Saturday Event: Storytime at Carmel Valley Library

March 13, 2015 @ 6:52 am | Filed under: Author stuff, Events

foxandcrowarenotfriends1

Join Fox and Crow and me for Storytime at Carmel Valley Library in North County Saturday, March 14 at 4pm!



Authors Virginia Loh and Sid Shapira will also be reading from their books tomorrow afternoon (check with the library for their event times).

“…wake to the wonder of this grass”

March 12, 2015 @ 8:16 am | Filed under: Art, Assorted and Sundry, Commonplace Book

christmascactus0315

Ours is in bloom this very day, as it happens

“Our Christmas cactus has predictably bloomed each December for three decades and some years when it has been colder for longer, as is the case this year, it often blooms more than once a year. Our Christmas cactus is alive and growing 365 days of the year, most of which it is rarely seen by me but only looked at.”

That’s Owen Swain in his post “Blooming Cactus / blooming an illustrated life / and, what I learned in Sketchbook Skool.”

In his drawing of the cactus, he includes a quote which sent me immediately dashing for my commonplace book (which is to say, this blog).

“While drawing grasses I learn nothing ‘about’ grass, but wake to the wonder of this grass and its growing, to the wonder that there is grass at all.”

—Frederick Franck

That. Yes. Exactly. Or at least, I suppose I would say I learn something about grass when I’m drawing it, I learn something about everything I look at closely. But that kind of learning is implied in the quote. I get what he means by ‘about.’ And yes, the waking to the wonder of a thing by observing it quietly, moving your pen along its paths, or by writing a poem about it (“This grasshopper, I mean—/ the one who has flung herself out of the grass,/ the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—/ who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes…”)*; even, I daresay, by blogging about it—the combined act of observing, pondering, and then expressing, in word or line—these endeavors shift your relationship with the humble object; they awaken you to the wonder the thing actually is.

The very first revelation that struck me about drawing, way back in college during a too-brief foray into sketching, was the passage in the Betty Edwards book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain in which one of Betty’s students mentioned that after she began trying to draw faces, “every face I looked at seemed beautiful to me.” I have written before about the enormous impact that statement had on me, not just in relation to drawing but to an overall view of life.

The drawing lessons taught her to really look at people, and when she did, she saw beauty everywhere.

I know I’m going all over the place here, but in my mind these things are all connected: this way of really looking, really seeing, noticing what is interesting and important and even beautiful about things many people whisk by without noticing. And what I can do for my children is refuse to fill up their lives with things they must patiently endure until a better moment comes. I can savor the moments as they happen, and give them the time and space to find what’s interesting and beautiful in every face the world shows them.

As I was writing that last sentence, Beanie appeared in front of me with a big smile and a present: a bracelet made of safety pins linked together, each pin shining with green and blue beads. “It’s for you, Mommy,” she breathed, so proud and excited. “Jane showed me how.” How patiently (the good kind of patience) she must have worked to slide all those beads in place.

I never noticed before what a work of art a safety pin is!

I’ve written so many times on this blog about how my approach to education is to keep the focus on the process, not the product. The lesson is renewed for me every time I take pencil in hand and try to capture the lines of a thing on my page. In the end, it doesn’t matter at all how my drawing ‘turns out.’ The magic is in the doing.

*From “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver

March Moments

March 11, 2015 @ 4:10 pm | Filed under: Family Adventures

sakura

Taken at the Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park. No filter on that sky! Just pure San Diego blue.

 

I started to write a list of all the things that have kept me too busy to blog in the past week, and just contemplating such a mammoth catalog of events was exhausting—forget writing about it. Suffice to say it’s a good busy?

But I ought to jot down the highlights before they blur away into the past.

1. The last first loose tooth. ::sniffle::

2. After being rained out several Mondays in a row (to our vast astonishment, for we had all but forgotten such a thing as rain exists), we finally got to take Beanie on a promised trip to Balboa Park—just Bean, Scott, and me—for a museum ramble and lunch at the Japanese Tea House. Utterly delightful day. Rose stayed home and baked cookies with the littles, so there was contentment all round. We meant to visit the Mingei but I forgot to check its hours and yep, Monday’s the day it’s closed. Not a problem—not at Balboa Park. We walked across the way to the Museum of Man, which we hadn’t visited since our first year here. (A visit that sparked what is probably my favorite post I’ve ever written on this blog.)

3. Saturday’s Reading Week event at the New Children’s Museum was loads of fun. Wound up reading a total of five books (four of them mine, plus a Peter Rabbit board book that one little girl begged for most earnestly, and who can resist that?) to two groups of children. What a gorgeous space. And the Learn2Earn folks, who organized the author visits, were awesome. Enjoyed chatting with them. Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame had a slot earlier in the day.

I have several more events scheduled this month. I’ll be ready for some low tide in April! Though not perhaps on the homeschooling front. We’re having too much fun with Big History Project (Bean & Rose) and American Tall Tales (Huck & Rilla).

I dunno, do you guys think I'm wearing my wings too low?

I dunno, do you guys think I’m wearing my wings too low?

Danny Gregory interviewed me about one of my favorite subjects: making art with kids

March 8, 2015 @ 7:59 am | Filed under: Art

Sketchbook Skool Q&Art video interview

Well, this was quite a treat. My recent post on ways to encourage a family art habit caught the eye of folks at Sketchbook Skool, which led to my being interviewed by Danny Gregory for a Q&Art video. As an eager viewer of this excellent video series, I was delighted to find myself chatting with an artist whose books and classes (I mean klasses) have been a tremendous source of inspiration and education for me. What a joy. Danny asked me for advice on encouraging creativity in children—one of my pet topics, as you know!

(Not included in the video: the two minutes of Rilla bouncing up and down in her overwhelming glee at meeting Danny, one of her heroes, via Skype just before we began the recording. She was absolutely starstruck. :) )

(direct link)

Join Me Saturday at the New Children’s Museum in San Diego

March 6, 2015 @ 1:16 pm | Filed under: Author stuff, Events

Inch and RolyI’ll be doing a Storytime event at 2pm tomorrow (Saturday, March 7). Hope to see you and your kids there!

 

 

We bite stupid people

February 28, 2015 @ 5:07 pm | Filed under: Nature Study

That was the sign tacked onto the rail at Oceanside Pier, right next to this fellow. I was within arm’s reach before I noticed him.

pelican

Rose wants to know if she can hang the same sign on her bedroom door.

Upcoming Events

February 25, 2015 @ 4:50 pm | Filed under: Author stuff

March 4 is World Read-Aloud Day

Inch and RolyI’ll be celebrating with several special events in the San Diego area this month.

March 7, 2pm
Storytime at The New Children’s Museum to celebrate Reading Week. Join me for a read-aloud of Fox and Crow Are Not Friends and Inch and Roly and the Sunny Day Scare!

March 13, all day
Greater San Diego Reading Association Author’s Fair, Kimball Elementary School, National City

March 14, 4pm
Learn2Earn Readathon Event at Carmel Valley Library

March 19, 5:30pm
Toler Literacy Night • featured speaker

***

Join me in Mankato, Minnesota this June for the
Deep Valley Homecoming

June 26-30, 2015
I will be a featured speaker at this very special Betsy-Tacy event. Hope to see you there!

Education junkie

February 24, 2015 @ 9:25 pm | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff

coursera

I’m always amused when the Coursera “recommended for you” email arrives and I get to see who their algorithm thinks I am this time. Coursera-Melissa has wonderfully eclectic tastes, doesn’t she?

I must say that Australian literature class looks mighty enticing. I’m sure the Planet Earth course came up because of the several climate change classes I’ve taken. Proooobably not going to squeeze any Econ into my schedule, though. ;) And as for learning C#, I’ll leave that to my daughter the computer science major.

If you’re looking for a lit class, I can highly recommend “Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction” with UVa prof Bruce Holsinger. I took that one last year and found it top-notch. Holsinger is an engaging lecturer and he brought in a lot of interesting writers for Q&A interviews.

I’m afraid to click around on the site too much right now, since I have a crazy amount of stuff on my plate this spring and I’m not likely to have much extra reading time. Still…I find the course lectures are most excellent listening material while I’m cleaning or (lately) sketching. Couldn’t hurt just to sign up for the Aussie lit class, could it? A little something to listen to while I’m scrubbing the bathroom floor?

True story

February 22, 2015 @ 1:10 pm | Filed under: Family

Swiped from Scott’s Facebook:

My wife looks skeptically at the gorgonzola. “How can you tell if that’s still good or not?” the 14-year-old asks.

“I don’t know,” Lissa says. “It’s moldy and it smells like feet, so it’s probably okay.”