Saturday, December 31, 2005

Looking Back and Looking Forward...

New Year’s Eve always makes me feel reflective. Perhaps it is something about having a new year with all the possibilities stretching out before us that inspires me to dream about what the coming 365 days will hold.

Tonight we are staying in with friends joining us for a night of games, good snacks and great company. Mom and John are also here, so the girls are thrilled to have grandparents around.

It’s funny how hard it has been to blog lately. Things will inspire me to write and then I get interrupted. I am going to try to change that for the New Year and go back to writing smaller entries more often.

One of the most exciting things to happen over the holidays was reading the latest Monica Ferris book that I received as a present. It is set at the show in Nashville, which I am getting ready for, so I could picture everything very clearly. When I got to page 190, you should have heard the SQUEEEEEEEEEEEAL that I let out upon seeing my company name in print. So silly, but incredibly fun as well. When she mentioned the line about a bunch of us being dressed up in garb... I had to laugh. At least she didn’t have me running through the lobby with my sword!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! May it be a year of dreams and inspiration for everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays... Celebrate the Unexpected!

Response the the fun I’ve tried to have with the website this month has been gratifying. Life should be a adventure and looking for ways to celebrate the unexpected, as well as longing for what is expected. Tonight was lovely at church. The girls sang and played the tone chimes with their choir. Nick and I sat together in the audience, without wiggly daughters, for the very first time. Now everything waits in a still hush. The girls finally asleep and dreaming of presents tomorrow, my house is awash in the promise of advent now fulfilled. Nick and I have sipped on the elderberry cordial that I made from the bounty of our bush this fall... and life is good. May we never stop looking for wonder in our world or celebrating the unexpected!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Calm Before The Storm?

I can’t believe December has flown by even faster than November. Where has the time gone? Rushing from one event to another... from Christmas concerts and staff parties to Guides and Sparks and Junior Choir... My parents once warned me that the years would go by faster as I got older and I didn’t believe them until now!

Today is the last day of quiet in my office before the girls are home for the holidays. Nick works until noon on Friday, but I am keeping the girls home for that last half day since Bethany actually would have been dismissed and back on the bus 2 hours after getting to school! I’d much rather have a PJ/Princess morning and stay in our jammies.

I always look forward to the Christmas Break with a sense of joy and also resignation. I will work on stitching now since that is easier to do up in the living room with the rest of the family. I will look forward to not waking up to an alarm every morning, but I will also miss the quiet of the house as I work on the computer when everyone is out at school.

The show in Nashville will be here before I know it! I am still trying to finalize which designs I will actually invest in printing for this show. THe tougher market right now has forced me to be much more selective about what I release, which can be a good thing. By acting as my own quality control before printing designs, I can be sure that the very best of what I produce makes it into the hands of stitchers. Quality vs. Quantity. I must keep that in mind with holiday cookies as well!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Magic of Storm Days...

Today was supposed to be back to back chaos. One complicated meeting and then racing over to church to help put on the Advent Retreat that I helped to plan. A snowstorm and high winds have canceled school for the day, and also the first meeting. With the roads a little iffy in the wind, I decided not to risk venturing out for the retreat either. My minister and I had touched base by phone this morning to see what we’d do and she urged me to stay home if things looked bad. Since our street only JUST got plowed out and the winds are picking up a bit, I decided to listen to that little voice that said “Be Still!”

My kids, however, are out in the backyard right now, bundled up to the gills for a romp in the snow before the winds escalate to the 90 km hour high the weather channel is calling for. Their best friends from across the street have joined them to give Lori-Ann a chance to rest. She’s been fighting pneumonia and the last thing she need right now is two energetic boys underfoot.

This is one of those moments that reminds me why I chose to do what I do from home. It helps ease the gloomy feeling from yesterday when the exchange rate on my Hoffman cheque was so pitiful and the Postal Service announced that rates on everything are going up AGAIN. Snow days can be a magical way of life telling you to just listen to the world around you and move at a slower pace. We modern humans tend to want to impose our will on the planet and have everything to be “business as usual” no matter what the weather is doing. I’m not convinced that this is always best for our bodies... or our souls.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


The weather is getting colder and I do find myself wrapping my hands around warm mugs of tea more often, but these past few days, I have also felt as if I am frozen in one spot, unsure of where to move next. Not in a bad way, necessarily, just unsure.

We did have some fun on Saturday and have added a new member to our family! While going into the pet store after groceries, just so the girls could have a Pet Fix, we discovered that a new shipment of baby dwarf hamsters had just arrived that week. They were also different markings from Wuffles. I picked up one tiny one who was white with black spots who promptly tried to leap from my hands but didn’t bite the way Nipper had when we bought our first hamster last fall (who passed away after only 5 months). We are pretty sure that Jellybean (full name Jumping Jellybean Jaws according to my girls) is a little girl. she is SO tiny compared to Wuffles who has been with us for 9 months and is palm sized. Jellybean is just over 2 inches! Since we already had 2 cages, we decided to get her. Nick insists it was IMPOSSIBLE to resist 3 females looking at him with big pleading eyes!! I’ve also been told that Jellybean is in lieu of a sweater and I get this present early, but I don’t mind at all. Now begins the fun of making her even tamer and hopefully she will be as friendly as Wuffles as she learns that hands can be nice instead of scary things that scoop you out of your cage!

Just getting that all down in this entry had made me smile and feel a bit unfrozen... but I still feel like I am waiting for something, I just don’t know quite what....

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Peace... Quiet... and Health AT LAST!

I’m not really sure where November went. Suddenly the end of the month is here and I am finally able to get some large blocks of work done now that Nick is back at work and I have my voice back. Last week was horrible with both of us home, feeling under the weather, yet still dealing with 2 energetic girls and all their activities. Erin’s volleyball team placed 2nd in her division, but I have yet to hear if that means more matches for playoffs etc. Swimming lessons and gymnastics just wrapped up until after the holidays and there are only 2 more weeks for Guides and Sparks. I can’t wait for the holidays just to relax a bit.

I feel way behind in deciding my lineup for Nashville, but I know that sometimes being backed into a deadline gets me to pick and narrow the field. Luggage weight restrictions and budget mean that I can’t really release more than 3 designs for that show, so I have to try to decide what stitchers will enjoy most... and that’s not always easy! At least it does keep me on my toes!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Baby Steps and Giant Leaps...

It was a whirlwind weekend... the culmination of almost 2 weeks worth of work on two iMovie slide shows for church and drawing a 36 inch square panel on Mylar drafting film so that the families who attended our Advent Festival could colour it in. It will now be able to be taped into one of the plain glass windows at church for the Advent season and easily removed afterwards.

The hardest part of all of this was leaving Nick at home for so many of the special events. This was all supposed to be family time.. and yet, you cannot cry over spilt milk. I can just be thankful that he is getting better in baby steps. Each day we see a bit of improvement and so things look hopeful. It could be so much worse. I am also learning to do a lot of things I always let him do, though I think I will draw the line at using the snow blower!! I have that artist’s fear about things that could chop off fingers. We may just call around and find out what it would cost to have our driveway plowed out this winter so that there is no risk Nick could hurt his back again while it is still healing.

I’ve also been very busy with freelance writing for our local paper. It had been a toss-up between that or supply teaching for extra income to replace what would have come from TLC and Hobby Lobby. The advantage of the writing is that it can be done at home, after the girls are in bed if necessary and I don’t have to set up after-school daycare for the girls on a sporadic basis. You don’t get a lot of warning for supply teaching, so it is hard to know when you will need the after-school care. Since sending them my resume and writing samples, I have been pleasantly busy with stories as we move into the holiday rush. Funny how all those years of copy writing just leap right back to my fingertips!

So this week will be a combination of baby steps and giant steps forward... and maybe some bunny hops in between!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Too Much To Do!

I thought that once I got through the shows in October, I’d have a breather, but for some reason stuff is colliding on top of my desk again!! To make up for some of the income that won’t be coming in from Hobby Lobby anymore, I’ve gone back to doing some advertorial writing for our local paper. Some clients just don’t like to get back to people on the phone and I find that frustrating with tight deadlines.

I’m also editing a movie to play in church this Sunday. iMovie on my Mac will let me add type and music to photos and create a wonderful slide show that I can then burn to DVD. The learning curve on this has been a bit vertical, but I am pleased with the results. What was supposed to be a whole committee working on this ended up just being me, with some help from two ladies who dug through all the old photos for me to scan in.

Nick’s back is still really locked. He went for his first physio today and is now able to walk/shuffle on his own without holding onto walls, but I don’t know how he’s going to go back to work on Monday. We see our family doctor for a follow-up tomorrow, so we’ll see what she says. Meanwhile, I am getting used to the interrupted sleep and having him underfoot during the day... but I’d give almost anything to know that he’ll get better!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Picking Up The Pieces...

It is hard watching someone you love try to inch around the house when normally they are so full of energy. All I can think of is how this must be for those who have their lived turned completely upside down by something permanent. We know, at least we hope, that Nick will get better. I see an improvement just since yesterday, but it has been so hard to see the man I love in pain and feeling helpless.

This has also been one of those coming of age moments for Erin. She is old enough to be scared by Daddy not being the big, strong invincible hero, yet also so sympathetic and helpful to me getting stuff done around the house. Both girls have been such incredible helpers that it has made a rocky weekend bearable.

I’d also forgotten what it was like to sleep in fits and starts. Helping Nick turn over or fetching water bottles in the wee hours of the morning is like being back on those 2 am feeding schedules! If I survived it twice, I can survive it again.

I am SO glad I started the blog about hopeful quotes (my blog called CandlesInTheDarkness) because searching for positive things to share with others has helped me too!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Clean Shed...Broken Husband!

There is a reason why marriage vows include those lines “For Better or Worse, In Sickness and In Health”!

Nick and I spent 3 hours this morning cleaning out the shed. We don’t have a garage attached to the house, so we’ve had a “baby barn” as they are called here in the Maritimes, or shed, to hold the seasonal items such as bikes, snowblowers, holiday decorations etc.

Lately, the shed has started to resemble my office- a place to stuff things until you need them. Since it was getting hard to move around in there to find things, we decided to haul almost everything out and really purge!! Part of my de-STUFFing project.

It was very productive, if somewhat grueling, to realize just how many half empty boxes of things had been thrown in there that, once organized, took up a LOT less space. We filled the van with a load for the dump, found several boxes to go to the church rummage sale of books or outgrown shoes that weren’t needed anymore (ever notice how kid’s dress shoes never really get worn out before their feet grow too big?) etc. I even found my cross-country skis, boots and poles!

We had a late lunch once we finished and then Nick headed up to take a warm shower to see if that would make him feel better. Unfortunately, he got sleepy instead and lay down on the bed. When he woke up, his back had seized up and he could hardly move!

He’s been hobbling around since then. We had planned to have dinner out with good friends, but instead they came over to our house and we ordered food in. Once they left, I got the girls ready for bed, Nick crawled up the stairs and I got him settled in bed. He has one of the walkie-talkies beside him to reach me while I work on the computer tonight. So much for date night!

I’m actually very glad that I didn’t got to the stitching retreat this weekend (the one I usually go to just for fun) because if he’d done the shed alone, he might have hurt himself even more.

I guess we’ll just have to see how the rest of the weekend plays out...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How Do I Explain What I Do?

I got a panicky call from Erin’s teacher on Tuesday. The parent volunteer from our school who normally helps out for the district-wide Science Olympics was unable to attend this year, so she called to see if I could fill in. As it was, Nick was also helping out with the event, so I juggled my schedule around and told her I could do it. Then, Erin and one of her classmates were chosen to fill in for 2 kids who had dropped out unexpectedly, so this morning only Bethany got on the bus and went to school. The rest of the family headed off to Science Olympics.

It was a fun day and all of the kids were really well behaved. The only thing I found odd was that several people came over at different times and said “Oh... taking a day off cross-stitching?” One of them knows that I design patterns and that I’d just been away at two shows in October, but the other two had only heard that “I did cross stitch for a living” and so were asking all kinds of questions as to how they too could get paid to stitch all day. LOL!

I gently explained that I did try to do a bit of stitching on models every day if possible (sometimes it isn’t) but that I mostly designed the patterns, shipped orders, programmed my website, answered e-mail, filed receipts, did freelance graphics, writing, editing and illustration as well. I hate to burst someone’s bubble, but it also isn’t realistic to let someone get a warped idea of what stitching (either as a model stitcher or as a designer) actually pays. I know most of my model stitchers do not count on their income from stitching to support themselves!

Perhaps someday, I will come up with a simple way to explain what I do for a living. Until then, I am just glad to have something that allows me to be flexible with my hours. Erin and her team were on the local news tonight and may also be in the paper tomorrow. She is just thrilled...

Monday, November 07, 2005

My Ways Are Not Your Ways...

I know that sounds more like a sermon title than a blog entry, but I’ve just spent the past hour explaining to my 10 year old daughter that she doesn’t have to find a boyfriend just because the other girls in her grade 5 class are trying to pair off with boys!

I can remember that ache of being so much taller than everyone else... so bad at anything athletic... so much into books and art instead of gossip games... and yet, still wanting somehow to “fit in” or be like everyone else, even though no one else was really sure what that meant either.

It’s really quite horrible the pressure our world places on all of us. To be thin, to be wealthy, to be popular, to be famous, to be powerful... It seems as if more and more kids are trying to accomplish everything before the end of their teens!!

What a far cry from the community we truly long to be part of... where we are valued for who we are, not what we look like, for how we treat others instead of how much we earn. Think of the fine examples of being neighbours such as Amish barn raisings, quilting circles, prayer groups, book clubs, knitting or stitching groups where that sense of belonging or helping one another still exists.

People wonder why I tell them that crafting is SO important. When you slow down and take the time to create something with your hands, you have the chance to ponder the deeper issues, to listen for the still small voices, to spend time with those you care about and share burdens... or recharge your batteries with much needed alone time. We cannot always run at a frantic pace trying to keep up to some imaginary pace setter on the track ahead of us! How awful to always be looking over your shoulder to see if someone is about to pass you!

I may never know how much Erin actually heard from me tonight. Perhaps the most important thing she will remember is that I took the time to listen. I did try to encourage her to just start finding out who she really is instead of changing herself to try to fit in or make someone like her. Words that it took me almost half my lifetime to believe for myself and the second part of my lifetime to champion.

Each of us is totally unique and wondrous in this Universe. We can bring gifts, insights, talents, wisdom, compassion and all manner of things into the world that NO ONE else can do just the same way. Find your own voice and then sing with all your soul. It shouldn’t matter if it is perfectly in tune!

Friday, November 04, 2005

In The Company Of Friends...

There is something to be said about the company of good friends. Nick and I went over to set up for our church’s pancake breakfast, which takes place tomorrow, and one of our friends offered to let our girls and their three daughters play together at her house instead of running around the church while we were all trying to set up tables. The girls had a wonderful time and then we stayed to chat while the kids finished watching a movie.

There is something so precious about spending time in the company of people you enjoy. It restores something deep in your soul to compare notes with other parents and discover that you aren’t the only ones who go through the challenges that rearing responsible children entails.

Friday nights are usually “date night” because when you have a home-based business, it is too easy to disappear to the office all the time. Tonight we shared that “date” with good friends and still felt connected.

It was a productive day getting packages ready to mail out tomorrow. Of the 22 orders I shipped out for the “I’ll Make My Own Happy Ending” design, it turns out that 5 never made it to the stores in question. Those are horrible odds, but what else can I do except send it again? I sure wish that our two postal systems worked better together!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Finally Getting Tidy!

Today was productive and the garbage bags prove I have less stuff in the house than I did this morning. Nothing like knowing you’ll be having people visiting your home to make you tackle the piles that you’d normally ask your family to function around!

Now, there’s just my office to tidy and that is already underway. I had some patterns to get ready for Hoffman, so after sweeping everything from my desk to the floor to sort, I set the printer in the other room to chug away at printing out covers. I should be able to do a run to the post office if my allergy testing doesn’t take too long tomorrow. I am pretty sure that the trigger is either whey protein concentrate or potassium sorbate, but we’ll see.

There is something so therapeutic about not seeing clutter everywhere you look... so why do we let our lives get so cluttered up anyway? I am trying to coax Bethany into sleeping with less stuffed animals on the bed, but she insists on having the heap of 20 odd stuffies lined up against the wall to snuggle with. Ah well... I’ve been fighting that clutter bug in me for as long as I can remember and am only now learning at 40 how to get everything in its place. Maybe they will learn that earlier!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Hate The Day After Halloween!!

OK... maybe hate is a pretty strong word. Last night was quite possibly the most glorious night for Trick or Treating that my kids have ever experienced. For once there was no bitter wind, no snow, sleet or rain, but rather a suddenly balmy temperature as many people decided to sit outside on their front steps with the bowl of candy to savour this last gift or warmth before winter makes its presence felt. This was the first year that Bethany was able to keep up with Erin and not have to go back to the house early. They each had a friend along for the cruise around our neighbourhood. Since the forecast had called for a 60 percent chance of rain, I had decided earlier in the day not to spend 2 hours painting myself green for She-Hulk, but I did don the wig, put on my medieval top and boots with my black jeans to saunter around with the kids. The fact that I ended up holding a witch’s broom and hat for Bethany’s friend only added to the general weirdness. At least my friend Cheryl wore the white feather boa that her daughter quickly discarded. That would NOT have been warrior-like at all.

What I found hardest about last night was the candy insanity that only seems to grow more intense every year. We put off buying the treats until Saturday. I was very well behaved as long as the bags were all sealed until I began filling the bowl near the door at 4pm yesterday afternoon. By 4:05, I knew I was in trouble. I had a tiny taste to make sure that none of the candy was stale and then set to making sure we all ate a healthy supper. Sweets are one of my biggest downfalls and getting to pick what I wanted from their bags as my “Mom Tax” for a tiny pile of treats to enjoy was such fun. The girls sorted out their candy and divided it in to two piles: The “I must keep this” and the “Ewwww! I don’t like those!” piles. I let them each keep a dozen tiny bags of chips, Doritos or cheesies and then the wretched excess went back into our bowl to hand out. A small grocery bag for each of them was then properly labeled so that there will be no confusion as to whose bag is whose. After a late night snack and far too much stalling, I got them off to bed and managed to foist the remainder of the chips and candy off on a herd of gangly teenagers that were sauntering down the street. Imagine their surprise when this tall woman in warrior garb threw open a door and bellowed down the street at them. “Do you want the last of our treats?” The ensuing stampede was quite impressive, but the “Gee thanks, Ma’am!” was like a shot of cold water to the ego. A nibble or two from my Mom Tax pile helped a bit.

The cold reality of the day after hit like a ton of bricks this morning as I stared at the wrappers I had left on the shelf near my seat. I lined them up like so many tiny body bags to take stock of what I had actually consumed. The points count was scary... but it fit right in with the topic I had to share with the Weight Watchers group I lead ever Tuesday. Confession time... Leaders are not perfect! I have learned once again that I am just far better off when the treats I give out are something that I cannot stand, That way the only nibbling I do is from the Mom Tax pile.

I wonder how badly egged the house would get next year if I gave out the sticker sheets I saw at Wal-mart? Then again... with a husband who may be a principal next year, it might be hard to be sure what exactly triggered the eggings.

Sigh! Time to give the tiny wrappers a decent burial in my garbage bag and move on.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Going Back To The Beginning...

I found my voice... then I lost it. I found a new path in the woods and thought that every step had to be a grand adventure, but that led me to forget why I had set out on this journey in the first place.

When I first started Dragon Musings, I wanted it to be a glimpse into the everyday life of a singe cross stitch designer... me. While I am great friends with a few other talented people in the industry, the only career I can really comment on is my own. When so many of the pattern sharers were accusing designers of wallowing in cash, being huge companies that didn’t care about stitchers or trying to otherwise justify stealing designs, I felt a realistic look into what I have chosen to try to do for a living was warranted.

But somewhere along the line I got distracted. I worried that if I complained too much, I would sound like I was whining... a trait that I am trying to curb in Bethany right now, so I should set the example. I also didn’t want to burst the bubble for aspiring designers by letting them know what a struggle it is to make ends meet some months, even after a dozen years of designing. I wanted stitchers to see the ordinary side of me, that designers are real people too, we just happen to be crazy enough to want to earn a living from something we used to do just for fun and relaxation.

One of my greatest thrills is to be able to do what I love for a living, but as my girls get a bit older and I have time to diversify back into illustration, I am going to chase that dream as well, especially since the needlework market is, shall we politely say, a bit soft?

Which in a roundabout way brings me back to why I suddenly realized how much I need this blog to head back to its beginnings... a more regular glimpse into the crazy career I have chosen. No more waiting until I think I have something important to say... it’d only be a puff of smoke anyway! No more wondering about implications and tone... blogging is all about the moment in which you write that entry. It gets nailed out there in cyberspace and captures that moment in time much as my personal journal entries anchor my thoughts to paper and clarify who I was at the time I wrote an entry. If time is fluid and we are always given the chance to change with every second that we breathe and our heart still beats, it is better to just get out there and live each moment, as ordinary or incredible as they may be, instead of waiting for the PERFECT moment and then look back to see how much we have missed in the meantime.

As an offshoot of this blog, I also started one up today called Candles In The Darkness that I plan to fill with quotes, inspirational stuff and messages of hope to counteract all the negative out there. I am going to have fun hunting for stuff that inspires me!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Off Again...

Another early morning flight ahead of me tomorrow, another tearful goodnight to Bethany and Erin. This time, there will be no Nanny and Grr to add a balance, but there are birthday parties and Guiding events for poor Nick to get the girls to.

I am sure that once I get there, the excitement will kick in. Right now, I know why I usually go into “quiet mode” after a show. It does take something out of you even as it recharges you. I am looking forward to the new experience of a retreat I have never done before in a pretty part of the world and seeing some familiar faces there. I just don’t want to have to do the 4:00 am wake-up!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Dragon Finds Her Voice Again...

My grandmother always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice... I shouldn’t say it. With the recent upheavals in the needlework industry and the strength of the Canadian dollar hurting the fact that most of my income comes in US dollars, I haven’t really felt like I had much to say that was positive. I did promise that Dragon Musings would be a look inside the head of a designer and a realistic look into my life... but I just couldn’t bear to whine and complain when I am still SO much more fortunate that many on the rest of this planet. Watching all of the natural disasters around the world has convinced me that snowstorms really aren’t that awful!

The second thing that helped me find my voice again was spending time teaching at the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival up in Toronto last weekend. It will now be known as the CreativFestival, which is probably more appropriate. It now encompasses everything from quilting and needlework to beading, basket weaving, scrapbooking and much more. While a few people lamented that there just wasn’t enough needlework, I thought that the strength of the show was the ability to reach out to such a wide audience of creative people. Seeing the faces of stitchers who have not only been students over the years but also become friends, reminded me of all the best this industry has to offer. Giving a lecture on how to not only improve the look of your crafts, but also understand why taking the time to craft is SO important to our spirit and our health, was a vibrant reminder to me to heed my own words and treasure my own calling.

In getting the website overhauled and broadened to reflect the true scope of all that I do, I have taken my stand that what I really do as an artist, is to try to create images that reach out and speak to people. Sometimes, it will be with a needle and thread, while others may be with painted rocks or watercolour illustrations.

The Ebay auction for the first two wizard rocks, Orion and Malachai, go live October 19th (Items #7358945644 and 7358947574) . It will be fun to see what the response is to them, if any. Like any business person, I need to constantly perfect and adapt what I do... or be open to new markets when a pathway narrows or a door gets slammed in your face. If you never take the risk of spreading your wings... you will never get the joy of knowing what it means to fly.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Would You Work As Hard?

Someone commented today on the amount of hours I put into building my own dreams and running my own company. They implied that until they met me, they always thought that people who ran their own companies had more time to themselves and more freedom that someone who worked for someone else. They laughed and said that working for someone else seems a lot easier.

I’m not so sure. I’ve been trying to earn a living from my own sources for exactly a decade now... when the prospect of putting my own child in daycare to go take care of someone else’s business so that they could stay home when they felt like it was enough to make the terror of working for myself almost bearable. I love the freedom to be able to adapt my day if necessary. Since Erin will be home sick tomorrow, but I actually have the van, the schedule of the day will be totally reworked depending on how she feels in the morning. At least I have the freedom to make choices like that... or to spend time helping my kids with homework, even if it means pulling some late nights to balance things out.

Would I work as hard for someone else? Probably in some ways. I have a very deeply ingrained work ethic that makes it very hard for me to give anything less than my best. Probably not in other ways... I would probably have more evenings free or rediscover other hobbies.

Would I change anything? Not at all. My 30s were all about feeling insecure about everything. I think my 40s are going to rock!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Set to Turn 40 with a Grin!

The first week of school is over and we are heading off for yet another weekend away, but this time it is up to a lovely spot by the ocean and our church family camp. Instead of basking in the Atlanta heat and sunshine, I’ll be cuddling up to a campfire and watching the stars come out overhead. Instead of painting myself green for She-Hulk, I’ll be spraying on the bug spray... but my family will be with me in one of the most stress-free spots on Earth that I know.

DragonCon was absolutely fantastic. I may put a page up on the website in the next few weeks to show the full transformation to She-Hulk, including the great help from Teresa. I had such a great time aiming for this dream... and winning Best Comic Book Character was just the icing on the cake!

Now I get set to teach in both Toronto and Ottawa next month, then calm descends until Nashville. One of the most important pieces of advice I learned from the science-fiction/fantasy artists there was that when you are not working on an assignment, you work on your portfolio pieces, so I am going to try to schedule in a few hours of drawing or painting the way I do for stitching. I painted some more canvases this afternoon and it had been just long enough since the last batch that I found it fun instead of boring.

I entered my last decade full of doubt at my abilities at being a parent, full of angst at going freelance, full of sadness at how out of shape I’d gotten, full of fear about the gallbladder surgery I had to undergo 6 days after turning 30. No cake and no real celebration that time. I certainly made up for it this year!

So, I guess I am completely ready to enter my next decade with a saucy grin. Here’s to the fact that you never get too old to chase dreams!!

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Dragon Has Landed!

I've arrived in Atlanta and have registered for both DragonCon and the Masquerade contest on Sunday night. Tonight, Teresa and I are meeting with some area stitchers for a great dinner out and then the rest of the weekend will just be Teresa and I wandering around DragonCon trying not to gape at the incredible (and outrageous) costumes around us.

This should be SO cool!!
What I Do For A Living...

It’s late and the taxi arrives in under 5 hours. I can always sleep on the plane and am almost a bit too wired to sleep anyway. I am SO looking forward to DragonCon and yet tonight, I had to put my littlest one to bed in tears. Bethany has always minded time spent apart from me, though she’s happy as a clam to play somewhere else in the house just knowing that I am here when she wants me. Tonight, amid sobs, she asked me why I had to go away for “days and days” for shows.

I explained that one of the reasons I can be there to get her off the bus every school day and help her with her homework every afternoon is because I don’t have a job that’s like most jobs. She has a few friends who have to go to daycare after school every day and so can sort of understand that the time she gets normally is offset by me having to go away now and then for 3-5 days at a time.

This time, having just been to Charlotte for a show as a family, she kept asking why we couldn’t ALL go. It’s rather blunt to have to tell your child “We just don’t have the money to do that.” but in the end, it is a lot more real. Erin is aware of how angry many of the adults are in town today with gas hitting 1.39 cents a liter. That’s about 4 dollars a gallon. Still cheap by European standards, but Moncton doesn’t have that great a transit system, so people are really wondering what they will do.

Would I change what I do for a living? Absolutely not! Do I sometimes wish that I could trade some of the creative freedom for a bit more financial security? Of course! Am I going to have a great time wearing a sword or painting myself green this weekend? YOU BET!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Getting Excited About The Weekend!

It’s hard not to have crossover in my blogs these days as I get ready to leave for Dragon*Con in 3 days. Teresa and I are going to have such a blast in Atlanta! the more details they release about how our section of Moncton is going to be shut down for the Rolling Stones concert, the more I ache for Nick who is going to be looking after the kids this weekend while I jaunt off.

Tonight Bethany asked me WHY I was going to Atlanta. I explained to her that I was following a dream and that some day, she would understand. I love my two girls more than life itself sometimes, but they also will see that you can still have dreams of your own to chase, even after you become a “Mommy”!

The reaction to the blond hair was quite funny at Weight Watchers this morning when I led my Tuesday meeting. They are all waiting to see pictures of me green on stage as She-Hulk when I do the meeting next Tuesday morning, so I will be sure that the batteries of my digital camera are well charged.

I’m actually taking stitching with me to work on... LOL! I think it will keep me calm! I’m absolutely giddy since I found out that Anne McCaffrey, Marv Wolfman and Richard Hatch will be roaming around Atlanta too along with Lynn Abbey, Jody Lynn Nye, Marina Sirtis, LeVar Burton, Robin Curtis, Dean Stockwell, Larry Elmore etc. I’ll be such a fan if I’m not careful!!! I wonder if Lorenzo Lamas remembers staring in SNAKEEATER with me 16 years ago?

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Dragon Goes Blond!

I’m getting ready for Dragon*Con in Atlanta this coming weekend and went to the hairdresser for a trim to keep my hair nice and short under the wig when I dress up in costume Sunday night as She-Hulk... but while I was there I decided to go blond instead of the red rinses I’ve been putting in the past few years. I posted a picture on my other blog for those of you who are curious.

We had a great time at the family wedding in Ottawa and I even got to meet up with my old college roommate who was kind enough to drive all the way out to the airport on HER 40th birthday, with her family, so that we could see each other. Our kids had a blast blowing bubbles in chocolate milk and scarfing down Timbits while we chatted and then dashed for the plane.

We arrived home to find that Nick has not only painted the whole rec room the colour we’d chosen, he even came up with a much better floor plan and moved most of the furniture. I think that he and the kids may tackle some of the black furniture to see if they can scuff it up and paint it white or colours to match the room better this weekend while I am away. With more than 70,000 people invading Moncton this weekend for the Rolling Stones concert, he isn’t going to try to go very far on Saturday, especially since we should be able to hear the concert from the house!

It’s actually fun getting ready to go away on another trip that isn’t all business. Actually, this is just a crazy dream that I’ve had for over 4 years, ever since I decided I needed to take off the extra weight I was carrying. I needed a good carrot that would help me keep it off permanently, or at least for a few years. Looking ahead to 40 back then and declaring that I would “find a major comic/sci-fi convention and dress up as She-Hulk” sometime in 2005 seemed a LONG way off. Now here it is just 6 days away!

I can honestly say that chasing this dream has been as exciting as seeing my name in a cross stitch magazine for the first time, or getting fan mail, or painting something for a gift that you know really touched someone, or learning how to do the butterfly stroke in swimming, or going on a corkscrew roller coaster will Erin this summer...

Whenever we take on a new challenge or chase a dream or create something, we are recharging something inside! I can’t wait!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Off Again!

My girls are becoming experts at packing up and jaunting off. Yesterday we went to Rainbow Valley in PEI, a wonderful old amusement park that is closing its doors forever after Labour Day. It was a cold and slightly grey day, so we didn’t do the water slides, but the girls had a wonderful time anyway.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, we hop on a plane to head to Ottawa for a family wedding leaving Nick behind. He’s got a lot on his plate getting things ready for the teachers coming back on Monday and the kids on September 6th. He also plans to paint the family room while we are gone because big projects like that are much easier when everyone isn’t underfoot!

Luckily, my girls love to travel. I didn’t think that they would EVER get settled for bed tonight so that I could finish up a few things. Next weekend, I will be off to Dragon*Con in Atlanta to be She-Hulk as the Rolling Stones invade Moncton for the outdoor concert! Where has the summer gone???

Monday, August 22, 2005

Learning To Work Up Close...

Seeing the big picture... the forest for the trees... is important, but sometimes when you get so caught up in looking at the vista ahead, you trip on a tree root or a pebble at your feet. Stitchers instinctively know about working up close, attacking projects in tiny chunks (ok...sometimes that gets away from you and you pause with your needle to discover it is 3 am) and learning to eat that elephant one bite at a time.

Society in general seems to yell at us from every corner to hurry up, meet that deadline, make it faster, finish it quicker... is it any wonder that sometimes we feel as if we are scurrying around with not very much to show for our hours of work?

I’ve been finishing up another huge graphics project for a client. The perfectionist in me is checking each file as I save it to the final version because that is what I would want someone to do on my behalf. It is that pride in workmanship that we try to temper... that often has us ripping out sections of things to get it right or recharting something line by line to make sure it matches the stitched model (designer privilege/aggravation)

When we work up close, we learn to accept the beauty of what is right before us, learning to find satisfaction in what we DID accomplish instead of despairing about what remains undone. Each tiny step, each stitch, each hug, each word of encouragement, each smile, each day... can add up to something wonderful if we persist.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Getting Unpacked At Last!

Today, when I really wanted to just relax and goof off, I did the grown-up thing and unpacked. That really is the worst part of any trip...coming home and facing the mountains of laundry! The girls kept running around the house playing with things as I unpacked, sorted, did laundry, filed stuff away, checked e-mail etc. Nick was back at work for his first day, so I had a few moments of wishing that EVERYONE was back at school...but that will come soon enough!

Now all that’s left to unpack are the models and other trade show stuff to tuck away until Toronto and Nashville.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

There's No Place Like Home...

After 2 days of traveling, a detour in Maine to get sneakers for Nick and I at the New Balance Factory Outlet Tent Sale, picking up Wuffles from the pet store where he was being boarded and having to change his cage right away, picking up milk and bread to survive until we can do groceries and being SEVERELY TEMPTED to either mail my darling girls to Australia in a box or eat a 2 litre container of ice cream (I did neither... I blogged!) I can finally say that we are safely home!

The trip was a wonderful way to combine family fun and very necessary business. I honestly feel sorry for shops that never make attending trade shows a priority. Yes, they are expensive to do and require actually getting up off your chair, out of your comfort zone and traveling, but you get to see such a better perspective on the industry and its potential that you see staring at the same 4 walls all the time! Seeing the models from different designers and putting faces to the names (as well as zany personalities) has to be better than peering at a computer monitor to see what a new release looks like! I know that from a designer's perspective, I prefer to see store owners face to face now and then instead of just speaking with a voice over a phone or e-mail. If they deal with Hoffman during the year and never come to shows, then I never build that relationship that allows me to know who to recommend in a particular state when I get an e-mail from stitchers. I never hear about ways that I might be able to help them get new stitchers into the shops or entice stitchers who have fallen by the wayside back to the craft. I also don't get to spend the much needed time talking to other designers who actually understand what it is I try to do for part of my career!! The other Moms at the bus stop still really haven't figured out what I really do for a living, but when I share frustrations, joys or challenges with other designers, 9 times out of 10 they know what I mean or can imagine how that feels.

I also think that sharing information with newer designers is crucial to this industry surviving. There were so many designers who took the time to answer my basic questions when I first started out and I always vowed that I would try to do the same. That doesn't mean that I expect them to listed to the "Gospel of Jen"! By listening to how other designers approached things, I was able to find a path that suited ME. The more people's journeys you listed to, the better you are able to chart your own in a way that is true to your soul... and that applies to much more than just cross stitch!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Time To Head Home...

Today was another great day as a family! We got up a bit later and had breakfast, then headed out to mail off what leftover leaflets we had to Hoffman and one model that we'd had another store deliver off to the trunk show it was supposed to be at. This time, since we knew where the post office actually was, it was a much faster trip.

After that, we headed off to The Nascar Mecca.. the Lowes Motor Speedway. Taking the tour and actually driving around the track in the tour van was SO awesome... as was the look on Nick's face since he was in the front seat!

Tonight is all about packing up and sorting things out, so I won't blog long. It was a good show, and some great family fun, but I am ready to get home!

Monday, August 15, 2005

After The Show... The Kids Get Rewarded!
Even though we were a bit punchy from the weekend and eating at odd hours during the show, we woke up fairly early today because we wanted to be able to let breakfast settle before getting on any of the coasters at Carowinds!

Nick helped Kat Rocha, from Cross-eyed Kat, get her stuff to a UPS store/pickup centre so that she could ship some of her things home separately. The girls raced upstairs after breakfast to watch cartoons while I checked out of the room under my reservation with Needlework Markets and checked back into the same room for a 2 day "Stay and Play" package that gave us our 4 admission tickets to Carowinds for today (2 per day but we booked 2 nights).

We'd told the girls that we had to drive "all the way to South Carolina" for this adventure, so when we pulled off the highway just 18 miles from where we left the hotel, and they saw the huge roller coasters rising into the sky, they began to squeal.

What a day!! I did manage to handle one extreme roller coaster called Top Gun that did an upside down loop, many corkscrews and lots of screaming on my part. We also did all of the other ones that Bethany was tall enough for, but looking at the Borg ride where you went backwards, lying flat and face down much of the ride... I got quite squeamish. Luckily, the wait for the ride was almost an hour, so we decided to pass on that second ride that Erin thought she deserved my company on thanks to the shop we deal with in London, Ontario. The very first thing on Saturday morning as they placed their order and we told them about our plans for Monday, Kathy looked right at Erin and said "I hear if you are a big help and your Mom has a good show, she has to go with you on any 2 rides that you want her to!" I survived!!

We concentrated instead on all the rides where you got soaked! I have never been that wet over and over. Of course, we were in regular street clothes and our denim shorts may not dry out before we get on the plane Wednesday morning unless we leave them to steam dry in the car tomorrow! By the time we got back to the hotel, our feet were all wrinkly from being in damp socks most of the day! Eeeeewwwww!

I guess we've just ensured that the girls will want to come and help us at the show next August here in Charlotte. I doubt Nick and I will be able to sneak away and do the show just the two of us with stuff like Discovery Place and Carowinds to make them want to help!

Erin looked at me the last day of the show and with an air of exasperation said "I guess you'll have another whole talk about the models next year that I'll have to learn! Just when I think I got all this one memorized, the show is over!"

That's what it is all about.. meeting friends, encouraging others in the industry, showing off what you've created and listening to feedback, trying to come up with things that will make the show fun and enticing... and then ending up with hugs, goodbyes and tons of ideas for the next time you do a show!

Time to head to bed!!

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Chaos of Setting Up for a Show!

What a crazy day! The girls went back and forth between being great helpers and driving us CRAZY, so Nick and I still have a bit to learn about doing a show with kids! This morning, when we needed to head out to pick up a few last minute items, they tried to stage a revolt and demand to be left behind in the hotel room to watch cartoons and play Barbies! I don't think so!

We got everything done and now the room is as set up for the show tomorrow as it is going to get. Understated, but at least you can really see the designs that I brought without them getting lost among props or decorations... but I go by some of the rooms and still doubt myself. Mine will look very stark by comparisson!

Here's to the excitement and chaos of the show!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Making The Most of the Day...

What a busy day! We got up early (our regular wake-up time is 7 am back home, 6 am here) and had a nice breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day. We found an Office Max where we could pick up a few supplies and leave off the copies we needed to have made (slightly more expensive than getting them done in Canada, but less to clog up and weigh down luggage!) then headed off to Discovery Place.

Nick and I first visited this hands-on science centre 11 years ago when we came to Charlotte for the first time. We'd pulled into Charlotte sounding like a tractor because our Subaru has lost the muffler along the way and while the car was being repaired, we walked up to Discovery Place to take our mind off how much we were going to have to put on the Visa. IT was captivating then, but what a difference to see it throught the eyes of my two girls 11 years later!! They were totally captivated for the 5 hours we were there and we had to pry them away! I was worried that the copy centre might think I'd disappeared instead of coming back for my stuff!

We explored Charlotte a little bit more after picking up the copies. Nick is SO wonderful about driving in big city traffic... but I doubt I could ever live in a city this size again. Having grown up in Montreal and even learned to drive there... it seems strange in a way to prefer the pace of Moncton... but I am sure that I don't lose as much time in my day to travel as many of the people we saw pushing their way through the 5 lanes of traffic, jockeying for the quickest spot.

The girls are happily playing Barbies upstairs and I thought I would blog quickly before I get set for the class I teach tomorrow afternoon and the set-up for the show tomorrow morning. This is the calm before the storm, but sometimes watching a storm roll in can be exhilarating!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Teaching Kids To Be Great Travellers...

We started today in Bangor, Maine at 3 am. We've now arrived safely in Charlotte, NC for my cross stitch trade show this weekend to show off our 3 (and one to come) new designs. My girls have been absolutely WONDERFUL travellers and are now playing happily in the hotel room with their new Barbie dolls that we found during a Target foray upon arriving in the city.

What helps kids learn to be great travellers? Partly it is approaching trips with a sense of wonder and fun even as adults. You teach them to revel in the unexpected joys and discoveries along the way. You make travel time a special time to snuggle or play wicked games of Harry Potter UNO. One of the things that the girls enjoy most is the "Doodle Diary" that I keep for every big trip. I do tiny cartoons of events during each day and then we have a visual record of the "unforgettable" moments of the trip... such as not noticing until the second airline today that my sharp scissors were in my carry-on and having to mail them to myself at the hotel... such as discovering that Bethany is actually called Nethany in her new passport and that we'll have to correct that once we get home... or watching the girls faces light up when the National Car Rental lady handed them a bag of Beanie Babies when they got on the shuttle and told them to each pick one to take with them!

Travelling also opens their eyes to the way the world around them differs from life back home. As wel drove to the hotel, Erin noticed a man at one corner with a sign that said "hungy... will wash your car for food!" Since we didn't know if we were headed in the right direction, we couldn't really stop, but she did ask that we include him in our prayers tonight and mentioned him during grace at the restaurant because we were lucky enough to be eating out.

By learning to embrace the joys and wonders that travel can hold... how can you not pass that onto your kids? There's a big wide world out there to explore and enjoy!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

A New Record! Maybe I’m Learning??

It’s not quite 11 pm on a night before we leave for a trade show and I’m done! The bags are packed, the forms are filled out for customs, I’ve rounded up most of the loose ends on my list, the rest of the family is packed and the 4 boxes that we need to mail from within the USA are all taped shut and ready to go!

WOW! Maybe I am learning how to schedule things better... I’ve gotten better at delegating... or I’m forgetting something really important, because usually I am up until at least 1 am and Nick worries about me traveling on too little sleep!

The girls both take after us in terms of having trouble falling asleep before trips (or anything exciting like Christmas and birthdays) so it was a challenge to get them to bed tonight. Wednesday morning when they have to wake up in Maine at 3:00 am to get to the airport for a 5:30 am flight may be another story completely!

What am I looking forward to most? Seeing fellow designers and shop owners of course, but also sharing this part of my life with my girls so that they can have a better idea of the work Mommy has to do when I go away to trade shows!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Company Of Good Friends....

Despite the fact that I have a few loose ends to tie up before we leave for Charlotte, friend of ours across the street invited us to join our meals together for supper. We brought over the fresh corn on the cob that we bought at the market this morning as well as BBQ’d chicken burgers and they added their food to the list as well. All of our children played well together which gave the adults a much needed and much appreciated chance to chat. That is what being in the company of good friends is all about. What a nice release from the pre-trade show crazies!!! It was just what I needed to distract myself from the cross checking that I do before a trade show... wondering if I have everything covered... wondering if I have all that I will need once I am down there... wondering if I will forget something important...

Funny how so many people think that once you are a “recognized” designer that you have helpers and people that take care of you, organize you etc. How far could they be from the truth!! Most designers create designs because of this overwhelming need to get an image or an idea out of their head and onto graph paper or into floss and fabric. It literally does not let you go until you serve the work. Why else would we create something that is SO vulnerable to being copied and shared? If we did not love bringing a design into the world and watching what people would think of that particular combination of floss and fabric, we would not be doing what it is we try to do... To risk anything creative... from creating an image or story to bringing a new life into this world, is to be open to possibilities that you have yet to dream. That is where the magic truly lies... and that is what keeps us trying to create that next design.

Taking a break from creativity tonight to just enjoy the company of really good friends was wonderful!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Getting Ready For Next Week...

Well, we’re down to the crunch getting ready to leave for the show next week in Charlotte. The new designs are back from the printers, packed up and ready to go with us. The models are safely bundled in bubble wrap and I even found a new hard shell case to replace the one that Air Canada busted on the trip home from Nashville back in February.

Looking at some of my older models from a dozen years ago, I can see where some of them will have to be reframed eventually. Shipping things down to shows or off to trunk shows does put far more wear and tear on the frames than if they were to hang safely on a wall, but this is, after all, what helps sell the designs.

Isn’t it fun when you are stitching something, to see how much better it looks in real life than in the photo on the cover of the pattern? No matter how often I juggle with exposures, check colour levels etc. before taking designs to print, you just cannot completely capture that sparkle and magic that slowly evolves before your eyes with needle and thread. No wonder so many of us get hooked!!

Now that the trade show stuff is at least mostly under control, I can work on the website tomorrow and get that up to date...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It’s Never Just One Thing....

Last night was a late one, going over several forms that I’ll need to make copies of once I arrive in Charlotte, making the changes to the Evening Fairy design that I’ll be handing out to shops that place an order there and trying o sit comfortably in our old office chair. It just wasn’t the right height for the new desk and by this morning, my hands were sore. So today was also the quest to find an office chair once we were done painting the nursery at church.

Every now and then I am reminded in a rather obvious way that I am just built on a different scale. Almost every chair we tried had the back support in the wrong place, wouldn’t go high enough, didn’t bring the armrests up to the right height, even on full extension etc. We finally found a model that was fairly adaptable and comfortable, but they didn’t have the black version in stock at the store nearest us. Having just redone the colours in the office, I ended up sounding like such a picky artist when I told the clerk “I just can’t buy the burgundy version because it will clash with absolutely everything in the room!”

Then of course I needed a drawer organizer since I haven’t had a drawer in a desk in YEARS, and that led to getting an extra little slidey tray... surely we do that all the time in a stitching store! It’s never just one thing!

Nick is upstairs stitching on a project for me and I must go thank him, so until tomorrow...
Less Than A Week...

A week from now we’ll be in a hotel in Bangor, trying to convince the girls to grab a few hours sleep before a very EARLY flight to NY and onto Charlotte. The new office is all tidy! Except for one box of papers that have yet to be filed and sorted, everything is in its place and I am just getting the last things ready to take with me (forms etc.) I’ve learned now to find a Kinko’s or Office Max down there and pay US$ to avoid lugging the already printed forms with us on the plane. Suitcases can only handle so much!

I have to work on the website tomorrow night, but the design for Evening Fairy got some tweaking tonight when I came up with a perfect sub-line. The chart has the caption “Evenings are meant to be Magic” and I suddenly modified the design to include a box of chocolates and the words “especially if they include chocolate” beneath the big text! While this chart is a special gift for shops that order from us in Charlotte, it will be up on the site in December, so don’t worry!!!

Tomorrow morning I have to take a break and head over to church where the girls and I are going to team up with another family of 3 girls to help add a bit of fun to the nursery. It was repainted and repaired this spring, but the colour is a bit.... boring, so we’re going to paint 3 sheep (and do the fleece with sea sponges and paint for a nice texture) on the main wall that you see from the door. Along the side wall, we’re going to paint a vine that has various sizes of hand prints in different colours as the “flowers”. Since the girls tomorrow range in age from 10 to 3, I think we’ll have a good variety of sizes. I wonder how much paint will end up on them instead of the walls??

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Half an Office Back...

What a busy day! We headed off to the dump early this morning to drop off the two old and disassembled desks to the recycling depot. Then we went to St. Pat’s for our morning workout while the kids played in the TV room. They have the full cable there and we usually have to tear Erin and Bethany away from the cartoon channels that we don’t have here at home.

After that it was off to the smaller of the two farmer’s markets in town which we try to support. The large one in Dieppe is nice, and very new, but you have to really want to be squished in a ground and have to push your way through aisles where people just stop to chat with friends instead of moving on or buying things. I picked up a custom-designed ankle bracelet that I had ordered from the young girl who makes them. I wanted a certain pattern but all in dragon greens of course! I also came home with two new plants for the garden and tucked them into place before lunch.

Nick got the whole office painted in the afternoon and then right after supper, while the girls watched a DVD, he and I assembled the hutch part for the desktop and the shelf/drawer unit that goes to the left of the desk. He wheeled one shelf back in for me and I now have about half my office set up again. I LOVE the new colour, a deeper blue called Limerick that looks more Maritime than the cornflower blue I had before. I can’t wait to get the lateral file part assembled tomorrow afternoon so that I can start sorting and moving things back into place. I threw out a whole bunch of “stuff” today and it felt great!!!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Total Office Chaos...

Friday nights are usually “date night” in this house where the kids go to be at a reasonable hour, even though it is the weekend, and Nick and I get some time together as a couple. Usually, that means playing a game or watching a DVD, but tonight the poor guy had to bring his screwdriver down to my office and help me tear down two desks, then assemble the base of the new one so that I could get at least one computer hooked back up enough to blog!

Tomorrow, we’ll paint the office and then move most of the stuff back in. I say most, because anyone who grew up a bit packrattish knows that you end up with little piles of “stuff” that you mean to sort out sometime but just haven’t gotten to yet, or things that you are pretty sure you’ll need sometime soon.

Part of my “getting ready to turn 40” has not only involved cleaning up my eating habits and getting in shape, it has involved learning how to let go of “stuff” and just hang on to the memories instead of the object.

So I am trying to make sure that any “stuff” I really don’t need or haven’t gone looking for lately, doesn’t come back into the new office!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Procrastination or Productivity??

With less than 2 weeks until the show, what happens today? After months of searching for the right desk to replace the 2 I have in my office an hopefully get both computers a little closer together, I had pretty much given up when we found the perfect model... and on sale! It’ll be delivered next week (since this is a long weekend here) and Nick pointed out that this would be the perfect time to paint the office before we rearrange everything and get it just right! Aaaaack!! At least the borken keyboard tray from the one desk won’t keep falling out on my toes!!

He has to go down to Petitcodiac for the day tomorrow to do some muscle work of his own, turning a work room into a book room and moving boxes around, so that will give me some time to just get a few things out of the way on the computer and then start lugging things out into the family room so that we can paint.

We also went into the pet store for “just a peek at the animals” and came out with a second cage for Wuffles, our dwarf hamster. We bought the set of tubes as well and now he can run back and forth between the cages or through a tube that runs along the outside. We even got the little “potty” with the scoopable litter to see if that will coax him to pee elsewhere than in the tube that leads to his bed! He ran around like a crazy thing for almost an hour checking everything out and then fell deeply asleep for a few hours, all tuckered out from his explorations!

I still haven’t decided whether this is procrastination or productivity, but I can wait to get the office redone!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Two Weeks From Today...

It’s a bit scary and hard to wrap my head around that we’ll be arriving in Charlotte exactly two weeks from today. Part of me wants to run around like Chicken Little screaming at the top of my lungs... and part of me is quite amazed at how much farther ahead I am than usual before a trade show!

I get like this before every show... its part of the charging up, revving up and gathering in energy to use during the event, but you also have to be careful not to burn yourself out before you even get there.

I am also so incredibly aware of how you cannot take anything in life for granted. So many of our friends are going through turmoil right now, facing life-threatening battles, coping with legal battles, facing the sudden injury of a loved one, struggling not to lose a job... it makes me very grateful for the hugs from my children, the ability to do a job that I love and the fact that I have a roof over my head at night. Those are the things that we really cannot ever afford to be complacent about when so many in the world spend every day on the brink of survival.

The newest piece, that will only be ready to show off the model of in Charlotte, has just gripped me and shaken me until I got it all on paper. It is for all the strong women in life who face challenges, even when afraid. The design features a frog with a little gold crown lounging in a glass slipper. Above him read the caption “Forget the Balls & Kissing Frogs” and below the slipper it says “I’ll make my OWN Happy Ending!” I’m trying to think of a charity that really helps women in need (other than breast cancer) towards which some of the proceeds could go... but there really isn’t a National program here in Canada that would apply...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Getting Ready To Juggle 2 Blogs at Once!

I must be a sucker for punishment, especially with a trade show just over 2 weeks away... but it was time to set up my blog about becoming She-Hulk, since tomorrow will start the 40 day countdown until I paint myself green and get on stage at Dragon*Con to celebrate turning 40 with a bang.

If you are interested in this second blog and the details of the transformation that a crazy extrovert has decided to undertake, you can check it out at

Today was productive in many ways... the first harder workout with Nick... getting the Hoffman order off by courier so that this replacement order for the two boxes that the Canadian and US postal services still can’t agree who lost will get there... finishing off the sketch for the middle of the design Nick has been stitching from my roughs so that he’ll have a chart to work from at last... and getting the new blog set up to launch.

Life is going to be hectic for the next little while, but it WILL be memorable!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Unexpected Adventures... Playing Tourist In Your Own Province!

We just got home tonight after deciding to turn a chore into an excuse for a family getaway. I knew that we needed to take our passports to the passport office in Fredericton in order to get them back for our trip to the USA next month. The girls now need passports of their own, so with three to submit, it seemed easier to drive them there.

We endured a drizzly, damp Saturday and found out that the forecast for Sunday was going to be bright sun and fairly warm temperatures, but that Monday would be back to cold and drizzle again. We decided to call Fredericton to see if there were any hotel packages at the Lord Beaverbrook hotel downtown... and sure enough there was a wonderful Summer Sizzler package that included two queen size bed and breakfast for the family in the morning! We threw our stuff in a bag Saturday night and hopped in the car Sunday morning to head for Fredericton.

Kings Landing is the most awesome historical settlement that takes a good 3 hours to walk through. Houses from the early to late 1800s were moved and restored to recreate this settlement or farms, churches, mills, print shop, smithy, houses and general store. Everyone in the town is dressed in costume and stays in character for the period and shows what life was like in that era. They cook their meals over the hearth or stoves in the house, work the land, apprentice in the businesses etc. This time the girls were old enough to really fall in love with the place. Erin has even decided she might like to try the “Visiting Cousins” program next summer where you attend the camp for the week and act as a character during the day, learning skills from the era and even attending school in the schoolhouse for a few hours every morning. She got the chance to hold the reins of the wagon as we drove back to the main entrance and was absolutely thrilled!

After most of the day at Kings Landing, we headed for the hotel and a nice swim at the pool. We dressed for dinner and walked off to the greek restaurant we knew about in town about 5 blocks from the hotel. Unfortunately, when we got there, we and several other tourists were disappointed to find out that it is closed on Sundays! This was the beginning of our half an hour, 5 block maze chase around the streets of downtown Fredericton, desperately trying to find ANY restaurant that served something other than fast food! We finally found a great pub called the Snooty Fox and had a fabulous supper that did much to restore our spirits and get rid of the “grumpy whineys”. We headed back to the hotel for a massive game of Harry Potter UNO and then read in bed while the girls fought over who was stealing the covers and who had toes on whose side... Even in a Queen sized bed, they still managed to get on each other’s nerves until they fell asleep. My sister could probably correct me, but I don’t remember fighting with her that much over sleeping space!!

This morning, after another quick swim and breakfast, we headed off to the Passport Office under grey and cloudy skies that left me wishing I’d packed a sweater. We got through our business there with one little flaw... seems Quebec has changed birth certificate information to bring it in line with the rest of Canada and Vital Statistics... so my old Birth Certificate is no longer valid. Even though I used it to get my last passport (and it is still me) I have to send away for this new version. Sigh! If they had let me know about this when I was up there in June, I could have taken care of it then. Just as we left the Passport Office, the heavens opened, so we ran a few blocks down to the Science East hands on science center and spend over 2 hours exploring the exhibits, helping the staff move baby stick bugs onto new raspberry plant stalks to eat, setting up domino mazes etc.

On the way home from Fredericton, we stopped to explore Old Orchard Crafts and the village of Gagetown where Flo Greig, a potter whose work I adore, has her studio. Nick and I received a magnificent salad bowl of hers as a wedding present 16 years ago and have added a few pieces to our collection since then. We have always meant to try to find her studio and stumbled across it today as we tried to find a place to eat a much overdue lunch! She happened to be there when we wandered in out of the damp and it was such fun to let another artist know how much her work has meant to me! We headed home a new addition to our collection and some great memories of a village we’ll go back to explore again.

Sadly, New Brunswick seems to lag WAY behind Nova Scotia in terms of properly promoting its craftspeople and making it easy to find them through brochures, signage etc. Having been in Nova Scotia just a few weeks ago, I am saddened by the difference between the two provinces...

Now we are home again and ready to get orders off in the mail etc. It was fun to turn the chore of dropping the passports off in person into a fun family adventure and strange to think that we’ll be doing that run again in two weeks time to head down to the show in Charlotte! Where has the summer gone??

Friday, July 22, 2005

Thank Goodness It’s Friday!

Friday night is Date Night in our house and the kids are just finishing up their turn on Animal Crossing before we bundle them off to bed, pour ourselves a nice glass of our new favourite wine. It is called Terra Rosa by Jost and is a light red wine that can be served chilled. The perfect thing now that the thunderstorm has rolled through and the humidity has broken a bit. My files are at the printers and so will be ready for Charlotte. We have one model to stitch up to show off for a September release, but Nick has done as much as he can from my rough pencil sketch. I need to graph out the image in the middle for him to be able to work from a real chart for a change.

Tonight, the work stays in the basement, the Hoffman order can ship out on Monday instead of racing to the airport to catch a plane that leaves in less than 15 minutes... I’ve spent most of my week in the basement staring at a computer screen and it is time to take a break!

Life is good. I know that Laurie and Yoshi are safe, although my sister was out and about during the latest round of mayhem in London. I can’t wait to see my new nephew and my fast growing niece in just over a month at a family wedding the in Ottawa area. I had an awesome workout at the gym today and in less than 45 days, I get to be She-Hulk at Dragon*Con. Life is cool!

Have a wonderful Friday night!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Crawling Through Files...

Sometimes this is the stage of the design that I hate the most, even if it is one of the areas I am most qualified to do (and one where I am able to save myself some money). Being a graphic designer lets me layout all the files and hand a CD over to my printer camera-ready, but the larger the files or the more complex the design, the more chances there are that you will overlook something important, miss a spelling mistake etc.

I get to the point where I peer at the screen or at artist’s proofs so many times, I can no longer be objective about them. I grab friends, teachers and sometimes even total strangers to look over the proofs, begging them to read them through in case there is an error. Most times, I find them about 3 days AFTER they come off the press as I am folding them to send to distributors. Sometimes it is eagle-eyed stitchers who notice things as they are stitching them while the design is only a few weeks old. (You know who you nimble needles are!!) Then there is nothing to do but grit ones teeth, scream loudly in the basement where the neighbours can’t hear you and call the funny farm, post corrections to the website if the FTP is cooperating and then hope that next time you will catch everything.

Back to peering over files to avoid the basement screaming in a few weeks if at all possible. This is the only cool place in the house. Poor Wuffles is still upset about living in a fur coat through a Canadian summer, but at least our dwarf hamster is down here in the basement with me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tea With The Dragon...

This past Saturday, Moncton played home to a new needlework show. I had been asked by fellow designer, Jo Gatenby of X’s & Oh’s who organized the CNSS, to do an afternoon event that ended up being called “Tea with the Dragon”. It was great fun trying to explain to people, who didn’t understand exactly what I do for a living, what the event was all about once they’d seen the posters around town. Several people I know asked me how long I had been involved with Dragon Boat Racing!!

It was really fun to spend time with the people who showed up for the event, despite a glorious summer Saturday outside. Nick and I had driven back into town from Nova Scotia, where we’d rented a cottage for the week to share with my Mom and John. They stayed with the girls at the tail end of a drizzly week to enjoy the sunshine and beaches while Nick and I drove back for this special event. Our local shop even got to premiere Dragon of the Deeps fresh from the framers!!

What fun it was to spend time with those who gave up their Saturday afternoon to share tea and goodies, laughter and stories with this dragon. It was such fun to meet new fans, new colleagues and to look out at the audience that included some of the wonderful stitchers I have grown to know over the years through the spring and fall retreats at Camp Wildwood. Seeing your smiling faces around the tables meant more than you will ever know!!

As much fun as it was to unplug for a week and even end up totally out of cellphone range, vacation and escape time ultimately is made more precious by the very fact that it can’t last forever. I’ve come home feeling recharged, replete with lobster and other great meals, card gamed out, slightly sunned and far more in touch with my whimsical side as I explore a new passion... painting rocks found along the magnificent beaches here in the Maritimes into fantasy landscapes and magical wizards. I have plans for these in the fall and am having great fun bringing out what is already trapped there in the rock. Best of all, no one will be able to slap these suckers on a scanner and share them!

So it is good to be home in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, though I miss those ocean breezes. This is the weather we thought would never arrive back in the depths of January. Canada is such a country of extremes!!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Essence Of Summer...

I remember what summer felt like as a child... open days of possibilities, fluid time and warm sunshine.

My Mom and John are down for a visit and our adventures are recapturing that sense of endless possibilities that I remember from the summers of my childhood.

We need to all take the time to just PLAY. For designers, artists, writers and musicians, I think it is crucial to be creative in ways that have nothing to do with our “job” so that we remember what is is to play and to get lost in that creative spirit that was so effortless as a child. Children turn any opportunity into a moment for pretend or impossible adventure. Good movies or novels carry you away into other worlds. The simple act of unplugging from a daily routine can help us remember that each day holds a thousand possibilities in it for change, adventure, creativity, compassion and imagination.

What magic will you create in your todays and tomorrows?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tragedy and Relief...

I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night with one of those “panic attacks”... a rush of adrenaline and fluttery stomach then the long tossing and turning to try to get back to sleep. They sometimes happen before tradeshows or big events when my list of things to get done feels a bit too long. Sometimes they have happened when tragedy has stuck someone that I know, so I am always a bit jumpy when they happen until I find out that everything is OK.

I dozed off a bit but woke up before everyone in the house and snuck down to work on the cross stitch design that I’d worked out in my imagination while trying to fall asleep. Funny how some designs just flow out onto paper so easily when others take over 2 years to get just right! The queasy feeling persisted and then Nick turned on the radio as everyone got up and heard about the explosions in London!

I’m not sure if my feet even touched the stairs as I flew down to the kitchen to dial my sister, Laurie, who is now living in London with her husband for the next 5 years. We turned on the computer as well in case we couldn’t get through by phone, but luckily, she answered the phone and we were all able to hear her voice. She is staying put today and watching the news for updates as so many of us here in North America did on September 11th. After the sense of optimism and celebration that Live 8 and yesterday’s announcement of London winning the bid for the 2012 Olympics, this is a sad reminder that the world can also be a dark and scary place.

My prayers go out to everyone involved and all those who have been struck by this tragedy... as well as prayers of Thanksgiving that Laurie and Yoshi are all right!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Magic of Grandparents...

Canada Day weekend was such a blast!!! We went camping on Prince Edward Island in the backyard of one of our best friend’s parents and got adopted by the whole clan for the weekend. “Nanny Harrington” bakes far too well for me to live anywhere within walking distance of them! The kids played on the beach for hours, visited a petting farm and held baby bunnies and kittens, watched fireworks over the North Rustico harbour until almost midnight, raced on red dirt roads, played soccer on a homemade field against the grown-ups, ate lobster and mussels galore and had a wonderful weekend with their friends.

Now, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Mom and John for a summer visit. All day long it has been “how long until Nanny and Grr get here?”. I’m just not used to having them home, under foot, when they are this excited!! Of course, I am also excited too because Nick and I are going to disappear for a night, tomorrow night, to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary one night early, so maybe I am eager for them to get here too!

Mom tells me that being a grandparent is full of all the magic and less of the pressure of being a parent. It is nice to know that someday I will be driving MY girls crazy as I spoil THEIR kids rotten!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Celebrating Your Country...

Tomorrow is Canada Day and we plan to celebrate it in the birthplace of Confederation, Prince Edward Island with some very good family friends. We’ve checked the tent, packed plenty of sunscreen and bug stuff, but I need to get my web site updated for the weekend before I go. Nick has taken off his watch for the summer since he officially finished at noon yesterday. This year may take a little longer to unwind from, but this weekend away should help.

For most of us in Canada and the USA, this weekend (Canada Day for us on the 1st and the 4th of July for my family and friends in the USA) is one of get-togethers, celebrations and also, some patriotic pride in our countries. This year, while I still feel incredibly glad and privileged to live in a democracy and in a country with as many resources, opportunities and wealth as Canada, I cannot suppress a twinge of regret.

Canada’s Health Care System USED to be the envy of many countries. We used to be a country that prided itself on taking care of our sick, our elderly, our poor... We used to be a country that built great rail and roadway systems, made sure that green spaces were protected, invested in science and education so that our futures would be bright...

Sadly, our country seems to be placing more emphasis on business above all, rewarding the friends of those in power and of cutting “costs” (ie. education, health care, etc.) while still wasting MILLIONS of tax dollars on frivolous things.

My girls are learning to speak out for causes they believe in and that they have a place in any democracy. They drew posters and we went as a family to a City Council Meeting to protest a land swap that will see over 23 acres of the park near us turned over for commercial development. They are frustrated that their lives are affected by a bunch of “grown-ups who don’t care about the bunnies and squirrels whose homes they’ll be hurting”. But they are also learning that their actions can be noticed. The whole group of supporters trying to stop this “done deal” clapped when the girls posters were praised in the council meeting.

What does it take to turn a country around? I’m not sure. I do know that it begins with each individual doing their best to make their town or community a caring one. It grows stronger every time that someone speaks out against injustice or tries to correct a wrong. ... and it blooms into something beautiful every time a group of people remember to look towards the future with a vision for what a country could be instead of just reacting day by day, crisis by crisis. Let’s all take time to dream this weekend!!!

Friday, June 24, 2005

School’s Out For The Summer!

I remember that ineffable sense of freedom. Coming home on the last day of school with my report card in hand and the sense that the whole summer stretched before me full of possibilities to play, sleep in, read and draw.

Today was a blaze of summer glory, despite a weatherman’s prediction of thunder showers and rain. The girls brought home their report cards and bags of papers that look as if they have been shoved into desks all year long. Our neighbourhood gang of bus stop moms and kids gathered at one person’s house (thankfully not mine this year) for a party this afternoon as we nibbled on wonderful food and watched the kids race around with water-soaked sponges to lob at each other or bounce on the trampoline. The kids topped off the party with bowls of ice-cream sprinkled with “pop rocks”, a type of candy that fizzes and explodes in your mouth.

How different to look at summer through an adult’s eyes. Why do we lose that sense of wonder and play so easily? Is it because our routines are interrupted without school to keep things on schedule? Is it because most adults wish that they too could have a long summer to rest, recharge and just play? Perhaps we tend to romanticize that freedom a bit as well because I can remember all too well those mornings of sheer boredom once I had run through my initial list of things that I wanted to do. How long will it be until I hear my girls complain that “There’s NOTHING to DO!!” ???

After my rant and sadness at the beginning of the week, I come full circle to a sense of peace. I have had the files removed from the site thanks to a supportive contact in Russia. I have let my colleagues know about who can help protect their designs and even if those files spring up somewhere again, I have stood up for my rights. I only wish that one of the infringers who really felt they were doing nothing wrong had the courage to use their own identity so that we could see who a court of law would side with. I guess that is why so many of them lurk behind false identities and petty words.

I also have a sense of Joy and Wonder. Dragon of the Deeps has been such a pleasure for me to stitch. Even though I am painfully slower than my model stitchers, it has given me great satisfaction to watch this design come to life beneath my needle. I can’t wait to see what the reaction will be to this pattern in Charlotte. I am also glad that I have a career where I will be able to enjoy some of the summertime with my children, even if it means doing most of the work at night or when they spend some time playing together. They are at such a fun age!!

So here is a toast to the arrival of summer holidays for our family. I can’t wait until Nick joins us after HE finishes working on Wednesday!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

FInding Hope Through Tears In Song...

The transition to reality after being away is never easy. At least the girls were excited enough about seeing their friends and all of the last week of school activities to get up out of bed even when their bodies were still on EST.

The first day of summer here was glorious and the kids ran through “Ollie” an octopus sprinkler after school with some friends while the moms tried to stay out of the way and chat on the deck.

Not to bad... but then I needed to send an e-mail off to close down a Russian site that had 36 of my designs on their pages for trade or sharing. A Dragon Spotter had reported the site to me while I was up at Mom’s, but since I didn’t have my contact’s e-mail with me, I waited until I got home, not knowing how much was up on the site.

Tonight it drove me to tears. For whatever reason, I just sat there and bawled. At that moment in time I thoroughly understood Teresa’s decision to take a break from cross stitching. Why pour so much of yourself into a design and pay to have it printed when someone can steal it and share it will others so easily?

I took a break to watch this week’s Canadian Idol and called in to support the young girl from New Brunswick, but as I watched her chase her dream, I felt even more discouraged tonight that after almost a dozen years of designing, I certainly had far less to show for all my efforts in terms of financial stability than someone who had spent the same amount of time in another job. I called my Mom, just to have her say “awwwww”, which sort of helped, and then got down to work on some graphic files for a client.

I put iTunes on in the background on my other machine and one of the first songs that came up was from the Touched By An Angel CD... the song Testify to Love by Wynnona. When it hit the line of the words “Every corner of Creation lives to Testify” I felt oddly comforted with the sudden knowledge that I was being true to what I have always felt called to do... create images.

If the ones that I make in cross stitch are more vulnerable to technology, I will keep shutting things down, speaking out, trying to find ways of protecting my work better etc. I will also continue to explore other, less vulnerable ways of using my images, but I will not let this take away the joy that I have in creating things that try to make the world smile, or hope, or dream a bit more than they did before.

I will learn from and be inspired by those around me facing adversity with such incredible courage, instead of watching how the world encourages “having it all” regardless of who you hurt.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


It’s Father’s Day today and we have to head back home on the train tonight. The girls called Nick this morning, sad that they couldn’t be with their Daddy on Father’s Day and yet delighted to spoil their Grandfather, Grr. Not having had children of his own, he inherited my brother, sister and I in our late teens and has merrily thrown himself into the role of grandfather with complete abandon.

My own father gave me far more than someone to look “up” to (I still do because he tops me by almost 5 inches!) I learned how to dream impossible dreams from Dad, how to imagine worlds beyond our own through science fiction and fantasy, a love of travelling to new places and meeting new people and how to sing Tenor harmony to name a few of the things that spring to mind.

I was glad we had the chance to see my grandfather in Montreal this visit. It is wonderful to still be able to have a Grampy around in this year that I turn 40. I have been hoping all day that there will be some good golf on television for him to watch.

Father’s Day is also when I think about the people that cae into my life through my marriage to Nick. Since Nick’s parents also divorced and remarried, Ken and Jerome became new people to appreciate in our lives.

Today, half a world away, my brother Dave also celebrates Father’s Day with Owen Charles and Anne safely home from the hospital. I wish him sleep enough to be able to function at work tomorrow and the joy of having all of his now larger by one family under the roof together at last. Sleep will come again eventually!

I also think of my sister’s husband, Yoshi, who has embraced his role as uncle in a totally different culture with such grace and enthusiasm. Whether playing Barbies and Uno or discussing Pokemon and Disney movies with his nieces, he is adding a richness to their lives that they treasure.

Father’s Day is not just a celebration of biological procreation. It is a day to honour the many men in our lives who build us up, grant us wings, challenge us to be more than we are, soothe our souls, inspire us, nurture us, enchant us, make us giggle or simply add richness to the tapestry of our lives.

Happy Father’s Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Missing The Connection...

Funny how sometimes being apart can make you appreciate someone even more. This has been a tricky year with Nick taking a Vice-Principalship at a rural K-12 school about 40 km (20 minutes) from home. We remained a one van family by choice, but that also meant juggling things around sometimes or the girls and I taking the occasional taxi. I also learned to cope with longer hours on my own with the girls. Most mornings, Nick left before 7 am and got home after 5 pm. I know this pales when compared to what most parents in major centers lose to commuting time etc., but it was quite a switch from the family schedule we had the year before.

Since I was lucky enough to marry my best friend, I also found it hard when I couldn’t do much to help him adjust to what was less than a welcoming atmosphere at the new complex. It made me mad to see how hard he was working to help solve problems and not really getting the support he needed. Especially when he had gone down to that school at the request of the District, giving up a nice position at a great school in order to help the District as a whole.

With the school year almost over, and the objectivity of having spent a week away at my Mom’s, I can now see what a great learning experience this year has been for Nick. Even the darker moments taught him things about how he will or won’t run a school once he has a chance to become a Principal. It has also re-affirmed for me why I chose the type of career that I did while the girls are younger, so that I can be there when they get off the bus and help them with homework etc. Yes, sometimes that means staying up late to complete work after they go to bed, but they won’t be this age forever. Rereading my Mom’s collection of For Better Or Worse comic anthologies has reminded me of that.

It is great to know that after almost 16 years of marriage and 21 years of being together, I can miss someone so completely. I have missed all of the chats with my best friend this week, even though we have tried to call each other amid the chaos. Nick very rarely gets that “alone head space” time that I do when I go to trade shows or have an empty house all to myself during the day to get work done. I hope it has been restful in some way for him as the hectic pace of school closing time tries to run all teachers ragged.

When you marry someone, you really do create a bond/fusion of two lives that, if you work hard enough, are lucky enough and support each other enough, stands apart from other family bonds. You remember and love those who gave you live and with whom you grew up. You love, nurture and raise your children until they go off to have lives of their own. But through it all, around it all and in spite of it all, remains the bond that you forge as the years go by. I can’t wait to get home to my friend, my partner and my love!