Oh no! Her head is on backwards!

The Soph woke up sick on Tuesday morning. Ya know, cause her body knew it was SUMMER vacation and life is cruel like that. We were waiting in the doctor’s office FOREVER so we had some fun while we waited. Luckily it was just a bad head cold, not strep like I was worried it was.
She is in the office with me today busy charming my coworkers. See me and my new office mate:

Please note I had her full permission to post all these, so she can’t come back to me one day saying I ruined her life. Not for until she is 13 anyway, and that is 3 years from now…heh.

Working, working, working.

Because I know how much y’all care I will update you on my spectacularly exciting life. My entries might be a bit fewer and farther between. I am a busy, busy bee as of late. The deadline for the first of 6 installments from one of my contracts is June 25. Work – which has been crazy because my boss is in China for a few weeks – is packed with scheduling, meetings, projects that are all due NOW. NOW people! Not later, NOW my clients keep making it clear. On that note, how come when you come to me with a RUSH, RUSH! HURRY! job and it HAS got to be mailed out NOW and I get you the job in one day, why do you then make me wait for three days on any kind of approval? Thanks for the rant, moving on.

So big project moving forward. Working every night until late to get it done. Loving it, but um, tired, maybe? But when your dream comes knocking at your door the appropriate response is not, “Um, now? Yeah… now’s not such a good time, maybe after a nap, come back in just a few?” So I work. Then Monday and Tuesday I needed to get everything to my agent. “My agent” Ok, allow me some self indulgence here. My LITERARY agent. Like that? Sounds nice, doesn’t it? She wants to rep my books (Plural! “Please send me everything you have ready to be seen, PRONTO!”) Woot! So yes, a tad excited about that. There is some big ol’ publishing conference next weekend she is going to and wanted to make sure she had all my stuff. So I sent everything digitally and everything by mail. And next week I am sure she will call and say that Penguin Publishing wants a 3 book series and will give me a $100,000 advance. What? Dream BIG I say! Crazy is as crazy does.

So I would love, love, LOVE to be sharing the illustrations I am finishing every night, SO cute – but I can’t. Gotta wait. Michaels and Hobby Lobby are looking at them in the beginning of July to see if they want to carry them. I know!!!! So now you see why sleep is a luxury at this point and I am glad to ignore it for now.

And just to let you all know, I share this all to hopefully not sound full of myself, or like I am bragging. The point of writing this blog for so many years now has been to document my career. I want to share my ups, my downs, my frustrations and my elations. I have learned so much in the past five years trying to get to where I am today. And it has been an amazing trip one that I could not have planned in a million years. And having an agent and projects where I actually am getting paid to draw dogs is just, well, still hard to believe. And if sharing my journey helps even one other person realize that they should not give up their dreams, that with hard work and not giving up, you can have what you are striving for, then that makes all the years of writing this blog worth it.

Happy Birthday Sophie Loafie Lovie Dove!!!

The Soph turns 10 today. TEN. T-E-N. Lord when did that happen? I know, I know, such a cliche. But for reals, where does the time go? Just yesterday Sophie was running around the apartment roaring like a tiger. She was almost three years old and I was washing the dishes. “Mama!! I’m a tiger! Roar….Roar….ROARRRRRRR!!!!!!!” She screamed. “Yes, Sophie, you are a scary tiger!” I said kind of absentmindedly while I continued washing and not turning around. “MAMA!!!! I’M…..A…..TIGER!!!!!!! ROARRRRRRR!!!!!” She screamed insistently. Obviously I was supposed to turn around. So I turned around to look at the very scary tiger. And my jaw just hung open. There before me was a naked toddler except for a diaper. And she had drawn red tiger stripes over EVERY inch of her body, from her face to between her toes. In red SHARPI. “Well, Sophie I said, you are going to be a tiger for a couple of weeks!!” And she giggled and ran out of the room.

Not too much has changed about The Soph. She does her own thing, she is her own person. She dresses how she wants and I DARE you to make her go put on another shirt that ‘matches.” If she wants to wear it, so be it. On Saturday we had a slumber party for her birthday and that morning we ran around getting her decorations, balloons and cake. At the party store she found these ridiculous glasses and hat that she HAD to have. She didn’t take them off until after her party started. In every store she got stared at and looked at and giggled WITH. She knew she was making people look at her and she LOVED it. She smiled back at them and just walked on by. “Mama, people keep smiling at me. I like that.” she kept saying. “I guess I make people happy.” She takes pride in not getting embarrassed. I was told at least three times that morning how great my daughter’s ‘style’ was. I have to agree. Whole-heartedly.

She is my bubble of chaotic sunshine that lights up a room and brings a frenzy of energy where ever she goes. She walk around with my heart every day. Sophie is who I want to be when I grow up. She lives in the moment, she tries new things for the experience. If she is good at them is of absolutely no importance. She has been on the basketball team, the swim team, the chess team, in school plays, the science olympiad, and every single talent show the school has ever had. And Sophie IS good at these things, but she does not care if she wins or not. She loves the DOING. She loves the exhilaration of being watched, of facing a fear of just TRYING. Sure, she likes it when she wins, but if she doesn’t she just moves on, maybe hugging her friend that did win.

That is just the Soph. Things roll off her back. She is passionate and fiery. She knows what she wants and will fight to get it. She has so many loves in her life at any given moment, and in those moments she gives every single one of her passions 1000%. Lately at night she sits next to me in front of the tv, me drawing in my sketchbook, her drawing in hers. She is drawing hieroglyphics she saw in her Egyptology book, or she is drawing dresses for fashion designs she thinks up in her head, or she is copying illustrations from the latest children’s book I have just bought. She loves to create anything and everything. She is forever creating something to go to sell at school and she comes home with orders for book covers or cards or whatever – it seems that whatever Sophie makes, she can sell. To boys and girls. That child sold an embellished book cover with SATIN trim to a boy in her class. Yeah, she can sell an eskimo some snow.

Sophie is not scared of what people think about her. I think that is what I am most in awe of. It took me over thirty years to figure out that my life is the only one I get and that life is way too short to constantly worry about what the world thinks of me. Sophie seems to have figured that out from birth. “Look, I’m gonna try this new thing, and I have never done it before, and I may fall on my butt and look stupid. But then I will laugh WITH you. And it will be ok.”

That is the Soph. She is my love. Good God, I adore this child. Every day I hope I become more like her. A roaring red striped tiger, not scared of taking on the world.

A sample of Sophie’s unique style….She wore this to school yesterday.

This was her birthday party outfit. Did you think I was kidding?

I love my girl!

And pretty, pretty Soph, just hanging out.


Loud dog.

I have a very loud, loud dog.
She barks throughout the day.

She barks to warn us and to help us,
she barks when all’s ok.

I have a very loud, loud dog,
Her barking is like a riot.

But I have to say I’d love her still
if she decided to just be QUIET.

Big, giant news

Yesterday I had an amazing half hour conversation with a well known agent in Los Angeles. Amazing? Does not quite do this conversation justice. Maybe more like God decided to let me have a perfect moment, one that I imagined for a long, long time. This agent loves my art, loves my writing and can’t wait to start pitching my children’s books to major publishing houses. This has nothing to do with the other news from a few days ago, so I am floating on a cloud, about to sign my second contract this week!!! I am not quite thinking clearly today. It is not everyday that someone calls you up to tell you that they clearly can see your vision for your life and they ASK YOU if they can help you realize it. I am too excited for words really. Yesterday after I got off the phone with her it was if someone injected me with a 100 cups of coffee. I called Best Boyfriend Ever to tell him every detail. Then proceeded to call friends and family and tell them every detail. Then proceeded to tell the boyfriend every detail AGAIN when he got home. He is so sweet to listen to my rambling again and again and again.

But just to keep my ego in check, thank goodness I have kids. I was bouncing off the walls when they walked in the door after school and blurted the news to them. “That’s great, Mom. I’m happy for you.” Noah said with a sweet smile not understanding how big a deal it was. “Cool mom. So…that’s something good with your art and books?” Sophie asked as she plopped down in front of the TV and began watching Hannah Montanta. “Guys!!!” I exclaimed. This is a REALLY BIG DEAL!!” I really, really tried to emphasize the moment, get them to enjoy it with me – BE a part of it. Yeah, not so much. Sophie looked up and said, “Yeah, it’s good, I get it, I get it. So…do you want to go play frisbee before it rains? Oh, what’s for dinner?”

Thank goodness for kids, right? They keep you grounded. BUT. STILL. EXCITED!!!

And now back to reality. Time for work-work. Ya know the kind that pays the bills. I have an interview to do for a part time designer in ten minutes. Reality. At least I love this job too. Life is good.

Stupid Dog.

I have a very, very stupid dog.
He gets dumber every day.

He sits when I say to come,
and he runs when I yell “Stay!”

I have a very, very stupid dog,
so I’ll take care of him forever.

But maybe instead of stupid,
that makes him very, very clever.

Lazy dog.

I have a lazy, lazy dog. She never moves at all.
She sleeps all day, then all night, never coming when I call.

I have a lazy, lazy dog. She just lays there all the day.
But she really is quite well behaved if I tell her, “Stay!”

Yesterday I had a wonderful day with my babies. Sophie made me lunch and served it to me. Noah made himself a sandwich and ate it next to me. Then he vacuumed and put laundry away. What more could a mother ask for?? All I wanted to do yesterday was hang out with the kids. So we all just lounged, watched some tv, hung out on the deck, Sophie and I ran to the store and got frisbees, balls, etc to play outside and had fun playing catch trying to get to the balls we missed before the dogs did.

I would have pictures, but I left my camera up in Athens when Best Boyfriend Ever visited this lovely lady and her hubbie and new baby. Her baby is officially the CUTEST BABY EVER and for the first time in a looong time my ovaries said, “Hey! Let’s make one of those!!” To which I promptly responded, “Hey, you two down there, shutuppa your faces!” and then had a shot of tequila to keep ’em quiet. Seriously, she is mushy and cute and has those thighs you just wanna gnaw on and she SMILES that devilishly cute smile that makes people without children that are thinking about having one think, “Oh my gosh! Look how cute, honey! They look like so much fun and I know, let’s have one!!” And then you go home and that baby looks at her mom and says, “Phew, it was hard being so cute and charming all day. Now for some reality. I just pooped again even though you just changed me and oh, and by the way, I don’t plan on sleeping until Tuesday and I plan on crying for the next two hours about nothing in particular. Have fun!”

But really, this baby could be the exception to the rule. Ya know why? Cause she can sleep through Rock Band. Yuh huh. Right in her little pack and play next to me screaming my little heart out that, yes indeed, “I’m a Cowboy” along with Bon Jovi. So yeah, I am totally addicted to Rock Band! Even though I failed out on all three instruments except for the singing (which I TOTALLY got over 90% on over and over again) so I got sing the whole time!! Woohoo!! I love me some Rock Band. I think I know what I will be doing with my stimulis money from Uncle Sam. Screw the patio furniture we were going to get. Cause I’m a cowboy and cowboys need to rock!

Exciting News I can’t share yet!

Man, oh man! Do you know when you have a big ol’ happy secret but you can’t tell anyone yet??? Well, that is me right now. Yesterday I had a meeting with a company before work and we hammered out all the details in the contract for a project we have been discussing for the past couple months. We are all very happy with the agreement and so today I get to get started on this project!! I can’t say anymore than that yet, but soon, SOON. But SO. SO. EXCITING!!! It is hard to concentrate on my work at WORK right now, but I have an annual report that ain’t gonna design itself. I will write more later, but just had to put this out there into the universe because I am so very, very grateful for this new opportunity and that I get to put my art into the world again on a level that I had hoped and dreamed for, but never really knew would happen. Hard work, hard work, hard work, with a sprinkle of luck. I promise to let you in on it the second I know I can! Later taters!

My life in dogs.

From bottom to top Muffin, Baily, Lucy, Rufus and Barker McBark-Bark

Three little girls getting to name their brand new doggie is how a scruffy junk-yard dog saved from his last day at the shelter gets a name like Muffin. Muffin was as much a part of our family as any dog could be. My parents taught me that a dog is not just an animal. It is a family member that you take care of, love, cuddle and do whatever you need to for – they are to be taken care of as if you would any member of the family. Muffin let us dress him up in doll clothes, he sat in at several tea parties, he jumped up for the bone eleventy gazillion times in a row and would do it one more time if we wanted. He was my dad’s faithful running companion for many years. We used to let him out at night and he would return every morning. We never knew where he went (this was way before leash laws) but he came back every morning. I used to imagine with my 8 year old imagination that he went off to meet his other doggie friends for a night out on the town. I pictured him leaning against a wall, smoking a cigarette (this was way before we knew about cancer) in a little leather jacket talking to his pals. He was kinda the James Dean of dogs. He was COOL. He also had the luck of the devil. He got hit by a car once and survived. He limped back to our house and my parents found him and rushed him to the hospital. He lost a toe, but other than that, was ok. The vets did try to save the toe, but it didn’t take. I imagine my parents were paying off that damned toe saving surgery for a loooong time. While I think they would have said don’t worry about the toe, they told the doctor to do whatever needed to be done to save Muffin. And they did. I will never forget when he came home from the hospital after that and I cried in my room afterwards where no one could see me because I hadn’t realized how scared I was that he might die. Lord, I loved that dog. The first one can never really be replaced. He made it to 15 years old, but he may have been older. We are not sure how old he was when we got him. Boy, did we lvoe Muffin.

Next is Baily. Also known as Baily-Baily Big Butt. She knows it was a term of endearment! She loved to get up on your lap and just STAY THERE. She liked her hair long and in her eyes. If you put it up in a bow, she acted mortified. She really did. When she came back from the groomer she would hide until you took the stupid pink bow out. I guess she was more a tomboy dog. Heh. She was scared of the lightening and all flashes of light – like from a camera. It would make her pee on the spot. So if we heard a storm coming we had to find a dark room for her to go in or make sure she went potty really fast. And we all screamed “Noooo!” if anyone was about to take her picture. She was a sweetheart of a dog and we all get sad when we mention Baily at my mom and dad’s house. She was only 10 when she passed away and I think we all get a sad/happy feeling whenever we see sheepdogs. Baily-Baily Big Butt was the sweetest, most cuddliest dog ever. EVER.

Next is my Lucy Goosy. She is so special because she is my first dog as an adult. She was 11 months old when we got her, but was so calm I was sure she was older. The kids were only 2 and 4 so they have grown up with her. She is a pretty blond lab shepherd mix and has the sweetest disposition ever. Unless you are Rufus and she has decided you are stupid. Unless you are Skyler and have forgotten that LUCY is the dog in charge. Otherwise? Sweet as pie! She is my baby. She sheds like no other and she is lucky I fell in love with her before finding out we could fill a pillow a day on just her shedding alone. Dog hair is a way of life in my house. It’s just the deal. Lucy is healthy and happy and will be 10 this October. She will never get old and she will never die. EVER. She won’t, so just shut up. Heh. I love my Lucy. This painting of her is the one that began this whole pet portrait madness. Besides my kids, whose births awoke the artist inside me, Lucy is my muse. None of this would have happened without her. I loves the Lucy Goosy.

Next is Rufus. I wanted to get Lucy a playmate. We tried out an Australian Shepherd named Cocoa first. But she was way more alpha than Lucy and we could not make it work. One mother’s day I was working an art festival and an animal rescue. The people working knew I was looking for a partner for Lucy. They told me to go look at the big Lab/Newfie mix in the back. I went into his kennel and went to pet him. He stood up on his hind legs and put his giant paws gently on my shoulders and licked the tip of my nose. I was done. Smitten. And I think that was the last smart thing that dumb dog ever did. Cause I fell in love with a dog that ATE A COUCH. Oh yes, three weeks later we ran out for 45 minutes. We came home to the Great Couch Massacre of 2003. There was fluff and upholstery EVERYWHERE. The couch was stripped to the wood frame. That stupid dog was sitting right in the middle of it all with fluff still sticking out of his jowls, with his tongue hanging out just happy as a clam. Lucy was cowering in the corner looking all “I do not know what the hell he was doing!! I had NOTHING to do with it! He just went CRAZY!!!” I would love to say that was the last thing he ever ate. But that would be a big fat lie. I still remember the most perfect brand new shoes I got to wear ONE time before he ate them. Stupid dog. But still, he’s so stupid you just have to love him. And he adores me. See, if Rufus was a man, he would be the kind of man that would go to the store and get tampons for you even if that as the ONLY thing you asked him to get, AND not care what anyone thought AND come home with three different brands of them just to make sure he got the right kind AND have a bottle of red wine, Midol and the EXPENSIVE chocolates. So yeah, he loves me. The kids call him by boyfriend cause he follows me everywhere. But still, not the sharpest tool in the box. We all love Rufus Goofus even though we all know he rides the short bus.

Finally is Barker McBark-Bark, also known as the loudest dog EVER, and Skyler. She is the newest addition and loves, loves, LOVES to protect us. She is all macho and tough and will ‘TAKE YOU DOWN, DUDE!’ She was stuck in her kennel when we got broken into on New Year’s Eve and boy are they LUCKY! There is not a falling leaf safe from being detected at our house! She is on it! She is super sweet and sooo pretty. She has been trying since last October to make friends with Lucy, who will tolerate her at best. Every once in a while Lucy will grant her the privilege of playing with her, but you never know when Lucy will be OVER it, so Skyler is very tentative. Cause one false move and Lucy is all, “Don’t touch me, I hate you!!” So mostly Miss Barker plays with Rufus who tries to hump her head as much as he can. (I told you he was dumb.) She can play with Rufus until Lucy decides Rufus is hers. Then she is all “Don’t touch him, I hate you!” But I loves me some Skyler. And now that she doesn’t sleep in the kennel anymore, I DARE anyone to get close to this house for a break in or ANYTHING else. She will let us know, oh yes she will! And we will know every time anyone one ever has the nerve to walk past our house, drive by our house or LOOK at our house.

So there ya have it. My life in dogs. Maybe now you know why I am crazy.

Too awesome…

Ok, I do not think I can overstate the AWESOMENESS that was last night. We left to go to the concert sometime around 6pm to catch the train and got home sometime after losing my voice from screaming my lil’ heart out for my Jon Jon and having some mighty fine food at the Waffle House after. Just LOOK at how much fun this was!! Can you believe my Jon Jon threw all this just for lil’ ol’ me??? I know! I tell him all the time he is far too extravagant. But he just won’t stop. (And we pretty much had suicide mission seats, they were so far away, so thank you God for digital cameras with awesome ZOOM.) So I got my Jon Jon fix for now and Best Boyfriend Ever has no more competition. Until his next tour…

And then as if all that wasn’t enough, he turned to me, pointed and sang JUST TO ME. Oh yes he did! For reals! Totally swear! See: