Life Changed!

On May 21, 2013 we welcomed Harper into our lives, an 8 pound 13 ounce, 21 inch bundle of joy :)

Here are a few more pics from life since she has arrived:

She is the sweetest baby in the whole wide world and we are in love :)  We got off to a bit of a rough start with a dramatic delivery – meconium, c-section, and 7 days in the NICU because Harper was fighting off a bit of an infection and needed antibiotics.  Then we had breastfeeding issues. Harper learned to prefer the bottle while in the NICU and did not breastfeed till she was 7 weeks old. Tomorrow she will be 11 weeks old and my how time is flying!

It looks like the blog is getting put to bed at this point. I may transform this site into something else in the future, or just post pics every now and then of our lives. We are extremely happy with our new little wonder and excited for the many wonderful years to come as a family!

xoxoxoxox

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Merry Christmas – Life is Changing

Xmas Postcard 2012I cannot believe that my last post was over 9 months ago.

I am not exactly sure what happened except that I got overwhelmed  and exhausted and just had to stop.  I have always admired bloggers who could consistently and transparently blog about their lives for years and years on end.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be this kind of breed.

I am also not sure if going off the grid had anything to do with the other big things that were brewing that I didn’t feel I could really talk about until I was ready — namely the big question of whether we wanted to have children or not and what we were going to do about that.  Well, after a lot of soul searching, we just stopped preventing, and after a few months, we knew which way our lives were going to be changing.

Pregnancy has been a lot easier than I thought it would be and I feel really good, so I am extremely thankful for that.  I’ve noticed my perspective changing – that I care more about things like guns and who my mother in law is dating. And I feel like I have some sort of knew adrenal powers that would allow me to strangle someone with my bare hands if they tried to do any harm to our girl (oh, btw, it’s a girl! :) ).

The other interesting part of this journey was choosing where we going to go for prenatal care and delivery.

I had no idea I would end up caring so much about that, either!  My opinion before being pregnant was that I would definitely take pain options like an epidural, and I had a really hard time understanding why anyone wouldn’t. And I for sure could not understand why anyone would EVER give birth outside of a hospital.

Wow, how the tables have turned! I started going to a regular OB who was really nice.  But the appointments were short and I didn’t feel any real connection — it was strictly taking your blood pressure, listening to baby’s heartbeat, and then out you go.  Then I realized I wouldn’t even be getting this OB at my delivery unless she was on call when I went into labor.  And after the hospital tour and talking to the nurses there, I realized that it’s pretty much the nurses who are with you for labor and they just call the OB on the phone to get instructions. I feel very odd for my reaction to this because it seems like most people find this totally normal, but I was appalled that this is how it works.  I also wondered how I never knew this all these years!

So, that’s when my search for something different started. I was very sure that I wanted to be in the hospital, so I was elated when I found a certified nurse midwife in town that would do all of your prenatal care with hour-long appointments, labor sit you, and handle delivery. I KNEW that’s who I would be using . . . until I met her.

She scared me.

When I asked about alternatives like not having an IV from the get go or not having to wear the band for continuous fetal monitoring, she was filled with worst case scenarios and reasons why those were horrible ideas.  She said she’d only let me go a week past my due date before recommending induction. But the clincher was when I expressed my concern about the number of c-sections being done in the hospital. She went into a huge defense of the hospital and explained that the c-section rate is around 30% because they see such high risk populations, etc. etc. When I told her that I understood that, but of 5 of my friends who have given birth in the hospital, 3 have had c-sections, so the rate is much higher than 30% in my own little universe of pregnant friends, and it’s a concern of mine, she replied that, “I must have extremely unlucky friends.”  At that point I knew we were not a match.

Five days before my meeting with the midwife who I KNEW I was going to use and then found out I WASN’T going to use, I went to an orientation at our local free-standing Birth Center with my husband.  We almost cancelled, because I KNEW who I was going with already, but a friend of mine was going to the Birth Center and said, “Oh, you should at least meet the midwives, they are so great!” So, I was just going there more out of curiosity and to get a glimpse of how the other people, “those people”, were doing it.

I just loved those midwives.

I felt so safe in that Birth Center. The whole place had an aura of calm and nurturing support, and a different philosophy about birth that surprisingly resonated with me.

When I realized that I didn’t want to work with the midwife who delivered in the hospital, it seemed like the choice, unbelievable as it was, was obvious. I never thought I’d be one of “those women,” but here I am, going to the Birth Center.

Every doubt I had about that choice went away after my first appointment with one of the Birth Center midwives.  She asked me things the others hadn’t asked me – about my eating habits/nutrition, my family, my worries and fears, how my relationship with my husband was, and what I liked to do for exercise.   The appointment lasted over an hour. She checked my blood pressure and listened to baby’s heartbeat, too, just like the OB, but did so much more. And when I turned to leave, she wouldn’t let me out of the office without a hug.

This whole experience has been really eye-opening for me. The journey isn’t anywhere near over. There were things I gave up by choosing the Birth Center, such as the option of the epidural and getting to stay for a few days and have room service and round the clock infant care. It wasn’t an easy choice by any stretch of the imagination.

I know that I deeply respect everyone’s personal decision on this.

I don’t think one way is *the* way, but I am so glad there are choices, and everyone has different needs.

So, that’s what has been going on with me! I am thinking I am going to put regular blogging to bed for now so I can relax into the changes that are coming my way, but I have so enjoyed having this forum and getting to meet everyone that I have gotten to meet in this space.  I’ve always used this site as a playground for online experiments, so I imagine that will continue in some way or another.

Thank you so much for reading and coming along on the adventure with me for these years!  Merry Christmas and hope you have an incredible new year!

xoxoxox

Kristen

Merry Christmas

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How Do You Unplug?

I think I am an introvert (gasp!).

I kind of thought I was a cross between an extrovert and an introvert (a very sexy ambivert), but after watching this Ted talk the other day, I can see some introvert tendencies that brush up against a 24×7 extrovert-leaning society.

One thing that I *crave* that I don’t seem to be able to get enough of these days is quiet time – long periods of do-nothing time – read a book, take a nap, stretch, take a walk time. Last weekend I got some of that time with Winnie and Andy . . . and I loved it :)  No laptop, no cell phone reception, just a beach front camping spot and a 7 mile long beach walk to collect shells on a Sunday with no set time we needed to be back (my version of heaven!).

I think I might be a flip-flop wearing introvert?! :)

What do you think?  Are you an introvert/extrovert/ambivert?  Do you think introverts have a greater need for extended periods of downtime, and how do you get it?

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Valentine’s Day Paper Fortune Cookies :)

Paper Fortune Cookie

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of Valentine’s Day and of our wedding pictures being featured on our photographer’s blog,  I am featuring a fun visual tutorial of how to make a paper fortune cookie. I made over 100 of these for our wedding, so I am very familiar with them at this point — and I still love them!

And here is a little secret . . .

The paper fortune cookie is social engineering in a cute little package :)

For our wedding we had one long table that everyone sat at.  Each place setting had one of these paper fortune cookies.  I hoped that it would help break the ice — if you were sitting next to someone you didn’t know you could easily start a conversation with, “What did your fortune say?”

And we packed some suggestions into these fortune cookies, too. :)  Like, “You will rule the dance floor tonight if you so choose.”  and “There is a hula hoop in your near future.” (we had hula hoops on the dance floor).

All in all, these fortune cookies were a huge hit and did not cost a lot to make.  Although they did involve some sweat equity, it was a really nifty DIY touch that I was really proud of on our big day :)

Paper Fortune Cookie Place Setting

Long Wedding Table Place Settings

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!

xoxoxo

much love,

Kristen

PS

No, my guests did not know that their fortunes were written on rolling paper tips :)  I don’t even know what a rolling paper tip is, mind you (really!!!!), I just happened to see these when I was in the throes of this project when I went into a store to buy incense and they were the perfect size and shape for fortune cookie fortunes!  Who knew?

PPS

Did you see a dog nose sneak into one of my tutorial photos?  :)  That was Winnie doing her own visual tutorial of how to relax in the midst of a tutorial photo shoot :)

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The Humble Beginnings of a Painting: Part 3

Slowly but surely, slowly but surely :)

Buddha Close-up

I got inspired to add a wing in the painting and make it feel like the Buddha is flying through the wind on the wing of a bird, but after adding the wing, I wasn’t sure I liked the wing.  When I first put it in I had it outlined in black paint, but that felt way to heavy with the other colors.  So I went back in with some gesso and lightened up the black.  That felt better, but the wing still needed something, so I put in some color.

The wing was definitely feeling better.  I kept seeing something around the head of the Buddha and thought it would be neat to have some colors there, but I wanted them to be soft and muted and kind of drippy, like the background.  I mixed some color with lots of water and washed it in, sopped up the color with a semi-wet paper towel, put more color in, and then sprayed it with a water bottle to get the drippy effect.

It’s feeling better, but still doesn’t feel done to me.  Since I get little specks of time to work on it here and there, there’s always the danger that I will let it sit too long and lose momentum.  I am hoping that won’t happen. Sometimes it feels like sitting with a painting is good, but sometimes it feel like it leads to paralysis.

We’ll see what happens :)

Buddha

For now it is living above the dog bowls :)

PS

There are two certificates of achievement hanging above the water bowl.  The one closest to the water bowl is Winnie’s (our new doggy) diploma from obedience school :)  I put it up there so she can see it every day when she drinks her water.  The second certificate is Andy’s certificate of achievement that he got from his smoking cessation class a few weeks ago for 23 days not smoking!!!!!  We have a bunch of achievers in this household and I am very proud of both of them :)

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The Humble Beginnings of a Painting: Part 2

I loved what Lis said in the comments of Part One of this post about surrendering to a painting, and letting go of whatever it is going to turn out to be — happy, sad, ugly, weird, beautiful, etc.

Painting On A Chair

I am really enjoying surrendering to this one :)  And here is what is developing so far:

Blue Buddha

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Awaken

Kodachrome Buddha

Kodachrome Buddha

This is a new collage piece done using some different techniques than I have used before.  And I am vowing to take process pics during the next one! :)

It started with an Art Board.  Then an image of a Buddha statue that I cut out.  I really wanted to use a rainbow similar to the ones in the Polaroid logo, so I created some nice looking Polaroid lines in Photoshop and printed them on clear overhead projector paper (transparent paper).

So, I had the background, my main collage image, and then I added the clouds, light coming from his head (or down to his head?), lines around the body to symbolize vibrations, and there you go!  Oh, and I also finished this piece with ICE resin, my all time favorite finish that I am still working on getting good at using :)

And about the statue, this is what it says in my book of Buddhist art, “The statue in this collage piece is from a cave at Shorchuk, Chinese Turkestan.  It appears that these and some other busts were originally situated in niches of the walls of the cave, as though they had floated down from heaven to worship the Buddha.  This figure may represent a goddess, or possibly a Bodhisattva, performing devotion.  It is holding a sacrificial offering, a few flowers between the hands, which are held together as in worship.”

The idea of this guy residing in a cave in China fascinates me.  And I love mixing these images in with other elements, bringing him out of the cave, and even out of the museum, to be seen in a new way.  Something I love about doing collage is the way it causes me to stare at an image for hours upon hours.  When I am looking for images or working with other images, I sometimes feel like I am literally absorbing the image with my eyes – taking in all the energy, the tiny details, and asking myself a lot of questions about what I could do with that image.

In the last post I mentioned a little of what the resistance in my head sounds like around doing artwork, so I will expand a little on what goes on in my head about collage.  I used to love doing collage, until I started venturing into selling artwork.  Now I have a voice in my head that tells me that I am probably violating a million copyrights with every piece I do, that I can never sell them because of that, and worst of all, that collage is not “real” art.

So, I’ve tried to stay away from it.  Except that I miss it.  I just love absorbing interesting images and putting images I find and love in a new context.  I love the fact that this beautiful entity who spent hundreds of years performing devotion in a cave is now lit up by Polaroid rainbows and sitting on a cloud with light emitting from his head.  And I got to spend time with this image in a way I never would have flipping through a book.

But, in the midst of all of this, I started pondering and remembering that not every creative thing I do should be for sale – that that’s not the point of all of this.  It’s such a shame to stay away from some creative endeavors because they might not be profitable.  That’s the part I’ve always disliked about selling artwork, because it sort of tweaks the way I see every piece and changes things.  I wish it didn’t, but it does.  If I were making widgets I wouldn’t care about that, but with art, I really do.

So, my word this year is “Awaken,” and I think there’s a lot of that already going on over here :)  With this piece I realized that I need to give myself more creative freedom — break the shackles that bind, do what I love, and let go of the fears.

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The Humble Beginnings of a Painting

Happy 2012!!!!!

I am excited about the new year!  I have a feeling this is going to be a very big year for all of us, and can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.  I’ve decided that my word for this year is awaken. I am not sure what that means yet, but I guess that is what awakening is all about :)

I’ve also decided to try to post more about the creative process this year because of your suggestions during the mix tape giveaway. It’s funny, the creative process is probably the most challenging thing for me to write about, so this will be interesting!

I am starting off by showing you the beginnings of a painting I am working on:

Painting On A Chair

I got inspired to work on a bigger surface than I have been working on lately, so I got this bigger canvas out from storage.  It sat around for days till I actually whipped out a knife and liberated it from the plastic packaging.  I wanted to do a painting, but there was lots of resistance, which sounds a little bit like this inside my head:

  • You don’t have enough space to paint in your house.
  • Painting is messy and you don’t really want to get messy right before bed.
  • What will we paint on that big blank space????
  • What if it turns out horrible – and then you’ve made a big mess and wasted an expensive piece of canvas all for nothing!

This is the hardest part of the creative process in my opinion – getting started and working through all that resistance.

And it seems like the longer I go between creative endeavors, the more resistance there is to wade through.  This night it seemed particularly bad.

But resistance doesn’t like being questioned and is sort of like that small man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.  It feels big and scary and authoritative, but is really a small place with big fears.  For each reason my brain came up with for why I should not paint, I listened to it, carefully pondered it, but tried not to blindly agree with it.  Instead I tried asking some genuinely curious questions.

  • Yes, our house is small, but is there some way I could figure out how to make some room to paint?  Is there any creative way I could create some space?
  • Painting *is* messy and it *is* a drag to clean it all up before bed, but is there any way to make it easier?  Less messy? Easier clean-up?
  • What will we paint on that big blank space????  Do we ever know what we will paint in those blank spaces?  What could it be?
  • And what if it does turn out horrible?  What’s the worst that could happen?  Is it worse not to try?

Once the questions were asked, the answers began to appear.  Suddenly, the place where the dog’s water and food bowl sit looked like an easy space to convert into a painting studio for an hour.  I moved the bowls aside and slid a chair in the space.  Then I grabbed a real grubby towel, laid it down, and sacrificed it to the creative process (yes, it did get yellow paint all over it, but it was already grubby!).

As for what to paint, I am still figuring that out, but yellow seemed to be calling my name.  I had fun mixing up batches and letting them drip down the canvas.  The next day I used a plastic fork to move the paint around while it was still wet.

So, that’s a bit of the creative process from my corner of the world.  I think the hardest part is that damn resistance.  Once the wheels are turning it all seems to get a little easier from there.  Just putting down the first mark seems to help.

Part of me feels like posting about a painting that is not yet done puts a lot of pressure to make it fantastic, but I guess that is just another creative challenge I will walk through – and I will post the finished result when it gets finished, whatever it looks like :)

For now, it is sitting between my creative nook and the dog bowl :)

Humble Beginnings of a Painting

Many wishes for wonderful things to transpire for you in 2012, and may any resistance to all that is good and calling your name melt away like drops of water sliding down the side of a dog’s water bowl :)

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And the winners are . . .

Okay, so Andy and I surfed really early on Sunday, I then ate a big breakfast, crashed out for 3 hours, and got up around 2pm in the afternoon and decided to pick the winners of the Mojo Mix Tape Giveaway.

So, if I sound a little like I just woke up from a nap, it’s because I did (a really long, GOOD one :)) The first video is a little glimpse into the creative process, and the second video announces the winners!

My Feet, and the Creative Process from Kristen Walker on Vimeo.

Picking the Winners! from Kristen Walker on Vimeo.

Thanks everyone for playing! This was fun for me and I loved getting some ideas of what you guys are curious about! I am going to put the ideas on a piece of paper and hang it up to use as inspiration for some future blog posts. Thank you!

PS
It *IS* Maxfield Parrish! One of my all time, hands down favorites.

PPS
Boy do I have flat feet! And I could really use some polish on those toes! Why did I film my feet????

PPS
I almost forgot! Here’s a listing of the songs on this year’s mix, Occupy Christmas with Peace, Love, and Joy:

  • It’s December Again – Hymns from Nineveh
  • In the Morning – Jack Johnson
  • The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball – The Killers
  • Time Of The Season – Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
  • I Wish It Was Christmas Today – Julian Casablancas
  • Oi to the World – No Doubt
  • Miracle (eat. Dub Trio) – Matisyahu
  • Just Fine – Ciao!
  • Pop Navidad – Palenke Soultribe
  • Christ Was Born On Christmas Morn – Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon
  • Rebel Jesus – Ivan & Alyosha
  • 40 Years in the Wilderness – Rick Hanson
  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year – Martha Wainwright
  • The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
  • Christmas With Bing – Poncho Pirates
  • Someday at Christmas (Alternate Version) – Jack Johnson
  • See You Next Year – Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler

Some of the stand-outs this year, to me, are It’s December Again, Just Fine, Rebel Jesus Christmas With Bing, and See You Next Year. But, obviously I really like all of them for different reasons or they wouldn’t be on the mix :)

And disclaimer-> this may seem hard to believe given my passion for Christmas and the Christian leanings of this mix (and some of my artwork), but I do not consider myself a member of any religion. I love the spirit of Christmas and grew up with it. And my birthday is two days after Christmas, so maybe that’s why I *extra* love it. I don’t have anything against anyone’s personal practices or beliefs, I just want to make it clear that I am not trying to convert anyone to anything, well, except maybe to the love of cool music, and that you can make traditions your own, in your own creative/quirky ways. And to celebrate things with great zest, whatever it is you celebrate :) But that’s it, I swear!

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Mojo Mix Tape Giveaway

Wedding Mix Tape CDWhat’s a blogger to do when she’s gotten out of the habit of blogging and is finding it hard to . squeak . out . words?

This is ccccccrazy!  I can write!  I like to write!  I love to write and connect with other people . . . it’s one of my preferred mediums!  But yeah, lately I’ve found it very hard to get the words out.  Or they come flooding out in a really awkward way.

So this is where the giveaway comes in.  I love mix tapes and I made three of them as favors for our wedding.  I am also finishing up this year’s x-mas mix.

And I want to some mix tapes away!

I will pick three winners from the comments below (or Twitters @kristenannie).  No signing up to anything required . . .

Just post a creative idea for a blog post you’d like to see me do.

Are there questions you want answers to?  Do you want to see more pictures of our new dog, Winnie?  Is there something you’ve wanted to know more about me or my life?  Deep thoughts?  New products or artwork?  Anything you think I could do blog-wise that would be fun and be me and help me get those mojo-ic juices going again?

I will appreciate everything that comes in my inbox — crazy, creative, whacky, easy, or simple! :)  Since there is a Christmas Mix involved I will probably have to put the CD’s in the mail by this by Saturday, so the contest closes on Friday at 9pm PSD.  If you want to spread the word, I’d love that!

Three people will be chosen at random and will get to select one of the wedding favor CD mix tapes (reggae, 80′s, and eclectic with an emphasis on 60′s music mixed with new artists) and each person will get this year’s Christmas Mix.

So each selected person gets TWO CD’S!  Wowowow! :)

So there it is – I’ve put it out there :)  I really wanna get my mojo back and I love mix tapes and giveaways — thanks for playing!

Mix Tape

Photo of one of the wedding mix tapes on the big day!

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