Monday, June 29, 2015

Green and Trees (both Family and Naturally Occuring)...

I have mixed feelings about being home from this big trip. Notice I don't say "vacation". This was a trip where we saw family and participated in different things. 

By definition, vacation means "an extended period of recreation and relaxation...especially one spent away from home or in traveling." Sure, there was some extended periods of recreation and we spent time away from home and traveled. 

But relaxation? Um...hard to really find it in there with three kids in tow. 

In fact, here is something that foreshadowed how the term "vacation" wasn't exactly going to be part of the process: 

The day before we left on this journey, I was chatting online with a client and this is what Mikelle comes in the room to tell me:

"Mom, Christian put Alexander in a suitcase and now the zipper is stuck..."
 

Sadly, the thought that went through my mind is "do I need to go in there?" 

But no, I didn't. The situation ratified itself in about two minutes. Turns out, one of the zippers on the two zipper suitcase got destroyed in the process to free the precious cargo. No crying, panicking or lack of oxygen occurred. Chris later wasn't pleased with the zipper's conclusion, but I told him it was better for that to be the solution to the problem instead of me having to go there and deal with it. 

Don't get me wrong. There was fun and some nice relaxing moments on this trip, such as when Chris and I took Alexander back to the beach house after everyone else was seeing "Inside Out" in Newport (Alexander in a movie theater? Yeah, we've covered that already...) and Alexander fell asleep on the way back to the beach house so the three of us crashed for a nice naptime. So yes, that was one of those "relaxing" moments.

Then there was the following day when everyone went back to Newport to check out the tide pools at Yaquina Head (I LOVE that place...as detailed from this blog entry when Alexander and I traveled up there alone August 2011...) but this time, I had to stay behind to work on client artwork. Sure, I was working, but it still had that relaxation and vacation feel. 

This was my view from the balcony. Because of the breeze in the air, a light hoodie sweatshirt was required due to that little windchill. Perfection.
But  let's back up to when we finally arrived in Waldport on Fathers Day afternoon. Chris received a lovely traffic ticket a few hours earlier in the seaside community of Bandon (yeah, Happy Fathers Day to you too, officer!) and we stopped in Yachats (just south of Waldport) for a late lunch at the Blue Whale Diner

Because it was Fathers Day, Chris presented his Dad with this Family Tree artwork that I was officially commissioned by Chris to create. It had been done for about a month now, but I did have to keep it out of public view until the recipient was finally gifted the artwork.  However, once everyone saw it, I was able to officially post it.

Chris arranged anyone who wanted a print of the artwork to receive one during that very trip, as per a nice small and accommodating print shop in Newport. Chris's dad was to be given the original, but he doesn't really have the wall space for it. So instead, we got him a 16x20 print, and in the meantime, we'll frame the original and keep it for now.  

Anyway, here are the family pictures taken at the beach house in Waldport. Alexander was a tough sell with the pictures. When the timer light indicated that it was about to take the shot, he would look away because he's a turd.
Therefore, the strange face I am making in this second picture was to keep him interested in a boat on top of the TV so he'd look forward for the picture. So I took one for the team in an effort for him to keep looking forward. I think we also talked about a banana on the boat and a shark attacking the boat in the hopes to keep him looking that direction.
Thankfully for the goofy third picture, Megan was on the case to tickle him and make sure he was still present for the picture. Good job, Megan! In the third goofy picture, Christian's face seems to have vanished completely. But his legs are flaying about! Luckily Hana's head on a steeeek blocked a crotch shot.
I have a lot of pictures on my fancy Canon, but until I get those downloaded, here are a few more from the good ol' iPad (or Chris's iPhone or pictures taken by other family members):
6/22/15...Boys at Mo's in Newport. Alexander being aloof with pictures...again!
Breakfast! 6/23/15
More Breakfast! 6/22/15 AND 6/23/15

So cute with the three of them looking innocent and at peace.... Evening of 6/21/15...The evening we arrived.
6/21/15...I hugged the sign. Yes I did. I was honked at by some guy driving into California.
San Francisco Thursday 6/19/15
This picture below is the quintessential road trip picture. Look at Christian's face! He was much happier the following day when we went to the Tech Museum in San Jose! Yes, it would be a bit of a back track in our progression to Oregon, but we had to change our Bay Area schedule around a bit to accommodate sleep and sanity. Christian was thrilled to finally make it to the Tech Museum. It was just a day later than we originally planed, so he wasn't too thrilled that he had to wait that extra day. 

By the way, air temperature in San Francisco? 65 Degrees.
6/19/15
Dashboard temperature of 57 heading across the Golden Gate Bridge for a second time on 6/20/15:
Again, heartbreaking to leave. Like the Oregon Coast, San Francisco and I belong together. But sadly, life is cruel.

Anyway, this isn't the end of the vacation (I mean trip) pictures or tales of beauty and stops along the way. Like I said, I have many of pictures on the Canon to download. However, this is pretty much it for this blog entry.

We rolled back into AZ late Saturday night. On one hand, it's good to have it behind us so we can concentrate on moving to the new house and all the other things that need to be accomplished. On the other hand, there are so many more beautiful and cooler places out there that people live (as referenced from the pictures above), and yet, we're stuck where two digit temperatures in the summer are rare. The Oregon Coast rarely makes it into the 70s in the summer. Inland it can warm up, and heat waves can be frustrating, but those heatwaves don't last all summer.

However, I will say that for living in the heat, we do live in a beautiful desert. I have made that known before. Driving through the Mohave Desert to get home and passing through some communities showed me that it could be so much worse. Some of those desert areas have no beauty at all. It's like the surface of the moon. Thankfully, the Sonoran Desert offsets the heat with the beauty. However, I have said many times that I appreciate that beauty a lot more in the winter

As for the new house, we stopped there late Saturday night when we arrived in town. It was so exciting! Roof tiles done. Exterior paint and trim done. Concrete for garage driveway and front door is completed. Inside, the air conditioning is on, all fans and light fixtures are up. Yes, even the awesome laundry room chandelier! Woo Hoo! Kitchen and bathroom cabinets are in. No appliances, flooring or toilets (plumbing) yet, but we are so close. I wish I could just put superfluous clothing in all the closets now as it won't affect the flooring, but since there isn't a certificate of occupancy yet, they may get cranky about that. But oh, it would be so nice to get those little tasks done! 

More pictures from the trip AND the new house to come...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Before the Miles to Escape Mordor (with 2 Minions)...


Sunday June 14, 2015
Hoping hoping hoping we are moving into our new house at the end of the month upon our return from our Oregon trip. I've managed to muster up some active optimism and get these two originals onto mattes. These are quite the accomplishments since often when artworks are completed, if the originals are not commissioned by others, they tend to be rolled and stored away. Having them on mattes preserves them better and they won't be forgotten as easily.

A couple of days earlier, I sent off important commissioned piece of artwork to a "pea friend" (a small readership of my already tiny blog following will know what that means) in Texas for her to have in her convalescence post major surgery. This was a fun piece to create - especially with the stained glass Spaghetti Monster and colorful chickens. lol

More creativity went down over the weekend. This morning I found these of Alexander's and had to scan them.  There's notebooks full of stuff like this from him. These are from yesterday evening. It's easy to spot his Minecraft and Team Umizoomi influences and characters.

Meanwhile, Minion cupcakes made a return. 

February was the last time I decided to get crafty with food. And before that? Years and years preceded any attempt. I didn't think I'd do it again in the same calendar year, but for some reason the minions came back.  Too much had been going on yesterday and I wasn't going to do these for the potluck after church today. I was working on two client artwork orders last night after running around with Chris doing errands. 

However, last night Chris emerged from the grocery store and he had made such an effort to obtain the supplies, that I knew the Minion Twinkies had to happen again. And this time there's little fish sprinkles on the cupcakes as if Bob, Kevin, Stuart and the other minions are swimming (or what they look like just before drowning). Chris even did the spikey hairs this time too. 


 
 
However, these minions were assembled after midnight due to extensive road trip planning for our Oregon trip that is to commence later this week.  Yay! 

It would be nice if we could all fly into Eugene for the family reunion, bask in the glory of the central coast 60s temperatures and pine trees, and then a few days later all of us fly back. But ... if you're in the middle of building a house, we had to be a little more creative than that. 

But the car won't be adorned with all three kids on this road trip. Nope. There's creativity and then there's insanity. We know our limits. 


Getting out here in the nick of time! Disgusting! I guess today/Sunday was the "nice" day....
Therefore, later this week, we're putting Mikelle on a plane and sending her up to Oregon early to hang with her grandparents.  But can she fly into Eugene where it's closer to the central coast? Nooooooo...... :eyeroll: 

Why? Allegiant doesn't do 'unaccompanied minors'. I think she has to be at least 16 before she can fly Allegiant alone. Therefore, that means flying Southwest into Portland. 

Meanwhile, after taking Mikelle to the airport, Chris and I and the boys will take our time and spend three days making our way up to Oregon. We'll hit the Tech Museum in San Jose and we are way overdue for a trip through San Francisco. I've been there twice, but I don't really count it. I've only been in area airports flying through (and my family went to a family reunion in Placerville in 1985 which is only a couple of hours away).  Therefore, it is clearly time to actually visit San Francisco. Too bad we won't have more time than just a quick pass-through. I'd like to think Chris and I can plan to separate trip up there in the near future. More optimism!
At the end of the family time in Oregon, it will be Christian's time to fly. Before officially making the three day road trip back home, we're going to put Christian on a plane back to Phoenix. So yes, we'll have to drive up to Portland for the same reason Mikelle had to fly into Portland initially. But our drive back home will contain a different route. I've always wanted to visit Crater Lake, so that'll be one of our first stops.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Monday June 15, 2015
Boy, did the heat hit with a vengeance today. If only we can leave on our trip a few days earlier!  Despite my difficulties acclimating to the heat, I didn't really hit that "point of pissiness" until around 4pm.  And it was rightfully triggered. A great injustice has been done. 

What am I talking about? Despite an ever changing world and important issues such education in this state being flushed down the toilet and voters continuing to elect miscreants (all the while the temperatures soar to uninhabitable levels this time of year), I knew I could always count on one thing - Dairy Queen. Not anymore. It was 110 today and after running around and making the AC in the car work its hardest and the heat brought on the typical nausea and exhaustion and the evil orb in the sky brought on a headache, I figured why not treat myself to an Oreo Brownie Earthquake? They're a high calorie indulgence, so I reserve it for the occasional need like today. 

And what was I told? That they don't have them anymore! That's ALL DQs. Not cool. Why don't we just paint over the cieling in the Sistine Chapel? Maybe knock over the Eiffel Tower to make room for a parking lot!  We wouldn't do that to classics, so the Oreo Brownie Earthquake should be no exception. 
And bringing back Minions for the conclusion, here is Alexander posing with some Minions at Summer Movie Fun's How to Train Your Dragon 2 this morning. Usually the Monday Summer movie thing is Chris's tradition with the kids. But he had to work today since we're leaving later this week. He clearly has a lot more patience than me to take the three kids by himself to a movie (Alexander being the main challenge of such an endeavor) every Monday morning during the summer. While I'm glad I was able to step in and take them this time, I'm also glad it's something that is mostly Chris's tradition!  

Hey, we all have our strengths. Taking the three kids alone to the summer movie every Monday is clearly not one of mine! lol
Until next time! Probably post trip! Here's hoping our move-in will commence upon that return! 




Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Umbrellas In the Storm

As we're finally coming to the end of this house building process (well, more like close to the end...), and the interior painting inside seems to be a never ending journey and annoyance, my heart and mind is heavy.  Don't get me wrong. The house is anticipated with excitement and forever gratitude. But sometimes the journey to make it to that summit is met with storms and avalanches.

It's complicated. The stress, worry and heartbreaks that come with life is weighing down on me.  After all, life still goes on despite the climb to the ultimate goal. It doesn't take a hiatus.

The tears are like a deluge or in some cases, they may even just hang there like virga and fail to materialize into tears, but they're still building up in the thunderclouds behind the eyes.

I will say, there are a few things that have helped. They may seem like nothing in the grand scheme of things, but in the day to day anvil that seems to set up camp on my chest and head, it's a big deal. These are like the umbrellas to carry despite the heavy winds and rain in the storm.

- A Groupon for a couple's massage that I found. Sure, we'll have to drive over 60 miles, but it's worth it. 

- Hanging out with an old art friend from high school for about an hour last week. That was also a drive, but again, totally worth it. And considering he had driven across four or five states to visit his family in Gilbert, our little drive to meet him briefly in Tempe was nothing. We met his nice well behaved kids and wife, while they got to meet my crew who were on a work release from the zoo. If you don't believe me watch this video of Alexander a couple of hours earlier when we were driving out to pick up Chris from work.
6/4/15  Alexander and I pictured with Daron and one of his "mini-me's"

With two of Daron's five mini-me's...euw, nice hair, Jill.

- And holding another friend's baby once we did pick up Chris from work. I had been wanting to cuddle this bug for a couple of weeks now.  I did not want to let her go.
Earlier on 6/4/15...cuddling little Macy...a different friend's 'mini-me'


-Rare, cloudy June days like this one. If it's going to be summer in hell, blocking out the sun is the best we can hope for.

-This funky light for the new house's laundry room (below). I know it's a material thing, but it's in a room that represents life's tedious tasks. It helps to make it a room that is desirable to enter and not the worst place to spend our time.



- Birthday discount and hanging with friend Danielle to take my old lady cougar pictures last month. We weren't able to get into the Hassayampa Preserve for the photos as early as we thought, so before the pictures, Danielle and I chilled for a breakfast at a local dive diner. Then I showed her the new house.
May 2015 ...From a far distance helps with the picture quality...especially for a crusty 40 year old...
Alexander calls this my 'lazy' picture...
- The roses Chris brought me just for the "helluvit" last week. Sadly, after he obtained the roses but before he got them home was the day I went Cruella de Vil's Evil Twin on him... :sigh: This isn't an excuse for my behavior. But the above mentioned stress and anvil on my chest is a big part of it.
In the meantime, I need to be more diligent with prayer. It does make a huge difference. I just have to improve upon making it more of a habit. I also want my daughter Mikelle to know, if she reads this (or if she ever reads this) how important the presence of God is in my life and in our lives. It's not just something I "believe". It's something I know with every fiber of my being. I know Mikelle that He is ever present in your life and there for you. Please know of Him and go to Him.

Until next time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Emotional Brain

Sunday May 24, 2015
On this stressful Sunday, I'm trying to find the words to navigate around how highly emotionally charged I am. When we become overly emotional, we are operating from the Limbic system of our brain (aka the "emotional brain"). 

It's probably best to not rely on just that area of our human CPU. Sure, it has its purpose. But have you ever reacted to something in an highly emotional way and then later regretted it? Yeah, that's because decisions were made from our emotional brain (the "feeling" and "reacting") rather than the cerebral cortex - aka the "rational brain".

We all have our "hot button" issues that get us going. They're basically the things you don't want to bring up with family members at the Thanksgiving table. "Hey, Uncle Al, are you going to take that bumper sticker off your car now? He lost the election earlier this month..." 

One of my hot buttons as an LDS woman is when politics are wrapped up into the doctrine and presented as one of the same. There is a culture that comes with the church that sure, has its good points, but it is often a huge crutch when it is misconstrued and treated like the very doctrine in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is defined. One of these crutches has to do with politics. Here in the Mormon Corridor (Utah being the center and Idaho and Arizona being the suburbs), it is often assumed that to be a good Mormon you have to be a Republican.  But if you go to an LDS congregation in a different part of the country, you won't find as much rigidity in that political mindset. Sure, you'll find Republicans, but you won't find a bubble of LDS Republicans that believe GOP stands for "God's Only Party" with their talons in that belief like a bald eagle grabbing a salmon out of the water. 

By the way, once an eagle grabs the fish, it cannot release its talons from the grip - if that really helps with this metaphor.  If the fish is too big, eagles have been known to "swim" the catch to shore. I saw this first hand in Alaska. It was pretty incredible. 

And if the fish is still too big? Eagles have been known to drown. The fish of course is dead too.

It's good to be tenacious and really sink our grip into something, but it could also lead to our undoing if it's too much and drags us down.

It is often difficult to realize the depth of our grip on things when we are in the midst of our own culture. However, the Mormon culture is fluid - depending on where you are in the world. Mormon culture in Brazil, for example, is going to be different from the Mormon culture of a stake in Ohio, and that will be different from the Mormon culture of a stake in Utah.

With this much variation, it should be obvious that culture is definitely not doctrine. Even the policies change sometimes in different parts of the world, because the needs of the members of the Church are different. That is precisely why I get so nutted up when cultural/political "opinions" are stated from the pulpit as if they are fact.

Regarding today's speaker (and I will keep names to myself in respect for the individual), if you're going to blame the Women's movement for destruction of the family, you better include all the advancements that Satan takes advantage of. That's a long list: The printing press, the mail system, the telephone, etc. etc. Don't pick and choose like a buffet to make your slanted political points and state speculations as if they're fact riddled in fear mongering.

Satan takes advantage of every good thing.  Just look at the internet. I can bring up important and inspiring images and articles and even scripture in a heartbeat. But we know what we can also bring to the screen in same amount of time.  Due to the advancements of the internet and other communication systems (that are all connected) we can connect and talk to friends and family far away. But we can also expose ourselves to negative communications we otherwise never would have seen or heard before these advancements. If you don't believe me, read YouTube comments.

Regarding the Women's movement, I will always be forever grateful that it was in full swing by the time I arrived on this earth, because I always knew I'd have a career and a family. 

Does my family come first? Damn straight. And for me, being able to work when Christian and Mikelle were small worked out for our family. When Alexander came along, it was time to stay home for awhile. That was a decision we made as a family. And now, I'm going back to work. It is what is needed for the family. The money is only a small part of it. We're building this new home and my income, though small, will help sustain that. However, my reasons for returning to the classroom are more than financial. It has been clear that I operate better when I have something going on outside the home as well.  Some people are just wired that way.

However, of course it can be understood how women working can be negative if she is away from the home too much. It's one thing if the money is desperately needed to make ends meet. But when the career takes priority over her family, of course her children will suffer. But that is not just the case with the women! 

Look at the men who become workaholics and spend too time away from their family when their priorities are messed up. Satan works on the men too. There was no "Men's Movement" needed for that. Funny, that wasn't mentioned on Sunday.

And if you have a problem with gay marriage, fair enough, that's your right. But yet, what about straight people that abuse and molest their family and others? Of course that wasn't mentioned. I have news for you - you can freak out about gay marriage all the live long day. But let's look at how we treat others in our own families and how that contributes to the "destruction of the family". 


Let's expel energy on that. 

Tuesday May 26, 2015
I have had some time to move to the more "rational" part of my brain, though I am still emotional from the events on Sunday. And the frustration and tears that resulted from the slanted words from the pulpit are only a small part of the emotions and trepidation that I've been experiencing. There is more, but I cannot share them here.

Luckily there have been distractions. Art demands from clients. That's a good thing, despite the stress that comes with it. But if I could choose the type of stress to be under, this would be one of them. 

I'm overnighting this artwork to Florida today. It was a rush order from Juanita, a repeat customer. I am forever grateful for her loyalty to me as an artist. 


I am also honored to be a part of paying tribute to a teacher that has meant so much to her and her daughter's life. That teacher is whom this artwork is for. 

Meanwhile, interior painting at the new house continues. Ever feel like you work so hard at something and yet feel as if nothing was accomplished? That's how I've been feeling with the painting. Oh, plenty is being accomplished. It just seems as if will never get done. But it will. I'm told.

And my loofah has been working just as hard in scrubbing 4 or five different colors from my skin and nail beds on an almost daily basis.


 Until next time.