Saturday, December 31, 2011

A creative year: 2011

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This year we became four, when we met the most exhausting little beauty with wild eyes. After many months (6 or 7), I felt like I had finally grasped being a mother of two. Two children who are so opposite that I can’t even begin to tell you how, except that I haven’t sleep through the night since 2010 and I have never been needed so very much.  Having both of them here is my favorite and my greatest challenge to date.

And somehow in the midst of this, I remained sane because of art and the great life-giving, calming, energizing power of creativity.  I learned to paint before washing the dishes and write before sweeping the floor.  And by doing this, I found enough strength to carry out the long list of responsibilities with my name on it.  I left the house once a week all by myself.  I wrote my thoughts, my prayers, and dreams in the hours after those children were sound asleep.  I took nap time for myself.   I was unbothered by this idea of having to have everything so perfect, and choose simplicity and peace instead.  Strangely, the year of great exhaustion was also my most creative.

Truthfully, the year was long and often lonely, as good friendships here are few, but I can’t help but notice that this season was more about collecting invaluable lessons within myself and practicing gratitude for the magically, common everyday.  It was about taking long breaths and realizing that the often intense demands of motherhood can be done as an act of worship, and thus the hours of each day can be spent in connection with the one who supplies all our needs and is strong when we are not.  It was about finding contentment on the water’s edge, when there were so many questions about being here and what is next.  It was about scribbling down the tender moments of quiet mornings or sweet goodnight hugs and silly antics.

We chased after a dream and felt it was the right to begin and together used our creativity to work turning, wouldn’t it be great into we’re really doing it.

Nothing ever happens how we think it will,  and really, do we still believe that silly old myth, because past the long hours, the nights spent dreaming of sleep, and the restless within,  I can’t consider the past twelve months without a recognizing a sense of great accomplishment. It may look small and humble, but in a way, it’s been pretty huge.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

it’s art and

It’s a love song. A prayer. An act of worship. A place to meet God. The declaration of a dream. The whisper of my heart. An offering of gratitude. A tribute. An ode.

To the creator, with love.



Inspired by.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

how creativity actually does keep you sane



"I began to notice that when I was able to fit a bit of creating into my day, I was more centered, at peace, and fulfilled.  All those things make me a calmer, more patient, and more mindful parent.  My needs were getting met, and I was therefore able to meet the needs of my children even better. Creativity quickly became an essential requirement."
- Amanda Soule, The Creative Family.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The language I understand

This video. Can not stop watching, the wonder overwhelms me, the magic races through me and I feel as if I need to paint forever until I have captured it all and then instantly, start again.

I want to live there and I want my every morning ritual to be this, to wake up and take in its beauty, to breath in the aroma of pure, fresh air, and to revel in the creator who must dwell in this place, yes, in all places of course, I know this, but here I imagine, He favors and one can always feel Him in the cool mountain air and in the dancing, falling water, and in the jagged rise and fall of the rocks set against the endless blue.

It reminds me of the film Where the Wild Things Are and that one moves me like no other.  How is it that certain things speak to us so?  Like we are foreigners in a strange place, but in a sea of people, we alone speak the same tongue.

Beauty, wonder, mystery, marvel, meaning, awe, art, life, God.  The language I understand.

 

Linking up with Just Write.

Monday, December 19, 2011

the date.

On Friday night he came home from work, a long 60 hour week, the usual kind, and with our daughter in his arms, the one who demands to be there within one second of him walking in the door, he stood in front of me and said, I have a very important question.  Will you go out with me tomorrow night?  I hesitated only because my thought was, what about those two kids that are always hanging around here. I was then informed that he had arranged for my mom to come and watch the kids.  Well, in that case, my answer, absolutely yes.

Then he handed me a dark chocolate sea salt candy bar.

Saturday evening, after another long day of work for him, he walked in the door holding my favorite flowers.  I mean, alright, husband. I’ll go out with you.

And so it happened that a 8 o’clock in the evening, this old couple ventured out the door, hand in hand, child free. How wild of us. This hour usually finds us sitting on the couch, children in bed, drinking tea or hot cocoa, doing wild things like knitting and reading.  Don’t be fooled, we’re not even eighty.

Our top secret destination was this hidden gem of an Italian restaurant not far from Uptown.  We enjoyed toasted ravioli, chicken fontina with this incredible homemade pasta and beautiful mushroom wine sauce, and then tiramisu, my other true love.  And like kings and queens or just wealthy people who have other people care for their children during meals, we ate slowly and tasted every gorgeous bite of uninterrupted flavor.  The luxury of leisurely eating is finer than gold, because even I have to break my own rule of not holding children while I’m eating, on occasion.  I’m serious about that rule, I am.  Because, my children are lovely and amazing, but a hungry mama is not a happy one and a mother who gets to sit in a chair all alone and drink coffee in the afternoon is the key to a pleasant home. I’m also serious about that.

And thus my handsome husband gave me both of those things on this glorious December evening.  Post dinner, we drove through the weaving roads near Lake Calhoun in search of Christmas lights. And we gazed in the open windows, like any decent person would do and decided that most people have bad art on the walls of their grand homes.

This was also the night were my husband willingly tried on an argyle sweater at the store, and I decided that it wasn’t him.   That sweater stayed at the store, making it officially the first time in history that a husband willingly tried on such a sweater and a wife decided against it.  Let the record show, this happened on December 17, 2011.

All this occurred one crazy, perfect night in December, when a boy asked out a girl, who was already his wife.

Friday, December 16, 2011

a Christmas coat

She won’t remember this Christmas or the presents marked with her name, but perhaps, the first one is for the parents anyways.  Because it only takes one breath to instantly forget what life was like before them, before those sparkling eyes and wild squeals.  My son, I melt for him, I simply melt. But this girl, I look at her and I feel crazy alive and slightly terrified at the same time.

Last night her brother was drawing on his chalkboard, at a lovely 10 months old, she watched him, picked up a piece of chalk and started drawing like him.  He began to put the chalk back into the cup, piece by piece and she copied, until they were all gathered.  She’s a doer, my girl.  That’s why I’m a perfect blend of awe and terror on most days.  Anyways, look out world, and by world, I mean, me.

And so, for this wild-eyed wonder on her first Christmas.

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The buttons are from the collection saved by my husband’s grandmother, given to me by my mother-in-law, one of my favorite gifts of all time. Tiny white polka dots on a classic red line the inside.  The pattern is the Abbey Jacket from Shwin and Shwin, modified as found here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

pictures and words

 

I’m kind of all warm and fuzzy inside, because I just finished adding pictures to our 2011 photo book.   It’s pretty amazing, because I’ve never actually finished a photo book. I had all these grand schemes for our wedding album, Hudson’s first year, and so on, but those projects got too in depth and overwhelmed me.  I no longer wanted anything to do with them.

But this time,  I powered through and decided that no words would be allowed, after all don’t pictures already contain thousands?  So, no words and no limited amount of pages.  We’re 80 pages in, folks.  Eighty pages full of tiny moments and big ones too, from this year known as 2011.

The cover alone hold 700 small photos taken on my phone turned in a massive collage. 

And while, I feel rather victorious, I also just relived a year in the life of us. I filled many pages with photos of my newborn baby girl, superfluous amounts to be exact, and nearly as many with my goofy little boy.  I watched the seasons change from winter to spring, and from spring, the sky turned radiantly blue and the water from the lake sparkled in the warm summer air.  The warmth faded into a mosaic of glorious autumn hues and slowly, (thankfully) those colors floated down from the trees leaving bare, spiny trees and a brown earth.  Even today, the rain is erasing any remnants of previous fallen snow, and rain means the temperatures are higher than freezing, glory.  

I clicked and clicked as tiny newborn faces turned into a sitting, crawling, and standing, full of life, wild eyed wonder.  I saw a brother very unsure of this new little creature in his home grow into her favorite playmate and he’s just waiting for the day she will chase him down the hallway as far as she can. I watched a two year old turn three, his imagination soar and his spirit as gentle (and yet, trying) as ever.  I noticed the depth of the reservoirs of a father’s love for his baby girl, with the shiny blue eyes melting him always.  And the way my heart swells when my little boy sinks into my arms. 

As I revisited every walk to the beach, every trip to get ice cream, all the adventures and celebrations, I studied the face of my love, the one who stole my heart.  The guy who I never planned on meeting on that California mountain and now everyday he loves and works so hard for me, for us.  Sometimes, it still catches me off guard, this life, this family we have made, the dreams we are building.  Sometimes, so much so, that I run out of words.

 

Linking up with Heather and all those Just Write folks.

Monday, December 12, 2011

homemade marshmallows

The thing is this, they will change your life.  And I mean that, because you think you like marshmallows, the ones in plastic bags at the store and you think you like them on your hot cocoa, but really, you don’t know.

Because, then you have a homemade marshmallow and you wonder, did I even know what marshmallows were until now?  Nope.

One of my dearest friends and her parents came into town for the weekend and it was amazing.  After a dinner of lasagna and homemade French bread, we stirred milk and three kinds of chocolate on the stove until they melted into perfection.  Then we plopped one of these little guys on top and it slowly formed this creamy, delicious layer of magic. Game changer.

I make them every year, but usually only around Christmas.  They are a perfect gift to give and people will stop and say, I didn’t even know people could make marshmallows.  You don’t forget homemade marshmallows.

Here’s the recipe, enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When you only have a little to give

Last night I dreamed of a land that was dark and gloomy, full of 2,3, and 4 am sighs.  A world where parents never sleep and babies woke up crying.  But, then strangely, that dream never ended and here I am in this foggy, foggy world, spending lots of time with this delicious mug of magical, black goodness.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the snow is kind of assaulting my sleepy eyes with a rude brightness, a kind that only people who slept would enjoy, you know the chipper folks.  Yet, somehow the brightness and the blueness are a comfort on this winter morning, telling me that life and fullness is possible, but only if I squint a little bit. 

The truth is today might be long, really long, but right now I will decide that if I only have so much to give, if I only can do one or two things today, there is no competition.

It’s simple and really, they are the sweeter choice, with their hugs and their great interest in being with mommy. I’m pretty much a celebrity around here.  So, I’ll choose them and nothing else.

Much better  than trying to be a  grumpy do it all monster walking around in a haze.

And I cleaned yesterday and who cares if I didn’t.

And we have nowhere to go.

And projects will get done.

So, really, it’s simple. They win.

We’ll pile blankets on the floor and collect all the pillows, because that is a land where no one can be grumpy. 

And in a way, knowing this and doing this means I win too.

 

It’s Tuesday, er, right?  I’m linking up with Heather and the Just Write gang. You can too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memories collected in stitches: A Christmas stocking tale

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And one stocking knit by mama makes four.  A {10+ hour} labor of love, of following patterns and making up my own. Every year I’ll notice the imperfections and remember the hours I spent counting stitches and how I learned to turn a heel {sounds like a dance move} and decrease for a toe.  We’ll remember my adoration of all things mustard yellow and grey, of bows and buttons.  Maybe, she’ll share those too or maybe not.

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It’s unlike anything else, just like her and adds a crazy splash of bright, glowing spunk to our family lineup, just as she does.  I studied it late last night as I knit the last stitch, and it puzzles me and it delights me.  I’ve come to learn those are the best kind of creations, but something I could never explain. Maybe you understand.

To knit a stocking is something I’ve always wanted to do and I love that the first one is for her, my girl, on her first Christmas.

I see them all together, the ones we bought our first year as husband and wife (I didn’t know how to knit back them), the one I sewed for our boy from an old sweater and scraps, on our first Christmas as parents, and now…

our first as four.

Is that the reason for the timeless activity, do we knit to create a place for our memories to live?

Four stockings.

Do you have a story about your own Christmas stockings? Please tell me.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Calm and Bright

Last December was our first winter in this land of wintry oppression, known to the greater United States of America as Minnesota.  At this time last year, we were already six weeks buried under countless feet of snow. I think six weeks is the perfect length for winter, incase anyone wanted to take note of that this time around, ahem.  I was also supremely large with child, only eight weeks to go, eager and anxious.  The day after Christmas our car died and we were carless for two months.  Matt was still working two jobs (still is) and relying on the bus system, which took extra hours away from us and meant he faced frigid and inhumane temperatures. And our new baby cried for the first four months of her life.  It was a long winter, literally and figuratively.

Today, I look outside my window and only a light dusting of the second snowfall remains cast upon the brown earth. On most days, I feel like I’ve got a handle on this whole two kids gig, at least 85% of the day.  We’ve implemented a system that includes me leaving the house one afternoon a week all by myself.  No errands, no demands, just a few hours of remembering what it was like to sit in a coffee shop at leisure.  My husband gets an afternoon too, because he needs that time just as much as I do.  It’s the best thing we ever done.  Every night, I’m free writing (morning pages as known in The Artist’s Way).  It’s a season of abundant creativity and I’m so thankful.  On a regular basis, I have tea with a friend and the most encouraging and inspiring conversations, while our kids play. We started a small business this year, and we just completed our first custom family Christmas card.  We’re getting to be part of helping friends grow their families.  We’re investing in a dream that no longer seems far away, as we hold a large stack of printed cards in our hand. On the back, our own names where you’d usually find another.  We’re seeing provisions come in the most unexpected ways.  Last night, we stood in the kitchen at a very late, sleepy hour and acknowledged this first major milestone with Furthermore Creative.  And today, when I paid the last bills of the month, I didn’t grimace or sigh.  There was enough.  Because, he is enough.

I’m knitting a stocking for my baby girl, it will be her first Christmas and my first knit stocking. Today, during her nap, we strung popcorn on a thread to hang on the tree. Mostly, my helper ate the popcorn and sipped hot cocoa, heavy on the marshmallows. And tonight, the evening is ours. We’ll tuck our babies into bed at a ridiculously early hour (because it’s already dark and we love them and our time alone) and catch up on our favorite Thursday shows, that we always watch on Friday nights, by the light of the fire and this week, the peaceful glow of that silly little tree in the corner.

I think of the words, “All is calm, all is bright.” and I wonder if the calm is more than a description of the manager scene. Is it also an offering of thanksgiving, a story of peace and contentment, an acknowledgement of love and hope? I think, maybe yes.

All is calm. All is bright.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mixed and Matched and Magical

2011 pt

Woke up the a world frosted in snow, must be December.  It adds a little something to the bare spiny trees.  I love bare spiny trees, but you knew that.  Last night, we bought our Christmas tree, a small one again, because of the baby Godzilla who lives in our home.  A tree skirt would be ripped off in 2.5 seconds.  I daresay she might just try to scale that evergreen if it was on her level. 

We bought the cheapo stand our first year and every year since, that darling man has declared in exasperation how we must get a better tree stand next year.  We never do.  Maybe that’s what he wants for Christmas?  After busting out the drill and some twine, our stand is secured, but I wouldn’t bet my life that it won’t probably fall.  That darling, she’s a force to be reckoned with,  behind those beautiful, sparkly eyes.

It’s small, of course, and maybe a cousin of the Charlie Brown variety, but I love it, imperfect things have a way of sneaking into my heart and creating cozy memories.  Is perfect a  real achievable thing after all? Because a baby was on the floor discovering a strand of white lights for the first time and  we were pulling all the ornaments out of the shoe boxes, remembering all over again.  We listened to Perry Como and Frank Sinatra croon their carols. Hudson cried hysterically that the wooden Santa train, boat, and plane were not toys, but then he got to decide where they went and all was well. He picked them out last year, as our tradition goes of buying a handful of new ornaments every December.  Always remember to write the year on the bottom so that 80 years down the road we’ll know, but I could tell you right now the story behind each one.  The items topped with string, wooden and shiny, a tiny collection built each year, just like our family, our love, and our dreams.

And you better believe there is no pre-determined color scheme, just the one of life.

Mixed and matched and magical.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I wish they knew.

I wore my hounds tooth cape, the one I made. Weaving through the aisles, I came to a full stop at that holiday cookie display. I want to pitch a tent and occupy the cookie display, and in protest, eat all of them.

The checkout line was short on this beautiful grey day, cold, but the kind of cold that feels warm once January comes.  I will say this for my whole life, but how do people stand the winters in Minnesota?  The friendly lady took my basket and then asked what I called that (cape), is it a poncho?  Her friend and check- out counter relief partner came and replied, it’s a cape.  This was followed by,  Where did you get that? 

I softly replied that I made it from an old jacket, hesitantly, because sometimes, when people hear that you can make clothes, they go a bit crazy.  Enter scene.  YOU MADE THAT? WHAT I CAN’T BELIEVE IT. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? NO, WOW. THAT’S AMAZING. IT’S AMAZING HOW PEOPLE CAN MAKE THINGS LIKE THAT. I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE CAN JUST MAKE SUCH NEAT THINGS. I COULD NEVER. I COULD NEVER. 

No, stop. not the never.

Now, being that words of affirmation is one of my major love languages, this would normally send me over the moon, pushing my tank to F, but in this moment, I’m embarrassed, If I shrank down to two inches tall, then I could sneak away, but they went on and on. Are they still putting my items in the bag?  They were so loud and so shocked.  People were starting to overhear the two of them and I just stood there, feigning a smile.  I tried to tell them that all I did was cut off the original sleeves, reshape them, and sew the pieces back together, but they didn’t hear me. 

But most of all, I wanted to scream. I wanted them to take back their I-could-nevers and throw them away over the ledge, never to be needed again.  The amount of shock over a simple jacket refashion broke my heart, here were two beautiful ladies who believed the never, instead of the could. I wish they believed in themselves, in the abilities and potential they possessed.  In the abilities they’ve yet to discover and pursue.  I wish they were the proud owners of a notion that anything is possible. I wish they were dear friends with the truth that each one of us is capable, talented, and unique.  Our gifts come in all sizes.  We all have something great to offer.

Sometimes, it feels lonely to be a person who believes in dreams and possibilities, in a world where too many do not. What ever happened? What went wrong? Were their dreams trampled upon, smashed into oblivion? Did they ever meet a face of encouragement? If I shouted from the rooftops, YOU CAN, would they believe me?

I wish they would, because they can.

you can.

linking up with Just Write

Things and Cyber Monday Sales

 

This is us on Thanksgiving, enjoying sixty degrees in Minnesota on the annual family walk. 

Hello. Hello.  Happy sunny Monday, also known as Cyber Monday in the world of online shopping.  Visit my shop and receive 25% off your order with the coupon code: cybermonday at checkout.  Also visit the husband’s shop and snag 30% off prints today, using code: cybermonday.   (How original.)

Also, we were honored to design a Christmas card for an adoption fundraiser for our dear friends. Please, check it out here.  We’d be so happy to help them raise enough money to bring home their son.

And lastly, I don’t post often on the weekends, but I had some major inspiration and I’d love for you to check out these posts  Creativity and Exhaustion, the ugly battle and how to win and my very first video on The Saturated Palette.

Welcome to the season of gingerbread cookies and candy cane tea!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Creativity & Exhaustion, the ugly battle and how to win.

I close the door as quietly as possible, right after I whisper the last, “Goodnight, I love you.” and I walk into  the small portion of my night when I am no longer needed by people under three feet tall.  I feel  blessed and tired and exhausted and at the same time, ideas have been stirring all day, waiting a for their turn.

Right here, I have a choice.

I could relinquish to the tired/exhaustion combo, fill the kettle for tea and discover a show that I never knew I wanted to watch. Before I know it, the hours have slipped away and I’m ready to meet my dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Pillow. And all I’ve done is drool over diner food and played lame words on Words with Friends.

OR

I go directly to my computer, but still do the tea kettle part and I tap tap on the morning pages document.  I enter today’s date and go. My fingers fly at a speed that speaks nothing of exhaustion. All of a sudden, from my soul, my heart is unleashed and the jumbles get punctuation and transform into complete thoughts, most of the time following the grammatical rules that make my English degree happy. Often, though, not.  These thoughts, now clauses and phrases, they have a place to stay, I’ve built them a little home and no longer do they feel the need to occupy my brain. 

And sometimes, it’s like my fingers know a secret message and they’ve been waiting for me to listen, because the words that come out are now front and center and in my stillness, when I have relinquished control over to the free writing, stream of consciousness act.  I don’t even know what I’m typing, but they appear on the screen and I think, hey yes, I do feel that way, thanks for telling me.  When my hands stop being busy with the beautiful and demanding responsibilities of the day, they are free to bring order to all the things that felt jumbled in my head.  And strangely enough, after the frenzy of the click clack on the keys, my hands know when to stop.  I take a breath. Clarity.  Peace. Stillness.  Want to know something else, I don’t feel so exhausted now and all that’s left is creative energy, roaring to go. 

I could find myself back in front of the TV and believe me, I’m not against it, but in this season of my life, creative time is precious and I feel so much better when I use it well.  I try to watch only the shows I love and instead, pick up a book or sit down with another project.  And there is nothing wrong with collapsing on to the couch in front of HGTV for three hours of House Hunters International, yelling SOLD at the gorgeous villas set in picturesque Italian vineyards, but when you find yourself unsatisfied with your creative output, you have to decide, only you can make it a priority. No one else will free you to be creative, not even your thoughts.

Sometimes, I meet people who find themselves with great creative ambition, but feel too drained to even form a complete sentence.  I wonder if this might help.  I wonder if the act of de-cluttering your head, the way you do your home, would do wonders for your inspiration and creative energy. 

Try it, let me know.  Or if you have any great practices and tips on how you fight off exhaustion, I’d love to hear them, they may encourage others as well.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The one about art and de-cluttering your head.

I’ve been thinking about this painting for a while now.  It appears in my head, in-between moments of diapers and dreaming of sleeping. When that happens, you have one choice, to paint it. It won’t go away.  It sticks to the sides of your brain and holds on tight, screaming, hello, remember me, I’m here.  But, sometimes it just has to rattle along the road, like the cans on a string that people tie to the cars of newlyweds.  And then, you stop, pick up the cans and say, oh yes, hello you.  (we’re not talking about actual cans here, people.)
Enter morning pages/or in this case, evening-after-the-kids-are-in-bed-and-the-tea-is-ready pages.  This painting was extra noisy today, clamoring for my attention, but there was just so much, SO many thoughts. So much nonsense.  Clutter.  It’s hard to paint with a cluttered head.
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron shares the practice of filling three pages of thought first thing in the morning.  It helps clear out the extra, noisy, and nonsense, so that you are free and clear to create.  I used to be rather dedicated to this and let me tell you, it’s so helpful.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person, unleash it all on the paper, hopes, fears, questions, and prayers. Silly thoughts that you start to believe make less sense on paper and they suddenly don’t look as scary as they did floating around you head. Afterwards, you feel calm and uncluttered.  You don’t believe me, try it.  No one is supposed to read them, you’re not even supposed to go back and reread them. Just write it and leave it alone.  Then go live your life.
In my case, I typed rapidly away in the word document until the last noisy little thing rattled its last rattle and then… I painted.  I turned on Explosions in the Sky, one of my favorite bands to create to and during the process, I thought it would be fun to share part of the painting with you, which of course turned into something bigger, you know, the message that always comes forward when I talk about art.
Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

and how we shall not want

The spiny trees are bare save a few renegade brown leaves.  The chilly wind is rattling the world beyond my windows and small things dance to a frenzied, little tune.  On the edge of my desk, the sprawling plant is mixing and mingling with the paint brushes and peacock feathers that fill a glass vase.  It’s chaotic and beautiful. Inspiring and calming. Light filters through curved glass bottles that bounce and reflect light from the thick grey sky.

Fresh fruit fills a wire basket on the table speaking of provisions and how we shall not want.

Baby girl empties a soft basket of toys, near the warmth of the fire, she studies each piece with her hands and mouth. 

Trucks are vrooming in the next room, so I scoop her up for our favorite part of the morning.  Today, she doesn’t sit still as he’s trying to kiss the top of her head.  He looks like a turtle, head bobbling around seeking its target.  She pulls herself up on the bedside table and every time, he is still shocked. He looks at me, his eyes asking, did you see what she did? Maybe, he still remembers us bringing home that little baby who was too young to play. Now she follows him around and watches his every move and tries to eat his cars and can’t wait to greet him in the morning. 

First, I see her grow through my own eyes and then all over again through his.

we shall not want.

linking up with Just Write

Monday, November 21, 2011

one for the memory box: morning hello.

The baby o’non sleeper rises with the early sun.  She doesn’t need sleep, she just needs mama.  Strangely enough, mama needs sleep.  Remember when my first born child started sleeping through the night at 8 freaking.fantastic.weeks old on Christmas Eve?  The greatest gift ever. Hey, 10 months, get your act together. Is this the point in which we start comparing our children?  You know, your brother did this..

Anyways, how odd that two totally different babies would be, you know, different. So, I suppose this is payback for all the sleep I got prior to January 2011.. all those days I thought, whoa being a mom is totally easy. Fact: Everything is easier on a full night sleep.   But lately, us girls get up and drink some tea or coffee, I eat a casual breakfast, read a little or watch the travel channel. I love the travel channel in the morning. She plays contented by the fireplace o’electric .  I don’t mind so much these few hours in the morning. 

A few hours later, the golden child of slumber rises, seriously, like 9:30 or 10am.  Oh, beautiful boy after my own heart.  And I scoop up that little lump of morning lovin’ sugary sweet and we bounce over to his bedroom door.  I turn that wretched doorknob, the one I’m certain will not work one day and he will be stuck in his bedroom forever until we take an axe to it and then own the rental company 1,000,000 dollars.

And she looks around the room as fast as she can, already squealing with all the delight that 19 pounds can hold. She spots him and practically leaps out of my arms. And he’s so amused and responds, hi, pretty baby.

Hands down, one of my favorite parts of the day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I caught myself singing in the morning.

I did. I did.  But you’d never believe it. Me, queen of the un-morning lovers. People who sing in the morning get smoldering scowls for me. People who make noise in the morning, just get a less intense version. Good thing my babies are so cute, they get smiles.   It was 9 AM and not a creature was stirring, besides that fantastic husband of mine who had been slaving away for the man for a few hours already.  That baby girl, hater of sleep, she found her way back to the hushed rise and fall of slumber.  My son, three going on teenager got all of my expert sleeping genetics and will happily sleep for another 45 minutes.  I beam with pride.

For a moment, I thought, hmm, more sleep. But in an instant, I sprang to my feet, as silently as possible to not wake the sleeping babe in the room. I slipped into my fuzzy moccasins, the ones I bought to ward off the inevitable doom of winter’s cold feet and I grabbed my husband’s robe.  Why are those always better than the three we own ourselves?

As I did a silent victory dance for having walked the dangerous  dead man’s bluff-creaking planks of the space in front of the bedroom door and heard not a sound from the light sleeper of the century.

And that’s when I heard it, escape from the salivating corners of my mouth.

Good morning. Good morning. You slept the whole night through (this part is not applicable). Good morning. Good morning to you.

I almost reprimanded myself, but not today.  Not on this special day.  Not on this glorious morning full of radiant light and jubilation.

So I sang it again, and you can’t stop me.  Then, I opened my first bag of Christmas blend coffee and the aroma carried me away to a magical land.

Welcome back, my love.  The holiday season begins now.

A few notes:

  1. I write a version of this post every single year. Yes, I do. It’s my favorite coffee in all the land.
  2. This is not endorsed by Starbucks, but, shouldn’t it be? I mean, really? I will accept compensation in more coffee.
  3. My children woke up in the time I sat down to write this, but I don’t hear any crying, so I shall steal a few more sips.
  4. I hope they remember there is no crying on Christmas blend day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Small victories

An overwhelming sense of simplicity is weaving itself through my thoughts, in the way I knit this yarn over and under, over and under. . A freeing stillness beckons me beyond the noisy, swirling world.  I left there and the only thought was how I was supposed to want all of that, but I didn’t.  I’m still soaking in just how huge that really is.

We’re in the growing years, where our furniture is second hand, where sometimes we have rice and beans for dinner, and burgers, fries, and milkshakes are a real treat.   A conversation over steamy coffee with a friend as our emotional three years play happily and then cry. Repeat. Words intermittent between babies in need.   And then, one utters, “As if there is something wrong with that?  It’s food, it’s filling, it’s sustaining.  The problem is that it is humble.  There’s nothing wrong with humble.  What are we trying to prove?”

And you have to pause and ask yourself, what are we trying to prove?

We feel lost in a sea of voices that says humble is not okay.  Faster, faster, faster, more, more, more.  We swim upstream against the seductive currents of busy.  We struggle and strive this internal battle but we wear the uniform on the inside, so no one knows.

And then one day, you drive away and you’re supposed to want all of that, but you don’t. You don’t. Not even a little bit.

Slowly, you realize the victory, when overwhelming joy is found in…

Sharing a hot cocoa, heavy on the marshmallows with your little boy.

Melting into the thrift store love seat, wearing a slip cover one size too big.

Sitting in a friend’s kitchen,  as two three year olds both want the same snake and two babies seek the comfort of their mama’s arms… and you share a French press and say, motherhood isn’t something to just get through.   There’s beauty and challenges and meaning and purpose and truth waiting to be found.

It’s full, this life.

linking up with Just Write.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shop Update

Tree Series Note Cards Gift Set

While we are slowly working on growing our collection of cards for our Furthermore Creative line, we are now able to turn some of our favorite prints into note cards too.  This is something I envisioned years ago and it’s finally happening.  It’s been amazing to see the results of ideas that have been simmering for quite a while now. 

Tree Series Note Cards Gift Set

My newest note card gift set features the three prints from the Tree Series, which are some of my all-time favorites.  It includes Silent Song, Dancing Blossoms, and Yellow Blooms. They are blank inside, because you don’t need my words, when you have your own and measure 5x7 inches.

Find them here.

Patchwork Collage  Note Card Gift Set

This set joins my newest designs, the Patchwork Collage note cards. Have you seen them yet?  Wouldn’t they be the perfect treat for a long distance friend? 

 

This week is jam packed with projects, finishing touches on designs for a fundraiser, knitting scarves, a top secret Christmas gift, an alternation, and sending out my packages for the Holiday gift swap!  What are your creative goals for this week?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Silent Night at the Opera

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Last night, I crossed off an item on the ole’ bucket list.  Attend the opera.  I was terribly excited, but so unsure of what to really expect.  After all, the first thing that came to my mind was emotional women in enormous dresses being dramatically in love, and not the smooth sailing, blissful kind either.  This was entirely different.

I had the privilege of being in the first audience of the Minnesota Opera’s world premiere of Silent Night.  It was the first commission by the Minnesota Opera New Works Initiative.  Before walking a few short blocks down the charming sidewalks of St. Paul to the Ordway theatre, we enjoyed sushi and drinks at Sakura, where we were introduced to the composer, Kevin Puts (writer of music) and librettist, Mark Campbell (writer of the words).  The passion beamed forth as they shared their vision and excitement for this project.  As an  artist, witnessing other artists talk about creating things they love is a powerful experience. 

Silent Night is based on Joyeux Noel, the 2005 French film that depicts the true story of Christmas Eve of 1914, when the French, German, and Scottish soldiers call a truce and celebrate the holiday together.  The film is beautiful and moving, definitely something to see this holiday season.

But, the opera, transformed this story in a way I couldn’t imagine. Upon entering the regal theatre donned in rich crimson and gold, the stage transports you directly into the story.  The monotone piles of rocks, ravaged battlefields,  and the crumbling fortresses turned trenches all set against spiny shadows of trees, heavy with death and ominous clouds dripping hostility. 

And from this tragically beautiful stage came music that was so rich with emotion and energy.  I felt homesick with the soldiers as they bravely carried on and missed their families.  I felt the loss as they mourned the death of their friends.  I felt the tension between the armies as they fought in the name of their homeland.  When the first brave man climbed out of the trenches bearing a Christmas tree and surrender flag, in the hopes of peace, I was sure that something terrible would happen.  I suppose that is the power of the music, doing just what it was intended to do, the power of this art form, telling a story through notes on scale.  The transformation of enemies becoming fellows was so remarkable, as they found kindred spirits in the most unlikely of places.

It was enchanting.

During the second act, the composer sat just three seats down from us.  As the last notes poured out over the seats, he sat forward, with his fists clenched tight, frozen.  And when they melted into silence, he dropped his head and exhaled with everything in him as the curtain cascaded down on his very first opera.  I am certain, it was a moment he will never forget.  I won’t either.

Find dates and ticket information here.  Watch this video.

Photo: Michael Daniel

Monday, November 7, 2011

one for the memory box

I walk him to his room, where he will nap, but more like play almost not so quietly in his room for a while during the middle of the day.  He won’t sleep, but still says, “Good night, love you,” which sounds like “gah nite lav you.” and blows me a kiss. I could breath off those sweet puckers. And he’ll greet me when I turn the door knob with a “Good Morning,” at 3pm. I love every silly thing about him.

I respond the same way. He turns around to face me and says, “oh no, wait, hug?” He collides into my legs with his arms held high. I pick him up and he wraps his long, thin arms around me and pats my back, he’s done that since he was a tiny little babe. When he grows out of it, I’ll wither away, I suppose.  He plants a kiss on my cheek and climbs down to play with his train track, but first he closes the door as I walk out.

I stand on the other side of the door, melting.

Little boys are mama’s heart melting machines.

Linking up with Just Write

a tasty bit of grace

The day had been a  long one, heavy in the waiting and trusting, noisy in the kid department.  The kind where your energy drains faster because you are holding on to promises with all your might.

Lots of long stares into the cupboards, mostly bare, but not completely.  Lots of turned up ugly faces at the can goods and other random items, I guess to let them know how much you wish they were deep dish meat covered, cheesy pizzas instead.  Living within ones means can be a challenge and a battle of self-control at times. 

Oatmeal for dinner.

And we all sit around the table, reluctantly eating this gourmet meal, husband and I exchanging hopeful glances that could fill novels.  The baby foodie is grabbing at my bowl, as I’m breaking my rule of not holding kids while I eat.  The little boy is snacking on raisins.  Wooden Misters Elemant (Elephant) and Lion King (Lion) are walking across the table towards me.  Clip clop. Clip Clop.

“Hi Mama, Hi.  Hi Lion King. Hi Elemant. Bye.”

They march across the table in the opposite direction.

“Hi Daddy, Hi.  Hi Lion King. Hi Elemant.  Bye.”

A smile wipes across the daddy’s face.  A sparkle glows in the little boys eyes.

They march back across the table.

“Hi Mama, Hi. ”

And before he can get the rest out, my eyes catch the daddy’s and we laugh, the kind of laugh that melts away heaviness. A joyful batch of tears well up in my eyes. The sparkle grows brighter and he laughs too. Baby girl squeals. 

This is the most delicious part of the meal.

“Someday we’ll miss this” he said.  “Miss what?” I ask and he answers,  “being broke.”  (I don’t know if we will, but I wrote it down just in case.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

DIY Christmas Inspiration

Last night, after a doozy of a day, I made a fire with the flip of a switch, drank steaming tea, and paged through the new Anthropologie catalogue.  Basically, beauty things euphoria and inspiration galore. And you know what I said, well, what every crafty person does, I can make that.

Here are a few things that especially caught my eye.

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Now, this is Christmas d├ęcor that needs to be in my house. Find it here. I probably have everything I need on hand. Tutorial coming soon.

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Again, sailboats, book pages, scraps of fabric, string, tiny dowels, a touch of paint.  I adore this ornament and I don’t say that about many.  I’ll let you know how it goes. Find it here.

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Jars turned  pretty snow globes.  This will be happening. Tutorial here. Or you can buy them at Anthropoligie.

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How pretty would these Christmas jars look on the mantle?  (Not from Anthro, but still amazing.)

Do you have any Christmas projects on your mind?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

12 scenes at the pediatrician’s office.

Oh man, I wish I could take my kids to the doctor everyday. I mean, that is fun for all, something everyone can enjoy.  It’s better than a vacation. 

1. Check-in: Hey, fill out this form while you attempt to entertain your kids in this tiny closet of a room. 

2. The form: Hey, there free-spirit kind of parent, please put your pride and joy in a box and check off items on this list.  No pressure, but here’s what all the other “normal” kids are doing at his age. No, no, we’re not trying to say you are a bad parent if your kid can’t draw a circle, speak four languages, and recite all the digits of pi back to you, while standing on his head. And please, try to assess all these items, while all they want to do is push a truck around the floor and say, vroom vroom.

3. The wait:  It’s always a mystery how long you’ll sit there, while everyone who came in after you goes in first, not the good kind of mystery either.

4. The summon:  By the time, your kids are nice and antsy. Your name is called.  You will then proceed down a long hallway with lots of open doors that your child wants to run in and explore, but never the designated room.

5. The interrogation:  Have you housed any dangerous strangers since your last visit? Did everyone start smoking in the last three months? Is your native tongue the same since I met you in the waiting room? And did your kids ride in car seats on the way here today or did they roll around on the dashboard? I give the same answers to the same questions that I have been asked every month of their lives. Next time, I’ll ask the questions.

6. The check up: A friendly nurse tries to get your kids to stand on a scale and measure their height, which of course, said child doesn’t want to do.  So, you have to do the weigh you, then weigh the both of you trick.  Let it be known I was wearing boots and a thick sweater!

7. The check-up Part 2:  A new face walks in, a new doctor, because your other doctor is apparently booked until 2013, quite the celebrity that one.  Where they assess your pride and joy based on the shove’em in a box forms that you had to fill out earlier.  They proceed to try and stick things in their eyes and shine lights in their eyes, you know, things that are awkward, especially when they are sitting on strange table with hard, crinkly paper, in a freezing cold, foreign room, in a diaper no less. 

8. The Shots: Good gracious, saints alive, help. (And half the people, including my mother, gasp.)  Next, you will be forced to hold down your sweet baby on the previously mentioned, strange table, while someone pokes them with needles.  And every fiber of your nurturing, loving, parent-self is screaming inside along with them as you look into their pleading eyes, welling up in agony.  I wonder if I deserve part of the nurse’s pay for aiding and abetting this torture? I mean, at least enough to buy a latte afterwards.

9. Damage control:  Your victim baby doesn’t want you to set her down after that, but it’s only socially acceptable for children to wear clothes out of the doctor’s office, especially when it’s 35 degrees. Your toddler doesn’t seem to think today is a good one to gracefully part with the toys.  So he screams.  She cries.  A nurse wants to give them a sticker, which will naturally end up on your sock by the time you get home. And you think, please don’t reward my children for their bad behavior with prizes, you know, we sort of teach the opposite at our house.  I get it, a screaming baby leaving the doctor isn’t reassuring to the ones in the waiting room. So, sticker in hand, that doesn’t actually stop the crying and you try to navigate the maze to the lobby, where approximately 17 nurses will stop and want to gaze upon the radiance of your darlings.  And you really should stop and schedule your next appointment so that you can make the cut this century, but your car can’t be in front of you soon enough.  BUT WAIT. The one day you see a friend in the waiting room, a nice little chat might be nice.  No, not today. Bye friends.  There’s more.

10. The lab: Where in between the high frequencies of your high-pitched children, you check in and sit in a room, filled with elderly people. (Good thing they can’t hear so well, right?)  And toddler is still lamenting the the toy that was never his and sad, sleepy baby only wants a mama’s arms, but fit throwing, body flailing offspring #1 fills the three floors of the clinic with his protests.  You then must hold him tightly in your arms for the next 20 minutes until someone comes and says, hey, here’s a form!  And tears well up in your eyes, dripping, and how do you suggest I fill that out? And an angel lady comes and fills it out for you and tries to comfort you with something about all the other kids that have done this and how it’s okay, you’re doing fine.  And you think, well no other kids are doing it right now.  So, you take your turn in making everyone else’s kids look like cherubs for the day. Everywhere people are looking at you, then whispering to their neighbors, some cast reassuring smiles.  And then, sweet old ladies walk up to the stroller of insanity and say, “what precious darlings.”  Umm, really? Yes ma'am, hearing/vision check is up the stairs, to the right. 

When you’ve aged 30 years and the brick and mortar of the clinic is crumbling around you and your name is called, you get the technician who asks the other 10 questions, because they aren’t sure what this test is.  They give your offspring #1 a toy that will be taken back in 10 minutes (No, not again.)  And then force you to hold your little darling, sad, sleepy baby in your arms, as they poke her finger, stare in her face, and watch her beautiful blood drip into a miniscule tube that apparently, is bottomless.  Hey, did I mention, how much she loves strangers… in her face? 

11. The escape: Two and a half hours later, you walk faster than the speed of light to your vehicle, ignoring the murmurs of, “ooh, someone is not a happy camper,” and strap toddler the screaming one into his car seat, a little less nicely than normal and you take out a bit of aggression on the double stroller that doesn’t want to fit in the trunk and you collapse into your seat, muttering beautiful poetry .

12. Relief: Home.  Tuck sad, sleepy baby into her bed, although you just want to hold her.  And heat up coffee from earlier, which you never do, but it must be done. Sink into the couch, where your all of a sudden, kind, beautiful, tender, sweet little boy has returned and wants to pat your back and kiss your cheek. And you text your good friend a brief retelling of these events, because she understands and that helps.

 

Anyways, the above are just 12 scenes that may or may not happen at any given check up.  I wouldn’t know.  Nothing like this has ever happened to me. This not a true story.

 

Please note:  Doctors and nurses are great people and are not the truly horrible human beings that I may have depicted in my purely fictitious, frazzled-mama accounts. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

on a Wednesday

Today I sat in an oversized chair, drinking my gingerbread latte in a red cup. I tried to read Anne of Avonlea, but the words felt jumbled by the dozen conversations around me.  Sales pitches, plans for BMW commercials, and the elderly couple talking about how difficult it was to find the kind of socks they like at Wal-mart now, because there were too many choices.  I wasn’t feeling it.

I buttoned my red coat, tucked my kindle under my arm, and walked out.  An hour and a half was all mine.  I was beckoned by a particular wooden bench settled just down the way on the docks. A coveted spot on a warm summer night, but today, it was reserved just for me. The rest of the locals were tucked inside the shops and eateries, avoiding the chill.  And in the quiet, I sat on the edge and let my boot clad legs dangle over the water. 

I stopped and noticed. 

  Drooping branches hanging over the water, creating rippled, spiny shadows.

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The sun peering through the murky layer of grey clouds, brightening the last color bursts of fall on a hill across the way.  Renegade sea gulls circling the surface, swooping down and claiming dinner.  A pair of ducks lurking near the shore, telling jokes and doing headstands.

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The intricate etchings and shadows of the wood.

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One particular yard with an abundance of trees, donned in greens, yellows, and even yellow-greens, Melancholy willows and prestigious oaks, and spunky, spiny, thin ones with their eager branches reaching for the sky.

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A sailing club down the bay, practicing their curtsies, bending, and bowing in the cold November wind.

 

And I read,

Above the noise of selfish strife

We hear thy voice, O Son of Man.

-AW Tozer

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

morning

She’s awake and has no intentions of returning to sleep.  First priority, another go at that whole pulling herself up to stand in her bed next to mine, since she was so good at it yesterday..  Success wipes across her face and is heard in her squeals.  I pull the covers close to my face and foolishly deny that all of a sudden, she’ll want to sleep again.  Who am I kidding, that has never been her thing.  She must take after her father in the department of light sleepers.

So, it’s brie and pumpkin butter on Ezekiel bread with a cup of spicy chai.

I’ve heard tales of this mystical morning time, when most of the world is slowly rousing from its sleep and others intentionally claim these few hours in the name of peace, progress, and uninterrupted thought.  But, as soon as the idea creeps into my mind, I remember how I haven’t sleep through the night since 2010 and I can’t even remember how long ago that was. 

Still, I want to be that person. I really do. 

Last night I wrote and when I entered the last bit of punctuation, a strange and beautiful thought crossed my mind. This is part of my book. It was involuntary.  It was shocking.  It was amazing.

And this morning, the fireplace is humming and warming my toes and this tea is seducing me with its lovely aroma and the blue is sweeping across the grey sky as the sun returns to keep guard of the day.

Magic? Perhaps?

linking up with just write.

Monday, October 31, 2011

An evening with Anne and a cup of peppermint tea.

I took a few weeks off from reading after I consumed the last words of Jane Eyre and then let breath enter my body again.  It was a game changer, that book.  I feel like I need to apologize to those Bronte sisters for ignoring them for so many years.  They don’t get the recognition they deserve, maybe that’s why they were so dark and twisty.
Although, I don’t think I’d be friends with Jane Eyre, she’s so serious and ruled by reason.  I’d roll my eyes at her a lot.  But, Anne Shirley, now we could be the most darling friends, of this I’m sure. 
And this is why.
“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. I don’t exactly want to make  people KNOW more… though I know that IS the noblest ambition… but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”  “I think you’re fulfilling that ambition every day,” said Gilbert admiringly.
Me too, Anne.  Thanks for getting me. 
And that is when I put my Kindle down and took a sip of tea.  I might have to put that on a giant canvas.

A small crafting discovery: felt and the hole punch

Good morning.  Coffee sure is delicious, huh?  How do you take yours?  My vote goes to a steaming cup of strong, black goodness or on occasion swirled with half and half.  Never sugar. Not for me.

Anyways, this morning I have a clever little discovery for you.  Maybe everyone in the world knew this already, but I didn’t.  It is a perfect trick for decorating your holiday packages. 

Use your paper hole punch to puncture felt cut outs and add them to your gifts and projects.IMG_1554

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I used it here to add a little something to my packaging for my paper collage postcards.  It would also be a fun project to have kids decorate felt Christmas ornaments.

Speaking of holiday packages, I’m participating in the Freshly Picked handmade holiday gift swap.  It’s going to be so fun.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

this place

Whenever I feel a little soul scattered and restless.  Whenever I start with the questions that I can’t answer.  Whenever things look blurry in a life sort of way.  When it’s been too long since I met the salty spray of the sea and I wonder why we live here and I miss my friends.   This place helps.

The summer crowds are gone.  Only an occasional boat is stationed in the marina.  The boardwalk is empty.  The crisp wind chills the air and paints our noses a rosy shade.   The stroller wheels meet the dock with a rickety-rackety sound.  The water coos a soft lullaby against the rocks.  The sky is donned in wispy grey clouds and relaxed sunshine.

I see art in the beautiful imperfection of the weathered paint.  I look up at the endless sky and feel small in a good way.  I whisper, thanks for always being here, to the one who spoke and all was. 

There will still be questions and restless blurry days.  And yet, while we are here, for however long that might be…

this place helps.