Blue Balloon Sells Kids’ Artwork for St. Jude!



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Jessica and I are both Momprenuers that juggle both the lifestyles of stay-at-home moms and working moms.  My art and design business, Kidspired Creations, went on an exciting and unexpected journey this summer that has, to say the least, made it especially hard to find time to blog (my deepest apologies).  But let me tell you a little bit about what has been going on and about how we have been giving back to an amazing organization called St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – perhaps you’ve heard of it?

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This is Bennett.  His story has touched thousands of lives and counting!  In December 2013, the Coleman family began an unexpected journey as Bennett, just 17 months old at the time, was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.  He was admitted to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis for treatment where he and his family spent the last few months of his life here on earth. On april 28, 2014, the cancer died and Bennett began his new life, healed, happy and free of pain in heaven.  The staff, nurses, doctors, patients and families at St. Jude are incredible and held the hands of the Coleman family all the way…

Being close friends with the Colemans, my business partner, Brooke, and I shared updates about Bennett with our kids.  They learned all about St. Jude, cancer research and treatment, and the wonderful care that the organization provides families free of charge!

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Brooke’s son Cooper, age 4, decided that he wanted to raise money for Baby Bennett.  He said, “I love God.  I love to paint.  And I love Bennett.”  He asked his mom to help him sell some paintings so he could donate the money to St. Jude.  Brooke started a Facebook page, Cooper Paints, to document Cooper’s donation efforts and art endeavors…

…and this got Brooke and I thinking… thinking about how much our kids enjoy painting… and how beautiful each creation is… and how more kids would probably like to do what Cooper is doing… and who can resist a beautiful piece of artwork made with love from a child?



Photo Credit: Kelsey Ann Photography



Photo Credit: Kelsey Ann Photography

And thus, Blue Balloon was born – named for the blue balloons that family, friends and prayer warriors have released to celebrate Bennett’s life. Here, child artists can donate paintings to sell and the proceeds will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in honor of Bennett Coleman.

Cooper and his friends have created true KIDspired art!  Each 8″x10″ piece was hand-painted with love and is available for purchase HERE for $15.

This summer, Blue Balloon has been blessed by our community here in Lafayette, Louisiana. We were given space to host a Paint and Donate station at the Mommy & Me Expo in June where nearly 60 kids donated their time and talents to make and sell artwork for St. Jude!

We then were invited to sell those paintings at Applause for a Cause, a play, also benefiting St. Jude, and the organizers of the Baby & Kidz Expo donated booth space for us to sell paintings at their super successful event as well.



Our wonderful donors, volunteers, artists and vendor events!



Our wonderful donors, volunteers, artists and vendor events!

Many businesses around the area donated materials and services for Blue Balloon to participate in these events!  Many thanks to Office Depot and Lowe’s of New Iberia and Michael’s Arts and Crafts and Super-1 Foods of Lafayette for donating art and cleanup supplies.  Also, to Kidz 337 Magazine for donating ad and article space and Kelsey Ann Photography for providing professional promotional pictures!



We surpassed our goal!



We surpassed our goal!

With the help of these businesses and events, our high school volunteers, child artists ages 1 to 16 years old, and including the auctioned artwork that raised $200 at Bennett’s Bash in Lafayette, Blue Balloon has raised over $1300 for St. Jude!  More than $300 over our original goal!

So, now we have a new goal!

We are hoping to raise $1500 by August 15, 2014!  For just $15 you can purchase a painting and help us meet our new goal!  Your entire $15 will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help toward research, treatment and care for patients and families as they battle this horrible disease.  St. Jude operates solely on donations and at no cost to the families so they can focus 100% on their loved ones.

Please visit our Storenvy shop to view the Blue Balloon collection and purchase a painting for just $15!



Photo credit: Kelsey Ann Photography



Photo credit: Kelsey Ann Photography

To read all about Bennett and the Coleman family, you can follow them on Facebook and #pray4babybennett.  If you would like to make a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, please visit http://www.stjude.org.



Photo credit: Kelsey Ann Photography



Photo credit: Kelsey Ann Photography

Kidspired Creations and The Mommy Teacher remains inspired by the next generation of artists who give back!  If your child would like to donate artwork, please e-mail me at casey@kidspiredcreations.com or Brooke at brooke@kidspiredcreations.com!

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In memory of our buddy Bennett, Little Blessed One…

“Blessed is the man who trusts int he Lord, whose confidence is in Him.”  Jeremiah 17:7

DIY Rain Chain



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Head’s up!  Father’s day is THIS WEEKEND, not next like I kept telling myself.  My son had this brilliant idea to buy my husband some outdoor speakers for Father’s Day, which I really thought was a great idea (something I would enjoy too), but have you checked out the prices for those babies?  Yeah – it’s like the cost of formula for a year.  Not gonna happen.

Keep on brainstorming… Well, one thing my husband and I have always wanted is a rain chain… especially the copper ones that hang from beautiful, expensive copper gutters that we don’t have (as seen here in this video).  And those can be upwards of $100 or more… also not going to happen.

So, I decided that we are going to forego the pretty copper and make our own!  And I always say, “who can resist something handmade by kids?”  Let’s take a zero off of that $100 and make something similar for $10!

Supplies:  6 or more small terra cotta pots, 2 – 36″ extender chains for hanging planters

My kids and I picked up these small terra cotta pots from the Dollar General for $1 each.  They thought these were beautiful with the flowers painted on them… but I thought “eek!”  we can paint that… which they were ok with since I mentioned they would be the ones painting them.

 

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We bought 6 of them (because that’s what they had) and it makes a pretty decent length for a rain chain in my opinion.  We also purchased 36″ extender chains for hanging planters from the Dollar General which was $1.50… so we got 2 of them and got to work!



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Make sure that your pots have holes in the bottom because that is essential for this project for the chain to go through, and for the water to drain as well (because this is also a functional project).

The chain links are supposed to be bigger than the hole so your pots do not slip down the chain.  But how do you get the chain through the hole?

Using pliers I removed the link where I wanted my pot to rest.  I took that link and squished one side down which was the perfect size to go through the pot.



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I put about 5-6 links between one pot and the next.



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Then my kids wanted to do some more painting so I let them have at it 🙂



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This project probably took us about 30 minutes.  I will probably also get a large saucer and put some river rocks in it to collect water on the ground.  A nice little . to the !  (But then this would be more than a $10 project).

Extra:  Extra tip means extra $$.  If you want to seal the paint, use a clear matte acrylic spray paint that you can find at stores that sell spray paint (Walmart, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, etc.).

Happy Fathers Day to all of you Daddy Teachers and to all the Mommy Teachers who play both roles!

Mommy Needs to Journal

The other day I was talking with a good friend of mine (who is also a mom of young children) about how we used to spend time in the mornings journaling. (I can’t imagine what could be distracting us nowadays. Hmm.)

I really miss it.

I miss that time to reflect on what God is teaching me.

I miss that time to be still and quiet.

I miss the slow sips of coffee that I actually enjoyed.

But, I wouldn’t trade it for the joy my kids bring to me every morning. The pure, wild, joy they bring.

My friend mentioned that Sally Clarkson wrote a blog post once about journaling with her children every day, and I made a decision to do the same.

A week went by.

No journaling.

The lovely picture of journaling with my kids was still in my head.

Then, the Sunday morning service was about Re-discovering growth.  Colossians 2:6-7

This verse made me think back to when I first started to journal.

Now I wanted to journal, about how I used to journal.

At this point, I didn’t even just want to journal anymore,  I needed to journal.

After reading Casey’s post this past weekend about purposing worship with the kids every day I knew I needed to stop thinking about it, and just GO get the dang journals.


journals from dollar general


So, when I came back from the store, it was really exciting that my kids actually LOVED their journals and wanted to journal right away. “I’m so exciting!”  was the two year old’s reaction.

We journaled about the Sunday morning message – to WALK in Jesus in the way which we have been taught / are learning to do.

 

I traced the kids feet in their journals and I wrote the letters spelling out WALK inside their footprint.


tracing foot


I described to them how I make a cross while I drew one (it’s like a big rectangle “T” with one rectangle going up and down and one going across.)

I wrote Jesus’ name while singing the letters in his name to the tune “Bingo” and then gave them the pens and told the kids to write on top of my writing and/or to draw anything they want to on their own personal journal page.


journal entry about walking with Jesus


While they did this, I jotted down my own reflection in my journal.

I would have liked this to last 30 minutes, but I was content with two.  I finished the entry later that night after the kids went to bed.

I hope we keep it up.

Leave a comment if you have any ideas for journaling with your kids or tips for finding time to journal yourself.

 

How Does Your Garden Grow? 5 Garden Activities



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Last Mother’s Day, my kids gave me a great planter for us to start a home garden!



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My husband works at a factory and they frequently get shipments of equipment that come in these long crates that are perfect for starting a garden (especially because they are free).  Keep your eyes peeled for wooden crates and pallets and you can get free planters as well!

This year we have a few more!



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Now, this is a little intimidating for me because I do NOT have a green thumb… but my husband is a little bit better at watering…and my kids are REALLY good at watering… a little too good as they sometimes over water.

So many early childhood teachers will grow plants in the classroom for kids to learn the parts of the plant, how to care for a plant, and what plants need to grow: soil, water, sun.  Here are a few activities for you to do at home to teach your kids about growing plants if you have or plan on starting your own garden at home.

1.  Journal:  Have your kids document plant growth.

  • Pre-schoolers – model drawing sketches of what your plants look like each week and then give them a crayon for them to do the same (may not look like much, but they will at least think they are drawing a plant).  Introduce vocabulary such as plant, green, grow, sun, soil
  • Pre-K – have them add words to their drawings (even if their words are just a mix up of letters – write what they are trying to spell underneath).  Vocabulary:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant
  • Kinder – write a sentence or two describing the plant.  Vocabulary and discussion:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, why plants are important
  • 1st grade and above – a paragraph (minimum) documenting any changes they may see, how long they watered, what time of the day they watered, etc.  Vocabulary and Discussion:  the name of the plants, ex: bell peppers, parts of the plant, describe why plants are important, how they reproduce, nutrition and the benefits of eating home grown foods

2.  Predict:  Have your kids predict what is going to happen throughout the summer with their plants, use your journal from above to help document, then calculate results by a certain date at the end of the summer.

  • Calendar Math:  Using a summer calendar, mark the day you plant your plants.  Have your kids each choose a different date in which they predict they can start picking their ripe produce.
  • Measuring:  Using a ruler, guess the size of the produce and how tall the plants will become by the end of the summer.  Have them draw this out on poster paper to compare at the end of the summer.
  • Counting:  Predict the amount of produce each type of plant will produce.
  • Science – Weather:  predict the number of rainy days versus sunny days
  • Comparison:  predict what type of plant will produce the biggest/smallest, most/least amount, greenest, etc. produce

3.  Experiment:  Get several seedlings that are the same type and are all similar in size.  Experiment with different amounts of sunlight or soil type or watering schedule (choose one) to see what is the optimal amount for that particular plant.  Plant several seedlings in each of the different conditions to get the best average outcome.  And, go back to the first activity:  journal 🙂

4.  Create a Cookbook:  As your plants are growing, decide as a family what you are going to use your plants for and create a family cookbook together!  Take pictures of your growing plants to include in the “ingredients” section of each recipe.

BONUS:  Include a raw versus cooked taste test of each fruit/vegetable to include that 5th sense that we often don’t get to use in a classroom.

5.  Dissect the Plants:

  • Science:  learn about the different plant parts including the parts you don’t see… inside the stem, the roots, inside the fruit and flowers.  When you are finished, use the roots, stem, leaves, flowers to make art on a poster board.
  • Math:  Compare/Contrast the different types of plants:  length, leaf shape, fruit, root length and thickness and number of roots
  • Art:  Create leaf prints by placing a piece of paper on top of the leaves and using the edge of a crayon to etch the shape of the leaf.  Draw the type of produce next to each leaf.

BONUS:  One of my friends started a private Facebook group for some of her friends who wanted to start a home garden.  On it we are sharing pictures and knowledge with each other and when the produce is ripe, we will be having garden picking parties!  It is nice to see what everyone else is growing (and these ladies know way more than I do about gardening so it’s helpful too)!  I encourage you to start a similar group for your friends with green (or slightly unripened) thumbs.

It is so wonderful seeing how excited my kids are to watch our plants grow!  Right now, we just have bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, but we hope to fill our other planters soon!

Leyson and I tore a paper plate in half to draw our measurements of the peppers (paper plates are sturdier than sheets of paper thus easier to measure the peppers on).  We used a marker to draw a line on each side of the paper and later use a ruler to measure from line to line.  We numbered our peppers 1, 2 and 3.  Measure them week by week so you can see how much they grow in one week.



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How does your garden grow???  How have you involved your children in your garden?

Painting Circles With Plastic Eggs – Mommy Teacher Spotlight

If you are looking for an activity to re-use those eggs from the egg hunts… look no further.

I love my artsy friend Allie and all the ways she crafts with her kids.  Keep reading because she inspired me to do this with my kids today and that is what The Mommy Teacher is all about:

“My girls, AvaKate (3) and Addie (2), absolutely love doing crafts. They would do them all day long if I let them.  So, when we woke up this morning, they asked to paint.

We painted yesterday, so I wanted to do something a little different.

They had an Easter egg hunt at school yesterday and I wanted to reuse those annoying, oh I mean amazing, plastic eggs before I secretly threw them away, I mean put them back in their baskets (any Moms with me??).

I took them apart and let them dip it into finger paint (easier clean up) and it made circles on their paper. Addie is really into shapes so she got really excited to see the shapes on her paper. Very simple, but it was exciting for the girls to incorporate their eggs from their egg hunt.


Painting with Easter eggs


 

You can also see in the picture little pieces of string and paper. My oldest, AvaKate is obsessed with decorating and making gifts… So those elements were her specific request.

I put some glue on their plate and gave them a paint brush and they “decorated” their art. They loved it! And I loved it because it was all stuff I had around the house and it kept them occupied while I nursed my six week old!”



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