For the coming Mother’s Day, some members of the Etsy community share their inspiring mother-child stories. Kim Lapacek, a.k.a. KimsCraftyApple and TheApple, is an artist of many mediums, from quilts to jewelry to many things in between. Trained in civil engineering, she has decided to stay home to raise her two little girls and help run the family apple orchard just north of Madison, WI, in the small town of Poynette.
Annie Young, a.k.a. annieyoungarts, is an artistic topographist. As a new grandmother, Annie attempts to balance her time between volunteering for non-profits, training for her next triathlon, participating in beepball, blogging and establishing herself as a multi-dimensional artist. Annie also loves to travel with her husband, Jim.
How did you find each other?
Kim: I always knew I was adopted. While not recalling how they told me, it is clear my parents did a fabulous job because I always felt wanted. Still, I longed to find my birth parents — mom in particular. Knowing my birthplace was Rochester, MN, when my parents made a trip to the Mayo Clinic, at 18 I asked my mom to help me find the social worker, which she did without any hesitation.
After many months the social worker was able to locate Annie. I was in college at the time (studying the same major at the same university as my birth father — civil engineering at University of Wisconsin!) and a letter showed up one day. The handwriting on the card was my handwriting. The card was handmade — something I would do. My roommates all agreed: this was pretty crazy.
A few months later, and after exchanging several letters, I received a call from my half-brother who said Annie was going blind and really wanted to see me. My now husband and I took a trip to Minnesota during winter break to meet Annie, and we’ve been in contact since.
Kim and her Mom
The first time I saw Annie after she lost her sight completely, I was extremely nervous, as her condition is hereditary and could happen to me someday. I thought it would freak me out. It was completely the opposite! We met Annie at a restaurant in the middle of Minneapolis. Her independence and confidence was inspiring — she navigates the bus system with ease, is able to read Braille to order from the menu, and she is anything but needy.
Now to see the paintings she creates by touch and feel — all I can say is “Wow!” Her memories are so strong and powerful; she is sure to touch many others with the work she does.
Annie: I remember coming back from an incredible European cruise that Jim, my husband, organized when we learned I was going blind. I was going through our voicemail messages, and one was from my very excited, almost frantic sounding mom. So I called her and she said, “You have to get to Rochester right away, there is a letter here with your name on it.” My mind was still in Rome and I really had no idea where she was going with this clue. Before I argued the need for urgency, she continued, “And the handwriting looks just like yours!”
I think I must have turned white or something, because my husband Jim came up and said “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing, honey…” — I knew my little girl had found me. I was sitting with excitement and fear. What had life offered her? Joy? Pain? Health, success, struggle? Is this my time of judgment? I felt a bit weak in the knees, it was time for me to drop on them and pray — for guidance, forgiveness, grace, and peace.
I remember reading the letter, over and over, as best I could as my eyes were failing me. I asked Jim to read it to me several times. They named her Kim. Kimberly Ann. Nice, sweet. She sounds so happy. Smart! She had a great childhood. Close to her mom and brother, has lots of aunts and uncles! And her dad works for the IRS (so funny as she was born on tax day!) and has a great sense of humor; she so sounds like me.
Kim as a baby
She wanted information, information I was happy to provide. I wanted something too. I wanted to see her, but dare I ask? I didn’t have much time before I wouldn’t be able to, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask — not until she was ready. My eldest son was witness to my dilemma.
Unbeknownst to me, he contacted Kim. I don’t know what he said, but she and Jared came for a visit. When Kim stepped out of that vehicle in our driveway and started walking up to our front door, the world starting spinning in slow motion. I could hear my heart beating in sync with my breath. She was so incredibly beautiful and her smile lit up our neighborhood. She was so entirely disarming, walking with joy and grace.
Kim and Annie’s first meeting
When did each of you begin creating?
Kim: Like most artists, I have been creating for as long as I can remember. My mom says, “You were always a little out there with a wild imagination.” The first “artsy” item I recall making was a little quilt for my big brother’s birthday, sewn using the fabric from the rag bin, including the furry toilet seat cover! My parents always nurtured pursuing “ideas.” When I would request a new supply material, middle school art teachers assured them I would not waste it. I will be forever grateful for that.
Annie: As a pre-teen, my mom tasked me to finish a quilt my grandma started before losing her eyesight. The squares were a little off, but with mom’s help we made it work. I remember feeling quite accomplished, loving the simplicity and randomness of the pattern and colors. Many hours were spent designing my next quilt. Soon I was making my own clothes.
Around age 30, while sharing with mom how cool it was that I was “talented” at sewing so young, thinking that if I made mistakes I would have gotten frustrated and given up, she said, “Oh you made mistakes, I just didn’t tell you about them.” What a mom!
How did your mutual love for creativity play a role in getting to know one another?
Kim: I think our creativity gave us a basis for us to start. Sharing a common interest helped us to avoid awkward silences and made the initial meeting more comfortable. Since then we have also discovered that we both come up with our best ideas in our dreams!
Annie: It offered an opportunity for us to start the dialogue and share what was in front of us. As we were exploring our similarities and differences, this was a great place to converse. I enjoyed getting advice and ideas on quilting techniques, sharing apple recipes or canning ideas.
How do you influence each other in your work?
Kim: Since Annie has lost her sight it has made me appreciate texture in art even more. I made a crazy quilted purse and my main thought was texture when I picked out the fabrics. When I looked at the pile of fabric together I worried how it would look — I knew it would feel amazing, but wasn’t sure about the colors. After the bag was completed, my husband said, “You made that?!” The purse looked amazing and was fun to close your eyes and feel. I have started to add more fibers to my quilts. It’s been a fun challenge to see if people can feel as well as see the beauty of my work.
Annie: For Christmas I painting a picture of an apple tree which was inspired by our visit to Lapaceks’ Orchard, owned by Kim and Jared. I am looking forward to creating an entire apple tree series inspired by the orchard!
What do you gain from sharing in your creativity?
Kim: This may sound weird, but I’ve gained some confidence. It’s not just “crazy Kim making something again.” Now it’s, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Annie: Kim is my go-to gal for Etsy, if I ever have a question, she’s the one. She helps me promote my shop and led me to my first sale; she’s my cheerleader. I like to be challenged “beyond” the creative box I sit upon, even if that means I fall off! I love the improbable and the challenge and the celebration at the finish is indescribable. I think we both share this creative entrepreneurship and ambition.
Annie talks to guests at an art show
Anything else you’d like to share?
Annie: When Kim wrote me that she submitted us for this mother-daughter post without first asking me if it that was alright, you’d might have thought I’d be upset. I laughed. I thought, oh no, she is so like me! (Shoot from the hip and deal with the consequences later… whenever that will be.) The ready, fire, aim approach serves to describe how I look to move ahead with an idea, get excited and just go for it. I know Kim has that same passion. I love talking with Kim and I am always left with a smile on my face. She has so much positive energy to give!
Kim: Annie’s and my story is one of hope. Hope to those young mothers who did the hardest thing imaginable — gave up their child because they knew they would not be able to give him or her the life they deserved. I am proof that the home I was placed in gave me all the love and opportunities I needed to become the person I am today. I will be forever grateful to Annie for doing what she did — after having two girls of my own I know the strength it had to take to make that decision. At the same time I am so blessed to have been put into the family I was — my parents gave me so much and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them.
Kim, her husband Jared, and their two daughters