"If the World Was Crazy..." Poems

I've been out of the classroom for over 12 years now. While I have kept my teaching credential current just in case, I have no plans to return to classroom teaching. Trevor has largely outgrown the teaching materials I've been keeping and using with him to supplement the education he gets in public school. I'm not getting rid of everything, but it's time to go through my teaching materials and pass them on to someone who will use them. 

In the process, I came across a poem I wrote as a sample for my students in 2005. After reading "If the World Was Crazy..." by Shel Silverstein, I challenged each student to write their own version of the poem. The original poem has three stanzas. In the first, the author describes what he would eat if the world was crazy. In the second, what he would wear, and in the third, what he would do. I asked my students to write a one-stanza poem using a different verb than eat, wear, or do. Anything else was fair game. We brainstormed some good options (i.e, one syllable verbs that rhyme with something): play, go, cook, taste, try, use, ride, learn, hear, feel, etc.

I wrote my example, using the verb cook, in front of the students. I demonstrated counting syllables and following the meter and rhyming structure of the original poem. They loved watching me write a silly poem and were very excited to give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn't save copies of my students' work, which is a shame as some were really fun and creative. I am so glad I saved my own. Last week (thirteen years after writing the poem), I added some illustrations to accompany it, which I'll pass along to a teacher friend to use as a sample. 

As I was looking for links to Shel Silverstein's site, I came across this delightful version of "If the World Was Crazy." It makes me want to animate my poem. Watch with the volume up. 

Shel Silverstein was one of a kind. I am so glad to have grown up with, and passed on to my students, his whimsical and unique poetry.


Color Me Creative

I was browsing at the library during Trevor's book club meeting and came across a really cool book by Kristina Webb. Kristina is a young artist from New Zealand, best known for her Instagram art. Her book is unlike anything I've seen before. The first half of the book is an illustrated autobiography (which is fascinating) and the second half has 50 creative challenges. 

Color Me Creative (affiliate link)

The autobiography portion is reason enough to get this book. Despite her young age, Kristina Webb has led an extremely interesting life. The text is beautifully illustrated with her artwork from throughout her life, including scans of drawings from early in her childhood. 

But the real treasure for me is the second half of the book. Kristina has included 50 fun and unique challenges, designed to be completed directly on the pages of the book. I was so inspired to jump in and create. Because it was a library book, I obviously couldn't start coloring on the pages. (Bummer.) Instead, I figured out a way to cut an arc from copy paper, line it up with Kristina's face drawing, and draw on the paper rather than the book. 

The prompt for the Headdress Challenge says, "Finish off the drawing of this girl and give her something fun on the top of her head. A flower wreath, perhaps, or a beautiful crown? A massive bow? Maybe even animal ears. Whatever you decide, just have fun with it."

And I did. I styled her hair with a bun on top of her head. Then I added a whimsical bun wrap.   

I colored in her blonde hair first, then dotted her chocolate brown bun wrap with colorful sprinkles. The cherry is part of the bun wrap. 

In retrospect, her hair looks more like spaghetti and meatballs than the ice cream sundae that inspired me... except for the sprinkles. My nephew went through a stage in life from about age 2-5 when he put sprinkles on EVERYTHING he ate, but other than that, I can't recall ever seeing sprinkles on spaghetti. So I'm committed to my original idea. It's an ice cream sundae. 

I did a few more of Kristina's challenges before returning the book to the library. I'll wait to complete the rest of them when I have a copy I can write in. 

I highly recommend Color Me Creative! The book is so much fun and would make a wonderful gift for girls and women who love to be inspired creatively and enjoy drawing. 


Trevor at 12

Here's my annual "Trevor at..." layout. It's crazy that he's 12!

Trevor at 12 (affiliate link)

This was the third of three layouts I recently finished away from home. I somewhat like it, but I would have chosen a different font for the title and a different way of highlighting the 12 if I'd had my entire stash at hand. Still, I am very happy to have finished it and pleased that I was able to do something I'd never done before. 


Dimensional Beaver Cards

When I said I'd created gifts for the Beaver Patrol, you knew I'd made coordinating cards, right? 


Dimensional Beaver Cards


  • brown cardstock
  • white cardstock 
  • paper trimmer
  • scissors
  • brown marker
  • black marker
  • craft glue


Prepare the materials. Use the paper trimmer to cut:
  • brown cardstock - 9" x 3.5"
  • white cardstock - 8.5" x 3" 

With scissors, cut: 
  • two white teeth
  • two white eyes
  • two brown ears
  • one brown nose
  • one brown tail 

Use the brown pen to outline the nose and draw crosshatches on the tail. Use the black pen to draw pupils on the eyes. 

Fold the brown paper into thirds. Glue two teeth onto the top and two ears on the sides. 

Center the white paper on the brown paper and glue it in place. It will trap the ears and the teeth. Refold the brown paper, which will add folds to the white paper that is now glued to it. 

Glue the nose and eyes to the front of the card. 

Fold a small flap on the end of the tail, then glue that tab to the card. You want the tail to flop down when the card is out of its envelope...

.... but fold up for mailing. 

Quick trivia question: What do you call a group of beavers?

Answer: Colony.

Steve used all of the beaver cards I made, but I like them so much I may need to make more. Although now that I think about it, are there occasions that really call for a beaver card? International Beaver Day is April 7, so maybe that's just the occasion I need to justify more cards. 


How to Sew a Drawstring Bag (Even if You Don't Know How To Sew)

If you know how to sew anything more complicated than a straight line, this tutorial is not for you. Feel free to follow one of the many drawstring bag tutorials out there that assumes you speak fluent Sewing and are adept at the basics. My tutorial will be WAY too basic for you.

If you don't know how to sew anything more complicated than a straight line, and (like me) even that is iffy, you've come to the right place! Welcome and read on. I am optimistic that by the end of my tutorial, you will know how to sew a drawstring bag.


How to Sew a Drawstring Bag

1. Pick your material. Avoid anything slippery, silky, prone to snagging, super thick, or otherwise a pain to sew. In other words, choose a printed cotton. (I used a Mini-C 1815 by Timeless Treasures.)

2. Determine the size you want for your finished drawstring bag. Mine is 6" tall and 4.5" wide. Cut the fabric twice as long as the final length you want plus two inches, and a half-inch wider than the final width you want. So I cut my fabric into a rectangle 14 inches tall (6 x 2 + 2 = 14) and 5 inches wide (4.5 + 0.5 = 5).

3. Choose a coordinating cord for the drawstring. I used this (affiliate link). You will need TWO pieces of cord per bag, each a minimum of 3 times as long as your finished bag is wide. So my cords were about 13.5" (4.5 x 3 = 13.5).

4. Thread your sewing machine and bobbin with a color that goes with your fabric. I used black.

5. Heat your iron to the appropriate setting (cotton, if you followed my advice in Step 1). Even if you hate to iron, don’t skip this step. It makes the sewing so much easier. Put the fabric wrong-side up on the ironing board. Working with the long ends first, fold over 1/4” and iron it flat. Now do the same for the shorter sides.

6. Sew a line down the center of the folds on each short side. This will trap the folds on the long sides. 

7. Fold each of the short ends over 3/4” and iron them flat.

8. Sew the flaps closed by stitching along the seam that is already there. This will leave a large enough pocket to hold the cord. Backstitch each end to reinforce it.

9. Fold the fabric in half with the right sides touching. Orient the pockets you just created toward yourself. Starting at the fold, sew until just before you reach the pocket that will hold the cord and stop. Reinforce the seam. Repeat on the other side.  

10. Trim any threads and then turn the bag right side out.

11. Now it's time to feed the cords through the pockets. I was taught to do this with a safety pin, but it's much easier with a dowel (or a chopstick) because it is difficult to poke through paracord without unraveling it. Tape the end of one piece of cord to the dowel.

12. Thread the cord through one pocket and then the other until both ends are on the same side. Remove the dowel. 

13. Tape the second piece of cord to the dowel and insert it from the opposite side as the previous cord. Continue through the second pocket and out the same side where you started. Remove the dowel. Your cords should look like this:

14. Tie the two ends together on each side of the bag using an overhand knot. Cut off any extra cord close to the knot and use a match to seal the ends. 

As you might have guessed, these were gifts for the Beaver Patrol. I'm ridiculously proud of myself for figuring out how to make them and actually sewing something that Steve would want to give as a gift. I hope the tutorial has helped any of you who feel as incompetent with sewing as I do!


Mini Me

This is the second of the three layouts I finished away from home. I'm particularly proud of this one because I made do with random scraps of paper, a very incomplete alphabet sticker sheet (look closely and you'll see that I had to frankenstein some of the letters I needed), and very limited embellishment choices.

Mini Me (affiliate link)

I'm super happy with this page. Love my little Mini Me!


Bear Valley 2018

Usually when I get together with my friends to scrapbook, I will bring a huge stack of photos and spend the day cropping them down, deciding on their physical layout on the page, and selecting patterned papers for each page. I can do all of these easily while chatting. I bring home the big stack of incomplete layouts to do the title work, embellishing, and journaling later. In the case of the title and embellishing, this is because I don't want to schlep every letter sticker and embellishment I own to a crop. With journaling, I have to concentrate in a way I can't when I'm chatting.

Or so I thought.

During our most recent scrapping get-together, I challenged myself to completely finish at least one layout, including journaling. I brought along a few sticker sets and some all-purpose die cuts and forced myself to use them instead of waiting to see if there was a better option at home. I did my journaling on strips, which I glued to the page, instead of writing directly on the layout. That way I could correct a mistake if I needed to, since I wasn't giving 100% of my focus to the journaling.

I am really happy with how my layout turned out.

Bear Valley 2018 (affiliate link)

I was so proud of myself for successfully finishing a page away from home that I kept going and ended up with two other pages 100% done. I'll share those soon. Yea, me!


13 Helpful Tips for Visiting a State Capitol with Kids

Since 2014, our family has visited 20 of the 50 State Capitol buildings. I've learned a lot during those visits and have 13 tips to make your family's Capitol visits as fun, educational, and hassle-free as possible.

Sacramento, California

There are many excellent reasons to visit Capitol buildings when you travel. First, and perhaps most obvious, visiting a Capitol is very educational. Even if you don't take a tour, simply entering the building and poking around a bit reveals so much about the history, economics, resources, and values of that state.

Des Moines, Iowa

But whenever possible, take a tour. Many Capitols offer guided tours and they are always free. I've often called ahead, but none have required reservations for a small family group like ours. Most tours are geared toward kids 4th grade and up. If your kids are 10+, definitely take guided tours whenever they're offered. They often take you into parts of the building that are off-limits without a guide. 

Lincoln, Nebraska

When a guided tour isn't available, ask at the information booth about a self-guided tour. Most states will provide you with a guidebook that tells you everything you'd hear if you were on a guided tour. 

Boise, Idaho

Check the website ahead of time to see if there are special activities for children. We've found scavenger hunts, trivia questions, I-Spy challenges, crossword puzzles, word searches, state symbols coloring pages, and all sorts of other printable materials for kids of all ages. Sometimes there's a small prize for completing them.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Start and end your visit in the Welcome Center, if there is one. This is where you'll find hands-on activities that make the Capitol come alive for kids. By visiting first, they can preview some of what they're going to learn on the tour. Afterward, they'll appreciate the games, models, and toys more after seeing the information firsthand. 

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

When you visit, be sure to tour the grounds as well! Some Capitols have beautiful gardens, interesting statues, inspiring monuments, and other surprises. You'll likely find squirrels, birds, or other local wildlife, too. (We've seen bunnies more than once!)

Charleston, West Virginia

Be prepared when you visit a Capitol. Security varies widely from state to state; you can walk right in to some, others have metal detectors, and some have security that is similar to what you'd experience at the airport. Carry photo ID - passports are best. Leave pocketknives and similar items in your hotel room or in the car. 

Columbus, Ohio

Talk with your kids about the architecture of the Capitol when you visit. Some resemble the US Capitol, with house chambers on either side of a central rotunda with a dome. Others look completely different. See if you can figure out what or who influenced the design. 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Hunt for art throughout the Capitol. You'll find it all over the place, and not just in frames hanging on walls. Check the carpets, door knobs, stair rails, and other fixtures. Look at the ceilings and check the elevators. You might be surprised with what you find. 

Carson City, Nevada

Don't skip the gift shop! It's a great place to find inexpensive souvenirs from the city you're visiting, like a state flag (typically about $3), a pencil, a postcard, or locally made candies or other edible items. 

Phoenix, Arizona

If you want your visit to be 100% free, skip the gift shop and stop by the information desk to get a souvenir stamp from your visit. Each state has one. You don't need to buy the book in order to get the stamp (although we love ours). 

Annapolis, Maryland

Virtually all Capitol buildings are open to the public during normal business hours. Many are open for limited hours on the weekends as well. Check the website ahead of time to determine when a particular Capitol is open. (Typing "visit ____ Capitol building" will usually bring you to the relevant page.)

Denver, Colorado

Expect construction, be flexible, and allow plenty of time. About a third of the Capitol buildings we've visited were under construction at the time. It makes sense, as many of the buildings are well over 100 years old and under constant use. Allow plenty of time to find your way to the entrance, as it might not be where you think it is due to construction!

Indianapolis, Indiana

Figure out your parking ahead of time. Many Capitol buildings are in the heart of a major city, which means parking can be limited. Some have underground parking, others have designated lots for visitors, and some have ample street parking nearby. I almost always call or email to ask where to park. Knowing ahead of time has saved us money, reduced stress, and eliminated bickering about where to park. Better yet, consider public transportation. Capitol buildings are a major destination no matter what city they are in; you can usually find a bus, tram, light rail, etc. that will take you there. 

Dover, Delaware

Our family has had so much fun visiting the Capitols. We've enjoyed each and every one we've toured. Ideally, we'll make it to the remaining 30 someday. I hope I've inspired you to plan a Capitol visit for your own family!


Dia de los Muertos Calavera Mask

I had so much fun making a Paper Plate Calavera last year that I decided to make a calavera mask this year. I love how it turned out!

It's really easy to do. The only limit is your own creativity! I've included affiliate links below. I'll receive a small commission for anything you purchase after clicking a link, at no extra cost to you. 


Calavera Mask for Dia de los Muertos



Fold the scratch paper in half and draw the shape of a skull on it. When you are happy with the shape, cut along the line you've drawn, keeping the paper folded. If you want to make tweaks to the shape, refold the paper and cut small amounts off of the areas that aren't quite right. 

Open the paper and mark where the eye holes should go. Fold the paper and cut out the eyes. With the paper still folded, cut a small semi-circle along the fold for the nose. 

When you are happy with the shape of the skull, trace it onto the cardstock.  

Cut out the skull. Microtip scissors work great for getting in small areas like the eyes and nose. I ended up changing my mind about a round nose. Below you can see the upside down heart design that I drew (and would soon cut). 

Now use the pencil to start designing! I put the teeth in place first, then outlined the eyes with petals. Next, I added flowers to the top, the chin, and where both ears would be. Once I'd drawn these features and was happy with their placement, I went over them with pens. Then I filled in the empty spaces with designs, making sure to maintain vertical symmetry. There's no right or wrong - have fun!

When you are happy with your design, glue the stick to the back and your mask is ready to use. Trevor thought it was funny to hold the mask far away from his face so that I could see his smile through the nose hole. 

If you plan to display your mask rather than wear it, you can add black tissue paper to the backside to cover the eye and nose holes.

Give it a try! It really is a lot of fun to make your own calavera. 


The Wood Badge Whatsit Box Prizes

This is the patrol flag that Steve's Beaver Patrol made at Wood Badge.  

Did you notice that question mark hanging from red yarn on the right? It's an award for a daily challenge that the Beavers won. Each day during Wood Badge, there is something called a Whatsit Box with a mystery item inside. The patrol that comes the closest to guessing the item gets to display an award on their banner. Knowing that I am crafty, Steve volunteered me to figure out and make the awards tokens. They'd need 6 - one of each day of training and it should have something to do with a Whatsit Box. A question mark seemed perfect.

About a week before the tokens were due, I swirled several colors of Model Magic and pressed them into a question mark candy mold (affiliate links here and through the rest of the post), confident that they'd work perfectly. I let them dry, then pried them out of the mold.

Alas, Model Magic is great for many things, but not for being pried out of a deep mold. The question marks were pretty, but they emerged with small tears and were definitely not sturdy enough. Drat. 

For Attempt #2, I used Sugru. If you've never played with Sugru, let me tell you that it is really neat stuff. It is moldable glue that dries strong, bonds permanently to almost everything, and is waterproof. The fact that it bonds to everything meant that I couldn't press it into a mold, let it cure, and pry it out later like I did with the Model Magic. Following the manufacturer's instructions, I coated the mold with oil, pressed the Sugru into the oily mold, and waited for it to cure. Unfortunately, no matter how much oil I used, there always seemed to be a small spot that stuck. Aargh.

At this point, I should explain that when I agreed to make the Whatsit prizes, I didn't fully understand what I was making. I actually thought they would be attached to the Whatsit Boxes, which would then be the prize for the winning patrol. Because of this (incorrect) assumption, I didn't ask the important questions nearly soon enough in the process. How big should the award be? Does it need to be weather-resistant or will it stay indoors? Will it be attached to anything? Once these were asked and answered, I realized the perfect material was upstairs in the craft room. It's a childhood favorite that continues to be one of my go-to craft supplies - Shrinky Dinks!

I started by creating a template of a last question mark. I traced it onto white shrink film using a Sharpie. I used Staz-On ink and the question mark from this stamp set to stamp all over the front. 

I used a different ink color for each of the six question marks. (By happy coincidence, I own six colors of Staz-On!). Then I carefully cut them out with my beloved microtip scissors and punched a hole in the top of each. 

It only takes about a minute in the toaster oven to shrink plastic. I did them one at a time so I could deal with any necessary flattening. Here you can see the size difference between the original plastic and the shrunken shape.

The final step was threading coordinating yarn through each question mark. Because the hole was pretty small after shrinking (and yarn is tough enough to thread even through a big hole), I used a yarn needle, which made it super easy. 

I am really happy with how these turned out. Congrats to the Beaver Patrol and to the other two patrols that won during Weekend 1. Good luck to all during Weekend 2!