Friday, February 22, 2013


The "Phoenix Blizzard" trumped a few important tidbits that should have been added here days ago. 

I am constantly amazed at Alexander's intellect. I am also worn out by it. When you have a high-energy toddler who also absorbs information and craves stimulus at such a record pace, naps become a craving. 

Thank goodness for aerobics. While I am frustrated that the numbers on the scale haven't seemed to budge, I am in better shape and feel better with such a strict exercise schedule and regimen. In fact, I wish I can up the ante and run a few miles on the treadmill in between aerobics days. However, that's difficult with X-man.

Christian and Mikelle have always loved the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. But who would have guessed a 26 month old would as well? However, Alexander loves them and looks through them constantly. And he wants us to read them to him. 

You can see the wheels spinning in his brain so quickly. Combine that with head-stands, athletic abilities like jumping from 'too high' of surfaces and wanting to play basketball with tall 9 year olds, and we have quite the daily adventures. The other day it was so adorable. I was finishing my make-up or putting on earrings or something in front of the mirror in my bathroom and Alexander brought me my shoes. He started to lift up my feet and put the shoes on my feet! And they were the correct shoes for the correct feet. Today he did it with a pair of doggie slippers he found in Mikelle's room.

Christian was high energy and very smart from the beginning as well. However, his vocabulary was more limited and he was more "gadgety" in his exploits (but don't get me wrong - he was a Tazmanian Devil conquering all around him). Alexander is taking care of the rest (Christian was lateral. X-man likes to also explore the vertical!). 

It's so funny how these two boys are so similar and yet so different. They're definitely cut from the same cloth, but have different patterns. 

Sugar Does Phoenix!!!

I am doing a huge Art Show at the end of March! "Sugar" is an event (different dates around the country - I'm doing the Phoenix one of course) that gathers a different group of female artists, photographers, fashion design, and others. 

Normally, you have to apply to be approved for such an event. However, the creative director came to me and asked me to do the event!

I'm a little apprehensive because I never seem to make many sales at shows and it's always an investment to be in the show. However, the venue ("The Duce" in downtown Phoenix, near Chase Field) and "rock star" type of atmosphere that these Sugar shows generally promote may bring more interest and specific audience to my work than a typical "run of the mill" vendor art fair. 

Therefore, we'll see! I'm pretty excited about it and only have another month to prepare! I already changed up my nails and now have purple glittery tips! Haha (I have to get into the spirit of the event....I can write it off as a business expense, right?)

 Link for more information, times and tickets.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yesterday in Pictures

There is no reason to spend a lot of time rambling on with this post. A beautiful wintery day hit yesterday, and the snow level made its way into the valley.  It doesn't happen very often, so of course it was exciting.

Sadly, here in the QC, we didn't get any snow. But we saw the evidence of it all around. Towns as nearby as Gilbert, Mesa, and Apache Junction got snow. Scottsdale seemed to get the most of the valley, but it also hit Phoenix and Wickenburg.

                                  Alexander pointing out the snow on the Superstitions. (yes, that's my hat...he really wanted to wear it!)                                                                                  

The rest of these pictures were posted from a few different news agencies. I picked some of my favorites.

Apache Junction - Superstitions
Tonto National Forest, NE of Mesa

View of Four Peaks - I Love the Skies in this Picture!


Snowing in the North Scottsdale/Carefree area

Close up of the Superstitions
I think this is my favorite picture of the Superstitions
Snowing in the Superstitions
I can't get enough of beautiful shots like these of the Superstitions
Seems apropos to bring back Christian's artwork from last December, don't you think?
It'll stay in the 50s today, but of course the temps will go back up. At least it will stay in the 60s throughout the weekend! 

A little update on the lost work from that lovely day a couple of weeks ago. I haven't heard from the lady and I haven't receive the artwork back. However, the customer in Canada already had me do another artwork for a friend. I am so grateful she still has faith in me despite what happened. I finished the work AND sent it off yesterday!

As always, personal information is obscured.

 More to come on an art show I'm doing at the end of March! Stay Tuned!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chocolate Temptations and Wild Cards

Chocolate. Need I Say More?
Last Saturday was the Chocolate Festival in Glendale. I’m glad some friends asked us if we wanted to go. I wouldn’t have gone on my own because of how far Glendale is (not as far as Wickenburg, but far enough...), but when you caravan with a bunch of friends, it’s worth it. 

We also toured the Cerreta’s Chocolate Factory in Glendale. However, standing there in line for the tour and seeing all the chocolate and product, I was kind of tortured. My sweet tooth is quite my nemesis (next to cold cereal) and I was having a hard time.

Some people can have the sweets and it's enough and it's out of their system. Sadly, it doesn't work that way with me. I just want more. I think there is something in that addiction lobe of my brain that is out of whack. 
Except with the Chocolate, etc...
I could totally "Scrooge McDuck" the sweets. Instead of it being a pile of money that Scrooge dives into, for me it would be candy, carbs, cereal, cookie-dough, etc etc.

 I also agreed to go because it was a nice cloudy/rainy day in the 50s. Walking around outdoors when it’s too sunny just gives me a headache and makes me sick to my stomach. 

Therefore, the stars lined up perfectly for the event. Well, the fronts lined up perfectly. Plus, it's fun when you have your friend grab your daughter and make her pose behind the goofy picture. She won't get as mad at him then if you or her Dad grabbed her and made her do it:
I don't know what's funnier...the far off look of wonderment
n Mikelle's face, or Tev poking out from the back...

Not the first time Mikelle confidently brandished a firearm...        
Jackson Hole, Wyoming. December 2009 Age 9
Anyway, after Glendale, we went to La Tolteca in Phoenix for dinner.
Where's our food, man?
I'm so glad we got the kids away from their electronic-driven lives into the real world where 
we could sit and socialize with others. Oh, wait..
This was from earlier in the day at a McDonalds, but it's cute, so I'm throwing it in...
And the Turtle. Have to show X-Man on the Turtle.
February 11th - Valentines Day Observed
Another Valentines has come and gone, and to be honest, I was glad Chris and I celebrated a few days earlier on the 11th. It was a weekday too (like the actual Valentines Day this year), but the restaurant wouldn’t have been crowded like it would have been on a weekend or on the actual Valentines Day. 

However, it was hard leaving the kids.

Mikelle does okay taking care of Alexander, but Christian is a wild card. He and Mikelle will get into power struggles and fight and it gets ugly. 

She is a typical bossy older sister, but I think she takes it too far. I mean, sometimes she should have German subtitles, I swear. Therefore, we don’t leave the three of them alone together that often. In fact, when I have aerobics in the evening, Chris is still en route from work. Most of the time I take Christian. He’s okay with it because he brings his homework or the laptop.

However, what happened the pseudo-Valentines evening that Chris and I were to leave, was Christian became really upset and even began to cry because we were leaving to go out. He was upset that after not seeing us because after he was at school all day, he came home only to find out that we were going to leave for the evening. 

I tried to explain that Dad and I rarely did anything like this on a Monday, and it was because we were celebrating Valentines Day a few days early due to Dad’s work schedule.

But Christian’s crying was heartbreaking. It wasn’t a bratty “I’m not getting my way” kind of cry. It was a “You’re leaving me and crushing my soul” kind of cry. Therefore, I found myself scrambling for a solution and it involved him hanging out with a friend and running errands with the friend’s family. I felt awful to put someone out at the last minute like that. If I knew Christian would react the way he did, I would have planned better.   

Like I said, he’s a wild card.

For example, a few weeks ago, I attended a funeral on a Saturday with Mikelle and Alexander. Chris had to do some kind of work project across town and took Christian with him.  We were home from the funeral hours before Chris and Christian got home. When Chris and Christian got home, I noticed Christian seemed sad and I was certain he had tears in his eyes. But he said he was fine. 

A few minutes later, I was in my bathroom messing around with something in my closet. I don’t exactly remember, but my bedroom door was locked.  Next thing I know, Christian is crying because he wanted to be with me and was upset that I was in my room. I was surprised by that. I wasn’t going anywhere and his reaction to my short absence was really out of left field. 

We brought it up with his psychiatrist a week or so later because we already had an appointment scheduled. She said it was because he knew I was at a funeral and it’s hard for him to understand the emotions and sadness behind it. However, I really don’t think that was it. I mean, it could be, but I doubt it. Christian won’t tell me. He gets so upset when we try to talk to him about his “upset” feelings.

Anyway, back to our Valentines celebration, we told Mikelle we’d be home before 10. We knew Christian would arrive back home before we did, and of course when we were about 20 minutes from home, we both got a text from him (no he doesn’t have a phone. He can text from his I-pod at home).

“I got home about a half hour ago, you should be home already.  :-(   "

I really love my Thing 2 and I hope we're not screwing him up too much.  This just goes to show that he needs more concrete scheduling at home, and when things do change (like a Monday night out), we need to prepare him better. That's where I messed up.
Back in 2008 - Age 4. He has grown up so much since then...:sniff:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Mama Executive Order

I woke up this morning with Annie's Song by John Denver in my head. It's such a peaceful song. For some reason, it's on my playlist twice.

In a way, it represents the peace that I need to find (you know, that "switch" I referred to in my previous post) that I have a hard time feeling inside.

For Valentines Day last year, Chris gave me a yearly Massage Envy gift card. Every time I went for my monthly massage, I was told I need to relax more. I was even asked the question, "Do you have a hard time relaxing?"

My response: "You have no idea..."

So far I have not heard from the nice lady who took the boys and I home the other day. I am confident it is because she hasn't noticed the stuff in her backseat. I did notify my customer and she seems understanding. However, I feel just sick about it. One thing I can't stand is when someone says they'll do something and then they don't. And when I'm the guilty party, I'm doubly hard on myself. 

Yesterday was a picture day, and Mikelle was upset that I fought her to have a simple side french braid for it. Thanks Mindy for doing that! Man, I wish I could french braid. I've tried, believe me.

Mikelle begged me to let her take it out when she got home, but I had her hold on long enough for a few snapshots. It seemed Alexander shared the feeling of not wanting the paparazzi moment. But I am the mama, and if I want pictures of my beautiful children that I love, devote my time to and nurture, then I'm going to do it.

Plus, I didn't throw up for months and have a list of other pregnancy complications with these three goofballs to NOT take a million pictures and show them off.

You know, it's like a Mama Executive Order

Christian wasn't home when I took these. He was off with Mindy's son somewhere - hopefully not doing any permanent damage to someone or something.

I'll play the Mama Executive Order Card again with the next post. We went to the Chocolate Festival in Glendale today with some friends. And let's just say, there's more fun shots of Mikelle that I cannot wait to post.

Until then...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wait...What JUST Happened?

Real life is certainly stranger than fiction sometimes. This week certainly proves that. 

First of all, the same day as my previous post, something amazing happened that gave me that self-esteem boost when it comes to my career choice.I wanted to come back and add it, but it didn't feel right after I blasted children's programming.

I'm at Circle K on Tuesday 2/5 (to the locals here in the QC: Yes, the ghetto one) and it's busy and crazy and I'm holding X-man who is being very much a 2 year old. 

Then a former student sees me and was so excited to see me. She was a junior the 2009-2010 year. Despite the chaos and Alexander trying to squirm free and letting the entire zip code know it, we chatted it up for a few seconds. As she was leaving, she was very forthcoming and said, "Thank you so much for everything you taught me. I am so grateful for the experience."
Chris always says I should go back to teaching when we move to Wickenburg and Alexander goes to Pre-school or Kindergarten. I still don't know. I probably have to go back to work, but part of me is hoping my little freelance art projects I have going on here will take off and I won't have to return to work.  

Yes, I know I'm a dreamer too.

I guess I'm very discouraged with the whole educational system. Sure, it's messed up everywhere in the country, but it's REALLY messed up here in Arizona.  It's not so much my paycheck that I am concerned about. If I could get the necessary supplies in my classroom and administrative support for supplies, the arts, and discipline support when it comes to students who are disrespectful and vandalize others art projects, then they can keep paying me next to nothing. 

However, when you have the whole package: No supplies for the classroom, no administrative support, the inmates running the asylum, a trend in the country that puts teachers on the guillotine, AND a tiny paycheck, it makes it unbearable and depressing.

Not only that, but when there is funding, it goes into a top heavy system that barely makes it into the classroom. And our lovely demographics around here don't value education and fear extra fees and taxes. Overrides and propositions to help schools are repeatedly voted down.  Sure, there are some exceptions, but the mantra here in Kookoozona, especially with the voters and those who work at the State Capitol, is "Just Say No to Education."  

There are problems all around with our system.

Plus, I can't find the "switch" to stop trying to save the world. I wanted to do too much as a teacher, and I burned out. Sure, I resigned at the end of the 2010-2011 year because I had Alexander. I know I would have stayed on if I didn't have him, but I still felt burned out.  

One thing this student (the one I ran into at Circle K) said was, "Don't worry about all the problems. It was a crappy school." Sure, it's a relief that others see that the problem was huge and much bigger than me. However, like I said, I put too much on my shoulders and I wanted to save the world - one art lesson and project at a time, and I am ineffective at finding the switch to shut off the "world saving worry".  

On a somewhat related note, a church leader once told me personally that I needed to give Christ my burdens. But I don't know how. Seriously, where is the switch? I know I can let Christ and His angels help me (this goes beyond just teaching), but I struggle at how to do that.

Moving on...
I completed another custom order and was all set to send it out.
Names and other Personal Details on this Work have been blurred and obscured for privacy reasons.

However, only the print will make it to the customer for the time being and the original is lost. I hope it's only lost temporarily. 

So what happened? It's one of those situations that is clearly stranger than fiction. I feel like I was in some kind of crazy movie or sit-com plot only meant to annoy and irritate. 

Wednesday 2/6, I park at the Post Office here in the QC with the original artwork to send off to the customer. I have Christian and Alexander with me. I had to get my X-man out of the car, so Christian was holding the Customs slip (it's a Canadian customer) and the package containing the original artwork. 

Christian closed the door to the car before I could grab the key and my purse after I took Alexander out of his car-seat. We were locked out. I didn't tell Christian that it was his fault. No need to make his anxiety worse. 

We only had the artwork with us. My phone was also in the car. Sadly, it’s not the old days where a simple wire hanger can unlock a car door. Sometimes advances in technology can really screw us over.

I borrowed a phone from a postal worker inside and called my friend (only to get her voice mail), so I then called Chris, knowing that he was at work, which is almost 100 miles away. I didn’t have other numbers memorized because they were on my contact list in my phone that was locked in the car. That is another detriment to advancing technology. If this had happened 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, I'd have a lot of numbers memorized. Just an observation.

The “roadside assistance” info was in the glove box which was locked in the car and it’s not the AAA service that a lot of people use. It’s a lesser known service through our car insurance. Chris had that information, but I also had to pick up Mikelle from her after school activity in a half hour, so I had to leave the car there and try to borrow a car from someone and deal with the car issue later.

A nice lady overheard me on the phone when I was talking to my husband and she offered to take me and the boys home. We didn’t live far and I knew it was safe to go with her even though I didn’t know her.

I was so worried about picking up Mikelle, that I didn’t notice we left the original artwork in this nice woman's vehicle when she dropped us off at our house!!!
This About Sums it Up
Not knowing what I had done, we quickly got out and went over to my neighbor's house (hi Mindy!) where I could borrow her car to go pick up Mikelle.  I know I wouldn’t have forgotten the artwork if I wasn’t so pre-occupied with worrying about  my daughter being picked up.  It was when I was driving Mindy's vehicle to the school that I realized the artwork was left in the nice woman’s vehicle.

My heart sank.

I had no way to get a hold of this nice lady to get the artwork back. However, the Customs form with my address is with the work. She drove to my house once, and if she forgets where I live, my address is on the Customs slip and it’s on the return address on the package with the artwork. I am confident that she’ll bring it to me as soon as she notices. But she was in a big SUV. I don’t know when she’ll notice the stuff in the back.

I am so embarrassed about this and I am still having a hard time believing this as I write it. I am confident the artwork will make its way back to me, and then I’ll immediately turn around and send it to the customer. It’s just a matter of when.

Thankfully, I scan all my artwork. As soon as this happened, I immediately had a 20x20 color print made of the work. I sent that out yesterday, Thursday February 7th.

Still, the order was for a custom original and that is what the customer paid for.

I waited until yesterday to see if the nice lady would show up at my house. When she didn't and I had to send out the print of the original, I also had to bite the bullet and e-mail the customer. I told her the whole story. I also included an attachment of the above work, so she knows it was completed, what it looks like, and that I'm not full of excuses.  And whether or not the original makes its way back to me, I also assured my customer that she can have her next color original completely free. And it won’t be lost, either.

I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around it. It feels like a crazy plot line in an annoying movie or sit-com on TV. This order was already from a return customer and I really hope I haven't lost her business as a result of this.

And here we are - Friday. I'm not sure if I should be relieved or not. Still holding out hope that the artwork comes back home. 

I end this post with a picture of Newborn Platypuses. Is that how you say it? Platypuses? I'll quote George Takei: Are they chicks? pups? platypups?

Something this adorable and this weird really shows that there is hope for the future and that God has a sense of humor. God's sense of humor has been kind of mean to me with what happened on Thursday, but like I said before, humor is humor.