Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pieces of Me

I met my dad and sister at the gallery yesterday to share my art with them.  When I walked in, the gallery owner sat casually in shorts and bare feet, painting at a table just under my paintings.

"Oh, I'm glad you're here." he said, "A couple was here earlier and they are interested in buying your whole set."

"Ha... wouldn't that be nice." I said, going along with the joke.

"No, seriously.  They want to buy all of your paintings."

If you had told me a week ago that it was possible for me to sell even five or six, I would have been over the moon.  I frankly didn't have my heart set on even selling one.  Now this!  All of them?

You would think that my first reaction would be one of utter delight, but I felt a sinking disappointment swallow my heart.  Those are my babies, figuratively and literally.  I had imagined bringing home those paintings and grouping the ones of my five children together, and mooning over them from time to time the way mamas do.  The notion of loosing all of the paintings at once... the shoes, the children, the road to my mother's grave..., it is all very complex.

You see, when some wants to bring home a painting I have made, it's like they are saying, "You and I understand this thing, together.  We are connected somehow by it.  By wanting this painting, I understand the part of your heart that made it come into being."  The thing is, that the paintings in that gallery were born out of many places in my heart.  By wanting them all, it is like these strangers are saying they know all of the parts of my heart that these paintings came from.  They want to take home pieces of me. 

Or worse, that they don't, and I am sending my babies off to be orphans, unloved and misunderstood by a glutton!  I mean, how is it possible that someone could want ALL of them?  What if they sit in a closet somewhere?  Or a box?  What if their new family doesn't feed them or take care of them?

Okay, now it just got weird.  Sigh.

So, lessons I have learned so far:

Paint from the heart, but don't give your heart away.

Never make a threat you don't intend to follow through with,
 and never put a painting up for sale that you know you can't part with.

More landscapes (because who doesn't like a landscape? 
Plus, they take like, one tenth the time to paint).

Don't take 11 children to a gallery, it freaks people out. 
(this one can be applied to many settings)

I guess I have also learned that if it hadn't been for this show, those paintings wouldn't exist at all.  And since they came from my heart, they can never leave it.  If I really love the images that I created, there is nothing to stop me from painting some of those images again, just for me.

The folks who want the paintings also wanted a discount for buying all of them.  That had to be approved of before the sale could be made.  In the mean time, the gallery assistant lost the phone number for the couple.  It is entirely possible that they will change their minds in the time that it takes to get the whole thing sorted out.

I kind of hope they do, but I will have to be okay with it if they don't.  Who would have thought that I would be disappointed to sell my art?

Four of my masterpieces, and 6 of my sister's.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My heart pounded as we drove to the gallery. I was nervous about the whole thing; talking to strangers about my art, looking (or not) "like an artist", even where my art would be hung.  I was probably hung in the hall, I’d told myself as though I were litterally being hung there instead of my paintings.  It was a long, narrow hallway, darkly painted and dimly lit.  I was just happy to have my work up in any gallery, and I knew that if I could be happy having my work hung in that dark little hallway, I could have a good night.  

As I walked into the gallery, I immediately saw something familiar.  My paintings, those little bits of my life I had slaved, even cried over, were hung in the main gallery, right beside the paintings of the gallery owner.  There they all were in tidy little rows,  21 of my 8-by-8 inch acrylic babies.  They looked so beautiful up there.  Far more impressive than they had spread out on the floor of the studio, my children and the dog hop-scotching between them and the toys spread around the room.  Here, they looked almost (dare I say it?), professional.
I toured around the gallery looking at the other artists work, then snuggled up in my corner next to my little paintings.  I’d been told by the owner I should try to sell my work; talk to folks about it, about my process and my inspiration.  But I was so out of my element.  I’m just a little mama.  I’ll talk about runny noses and poopie little bottoms with just about anyone who holds still in a grocery store line, but I don’t talk much about art.  

I suddenly felt like a cipher, a bit of an outcast amongst my peers who so easily chattered with the smiling, wine-toting gallery-goers.  But soon I noticed that the people who lingered longest at my paintings were the women.  I found it easy to walk up to them and, smiling, say “Thank you for looking at my paintings.  Those are my children.”  Because, although several of the paintings were of landscapes and still-lifes, the rest were of my rugrats.  We would begin to talk about children and motherhood.  It was the thing that connected of us.  Perhaps these women couldn’t paint, but they knew all too well what it feels like when a chubby baby rests a droopy head on your shoulder.  Before long, we were doing what women do best; sharing our stories of the joys and tears of motherhood.
My favorite moment of the night sort of sneeked up on me. Guy had come with the children, and after they browsed the gallery I found myself surrounded suddenly by these five human beings my body had created. There I stood, Jonah in my arms, and Ethan surprisingly close, his eyes level with mine.   Adam stood just behind me with a hand on my shoulder. The girls, in their pretty skirts leaned against my belly touching me on my arms. They all seemed a little lost, and I felt like a watchful hen with her chicks gathered close. I was their safe place in this unfamiliar terrain. I got a sort of thrill out of it all, them snuggled up close to me.  Glancing up from their clean, lovely faces I noticed a woman watching us and smiling. Our eyes met and she did not look away.  She seemed to be enjoying the moment as much as I was, and I smiled back at her. 
I didn’t sell any paintings that night, but I didn’t particularly care. That had never been my point. I wanted to paint. I wanted to paint what I love to paint, without the constraints of dreary commissions. I wanted to be pushed, and oh! was I pushed. But I did what I had doubted I could do, though sweet Guy said he always knew I could.

I think I would almost be sad to let go of any one of them.

Smiling lady, bottom right corner. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Protecting the Memory

 Anyone who knows me 
 knows that I love motherhood.  I love it from the moment that lucky little sperm chances upon that hopeful egg.  No, before that, even.  When I was a girl I knew two things, I wanted to be an artist, and I wanted to be a mom.  In high school it didn't take me long to decided that the notion of being a musician would conflict with my maternal instincts, because nobody wants to go to a musical at 10AM.  Theater performances are generally smack-dab in the middle of the story and the bed-time shuffle.  So Fine Art it would be, but always knowing that "art" would be in the backseat once kids came along.  The stinky, noisy, Cheerio filled backseat.

I have been pregnant nine times.  If I took all the months of "trying" and plunked them end-to-end, it would come to to about 30 months of temperature taking, cervical-mucus-checking and scheduled romance.  Now, I'm certainly not complaining.  I know 30 months ain't so long in the grand scheme of the fertility-challenged.  I'm just saying, it takes more than holding hands in this house to put a bun in this oven.

And while we are doing math, I want to just tally up a few other digits for you.  86 hours of labor.  No joke.  And that is if you DON'T include July through mid August of 2010, when I was contracting 100 times a day.  I laugh now when I think of how we worried that Jonah pop out early.  WHATEVER.  Oh, and we are currently at 12 years, two months total on the breastfeeding gig... and counting.  I figure "the girls" are good to go another 9 months before their illustrious retirement.  Then it will be time to invest in a very small but very supportive bra, and to only change my clothes in the dark.

But honestly, those numbers only say one thing about me;  I wanted to be a mother so much, that I was, and am, willing to try as hard as I can to do the best that I can.  If breastfeeding were all it took to do a good job, any Jersey cow could do it.  I want so badly to raise emotionally healthy and spiritually strong young men and women.  And it is so hard, and sometimes I really botch things up so entirely that I may as well just start a savings for my kid's future therapy bills.  But every night I go to bed resolving to be better the next day, and (almost) every day I try my best to do it.
In my work with laboring mamas I have a unique charge: I am there to protect her memories.  In many ways, besides all of the other milliondy-billion things that I (and you, and we all...) do as mothers, it is the one thing that helps me to decide how to handle life's little moments with my children.  Because, you see, I don't get to choose which memories they hold onto forever.  I don't really think that they even do.  Sure I remember some of the great stuff from my childhood, but some of my childhood memories are so random, so not-memorable memories.  Sadly, though, some are there for reasons they shouldn't be.  Some are there because I felt afraid or embarrassed or humiliated, and some times that couldn't have been avoided, but other times it definitely could have.

Maybe the day I loose my temper while de-tangling the hair of a screaming six year old will end up being the day that is emblazoned in her grey matter (I swear that child sleeps in maple syrup).

I hope it is not.

I hope it is today, after gymnastics when we had yogurt.  Or maybe last week when I braided her hair as she laid her head in my lap in church.  Or story time.  Or when I give her pink sprinkles to dip her banana in.  Yeah, one of those.  Anything but the hair.

Oh, and about that hair.  I apologized. 

If she keeps a memory about that day, I hope that is the memory she keeps.

Mother's Day Memories I will keep:

 Stuffed Chicken Breasts with feta, bacon,spinach and caramelized onion,
mashed savory sweet potatoes with apples, and yummy chocolate cream pie
(and two boys getting along).

 Spinach salad with mango and sesame chips and raspberry vinaigrette.

My sweeties.

Um, yeah, that would be Ethan.  Jumping on the trampoline.  In a sleeping bag.

And the rarest sight of all.  
A smile.

Monday, May 14, 2012

To all the Mothers in my life

Flowers from the sweet man who made me a mother.

What a sweet day it has been.
 And what a lovely week.  There will be so much to share in the next few days about Mother's Day (hubby out did himself again with breakfast AND dinner, scrumptious photos to come...)
 and... (insert trumperts here) ...

The Gallery Exhibit!

It was amazing, nerve-racking and fun. Francine came, and made it all so special.

But until I can fill in the details, I just wanted to share a sweet Mother's Day message by  Dieter F. Uchdorf (read the whole talk here).  

Happy Mother's Day to my dear friends and sisters, and to my sweet Auntie June.

I hope you had a special day.  God bless.

Forget Me Not

"Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.

In the meantime, be thankful for all the small successes in your home, your family relationships, your education and livelihood, your Church participation and personal improvement. Like the forget-me-nots, these successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him. If you consider success to be only the most perfect rose or dazzling orchid, you may miss some of life’s sweetest experiences."

"As a child, when I would look at the little forget-me-nots, I sometimes felt a little like that flower—small and insignificant. I wondered if I would be forgotten by my family or by my Heavenly Father.

Years later I can look back on that young boy with tenderness and compassion. And I do know now—I was never forgotten.

And I know something else: as an Apostle of our Master, Jesus Christ, I proclaim with all the certainty and conviction of my heart—neither are you!

You are not forgotten.

Sisters, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.

Just think of it: You are known and remembered by the most majestic, powerful, and glorious Being in the universe! You are loved by the King of infinite space and everlasting time!

He who created and knows the stars knows you and your name—you are the daughters of His kingdom. The Psalmist wrote:

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? …

“For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.”5

God loves you because you are His child. He loves you even though at times you may feel lonely or make mistakes.

My dear... sisters, you are closer to heaven than you suppose. You are destined for more than you can possibly imagine."

"Sisters, there is something inspiring and sublime about the little forget-me-not flower. I hope it will be a symbol of the little things that make your lives joyful and sweet. Please never forget that you must be patient and compassionate with yourselves... And never forget that your Heavenly Father knows, loves, and cherishes you."

Gorgeous Iris from Francine's garden... 
she brought a hug full of glorious stalks of white, pink and violet, 
and they are so amazing I think I can hear them singing!  
(Yes, like in cartoons.  Don't flowers sing to you?)

Everyone should have a Francine.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tonight's the Night!!!


Tonight is my opening at the 20/20 Show at the Kennedy Art Gallery in Downtown Sacramento!!! 

(20/20 means 20 paintings by each artist, on 20th Street)

If you live within 400 miles, you are most welcome to come!  They will serve tiny cubes of cheese and those long cookie tubey-thingys filled with chocolate, 
and probably some grapes.

Tonight 6-8PM
Saturday the 12th 6-8PM 
(go here to see the other artists who will be featured!)

1114 20th St, Sacramento CA 95811 
(get in your car and go here to see the 
art live and up close.  Mine won't bite.)

Oh, please come!!!

(This is my entry piece that got me into the show, a painting of Ellie girl)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tea Time

My little Tessa-loo turned six  last month, but let's just say that last month was a complete loss.  I will be behind on my laundry till July, no question.  I may as well wash it all and shove it into bags for the donation truck, because by the time I get it all done the kids will have outgrown the lot.

 Anyhoo, Tessa was promised a party, and since my middle name is Better-late-than-never, we Belated the heck outta her party.  Hubby was a real man, and didn't mind shopping for pink streamers and tulip muffin cups.  We had three hours to prepare, and somehow we pulled off a killer tea party.  The Queen herself couldn't have ordered up a swankier affair!

 Most of the guests had arrived, but bestie Sophie was no where to be seen.  
I found Tessa keeping watch...

 sure that she couldn't have fun without her best friend.

But she somehow managed.  We played Toss Across and 
Pin the Horn on the Unicorn. 

And we made fabulous hats, dahhh-ling!

After some etiquette lessons all of the little ladies and gentlemen
sat more politely than 10 children ever before them.

I loved each of their gorgeous creations.
Lauren, Tessa, Shophie (she made it!), Kaylie and Ellie

 And, I have to say, in all false humility, I have put a fab new spin on a pinata.  Single balloons filled with confetti and a few toys and candies.  Each child chose one to pop with a pin.  Each time was a surprise, and we avoided the crotch-seeking sticks and the concussion-causing dog-piles of children diving in at once to retrieve prizes.  The balloons didn't always pop on the first try, so when one eventually did, it was followed by squeals of surprise and a shower of confetti.
(Instructions below)

 Such a pretty girl, and getting so big.  Sigh.

I do believe we fancied ourselves till we were quite fancied out.
It was a ball.  
Fun had by all.

Especially Tess, and that's what matters most.

Sooo, if you found this from a link on Pinterest, first, THANK YOU for dropping by!  Second, don't be mad at me if you struggle to get this to work.  I made my boys do the grunt work, and while they said it was hard, I didn't believe them because they say that about EVERYTHING!  Now that I have heard a few complaints on Pinterest, Anyway, here goes!!!

Find the stretchiest balloons you can.  Nice big ones with long necks, not the cheap water balloon type.  The good ones are a little thicker feeling and can blow up incredibly large.

The confetti goes in most easily if you use a funnel.  In fact, a funnel with a bigger spout can be great for candies like Tootsie Rolls (mini's) and rolls of Smarties.  I think we also put in individually wrapped candies like the Brach's assorted ones you can buy in bulk bins.

For toys, we chose things like little plastic snakes and cheap necklaces.  I think we also found those itty bitty cars to shove in.  If it doesn't fit through the funnel, it was a matter of  having one person put two thumbs into the opening of the balloon, pulling hard out to the sides, and then having another person shove the toy or candy through the opening.  Trust me when I say each kid got just a few of each things.

And for those of you who think I am a dreadful mother for allowing my children to wield strait pins in the air all willy-nilly, all I can say is, make sure you find a balloon large enough to put your kid in.  They are gonna need a bubble to live in, just don't get too close with that helicopter!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Putting it all together

First sentence:
"No! Sit mama!!!!"

To daddy, when he said "Come sit by daddy."

Sometimes being the center of someone's universe

is, well, 

just plain

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I finally took a breath.

I have been painting for 10-14 hours a day for the past 5 days.
Yesterday, I started painting at 11AM and stopped 18 and a half hours later, only to nap at dawn for 2 1/2 hours and then start all over again for 9 solid hours.

But tonight,
with only enough time to deliver the 25 paintings to the gallery 
5 minutes before they closed,  
I painted the last stroke.

I will sleep now, but I have to give you a preview of coming attractions.  
Then I am going to collapse, thank you.

My favorite? 
 I think Jonah's little shoes.

It was hard to leave them, two boxes of my babies.  Can't wait for the show!

Milliondy-billion thanks to 
Kathy, Bishop, Steph, Adam and Tyler
And of course my sweet 
for dozens of hours of help building, sanding and painting frames.

Stay tuned for details so that you can come see the exhibit.

and now...