Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Bonus Entry

Three things I never thought I'd see on our land in 2014: Bulldozers, Port-a-potty and SNOW....
Yeah, I'm eating my words a little on this New Year's Eve. But this is the kind of thing I'm happy to be wrong about! 

I wasn't going to post today as yesterday was the final posting of 2014, but Wickenburg received heavy snow. This isn't just your "hey, that looks like a snowflake that just turned into a raindrop..." type of snow, but actual heavy sticking-to-the-ground snow. It was pretty wild. And beautiful. Huge flakes coming down!

I took a few videos, but the one I put on YouTube was the one at our land. 
 Click Here to view

I must say, the roads in town were "interesting" trying to get to the other side where the house is being built. It was definitely a wintery type of navigation. I never thought I'd see anything like it.  Of course that problem didn't last, and once it stopped snowing, the roads looked wet as if it just rained and there was no more snow in the road. 

Anyway, more photos were taken, but it's time to head out for fun with friends tonight. It's awesome that it actually feels like a real winter on New Years Eve. 

Perfect way to end 2014! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Final Art Update for 2014

I know it sounds as if I'm taking an art sabbatical or something, but no... not going to happen. I do, however, need to take 45 clock hours of a course before my teaching certification expires in April. And does this course have anything to do with art? Not really. Not even close. But I knew this was coming. Sure, I could have done it sooner (and I should have), but I didn't. So here we are. But this shouldn't impede my art projects and orders. It'll just put something annoying and boring on my plate in addition to the creative demands.

An art update is overdue. 

First, above is another installment of the Lake of the Woods preservation project. This is for placemats, but this design could be used for various items. 

And another return customer is involved in Human Trafficking Awareness and I completed this for her (right). 

Another project that was completed was the Batman artwork. A wallet was requested with the Dark Knight thematic elements, so of course I had to create the artwork first. The customer would receive the original artwork plus the wallet. However, prints of the Batman art along with wallets are available to anyone at my Etsy shop.

Today the Christmas and Birthday trees came down. Usually it's kind of a downer to put all the Christmas things away, but this time, it felt like something was being accomplished. And I was happy that the next time these decorations would be brought out, it would be in our new home! 

But Alexander was breaking my heart. I was putting away the ornaments and stuff from his Birthday tree and he says he will miss his red celebrate ornament that he received at church this month. Then as I put away the bow from the top of his birthday tree, he was concerned and didn't want it to go away. It made me want to keep the decorations up forever! He didn't cry about it, but he was very sad about it in a way that just tugged at the heart strings. 

I am comforted that he is already building good memories, since he's sad to see those objects packed away.

Speaking of building good memories, ringing in 2015 will be fun as we spend it as a family with some old friends. And the weather is perfect - cold and wintery. A big winter storm (so that means rain for us...though there is chatter about possible snow...yeah, okay...)
Yeah, transplants from the Midwest and colder climates are complaining about it, but they can just chill.

Last year we barely received any hint of such winter temperatures, so this has and will continue to be quite enjoyable.

No complaints here. 

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fasten Your Seatbelts Folks, We're Just Experiencing Some Christmas Turbulence...

Four years old! 12/22/14
This entry appears to start off as another installment of the Alexander Show. But we have to update his birthday celebration!

Here is our silly 4-year old Iron Man, the morning after his fun little birthday celebration we had with friends. That mask came in one of his birthday cards.  

As for Christmas, bear with me as I pull an Uchdorf and use an aviation analogy. 

Ever experience air turbulence? If you've flown in a plane, you have. I loathe turbulence because no matter what the facts are, I am freaked by it and convinced that we're all going to die. 

Yeah, apparently I fall in the category of those lovely anxious passengers. Just be thankful you've never had to fly with me.

But moving off my ridiculous personal anxieties that come from flying through turbulence, the fact of the matter is, except in the rarest circumstances, turbulence is not going to bring the plane down. For all intents and purposes, a plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket (even though I feel like it will...).

My point? These metaphorical air pockets and turbulence aren't going to bring us down either. 

But it sure makes for a bumpy flight. 

This year's bumpy Christmas flight? Well, first of all, Christmas itself was quiet.  Big Hero 6 was playing in the little one-screen town theater, so we took the kids to see it on Christmas Eve. Alexander started off comatose when we arrived too. He woke up eventually, but we still managed to enjoy the movie.  That was one of the calmer parts of the "flight". 

Christmas Eve arriving at the theater...
But sadly, that morning, the engine in our 15 year old truck decided it didn't want to be alive anymore.   I knew it was only a matter of time. It has over 250K miles on it. Now to figure out if we replace the engine or get a new truck. That's not an easy decision, as we had to replace our Mazda 5 last summer (in the middle of the move!), and this time, the suicide truck engine occurred in the middle of the holidays.  When you start crunching numbers and talking dollar signs, the feeling of ulcers forming in the belly suddenly become apparent. And that isn't the only air pocket of turbulence (and worrying about dollar signs). It looks like we need to find new tenants for our house in Queen Creek by March 1st. Fun times. Fun turbulence.

Christmas Eve pizza at Quorris!

I also allowed nostalgia and missing old traditions creep into those bouts of turbulence. 

I think back of the tradition growing up when we'd spend Christmas Eve with family. We'd go to my grandparents house in Phoenix. That's what Christmas felt like. And traversing the hills of their neighborhood to and from the house, seeing certain familiar homes on the hills (In the Piestewa Peak/Dreamy Draw/Stoney Mountain area of north central of Phoenix) with their towering outside Christmas tree decorations added to that "feeling".   

Sure, my grandparents house wasn't decorated with lights, but my grandmother always had these simple candle decorations in two upstairs windows. 

That's what Christmas felt like. 

The tradition of Christmas Eve at my grandparents has been long gone for almost 20 years. One would think since the same amount of time had passed that I enjoyed the tradition in the first place, different feelings of Christmas added to the "feeling". But there is something about childhood that just stays there. Plus, my children haven't been able to enjoy a stable Christmas tradition that they can count on year after year like I did. Some years we've traveled for Christmas. We've spent Christmas in Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon. Other years we've stayed home. And when we stay home, Christmas is usually very quiet. That's how it was this year. I miss being around family at this time. Maybe the distraction of people is needed. I don't know. One thing I've concluded is that I need to go to the temple this week. Of all the feelings of worry and Christmas blues, when I think about going to the temple, I feel at peace.

And of course, THIS is happening (below). No reason to fret very long about air pockets when the airplane is en route to this destination! It took forever to get the plane off the ground.  I am grateful we are finally on our way, despite the turbulence.  My friend Katherine was here in town today and we showed her our land. The walls for the basement will be started this week!

Anyway, we have survived Christmas. I do look forward to it next year in our new home. Sure, it may be another quiet Christmas, but each year and each celebration are memories for our children.  Who knows - maybe in the very far off future when Chris and I are grandparents (so very very far off future), we can start the same Christmas Eve tradition for our children and their families that I enjoyed as a child. 

I would end this post with a Happy New Year, but I hope to end 2014 blog posts with another art update! Stay tuned!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Beautiful Babies and Bulldozers

Four years ago today, our lives were brightened by this sweet energy ball of laughter and mischief. The best way to describe our lives with Alexander is something along the lines of what the hilarious comedian Wanda Sykes says about having kids. She talks about how they destroy your life - and then replace it with another one that you didn't know you loved even more! lol  

Sure, Mikelle and Christian did that already. But then Alexander completed our quintet in a way I never expected, anticipated, or never knew we needed. 

Until he was there. 
Alexander in front of his birthday tree. 12/21/14
Now all I ask, Alexander, is to PLEASE use the potty. 

I swear, this kid is the poster child for the Diapers To Depends secret group. It's located in a basement of some abandoned building (or a Radio Shack) and these kids hang out there and talk about how they have a full-ride scholarship waiting for them at Harvard, but they never bothered with potty training. These genius kids all know that they simply need to just "do it", but they're too stubborn and are determined to stick it to the man

It's a pride thing. 

Some of these kids can program computers, they don't even require training wheels on their bikes and they can even quote Shakespeare!

But they refuse to use the toilet. 

Yeah, I'm beginning to realize that Alexander is going to be a member of that secret group. 

Anyway, moving on, here are few snapshots to catch things up. Well, these first three are pretty awesome. Yeah, I know I didn't show the groundbreaking pictures yet, but check these out from this previous Saturday. THIS is Christmas. 

Seeing this going on at our land is better than anything under the tree!  

And here are some pictures from yesterday morning. Thankfully, everything came together that time with getting ready for church. That's a rarity. 

Below are the boys (and Lucy, who clearly wanted Alexander's cookie) in front of the main tree. The larger tree was too big for the low ceiling height, so this medium tree was brought in as a quick solution. I bought it last year right after Christmas, intending it to be a third Christmas tree (I plan to have our  large and tall main blue and white tree with the angel, then a colorful/fun medium sized Christmas tree, and then the whimsical Alexander Birthday tree...), but of course our new house isn't finished in time for this Christmas as I thought it would be last year. Still, I'm glad I grabbed this medium sized tree. It helped with the frustration of the large one being too tall for the low ceiling height. Plus, when I picked up the medium tree last year, it was around 75% off and it was one of the last ones! 

Big sisters are the best!

As are Mom's kisses...

And lastly, it was fun making babies today with my new primary class.

(...Baby Jesus babies that is...)

I thank my friend Tammy for the inspiration. As much as a hot glue dependent project is bad karma for me, it was worth some of the discomfort on my fingertips!

If anyone wants directions or a list of materials to make a baby...

(a baby Jesus, that is...)

... please comment!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: "Hi San Caws"

2006 Holiday Season - Ages 6 and 2.75
Extreme cuteness is the theme for this short Throwback Thursday post! 

Taking the boys to see Santa on Friday reminded me again of one of the sweetest moments from when Christian and Mikelle were so much younger. 

It was the Holiday Season of 2006. Christian was 2  (a few months away from turning 3) and Mikelle was 6. We took them to the mall to see Santa. Judging from their footwear, it's clear the evening was not as crisp and seasonal as we've experienced here in the last couple of days. (It's been awesome the last couple of days!)

Christian was excited to see Santa at the mall. When it was our turn, normally I would expect Christian to run around or run to Santa (this is one of our boys, after all...). But instead, he calmly walked up to Santa, put his little chubby toddler hands on Santa's knees, looked up at him and angelically said, "Hi San Caws..."

It was one of those moments that I wished I captured on video. If I did, I know I would watch it millions of times. It tugged at the heartstrings in ways that I cannot describe.
Sunday Doodle for 12/14/14

Anyway, back to 2014....

It's been busy trying to prepare for Alexander's birthday, Christmas, and finish some last minute orders. 

Luckily, a couple of them do not have the Christmas deadline. 

As for this Batman art, a customer made it clear they were willing to wait until around New Year's for the Batman piece. Sure, it's December 18th, but there's more than just the Batman artwork the customer is requesting with this. More to come with this batty project! :-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Stubborn Stickler for Traditions

Last Friday night, the boys had their picture taken with Santa. I'm glad I'm a stickler for traditions, because if I wasn't, it may have been completely left out this year. 

I do admit I am struggling with the whole Christmas spirit this time around. It's not completely gone - it's just harder to find.

Part of the struggle is finding the the motivation for Christmas stuff to be taken out of boxes in storage and displayed. When we know we'll be moving again in less than a year, I have no desire to unpack it, pack it up again, then move it, unpack it, etc etc. 

But it's Christmas. It's important. 


Plus, we have our Birthday Tree tradition for Alexander too. We can't let a year go by without that. 

Therefore, I took out probably one-third of our Christmas stuff.  

The Nativity made it out first. 

There. That works.

Some friends said all my Nativity is missing now is a Tardis. I agree. But I don't have one. Sure, I was all over the place down in the valley today (two malls and other stops) where I'm sure I could have located a Tardis for the Nativity, but I wasn't thinking about it at the time. 

Besides, it's probably more than a decade that I've been waiting to be gifted a Jim Shore Nativity anyway (despite yearly hints). 

I guess I should bite the bullet and buy it myself.

And I love this Jim Shore angel piece:

I also received appreciation pictures from the customer that the Mad-hatter, Jack Skellington and Philosophy ornaments were made for. I love when I get pictures like these! It helps raise the spirits - especially if they're a little down. And they are. It's just the nature of being a moody artist. So I cherish these appreciation pictures!

Along with the pictures, she said, "Got the kids' ornaments for 2014. Usually I just let them pick something out at the store. This year I bought them from an artist friend's Etsy shop. They just got here today and the kids love them! Well two love them; the third one comes home on leave tomorrow. He'll see his then. Thanks Jill Henrichsen!"

Thanks Jackie! 

In the meantime as I continue to work on the Christmas spirit, the weather is helping. It's been cooler than it should be (well, in my book it means it's the way it should be!), and today the clouds blanketed the sky again. I love overcast weather. Some people call it "gloomy". I disagree. 

Until next time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas, Costco and Chaos...

Yes, I know I said the next entry will contain pictures from our little groundbreaking. And I will do that. It just won't be in this post. 

Projects and a lot of Christmas orders on my plate have been kicking me in the keester. Hey, it's a good problem to have. I'm not complaining. I just wish there were more hours in a day, that's all. 

And I should be more disciplined  on making it to bed earlier. I really pay for it the next morning. 

This photo of these ornaments don't even begin to scratch the surface of how many different directions I've been going this week. But at least I have this visual aid. I do like how the Jack Skellington ornament turned out, however. I was a little worried about how I could put him on the ornament as per the request from the customer. I think it worked out nicely.

Meanwhile, running around town, taking kids to and from places have taken their toll this week too. Let's just say that a Costco in December in a Snowbird heavy area (Snowbirds/Winter Visitors definition: The lucky boneheads that don't have to brave the summers here like the rest of us...) is bad enough. Then add an almost 4 year old screaming "I want pizza!" at the top of his lungs in the bathroom while you're trying to pee and it just might drive one over the edge. And I didn't even include the account of what happened at the post office and print shop before the Costco adventure. 

 Let's just leave it at that. I don't want to re-live it again.

No, Alexander didn't get pizza. There was some leftover Kneaders French Toast in the car anyway (if anything is going to ensure the American obesity epidemic continues, it's that french, it is wonderful stuff...)

At least he fell asleep on the journey back home.  

Time to go bed. Not early enough as usual...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Doodles and Art Update

Sunday Doodle for December 7, 2014
The groundbreaking from yesterday went nice and it even stayed cloudy for the most part! 

I will post pictures in the next post. However, for now, an art update is required.

First, this week I completed a custom piece featuring the Orlando, Florida LDS Temple. I will have a similar piece without the customization that will be finished soon, so it can be available for prints.

Another piece that was completed and shipped off this week was a different kind of custom project. The customer is a junior in high school and wanted this created for her boyfriend. I really hope they both loved it.

There were aspects of this project that proved more challenging than I anticipated, but I think it turned out to be a success. However, I'm not too sure if this is something I want to do very often. Haha Let's just say some nooks and crannies of the ceramic piece along with the behavior of the materials created some interesting moments during this endeavor!

And today, I received this appreciation photo from another return customer! I love it when I receive pictures like this!
And below is a ceramic tile project Chris and I worked on together in anticipation that we would build this house and have such ceramic tile designs to adorn our mailbox and kitchen backsplash! 

This is the "Lazy H" tile design that we want to put on our future mailbox with the brick and other tile designs and address numbers. 

Doodle from October that was never posted.
And with that, it's time for another week and hopefully plenty more will be accomplished on the art front, Christmas preparation front and home building front!

Here's hoping!