Month: January 2016

Lessons From my Community

One of many views of my beautiful community.
One of many views of my beautiful community.

I took a trip to my local food co-op with my three kids a couple of nights ago…you know where this is going right? It started out as a stressful trip because we were trying to grab a few items for dinner, the toddler wasn’t having it, the preschooler was not listening, and the 9-year-old was trying to help but not really. I was thinking to myself: Get in, Get out – as quick as POSSIBLE. It didn’t exactly happen that way. Okay it didn’t happen that way at all. I walk in and put the toddler in the cart and thought that I was ready to go. Nope. He is trying to climb out any way he could and I decided it was safer for him to be out while I chose the things I needed. I asked the big kid to help by hanging out with him (the toddler has a tendency of grabbing things off the shelves…like, all the things off the shelves). I put the toddler down and he looked happy…peaceful even, just looking around. Then in a split second he turned around, grabbed the nearest thing to him, and tore it from the shelf. He happened to be a 4-pack of drinks in GLASS bottles. Ugh. Fun times. I go grab an employee…although I think they are all technically volunteers…to clean up the mess. This old man comes broom and mop in hand, and begins to clean. I apologize a million times and offer to pay for the drinks. He refuses and after I apologized again for my ‘monster toddler’ he just smiled at me and said “Hun, isn’t that what toddlers are supposed to do? Test your limits and be little monsters?” and then he just chuckled and finished cleaning up.

Lesson One: Not everyone finds your children’s actions as annoying and crazy as you do.

He was right. He was being a toddler, it was an accident, and he could see how sorry I was. He was choosing to be positive about the whole thing.

I finish grabbing the few things that I needed to get for dinner and head to the checkout line. At our food co-op, there is a (super cheap) member fee to shop there. If you do not have a member card, then you get a 10% fee tacked on. I had forgotten this as it had been the first time in about 2 years or so I had shopped there, since moving to the area. I told the guy I would like to sign up and he simply gave me the paperwork so I could take it home to fill out instead, and waived my fee since I promised to come back and get the card. I think he secretly felt bad for me since my toddler was trying to fly out of my arms while I am paying and packing my bag one handed.

Lesson Two: People do still trust other people’s word, and can have compassion while others are struggling.

As I was leaving, I bumped into an older lady and apologized to her a few times. She stops me in, lays her hand on my arm and tells me “You have nothing to be sorry for! You have your hands full. I bet you apologize all day being a mom and dealing with your kids. In this community here, you do not need to apologize. We have all been there and understand.”  I told her I did feel like I say sorry a lot as a mom and I really appreciated her for saying so. Sweetest. Lady. Ever.

Lesson Three: There are people are out there that care and understand. You do not have to apologize for everything.

It’s true, I do live in a very “hippy” area. We are a breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering, organic food eating, laid back, diverse, and accepting community.  I tend to forget that with the stress and wild days with my kids. I over-apologize, over-compensate, and over-analyze what I think people are expecting from me and my children when we are out and about. I need to step back and realize that kids will be kids, most people really are just trying to help, and not everyone sees kids an inconvenience. I know I most certainly don’t! Good community is hard to come by and I am fortunate to live in an amazing one…I think it’s time to embrace it!

JoleneSigPostBlock2

Local Food Co-op, an amazing place!
Local Food Co-op, an amazing place!

GIRLS CAN! Crate Review

You know those ah-mazing subscription boxes that have been coming out? Well, I got the opportunity to review one called Girls Can! Crate and wanted to share it with all of you! Below I will explain the kit, the activities, and a little about the company. And stay tuned till the very end because for everyone reading this blog post, you get a special offer at the end!

Our kit arrived in a a recyclable box with everything we are going to need to get started!
Our kit arrived in a a recyclable box with everything we are going to need to get started!

Girls Can! Crate is a subscription box that focuses on important women in history and includes activities for you to do with your child! They include EVERYTHING you need. Besides a pencil and water for the paint, which I always have on hand, I didn’t need to go out of my way to purchase or find anything. I will tell you about the company a little later but for now, I wanted to show you what we got in our box.

We got a box that had the women: Frida Kahlo, Lois Mailou Jones, and Mary Cassatt who were famous artists, in our kit. This was absolutely the perfect box for my 4-year old daughter as she is in love with anything that has to do with art. Here is a look at the inside of the kit we received:

Everything that came in our Girls Can! Crate Kit
Everything that came in our Girls Can! Crate Kit

Inside my box there was a welcome card that addressed the grown up and told about their mission, and the importance of empowering women and supporting girls. Next there was an Activity Book, which has the story part of each historical women, in addition to some activities. There are four art activities in this kit, which you could do one per week as an art history activity. Our four activities included stain glass, flower crown headband, learning about primary and secondary colors, and a self-portrait activity. I was really excited to get started on these, as was my daughter so she did one right away!

The first activity we did was the stained glass activity where we learned about about Lois Mailou Jones!

Cutting her 'glass' for her stained glass art piece.
Cutting her ‘glass’ for her stained glass art piece.

One of the things I like best about these activities was that, while my daughter did need some help with a few components, the activities were truly designed for kids to be able to do a lot on their own. Here she was able to practice her fine motor skills, learning about shapes, and creative thinking. Here are a few more of our lesson:

Putting together her stained glass.
Putting together her stained glass.
All Done!
All Done!

Our second lesson was learning about Frida Kahlo. This one was especially fun for my daughter because she enjoys playing make believe and dress up, so this had an extra special component for her.

Putting together her flower crown.
Putting together her flower crown.
As you can see, she loved it so much, she wore it around at co-op this day. She got a lot of compliments from both the high school kids and the moms!
As you can see, she loved it so much, she wore it around at co-op this day. She got a lot of compliments from both the high school kids and the moms!

The last painter we learned about was Marty Cassatt. We did a primary/secondary color mixing activity which was the perfect lesson leading into the final project.

Color mixing activity where we learned about primary and secondary colors.
Color mixing activity where we learned about primary and secondary colors. (See the baby toes? Lol)

The final project, and probably my daughter’s absolute favorite, was the self portrait painting. Again, Girls Can! Crate provided everything we needed from the paints, paintbrush, and even the canvas itself!

My daughter painting her self portrait.
My daughter painting her self portrait.

My Thoughts…

I will say that this crate is truly remarkable and I thoroughly enjoyed how thoughtful and well laid out the kit was. It provided me with my initial tools in the ‘tool kit’ which contained scissors and markers, which I get to keep for future kits. They provide this in your first kit as almost all the activities will need either or both of these items. Everything was clearly labeled, and I did not have to go searching for items as each activity was neatly packed in its own bag. I felt all of the activities were most certainly appropriate for their suggested age of 4-8 but, I feel that if you had an advanced 3 year old it would work for them as well as older kids if you chose to do extension activities. I also wanted to point out that while this is geared mainly towards girls, I think that boys would absolutely get so much out of this kit as well!

Another great thing about this kit is that it comes with four activities. As a homeschool mom, that could mean that my kids are doing an art history enrichment lesson once a week…and the best part is that it’s already prepped. The written material is already there, the hands on activity materials are already there, and it can easily be taught to multiple ages and both genders to make your life even easier!

About the Company

The company was founded by four women who wanted to inspire young girls and empower them. From their site:

“Our GIRLS CAN! CRATES are thoughtfully designed by experts in order to encourage a love of science, math, engineering, and technology, foster creativity, self-expression and curiosity, and support literacy development. Even more important, though, our GIRLS CAN! CRATES are designed to empower girls to grow more fearless, just and loving!”

In addition, Girls Can! Crate donates 10% of all proceeds towards nonprofit organizations that work to empower girls. When you go to check out with your subscription choice you get the option to choose from 3 nonprofits: GEMS, Days for Girls International, and SheHeros. You can read more about them here.

I also want to mention…they do everything in house. They do all their planning, writing, testing, putting the kits together, EVERYTHING in house. So each box is truly put together with love and perseverance. How amazing is that?!

Here’s your treat!

I know this was a bit long but I just had to show you all the fun pictures I took of my kit and us doing the activities. I wanted to point out that this would make an excellent gift…Valentines’ Day, Easter, and Birthdays are all coming up and I don’t know about you, but I am done and over with the Christmas crazy of toys! This would be an incredible gift for these special occasions! You can access the subscription options here, they start at 25.95 and have several options for you to choose from. Girls Can! Crate was generous to give us a 20% off coupon code, towards your first crate of any subscription! Just enter DOMTEACHER20 to get your savings…but hurry because it’s only good for 30 days!!!

Have any of you tried a Girls Can! Crate before? What did you enjoy most? I want to hear all about it!

JoleneSigPostBlock2