Blank White Paper

(Warning: I just woke up and and reread this posting and it actually may really act like a self indulgent journal entry)

Yesterday I listened to a thief open the heavy squeaky wooden parents drawer of the family desk, removed what sounded like many sheets of


artist: Jeff B. Davis

copy paper, and return to her bedroom, locking the door behind her. Shortly thereafter I heard the crunch of the stapler. She’d returned to get it too. Then with a few quick bouncy steps I heard a leap land and a slam of the door, too loud for such a sneaky thief. Clearing my throat I went to retrieve the last of the copy paper, it’s tax time in our house.

“You cannot take the last of the paper”…I began. “No. No! No!!” She said scowling at me while stuffing the papers into her rumpled bed. The stapler was trapped out of sight. “Give me those papers NOW please.” This continued until I agreed to let her have five sheets, because she’s five years old I reasoned to her. She agreed to return the last of the crumpled paper and the stapler even though she was certain five sheets was not enough for the book she was making, but it will have to do today. Geez lousie…

Call me a scrimper, but she does have her own wealth of property. Her alotted desk drawer is  deeper than mine and heavy with enticing colorful treasures: fairy princess coloring books, origami paper, construction paper, paper dolls, sticker pads, the pretty stationary she’d received from her aunt. I know this because she and I cleaned it out last month and she hugged every wonderful thing in her drawer. We cleaned and stacked  all the coloring books from largest to smallest, high-fived, shut the drawer, and she never opened it again because, I suppose, it doesn’t have any blank white paper.

We people, who have children we love, try to provide everything we can to help them grow healthy, happy, and to discover their potential.  So after this scenario I had to ask myself, am I distracting my child’s self motivation with my own collection of paper doll experiences, princess advertisements and cultural messages? My daughter prefers to draw her own lines and make up her own story lines rather than color inside someone else’s.  It’s just her way. I love this about her, though wonder why I keep adding items to a drawer that remains closed. What IS my motivation?  But really, what child would prefer a ream of copy paper for their birthday instead of one of those stunning coloring books and special painting markers?

On the other side of this thought is knowing that children must learn to color within the lines. It’s an important acknowledgement that we have to defer to our teachers (all types of them) and set aside our own own ideas in order to learn, grow, and (yes, let’s admit it) fit in. And the counter balance to that is providing them with a time to be open. So recently, I’ve agreed that when my children return home, there will be a time and space where they can go their own way. In our home I’ve found that this occurs best when the screens are turned off followed by a brief episode of wining and admitting “I’m bored…”. I give it 10 minutes, and the ideas sprout and grow rapidly. For my son and his three buddies, the backyard becomes a space battleship developed from sticks and a few foam noodles.

Children don’t need much to be happy. I know you’ve heard that so many times before. It’s plastered everywhere. But do we give too much to the point that it’s wasteful and distracting? Are we…am I, nurturing a need for immediate gratification when I pile the drawers with coloring books and markers and crayons of every color?

A child has shown me again that less is more, and that kids are often capable of greater things than we ourselves can imagine. So, this birthday:

  1. Ream of blank white paper
  2. Flintline stapler.
  3. Markers (maybe the glittery kind…maybe not)

Done. She’ll love it.


Firefly Season Calls for a Fairy Teepee!

IMG_1406 OK practical penny pinching parents and grandparents, looking for a way to trot through the dog days of summer with your kids? Well when we see the first fireflies they always remind us of the fairies and so this year we decided to build a fairy house, or teepee in this case. We kept it simple, but they can be as elaborate as your imagination care to go.

Now fairies, or faeries you might say, don’t need much, but I’ve read they do prefer protection from the elements, a nice bed, a little water, and perhaps a flower or two. I find that children of all ages are more in tuned to fairy needs that I am, so they of course are the primary consultants.

Here are the materials we used,  found in and around our house, as I’m sure you’ll find similar in yours.

  1. 6 bamboo sticks which we snapped to match in size, chopsticks would work too.
  2. Green twine– but rope, thread, yarn, string, any of these would work.
  3. One yellow baby t-shirt, with the sleeves cut off, and cut half way up the middle as the opening for the door. We also cut a blanket, pillow and towel out of this shirt, a 3 year olds idea.
  4. Flowers, and leaves, to decorate
  5. Small pebbles for a path
  6. A little cup to offer the fairy water

IMG_1402IMG_1403IMG_1408IMG_1409IMG_1410IMG_1406        So, pull together several sticks, teepee style and bind at the top with your     chosen cord. Open the base of the bound sticks up and push into the dirt. These can also be made indoors or in a flower pot, since fairies also live in large cities. (-: Then you or the children can cut the sleeves off the T Shirt and cut a line up the middle for the door. I cut out an upside down V shape so the door would remain open. 

Now that your structure is built you can decorate with flowers and greenery, or jewelry and things that shine to get the attention of the little creatures. Children have good intuition for these types of things. My small daughter asked me to make a blanket and pillow out of the shirt and she found a leaf for a bed. Then she made a small book for the fairy to read. And my son collected small rocks for a path and found wires in case we wanted to wire it up for electricity. Afterward my daughter brought her own small dolls to explore it.

Elsie Wright with a fairy

Elsie Wright with a fairy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love this project so much for many reasons. For one, it was what I liked to do as a child. It makes a child consider what’s important to them for comfort. It’s more diverse than just blocks; it seems and looks real. It takes problem solving skills and patience and creativity.  Also it can take a half hour to set up, or it can be the beginning to a long term project. It’s like a self made story unfolding and really holds my children’s attention for a long time. And it’s a great way for an adult to enter a childs world on their terms.

I’d love to hear about your Fairy Homes! Please let us know.

Creative Glories of Hunting Through the Goodwill, or Goodwill Goodfuns


Edgar J. Helms a Methodist Minister and social innovator in Boston, Mass opened the first Goodwill in 1902. What a brilliant man he was. He invented my favorite kind of tool, a thing which has a complete cycle and serves everyone. From donation, to creating labor, to selling donation to fund the operation, to pay for labor, who generate donations, it’s a perfect revolution.

Wikipedia cites” In this pledge, Goodwill promises to fulfill the goals of success within each individual:

“We at Goodwill Industries will be satisfied only when every person in the global community has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential as an individual and to participate and contribute fully in all aspects of a productive life.”

But all that History aside, we get to have fun with all the creative benefits, a store full of potentially fun things to recycle and use. A found objects paradise! And if your creative idea turns out to be uglier that Aunt Ra-Ra’s macrame plant hanger, then your not strapped for cash on your next project.

So here’s my latest Goodwill Goodfun, for my daughter who is needing a lamp in her bedroom:

One $ 2.00 Lamp Base + One $ 2.00 Dented Ivory Lamp Shade

and note this simple white lamp base with a clean classical shape would be beautiful in any decor, not just on goofy lamps. When shopping, don’t overlook simple designs.

 IMG_1388 IMG_1391


PLUS, 2 bags of 50 cent colored puff balls, (and I had the glue gun, they run about 5.00, new. I’d avoid buying them used…..)




Here’s how it looks all it up! She loved it, and it cost 5 bucks. Yeah! Now we can afford that.  It’s not a style for everyone, but if your starving to do something creative, go peruse through your local Goodwill and see what magic you can find….


(WARNING: You already know this, but if you should try this at home please use low wattage bulbs and large shades for safety)