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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule AND a fairy house!

One of the things about working full time that I really regret is that I can't always do all the thoughtful, inspiring things that I always imagined I'd do as a parent. When you work a full time job there just isn't enough time to get it all in and while I'm willing to let some things go (just look at my house!) some things have to be done, like dinner and baths and the occasional laundry. Despite this lack of time, I love to read about how other mamas (and dads) find the time to do it.

I'm not sure how I first stumbled across Soulemama but I've been reading her for a few years now. I love to watch how she manages to find time to be the creative, nurturing mama that I'd like to be, only with four young children to my two. Her first book, The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections, came out a couple years ago but I only managed to get my hands on it this summer. The Creative Family is full of ways to encourage your children to be creative in various ways. There are quite a few simple projects to do with your child, most of which I've marked to do someday. There is an emphasis on being creative YOURSELF, without worrying about the quality of your work (WOW, that doesn't look much like an elephant!) but just letting go and having fun with it.

One of the projects in the book is to build a little fairy house using things you find in nature. This weekend we spent a lot of time in the backyard (I think we knew fall was coming, and it did!) and one of the things the Pirate and I did was to build one ourself. We started with a little area up next to the retaining wall. The pumpkin vine from the garden stretches along the wall and there is a small, softball sized pumpkin near the end. We thought that the fairy (Tinkerbell, which might take some of the magic away, but oh well!) would like to live near a pumpkin.

We gathered sticks to make a wall and a dandelion for her pillow. It's hard to see, but there is a little mossy bed up near the wall as well. We picked a few green tomatoes to add to the pantry, and some red chard for a roof.

Near the end of the project the Bug woke from his nap and joined us outside.

Neither parent claims responsibility for that shoe job.

Soulemama's next book, Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures, is out now and if I had the spare $15 it would be the first thing I would buy. The Creative Family is very inspiring, it makes me want to go on walks and draw birds and pinecones with the boys. It's not too crunchy and it doesn't make you feel like you should be an artist, or that your kids should be an artist either. It simply encourages creativity and imagination.

Do you feel that you are a creative person? Do you encourage your kids to draw and paint? Do you buy quality supplies (as she suggests) or the cheap stuff in the $1 bin (like I am guilty of doing)? Do you look for the beauty of nature with your kids or do you tend to stay inside? What is your favorite creative activity with your own kids? (or, I guess, anyone else's kids!)

The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule
Trumpter Press


224 pages


  1. Thanks for reviewing those. I've been intrigued by the first one for awhile (haven't read it), and never knew about the blog (just added it to my reader). I should take them out of the library and give them a look. We're starting to get more crafty around here. The funny thing about your post is that I JUST told the little guy that we could take a trip to the dollar store today. I never shop there (kind of wary of the whole cheap plastic, BPA thing), but I always see impressive montesorri or otherwise inspired activities on other blogs with stuff from the dollar store and am impressed. My next nice purchase for him will be a set of colored pencils I think. Oh, shoot, he's waking from his nap and I never got around to mine.

  2. Well... I sincerely hope I would be considered a creative person. I did buy quality supplies for my children, or rather I already had quality art supplies because my degree is in art and design. I was a teacher for awhile and taught private art lessons for several years. I've always stressed the difference between good materials versus the cheap stuff. My kids grew up with a huge variety of good art supplies always available. (It made making those pirate treasure maps they were obsessed with one year really quite good.)

    Since my kids are hardly kids anymore I can look back and say, yeah, I did a pretty good job trying to instill creativity in them and the ability to see the beauty in nature all around them. Was I successful? Hmmmm... One is very creative and the other not so much... but I also think talent in art or creativity is an innate ability, it's something you are born with. Not everyone has it.

  3. I'm not very creative, but I did try to come up with creative ideas for my son. I'm not sure I was all that successful, but I gave it a shot.

  4. Love the fairy house. My kids made some this summer while on vacation. They had a good ole time with it. :-)

    I tagged you for a meme (but if you want to play along, you might want to wait until next week). Look here.

  5. I do not do a good job of being creative with my son. And I would go for the cheapest stuff if I were. What an interesting idea. I need to think about this some more.

  6. I've seen this book around and it does look really great, but also makes me sad that I can't be a full-time parent one day (at my current job I don't even have the option to be part-time). Boo.

    We did a lot of make believe things when we were younger, and my mom was always right there beside us playing along, but I don't remember doing anything artisically creative.

    You'll have to let us know how Homemade Home goes.

  7. What a great topic!

    I'm a working mom and yes, life isn't quite what I imagined. It's so easy to get caught up in the routine of every week & forget to do creative things.

    But everytime I do, my daughter is SO delighted. Thank you for the reminder!

  8. Another great post! It's one of the things that I aspire to, teaching my kids to be creative in some way, to appreciate nature. We try to go outdoors a lot, but we hardly ever make things ourselves. (and that has to change!)

    My cousin in Australia has a blog that I've recently started reading and she's so creative it makes me want to cry sometimes. I read her blog and everytime they're doing some new crafty thing I think to myself 'wow, I could do that' and off we go. She was my partial inspiration for Doing Things Differently April, of which I'd like to do again some month!


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