What to get the teacher who has everything?

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A hollowed out coconut! …but of course!

Ok. so why the coconuts?

Well, sometimes you have it easy. Let’s say for instance, my son who has two female teachers who love my pottery and love gardening…

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IMG_1613I sent them my pottery frogs filled with flowers and had my son write a thank you on some of my bird note cards.

By the time I was done, I wanted to keep them for myself!  Somehow I only have half-dead flowers on my counter that my kids picked me from the yard two weeks ago…bugs and all!…sigh.

Now the problem arises when you have a daughter with two male teachers… as sexist as it is, flowers just didn’t seem fittin’.

The men teachers teach flag football, one is a cyclist and the other a future cop.

Well there’s always the mug of Hershey’s kisses…something tells me they have a few mugs… someone told me a case of beer, which I think would be great, but what message does it send?  There’s always a red apple…hmm, too cliché.

That’s when I thought coconuts!  I saw them at a thrift shop and thought “something tells me my kids teachers may not have pirate coconuts!  I put some gift cards inside and sent them on their way.  My tweenie daughter was mortified!  “Oh my gosh mom, they are so ugly!! You can’t make me bring these in!!!”  I’ve been telling my daughter from a very early age, being our daughter means you’ll be embarrassed for life!  I thought she’d made her peace with it, but apparently I can still get to her! hee hee hee.

So she begrudgingly brought them in for the last day of school and let me tell you, they were a hit!  Her teacher is leaving it in the classroom as a class mascot and all the kids got a good laugh out of it.  My daughter came home smiling.

You see, sometimes you can have a little fun with a token gift of affection… well, except for those times when they go horribly wrong! ;)

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DAY # 342 – A Letter to My Husband on his 39th

 

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To my husband the day after his 39th birthday:

I met my husband in a political propaganda class three months before college graduation.  I can write a couple of pages about our meeting, but simply put.  Three months until we were out in the world.  My husband will tell you he didn’t want to get involved, seeing as how he was graduating, I will tell you, he never had a chance!

17 years later, the reasons I fell in love with him then still hold true.  He is the most caring individual I have ever met.

Now for my story.

3 months before graduation I had been dating a bona-fide rock star – at least he thought he was.  Two months before that, he had taken off for Costa Rica and not even cared enough to tell me.  What can I say, I was young.  Rock band. Drama. Boy friend took off to Costa Rica.  Makes for a great song…don’t it?

About the time I met my future husband, the old rock star resurfaced.  Apparently, after soul-searching on a tropical coast for a few months, he had realized I may have been worth fighting for.  I now had two love interests.

I’ll tell you how I picked the “right guy” for me.  Around this same time, I was getting my wisdom teeth out. You know, I had to take advantage of my wonderful healthcare package before I graduated and became unemployed (pre-Obama Care where you really couldn’t afford a health plan out of college!)

I went home for a few days to recover.  Mr. Rock Star lived by my hometown.  He stopped by to tell me how much I looked like a swollen chipmunk.  From what I recall, that was about what I took with me from that conversation; a swollen chipmunk.  I went back to college and hung out with my roommate pretty much waiting for the swelling to go down, when this guy I barely knew stopped by my room.  He came by to load my dorm fridge.  He had yogurt, ice pops and what ever else he could come up with to make me feel better.

From that moment on, I knew the answer.  This was someone who cared for people. Who cared about people.  This person was special.

This rest is history.  Something in my innate animal brain told me to go after him.  To change his mind. To make him realize that even if he was graduating in three months, that was ok, I could go with.

Somehow amongst all the youth drama I did it.  I got him to marry me. I thank my soul for making the right decision.

This silly little painting depicts are life after that.  We backpacked Europe, got engaged on the Charles Bridge in Prague over pizza, we’ve owned two homes, two cats and had two babies.  We have supported each other in one of the most important aspects of our lives – making sure we both do what we love for a living.  Watching my husbands computer business grow has been like watching our first baby grow.  It’s now a beautiful child with a life of its own.

My husband has always liked fish motifs. They are all over the house. At this point, we all give him things that have fish on them because they remind us of him. He may not even like fish motifs anymore for all we know, but it must be nice to know everyone thinks of you when they associate you with that thing.  So I added the fish motif!

I had no idea what to write in the bubbles above the fish.  It was close to midnight last night when I created this and with what little creative juice I had left, I came up with this:

“Want to get together for eternity?” is a statement.  Being with my husband for 17 years is the longest I have ever done anything.  I have had no job, no car, no dwelling, no locale, no diet, no sweater…nothing that has lasted longer than 17 years.  For a person with a very short attention span, that’s a big deal.  Gosh if we’ve done almost twenty, could we do a lifetime?  It just seems crazy. Crazy cool.

“See you at the finish line” is what I started saying after we had kids.  For the past decade it’s like these wild electrons keep spinning around our nucleus.  Often now, there are days where I feel like I am waving from across the room but never quite make it over to say hi.  On really crazy days when we have more to do than we can handle I yell over to him “see you at the finish line” meaning we may not be able to be together at this moment, but if we have a common place to meet up later, we’ll meet up then.  The joke is that this might be retirement, old age, death or even another lifetime!  That’s how it feels some days. It’s the best way I can come up with to say “Keep running the marathon and if we both keep running the race, if we both support each other, we just might meet up at the end.”

So that’s my sappy story.

I often think my husband must have been a real wicked SOB in his past life to be paying his penance with a lifetime of me.  I’m the lucky one in this scenario and I’m eternally grateful for it.

Happy Birthday Big Lug.  Yesterday was a small marathon in itself.  There was no surprise party, parade or bandstand.  Instead there was grandparents, children and more theatre performances.  Amongst the chaos, there was a quite sweet man turning 39 surrounded by the electrons he calls his family.

I hope to meet him at the finish line.

http://www.becreativemary.com

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DAY#342 – JDOG BDAY CARD

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I just finished today’s painting and I have 4 minutes until midnight!

I wasn’t home all day and started this painting around 9:30 this evening.

Today was my husband’s birthday and this 11×14 gouache painting is a tribute to him.

Unfortunately, I am drop dead tired.  I would love to explain all the hidden meanings throughout the drawing but am afraid I will be absolutely incoherent if I go any further.

With that said, I will attach an amendment to this post tomorrow.

I need some zzz’s

See you in the a.m.

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#341- WE GOT CARDED

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Today the Walsh Clan was positively elfie.

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We got up bright and early and started working on our Christmas cards.

At 9am we enjoyed some breakfast and then all gathered in the living room to watch our all time favorite Christmas movie, “The Muppet Christmas Carol.”  It just wouldn’t be the holiday without it.  We sang our hearts out, laughed a lot and finished decorating our Christmas tree.  By the time we were done, there wasn’t a square inch of tree exposed.  We covered every inch!

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My daughter had two different show times today for “The Dickens’ Christmas Carol” play that she is performing in – 2 and 8pm. This left us juggling most of the afternoon and evening.

Let’s just say 10pm was when I finally got to return to our “creative venture” of the day.

I’m pretty sure I just glued and trimmed over 50 Christmas cards. I’m pooped!

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Earlier today I bought a 50 pack of recycled cardstock and envelopes, 5×7″.

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My daughter’s cards are the red ones.  They win the prize for most fun, most colorful and most graphic punch.  I should have taken a lesson out of her book!

My son’s cards are the soft blue and copper cards.  They have a mystical tranquil feeling.  Sort of like the strange barometric pressure we encounter right before it snows.

My cards are a hodge-podge of styles.  I decorated the cards here and there throughout the day.  I wish I hadn’t felt so rushed.

All said, there are some sweet cards among the pile.  I love reinforcing the notion of handmade gifts with my kids.  In a world filled with mass-production and low quality, it is great to emphasize one-of-a-kind and from the heart. I think all of us can appreciate the time and thought that go into receiving something made by hand. It’s teaching my kids to care.

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DAY # 340 – THE CHRISTMAS SWEATSHOP

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No school today.

It was a personal development day for the teachers.  Boy were my kids psyched!

A day off in December, what on earth could we do?

We decided to deck the halls some more and get into the Christmas spirit.

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Charley our Elf on a Shelf has come to the house.  Today he was hanging in the hall way.

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Way more important than the big green one is our gum drop tree!  It’s one of our favorite traditions.  Every kid that comes to visit heads right to the gum drop tree.  Who am I kidding, the adults do too!

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We are one of those faux tree families.  I just can’t see chopping down trees and throwing them out 3 weeks later.  I’ve had the same tree for over a decade and in this way I sort of feel like it fits my reuse/recycle motto.  My 9-year-old loves building the tree.  She thinks it’s the coolest puzzle ever.  She wanted to do it all by herself this year. She is getting so big and so very independent.

After the tree was set up, we turned on some Christmas music and pulled out all the paints and paper.  It’s time to make Christmas cards!

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My youngest is a tactile abstract kind of kid.  He likes the act of creating texture, smoothing with the brayer and stamping. So I gave him a giant sheet of paper and let him play.  My idea is to chop them up into small 4×6″ pieces and then glue them to pretty card stock.  We got the art made today, card assembly will have to be another day.

My daughter decided to create her own stamps.  She made a tree, snowman, Santa hat, reindeer and mitten.  We got the foundations done today.  Another day she will add details with paint markers.

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For my Christmas cards I sort of went the same way as my son.  I used the brayer to mix paints and create a textured foundation.  I then took some of my handmade stamps and created little vignettes.  Mostly trees and snow.  I plan on cutting up my great big sheet into card sized pieces and then I plan on drawing in birds, kids, and winter scenes. We used this copper paint today.  It looks like a fiery sunset.  I love it.

It was a blessing to have my kids home today.  We all needed some rest and a nice solid block of time to reconnect.

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I fully understand just how quickly it goes and I simply adore days like these.

I am thankful.

http://www.becreativemary.com

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DAY # 261- CELEBRATING THE FARMHOUSE

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I received a last-minute request to help with an invite for my kid’s school.

Since I’m always tinkering with computer graphics, it’s definitely no problem!  I love playing with my Corel Draw program.

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Our school bought an old farm for its campus.  Most of the buildings are not to code and hence not useable.  It will cost tens of thousands of dollars to slowly be able to use the buildings.  First up, was the old farmhouse.  It was renovated this summer and will now house most of the administrative offices.  This then freed up the old school office for classroom space.

Long story short, the school would like to celebrate as well as thank the donors who helped make this project a reality.  Great accomplishment.

I was given the photos above and some ideas of what they would like.  The first photo is of the farmhouse decades ago when it actually was the house on a farm.  The second is what it looks like today.  Not much has changed on the exterior except for the tree growth!  The inside however was completely rehabbed.

The school wanted to feature the building on the invite.  My thoughts were that the snow just didn’t fit for an October invite.  However, I liked the look of the “olden days” photo.  Why not convert the current day farmhouse photo to sepia and give it that 1960’s rounded photo corner.

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Wow.  Now I really notice the sun popping out of that tree.  It gives you a better feeling of just how pretty this farmland is. I also photo-shopped out the orange telephone flags from the new phone installation.  Making headway…

The rest was choosing a suitable color to tie in with the sepia-toned photo, balancing the font styles and sizes, choosing font colors and tying it all together.

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I think the final product gives you a feeling of an old building, yet looks new, crisp and sharp.

I look forward to celebrating the Compass School’s achievement and I’m glad I can find a small way to help..

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#181 – MOO TWO

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I’m on a cow kick!

I just think they are amazingly beautiful.  So sturdy. So solid. this is one of the cows I photographed at the cattle farm on Block Island.

This is my final postcard painted on Block Island.  Today we came back to the mainland to resume our regular life.  Boo Hoo.

It is nice to have a fast internet connection I must say.  I spent many an hour putting the posts together this past week.  It took about 20 minutes to upload a single photograph and of course I had to upload dozens of them.  It was hard not to! I have so many favorites.

Here are my favorites from the past two days:

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I can’t believe my husband and I combined, took 1,594 photos this past week.  I’m psyched.  I shouldn’t have to worry about figuring out what to paint for months!  So many beautiful nature shots.

As for having to work on my 365 Art & Creativity Challenge during vacation,  it was super hard.  There were so many family and friends, not to mention young in’s busy doing something every minute of vacation.  I was afraid of holding people up or not being “present” which caused me to have to work very early in the morning and very late at night.  It sort of took the relaxation out of my trip, but I look at it this way,  it’s only one year.  That’s a drop in the bucket.  One or two vacations altered is nothing.

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Plus.  If I didn’t push myself, I wouldn’t be coming home with a wonderful little collection of souvenirs.  There is a lot of work involved, but there is also quite a bit of reward.

I’m looking forward to working on some more Block Island artwork.  I had a great week.  The island’s beauty is permanently ingrained in my soul.

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#180 – MOO

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Hi everybody.  I have bad news.  I’ve just spent an hour and a half trying to upload photos to WordPress and it keeps failing.  My little vacation cottage on Block Island has the slowest internet connection I’ve ever experienced.  Worse yet, it just fails and you lose whatever you were working on.

I mention this sadly, because I planned on sharing another fun-filled day of photos from the Block, but I don’t have it in me to try for the fourth time to upload and face yet another failed attempt.  I go home tomorrow, so I will wait and post more photos from my speedy computer tomorrow night.

So I leave you with a sweet little 5×8 postcard I created today.  One of my favorite spots on Block Island is this cattle farm on the side of a glacier hill.  You know, a rocky cliff carved out from the ice age.  I love to come visit this farm and watch the cows handle this terrain.  It’s like watching cows walk up and down a black diamond ski trail. They do it and they do it well.  This year there were two little calves running after mom for milk.  Sweet as can be.

I have a really hard time with humans overdeveloping land.  When I come to this place filled with rolling hills, birds and animals, I feel like I get to take a break from worrying about humans out of balance with nature.  Here people are respectful and are trying very hard to conserve their beautiful location, conserve resources, and live harmoniously.  Not one chain store, big box store or cookie-cutter development and yet people can survive here.  Wow.  what’s that tell you?

It is like I’ve gone to a fantasy land.

I won’t start ranting and raving …. I’ll just say, I wish the mainland where I live would cherish its natural resources a little bit more.  Value the green spaces over the allure of more tax revenue. Maybe even listen to all the small people who show up at town hall meetings begging for their areas to be left alone.  I don’t believe in the “power of progress”.  I think too many things around me are mowed, chopped down and leveled without true consideration for our community as a whole.  For society as a whole.  For humanity.  When will we have enough?  When can our country stop surviving on “growth” and move to a model of maintainance?  I’m reminded of the Lorax.  Enough already.  Give more tax relief to the people who do nothing with their land as opposed to the people who dismantle it.

So this is why I chose to vacation in the place I vacation.  Humans celebrating the beauty of nature.  Hiking, biking, beaching, sunset watching, beach combing, star-gazing, trips to the farms.   They are all ways to embrace recreation yet not leave a footprint.

I can get behind that.

I just wish I could stay for more than one week!

http://www.becreativemary.com

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#179 – POSTCARDS FROM BLOCK ISLAND

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Today we woke to the cracking of thunder.

There is nothing like being on vacation, where you don’t have to wake up and you get to stay in bed drowsily listening to the rain come down.

It’s lovely sign of summer.

I painted my postcards to the smell of maple bacon cooking on the stove.  Hot cup of coffee in hand, I got to enjoy a very lazy morning.

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Today the island was covered in a thick blanket of fog.

Not every day can be a beach day.

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We mozied on down to the farm to visit with the animals.

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This alpaca stole my heart.  It’s deep black eyes sparkled in the mist. They are such beautiful creatures.

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Next we waved as a loved one departed on the afternoon ferry.  We are getting to that point in the vacation where more and more of us will be waved to. Vacation is coming to an end.

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So much beauty packed into a very tiny place.  I’m very thankful for being here!

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#170 – THANK YOU DAY

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It’s that time of year again…

When us moms rack our brains trying to think of what to give teachers and bus drivers as thank-yous for taking care of our little cherubs.  Note I said MOTHERS.  Please some man stand up and correct me.  Tell me, as a dad, you are aware that the last week of school and the holidays for that matter, is when you have to come up with a thank you for the people who mean a whole heck of a lot to your kids. Tell me dads; tell me you’ve been feverishly plugging away on Pinterest looking for that perfect momento to sum up a year passed.

Yeah, I though so.

Do I sound a little unenthusiastic about this endeavor?  Yeah, it’s not my favorite. Thank you’s can be a little bit of a stresser for me.

What I know for sure is that I am not supposed to send in a mug filled with Hershey kisses.  My teacher friend confirmed this, they have plenty of candy filled mugs thank you.  I kept probing my school teacher friend.  I said “C’mon, fess up.  What would you actually like?”  My friend was way to gracious to give me the honest to goodness truth.  She just said what you’d expect a really sweet elementary school teacher to say “really, it’s all about the sentiment”.  I said “Fine.  More mugs for you then, you had your chance!”

I then asked my bus driver friend, she said no thank you to perfume but a coffee gift card would be great.  So there you go.  Coffee gift card.  I can do this!

So off I went walking around in circles  in the stores, trying to find the perfect teacher gift.

 I was thinking: What do I think the other families will be giving?  I don’t want to get that.  How much is too expensive?  How much is too cheap?  What is just right?  Do these tokens of affection get saved or thrown in a box in the basement until the five-year mark?

Oh the angst.

(I hope you realize I am just poking fun here.  This really isn’t a big deal, I just thought the angst might be more amusing for you the reader. Ha!)

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So my kids go to an environmental school.   It’s part of the curriculum.  I make them wrapper-free lunches, they drink water from aluminum bottles, they compost food not eaten, they garden, they recycle, they sing Kumbayah….It’s a lovely crunchy-granola existence.   Of course this filters out another 80% of the tchotchke one might come up with for a teacher!  No plastic, no waste, the gift must have a purpose… yadda..yadda..yadda..no pressure here…..

So this is what I came up with:

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I bought enviro-water bottles made from glass and bamboo.  I attached some ice tea bags and dug up some of the most delicious mint I’ve ever tasted.  My girlfriend Erica brought me some last summer.  It is called mojito mint and it’s awesome…maybe the teachers can add a little rum to their mojito mint….Oh wait, I didn’t say that.  It’s for iced tea!

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You would have thought it was catmint the way my cat kept sniffing it!  I used recycled cans to plant my plants.  Good thing right? whew…. and I had the kids create thank you tags with tags I found at our recycling center.  They might look a little homely, but it’s the sentiment right????

I went right out and bought those coffee gift cards but, I did want to make sure there was a little TLC somewhere in there.  I busted out my watercolors and made little school bus gift card holders.

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Inside there’s a pocket and all.  Next I will have the kids write a little thank you on the inside and my quest for the right Thank you gifts will be complete!

Until Christmas time….

I did drop these little tokens off at 3pm today.  I gave the teachers super hugs.  I especially thanked my son’s kindergarten teachers.  This fall they inherited a little monster.  His clothes were backwards and inside-out and he solemnly vowed he would never do anything that resembled “work” if he could help it!  They had their work cut out for them and they are sending me home with a wonderful little student.  The difference is like night and day!  I personally think a bottle of champagne and hair-dye would have been a little more appropriate gift, but I try very hard to come off as “normal”.

What it really comes down to, is I feel silly bringing in these little gifts.  I feel like I should be buying them a vacation home, a 24k  gold medal, maybe even a $100K check for putting up with a Walsh???  There is no gift in the world that can equivalently convey their importance in our lives.  Their patience. Their positivity.  Nothing.

As the teachers struggled to get all the kids back-packs on, their papers sent home, their final reminders about tomorrow, I faded into the background.  The school returned to humming with activity.

We got to say our thank-yous, but really, I don’t think they’ll ever know just how great we think they are.

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