Sunday, 26 February 2012

Painting a Day 91

Late posting today!  I was out at a baby shower and then when we got home tending to a sick child who perhaps had too much fudge at said shower.  The tummy seems to have subsided now so I can get this posted and then get to bed.  We'll be out of town the next couple of days, so while I am bringing my paint box easel, and will be painting while away, I may not have access to posting the images until we get home.  We'll see how it goes.  Praying for Stacey to have a safe and soon labour and delivery!

Stormy Savannah, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Painting a Day 90

Today I see wings.  Reflecting on the life skills and assets that I gained form the community that put on the Christian Family Peace Weekends.  Roots and Wings.  Solid grounding and security in a community where I knew I was loved and accepted, and the encouragement to go "on and beyond" in my life and my endeavours.  I hope there is something that gives my children the same opportunities and graces I had there. I know I can't do it all as one person.  I think this is what they were talking about when they say "it takes a village to raise a child".

Wings, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Friday, 24 February 2012

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Painting a Day 88

Today is a better day.  Yesterday was like the day after a retreat where you've come down off an emotional high and now, you're just in the trenches, slogging it out.  It may seem strange to say that about a funeral, but the funeral this week was such a reunion of people who had shared those very same mountaintop type of experiences with me in my life, that it brought that very much to the forefront.  Today's painting is taken from a photo by photographer Bill Wittman.  I'm afraid I didn't capture him very well, but take it for what it is.

Fr. Tom McKillop, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Painting a Day 87

Ash Wednesday today.  A day for soul-searching as to the needs of our souls and the true virtues that wee need to cultivate, and vices that we need to release from our lives.  Heavy stuff.  Feeling a little heavy today.  Still not sure what we're all giving up in our household.

Christ-Centered, acrylic on canvas board, 12" x 12"

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Painting a Day 86

Today we went to the funeral for Fr. Tom McKillop, so we were out early with all the kids for the drive down to Toronto.  It was wonderful to connect with all the people there to pray for him, and reconnect with old friends we haven't seen for years.  It was so good to pick up and converse as if no time had gone by at all.

Hope Rising, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Monday, 20 February 2012

Painting a Day 85

Today we're going to the celebration of Fr. Tom's life.  I'm actually looking forward to it because it's going to be a huge reunion of all the people that he brought together in some form during his life, and that's a rather large crowd of really creative, inspiring, motivated people!

Motherhood. acrylic on canvas board, 12" x 12"

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Painting a Day 84

Today should be a much quieter day after having seventeen kids in the house yesterday for Raphael's party.  It's amazing how few families that takes, there were only three families here including ours!  Lots of fun and lots of entertainment courtesy of the 2-3 year old age range!  Both of those ones in particular and I'm coming across a pattern in larger families.  There seems to be something about Number 5's, they are a hard-headed lot!

Malachite, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Painting a Day 83

Today our sixth child turns 2!  And of course my alarm was not set correctly so I'm up later than I wanted to be, painting quickly and posting quickly before I get into cleaning, and cake icing, and prepping all the party stuff.

Sunset, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Friday, 17 February 2012

Painting a Day 82

Do any of you have a three year old boy?  Yesterday my three year old son was having a very three-year-old-boy kind of day.  I had a flash in the midst of it that I seem to remember going through this before, but may have possibly blocked it out for reasons of mental self-preservation.  How long can a three year old scream about something in the face of absolute refusal to give in to him.  I have yet to find the upper limit I fear but an hour seems to be about average.

On a lighter note, St Anthony finally came through on the camera!  It was found last night in a guitar case that we hadn't opened since the week before Christmas.  I knew it would be found eventually!!  Thanks God.  It's really quite distressing at times to be cameraless with a 9 or 10 month old baby going through all the cute stages!

Curves, acrylic on canvas board, 12" x 12"

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Painting a Day 81

Today is tinged with sadness for the death of a long time family friend, Fr Tom McKillop.  His work was influential in the lives of many, starting Youth Corps in Toronto, and helping to found the Christian Family Peace Weekends.  The communities and teams he started were responsible for many meetings of minds and couples!  Geof and I met through his work as did three other close sets of family friends.  I can't imagine how many children are here today because of relationships formed in his communities.  He was full of love for youth, and was ever-encouraging people to "go for it" when they had an idea.  A gentle soft-spoken man.  He will be missed by many.

Winter Farmhouse, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Painting a Day 80

Seeing as winter has returned I thought I would paint a tree that I see very often on my way out anywhere.  Now because I don't have a photo to work from and this tree is along a very busy, currently slushy, road, and I won't be getting a photo anytime soon, it's not try accurate.  But I think it conveys the idea.  In the spring I will go out and take a picture of it, because it is a very cool looking, gnarly, broken-branched tree.  Here is a general idea of it from my memory which I am sure is highly inaccurate!  Also the rendering of this image online is not the greatest because with this size of canvas board I can't fit it on the scanner, so I have to photograph it to get an image to use.

Winter Tree, acrylic on canvas board, 12" x 12"

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Painting a Day 79

Sometimes it feels like cheating to put up a painting so simple.  But I really love looking at these colours, and the simplicity of sea and sky lets my mind relax as I gaze at it.  Sometimes these are the ones I want to look at the longest.

Calm Blue, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Monday, 13 February 2012

Painting a Day 78

I'm not sure if I'll ever reconcile with the fact that there are just some things I can't paint satisfactorily in the short amount of time I have in any one given day.  I would like to paint many things and I think maybe this year is in some ways, just a storehouse of ideas that I would like to paint in more detail with better execution when I am not committed to completing one a day.

Flames, acrylic on canvas board, 12" x 12"

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Painting a Day 77

So today was the first time I had to coordinate a day of painting with a day of Highland Dance competition.  I'm afraid that the competition wins for priority in the early morning.  We were up at 5 am in order to get everything together and out the door with the dancer and the baby in tow along with all the accoutrements of competition - costume, hair stuff, dance mats, snacks, etc etc etc.  It's normally not a bad drive down, but today we hit weather on the road, and then we hit the row of snow ploughs clearing the road ahead of us so it was slow going for a while.  All in all the competition went well for Aileen, she got medal placements in three out of her four dances!  And I eventually got to painting somewhere around 3:00 this afternoon.  Truth be told I really wanted to take a nap, especially considering that last night we were out for a surprise 50th birthday party for our good friend Dave.  Definitely it's been a good weekend!

Crimson, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Painting a Day 76

I love the shapes that come from reflective surfaces.  The undulating, wavy, sinewy shapes that move and flow around any obstacles.

Blues Guitar, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Friday, 10 February 2012

Painting a Day 75

Not much to say right now, gotta get supper going.

Red Guitar, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Painting a Day 74

Today I was in the mood for using my palette knife as opposed to brushes and upon looking at the painting after it was done, unexpectedly from a different angle I realized that you can look at it upside down as well and it creates a totally different scene!

Wheat Field with Stormy Sky or Sunset Over Waves, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Painting a Day 73

Here we are visiting the concept of reflections on water again.  I'll have to find a photo that I can copy exactly to get a more realistic interpretation of the concept.

Reflections, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Painting a Day 72

So I painted this morning before heading out to visit an old friend we haven't seen in years.  It was great to catch up and share our lives again!  Anyway, it's a bit late in the day but here's today's painting, not quite the way I'd envisioned it, but development nevertheless.

Iris, acrylic on canvas board, 9" x 12"

Monday, 6 February 2012

Painting a Day 71

So we watched the Superbowl yesterday.  I still don't get it.  I think my long-suffering husband has explained it to me several times now, but it just doesn't stick.  Not that Geof really cares that much about it either, thankfully, but while I consider myself a very intelligent person, and can understand most things that are explained to me quite easily, I think I'm missing the gene for football comprehension.  Onto today, I'm playing with amorphous shapes, but I think next time I will change my process.

Squilly, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Breastfeeding Rant Addendum

On a side note to the breastfeeding rant, I have to express my frustration here.  Now that I have mentioned the commercial product that people substitute for breast milk to feed their babies, the advertising gadget that runs at the side of my blog page is running ads for that very product!  The very thing that sabotages breastfeeding most, is now displaying on my blog!  AAAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I wish there was a way to control which products were selected to be shown.  If anyone knows if this is possible please let me know so that I can change it.

Painting a Day 70

Day 70 today; a completion of 10 weeks of painting!  Today was my first real attempt at doing a mountain reflection in water.  I think it would have gone better if I was working from a real subject instead of just out of my head, but overall an acceptable outcome.  Today is also Superbowl Sunday.  I don't know if there anyone who feels more apathetic than I do about this, but we are going to go over to see some friends, eat some completely unhealthy food and "watch" the game.  I think the whole experience is mostly about the food and the cabin fever that comes at this time of year with the grey weather and the cravings for fat and carbs that apparently accompany that.

First Reflection, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Painting a Day 69

Today we welcome tooth number 2 for Number 7!  Too funny considering that she isn't really interested in chewing on things.  I am enjoying a day of not needing to go anywhere or do anything in particular other than puttering around the house, so I gave myself permission to sleep in, and Geof went out to work the business.  The kids are having some sleepovers this weekend and some laundry awaits.

Lashes, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Friday, 3 February 2012

Painting a Day 68

And today I am up and at 'em earlier on schedule.  Finally getting back on track.  I recently listed to a book on cd called the Compound Effect.  One of the things it talks about is the building of momentum through consistency.  Although I haven't missed a day yet in this painting journey, I would like to get better at this early rising thing.  I have to say that I hate the "snooze" button on the alarm clock.  I have always been against them philosophically, because I would rather get my sleep in uninterrupted chunks so I would just set my alarm for the latest possible time that I could get up and them get out of bed in a flurry of trying not to be late.  Then I learned that I was right  Sleep studies show that your quality of sleep actually suffers when you repeatedly interrupt ti with a snooze button.  However I am not alone in my use of alarm clocks in the house, and so I have become used to the habits of others as well.  And I appear to be picking them up.  I now admit to being a "slave to the snooze" setting the alarm at the time I would like to get up, but not really when I need to be up and consequently giving myself permission to drift back to sleep for just a few more minutes, again, and again, ... and again.  Self-mastery is such an illusion in my life.  :)

Bubbles, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Thursday, 2 February 2012

My Breastfeeding Rant

 For a long time now I've wanted to write something about breastfeeding, as it's something very close to my heart (no pun intended).  Currently I am successfully nursing my seventh child.  I say "successfully" because with almost every one I have been in a position that many women find themselves in where the nursing did not start off easily and it involved work to get things going smoothly.

Let me start out by saying that breastfeeding is a natural process.  Yes it is natural.  Does that mean that it is instinctive?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  IT IS A LEARNED SKILL!!  For millennia women have been successfully breastfeeding not because they instinctively knew how to do it, but because they grew up in societies and cultures where women taught each other the skills of mothering much more readily.  Most people grew up in larger families where they saw younger siblings or nephews and nieces being raised, and the generations were much more likely to live close by.  Women had not yet been conned into thinking that the best way to feed their baby came from a manufacturer.  And now that is the overriding cultural assumption that we are struggling against.

With our first child I knew nothing and I didn't know how much I didn't know.  I didn't know what questions to ask, I just knew I wanted to do this because it was, hands down, the best thing for my child.  I  started out with a bad latch leading to a lot of pain, and began pumping milk and finger feeding the baby while I healed because I didn't want to get into the problem of nipple confusion with a bottle.  We finally got him successfully to the breast at around 6 weeks of age.  My second child had a better latch but we developed thrush and needed a course of gentian violet to clear that up.  That was painful as well! (The thrush, not the gentian violet.)  Our third was premature and would fall asleep at the breast as preemies are prone to do, so once again I pumped and finger fed for about the first week.  Number 4 simply refused the breast, for some unknown reason so another round of pumping ensued while I continued to offer the breast and after 3 weeks she finally latched on on one side and got better from there.  Our fifth latched fairly well, but we needed to improve the latch so that milk production was well stimulated.  Our sixth was our earliest one, coming 5 weeks before his due date, and so he spent some time in the NICU as a matter of protocol even though he was fine.  Unfortunately this led to him being given some bottles and formula at the beginning, but we got him on the breast after a few days at home.  Number seven was also a non-latcher due to being tongue tied.  This happens when the skin that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is too tight and prevents the baby from getting a good latch at the breast, and also has implications later in life for oral hygiene and speech development as well as breastfeeding.  This was rectified by a very quick procedure to snip the skin.  Apparently this is effective in some cases and not in others but for us it did the trick and from there on she learned to latch and is still going strong.

I tell you all this not to pat myself on the back for keeping going in the face of difficulty.  But hopefully you'll see that I have some credibility when I say that you can overcome many difficulties on the road to breastfeeding.  I want to let you know that you can do the same if you have the determination, good support and no medical impediments. Let me clarify that by "medical impediments" I don't mean some medical professional telling you that "you must not be producing enough milk".  Unfortunately there are many medical professionals out there who give out a lot of codswallop when it comes to breastfeeding, especially in hospital settings where nurses are trained to measure everything in immediately quantifiable results.

I won't go into the nonsense I have heard, but for millennia women have been nursing babies as their sole means of feeding them and not running out of milk.  I don't think we suddenly have a problem of producing too little milk.  We have a problem of sabotaging the breastfeeding process and not knowing how to pass on the learned skill of breastfeeding in a society where we are so disconnected from each other and children are increasingly seen as commodities to be acquired on a schedule rather than gifts to be welcomed as they come.

My main issue is the way we don't give good support to mothers while giving lip-service to the idea of breastfeeding.  Whenever we want somebody to succeed at something we encourage them, we cheer them on, we give them resources.  We don't tell them it's okay to give up.  We wouldn't say to a woman in university, "It's okay if you don't want to continue with your degree because it's too hard.  You can always quit and get a job at Walmart.  You really shouldn't stress about it.". We don't tell her this because we believe in the long term future benefits of the present struggle, that there is inherent value in her overcoming the obstacle and succeeding at the endeavor.  Breastfeeding falls into this same category of "things that are worth the effort".

Breast milk is the only thing you can feed your child that contains living antibodies and living white blood cells to build the immune system.  Not to mention the real need to take note of the lot numbers on formula in case of recalls for bad batches!  When I was at the lactation clinic with Number Seven I saw a list on the wall of the consulting room that compared the ingredients of formula with the ingredients in breast milk.  The list of formula ingredients was just over half a page long.  The list of ingredients in breast milk was almost a full six pages long, and they are still discovering more as they study and research it. How you can honestly say to a new mother that bottle feeding is just fine if she is feeling somewhat stressed is beyond me.  I think mostly people just don't know anything better to say so let me give you some suggestions of supportive, practical things to say and offer:

"I know it's hard right now, but you're doing a great job."

"What can I do to help?  Can I bring you a meal?"

"Do you need a drive to the Breastfeeding clinic?  I can take you there or watch your other kids if you need me to."

"Can I pay for a good lactation consultant to come to your home?"

"I see your stress but I want you to know I'm here to let you vent if you need to while you go through the tough part."

"What you're doing is so worth while.  No one else can do this for your baby."

"You CAN do this.  You're a strong woman who got through labour (or a Cesarean section).  You can handle this too."

"You're doing the right thing to persevere.  It's worth it in the end!"

Because in the end it really is worth it.  There is nothing better for the child than breastfeeding.  There is nothing better for THE MOTHER than breastfeeding.  We seem to have come to this idea that to say so might make someone feel guilty for taking the easy way out.  And in our society we never want to make people feel guilty about anything, even when they are.  Frankly our children are worth our best effort.  We don't hesitate to criticize some things, like smoking in the baby's room or not using a safe carseat.  But for some reason the health benefits of breastfeeding don't strike the same chord with us.  We all too easily say that the easy way out is fine.  This is partially due to the strength of the media advertising that we are bombarded with.  There's no real money to be made from breastfeeding - but formula - that pays big when you can convince mothers that they need to shell out to the tune of $2000 in the first year!  And the almost universally recognized symbol of babyhood is a baby bottle!

It's especially important for fathers to be supportive.  Sometimes this means feeling helpless.  Sometimes this means booking the appointment with the lactation consultant when the new mom is feeling too overwhelmed to wrap her head around logistics.  Sometimes it means keeping visitors at bay for a bit while mom and baby get into a good rhythm.  Sometimes it just means telling her that you believe in her and that you are committed to doing whatever you can to help her get this working.  Likely it will mean some of all of the above.

In the end we all want to do what's best for our children.  Breast IS best.  I only wish we had the courage and resources as a society to stand up for that in deeds as well as in words.

Painting a Day 67

Well, after months of waiting for teething to begin, we are finally there!  Bernadette has her first tooth and another one ready to pop right beside it.  Which is funny really because she hash't been particularly interested in putting things in her mouth yet, very strange for a baby at nine and a half months.  Anyway I am consequently somewhat tired today although that seems to be a running theme lately, maybe I need to get my thyroid checked again.

Flower Field at Sunset, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Painting a Day 66

I swear I had something interesting to say earlier, but the thing about mothering and homeschooling is that your brain is under constant bombardment!  I'll have to start saying things out loud to myself to help me remember.  Of course I'll look like I'm crazy, talking to myself, maybe that's how craziness starts! :)

Rocky Shore, acrylic on canvas board, 8" x 10"