Children are great teachers, if we remember to look to them for lessons. Today I wanted to share a few lessons that I continue to learn from my kids.
1. Wake up happy. Oh sure, it is easy to whine about how early it is, how you had to stay up late to finish a project, how you need coffee, whatever. Kids skip that bit and wake up ready and excited for the day ahead.
2. Sing and dance like a crazy person. Who cares if you can't hit a note? Go for it anyway and don't break eye contact as you hit that wrong note, just hold it and if you're feeling crazy go louder.
When you dance flail your arms, spin, bob your head, just do what feels good and don't care what anybody else thinks, unless it looks fun to you, then give it your best try.
Also, doesn't matter so much if you are singing or dancing to music. Just do your own thing.
3. Use your body all the time. Your body is crazy, kids get that. You can jump and run and do cart wheels. Your physical being is with you every single day you are here. Work with it and it will work for you. Bonus points for being amazed at all it does for you.
4. Don't worry about how other perceive you. Don't worry about pimples or wrinkles, or anything that doesn't actually hurt. A bad haircut or thick thighs don't stop a toddler from having a good time and you shouldn't let them stop you either.
5. Use your imagination. It changes everything. Life is so much better, so muh richer the more you use your creativity. Imagine how your life could be. Imagine talking horses or (if you are super boring) a new way to organize your filing system.
6. Love hard. Hug and kiss and hold hands with those you love. Let them know that they are cared for deeply. Kids understand that love is the most important of all things in life.
7. Don't worry so much about being clean. The world is germs and gross, but get over it. Have fun and don't worry so much about mud and dirt. Clean yourself the necessary amount, then let it go.
8. Express how you feel. Perhaps skip the toddler style meltdown, but don't be afraid to let others know how you feel. A lot of time and energy would be saved if people were just clear about their emotions.
9. Learn and learn and learn. Ask questions and seek out the answers.
10. Make fun a priority. What is the point in sucking the joy from life. You fall down, you get back up. You are hurt, you cry and then move forward, perhaps a little wiser. No matter what the goal is to get back to the fun as quickly as possible.
This morning there was a light dusting of fresh snow outside. Inside of our home it was a bit chilly. I turned up the heat and then I grabbed a pair of socks and put them on my feet before I went about my morning business of preparing breakfast and packing a lunch for Eric. The girls did their usual thing. Lately this means that they run around like crazy.
When I walked into the kitchen to prepare some scrambled tofu the girls were pretending to be magical talking kittens. There was a lot of meowing, Elise following her sister's lead. Cordelia told me that she was the type of kitten who could suck her hairs in and look like a human. I was vaguely creeped out.
I filled their glasses with vegetable juice, mine with orange juice because I think vegetable juice tastes like scabs probably taste. I am not willing to test my theory, so a theory it shall remain.
I noticed that things had become a little quiet. Eric was getting ready so I knew they were on my watch. Parenting 101 teaches us all that silence is never golden. Usually this means that something is being painted that shouldn't be painted or that things are being dropped into the toilet bowl. They'd been out of my sight for just a moment so I was hopeful that they hadn't had time to do much damage.
I found them in the next room on their knees, hands folded, eyes closed, praying.
Cordelia led the serious prayer pausing as Elise repeated:
Cordelia: Dear God
Elise: Dee Gah
Cordelia: Please help mom.
Elise: Peas momma
Here my heart swelled as I thought Cordelia was thinking about how hard and exhausting it is to be a mother...
Well, now that the dust has settled a bit from my opening a couple of weekends ago I am ready to address the numerous requests for prints. The prints are limited edition giclee prints on high quality paper, professionally photographed and printed. They come mounted and wrapped.
I am doing a first run here and in a month or so (I will let you know) I will have a shop set up on the web site where you can buy prints as well.
For the first run I decided to go with a few of the most popular pieces. Please contact me at maria @ planetwimmer.com if you are interested in having a print made.
Last night it was warm enough for Cordelia and I to take a walk with the dogs as the sun was setting. We walked at a four year old pace, stopping to conquer mountains of rapidly melting snow and inspect pine cones.I reveled in the bearable temperatures of the air, the constant stream of chatter that Cordelia released into the evening air. Betty and Bumblebee were happy to amble along and enjoy smelling all of the wet earth. I am so excited for spring and green growing things and evenings on the back patio and the sun on my skin. I look forward to afternoons on the back patio with the sprinkler going as two little girls giggle and scream. Last night was good too, just a mother and her oldest daughter and a couple of basset hounds.
Today I am headed to the dentist for a checkup here in a few minutes. The dentist has a massage chair; for some reason I find it to be the opposite of relaxing. I am not one to feel uncomfortable at the dentist, but the chairs are weird. It feels like single fingers poking my kidneys. I never say anything because the hygienist is so sweet about it. She is excited and says, "I know how much you like the massage chair so I have it ready for you." I think what happened was that when we first started here they mentioned that they had massage chairs and I said something like, "OOOO fancy!" So they made a note and now I am stuck with it forever unless I want to say something to the thoughtful hygienist.
The girls played dress up last night. Elise is wearing this cape that Eric and I made for Cordelia when she was a little older than Elise is now.
Since we are on the topic of children; the soundtrack to Frozen has been on repeat. When it is not actually playing the girls are both singing it. Cordelia knows the song, more or less. She sort of sounds out things like the line Frozen fractals all around becomes Crozan frakals all around---and the line The past is in the past is sung by Cordelia as, The past is in the caaaaaast. Elise sings along, sort of. She picks out certain words and notes singing with emphasis as she twirls and gesticulates like Elsa.
Most afternoons when I should be productive as Elise naps and Cordelia plays I zone out on Pinterest and look for stupid/funny things to send to my friend Sarah. I like to think of this as my down time.
I haven't read a book in over a month because I am mad at a book. I won't name the book as that just wouldn't be nice, but I was really enjoying it and it took a turn toward the dumb. I was so annoyed that I tossed the book aside. Unable to finish it I am sort of stuck, feeling like I should see it through before I start another. I should note that I have a mountain of books that I want to read just sitting on my nightstand.
While we were in Cheyenne over the weekend that insane storm came through. The temperatures plummeted and on Saturday morning we awoke to a cold and beautiful landscape. The temperatures hovered just below 0F. The trees looked as though they had been frosted with icing, gorgeous. Eric was there for a work event so he was busy for much of the day giving and attending lectures. I was left with the task of entertaining the ladies.
We noticed that there was something going on at the capitol building. There were huge mountains of snow that had been shaped into slides, forts, snow people. Unfortunately it was just a bit too cold for such little girls. So I decided that we would laugh in the face of the extended winter and visit the greenhouse at the botanic gardens, or atomic gardens as Cordelia calls them. I will pause while you squeal at the adorableness of that....
We drove over to the greenhouse and it was just gorgeous outside. There was a bubbling stream at which twenty or so robins had congregated. Their red breasts against the soft white snow was breathtaking. Unfortunately I couldn't get a photo so I will let you use your imagination.
We entered the building and had the place to ourselves. The heat and humidity were a wonderful change from the cold and dry winter air. There were plants and a small pond and green growing things aplenty.
Cordelia was quite nervous in the cactus section, requesting that I keep a tight hold on her sister. I am certain my parents are laughing as they read this; I was exactly the same about my brothers when I was young.
I spent the day in Cheyenne with our girls yesterday while Eric was judging art for a competition, he gets asked to do that from time to time. Seemed like a good time to get out of town and break up the day. So we piled into the truck and headed to the state capitol. The girls were awesome for the drive. I purchased the soundtrack to Frozen as both girls are totally insane about it and sing the Let It Go song, endlessly. I popped that soundtrack in and the girls listened for the entire ride. Over and over and over. Once Eric and I were able to tune it out we enjoyed conversation and a nice ride.
All photos below are from my phone, please excuse poor quality!
When we arrived in Cheyenne I dropped him off for his work and the girls and I went to the mall where I correctly assumed there would be a play area. I let them run off steam for an hour!
Elise figured out how to ride the slide, finally.
Cordelia was a blur of activity. So this was the clearest shot of her. I will say that she spent her entire time trying to show her little sister how to do everything. Even when another child asked Cordelia to play, something she lives for, she said, "No thank you. I need to play with my sister."
Then we grabbed some lunch before heading to their awesome library (thanks for the tip Sarah) where the girls were in heaven for the next hour!
Elise ate pretend soy bacon in the kitchen area of the library.
Cruisin' in the book mobile.
Cordelia shows us all how to use this giant book return machine. It was nuts.
When it was time to pick Eric up from the museum we arrived a little early and the girls entertained themselves with the hat box.
Elise insisted on only wearing this yellow number. Made me think of Curious George.
Cordelia preferred anything gaudy.
My large noggin cannot be contained by a ten gallon hat.
The girls took a "ride" on a carriage wearing their hats.
We ended the day with Cordelia choking the life out of hugging her father at a restaurant.
Last night my friend Laura joined us for dinner. I have known Laura for much of my life. She is one of those people with whom I am fortunate to have crossed paths at different points in our lives, childhood and adulthood.
She is more than a friend. She honestly feels like family. She is easy to be around, kind, honest, funny and generally wonderful.
Yesterday morning when I told the girls that Laura would be over they flipped! All day long Cordelia wanted a countdown to her arrival. Elise would just randomly call her name.
So, in short, Laura is totally radical and we are so fortunate to know her.
Which leads me to the point of this post. Last night she gifted me with the most amazing and thoughtful present! A manatee tea infuser, manatea!!! Something that, unbeknownset to her, I have long had my eye on. Even better she put little crowns on the manatees on the box as it was a gift for my show (called Kingdom which featured crowned animals). See, isn't she awesome?!?
Afternoons are the most routine of times in our home. With nap time,
quiet play time, the episode or two of My Little Pony that Cordelia is
allowed to watch, snack time, pick up time, Eric's return. Most weekdays
we do not deviate from this routine. There is something comforting for children about knowing what to expect. I suppose that is because much of childhood is lived at the whims of adult choices.
I remember a time, not so long ago, when a snow storm elicited delighted squeals from myself and our daughters, thankfully Eric is not a squealer. I would wax poetic about the silence of snow at night, the glittery sparkle of sunshine on clean white snow. Now, I am totally over it. We all are. Don't get me wrong, pretty snow is beautiful and magical, but the winter you get at this point is far from magical. Winter in February can be brutal, unrelenting, cold, icy, and soooo past the glory days. It's kind of like a washed out pop star singing the same hit over and over and over and over again. Oh look, the weather, it's snow--- AGAIN!
Oh don't worry I am not getting all complain-y here, that's not for this blog. I am not too much of a whiner, but I do need to set up the blog post for today. I need you to feel this cold with me and to roll your eyes at yet another snow storm.You see it started to fall a little bit at first, but soon there was some serious accumulation....another storm!
On our drive home from preschool pick up Cordelia was asking about rain and lightning and hail. She sighed and exclaimed, in her dramatic way," When is winter ever gonna be done?!" I laughed and told her that spring would be here before we knew it. I said that even as I peered past the frozen patch on the windshield that the wipers cannot seem to clear.
So it came as no surprise later that afternoon when my strong willed four year old and her willing accomplice put on their raincoats and rain boots. They ignored the mountains of snow just beyond the walls of our home, transported to some magical place like the pacific northwest. There were deep puddles and big raindrops and snails and slugs. We spent some time pretending that a spring storm had popped up in our living room. I prepared dinner while I sent them in search of imaginary worms. Cordelia picked me a bouquet of flowers that smelled "exactly like a rainbow."
Soon enough the real thing will be upon us. I can almost feel those cold raindrops on my skin and hear the roll of distant thunder. Yet, this morning the snow sure is sparkling in the sunlight and that is good too.
So I mentioned yesterday that Eric has just completed an artist residency. This was a big deal for him and for our family. He spent two weeks away from us and focused all day every day on his art!
For those of you who may not be farmiliar with residencies they are a pretty amazing opportunity. First, of course, is the time and space to work---uninterrupted. There often are opportunities to meet others in the field and do some networking or collaborative work. Finally, it is good for the resume.
So, Eric and I carefully planned it out. It was hard for him to be away from his family, especially with two very little ladies, but we decided that the potential benefits were worth the sacrifice. For the record, this is the longest that he and I had been apart since we became a couple in 1997. It was weird all around.
While he was away I held down the fort. It was not so difficult, just a little lonely. Having two sick kids and being ill myself made for a kind of intense time, but it would have been intense either way. Thankfully I had friends and family who were willing to stop by to give me a little company or a few minutes to take a stress free shower; as opposed to those showers that I had to listen for a crying baby, those were fast showers as apparently everything sounds like a crying baby when you are listening for one.
We did sneak away a couple of Saturdays ago and drove up to visit Eric for a couple of hours, but all in all it was quite a break from the norm. Thankfully we live in a day and age where we were able to text and facetime (or face mask as Cordelia calls it) so we felt connected in spite of the distance.
Now, Eric is home with an amazing new body of work that is museum ready! Hopefully this experience will continue to move him forward in his artistic career.
Friday was much anticipated for two reasons, the first you already know about---the show of my new work opened. The second, more important reason, was that Eric had finally returned from his artist residency. He'd been away for two loooong weeks (the two weeks that the girls and I were sick). I will tell you more about that in the coming days.
Anyway, I woke up on Friday morning and immediately started texting Eric. Have you left? Then I took sad face pictures of the girls and sent them to him to urge him on his journey. Then we started prepping for the day. I took care of a few last minute details for the show. I ran some errands. Then at lunch time Eric was back!!!!
Over the course of the afternoon Eric prepared an awesome playlist for the show which featured only bands that had animals or royalty in their names of song titles. He did this because my show, called Kingdom, featured a bunch of animals in crowns. I also made cookies for the show, because that's how I roll.
We got ourselves ready. Cordelia spent the greatest amount of time preparing herself (dress, fancy hat, scarves, purse, makeup--chapstick). We hustled out the door and piled into the car. While we pulled out of the garage I noticed the first flakes starting to fall and I thought to myself, "Well...we'll see if anyone comes out into the snow for the opening."
When we arrived we walked into the gallery and people were already starting to show up. The place filled up with friends, family, strangers, and the big surprise was my aunt and uncle came in from out of town! I was totally floored by the turn out. I received such kind words and generous gestures...I really felt undeserving of such an outpouring. I mean, if only I could hold up a reflector and shoot that goodness back out at the world...ugh, I know, I am totally a cheese-ball (a vegan cheese-ball, ah-thank-you-ah-very-much). I went home after the opening and, even though my voice was fading and I was totally wiped out, I was filled with joyful gratitude. How wonderful to be surrounded by such amazing people!
The show was quite a success. Honestly, I couldn't be happier. I sold well. I made some great connections. I had a great time. The kids had fun---they were there for about an hour before my parents took them home and put them to bed. Now I am ready to get back to painting!
While the show sold really well there are a few pieces left. I you are interested in a price list of available works just email me. Otherwise, I will have giclee prints available for online sale in the coming weeks!
The show, empty and full
Eric at the show. Photographers love to have their photos taken. Trust me...
My friend, artist and gallery owner, Zachary Pullen