March 23, 2015

Time to Create

How do you find time to create? It's a question that I'm asked a lot now that we have three children. And it's a question that I've spent my life asking other Mamas. I just realized recently- mostly while mulling over this post in my head- that the whole time I was asking that question, what I was really asking was not how they find time to create, but "how do you find time to get everything else done, and then create?" Because I've struggled with that feeling, especially since staying at home with kids, that everything else had to be done- the kitchen put away, all the clothes clean, etc.- before I could give myself permission to sit down and create. And the reality is that time never happens. If I wait to get everything else done first then the likelihood of me ever sitting down and creating anything is nonexistent. Life is never going to slow down or move over, so that I have more time to create. That is not how my life works, especially during this season of littles. So when you see projects that I'm creating in this space, I understand that it's easy to think that everything else is done before I'm sitting down to create- but that's not the case at all.

For example, feeling at the end of my rope this week, I realized it had been a couple of weeks since I had gotten a break from our lovely children. And that it would do all of us good, especially me, if Cory was to take them out for an hour so I could catch my breath. Which he graciously agreed to. Now right before they left, Isia, Billy & I had been sorting clothes. And I really had to fight the urge, after they left, to not continue sorting-  knowing that we were getting closer and that the end was in sight. Knowing how nice it would feel to have all the laundry done. But also realizing that, if I spent the whole time sorting laundry, I wasn't going to be any more refreshed when they got back home. While it would be a good use of my time for the house, it would not be a good use of my creative time. So I fought that urge down, walked away from it, then took pictures (of what I was walking away from) so I could share that truth with you.
Creativity in Real Time
Creativity in Real Time

I stepped away, got out my fabrics, and worked on my Dad's quilt which has been lingering in the back of my mind these days. And when everyone arrived back, I felt like I had a lot more rope once again. Which is a good feeling! So please know, when you see projects here, you're not seeing them because everything else got done. They're being created in spite of the household to-do's. Because when I look back on my life, I know these projects are what I'll remember most of my stolen time- not the folded and put away laundry, or the immaculate floors. And they're what I want to share with our kids. While I try to keep up with the house, I want them to remember my creativity best. Because it's not only a large part of who I am, it's a large part of what I want to pass onto them. So I try to make sure my time reflects this, and reveals the truth of who I am- for them, and for myself too.

March 16, 2015

A Spring Thaw

We've made it past the Ides of March, and into the full embrace of Spring. While our lake is still stubbornly holding onto a thin layer of ice, it's getting thinner everyday. The bright green faces of our bulb shoots have burst through the soil, and we have a doe- heavy with child, we think- repeatedly nesting down on the other side of our shed. The time of rebirth is arriving, and it's always a welcome sight. One of Isia's favorite things to talk about right now is the seasons. And she always wants to know what my favorite season is. Which, honestly, tends to change with the season since I really do love them all. But spring, it really is my favorite. I love the heady, deep spring fragrances the best. And I adore its fleetingness. The blooms, the rain, the bright colorful world waking up and rubbing its eyes just happens for a moment- and then it's gone. 

A Spring Thaw
A Spring Thaw
Just like the fog. It was heavy in our woods last week. Blocking out the sun, and causing school delays all around. We've recently studied clouds- to be shared soon, including directions for the sweet cloud book we made- so it was fun to talk to Isia about the stratus cloud that had come to stay. 

A Spring Thaw
Speaking of new beginnings, my first quilt has begun. While I've quilted pillow covers, I've never made a proper quilt. The inspiration for this one is my Dad's shoulders. Ever since his stroke, he has trouble staying warm. I asked him if a quilt for his shoulders would help, and he thought he might. So here I go! It should be a nice size when it's finished, around 16 inches by 48 inches. I am a little nervous, especially about the binding, but I'll just follow my favorite Alice in Wonderland quote:

“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” 
-Lewis Carroll

All the best projects begin & end this way (smile). 

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week! 

March 2, 2015

Tooth Fairy

Everyone warned me that time moves faster after having kids. I understand now, but I'm not sure whether time actually moves faster- or if you just become more aware of it. Because we have these little markers of our days running around, their tiny achievements plotting out our months & years. These achievements are often bittersweet, especially when they mark the end of an era. For example, when your oldest daughter loses her first tooth and you know her little smile will never look the same. 

First tooth
Can you see her excitement? She was also a bit nervous too- because she had accidentally swallowed it while she was eating her pumpkin bread. And how can you give the Tooth Fairy a tooth that you don't have anymore? 

We decided that Isia should write her a note, explaining what had happened, and leave it under her pillow. Isia thought an envelope would work, but I went looking on Pinterest and found this instead. Quick, and easy enough to sew by hand! The only downside was I didn't have any white felt, so I embroidered a tooth instead (or an apple, depending on who you ask- ahem). I was pleased to find this simple chain stitch tutorial, and Isia picked out the light purple. Because aren't most teeth light purple? 

First Tooth for the Tooth Fairy
She made the cord for the bag. We're trying to include more simple handwork into our lives, for "working like Mama" and centering of busy little hands & minds. For this one I started a loop chain, as for crocheting, then she kept pulling loops through & tightening it to make the chain. I can't find a tutorial for what I mean, so perhaps I'll have to make one (wink). We pulled the cord through when she was finished, and tucked her note in at the end of the day to put under her pillow. She then woke up to this! 

First Tooth for the Tooth Fairy
The quarter was glittery when she first woke up, but the magic was soon rubbed off by little fingers. If I had to guess, I would say that the tooth fairy rubbed some balm on it and sprinkled fairy dust over it. The tooth fairy actually sprinkled a little fairy dust everywhere- on the windowsill, on the floor, under Billy's pillow (looking for a tooth?), and under Isia's pillow along with her treasure & note. Isia had great fun gathering it up, sprinkling it on her head, and jumping off the chairs trying to fly. Somehow it wasn't working, perhaps there's another kind of fairy dust for flying?

First Tooth for the Tooth Fairy
Isia's favorite part was the note. She had opened it right away, and brought it to us to read. She doesn't read "adult writing" yet, in her words. Don't you love the Tooth Fairy's stationary? It looks something like this one, those tooth fairies must work with the same suppliers! We were happy to see that the Tooth Fairy didn't mind there wasn't a tooth, and Isia's been happy to make extra sure the rest of her teeth are sparkling for the Tooth Fairy next time. In the meantime I'll be soaking up her little smile- before it inevitably changes again (smile).

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Tooth Fairy


February 18, 2015

Stolen Time

"Traditionally, women have always made their art out of stolen materials and stolen time."
-Elizabeth Gilbert


I read this great article the other day, which discusses how mothers throughout the ages have always made their art in the midst of "stolen time." As Tara Mohr writes, "You see, I thought it was a problem that I was writing in bits of stolen time. I thought that I had to somehow get back to that pre-motherhood existence when not only did I have hours of uninterrupted time to write, but more importantly, I had an alert mind (imagine that!) oriented mostly around writing and the preparation for it - observing the world and listening to the aha moments and emotional currents of my inner life. And (forgive me) I thought my problem was somehow a new one."

You see, I have to confess, before our oldest arrived, I didn't realize how distracting motherhood would really be. Which is exactly why I scheduled a painting show (while I was pregnant) to take place just days before Isia turned four months old. Because all newborns do is sleep- right? She was colicky, and I was wrong- but somehow it still got finished and hung up anyways. How did it get done? By painting when I should have been sleeping, or cooking, or fill-in-the-blank. By having friends come over to hold the baby for an hour here and there. By creating in the midst of stolen time- and throwing in some older works too. Not that I would recommend having a solo painting exhibit with an infant, but I also wouldn't warn completely against it either. Part of my desire in motherhood is to walk through these refining fires of diapers, nighttime feedings, tantrums and cuddles, and still recognize myself on the other side. And for me, this means making time to create. That might mean typing this one-handed while my children run around the room and the baby nurses (ahem), or getting up early/ staying up late- but it needs to happen. 

Sketchbook
What does this have to do with my sketchbook? It has become my baseline lately of whether or not I'm creating. This blog usually has that purpose, and I look forward to that being the case again, but in the meantime I have my portable one-minute-here-and-there sketchbook. Committing myself to at least, in the very least, creating time to scribble something there when I can.

Sketchbook
Those first scribbles just sat on the pages, waiting to become something more. But now I'm finding, weeks into this practice, that the scribbles are coming easier. Melding more easily into the pictures I see in my head. Which is good, because there is a lot floating around my head these days. They don't (usually) get done all at once...


Sketchbook
...some even take days to complete. But in the end, they're there. Little reminders of what's occurring in our journey: a bedtime tale we love right now, a mantra to grow into, an aspiration- or sometimes just something I like.

Sketchbook
Little pieces cut out of stolen time and sewn together, that will someday (I hope) make up a whole sketchbook's worth. Reminding me of the present, giving me strength & inspiration for the days ahead.