Tag Archives: katie zeigler

Portraits of Gratitude 2014


There’s a certain degree of perfection that people try to attain as the holidays approach. The perfect Thanksgiving meal, the best presents, the ultimate in outdoor Christmas light decorations. And I’ll admit I fall prey to it just as much as the next Joe. I find myself lured by the Siren’s call. The one that insists that everything must be homemade to be acceptable. Make your own butter! Needlepoint that pillow! Craft your own Thanksgiving centerpiece from fishing line and dried cranberries! And sometimes I succeed, patting myself on the back as I create my own Thanksgiving table runner from ribbon and construction paper. And other times I fail miserably, as evidenced by the burnt homemade granola bars now lining the bottom of my garbage can. And the pressure of being perfect, of creating the ultimate moment for your family is, dare I say, exhausting. And virtually impossible.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I feel like there is also tremendous pressure to be as grateful as you possibly can. Of savoring each and every moment of the past year and never, ever forgetting to be appreciative and humbled by the bounty of our lives. And as much as I wish I could, I just can’t seem to find the energy to be grateful all the time. I mean, I wish I could. I wish I could be one of those amazing people who go through every second of every day soaking up the wonder of life and saying little prayers of gratitude to every flower, every tree, every moment of sweetness. But I’m tired, people. And I find it almost impossible to feel grateful when I’m scraping doggie doo-doo from the bottom of my son’s tennis shoes. “Isn’t it wonderful that he had so much fun that he walked though poo without noticing! I am grateful for those small moments of happiness!” Nope. It’s just poop on a shoe. I don’t mean to say that I don’t experience moments of great thankfulness, in which I am literally overwhelmed by the beauty and sweetness of my life and the people in it. I do. And I cry over it quite often. But it’s just not every second of every day. At some point I think you have to put the grateful voice on mute in order to get the laundry done , pluck the gray hairs, and start all over again tomorrow. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be tired and cranky and ungrateful…just as long as, occasionally, you turn the volume up on that little voice that’s telling you to stop and put down the fabric softener and the tweezers and remember that even though we may be baffled by the complexities of life, at the rhyme and reason for the events that unfold before us, we can be mindful of the wonder inherent in the journey. My life is messy. It’s loud and frustrating and beautiful and sad and outrageously funny. And I wouldn’t change anything about it. But in loving my life as much as I do, there comes a freedom to be irritated by it. To loathe making lunches every morning. To cringe at the urine lurking behind the boys’ toilet. To roll my eyes each and every time my husband rearranges the dishwasher with the precision of an engineer. I think we work hard enough that we’re allowed to sigh occasionally out of complete frustration, while never forgetting how lucky we are to be irritated by anything at all. For it is in loving something so completely and so generously that we are able to feel the flip side of it, and yet still continue making the lunches, and cleaning up the pee and watching the gray hairs accumulate like a badge of honor.

That said, and in the spirit of last year’s post, I give you my 2014 Portraits of Gratitude…

I am eternally grateful that I married this guy…

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And that I can easily drive and see a place that looks like this:

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That, despite the distance, my children can have friends like this:

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And that this coffee mug exists…

019

For letters like this (please note President Taft trapped in the bathtub)…

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For these two amazing, funny, crazy, inspiring boys of mine

IMG_3143

Who send me texts like this

IMG_5036

And for people who write books like this

IMG_5082

And students who make art like this

IMG_4815

And this

ella creation

And who never let me forget that I am learning from them

IMG_1641

For a small Beastie

DSC_0187

And a thespian

IMG_4884

That this guy picked me up from the airport

IMG_3840

When I got to fly across the Pond and drink tea with my dear friend

248249_10151429715578479_671330544_n

And go back to the one place in my life that truly changed who I am

DSC_1485

For mother and grandmothers all rolled up into one

DSC_1601

For furry things

DSC_1360

And furrier things

eliot

I am grateful for kitchens

IMG_3329

And for the friends who cheered me on as I read my heart out

IMG_4907

And for jumping in, white bra and all, without a single moment’s hesitation

129

Let’s all give ourselves a break this Thanksgiving and aim less for perfection, and more for perfect chaos. For though we grumble and grimace, our lives are full of everything we can handle. And with each new memory, whether joyous or heartbreaking, comes a firmer ground on which to stand. (Hopefully with no dog poo on it).

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Portraits of Gratitude 2013


There’s a certain degree of perfection that people try to attain as the holidays approach. The perfect Thanksgiving meal, the best presents, the ultimate in outdoor Christmas light decorations. And I’ll admit I fall prey to it just as much as the next Joe. I find myself lured by the Siren’s call. The one that insists that everything must be homemade to be acceptable. Make your own butter! Needlepoint that pillow! Craft your own Thanksgiving centerpiece from fishing line and dried cranberries! And sometimes I succeed, patting myself on the back as I create my own Thanksgiving table runner from ribbon and construction paper. And other times I fail miserably, as evidenced by the burnt homemade granola bars now lining the bottom of my garbage can. And the pressure of being perfect, of creating the ultimate moment for your family is, dare I say, exhausting. And virtually impossible.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I feel like there is also tremendous pressure to be as grateful as you possibly can. Of savoring each and every moment of the past year and never, ever forgetting to be appreciative and humbled by the bounty of our lives. And as much as I wish I could, I just can’t seem to find the energy to be grateful all the time. I mean, I wish I could. I wish I could be one of those amazing people who go through every second of every day soaking up the wonder of life and saying little prayers of gratitude to every flower, every tree, every moment of sweetness. But I’m tired, people. And I find it almost impossible to feel grateful when I’m scraping doggie doo-doo from the bottom of my son’s tennis shoes. “Isn’t it wonderful that he had so much fun that he walked though poo without noticing! I am grateful for those small moments of happiness!” Nope. It’s just poop on a shoe. I don’t mean to say that I don’t experience moments of great thankfulness, in which I am literally overwhelmed by the beauty and sweetness of my life and the people in it. I do. And I cry over it quite often. But it’s just not every second of every day. At some point I think you have to put the grateful voice on mute in order to get the laundry done , pluck the gray hairs, and start all over again tomorrow. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be tired and cranky and ungrateful…just as long as, occasionally, you turn the volume up on that little voice that’s telling you to stop and put down the fabric softener and the tweezers and remember that even though we may be baffled by the complexities of life, at the rhyme and reason for the events that unfold before us, we can be mindful of the wonder inherent in the journey. My life is messy. It’s loud and frustrating and beautiful and sad and outrageously funny. And I wouldn’t change anything about it. But in loving my life as much as I do, there comes a freedom to be irritated by it. To loathe making lunches every morning. To cringe at the urine lurking behind the boys’ toilet. To roll my eyes each and every time my husband rearranges the dishwasher with the precision of an engineer. I think we work hard enough that we’re allowed to sigh occasionally out of complete frustration, while never forgetting how lucky we are to be irritated by anything at all. For it is in loving something so completely and so generously that we are able to feel the flip side of it, and yet still continue making the lunches, and cleaning up the pee and watching the gray hairs accumulate like a badge of honor.

That said, and in the spirit of last year’s post, I give you my 2013 Portraits of Gratitude…

I am eternally grateful that I married this guy…

IMG_2418

And that I can easily drive and see a place that looks like this:

IMG_3374

That, despite the distance, my children can have friends like this:

017

And that this coffee mug exists…

019

For letters like this (please note President Taft trapped in the bathtub)…

Top.bmp

For these two amazing, funny, crazy, inspiring boys of mine

IMG_3143

Who send me texts like this

IMG_5036

And for people who write books like this

IMG_5082

And students who make art like this

IMG_4815

And this

ella creation

And who never let me forget that I am learning from them

IMG_1641

For a small Beastie

DSC_0187

And a thespian

IMG_4884

That this guy picked me up from the airport

IMG_3840

When I got to fly across the Pond and drink tea with my dear friend

248249_10151429715578479_671330544_n

And go back to the one place in my life that truly changed who I am

DSC_1485

For mother and grandmothers all rolled up into one

DSC_1601

For furry things

DSC_1360

And furrier things

eliot

I am grateful for kitchens

IMG_3329

And for the friends who cheered me on as I read my heart out

IMG_4907

And for jumping in, white bra and all, without a single moment’s hesitation

129

Let’s all give ourselves a break this Thanksgiving and aim less for perfection, and more for perfect chaos. For though we grumble and grimace, our lives are full of everything we can handle. And with each new memory, whether joyous or heartbreaking, comes a firmer ground on which to stand. (Hopefully with no dog poo on it).

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Museum Masters: Paul Klee, or Secret Code Artwork


Paul Klee, for me, is one of those artists who just grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. His work is so striking, so original and so multifaceted that it was with great excitement that I taught my most recent Museum Masters class about him!

Known best as a surrealist/expressionist, Paul Klee (pronounced “clay”) was born in Switzerland to a wonderfully musical family. As a child, Klee struggled with which road to take: become a musician like his parents? or become an artist? Despite his talents with the violin, Klee ultimately (and to our great collective benefit) began to study to become an artist in Germany. Here are a few other fun facts about Paul Klee:

  • Klee’s beloved grandmother gave him a box of chalk when he was a child and he loved to draw with it
  • Klee attended the Munich Academy in Germany to study to be an artist, although he didn’t think he was a good enough painter at the time.
  • In the beginning, all of Klee’s works were colorless. He mostly drew pen-and-ink pieces, some using only one line!
  • After traveling to Tunisia and seeing all the amazing colors there, he immediately began to incorporate bright colors into his pieces, and never looked back!
  • Klee created more than 9,000 works of art during his lifetime
  • Klee worked with both his right and left hands, although he preferred using his left hand for drawing and his right hand for writing

Best known for his colorful abstract pieces, Klee loved to incorporate shapes and vivid hues into his pieces and thought of his own art as poetry through imagery. Here are a few of my favorites!

Castle and Sun
(this always makes me think of the Small World ride at Disneyland!)

WI (In Memoriam)

The Goldfish
(needless to say, the kids went crazy for this one…)

After looking at a wide variety of Klee’s most famous pieces, the children were tasked with creating their own work of abstract art inspired by this talented artist. The children wrote their names in large letters (the letters must reach from the top to the bottom of the paper) with one color of oil pastel. Then, they colored around each letter to create an abstract effect. The children loved the fact that, as they colored, their names all but disappeared into the artwork. They all decided that we should call these “secret code” artwork – and I wholeheartedly agree!

Here are a few of these amazing pieces:


And here are some fun things you can do at home!

  • There is a lovely children’s book inspired by Paul Klee’s artwork entitled “The Cat and the Bird” by Geraldine Elschner. It’s definitely worth checking out at your local library or bookstore!
  • Test your skills at a one-line drawing a la Paul Klee. Draw a complete picture without lifting your pen from the paper once. It’s definitely challenging – and a fun activity for kids and parents to share!

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