Ok, ok, ok, so i have been lazy with my photo entries and lack of words. I guess i have not had much to say. To which BBE would chuckle and think, “Yeah right, Michelle have NOTHING to say???” The boyfriend and I are certainly a contrasting duo. He is very quiet and I hardly shut the hell up. He tends to think and ponder things before he says them out loud, I am often having to say, “Oh wait! No, I didn’t mean it like THAT! What I meant to say was…” Yeah, we are different in lots and lots of different ways. But somehow it works. And for that, I am so very grateful. I loves him lots.

So besides work and school I have been taking it easy with my own work right now. I know that I am going to be getting another phone call soon enough for two more coloring books so I am resting while I can. And by resting I mean, training for a 13.1 mile race. Cause apparently I always need something to focus on or else I can’t do anything. That, and a beach trip at the end of May where I will be wearing a bathing suit and many pictures will surely be taken. Lord help me I don’t want to see those pictures and think, “If I had just done SOME kind of exercise way back in January, I wouldn’t be having to kill myself right now after looking at my giant butt on the beach!” So really? The running is just making sure the kids have a mom come June. See? I am so selfless like that. Heh.

Actually I love running. I have done it since I was in sixth grade when I asked my dad if I could do with him. It was the early 80’s and my dad had gotten the jogging bug in the 70’s and was always running some race or another on a Saturday. He used to wake up early to run before work. So when I asked him if I could go, he said yes, as long as I got up when he woke me up. And he would NOT call me twice. I got up on the first wake up call or I missed the run. I am proud to say, I don’t think I ever missed a run, maybe one or two, but I honestly don’t think I did. I LOVED those runs with my dad. He started me off with somewhere between a quarter mile and a half mile then when we got back to the house he would go on further. We did that for years and years and years right up until my senior year in high school. I never did track or cross country, I was always a softball girl, but I loved my morning runs with my dad. I kept up my running in college and that was when I ran my first half marathon, 17 years ago. I ran it with a boyfriend that didn’t train like he should have and I left him behind at the five mile mark. See, my dad taught me (right or wrong) that you don’t stop when you are running. You just keep going no matter what and finish the distance you had set to run. I do that to this day. Probably to a fault. I laughed with him about it this weekend because when my boyfriend and I were running our 4 miler he stopped to walk for a minute or two and I wouldn’t . he asked me about it on our run and I said it was not out of being competitive, but it has been ingrained in me, DO NOT STOP. So i don’t. And when I left my boyfriend at 19 years old behind and waited for him at the finish line, imagine my astonishment when he was PISSED off at me. He would not talk to me for like 2 hours. Go figure. Stupid boy. You should have trained. Why should I stop just because you didn’t do your homework? Luckily current boyfriend is not like that and he is of the school that walking here and there for a minute or two is perfectly acceptable. And he knows I won’t stop for him. Cause I am mean like that. See? he puts up with all my mental blocks. heh.

So anyway, I have kept up with running more or less since college. But babies then toddlers then school can easily get in the way of running if you make it a perfectly acceptable excuse. So I have decided to get back into it like I really want to, and go figure, when you make it a priority, you have plenty of time to do it! Although I have to say, my kids are older and i have a treadmill. If my kids were still little and I didn’t have a treadmill I would have a hard time. Right now I can have them start their homework, tell them I will be running for the next hour and I will help them with anything right when I am done. Without the treadmill i would probably not go running for an hour after school. So I really do NOT want to be all holier than thou on the whole “if you make exercise a priority crap” because hello? For those if us with kids? And the SMALL and maybe YOUNG variety? Fitting in exercise at times is for real impossible. And screw you if you think otherwise. And if you have them and CAN be holier than thou? You either have LOTS of money and have a gym with daycare or have an amazing partner that watches said children (and has the extra time in his or her life) while you have an hour to yourself. Good for you if you have either of those. You are lucky. And maybe in a minority.

Ok, I need to run and actually get some work done. Better get and post this while I still can.

And I have to run 3 miles tonite. See how I brought that round full circle? Um. Yeah.

Yay for Fridays!

I got to work late today – had an awards ceremony for The Soph. I am so grateful to work for a place that allows flexibility with my schedule. It is nice to not feel torn between attending an event or supporting your child and earning money. So as much as I can’t wait to work from home again one day, i love, love, love my job here at the college.

I have some down time after they craziness before the holidays and am trying to take care of me for a bit. I was so sleep deprived and stiff and sore from so many nights of painting that I decided to train for a half marathon at the end of March. I have always loved to run and it gets me in shape the fastest. I have been training for almost 3 weeks now and in just the little time I am already feeling so much better. I have energy again and while I am still not sleeping great, at least I am feeling so much better during the day. I was such a zombie by the end of December!

I will have a lot of work coming up with my coloring books coming out in a few months plus some other projects in the works that are REALLY exciting. I am changing my name back to my maiden name of Michelle Nelson. I had toyed with the idea of Michelle Lee, but after much more thought Michelle Nelson just feel so, well, ME. So I need to change over my web domain and it is in need of a redesign – been so long since I have done that – cobblers children, no shoes and all that…

This really is a rambling post, but I guess that is what my brain is like right now. I had two months of intense concentration and now I am in this period of letting my brain just wander freely about before I get busy again. I think that is why I love my running so much. I have all this time to just think and ponder. I love it. I am up to 4 miles for my long runs and after this week the distance picks up more and more. The last time I ran a half marathon I was 19 so doing it at 36 is something that will make me really happy with myself. And if my butt gets smaller in the process? Well, happy day!!!

ok, sorry for the not much of anything interesting to say post, but I wish you all a meandering, relaxing Friday and for those of you lucky enough for a three day weekend like me? ENJOY! And wallow around in laziness and doing whatever you feel like. I know I will! Have fun!

Girl’s Night. Not a boy to be found.

In the car about to go to the movies.

Saw Marley and Me. Bawled our eyes out. BAWLED.

Came home and made milkshakes. Yum.

Made them ‘fancy.’

Cuddled up on the couch and rented Phantom of the Opera.

Girl’s night? AWESOME. The Soph is a very cool person to hang out with. I highly suggest getting your own The Soph. They’re totally FUN.

Lemme sum up…

Man, I have tried to sit down and write this post all week and weekend. Here goes again. I will post whatever point I get to this time regardless if it is done or not when children come in and begin asking for waffles, pancakes eggs or some such nonsense. Really? Breakfast? NOW? Can’t you see I am writing in my DIARY!?? Gah, fine. Children and their getting in the way, eating food and such.

Ok, that kind of tangent writing is what gets me in trouble in the first place. Let me ‘splain. No, no, there is no time for that, let me sum up. “Hey! you moved your little finger! That’s great!” Ok, moving on! (BTW, If you get that reference you are my kinda person! Find me on Facebook and I will totally FRIEND you!!)

Ok to sum up:
1. I worked like a dog for all of November and December on a project. (A YEAR AGO – 2007) Woohoo! My ship!! Here it comes! I can see it!!

2. Meetings postponed. I was asked to work on another big project ASAP – a meeting coming in May.

3. Worked like mad for 6 weeks on said project.

4. Meeting in May postponed to June. Meeting in June postponed to July.

5. Meeting In July postponed to August. Grrrr…..

6. There was a GREAT meeting in August. Finally!! Wonderful things said about my art, another meeting scheduled for later. But much enthusasm and promise was conveyed to me. “This is good!!” they say. Things take time!! 8 months of waiting is NOTHING! It takes 9 to make a baby, this is your labor of insanity, er, love you think.

7. Meanwhile, you get asked to work on the other products. You say “Ok, sure,” but think, “yeah RIGHT, screw you, give me something to get excited about, maybe THEN I will bust ass for you again for nothing!”

8. Don’t do another thing and enjoy your evenings of relaxation, cooking meals that include actual VEGETABLES for your children.

9. Begin to get antsy with all this free time at night. Just working 40 hours a weeks feels so…wrong…and lazy of you. Boyfriend says to enjoy it, it could change and you will wish you had rested. Think to yourself about all the naps you should totally have taken when you were preggers before the baby arrived and how you wished you had listened to those smug, know it all moms that you thought were just being perfect. Turns out those moms were right and knew you were about to join the darkside too and they were secretly gloating over the fact that I thought I had a clue about babies and was going to be insane and sleep deprived just like them. ANd they KNEW you wouldn’t take those damn naps and you would be regretting it one day!! Decide you will do the same thing to other joyful, yet completely naive young mothers too for revenge – sounds like fun.

10. Get all rested up. Enjoyed the primetime line up again after WAY TOO LONG. Realize I am still not over my anger at the writer’s strike.

11. Received a phone call the first week of November that went some thing like this: “”They are interested!! VERY interested!! We need you to finish the other three products NOW. Or yesterday is even better! You’ve been working on them right???? ASAP!! Faster than that if possible! Do you know magic maybe???”

12. Suddenly it is like a newborn has been thrust into my arms. I need to finish 70 illustrations in about 6 weeks. While still working full time. Oops. Why didn’t I listen to those other moms?! This is gonna suck.

13. I don’t sleep.

14. Kids eat much mac and cheese and instant mash potatoes. Pizza man begins to call us by name and asks how the dogs are and how the painting is going.

15. There is no sleeping to be had.

16. I am slowly going insane, but moving forward.

17. Write many sleep deprived posts that all start, “Good lord am I tired.”

18. Feel bad that I am so boring, but too tired to care.

19. FINISH the illustrations!!!!

20. Go on Christmas break in Florida and SLEEP. Also maybe eat too much. Come back with pants a wee tight from cake, candy and maybe copious amounts of wine.

21. Come back into town, sleep more. Go to lots of movies.

22. Have awesome New Year’s party. Rock Band too much. Drink too much, have headache next day. Sleep in until 1pm next day. Ouch.

23. Work starts.

24. Half-Marathon training for 12 weeks starts because I need another project that will keep me busy for 3 months that will make my butt smaller instead of bigger like the last one.

25. Running going great. Up to 3 miles by Wednesday. Half-Marathon is March 29.

26. THE MEETING is scheduled for Thurs. Jan 8.

27. I am HORRIBLE to be around. Boyfriend, children, dogs, coworkers all shudder and scatter when I come around.

28. I am SCARED. I don’t want a postponement. Worse, dear God, I cannot handle a year of my life (6 years in the making) being REJECTED even if it is just one buyer.

29. FINALLY get the phone call at 5:30pm after FREAKING out all day at work.

30. Hobby Lobby is buying my coloring book!!!! They ordered LOTS of each of four books! And plan on reorders throughout the year with numbers that sound BIG to me. They have a meeting in February to see the prototypes for the other product we made (18 in that series – can’t say what it is yet but they said YES to the coloring books!!!)

31. I am in disbelief. A huge, national chain has agreed to carry coloring books filled with MY art!! It is CRAZY!!!

32. I go on my run, not sure I am actually running or floating.

33. I get a phone call, “Hobby Lobby wants to see any other coloring books you can have by the February meeting. We are thinking at least two more, can you do that?”

34. “If you want, I can fly.” (Same movie – srsly, if you know we should totally be friends. Look me up.)

35. Friday night the fam and I goe out to celebrate at ‘spensive steak house. YUM.

36. Kids order steak, mac and cheese and french fries. Not a veggie to be seen. Too happy to care.

37. Run 4 miles the next day. Feels good.

38. Made dinner that night. Involved vegetables. Children ate them. Good mom!

So the last year was a little crazy. Ok, insane. But I managed. And I have the payoff. And there are other meetings scheduled with other stores. And no, I can’t quit my job. I only make a small percentage on each book. Don’t ask how much, I am not gonna tell you. People react all weird when money starts getting discussed. Let me put it this way if you are super curious, I know I was curious before all this began. All the sayings are true. It IS a labor of LOVE. Don’t do any of this to get rich or quit your job. I intend on quitting my job AND getting rich on my art EVENTUALLY. But this first sale, while it is AWESOME and I am SO HAPPY, and Hobby Lobby is my most FAVORITEST store EVER, is not making me rich. It will be a nice check that will get put in the bank and I won’t even see that check for 4 to 8 months depending on where in the yearly quarter the order gets placed/paid. Do it because you love it. The money will follow. In the meantime, you better have a full time job or a rich partner. Rich partner is TOTALLY the way to go if you can find it, I highly recommend that one. You would get to sleep much more I suspect.

Pics from the celebration dinner that included protein and LOTS of starches! (Please ignore my children’s hair. Attempts were made, I promise. But it was a Friday after school and hoods and hats and all. Don’t judge. You can totally judge on the veggie thing if you feel so compelled, but the hair thing? YOU try motivating preteens about their hair and get back to me on that one.)

Relaxation and Dolls

Sooooo, this vacation has been, what’s the word? Heavenly. Yup. Near perfect. I have done a whole lot of nothing. NO Thing. Relaxing, watching tv (BBE and I got the whole second season to Boston Legal and have had marathon sessions of watching it), I have gone for a few runs, I have seen movies (Marley and Me is JUST like the book and you will cry your eyes out the last 30 minutes and if you are like me, the whole way home, before you go to bed, and still be getting misty when you wake up the next morning) I did just one last quick illustration for work the other day because they are getting the prototypes created for the BIG, HUGE meeting on January 8, I have a book I bought at the book store which I wandered around for hours just looking and wondering and enjoying not having to be anywhere at all, but I have not started reading yet. I basically have had the best, most refreshing vacation one could have. I feel recharged and am so looking forward to 2009, I can’t even tell you!

Yesterday, the creative bug bit after I had seen a magazine full of softies and got an image of dolls in my head I wanted to make. I wanted to make some art that I didn’t care if it turned out perfect. I actually wanted it to look not so perfect, just fun and whimsical, folk arty, and best of all, just for me. I decided I needed to paint the dolls and the only fabric I could think of that would not absorb my paint was canvas. So I ripped some canvas off of some frames I have in the office and began cutting out shapes. (I am NOT a sewer – I was winging the whole mess and didn’t care how badly my mishapen creatures might come out) After realizing that a normal needle and thread will not go through canvas, I got out the sewing machine my mom had given my daughter and actually managed to thread a bobbin correctly and get the thing to actually sew for me! Victory! Things were looking good!!! The dolls were small, I wanted them that way, but let me tell you, I had not anticipated how hard it is to turn canvas inside out – my fingers are still sore.

Once I got the bodies sewn and turned inside out I stuffed them with soft fabric scraps and hot glued the bottoms shut. I did this because the hand sewing would not work and it created a flat surface for them to stand up on their own. Then I got to painting. I just meandered through the day with these little dolls and the freedom of not caring how the turned out was so lovely. I have to admit, I wish I did not have work in just a few more days. I am so in love with rest and relaxation, but alas, car payments, utilities and food need buying, so I can’t be quitting the cubicle… Bah! Perhaps the January 8 meeting is the beginning of my future of staying at home and just creating art days. Yes? I think maybe. Time will tell.

In the meantime, here is what I created. Did you really think they would not be dogs? HA! I have issues! ISSUES people! Of course they were of dogs! My stupid, silly, love em to death dogs! And of course Sydney, the beta fish. Sydney recently went to the big fish bowl in the sky, but we loved her a lot and she was one of the gang – so she had to be created too!

I have to say, for not caring if they were awful, looking silly little dolls, I am in love with them. I love their complete and utter imperfection the very most! They are crooked-y and lean-y and technically about as incorrect as they could be. And that is why I think I love them so much. Plus, I see my dogs in them so much. Silly Rufus Goofus, Sweet Lucy Goosey and Pretty Sklyer Ann. And of course, Sydney, the happy beta fish that would follow you as you moved your face from one side of the bowl to the other.

In one other happy, HAPPY note – my kids come home to me tonite!! They have been in El Paso, Texas since Dec 20 and I get my babies back today!!! I am SO EXCITED!!!

I feel like 2009 is going to be another wonderful year. 2008 wasn’t too shabby for me at all and I am really looking forward to the surprises and challenges in 2009. Here is to all of us having a wonderful new year!