Gifts, Emotions, and a Chocolate Box

I meant this to be a simple and quick little post about thinking outside the box when it comes to art supplies.  But right around the time I set my daughter up to paint outside, I received this amazing present from my friend in Alaska, so I have to share about that too.


Isn't this the prettiest little work of art ever?  It is exactly what I like.  A little bit of glitter and a little bit of dirt (not to say that this looks like dirt, I just can't think of a more eloquent way to describe the grungy antiquey brown look).  I really like the look of putting things together that seem like opposites, but end up making great art.  Like complimentary colors – exact opposites on the color wheel, but the most complimentary.

I was sitting here ruminating today on how many different emotions I go through on a regular day, every day.  I don't know if it is my life in particular (because we truly are on quite a roller coaster right now), or if this is just the way it is when you're in your 30s.  I dunno.  I woke up (literally) this morning to a violent autistic meltdown, have spent the afternoon feeling very blessed and grateful, with a lot of different things inbetween – and there's still hours left before bedtime!


Anyway, back to the original idea of my post.  My business name is Our Backyard Studio quite literally because almost every time the weather permits, at least one person in our household is creating art outside.  When it is The Girl, I simply lay down a few tarps, put her in some grub clothes, and let her go for it.


I am always trying to think as economically as possible when it comes to art.  I firmly believe that no one's desire or ability to make art should be hampered by concerns over cost of supplies.  There are a lot of wonderful art supplies out there on the market, many of which I have purchased.  But there's also a LOT of alternative supplies that cost little to nothing.


Take this paint palette for example.  It is my favorite!  It is the plastic insert from a box of chocolates.  I was about to throw it away when I realized those little divots are perfect for paint!  They are a little bigger than the white palettes you can get at the art supply store (better for mixing colors, or holding more paint for larger projects), plus there are a ton more on here.  Way to recycle!! 🙂


She is painting a wooden box that a friend gave to me about a billion years ago before we all had children – it was used for gift boxes at Starbucks, and these were extra.  I figure it will make a great shadow box or little display shelf.  She is painting it now as I type, so it'll be interesting to see how it looks when I'm done.  I always let her choose her own paints, and she's working today with red, burgundy, white, glittery silver, lime green, glittery teal, cobalt blue, and lavender.  As always, she was very deliberate in her choosing of her colors, and I just let her go with it.


Look at that great palette!  Have you ever used (or thought of using) random things from around your house in your art?  What kinds of things?

P.S.  I'll leave you with this last image, so characteristic of The Girl.  Wearing her brother's old (OLD) clothes, sunglasses from her super-girly auntie, swim shoes, and a hair-do a friend arranged 3 days ago.


Yep, that's her.

Child’s Play


(She is ready to paint!)

One thing I learned in the last couple months is that my girl loves to paint.  I try not to push art on my children – it is more that I encourage creative thinking, and try to provide as many supplies as possible for them to experiment with.  While our boy has been creating for a while (he's almost 8), I only introduced our girl to the wonders of paint this winter (she's 3).  She LOVES it.  Like, far more than I expected.  Apparently she's been watching me for a bit, because I saw her doing things in her first painting session that I always do.  


(I always let The Girl choose her own color palette)

I haven't really taught either child to do anything technical or specific so far, I've mostly just provided the materials, helped prevent permanent staining on clothing or furniture, and otherwise let them go to town.  The Boy leans more toward intricate, controlled, elaborate drawing.  The Girl, on the other hand, is clearly in to passionate, messy, all-over-the-canvas abstract art.  


(This is her art book)

It is fascinating to watch both of them – It has perhaps been my highest form of art education, watching the minds, hearts, and hands of my children as they create.  I have already shared some of this on facebook, I think I'll have to share more of this on my blog as soon as I can get some better photos…..


(This is what her paint palette always looks like after painting session – she usually uses up all the paint she is given)

A Snow Day

After working at the store for the last two weeks getting it converted to Christmas, I now find myself faced with several days in what used to be my house, but is now a complete pig sty.  Not only have I not been home (nor Chris, for that matter) to do dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, or general cleaning, we also lost our fridge, so cooking and storing food has just added to the mess.

The morning greeting us with a light snowfall, which of course has inevitably shut down the entire western Washington area.  Chris is giving me a much needed break by working at the store this afternoon for the few customers that will brave the extreme stormy weather for a visit, and I hope to reward him (and me!) with a clean house when he gets home.

Ben has what we call his "Yay" Chart, which is just a simple piece of tag board tacked to the pantry door, with a grid drawn with sharpie.  Eat time he accomplishes some kind of task (puts away toys, is good while out, uses the potty, etc), he can earn a sticker; when he's earned a whole row of stickers, he gets a prize. 

I remember that the other day, Ben volunteered to help me with the dishes, so I have a brilliant idea.

Me: "Ben, would you like to earn extra stickers by helping me around the house?"

Ben: "O-Kay!" (Ben never ever says "Yes."  Just "No" or "O-Kay.")

Me: "We can add a line to your chart for Housework.  Would you like that?"

Ben: "O-Kay!"

Me: "You want to help around the house?  You want to help mama vacuum, and wash dishes, and do laundry?"

Ben: "O-Kay!"

Me: "Ben, do you actually get what I'm saying?  If I asked you if you wanted to jump into a volcano, would you say yes?"

Ben: "Yes."

Yeah, I thought so.

Monday, Monday



You know, for the first time in a long while, I have enjoyed my Monday.  Though I no longer have a regular 9-5 style office job, Mondays have still managed to stress me out each week.  This has been especially disappointing given that Monday is kind of my Saturday, as typically I do not go into the store for the first two days of the week.  I'm not sure what struck this particular Monday as less stressful than usual, but nonetheless, it was pleasant. 

Now sitting here, enjoying the last little bit of the day before the sun and Benjamin go to bed for the night, I'm pondering the 5-senses-Friday.  I truly am a sucker for these little post prompts, as to me they are like assignments, and I have always been at my most creative and productive when I have been given an assignment.  These little homework bits give me something to think about during the week, helping to notice things about life or my surroundings that I perhaps wouldn't have caught otherwise. 

I have wanted to partake in the 5-senses-Friday for weeks, but I am sorry to say that I have yet to come through a week with a full load of striking sensory experiences to report.  Not that anything has to be dramatic, but for me it does need to be meaningful.  Normally this wouldn't bother me, because sometimes things strike you, and sometimes they don't.  That's just life.  But this bothers me right now, because I have been struggling to lift myself out of a creative fog for year now (that's a long story).  I want to be back where I used to be, when my brain was buzzing with wonderful colorful things all the time.  Especially now that I have a son to enjoy those things with, because I think regularly exercising that part of our brain keeps us young and healthy.

(I have a tendency to blather when really I meant to just write a sentence or two.  Not that anyone really cares about all that blathering, it just feels good to write out, and in the end that's sorta why I bother doing it.)


Today, I was…

…Hearing:  The soft patter of rain falling.

…Smelling:  Also the rain – fresh, spring-like, completely relaxing.

…Seeing:  Dare I say it?  The rain again?  Just watching it fall outside the window.  Rain isn't something I truly appreciated until I married my husband, who has always loved rain.  The day might be gray, but the rain comes and washes the dust off everything, and suddenly it is all brighter.  Green trees are vibrant, rock sparkles, painted signs and buildings are vivid.  Its just lovely.

…Tasting and touching?  I'm inside, not out, so it isn't rain this time.  I'm tasting my coffee, pungent and smooth and dark.  I'm feeling the warm cup in my hands, liking the shape of the smooth porcelain in my hand.

Aaaaahhhhhh…..all of this was contemplated for about 10 minutes, until such time as Ben had his before-bed-breakdown.  As a parent, you really learn to value a wonderful 10 minutes when you can get them, don't you? 🙂

Party Hardy


Today we braved the great outdoors to attend a very special event.  A 4th birthday party for a very lovely and special friend.


It was a wonderful park, and there was so much to do!  Many new friends to meet, many toys to play on.


We said "weeee!"


And others said "Weeee!"


The little ones made a break for the grass…


And we big ones had fun too!


Really, we should have a party every day.


"Will you come when I'm FIVE?!"


Why of course!  We'll come when you're FOUR and a HALF!


Parks are very wonderful things.  They are great fun, and they induce great big naps.  Despite me still feeling rather under the weather, we all had a very lovely day. 🙂

A Day in the Life

I already blogged this on our Weed Patch blog, but I thought it would be worth repeating here, as I haven't been blogging too much lately.  Just been busy working!  Today has been another typical work day.  Here was yesterday, up to now:

9:00 am Parents get up for the day, get dressed, have a nice quiet discussion regarding store stuff.

Parent goes upstairs to dress and ready child for the day, as child is
heard running and playing, and therefore is indeed awake.  Parent finds
child not in closed bedroom as usual, but instead in the closed

10:10am Parent installs sock on child's bedroom door to help control child-door-opening activities.

10:13am Parent reinstalls sock on child's bedroom door, securing with rubber band.

pm Child plays quietly in room, and goes to sleep for a nap.  Parental
bliss ensues.  Quiet working, uninterrupted lunch, etc.

6:15 pm Parent gets child up from nap, in closed bedroom.

7:45 pm Child goes into kitchen.  Child is quiet.

7:47 pm Parent enters kitchen to find child inside refrigerator, in the process of pulling the door closed.

7:48 pm Parent begin going-night-night actives with child.

pm Child bites nipple off before-bedtime-bottle of milk, and pours milk
over couch, couch contents, and surrounding couch area.

8:45 pm Child is given crash course (long over due) in going to bed without bottle.

9:34 pm Parent repeats cuddling, talking, song singing, tucking in process.

10:18 pm See above.

10:35 pm Quiet upstairs.

4:00 am Parent spends 1 hour with perfectly dry, sound, healthy, whole, yet utterly inconsolably screaming child.

9:38 am Sleepy parent gets out of bed, thankful to have slept in a bit.  All is quiet from child's room.

11:00 am Evidence of quiet happy playing heard from upstairs.

11:48 am Parent greets child's for the morning to sweet happy "hi mama" and "up! up!"

am Parent notices child has a black eye.  Child does not notice or
care.  Parent wonders what's she's doing wrong in her role as a parent.

3:15 pm Child goes down for nap.

3:19 pm Parent sits on couch and stares off into space for 14 minutes.  Wonders…what's next?!



I see many sunburns in my near future (well, hopefully they'll eventually just be suntans).  I finally figured out a way to successfully play outside with Ben in our yard.  For those of you who haven't been to our house, half our lawn is level, and the other half is steep hill.  It is also unfenced, and on the corner of our street, with a decent amount of traffic.  Playing outside with Ben for me usually amounted a lot of running, catching, "no no's," and bouts of very vocal confused and frustrated opinions (from Ben – mine was all inside my head).  My mom jokingly said I just needed a tether for Ben, so he can play relatively unhindered, without rolling down the hill onto the street under someone's moving car.

Well, actually, I found one, and it worked.  We played outside successfully for two hours yesterday.  With Ben's new favorite toy.  The hose.





He only went out so far as the hose, with its slow trickle of water, reached in the yard.  I brought out all kinds of toys to play with, but the hose was it.  For two hours, he watered the bushes, the fountain, the lawn, the flowers, the rocks, his bucket, and himself.  This time I'll remember to put sunscreen on myself and not just him, and I'll bring myself out a chair and a magazine.  Watering things with the hose captured my interest for only so long…


The new shoes of summer.  Is it just me, or did we totally skip Spring??

Two Today

(At about 2 weeks)

Two years ago today, I remember trying for twenty-six hours to bring my son into the world, only to have a stranger come in and do it in under 30 minutes.  I turned my head, and the first view I had of Ben was him lifting himself up on all fours on the table as the nurse did those things nurses do when babies are born.

(at about 3 months)

 I remember expecting him, as a newborn, to be tinier and more fragile than he actually was.  At almost 9 1/2 pounds, he was just barely under my approved weight limit for what I could safely lift and carry for the next 6 weeks. 

(presiding over The Weed Patch)

Driving down to Colorado with my new son, my husband, and my in-laws was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, but one that has given me some of the best memories.  In two years, I have learned about multi-tasking, sensory overload, self-sacrifice, what real messes are, how to clean in record time, and the importance of personal devotional time and coffee. 


And family.  I don't know how single moms do it.  I wouldn't have made it this far without our parents, sisters, brothers, aunties & uncles, best friends, new friends, grandparents, and of course, my husband.

(First pool experience)

Benjamin is two today.  He knows the entire alphabet by sight, and can name over half the letters.  He loves ducks and books, and of all his toys, he plays the most with his ball and Mr. Potato Head. 

(The discovery of Toilet Paper)

Music is by far his most favorite thing in the world, second only to going outside.  His favorites are Loreena McKennitt and the fiddler from the group Celtic Woman.  Shortly after walking (at about a year), he began running, then jumping, and spinning. 

(First Sprinkler)

He has danced to music ever since he was able to bounce on his tummy.  He is strong, stubborn, intelligent, and has his own mind about things. 

(With Daddy)

He gives me a bad headache just about every day, which I get over during his long stretches of (thank you Jesus) sleep.

(First Lawn Mowing)

And I love him more than anything else in the world.


Happy Birthday, Baby!

ABCs and Play Doh


Yesterday we tried out Play Doh for the first time.  His auntie Holly brought him some Play Doh a couple of weeks ago, and we gave him a can of it in his Easter basket.  Yesterday afternoon, it just seemed like the right time to give it a go, so we pulled out a glass cutting board surface, and I explained to him that the Play Doh only goes on that surface, and we opened up the can. 


He didn't really get the concept right away, he just kept putting it in one container after another without really squishing it.  But I formed it into letters for him to guess, and animal shapes to play with, and although he didn't go crazy with it, he did seem interested.  Success was confirmed this morning – it was the first toy he went for after his bath!


My friend Charity tagged me on one of those meme's, and I'm always a sucker for them so, here we go.  I'm supposed to "tag" a bunch of people, but I hate doing that, so join in if you'd like, and let me know if you do!

A – Age: 30

B – Bed size: King

C – Chore you hate: putting away clean laundry

D – Dog's name: we don't have a dog.  We have a cat, his name is Rumpuss (like in Cats)

E – Essential start your day item: COFFEE.  in a pretty mug, on a pretty tray, with four small powdered doughnuts on a pretty plate.

F – Favorite color: red.  no, light blue.  no, green.  no, pink.  no, red, definitely red.  Today at least.

G – Gold or Silver: don't have much of either.  not really into fancy jewelry.  its all gifts or homemade, so I guess silver.

H – Height: 5' 10"

I – Instruments you play(ed): piano since I was 5 or so through college after which I haven't had a piano to play.  I miss it very very very badly.

J – Job title: Mom, retail/online store owner, artist

K – Kid(s): 1

L – Living arrangements: Married with children at our home in Everett

M – Mom's name: Esther

N – Nicknames: don't have any at all, except from my friends at my old work.

O – Overnight hospital stay other than giving birth: None

P – Pet Peeve: Losing things, especially when it is a book or toy I want to play with and I only have a little while to do so before I have to go somewhere or Ben wakes up.

Q – Quote: Seize the moment.  Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.  ~Erma Bombeck

R – Right or left handed: Right.

S – Siblings: 2 sisters, both married.

T – Time you wake up: between 8 and 9, depending on when I went to bed

U- Underwear: Um, usually.  (Gee, some of these questions are weird.)

V – Vegetable you dislike: can't really think of any.  Artichokes, I guess.  Older ones.  I like the hearts.

W – Ways you run late: don't understand the question.  Late is late, not sure there are different ways of being late.  I am typically late because it always takes me longer to get Ben, and then thus myself, ready than I think it will.

X – X-rays you've had: spinal

Y – Yummy food you make: hm….soups, bread, flank steak, cakes, cheesecake, pastas, tea party food

Z – Zoo favorite: I haven't been to the zoo in so long, I can't remember.  i remember being very fascinated with the gorillas.  so human-like.