Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Year New Me: Pony Progress

Today I thought I’d mix up my morning “internesting” ritual (coffee and computer time, usually comfortably nested on the couch); I brought my laptop and my coffee into the horse pen. It's one of my New Year's Resolutions: spending more time hanging out with the horsies to work on gentling them. 

Progress up to this point, I'm sorry to say, is minimal. Our winter thus far has been virtually nonexistent, but their pen has lots of shade and what little snow we've gotten takes a long time to leave, resulting in a muddy, icy, frozen poo wonderland. This environment is, shockingly, not that enticing to spend time in. 

Currently it's about 35 degrees out, and cloudy, but my travel mug “bubba”--that’s the brand name, not a weird nickname for a cup--is excellent at keeping my coffee hot. My fingers, however, are chilly as I type, and my computer won’t connect the the wifi from the house. Dangit. I need some kind of slender-fingered gloves that would still allow typing, however, a) the house is far, and b) I don’t think I have any.

The horses are staring me down so hard. I put grain buckets at my feet so they HAVE to be my friends. (LOVE ME!) Petunia promptly cleaned out the one farther away from me, but both she and Lady Mike refuse to eat from the closer one. Maybe the computer is scary. Or the typing. God, horses are jumpy. The other day I brought out my actual clicky-shutter camera out to take photos of them and it was ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.

Of course these ladies are particularly sensitive as they are Actual. Wild. Mustangs. that I got way ahead of myself in taking on, having no experience horse training and all, and now I’m super impatient and why won’t they let me pet them for the love of God let me pet you I promise you’ll like it! I tell them all the time how much they’ll like it. Why don’t they believe me?

[Aside: we aren’t completely stupid and/or inept, F.Y.I. While we (*I*) were very impulsive in rescuing the ladies, Dooley does have a horsey background—rodeo, riding, starting colts, etc.—and I am learning all I can about natural horsemanship from other mustang trainers. Don’t fret. Also, I've been told it can take over a year to get "untouched" mustangs touchable. 😒 We're around 5 months.]

Bruce the dog is eating horse poop again. Dogs are so gross. Whenever I’m scooping manure, I sing songs to the horses about capturing rogue poop nuggets and such; one day I had a song about Bruce the shit-eating mutt. I think it was to the tune of a Christmas song, but I can’t quite remember. It was so catchy. 

Speaking of shit-eating...thank you,

[Unrelated: the other day I realized Trumpspeak is eerily similar to a Dr. Suess book, but much less clever. If only this speech generator could rhyme.]

My computer finally found the internet! And ponies be creepin’. Lady Mike is 100% Professor Petunia’s shadow—always by her side, always behind her. She will be bummed out when we put up panels to split the pen. SUCH GOOD, BRAVE GIRLS are now eating the near grain. But I stupidly itched my nose and Lady Mike spooked. So Fat Petunia got most of it.

I don’t think Fat Petunia is pregnant after all. She’s just a Lil’ Roundy (her rapper name). Or was wormy when she got here and just looked pregnant. While I am disappointed, it’s probably for the best since we still can’t handle her. SO instead of a baby horse, I’m pulling for a miniature mule, courtesy of my sister-in-law in Georgia. They just have to plop her in the back of their Cadillac SUV and drive her to Colorado. (After I get my husband to consent. But he vetoed getting another cat so…mini mule it is!) Maybe “Dandelion”, aka “Dandy”, will help convince the mustangs to love us.

I am inside now. My fingers are still a little numb but now I’m using a ceramic mug and a coffee warmer and it’s the best thing in the world to hold a hot mug in your cold hands. I want to become one with this warm mug.

So. My resolution to spend more time working with the ladies is part of a bigger resolution to better manage my time. Since I quit working, my days get away from me and I am sucked into a vortex of lack: lack of motivation, lack of productivity, and lack of energy. So I've resolved to spend a certain amount of time every day on the following (in no particular order): 1. Horses, 2. Fitness, 3. Art, 4. House. Since my NYNM didn't really start until the kids finally went back to school this week, I'm still slacking in the art and fitness categories. In my defense on the latter, I am still recovering from a killer workout class my friend dragged me to on Friday.  

When I was a hardcore badass with diet and exercise three years ago (how has it been that long?!), I lost all the weight I’d gained with the surrogacy and then some, but once we moved from the prairie to the city and I started slacking it all came back…and then some. I have 30 pounds to lose and am dreading getting back to the diet and exercise routine, but NEW YEAR NEW ME, right? At least scooping manure and hiking to and from the bus stop is a bit of exercise; now if only I could quit the beer and cookies. 

I got a knockoff Fitbit for Christmas, which is fun. I got over 11k steps yesterday, mostly doing chores and wrestling the Christmas tree into submission. When I hit 10k steps my little fitness watch started buzzing up a frenzy and flashing a little trophy. WINNER! (That’s the spike on Tuesday on the far right.) Today I went on a short walk after taking the kids to the bus stop and then cleaned the horse pen and already have 4,605 at 10am. WUTTUP.

My favorite part is the line graph on the days after Christmas, although it was by far my least favorite in real life. So Christmas was Monday, hence the no steps. The day after it, the looming cold finally hit me, and I sat around most of the day blowing my relentlessly productive nose (3,206 steps—surprisingly more than I’d expect for such a lazy sick day). That night, howeverrrrr, I got hit with the *stomach flu*, and spent the ENTIRE next day in bed. Literally. The 831 steps are apparently what it takes to get up and go to the bathroom and get water a few times.

Anyway, it’s kind of neat to track. Looking forward to wearing it on some hikes. 

It also has a *sedentary alert*, which, coincidentally, is going off right now, reminding me that I've been sitting too long and need to get my too-big-for-my-old-pants butt up and moving. 

Until next time (when I hope to have actual pony--and self--progress to report). 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Mountain Mama / Dirty Hermit

Revisiting and updating the ol' blog today, naturally as a mode of procrastination, when I should be working on some art. Sound familiar? Exactly like this post from 2012. And here we are in 2017. I have officially circled back to being a procrastinaty, pajama-wearing SAHM, aka Stay at Home Mom, otherwise known as  "saaaaaahhhhm".
I mean, what I tell people is that I'm a self-employed freelance professional legit artist and all that jazz, and I truly do have several projects I should be working on. I just have very little to show for it since moving.

Now my kids are in 2nd and 3rd grade. (How the bleep did that happen?) Since they both started being in school full-time I've been working, but now that we moved and I quit, I am "free".
Little did I know time flies when you're free. Like...the seven hours between the time I put them on the bus and the time I pick them up from the bus feels like two hours and I'm all whattheactualeffjusthappened.
The past couple weeks I've been unpacking and getting settled in the house, but now that is mostly done and I have no more excuses to put off working on artwork...except, oh wait, I need to spray paint this patio set and hang these solar-powered twinkle lights on the deck...and now I need to blog. My sister says so.
I've also been Instagramming the crap out of everything because everything up here is so IG-worthy:

My writing brain is broken, you know. All I have is this colloquial conversational text speak now. No artful articulate literature for you! I also fear that now that my kids are potty trained I am going to be desperately lacking in subject matter. "No poo stories??" you cry. Sadly not.

OH BUT WAIT! BUT WAIT! YOU'RE IN LUCK! It just so happens that today we are having the septic tank replaced at our new house. Apparently the old tank had a crack in it and failed inspection, but there wasn't time to replace it before closing so the sellers just cut us a check. Boo-yah. Anyway, we are between tanks--tankless, as it were--and aren't supposed to flush.
This morning, my 7-year-old girl had to go #2, right as we had to be leaving the house (OF COURSE), and she flushed.
I apologized to the tractor fella that one of us *might* have forgotten about the not flushing and he goes, "I noticed."

On a related note, we have horses again. From a mustang rescue though, so they are wild and we can't pet them yet and it's killing me. But they poop SO MUCH OMG SO MUCH POOP so maybe I can blog about that. Luckily horse poo isn't nearly as gross as kid poo, and far less gross than dog poo, so I don't mind having to pick up an entire wheel barrow full of it every other day.
The kids named them Professor Petunia and Lady Mike. They are both mares. The Professor might be pregnant. The Lady is a jerk to the Professor, but I don't totally blame her because Petunia eats all the treats. The end.

We live in the mountains now. Not the prairie, not the burbs. The actual mountains. We have views (unfortunately obscured at the moment because of all the horrific wildfires in the North and West). We have trees: mostly the piney variety but also a few aspens, which I love. We have tree houses (yes, plural). We have a mother-forking zip line. We have weird grey stripey mountain squirrels with pointy ears. We have mule deer. We have elk...poop, anyway...haven't seen the elk themselves yet. (See how I worked the poop in? Look what I do for you.)

The mountains feel more like home than the prairie or the city ever did.

Living in the mountains works well with my old saaaaaahhhhm wardrobe of athleisure-pajama-wear. I've pretty much quit wearing makeup (except Wunderbrow because you only have to do your eyebrows like once every three days, so, duh), and only wear sports bras and flip flops--in addition to a t-shirt and yoga pants, of course. Don't make this weird.
I miss wearing my cute clothes, and I miss seeing people more regularly, but...BUT...not really. I am quite the happy hermit to be honest. I love having company, but only if they don't care that I'm a dirty mountain pajama hermit.

I already acquired the necessary mountain home accessories: a hummingbird feeder, a wind chime, a hammock. My husband already acquired the "necessary" tractor--I mean, skid loader. My bad. He's going to use it to build his "necessary" shop, which I am actually in full support of so he can move all his tools and stuff out of my studio. YES, I have studio. It's attached to the barn. It has heat and electricity and windows and it's MINE. For now I will continue my tradition of using the dining room studio.

Which reminds me...I have 7 weeks to do 18 illustrations and then 2 months after that to do 4 more paintings before Christmas. Perhaps I've adequately procrastinated for today?

If I had to walk out to the barn/studio it would be much harder to be distracted by things. Just sayin'.

In conclusion, we are all spoiled brats now.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

How to Achieve Enlightenment at an Airport with Children

The kids and I recently went to New York to visit my sister and my nephew. We had a marvelous time and tortured all of facebook with our million pictures. We saw all the things. We did all the stuff. We spent all the money. We touristed and ate and played and it was glorious.

The story I’m going to tell now is not about the glories of a fun NY vacation, however. It’s about the glories of airport travel. It was an experience. It was an adventure. I am enlightened and transcendent. 

Leaving Denver on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in February, I naively anticipated a smooth flight. We dutifully got to the airport two hours early, like 8am-ish, and got through security and to our gate at 9am with over an hour to spare before boarding. My lovely children, almost 7 and 5-1/2 years old, were pleasant and cheerful and well-behaved as they drew pictures in their notebooks while we waited. 

Fast-forward five hours. Yes, five. I guess weather on the east coast was effing everything up. At 2pm we finally boarded. 6pm we finally landed (8pm EST, mind you). SO. Not only did I have to entertain two kids for *five* hours in the airport, but another 4 hours on the plane—because, of course, we had to chill on the runway for extra time, for funsies. SOOOO. 10 hour day for what should have been a 3 hour flight.

And no m-f-ing iPad.
We colored and drew pictures and read books. On actual paper, people. Like barbarians. 

And yeah, DUH we sat at a bar for a couple hours and got lunch. And drinks. At 10am. I tried the "Manmosa". And a beer. But the best part was that my kids were freaking delightful ANGELS and we made it to LaGuardia intact (and they gave me a Bailey's and coffee for free on the plane!).

The pickup area was another story. I struggled to hold on to both kids while dragging a 50-pound rolly bag with two car seats unsteadily stacked on top, though lane after lane of jumbled cars, taxis, and shuttles amid nonstop frenzied honking. We were all wide-eyed as I pressed my phone between my face and shoulder, attempting to talk to my sister about where the eff she was as I looked wildly about for her car, clutching the kids’ puffy coats as best I could and barking ferociously for them to pay attention and stay RIGHT BY ME. It was the very definition of chaos. 

Then of course every parent knows the joys of installing a car seat. Try installing two, in the dark, in a car that is too small, in the middle of that pandemonium…trying to keep kids out of traffic before getting in the car, bearing in mind that we were totally blocking one of the lanes. I hardly even hugged my sister and nephew when we found them, and when I finally sat in the passenger seat with all kids safely in the back (okay, somewhat safely—I may not have installed them to the highest safety standards), I was ready for a stiff drink. Or five.

A week and half later after our wonderful visit and tearful goodbyes, I was foolishly optimistic about the rainy weather and our ability to fly through it on time. 

We left her house around 2pm on a wet, windy Wednesday. At that point our flight had a fifteen minute delay. No big deal. Doing anything with my sister means we’re always running late anyway. Later on that fifteen minutes turned in to 2-1/2 hours. Hmm. Deep breath. Still no big deal. We are pros. We spent five hours at DIA we can spend a few at LGA. Soon it became 4 hours. Deep breath. It’s out of my control. Inner peace. We got some airport snacks. We sat on the floor around an outlet to charge my phone. We drew, we colored, we read books. My daughter sang “One Fish Two Fish” to the whole airport and leapt and twirled with abandon around countless strangers. We did yoga. I made my son do some homework. We read. We painted our nails. 

THEN it became a 5-hour delay. We took it in stride. Breathe in, breathe out. At that point we wouldn’t be getting to Denver until midnight. I kept it together. The kids kept it together. We went to get dinner at the one little restaurant in that terminal that had tables. It was standing room only, but a nice man at one little table took pity on us and gave up his spot. I ordered a $12 German beer and did not regret it. When we finished up and were getting ready to give someone else our table, I found out it was delayed even more, but it was too late to sit back down, heartbreakingly. 

So we walked up and down the terminal some more and sat in all the places. The kids charmed everyone they met with their adorable antics and excellent behavior. They glommed onto a nice gal from Wisconsin who let them play on her computer with her for a while. My girl asked about seeing her way after that. They had bonded. Her name was Maggie.

You know my blog wouldn’t be complete without a poop story so here it is: the boy had a tummy ache. I took him to the bathroom like three times but he couldn’t do it without privacy. At home, he takes all his clothes off and spends like thirty minutes alone in there to do his business; that’s not really an option at a crowded airport. I pleaded with him to go potty before we got on the plane, but to no avail.

Sometime between 11pm and 12am EST, after three gate changes and a plane change or two, we were finally boarded. The parked plane was rocking in the wind. There was lightning. Sideways rain. Apparently wind shear was an issue. Once seated, my little guy was moaning about his tummy. The flight attendant told us once we took off he absolutely couldn’t go to the bathroom because it would be a very bumpy flight. After going back and forth a few minutes, he caved and trotted back to the teeny tiny airplane lavatory and immediately DESTROYED IT. 

Luckily for everyone aboard, after thirty minutes of taxiing around, LaGuardia grounded all flights and we went back to the gate. #brightside 

It was probably almost 1am when I called and woke up my sister to see how she felt about coming to get us. She said she would but was less than enthusiastic about waking up her son and driving an hour in the storm and trying to figure out how to get us back there the next day with work and school to deal with, and the more I thought about it, I was less than enthusiastic about waiting an hour only to go through the all that pickup/car seat chaos again. I just wanted to be done. As soon as f-ing possible.

The airline didn’t offer any hotel accommodations or discounts, so when I approached an airport employee asking about our options, he told me in very broken English to hurry to the third floor if we wanted to get a “couch” before they were all taken. 

At that point I was floating around on autopilot, dragging my bewildered, sleepy children all over the world, and just did what the man said. Let’s just check it out, I told myself. So up we went. 

It was an enormous room, as big as one end of the terminal. It was empty except for the hundreds of camping cots lining the walls. We arrived looking lost and were hastily directed to one of the few spots left with three cots together. I nodded blankly and followed. 

“Isn’t this awesome, kids? It’s a CAMP OUT!” I said. 

It looked like a refugee camp. Bedraggled masses with their luggage. Many people were already snoring, blankets over their heads. Lots of them were reading or looking at their phones. It was brightly lit with intense fluorescent light, which was not dimmed in the slightest at any time. 

Nonetheless, my zombie self spread out the giant paper towel sheets on the cots, put on the paper towel pillowcases, and covered the kids with blue fleece airport blankets. After a few minutes of very excited whispering, my daughter was out almost instantly. My son read Dr. Suess quietly to himself like one of the grownups and then fell asleep around 2am. They slept soundly through the night (if you can even call it night, seeing as they kicked us out by 7:30am). I still don’t know HOW they did it. 

SO. There was the bright fluorescent lighting to contend with. There were whispers and murmurs and giggles. There was the myriad of strangers snoring at a wide variety of pitches and tempos. There was the incessant, frantic honking from traffic outside—also with diverse pitches and tempos—yes, even at 3am. There was the crinkly paper bedding. There was the creaky folding cot that tipped forward if you put too much weight on one end and then came crashing loudly to the cold, hard floor with a metallic clang. There was the airport loudspeaker announcement every 20 minutes: “ATTENTION! Do not leave your luggage unattended…!” I’m surprised I don’t have it all memorized, actually. There was the very nice security guard strolling back and forth with his very squeaky shoes and his loud, startling walkie talkie. Then of course there was the gang of construction workers working on this heavy duty security garage-style door with their FREAKING POWER TOOLS.

But I wasn’t really there. I had transcended the situation. OR maybe I had just gone crazy. But I was laughing as I pulled my beanie over my eyes to “sleep”. It was surreal. One of those “if you didn’t laugh you’d cry” scenarios. 

The earliest flight to Denver on Thursday wasn’t until noon. Like a monk after meditating in a cave for thirty years, I took it all in stride. Or like a brainless zombie. Whatevs. Not only that but it was a flight to HOUSTON…ultimately getting us back to Denver at 7pm. As I see it, we were up at 7am EST, which is 5am MST, so by the time we landed we’d been at it for 14 hours. But on the first flight I got another free drink (a Leinenkugel's cranberry ginger shandy), then we got tasty cheeseburgers and quesadillas at the Houston airport, and I tried a tasty alcoholic beverage with mint and lemon and strawberry, so there’s that.

Shout out to my freaking amazing kids though. I really don’t know how they did so well. They were troopers. I think they actually had lots of fun living the airport for three days. Minimal whining and/or fighting—only adorable awesomeness. They discovered adventure and endurance, and learned how to entertain themselves for days with just two stuffed animals, a drawing pad, and some books; I discovered serenity and fortitude through surrendering to my own powerlessness and rolling with the punches.

What I’ve learned (beyond inner peace and unearthly patience, of course): Never. Travel. 


Never ever ever again.

And maybe, if I do, to pack more snacks. And an iPad.

And that people can be super nice at an airport. Especially if you look desperate and have two kids.

And the boy needs to learn how to poop in public.

So the moral of the story (beyond never travel ever ever ever) is this: to achieve enlightenment in an airport with children, you need the following: lots of booze, sleepless bewildered delirium, and perfect children.


Sunday, July 26, 2015


Well several major life changes are about to happen. The biggest changes we’ve had since buying our first house and having kids. Even bigger than having someone else's baby (in terms of our lives, that is)...

--Starting late August, my kids will both be in school full-time. Kindergarten and 1st grade, baby.

--I will be working full-time. For the first time in five years. At a job I’m actually very excited about.

--We will be moving. After almost seven years in this house, we are leaving our first family home.

I am such a crazy mixture of excitement, sadness, and fear. So much sweet and so much bitter I can’t even comprehend it. 

All these crazy years I’ve been staying home with my babies as they grew into walking, talking humans—whether I was working part-time or home full-time, I’ve been dreaming of the illusory freedom of some distant fantasy future. I didn’t think it would ever come. I missed adult interaction. I was tired of cleaning poo. I wished I had a reason to put on pants more often. Real pants. And maybe some cute shoes. I wanted to feel like I was doing something more important than being “just a housewife”. I often felt like my brain was draining away. I often felt trapped.

Of course I mostly loved being able to be home with them. It's definitely love-hate. I am so thankful I was able to be with them during their littleness. I love them more than anything. And I would never trade my time with them for any career, ever. As my older blog posts have demonstrated, it just made me batshit crazy at times. And lonely. And depressed. And into the most antisocial hermit ever.  But I recognize that there is nothing more important that I could have done with these years. Nothing. 

My son was born a month after we moved into this house. I was able to stay home with him for six months, after which I worked at a childcare center so I could still be with him all the time. When my daughter was born a year later, I took to waiting tables nights and weekends so I could be with them during the day. I also taught art classes at a couple places, part-time, and have the occasional commissioned painting. HowEVER, my new job will be my first experience being away from my babies, "full-time".

I am both heartbroken and elated.

Which is also how I feel about moving. Leaving this house. Our first home. The “needs work” HUD home with purple carpet that we were able to buy with first-time homebuyer incentives when I was 8 months pregnant. The house we tried selling twice before but weren't ready. The house on two dry acres of middle-of-nowhere prairie where the kids drove their little electric cars and we kept my in-law's horses. The house where my sister and I rolled out a tiny patch of sod so the kids could have a lawn. The house where they played in the mud as toddlers. The house where they grew from newborns into kids that read and write. The house where my husband finally built us a magnificent new deck. The house I’ve lived at longer than any one place in my whole life. The house where we’ve worked and cleaned and painted and mowed. The house where we screamed and yelled and laughed and cried and played as a family. Our home.

I hate how far we are from things and how some nearby dogs never stop barking, but I will really miss it here. I always thought I would be happy to move, but now that it’s a reality, I am torn. I had a completely unexpected nasty snotty sobbing breakdown a few days ago when we first listed the house for sale, and I’m still pretty sad about the whole thing, but I think I’m coming around.

I think I’m ready for new things. I've been looking forward to this for years in many ways. But I am scared of change. I’m scared of what we’re losing. I’m scared I will miss the kids. I’m scared I won’t be able to function in a real person job, using my long-dormant brain and social skills. I’m scared I won’t like our new house. I’m scared I will miss my sports bras and sweat pants. I'm scared of how much work packing will be. And I’m scared we’re making the wrong choice.

But the more I think about it, everything has fallen into place in such a way that it must be the right choice. Maybe I’m just telling myself that, but there are a few things that make me think so:

--My husband got a great new position at work that he’s very happy about, but he will need to commute more often. He already drives over an hour each way, but now it will be 5 days a week instead of 4 out of every 8 days. That alone is a good reason to move closer.
--I got an awesome job managing a new paint and sip studio in almost the same part of town where he works. I don’t want to spend 2-3 hours in the car every day. It really makes no sense for both of us to commute that far.
--The couple buying our house loves it. They have a baby boy of their own. They have horses. We listed our house for sale on the *same day* they got out of a problematic contract with another house. I’m told that the wife said something to the effect of “Everything happens for a reason…this is the one". This makes me feel good. I feel better about giving up our house to them, even though I’ve never met them. Almost like it's meant to be.
--They are willing to let us stay here for up to two months *after* closing, allowing us more time to find a new place. This is huge because we would have had to crash in a friend’s basement or our parents’ house if we closed on this house but had nowhere to go—with two kids, three dogs, and two cats, it would have been quite the hassle.
--Our house sold in four days. Four. Days. Over full price offer. Even a little bidding war.
--There is a little more inventory on the market now for us to buy. Although the options are still limited, it’s not so dire. And now we can take a little more time in finding one. Maybe we’ll find a place where we walk in and can say with confidence “This is the one”. Fingers crossed.

SO... On with being terrified and thrilled and happy and sad all at once.

This is a for real whole new chapter in our lives. My stay-home mommy time on the prairie is over. Sadly. But my art business boss in the city time is coming, which is super awesome. (Although we can’t totally commit to living in the city, so we’re looking in the mountains thirty minutes from the city.) So I guess my art business boss in the city-slash-mountains? Whatever. It’s exciting.

BUT CHANGE IS SO HARD. So much anxiety. So much. Both good and bad anxiousness. Letting go of the familiar is hard. Leaving your comfort zone is hard. I am mourning and rejoicing. It’s weird. So this is my new mantra:

Now begins the Great Purging of seven years' hoarding. Wish me luck.

New Year New Me: Pony Progress

Today I thought I’d mix up my morning “internesting” ritual (coffee and computer time, usually comfortably nested on the couch); I brought ...