Wednesday, January 27, 2016

3,000 Miles Back West. Wait, what? NO, I KNOW, RIGHT?

New Years Eve is one of my favorite holidays. Okay, if you know anything about me, you know every holiday is one of my favorite holidays. I admit it (I can't hide it) I love celebration! There are so many great things about being alive, I like taking a moment to celebrate each little detail. In recent years holidays have exploded. It seems like there is a day for everything now. A day for pirates, a day for donuts, a day for cats, a day for black cats--I love it.

New Years really does rank pretty high for me, though. A pause to reflect, a deep breath to consider the future. I like making resolutions, and some years I even keep them! And if I don't keep them, I repeat them and try again. One of my repeat resolutions this year is "blog more." I love blogging, and in 2010-2013 I was better about blogging regularly. I have not posted in almost a year, but I have a great excuse:


Surprise! It's a girl! ...And it's nine months old! We had our second child last April, and named her Guinevere Pamela--Gwen for short. I promised myself that my first new blog post would be her birth story, like the one I wrote when Luke was born. I have been chipping away at it, a paragraph here and there, for... Nine months. It's close to being done, and I will share it soon!

And if you read Breaking Cat News, you know that I've been hard at work writing my comic this year too! Between writing a comic and a new baby, plus a very active two year old, blogging totally fell apart. Especially when I gave myself an excuse to put it off, in the form of writing a picture perfect birth story for Gwen to read one day, look away from the screen, and whisper in awe, "Wow, Mom. I do feel loved and validated."

So, instead, I'm just going to fall back into it today and let you know what's going on in our lives, because it's a lot!

2015 was a great year. Our daughter was born. Luke turned two. Ryan and I worked hard! Ryan took on multiple contracts, including one with the toy company Hasbro! He got to work on Play Doh commercials, ads for the new Star Wars toys, Monopoly commercials, Nerf commercials. ...A lot of toy commercials, if I'm being honest. But how cool, right? You can watch one of them here, if you like; Ryan edited this Nerf gun commercial.

As I said, I wrote Breaking Cat News. I took a two month break when Gwen was born for baby cuddles, sleepless nights, and zombie mornings, but couldn't stay away for long. In the daytime I cared for our children, and most nights starting at 8pm I wrote, sketched, inked, and painted the strip.  BCN was syndicated by Universal Uclick in 2014, and many new readers found the strip through their GoComics site in 2015. During the year I added a few new characters, wrote a Halloween special in addition to a second Christmas special, and got to connect with people all over the world about cats! In December, Uclick flew me out to Kansas City to visit their offices and discuss the BCN book! (YES, I SAID BOOK!!! SO EXCITED).

SPOILER ALERT: Everyone at Uclick is amazing and the book comes out this May!

Two days before I flew out to Kansas City, Ryan was contacted about a job opportunity in California. And so at the beginning of December, I was in Kansas City for three days, came home, and Ryan left and was in California for two days. It was all very exciting and very stressful. It felt like all the work we had each put in during 2015 was (hopefully) beginning to pay off. I spent the days Ryan was away watching Christmas specials with the kiddos, cuddling the cats, and hoping for the best.

And then, a couple of days before Christmas, Ryan was offered the job in California!

SPOILER ALERT: I am writing this blog post in California!

It was hard to break the news to family. For almost two years we'd been living in Rhode Island, close to our parents, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and that had been wonderful. I'm really glad we were able to spend some quality time with our family, especially while Luke and Gwen were so little. Leaving them was awful, and if I could have found a way to trick my Mom into a box and smuggle her into our storage pods, I would have. But, you know... kidnapping charges.

Still, great time with family aside, we had an unexpected tough time readjusting to Rhode Island. We missed the west coast very much, and Ryan missed having a full time job vs working contracts. He was having great experiences and getting to work on interesting projects, but a full time job with benefits is hard to beat. If you've read this blog for a while or know us in real life, you know that in 2012 Ryan was laid off from a job he loved two weeks after we bought our first home, when I was six months pregnant with our son. A nightmare scenario for sure, and it sent our lives into a financial tailspin for a couple of years. We eventually made the hard choice to sell our house and move back to Rhode Island to recover, financially and emotionally. We put a lot of hard work in, we supported each other, we cheered each other on, we didn't let each other give up on our goals. We shared an office in our home, we worked back to back on projects almost every night, covered in sweat, tears, and cats. Back on our feet and ready for the next chapter, this job offer could not have come at a better time.

And so, Ryan accepted it. We had just about three weeks to pack up our entire apartment, the kids, the cats, and get ourselves back to the west coast.

Luke and I on Christmas morning at our Aunt Joanie's!

The kids on New Year's Eve. The noisemakers were a BIG hit!

It's just not a party until some girl loses her shoe.

Lupin helping us pack the apartment up for California.

Lupin continues to help....

Elvis sensed change immediately and needed extra cuddles early.
We both did, honestly....

Ryan packing his Pengo arcade cabinet!

Packing went quickly, if not feverishly, and we were lucky to have some great friends help us to move everything into our storage pods! (NOT TO GET ALL GOLDEN GIRLS ON YOU, BUT THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND NATE, CHRISTINE, WILL, AMY, EMILY, JOSEPH, AND AUNT MAUREEN). We decided that Ryan would drive our car with the cats to California, and I would fly with the kids. I was nervous all over again, just as I was when we moved back from Seattle. Being so far apart from your partner is rough, even if it's just for a few days. I love Ryan like crazy. He's my best friend, and watching his little dot get further and further away on Google Maps as I looked up whatever town he was driving through was hard.

I stayed with our Aunt Anne for a few days, and then boarded a plane with Luke, Gwen, and my awesome sister in law Megan. Ryan arrived in California about seven hours before we did, and got the corporate housing we're staying in ready with groceries and flowers--since he'd been on the road during our six year anniversary!

Ryan the morning he left with the cats for the west coast.

Ryan letting Puck out of his carrier to stretch his legs during a road break.

Luke watching the planes at the airport.

Luke with my fabulous sister in law, Megan, who flew with us
to help me with the kids, thank goodness!

Luke and Pengo on the plane.
(That's the real 'Fuzzy Penguin' toy, if you read BCN!)

Gwen and Luke on the plane.

Plane selfies!

Luke decided his penguin could fly during our layover. 

Reunited in California with Daddy!

Lupin wasted no time in exploring the corporate apartment we're staying in.

And that's about where we are now! We've been in corporate housing for almost two weeks. It is a beautiful apartment and it feels a little like being on vacation, which is very nice. Still, I can't wait until we find a new home to settle into and we can be surrounded by our own things in our own space. Plus, Ryan got me a gnome lamp for Christmas and I MEAN C'MON NOW, I NEED TO UNPACK MY NEW GNOME LAMP.

This is a huge change, one that I'm definitely still processing. It happened so fast, there wasn't a lot of time to pause or reflect. Everything had to get into boxes, the boxes had to get into the pods, and we had to get onto the plane, and.... Here we are! I'm incredibly relieved that the move was without event and we are all safe and sound and together. I can be anywhere, as long as we are safe and sound and together. And the cats don't hate us too much.

Elvis settling in. He appreciates that the furniture matches his fur.

Pucky kept his morning bird watching appointment.

Luke missed his buddy Lupin.

Luke and Pengo watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Gwen playing on the floor.

An exhausted selfie I took as the toll of the move crept in. I felt a little tired,
a little homesick, but still noticed how great the lighting was and just had to click a pic.
(That's how I know I'm okay. When I stop noticing fabulous lighting, just close the coffin).

Gwen chilling with her girls.

I had to take a break from writing BCN, since 1. My scanning equipment had to move across the country without me. And 2. Mentally, this is a lot, and I need to take it in and rest and settle before I can be funny again. The readers have understood this for the most part and been amazing. Readers have been leaving comments on my studio FB page and Twitter of encouragement and support, and it's meant so much to me. If you have done that, I can't thank you enough.

I'm still getting Luke and Gwen back into a routine and feeling happy (and aside from Luke's chaotic naps, they've both adjusted great!) I'm spending a lot of cuddle time helping the cats are feel secure. Lupin is thrilled at a new space to check out, Puck is comfortable finally, and Elvis in a surprise move no one could have predicted has been much more relaxed and happier since we arrived in California. He was always wound really tight in our apartment back in Rhode Island, we're not sure why. Ryan jokes that "100 years of history to sense and sniff and investigate" probably had him overloaded. Maybe Tilly was teasing him (that makes more sense if you read the comic!) Whatever the reason, he has been having a great time and I'm so relieved!

And so, there's my first blog post for 2016! Hopefully I'll have Gwen's birth story to share soon, because it's a fun story. I've been INCREDIBLY lucky to have two great, easy births. You'll never like me again if you had a tough labor (I'm joking, please still like me if you've had a tough labor. You're my hero). In the meantime, wish us luck on finding a new space to call home! I'm hoping that a month from now we will be settling into "home." I'm also hoping that I can start working on BCN again and have the comic up and running at the beginning of February. If you miss reading it, I promise, I miss writing it. I've been brainstorming headlines nonstop, and I've got stories planned for most of the year already!

Plus, remember, the first BCN book comes out in May!!! Ahhh!!! SCREAM AND JUMP UP AND DOWN WITH ME, AHHHHHHH!!!!

2016 is already... Really different! I hope it stays a good different!

Happy 2016, everyone, a few weeks late!

Lupin vowing to catch those giant cat toys in the distance....