Tag Archives: motherhood

Two years later

It was two years and a few days ago that I started 100 Days. I feel this impulse to say something smarmy about being on a great big journey with twists and turns and ups and downs, etc. but isn’t that just life? Some things change, some things stay the same.

Hi, it’s me. I’m Mobile now.

Let’s talk about the changes. My boy started kindergarten! The kid in the Robin costume with the bag on his head is a school boy! Milo was so proud of himself when we all rode bikes to his first day of school. I snuck a peek in his classroom the other day and he was polishing silver (I really do ❤ Montessori). I’m glad this is a skill he’s developing as I have so much silver on hand.

Milo’s first day of kindergarten.

Anyways, Wyatt has developed into a whole person of his own who is happy as a clam and any time he is not he has taken to calling us all meany heads. I’m sure we are total meany heads and deserve to be called such. Jon is doing  his masonry/full-time college student/Dad thing and being awesome at it.

Happy Juice

And me, I’ve been good. When that Dentist told me to chill last spring, I took her advice. I spent the summer wrapped in the warm embrace of my children (when I wasn’t prying them apart or trying to keep them from screaming, of course.)  Now I’m back at work actually doing a job that I really love. Teaching art to little people and helping to develop some Project Based Learning in the classrooms. It is my job to make sure that our students are thinking, being creative, and solving problems, so cool. The point is that I stopped trying to be something bigger than who I already am and it felt pretty nice. I gave myself permission to just be.

Some great arty things came my way and I managed to pull of some really awesome swaps (more about the art stuff in my next post). Art making is part of who I already am and because of that I’ve decided to give myself a renewal challenge. I will paint 32 paintings in 32 days to commemorate my birthday and the 100 Days project. I will blog every other day or so and we’ll see how things unfold.

Day One, getting the rust out.

Day 1, I had this impulse to pull tight into the composition and gradually release the form and color like conception or birth or growth. It feels good to be back fully in my skin and ready to work. As always, if you see or read something you like or want to comment on, please do.




A note on being weird

Yup, that's me. Age 12.

Here's to wierd

Day forty-three

Day forty-four

Milo, "Do monsters make art?"

Day forty-five (this is one of my favorites so far)

Having been strange my whole life I feel like I am well equipped to parent a weird kid. I’ve always been the “artsy” one. I think that’s a nice way of saying that I’m a bit weird.

I do think that all kids are weird in fantastic ways. That is one of the best things about being a teacher, especially an art teacher. I get to be privy to all the weird things kids come up with. First grader jokes are among the best. Milo is no exception. He is super weird. He just decided that he is not a person who wears socks. He’s had a scribbled on receipt from pizza delivery taped next to his bed for a year and would be devastated if we tried to take it down. We’ve already discussed his obsession with pens.

For kids, weird is fine, it’s widely accepted at least until school age. We let our kids wear Robin and Superman costumes day and night, we let our kids read books in cardboard boxes. Then we do something to people. We shame them into hiding the things that make them who they are. How sad. If you went to middle school, you probably remember someone being incredibly unkind to you because you didn’t do something the way they expected you to. It takes a super weird person not to give a *%^& when this happens (thank you with all my heart to one Ms. Rebecca Rubel). I taught middle school for one year and that was quite enough for me, thank you. I went running and screaming back to those weird little first graders. I would much rather sit in a tiny chair with a crayon in my hand hanging with silly, imaginative little kids anyday.

We all want to be part of the tribe but we need to be who we are. Think about the people you are drawn to the most. Are they the safe, beige people (I just looked down and I’m wearing a beige sweater, damn it.) or are they the little-bit-weird folks who seem to take a few more risks than you do, say what they mean a little more often, and seem to live in their skin a bit more comfortably? I’ll take the later.

Let’s keep it weird people. What was your favorite weird kid memory of yourself or your own kiddos?

I’ll go first:

Me: I had an obsession with the author Roald Dahl. When he died I was in the third or fourth grade. I cried tears and was so grief stricken that I insisted that the librarian let me create a shrine to him in the library. She begrudgingly agreed and I painstakingly recreated a bunch of his illustrations from the BFG and the Twits and turned the whole thing into a huge display with stand up cut outs and a backdrop. Can you say dork?

Milo: I think this week’s pictures speak for themselves.

Loving Milo's monster art

Milo, Day 44

Do you like nature? Apparently, so do I!


Day thirty-four

Milo's mountain boy diaper butt

Day thirty-five

Our mountain paradise

"This is a bed with a face, he's smiling at you."

Day thirty-six

Our little slice of the pie

A few days ago I had an epiphany or a duh moment depending on if you’re a glass half full or glass half empty sort of person. I have been struggling to verbalize why I am making the kind of work that I make. I keep asking myself why I am going back and forth between this really naturalistic aesthetic and this more modern, urban vibe.  While Milo was spending twenty minutes trying to decide if we were going to the mountains for a hike or to the Dinosaur museum, and then later again while Milo was laying flat on his stomach examining a bug, I finally had a few minutes and saw clearly what I’ve been processing with my work.

When Milo was ten months old we rented out our house near downtown and moved to a house 16 miles up a canyon outside of Boulder. We were just plain tired of the close quarters, the violence (someone shot our house with a shotgun), the noise, the pollution, the city. We’ve always been crunchy, we’ve always loved camping and hiking and our best times have been spent in a tent (except for the sand dog incident, damn you sand dog!)  I loved being up there; the smell and air and the dark night skies. Milo learned to walk in the woods and on trails.

What we didn’t realize is that to live that far away, you have to drive a lot, use a lot of wood and propane and generally consume more to live like you’re using less. We lived up there until the economy was in a total hole and gas was over $4/gallon. We just couldn’t swing it and we moved back home to our little house in Denver. It made us appreciate our friends, our family, our neighbors, our farmer’s market, our bikes, and our little efficient house and yard.

This failed attempt at mountain living taught me a valuable lesson about two very distinct sides of myself. I love being alone, I need to be alone, I need to be in the mountains, sit under a tree, see the water, run next to the ocean.  I am not a complete human being unless that side of me is fulfilled. On the other hand, I need people, not just my family but the background of lots of strangers doing similar things all at once. I like seeing people who are not like me. I like the library, art shows and the museums and the buses and bikes, the general hustle and bustle. It’s ok that it’s not an all or nothing affair. I am impressed by those folks who can live in total isolation like those documentaries of that old timer who whittled even the nails to build his cabin (although Jon might be into that),or those who can live in a 150 sq ft apartment in NYC.

So I think what I’ve been getting at in my work is to create an outward expression of the internal the tension that we all feel inside of ourselves to be alone and to be social, to be in the city and to be in the woods, to see the big picture and to cherish the smallest details.  Make sense?


The yeah, yeah, yeahs

Day twenty-four

Day twenty-five, Milo "look mom it's a brain!"

My little man

Day twenty-five

Day twenty-four, Milo

Symbiotic relationships

Yeah for fall mountain adventures with beautiful friends

Yeah for Milo drawing a brain (“you didn’t know I could draw a brain, did you?”)

Yeah for painting a good picture today

Yeah for Moms who live close by

Yeah for Milo finally liking to have his hair washed

Yeah for calm bedtimes

Yeah for lollipops, donuts, and carousels

Yeah for climbing all the way to the top, wherever that might be

Yeah for throwing rocks into rivers

Yeah for seeing rocks and rivers and trees that remind you that you are alive and that alive things make you want to make lovely things

Yeah for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs station on my Pandora

Yeah for all you beautiful people who are showing your love for this project

Yeah for improved mental health

Yeah for head stands to cure just about any ailment

Yeah for breakfast for dinner

Yeah for realizing that living a good life is about living it with good people

Yeah for jammies and tea at eight

Yeah for kids being weird and insisting on wearing mittens at innapropriate times

Yeah for my happy baby Wyatt who smiles with his whole body

Yeah for my hubby (I miss you shnarf)

Yeah for glitter in art, I know a few custodians who would disagree but, I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m a fan of the glitter

All I need in life is this paddle game…

"I need them all!"


Just a few of the kiddo's notebooks

Three Weeks!

My little babies.

Day twenty-two

Day twenty-three

Home, sweet, rust farm

Daddy's shed

day twenty-two, Milo. "Look Mom, a chrysalis for the butterfly."

Oy, I have had some technical difficulties this week. Thanks to my PC dying a slow death, I am now the proud owner of a new laptop. Thank you to my mom for wrangling the kids at Best Buy while I had a mild anxiety attack over spending money on technology and thank you to my brother for using his MacGyver skills to get the hard drive out of my old computer. I am finally back on track, let’s go.

When I was helping Milo get undressed in the locker room at swim class, I found no less than seven pens and pencils in his pocket. He said he needed them all. If you know us you know I’ve said that Milo is like Steve Martin in The Jerk, “all I need in life is….” He just tried to sleep with a leftover French fry container filled with markers.

Milo has all these notebooks, he typically has one on hand at all times. Little things like notebooks and pens and his sleeping mask my dad got for him on a flight to England are all ways that Milo can make home wherever he goes. Objects, no matter how simple help us to mark time, remind us of our people, and make us feel secure. Milo feels safe when he’s got his things. He knows exactly who gave him what,when, and for what reason and everything is special. Except that he had so much stuff in his hands getting in the car this afternoon that he fell on his head because he didn’t have a free hand to catch his fall. He said to us, “maybe I shouldn’t take so much stuff.” Good idea kiddo.

Jon and I have always dug finding special little things and Jon has collections of all sorts of stuff. Marbles and rusty junk are our favorites. Jon can look through the marbles and tell you what we were doing when we found each one. I like buttons, I used to love to go to my grandma’s and search through her button box to find a special little memento of our trip. In college I made 357 numbered clay buttons. Each time I gave one away, it was an acknowledgment that we are bound to each other by our experiences.

Each piece of art we’ve hung in our house has a special memory attached to it; our youth, our wedding,  the birth of our kids. So all this art making is creating these daily objects that mark time. I spread them all out, 23 days of my life, our lives, and I could feel in each painting the tone of the day, the simple experiences, good and bad and I wanted to hold them all. But I won’t. In one week, my little babies will go into the world and fasten themselves to new people and make new little homes in the world. Potential fasteners, just like a great button.

Potential Fasteners

Potential fasteners.

Mondays are for perfection

I pledge to be perfect for at least fifteen minutes.

Day nineteen

Day nineteen, Milo

Day twenty

"It's a boot for you Mom, you like it when I give you boots."

I see Mondays as a weekly opportunity to be perfect. Mondays are the day that we get up and get dressed right away. I put make up on and maybe even some jewelry. We eat a healthy breakfast and turn the tv off. I resolve myself not to bribe Milo and to have Wyatt on some sort of eat/sleep schedule.  The house will be clean, laundry will be started (probably not finished) bills will be paid, and phone calls will be made.

I’ve accomplished a lot on my perfect Monday. And now it is 10:30 and Wyatt only napped of 45 minutes. Milo is watching Spyler and eating chocolate peanut butter toast (at least its whole wheat) and I am watching Tori and Dean in Love on Oxygen while pacing around the living room trying to get Wyatt back to sleep.  So much for perfection! We did have a few pristine moments this morning with the music on and us working in the studio. Milo drew some pictures for his buddy Ethan in Pennsylvania and one for his Nanny and I’ve been playing with making marks with  leaves off my broccoli plant.

I’ve noticed that most kids want to give away their artwork as soon as they finish it. I have files and files of pictures my students have given me over the years. “This is for you, Ms. H!” (Insert my name scrawled across the top with gross spelling errors). It must part of the process to assign an owner to a work of art. Kids usually make the work or as they are creating it, they figure out whom it would suit best. I have a similar response to my work and have given away far more than I’ve sold. I make a painting and I immediately think of someone it would suit. I love to give paintings as gifts as most of my friends and family can attest to. (BTW, you have my permission to take down anything I’ve made for you or given you that you don’t like/are sick of….I promise my feelings won’t be hurt.) Oh, and Zarah, please tell me that you still don’t hang up that painting I made in high school! If I want to make a living as an artist I have to start putting monetary value on my time, creativity and effort.  From now on folks you’re gonna have to pay up. Except you beautiful newlyweds and soon to be newlyweds, you get something for nothing because we love you!

Darn it! I can’t even make this post perfect. I went on a tangent. Good thing there’s always another Monday and another chance to be perfect at everything. Maybe I should go for perfect Tuesdays too. Perfect Tuesdays could be even more perfect than perfect Mondays. We could keep it together until 11:00 heck maybe even noon!

I got a lot of problems with you people…

My baby can't read

Day eighteen

mmmmm, soup.

My inspiration

Day nineteen

Yeah for exquisist corpse art books! Yeah for Jessica!

Day 19-Milo

Day nineteen- Milo's installation in the yard

breast milk

Does this say, I'm a responsible mom?

I really tried to get a theme going for the past two days but it mostly consisted of complaining about everyone being snotty, sick and whiny so I’ve decided to make a list of the most profound things I’ve pondered in the past few days. Here we go….

1. You know you have a toddler when you find a cape and toy handcuffs in your bed, or you are a bit adventurous in the sack (we would fall into the former category).

2. I spent way too much time watching infomercials at 5:50 this morning and beating myself up that my baby can’t read.

2. Sautéing onions while the baby is strapped to your chest is not something that the baby likes.

3. Vegan potato soup tastes better when you add bacon (Sorry Jessica I. and Fanny).

3. I liked it when Milo brought a few fall leaves in to give me as inspiration. I did not like it when he climbed to the top of the fence to, “stabilize the building.”

4. Cat Steven’s music is awesome and should be listened to on a far more consistent basis, especially when painting.

5. Jessica Brown-Velez is a fantastic person. If you don’t know her, you should. Shnarf. She is a really good gift giver and that is a special friend talent.

6. I have recently become aware that I have misused the word ephemera for years. I am sorry Mr. Joseph Cornell, you are my most favorite artist! Upcoming post: Milo and ephemera (things designed to be used for a short time).

7. I am incredibly uncomfortable when I see people argue in public.

8. I think Milo would make a great installation artist. He could make fantastic rooms filled to the rafters with all of the pens, notebooks, and tools he’s squirreled away in the past two years.

9. I am ready for summer to be over! I would like to wear sweaters and boots, make soup, sip tea, and go to bed at 8:30 to read books. Go away hot weather!

10. I wonder if my manic postpartum hormonal mood swings are having a positive effect on my work like a Van Gogh mental illness or Basquiat’s drug addiction.  Hopefully I won’t cut off my ear.

11. Not sleeping sucks. I would like to be whisked away to fancy hotel where no one insists on rubbing my eyebrows half the night.

12. Maybe storing my breast milk next to the vodka sends the wrong message.

13. Lastly, have you seen Alyson Kahn’s new work? She’s rad! (Milo asked me the other day if he could call something rad. I said, heck yeah, and told him he should also use the word, stoked.) Yeah for other artist mommas.

Damn photos…keep scrolling people!