Halloween and Little Feet

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Finally, the seasons are changing! Here in California, as I am sure you are aware, we have been dealing with a drought that has claimed the lives of countless lawns and put dramatic water restraints on all of us. This parched earth has not been made easier with our sporadic triple-digit temperatures that seem to pop up out of nowhere. However, it seems that a reprieve is imminent.

For the last 5 days in a row, we have had to close the windows in the house at night and turn the heater on the early morning hours. Before the dust could burn off the grates, we have rushed to storage and taken down the bins of autumn and Halloween decorations to properly receive the season.

As our annual archeological dig commenced we were once again reminded of our bounty and how they came to be in our possession. So much of our décor was created with the help of our young children as a testament to their growth as well as the holiday.

Here are our 4 favorite items and how they were created.

 

  1. Spiders and Ghosts on Canvas: For our son we painted a canvas all black then let him put his bare feet into a plate of white paint. He then proceeded to place his foot onto the now dry canvas. When the picture is turned upside down, his foot is the shape of a ghost. Let dry and draw in eyes and a mouth! For our baby, we were a little more hands on (literally). For her we painted her canvas bright orange then painted her little sausage hands black then pressed her whole hands on the now dry canvas. When turned upside down they look like spiders. Add a few cobwebs, eyes and the work “EEEK” at the bottom and voila!

 

  1. Monster Hands: For this we traced our kid’s hands, all the way up to their forearms, on green construction paper. Then we cut them out and glued them to a black and orange sheet of paper. We then gave them dried beans and lentils to glue wherever they wanted on the hand. This gives the effect of warts and lesions. With a couple of candy corn nails, you have monster hands.

 

  1. Window Spiders: On the inside of the windows to their bedrooms we took black paint and again painted, or let them put their hands in. Then they press their hands to the windows with the left and right fingers facing out and the palms overlapped to make a really large spider right on the window. They can then wait for the paint to dry and scrape off the eyes.

 

  1. Outdoor Ghost: We bought a cheap white bed sheet and inflatable ball from the local drug store. Cut a hole in the top of the sheet and place the ball in the middle of the sheet. Run a string, rope or wire hanger through the hole in the sheet and attach to the ball, then draw a face on the ghost. We have our ghost hanging outside the dining room window from the roof and lit him from underneath with a floodlight. Ours is a friendly ghost with soft eyes and a smile as to not scare the little’s when the wind blows.

One of the major things to take into consideration when doing any of these projects is things will most likely get messy. Paint very rarely goes exactly where you want it to when applied to your toddlers, so be sure and use patience and washable paint. The best part of these projects (with the exception of our friendly ghost) is that year after year you get to see the growth of your little ghouls, and of course the kids think that being allowed to draw on them is a blast.

Happy Haunting!

Corporations and Philanthropy

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Perhaps you have witnessed the amazing exposure that we have been receiving over the last few weeks. What started out with a local newspaper interview led to a different radio station featuring us as their “feel-good story of the week”. This in turn is where the proverbial dominoes began to topple and before we knew it, BuzzFeed did a compilation video on us, UpWorthy did a piece, The Mighty proved incredibly lucrative and before we could scoot a box of crayons out of the way, NBC Nightly News contacted us as well as Canada and Europe. We had gone viral! Our social media channels blew up our numbers/response times remain impressive.

One of the unforeseen snags in this whole experience has been generating support from each level of need. Literally overnight, we had groups forming all over the country, and beyond, to collect crayons and send them to us, which is amazing. We have even had people offering to help sort and melt, but the one thing that has been steady is that we continue to feed our dream out of our personal home, melting in our personal kitchen and storing crayons in our personal garage.

The support and supply line is starting to outgrow our capacity. To take the next logical step in our growth, maximize our reach to the kids in hospitals and move in tandem with the outpouring of physical support, we need corporate sponsorship. This set us to wondering how and why would corporations donate to non-profits that clearly have the attention of millions of people.

 

Why They Donate

Many companies contribute out of a combination of altruism and self-interest, and it is nearly impossible to determine where one leaves off and the other begins. The attitudes of top management more than any other factor seem to impact the giving philosophies of corporations. Often the personal lives of the people in charge play a major role and the philanthropic arm reaches out through their teams to find a message that rings in them viscerally. Other reasons they give have a more bottom-line effect and involve the image factor of the company that is going to be represented, such as:

  • Influence legislators and other opinion makers.
  • Build better public and community relations.
  • Improve the quality of life in the geographic locales in which they operate. (Cleaner, safer, better-educated communities are good for business.)

 

This was all extremely interesting to us, and as we continue to grow (some days at an alarming rate) we look to learn as we seek other to help us expand. The bottom line is that we are very interested in sharing our growth and are certainly ready to do so. With the amount of volunteers out there actively collecting and the amount of children in need of our crayons in hospitals around the world, the time is now! Are you interested in taking us to the next level? Contact us simply by filling out this form or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

What Exactly Is Labor Day?

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Well, another Labor Day has come and gone, and once again, here are the takeaways: Most got a three-day weekend, those that had to work dealt with a manageable level of traffic and we are once again unsure if we are allowed to wear anything white now for the rest of the year. But what really is Labor Day?

We will give a brief history of how the holiday came to be and what it means today. Sufficed to say, you can safely wear all the white you want.

How It Started

In September 1882, the unions of New York City decided to have a parade to celebrate their members being in unions, and to show support for all unions. At least 20,000 people were at the parade and anybody that came gave up a days work.

By 1887 Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Colorado made Labor Day a state holiday based on the success of their own parades held for the same reasons.

 

Who Exactly Started It?

Matthew Maguire, a machinist, and a carpenter have been linked to the 1882 parade. The men were from rival unions and because of their similar-sounding names the actual credit has been lost in time. In 2011, Linda Stinson, a former U.S. Department Labor Historian was tasked with deeming the creator and she arrived at the same conclusion. Hence, we give credit to both men.

President Grover Cleveland and lawmakers in Washington wanted a federal holiday to celebrate labor and Cleveland signed an act in 1894 establishing the federal holiday “Labor Day”. Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to make Labor Day a federal legal holiday on the first Monday of September. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

 

What’s Up With the Whole Wearing White Thing?

This old tradition goes back to the late Victorian era. Because the date of Labor Day was officially September 1st, it became the mark of the end of summer. Wearing white was considered a fashion faux pax after the summer holiday as it was considered the color most associated with vacation attire and to be worn at your summer cottage. We have long surpassed this fashion snafu and are more than free to wear whatever we like.

 

So there you have it. Not unlike other days and celebrations we celebrate as a nation, there is great meaning and historical significance to Labor Day. People have suffered long and hard for the right to take a day off, so do recognize the people that build our country and tip them the hat, even if it is white.

[BLANK] As ART #3, Nature

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So at this point we have reached the understanding that “art” is emotional. If for some reason you have not been privy to the first two posts in regards to redefining art, then please take a moment to scroll back through the blogs, don’t worry we will wait.

[Blank] As Art #1                      [Blank] As Art #2

Ok, is everybody back? Let’s proceed.

Art is so much more than colors on canvas, a sculpture of a figure in time or a charcoal sketch of a bowl of fruit. Art is where we go to escape, to take a break from the daily grind of life and find the peace and solitude needed in order for us to tune back into our soul. By this simple criterion, is there anything in the universe more fitting to be dubbed “art” than nature? We think not.

Nature is the very essence of art. When one communes with nature the points of conscience and sub-conscience are alerted in our bodies as they align and tune. Our chakras open up and a steady circular current of positive energy flows in a snake-like pattern from one to the other. Sorry, I actually just slipped into mini-mediation.

Buddhist monks use the mantra and meditative chant of Ohm, but do you know what Ohm is? Ohm is the natural sound that our planet makes when one quiets their mind enough to hear it. It is literally the electrical hum of energy that radiates from our planet. Guess where the monks came to hear this sound? NATURE, correct.

Mother Nature herself is the world’s oldest artist and everything she touches is her brush to canvas. A sunset over a mountain range or the wind swept patterns in a sand dune, are exactly the feeling that millions of artists have been trying to recreate for centuries, and she nails it every time without trying.

Watch any documentary on any animal species in our kingdom and report back to me if their existence is not art. In the animal world, there are instincts and patterns of how they manage their survival and often their intricate markings as a painter’s pallet. Our human skin is boring by compression.

There will be naysayers always, and while I believe that to argue against nature as art is as feeble as arguing that fire is not hot, or water not wet, I do reserve one final example that is a “drop the mic, walk away” moment. The Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights) is the sweeping green, yellow and red lights that swoosh across our magnetic poles. “Auroras are produced when the Magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the Solar Wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both Solar wind and magnetospheric pressure, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere), where their energy is lost. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying color” (thanks, Wikipedia).

 

So there you have it, nature is art in the rawest and untethered sense. Anywhere you look in nature, you are sure to be emotionally swayed in one direction or another, and that is how I define “art”.