Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview and a Give Away over at Dancing Lily!

I'm the featured artist over on Dancing Lily today! Shannon, the lovely blogger behind Dancing Lily, contacted me a few days ago asking if I would like to be the artist kicking off her new artist inspiration series, and I was thrilled to accept!

She interviewed me for the blog, and she is hosting a give away where you can win one of my 8x10 prints from the shop, your choice! You can check out the interview and enter to win a print here!

And stay to explore the rest of Dancing Lily, and Shannon's adventures in photography, design, and motherhood. As a new Mommy-to-be, I love the post listing the items a newborn and Mommy actually need with good information and great humor! (Plus there are yummy gluten free recipes, and who doesn't love a new recipe to try out?) 

Friday, February 22, 2013

8 Months!

This past Friday, I hit the 8th month mark in our pregnancy! Which means I still have 8 weeks to go because pregnancy math makes no sense.

8 months in; hubby, baby, and I!

We've been killing the time by taking advantage of the many classes our hospital offers. We took a child birth class, an infant care class, a breast feeding class, and an Infant/Child CPR class.

Ryan can hold a doll. WE GOT THIS.

We took the labor class first, because I was the most nervous about that one. My original birth plan was "get an epidural at week 38 and black out until they put the baby in my arms". By the time we arrived at the class, a dear loved one (who is a wonder woman and my hero) had given birth unexpectedly fast; she and her husband delivered the baby themselves at home. While by all accounts this was a beautiful and empowering experience for them, new fears set in and I modified our birth plan to "check into the hospital at week 30, drink juice and watch day time television for two months."

When we got to the class, I made Ryan promise to keep me in sight. I was afraid I might cowardly-lion-it out of the room half way through. It wasn't so bad though!

Except for some of the videos....

It wasn't so great either, but I felt much better after taking it. We were taught what to expect in the different phases of labor, pain management, the different outcomes to mentally prepare for, and shown the practices and policies of our hospital in action. Some of the unknown was pulled away from the ball of fear bearing down on me, and I left feeling much more confident.

Plus, they gave us informative books with great diagrams.

"Who's Daddy's fat little frog?"

AGAIN, if pregnancy is so natural, explain to me why our bodies fail
to take our bladders into consideration?

In one booklet on comfortable resting positions during pregnancy, a series of pictures really cracked me up. I have to share them. This woman is actually pregnant, you can tell by the misery tearing apart every inch of her face.

Even rocking her mime look, this woman right here is the realest. 

This is me. Every day. Only no pants and way more crying.

"Is there anything I can get you, dear?"
"Killlllll meeeeeeeee...."

One of the best classes we took was the Infant/Child CPR class. It went over a lot of safety issues, including ways to prevent SIDS. We knew some of them and had already decided we won't have bumpers in the crib and the baby will doze in a sleep sack instead of blankets. Friends with little ones had warned us about blanket dangers, and praised sleep sacks highly.

It helps that they're cute as heck.

Still, if you're like me and you have a vagina and access to the Internet, chances are you're on Pinterest. I've spent the past year and a half pinning adorable nurseries, most of which showcased adorable bedding sets. I'll admit it--the nursery decor has been very high on my list of priorities. (WHAT ARE BABY WIPES?) Even knowing we did not really need a bedding set, Ryan and I still initially registered for one.

Before Infant/Child CPR class, you see the glossy ads and sweet pins like this:

"It's cool," We thought. "We'll just drape the quilt over the side. Adorable!"

Then you go to the safety class, and you learn more than you ever thought to worry about.

Did you know sometimes the soft, squishy mobiles fall in the middle of the night
and go down the baby's throat? It's happened. They say to save those for changing tables.

And suddenly all the glossy ads and sweet pins look like this:


Ryan and I exhanged nervous looks in class, frantic that our CPR dummy was never going to make it. We went home and immediately took all the cute bedding off our registries. We have fitted crib sheets, and one of his aunts is knitting us an Afghan. We can carefully place it over the rocking chair or cuddle the baby in it during the day when we can see him. That will be lovely. Maybe our parents all did it differently, maybe we all survived. But you know what? Overwhelming love aside, I won't even let someone slam a door when I'm baking a cake in case it collapses in the oven. There's no way I'm risking harm to a person I made from scratch in my own body.

And so, instead of a precious keepsake-quilt-turned-1950s-monster-movie-villain, we decided to get fabric for a few fancy (and safe) swaddling cloths. Only, of course, we didn't like any of the woodland themed fabric at the stores, so we decided to design our own on Spoonflower.

Some paintings for different patterns.
Ryan was really mad woodland prints never have bats, so ours will.

If you're an artsy creative type, check out Spoonflower. My pal Bonnie pointed me in its direction, and I have been dreaming up fabric patterns since. I am really excited to try it! I'm not the only one. It's pretty cool when you can tell your husband about a textiles website, and his response is, "That sounds awesome! Send me the link, I want to design some fabric too."

We plan on designing/sewing/embroidering most of the nursery decorations ourselves. I want to make a few rag dolls based on the woodland creatures in our fabric patterns, to sit on a high shelf patiently waiting to play until our son is just a wee bit older (like, toddler age). I'm going to embroider some hoop art for the walls too, if my nervous energy holds strong.

The cats can tell something is changing, and they have been all over me lately. I usually wake up with one of the boys curled around my belly, and Lupin has pawed back at a kick or two. They have been right in the thick of it as usual, lending their paws to help.

Puck has volunteered to get my baby holding muscles toned.

Lupin and Elvis keep me company while I practice Sad Pregnant Mime's
comfortable pregnancy positions. (This is the 'Crying in Bed with Fig Newtons' pose).

Lupin and Puck testing out the changing table we scored
at Good Will for $30. Brand new, great condition! YEAH!

That's our 8th month update. Baby is doing great, nervousness is building to a reasonable level, classes have been fun, and we cannot wait to meet our little man!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fox Wedding

A month or two ago, I heard a beautiful scrap of folklore. I follow Jessica Marquez aka Miniature Rhino and author of Stitched Gifts on Instagram. She posted a gorgeous photo of rain pouring through the California sunshine, and it was mentioned on the thread "when it rains like that, foxes are having a wedding".

That struck me as incredibly lovely and fiercely adorable. I pledged to paint it on the thread, and the sweet notion of foxes marrying under raindrops and sunshine rolled around my mind since. I sketched a few scenes in quiet moments, and this past week I finished an illustration of a fox wedding in the rainshine.

Fox Wedding

Detail of the Bride

Detail of the Groom

The pencil sketch


I confess, I had a harder time scanning this painting and creating a print than I usually do. The pale yellow clouds and soft blue raindrops were nearly lost in the scan, despite however I tweaked the brightness and contrast levels on the scanner. Finally I brought them down to about negative 40 each, and adjusted the levels (several times) in Photoshop to bring the clouds and raindrops back. Real fascinating stuff, I know, but important when it comes to accurately reproducing a painting for prints.

The actual painting is a little smoother, as you can see in the photograph below.

This is the first painting I've completed start to finish in our new home, and I think I'm going to hold onto it. I very rarely hang my own paintings on the wall, preferring to stack them jealously away in a "sell someday when I'm ready" pile, like a deranged squirrel hoarding acorns too precious to eat (I'm going to start offering my watercolor paintings in the shop sometime this year, I promise. 2013, that's the year. Promise. Hold me to it!). However, this being the first painting in our new home, and being so light and happy and celebratory, I feel like it belongs here, in this new promising place, at the start of our new chapter.

I posted the print in the shop a few days ago, you can find it here. It can be found in larger sizes here on Society6, too! I've started selling larger prints of my work on Society6, and I've enjoyed it so far. They can print on a greater scale than I can, and they have so many options for printing. They sell laptop skins, cellphone cases, and tote bags but my favorite design option by far are their... throw pillows?

I'm obsessed. And just so you know, I have not sold one. Plenty of prints, cellphone cases, and a few laptop skins, but not one single throw pillow. They are not a lucrative idea. In fact, they are a ludicrous idea. A ludicrous idea I am crazy about. I have plans to design 2-3 for the baby's nursery to casually set on the rocking chair. OH NO BIG DEAL, THAT'S JUST SOME THROW PILLOW I DESIGNED. HOW MANY HAVE I SOLD? 2-3. TO MYSELF.

We have a lot of plans for the nursery, which I'll share in my next post. I'm glad I decided to be so honest about my pregnancy experience in my post last month. Several women came forward on the blog, FB, and Twitter to say they really appreciated it; gals who had been there and girls sick of pregnant ladies with frozen grins telling them how amazing they feel. (To be fair, they probably do feel amazing, a lot of pregnant women have a blast...I'm just not one of them).

A couple of young women also expressed their fears about pregnancy to me, saying they worry about morning sickness and labor, etc. Those fears? Totally normal and a big reason why I waited until my 30s to have a child. Trust me: When you're ready, you will care more about the baby than yourself. That's all it takes, and that's how women get through it.

Tonight we tried the local Chinese take out (it was good!). Whenever I choose my fortune cookie at the end of the meal, I try to focus on certain topic before I crack it open, thinking, "This is what the fortune is about." Tonight as I picked up my cookie, I thought to myself, "This fortune will be about the baby".

Nailed it. High five, cookie!