*A* and I are spending a quiet day at home today, which suits us just fine. It’s frigid outside, super windy, we’re both recovering from rather nasty colds, and as I’ve spent much of the week being a bachelor (*A*’s been at a counseling conference for the past several days, like she did last year), I’m happy as a clam just being in the same room together and just being low-key today.
It feels like there’s been a lot of build-up for Valentine’s Day these past few weeks, at work, of all places. Doodlebug Club has grown in attendance in the past month or so, so I started teaching a second session. (I’ve also started teaching an After School Art Class for kids ages 6-10, too, so I feel like I have kids’ paint staining my hands and under my fingernails all week long!) Two weeks ago in all three classes, we started a Valentine’s Day service project, making valentines for a local extended care / rehabilitation hospital and for a nearby nursing home.
The preschoolers in Doodlebug Club painted unlined 4 x 6 index cards with liquid watercolors the first week, while the older kids in After School Art Club used tempera paint. After they dried, the semi-thin paper started to curl (as expected), so I used several stacks of heavy wallpaper sample books to smoosh them flat again. Perfectly flat by the next week’s class, we used heart-shaped paper punches in two sizes to punch holes in some of the painted cards, and used the other ones for backgrounds upon which to glue the heart shapes we punched. The cards turned out really nicely – and we ended up making about 160 total from the three classes.
This project was a great one to do with the kids, and an important one too. It was our first service project and throughout making the valentines, we talked about the people we’d be giving them to, and what it means to be nice to someone having a bad day, or who is sick, and how fun it is to do something for another person.
I came up with the idea of taking them to these two local facilities after reflecting on going to nursing homes with my grandmother when I was young. She belonged to a group at her church called the Autumn Leaves (mostly little old ladies) who would do various little things for people. Every week, they visited a couple of nursing homes and sang hymns around a piano. As a kid, I was a sort of mascot, passing out hymnbooks and allowing my head to be patted and cheek to be pinched. I remember many conversations with the people we visited, who seemed so lonely. I couldn’t understand why no one visited them; those places seemed so depressing. I hope the cards the kids made cheered up some folks and gave them a smile on Valentine’s Day.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of them before I handed them over. They were really cute little pieces of art, though.
In Doodlebug Club, we did another project for Valentine’s Day – which also coincides with Random Acts of Kindness Week. We used a modeling clay material called Sculpey, which hardens when you bake it, but retains it color perfectly. Using 1.5″ heart-shaped cookie cutters, we cut out hearts from Sculpey in various valentine-y colors that we smooshed and rolled flat into about a 1/8″ thickness. I’d never worked with Sculpey before, and while you have to be careful that what you buy is soft enough to mold with your hands (some of it was dry and brittle – you have to buy some sort of softening liquid to make it more pliable), it blends and marbleizes in really cool ways. The kids had a lot of fun making these – as did their moms / dads / grandparents helping them!
Here’s how these fit into Random Acts of Kindness Week: each child made quite a lot of these (at least 10 each) the first week, and this past week (after I took them home to bake them), I handed each kid the hearts they made while talking to them about kindness, and what that word means. They had a pretty good grasp of it, and understood that these hearts are meant to be given out to people they wanted to be kind to, or to do something special for to show their appreciation.
These two art projects were a lot of fun to do with these groups of kids, and I’m glad they learned something else in the process. Doing things for others and learning what it means to be kind is an invaluable lesson that we all need to remember. We all have a whole lotta love to share – we should do it more often!
And, of course, I couldn’t help thinking how much fun it will be to do these same projects with our Littlest someday. Talk about a whole lotta love – we’re really looking forward to our first Valentine’s Day with our Littlest – and re-learning over and over again with him or her how much fun it is to do stuff for other folks.
We hope you all have a very happy Valentine’s Day!
What’s this blog all about?
Welcome to The Littlest Brooks-Livingston! We’re happy you’re here! We began this blog in January 2013 to document our adoption story. Check out this page to find out more about the two of us – *E* and *A* and to read more about our hopes of adopting a baby through open adoption.
What is Doodlebug Club?
In short, Doodlebug Club is great practice for being a dad! I work at an art and history museum, and one of the best parts of my job is working with kids. I teach a weekly preschool art class called Doodlebug Club, where I get to try out all sorts of ideas that will become some of the fun things that we will do with our Littlest Brooks-Livingston. I’ve never had any real art training, but I think it’s a lot of fun, and to me, it’s very important to make art more approachable than it ever seemed when I was a kid.If you’d like to read about more of the projects we’ve done in Doodlebug Club, click here. Check out my Doodlebug Club Pinterest board here.