Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween

We have had such a great Halloween week.  It has been crazy busy as well.  Em and I were put in charge of the Ward Halloween Chili Cook-Off, which went great!  Unfortunately, our husbands and children had to leave early as the party exceeded their bedtime, but they still had a great time trick-or-treating to all the different doors in the church building. Emily went as her own version of Super (Wo)Man and I revisited my former junior high alter ego creation, Super Lili.

Here's the original Super Lili from 9th grade.  Ah, the good old days.

In other good news, I have shed nearly 9 pounds since last Halloween (that is when I really started to kick my post-baby weight loss into gear.)  I am very relieved and amazed to be back down to nearly pre-marriage weight.  I owe most of the weight loss to breast feeding and obsessively watching Heavy, Extreme Make-Over: Weight Loss Edition, and Biggest Loser.  Anyway, I am planning on gaining it all back come Christmas.  Mixed feelings about that...

Penny had an awesome Halloween.  I love that at this age, the accumulation of candy is more interesting than actually eating it, leaving the spoils for the parents (though, I am going to resist as much as possible, and freeze it all.  See above paragraph).  We decided to walk around our block and knock on the more decked out houses.  I had no idea how friendly and excited everyone in our neighborhood was.  I know Cheverly certainly prides itself on being a family-friendly community, but people were extremely friendly, I expressed my appreciation on a few occasions for the welcoming attitude.  That is saying quite a lot considering the condition of the neighborhoods not a mile or two from here (remember the Target stabbing?)  Needless to say, Penny enjoyed the new experience, and I think the new, friendly faces were good for her.  She needs a little exposure to new people.  Plus, several houses were handing out the BIG candybars.  We'll save THOSE for later.

Here are some adorable pictures of our little kitty:














We ended our fine evening with some amazingly divine home-made pizzas courtesy of Emily, and watched an old edited version of Butterfly Effect (too bad they can't edit the cheesiness or bad acting out of it.  But still a fun little thriller.) and indulged in some serious home made caramel with apple slices.  Really, I would have just liked to eat it with a spoon, and forget the apples altogether, but that would contradict my previous statement (see weight loss paragraph.)

Happy Halloween all!  I hope everyone enjoyed themselves, and had a safe holiday!  Here are some zombie sketches to send you off!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

My daily struggle.

I have always though of myself as a generally healthy person.  I enjoy a good work out, I'm probably too obsessive about what I eat, and I have always been grateful about my high functioning self.

Until this year when I have been cursed with horrible, dreaded asthma.

I remember growing up, there would be times when I couldn't really get enough air in my lungs (have you ever had that feeling where you try to yawn, and it doesn't seem to catch?  It feels very similar to that) but never enough to bug me.  But throw a little bit of allergies in the mix, and it was like a bomb went off.

I have been to the doctor over 5 times now in the last few weeks, every time trying a new medication or inhaler, to find something that will help ease my attacks.  Generally they work for the first week, then the effects wear off, and I am left with asthma attacks and other infections CAUSED by the medications (this has made me even more angry than the breathing problems...)  I knew it was getting really bad when I couldn't even last through the first hour of church with out an attack, and Jeff and I had to run to the Urgent Care.  It is constantly on my mind, which is a burden because normally you don't really have to THINK about trying to get enough air with every breath, it just happens.  We are going to try an allergy specialist, because obviously the doctor we have been going to has been a big waste of time (and money).

Mostly, I just want to remember how good it feels to breathe again. *suppressed sigh*

But so far, the best cure has been the fun distractions I have in my life every day.

It is supposed to say Canned Delectables.
Emily has been gracious enough to invite me to her canning fun!  We had boxes or nectarines and apples on the verge of going bad, so we quickly canned some nectarine quarters and jams, and some really delicious apple butter.  Emily was not entirely impressed by their turn out, but I was just beaming with pride to see my little jars lined up!  It is a pretty big deal for me to even made something that turns out ok, and these looked so pretty and legit! Plus the smell of those apples slow cooking all day was mouthwatering and a treat all by itself!

 While we were making this delicious jam, Emily suggested we make some yummy bread as well.  I was very excited to do make bread with someone, because for some reason, mine just doesn't turn out how I plan.  But of course, with Em's magic touch, I made my best loaves yet, all by hand!

I will admit, I am not the best baker or can...ner, but I DO enjoy myself a good design project.  So I made labels.
Playing with these kids is definitely a highlight to my day.  Penny is constantly asking for "MiMI!!!" and "Ooby!" and I sometimes find her halfway up the stairs with out me in her haste to play.  We need to close our doors more tightly!  These kids are so funny, it is just a treat watching them all grow up.  And they are all extremely clever.  It is very entertaining to listen to them play off each other (often in the car) where one will start counting, and the other continues for them.  Or someone will start singing a song just to have someone join in for the chorus.  One of my favorite instances was Friday, Penny was engaging in her favorite, prolonged maniacal laugh she so often does, which inspired the rest to follow.  We were cruising a car full of giggly babies, Emily and I very much enjoyed the in-car entertainment.



 Well, I published this post, and somehow more than half of it got deleted.  So, I will continue it later, when I am over this internal struggle not to explode... Ok, it's passing... nope.  Still there.  Ok, now it's gone.  For now, enjoy this flier I made for the ward Halloween party that Em and I got put in charge of.  Jeff requested the Frankenstein's Monster, and the rest of the trick-or-treaters followed after :)  I think they turned out just adorable, and I'm sure all the kids who come will be too.
 



Friday, October 14, 2011

Lately

I'm sure every young mother goes through that moment where they have to figure out where their life is going to go.  I am happier than I have ever been playing with little Pen all day (though, an extra bedroom would be nice. When we finally have one, we will appreciate it that much more, right?) but I always knew no matter when we started having kids, I always wanted to continue my graphic design efforts.  I have always felt that it was a good choice of career, because it was more of a supplement to my motherhood, and could easily be done from home in my spare time.

I felt like I finally reached the point where I could continue my graphic designing without taking any time away from Pen, and so I have really started working on it full force.  I have been doing lots of work to pad my portfolio so I can start sending it to magazines and publishing companies.  See for yourself:






 and my handouts have been doing well.  I accumulate about 5,000+ views weekly!




 I have also been getting lots of commission jobs lately from Jeff's work, as well as a few commission jobs on the side.  I am so glad I have finally been able to revisit and develop my passion.

Now, the down side of being a designer.  For some reason, most of my potential customers think that I should work for free.  Perhaps people are just misinformed, but designing things is hard work.  I have to come up with a concepts, sketch, scan, then illustrate and assemble the design.  It isn't like I wave a magical wand and the designs appear.  Not to mention the years I have invested in learning these complicated programs, and developing my mouse control.  I do every illustration with the mouse since I don't have a tablet yet. I have had a few potential jobs in the last few weeks where people ask for my help with some illustrations, and as soon as I mention my price (which, by the way, is EXTREMELY good) I never hear from them again.  Or even worse, I actually end up doing the designs, just to have people change their mind and don't want the designs anymore, or even refuse to pay.  When you go to a restaurant, you can't just keep ordering food until you get something you actually want.

Also, NEVER justify your free designs by offering for the designer to use it in their "portfolio."  Not every single thing we do goes in our portfolio.  Does every single thing you do at work end up on your resume?

This graphic that I happened upon on the internet pretty sums it up:
The point is, if you want a good design, be prepared to pay.  If you want a terrible design made with little effort, then so be it.

Ok, end of my rant.

Now for fun things! My favorite thing about Penny lately is her ability to truly feed herself.  She can eat cereal and milk all by herself, I can just give her and apple or sandwich or most other foods.  It saves so much time.


She is also a blossoming artist!  She loves to color or "dwah" with crayons, markers, paints, and pens.  Yesterday, as she was coloring, I told her to draw a circle, and sure enough, she drew a very rough oval shape!  Perhaps I am rubbing off on her after all!  Pen and the triplets enjoy sitting on my lap while I sketch lately, and name the face and body parts as I sketch them.  Such clever children.
 We have also had lots of fun with mom and dad who were in town.  It was great to have more friends to play with through out the day.  We had fun at the Amish Market, saw a brilliant production of one of my favorite musicals Parade at Ford's Theater, ate some good stuff at Good Stuff, among several other fun activities.

A few more cute pictures:
 
 



Also, Emily posted the other day about the Target stabbing that we came upon minutes after it happened.  We pulled up just as the ambulances were leaving, but there was still pools and splatters of blood all over the pavement.  It was very traumatic, and more disturbing than I thought it would be.  I kind of never want to leave the house again, you never know what crazy lady is wandering free with knives stowed on her person.  What kind of sick world do we live in?!?  I try not to think about this, but it keeps creeping back.

To end on a happier note, Penny is cutely asking for snacks or "sphnaks!" so I best be feeding her that delicious lasagna I prepared last night.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Race for the Family

This weekend, I did what I thought to be impossible and actually ran (and finished!) a 5k!  I can finally join my family in saying that I have at least made it through a race!!



The reason why I am mostly excited is because a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with asthma, and my breathing has been a big problem lately, especially with allergy season in full force.  (They say this is the absolute WORST place in the country for allergies.  Which aggravates the asthma even more.)  It has been a big struggle in my life, because the medicines they gave me to help me breath only caused more problems, and now we are back to the beginning with trying to treat it.  So, the thought of running even 1 mile seemed a bit daunting.

It was hard, there were moments when I wanted to stop, and it was hard to breath sometimes, but I just continued to run, and I finished in 30:10!  My goal was no more than a half hour, and I reach exactly that. And I felt great afterward! 
Here comes Emily, about a minute or so before me!

And here I come sprinting to the end!
I should also mention that we chose to run this particular race because it was sponsored by Shady Grove Fertility Clinic, and we felt that The Race for the Family was a very worthy cause. 

Jeff and Penny had a fun time playing on the play ground, and exploring the park.  Jeff said she tried to run right into this lake, shouting, "SWIM?  SWIM? SWIMMING SWIMMING SWIMMING!? SWIM!?!"

Anyway, we had a great time!  Thanks for the motivation, Emily! I think I could have done a little better without my breathing problems, perhaps on a course with less hills, and maybe I could have done with out the two large mosquito bites on my toes :)