Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm giong to be in an art show!

Above photo of me taken by Indigo

Dec. 8 - Wicker Park - Milwaukee Ave
Sept. 22 - Riverside, IL

Well, it's official. I'm a participant in the 3rd Annual Plein Air Painters of Chicago -Southwest - Show! They paint with the PAPC every other Saturday. I'm not formally a part of their group so it is extremely generous for them to allow me to participate in this show. I was very nervous about entering my stuff. It's important for an artist to show their work, regardless of skill, experience or confidence. This is one of those moments my friend, Laura McGowen, would keep in Lola's lemon bag. She says a person should do something that scares them - everyday. I agree and when I met her I was instantly attracted to her based on that statement alone (it sounds like I want to date her, I know - sorry Lola!). We all blunder forward.

How about a trip down memory lane? Above you will see my most recently completed painting. It's across from the John Fluevog (kick butt shoes) store on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park. It was extremely cold that morning. My hands and feet were freezing despite feeling that I "bundled up". I finished the Spex (eyeglasses) building and the back ground stuff in the studio. But the overall composition, Fluevog bldg, the streetscape were all done en plein air (Freezing!). I wish I had a cool story -- like it was so cold my watercolor paints froze! But that didn't happen. The paints did just fine (I used hot water).

The other painting is my very first painting EVER - done in Riverside, IL on Sept. 22 (or thereabouts). It was a warm Indian Summer day. I had some friends visit me while painting and was a chatty little butterfly. I was grateful for company because I was very nervous. The PAPC painters were extremely inviting and friendly. I had a fun time on both accounts and feel very privileged to be a part of this group.

PAPC - SW show is Jan. 4 through Jan. 31. Opening night and reception is Saturday, January 5th from 6-8pm. They have their very own Gallery.

Many excellent artists are represented at the show. You are all welcome! I'd love to see you there.

Sat., Jan. 5th @ Indigo at the Rialto - 100 N. Chicago Street, Joliet, IL.

Above is my friend, Tracie's house. Some of you may remember her from the Amazing Mama Race. The front windows are off (arrgghh! I asked if she'd return it so I could fix it). I cranked it out as a party gift for her. Regardless, it's such a charming house! A mere 1/2 block from mine.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ais-base Wins debates for Iowa Caucus!

Ais-base just turned 18 months old. This is the time of her life where her language development is off the hizang!! Over the past week she has really been talking up a storm. She can say and mean yes and no. She asks where things are; “sippy are you?”, “baby are you?”. She is also transitioning into one nap - ugh - still. As she drops a nap, her language picks up. I guess she has to find something to fill the time!

I was barely able to capture this on video as it was take number 4 for her. My regular video camera kept running out of memory! Arrgghh… so I took this with my cell phone. And you thought I only wrote about Indigo! Enjoy!
This could also win the soundbite of the year award!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Runaway Gingerbread Person!

This has to bring a smile to your face!

I bought a Gingerbread Person decorating kit from Costco (my favorite store). Indi had a great time decorating with all the fun candies. Ais loved stealing the cookies It's a wonderful kit complete with icing already in packets! They taste horrible tho. I am using mine as Christmas decorations throughout the house. Resting on top of photo frames, etc!

&*@#!! Greedy Stores!

Last week I ordered a Magnetix i-Coaster from! This has been sold out in stores for a few weeks. It’s an awesome construction set. You connect different tracks to create a “coaster”. Then you connect the entire unit to a powered magnet source that magnetizes the entire toy. This allows a metal marble to roll all over the coaster and even jump in places where there are no tracks! All this and you can hook up your MP3 player to it to create your own i-coaster rock n roll experience.

I ordered the i-coaster for $90 on on Friday (I'm splitting the cost with another family member). Monday, I get an email indicting that my order was canceled (2 business days). I went to the vendor’s website to see why this happened. I-coasters were available for sale at $130! – 50% more than I was charged. It was clear that the seller intentionally canceled my order to sell it at a higher price. Greedy guts! Amazon received a well-worded nastygram indicating my outrage. Essentially there was nothing that could be done.

No i-coaster, no awesome accolades from my 12 y.o. nephew, at Christmas! Aw, hail no - it ain't happenin' to me (actually it’s such a cool toy, I don’t care about the cool points) I went to ebay to make this happen. I’m happy to say that I paid $109 for the replacement i-coaster and received it, brand new, in the mail today. Thanks ebay seller!

Stunts like the one the Amazon seller tried to pull really make me dislike Christmas. I hate being a “consumer” already. Christmas shopping just twists the knife in the wound, adds salt and spits in your face.

Beck you’re such a whiner! So what have I done to conquer my loathsome attitude? Small things.
- Minimize exposure to holiday songs and Holiday-themed movies (fun but they really mess with your head!). Will a real reindeer really come back to life after being shot, prancer?
(love um but they don’t sell Prozac in Christmas colors or “sparkle” –YET) –
- Tipping my servers the extra buck. Giving the obviously hung-over or strung out homeless person a buck (my inner mantra: I can’t be exploited – I choose to give – guilt won’t work).Overall being more generous when I give helps
** And my personal favorite: saying “Merry Christmas” to sales clerks instead of the politically correct “Happy Holidays”. Doing that, especially, makes me feel a little naughty and rebellious. And at times it pays off - especially if the sales clerk is a black woman. They smile and give back a heart "merry christmas to you". Love those gals! I think they share my secret delight -- and hey they can't get in trouble because the customer is always right. oh yeah, in the mood I'm in, just let management come over and give them (or me) a hard time. I implore you all to give it a try! Merry Christmas! It’s about Jesus after all!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sound of Thunder -- thighs that is!

Before & After
I came across an old photo of me after I had Indigo (I made the top). Holy hips! (was I really that big and no one told me, except my sisters oh-so-lovingly - "fatbutt"). Well, times have changed. I lifted weights with my favorite program (Body Electric) for 6 months. I did this because it was easy and I didn't even change out of my everyday clothes. It wasn't a sweaty workout, just a little sphitzing - misting. Then I joined Weight Watchers and gradually lost 15-20 lbs over 6 months. Now I am nearly a Lifetime Member! Woohoo. I still lift weights and exercise consistently. I've found that it is a huge energy boost. Even a little 20 min. work out does that trick that caffeine nor sugar have afforded me. Huge snaps to my friend Nicole Foster, another lifetime member, and employee of weight watchers. I told her to tell me to go. She did, I went and here I am - 12% less of me that is. Yeah Nicole. You can even check our her blog!

Lots has changed since my days being "hippy"! Although back then I walked everywhere (I wasn't eating bon bons, just nice meals and wine...oh how I love to eat)! I feel that building muscle slowly was the key for me. Then blasting the fat away with a modified diet (WW). At any rate, I look much slimmer. Although -- I felt comfortable with my body back then anyways. Here's to all you ladies working hard after having had yo babies. Hang in there and don't be afraid to lift weights. Body electric is on everyday - Channel 20 (WYCC TV) @ 2pm.
Oh, and the best part. My 15 year old neice gave me a pair of her old size 6 jeans this weekend. They fit great and are hip. They will be in high rotation. Thanks Puff (nickname for my neice - she had big, puffy cheeks as a baby)

Painting Plein Air Update

Greetings friends!
I wanted to take a moment to update you on my painting progress as well as show off the work of some new friends of mine. If any of you are interested in painting outside on any given Saturday, please join us; The Plein Air Painters of Chicago.

You can view some of the great paintings of the group at Penny's Noodle Shop on Diversey near Sheffleild. I, personally, don't have any hanging there yet. They are all on display in my kitchen. Mosey on over anytime to the Anstee Galley Gallery - I'll even froth you a cuppacino and sprinkle it with love.

The painting above was done by yours truly at the intersection of Lincoln and Eastwood in Lincoln Square. I was so excited to be on my home turf. Snaps to Stuart Fullerton who let me have a crack at choosing the location. It was a long cold morning and my paints did not freeze. Although what a lonely scene. My pal and fabulous painter, Nancy Albrecht, gave me the advice to lop off the left 1/4 of my painting to make it more interesting. Well, I followed her advice and viola. I think she was right! I glued the lopped off piece to a fancy card and am sending it to her in the mail. The next photos are my favorites of the morning. They all are fabulous (and for sale). But I don't want to bore you all with paintings.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Harassed by a Sneeze

For those of you I've been harassing to view Steve Sneeds' blog "The Sneeze", I do not apologize. It's freaking hilarious! Oh, where to begin. I laugh out loud many times. Yes, he does swear like... well, like a guy. But his insights are spot-on. My favorites are "Steve, Don't eat that", and of course "Tree Brain ". I'm conspiring to get into the band (it's imaginary and they don't play actual music so I've got a shot). No I will not be a groupie of an imaginary band. But either way I'd be so rock n' roll. All this to say, - There! I've officially plugged the sneeze on my blog. If you want to wet your pants later or let slip some gas from frantic laughter, check it out. Of course, fill me in on your favorites so we can laugh together!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Birthday Bombon!

Today I had a, much needed, ladies lunch! Roxanne, Laura Mc –G and I headed out to River West for some fabulous, fresh Mexican food at Café Bombon. It’s a great little spot cheerfully and creatively decorated. The overhead menu is written on old wooden doors, painted with white and chalkboard paints (clever recycling). Roxanne, not being a big sweets girl, was greeted with a special birthday guacamole (which she totally loves – she might even put it on a cupcake to make it taste better). The whole place sang to her and she got a free cupcake! I can’t take Roxanne anywhere without her winning something!

We fashionable gals had a fun time catching up and looking great - if I say so myself. Of course, we all LOVE food and loved to have an excuse to pig out (we were modest this time). Our little divas were with a babysitter whilst we celebrated. They all had a good time too! Laura brought her kid along with her (again, sigh). Just kidding. She just has a tiny baby bump. You can't even tell she's prego in the photo. Way to go Laura McG! And way to show us all how to look fab in our 20's Wox! You're purple tights and high boots were so rock n roll.

If you’re ever in Pilsen or near the United Center be sure to check out Bombon. They also have an excellent Mexican Latte. I hear the cakes are better over in Pilsen but there is an nice selection at the Ashland/Monroe location. On the savory side, I always get the cuitlacoche quesadillas (corn mushroom quesadillas. There a weird fungus that grows on corn. It's really ugly, but they hide it in a quesadilla and it tastes great - even for you unadventurous eaters, try it).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Winter Water Fun

We had a wonderful time with the Engstrom Family at Grizzley Jack's water park near Starved Rock State Park. An easy, 90 minute drive from Chicago! The girls had a wonderful time. Aislin and Annikah Engstrom are kissing buddies. It was so stinkin' adorable! Annikah was a real daredevil thoroughly enjoying the water slides by herself! Indi's adventurous spirit must have kicked in sometime since August because she too was raring to go into the wave pool, jumping with each swell! I took her into the deeper water and we were in the thick of the wave mosh pit with all the tweens! Grizzley Jack's also has a nice indoor Amusement Park for kids.

Indi and Ais both enjoyed their first amusement park rides. That is until Aislin dropped a stink bomb and we had to get out of there pronto! Murphy's Law kicked in and the shuttle bus was literally loaded to capacity with passengers. All choking on the black fog emanating from Aislin's diaper. Yep, Aislin does it again. Nearly a weapon of mass destruction. We were dropped off first :-)

Snaps to my good friend, Roxanne, who took superb and generous amounts of photos of the fandamily. She also is a sista as I wasn't in any them (in my bathing suit). Phew, dodged that bullet. Of course, Rox looks great. If you like what you see you can check out her blog (see link to the right). I highly recommend Grizzley Jack's Resort and Starved Rock.

The Littlest Gymnast

My precocious 4 year old daughter, Indigo, had her very first gymnastics meet this past Sunday. She was invited to be part of the Peterson Park Gymnastics Center’s team this year. I asked “Coach Jillian” the criteria for them inviting her. They said, body type. Hmmm. $160 later Indigo is officially coiffed in a fancy mandatory “team leotard” and warm ups.

The meet was a neat experience for all of us. It took Indi all of 10 seconds to complete her “pass”. I’m so proud of her! She had a lot of fun with the other gymnasts and was very friendly to her competition. A true diplomat! Look out Condoleza! Grandma B, Auntie Ab, and Nick were there to cheer her on as was Gramma and Grandpa Anstee! A great showing!

Gymnastics is a wonderful way to build core strength and coordination. The skills will transfer to any sport one wishes to pursue. This very moment Indigo is practicing her cartwheels on the living room carpet (not quite there yet)! I will add lastly that Aislin is a very brave, and coordinated toddler! She loves to climb and is already standing on her head while kicking a leg into the air! I think she may be more of a natural than Indi. I will enroll Ais in a mom and tot gymnastics class this Winter. I can’t wait. She’ll LOVE it! Simple pleasures.
Here’s a video of Indi’s very first gymnastics tumbling pass.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Vain and Vein

I had EVLT on my left leg in Jan. 2008. To find out how it went, visit the blog post here.
This post officially welcomes you to voyeur varicose vein removal. Don’t sit to close to the edge of your seat! OK, my leg photo is not very vein revealing, I know, but it's the photo not the leg. (aka. my butt's not big, it's the jeans ;-)

After having two kids, my legs look like roadmaps due to varicose veins, apparently genetic (thanks, Mom!). They get hot, itch and throb especially after standing for long periods of time. Ya know like when painting outdoors every Saturday morning (more on my painting progress later).

I must add that the photo of the above signage is important. I am having vein surgery. Not to be confused with going to the vain-center. There's a big plastic surgery office across the hall from this one! Although vv removal has a bit to do with vanity as it's not a life-threatening condition. At least not mine, anyways. I consulted with the fine MDs at the NMFF Vein Clinic (Dr. Rodriguez, et al). D. Rod is a very nice man who enthusiastically listened to Indigo sing her “Spanish” song.

He confirmed, yep, those are varicose veins. He gave me the game plan about the non-invasive and surgical options. He also brought me up to speed on what we’ll need to do in order for my insurance to pay 100% of it! Ahh, hoops to jump through. Like a good coach, he knew the drills and now we’re successfully on the road to “game day”. So far, no extra $$ has been paid. Yet.

A brief explanation of varcosities. Veins bring blood back to the heart for oxygenation. In these veins you have valves that keep the blood movin’ on up (kind of like a lock system ala Panama Canal). Due to many reasons, (mine being the one-two punch of having kids and genetics), the valves don’t work as well as they should – they don’t shut all the way. (sidebar: Who left the door open? Were you born in a barn?). This causes backflow of venus blood (reflux). The reflux causes the blood to collect, expanding the vein and forming the tortuous veins visible, like a roadmap, on the outside of the leg. What I’m learning is that the visible stuff is the tip of the iceberg (so to speak). Gotta get sexy back.

Today I had an ultrasound performed on both legs by Peg who works with D. Rod and his collegue, Dr. Richard Chen. Peg rocks and is a science-chick who’s not afraid to admit it. As she scanned my legs she pointed things out to me on the ultrasound monitor. There’s the valve, she said. Uh, whuh? I looked, brows furrowed in concentration. All I saw was a haze of black and white visual static. If you say so, Peg! Then she pressed a food pedal that activated a cuff around my leg. Zap! Phew, it was just a squeeze, not a zap :-) Dr. Chen gets the soundbite of the day award.

“If people ask me for pantyhose, I give it to them.”

I was laughing (really moreso on the inside, out of politeness, as I just met Dr. Chen). We were talking about thigh-high support hose v. pantyhose support hose. If you remove any context from his quote, it’s hilarious! I told him I’m going to blog about it!

So, now for the hard science! There are numerous ways to treat varicose veins. Make small incisions at various points along the skin, snip the vein and pull it out bit by bit. Like digging a worm out of the ground with tweezers. This is done with local anesthetic and a mild “sedative”. I asked, Peg, for the straight dope on that one. What is the “sedative”?. She told me it was Xanax – one or two pills. I’ll take two. Never had it before, I hope it works. I digress (I welcome anyone’s opinion on Xanax). Other methods of vein removal, and this is space-age technology (or should I be saying, Google Earth-age technology)… lasers and fancy sound waves (you'd think some of the speed metal out there would be enough to collapse a vein, a brain but in vein treatment they use inaudible sound waves). In either instance, a super thin tube is placed into the vein, heats it up (via sound or laser) which causes it to close/collapse. This removes the road from the map, so to speak. Removing the vein, removes the varicose appearance of the vein. Apparently our bodies have like a guh gillion veins and melting 4-6 is not a very big deal. What is a big deal, is that all of this is done on an out-patient basis. No general anesthesia, no paying an anesthesiologist, or hospital operating room and most importantly NO hospital stay. Woohoo. Just sweet Xanax and a good friend to get me home on time for “Rachel Ray”. Any takers? I’ll be having laser and vein striipping procedures. These doctors are that good. Google-earth Good.

My next appointment is my pre-op visit. You may get to meet D. Rod and Dr. “If-anyone-asks- for-pantyhose, I-give- it-to-them”. Look out ladies (I’ll see if he’s available!). I must say that he is a tremendously good sport to laugh with me. Real times, real people. Hopefully this vein surgery isn't a "gateway drug" into harder core plastic surgery. It's just across the hall after all. Stay out of the vain centers, y'all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Retail Therapy

Does any have a love/hate relationship with shoe shopping? I've been searching high and low for a comfortable, stylish pair of slip-on shoes. This means full frontal and rear coverage so snow doesn't sneak in. So no clogs or backless shoes (we're talking about shoes here people, not ladies panties -- stay focused!). They need to be convenient, so it has to be a booty or loafer-type of shoe. I've tried some high boots that are casual. Technically you can slip those on and off. However, I have "athletic" calves and have trouble zipping the suckers up all the way. I've recently learned that the calf area can be stretched - up to 3 inches (according to a sales Rep at the John Fluevog store). But the boots (btwn $150-300) have to be purchased and then stretched. Well, what if they can't stretch far enough? I'm stuck with half zipped boots! Even in the tall boot arena, the choices are legion (are you getting the Biblical reference to the woman possessed by demons who called themselves "legion". Yep, the satanic reference is intentional). So no boots were bought nor harmed in the making of this blog post. However, I took some photos of the passable styles I saw at the Nordstrom's half-yearly sale. I browsed while taking advantage of my cheap parking from my doctor visit (7 hours for $9 in Streeterville, WOW - wish I had more time on my hands to maximize that economy!).

Let's guess the prices shall we? (In order of appearance from Left to right)

Kowalski University knee boot - $270, Scene mod motorcycle boot - $90, G series funky orange/brown knee boot - $150 -- paper towel dispenser smiling at me... Priceless!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scene in a Rearview Mirror

While driving home the other afternoon, about 1pm – ish I stopped at a stoplight. I glanced in my rearview mirror and found a not-so-out-of-the-ordinary scene, albeit hilarious. A young man in the car behind me was combing his hair. Then he leaned to the side, pulled out a spray bottle of what had to be cologne. He spray it over his torso 3 times, paused and then a final shot behind his neck. So funny. Then he reaches behind the passenger seat and pulls out the largest bottle of Orange Listerine mouthwash ever seen. I could read the letters from the rearview mirror! I chuckled out loud. The light changed and I went on my way. I have no idea what he did with the Listerine, or how he disposed of it. Now that’s what I call a 10-second tidy up!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Truly Amazing!

This past Friday evening marked the first "Amazing Mama Race". It's a race created and organized by myself and partner in crime, Roxanne. Uh oh, Beck and Roxanne together - another crazy caper! This time we roped all the mamas we knew into our fun! This was an outing originally organized as a Mom's night out for our Mom's group. But we opened it up to the other mamas in our life. The race visited various businesses in Lincoln Square. At each location the mamas had to complete specialized tasks; from martial arts to eating sushi. After the race, the mamas returned to my house for some food and fun. We made smores in a backyard firepit. Not a common occurrence in the heart of the city. My daughter, Indigo, was a huge help and a wonderful hostess! Thanks Indi! My husband, Rob, also played a big role, managing the home front and heating up the ovens while I was out orchestrating the race. Thanks Rob! My mom and sister, Cindy, took one for the team having dinner at Garcias while racers tried to find them asking only "mama caliente?" (hot mama? in Spanish). Thanks gals!

Roxanne of course, being on an equal plane of crazy as myself was her fabulous, fun, industrious self. Two snaps up Wox. I must say that I was really impressed by the generosity of donations and participation from Lincoln Square businesses; Costello's, Degerberg Academy, Tank Sushi, Fleet Feet and Starbucks.

My favorite part was setting up tiki torches in Welles Park! Not quite legal after dark but hey I set up in the sand pits! :-) Then of course hearing some of the 'yo mama' jokes the mamas had to tell in order to get their next clue at one of the stations. What a great bunch of fun, energetic women! If you missed it be sure to join us next time!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bewitched, Bothered and bewildered...

Indigo, my 4 year old daughter, would like to be Cassie from Dragon Tales for Halloween. This is only upon learning that a ‘Zak and Wheezie’ costume doesn’t exist because kids only have one head where Zak and Wheezie have two. The other dragon head would just flop around. The Cassie costume has a foam mask and a kid puts their own head through the mouth. It’s a strangulation hazard. For this reason it’s dangerous to sleep in this costume. I explained this to Indi and she clearly understood. I was surprised by the ease of her understanding. She added that the costume (thin fleece) is also hot and itchy hence uncomfortable for sleep. Wow, I thought I caught a break as costume warden. Before I retired for the night, I checked on the girls. It was to my true surprise (and there aren’t many surprises in life) to find Indigo in full Cassie costume, in bed, sound asleep with the face mask on. Not to mention the ceiling fan, formerly turned off by me, was at full throttle. I immediately undressed her as the costume was on over her jammies. She woke up in the morning none the wiser. Clever stinker. I count myself fortunate. Last year Indi was a Yellow school bus! I lovingly made this out of upholstery foam and wall paint.

Indi is always thinking of “excusable” reasons to get out of bed (go to the bathroom, needs a drink, etc.). The other night topped all. After wrangling her to bed and 20 minutes of peace and quiet Indi called down the stairs to me in desperation and frustration. “I need help, I can’t get this diaper crème off of me!”. Huh? I thought. Perplexed I ran upstairs. She ‘says’ she had to use the toilet. When I asked her why she got in to the diaper crème she said her “butt itched” (she’s learning how to wipe her own bottom these days and may not have been as thorough as is required -lesson learned). When I entered the bathroom, there was white, pasty diaper crème everywhere. A solid hand print on the mirror over the sink (accessible only from climbing onto the sink counter). There were fingerprints all over the door knob, toilet lid, cabinet doors and especially the faucet. I turned her around to find her behind loaded with white, waterproof diaper crème. Good ol’ baby wipes did the best job. Toilet paper just smeared it around. I had to change clothes afterward as I was covered in diaper creme too! That must have been quite an itch Indi!

Indi loves elevators, escalators, and anything mechanical you can ride on. While at Ikea I decided to take a nearby escalator down rather than walk half way across the store to the elevator. With Aislin in one hand, the other hand holding the balanced stroller, I stepped onto the escalator. Indi, at my side, usually gung-ho to ride, decided to chicken out. She stayed glued to the floor at the stop of the escalator. I could do nothing but coach her through the boarding process. She didn’t budge. Mid de-escalation, Aislin filled her diaper (I, literally, just changed a big peepee diaper). There I was loudly coaching my tiny 4 year old onto an escalator which I was halfway down. All the while black, not green, fog of a dirty baby gas wafted around us. A word picture if you will; think of blinking broadway lights in the shape of an arrow announcing - "horrible smell is here!" (sidebar: this was the escalator that leaves the food court. Sorry to the folks who had to de-escalate from lunch through the funky, weird Smog of Aislin). I thought I could merely step off the escalator and go right back up. However, at Ikea the UP escalator wasn’t parallel to the DOWN. It was on the other side of the room! Now I started to panic! Indi was up there on her own. I parked the stroller, and sprinted UP the escalator with smelly Aislin on my hip. I was fast! Yeah, I quickly distributed stink everywhere! It was a loft environment, so there were only 4 seconds where Indi was out of sight. The entire time we played the “Indi, are you?” game. Our version of Marco Polo. I taught Indi this as a baby and fortunately it stuck.
Me: “Indi are YOU?”
Indi: “Here!”. (repeat ad nauseum until reunited)

I had some gawkers looking at me but I didn’t care. I arrived to Indigo who was smiling ear to ear. Perhaps she wanted to have a little adventure on her own. I never let her see me sweat! We took the elevator down to the first floor and took care of black fog. Fortunately I was prepared.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Gimme Steak

I'm the small one.

I’ve been a fraternal twin my entire life. When a kid, I asked for a bike as a gift. I added that it wasn’t “expensive” to my mother. She would respond “you can’t get a bike! I’d have to get two, one for you and your sister. And that’s really expensive”. Some of you may think having a twin is a wonderful experience. I thought it stunk. I was never singled out. I was always compared to my twin, always had to share or be thinking about sharing. Especially on my birthday. I wanted to be my own person. I thought time would sort out my twinness and I’d be individually fussed over some brilliant day.

When I got married I thought people (friends, family, co-workers) would kinda make a big deal out of it. Out of me. Afterall, many had a big deal made for them when they married. I felt it was a right of passage. This wasn’t my personal experience. No surprises. No extra special gifts of sentiment. No one came in from out of town to see the newborn. Generosity from some family but no "specialness". I don't want to sound ungrateful. I'm grateful! It was weird.

I felt optimistic to that I would enter this “right of passage” when pregnant with my first child. I was attending Fashion Design School and working hard as a leader in a church ministry. (I had tons of friends and multiple social circles. One of them had to do something special). No special sentiments or parties. I thought "It must be me". I had tons of friends and couldn’t understand why I watched others (less likeable) enjoy surprise bridal and baby parties showered with blessings, heirloom quilts and hand-made gifts. I made hand-made gifts for others all the time. I guess I just wasn’t worth it. People just didn’t feel that way about me. I didn't know how else to "understand it". I know I may sound ungrateful but I'm not. I wasn't "fussed" over. Maybe that was too much to ask?

October 4 marked the beginning of my 36th year. My beautiful daughter, Indigo, greeted me after school exclaiming “hello birthday girl”! She touched my soul. Later that evening I was surprised to see many girlfriends gathered together for a special dinner. Rob did it. Wow, something that required significant organization (sorry if that sounds crass). We had fancy food, endearing sentiments and touching hand-made gifts! Woohoo, finally a proper partay. (My friend, Cyndi, organized 90 upper grade school children (my Artsmart students) in writing birthday cards to me. All individually crafted, hilarious and colorful). No new baby, no impending marriage. All this simply because I was born 36 years ago – an insignificant age. It’s true what they say when you’re not looking: great things happen. I’m glad I wasn’t too jaded not to enjoy it. It was a blast! I will always remember and cherish this birthday. And that’s not a medium-rare occurrence – that’s rare - and will be savored. It's nice to be fussed over at least once in life. Once a year would be great. Maybe from now on it will be on my OWN birthday.

*Due to a lost camera and our own camera malfunction I don't have photos of the party to share. Sorry!

Beck Becoming a Painter

Arrrggghhh! Each Sat I paint with the PAPC. It takes an grade latte and a good half hour before I jump into each painting. Sometimes trying to begin feels so overwhelming. But I am not going to let fear beat me. Not at painting. Jeesh. We all have to begin somewhere.

Fortunately, you all get to see me grow and progress as a painter. Sometime you may chuckle, sometimes say "hey, I didn't know she could do that" or perhaps just give out an audible "meh".

Here are my last two paintings done in watercolor. The lighthouse was done at the Evanston Lighthouse. The other was in Edgewater at the SW corner of Brwn Mawr and Ravenswood (garden area).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Plein, plane or plain?

The title sounds like a foreign language idiom. Fear not trusted blog viewers! Plein-air painting (pronounced “plehn”) is painting outside, on location! The goal is to capture the changes in light upon a subject. Remember Impressionism? Out of the studio and into the world!!! Sweet creativity!

Saturday, I ventured out with the Plein Air Painters of Chicago. I created my first painting ever! I’ve done work with paints and drawings but never a full out painting. I really suck. (I also didn’t finish my painting). When critique-time came around I proudly (although with trepidation - wanting to hide behind the largest tree I could find) displayed my painting with the others (it stuck out like a child’s drawing among masterpieces). I have to start somewhere! I did not finish the painting and this lends to it’s appearing elementary. Feel the fear and do it anyways! I jumped in with both feet. Actually I like that scary feeling when beginning something new. It’s tough but it tingles in a good way. Like something important is on the way! After all the things I’ve done in my life, I’m wondering why the heck I get fearful anyways.

Now, being self-reflective I learned that it’s important to have people around you who support you. Rob, my husband, gave me enough “slack” to allow me to hang out with the painting set this weekend without complaint. He also listened when I reflected back on the experience. Oh, and babysat the gorgeous girls all weekend.

I got some GREAT advice from the very gracious and welcoming Chicago Plein air Painters. They really rock! They are displaying their artwork at the Edgewater Historical Society in Andersonville, Fri-Sun Oct. 5-7, 2007. There will be paintings for sale. They will be affordable. My strong recommendation is to get one now. I feel Plein Air painting is really going to take off in Chicago and now may be the only time you can make such a luxurious purchase for a nominal amount! If you’ve never seen Plein air artists in action, check it out. It’s so neat to see them work. Children love it! They have weekly (Sat from 8:30-Noon) paint outs throughout Chicagoland. It’s so cool to see them scattered over an area painting and improving the vibe around them. Check their blog for more info! Or contact me!

I challenge you all to try something new this week. Feel some fear this week - and do it anyways! Then tell me about it!