Let the Apple ripen on the branch beyond your need to take it down (Blog #38)

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 6.48.44 PM.png
IMG_6254.JPG

Listen to the BLOG HERE

Let the Apple ripen on the branch beyond your need to take it down.

(David Whyte)

One of our all time faves, Lisa Congdon illustrated and posted this quote from a David Whyte poem on Instagram today.

Years ago, Kuki flagged her as someone to look out for. She started following her and buying her books and we took her online Creative Bug classes. All this to say that Lisa is a huge inspiration to us. She is a mostly self taught artist who is not only brilliant, talented and prolific, but has grit and perseverance too.

Yes! her work is incredible but her tenacity and drive are equally impressive.

We learn so much from the artists, poets, influencers and change makers in our midst. We are grateful that we can make art to contribute to the world even in the most insignificant ways.  

As we continue to evolve on this book publishing journey we are deepening our understanding on waiting, ripening, patience and harvest.

Which is why this quote struck us today.

Let the Apple ripen on the branch beyond your need to take it down.

On this cold late Winter day, our fruit is still on the vine and we are savouring the sweet spot of now.

Where do you see the fruit ripening in your life? And do you have a need to take it down? What would happen if you waited?

SUBSCRIBE

WINTER APPLE By David Whyte

Let the apple ripen

on the branch

beyond your need

to take it down.

Let the coolness

of autumn

and the breathing,

blowing wind

test its adherence

to endurance,

let the others fall.

Wait longer

than you would,

go against yourself,

find the pale nobility

of quiet that ripening

demands…

watch with patience

as the silhouette emerges

and the leaves fall;

see it become

a solitary roundness

against a greying sky,

let winter come

and the first

frost threaten,

and then wake

one morning

to see the breath

of winter

has haloed

its redness

with light.

So that a full

two months

after you

should have

taken the apple

down

you hold it in

your closed hand

at last and bite

into the cool

sweetness

spread evenly

through every

single atom

of a pale

and yielding

structure.

So that you taste

on that cold,

grey day,

not only

the after reward

of a patience

remembered,

not only

the summer

sunlight

of a postponed

perfection,

but the sweet

inward stillness

of the wait itself.





Love is Love (or is it)

kelly-sikkema-530120-unsplash.jpg

Listen HERE

For Valentine’s Day, we thought we would share a few words about love. Our love in particular. The Dragon and Bunny variety. This week was so exciting for us because we had the most incredible opportunity to be interviewed by Natasha Hall on the Natasha Hall show on CJAD to talk about The Butterfly Trap.

listen to the interview

It was interesting, because in the interview, when she introduced us she identified our love story as something that evolved into a children’s book. Which is actually pretty accurate.

We met in the classroom, we bonded over our love of education and passion for the creative process. Years later, we decided to collaborate on The Butterfly Trap and our very own butterfly-loving Luki was born!

TheButterflyTrap_BB_18-10-04 (2) (dragged).jpg

Being in love with Kuki, being her wife and sharing a life together is literally the best thing that has ever happened to me. For most of my life, I didn’t actually believe the lyrics of love songs. You know the ones, where lovers declared their undying gratitude and are transformed, healed and uplifted by the magical powers of romance. I literally thought that these words were as impossible and unrealistic as horned flying unicorns. I have been disappointed by love and had literally lost hope that lasting romance and loving kindness were possible. Until I became a Bunny and Kuki became a Dragon and all those words to all those sappy love songs became my living reality (flying unicorns, loving kindness and all).

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so I am giving myself licence to confess my love and devotion to the human that is so consistently loving, kind and dedicated to me.

But Being in a queer relationship has its challenges. For example, just today I was waiting for Kuki in a cafe in Ottawa when someone who worked at the restaurant asked if I needed anything else. I replied without thinking …”no thanks.  I’m just waiting for my …. friend umm…I mean partner” gesturing toward the washroom. My friend?

Really?

Why would I even think that?

Why would I feel afraid or ashamed or even hesitant to say who I was waiting for?

My wife. She is my wife. In the eyes of the law, we are as legally married as any other couple. We were in Ottawa for Winter Pride for goodness sake! How much more affirming could that be? Yet I still had the knee jerk reaction to hide who I am and call her a friend because that is what most people assume. Or sister actually. We often hear, “you look so much alike… sisters?” And we have also been asked if we were mother - daughter but that’s another blog.

thomas-ae-635132-unsplash.jpg

Anyway, the point is, it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s full out scary and vulnerable. At times, we still feel that we have to hide who we are in order to avoid controversy which is I guess what happened to me today, without even thinking.

I am grateful for the slogan Love is Love but in real life, it’s really not. Queer love isn’t equal to hetero love in the eyes of our stubborn, hard-wired heteronormative perceptions.  Thankfully, the movement is gaining more traction and queer families are getting more acceptance, and queer kids are feeling less weird and that is awesome!

Fun fact: Our book series will have LGBTQ representation with the hopes of further breaking down stigmas and stereotypes and normalizing the community.

Because Love IS Love and speaking for myself, this love is the best most complete and life affirming love I could have ever imagined.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers! Keep on loving and striving and showing up for what matters. We can do this!


jordan-mcdonald-766295-unsplash.jpg




Blog 36. You don't have to be Happy all the time...

As promised, after the Bell Let’s Talk mental health awareness campaign, here is my story about my own mental health crisis


A few years ago my mental health plummeted. I started to have episodes of extreme panic coupled with a chronic sense of anxiety sprinkled with bouts of crippling depression.

I guess we can’t ever know exactly what triggers these things. Hormones? Chemical imbalance? Obviously I wanted to understand what would have lead to such a crisis. I do know that my sister had recently died of cancer revealing some profound deficits in my family and leaving me grasping for meaning. I can also tell you that I started having migraines and headaches with greater frequency than ever before.

I recently asked Dragon what she considered to be the most challenging phase of our relationship so far.

We have been through some transitions. From our harrowing beginnings (me coming out, divorcing and losing my house, business and reputation) to the loss of her cherished Grandmother, Noni, my mum’s stroke, losing our dogs Shawn and Betsy to illness, and to more positive but stressful nonetheless experiences such as getting married, writing and publishing our  book etc.

And she said that the mental health lapse I am describing was the hardest. She was scared and didn’t know what to do, how to help and if I would get better.

It was a really scary time. I sometimes felt desperate and didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed, would cry all the time and I even had dark thoughts about suicide. I remember googling “what do you do if you feel like killing yourself” and keeping the suicide hotline page open and holding the phone open with the number ready to dial. As I said, it was a really scary and sad time and there were layers of distress to grapple with.

alisher-sharip-117976-unsplash.jpg


What did I do?

How did I climb out of the hole?

Or did I?

I reached out to friends who were health care professionals and asked for recommendations, I started seeing my therapist more often, I started drinking pots and pots of mint tea, removed sugar and caffeine from my diet and started taking vitamins, herbs and supplements from the health food store.

I think one of the most helpful modalities was regular osteopathy sessions offered by a very talented and sincere osteopath named Ken Allego.  I felt things shift literally after the first session with him. But it took months and many relapses to actually feel that I was out of the woods. In fact, I received treatments for a full year before I started to wean off. I have learned that I am someone who suffers from mental health conditions that can be triggered by stress, hormones and adversity. Actually, maybe I will never be out of the woods entirely but am now in the thicket with clear glimpses of meadow on most days.

sebastian-unrau-31874-unsplash.jpg

Taking care of my mental health now is fuelled by visits to the gym for weight training, acupressure sessions with gifted healer Marjorie Silcoff, , yoga, prayer and meditation, and a careful nutrition regimen.

On a final note, I would like to remind us all that we can still live a wonderful, healthy, meaningful and productive life if we have been afflicted by anxiety and / or depression. Getting sick doesn’t mean we will always be sick. Many people recover, find strategies to cope, and even channel their pain and suffering into an opportunity for helping others, being creative and for social impact. It is important that we continue to de stigmatize mental illness and to support one another in radical ways.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel all the feelings and relieve the unrealistic pressure of being happy all the time.   

Always Remember ….Empathy matters! Be Kind! Be generous!! Be grateful! Be You!

(you may download this image HERE)

We+are+having+a+baby+girl!+(1) copy.jpg









Blog 35. Our Top 5 Fave Kids Books of All Time!!

Bunny’s Top 5 Fave Kids Books of All Time!!

(Listen to the Blog and let us read to you HERE)

This morning I (Bunny) stood in front of our bookshelf, housing a vast collection of children’s books, board books, toddler books and yoga books and I have to say, it was hard to choose my top 5.

I was flooded with memories and emotions as I flipped through them all. I have had the privilege of teaching and offering programs to so many different kids and families. Some are in rough shape because they have been around a while and some were actually brand new as they were just placed in the library and haven’t even been read yet!

Some are precious to me because they make me nostalgic and remind me of how it felt to capture the hearts and imaginations of young children through the pages of a book for the first time.

I remember watching veteran teachers engage a group of children with finger plays and stories when I was a newbie educator and thinking I would never be able to do the same.

I soon became preoccupied by searching out and acquiring the most compelling children’s books and building my own personal library as this would give me an advantage during circle time. I looked for books that had beautiful illustrations, were filled with adventure and wonder!

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 8.02.02 AM.png

Such as this one…. “Come The Terrible Tiger

Some of the books I still have but the pages are falling out as they have been read and fondled and inspected by many many children over the past 25 years!

Anyway, the point is, I have read a lot of books to a lot of kids and this has been one of the most bonding and effective methods of reaching, teaching and connecting with my students.


I chose the following (in no particular order)

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.23.30 AM.png

1. The World Belongs to You by Riccardo Bozzi / Illustrated by Olimpia Zagnoli (2013)

This is the newest acquisition in the collection I chose. It was just published in 2013 and has an incredible message, simple illustrations is empowering and validating. I use it in yoga classes as it reminds us of our agency, our freedom and our choices.

You are free to believe in anything you want. You are also free to believe in nothing at all” It also reminds us of our place in the world and our sense of belonging. “The world belongs to you and you belong to the world”  and perhaps my favourite quote:

You are free to love anyone you want and you are free to let that love go

I found myself deeply moved by this picture book. The simple yet powerful message touched and opened my heart and I am hopeful that even the youngest readers are touched too.

IMG_6343 copy.jpg

2. Make A Face A Book with a Mirror by Henry and Amy Schwarz (1994)

This book has been a “GO-TO” in my collection for many years! It is awesome because it features large, simple illustrations of children in a variety of emotional states. The language is very simple. There is no plot, no protagonist, no storyline, just children experiencing their emotions. For example the second page features a forlorn looking child with the words  “I want my mommy SAD”. Every time I have read this book to children of all ages, they stop and they look and they connect with the sentiment and when I ask them if they have ever felt this way many heads are nodding empathetically. Another perk is that there is an actual mirror in the back of the book where the children can look at themselves and identify how they are feeling.

IMG_6344 copy.jpg

3. Hide and Seek by Jez Alborough (1994)

This book offers humour, delight, and of course, nothing is better when reading to young children than the element of surprise! There are a variety of animals who are playing together, there is counting and camouflage and sheer joy in the pages of this wonderful lift the flap book!

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.32.39 AM.png




4. The Peace Book by Todd Parr (2004)

Todd Parr is one of our all time, hands down, biggest inspirations! We have all of his books and we read them as often as possible! The Peace Book is funny, sassy and smart and packs an important message. Plus, It champions diversity, inclusivity and care for our planet. What more could you ask for from a children’s book??




Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.40.33 AM.png

5. It’s Mine a fable by Leo Lionni (1985)

This book has been capturing the hearts and imaginations of my students for many years. I love how there are no humans in the book, instead there are frogs! I happen to love frogs so books about frogs always attract me. I also love nature and this book takes place in nature and allows readers to learn from and through nature and the elements. Most importantly the fable is about sharing. So, this delightful story has stood the test of time and deserves a place on your shelf if it isn’t there already!

A few final words about kids books.

If you love and connect with the book you are reading then you are more likely to read it in a way that will make your students / kids love it too.

Like any piece of writing or work of art, our responses are subjective so be mindful of this and patient with yourself and your kids if my selections don’t float your boat.

Let us know what your top five is - and did

The Butterfly Trap make the cut?

Love, Dragon and Bunny










5 Reasons Why we don’t have kids….

IMG_1857.jpeg

Listen Here (4 mins. 27 seconds)

Well, I can tell you now that I would have been voted most likely to have kids when I was in high school.

I mean, I LOVED kids!

I became an Aunt when I was 7 years old and I LOVED my little nephew beyond reason!

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 11.50.50 AM copy.PNG

I was babysitting at the age of 13 and became a live-in nanny at 19. I worked at camps and took babysitting courses and I always thought, without a doubt, that I would have a family of my own.

I even did my undergrad in Education, majoring in Child Studies, then worked with young children in pre-school and daycare settings for 20 years! I became a children’s yoga teacher, a children and youth ministry leader and then we go and launch DragonBunny Books and write a children’s book!

IMG_2543.jpeg

Clearly, there is something very compelling for me about children. Dragon and I always laugh because when children spot us, they can tell that we are their people. Just last night we were in a restaurant and a young family walked in. The youngest started moving her Incredible Hulk figurine in our direction to engage us. “We’ve been spotted - they are onto us” we laugh. We get kids. We know their language, their world … Dragon has been working and volunteering in schools, daycares, camps and pools for twenty years too,

so ….

You get the picture.

IMG_1705.jpeg

We met in the classroom, we bonded over lesson plans, fun songs, art projects and endearing teaching moments. But despite all this…. We don’t have children of own…


Why?


Reason 1.

For starters, despite being married and intimate and sharing the same bed, we aren’t biologically capable of conceiving which we have come to learn is accountable for a large number of pregnancies. You will never hear the words “Oops! We’re pregnant!” from our mouths.

In fact, for us to get pregnant would be a complicated process where only one of us would be the biological parent meaning we couldn’t share this experience fully and that’s not how we roll.

IMG_1403.jpeg

And as for adoption…. Well read on and you will learn more

Reason 2.

Because we know ALLLLLLL about kids (the good, the bad and the ugly) we are also highly equipped to weigh the options. Of course, we have dreamed of having our own child: of the post bath, clean toddler, smelling like baby powder, waddling around in a onesie with damp curls and cooing like a dove …. But then there’s the flip side…. The endless activities, their relentless emotional needs, the financial strain, and the very fact that we would have to radically alter our lives and schedules, both professional and personal.

Reason 3.

IMG_1552.jpeg

There are a lot of people on the planet. The world doesn’t need another one from us. It gives us some consolation that we have never put diapers in landfill, no plastic toys, no endless stream of gifts and clothes and food and disposable everything that human life demands.


Reason 4.

Honestly, we don’t think we would be very good at it. We think we would probably freak out, be too anxious. Speaking for myself only now because Dragon is a much better person than me, I’m too selfish and I don’t want to give up the freedom of being child free.

IMG_2948.jpeg

Don’t get me wrong. There is a flip side to everything. Not having children means we are not going to experience the depth of love of being parents. We have to mourn this decision as well as to celebrate it. I do look longingly at babies wrapped up in strollers being pushed by proud parents. They radiate love and comfort and all good things.


Reason 5.

We are able to express our maternal instincts and nurturance to our fur family - who we adore and lavish with the attention, care and devotion of parents.

IMG_4363.jpeg

Plus we love all of the children in our lives including our nieces and nephews, god children and students from all walks of life.


We are fulfilled

Our relationship is fulfilling, our life is rich and we are not really wanting for anything.

IMG_2532.jpg


I don’t have an unquenchable thirst or insatiable desire to be a parent - only a fleeting thought.

I sometimes feel a slight ache in my heart that I won’t ever know this kind of love, but I know the love that I have been blessed with and it feels me with inexplicable joy.


So there you have it, 5 reasons we don’t have kids. That is, why we don’t have kids right now.

Who knows? We might wake up tomorrow with a whole new longing.

We’re open to that! But until then, this is it…

IMG_1284.jpeg
Untitled design (2).png

We want it All!

Listen to the blog HERE

So the dust has settled.

We have launched our first book, our first Christmas season as published authors and the frenzy of sales and the holidays are now behind us.

Now we can breathe again…. Ahhhhh….

But wait, we didn’t create The Butterfly Trap book so we could breathe!

anna-samoylova-535880-unsplash.jpg
  • We want to shake things up!

  • We want to make a difference!

  • We want to Provoke change!

  • We want to make kids and families take a second look!

  • We want people to question their beliefs!

  • We want to rattle cages!

  • We want to make people laugh!

  • We want to make people think!

  • We want people to love and care for nature!


Yes! We want it all!

So… that’s just what we’re up to!

We aren’t breathing more… although breathing is very important!

Instead, we are super excited about the new year and the new ways that we are going to get the word about The Butterfly Trap and DragonBunny books and all of our awesome dreams for 2019!

P.S Today we were contacted by a radio station for a potential segment on our book!

So thanks for reading this and believing in us. We are planning on making it worth your while!

Please Subscribe (thank you)




The Best is Yet To Come!

As we are counting down the final days of 2018..... we find ourselves a little nostalgic.

annie-spratt-178364-unsplash.jpg

As you know, it was a big deal for us to launch The Butterfly Trap this year. We really put ourselves out there. We not only published for the first time but we also established a new website, blog and committed to building the DragonBunny Books brand. Even now as I write this, I get butterflies in my stomach - no pun intended.

You see, we have set our sights on big things. We believe that the best is yet to come. In 2019, not only will we publish again but we will continue to grow our audience and readership and watch The Butterfly Trap sensation expand to reach even more children, families and classrooms. We are developing supplemental materials to enhance your engagement with our book. Keep an eye out for music, lesson plans, work sheets and more!


We are excited to continue to deliver meaningful content for you and your family but we are also asking for your help as move into the New year...


What can you do?


  • You can rate our book on Amazon and on our Facebook page.

  • You can endorse our book by giving us a shout out on your own social media pages.

  • You can follow us on Instagram, Youtube and Facebook.

  • You can tell a friend, share our book, use good old fashioned word of mouth to spread the news!

  • If you haven't bought our book, colouring book, cards, prints or Swag bag then head over to our online shop and do so now!

  • Subscribe to our mailing list

Honestly, we are in this together and are so grateful to have a community as loyal, generous, kind and supportive as you are. We wish each of you all of the success, creativity, health, wealth, love and expansion that you desire and deserve!

Thank you 2018 and Welcome 2019!

Text placeholder.png

Final Blog ... Bunny spills Highlights of 2018 with all the juicy details

24232176_10156190831404267_8237685426298865237_n.jpg

Well, It’s Blog #30 and as it turns out it’s our final Blog of 2018. I have to tell you that I have found it very therapeutic to take this time every week to craft these entries. So, if you are reading now, thank you for indulging me!

thought-catalog-217861-unsplash.jpg

I love writing. It was something I was actually good at when I was in elementary school. I remember having my stories read aloud and my compositions being entered into contests. I loved English and Art as much as I loathed Math and Geography! I have always used journalling as a means of helping me to process information and to document portions of my life.

But I digress…

Today it’s all about sharing highlights from 2018

As you can well-imagine, publishing The Butterfly Trap was not only a highlight of the year but a highlight of our lives.

24177000_10156190831394267_3234416254439768625_n.jpg

Let’s flashback to December 2017 when I was working on daily illustrations for an Advent calendar and posting the images on Social Media - Inspired by Inktober. I received so much great feedback including inquiries and comments such as “you should illustrate a children’s book”

This of course appealed to me in every way. In fact, I had already written and illustrated a children’s book years ago but never taken the next steps. I vowed to myself that I would finally make this dream a reality and submit my story and artwork to a publisher in 2018.

To be honest, I was further propelled to make this happen as a trusted friend, mentor and colleague had just announced that he was leaving Canada. I was devastated. This impacted me so deeply as much of my passion and dedication to my work felt integral to our relationship at this time. I felt unhinged by his pending departure so I needed to channel my energy into something productive and meaningful.

When I shared my decision with Kuki, we considered the options and possibilities for publishing. It became very clear that what we really wanted was to do this together. We knew that our shared interest, combined talents and abilities were the perfect formula for book success. We decided to reboot the project from scratch…. together as Dragon and Bunny!

We renamed the main character who was originally Lulu, to a combination of both of our names, Kuki and Lee-Ann, Luki. And there you have it! The rest is history.

Re engineering the illustrations and story to reflect both of us was a complete labour of love.

The Butterfly Trap copy.png

Over the course of the past year, we have gone through all of the emotions: from anticipation to anxiety, regret, fear, elation and bliss.

But despite the rollercoaster of emotions, what has become increasingly clear is what makes life meaningful, rich and memorable. Life expands when we expand. Pushing our boundaries and growing, doing things that are a little crazy, this is the real stuff of life. Acquiring new skills and being able to stand on your own two feet… that is where the highlights are.

When my boss/friend/mentor left I wasn’t sure how I could stand on my own two feet. But I soon learned that I could. Plus, I suffered from all kinds of self doubt with regards to publishing The Butterfly Trap but nonetheless, I persevered.

Here’s the thing, one of the best ways to silence self doubt is to prove it wrong.

SELF DOUBT.png

So, the highlight of 2018 isn’t really about the actual publishing of the book it is more about the grit it took to acquire new skills and abilities in the process. Grit creates a deeper and more sustainable sense of well being, like the kind of well being that trumps other accomplishments likely because it endures.

I could make a list as long as my arm detailing the skills, knowledge and insights that this process has taught us. I am so grateful for this. It is worth every ounce of effort, time, energy and money that we spent.

Untitled design (2).jpg

Maybe one day I can share some of my learnings with you or someone you know who might be interested in publishing. We would love to share!

We are so excited to work on our next project in 2019. And can only dream of the things we will learn along the way! This journey really is all about the process!

Don’t go anywhere you guys because the best is yet to come!

Untitled design.png

See you in the New Year…. I wonder what Luki will be up to in the next round??? Any guesses or suggestions welcome!






Learning to heed wisdom from iconic 80's Movies

It’s been busy for us.

robert-bye-200739-unsplash.jpg

Since we took the leap of faith and decided to embark on this book publishing journey, it’s been busy for us.

It’s been so busy in fact that we really haven’t stopped.

Here’s how busy it’s been…

We get up early and make an effort to eat something decent, squeeze in some time at the gym, some prayer, yoga, and / or meditation.

Then we start our work day early.

We work all day and in the evening we make sure that we are keeping an eye on my geriatric mum by doing her laundry, groceries and checking in. We also care for our sweet 17 year old dog who is losing interest in foods she once loved and we are now on a continuous quest to stimulate her appetite. We try to cook healthy food and eat properly and are usually depleted and in bed by 9pm. We run a youth group on Sunday mornings and Kuki plays hockey on week ends too. And of course, there is always groceries and household chores

AND…

as you well know,

we wrote, illustrated, published and marketed our first children’s book…THE BUTTERFLY TRAP. Since then, we have been doing book readings / signings and online events while building our brand, a website, social platforms etc etc….

And, we wouldn’t change a thing!

But lately I’ve been feeling it.

There is no down time, friend time, goof off time or leisure time… that can’t be good.

Sometimes I look back at the person I was when I was a teenager. I remember feeling so carefree. Many teen agers are really stressed: they may have performance pressures and are high achievers, they have extra curricular activities. They are wound up and worried about the future.

That doesn’t describe me… nope. I was a dead beat.

  • no self discipline,

  • no structure,

  • no sense of consequences.

  • I hardly attended high school,

  • I hung out with friends in cafes instead and didn’t worry about a thing.

AAAAAAHHHHH! That was the life!

rawpixel-274857-unsplash.jpg

Obviously I am joking. This was certainly not the life. I struggled with low self esteem, depression and was in a downward spiral of apathy and non productivity. It took me years to recover and I am sometimes still haunted by fears that no matter how hard I work I am not good enough. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 1.58.59 PM.png

But lately I’ve been wondering… how about if I could embody some of these traits like just for a day… ok a half a day… or even an hour! I think of that iconic 80’s movie, Risky Business, where Tom Cruise and that other guy are philosophizing about life and the importance of throwing caution to the wind and the value of learning to say “What the f@#%” .

Then it strikes me that I may need to lean into this message, to soften a little, to heed the wisdom of the film Risky Business. Maybe not crash a Porsche, hire a sex trade worker, have an open house, out of control party and break a Fabergé egg but you know schedule some time for reading and art, take a day off and go to the movies, let something slide knowing that I can recover with ease…

So, this is my newest ambition. I’m not sure if I'll be able to follow through but at least I will make time during the Christmas holidays to sleep in, unwind and watch a little Netflix.

Our Holiday Traditions! And some stories from Christmas Past...

We have a few things that we do each Christmas that we can’t live without! But first let’s take a quick look at Christmas Past

markus-spiske-478275-unsplash.jpg

Since we write and illustrate children’s books it’s imperative that we know the mindset of the child and part of this is being connected to our own inner child. We will each share a few things about Christmas that would light up our hearts.

Bunny:

“I LOVED Christmas as a child! Like LOOOOOOOOOVED it…

…The snow, the music, the tree, tinsel and decorations, presents and crafts at school. We had a plastic brown “organ” that made it’s way from the basement to my bedroom once a year and we used to perform Christmas hymns with our Grandmother, with it. There are hardly any words for the joy this would bring! Christmas specials on TV and spray snow on the mirror! OMG! It was hard to contain myself in those days! Plus I really, really believed in Santa, the elves, the flying reindeer - the works!”

anderson-w-rangel-438308-unsplash.jpg

Dragon:

“I always wanted to catch Santa! I hatched a plan to wake up really early on Christmas morning so that I would be the first to announce, in the most loud and obnoxious voice, to my teenaged brothers that Santa had come. We left cookies on the table, that had to be Oreo’s although my parents strangely allowed me to eat the inside and leave Santa the chocolate outer layer only. This tradition was no longer effective once our family dog Pippin entered our lives lol.

les-anderson-175604-unsplash.jpg

Tree decoration was always left to my Grandmother (Noni) and I. We would carefully unwrap the delicate ornaments from Kleenex and place each one on the tree with great consideration. Now here’s where it gets good. Somehow I figured that if I clustered all the little bell ornaments on the bottom of the tree they would serve as a booby trap so I could catch Santa in the act! To top it all off, my Father would shake the tree periodically to provoke me. I never caught Santa but you’ll find out how I still keep hoping to when you read on!”

This brings us to 2018. We are currently celebrating our 8th Christmas together as Dragon and Bunny and we have established some new traditions as well as kept some from the past.

  • we always decorate our tree together

  • we always drink out of Christmas coffee mugs

  • we always make breakfast and sing Christmas carols for my mum and our dear friend and neighbour on Christmas morning

  • we make our own Christmas cards

  • we still hang a booby trap bell at the bottom of our tree :)

  • we listen to Christmas music in the car (until we can’t take it anymore)

  • we watch Christmas shows that make us nostalgic (Dragon loves National Lampoons Christmas vacation while Bunny loves the original version of The Grinch who Stole Christmas)

What are your Christmas traditions?

Do you share any with us?

Let us know!





Blog #27 Live and Learn - Lessons from Newly Published Authors

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 12.01.31 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 12.01.07 PM 2.PNG

Soooo…. you’re still with us!

Yay! That’s great news! Thanks for that! In fact, this is our 27th blog which means our website and blog are already 27 weeks old!

At this juncture, we wanted to touch base and share some of our learnings just one month into the official release of The Butterfly Trap! We are still learning and leaning into the newness of it all!

Here are a few things we know

  1. Energy, drive and consistency are essential. Every time we think we have climbed a mountain and can coast a little, we realize that there is yet a taller mountain still waiting to be climbed.

  2. This process cost twice as much money as we had budgeted for. We agreed to spend a set amount in the initial stages of publishing and we have easily doubled this projection.

  3. Our friends, family and community have been SOOOO supportive! We have read our book to hundreds of kids and families already and our book is getting rave reviews! But breaking out and getting our book into stores, into the media and the wider community has yet to happen.

    The learning curve has been steep and we will continue to navigate this new territory and share our findings with you as we go!

Thank you for your support, presence and encouragement. We never take any of this for granted and we look forward to bringing you more blogs, videos and content that add value to you and your children’s lives!

Hey! Did you check out the Saturday morning Book Club last week? It’s linked here in case you couldn’t make it! We read our book and sang our song and had the absolute best time! FYI, we are planning on making this a regular thing so stay tuned and let us know what you think! Comments can be left below!

Plus, be sure to read alllll the blogs! There are 26 other after all!!

Oh! And shop now because our Swag Bags, make the best Christmas and Chanukah gifts!

The thrill of reading books Aloud

One of the highlights of teaching is story time. It’s a thrill to hold a book in your hands and bring it to life with your voice, using tone, cadence and timing to captivate the attention of your audience.

Untitled design copy.png

When small children imitate teacher behaviour, it’s often by assuming a seated posture in a chair, with a pointer finger on the book facing away and directed at the students on the floor. It’s hilarious to see them do this! Especially when you hear them imitating your voice and using some of your expressions (including your slightly sarcastic tone) lol

Teachers love to read for many reasons, the benefits of promoting literacy, language and vocabulary building etc but it’s also one of the more calm, soothing and focused activities in the classroom.

Reading aloud also promotes bonding and strengthens group dynamics, encourages creativity, self reflection and discussion and it’s FUN!!!!!

When we read The Butterfly Trap to kids, it is beyond any other. Passing on this story from our imaginations and seeing it come to life and take shape in the imaginations of others is such a special feeling.

Oh! And Guess what! We are reading our book on FB and Instagram Live on Sat. Nov 24th at 10 am EST. So we can bring all of this good fun stuff right to you wherever you are.

We will also do a Q&A

Sing our song inspired by the story …

and more!

We want to share the thrill of reading our book with YOU!

Will you join us?

What Kids are saying... and How our Hearts are Bursting

As we all know, kids don’t lie, sometimes we wish they would. If they don’t like the food, or the clothes or the toy, or the book …

They tell you!

At our Pop Up Shop, on the eve of our launch, one of our first young customers took a copy of the book and asked if she could go off into a corner to read it. She ran away enthusiastically with her little sister in tow to find a quiet reading nook. We were busy meeting and greeting our guests and had forgotten about her departure. When she and her sister returned they had a look of resolve on their faces. Without any fanfare or gratuitous flattery but with a sincere expression in her eyes, she simply declared ….

Untitled design (4).png

“It’s Good”

Our book is being given rave reviews from our little readers!

They have written us notes and cards and given us so many genuine compliments.

For some, the book is a constant companion! Others have memorized the story and they recite it on their own. They sing the song and refer to Luki as a friend.

Now, we are not parents and we have been reminded that there is no love like a parents love and we don’t claim to know this love

… but this feeling…

we have never known this feeling before.

It starts deep in our hearts or is it the belly? Our eyes get all moist and our legs feel like jelly…

IMG_4284.JPG

Knowing that our story is seeping into the hearts of children, is provoking them to reflect and question and identify with Luki's journey…

THIS IS PRICELESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS………

We are grateful for any and all feedback from you and your kids … including photos of you and your kids reading The Butterfly Trap, working in the coloring book, or anything else related to the song, story etc…

Keep ‘em coming!

IMG_5404.JPG

Our favourite thing...

Heyyy Guys! Blogging today about one of our favourite things….

We are having a baby girl!.png




OUR RELATIONSHIP!!!!


So many people have commented about “us”. They tell us we are so cute together and that they enjoy watching our Live videos, our sing alongs and all of our quirky antics!

We have been told that we should have our own kids show and that we should be the new Sharon, Lois and Bram!

13330994_10154257940184267_348855813245462385_n.jpg





This is so sweet and we really appreciate these comments. We’re so glad that our closeness translates to good chemistry but let me tell you how it feels….


when we are in front of an audience and we open our book and read our names on the cover  





That

IS

Pure

JOY






We LOVE to be engaged with kids and families in this way! This is when we feel that we can really shine and share our gifts! This is a mutual passion for us and we make each other better through our collaboration.


The Butterfly Trap is a true collaboration and a reflection of our beautiful life together.

IMG_3782.jpg


We have this amazing relationship where we actually say kind things to each other, we lift each other up, we listen and encourage, we help and support and we laugh! Lord knows we laugh!

And we do this for each other …


EVERY

SINGLE

DAY



And we have never been happier!


Our book has been a labour of pure love. We have poured ourselves into this project completely! We combined our favourite things, storytelling, art and music! When we read it and we look at the little faces staring back at us with a spark of curiosity in their eyes, there is nothing better! We can’t wait to read it to you!






Post Launch Truth Bombs

Well… As we sit here on this Sunday morning with an extra hour on our hands, thank you daylight savings time, we are reflective.

Prepping for the Pop Up Shop meant transforming a large empty space into a cosy shopping venue.

We prepared platters of fruit and veg (in the shape of a butterfly no less)

And miraculously crammed boxes of books, merch, food and helium balloons into our tiny Toyota Yaris and transported everything in one trip! (Kuki truly is a wizard as was documented in our Instagram stories)

IMG_1038 copy.jpg

On Saturday, at our Book Launch,  we received over 100 families and we performed two readings of The Butterfly Trap including the release of our new single inspired by the book, Hooray for Butterflies …..what a thrill for us!!!!

Sometimes, in the hustle of this process, we have lost sight of the long standing dream of publishing. We have to remind ourselves how far we have come. But it became crystal clear when we looked up at you all when we were reading our book for the first time… It was a feeling unlike any other!

If you were with us for this precious moment, we thank you. This was a mountain top experience for us and one we won’t ever forget.  


Final Blog.... Before the launch

…Final Blog before the launch…

WOOT!!

IMG_4660.JPG

This is it people! We will be hosting two events to mark this monumental occasion. Find everything you need to know about what we’re doing and why you need to be a part of it!

Tomorrow, November 2nd, we will finally be together for the first time, mingling, chatting and hanging out at the Pop Up Shop at the St. Philips Church hall (7505 Sherbrooke W) 5 - 7 pm


What to expect at the Pop Up?

UP SHOP (1) copy 2.jpg
  • Celebrate the release of The Butterfly Trap

  • Book Sale

  • Book Signing

  • Light refreshments

  • Our collection of merch will be available on a first come first served basis

  • Hang out and chat with friends


The following morning we will be back at it!

On Saturday, November 3rd, from 10 am - noon we will be at Youth Innovation (1647 Ste. Catherine W.)


What to expect at the Launch

Book Launch.png
  • Celebrate the first ever public LIVE reading of The Butterfly Trap

  • Story time! We will read our book

  • Music! We will sing our song!

  • Face Paint! Christina-Marie will be on the scene painting the best faces in Mtl!

  • Refreshments

  • Giant Butterfly Coloring Pages

  • Book and Merch Sale

  • Book Signing

  • Author Q&A

  • Light refreshments


OMG!! This is actually happening!


We have said it before but it is actually happening….

IMG_6063.JPG


Our living room has been turned into a virtual Santa’s workshop. It actually does feel like Christmas for us! Soooo many packages waiting to go to their new homes. This fills us with promise that our story will…

…delight children and families and teachers

…inspire creativity and imagination

…awaken a deeper love of nature

…reflect on freedom and what it means to really love something


We wonder how The Butterfly Trap will impact you?

We can’t wait for you to let us know!

Love Always, Dragon and Bunny


Confessions of an Almost Published Author

Confessions of an Almost Published Author

What is the point of following your dreams?

So, by next week this time our Pop up shop will be behind us, we will have formally launched our book, The Butterfly Trap. We will have read it to you and sung for you, and introduced you to this new chapter in our lives which is a dream come true…. Right??


As we continue to wade through the final details of making this happen, the dreamy parts aren’t always all that clear. There are lots of preparations for our events and money to spend and sometimes I have stopped and wondered what the hell we are doing this for???

TheButterflyTrap_BB_18-10-04 (2) (dragged).jpg


And then I remember our main character, Luki ….

Her story, the message and the special ways that books capture our hearts and imaginations.

I remember my own dreams of being an author and doodling characters for story books since I was a small child. I was even labelled by my high school History teacher as “the artist” in the least affectionate way.

The truth is I doodled and drew a lot in school, and not just in Art class. Today, people often wonder how I have so much energy and get so much done; but I haven’t always been a high achiever. In fact, as a teenager I had major struggles with motivation, organization and keeping up. High school was a low point for me. I felt like a failure, not only did I not pursue my dreams but I could hardly make it to class. Most days I didn’t. It gets worse, I repeated grade 11 and dropped out of CEGEP.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
— Alice Walker
joshua-hoehne-678625-unsplash.jpg

A lot has changed since I was so adrift. Thankfully a few years later I found the drive to return to school, completed certificates and degrees at CEGEP and university. But in the backdrop of my awareness even today is intimately knowing what failure and disconnect feels like. This is likely why I am so motivated.

  • I want to make a difference in peoples lives

  • I want to inspire positive and affirming beliefs

  • I want my art to have a meaningful impact in the world

Yes I am scared but I know that I am more than my worst fears.

In fact, as a creative, I am aware of the importance of failing as a part of the process. But that doesn’t quell the insecurities.

So, there you have it. Now you know…..

What is the point of following your dreams?

I don’t know, but something tells me there’s more value in trying, than not trying.  

So, that is what we are doing with The Butterfly Trap. We are putting ourselves fully out there and I don’t think we often regret trying stuff in life. It’s a lack of trying that leads us to regret.

Wouldn’t you agree?

The Butterfly Trap ELEVATOR PITCH we give it to you here first

Well….. You have waited long enough! Our book has been listed as a new release on our publishers website… we are about to go live on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and our books will soon be flying off book shelves everywhere.  Since you guys have been with us, waiting patiently and following us on this publishing journey since the beginning, we are giving you our elevator pitch first!

Let’s start with a fun fact… did you know that The Butterfly Trap has been published before?

And did you know that originally she was called Lulu? Well, we have already shared that our character is now called Luki which is a combination of Lee-Ann and Kuki.

IMG_9983.JPG

The Butterfly Trap was first released 15 years ago with the same title but a much more crude version that I wrote and illustrated without the creative direction from my gifted and talented wife, Kuki. I had it scanned, and laid out by a graphic artist, printed and bound at a local printer and was distributing copies in the schools that I worked at, to friends and family etc.

The takeaway here is that the story has already been extensively field tested by children from ages 2-11. Children are the best test market because they are so honest and uninhibited. Their feedback is golden because they have no filter!

And here’s the best news...

joshua-coleman-655076-unsplash.jpg


EVERY TIME we have READ THIS BOOK, in many different contexts, classrooms ages and settings it was met with delight! There was laughter, engagement, reflection and attention. I created this book from my heart for the hearts of children and they connected.

Most importantly though I want you to know that the new and improved version of The Butterfly Trap has surpassed my expectations because it was conceived thanks to Kuki’s vision and creative direction. We also owe a debt of gratitude to our collaboration with our publisher, editors and creative team. Thanks to this, our story has been tweaked, reworked and reborn and is now a more well thought out, consistent and well developed product overall.


So, It’s all happening now friends and we can hardly even believe it….


But we promised you our elevator pitch so that you will be the first to get to know Luki and The Butterfly Trap book so, here it is P.S we memorized it!!


IMG_4905.JPG
The Butterfly Trap is a book about a girl named Luki. Luki is a willful little girl who won’t let anything stop her. Not even her Mother!

She loves butterflies so much that she wants to have one as a pet. But how much is too much? This story is special because we learn why Luki’s dream may or may not be such a good idea.
— Lee-Ann and Kuki


Check out our first ever video debut of our elevator pitch here!

Soon, we will have the privilege of reading the story to you and give you access to our exclusive line of limited edition merch. Over the first weekend of November our hearts will be bursting because this project has so much heart in it, there is so much history and is literally a piece of who we are. Nothing feels better than sharing who you are with authenticity.

Thank you for receiving it.


Yours,

Dragon and Bunny

Pop Up Shop Friday November 2nd

Book Launch Saturday November 3rd

gaelle-marcel-699742-unsplash.jpg

Today we answer YOUR questions! It’s DragonBunny Books Q and A day….

UP SHOP (1) copy 2.jpg


Many people have been asking us questions and we have been listening. So, here we go!

Q. Why are we hosting a Pop up Shop AND a Book Launch / Reading back to back?

Book Launch copy.png

WELLLLL……we decided to host the book launch on Saturday Nov. 3rd at Youth Innovation downtown from 10 am-noon because the space is beautiful and has a great community vibe with a gorgeous library. We knew right away that this venue would be perfect! Our objective for the launch is to host an event for both parents and kids that is conducive to our first live reading of our book, while we offer a few activities for the kids, some snacks and can get access to our exclusive The Butterfly Trap line of merch. When we started talking to people and inviting them to the event, we began thinking about the configuration of the space… (did we mention that it’s a beautiful space and has a great community vibe, natural light, exposed brick walls ...the works! Yes, I know we did but it’s important.)


But here’s the thing … the space for our launch is beautiful but it’s not HUGE!

It accommodates around 100 people comfortably and we really wish to focus on reading and animating the story at the launch, perform some live music and encourage movement and dancing too! Because of course, you all know how much we love to whip out our skills and demo our innate love of delighting, animating and entertaining little humans.

Soooo…… Because we wanted to accommodate you and offer you a more intimate opportunity to  SHOP, we decided to open our POP UP SHOP (Friday, Nov 2nd). A one day only event is dedicated exclusively to selling and signing our book and displaying our exclusive merch all for the very first time!! We selected another location (Mtl West), that is very spacious and accessible

Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 9.45.05 AM.png

Please note that we want you to attend both events as they will each offer something different, (from setting to vibe, space and content) However, We will NOT be reading or animating at the POP UP Shop. This will be more like a meet ‘n greet! If you wish to hear the story being read and / or have kids who would then the Launch on Saturday morning is the best option.


hello-i-m-nik-768435-unsplash.jpg

Q. How are you guys feeling? Are you excited now that you are published authors?

No. We are actually pretty anxious right now. I know that I am personally having a pretty major anxiety flare up tonight and am pretty sure it’s cause of the stress of the book. We still haven’t even held a copy of our book. We have been through rounds of edits and approval and admired oodles of digital files but have we made face to face contact? No… All we are doing is spending more money and time and energy on something that is only theoretical at this point. Is that scary? Yes. Are we feeling insecure? Are doubts creeping in? Absolutely yes. Right now the whole things is kinda surreal. We are in a bit of shock and the learning curve has been steep….

Every spare moment we have we are knee deep in marketing, branding, edits, merchandising, strategizing and planning our next book! Soooo…. Are we excited? Yes! For us to actually get to the other side of this project that was conceived 9 months ago! Isn’t that ironic?

I feel labour pains coming on….