This isn’t smell-o-vision (and yes, apparently that was a real thing), so you’ll have to take my word for it. These hyacinths smell incredible. There may be a dusting of snow on my car this morning, but there are near-70 degree days in the forecast.
An embarrassing number of toddler development books… I mostly have no idea what I am doing… except I believe you’re not supposed to laugh when your toddler’s being fresh. Even when her response to “Why are you standing on the table?” is “Because I’m being a freshie.”
To Kill a Mockingbird (again)
Foo Fighters on Spotify + noise-canceling headphones (this is how I survived getting a crown at the dentist last weekend)
Season 2 of Serial – I keep thinking I am done (I’m still not sure how I feel about this season), but then I get hooked. That Sarah Koenig, man.
The St. Patrick’s Day decorations go up around the neighborhood
We just caught up on Homeland and now I’m morbidly depressed (I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, so I will just say this, I think you-know-who is still alive… which makes me think his or her life is going to be even more miserable going forward. Also, post-partum hormones are real. And TV characters are not. But whatever.)
Election coverage… and now I’m morbidly depressed. And we have months and months and months of this crap to endure.
Baby wearing – I had forgotten how good it feels (and how it magically soothes a little one)
Grace’s newfound love for telling “jokes” (a recent favorite: “Grandpa is your sister! It’s a joke!”)
Extra productive and creative on some days, and like a nearly-expired sloth on others.
An itch to sign up for a race or two or six. Blame the 50 degree weather and a fresh pair of sneaks.
Alright, I’m off to make the most of Leap Day… or as I think of it, an additional 24 hours for everyone to plan an extravagant birthday surprise for me. Just kidding. Also, I kind of hate surprises. Toodles!
What I made this week: A crappy video. Olé! (I’ll embed it below for your viewing pleasure so you can mock me.) I also made some other stuff. Mostly all on the same night. Nick and I caught up on Homeland (by watching 900 episodes), and I was afraid to go to bed since Carrie and Saul’s escapades usually give me ridiculous nightmares.
So I made a bunch of stuff, and then went to bed. And had nightmares about the toxicity of acrylic paint. Whatever, man. Here’s what I made.
This sketchbook goes from subdued (this page) to extra jazzy (everything that follows) very quickly. The quote is from No Mud, No Lotus and the pen is from college. Those things seem to last forever.
Materials used: Sharpie permanent marker, magazine cut-out, the Wall Street Journal, Micron pen (black 01), acrylic paint, glue stick
We recently started receiving someone else’s WSJ. After three calls to their customer service line and just as many promises that delivery would be stopped, it’s still showing up on our door step (and piling up in our building’s lobby).
One of the Get Messy Art Journal program’s recent prompts was street art-inspired, so I used a page of our magically appearing newspaper as a background. I’m quite pleased with the hand lettering and I’m glad I hung onto that random hummingbird cut out (which, I’m fairly certain, came from a car ad).
That’s supposed to say “trembling”… not t-r-e-m-f-l-i-n-g. The b looks like an f… and I meant to fix it, but forgot. Anyway, you get the point.
The right hand page is another Get Messy-inspired page. I loved scrolling through Instagram to see how everyone else used that same quote (hi, Julia). And I love cutting up my sketchbook a bit so other pages peek through.
On the flip side, a great quote about happiness and and door… and some of the coral acrylic paint that I accidentally spilled all over my palette, thus necessitating I use far more of it than planned. (I sort of wish I had spilled the sky blue instead… can’t win ’em all.) Plus a bunch of windows… and a door.
Materials used: [Left side] Handmade Modern acrylic paint (platinum, from Target), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes (moved around the page with a paper straw), Uni Posca paint pen (black); [Right side] Winsor and Newton watercolor paint (black), acrylic paint, Gelly Roll pen (white)
Some brain wave-ish watercolors, a “good ideas” light bulb and more cut pages.
Materials used: [Left side] All pink everything… Winsor and Newton pigment markers, Sakura Koi brush pens, Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen, acrylic paint, watercolor paint; [Right side] Grey acrylic paint, paper scraps (cut into cone flower shapes), white Gelly Roll pen, glue stick
Materials used: Gel printing plate, acrylic paint, string, cardstock circle, gold leaf, Uni Posca paint pen (yellow), Micron (purple, 01… I think).
Lastly, I’m finally starting to get a hang of my Gelli plate (used for making mono prints). I’ve had one for ages, but never liked anything I made with it. I think I was over-thinking the process… which is kind of how I roll.
I really like these two pages though. I added a bit of leftover gold leaf and some doodling to make the circle look more like the moon.
Paper to Petal: 75 Whimsical Flower Ideas to Craft By Hand by Rebecca Thuss // I’m not crafting anything whimsical by hand at the moment… but this book is a great visual reference for a painting class I am taking (Pam Garrison’s Painting Petals class)
Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoea by Michael Arndt // This book is incredibly clever.
Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale // Grace really likes the illustrations in this one, and I like the little reference guide at the back. Apparently the real, common name for pufferfish is… pufferfish. And they’re poisonous.
The Plant Recipe Book by Baylor Chapman // I own the Flower Recipe Book (and love it), so I thought I’d borrow the plant version from the library. I like this one mostly because I am pretending that a. It’s not winter, and b. I can keep plants alive for more than a week. Like Paper to Petal, this is a great reference for painting.
Anything in the Peas series by Keith Baker // Grace’s cousins got her one of these books for Christmas and we’ve been hooked on the whole series. Just last week I caught Grace “reading” to Clark, “We are peas! Alphabet peas! We work and play in the A-B-Cs!”
I stumbled upon an entire child development section in the children’s library at our local branch in Southie. It’s skewed a bit older than our children, but I could see it being really helpful in the future (there were a lot of books about helping your children succeed in school, etc.).
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee // I tried to finish Go Set a Watchman, but I just couldn’t hang. And I sort of feel like maybe it shouldn’t have been published, especially if it wasn’t intended to be published. Starting it made me want to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird (one of the very few books I can stand to re-read), though. So, so good.
Cleary I don’t read much in the way of normal and grown-up books anymore… but hey. I know a tiny bit more about pufferfish. So, there’s that.
I’ve gotten so used to connecting (like, not in a creepy way) with people online that comments, pins, “likes”, whatever those heart things on Periscope are called and emails to/from strangers seem normal.
If, a month ago, you suggested I start sending and receiving actual mail from strangers, though… I would have assumed you were trying to have me murdered. Or added to some sort of watch list. We all know I have an active imagination.
I stumbled upon Postcrossing a few weeks ago, though, and my curiosity trumped my suspicion, so I signed up and headed promptly to the post office for some global forever stamps.
Side note: Did you know global forever stamps were a thing? I spent entire days of my working life in line at the post office (not an exaggeration… and, on second thought, I am probably already on various government lists because of those days) trying to get mail to various corners of the globe and I had no idea. Also, I love the post office. I just do.
Postcards from… people I don’t know.
Postcrossing is a free community that connects (hopefully normal non-muderous) people all over the globe with the goal of sending and receiving postcards. When you join, you request your first recipient’s address and send a postcard to that person. As soon as your postcard is received, your name and address are given to another member and the cycle continues.
In just a few weeks, I’ve sent eight postcards and received four. Each postcard has a unique registration code, and the site tracks how far your cards have traveled, how long each traveled for, and other interesting stats. I’m not really a numbers person, but love checking my personal map.
Who knows what (if anything) I’ll do with them, but for now I’m keeping the postcards on a little binder-ring-thing.
So far, I’ve sent postcards to
And received postcards from
I like reading about people’s lives (what people choose to write about really varies) and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of coming up with something interesting to share about my own life. Postcrossing is sort of like a low-commitment (you only request an address when you’re ready or want to send a postcard) grown-up pen pal thing. You can learn more here.
Projects like this help make the world feel a bit friendlier than the news would lead us to believe. Plus, it’s really nice to have something other than my next door neighbor’s Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon in the mailbox.
I think I skipped a week. I think no one cares. Let’s move on.
Last week was the final week of the Mama Beasts’ winter challenge and I’m sort of disappointed that it’s over. I think I’m going to start giving myself imaginary points for workouts, non-Cheeze-Its dinners and routine “me” time. Points are weirdly motivating.
They also distract (sort of) from the actual work — the past few weeks flew by and I’m left with some pretty solid good habits. Like eating breakfast. And staying tuned in during workouts at home. And being a bit more mindful of my tendency to snack when stressed.
Last week’s workouts | 003
Monday: The Name Game – Class was canceled due to snow, so we were given a “name game” workout to complete at home. Each letter of the alphabet had a corresponding number and exercise (for example, E = 50 squats). There were extra points awarded for completing your first, middle and last name… I got through E-L-I and considered whether or not I could legally change my name to Eli Smith… or something even a letter or two shorter than my ridiculously long name. When it was all said and done (I broke it up over the course of the day and it took me until almost 10 PM to finish), I completed:
25 power burpees
90 second wall sit
50 biceps curls
100 high knees
90 second high plank
90 second low plank
300 mountain climbers
50 plank jacks
50 triceps extensions
900 swear words
You could easily come up with your own “name game” workout and use random (or not so random) words instead of names. I’m definitely holding onto this one for future use.
Tuesday: Plyo pyramid (another at-home workout)
Wednesday: Class with Mama Beasts
Thursday: Yoga (Happy Hips + Hearts flow from OneOEight.tv), “Booty Burner Pyramid” from a past MB challenge
Friday: Class with Mama Beasts; Class (and the challenge) ended with a Beep Test (it has a bunch of other names — more details here thanks to the Internet). This was my first time running a beep test and admittedly, had no idea what was going on… so I am looking forward to redeeming myself at the next opportunity. Also, I downloaded a beep test app and fully intend to train under the cover of darkness in our driveway. Or whatever.
Saturday + Sunday: Rest (I think I was still sore from the name game).
This week I accomplished a whole lot of half-things. Which is to say, I started a lot, but finished a little. I feel like I’ve been washing the same load of laundry for a month. And I’ve been reading the same paragraph of the same book for just as long (incidentally, it’s a very good paragraph and a very good book). I don’t get much done these days.
I leave a trail of unfinished thoughts, ideas, sentences, bowls of cereal, and yes… piles of laundry in my wake. On the best of days, it’s sort of funny. On the worst of days, it’s sort of demoralizing. I feel like someone who doesn’t follow through. Someone who is unreliable. Someone who can’t be counted on.
And then I (mostly) get a grip.
When Grace was a newborn, I remember how much it helped to accomplish one thing a day. Sometimes that was taking a shower, sometimes it was a trip to the library. As time passed, we were able to accomplish more, but even the tiniest accomplishments went a long way towards building my confidence as a new mom.
So I am reminded to both keep trying and to manage my expectations. And to not start so many things that can’t be finished.
This part of life is crazy, but it’s also really short. And there is so much that is never finished. The big things, like the work and joy of being a parent.
This is turning into something waaaay more emo than I intended. Sorry. Here’s what I made. Or, more accurately, what I started making.
What I made | 002
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Winsor and Newton drawing ink (974 white), Royal Taklon brush (round 7), Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbook (11 in. x 14 in.).
The new season of the Get Messy Art Journal (click to join or learn more!) just started and the theme is happiness. Much of what I made this week is inspired by the first set of prompts (thanks, Julia!), including this painting of the sky. I love looking up (literally and, like, figuratively) and I love that Grace has taken to pointing out the moon and stars as soon as she spots them.
So I guess the sky counts as my “happy place,” or one of them, at least. Few things make me happier than a clear, star-filled sky. I don’t however, like to think about what’s beyond those stars. Outer space totally freaks me out. And don’t even start with me about aliens.
Materials used: Posca paint pen (grey), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Winsor and Newton gouache, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbooks (11 in. x 14 in. and 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.).
“Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”
Materials used: Sakura gelly roll pen (black), Handmade Modern acrylic paint from Target, Golden high flow acrylic paint (I mixed a few shades to get his pale robin’s egg-ish blue), Strathmore 400 series bound sketchbook (8.5 in. x 5.5 in.).
These coneflowers (a.k.a. echinacea) are one of my favorite things to draw from memory. And I love Thomas Merton. And order (or some resemblance of order) definitely contributes to my happiness. I’m hoping to finish up the lettering on that page sometime this week this century.
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, sea salt (it creates a fun effect with wet watercolors), Micron pen (black 01), black gesso, a cardboard box and x-acto knife (to make the bird stencil).
One of my favorite parts of the Get Messy program is the weekly tutorials shared by members. This week, Vanessa shared tips on making your own stencils. I got really fancy resourceful and cut these hawks out of an empty Cheerios box. The quote is another one from No Mud, No Lotus:
“The French have a song they like to sing, “Qu’est-ce qu’on attend pour être heureux?” (What are you waiting for in order to be happy?) You can be happy right here and right now.”
I don’t particularly like how this page turned out, so I will likely turn it into something else. Or (let’s be serious) trash it.
Materials used: Posca paint pen (black), 900 different acrylic paints, white gesso, Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbooks (11 in. x 14 in.), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor paint (Opera Rose).
I had an idea about where I wanted this to go. And then I got carried away. Thank goodness for gesso. I like that you can almost see all the ridiculous flowers I painted, and that their full ridiculousness is obscured by a wash of gesso.
This has “work in progress” written all over it.
Materials used: Everything I own that is both pink and an art supply. (I can provide specifics if you’re really interested, but…)
I saved the most pink and the most finished piece for last. I sort of love how this turned out. It makes me happy. And what more could you ask for?
Last week, I treated myself to an in-the-house only yoga mat (my other mat has spent some time outdoors, on the beach, and being run over by toddlers wielding doll strollers). It only took one unrolling for Grace to claim it as her own. She told me she’d share it with me and then demanded I do squats and “exercise with my feet.” Lord, help me.
I do appreciate that I am able to workout with both children at my side, as challenging as that can be at times. I want them to see exercise as an opportunity to care for themselves. I want them to feel strong, capable and proud of themselves and their bodies.
And hopefully, down the road, they’ll have a much better understanding of how those bodies work. For instance: They will know that before they were born, our belly buttons were not connected to one another by an umbilical cord (a fact I came to grasp just weeks before Grace was born… so that was special).
Anatomy aside, here are last week’s workouts. (I’m including FitBit stats this week for the heck of it).
Last week’s workouts | 002
Monday: Class with Mama Beasts // FitBit: 16,065 steps, 6.71 miles
Tuesday: At home workout (for our Mama Beasts challenge) // FitBit: 12,121 steps, 5.06 miles
Wednesday: Class with Mama Beasts // FitBit: 11,517 steps, 4.81 miles
Thursday: Yoga and a little time playing around with my Stretch Deck (a great, portable reference for people who know they need to stretch, but are too lazy/tired to put much thought into a routine). I signed up for a free trial with OneOEight and have been loving their online yoga classes and guided meditations. You can select classes based on length, vibe, etc. // FitBit: 10,048 steps, 4.2 miles
Friday: More yoga. // FitBit: 10,056 steps, 4.2 miles
Saturday: At home tabata workout (for our Mama Beasts challenge) // FitBit: 7,073 steps, 2.97 miles