Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life

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My First Garden

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I have always considered myself a person with two black thumbs. I have always managed to kill off every houseplant I have ever tried to grow. And yet, I love having growing things around. If it were not for my naughty kitty-cat Molly, who devours plants, I would have them all over the house. I have also dreamed all of my life of having land of my own to grow a garden on. Since buying the house in September, this is now a reality for me.

Several weeks back, the snow thawed away enough to reveal green shoots underneath. These have since grown tall, and revealed themselves to be daffodils. This week, just in time for yesterday’s celebration of Spring’s return, a few of them bloomed. It makes me smile every time I pass the garden to see the happy yellow flowers there.

There are new things popping up in other places around the house. Time will tell what they will be.

So here I am, experiencing my very first Spring with a garden, and with absolutely no idea what I am doing. I have zero gardening experience and a miniscule amount of knowledge. Thankfully, I know many people who do know what they are doing, and who are willing to offer info and advice. I also have plans to pore over some gardening books from the library. And there is always Google.

Today I finally dug in. I raked out all of the dead leaves and twigs. Grass had overgrown into the garden, and was surrounding the daffodils, I began digging and pulling it out. I unearthed some bricks, and used them to extend the boundary around the garden, where the wood border ended. After a while, I finished for the day. There is still a lot of grass remaining to be pulled, but it was a start for someone who has never gardened in their life.

I have plans, lots of plans. I am contemplating peonies or sweet william to join the daffodils in the side garden. Bushes are being removed from the front of the house, and a whole new gardening area will be created there. I want to grow container tomatoes and cucumbers and an herb garden on the deck this year.

Someday we will convert the car port into a greenhouse and grow oodles of things. We’d love to focus our energies mostly on edible things. This year though, it is our first in the house, and I am pregnant, so I am keeping it simple.

If you have any tips or anecdotes about gardening, or aspirations of your own, I’d love to hear from you in a comment!

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Peace Offering

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Peace Offering
I managed to find some time, in the hubbub of daily life a few weeks ago, to set up a bit of our studio, dust the rust off my paint brushes, and paint this piece. I went into this with a quick sketch, and just allowed it to evolve on the canvas. I intentionally tried to be less controlling, and just see what the piece became. I had no idea, when I set out, that there would be birds, or a house and a sofa. At one point there was a heart in her hair, but I ended up covering it. Sometimes, I scribbled.

It has been a very long time since I painted in this way, and it was wonderful. I found myself sneaking off to my studio for a minute here, five minutes there, to add something to it. I don’t think I have ever completed a painting so quickly.

As is the way with me, I look at it now and find all of the things I feel are “wrong” about it. I could have tried to use more realism, I could have looked at a real feather for reference, I could have composed it a bit differently, etc. But, really, whatever the outcome, the experience was so fulfilling that it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, art is something I do for myself, for my own personal expression. If I don’t enjoy the actual making of it, if I get to caught up in the product, than it isn’t worth doing.

“Peace Offering”
Acrylic and Pastel on Canvas


The Vagina Monologues 2013


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Several months ago, I volunteered to be a co-director of The Vagina Monologues. It has been a lot of hard work, but after the show  finally took place this weekend, I can honestly say it was an amazing experience and that I hope to do it again.

I first became aware of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day in college when I attended a performance on campus. I fell in love with the mission of the organization, and how uplifting and empowering the show is. It is not just a show about vaginas, it is about hope and change. It makes you laugh and cry, and motivates you to want to help make the world better. The following year, despite never having acted in my whole life, I decided to audition. Being a part of the show was an amazing and life altering experience, and daring to get on stage gave me a greater sense of confidence. I was involved with the show twice more before leaving college, and then auditioned locally two years ago and performed. I had always thought it would be wonderful to direct and be even more involved, so this time around I finally took that leap.

Our mission was to turn the show into more of a community event this time around. We asked local organizations who help victims of rape domestic violence and who educate others to be there. We also invited the local women’s center, and a group that assists women immigrating to this country from Africa. We made t-shirts and cookies to sell, had a local cloth pad vendor, and even had a table for men to talk about supporting women. We also created a photo-booth for people to have fun hamming it up in front of the camera with their friends. We decorated the theater, and played upbeat music while people mingled and shopped. We tried to make everyone in attendance feel welcomed and supported, and excited to be a part of our event.

In this particular theater, the highest number previously in attendance at any show numbered in the 60’s. So, we thought we were being ambitious when we put out 70 chairs. Well, on the first night the hall filled rapidly, and we scrambled to set up more rows. There were almost 100 people. On the second night, we had to bring out even more than that, and the crowd numbered about 110 and filled the room all the way to the back. In just the first night alone, we raised more money than previous years of multiple performances combined. All of the proceeds are going straight to local groups that help victims of violence.

I spent a lot of nights away from home or busy over the last few months–at rehearsals, frantically typing emails, printing scripts, meeting with my co-director, or making things…all for the show. Directing is so much more involved than I ever expected, but also extremely rewarding. When I saw how proud the women in my cast were to see the theater filling up, and hearing positive feedback from the audience, I was proud of them too. When I saw how the community all came out to support this great cause, I felt connected and filled with hope. I came home Saturday night, after the final night of performance, and I was in awe.

My heart is still spilling over with gratitude and pride over what we accomplished. We made a difference in our community, inspired one another, and touched people. I hope I can be a part of this again next year. Until then, I am still smiling about what a great experience it was.

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Simon's first letterbox“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Simon: Finding his very first hidden “treasure” in the woods.

We went back out Letterboxing today. This time all three of us went, and this time we found what we were looking for. Such a fun adventure, even if it was a cold, windy morning. Simon was so excited and happy. In fact, he even exclaimed: “I so essited!”

Lots of time spent in the woods these days, and I am loving it.



Resurrecting A Hobby

Back into the woods today, my little one and I went. This time we were searching for “treasure”.

In college, I used to go Letterboxing. (A hobby, which, according to the website is: “an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places.”) Years ago, friends and I would plan entire days of adventure, with backpacks and hiking gear on, clues in hand, seeking the hidden boxes. It was so much fun and I was kind of obsessed. Once, we were even late to our painting class because we were so lost in what we were doing, looking for a box.

After I graduated however, I moved, got married, worked 40 hours a week for a while, and then became a mom. I didn’t go “boxing” for years. However, recently Simon’s imagination and pretend play have been very focused on the themes of: clues, treasure-hunting, and maps. Last night, I was thinking about this trend, and suddenly, Letterboxing came to mind. “He would love that!“, I thought to myself.

So I did some research online, found  clues for a local letterbox, printed them out, and dusted off my old log book and stamp. When he woke up this morning, I told Simon about my plan for a treasure-hunting expedition, and he was thrilled.

After a hearty breakfast, we drove to the trail head, parked our car, put our respective backpacks on, and started our trek into the woods. Simon had decided to bring a magnifying glass, and carried it with him the whole time, like a detective. I read the clues out loud about “crossing the stream”, “turning left at the T”, and “looking for the cluster of three birch trees”. We made our way along, finding all of the landmarks except for the last one, an “X”. We poked around in a few likely places, but still had no luck. However, even in our defeat we talked about coming back to try again, next time bringing Daddy to help us.

We returned home, filled our bellies with lunch, and then Simon took a nap. When he woke, Jeramy was home, and he excitedly told him all about how he and “Mumma” had gone “to look for treasure in the woods”. He animatedly told him the whole story, including the part about going back next time all together. If I had any doubt about him having fun, it was erased when I saw how passionate he was in his retelling. This just goes to show that more important than any “treasure”, is the adventure you have together.

*Note: I emailed the letterboxer who originally hid the box. They are going to make sure it is still there and let me know before we go back out again for another attempt. In the meantime, there are lots and lots of other boxes to look for in our area.*

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My Current Reads

Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children by Sarah Napthali
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen
Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth by Jim Merkel

These are the books I am reading right now. I seem to have at least two books going at all times these days. I am not very far into any of the above, but so far liking them all. I had better hurry up though, because I already have a new batch of books on inter-library loan request.

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading right now? I would love to know.


For The Love Of Thrifting

I am a firm believer in the importance of “Me” time. Time to get away from my regular routine, to not have to be responsible for anyone but myself, and to get in touch with my own thoughts. As an introvert, I have always craved time by myself, but ever since becoming a Mumma, it is even more important for me to make it happen.

Sometimes the only “Me” time in my day is during Simon’s nap, when I take a shower and get dressed. Sometimes it takes place on my way to run an errand, when I can turn the radio up and sing along to my current favorite CD in the car. Sometimes it is in the evenings, after Jeramy leaves for work, and Simon is in bed for the night, and I will spend some time browsing Pinterest and reading blogs.

I try to make an effort to have get-out-of-the-house “Me” time too, where I am as far away from any chores that might need doing as possible. (Obviously, within reason. I mean, I would love to pop over to have a cup of coffee at a cafe in Paris, but that just isn’t happening right now.) Recently, I have discovered a new passion: thrift shopping. For the past few months, once a month, I will spend an hour or two in my local thrift shop, and completely and totally zone out. For me, it is blissfully meditative.

I pore over the racks, flipping through item after item, popping in and out of the fitting room, listening to the people around me. I overhear the funniest conversations while I search for hidden treasures. Some days I find nothing. The last two times, I walked away with several great finds. (I wrote about my last experience a bit over in my style blog: here.)

I like clothes, and even thought about fashion design as a career for a while, before I chickened out of applying to any out-of-state art schools. (That’s a whole other story.) I also like companies that I can feel good buying from, and my favorite local thrift store is just that. Shopping there supports my local community, and is much greener that purchasing from a big chain store. Finally, I love not spending a lot of money, but feeling like I did. Tonight I got a pair of jeans, a cute t-shirt, a sweater, and a skirt, plus a picture book for Simon, for only $16.

I am already looking forward to my next thrift shop date with myself.


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