Carrying too many feathers (you mean I’m not immortal?)

“If you’re carrying all the feathers you can carry, can you carry one more?”

A few weeks ago, I had a wake-up call–I had to say no to a project.

It was an art project, and usually I can knock out art projects no problem. This one sounded really fun–draw pages for a graphic novel. It used the Disney style, which isn’t too difficult to learn. I started practicing.

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As my art inched from “suckitude” toward “maybe passable”, the art director informed me that I would have to draw three pages a day.

Three pages a day doesn’t sound like much–especially since each page has a maximum of four panels. That should be easy.

Then I tried it, and timed myself.

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Sketching, inking, and basic coloring took me two solid hours. For one crappy little comic gag. Possibly one panel.

I have five small children, one of whom is five months old, and gets tired of sitting in my lap at the computer. While I could scrape two hours out of the day for one page, I don’t have six hours for three pages. The currency just doesn’t exist. And I’m pretty darn good at time management.

It was with massive amounts of regret and humiliation that I had to back out of the project. Back when I was single and lonely, I could have knocked a project like this out of the park. But today? I’ve got too many feathers to carry. This would have been like dropping a brick into my armload of feathers.

POOF.

Being mortal is such a hassle. What do you MEAN I have limited mental resources, and only 12 hours in the day? That is so not fair. Sleep is for the weak, right?

As it turns out, my life right now isn’t as permeable as it used to be. Lesson learned. Sigh.


My latest book, a historical paranormal romance called Outfoxing the Wolf (it has a werefox) is now available on all retailers, and is .99 for a limited time! Grab it now!

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A short trip to the Phoenix Zoo

I’d been wanting to go to the Phoenix Zoo for a really long time. But with it being so hot last year, and me big and pregnant, we didn’t get to do a thing. So, now that the baby’s big enough to take places, and the weather is cool, I finally finagled a trip.

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Crossing the bridge on the way in, we stopped to look at ducks, grebes, fish, and turtles. It was a great start to the trip.
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The reptile house in the Desert area was small, and fun. This was the big lizard exhibit, with chuckwallas and collared lizards.
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Leezards!
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Checking out the collared peccary pen.
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Peeg
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“Dayum, them’s some big birds.”
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Golden eagles are big. These ones had just been fed, and were sitting possessively on whatever unfortunate animal they’d been fed. The other one was busy ripping its meal to shreds.
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The savanna area was really impressive. There were also a zillion people hanging out right here.
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The giraffes kept galloping around. I wonder if the noisy people upset them. They look like they’re galloping in slow motion, but they cover, like, twenty feet to a stride.

We only did one tiny corner of the park by noon, and the munchkins were tired and hungry, so we called it a day. There’s a whole bunch of awesome stuff we didn’t see (like the petting zoo), so we’re definitely going back.

A tiny Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was tricky this year–it was my due date, and I always deliver babies ahead of the date. My parents came to town the week before, to watch kids, and celebrate our youngest’ second birthday.

   
   
We had a very nice week leading up to Thanksgiving–well, aside from the tension of waiting for me to go into labor.

By Tuesday, though, we were all getting anxious. It was nearly time for my folks to head home, and there was nobody else to watch the kids. So we all started praying, friends and family alike.

I went into labor at 2 AM Wednesday morning, and the baby was born by 10 AM.

   
 

Her name is Sophia, and she was 8 lbs even. The doctor kept laughing at me because she was so big.

The hospital released me on Thursday, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. It was lovely to be home and eat food that wasn’t hospital fare. Give me calories, man! I’ve got a baby to feed!

Then my folks headed home, and life is settling down. I’m very, very thankful that everything worked out so perfectly.

Our best Halloween Ever

Goodness, it’s been a busy week! We’re a week into November, and I’m only just getting around to writing about Halloween!

My son proclaimed it to be our best Halloween ever. Here’s what went down:

Since Halloween was on Saturday this year, all the kids in our apartment complex ran around like crazy things, wearing costumes. My munchkins stayed outside almost all day, and had a great time doing it.

I carved a Minecraft creeper pumpkin, by request.

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Small people decorated small pumpkins with markers.

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When it got dark, I barely had a chance to shovel dinner into them. They were dragging me out the door to go trick or treating before I had a chance to clear the table. I had to slow them down enough to get the jack o’ lantern lit, and our obligatory candy offering placed outside the front door to appease any kids we didn’t happen to be roaming with.

Because my son had been outside all day, he knew which apartments were giving out candy–this is always tricky, because not everybody decorates for Halloween. It’s kind of a crapshoot. This year there were 5 places giving out candy, an improvement over last year’s 3. They knew they weren’t going to get many more visitors, so they just dumped their candy into the kids’ bags.

After that it was dark, and they had a couple pounds of candy each, so we came home. They began feasting on candy, and I put on all the Homestar Runner Halloween cartoons. It’s just not Halloween without a Witch’s Bwew.

All in all, they had a fantastic Halloween, and I barely did a thing. The best kind!

The rest of the week has been pleasant. Nobody’s sick yet, and the weather has been deliciously stormy and cold. They got 5-10 inches of snow in Flagstaff two days ago, and you can feel it on the wind.

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Accidental water adventures

Over the weekend, we headed down to the mall in Chandler. We thought we’d get there right at ten, beat the crowds, grab our purchases, and get home in time for lunch.

As it turned out, on Sundays, the mall opens at 10, but the shops open at 11.

So there we were, wandering a mostly-empty mall with the mall-walkers, unable to do our errand. So we wound up in the outdoors food court, which had been massively remodeled since we were there.

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Among other things, they had replaced the fountain that never worked with a splash pad.

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So the kids spent a happy half an hour getting really, really wet.

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We’d never been to a splash pad before, and since it was so early, we had the place to ourselves. The kids had a blast.

Then the thunderstorms started rolling in. I snapped a picture of a pretty decent rainbow, when it was raining, but the sun was low enough to shine straight under the clouds. Weird weather!

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Visit from a house gecko

The other morning, I went into the kitchen, opened the dishwasher, and shrieked. Some large, skin-colored creature flashed across the open dishwasher door and vanished into the crack between the dishwasher and the floor.

Having battled cockroaches all summer, I assumed that’s what this was–a large, pale roach. Or, worse, a scorpion, although I haven’t seen one yet out here.

I wore shoes whenever I went in the kitchen for the rest of the day.

The next morning, I again opened the dishwasher. This time, the creature fell from the gap between the top of the door and the counter and lay on its side like it was dead. Now I got a look at it–it was a little pinkish lizard!

After a minute of excitedly telling my curious family the identity of the mystery creature, the lizard sat up and looked around. Then he foolishly ran into the dishwasher, where I captured him.

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Here’s a better picture from Wikimedia:

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Turns out he’s called a Mediterranean house gecko, and they’re an invasive species here in Arizona. They love roaches, and obviously our local population had attracted him. I felt bad, though, because I have boric acid everywhere, and eventually the poisoned roaches would have killed him. We released him in the bushes outside.

So that was our lizard adventure this weekend! With the weather changing, we keep getting odd creatures in the house. At least it’s not mice!

Kids at the playground

They’ve been doing a lot of renovations around our apartment complex lately. One of them included putting these bouncy toys into our (fairly lackluster) playground.

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Naturally the kids attached themselves to the new toys.

Here is H’s “everybody else is on the toys” face.

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Easily fixed.

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And the other two, galloping along on what’s either a dinosaur or a dragon, I’m not sure which. C adores dragons, so she thinks this toy belongs to her.

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It’s been nice and cool the last few mornings, and we’ve tried to make the most of it by getting outside. It does make for much calmer times at school.

Snapshots from our week

Here’s a bunch of random pictures in which I chronicled our doings for the week.

Daddy teaches the kids the basics of War Machine. Assembling and painting the mini models has been a great art project.
Daddy teaches the kids the basics of War Machine. Assembling and painting the mini models has been a great art project.

Everybody watches Daddy play Final Fantasy 14.
Everybody watches Daddy play Final Fantasy 14.
A giant dust storm hit us shortly before a giant thunderstorm--one in the morning, and a bigger one that night. It was glorious.
A giant dust storm hit us shortly before a giant thunderstorm–one in the morning, and a bigger one that night. It was glorious.
It's hard to take a picture of wind. Here it was about 30 MPH with 50 MPH gusts. Then it started raining.[/
It’s hard to take a picture of wind. Here it was about 30 MPH with 50 MPH gusts. Then it started raining.[/
 A fun after-school activity--Throw The Paper Airplanes Into the Ceiling Fan.
A fun after-school activity–Throw The Paper Airplanes Into the Ceiling Fan.

As you can see, a nice, busy week. I didn’t get any pictures of us doing school, but believe me, school was done. My oldest daughter has decided that dictation is her favorite subject, while my son has taken to multiplication without protest.

Surprise downpour

This morning, all of us were awakened out of a sound sleep by a crack of thunder like a gunshot. No rain, just loud snarly thunder.

It remained cloudy all morning with various rumbles of thunder. I did school with the kids, then decided to take the trash out.

I had taken the toddler with me. Imagine our surprise, when halfway to the dumpster, the heavens opened and it began to pour! Big drops, coming fast.

By the time we got to the dumpster and ran back, she and I were drenched. She thought it was the greatest fun ever, and stayed outside to play in the water.

 

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Here they are catching water from the rain gutters, which transformed into miniature waterfalls.

The tree by our apartment was full of grackles and goldfinches who were all taking showers. Singing, happy birds, flicking their tails and fluttering their wings, hopping everywhere to catch more drops.

Makes for an exciting, outdoors kind of morning!