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You are what you post

There is an old ad age that says: “you are what you eat”.

In our house, my husband I and I work to make good dietary choices, eat whole foods and avoid processed products. We are pretty good at staying on track. Until we’re not :) But as the mother of two (almost) teen girls, it’s not their food diet that has me wrapped in worry: it’s their steady diet of social media and technology.

I’ve quoted them before (but I’ll say it again) According to Rawhide.com, American teens are now spending more time in front of screens that ANY other activity. We can only assume the trend is similar for Canadian teens. That scary stat means that teens are consuming more digital media than ANY other activity including: sleeping (with an average 7 hrs/night), school (average 6 hours/day) or exercising (average .7 hours per day)*.

In today’s digital age, there is no faster way to access a teen’s group of friends than through social media. I use the term “friends” loosely because many social media “friends” bestowed with such a title hardly even know your teen at all. No. Through hours of scrolling, clicking, liking and commenting she has been credited those names… a following…. a group…a vacant community of faces in the latest teen commodity: social media followers.

The currency of followers has become so valuable today that teens (specifically young girls) are pushing themselves and their images into over glamorized (and over sexualized) situations in order to fill their feeds with photos worthy of exceptional online attention. I could show you samples but if you’re a Mom of young teen girls I know that you have seen them: hair, makeup, pursed lips, cleavage, innocent eyes….from 14 & 15 year old girls! What’s uber sad about this is not just that young girls have learned to ask their peers to value them as sexual objects but that they blend into a sea of online 14 year old sexual objects.

How does this happen? Did our mothers not begin this battle decades ago? How are we letting our teens demean the fight through social photo sharing?

I’ve heard parents defend this behaviour with “it’s what they ALL do” or It’s just the “norm”. I’m sorry, Wha??

In our house we have a few guidelines:

If you don’t know them, they are not to be followed (if you’re struggling with this one think – have they been to my house?) This means that my daughters have a measly 34 followers but guess what? Don’t care. These are your FRIENDS. You don’t need followers.

Photos are to include something (not just your figure). Validation does not come from people liking your body. It comes from the unique perspective you provide from your photos and comments.

No comments on others’ physical appearance and keep all comments positive. I swear if I had a dollar for every time I read one teen girl refer to another as OMG HOT AF (hot as fuck) or “You’re SO HOT” or “Body GOALS”. Really? We want this exchange?? Nope. No thanks.

 

Now,  I know it’s unrealistic to expect teens to scrub their accounts from the 2000 followers (really? 2000?) they have and re-instate only true friends but can we not unite together to ban inappropriate content (see rule number 2 above)? Should we not encourage our girls to do the same?

We’ve worked so hard to move society beyond dated stereotypes we owe our teens equal access to a community based on personality and wit – not appearance.

The value of being followed leaves teens living to please others instead of pursuing what could make them happy long term: real interests, unique perspectives and intellectual leadership.

Remind your kids that  they are the sum of the choices they make and the images that they broadcast online.

In truth: you are not just what you eat….you are what you post.

Get your Tweens (& Teens) Outside

As the warm weather approaches, we – desperate to feel sun and warm air after months of winter hibernation – run for the parks and paths like long caged animals.

Kids have endless energy and there is no more freeing, boundless play for them then being outdoors. Luckily, young kids still love to hang out with their parents and that’s where example is the best rule: you lead, they follow. Outside.

But when your kids approach tween/teen years, getting outside is not as simple as “let’s go to the park”. Few 12+ year olds want to “hang-out” with their parents in public (unless you are traveling, eating out or in line to pay for their purchase at the Apple Store) and so…. you need to get creative. Even though play styles change with age, it is still vital to tweens, teens and yes, even adults.

According to countless studies as summarized by Business Insider, Outdoor play has been known to improve memory, restore mental energy, reduce stress, improve eyesight, sharpen your creative thinking and analytical abilities. What teen doesn’t need that?  The problem is, how can we do to get at it?

For most modern-day tweens, technology is king. In fact, many would argue outdoor play has died at the expense of technology. Here are some fun ways to get young tweens and teens outside (and in some cases, technology is the impetus).

1. Geocaching

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Geocaching (if you’re one of the few that has not yet tried it) is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices (your phone). Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. To sign up you register for an account , turn on your location services giving you access to hidden treasure in your immediate area. You’ll be amazed at how many on in your neighbourhood – on your street even. As a group you hunt until the treasure is found, marked and returned.

 

2. Digital Scavenger Hunt

Take only pictures – leave only footprints is what nature enthusiasts preach. This is the theme of a digital scavenger hunt. Great for a larger group of mixed ages (we do this at family get togethers) this activity suits all abilities. And hey, you can even take your phone (photos only).

 How to:

a |  Write a list of items ranging from the ordinary to ornate (ie: a bird, a dog, a mailbox, uncle Steve, a footprint, a feather, a lily flower, a wild bull). Give each team of participants a copy of this list.

b  | Participants must find and photograph on ONE DEVICE (a phone, IPOD, tablet) all of the items. Make sure to include places and spaces that are far apart and get creative (ie: a photo of 6 team members by the corner store). Tweens will have a blast trying to find all of the items and will have to communicate and collaborate to get them.

c  | The first team back with all (or the most) items on the list photographed wins.

Oh and have a prize. Tweens don’t go for a high five anymore but “first choice of dessert” or “getting served food at the table by others” usually works well.

3. Nature Mandala Contest

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Mandala from Motte’sBlog.blogspot.ca

 

Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means “circle”. Mandalas generally have one identifiable centre point, from which emanates an array of symbols, shapes and forms. If you want inspiration, check out Motte’s blog and the insanely beautiful photos of nature mandalas. We owe them the above photo credit.

How to:

Hand out baskets and bags and send teens through various terrain looking for natural materials. Remind them that rocks, sticks, feathers and seeds make great content – not just flowers. After a good 30 minutes of gathering, teens return to your home patio, deck or picnic table where everyone arranges their mandalas.

Allow participants to photograph them and save them…shoot …they can even post them on Instagram (they will be so happy for such content!). See above for prizing.

4. Train for something together

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There are so many great Canadian charities to support why not support one with a physical commitment? Find one that motivates your teen by referring to the Canadian Race Guide. Set a goal and train outside together. Invite friends.

One of the happiest runs ever is the Colour Run. a 5k that runs in major cities across Canada. A reasonable distance (5k takes the average runner 35-40 minutes to complete) and a rip-roaring feast of colour and happiness.

 

Outdoor activities – such as these listed – teach the values of team activities:  cooperation and leadership. Tweens & teens are reminded of the rules of play and the joy of being outdoors. They learn to communicate and make REAL connections.

Eventually,  they will use these experiences to initiate their own activities. Through example and experience they will learn that there are ways to entertain themselves outside of technology and social media.

Whatever the strategy, a connection with the natural world is a key part to establishing a sense of self and happiness. It might take a little more effort to get them off of their screens and outside, but it’s worth it. So make a plan. And get outside with your teens.

The Best Bunny Masks

It’s finally spring! For those of you who celebrate Easter, we’ve researched some of the cutest Bunny Masks to sit at your table.

Having a craft on hand when you’re entertaining a large group can calm kids and help them focus. It can also be a great “ice breaker” for cousins or relatives who are shy. For your reference, here are our faves:

1. Playful Learning’s Printable Bunny Mask

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We loved this because it came with a printable and was super easy to make. We added a few more details (a paper nose, white whiskers with white crayon or chalk) to make the craft last a bit longer. Kids really loved wearing these.

2. Mer Mag’s DIY Bunny Mask via Petite Magazine

If you follow her you know Mer Mag is the coolest crafter there is. Her super hip designs always make me swoon and these were ideal for kids who didn’t want to “wear” a mask.

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3. Homelife’s How to make a Bunny Mask

I loved the “outdoor component” to this craft. Anything that involves everyone going outside on a hunt is my BAG. In this case, it was to find the leaves. We ended up using magnolia leaves from my planter but hey…we were outside :)

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Happy crafting and happy Easter everyone! Don’t forget to tag your crafts #thedoodlepost. You could win a free craft kit subscription!

Erin

 

 

 

DIY Cloche

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Materials to make a Cloche: 5″ vase (Dollar Store), 2″ votive (Dollar Store), 1″ Wood Bead (Michaels or Dollar Store), Birch Disk (Michaels or your own backyard if you have a saw) & Flowers.

 

DIY Cloche

Flip the vase over. Glue the Wood Bead to the centre of the top.

 

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It’s easiest if you put the hole side down – so glue can fill the hole a bit.

 

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Glue vase onto the centre of the birch disk.

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Let glue cool for a few minutes before adding water.

Mini cloche arrangement

Add water and flowers. We used 1 large light pink carnation, two dark ruby pink mini carnations and some greenery. All were purchased at the grocery store (since it’s February right now and my garden is frozen!)

Overhead of flower arrangement

Overhead view of same arrangement

Cloche Lid

DIY Cloche

Voila! Perfect gift – for under $5 dollars!

 

 

 

Top 12 Basic Art Supplies

Running a craft business exposes me to a lot of art supplies. And I mean AH-LOT. I have sources all over the country but these are the top 12 materials I would really recommend for your home. They are great quality, very affordable and produce great work. They also make great stocking stuffers!

1. Coloured card stock. Great for cards, mixed media projects and paper punches, these papers are 65lb weight (that’s the thickness) and come in a variety of bright colours. Personally, I like a few packs of white and colour 3 for $15 at Michaels. 2. Elmer’s White School Glue. I find this glue is the best. It does not drip – thick enough to bond quickly for impatient hands $5.49 at Michaels. 3. Prang watercolour paint tray. These semi-moist paints provide brilliant, bold colour in the convenience of a tray. They last a long time and are very affordable at $4.20 each. The tray even comes with a very high quality brush. Yes please! At Spectrum Educational Supplies & Michaels. 4. Washi Tape. This super trendy tape comes in every pattern imaginable. It’s popular because it adds a brilliant pop of colour but it’s also super easy to tear and removes without ruining walls/work. Available for $2-3 a roll at Omiyage.ca. 5. Crayola Oil Pastels. This super set of 16 rings in at about $4. The best part? They are sharpened! Thank you brave genius who realized a flat top to a pastel is not helpful! These pastels provide bold colour and act as a great resist for mixed media projects. At craft stores everywhere. 6. Very Best Mechanical Pencil. I’m not a huge fan of mechanical pencils for kids but when you try this baby you’ll want to convert. It’s wider and easier to hold. The eraser is soft and erases easily. Happiness by International Arrivals. 7. Permanent Sharpie Markers. Okay, admittedly, this is for the slightly older kid. However they made my list because they make an excellent partner for watercolours as they don’t bleed and spread when you paint over top. Available at Staples.ca. 8. Alphabet stamps. Perfect for card making, working with clay or ink these find a million uses around our home – $1.50-$12 (size depending) at Michaels. 9. Waxed string. Super strong and easy to thread. These balls of string run about $7 a ball but last a long time. Available at Michaels. 10. Crayola Markers. A “tried and true” entry. These markers are good quality, wash well and don’t fade. What’s more, their water solubility makes them a great medium for blending with water. At Michaels. 11. Googly Eye Stickers. Turn any sketch into a hilarious character – or use them as an invitation for students to create a portrait. They come in 10 styles on a large roll of 2000. $6.15 at Spectrum Education Supplies. 12. Color-a-peel crayons. These large, sturdy crayons have a finer point – perfect for precision. When they get dull, simply peel away the wrapper to reveal more crayon wax. $14 at International Arrivals.

Happy creating!!

It takes a village…

This week I was in daughter #1’s class for art. She attends a holistic school with blended classrooms (more than one grade in each class) so projects have to appeal to a range of ages. This can be kind of tricky!

Her class has been studying architecture – so I thought it would be fun to discuss the exterior materials for a house. We brainstormed roofing and siding materials (shingles, board and batten, stone) and applied our favourites to these beautiful little houses. The houses came from my friend Pete who builds real post and beam houses, furniture et all. They were almost too pretty to decorate.

First, the sketched their ideas onto the houses with pencil.

Next, they added permanent marker and oil pastel. Water resistant materials were important here since we planned to use paint and didn’t want our lines to smudge.

Lastly, watercolour paint was added. Some also added paper details : chimney, shutters.

The result was a beautiful little village. So cute.

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To Market, to market…

I cannot wait for summer. Not just for the warmer temps (it has been freezing here in Ontario) but for all that summer has to offer: freedom from schedules, longer days and our wonderful farmers markets. This project was build on a brief to “promote local produce”. I enjoyed it so much I made an partner piece “eat real food”. Just looking at them makes me want summer. See you (and maybe these designs) at the market!

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Card stock collage on board

Cupid’s Arrow

Here’s another cute craft: Cupid’s Arrow.The idea was shown to us from the bright talent at 4 Cats while my daughter and I were there doing a  workshop. If you are looking for a great kid-parent activity consider their workshops. The staff is amazing.

We saw these arrows at the cash and had to come home and give them a try.

You will need:

Sharpie Markers (we used red, pink and black)

Feathers (3 or more for each arrow)

Polymer clay (we used Sculpey’s Hot pink and Red)

BBQ skewers

Tape (we used red washi tape

Shape the hearts with either a small cookie cutter or your hand. Poke the skewer in to make a hole. Remove the skewer for baking. Bake according to Sculpey’s instructions. Meanwhile, colour your skewers with the Sharpie markers. Tape three feathers to the end. Once cooked, you can glue the hearts to the end of the skewer. Glue the cooked heart to the end and voila! A beautiful present topper or add a tag and you’ll have the most creative Valentines on the planet. Happy creating!Image 7 Image 9 Image 11 Image 12