To Love What Is Ugly: Family stories

We giggled onscreen together when she told me about the ring her grandmother had left her. ”It is so ugly! And I so love it.”

My pink-haired tattooed client also knew her great grandmother, which is a little unusual.


Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Indeed, we picked a path through five generations of what turns out that be a kind of matriarchy: great grandma, granny, mom, herself, and her kids.  We were interrupted oh so briefly by her own handsome son. We had tea together, and we got a little choked up together at one point.

Her grandmother was an antiques dealer, and had an eye for all things glimmering, glitzy, and gold.  She’d melted down some other jewelry pieces and designed this “ugly” ring and had it made for herself.  What a badass, we agreed. Creative self-care before it was all the rage. And recycling, too!

We passed our planned hourlong interview as the stories unfolded, and finally broke session — with another interview planned for the future — when the tea took it’s inevitable course.

If you’d like to jump on a video call and hit record as we talk through YOUR generations, reach out to me at, or start with a great photo and bring someone else in on the call with One Special Photo.  I’d love to hear in the comments below if you have inherited an unusual item that you love. ❤



DIY: Birthday Jarlights


Birthday Jarlights

You’ll need:  clean clear jars for everyone, poster paint, white glue, paintbrushes, shiny star stickers, colored paper and a tea light for each jar.  For younger kids, battery operated.  

Mix poster paint and glue to make the paint adhere to smooth surfaces like glass and plastic – about 1/3 glue and 2/3 paint.  

crafts for kids

Birthday Jarlights

Cut out football shapes to serve as lit candle wicks, glue them around the jar.




Paint over the shapes, then glue ‘candlesticks’  to the jar.  I used some flashy origami paper, but plain construction paper would work, too.

crafts for kids

Birthday Jarlights

Peel the football shapes off while the paint is still a little wet, then allow paint to dry.


Then, and this is my favorite part, put in a battery-operated tea light!

My crafters were 6 and used glass with close supervision; younger kids should use plastic but the paint/glue combo should work just as well.



Birthday Jarlights


This craft could be adapted for older kids, who could paint more elaborate scenes, more layers of paint, and use real tea lights.

We’ve done this for Halloween, Christmas/New Year, and birthdays.



Even the tiniest kids can paint a jar and the light will still shine through.


If you give jar painting a try, I’d love to see the results, just post them on Funnermother’s Facebook page!

DIY: Building a heart light

self care  and kids

Turn on your heart light!

Running mate works weekend nights, and I am not a good single parent.  One bedtime, I could feel it.  You know, increased bickering, picking at each other, elevated kinetic energy, swirling vapors and mom getting flustered.

An idea like a lightning strike! Outgrown tights!  I cut off the legs, filled them with old old dried beans — one got lentils, one got pinto — and tied a knot.

self care

Warming the heart light.

Then, a minute in the microwave.

Then, magic!


Apply the heart light.

One kid is a seeker, and laughs and jumps and kicks and fools around until the instant she falls asleep.  The other is more pondering, more of a worrier, but still can be revved up to a frothy sibling rivalry.

self care


The “heart light” works for them both, centering and heating, weighting and calming.  I suppose I could sew buttons on for eyes, but it’s working as it is.

This very flexible DIY project would work well tucked into a sweatshirt or coat hood, or as two smaller ‘heart lights’ tucked into coat or hoodie pockets.  It also could be popped in the freezer and used for headaches or booboos.

I hope I get a turn with it soon.

More posts on sensory play include: Here, Feel This Fruit

Recycle Freestyle: the pressures of freedom

Recycle Freestyle -

Recycle Freestyle –

The kids’ winter break is too long, I think they would agree.

I had one good free idea left.  Recycle Freestyle!  It’s not a new concept to them, and I’ve been saving for months. Saving Junk.

Before lunch, I gathered all the plastic tops, egg cartons, six-pack holders, tubes, rings, tiny tins, cotton fluff, tape, glue, and markers and told them to get ready.

Recycle Freestyle -

Recycle Freestyle –

After lunch, I put on tropical music, emptied the last bag of junk, and we spread out on the dining room floor.  So much squealing delightful possibility!  It was fun!  At first.

Thing 1 (10) has the best imagination, and after five or six minutes clipping little plastic milk-spout pull-tabs, he switched projects and pulled together the pieces to make toilet-paper-roll binoculars attached to a gold-trimmed red velvet ribbon that would serve as a headband and binocular holder.  He even cut out earholes. So cool.

Thing 2 (7) loves to make gifts, and went to work looking for textures to collage together.  One for me, one for dad (below).

Recycle Freestyle -

Recycle Freestyle –

Poor Thing 1.  Nothing worked out the way he’d expected.

The scotch tape wasn’t clear, it was frosted; it wasn’t holding the cardboard rolls to the velvet ribbon very well, and the rolls kept sagging: “All I can see is my feet!”

Throwing cardboard didn’t look very satisfying from where I was sitting.  Thing 1 was tagged with Sensory Processing Disorder and Sensory Integration Dysfunction — years ago.  And this looked like that, rearing it’s inconvenient head, but cured with some soothing laughter and reassuring pig-piling onto Thing 1.

He got back to it and made these arm-armour pieces later in the day.  But this is also a teaching and reflective moment.  About freedom and vision and expectations.

Recycle Freestyle-

Recycle Freestyle-

So much possibility is there, at our feet.  It seems somehow almost intellectually mandatory to NOT see it all, to follow the instructions that we find or are given.  If we were to recognize it all with complete freedom, perhaps we wouldn’t know where to start, how to organize it in our minds, prioritize the materials, reject the pieces that don’t fit, and build… something.  This is a fine example of Disorder and Dysfunction being used to mask nonconformity.  It’s necessary and I get it…  But there IS also a flip side.  Thing 1 can see, really SEE everything.  That filter that saves us from chaos puts limits on us, too.  My very special task is to teach Thing 1 how to keep his expectations in check, how to organize and prioritize all he sees and feels; simultaneously I feel it is infinitely important to protect and encourage his vision and his special ability to see and feel things acutely.  And I feel strongly that there is a deep lesson here, about learning and freedom and vision and creativity and labels, and that lesson is meant for me and for me to share with you.  Thanks for reading!

November 2014: This great article from Teacher Tom helps see this situation in a new light: the importance of limits. Read it and leave me a comment on your thoughts.

Other posts about sensory play include: Here, Feel This Fruit

Freestyle recycling

kids activities

Freestyle Recycle – Funnermother

We recycle.  Madly.

Cardboard, plastic, cans.  Like everyone. It ships out.

But also clothes, fabric, found items for repurposing (some say “trash”), tissue paper, every last sticker.  This stuff sticks around.


Freestyle Recycle – Funnermother




One day we pulled out the recycling and that’s not new.

012013164217012013164227But usually I have some plan: make a space ship and we’ll spray paint it, or a robot, or a  jetpack. This day was a free-for-all.  Thing 1 (10) made a Shakespearean stage (that’s not me, that’s his awesome school) and a blue monster.  Thing 2 (6) made an “I love cats” bank where she planned to collect money for the local shelter (that might have been me). Try freestyle recycling at your house!  But be warned..there might be a side effect…. h h hoarding.  NO!  I did not say that!