Growing little librarians

This is the first toy I’ve seen this year that I’m considering buying for my niece!

“Little Librarian will provide book lovers with everything they need to transform their book collection into a library. Kids can practice the important skills of organizing, sharing, borrowing, and returning. Book pockets, check out cards, library cards and bookmarks are just like the ones from a real library. Little Librarians will issue overdue notices and awards. Favorite book memories can be stored in your reading journal and shared with friends. To get started, just add books! ”

Check it out here.


Intergenerational accordion art book making

The Senior Coastsiders hosted my 2nd book making class offered in Half Moon Bay. Open to all ages with first class spots reserved for elders, we ended up with a mix of ages. Two women brought their daughters.

I first taught how to make the hard covers and how to integrate that with the accordion folded pages. Then the participants took off running, using collaging materials, pens, pencils, sequins, magazines to embellish their interior pages.

Everyone created something special. One woman created a memory book for a sick friend.

I especially enjoyed watching the mother/daughter interaction. What a wonderful way for them to spend a couple of hours together.

I look forward to offering more book making classes soon.

High School Students Honor Gifts of their Family

I was honored to teach a workshop to youth at the Asian Counseling Resource Services up in Seattle in February. Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) is the largest multiservice organization serving all the different Asian Pacific American communities – immigrants, refugees and American born – in the Pacific Northwest. Their mission is to promote social justice and the wellbeing and empowerment of Asian Pacific American individuals, families and communities – including immigrants, refugees and native born – by developing, providing and advocating for innovative community-based multilingual and multicultural services.

The Gifts of our Family workshop was 3.5 hours and offered to youth involved in ACRS’s student community advocate program. They came equipped with photocopies of family members they wanted to focus on in the workshop. Different loved ones were honored including uncles, mothers, nephews, cousins, sisters, and brothers.

I began by showing a slideshow of how I create art of my family using found objects, photographs, and writing. I then conducted a short visual meditation to get them in tune with details and memories of their loved one. They did some writing of memories, words, descriptions of their family member.

Next I demonstrated painting a background using acrylic paints. The students really enjoyed this part of the lesson and some did many layers of paint, using a blow dryer between colors.

It was time to add the photographs and writing. I appreciated the camaraderie which developed among the students, as they told stories about the family members they were focusing on. Many of the youth had not met before.

Lastly they embellished their pieces by gluing materials like shells, flowers, sticks. Some of the students used needle and thread to accent their pieces. The sewing reminded them of an activity they did with their mother. Two girls added string weavings, another memory of something they did as children.

We originally started out with the idea of cutting out a circular shape for the completed pieces, but some students used the whole paper for their creations so we decided to keep those intact.

At the end of the workshop each student stood up and proudly showed their art. Each of them got a round of applause from their fellow artists.

The pieces are currently displayed at ACRS. Below are some of the pieces which were made in the workshop.

Hina Matsuri, Girl’s Day, March 3


When I was a young girl, my mother and I would set up my Girl’s Day dolls on March 3. My grandmother purchased these for me and to this day they are one of my most prized possessions. The Castle came all packed in a box and had to be assembled and the dolls unwrapped and set-up. I felt a little guilty for having such a lavish set of dolls because my mother’s dolls had been burned during the war because they could not have any Japanese materials.

In Japan they have quite large doll displays, which makes mine look minuscule. We never got into all the other rituals around Girl’s Day, but I found out that “it is a day that Japanese families pray for their daughters’ happiness and prosperity. Families with daughters display special dolls arranged to reflect social order. Peach blossoms, cube and diamond-shaped rice cakes, and white sake are part of this celebration. The peach blossoms are symbolic of several ‘feminine’ traits as well as happy marriage. They are used in Hinamatsuri rituals to remind the participants that girls should aspire to these qualities.” via trendhunter. I’m glad we didn’t go through all that since it sounds so sexist!

Next year I plan on having a Girls Day celebration in my new, larger art studio for all us gals and any little girls that want to show up.

Invitation to write a story about your mother

Since Mother’s Day is coming up, maybe you are thinking about your mom like I am.

I’d like to invite you to write a story, an experience about your mother. It could be a story you heard or an interaction you had with her. Anything really that you would like to share. You could add it to the comments and then it will be shared with who ever reads this blog and anyone you want to send the link to.

I’ll start off with a story about my mom…

momI really have my mom to thank for me being an artist and an art teacher. When I was around 3 or 4 years old, she was trying to find some kind of activity that I would like to do. First she tried swimming. I think she really wanted me to learn how to swim because she wasn’t so hot at it, even though she grew up in Hawaii. Well, I did not do too well at that. (Though I did learn eventually, but that is another story). Then she took me to ballet lessons. I was not too graceful, kinda an ugly duckling type, so that did not last too long. Well, what next? How about art? She took me to a wonderful art teacher named Donna. Donna was very kind and patient. I mostly remember drawing cats and dogs. After that I was constantly drawing. The refrigerator was covered with my art. All my aunts got letters stuffed with my drawings. As I grew older, my mom the teacher, would have me work on her bulletin boards in her class room. I learned to work large. The subject matter was anything from season themed to lessons on geography or science, what ever she was focusing on with her students. I’m glad she kept at it at an early age, to find the right fit for my interest and talent.

A world without men

I just read that most endocrine disruptors were never tested for their impact on human health and this stuff is in our perfumes, plastic wrap, baby bottles and more. Now some weirdness is entering the population – read on.

“Gender-bending industrial chemicals are skewing the birth ratio in favor of baby girls. Could a world without men be a few short generations away?

Last summer a team of Scandinavian scientists announced that twice as many girls as boys are being born in the Arctic, a region said to serve as a “pollution sink” for the rest of the planet. Earlier in the year a report from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences determined that the ratio of male-to-female births has substantially dropped in the United States and Japan, yielding about 250,000 fewer boys than would have been born had the sex ratio circa 1970 endured. In both cases, researchers pegged environmental exposures as a probable factor in the shortage of boy births.

As more and more research reveals a decline in the number of bouncing baby boys born each year, scientists are zeroing in on a class of synthetic chemicals known as endocrine disruptors.”

Read more at: Common Grounds

Girls design their own keyboards

I thought this was fascinating! Interesting input from the new generation. Mostly I love the creativity of these kids!

The Laptop Club 
When is your kid old enough to use a computer? Even “wired” moms are leery of letting the little ones go at it lest they become addicted, but now comes The Laptop Club, a bunch of 7-to-9-year-olds (mostly girls) at a North Carolina Montessori after-school program, who draw their own keyboards on construction paper and wear them out with constant use. These kids came up with this idea without adult coaching. “….the paper laptops have keyboard buttons assigned to “,” “best friends” next to “friends,” “HP [Harry Potter] trivia.”

Read more here:

girls for change


I just found out about this group for girls that sounds fantastic. wish it was around when I was a teenager. it is called “girls for change“. their tagline is “a national organization that empowers girls to create social change”. I love that they made up this word, “self fullness”- a balance of personal health, personal growth, and self-care.

Here are some examples of what the silicon valley chapter has done:

  • 300 middle school students participated in a week long campaign to “Pulverize Peer Pressure”
  • 50 community members learned about the genocide in Darfur
  • 250 high school students, middle school students, and adults participated in workshops on how media impacts gender relations
  • 15 continuation high school senior girls attended the school’s first annual weekend retreat to build sisterhood and life skills
  • 50 middle school students learned about immigration raids and how to advocate for immigrant rights
  • 50 community members attended a launch event for a team-produced gang prevention magazine

I thought this was an interesting project which was formed and carried out by teenage girls:

Team 42 aimed to educate students, administrators and parents/guardians about tactics military recruiters use at the high school level to get students to enlist in the Armed Forces. The girls shared their personal experiences with military recruiters and researched what they believe are tricks that the recruiters use to get students to join. Through their research they found that students of color and students from low income communities are often specifically targeted. The girls believe that these tricks used by recruiters lead to young people making choices based on false information. They hope to raise awareness so that young people, especially young people of color from low income communities, are making informed and empowered choices about their futures.

each year 1,000+ teen girls gather with 500+ professional women for the most powerful and respected girl conference in the country: GFC’s Girl Summit. together girls gain the self-esteem, skills and resources it takes to change the world. throughout the day, girls are inspired by speakers, performers, social change workshops and–most importantly–each other.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
San Jose Convention Center

they are accepting workshop proposals until Sept 25, and there are opportunities for volunteers, etc – think about it!