Today the mama of the week is the bento-queen herself, Wendy Copley. You may remember when I introduced you to her blog last year, but today I'm excited to share some words from Wendy herself! Wendy lives in Northern California with her husband and two adorable boys, Wyatt and August. She is a bit of a jill-of-all-trades when it comes to crafting, dipping into everything from marmalade making, scrapbooking, sewing, baking, and photography to name a few. I also love Wendy for her sense of humor and candidness in her blog--she's always looking at the bright side of mamahood (even in the midst of pneumonia). She is one amazing mama and I'm so happy to introduce you to her! Here's my interview with Wendy:
What came first for you, craftiness or mamahood? How have they impacted each other?
My craftiness definitely came first! I've been a crafter since I was a little girl and different crafts have figured prominently in my life at different stages. Having children has reduced the amount of time I have to work on my craft projects, of course, but the bigger impact has probably been on what type of craft projects I do. I'm much more likely to sew clothes for softies for my boys than I am to sew something for myself now and I scrapbook about the kids a lot more frequently too.
What inspired you to start bento-ing, and what motivates you to come up with so many creative ideas with food?
I started bento-ing when my husband bought me a Mr. Bento for Christmas a few years ago. I had seen bento boxes online before and found them to be quite lovely, but it wasn't until I had my own box to pack that I really got into it. I rarely do anything half-way, so I started studying the bento groups on Flickr to see what sort of techniques were being used and then I incorporated those into the lunches I was packing. I really started having fun with it when I started packing lunches for my boys. I'm inspired to try new things based on their likes and interests and by new products I find. I love that bento lunches are a way to incorporate a little creativity into my everyday chores. Packing lunches could be a repetitive and boring task but this way it's fun!
What does a typical weekday look like for you?
I get up with my boys around 7:00 or so and then we immediately throw ourselves into the morning rush of making beds, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. I usually pack the lunches while I'm putting breakfast together and I'll often put the same fruits in the lunch boxes that I serve at breakfast to save myself a little effort. When I'm really on my game, I pack the lunches the night before and then I only have to add a few last items -- crackers or other items that would get soggy in the fridge over night. After I get my older son out the door to school, I take a shower and do some stuff around the house. My two-year-old goes to daycare two days per week, so those middle hours look pretty different on those days vs. the others.
On daycare days, I'll try to take care of errands, bigger cleaning projects and do some writing. Freelance writing projects take priority, personal blogging projects come next. I do photo shoots for articles and blog posts on these days as well. On days when my little guy is home with me I also do the regular household chores, but I try to do something fun too: a trip to a park or museum or a craft or gardening project. Once I pick my big kid up from school we have a snack and then if the weather is nice we spend some time in the yard. I start dinner around 6:00 and try to have it on the table by 6:30 or 7:00. Then the kids go into the bath and get ready for bed. After they're asleep, I spend a few hours playing on the computer, reading or watching a little tv with my husband. I go to bed far too late -- usually around midnight or so. [Phwew! That was really long!]
What are your biggest challenges as a crafty mama?
The hardest part for me is definitely finding time for crafting. I find that it's really difficult to work on any projects with a two-year-old around because he gets into everything. Since a lot of the tools I use are dangerous for a little kid -- scissors, Xacto knives, pins and needles -- I have to watch him closely and I spend more time on that than I do on my project.
How do you “find the balance” between blogging, crafting, and spending time with your family?
This is a tough one for me and it's something I've been working on lately. I find it's really easy to get sucked into my computer and spend too much time hacking on photos, blog posts and social media. I've been trying to limit my computer time to times when my kids are out of the house or asleep so I can really focus on them when we're together. Instead I try to do my blogging and crafting on the days when they are at school/day care or after they go to bed and I often will plan ahead so I can use that time as efficiently as possible.
What are your favorite crafty projects to do with your boys?
My boys don't really enjoy structured craft projects very much, so I keep art time with them pretty loosey goosey. They do really like to draw though so when we get out the paper and colored pencils I'll sometimes pull out some other materials -- rubber stamps, pipe cleaners, yarn -- to add to my own drawing and that will get them interested in working with them. The one big project we all really enjoy though is decorating a gingerbread house at Christmas time.
What advice would you give to other crafty mamas out there looking to find their own creative outlet?
Since my biggest challenge is finding time to craft, I'm just going to assume that's a problem for some other moms too. :) I highly recommend looking for ways to inject small doses of creativity into your daily routine. For me, that means packing fun lunches or ignoring the dishes in the sink and joining in when my kids are drawing with sidewalk chalk. I've also found that small chunks of craft time -- 10 or 15 minutes here and there -- are much easier to come by than big blocks of time, so I whip out a few rows of crochet or do a little work on a scrapbook page when I find a few spare minutes. Honestly, those little blocks of time aren't as satisfying to me as having an entire afternoon to craft, but I'll take what I can get.
What are you working on now?
My six-year-old's best friend is moving away in a few months, so I've started working on two small scrapbooks of photos of the two of them together. I'm currently gathering the photos, but when I get all the pictures together and put in the books, I'll ask my son to contribute some drawings and notes to his buddy, too. Then each boy will get their own book to help ease them into the change and have something to remember each other by.