Art with Kids: Frida & Diego

My little lady loves art. And I love art history. So when she expresses interest in learning about artists and reading art books, I'm on it. I recently decided to introduce her to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky features beautifully illustrated pictures in the style of Frida Kahlo.

Jonah Winter's Frida includes imagery found in Frida Kahlo's art work.

Duncan Tonatiuh's style mimics that of Rivera's famous murals. 

These are great children's books about two wonderful artists. To show my little lady some of the actual art works, I let her look at some of my Taschen art books.

And here is a great online resource to view some of Frida Kahlo's works, and this of Diego Rivera's art from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

We haven't been able to do any special projects based on the art of these artists (thanks, school!). But I have some fun ideas for exploring the art of Frida and Diego with kids: 
- paint like Frida did on her own body cast after one of her many surgeries. Put a piece of cardboard or even a canvas on your child's torso and have him/her try to paint on it while lying on his/her back. Do this outside on a nice day! (I can only imagine the mess…) 
-make a self portrait a la Frida with lots of personal symbols 
-make a flower headband like Frida 
-tape paper to the wall and let the kids go to town making a mural like Diego. Put it in a room where you don't mind it being up for a while so they can come back and work on it over a few days/weeks (not years, like Diego). 

Here is my pin board with some more Diego and Frida art resources/activities. 

Have fun with it! 

I'm so enjoying this age where we can explore some of our interests with our kids. 

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Etsy Finds: I'm Just Here for the Boos

I'm loving Halloween this year. My little man said he loves Halloween because of the pumpkins, because they're his favorite color. He helped me put out some Halloween decorations in the dining room yesterday and just got so excited about it all, it made me excited too. 

Here are some of my favorite Halloween finds from Etsy. 

Loving this shirt.

Everyone Halloween needs the Sanderson Sisters.

Cool Halloween party invitations

Something about these bags just reminds me of Halloween parties in elementary school. 

This little witch seems like she has a story to tell. 

And what kind of child of the 80s would I be without these guys? That Dracula McNugget is cracking me up. 

What are you doing for Halloween this year?


Radio Silence in Times of Anxiety

I started blogging again last year and I was really enjoying it, until anxiety got the better of me. And I just stepped away. For 11 months.

I've always been anxious. Some of you who have known me for years may recall my phobia of going into banks and gas stations (you know, I was expecting to be a casualty of an armed robbery gone awry). And remember in high school when I didn't get my driver's license until I was almost 17? (You know, I was pretty sure I was going to kill someone with my car.) There is possibility and probability, and my anxious brain cannot discern the difference between the two.

My anxiety has increased since having children. You know that saying about your heart walking around outside your body? Incredibly difficult for an anxious soul. And of course, dealing with Mr. MIB's Crohn's and emergency surgery and other hospitalizations hasn't helped. In fact, after the first surgery, I'm pretty sure I had a bit of PTSD for a long time. I'd just had my first baby and my husband almost died. I came unhinged emotionally for a long time, all the while keeping everyone alive and trying to move forward. Throw in a miscarriage and everything went sideways for a long time. I was convinced that every time he left for work, it was the last time I would see him. Something could happen with his guts or he could get into a terrible car accident. So I would wash dishes and think about managing two kids as an unemployed widow, working it through in my head. Thanks, anxiety! (Again, possibility vs. probability…)

Last fall, my anxiety reached peak levels. I experienced months of heart palpitations -- stress test turned out fine. I went into hypersomnia mode -- when I get super stressed, I just sleep. Which helps nothing and actually makes things worse.

And then it happened. Twice. I was driving the kids to school and had a panic attack. 2X. I wasn't particularly stressed, wasn't thinking about anything stressful. But I could barely get us to school, an 8 minute drive down the street. Twice in two weeks.

And then I did something that I don't normally do. I asked for help. I went to my doctor and said I needed something. Enter Lexapro.

Ahh, Lexapro. I had never been pro-medication for mental/emotional issues until my own anxiety became crippling.

It's been almost a year now and I'm feeling so much better. It's like the volume of the constant buzz of anxiety has been turned down by the medication. I can still get wound up with "what if" scenarios, but now I can escape them much sooner, not spending days and days dwelling on remote possibilities and self-concocted anxieties.

My doctor asked if I'd like to keep taking it -- yes, please! The first month was rough as I swung too far to relaxed and didn't care to keep up with my household duties and experienced some other not so great side effects (goodbye, libido). But after that first month, I adjusted to the medication and everything normalized, but this new normal was not nearly as anxious. What a difference it has made.

If you're dealing with anxiety, depression, etc, please don't be afraid to ask for help. I'm so glad I did.


Thoughts on Daily Rituals and Containing Chaos

I just finished reading Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey last night. It was a fun and easy read consisting of one to two page articles on different creatives (architects, writers, painters, composers, etc) and how they work.

Did they sleep in or get up early? Did they nap? How did they eat? Who was involved in their creative process? Where did they work?

The last artist featured was Bernard Malamud. I haven't read any of his works. From all accounts, he was disciplined and developed rituals that enabled his creative work. When asked by an interviewer about his rituals, he explained that discipline is key, but that you are who you are, even developing the best of habits won't turn you into someone else. What struck me was this:

"Eventually everyone learns his or her own best way. The real mystery is to crack you."

These words have been sitting with me. He was specifically referring to writers, and possibly other creatives. While I have always enjoyed creative pursuits, I am far from an artist. I dabble in hobby crafts. At best.

But when am I going to crack the mystery of me?

What I am trying to find my best way in is my home and my family. In being a better person. Since the beginning of the school year this year, I have felt off, run ragged, like I'm failing. I can't get up early enough or stay up late enough to do X or Y. My house is always a wreck, and my kitchen counter always covered by a mountain of paper and random items left, en route to another location. Eventually.

Projects left half finished, stuff piling up everywhere.

The mystery I'm trying to crack is me. What am I doing to make this better? Make it worse? What is making me tired? Is it me? Is the problem me? Is the solution me?

Is the self-centered nature of my inquiry the problem? ...

The few disciplined actions that I do engage in have helped with the feeling of chaos.

Using a planner helps. I have to write it down or I will forget about it, and I prefer paper. For a few weeks, I was forgetting to turn in library books on time. A minor thing, I know, but it was making me crazy to fail at something so small. Our library even sends out email reminders before the books are due. No reason to ever forget. And the library is conveniently located between our house and the kids' school. No reason to not return them. I just didn't. Now I write in my planner on the day books are due "X books due". Then I can look on the app or on my email and see which ones. Hooray for progress, albeit tiny.

Getting up earlier than everyone else helps. If I can start the day prepared, then I feel better. (See my post on managing mornings with kids for more tips on being prepared for the day ahead.) But with darker and colder mornings, I'm pretty much kissing that goodbye until spring.

Not procrastinating helps. I am the queen procrastinator. When I was a kid, I would clean out individual drawers before cleaning piles of clothes or toys covering my bedroom floor. Surprisingly, not much has changed there. So now I try to act the first time. Open mail and shred, recycle, pay the bill. Move an article of clothing not from one chair to the next, but from a chair to a hamper or a drawer or the closet. On a hanger. I'm not doing this 100% of the time, but when I do it even some, it helps so much. Touch it once.

I'm trying not to panic before the holiday whirlwind starts, but every day life feels like a lot right now.

Does everyone feel this way this time of year? Most of the time? How do you manage the chaos? What daily rituals do you have to help make your day and your work-- creative or otherwise-- better? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

(*This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.)