I think I mentioned that I made a whole lot of fairy food over the last couple of months. I made so much that in between the first holiday fair and the next holiday fair I could relax since I didn't have to hustle to replenish my inventory. That meant when nine pm rolled around I was at Nathan's side watching the latest installment of our science documentary without a single bit of clay in my hands. Coincidentally I was also snoozing in Nathan's lap by ten thirty, the last several weeks catching up with me while the lack of creative stimulation sucker punched me. But it felt good! What an accomplishment, I tell ya.
And it also felt strange. By the second post-holiday-fair night I had the clay out again. I made this:
Nathan looked at me with genuine concern for my sanity.
Withdrawal does make one crazy, but isn't it cute???
I have all of these little baskets, and clay, and well... TIME (at least comparatively speaking) and doing nothing just feels way too foreign. So I made these guys, fairy babies of sorts, that I know are going to fly off the holiday fair shelves into the hands of little girls that don't think they are weird at all. I made brown ones too. And little flannel blankies that fasten with velcro. And they each have their own basket for naps.
You should see their tiny, plump little bums. It's almost too much.
And that's how I'm handling my transition from the fairy food world to the real. Along with grandparent visits that just keep on rollin' (bye Granpop and hello Grammie!), dog walks in snow so white it looks fake, stacks and stacks of Feeleez packages, and of course the thrice weekly recess duty.
In fact, I have been so much in my own world lately that with the close of the e-course ( a resounding success!) my brain just kept right on trekking and before I knew it I was jotting down the framework for Parenting Teaching With Empathy in the classroom. Holy moly the possibilities are so exciting. So exciting that, because of my own little world bubble I mentioned, somehow without any preparation or prelude, between shoving little elementary bums on the swing, I blurted out to the director of Xi's school that I'd like to give a presentation on applying parenting with empathy principles to the classroom.
I said this off-hand and matter of factly and without an ounce of awareness of how presumptuous or critical that notion might sound to the director of a school, a woman who has been working with children for decades. Oops.
But she's interested.
I am giddy with the thought of school children receiving little doses of empathy throughout the day. I imagine their little hearts swelling and settling with satisfaction and contentment. They still will have to hold hands in line, clear their work space, and all the other little "shoulds" of the school day, but when they melt down or resist or drag their little feet? They might just be met by an empathetic adult and what a difference that will be, not only for them but for the teachers and co-students and parents and well, the rest of the world too.
From the micro to the macro, that's how my days have been going lately. Little inch long babies accompanied by continent-wide thoughts and ideas. If I were to map it out, how parenting and miniature pretend food intertwine to make e-courses, parenting theory, and emotional educational revolution make sense, I couldn't. But somehow it does.
I am "trusting the process of my life", as a wise woman once advised, and who knows where it will go.
ps. There is a fair bit of web buzz about this post lately. Want to weigh in?
All of the weeks of amped-up fairy food construction were leading to this. The holiday fairs have begun. Today, tomorrow, and the next we are at the University Campus here in Missoula. And December 11th we will be at the Made Fair.
It's really fun to make things and then send them out into the world. And I have so much to share! Necklaces, bookmarks, mobiles, gift bowls and baskets, yule logs!, cherry pies, christmas cakes, rainbow cakes, tarts, trout, magnets, charms, swiss chard!
And of course I have Nathan. He woke up with me at the crackest of dawn to set up. He spent days trouble-shooting mobile displays, and structural issues. He stayed up late, late, late watching The Office with me and keeping me company while I made stuff. He even became my go-to mini plate maker.
And I have Echo, my trusty sidekick. She gives me steady advice and cheer. Here at the fair she's got a deluxe set up of toys, slippers, snacks, and audio books. She woke up at five thirty like it was no big thing and has settled into her little booth camp like a champ. In fact she's so busy and content that I feel kind of lonely.
And Bella and Xi are at school but with me in spirit. I hung each necklace with the memory of Xi's critiques. She adores everything I make and if I want an ego boost I need only show her my latest item. Bella too, she basically thinks I'm famous.
And my girlfriends are walking my dog, and Nathan's mom expertly wrapped gift boxes and financed timber purchases. My grandma bought five mobiles. My other grandma gave me a small business grant. A lot of people have my back and that sure feels good.
And here we are. Hawking little irresistible mini food. Life sure is funny.
Come see me! (Or cyber-see me by saying "hi" in the comments!)
Sure, one has to be a bit crazy in the first place to even begin a task such as this, but I've long since shrugged off that concern. Making teeny tiny fake food is the kind of insanity I can get behind. But four days of tic-tac sized strawberries almost put me over the edge into that other less enjoyable flavor of crazy.
Over twelve hundred strawberries.
A day and a half of rolling red clay into strawberry shapes. Two and a half days of poking little "seeds" into those shapes. (I can add seeds to four strawberries per minute at this point.) And then another day to add green tops.
Over twelve hundred strawberries.
At the end of this work I have a modest pile. Not even enough to completely cover the bottom of our glass pie pan.
I put off the big batch of strawberries for precisely this reason. With a long check list to get done by the end of the month I was enjoying faster items like apples, crookneck squash, and eggs. I was loathing the idea of spending almost a whole week on one thing, and one thing so tiny that even at the end I would still only have a handful. But I did it.
And surprisingly the process only made me a little crazy. I guess I really am the kind of person that can stare at red little balls for days on end. I don't know what that information gives me but I thought I'd share anyway.
Over twelve hundred strawberries smaller than a popcorn kernel. If you'd like to meet some of these little ladies in person come find me at the holiday craft fairs in Missoula. If you aren't in town visit my etsy shop, there's lots to see.
There are always quotidian things, people and activities that never make it onto one's blog, but that are so a part of the fabric of one's life that it is just assumed that you readers must already know about them. But of course you don't.
This lady is a part of my life. Her name is Ann and I bought her, to the delight of my children, at a local hobby shop filled with dusty shelves of models, offensive cake toppers, and random scrapbooking supplies. The kind of place you might go to if you are a retired man with a train hobby, or a person with bad taste in cake toppers. I'm not either but I had heard they had dollhouse stuff. My interest in making little foods has linked me to the world of dollhouse and miniature enthusiasts. I think of my stuff as little sculptures but they think of them as the perfect accessory to their kitchen scene. That's cool with me.
Anyway, I heard they had dollhouse stuff and I was thinking some little plates might be good, official china type settings that I could put my fried eggs and bacon on. I didn't find them but I found Ann and her husband. It occurred to me that they were perfect for helping me with my proportions. You see, this miniature world is pretty particular in terms of scale. Scale is everything. Ann is dollhouse scale so if I place my food in her hands I'll be able to see if I made it right.
The husband is somewhere else, tossled with other figurines, but Ann sits on the table. At first I found her judgemental and conservative. She found my avocados a bit large. (The nerve!) And she refuses to cradle the food, she's only willing to sort of stick her arms out and let me place things atop. I like her, and I don't.
But then I started to listen to Matilda by Roald Dahl with Echo. This story is read by Joely Richardson and is heart warming and f-ing rad. Richardson has a warm and kind voice that has filled our home for three days straight. And little by little Ann has started to become that voice.
Now I see her differently. She's so helpful to have around. If I look closely she's actually smiling. If I'm honest with myself Ann is simply me reflected back on myself. If I'm feeling good she's kind, if I'm not, if I'm insecure or crabby, she's judgemental. I'm sure there's a lesson here about our perceptions of "reality" being clouded by our own sense of self - grab it if you like.
I'm supposed to be in major production mode. Making big batches of tiny things. Hundreds of pork chops (see above) or hundreds of avocados. But I keep getting distracted by cute kids, fence building, and... making fairy friends! Little animals. Definitely not on my production list, but sooooooooo cute!
Talkfeeleez is an offshoot of Feeleez, a line of tools to teach children (and adults!) empathy. We believe so firmly in empathy as the foundation for all that is good in the world that we have based our personal lives on it as well. This blog chronicles that journey.