May 15, 2017

Dear Daughters (April)

How is it already MAY!!?! I'm slacking on getting these posts in before the month is over, but welcome to my life of raising 4 littles. The day I took these photos we spent it playing at the Children's museum together before our annual pass ran out. Its been one of my favorite things that we've gotten to do as a family this past year, watching them explore and learn and thrive in playfulness being there. Definitely well worth the money and something I'd recommend for you mamas with little ones. I'm already missing it.

Dear Raleigh, 

You have grown up more than I'd like to admit this past month. You wake up in the morning and its like you changed over night. As much as I don't want to think about you getting older, I must admit it brings me the most joy to see who you you are becoming. You gave me the sweetest birthday spending it with you and your sisters at the museum, playing. laughing and watching you be you! You  have the best sense of finding fun in anything you're doing and I love being a part of any fun you're having. You are the greatest gift I could ever want. 

  Dear Jocilynn, 

I've seen your maturity start to come through this month. Its so hard for you to let go of the littlest things you get your mind wrapped around, but you're learning to see whats more important in the moment like treating others with kindness or giving your sisters a chance to enjoy something too. Its been a battle for us for sure, but I see how much you're choosing to trust me and your daddy in learning these things and it makes my heart ache with pride and adoration for you. You are teaching me so much through this and I see how incredible you are becoming in your strong-willed, sensitive and sweet personality. I love watching you. 

Dear Jaelynn, 

Oh sweet Jaelynn! I didn't think your smile could get any brighter, but somehow it has. Your laughter and joy are a contagious gift to anyone thats around you. You are learning so much and try to help others learn it with you. This month I've seen so much of how the things that used to be such a fight for us are diminishing because of how much you're growing up. Like learning to use your words gently and kindly and using the "dramatic" side of you for fun instead of trying to get your way. I can tell already how much of a little leader you are. People are naturally drawn to you. I'm constantly becoming better because of you and I will choose to learn from you and follow your example all of my days.

Dear Sage, 

My Sagey-girl. Watching you this month has been the greatest delight. Now that you're keeping up with your sisters on foot, there's no stopping you. It's already so evident how much you love to have fun and play and make others laugh. You admire your sisters with the sweetest adoration, mimicking their moves, or "singing" along with them. You make us want to have more and more kids! You bring so much laughter and silliness and play to our days, I can't imagine not having a fourth girl in the mix of things. You're a perfect fit in every way and I love you more than I can say. 

I love you all more than life itself. 

April 27, 2017

Chalkboard Process

I'm gearing up for another exciting weekend at Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market. There you'll find me selling all my paper goods and original hand lettered chalk boards designed to make your home happy and pretty. A question I often get asked is if these chalk boards are stenciled or free handed and how it is I create these pieces so I thought I'd share a bit here about my process. 

The process for me starts by finding the right frame. I search high and low for good quality frames that have a uniqueness about them, whether its a small detail in the carvings, or the color of the wood, or an odd shape you wouldn't normally see. The fun part about this is the repurposing of these frames and making something seemingly ugly turn into something beautiful. 

Once I have a pile of frames to start working with, its a little bit of labor and love to get these to a quality thats no longer an eye sore. A lot of taking them a part, sanding out the flaws, giving them fresh coats of paint then sanding them down again to give them the rustic elegant feel I'm going for. I also like to stick to a color scheme so its appealing as you look at everything as a whole. Too many off colors can be kind of distracting in my opinion. So for this spring market I went for a lot of the neautral soft colors to go with the feel of the season. 

Next, is the sizing and cutting of the actual chalkboards all done by my amazing husband, thankfully! I get these mostly from home good stores or sometimes cut raw wood and paint black chalk paint on top. 

Since I was in jr. high I've loved to collect quotes. I kept a quote book all throughout college and still have piles of paper and notes on my phone of quotes that have inspired me. When the frames are done and the chalk boards are in, this is where the most fun happens for me! And to answer the much asked question from above, all of my work is free handed, no stencils whatsoever. 

Most of the time I start with paper and pencil sketching out ideas and designing a few quotes to see how I want to lay it out. Other times, I'll pick up a frame and just go for it by sketching it out with chalk first, playing with different lettering and ideas.

After I lay it all out on the chalk board and like the design, I use Posca chalk paint pens (my favorite) to draw everything on permanently. The paint from these pens flows really well, giving a rich opaque quality that I love. Once the piece is finished up I spray each piece with a clear matte varnish to seal everything in. 

So there you have it. Each piece is thoughtfully hand made from start to finish, created to last and bring beauty to your home. I love that I get to call this my job and that there are people out there that are being touched by and loving my work. 

If you're in town this weekend be sure to come by Westworld of Scottsdale and find me at booth 129 to grab one of these for yourself!

April 13, 2017

Painting Eggs With Toddlers

I still haven't pulled the trigger on doing the egg dyeing thing with the girls yet. The thought of it just makes me stress out from imagining the mess! haha. So the past couple years I've set out to find a way to decorate eggs the easy way. Last year's project was drawing with chalk all over black chalkboard eggs. This year, the dollar section at Target saved the day with the perfect wooden eggs and metallic watercolor paint in the craft section! 

The girls have been more into painting lately, which is so fun for me not only because they seem to be following in their mama's footsteps, but also because it can entertain them for long stretches of time (win!). I love the excuse of a holiday to come up with a fun craft to do with them, but the funnest part for me is teaching them the real reason why we celebrate the holiday in the first place. I love how their brains are curious about the stories and how they communicate it back in the silliest ways. Their ages might be my favorite so far as they continue to take in and understand more and more. 

So if any of you have some fun ideas I can keep in my back pocket for next year, please let me know! How have you done egg decorating with your toddlers? Do you have any family traditions you do for Easter? Share some with me in the comments below!

Hope your Easter weekend is a sweet one!

April 4, 2017

Dear Daughters

Well its a few days into April, but I took these photos in March, so better late than never, right!?! The last month was a sweet one watching my girls personalities grow and finding out new things about them. Each time I ask to take their pictures they show me a new side and its extremely entertaining to watch. These girls of mine! They sure keep me on my toes. 

("dear daughters"--a portrait series of my daughters once a month for 2017)

Dear Raleigh, 

You are all full of laughter and goofiness more than ever recently. Your imagination is running wild with pretending to play family and talking to your friend "flower" and making up the most clever (and random) song lyrics. You never stop singing. You sing about almost everything and everything and its the best off key, loud, and ear piercing music to my ears. I've watched you bond with each of your sisters in different ways which delights my heart to no end. And even though some days you'll play or laugh with one of them more than the other, your tenderness and love for them is evident with each of them. You are continuing to teach me how to be gentle and patient with you as you are growing and learning the world around you. Our conversations and conflicts show me just how much you actually understand and take in and it gives me perspective to remember how my own actions have an extreme effect. I will never want anything more than your trust and your heart, and even when it breaks me to discipline and give you boundaries sometimes, I want you to always know you have access to me and my love for you will never waver or go away. 

Dear Jocilynn,

The past month I've seen more and more of how your heart is so sensitive and genuine. You are so smart with everything you're learning and comprehending. You have an attention to detail that I've never seen another two year old have more than you. You notice the smallest things, like when my nails are painted or the way my hair is different or the color of someones eyes. They don't go unnoticed by you because you watch people intently and looking back I realize how true this has been since you were a baby. I remember you watching me closely like you were studying my every move and mannerism, trying to learn life through me. I think this is a gift in you that will allow you to enter in with people unlike anyone else. I think you will know how to notice the details of someone's heart and learn how to love them better through it. You are still opinionated and strong willed, which I think can serve as a good thing too, but parenting it can be so hard sometimes. We're learning how to love each other in this and I want to always be able to understand and know your heart even if we can't see eye to eye. You are teaching me how to pay attention and I'm learning so much from you and the world around me because of that. I love you with the deepest love. 

Dear Jaelynn,

This month I've seen you flourish in who you are more than ever. We took a family trip to Park City and something about us being away with all your closest people around you made you come alive. Your little tiny body brings out the biggest smile and laughter I've ever seen. It makes a whole room light up and grin. You have the best sense of humor and you constantly make us laugh...and you definitely know how to. You are so smart with your words and can remember things I never thought was possible. We've battled it out quite a bit, trying to teach you how to be kind and gentle and use a "big girl voice", but this month I've see you maturing more and more in that. You're still learning, but you're starting to catch yourself before you start to whine or complain and it gives me hope and peace knowing some of the redundant things I've been unsure about in parenting is starting to pay off. I've loved watching you run around and be yourself and play with others and make them laugh with you. You teach me how to laugh at myself and how to always bring others into the joy of the moment with me. My love for you never stops growing!

Dear Sage, 

You've been more clingy and feisty lately and I'm still figuring out why that is. Maybe its because you just love to be around people constantly and almost can't stand it when you're alone. You seem to never want to be missing out on the fun of whatever your sisters are up to. You're just about the same size as all of them so this has given you some confidence to stick up for yourself a bit, which can be pretty entertaining to watch sometimes. You still give the best and biggest hugs and cuddling with you is the sweetest feeling. You teach me how to keep smiling and that being with people is always the best medicine. I love you with an extreme and affectionate love!

I love you more than life itself. 

March 21, 2017

A Gift To Give

About a month ago I went through a season of feeling incredible doubt in what I do as an artist. This wave hits me ever so often and I don't know how to shake it sometimes. The feeling can be overwhelming and discouraging--feelings of self doubt, if what I do is significant, if I myself am "worthy" enough to be a so called artist. I wrestled through these feelings with my husband, with friends, and God as I tried to dig deep and find where they were coming from. I didn't want to continue to sit in this feeling until it just "went away", but instead take it head on and understand what it might have to offer me in growth and maturing. So I sat down and wrote about it all--how old I was when I started feeling this way, the certain events that happen when the doubt comes in, and the lies I begin to tell myself soon after. 

A few hours later, a friend randomly forwarded me this article by the incredibly articulate Ann Voskamp. What struck me in reading this was the truth of all humans being made in the image of God--something I've always believed in my head, but never really grasped in my heart. Anne writes in her post:
All humans are equal — because all are equally made by God.

I read further along as this truth stuck with me. The article was written in light of MLK day and our equality as humans and it was striking me in a real personal way as I was wrestling with the doubts of my talent, and who I am. And then I read this:
The whole concept of the Imago Dei…the ‘Image of God’ is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected…This gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity.
I realized then and there the doubts I felt were deeply connected to comparison. Without even realizing it, I wasn't just comparing my work to someone else's, but I compared my worth and value to the worth and value of someone else. Gosh did that feel hard! 

Because, if the truth is that we are all made equally, then we are all on the same level ground so then there's really no comparison at all. If the truth is that we are made in God's image, then we each have a unique, God-given worth that is incomparable to someone else. And those words above- uniqueness, worth, and dignity- hit my like a ton of bricks (in a really good way, of course). I began to see that when I live out of this truth, that I'm already unique and worthy and gifted, then I have something to offer the world that only I can give

The next day, I decided to listen to the new Avett brothers album that I hadn't heard yet. Some of my most inspiring and thought provoking moments come through listening to music that I love. The thoughts and revelations I had gone through the day before weren't really on the forefront of my mind as I began to work. I sat there painting and listening to the new tunes without paying attention to any of the lyrics. The album's title song "True Sadness" started playing. The words in it weren't particularly sticking out to me until I suddenly heard this: 
"Just know the kingdom of God is within you, even though the battle is bound to continue."
Right then I knew God had given me that little moment to remember the truth of all he was teaching me from the previous day. The kingdom of God is within me because I am made in the image of God. And because I am made in the image of God I have been given uniqueness and talent and belonging and worth. It was a gift that was given to me- a gracious gift, not something I earned. Everything I had written down and read through in that article and listened to in those lyrics started to come together in a pretty beautiful way to me. It was these little snippets that were speaking to my heart in telling me who I am. I was seeing more clearly that since this is a gift given to me, the only way I will ever find true freedom from the lies and doubt is by living out that I get to give this away as a gift to others. 

And at the core, that is the only way I want to live my life, do my business, and create art--out of giving it away as a gift rather than striving to "be better than" or try harder to be something I already am-- unique, and gifted, and worthy. 

The battle will certainly continue. I know there will be times I will be struck with fear or doubt again, but moving forward I now have this to hold onto: the kingdom of God is within me--its in all of us really. And to me, there's nothing more beautiful, life giving, and inspiring than that.