Thursday, September 27, 2012

thank you plus some karaoke

dear mumford and sons,

thank you for releasing your new album on the week when i had to log 5,789,574,259 hours in my studio.

thank you brother for giving me the album! husband ordered it, but hey- it isn't here yet and anyway he hoards his music in his car and at his office so i find out months later that he has an album. (yes, we still buy cd's. old school, people! and yes, matt i am talking to YOU.)

it's good for my soul, y'all. (remember what i was saying this morning about anthem rock? give me a song to sing along to with all my heart & i'm there.)

also? friday night my friend is celebrating his 40th birthday early with a 39.75 birthday party with karaoke with a LIVE band! how fun! besties from last weekend's getaway? why yes, we will be singing. so will my sisterbear and i. fun times- i am so excited to hear everyone's songs! plus husband is the mixologist for the evening, so i know the drinks will be good. if only i could get rid of this  cold that makes me sound like a man or a muppet when i talk, much less when i sing along to the hits.

happy friday!
what karaoke song would YOU pick?

this week

oh, last weekend's bliss of child-free, work-free lounging about with my besties is over.
back to reality:
two children who need a mama, and
so many deadlines that all need to be done asap. 
basically my schedule has been mommying (and all that entails)
 from wake up time until naptime/restime at 1. 
then i work on freelance from 1 to 3 pm (with a hundred interruptions from m). 
then mommy again til bedtime, then work in my studio from 8 pm- 2 am. 
this has been going on for a few weeks now, so i'm basically working 8 hours a day/night in addition to mommy all the in-between moments of the day as a stay-at-home mom. 
yesterday and today the girls were in school from 9-12, so i got those 6 hours to work too.
i enjoy the work i'm doing, but i just can't sustain this pace for so many weeks on end. i always work during their naps and most nights, but i don't usually work past midnight unless i have to. 

ay, i feel like a zombie. 
i know lots of mamas do the very same thing every day,
and that i'm lucky because i like my job- i get to paint for a living-
but i am running out of steam in my old age. 4 or 5 hours of sleep doesn't quite cut it anymore if i aim to be a kind human being, wife, and mother.
here's to a less crazy schedule next week (fingers crossed)

i'm not really helping this insane headcold go away; as of today i've had it for a week and a half and i swear my right side of my head still feels like someone slimed me with that green stuff from nickelodeon back in the day. (do they still do that? does that channel still exist?)
if anyone has any miraculous congestion cures, send it my way.

but one of the upsides? i've watched a lot of season premieres on hulu to keep me awake. confession session? i've been watching all of the clips from the x factor and i kind of love it. i might be slightly obsessed. i don't usually watch the music talent shows but i cry through all of these clips! yes, i'm serious and not being ironic. we all know that i am not very cool when it comes to certain things (i like cream and sugar in my coffee, i love anthem rock like u2 and mumford and sons, and i already know the name of reese witherspoon's one day old newborn.) so it is. maybe it also shows that sleep deprivation makes me delusional.

speaking of obsessions? i love our chickens.
and our eggs.
we finally got 5 last week!
i love them.
sweet rose cake is my favorite one and she lays the green eggs.
don't love eating eggs, but love that they sit happily in our coop every day.
look how pretty they are!
ps please excuse any typos or grammatical errors in this post; i'm sleepy.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

how fun is this for a weekend?

guess what is so fun?
 a girls only (as in no kids, no husbands) getaway with my besties amy & nancy!

sometime this summer nancy and i were plotting how we could at some point pull off a fun mommies only adventure 
steal our very responsible friend amy away with us for a weekend of sloth and relaxation.

of course, life (kids, work, dishes, laundry, bills...then repeat this list daily) interrupted 
and we never got any further in our planning.
besides, we thought it might take some powerful jedi mind tricks to convince our husbands to rock single parenthood while we went off to frolic for a couple days.

but we were wrong & completely underestimated our three boys.

our husbands subconsciously heard our wish or read our diaries (just kidding- do you think i have time for a diary? oh wait-it's called my blog & no, i probably don't really have time for it but that's what dust bunnies under my dressers, dirty bathroom grout and unfolded laundry are for- procrastination!)

unbeknownst to the three of us
matt, nancy's husband keith & amy's husband david
have been making plans for us for months to get away 
all by our lonesomes.

so that's where we are:
enjoying a weekend with equal parts adventure, laziness, silliness, treats, and uninterrupted conversation!

savoring these last two hours before we head back to our homesteads to see our pretty awesome husbands and adorable munchkins.
(of course i'm sure within moments of being home my daughters will remind me of why they are both cutiepies and havoc wreakers) 
hope you are having a wonderful weekend!
i am (and feeling so, so spoiled)

Thursday, September 20, 2012


one of my favorite tv shows is back for the new season - parenthood. i know, i know, i've blogged about it before; i love the characters and family dynamic of four grown kids. so many of the interactions are spot on (as one of four kids) and i swear i tear up at least once an episode. so good. anyway, this week's episode included a conversation where the advice to heartbroken drew, who is a senior in high school and whose girlfriend dumped him, was simple, "it's ok to be sad."

"it's ok to be sad."

i believe this wholeheartedly... it's important to grieve the loss of things- whether they are big kinds of things or little ones. maybe because i am a crier by nature (matt always says i'm better off if i cry at least once a week) or maybe just because when i truly grieve the hard things in life i feel like that is when i am able to turn towards wholeness.  

i haven't written about my dad for a long time on here, mostly because i think i worked through a lot of the pain from ending my relationship with him. matt and i went to a lot of counseling (well worth every penny), and had to work very hard to process, begin healing, and make new habits as a family after everything happened a few years ago. i was really sad for a long time, and i kind of holed up in my house for a few months in the fall and winter of 2008, mostly just to grieve the loss of my dad and some semblance of my relationship with him. i cried a lot. i ignored my phone and email a lot. i essentially made my home into a little fort. and once i was (finally) ready i gathered my tribe of safe people to cry next to and to listen to me.

i think about my dad all the time, partly because i look in the mirror and i can't help but see him; i resemble him pretty closely. i recognize his nose, his eyes, his smile. sometimes it is surreal that he still exists in this world - that every day he wakes up and has an entire life with people i don't know, living in a place i don't know, doing a job i don't know. most of the time i am so grateful for the past few years, and for all of the internal work that my siblings, our spouses and my mom have done; i think that on the whole our family is more whole and healthy than it was leading up to october 2008 when our family as we knew it changed. i don't think any of us realized how much of our family dynamics were silently being dictated by my dad's secret life. so really, truly, most of the time i am glad that we stand in the place we are now. i chose to personally have no contact with him, and that has been a very healthy decision for me, matt and our daughters. 

but you know, sometimes? it's ok to be sad.
sad that i don't have a dad anymore. 
sad that any form of relationship that my siblings have with our dad will always be fractured. 
sad that my girls only have one grandpa.
sad that my mom goes to bed alone at night, and that she has to carry the weight of head of our family all by herself.

{here i am with my dad ten years ago on my wedding day}

for some reason i was really sad last night as i went to bed. i had just taken a very sound asleep m to the bathroom; she snuggled into me as i carried her back to her bed and she burrowed into her pillow and blanket and in that moment i just loved her so, so much. i thought about how my dad saw me when i was a little four year old (that looked a lot like my four year old now). i thought about how i couldn't imagine raising my child and having her be out in the world and me not having any contact with her. it took me a long time to fall asleep so i just stared into the darkness until i finally closed my eyes.

a month or so ago, after we hosted some high school students at our house for the week (it just about killed me this time), i texted some of the adults in my life who loved me through my own not-so-fabulous-in-the-attitude-department tween and teenage years. my uncle, my dad's brother, was one of the people i texted and he texted me back, "i'd do it again in a heartbeat." matt looked over at me and i was crying as i read it - a mixture of feeling really loved (it was really the perfect text to get) and also this weird ache that it was someone else besides my dad who would say that to me. i went inside, by myself, and sobbed for a long time.

this july, around my mom's birthday - which is a week apart from what would have been my parents 40th anniversary, the sadness hit again. i was emotional on and off the whole week. and even though i think my mom is in such a better place not being in the marriage she was in, i still grieve.

grief is like a wave, with no warning, seemingly out of nowhere it knocks you down and as you are flailing about everything else recedes because in that moment you are overwhelmed and just need to survive. but then minutes later you've caught your breath, and you are back in the water splashing around. i woke up this morning and the sadness abated, instead feeling gratitude for my daughters as they piled on top of me in bed (guilty: always trying to get a few more minutes of sleep) and gratitude for matt next to me as ruby lovingly smashed her face into him and said, "my daddy."

for a long time i had to tell myself that it was ok that i felt healthier and happier without my dad in my life. that i didn't need to justify to people why i'd made that boundary- that the people who knew how my dad had wounded me understood, and that was enough. that it was ok to move past the grief into a place of joy in his absence. it was ok to be happy.

but a few years out, i have to remind myself that sometimes it's ok to be sad too. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

mish-mash sickday post

our entire house has been hit with the sick stick, some worse than others. our girls have noses running like faucets, but i got the full brute force of a sinus head cold which has knocked me out since the weekend, and matt got hit hard yesterday. fun times getting sick as a parent, right?

one upside to sickness?
well, yes, naps.
but last night we put the girls down early and my kind husband watched 
two episodes of friday night lights with me! 
so good, so fun.
and we are watching it slowly but surely so don't ruin it for me!
(only mid-way season two)

so i sent my sniffling girls off to school
(yes, i did; no fever y'all, just runny noses for a week)
in the hopes that i could log some studio time.
(ha- instead i am logging some couch time)
(my little monkeys before getting ready for school this morning.)

here is what my studio looks like when they invade (which is often)
now on to a totally different topic...

lately i've been impressed with how many different foods my girls will eat, 
so i am going to brag for a second about their meal last night...

poached eggs over mustard greens
(the greens were pretty bitter, but they rocked it and at least tried some. and i actually ate two bites of egg- for those of you who know how i feel about eggs- hate them but wish i liked them, this is a big deal!)
 roasted beets
 watermelon, nectarine & figs
 and some padron peppers
(yes, for reals, my girls ate these)
don't get me wrong, they have plenty of pickiness in them*, and love processed chicken nuggets and mac n'cheese like any kid, but i'm realizing i also need to give them credit for their culinary adventurousness too.

going to try to nurse myself back to health so that i can get back to regular life.
have a healthy day, ya'll.

*plenty plenty as a liberian would say

Monday, September 17, 2012

better late than never

i've been meaning to make m a book about her deafness, and about what it was like when she was a baby, since she doesn't remember the many different seasons of her hearing loss: getting diagnosed, wearing hearing aids, the process to get implants, the first days of getting her implants turned on, etc.

finally(!) i made one last week, and it's quickly become a very special treasure for m. 
she is very slow to want to share it with other people when they come over; i think she feels like it belongs to her (which it does) and so she can decide when she wants to share it. at the same time she is very proud of it and wants me to read it to her or to look through the pictures herself every day. she is so interested by peeks at her surgery bandages, all of the people who came to visit her in the hospital, and early images of her audiology appointments. it reminds me how powerful story is, and how important it is to tell our little ones their stories.

here are a few (poor, quick) shots off of my phone to give you an idea of what i made:

(ruby gets to look at it with lots of supervision...
this is why i made two copies- a hard cover and soft cover) 
{hope you all have a good monday! 
i've been hit with the sick stick, so today is shaping up to be highly unproductive and very blah}

Friday, September 14, 2012

it's friday, friday

this week, in no particular order & so, so random:
had the best animal viewing day ever at the zoo.
hi chimpanzee that was literally 4 feet away from us.
(and i really super loved the otters. beautiful as they glided through the water.)
looks of freelance. not my fave, because it is the sort of project i do and redo with tweaks, but still grateful for work, especially work that i can do with project runway on in the background. 
do i love that i have to work at 2 am? no. 
but i do love that i get to play with my kids all day, so you know.
yesterday one of our chickens laid this gigantic egg! 
(the one on the right. the one on the left is the normal size we get. it's massive! twins???)
it's a rare day that i get to sit down and eat breakfast in peace. 
happened twice this week, thanks to ruby's new schedule of two days a week of preschool. yay!
fun times! this week cousin sadie walked to school with my girls. slowest walking schoolbus ever, but also kind of the cutest. (so not biased am i)
daily story of my life. this room.
killing me.
my studio smells like oil paint. 
the best.
m said to me, "mommy, i like that smell in here so much. it's beautiful."
meanwhile ruby points to everything in our house and says, "mommy paint that?" 
haha. i love it. sometimes she's right, sometimes not so much. 
she'll probably say that next time we are at museum of modern art or somewhere like that. 
kind of like how m asked me if that was me when i was younger when we watched a youtube clip of mary lou retton getting her perfect 10's on the vault back in 1984. (is it bad that i wanted to say, "yes, that was mommy.")
and last but not least, rocking the last days of summer in the kiddie pool!
happy weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

so not fun

yesterday, post-the-time-when-my-children-are-supposed-to-sleep-so-i-can-work-but-instead-they-both-decided-to-nap-strike, 
i had to go to the grocery store. 
at 4 pm. 
with both of my non-napping but very tired children. 
which is the worst, i know, 
but i didn't really have many other options because matt works until late on wednesday nights.
my girls were not complete nightmares, 
but it was rough.

ruby tries to grab everything off the shelves, or climb out of the cart. 
m antagonizes ruby by pulling on her legs, or runs away from the cart, or sits in the back of the cart and smashes the food, or begs for everything in sight, 
or takes a bite of an apple so then i have to buy it.

12 years later we make it through the grocery gauntlet,
and i've actually remembered my entire list!

oh, but wait.

add in the teenagers in baseball uniforms who were standing outside of the store asking for money for their championship (legit or not, who knows) or some other athletic endeavor 

and then the very nice older homeless guy asking if he could wash my car windows for a couple of dollars (maybe you don't have this at your grocery store, but i live in a city y'all)

as i schlepped my whining, writhing kids and all of my groceries past them
i tried to politely say "not today, thanks" while wrangling two human beings in a cart
when all i wanted to say was, 
"do you see that i kind of have my hands full?"

then as m darted away from the cart in a busy parking lot
i thought:
"grocery shopping with my children is perhaps my least favorite activity. in the top five for sure."

because at some point in the errand one or both of my children look like this:
and at some point i am an exasperated, annoyed mom 
(i will let you insert your own mental picture here)

two questions:
any tips for the inevitable bad-time-of-day-but-have-to-take-your-kids-with-you-errands?
what are your least favorite activities as a parent?
(if you aren't a parent you can still comment and tell me what a good mom i am anyway, 
cause i could use the pep talk...
even if you witnessed me interacting with my children as they tried to punch all of the buttons on the credit and debit card kiosk at the register at about 5:15 last night) 

Monday, September 10, 2012

issues & teeth

i've had kind of a wonky day, one in which somehow the issues you have growing up don't go away when you have kids, they just come back again. even the ones you've spent considerable time working through. it's a longer post for another day (perhaps), but the gist of it is working through the fact that we really don't have much control over what genes we pass down to our children, even if we wish we did.

my friend nancy said the other day that having a preschooler is kind of like going back to high school with all of the stuff that comes up not just for your kids, but the grown-up social dynamics too. {it may be magnified by the fact that nancy and my children are at a co-operative preschool, so you get lots of social activity that might not happen if you dropped your kids off and didn't interact as much with other families.}

isn't funny, isn't it, how susceptible we are to those bruised places in us from the past whether it's with our kids, or significant other, or someone else? last night i got into a heated (albeit brief) fight with matt over dumb stuff. somehow even if a fight is over one sentence, or dumb stuff, it doesn't feel like it. (shocking) the "dumb stuff" was really rooted in my own older insecurities and issues that were unintentionally triggered and then snowballed into conflict. it's no fun when you both go to bed mad at each other (but i am also not in the camp that late at night you must sort it all out when you are tired, hurt and ready to throw in the towel). or in our case, matt went to bed mad and i stayed up late working (mad) both to finish my deadline and also to avoid interacting with my husband. very mature of me, i know. we became friends again this morning, but i hate when one comment suddenly alters the trajectory of your night (or day) and you are knee deep in an altercation with your favorite person in the world.

so, on an issues-filled day, i kind of loved this link about celebrity teeth that i spotted on a cup of jo. 
(tom cruise, what!?)
i just need to become famous.
hope you are having a decidedly non wonky monday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

the best

photos of my children this week.
 not so compliant during my pleas for a first day of school picture
can someone tell m that the 70's are over? 
so is the ice age.

happy friday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

some of my new cards

want to peep some of my latest freelance projects?
ah yes, i am staying up until the wee hours right now working on thanksgiving and christmas 2013, but these little somethings are out right now!

i just got samples this week of my newest cards in the papyrus line.
you can buy wherever papyrus cards are sold or at independent retailers nationwide or papyrus online.

i feel like i know about 700 people with september and october birthdays. stock up!
don't use me as an example, since i am about 2 years behind in thank you cards,
but you can never say thank you too late or too often...
and who doesn't like getting real mail?
as in a fun card to one of those friends who makes your world a little bit better just by being in it.

oh and just so you know,
lately the word verification in the comment section has been driving me insane. 
they are so hard to read that even i, as a living breathing human being with good eyesight can hardly even read them. seriously?! it looks like hieroglyphics.
i'm ditching it for now & hoping the spam monsters are kept at bay. 
happy commenting without an extra hoop to jump through! 
now you can just comment and hit enter and you're done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

it's a big day around here

here are my two cuties.
my two cuties who are growing up way too fast somehow.
yesterday was m's first day of mainstream preschool.
she came here two days a week last year, while she still went to her deaf school so it isn't completely new for her. she has some friends there, and she knows all of the returning kids.
but in my mind it's the big leap into all regular, local preschool.
the night before school we were driving in the car and 
i ask m if she is excited for the first day of school.
from the direction of her carseat, a little voice says, "i'm not really excited. i like ps (her deaf school) better. i miss all my friends at ps. i want to see my friends at ps. can we go visit them?"

i was surprised, and i realized how abstract the concept of finishing at one school at beginning at another has been for her. she has only ever known driving down to that other school, and so how could she really comprehend life without making that trek multiple times a week?

by morning she was excited to go, 
so at least for now her pangs missing friends were alleviated.
this year ruby begins going to school two days a week, 
so this morning was her very first day of school ever!
at first i was kind of not thinking it was that big of a deal; after all, in some ways it's been like she has been in school since she has been with me at m's other school since she was a newborn. but suddenly i felt this kind of panic realizing that my baby was going to be gone at school! i can hardly believe she is big enough. there is no denying she is ready...on tuesday halfway through the morning she told me i could "drop her off" at school and come back later. um, ok.

since school is now so close to us, we walked there as a family. one of those throwaway moments that is also somehow magical, twenty minutes that will burrow themselves into my heart's memory - walking with my little family, and our girls taking turns who they are holding hands with, their little backpacks almost as big as their little bodies. 
ruby was so excited to start the day and then got a bit timid as we got there.
as soon as we got into school
ruby ditched me.
she ran off to the play kitchen, and then discovered the snack station, 
a spot she apparently occupied for almost half the morning. 
(why i am not surprised?! snacks while someone reads you books? 
that's pretty much ruby's paradise)
when i came to get the girls they were happy as could be,
wanting to stay longer to play,
and exhausted. 

two girls in school.
m is going four days a week,
and ruby two.
that gives me two mornings a week to work in my studio.
it feels like a big thing, 
a huge transition for me as much as for my girls
since even when m was a baby we were headed to appointments and school and therapy. 
this is the first time in years that i have a window of time (granted it is only six hours, but still) 
to work, think, and paint where my kids are not either sleeping or being watched by someone else (either matt or a babysitter). 
the first time where i have a sliver of time for more than just freelance work.
the challenge will be for me not to fill the time with other errands or coffee dates or to-do-list items, but to keep that space sacred for my own work.
it's the beginning of a new era,
and at least for today it's a mixture of scariness, excitement, anticipation & a dash of the bittersweet thrown in.
(you are here)