Persevering

Persevering

Greetings, dear pond readers! I’m writing to you with a general update on things in my corner of the midwest. This winter was rough with illness and spring has continued in this vein. I’m declaring a win over my latest bout with infectious disease but with the quietest of voices so that the germs don’t hear me and change their plans.

2021 Blueberries on the Wee Bairn’s Blueberry Shrub by E.A. Schneider

Bulbs are coming up. Grass is beginning to green. The soil looks invitingly black and rich. My inner terrier wants to dig and root and inhale deeply of the rich scent of earth. I keep eyeing the garden centers in my area looking for signs of stocked greenhouses. Already I have read and reread my seed packets to sketch my 2022 Good News Garden alongside my Wee Bairn. My spouse laughs lovingly at us for being a pair of Mr. McGregors scolding the naughty bunnies who have eaten the Wee Bairn’s blueberry shrub to a lone, resilient stick and bisected multiple bulbs we planted with their incisors.

Mr. McGregor is not the only literary character on my mind. I keep thinking of Frog and Toad looking for Spring around every corner together in Frog and Toad All Year. That story is one of my very favorites and I love that I can share it with the Wee Bairn. Side by side we hurry to every plot we dug in 2021 to check for green shoots launching upward to the sky or remains rejected by naughty bunnies with picky palettes. It has smote my sore chest every time the Wee Bairn wants to linger outside to plant flowers and fruits only to be told again for the 47th time not today, not yet.

Watching Wildlife Through the Window 2021 by E.A. Schneider

Nevertheless, spring is coming. Seeds will go in the ground. Some will germinate and thrive and some will not. No matter what, it will be an adventure and I’m glad that I can share it with my Wee Bairn. In keeping with the Good News Gardens principles of plant, pray, and proclaim, I’m keen to chronicle our 2022 adventures here again. I’m having fun coming up with ideas to plant seeds and head start them effectively using up-cycled things like milk jugs, drink trays, and cardboard. We’ll see how successful I am in this but it will be fun.

First Bulb Sighting in the Wee Bairn’s Bulb Garden by E.A. Schneider

Speaking of fun, I’m happy to report that this is a big week for my E.A. Lawrence writing journey. I submitted a story to a lovely place this weekend, another story is still under consideration at another lovely place, and last night I found out my status in the NYCMidnight short story contest. Like so much this season, the news is bittersweet. The lovely place didn’t buy my story and the judges didn’t advance me to the next round of judging in the NYCMidnight short story contest. C’est la vie. The sweet part? The lovely place’s reply was encouraging and the NYCMidgnight judges gave me some helpful, constructive feedback on my story. I am heartened that I have some quality stories that just need to find the right home and I’m energized to look.

Frozen Dewdrop on Broccoli 2021 by E.A. Schneider

I’ve also been doggedly plugging away at another short story project that is due in May. Sometimes I write 10 words and reread what I wrote. Other times I write 250. Every time, I text one of my writing friends with a progress update to keep me accountable. I’m writing in my pandemic log and am on volume three. My area is littered with empty pen cartridges. Every time I think I’ve picked them all up, I or the Wee Bairn finds another. Even for as ill as I’ve been and I’ve been scary ill, I’m continuing to write even if it is only a little bit. The effort is a healing exercise. Getting the feedback I’ve gotten on my stories makes me want to seize my fountain pen and dive as deeply into the page as I can. I made a list of my drafts in progress and am cross referencing it with a table of upcoming publishing calls that look promising. I’m trying my absolute best to live up to my writing spirit animal. I sincerely doubt that I will finish all of these stories, at least to my satisfaction, but pondering the possibility gives my arrector pili muscles the good kind of electric boost.

Lake Michigan Spring Snow by E.A. Schneider

The Wee Bairn has also been helping me cut out fabric and started their first hand sewing project this weekend. While sharing certain fabrics from my stash with others was met with protest, the magic of seeing shapes of fabric emerge from the Accuquilt Go was a thrill declared to be the most fun thing ever by my preschooler. I always appreciate this accolade. Of particular interest was the sight of the fabric we used to make a scarf together for the Wee Bairn. The idea that a single fabric could be in both the scarf and be cut into squares for something else for someone else was a fascinating notion to my preschooler. I’m glad. That concept has always been poetic to me. Rattling around in my heart I think there is a fairy tale on the subject but it’s still growing.

I might post these pictures again when I do my post about all my recent sewing projects but here are pictures of the scarf that the Wee Bairn helped me sew. Not only was my Presser Foot Operator on the case, we collaborated on feeding the flannel and minky fabric through the machine. Turning the scarf right-side out was also a source of great excitement and interest. The scarf has become something to cuddle and use as a lasso on the parents more than something warm to wear but that’s okay; we had fun making it together. I pray that someday my child and my future in-laws will be the happier for these early experiments in creativity and making useful, lovely things.

Spring is around the corner. It’s up to us to persevere and get there. Hopefully, this finds you well and healthy and dreaming of pleasant adventures. Are you creating? Writing? Taking pictures?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Paints, Stickers, and Kid Fun Times

Paints, Stickers, and Kid Fun Times

Greetings, dear pond readers! As promised in my last crafty post, I am going to share some of the painting crafts I did in 2020 with my kiddo. Like many people, I have had to juggle a lot of time with my Wee Bairn without any of us going too far into the situational depression quagmire that the COVID-19 pandemic has created. One of the key tools I’ve relied on is the healing creativity of paint. Early in 2020 I bought a giant pile of stretched canvases on sale, a bunch of non-toxic paint, and my folks got us a multi-pack of brushes. Those canvases were probably one of the best investments I’ve made during this entire ordeal. Now I’m not a trained visual artist but I’ve always found unstructured time mixing colors and laying down textures with brushes to be relaxing. Even though managing my preschooler and the performance artist tendencies of a child experimenting with how something feels on their belly versus their face or hands could be a lot at times and I did call Poison Control twice (they are so nice!), all that time painting made some of my favorite memories of the year. Painting time often proved an excellent way to settle down and talk for a few minutes away from a screen doing something collaborative. The Wee Bairn and I painted a lot of different canvases together out on the deck or in our kitchen. We discovered the difference between forehead prints and elbow prints, the way blue and green look with different brushes, and that when you drum the paint brushes on the canvas both the sound and the colors are extra fun. The canvases are now in the hands of different relatives as well as adorning our walls. A rotating set adorn the Wee Bairn’s room and it has been a joy to see. Here are some highlights.

Now as you might expect from the above gallery, painting time does require a certain amount of set up and take down that can be very time consuming. We also began to run low on canvases eventually. How to continue the fun? Stickers! I prepped some canvases of different sizes and wooden shapes with paint, gave my Wee Bairn a bunch of different stickers, and watched what the Wee Bairn put together from there. This approach proved particularly helpful during a couple specific times when I needed to finish a project while working from home with my favorite Wee Bairn coworker. The black canvas became an out of this world space vignette. The mini-heart canvases were painted and adorned with stickers by the Wee Bairn with lettering help by yours truly to make ornaments. The giant pine tree became a magical Christmas wall decoration. The gentle pine forest became a North Pole Gingerbread village. And the piece-de-resistance were a set of Christmas tree tabletop decorations. The space scene was entirely the Wee Bairn’s creation. For the Christmas decorations, I handed the Wee Bairn specific stickers and it was up to the Bairn’s artistic sense to put them on the piece. The Christmas tabletop decorations were especially fun because we decorated them as a whole family. Looking across the table to see my better half and my Wee Bairn carefully placing pom poms together was enchanting. The below gallery shows some of our masterpieces.

Seeing all those pictures in one spot, it is easier to focus on the fun rather than the frustrating parts. There were often tears at having to clean up as well as frustration that the kiddo tasted the colors or chewed the stickers. Some art tools were a bigger hit than others and every paintbrush inevitably became a pirate sword at some point in the proceedings. Nevertheless, I found painting with and for the Wee Bairn relaxing good fun on the whole and I look forward to continuing this year. Taking a deep breath, consciously choosing to have fun, and enjoying the process with the company rather than the product proved to be a helpful exercise in mindfulness. I may not always have been 100% effective at that but I think my average was pretty good. We have made a start on this year’s painting adventures with some mini-canvases and spring butterfly decorations for the window. We painted the butterflies together using the canvas as a backdrop and it made a really neato effect. Here is a gallery complete with final action shots.

Have you been using creativity to make it through some tough times? Are you experimenting with different techniques or media? Are you painting and parenting, too?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Cloth Player’s Handbook

Cloth Player’s Handbook

Greetings, dear pond readers! As you may or may not know, I am a big fan of the tabletop role playing game (RPG) called Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). I have been playing with three main groups of people for several years with a couple smaller campaigns here and there. As any gamer will tell you, scheduling the logistics of gaming is incredibly difficult and it gets exponentially more difficult the more people you play with. Luckily, I am privileged to play with kind, thoughtful, motivated, and organized people. The longest running game group has been going for six years, the second longest for four, and the newest one has been rolling for three. We’ve managed to play with every group at a minimum of once a month for the most part and oftentimes weekly. This has been a tremendous source of joy, comfort, and community during the challenging times as well as the terrific times. I’d be lost without my friends.

Because of this frequent gaming through both in-person and virtual means, my wee bairn has grown up seeing the members of our various D&D groups on a regular basis. Indeed, the wee bairn has been lap surfing around the D&D table since day 14 and is probably one of a small but growing preschooler population who can count “owlbear” and “dice” among their first 100 words. The wee bairn loves rolling dice, listening to the stories, scribbling on character sheets & maps, and flipping through as many D&D books within reach as possible.

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The Wee Bairn’s first dungeon map now adorns the back of my D&D binder

The three most loved and most frequent visitors to Book Hospital from our library are The ABCs of RPGs, ABCs of D&D, 123s of D&D all by Ivan Van Norman and illustrations by Caleb Cleveland. Every line can be recited now and a complaint will be filed if any section is abridged by the parent reading the book. Being avid fans of Critical Role and their world of Tal’Dorei, my wee bairn developed sensory organs while I watched the show and consequently has loved the music & the voices of the players since entering the outside world. To this day, the wee bairn asks to watch “Critical Role Dice, please?” even though we have had to curtail watching/listening to the program as the wee bairn’s command of language and capacity for mimicry has increased.

Both my spouse and I eagerly await the day that we can play in the wee bairn’s first D&D campaign. To further this goal and protect the integrity of our essential D&D books, I decided months ago to make my wee bairn his very own cloth version of the iconic Dungeons and Dragons 5e Player’s Handbook.

Dear Wizards of the Coast, please don’t sue me for copyright infringement. I made this project purely as a gift for my child in a bid to raise a future Game Master. I have no intention of making and selling more of these cloth books for personal profit. Thank you.

Now, on to the epic gallery of pictures!

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How did I do it? I ordered the fabric from Spoonflower.com using scanned images from the PHB and personal photos including ones from my various D&D tables and my 2019 trip to China. The cloth PHB is small to best fit within a little person’s hands and it isn’t especially legible because of this. I bordered the pages with cotton from my stash. I used heavy duty fusible Pellon 72F Peltex II Stabilizer instead of batting to make the pages stiff and easy to turn as well as heavy duty all-purpose cotton thread.  All in all, the project was involved, fairly expensive, and time consuming. It was worth it.

My wee bairn really likes the PHB. It is not the absolute favorite that I secretly hoped that it would become but it did absorb the wee bairn’s attention span for a surprisingly long time after they were introduced; for a while the PHB was a crib staple. Now the PHB enjoys periodic bouts of exploring when it comes across the wee bairn’s path before being put aside in favor of other pursuits. What surprised me the most is the fact that the wee bairn doesn’t care so much for the authentic pages from the actual book, probably because the text is not legible. Rather the wee bairn is fascinated by the photos of our D&D groups, Mommy’s dice, and my photos from China. I’ve thought about updating the PHB with more pages with interactive things like a busy book or more legible text but we’ll see. Maybe this is just an opportunity to make a cloth version of the Monster Manual  or Dungeon Master’s Guide for my future Game master. I do still have a lot of  apropos fabric.

What creative, experimental projects are you working on, dear pond readers? Please, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

There are links throughout the above post to some of the items mentioned. If you buy these items using the links, I will get a tiny percentage through the Amazon Associates Program. Any money I earn will go toward supporting my creative endeavors and National MS Society fundraising. Thank you!