Thursday, May 21, 2015

Art and Obstacles

When I started this second art project, I had envisioned the body at the bottom as the left over char with some flames coming through, or perhaps just the hint of embers. Then smoke rising from it to become a flaming beauty rising from the ash, having overcome ... I don't know, whatever it was that caused her to burn to begin with. I can see it in my mind, beautiful and shining, with a dark background.

However, not being experienced with producing flames by hand, I had to do some trials. I don't know *why* I am showing you my process of thinking out loud, but here it is.

First thing I did was play with the shape of flames. And whether or not I should give her wings.

In the end, she just looked furry, but I figured that's what sketched flames look like, since I wasn't coloring anything, just messing with shapes.


Then I started with colored pencil on the body laying on the ground. One looks like charred logs, one looks like it's still on fire. Both I did with colored pencil for the color comps.  The overall feedback was that if the top figure rising up was going to be in flames, the charred look was better. Another suggested that instead of having her look like logs, have the body look like burned paper, burning up and leaving nothing behind.


So after all the feedback on the color comps for the bodies on the ground, I started a basic color comp on the rising body. I KNOW it's busy with all the marker strokes. I just wanted to see how the colors reacted with the color of the flames. Orange and yellow are the complements of blue and purple, and I wondered which would look better as a background color. I decided a blue/black would look best.

The idea behind all this scribbling being that when finished it would be a starry sky with the leftovers of a fire and the burning body under her. I'm pretty sure that unless you can see in my head what potential I see in this crazy color comp, this just looks busy and terrible.

When I think out loud, it's messy. This process works for me, though...

Anyway, today I painted on a trial background against the figure using goauche. Lots of blue and black. No, I'm not posting a picture of that. My intent was to see how the ink would flow over the paint. I'd had good results with the dragon, but I needed to make sure the yellows and oranges would be opaque enough over the dark paint.

No. They aren't/weren't. Yellow pigment, whether it's acrylic, tempera, goauche, or ink will never, ever, ever be opaque, dammit. Yellow ink over the blue/black still looks green. All the excitement I had over the potential of this project was sucked right out as I looked in frustration at the results of my experimentation.

Part of me just wants to give up on this altogether and move on to another project. However, that is giving up. I really love this image and want to do something with it that is successful. I am aware that not everything I try will be a success on the first try, but it's still frustrating.

So. Given the obstacles, I have to rethink this idea. Options I can currently envision:

* Do the whole thing in oils, mixing white with the yellow to make it opaque enough.

* Get rid of the body below the figure, give her wings and bit more of an angelic feel. That said, the yellow ink didn't look that great on the cream paper by itself, either. It's going to have to be a highlight.

* Do it in colored pencil. ... yuck. I spent a lot of money on a good colored pencil set, and it is my least favorite medium.  This option feels like adding more torture to the frustration of rethinking this.

* Rethink the background? Mix a white paint with the yellow ink? Maybe instead of a dark night contrasting with the bright flames, have a white immediate background that fades into color the further it goes.

* Or... handle it the way I did the dragon? Use calligraphy ink in orange or red and smudge it, then ink over that, and put the background in last? I did the background mixing ink with the goauche. (it looks so awful in photographs... sorry) I could texturize the background that way and still have the figure the way I want it.


I love the feel of this kind of art right here. I want to replicate THIS kind of style. I guess I still need to experiment. Obstacles can be overcome, I just have to find a way over, around, or under this one. It's art. All things are possible with art, right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Uplifting FB Posts Sometimes Piss Me Off

On days like today I shouldn't look at my Facebook newsfeed.

Yes, my meds are working. Yes, I still have down days; it's the nature of my illness. Some days my filters work better than others. Today my filters aren't so great, and everything seems to hit like a baseball bat.

You know those uplifting posts that people share about how they have enough faith and know that God can and will cure everything? Those pretty pictures with the quotes about how you should choose what kind of day you're going to have and then have it? Those f-ing reminders to live better, keep trying, don't give up, and have faith because it's all going to be miraculously better if you just will it to be.

I think it's awesome that people find comfort in those words. That they feel uplifted and gifted and that they can conquer the world. It's great for them, it truly is.

Today, those posts just filled me with guilt and the sense that I was being judged. I feel defensive and perhaps a bit petulant and severely irritated.

I would like to state for the record that some of us have faith, we walk with God, we talk to Him constantly throughout the day, ***and He still says No.*** Faith doesn't mean that He *will* cure us, even though yes, He does have that power. Faith means you believe it's worth it, that you believe in the end things will work out. Even if that end is not in this lifetime. Okay?? STOP TELLING ME I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH.

You know what? Even while trying to walk toward death, I felt God with me. That was not a crisis of faith. That was simply the right and only option that I saw, and I felt I needed to go Home. I've read blog posts and articles where people say those actions mean I didn't believe, or that I just gave up or that blaming it on my meds not working is just rationalizing. Like hell.

**edit: Ok, they were not aiming directly at me, but today I take that personally.**

Even with my meds, I do not always get to choose how my day is going to go. No matter how cheerful I try to be, no matter how much funny I find in the day, how grateful I am for the miracles and safety that my family has, it doesn't change the fact that there's a dark cloud hovering that is more difficult to see through than on other days.

On days like today I just shouldn't look at Facebook. On days like today, I can't just let those things go and think, "Yep, that applies to the poster, yay for them!"  No, on days like today it just pierces right through my barriers and hurts my heart.

I wish people would remember that not everyone is told yes. That not everyone gets a miraculous healing. I have been told in blessing after blessing after blessing to work with my doctors, to listen and pay attention to the prescriptions and follow the medical advice I've been given as well as advice and suggestions from those inspired to help me. I'm also willing to share that I'm told that I'll find peace and comfort in serving others **as I am able.**

This is the kicker, folks: there are no words to me that are a promise in any way, shape, or form that I'm going to get better. They are, instead, a promise that I'm not alone, that God is aware of me, that He's with me and will comfort me. But that no, He's not going to fix it.

This means He has an awful lot of belief in my strength of will. Grace has to make up for a lot of my imperfections, because I certainly can't do this on my own. This is HARD. And today it's extra hard because all those wonderful things happening to all those people just make me feel inadequate, unworthy, and horrible for not being able to do more, for not being able to get better, for still struggling some days just to stay awake.

I'm not saying people shouldn't post things that are uplifting. Of course they should. It's their feed, it's their life, and it's what helps and motivates them. I have a scroll button. I have the power to shut off my browser. I have a room full of paints and paper that I could go bury myself in, except today I don't have the energy.

I don't know what my point is, except that today, those posts pissed me off, and I wanted to shout and scream and rail against the posters that their faith is no better than mine. That not all of us have the power to choose how we feel every single day. I MISS that power on days like this. I am angry at blanket statements. I am angry both at myself for taking these things personally, and at the posters for being so lucky, so blind in their beliefs that they can't see the rest of us who don't get those same blessings.

It's irrational and childish, but I am pissed off at FB today and I really want to unfriend half the people on my list because I am not only jealous, but feeling intensely judged. Even though none of them meant anything toward me personally.

I need to go back to bed.

Things I'm Glad I Bought

I am always grateful I purchased the following:

1 - Safety Plan for my daughter's glasses. $50, and she got a free replacement pair when someone knocked her glasses off and someone else stepped on a lens. It's still in effect, and if she needs it again within the next year, she's covered.

2 - Oil Change Punch Pass. I paid $100 in January to get six oil changes throughout the year. Because we also bought our tires through the same place, they include tire rotations. With the hubster being laid off, I can still get maintenance done on my vehicles to keep them running. Awesome purchase.

3 - Legos. Come on, you can never go wrong with something fun to build. Then tear apart and build into something else. Then tear apart and rebuild again into something even fancier. I will never regret the cost of Legos.

4 - My weed whacker. As much as I'm not a fan of yard work anymore (I used to be, but then I turned 40 and, well, there's this whole blog I keep about what happened) I love the weed whacker. It keeps the grass from blocking the automatic sprinklers in the corners. It makes the front yard look under control. It gives the yard a finished look, even if it's just camouflaging the weeds and making them look like grass. LOVE that tool.

5 - My drill. I bought a Makita cordless drill about ten years ago, along with a drill bit set. I can hang pictures, take apart and put back together just about anything in the house that needs repairing or fixing or painting. The one I bought is light enough for me to handle easily but has enough power that I don't feel like I have to ask a big strong burly manly man to do something for me that I can do myself.

6 - My art supplies. One can never have too many art supplies. I am ever so grateful that while I was in college, I took my professor's suggestions and tried out a bunch of different mediums and grounds. Now when I want to experiment, I have the majority of the tools that I want to play with. I have never regretted investing in brushes, paints, papers, inks, tapes, thinners, wood boards, canvas, molding pastes, etc.

7 - A new computer monitor. This is in the "I want that" category, although I did feel I needed it, too. I have all kinds of reasons and rationales about how I use the computer for photoshop and to design stuff for people. And yes, back when my brain worked, that did make me some money. But the fact of the matter is that the primary use for the monitor now is for me to play WoW on my bad days, type when I feel the need, and goof off on facebook or play sudoku when I need to numb my brain. I use it to look up reference pictures for art, and I do use it to help kids with homework; I certainly don't regret buying it. I will never consider it a waste of money, no matter how much time I waste with it.

8 - The Wii. Yes, I know there are more advanced game systems out there. Yes, I know its outdated. But you know what? This game system and all of the Just Dance games as well as the family game night series has done more to bring my family and kids together than anything else. We dance, we play, we cheer each other on, we goof off, we giggle. It's a wonderful thing. My younger girls get on the Wii Fit and do basic yoga and other exercises they think are super fun. So yeah, new systems may be out there, but I'll keep using what I've got because it works wonders for cementing my kids together in spite of all their personality differences.

9 - My Canon Rebel xTi DSLR. I bought it for my Beginning Photography class in college. It was a required class for my Illustration degree, because you take a LOT of photo references for accurate paintings. I love that camera. I love being able to affect lighting, exposure, and depth of field. I love the quality of pictures. I don't necessarily love how heavy it is, or how bulky it is to carry around, but I am glad that I invested in it all those years ago. It was worth every penny.

10 - My Epson six-ink printer.
A - Beautiful, awesome scans. I have never had an issue with scan quality, size, or dpi. My favorite scanner, ever.

B - When I used this printer for package design, it gave me the best colors of red. I hadn't seen some of those colors outside a print house, and this lovely printer gave them to me. Also, the photographs, oh they print gorgeously.

--- Granted, the ink is NOT cheap. It costs close to $90 to re-ink this baby. I only buy it when I'm doing a job for someone that requires color proofs. I have a laser printer that is much easier and cheaper to use for everyday homework and other print needs.



I had a list of other gadgets around the house that I love, but I've lost it and can't think of any of them off the top of my head. So there's my top ten. :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wish List

What I wish for.

Because I like lists, and why not?

1- A tattoo. Not the money for the tat, because I'd spend it on my kids. But a booked, pre-paid appointment for some time ON my birthday to get it done. Because that is a day I'm neurotic and could totally handle all the pain.

2- Hot press water color paper. A big stack of the 18x24 (or something close/bigger) kind. Or heck, even two or three of the big sheets.

3- An accessory bit kit for my dremel. I love to work with wood, and I'd really like to have some of the fun bits to go along with my favorite power tool. 

4- More paint brushes. Both oxhair and synthetic

5- More goauche paints. I love they way they interact with ink.

6- A variety of nibs for my inking set.

7 - Additional colors of India Ink for my inking set. I'd REALLY like some of the metallic golds and silvers and blues. Those are yummy.

8- The program Poser for more accurate figure drawing

9- A few more of the 18x24 drawing pads

10- Two or three more of the good sketchbooks. The kind with the GOOD paper.

11- A marker set. You can laugh, but I want the good markers. They're kind of awesome for color comps. But, in a pinch, I'd totally take a variety of Crayola. And they'd be just for me and I wouldn't share them with my kids, because MINE.

12- A better mp3 player. I know, that's kind of dumb and ungrateful, but the one I have now is a sports one. It doesn't have playlists, shuffle, or even a way to view what I'm listening to. It just plays. I'd kind of like something that I can select what I want to listen to, have a couple different playlists for different moods, and variety. I LIKE variety.

13- A hair cut and color. Please, for the love of Helvetica, let me color my gray with purple. Or at the very least, carmel highlights. I really am tired of looking at the gray, and I like feeling pretty.

14- A pedicure.  Those are lovely. No calluses, beautiful toes, and a foot massage. mmmmmm

15-  New jeans, pretty please. I have ONE pair I can wear. They are already starting to wear on the inner thighs.

16- My piano tuned.

17- Some silver and turquoise jewelry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Call the waaaa-ambulance

This is a whining pity poor me vent. Just ignore it, I had to get the thoughts out of my head. This one really is for the nether.

Some family members have the power to hurt me even though I'm an adult now. Logically I know where they are in their life and understand their limitations when dealing with others. But it still hurts that they don't care.

It's not like the hard parts of my life are a secret. I'm not trying to hide skeletons in my closet. Any of my family can check my Facebook feed or read my blog to get a pretty good idea of my thoughts, feelings, and crazy. I'm pretty damned open about what I go through. 

I don't understand why someone who spends all their time on the internet bothers to ask what's going on in my life and puts all the blame on me for not keeping in touch. Yes, I don't call very often. That is true. There are reasons behind that which I will not get into here. Suffice it to say I have baggage and am still working through it.

But it hurts when we chat. It hurts when they don't remember ME, just some girl child that was. They think I was a princess child who loved pink and sparkly. They think my birthday is in February. They don't come to family things that are important to me or to my children. Like weddings. Or baby blessings. And then they open up a chat window one day and say "Hey, why don't you stay in touch? Call me sometime," When really, all they want is to tell me more about what they're doing. Every single conversation, whether it's chat or phone is all one sided. There is no real interest in what is happening on this end. And while I love them dearly, that hurts.

Yes, I am proud of the accomplishments they are making. Yes, I am glad and happy for them that they are finding something in life that makes them feel good about themselves and gives them hope. That's awesome for them; really, truly great. It's been 35 years of them being lost and feeling hopeless, so that is a very big deal.

But... it would be nice to just have a normal conversation. Talk about books or movies, laugh, tease, be people. Conversations don't need to be all about me, nor all about them. Just... conversations, you know? Normal things that normal people do? Not underhanded demands for my art skills to be donated. Not just a 'let me tell you how great I'm doing' conversation.

You know, I just tried to kill myself last month. I had a mental breakdown. I am struggling with being a parent and a wife. I am struggling with coping with life. Yes, my meds are starting to work and yes, things ARE getting better, but that doesn't mean I've made it to the top of the mountain and am on the sled ride down to home base. Nope. But yup, I'm going to wallow in guilt for a bit that I don't make the effort to keep in touch with them. Because that's part of my job description and one more thing I am not perfect at.

*sigh* maybe this all bothers me because I do the same thing. Maybe I'm only seeing in them what I see in myself. Maybe I am that annoying and hurtful to the people I love. Uggggggh. All I can say to that is I am trying to be better than that. I am trying to be a good, caring, kind person.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Consequences

Consequences are something we don't get to pick when we make a choice. I made a choice a month ago, April 1st. Granted, my brain said "this is the right choice, I need to do this" but it was still a choice. And so now I live with consequences.

*  My family is afraid to leave me home alone. It doesn't matter that my house was full of kids when I left, they are afraid to leave me home alone. I either have to have someone chatting with me via text, have someone with me, or someone online talking to me and keeping tabs on me if everyone else is going out.   -- it gets annoying really fast, but I understand why.

* When I leave the house, I have to call and let my husband know where I am going. And I can't forget my phone or my purse.  -- again, understandable, and again annoying.

* I walked close to 15 miles that day through a dried up lake bed made of soft sand. In 40 degree weather. I pushed myself past the point of exhaustion and still kept going. I was dehydrated and had hypothermia.  The consequence of this: A month later and I'm still recovering. My stamina is super short. I get exhausted after doing menial tasks. I've been trying to mow my lawn, and I can't do more than 10 or 15 minutes before I am covered in sweat, breathing so heavily I think I might pass out, and want to cry because I'm so tired.

* I have to work to eliminate stress. This means that I have to admit that being home with my three youngest kids on the weekends is hard. Very hard. I broke down when they were home on spring break, and while it's humiliating to admit, I have a hard time when they're all home together on the weekends. I can handle school days, for the most part, but... my skills as a mother are seriously impaired right now. I have to allow family to help take care of my children on the weekends. I'm super grateful, and super frustrated over this.

* Housework. Again, I'm limited in the amount of things I can do before I am exhausted. I have to rely on the hubster and the kids to do much more than they are used to doing. This is also frustrating for me, because they don't do it the way I do it, and I have to breathe and let them just do it. It's humbling, and it's also somewhat stressful when the kids want to know why their chore list has gotten longer, even though they know mommy needs help.

* I can't promise I will never do it again. I tried to, and a friend of mine looked at me and said, 'Don't make promises you can't keep.'  I was appalled. Surely I could promise this and it would stay in my mind and keep me safe the next time. My other friend, a therapist, looked at me sadly and said, "You can make that promise today, because your meds are working. What happens when your body chemistry changes and you get down in the low lows again? It is very likely that you'll think that suicide is again the only choice or the right choice. Don't promise you won't do it."

It is extremely frustrating to live with the fact that I cannot trust my judgements. To know that my brain chemistry affects my reality in such a way that my family and friends are completely justified in keeping an eye on me. I hate it, I'll admit. This is one very frustrating thing to live with; to know that I can't trust myself.

I feel like me. I feel like I'm fine. I feel like I can walk, talk, laugh, choose my emotions and responses to things, and be normal pre-40 me. I know I'm not entire stable. I know there are days when I cry over little things. I *want* to insist that I'm fine, that I'm logical, that I have common sense and won't do stupid things.

Yet when my family looks at me, unsure, I know they might be right to wonder just how in control of my common sense I am. It's really hard to be on the inside of this, to live in my reality and know that it's now skewed enough that I'm on a different balancing board than the others around me.

It's humbling, frustrating, humiliating, embarrassing, and yet I'm growing from it. I don't know or understand how or why, but it is happening. So there's hope at least. Me, I am hoping that my meds continue to work and that I keep feeling as good as I feel now. I hope that this isn't a manic episode and that a drop is coming in a week or so. I hope. And as long as I have hope, that's a sign that I'm still fighting and not giving up.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Light Switch

Not long after or before my Walk of Doom (which is easier to say than attempted suicide) I posted about how frustrated I was that none of my talents or gifts work any more.

Then slowly things began to change.

About a week after my med change, I began to draw again. And then paint. And it came out beautifully.

Earlier this week, I became able to actively affect how I feel. For instance, today I have a fever, chills, and feel dizzy - and am choosing to enjoy the day instead of feeling miserable. I sat outside in the sun to warm up and enjoyed the sound of the birds, the feel of the wind, and the joy of my son riding his bike up and down the sidewalk.  I don't feel gray, empty, blah, or flat, instead I feel happy. Obviously my body needs to purge something, so I will let it go about its business and I will enjoy the small things.

Yesterday I received a phone call. It was an amazing phone call, truly a gift. I won't go into details, because it's very personal, but a light switch was flipped on. Today when I look out at the world, I don't just see green trees, blue sky, and houses. Today I see the life and the magic behind all that. Oh how I have missed being able to *feel* the world around me. I can feel the life, I can connect to it. I can feel the people and really see them again.

It's not exactly like the world had turned gray, but having that part of my life shut off felt like trying to breathe underwater. Today I can breathe. Today I can feel.

Is it because the meds are working? Hopefully, yes, and also because of the extra help I have received both spiritually and physically.

Is it because I've gone from a low phase into a manic phase? This question is worth serious consideration, and I don't have a definitive answer for it because all I can do is wait and see. But I am not expecting to go down so low again because now some of  my *real* tools are back in play.

It's only been a month since my lowest low. Since the day I honestly thought that returning Home was the right and correct thing to do. I am still stabilizing. I am still finding my footing, and working my way through the myriad of emotions that race through my mind. I still have fears and doubts and I still have a hard time handling basic things that used to be easy.

I'm not out of the tunnel yet, but the light at the end of it is getting bigger and brighter. Baby steps. Sometimes those baby steps are painful, but I am moving forward, readjusting, re-learning, and still living.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Introvert?

I am an introvert.

Yes, I am, I promise.

This surprises a great many people who know me, because I love people. Talking to complete strangers is not easy for me, especially when I have no idea what to say. But if I have a purpose, or a question to ask, or a comment, I can do THAT without issue. And if that's a starter for me, then I can usually keep up a conversation from there. And I usually enjoy myself once I get started.

Which means I'm not shy. Exactly. I feel shy a lot, but I know people who really are shy, and I do not have the same kind of obstacle they do.

My therapist says I'm an introvert who processes externally.

This explains why:

*  I can be around people on bad days, laugh a bunch with them and feel better.
*  I can write soul-baring diaryish blog entries about what I'm going through. I have to talk about it to process it, look at it, deal with it, and send it on its way.
*  I enjoy having things like Game Night and the occasional get-togethers.

Ok, *before* the social anxiety kicked in, I could handle bigger get togethers than I can now. Now any extra people in my house is hard, even if it's just one person.

However, all of the above considered, I still require:

*  Alone time to decompress
*  Time without people to just be, think, and feel.
*  A quiet place to be alone with my thoughts.
*  I like walking alone, but since my attempted Walk of Doom, I am not really allowed to go for walks by myself anymore. Which, you know, is understandable, all things considered.

I do not have a gazillion best friends. I *DO* have waaaay more male friends than female friends. Because girls are weird and I don't understand them. --It's probably why God sent me five daughters? So they'd confuse me even more??--   Anyway, the few female friends that I do have are dear, dear, dear, dear friends who know everything about me from the inside out. Very few people get past these mental walls of mine and see the real inner workings of my soul.

You wouldn't know it from a lot of my posts, but I really don't share everything. Because MINE.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Gross Happens

I was doing the dishes the other day and there was a bowl in the sink that was just icky. I have no idea what was in it or how long it had sat there. Because no, I am not one of those perfect parents who keeps the sink clear every day. When I rinsed it out and shoved it in the dishwasher, I wondered if Mike Rowe ever considered doing a Dirty Jobs episode on homes. One doesn't even have to have kids for this, especially if you have pets. As I have six kids, well, I have mostly kid stories.

Gross: When your son gets distracted by something while peeing and turns to look at it. Because when a potty training little boy turns, it's not just his head but his whole body that swivels, which then gets pee not only on the toilet, but also sprays the walls and floor and whatever else is nearby.

Gross: The leftover moldy bit of something hidden under a child's bed that is the source of that smell you've been wondering about for days.

Gross: Finding a sippy cup under a couch with rotten milk in it. Note: the sippy cup in question was not used by a toddler. Those I could keep track of. No, this one was dug out of a cupboard by a six year old when mom wasn't looking, who then filled it with milk, took it to the basement and then promptly forgot about it. Nasty. I threw the cup away.

Gross: Finding the toddler has painted the wall with the contents of their diaper. Lots of parents have these stories. Lots of kids are not afraid of poop. In fact, quite the opposite. It's more of a fascination with the goopy stuff that comes out of their body, much to the adult's dismay and the child's utter enjoyment.

Gross: Having people over for an evening show in the back yard with a projector and finding poop where you're setting up chairs. "Oh, I didn't know you had a dog."  "I don't. I have a four-year-old boy."

Gross: The hair that clogs up the bathtub drain. With six girls in the house, including mom, not only does that add up quickly, but one becomes best friends with a snake tool really fast.

Gross: Teenage girls' laundry. Specifically the bloody kind that they forgot to soak and has sat at the bottom of the hamper getting smelly and nasty and stained beyond repair. It's not that the blood itself is gross. Because, seriously, it happens every single month. A girl gets used to blood pretty darn quick. It's just the mess that comes with it that's nasty. It's like leaving a snack trail for vampires.

Oh, yeah, and on the subject of teenage laundry, let me add something about sports. One of my daughters was on the basketball team, ran track, and played rugby. Her gym bag smelled horrific. Not that she didn't do her laundry, but sometimes she'd forget about her gym clothes and leave them in the hot van, thus letting them bake for a couple of days in between games or meets or whatever. Ick.

I'm fairly certain I'll have these issues with my son, but for now he's six so his sweat glands haven't yet decided to add their input to his messes.

Gross: That litter of kittens your cat just had because the kids let your un-fixed cat out?  Yeah, those babies may be cute, but they don't come potty trained. Four cute little balls of fur became four pooping and peeing monsters. They didn't just do it in the open where I could find it and clean it. No, they had to climb out of every enclosure I could think of to seek out every unknown corner and crevice in the house to leave their little presents. Several months after finding a home for the last kitty, I found poop in the shoe closet behind some snow boots.

And while the smell of cat pee does come out... eventually... and with special cleaners, it's traumatic for an 8 year old to have to wear her sister's coat to school because the cat peed on her favorite pink leopard print winter jacket. Traumatic for the mom, too, because she has to convince said child to wear the alternate coat. Never, ever, ever again will I let a cat have kittens in my house. Worse than potty training children.

Gross: Trying to clip the dogs' nails. My dogs think it's pure torture and can't figure out why in the world I would do such a thing to their beautiful long nails, and don't I know they will die a horrible death if I clip that nail?? They hate it so bad that they pee and try to poop on me so I'll leave them alone. I'll admit, that's why their nails get so long in the first place. I haven't figured out who it's more traumatic for, me or the dogs.

Gross: My 2nd child having an upset stomach. Kids get sick, everyone does. But this particular child didn't *want* to be sick. So even though she had a bucket, she'd put her hands over her mouth every time to try to stop it from coming out. Which then got it *everywhere.* The hubster and  I would just pray and pray that she wouldn't get the flu or whatever stomach bug was going around, because we dreaded the clean-up.

There's the puke, the snotty noses, the sick messes, the food messes. There are the messes you don't find for days and/or weeks.

One may start out parenthood with a soft stomach. Honestly, I still dry-heave over some of the messes I have to clean up. But they do make funny stories eventually, and one builds up a tolerance over the years. Sort of. At the very least, you learn really quick that hands ARE washable, thank heavens.

The not-gross messes, like a 2 yr old little girl completely covered from head to toe in mom's lipstick?  Those are just as fun stories to tell, years later, but not so much while it's happening. Looking back on it, I wish I'd taken a picture of my daughter and how proud she was at making herself all beautiful. Cleaning her up - and getting it out of her ears - turned my bathtub pink. I scrubbed that tub for weeks before it came off, but she was pleased as punch with herself.

As a parent, I think Gross never really gets easier, but we learn how to clean it up without freaking out. Um, most of the time. Because Gross Happens, whether you just have pets, or one child, or ten.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Huh. Ribbons. I seem to love them.

Yep, ribbons. I can't explain it, I just seem to have a thing for them right now. So ok, a ribbon it is.



A firey, flamey golden ribbon if I have anything to do with it.  I'm mostly happy with this sketch. It's not perfect, and I see a couple of places where I need to exaggerate the ribbon, but that's all fixable.

Now, I get to transfer this to tracing paper to do color comps. I want to make sure I have the idea for the flames right *before* I start inking.

I wish, wish, wish I could photoshop bits of this image so I could move them and re-angle parts of them. Either I'm too lazy to erase all of it and start over, or I just need to leave them as is and make it work.