Happy Friday y’all!

Last night I got to go to my first meeting with a critique group for SCBWI. I just joined in April. The irony that I had to GET a full time job in order to finally pursue my dreams is not lost on me. It is pretty funny actually. But when you freelance, you take any job that pays that comes along. And that unfortunately means that the things you WANT to do, not NEED to do get put on the back burner. Now that I don’t stress all day long about money and actually have some in the bank and know that more is on the way, I can work on my own art. And as crazy as it is, I have been doing just that. I have two agents interested in one of my children’s picture books. Sure, they might see it and reject it, but still they asked to see it. By the way, I have to say, the sting of rejection gets less and less. And actually I got such a nice rejection a little while back that I think they get NICER too. The critique group seemed to like my work a lot and that was very encouraging. I am still waiting on one agent and mailing out a packet today to another. Today I am meeting with a lawyer about a contract for something that I can’t mention yet, but if we can manage to work out all the legalities will keep me VERY busy for a while. But it will be so much fun so I cannot wait to get at it.

For the first time in such a long time I feel like I am actually living my life instead of playing the “if only” game. You know, the one that goes, “If only I could have some free time to do my own art I’d be happy.” “If only I could find an agent, I’d be happy.” “If only I could be published, I’d be happy.”*** And so on and so on. I am enjoying the process. I am happy right NOW. Rejections or not. I am even enjoying the time lag that it takes in this business. Nothing, NOTHING happens fast in publishing or manufacturing. Honestly, I admit it is easier because I don’t have to worry about money anymore. I am the first to admit that I am shocked at how happy having this job makes me. I know I’ve said this before, but if you had told me that I would happy, happy, HAPPY to go to work at an office everyday for 8 hours, I would have thought you had drank the Kool Aid. I had this idea in my head that a full time job meant failure. It meant I had given up, that I had not ‘made it” and that my dreams were over. Funny how the exact opposite has happened. I love that my nights and weekends are mine to focus on my work or to do nothing at all. My dreams are more alive and more in progress than ever before. And that is pretty sweet.

Again, I have said this all before I am sure, so I will stop now, but I am still in awe of how when we let go of trying to control HOW it happens, and let it just be, things work out somehow. Trusting and believing is a powerful thing, even if it is so very hard to do. Ok, enough! Besides, I need to show you my Friday picture! With flip flops!! I am looking forward to an evening of sitting out on the deck with the dogs enjoying the amazing Georgia weather with Best Boyfriend Ever and maybe a dirty martini to sip on. Too lovely to be inside for sure!

***This awesome wisdom was first said by Nathan.

So much good stuff

I am working on formatting an incredibly fascinating commencement program. What says FUN more than tabbing 800-plus names in a program? Not much, says I! (Perhaps maragritas on a patio with some nice toasty chips and a zesty salsa and side of queso, but tabbing names is a VERY close second people. You need to trust me on this.) The life of a graphic designer is glamorous and exotic – and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are LIAR-HEADS.

Last night was so much fun. The Braves KILLED the Nationals, so it was not exactly a nail-biter, but there was some coolio plays and at least the game was a blowout in our favor. And besides, with seats like ours, there was no way it could be bad. Cause we were SO CLOSE to cute baseball player butts! For the record, baseball players are THE sexiest athletes. So. Yummy! (They are by no menas in the same league as my boyfriend, Jon Bon Jovi, but still, they get major YUM points!) So, how close were these cute boys’ butts? THIS CLOSE:

Now, I had no time yesterday as I ended up having a 3 HOUR MEETING in which I think I died and came back to life just in time to realize I have a whole lot of work ahead of me and NO TIME for blogging. (Again, a designer’s life is something to be jealous of, for sure.) So I need to show you scenes from the weekend. See, Best Boyfriend Ever and I have this awesome deck and backyard. And now that it is warm, we spend every second possible on the back deck and life is AWESOME. So Friday night we had a houseful of kids, my best friend, a pack of dogs, and we chilled on the deck with some wine for me and my friend and beer and cigars for the man. We started out in the daylight and hung until it got dark and the pizza man had come and gone. The kids were in and out all night long and so were the dogs. If life can get any better than mine, I would just feel like I was way too spoiled. (Oh, and it should be noted that while I crush on sexy ballplayers and Jon BonJovi, Best Boyfriend Ever is the keeper. He is for sure the real deal and I don’t plan on letting him go. EVER. He is perfect and MINE. And his YUM factor is through the roof. Not to mention he lets me crush on sexy ballplayers and secretly date major rock stars. Cause he’s cool like that.)

So anyway here are some scenes from the Friday:

GLADIATOR STICK BATTLE!! I found this giant stick and got the dogs to battle it out in an epic gladiator battle! The stick was huge, the dogs battled mightily. But alas, in the end, there could only be one true victor of the BIG STICK.

Luckily, no grudges were held by the other contestants.

Much fun was had by dogs, kids, and adults alike. Even despite the now infamous phone in the Sprite scenario, which had wide-reaching ramifications in other parts of my life that I won’t get into. So, did the giggling child get into much trouble? Did he get grounded? Does he have to pay for the phone? Well, said child actually felt terrible, awful, horrible about it. And he offered to pay for the new phone himself. How cute! I suppose with monopoly money or Wii points? But still – he OFFERED. That, plus when you see scenes this cute, how can you not tell terrible feeling kid that it’s ok? Does it get any cuter?!?!

Ok, you can all say it with me now, “AWWWWWW…” and see? Sucker Mom…..

Awesome weekend

Had an awesome child-filled weekend. Lots of sleep over guests, lots of noise, many pizzas, a cake and some cupcakes, and one cell phone that landed in a glass of Sprite much to the delight of the many 9-11 year olds. I think they giggled for a WHILE before they fished it out and I heard, “Quick! Dry it off! Fast! Don’t tell mom!”

Um, yeah, Mom has a cool new phone now. One that takes pictures! “Hello 2008, Michelle is here to join you!” That was Friday night.

Then on Saturday, Best Boyfriend Ever and I took Sophie and her sweetie friend to the Egyptian exhibit at Emory to look at the mummies! Sophie is SO into archeaology and getting to see real live mummies, wait, real DEAD mummies was the coolest! They got some books and some scarabs to wear. Too fun. I am about to leave for a Braves game and we have second row behind the first base dugout! Woohoo!! Look for me on tv!

Here are a few pics of the girls. They look like they could be sisters! How cute are they???

flip flops and minis

Hey y’all! It’s Friday! So you know what that means? Time for some Friday LOVE! I am wearing flip flops today!! At work! With little palm trees on them!! How much does my work rock? Yeah, THAT much. And I get here a good 40 minutes before anyone esle so i can take pictures like THIS:

(Yes, I know how weird I am, my older sister pointed that out after reading my last post. I still say she is just jealous of my rocker love.)

And my night is going to be even MORE fun! I get to paint tonite!! Woohoo! I am working on 5 mini pet portrait commissions right now. I just realized that I changed the homepage of my site to show my book and never put my minis back anywhere. With the economy SUCKING and gas prices RIDICULOUS and have you SEEN the price of milk and chicken? Thank god my kids like cheap processed food!(kidding!) Let’s just say the ol’ pet portrait market is suffering. I mean, I have to understand that food and gas must be bought before lil’ Fido and Fifi can be immortalized forever in a super dupery cute painting style.

But. BUT! My mini paintings are only $25 each. That’s right folks! For just the price of a gallon of milk or one third a tank of gas, you too can have a pet portrait! Complete with easel and everything! And when I am rich and famous just THINK how much it will be worth! $25 today could send your kid to college in a few short years! it could buy you that beach house you have always been wanting. It could send you on the year long trip around the world! What? Did you just snicker?? Hey! I see you rolling your eyes! What was that??? Oh, yes I HAVE taken my meds today! Fine, I am just trying to help you make an investment in your future. When you see my name on the New York Times bestseller list and you are smacking your head like you forgot to drink your vegetable juice, don’t say I didn’t try to help you out. For reals. Just take a look. Cuteness abounds. Your kid’s future could depend on it. So if you really love your kids or want to ensure your retirement, you should contact me (michelle@abeytacreative.com) for more info. I’m really just looking out for YOU. Just sayin’…

T-Minus 15 days….

As if PARIS isn’t enough, in just 15 days my boyfriend is coming to visit me!!!! Woohoo!! And get this, he rented out the entire Phillips Arena in downtown Atlanta and invited thousands of people just to come see him sing to me! That’s right folks, my Jon Jon is coming to serenade me. And I have been practicing in the car non-stop to make sure I can sing right along with him as he croons his sweet songs into my ears. That crazy guy, he wants to keep us on the down low so he formulated this crazy scheme of having a wife and kids to keep everyone from knowing. And just to keep up the charade, I got myself a Best Boyfriend Ever, some kids, a pack of dogs and a fish. Ya know, just so it LOOKS like we have these other lives. But really? He loves ME. Just listen to his lyrics some time, “I want to lay you down in a bed of roses,” “I’ve got nothing to prove for it’s you I’d die to defend” “Is there anybody out there looking for a party!?” Clearly, he is writing just to me. The whole touring thing? Yup, all those other dates are just to get to me. This is what is REALLY going on in his head when he is on stage… Yuh, huh!

Good times, good times.

Don’t know why I bother planning anything. Nothing ever turns out like you think. Yesterday was still awesome, but far more hectic than I had anticipated. Mostly my day was working from the computer while trying to juggle straightening the house before The Soph’s tutor came (check), getting the kids to do their chores (check), getting files to the printer in time (check), getting that freelance project finished up before we leave today (not a check, but today, for SURE). Yesterday I needed files on my home computer and on my work laptop. Since my work laptop got stolen (and government jobs take FOREVER to replace things, like say, the TOOL you use EVERY DAY. Ahem. No, I am not complaining, it is totally reasonable to take 4 MONTHS to replace an object. Damn paperwork. Do you really wonder why we are still in that damn war? OIL? Hell no, we just can’t get the paperwork through. I bet the order to pull out the troops was 2 years ago but the paper work is still stuck on some IT guys desk under his some stack of papers he has forgotten about because he is so busy calling all the goverment employees back every day to tell them what their forgotten password is. AGAIN. But I digress.) I am using an old one we had but one that has a cracked screen. When I am at work we get to hook up to a nice huge 20″ screen, so it is no big deal. At home? Kinda a big deal. There is a huge black streak running across it. A bit hard to design on, but me? I’m a trooper. So I took it into my office and worked on both all day long. But I would look at one screen and type on another. Or use the mouse of one and think it was not working when nothing happened on the other screen. Yeah. I’m not the sharpest tack in the box, let’s just say. (You do NOT want me to be the IT guy, the war would NEVER end.) So I drove myself slowly insane as the day wore on and when 5pm came, I was DONE. I have a printer coming by the house to drop off proofs for a magazine today and I am praying whole heartedly to the printing gods that everything looks good and it is set to get on press Tuesday. PLEASE Printing Gods, I sacrifice this cyan toner cartridge on your behalf.

Here is what my day pretty much looked like yesterday:

So yesterday had no time for pics. Best Boyfriend Ever surprised us and came home early to cut the lawn. YAY! It looks so nice and the cut grass smell put me in an extra happy mood for the rest of the day. I played with Sophie for a bit then ran Noah to Blockbuster to rent a game. Why? Because I am not a Soccer Mom, noooo, I am a Sucker Mom. I am too lenient. There I said it. I am Such. A. Push. Over. My son comes up to me and gives me a huge hug, tells me he loves me and give me that big goofy grin. And off we go to the store. So sad. I know. Don’t bother telling me. I’m not winning any best parenting awards any time soon, I know.

Later that night with Noah happily playing something or other, me and the Soph trumped Best Boyfriend Ever to buy Enchanted on On Demand. We all cuddled up on the couch eating popcorn and, hello, BLISS! And oh my gosh!!! Seriously, I don’t care if it is politically correct or not, and I am sure that there are women all over the world pissed off about this movie, but lordee it was ADORABLE. It was so cute and funny. For reals. Boyfriend must have rolled his eyes, oh, I don’t know eleventy billion times, but me? I say, Mr. McDreamy, you can come save me any day! (Actually, there was a twist where she saves HIM at the end and that was cute.) But for the most part it is a feel good kid friendly movie that has a happily ever after ending and I love those. This world is way too mean and cynical for me and what the hell is so wrong with happily ever after anyway? I am a rose colored girl that adores the happy endings. So sue me. LOVED IT.

And boyfriend and I went to bed at abut 11pm and I let the kids stay up a bit late since this was the last night I would let them before school began again. This morning I woke up with a present from Sophie. An oragami flower taped to my door. Happy fairy tale endings to the night, happy mornings to wake up to… does it get any better?

Took the dogs out with my morning coffee and watched them run around like crazy, um, well, dogs. I swear I can hear them laughing in my head they are so happy when they get out there and get to play. I think they love the warm weather just as much as me. Do they make doggie flip flops? Hmmm….

So this morning I need to get a poster revision done and some car decals finished for a client to proof. Then I have to get this freelance web job done before we leave. Luckily I can do the laundry WHILE I do all this. Yay for working at home. I’ll tale pictures from the trip. Promise! Cause I know y’all just live to see what I post next! Right? Um…right? Leave me and my delusions of grandeur alone. You still read this, right mom and dad? Mom? Dad? Sigh…. I do it for my fans in Turkey. They love me. Shut up. Yes they DO. heh.

Working from home today and tomorrow

Life is good. my babies are back home. I arranged with work to work from home today and tomorrow so I could be with them. Tomorrow we are going to spend the weekend with my parents and celebrate the end of spring break along with my dad’s birthday. Yay! for celebrations! I try to find as many things to celebrate as possible. Every day preferably. Yesterday when I picked up the kids we went to Dairy Queen and celebrated seeing each other again after 10 days. With soft serve vanilla and sprinkles and oreo blizzards. Yum! Then we went to Borders and Sophie got a huge book about Egypt for only $9.99, on sale for $29.99!! It is filled with the most amazing pictures. She is totally into archaeology right now and that is all she wants to know about. (I figure anything I can do to veer her away from the ridiculous idea of being an artist for a living I am more than willing to do!! I jest, I kid… not really. Kidding! Sort of.) We were then on a mission for Noah to find the Calvin and Hobbs book I had found at another Borders last week that was only $5.99 but I could not get a hold of him to ask him if he had it already. We never did find it again, but he found a Garfield one he wanted. It was a bit pricey at $14.95, but listening to a too cool for school almost 12 boy that pretty much thinks everybody in the world is a dork, giggle out loud all night long while he read it and say, “Hey Mom, read THIS one!” made it totally worth it. I LOVE to hear that little boy turning too quickly into a teenager laugh. (If I thought any of his friends read this blog I would not have just written that, but I am pretty sure my audience is NOT 11 and 12 year old boys whose soul mission is to keep on top of exactly which Mario Kart game is coming out on which system and on which day.)

Anyway, I will take pictures later to celebrate today and post them cause today is AWESOME. Being at home with my kids and dogs. Best Boyfriend Ever bought a lawnmower last night to cut our jungle, er, LAWN and so tonite promises to be filled with the scent of fresh cut grass on a spring day warm enough for flip flops. FLIP FLOPS! There! As if there was not ENOUGH to celebrate today, now we have flip flop weather again! I know God loves me because he gave someone the idea for flip flops. What says Higher Power and unconditional love more than color coordinated footware for $5 and under?!?! Proof enough for me, I say.

Ok, off to work!


From the current issue of Doggie Aficianado’s Spring 2008 issue…

Hoping to have a really fun announcement very soon about a project that has been in the works and in the final stages right now!

(cause ya know, I need more excitement than PARIS! Did I mention that I was going to PARIS? No? Well I am! THE Paris! the one in FRANCE!

um, maybe I am a wee excited…

Great weekend!

I decided to paint all weekend. I have not painted in a while, and decided I wanted to paint doodles I was drawing during the week. Mostly during meetings or on the phone. All of my notebooks, planners, sketchbooks are covered in doodles. Of dogs, cats, penguins, an alligator here and there… Some are from scenes from children’s books in progress in my head and make it onto paper, some are just scenes that pop into my head and must be put on paper or else they are all I think about all day long.

So here is what I painted this weekend. And like always, painting is what I love to do most in the world. It calms me. And my style is meticulous. These paintings are small, no taller than 4 inches on one side, but they take a lot of time. I use many, many coats to get them as opaque as I do. I hate to see a hint of white from the canvas. In a weird way, the saturation of color calms me. And the outlines? Making everything “just so” and finishing it up with nice tight edges? Better than any anti-anxiety medicine there could be out there! Truly, based on my style you would think I would be a neat freak. But just to take these pictures, I had to dust off the layer of dog hair on my dining room table unless I wanted to actually document my UN-neat-freakness…Which I don’t. So here they are:

This one is for Best Boyfriend Ever, who worries about every possible way ANYTHING can go wrong. Which it never does. And I try to tell him what ever doom and gloom he thinks up will NEVER happen, but he still takes precautions. As a girl who leaps and looks after she realizes she has no parachute, we are a good team and even each other out. I have become a bit more of a planner and he has become a bit more of a risk-taker. But while I was painting and we were discussing an upcoming trip (that needs it’s OWN entry, I am SO excited!!) he came up with some scenario about how the trip could be DOOMED and I told him his “What If Monster” needs to go take a nap because he is bugging the ever-loving crap out of me and he is NOT going to ruin my dream trip! So I painted him and boyfriend took him to work today to remind himself that the “What If Monster” is really very teeny tiny and he can stand up to him any time he wants!

This is just a lil’ alligator that crept onto my sketchbbok page while I was in a meeting about, um, er, um, prolly something I should remember, but this little guy charmed me too much to pay attention…

This is a scene from a children’s book I am working on. I have a “Be Brave” print that I have printed and sold well from another illustration of it. In the book Little Dog is off to face his fear and cross the water in search of his dream. Little Mouse is the encouraging friend that bids “Good luck and be brave!” I love how the paintings work together and think prints could be really cute.

My polar bear needed a friend. And this little penguin appeared along with the alligator during the same meeting.

I sketched this a while ago for a study for a prototype painting for another book concept. I ended up not using it, but I loved the angle so I keep sketching it from time to time and decided it needed to be painted. And I had painted so much blue this weekend, the little pup needed some hot pink!

I think I might put these up for sale on etsy, or make prints. Or both. We’ll see. I would love for my little doodles to have homes that love them.