Monday’s are for sharing incredible moms and this week is no exception! We are excited to share Christine Skoutelas from A Morning Grouch and Okemos Public Schools.
Christine is a wife, busy mom to two and an artist who specializes in unique and whimsical art pieces! You can find her painting anything from murals, dressers, tables to her most unique request to date- a silo! She loves to highlight her client’s personality and blend with their personal style.
When Christine isn’t sketching or doodling, she spends her days being amazing at Okemos Public Schools as an Autism specialist. She truly enjoys working with her students as well as learning from them daily!
Learn all about the advice she has for anyone interested in pursuing their dream of becoming an artist, how she manages her mental health struggles and some of her local favorite spots!
Welcome to Greater Lansing Area Moms, Christine!
Hi Christine! Please introduce yourself-
Hello. Thanks for having me here. I love yoga, coffee, naps, and playing cards. I’m a sometimes outgoing introvert. I’m a total nerd and I’m okay with that. I’m married to the love of my life.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m from Okemos originally and I live in Okemos now. I lived in the Detroit area for a few years after college, but then ended up right back where I started 😊
You’re a mom! Please tell us about your children and their ages. What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
I have two daughters, ages 7 and 9. They are very different from each other and I love that.
It took a long time for me to become pregnant – my husband and I worked with infertility specialists for a few years. I am so incredibly grateful to have them in my life. Being a parent is very hard, but I’ve loved every stage of their lives so far and can’t wait to see who they keep becoming.
My favorite part of being a mom is watching my girls experience things for the first time – especially things that wow them. I especially love the magic of the holidays (we’re Elf on the Shelf people) and creating our own family traditions. I also really, really, love the cuddles.
What is your favorite family activity to do in the Greater Lansing area?
We tend to be homebodies so we do a lot of reading, art, outside time and playing around our house. We also have a ton of extended family we hang out with. My kids love all of the local parks – especially Wonch and Patriarch – and enjoy picnicking at different points along the River Trail.
What are a few of your favorite restaurants and shops in Greater Lansing?
As a family we frequent Lou and Harry’s, the Okemos Buddies, and T&D Coney Island quite a bit. I really love going to Ellison in East Lansing with friends.
What is the best piece of advice you have received from another mom? What advice do you have for a new mom?
Trust your gut. Only you know what your kid needs the most.
You’re an artist! Please tell us about the type of artwork you create and how did you become interested in art?
Ever since I was young, I have always been interested in art and have enjoyed creating. During my teenage years I got out of the art habit and didn’t get back into it until after having kids. I’ve returned to what I know makes me happy.
I mostly delve into black line art, acrylic and watercolor painting, mixed media, collage, stamp carving, and art journaling. I am in many ways a beginner. I follow a ton of artists on Instagram and learn so much from them.
You create some amazing artwork! What is your favorite piece you have created? Most unusual request?
My favorite pieces are the ones I create just for me in my bullet journal. I do a lot of black and white floral doodles and mandalas.
They are very meditative. I also love drawing doodle art or stamping hand-carved stamps on brown paper and using that to wrap Christmas presents. There’s something very freeing about making art that is meant to be torn up and thrown into the recycle bin.
A few of my favorite pieces that weren’t created just to throw out are- a tree carving my sister asked me to make for her after seeing something similar hanging on a wall in a restaurant.
These wall murals:
This little lady:
The most unusual request so far has been painting a silo. I was asked if I wanted to paint the silo after painting only one mural. I researched painting silos for about six months before I said yes. I just finished the silo last weekend and it is definitely on my favorite pieces list.
How do you juggle work life while being a wife & mom?
I could not operate without my to-do lists and sticky notes. I am also very lucky to my parents and my in-laws who help us out a lot.
Best advice for someone looking to pursue their dream of being an artist.
Create, create, create. Make a lot of bad art. Connect with other artists. And most importantly, share your work. It’s amazing how many opportunities opened up for me just by me sharing what I do.
You are also an Autism specialist with Okemos Schools, can you tell us more about that-
I work as a resource room teacher so I have a small group of students in each of my class hours and I work 1-1 with them on individual goals. Some of the goals are academic but many of the student goals are related to social communication. All of the students I work with also take general education classes and earn a high school diploma.
I also teach LINKS peer-to-peer class – which is an elective at the high school where students learn about autism and work 1-1 with a peer in the building who is on the spectrum. We also hold social outings outside of the school day for students to attend.
I was the assistant coach for our Unified basketball team in the past and I will be doing so again this year. Unified basketball is through Special Olympics and is a program where general ed and special ed students play together on a team. We play against other schools in the area. It is a beautiful program.
I really enjoy learning from my autistic students and I love what I do.
If a parent is looking for more information about autism, what are some good area resources?
- The Autism Society of Michigan is a great place to start.
- A.S.P.P.I.R.E. is a fantastic local resource for adults on the spectrum.
- Judy Endow’s blog – Ollibean, and her book: Autistically Thriving.
- The Art of Autism site
- following #actuallyautistic on social media.
Now some FUN ones to get to know you a little better☺️
Can’t live without skincare or makeup products- Glytone’s glycolic acid lotion.
Favorite food to indulge on- Chips and salsa!
Favorite place to visit in Michigan- Wilderness State Park in Northern MI and craft breweries.
Favorite date night idea- Trivia night at the bar
Current binge shows- We are currently watching The Flash as a family. I don’t watch a ton of T.V. but I loved The Office, Handmaid’s Tale and Call the Midwife.
Last book you read- American Dirt. Highly recommend.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you- I have significant struggles with depression and have had major depressive disorder for over 25 years. Meds have saved my life.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me time”?
Writing, reading, creating art. And being alone in silence. Happy hour with friends is up there too.
What is one thing you would tell your 20 year old self?
You should probably exercise more.
Last one-Who is your biggest mentor in your life?
My mom and dad are my biggest mentors when it comes to parenting my own kids. For all other life things it would definitely be both of my sisters. I’m lucky to have amazingly smart, strong, and kind family members.
Thank you for inspiring us! Whether it’s getting a pen & paper out to doodle or a journal to start documenting your thoughts! Thank you, Christine♥
Christine has generously offered GLAMom’s a special discount! If you mention this interview you will receive 20% off a custom mural!
How to follow along with Christine and her beautiful artwork!
IG handle- @amorninggrouch
FB name- A Morning Grouch
Website- amorninggrouchcreative.com (art) and amorninggrouch.com (writing)
Linkedin- Christine Skoutelas