On Sale Now: A is for All-Nighter, A Parent’s Alphabet

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I am excited to announce that my first illustrated book,  A is for All-Nighter, is now on sale on Amazon, for $12.99.  If you would like a signed copy, you can pre-order them by clicking the Buy Now button at the right.  They will start shipping on Dec 6.

The official publication date was November 27, and the book went up on Amazon then.  Thanks to Thing1 we caught an error before the final printing and the first shipment will arrive December 5.

This book is a huge step for me in simultaneously taking control of and surrendering to my creative life.

For so many years I held back from drawing or writing because I bought into the idea that if you weren’t Picaso or Tolstoi, if you were just a middle-aged, paunchy housewife, you couldn’t have anything worthwhile to say with your art.

My new idea is that the things that happen around the dinner table or at the laundry line are as important as the events in the great halls of government and business because, let’s face it, that’s where those events ultimately begin.  That idea is that the messes and bills can make you cry… or they can make you laugh if you let them (just don’t do it hysterically or your kids may try to have you committed – but that’s for another book). 

A is for All-Nighter is my way of giving the raspberry to my old,overblown idea that art should only be left to ‘professional’ artists. Raspberries have always been a favorite for me anyway.  I’m hoping you like them too 🙂

Throwback Thanksgiving

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I got to thinking of this post from last year as we started thinking about putting up the tree.  We can afford a ‘real’ tree these days, but we’re still attached to our little $10 second hand artificial one.  For us, it’s very real:

I’m not religious, but I’m a sucker for family traditions.  Most of our traditions are handed down, but there is one we accidentally created on our own.

A number of years ago healthcare issues and crappy insurance had nearly bankrupted us, and we had money for only the bare essentials.  We knew a tree was out of the question and had satisfied ourselves with decorations we had collected in the first 10 years of our marriage.  I had cobbled together food for our feast from gifted grocery cards and my latest paycheck and had about $35 to last the few days until my next paycheck when I headed to a thrift store that had been advertising $5 coats for kids.

I had completely excavated a corner of $5 coats when I noticed a long box behind the clothing rack. A few tugs and I unearthed an artificial tree.  The masking tape holding the box closed had a few sentences promising a complete tree for the low, low price of $10.  Reason failed me, and before I knew it, a six-year-old Thing1 and I were packing the box and his new coat into the station wagon.

It was the perfect find at the perfect time.  The bank account may have been empty, but the house was full. As far as Thing1 knew, it was the perfect Christmas, and he was right.

Since then, jobs have changed and bills have been caught up.  When it’s our turn to host Christmas we occasionally spring for a tree from the nearby tree farm (we love the tree-cutting ritual). Most years, however, our $10 second-hand fake fir still occupies the spot of honor in the living room and in my heart.

Off Grid

  
Once upon a family vacation a long, long time ago, Nephew1 was watching Grandpa bring groceries from the car into the kitchen which was located on the second floor of their house. Nephew1 was about three years old and was watching the progress with fascination through the bars of the railing at the top of the stairs. 

On one of the trips, Grandpa bought a watermelon almost to the top of the stairs and then reached across to the landing and nudged it through the bars which were wide enough apart to accommodate a watermelon but not to allow a three-year-old to fall through. They were wide enough apart for Nephew1 to observe wonder what would happen if you gave a watermelon a little push through the bars to the ugly indoor-outdoor carpeting below.

Grandpa realized what Nephew1 was wondering a moment too late and yelled out a warning just as the watermelon began to plummet. The moral of that story is that thanks to curious three-year-olds ugly indoor-outdoor carpeting will never go completely out of style.

I tell that story because I have been conspicuously absent from my blog for the last week. Thanksgiving week – complete with a house full of guests and meals to plan for – required full focus. There was no time for art or stories, I thought.

The week started on Saturday with cleaning and the entire family was drafted for the duration of the weekend. Monday was the beginning of the shortened workweek, combined with holiday grocery shopping. Tuesday was for making beds, greeting the first wave of family, and doing a little pre-feast cutting. Wednesday the rest of the guests and my first book arrived.

The books, like my blog this week, sat in their box, ignored, for most of the afternoon while I got our slow cooker meal on the table and made sure cousins had pillows and enough blankets. It wasn’t till after dinner that I pulled a few copies out to look at and to share with the people who had inspired them.

Kids and grown-ups laughed as they recognized themselves and the chaos in the pages. After a few flips of the page, Thing1 asked if I was taking revenge on the kids. I leaned over to see which page he was on. He was reading “R is for Rumpus,” in which Nephew1 and Thing2 (who often seem to share a brainwave) were re-creating the watermelon incident. 

I thought about the weekend of cleaning and cooking and screaming laughter from the assembled cousins, and I answered him honestly, “No, I’m celebrating you.”

The stories and art hadn’t stopped because of the cleaning and preparation or the five course meal that was devoured minutes. They had just gone off grid, which happened to be the best place for them to grow and remind us of all the reasons we have to celebrate and give thanks.

Daring to Dream

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The proofs for the new book came today. The UPS guy dropped them off at the Big Guy’s work, and he got to look at them first. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning waiting for the parents to come down so I could open my stocking as I waited for his workday and mine to end.

Opening the proof on a rainy Tuesday proved to be better than any Christmas morning I could’ve imagined as a kid-even if their head at actually been a pony in one of my stockings. Well maybe not quite that good but you get the gist.

There are one or two punctuation marks missing to fix, but, barring any major disasters, the book will go on sale next week. More to follow.