Let’s Tell A Story!
If you know my LivBit work, you know how much I love reading and creating stories online. My LivBits are intentionally “low tech”--just me and my selfie-style video talking about great books. But, recently, I had the chance to try out the AR app 3DBear, and I discovered how to jazz up my video creations in really unique ways. This ****MIGHT**** be translation for me adding A LOT of sharks into my LivBits😉!
I’m going to offer four “Bits” of advice on using 3DBear with your students, and most especially how you can connect kids to AR experiences that take storytelling to a whole new level of awesomeness!
1. Kids want experiences CREATING
The BEST part of the 3DBear app is how easy it is for kids to customize their stories. First, you access the camera on your device. Next, take a picture of your own environment OR if you’re like me a page from your favorite book! Finally, insert fun objects from the “Thingiverse” OR customize your own 3D objects to add to your story🦈.
2. Kids can CAPTURE their thinking
There’s a built in capture mode for users, so kids can narrate their scene or tell an entire story based on what they created! You can save these creations in the 3DBear public gallery and to your camera roll. Then, you can appsmash to your favorite app, like SeeSaw or Flipgrid! Kids can get loads of feedback on how to make their stories even better and also add another layer to their stories by reflecting on the creation process 😍.
3. 3D Files can become REPRESENTATIONS
Did you know that whatever kids create in 3DBear, they can use as 3D files to create a representation of their story in a 3D printer???? It’s true!!!! And, it’s the most awesome thing ever!!!! So, if kids create a story about sharks, they can then print out that creation, and use it as a hands-on tool in a presentation about their story 🙌🙌.
4. 3DBear makes STORYTELLING even cooler
Kids using the 3DBear app can create, talk, and explore in really engaging ways. I love how the app doesn’t require a lot of “techiness” to make the experience amazing. I also love how easy it is for kids to create their own story OR extend a story an author has already created! There are soooooo many story entry points for kids to explore, it really doesn’t matter what kind of reader you are, it only matters that you’re the kind of reader who LOVES to create📱!
I hope you’ll get started right now with an AR center in your classroom or makerspace! Try a free trial here: https://3dbear.io/freetrial
If you’re nervous, put a few kids in charge of exploring the app, and learn from them because after all, #KidsCanTeachUs!
So, what are you waiting for???? Get out there and make a story come alive! Get out there and create stories that make students jump for joy! Get out there and explore AR with 3DBear 🌎!
Keep Reading! Keep Thinking! Keep CREATING! And, thank you for following LivBits!
P.S. be on the look out in the next few days for some really JAWSOME AR LivBits using #3DBear!
Have you ever started a project and doubted you would stick with it for very long?
This month is my two-year “blogaversary,” and if I’m completely honest, I never even thought I’d make it six months writing my blog. It’s not that I don’t love writing, but like most people, I was nervous about starting a project and realizing I lacked the responsibility required to put words on a page on a consistent basis. I mean, I still don’t remember to put my backpack in the mudroom or hang up my coat or shut off the lights in my bedroom when I leave for school, so starting a blog seemed like a really big deal. I imagined failing publicly and having to write some super sappy goodbye post admitting defeat 😬.
But that’s not what happened, and I’ve learned A LOT as a writer in the past two years, especially about voice, audience, and making a commitment to my own writing journey. I think the best way to celebrate this milestone is to share six “bits” of advice I’ve learned as a kid blogger. I hope my blogging adventure might encourage you to try something that requires patience, practice, and persistence this year 💪.
BIT ONE: WORDS REQUIRE RESPONSIBILITY
Writing is messy! When I first started my blog, I knew I liked words A LOT, but I had a hard time imagining how to put words together. Sometimes I struggled with how to begin a blog, and sometimes with how to end one. Words didn’t always come to my brain in neat ways. Instead, they’d rush in and make a mess. I’d find myself frustrated and overwhelmed. I found out I could tame my words by talking them into my iPad as soon as they popped into my mind. I began making voice threads of ideas I had for blog posts, and soon I realized how often my seemingly messy words fell into absolutely lovely categories 😍. Now, instead of thinking about my entire blog post all at once, I use ideas from my voice threads to frame my paragraphs. I found out the more I talked about my ideas, the more excited words would get inside my brain, and the easier it was to write a post my audience might like! I feel responsible for my words, and this strategy helps me use all my best ones.
BIT TWO: LISTEN TO YOUR HEARTBEEPS
I’ve learned it’s really important to write about the things that make my heart beep. This isn’t always easy because writing makes you vulnerable, and writing about your most heartbeepy ideas can sometimes make you feel out of sorts 🤪. But, I promise if you take the chance and share those ideas with the world, you’ll get feedback that will help you grow and change as a writer and thinker.
Heartbeepy ideas are like a writer’s “secret weapon” because they connect you more genuinely to your readers. I’ve learned writing about hard things, like my Grump’s death or how a close friend walked away from our friendship, is actually easier for me than talking about hard things. I guess you could say writing about heartbeeps also allows you to write out the heartache, and that’s a pretty powerful realization. So, listen to those heartbeeps each and every time you sit down to write.
BIT THREE: SEEK FEEDBACK...A LOT
I’m lucky I have a writing coach 👯♀️(I’m waving at you, Heather) who reads most of my blog posts and gives me really good advice so I don’t sound lame. She’s also tried to help me use a semicolon correctly 🤪and taught me about the power of the emdash 😍which I think might be the coolest punctuation I’ve ever used. I can’t say I’ve improved all that much with the punctuation I use in my posts, but I can say I’ve thought about it a lot more. Having just one person in your writing life who expects good ideas from you can help strengthen your writing chops in ways you never imagined possible!
But, writing a blog also means I get public comments on my posts. Sometimes the comments are critical, and sometimes they’re encouraging. I’ve learned it’s important to get both, because as a writer, I have to consider what my writing means to others. If I get critical comments, I know maybe I need to rethink ideas or learn how to express them better so my audience can relate to my thinking in the ways I intended. And sometimes I just let the criticism sit there in the universe, because it’s not meant to help me grow at that point in time. That’s OK too. The feedback you keep in your writing heart should be the kind that helps you see your writing future.
BIT FOUR: LEARN YOUR WRITING PACE
The absolute truth about me as a writer is that I like to write fast. Sometimes it happens that my writing coach isn’t available to read my work immediately, and I’m an immediate feedback kind of writer, also known as a #badwaiter 😬. I’ve had to learn how to be patient and not delete big pieces of my writing because I’m uncertain how it sounds. I’m still not great at waiting for feedback, but I have gotten much better at not deleting away good ideas 🤷. Writing requires an awareness of your writing speed, and developing a pace that works for you. I try to talk ideas into my device everyday, but not everything I talk about becomes a blog post. I’m lucky words and ideas find me quickly, but I think it’s because when you practice inviting words into your life, the more likely words will find you. Finding a balance between getting all my ideas out on the page, and also letting some things marinate has been key to finding my writing pace.
BIT FIVE: FIND A VOICE THAT FITS YOU
I’ve learned how to be more playful with my writing voice, and I’ve developed a voice I feel represents my thinking on my blog. I’ve learned how to change my voice depending on what I’m writing about. Depending on the topic, I might use a voice that’s goofy, passionate, descriptive, or wonderous. Most importantly, I want my voice to always be accessible to my readers. My writing coach has also been very direct about my voice, and has helped me understand how others might interpret different voices I’ve tried. Readers will want to come back to your writing again and again because of your voice. If you’re really lucky as a writer, your audience will carry your voice around in their head and heart, maybe even quoting you to other people 😍. I can’t think of a more powerful compliment than seeing my words being shared by other people. It’s one thing to be brave enough to put your words into the world, but it’s a whole other kind of awesome to have your words resonate inside someone else’s heart 💗.
BIT SIX: BOOKS CAN BE AWESOME WRITING MENTORS
I read A LOT of books. When I read, I find myself considering a lot more than the story and the characters. I think about the writer’s style, in particular I notice how the author structures her sentences, what kind of words she uses, and even the kind of feeling I get when I think about the message of the story. Sometimes I even try those styles in my own writing. For example, after I read Susan Hood’s Shaking Things Up, I went back to some of the poems I’ve written, and I tried to write them in the different forms Susan used. By the way, I’ve never been brave enough to ever post any of the poetry I’ve written, but maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to share that type of writing with an audience 🤔.
When I read Come With Me by Holly McGhee, I thought a lot about how simple repetition of phrases or sentences can help the reader connect deeply to the story’s message. Finally, when I read Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl and walked around with Astrid’s motto “tougher, stronger, fearless” in my brain for weeks and weeks, I discovered the power an author has to create a character whose story mirrors a reader’s life. I guess you can say, books are powerful writing mentors. The more you read, the more opportunities you have to learn about your own writing and ways to improve it.
I hope these writing bits help you reflect on how you put words into the world. I hope they spur you on when you want to give up on your own writing and resonate enough that you might share them with someone who needs a writing boost. Words are meant to be shared, celebrated, and cherished, so most of all, I hope you find a kid you know and encourage them to share more, talk more, and write more💗 .
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
How does your heart hold onto the people you love?
My Grumps left this place called earth, and entered a place called heaven. I searched and searched for a picture of the two of us together, but I could only find one from when I was first born. But, as I searched through pictures, I noticed something important about my grandfather -- his blue and white striped shirts. I realized it’s probably impossible for me to find a picture of my Grumps in anything other than his blue and white shirts.
If I'm honest, thinking about my Grumps and his blue and white shirts makes sadness drip down my cheeks😢.
I’ve spent time thinking about Grumps bringing his shirts to heaven. My heart knows he would want a few of them up there. Maybe it seems kind of silly to think about people bringing shirts to heaven, but when I think of Grumps, I think about how he was defined by those shirts.
The shirt was a preppy style, but my Grumps wasn’t impressed by anything preppy. He liked his blue and white shirts for their suitability for any kind of work he did, and mostly, I think he preferred their softness, and how lovely they smelled fresh out of the dryer. Also, his shirts were very practical and never wrinkled 😉.
I was 5 when I noticed every time I saw my Grumps he was wearing the same kind of shirt. My mum joked it was his uniform, and I thought this meant every grandfather had a standard blue and white shirt they wore when they saw grand kids. It never made my Grumps ordinary in any way to see him in his uniform, instead it reminded me how dependable he was for all of us, and most especially for Gram.
Five years ago we celebrated Gram and Grumps’ golden anniversary. On that day, Grumps fancied up his blue and white shirt by adding a sharp navy blue blazer. I love how happy Gram and Grumps look together in the picture I found, and how they clutched the 5 and 0 my mum made them with pictures representing their 50 years together. If I look super closely, I can see that little twinkle Grumps would get from time to time when he would listen to me talk on and on about something. I like to talk, and Grumps would always pause and listen even when my stories might have been endless 😬. I can see the twinkle in that picture. I know that twinkle is for my Gram.
Gram and Grumps were together 55 years before he went to heaven. I know it’s hard for Gram to imagine her life without Grumps because me too. When I think of Gram, I think of Grumps. And, when I think of Grumps, I think about his blue and white shirts.
Maybe remembering Grumps and his shirts is my heart’s way of saying he’s OK now. You see, my Grumps didn’t run to heaven. He made small, slow, steady steps. He had to remember his shirts. And, he had to make sure Gram was ready and daddy was ready and we were ready. Because that’s the kind of guy Grumps was -- steady and sure, thoughtful and kind. Grumps was like his blue and white shirts -- always, always, always dependable and practical.
So, I’m super hoping Grumps left a few of his shirts behind for us because I just really want one for Christmas. I want one for me and daddy. I want to just wrap up my sad feelings by seeing my daddy in that blue and white shirt. I really can’t think of a better or bigger heartbeep from my Grumps💗.
I hope if you’re reading this and you're missing someone because they’re in heaven, you’ll search for a picture of them, and you’ll feel a heartbeep. Consider that heartbeep a gift from me and my Grumps, Karl Van Ledtje💗.
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And thank you for following LivBits!
Do you ever think about the courage it takes to let go?
These last several months, I’ve had a lot of really incredible adventures. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen some of them. I feel super grateful for the opportunities, sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe it all. After I give myself a pinch, I also want to immediately hug the people who have made these adventures even more special 🤗.
So, this week, as I was watching the eulogies for former President George H.W. Bush, I was thinking about the power of the people in my life, and how these people have shown me the power of being truly present. It’s true, if you follow me, you see some of my most important people because you’ve also seen special times and people who make the event, opportunity, or occasion even more memorable. You see pictures, videos, or even crazy Boomerangs, and maybe you even begin to associate certain people with me, and look forward to seeing more posts from us 🤩. I know that’s true for me. I watch people’s posts, and I feel excited when incredible people join forces and share it with the world! I think in the end, people remember important events for sure, but the greatest memories come from the people who made YOUR event or even, more specifically, your life, important to them, too.
Social media can be a powerful way to celebrate your events AND your relationships.
I wasn’t alive when President Bush led our nation, in fact, I wasn’t even alive when his son, George was President. I’ve only ever known two Presidents in my lifetime, Obama and our current leader. Still, it seems like the measure of President Bush’s life wasn’t just in his time as President, but instead, in his time as a husband, daddy, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend. It’s like all of those roles were the most important parts of who he was as a human being. I just love that 💗. One granddaughter shared how she never even thought about her grandfather as President because to her, he was simply “Gampy,” -- someone who’d always put everything aside to make her feel important.
Although all of the eulogies for Bush were beautiful, it was the eulogy by James Baker, one of Bush’s closest friends for 60 years that stuck with me the most. I heard earlier, how Baker was there in President Bush’s final moments, and how he rubbed the President’s feet as a small gesture of love and comfort. I imagined this must have helped his friend feel heartbeeps in his final moments of life. It was one last act of humble service Baker could give his friend. I get heartbeeps just thinking how such a small act can be so giant in the heart of someone going to heaven💗.
My heart really beeps deeply for Baker. His lifelong friend isn’t here anymore, and I just know he will miss him so much. But, then I think about how beautiful it is to miss someone because of the love and memories they gave you. It’s like your life is richer from them, and so your memories are richer too. Baker described Bush as a “truly beautiful human being” -- someone who wasn’t known as a skilled speaker, but whose deeds were quite eloquent. I just love how this illustrates something I’ve heard my parents say to me again and again: actions speak louder than words.
Right now, my Grumps is in hospice. I’ve learned dying isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes time. Lots of time. Sometimes people don’t understand the time it takes. It’s like when you say hospice people think the person will die immediately. But, everyone’s journey is their own, even when it’s time to die, and I think my Grumps might have some more thinking to do. His body has Parkinson’s, but his heart and his brain are free. He wants time to think and love and just be.
I’m sharing about this journey with my Grumps because I can’t capture how much my brain and heart feel in a simple post or tweet. But, it’s also a reminder for those who might think a person’s whole life is captured on social media. It’s not. There are so many parts of life that can’t be measured in a simple post or tweet. Sometimes some parts deserve more words; some that are public words, and some that just stay private.
Tonight, I’m thinking about how the Bush family measured George H.W.’s life in the stories they shared about him. I’m thinking of my Gram holding my Grumps’s hand. I’m thinking about the person who read my sad texts today and tried to cheer me up.
Some of you only know me as LivBit, but when you read this, you’ll know a little more about Liv. The kid who farts a lot. Sorry. It’s true 🤪. The kid who is always ready for another Pop Tart. Sorry. That’s true too. The kid who says I love you a lot. I’m not apologizing for that one. The kid who discovered this week who George H.W. Bush is, and whose heart feels changed forever from learning about his love. Not sorry. The kid who wishes very deeply her Grumps wasn’t hurting from Parkinson’s. No apology. The kid who lately has been wondering a lot about heaven. Only a little sorry if you’re the person who receives my texts on this one 😬. The kid who wishes to give the world more heartbeeps than heartaches. No need for a sorry here either.
I hope you read this blog and think a few things. First, I hope you think about the power of small acts, and how they can help someone through something hard. Give the hug. Say words that matter. Be present with a big smile. Be brave enough to show your feelings even if it means someone might hurt you. Remember your actions speak bigger than anything else. I hope you’re patient even when it’s hard, and you love with courage.
That’s what I’ve learned in the last few months. From all my adventures, the ones you see on social media, and the ones you don’t, I’ve learned it takes courage to love. And, it takes even more courage to let go💗.
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits.
Have you ever thought about the meaning of the phrase “have it all?”
On a recent school visit in New Jersey, the excitement of the day started from the moment my car pulled into the parking lot. Even before I could get out, kids ran to the chain link fence, wildly cheering, waving, and calling for me. The fence shook with the excitement of so many bodies pressing against it, and I couldn’t help but leap out of my car, and run toward the love💓. I stretched my arms as far as they could reach, and felt the hugs of heavy bodies pressing against me, and I took in the mix of many arms embracing my back and neck. It’s as if I belonged in this place, and was being welcomed home.
That’s how powerful kid love can be; it can make you feel as if you have it all, like the world looks straight at you and says, “I love you sooooo much.” Turning, I saw Julie, the library media specialist at the school. Julie’s bright blue eyes danced with excitement, and her soft gray hair framed her happy face. As I moved down the hallway, I noticed as she walks, it’s as if she leaves a trail of heartbeeps. Following this heartbeepy path, I arrived in her library, a space that’s as happy as Julie’s sweet face -- a space that reaches out and immediately embraces you with the promise of a million stories 📚.
Sitting at a small table was a group of students who were my “real” welcome committee.They sat wide-eyed, and I couldn’t figure out if their stunned expressions were for me or for the plate of “Pop Hearts” in the middle of the table. I think it was mostly their desire to dig into the Pop Hearts😉. Julie took my favorite flavor Pop Tarts (strawberry frosted) and cut them into hearts. It was the sweetest, yummiest, and most clever breakfast I’ve ever eaten; it’s as if she found a way to make edible heartbeeps😂.
As I visited with the welcome crew, Julie had Jason Mraz’s “Have It All” on repeat, and it played softly as we chit chatted together. She shared with me how the song embodied everything about LivBits and how it inspired the kids to create special Pop Tart notecards for me. She also informed me, it would play as I entered the auditorium for my whole school keynote speech later that morning. I can only say at that very moment, I understood my message better by hearing how Julie saw me and my work in the words of a song.
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change…
I’m humbled someone imagines my LivBit work to be as meaningful as the words of Mraz’s music, because “Have It All” is like an anthem for heartbeeps💓! When you look at the music video for the song and see the part where the little girl beckons Mraz into the school, it’s a PERFECT example of #KidsCanTeachUs. Later, my mum told me Julie’s gift to me was bigger than the song, the Pop Hearts, or the kindness she shared with me that morning, Julie created an opportunity for me to see myself through someone else’s eyes.
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you...
Maybe this is surprising for some of you. You might think with all of the experiences I have, that I understand myself deeply. But, honestly, it’s still hard for me to believe my voice matters to the world. My mum explained, the experience with Julie was proof of how I CREATE heartbeeps for other people. As I remembered Julie skipping around the table snapping pictures, and softly signing to the music, I knew my mum was right.
May you always lead from the beating in your chest...
After my keynote, I visited classrooms, and it was clear how much the students had studied, wondered, and embraced my work. It was clear how much they wanted to tell the world their stories too, and I was so incredibly happy to help them do that. Each moment in Julie’s school felt a little magical, and I could see her beaming with pride as the students worked with my mum and me.
I want you to have it...all you can imagine...
Just as the day was coming to an end, I was greeted in the hallway by a girl who looked about the same age as me, and who I recognized from the morning welcome committee. We had the same caramel color hair and she was wearing a beautiful flower crown and a message shirt that said, “Girls Rule!”💪 In a small way, it’s like she was a reflection of me. I chatted for a moment with her, and keeping true to the reflection, she was a hugger like me. She asked if she could give me one last hug to last her a long time. I was so happy to oblige 🤗.
May you know the meaning of the word happiness...
I’m still thinking about what happened next. My reflection turned to my mum and said, “I really wish I had a mom like you.” She said these words softly, but purposefully, and her eyes held a small bit of sadness I couldn’t really understand. My mum matched her embrace and hugged her deeply. She looked down at her face and whispered, “You just gave my heart a gift. I hope this hug stays with you even after I leave.” The girl nodded, then walked away slowly, and at the end of the hallway she paused and gave us a small wave.
Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change…
Later that night, as my mum and I were getting ready for bed, we talked about the excitement of the day, the teachers, the kids, our favorite friend, Diana and how grateful we were for our time together. Then, we revisited what the girl had said to my mum and how it made both of us feel. It’s not that I don’t appreciate my mum and all she does, but I guess sometimes I don’t see her how other people see her, especially other kids. Maybe part of “Have It All” is having moments where you are reminded of really important things, like how good people can be for the world and loving them better.
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you...
My mum took one of the notes from the Pop Heart box Julie had given me. We read it together. It was from the girl in the hallway. Like all the other notes the kids wrote to me, the front had a giant hashtag, and it was perfect: #KidsHaveVoice. Her note on the back was unforgettable. She shared how much she hoped I smiled when I read her words and how she loved LivBits and my message that kids have a voice. Her very last sentence though will live with me forever: “My voice got me a better family.”
May the road less paved be the road that you follow...
You see, this girl was new to the school, and she used her voice to get herself and her younger sibling help when her own family didn’t care for them. I’m going to be completely honest and share that I am still processing this. I never imagined my message impacting another kid in this way, but now that I see it did, I understand even more completely how vital it is for kids to use their voices. I want kids to know when they do, their voice matters💓.
I want you to have it all...
It’s true you just never know how you impact people. Maybe you truly “Have It All” when you see yourself, your message, your love reflected back in ways that change your heart and help you see the world with more empathy.
I hope after you read this blog, you will think about what “Have It All” means to you. I hope you might love someone a little better; use words that lift someone’s sorrow even for a minute; hug someone so hard you feel their heartbeep; write a note with words that someone you love can take with them into the future; or reach out to someone you miss and tell them your life is better with them in it.
It’s like this experience helped my heart see the world more clearly. And, when your heart sees the world better, you really do have it all 🌎.
If you believe it then anything can happen...
Thank you to all my New Jersey friends, but most especially, to Julie who saw me in a song that now lives in my heart forever.
You can have it all! I toast you 🤗!
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
It seems like the summer into 6th grade is a sort of time warp. Many kids left 5th grade looking like 5th graders, and entered 6th grade looking like mini grown ups 😳. Sometimes I only know the differences in myself when people remark how “grown up” I look. It’s funny because in many ways my heart feels like a really silly version of 8, 9, and 10, but, my brain says, it’s time to “grow up” and “act mature”. But, mostly my brain is nuts and doesn’t have a clue, so, I’m not sure I should trust it 🤪!
I think sixth grade is one foot in childhood, and the other in grownuphood. It’s a magical, mixed up netherland of possibilities. It’s a time to ask loads of questions. Figure things out. Linger in some loneliness. And, make mistakes. It’s a time to think about passions, and dream about the future. Eleven is a smidge of time like no other and, mostly, I hope people just let me be eleven this year.
What do I mean by this? Sometimes it feels like grown ups rush kids through important things. It’s like they want us to learn the lesson before the learning experience is even over. So, when I say let me be eleven, I want you to know, I will probably write another blog next year asking you to let me be twelve 😬. In other words, stop rushing me through times where I need to linger. Rushing feels awful, and it makes me forget to pay attention. It makes me miss important things that might become a really special memory.
I have a few other wishes for this mixed up netherland of possibilities, so I figured I’d create a small list for people to consider. Maybe if grown ups read this blog, they might understand a bit better what kids like me need. To be honest, most lists about being eleven, come from adults who are trying to remember what eleven feels like OR they are attempting to interpret eleven from the kids around them. Consider this a primary source for all things ELEVEN 😉:
1) Eleven needs choices
Most kids want choices, but when you’re eleven it’s super important for loads of reasons. Eleven is trying to figure things out, and without choices, it’s really hard to know what makes our heartbeep. We will make some wrong choices; please let us. Give us the space to learn from mistakes. Stay patient, and don’t shame us when we end up on the wrong side of right. Maybe we need a bit of wrong to understand what’s right for us. Maybe what’s right for us is different from what’s right for you. Eleven needs choices.
2) Eleven needs reassurance
I think one of the hardest things about growing up is making decisions. Decisions are super hard. It might sound like I am contradicting myself, since in the bit above, I said eleven needs choices and with choices comes decisions, but we also need reassurance when we make the decisions. Remember how I said some of my friends came back to school looking like mini grown ups? Well, just because their bodies look older, doesn’t mean they understand all the craziness happening around them. Sometimes the best kind of reassurance comes from being wrapped up in a huge hug by a favorite grown up. Please don’t ever think eleven doesn’t like to be hugged. Hugs reassure us. Hugs energize us. Hugs remind us we can make mistakes and keep going. Eleven needs reassurance.
3) Eleven needs consistency
It’s funny how when you’re growing up, you hear the word consistency a lot, like be sure to do you chores or homework with some kind of consistency 🙄. I love this word for loads of reasons, but maybe not for the same reasons grown ups like it 😬. It’s really important if you’re involved in a kid’s life you don’t flake out. It’s like the story from The Little Prince when the Rose explains love to the him by saying, “You are responsible for what you tame.” Kids learn to love by experiencing consistency from those around them. Consistency means being available, reassuring worries, answering loads of questions, or even reminding eleven they have purpose in the world. Sometimes the one foot that’s in grownuphood feels purposeLESS, so being there consistently matters. Don’t be that grown up in a kid’s life, who doesn’t see them for a long time, then regrets it. Eleven needs consistency.
4) Eleven needs challenge
Nothing is worse than being stuck in situations where learning is questionable. Sometimes it feels this way in project-based learning. It’s like every, single learning experience becomes an occasion for a project where the labor to learning ratio is skewed, so mostly labor but little learning. My mum and I talk about this ALL THE TIME, and sometimes we present on it at conferences. I like when she describes learning as the times when we have the most questions and even some confusion. She says this can push our thinking deeper and challenge us in real ways. I just love this! I love thinking about questions for a long time. I also super love looking for answers. I love doing projects too, but the best projects I’ve ever done aren’t ones graded in school; they are ones that have challenged something I feel passionate about. Eleven needs challenge.
5) Eleven needs time
Tucked up inside of me are all my years: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. I can’t be eleven without being all the other ages too. It’s really powerful to imagine how all the other ages create experiences you’ve learned from in your life. But, time is a funny thing, and it passes very quickly and sometimes even very slowly, maybe even in the same moment. It’s all about perspective. I’ve heard so many times this year, how much I’ve grown up or changed, and it’s probably true. Still, at the very heart of who I am, is who I was when I was 10, and 9, and 8, and so on. So, take the time to appreciate eleven through my eyes. Try to hold back judgments. Try to offer understanding instead of answers. Remember how time will pass and sometimes even change who I am in profound ways. Kids love when time matters to you as much as it does to them. So, try and listen when we talk on and on about Minecraft (hehehehehe 😂) because someday you might miss those endless listening sessions. Eleven needs time.
Thank you for being a part of my eleven. Thank you for thinking about choices, reassurance, consistency, challenge, and time with me. Thank you for looking at the kids in your life and considering how much your understanding can make a difference in who they become. Thank you for thinking about how someone who is eleven can teach you first-hand what matters to kids. But, most importantly, thank you for creating spaces where eleven is encouraged to grow and change, make mistakes and learn, be serious and goofy, and be just what eleven is meant to be, a big, giant heartbeep in between 10 and 12 💓.
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
Have you ever thought about how learning outside of school can be just as valuable as learning in school?
I’ve been bugging my mum for awhile now with questions about the meaning of irony. I’ve asked her so much, she sometimes anticipates a question from me, and says, “No, Liv that’s just a coincidence.” But, I think I have a perfect example of irony: all the times people ask me about missing school for my LivBit work. When someone pesters my nana with the same question over and over again, she always says, “If I had a nickel for everytime someone says that to me, I’d be a rich person!” And, that’s how I feel about the questions around me and school and LivBits.
It’s ironic people ask me about school since my LivBit work is soooo RICH with learning opportunities. I’ve actually worked and reworked this blog post for several days, trying to find the best way to explain my learning. I’ve edited out HUGE examples of all the things I learned on my last adventure because the list of things I learned was too long. I thought maybe I should list the content areas underneath each example to “prove” my learning is legitimate. Maybe it would satisfy some of the people asking me questions about missing school, but instead, I hope my words will be proof enough. I’ve also tried to figure out just the right words to explain how grateful I feel for the opportunity I had because I’m fearful people’s constant questioning means I don’t show enough gratitude.
Last week, I had an incredible opportunity to travel to Anchorage, AK with the Follett Learning team. If you don’t know who Follett is, let me tell you! Follett Learning is an incredible book company, working all over the world to get books in the hands of kids! Lucky me, I got to announce the winners of the annual Follett Challenge!
Tudor Elementary in Anchorage, AK is this year’s Grand Prize Winner for their inspiring project, “Young Global Citizens.” The coolest thing about Tudor’s project is how similar it is to the work I do on LivBits. It's such an outstanding example of how #KidsCanTeachUs!
Tudor’s efforts won them $60,000 in products and services from Follett Learning! I have sooooooo many #heartbeeps thinking about how their work will touch the world even more widely now that they have Follett’s support. It was very humbling to be a small part of Tudor’s story, and I learned soooo much while I was in Alaska, and I made soooooo my new friends!
In case you’re curious or are worried about what I learn when I miss school, I hope this mashup of facts from my Seattle/Alaska/Portland adventures proves how much learning happens from my LivBit work.
There are no direct flights from Boston (my home airport) to Alaska. But, if there were, it would be about a 12-hour flight to Anchorage. Oh! In case you’re wondering why we went to Seattle and Portland (since I got several messages asking how many cities I planned to hit on this trip), it’s because my mum has a very serious eye condition, and we had to take a short break in flying to relieve the pressure in her eyes. We decided to make a sad situation, HAPPY!
I finally got to meet the very first person in my #DigitalTribe, Susan, also the voice for Helen the Shark. If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know how important Susan-Helen is to me. Susan and I recreated a picture (you can see it in the slide show above), that’s so special, I’ll never forget it! I hope when you think of my work, you’ll think about this picture and how real digital connections are in the life of a learner.
I was able to add to my #tutuproject throughout this trip, and the Seattle pictures were so special and in so many iconic places! I even got to meet up with my Disney friend, Amanda, who just happened to be home visiting her mom! In 24 hours, I saw two people I SUPER love in Seattle! How awesome is that?
Did you know Seattle is one of the most literate cities in the United States? It has the most bookstores and libraries per capita, and the most library card-holders to check them out! BEST LIVBIT FUN FACT EVER!
The Alaska state motto is “North to the Future” and although I don’t think any state motto beats NH’s “Live Free or Die,” I do think Alaska’s is pretty cool! It made me think about my connected learning journey taking me all the way to Alaska; first digitally, and then, in person. I’m positive I’ll never forget their motto because of its meaning to me as a learner.
One of my best #KidsCanTeachUs fun facts about Alaska is about their state flag! 13-year old Bennie Benson designed it in 1926. It became the official Alaskan flag when Alaska became part of the Union in 1959. Isn’t that AMAZING?!
Alaska’s schools are the MOST diverse in the ENTIRE United States. This is a pretty awesome claim to fame because I think most people would imagine the most diverse schools would be in a big city somewhere, but not true! Alaska has more cultures/ethnicities/races in its schools than anywhere else in America.
The Anchorage School System has over 100 schools in it. Some of the schools have specialized programs like STEM, Montessori, and even immersion programs in German, Japanese, and Spanish. Tudor Elementary School, where I visited, has a school within a school program. Some of the kids are in a K-2 Montessori program, and next year they are expanding their Montessori program into the upper grades too! I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!
There are A LOT of moose roaming around Alaska. They aren’t shy, and will even come into people’s yards to eat and visit. Schools often have moose (or bear) evacuations if one shows up on the playground!
More than half of the world’s glaciers are in Alaska. When I was there I saw the Matanuska Glacier from the air! It had sooooo many turquoise blue pockets from compressed ice crystals. It’s one of the most beautiful things in nature I have ever seen.
I was in Alaska at an incredibly cool time of year! The sun barely set at night! It was twilight all the way until almost 2:00 in the morning, then the sun would set for a little while, and then come right back up. As it gets closer to the summer solstice, the sun in Anchorage will be up for almost 19.5 hours! Some Alaskans say all the light is their gift for so much darkness in the winter! I think it also means all that light fills people’s souls with joy to carry them through the year.
Alaskans have very generous hearts. When I was there, I met so many incredible people. They wanted to share their cultures with me, and why they call Alaska home. I loved learning about what the different native groups ate, and what some of their traditional clothing looked like. Also, no one I met lived in an igloo, but they told me plenty of Canadians do!
Portland, OR could have actually ended up Boston, OR since the name was decided when the founders, one from Portland, ME and one from Boston, MA flipped a coin to decide the name! THIS NEW ENGLAND KID LOVES THIS FUN FACT SO MUCH!
I saw my first nude bicycle rider in Portland. It was interesting. 😬
Portland’s slogan is, “Keep Portland Weird.” Maybe that explains the nude bicycle rider???? 🤔
Powell’s City of Books is apparently the world’s largest independently owned bookstore. I spent hours there and wrote lots of recommendations for books! I was so excited to see they encourage kids to write recommendations! It’s the only bookstore I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to LOADS of bookstores) that has kid-written book recommendations. WAY TO GO POWELL’S!
Maybe someday we can have small tech devices for book recommendations. That way, kids of ALL ages can recommend their favorite books. I chose to write recommendations for picture books since all the ones written for those were by grown ups. If we used tech, we could have kids make voice threads or their own BITS for their recommendations! So age wouldn't matter! All kids could participate! SOMEONE TEAM UP WITH ME TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN! 🙏🏻
Portland’s nickname is “City of Roses” and the International Rose Test Garden has over 10,000 rose bushes with over 600 different types of roses! It’s one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever visited, and I loved looking at all of the different names of the roses. My favorite was the Charlotte Rose because it reminded me of my little sister, and it made my heartbeep for home.
I hope my long list shows how learning is everywhere. My mum says being curious about the world means you’re ALWAYS learning. And, I think that’s very true. I’m so grateful how much learning LivBits brings me. I learn from every experience I have. Sometimes my learning is so personal, it takes me awhile to process it. This happened in Alaska when one student shared about living with her brother because both her parents died. She was just a little older than me, but her comments made me think about how much kids have tucked up inside them every single day; how school is really only a small part of life; and learning comes from living everyday with your heart wide open to the world.
Here are the wishes lingering in me after this adventure: more opportunities for kids to learn WITH the world; more grown ups who genuinely encourage ALL kids to be part of a learning story; more ways for kids to use technology to CONNECT to places they’ve only ever dreamed about; and more encouragement for kids to become GLOBAL CITIZENS, like the kids I met at Tudor Elementary School. Finally, I wish for you, loads of adventures you’ll experience with your HEART WIDE OPEN because I think that’s the best kind of learning ever.
Thank you Follett Learning for helping me have a learning opportunity that will not only stay with me forever, but has changed me forever. You are defintely a copmany with your heart wide open. I am so happy I am connected to all of you!
And congratulations again to my friends in Alaska at Tudor Elementary! If I could have stayed with you forever, I would have in a heartbeep.💓
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
Have you ever thought about how📱+📚+🌎=🙇♀️
You don’t have to be a grown up to care deeply about another person, or to have wishes bigger than the present moment. Kids can have those feelings too. Kids can understand the power of being there for each other and encourage each other’s dreams. I’d say one of my best qualities, is my heart. It’s open to the possibility any dream can happen. I don't think I'm unusual; most kids have open hearts.
This week, I worked really hard to create a promo video for my school visits. I combed through loads of pictures, video clips, tweets, and emails trying to find just the right content. I hope I captured the feeling that happens when I visit schools to share my LivBit message. You can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/266234532
As I was searching, I thought about the feelings I GET from visiting different schools and the feeling I hope to GIVE during a visit as well. I could simplify the feelings by saying they are full of heartbeeps. But, I know, people might not know exactly what I mean. So, let me explain a bit more by describing some “heartbeepy” examples of why kids teaching each other is so important.
In Ohio, I met a kindergartner who followed me around her classroom and kept sneaking up and hugging me from behind. She whispered, “Can’t believe you’re really here, LivBit!” Except she actually called me “RivvBittt” which made my heartbeep even more for her. Her hugs were a reminder of how powerful my LivBit videos are even to the youngest students. I learned while I was visiting, this little girl doesn’t always have people outside of school who encourage her reading and thinking. I felt determined to keep a connection going even after I left her school. I’m lucky one of her teachers sends me videos of her, and I send videos back.
Just recently, I was sent videos by kids in Massapequa, NY. They made them as a sort of endorsement encouraging other schools to have me visit. The coolest part about receiving these videos is, it wasn’t an assignment from their teacher, it was something these kids did on their own time. Each time I watched the videos, (and I watched each of them about 100 times), I thought about how incredible it was to see kids who were passionate about my message, so much so, they encouraged other schools to have me visit! Another Massapequa student actually wrote an entire book about me and then sent videos explaining the book and why she wrote it.
Last night, one of the teachers from Tadlock Elementary, the school I visited last week in Frisco, TX, sent me a sneak peak of a video she created with her staff as a way to encourage the kids to do well on the Texas Standardized Test. I felt proud she included me in the video doing some of my crazy floss dancing, because I know the kids will love it! And, it will also keep me connected to them for longer than just the day I visited. School visits have the power to go on and on. All kids need is access to tech and permission to keep sharing.
One of the most important things I’ve learned from LivBits is how much learning can happen when you see the world as your classroom. Being a connected learner means having opportunities to learn from kid activists, authors, scientists, ballerinas, and people I admire and wish to be like. It also means having the privilege to visit schools and work with kids and teachers sharing my message #KidsCanTeachUs. It means being inspired by those people too!
I’d say the one downside of being a connected learner is the amount of time I spend missing people. My heart is filled with A LOT of missing. I’d say sometimes equal parts love, equal parts missing. But, the missing piece is the price you pay for sharing your story with the world. Once you share your story, it doesn’t belong to just you anymore; it belongs to the world. When you share your story, you become responsible to other people, and this means you have to open your heart to hear their stories too. All this leads to a whole lot of missing feelings. Those feelings squished together are what create heartbeeps.
I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t have desires and wishes to do something good for the world. It’s just each kid shows desire in different ways. So, if you’re a grown up reading this, and you’re wishing for more heartbeeps, just find a kindergartener and ask them about something they love. I PROMISE! You’ll find some heartbeeps by listening to them.
I was reminded about the power of my own heartbeeps from my kindergartener “RivvBit” friend who lives in Ohio, but also lives in my heart now, too; by my Massapequa friends who sent me video heartbeeps; for sure, by my Tadlock teacher, who sent me heartbeeps, too when she valued my flossing skills; and in all my missing feelings, there are sooooo many heartbeeps just waiting to be noticed.
Your world is filled with heartbeeps; you just have to look closely to see them. When you see them, you’re changed forever and ever, ever. So, embrace the missing. I promise, it’s worth it.
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits!
Have you ever thought about the importance of “seeing” your story in the world?
Last week I got to travel to Dallas, TX for the Texas Library Association’s annual conference. I was the keynote speaker for the Tech Camp and got to present sessions with my mum on LivBits and digital identity. The TxLA conference was one of my best conferences ever for loads of reasons, including the fact that I’ve NEVER been to Texas or been asked to take soooo many selfies with people before!
So, what makes TxLA the number one conference of my LivBit life? First, it’s a conference for librarians, and I figured out while I was there, that for SURE, librarians are MY PEOPLE. Maybe you’re surprised I didn’t know this already, because I call myself a book activist, but I’ve never been to a conference before whose main participants were librarians. Librarians “get” my message with no explanation, and we can also have loooonnnngggg conversations about our favorite books, and if you know me, you know, I LOVE to talk books! Next, I discovered everything really is BIGGER in Texas! They have the best hair flair, the most bedazzled clothes I’ve ever seen, and big hair that makes me soooo happy. I can also tell you there is NO city better than Dallas at night! Most buildings are lined with incredible lights, and it makes their height and beauty POP against the night sky. Big buildings make me soooo happy and Dallas has some of the best ones I’ve ever seen! But, the absolute BEST part of my Texas adventures were the PEOPLE! The people in Texas gave me sooooo many heartbeeps for books, life, and the world! I really feel like I found a big part of my story in Texas.
The day of my keynote was busy and fast paced. I love the energy in my body just before I am going to talk to a lot of people. It’s like my storytelling excitement is bigger than any nerves I might feel, and I just want to share big heartbeepy ideas with the audience. I’ve never started my keynote with a joke before, but I couldn’t resist sharing one my dad assured me would be a HUGE hit:
A duck walks into a library and says, “I’ll have a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke.”
The librarian says, “Mr. Duck, this is a LIBRARY!”
The duck answers (whispering), “Oh! Sooooo sorry! I’ll have a cheeseburger, fries, and a coke!”
Thanks TxLA for laughing so hard. I was worried it was one of those jokes only dads think are funny. But, I guess you can’t go wrong with a whispering duck in a library when it comes to an audience full of librarians!
I began thinking more deeply about my LivBit story from my keynote experience, and from something that was said to me while I was at TxLA. Someone said, “Liv, your librarian must LOVE you.” This assumption made me pause and think. The truth is my librarian doesn’t even know me. It’s not because I don’t spend time in my school’s library, because I’m there A LOT, but I’ve never really connected with the people in charge. My town’s librarian knows me because I spend time there reading loads of books for my Liv’s Lists. Still, no one has ever asked why I make them, and I guess, in some ways, I don’t want to assume the librarians I see weekly, will care about my LivBit story.
But, that’s why being connected is sooooo powerful! I know I have an ENTIRE state full of librarians in Texas who value my story and who have added meaning to it! I wish every kid had learning experiences outside of their classroom, school, and town. Every kid deserves to feel like an entire state is cheering on their learning!
Another person, who reminded me about the power of being connected, is Edward, the TxLA sound man. He made sure my mic worked well, and my video sound was loud enough for the massive room. Edward shared usually he doesn’t stay for the speeches, he just does the sound adjustments and heads out to other rooms to work on his daily to do list. But, when he heard the first few words of my keynote, including my “adorable” joke, he knew he had to stay.
I didn’t speak much to Edward before my speech. He was just working the sound, and I didn’t even know his name when he checked my mic. But, at lunch, he came over to me and asked if he could “give me an assignment.” I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, but I was curious. As Edward spoke to me, he grabbed his waist length hair and explained his Native American heritage. He shared how recently he was in a bookstore and found 4 books about Native Americans and over 50 about dogs. As Edward spoke, his eyes glistened. He proudly whipped out his phone and I saw images of him in his traditional Native American gear. His pictures were stunning. His words were stunning. His love for his story was stunning. Edward showed me how powerful it is to see your story in the world.
Edward wanted me to have this assignment because he said I have a special gift. He shared how the words in my keynote touched his heart, and my passion for sharing my story reminded him of the power of his own story. He asked if I’d become a legacy partner. This means I can share the story of Edward’s tribe, who are known for their fierce fighting skills and their loyal hearts. I asked Edward if being a legacy partner means his story never disappears. He answered, “That’s your assignment, Liv. Find a way to share my story so it never dies and people can see how Native people’s stories are stitched into the earth. Then, your people become my people. Our people become one and our stories become forever stories Then, we can see my story in the world, the way you see yours.”
I can absolutely tell you this experience with Edward helped me to see my own story more clearly. Now when I think of my story, I’ll think of TxLA, and how I found my people. My mum told me some people search their whole lifetime just to find their people. She said maybe their people came to them, but they weren’t able to see them for one reason or another.
So, I hope today, you’ll think about your people, how they help you create your story, and how your story stitches you into the earth. Imagine if we could have a bird’s eye view of all those stitches! I think it would look like cool heartbeepy patterns connecting us together.
Finding your people helps you see your story in the world. Finding your people helps you know your story matters. Finding your people gives you heartbeeps for life.
Thank you, TxLA for loving LivBits, and most especially, a super special thank you to Becky Calzada, for believing in a kid like me and making TxLa possible! I feel so lucky I get to go back to Texas in June for work in San Angelo and November for NCTE because that means I get more time with my people.
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And thank you for following LivBits!
Have you ever met someone briefly and thought, “This is someone I will never forget?”
Last week was incredibly memorable. I was in three cities (Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis) within 5 days time, and it was all such a whirlwind! I feel sort of like there might never be another week in my life where so many heartbeeps come at me sooooo quickly.
I went to my favorite city, Chicago for an epic 24 hours of food, friends, and seeing Hamilton (someday I will blog about the words in this show, but I need more think time on that one) for the first time. Then, I traveled to St. Louis where I visited two schools in the Lindbergh District, Crestwood and Dressel. At both schools, there was so much LivBit spirit! Kids were soooo excited to hear my message AND learn how to make their own Bits. At one of the schools, the assistant principal dressed up as Helen the Shark, and the principal wore a ginormous shark head that he later gave me! I ended my time in St. Louis at the METC conference, where I was the closing keynote speaker. I saw old friends AND I made new friends everywhere I went.
But, heartbeeps find you at just the right times. You only need an open heart to feel them.
On our way from the STL airport to our hotel, we hopped in an Uber. Our driver, Michael was chatty and kind. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise anyone to hear, I usually talk a lot whenever I’m in a taxi or an Uber. My mum and me make friends wherever we go. So, it was no different when we were in STL. I told Michael all about what I was looking forward to, including getting to share my story with METC as the closing keynote speaker.
Michael shared a lot of beautiful ideas with us as we chatted. He talked about his path to peace, loving other people, and having a heart for the world. He also shared about how a lot of this came from feeling disappointed by others, but finding faith in ideas bigger than people. I don’t think it’s an accident Michael found us that day. If you’ve read any of my other blogs (check out #ForGood here: http://www.thelivbits.com/blog/previous/2), you know about my mum and me having incredible taxi and Uber karma.
I think good people find each other. I also believe the universe gives you gifts bigger than any material gifts you can ever be given. So, hearing Michael’s words that day were a reminder for my heart about how beautiful the world is. And, how loving through a hard time is so important. I thought about Holly McGhee’s words in my podcast, where she said Pascal Lemaître, her illustrator friend, sent her a message after 9/11 that touched her heart so much, she held onto it for years, until eventually they wrote a book together. Come With Me commemorates their friendship, and it also tells a story about love and light.
Michael dropped us off at the hotel for the conference that day, and, if I’m completely honest, I said goodbye, thanked him, and didn’t think I’d ever see him again. But, it’s ok, because when people share beautiful ideas, the heartbeeps they give you, stay with you forever. I carried around those heartbeeps from Michael for the entire conference.
My mum and I were sooooo busy at the conference! We presented together and we presented individually. Then, the big day was here before I knew it. As we were walking to the huge ballroom where I was going to speak, my mum gave me the same words she always gives me before I share my LivBit work: Be present, give love, listen to my heart and let it carry me through my speech.
As soon as I arrived in the room, I quickly mic’d up, tried out my step stool at the podium, and did a sound check. Then, the doors were opened and people began to stream in.
Minutes before I was going to step on the stage, someone tapped on my shoulder. When I turned around, I immediately grabbed my mum’s hand to get her attention. It was Michael, our Uber driver! He said he volunteered for the day at the conference, so that he could come to hear me speak. He was even wearing his BEST message shirt! I was stunned. I was honored. I let Michael’s surprise carry me onto the stage.
As I was speaking that day, I felt the kind of love for the world that comes when you realize strangers can quickly become people you will never forget. Strangers can be the people who teach your heart the kind of lessons that last for a lifetime. Strangers can give you the kind of heartbeeps that never fade away. Strangers can become friends.
Michael brought us back to the airport at the end of the conference. It was the best Uber ride ever. He couldn’t wait to talk to me about my speech, and he gave me a new word to think about. He said I was refulgent. I had no idea what that word meant. Then, he told it means to shine brightly.
So, think about the people you might see today, but not know. Take a minute, give them a smile, ask them a question, listen as they speak. In a world filled with strangers, think about how every, single person has the potential to be your Michael. Everyone has a Michael waiting for them. And, just like my Michael, you’ll be changed forever by knowing each other. Your light together creates heartbeeps for the world. Find that light and share it. The world needs more refulgence, and you have the power to make that happen, just like Michael made it happen for me.
A stranger is only unknown to you, until you ask them a question. As soon as you hear them answer, they have the potential to become a friend.
Share your light with the world. Share your light to change the world.
Keep reading! Keep thinking! And, thank you for following LivBits.
Hi, I'm Liv and I am super excited to share my thinking with you!