Wednesday, December 8, 2010

why adoption matters...(to me)

it's been sooooooo long since i posted a blog that it seems almost pointless to pick it back up. and given that i don't even know who or if anyone reads this blog, it seems funny to put something like this out there.

josh, caleb, and i just brought home our second son/brother: cole linden. there was no labor involved, we just had to wait a month and a half from the day he was born to actually hold him and count those fingers and toes. they're all there too! cole's place in our family is unique and extremely special because he is adopted. caleb is no less special - in fact i am seeing something come out in him lately that is so utterly wonderful and not OF me, his own sweet, playful, curious, and humorous spirit...but cole, well, he is the fulfillment of a dream for me. since i was very young i decided i wanted to adopt.  i don't exactly know when, but i do know i was wayyy too young to be a mom, but somehow i knew i wanted to adopt. i used to say i wanted one from every major nationality - asian, latino, african, european... i used to say i wanted my own model UN. so it came as a surprise to me when we were floored - i mean really put in our place - by the domestic program at gladney. when we first went up there and heard the panel of very young birth moms talk about their adoption plans, i was convicted. they were so brave. so courageous to do this life altering thing and then try to go back to their normal (mostly) teenage lives. we were hooked.

and almost 2 years later (or really, 20 some odd year later), cole has come into our lives...right where he was meant to be. again...floored. cole was born for me...for US. and i am so sure of that as i watch him balled up on his daddy's broad chest, more peaceful than i can ever remember being. i am sure because when i took him in my arms for the first time, he nestled right in and quieted.  he looked at us with his little old man eyes turned up and sighed. finally...he seemed to's you guys.

there are many who have not totally understood our decision to adopt. quite a few people have said (with that side long look you get when someone else thinks they already have the know, we've all done it), "you want to adopt even though you can have your OWN children?" and sometimes i have gotten this response like, "wow, you're so noble." i tell you, it's not about that. not at all. i am not noble. it's just about this thing beating inside of me, a pulse i have always had to feel enormous love for children. and that too is not really because of something in's because of something in THEM. the children i mean. they are so lovable. and they DESERVE to be loved. and that's why adoption matters to me. because this little guy, our little guy deserves to be loved and we can give it to him. at least we can give our very best version of human love to him, i am sure of that.

i must add how very awed i feel by our birth mom too. because really, her love for cole surpasses all. she had enough to say i know what you need and i know it's out there and i'm gonna do my best to find it for you. i think she gave colie olie enough love from the moment of his birth to get him safely and wholly to us 6 weeks later. {thank you}

as we get to know cole a little bit better each day, i am growing another heart. one for each of my boys!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

coolidge says BOO

someone asked me recently if i was coolidge. i love the idea of me (a stay at home mom and artist) sneaking out late at night with my paint cans and a baby strapped onto my back. what a picture! although graffiti is certainly controversial, i stand by my love of coolidge's stencils. the printmaker in me loves the multi layered silkscreen look.  plus i appreciate the occasional revolving images and like having something besides drab concrete to look at. great cities of old had seamless relationships between art and life...something i wish houston had more of! another conversation for another time, but in the meantime, a HAPPY HALLOWEEN from me, a newly painted TURQUOISE (or maybe more tealish) fitzgerald's, and coolidge! lovely.

{maybe he'll paint me an elephant along the fence in my back yard}

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

i think he likes it!

recently i did a painting for my sister - a commission at that! it was fun to paint for someone so close to me and really try to channel her colors, her likes, her personality into the painting. if you haven't visited her blog, you ought to. her sense of design is flawless - almost perfect - very french and classic. mine, on the other hand, is colorful, eclectic, and definitely imperfect!

as i did the last little bits of the painting, caleb climbed up on it and explored some of the details. 

{a few closeups of details. linsey liked the little inset landscape as much or more than the big piece!}

Monday, September 27, 2010


wel-o-come! wel-o-come! we are happy to see you today!

this sweet chant greeted me when i visited orphans in the villages of malawi and today i sing it to welcome helen autrey campbell! my old friend maggie - she's not old, just our friendship is - though two weeks overdue finally got to meet her little girl. and i had the privilege of making her a piece of art.

{commissioned artwork for maggie campbell}

helen autrey

Sunday, September 26, 2010


is the name of a U2 song and the name of said lead singer's non-profit to eradicate global AIDS and poverty.
ONE singular sensation, every little step he takes.... you are singing by now i bet!
ONE two three four, tell me that you love me more.... another song i love by feist.
and finally, ONE is caleb's age.
sigh. every mama must say this: the time has flown. i blinked and now my little bug is trying to walk, saying mama, meowing, and weaned. he's even getting a sense of humor.
he is such a happy boy, so curious, so independent, so...just SO!

i love birthdays and i think everyone should be made to feel special on their very own day. ironically, i am also terrible at remembering birthdays outside of my very near circle. but when i do i love celebrating people. so i decided to create a few traditions....

a birthday banner. handmade with paper flags and hand-drawn letters from contrasting paper. as more kids come along, i'll make new names and use it til it shreds.

a birthday collage. since i can't seem to keep up with the baby book, a yearly collage with memorable moments written on the back. at 18, he'll get a keepsake box with little pieces of art.

one of my closest friends brought over a balloon. he was fascinated! 
but alas, so was the kitty, malcolm, and it mysteriously popped within 12 minutes.

my little guy.
i'm melting!
and the best part...soon one will become TWO!

Monday, September 6, 2010

coolidge, who ARE you?

i think i'm in love.
at least i'm in a mad dash to traipse around my little part of the city to find all of these lovely stenciled graffiti "paintings." it feels like love. or at least a crush. i smile involuntarily and my heart quickens when i see one of these marvelous images. twice in as many days i have slapped the dashboard and said...well screamed..."josh! stop! STOP!" and hopped out of the car to take a picture. in the pouring rain even.

yes, coolidge, that's how much i love you. or at least your street art. don't worry. i'm married. i won't stalk you. but i will keep pulling over like a crazy person and taking pictures of these mysterious animals!

this sea turtle swam toward me lazily right after i got home from puerto rico and had actually SEEN a sea turtle while snorkeling. well, the flipper of one anyway. the point is, he came for me.

someone (most likely a prius driving employee from the city of houston) hastily painted over the turtle (but failed to pick up the trash...hmmm). but alas, a month or so later, COOLIDGE strikes again. this time with another elephant. didn't go out of my way to find this one.  it found me. i'm telling you, it's a sign. i am supposed to get a baby elephant.

any guesses where these two popped up?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

los elefantes

tembo = elephant in swahili. elfante = elephant in spanish. perhaps the more obvious translation...
i totally TOTALLY love elephants. as in i can stare misty eyed at them at the zoo for hours. until caleb falls asleep and josh urges me on to the black panther. as in they're the only reason i can think of at this stage in life to go to the circus and sit through sticky fingered cotton candy high kids and yapping circus dogs in tutus. as in i shiver just thinking about getting to touch one. and finally, as in my greatest ambition as a child was to be an elephant when i grew up. yep. right up til i was about 8 years old and figured out it might not be biologically possible. so today we took caleb to the houston zoo to visit baylor, the 300 pound 4 month old baby elephant that i would give anything to have in my back yard and walk around the neighborhood on a leash.

did you know elephants nurse for 2-4 years and live for 50-54?

baylor roughhousing with his big brother.

there is a graffiti artist in town i want to meet. more on him?her? later...but was little baylor following me home? found him right by the target by my house.

tell me these great land beasts don't warm your heart!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

blog feature!

recently my sister's friend - also named holly (mathis) - who is an interior decorator came across my alphabet prints and collages. i felt flattered that she loved them and wanted to use them in a blog post for the nester. she writes about creating a fresh look for a nursery. check out the nester site as well as holly's - she got a very keen and creative eye!

and here are a few alphabet prints to get you going! i so love making these. i have about a dozen new ones i'm working on as well as a list of several more groupings i'd like to do. what alphabet prints would you like to see?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

la isla del encanto

we just got back from visiting puerto rico with our dear friends. it is most definitely a testament to good friendship when you can spend 9 days together with a 9 month old to boot cramped in at least 1 crappy car and come out on the other side pretty much unscathed...minus a few backseat driving episodes between spousal units. katy and i discovered that most melt downs can be cured by funneling organic O's into mouths. but truly, when we arrived back in houston, texas i was inclined to say, "hey, why don't we go grab some dinner!"
we snorkeled and hiked, stayed on the mainland and a small island, ate pl├ítanos in every possible form - including fried and stuffed with meat (!), and we swam with phosphoresence so that we looked like glow sticks gliding through dark water.  but as usual, my photos indicate none of the places or touristy things we did, only the colors and textures that caught my eye. there is no "and here we are at fort san felipe del morro." i wasn't kidding when i said i take pictures of sidewalks.
i just loved that these were sloppily numbered (and backwards at that!)

old san juan is full of fabulous colors juxtaposed against bricked streets. nothing is particularly new or fancy but it's a feast for the eyes for one chica who LOVES color.

these looked like huge bullet holes through a steel door, but what a great texture that i could see using as a background for a collage.

and if i loved a boy named miguel, i would totally spray paint his name on this beautifully textured wall. it makes it feel like a an old love, a true love.

the last night we stayed at a place called the gallery inn. i don't even know how to give words to this quirky-medusa's garden-eccentric-eyes everywhere-fantastic place. we were greeted by these 4 heads peering down at us over the entry gate. i took at least 100 pictures in this place. here's one more - kind of empty baby carriage in a darkened corner.

so while i might not have thought to pick puerto rico as a vacation destination, we had a wonderful time, great food, great friends, and the best travel baby in the universe. our husbands did a great job planning this trip, and we are already looking forward to whale watching...maybe baja? we did learn a few valuable lessons: 1) stay in as few places as possible when traveling with baby and all his accoutrements. 2) don't rent a jeep cherokee sport with baby - even though i used to drive one. 3) web photos can be deceiving. 4) get a hammock in the shade with a view on our next beach vacation.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

oh yum!

i just finished a custom order of cupcakes for someone, and i love making them. this rainy week has brought my garden a lot of juice that will lead to good color, but i needed a little punch inside too. and the cupcakes gave me just what i needed! they make me so happy, sewing them. and even happier thinking about someone smiling as they open it and hold the little felty. or at least i hope they smile...
would you?

more custom cupcakes like this little plate full on my etsy shop!

Friday, June 25, 2010

mini flea!

well all fleas are mini, but this one is something you've surely never seen! remember to come by my sister's house for her mini design flea where she and some of her design blog friends will sell their very chic homegoods.  perhaps an even greater incentive to come is to support the forge. it's a foundation in 3rd ward that supports kids who need great role models, fun activities, and good love. my sister decided to give 50% of her earnings to help the founders with their own mini home makeover. they give so much of themselves and their home to others that linsey felt inspired to give something to them. there will also be an opportunity to put your pennies in a jar to send a kid in need to camp this summer. so come on out, rain or shine!

Monday, June 21, 2010


i've been thinking about this for some time. this idea of intersecting lives and crossing boundaries. we all live in our own little part of the world to which we become accustomed (be it under a freeway, in a 2 room shotgun, or a 20 room mansion). and unless you stay inside all day, doing a whole lot of nothing and talking to no one, your life intersects with peoples' about whom you know nothing about...even if it's only through media like books, news, or internet.
i drove to 3rd ward the other day in my yuppy car to a meeting at project row houses - an organization you should know about if you don't already. i had caleb with me, who is the best meeting baby EVER, and i observed the people who were doing the work in my neighborhood as i drove out. although my neighborhood is somewhat diverse as neighborhoods go, it is largely middle class and white. most of the laborers, however, are working to lower class, black or hispanic. most of them probably live in places like 3rd ward. i thought about how everyday for 4 years i drove to south houston to teach kids whose parents were mostly painters, housekeepers, contractors, etc. in other words, they came to places like my neighborhood to work while i went to theirs. and no matter how uncomfortable i am with some of the implications of that, i know enough to recognize that we are teaching the kids in the hopes that they can one day move OUT of their neighborhood. or at least out of the cycle of poverty and lack of higher education.
driving that day it suddenly struck me as so...ironic (channel alanis) that we work in each others neighborhoods, but that we don't live in the neighborhoods in which we work. some of us because we can't afford to and some of us because we don't want to. it also struck me that people who work as housekeepers or child care takers probably know so much more about their employers' lives than the other way around. as in they fold their underwear. scrape their dirt. come to their intimate abodes and feed their children. i want to acknowledge that there are so many conversations about race, class, education...that could come from my observations.  i have my own thoughts about each topic and more, and i am in no way intending to judge this observed "exchange," but it has most certainly wormed its way into my consciousness over the years. maybe the main point is to notice. notice others and how our lives intersect with so many who aren't like us and have different experiences just as relevant as ours. maybe if we notice more we will open the walls of our hearts more and begin to live with "loving kindness and compassion," in the words of my greatest spiritual teacher. in order to do that though, we must also begin to tackle the great inequities in our society and world - a topic so uncomfortable for those who have gotten so comfortable.  so first just notice...then maybe the rest will unfold.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

who needs fleas?!?!?

what do this:

and this:

have in common?

click here for details!

take #2

based on some great feedback and my own determination to give this piece a little more depth, i went back to cloud machine (which i really think i'll call made with love) and made some improvements. check out the original on my june 10th post and tell me which you like better!  there is all willy nilly a line from perhaps my favorite ee cummings poem straggling down the collage. can you make it out? a little sorpresa for you if you can! just leave it in the comment box and i will draw a name.

btw - all of my digital collages are available for purchase on my etsy shop

Thursday, June 10, 2010

cloud machine

the latest digital collage

there are so many things you can't do digitally that you can do by hand, and vice versa. i don't think you'll see it on this lower res image, but there is some nice subtle stuff going on the background with layers and scratching up the surface with a thin pencil shape. i think it needs more, but i don't know what....
any suggestions?

Monday, June 7, 2010

the sweetest thing

i love birth they about adoption or biological births. i didn’t always love them, but ever since we started the adoption process, then got pregnant and especially since i had caleb, any story remotely related to giving birth makes me cry. big drippy continuous tears. i would probably even cry about a horse giving birth. definitely an elephant.
today i read the birth story of a 6th child on design mom’s blog - yet another site my sister turned me on to. my fabulous sister. from the first line tears came, and it reminded me of caleb’s birth. since that day i knew he had a mind of his own...suffice to say 9 hours at 9 1/2 centimeters, 3 1/2 hours of pushing, oh and throw some back labor in on top of that. he teased us for quite a while. but my favorite FAVORITE moment was of course holding his squirmy little body in my arms. i cried and croaked, “it’s you! you’re finally here!” caleb cried. even josh cried. at that moment, i grew my second heart. fast forward, and yes, i am already saying it - time goes by so quickly. 3 more blinks and he’ll be 18. i just want to drink it all in. every moment, every noise, every new expression. 
i can’t believe that 8 1/2 months ago i was struggling to get him to nurse (jaundiced and really lethargic), and now he is grabbing the spoon from my hands and sticking it backwards into his mouth. as i am sitting here (yes, crying) saying to caleb, “i love you. i just love you!” i can’t believe he’s performed his first crawl, pull up, and clap all in one small weekend. he’s getting tooth #3 & 4 and he bops his head like the talking heads on that one music video i can’t remember just now. he ooches forward in his peggy leg style then sit backs and does a little bouncy bottom dance and claps.  
he’s my treasure. my very special one. my extra limb. my second heart. and by far the greatest creation to ever come from these two hands. though he’s not really mine...he’s already his own little person who flings his arms around my ever-loving neck with such almost 9 month old intensity. i can’t wait to get more. 

THIS is the sweetest thing and exactly where i want to be. 

p.s. - to see other hand made goodies like caleb's VERY practical oilcloth bib, visit my etsy shop! i am uploading new items regularly.

Friday, May 28, 2010

ooh la la!

another tembo open studio is coming your way! if you stumble into the woodlands, texas next wednesday, come by and support a handful of creative moms selling their wares, including me!
here is the evite link with directions and a list of vendors. AND here is the e-flyer done up by the lovely jennifer of silly nilly designs.

i met jennifer at my sister's open studio last week. she and her mom have silly nilly designs, a children's clothing line. when we got to talking it was just inevitable that we connect because she and i both take pictures of sidewalks. yes, SIDEWALKS! who does that?? we both agreed that when we take photos on vacation, they are more likely to be of textures and colors we like rather than site seeing photos. so yes, we could browse my photo library, and i would be able to tell you which grates are italian, and which are french. so glad we met because she is helping me fulfill the goal of connecting with other creative moms! please come if you can - there are sure to be a lot of lovely must haves!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

cheery cheer!

my sister (seems i start a whole bunch of sentences that way...who would i be without her??) had an open studio last week in her home and generously asked my mom and me to bring our creations over as well. it was fun to see all of our very different but equally creative work there together, and it was all in all a successful day. so funny because when we were growing up my sister always referred to me as "the creative one" and now she makes a living off of just that - being creative! though my creativity always remains a part of me, my "living" was made teaching and counseling. now i'd like to dive back into creating and seeing if anything lucrative comes of that. so in the next few posts, i will introduce ways i am trying to re-wet my feet in that department. if you read and have suggestions, please send them along!
a plate full of delectable cupcakes. what's your pleasure? chocolate or vanilla?

alphabet prints in a handmade felt pouch, which i am selling on my new etsy site!

beautiful, classic stationery made by the lovely linsey. and she says she's not the artist?!?!

and hand woven and sewn e-reader covers by lulu. the one with an image of to kill a mockingbird was my favorite. but that's two or three other posts - why i love that book so much.

i come from a family of inspiring women! how lucky am i....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

paper dolls

when we were little, my sister, cousin, and i learned to make paper dolls from my granny. my granny, janie lewis, was perhaps the most grace-full, lovely person i know. she was the first female chemistry major at UT. she loved to read. she collected clocks, all of which you could hear ticking when things went hush. she was an artist. in fact, i inherited her much used paintbrushes when she died my senior year in college.

there is 70 year old paint on those brushes! some of them have little hairs that fall out when i paint, but i keep them because they were hers. granny had a way of making anyone in her presence feel like the most important person in the world, even if we were all there at once. and yet it never felt like a competition to be her favorite. we all walked away feeling like the most loved. she'd say, "linsey! come here! you have the most beautiful legs!" (she still does). and "holly! that smile!" what i wouldn't give for my children to be able to be in her presence. i only hope i inherited a modicum of her temperament. 
so when i made paper dolls to scan for an invite for my friend's baby shower, i naturally thought of granny. she lives on in our lives in small ways, and managed to leave a huge impact. even though it's been 12 plus years since she died, i think of her nearly every day. granny, if you watch us, just, well...thank you. 

linsey turned these into little note cards which you can purchase by contacting her through her website.

Monday, May 17, 2010

open studio!

my sister, linsey, is having an open studio spring sale at her home. she will feature her own work, and my mom and i will also bring some of our handmades over. my mom makes some fabulous necklaces, and i am working on digital collages, flashcards for kids, a few felties, and some useful bibs. please view the invite and come on over!
below are some of my favorite flashcards. and stroll through my blog to see some of the digital collages i will have! hope you can come....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


funny. i don't really have much to say...some of you might be thinking, "for once! thank GOD!" my creative brain seems sluggish, but i keep having small visions of things i want to create. maybe it's not my brain that is sluggish, but my hands. and babies tend to occupy the hands quite a bit...
until my next wave of creative genius (insert laugh), here is a busy photoshop collage. probably quite indicative of all the things dizzying around inside my crazy head, though my outward self feels hushed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


one more thing to add to my list of i'll nevers: i am actually enjoying making digital art, and i never thought i'd say that. while it lacks some of the depth and subtlety of a hand-done piece that is irreplaceable, it does have the ability to use text in a seamless way AND lovely graphic images that i can transform into a "photocopy"or "stamp." i also like the fact that i can age an image or turn it into something more pop-arty. i've taught myself a few techniques on photoshop by playing around, following other peoples' directions, and making lots of mistakes. there are so many tutorials online, but i found Elise Hennen's advice particularly helpful this time aorund. i still don't entirely understand masking, but as i stumble along, i may accidentally begin to understand...when all else fails, i can just call my sister, the photoshop princess of the universe.  seriously, she wears a tiara in her studio.
so i started with these three separate images:




i can't get away from the fact that the pointing girl looks like the actress who plays Bella in Twilight. the bottom line is it feels so good to be playing with imagery, color, and collage regularly. i forget how happy and whole i feel when i indulge my creative self - digital or otherwise. plus i love learning, and given my state of mommy-mush-brain these days, it feels particularly good to do something new.