Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rainy Days and Tuesdays...

Happy Birthday, Babe!
...Do not bring me down! 

I love morning rain and storms! Thunder and lightning seems so much more beautiful in the morning. And yes, we are invaded with weeds, but it is so green! I never thought I'd say this in August, but I love how green the desert looks. The rolling hills by the high school are especially green. It's just a little taste of how beautiful the desert can be. That's the part of this desert that I do love. It does happen. 

And with the dark storm clouds rolling in - even better!

However, the inundation of rain down closer to Phoenix has caused some flooding. Hopefully all this will help the drought, but the real help comes in the winter with runoff from snow-melt.

Today is also Chris's birthday. Last night we went out for Mexican food and part of Chris's gift was the kids didn't fight or cause a catastrophe on the 30 minute ride to the restaurant or back! The restaurant experience itself could have been better, but it wasn't too bad. If only duct taping your three year old to the booth would be acceptable. THEN the restaurant experience would have been closer to ideal.

Spooky Season is just around the corner if they're already selling Halloween candy in the stores. Who buys Halloween candy in August? If I did that, I'd have to buy more to replace the candy that was consumed. But this also means the craft pumpkins are in stock and I can begin my Pumpkin Art. The one pictured here was finished today and it's off to Georgia tomorrow! 

Next post: Our little snakey visitor last week, how God continues to have a sense of humor when it comes to accomplishing what should be a simple errand, and how awesome it is to hear the river flowing behind us!

I'd try to write about it now, but apparently the universe does not want me to blog today.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mid-week Snippets

Sunday Doodle 8/10/14
I am not sure how this post is going to come together, due to feeling that I have about 100 browsers open all at once in my head. 

Therefore, there may be random turns in this post without warnings or segways. No, there will be random turns in this post without warnings or segways. 

However, the good news is the madness phase of the move is over.  Sure, we're still in the tedious crap phase, but hey, no more madness.

The madness of course is the constant working and overwhelming frustration with the Queen Creek house and the constant back and forth between one extreme edge of the valley to the other. Yeah, the gasoline industry loves us.

We do have to go back again, but this time, it's just to sweep up the backyard and retrieve something. And there is no hurry to do so, since we don't have our renters moving in for a couple of weeks.

That's right! We have renters!
X-man showing off his Pirate tattoo on Sunday!

Yay! Looks like they'll only be renting for about 6 months or so, however, but we're still happy to have renters. More financial stress taken off our shoulders. 

Last Sunday, we came back from church and Alexander immediately wanted to show us his pirate tattoo. I laughed, not understanding why the nice older lady who teaches him at church would have the kids put pirate tattoos on! Turns out, it was the work of his 14yo sister. Since he was still in his church clothes and his hair looked like it could pass as being combed, I figured it was time for another picture. 

That night, while watching Scrubs on Netflix, Chris comes in and gets exasperated.
Me: What?
Chris: why do you have the Closed Captions on? (Looking for remote to turn them off) Did you turn them on?!
Me: No, but maybe if you watch it with them on, you'll know how words are really spelled.

Chris first said Scrubs was a little stupid (we watched it off and on when it was on prime-time), but it is the perfect mix of humor and seriousness for me. This Dr. Cox line sums it up. And when we did see that episode, both Mikelle and Chris said, "That's totally you!" 

Yes, I know. I'm going to hell. 

And I laughed so hard the other day at this line from 0:12-0:30. I hope I'm lucky enough when I'm 65 to have boobs that are 29 and a face that is 40. Awesome. 

And any show that uses an Erasure song as part of its plot for an episode is good enough for me. I think A Little Respect was my favorite song for the entire summer I was 15. Anytime it was played at a 5-Stake Dance, was a natural high. Especially if I was asked to dance. But that's a bonus. Dancing to it either way was awesome.

Okay, one more: Turk's Bugle witch nails. Hilarious. Reminds me of days of a faster metabolism (when I was in my 20s...before Christian's pregnancy... :sigh: and I could snack on Bugles...)...I could pretend to do the witch nails without eating the Bugles. But who are we kidding? I'd eat the Bugles.

Same day on Sunday the above Sunday Doodle was completed.  And on Tuesday I got an order for a large Dr. Who print! It was sent off to Rhode Island yesterday. 

Now that the madness has settled, I need to get back on the art promotion train. I'm also working on a steam-punk piece. 

As for settling into life on this end of the world - there has been a lot of more rain here than in the valley. That's been nice. It's gotten really green here and it does cool off more at night. 

Has the house building started yet? 

I better not go there.

Until next time...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Oh Captain...My Captain...

Depression is such a dark and vile demon. It encompasses you and takes over your whole reality. It's not about finding the light at the end of the tunnel. It's not knowing or feeling the light exists at all. 

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. You filled us with light.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Happy 14th Birthday, Mikelle!

It is hard to believe 14 years have gone by already. Happy birthday to my beautiful Mikelle! 

Am I really the mother of a high school freshman? When I was in high school, parents seemed so old, frumpy and uncool! haha 

It feels like just yesterday I was waddling through another hot summer here in hell trying to fit (no pun intended) a summer class in before having my baby. Man, that professor did NOT like me. I don't know what her deal was, but she looked at me on the first day as if I was a high school pregnant teen or something. Plus, her voice sounded like a female Stephen Hawking. Only her voice was real - not a machine.  

This was an Art of the Western World Survey class. That teacher wouldn't ever call on me. Yes, it was college, but she indicated she preferred students to raise their hands. Okay, fine. That's what she wanted. But she never called on me. So once, I finally just blurted out my comment/observation to the Byzantine art we were discussing. She responded, "I'd prefer it if you raise your hand." 

I said, "I would, but you never call on me." Yeah, she hated me. lol But I digress. We're talking about Mikelle!

Okay, one more thing about the judgmental professor. I had Mikelle 3 days after the final and I was back at school 2 weeks later for the Fall semester. During that first week of the Fall semester, I saw that same professor in the hall and she gave me a dirty look, after clearly looking at my absent belly and appearing confused. 

After I gave birth to Mikelle, I was caught off guard at how scared I was. She was so small. She was 7 lbs 3oz (pretty average baby weight). But I was paralyzed with fear as if I would do something out of ignorance and kill her. I also felt like I "failed" with her birth and I couldn't stop crying. Looking back, I know all of that was part of the hormones and postpartum craziness, but at the time, it was such a reality for me.  Plus, she did not want to nurse, she would not nurse, and then when she became jaundiced soon after we brought her home, I found myself panicking more than I expected.

Her birth was rather difficult. Not her labor. That was a breeze. It was a flawless induction (I was induced due to my blood pressure continuing to rise. My doctor wanted to induce me even a few days earlier than that, but I had to take the final exam in that class with the stuffy professor first) and a perfect epidural.  However, Mikelle's birth was something else. After two hours of pushing, she had to be extracted with a vacuum and forceps. Turned out, she was "corkscrewed" and that was why the pushing wasn't doing much good after a certain point.

Anyway, no need to go on and on about that. I hope she has a great day. I know it's been a struggle for her lately with this move and the new school.  

Happy Birthday Mikelle!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Day of School...and Farewell to Simon

Chris is sort of today's guest writer on the blog. Yesterday we sent an e-mail to his Dad who is serving a mission in the Philippines. I thought it would be perfect for this entry. 

August 5, 2014
Okay, we have now moved 98% into a house that is about 20% smaller and 50 years older. Short 6.5-7 foot ceilings. Just a bit cramped or cozy, but the kids aren't calling it that.

It is a very beautiful area with numerous trees, birds and wildlife. You know how you used to joke with the dogs about the bunnies would be outside sticking their tongues out at them? Well, here, they actually do.

Unfortunately, our Dachshund contracted cancer just before we had to move. Today we put him to sleep because he was so miserable.  He would have loved chasing the rabbits around the big yard we have. It's about 1/3 of an acre. It cools down real nice here at night as we are right off of the Hassayampa river. That's why there are all the critters, but of course that means bugs too. It's a bit like upscale camping.

I had the family start reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and have offered Hostess Ding Dongs to anyone that can identify parallels from Lehi's family's experience and our current circumstances.

The kids are not happy at all due to the moving, cleaning, organizing, repairing and unpacking that never ends. Mikelle, as a teen often does, is convinced we are ruining her life. Christian thinks that we have stepped back in time technologically 200 years. Today is their 1st day of school. We will see when I get home how that went. They were both rather apprehensive. I am hoping that given some time, things will get easier and more enjoyable for them.

We are disappointed that the construction hasn't begun on our house yet and we haven't found a renter for our Queen Creek house yet. The bank has given us conditional approval for construction, but there is still another month before they will let us start building.

I am getting more sleep but the energy that would give me is being siphoned off by the aforementioned moving requirements.

So yes, as Chris mentioned in the e-mail to his dad, Christian and Mikelle began their first day of school yesterday. I took their picture, but I'm not going to post it because Mikelle does not look happy in it. It wouldn't be fair to her. I didn't take a picture of them separately.

Christian seemed happy when I picked him up and he likes his teacher. He was placed in the right classroom with his learning needs and requirements. Mikelle seemed okay when I initially picked her up. She was even invited at lunch to sit with some 11th graders because they recognized her from church. But she still seemed apprehensive and shy about everything. Then later she said she hated the whole day. I asked her why and she replied, "Because it sucked." I know most of her attitude is not being with her friends at Queen Creek High School. I knew this would be an adjustment for her. But it was better to start her at Wickenburg High School now, then stay in Queen Creek another year and then pull her out of Queen Creek High School. That would have been much tougher.

She begins seminary next week. It is different that she will have early morning seminary instead of Release Time Seminary as she would have in Queen Creek, due to the higher population of LDS students who would be attending seminary, which isn't the case here. 

I went to Gilbert High School and I had Release Time Seminary as well. However, I am excited about seminary for her. She and I went to a stake fireside about it last Sunday night. I became choked up as I recalled my experience with seminary and realizing how long ago it was.  And I looked at this beautiful young lady sitting beside me and couldn't believe she was already in high school and already going to be attending seminary. How did that happen?

And yes, on a somber note, as Chris mentioned in the message to his dad, we did put Simon down yesterday. I was waiting for a day that Chris could do it, but it wasn't working out with the demands of the Queen Creek house and a training schedule Chris had that messed up his usual days off. I noticed Simon yesterday morning had very labored breathing. He wasn't whimpering, but he looked so miserable. He wouldn't even eat. The night before, he acted interested at one of Chris's sandwiches. I heard Chris say, "I've never given a dog the food off my plate before, Simon, but I will for you."

I prepared the kids of the plans that morning for me to take Simon in to be put down. They seemed to take it okay. They were prepared because when these tumors became apparent and he was diagnosed, we told them it was going to happen soon. 

I called the vet that is almost directly located behind our land where our house is going to be built. They said they usually don't euthanize an animal unless they've had it as a patient before. I told them our situation, that we had just moved to town, and that we were going to be building a house behind them in the next year (knock on wood). I said Simon was seen and diagnosed previously by our vet in Queen Creek. I explained his symptoms. They agreed and I brought him in a couple of hours later. They were so sweet about the whole thing. But I had Alexander with me. That was going to be tough. I had Alexander give him a hug and a kiss. I didn't want to be in the room with Simon when they euthanized him. Plus, Alexander, while calm as he was drawing pictures, isn't a toddler to leave unattended - even with a couple employees right there. 

Mikelle made this montage tribute
We wanted to bury Simon out on our land later that evening when Chris came home, so they put Simon in a box for me and sealed it. Alexander was busy drawing and showing his pictures to one of the office ladies, so I used that as a distraction to sneak out and put the box in the back of the car. When I came back in to get X-man and we were leaving, he asked where Simon was. I wasn't sure what to say. Well, I did know what to say, but I wasn't ready to say it. I said, "He is sick, so we had to take him to the doggie hospital." That seemed to satisfy his inquiry for the time being.

I drove to our land (which as the crow flies, is close by, but it's more than a mile to drive around to it from the vet) and placed the box with Simon's body in our storage shed that is already on the land. When Chris got home, we drove out there and buried him. Christian seemed to really have a hard time once he saw the box, and we were digging the hole.  I don't blame him. Simon was here when Christian was born. I have a lot of different pictures of Christian growing up with Simon. I'm not able to get them together now, but I want to.  

Anyway, we put a lot of big rocks and boulders on top of the hole after we filled it with dirt and we went for ice cream afterwards.

Until tomorrow...it's Mikelle's birthday!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Still Riding the Storm...

No, these aren't my kids or my house. Thank goodness!
Public Service Announcement: Even though a lot of painting needs to be done, don't rely on a 10 year old and 14 year old.

However, if you're desperate, you might have to do it anyway. Let's break out the Picard Face-Palm again:
Last Thursday, after just the kids and I (as Chris was working) worked on painting touch-ups at the Queen Creek house and having the disgusting hallway carpet replaced, we picked up Alexander at my angel friend's house (seriously, she's been awesome to "adopt" Alexander from me during these marathon working sessions at the Queen Creek house). Heading back to Wickenburg, the last ten miles were met with lightning and thunder (some very very close) and the last 3 miles or so in heavy rain. About two minutes after taking shelter inside (and rescuing a couple of boxes that were getting wet), the power went out. Due to the craziness of the storm, I knew it was only a matter of time. The kids are still having a hard time getting used to the power outages. We had one the previous weekend as well due to a storm. In Queen Creek, I remember one power outage from a storm and it was 8-9 years ago. That was the only one that lasted a few hours. Any others lasted only a few minutes. Therefore, the two power outages we've had in this new residence has proven to be another new experience for the kids. They aren't fans of them.

Chris was about 45 minutes away, and I figured it would be possibly longer due to the storm. The kids cuddled with me on the bed, and it was quite funny hearing how they were making up words to a goofy song.

However, you know what's really fun during a crazy storm with a power outage? When a dog decides that's the moment to take a giant crap on the floor. 

Then again, I've concluded that it's clear symbolism of this whole moving experience:

Storm: Packing up our home and changing our lives with a move across town in the middle of SUMMER in HELL. New schools, new ward (congregation), not really knowing anyone, the pain of moving such as the packing, unpacking, etc...

Power outages: The additional sadness and depression that comes from a move like this. The annoying and arduous continual work on the Queen Creek house (painting, replacing a door, fixing the floor from where Alexander pulled up the wood trim pieces previously, etc). When the power outage lasts even longer than a couple hours, it symbolizes how every time we turn around, there is something else that needs to be done.

Dog crap on the floor: The "are you fricking kidding me?!" madness that has occurred during all this such as BS like the car tire two weeks ago, the transmission immediately after that, needing to get a new car in the midst of all this, kids whining and complaining and fighting constantly, things flying out of the back of the truck, the air conditioner at the new residence not wanting to cool if it gets over 105 degrees outside, etc...etc... Need I go on?

Koi Fish piece from 2011
However, there are good things. I've mentioned my wonderful friend who keeps Alexander at her house for hours on end while we work at the Queen Creek house. And Chris being home a whole hour earlier (the whole reason we moved here) is a blessing within itself. And because I don't have the neighborhood weight room anymore, I obtained an 18 month membership to a nice gym down in Surprise. That has been an oasis of peace for me in the midst of the storm. It's about 25 miles away, but it's so worth it as it also has childcare, so Alexander can have fun playing with other kids while I work out. There are blessings. Just like during the power outages (and dog crap on the floor), there is the beauty of the storm, lightning and rain. 

Another blessing that has occurred is I found this Koi Fish piece I did in 2011. It was previously misplaced and found in a bin of stuff (from my classroom at the high school) in the garage. I couldn't deny the symbolism of the Koi Fish itself and where it falls into this point in our lives. The Japanese Koi Fish means good luck, but they also are associated with perseverance in adversity and strength of purpose. I would say that fits!

As for new art, I did complete another one this week, but it's going to have to wait before being shown, due to personal reasons.

I want a "Toothless" Night Fury
This previous weekend had another marathon paint and work day at the Queen Creek house. It was a good day to be working on the garage as it was below 100 degrees, cloudy and then rainy. The downside of that is making sure our stuff in the trailer didn't get damaged by the rain.  

Then as we were finally leaving around 9:00pm, Chris announced that he wanted to take the kids (the two older ones) to a movie. 

We were exhausted and I was covered in paint. And even though I had showered 12 hours earlier, it wasn't obvious due to the state of my clothes and how tired I was. "Gross" doesn't even begin to cover my appearance. However, he wanted to make sure the kids were rewarded for the hard work. He wanted to make sure they weren't forgotten when it's easy to do in the stress of this madness and all the work that needs to be done. 

The movie issue put me in a dilemma, because I wanted to just go home and they could be rewarded later. But it was really important to Chris. We were in two cars, but it was raining and would it be a good idea to leave a trailer full of stuff in the parking lot of a movie theater on a Saturday night? I think not. Especially in the part of town we would be in because that particular theater had the time for How to Train Your Dragon 2 that would work for us. 

Yes, I was stressing out. It had been a long day and I was beyond shredded and SO DONE with this chaotic freak show that this move has proven to be. However, as I stated before, Chris was really wanting to make sure the kids saw the movie. I didn't feel comfortable driving the trailer in the rain and dark, but I didn't feel comfortable having it left in the parking lot in the rain either.

What ended up happening was Chris took the trailer on to Wickenburg with Alexander, and I joined the two kids with the movie - at the 10:15pm showing with paint all over my clothes. I looked beautiful :sarcasm: . The three of us got out of the movie at midnight and it wasn't until after 1am that we arrived home. At least the freeways and roads were empty and peaceful. Once arriving home and hitting the bed, I announced that I would be taking a literal day of rest. No churchy for me that morning! Therefore, no Sunday Doodle. 

Things are getting back to normal. Well, kind of. And slowly. 

There will be another Queen Creek trip this weekend. Please please please I hope this is the last one. I don't want to go back to Queen Creek again unless it's for the big Halloween party in two months or if I'm getting my hair done! You think I'm going to give up the best hair dresser? No way. 100 measly miles aren't enough for me to find a new one!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Barefoot in a Field of Broken Glass

Sunday Doodle for July 27, 2014

I guess there’s a Part Two to the moving drama. I really don’t want to get into it, due to pure exhaustion, but there is something to be said for closure. 

Still, I don’t feel there is closure yet. We’re still in the thick of it. There is still a vast field of broken glass. What's on the other side looks promising, but we're still barefoot in this field.

Anyway, so I guess I need to continue where I left off from the previous entry. 

That particular Tuesday (July 22nd?) after two nights of sleeping on the floor of the Queen Creek house, I put Mikelle, Alexander and Zoey (the parrot) in the white truck and headed towards Wickenburg.

First of all, there was junk (more boxes and stuff) in the back of the truck. I thought it was secured, but the top of my jewelry armoire flew open not long after we left. Chris did previously secure the drawers and sides, but he forgot about the top. At first I thought I lost my high school class ring when everything flew out of the top. I did lose some things (turned out, my ring wasn't one of them…whew!), but I think the worst of it is a new necklace I bought a couple of weeks ago. That was one of the things that flew out. The top of the armoire is not even the spot where that necklace should have been, so it's my fault I guess for not having it in the proper “necklace spot” that was all secured and safe.

If anyone wants to try to find it (yeah, right!) head to northbound Ellsworth Loop just before the Queen Creek Wash and Post Office. There was nowhere to pull off when it happened and it was a high traffic part of the day. Plus, it was 112 degrees and the truck was threatening to overheat even sitting just for mere moments at traffic lights.  There was no way to pull off and look for what could have flown out.

Anyway, so I stopped at the QT right there and attempted to secure the top, but as I drove further, I saw that was all wobbly in the back. I knew it wouldn’t make it on the trip. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I didn’t want to turn back and return to the house (there was some sort of “defeat” in my mind if I went back…). Therefore, I texted everyone that would possibly be nearby to see if anyone who happened to be on Ellsworth or very close, could obtain the armoire from me, throw it in the their backseat (seriously, at that point, throwing it would have been just fine by me) and drop it off by the front door of the Queen Creek house and be on their way. No one was at the house as Chris and Christian were trying to get a new car.  

Yes, the new car. I’ll get to that in a moment.

Let’s just say I found a solution to the jewelry armoire disaster, and I was free of it before too long. It did make its way to Wickenburg eventually where I did discover my class ring was okay. That was my biggest concern as far as the armoire disaster was concerned.

So what about the new car? Well, I thought Chris and Christian would get it and drive it to Wickenburg that night. Well, they made the deal, but it was 9pm before they were finished.  Chris was not about to drive to Wickenburg from East Mesa (where he was) due to the exhaustion of everything, so he and Christian would be on the floor in the Queen Creek house for another night.  That also meant Chris would, yes, miss another day at work. I was stressed about this. He didn’t seem to be as concerned. 

As for the new car, in order to obtain the car we wanted, we had to wait two days as we wanted a standard transmission and the available one had to be brought over from another location. The salesmen were confused by us wanting a standard. I don’t understand why. Standards are the best! We love driving stick-shift. The white truck is a standard, and I feel like a real wuss driving automatics. Now I just have to be careful with my speeding. I tend to drive faster with a standard transmission.

Chris and Christian ended up driving a loaner back to Wickenburg the next day, and the day after that, I drove back out there and traded it for the new car with the standard transmission (the loaner was a new car, and thanks to us, it already had 200 miles on it...) Then I went back to the Queen Creek house for a few hours and worked while the other two kids complained about it.

However, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to Tuesday, where I was still trying to get to Wickenburg (sans jewelry armoire) with a back bed full of crap in a truck that was being cranky with overheating.

Alexander was not having our little jaunt. Even though the A/C worked, it only worked in a minimal way, and it was easy to still feel uncomfortable. By Goodyear, he was upset and it was time to feed the kids and take a break. But I had the parrot too. Where could we go? Oh well. I didn’t care. We walked right into the Arby’s in Goodyear with the bird. And Alexander’s shoes had vanished. I saw them when we left, but they were nowhere to be found when it was time to get out and eat. We tried to keep Barefoot Buggy Bug in the booth, but if anyone knows anything about Alexander, it’s clear that was a useless prospect! Keep him anchored in a single location? Ha! So basically, we were reining White Trash Supreme. That’s not exactly how I want to be Queen, but I was that evening.

It’s kind of a blur after that, as even though picking up the new car a couple of days later went okay, there was so much work to still be done at the Queen Creek house. 

I am feeling so overwhelmed. In fact, as I write this, we go back Thursday. We were there yesterday.

Oh My Holy…Yesterday. 

I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s just more of the same. We went in two cars, and Chris didn’t even return here (here being the new residence) until after midnight. And then he turned around and went to work this morning. 

The candle is being burned at both ends.

Thursday 7/24 in Mesa, AZ

I did get back into the drawing a little bit. My Sunday Doodle is posted above, and I’m trying to work on my Zodiac designs for hopefully Threadless submissions. It’s going slow, however, due to the moving saga that keeps on going through the field of broken glass.

And it goes without saying, the heat isn’t helping.

Until next time…