Ho Hey, October weekending.

So I dropped off the blog world last week, maybe you noticed. We've been hit a second time by this stomach flu virus, that I am really hoping has moved on for good! We were super healthy last fall/winter so I guess it's our turn.

I have to laugh a little, because this weekend marks 5 YEARS since starting my business. And the irony is that the night I opened my shop, my husband was out of town leaving me with two babies with the stomach flu. All at the same time. And I didn't sleep for 3 days straight. And this weekend, exactly 5 years later, Kenneth was out of town again, and this time Ella and I were down and out. What a way to celebrate.

But Sunday night, after a wonderful weekend of inspiration, we were finally all together and healthy again.

I love this time of year. There is a magic I can't really ever seem to put my finger on.

Guitar. Sunset. Yellow leaves. Crisp air. Blankets. Sun spots. Grass. Togetherness.

And after what seems like forever, I've brought out my camera again. I don't know...something about sick kids and school starting has kept my camera away. Nothing like October light to bring it back out.

But to finish up, you've got to watch this video. Totally spontaneous Sunday evening....Ken's been teaching himself how to play Ho Hey on the guitar, and the kids started learning it too. They had no idea Ian was being such a ham. And Addie made her own guitar. Check it out:


Come back tomorrow for some major 5 year birthday celebration!



A mother's heart and some changes:

Oh gosh. Today is a big day. I'm standing by the front door having just sent 2 of my 3 children to full day school today, and I just can't get a grip on how I feel about this.There is one (really adorable) one left. But just one. Not as noisy and crazy, and I'm finding it rather like being naked in a way.

Part of me is so ready. Last year, I spent  most of the day back and forth in the car between full day school, and part day kindergarten, and between that and regular mommy stuff, I couldn't get 2 seconds to myself during the day. Forced to start my work at 8pm, I was exhausted. Plain beat. I don't do well on little sleep, and that's all I could get last year. And the year before that! And...well, you get the idea. We're full speed at this house:)

This year, with both children in school all day, I just have Ella at home which will free me up considerably (and she's even starting preschool...so this is a huge change!). It will be good to spend time with just the baby. Although, she's not so baby anymore!

So, I don't plan on working nights like I have the past 4 years. It will also mean I can get the gym, lose the weight I've gained from the past couple years of no sleep, and get a working day rhythm. I'm really looking forward to that! Illustrating and working in the daylight hours? That's gonna be weird.

But not working when the kids are home has been my goal. That doesn't always happen, especially in the summer, but I really try and just be "home" when they are. With work becoming more and more important for us to sustain, this change really does come at the perfect time! But, oh it really has always been a conflict for me. I love doing what I do, but deadlines drive this industry and it can often make for a stressed out Mommy. So a quieter house will be a welcomed guest.


....at the same time, I'm feeling so lonely. We've been together, the 5 of us, ALL SUMMER and man we have had so much fun. They are my muses. We spent 6 weeks on the East Coast at my parents house, with no other playmates but each other. It was amazing. And now it's going to be really quiet. Do I really have kids old enough to leave home for 7 hours a day? I'm starting to see the wrinkles in my face already:) Gosh, a Mother's heart is so complex, isn't it!

Bottom line, I'm going to miss having everyone home all the time, but I do love creative projects. And it will be VERY good for me to really work without the guilt of squeezing in time when they don't notice, or staying up super late. I really want to build this little space that I've created in Sarah Jane, and I'm ready to hit the drawing board. I've got a lot of really great opportunities and ideas, but with this new start, I also want to hear from YOU!

What would YOU like to see this year at Sarah Jane? I've got more time carved out, and while it's never big enough for the dreams in my head, I really would love to hear your wishes and ideas too.

So are you ready? Ready for a great new year here in the studio? I'm going to be posting a survey where you can share your ideas with me. I'll probably have it up sometime in the next 24 hours, but I wanted to give you a heads up so you can be thinking. I really want to consider the wishes that you have!

So stay tuned, and know that if there are any other mothers out there with that first week of school mother heart syndrome, I'm with you. All the way. Now to get busy making fun and pretty things for them to ease my Mother Heart.




Ok. I need some major help here. This baby of mine turns 3 by the end of the month, and I don't really know what to do with myself. The other day, she woke up from a nap, and I grabbed my camera because she is growing up too fast!

She's not a baby-baby any more, and I'm going a little bit crazy.  Suggestions??!??

Thank goodness she has the cutest baby faces, and she cuddles me like she's still an infant. She calls me "Moth-er" and nuzzles me like a puppy. She's my angel baby.

But three years old? There has got to be a ban on that sort of thing.

Happy Easter Sale and stuff

Happy Easter Weekend everyone! I'm super excited to be celebrating. It's a favorite weekend for us, with lots of traditions that I love. Have a mentioned that my husband's family is German and Russian? So we have some great food traditions that we get all worked up about. It's the best.

So to celebrate, I've got a weekend sale to say thank you! ETSY and the WEBSHOP will have 20% off all weekend! Enjoy!

I'm going to be honest here and say that running a shop isn't the easiest thing I've ever done. In fact it's one of the hardest. Even after 4 1/2 years, there are things I just can't seem to smooth out. There are so many uncertainties and so much work that goes on behind the scenes. Maybe I'll write more about that later, but this week I've found myself particularly curious about the balance of it all, feeling rather upside down really, and I just am really so grateful that I even have wonderful friends like you who support what I create. I am just so humbled sometimes when I realize that I get to offer people what I illustrate, and that it makes other  people happy. And thank you as well for all the sweet notes you have sent me, the emails, comments, etc. running a shop (even with my assistant Ann) can be a lonely road...full risk and decisions to make at every turn...so I just wanted to take a second and thank you so much for your constant support! It means so much!

And on some other random notes, I've been featured with some interviews out and about,  think you'd like these.

Today, Gussy Sews has a HOW TO LIVE CREATIVELY feature with insights by yours truly. Love her blog!

And I never did mention an interview I did with illustrator Julie Olson talking about illustration and my personal path to publication.

Oh! And I nearly forgot! FRENCH KIDS EAT EVERYTHING and author Karen Le Billon was on Good Morning America this week! What a treat!

OK! Have a great weekend!

Today is a fluke snow storm (yikes!) but I'm looking so much to smelling saffron in the kitchen from Easter Bread.

Love to you all!



Delicate Art of Balance.

You know when you have one of "those" weeks? It still seems ironic that I'm speaking on the balance of home life and work life this next week at ALT.

Maybe this week came as a reminder at how precious that balance can be!

This week:

Ella had the croup (including major breathing scare), stomach flu and head cold

Ian: head cold and stomach flu

Addie: Head cold

Me: Stomach flu and head cold

Kenneth: miraculously steered clear, but was designated laundry doer

All while...

I finished a fabric line due this week (oooh! It's cute!!) and managed to pull 2 all nighters and several other rather intensive nights of work

I finished a chapter book illustrations due this week

I spoke in Relief Society (my church's women's organization) on entrepreneurship

My trusty $$$ printer of 5 years died  on me right in the middle of a very long and important job

Prepped for speaking at ALT this week (boy...do I have a lot to say on family balance!)

And managed to really start my sugar free living. It's awesome by the way.

* * * * *

Let's just say I'm pretty pooped. And in very good spirits because we have a 3 day weekend.

But in thinking about this MYTH of work life balance, I really do have a lot to say.

I've had some really awesome discussions with my fellow speakers, Brooke from INCHMARK, Kathryn from SNIPPET AND INK, CHRYSULA from Chrysula Winegar ...... and they all have such wonderful insights. But I think we've all come to agree that "balance" doesn't mean do all things well all the time, on time and in time. Rather, it means that you shift from section to section in your life, in good communication with those who support you (your spouse, etc.) and that you are realistic about what you need to do and when.

This week was one of those exception weeks when it all comes to a head and all energy is focused forward.

There are other weeks when the home is the main project. And then maybe work deadlines fall into the next week's focus. There really isn't such thing as doing it "all." And that I guess is a big part of what I'm speaking of on Thursday.

When I am working really intensely on designing, my laundry piles up. High. And then when I'm getting house projects done, I get a little behind on work. But it's an ebb and flow, and that's called balance.

I think for a very long time I was plagued by this false notion that to be a good mom and to keep a good house, I'd have to be all things for all people. Ha! That idea didn't last long.

Now, my family is just as much a part of my work as my work is a part of my family. It's a dance that is hard to really outline, but it's worked out so far due to a fantastic husband who comes home from work and cooks dinner, and my kids who are so incredibly supportive of their artist mom.

Just yesterday Addie proudly came out of her room wearing all her Sarah Jane attire. She hugged me and said "I love wearing all your art, Mommy."


I'm still in game of learning how to swing less dramatically from project to project, and I'm pressed on capturing those "still" moments and holding onto them as long as possible. Being still, taking time to enjoy each moment for what it is, is so vital to balanced living. My home will never be Martha Steward ready but my home can be happy and filled with laughter (even when one of the family members...I won't say who....dropped all the fresh eggs from the day on the floor yesterday) which to me is a perfectly balanced home.

I won't say it's easy. There is a rhythm that is so personal to our home and to Kenneth and I. He's out in the garage designing a trade show booth with the kids, while I have Addie on my studio floor drawing while I work on a deadline.  But that's the way we roll. Most days my work is done when the kids come home from school, and I won't touch it again until they are in bed. But work still creeps into family living, and it's been a learning curve these past couple years. But it's all beautiful!

I'll be sharing more of what we discuss at ALT during our panel. If you are attending, be sure to come! It's going to be powerhouse. Lot's of ideas for sure!

And, because I can't post without a sketch of the day:

Slow and steady wins the race.



dancing upon 2012

I came across a poem in October that I haven't been able to get out of my mind.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half light, I would spread the cloths under your feet: But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

~ W.B. Yeats

Do you know that one? I found it while watching videos of this brilliant man, and he referred to it in regards to eductation and what we are offering our children.

It makes me think about what children offer to the world, and how we, in the name of responsibility, sense, reason or just plan ignorance, often sweep it underfoot. Or, worse, step on it.  Sometimes twice. It makes me pause to think.

I am still a dreamer. And yet I am responsible for 3 little dreamers. I take that very seriously. Very.

I watched the Muppet Movie over Christmas holiday. I cried. Twice. And not just because I am a Muppet Fan. But because I believe in dreams. The basic good in people. The power of seeing something that doesn't yet exist, but could. That's what life is about really. Chasing the things that really matter, but might seem silly in the eyes of an ever changing world.

So this year, I'm resolving to do more than just lose weight, get our little home more organized,  journal our family's life better, and be healthier (which was last year's list. And the year before...oh dear.)

This year, I'm resolving to lose the stress and let the harsh world stay away a little bit more.

Laugh more

Dream more

Pay attention to silly ideas

Color my world brighter

Listen to those tiny whispers of an idea

Get on the floor and play more

You'd think that because I'm an artist for children that I spend my days in la-la land with pencils and crayons, creating mermaids and rockets with my kids all day. Ha! I wish.  On the contrary, I'm constantly in a battle between the stresses of motherhood and my own creativity.  It's a balancing act that I fight for every day. Truly.

Like today, when I had a fantastic idea I wanted to illustrate on even just scrap paper or a napkin even...but we ended up doing dental work on one child, a spontaneous new school visit for another child, a no nap day for the other child....and pretty soon my mind is in a "can we afford this?...My kitchen is a mess!...how can we rearrange our schedule to make this work?...Ack! the library books are due....Ooops...I forgot to call so-and-so....Don't forget to go sign the kid's school papers....Turn around...you missed the exit...." and so on and so on.  Not to mention the hours and hours of work I do daily.

The Mommy Brain I call it. And while that is all part of being a parent, it challenges the space I have in my heart for the things that make life beautiful, or are too whimsical to make it to the top of the list. And oooooooh that list gets long. The stress of a parent is my biggest enemy.  I confess that I've become a worrier. Something a parent can only really understand.  You know what I mean?

Silly, really.

So this year....2012

I'm waking up more lighthearted. I'm believing in what's in my gut. I'm listening to my children's unfinished and messy ideas. I'm offering my heart and not my head. I'm letting go of the worry.

What about you? Are you re-evaluating the way you are seeing this year?

Me too.




Oh! PS:


I almost forgot to tell you! I don't think that I mentioned that the 2012 Calendar is 50% off now! There's a limit on these ones...just so you are aware. And I while I made these last year, it sure seems to fit my feelings as of late:)

Available here and here.

Yes it does.

Picture 9
Picture 9

This Sunday is Mother's Day. I'm really lucky, because I'm going to get breakfast in bed from my 3 littles. I get to go to church. I will be with my family, and my children will make me love notes. My husband will write me love notes. My kids won't fight and it will be a perfect day. I might even get a nap.

Once a year we get spoiled, right?

Well, it's something I've been thinking about lately, and something I think about every Mother's Day. I actually don't feel much different on Mother's Day because I (for the most part, and on most good days) feel so priveledged to be a mom every.single.day. My children give me kisses and hugs and thank you's. And when I wake up at the crack of dawn from their pitter-patter footsteps, I put aside the fatigue because I would rather have those little alarm clocks than none at all.

I could go on and on about motherhood, how grateful I am to be what I am, and how I wish all women could feel this way about their mothering. But what I will say, is that my friend Melanie Burke pointed me to this site created by our local news channel (which she designed.) It's geared to help women feel empowered (rather than disabled) by their own mothering. How cool is that? The local news station supporting women by saying this:

Popular culture promises that by recognizing and focusing on our own needs, we will find empowerment.  In reality it creates a culture of comparison, distraction and discontent, none of which lead to empowerment.  The act of mothering … caring for, teaching, and nurturing, has just the opposite effect.  It emboldens us with confidence, contentment and purpose.

Sometimes I feel like the world around me (except for my church, my neighborhood, the blogging world I participate in and my friends and family) has forgotten this primal need women have to nurture and to give. And how that is a central part of our character.

I am just super proud that the media hasn't forgotten that notion entirely. If you are in Utah, KSL is having a Motherhood Matters week. But you don't have to be from Utah to Participate. There is a 10 day Motherhood Challenge here. A Giveaway Site Here. And more information here.

What about you? Do you let motherhood empower you?

Keeping it Real Monday.

Whew! What a weekend. We've been picking up the pieces after having a booth at the Bijou Market, and now getting ready  for our booth at Quilt Market in 4 weeks. And then there have been a few hiccups like having our mini-van in the shop for 2 weeks after a terrible car crash (did you see that one on my twitter?) and oh....did I mention that my brother is getting married this week? Mix in a few colds and normal life with kids and a house and yard, and this is what the house has been looking like:

The one thing that goes first when things get crazy are the normal: dishes and laundry...and floors, and well....it all just seems a blur sometimes. So, lest you think that life behind the screen is as pretty as my blog facade, please take notice: running a full-time shop & business with freelancing books and designs while mothering 3 kids who are home most of the day isn't always roses.

Like these clothes at the bottom of the stairs? I think they've been there for at least 3 days now.

And I'm not even showing you my car or laundry room!

Sometimes, I think we're so used to seeing things with such a pretty spin on blogs these days (and for good reason--it's important for me to focus on the positive when I blog...it keeps me motivated to see the beautiful during every day life...which is oh so needed when life is less than pretty)....it's important for you to know that as glamourous as it sounds to be a book illustrator, blogger, fabric designer, home owner....things aren't necessarily pretty around here! It takes a lot of focus to keep it all in check.

I still don't have it figured out! But since I am the housekeeper AND everything else....the role of housekeeper does take a back seat when things get overly busy. I don't like it at all. I hate a messy house! But....it's the sacrifice you make for running an at home business and being an artist. It just is.

And it goes along perfectly with my all time favorite motto (poem):

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,for children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

-by Ruth Hamilton, 1958

And so there you have it. Real life today.  I just went around my house clicking the camera today...no edits here.

But with that, I will say that the combination of your AMAZING responses on the survey (which ends today, FYI), and the need to make some changes around here to let this growing business suit our family a bit better, you will be seeing some changes around the shop. And soon. So stay tuned! It's always hard to make changes, but since I've been in this for my family from the very beginning, changes are inevitable. I'll talk more about that later...

Happy Monday!