Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On Being a New Mom, Part 1

I remember, very precisely, when my water broke while pregnant with my first baby. I remember all of the events that followed . I remember laughing and crying as my new, baby boy was laid on my chest. I just barely remember Dave standing there. For a moment, this screaming, red-faced little boy eclipsed even the love of my life. It is something I will never forget.

What else to I remember? I remember crying, again, as the nurse helped get me and my baby ready to leave the hospital. I didn't want to leave. I was surprised that I didn't want to leave but it did not change the fact that I was not ready to be mom. When you are pregnant, there is no shortage of women sharing their stories with you; mostly happy, some funny. You find yourself assuming that the minute you go into labor, the magic begins. There is a little magic, like what I mentioned above. But that's about it. Reality sets in immediately and it's a bit surprising.

When I got home with my sweet boy, I did not feel that magical, mystical, instant connection with him. I loved him because I was his mother and that's what mothers do. It just didn't feel at all like I thought it was going to feel like. What I felt was tired, overwhelmed and out of whack.

You don't really understand how exhausted you will be (and stay) until you experience it. Your new bundle of joy is only going to sleep for two hours at a time to begin with. And when he wakes, it won't be to coo contentedly at your side while you doze. He will awaken with demands of food, clean diapers, clean clothes. What that means is, to begin with, you are not going to be getting good, consistent sleep. So, I was tired. And, I cried, because that's what I do when I am really, really tired. Back then, I wondered what was wrong with me. Now I look back and think, "No, duh!"

And, the hormones, Oh, the hormones! They never really explain the HORMONES to you. Not that I think you'd truly understand. Again, it's one of those things that you have to experience in order to understand it. I was all over the place. I never talked to any one about how I was feeling. I wish I had because I am certain I would have be met with much understanding and sympathy. I remember crying every day for no reason I could put my finger on. Looking back, again, "No, duh!"

That was the first three weeks. Then, just like that, I started crying. (Again?) This time, I was crying because in three weeks, I was going to have to leave my little baby boy with a babysitter while I went back to work. I couldn't imagine being separated from him. Little did I know, during the past three weeks of living the life of a zombie, I was forming a connection with my Nathanael. Just like that, I was no longer just a mom. I was Mom.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Being Mom

A lot of what I read, on the various blogs I follow, has to do with being a parent, a mother, a mother of boys. There is such great advice out there, truly. There are also a lot of great anecdotes, stories, teaching and learning moments. I've learned a lot from the other mothers out there in the vast blogosphere. The most important thing I've learned? That I'm not alone!

What I'd like to do over the next several posts, after almost nine years of being a mother, is to give back. Share what I have gained since that summer, ten years ago, when I found out I was going to be a mother. I've learned about being a step-mother, a new mother, a boys mother, a working mother, a mother of two, a stay at home mom, and a mother of two boys. Because, as you other mothers know, it's all different.

It has been a wonderful nine years and I am certain the next nine will be just as wonderful. These two boys have taught me a lot, about being a mom and about who I am. Their love for me amazes me and fills me with such joy! I really do love being their mother! So, stay tuned. I hope you'll enjoy what I have to share because I do feel that it is time for me to give back.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Papier Marie

Remember how I said that I wanted to try doing portraits using papers, book pages, instead of fabric? This is what I meant....

What do you think? I used a page from an old music book for the background, white drawing paper for her flesh and the rest are pages from different books. The illustrations are from a book also. I used red colored pencil, black charcoal pencil and glitter in her hair. I'm probably going to mount her to a sturdier piece of paper because the music sheet is rather delicate.

I'm going to keep exploring this form, but only in addition to the fabric portraits I make. I had fun creating this. Let me know what you think.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Portrait Plans 2012

I've decided to elaborate on my plans and goals for my art in 2012 here, on this blog, instead of the other blog. Just because.

Before I began on the lovely Mademoiselle Marie #3 (FYI, Marie will always be the first portrait of the new year), I thought about the ideas and thoughts and images that have been tickling my brain for the past couple of months. And, I wrote them down. So, in an effort to hold myself more accountable, here they are:

  1. I have been in envisioning a portrait made with paper. Papers, plural. At first, I was thinking of adding color to paper myself, cutting out the shapes and gluing or sewing them together. Then I thought about books. Old books. Different shades of white paper, fading and yellowing. Different fonts, words, typed close together or far apart. So, I want to explore that. I have, actually. Marie was my subject, of course. I'll get her picture up soon.
  2. I want to draw/watercolor paint more. Either the small, ACEO cards or larger portraits or added to my fabric portraits. Or all of those!
  3. I want to work on my back stories more. More involved, more elaborate. Plan out groups of corresponding portraits as a book. (?)
  4. Explore the ACEO's/drawings to greeting card avenue.
  5. Treat each subject as a more complete package by including multiple forms of portraits and a story and whatever.
  6. Plan. Precisely. Who, how and story. Before. Instead of frantically wracking my exhausted brain for a last bit of creative effort when the portrait is finished and I am ready to move on.
  7. I would also like to investigate local and local-ish galleries. I don't know if I am going to do any shows this year.  
  8. And social media. Argh. Ugh. 'nuff said.
As far as subjects are concerned, here's the short list:
  • characters inspired by Charles Dickens as it is his 200th birthday this year.
  • Dark Shadows characters.
  • characters inspired by E. A. Poe. (Yes, I know. These first three take none of you by surprise. Hang in there.)
  • Fairy tales characters- ie. Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White.
  • characters from Alice in Wonderland.
Of course, all of this is subject to change.Or at least be pushed back. After all, you know as soon Halloween fever sets in, all bets are off!

What's next, now that Marie is complete? Well, I think, don't hold me to it, but...I've had Little Red Riding Hood and that fox of hers on my mind lately. Begin the fairy tales!


Monday, January 23, 2012

First Portrait of 2012

Here's what I did this weekend.

Meet Marie #3...

Go here for more Marie!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Outside...So Bake Some Bread!

Cold doesn't quite capture what it feels like here in Michigan. It's freezing out there! So I am baking bread. The first loaves of the year, actually. This way I get to hang out in my warm kitchen surrounded by yummy smells.

Last year was the first time I had ever made bread. I had been kind of scared of baking bread. It just seemed like something that was way beyond me. My mother assured me I had no reason to fear baking bread so finally, last winter, I did it. And, it worked! I made bread! It wasn't scary, it was actually kinda fun. And, relaxing.

What did I learn? One of my concerns was how long it takes to make bread. It is a long process but it isn't that you are constantly working on it for 3 hours. Your actual work time is probably about a half hour. The "long" part is the three periods of waiting: the first rise, the second rise and the baking. During those times I just get on with my day; laundry, lunch, make art, whatever. All while being surround by the smell of bread baking. I also discovered a speedy wheat bread recipe and a beer bread recipe that takes all of an hour to make. Yum!

Another concern was where to put my dough for it to rise. This time of year, in this lovely, old house of mine, there isn't a warm, moist spot to be found. Well, when in doubt, look at your cookbook. I learned that all I needed to do was put a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack in my oven and the dough on the top rack. Moist and warm.

I was also concerned about kneading the dough. How? How long? Again, look in your cookbook. My cookbook has great "tips" on how and why to do different things. Plus, I found that it is true what I've heard about the process of kneading dough. It's very relaxing. And, who doesn't need to be relaxed a little?

If you've never tried making bread, I highly recommend it. There are lots of great recipes out there. It's much less expensive, too. Have you noticed the price of bread? To help tempt you further, here are some pictures:

White Bread recipe in my handy-dandy cooking/baking notebook.

Ingredients gathered.

Dry ingredients.

Wet ingredients, getting very warm.

All together now.

After two rises and ready for the oven.

Fresh from the oven. I brushed the top with butter.

One last look....Isn't it pretty? You should smell it!


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cool Things

I thought I'd do a post of some things I had "discovered" last year that are pretty cool. Some of these "discoveries" might be old news to you but, if not check them out.

***These are in no particular order.

Do you like to mess with your own hair? Do it up? Down? Curled? Straightened? Check out this blog- The Small Things. I kept seeing pictures of her hair on Pinterest and finally decided to check her out. I was hooked instantly! The other day, I trimmed (as in gave myself) my bangs. According to her wonderful and easy instructions. They turned out great! I now plan on growing my hair out a little so that I can start wearing it up, curled, half-up, etc. Who knows? Maybe you'll be treated to the sight of me cleaning out the chicken coop with a lovely up-do goin' on.

Do you like to look at pictures? Of anything? Pinterest. PINTEREST! I resisted signing on for I-don't-know-what reason until this fall. Now I know the reason why I didn't. Everyone says it's addictive. It is! Your life just seems to pass so quickly while on Pinterest. But it's worth it.

Do you like to eat? Sensibly? Go on over to Skinnytaste. First of all, her pictures of food are fantastic! I'm a crazy-picky eater and her pictures make me salivate over foods that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole! Her recipes are yummy and easy to follow. And, she slims it all down! Woo-hoo!

Do you like music? I found iHeart Radio this past Christmas because I was looking for more Christmas music. 24/7, take it with me wherever I go, Christmas music. And, now that Christmas is over? Well the other day I decided to take a closer look. I knew you could make your own station, based on your preferences or you could look for other stations around the country that participate. While stumbling about I came across Weezer Radio. (Tee-hee! All Weezer, all the time, I wondered? Well, not really, but close. Lots of Weezer plus other music that Weezer approves of.) There are all sorts of stations to choose from. It's pretty cool!

Do you like books? Do you read a lot and like to keep track of what you are reading, what you want to read, and what you have read? Check out Goodreads. This is an excellent source for all of that plus; reviews, quizzes, author info, and so on. They even send me a newsletter each month about books by authors I've read that are being released. Joy!

Do you like Jane Austen? Austenprose is the blog for you. All Jane, all the time. And anything Regency England. Or Downton Abbey. See why I like it?

Do you like PBS? Last year brought "Downton Abbey", "Sherlock Holmes" and "Zen". Good stuff! If you haven't seen the first season of any of these, do so. You won't be sorry.

Alright. I think this is enough for now. What did you stumble upon last year?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What I Got For Christmas

...also known as "What's On My Nightstand". Or, "I Should Just Open A Book Store".

My Christmas list usually looks like an inventory wish-list for a small chain book store. I spend November researching authors I read to find out what new books of theirs are out there, waiting for me. Then I make The List.

This is what a received this year...

Not pictured is "A Christmas Homecoming" by Anne Perry, which I read immediately and then loaned to my parents. Also not pictured are two gift cards to Barnes & Noble from my step-sons.

I have also already read "V is for Vengeance" by Sue Grafton, which was fabulous!!! If you have never read this series, like detective fiction and miss the 80's just a wee bit, get these books and read them! The only thing that had me down about reading this is that she only has four books left! W, X, Y, and Z. (When bored, find myself wondering how she will name these books, especially X and Z. I also find myself wondering how I will ever fill the void. Sigh.)

I am currently reading "The Darcy's and the Bingley's" by Marsha Altman. I am enjoying it thoroughly! As a fan of all things Jane Austen, all things Jane Austen-sequel, all things Pride and Prejudice-sequel, all things Regency England, and... you get the idea, I had seen this series in the book store but had yet to make the plunge. I'm glad I did (with Santa Dave's help)! Fun, fun, fun!

The two P.D. James book are a series I have yet to read, also. My mom got them for me (perhaps sensing the void that will soon need to be filled) so that I could try out a new series. And, because she knows that I am a fan of all things murder-that-takes-place-in-England, she thought I might fancy them. (I say "fancy" because I am a fan of all things England.) I believe the first of those two will be next.

As for what to spend my gift cards on, I've got some (too many) ideas.

And, just so you know that I am not alone in my book love, look what Nathanael got for Christmas...

Do you love it? Four books! And, he's already read "Wimpy Kid" and has started on "39 Clues"! I'm so excited to have another reader in the same house with me again. Granted, he's not at the point where he gets panicky if he doesn't have at least 5 books lined up- on his nightstand- to read. But, I'm working on him!

What did you get for Christmas? And, more to the point, what's on your nightstand?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Know what's in this box? 5 lbs. of fiberfil, you say? Don't be silly!

It's patterns. Lots and lots of patterns. Aren't they great?!


I bet if my parents hadn't eloped, my mom's wedding dress would have looked like one of these.

Why don't I start dressing like this when I walk the dog?

Is that Dianna?!?

From 1955!!!

And, there is more where those came from! My mother-in-law is quite handy with needle and thread and, apparently, she used to sew a lot of clothes for people, especially wedding dresses and more formal gowns. I haven't had a chance to really dig through the box yet. When I do, I'm going to put them on the Fabric Marketplace to sell. I'll keep you updated on my progress and discoveries. (Like more Dianna Ross!)


Monday, January 16, 2012

To-Do 2012

It's that time of year again. Time to look at the year ahead of me and make plans for what I'd like to see happen (or not) in 2012.

  1. Lose the holiday weight. I mean really lose it. Like, take it out for a long drive in the country and leave it somewhere in the middle of a field. Lose it and not gain it back again!!!
  2.  Read more. My goal is fifty books this year. 2 1/2 done so far!
  3. Be consistent and finish what I start. In other words, don't start something, work at it sporadically, and never finish it. If I am going to start something (a book, a project, anything), do not start it unless I am sure that I will see it through to the end. Then, after being sure that I will see it to the end, actually see it to the end. I'm all about the journey, folks. Time for a change!
*The specifics concerning the art I make will be laid out (eventually) on my other blog. Stay tuned.
  1. Get my work out there more (blog, social media, galleries, website, etc.) And, however it is I choose to get out there, stick with it, update it, be more consistent with it. And, become a bit more computer savvy (if you will) while I'm at. Join the 21st century, and all.
  2. Update my business plan.
  3. Write an artist statement.
  1. Save money! On groceries and TV/cable, etc. We just got a Roku box and will soon be saying good-bye to our cable. Eek! I'll let you know how it goes.
  2. Make money! (I'll address this in a separate post. It involves Emma's Fabric Marketplace!) 
  1. Garden. Utilize a plot in our neighborhood garden. Plant in the back yard. Plant a fall garden.
  2. Basement. Deal with it once and for all!
  3. Get Asher reading and writing the basics. Perhaps home school preschool?
Alright, I think this is good for now. Wouldn't want to overwhelm myself.;) Basically, if I can master the whole be-consistent-finish-what-I-start part of my to-do list, everything else will fall into place. Right?


Friday, January 13, 2012

January means...

...getting my house back from the Halloween-then-Christmas decorating-pallooza!

As soon as the extended family left for various parts south, I made my way up to the attic to bring down the empty red and green tubs I had taken up there two months earlier. I find cleaning and decorating to be very therapeutic. After the stress of this holiday season, I was really looking forward to tearing apart my house and putting it back together again.

It's been slow going this year. My husband has been sick with a whopper of a cold since the first.Dave almost never gets sick but when he does....It's really thrown him for a loop, poor guy. Now Asher is sick , too. Not as bad as his daddy, thankfully. I also had to check on and clean out my parents apartment. No big deal except Asher doesn't quite understand that Grandma and Grandpa are far away and won't be back for a long time. I was already a bit melancholy, so his questions and confusion really brought us down and made the task a bit trying.

I have almost all of the Christmas decorations packed up and away. Just my room and Nathanael's room are left.As for putting the house back together, well, I'm getting there. The living and dining rooms and kitchen are done. And I put Asher's room back together on Monday. Slowly but surely I'm putting my home back together. And when that's done? Spring cleaning, of course!

Here are some pictures of my progress. The theme? Snow and Hearts!


Counter in the kitchen/dining room.

Counter in kitchen/dining room.
Tray on my dining room table.

Dining room
Living room- where the Christmas tree had been.

Living room
Living room- fireplace mantel

Living room- fireplace mantel
Living room- fireplace mantel

Living room- love, love, love
Living room- love for Jane Austen


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Asher's Birthday...

...was Monday, January 9th. He's a big four year-old now!

Set-up the night before.

The sweet, but crazy, boy doesn't like cake. But he loves powdered donuts!

Monday morning in his p.j.'s.
Blowing out candles.

His interests are typical, boy interests: trains...

more trains...(look at Katie! Cracks. Me. Up.)
and gigantic construction sets.

Happy 4th Birthday, my baby boy!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas 2011

I started the Christmas season wondering how I was going to fit eight people and all of our gifts in my living room on Christmas morning. My two step-sons were going to be joining my parents and my family this year. It was going to be cozy but we'd all fit.

Then I found out that my brother, Christopher would be coming with his girlfriend, Jeannie. Ten people. Cozier but fine.

Then I found out that my niece, Alexis, my nephew, Caleb and Jeannie's daughter, Brianna were coming. Thirteen people.
Thirteen people, a gazillion presents, one tree, a sofa, two chairs and  two, little dogs. Beyond cozy!

Boy, did we have fun! It was loud and a tad chaotic but there was lots of laughter and story-telling. We even had one day of snow so that my brother could take the kids sledding. It really was a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I don't think any of us will ever forget it.

Dave, Asher, Nathanael and me on Christmas Eve.

The Original Four- Dad, Mom, me and Chris on Christmas Eve.

Together again- me and Chris on Christmas Eve.
Caleb, Chris, Alexis, Brianna, Nathanael and Asher on Christmas Eve.

My poor sofa bravely holding up a whole bunch of people!

Christmas Eve. The kids are in bed, the presents are under the tree and Katie looks on!

Christmas Day! Bright and early- a bunch of us scattered about. (Do you see Katie peaking out from behind Asher? That cracks me up!!!)
 I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too!


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