🐸My Etsy Sh🌎p🐸

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beauty in the World

 "Every child has the right to know that there is beauty in the world." - Isaac Stern

Last Friday evening, I went to a ballet recital for 2-7 year olds.  As I snapped pictures of my little ballerina in the corridor, this quote was on the wall above her.

I can honestly say that the words that someone painstakingly scribed onto the wall of that elementary school hallway wall have haunted me for days.  Sometimes, we lose ourselves in the pace of the day to day, only see what is directly around us.  That overscheduled calendar dictates our movements.

But that quote forced the Big Picture into focus.
 Early childhood is IN me; it's part of who I am.  I have been "teaching" kids since I was 12 years old. They needed a Sunday School teacher for the 3 year old class and no one could do it, so I stepped in. I quickly learned (by the seat of my pants!) classroom management, engagement, making learning fun. It became a passion for me.  Me and children are like magnets! We just seem to find each other everywhere - the classroom, the street, the grocery store.  When people who know me speak of me, it's always about my work in the early education field.
 Though I did not know it, I grew up poor.  We had enough.  I always had food, a beautiful home, and clothes. But by most standards, we were poor.  Financially, we did not have money, but we were not in poverty.  My father often worked his full-time factory job and then side jobs to make sure that his family of five was always taken care of.

When I moved to "the big city" as my grandma called it, I saw poverty.  I saw children needing the basics - food, clothing, education, books read to them, a safe home. I worked in a low income preschool and after care program.  I more than once bought diapers for a single parent or food for a family to take home for the weekend as I knew there was nothing in their cupboards.

I felt God's hand pushing me to embrace these children, to help them, to educate them, to read so so many books to them, to spark their love of learning.

I think teaching preschool has been among my greatest accomplishments.
Thanks in part to that quote written on an elementary school wall, I am feeling His nudge again - a nudge to do something. Something bigger.  Something for those in need. Something to give back.  I don't know why (honestly, I don't), but Africa keeps coming to mind.  As I am writing this, I feel a sense of "yes!" and need to explore this calling.  I know that there is work to be done here close to home and in the US.  I do.
I believe that children have the right to education, clean water, food, books, love, art. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if children knew the beauty in the world? There is so much chaos and ugliness in the world, but there is also beauty and kindness and amazing people. How am I going to change the world today? How am I going to change the world of a child today? I guess this post will have to end "to be continued".

Have a fun and playful day,
Mel

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Play Dough Perfect Play

 Early childhood education will always have a special place in my heart.  I taught preschool for 12+ years and loved it so much!
 I used to tell parents, "Play isn't rocket science, but it is IMPORTANT."
 Two of the most beneficial things that parents can do with their child:
1.) Read
Read lots of books. Read all types of books.  Read all the time.
2.) Play Dough
The benefits of play dough outweigh any mess that may occur.  Child are squeezing and pinching and poking and rolling play dough.  These actions are strengthening their small muscles in their fingers that will someday soon need to be strong enough to hold and control a pencil to write their letters, their name, the next great American novel!  :)
 Play dough brings out the imagination.  This morning, in a matter of 30 minutes, Roo made a forest scene, a nest, and an ocean.
 My friend Kira @z_dough makes wonderful wonderful wonderful scents in her play dough.  This morning, we played with Blueberry, Wntergreen, and Eucalyptus.
 Did you know that smells "awaken the brain" to learning?  They do!  Why not incorporate smells (good ones!) into play?  Children will be using the sense of smell and touch when playing with ZDough.
Play is important.
Play does not have to be complicated.
Books.
Play Dough.
Splashing in water.
Finger paints.
Pretend play.
Don't over think it.  Let your child take the lead. See what interests them and play along! As I always say, the play possibilities are endless.

Have a fun and playful day!
Mel

zdough.etsy.com
@z_dough on Instagram

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Art of Play

The art of play is mastered by children.

Toys do not need to have bells and whistles to entertain them.  Let them entertain themselves.  Simple, quality toys lend themselves to more creative, imaginative play.

Studies show that children with an active imagination who engage in pretend play are happier, healthier, and mentally healthier.

Children utilize play as a tool to understand the big, confusing world around them, to act out scenarios, to escape from reality, to make sense of everything they cannot control.

Let them play.  Let them be little. If you need to schedule time for them to just play, do that.  Even better, get down on the floor with them and make funny voices for the toys, but allow them to "lead" the play.  Let them guide where it goes. You can ask questions like, "what should we do next?" or "how do you think we should play."

Children are rarely in control in this world (except for that temper tantrum in Target!). By letting them take the lead of the play scenario, they feel in control, become confident, relax, and engage fully with you.

I have 20+ years of teaching in the early childhood field.  These are just a few random thoughts that I have on the subject of play.  I am going to be better about posting.  The blog has taken a backseat for a while - through Etsy chaos, family medical issues, and...well, Life.

Have a fun and playful day!
Mel

Monday, February 13, 2017

Baby it's cold outside

This crazy Ohio weather has been up and down. One day it was 56 and the next day it was 19! Well, weather aside, I have been sewing sewing sewing up a storm (maybe this crazy weather is MY fault!😂).

I am trying to find a balance between creativity and a clean house! I tend to paint and sew and photograph everything all in a whirlwind and my home ends up looking like a tornado blew through! I am also trying to find a balance of keeping the Etsy shop momentum going while staying present in my family's lives. It is all a balancing act.

The dream of traveling to Europe is close. My mother in law and I plan to travel next spring if all is well. I worry about the political scene and traveling abroad. My mother in law has the same worries. We tend to be in the same page as each other most of the time.

Thank God my husband is fully supportive in all that I do. The living room is a mess...okay. I have peg dolls all over the kitchen table...so what? I have a pile of felt on the couch...no problem. He really is a saint!  So, last night, while he was at school working on lesson plans, I turned up some music, danced barefoot in the kitchen, and tidied up. It felt good - the tidying AND the dancing!

I think my secret to doing everything I do is 1) I never do dishes :), 2) I only do what I can do in one day. Some days, I pray as much as I breathe. Some days, I cry more than I should:) just because I realize that I am indeed NOT Winder Woman! I set small goals and accomplish as many of those as I can. I keep it simple. I drink a lot of caffeine!

Just a few things I wanted to share.

Have a fun and playful day
Mel

Monday, January 16, 2017

Weathered Forest

Maybe it is something deeply rooted in my childhood, but the forest has always captured my imagination.  In the hills of southeastern Ohio, my bare feet ran on mossy carpet, canopies of tall oak trees shielded me from the sun, and woodland smells tickled my nose.

I think about children who grow up in the city and how they may never know the simple treasure of growing up with a forest in your backyard like I did.  Maybe, just maybe, through my imagination-sparking toys, I can give them those treasure, too.

I live in a fairytale world. I really do.  My husband is part Prince Charming, part Constant Encourager.  I make things with my hands.  I create toys.  That's pretty fairytale like if you ask me.  I have an amazing family and extended family, who all support my craft.

If I dare to dream for more (which sometimes seems selfish), I would dream of travel. I want to see the world and translate it into toys to spark more imaginations.

I love the pins that Pinterest picks for me.  Yesterday, they picked the word Meraki - to do something with soul, creativity, love; to put something of yourself into your work.  I think that word is so fitting for me.  Melanie/Meraki

So, I am going to "put this out in the universe" as they say.  My goal for this year is to create more (not sure when I will sleep!), to open my Amazon Handmade store, to travel. My goals also include encouraging & empowering the women in my life more this year, cooking more (Heaven help us!), and donating to more causes that are special to my heart.

Do you make resolutions? Or do you set goals?

Have a fun and playful day!
Mel

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Looking forward to 2017

Michelangelo said, "I saw an angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free." I am no Michelangelo by any means. But I do see the possibilities in a flat piece of felt or a colorful bauble.

I want to make 2017 more purposeful, more memorable, more than I imagined. I have so many things I want to create, so many places that I want to travel, so many possibilities.

Everything I create is hand sewn or hand painted with the purpose to bring joy to a child. I dream of taking my toys to orphanages around the world and doing good.

Everything that happened yesterday in Berlin makes my heart break. How children cope with and make sense of situations and their world is through play. I have felt for a while that I need to do more.

I want to write another book in 2017. I want to travel. I want to make some really good memories and take some really good photos. I am looking forward to 2017.

Have a fun and playful day
Mel

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mom and Tot Box

 Mom and Tot Box is a subscription that brings something for the child and something for the mom delivered to your front door each month.
I was happy to be a part of the October box. My large peg doll and boat AND my 3 little red houses & tree were all part of the little treasure box.

I love seeing pictures of children engaged with my toys. My heart is full to the point of bursting at these photos!

Have a fun and playful day
Mel