Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Painting in Progress "Little Boy Blue" Watercolor on Yupo

Little Boy Blue 11x14 watercolor on yupo

Well I have had so much fun painting flowers on Yupo, synthetic paper, that I wanted to try to do a portrait. I wanted to paint something simple, when I remembered a picture I took of my little boy a few years ago that I thought would be perfect. 

Here is the beginning. I paint Big washes of color and then tilt the paper to make the color run. 

 Here is the next step. Be patient with me on this painting. Yupo is funny stuff. I paint an area of color and then I have to wait all day for it to dry before I can do the next area.

Next I painted the hair. I was toying with the idea of leaving his hair blue but, I got carried away. And.... I was trying to add more shadow to his shoulder and ended up lifting all the old color. that was too bad because I kinda liked that area. One of the hazards of painting on Yupo all the color lifts really easily. I usually paint with lots of layers but, on yupo you have to go with just one. On the bright side you can pretty much lift, or erase, anything you want. Usually with watercolor anything you paint is there pretty much forever.

I painted his shirt brown to balance out the brown hair. while the paint was still wet I accidentally dropped a piece of paper on the wet paint. I kind of liked the texture it made do I did it in a few more spots. well see if I decide to leave it. I also added a little shadow to his eyes and some color to his lips.

 Just adding some some more shading

I'm not sure if I like it or hate it. I am working on the shading. this is getting frustrating, when I paint in watercolor I usually do lots of glazing in many layers. I can't do that on this paper because all the color will just lift off. All the colors on the face are very subtle I can't get a good photo of it with my camera.

Well this is it. I framed it but I haven't varnished it yet, I still may want to make some changes.
What do you think?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Real Vision

I was driving home from an eye doctor appointment with Jim when he said "I'm glad I wasn't born blind because I learned lots of things when I could see that I never would have known if I were born blind"  Wow. I thought he couldn't remember what it was like to have "normal" vision.  It is amazing the things that Jim is grateful for. I have never heard him complain about his vision loss, most of the time he refuses to admit that he is "visually impaired" he will tell people that he doesn't see very well out of one eye (a vast understatement). I thought that he really believed he could see just fine because he didn't know what he was missing but, apparently he does remember what it was like when he could see and instead of being bitter that his vision is gone, he is grateful that he had good vision at one time. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mothers day

bitter sweet mothers day yesterday. My sweet husband cleaned the kitchen and cooked dinner. My second oldest bought me a dozen roses, another son gave me a box of my favorite cookies, my youngest boy made me “breakfast in bed” and rubbed my feet as I ate it, that was all wonderful. But, it was the first mother's day in 18 years that I didn't have a child in the choir at church singing mother's day songs, and I saw the other moms get little things their kids made in Primary and my kids are all too old for that now too. I have been looking forward for months to talking to my missionary son, and I guess we talked for an hour but, it seemed like 5 minutes, Just like all the really good things in life it was over far too soon. As we said good bye and hung up I realized that it probably will be another 4 years of mothers days skyping missionary sons before my entire family is together again on mother's day. That's six years in a row. bitter and sweet. Don't get me wrong I am very happy about my boys going on missions but, gosh I sure do miss them. I guess that's all part of being a mom. You love the little buggers so much just the way they are and you want them to stay that way forever but, it would break your heart if they never grew up and reached their full potential. I guess that's why mom's cry when their children reach milestones they are proud and happy but at the same time their heart is breaking as they are saying goodbye to the child that they love so much as he grows into a man, and they know he will never be the same again.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Just Forget It.

We got the Christmas tree up and lights on the house. It all looks so bright and festive. I always look forward to getting out the Christmas decorations, it's like opening presents on Christmas morning, lots of fun surprises. Why a surprise?  because, I  buy Christmas decorations at the after Christmas clearance sales, then I pack them away and promptly forget about them. So I always get a happy surprise when I open the boxes of Christmas decorations, “Oh how pretty, I had forgotten that I bought that”..... well this year it was a new Christmas tree “Oh, thank you, myself, I've been wanting a new tree for years” Sometimes being forgetful is it's own reward. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Taking and giving offence.

Confucius says "He who takes offense where none is intended is a fool, he who takes offense where offense is intended is a bigger fool." If someone has no intent to offend me then why take offense? They have made a mistake, probably unknowingly. Did they simply misspeak? are they ignorant of the situation?  I try to see their point of view, Most people don't intend to offend, so cut them some slack. On the other hand, if someone is trying to offend me then they are being a jerk. so why should I give them what they want, and be offended?

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Baby Talk" watercolor painting work in progress

How it is done.
or, how I do it anyway.

"Baby Talk" 10x13" watercolor 

OK so I forgot to take the first picture, So lets just pretend that there is a pencil sketch of the birds here.
  I usually put the first layer of the background first, so here it is. Don't worry, it will have more layers of color before it is finished.
 I begin shadows on the subject, here I usually use lots of indigo, for living creatures I also use reds.
 I begin to add color to the subject. I also begin the eyes at this point so I can work on the expression.
Now the painting is almost finished, all that is left is the little details, darken a few shadows, scratch out some highlights.
 Finished painting.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Creaky, Squeeky

I walked into the kitchen the other day and without looking up Jim said "Hi mom" then he added  "do you know how I could tell that it was you mom?"
I shouldn't have asked, but I did. "Mom you creak when you walk" I kind of laughed it off, thinking that his hearing must be extra sharp to make up for his vision loss. Later that day I mentioned it to Jim's older brothers: how it was funny that Jim thought that I creaked when I walked. Their unexpected response was "yeah,  you kinda do" Whaaaaa...?I Creak when I walk! Oh yeah, that's just what every woman wants to hear.

Then when we were in church Jim was leaning his head on my shoulder I reached down to pick something up and Jim said "Don't do that mom, when you do that your shoulder squeaks"  Oh, now I creak and I squeak.

The funny thing is now that I know about it I have been noticing the noises I make when I move and it is driving me crazy. Yes, I can hear my knees popping and my joints creaking and squeaking.

I guess I'll never be a ninja.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Who Says Chickens Can't Fly

 Our chickens have decided they like to roost in the top of the trees. This is a problem we have never faced before. All the other chickens we have had have been content to perch on the roosts we made for them in the coop. But, these girls, they like the freedom of the trees.
 When they first started doing this they were much smaller and we said "when they get bigger the branches will not be able to hold them and they will have to stop".  They solved that problem by going higher and higher in the trees. We have tried clipping their wings, but that hasn't stopped them. They have figured out a way to start at the trunk and jump from branch to branch until they get where they want to be. We went out and watched them last night, it would take them about 15 minutes to work their way way to the top, many times when they were almost there they would fall and have to start all over again. Silly chickens, they know there is an easy to reach roost in the nice warm coop, I guess they think it's worth all the extra effort it takes to get to the top.

I admire their determination: they know what they want and are willing to work hard every day to get it. Perhaps I should be a little more chicken.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Note to Self: Don't Complain About Stuff

We came home from vacation. It was a really good very busy vacation full of experiences, adventure and lots of driving.

We came home exhausted to find... our dog ate the couch. Not just nibbled it, but tore it into little bite sized pieces. We left him toys, paid the neighbor kids to play with him every day but, apparently the last day before we got back he got bored and ate the couch. So I piled the bits of foam into a cushion-shaped pile, duct taped it together and threw a blanket over it. The next day the light fixture in the dining room broke, so I figured we would eat more candlelit dinners. The day after that we received a quite unexpected bill for $100.00 in the mail. And so it went on, day after day one catastrophe after another. It was getting pretty depressing. After about a week of disaster after disaster, as I sat duct taping the washing machine together I thought. Why am I whining? All of this that I am depressed about is just stuff, and stuff is temporary. Look at the bright side; sure the couch and washer are duct taped together, the handle of the oven is broken and so are  the fridge shelves and my dishwasher. But isn't it a blessing that everything broke in such a way that I could still use it? The furniture was over 20 years old and worn out anyway. And perhaps it is better that the family can't see my cooking. Look at all my blessings: four healthy kids, no cancer! no seizures! a wonderful husband and a family that loves and supports me, What more could I ask for? How petty of me to complain about silly temporary stuff.

The funny thing is, as soon as I stopped whining the bad things stopped happening. For date night that week we went to Home Depot and bought a inexpensive dining room light that my 15 year-old installed for us, and a couple of days later we went to a furniture closeout store and got a good deal on a new love seat and couch.

As my oldest son would say "It's all good"

Monday, May 21, 2012

We're all Winners,...Maybe

It was the “Sports day” for all the special needs kids in the school district today. Jim did not want to go because they give out what he calls “loser awards” or what everyone else calls participation awards. He gets so mad that everyone gets an award “even people that don't even try”. He went on quite a rant: when he wins a race he doesn't want the same as everyone else, he wants special recognition, when he excels at something he wants people to acknowledge his success. I told him the participation ribbons were just to keep track of what “games” the kids had played, and just go enjoy playing the games anyway. Apparently he followed my advice, when he got home he said he had fun, he was disappointed that they didn't run a “sprint” because it is his best race and after some coaxing he even let me take a picture of him with his “loser ribbons”

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Bad and the Good

I was thinking today about how incredibly deeply grateful I am for Jim's successful surgery and lack of seizures for the last three months. It has truly been a miracle. I really can't believe what a change it has been in our lives. It makes me feel like dancing around with a goofy smile plastered allover my face. As I was thinking about this I thought about my other children, was I grateful that they hadn't had seizures in the last three months also? Well of course but, I wouldn't think of doing my happy dance because one of my other sons had not had any seizures. Why? well it's because they had never did have any seizures.

We often don't recognize the blessings we have been given until we go without them for a time. We don't notice how good we have it until we experience the bad. Perhaps that is why we have so many "difficulties" in this life. It is  to help us to be grateful for all the blessings that otherwise we would ignore. And gratitude makes us happy. So now I'm off to dance some more.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Miracles Mowing the Lawn

I looked out the window tonight and saw my husband teaching Jim to mow the lawn. It quite unexpectedly made me cry, I mean really cry, not just the sweet tender tear sliding down my cheek cry, but the gut wrenching, blubbering, sobbing but good kind of cry.  I never thought I would see Jim mowing the lawn. It was too dangerous to let a kid who has multiple seizures daily mow the lawn, or cook on the stove, or be alone, or swim, or walk to school alone, he even needed someone in the room with him when he showered.  But since his surgery he has not had even one seizure. I hadn't realized how much a part of our daily lives his seizures had become, how normal it seemed to me to jump up and catch Jim at any time, to walk behind him always making sure I was ready to break his fall. I still jump whenever I hear a thump or a bump, I still start to catch him when I see his arms move a certain way. It is almost and alien experience to just tell him to go take a shower and not  sit in the bathroom with him. Jim just turned eleven and it seems as if I am watching him mature years in the last few weeks since his surgery. He can be so much more independent and we are teaching him things I hadn't realized we were holding him back from doing. It never crossed my my to have him mow the lawn before, I didn't realize I was holding him back from it, so as I watched him mowing the lawn It made me realize what he had been missing and what he can do now.  It feels like he has been in a cage, he was in  the cage so long and it was built so gradually that I didn't truly realize how restrictive the cage was, we just dealt with it. But now he is free! and I can't tell you how good it feels to watch my son mow the lawn.

Friday, April 6, 2012

April Fools 2012

For April Fool's day all my sons all forgot it was April Fool's day until breakfast: I made hamburgers for breakfast (really sausage patties, eggs and cheese on a hamburger bun.) Jim didn't believe that they weren't really hamburgers and kept trying to put ketchup and pickles on his. Jim did the classic taping the handle of the sink sprayer down and I got soaked, but that was my fault, the first time I turned it on the sprayer was aimed into the sink and I didn't get wet, so I aimed it properly for him only to forget about it, and proceed to drench myself when I went to wash my hands a few minutes later. I hung toilet paper from the top of my 14 year old's bedroom door frame, that scared Jim more than his brother: The toilet paper was the same color as the door and Jim couldn't see it until he tried to open the door to talk to him. I put an April Fools sticker on the bottom of my 18 year old's new TRON mouse. He was a little angry because he had to re-start his computer 3 times before he figured it out. Jim bought a squirt camera and really got his uncle good because his uncle was bending down to get a better look at the camera when Jim squirted him. I salted Jim and my Hubby's toothbrushes, that didn't work really well because they both rinse their toothbrushes before using them. And then for dinner we had grilled cheese sandwiches, (Grilled pound cake slices with orange frosting in between) Peas, (Laffy Taffy rolled into little balls) and chocolate strawberry pie (An actual recipe I used that was meatloaf pie with pink mashed potatoes ) and plain old spinach. Jim asked “Is this really spinach?” I should have told him it was candy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More Jim Updates

Jim spent literally hours at the eye doctors on Friday, we got there at 9:30 and didn't leave until around 2:00, but it was all good. All the eye tests, even the visual field tests showed no change in Jim's vision, he is still mostly blind. I was so worried, he really can't afford to lose any more of his eyesight. WE went to his Neurosurgeon yesterday and I was told all was well with his extreme swelling of his head, it could take months to repair itself and re-absorb the CSF fluid but, unless it is leaking to the outside world, don't worry. The best part, still no seizures! so Mom is happy now!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Results of Jim's Seizure Surgery

Jim had his first seizure surgery Tuesday to place the grids, the surgery lasted 6.5 hours. It went well his grids were in place he spent a day in ICU and then stayed in the hospital for a week being monitored. Apparently his brain did not like the grids being added he was having horrible headaches and bouts of violent vomiting. He had several wires coming out of his head attached to monitors so he was limited in how far he could move, it took two of us carrying wires and equipment and wires just to go to the bathroom and leaving the room was completely out of the question. Jim had lots of seizures up to 10 a day. That is good they wanted him to have seizures so they could see where they were coming from in his brain. They kept saying that they weren't getting the kind of information that wanted from his seizures. Sunday night they started testing his brain to see what functions were in what places on his brain, they had him talk, count and repeat words while they put small electric charges through different areas of the grid. They did these tests for hours, all Sunday evening, and most of the day Monday. Monday evening Jim's Neurologist, Neurosurgeon and Neuropsychologist came in and gave us the results: they couldn't find a focal point for the seizures, the seizures seemed to be coming from all over his brain, not just one place, that is bad because they couldn't remove the "Spot" or "Spots" where the seizures are coming from. However there was a large area of brain tissue that was damaged from previous brain surgeries and radiation. Jim's Neurosurgeon said logically the area of damaged tissue should be where the seizures are coming from but, the tests don't show that. They have tested the area of damaged tissue and all the brain functions that are normally in that spot have moved to other parts of the brain. However they can't test for everything and they are think his vision might still be there along with other things that they may not have tested for. They said that we have two choices for the next mornings surgery: we could go in remove the grids, do nothing else, and leave him with seizures, or we could remove the damaged tissue, hope the damaged tissue is causing the seizures and hope that removing it causes no problems. The doctors could give us no recommendation one way or another. It was totally up to us and we had to decide before his surgery scheduled at 7:00 the next morning. Not an easy choice but, my husband, Jim and I all separately came to the same conclusion: to go ahead and remove the damaged tissue and hope it helped somewhat with the seizures without causing damage, or in Jim's words "well we've come this far, we might as well go for it". It was a tough choice. His second surgery was much quicker about 4.5 hours. The morning after the second surgery I went to the ICU to see him and to my surprise there was Jim sitting in a chair! eating solid food! he was already off oxygen, off oxygen no catheter, no brain-drain and ready to go to a regular hospital bed! He looked so good.

The results so far:
The good: has not had a seizure since a few hours before his second surgery! He does not have any noticeable deficits from the surgery. He seems much more "with us" mentally and has not had any episodes of his "eyes going weird"

The not-so-good: We think he may have lost some more of his vision, he said that there is no change but he seems to be having a more difficult time seeing things. It is hard to tell because he has such bad vision before. He is leaking CSF (Cerebrospinal fluid) into the the side of his head where they did the surgery. The side of his head resembles a large water-balloon. He won't or can't move his head and keeps it tilted to the side. I assume this is because of the CSF leak. We have Dr appointments tomorrow to hopefully find out more.