So, as with most of the things I do, I jump into them with both feet, stress out a bit, plan, stress, and plan some more. This time I offered to take on a few of my friends 7 year olds for a 3 week camp this summer. The idea of the camp is to put "Imagine Your World" to the test and to see if I can work with kids to foster their creativity through observation of the city we live in by taking field trips, meeting people, drawing in our sketchbooks and then on our activity sheets. So far they learned about an old fashioned thing called "stamps" and "postcards" we took at romp to the loop, make a land called "Candy land" which was immediately adapted into a script for a play that they performed in the backyard, complete with cardboard props. It is great to see how the girls react to the challenges and they have been great as they start to see me as the teacher and not just "Maddie's mom".
Over the next 3 weeks leading up to the book launch, I'll have the grow kids, drawing, playing, and making all to be on display at the Farmers Market launch. I'll also make updates on stores that will be selling the books locally so you and your kids can take the challenge and join our community!
Around our house I have to admit, I have been a bit of a toy snob ever since my kids were born. Living in the city, and at the time in a very small apartment, the toys we bought became part of our decor. They sat on shelves in the living room, on the floor in the dining room and on the counter in the kitchen. They found themselves running for cover under the radiator and sprinkled about the back yard. Because of my intense desire to live like an "adult" I insisted that all of our toys be well designed and pretty to look at. As a result many of our toys are wooden and made by a handful of companies, including Plan Toys, Melissa and Doug, to name a couple. I do not only have a severe aversion to noisy toys but my decor does not follow a primary color palate, therefore they do not belong. During my time in graduate school I did quite a bit of research on consumerism (which lead to a class that taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and how children are trained to be little uber-consumers because of poorly made toys that require batteries, break quickly and only have one cause and effect, "press button =noise" causing them to grow bored with them in only 3 presses of the "button", in turn demanding more toys.
Now that my kids are getting older and I have taken up the passion to design urban focused toys that teach creativity to kids, I also have an obligation to respect the urban dwellers need to keep the house free of primary colored noisy and in my opinion "ugly" toys. I have grown so attached to the toys we have collected over the years that I am proud to have them around the house. My new line of doll houses are the perfect fit for your Play Mobile collection of people and accessories or to add your Melissa and Doug wooden furniture to. No batteries required, just your imagination and whatever happens to be laying around the house to transform into accessories for your urban play place.
I have designed not only houses, but also 2-flats, and store front spaces so your child can play with a home that is like yours, not like the one that the only few of us live in resembling a Victorian mansion.
I had 2 very fun days at the laser cutter making a variety of houses for my Chicago doll house collection. Hopefully by the end of the week I will have them photographed (for real) and up on the site for purchasing. I am going to try a few more materials for the facades including wood and a few other papers.
I remember walking into the house and seeing a stack of paper on the table, what used to be simple computer paper had been transformed into a world of characters with elaborate color and details including hats and accessories. To our nanny these were nothing more than just sketches, but this stack of drawings was what we came to love as an expression of time spent in imagination and exploration. A physical stack that would ultimately inform how my children see the world. When we draw with our children we don't only spend time with them, we teach them a way of communicating where sometimes words don't allow.
My main goal here at the press is to encourage kids to draw on everything we make! I believe as a parent that their toys are for them to develop and learn from. As we mourn the loss of our precious nanny, Justyna, we have more of her than just memories, we have a living memento that she was a part of our lives. This memento is an expression of love, laughter, and above all her amazing talents.
When winter comes, all of us (I'll take the liberty of representing everyone) here in the city who have kids pray/wish/summon spirits [insert preferred method here] that spring will come early. Around our house the TV is on much more than was allowed in the summer/fall/spring and I find myself hating the sounds of cartoons that are rotting their brains. We are elated for the birthday party at pump it up, a place that in the warm months was nothing more than a breeding ground of bacteria, and waiting for an invitation to come "trash" someone else's house. We all love the snow for about four hours after it has fallen and the kids get so excited about "going out and playing in it". After the first romp in the what was perceived from inside as a wonderland of white fluff, becomes in reality cold, wet and "IN MY SHOES, WAAAAAAA" it is now a long hard road until the first buds appear.
This year I am writing a thank you to the joys of blankets, chairs and magical spaces only my children can enjoy. Over the past 3 months my children 7 and 3 have become masters of fort building. Mostly directed by my 7 year old but executed to perfection. They have played for literally hours in their blanket homes and has become the best "toy" ever invented. It is simply amazing how a "thrifty" parent, like myself, can throw some blankets on the floor and tell them to have fun and they do! Just don't make it collapse because we have not mastered the skill of minor disappointments and "opportunity to adjust the design" in the fallen masterpiece. Maybe by next year we'll get there but for now I am ready for spring!!!