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Archive for daughters

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We are well into 2017, and I had not really intended to continue my Letter to my Daughter series of painting practice this year. I have taken a nearly two-month break from painting except for a few client projects, and I’ve enjoyed the change of pace. When I was thinking about goals for 2017, I hadn’t decided if I wanted to do another themed series. I’ve really been craving trying out some new looks and media, and I think maybe feeling a little bored with just lettering. I’ve been wanting to produce pieces that are more “solid”. And yet, I seem to always come back to some variation of words + pictures in my work.

THEN, I had a fun experience with my Baby Girl yesterday. I chaperoned her 3rd grade gifted class on a trip to see a science themed “circus.” During the course of some crazy plate spinning, bubble antics and mime activity, they discussed several scientific principles we encounter every day along with an encouragement toward curiosity. One of the performers told the children about the importance of “knowledge” and seeking knowledge for your whole life. But, in answering the rhetorical question of why mimes and boomerang tricks were included in a “science” program, he let the kids know that even when you don’t have knowledge about something, you always have your imagination. And that can take you places!

Baby Girl’s eyes lit up when she heard that statement. She looked at me with pride and said, “I have a lot of imagination!”

Indeed. It reminded me again that against all odds and in spite of any cost, we must treasure the blessing of imagination. In dark or uncertain times, it is imagination that allows us to believe in the reality of hope. In times when we don’t understand something, it is imagination that allows us to believe in the possibilities. And, in times when the flaws of a situation seem to take over, it is imagination that allows us to envision a changed world.

I doubt I’ll begin painting “letters” every day again. But, the journey of sharing with my children will never end, and neither will all the things they have to teach me! The discipline of painting is just one way my soul processes the beauty of these extraordinarily ordinary experiences. Thanks for letting me continue to share them.

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Maggie and the Moon

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I’ve had this Jazz standard on my mind today, poking up into that playlist in my brain in between all the residue from a very busy two weeks of client design work. It’s on my mind because of a little activity Baby Girl planned for us last night. Her third grade class is doing a unit on space, and they’re learning about constellations and the phases of the moon. They’ve been documenting the look of the moon so they can understand how the phases work. Each group has certain nights to look at the moon, draw how it looks and write down any other observations. Maggie had already recorded the findings on her night, but decided before school yesterday that it would be fun to do it again that night — along with the whole family.

Now, Maggie has great ideas. She has lots of ideas. And, I’ll admit that sometimes my response to her ideas is to try to simplify, to put her off, to cajole her with practicality. How did I get to be that person? I’m given to getting lost in my own imagination. I’m not usually practical minded. Except when I’m at the end of a long and busy day, coming at the end of a long and busy week, when I tend to want as little fuss as possible.

Last night, I tried to talk Baby Girl out of fuss. It’s true; I tried to encourage her to alter her plans in favor of just walking out and looking up at the moon. But, I could see the disappointment in her eyes. So, I rounded up the boys, and we decided to go for it.

It’s an interesting thing when you take a small thing and make a real “thing” out of it. When you take a have-to and make a celebration out of it. Those transformations are part of what I want to be “normal” in our home. We put a lot of time (and decorations) into celebrating things — even little things. Maggie has learned well. How easy it is to let the little opportunities for celebration get crowded out by busy-ness.

So, at 8:00 last night, the Montgomerys spread a quilt on the front yard, spread out the lanterns Baby Girl brought,  and stretched out on pillows looking up. At first it was a have-to — one of those things big brothers have to do to please their little sisters. One of those things Mommies have to do to keep from disappointing daughters. But, before I knew it I was breathing deeply — the first time all day, I think. I stretched out my arms. Bug snuggled close to me on the pillow. Maggie showed everyone her moon journal. Travis discovered an airplane. Then another. Bug got his glasses to see the stars better. We turned off the lanterns. We counted stars as our eyes slowly adjusted. We watched the clouds move across the half moon.

Time that moments before had been spent with each person gazing into a screen of some kind turned into time spent talking to each other, noticing the world around us, and celebrating the night together. And yes, everyone was ready to go back in and enjoy their own things after a little while. But, for those short moments, we were amazed by the sky and the night. And, everyone decided we should lay out our quilt another night to look at the stars.

For me, it was a treasured moment. A moment when I realized, I’d never see the moon the same way again. Because when I look up tonight or the next, I’ll think about Maggie and her ideas. I’ll think about Elisha scooting closer to me on the pillow and counting stars. I’ll think about Travis wondering out loud if we were seeing light from 500 years ago. I’ll remember that we looked at that same moon together. On this one night. And it was a “thing.” A beautiful thing.

Years ago, when I started my first blog, I wrote a column called “Gift Tags…”

“the tiny messages God continues to include with our gifts — 2 little joys of boys and 1 little jewel of a girl, each with open eyes, open ears, open hearts, and much to teach. “Behold children are a gift of the Lord…” (psalm 127:1)”

The series was an exercise in paying attention to those little miraculous things I learn from my children. It was before I had this business. Before Mike died. Before I was tasked with being the sole provider for my family. Before these last few weeks and this season, when I feel like I’ve been so stretched emotionally and creatively to meet the challenges of work and art and parenting. But, the messages are just as poignant. Just as essential. Just as much balm to my soul.

I realized that again in a new way last night. I reminded myself what a treasure they each are. What a treasure time is. And how important it is to take advantage of every moment. Maggie is our living laboratory assignment for the pursuit of beautifully embraced moments. I’m so thankful that she stretches us toward experiencing them.

“I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”

Programming note: Today is Number 55 in the Letters series, and I’m on a mission to get to 100 this fall. Stay with me!

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Wishing a Happy Birthday to my Baby Girl today!

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It’s birthday week around here, and I’m reflecting on all things Baby Girl. When she was born, the most wonder-inspiring thing for all of us was just that — that she was a Baby Girl. Born into boy-land. And capturing our hearts more fully with each little movement. Since then, I see this so much in her, even in her short eight years. Her bravery. Her willingness to jump right in to chase that thing she has in her mind. Even when she has to drag us along. And convince us. With some of the most challenging things a little girl can face, she just keeps on. Being who she knows she is. So I know. Even in those fleeting moments when she may not feel like it. You are brave.

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Yeah, carpool. It’s often unpredictable, especially at the beginning of the school year. Plus, it seems to bring out all kinds of stress, frustration and even unkindness in even the most mild-mannered of parents! Our first day of school last week had the typical carpool chaos at Baby Girl’s new school, and even though you know it’s going to be crazy, as a parent, I seem to always underestimate the time needed for those first few days. So, we were late. On the first day. And, Baby Girl got out of the car in tears, which made for a rough first day of school for me as well. Since that day, we’ve been leaving earlier and I’ve been trying my best to keep my attitude light as we navigate the crazy school traffic.

This morning, I couldn’t help but smile as we turned onto School Street for the last crucial lap of Wednesday morning carpool. Baby Girl was practically bouncing, and said, “I wish I was in there right now! I can’t wait to get in there and get started!” School, she meant! [Bravo, Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary staff!] I assured her that we were in “the loop” now and she would be inside in no time. Her response… “It’s really a Rainbow Loop!”

She proceeded to discuss the idiosyncrasies of various circular shapes that resembled the traffic flow on the HWS campus until we made it to her jumping out stop, and determined that “rainbow” was, indeed, the best description of the carpool line.

I love a girl who can see a rainbow in even the most harried of situations. It made me think that maybe seeing rainbows has less to do with light and water, and more to do with joyful hearts and happy attitudes. Thanks for the reminder, Baby Girl. I hope you always see rainbows!

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This week I’ve been trying to convince Baby Girl that following through with something she started would be a brave thing. That’s true. Most of the time. And, it’s a valuable lesson to learn for hearts of any age. But, she taught me something else this morning. She taught me that sometimes, when you know yourself and what makes you happy and excited, the brave thing is to say “This isn’t me.” It’s not a good fit. It’s not my place. It’s not what I want. It’s not what makes my heart sing. And, that’s ok. Because being truly brave is having the courage to  stay loyal to who you know you are.

That girl.

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No touch-ups today! I’m trying out some new cold press watercolor paper we got yesterday on the mother of all craft store browsing. When I see Baby Girl in her element, talking about her ideas, making her own choices, this is what I think.

I have a serious backlog of inspiring images and creative pursuits to share, which I hope to post soon. It’s been a wonderful summer having my sweet kiddos along for the ride every day. That, in itself, has inspired a greater desire to focus on building and living out what matters most to me.

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Baby Girl declared this last week. And, sure enough, she IS good at yo-yos! She even gave me a few pointers on how to improve my very lacking yo-yo skills. I just love that she can recognize with pride when she is good at something and use that confidence to keep on trying. I want to remind her of these moments. To store up for trying the next new thing!

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We’re citizens of the smallest world there’s ever been. It’s so beautifully small that our different ideas and beliefs and lifestyles and even dreams brush up against each other every day. Sadly, all too often I think we let that small world convince us we serve a small God. I’d rather help Baby Girl learn to play to the bigness of the God who spun this ball into existence. And let her own love and capacity to serve and bless match the bigness of the one who made her.

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Pretty please.

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