New Beginnings

ImageCredit: jana from the Bldg 25 Free People blog I know I'm not alone in feeling like the beginning of the school year is more of a "fresh start" than New Year's. With three kids in school and living in and among educators, my life ebbs and flows with the academic calendar. Fall comes around and our day to day life changes overnight. This year was especially a game changer because my youngest baby started all day Kindergarten. (!) So for the first time in eleven years all of my kiddos are in school full day. It means, in a way, that I just got laidoff. I've been caring for them for awhile now, sometimes working part-time (sometimes more hours, sometimes less), but taking care of them throughout the day has been my main priority, my main job, for over a decade. It's the best job I've ever had and I've loved it, for whatever sacrifices it's meant for my family, I always felt like it's what I was called to do. And this is not at all a treatise on stay-at-home moms. That was the choice I made and it's hard not to feel like it's over now. Of course I'm still their mom, of course they still need me, of course we'll still have many wonderful days together, but those morning to night, day after day, times together are kind of behind me.

Whoa. I think it finally hit me the week before school started what that meant for me and my thoughts about it have been sitting pretty heavy on this heart. Those of you who are parents know how these moments can knock you off your feet. I have the expected contradictory feelings of joy and sadness as, on the one hand, they're growing up! Look what I helped do! They're great kids! They are ready to do new things and I can't wait to see where they go from here. On the other hand, my babies! Gulp. When you've been so emotionally invested in something for so long - what's that saying about parenting being a constant state of letting go?

Now, with this change come some predictable questions. Very well meaning questions. Mainly, "What are you going to do now?"

Believe me, I've been thinking about this for awhile. A long time, really. I don't think any stay-at-home mom doesn't think about this on a regular basis. Probably three or four years ago now, in my search for "what am I going to do with the rest of my life?" I decided that above all I wanted to love it (almost) as much as I've loved taking care of my kids. At that point I was rediscovering my love of art, something I'd nurtured as a kid but had left behind a bit as an adult. As I worked on that I learned about surface pattern design and I fell in love with it and I thought, "I think I can do this. I think I want to do this."

So I'm doing it. Everything you see on this site is because I decided I wanted to try this. Maybe it's naive, maybe it's stupid, maybe it's too late to make a legitimate go of it (I pull those thoughts right out of my subconscious on a regular basis), but I'm doing it anyway. The quote above came across my Pinterest feed yesterday and I thought it fit the place I'm in rather perfectly. Because yesterday? It was the first day of my new job. The magic of new beginnings - I'm counting on it.

Welcome Baby: Drawing & Quilting

jungle-elephant No, not MY baby! My sister's baby, which is the next best thing if you ask me. I get to cuddle and snuggle without getting up for 3am feedings. It's lovely to be an aunt. And of course a new baby means new baby gifts. I love to make things for new babies. I typically go way over board with ambitious plans to make every single cute baby thing I've come across in my sewing books and the internet. In this case my sister already asked me to make some art prints for the new nursery. She wanted jungle animals so I decided to take the giraffe illustration I worked on for my ABSPD class and revamp it a little bit. Then I created similar illustrations of an elephant and monkey. I think they turned out pretty cute - I hope she does as well! Since we didn't know the gender of this baby until last week I tried to keep it gender-neutral, which, let's face it, always ends up leaning more toward the "boy" end of the spectrum. But it does match the bedding and wall color, so I think we'll be okay.

jungle-giraffe  jungle-monkey

I didn't know if I was going to get to a sewing project this time around because I've been so busy with other things lately (hello end of the school year!), but once that baby girl arrived last week the first thing I did was come home and dust off my sewing machine. I knew I needed an easy and relatively quick project because I only had two days to complete it before we headed out of town to visit my new niece. I decided to use the adorable scraps of fabric I already had on hand and found directions for this scrap baby quilt from Gingercake. I think I literally did a google search for "easy baby scrap quilt" ( I love the internet!). I cut a few corners on my version: I kept the whole quilt as 5 inch squares to save some cutting time and I also hand tied the quilt with pink yarn versus machine quilting the top. Remember how I'm a lazy and impatient quilter? I also used a variety of colors instead of sticking to one color family. I love the mono-chromatic look of the original, but didn't feel like I had enough to work with in the "pink" family. I also added a few rows to mine to make it a little bit bigger, so it ended up being 7x10 squares or about 32"x45". The turned over backing/binding with the mitered corners worked like a charm and may be my new go-to method for finishing off a quilt. So easy and a great finish. I always love the look of a scrap quilt. They're so colorful, fun, and look handmade in the best way.

claras_quiltWe had some squares leftover so my daughter decided to get in on the action and she made a smaller baby doll quilt for the new baby's 2 year-old sister. Didn't she do well?


Welcome baby girl! We're so glad you're here!


Making a mess in Madison

We spent the weekend visiting my sister's family in Madison, Wisconsin. On Saturday morning we explored the Madison Children's Museum. It's a really fabulous children's museum with all the hands on fun you'd expect at a children's museum, but one highlight for our three kid was the art studio space. A bright sunny room was packed with crayons, a weaving station, natural materials, glass windows to paint on, collage supplies, and a whole corner of recycled materials for art projects. It was what my house would look like if the kids were given free reign: scraps of paper all over the floor, things hanging from the ceiling, paint on the windows, and all the TAPE you could ever hope for. Now that we've dedicated some space in our unfinished basement for a kids' play area I'm also trying to carve out some room for art making. Surprisingly, the older they get the messier more creative they get. I saw this post on a DIY Recycling Center for Kids on Handmade Charlotte which my kids would also love. I do try to hang on to things I think they'd like to make something with (a friend of mine even "gifts" old boxes and cardboard scraps to my daughter Olivia), but I get frustrated with the space needed to keep all this stuff. One of my continuing struggles as a parent: balancing their creative spirit and the mess it sometimes creates. They're already asking if they can paint on the windows at home.