Posts in Learn

Creativity and Motherhood

April 18th, 2016 Posted by Learn 0 thoughts on “Creativity and Motherhood”

creativity-and-motherhood

So many things seem in conflict with having children.

Working. Marriages. Sleeping. Eating while sitting down. Going anywhere fast. Leaving the house. Getting in a car. Grocery shopping without a scene.

And, apparently, creative work. Like writing.

I’ve read numerous articles recently about creative work and motherhood and all the challenges that presents. And it does present challenges! For instance, I’m writing this, right now, while my two-year-old rolls a plastic dump truck (that makes noise) around the room, ramming it into the walls and up my desk chair and across my back.

Yep. That’s distracting.

There have been so many times I’ve wanted throw my hands up in defeat and scream. This is all unfair! When is it my turn?! I’ll never be able to write and be a mother! I can’t think! I need peace and quiet to think so I can write!

I felt this way for a long time, and it was reinforced with things I read. Mothers trying to have it all and failing! Mothers as the default parent and also failing! Mothers in charge of all things domestic and failing some more! Failing! Failing! Failing!

Well. That’s not very inspiring. Or helpful.

I can only write about myself and my experience. I don’t live in other people’s homes or know anything about other people’s lives. So I cannot speak for anyone but me.

So, for me, I’m changing that narrative.

Sure, I can do creative work and be a mother. No, it won’t always be in the manner I’d prefer. There’s no cabin in the woods for me. But I can make it work. And maybe I don’t need that cabin.

For starters, I created my own colleagues. Colleagues that can meet me where I am with my weird hours and chat via all sorts of ways (Voxer, text message, email, Skype) so we can get our points across.

Second, I let go of needing conditions to be perfect. I write in all those little pockets of time. It might only be five minutes. In the past, I’d view five minutes as not enough time. Now five minutes is all I need to just get started. Just get something out.

I keep lots of notes. I carry around a notebook filled with thoughts and ideas and lists. Any and everything that comes into my head, I write it down. Sometimes I don’t remember why a particular note interested me and sometimes I do. Sometimes I come back to something weeks later, and it all makes sense. Sometimes not.

I use the voice memo on my phone, quickly word vomiting ideas.

It all counts. And I have faith I’ll get it all together. I’ll get there. Word by word. It’s not going to be fast. But it counts.

I’m working on a book. I’ve written 45,000 words. That’s a lot of words. And I didn’t have hours of child care when I wrote it. I also didn’t burn the midnight oil. I just kept those ideas firing and wrote them down every chance I got. It was slow going and frustrating at the start. Frustrating being an understatement. But once those juices started rolling the words flew faster and faster and faster.

I write this in the spirit of encouragement. If writing is in your heart but you have small people hanging on your legs or throwing Legos at your head while you try to write deeply personal prose, fear not my friend.

True, I doubt Thoreau wrote while small children asked for snacks or a baby puked down his back. But, you know what? Instead of looking at these moments as getting in the way, look at these moments as being the way.

I used to view my life as getting in the way of my art. Now I see I had that all backwards. My life gives life to my art. I can see the things my children do and say as 1) frustrating or 2) very interesting and unique way of looking at things. I can view the time I spend doing household chores as 1) irritating or 2) use those mindless task times to ruminate on blog post ideas. I can see the work Dan and I put into our marriage and our family as 1) too hard and taking up too much time or 2) the important shaping of our family narrative.

All of this contributes to my life creatively, if I let it. When I would get frustrated and angry as a kid, my Dad used to say, “it’s all part of the experience.” And I would get so mad! No! That’s not the experience! I want an idyllic experience! With not conflict! And no failure! And only success!

Well, then. What would there be to write about?

On Owning Your Craft

March 24th, 2016 Posted by Learn, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “On Owning Your Craft”

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You know what I never say? Never, ever, say?

I’m a writer.

You know what I’ve been doing long before I started this blog in 2009? What I was doing in college? And in high school? And in elementary school?

Writing.

I started writing my stories (fiction back then, but very closely inspired by my real life) in Lisa Frank notebooks with one of those pens with all the ink options. You know what I mean? It was one pen and you could click down different ink colors. I loved those.

When my family got it’s first computer, and I found out I could type my stories, I’d do that//dos command and open up Word Perfect and type out my stories until my mom or dad kicked me off to do their work.

In 5th grade we learned the structure for the Five Paragraph Essay. We used different colored pens (black, red, green, and blue) to denote the various parts. I became obsessed with this concept. When my teacher said to limit each paragraph to five sentences, I was totally baffled. BUT I HAVE MORE TO SAY!

In high school I discovered the school newspaper where us students, under the patient but liberal direction of our sponsor, created and wrote all content. I wrote news and feature and opinion.

And in college I wrote for The Cavalier Daily, U.Va.’s student newspaper (the administration didn’t touch us with a 10-foot pole, a good idea give that we were 18-21 year olds running the show), and I learned the fine art of desperation writing. Your last source finally called you back, and you’ve got to pound out 75 lines in 30 minutes because your editor has everyone else’s story done, and you’re holding up the front page layout. Density over verbosity was our motto. Ruthlessly I sliced and diced and cut out words to make my piece fit my editor’s space.

After college and feeling at loose ends, I started this blog. And took on various freelance writing opportunities. And I’ve been developing a book.

And I still haven’t called myself a writer.

I feel like a fake.

Why?

Because I’m not a published author? Because I’m not writing online content for Babble? Because you won’t find my byline in Real Simple Magazine?

Back at the Cavalier Daily, after I was a staff writer and senior writer, I became a News Editor. In addition to my editor duties, I also sat at the front desk and I answered our phones.

“Cavalier Daily, News!” I’d say cheerily into the receiver.

“Hi, this is So-And-So from the AP,” a brisk sounding man said. “I need to speak to who is in charge.”

Holding the phone to my ear, I looked around the room. Some of our staffers were actually writing. Others were engaging in our 5271th saltine challenge (how no one ended up choking is beyond me). Yet others were playing Mario Cart. And yet others were in the middle of some sort of argument about the new parfait selection in the Pav.

“Well, that would be me,” I said clearly. “I’m in charge. I’m the editor.”

“How old are you?” said the man from the AP.

“20,” I said. “And I’m the most in charge person here.”

You got to own it. Whatever you do, you got to own it.

Do you paint? Then you’re a painter.

Do you design? Then you’re a designer.

Do you bake? Then you’re a baker.

Do you sew? Then you’re a sewer.

Do you write? Then you’re a writer.

My Latest and Greatest on Mom It Forward

October 2nd, 2014 Posted by DIY, Learn, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “My Latest and Greatest on Mom It Forward”

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Chocolate dipped pretzels

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DIY Halloween cards

Latest DIYs on MomItForward

September 18th, 2014 Posted by DIY, Learn, Paper Crafting, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Latest DIYs on MomItForward”

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DIY Space Ship

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DIY Art Box/Creativity Containers

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Kid’s Art Journal

DIY Crease-less Hair Ties

August 27th, 2014 Posted by DIY, Learn, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “DIY Crease-less Hair Ties”

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The ponytail crimp.  The hair-style enemy of most women.  You just want to put your hair up for a few minutes.  Or maybe just for a short time while you bake or wash dishes.  Just to keep your hair out of our face.

But now you can’t take it out of the ponytail because of the dreaded ponytail crimp.  It’s stuck like that now.

My thick, humidity-controlled hair loves to crease.  So I know that if I decide to pull my hair back, that’s it!  There’s no going back!  This is annoying because even just a temporary ponytail makes my mane forever crimped.

When I started seeing these elastic hair ties spring up, I was intrigued.  It seemed like they probably wouldn’t crease my hair.  Or snag it.  Or damage it.

But I was often disappointed with the color selection – and the price tag.  Why so much?!

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Then I ran across a couple tutorials for making your own.  And I figured that even I could take on this DIY.

I wrote about how I made these hair ties and hair bands over at Mom It Forward this week.  These could not be easier.  I ordered for Hairbow Supplies Etc. and was super happy with the colors and the quality of the elastics.

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I ordered a slew of colors and patterns.  Just ordering 1 yard of the 5/8th inch elastic was perfect for creating one hair tie and one hair band.

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So cute!  I’m in love with these.  Since I like to wear an elastic on my wrist during the day for hair emergencies, I love how cute these look on my arm.  And when I need to tie by hair up for a quick minute, no creasing!

DIY princess crafts, sugar-free granola bars, out door game // Latest posts for Mom It Forward

August 20th, 2014 Posted by DIY, Learn, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “DIY princess crafts, sugar-free granola bars, out door game // Latest posts for Mom It Forward”

Since I was selected to be a contributor for Mom It Forward, I’ve had a blast trying out new projects.  My niche on the site is sort of a hands-on parenting approach to crafts, games, and recipes.  Meaning, getting the kids involved in making stuff!

Kate is at an age where she can wield a paint brush, tape and glue things together, adhere stuff, and mix things together.  We’ve had fun doing these projects together (many of which were her suggestions).

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

DIY princess tutu and handmade wand and embellished headband and flip flops

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DIY outdoor obstacle course

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Homemade sugar-free granola bars

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DIY princess crown

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My next post is something I’m really excited about (it’s hair and beauty related, my favorite!) and a couple holiday things in the works.

DIY hand-dyed scarf

July 30th, 2014 Posted by DIY, Learn, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “DIY hand-dyed scarf”

While I do tend to get flustered when it comes to DIY, one thing I really love to do (and have had a lot of success with) is spray painting.  Man, I love spray painting.  Probably because it doesn’t require so much precision.  Once you get the hang of it, holding the can a good 12 inches away from whatever you’re spraying and keeping your hand in motion rather than settling on one spot, you’re good.

I don’t have anything to spray paint as I don’t have a place to put any spray painted items (We’re building a home and living with my parents during the construction period, so I can’t really do large-scale projects.), but I recently found myself intrigued with fabric dyeing.  It’s kind of like spray paint but with fabric, no?  This appealed to me because, again, not so much precision and not too many steps.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to dye until I ran across this scarf.  I LOVE scarves.  I own approximately 154,841 scarves.  My love for scarves rivals my love for stripes.  (So a striped scarf is basically my kryptonite.)  A striped DIY scarf struck me as complicated.  But dyeing a scarf a single color?  That I could do.

I went to JoAnns and purchased a huge piece of white open-weave cotton fabric (about 45′ x 100′) and a pack of Rit Dye in Pearl Grey.  At home I followed the directions on thee package, filling up plastic bucket with warm water in the sink, adding the dye, and submerging the fabric (use gloves!).  I massaged the dye into the fabric with my hands and then let it sit for several hours.

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After it had sat for probably around 4 hours, I removed it from the dye and rinsed it with cool water.  My intent was to create a deeper, richer grey.  Instead I got a purply-toned grey.  At first I was a little bummed (I realized I should have used two dye packets – that might have created more saturated color.).  But I don’t have any scarves this color (And I already own a deeper grey scarf I love.), so I decided this was a happy accident.

I washed the scarf ALONE in the washing machine on cool and after it was washed, ran it through the dryer on low.

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After it was dry, I didn’t think it was quite done.  I liked the look of the raw edges.  But I worried that they would fray.  So I purchased a matching grey thread and started to roll and stitch the edges.  Since that process would have taken me 100 years, I happily handed it over to my mother-in-law (A much better sewer than myself.), and she stitched it for me.  (Thanks, Maryellen!)

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I know it’s kind of a weird time to be wearing scarves (It’s about 95 out today and 100% humidity.), but that’s never stopped me before!  I like to wear scarves year round.  I get chilly in the house with the AC on, and when I go to the grocery store, it always super chilly.  So I like to toss this scarf in my bag and wrap up in it when I’m cold.  Since it’s light weight, it’s the perfect type of wrap for these conditions.

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The fabric isn’t the softest.  But I think it turned out pretty good for costing a whopping total of $20.

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Have you ever dyed fabric?  Any tips?  I’m thinking of some other stuff I want to dye (It’s addicting!).

Okay, let’s get creative

July 2nd, 2014 Posted by Learn, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Okay, let’s get creative”

I first got into blogging because I discovered scrapbook bloggers.  After Dan and I got married and went on our honeymoon, I had all these photos and momentos I wanted to keep, so I got into scrapbooking.  From there, I discovered Ali Edwards and the world of memory keeping bloggers.

Following some ideas from various blogs, I put together a wedding scrapbook and honeymoon scrapbook.  I painstakingly cut photos and stamped and added embellishments.  But I wasn’t happy with the result.  It looked too messy, too jumbled.

I tried putting together other books, art journals, and mini books through out the years.  But I wasn’t ever happy with them.  They weren’t perfect enough.

Oh, brother.

It’s so fun to be me!  I can turn a craft project into a quest for perfection!

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Around the same time I was attempting to scrapbook, I attempted to be a domesticated wife.  I tried cooking chicken for the first time (Seriously, I had never touched raw chicken until I was 23-years-old.  I confess to this during the podcast with Amy.) and cooked it to rubber every single time.

I couldn’t follow a recipe all that well.  And I couldn’t follow scrapbooking layouts either.

And when I don’t succeed at something RIGHT AWAY, I give up.

I think it’s totally fine to not be crafty or not cook.  No one is the best at everything.  But a big piece of me would like to try my hand at various creative endeavors outside of writing.  It’s like with fitness.  I was a cardio queen for years, to my detriment.  And now I do all sorts of exercises, which has made me fitter, stronger, and happier.

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So, in an attempt to continue breaking free of the strangle hold of perfection, I’ve got some projects to share.  Some creative projects.  Some stuff that – gasp – might not turn out.  I’ll share them anyway.  I’m planning some easy, quick, healthy recipes (Some with no specific recipe – going crazy off the cuff, here!  And some from here.) and some paper crafting ideas (Expanding on those DIY kid’s thank you cards and some ideas from Kal’s brush script class.).

Okay, July, let’s get creative!  Are you working on any creative projects?  I want to hear about it!

Kid’s DIY thank you notes

June 26th, 2014 Posted by DIY, Learn, Paper Crafting, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Kid’s DIY thank you notes”

I’m really into thank you notes.  I write them for birthday gifts, when friends have us over for dinner, when someone does something nice for me.  I’ve been a thank you note writer since I was a little girl, and it’s something that I want to instill in Kate and Michael.  A short and sweet handwritten card is always a good thing.

After Kate’s little birthday party, she received generous gifts from her friends, and we talked about how nice it was for her friends to give her such thoughtful gifts.  And I asked her if she’d like to write some thank you notes.  She was interested, so we popped over to Michael’s Craftstore to pick up some plain white note cards and envelopes.

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She received two different stamp kits for her birthday (She LOVES these.  They are the Melissa and Doug brand, and she was sad that I packed up the one set she had, so when she got these two new sets, she was eager to use them).  So I set her up with colored pencils, markers, and the stamp kit.  Then I reminded her what gift she received, and she helped dictate the note I should write to her friend.  Then I let her go to town stamping and drawing.

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Despite the look on her face in these photos, she enjoyed decorating the cards.  She was particular about what sort of stamps and drawings she wanted on each card (“Da smiley face is for Dosh! Dis crown is for Alaina!”), and it was so cute to watch her decorate and stuff the envelopes.

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This entire activity probably took 20 minutes and B+ effort, but I know it made our friend’s smile when they received the cards.

Project Life // 2014

January 9th, 2014 Posted by Learn, Project Life, Project Life 2014, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Project Life // 2014”

This is my third year with Project Life.  I didn’t finish out 2011 because…hmm…I can’t remember why.  I didn’t finish out 2012 because I was so nauseated with Michael from October through December that the thought of doing anything make my stomach turn.  So both times I got to around week 42 before petering out.

But that’s okay.  That’s B+.

This year I’m doing Project Life once again as part of my intention to document.  And I’m working smarter, not harder.  One thing that was hard for me last year was the weekly updates.  Sometimes I forgot to take more than two pictures and the layout felt…flat.  Other times we had a miserable week, and I just had nothing to report.  So I decided taking a monthly approach would work best.  Some months maybe I have four pages.  Maybe some months I have one spread.  Whatever works.

I’m especially interested in documenting our house process.  We’re in the beginning phases of tearing down our home and rebuilding on our lot.  It will be a process, to be sure.  And I think it will be fun to look back at the transformation.

Here’s a quick snapshot of my plan:

+I’m working with the Seafoam edition, Neutral baby edition, and Midnight edition.

+Monthly spreads.  At the end of each month, I’ll share the spread for the month.

+A mix of Design A page protectors and some from this variety pack.

+I like to use Sharpie fine point pens for my journaling.

+I round all my corners with this Fiskars corner rounder.

+To trim my photos and paper, I use a Purple Cow 2-in-1 trimmer.

+I designed six stamps that I plan to use (and I’m thinking about designing some more…)

So this my title page.  I took those pictures of us using the TimerCam app on my phone.  It was right before dinner.  I’m totally wearing my pajama bottoms.  And they are not perfect.  But they are a photo, of all of us, in January, of 2014.  And that’s good enough for me!

Are you doing Project Life?  Is this your first year?  Are you a Project Life newbie?  Check out my no-sweat guide to Project Life.  If you are doing Project Life (or any other sort of documenting system), share it with me in the comments.

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