In Community :: Cassi Griffin

June 2, 2012

Here at Rhythm of the Home, creation of community is important to us.  Indeed, it is one of the driving forces that encourages us to continue to publish the magazine, to write the blog.  Through our creation of a space where you all can share your ideas, your work, your hopeful visions for raising your children to be the people that you want them to be, we are also seeking to create a community space where you can find other people who are themselves on a similar path to yours.  Or, where you can find inspiration in the journeys of people who are wholly and completely different than you, but still doing really great things to make the world a brighter, more creative and beautiful place.  With all of this in mind, we began this series called “In Community” here on the blog.  This is a working title, it may change a bit as time goes on and we see where this project takes us.  But for now, it the label under which you will find weekly articles and interviews that help you to get to know interesting people from this undoubtedly interesting community of ours.  

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Today we are sharing an interview with Cassi Griffin of the extraordinarily popular children’s craft blog, The Crafty Crow.  Many of you in the ROTH community are probably familiar with Cassi’s work on The Crafty Crow.  Her collections of family-oriented craft projects have become an invaluable resource for parents and teachers everywhere.  But you may be less familiar with Cassi’s work over the years in her personal blog space, Bella Dia, or with the fact that Cassi is a single parent who homeschools her three children while continually seeking ways to maintain a balance between mothering and work; something that so many of us can relate to.  Read on to learn a bit more about Cassi, her family, and her work. 

Tell us a bit more about how the Crafty Crow began. It is an interesting format for a blog in that it isn’t all about you and your individual life; you are really sharing resources from around the internet that you think will be helpful to families. How did you get the idea? What made you decide to keep The Crafty Crow a separate project from Bella Dia?

The seed for the idea was that I needed a visual bookmark to record all the great ideas I found on the internet to do with my kids. As I thought about it, I figured other parents would benefit from that kind of resource as well. I had already been blogging at Bella Dia, my personal site, for a few years so it was a pretty simple thought to just start a new blog with that purpose. I also planned on making a business from Crafty Crow and wanted to keep that monetization method different from Bella Dia. Most of my time now is spent on Crafty Crow and I haven’t been able to keep up with Bella Dia but I’ve been wanting to get back to posting there as well.

 

What are your favorite types of activities to do with your own children? How does the natural environment where you live impact the kinds of things that you do?

We live in a small town in central Idaho right down the road from a major ski resort. Our typical activities are going to the river for swimming and rock hunting, picnics at mountain lakes, hikes, bird watching, and general exploring. We also love bike rides, playing with our pets, car trips, games and movies. My sister and her kids live nearby, so there is always something going on. Since we live near a world famous tourist town we also have access to typical urban destinations like art galleries, symphonies, concerts, great restaurants and other public events. For example, our little town was the first stop on one of the Dalai Llama’s last visits to the U.S. and we were able to walk from my sister’s house to see him.

 

How do you structure your work to keep it in balance with your life as a parent? Do you think that you face a special set of challenges because of being a single parent?

Ah, balance! We all seek it, but I have never quite been able to find it. One of my first lessons as a parent was realizing how much truth was in the statement, “when it rains, it pours.” With kids, and most of life, really, things don’t come to you in nice, bite-sized little chunks; they come pouring in, knocking you on the head, and you wonder how you’re going to survive it all. I think things go easier once you accept that truth. Enjoy the lulls when they come and take pride in handling the downpours.

I also believe that sometimes in the quest for seeking balance we realize that we have taken on too much and that to achieve balance we have to let go of some things. Therefore, I am constantly prioritizing. My children have always come first, but the older they get, and the older I get, I am more acutely aware of how quickly time passes and how little time I have left with them before they are out of the house and on their own. So, if it’s a choice between my online work and doing something with my kids then my kids win out. At the same time, being a single parent, I have to weigh that against making a living, and consistently having to choose between the two can be quite heart wrenching for me. I wish I had the time to make more connections online and to be more active online, but I know I will never regret the time I spend with my children and that I would regret spending time online at the expense of my children.

I’m sure single parenting is unique to each individual so I don’t know if my experience is relevant to others’ but it definitely has its own challenges. Raising three children on my own is much more than management. Management is honestly the least of my concerns. What keeps me up at night is worrying about money, worrying if I’m doing a good job and what I can do better, worrying about my health and theirs, and a whole depressing series of what ifs. I’m lucky to have family nearby for support but the weight of it all, and being pulled in so many directions at once, can still be immobilizing at times.


The Crafty Crow is a really popular, widely read site, and you have a lot of people looking to your posts for inspiration. Where do you look for inspiration? Are there blogs, books or websites that you find especially compelling or useful?

Honestly I find inspiration all around me. I think once you become open to it, meaning opening your mind to absorb what you’re seeing without categorizing it, without putting a name on it, then everything flows into your brain where it is tossed and turned with everything else to make the light bulbs start going off. I also challenge myself in observing details whether it be in a crowd of people or birds at the feeder. In our busy world there’s a tendency to quickly scan everything but by looking at details I get mental images that I can use later in my own creative work.

There are tons of inspirational blogs and websites, I link to them all the time, but for myself I find a lot of inspiration in international craft blogs that feature children’s art work. It’s inspiring to see how different cultures and environments translate to children’s art and I am constantly amazed by it.

Lately, I have been reading about creativity and how to be creative. I think there is a general misunderstanding that some people are creative and some people aren’t but it is a skill that can be developed and honed like other skills. I believe developing creativity in children is one of the most important things that teachers and parents can do. Creative people are problem solvers and problem solvers are always in demand no matter what profession they’re in.

 

Can you share a few of your favorite projects from recent Crafty Crow posts?

I love the stamp map by Lotta Magazine because it’s great for homeschooling and families; Playful Learning’s multimedia art combining photography and painting is inspiring and a wonderful way to introduce photography into your kids’ repertoire; the yarn plate wall hanging by Szymczaks in Seattle is so simple yet it makes stunning wall art; and Art Lab for Kids’ fingertip painting on wood shows kids how to make use of found objects and since the art is open-ended all ages and skill levels can enjoy it.

Thanks so very much to Cassi for sharing a bit more about her life as a blogger and a parent with us here today!   And thanks to Cassi for her dedication to providing resources to families and educators seeking to give children more hands-on experiences with arts and craft!  To see more of Cassi’s favorite crafts for kids, visit The Crafty Crow.    

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{ 9 comments }

Gesche June 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Thank you for sharing Cassi. I hadn’t come across your blog yet can’t wait to check it out. Hearing you talk about how you balance your days has given me courage, thanks for that too!

Lauren June 4, 2012 at 6:14 am

Thanks for speaking on creativity in the context of being a single parent. Often I think that teaching creativity to my three kids is a luxury that I don’t have anymore since my divorce is going through. I agree that it is worrisome to consider “how little time I have left with them before they are out of the house and on their own.” I love Crafty Crow. Thanks for sharing it with us all!

Cassi June 4, 2012 at 11:32 pm

*Gesche – Thank you so much for commenting – I hope you find the balance that works for you :)
*Lauren – I’m so glad you understand what I am saying about creativity and happy that you won’t see it as a luxury anymore! It’s such a wonderful way to bond with your children too – creating together makes wonderful memories.

twigandtoadstool June 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm

My partner of 9 years and I separated last summer, (one of the many reasons we shut down our blog), and I’ve been faced with the challenges of single mothering for the past year. This is such an inspiring post to read…
I NEVER appreciated the importance of “balance” like I do now…on my own there is SO much more to do, to consider, to stress about…but, I hold things like creativity, homeschooling, keeping a warm & loving home for my girls in my heart always. You are so right…the years go by quickly…my oldest just turned 9…while I may not have a tonne of money, or material wealth, I’m able to give my children so much more…and it’s a testament to my own strength and endurance to be able to do this on my own. I have nothing but admiration for you…and I think it’s so important for us to share our journey with each other. I know in blogland I don’t see alot of other ladies in my situation, seldom do you hear those stories, but they need to be told and shared…I have gleamed inspiration from you today and for that I am thankful!
I love the Crafty Crow…you helped put our little blog on the map…and it’s a place I visit often!
with gratitude for sharing your story
xo maureen

Cassi June 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm

*Maureen – Thank you for such a thoughtful response and I’m so glad I was able to speak to some of the things you are going through.

Marina Starcke June 6, 2012 at 12:56 am

Thank you so much. I really love your thoughts on life and agree: sometimes the rain pours in hardly handily quantities and at other times nothing happens. It is a constant challenge to live with that but there is no way around it. I also do love your devotion to your own children and to others. Nurturing creativity in children (and adults for the matter) is one of the most important things you can do, and you help so many people doing it. THANK YOU.

Cassi June 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

*Marina – You’re very kind, your comment warms my heart :)

Rashmie @ Mommy Labs June 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Dear Cassi,
My love and respect for you has grown multifold by knowing you as a person in this interview.
I could really relate with your thought about prioritization and why we may need to constantly look and relook at it as mothers, women, bread-earner….
Through your site, you have created a rich and veritable repertoire full of creative ideas and prompts for parents and teachers and It amazes me that you have created something so big even when homeschooling your kids as a single parent. Wow, that’s formidable!
I homeschool, too, and I know that it can be daunting at times – juggling all the things that we do. I agree, letting go of some things is the key.
Thank you, Cassi, for your inspiring thoughts, words and the work that you’re doing. :-)

Cassi June 7, 2012 at 11:39 pm

*Rashmie – Thank you for such a nice comment :) I’m glad you understand what I’m saying about prioritizing and letting some things go – it’s amazing how freeing that can be!

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