Friday, November 29, 2013

Ask Away Friday: Week 17

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Recently I connected with a new kindred spirit miles away in Iowa. I met Sarah through our fabulous Friday question sessions and instantly related to her in lots of way. She's the mom of two adorable girls and makes adorable tutus (even sports themed!) for little girls at Baby Bears Tutu. We're new BFFs. Go say hello at codyandsarahlomholt.blogspot.com!


1.  You seem like you have a super fun and silly personality, have you ever played a joke on someone, like a really really good one?
Why thank you! I'm not much of a prankster on my own, but my girlfriends and I cooked up some really good ones for each other in college. Five of us shared a two apartment house. We would rearrange each others bedrooms and entire apartments just for fun. My friend Jackie is a bit OCD so we would either completely mess up her room (we would always help her clean it again) or just move small things in the slightest way and see how long it would take her to notice (usually all of 5 minutes tops) Here's a shot of me and the girls during one of our many backyard parties at Rutgers. We're missing Sharon who also lived upstairs, and Tone (far right) didn't actually live with us, but she was always there so we called her the honorary roomie. Christin (in the middle) I written about many times. She passed away in 2009. We all grew up together, went to high school together and then ended up at Rutgers together our junior year. Love these girls. 

Left 2003 and right 2010
2.  So we are both mothers of 2 girls.  What is one of your favorite things to buy for them?
I love buying anything for them! Violet's little face lights up when anyone gives her something. She is so easy to please and it's so fun witnessing that joy. I really enjoy buying them clothes, like most mamas. I love the cute little dresses and now that Violet is a bit older it's fun to dress her in cute little get-ups to go to school. She's such a girly girl and loves wearing cute outfits (when she'll actually let me get her dressed) but she's also an adorable mess. A tangle of long hair, hands covered in marker or paint, food in the corners of her mouth- most of the time a brand new outfit will acquire 1 or 2 stains by the end of the day.

3.  You do some amazing artwork, will you come to my house and do it?  Teasing, kinda.  But the real question is what is your inspiration for all you're amazing work?
I think it's just beauty that inspires me. I don't tend to make statements with my artwork or try and convey the depths of my soul, I really just pick color schemes that seem harmonious, add some texture with a mixture of the feminine and masculine, some lace, leather, burlap, satin, snakeskin...whatever I can. I've always undervalued my work because it doesn't represent some mind altering statement. After 4 years of art school I was constantly asked to interpret and analyze and eventually after one too many critiques I felt like screaming, "No! I am not commenting on gender biases or world peace, I just did that because it looked cool!" In the end I create the type of art that I enjoy because I do it  for myself. If others can take it for what it is and still appreciate it, then even better!

4.  Now onto some just serious random questions.  Are you right or left handed?
I'm a righty.

5.  Are you scared of spiders?
Not really. I will kill one, or scoop one up on a piece of paper and throw it outside (usually at school) Spiders on the ceiling give me the heebies though and I think a spider in the car is perhaps the most hazardous circumstance to encounter. I might be able to deal with them, but I will go in to spasms like Ace Ventura if I think there's one crawling on me.

6.  I like jeans, sweaters, boots and scarves. What's your style like?  Like what is something you are most comfortable in?
If I'm going super casual I am all about jeans and a hoodie, but there's not much style in that (though Ill usually add a scarf and a pair of earrings.) If I'm going out or too work, I love a cotton dress, boots and leggings or tights with a cardigan or light jacket. Something like this with a bit more color. Add some bangles, a long necklace and some earrings too... I actually made an example of my perfect fall outfit here: My Fall Fashion
Source
7. If you could meet a famous person (writer, singer, actor) who would it be?
I've talked before about how I've always wanted to meet Walt Disney, so he's at the top of my list. I would love to meet Jason Mraz too. He seems so chill and sweet (he's also super cute.)
Source
8.  What is your favorite restaurant?
I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with an answer for this one that isn't some boring old chain restaurant. This question should not be a mind bender in any way, but I really like going out to eat and have many favorite places to go depending on the location and time of year so allow me to list a few: For a basic, any night out I like Houlihans. It's a chain, most of which are in Jersey, but I just looked it up and there is one in Dubuque, Iowa! They have awesome buffalo wings... If it's a special occasion I will usually choose to go to The Melting Pot for some fondue or head to the Cheesecake Factory for some sinfully delicious (and totally terrible for you) food. If it's summertime, anywhere with outdoor seating is high on my list and I'm not really in to Italian. I know <gasp> My Italian grandma never quite understood my distaste for pasta with red sauce. I'll eat it, but Ill never pick it off a menu.

9.  Do you love or hate Harry Potter. ;)
I really like Harry Potter, but never read the books. I've seen all the movies though and I think they're beautiful and so creative.

10.  Chocolate or vanilla ice cream?
Chocolate all the way!

That's it for this installment of Ask Away Friday! Don't forget to swing by Sarah's blog and check out her answers to the questions I asked her! She co-hosting the link up this week too, so while you're there you can check out the links to all the other fab participants.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest Post From Val @ Chicken Scratch'd

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I am so excited to introduce you to my girl Val who whipped up an awesome, craftylicious guest post for me this week. If you haven't stopped by her site Chicken Scratch, take a minute and say hello, you will be really glad you did. This mama is hilarious and super creative. You can also check out her handmade shop on Etsy where she crafts all sorts of fashion for women and little ones with beautiful fabric rosettes and frills: Chicken Scratch'd Designs- I'm actually heading over to buy something right now! (It may honestly be more than 1 thing though...)


First off, I want to say !!!THANKS Megan!!! for having me over here today at The Patchwork Paisley.  I'm thrilled to be here sharing one of my very favorite DIY projects to do! 


Ok so here is the deal. I LOVE spray paint. I also LOVE old/vintage/one-of-a-kind type items. However, I'm not a big spender when it comes to decor and accent pieces for my home. So with that said, I feel like my friends and family ask me all the time how I refab the furniture and decor pieces that my home is covered in.  Today I'm going to share my tips and techniques. **I will warn you that the end result of my project is likely NOT what you will be going for since I was was up-cycling goodwill frames for part of my booth display for my accessory brand Chicken Scratch'd Designs at a holiday market. But I still think you will find the process helpful…
 I hit up Goodwill on the first Saturday of last month because its 50% off  ( I know Goodwill is cheap but honestly, sometimes frames can still be a little pricey... especially since you are just going to paint them.) I found some great gold frames in perfect condition. I think I ended up paying 2 dollars a frame. 


Lets Get Started:
All I do to prep frames for paint is a good wipe down cleaning with soap and water, and obviously removing the glass/back. 
Select your paint. I always use spray paint for two reasons:
1. I'm obsessed with spray paint ...
2. More importantly, it will give you a smooth even paint job with no brush strokes.
ALWAYS paint the back of the frame first. ALWAYS. If you do the front first your risk paint running/dripping down to the front when you do the back and even worse the front could stick to whatever you have them laying on, causing marks/peeling/smudges.
I'm crazy impatient and generally don't wait a whole day between sides but I would strongly advise you to put on your patient pants and try to break this up into a two day paint job to ensure no sticky smudges and let the paint harden before handling. 
* A great general rule for spray paint ( and hair spray!!! --  I used to be a hairstylist...) is the length of the can is how far away from object/hair you should be holding the can when you are spraying. Any closer is too close and will give you too heavy of an application. Continuous even strokes until you have your object coated. Again, be patient. You might need to step away and come back for a second coat.


Enough about paint…
Next step is the distressing. This is the part that I think scares people. I promise this is easy though. Just remember these are CHEAP goodwill frames so if you "screw them up" it really isn't  a huge loss…and honestly you can just re-paint and start over.
For sanding I personally enjoy a sanding block, shown below, rather than sand paper. It is just much easier to grip and hold on to. I feel like I have way better control.


The key to the sanding is using common sense. If these were old and laying around the most wear and tear would be around the corners and highest raised edges, right? So that's the main areas you want to sand. If you are OCD, this part will be painful, but try your hardest to not make it symmetrical! For instance, I usually don't distress all 4 corners. One may have just the slightest hint of distressing or not even at all but the other three will be heavily distressed…or sometimes only two are really distressed.  Try to sand in different directions and for different lengths along the edge so that its imperfect from one spot to another. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to make it "match" or over thinking it. Never sand along the entire edge. It would be very unlikely that the entire side is worn down. My photos below show the gold showing through in the spots I distressed. Notice how inconsistent it is. 





Once you think you are finished sanding step back. Look at them from a distance. This is a good rule for any creative project. Sometimes you need to just step away and get a different perspective. Not until I do this can I truly determine if my sanding is done and "right". You may even need to completely leave the project alone and come back later on or the next day to clear your head/eyes to really see your work. Usually, once I step back, I find spots that I need to sand down to make more underlying color show to distinguish that corner or edge more. Trust your gut!
Lastly, wipe down and spray with clear gloss spray paint to seal. This will prevent further distressing….or if you are like me, don't gloss at all. I often don't gloss because I don't mind things getting more and more scratched and distressed. It's your choice. 
Find some fun artwork or photos to place back inside. Make them your own! Or in my case, I used them to display my necklaces and headbands at a local handmade vintage market! (which you can do too!…just get rid of the glass, add some hooks on the back and hang them in your closet to drape your necklaces on too!)


{See something you like??? Think stocking stuffers!! }


Happy DIY- Painting & Distressing!!!!!!!!
xoxo, 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holiday Polish Swap

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I participated in my first blogger swap this month! After some gentle convincing from some of my blogger BFFs I decided to give it a go. I was a little worried I wouldn't remember to send everything on time, but I put my big girl pants on and mailed a pretty sparkly polish out to my partner, Ashley in Kansas who blogs over at The Ramblin Rooster

She wanted sparkly and I fell in love with the coppers, golds and teals in this OPI polish "The Living Daylights." It has a clear base, so it looks pretty over lots of base colors or by itself! I sent it along with a card I made and eagerly anticipated the arrival of my polish!

Here it is!



Just in time for the holidays and would you believe I don't actually own red nail polish? I love Essie too. I wish I could show you a picture of it on my nails, but there are two reason that has yet to happen... For one, Violet ganked it the second she saw it and demanded that we paint her nails. I was all set to paint them too, until she decided she wanted Daddy to do it.

yeah.

The did not go over too well. John being the amazing Daddy that he is agreed to give it a go. He thought he did pretty good too, but when she showed me them I couldn't hide my dismay (more like complete and utter shock and terror.) It was pretty atrocious. Poor Vi noticed my reaction, but wouldn't let me fix them, so off to school she went all week long looking like she painted her own nails in the back of a school bus. Luckily the polish eventually wore off her skin, so what's left is on her nails and not much at that. 



I'll try it out soon on my own, but unfortunately with the stress of going back to work last week, my nails have caught the brunt of it (ie: I bit them all down...terrible habit I know.)
Even when they are long they usually look like this:



Covered in various art materials. Pretty huh?

SO- I will be making a conscious effort to relieve my stress in other ways so that my nails can grow and I can put that pretty polish to good use! Thanks Ashley and thanks to our hostesses Dean, Penny, Courtney, and Amanda for convincing me to participate- I'll definitely do it again. Click on any of their names to be brought to the link up and check out all the reveals from those of us who participated!



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ask Away Friday: Week 16

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It's Friday!!! Ever since the days of TGIF when Friday night meant Full House and Steve Urkel, I loved me some Friday. Now I have something else to look forward to- #AskAwayFriday!

This week I partnered with Rea from REAlity Bites where she blogs about being a young mom and wife to a husband she is madly in love with and her life in the Philippines. Rea is a real sweetheart and I hope you'll head over to her site to get to know her a little better through 10 questions I asked her (including my signature "dump, hump, marry")




1. If you're given the chance to judge an international beauty pageant like Ms. Universe or Ms. World, what are the top 3 questions that you would love to ask the candidates?
Hmmm...how about:
- As a role model to girls around the world, what do you think are the best qualities to demonstrate to impressionable young women? 
- Bullying is a rapidly growing problem in the US and internationally. How would you use your position as Ms. Universe to aid in the fight against bullying?
- As a pageant contestant you are presented at your very best from all angles. Tell us about a time that you were less than your best.
 
2. You are required to give up one important and precious tangible thing that you own to a stranger. What would it be and why? 
Most of the things I have that are precious to me are intangible or would be useless to a stranger (like pictures of myself and my family etc.) If I were actually giving things of mine away with the intention of someone else making use of it though, I would want it to be something that could bring them joy, so I picture myself putting together a basket of art supplies. All sorts of fun stuff that could inspire the recipient to create something and enjoy the process (hopefully as much as I do!)
 

3. If you could only have one piece of furniture or appliance in your home for your entire life, what would you choose to be there and why?
 Probably my couch. You can eat dinner on the couch (sadly we often do) sleep on it, relax etc. I can live without a dishwasher, and could even deal with hand washing and air drying laundry. I'd even rather have my couch than my refrigerator! I'm ok with eating out or non-refrigerated. 

4. I know that you're an artist and your artwork is really fascinating. Given the unlimited money and space, what painting of a famous painter will you add to your bedroom?
For being an artist, I have never been much in to art history. I like a lot of art, but would never fancy myself a collector. Even if I did hit the jackpot, buying an original piece of artwork would probably be last on my to-buy list. BUT if I were choosing one I would probably opt for an original Normal Rockwell, like After the Prom. I love the American wholesome, suburban innocence his artwork conveys. It reminds me of being little and seeing life in hues of Rockwellian pastel. It also reminds me of the house I grew up in. It vividly captures memories of my own childhood because my parents had a print of it hanging in the basement where we spent countless hours with friends playing pool, watching movies and being teenagers.
Source

5. If you are to be in a reality tv show, which one would you be on and why? 
I would be on HGTV design star. I am so obsessed with interior decoration and have envisioned myself right along with the contestants from my favorite spot on the couch, critiquing paint choices and imaging what I would do with my own white box challenge. 

6. If you're not a middle school teacher, what work or profession would you be in today?
I have kinda always wanted to be a window dresser! The thought of someone giving me an arsenal of craft materials and creative licensure to figure out the best way to display a product to make passerbys stop and stare, it makes my toes curl. Just call me Hollywood.
source

Remember Mannequin?
Love that movie.
7. What is the kindest act that a student has ever done to you?
My students do sweet things every day (they also do sneaky, whiney, emotional things, but...) I have a student who comes 2-3 times a week at lunch and just does odd jobs around the room. She is a sweetheart and I really appreciate all her help. She hand made little bows for Vi and Ruby and stitched their names in them, then gave them to me when I left for maternity leave.


8. FEELER, THINKER, CONTROLLER, or ENTERTAINER: Which of these personality types do you usually project when in front of your students?
So, I had to look up these personality types after I decided which one I thought I was (the feeler.)

source:

"Four different personality profiles

The best way to understand each one is to consider how they’re perceived at their best (on a good day when all’s running to plan) and worst.
  • Feeler: Considerate, loyal and sincere, which could be seen as indecisive and over-involved at times.
  • Entertainer: Charismatic, optimistic and humorous, which could sometimes come across as self-centred and sarcastic.
  • Controller: Business-like, direct, decisive, but could be seen as dictatorial and intimidating.
  • Thinker: Logical, detailed and calm, seen by some as unimaginative and stubborn."

I am definitely a feeler as a teacher and in life. One thing I do 100% with my kids is be completely and totally myself. I laugh at silly things I say (and they say,) admit my mistakes, misspell words (or ask them how to spell something) and get excited about the prospect of what they can create in my room each day.

9. How did motherhood change your life? 
Motherhood has completely and totally altered the fiber of my being (to put it lightly.) I am never prepared for the complete and utter, punch-you-in-the-gut and cry happy tears love that comes over me on a daily basis while I'm interacting with my daughters. Sometimes I still feel like the same teenage girl shooting pool in the basement, and I'm like- woah, I have children of my own. I am the caretaker, not the one being taken care of. My parent's still take care of their babies any way they can. They're so full of love and now I get to pass their love on.
10. What is the best life lesson that you've learned from your husband so far?
John is starting to teach me that it is possible to be happy with what you have. Not that I have any reason not to be, but we're always setting goals and pushing ourselves to get more, be more, see more, know more...sometimes it's ok to take a break and just be glad.


 Thanks so much for taking the time to get to know me a bit better! Don't forget to stop by and meet Rea at REAlity Bites then swing over to The Real Housewife of Caroline County to see what Penny has cookin and check out the other bloggers Asking Away this Friday!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ask Away Friday: Week 15

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When I first started working on making The Patchwork Paisley what it is today just a few short months ago, I explored the SITS girls Forum. There were some great, experienced bloggers willing to chat with newbies and give a few words of wisdom, but I felt a bit overwhelmed and intimidated by them despite their kindness. I began chatting with two other newbies and we came to the conclusion that it would be cool to create our own little e-gathering spot to troubleshoot, support and ask some of the questions that we maybe felt too self-conscious to address to a seasoned pro. We took this idea and formed The Newbie Blogging Support and Share group on Facebook, or as we like to call ourselves, "the newbs." My friend Chelsea @ Directionless Mom was of those two women, along with Shauna at Momma Candy (who I will eventually be harassing to join me for a future edition of #AskAwayFriday...) and I am so excited to have Chelsea join in for Ask Away Friday this week.

When we met, me were both pregnant with our second child due within weeks of each other and instantly bonded over learning the ropes of blogging and motherhood times two. Now you get a chance to get to know even more (is there anything else at this point?) about me in our 15th installment (!) of Ask Away Friday through 10 questions...




1.) What is your guilty pleasure music? What band or artist do you secretly sing along to in your car? 
Well, I've already blatantly admitted that I embrace my childhood boy band obsession with the Backstreet Boys (I watched that movie "This is the End" last night and practically squealed at the BSB cameo...) Somehow I think I'm less ashamed of liking them than I am of the fact that I was blasting Taylot Swift's "Red" in the car on the way to work this morning...I vacillate between finding her adorable and agitating as all get out.



2.) If you could go back in time and meet any person in history, who would it be, and why?
I need to really sit down and think about this one. I have a go to answer that always pops in to my head with this question and it's Walt Disney. I find him to be pretty fascinating and he is the ultimate visionary. Still, I think if I give it more thought I will come up with someone else that I would really hate to miss the chance to meet should the opportunity ever arise (time machine anyone?)

3.) What's the first thing you notice about people?
I tend to notice their overall style. Probably because I wear my clothes like a billboard expressing exactly who I am, so I'm always interested to meet others who do the same or get to know the person behind a look that doesn't advertise the way I do. It's kind of like a game. Do the insides match the packaging? 

4.) I know that you're a teacher so I think this question would be great to ask you. What do you think we could do to best improve the education system?
I am a firm believer that teaching students to a test and making everything about numbers is useless. I work in a school full of amazing teachers who are being forced to cram everything they teach in to a predetermined box, backed up by numbers and statistics. It is sucking the life and joy out of a profession that is shaping the leaders of our future world. It is really magical to watch (and even more so to be) a teacher in their element, teaching something they're passionate about to a room full of students who are thoroughly engaged. I see it every single day, but it is starting to drown in paperwork and accusations with the teacher's taking all the responsibility and very little being expected of the parent and kids themselves. It's not everywhere, or every parent or every student, but it's a lot more common than it used to be and it's a problem.
Source
5.) What has been your biggest accomplishment since you started blogging? How did you get there?
Last month I hit 10,000 pageviews and I was really excited about that. Especially because it happened in a 3 months span after about a year of slowly creeping toward 300 total pageviews. It was nice way to see the result of the hard work I was doing making connections on Twitter (and learning to use it at all), linking up to blog hops and forming relationships with other bloggers who have now become faithful readers and amazing friends. I would love to be able to saw that I've been getting to work with awesome brands or amazing sponsorships, but that hasn't really happened yet because I haven't had the time to devote to it unfortunately. Still, I find some of the smaller, more personal accomplishments to be pretty rewarding, like some of my friends and family who have read my blog complimented me on my writing. Despite countless journals and have finished stories, I've never fancied myself a writer, but lately I've realized how much I enjoy it and it's nice to know I can connect with someone in writing through more than a text message or email.


6.) The earth is going to end in one week and you have a free pass to do 3 things you've always wanted to, what are they?
I would rent a giant RV and spend all my money on a trip across country with my loved ones visiting all the places I've always to see. There would be boat rentals and hot air balloon rides...and food. Lots of food.

7.) You have two adorable girls, but if you had a boy, what would his name be?
We always knew that if we had a boy his middle name would be Austin. It's John's fathers and brother's name and it's his middle name. We have this thing about one syllable first names and two syllable nicknames, or vice versa. That's just the way it has to be (Violet Bow, Ruby Jean...) Dean was the boy name we had picked out for a while, but before we knew we were having Ruby we also started liking the name Grant, so if we had a boy it would either be Dean Austin or Grant Austin. 

8.) I just recently read the book "The Mother of All Meltdowns" and did a review on it and it got me thinking. What was your worst mommy meltdown?
I don't think I can recall one giant mommy meltdown I had, but instead multiple weekly mini meltdowns. Every once in a while my messy old house that is falling apart around me with no handyman (or money for one) in sight, I feel like walking out the door, going to the airport and boarding a flight for Bora Bora for a week. At least this way after I let the sun sink it I would

9.) You live up north in Jersey and I live in the deep south in Alabama. We switch states for a month. What are you most looking forward to experiencing in the south? And what are you least looking forward to? (No hillbilly jokes! LOL!)
I' never actually been down down south but have often felt like I belonged there. I love me some bluegrass and wide open spaces. To me happiness is some drinks around a campfire and a few tunes on the ol' gee-tar. Plus I love me some southern hospitality a nice drawl. I think I would miss having malls, stores and restaurants at my fingertips though.

10.) The Holidays are coming up. What is your absolute favorite Christmas tradition in your household?
I'm looking forward to going to pick up and decorate the tree with the girls and John. Elf on a Shelf should be fun this year too now that Vi is a bit older and Christmas Eve at my parent's house is probably one of my favorite nights of the year. There is something that is so indescribably comfortable about being at your parent's house and at Christmas with the fireplace lit and our old childhood stocking hung, there is nothing better.



















That's it for my questions from Chelsea this week! Don't forget to stop by The Real Housewives of Caroline County and say hello to my girl Penny, then check out the link up with some of the other awesome bloggers participating this week!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest Post: Staying Creative as a Working Mom

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It has been a crazy week! I went back to work and am now balancing my new-found love of blogging with working as a full-time, middle school art teacher, while trying to maintain my sanity at home with the hubster and my girls. Luckily, I have some really great blogging friends who have volunteered to do some guest spots while I figure out how to balance it all. So without further ado, please read on and get to know my friend Beth as she write about something extremely close to my heart, finding time to stay creative as a working mom! 


Staying Creative in the 
Midst of Working Mommyhood 

 I used to think of myself as fairly creative. Not in the artistic way, but in the crafty way. My scrapbooks were great. I had cute baskets and bins for organizing everything. I had great ideas. Then I had kids. For a while, I completely lost my creative flow. I felt like simply getting through a day filled with kids and work and cooking and cleaning took all of the energy I had in me. And I felt like an outlet I needed was slowly disappearing. The last couple years, I’ve begun to get my creative mojo back. While it is different than it was before, so is my life, so it just seems fitting. I do less scrapbooking, far less organizing, but a lot more writing and creating images to go with my words. My life is just as busy as it was before, probably even more so, but I have found a few strategies that help me stay creative in the middle of my mommy life.
  • I take advantage of small moments. I used to feel like I had to wait until I had a block of an hour or two to work on my writing or my blog. And then that chunk of time never happened. Now I look for the small moments where I can fit little tasks in. While I’m waiting in the pick-up line, I might create an image using a photography app on my phone. I also use the notes app on my phone to type in ideas for posts before I lose them. And I always have a notebook and pencil with me to work on outlining a post if I find a few unexpected minutes here or there.
  • I mix it up. I often move to somewhere different in my house to write, just to mix things up. I might sit at the island in the kitchen, or move to the rocking chair in the living room instead of the couch. I handwrite an outline for most of my posts because moving away from the computer helps me to switch gears and focus on writing, rather than the million other things in my browser tabs.
  • I use the challenges as inspiration. I’ve gotten good at writing about routines because I had to create some around my house before I lost my mind. The morning and afterschool time were driving me insane. Instead of wallowing in it, I used it as a challenge to my creativity. Likewise, I created my own planner because I needed to keep my personal life, family life, work life, and blogging life organized. I couldn’t find something that worked for everything, so I took it as a challenge and I created my own.
  • I stopped expecting all the pieces to be even. Some nights I spend most of my time in front of a screen or with a notebook and pencil in my hands. Other nights, I don’t touch either because I’m at a football practice or a school family night. Some days I miss school events and blogging opportunities because I have something scheduled at work. Rarely are the work-family-creative pie pieces equal. But realizing that they rarely will be, has helped me let go of the urge to try to make them equal and has allowed me to be more creative.
These are strategies that have helped me find my creative streak in the middle of mothering and working. I don’t think I have it all figured out. I still have days or a week where I feel down because I didn’t get to writing the piece I wanted to, or missed a chance to play a game with my kids because I was in front of the computer. But I’ve realized I have kids who are happy and love to spend time with me, I’m proud of the writing and blogging I do, and maybe best of all, my kids are proud of their mom’s creativity. So even if I’m not playing that game with them, they’re still learning a lot.  

Thanks so much, Beth! Make sure to swing by her blog at Structure in an Unstructured Life or say hello to her on Twitter and Pinterest and get to know this amazing mama with lots of great tips on finding balance in motherhood.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Changes Are a Comin'

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When you're little, time seems to go on forever. Two months of summer vacation feels like an eternity, one hour feels like five, and the days spanning between one holiday to the next are filled with torturous anticipation. Even now when I get out of school at the end of June, the lazy days of summer sprawl before me like a deck of cards- all the numbers are the same, still black and red, but the arrangements and possibilities are endless. Especially this year because the typical two month break was instead going to be a four and a half month leave of absence in preparation for and care of our second baby girl.

So here I am. Tomorrow I will be picking right back up where I left off in June, except plus one in the home category...If only the "exception" was that simple. That exception is a cherub-faced, blue eyed, dimpley little bundle of love. I have spent 3 amazing months cherishing every second and basking in baby goodness. I've felt immense joy watching Violet, despite her occasional 3-year-old mood swings, adore her baby sister. She is gentle and kind to Ruby. Already protective and genuinely attached to her I find myself eagerly looking forward to their future together forming the bond that grows from the seeds of laughter, tears, fights and fears. A connection that only sisters have, one that I share with my sister and my mom shares with hers. 



If you had asked me a month ago if I wanted to go back to work or wished I could be a SAHM I would have told you I was ready to go back that minute. I've never been good at dealing with monotony, and being home every day feels monotonous to me. I get stir crazy and bored while avoiding the mile long list of chores that need to be done. I just can't make myself do them. I'm a terrible housewife. I don't cook, I hate cleaning, I'm disorganized and despise grocery shopping. My maternal side comes through in my actions towards my kids and the genuine love I have for them. It's a good thing I missed the Donna Reed era because I would be regarded as a heathen. I guess I'm "ready" to go back to work in that respect, but I can't shake the butterflies that fill my belly when I think about it, because if there's one thing I hate more than monotony, it's change. How's that for a contradiction?

I like the comfort of knowing what to expect. I'm that girl who dreamed of traveling abroad, then called home crying and homesick from Italy. Hell, I used to get homesick at sleepovers with the girls next door! Sometimes being surrounded by the unfamiliar overwhelms and intimidates me. So why am I stressing so much? Tomorrow when I walk back in to my art room and see the smiling faces of the kids I truly missed these last few months, I will feel like I'm home again. I'll think about the worrying I did and laugh at myself, get things back where they need to be and remember why I love my job so much and why I'm glad to be there. It's not overwhelming or intimidating because I'm good at my job. I'm confident in that, and if there's one thing that can conquer anxiety it's confidence. I'm also confident that the girls are in good hands. I am so lucky that I don't have to pay for day care. My Dad watched Violet from when she was 4 months old and now will care for Ruby while Vi is at school and juggle them both for a few hours until myself or John get home. Still, I've gotten quite comfy in our routine these last few months so here I am battling. Deal with change to break the monotony or make peace with it all together. Not that I have much of a choice- tomorrow will come no matter what and eventually this change of pace will be a welcome one, then I settle in to another routine and then returns monotony. Such is life!

One thing I haven't yet figured out is how I will maintain The Patchwork Paisley after all the hard work I've put in to it since June. Any tips on how to find time in a day that only affords 24 hours? 


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