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Kind of Like A Norman Rockwell

There was a moment last weekend, when things were nearly picture perfect. Like a Norman Rockwell illustration — real, a bit silly, a hint of chaos emerging or recently visited.

And having it come on the heels of a bit of a stressful week — starring visits from a few plumbers, sick kids, and a few additions to our house “need-to-get-done-ASAP” list — it was impossible not to feel so much joy and thanks for a nearly idyllic scene.

I had built a roaring fire, with the help of a YouTube tutorial. And at some point, before dinner but after the 50th plea for the 30th snack of the afternoon, I found myself sitting on the couch facing the fire reading (A Dragonfly in Amber), with my husband sitting beside me relaxing with his iPad, and our two girls playing independently on the floor in front of us. Our oldest was playing a very exciting game with seven DC Superhero figurines and a Fisher Price castle, and our youngest was putting George Pig to sleep inside of a bed she had built from Duplos.

I nudged my husband and we shared a smile at this rare and exciting scene — four humans happily pursuing their interests, independently but together near the active fireplace. It was excitingly peaceful. It was nice.

And, in all honesty, our full immersion in our individual pursuits didn’t last long. Maybe I read one more page after that shared smile and silent giggle of excitement.

And that was fine because I love the way my oldest squeezes between me and my husband for maximum snuggles. And I adore the way my youngest narrates her play to us to keep us in the loop!

And this is what I’m thankful for this week as Thanksgiving approaches. I’m so thankful, with an enormous heart, for my little immediate family. They are good and kind and silly and brighten my day.

And you shouldn’t listen to what I say when I’m tired and drained, I wouldn’t want to spend a single day or night without them right next to me!

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What are you thankful for? I know that blog comments are clumsy with having to prove you aren’t a robot and all that. So let me know on Instagram or my pen&thimble Facebook Page. I want to know! 

Also, in lieu of the typical holiday sales that roll around after Thanksgiving, I’ll be offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE US when you spend $40 or more November 20 – December 1 at pen&thimble on Etsy. No gimmicks, no coupon needed. My way of saying “thank you so much,” for being a customer and thank you for your support! I’ll be around –making and posting and chatting on social media — but I wanted to wish you very Happy Holidays now, before the overwhelm and hype starts.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!!!

 

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Brown Astronauts and Mermaids with Natural Coils: Representation in Art

So if I’m being honest, I didn’t create kids wall art featuring children of color on purpose. I didn’t start my creative process thinking, children’s walls ought to be more multiracial. When I created these pieces, I was thinking… Here are some fun prints! Oooh this unicorn! Cute astronaut kid! Sweet mermaid!

African-American Mermaid and African American Astronaut
In our family, a little snippet of diversity occurs every time we sit down for dinner. And we encourage learning about and respecting other cultures and backgrounds beyond our shades of brown and white…

Inclusivity in baby room and kids room decor
But it wasn’t until I had kids that the purposeful inclusion of multiple races was so important to me–books, dolls, figurines. This inclusion often means buying two dollhouse families to make sure family representations can include more than one shade or ethnicity. Or more recently, I bought a car track set for my two year old and had to purchase an extra car driver, a black girl, because all of the pictures on the car track and the two car drivers that were included were white.

pen&thimble family
(This is the only picture I could find with all of us in same frame)

 

Even as a brown mom with inclusivity in my mind, it wasn’t until I was trying to come up with listing titles and tags on Etsy that I realized that I needed to make these searchable for parents like me, looking for diversity in their kids’ rooms. And then despite being of multiple races, growing up in a multiracial family, and raising my own, I had trouble coming up with the search terms I wanted. (Huge thank you to my community of awesome Facebook mamas and friends for supplying me with a great list!)
African American Mermaid with natural hair

Now that I’m in multicultural art sales, I realize that there still isn’t a lot of art with kids that look like me or my kids’ friends. Or maybe I haven’t quite found the right search terms. But I hope to change walls one framed piece at a time. And now I have a purpose. A purpose that wasn’t on purpose is now my purpose!

PS. This new art is now listed in my Etsy shop. Already mounted in a 12 inch square frame, behind glass, and ready to be hung up with a nail or command strips! (Only $80 +shipping.)

PPS. I highly recommend The Barefoot Book of Children to start conversations about diversity–skin color, foods, customs… Have you seen it yet? We love it! Look for it at your local library or bookshop!

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No Elf On This Shelf

I will always cherish these days of childhood–the constant cuddles, the waking 3x at night, the pure joy at the sight of snow, the scream crying because car seat, the absence of a Facebook profile so they don’t see what shenanigans the elf on the shelf is up to at the cool moms’ houses.

As if there weren’t enough mandatory activities with parenting–diaper changing, making a lunch no one eats every day, being up 3x a night, here struts that damn elf with that ridiculous grin on his face.

NO!

Also the whole Big Brother is watching you element?

NO!

Also I have to be clever for 24 days? I give me 3 nights before forgetting for a week while my 4yo silently worries each night that Pudding Sparklepants forgot about her.

NO!

Also just no.

Who’s with me? Who loves their elf? I want to know. I have one more year before these kids start talking and my oldest asks me where her elf is. And you know when she asks, my hardline will evaporate. 😂