Raising a Mini Me

My littlest is an artist and was born with a crayon in his hand. For as long as he’s been alive, Q-man has always been coloring, drawing, molding, sculpting, creating, building, and generally in his imagination. He has gone from one obsession to the next – Thomas the Tank Engine, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Minecraft, Five Nights at Freddy, Spiderman….you get the idea. When he isn’t dressed up and pretending to be one of his favorite characters, he’s creating something. Always creating something. My house is covered with his artwork – most is on paper, in notebooks, some framed, some on the walls in his room. or furniture – and I don’t see that ending. Hopefully ever. Well, the drawing on furniture and walls can end.

Recently I read an article that really resonated with me. I can’t seem to find it, so I’ll paraphrase. The gist of it is that you should find something, anything, that you and your child love to do together, some shared passion, and cultivate it. That passion will get you through the tough years. My oldest is a mini version of my husband so I’m going to have to rely on my better half to handle S during the teen years. The littlest is a mini me….and let me tell you:

It’s hard to raise a little me. I’m a pain. A lovable, adorable pain, but a pain, nonetheless. I mean Q-man is a lovable, adorable pain.

I’ve thought about that article a lot over the summer and tried to find new ways to connect with my kids. The older one is more cerebral so baking, artwork, and coloring don’t appeal to him all that much. He’s definitely more of a challenge in the connecting with things that appeal to both of us (see above statement about husband picking up the work with this one in the teen years) but I’ve been better about listening to him talk about cars and space and other items that interest him, many of which I don’t know much about. I let him educate me, and love how his face lights up when he identifies planes and talks about rockets, spacecraft, and cars. He did declare that he wanted a quilt I was making, and I happily gave it to him, so that’s a win. And he’s been wanting to learn to cook so S and I have spent more time in the kitchen together. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that.  He picks one dinner meal we eat each week and has to help prepare it. That’s been fabulous!

While S is at drama camp this week (which he LOVES! it’s a nice change of pace and he’s having blast!), Q and I took a few hours to head to the High Museum of Art. We checked out the Warhol exhibit, excluding a section that was too mature in nature for him, and saw some other fun stuff. His little mind was blown. He couldn’t believe some of the art was art. You mean sitting on a log chair is art? whaaaa???? And as we went through the Warhol exhibit, what do you mean that’s a photograph that’s been enlarged, screen printed and painted on? Multiple times in different combinations…how is that done?! It was fascinating to see the wheels churning.

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On the way out, we browsed through gift shop and found a GREAT book. It’s called 642 Things to Draw. If you can’t get to the High, or find it at a local book shop, you can buy it here.

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The book is empty. Your young artist has to fill it. What a genius idea! Here are some of Q’s doodles:

The left side is a chocolate forest and the right side is a skeleton army, though it appears he forgot the army part, but one well drawn skeleton from the 7 year old is good enough for me.

The pages are subdivided differently so kids have an opportunity to work in different scales, and every section has something different to draw: a newborn ladybug, waking up as a zombie, happiness, an avocado wearing a coat, your junk drawer.

This book is an exploration in creativity.

Seriously, people. Get this book for your creative kid. He or she will love it! It’s been a BIG hit at my house.

Happy drawing!

When You Stop Being RAW

Be Daring, Be Different,
Be Impractical,  Be
Anything That Will
Assert Integrity Of
Purpose And Imaginative
Vision Against The
Play-It-Safers, The
Creatures Of The
Commonplace, The
Slaves Of The Ordinary.

Cecil Beaton

I’ve always believed that you should live your life being the best you that you can be. Be strong and powerful. Create your own beautiful life. Rebel a little. Remember it’s okay not to conform, and different is good.

Then the last year happened.

It was unbelievably stressful for me. While there were moments of amazing, like my book being published and Alex Anderson at my School House (I almost died! I forgot what I wanted to say…it was all fabulous in my head until I saw her in the front row…then I choked a little bit), I always had the weight of some things going on in my life weighing heavily on my mind. December through May had me in knots, I was RAW, but since school ended I’ve been able to start getting my mojo back. Or as a friend of mine calls it, my sewjo. (Best phrase EVER!)

I spent a lot of the last six months WANTING to be productive and creative, knowing it would be a healthy outlet, but I didn’t have it in me. My inspiration was crushed. I worked on a few things, but not at my normal speed. Quilt making was slow and almost painful, in a way.  While I’ve always had ideas circling in my head, the inspiration for new quilts wasn’t there. I didn’t have a list of twenty new quilt ideas – I could barely come up with one. When I did have a spark of inspiration I had a tough time getting concepts to come to life, and if I got stuck, I’d quit. When I’d go back to the quilt or whatever project, it always seemed to take longer to make anything happen, and I didn’t always like what I was making. Blogging  from the heart was impossible because when I sat down to write the words were toxic, and that’s not me. I’m not perfect, but I’m not (usually) toxic. I’d become a shell of someone I didn’t recognize and kinda didn’t like her.

Try as I might, I could not get out of the fog in my head, going over things again and again. I knew it wasn’t healthy for me to do that,  but I was so angry –  so RAW – at some of the events that transpired AND at myself for getting so caught up in my head – the one thing I NEED to get my ideas transformed from cloth. I knew that space and time would help, and they have, but waiting for those two things to happen caused me much heartache.

Finally, summer arrived. I spent some time getting my house organized. It started with one closet, and trickled to other rooms. Cleaning closets, purging drawers, reorganizing toys, crafts, and fabric. The things you always put off because they aren’t exactly fun but you are always SO glad when you finish.

But for me, I wasn’t just reclaiming my house, I was reclaiming my heart. I was reclaiming the space in my head, clearing out the clutter that I’d ignored for months because I couldn’t deal with it, and taking that space back, literally and metaphorically. Welcoming back my creativity. My happy. My peace. My me.

All of ^^^ that has been good for my mental health, not to mention my house, and I’m starting to feel like my old self again. The me that loves life, and the special people that share it with me and have my back.

I’ve regained the me that is unequivocally, somewhat unapologetically ME. I’ve returned to being who, in my heart, I know I am, and once again being true to that girl. A little sweet, a little snark, a lot of sarcasm, and a little rebellious. And I have needed it. A LOT. Turns out I missed her.

Turns out, that finding her again has sparked my creative spirit, too. I have the next twenty quilts in front of me, and projects, and it’s good. It’s really, really good.

17359458_10155937369352995_5006696626382673197_oWhile all this was going on, I felt the need to rebel a little bit, to prove that the mostly sweet, creative soul with a splash of bada–was still somewhere in there. I’m not gonna lie, getting this tattoo felt good to honor the rebel in me.  I’ve wanted one for 25 years. A needle and thread, and the word fly….it’s a nod to my book club and nod to myself to remember that I conquer anything; I can put on my big girl panties and rise to the occasion to overcome, and when I need to, I can spread my wings and fly.