Getting Out

(Two posts in a row?  Don’t get too excited – I mostly posted yesterday so the art post would be on top because reasons.)

Anyway, I’m sending out a whole bunch of postcards at once, some new and some old, and I figured I’d show them all at once.  Voilà!


As I said, some of these are older ones that you may have seen before.  But I kinda like having them all together, and it’ll make a useful post for people who want to see my art.

I guess I should have numbered them if I want to talk about them properly.  I suppose I still could, but I’m not going to.

Anyway, the bright pink and green ones (left top and left bottom corners) were done on paper grocery bags – I had some contact paper stencils left over from another project (the Silhouette kept shredding them, or stopping halfway through, or otherwise mangling cuts – eventually I realized that if I left the contact paper under something heavy so it was flat when it got cut, the cut went more smoothly) and I laid them down more or less at random and started piling color on top.  Once I’d pulled up the stencils I could cut them into postcards or other collage material – I’ve actually still got some left.

Several elements here were inspired by i am rushmore, including the overall layout of the one that says “I can’t have a saber toothed walrus,” the circle stamp that you can see on several of them (made by cutting circles out of fun foam and gluing them to the lid of the mod podge – I guess I’ll have to keep the lid when the jar is done!), and new experiments with transparent layers.  I have a roll of rice paper diaper liners lying about since my abortive experiment with cloth diapers, and I recently discovered that it makes a great transparent layer.  It’s sturdier than tissue, but it disappears almost as well when I glue it down.  So I wrote on it with sharpie and the glued it on upside down, to make an abstract-ish handwriting element, and I stamped it and ran it through the printer and generally had an excellent time with it.

As for the quotes, “secret place of thunder” is from Psalm 81, “I cannot have a saber-toothed walrus” is from the very funny (if you’re enough of a nerd) Things Mr Welch Can No Longer Do In An RPG, and “I was too busy watching you going wild child to be worried about going to jail” is from the song “Cop Car” by Keith Urban.  I thought “Cop Car” was hilarious, actually, but I think it was only funny at that time and that place.

Beauty and Kitten added paint to some of my old ICAD cards, and I cut up the resulting cards for collage elements in a few places.  That kind of iterative art is really fun to play with.

And now most of these are going out in the mail to various friends, and that makes me happy.

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I’ve started calling my girls my “ducklings.”  I’m not sure why – it started a few weeks ago when I turned to see them trundling along after me and their little bobbing heads (well, mostly Kitten’s bobbing head – Beauty is a bit big for bobbing) reminded me of ducklings walking.

Since then Beauty has decided that only children under the age of six or so can be ducklings.  If I ask if any other family members or other adults are ducklings, I get a resounding “nooooooo.”  Other children are sometimes ducklings, depending on mood.

Beauty has really been blossoming lately, though.  I’m not sure what triggered it (time, probably) but the past month or so saw a whole little renaissance in how she thinks and interacts with the world.  She suddenly started coloring in the lines (at at least attempting to) and has colored several beautifully-vivid mandalas I printed from the internet.  She used to just stack stickers on top of each other, but now she notices what they are and creates abstract map-scenes depicting the interrelation of the items.  She speaks English far more than nonsense now, and she makes up “games” and tells Kitten to “fly like this, and then turn around, and then a big jump, and then…”  Admittedly Kitten mostly laughs and flaps her arms, but it’s the thought that counts.

She’s also (finally!) potty training.  Last time around I tried using treats, which was useful for getting her to try the potty but ultimately hurt the cause, I think.  This time we used a “paradigm shift”: from now on you use the potty because that is how it is.  It’s going pretty well.

Beauty still loves painting and still mixes all the paints together into brown most of the time, but occasionally she will keep them separate, and she always wants to tell me about what she painted.  Kitten is finally able to paint with a brush instead of trying to eat it, so I’m excited to see what she gets up to next.

And Kitten is racing around as fast as her little feet will carry her, which is faster than I expected sometimes.  She loves to find pieces of clothing – from the laundry, from the dresser, from the floor – and carry them all over the house.  She also likes dancing, and I see her carefully focusing on sequences of motions (first raise hands, then turn in a circle, repeat) when there is music on.  She likes stickers – mostly peeling them off the sheet and handing them to me, but sometimes she sticks them herself – and pulling all the spoons from the silverware drawer and waving them around with a gleeful flint in her eye.  My current theory is that she’s planning on turning them into shurikens somehow.

We’re also getting her first real words, aside from “yeah” and “hi.”  Beauty listened carefully and pulled out whole words at once, so that her vocabulary seemed to spring from nowhere.  Kitten has spent ages experimenting with all the sounds she can make, and now she’s starting to take a stab at the words they go with.  So she says “ma” for “more” and “me” for “milk” and “ah da” for “all done” and (cutest and happiest of all) “ah-la” for “I love you.”  She isn’t very consistent with any of them, but it seems to make her happy.

While Beauty has long enjoyed watching me shower, Kitten insists on getting in with me, and Beauty usually follows her.  This makes bathing interesting, as I’m sure you can imagine.  Kitten especially likes hugging my leg and letting the water pour over her – which is surprising given that I don’t make the water any cooler than usual.  (Though today Kitten decided to investigate the shiny silver knobs and made me yelp when she turned the water cold!)  But it’s a nice way to keep them both happy for half an hour or so.  It was especially helpful the last time Hero was sick – he would stand under the hot water until it ran cold, allowing the steam to help his congestion, while the girls cavorted in the water around him so I could have a break.

And that is my girlies.  I might add pictures at some point, if I’m feeling ambitious, but don’t count on it.

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The Sound and the Nerdery

I was fairly good at recording Beauty’s every move and word and discovery, but less so with Kitten.  This is life.  We do have plenty of photos of her, so that’s something.

Kitten is more cheerful than Beauty was at this age.  She’s more convinced that life is wonderful and people are friendly and things are waiting to be enjoyed, where Beauty was more inclined to study and analyze and understand things and people before attempting to interact with them.

Consequently Kitten is more eager to walk, and insists that we walk her everywhere, all the time.  I don’t think Beauty ever showed interest in walking with support.  Kitten grabs things, and eats things, and loves to feel textures and find pretty pictures and taste things and make sounds.  Beauty looked at things – especially text – and I think listened to words more than music.

Beauty valued words and sounds because they let her communicate.  Kitten values sounds because OH MY GOODNESS I CAN MAKE ALL THE SOUNDS!!!  She says “yeah” a lot (I think it counts as her first word, since she seems to know it means “positive.”) and spends ages making as many noises as she can find to come out of her mouth.

Beauty is painting a lot these days – I wrapped all our holiday gifts in paper grocery bags and let her paint them.  She generally ends up painting herself as well, but that’s okay.  She also likes homemade puffy paint (I love homemade puffy paint!) and gluing bits down.

She’s also enrolled in toddler gymnastics, and it’s wonderful for her.  She’s more active, more willing to try new things, more social, more confident – I’m not really sure why, but it just seems to click in her brain and unlock new paths and achievements.  So we’re *keeping* her in gymnastics.

(Gymnastics also gives me a mini-break, since I’m not required to be present for the 45-minute class.  There’s a shopping center around the block, so Kitten and I go to the grocery store or Plato’s Closet.  I’ve gotten some cute tops that way.)

Beauty seems to be interested in trivia – she wants to know the name of every song and the label for every day’s weather and so on.  I don’t get the impression that she cares much about the meaning behind the questions she asks sometimes, but she asks and locks away each fact as it’s given to her.  She’s a nerd in a way that I’m not; she’s constantly looking for trivia to file away.

And as for me, I’m painting and writing and blogging a Bible study and life goes on.

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I’m not feeling well enough to write fanfiction tonight, so I figured I might as well let you lot know that I’m alive and well (well, mostly) and not quite insane yet.

But yes!  I’ve been writing fanfiction lately.  I should probably put a link on the sidebar at some point, come to think of it.  Maybe replace the zibbet button, since I don’t think anything is listed there.  I’m writing under the name ladyphlogiston (what a surprise, I know) at and I’ve currently got a shortish LBD fic (which is probably finished, but I might add another chapter so someone can ask Darcy if he has a bum-warmin’ toilet) and an AU Pride and Prejudice set in the 20s and a four-way Sherlock Holmes crossover.

I’m enjoying myself.  The Holmes one is fun and easyish to write (though I don’t actually know what the bad guys are up to yet, so I should probably figure that out) and the 20s one is harder, in part because I have to stop every other sentence and find the right slang term or figure out what hats men wore or whether the Charleston was danced in the closed position.  Which it was, at first.  Now you know.

I’ve also been reading a ton of Pride and Prejudice fanfic, because it’s relaxing and fun and usually decently written.  So has Hero, actually

In other news….Beauty and Kitten are still growing and doing their thing.  Beauty takes great delight in confirming (over and over and over) that the sky is blue and the clouds are white.  I feel like there’s some spiritual lesson in that, but haven’t bothered working out what it is.

Oh!  I finished a chainmail bracelet for my sister.

The weave is called Open Round or Roundmaille, and it’s pretty simple and quite fun.  I’ve started taking my kit to the women’s bible study sometimes – it occupies my hands, like some women do with knitting.  Anyway, I used that tutorial to get it started, but every time I dropped it, it got horribly jumbled and it would take me ages to figure out which way I was going.  (Once you’ve added a few more rounds that’s less of a problem, of course.)  So I threaded a piece of t-shirt yarn through it to keep the shape, and when it was long enough I replaced the yarn with pretty ribbon.  There’s a clasp under the bow, by the way.

I haven’t seen anyone else doing this (putting beads or more rings inside is fairly popular, but I haven’t seen the ribbon through) but I doubt I’m the first to think of it.

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I kinda feel awful right now.

Beauty’s first dentist appointment was today.  She’s three.  I keep seeing articles and things saying that your child’s first dentist appointment should be when she’s two, or one, or when she gets her first tooth, or whenever, but when I called a year ago they told me to call back in a year.

So there we were, and we put her on my lap and the hygenist counted her teeth, which went okay (though Beauty tried to close her mouth whenever they put something in it), and then they got out the polisher and the hygenist asked Beauty if she could use it on her teeth.

And Beauty said no.

And the hygenist asked a couple more times, and Beauty said no, no, no I not!  And I explained to Beauty that we needed to do this a little bit, and the hygenist got the first few teeth and then started asking again, and Beauty said no some more, and finally she gave up.

We’re going to a different dentist next time, I think.

But the reason I feel awful is that this is probably the first time that Beauty was asked if she wanted something, and she made it very clear that she did not, and I made her do it anyway.  If the hygenist hadn’t asked permission, but instead had taken a “this is what we’re going to do…” approach, I wouldn’t feel bad.  We’ve been down that road at the doctor’s office plenty.  But as it is, my daughter was asked what she wanted and then her wishes were blatantly ignored and I really don’t like it.

I feel like I didn’t have any good options.  Right now I wish I’d advocated for her.  I wish I had pushed the hygenist away and pointed out that she asked and my daughter said no.  But it’s also a fact that I need to teach Beauty that what she wants isn’t always what’s good for her.

It is not helping that I’ve been seeing a lot about rape culture and consent and things lately.  I haven’t been seeking it out, but it’s been there.

I’ve always embraced a mind-minded approach to parenting.  It’s one of the things that makes me good at it.  I don’t think I did a good job today.

I think I’m finding a new dentist.  In a year.  Her teeth are fine.

And so is she.

Update, later that evening: I’m a lot calmer now.  Hero says my neurochemistry is clearly off-balance, and he’s usually right about that so I’m believing him that this will all look much better in a few days.  Stupid hormones.

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Just a little recent art today…

Postcard for a swap I’m in.  It’s a challenge swap – make a postcard with elements representing window, marsupial, Beethoven, purple, and six.  At first glance I dismissed it as impractical, but my brain kinda liked the idea.  Beethoven was the hardest – I didn’t want anything stodgy.  Eventually I found an image of his signature online, pulled it into Inkscape and made it into a stamp or brush or whatever you want to call it, and made the background you can see there.  (I printed it onto tissue and mod podged it onto my painted background.)

A progress shot from halfway through, so you can see the background properly:

The colored strips are from a photo of brightly painted windows that I found on Pinterest.  They’re my window element.  I had planned to gesso over this and get partway back to neutral, but I liked it so much I went with it.

So I stenciled on my purple six (done with bubble wrap – a few days ago we got something wrapped in bubble wrap, and I cut off a chunk and attached it to the bottom of an Altoids container for Beauty to stamp with.  We’ve both been pulling it out at every opportunity ever since :) and added my marsupial (that’s a sugar glider, found on wikipedia) and a few other odds and ends.

I really like the composition on this one – I feel like there’s a good balance.  There’s the purple curve triangle (the two parts of the six and the purple circle) and a yellow-greenish triangle (the strips of paper in the upper two corners and the green gem dot by the six’s tail) and it seems to keep the eye moving.  I like it a lot.

I liked the background enough that I did it again, to see what happened if I did gesso over it.  I like this one too.

I’ll probably just send this out as random mail art.  The strips are from an old map, again printed onto tissue.  (You take a facial tissue, separate the two layers, and use a gluestick to glue the edges to a piece of printer paper.  Then run it through the printer.  We have a laser printer, so the toner doesn’t smear if it gets wet, which is handy.)

Why “flutter”?  I don’t know.  Why not?

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Time for some thrilling heroics

Can I just brag about my Hero for a minute?

I had an awful “fussy hour” today, with Kitten fussing and Beauty melting and demanding more stickers to put on me and too much touch and too much noise and I burned the greens I was trying to cook for dinner and things were just miserable.

Hero got home after a two-hour commute through the snow and popped Kitten into the Hotsling, snuggled Beauty back into sanity, and then made an omelet for dinner.

He’s pretty amazing.

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I’ve managed to keep doing a little art, despite children and things.  It makes life messier, but it keeps me happier, and that’s important.

This isn’t quite done, I don’t think, but it’s getting there.  And I think it’s called I Hope So, because one of the layers is a page of journaling and that was the last thing I wrote.  It’s been an experiment in layers – Karen at I am Rushmore has been doing the 40 Day Creativity Experiment by adding one layer per day for 40 days.  I’ve never been one for layers, but having a target seemed like an interesting thing to try.  So the background here is about 20 layers and the spiral is about 10 more, though you’ll need a looser definition of “layer” for that.  It’s been interesting.  I find I do like having some variation in the background, so we may see more layering in the future.  Maybe.  And probably not collage.

And these are some postcards I’ve done.  The red one with fishes was started before Kitten was born, but I only recently figured out how to finish it, with the quote and the white ink.  (That’s an opaque white Sakura Glaze pen, which I’ve discovered I really like.)  The quote is from Emma: “It was just what it ought to be, and it looked what it was.” Emma thinks that as she’s admiring Knightley’s estate.  (I’ve noticed that for art I like quotes that barely make sense in context and feel rather surrealist on their own.  It’s and interesting discovery.)  The card doesn’t have a destination yet.  Random mail art.

The two blue ones are for the Mail Me Some Art blue postcard swap…I think.  I’m feeling odd about sending them in, and I’m not at all sure why.  Admittedly I’m feeling a bit insecure about the abstract one, which is not one of my best efforts, but the turtle one came out fine.  So I dunno.  If  decide to just send them out at random that will be okay too.

The two turtles are from a stencil I cut with my Silhouette from a design I made.  I cut it in a few different sizes in a sheet of cardstock, and then coated both sides with cheap spray paint to keep the cardstock from absorbing moisture and buckling.  It makes me happy.  I mostly did it to finish that top one, which was a background seeking a subject until recently.

And the cream one isn’t finished yet, but I like the background I’ve got so I included it.  It’s for a swap that was very complicated and half the people sent to the wrong partner and as a result one of my partners (the one who was supposed to send to me) didn’t get anything, so I’m making an extra to send to her because that doesn’t seem fair.  Anyway, that’s a painted paper with doodled lines in clear Glaze pen (the doodles are meant to look like a topographical map, which I tried as a layer in I Hope So and decided I really liked) and then cream paint scraped across, so that the clear ink lets the paper underneath show through.  (Glaze pens have a raised ink, so the scraper pulls the paint off the lines.)  It kinda looks oyster-ish now, but that’s okay.  I still like it.

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Hebrews 11

At CBS last week we got asked to define faith in our own terms. (This was part of a study on Hebrews 11, naturally.)

The first thing that came to mind was this blog post about this research paper about teaching computer programming. Apparently Computer Science teachers and professors have consistently found that about half their students just never learn much of anything, no matter what approach they use to teach programming. As you can imagine, this is very frustrating for everyone involved.

The researchers claim to have found a way to predict who will succeed. They administered a test with very simple programming questions to the class before they learned anything. Naturally they didn’t get the answers right, but some of them assumed the computer would follow the same rules every time, and they were the ones who learned well and eventually passed the test. The students who did not start with that assumption were (usually) not able to grasp the computer’s behavior and did not do well.

Computers follow rules. It’s what they do. They don’t understand anything that is happening, they just march through the instructions and spit out the result.

Faith, in my mind, is believing that the universe works a little like that. It follows rules. If God says something will happen, then it will happen, because that’s the set of rules He’s given to the universe. He can compensate for chance and predict reactions and already knows what the weather will be like. None of that bothers Him. He never says He’ll do something “if it works out” because He knows it will work out.

He wrote the program. The universe will march through the instructions it is given and spit out the result He planned for. His program is the substance of things hoped for. Knowing that creation follows the instructions it is given is my evidence of things not seen.

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I am insanely proud of my daughter today, guys. She is amazing.

The last few weeks have been…not so amazing. Beauty’s been dealing with the stress of the holidays and a cold and a depressed mother* and having a new baby sister and etc and it’s been showing. She’s been having complete meltdowns at every. single. thing. When I wake her up in the morning. When I announce it’s time for a diaper change. When I put her shoes on. One meltdown when we leave the house, another when we get out of the car, and generally at least one while we’re driving for good measure. You get the idea. She hasn’t been violent or avoidant, and she’s still doing as I tell her, so it could be worse. But it hasn’t been fun.

(And yes, we have tried all manner of cuddling and reassuring and managing expectations and everything else that occurred to us. Didn’t seem to accomplish much.)

So this morning we were sitting on the couch and I was dreading the constant crying but I knew that if we just stayed on the couch all day I’d regret it. After a bit I gave myself some extra incentive by calling a friend and arranging a playdate…as soon as I’d gotten everyone dressed.

I hung up and, with a certain amount of trepidation, announced, “Beauty, it’s time to get you dressed.”

She looked up and I heard her breath catch and the wail start, but then it stopped again and she very deliberately said, “Shh. Shh. Shh.” and trundled down the hall to her bedroom.

And that was the end of it.

She soothed herself.

She did it again and again, every time I expected her to collapse into tears. I’ve been cheering her like mad and calling people to tell them about it (preferably in her hearing) and I am so, so proud of her.

This right here – watching her grow and figure things out and become able to manage her own emotions and address her own needs and communicate her own thoughts – this is what I love about being a mother.

* I’m fighting it and taking my fish oil and it’s getting better. I was thisclose to calling my therapist at one point but I don’t think I’ll need to.

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