Friday, May 20, 2011


Found: Art

My daughter made this colorful plastic disc from a crafting kit awhile ago, one where you make a design out of plastic beads and then melt them in an oven. I recently found it in my spring decorating box and realized I had to find a place for it. I've been longing to paint the kitchen, wanting more color but lacking the time for such endeavors at the moment. Not only does this provide me with the color I long for, but it makes my daughter happy every time we come in the door.


Found: Time

Busy. This is our theme word right now, as it is with so many people. Good busy. But it can get exhausting as I've learned from past years. So I've tried to offset the manic feel to the spring by carving out moments. So far, so good. Since this is the day and age of carrying your phone with you everywhere and most phones have a camera attached, I've even documented some such moments...

Dates with my son at the bookstore when my daughter is at dance class.
Comics, cookie and cocoa - The happiness trifecta.

Sometimes we go to the beach instead. Not to swim yet!! Nope. Too cold for our thin blood. Sometimes we walk and sometimes we just gaze at the lake and talk. Sometimes both.

Me time. This is an odd photo, huh? It is taken behind the one way glass in the viewing room at the kids' gymnastics gym. That is my son getting spotted on his handstands, btw. I'm at this gym for three hours straight, but at least it is only one day a week.

I've learned to bring books and am actually catching up on some reading, even if I do spend every other second watching my kids tumble through half closed eyes and clenched fists. I must have been a clumsy gymnast in my youth because every time they learn a new trick I have about ten different memories of me getting hurt doing said trick. Luckily, for their heads and my heart, they seem to take after their father in the coordination area.


Found: New Love - Morning!

I've spent my whole life happily greeting 2am like an old friend. Part of the fun of adulthood is being 'allowed' to stay up all night reading if I want to. However, the side effects of such nocturnal habits are never pretty. Literally and figuratively. This year I have so many goals for myself, my family and our business, that if I want time for it all I had to carve it out of more productive hours. Oh, late nights are fine, but they are more suited to reading or mindlessly surfing the net. I am not able to create much of substance after 11pm. So if I want to get stuff done, it has to be during the day.

So I discovered morning. It started out of necessity and I've been battling with this morning monster for many months now. But suddenly, this battle has turned to a full on love affair. It started with the return of the sun. Now I can see this beast I am battling in all her glory and GASP! She's gorgeous. Who knew? Well... lots of people, but until recently I wasn't privy to the info.

And I am tamed. I am converted. I have given my heart to morning and all she promises. And the side effects of waking early? They are pretty much amazing. I start my day by picking one of the many beautiful places to walk around my town. Wow. Talk about a vitamin for my soul. Of course, there hasn't been much late night reading recently, or blog surfing either. But I have all dark winter to catch up.

Until then... I'll be here:

All these pictures are taken by my highly inadequate camera phone, because it seems while I am getting used to waking up at 5:00 a.m., my brain cells are not yet functioning well enough to EVER remember my real camera.

And here:

Can't forget here as it might be the last year for this coal belching beauty:

And ohhhh.... here. I love it here:

I live on the west coast of Michigan, so the sun sets over the lake. Some mornings though we get sunrise reflections. I love those mornings.

 Waiting for summer.



Of course... Here:

 From the other direction:

Good Morning, Sun.

Watching the fog roll in and the moon set:

Foggier harbor view:

The fog about to envelop the land:

All my night loving years this outrageous morning stuff has been going on around my sleeping self. Likely mere hours after I finally succumb to dreams. I used to treat morning like an enemy or at best, a beast to be conquered. But I feel like I've fallen into my own rabbit hole, only this is a world that makes more sense than my nocturnal self ever did.

Found: Comfort

My twentieth class reunion is a few scant weeks away. Thanks to facebook I actually want to go. It seems the same people that used to make me laugh, still do. And people I was once to shy to talk to seem approachable and real to me now. However, it wouldn't be true to pretend that I don't have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

I will be going to the reunion a different person than I pictured I would be and don't get me wrong, I like myself. I love my life. But I am a heavier, grayer, and more blue collar version of myself than I ever expected. We do weird stuff like homeschool and live on the cheap-side of town so we can live within our means comfortably. I am not ashamed of any of this, but it is there... the bits of anxiety remembered from high school dynamics, from the mixture of the girl I was and the woman I am - trying to find peace with one other and with the person I still long to be.

I imagine I'll feel a bit nervous, but once we get there we'll find a little drinking, a lot of laughing, most of us happy to see the real people behind the facebook profiles. Until then though, I've listened to the following song a lot. Maybe a little shallow, but since it is a mash-up song from the show Glee, a show about high school anxieties it seems really apt. And it soothes my inner insecure teenager. And it makes me cry a little for the anxieties my daughter will likely feel some day as well. Oh, to delay those years as long as possible!

So, lots going on here. This spring finds me grateful, humble, manic, excited and introspective. Wishing everyone who stops by here a weekend that wows you, be ye of the nocturnal or diurnal breed. There is something awe inspiring out there at every hour of the day it appears. Who knew?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day...

Four generations of first born girls.

Pardon my wacky hair in the photo, my excuse is in my arms - my daughter not long after she was born. Tomorrow is Mother's Day in the United States. So Happy Day, Mama! I love you!

My mom's birthday always falls near or on Mother's Day so we usually have a combined party. That means... Cake! And any day with cake is a good day indeed. 

So many ways to create beauty...

Since I've been into 'thinky' posts lately, I might as well keep the roll going. Spring is raging through my world right now and though the temperatures seem like they are trying to summon winter back, the world around me is going through the work it needs to do to move the seasons forward. The animals have especially caught my attention the last few years. I find myself watching birds and squirrels that have conveniently (for me) taken up residence in neighboring rooftops. I've written of this before, here and here and more recently here.

Someone on facebook mentioned that once you start watching birds it is a sign that you are officially old, but I don't think so. I think it just means that you are past the age where you think the world revolves around you. To me it feels more like a rebirth, a quickening. Here, E. E. Cummings explains this better:

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

Oh yeah, Mr. Cummings. You can be my huckleberry. Does everyone else get schoolgirl shivers when you read his poetry? Or I suppose I shouldn't assume everyone who wanders to this blog is female... So schoolboy/girl shivers then? Ahem... back to birds and squirrels, shall we?

But mostly what I've learned from the neighborhood animals is that their main point of existence seems to be nurturing and creating. Which isn't a unique observation as the phrase 'feathering ones nest' proves. But it does this mama/crafter heart good to catch a glimpse that maybe this unyielding urge to create... well, anything, is based on a primal instinct verses something less savory, like mania or narcissism.

I like the idea that one of the driving forces in this world is simply creation. Beauty, comfort, laughter, safety, whimsy.... whatever. It is all being created by someone much to the enjoyment of others. The world around us seems support that this is how it should be. Spring conquers winter with the most startling contrasts possible, redecorating with a style that never grows old. Birds and squirrels finding the most interesting places to make a home, then rebuild automatically if need be, teaching their young how to do the same.

I watched a bird that was so determined to get a piece of cloth into his nest he tried and tried and tried and finally went and got his mate who grabbed it when he flew up and pulled it in while he pushed. It reminded me of the several house projects that my husband and I have put each other through, only surviving by working together, each grabbing our end of the material. Though on the flip-side I've also been somewhat scarred by a mother squirrel that I swear is having postpartum issues and trying to whittle down her litter. My husband will be happy when that particular group moves on. I think he's sick of getting frantic texts about falling baby squirrels. Might as well keep it real, not all humans are the most wonderful example of humanity... and not all squirrels are wonderful examples of well, squirrel-hood... squirrelness... Squirreliness? Goodness... do I have a point?

Anyway... that is where my mind has drifted tonight. And then it drifted to this: (Because this post isn't quite long enough yet.) My cousins have created the most amazingly beautiful thing. Last year they started a race in memory of their brother who died of a brain tumor at age 29. Chris was my oldest cousin and his life, though filled with some of the most serious things life can throw at you, was also  filled with so much creation. He had the best laugh and the gentlest personality, even as he was an amazing competitor and sportsman. Chris was kind. He was funny. He was fun. And I miss him, I do. This race is a beautiful testament to his life and it is generating funds to help researchers create too. Specifically create cures. Because brain tumors suck, even worse than precariously balanced baby squirrels.

Humans create like we live. Endlessly rearranging that nest when the wind has its way with us. And though Chris's life ended too quickly, his life was beautiful and he lived it well; with optimism, laughter, and gratitude. His sisters have continued his spark and with it created this race. And I am humble to be a part of it and to be part of such a lovely group of people as well.

We don't know how long we have on this gorgeous, tear-soaked planet. But we ourselves were made. We will be unmade. And in all the time that is in between, we can create. And there is beauty in that cycle.

I love, love, love this video. I'll post the lyrics to the awesome song too.

Nothing For Granted - Brendan James

Leave your worries, leave your fears • Leave the doubt you’re holding dear
Leave them there, love by the door • They’re no good anymore
Tell your friends you’ll see them later • Tell your family they can wait
Your only young once, only dream of the day that love will steal you away
So run with me down these midnight streets
We will take nothing for granted nothing for granted
Come with me, life is short and sweet
We will take nothing for granted nothing for granted
Stop the seasons drifting by • Stop believing there’s no time
Stop your heart from closing off • I think you deserve it all
Love your future, love your past • Love your body, it’s all you have
Love your secrets bottled up • But love them more when you give them up
And run with me down these midnight streets
We will take nothing for granted, nothing for granted
Come with me life is short and sweet
We will take nothing for granted, nothing for granted
Gotta get out of your mind • There’s so many wonders to find
So many words they could write across your early grave
So come on and open your eyes • I will be right by your side
You will see love lies in everything
Run with me down these midnight streets • We will take nothing for granted
Nothing for granted • Nothing for granted • Nothing for granted
Come with me life is short and sweet
Oh, nothing for granted • Nothing for granted
If you made it all the way to the end of this post, I am humbled. I am set on ramble tonight it seems. But I am set on grateful as well. Thank you for reading. And thank you for what you create in this world. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Just keep hooping. Just keep hooping. What do we do? We hoop. Hoop. Hoop.

Someone got a new hula hoop and you know what that means...
Hula hoop matching time. 

My girl is a hula hooping fashionista. It tickles me, the idea of dressing to match a hula hoop. I don't dress to match my hula hoop. I'd look like a Christmas bulb. I am cool with living vicariously through her artful outfits.

Like here. And here except without the fun animation this time. Lazy me.

Well, not lazy really. Sort of overwhelmed to be honest. Spring does this to me. I look forward to it. Long for it even, then WHAM! Spring descends and I just don't adjust well to major changes. I don't. I even have a hard time transitioning between vast temperature changes for goodness sake. We get busy in the spring. Oh, busy is such an understatement. Such a contrast to winter that was here just yesterday. And until I adjust to it, I get scattered. I forget so much that I forget that I forget stuff, and well... that is as confusing as it sounds.

For example I forgot to put an ad in the paper for our business spring special. Then I remembered and it went in the paper, but I forgot to turn the ringer on the business phone this morning. So then I faced a backlog of calls to return at the same time that people were calling. So I forgot breakfast. For everyone.

And that is more typical stuff... there is also the weirder proof of my decline like a package returned to me because it was going to Canada and I didn't fill out a customs form, but it was a letter and I shouldn't have had to. But it was a thick letter, so they wanted me to anyway, and during fixing that whole mess up I forgot to mail another package until I found it in my car yesterday. And I am just remembering RIGHT. THIS. SECOND. that I failed to tell my swap-partner that her package is going to be late and that is a big no-no and a probability that my rating on swap-bot will go down. Ughh... See where this is going? It is spiraling. And not in a good hula hoops sort of way. In a descending rapidly in an ohmygosh I want to somehow express how I want to run away sort of thing.

I do feel the need to point out the in between all of this forgetting is a lot of remembering. I'm not on full fail mode all of the time. There is just a lot going on. We're busy, you get it. Everyone is busy. This isn't earth shattering or even interesting, and it it certainly isn't a real problem like floods, hunger, cancer or war. I understand this and it is all in there swirling around in my brain. Grateful one second, overwhelmed and nail chewing the next. This is spring at my house.

But I try to blog happy. It helps but these days, weeks, months do happen. But I remind myself that when these moments pass, they pass. Best to let them go, right?

Hula hooping and really does help. My daughter got a new hoop because I asked her to take a class with me this summer. Not that she needed a bribe but I bought a sparkly hula hoop when I started taking classes, so I thought it would be fun if she did too. My son ended up ordering one too so I imagine we aren't done with hula hoop posts quite yet even if he is with me on the non-hula hoop matching side of the fence.

I started a twitter account, which was the inspiration for this self critical sort of post. Twitter has made me think. There's a link to it on the right sidebar if you are so inclined to follow such sport. I've had an account for a bit, but just started to use it regularly, reading and tweeting. However, it has been interesting to me to realize the things that come to me to actually tweet about.

Blogging is a few comfortable paces removed from the momentum of everyday. I have time to sit back and breathe before posting a blog and so I am able to put things in perspective. I have a facebook account that I don't use a ton but try to check in on at least once a day. I also 'think before posting' there. I mean... many of those people actually see me in real life. I could say stuff that could become potentially embarrassing in real life situations, you know? Think first, write second is a good strategy in general.

Then there's twitter. This instant medium that isn't linked to me as personally as facebook. Like blogging... without the time barrier. Suddenly I find myself fighting the urge to tweet about telemarketers, or being tired, or not having enough time to make coffee, let alone the 1,000 'real' worries and issues that everyone faces each day. Basically, I fight the urge to gripe, and I am not really a griping sort of person. And well, it is a puzzle. Is this frazzled person me? Or is it a moment that I should allow to dissolve away and be over?

Because there is a bit of the whole 'the word became flesh' about writing isn't there? If I write about how bad my morning was, then it lives on and become something 'more' somehow. It sort of starts to define me a bit, those of us leaving bits of ourselves here and there on the internet. The pieces adding up to a sort of whole, about as much of a definition of a person as anything really is. Am I really the woman who wanted to cry because the phone wouldn't stop ringing this morning?

Or am I the woman who put on the music, turned down the ringer and pulled out our hoops for a spontaneous hooping session to shake off the morning?

Well, the truth is... Both. I am both people. And well, I might not always be able to force life into the boxes I wish for it and twitter might be an outlet for the more spontaneous me, for better or worse. I don't know, we'll see. I am there anyway. And if you are too... then feel free to join me. I'm still finding my feet but it might be interesting. I am hoping it might be a way to make note of things before they slip into the ether of my brain like so many things have lately.

The weekend is fast approaching people! Get in and hang on. The ride is rough and short but often glorious. Like a child that likes to match her hula hoop and how spinning with her melts away a morning worth of problems. Sending introspective hugs out through the intertubes this morning. Now I am off to make  a very large and well, shall I say, rather deserved cup of coffee.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mail art, rhinoceros, stickers and my crafty daughter. How's that for a Monday?

Another day, another swap-bot swap. This time one for mail art, which I really enjoy making and receiving. These pictures aren't of the actual envelopes I sent. These are extra ones I made along with the 'real' ones, but they are very similar. I was so involved with making this swap I forgot to take pictures during the actual process. My daughter and I were having fun with this one!

What was so engrossing about envelope making you wonder? Well, making the envies was fun and a great stress reliever. I love doodling on things and making art envelopes is like doodling with a purpose. But it was the profile surprise that we were supposed to put in the envelope that had my daughter and I happily creating things, camera a million miles from our thoughts.

This time around my partner's profile was very intriguing to me. She had some awesome 'likes'. Like the color purple, tree houses, bananas, stars and polka dots and especially, rhinos. So I thought... I'll make her stickers! Not because she especially likes stickers though she does like to make art journals and paste things in them, so I hoped that these would work for her crafting too.

But stickers fit nicely into an envelope and I really like hand-drawn art stickers. I mean in a sort of obsessive way. I keep etsy hopping with my constant prowl for art stickers. I don't know... Must be a child of the 80's thing and keeping and feeding of a massive sticker books during my formative years. Some of my etsy favorites have been Stefanie Fizer, thepoppytree, Jester777 (whom I met on swap-bot), and FlorLarios. If you know of any other artists that make illustrated stickers, let me know. I'm always hoping to find new ones.

So anyway, this is what I came up with when I combined several of her likes. :0) Such happy, silly little rhinos. I had a blast with this and got to play with my pretty markers. My daughter joined in and was sketching away across the table from me. One of the favorite things she said during that time was, "I don't know why rhinos and treehouses go together but they just do." Totally.

Then she declared her picture complete and I looked up and saw this gorgeousness:
 Wow! That's my crafty girl.

 All together now.

Well, her picture was enough to blow me away, but she didn't stop there. Finding a theme she liked, she kept expanding on it. Next thing I know she comes up with this little beauty:
 A paper-crafted treehouse. Only this time it is for a purple tiger.

 The cuteness almost made me cry.

I love this kid and her obsession for creating tiny needle felted pretties.


Just goes to show, you never know where, when or why inspiration will strike and what it will lead to. Mail art swap = me making profile based stickers = daughter joining in fun and knocking my socks off with her drawing ability = daughter creating sculptural art based on previous creations. Makes me so happy!

Know what else makes me happy? SPRING! Buds on my tree!

Happy Monday! Wishing everyone a colorful, creative week!