Friday, December 30, 2016

This was my big project for Christmas gifts this year. In fact, I made four sets of these! Three for grandparent gifts and one for myself to keep. I love the way these turned out. I even made my Mom cry when she opened hers! 

These pull on the old heart strings for sure. I'm not sure why they are so much more special than a photograph. They give off a cool vintage vibe for sure, but more than that I think the silhouette leaves room for your own mind to fill in the gaps. When you truly love a child you know their soft innocent features so well. 

You can imagine them this way forever, the way their nose turns up a little. You can almost hear their laugh and imagine the way their lips widen out into a smile, you can even see her sweet little dimple on this cheek, even though its not there in the actual print. It's like a perfect time capsule of the preciousness of childhood. 

PLEASE make these of your children. Your future (and present self) will thank you for this special gift.

I wanted to show you this surprisingly simple process:

Materials you will need: 

exacto knife 
extra blades
cutting mat 
black cardstock 
printed out portrait silhouette 
scrapbook paper 

1. Take a photo 

(I just used my iphone camera) directly from the side of your child's head. It helps to have them stand in front of a sunny window or a white wall, so that the shape of their profile is easy to see and contrasts nicely.

2. Print out the photo 

and tape it to a piece of black cardstock paper that is the same size. (Here you can see I was running out of printer ink, but that really doesn't matter. You only need to see the general shape of their profile.) Tape both pieces of paper together down onto a cutting mat for stability.

3. Trace around the profile

using a pencil or pen. This step is important because you will enhance the outline for a more interesting finished silhouette. I mostly followed the outline there but accentuated the little hairs sticking out and holes where little tufts of hair came up. You will want to draw in some eyelashes. They don't normally show up in the profile, but this added detail really makes the portrait in my opinion. 

Add some visual interest by drawing a few slits around a collar to show the shape of the clothing.

5. Use an exacto knife to cut it out.

Make sure your blade is nice and sharp and take your time! Don't forget to cut out the lashes! You will be cutting through two layers of paper, so make sure the pressure you are using is good enough, otherwise you will have to go back over the whole thing again.

6. Carefully pull away the silhouette from the rest of the paper. 

 Be gentle with this part as some areas may not have cut out all the way. You can use your knife to go back and cut again if this happens. When it is all out, there may still be some fuzzy parts, make sure and go back to trim these off carefully. Again, the sharper your blade the better!

In the final stage I actually trimmed off the boxey bottom of the shape and made a curved collar, just by eyeballing it. You can do that too or just leave as is. 

7. Frame the shape and sign the name at the bottom

In this step, you want to find a nice paper to put behind the silhouette. I found this paper that has a vintage almost lace quality but was not too distracting from the silhouette itself. There are literally hundreds of options at your local craft store to choose from! You could also stick with basic white as well. 

Here I used the insert that came with the frame to cut out an identical size from the paper. Then I simply used a nice glue stick to carefully glue down the silhouette onto the center of this paper.

Look at this beautiful shape. Love it so much.

For each child I used a good quality black pen to sign their name and age under the silhouette. 

Voila! Stick it in a frame and call it childhood magic.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Are you a "square peg in a round hole world"?

I heard this phrase recently in something I was reading and it really struck a chord with me. Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you strain and strive to fit in, you feel like you are always just missing the mark, trying to squeeze in until it hurts. Feeling defeated. 

Of course it depends on the people in your world. I am fortunate to have some wonderful people in my life, both family and friends. But aside from them, when it comes to systems and school and grown-up deadlines and bills to pay, and a house to maintain and keep organized. I feel like I am constantly missing the mark. At least the mark that others create for me. 

In college, I went on a trip to Costa Rica. It was a wonderful trip. We helped build a church in a town just outside of San Jose. Just like anything where you are working together as a team for a good amount of time in a foreign environment, you tend to get to know the other people pretty well and bonds form quickly. At the end of the trip everyone was given some sort of award for the week. Awards like "hardest worker", "best cement mixer", and some other more comical awards. I got the award:

"Tico Time Queen"

Tico Time is the lifestyle of the locals in Costa Rica. It is much different from "Gringo Time" or white people time. Its a very laid back attitude. No one really cares if you are 5, 10 minutes or even a couple of hours late to a meeting or a party.  If you show up at the time they told you to, you will most likely find the hostess still in curlers or the party not quite ready for you. 

If you know me (or knew me in my younger years especially) you understand why I won this award.

This is MY lifestyle! It just feels so right! I tend to show up almost every time about 5-10 minutes late. It doesn't matter if I wake up earlier, get ready earlier, or plan ahead. It's like a have this internal clock that ticks just a bit slower than the rest of the people on earth. I had finally found my people!

My mom and brother used to joke that telling me to hurry while we were out and about was like asking honey to come out of the jar fast, its just not in my nature. 

The problem is that this Tico Time Queen has grown up into a responsible adult with three children to take care of and get to school on time. Wouldn't you know I have a son who marches to this same internal rhythm? 

I see the stress in his eyes trying to get out the door on time. Trying so so hard to fit into the round hole. To remember every form to return, every assignment to complete. I see so much of myself in my oldest son Calvin. He spends so much of his time reading and creating. His mind is often navigating the bigger questions of life, pondering our existence, reading about space, coming up with inventions and manipulating another lego spacecraft. He is so smart and such a dreamer. He is a creative type, just like me. The blessing and the curse. The square peg in the round hole syndrome. 

Recently, I had a conversation with both of Calvin and Jack's teachers. One of them mentioned to me that Calvin has been consistently late (insert enormous mom-guilt mixed with fear of failure) she continued saying that if he just gets here about 5 minutes sooner, he will be fine. 

Then I headed across the hall and had a similar chat with Jack's teacher, who stopped me from apologizing for sending Jack to school late. She continued to say that it was all good and that some of us just run on a slightly different time-frame. She went on to say that she is also this way, and that it drives some people crazy. But "It's all good! We are all here and we are learning together and that is what matters most! "

I needed that. I needed that permission to be myself. To be seen as a GOOD parent even though we do tend to run on a different schedule. 

Don't misunderstand me if you are the round peg. Please know that I do value being on time. I do see the value of structure and order and all things that revolve around the ticking hands of our societal clock. 

But at the same time, I also need to feel valued for who I am. I need to have the space and freedom to be a creative type. To be VALUED for the contribution I am making in society. 

I wish that also for my son who will likely spend a lot of time thinking and creating and revolving around the rhythm of his own heart beat for his whole life. 

May we all revolve around the rhythm of life itself. Not the rush and drive and anxiety of trying to get there at any cost. 


"We're all here and we are learning together and that is what matters most!"