Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Material Just Writes Itself...

I’ve been told time and time again I should try stand-up comedy. I’ve also been told I should write a book about my life as a mom, artist, wife, Mormon, weirdo, whatever….

Well, first of all, while I wouldn’t be afraid to speak in front of people and have “You
SUCK! You suuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!” yelled towards me with an olive or ice cube pelted at my face, getting started in stand-up would involve a lot of time away from my family. And as I already mentioned, that time away would contain bad audiences, heckling and travel that would feel pointless while trying to “break in” to the business. That would be fine if I was single or didn’t have any children. But the time being heckled, traveling and living out of motel rooms is not appealing if it also means experiencing that in lieu of being with my family. Plus, think of all the material I would miss not being with them!

As for the book, just time set aside for this blog is already pushing it. Plus, I’d rather go for writing the young adult fiction that I’ve dabbled with in the past. I actually have three of those books written. Published? Yeah, right. That’s a tough one too. Too much of what I’m familiar with is wrapped up in the LDS culture for me to write to a more general Christian or Judeo-Christian audience. But writing to just the LDS audience has pitfalls as well.  My personality in my writing and some edgy topics would rub some LDS readers the wrong way. And by readers, I mean, the LDS publishers that are out of UTAH wouldn’t like it. No, the plots are nothing controversial, but certain situations and character traits that would be explored are probably still pushing the limits within that Utah bubble.

If there was an LDS-based publisher that existed outside of the Utah “crazy” that would give my prose a read, I might have a chance. But there isn’t. I’m a Muggle, and an obnoxious one at that. I'm certainly not worthy of their stamp of publishing approval. I could just hear them now reading my manuscript (think Dana Carvey ‘Church Lady’ voice)…. “Oh, that’s just not appropriate…. That would not be uplifting to our readers…...  "What is her problem? Oh, I don't know...could it be...........SATAN?"

Therefore, for me to be published, I’d have to do it myself. That takes money. I don’t have that. 

So here we are - back at the beginning of this entry. 

But the “book” I’ve been told to write is more in the Erma Bombeck style of typical life. A more humorous non-fiction approach. 

I don’t know. Maybe. There is certainly enough of my own crazy around here to fill the pages.

I mean, remember the nickel last December? If you do, then you’re probably one of the 7 people that read this blog. Thanks for believing in me, person #1 – 7! (insert your name there)

However, if you are somehow here because you’re lost and did not read the “nickel” entry, click here.

So we know X-man likes to put things in his mouth. Many kids do. Most kids do! There's a reason labels like "choking hazard" are placed on things, and certain toys are only approved for kids that are older.

Alexander, however, took it to a new level with the nickel four and half months ago (especially with it getting stuck in his esophagus and having the nickel manage to be sitting vertically within it) and therefore needing to be removed surgically.

Well, it happened again yesterday. No, not a nickel.

A phone.

A phone?! Holy crap, Jill…He swallowed a PHONE?

Yes. Yes he did.

Monopoly Cell Phone Game Piece
Okay, it was one of those Monopoly game pieces. Yes, the cell phone piece.

THIS piece. And here’s another picture below to get an idea of size.

Yeah, so, Alexander and I were playing “phone”. He was pantomiming a phone with his hand to his ear. He then handed me my iPod and he said it was my phone, so I pretended to talk in it. Then he ran in the other room. I guess that’s when he had the bright idea to get the Monopoly phone piece.

Well, I go in there just in time to see him standing at the couch with a real distressed look on his face. Then a gaggy noise came out with a cry. I asked him eagerly what happened. He said, while crying and kind of gagging, “the phone….”

I knew exactly what he was 
talking about.
Here it is on a hand with other pieces to give an idea of its size...

Oh my holy hell. Again?

We’re doing THIS again?

Are you kidding me? Really? He didn’t learn his lesson with the nickel?

He cried some more and he said, “I need to go to the doctor!”

Yeah, no kidding.

I thought I was going to be taking him directly to the Children’s hospital in Mesa (that he’s been admitted to TWICE already in his short life).

But then the gagging stopped. He pointed kind of at his chest and tummy area of where it “hurt”. So if that’s where it was, it wasn’t stuck in his throat/esophagus – at least not in his neck/collar area like the nickel was.

Do I just do nothing? Wait 24-48 hours or so for it to “show up” on the other end?

I wasn’t sure.

I called Chris because I believe it’s his side of the family that is to blame for this happening again.

“You know that Monopoly phone piece?” I asked him.

“What, did he swallow it?”

Chris knew I wouldn’t be calling him at work to just shoot the breeze and especially about the modern updated Monopoly pieces that have a cell phone, so yes, he guessed correctly.

He wanted me to take Alexander to the doctor’s office.

:Sigh: We’ve been through this before, Babe. There’s no X-ray machine there. And the previous two incidents when I took him to an Urgent Care or close by ER, he ended up at the Children’s hospital (20-25 miles away) anyway. So if I took X-man anywhere, it would be directly to the Children’s hospital.

Then Chris reminded me of the ER co-pay verses the doctor’s co-pay. But I just don’t think that way when it comes to my children. Money is no object if it is a matter of life or death or something serious like another foreign object ingested by his toddler. Okay, Alexander is mine too (he has my eyes.... :-) ), but I already said I don’t take blame for the genetics that are responsible for this occurring again. (Well, I think I sniffed a popcorn kernel up my nose once, but I’m not sure). Anyway, I’ll go into a debt for millions of dollars if it meant saving their life or getting the problem taken care of.

But Alexander wasn’t gagging or throwing up or even acting like he was in pain. In fact, he was acting rather normal. My worry then became – would the piece block something important, like an entrance from the small intestine to large intestine? Or stomach? His colon? What about the metal in the piece? Poisoning?

But something told me to just chill. I didn’t need to take him anywhere. I watched him like a hawk, however, but he was acting rather normal.

However, a couple of hours later, Chris showed up home early. He observed him and also saw that he was acting normal. I said, "It happened because we were having fun and playing phone." 

Chris said, "No, it happened because he's a BUTT."

Chris decided to take him to the doctor. I knew not much would be able to be accomplished there, but hey, he was taking him to find that out. Of course the doctor sent them to acquire X-rays down the road at an imaging facility. By then I was done with the junior high carpool, so I joined them. 

However, before that, when I picked Mikelle up from school and told her what happened, her response was something like, "Again? We need to just make him wear a muzzle."

That wasn't the only comment I received that day. When you're home alone with such a toddler and they ingest a Monopoly game piece and you're not sure if you should take him or wait, it's nice to have interaction with other humans. Sure, some may be more helpful than others, but that's true to all human interaction. 

Other comments from friends included:
"Seriously? OMG Jill your life gives me hope!!!"

"Oy. Did your mom ever give you the Mother's Curse?"

"Do you guys have a nick name of "the goat" for him? Just curious..."

"I swear that it would save me money to just buy an x-ray machine for my house. My boys tend to be a bit injury prone."

 (I was thinking that too...just invest in an X-ray! I mean, really!)

And simple, but rather to the point: 

"That kid..."

And of course the ol' stand-by truth:

"Good thing he's cute!" 

Anyway, so Chris and I took him down the road to the imaging facility. Yeah, you know how easy it is to get that kid to be still for an X-ray? Well, it's not. But yep – there it was on the X-ray.  Down on the left (Alexander’s right) near the pelvis area, so I’m guessing it already made it to the lower intestine 6+ hours after the initial ingestion.

Earlier today. Yeah, just sit there and look like a cute, innocent little hipster while you have a Monopoly game piece work its way through your body. You don't have us fooled.

If you’re wondering what happened next, I don’t know yet either! As of 36+ hours after the incident, the cell phone has not made it back on the outside. And you don't want to know just how I know that for a fact. 
We Moms do what we have to do.

Yeah, I should write a book.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Colors Colors Everywhere...

...and not just because it was Easter. 

The Neon Dash was this past Saturday the 19th. I was pumped and ready to go. Mikelle and I arrived early to make sure we could acquire our check-in packets. 

Chris bought me an overpriced burger after paying $10 for parking ($10 for parking! Seriously!) Our friends the Kreps family arrived soon after and we were ready to run! 

I had to sit across the street in the shade while Mikelle held our place in line waiting to get enter and check in:

She wouldn't let me take a picture, so this was the best I could "sneak"
I KNOW she can smile! I've seen it!

Tutu and all!

(Below)With the Kreps...let's start the race!
Mikelle is almost smiling in these....
After Tev snapped this shot, he thought the above captions were needed...Cute....
Before I get into the actual race itself, allow me to back up. 

Last Wednesday morning, Alexander threw up what appeared to be "out of the blue". He seemed fine before and after, other than falling asleep for a nap earlier than usual. I crossed my fingers that it was a fluke and there wasn't a stomach bug going around. But the next morning (Thursday), Mikelle came to me saying she didn't feel well, and she wanted a bowl by her bed. I decided that it wasn't some 13 year old drama thing to get out of going to school, and with Alexander's incident the day before, I allowed her to stay home. She was grumpy and felt ill that morning, but then she seemed okay later.  She didn't throw up, however.

Now I was worried that I would be hit with this bug and not be able to do the 5K. 

The following day, Good Friday, the 18th, was a rare cooler cloudy day. Mikelle was fine. She went to the mall with her friends. I went to the park with my cousin Ashlee and her step-daughter Olivia. Olivia, Alexander and Christian ran around and played. We saw a mama duck on the water with her babies. We also saw a guy fish a large pylon out of the water with his fishing pole.  

Later, after I picked up Mikelle from the mall, we headed down the road to JC Penney's where I hoped it wouldn't be a disaster choosing something somewhat feminine looking for her to wear on Easter. What she ended up picking out was fine, but it wasn't exactly in the "Easter" realm I was hoping for. However, I took what I could get. 

Besides, Alexander had A FIT in their little stroller/cart thingies because we wouldn't let him out. He was really letting the whole store know all about his displeasure. Mikelle was in the fitting room, and I was waiting for her. This time, there was no taking him out or handing him off to someone else. Yes, I got looks from people. But I actually had a 13 year old *willing* to try on something nice and almost feminine looking, so I wasn't leaving until that was accomplished.

In other news, there aren't really cliffs to jump off of around here, as this is the valley floor. 

It's going to be one long summer. :sigh:

But other than my stress level, we were all relatively healthy when we arrived home. Then late Friday night, my stomach started to feel weird. I was worried that it was the start of something. But then Saturday morning I was fine. Still, I remember how my workouts earlier in the week were more of a struggle. I just hoped it wouldn't be a problem for the race that night. 

Well, it was. Oh my gosh.

37:45 was my Neon Dash 5k time. That was about the same as Color Run in January (that was 37:32), but the Neon Dash kicked my butt. I must have been under the weather because it was an easier course than the Color Run and sun wasn't even an issue. Especially about 20 minutes in, I was not feeling my usual running self. However, I pushed through because I kept thinking, "I paid money for this! Parking was a ridiculous $10 for this! There's not even any sun! Keep going, weirdo! You've been training for this! You've been looking forward to this!" And when I started feeling that way, I think it is an interesting coincidence that THIS SONG began to play on my Running playlist (which is on shuffle).

Therefore, when I finished, it didn't feel victorious. I truly felt like crap and I went somewhere to just lie down on the grass.

The Kreps with Mikelle showed up to the finish line later and they were in much better form. 

And Easter the next day? Christian was sick. I thought he might have eaten too much candy that morning, but no, it was the same bug. He did end up throwing up Sunday evening. 

Speaking of too much candy, so Sunday morning, Chris was sound asleep from catching up on rest from his overtime marathon, and I of course was laid out from the race the night before and how disgusting I felt. That meant, when Alexander awoke, he raided the Easter candy and Easter baskets in an unsupervised way that only the youngest child could get away with. 

Let's just say, he was one spun up hyperactive version of himself at church (and that's saying a lot, sine he's always full of energy). But then he came off his high and passed out in the Primary room. And this was while the piano was being played!

When it was time for Junior Primary to go to class, we all figured it was best to just leave him there. I don't know exactly how long he slept during Senior Primary, but apparently when he woke up he was MAD. Really upset. He was taken to his class, but he wasn't having any of it. I even came in and tried to help. But it didn't help. He was so upset. 

Therefore, let's just say the last 10 minutes of church was spent in the clerk's office with Daddy drawing on the chalkboard.
So that was Easter! LOL! Oh, the eggs? Yeah, I didn't get them all done. This is pretty much what was completed (the bowl on the left).

 It is what it is. Kids still liked looking for them in the yard. Christian is so sweet though. He said the eggs I decorated taste the best.

With Christian not feeling well on Sunday, the four of us had Honeybaked Ham, corn, green beans and mashed potatoes. 

A special Sunday Easter Doodle did materialize (above, right). I wasn't able to get it posted until this morning, however. 

And below are pictures of Alexander and Olivia at the park last Friday. Look how cute they are holding hands! If I knew it would have been a perfect cloudy day with diffused light, I would have had Easter pictures taken of the kids! But there is no way to really know that it would have been that perfect. Especially here in hell.



Once Christian is recovered, I am assuming this bug has passed through all of us (Chris thinks he had it in a weird stomach-cramping way last week).

Until next time...

Thursday, April 17, 2014


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 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... 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 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, 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!


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.