Monday, November 3, 2014

Find the Art in your day.

I've been thinking a lot about fear, motivation and art.  It might seem like a jumbled sort of nouns but linking them together creates my current definition of life.

life  noun

1. the existence of an individual human being or animal.

Really?  That's the dictionary definition of life?  "the existence"  That doesn't help much when you are pondering the meaning of life as your 2 year old clings to you with teary eyes crying,  "I'm scared, I'm too scared to go to school.  Please stay with me, please!"  My little guy was excited to run in to class the first day of school, but reported home that he missed me all day and cried for me all day.  On the second day of school he cried and protested and had to be carried in to class.  It was so hard making him go, but I knew he wanted to be there and waited outside his room so I could peek in a minute later to see him playing happily with his cousin.  The next day we talked a lot about why he had to go to school (he doesn't have to, he goes because he wants to play with his friends and sing and dance,) why mommy wouldn't stay (because it's against the rules,) and most importantly about being scared and being brave.  On day 3 of school he didn't cry but he did have tears in his eyes, as he hugged me goodbye he said he would have courage and be brave.

He was motivated beyond his fears to walk in to class.  He was intrinsically motivated to be brave.  He wasn't doing it for me, he was doing it for himself.  He wants to go to school, he loves playing with his friends.  Being away from me for the first time in his life (outside of staying with other family members) was terrifying.  They call it separation anxiety, but somehow he managed with his tiny little self and his teary eyes to push through it in order to do something he really wanted to do.

My children amaze me constantly, but more than that they teach me about myself and about life.  Sure, I knew life was about existence  but today my son taught me that life is defined by fear, motivation and ultimately for me, art and for you whatever you are motivated past fear to do.

At the beginning of the year I wrote in this blog that my goal was to make more art this year.  A sweet friend chastised me immediately and reminded me that I made art everyday and that no one should ever tell me different.  What I meant was that I wanted to paint and draw more, I do view the dolls I create as art but I often forget that sewing and stitching together a doll is creating art.  It was a really nice reminder to get but my fear was that I was not actually an artist, I was just a crafter.  I don't believe that and I was motivated to make myself feel differently.

I often hear my friends say, "I'm not crafty" "I could never do that." "I can do crafts, but I'm not an artist."  I will tell you everyone is an artist, we are all artists.  As homemakers we express ourselves in different ways, wether it is a beautifully decorated home or a meal that is worthy of a 5 star restaurant.  My home is not expertly decorated, my cooking will never be called cuisine.  Why do I fail so miserably in these areas?  I want to be a great cook, I would love to have a nice home, but what it comes down to is the lack of motivation and beneath that the lack of fear.  When I picked the colors to paint the rooms, I had no fear or anxieties that I was choosing the wrong colors.  I just didn't care enough to be scared.  It would be okay no matter what because I wasn't motivated to make it wonderful.  When I'm cooking dinner I usually just toss all the ingredients in the pot, as in I don't even read the directions... the most effort I can give is gathering all of the ingredients from the top of the list.  I don't worry about it.  My lack of fear is because I know it will be edible and I have no fear of failing or motivation to make it amazing.  I just want to eat (sorry family,) we will continue to eat the same 5 mediocre meals.

I AM terrified that I'm not a great artist.  I am scared evey day that I won't be the best.  When I look at my work I see it peppered with flaws and I want to make the next one better, I want to do more and make more.  I am motivated by my fears to be better, to work harder.  I don't want to fail and I feel every second that I am not dedicated to my art as failure.  This aspect of failure is fear, it is my motivation.  I push myself, I tell myself I must have courage and I say I will be brave.  I don't call myself a homemaker (my husband and I take equal care of the home) I don't call myself a cook (mostly the food is heated) but I do call myself an artist.  So my definition of life for you...

life  noun

1. the motivation beyond fear to existance.


Being able to define myself in that way keeps me going, it is my life.  My challenge is finding balance as a mother when my focus is skewed towards art.  My little man reminded me today, motivation is fueled by fear, don't run from it face it and you will be rewarded.

I hope you all find joy on your path and remember to be brave,  Nikki

NapLush Dolls, Luke the Bear and Kelly the Fox



I first began the series of NapLush dolls last June (as in 2013?!?!) with the intentions of making a Naplet Bear.  I can't believe it's been over a year already and he's just come to life.  I had big plans with my new design, ordered tons of mohair and sketched 20 different possibilities.
I started with Mohair Naplets to get use to working with the new material, these 3 to be exact....


This is Bazinga, don't tell the others but he was my favorite!  (And I'm a bunny person!)



I was in LOVE!  The mohair was so scrumptious; fluffy, soft and warm and I couldn't wait to dive in.  But before I got to work on my teddy bear style Naplings I had a bit of a customs list to finish.  Well... a bit is an understatement, not that I didn't have fun with it.  I loved all of the different ideas and challenges of what a Napling could be and I some of my greatest creations came from those custom requests.
Somewhere along the line, my son adopted a Naplet rolled head.  (No face or body, just the head.  As in a wool ball with a fabric covering)  He wanted a little home for the head and found a tiny box, my 4 year old took such great care of this little stolen bit of wool I could hardly believe it.  I wanted to make him something tiny to care for and I was oddly inspired by these finger monster guys from my childhood.  I remember treating them the same way when I was little!  I loved them and they were my bitty pets.
Let me tell you, the teeny hedgehog has been an amazing hit with him!  Something about the abstract simple shape, and the teeny tiny-ness.  His little friend is one of his most adored toys.  He gives him baths and sleeps with him.  Second to Eggy (my son's pet rock) Hedgie is his favorite.

So... I veered a little on my path to Teddy Bear Napling.




And then with the fall approaching, the leaves crunch and deer running everywhere, and I literally mean everywhere I looked!  I HAD to make deer.  It was even my choice.  And I found a new all time favorite!  Okay... maybe he ties with Nathan the Snail and the Moth... who am I kidding I can't pick a favorite.




Back to the mohair story.... somewhere in the frantic trying to figure out how to be a WAHM and what I actually wanted to do with all of this mohair, Shima the Kitten came along and said "Find peace my friend."  That was in October and shortly after I was hit with my first flu in 10 years and worsening Hashimoto's symptoms (I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's in 2005 but have been able to manage it with medication.)  Now it seemed as soon as I started to recover a little bit, I would catch another preschool bug that would put me out for a week or two.  
Recently, I've been feeling incredibly well since discovering that Gluten was exacerbating my Hashimoto's symptoms and this winter I plan to carry anti-bac handlotion everywhere, something I've never done before.  (Take care of yourselves Mama's!)

Shima the first Mohair Napling

 Smitten by Shima, I was anxious to make more mohair teddy style Naplings.  Mohair teddy style Napling started to be too much to say so NapLush took it's place; as in Luscious Naplings or Naplings Plush style.  
  



With snow on the ground I couldn't help but make these Snow Butterflies, these Teddy style little ones begged for antennae instead of ears. 

Then as the snow melted and the foxes started running through the fields nearby I wanted to make all of the woodland creatures on my list.

Kelly the fox was a priority, not only because he kept running through my yard but my boys had still not stopped singing 'what does the fox say?' and the book became heavy bedtime rotation.  I spent 3 days (and lots of mohair) trying to get the  dip dye on his hands and feet to take.  Eventually, I discovered a magic trick.

My dear friend Jennifer Casey captured this magical shot of Kelly enjoying the quiet calm of the woods at night. 




Kelly is an excellent daddy.



Whew.... now that I've written a novel when all I wanted to do was introduce you to my latest NaPlush creations, Luke the Bear and his forest friends.   Well here they are!





"It's not too cold, I'll take the beach any day!"  



Naplet Unicorns

Hey!  What about me?!?

zzzzzzzZZZZZZ

Hey, guys!  Wake up, it's time to meet everyone!
Okay, one more song...  Hush little baby don't you cry...




 Now for an update; among the last two customs from patient wonderful customers deer and Naplet Hedgies are on my work table, I hope they will be ready for December's Dollectable and many more NapLush will be coming to life along the way.

Well, I hope life is treating you kind and I'm wishing everyone a healthy winter.  I just wanted to say hi and I hope to be a better (more consistent) blogger!  Feel free to say hi, it will keep me motivated. 

Best Wishes, Nikki








Monday, September 8, 2014

Nappers

Napper Owl and Kitten available Tuesday Sept. 4th. at 9 pm est.




Nappers are choosey about who they will friend.  They sneak through the night and check out their choices.    "Only grown ups here!  Lets go check the next bed."


If you feel someone hopping on your bed or pulling your toes, don't worry it's just a Napper.  Napper's mostly nap they don't sleep for hours.  This way is best, so they can check on their powers and keep you safe.  



They stay charged up, with a quick little hug.  
You wouldn't believe such slight guys can be so substantial.  But one mighty punch or a quick swift kick from them will knock out all the bedroom monsters for months.
Make sure to hug them often for the very best results, and the Napper will be your protecter forever and ever.  


 




















Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Day of school!

My boys are getting big!  If you remember this day last year the little guy was crying about not being able to go to school with his over the top excited big brother.  It is finally his turn for school!

As I hyped the boys up about school at breakfast with 'homework' my little man had me in tears with his response to "when I grow up."
 Although he wanted me to change it to Ninja Turtle after hearing big brothers answer.




Yet, they did show off their Ninja moves.... 




and they were legitimately excited about starting school and gave me their best cheesey faces for proof.




The little guy is the youngest in his class, but I have a feeling he's also going to be the biggest ham.  He has his big cousin in his class to look after him as well.  
We really LOVE his school and as parents we are excited that they will be in a class with friends they already know and love.  The first day we visited this new school I left with a big hug from the director and in tears after hearing how perfectly inline their philosophies are with that of our family.  


I want my children to be taught inclusion and acceptance.  Those are the most important social skills I feel that children need to learn at this age.  I get my parenting advice from all over the place, mostly we stick with positive parenting but I like to get advice from anyone who's willing.  I ask grandparents "how did you do it?"  They've seen the most and know their own regrets.  

But what it always comes down to, when I'm grading myself it is Erik Erikson's stages of development.  It's a simple and easy checklist.  If we get this part right, he will be okay.  The stage Soren is in (2-4) is 'Autonomy vs. Shame and doubt.'
How do you navigate this stage?  Well the child wants to know "is it okay to be me?" and they need an environment that leads them to YES!

When I visited Soren's new school the director was showing us around the playroom and when she got to the dress up clothes, (noting how my sister and I had four boys) she told us how the prior year one boy ran to claim a pink dress everyday and it was the cutest thing.  It made everyones day to see him playing dress up in his favorite pink dress.  "Is it okay to be me?" was clearly a priority at this school and why I was in tears.  

Two days before school started we had a mini school day where we stayed with the boys and got to see what their daily routine would be.  Each child gets a job to do for the day and they rotate, Soren was snack helper and was so proud to hand out the napkins to all of his friends.  They had a blast and couldn't wait to go back.  

But still, I was a nervous wreck dropping him off for his first day at school by himself, the first time I've ever left him anywhere.  I expected lots of tears and screaming.  He hugged me and said, I'm scared and I'll miss you and I said it is scary and I'll miss you too, but then he ran in to class with his friends.  After school he said he cried and cried for me but he had a lot of fun at school and can't wait to go back!   (But he's just a baby!  I am really having a hard time letting him go.)




Cleary is in the 'Initiative vs. Guilt' stage according to Erikson

To me that means he needs to learn that he can lead successfully and accomplish tasks, okay....  I admit.  I've always been a little fuzzy on this stage and more nervous about growing as a parent myself than Cleary's own actual development.  (I mean, as soon as I figure out how to parent a 4 year old they are turning 5!  I don't think I actually figured out 4.)   Cleary seems to think growing up is so easy and doesn't worry about Eriksons stages.  His existential concerns are much more logical, are the Ninja Turtles actually Ninjas?  Can I be a gold Ninja or can only Power Rangers be gold?  Are Power Rangers Ninjas?  And then he meditates.  

Cleary wanted to homeschool this year, actually he was adamant that he would never ever ever ever go back to school again (due to a really bad experience last year.)   So, we are quasi-red shirting.  We will decide next year if he is ready for Kindergarten or 1st grade or continue the homeschooling.  This year he wants to have school in the woods everyday as long as we can have our snack with friends.  Sounds like a dream to me!  We walked through the woods and while I was trying to decide how to make a walk in the woods 'school' Cleary started picking up things and sounding out the letters they started with.  We talked about tree bark and moss and he drew pictures in his journal of everything we found.  He picked a spot in the woods and took out a workbook he had chosen for the day and started on the pages.  
I'm a little nervous about 'being a teacher' and I hope he will lead me through this new homeschooling journey as I figure out what I'm suppose to be doing and what 5 year olds really need to learn.


That was our week, I hope all of you had a great first week back to school.  Peace- Nikki

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sisters

“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double.” - Toni Morrison


I have a few sisters, I love them all very much and I'm sure I'll get the chance to tell you about the other two.
But my older sister Christie and I are best friends.  We have been our entire lives.  Just 13 months apart, I can imagine my sister telling me as a newborn that she will always take care of me and she has done a pretty good job.

The first time we were separated it was for a sunday school class, my sister had moved up to the next age group.  We cried and had to be pulled apart.  My mom retells the story of how once the class was let out we ran to each other and hugged and held hands for the rest of the day.  I've moved out of state a few times for school and it's always hard being apart, but now we live just around the corner from each other.  We spend most of our days wrangling the four monsters sweet baby angels that we call our crew.

My sister will tell you that we are exactly alike.  I laugh every time she says it because we are actually like night and day.
One main difference can be summed up by nightgowns our mother bought us when we were 11 and 12.  It was Snow White and the 7 dwarfs, Christie's nightgown had Happy on it and mine had Grumpy.  I crossed my arms, scowled and stomped and I threw that Grumpy nightgown down the stairs.  I was NOT grumpy.  Her caring happy nature continued throughout her life, she puts it to practice as a nurse.  My grumpiness... well... I'll say strong-willed, but in any case I'm still much the same.  But, who can be grumpy when they get to play with dolls all day?


 (disclaimer...  old picture.  that's me on the left; Christie still looks exactly the same)


These two girls must be sisters.  One has green eyes like me and the other has blue eyes like my sister.  They spend all of their time listening to music and arguing over who gets to marry Adam Levine.


  














Peace- Nikki