10.01.2014

confessions (of an artist/mama)...

I used to define myself as an artist.
Then I had kids.

So, 'Mama-stay-at-home-artist-on-the-side'... was a bit of a mouthful.
I soon found that both these passions were rather all-consuming feeling.  I felt torn between both worlds that I wanted to play in... all the while resenting the other voices calling for my attention.

Maybe you know this feeling?
Maybe you've discovered, as I have, that these kids are the masterpieces requiring my attention.
Canvas, colours and creating can wait.  These growing creations cannot.  I will not have my children look back on their lives and wish their mama was more present to play than practising her paint strokes.

But, for now, I take any creative outlet as a perkBecause I know I still need the outlet.  I feel my blood pressure drop when I create.  It's good for the kids to see mama still doing her passions too... but even better, alongside them!
That means, when the kids are painting... I love to sit and paint with them.
When the crayons are smudging, my fingers are in it too.

Then, during naps or bedtime.... I sneak a few more moments to paint.
How do you find your outlets for creativity?

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Post Script:  My apologies for not having the COMICS here lately... a few projects of late are channelling all my extra time (eager to show in the future!).

Creatively yours,
Mel ;o) 
 

9.25.2014

A letter to my 'young mama' self:

Some of you may remember that post where I wrote a letter to my 'sixteen year old self'...yes?
Well, today I wanted to write a letter to myself as a new mom... because it's also a lot of things I want to say to all young/new mamas out there.
So here it is:

Dear mama Mel,

Congratulations on just making it through the most intense, horrific, wild and wonderful event of your life - birthing that stubborn little girl into this world!  I am so proud of you, and amazed at your strength to just do what you did!  (However, you really should have just told hubby Ben to 'stay up at your head'... sooo, give him time to come around from the post-traumatic shock).

There's just a few things I want to tell you, but I know you won't hear me.
Yeah, that's your first issue - listen to those who love you.
I know you feel like you've read all the books, and know all the strategies to enact on this new child.  I know you feel super sensitive to anyone telling you how to 'do your new job'.  But, remember that those who love you, and are offering advice, are doing so because they... wait for it... LOVE you.  They aren't being super-judgey-pants and trying to point the finger.  Their suggestions aren't saying 'hey, you clearly suck at this gig'.. they're saying 'hey, I've walked this wild road.. can I help you watch for the potholes?'.  So yeah, turn down the defensive, and tune in to all the sage help from mamas who have gone before you.

Next, savour these moments.
I know.. you want to slap me for saying that.  When the baby just won't settle... the screaming through the nights seem endless... and the window seems like the appropriate place to throw your darling child through... you just want to be DONE.  Savour this?
Just know it's a moment.  It feels like eternity... but you'll turn around and the child will be rushing out the door to school.  The nights will be quiet... you'll stare at the ceiling and long for just one more night of that rhythmic two-step with the warmth of their weight against your chest.

Lastly, this new chapter of your life is ushering you into a massive identity overhaul.
It seems as though the labels are all laying on the table before you, waiting to see which one will stick.  Will you define yourself as the 'hippy-all-natural-crunchy' mama?  Will you be the productive, nothing stops me from keeping the house clean, mama?  Do you co-sleep? Do you breastfeed or do formula?  Check, check, check.  These boxes start to feel stifling.
It seems like your previous identity is being burned up on this altar.
Because, yes, this is sacrificial living at it's truest form.
Giving all you having to this tiny being who can give nothing back.
Your wardrobe, your schedule, your free time, your social calendar, your diet... everything becomes focused on nurturing this child.
There will be moments you resent them for this reality.
You'll grow weary of constantly having to think about someone else before yourself.
 The craving for 'me-time' will feel like that dangling carrot... that insatiable longing to just dive headlong back in on yourself will taunt you.

Trust me when I say this:
Do not resent the gift of selflessness this child forces upon you.
Keep yourself on this altar.
They are God's fingers at work in you.
They are burning away your pride, your self-righteous reliance, your petty pursuits.
Hide your identity in Christ alone.
 Your life will become sweet incense.

Oh, one more last thing... I'm not going to tell you how many kids you end up having, but they are a treasure.  Just know, the best present you can give them is your presence.  You can't afford all the latest child gadgets, newest outfits, and wild vacations...  they don't care.
Because, you know what?  Our soon-to-come son just woke up from his nap crying.
You know what I did?
I held him.
Rocked him back and forth.
Whispered: "It's ok, mama's here".
He snuggled in and stopped crying.
Magic.

Mama's here.
The two most powerful words you have to give.

Love,
Mel ;o)
 
 


 
 
 

9.24.2014

home//school:

Hello friends!

Many of you have been wondering how our oldest is doing with her big first year of attending school (s/k).  I think... pretty good?

She's been eager to go most days.  I haven't cried anymore!  She comes home exhausted, but non-stop talking.  Her back pack filled with little sketches, tiny rocks and smelly socks.
It's still taking me time to find our new 'rhythm' around the house.
The days feel all chopped up with getting Azriel ready to go in the mornings... and hiking over to the school to get her in the afternoons, but we're rolling with it.

Hudson is enjoying extra time with mama I think.
I kind of follow him around... saying things like "potty?" or.. "want to play?".

Talia is still the sweetest little lamb.
She's been keeping us up a lot in the nights... but the days of cuteness make up for it.
 ---

So yeah, our family is rolling with the new schedules around here.
We actually requested to keep our girl home on wednesdays, to better pace out this full time school wildness.  It's great to have her around - craziness and all!

I still feel like that's the ideal solution to our whole homeschool vs. school conflict... to send her part-time (forever!).  hehe.

Thanks for wondering how our crew is doing,
hope your world is spinning well.

Mel ;o)


9.18.2014

D.I.Y: hospitality.

 Well now that I said I was going to write this 'hospitality how-to's' post, it seems... silly.
Because really, what can I tell you that you don't already know?
Since basically this topic is just about inviting people IN to your world, and maybe even putting a warm meal in their belly.  That's not rocket science.

(So maybe, just maybe this post is for the young mothers out there who struggle with some of those issues that I mentioned previously).

Here's some helpful hints (from my own experience) about opening the chaos of your home, and sharing it with others:

Plan ahead.  Invite people over a week ahead of time.  Find out what food issues/allergies/intolerances they may have.  Choose the meal.  Make your grocery list.

Cook ahead.  (No, don't cook a head... gross).  But, if possible, get that meal started before the guests arrive.  I prefer to be able to visit with people when they show up.. vs. having to run around the kitchen (though sometimes it's required).  The best meals for this type of approach would be crock pot recipes, currys, soups, or casseroles.  These can be cooking or simmering as long as you want, without your constant attention.

* Involve the kids.  Yes, we want our family to enjoy having company!  If your kids just associate guests with 'Mom is on a cleaning-fuming-cooking-demanding rampage' it's probably not going to be their idea of a good time (or yours).  Just remember that your kids are more valuable than a perfectly clean house.  Anytime I get more concerned about my agenda than about involving the kids... I get angry.  I try to involve the kids by getting the oldest (4.5yrs) to help set the table/make the meal with me/craft some decorations even/or help feed the baby (6mos).  The little guy (2.5yrs) is his own mess maker, so I often have him up on a chair *pretending* to wash dishes.. (a.k.a...splash water everywhere).  Because inevitably, every.one.wants.to.be.in.the.kitchen despite it being the size of a broom closet!  ;o)

Even the baby.  She like to fuss and holler right at prime cooking time. (Don't all babies?).
So I usually have her in the portable rocker chair... so I can feed her, rock her with my foot and still do meal prep.  Go team!

Ok, that's just some basic reminders I'm sure.

The key for us mamas is that we remember it's not the success of the meal, the perfection of the home or the proper behaviour of our children that makes for 'good hospitality'.
Hospitality shines brightest from a home that reflects love.
Love that is authentic.  Love that opens it's door, it's table, it's heart to others.

Warmly,
Mel ;o) 

P.S... if you have any other hints or insights from your own experiences, I'd love to hear too!

 

9.15.2014

confessions. hospitality 101.

 Confession:  I used to think that hospitality was on par with shoving burning splints under one's finger nails.  It's not that I didn't enjoy having people over... I did.  I just would get overwhelmed by the seemingly crushing ideals of what a hostess was supposed to be.

 ---
I used to think I had to be an amazing cook (or at least not break out in a cold sweat upon entering the kitchen).
It turns out there's this amazing device called the 'interwebs' whereby you can look up a recipe, find the most popular reviews, and cook without fear.
--- 

I used to think the house had to be spotless.  You know, since most of us want the world to think we live in a magazine cut-out of the perfect home.
It turns out that the real mess is where authenticity and humility are best served.
---

I used to think I'm too busy to serve others... with the three toddlers underfoot.
It's true, it is busy, but it's worth teaching them the value of opening our home to others.
---

I used to think I had to be super social and not introverted as a hostess.
Hospitality is the perfect solution... bring people IN to the comfort of your own cave.
Being a good listener can far outweigh filling the space with your own banter.
---

I used to think it cost too much to entertain.  Thinking that our grocery budget could not bear the added strain of extra food/drink.
It turns out that you can serve simply when you need to.
A cup of water, instead of a fancy martini, still tastes sweet amongst friends.
---
Every week our home is filled with different wonderful souls.
There's tea times, play dates with kids, dinners, evening coffees, occasional campfires, etc.
 For this, we are blessed.
---
It's only been during this past year that my head and heart have really embraced the beauty of hospitality.  Having shed the dusty notion from my mind that being 'stay-at-home' somehow meant 'cut off from everyone'.  Suddenly I've begun to see our home as the very ground of mission, the very spot from which I can serve and love others.  I still sometimes struggle with the above fears.  I still worry the meal will be a burnt offering.  The kids still go bat-crazy at 4:30.  I still wonder why on earth any one would want to step foot into our chaos some days...
...but they do.

And so, we learn the way of hospitality day by day.
Meal by meal.
It's not what we keep, but what we give, that fills our hearts.
Not what we hoard, but what we share, that fills our bellies.

You may recall the last post about hospitality,
quoting that 'love is an open door',
now I would add: love is an open table, too.

Serve up the feast!

Mel ;o)

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P.S - I plan to add a small sequel post to this called "hospitality how-to's"... stay tuned, friends.
 
 

9.13.2014

cartoons + caricatures:

Hello friends!
For those of you stopping in for the weekend COMICs served up here often.. sorry, I just did not get time this week.  But, one morning while colouring with our big 'school girl' here... I whipped up this quick caricature of her with some markers.  It turned out cuter than expected.
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What's more adorable, Azriel is whipping up her own cute drawings.  Often bringing us home some hilarious sketches from school now.

A recent favourite.
"Dad... with hair":

Nailed it.

Happy weekend'ing friends,
Mel ;o)
 

9.09.2014

D.I.Y ~ encouragement.

This post has been on my heart for a long time now.
It's been brimming like a flood of words within me, and I fear if I just turn the tap, I'll drown us all in it's deluge.  But for what it's worth, here's my heart.

There are days when I look around me and see so much beauty I feel I could burst with joy.
Those days are lovely.
But, there are also days when I see so much brokenness in this world, I feel I could bust.
I see the discouragement that has worn deep lines into the faces of people I love.
I see broken marriages, people struggling with finances (and poverty), and losses that tear people at their core.
It's like a house fire of the heart.
The discouragement that's slowly smouldering inside, and only those who really know you can smell the smoke.

And I feel the weight of it.
A burden within me to rush in and rescue.
The desire to help, but the inability to save.
I only hold a tear dropper to the blaze before me.
  
When I look at this broken, hurting world and I just want to love it all back together again... I am overwhelmed.  Where do I start?

Then I look here.
The pages of healing.
The Word made flesh.
The Christ Who wrapped Himself in our brokenness, our suffering, our sin... so that we may be wrapped in His righteousness, His beauty, His perfection.

I read:
"Encourage/exhort one another every day... that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin"
Hebrews 3:13

It strikes me that we who live through Jesus carry a heavy responsibility here.
We are called to encourage every day... being used by God to help keep others hearts soft.
Do we do that?

Maybe our first problem is that we're so stuck in our own heads to notice other people are hurting around us.  Maybe we don't even know how to encourage...?
Encouragement is not just tossing someone a compliment.
Saying: "I like your hairstyle" is not going to strengthen someone.
"How can I pray for you?" may be a better place to start.

The only true HOPE, the bedrock that a drowning friend in the faith needs... is to be pointed to Christ.  You can't save them.
You need to get out of the way.  

But you can love them.
Encourage them.
Pray for them.

Write a letter.
Drop off a coffee.
Share a meal.
Shut up and just listen.
Hug without words.

Do It Yourself: Encouragement.
A free gift you can lavish on every one around you.

Thanks for hearing me gush,
Mel ;o)