Not Dead Yet…

To quote Inago Montoya, “Let me explain. No wait, that takes too long. Let me sum up.”

Cassie’s ear infection came with a nasty case of strep, which I didn’t know about until she’d been home five days straight. Her fever finally broke that day and she went back to preschool just in time for Sam to come down with the creeping crud. Or should I say the creeping croup? My baby sounded like she was trying to hock up a bag of wet cement all last week. The pediatrician put her on antibiotics and sent me home with a nebulizer so I could spray her in the face twice a day with steroids to open up her lungs. Not fun. However, my best friend Mary, who is a nurse, says the screaming helps Sam inhale more of the medication.

Needless to say, I got no sleep for a week straight, because if Sam couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t sleep. She ended up in my arms all night every night. The less she slept, the more tired she got, and the more tired she got, the more she screamed, and the more she screamed the more she coughed, and the more she coughed the less she slept. And on and on and on.

I had such different visions of how this holiday season would go. I had planned to spend my weekends baking and my afternoons sewing doll clothes for Cassie’s Barbies. Instead, I got non-stop screaming and endless hacking and wheezing. My peaceful holiday is shot. And since I’ve had my hands full with sick kids, I haven’t been able to do any holiday shopping for my friends. So I got nothing but love for you guys, and in the spirit of that love, let me just say this. Stay the hell away from the Madden family unless you want to die a lingering death brought on by the plague.

Merry Christmas.

Damn. I just realized I missed Bodhi Day entirely.

Still Sick And Teething

Cassie’s been home four days straight now with a temperature that bounces around between 99 to 104 degrees. Sam cut her first tooth last night, but a second one must be coming in right behind it because she keeps screaming all evening when I try to feed her.

Somebody shoot me. Please.

Sick And Teething

Cassie is home for the third day in a row with her ear infection and the flu. I can’t believe I got this kid a flu shot. She’s been sick twice since she got it. Meanwhile, Sam is teething. I swear, in the history of teething this is the longest time a child has ever taken to cut a tooth. She’s been fussing and drooling for weeks. I made the mistake of giving her Anbesol right before nursing her, and now my left nipple is numb.

And of course, I’m still struggling with the writing. I may or may not have had a break through on the “two gay guys and a horse” story last night. I at least was able to write the ending, which was good. However, I wrote it by hand in a notebook while taking a bath, so this afternoon I get to decipher my sopping wet notes. Note to self, buy a small hand-held recorder and get a bath tub tray to make this easier next time.

Cassie is currently tucked in bed for a little morning rest. I can’t stand the idea of her sitting in front of the TV all day again, even if she is sick. I pulled out the comforter we were saving for Christmas and told her it was a magic fairy blanket from Grandmama and it would help her get better if she’d get in bed and curl up with it for a while. There are actually fairies on it, by the way. Wish I had a magic fairy blanket to curl up under…

Sam, meanwhile, is nursing away. I’m wondering if she’ll be awake when she’s done or not. If she’s asleep, I’m going to sit down and write and let Michael run to the pharmacy. I hope she stays awake though. I’d rather work through her afternoon nap. She blew it off yesterday and it just about killed me.

Since both kids are quiet right now, maybe I better get to work while I can.

I Cannot Get A Break…

Michael and I went to bed last night around 10:30PM. Sam woke me up crying at midnight, so I did what any sensible mom would do. I turned down the monitor and went back to sleep. That may sound harsh but honestly, the kid is almost six months old and weighs about as much as a small SUV. She needs to learn to sleep through the night.

Of course, her sister woke up screaming and came running into our room about an hour after that. She complained that monsters had woken her up. I let Cassie sleep in the bed for a little while until it became obvious that she was more interested in playing than sleeping and I had Michael pack her off to her own bed.

Then Sam woke up screaming bloody murder at 2:30AM and this time I couldn’t ignore it (although somehow Michael managed to sleep through it) so I got out of bed and fetched the baby. I nursed her in bed for twenty minutes, right up until she decided to stick her fingers in my nose. Then she went back to her crib.

Around 3:30AM, I woke up to hear Cassie crying. With a HUGE sigh, I got up again and checked on my eldest child. She was sobbing about the monsters again, so I brought her back to bed with me. After about half an hour of being poked and prodded, her father announced that if Cassie couldn’t keep still, she’d have to go back to her own bed again. So Cass turned over and started poking and prodding me and I immediately told Michael to take Cassie back to bed.

My alarm goes off at five these days. Somehow I managed to crawl out of bed and get a shower, finishing up just in time to hear both children wake up screaming (again I wonder, how the hell does Michael sleep through that?). Sam is apparently teething and Cassie complained that her ear hurt. So after a long sleepless night, guess how my day went. No really. Guess.

Yep. Cassie stayed home from school and both she and Sam spent most of the day screaming. Somehow, I don’t know how, I managed to finish off the paperwork for my new publisher (I have a publisher! Joy!) and send that out, but most of the day was spent rocking one child or the other. As of right now, it’s 6:45PM and I’m desperately hoping I can get both kids in bed before 7:30 so I can have a drink and pass out. I really, really need the sleep.

Addendum: Michael went to karate class tonight. I stayed home with the kids. Sam was out by 7PM, but it took forever to settle Cassie. I gave her a bath, hoping that would calm her down, but as soon as she came out, she vomited all over the bathroom floor. She’s finally asleep now, but I may have Michael sleep on an air mattress in her room, just to keep an eye on her. I’m going to try to finish my evening chores and take a bath myself. Since Cassie still has a temperature of over 102 degrees, I will be keeping her home tomorrow as well. It may sound callous to think of work when my child doesn’t feel well, but if the kids keep getting sick, I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to work again. This is driving me crazy!


Well, I don’t know about you, but we had a nice Thanksgiving here Thursday. What made it particularly nice for me was the fact that I got to spend two hours writing, even though both Michael and Cassie were home all day. I have this little problem, you see, when those two are here. I just can’t get anything done. It’s been especially aggravating the last six weeks as I’ve struggled with writer’s block. I just know that having some time to actually sit down and writer would solve that problem, but it’s almost impossible to do that when the house is in a complete uproar.

What is it about having my husband and eldest child home that makes things so chaotic? It’s probably scheduling, or the lack there of. When I’m home alone with Sam, I’ve got a routine that we follow as close as we can. Nap times are at 8:30AM and 2PM. Bath time is at 7:30AM. Afternoon play time is from noon to one. Etc., etc., etc. I know what we’ll be doing and when, and I’ve built the entire schedule around Sam’s naps which, by the way, are my work hours.

Michael, however, doesn’t have this schedule memorized. Why should he? He’s not home most of the days and he doesn’t do the breastfeeding (which is also done on a schedule). Plus, he doesn’t like to get up at the butt-crack of dawn like I do, so when he’s home on the weekends, he doesn’t set his alarm to wake him up. Without a definite starting point, his day runs in a state of flux. And that’s fine for him because he knows what he has to do and he’ll eventually get it done before Monday rolls around. Unfortunately, his state of flux blows my carefully regimented schedule all to hell.

Things really came to a head on Wednesday. Due to the storm that rolled through here, Michael stayed home from work. I tried to keep Sam on a schedule, but I hadn’t even considered that Michael would be home that day, so I ran around trying to do my usual thing and kept tripping over him. That put Sam’s nap schedule way off, and my work hours too. Plus Cassie was home as well, and we were supposed to do some fun stuff that day so even though I was massively behind schedule, I took a hour or two to sit and paint with her because I promised her I would. I even read her stories and got her down for a nap, but Sam woke up about then and that was the end of my hopes for my afternoon work hours. Michael did try to rescue me. He offered to take Sam for a while so I could write. But five minutes after he left, Cassie woke up, demanding to know where her father was. When she found out he’d left, she threw a major tantrum, one that lasted right up until Michael got home. And when he walked into the house, I decided to throw a tantrum too.

“I hate it when you guys are home! I can’t get anything done! I sold a book last week, damn it, but I’ll never be able to write again because you keep screwing up my schedule! I’m tired of my work being treated like a second class priority just because it’s erotica and I work at home. If I don’t get some time to write today, I’m putting you and little Miss I-Gotta-Scream out on the lawn and I don’t care if it’s raining!”

And on and on and on. To Michael’s credit, he stood there and took it all like a man. Then he slipped out of the bedroom and took Cassie downstairs so I could work for an hour.

After my little tirade, I decided something had to be done, so I printed out a blank schedule form and sat down with Michael that night to review what would happen the next day. We wrote down nap times and meal times, added time for Michael to cook Thanksgiving dinner, and put in my work hours too. Then I posted our schedule on the fridge where we could see it and went to bed. The next morning, I got up at the butt-crack of dawn and Michael got up at 7AM, just like we’d scheduled it. And the whole day just fell into place like magic.

It was amazing how well that worked. It worked so well I was caught completely unprepared when my afternoon work hours rolled around and I had free time to do whatever I wanted. And we sat down again last night with another blank schedule and filled in that one too. So far, the day’s working out as planned. I just can’t believe it.

So there you go. I’m grateful for schedules that work and husbands who put up with temper tantrums and children who nap. I’d be grateful for the husband and kids even if they didn’t act like such angels yesterday, but you know what? It makes all the difference in the world to know they care about whether or not I get work done.

Writer’s Blockhead

I think I can honestly say, I would rather go through another vaginal birth than deal with writer’s block. Yes, vaginal birth is extremely painful. There is nothing quite like having another living being rip its way out of your uterus and then tear up your clitoris as it exits your vagina, but I gotta tell you. At least you know that eventually, the pain will end. You will somehow eject that sucker from your body, and if you can’t, someone is always willing and waiting to cut a four-inch hole in your gut to get that kid out of you.

Writing is not so easy. I have a story stuck inside me. I’ve been working on it for about a month now. I’m twenty pages into it. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say it’s about two gay men who both love the same horse. No, not THAT way. Get your mind out of the gutter…

Where was I? Oh yeah, I’ve got twenty pages of story written and it’s all crap. I cannot get past page 20 to save my life. I keep going back and rewriting the same scenes over and over. I have ideas for what should come next, but those scenes are still a little ways down the line, like at page 32 or there abouts. What I need to write is what comes between page 20 and page 32, but I can’t figure out what goes there so I keep going back through the first twenty pages hoping I’ll figure out how to get from point A to point C.

If you’ve been hearing some very loud screaming and cursing coming from the southeastern area of Virginia, you now know what it is. It’s me. Oh, and that repetitive crashing sound? That’s also me, smashing my head against a brick wall.

Unlike a baby, no amount of pushing is going to get this story out of me. I know it’s there. I can feel it dancing around the edges of my conscious brain. I just can’t get a hold of it to put it down on the page. And unfortunately, there’s no doctor standing by waiting to cut it out of me, fully formed and ready to go. So I’m screwed. It really is like having the baby’s head sticking out of your wazoo and not being able to get it out any further, and I fear I may go through the rest of my life like this because that’s how bad writer’s block really is.

I tried today to work around the block by sitting at the computer and just typing out whatever ideas came to me, but that wasn’t very productive because SOMEBODY (Sam) decided she’d rather scream than take a nap. Screaming is not conducive to defeating writer’s block (although I must admit, I have been doing a lot of it myself; see my earlier comments above).

I’m hoping a hot bath and a glass of wine might loosen my brain tonight and allow me to figure out what to do with this stupid story. I’m also hoping that if I get Sam up at the crack of dawn, she will go down for a nap with very little fuss. I’m hoping. But if you hear more screaming coming from this corner of the world… well, you’ll know what’s going on.


To quote Madeline Kahn, “I’m so tired…”

I don’t know what my problem is. I know I went to bed at an early hour (for me at least), and I only got up once with Sam. She wanted to nurse at 3:45 AM, which shot my plans to get up at 4:30 all to hell, but oh well. I just can’t get up at 4:30 if I’ve already been up within an hour prior to that. Now, if Sam would wake at 2 AM, or even sleep through the night, I’d be fine, but she’s not in the mood to cooperate these days.

Being tired hurts when you’re a mom. It hurts because you can’t you just can’t get anything done. Like my work. I’ve spent the last few weeks struggling with a story. I’ve got twenty pages written, but it’s been agonizingly slow work, and I don’t know why. I just can’t get this story written. There are times when I think I’m doing really well with it, then I look at it and realize it’s all wrong. There’s too much dialogue, not enough action. Or else there’s too much action, and it’s too intense for that point in the story. I’m laboring over every single word and nothing is flowing out of me. I’m about ready to scrap the damn thing, which truly hurts because of the amount of time I’ve already wasted on it. But honestly, I can’t get this story to move. It’s just not happening. It’s like trying to walk with a small child strapped to each leg, you know?

So I’m tired. However, I did manage to accomplish a successful switch over to Blogger Beta. At least I think it’s been successful. Maybe I should knock on wood. The site looks pretty much as it did before, but now all my dedicated readers (both of them) can find entries based on topic. That’s right, I did this all for you guys, because you know I love you.

One change you should note. Art will now be posted as a separate entry. Thanks to the handy-dandy category function of Blogger Beta, I can label each art entry as art, so if anyone just wants to peruse through the pretty pictures, they just have to hit the “Art” topic link and they’ll get it. And to make sure I continue to do some artwork every day, I have devised a new rule. I can post art without a written blog entry, but I will not post a written blog entry without art. Whoopee! Don’t that sound like fun.

I’m so tired…

Sisyphus, I Feel Your Pain

I spent three hours yesterday morning cleaning my house – vacuuming, sweeping, taking out the trash, scrubbing litter boxes, folding laundry (lots and lots of laundry). Then I spent another hour that evening scrubbing my kitchen until it sparkled. I was so thrilled with how clean the place looked and smelled. This morning, I put in another two hours, scrubbing cat puke and baby spit-up stains out of the carpet, washing windows, wiping down both upstairs bathrooms and doing yet even more laundry. By 1 PM when I left to work out at the Y, my house was pristine. When I got back at 2…

Sigh. I hate cleaning. I always swore to myself that I would not end up like my mother, spending every weekend on my hands and knees scrubbing the house. I swore I wouldn’t spend entire days just washing and folding load after load of laundry.

What the hell happened to me?

To make things even worse, I got nothing else done this weekend, including artwork. For some reason, I cannot seem to lever myself out of bed early on the weekends. I don’t know why. It’s not like I stay up any later on weekends than I do on weekdays. I just can’t seem to get moving. I wonder if the problem is that weekends are just so chaotic. No matter how hard Michael and I try to impose some sort of order on the day, we just can’t seem to put together a plan and make it happen. I wish I knew how to change that, because it’s getting to the point where I hate dealing with weekends.

Okay, I will take that last statement back. I did get to do one thing I enjoyed this weekend, and that’s go to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens with Michael and the kids. It was a wonderful afternoon and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with my loved ones. I just wish the rest of the weekend hadn’t rolled over me like a twenty-ton stone.


In lieu of the artwork I didn’t do this weekend, here is what I completed last Thursday. The first two images have been posted here previously. The third is the image in its current state. I’ve taken the bed scene and worked out the perspective in Corel Draw, adding details like the bedspread and wall decorations so I can print the whole thing and trace it by hand onto a sheet of drawing paper. Then I’ll scan the traced image back in and start working on digitally painting the final image. Yes, I’m going around my ass to get to my armpit with this one, jumping back and forth between digital and traditional methods, but it’s the only way I can figure out how to do this particular image. It’s ass-backwards, but that’s what happens when you don’t plan things out. No wonder this frickin’ thing is taking forever.

Reclining Figure, September 2006

Beautiful Bed, rough draft, October 2006

Beautiful Bed, perspective draft, November 2006

Head… Must… Explode!

My friends tell me they can tell how well or how poorly my week is going by the number of blog entries I make. Lots of blog entries mean I’ve got time on my hands and very little stress. Fewer blog entries mean my head must be about ready to explode. Guess which end of the spectrum I’m at right now?

Cassie is over her flu bug, but has been cranky as all get out. I swear, I think somebody dropped a crab down that child’s shorts, the way she keeps screaming all the time. On Friday morning, after I’d been up with Sam the Fuss Pot all night, Cass came running in at 6 AM, yelling “Mommy! It’s time to get up!” “No, no, honey. Mommy’s tired. Why don’t you lay in bed with me for a few minutes and then we’ll get up and have breakfast?” I swear to you, all I wanted was five more minutes of sleep and a chance to let Michael finished getting dressed so he could take Cassie downstairs and feed her while I dragged myself and Sam out of bed. But apparently Cassie thought I had just told her that I was never getting out of bed because I was an evil sloth demon, because she began screaming at the top of her lungs. “GET UP! GET UP YOU VILE BEAST OF LAZINESS! IT’S SIX AM AND YOU MUST GET UP!” Needless to say, I did get up and I picked that child up by the waist band of her pajama bottoms and hauled her little tookus right back to her own bed where I left her, still screaming, while I went back to my bed. Perhaps I am an evil sloth monster after all.

But Cassie is feeling better and is most certainly going back to pre-school today. Hell, she could have the bubonic plague and I’d still send her to preschool because I can’t take much more of this. I love my child, but she’s driving me crazy.

The upside of all this is that I’ve done some nice cartooning while watching kiddie TV with Cassie. I’ve got designs for three cool characters roughed out, plus story ideas jotted down, and plenty of projects just lined up and waiting for me to work on. Oh yeah, lots of stuff to do, cool stuff, art stuff, writing stuff, stuff I love… stuff I have no frikkin’ time to get to because I AM A MOM! AAAAAUUUUUGH!!

Do you see my problem here? This is why my head is about to explode. Lots of ideas for stories and art, no time to express them into reality. Bummer.

Oh well, such is life. Eventually, both kids will be in school, and then I will have my free time back. Too bad my sanity will have long since departed.


Here is one of the character sketches I was talking about. This is Angel Baby. She’s craaaaaazy!

Stress And The Stay-At-Home Mom

Today is not a good day. I feel frayed and tattered, like one of those terry cloth rags I use to scrub the kitchen every night. I’ve got holes worn through my fabric, and lots of loose threads just waiting to unravel at the wrong moment. Then there’s what feels like a big knot of matted cat hair wrapped up inside me. Naturally, I’m also covered in spit up.

What was it Bilbo Baggins said? “I feel like butter scraped thin over too much toast?” That sounds about right this morning.

Between my parents’ visit and Michael’s business trip, I’m worn out. The house is a wreck, Sam and Cassie are all off-schedule and even worse, I got almost no work done during the last two weeks. If there’s any sure indicator of my mood, it’s the level of work I’ve accomplished. No work means no joy in my book. To top things off, money is a little tight right now, which bothers the hell out of me because I don’t contribute financially to the household – I just suck out more funds. I’m trying to remind myself that there was a time when I made 42 grand a year and paid half the bills, and yet I was miserable because to make that kind of money I had to put in 80 hours a week at a job I absolutely loathed. If I still had that job and that paycheck today, I’d probably still feel even worse than I do now because it would mean I’d be spending 80 odd hours a week slaving away for some idiot instead of spending time at home taking care of my kids. I try to remember that. I try to imagine feeling worse than I do right now.

Yet I still can’t shake that worn out dish rag feeling.

Self portrait, 30 October 2006