Friday, July 30, 2010

Live and learn (to photograph well)

I have a LOT to learn about photographing my art, I have decided. It's not just point and click. I need to make a light box, to get even lighting for my work. I've tried a number of approaches: different times of day, direct/indirect lighting, indoors and outdoors, natural and artificial light. Some things photograph easily (paintings on walls). Some are a pain in the behind (anything shiny, especially frames/glass). Live and learn, so I'm trying to learn as I go.

I did finish some drawings over the past couple weeks. I need to get to work on some new paintings. I'd like to have one done by next weekend so I can give it to my sister-in-law for her birthday. I started two, and one will work out okay. The other is a total dud. Do over!

So I'll keep practicing. I find that harder to do over the summer, for some reason - I guess I have too much going on. It's much easier to focus in the winter: the kids go to bed earlier, the evenings are long and dark, we don't go out as much, and I can put in a video or some music and work for several hours in the evening. Today is just too beautiful to stay inside. So, I don't think I will - bye!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pool party

We had such a wonderful afternoon today! We had our long-awaited home-school co-op pool party today, and boy, was it worth waiting for! We postponed it a couple times, due to weather and illness, but today was perfect. Although not all of the families could attend, the four that were there had a great time. Four moms, 13 kids, bright sun and pleasant temps, a big in-ground pool, picnic foods, pool toys, lots of laughter and shouting and splashing - it was fantastic. I know my kids will sleep well tonight!

I was especially encouraged to see how the kids looked out for each other. They've gotten to know each other well over the past year. There was remarkably little friction between them all. When our son had some difficulty participating in the dodge-ball game the rest of the older kids wanted to play, they were so understanding and helpful. His Asperger's makes team sport activities difficult for him, and initially he refused to have anything to do with it - he just wanted to swim in the deep end. The pool was big, but not so big that the game could avoid him. Rather than hound him to play, or ask him to sit out while they played, the other kids decided that anyone who hit him with a ball on purpose during the game would have a penalty and have to sit out - they'd just play around him. After a little while of that, our son started helping on the fringes of the game, by returning stray balls to the players. Eventually, he joined in. The kids gave him the time, understanding, and grace to work into their activity. The moms didn't need to intervene at all; we just spectated, and marveled at how much growth and compassion the kids showed on their own.

The oldest boy there was the 15 year old son of the mom hosting the party. He was amazing with our son. They just took to each other, and he seemed to know just how to encourage him, even though they had never met before (he goes to public school). William just has a gift for interacting with kids with special needs, according to his mother, and after seeing him in action, I believe it. Our son could have stayed in the pool all afternoon with him - they were the last ones out.

I am so proud of our son's friends! And, I'm proud of him that he trusted them enough to join in their fun when he gave them a chance, and figured out the dynamics and where he could fit in. I can't tell you how much these "little things" mean to me as the mother of a child with special needs. It's "just" a game, "just" a kids' activity, "just" a pool party - but for our son, it's HUGE to have such patient, understanding friends, and to participate in a group activity that several years ago would have most likely ended with him in a meltdown and tears. Kudos to the parents of those kids, and especially to the moms who've become my friends over the past year. Good job, and God bless you all!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The discipline of creativity?

I've often wondered about how "professional" artists work. You know, people who have made art their career and their livelihood. I suppose the answers are as varied as the artists, and yet there has to be some discipline in order to consistently produce quality work, and in enough quantity to be a viable commodity to sell. I've read about people who have set themselves a daily creative task for a set number of days - like producing one drawing a day for 50 days, or listing a new item in their shop 5 days a week for a month. I'm not sure what I think of that, except that I'm pretty sure it would be tough for me to do that. Can creativity be a discipline? Does good discipline lead to creativity? Chicken, egg, chicken, egg. . . .

Still, I've been motivated to try to consciously be at work on my craft multiple times during the week. Maybe not every day, but several days out of the week I've been trying to do SOMETHING. Today was a productive day: I finished one drawing, and started (actually almost finished) another. Yesterday I started prepping two canvas panels with color to overdraw. I can already tell I like one, and I'm not satisfied with the other. I'll have to step back and consider what to do about that one. I guess that's just another step in my process of growing as an artist - practice, goof, practice again, get better, practice more.

It's only this year that I've started to tell people that I'm an artist when they ask what I do. Yes yes, I've been a teacher, but that's not how I prefer to define myself at this point in my life. I CAN teach, but I don't want to now. I CAN and WANT to create art. Still, it's hard not to feel, well, pretentious calling myself an artist. Why is that? It was okay to call myself a teacher. It was okay to call myself a home schooling mother of two. It's even okay to call myself an avid gardener, even though I have no professional credential. But "an artist"? I'm still getting my head around that one.

Maybe after I've sold more of my work, it will be easier to call myself what I already am. I don't want to be pretentious or ridiculous (which I felt when I had all these drawings and ceramic pieces, but no one was buying them). I'm also nervous about trying to find a gallery (or two) to sell my work. The art world is downright strange, a whole new world I've just dabbled my toe in while looking at the breakers offshore.

Too much philosophy too late in the day - I think I need to think about this more, and ask some good friends for their wisdom and input.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Me, a Soccer Mom??

Well, it's happened at last - I'm officially a Soccer Mom. I registered our daughter for AYSO soccer this morning. She's excited, and I think she'll have lots of fun doing it. Somehow I never imagined myself being a sports parent of any kind, let alone the totally cliched "soccer mom." I guess I don't really fit the stereotype - I don't drive a minivan - but still, this feels a bit weird. Our son has never been interested in joining a sports team, although he's decided to take basketball during Summer Enrichment at the school this year - lots of his friends play. I was never a sports-oriented kid, never played on any organized team, never LIKED anything related to gym class at all. In fact, if I'd known Calvin and Hobbes' classic definition of gym class when I was a kid ("State sponsored exercises in organized terrorism"), I would have agreed wholeheartedly. I HATED gym class. It was awful. I'm glad our daughter doesn't have my hangups in that regard, and I hope she enjoys the fun, the exercise, the team spirit, and the pleasure of winning every so often. Also, we met one of the third grade teachers at the AYSO sign-up - maybe our daughter will be in her class!

I had a lot of fun having friends and neighbors over last night for a Pampered Chef party. I used to do them once a year, but haven't for a couple years or more. I just wanted an excuse to have a bunch of people over this summer, and I know quite a few people here who like the PC products - I've been invited to a couple PC shows since we moved here, so I didn't feel like I was imposing on people by inviting them in return. It was fun to have friends and neighbors over for the evening, and the party went very well. Now that it's done, the best part is that I have a clean house to enjoy for the weekend.

It's so humid outside you can practically swim through the air. It's going to be almost 90, and I don't even want to know what the heat index will be by this afternoon. Our son is supposed to march with the Boy Scouts in our town's Bicentennial Parade at 2PM. If I bring my umbrella, I can't decide if I'm tempting fate (guaranteeing rain) or jinxing the weather (guaranteeing it won't rain). Either way, it's NOT good parade weather - especially with a chance of thunderstorms in the mix. Oh well, I hope our son enjoys being with his troop. He was a real stinker this AM before I took him to volunteer with his troop for the Fire Department's pancake breakfast. I love my son, but I'm really glad he's out of the house for most of the day today. This preteen moody crap is really getting on my nerves.

It's been fun to get to know our new guinea pig babies. They are just too cute, and very soft. They're very affectionate and relaxed for guinea pigs. Cocopuff is asserting herself as "top pig" now that it's just her and her sister Flash in the container. I'll get them a large cage later this year, when they're bigger; for now they're in a huge plastic tote. Our daughter's pig Cookie is quite excited to have the girls in the house, and I've finally convinced the kids to keep the GPs downstairs, instead of in their bedrooms.

I can't seem to focus today - dunno why, I'm just all over the place. I have to keep reminding myself of what I have to do each day lately: today I need to bake cookies (or make SOMETHING) to take to the church fellowship hour tomorrow, which I'm helping with. I also need to cut out leaves for the VBS decorations at church. HUNDREDS of leaves. (They're doing a rain forest program.) I think I'll save that for tonight, when I can make an iced coffee, put in a video or watch YouTube, and relax.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rain, Beautiful Rain

It's raining today, beautiful, soft, warm summer rain. It's put me in the mood to share some of my favorite music with you. Enjoy!

Hallelujah, grace like rain
falls down on me;
Hallelujah, all my stains
are washed away, are washed away.
From "Grace Like Rain" by Todd Agnew

Let every creature in the sea and every flying bird
Let every mountain, every field and valley of the earth
Let all the moons and all the stars in all the universe
Sing praises to the living God, who rules them by His word
Hallelujah, glory be to our great God!
Hallelujah, glory be to our great God!
From "Our Great God" by Mac Powell and Fernando Ortega

Caught in a summer rain,
I don't run for cover,
Stand out in the shower.
Rain runnin' over me!
I could stay for hours.

And though the sky is dark,
and there's a shadow on the land,
the rain comforts me -
it is the touch of His hand.

I feel his love pouring down over me,
warm healing waters that set me free.
Safe in the arms of eternity,
held by the wonder and mystery -
over me, over me, over me.

Lord knows I'm not dreaming,
it's real what I'm feeling -
mercy flowing down,
a rainbow of new meaning.

And there's a hole inside:
is there someone up above?
So now I open my heart
in the shower of His love.

I feel His love pouring down over me,
warm healing waters that set me free.
Safe in the arms of eternity,
held by the wonder and mystery.

Over me, over me,
He poured out his life over me,
Over me, over me,
I have faith.

So now I open my heart
in the shower of His love.

I feel his love pouring down over me,
warm healing waters that set me free.
Safe in the arms of eternity,
held by the wonder and mystery -

Over me,
Oh Lord I do believe
that you gave, gave it all
over me.

Love is pouring down over me,
I feel his mercy flowing over me.
Oh the wonder and mystery,
how his love pours over me....

"Over Me" by White Heart

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Guinea Girls

Just a quick post to share our new family members. Above is our daughter with Cocopuff, and below is our son with Flash (whom he named after the basset hound in "The Dukes Of Hazzard," his current favorite TV show). Yes, my youth has come back to haunt me. He's watching it right now, and it's really weird to hear Waylon Jennings narrating in the background of my life in 2010.

New look, new friends

No, it's not me getting the new look (although I'm open to the idea), and the new friends aren't human. I managed to totally clean out and rearrange two rooms yesterday (that's the new look), and I'm sitting here waiting for a friend to bring over our two new baby guinea pigs (the new friends). I think I'm just as excited as the kids are about the new pets.

The day after our son's guinea pig died, a friend of ours had two new babies born. She offered one to our son, who was thrilled. Both babies turned out to be girls, and our friend really wants to adopt another male to live with the male guinea pig they already have, so she offered me both girls. So, today we're getting Flash (our son's baby) and Cocopuff (mine). Our daughter already has a male guinea pig (Cookie), and boy, is HE going to be excited about the new arrivals. Little does he know that he'll NEVER EVER be in the same cage as they are. We do NOT want to breed guinea pigs! Cute as they are as babies, I don't want to have to deal with giving them away (partly because it's not always easy to find new homes for them, and partly because the kids would want to keep them ALL and be heartbroken to see them go).

Totally changing the subject, I've started reading a really good book by Norman Cantor, "The Civilization Of The Middle Ages." So far it's very readable (some history books are as enjoyable as day-old oatmeal). I've always loved studying history (and in fact got my B.A. in History, with a minor in Medieval Studies). If I ever had to return to teaching to support my family, I'd consider a high-school history position, even though my certification is in Special Education. But, I hate the teaching bureaucracy and stupid union games, so I'd have to be desperate to want to go back into that world again. I picked up the book from the Salvation Army. You wouldn't believe how many good books I've gotten from them, for a song.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Digging out from under it all

Where did all this CRAP come from?! Honestly, it seems like every couple months I have to go through the house and pitch/put away/donate all sorts of stuff. It accumulates so FAST, and most of it is not worth having around.

I've gotten a lot more ruthless over the years about getting rid of stuff. I'm not the minimalist my husband is more likely to be if left to his own devices, but neither am I a candidate for one of those sad shows about hoarding, or "Clean Sweep." I have my boundaries, and they're relatively tidy, but with stacks of stuff around the margins. I'm a piler, not a filer, and every so often I have to go knock the piles down to size. Which sometimes feels more like tilting at windmills - but I persist.

I have two reasons for decluttering this week: we're planning to paint the "dining room" (office, actually) soon, and I'm having a Pampered Chef party this Friday. Those are two really good excuses, hovering right over me and getting closer every hour. So I'm listing used home school materials on eBay, throwing out papers and miscellaneous junk we don't need, and sorting stuff into piles of "keep out," "box and keep," and "give away." (Darn, darn, darn, I just remembered that I meant to pick up boxes while I was out this morning. Phooey. Oh, well, what's another errand?)

I know, this post has nothing to do with gardening, or art, but it sure is a part of life - my life, at least. And I'm hoping that the decluttering will give me more time and focus for my art and my gardening, so I guess it's all connected. I really want to be able to spend more time creating, and less time cleaning.

Wish me luck! And prayer wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Genius does not equal grace

I just finished reading "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling," by Ross King, a semi-biography of both Michelangelo and Pope Julius II, documenting the creation of the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It was a really great read, very interesting (my only complaint being that the book needed MORE PICTURES to go with the excellent text). This book sparked a whole cascade of thinking for me, since it totally demolished something that I had believed for a long time.

Where did I ever get the idea that Michelangelo was a nice person? He was absolutely NOT. He was arrogant, rude, selfish, whiny, and utterly unsociable. Boy, did I ever deceive myself somewhere along the way that he must have been a "nice" person in order to create such magnificent Christian art. Now, I KNOW better than that, really I do - I don't make that assumption about people in general, that their talent makes them automatically more pleasant to associate with. Plenty of people of great talent or even genius are really unlikeable, obnoxious, nasty, or even evil. All people (from great to average to mediocre to nonexistent talent) can be just as hard to deal with at times. Heck, we're all broken and dysfunctional in some way. I don't know any natural-born saints. But somewhere in my life I got the idea that Michelangelo was a "good man" because of what he created. I think it's fair to say that the Lord uses all of us in some way every day in spite of our brokenness, and not only when we're actually obeying Him and living the way He calls us to.

I've known for quite a while that Pope Julius II was a nasty piece of work. He may have represented Christ's authority to the Catholic world during his lifetime, but anyone with eyes could (and did) see that he was NOT any kind of paragon of Christian behavior. I don't think it's any coincidence that during his papacy a monk named Martin Luther visited Rome and was totally disillusioned by what he saw, and went home to do some serious thinking and praying. Still, I was upset at the portrait of the man and the Catholic church hierarchy that emerged in this book. How could someone claim to be Christ's representative to humanity and act the way he did? How could so many of the church leaders act that same way? Where were the people who really loved the Lord during this time? How many people lost their faith because of how their leaders acted? What a mockery of Jesus the church made!

But, this begs the question: Are we any different today? I don't think so. The failings of leadership are always more obvious to the public than those of private (anonymous) citizens, but in my own life I have been just as much a hypocrite, just as selfish, just as sinful as any church leader held up to the glaring light of the Truth. Does it matter that I influence "only" dozens of people, instead of hundreds, thousands, millions? No. I'm still responsible for my actions before God and other people. And no church or church leader is perfect. (If they claim to be so, run, don't walk, the other way!)

So, Michelangelo Buonarotti and Pope Julius II - we're more alike than I ever knew. How sobering.

I don't know the state of the artist's soul, but maybe I'll see him in heaven. I hope I do. Two forgiven sinners, who tried to glorify the Lord through their art.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Old dog, new tricks.

I'm learning new things every day, it seems. This week's adventure: making jewelry. I wanted to see if my abstract designs would sell as pendants, but I decided to sell them as complete necklaces so I could control how they're presented. I think I could learn to love making jewelry, but I've got room for only so many interests at a time.

I made the pendants last month, but I didn't get them back from the studio in Corning until Friday, when I went to visit my parents. I brought the pre-made leather necklaces with me, along with silver-toned slides and nickel jump rings, and I put the pendants on the necklaces during my visit. I'm pleased with how they turned out. I can only hope that others will like my work and be willing to buy it. All six necklaces are "live" in my shop now, during Etsy's "Christmas In July Sale," so I hope they'll get some views and hearts, and SELL.

My husband has been so encouraging of my artistic efforts. He wants to help me turn my art into a true second income. He's the numbers guy in the family, the one who runs the budget and keeps us honest and responsible. I NEED someone like him, especially if I want to truly run my own business. He can be my business manager. (We joke that he'll be behind me while I work, saying, "Paint faster!")

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Changeable as the weather.

It seems like July has been a month of extremes for me. Some really good highs, some really crashing lows, and sometimes not much "hang time" in between them. I'm trying to concentrate on the middle-to-high ground, rather than complain and moan. I keep telling the kids to try to CHANGE things that bother them, rather than just COMPLAIN about them, so I'm trying to take my own advice.

The skies have been wonderfully changeable in my part of Upstate NY lately. I love watching the weather, and it's been a real treat for the past week. Glorious blood-orange sunsets, new moon setting under Venus, massive thunderheads coasting by, rain in every combination from spritz to driving downpour, clear skies, cartoon-cloudy skies, god-rays through the overcast skies, humidity so intense I could almost drink the air. . . .

Unfortunately, everyone I know seems to be going through a spate of changeable fortune and emotions. I'm hoping we'll return to a state of comparative peace and equilibrium soon, but I know that in this world that's a very temporary state of being. I'm reminded of what Jesus said in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." I hope for His peace, now and forever.

(The pictures in this posting were taken less than half an hour ago. An intense storm went just south of us, and we could see cloud-to-cloud lightning. Just to the southwest of it we could see the moon setting, and just to the west we could see the glorious sunset. It was amazing!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Random Ramblings

We went to Darien Lake on Saturday, and the kids really enjoyed the water park. They also rode their favorite rides (i.e. bumper cars, scrambler, and swings). Neither of them were interested in the roller coasters, so my husband rode it with his sister, who went with us for the day (and helped us get seriously discounted tickets). I'm not into hyper-scary coasters. Basic double-loop ones, okay. Old-fashioned wooden ones, fine. Feet-dangling, hair-raising, sky-high nausea-fests? Not so much. I actually only rode one ride all day - the Ranger. The kids thought I was nuts, but I've always liked that one.

Our 11-year-old son is now watching "The Dukes Of Hazzard," from a boxed set we got from a game/dvd trade-in place. He asked for it for his end of school year prize. (We never did report cards, but the kids both worked for a special prize to end this school year.) The attraction of this piece of my childhood for my son? Car crashes, car chases, silly jokes and cartoonish plots. Oh, well, it could be much worse, I suppose. It's just strange to hear those familiar voices and sound bites coming from the other room, and I'm almost 42, not 14.

(You know you're getting old when your son gets a "Back To The Future" VHS tape and says to you, "Wow, they don't get much older than this!" He also loves 80s music, and was thrilled with the Huey Lewis and the News CD I gave him for our 4th of July trip. My high school years are coming back to haunt me.)

I'm on a campaign to wear the kids out every day this summer. What else are summers for? Today I took them and my daughter's friend to the local pool, and they swam for 2 1/2 hours. I sat and started on a new drawing, which I actually finished in the time I was there. It was very peaceful, except for some toilet-mouthed teens (who another parent or lifeguard reprimanded at some point, since I overheard them indignantly talking about it). You'd think watching their language around little kids would be automatic, but obviously some teens don't care. Sad.

One of the ceramic items I have at The Lemon Tree in Wake Forest, NC, sold last month. It's a small thing, but makes me hopeful that more of my items will sell there. I've got more things to send down there this weekend. I think I'll go visit my parents on Friday. Not only do I just want to see them, but they also have the finished ceramics from Earth, Paint & Fire in Corning that I dropped off last month. I'm trying my hand at making ceramic pendants in my unique designs, to see if selling them will be worthwhile. Time will tell.

I've had some beautiful daylily seedlings bloom this week. I've got a couple more "keepers," and a bunch to compost or give away. A couple are homely or wimpy, a bunch are pretty but not special, and a handful are quite nice (to my eyes, at least). I think I'll go out and do some more yard work soon, since it should be a beautiful evening.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Vacation

We're back from a 5 day circuit of the Eastern U.S., visiting family in Hickory, NC, and Wheeling, WV. Our trip has coincided with the massive heat wave baking the east coast - thank the Lord for air conditioning! It was in the high 90s with high humidity everywhere we went.

In Hickory, we spent the 4th of July holiday with my sister and her family. Kelly and Sam opened their home to us, and we really enjoyed spending time with them and their little boy Mitchell, who is 11 months old now. Our kids were so excited to play with their baby cousin, and it was so much fun to be around a baby again. Mitchell is a pretty easygoing, mild-mannered baby (which means he might have siblings - on purpose - someday, lol!). He's also bomb-proof, since he slept through the fireworks being set off right in front of him. Kelly and Sam's friends Marie and Josh invited us all over to their place for a cookout and fireworks. They had an inflatable water slide set up, and our kids were thrilled. Fireworks are legal in NC (unlike NY), so Josh set off all sorts of whiz-bangs in the cul-de-sac in front of their house. We had a fantastic time, and hope to get down there again, possibly over the winter.

While we were at Kelly and Sam's, we went to a kids' science center in Hickory. It had all sorts of great hands-on activities for the kids, and also an aquatic-themed center with large open tanks of sharks and rays, hermit crabs, turtles, and fish, which the kids could touch under supervision. We were there for the shark/ray feeding, which our daughter just HAD to watch. She's the nature child of the family, just like her Mom. They also have a butterfly "atrium," which we all enjoyed a lot.

We went on to Wheeling, WV, to spend a couple nights with my aunt and uncle. We always love seeing them, and this time was no exception. The weather was so hot, we just spent a lot of time sitting in the AC and talking. Aunt Beth always has lots of things for the kids to do, since she and Uncle Chris were teachers for many years. (Uncle Chris was a principal as well, and used to take us to his school over the weekend to play with all the gym equipment. Great memories!) We also saw my cousin Nicole while we were there.

To combat the heat, we went to the huge Cabela's sporting goods store there. They have massive fish tanks full of native freshwater fish and turtles, as well as enough taxidermy to please any hunter. So what did I buy there? FUDGE! They have a "general store" area that makes and sells fresh fudge. Their key lime fudge is absolutely divine, and their German chocolate is wonderful. I bought some to share later that day. Then we went to Coldstone Creamery for ice cream and smoothies.

On the way out of town on our last day, we went to the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum, something our son has wanted to see for several years now. It was a very nice museum, not huge but with some good displays. Our son's favorite part was the model trains, and they had two rooms with large layouts running. He could have stayed there all day. My favorite part was seeing some of the vintage toys (I have a hard time calling them antiques when they're from my own childhood!), including my favorite doll (a Jane West action figure) and horse (Jane's faithful pinto). My husband liked seeing things from his childhood, too. Ah, nostalgia!

We survived the drive home, and were very glad to be here, in spite of the upstairs being 90+ degrees (the AC was off up there while we were gone), and one of our cats leaving us "messages" that she was not pleased that we were gone so long (don't ask).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Daylily 'Dominic'

Daylily 'Dominic' is a very velvety dark maroon - gorgeous in low evening light.

The kids are really flaky today - must be the end of a long week, and right before a much-anticipated weekend trip. I've spent today chasing laundry, getting the pets ready to be on their own for several days, making sure I got a couple packages out in the mail, picking up a prescription, and generally tying up loose ends. The hardest part: getting the kids to go to bed EARLY, because we have to get up very early to leave. Our son in particular is NOT amused at this turn of events, even though we told him days ago that this would be happening. He also was quite annoyed that I packed his duffle for him. If I let him do it by himself, he'd wind up with one pair of socks, five shirts, two pair of shorts, and no underwear for a long weekend trip. I intervened, and showed him what I packed and told him to switch out anything he couldn't deal with. He told me he was going to nail his door shut so people would leave him alone. My husband said (quietly), "I'd be glad to." Ah, parenthood!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Answers and questions

Daylily 'Dallas Star,' an oldie but goodie, and one of my favorites.

One more hurdle overcome this week: an appointment with a clinical psychologist to get the results of our son's testing from last week. No real surprises, except for the diagnosis of a math learning disability on top of the Asperger's Syndrome, and that was more of a "Yeah, that makes sense," moment than a "What do you mean?" moment. So now we have the information to take back to the school to start the process of drawing up an IEP. I never thought I'd be living back in IEP-land after leaving special education 12 years ago, but here I am approaching it from the other side.

We like the doctor, and he was encouraging about all the social activities we've had our son participate in, and he seemed to think that was even more important than getting the upper hand on his academics. We did get a laugh when he said that our son could be a textbook case for AS, and would make a good classroom example (he's a professor as well as a clinician). So, we've got a lot of work to do to help our son make the most of his public school experience. Thank God for a good school district that should be able to help our son, and by extension all of us in his family.

I'm so tired of thinking about all of this. Everything. I'm ready for summer vacation - long evenings on the porch, drawing, or in the garden, puttering; taking the kids on field trips (I've got to start calling them DAY trips, or outings, or something not in education-ese); watching the sunset off of Verona Beach. Time to slow down and BREATHE.

On a lighter note, I just finished the design for a tattoo. I can't remember if I mentioned this on the blog before, but someone working at McMurdo Base in Antarctica contacted me through Etsy a while ago to design a tattoo for her. She plans to have it inked when she's on her "summer" break in New Zealand (in October). She asked me to create a 6" abstract wreath, so she could put a quotation in the center. I just sent her a closeup of the design, and she's delighted with it. Now we're figuring out the ins/outs of getting it from Upstate NY to Antarctica via Military Mail. I still can't get over the fact that someone likes my art enough to permanently tattoo it on their body. Wild!