Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Sleeps in Vegas Looks Drunk...

Apparently if you're passed out on a couch in the event/conference areas of a hotel-casino in Vegas, it may give the wrong impression. 

Chris went up to Vegas to help out at a water conference. He brought me along and we farmed out our three children for the 48 hours we would be gone. 

There were numerous classes in the ballroom/event areas of the hotel and we had to help scan people in and out of their scheduled classes. Because there was a casino and other fun stuff, it's important to do the scanning at the beginning and the end so everyone attends the class/lecture that their respective employers are paying them to attend. Otherwise, some of these boneheads would try to sneak out and head to the casino.

Can I just say that some of these ADULT conference attendees are just as bad as whiny children? If we were waiting to scan them out until the official end of the class AND for the speaker to be finished, we were still met by a few complainers at the door demanding to be scanned out. And if a class across the hall was already scanned and dismissed, we got the, "but they got out already..."  

This is the sort of thing I ran into in my various years of teaching kids! But these were adults! And mostly men.

Because the majority of the attendees were males, it was quite refreshing to see a long line of men extending out of their restroom after class while we women just walked right on in to ours. I never thought I'd see the day. 

ANYWAY...but I was supposed to talk about how I screwed up. Chris brought me on this trip because I've been quite stressed and frustrated lately. The combination of various recent factors and motherhood
dynamics have had things in a perfect storm. It was time to check out of all of that for a day or so.

Well, just because I escaped from the house and the typical day to day madness, it didn't mean I still wasn't exhausted. Chris and I arrived at the hotel late Monday night and we had to be down in the Conference area by 6am the next morning to start helping out with the classes and make sure we knew what to do when it came to scanning people in and out of class.

Well, after I helped scan in the first group of class attendees, I figured it was fine to just lie down on the nice plush sofa right by that particular event room where the class was held. Well, I must have been really tired because I was GONE. I don't sleep in public well - if at all. I think the last time I was able to just zonk out like that in a public place was in college. But not this time.

I guess that sofa was really comfortable.

Well, if these conferences can have a lot of partying going on in the casinos and bars (hence why people have to be scanned in and out, like I mentioned already) and then someone is passed out on the couch the next morning at the conference, it doesn't say, "Exhausted Mom..." 

It says, "Drunk chick."

So yeah, I woke up to Chris patting my tush going, "Jill, you need to get up! People think you're drunk....!"

It didn't matter that I was as sober as a newborn at LDS General Conference. The perception was there. 

Oh yeah, and it probably didn't help that I was wearing the water event shirt as well. 

Artwork I worked on at the conference...instead of sleeping...
Oh, and get this. So while I was passed out on the couch, some guy came out of the lecture room and hurled all over the floor about 10 feet away from me. Chris got the privilege of witnessing that event. That's another sign I was in a deep sleep. I would not have remained on the couch near a puke incident if I was aware of it. 

Chris said, due to the perception of my perceived drunkeness: "Passed out hot chick (his words, not mine) and puke right do the math..."

Just before the show started...
All in all, it was a nice trip. A little too quick. And for as comfortable as that hotel bed was, getting up early wasn't pleasant. But for those two nights, it was probably the first time in a long time that I slept straight through once my head hit the pillow.  

And the night before we left, we went up to the MGM and attended Brad Garrett's Comedy Club. We loved the comic Vargus Mason. He wasn't the headliner, but he should have been. Sure, the headliner was funny, but he felt that he had to be overly disgusting. Vargus Mason had
his moments, but we enjoyed him so much more. And Chris bought his DVD afterwards. Vargus asked him who to write it out to. Chris said to write it to Jill. 

Well, I love Vargus even more because he wrote, "Dear Jill, Stay Beautiful!" 

That's something an exhausted sober mom needed to read.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

In the Trenches of Motherhood...with Stupid Cats and Fox Hats...

Motherhood is hard.

 It's emotionally taxing. 

Combine that with my lack of patience and tenacity for creative outlets and it's a roller coaster around here.  I admit with the move and the loneliness from being so far away from everything and everyone we have known, it's especially difficult.  Then if that's not enough, add the frustration of not breaking ground yet on the new house and hearing from Thing 1 and Thing 2 "Queen Creek was better because....." 

 I am trying not to lose it.

Well, no...I already lost it a few times.

Then of course, there's the 14 year old teenager and the hormones, rudeness, and disrespect. Just the latest example? The crying Friday morning and not getting out of the car because I asked her to go into seminary to see if she could get me a doughnut...You would have thought I stripped down to the nekkids and went in there to get it myself while doing the Macarena.... Of course it doesn't end there. There's the boys' ADHD and Christian's borderline Aspergers (his obsession for computer components and computers in general yields some interesting situations around here) and there's a reason I locked myself in the room a few times this week to watch the PBS special on The Roosevelts
 I needed an intellectual escape! 

See, Moms don't just lose brain cells because of the kids sucking out every last viable IQ point from our cerebral cortex. It's also crap on TV and hearing the same Team Umizoomi theme song over and over that makes us progressively dumber. 

No wonder I crave something nerdy and historical.

I am trying to keep it together....

This is a very raw account (link below), but I feel like this a lot. Don't click on it if you have a problem with language. I posted this link on my wall, and sure, some people have probably unfriended me over it. Especially some of the sweet people I've met here in Wickenburg and friended me on Facebook thinking I was a safe bet (HA!).  However, while I do have a filter (I don't voice everything that pops in my mind...) and I want to keep the big picture together and keep my eye on the road, I also don't want to be fake. I hate fake.

Motherhood - The Big Fat (Screw) You

But despite losing it yesterday (similar to the author in the link above who lost it) with a disconnected computer mouse and earlier, Thing 1 and Thing 2 fighting over kitchen chores, I was reminded from all three of them how being their mother is also the most amazing thing I've ever known. 

For example, we were driving home from school and Christian was quiet the whole time.  Then out of the blue he says, "Something died over there...." He was looking at some buzzards or something circling an area over by the river. 

I don't know...maybe it's not that funny when I try to write it down and describe it, but it cracked us up. Sadly, when he says something like that and he may not mean for it to be funny, he feels we are making fun of him by laughing. We're trying to explain to him that it's not like that at all. We appreciate his delivery of things and love the joy it brings us.

Just add tons of snow and that's pretty much the street where that cat met its end...
And then there was later yesterday when Christian and I took our second doctor appointment trip into Central Phoenix. Fun times with rush hour after the appointment, but it was to be expected. Well, Christian cracked me up again.

But I have to back up. A few days ago, Mikelle reminded me of the time in December 2009 when she, my mom and I were driving slowly through a small town in Idaho headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and this stupid cat darted in front of us...near miss, right? Wrong. The idiot cat then came back (no, not like the classic Muppets song...the kids did start singing it after the story the other day...) and despite my mom slowing down even more and trying not to hit it, the cat was, in fact, struck.

 I will spare you the rest of the details, but it was quite traumatizing. 

Well, when Mikelle brought it up the other day, I told her I didn't appreciate being reminded of that distressing incident. For some reason the way I said, "That cat was stupid..." is something Christian found funny and he brought it up again yesterday in our rush hour fun in Phoenix. Then the radio was playing The Joker by the Steve Miller Band and Christian sung, "That cat was stupid..." to the tune of one of the guitar twang's in the song. That boy cracks me up.

I still feel awful about that cat though. Stupid cat. 

Alexander's evolutionary additions to the Snakes...
And do I even need to bring up Alexander and his bag of tricks to be reminded of the joy and laughter that comes with the chaos? No. That goes without saying. 

But I'll share this anyway. 

Back in May, one of my Sunday Doodles was "Snakes on a Plane" because I was flying back from Utah. Well, in that notebook, I discovered this morning that Alexander has since added legs to the snakes (left).

 See the brown fingerprints? It's either chocolate or dirt. At least I hope it's one of those two.

And then there's Thursday night when Mikelle comes in during one of my Roosevelts marathon and demands I watch this Japanese commercial that I still cannot wrap my head around the combination of drugs someone was on to create its concept. Her humor cracks me up too as she laughed all over again watching my reaction to the weirdness. Then I showed her this one (in honor of it's in been in the news lately with the question of whether they would remain as a part of the UK or not...) as being one on the top ten of my favorite commercials.

Mikelle didn't get the "Fox Hat" joke and I tried to explain it in a way for her to think about it and then "get it". She finally did and no swearing from me had to ensue. 

Then she asked me how that commercial could sell beer. I then in turn asked her how that Japanese commercial was supposed to sell anything other than LSD! 

Point taken. 

Yes, our humor is a little warped, but it's our "normal".

Somehow after that, I went back to rebuilding lost brain cells with the Roosevelts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Trying Not to let Faith Go Into the Pooper (or in X-man's case, in his pants...)

Let's see how well I get this post in before duty calls. Another hurricane down in Baja has its remnants coming up this way. I have a feeling it won't be as impressive as last week's rainy fun. But here is hoping! So far the clouds have been awesome.

It has been eventful around here and Chris is trying to talk me into leaving town for just over a day to "decompress" and take a break from the stress and depressive pitfalls and loneliness (missing people from back in the QC) that are coming with it.

Well, leaving town sounds great in theory. However, it's a middle of the week business thing he has in Vegas and there's three kids that would need to be cared for while we are gone. Two of them are in school. I'm not sure if this can be pulled off. It shouldn't be crazy stressful trying to do something to ease the stress. Know what I mean?

Mikelle and Christian are adjusting well to school, but it's still a challenge in the new residence. We're crossing our fingers that building on the new house can begin in less than a month. We asked the kids to help pray about it. We even talked about faith in general, and if they're having a hard time having faith, it's an excellent thing to pray about as well.

I should take my own advice.

I need to make this meme with Alexander's face...
One thing I have no faith in right now is Alexander's potty training. I positively HATE potty training. Potty training should be an evolutionary thing. You know, like standing and walking. The kid just eventually "does it". Sure, some later than others, but it should still be a natural thing. I HATE potty training. I know I said that already, but it bears repeating.

I would totally hire someone to do it for me if I could. I can embrace all the other parenting fun: childbirth (not pregnancy, but childbirth since it's one day verses my average 266 days of hell...), nursing, sleep deprivation, being puked on, changing diapers, etc etc.... But potty training? I hate it. 

I vented about my "evolutionary" theory on Facebook and had to laugh at the logic my friend Charlie showed up with:

No toilet bowls on the African savanna means not enough time to evolve a behavior. Until indoor plumbing the kids just either did it in the dirt or stayed in funky diapers until they got it. The flush toilet in middle class houses is just a bit over a century old (toilet paper was invented in 1879). Before that it was outhouses for about two centuries after they replaced chamber pots.

I crankily replied to Charlie that I just knew he was going to show up and give me some intellectual reason with a historical context for the lack of potty training in our evolutionary make-up. I added that if my kid can draw and talk like a five year old with the energy of a chihuahua on meth, he should be able to grasp this.

But Charlie was on a roll. At least he made me laugh. I needed it.

Despite our pretensions, we're just not that far from crapping in the bushes. Boys just take longer to get it. Connecting a feeling with "get to a toilet" is not a male strong point.

The flush toilet was invented by Sir John Harrington, hence the nick-name "John" although he called it Ajax, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. She got one installed in Buckingham palace but wouldn't use it because she thought it was too loud. It took another two centuries to find acceptance, in no small part due to the efforts of this guy (right), so we've been slow to be toilet trained as a culture.

Anyway, at least when Chris is home, he can head up the potty training duties (no pun intended on the use of "duties"). That's another perk of our Generation X+ modern times...none of the BS of the Mom doing everything...

It would be one thing if the potty training thing was the most of the X-man frustrations. But it's not. He's He's a Sunbeam in Primary (and a very young one since he doesn't even turn 4 until the end of the year...don't get me started on that! If it was up to me, he'd be in nursery until he's 4!), and the Primary Program in our new ward was last Sunday. Alexander had a small speaking part and he knew his part (he's smart, remember?!), but at the practices and the actual program, he pitched a fit when it came to sitting with his class and basically all that was required during the practices (back to the reference of the chihuahua on opinionated chihuahua on meth...) 
Sunday Doodle for September 14, 2014

Therefore, it was nice in front of the whole ward having to extract him from the stand while he was having his opinionated fit. And that was after he was taken out of the chapel just minutes earlier while the Sacrament was being passed screaming "I don't want to go outside! I don't want to go outside!"

So embarrassing. Yes, we're the new people! Nice to meet ya'll! 

In our old ward, he was a handful of course, but so were other kids so it blended in better. But now? Alexander is front and center. 

I did manage to knock out this Sunday doodle despite all the fun on Sunday and the epic Sunday nap I took. Yes, I'm still pining for Autumn! And here is a custom pumpkin I also finished last weekend.

One side of the large custom 9-inch pumpkin...
Other side of the large custom 9-inch pumpkin...
Crossing our fingers for rain!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rain, Pumpkins and Lovecats...

That title certainly doesn't say Summer! I can't wait until it's officially over! That doesn't mean the Autumn Equinox on September 22nd. Oh sure, that's when the calendar says Fall, but here in hell, it's still Summer. No, Autumn around here starts around the second week of October if we're lucky.
Some commutes were met with problems...

BUT...the rain the Phoenix area has been hit with earlier this week has been awesome and has really helped ease the pain of Summer.  Apparently Monday was declared the wettest day. I swear I've seen days that were even more drenched, but perhaps the overnight rain was the culprit.

I love seeing how weirded out all the transplants that moved here from other places (midwest/back east, etc) are by all this rain. It does happen, people.  Problem is, there really isn't anywhere for the rain to go in many places, so there's a lot of flooding. Wickenburg hasn't really had flooding, however. There have been some areas by washes that had some trouble, but for the most part, we've been fine. The Hassayampa River is right behind us and it flows downward towards the valley. Therefore, gravity took care of it for the most part.
But this guy in Chandler had no issues with the flooding...

But yes, some parts of the valley, such as Mesa, have had a lot of flooding and people finding that they have to scramble to save some of their belongings. I've also never heard of schools being closed due to all this rain, but it did happen in some places. My kids were upset that it didn't happen for them.  What's strange is one story said: "Most at risk are the slightly higher elevations, including Wickenburg and areas in and around the Superstition Mountains..." but most of the problems we saw had been down in the valley (Phoenix area and surrounding areas).

As for art this week, I managed to get Pumpkins #2-#6 (first one already went to Georgia) to cooperate for a group photo. Sadly, they've become attached to each other. However, like a litter of puppies, they'll soon be going their separate ways.

Another fun project that was completed this week was a tribute for an LDS missionary who is just days away from returning. The first image is the standard circle design. The second are some corners added that his mother (awesome return customer! Hi Cheryl! Hi Tonya! )requested to give it a square shape.   If you happen to know the young man the artwork is for, keep it quiet! It's a surprise for him when he arrives home.

Meanwhile, I really really really want to do a large Halloween piece with black cats with the lyrics to the song Lovecats by the Cure. I'm not much of a cat person in general, but I certainly can be if we throw Halloween and The Cure into the mix.

Sure, I have one custom piece that is still in progress along with a large pumpkin for a local customer that I really want to have done by tomorrow, but the Halloween bug has hit me (that's no surprise. Halloween is awesome!) and I've been wanting to do this Lovecats piece for awhile. 

Until then, I'm glad the pumpkins are going strong to keep the Halloween designs coming!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Remembering September 11, 2001

Mikelle interviewed her dad and I last night about our memories and how we experienced the pivotal date of 9/11/01. Her history teacher was very specific to make sure the students interviewed someone who remembers the events of that date, because to quote him:

“All of you were still pooping your pants when that happened.” 

And he's right. Mikelle was 13 months old when 9/11 occurred.

I am embarrassed that I never really gave 9/11 its recognition in this forum. There's been 6 times that date has rolled around since I started this blog. Perhaps I didn’t want to be a downer. Or I knew such a post would be quite the undertaking and I put it off.

I had written the account in other capacities. When I was teaching high school, I made sure that day was part of the daily bell-work or sketchbook assignments, and I did talk about that day with various classroom audiences.

However, I never officially wrote it down to have recorded here for the purpose of family history.  

August 2001 - Mikelle's first birthday
Well, it’s time to write my account of how our family experienced that day.

It is kind of weird to describe, because yes, Chris and I had been married almost 7 years, but we wouldn’t see each other for at least a week or so after 9/11. We hadn’t seen each other in the days preceding it either. 

What happened was, Chris lost his job about a month earlier.

Mikelle turned a year old and then to celebrate that, Chris lost his job. Yay! 

It had been the third job loss since she was born. Therefore, until he could find another job (and thank goodness we didn’t know it at the time, but he wouldn’t get another one until Spring 2003…but I digress…that’s another bag of ferile rabid cats) by the time 9/11 rolled around, he was in a paid medical study in Phoenix. To qualify for the study and receive the nice $tipend at the end, he and the other participants had to live at the facility for a couple of weeks and have frequent blood draws and eat the same food. No visitors were allowed. Therefore, even though he was only about 35 miles away, it was the same as if he was far away out of town.

I was a full time student at ASU. Therefore, my student loans were also a way we had some funds coming in. We lived in student housing, but it was in Southeast Mesa (the ASU East campus) near Queen Creek. I would take the 30 mile drive to Tempe for school at least 4 times a week.

On 9/11, due to being three hours behind the east coast, I was still asleep when the attacks occurred.

However, Chris had been up. He had taken a shower and was drying his hair with a towel and coming into the little lounge area where a big TV was set up at the facility. He saw smoke coming out of the first twin tower. There was only a couple other people sitting there watching the coverage and he joined them. He recalled to Mikelle tonight how he was in absolute shock as they saw the second plane hit – right there on live TV.

Meanwhile, I was oblivious. I turned the Disney Channel on for Mikelle as I got ready for school. The Disney Channel wasn’t pre-empted or interrupted for any of the tragic events that were unfolding. Mikelle watched Bear in the Big Blue House and then she and I went outside to leave. I put her in the carseat in the truck (and 13 years later, we still have that truck!). I would be taking her to Chris’s sister’s house in Gilbert and then head to class. Maybe it was between 8am and 9am? I can’t remember.

I started the truck and was met with instant confusing chatter from the radio. No typical stations had their usual music, commercials or DJ banter. It was just all chaotic chatter. I had no context of what was going on. I heard key words that were alarming such as America Attacked, terrorism, more attacks eminent, planes used as bombs, plane crashes, etc etc. 

I decided to call Chris. Back then, cell phones were actually phones. You pick it up, dial, and someone answers! I know, weird! Whereas now, it’s so confusing when all you want to do is make a damn phone call! But I digress…..  

Chris answered and I asked him if he knew what was going on. He filled me in.  (Later he said he didn't call me when he saw it all unfold on TV because he was in complete shock...)

He and I didn’t talk for too long because when I was stopped for a train only about a mile away, the radio talked about the collapse of the twin towers. That seemed so outrageous to me. I was thinking, “no way did both those towers collapse….that’s crazy….   

Of course, I was wrong. So much of what I, and I'm sure millions of other people thought couldn't be possible was forever changed that day into a sobering reality.

At this point, I had only heard about what happened. I had not seen any footage yet. I did call the office of the Art building and asked if classes were canceled. I was told it would be up to the teacher. I decided to keep heading to Tempe, as I wasn’t really sure what to do. Therefore, I just stuck to my usual schedule.

When I arrived at my first class, 20th Century Art, only about half of the class was there. Our professor was there, but she was looking very somber. We knew she was from New York, and I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling on that level from having lived in that city. She said something to the effect of, “for those of you that came, I’m just putting on this video about Picasso….” And that was it for that class. No lecture. No notes. It made complete sense.

After that class, I ventured to the Student Union (Memorial Union) and that is where I finally saw footage. There was a TV set up in one of the sitting areas, and it was so quiet as people -  students, teachers, staff, old, young, etc, just sat around the TV in silence as the footage was replayed and we watched the coverage.  As we sat there just staring at the TV, someone taped a piece of paper below the screen that said “counseling available upstairs” and it gave the room number. 

I also remember that some of the coverage didn't really care about typical FCC rules when it came to language. In one of the clips that was showing the second plane hitting, you could hear someone exclaim, "holy shit...!" Aaron Brown, the reporter back at the studio somberly commented, "I think we can all agree with that...."

I could have stayed for the next class, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel unsafe, but I just wanted to be with my family.  I knew I couldn’t be with Chris, but I still wanted to be with my daughter.

The thing was, my class that was scheduled next was one where the professor was clueless and would still expect us to show up. The class scheduled was an Art Education class, and there was only about 12-15 of us in the class.  All the Art Education classes were small like that.

Don’t get me started on this particular professor. Anyone who took even one course with that her (let alone the four or more that were required) knows the insanity of which I speak.

She was one of the professors that didn’t teach any of us a damn thing that would help us in our future careers in the art teaching world, but you had to suffer through the four or more of her courses in order to eventually be released from the torture.

Let’s just call her Dr. Outoftouch.

I still decided to just go pick up Mikelle anyway and head home.  As I left the Memorial Union to take the long walk to Lot 59 (located right by the Wells Fargo Arena), I passed one of my classmates that would also be in that afternoon class. Her name was Sarah. I don’t know why I remember her name, but I do.

I said I wasn’t going to be in class. 

Sarah said, “Are you sure Dr. Outoftouch would even have class? Wouldn’t it be canceled?”

I laughed and said something to the effect of, “Sarah, this campus itself could be attacked and she would still expect us to show up.”

And I left. Sarah did go to class, and when I saw her two days later, she said of the 12-15 people in the class, she and two others were the only ones who showed up. She told me that Dr. Outoftouch expressed major discontent that the majority of the class would use the “excuse” of what was going on back east in order to skip the class. The few students that were present were quite taken aback at Dr. Outoftouch’s lack of sensitivity to the seriousness of the situation.

Did I go home because it was an excuse to miss class? No. I saw the footage and I knew thousands of people had died. I knew people lost family members. I knew kids had lost one or both of their parents that day. Other than Pearl Harbor 60 years earlier, America had never been attacked on our soil.  I already couldn’t be with my husband. I wanted to at least see my daughter and hug her. That’s why I left. I didn’t drive over 30 miles from practically Queen Creek into Tempe just to ditch class.

Turns out, the few that were in class that day were so incensed by Dr. Outoftouch’s comments that they complained to the Dean! Therefore, when most of us were in class two days later, we were met with Dr. Outoftouch apologizing for the comments she made (even though most of us weren’t there initially to experience them). However, she still seemed confused as to why she had to apologize. She still didn’t get it.  It was as if she saw the events of 9/11 as a local New York or Washington DC event and didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. :face palm:

Anyway, back to the day itself.

As I headed into Gilbert to pick up Mikelle at Chris’s sister's house, a busy intersection (Gilbert and Baseline, for you locals) had numerous people standing at the corners and selling an extra afternoon edition of the Arizona Republic with the headline America Attacked.  

I scrambled for 50 cents and honked my horn and one of the guys came over to my window and handed me a paper. I did make a point to save that paper, along with the ASU paper the following day and the Sunday paper that weekend. I'd take a snapshot of them and add them here, but they're packed away and in storage.

One thing I remember that was very somber were how empty the skies were in the days and couple of weeks following 9/11. The flight path into Sky Harbor was easily seen out the window from two of my classes that semester. It was eerie to see no planes in the sky for awhile following that. A couple of days later we saw two planes, but that was when all the planes that had been grounded on 9/11 were permitted to travel to their original destinations. All other flights were still shut down.

Since Chris was kind of “incarcerated” due to the rules of the paid medical study, one thing that shocked him over a week later when he finally got out of his jail, was how different everything looked. He was amazed at how much red, white and blue had blanketed the roads, homes and businesses. American Flags were displayed everywhere. The “A” on Hayden Butte (otherwise known as “A” Mountain) that borders ASU Tempe to the north was even painted red, white and blue.
Hayden Butte "A" Mountain

I loved the patriotism and how people came together as a result of such a tragedy. I was saddened to see those high spirits dissipate so quickly.

On a personal level, three weeks later was met with additional heartbreak. Chris’s mother passed away on October 3rd.  She lived here, but her burial plot was in Utah. While Chris drove up to Utah with his Dad, Mikelle and I flew up. It was strange being on a flight so soon after 9/11 not long after flights were permitted again. Both the flight to Utah and back was only about half full.

On a positive note, at least the Diamondbacks won the World Series a few weeks later!
Diamondbacks 2001 Champs - with the better Teal and Purple Colors

That was one good thing that happened in 2001. 

Due to two deaths in the family that year (my grandma in February 2001 and then Chris’s Mom in October 2001), two job losses and 9/11, 2001 doesn’t sit well with me as being that great of a year to remember.

However, don’t get me wrong. Having Mikelle in our lives with those big blue eyes brightening up our tough days was truly a gift. And being that she was too young to really know the extent of the heartbreak and tragedy that was happening around her is a blessing in itself. I'm also grateful for the blessing to attend school full time and have the distraction of studies during that period too.

The pictures of her below being way too close to water and appearing unattended on rocks was taken around the end of September 2001. Chris was there and he staged it that way just to freak me out. He and his Dad planned a camping trip with some other nieces/nephews/grand-kids and I didn’t want Chris to take her camping. Why? Typical Mom worries. I wouldn’t be there to make sure she would be alright. I couldn’t go with them due to my Saturday Art Workshop commitments required for school that semester. 

Therefore, knowing I was already worried, he purposely took these pictures. Yeah, thanks, babe. And this was back before we had a digital camera. Therefore, he left the pictures on there for me to discover when I developed the film. Kind of like our friend Bruce did when he took a picture of his bare butt at our Fourth of July party in 1999.  (Yes Bruce, I still have that picture...._*insert maniacal laugh*...)

And I've posted this picture before...the funeral for Chris's Mom...October 2001
Mikelle - Halloween 2001
Well, that's quite the somber Throwback Thursday! Next up is some humor that has to do with teenagers and the deluge the Phoenix area experienced this week.

Until Next Time...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Not All Those Who Wander...

Today's Sunday Doodle for September 7th has an obvious travel theme. "Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost..."... I am one of those who dreams of wandering. The top of my "bucket list" is to climb Mt. Kilamanjaro in Tanzania.

Sometimes it feels like a feat such as climbing Kilamanjaro would be easier than the upward climbs to the top in this journey called life. 

Have you ever been involved in a huge undertaking, and you make little accomplishments within it....but you still don't feel like you've accomplished anything

That damn dark cloak...
Yeah, that's where I am. 

There's some dark places in this undertaking even though the trail is leading upwards. At least I hope it's leading towards the top. That's where faith comes in to keep moving upwards, despite the dark places the path leads through.

I've spent a lot of energy in trying to not be downer and a whiner. I do not want to focus on the struggles with depression (that may or may not be sharing a cab ride with anxiety) on a public blog such as this one. 

I found this image of the dark cloud...very accurate depiction
But sometimes it's just there. I feel a dark cloud over me...only not the beautiful dark clouds in nature that I love. This is that dark cloud within that carries a tar-like gritty painful substance that wants to coat me. 

It's what despair feels like when wrapped around you like a heavy cloak.

I know some, but not all of the reasons why it's there. There are reasons that are more personal and I will keep off this forum...and reasons that I've touched on previously: The move...the change...the frustration with still waiting for the bank to finish their patrol of worthiness so we can begin building...the worry...the unknown...

The confusing part of all this? So many positive things have happened! Christian is so happy. He has made a few friends. He loves his teacher and he loves his class. Mikelle has even made a few friends. Her seminary teacher says that Mikelle is slowly coming out of her shell. Chris has gotten more rest from being able to sleep an hour more in the morning and not have a grueling commute. I have more art orders - the pumpkins are growing in interest. 

I should feel the accomplishments. 

But like I said, it's like being surrounded in darkness even though the trail is moving upward. 

At least I'm not afraid to talk about it. Chris has been a wonderful support. Even when I don't deserve it.

And I know I'm not in any real trouble. At least not yet.  But this darkness has a familiarity to it that is not welcoming. 

Thank goodness for exercise, just for starters. And I do have a wonderful outlet in my art. I don't know what I would do without it.  Speaking of art, below is the latest pumpkin completed - this is my 9 inch size. Family customizations have been added. I also did a smaller one for the same customer for her mother (pictured below). 

And below that is a little preview of a missionary tribute art. A return customer is having me make this since her son is returning home from his California mission in just a few weeks. This project should be completely finished this week. 
9-Inch Pumpkin with Customizations
6 Inch and 9 Inch with Customizations
Preview of missionary tribute art - custom commission.
Sorry for the downer of a post. We artists can be quite moody. It's a curse that comes with the territory I guess. I was going to post a funny picture or meme to end on a nice note. But first, I saw this Pin with this Uchdorf quote. The timing was perfect. It was there to read when I needed it.

Okay, now for the funnies.  Until next time:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Another September...

Usually by September, I've had enough of the heat. Thankfully, we've been blessed by a milder August and storms to cool things off.  Therefore, I'm not chomping at the bit like I usually am by this time. 

However, today is an example of a cruddy September hot day that is not welcome. 

But it is what it is here in hell.

Here is the last Sunday Doodle for August 2014. I've found that smaller pieces of paper and larger subject matters help the doodle progress a little quicker. That's important if the Sunday nap is imperative too.  

And it is. 

Third pumpkin for 2014 Scary Season completed
As for the third pumpkin, I'm not as happy with it, but it's finished. However, the larger one I'm working on now is coming together even better than I expected. That's the way it goes sometimes.  Art can be as unpredictable as a tornado. Why a twister takes out a whole street, skips over two houses and then does another five house is a mystery. The same goes with art. It's usually less disastrous. Usually.

There are two large custom drawing pieces in progress now as well. So I find I fare better if I take the pumpkins with me to pick up the kids from school and just work on them as I'm parked there waiting and Alexander is hopefully asleep in the back. The pumpkins do not block the air conditioner vents like my huge drawing board does with the larger pieces. 

 Still, I have 3-4 different projects in tandem. The large drawing board with the air conditioning issue might have to be tackled a couple of times this week. 

Sure, I always wish Alexander is asleep in the back, and about 75% of the time he is. However, often he wants to draw too. It all depends on his mood. But he does draw a lot at home as well. He's really impressive with his skills and if I kept every single drawing, I'd have a huge box full by now. Therefore, I keep highlights and try to scan them in, such as these examples below. 

Here are some highlights just from the last couple of days:
Alexander drew around this clip art of a collar, tie and tag...the little head cracks me up...!
Someone Riding a Horsie

Alexander and Daddy!
Ship of Pirates...Spongebob, Patrick and Squidward under the sea...
Mr. Krabs from Spongebob
One thing that was hit hard in my Art Education studies in college was the drawing stages of children and the ages they generally hit these drawing stages as their motor skills are developed. It begins as scribbling, then they start to make shapes, and it goes from there (as vaguely outlined). I do not like this particular example below, however, because it kind of skips over key areas in the pre-schematic stage with how they start to develop the body as they draw. 

But I'm also being picky.
I noticed early on that Alexander blew past the scribbling stage and went into the pre-schematic and schematic stages almost immediately. I just wish he would not do it on the walls. I'd even prefer books being drawn in over the walls.

Mikelle has inherited artistic skills as well. I saw her develop it differently, but she does have it. Now at age 14, she doesn't seem to have as much interest in developing it further.  But I know when I was in high school, I had different ideas in how I wanted to draw and explore art. Sometimes I wanted to draw on my own time and not explore art in an academic form at all (especially 9th and 12th grades) or be pushed in directions my stubborn teenage mind was not interested in.  That was very different than how it progressed in college and even today. Therefore, I do hope Mikelle finds her way with it and eventually develops it further. 

Even Christian's art skills can be impressive. But with him, he is easily becoming frustrated at the technical aspects of it, as his possible Aspergers suggests. His creative energy and outlet is better served in the IT and Engineering areas. In fact, when there was an issue at his school last week and the computer lab wasn't available to the class as it was originally supposed to be, his teacher said, "Christian, please build us a computer in the back of the room that we can use!" Too funny. 

Well, now I've effectively tooted my children's' horns, time to move on to multi-tasking and other royal duties of the Queen.

 Until next time...