Motherhood, Art, Creative Play, and Finding Joy in Everyday Life


A New Routine

a new routine
As I have mentioned before, this pregnancy has been a very rough one, making me feel sick almost all of the time. Through all of this, I have had a much harder time focusing on daily tasks, and fully being there for Simon on our days at home together. For a while, I often felt foggy, confused, and…kind of lost. At any given time of day I had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. Simon would ask “When is lunch?” and I would uncertainly answer: “Ummmm, right now?” We had no structure going from day to day, and I felt so much guilt because I know most children, including my own, thrive on routine. During a particularly difficult day over a week ago, I exasperatedly reached for my laptop and googled: “stay-at-home mom schedule”, hoping to find some inspiration that would get me back on track.

I spent some time reading blogs and articles, in which other stay-at-home parents shared their daily schedules, and tips for how they keep going without a boss or a deadline to keep them moving forward. I also reached out on facebook to other parents I know, asking how they structure their days. I got inspired to make a new plan for Simon and I.

One thing I noticed right away was how most others agreed that a rigid plan is a bad idea. The daily routine needs to be in place, but also be very flexible. Children are unpredictable. So is the weather, the budget, and the flow of life. One week might bring freezing rain every day, keeping us inside and unable or unwilling to go on a daily outing. The next week might require a lot of extra errands. I knew whatever plan I came up with could not be too strict or I would become discouraged when, inevitably, I could not keep up with it. It was to be more of a guideline than set in stone. Basically, I needed something to reference on my more foggy-brained days, when Simon asks: “What are we going to do now, Mumma?”

So, I typed out a routine for us to use on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (The other two days of the week Simon has preschool, and I work at the Library.) Weekends are a toss-up and will change so much that there was no point in scheduling them. (Plus, Jeramy is home on the weekends to help me .)  Here is what I came up with:

~7am: Wake up time. Spend the next hour making breakfast, drinking tea, and shaking off sleep. Eat breakfast together at the table.

~8am: Getting dressed for the day. Shower if needed, get myself and Simon dressed, brush teeth.

~9am: Go somewhere, or go outside. Unless the weather really stinks, get out and run errands, have an adventure, or spend some time in the yard.

~11am: Prepare lunch together. Eat together at the table.

~12pm: Time Out. Simon can watch some tv or play quietly. I can use my computer or read. This is a good time for another cup of tea. Also a good time to blog.

~1pm: Activity time. Get out some art supplies, do some puzzles together, create a project, read aloud from our current chapter book.

~2pm: Time for a healthy, energizing snack. Smoothies, fruit, nuts, popcorn, etc. An afternoon pick-me-up. Enjoy the snack out on the deck if it is nice.

~2:15pm: Pick up time. Do some clean-up around the house. Put on some music, throw in a load of dishes or laundry, and do the chores that need to be done that day.

~3:30pm: Daddy is home. Depending on the day, different things may happen: family errands, Daddy and Simon playtime, Mumma working an evening shift, etc. Start prepping dinner.

~5pm: Dinner. Eat early because Simon goes to bed early.

~6pm: Pick up time. Simon picks up toys he has taken out. Mumma and Daddy pick up after supper. Tidy things up before bedtime.

~6:30pm: Start Simon’s bedtime routine: pajamas, brush teeth, sip of water, bedtime story, lullabies, tuck in.

~7pm: Mumma and Daddy can collapse on the couch.
Last week was our first week with this routine. We have not yet fully conformed to it. One day Simon slept in late so everything was pushed back and we ended up skipping a few parts of the routine. On another day we ended up on a much longer outing than I had expected, and didn’t get back home until late afternoon. Today, we spent most of our morning reading books together, because it was too cold and windy for us to go anywhere. However, we have followed the schedule part-time. When I am not sure what to do next, I can simply glance at the clock and the schedule posted on the fridge, and feel reassured. I have been more productive and more present for my son. For this, I am thankful.

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The Middle of the Night

The middle of the night. Three-year-old comes shuffling in, climbs onto our bed.
We ask him “What are you doing out of your bed? Are you ok?”

He says “I just want to sleep with you.” Past attempts at allowing this have proven that the child is incapable of allowing anyone else to sleep when he is in the room. He becomes like a giddy preteen at a slumber party and wants to chat and giggle all night. And kick us in the face.

Husband says: “Oh no. You need to go back into your own bed.” Instant wailing ensues. Confused by this strong reaction we attempt to reason with him. “Everyone needs to sleep in their own bed…you will be more comfy…you have all of your stuffed animals in there…it is the middle of the night.” We are pleading now.

We carry him back to his bed. He refuses to lie down. We try more reasoning. He is still wailing. I end up sitting on the edge of his bed and scooping him into my arms like a baby. He collapses onto me, and falls instantly quiet. Clearly he is as exhausted as we are. I rock him back and forth for a few moments. He then allows me to lie him down and tuck him in. I am so relieved that I am going to get more sleep this night.

As I leave the room he tells me: “The problem was, my feet were cold.”



Big News

march 2014
A couple of days ago, I announced to my friends, family, and acquaintances something big: I am pregnant with our second child. This has been a very difficult secret for me to keep, not just because it is life-changing, but because  have been feeling so incredibly sick for the past two months. I have wanted to complain to everyone I know, or at least to explain why I haven’t been quite my usual self.

My pregnancy with Simon was so much different. I did have morning sickness, but it would last a short time, and go away once I ate something. I believe I only actually threw up twice, the whole pregnancy. This time around I am vomiting daily or multiple times a day, and feeling overwhelmingly nauseous all. of. the. time. I can’t eat, and I cannot go near anything that might set me off: a dirty dish in the sink, the smell of what is cooking for dinner, the deli at the supermarket. Sometimes, even just walking up the stairs makes me gag and heave, for whatever reason.

I have tried all of the remedies they suggest. Ginger, staying hydrated, eating all day long so my stomach won’t get too empty, taking vitamin B6. None of it helped. After a bout of vomiting yesterday that was particularly long and painful, I started sobbing, and told Jeramy that I didn’t even want to be pregnant anymore. I didn’t mean it, but that was the point of frustration I was at in that moment.

So, today I called and asked for a prescription anti-nausea medication. I have had several friends chime in and tell me they did the same thing when they were pregnant, and that it was the only thing that worked for them. I took it for the first time this afternoon, and so far so good. I am hoping this will be a turning point for me. I am ready to start being excited about this new family member on the way. To start looking longingly at onesies, and picking out a paint color for the nursery. To feel up for some prenatal yoga, or going for a walk to keep this changing body in shape. To actually be able to cook dinner, or to play with Simon for more than 5 minutes before the next bout of sickness hits.

I know this is an atypical pregnancy announcement post. But this is where I’m at right now. I think it is about to get better though.

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Side By Side

art time together
art time together5
art time together4
art time together2
art time together3
Last night I did some drawing in my sketchbook while relaxing on the couch. I forgot to put my art supplies away when I finished, and this morning, Simon noticed the bin of drawing supplies sitting on our current makeshift coffee table, and asked: “Mumma, what are these?”. I told him they were art supplies and he asked “Can I use them?” “Sure!” I said, and went to get a large pad of newsprint.

We spread out paper and supplies out on the table, and worked side-by side. Simon was mostly interested in experimenting with charcoal and a rubber eraser, two things that he hasn’t used before. I sketched while he experimented with the feel of new materials, and I made it a point to let him experience the trial and error of attempting to erase various drawing mediums.

Since moving, our routine has been really off. The house is still a major work-in-progress, and I have a harder time finding my way through our routine as I adjust to our new surroundings. However, this reminded me of our frequent morning art time, and I hadn’t realized how much I had been missing it!

I love working side-by-side with my little one, being creative together as our first act after breakfast.



painting nails
pedicure“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Simon: Giving himself a manicure with watercolors//Getting a pedicure from Daddy

A couple of weeks ago, as I was painting my toenails pink, Simon came into the bathroom to see what I was doing. He stuck out his adorable little feet and asked: “Will you paint my toes too?”said “of course!” and asked him to pick out a color. (He is always very interested in my nailpolish and makeup, so I knew it was only a matter of time before he wanted to try some.)

He picked out a bright turquoise (or “TORquoise” as he says it), and sat very still (mostly) while I painted his toes. Of course, being a kid, he immediately ran outside barefoot and dragged his feet through the sand, so his toenails became an interesting texture, with dirt around the edges. But the point was that he was happy with his self-expression. He loves to wear costumes, and jewelry, and temporary tattoos. He is a bold kid and he loves to experiment with different combinations.

Since that first pedi, he has since asked for more polish. We have okayed more pedicures, but are currently vetoing fingernail polish until I can buy some of the non-toxic kind. Just because he still sticks his hands in his mouth once in a while, and I want to minimize the chemicals I put near his little body. He has found a way around this though, by painting his own nails with watercolor paint.

Do your kids want you to paint their nails? What do you do about removing the polish?


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big boy bed”A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

Simon: Fast asleep in his “big-boy bed”

Growing up so fast. He no longer sleeps in a crib, he rarely has potty accidents, and he will soon be attending part-time preschool. I must remember to stop and savor this age as much as possible.



Thrift Shop

Simon has been going through a very whiny and difficult stage recently. Jeramy thinks it might be part of a readjustment to being home after our week of vacation at the cabin. I suspect it is normal three-year-old boundary testing. Whatever it is, I am much more exhausted and lacking in any remaining patience by the time Jeramy gets home from work than I was just a couple of weeks ago.

Today was a particularly trying day, so when Jeramy walked in the door and got a bit settled, I said I needed to go for a drive by myself. About once a month or so I do this, and almost always I end up getting a coffee and popping into the nearby Goodwill. Flipping through the racks and scanning the shelves is relaxing for me. I often don’t even find anything to buy, but spending the time with my thoughts, zoning out, and just looking always makes me feel better when I am cranky.

I lucked out on this particular trip, and found a button-down blouse, a flowy cardigan, and the two little treasures pictured above. I began a vintage Pyrex collection a couple of weeks back, while spending a day out with a friend who collects antiques. I have always had a love for vintage Pyrex. I am being careful to build my collection with only functional pieces that I really love, a little at a time, because collecting can oh so quickly turn to clutter. (A lesson I have learned from experience.) The Wonder Woman mug is meant to go with me to work. I have been sipping my tea and coffee there in a borrowed mug, that I foraged out of the employee kitchen space. Now I will have one of my very own to inspire me to take on the day like a super hero.

Or perhaps I should keep the mug at home to help me stay strong through “The Difficult Threes”?