May 24, 2017

7 GREAT 100 DAY PROJECTS

One of the cool things that comes with projects shared on Social Media is the sharing/social part of it. Through the hashtag, I have found many projects to follow and had many others reach out to me.  It's fun to have new people/projects show up in my feed.

Here are seven 100 day projects I've been following and loving.  (Read all #the100dayproject related posts here.)

@elisejoy
#100plantsonfabric
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@mariaroseadams
#100daysofminnesotafood
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@bckueser
#100daysofsumi (looks like some other people are also using this hashtag)
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@stephfizercoleman
(she doesn't seem to have a specific hashtag, but is instead using a few different ones - that are also being used by other people)
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@anastasiailcov
#100daysoflearningdutch
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@bessiemaaayyy
#100daysofantoinetteandbess
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@jessicajoy.art.craft
#100daysoffreemotionquilting
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I've learned that I really appreciate people with a pretty consistent and distinct style.  I like to be able to look at a photo in my Instagram feed and immediately know who created it.

49 days to go!

May 18, 2017

A NEW PHASE / FAMILY PHOTOS




This is the last week of our usual, school year routine - with Brian at school and Sam home with us in the mornings, but spending the afternoons at preschool.

We are moving into a new phase in our family.

In my head, I'm calling it "the beginning of the end of the baby and toddler phase."  I think we're actually a ways past that.  Sam hasn't been a toddler for a while. Eli often talks and acts like he is seven, even though he is only three.  Basically, I think we are in between phases, now.  But, I'm sticking with this "beginning of the end" title because I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to these years of all my "babies" spending so much time at home with me.



As always seems to be the case, these years have gone by so slowly and so quickly.  It feels like it has been FOREVER since I worked full time.  (I honestly can't even imagine working a full time schedule and also having three kids.  All you working moms, have me amazed.)  I can hardly remember what it was like to have only one kiddo or to do all of the "mom things" for the first time.  But, it also doesn't seem so long ago that Sam was two and Eli was a baby and now, somehow, they are five and three - with a baby sister toddling behind them.

And yes, I realize this is all sort of melodramatic.  I know Maggie is still a baby for a few more months and will be home with me still for the next several years.  It just feels like a big shift is heading our way and I'm trying to prepare myself.

So, I am more than a little thankful that we recently had our family photos taken in a way that feels like it really captures THIS stage.  This in between stage.



A few weeks ago, we had Misty Prochaska join us for a Saturday morning and she took documentary style photos of our morning.  She did well.  And she was a joy to spend time with.  All photos in this post are hers and she also did a post on her site with more images.

If you happen to be local to Lincoln, I would highly recommend her.  


I'm not committed to this yet (in other words, plans are likely to change), but I am considering using the photos plus some in-depth text to make photo books that document this current stage.  I like the idea of creating a digital book (versus my usual paper and printed photo albums) because I could easily have four copies created - one for Brian and me and one for each of the kids.

I have tried to do Week In The Life albums several times in the last couple years, but have yet to pull one off.  I think these images could be a great jumping off point for adding text about our everyday life that would sort of fill the same role as a Week In The Life album.

Thanks again to Misty.  Like big, big thanks.

May 16, 2017

READING IN 2017


I've heard, repeatedly, how doing the things you enjoyed as a child can make you happier.  Well, if there was one thing I enjoyed as a kid, it was reading.

I let my love of reading slowly dissipate over the last few years.  I never completely stopped reading, but I had turned into a sort of passive reader rather than an active one.  I was no longer seeking out books or making weekly trips to the library.  Basically, I had just decided that I didn't have enough time to be an avid reader and so I wasn't.

Thank goodness for a renewed desire to read, a goal and a plan.

I shifted my mindset and decided I do have enough time to read.   And with that, I was off.  And, oh what a joy it has been  - and is.  When I am between books (finished one and haven't yet started another), I sometimes still have to remind myself that I have time.  But once I get caught up in a story, it's not hard to make reading my choice over surfing the internet or checking Instagram or what have you.

Spending so many hours reading feels luxurious and nurturing.  It makes me feel more like the pre-mom version of myself.  I am learning more and my brain is hopping with new ideas and new stories.  Basically, it's fabulous.

So, let's get down to the details:

My reading goals for 2017 were to read 40 books, read the majority of them in book (not Kindle) form and to work from a book list.   

I have finished 20 books thus far, this year.  (Half way there and now hoping to end with more than 40.)  Three of those 20 were read via the Kindle App on my phone and the rest were book-books.  11 have been from my list.

In the order I read them:
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
*Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen
Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenrider
*The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah
French Milk by Lucy Knisley
*Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
In This House We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo
Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
*The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
*The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
Today Will Be Different by Marie Semple
*A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
100 Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi
*Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
*The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

I have also started (and given up on) seven additional books.

Astonish Me, Hillbilly Elegy, The Fran Lebowitz Reader, Organized Simplicity, Here I Am, Traveling Mercies and Something New.  (And I think there may have been one or two more.)

I read one of these past the halfway point.  The rest, I abandoned within the first 50 or so, pages.  I don't think my abandonment rate is usually quite so high, so I'm not sure what's up.  But, I have really loved some of the books that I finished, so perhaps that makes up for it.  Plus, I am thankful to not be wasting my time with books that don't feel engaging for whatever reason.

Recommendations:

As I've shared before, I really don't care to write summaries or reviews about most things I read.  Still, there are some books that I would happily encourage others to read and others that I would say are not particularly worth reading - a basic "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" type of review, I guess.  So, the starred books above are the ones I would definitely recommend.

Overall, I am just so thrilled to be reading again and don't plan to stop anytime soon.

May 15, 2017

AROUND HERE


Lots of things to say / updates to share today, but...

I have a computer issue that is quickly threatening to (greatly) shorten the length of this post.  There is something up with the left side of my keyboard, so the "caps lock, a, q, z and number one" keys do not work most of the time.  But then, randomly they do.  My computer is a combination laptop and tablet, so I can use the tablet screen keyboard to fill in as needed, but that is a pain in the butt.

I quit wearing my FitBit.  My wrist feels weird without it, but I imagine I will get used to the change soon.  After more than two years of continuous wearing, I found that it was no longer motivating me to move.  This is a pretty drastic shift, as it had been hugely motivating to me for a long time.  In recent weeks and maybe even the last couple months, I would ignore the hourly "buzz," rarely check my progress throughout the day and even occasionally go a few days without syncing with the app on my phone.  So, it's stored away for now.  I'm guessing / hoping that I will be reinvigorated to walk and track my steps sometime in the next few months.  For now, it feels kind of nice to just not think about it and not to feel guilty about not getting steps.

The 100 Day Project (see more in this post) is going strong.  I love my creative time.  I love that I find myself thinking of design ideas or seeking them out throughout my days.  I have noticed, however, that I have to really put some limits on how much I let my mind dwell on the "big idea" of the project.  I pretty easily get sucked into the numbers game - counting how many days are left and wondering how in the world I will come up with that many more designs that fit with my project and that I like.  Going down that track makes my brain kind of freeze up and I start to think it will be impossible.  I'm striving to stick with the one day at a time mindset.

Maggie had her first birthday, last week.  We had a party with our families the weekend before and then had pizza and another cake the night of her birthday.  She really started walking in the last week and I feel like she is suddenly growing up so much - handing me books to read, babbling more, and such.  It is just crazy amazing how much they change in only a year.

My mom and step-dad moved from Washington to Illinois a couple weeks ago.  They already tried the drive out once and got here in a little less than eight hours.  Eight hours (or probably more once we add in stops) seems doable and we have our first visit scheduled for June.  Our kids have only been to "Nana's house" a few times - and those times were all when she lived in Phoenix (a cheap and direct flight).  I have felt guilty, these past couple years that we never made it to Spokane, so I am excited for this change.

I took Sam to Kindergarten Roundup, last week.  He REALLY did not want to go.  I had to carry him most of the way into the school.  He cried and had to be led away by the teachers, when it was time for the kids to go check out their future classrooms and do an activity.  And then he came back smiling and happy and excited.  We also went back to the school in the afternoon to get a tour with some of his preschool classmates and he thoroughly enjoyed himself.  This little story just sums up Sam so well.  Novelty is SO HARD for him.  But, once he's done something once, all is well.

Brian and I did the Lincoln Half Marathon with my sister and her fiance, last weekend.  It was a ton of fun.  As we were doing our longest training walk (11 miles, two weeks pre-race), I told Brian that I didn't really want to do another half marathon in the future.  And then race day came and it was pretty great and I changed my mind.  Funny, how that works.

Brian will be done with school at the end of this week.  Woohoo!  That means it is almost summer time!

Apr 27, 2017

100 DAY PROJECT UPDATE


I am participating in #the100dayproject by completing paper collages and sharing on Instagram using the hashtag #100daysofpaperandpaste.  My first post on this topic can be found here.  

A quarter of the way into this project and I think starting it may very well be the best decision I've made in a while.  

I'm in love.  I love the process.  I love the color and paper play.  I'm ready to embrace the title "artist" again.  In making and taking time to create art again, I feel more like myself.  

This all sounds grand - and it is! - but it isn't coming super easily, either.  Some days, yes.  But many days, there is a real struggle before there is art.  The struggle comes, in part, through the constraints of the project - both real and self imposed. 



I feel constrained by the colors I can find in the resources at my disposal.  In all of the magazines I've perused for color, pink, orange and yellow are hard to come by.  And they are my faves.  I can find little bits, but no full-page swaths of color like are readily available for black, grey and blue.  

I feel constrained by the paper itself.  I have this desire to be expressive with my strokes of color and this feels somewhat impossible with cut out paper.  Perhaps I just haven't thought through this or played around with this enough.  

I feel constrained by the color palette, style and overall "collection" that I've began.  I realize this is silly.  It's my project.  I can take it any direction I please.  Still, I feel pulled to make each piece fit in with the others.  


Related to that, I would love to go through this first set of pieces hanging on my bedroom wall and pull out about 8 of them.  Doing so would make me much happier with the overall look of the collection.  For now, I'm resisting this temptation.  

But all of this struggle gets back to the point of the project, right?  Doing something for 100 days means that there will be days that I produce things I don't like and days that end with true gems.  Doing something for 100 days means learning new things, slowly but surely.  


I am tempted to turn this into a four phase project - each phase consisting of 25 days and creating its own collection.  Doing so would help me to feel like there was room to take things in a new direction - new colors, new shapes, new themes -  while sticking to the same medium.  

Conversely, I am tempted to force myself to push through.  I wonder if doing so would lead to "better" pieces as time passed.  

For now, I'm undecided.  And I have a couple days left to ponder.  So, stay tuned for an update - or just follow along on Instagram to see if number 26 is drastically different from her predecessors.  

Apr 6, 2017

KID TALK - WINTER 2017



Oh, these kiddos.

They are SO funny and say such great things.  Here is a sampling of recent quotes and conversations from our household:

Always interested in tornadoes.
Eli: Does God have to climb up on a ladder to put the tornado up in the clouds?

Playing with Duplo blocks.  
Brian: That's a wall.  
Eli: It's a flag, buddy.  

Eli: Mama, sometimes do we die?  

About roosters.
Sam: Cock a little do!
Eli: Is he cock a do-ing?

Eli: What did God use to make my head?

Eli: Poop keeps stinkin' up our house!

Sam: When I'm 100, you won't hold me anymore.  When I'm 100, I'll be too heavy.  

And another day.
Sam: When I'm 100, I can't go to school.  
Me: What will you do? 
Sam: Stay home and play with you.  

Handing me a bright pink PlayDoh cookie.
Me: Yum! Can I have a bite? 
Sam: Yes...um, it's pretend.  

As I was asking him his birthday interview questions with a lot of "what's your favorite" type questions.
Eli: I don't like everything in this world because everything is too noisy and too hot. 

Eli: Mama, when you were a baby, what tummy were you in?

We've been having a lot of conversations / instruction about things that are appropriate in public and things that are only for private. 
Sam: When I jump off the step on the bus to come home, is that public or private?  

Eli: When Jesus comes, does he drive?

Sam had a headache.
Sam: Is my heart right here (pointing)?  
Me: Yes.  
Sam: Jesus goes up in my head to make it better, then back down to my heart!

Eli: Water makes spicy go away.  

About Sam - in a tattling voice.
Eli: Mama!  He keeps calling me sweetie pie!

We told Sam my mom and step-dad would be moving from Washington to Illinois.  
Sam: They will go down the hill to Oregon and California.  Then they have to go over to Arizona and New Mexico and Texas and Louisiana.  Then up the hill to Arkansas and Missouri and Illinois!  And that is all!  (...except he has some funny pronunciations for some of the states.)

More Sam map talk/pronunciation.
Aquahoma=Oklahoma
No-uh-noy = Illinois
En-dark-tica = Antarctica

Sam: I don't like eggs, but I almost like eggs.  
Me: What does that mean?  
Sam: It means when I grow up, then I will eat eggs.  

Eli: I don't like sausage.  I don't like bacon.  I like candy!  (pause)...but it's not healthy.

The boys were talking about Maggie being born.
Eli: And then she took off her clothes and she was all wet and she comed out! 

I was wearing a black and white striped shirt.
Eli: Mama, you're pretending to be a zebra!

Eli: Maybe we could eat some swordfish and maybe we could eat some fish without a sword.  But the big fish are too big for the oven and the pan and the microwave!

Eli: What are you doing?  
Me: Just resting.  I don't feel very well.  
Eli: Maybe you're going to die. 
Me: I don't think so.  
Eli: But you look pretty old.  

Previous "Kid Talk" posts: Summer 2016, Fall 2016

Mar 28, 2017

100 Days of Paper and Paste


The 100 Day Project by Elle Luna starts again on April 4th.

The official hashtag for the project is #the100dayproject.  Participants are challenged to do something (usually something creative, but really anything goes) for 100 consecutive days and to share on Instagram with both that hashtag and one of their own creation - specific to the project they are completing.  

I attempted this a couple years ago with #100daysofgodtime, but only made it to Day 17.  Errrrr.  That's not very far.

A guest at my house recently complimented the artwork on my walls.  I thanked her and then made my standard reply - "I used to spend a lot of my time doing art before the little people arrived."  This conversation ran through my head again and again in the days that followed.  Something about my answer was just sort of stuck on repeat in my brain.

Eventually, I was able to connect a few meaningful dots.  I thought about the effort I've put into reading this year - both the fact that I've completed 13 books despite feeling like I had "no time to read" and also the way I've felt so much more like "me" in the few months since I've once again been reading religiously.  It took me longer than it probably should have, but I finally figured out that art was another area that I could reclaim.

I can make art one of "my things" again.  I can bring back that part of myself.  I can enjoy it.  I can NURTURE this part of my nature.  There may not be much time, but there is time.  Even if I can only work on it in five minute bursts, I can still work on it.

As you likely have guessed, my hashtag is #100daysofpaperandpaste.  I'm ready to give it a real go.


My plan for the project is this:

  • create 1 "paper and paste" collage each day for 100 days
  • share on Instagram
  • tape to our bedroom wall
And that's it, for now.  I imagine a theme or two might develop over the course of the 100 days - either color or subject matter or both.  And I will likely spend some time thinking about those things in the time between now and the project start date.  But, I'm really just looking forward to doing art again - and to keeping the plan simple.