The Big Move

This time I have an excuse for not posting as much - we’re moving!

Those of you who follow my tweets (which are at the top of the blog, depending on which skin you’re using) have probably figured it out already, but we’re moving to a place that’s closer to where Dave works. We’d put our house on the market last year right before the real estate meltdown, so it took us a while to sell our place. We were worried that it wouldn’t sell at all, but fortunately we were able to come to an agreement with a buyer in the last couple months.

In a way, it feels good to finally sell the house. It was pretty stressing to pack our stuff and whenever people were interested in viewing the house, having to stop everything to clean our place up and make it presentable. Sometimes I didn’t know where we had packed something, or I’d be digging through boxes to find something I didn’t think I needed. Now, we can buy a new home and not worry about selling our old one. It’s a big relief!

But another part of me is really going to miss this home. This is where Ben has spent the first several years of his life. It’s full of memories. This house has been good to us. I remember when we first moved in, how awesome it felt to wake up in the morning and walk around my own home.

So now, we’re still going to be in that in-between phase, renting while we are house hunting, waiting patiently until we find THE house, most likely the house that we’ll spend the rest of our lives in. I’ll still be digging through boxes when I realize that I’ve stored something that I needed, but at least I can breathe easy knowing that there isn’t anything holding us back when we actually do find the house of our dreams.

This whole experience has left me with a lot to talk about, so hopefully once our internet is hooked up on Tuesday (seriously, I don’t know if I’ll last that long without the internet!) I’ll have some good posts to write, like about my hoarding tendency or Ben’s take on this whole ‘moving’ thing.

Until then, let me leave you with this:

MOVING TOTALLY SUCKS.

Seriously, I don’t think I’ve been this stressed since I was planning for my wedding! Maybe even more!

Take care, peeps.

Scratching the Creative Itch

So as I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t have a lot of free time anymore. With a lot of changes going on at work and work responsibilities, and my other job - Ben, there’s not a lot of time for me to do…stuff. Actually, I have no idea what I really do with whatever time I have left over. Wash dishes, do laundry, pick up toys, cool meals…mom stuff. After that, the rest of my time is spent on my laptop, goofing around.

As I mentioned eons ago, I’ve been really wanting to be artsy again. I had always loved art as a kid, drawing, coloring, etc. So much that I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was in 8th grade. Anyway, one thing I have been making more time for is creating art on my computer. I’ve got a sketchpad, eracers, charcoal and pencils taht have been sitting my my garage, ready for me to use, but that will have to wait another time. Right now, I’ve been playing around with Inkscape, the poor man’s equivalent of Adobe Illustrator. I gave in and actually bought Adobe Photoshop, not ready to buy Illustrator yet.

So I’ve been playing around with graphics…getting some stuff together to create an Etsy shop together…once I make more sales and have more graphics together, I’ll share the shop address. Anyway, here’s a taste of what I’ve been doing…


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Happy Father’s Day!

I know it’s a bit late, but Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Ben, who does not yet have the hand eye coordination or spelling skillz to write a post, would like to say a couple words:

Hey blog-o-sphere. I just wanted to let you all know that my dad is the best. Even though it’s obvious that I prefer clinging to my mommy because she plays really fun games with me, I love my dad too. He’s really good at throwing me up in the air and makes me feel like the tallest baby in the world when he lets me ride his shoulders. He takes me to fun places, like baseball and basketball games. He teaches me fun words when he yells at the TV, but mommy says that they’re words I shouldn’t repeat. He’s good at throwing my basketball in the hoop, and even lets me have a turn once in a while. When we’re driving around together he gets me Happy Meals at McDonalds because he knows I love fries and chicken nuggets. He likes to hug me and give me little kisses when I’m sleeping. I know he loves me a lot and I love him, too. Happy Father’s day!

Barack Obama made a great speech today, talking about the importance of fathers in the lives of children. I’ve got part of the speech below and you can click on the link for the whole speech at the bottom, or watch the 24 minute youtubed version below. I’d have to say my favorite quote from this massive speech is this: “We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down - you’re strong by lifting them up.”

Good morning. It’s good to be home on this Father’s Day with my girls, and it’s an honor to spend some time with all of you today in the house of our Lord.

Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.

But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing - missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.

You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled - doubled - since we were children. We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.

Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child - it’s the courage to raise one.

We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

I say this knowing that I have been an imperfect father - knowing that I have made mistakes and will continue to make more; wishing that I could be home for my girls and my wife more than I am right now. I say this knowing all of these things because even as we are imperfect, even as we face difficult circumstances, there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers - whether we are black or white; rich or poor; from the South Side or the wealthiest suburb.

The first is setting an example of excellence for our children - because if we want to set high expectations for them, we’ve got to set high expectations for ourselves. It’s great if you have a job; it’s even better if you have a college degree. It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don’t just sit in the house and watch “SportsCenter” all weekend long. That’s why so many children are growing up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we’ve got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in awhile. That’s how we build that foundation.

It’s up to us - as fathers and parents - to instill this ethic of excellence in our children. It’s up to us to say to our daughters, don’t ever let images on TV tell you what you are worth, because I expect you to dream without limit and reach for those goals. It’s up to us to tell our sons, those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in my house we live glory to achievement, self respect, and hard work. It’s up to us to set these high expectations. And that means meeting those expectations ourselves. That means setting examples of excellence in our own lives.

The second thing we need to do as fathers is pass along the value of empathy to our children. Not sympathy, but empathy - the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes; to look at the world through their eyes. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in “us,” that we forget about our obligations to one another. There’s a culture in our society that says remembering these obligations is somehow soft - that we can’t show weakness, and so therefore we can’t show kindness.

But our young boys and girls see that. They see when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it’s no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That’s why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down - you’re strong by lifting them up. That’s our responsibility as fathers.

Click here for the whole speech…

Cyclops Fun

Just wanted to share, since nothing exciting has happened lately.

This was part of a photoshop challenge, the topic being “What would the world be like if Cyclops roamed the earth today?” Of course, they would watch TV - but what would be their favorite show? I think this could definitely be one of them…

Hardee har har…

Time for Operation: Brady

I may have mentioned it before on my blog, but we’ve put our house on the market. Yes, the housing market in Chicago is really horrible and we may lose money, but Dave’s commute to his new job (which really isn’t that new anymore) is pretty long, and if we lived closer he would be able to stay at home and come in whenever work needs him, rather than just staying at the hospital like he does now.

So we’ve been planning on putting our house up for sale for a while now, and last month finally made the decision that the time was right. It’s tough, though, because this is our first house and we adore it. It’s the house where Ben was born (not literally, of course) and there are so many wonderful memories associated with it. Long ago, when we first found the place, we fell in love with it instantly. It wasn’t in an up and coming, “cool” neighborhood, it was on a busy street, and it was a duplex, but there was just something about it that we really loved. Four years later, it’s time for us to go. If we didn’t have to, we probably would have stayed here for much longer, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Today is our open house. We’re camped at Dave’s parents’ place (where they’re having a party and we’re in one of the rooms listening to them karaoke and scream in laughter - it’s funny) waiting for a good time to return home. We’ve cleaned our house like we’ve never cleaned it before. Every nook and cranny has felt the wrath of my bottle of Fantastic or my Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. And I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the magic eraser is awesome. I had scrubbed our shower for hours trying to get off soap scum, trying several cleaners. I checked online and saw that the magic eraser was pretty effective, and *poof*, just a little bit of scrubbing and my shower door was sparkling clean.

Truthfully, I don’t want to part with this house. I love this house. It’s not just a house, it’s our home. I always joke around with Dave that me and Ben were going to cut eyeholes in some white sheets Brady Bunch style and haunt the house as people come to see it. I know, though, that it’s time to let it go and let someone else enjoy it. *cries*

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Manga Hayden

As I’ve mentioned before, every now and then I like participating in Worth 1000’s contests when I’ve got the time. A lot of people pay to enter contests, but you can always play for free - but if you play for free, you can’t win. Winners are determined by the average rating given by other users - and if you’ve paid. The prizes are credits that you can use to enter more contests. I’ve got some credits there, but just like paying for contests that for beginners (which I definitely am, compared to the awesome work that’s there).

I’ve posted my manga art here before, and I always love it when they have a manga contest. Here’s my entry from a couple months ago that technically won, but ended up in 4th place since it wasn’t eligible for the top prizes. Felt like a sucker for not paying for it, but it was just an honor to know that I would have won if I’d paid.

Manga Hayden:

Here’s the original:

I’ve got a lot of stuff I’ve entered, so I’ll post those every now and then.

Back to the Drawing Board

Since I’ve gotten my graphic tablet for Christmas, I haven’t really done anything with it…

But now that I’m trying to get myself off of my work addiction, I’ve been trying to other things with my free time. I saw on one of my comic book message boards a whole bunch of people doing quick (and not so quick) drawings of the topic of the week, this week being a ninja turtle from the neck up. So I decided to do something really quick, just to get used to the tablet…just wanted to share (and to upload my picture so I could post it on that site).

Don’t ask about all the different colors, it’s my lame attempt to do some sort of shading!

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My Favorite Christmas Gift

Dave got me a pen tablet for Christmas, something I have been wanting for years. Before now it’s been too expensive to buy without really needing it, but luckily Wacom had come out with a more affordable version.

What is a pen tablet, you ask? If some of you are around my age, you may remember the Koala pad, which was used for computers a couple of decades ago. Instead of a mouse, you had a pen and a pressure sensitive pad. This made it a lot easier to draw and maneuver around. Nowadays, computer graphic artists (and many comic book artists) prefer using graphics pen tablets because of that more precise level of control.

I’ve always wanted one, not because I needed it, but because I wanted to play around with it. And now I have one! One day, when I’ve got the time, I’ll draw you all some really amazing stuff. Well, it probably won’t be amazing, but it will be interesting.

So now it’s time to work, but before I go, I’ll leave you with a little handwritten message - looks a little weird because i had to resize it:

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Happy Halloween!

I had this plan to have this awesomely cool Halloween background and theme this year, but I just haven’t had time to do it. That seems to be the theme of my life lately!

Anyway, Halloween just doesn’t feel the same this year. Most of it is due to the fact that we’ve been gone for most of October, so I haven’t been able to build up to that Halloween feeling. I also didn’t get a chance to put up Halloween decorations this year (once again, no time) and we didn’t get to attend our annual Cousins Pumpkin Carving night *cries*

Even though I have no time to do anything, one thing I did promise myself during my vacation is to make more time for Ben, and to make my family more of a priority. So tonight we’re going all over town trick-or-treating.

For now, I’ll just leave you all with some of the photoshopped pics I made of Ben last year:

The Dread Pirate Benjamin!
The Dread Pirate Benjamin!

Clown Baby
Benbo the Clown

Benny Potter
Benny Potter

*yawn*

Today’s a slacker day…well, there’s some cleaning to be done, but I’ve been pretty much sitting around all day (after finishing up my expenses). That is, when I’m not chasing Ben around.

Just wanted to share a pic that I took the other day at the zoo…the tiger was in a pretty lazy mood! (click to enlarge)