break, balance.

by Liz on 06.02

Husband and son are gone for the day, as they had been all of last week.

Josh kicked off Monday by offering to help his dad with a few things on their property, Jr tagging along for a visit to Grandmom. But as these things go, one little house project revealed a bigger need for a larger project, and so on, until eventually it’s Friday and Josh is walking in the door, sweaty, grass-stained, paint-covered and I’m asking, “And you are…?”

It’s a nice change of pace for us, so accustomed to being huddled inside together all day, everyday. For Josh, it seems cathartic to do something active and physical and productive after so many months of digitally tweaking minuscule hand-drawn lines and adjusting shades of color ever so slightly. He seems recharged by that grunting, lifting, outdoor sort of work the way I’m invigorated by a swift, thorough cleaning of the house.

And so that was the intention of this week. The cleaning, I mean. And I started out well. Coffee brewing, music loud, windows thrown open as the lemony, soapy smells of a cleaning rampage start to form an almost discernible cloud.

But the whole cleaning thing lost its novelty fairly quickly. With the house mostly-clean, there wasn’t the same motivation or sense of accomplishment in actually cleaning it. Tuesday on sort of devolved into folding a random pair of shorts here and there while sprawled in bed with Twitter open, to finally just smashing junk food into my face (verboten when grabby-handed toddler is around), tossing the wrapper where it may lie, and curling up for a midday nap, no pretense of “taking a break” from “so much hard work.” Josh would come home exhausted from a full day of manual labor, carting the boy, a sticky, cranky mess from too many sweets and snuggles. And, my plastic wrappers and trashy internet articles neatly hidden away, I would brattily writhe in bed whining how we never doooo anything any more and I’m just soooo boooored.

I sometimes moan about how busy we are, but I’ll reluctantly admit that busy-ness tends to keep me in line. Without hard and fast deadlines squashed with a million things to do between, I fall into some gross (if also luxurious and wonderful) habits.

After so much lolling and dawdling, the weekend graciously and unexpectedly allowed me some free time to spend with those two smooshy faces I’d grown to miss. Farmer’s market, iced latte walk, grilled vegetables and impromptu picnic, then soft serve from the ice cream truck. Normal-people pleasures involving things like showering in advance and wearing pants and blinking into the sunlight of the outdoors. It straightened me back into something resembling human.

Now, again kissing the cheeks of two sweet faces goodbye, I’m hoping these next five days allow me to find that sacred middle ground. Somewhere between the grout-scrubbing and the mid-day lounging, there has to be a happy place of productivity and comfort both, that I’m determined to find.

After this creamsicle.





by Liz on 03.18

Little J is already (already!) at an age that demands we begin seriously talking about preschools for the fall.

School is a sort of scary thing for me, which I’m sure is no surprise. I’ve faced each of his new phases with dubious resistance and blogpost navel-gazing. Why would school be any different?

Though I have my nights of sweaty terror, my real fears aren’t really Law and Order or Nightly News-based. Excluding a few panicky moments, I’m less worried about the dramatic and extreme, and more worried about just… life stuff. This is the beginning of a whole world full of things outside of my protective grip. Kids and their mean jokes, embarrassing mistakes in front of jeering classrooms, impatient teachers who maybe won’t fully understand just how sweet and special he is. All of the little quirks and ticks that are just his, things that I find so endearing- what if they’re just fodder for teasing and cruel nicknames?

The teacher encourages us to set aside a day to visit the school as a sort of test-run, making sure it’s a good fit, feeling out his little comfort levels. We pick a day, put him in some new pants, and pack a lunch.

I drop him off and linger in the doorway, watching as he runs to sit at a squat table full of other kids his size. I force a grin and wave goodbye, squelching worries that he won’t be understood, that he won’t fit in, or (maybe the worst), that he won’t fit in and won’t realize it. Of course I want my kid to march to the beat of his own drum and feel empowered to be his own person. But I also sort of hope that “own person” is just normal enough to scrape by without any traumatic taunting.

At the end of the day, we pick him up. He bounds out the front door, turning back to wave as all the kids on the playground call, “Bye Josh!” The teacher hands me a stack of construction paper projects still tacky with gluestick, and pulls me aside. She smiles, explaining that all of the kids were running a race in the grass and one little girl tripped and fell over. All of the other kids- small, oblivious, intent on their own place in the race- ran around her, or hopped over, or quickly sidestepped her. Just Little J stopped mid stride, bending to the girl to ask, “Are you okay?”

So, yeah, this story was partly a bald excuse to just brag about my son on the internet. But I also had a bit of a moment there, as I do when I’m in these navel-gazey modes. I’ve been so concerned that I need to protect my little son from outside unknowns, I never considered that maybe he could be the kind of kid who protects other kids. I worry about not being there to help him, and instead, he’s already helping others.

Maybe school won’t be so bad.

Besides, I survived being called Lizardbreath just fine. Hardly even think about it any more.






by Liz on 03.03

After a year of big plans for Betsy Ann Paper, we had one very specific goal for this year:

Lay low.

Our next Big Step in the ever growing, ever changing list is to hit the National Stationery Show. But, we knew that would mean a lot of preparation, a lot of planning… frankly, a lot of cash. So, 2015 NSS, here we come! Til then, we’d planned to spend a year focusing our energies on making that possible.

Then, I was invited to attend.


The National Stationery Show gives us the ability to personally meet retailers from all over the country. It provides the chance to end up on shelves in small independent shops, all the way to big retail chains. It legitimizes our small business to all of the big guys. On top of all of that, accepting this invitation to come this year instead of next, means that we’ll be specially featured as up-and-coming artists. It’s an amazing opportunity- one that we just can’t pass up at this stage in our growing business. But, one that also came up just a bit sooner than we planned. Three months is a short amount of time to work out all of the logistics of catalog printing, booth building, getting our butts to NYC. But it’s an incredibly short amount of time to raise the money that would make all of that possible.

With highest hopes, we’ve pulled together a Kickstarter. It’s still a pretty tall order- only 25 days to raise $3,000, and that’ll just cover the bare minimum booth fee. There’s still so much more to do! But we’re confident that, with a push, we can really make this happen, and really make it worth it.

If you have a chance and the ability, it would be super terrific awesome of you to contribute. Backers get all sort of good things (stationeryyyy), plus that happy-fuzzy feeling. If contributing personally isn’t in the cards (haaaa. cards), I’d really appreciate your help passing the link along and spreading the word! We’re incredibly grateful for the many kinds of support we’ve received over the last few years, and we’re excited to take this next step.