Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Sophie's first Christmas! Christmas for Sophie was mostly paper and ribbons (she loved unwrapping more than the presents themselves) and spending the day in her pj's. Although... her daddy did get her a pony! Stuffed, brown with a white star and mane. She likes to feel how fluffy and soft he is, but still, nobody can take the place of her favorite Lambie. Sophie never made it through the children's mass, so neither did we. We do visit the creche in our dining room every morning, welcome baby Jesus and say thank you, and do all the animal noises for whoever's in the stable. She seems to really enjoy that. There were a hundred things I really wanted to do for Sophie's first Christmas - not out of misguided Martha-Stewartism but because I deeply wanted things to be special for her - but I was too exhausted to do much more than lay on the floor and play with her. Somehow, I think it was special to her just the same. ps ~ I have a wintry screensaver and wallpaper for downloading... you can fetch them here.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Remember what I said on Monday about this Dilbert strip? Multiply that by about 20 today. But then make sure you check out this: people who bought Bert puppets from Ebay, installed rockets inside them, dressed them up, and had a contest to see which went the farthest. I need more of the GOOD zaniness in my life.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Quote of the day: "If you want your child to be brilliant, tell them fairy tales. If you want your child to be very brilliant, tell them even more fairy tales." ~ Albert Einstein

Monday, December 15, 2003

So true it's not even funny. Those of you who are designers, you know what I'm talking about. Here's yesterday's Dilbert, sent to me by my Mom. I also hear from those in the music biz that Spinal Tap gets less funny the longer you're in the business. Thank God we can still laugh at ourselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Mr. Picassohead! This is totally cool and fun. Act like Pablo and create your own work of art... then post the link here and share it! Here's mine... now create your own masterpiece. And for goodness' sake, have fun! (via SARK's MMB)

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Sophie - looking better than ever. Sophie had a followup visit with the surgeon today and they said she is recovering even better than expected! She now only has to have her ointment put on at night, and no more ice pack, mittens or big plastic eye shield when she sleeps, so she will be sleeping much better. It's a huge relief for all. She still clings to us like crazy and wants her Lambie with her all the time... but who can blame her? She's been through something really traumatic. For some reason, I thought: since she's 9 months old, she won't remember the surgery. Maybe when she's 5 she won't remember it, but for her it was still just a week ago and it's still fresh. Little by little things are getting back to normal and she gets more and more like her usual, sunny self. I think time (and the fact that her teeth seem to have broken through) will go a long way towards making her feel better. I really think a lot about the "Mama Bear" instinct that came to the forefront last week - something inside knew that my daughter needed me and that everything else would just have to wait while I protected her. It's nice to know I can call on that if I need to. Cheerio! Sophie is now eating Cheerios - she ate 10 this morning, and fed them all to herself. We know they weren't still in her chubby little fists since every time she ate one, she applauded - nowhere to hide those O's when you're clapping. She's so darn proud of herself!

Friday, December 05, 2003

We're all feeling better today - Sophie's eye looks better, my cold seems to be not so bad, I don't feel depressed. Everything looks better when you know you're working from home all day and have the delightful prospect of being snowed in with the ones you love most in the world, and some cinnamon buns in the fridge.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

The adrenaline I have been pumped full of for the past few days is completely gone, and the exhaustion/cold has rushed in greedily to take its place. I actually said a four-letter word today. Under my breath, several times, and to myself, but I really have to be throwing-myself-in-front-of-a-bus low before anything like that gets past my lips. Not that I'm a saint or anything, but I've never used four-letter words gratuitously - they lose their power that way. I guarantee you that if you told someone who knows me well that I said the F-word today that they would be truly shocked, and know that I was incredibly upset. Probably the last time I said one in public was 1990, New Year's Eve, and everyone in the car with me shut up real fast and paid attention to what I was saying. Right now I don't need attention. I need to multiply myself by three so that two of them can get some sleep for the me left over. Anyone have some spare magic lying around I could use?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Sophie's operation is over, we're okay. Sophie's operation was a success, but they found that her eyelid muscle was severely atrophied and shredded (the doctor's words). It's not great, because we know she is never going to be able to lift that eyelid normally at all. But in a way it's good to know that she was born that way (had nothing to do with the forceps when she was born) and that we tried every avenue before resorting to surgery, and surgery was the only thing that was going to lift her lid up enough so that she can see properly. All the patching in the world wasn't going to do it, and it wasn't a pinched nerve either. She will still need some patching to build the strength in her eye; we'll be finding out how much. Anyway, we know made the right decision. She looks pretty bad right now - her eyelid is purple and swollen and bloody, and wide open. It's going to get much better in the coming weeks, and they warned us about it, but nothing really could prepare us for it. They can't bandage it because it would cover her eye - so we need to put ointment on it and in it about 4 times a day, not to mention making sure she doesn't rub it, bump it, or touch it. She has a plastic shield we can tape over the eye for when she goes to sleep, and we'll be putting clean socks over her hands in case she tries to take off the shield in her sleep. She likes to sleep on her stomach, so tonight is going to be pretty interesting. So far we've let her take all her naps on our laps so we can see what she's doing. The operation took about an hour - from giving her anesthesia to waking her up from it. They brought her to us as soon as she began to wake and it took about 45 minutes to completely wake up. She is one STRONG baby - at one point it took the two of us and two nurses to hold her in my lap and keep her hands away from her eyes. She didn't know where she was or who we were, and frankly, it was quite scary for a bit. I sang for about an hour straight, and somewhere in the middle of my Sesame Street medley she calmed way down and had a bottle. I do want to say in all this - from about yesterday afternoon throughout today - that I have felt an incredible sense of peace. I know it's because of all Sophie's fans praying for her; I guess some of it spilled over to me. Paul says he totally feels like your prayers have helped him too. I really felt that I had nothing to worry about for Sophie's well-being, and my severe cold symptoms and usual pregnancy hunger and tiredness were all suspended for hours and hours so that I could concentrate on Sophie. As soon as they put her in my arms, I knew without a doubt that I could take care of her and comfort her for as long as she needed, and that she would be perfectly fine. (Not to downplay it - this was the most traumatic thing we've all ever been through.) And we really want to thank everyone for your prayers, because they truly have worked miracles today. So now we're home, and we're finding how incredibly difficult it is to do the ointment and the Tylenol and all that - but the AMAZING thing is that she's crawling around on the floor and playing with a huge grin on her face. I would never have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself. She's laughing, she's playing with her toys, she's trying to climb up on everything like usual (with Daddy hovering in the background, ready to catch her). She's even standing up and laughing to herself like Ernie on Sesame Street. She's really not herself yet, it's going to take a while, but it's good to see that grin once in a while. It's going to be a very, very interesting few days (and weeks) while she recovers. It will take 4-6 weeks for all the swelling and bruising to go away, and up to a year to find out what kind of mobility she will have with that eyelid. We also need to wait and see how the eye underneath is doing - before the surgery, her cornea was actually changing shape to adapt to her limited vision. The point of all this surgery was that she would be able to see properly, and we pray that that will be the case. Her eyelid right now is permanently lifted, and she may not be able to close it all the way. I'll take that over having limited vision for her any day. We also have to note: She charmed the entire recovery room - staff and patients - and the nurses even gave us big hugs and kisses when we left and asked us to bring back the twins and Sophie later on so they could see them. Sophie even got a rose to take home! I told them, "If you think this is good, wait till you see her on a normal day!" Not to mention that on top of all this surgery, Sophie has 3 new teeth coming in, bringing her up to a total of 5. Maybe it's good that she gets all this painful stuff out of the way now so that she can concentrate on her first Christmas and turning 1 in February. Okay... that's probably more than you wanted to know, but it gives you a pretty good picture of Sophie right now. Please continue praying for her speedy and complete recovery, and for her parents too. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Incredibly thankful For 9 months, Sophie grew under my heart. Yesterday marked 9 months that Sophie has grown up in the world. I could not, in my wildest dreams, have asked for a more amazing, happy, beautiful, clever, sweet, and wonderful daughter. Every day she astounds me and her daddy with something new she's figured out for herself; a new way to play with her toys, an attraction for the ottoman (just the right height to practice standing up on), new sounds to try out. This morning it was figuring out how to open an almost-closed bedroom door and crawl around the hallway. She is our biggest blessing that either of us has ever received, and we thank God every day for the amazing gift that is Sophia Grace. (Blessings 2 and 3 are doing just fine, too.) Tuesday is her surgery (barring any last minute colds) and it has her dad and me up all night, worrying. The important part we have to keep remembering is, she will be able to see properly. That's all I really care about. So you want to see lots and lots of Sophie pictures? We've finally updated her page - so get your Sophie fix right here.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Woo hoo!! The Shop is up and running! Choose from 5 different sets of cards, all in gorgeous full color on glossy stock. All images are my original watercolor and colored pencil paintings, with a brand new, never-seen-before card for 2003! Come check them out!

Thursday, November 13, 2003

"Let it Be... Naked" premieres tonight on the radio Okay, I heard most of it already on Q104, and from what I've heard, 'The Long and Winding Road' on its own is already worth the price of the album... it's gorgeous. It's being World Premiered across the country tonight, so get out your tape recorders if you go to bed early like me. ;) So... how pregnant are you? Okay, this is bad... I heard "Butterfly Kisses" on the radio yesterday, a song I abolutely loathe, and it made me cry and cry... all I could think of was of Sophie growing up and dancing with Paul on her wedding day. On my wedding day, my dad and I danced to "Unforgettable" and talked about what we'd be eating once the song was over. Naturally, we sang it to each other... there was no crying and weeping and "you're all grown up now." So the fact that this other song made me lose it is a sure sign of hormonal excess. And 6 more months to go... And what about the cards already? My shipment of envelopes just arrived (the printer forgot to send them) and we've hit a glitch in the online-store-taking-credit-cards department. But it all should be up and running by Monday, God willing. I promise, they're worth the wait!

Monday, November 10, 2003

My Christmas cards arrived from the printer. And they're GORGEOUS!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

More about Sophie's surgery Well, we just got back from meeting the surgeon. She's very nice and we feel confident that she'll do a fine job with Sophie. However.... she thought Sophie's case was more serious than we originally thought it was. We've been thinking, "Okay, a little tuck and she'll be perfect," and it's not going to be that simple. They are concerned about Sophie's lack of muscle tone in that eyelid; they also can't determine whether the eye itself can look up all the way. Apparently, the fact that her eyes move left, right, and down together has no bearing on whether they move up together or not. So we'll find out if the eye muscle is also damaged/didn't develop/whatever. It's not something we'd ever thought of - we thought her eye was just fine (and it might be - but we can't tell yet). So here's what we're doing: On Dec. 2, the doctor will perform surgery on Sophie (I HATE saying that!) and will tighten the muscle and her eyelid so that it's open. She may not be able to close it all the way, but we'd rather have her see. She will have dissolving stitches and it will be an outpatient thing - she won't be in the hospital overnight and they want her eye to be uncovered by bandages so that she can work on her vision as soon as possible. We also opted for a procedure where one of us will be in scrubs and will hold Sophie while they administer the anesthesia (gas) - the alternative is that they would give her a medication that would make her really happy and not care what they're doing (so they could give her gas), also it would give her a temporary memory loss. But we feel like (a) she's not going to remember any of this anyway and (b) we don't want to give her two medications when she only really needs one, so we're not doing going that route. There is a very strong possibility that she will need another surgery when she's 2 or 3. The next step is to make a sling that holds up her eyelid and attaches underneath her forehead - she would open her eyes further by lifting her eyebrows. (This is all under the skin, nobody would see anything.) The second part of it is that some doctors like to do the same procedure on the good eyelid so they match. Our doctor feels (and we heartily agree) that nobody should mess with a good eye. But there is a possibility that she may need the sling procedure when she's older, if this first surgery doesn't do what we hope it will. That's the latest... you now now everything we do. We promise we'll keep you posted. Please, please, please, start praying like crazy. This all may sound like we're really calm, but we're pretty upset. The only one who doesn't really seem to care yet is Sophie, who flirted madly with everyone in the waiting room and charmed them all. (Naturally!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

No respect! Sophie's new word is Dada. Forget the fact that she said Mama first, all she wants to say now is Dada. An example of a typical conversation: E: Sophie, can you say Mama? S: Dada. E: Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmama! S: Dadadadadadadada! E: Sophie, who carried you for 9 months and then gave birth to you after 5 hours of hard labor? S: Dada! E: (thinking)..... Sophie, who loves your Mama more than anyone in the whole world? S: Goooblurzrbrtzzzzzzzzzz! I can't win. String Theory: Make sure you don't miss this: The Elegant Universe on PBS tonight. "Eleven dimensions, parallel universes, and a world made out of strings. It's not science fiction, it's string theory." Absolutely fascinating even if you know zip about physics like me. I love PBS! And the rest: Thanks for all the comments and well-wishes. I have truly been feeling like garbage lately and the warm feelings really help cheer me up. We hope to have pictures to post soon! The cards are being printed and should arrive by the end of next week - which means I have to get my form up and working. If I can do all this when I'm nauseous and exhausted... imagine what I could accomplish when I'm back to normal?

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Double the fun. Here's my other news.... we found out we are having twins. Yes, TWINS. And now to answer the top ten questions we get from everyone (following the five seconds of stunned silence that usually comes with our news): 1. No, we’re not kidding. Really. 2. Yes, we were surprised! We figured we were expecting, but nobody was expecting that. 3. Yes, it does run in the family. 4. No, their names will not rhyme and we will not dress them alike. 5. May 8th, 2004, but twins can come up to a month ahead of the due date. We’re at 12 weeks now. 6. No, we’re not going to find out the sexes till they’re born. 7. The verdict is that they’re not identical, but there’s no surefire way to tell until after they’re born. They each have their own food source and sac (just like a single baby) and that’s the healthiest situation, so we’re really happy about that. They’re A and B on the ultrasounds. 8. Since Sophie was the Cinnabun, they’re the Muffins for right now. 9. Yes, we’re very excited! 10. Yes, we are a little overwhelmed and could use all the prayers and help we can get. And nobody better say "I knew it!" ... you might of known half of it, but nobody could have gotten this kind of thing. ;)
Welcome to the world, little Beatrice Milly. Now go ask your daddy to write you some lullabies and put out an album, please.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Sophie needs eye surgery. We just got back from Sophie's checkup at the eye doctor's and the verdict is that she needs surgery before she's a year old - that gives us just 4 months to work with. (For those who might not remember, Sophie has a ptosis - the muscle that opens her right eyelid never developed, and she has a difficult time seeing out of her right eye.) Paul and I had discussed earlier that if she needed the surgery we wanted it done during the summer, but it looks like the decision's being made for us. It's not that her eyesight is so horrible, it's just that the patch isn't doing as good of a job as it should for her, and rather than make her go in a cycle of increasing and decreasing patch times, the doctor felt it would be best to take care of her eyelid as soon as possible. We can't say we're all that surprised. We have the names of two cosmetic surgeons to check out - we have to see who's in our group and who's available - and meet them and set up a date for her surgery. The good thing is that it's an outpatient surgery, they aren't going to touch her eye (just her eyelid), and our doctor says that many kids are up and playing that afternoon after surgery. There's even a possibility they will let one of us in the operating room with her. So - please keep us in your prayers to find the right doctor and the right solution for Sophie. It seems like God's putting an awful lot on our plates right now, but somehow we'll get through it. :) I'll finish with some good Sophie news - Sophie just turned 8 months old this weekend; she says "Mama" and "Daddy" (in general, although she has called us Mama and Dada a few times to our faces); if you say "boing" to her she bounces up and down; she crawls all over the place; and she just started clapping her hands, she applauds herself for everything - finishing her lunch, getting her diaper changed, when you sing her a song - she claps for it all! I also have some more news to share - but that's going to have to wait for another day... this is about all I can handle for now.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

The Saga Continues ~ or ~ AAaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh! Wednesday I got the proofs for the cards back - and found that 3 of the cards had off-color backgrounds. My fault, but I had printed these images 7,000 times already, so I didn't see the problem on any of my proofs. So tonight I fixed the files to the best of my ability and reposted them. Hopefully, this will do the trick. I have to admit, when I saw the proofs, I cried. I also found out that it was cost-prohibitive to print 5 rather that the 4 I had originally been quoted - but I the decision of which one to drop was made for me with an innocent question from Paul: "Did you ever find out if the Little Drummer Boy is in the public domain?" Naturally, I thought it was, and naturally, I now can't find verification of that fact anywhere. (And believe me, we have manymanymany piano books in our house, and not one of them has the information.) So it's a really good thing I painted a new one this year; I'll still have four. (Still investigating the Drummer Boy fact for the next printing.) Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting against the tide, and every step I take drags me two steps back. I can't stop trying, though.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I DID IT!!!!! I DID IT!!!!! I DID IT!!!!! - I put the package in the FedEx box - I placed an order online - I spent money on my credit card - this is the real deal! - Proofs should come in a week and the cards should ship a week after that! Now... where am I going to put 2,000 Christmas cards?

Monday, October 20, 2003

MONDAY UPDATE: The new card is all scanned in, proofed, I'm making mockups for the printer, and all I need is for Paul to burn me a CD and then I'll send it tomorrow. I will be kissing the CD, and each and every one of you who encouraged me along the way. It's helped me SO much to post here - to be accountable for the work I set out to do. I'm not sure yet if I will be selling the 5th card, or just using it for our family to send out this year - but here's a little piece of it to show.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

WEEKEND UPDATE: Saturday I finished the entire 5th painting. When I was done, I just started crying and crying uncontrollably - I think in part because I couldn't believe I had actually done it! Sunday (tonight) my plans were thwarted by our scanner not working, so I couldn't scan in #5, format the new card, and make the CD I was hoping would go out tomorrow morning. Instead, I will go in to work early and use the scanner there; and my wonderful wonderful husband printed out color proofs for me to compare to the originals and send to the printer. I am 90% of the way there... tomorrow I'll scan and make the 5th card, and Paul promised me that after his work (at 10pm or so) we'll print the final proof and make the CD. And then Tuesday morning it will be on its way in the FedEx box with a kiss for luck. :) Keep those good vibes coming... I'm nearly there!

Friday, October 17, 2003

FRIDAY UPDATE: Oh my goodness - I AM ALMOST FINISHED WITH CARD #5 - just have a little more lettering work to do. This weekend I want to scan it and set up the card so I can send 5 to the printer instead of 4! This is one time when I really exceeded my expectations - by taking things one step at a time, I was able to chip away at the project and finish it - and not in a rush, but the way I want to! Thanks again for the support - more reporting tomorrow (when I hopefully will finish all the lettering at least) - and Monday should be the big CD burning for the printer! Woohoo! Keep those good thoughts coming!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

THURSDAY UPDATE: Before work today, I compiled all the files into one folder for the printer and relinked the images so they'll print correctly. After dinner, I was so psyched to paint - but then Sophie needed to be put to bed and she has a cold and it was a large ordeal - and I could feel my painting desire slipping away from me with each squirm. So I just sang enough songs to get her to sleep and when at last I had time to myself, I made myself do a little painting and see how it went. I managed for an hour - and now I'm falling asleep so I'm afraid I'll mess things up if I work on it more. I had fun and I'm happy with how it's going! Back to painting at 7 am tomorrow morning.... There'll be another update tomorrow! Thanks for the support!

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: I spent time before work this morning painting my newest card (#5) - it's coming together and I really like the way it's turning out! Tonight, I found myself waffling on doing more work... so I promised myself that I needed to work for 1/2 hour, and then I could take a break and eat something (my fridge... is... calling... Hey, artists need to eat, too!) I worked on the form for the site and I'm learning how very much I don't know yet. But I'm willing to learn! Going to make myself some turkey now... :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Christmas Card Countdown: Monday and Tuesday MONDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Hot diggety! I've done two important things tonight: made a big list of micromovements (which could probably be broken down even further), and emailed the printer to get some final specs and to let them know the files would be coming by the end of the week. Yay me! And my wonderful hubby is right this moment transferring my files and artwork from an old drive to one of his laptops, so I can work on them when- and wherever I need to. (The computer I had all my artwork on is in one of his studios and students are in there all afternoon and evening, so I can't work on it.) Okay - that's day 1. Tomorrow: hopefully I will be able to work on the order form and figure out what food I need to make my programming coworkers to get them to help me make it work..... TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Tonight I set up all the files for the printer - using a new program I've never touched before (InDesign - I'm a Quark girl). So that's 4 cards all ready to go! I have a fifth card I've been painting; and I'm going to do my best to get it finished, scanned, and on the CD for the printer along with the other 4. Oh yes, and I followed up with my programmer friend at work who said he'd help me with making the forms work properly in the next week! I also got an email back from the printer, who said, "We look forward to printing your Christmas Cards!" Woo hoo! I really want to thank everyone for the support - it's working!

Monday, October 13, 2003

Okay, kids, I've decided that this is the week that the Christmas cards get done and finished. I have honestly been too drag-myself-up-the-stairs exhausted to work on anything for a while now, and it's literally eating me up inside. I've passed up my past three precious Art Nights in favor of a nap, and the thought that I might not get these cards completed is (one of the many things) keeping me up at 3am. So. Starting tonight, I will be working diligently - painting, making lists, compliling all my art on a CD to send to the printer - all that stuff. I hereby vow that one week from today I will be able to announce proudly that they're at the printers and I'm just waiting for proofs. Any thoughts, energy, strength, and cookies you can send my way is appreciated. It's really difficult for me to work lately and I need all the help I can get. You'll hear the play-by-play, the thought process, and I'll try to tone down the agonizing part of it. :) And then maybe I'll be ready to talk about what's been going on with me.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Today would have been Nana's birthday... She was an amazing woman; 95 years old and still succulent. She was a fighter, she believed fiercely in prayer, and she loved to have her picture taken. She was also one of the best cooks ever. She was my Nana by marriage but she became my real Nana too. It's amazing now to see some of her expressions on Sophie's little face and to know she lives on. I'm so glad I learned how to make her meatballs.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Sophie's crawling!

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Artists in the Making Auction is this weekend! I'm excited - an original painting of mine is being auctioned off to help raise money for middle schools in San Francisco that have NO money for art supplies. It's a wonderful cause, and as I've never sold a painting before, I'm curious to see what someone would pay for one! You can see the painting and read more about the auction here. It looks like I will make it. I am doing okay - thanks for the concern and well-wishes. My new mantra is: "If someone wants to help me, I will say thank you and accept their help instead of trying to take care of everything myself." It's a big step for me, to not be super-woman and let someone run an errand for me or watch Sophie so I can nap or just get a shower, but I'm pretty human, and a fragile one at that. There are huge (but great!) changes ahead for me, and I can't do it all by myself. I don't mean to be intentionally vague, and I promise all will be made clear soon... but if anyone could throw a prayer my way, it would be greatly appreciated. :)

Monday, September 29, 2003

The times, they are a changin'.... It was an exciting weekend, one I will give more details of later, but which included my first attempt at songleading since Sophie was born. I was told I sounded great. The un-great part was when I passed out in the middle of a song, fainting in front of the whole congregation and taking the podium with me. Never let it be said that I do things halfway. There's more to the story, which I'm not prepared to divulge just yet... but let it be said that I need to ask for help and stop pushing myself so darn hard all the time.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Strange days, indeed. Snapshot of my life right now as a plate of french toast: soggy, undercooked, and yet burned all over. There's a basket of incredibly luscious strawberries to go on top, but they're in the refrigerator and nobody has time to go find them so they get shoved in the back, forgotten behind last week's leftover meatballs. I need a new recipie. There are forces at work in my life, and they all say that change is imminent. The last time I got this many prods from God/the universe, it was telling me that guy I thought I was getting engaged to wasn't all he was cracked up to be. And though it was painful and hurt like, oh, say, gnawing off your own leg to save yourself from the bear trap; it was the only way to get me pushed in the right direction (i.e., the direction of Paul, Sophie, normal relationships, etc.). And now I'm getting pushed toward big changes again. I'm not even sure what they are and what form they'll take, I just know they're coming for certain. This time I want to try to make friends with change, instead of trying to fight it off with a spatula.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

I'm feeling exhausted, wiped out, at times exhilarated, ravenous, overflowing with ideas, and crippled with staggering burdens. The other night I cried and laughed at the same time until I didn't know which way was up. I worry that someday I'll look down at myself and find that I'm spread so thin I've become transparent. Through all this, I'm consistently creating, as absurd as it sounds. I'm painting and writing and designing my behind off because I don't know any other way to be, even though I'm feeling an overwhelming amount of indifference and lack of appreciation for my work. I feel invisible, dependable and taken for granted. And yet, I have to go on being an artist, because that's all I know how to do. In the end, I think that's what might save me.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

The webpage looks a little different today, for good reason. It'll be back tomorrow. (The memorial page can still be seen here.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I am literally struck dumb by the amount of stuff I am denying myself, or just forgetting about. Since I have been runningrunningrunning around, trying to line up sitters, launch my cards, work full time, return phone calls, blah blah blah adnauseum, I forget that there is a little place inside me that longs to be nurtured. Not a humongous, champagne and roses nurturing, but a small and worthy glimmer of an inner hug. Breathe, it says to me. Stop and give yourself an artist's date. Stop and just eat dinner. Just stop, okay? So I have been trying to recall the teeny things that make me smile inside, and feed that inner flame whenever I can. I listened to the Beatles, hungrily, wanting desperately to set up the turntable and play all the records I haven't been able to hear in an age and a half. I've been singing along to Muppet Central radio and froze when I heard "Little Things", and forced myself to be still for the heartbeat and a half the song takes and let it seep in to me. I took Sophie on a date to Trader Joe's and bought interesting and unusual food to try. I have been leaving SARK books around so that I can read at random and let myself nibble here and there and be fed. And I've dug out my journal - unwritten in since May, for crying out loud - and put it right next to my bed so I can remember to write again. Why does it take so long for me to notice that I need nourishment? I look down and see that I've been dug out of my pot and my roots are all tangled and dry, and I'm not sure how I got halfway across the room on the floor when my nice pot on the sunny windowsill is all the way over there. How did that happen?

Friday, September 05, 2003

'Do what you can; that is good enough. You are already doing too much if you have a classic American nuclear family. As novelist and poet Opal Palmer Adisa said to Ariel Gore in Gore's book The Mother Trip: "Being a good mother is too many jobs for one person." ' From an article from Yoga Journal sent to me by my best friend Kirsten. So true. Doesn't stop me from doing my best, though.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

It's amazing how much you can get done when you stay up for 20 hours straight. I am setting into motion the plan for getting many Christmas cards done in the next month or so. My cards are going to the printer, I'm 1/3 of the way finished with our family's original Christmas card for this year (I didn't do one last year and I really missed it!), and I've been commissioned to paint the office holiday card for work. Goal: to have ALL cards finished and printed by mid-October. I don't think that's too unreasonable.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Sophie is 6 months old today! ...and cuter than ever! Paul has noted that some babies' "relaxed" expression is poutiness, but Sophie's general expression seems to be wonder. She is always looking, smiling, interested in her surroundings. Paul got me a bookmark last year for my birthday that said "Wisdom begins in wonder" and it's true - Sophia means "wisdom" and she's always curious about her world - every day seems to bring a new discovery for her or a new thing for her to delight in and squeal joyously about. I hope that never changes for her. Her newest things:
  • grabbing the spoon and trying to feed herself - good eye-hand coordination!
  • rolling over (and over and over... we don't worry about "tummy time" any more)
  • putting her toes in her mouth
  • sitting up by herself and not doing too bad a job of it
  • picking out two notes on the piano that GO TOGETHER (do we have a musical genius on our hands, or what?)
  • playing with crayons (okay, so we have to make sure she doesn't eat them, but she does make a mark here and there)
  • mimicing sounds we make
  • growing those two adorable little teeth and biting hard on everything in sight
She's the neatest little person we've ever met and our lives are so much richer for it! Can't wait to see what the next 6 months will bring...

Friday, August 22, 2003

Whip it... whip it good. So last night I finally got rev up the new food processor and make some Sophie food. It was so easy, so fun, and I'm thrilled to know I'm making healthy food for my little cookie. And I think we will be eating healthier too. I was looking at jarred baby food in the supermarket last night, and although most of the food at her age (stage 1) is just pure veggies and water, the next stage up horrified me. The "chicken" had cornstarch in it. The mangoes had sugar and "mango flavor". Huh? Why in the world does a baby need cornstarch or "mango flavor"? I remembered that I had two ripe, REAL mangoes at home and made them for Sophie instead. (I also made bananas and avacado. Tropical!) As I was relating this story to a co-worker, she told me that a while back Beech-Nut got in trouble for marketing "Pear Juice" which was actually water colored with beet juice! They didn't get in as much trouble as they could since they stated the ingredients correctly - the parents didn't read the label. I'm on the parents' side in this - you're in a rush, and Beech-Nut is a name you should be able to trust - but I really don't want to feed Sophie anything at all without knowing what the heck is in there. (Note: we do feed Sophie jarred food now - but some of the stage 2 stuff is just scary. Read this.) Tonight - I make organic sweet potatoes! Woo hoo! Maybe I'll save a potato for me and Paul and make sweet potato fries.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Deep peace is an inside job. ~ SARK, in her book Eat Mangoes Naked

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Icky. Lots of strange and sad stuff has been going on around me lately. All of the following have happened to people I know in the past couple of days: house robbed, stepmother shot by boyfriend, dog paralyzed and had to be put to sleep, children who need operations, child who was kidnapped by her father and the mother has to sell off her belongings to pay a lawyer, friends in the hospital, people diagnosed with bone disease/incurable cancer, and (this one gets me the maddest) a cousin who was disowned by her father 20 years ago, she dies in a car accident this past week, and her father says it makes no difference because she was already dead to him.... and then today I learned one of my MMB (Sark's Marvelous Message Board) sisters just died. I'm struck silent by the death of someone I didn't know personally, only online and briefly, but still, it hurts. We are a tight-knit group. And on top of this, minor though it may be, I'm hosting a knitting circle for church that was supposed to start at 7:30 and not one person has come. I truly think nobody's going to show up. Add to this my general lack of sleep.... and I just want to cry. A lot. I really need to concentrate on all the wonderful and simple stuff that's been going on in my life at the same time: Sophie's joyful abandon in rolling over, meeting my newest little niece at last, family dinner on the porch, candles around the house at bedtime, home movies, yoga in the morning before I go to work, long phone conversations with close friends I haven't seen in a long time, and showing up in this strip (I'm the unicorn in the last panel). I need to shower off all this ickiness and remember all the reasons why my life is so good. I just might take my magic wand to work with me tomorrow. I think I need it.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Hey Food.* Armed with a brand-new food processor (thanks, Mom!) and a couple of loaned books, I'm going to start making baby food for Sophie! I get dreamy over thoughts of ice-cube trays filled with squash and sweet potatoes... this is like being pregnant all over again (without the 30-pound weight gain and aching back!) I'm making sure she's getting really healthy and nutritious food. She LOVES eating, loves her highchair, and, interestingly enough, loves mashed avocado, a food I never would have thought of if not for these books. I'm psyched! the books: Super Baby Food (homemade brown rice cereal, here we come!) Feed Me, I'm Yours! I also want to start signing with her, but there seem to be way too many choices out there. One thing at a time. *Believe it or not, there is a Sesame Street parody of "Hey Jude" that with the awesome lyrics, "Hey Food/can't put you down/if you're dry toast or something wetter/some veggies or a raspberry tart/and then we start to feel much better."

Friday, August 15, 2003

It's my birthday today. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Well, I surprised myself by actually doing all three things! One of the main things I finally got out the door that I'm really excited about is a painting I sent out for Artists in the Making. The goal of AITM is to raise $10,000 which will be donated to five San Francisco public middle schools to purchase art supplies. Such a worthy cause.... it's scary how arts funding keeps getting cut and yet there always seems to be enough for sports equipment....

Monday, August 11, 2003

Today's page in Living Juicy says: Permission to Surprise! Write yourself a permission slip! Surprise yourself by finding the balancing. I write myself a permission slip to surprise myself tonight when my hubby watches Sophie all evening so that I can paint - it's Art Night! Maybe I will surprise myself by using a new watercolour technique - I'm reading a great book with ideas for using everything from Saran Wrap to toilet paper. Maybe I will surprise myself by actually, finally, packing up my contribution for an art auction and moving it out the door. Maybe I will surprise myself by calling (and talking to for hours) a very close artist friend who lives far away. (Maybe I will do all three!) How will you surprise yourself today?

Friday, August 08, 2003

I love the things that happen When we start to discover Who we are and what we're living for, Just because love was all we ever wanted It was all we ever had. It's not just a loving machine, It doesn't work out If you don't work at it. ~ Paul McCartney, "We Got Married" [6 years ago tomorrow. I'd do it all over again in a second.]

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Paint with joy! From the latest book I've been reading on painting: Remind yourself that it's only a piece of paper - it can be corrected - and that this is fun... Try to watch a child paint and see if you can recapture the child in you. If you can develop an attitude of joy while working, it's no longer work... I've written on the wall of my studio the following three thoughts: Stop worrying! Paint with joy! Enjoy life!

Monday, August 04, 2003

Ummmmm..... notice anything different around here? ;) What are you waiting for! Go explore!

Friday, August 01, 2003

In August it will be so hot I will become a cooking pot Cooking soup of course - why not? Cooking once Cooking twice Cooking chicken soup with rice. ~ Maurice Sendak, Chicken Soup With Rice

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Paul has gotten into a state of extreme organization and is focusing on my studio. Usually, I'm the only one in there, but soon Sophie will probably be joining me for Sesame Street and art projects, and it would be reassuring to know that there's NO way she can get to the exacto knives, paint, and various other non-edible art supplies.... also that when she goes looking for a piece of paper to color on, she doesn't use the back of one of mama's paintings. So we're looking into cabinet doors with locks, and lots of shelving. In any case, I've been going through old artwork (more on that later) and was reminded of a painting I did in college. I was royally sick for my first painting class and made up the assignment really fast the night before it was due. I had to paint a 14" x 14" self-portrait using acrylics. I don't recall what it looked like, except that I was heavily into maroon and green at the time so I used a lot of those. When I brought it in, the teacher was really interested in it. She shook her head and said that I knew things... that I might not even need this class and that I might know more about painting than she did! I didn't see what she saw in it; all I could see was that it had colors I liked in it and I painted it when I was really tired. I showed it to Snowflake and she didn't get it either. I'm dying to find this painting and see if I really did "know" anything back when I was 18! Lately I have been watercolouring late at night when I really should be going to bed. I'm not sure if they're any good... I feel like I'm trying to tell myself something, but I don't know what it is.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Countdown to toastiness I am almost, almost finished with the site redesign. I am so exhausted, but so elated at how it's all coming together. Right now, the beta testers are having their way with it. With luck and Sophie willing, it will go live this weekend. I promise, it's juicy.
Singalong with Sophie This weekend, Sophie turned 5 months old, which is almost impossible to believe for me. I would look at the clock periodically and tell her, "And this is when you kicked Mama really hard and her water broke..." She's such a little blessing and each day she's even neater to know. This weekend, Sophie was serenaded! Her Uncle Marc played the guitar and sang, and Mama sang, and so did her Nana and Daddy and Aunt Carole. We sang "Flowers are Red" (one of Mama's favorite songs) and "Me and Sophie Down By The Schoolyard" and "Werewolves of London" (Sophie shrieked along) and "Imagine" and a bunch of other songs too. Sophie squealed with delight and stood on my lap and bounced up and down. Just 5 months old, and already she's the dancing queen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Do you believe in miracles? Well, the two months of Sophie's eye-patching are almost up... and we don't think it worked at all. So here's where you come in: My mom sent me this prayer. You pray it for three days. She prayed it for my little niece to come home from the hospital - she had been in nearly a month - and on the third day, the doctors released her. Coincidence? I don't think so! So I'm asking anyone who's interested to pray for Sophie. Pray this prayer, or pray any way you want. Pray that her vision is healed, that the doctors are making the right decisions, that the patch works fine and she doesn't have to have surgery. And if she does, that we'll all be able to deal with it and that she will be able to see everything just fine. Miracles can definitely happen. Thank you, and know that I will be praying for your intentions too. We see the doctor next week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Sophie rolled over! Woo hoo! Finally, finally, finally, Sophie rolled over. She did it in stages, but I still think it counts! Phew... I was really starting to worry about that. Along with rolling over, Sophie is getting much better at spending time on her stomach and lifts her head quite nicely, she's eating oatmeal and likes it when you make airplane noises, and everything - and I do mean EVERYTHING - makes her giggle. We started a food journal for her and she'll probably be ready for her first jar of baby food sometime next week. (Look out squash, here comes Sophie!) Now I can stop worrying about that and start worrying about this instead. And in other baby news... please pray hard. Sophie's little cousin Amanda isn't having such an easy time of it. She was born on June 19th and is STILL not home from the hospital yet! Please, if you're reading this, say a little prayer for my baby niece and her family... she needs to be home. My little nephew Joey said he needed to go see her in the hospital because she misses him. I'm sure she does. I had a dream last night that Sophie and Amanda were meeting each other for the first time, and it wasn't in a hospital! For some reason, Amanda was sleeping in a bag full of blankets, and Elvis was there, and a bunch of Japanese tourists.... I don't know why all that weird stuff was going on, but I'm going to concentrate hard on the Sophie-and-Amanda-meeting-at-last part of it.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Superman and Green Lantern ain't got nothing on me. Friday night, Snowflake and Lucky took me to see Donovan for an early birthday present. I was having second and third and fourth thoughts about leaving Sophie for that long - Paul had taken her to visit her Nana that day and I didn't see her until about 6pm, and was leaving for the concert at about 6:30 - but Paul, Mom, and Snowflake got my butt out the door and I'm so glad they did. The concert was just Donovan and his guitar, "Kelly". He sang the songs you'd expect him to, he sang really obscure songs, he had huge singalongs, he told wonderful stories in that wonderful Scottish accent, he sang a verse of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" that George Harrison had written that never got recorded because Jimmy Page's guitar solo was so long, he invited about half the group up on stage with him to dance to "Season of the Witch." You could tell he was having the loveliest, funnest time up there and it just spread throughout the room. Snowflake had also gotten me a CD in the hopes it would get signed, but nobody knew if/when there would be a signing opportunity that night, so we took a walk on the boardwalk under the glorious full moon. We didn't get to hear "I Love My Shirt," but we did dance our butts off to "First There is a Mountain." I wore teeny braids in my hair with purple flowers woven into them and my favorite fairy shirt; I felt like I was appropriately attired for an evening of peace, love, and great music. Humpworthy award Apparently, I'm now humpworthy... not sure what exactly this means, but I think it's good.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Dreaming of unicorns. I had a dream this morning that I was looking through a pile of my old sketchbooks, looking for stuff to scan for my new site feature (see below), when I came across a sketchbook from high school. In real life I always had a sketchbook with me at all times, but the one I opened in my dream existed only in my dreamworld. I opened it up to find page after page of unicorns. Brown, white, dappled, grey; they capered across the pages and out of the borders of the pictures. I had written an entire story to go with these pictures; some of them were two-page spreads with vivid green grass and scratchy black borders. I thumbed through them, fascinated that I could have done all this and forgotten all about it. But as I woke up, the pages faded from sight.... I tried, intensely, to get back into that dream and read more of my book. Later that morning, I remembered the Serendipity books.... did anyone else read these? I loved the illustrations. And that led me to find this book, which I think I need to get. I think there's a unicorn book (or five) inside me just waiting to be written and illustrated and set free.

Monday, June 30, 2003

More toastiness than you can imagine Summertime brings lots of great things. Weekends lounging in the hammock. A long-anticipated book and the time to read it. Strawberries and raspberries growing in the garden. Swimming. Shorts and flirty dresses. Lemonade. And... A redesigned French Toast Girl site! French Toast Girl is 4 years old this July. To celebrate, the site's getting a much-needed face-lift and reorganization. What you'll see: • Vivid, juicy colors • A totally retooled gallery with a new special "peek in the sketchbook" feature to see sketches and projects that haven't made it to the gallery yet • A shop with frenchtoastgirl merchandise, cards, and special artwork and projects you won't find anywhere else. • Special free items like wallpapers, screensavers and icons to make your computer more toasty • A whole new organization – condensing some sections and making others easier to find – and the addition of some new sections • And, as always, fun, insightful art and articles. The goal is to have it all built and completed this summer – with a four-month-old, time for artwork can be hard to come by, so please be patient ;) The home page is done, and thanks to all the back-end work I did last summer, updating the rest of the site should be (relatively) simple. In the meantime, there are many many new photos of Sophie for your viewing enjoyment, and at last – a Sophie movie! Her favorite game is "Where's Sophie", and you'll get a chance to hear the best baby belly laugh in the whole world.

Friday, June 27, 2003

A certain little miss just turned 4 months old... I can't remember what my life was like without her sweetness.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Just got back from a weekend in VT, where I am learning the same hard lesson over and over and over again: don't expect too much and be happy with whatever miniscule amount you can manage. (sigh) At least I have Harry. I walked home from my local independent bookstore, nose buried in the book, and read as much as I could without tripping and falling flat on my face. I read book 4 in 24 hours straight. Somehow, I get the feeling this one will take a little longer.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Welcome to the world, little one. Sophie's brand new little cousin Amanda Jean was born this afternoon. Her family is doing just fine. Baby Amanda update: She's fighting an infection and has been in the ICU. Currently she's on an IV but is eating too....she should finally get to go home at the end of this week. If you could take a moment and offer a little prayer for her and her family, it would be appreciated by all. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Star-struck. Happy birthday to my second-favorite Paul. I think there should be one person in everyone's life that still gets you a little star-struck. If I actually met Paul #2, I would probably faint, or throw up, or do something equally as impressive. I used to write him fan letters in the 80s. When I was in college and went to his first concert in over a decade, by some happy quirk of fate we had our tickets upgraded so that we were in a row of folding chairs in front of the first row (they were filming a documentary and needed girls to sit in the front rows and scream. I obliged.) I used to wear a denim jacket that I had handpainted "The Beatles" on the back of it with acrylic paint. I used to wash that tour shirt in Woolite so it would last longer. And I still love, love, love, his music. Think about this... who would you faint for if you met them in person? Do you think you'd be disappointed? Or would you know exactly what to say?

Monday, June 16, 2003

I'm up! I'm up! My being-a-mom-and-an-artist essay "The Orange Carpet" is posted at the wonderful website, "Divine Mother, Mortal Me." I'm up at this ungodly hour because we're trying something new: I do Sophie's morning feeding so Paul can journal, and he does her nighttime feeding so I can do art. (Usually it's the other way around and all the other one does is sleep!) However, she just woke up, muttered, and went back to sleep, so here I am! But it just goes to show how I'll take any time I can to do something creative, and how Paul and I have made it a priority to schedule in some creativity time, or it just doesn't happen.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Am I a nice godmother, or what? This is the cover of a tape I made today for my little nephew Joe, who just underwent a tonsilectomy and is now going to have his little world rocked again when his baby sister arrives on the scene next week. He's such a cheery kid; it'll be an adjustment but he's taking everything in stride. It's amazing, the kind of books that are out there for children. Some are simply wonderful. Some are just awful. We read a lot to Sophie, and sometimes I will stop dead in the middle of a story and put it away because I don't want her to hear any more of it. F'rinstance.... The Three Little Kittens. Mom tells them to put their mittens on, then gives them blueberry pie, then punishes them because they got the mittens dirty. Hello.... The kids listen to mom and then get punished when they try to follow her orders. Nope. Not reading it. Beatrix Potter: I think we were reading The Flopsy Bunnies or some deceptively sweet title like that. The McGregors plot about how they want to kill and skin the rabbits and make gloves out of them. Ummmm.... .nope again. Mother Goose: How about the bough breaking and baby falling? What kind of a terrifying lullaby is that? So I've been reading The Chinaberry Tree with great delight. It's by a mom who had these same thoughts when reading to her first child and started a book review for children, to choose the cream of the crop. I'm already tagging pages of books to check out at our next library trip. Although our library doesn't have Chicken Soup with Rice, which I consider to be a major mistake on their part; they do have this book, which I remember reading with my mom when I was five. (Yes, I was one of those kids.)

Friday, June 06, 2003

"The Antidote for the Overwhelming" I have to share this: "My friend showed me a quilt she made.... one little piece at a time. No single piece of her creations is all that impressive. But when you see the whole tapestry, it's beautiful. And assembled, not all at once, but one little piece at a time. She didn't work on a flag or a quilt. She worked on one piece at a time. Which is exactly how God weaves the amazing tapestry of your life and mine. He sees the whole thing, the finished product. We see the piece in front of us. It's this little 24-hour thing we call a day." Although I know this, there's still a part of me that tries desperately to do everything, perfectly, right now. I need to remember that baby steps are okay, and right now, they are the only way I will get anything significant done. I went to this favorite site yesterday, and got so incredibly jealous reading about what everyone else was doing. Not that I think I'm better; but I'm aching to do those things too. My mom would be the first to say, "stop beating yourself up, those people don't have full-time jobs and newborns too." But it doesn't stop the ache completely. From my journal: ...the strong conviction I've had lately about redesigning FTG, the site, getting cards printed -- I feel like this orange carpet of a path has opened up and is rolling and bouncing along in front of me, and all I have to do is step on it -- just like Dorothy -- and it's going to take me somewhere just wonderful. I need to remember that Dorothy got to the Emerald City one step at a time. And that in the end, she had what she needed in her heart all along.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Sophie's eyes. There's a very weak muscle in her right eyelid. So she will start wearing an eye patch (looks like a big bandaid, not like a pirate!) for 4 hours a day for 8 weeks in the hopes that it will force her to use her right eye more. I can't imagine what it's going to be like taking this OFF her eye every day. The doctor assured me that she would still have eyebrows by the time this is all over. We go back to the doctor at the end of July to get another assessment and see how the patches worked out. We may need to talk about surgery on her eyelid then. It's a real possibility. We have a lot of learning and research to do ahead of us (including the chiropractic idea). We are pretty upset.... I guess it's silly to think that her eyelid couldn't have been affecting her vision yet, but it is. I know that there are way more serious things that could be wrong with her, and that we should be thanking our lucky stars that she's such a happy and healthy baby. And we do. I still think she's perfect, but I guess we'll have to put the modeling career on hold for a bit. (ha ha ha.... although I do think she is pretty enough to be a baby model!) So I will end on this note -- please, please, pray for Sophie. Pray that her vision is healed, that the doctors are making the right decisions, that the patch works fine and she doesn't have to have surgery. And if she does, that we'll all be able to deal with it and that she will be able to see everything just fine. Miracles can definitely happen in 8 weeks.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

A vital truth: It is absolutely impossible to listen to "C is for Cookie" while driving without singing along. Loudly.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Sophie goes to the eye doctor We're taking Sophie to the eye doctor tomorrow. Since birth, she hasn't opened her right eye completely. Her eye appears to be fine, it's just her eyelid. We complained since day one but the doctors all assured us it was temporary and that she'd grow out of it. Surprise, it hasn't taken care of itself; and at our last pediatrician's visit a month ago he agreed that something really needed to be done. It's been mentioned to me that Paul and I are Sophie's advocates in this world. It's true -- we need to speak up for what's right for her. It makes me feel proud and determined. While I am relieved that we're having it looked at, I'm scared that they're going to want to operate. I'm torn between being upset about the possibility of an operation and the possibility that she can eventually lose the sight in that eye if we do nothing. Any prayers you can offer are welcomed. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2003

At last! She paints! Paul watched Sophie for HOURS this past weekend so that I could do artwork and spend time at the library. We agreed that I would have one evening a week ("more than that!" Paul says) to just do artwork without Sophie. It's a good thing. So I tried my hand at a little collage (a new picture of FTG, much more on that later) and a new watercolour technique from this book: You paint an area with water only, but just as detailed as if you had paint on your brush. Then you load up your brush with color and drop it on the wet part and tilt your page around until it gets in every last nook and cranny. It's really cool -- the paint only goes on the wet part, it doesn't run onto the rest of your picture. (Note: the areas around it should be dry, otherwise the color will bleed.) The more colors you add, the neater it is. I also combined this exercise with a gesture-drawing one and one where you use different elements on your painting -- dropping rubbing alcohol into watercolour soaks up the color in bubble-shapes. Fun! Not sure if it's a fantastic piece of art, but it was a learning piece of art. And it was something else... the final page in my watercolour sketchbook. Good thing I bought two! It took me a two and a half years to use up this book. I'm sure hoping the second one gets used much more than that. Email, shmemail. My email isn't working. So if you've written to me recently and are wondering why I haven't responded, that's why. (As opposed to the too-busy-to-even-wash-my-hair-darnit reason that it usually is.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Guess who turned three months old yesterday?

Thursday, May 22, 2003

This morning I went over to my watercolour sketchbook, open to a new drawing of French Toast Girl. I placed my hand on her little penciled one, looked into her eyes, and whispered, "I promise you and I are going to spend some time together this weekend. I promise."

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

This mom thing is HARD. Harder than I ever thought it would be. I have, possibly, the happiest and sweetest baby in the world; a wonderful husband who helps more than any father I've heard of, supportive family and friends, and a flexible workplace. So why do I feel like a used-up dishrag? All the time?

Friday, May 16, 2003

The lovers, the dreamers, and me. I knew there was a reason I've been feeling so crummy. Today marks the 13th anniversary of Jim Henson's death. Sigh.
She likes it! Sophie came face to face with her mobile, and darnit, I wish I knew how to use the video camera. Her first expression was intense curiosity, replaced by the hugest, most delighted grin I have ever seen on her face, and actual giggles. I think I need to quit my job and do nothing but make her mobiles from now on.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Happy Mother's Day! Today is my very first Mother's Day! So far this weekend, I've:
  • picked up 5 rolls of Sophie photos (coming soon to a website near you)
  • gone to Mass together, at last (hooray for baptism and vaccinations!) ... Sophie was mobbed by fans
  • gone out for breakfast with Sophie and her Daddy and had French Toast, natch
  • walked downtown during a sidewalk art show and finally got info for joining the town's art association (which I will do this week; I swear by the sword of my father, Domingo Montoya)
  • reserved my copy of Harry Potter at our local independent bookstore
  • made a flower girl in the park stop crying by letting her draw with my chalk (and then had to clean her up for photos afterwards, although nobody in the wedding party seemed to mind the bright orange streaks on her dress. God, I love the fact that I can talk to anyone whether I know them or not. I hope I never change.)
  • gotten Sophie transitioned into sleeping in her crib in another room; she's doing very well!
  • had a surprise visit from one of Paul's best friends from California
  • had the whole afternoon to draw and paint by myself whilst Buffy and Lydia ran in the background
  • worked on redesigning my website
  • worked on updating French Toast Girl, herself
  • finished Sophie's bird mobile
  • let Paul watch Sophie and make me a yummy dinner
  • daydreamed about the looooooooooooooooooooooong bubble bath I'm going to take this evening and the funny book I'm reading

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Sophie's Bird Mobile I've been painting a mobile for Sophie. We didn't see any we liked in the store, so I've decided to make one! I drew with her next to me on the floor, painted madly late into the night while she was asleep, and worked at 5am while Paul was feeding her. I have claimed the early-morning feeding time as my Art time; I know there will be at least 40 uninterupted minutes for me to do my thing. I've been really having a great time with this: there are four birds, each a different color and with different pictures on its wings. One's blue and purple with the sky on its wings; the others are green with leaves, orange and yellow with the sun, and red with a rainbow. I have two grey twigs ready to go for the supports... I wanted everything to be as natural as possible. I loved making the colors deep and rich, I loved splashing color after color and soaking the paper, I loved cutting out the wild shapes and seeing the clean, crisp edges. Sophie and I have been reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar a lot and I think I am going to do some artwork with that technique — cutouts arranged from wildly painted paper to make a whole new painting. I have always loved Eric Carle and Leo Lionni and I think that will be the next direction I try.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I just read the most amazing book: Flying Colors. It's about an artist who figured out a way for severely disabled people to paint; about the amazing talent they had, and how hard they had to fight for their art to be taken seriously. As soon as I read the last page, I flipped the book open to read it over again immediately -- it was that great! It made me think several things:
  • what am I doing to help others to unleash their inner artists?
  • what "handicap" do I use as an excuse to not paint? How can I get past this?
  • do I ever treat others condescendingly because they are different than me?
  • how many times have I met someone and not gotten past their outside to the real person inside?
  • And it makes me ashamed to say "I can't."
Which is why I started painting last night... more details and maybe a picture to come. :)

Thursday, May 01, 2003

I'm writing this from the office today. This is my first day back at work and away from home. I did all my crying last night; Sophie's with her daddy and I have a picture of her next to me. I will see her at 1 when I arrive home and work the rest of the afternoon from there. So far so good.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Can you identify the following: 1. I'm not the kind of guy who likes to play big brother But I've just seen your date outside he's with another I saw you both come in and clearly you're not meant for him so Please, please, hold my hand... 2. I want to hold your ear, baby Want to hold it near, baby Wanna hold your ear until you hear that I love you... 3. My joy would be complete, dear If you were only here But still I keep your hand As a precious souvenir... Who sang them? (Hint, it's three different artists.) I will be truly shocked good and proper if anyone gets #2 correct.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Sophie gets a shot. Three of them. Sophie went for her 2-month checkup today. She is now 10 lbs 9 oz (meaning she's gained 3 pounds in the past month; she's in the 50th percentile) and measures 23 1/4 in. (in the 75th percentile). She grew a lot this past month! She got her first round of shots; she cried, and then as soon as the doctor left the room, I cried. She's been alternating between fussy and sleeping all day, and it'll probably be an interesting night. The doctor gave us the green light to try to get her to sleep through the night (she's almost there already) and to finally take her out in public. Church, stores, restaurants, the beach, wherever. Hallelujah. Hard to believe the cinnabun is 2 months old... seems like just yesterday I was whining and complaining about how huge and tired I was. Now I'm just tired. :) I have been trying like crazy to focus on today; to stop starting conversations with "I can't wait till she's old enough to..." I'm thrilled with what she's old enough to do right now, every last wiggle and chuckle she makes. And I'm trying to savor all the firsts and hold them in my heart... her first sleepover, first time she grabbed a rattle and gave it a good shake, first time she's really studied her hands. She's so incredibly, amazingly special that it takes my breath away sometimes.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Love, exciting and new.... What a weekend! Saturday Paul went to his college roomie's wedding in DC (yay, Jeff and Alicia!) while I took the cinnabun to Grandma and Grandpa's for a sleepover and some serious play time. She was a little queen -- the center of attention and loving every single minute of it. She wiggled and kicked on the floor as her royal subjects entertained her -- Mommy and Grandpa lying on the floor on either side of her, her godfather hanging over the back of the couch singing Muppet songs to her with two gym socks on his hands, using them as puppet backup singers, and her cousin Joey dancing around the room in excitement. We tried to get Joe interested since he is getting a baby sister of his very own in a few months, and he wanted to help with everything. At one point my sister phoned and he said importantly, "I can't talk to you now, Aunt Mary. I am helping to change Baby Sophia's diapers." Sunday was my very best friend Kirsten's wedding. She and Walter couldn't have picked a more gorgeous day! I was the matron (hee hee hee) of honor and sang the Stevie Wonder song "For Once In My Life" during the ceremony. It's so hard to put into words how special the day was, but if you can imagine how you'd feel if you just had a baby and your best friend of 28 years was getting married, you'd have a good idea of the level of emotion. I gave a toast as well and somehow didn't cry all over myself during it. The bride was truly beautiful, the groom was charming, the weather was perfect, and everyone just relaxed and had a wonderful time. And the best part of it all was that it was so uniquely them; from the vows to the music to the all-vegetarian luncheon. We almost went and played on the swings outside the place... it was that kind of relaxed and sweet day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

This morning found me and Sophie eating breakfast in front of a roaring fire. Not quite as idyllic as it seems; the fire was because we have a crazy woodpecker in our neighborhood that loves to awaken us by pecking on the metal chimney of our fireplace. Every morning for the past week or so Paul's had to throw some newspapers on and smoke him out; it's the only way to make the woodpecker leave. "Who's laughing now, woodpecker?" he has been known to comment gleefully. For some reason two newspapers weren't enough this morning so a real fire was going. I sat cross-legged in front of it with Sophie on my lap, the only way I could get her to stop fussing. I was trying valiantly to eat a bowl of cereal and bananas without getting any on her, and amazingly, we both got through breakfast without mishap. But it's an example of the extreme juggling act my life has become: woodpeckers, laundry up to here, getting up to feed a baby who decides 3 a.m. is the perfect time to play... bananas, indeed. But I am trying to enjoy every second of it; enjoying Sophie's company, happy that at least the woodpecker's not pecking on the house, listening in the deep silence of the early morning to hear Sophia trying to talk. I'll take it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Note to self: You have enough. You do enough. You are enough. ~ SARK

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Watch me draw you a picture! Check this out... then hit clear, draw a new picture and send me something from your imagination.
Sophia Italiana Sophie, Snowflake, and I sashayed downtown to the local Gelateria last night for a taste of summer. Mine was mango and we brought back some Tiramisu gelato for the hard-working hubby. I still dream of Italy and all the gelato we ate there.... the very best was in Rome; it was Tiramisu gelato that actually had hunks of ladyfingers in it and rum. Yum.... after work today I will put on a long floaty dress and pretend I'm back in Florence with my sweet little Sophia. I want to hold your nose No joke, a guy is selling Paul McCartney's flu germs on eBay. He insists that he caught the flu from Paul himself, and now, for a nominal fee, you can share Paul's cold. You can either get a container of mucus, or he'll breathe into a plastic bag for you; it's your choice. *Note to my Paul: this is not what I want for Mother's Day.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Sophie goes chalking This was simply a gorgeous weekend. Sunday found all three of us in the park, with a camera, chalk, bubbles and a sketchbook. I generally like to be sneaky and chalk at 6am, but due to pregnancy, winter, and the demands of a new bambino, it's been a while. I simply couldn't wait another instant to go chalking. Luckily there was a cluster of kids with guitars and bongos nearby, cheerily singing away, so I figured they would attract a heck of a lot more attention than we would. So I knelt down and chalked: The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty YES to your adventure. ~ Joseph Campbell A nice grandpa came by with a baby in a stroller as we were commemorating the event with a photo. He asked if we'd like our picture with Sophie, and said that his hobby was photography. He said liked to travel, and to help people taking pictures to be in their own photos. Sure! we said, so he snapped us on either side of Sophie in her stroller, who was clutching an orange piece of chalk. As we thanked him, he pushed the stroller over to the quote and read it carefully and slowly out loud. Then he straightened up. "Of course I say yes!" he said, and waved to us as he and his grandchild strolled away.

Friday, April 11, 2003

I'm crazy. I must be crazy. I have actually started to redesign my website and I started a store at CafePress as well. Nothing's done or in it yet, but I started. Why can't I leave well enough alone? Why can't I just shut off the computer and stop creating? I'm sorta thrilled that I can't seem to turn off the faucet, but a part of me is standing aside, telling me to hold on and think things through.... I really need to focus my energies and decide what I want to do. My mind is going all the time: at 3 a.m.; when I make dinner; when I see anything that inspires me. I make a mental note or bookmark it for later, but I have to figure out what the heck I want to do with it all. I'm thinking of starting The Artist's Way again or at least doing morning pages to sharpen my focus. I know that I want to market myself this year... but with what? Do I get a rep for my artwork? Do I only stick with the things I can produce myself? And how much time will I have to produce anything myself with a 6-week old baby on my lap? I know I have to start out very very very small... it's just hard because there's a creative river that's about to spill over everything, and if I could contain any of it and figure out how to use it, I'd be pretty darn grateful. What I need is a Master Plan.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Do you remember the song "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?" from Sesame Street? Well, we decided that Sophie needs to learn about some other jobs (like the ones Mommy and Daddy have!) when we sing it to her. So we wrote the following verses.... and we encourage you too: can you write a verse for Sophie about your job? If you want to start a magazine Or decide between two shades of green If your webpage needs to be designed The ART DIRECTOR's who you have in mind Oh the art director's a person in your neighborhood.... - and - If you'd like to learn to play some Bach Or Rachmaninoff or jazz or rock If you want to play some Mozart* too The PIANO TEACHER's here for you Oh the piano teacher's a person in your neighborhood.... *can also substitute "some Mozart" for "the Beatles", "George Winston", "Beethoven", etc. So go ahead, write a verse for Sophie... and yes! Being a Mom definitely counts as a job! ;)

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Spring is here, darnit I can't believe this: SNOW in April. Although Old Man Winter was trying to make a comeback, I thwarted him by running outside and clipping a hyacinth from my garden to bring inside. Now I'm working in a room that's almost the same purple as the flower and the ceramic jar it's resting in. This one little stalk is stealthily spreading its musky perfume throughout the rooms and it's just heavenly. Sophie is all in pale greens and yellows today and looks like a sweet little flower. And I have strawberries waiting for me that my hubby bought us. Ha! Take that, Old Man Winter! What happened today to make you laugh? That's a line from a book we read to Sophie. And I really do try to keep it in mind. Sunday at about dinnertime I realized that virtually nothing fun had happened to her the whole day because Paul and I were working so hard getting various things done. So we put on James Brown and danced with her, read to her, sang to her... the kind of things we normally do but didn't get to that much that day. I wonder what will happen to her today to make her laugh?

Friday, April 04, 2003

Me and Ricky, sittin' in a tree... My sister just called me from AZ. She was in line getting pizza for lunch when the guy behind the counter starts making a fuss about the guy in front of them in line. "Don't you know who he is? Can't you tell?" My sister figures out it's Ricky Schroder and exclaims to him, "My sister used to kiss the TV when you came on!" Good grief! It's only how many years since Silver Spoons was on the air (um, like 20) and I still feel mildly embarrassed about this. Apparently, he found this funny; I'm glad she didn't add in that I got a static electricity shock from the TV because that probably would have really set him off.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

My best friend's wedding Eternal snugglebunnies Kirsten and Walter have decided to finally tie the knot! Needless to say, I am thrilled, although since they have decided the blessed event will occur in three weeks, it means there's practically no chance that Sophie is going to get to be a flower girl. (I can live with that, though.) Kirsten and I have known each other our entire lives... it's amazing when you're best friends with someone, and you can't recall a time when you ever weren't best friends with them.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

New Sophie pictures! Here I am, day 3 of working from home...working hard, and still being creative with a vengeance. My personal artistic goal for today is to send in my YES! Project postcard and keep on being creative all over my work projects (which, by the way, are very fun and involve this site). And without further ado, I'll post the link to what you really want... more Sophie pictures!

Monday, March 31, 2003

She's baaaaaaaaaaaaack.... Today was my first day back at work. I'm working from home full-time for a month, with Sophie right next to me. We're still adjusting to the new schedule, but so far, so good....I think. I will totally miss those afternoon strolls in the part with Sophie though... maybe when it gets nicer I can take her for a quick spin at lunchtime. Right now she is staring raptly at one of these patterns... they're not kidding about babies really loving black and white. She's getting frustrated that she can't eat it.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Almost famous Yesterday found me and Sophie in the park, with a book, the sketchbook, bubbles, and a frozen York Peppermint Pattie. The drive around the park was ringed with trailers and official-looking crew members, and I realized it's that time of year again -- when they film Ed in our town. (Right in the opening credits, at the very end, when the car pulls out of the park and drives down the street and you can see the Windmill -- if the car took that first left sidestreet they'd be on my block. Most of the credits were filmed here.) So there they are in the park -- my chalking park -- and I keep walking around the loop, hoping I'll be spotted. "Hey! That girl over there.. the one with the purple hat and the adorable baby... she's exactly what we need for this next scene!" Alas, it was not meant to be. We sat a bench by the gazebo and waited for a glimpse of someone famous. All I saw was that they had changed the sign from "Mindowaskin Park" to "Stuckeyville Park." The incredible shrinking woman At last! I can finally wear my wedding ring again! And every Monday I try on my jeans... the good news is I can button and zip up my largest pair now. I can't sit down or breathe, but dang! I'm lookin' good! ;)

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Guess who's one month old today?

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

At last, she paints I am really loving and cherishing my last days off with Sophie. I can hardly believe she will be one month old tomorrow! The past couple of days have been just wonderful; my mornings were spent painting. Yes, I said painting. Painting painting painting painting painting. I missed it so much, and now I actually have the energy to do it and a hubby who'll watch the baby so I can do it. I did a postcard for the YES! project and lots of teeny little illustrations for a gift I'm working on. The bare necessities I took Sophie to the park yesterday and sketched and journaled in the sun with her. There's a reason they make humongous pockets on strollers! We will be filling some of them with the necessities: a sketchbook, bubbles, and chalk. And today's walk may even include stopping by the local photo shop to see about turning my art into posters. Woo hoo!

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Life is good I took a bath tonight and was away from Sophie for about 45 minutes. As soon as I came downstairs she woke up and started to wiggle, and I realized I missed her and was so deep-down happy to see her again I had to run over and smooch her. Sometimes I just fall in love with her all over again. Who can turn a can into a cane?* Hooray for the internet! I've finally figured out what it's for: a resource to look up the lyrics for all the Sesame Street and Electric Company songs I can't fully recall. We have a binder in Sophia's room with lots of song lyrics in it (naturally!) for inspiration, so many printouts from this page will be in there. Thank God I found it, because I couldn't for the life of me remember what the Alligator King's fourth son gave him. *It's elementary for Silent E....

Friday, March 21, 2003

Pray hard, and get out that chalk. I am deliberately not watching the news. What I'm doing is praying. Praying for peace, praying for our servicemen and women, praying for the women in Baghdad having c-sections so they don't have to worry about going into labor during a bombing, praying for Bush. I've been mostly praying that the world is going to be a safe place for Sophia to grow up in. We match! And now, to make you smile, it's me and Sophie in our matching knitting projects. Many more pictures of the cinnabun to come soon. She likes to sit on my lap as I work (like right now).

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Sophie pays a social call Today we took Sophia to work to meet the gang. In about another week, I start work again. Wow. Needless to say, everyone was enchanted with her, although she refused to wake up, only opening one eye periodically to see if all those people were still there looking at her (and they were). Her life is so tough. Faeries aplenty There's a new batch of artwork up in the French Toast Girl gallery... all about faeries. Go take a peek. I'm hoping to turn these into something... a calendar, prints... something. Ideas?

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Not that energetic It may seem like I have all this creative energy, but I don't. I don't really have any energy. This is self-preservation. I have to do things that are not baby-related so that I remember who the heck I am. Don't get me wrong: I love Sophia madly and I am thrilled beyond all telling that she is a part of my life. But there needs to be some time for Elena, the artist, in there too. If it's five minutes here and there spent gathering resources or posting artwork, then I have to make the most of the five minutes I've got. They'll add up to something... that's why they're baby steps. Who knew? This is the latest diet: you eat everything with chopsticks. My dad has been on this diet since the Korean War. No joke; he eats everything with chopsticks, even Jello. It's something to see. When we were little he even made us sets of training chopsticks so we could learn, too. Painting for America Michelle Abeyta is doing something neat: "a series of patriotic paintings to show support to the men and women who are doing their jobs and protecting our lives." Check her out and show her some support if you can. I agree with her: it's not about the war or no war, it's about supporting the people who are putting their lives on the line.

Monday, March 17, 2003

On the quest for Harmony I've been trying to take baby steps to do something creative every day. This week I finished knitting Snowflake's hat, had a photo shoot with Sophia, looked up places to submit my website to (if you know of any, please let me know), read SwirlyGirl's manifesto on starting a line of greeting cards, and submitted a little something to both O and Be Real Magazines. It's a start.
Sophie travels! We took Sophie to the park twice this weekend to take advantage of the gorgeous, non-March-like weather. Her first outings! We took pictures and video and met our newest next-door neighbor, Jack, who was born March 6. (I call him Sophia's boyfriend. They were both asleep for the big meeting.) We pointed out the places where Mommy likes to chalk, the geese, the playground, the gazebo, the trees Daddy's studio has planted there. As we arrived home we saw that the first little shoots of daffodils and crocuses were starting to poke their way up through the earth. Spring is arriving, and my heart is full to overflowing. Life is pretty darn good. Exhausting, but good. Having a moment... Songs that make mommy cry when she sings them to Sophie:
  • Isn't She Lovely
  • Goodnight, My Angel
  • Poor Sweet Baby (from the musical "Snoopy")
  • Friday, March 14, 2003

    I want:
  • to have my wedding ring fit my finger again
  • to post new artwork to my website
  • to paint something, anything
  • to go chalking
  • to finish my latest knitting project
  • to have all the time in the world and then some to spend with sweet little Sophia and her marvelous Daddy
  • to be patient and trust that all this will come in time