Frida Kahlo

Today I had the second installment of the Latin American Summer Art Camp!  As with life…I was semi nervous that people would show up…even though I utilized our library’s reservation system and I had 24 spots filled up… by 10:56 am., not even my own children were here yet.   Thankfully, I saw minivans flying into the parking lot and all was well.  Attendance is a BIG deal in library programs.  I always have my kids as a “standing reservation” of sorts.  There will always be at least TWO kids attending 🙂

Frida Kahlo was the artist of the day!  Coincidentally her birthday fell on July 6th…the art universe telling me I’m on the right track in my efforts.


I started with asking the kids if they knew what a selfie was…hahaha…they thought I was so silly.  Of course they knew what it was!  I proceeded to let them know Frida Kahlo was the Queen of Selfies.  An original selfie gangster of sorts.  I told them a little backstory and how her life, even though painful and semi-miserable, allowed her to create amazing works of art. In a nutshell how she involved herself in art, politics and fought the oppression of her people.  It is really difficult to explain all the intricacies of her life.  But somehow the kids understood just from a few words.

Children used these awesome art chalk Solabela Pastels on black paper.  I explained to them how to use a simple technique to draw a face.  It worked great for some and a few kids just gave it their best effort.

19866670_10102403716909061_994387475_nMy favorite picture was when a kid told me, “You said Frida Kahlo was “different” and some of her pictures could appear scarier (in reference to  The Two Fridas portrait) so that’s what I did.”  His Frida had snakes coming out of her head.  🙂  There was also a “ghost Frida”.  Originality winners of the day.

I also always purchase Mexican candy to give to kiddos.  Because it takes their mind off any mistakes they may think they are making.  It’s like a child icebreaker.

The pictures were hung next to our mural in the library lobby.  Below are some action shots of our day!  Enjoy!
















Latin Art Series @ the library

I love art.

Art, art, art.

I could wander through the Art Institute of Chicago for hours, maybe even a week if given the right amount of simple carbs and sweets…oh and coffee.  Because of this I created a program at the library focusing on art, particularly Latin American artists to tie into my “bilingual programming” efforts.

I was tricky in marketing this so that parents would feel excited to bring their kids so I used the buzz word, “camp” and “free” not a likely combination when dealing with art programs.  Parents were thrilled there were no fees associated, which is what I wanted to avoid.  There are plenty of art camps out there that cost an arm and a leg…and yes, i’m sure the art instructors are oozing with credentials—but…I said i’ll give this a shot and muster up some of the Latin American art knowledge I learned in my DePaul days.

I gained some more knowledge of how to go about this from the wonderful world of Youtube Oil Pastels Technique and an amazing website called Deep Space Sparkle DSS that has a lot of great podcasts related to art—(last “and” I promise) and the Milwaukee Art Museum has a great simplistic teaching technique to engage kids in critical thinking called Visual Thinking Strategy VTS that worked out really well!

The series focuses on three different artists:  Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and a student rendition of Cesar Chavez’s Si Se Puede poster.

Our summer reading program is called, Engage 8:  Build a Better World.  I took Diego Rivera’s painting, The Flower Carrier and cut it into sections.  flower-carrier-diego-riveraEach child took a section and used oil pastels and pastel paper for their square. At the end we combined all our pieces to “Build a Better Mural.”

art11Parents were thrilled at the experience and if ever there was an ounce of disappointment from a child it was taken away by Mexican sweets at the end.  I also gave the kids pencils to sketch out the ideas.  My trick was, the pencils had no erasers.  Many of the kids asked for erasers and I told them more than once, “there are no mistakes in art!”  Big smiles all around 🙂

Finished Product:


Picture of setup before and after kids came in 🙂

Group photo of Young Artists:  



April Fool’s Library Program-Once Upon a Cuento

The second bilingual story hour for Once Upon a Cuento fell on April 1 or April Fool’s Day. This provided a plethora of books geared towards funny situations. It was not difficult to decide to use Mo Willems as my main author. He has created such a great variety of hilarious characters and his books are widely available in English and Spanish. The hilarity is not lost in translation.  This also allowed me to showcase our “popular English language fiction translated to Spanish section”…the proper genre eludes me.

One of my unwritten, personal goals was reached during this storytime (I will get to that after I ramble). I will start by saying that on Saturday it was absolutely beautiful outdoors…the first sunny, warm day in who knows how long in northern Illinois. Usually this means a lackluster crowd. I anxiously waited, wondering if people would still consider coming to the library on such a day. I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar faces as well as a few new ones! It was definitely a smaller audience but I felt that the group had so much personality it was hard to notice the smaller crowd (fifteen participants in all).

Anyhow, the heartwarming moment was when a second grade boy (I found out by indirect library sleuthing) proudly stated that he spoke Spanish as well as English and was overly excited about being in the story hour. He came with his mother and grandmother. They were seated off to the side as he happily came to the front. He elaborated that his father was from Honduras. He also offered to help me read the book, haha, leaving me to internally question my Spanish accent.

This proves my point that story hour can be for ANYONE. Developing a love and acceptance of books is for EVERYONE. He was an older child, male and bilingual. In the reading world the cards are stacked against boys so any effort to involve them in the quest to love reading is a WIN. Boys and Books  Below is an excerpt from the linked article.

According to Schwartz, the boy who reads the sports page or instruction manual needs to be applauded. “The reading that boys do should not be dismissed as inconsequential even though it often does not include the novels and other traditional materials usually read by girls,” Schwartz says. “The genres preferred by boys can be equally helpful in their development of reading, thinking, and problem- solving skills, and should be considered key resources in their education.”

Teachers who allow boys to see the rich variety of forms that the written word can take may help to create more enthusiastic readers. Librarians also can play a key role in providing male-enticing reading materials.

Back to the process…

We read Mo Willems, Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus/No Dejes Que la Paloma Conduzca el Autobus…exceptionally cheesy and a complete favorite by all ages.  The kids all acknowledged they knew the story but were very happy to hear it again.  There were also 9781423140528_p0_v2_s192x300plenty of back up books to choose from in English and Spanish in his popular Elephant and Piggie series.

Afterwards we played a high energy game of “Pato, Pato, Paloma”  or “Duck, Duck, Pigeon” to keep the silly theme alive and tweaking the names to add Spanish.  I forgot how much fun it is to be a kid!  I also created a few felt pieces to use as visual aids during the reading.  Surprisingly,  we did not have an English copy of Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus, so I crafted a few talk bubbles as well.  The paloma had interchangeable felt eyes resulting in more laughs.  A silly time was had by all.





Library Ninja

I may have misled you when I mentioned I was a stay at home parent and sounded a bit too exclusive to the cause of parenting.  In reality I work as a part time library ninja in the children’s department of my local library.  This position enables me to flex my literary muscle, interact with kids and parents, mingle with like-minded literature loving adults and recently being allowed programming rights to showcase Pinterest talents and my lifelong love of reading.

Last Saturday I began the journey (after utilizing my “project management” skills) of launching a Bilingual Storytime…exclusively coined, “Once Upon a Cuento”… see what I did there?

Naturally I had anxiety, wondering if people and children would show, etc.  I had marketed at all the recommended places when aiming toward interesting a Latino audience, local Latin groceries, laundromat, businesses etc.  Using word-of-mouth marketing as well to many of the families that came into the library asking reference questions.  If ever there was an opportunity to toot my horn, toot I did.  

While attempting to remain inclusive I scoped it to reach all families as a method of learning a new language for non Spanish speakers and also increasing the knowledge of library materials to monolingual and bilingual families alike.  

All that said and done, the storytime was a great success.  I read two exceptional books, What can you do with a Paleta/Que puedes hacer con una Paleta?  By Carmen Tafolla…the kids really loved this one…it was an easy read and had the English and Spanish on both pages.  The story engages the readers by showcasing the beautiful colors that are often around us everywhere in life and the significance of a culturally relevant food.  

The next book I read was a bit more challenging because there is no bilingual copy.  I used a Spanish and English copy to read to the children.  I found a volunteer almost immediately to hold the English copy as I clutched onto the Spanish one and tried to not lose my place.  The book I read was The Dot or El Punto by Peter Reynolds.  This was a spirited story of the struggle in childhood to find value in oneself. The children in the room recognized this book right away as it is popular in schools as a tool to motivate young children.  It went well and the children really enjoyed the story.

From there we went on to a really neat activity of tempera ice cube painting on large butcher block paper.  For the little people in the room this really plays a great role in sensory development because of the coldness and also the ability to create art.  I should mention my story time is for all ages, families etc.  Everyone was really into this…you could see the varying levels of creativity with the age groups…big siblings helping little siblings, etc.  

Yes, my kids were present 🙂  All in all I had 30 participants of varying backgrounds and ages.  

Everyone agreed that the purple ice cubes were the best colors…At the end the kids enjoyed paletas to keep the theme alive.  There was also plenty of Spanish music reverbeating in the background and a few shimmy and shakes with the storytime parachute and music instruments.  It made for a really great fiesta.

All that Spanish speaking gave me a hankering for Mexican food…so after I celebrated at my favorite local Mexican place…Salud!  

Ancestry Journey Part 1

Many afternoons I find myself perusing the internet on my smart phone as my littlest child, Aveline falls asleep next to me.  Kudos to smart phones for stay at home parents everywhere and their ability to keep parents connected to the outside world.  Anyhow, recently I filled out some semi-mundane criteria to be a part of a study that analyzes ancestry DNA.  It was partially fueled by my desire to find out my true paternal roots while indirectly participating in a genetic study.  Kinda cool, I think at least. 

So fast forward to a few days ago I received an email that states my new 23andme kit will be arriving in the mail…no more specifics just a veil of potential genetic mystery.  (I had also forgotten I had signed up, see first post about forgetfulness for reference)

I opened up the enthusiastically colored box delivered to me from 23andme and much to my surprise saw that it was specifically for a fertility study I seemingly qualified for.  The study in question is sponsored by two companies…23andme and Celmatix.  Their underlying goal is to find 4500 women aged 18-45 who are trying to conceive or have recently conceived.  The study collects genetic data from that pool of women and longitudinally tracks clinical, environmental, lifestyle, diet-associated and fertility outcome metrics.*  Basically they want me to spit in a tube and collect a variety of data to analyze patterns in fertile women.  Celmatix is a pretty forward thinking company in regards to empowering women in their reproductive health choices both currently and futuristically speaking.  *cue the conspiracy theories*

Once my kit arrived, I like any normal stay at home busy mom took four days to collect my sample.  I wonder if there are any genetic markers for forgetfulness…aside from the depressing debilitating diseases out there.  Also, you’re not allowed to eat or drink 30 minutes prior to spitting into the tube, another hard hurdle with Fannie May Pixies laying around at the start of the week.  Casual eating at best, grazing if you would like to class it up a bit.  Anyhow, day three finally turned to day four and with the help of Sophie running it into he post office it is hopefully on it’s way to the 23andme facility *fingers crossed*.  

A few people claimed it was “difficult” to gather up that much spit on various 23andme reviews etc…but I am apparently a spitty person because it was rather easy to muster up my collection of DNA in a tube.  #firstworldproblems 

Needless to say I am excited to document this DNA journey!  #23andme #celmatix #ancestry #ancestrydna #genes

The study itself on the 23andme page is $199 if you are interested in the combination test.  Regular ancestry tests are $99.


Aveline Margot

A.  My third born.  She is like a live wire, catapulting through some type of time warp where sleep is not needed.  She is everything that I bragged about my first two kids never doing wrapped up in a baby/newly minted toddler enigma.  I start to wonder if taking her to a sleep specialist is not out of the question.  This is the child who will spill paint all over a white carpet, go rogue diaperless throughout the house, shave her head accidentally, scream like a banshee…

“Becareful what you wish for,” should come as a general disclaimer for her 🙂

Not much can be said about her in totality because she is just 15 months old.  She does love to smile and wave at people.  Funnily enough she will shoot a dirty look at other misbehaving children.  She doesn’t fear strangers as much as the first two children in this family.  I wonder if it is because there are just more of us here now.  

A loves flipping through board books and assembling puzzles, something I never experienced as a parent before.  I will parentally pat us on the back for that one.  We love her and will keep her for a lifetime.

Glimpses into everyday life.

I am starting this blog mainly to rekindle my love of journaling and get a grasp on time.  It struck me on the way home today just how little time there really is in life (Bella asked how many

seconds are in a day, week, month, etc.) and it seems pretty great to be able to document it in a technological echo.   So here is to that…

Happy reading.

Children described.

I will start out with my second born daughter because she always gets the second place description.  Just now she raced out of the house, eager to catch up with her older sister and cousin.  Not to be left out of the fun as they burst outside in this surprisingly fresh Spring/end of Winter air.  

“Don’t get mud on your shoes, stay out from under the apple tree!!”  I yell…”stay out of the neighbor’s property line,” our neighbors are curmudgeons with under tones of white supremacy looming around their home in the form of Auto store decal stickers. 

Sheesh.  Back to the description of my daughter, Bella.  She is a wiry one.  Full of life and spirit.  Sometimes I see her following the crowd but she wrangles life with a fierce independence when no one is watching.  Never wants to be left out of the party. Her big eyes well with tears when another child in our family receives praise.  Sometimes her disdain is privately held and her lip will just take the form of a flat line.  Unheard of on her beautiful little mouth but known to those closest to her.  It is particularly hard for me to get upset at her or roll my own eyes at her when she is this way.  I’ve noticed this with others too.  There is just something about her…Most people feel for her, she will have a great path in this world…will most likely break hearts and become heartbroken more than once.  

She has a desire to constantly be in motion, constantly talking about something, anything.  Car rides are never dull.  Only when I turn on public radio does she fall into some sort of unstructured sleep.  Leaving us all with some respite.  She is the child that asks questions.  I am always answering her for fear of stifling her creativity.   

She is the child that if she has stomach flu, will eat everything in the refrigerator and then throw it up on the carpet next to her bed.  Will daringly run through the mud, wear her shoes accidentally through the house, use every last sheet of toilet paper to clean up a spilt grape juice instead of letting me know about the mess.  Never mind when I walk in the kitchen and the floor is suspiciously sticky I am quick to deduce where the sticky originated.

She is also the kid who stands up to bullies, cries out at any injustice done to anyone/thing she loves, gives out the best smiles and snuggles.  Hardly complains.  She is the vinyasa of yoga.  Believer in ghosts.  Teller of tales.  Doesn’t care much for reading but is fantastic at math and science.  Carries her little sister like a sack of potatoes but with every single ounce of love you could muster up.  Plays alongside her for what seems like hours, never minding if the routine seems boring. She will find a way to be stimulated.  She makes the most out of what she has, the true definition of life and lemons.  

Just now she comes in…”Did dada leave to the gym?”


“Ok, just making sure the car is not stolen.”

Ok then.  

Back outside with her sister and cousin.  Apparently there is a suspicious substance in the yard.  They are trying to figure it out…I tell them not to touch it.  It sounds suspiciously like deer poop.  Live and learn, I guess.  

#parenting #familylife #motherofthree #mariposastarte