Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Super Fun Pretend-to-be-an-Artist Project

A friend of mine has gorgeous art on every wall of her home, painted by herself or family or friends.  One of the pieces caught my eye and she was kind enough to show me how to make it on my own.  I was SHOCKED at how easy it was!  I've gotten commissioned twice since then and it's been a lot of fun to have a creative outlet and be able to make meaningful gifts for friends.  In the spirit of generosity with which I was taught, I wanted to share the process for anyone else who may want to try.

Here are a few ideas of what a finished product looks like:

Here's what you'll need:
  • A canvas (deep edges look best)
  • Paper for the background (pages from a Bible, book, or handwritten messages all work.  It's nice when this ties into the message/meaning)
  • Spray adhesive
  • Modge Podge (I prefer matte finish)
  • Acrylic paint*
  • Adhesive letters (Vinyl poster letters or you can cut your own from contact paper)
  • 1-3 inch foam brushes (width depending on canvas size and detail level of streak colors)
  • For a 12x12 canvas, you will probably spend roughly $35 and 4 hours on the piece.

*A note on Acrylic paints- I've tried most of the brands that are available at Michael's.  In general I'd say that Martha Stewart paint is the best quality, but colors can be limited.  Folk Art and Americana work just fine.  There is a lot of acrylic paint that is much more expensive, but that's really overkill for this project.

Step 1: Prep

Rip your paper into strips.  The torn edges give a lot of texture, so be sure you have lots of smaller pieces with no straight edges.

Spray your canvas with spray adhesive.  This is best done outside or a very well ventilated area.  Be sure that the side edges of the canvas are also sprayed.  Keep the spray moving quickly to have a even covering with minimal bubbles.

Step 2: Base Layer

Arrange the paper strips on the canvas.  Keep in mind the paper that you place in the bottom left hand corner will be the words that show through your letters.  The papers will all overlap each other (there should be no canvas showing through).  Arrange some papers originating from the top and others the bottom.  Wrap the paper around the canvas so that it is all flat on the sides.  You can be as Type A or not about the paper lining up on the sides as you would like to be.  I'm not too worried about it as long as it stays flat.

Use a foam brush and cover the paper layer with a layer of modge podge.  Allow to dry completely.

Step 3: Lettering

Lay out your letters and apply them to the dry base layer starting with the last letter of the last word and working your way back and up.  Push the letters very firmly against the layer, consider rubbing them in firmly with a popsicle stick or finger nail.  You don't want paint to get underneath them.

Step 4: Painting

Paint your base layer with smooth, even strokes that go from the top to the bottom of the canvas. The darker your base layer the more the words you have chosen will pop out.  If you actually want to have the paint be more translucent and see the pages behind the paint more clearly, simply wet your brush and dilute the paint with water.  Cover the entire painting with your base color.

Once that has dried completely, gently brush over some streaks of an accent color.  Try to let the foam brush graze the top of the texture from the pages.  Have a dry foam brush on hand for working in streaks.

Step 5: Finishing touches

Remove the letters carefully.  If any paint has seeped beneath them, simply us a wet qtip to rub it away.  Paint a final coat of modge podge over the entire thing.  Let it dry completely and you're done!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

3 Secrets you Must Know to Survive PottyTraining

So you're ready to start potty training.  Or start again.  Or start doing it differently.

You may think you need a potty chair, underwear and a few great books.  What you actually want to stock up on in disinfectant, paper towels, and latex gloves.  The gloves make a difference.  Go ahead.  Splurge.

And here is the truth.  #IHatePottyTraining

In your mind you may already be formulating advice for me.  Stop. If you had a pleasant experience with potty training you may go ahead and click-on, my friend.  No worries.  The rest of this will simply bore you.

If potty training makes you want to shut the door on your laundry room and SCREAM every once in a while, please pull up a chair.  Grab your cold coffee that you left on the corner of the counter ages ago.  Relax a moment.  You are not alone.

Today I threw away my daughter's poop covered pants in a public restroom.  Yesterday I scrubbed her poop out of the tread of her shoes with a toothbrush. The day before that she got her poop in the baby potty.  Yay!  But before I opened the door she decided to dump it in the big potty "all by herself".  So poop was in the baby potty.  And on the floor.  And all over the big potty.  And a little mystery streak running down the side of the bathtub.

I know what you are thinking.  Maybe I should, you know, potty train my kid before writing about potty training.

I don't always love listening to moms who have potty training all figured out tell me how easy it is (la-tee-dah).  So here is a voice of encouragement, instead.  Spoken kindly, humbly, from a fellow poop scrubbing mama who knows the frustration of this season WELL. Here's what is keeping me sane.

Secret 1: Acceptance.  Failure is not ONLY an option, it's an inevitability.

A big problem with the potty training milestone is that we somehow allow our child pooping on a toilet to become a personal reflection on us and our parenting abilities.  No wonder we are frustrated beyond belief when we are cleaning up accidents.  It's not just a puddle of pee on the floor, it becomes a symbol of their failure.  Their failure becomes our failure. This is not a competition, my friends.

Accidents are going to happen.  They are part of the learning process, not a failure of theirs or yours. There's no room for blame, self doubt or anger in a healthy learning environment.  Just take a breath.  Count to 10.  Grab a paper towel and clean it up.

Proverbs 14:4 Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.

It's going to be messy, but it's going to be worth it.

Secret 2: Identity.  You are more than a sanitation engineer.

On my hands and knees cleaning up accidents, it's easy to wonder why I even bothered with a college degree.  It's easy to feel that my destiny was cheated.  I know I was created and gifted for more than cleaning poop.

One day I was holding my daughter's foot over the sink and washing off a spot of poop from her ankle.  I was trying desperately to monitor my own attitude and facial expression.  I knew if I was not careful my observant little girl would know in a heartbeat that I was discouraged, annoyed, and angry.  Something about that little foot with tiny toes in my hand brought to mind the image of Jesus washing his disciples' feet.

Mark 10:42-45 ...“You know that the rulers in this world...flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

When I say I am a Jesus follower, I say that I am living his values and priorities and love.  There is great beauty in his eyes when he sees a loving mother tenderly washing poop off of her babies feet- unseen by any other, in an obscure suburban bathroom.  He sees the beauty in a mama walking alongside his sweet baby that he created and gave to her.  He treasures our heart as he sees us encouraging that child through the painful process of learning something new, patiently and humbly not thinking too highly of ourselves to love and serve another.

So sweet mama, we were not created and gifted for more than potty training and poop washing.  Potty training points us exactly toward who we were created to be and how we are to exercise our gifts.  If we allow ourselves to choose kindness, humility and compassion in the way we deal with these frustrations.  If we don't lose sight of our children as we are tempted to focus on the pee running down their leg (and our shopping cart).  If we embrace the lysol as an opportunity to be seen by God alone, cheerfully exemplifying his values instead of clinging bitterly to our pride.  THEN we are not sanitation engineers in our home. We are, in fact, engineering a small glimpse of God's kingdom.

Secret 3: Reality.  This too shall pass.

I gave a mama a hug the other day.  She had slept for 3 hours the night before.  I gave her a hug out of empathy and love. Secretly the hug was also a little tiny bit out of thankfulness that I get to sleep through the night.  Do you remember how BIG it felt to be woken up every 2 hours?  Oh my.  I was pretty sure that I was slowly slipping into a shadow of my former self. My first child didn't sleep well.  I thought I was going to die.  I didn't.

At some point this is going to be over.  Your kid is going to go potty on the toilet.  We are going to survive!  Let's keep that in mind.  Let's choose to run this season as a brutal hill in the race of life, but decided firmly not to get thrown off track into bitterness or insecurity when it get's ugly.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

If we're asking them to put on their big girl panties, we better be prepared to do that same.  We're in this together.  We are seen.  When we quiet ourselves before our peaceful God in the morning we can carry that calm into even our most frustrating day.

Carry on beautiful mama!