New Creative Outlets and Rivalries

One of the joys I have in life is creating; it’s how I got into soapmaking. I love crafts of all types (don’t believe me? My crafty boards on Pinterest have a veritable lifetime of awesome craft ideas for me to try). I knit. I have a flower press. I have newly started gardening. I adore cooking. I rubber stamp. I like to color. And, I now consider myself an expert play dough sculptor.

When I was tasked with developing a 2.5 day retreat for my Entrepreneur’s Organization group (that’s us at the Inn at Langley enjoying an amazing meal cooked by Matt Costello), I jumped at the chance to make our team building exercise creative.

We tried glass blowing. Wow! It was intense. I was alternately terrified and curious about the process. When it came time to actually do it, I tipped over the line of worry and spent most of my creative time scared I would drop the molten hot glass or slip and touch the glass. It’s over 1200 degrees so apparently, it would burn me but first, it would burn all the nerves so I wouldn’t feel pain initially. That news wasn’t all that comforting.

This is my creation. I’m ridiculously proud of it and even with the fear of burning myself, would definitely try my hand at glass blowing again. I also have a new-found appreciation for all glassblowing artisans now too.

Big thanks to my husband for taking extra good care of our sweet children while I was gone. Lily has firmly crossed over into the “I can eat solids” department and loves her little organic puffs (basically a more expensive form of cheerios that somehow manages to get me to pay more for the same product by having a different name).  She’s not a big fan of sitting still (see above). Lily is not yet crawling but is sooooooo close. She can get up on all fours now and rock. Any day now, she’ll start to crawl and our home will turn into babyproofing central.

Jamisen is growing to look more like his Daddy every day (which of course thrills me because I think his Daddy is pretty dang cute). He remains obsessed with trains, loves fire engines and likes to pretend cook me creative things every day (“Mommy, can I cook you some cheese ice cream?”). He adores reading time and we spend a lot of time at the library in addition to lining the pockets of all the local booksellers. Books are the one thing I feel good about splurging for him on; well, books and healthy food. Jamisen still drinks green juice and asks for it most days.

We’ve got Lily in on the green juice act as well. She gets kale or spinach most mornings for breakfast and is so good natured that she smiles through the entire meal.

Jamisen and Lily remain typical siblings, as the photo series above demonstrates. He loves her most days but still likes to torment her. Today, I caught him trying to feed her olives. He claimed he thought was sharing. I tried to explain the meaning of “choking hazard” to him but I’m not sure it sunk in. Not twenty minutes later, he came over, enveloped her in a giant hug and said, “I love you, Lily.” I’m reading the book ‘Sibling Rivalry’ in the hopes that I can steer them towards friendship and teaming up against their parents, instead of each other.  We love our little family of four – and though I remain tired every day (seriously, the new theme of my life is “exhaustion”), the challenge is good and I know that each day is sweeter with these little munchkins in it.  If you have any advice on any of this stuff: delicious healthy meals for baby, being less tired, sibling rivalry or books for either child to read, please let me know. I always love to read your feedback and get the experience of my soapy friends. =)

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48 Comments

  1. Lilian says

    Hi Anne-Marie,
    I have two young boys and constantly felt exhausted until I started taking B vitamins when my youngest was about 6 months. Life changer! I still get tired but not that drained, I’m-going-to-collapse-at-any-moment feeling.

  2. Somer says

    As a homeschooling mother of 5 kids (4 months, 2, 4 6 and 9 years old)I find that sibling rivalry occurs everyday. It’s not physical rivalry but disagreements happen between them all. There still is a lot of jealousy with my 2 year old and the baby. It’s a part of growing up. I make sure to get one-on-one time with everyone (it’s easy to do with teaching them at home, but aside from school work, I (as well as my husband) have “one-on-one” dates with each of them once a month. Kids that have siblings are extremely blessed. Sometimes I just sit in awe of my children-playing so well together- and then 5 minutes later someone is yelling. I let them work everything out themselves (at this point in their lives it’s ususally sharing issues). They gain problem solving skills, depending on the situation they learn how to be a gracious winner or loser, they learn to share, learn to work as a team…. My list could go on forever.I guess my point is if there was no sibling rivalry there would be no growth. So the jealousy and the fights are not all bad. It’s giving our children the opportunity to grow in virtue.

    • says

      We took the molten glass and sort of flattened each side so it wasn’t so round and then rolled/set one side in the teal, one side in the purple, and then two sides (opposite sides) in the white to get that.

      After those were done, we heated the glass again, rolled it all flat and then, coated in clear glass, heated, and blew, and then heated some more. It was quite a production! =)

      I would love to see yours. Did you tweet it or Instagram it or anything?

  3. Gretchen says

    Thank you for letting me relive the baby years! Believe it or not, you DO miss them when they’re gone. My boys are 4 years apart, so we didn’t have much sibling rivalry; we just had to learn to manage that wide of an age difference. As the saying goes: just play the hand you’re dealt. I would recommend the “Pete the Cat” series. His “Rocking in My School Shoes” book was a huge help in adjusting to preschool. Besides, who doesn’t love a cat who can surf AND play electric guitar! Seriously, just remember that these days are hard, but they are gone WAY too soon. Love your little ones and take delight in the joy that they bring. I’m cheering you on from western Colorado!!

    • says

      Hi Gretchen!

      While I’m not a mother myself, I am the oldest of two siblings, and we are all 5 years apart. The large age gaps definitely had their pros and cons! I will pass these suggestions along to Anne-Marie, thank you! The book about the surfing cat who can play guitar sounds awesome :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

    • says

      Funny – I got a Pete the Cat series the other day – good to hear I’m on the right track.

      I know I’m going to miss the baby years when Lily is a toddler. She is already growing up so fast and is already not as cuddly =( It’s bittersweet since we think we’re probably set as a family of four.

  4. Sharlene says

    Those glass balls hanging from the ceiling where the ones I used on my wedding, which was under a tree on Nov 2013 :) What a beautiful memory! We put flowers inside the glass balls and hung them from the Flamboyan tree.

  5. says

    I did a glass blowing ornament class in December – it was my first experience with glass blowing as well, and I can’t wait until next year! I want one to pass down to each of our kids (2 of them).

    My children love each other, but they have their moments as well. We went to the dog park today and my daughter (3) wanted to hold hands and run with her brother (7). It is so adorable, and I love that they love each other.

    I was telling my husband that them being close will serve them well as adults, but we better beware when they are teenagers and gang up on us!

    They do have their moments when they go at each other, but those are not often. Generally they play well together.

    I think the most important part is to give them individual time with a grown-up (not necessarily a parent, my son loves it when he spends time with my sister without his sister) to do something that they enjoy doing at their ability level.

    Right now they are both sitting on my husband’s lap as he reads to them getting ready for bed, and I am so grateful that they do love each other and get along.

    • says

      Hi Merryn!

      I would personally love to take a glass blowing class, I need to look into that!

      Having two siblings myself, I cannot imagine my life without them! It sounds like your children have a really sweet relationship. I really like your idea of having them spend individual time with a grown up. It’s so important for children to feel they are being heard. Such a good idea!

      Thanks so sharing some details about your family with us Merryn, it sounds like you are very lucky :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

    • says

      Were you terrifying blowing the glass? I was so scared I would reach out and touch the glass and burn myself! It was a really strange thought but I was worried =)

      I totally agree about the kids eventually teaming up against the parents… but hey, that’s the fun in it right? I’d prefer that (I think! Ask me in 15 years) than the alternative….

      I spend Friday mornings with Jamisen one on one so am trying to get that time with him, without his sister and when she gets older, we’ll institute something with one parent, one one one, each week.

      It sounds like you have such a lovely family life right now – the reading is so important.

  6. says

    My daughter is 5 so the baby and toddler years are (sadly) over. But what fun to share the books I loved as a kid! She just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the second time, and she tells me, “If I found a golden ticket, and both Charlie and I were good and deserved to win the factory, I would let him live there with his family. And I wouldn’t make holes in the roof…” I love that she thinks about what she read and ponders it.

    At the toddler stage, we loved the Boynton books, too, along with classics like Dr. Seuss, and Nancy Shaw’s Sheep in a Jeep (and sheep in other places) series. We inherited a lot of books from friends whose kids outgrew them, and that was great, because we got an eclectic mix of books we would never have thought of.

    For nutrition, it sounds like you’re already doing great! Smoothies are wonderful. And to this day a favorite lunch is roasted sweet potatoes and apples with a touch of sea salt. She also loves sushi and sashimi (salmon and tuna with avocado especially) and sea weed. It helps that her school is onboard with good nutrition, and the kids are exposed to food from other cultures.

    By the way, my daughter loves the Soap Queen videos–and she laughs at the outtakes. We’ve started making melt and pour projects. Tons of fun for her, and she’s learning altruism, as she gifts her creations to friends! I want her to have a variety of positive, successful women role models, and along with women scientists, adventurers, writers, and the like, you’re an example of a real, live woman entrepreneur who has built a business from scratch. So thanks!

    • says

      Hi Lesli!

      That’s so cute that she loves Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! I loved that book (and movie) as a kid as well. So sweet :)

      That’s awesome that she loves sushi! What a grown up palette she has :). I’m so happy to hear that she loves watching the Soap Queen videos, that is awesome! I will pass this along to Anne-Marie, it will make her day!

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  7. says

    My daughter is 5 so the baby and toddler years are (sadly) over. But what fun to share the books I loved as a kid! She just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the second time, and she tells me, “If I found a golden ticket, and both Charlie and I were good and deserved to win the factory, I would let him live there with his family. And I wouldn’t make holes in the roof…” I love that she thinks about what she read and ponders it.

    At the toddler stage, we loved the Boynton books, too, along with classics like Dr. Seuss, and Nancy Shaw’s Sheep in a Jeep (and sheep in other places) series. We inherited a lot of books from friends whose kids outgrew them, and that was great, because we got an eclectic mix of books we would never have thought of.

    For nutrition, it sounds like you’re already doing great! Smoothies are wonderful. And to this day a favorite lunch is roasted sweet potatoes and apples with a touch of sea salt. She also loves sushi and sashimi (salmon and tuna with avocado especially) and sea weed. It helps that her school is onboard with good nutrition, and the kids are exposed to food from other cultures.

    By the way, my daughter loves the Soap Queen videos–and she laughs at the outtakes. We’ve started making melt and pour projects. Tons of fun for her, and she’s learning altruism, as she gifts her creations to friends! I want her to have a variety of positive, successful women role models, and along with women scientists, adventurers, writers, and the like, you’re an example of a real, live woman entrepreneur who has built a business from scratch. So thanks!

    • says

      Oh so sweet. I love that you and your daughter are soaping together. My son loves the Soap Queen TV videos but I’m pretty sure it’s because we don’t have a TV in the house so that’s the only chance he has to watch “tv” =) He has made soap with me and loves to help as much as a 2.5 year old can.

      Oh my, oh my … Sheep in a Jeep (on a hill that’s steep. Sheep get out to push the jeep. Sheep can’t steer. Jeep for sale. Cheap.) I have that one and most of the Boynton books memorized. And, I have them all coming again with dear Lily. I swear, I wake up reciting some of them! =)

      You are so lucky that the school supports your good nutrition. Ours does not and that is really hard. They eat traditional ‘standard American diet’ (aka SAD) and Jamisen gets more sugar there in one day than he’ll get in a month at home. But, there are worse things and we are thankful that he has teachers that love him and work especially wonderfully with him scholastically. So, there’s that… =)

  8. says

    I am the exact same way when it comes to crafty things. I love to get into so many different types of crafts, some I do for a while and I forget about, some I keep on doing when time is available. Crafting is relaxing and real therapy for busy minds.

    Amazing how much Jamisen is starting to look like your husband! When he was younger, you couldn’t tell so much, but now he is a tiny copy of him. So cute.

    And your story about olives reminded me of my own first two. My daughter (12 months older than her brother) “shared” many times out of “love” ha ha ha ha

    Lily is adorable, growing so fast! Love seeing both your soapy and personal posts! You have such a beautiful family!

    • says

      Oh, I hear that all the time about Jamisen. Everyone says he looks just like Chris. And, since I think Chris is pretty dang cute, that bodes well for Jamisen =)

      I love crafting so much. Now, I get to craft with the kids which is fun. Since Jamisen has a very short attention span, I end up finishing almost all the crafts myself which is getting me back to a simple, fun, creative style I haven’t gotten to play with for years. His short attention span is a blessing in disguise =)

  9. says

    I am the exact same way when it comes to crafty things. I love to get into so many different types of crafts, some I do for a while and I forget about, some I keep on doing when time is available. Crafting is relaxing and real therapy for busy minds.

    Amazing how much Jamisen is starting to look like your husband! When he was younger, you couldn’t tell so much, but now he is a tiny copy of him. So cute.

    Lilly is adorable, growing so fast! Love seeing both your soapy and personal posts! You have such a beautiful family!

    • says

      Hi Gabriela!

      I have a bad habit of starting new projects and not finishing them, it’s my goal to finish a few this year! I agree, I usually craft on the weekends when I want to relax and unwind.

      I will pass along these kind words to Anne-Marie :)

      -Amanda with Bramble Berry

  10. says

    That blown glass looks beautiful! I love the colors! I’d love to try a bunch of other crafts one day. Between my back problems and my potential of getting arthritis I’m not nearly as ambitious and I am in my own head. But maybe this year I’ll try to change that mindset!

  11. Lauri Strain says

    My 2 boys never had any sort of rivalry that I can think of. I don’t know what we did right except try to be very fair about everything. They are only 2.5 years apart but I can’t remember them having any issues with each other. They are now 26 & 28. Again, I’m not sure how this happened! (But I’m so glad!)

  12. Yvonne Mitchell (Blue) says

    Anne-Marie

    First oh my goodness what an adorable family you have, and you are too funny lol those sibling rivalry may just be the obvious; boy/girl and big brother/little sister, after all he did have you first :) but as another person commented allowing both children to spend time with you simultaneously they are able to see how you encourage the sharing, they watch everything even when you think they aren’t, trust me they are.
    Well at least your’s can grow together there are 25 yrs between my daughter and my son, yep you read correctly she just turned 30 1-8 and my son will be 5 in September :o (menopause is a tricky little phenomenon) I’m 51 and my husband is 56 to top it all off he and our son share a birthday my son is 9-9-09 and daddy is 9-9-57 lmol we wouldn’t change nor trade him for the world!!

    I am new at soaping and love love your page, blog, recipes video’s, well I just love you!! I enjoy pottery if you haven’t tried that please do and the children can attend workshops with you, unlike glass blowing (which would terrify me as well) it’s very relaxing and so easy to re-shape if a mistake is made.
    Well I’ve taken up enough of typing space always looking forward to your next idea!!
    Yvonne

    • says

      WOW! That is such a huge age spread for your kiddos. Your little 5 year old is going to keep you young, young, young. That is so fun. =)

      I love the idea of pottery. I remember doing it at the community center when I was a kid and really liking it so that sounds like something super fun for the entire family to do when Jamisen gets just a tinch older.

      I’m so glad that you found soapmaking as a hobby. It’s a lovely consumable art form and you’ll never be without hostess gifts now for the rest of your life. =)

  13. Kelly says

    What a beautiful family! Thank you for sharing! I got into soaping because I stumbled upon your wonderful blog one day. Now I am hooked!

    My hubby and I have 5 children together, 7 total. We eat very healthy, most of it home grown. My kids will eat almost anything, and I think that is mainly because we started them on anything and everything VERY early. Don’t be afraid to experiment with things that you don’t like. Your children just may like them!

    An example… I am not really a fish person. Sushi, yes. Cooked fish, no. One of my 5 year old twins ADORES sardines. They are very healthy and my husband loves them, so one day when the twins were about a year old, I took a chance and offered sardines to them both. One was hooked right from the get go. The other? Not so much. You really never know!

    I used to puree avocado and smoked salmon with a little lime and sea salt, and that was the favorite baby food amongst 3 of 7 our kids. Most of them still enjoy a very diverse diet (although my teenagers are now going through the “picky” phase).
    I am full of healthy meal ideas for all ages!

    • says

      Oooooh, that sounds amazing. Avocado + smoked salmon + lime just sounds awesome. I will completely try that this weekend. Hopefully tomorrow if I have a lime in the house. I know I have the salmon + avocado…. that even sounds yummy to eat myself! =)

      I’m so glad that you got hooked on soaping. You’ll never have to worry about buying a housewarming or hostess gift again!

      And, you, my dear, are amazing. Seven kids between the two of you? I can’t imagine! I’m barely keeping my head above water with just the two little ones. =)

  14. says

    I’ve just been reading about glass blowing classes. We watched some cool glass blowing on “How its Made” with our kids. The molten glass looks so cool but that’s from the safety of my living room.

    My tips for avoiding sibling rivalry is to include both of them in activities with you together. It’s nice to plan special one on one time, but let them learn to work cooperatively with you at tasks like cooking, cleaning, and crafting with some extra praise when they help each other and they will get along great!

    • says

      I’m hoping that it will continue to get better as Lily is able to play with Jamisen. Right now, when I get home from work, he runs to me and says “Mommy, hold me! hold me!” because he knows I’ll go over and pick her up (a natural since she can’t walk!). It’s definitely a mind game to try to make them both feel special. =)

      The molten glass scared me enough that the glass blowing teacher was like, “Are you okay?” because I was holding the glass blowing tool so tightly. =)

    • says

      Oh my goodness, I have ‘It’s Pajama Time’ and ‘The Belly Button Book’ memorized. We have a few of her other books but those are the favorites right now. I think part of the reason I keep buying more books is for ME because I’m craving new plot lines, no matter how simplistic they are =)

      • Sara says

        Oh! Ohhhhhh! You have to read “Barnyard Dance”!!! I swear, I laughed every single time I read it because I could NOT help myself from saying it in a square dancing announcer’s voice, hahahaha!

    • says

      Her brother decided he wanted to jump on the bed with Lily tonight. So, I helped her “jump” while he really jumped. And every time they fell down (she had a more gentle landing than he did), she would rock back onto all fours. She’s pretty close. And part of my heart is a little sad because I know that’s the end of baby time and the beginning of toddler time …

      • Tess says

        Yep… and toddler time leads to full fledged kid time! As i read your post, with jumping on the bed, i couldn’t help but think of our kids doing the same. But then when our son was 5 on a trampoline with a bunch of kids, i guess the laws of physics changed some. From what i gather, he was jumping up & crossing his legs in mid air Indian style and when he came down, evidently he caught the weight/bounce of all the other kids coming up which somehow resulted in a Tib/Fib fracture. Will never forget that day! My neighbor called and said Bobby had a broken leg. I asked – how do you know? It’s bent… They are medical folks so i called 911 before i even left the house. Bobby was immobile for a long time and in long/short leg casts for what seemed forever. His doc said “push the milkshakes”! Well, when Bobby wasn’t looking, his 2 year old sister confiscated most everyone of those shakes and there wasn’t much he could do as he watched her run away with his sweet/healing treats! That was the beginning of sibling rivalry! In time, Bobby recovered just fine and no matter what, always loves his little sister! Sorry this was so long, but, I’m sure you all can picture the moments!

  15. Michael G. says

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with well rounded crafty interests. It always bleeds over into each other and makes everything more special. I think I’ve done just about everything there is except for stained glass – was all set to attend a class and then had shoulder replacement – long boring story…. I sew and quilt, I paint, ceramics, scrapbooks, ornaments and Christmas crafts, just no time for everything. I also decorate cakes and am planning to do some soap piping now. Too much fun.

    • says

      I’ve tried stained glass many years ago at a community center. I remember realizing that in order to do it really well, I’d have to spend some serious time learning it! I wonder whatever happened to that project I made? Undoubtedly in a box someplace since I am the worst at purging.

      You are so lucky that you are good at decorating cakes. I’ve taken classes (primarily to learn for soaping, of course) and it’s not a skill that comes naturally. I’m envious! =)

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