For the entire month of October, my two kids have been working on an assignment called the Pumpkin Project. It required reading a book, completing a series of worksheets on the characters, and then transforming a plastic pumpkin to look like the protagonist.  First, though, the assignment called for creating a planning calendar that showed the various steps of the project: choosing and acquiring the book; reading and writing about it; making a shopping list of art supplies; and finally, decorating the pumpkin.

In my estimation, this planning calendar was the most educational part of the project. It forced the kiddos to think through the steps and commit the time. The points on the calendar became milestone markers to track success. It gave them a reason to read after school – they couldn’t do the decorating til they finished the book. It gave us all a reason to wake up Saturday morning: today’s the day to shop for paint. Tomorrow’s the day to attach Ranger’s ears. Pumpkin Project 

As overwhelming as the Pumpkin Project looked when it first emerged from their backpacks in a big fat stapled folder, even I admitted that seeing the steps on the calendar meant that we could manage it as a family and by the time Halloween arrived, they were both ready and eager to make their pumpkin creations.  

The Pumpkin Project was a great reminder to me of the importance of planning (yes, I realize I was not the intended student, but I’m a proud lifelong learner).  Not only did planning make the project manageable, but also, as Gretchen Rubin notes in her book The Happiness Project, anticipation actually builds enjoyment of the event itself. And as we once again slide head-first into the holiday season, I am excited that ArtsWave has a new service that can help all of us get a better handle on our busy schedules and enjoy planning to have fun. is ArtsWave’s new online arts calendar that allows you to search for activities and events and add them directly to your own personal calendars.  You can bookmark events that you are interested in knowing more about, and even easily email the info to other friends and family members. provides details about hundreds of events throughout Greater Cincinnati, from dozens of arts and cultural organizations.  It even has a way to help you plan and ensure great holiday memories through the arts with specially-themed itineraries.  Starting next week, you’ll find curated lists of classic  and contemporary arts events on to help you make the season bright from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s Eve.  Follow #HolidayArts for highlights and share with us your photos of enjoying the region’s holiday festivities.  Let's dive head-first into the season and discover new ways to celebrate!