As we work on the final details of the kickstarter this week before Friday’s launch, we wanted to invite you into our lives in the moments when we are not writing and illustrating. Here is a peak into our silly, blurried worlds. Welcome.
Where do you live?
Laura: My first home, a little yellow farm house, was built between acres of corn and wheat fields in the small town of Woodburn, Indiana. Though I’ve lived in a handful of other cities and am currently making my home in Cincinnati, Ohio, I still feel the ties to that little midwestern farm. Memories of the barn with its rope swing, the persnickety chickens in the henhouse, and a gaggle of other farm animals, each with their own personalities, continue to stir my imagination.
Betsy: I have lived in four out of the six states that made up the territory of the Northwest Ordinance of 1785, and thus I consider myself resoundly midwestern. Minneapolis, MN currently is home to me. Imagine two conflicting images at the same time: I live both in the frozen north and in the urban center, so we spend our days in a bizarre and wonderful neighborhood where the vast majority our neighbors come from the hot, sunny equatorial regions of the world, yet we experience temperatures below -30 degrees every January and February.
Are you married or do you have any kids? What are their names?
Laura: I am married to David, the brave leader of our family. We have only one other member at the moment–our one-year-old son, named William. Just like his father, William possesses heaps of charm and a bewildering affinity for danger. As a trio, we enjoy the great outdoors in the spring and summertime and during the colder months, football, football, and football with an occasional trip to my favorite spot, the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Betsy: I am quite happily married to Zach Howard, who is in his last year of his M.Div. program at Bethlehem College & Seminary. We have one delightful one-year-old named Molly. She is full of life and spunk. She loves people (as in we go to the grocery store when she is having a grumpy day, so that we can wave at all the strangers). And she loves books– pulling them off the shelf, opening them, paging through them, then chucking them behind her. It is becoming a morning ritual.
What do you primarily do all day?
Laura: Oh dear. Do I have to answer? Let’s see… well, that little person whom my husband and I live with gets into an awful lot of trouble morning noon and night, so I spend a great deal of time chasing him around, reading to him, clothing him, feeding him, bathing him, and re-clothing him all over again. It’s marvelous. I really do mean that. William is a wonder to me, and it’s an exhausting but exhilarating privilege to be his mother. In the quieter moments of my day, I attempt to make our home clean and pleasant. I also daydream more than I ought and paint less than I’d like.
Betsy: As a mom and teacher in Minnesota, I spend all day living out the book of Ecclesiastes, merrily but futilely pushing swings that, due to entropy, eventually swing to a stop, turning the pages of books again and again and again, and contributing hundreds of missing commas to the spaces between independent clauses to assist their struggling fellow conjunctions.
And the snow. Yes. I shovel lots of snow.
Why write stories?
Betsy: I suppose it is because I have been born and raised on them. It is like the Wisconsin cheese and milk I grew up on: that calcium has built my bones Now I want to share the goodness I have been given. As that I am weaning my first child, this cycle feels all the more real to me: eat and enjoy, become strong, and overflow to others with gifts.
Laura: Because what else would a mother with a little girl full of daydreams give her daughter but a brush, an easel, and an old tin of watercolor paints? “Here sweetheart, put it all to paper.” I come from a long line of creative-types on my mother’s side, and I will forever be grateful for her encouragement in the arts. I also believe that we all carry with us the imago Dei, the mark of our maker. As children look like their father, we too look like our Heavenly Father. As he created all for our good, he has given us the ability to create for the good of others. I paint because I want to please my Father. I want to make good and beautiful works for the enjoyment of others.
What do you do in your free time?
Laura: Painting aside, my hobbies include reading, sweating through hot yoga classes, cooking, and baking. Minus the hot yoga, that answer makes me sound like a 1920’s housewife, so I will also add that my big dreams are to hike the Grand Canyon and someday master the art of glassblowing. I’ve also dabbled in woodburning, ceramics, and sculpture. David and I try to spend as much time with friends and family as possible, so those big dreams may have to wait.
Betsy: I love to work with my hands. Most of the time this means woodworking, refinishing, painting, or making other such messes. I feel most alive when I am solving practical problems or restoring things that are broken and ugly with solutions that are both functional and elegant. Given the fact that our house was built in 1906, there seem to be endless things to fix. It also means that most of our furniture in our house is repurposed: our headboard is an old, swinging pantry door, our dining room table is a former art-nouveau executive’s desk, and our dish hutch is a former workbench with drill holes in the top. Last night I took a jigsaw to a dilapidated, but beautiful crib to salvage the rails and use them as legs for an antique chair.
I also enjoy filling our table with lots of people and cooking hot, tasty food. Zach and I desire to live in intentional community with others, so this usually means lots of eating with neighbors, friends, and the other eight people who live in our big, old Victorian house with us.
What were your favorite/and or least favorite subjects when you were younger?
Laura: My least favorite subject was Chemistry. As soon as I heard the term “moles,” I was miles away dreaming about the Wind in the Willows. Biology, however, specifically human anatomy, was my jam. It probably had to do with all those beautiful illustrations in my biology books.
Betsy: Literature has always been jolly fun for me. I still cannot believe that I now get paid to teach books. I was terrified of math for years and years, and it wasn’t until I was a senior in college taking Calculus that I realized just how marvelous mathematics was. I was ready to start college all over and major in math… but somehow my parents weren’t too keen on that idea.
What or who inspires you?
Laura: Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking inspires me to cultivate beauty and exercise artistry in every area of life. I admire how she found opportunities to create loveliness even in the most mundane aspects of the home. Oops! There I go again sounding like a 1920’s house wife.
Betsy: I deeply admire the role of women recounted in Eric Metaxas’ new book: Seven Women: and the Secret of their Greatness. Growing up I was drawn in particular to the courage and faith of Betsie and Corrie TenBoom. In fact, long ago, I even hoped that my college roommate would be named Corrie so that we could call ourselves the TenBoom Room.
What’s echoing around in your brain these days?
Laura: I just discovered the sweetest stationery boutique called Poeme in Hyde Park. Everything within this shop’s four walls lovely in every way imaginable. As I wandered in, I was filled with joy at the thought that each card represented an artist who is making a livelihood by spinning out beauty. How wonderful that we live in a society that appreciates beauty and artistry even in the smallest possible forms!
Betsy: Right now, I can't stop thinking about the opening narrative sequence of Genesis—probably because I just finished teaching it as literature to my sophomores. I am still tripping over patters of “good,” “good,” “good,” “very good,” and the often-forgotten “not good” of Genesis 2 which seem to work together in a text to present a God who overflows to his creation. When a text plays duck-duck-gooses with me, I just get up and run around in circles. I can’t help myself.
Special Thanks to photographer Hannah Wegmann for the beautiful Parisian photo!