I was about to begin writing down my impressions of the eclipse for the Kentucky Folklife Archive’s Eclipse Day collection. Instead, I decided to do mine later and ask Penny about her impressions.

Me: “Penny, what happened during the eclipse yesterday?”
Penny: “Eclip? Eclip! [Makes a ring with her fingers like an “okay” sign] Dark…dark…dark…sky! Moon a bye bye! Sun…color black!”

Record your memories. Record your children’s memories. 


Stencil Painting


I guess this is a thing now. 

In a parenting Facebook group I’m a member of, I posted the results of a craft project I did with Penny. Lots of people really liked it and said they were stealing the idea. I said to go on ahead; I didn’t originate the idea and this isn’t even the first time I’ve done it. 

Then I thought, hey, I took photos. I could post about this on my blog that I never post on anymore! Then if anybody asks me how I did it I can point them to this handy dandy post!

So first, you gather your materials:

  • Canvas
  • Contact paper
  • Cutting tools
  • Paint

Some of the materials I used–scissors, canvas, contact paper, toddler hand. Not pictured: craft knife, cutting mat, paint, rest of toddler.

I used 8.5″×11″ canvases that I got on clearance at Michael’s. They were on clearance because the package was busted open and some of them were dirty–nothing a bit of primer couldn’t fix! The contact paper I used is vinyl shelf lining paper from Walmart. For cutting, depending on the intricacy of your design you may use scissors, a craft knife, or even one of those fancy cutting machines you hook up you a computer. If you use a craft knife I recommend using a cutting mat or board so you don’t mess up your work surface. 

A note on paint: the first time we did this, we used finger paints. It worked well enough, but it still felt a little sticky after it dried (I’m assuming due to the chemical composition of the paint; after several months collecting dust and stuff it has lost the tacky feeling). Also, the finger paints, being runny, bled under the edges of the contact paper so it didn’t leave as crisp of an edge as acrylic paint. You can do what you want, but personally I’ll probably stick with acrylic from now on. 

Results of finger paints (left) vs acrylic paints (right)

Now it’s time to cut out your shape(s). You need to determine if you want to paint the positive image (canvas mostly white with a colorful emblem) or the negative image (canvas mostly colorful with a white emblem, which is what I’ve done). Whatever method you use for cutting your stencil, make sure you double check things like letters and logos; if you’re drawing on the paper side instead of the vinyl side, for example, you’ll need to make sure you reverse the image you’re drawing so that when you stick the vinyl on it comes out the right way. If you’re wanting to paint the positive image only you’ll need to make sure that the piece of contact paper you’re using will cover your whole canvas. 

Once your stencil is cut, place it on your canvas. 

Much canvas. Such contact. Wow.

Make sure you press this down really well. The better it’s pressed down, the cleaner edges you’ll get. 

Now is the fun part. Get to painting! We’ve done finger paints and acrylic as I’ve mentioned before. Brushes, fingers, feet–whatever gets the paint on the canvas! 

These canvases won’t paint themselves!

Cover anything that you don’t want white, and pay close attention to covering the edges of your image–even if you don’t get 100% coverage on the canvas, getting those edges will make sure your image is clear. 

Empty egg carton and bottle of rum not included in these instructions

Once it’s dry, remove the stencil and admire your artwork! Penny loves her new DC Super Hero Girls artwork in her big girl room, and there are tons of ways this technique could be used for any room! 

Voila! Easy-peasy!



This isn’t necessarily baby related. Deal with it. 

The other day in a Facebook comment thread I made an offhand remark about how I’d rather have a marching band reunion than my 10 year class reunion and now suddenly with no further input or suggestion there’s a Facebook group with 200 people (and growing) and somebody is pricing out venues and taking a poll on dates and HOW DID I GAIN THIS POWER AND HOW DO I USE IT TO MAKE MONEY?!
Seriously, though, I loved marching band. It was a huge part of my life for four years. I met my husband in marching band. It was my summers and my afternoons and my Saturdays. I occasionally had lunch in the band room. 

But at the same time, high school was basically the worst. I was bullied. I had major issues with depression and anxiety. I dealt with self injury. I wrote horrible poetry and had a LiveJournal. 

I had band, and chorus, and the play, and academic team, and newspaper, and FBLA, and FCA. And all of those things were great. They led to some of my favorite memories from high school. Band was probably the most important of those things to me. But I didn’t continue with any of them. 

I was in high school for 4 years. Compare that to other landmarks:

  • I’ve been at WKU (either as student or as staff) for nearly 10 years
  • I’ve been with my husband over 10 years, and married to him for nearly 7 of those
  • I took classes in the department of Folk Studies and Anthropology over the course of 8 years
  • I’ve worked for my current division at the library for 4.5 years (and worked for my employer in several different positions starting in 2007)

Don’t get me wrong; I really did love marching band. I think it would be swell if one or both of my kids joined in the future and my husband and I can be band parents and do hand checks and sell fruit. Marching band is a huge part of who I was at that time in my life and I’m grateful for the role it played. But it’s not a huge part of who I am. I’m not the same person I was a decade ago. And part of that is because I try not to dwell on the past too much. My past has shaped my present, but I’d rather experience that present and plan for the future instead of reliving that past. 

Will I go to the reunion? Probably. I’ll reminisce and laugh and say “we should catch up sometime” to people I’ll never actually catch up with. But I’ve realized now that there are people for whom band is still a very important part of their lives. And it’s okay that I’m not one of them. 

Birth Wars


There are a lot of comments on this article complaining that the author is just “butthurt,” etc. However, I think it makes a great point. The language we use to talk about birth matters. Giving birth is not a competition. 

Penny’s birth is a blur of pain and trauma and pee and I met my doctor approximately one minute before I started pushing (after they made me wait for him to get there). Cally’s birth was a mother-led experience with a provider I knew and a soundtrack that progressed through my labor from calm meditation music until it culminated in my favorite song from one of my favorite movies, which played as I pushed her out. 

But does that mean that Cally’s birth was BETTER? Not really, because having that experience with Penny helped shape me and my relationship with her, and likewise my experience with Cally has shaped this budding relationship. Each of these experiences made me a mother. 

So while pushing a baby out in three pushes to the song “No Easy Way Out” by Robert Tepper makes a great story (and a great birthing experience), it doesn’t make my first experience or any other mother’s experience less amazing or important or life-changing. 

Quiet Moments


I’m currently sitting in my hospital bed, cradling my one day old newborn who has dozed off after a midnight feeding. My little big girl is at her uncle’s place, cuddled up with her stuffed animals and no doubt looking forward to getting back to her real crib and all of her toys and home comforts. My husband is asleep fully upright in the hospital recliner (based on the state of things around him, he likely didn’t intend on not laying down, but he seems to be in a deep enough sleep that I probably couldn’t get him to stir even if it meant a better sleep for him). These people, my core home group nuclear family, are typically buzzing with energy during their waking hours. I know that quiet moments like this will be few and far between in the coming months and years, but I love having just a second to sit and embrace it before getting back into the swing of things.