Featuring colorist Ronda Francis

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Is Your Kid a Nerd? GOOD!

Years ago if you were a bookworm, band kid, or if you had a pair of glasses with dark, square frames, you could be considered a nerd.

Being a nerd could get you picked on, relegate you to a terrible school experience, and cause every member of the opposite sex to run for the hills.Nerds on television shows were constantly being made-over so they would appear acceptable and suddenly popular. 

Right now it is hip to be square, and being a nerd or geek is in. People emulate the smart and science-ish, so times are not as hard for the un-mainstream. Find some cool geek sites HERE.

Not too long ago kids could be teased for staring at a computer screen for hours on end, or practicing the drums, or drawing in their sketchbooks. Parents worried that these kids were not outside until the streetlights came on like the other kids on the block. They did not want to play football, dodge ball, or ANY ball for that matter. They had puzzles to solve, codes to figure, and only so many hours in the day. 

Geeks and nerds do not obsess about how they look, they do not stand in front of the mirror wondering if they are worthy. Drinking and smoking at night when they go out with friends? Probably not--they are more likely to be taking things apart and looking for new and interesting ways to put them back together. Happily, they are far too busy inventing, creating, and figuring to stress over image or trying cigarettes to fit in with the cool kids.

Some famous NERDS and GEEKS

Tim Burton
Being a geek and a loner was one of the best thing that ever happened to the film world. Burton spent time alone as a kid developing and using his creativity. He had plenty of hours to delve into the dark corners of his personality. Without him or his wonderful geekiness we would not have Edward Scissorhands, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, or any of the other dark and delightful movies his nerd-brain invented.

Nicola Tesla
Neon lights, remote control, the modern electric motor,  radar, and arguably the light bulb are all attributed to Tesla. He was also the inadvertent father of radio astronomy and builder of the first hydroelectric plant at Niagra Falls. He worked on and held patents for information that would later be used to develop transistors which have revolutionized electronics, (thanks for the info Dad!), 100 years before the actual invention. The list goes on. 

Steve Jobs
No need for an explanation here, many of you are probably reading this on an Apple product. But his geekdom started in a garage where he started his computer company in 1976. 

Bill Gates
During his time in high school, a local computer company offered the students computer time. A fundraising club used their proceeds to buy a teletype terminal for the students, and Bill Gates spent much of his free time learning there and working at the terminal. 

So don't be concerned if your kids aren't the perfect definition of popular, or if they have interests that you might not consider mainstream.

They could be working on something to change the world. Be proud of who they are, pocket protectors and all.

And truly, the GEEK shall inherit the earth.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Style from the Forest

Although I am over 50, I still have a penchant for certain styles. As an artist, muted colors, animals, and flowers still make my heart flutter when I see them incorporated into fashion. (And when I say animals I do NOT mean fur!)

I can't get away with the same things the twenty somethings can. Plus when you are young, people assume you are experimenting, learning, and are willing to put yourself a bit more out there when it comes to fashion.

But today I found shoes that I may not be able to resist.

These grey flats (already two checks in my BUY THEM box for color and heel height), with a very faint stitched and sleeping bunny, complete with ears on the instep, make me happy just looking at them. They are fairy tales for the feet!

To make us smile even harder, the same company, ModCloth, (click HERE for their website to buy) sells Tiffany blue flats (two checks), with a wide eyed cat on the front that is reminiscent of the Totoro cartoon. Who is the genius that designed these! Love them.

Okay, okay, maybe the Totoro skips are a bit too youthful for me, but the Furry Up, We're Dreaming bunny shoes might be just subtle enough for me to get away with.

And ya know what, if something makes you THAT happy, go for it--opinions be damned.


And for those of you that have not seen Totoro yet, please see the trailer above, then rent it for the kids. It is one of the most beautifully animated shows you will ever see. 


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

ART ~ It's In the Genes

My mother started to get grey hair when she was 16 years old, and people tell me I look like her. She has pure white hair now, and so do I. I did not pick up her flair for really good cooking unfortunately.

My father is a wonderful photographer, and although I like taking pictures and some of them are very cool too, I do not have his skill or his knowledge. But I did get his very long legs. 

Both of my parents are artistic. My mother used to oil paint when I was a kid, and my dad would draw pictures of eyeballs running down the street and rising like the sun that would rival Dali in style.

My sister does not think she draws well, but she has other artistic skills. She is an amazing interior decorator, and can host an event that would Martha Stewart jealous.
Pastel by great-grandpa Paul.

I am starting to learn that the artistic thing goes back beyond my parents. Seems I had a great grandfather that had a flair for art also.

We found his portfolio that is so old it is crumbling, and we are going to try our best to salvage and frame some of the artwork. It ranges from cartoons to oil paintings.

If both your parents have blue eyes, the chance that you will have blue eyes too is very high. I wonder what the genetic chance is in becoming artistic if there are artists in your family?
One of his cartoons.

According to a study at Penn State artists are both born and made. They feel natural born talent, along with societal influences, shape the artist.

In any event, it can't hurt to draw and paint with your children if they love it. And doing art helps them with critical thinking, decision making, and self confidence--so go for it!

So I wonder, did my love of art come from my parents drawing with me as a kid, or did I inherit it in my DNA?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Should We Give Our Kids Christmas Presents?


Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but somehow (removing all religion from the equation, that is a whole new blog post) the gift-giving part has been diminished. Stampedes in Walmart, 2:00 am mall shopping, and the stress of advertised but unavailable tech toys blows the circuits of our Christmas sparkle.

That being said,there is something magical about decorating the tree with lights and ornaments with our loved ones. Making or purchasing presents for our near and dear and placing them under the tree is a lovely tradition. Giving a token of our feelings can bring us closer.

The wise men, or Magi, (okay, so I am touching on the religious side of it after all) brought presents to the manger. Signs of devotion and love. 

Doing charity work during the holidays and getting your kids involved is a wonderful and important idea. It helps them to know how lucky they are, and how to help those that are in need. It also lets them them know that Christmas in not only about getting, but giving, too. My son helps with a small drive for St. Jude's hospital every year. We also collect canned goods and donate books, food, and Thanksgiving baskets to local charities. I recently read an article by a woman who wrote that she was not going to give her kids any gifts for Christmas this year. Instead they were going to do charity work. Another said they were giving their children the gift of experiences in lieu of toys, because they simply had too much stuff around the house.

I love my family and friends more than words can say, and on this one day a year this is how I choose to show them I love them.

Do they know I love them?

Of course. I spend time with them throughout the year doing things they like to do. I help them if they need me and they do the same in return--and not only during the holidays. 

In my humble opinion, a gift of love at Christmastime is a wonderful thing. Try not to get hung up in the commercialism of the times, and choose and give with love and cheer. I will continue to give gifts as long as I am able because it is just one of the ways that I am able to tell people I love them.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Happy December! Our Favorite Christmas Movies

Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year!

The decorations right after Halloween were a bit too much for me, but now I am ready.

I was thinking of my favorite Christmas movies, and ELF is at the top of the list. Yep--the protagonist has his share of issues: being bigger than all the other Christmas elves, trying to find his real father, not quite fitting in, and being eternally and almost annoyingly optimistic--but though it all we are laughing and rooting for him. We do not have to sit through 85 minutes of depression to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel--or in this case at the top of the tree.

(Click above video for background music ;) )I also love A Charlie Brown Christmas. Believe it or not, that cartoon is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. I love the quiet of the Peanuts cartoons, and the problems they have. Charlie Brown knew the gang was going to give him a hard time about the tree--but he got it anyway. One of the best parts of the show is the gang dancing to Schroeder's piano playing before the rehearsal. Oh! The wild abandon. Plus, I think everyone in the world has mimicked at least one of those dances. And I think we can safely say that the music, written by Vince Guaraldi, may be one of the best scores EVER. For a cartoon, TV show, movie. Anything. 

I also love How the Grinch Stole Christmas--the original cartoon version by Dr. Seuss. I am not a big fan of preachy or lessony stories--but this one is close to perfect. When the Grinch's heart grows three times I feel like mine does too. Plus, his little dog/ reindeer sidekick is one of the cutest pets depicted in a show.

I am happy December is here even though my son is almost 19. I will still be watching my favorite shows, cartoons included.


P.S. Maybe I am the only one on the earth--but I do not like It's a Wonderful Life. Please don't hate me.