Category: My Life

An Art Teacher Journey: My Last Day of School

A picture of my first day of school and last day of school.

I recently made a major life change. Last fall, I decided the 2020-2021 school year would be my last year in the classroom. After kindergarten through senior year of high school, undergrad, graduate school, and twelve years as an art teacher, on May 21, 2021, I reached my last day of school.

Pictures of one of my classrooms

I taught for 12 years, at two schools, in four different classrooms. I taught everything from Introduction to Art to Ceramics & Sculpture to AP Art and so many things in between. I had classes packed in at 35 kids per class and classes with 5. I taught with zero budget and with a dream budget. I may not have loved every minute of it, but I loved most of it. Coming to the decision to quit was not easy and it weighed heavily on me, but looking back I know it was the right choice.

Updating a desk area in my classroom.

STEPPING BACK

After teaching virtually for the second half of the 2020 semester, moving to another classroom over the summer, and adjusting to teaching in a hybrid model, exhausted was an understatement. Last year was the second hardest year of my career (check out my post here on teaching tips for hybrid mode and for a letter to first-year teachers, my hardest year as a teacher). Although I had considered it for a couple of years, a few weeks into the school year, the voice saying it was time for a break had grown to an exigent level.

In September 2020, just six weeks into the school year, I began talking with my close coworkers and department chair about the possibility of me leaving. By October I had officially put in my resignation for the end of the school year. By December my job was posted, by January art teacher candidates were coming in for interviews. By February they had my replacement, an amazing artist and art teacher who I know will take care of my babies.

I cried in 3/4 of my sit-down meetings about my resignation. I loved my job. I loved my school. I loved my coworkers. I loved my students. I loved my classroom. I loved being an art teacher. So why was I choosing to leave it all behind?

For me, what it came down to was an imbalance in my life. For eight years I had been building a small business creating lesson plans, curriculums, handouts, and more for teachers and art teachers. I sold products through Teachers Pay Teachers and my blog. I began spending more evenings developing my products, which lead to working on weekends. I had babies, grew my family, and never faltered from building my business. I never dreamed it could become a full-time gig, but starting a few years ago it had the potential.

Although I could have stopped teaching earlier, I never felt the desire like I did last year. Teaching in a pandemic crushed my teacher’s soul. It sucked the life out of me until I could no longer put in the hours I needed to for my business outside of school. I no longer had the energy to be the best mom or wife I could be. I felt like I was drowning and something had to give. But what would give?

Do I choose the career I worked so hard for, the career I studied for and loved, or do I choose the business I made from the ground up, that was so successful and rewarding?

When it came down to it, the decision was easy, I chose to bet on me.

My home office.

BEING SELFISH IS OKAY

I felt incredibly selfish and guilty quitting my job. I hate quitting. I felt like I owed them so much for all that my job had given me over the years, but the truth was, I didn’t owe them anything. I don’t owe anyone anything. When I imagined my ideal day it involved dropping my kids off at school, drinking coffee on my front porch, quality time with my husband, making art when I wanted to, creating the products I have come to love creating for other art teachers.

So I chose me.

I moved out of my massive art classroom and into my tiny dormer window art nook. I make demo videos shoved in a corner and it’s a hot mess, but I love it. I type lesson plans sitting in my bed, next to my puppies, with Harry Potter and The Office on loop in the background. I have lunch dates with my work-from-home husband. I get to respond to questions and requests from art teachers in a timely manner.

I am fairly sure I have the best job ever. I have graduated to being a support for art teachers and all teachers. I can now help the ones in the job I still love and respect. I can still be an educator from a distance by supporting those still in the trenches. Those who are doing the most important work, inspiring, educating, and connecting with kids.

A picture of me on my 35th birthday.

THIS IS 35

This month I turned 35. I have never felt better. I have a happy family, a successful business, a recently renovated home. I get to chose what I want to do every day. I am a better parent, wife, and animal mama because I am also taking care of me. I think this year is destined to be one of my happiest, and I can’t wait to see what new opportunities may come in my new career path. I’m all in on myself, and I am confident this is a gamble I will win.

Thanks for coming along on this wild ride with me! If you want to keep up with my day-to-day life, check me out on Instagram. Check out my TPT shop to see the products that have allowed me to quit my day job (and check out my blog shop, which I hope to polish up and add to this year). Thanks for stopping by!

Preparing for Baby Girl: A, Modern, Folksy, and Whimsical Nursery

 

Baby girl's crib with a floral pattern bumper, bright windows, and the ABC's hanging on the wall.

This past November Nick and I welcomed our second child, the sweetest little girl named Kennedy. We were equal parts excited and terrified for her arrival. Having gone through it once made me more fearful because I knew exactly what was coming. There were going to be a lot of sleepless nights, a seemingly endless feeding schedule, and barely any showers; plus I also had to care for our two year old (wild man Cooper).

Before Cooper’s arrival in November 2015, I planned, prepped, and set goals to have everything ready before I started back at work in August. With it just being Nick and me (plus a handful of chickens and dogs) my goals were easily accomplished. Cooper’s nursery was ready to go months in advance. In the weeks leading up to his birth I sat around, caught up on shows, and daydreamed about life with a little.

In the weeks leading up to Kennedy’s arrival there was no sitting around or daydreaming. In August 2017 I realized a baby would be in our house in three months and I had not started preparing anything, at this point with Cooper I was already done. As the weeks passed, I would contemplate layout, design, and what needed to be purchased in between chasing Cooper and cleaning up after a two year old tornado, but there never seemed to be enough time to actually act. As 11/21/17 showed up around the corner I finally jumped in. Step one was setting up Cooper’s big boy room so I could move the crib to Kennedy’s room (more on that to come in the near future). Step two was to order furniture, rugs, and side tables, plus enlist the help of my mom to create her bedding. I was running out of time.

Just two weeks before Kennedy’s arrival, I finally got everything in place. And although her room was a much quicker process than Cooper’s, her room has become my favorite room in the house. The combination of soft neutrals, pops of color, and amazing bright light create a tranquil space.

One of the first things I did when I finally got started was begin looking at fabric patterns on Spoonflower. Luckily, I have a very talented mom who was willing and able to help me with Kennedy’s bedding. I knew I wanted something big, floral, and feminine (but not too pink or over the top girly) and for some reason I was really set on orange and green. It didn’t take long for me to find a pattern that was not quite orange but not quite pink and was just what I was looking for. I paired it with a simple  green stripe for the skirt. The name of the green stripe pattern was “She is Fierce,” which is perfect for the strong, independent, feminist woman I plan to raise. Side note: The bumpers were removed before baby girl began sleeping in her crib. They will make their way back in once her ligaments start getting stuck between the bars at night. 

The alphabet hanging above Kennedy’s crib also came from Cooper’s nursery. I have been working in mixed media, oil paint, and encaustic for the last 7 or so years and began making letters around that time. At first, the hanging alphabet was more of a necessity. I didn’t have the space to store all of them so I decided to display them. When we found out Cooper was coming along, it just made sense to keep them up in his room. You can read more about the encaustic process here. 

The next items I had to focus my attention on were the rug and dresser/changing table. Because both of these items had to be ordered and shipped, I needed enough time to get them in. The rug came from Overstock.com, where I buy all my rugs. It was incredibly affordable for the size, which means it can also be ruined without me stressing over cost to replace it. The dresser came from Ikea and seems to be the standard go to for any nursery. I can’t count the number of times I have seen this in my friends’ nurseries and displayed in nurseries online. It’s durable and the perfect height for a changing pad. The Diaper Genie, baskets, and changing pad were all recycled from Cooper’s nursery.

One of my favorite things in her room is the window hanging above her changing table. This was in the first apartment I moved into in Atlanta after college. It was stowed away in a high up nook in the living room. The previous tenant had left it behind and I fell in love with it. When it came time for me to move out of my adorable upstairs duplex, on top of a hill in Lake Claire and into my East Lake home with my soon to be husband, you better believe this came with me. It lived in our kitchen for 7 years until I decided it was perfect for Kennedy. I have no idea who the woman is in the image, but I love her confidence.

The orange vintage chair was found at my favorite antique spot in Atlanta, Kudzu Antiques. I purchased it not even considering using it in Kennedy’s room, but it was the exact color orange I had in mind for the accent color in her room, it was meant to be. The pillow was found on Etsy and the stuffed animal was bought at a craft fair. I fell in love with the donkey and it was the first toy I purchased for her.

The glider was also recycled from Cooper’s room. There was something very special about continuing the tradition of feeding and rocking my babies in this amazingly comfortable spot. The fox pillow and side table were purchased from Target and the lamp and basket were purchased from World Market. I loved the juxtaposition of the modern, clean lines in the lamp and side table vs. the soft, whimsical pattern on the wall and in the rug. And of course the orange fox pillow went perfectly with the orange chair.

Another important piece in Kennedy’s room is this beautiful metal shelf. I purchased it at an estate sale the first year I lived in Atlanta. I fell in love with the green color of the bars and the antique feel of the rust. After I bought it I never found a place to hang it. This beautiful piece sat in storage for seven years before the light bulb came on and I realized how perfect it was here. It looks amazing hanging on the opposite wall from the old window above the changing table.

The chicken stuffed animal was a gift from a coworker. I knew it had to have a prominent spot because I know Kennedy will love chickens as much as I do. The K print and the floral print came from Etsy. While looking for artwork I wanted something modern and more soft. The colors in the floral print pick up the neutrals, greens, and oranges I wanted in her room and the K is clean, has good contrast, and looks beautiful next to the other print. I selected a few books from Cooper’s vast collection, and intentionally chose colors that would compliment her room.

Before this room became Kennedy’s room it was our guest room. When it came time to convert it I opted not to paint the walls, the colors were already exactly what I wanted. The pattern on the wall was painted on using a patterned paint roller. You can read details about that process here. 

The hanging terrariums also came from World Market. Nick found a birds nest around this time and it was another perfect and personal addition.

On the opposite wall from the crib is my art armoire. The dark wood doesn’t exactly fit with the decor and the scratched up finish is less than ideal. However, this is a necessary piece of furniture in our house, it holds all of my art supplies (not including the shelf in the top of Kennedy’s closet that is home to all of my artwork). I spent so much time brainstorming spots for this piece, but nothing worked in our small house. I’m hesitant to give it up for something more trendy or in line with the decor in her room because it does have sentimental value. This was purchased by my parents shortly after getting married at a garage sale. It was already loved and old when they purchased it, now twenty to thirty years later it lives with me. It would cost more to refurbish it than it’s worth, but it’s worth a lot to me in memories. It’s on my mental checklist to either take on a DIY refurbish or bite the bullet and pay someone to do it. I’m sure I will post about it here when I finally find time to do it.

Sleeping baby

Now almost six months later, sweet Kennedy is sleeping soundly in her crib every night. I love sitting in her bright, warm room rocking her in Cooper’s glider and thinking about all the great things she will do in life. While a nursery isn’t necessary, a baby will sleep just as well in a crib in the corner of your room than in their own room, it is nice to have a space that she can call her own and that I can escape to for some baby snuggles while Cooper is being a tornado in the rest of the house.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

Back to the Grind: My Summer Off

Trinidad, CA

So far, 2015 has proven to be a busy year. I feel like I’ve been on the go since the beginning, and a lot of changes and new beginnings have presented themselves in the past 7 months. As the school year wrapped up and summer began, I readied my summer to do list, which included posting regularly to my blog. While 2015 has been an eventful year for me personally, my blogging life has fallen a little flat, and summer was no exception. In between the vacations and projects, I kept pulling up my site, starting a post, before being distracted by something else. Eventually I hit a point where I decided it was okay to take a break. What used to be a passion had suddenly turned into a to do burden. I was no longer putting the time or effort into my posts to make it worthwhile for me to write or my readers to read. But now I find myself back from summer and excited to share my new projects and life stories. I look forward to once again fulfilling my weekly goal of sharing my interests with you!

New Orleans

Lets recap. January started off slow and typical. Winter was cold, snow never coated the ground, the weather was dreary, and I was feeling the gray creeping inside my brain. I was tired, run down, and needed a pick me up. I got just what I needed in the coming months, and the work/sleep/eat routine was broken in February when I took my first trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2015.

It was an experience like no other, in a city like no other. I felt the tremors of the city as soon as we hit the bridges leading into town. There is an underlying sense of excitement and life in every tree, building, plate of food, and person you pass by. The city is full of color and culture. I took in the beautiful, huge, stretching trees that I have come to associate with my childhood and the south. My eyes devoured the architecture, flying beads, and costumes, while my stomach ate up some of the best food I have ever had. I ate my first crawfish out of a bag, sitting on the ground in the park. It was a beautiful city and breath of fresh air, just what I needed to get back on track.

Seattle to San Fran

Not long after our trip to New Orleans, I was once again packing my bags, getting ready for Nick and my long awaited west coast adventure. For 10 days wse spent time on foot, in cars, on bicycles, on buses, and hiking trails from Seattle to San Francisco. My recently relocated cousin gave us a good excuse to go out to Seattle and visit. What began as a long weekend trip turned into an all out tour of the Pacific northwest. This trip was a like no other, and is an experience I will never forget.

Each city was as unique and interesting as the last. In Seattle I discovered a city built on hills, with an underground city hiding underneath. In Portland I found amazing natural beauty nestled directly outside of skyscrapers. In northern California I fulfilled my childhood dream of standing in front of a redwood and we feel asleep to the sound of barking of sea lions. In San Francisco I saw an amazing harmony of cultures coexisting in the bay side city. In ten days we experienced mountains, forests, beaches, and cities. I wore sundresses in the sand, galoshes in torrential downpours, and layers of coats in feet of snow.

This trip was not only a testament to our beautiful country, culture, art, and architecture, but it was also a reminder of how much I love my Nick. We packed into our tiny rental and drove hours from location to location. Perhaps we would have made better time if we didn’t stop every mile on the Pacific Coast Highway for me to snap yet another picture, but Nick noticed every time my eyes lit up in need of another snapshot memory. I never tired of his company, I could have spent another 10, 20, 30 days packed into a car with just him, touring the countryside and cityscapes.

Many of the pictures I took on this trip have already made their way into my encaustic art. Be on the lookout for future posts about my new projects!

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Although it was difficult to leave our vacation bubble and return to the real world, I headed back feeling rejuvenated. I was so inspired by everything I saw, felt, and experienced, and I couldn’t wait to infuse that into my teaching, artwork, and home. With the passing of March came the warming of the air, spring showers, and the coming and going of my busiest time of year at school. Before I knew it, summer was on the cusp, and so was our first dinner club.

As an effort to keep in touch with our dear friends in our growing, busy lives, Nick and I decided to get a group together once a month to eat good food, share recipes, and enjoy each other’s company. The first one was hosted at our house, a crawfish boil in the backyard. It was a taste of New Orleans brought home, the perfect start to the spring and coming of summer.

CharlestonBefore I could even start my summer countdown, school was over. I began my first weekend of summer in one of my favorite southern cities, Charleston. It marked the beginning of my much needed extended vacation, a very busy wedding season for Nick and I, and the addition of a sister-in-law to my seemingly ever growing family. We celebrated Nick’s brother marrying his perfect match, and spent the weekend piled into a house on the beach with his parents, 5 siblings, significant others, and extended family.

Teapot

We were reunited with Nick’s sister, brother-in-law, and our two nieces in the house on Folley beach. After a year in Italy, it was wonderful to see their faces again, hear about their traveling adventures, and witness the hyperactivity of toddlers. It also gave me the chance to give Kyla her birthday teapot, designed to fit her two year birthday theme, Carnivale, a traditional celebration in Italy. Be on the look out for a more extensive post about this tea set in the future.

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I was very spoiled to be able to enjoy three weeks of my summer in Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head has been a part of me since I can remember. Every summer our family of five braved the five plus hour drive to the small, tennis shoe shaped island off the coast of South Carolina. We learned to crawl, walk, and ride bikes on the sandy beach. I realized my first nugget of independence as my parents allowed the kids to ride the bike trails unsupervised.

This summer was spent between two houses, which felt like a living metaphor. The old and the new, the coming and the going. My parents closed on a new property in Hilton Head in the spring. A beautiful house, only one street away from the original house, but many steps closer to the beach. Although my parents are keeping the partnerships of both houses intact, there was something monumental about heading to the new property. All the kids are grown up, my sister already has one of her own learning to run on the beach just like we did. The old house will always hold the memories of my siblings and I growing up, but I know this new house will soon hold the memories of our kids growing up.

Sarah Showers

After Hilton Head, another wedding was celebrated in another amazing southern location, Asheville, North Carolina. As I headed home I began planning a bridal shower for another future sister-in-law, Sarah, and getting information about her bachelorette party, to be held at the end of summer. A couples shower cook out was hosted at my house, full of crafty projects and decor I can’t wait to share. Be on the lookout for these how tos coming soon. Since January I have gained two more sisters. I am incredibly lucky my brother-in-laws know how to pick girls I click with, I couldn’t ask for better family.

Aruba Scenes

The next wedding location of the season required an international voyage to Aruba. Nick was honored as Jared’s best man as he married his other half, Ashley. Not only did we get to see some of our best friends commit their lives to each other, but we got to do it in an unbelievable location. For five days we sat next to turquoise waters, tanned alongside iguanas, and ate fresh-caught-daily seafood.

5 Year Wedding Anniversary

A few days after Jared and Ashley tied the knot, Nick and I celebrated five years married. Aruba was the perfect location for our anniversary celebration, and our last full day on the island, we spent together, crammed on a 1980’s dirt bike touring the island. I can’t believe we have been a couple for 10 years, with 5 years of marriage under our belts. I’ve never regretted picking him, I’m not sure I had a choice in the matter, it felt right from day one. As I’ve said before, and as I will say again, I think we have at least another 75 years together in us.

Starlight Six Drive In

The end of summer is bittersweet. I begin to realize I am losing a portion of my freedom for another nine months, but I am also ready to see my kiddos, and ready for my birthday, which always seems to mark my last weekend of summer. Year 28 of my life was closed out with a drive in movie, lots of junk food, and lots of attention and love from my family and hub. School was about to start again, and it was time to wrap my head around the coming work, and get ready for another great year.

Cooper James

In addition to all of our trips and busy schedules, we also found out we were pregnant with our first baby in March. Now I find myself back to school, almost 7 months pregnant, planning a nursery, and prepping for our baby boy. I can’t wait to see his sweet face in flesh and color, and discover which features he decided to model after his dad and which ones he modeled after me. With the coming of baby also brings a lot of home projects, which will also be coming soon to my how tos.

Aruba 2

I hope you enjoyed the recap of the last 7 months, and I promise to stay on top of my postings as things continue to get busier. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help spread the word about easy craft projects, art making techniques, and visual journaling by sharing it with others! Thanks for stopping by.

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T.G.I. Friday’s Summer of Fridays Tour: Artists and Crafters Feature

summer of fridays 1

I am so excited to share a recent feature of mine in T.G.I. Friday’s new campaign, local and handmade.

In an effort to rebrand their company, T.G.I. Friday’s has been busy meeting artists, crafters, musicians, and all people artsy across the US. To keep with the theme they recruited photographers from Instagram to document these “makers of America.”

Through the Atlanta based, all things handmade shop, Crafted Westside, I was brought to the attention of the tour and photographer, Daniel Davis. I meet with him one morning at Crafted, and enjoyed talking about his last 3 month adventure traveling down the East Coast, meeting a variety of crafters. He took amazing photographs of my work, and included a wonderful write up on the TGIF, “Summer of Fridays,” blog.

mug TGIF

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Thank you to Daniel Davis and TGIF for giving me this amazing opportunity! The stories and photographs are art in themselves. Thanks for checking out my blog. Help me spread the word about it by sharing with others! I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by.tumblr_nav6yrtlkJ1tx0d9wo2_1280

2013 Lickskillet Artist Market: Athens, GA

Lickskillet 2013 poster

If you happen to be in the Athens, GA area this Saturday between the hours of 10am and 4pm, come by and visit me! My wonderful husband, Nick and I will be manning my booth at the 2013 Lickskillet Artist Market! I will have my encaustic silhouette paintings, encaustic letter paintings, glass dish ware, and larger paintings for sale. I will also have some beautiful glass pendants by Anne Ward (my wonderful Mom).

See the above poster for details and the below images for a sneak peak of what I will have! Thanks for supporting local and handmade!

Antique and Vintage Inrpired Typewriter- Encaustic Collage Art

Shabby Chic Encaustic Letter t PaintingShabby Chic Hot Coffee Silhouette Encaustic Collage Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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