Archive | April, 2014

Things I Learned From Nikki McClure

A gallery walk with Nikki McClure: Art As Life ::

background texture credit: pareeerica via photopin cc

A couple of weeks ago I attended a gallery walk at our tiny local museum with Nikki McClure. I’ve been an admirer of her paper-cut work for years and have a small collection of books she illustrated. My midwife’s office was decorated with several of McClure’s prints and I studied them at every appointment. I love how her work illustrates every-day scenes – mending, nursing a baby, picking berries, toes dangling in a stream. I love how her simple lines and use of limited color can tell such an emotional story.

Her work is recognizable – I see an image in the pages of a magazine, hanging on a wall, or on the cover of a book, and I know it is her. As an artist I have set her on a pedestal labeled “successful.” In other words, not like me. I’m a dabbler artist, not a successful one. My paintings are not in books with hard covers. I’ve never had a museum ask to show my work.

But I didn’t really know much about her. What I learned by visiting the exhibit and listening to her talk is that she is actually more like me than not.…

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Mamas Are Allowed To Have Feelings, Too

Mamas Are Allowed To Have Feelings, Too ::

“I can tell you feel frustrated right now,” I’m learning to say when my 3-year-old crosses her arms and crouches on the floor after I tell her I need her to stop playing and get her shoes on so we can leave.

I’m learning to ask, “Why are you mad at Dada?” when she says, “I don’t like my Daddy.”

Although my first instinct is to say, “Stop,” and “Don’t say that!” and “I don’t care if you don’t want to!” I’m practicing a new way of interacting. I’m practicing naming her feelings and mostly letting her ride them out (unless she’s hurting herself or someone else!)

I’m practicing this because I didn’t learn how to speak up clearly when I was angry until I was in my 30s. I’m practicing it because I see her natural instinct, like mine, is to shut down when she feels a strong emotion. I’m practicing because I want her to have different options for dealing with those emotions than I learned as a child and had to relearn as an adult.

And yet, when she says, “Mama, are you mad or sad?” when my voice grows sharp after repeating my request to her for the fourth time, I still say, “No, I’m just a little frustrated.”

It is hard to undo years of misdirecting and mis-labeling my own feelings.…

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DIY Vegetable Dyed Easter Eggs

DIY Vegetable Dyed Easter Eggs ::

Over on Liz Lamoreux’s blog this week, I’m sharing another project for her Pinned It, Did It series.

This spring I wanted to try making naturally dyed Easter eggs, as I’m forever disappointed in the limp colors from the drug store egg-dying kits. And wow, was I happy with the way these came out! They were much easier to make than I expected, too. You can read all about what vegetables I used and see more of the gorgeous colors at Liz’s blog.

I’m going to be filling in for Meg, the regular writer of this series, for the next few months while she bonds with her new baby. Keep an eye out, because I have some good stuff planned! A couple of sewing projects, yummy treats from the kitchen and even an educational craft to make with little ones.

And if you need even more yummy color? Catch me on Instagram to see the yarn I dyed with the leftover color when I was done with the eggs. I’m swooning!

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Practice Radical Self Care

Practice Radical Self Care ::

I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago, when my partner was traveling for 10 days and I was solo parenting. I don’t know why I never published it, but when I was thinking about this topic again this month I found it in my drafts folder. As it is still so very topical (though my child is a year older and my partner is not traveling this spring), I decided to dust it off and share it with you. Enjoy!

If you do a Google search on “self care for moms” you get a long list of articles that include suggestions like “Take a shower,” “Get a pedicure,” “Drink a green smoothie.” While they are all well-meant and possibly helpful in the short term, I don’t think they get at the essential ways we mothers need to care for ourselves.

What we need is radical self care, which comes from knowing ourselves deeply. It comes from being able hear our souls calling for what we deeply need and being willing to provide it for ourselves.

That isn’t easy and what we hear may not be what we really want to do in the moment. …

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Make Your Own Herbal Healing Salves

Make Your Own Healing Salves ::

This article was originally posted on Modern Alternative Mama.

As part of my ongoing quest to green the products in my bathroom, I tossed out a bag of commercial ointments and skin treatments and replaced them with home-made healing salves.

My initial motivation was to replace a diaper rash cream that I realized was petroleum based. Not only that, but it didn’t work to heal my daughter’s rash. I found a company making small batch lotions and salves from organic herbs and oils for that first diaper cream replacement, but after doing some further research I realized it would be really easy to just make my own. These three recipes are ones I have developed and use at home on my family.

These recipes are simple and don’t require any special equipment and I’ve included links to help you find the specific ingredients (some of these are affiliate links). You can do this!

A salve is simply an ointment used to promote healing or to protect the skin. The three salves I’m sharing below are based on herbal infusions, lending the healing properties of particular herbs to the concoction. I have chosen calendula, plantain and lavender because they are powerful, but gentle enough for babies and children, and unlikely to bother people with sensitive skin.…

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How To Be More Patient Right Now

Need some patience - now? How to Be More Patient ::

Something I’ve been asked over and over again is “How are you so patient?”

And here’s my secret: I’m really not. I get frustrated all the time. I’ve just taught myself not to react so fast when my patience is being stretched. I’m not so patient. I’m just not so volatile.

But here’s the thing: Actively practicing having conscious reactions to my frustrations has, over time, given me more patience. Having more patience is so valuable when you live with small children! They say patience is a virtue, but I believe it is a skill we all have access to.

If you want to be more patient – or at least seem more patient – here are the five steps I use to manage my responses in moments of impatience and frustration.

Identify your triggers.

Knowing what makes you impatient is the first step. Think about the last time you felt your impatience or anger rising. What had just happened? What events, people, or phrases set you off?

It might help to just notice for a week, without trying to change anything.…

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