How Will You Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week?

The first piece of artwork Biz sold through his art "store."

The first piece of artwork Biz sold through his art “store.”

“When will we be at the next troll?”

“The next troll?” I asked as I turned to figure out what Biz was talking about. He was drawing away in the backseat of the car.

“The troll, Mom. When will we get there?”

“Do you mean the tollbooth?”

“YES! The troll booth.”

“We’ll be to the next one soon. And it’s called a tollbooth. Why do you ask?”

At this point G and my husband were giggling at Biz’s semantics as we drove along the New York Thruway, heading home from an epic Syracuse trip on New Year’s Day.

“Oh. Toll booth. I have a picture for the tollbooth people.”

My husband often lets whoever is sitting behind the driver hand the money to the person at the tollbooth. As the car slows and the window rolls down, he reminds either G or Biz to greet the person in the tollbooth and to remember to say thank you when we drive away. That day, we wished everyone a happy new year.

Our last two stops at the toll booth included a greeting, a happy new year and an original piece of artwork from Biz. It was completely random and completely Biz’s idea.

The first recipient of the artwork was an older woman with a blank face. She received the money and the small picture and didn’t flinch. Until she realized what she had in her hand. My husband explained that Biz, age 5, wanted to give her a picture he drew. Her face lit up with a huge smile, and she shared that she used to teach preschool. She leaned over to personally thank Biz.

The second recipient was a younger woman. When she saw the picture, she smiled an equally big smile, giggled a bit and told us we made her day.

We’ll probably never see those women again, but I’d like to think that we Biz made them a little happier about working a major holiday in a tollbooth. Who knows? Maybe they responded by performing their own acts of kindness.

five_rak_week_balloons-043efa2ac003ba48dc1c9f0ea7dc8265I share this story with you because today marks the first day of Random Acts of Kindness Week. From February 10-16, 2014, you are encouraged to “step out of your normal routine or comfort zone and attempt a new random act of kindness each day.”

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website has tons of kindness ideas and resources. You can even download a RAK Week bookmark, write something kind on it, and leave it in a book you find at a local library or bookstore. Imagine the happiness you’ll spread!

Yesterday, on my Simple Giving Lab tumblr blog, I shared 10 kindness ideas to get you inspired. You can also check out this list I created on SkinnyScoop for even more inspiration.

What will you do to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week?

p.s. Be sure to share your own kindness acts on Simple Giving Lab to inspire others!

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DIY Artwork: Vintage Advertising Collage Art

I live in an old house. As far as we can tell, it was built in 1892. This means that our walls are primarily made of horsehair plaster. This also means that it’s nearly impossible to feel confident about hanging anything remotely heavy on the walls.

Case in point, the shelf housing several of my work binders came tumbling down in my office, barely hitting my brand new 27″ iMac on the way down. Not cool.

I decided to ditch the shelf and put some artwork on the wall instead. Because I look at this wall as I work (which is primarily writing), I wanted it to be something that might inspire me. Or, at least make me smile.

Instead of looking around for artwork, I decided to make my own. (I’m picky, and it would have taken me forever to pick something out.)

I pulled out a collection of old magazines I bought at a flea market. The magazines were from the 1960s and were mainly bought for the ads. I have a degree in advertising and love looking at old, vintage ads. Vintage European ads are pretty awesome as well.

Anyway, I cut out some ads and images that caught my eye using an exacto knife. I then started placing them on a large canvas I bought at our local craft store to make a collage.

Realizing that I would have some white space, I decided to take my acrylic paints out and started to paint the canvas. I used broad, random brush strokes and didn’t pay much attention to making the color consistent. I just wanted a basic background for my vintage ad collage.

Once the canvas was dry, I started to lay out my ads again. The color made a big difference. I then decoupaged the ads to the canvas, using a roller to get them as smooth as possible. (I still ended up with some wrinkles, but I decided it looked kind of cool and didn’t stress over the imperfection.)
I moved the ads around quite a bit as I was decoupaging until I found the arrangement I liked. I was thinking about using some paint to add some extra details to the artwork, but I didn’t want to complicate things. It’s up on my wall now, and I kind of like it the way it is.

What do you think?

The Legible Artwork Milestone: Family Portrait

In the past, I’ve doted written about some of my older son’s artwork. G has created some pretty cool stuff that I love.

Lately, I’ve noticed that Biz is starting to progress in his own artwork. Case in point:

It’s a family portrait, as I’m sure you can see.

My husband is the big bald one. I’m the one (only one) with the crazy hair. G and Biz are floating behind.

Not too shabby for a 3 year old. We’ll eventually get bodies and arms.

As he’ll tell you, he can draw all kinds of things now, like “guys, spiders, water and hot lava.”

The possibilities are endless.

It’s exciting to hit the milestone where you can actually see what your child is drawing without it being explained to you.

Darn, I guess this means my boys are growing up.

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