So many Moms out there are nurturing their children's creativity, empowering other Moms with clever ideas and creating space for kids to flex their imaginations.
Introducing.....THE NOODLE SPOTLIGHT! A new post featuring Creative Moms Taking On The Creative With Their Kids! Come get inspired by amazingly noodly, creative Moms...... and their Kids!
Tell us about your NOW (Noodle On The Wall) with your child/children?
Think Magnet was published Jan 2012, but was in my brain years before, incubating and keeping me company in the trenches of 3 kids under 3. The writer in me wanted to share, inspire, and make parents laugh. The teacher in me wanted to teach. The mother in me wanted to connect. Good thing the Solid Gold Dancer dream didn’t pan out! There’s a billion blogs out there and does the world really need one more? It didn’t really make sense, but I went for it, promising myself to focus on faces—not numbers.
Think Magnet is a potluck of the learning we weave into our home lives with our public school kids, sprinkled with how we find sanity as parents and laugh at life......and ourselves. I do my best to keep posts short, sweet, light-hearted, helpful and sometimes embarrassing. My favorite part of blogging is the friendships I've made, the fun comments and the thank you emails. Think Magnet is the place where you can walk right in, take your shoes off and look in the fridge. No supermom or superdad capes here. We’re perfectly imperfect.
What role does creativity play in your home?
My goal is to help our children be magnets to learning, be both independent and good teammates, and see learning as never-ending and without boundaries. I want them to embrace their gifts and weaknesses and be able to use both to make the world a better place in their own ways. Oh, and be overflowing with love and be self-sufficient forever by the age of 21. Creativity is the common thread to weave those goals together as we sing kumbaya. Kidding. Kind of. Creativity isn’t something you do or make; it’s who you are and how you think. It’s a life lens and it looks differently for everyone, which is the beauty in it.
What inspires you to take on the creative with your kids?
Creativity makes me gut laugh. It makes me feel alive, silly and young. There are no rules to creativity and no fear. Creativity is a way of thinking. It’s problem solving, imagination and innovation. Creativity actually comes very natural to children. Taking on creativity with your children often means just letting them be and letting them inspire you. A reciprocal flow of imagination and ideas. And, might I so boldly add, my super hot, creative husband inspires me with his goofiness and constant innovative thinking. One third of our conversations start with “What if…”
How do you nurture your child's creativity?
Integrate and individualize creativity daily. Honor it. Never let your child hear you say you’re not creative. There’s a million ways to be creative. It doesn’t come in a kit. It’s everywhere. Fill your home with open-ended opportunities.
• Make up your own rules to games or just make up a whole new game.
• Plop some random materials on the table and see what happens.
• Let them help problem solve real life issues around your home.
• Showcase creativity by hanging their creations on the walls, AND, you create things
• Have them create and perform their own TV show.
• Let the kids plan their own birthday parties! Let go and let them!
• Hold up an empty box or plastic container and say “what can you do with this?”
• Tell stories around the kitchen table or set out mix-matched plates and discuss ways
the matching plate-eaters go together.
• Allow them to be mini-chefs in the kitchen, even when you know it's going to be gross.
• Write & illustrate stories and add them to your home library.
• We’ll pose a question and when someone answers, say “that’s one way…what else?”
- Use a lot of blank paper vs. coloring books.
- Get them a microphone.
- Invent stuff.
- Put them in charge of decorating a mantle in the house.
- Hang up a “think board” (dry erase board) they can brainstorm ideas or projects they’d like to do and then support them.
- Never underestimate the power of tape, boxes, pipe cleaners, shadows, rocks, and foil.
- Have fun, don’t stress. Repeat. Have fun, don't stress.
What sticky noodles can you offer other Moms taking on the creative with their kids?
Noodles I throw at my kids often:
“It’s not how smart you are, it’s how you’re smart. It’s not if you’re creative, it’s how you’re creative.”
“Only boring people get bored.”
“Hmmm…sounds like you have a problem, how are you going to fix it?”
“Don’t be shy…just try!”
And, I like to keep it real...sometimes I just order out for noodles. No shame in it. You have to recharge too. You'll be a better parent in the long run.
Warning: Blogs and pinterest can quickly make your pasta water boil over. Simmer down, people. Let other parents inspire you, not bring you down. Pace. Margin. Balance. Al Dente.
What is your child's ideal noodle dish?
Well, ahem…in the spirit of being creative….and cheesy.....
A Noodle Dish For Your Noodle
Boil the water with a pinch of mess
Plop in some glittered rotini, just take a guess
Toss in some bowtie and ravioli too
Stir in bravery and confidence for a creative stew
Add elbow with your elbow as you giggle
Simmer until everything has a wiggly wiggle
Feel the beautiful boiling beat as you dance
Let the life pasta put you in an imagination trance
Rinse and smile through the steam
Close your eyes and allow yourself to dream
Alfredo or marinara, it’s all in your mind
Whatever you crave is what you will find
Top it with some fresh parmesan and inspiration
Dig in with your fork of innovation
Serve daily to your friends and family
Nourish your soul and live quite happily
With the weather being unbearably hot these days, cold drinks and juicy fruits are a must! So why not add extra fun to snack time this summer with your kids. Here are a few ways to Take On The Creative while cooling off from the hot sun.
WATERMELON STARSMake watermelon stars from a simple star cookie cutter. Any shape will do and so perfect for a summer picnic, party or play group.
MOUSTACHE STRAWSQuench your kid's thirst while adding a few giggles with these moustache straws
. Funniest water they'll ever drink!
Pack your kid's snacks with this simple clothes pin craft. Grapes and blueberries never looked so good.
FRUITY ICE CUBESCool off with these fruity ice cubes. Add them to your kid's water for a little extra flavor.
Have some fun and Take On The Creative with snack time!
Our latest Stick Of The Week! is Michelle Swingle. Michelle is in the NOW as founder and chief stacker of Stack Blocks, a cottage industry shop focusing on eco-friendly, non-toxic, designer wooden blocks for children.
Michelle Swingle lives in a 100 year old home in historical Norfolk, Virginia with her best friend and husband, Jeff, her 2 year old, Simone, her border collie Sidney, and their backyard tortoise, Moses.
She has a background in Commercial Real Estate
and currently runs a small business closing real estate loans in addition to Stack Blocks. Michelle is often found pondering the amazing fact that she couldn’t imagine her life being any better than it currently is.
Tell us about your Noodle on the Wall.
My current NOW is Stack Blocks -- an on-line shop focusing on eco-friendly wooden blocks for baby & toddler. I adore keeping up with trends and creating blocks for every type of nursery. Even more rewarding, is creating a safe toy that meets little one’s ever-changing developmental needs.
Owl and Woodland Creatures Wooden Blocks
Is your NOW simmering, al dente or fully cooked and why?
At this point, my NOW is simmering… though it took some work to get it there. I used to overdo it. As the years go by though, I realize I’ll happily give up big paychecks and lofty job descriptions to live a balanced, satisfied, and content life.
What recipes can you give other Creative Moms Taking On The Creative?
The best flavors come from the perfect balance of the best ingredients. While a dash of salt is yum, a cup of salt is yuck, right? I believe it’s important to be aware of your time commitments (balance). Also, where as aged Parmesan is a fantastic topping, a moldy kraft cheese slice may not be (do those even get moldy?). So choose wisely what you are willing to commit to in the first place (ingredients). In the end, it’s truly an individual thing – not a recipe – so taste often and adjust as necessary.
What motivated you to throw your noodle?
When my daughter was born, I became aware of how unsafe many of the toys on the market are. But it was really more than that. With the birth of my daughter, came a change of priorities. Basically, the flavor of our family’s pasta dish needed to change. With less outside-of-the-house work, came less income. Unfortunately, lower income, meant less flexibility to donate to various charities. Since charitable donations are key to our family’s personal flavor, I drew upon my entrepreneurial spirit and created Stack Blocks. Stack Blocks focuses on providing safe, educational toys for children and gives a significant portion of each order to a charity that focuses on less fortunate children.
Black and White Alphabet Wooden Blocks
Cars and Trucks Wooden Blocks
Simone and Michelle
What inspires you as a Mom and as a creative person?
Motherhood inspired me to create a toy that is safe for the environment and safe for my child. It inspired me to create something that would teach my child and grow with her. It inspired me to create a way to give financially to children who need clean water, food, and protection from injustice. So, I suppose my daughter is my greatest source of inspiration.
How do you juggle Mamahood and your NOW?
I’m a big list-maker. I begin each day with a list of what I’d like to accomplish and I split it up based on sections. Some examples....... while Simone’s napping, after Jeff comes home, when we’re at the library, while we’re snuggling etc. I’ve become adept at working on multiple things at the same time. That said, I find I also need to be flexible. If it’s just not happening, I switch gears and move on to the next thing. Eventually, it all gets done and I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to stay at home and enjoy my child as I work.
What is your ultimate pasta dish?
My overarching goal is to live a balanced, productive and creative life where I love my family well and do my part to help others in need. Top that with some goat cheese and Y.U.M. Life is good.
Do you know a Stick Of The Week! that you think should be featured on the NOW site?
Email me their info at firstname.lastname@example.org
"It's not what you are that holds you back, it's what you think you're not." -Denis Waitley (motivational speaker and writer)
Not long ago, I had a story that I clung to like my very own security blanket. I couldn't go anywhere without it. My story was titled, The Tale of The Mean Old Lack..... Who Held Her Back and it was published, edited and written by me. Thank you very much.
Want to hear it? Here goes.....
Once upon a time there was a woman with many noodles slowly simmering in her pot. She desperately wanted to throw them, but a monster named Mean Old Lack held her back. Lack made her believe she didn't have enough time, energy and knowledge to make her noodles stick. So, the woman never drained her noodles and certainly did not dream of throwing them. She lived unhappily ever after.
I am certain many of us can relate to my sad tale. The one where I make excuses for not doing what I truly want to do in my heart. But one day, I called myself out and changed the ending.
The woman unhappily looked at her reflection in the pot of simmering noodles and realized Mean Old Lack was actually staring back. Could it be? Was Mean Old Lack actually her? Was she the one holding herself back with the belief that she lacked the time, energy and knowledge? The woman quickly touched the simmering water as the monster disappeared. Then, she quietly turned off the burner, drained her noodles and threw them fast and hard with a big "Yahoo!!!" The monster named Mean Old Lack never surfaced again......and she lived happilyever after.
Let's all be honest and practical, as moms, there is never enough time and energy, but if it's in our hearts, it gets done. There will always be more knowledge to learn and more noodles to throw. The trick is to actually show up and not let yourself get in your own way.
Just as our children are our priority, so should we be a priority. So call yourself out and change the ending of your story! Throw the noodle.
The other day, my kids and I watched as two beautiful deer dined in our front yard on some shrubs. My kids were very excited. I on the other hand, was mostly hoping they wouldn't eat my hostas again. As we quietly watched them feast, my son said, "Mama, I can't believe we have reindeer in our front yard!" Since then, I have found my son with his nose pressed against the window on a few occasions searching and hoping for more "reindeer" to appear. "Hey," I said. "After camp today, let's go for a walk. I think I know a place where we can find reindeer." With that, my son's eyes lit up as he quickly gathered a few "must haves" for our Reindeer Mission.
The Reindeer Mission Essentials List
1. A camera (so we can tell our friends we actually found them).
2. A telescope (to identify reindeer tracks).
3. A pad and pencil (for doodling during our quest).
After camp, we packed a ziplock bag with the necessary tools and headed off to find the reindeer! Since we had seen them in our very own front yard, we chose a path that was close to our house. It was decided that they could not have gone too far. After all, we did have really tasty shrubs.
The camera was ready in case the reindeer surprised us. While we waited, we took some great pictures of rocks.
Then we found where the reindeer actually slept. Yes, in this pile of sticks. We were certain of it.
We knew we were getting close when we actually found some tasty shrubs (aka weeds). The same ones we had in our front yard!
And finally, we found reindeer tracks!
We looked through the telescope to make sure!
And wrote down some very important information about our Reindeer Mission.
Unfortunately, we did not see any reindeer on our Reindeer Mission.
It was dinner time and we got hungry.
Maybe next time :)
Who needs toys when you can take on the creative with your kids with something as simple as a cardboard box. There's hours of fun to be had and a chance for your kids to use their imaginations. Here are some great ways you can turn an ordinary box into a magical afternoon of creativity.
Carboard Box Car from Crafty Crow
THE RACE IS ON!
Do have your kid's birthday party coming up? Have the kids make box cars at your child's next birthday party and get the feet in gear with box car speed races! Start collecting boxes now!
Kitchen In A Box from Family Fun
IT'S DINNER TIME
If you want to get really crafty, build a kitchen out of a box. Perfect for cooking dinner alongside of you. Bring out the chef in your kids.
Cardboard Land from The Nurture Store
DISCOVER A NEW WORLDCreate a new land with your kids. It's perfect for those matchbox cars. Let your kids imaginations runs wild and ask some questions. Like what do they eat in their land? Probably a lot of ice cream :)
Food Stand from ikatbag
MAKE A STAND
Get the plastic food out and make a grocery or lemonade stand. Great for outdoor and indoor fun!
Cardboard Mail from Apartment Therapy
SEND A LETTEREveryone loves getting mail! Make a mailbox and have the whole family send letters to each other. Great for morning messages during breakfast time!
Turn that simple box into hours of fun and Take On The Creative!
Our new Stick Of The Week! is Rebecca Lazaroff and belle&beanzer. Rebecca is in the NOW as founder, designer and CEO of belle&beanzer, a line of baby clothes that strengthen the connection between parent and child through smart design. belle&beanzer invites parents the opportunity to embrace the moment with their baby.
"My business, like my life, values Integrity. Intention. Inspiration…in all we do. From the consultants and vendors that I partner with, the color and artwork selection, to the relationship with our customers. There isn't a single part of the business that isn't guided by these values."
Rebecca Lazaroff is a mom, a wife, an artist and an entrepreneur. She loves laughing, playing, dreaming, adventuring, creating, art, cooking and learning.
Tell us about your NOW (Noodle On the Wall) My dish begins after I had my second baby, Jonah. I was rushing through his diaper change, thinking about what I had to do next, half listening to my daughter, Ava and just trying to get through it. As a friend recently shared of his experience as a father, it had become transactional. I looked at my son as he looked straight back at me and thought, "Look at this little guy just literally putting himself into my hands." Then I realized how I was holding his body. In that moment, I understood that this shouldn't be a transaction, but instead, a time of connection. In this simple interaction, I was teaching care, I was nurturing and I was connecting with touch. It was a profound moment for me and became the backbone of the whole belle&beanzer line and business. I believe that dressing your child is an intimate and nurturing time of connection. The belle&beanzer line supports and reflects that point-of-view.
I've been an artist and designer in childrenswear for a long time now. So, I started sketching. Each essential garment has been modified for ease, and designed to enhance touch, connection and encourage you to embrace the moment with your child.
Our clothing is made of the softest cotton, attention to quality construction, thoughtful design details, inspiring color palette and all the artwork is hand-done by me.
For parents, you will see right away how each piece is thought out to make every day care taking easier. It will encourage you to make eye contact, touch and be in the moment with your baby. It's also great for grandparents! With our attention to smart design and streamlined construction, there are few to no snaps, zippers and buttons. Along with the gift of time to connect with your baby, it's a gift you can feel really good about giving to friends and family. We are launching for this holiday season!
Is your NOW simmering, al dente or fully cooked and why?
I'm going to say all al dente. Isn't that the perfect pasta?! The business is really almost ready for launch, but I tend to approach everything with a balance of a plan and an open mind. It's hard to move forward unless you know where you want to go, but it's hard to enjoy the adventure as a whole if you're not open to unexpected twists and turns. I have a clear idea of where I want this line to go and I'm very excited for the conversation to begin with our customers! Who knows where this will take me and the business!What recipes can you give other Creative Moms Taking On The Creative?
There is no one amazing recipe. There are helpful recipes, but the only way to make it amazing, is to add your own surprises, spices and ingredients. This is what makes it unique and authentically your recipe. I also think that once you let go of the notion of "how" it's done, you can really let it be what it is. This is coming from me, the researching queen, mind you. It's taken me a lot of life lessons to understand that this will only take you so far. So, go ahead and read the cook books. But also know that if you want to take out the basil and add crushed red pepper instead, that's OK too. It is what people are ultimately going to connect with and associate as your brand.
The other thing is to just keep going. The store may be out of the noodles you thought you wanted, or you expected them to be cooked by now. Maybe when you tested one it burned your lip, or perhaps, some sauce splattered on your wall and you've got a mess to clean up. All okay and all part of the process! The proof of the perfect dish is not about IF these mishaps, hurdles and obstacles happen or not. It WILL happen. The proof of the perfect dish is how you respond, how you improvise, how you use your innate creativity to invent new way to serve up this dish.
The Lazaroff Family
What motivated you to throw your noodle?A couple of things.......
First, absolutely my children. I'm not the first parent to have said it, but it rings true for me. My children are my inspiration. Very specifically, it was that moment I described with my son while my daughter was at my hip.
Second, being one unhappy woman commuting several hours a day to work, just knowing something was broken in their business model. I heard several times about how my being a mom was more like a handicap than one of my best strengths at work.....and I was IN the childrenswear industry! I have gotten more done in my business and in my life since I let go and let this be. I am infinitely happier, more satisfied and my husband and children are as well.
The whole family is basically a part of this. My husband, Andrew, is my biggest cheerleader, unofficially my official business consultant and overall sounding board. He is always ready with advice or strategy and 100% believes in me and the business.
My daughter has her own desk and office space set up along side of me and both of my children are witnesses to the entrepreneurial process. Even our dog Maddie is part of this. As our CSO, Chief Snoring Officer, she sits (sleeps) by my side every day and keeps me company.
What inspires you as a Mom and as a creative person?
Connection with people and the world, unruly creativity, raw vulnerable honesty that your children give to you every day, love, pure joy, snuggles, travel, laughing with my loved ones, finding beauty as much and as often as I can and embracing the moment.
How do you juggle Mamahood and your NOW?
I start out with a plan, always. I'm clear on my priorities with my life, and what is most important to me is built into every day. It doesn't mean I spend the most amount of time on it, it means that it's got time allotted to it FIRST. You've heard the saying: rocks, pebbles, sand, water... My rocks, my big important pieces land first. For me, it's my family. I have a three month plan, then I break it down monthly, and then weekly. Every friday as I end the week, I map out the following week based on my ideal schedule. Come Monday morning, I don't have to think about it, it's all there. From there, I stay flexible to changes. Life is constantly moving, so I go with it. It's not always easy and I get frustrated and stressed like everyone else. I just try to maintain clarity to see where I need to be and what I'm doing. Sometimes that means taking a break and doing something that is just for fun. It's important to have that balance. It's way too easy to fill every minute with your launching business. Also, the concept was recently introduced to me that much like we might create a contingency budget, we can do that with time as well. So, I give myself contingency time each week as well. It's there if I need it and helps me keep my flexibility.
What is your ultimate pasta dish?
My ultimate pasta dish fills my home with a familiar, comforting aroma. As I get closer, I notice something unexpected and extra delicious. I'm intrigued. What could it be? It's a quirky surprise that I adore combined with everything I've always loved. It heightens my anticipation as I set the table, looking forward to a meal I know I'll love but created with the spontaneity, newness and inspiration of a moment. It's just enough, never too much, shared with family, friends and loved ones. Best of all, it can be served up again and again. Each time with it's own special twist!
"Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there's got to be a leap of faith. Ultimately, when you're at the edge, you have to go forward or backward; if you go forward, you have to jump together." - Yo -Yo Ma
My daughter turned one last week. She has five teeth, about to start walking any day now and her favorite thing to do is wave. Not just any old sloppy wave, mind you. She's got a wave even the Queen would be envious of. It's pretty hilarious. So, last week as my little Queen turned one, I reflected on the day she was born. A day I jumped forward with a little faith.
But let's rewind. At twenty weeks into my pregnancy, my husband and I were told that our little girl had a condition called clubbed feet. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a common malformation of the feet. Basically, the feet are turned in sharply and up so that it seems the ankle is what is used to walk with.
I can still remember the anxiety, the terror, the tears as we were told the unfortunate news. But the worst part was that we had no answers. The doctors could not tell us how bad her feet were, they didn't know why this happened and they were not sure if she was going to have other problems. I had no idea what to expect or how to fix it. My baby had clubbed feet and all I could do was wait. Wait for the unknown. For me, there's nothing scarier than that.
At first, that fear got the best of me. I quickly got myself stuck in the quick sand of worry and panic over an outcome I could not control. Until one day, I decided I couldn't live like this anymore. I pulled myself out of the sand by doing the things I had control over. I found specialists, set up appointments and read anything I could get my hands on. Then, I did the only thing left to do. I decided to have faith. Faith in my little girl. I knew she was going to have a bumpy start, but fear was not going to help anyone. So, I took a giant leap and chose, for the sake of my baby, to jump forward with a little faith.
Unfortunately, we all know life is not always easy. But it's how you deal with the challenges that counts. Not every noodle you throw is going to stick perfectly and sometimes, it can feel overwhelming when you have no control over it. But remember, you do have control over how you decide to proceed. You can give into the quick sand or you can take the leap.
My daughter had a tough start, but with faith in our hearts, she is now cruising with her feet firmly planted on the floor. Now, when the noodles fall, I just take one look at my little Queen waving with her toothy smile, and I'm reminded to keep jumping forward every day with a little faith.
I'm sitting here writing this post with a bag of ice on my toosh and dipping my hand in ice water in between sentences. I guess you could say I'm pretty dedicated to this blog.
Well, let me tell you how I got myself into this predicament of sorts.
My son decided we needed to dig a hole to China. "Great idea!" I enthusiastically replied as I found two shovels and the perfect spot to dig. I suggested we dig next to our side porch because no matter what I do, nothing ever grows there. "We're going on an adventure! We're digging ourselves out of New York and into China!" I cheered. Sometimes, we're not sure who the real kid is here. Anyway, my son wasn't listening. My little man was focused. Determined. In his head, China was just another dig away and I was distracting him with my babble. "Mama!" He excitedly shouted as a new idea formulated in his head. "I think we'll have to build a tunnel so we can slide DOWN to China!"
Don't ask me how he was coming up with any of this, but I was loving every minute. But as we dug our little hearts out, anticipating a new venture, the fun abruptly ended. All of a sudden, as I leaned over my shovel, I felt a sharp zing on my toosh. "Ouch!" I squealed. I quickly dropped the shovel and grabbed my behind. Then, another painful zing on my hand. I screamed, "I've been bitten!" My poor son didn't know what to do. He watched as I ran like a chicken with my head cut off with one hand on my buns and the other swatting the air.
When I finally was able to get my son and myself inside the house, he asked, "Who bit you Mama!?" He looked out the window searching for a bear, a snake, maybe even a dinosaur. But there was nothing. "Sorry. I wasn't making much sense. I got stung by a bee hun," I replied. "Oh." He said a little disappointed.
No bear, no snake and no dinosaur was lurking in our backyard today. Just a nasty, grumpy old bee who did not want us going to China.
My son LOVES a good art project. Basically, anything he can doodle, color, paint and stick with glue is up there on the fun meter. Of course, I love to keep ALL his masterpieces, but with school, camp and home projects overflowing the art drawer and fridge these days, we decided an Art Gallery would be the best way to keep our favorites. Here are some great ways to display your kid's favorite artwork while encouraging the great artist in them.
BULLETIN BOARD ART
If your child has just too many great masterpieces, here's an easy way to rotate the art. Change the art and have art shows every month with your family!
CLEAN AND SIMPLE
Add a focal point to your room with similar frames and beautiful art made by your kids.
GO BIG!Do you have a really big wall or long hallway? Go crazy BIG with your kid's art and make a statement. They'll love to see their work on display.
CLIPBOARD ART Display daily artwork at your art station on clipboards. Great for the, "Mom is making dinner so I'll color or draw" masterpieces.
Take On The Creative with your kids and Make An Art Gallery!