— sojourning, us


I’ve finally taken a moment to update my portfolio site. I have a feeling that this blog will eventually fade into that one. I need to pick one; it’s just too much to do two rounds of blogging at a time at this point in my life. If anything, I’ll end up redirecting my Tumblr feed here instead. Don’t worry, I’ll archive all my words and photos. This has been a beautiful place, but one I’ve unfortunately neglected in the busy-ness of starting my own business.

Hello Nifty, LLC New Identity

Sorry for that. I don’t want to lose touch with how much I’ve enjoyed blogging for the past (omg) 10 years or so of my life, even if I don’t have all of it saved. I’ve been writing on and off since college, and while I’ve just never managed to be regular about things (especially with a toddler and my own business), it’s been an important part of myself. I feel like I’ve lost a bit of purpose and vision. I need to find that, and narrowing my focus is probably a good start. This isn’t the end. It’s just the start of something new. <3 Please pay attention to Hello Nifty as my blog transition takes place.

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I haven’t written because I’ve been swamped with client work (don’t read that as a complaint, either). In addition to all the new work I have, I’m also knee-deep in writing a business plan for our letterpress shop. On top of that, even, I’m trying to clean up my portfolio site as well as combine that blog with this one. Oh, and redesign both sites to make room for all the new changes coming with the new year.

Fun times, right?

So, look out for some changes here (yeah, yeah … changes in activity, too). I’ll be redesigning this blog once I finish up Hello Nifty and put together a site for the letterpress print shop, Stubborn Press & Company, that we’ll be starting in 2012.

Enjoy a little sneak peak of my Hello Nifty update by looking at the logos:

It’s been an interesting year; I can’t believe I’ve been working for myself for almost an entire 12 months now. It hasn’t been easy. Finding a balance between working from home and enjoying my family was probably the most difficult part of it all, considering my husband and toddler and dog are all under the same roof while I’m working. It’s been worth every challenging moment, however—even the financially difficult months (and months and months), which unfortunately were more common than the financially easy ones. I’m glad that we waited until we had some savings before I started this adventure, but I will admit I naively thought getting the business ball rolling would be easier than it turned out to be.

Eleven months of stress and sweat and tears later and I can’t say whether or not I’ve entirely gotten the hang of things. I can say, however, that I look forward to what next year brings after all I’ve learned this year. I look forward to the new adventures of letterpress printing, too …

Oh, did you all know we purchased an old letterpress in August? I’m finishing up our business plan this week in hopes of getting a business loan to rent studio space and finish fixing up the old Chandler and Price New Series 10×15 printing press we rescued from being sold for scrap. It needs new rollers, feed/delivery boards, a foot treadle, and a bit of TLC. Since it’s too big to fit in our little townhouse, we also need some office space. We’re hoping to have everything ready for the new year so we can jump into wedding season with both feet. I hope to offer completely custom wedding stationery, announcements, and business collateral locally and sustainably printed on our C&P, affectionately nick-named the Mule.

Keep an eye out for more on updates on both Hello Nifty and Stubborn Press & Company.

If you’ve got a moment, you can even help me out with the logo design process, since I’m still in the drafting stage. I’m partial to the bottom two (the right is currently my favorite, but I’m really open right now). Check ’em out and please leave a comment:

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Is this thing out of focus? Or blurry? How’d that happen? Let me do some dusting …

That about sums up August. And September.

Uh, it’s October …?

Wait, October is half over? Oh, okay. Wow. Time really flies, especially when I spend it away from my blog. I’m not going to apologize—I work for myself from home with a husband, a dog, and a toddler. Sometimes, I even manage to feel productive. Some exciting stuff has happened since I last bothered to visit my blog and typey type some fancy words here—we bought a letterpress (a Chandler & Price New Series 10×15); I’m knee-deep in writing a business plan so we can get everything up and running by January; I’ve had a lot of client work; my baby is growing up.

I’m kind of trying to figure out what to do with myself, blog-wise. I want to continue blogging, either here or on Hello Nifty, but I’m not sure if I can do both. I’d like to incorporate the more instant feel of my Tumblr, especially when it comes to photos and things that inspire me. I’d like to blog regularly again like I used to, about my life and about useful things. I’m not sure whether I want to combine blogs, though I’m confident I’ll be redesigning one or both of them.

Yeah. I have a lot of things on my mind.

Right now, I’m mostly focused on finishing up our business plan for our letterpress. The hubbs and I are going into business together, and it’s going to be so much fun! I’ve got a lot to say about all of that, so I’ll be coming up with some posts to share our process.

It’s Monday and I have a lot of things on my to do list this week, so I thought I’d just sum up my silence with some photos.

nature walk

nature walk

nature walk

nature walk nature walk

nature walk

nature walk

nature walk

This is the part of the show where I want to make promises that I’ll be back here regularly, blogging again. I want to say that, but I feel like I’m in so much transition. Everything is up in the air and I’m just trying to stay standing sometimes. Or at least get things done, especially client work. Right now, paying bills and spending time with my family come first. Eventually, I’ll work blogging and taking photos and talking about things that matter to me back into my life.

It’ll just have to come slowly.

Be patient. Good things are happening!

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uh. hello.

i’ve been seriously neglecting both my blogs. my bad.

i feel like this one needs a makover just as much as i feel like my work site needs a sense of direction. part of me wants to use “i’ve been busy” as an excuse, but i know that’s not the only thing keeping me away. the need to get organized and find my words (i know i have them) is what’s been keeping me in hiding.

i have so much to say, but sometimes i get shy. who wants to read what i have to say, anyway? do i have anything useful to share? mmm. i’m not always sure.

but this isn’t a new feeling to me … it’s just one i have to get over.

i’m working on it. i’ve got a blog schedule for Hello Nifty started and one in the works for this site. i have some ideas of a redesign, a redirection, a revival of sorts.

i miss writing. i miss connecting. i miss being a part of something.

Share your thoughts?

sorry for missing a post yesterday. i just couldn’t think of what would be a fantastic tutorial or other tidbit to share. i’m also suddenly busy with work again, which is (of course) a good thing. the sporadic schedule of a freelancer is still rather interesting to me; i keep hoping for work to pick up and become more regular, but i know there are some things i still need to work on personally first. i’m a little frustrated at how it seems nearly impossible to hear back from some of the freelance opportunities i apply to online on places like freelanceswitch or freelancefolder. i’ve sent plenty of applications and have only heard back from one. maybe two.

i guess i know i’m bursting with all of this eager, excited energy, but i still need to beef up my portfolio. well, i’ve got two pro bono websites in the wings and a non-profit site that i just met with the client for today.

i’ve also got some wedding invites to silkscreen. it’s a lot of work (work i should probably have started by this time in the evening, to be honest), but they’re going to look so great when they’re finished. i just don’t know if i have enough room in our townhouse to lay them all out to dry—150 invites, 150 RSVP cards are a lot of little sheets of paper!

anyway, i’m still struggling with my identity, i think. i feel like i really need to figure out what it is i do best, what it is i’m happiest doing. i don’t think i know the answer to that yet.

i love the web.

but i also love illustration.

i also love photomanipulation and image editing.

i also love silkscreen and printmaking.

i also love sewing.

so. uh. which is it? should i focus on one? all? none? is there something i’m still missing in this puzzle of my life as a self-employed creative?

i don’t know yet. i’m not sure. i feel like the picture was clear, but after what feels like rejection after rejection (silence can be just as heavy as an email negative), i’m beginning to question whether or not i’m good enough at what i think i’m good at. i think i just need more examples of what i can do—i’ve been designing for the web for almost 10 years now, people. 10 (and that’s not counting the few years before that i taught myself HTML and built my own blog as a high school student). i’ve also been drawing and printmaking for that long, too.

i hate feeling stuck. it’s the worst feeling ever.

i hate realizing that i have all of this passion, this potential, but i feel like it’s being wasted. on nothing.

someone notice, would you?

i’ve got a lot to give here, you see.

Share your thoughts?

oh no, more crazy whacked out ramblings on a Monday? really, must it go on? you ask.

well, so far, i don’t think i’m crazy, but i do have a bad habit of rambling …

i’ve written about elimination communication twice before already (here and here), but now that we’ve got over half a year’s experience of it under our belts, i thought i’d share more about it for the curious (or for those who think we’re crazy, which is more likely the case).

when i first read about EC while researching and purchasing our first (used) cloth diapers from the cloth diapering community called diaperswappers (a great place to find used cloth diapers, by the way), i’ll admit i thought it sounded really crazy, too. at first, just getting into the rhythm of parenthood was more than enough of a struggle for the hubbs and i, first-time parents as we were. however, as we got to know little E better, as we got to learn more about how he communicated with us his needs—hungry, tired, and, eventually, wet or dirty—i began to wonder if there was actually something to that EC stuff after all. since Justin was already on board with cloth diapers from the moment we found out we were expecting, i decided to share about what i’d read and see what he thought.

we bought the book, the diaper free baby, by christine gross-loh. i did most of the reading, ahem, but i did talk to hubbs about what i read (all the time, often while i was reading it …) and the basic methodology of part-time elimination communication. because i was still working full time when Eli was 6 months old, we decided to only give EC a try while i was around so Justin just kept changing diapers and washing diaper laundry as usual.

so, for me, i began to notice how simple things were right away. we gave Elisha naked time and watched for his own cues (and occasionally had some messes). he’d get suddenly loud right before (or during) a pee. or, if he was already babbling or playing, he’d go really quiet and still. he was already a regular pooper. catching poops was the easiest part of EC—he’d go every morning after waking up for the day and sometimes a second time after his first nap or before bed after meals. occasionally, he’d go a day without going or decided he’d rather just go in the car, but eventually these things both faded and he’s able to hold it to poop on the potty all the time at 13 months (well, except for that week of diarrhea, but we won’t go there … ew).

we’re at the point now where he doesn’t actually like being wet. except when he’s playing, that is. when he’s involved in something exciting, he won’t let us know he has to go (he signs his own version of “potty,” which is pointing to his diaper area or tugging on his training pants). in the car, he lets us know he’s peed in his diaper (our stash of GroVia AIOs for going out of the house; he’s not quite ready for full-time training pants) by getting very loud.

my point is, however, we started small. (and there are so many things anyone can start small on!)

we didn’t have big expectations.

it was just something new.

a parental experiment—one that, yes, we were learning, too.

he peed on his potty after naps and then before/after meals. as Justin began to witness that Elisha did cue and actually liked the potty, he began to join in. since he could sit up, he sat on a little baby bjorn potty or we’d hold him in what’s called an in-arms position over the big potty at home or while we were out. eventually, once i was working from home, we suddenly realized we’d become full-time with EC. it just kind of happened. something casual and experimental became a part of our lives as we learned to communicate with each other. Elisha learned to sign for milk and for food right alongside the sign for potty, so it was just another part of his vocabulary. did he always tell us? no, especially when teething or hitting big milestones like walking. he spent those days mostly in diapers instead of the training pants he usually wears around the house. he’d still use the potty to poop, but he never had the time or the gumption to tell us he needed to pee when major things were going on in his mouth or in his brain.

and that’s okay with us. we’re not potty training here. we’re just communicating.

what? there’s a difference?

yes. i believe so.

i get uncomfortable when people ask me how potty training is going when they see me ask Elisha if he needs to go potty or if he’s wet. i get frustrated when people tell me they must be lazier parents than we are because we EC (or even because we use cloth diapers). i dislike it when people complain that we’re the ones being trained instead of our child(ren) when it comes to learning life skills such as going on the toilet.

yes, there are things we as parents must learn about our children. we need to learn how they tell us they’re hungry or tired and how they tell us about their elimination needs is just another part of the puzzle. i’ve learned that babies don’t necessarily like being left to sit in their own waste—they like being dry and clean just like adults do. in my opinion (please note that), the rise of a convenience-oriented disposable culture has encouraged us to lose touch with some of the amazing things God designed babies (and their parents) to do. babies quickly lose touch with the sensations of being wet or soiled in a diaper as a bad thing when they spend hours in the same one, sagging to their knees. then, once they’re two (or  later depending on the when they’re “ready” as today’s potty training standards go), we begin the process of attempting to reverse what they’ve been, uh, well, trained to do. we suddenly tell them diapers are bad and the potty is good. we bribe them to change their minds with songs and candy.

what i’ve discovered is that we can keep them aware the whole time. there are still accidents. we still spend days in diapers. but, seriously, we’re never going to have to untrain and retrain. the potty is normal, not something scary and new. being wet or dirty is not ideal, though tolerable when it happens (especially at night when he still doesn’t necessarily wake in time to go potty), and Elisha knows that. e

to me, i think it’s amazing. like crazy amazing.

babies are capable of so much more than i ever knew and becoming a parent has, indeed, taught me a lot. the difference i feel from the mainstream of our culture is that i actually enjoy being “trained” to listen to my baby, encouraged and thrilled by the bonds we build. that’s something i signed onto do when i became a parent—i signed on to wholly becoming a part of my children’s lives in order to raise them into healthy adults.

well, i turned out alright, you say.

so did i.

so did a lot of people who were raised in disposable diapers and with formula (not everyone can breastfeed, and i know that. but i also think a lot of women aren’t given enough support and information and end up giving up way too soon). we did grow up into adults just fine, as far as we can tell … so what’s the big deal?

i guess, in my mind, it all goes back to some of what i shared when i talked about why we chose to use cloth diapers as a family. to me, it’s about living sustainably, about being good stewards, about avoiding harmful chemicals that are completely unnecessary, and not just for our planet but for the lives entrusted into our care.

when it comes to elimination communication, i can totally understand that it’s not for everyone, but i really have my caveats about saying such things as “you do what’s good for you and i’ll do what’s good for me.” i do believe that kind of subjectivity isn’t healthy all the time, but i have learned that parenting is a rather touchy subject in which is currently better to pick your battles over than to see people get hurt. i just always want people to know that contrary to what we see around us, yes, there are options and yes, many of them work just as well if not better than the status quo.

i understand that it’s a commitment in both time and process. i do think there are definitely some interesting things to be learned, both in simply choosing cloth diapers or even giving EC a try.

not that i’m saying you (yes you) aren’t taking care of your child. i’m sure you are. well, i hope so. i just like the idea of really jumping in, and i think more people should consider other areas of their lives they could commit to making stewardly changes in, what with eating local or recycling or buying organic or wearing earth-conscious clothing … why not?

so, things are going awesome here, and none of you are a bad parent for not following the paths we’ve chosen. i just like providing some food for thought, and i hope that you’re all thinking. if you’re ever prompted to make changes, let me know, as i’m always excited to hear about other parenting adventures!

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