, the secluded and nearly feral life they led at their river cabin. It all makes sense. I do wonder (as does she) how her art would have been received in the digital age.

Most interesting to me are the photographs she took of her children when they were hurt or danger is implied. Nothing serious: stitches, imprints of bite marks, legs cadaverishly caked with mud, a child sleeping that calls to mind a 19th century death portrait, a child next to a freshly hunted deer or holding roasted squirrels.

Writing about an image of her child Jessie with a swollen face after an insect bite, Mann shares:

"As strange as it sounds, I found something comforting about this disturbing picture. Looking at the still-damp contact print, and then looking at Jessie, completely recovered and twirling around the house in her pink tutu, I realized the image inoculated me to a possible reality that I might not henceforth have to suffer. Maybe this could be an escape from the manifold terrors of child rearing, an apotropaic protection: stare them straight in the face but at a remove - on paper, in a photograph. 

With a camera, I began to take on disease and accidents of every kind, magnifying common impetigo into leprosy, skin wrinkles into whip marks, simple bruises into hemorrhagic fever. Even when a scary situation turned out benign, I replayed it for the camera with the worst possible outcome, as if to put the quietus on its ever reoccurring." 

She uses her camera to explore the darkest themes of motherhood in ways that are recognizable to most parents. The camera becomes a looking glass into futures nightmares you hope to never endure and the images take you as close to the edge before tumbling over.

The book also offers deep histories of race in the south, the unchanging landscape, marriage and illness, and death. Full of photographs and copies of letters, memos and various ephemera, the book is delightful, engaging and at times challenging to read. I highly recommend it.

This is the book to gift your book club friends, art lovers, and wild mamas. They will thank you.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

We are just layer upon layer of stories, fables, myths and poems to each other



This weekend we stumbled upon an estate sale in gentrified Winter Park near Orlando. We love attending auctions, yard sales and estate sales but have taken a break as we declutter our house and move to smaller quarters. Saturday, I remembered what we have been missing.

The single story Roman villa we entered was worn but spectacular even in its denuded state. We saw: terrazzo floors, high, high ceilings painted with a Disney palette straight from the "It's a Small World" ride, a square iron tub, and an original push button stove from the late 50's, early 60's. Built in's, thick plush carpet and canopy beds hinted at the past elegance with which the previous owner imbued the property with.

As we wondered from room to room, we began to build the life story of the owner. He travelled. A lot. We later heard that he had been to over 150 countries. There were African marks, shell specimens, small, intricately carved and inlaid boxes, and many sweatshirts, robes, bottle openers and such emblazoned with the resorts and cruises he enjoyed. He had many mirrors that reached to the ceiling, small oil landscapes, iron sculptures of conquistadors and some ancient church thrones.

The library was a dream. Wall to floor wood bookshelves were filled with nature guides, books on art and psychology and an impressive collection of National Geographic Magazine going back to 1916. I became antsy as I scanned his stacks and wondered who he was and what his life was like.  Was he happy and content or chasing something elusive all over the world. There was no sign of a wife or children. Was he single, gay, or did his wife die years earlier and all traces of her were already wiped clean?

We found his makeshift office with an electric typewriter and filing cabinet tucked into a corner. His name was Arthur Blood. And he was a psychiatrist. I did a little research and found out that if he is still alive, he is 93 years old.

It was all interesting and made me think about the stories we invent about each other. And we do it all the time, don't we? I created a character while touring this house that was adventurous, mentally vibrant and connected to a community through his patients and the friends that he entertained. I felt better knowing this "type" of person existed in the world. And there were certain parts of his life I very much wanted to emulate.

But all of this could be completely false. He could have been a monster. A horrible traveller and small minded bigot.

Who knows? And in a way, who cares? Maybe we all exist as a roles in stories that others need us to fill in order to construct their own story. We are just layer upon layer of stories, fables, myths and poems to each other.

And when you realize that, and start listening closely to the text pour out all around you, life becomes complicated and more clear than ever. Try listening to the reading, writing and creating all around you. There are volumes of origami-ed pages strewn in your path.

And tell me. What would your end of life estate sale look like? How would people read the artifacts of your life? What story would you tell?


Friday, October 16, 2015

{exploration lab} prosthetics


Our homeschool co-op is learning about bones this month and my week was devoted to prosthetics. I wanted as much as the class to be an open tinker time as possible, so I kept the lecture to a minimum.

In our co-op, the organizing parent shares resources with their kids before we meet. We post videos, animations, and other educational fodder on our group FB page. So the kids come to class already versed in the subject. I had also asked each of them to design a prosthetic in their journals.



Meticulous models are made while getting fitted for a prosthetic, so we started by making plaster of paris models of their fingers.We used alginate in paper dixie cups. Your finger has to stay in the agnate for 3-5 minutes, so while I had them all still, I attempted to give a brief history of fake arms and legs. Remarkably, for most of time, prosthetics were simple and made of wood, leather and metal. It is only in recent history that so many advancements are being made, including the ability to move prosthetics with your brain!

After our finger molds set, a volunteer removed them and filled them with plaster and let them set for the remainder of the class.


Each kid shared their drawings which were varied and interesting. And then we built. My family had been been working on articulate hands using strings and straws. We shared this technique and many decided to use it in some variation like articulated tails and head dresses.

My hope was that each kid learned one new technique for their builders toolbox. I can not wait to see how their new skills show up in their future work.





Materials and tools we used:
cardboard
straws
yard
scissors and exacto knives
hot glue guns and duct tape

Oh! I made a pinterest page with a handful of resources. 

Share what you make in the Mama Scout Laboratory for Creative Living Facebook group.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

{copy work} Considering the Snail by Thom Gunn




For those of you who take my online labs, you know I am a fan of copy work. Copy work is an educational idea, used by many homeschoolers, that encourages one to copy quotes, well written and evocative passages and poetry into a journal. The ideas is that by copying, the writer slows down, absorbs the words and style of the writer and connects with the message on a different (deeper?) level. I find it can be as relaxing as a mini meditation. Here is a current favorite poem. Enjoy!

Considering the Snail
by Thom Gunn

The snail pushes through a green
night, for the grass is heavy
with water and meets over
the bright path he makes, where rain
has darkened the earth’s dark. He
moves in a wood of desire,

pale antlers barely stirring
as he hunts. I cannot tell
what power is at work, drenched there
with purpose, knowing nothing.
What is a snail’s fury? All
I think is that if later

I parted the blades above
the tunnel and saw the thin
trail of broken white across
litter, I would never have
imagined the slow passion
to that deliberate progress.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

to market, to market


This fall, my kids are participating in something new. Our midweek farmer's market has started a kids market. Kids are encourage to make and sell their creations. It is such a fabulous idea! 

Each week there are a handful of tables selling baked goods, artwork, duct tape creations, sculpty magnets and jewelry, sewn napkins, and more. My kids and their friends have fun thinking up projects to make, learning about marketing, pricing, customer service, and displays. They do all the work, from production to set up. I am there as back up and a resource but have fully handed the responsibility over to them. The motivation of making some cash has brought out their grit and entrepreneurship.

Honestly, it is a bit slow now because it is still so hot. But come cooler weather, I hope they are swimming in customers. 

Does your local farmer's market have something similar? If not, I have a feeling most would be receptive to the idea.

Monday, October 5, 2015

{project} stuffed memories


In the fall session of Journal Jam we have been drawing, painting and writing about our stuffed animals. This activity is the perfect project for a family art night.

Ask each kid (and adult) to bring a stuffed animal that they have had a long time and really treasure to the table. We drew ours with pencil, outlined with a Sharpie marker and then water colored. Kids can share their memories orally, dictate to an adult or write them down themselves.

Looking closely at sentimental objects slows down time and offers a restorative meditation to everyone at the table. And the finished product will be cherished and adored down the road.

Be sure to share a link in the comments if you do this. I would love to see your journal entries.

Friday, October 2, 2015

bones



It seems like every October we study biology or something creepy with our homeschool co op. Last year we dissected sea creatures and buried (and a month later dug up!) fish.

This year we are studying bones. There are lots of cool bone decorations and one of the easiest things ever is to grab some skeletons from the dollar store - 3D or wall hanging and label them.

We watched this Crash Course video on the skeletal system by Hank Green, played a little Skeletons in the Closet, and then labeled these guys.

It was a fun review of the major bones of the body and we now have some creepy decorations to get us in the mood for Halloween!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

{challenge} october :: a month of memory


The wellness/creative challenge for October is..... to create a month of memory. In honor of Day of Dead which I am having fun exploring via Merrick Weaver and her awesome online lab, Decluttering for the Dead, I thought a month of writing down, sharing and digging into our memories could be really fun.

Here is how it will work: each day in the Mama Scout Laboratory for Creative Living FB group, I will post a simple prompt that you can take to your journal or use as a conversational starting point.

You can share your memories in the group as well as any interesting and fun ways you have come across to mark and memorialize the adventures of your life.

Are you in?

Just make sure you are in the Fb group, grab a journal and get ready to go (back).

(food) pumpkin smoothies



We can not get enough of the pumpkin smoothies we make every fall. They are healthy, filling and make everyone think they are getting a special treat, which they are!


Here is a sort of recipe for a big blenderful (you can freeze leftovers as popsicles):

2 bananas - the riper the better
big TBS of honey or maple syrup (adjust based on your sweetness needs)
a whole can of organic pumpkin puree
milk (cow, coconut, almond, rice...) to cover the blade (adjust for thickness)
ice to the top (or you can use frozen bananas for a thicker smoothie)
pumpin spice to your liking (we like a lot)

extras:
candied ginger
almond meal
chia seeds
unsweetened coconut
chocolate chips (why not?)

That's it! Experiment and come up with your favorite version!

Monday, September 28, 2015

the wonder society :: a makers + thinkers collective for kids and parents


After watching and falling in love with Caine's Arcade and making lots of cardboard games,  I decided to start a local chapter of the Imagination Foundation

We have already started and I thought I would share what we do in our meetings in this space. Hopefully, it will inspire or encourage other parent groups to start similar clubs. 

As we homeschool, I am not affiliated with a school. My group is filled with homeschool and school kids. We meet bimonthly at a local artist's (and kindred spirit's) gallery. In the future, we might meet at parks or even the library. 

Meetings are held late Sunday afternoons from 3-5, with a potluck afterwards. 

For each meeting, we have a show and tell table, a quick fire design or improv challenge, and then spend the majority of the time working on the lesson or theme of the day. 
Our first quick challenge broke the group into teams. Each team was given 30 index cards and a roll of tape. They were charged with building a structure as high as possible. It was fascinating to see the different building styles and techniques. We shared and talked about each group's structure.


Then we moved on to a take apart and rebuild party. I had filled up my van with old electronics donated by friends and neighbors. Participants also brought expired can openers, vacuum cleaners and baby monitors. Each family brought screwdrivers and whatever other tools they thought would be helpful. We avoided monitors and parent involvement kept an eye on any potential dangers. In fact, some of the parents had as much fun taking apart and the kids did.
We spent all our remaining time taking apart. Kids were allowed to take home whatever pieces they wanted to rebuild at home. Some kids might hot glue components into creatures or if they are knowledgeable, use the pieces to build little robots or other apparatuses. 



And then we snacked, played piano, wrestled and ran and chatted. 

It was a great time of exploring and hanging out with friends. My goal is that each meeting is easy to plan and open ended, allowing for the kids to learn new design and building skills as they explore. This meeting certainly met my expectations. 

Upcoming meetings will have us working with cardboard, Ozobots, creating better world inventions and doing community art. Follow along on the blog and let me know if you have your own makers group!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

{giveaway} Decluttering for the Dead


My good friend and rebel Merrick Weaver is offering what might be the coolest class ever this fall. It is called Decluttering for the Dead and combines her loves of minimalism, Day of the Dead and Latin American Culture. It starts this week and I can not wait! 

You can read more about awesome Merrick and her offering below and even win a spot! Read to the end to find out how!




Tell us what you have been doing this summer.

This summer was spectacularly low key. We swam. Did some gardening. I got a massive wart from digging in the dirt and cured it with over-the-counter wart stuff. That seemed like a huge win.

We played. Slept. Most days, we didn’t go very far from our backyard. We spent some time up in the mountains. My kids are five and two. They moved into the same room together, so the expected shenanigans ensued. 

They’re happy to be nesting together and in cahoots. My parents hang out in Colorado during the summer, so it's grandparent time, and my sister had her first baby last week. She lives in Denver, too, with her man. So there was a baby shower and anticipating and making room for a new person. We got to see my brother, his lady and their daughter a couple of times which is super fun because they live in Dallas. They are expecting a baby in January. And there will be five cousins, ages five and under. 

We’re in that tiny person phase, so things are slow and steady. It seems like someone is always eating. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, repeat. There were also popsicles. And lemonade. I introduced the kids to Slurpees and that may have been my biggest parenting mistake to date.

Tell me about your experience with online classes and how did you decide to start offering your own online classes.

I went to the Mamascout School of Online Labs. Your classes blew the lid off my world a few years ago. It took me two years to fully get my groove, but the time spent priming the pump paid off big time during the last Dream Lab. My first Dream Lab made me realize my house was too big a shit show to actual dream about anything, so I got to tidying in April 2014. That turned into the Great Weaver Purge of 2014-15 (which is about 10% from being finished). I got so jacked up about decluttering and tried every method. I also don’t like doing things alone so I started secret Facebook “book club” so my friends could provide moral support. We don’t actually read books. I’m terrible at book clubs. Way too much pressure. At the end of last spring’s Dream Lab, I was ready to write an eCourse about minimalism and tidying and you told me I should do it because people were wanting it. And when Mamascout says “Jump!”, you say, “How high?”  My friend Axé named the first class Sprang Cleanin’ and we were off. 

Right now my friend Heather and I are doing a free fall decluttering series we’re calling Challenge by Choice. If anyone wants to sign up, they can sign up. The whole thing is really bizarre, because my background is in women’s, reproductive, and perinatal health. And now I’m giving talks on minimalism. 

Your next online class is called Decluttering for the Dead. What is this class all about? Who is this class for?


Decluttering for the Dead is for anyone who really enjoys talking about death and also wants to acquire a few basic Latin American craft skills. So, basically, everyone.

Day of the Dead/El Día de los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday. Fall is my favorite time of year. You’ve got Autumn Equinox, Halloween, Day of the Dead, my birthday, Thanksgiving, and then go right into the winter holidays. It’s a like a two-month party. I want to kick off the season right. I’ve had some new awarenesses during the Great Weaver Purge of 2014-15. 1) You can’t take it with you when you’re gone. (Seems to me that decluttering is a preparation for death. And if that doesn’t make you want to sign up for this class, then I’m out of marketing ideas.) 2) The whole purpose of letting go of the physical things that don’t serve us is to make room for what’s important. Carving out a small space to remember, talk about, and honor the people I love who have died is important to me. I want my children to be more comfortable talking about death. I want to be more comfortable talking about death. It reminds us how to live.

This isn’t a class just for families, although I’ll include age-appropriate activities for all living humans. There will be project ideas for people of every age, with actual pictures of my mediocre sugar skulls and shoe box altars. It isn’t about being pretty; it’s about being real. I’ll get into the history of the holiday and it’s sacred meaning. I also like the idea of marking Day of the Dead as an entry point to create the space in our homes that we need to enjoy the rest of the holidays with our living friends and family.

Will I learn to make sugar skulls in this class?

Yes. Like a boss.

What's rocking your world right now? Books, music, film, ideas? Tell us about something cool that we don't already know about!

Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger  is the best thing that ever happened to our family. We built a Little Free Library this summer (so glad I remembered, it was the most major project we endeavored and now we don’t look like lazy, Slurpee-drinking, napping weirdos who don’t do anything), and it’s been really amazing to watch our neighborhood get excited about it. If you've been wanting a Little Free Library in your 'hood, I really recommend doing it. If there's one already there, support it! Sir Fartsalot showed up there one day, and we never looked back.



Want to win a spot? Just head over to the FB page, Mama Scout Laboratory for Creative Living and leave a message on the pinned thread about your ancestors. Who do you want to honor and why. We will pick a winner by the end of the weekend. 





Thursday, September 10, 2015

september wellness challenge :: learn something new everyday


I am a little late coming off the mindful media challenge from this summer. How was that for you? While I still scanned social media, I found that I was on my phone and computer much less. I loved it and I am finding it hard to get back into the swing of things. 

But, it is time for another challenge. This is a rerun of a popular challenge from last fall.  

Here is the deal. Meet up on the FB group page and post daily (or whenever the fancy strikes you) about what you have learned that day. It might be an emotional truth, an odd fact or a relationship epiphany. Whatever it is - go for it. These are great fun to think up, share, and read. 

We might spill into October a bit to make up for lost time, but October will have its own challenge and it is a good one. 

This is a free project and filled with some super cool people. Fell free to invite your people too! 

last call for Journal Jam Fall edition ----> get on it!


Journal Jam Fall edition is ready to roll. If you want in, this is it. The welcome letter goes out Saturday and we are in full gear Monday morning.

This lab is 10 weeks of awesome prompts, poetry, film, journaling and art prompts and cool mama camaraderie.

If you want to create with your kids and be engaged yourself - this lab is for you. If you like kid based art programs that are prescriptive and "too cute" this is not for you.

(Sorry if that sounds harsh - I am sitting here drinking my 3rd cup of tea, writing all afternoon, watching cows from my window and feel like I just need to say it truthfully.)

I would rather spend time with my kids listening to Phillip Glass, reading weird poetry, looking for treasures in alleys and painting pictures of my ancestors than work from a printable or strict theme.

This class is kid appropriate but cool enough for a parent to do on their own.

You can sign up here.

Oh, and I love you. And you are doing a terrific job. I can not wait to hang out with you. 

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