Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Week, New Attitude (hopefully)

As I sit at my work table, reflecting on the week behind me and thinking about the week ahead, my eyes drift toward a set of stickers I received from a friend the other day. They are a bunch of Edgar Allan Poe quotes among other greetings and phrases. My eyes fell, in particular on this quote:

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."

A couple of stickers down I see: "Happy Mother's Day!" (Insert crazy-lady laugh here.)

Then I thought, that's kinda what the week has been like. It started out INSANE. And then I got my act together. 'Cause I'm a mom and we don't have any time budgeted out for insanity. Maybe later.

Actually, I had a pretty good week. I prayed A LOT. But that is never a bad thing so feel free to pat me on the back. There were many times where the first word or two out of my mouth had a lot of volume to it but then I quickly toned it down. For the most part, it's working (loosely). The boys are still a couple of squirrelly-monkey squirrels but I started to notice some longer intervals of sanity. I still noticed that by bedtime, I'm worn out and run down and patience-free, for the most part. But I no longer feel as despairing. I'll get there.


Now for a new week. It began with Asher stomping on my foot with his big, thick, toddler foot. But that was quickly followed by my husband packing up the boys in the minivan and taking them to visit Grandma. (Actually, I grew weary of waiting for them to get their acts together and GET ON THE ROAD ALRIGHT ALREADY, so I got in a car of my own and went to the store.)

So here I sit, in silence and solitude. I've been experiencing the joy of having a thought, being able to hear the thought, and finish thinking the thought. Sigh...

I bought a small sketch book to use as a daily art journal. I'm going to decorate it and begin filling it with... well, I'll tell you more about that on Tuesday.

I've weeded through my binder, planned out the week's meals and groceries and appointments.
I've posted Marie A. II on Etsy and on my website. And, I've written my post for Monday! :)

Now, I'm gonna clip some coupons, work on my new journal, read and, maybe, force my self to make a new facebook page for my portraits. ( I stumbled upon an art business blog that was explaining facebook pages for artists and how they should be created, etc. I discovered that I didn't do my page "correctly" and that I need to do a new one. Let me re-phrase that. It would be in my best interest to do a new one. Arrrgghh, urrrgghh... I'll explain more on Tuesday.)

Here's to a new week and all that awaits us!

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 Songs

Because I've got a case of circus-on-the-brain, I felt the need to search around for musical inspiration. Here are 5:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Kingdom for a Thumb!

A little slow going here due to the state of my hands and thumbs. I'm trying to stick to a break from fabric and sewing until I heal. Hard to do. I want to get Marie #2 finished so I can get working on my new series. Ah, well... The best laid plans blah, blah, blah.

So, no new pics of the ex-queen. However, I have started researching and doing sketches for my first series of 2011. The circus. Or carnival. I don't know which yet. I go back and forth between the two names and I can't get a clear enough "image" of each name to make a decision. What do you think?

Before I go any further, go here to check out part of my inspiration. When I heard of her series, my first thought was that, yes, circus people would make excellent subjects for my portraits. Then I took a look at her work and just was so impressed and enthralled! Please check it out.

I am also inspired by the Alfred Hitchcock movie "Saboteur"...

One of my favorites! There is a scene where the hero and reluctant-heroine have to stow away in a car on a circus train. There we meet your typical sideshow freaks. And the hero and heroine, finally, fall in love! Anyway... (Love the bearded lady!!!)

So I tucked the idea of carnival portraits away in my fevered brain, to be released after the new year. And here we are! I thought this would be a great series to usher in spring. Now for the cast of characters:
*Siamese Twins (double)
*Tattooed Man and his Wife (double)
*Snake Charmer
*Fortune Teller
*Bearded Lady

I may also do:
*Ring Master
*Lady Giant and Tom Thumb (double)

In an effort to not get to ahead of myself, I've only just begun sketching ideas. Here's a peak:

(They are my Siamese Twins. I think I'll name them April and May.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My kids are driving me crazy. Hardly an original thought, I know, but that is the plain truth. I feel like I am being ratcheted up, slowly but surely, to Mommy Dearest-like status.

I don't like that. I don't like feeling that, in acting like a crazy lady, I've given up control. To squirrel-y, monkey boys.

So, what to do? Stop. Start fresh. Thank the Lord for new days, new hours, new minutes. I realize I just have to make a very conscious effort, with each new day, to be patient, loving, kind, slow to anger... I need to speak softer (no big stick, though- the little monkeys would probably take it and wack me with it). Sometimes, I need to not speak at all. I need to pray about it more- every time I feel my blood pressure rise (and I have the blood pressure of a dead person, go figure). And, sadly, I need to stop playing around with my kids.

I started putting the above into practice Monday morning (after nearly packing my bags and moving out Sunday night). Speaking softly, literally and figuratively, is a neat trick in the world of parenting. For one thing, it shuts the wee tyrants up. They can tell I'm talking but they can't hear what I'm saying so- quiet. Hard to do though when every fiber of my being wants to get LOUD. But the funny thing about getting loud is that I feel pretty lousy after the fact.

And, not speaking at all. Who knew! A knowing look goes a long way with a kid, especially when they are fully aware that they are doing or saying something they shouldn't. Plus, the anticipation of your saying something seems to neutralize the situation. Hee, hee, hee.

Praying. It helps. He helps. And, it gives you a moment, like counting to ten, but it's more productive. Amen.

And finally, not playing around with my kids. I don't mean playing with them. I (my husband, too) need to quit playing around with them because that is giving them the impression that we are all equals. We aren't and none of us should be treating the others as if we are. I have to be the mature one in all situations concerning my boys. It's about consistency more than anything else. If I laugh with Nathanael about something that Asher should not be doing, for example, but get upset with Nathanael for laughing at Asher the next time it happens, how is that fair to any of us? Well, it's not and it's on me to change this.

Yesterday was a fresh new day! New behaviors and attitudes were exhibiting themselves all over the place! Until after dinner. We'll call it the witching hour. Actually, it wasn't that bad but I could tell the spell was beginning to fade. Thank heavens for early bed times!

Today! Another fresh new day! Huh? Well, another day at least. The Lord and I have had several conversations so far (and It's only 1:15!). I haven't gone off the deep end but I have noticed a bit more volume about me. Thank heavens for nap time!!!

I guess I have to stop thinking that there is a quick fix in this parenting dilemma. I have to remember to be conscious of my role as mother. A role I can never set aside, not even for the merest of moments, if I am to be successful. But, I am determined! I love being a mom. I love being a mom to boys. I love my boys.

...But the greatest of these is love. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Books, Books, Books, Books, Books

5 books read in the past 4 weeks:

* A Christmas Odyssey by Anne Perry (I get her new Christmas novella every Christmas from my husband. I love how these have become a little bit of a tradition between us.)

* Heat Wave by "Richard Castle" (I loooove the TV show 'Castle' and have been curious about the books. It was a fun read and a good mystery that kept me going. The second book, Naked Heat, arrived in the mail today.)

* Mistletoe and Mayhem by Kate Kingsbury ( This, too, was a Christmas gift. It was a fun, holiday themed mystery in Edwardian England. I think I'll check out her other books once the holidays roll 'round again.)
* An Irish Country Courtship by Patrick Taylor (Just wonderful! I love this series that takes place in Ireland in the 1960's. They leave you feeling warm and happy. And, I also like walking around saying "wee" and "eejit".)

* The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig ( I love this series, too. They are rom-com, historical books inspired by the Scarlett Pimpernel. Sweet and funny and fun.)

Now, I shall be diving into Peril at Somner House by Joanna Challis. I read the first in this series last spring, Murder on the Cliffs. The heroine is none other than Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca, The Frenchman's Creek, Jamaica Inn) Good mystery, great characters and lots of fun. Then Naked Heat. And The Orchid Affair. I am positively giddy with anticipation!

What's on your nightstand?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My latest...

Here's a peek at the progress I'm making on my latest portrait. It is Marie Antoinette, this time in black and white.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's next...

The house cleaning is coming along nicely. I've relaxed a bit and am enjoying it more. Don't get me wrong, I don't find cleaning to be enjoyable by itself. However, when doing a all-over, spring cleaning, it can be kinda fun. I like moving furniture around and redecorating and re-purposing. And, now that Asher is a little older, I don't have to be so baby-conscious in how I decorate and set-up cupboards and drawers. I'm also one of those people who puts something in a "safe place" and completely forgets about it. Doing a cleaning like this means unearthing a lot of "lost treasures".

Now that the second half of January is underway, it's time to start planning my garden. Why so early? Last year, I believe I started planning in February and it was a bit close. Any seeds that I want to start indoors will actually need to get going pretty quick. So, in an effort to not feel so under the gun this year, I'm going to start planning now.

Which means:
* Figuring out frost dates and making a gardening calendar.
* Making a list of all I want to grow, how much of each and where they will be planted.
* Figure out what plants can be started from seeds by me and when.
* Begin working on dates for planting in the actual garden.
* Decide if I will need to rent a plot in our community garden.

I did all of this last year with the guidance of Thy Hand Hath Provided and her wonderful gardening tutorial and on line at the Gardener's Supply Company. They have a way for you to plan out your square foot garden on their website and then you can print it out along with great info on what you are planting. This year I will also be using information gathered from The Grocery Shrink on how much to plant per person to last a year.

I do plan on doing the square foot garden again this year. I really liked how it worked for me last year and would highly recommend it.

I also plan on being more realistic in what I choose to plant. I had a lot of things going last year, which was fun and I learned lots. But it wasn't realistic for us as a family. I felt like we wasted a lot (although the chickens would beg to differ). Like, no beets (my husband is the only one who likes beets and he never eats them) and no big, slicing tomatoes (just grape and Roma) and, even though I think they are the prettiest things, no peas:(. They just take up too much room and you get so little in return. Plus I'd like to use the back corner of our property that actually gets sunlight for things like pumpkins.

Now, I'm getting excited about my garden! As I figure things out, I'll fill you in. Now for the... You guessed it! Laundry!!!:) Enjoy your day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Five for Friday

Five random thoughts/observances:

1. Thumbs are very important. If you have ever doubted that, simply wrap both thumbs in bandages and survive. Of course, if you are going to try this you need to make sure you are secure enough to withstand the confused stares you will receive. It makes me wonder what they think I've done...

2. Although I put absolutely no stock in horoscopes and signs, I find myself really digging my heals in about this whole "change from Libra to Virgo" thing. I'm not gonna do it! Who's with me?

3.On Asher's birthday I had wanted to get some fun pictures of Nathanael. When I asked him to smile and say "Cheese!", I got a series of pained smirks and grimaces and sad attempts at looking "serious". Finally, I got some cute smiles from the kid- but only because his little brother was feeling a bit gassy. Boys!

4. If you haven't read the "Irish County Doctor" series of books by Patrick Taylor, please do. They are absolutely wonderful and warm and sweet and fun. A perfect book for cold, winter afternoons. I'm reading the newest one now. They are the kind of books that make you want to read really slow so that they don't come to an end too soon.

5. How wonderful was "Downton Abbey" on pbs, last Sunday?! I love the whole upstairs/downstairs feel and that you get equal doses of both worlds. And, it is both beautiful to look at and listen to, also. Part two is this Sunday. Can't wait!

Now I am off to do as I say and curl up with my "Irish Country Courtship"! Enjoy your day!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Artsy Update

Well, Romeo and Juliet are finished! Go here to see some more pics and what I wrote about them. Here is a little pic of the two lovers together:

What's next? Since I sold my original Marie Antoinette, I do believe I shall create a new one. She was where Sew Creepy Portraits started, so I feel like I should always have at least one Marie in my collection. Each one will be different, of course. This new Marie will (I think) be all in black and white. That'll be my 'challenge'.

Anyway, I'll start on her as soon as I get my thumbs back. True to form, both my thumbs have a 'crack' in them. A painful crack. Every year at this time, because of the dry weather and having my hands on wool and other fabrics so often, at least one of my thumbs cracks open. Yesterday I had both thumbs bandaged. It was kind of nice while I was sewing because they acted like thimbles. Unfortunately, I kept stitching myself to my work because my needle kept catching part of the bandage without my realizing it. Can I hear an 'Oy!'? I'm sure the crazy cleaning I've been doing doesn't help either. And, to top it all off, last night I was wondering why my big toe hurt. It now has a little crack on it, too. I'll be fitted for a body cast soon.

Now to put on some hand lotion and do a little reading while the red-head sleeps. Enjoy your day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Asher's Birthday

It was Asher's birthday on Sunday. Three years old! Wow!!! It seems like he went from this... this, awfully fast!

Here are some pictures from our Day of Festivities, which included a lunch at Red Robin per Asher's request. *Please forgive the darkness of the pictures. I was taking them either early in the morning or after it got dark out.

Here is the birthday boy, finally being allowed to begin the celebrations.

Balloons! We actually had to beg him to look at all of the presents and leave the balloons alone for a moment!
Opening a gift from Nathanael. ( A new Kung Zhu.)

More gifts...

Showing us that he is three. Dave had to help before he offended anyone by accident.

We got him a new fire truck that has lots of buttons, flashing lights, sirens and voices on it. It also has a rather dramatic song that plays when you push one of the buttons. Think the theme song from 'L.A. Law'. It made Dave and I feel as if we should be strutting around, in slow motion, ready to save lives. It made Asher give these cheese-y smiles and dance moves. Worth every penny!

Yesterday was a big day for my boy in another way, too. I finally got up the guts to break down his crib and move it out! He is now sleeping on a regular, twin bed. So far, so good! And today, we tossed the sippy cups. Tomorrow, it's drivers training. ;)

We had a wonderful day yesterday with our little red-head! He has been such a joy to me. I know I complain that I don't get much of a break from him but, honestly? The thought of not having him around makes me very sad. But, he's three now. Three is such a turning point. By three you know for sure that your baby and time, itself, is moving forward.

Enough! No more maudlin thoughts. Time to focus on Romeo (no escaping 'maudlin', I guess) and finish him up!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year, New Thoughts

Tuesday is for sharing my thoughts or something new.

How about my thoughts on the New Year?

I haven't made a list (yet?) of resolutions for 2011. However, I find that I look at the beginning of a year as a chance to review and revise.

Some things that I want to accomplish are the same year after year:
*Lose the wait I put on over the holidays.
*Clean my house from top to bottom.
*Work on procrastination, "running out of steam" and focusing.
*Work towards spending only $50 per person, per month, on groceries. Eeek!

Some things that I want to accomplish develop because I am sick and tired of revisiting the same area year after year:
*Figure out a house cleaning schedule and stick to it!!!!
*Figure out how to eat better/healthier/more responsibly and stick to it!!!!

Some things that I want to accomplish are things that have been in my head for a while and I just haven't gotten to them yet:
*Learn how to make bread and get to the point where I don't have to buy bread any more.
*Figure out garden by end of January. Plan according to what we actually eat/store (don't waste my little bit of space).
*Plan and, more importantly, plant a fall garden.
*Landscape and beautify the chicken coop/run.

Somethings are business related:
*Iron everything!!!!
*Make each stitch a deliberate work of art in its own right.
*Research more appropriate shows. Look outside of the Greater Lansing Area. Look outside of Michigan.
*Keep on top of website, blog and facebook. Figure out twitter.

Somethings are family related:
*Be a constant and consistent support to my husband. Encourage him more. Practice kindness, gentleness, peacefulness more. Pray for him always.
*Be kinder and more patient with my boys. Be more patient. Stop tapping into my inner Mommy Dearest. Be more patient.
*Teach Asher to read.
*Work on a summer reading/writing/arithmetic plan for Nathanael.

And, some are personal:
*Complete Isaiah study (BSF) and begin Acts of the Apostles study (BSF).
*Memorize 24 verses by December 31st.

I'm sure there's plenty more. This major cleaning that I've been doing has given me lots of time to think and plan.

Have you thought about "this day forward"? Things you'd like to do? (Or stop doing?)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to...

Mom and Dad went back to Florida. Dave went back to work. Nathanael went back to school. Asher and I are getting back to our routine. I love Christmas break but the highs and lows, the loss of routine take a bit out of a person.

I miss having Nathanael and Dave around but, this is the first time in two weeks that I've been "alone". (Asher is just taking his nap.) There is a lot that I wait to do until I am "alone" (like write this blog) so I'm glad to get this bit of time back.

And, now that the holidays and breaks are over, it's time to... CLEAN THIS HOUSE! I decided that as I remove Christmas decorations, room by room, I am going to give that particular room a very thorough cleaning. Cleaning, organizing, weeding. I'll reward myself with some furniture moving and Valentine's Day decorating. I also decided to make a "to-do" list for each room. I found that I kept thinking of things that I wanted to do, issues to address, furniture to move, etc. So I've made a list for each room which comes with the added reward of crossing things off.

I was going to wait until today to get started but I decided to tackle the upstairs bathroom yesterday. Dave had given me lovely new towels for Christmas and I was dying to get them moved in. I finished up the bathroom this morning and I am very happy with it and can check it off of my list! Next- the master bedroom. Eek!

Throughout the mass cleansing, I also am going to work on the laundry room. It is in our basement and there is no way that I can make it look magazine feature-worthy but I'm going to do my best with it. I want a bonafide laundry room (sparked by my beautiful, new washer) so I'm clearing out all of the non-laundry room- what's the word for it- crap! I'm going to make it an actual laundry room. I am determined! I'll even post some pics when I'm done.

All the while, I am also trying to pack up my decorations better. I tend to be so over Christmas by New Years day that I toss everything in bins and hide them in the attic just so I don't have to look at them. Then, when I pull them out of the attic to do my decorating, I spend the whole time berating myself for the awful packing job. It may take me a bit longer to remove Christmas from our midst but, again, I am determined!

Hopefully, all of the above won't take more than two weeks. I then want to spend the rest of January planning my garden. I'll post more about that as I get to it. I also want to get my Romeo and Juliet completed, along with a new Marie Antoinette (I sold the original). Juliet is already done but I haven't listed her yet. I think I want to release and list Romeo and Juliet at the same time. My sketch of Romeo is done and I'm happy with the way it looks. Today I'll be picking out fabrics and maybe I'll start to the pieces I'll need.

That's enough for now! Off to the next project!!
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