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

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super simon 6
concentrating 2“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Simon: Exploring the construction site as “Super Simon” // Concentrating hard, using a screwdriver to take apart the broken tv with Daddy

I am still a couple of weeks behind in my 52 project, (It is week 39) but if I post two week’s worth for a bit I should be back on track in no time. The move really threw me off track in my blogging.

The top portrait is from a family walk that we went on, before we moved. Simon wanted to dress in his cape and sunglasses, and we ended up exploring a construction site together. It was the weekend, so there was no work taking place and we were able to get close to (or even walk on or in) the heavy equipment. Simon absolutely loves tractors (he says he wants to be a crane operator when he grows up), so this was so exciting for him.

The second portrait was taken when Jeramy and Simon were making the best of a bad situation. Simon had gotten carried away that morning, and hit the tv with drumsticks during an excited musical moment. The tv broke. Completely broke. As bummed as we were that such an expensive item was irreparable, Jeramy decided to take it apart and let Simon help. It became a scientific and mechanical learning experience. Simon practiced his fine motor skills, and took his use of the screwdriver very seriously.

I think both photographs show the importance of exploring the world as a three-year old.

To see more 52 project, click the icon below:



painting nails
pedicure“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Simon: Giving himself a manicure with watercolors//Getting a pedicure from Daddy

A couple of weeks ago, as I was painting my toenails pink, Simon came into the bathroom to see what I was doing. He stuck out his adorable little feet and asked: “Will you paint my toes too?”said “of course!” and asked him to pick out a color. (He is always very interested in my nailpolish and makeup, so I knew it was only a matter of time before he wanted to try some.)

He picked out a bright turquoise (or “TORquoise” as he says it), and sat very still (mostly) while I painted his toes. Of course, being a kid, he immediately ran outside barefoot and dragged his feet through the sand, so his toenails became an interesting texture, with dirt around the edges. But the point was that he was happy with his self-expression. He loves to wear costumes, and jewelry, and temporary tattoos. He is a bold kid and he loves to experiment with different combinations.

Since that first pedi, he has since asked for more polish. We have okayed more pedicures, but are currently vetoing fingernail polish until I can buy some of the non-toxic kind. Just because he still sticks his hands in his mouth once in a while, and I want to minimize the chemicals I put near his little body. He has found a way around this though, by painting his own nails with watercolor paint.

Do your kids want you to paint their nails? What do you do about removing the polish?


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big boy bed”A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Simon: Fast asleep in his “big-boy bed”

Growing up so fast. He no longer sleeps in a crib, he rarely has potty accidents, and he will soon be attending part-time preschool. I must remember to stop and savor this age as much as possible.



Thrift Shop

Simon has been going through a very whiny and difficult stage recently. Jeramy thinks it might be part of a readjustment to being home after our week of vacation at the cabin. I suspect it is normal three-year-old boundary testing. Whatever it is, I am much more exhausted and lacking in any remaining patience by the time Jeramy gets home from work than I was just a couple of weeks ago.

Today was a particularly trying day, so when Jeramy walked in the door and got a bit settled, I said I needed to go for a drive by myself. About once a month or so I do this, and almost always I end up getting a coffee and popping into the nearby Goodwill. Flipping through the racks and scanning the shelves is relaxing for me. I often don’t even find anything to buy, but spending the time with my thoughts, zoning out, and just looking always makes me feel better when I am cranky.

I lucked out on this particular trip, and found a button-down blouse, a flowy cardigan, and the two little treasures pictured above. I began a vintage Pyrex collection a couple of weeks back, while spending a day out with a friend who collects antiques. I have always had a love for vintage Pyrex. I am being careful to build my collection with only functional pieces that I really love, a little at a time, because collecting can oh so quickly turn to clutter. (A lesson I have learned from experience.) The Wonder Woman mug is meant to go with me to work. I have been sipping my tea and coffee there in a borrowed mug, that I foraged out of the employee kitchen space. Now I will have one of my very own to inspire me to take on the day like a super hero.

Or perhaps I should keep the mug at home to help me stay strong through “The Difficult Threes”?

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Naptime Struggles

Simon and Sam
Simon has always been a child who thrived on lots of sleep. With enough consistent routine and patience from  Jeramy and I, regular naps have been taken since he was still a baby. We transitioned easily when he was about a year and a half from two daily naps to one, at which point he began sleeping between 2-3 hours in the middle of the day, giving me a break, and giving his mood and energy a refresh.

Over the past couple of months however, naptime has become a struggle. Simon spends his time in bed playing and singing, rather than sleeping. This is fine, because just spending dedicated time in bed without external stimuli seems to help him through the day. However, the roughest part is getting him to agree to this time, and to settle down.

Even if I give him warnings that naptime is imminent, he still panics and acts out when I announce that it is time. I have tried putting a CD player in his room, and playing a special lullaby CD during this time, which seems to help some, but not totally, to relax him. I have tried making the pre-nap transition a special storytime, reading aloud with him on my lap in his rocking chair and dim light. Again, this helps sometimes, but not always.

I have had some people suggest to me that he is too old to be napping anyway, so I should just give up trying. Honestly, I am ok with him not sleeping, but I do insist that he have special quiet time in his bed. As his mother, I witness what happens if we skip this, and it makes for a grouchy, defiant, and emotionally overwhelmed child in the afternoon and evening. It isn’t good for his Daddy and I, and it definitely is not good for him to spend half of his day like that.

So, I have been giving this situation some thought over the last few weeks, searching for a solution that works for us. I am currently tossing around two ideas in my mind. One is to make quiet time the only TV time of the day. When he hits his afternoon energy lull, I could let him pick a short movie or an episode of Sesame Street and have him veg out on the couch for a little while. This option might work, but I am hesitant to use screen time as a relaxation tool. The option I am more inclined toward, but which will take more effort on my part, is to finally make him a quiet book.

Have you heard of quiet books? They are special books, usually fabric, and usually handmade, that a child can look at and interact with during times when they need to be calm. Some people  bring them on airplane trips, or to church for a child who must remain seated with the parents. Most though, seem to use them for children who are transitioning away from napping. Over the last several months I have been saving quiet book inspiration ideas here, on a pinterest board.  Perhaps it is about time I turn that inspiration into action?

If any of you have gone through this difficult age or naptime struggle, I would love to hear from you on what you tried and what might work. I want to provide Simon with a chance to rest during the day, but we both can’t handle the tantrum and struggle anymore.



squishy face“a portrait of my child once a week, every week, in 2o13″

Simon: making what I call his “squidgy face”

Simon spent a good deal of his day playing outside in the sun–coated in many reapplications of sunscreen, of course–with the hose, sprinkler, and a little pool at his Nana’s house. No nap + lots of sun and running around = tired and stubborn toddler. So, when we got home, Jeramy and I tried to engage him in some downtime with toys, air conditioning, and a picnic dinner in the living room. It helped a little bit, but the sassy attitude kept recurring, bringing this facial expression with it. After a good night of sleep he should be a bit less of a cranky-pants.

As always, click below to see more of the 52 project this week:


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20 and 21/52

playdough time“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

~We finally convinced him to get a haircut so that he could see again. Once it was finished, he was extremely happy and you could tell he felt good, being out from under the mop of hair. “Take a picture of my haircut Mumma!” he said, and bent down like this.
~Some afternoon playdough time. He doesn’t always nap these days, so sometimes he needs to do an engrossing sensory activity for a while when he gets out of his bed. It provides a better transition from resting time to the rest of the day.

Between the craziness of our calendar last week, and then all of us being sick, I skipped last week’s 52. I had the top photograph taken in time, but somehow managed not to post it to the blog for so many days in a row that I finally just decided to save it and do a combined 52 post this week.

To see what the other bloggers who are doing the 52 project came up with this week, click the image below:




birthday 19
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My baby turned three yesterday. And if he knew I had just called him my “baby” he would be quick to correct me sternly: “No Mumma, I not a baby. I a big boy!”.

He is my crazy child. He is so imaginative, always making up stories, and inventing reasons for things. Everything has to have a reason why for him, and he always wants to know. He is inquisitive about the way things work, and loves to take things apart and see their inner workings. He loves to play, especially outside, especially in the dirt. He collects rocks. Rarely does he come into the house from outdoors without stopping to pick up another perfect rock that he wants to keep. He likes toys with wheels, especially tractors and construction vehicles. He also loves books. He prefers paint and playdough to crayons, and doesn’t much care for coloring books. His favorite color is still yellow, though occasionally he chooses green instead. He has a wicked sweet tooth, especially for chocolate, and would eat pancakes every day if we let him. He sometimes naps, sometimes doesn’t. He can be quite hot-headed and angry. He always lines his toy animals, blocks, cars, etc. up into long, straight  lines. He really hates it when Mumma is not home, especially for his bedtime. He wants hugs, kisses, and cuddles on his own terms, and will get mad if you try to sneak in a kiss. He is taking his time with potty training, but is almost there. He loves to jump on our bed and hates to sit still.

We will be having a little get-together this weekend with a proper birthday cake and more balloons. Not a big, fancy party, just close family and friends to sing “Happy Birthday” and share the cake with us. However, we still wanted him to feel special on his actual birthday. So, Jeramy brought home three balloons for the birthday boy from work, and I hung a big, glittery number three on the wall. I made his favorite food for dinner (pancakes, of course, but this time I made them dairy-free and added vegan chocolate chips), and we lit candles. He was delighted. We also had a few little presents from us for him, and when he opened each one he gasped and said “Thanks!!!!”. After supper we all walked to the playground and had fun playing together. He showed off all of his new skills at climbing and going on the slides by himself. When we returned home there was coconut milk ice cream.

In the blink of an eye my little guy is another year older. I am continually amazed and delighted by him, and the little person he is growing to be.

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Clothespin Play For Toddlers

If you are looking for a good way to occupy a toddler for a while, I highly recommend clothespins. We purchased some to use for connecting blankets when making forts, and when Simon was having a particularly whiny day recently, and was in need of stimulation, I grabbed them and showed him how to hook them onto things. He calmed down right away, and took this new activity very seriously, while having lots of fun.

He was proud of the new ability he was learning, as he switched from just placing them onto the edge of a little wooden crate, to actually pinching them and getting them to grip. He loved figuring out how to make them work. We eventually moved on to hooking them onto all kinds of other things, like picking up little toys with them, and hooking them onto our clothes.

Clothespins are excellent for helping little ones to improve hand strength and fine motor coordination, so there is the added bonus that while they are having a blast, it is aiding in their development too.


Summer Is…

…sitting on the floor, teaching my toddler to shuck the local, organic corn we purchased for dinner, and laughing when he throws it down on the floor and tells me: “Mumma, this hairy.


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