Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter

Easter is this Sunday. The 5K Neon Dash is Saturday evening. That means eggs have to be colored and decorated before then. I was lame last year and didn't do the fancy eggs. Therefore, I figure I have to do them this year. Why? Because that's the high expectations I set for myself. No one requires it but me. 

 If you have no idea what I'm talking about, these are the eggs from 2012.  At least I think they were the 2012 eggs.
2012 Easter Eggs
And we haven't acquired the Easter Candy yet. I learned my lesson to not do that too early because the candy won't survive. Let's just get real here! 

And then last night, I guess someone at Target bought theirs but forgot to take the bag with them. When we checked out with our groceries, that customer's bag of Easter candy ended up in our stuff. We didn't discover it until we arrived home. The bag was full of everything that would have been needed for the baskets on Easter morning.  

I was so tempted to just keep it, but no, I took it back to Target. 

Stupid morals.

I figure since I probably won't see Chris until Saturday at the Neon Dash, I'll have him get the Easter stuff on the way home. 

I thought other than making sure the eggs were fancied up, I was ahead of the game. Until my friend Heidi posted this as her Facebook status:

What are you fixing for your Easter dinner?

 The first thought that came to my mind?

Oh crap. 

Maybe I'll put that on Chris's shoulders too - you know, as a way for him to make up for not being home all this time. Haha

Nah, he likes to cook.

Plus, I am behind on two custom art orders.

I realize this isn't exactly the Easter spirit here. 

I do love what Easter represents. I just do not like the time of year. It's saying, "This is the last holiday that you can probably go outside and be able to stay out there for a few minutes and not sweat and melt!" And it was 93 today, so even Easter doesn't hold that promise. 

I wanted to put in some Easter pictures for Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday, but that can wait until after Easter. 

Instead, this is so much more important.

What does Easter represent? Besides that Summer is coming, I mean? 

For me, it's not just that Christ died for us and rose again. It's what that means. The Atonement was and is for everyone

Our destinies are still a blank slate.

 That is so comforting. 

I love this video that Mormon.org released just a few days ago: Because of Him

It's less than three minutes long. The best part?

Because of Him
We all will live again
Death has no sting. 
The grave no victory.
We can start again.
And again.
Because of Him.
Guilt becomes Peace.
Regret Becomes Relief.
Despair becomes Hope.
Because of Him. 
We have Second Chances.
Clean Slates.
New Beginnings.
There is No Such Thing...
....as the end.
Because of Him 
 
That says it all. One of Satan's cunning tools and oldest tricks (but he uses so many new tactics and different methods to use that old trick) is to convince us we are not worthy of that promise. He wants us to believe that we are not included in that promise. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

 It took until my 30s to really discover my testimony in Christ and the Atonement. I wondered how I managed without it.  

Happy Easter!


 






Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Painful Optimism

lol...a cynical approach to optimism!
I am often misunderstood as being a negative person. The key word here is "misunderstood". I am not a negative person. I do, however, have a cynical sense of humor with sarcasm as not a second language, but part of my everyday vernacular. 

That may be where the misunderstandings begin. 

I'm actually painfully optimistic.

I think it is because I want to "force" good outcomes and things to work out so badly, that I get discouraged, depressed and plain exhausted quickly. It certainly explains part of the reason why I burned out with teaching. I wanted to go in there and "save the world". Then reality kicked me in the butt and I burned out fast. 

I become comfortable with the illusion that I'm some sort of immortal and I try to use my super powers, only to find out I do not have any and I was a mere mortal the whole time.

Now that's depressing! lol  

And yet, I never seem to learn. I end up doing it again with something else. 

But the result often looks like this:


I might act like a witch at times, but I obviously never had the powers to fly...
My mortal limitations have really hit me hard this week. I've been training for the Neon Dash 5K, which is this weekend. And yet, my typical work-outs have proven too arduous. It's been so frustrating. I've been able to make and obtain these goals for months - especially since the Color Run last January.

And this week, I haven't been able to accomplish the same running times and distances. 

I know part of it is the warmer temperatures. That is why my work-outs always struggle through the summers. But it is also due to Chris's crazy overtime schedule lately. We've barely seen him. Therefore, I've been doing double parent duty. Combine that with trying to accomplish things around the house as we prepare for this move and feeling so overwhelmed, and it's no wonder I smack into a pole.
Not quite, but that looks amazing!

And it was a miracle we made it to church on Sunday with only one mortal parent running the show. Sundays are always tough for me (for a myriad of reasons that I do not wish to get into right now), so having to herd three spirited kids alone, certainly added to the challenge. 

On the way there, I had to drop off a prescription, so we pull up to the drive thru window of the pharmacy. As we did so, Alexander yells, "Give me the money!"

The other two kids laughed and figured out he was acting out this scene from Spongebob. Therefore, after that, Mikelle did the only natural thing to do. She recorded him doing it again. Click below to watch - sorry for his screaming from seconds 4 to 6. You might want to lower the volume:

Alexander's impressive knowledge of Spongebob trying to commit a crime. 

Judge me for any of this all you want (letting the kids watch Spongebob...breaking the Sabbath...whatever you want to judge me on), but we made it to church, didn't we? I call that a victory!

Now if I can only accept my mortal limitations.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Finding Motivation, Inspiration and Flashback Friday

Finding Motivation
Motivation has not been my friend lately. I think it's due to the increase in temperatures outside. Then again, I look around at what I've accomplished in just the last week and I realize I have crossed a lot off the list. 

It just doesn't feel like it. 

Our office was a huge problem. My cousin Ashlee came over a week ago and just having her here gave me enough motivation to get moving on it. It still needs work, but it looks the best it has in a long time. 

And even though Chris doesn't understand my logic, getting rid of our bulky brown desk was very necessary. I feel like that desk was likened to a huge clog in a pipe. Once that yucky guck was unclogged, it's amazing how productivity and motivation flowed.

I'd take a picture of our office (that I am finally not embarrassed to have others see!) to show how pretty it looks now, but there is one shelf that has a lot of computer stuff that has to be dealt with.
This is the case with the office...no more, I say! NO MORE!

Therefore, I'm not ready yet to show the progress of what was once called "the room of death". Other than that area with the computer junk, it's looking quite sweet. 

I also packed two boxes in the office too. I guess that means the "moving" process has begun, despite the slow speed. 

I do have a lot of snapshots and photographs to organize. Why have I been putting it off? You know how difficult it is to organize photos when they're from years and years and you see things and start remembering?  

Oh, look how cute she was!... 

Oh my gosh, I totally forgot about this!... 
 
Seriously, I can't believe I wore that!... What was I thinking? ... 

This is too funny, I have to show 'so and so'! 

Know what I mean? Therefore, I'm not exactly sure how and when that can be tackled. But it has to
Oh, I would LOVE to see a sight like this! It will be SOON!
be done. Even though our move is to a temporary rental before our house is done being built, I am not transferring one mess just to cause a mess somewhere else. Nope.


The bad news in all this progress is we won't be selling our current house yet. The market has improved, yes, but it's not quite "there" yet to be able to sell the house for what we owe. 

Therefore, it looks like we'll get to be landlords. Yippee.

 It's not official yet, but it's looking that way. 

 

Finding Inspiration
Yesterday I pulled away from constant cleaning and organizing to have the treat of drawing in my solitary peace in the air conditioned car with this view (right). The picture does not do it justice. I do love the Papago Park area of the Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale area. It's right there with the zoo and Botanical gardens.  Sadly, the warm to hot part of the year is kicking in, so it's harder to enjoy these locales.

October will arrive eventually. 

Last weekend I completed this below custom order, to commemorate a 12th wedding anniversary. I do love the custom commissions - even though they take more time, it's time well spent (and that's what I'm working on in the Papago Park picture above). These projects also provide me the opportunity to know my subjects better and explore different themes. 
Flashback Friday
Apparently, according to numerous Facebook posts, yesterday was Sibling Day. I posted this picture of my brother Chad and I from 1978. I was 3 and he was 1. The picture below that is Chris and his three older sisters. I can see all three of my kids in just that one shot of Chris. Of course Alexander looks so much like him, but so does Christian, if you see Christian's toddler pictures. And even though Mikelle has my blonde hair (I think that's my natural color...lol), she has so much Chris in her. Just looking at all three kids around age 2-3, you see so much of what is seen below with Chris!


1971?

Before I knew it was Sibling Day yesterday, I posted this montage of Mikelle for Throwback Thursday from when she turned 7.
August 2007
I do have another custom order in addition to the one I'm working on. Therefore, time to get back to it. And keep organizing and making progress around here. Slowly.








Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sliding Doors in Our Lives...What If?

It's a risk to write this post because of where my crazy over-thinking mind will take it. 

Last night the movie Sliding Doors came on HBO (thanks to a free preview weekend!...we don't pay the extra money to have movie channels all the time). 

We have the movie on DVD, but it never occurred to me to watch this movie for awhile. However, Alexander actually went to bed at a normal time (don't get me started with him and his bedtime issues), and Chris and Mikelle were out on some errands. Christian had already gone to bed. I noticed Sliding Doors coming on, and I was delighted to have the peace of having full television freedom alone with my drawing board and pen for two custom orders I am working on.

If you haven't seen Sliding Doors, it's about a London girl, Helen (played by American Gwyneth Paltrow trying to sound convincing with a British accent), who leaves for work one morning where she is an executive at a Public Relations firm. She arrives and is fired for what appears to be political reasons as they were looking for an excuse to get rid of her. 

Dejected, she turns around to go back home, and she heads to the Subway station (the London Tube). 

She runs to make the train, but the doors close just as she attempts to board it. As a result, she misses the train.
Helen missed the train. 
Or does she? 

A completely different set of events and plot-lines then unfold. Viewers are then treated to how events play out due to her missing the train, but we also see what happens because she does make the train after all. 

The two story-lines become even easier to follow when in one of the plot-lines, her hair is cut shorter and colored blonde.
 
Helen and James (after she clearly made the train)

If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it. Sure, it has its issues (that some critics have pointed out...but don't they always?), but all in all, it's in my top 10 of favorite movies for reasons stated here and many other reasons that would divert from the necessary subject at hand.

As I'm sure it has with others who have seen Sliding Doors, watching the completely different course of events unfold as a result of a missed or caught train have caused me to wonder what would have happened if I made alternate choices or a simple step was made differently in my life.

How would things have been different if something did or didn't happen? 

I can think of a number of situations in the past where what appeared to be an insignificant event or occurrence led to bigger and better things, or in some instances, great pain and sadness. I have thought back on these and thought of what I would do differently if given the chance, or thankful that things worked out the way they did.

The Sliding Doors concept exploring two alternate futures reminds us how timing can be everything. My mind wonders to significant days or even moments that could've easily contained such crossroads depending on something as simple as missing a phone call. What if I didn't miss the phone call?  In one poignant memory, I recall choosing not to return a call after thinking for hours about if I should return it or not. 

What if I did return it?

And major decisions in life also come into play, even though they're not as simple as a moment of making the train or returning a phone call. 

After high school, when my plans to leave the state for school were squashed into a million pieces as a result of a course of events (that I do not want to explore on here for personal reasons and it also will send me on a skewed tangent away from the subject at hand) that were unfair and ridiculous, I decided on my Plan B. My Plan B was to attend Eastern Arizona College 3 hours away in Thatcher. I even went out there to take the placement exams.

But then as I drove back into town, something told me to stay here. I couldn't understand it. Eastern Arizona college wasn't exactly getting away and seeing the world, but even going a few hours away for college wasn't in the plans? I didn't understand. Would I ever get out of this valley? 

But I decided to stay here because for some reason it felt right. I couldn't explain it.

Even though it felt right, I was still upset about it. Sometimes what feels right isn't what we want.

That aside, what would the alternate Sliding Doors reality be if I did leave? Chris is a little sensitive that I wonder this as if it indicates I wish I didn't meet him. I would not have met him if Plan A or B was realized. But I assure him my curiosity is more in the abstract. I wanted to leave this valley in the most way (still do). It has nothing to do with any kind of regret in meeting him. 

While the course of our experiences and occurrences can make a significant difference, I do find comfort in believing that no matter what happens to us, we still make our way to people, vocations, and situations that need to be in our lives. I believe (and this is just the Bible of Jill), that this is where our Father in Heaven comes into play to help us along. Even if it appears something horrible is happening to change our route. It may be to allow for us to end up where we were supposed to be. It’s hard to see at the time (as it's like standing up against the Seurat painting and only seeing the jumbled dots and not the 'big picture'). 

For example, as I already alluded to above, the actions that kept me from leaving the state for school (Plan A) was something ridiculous and unfair. But was it supposed to happen that way to keep me here? Chris maintains that it is. Part of me believes that as well, despite still being upset at what did occur to keep me here. I have a perverted need for justice and I still want those responsible for the hurtful actions to be held accountable. 

I am aware that it is pointless wondering such Sliding Doors alternate realities. We can drive ourselves crazy with such thoughts. There's no way to know the answers. I do wish there was a "movie" of our own alternate realities to see just what would have happened if the choices in such crossroads were made and different paths were taken. You know, just for curiosity purposes.

I would bring the popcorn. 

Maybe we'll receive that knowledge on the other side. I hope we do. You know, just for curiosity purposes.

Until next time...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Flashback Friday the Fourth


Just a "Slide Show" for Flashback Friday. Then I have to get off the computer. Too much to do.

First, a couple of "Buddy" pics!

This was taken about a month after graduation from high school. My friend Julie and I. We were both just barely 18. My misguided Perm and Overall thing was still going strong.
Jill and Julie July 1993
Chris and Bruce at our wedding!
Chris (Groom) and Bruce (Best Man) November 10, 1994
And despite popular opinion, I wasn't upset in this picture below. I was trying to echo the sentiment of my little baby niece's mood at the time. She was voicing her displeasure. I'm usually a wonderful Baby Whisperer and I am at about 90% effectiveness at calming babies.  However, this was way back on Christmas 1996. I may not have perfected my skills yet. But seriously, I'm that good. I found out I have a reputation! Haha. Someone I barely knew said, "I was told 'Jill will take your baby, calm it down and put it to sleep.' " Wow! I didn't know word got around.
Christmas 1996. Auntie Jill and Baby Maren
Another "Auntie Jill" picture. This was July 1997 near Vancouver, British Columbia. That's happy baby Hana (see? Not all babies cry when I hold them...lol) and behind me is Jacy. See that color outside? It's called Green. And in the summer out there, you can go outside. And walk around. And enjoy life. It's amazing.
Auntie Jill, Baby Hana and Jacy - July 1997
And speaking of how great British Columbia is (Vancouver is my favorite city ever), here is Mikelle and I there in August 2002. She was just a few days away from turning two.
Mikelle (almost 2) and Mom in Vancouver - Stanley Park (North Vancouver in the distance) - August 2002
We had to fly home before her birthday, or else she wouldn't been able to fly for free. I think we returned the day before she turned 2!

What was funny about the Prospect Point picture below, is right after we took it, this tourist, a fancy Asian gentleman in a black leather jacket and wearing a gold watch and even a couple nice rings (and his slacks were quite sleek), says something to his party in Korean while smiling (I think it was Korean), picks up Mikelle, takes a picture with her, and then hands her back to me! lol


Mikelle at Stanley Park (Prospect Point)
I think this was taken before we went to Stanley Park, when we were in Gastown, Vancouver's Historic District. There is fun shopping there! The dock where Chris and I boarded our cruise ship in 2000 is in Gastown (if I remember correctly).
Too Cute!

Until next time...


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Art and Foolishness


I wasn't in the April Fools spirit this year as I have been in other years. It's most likely due to the fact that there is too much going on. 

Plus, I need the Karma Fairy on my side. 

I do love what my friend Kristy did.  Then again, this little fridge fun (to the left) wouldn't have induced bad karma on my part.

I did do something similar last year. I put googly eyes on Chris's work IDs that he has to wear on his lanyards. Problem was he noticed the alterations before he arrived at work. 

Still, next year I may do the fridge eyes.

But what's even funnier, is when Kristy tried to post these pictures, it was clear that Facebook is a little overzealous with their facial recognition assistance.


Usually it's me with the April Fools spirit and not Chris. However, this year it was reversed. Chris managed to get me with a prank last night. Sadly, I was in a very frustrated 'place' with the children when he demonstrated this. 

It started a couple hours before Chris was even due home from work. Christian wanted to use one of his Target gift cards from his birthday. 

This is how you know you love your kid - you put the Wii "Just Dance" in your shopping cart without trying to talk him out of it, because it's what he wanted to buy with the gift card. You willingly bring it into your home knowing your ears will be assailed by the noises that too many consider "music" that will be spewed forth into your four walls of solitude. 

Yeah, I must really love him.

Anyway, so Just Dance was immediately put on our Wii when we got back from Target. I thought it would be great to see all three of them getting some exercise and playing together. I don't know what fantasy illusion I was living in!

 The fighting commenced. 

Alexander was being three. He wanted to participate, but of course, in a way that a toddler would. Christian didn't like that one bit. Alexander wasn't doing it "right" and he was messing with things he shouldn't have been messing with. Mikelle wanted to dictate how they would use the dance game. It was Christian's game, and he wanted to be able to make the decisions.  He should have been able to make all the decisions at first and Mikelle could take over later. However, they were still at odds. 

Christian was slowly coming apart at the seams. Mikelle ended up storming down the hall and slamming her door. Then Alexander pushed Christian or hit him. Christian hit back. There was screaming and more chaos. 

Mom sent Christian to his room. He knows better. Alexander goes to time out, but there is a spring in his butt, so it's even harder to enforce without practically sitting on him. 

Mikelle had Mutual on Tuesday this week since they were watching the Young Men play softball and then have hot dogs. Therefore, not too long after the Just Dance Meltdown, I put Alexander in the car and took Mikelle to the Stake Center where the ball field is. You would think it would be a mundane task, but there was a battle of wills when we arrived. Mikelle knows she's not allowed to have her iPod at mutual, but she tried to sneak it.

I insisted she leave it with me. The arguing from her was attempted even though this has been the rule for the last 18 months. By now I had a huge headache and I said, "Fine...take it...but there will be consequences and you won't like it." She then threw her iPod down on the console next to me, got out of the car and slammed the door.  Lovely.

The short ride home had Alexander crying and wailing because I wouldn't play the same song over and over that he wanted to hear. I played it twice for him already. I wasn't going to play it a third time. (remember my headache?) Having a three year old crying and wailing for "White and Nerdy!" may sound funny to the rest of the population, but not when you have to deal with him and his tenacious willfulness all the live long day. The humor was lost on me. Hey, I love that Weird Al parody, but not three times in a row. It's not going to be the "White and Nerdy" ride. Well, every ride kind of is because we are pretty white and nerdy. lol

The wailing continued all the way to our driveway. I noticed it was just hopefully less than a half hour before Chris would be home and I'd have another parent to deal with the kids. My headache wasn't going away and yes, I took an Ibuprofen already. 

But then I saw a text from Chris that I must have missed in the 6 o' clock hour:

"Crap got a flat Got off the freeway at 27th ave to change it"

Lovely. That would delay reprieve from the kids. 

Then this text that followed made me just want to crawl under a rock:

"Stupid spare won't fit...."

Great. I wasn't to plan on Chris anytime soon. I came in the office where I could sit in the dark. I pulled up some art pictures I was editing, and I figured I'd just try to ignore the chaos of the kids and just chill. 

About ten minutes before Chris would usually arrive home (but I certainly knew that was out of the running for that evening) I was scared out of my skin when Chris jumped in front of the doorway and went, "April Fools!" 

I won't say what I said in my startled reaction, because it was due to being tapped out with kid frustration and then having him sneak in the house and jump out and scare me. 

Oh well.  Chris has heard me say that a million times.

I wasn't mad at him for the joke, because I deserved it. The best prank I pulled on him on April Fools was about 5 or 6 years ago when I put THIS as his ringtone, turned off the vibrate function and cranked his volume all the way up. And yes, it went off when he was in a meeting. Boom. Done. 

Awesome.

Plus, I was glad he was home and the flat thing didn't really happen. But I could have done without being freaked out like that. He did feel bad for that part because he didn't realize how much of a bad evening I was having.

Art Update
I've designed a tattoo or two for friends here and there. This one (right) is the first I designed that I am positive came to fruition! This isn't completed yet as she'll return for color later.  I'll show it off again when she has it completed.

Meanwhile, speaking of my art being shown off by others (and even though it was April Fools Day, I assure you it's not a joke), my repeat customer Dina posted a picture yesterday of what she called her "Wall of Jill"! The first thing she bought from me (I think) was the vertical triptych there of the Moon, Sun and Star. Those are the originals. Then she had me design the large art in the middle with her kids' names and other awesome qualities about her. "Wall of Jilll" today! She was my 100th Etsy sale, and those mini canvases with my prints were what she purchased. I'll post close ups of those in a subsequent entry. 

Meanwhile, these collage Believe Blocks are on their way to a customer in Illinois! I love the Collage style blocks. They're my favorite to make! Well, it's a tie with the Halloween ones!



 Until next time. Probably Flashback Friday...






















Monday, March 31, 2014

1. Wake Up 2. Freak Out 3. Calm Down 4. Sleep

:Deep Breath:
It's the last day of March. 

Time to buckle up. Summer is coming. I'm not ready.  I stopped being "ready" for summer about 10 years ago.  Probably more than that. 

I'm feeling so overwhelmed.  We have to get this house ready for sale. We have to organize, clean, pre-pack (stuff we can pack now that we won't need even though we'll still be living here), have a yard sale this weekend, re-do the hallway flooring (it's THAT bad...trust me), and other improvements. 

If that doesn't help, Chris is going into the crazy overtime period (this happens about twice a year) at work. Since he already works long hours and 90 miles away, this basically means anytime we do usually see him, we won't be seeing him. It makes more sense that  he crashes on a colleague's couch a couple of those nights. 

Don't get me wrong. I know all too well of the blessing  his job is. I thank my Heavenly Father for it daily. But it doesn't mean there aren't challenges to push through. 

I love the quote from President Monson that I put on yesterday's "Sunday Doodle". However, courage is only part of it. I have the courage. What I also need is motivation and energy.  

And I need patience. 

And to not freak out. 
No I'm Not


Here is a little funny from yesterday. Since Sundays generally are hard for me (no need to get into that can o' worms right now), this was awesome. It was about an hour before we left for Church. Chris sees a stuffed dog toy out in the hallway outside of Mikelle's room. It was actually originally wearing a graduation cap when we first got him as a gift when Chris graduated from college when Mikelle was still in utero. 

Chris picks up the toy, opens her door and asks if this is *still* hers (as she adopted it when she was little) or is it Alexander's now.

THIRTEEN year old Mikelle reluctantly and kind of pathetically goes, "No....it's mine...."
Chris: "Why was he out in the hall?"
Mikelle: "He was freaking me out last night."

That is funny enough, but then she continued: "...I had a hard time sleeping and I opened my eyes and I swear he was closer than a minute before that."
Chris: "So you put him out in the hall and closed your door?"
Mikelle: ".....yeah...."

LMAO! When he told me, I was dying. I sooooo needed that!