Sunday, February 28, 2010

Busted Knee, Paint Demo and The Now Habit

Wednesday was rough. I woke up after a night of terrible kidney pain, and while the pain was much less in the morning, it did not completely go away through the whole day. But I managed to get through the day, and after work I drove down to Lone Tree to visit my brothers.

Drew and I spent Wednesday night just talking and catching up. He's got some tough personal things going on right now, but even so he is doing really well. I'm so happy to see him so successful. His art has really blossomed, too. He has always been an amazing artist, but he is continually improving. He's working on this piece right now that is about 3ft x 4ft, a yin yang symbol that manifests as a face with eyes reflecting the sunrise and moonrise. Amazing. I can't draw anything I can't see -- but he can paint anything he can imagine. I have always been envious of that freedom. On my way out at about 9:30, I ran into Chad coming home from his new job as a tech support person for Dish Network. He is having a rough time being on the phone so much, but I'm proud of him for his success too. It's great that both of my brothers are finding their feet in such a rough economy.

I was playing out in the back yard with Tyr on Thursday, chasing him around in the snow, when my foot slipped and my knee bent back. I literally stood in the middle of the yard, trying as hard as I could to not pass out, absolutely panicking. It hurt so bad, I was sure I wouldn't be able to walk back to the house. Luckily, after a few minutes the dizziness passed, and the pain became bearable -- so I was able to limp back to the house. Getting up the stairs was a challenge, but I made it. It was pretty scary for me, being alone here, pregnant and injured. I'm really glad it turned out to be a pretty mild injury.

I wrapped my knee up in an Ace bandage and drove out to DIA to pick up Jeremy on Thursday night. He had spent the last week SCUBA diving in Cozumel on his yearly guys-only diving trip. I know, rough life, huh? But honestly it was difficult around here without him. There are a lot of things that are just plain harder for me to do now. And like I mentioned in my previous post, pregnancy hormones are making me feel a little needier than normal. I was very happy to have him home.

Friday night we just relaxed and watched movies. G Force was cute enough, but not worth buying, and The Orphan was just plain disturbing.

Meininger's Art Supply store in Boulder was hosting a free demo of Golden paints (my preferred acrylic paint brand) on Saturday. I dragged Jeremy along with me since Drew couldn't go. The demo was great -- I learned a ton -- but some of the people in the audience were making me CRAZY with stupid questions. I about lost my mind when the guy behind me asked his third question about ink transfers when we were at a PAINT demonstration. But I made it through to the end when they passed out the free samples. :) I got two mediums and three paint colors, and it was totally worth sitting through idiots asking inappropriate questions. Jeremy and I went next door to Buchannon's for coffee afterward, and an Almond Joy latte with a blueberry scone cooled my temper down.

The paint demonstration inspired me, as I hoped it would, and I finally completed the painting I had been intending for that pumice-ground-painted board.

I made the mistake of doing our taxes last night. It ruined my weekend. How we manage to OWE taxes when Jeremy was out of work for half the year is beyond me. I'm absolutely sick over it. With medical bills and now this... well, I'm considering selling the dogs. Anyone want to buy a couple of adorable little doggies? Just kidding. About selling the dogs. Not about being stressed about money.

Prenatal yoga saved my life again today. I really wonder how women make it through pregnancy without something like that. Not only is the physical relief immense, but the emotional support is just indispensable.

I have been reading The Now Habit non-stop since Friday. What a brilliant book! It's about fixing procrastination habits -- understanding why we procrastinate, then reprogramming ourselves to view work/tasks differently so we actually want to do them. The concepts are really easy to put in place. In fact, I even used it to motivate myself to practice piano today (I have been really bad about practicing on the weekends lately) and to write a little bit.

On Friday, if the baby is cooperating, we will find out if we're having a boy or a girl! While I feel like I need more weekend right now, I'm really looking forward to getting through the week to make it to that appointment!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Praying Hands

Here is something I've been working on. I experimented with a pumice ground medium mixed with burnt umber and quinacridone crimson for the background, which turned out pretty neat. But I won't lie -- painting on it was hard! I chose to paint praying hands, which are a pretty detailed subject, and getting fine detail on a rough background proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated. It turned out okay... but I'm considering painting over it and choosing a different subject.

(my hand is next to it for scale)

Friday, February 26, 2010

20 Weeks

Here is a pic of me at 20 weeks. I know, I know, I look like I just ate Thanksgiving dinner. Lugging this karate kid around for 5 months, now, and this is all I have to show for it.



So you have a comparison, here I am at 10 weeks and 15 weeks:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bored and The Now Habit

I'm bored. Usually it takes me more time than this to get bored when Jeremy is gone. Maybe it's pregnancy hormones. Maybe it's the fact that I only have one close friend in the area, and she is currently sick. Or maybe my relationship with Jeremy has changed so much since we moved here that I actually just miss him more now. Who knows?

I was supposed to go over to Della's tonight for dinner, but we had to do a raincheck since she's sick. So instead I did a Leslie Sansone walk fit video. I just did the first mile and I was exhausted. I feel so out of shape! Then I ate an almond butter, banana and chocolate chip sandwich for dinner. Yummmmm. Finally I procrastinated on my writing by outlining more scenes for this romance novel. You know, the idea seemed so much better a few days ago. But I'm not going to get burnt out on this one yet! I'm going to fight through! I actually wrote two pages for it just now. I promised myself I could read a book if I wrote for 30 minutes. So after I finish this blog, I'm going to get my "treat"!

I bought a new ebook tonight. It's called The Now Habit. It's about how to stop procrastinating. I thought maybe there would be new tricks in there to get me writing (or painting, practicing piano, whatever it is I'm dragging my feet on). I also thought maybe Jeremy would get something out of it. Every once in a while I can get him to read something other than comic books, you know. It's happened like twice. So it's not a totally insane idea.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Writing Struggles, Exhaustion and Dog Poo

Ever since I finished writing Breach of Fate, I have had a new struggle with my writing. I say "new" because writing is always a struggle in one way or another. But this new struggle is flat-out fear. I know what it takes to write an entire book, now, and the prospect of doing it again is absolutely daunting!

This is particularly sad since it only took me 26 days to complete Breach, and most writers struggle for years to complete a work of that size.

But every time I sit at the keyboard to do anything other than blog, I hit a wall. I can usually only squeak out three pages before the wall collapses on top of me. Well, three pages a day isn't bad, is it? It is when they are all opening scenes! I get new story ideas all the time, and I am reeeeally good at writing opening scenes. But once the opening is established, WHAM -- wall meets nose.

I'm trying something new tonight. I'm trying some really detailed outlining. Like REALLY detailed. I'm putting the tiniest scenes on notecards, and the plan after that is to organize them into larger scenes, then chapters -- then maybe I'll have an entire book outlined. It can't be too hard to write one tiny scene at a time, can it? I guess I'll find out.

The nightmares I had after my jury experience would make a fantastic book. I don't think I'm ready to outline that sucker yet... but my brain has been chewing on the idea all week. I've just got to figure out two major things before I can get going on it: 1) a plausible reason a murderer would be let off on a technicality, and 2) what the main character should decide to do about it. Number two is especially challenging. Should she set out to prove that the murderer is guilty, and help the police gather fresh evidence? Should she get revenge on the murderer herself, letting her rage at his act drive her to commit her own crime? Should she start her own detective agency, specializing in cases that were thrown out of court? So many possibilities. But the book I'm outlining tonight is going to be a simple, straight-to-trade-paperback romance.

In non-writing news, I am exhausted. Friday was a low-energy day -- but I had a bachelorette dinner to attend. So off me and 8 other girls went in a Porche limo to Appaloosa Grill in downtown Denver. It was a blast, but I didn't get home until about 11:30, and I had to get up at 7am to take Jeremy to the airport Saturday morning. He's now in Mexico diving with the guys. After I dropped him off at DIA, I headed down to the Springs for my hair appointment. I had about an hour to kill before my appointment, so I stopped in at Barnes and Noble, got a drink, and spent what little money I had on a couple of new books. One of the books is Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, and I can't put it down! Anyway, when I got to the salon, I asked my stylist to put the pink streaks back in my hair -- but he was out of the pink dye. :( So he's ordering more and I'll be doing that next time. After I got my hair done, I met Katie, Janet, Emily and the twins for a late lunch at Wooglin's. The drive back up to Lafayette was harrowing, thanks to this winter's never ending snow. I'm so ready for spring!

So since I felt like I had pushed my poor pregnant body wayyy too hard the last two days, Sunday I opted to not push myself so hard, and to rest as much as possible. I skipped church altogether (but had to spend some of that time cleaning up dog poo -- our dogs do not take well to changes in their routine), and headed to prenatal yoga at 1pm. No matter how tired I am, I always feel better after yoga. Later on that afternoon I visited Della for a little bit, then I spent the rest of the day curled up on the couch with movies and books. Even after taking it easy tonight, I still don't feel like my body has rested enough -- but I'm hoping I'll feel better tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nightmares

I have to blog about this just to get it OUT of me. That is how disturbed I have been today.

So you know I was part of a 12-person jury in a criminal trial this week. And you know we had to find the guy not guilty, even though we knew he had done something wrong. During such a trial, the court assures you that your only duty is to look at the facts and decide if there is any doubt in the charges. Your heart, your gut, need not apply. So you walk out of there knowing that you did your job.

I thought that was enough. I thought I was okay with it. I didn't feel bothered.

Jeremy and I watched Law Abiding Citizen last night. It was a terrific movie overall -- one of the few where you don't feel wrong about rooting for the bad guy. And again, I thought I was okay after the movie was over.

But when I went to bed last night, I had nightmares ALL night. Every time I fell asleep, I would dream of being on a jury, seeing photos of a murder, and having to let the murderer go free on a technicality. In one of the dreams, he had murdered my old dog, Mac. After that one, I was sobbing hysterically and Jeremy had to hold me and calm me down.

So obviously the whole court experience did not leave me as free of guilt as I thought it had.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jury Trial

I reported for my first-ever jury summons on Tuesday morning. For some reason, even though no one I had ever known had actually been chosen for a jury, I was sure that out of the 100 people in the room, I would be one of the few chosen. I was not wrong.


Having never been summoned before, I knew nothing of the process. I certainly didn't know that most trials lasted 3 days. So it was with dread that, after the informational video was played, I left with the group of 50 or so other folks called out to enter the courtroom. And it was with annoyance that I moved with 20 other people to the jury box. But once I was in the jury box, it was explained to us that this was a criminal trial involving domestic violence... and things began to get interesting.


Those of us in the jury box went through round after round of questioning to determine if we had any concerning biases. And folks were whittled down, then replaced with alternates. Finally 12 of us were called out to be on the jury for the 3-day long trial. After the rest of the summoned were dismissed, we were given a detailed explanation as to what was expected of us. Then the trial commenced.


I don't want to go into a step-by-step account here, because a lot of the testimony was just the same story from different perspectives. But the overall situation was a woman accused her husband of beating her up, and her mother and daughter both allegedly witnessed at least part of it -- but the husband insisted he never laid a hand on her except to push her away when she was hitting him, and the photos the police took the next day did not indicate the injuries she supposedly sustained.


The whole situation was fishy. Every testimony obviously included many lies, which turned our stomachs since everyone was under oath. Neither the husband or wife was innocent, I can tell you that. But it was the photos that really irked us jury members. Most of the injuries just didn't look real. Most of them looked like running mascara, or smudges, not bruises. And the only bruises that actually looked like they might be real, the ones on the woman's wrists, were the ones we were asked to dismiss -- we were only to judge the charges in regards to the injuries on the face and chest. So, while I think the man should have been charged with something, we could not find him guilty on any of the charges because the only injury we actually felt had no doubt around it was the one we were asked not to consider. The man's not-guilty verdict hung solely on our doubt in the other injuries.


Not only was the whole jury trial experience really fascinating to go through, but the case itself was interesting. I learned a ton. And I have advice for anyone in a domestic violence situation:


Women: DOCUMENT. If you are the victim of violence, take pictures immediately. Take pictures of your injuries, take pictures of the scene of the crime, and take pictures of everything AROUND the scene of the crime (the outside of the house, the layout of the inside -- it all helps a jury picture the story). Take pictures the following days, too, as the injuries present themselves more visibly. Also, do a written report for the police the same day it happens, or at least quickly thereafter. And finally, don't ever hesitate to call the police immediately or get medical help. A medical record of the injuries is very important.


Men: GET OUT OF THERE. If an argument turns physical, screw packing a bag, don't fight back -- just get out of there. There is bias against men in domestic violence cases in this country, and there is no denying this fact. If you attempt to fight back or "defend yourself", you are knowingly putting your hands on another human being and this WILL impact a jury's decision. If the woman is swinging at you, turn and GO. Also, be the first to call the police. If you wait for her to do it, you're going to be the one arrested, even if you didn't purposefully swing at her.


As a member of the jury, you are asked to consider only certain facts in the case. So even though other facts might influence your decision, you cannot consider them. Like we were not allowed to consider the wrist injuries, even though we saw them in photos. Each charge is detailed line by line, and we have to verify that there is no doubt line by line. So all emotion is removed -- we have facts, we have a checklist of charge details, and we have to line them up to find the defendant guilty. If there is a single line that doesn't ring doubt-free, the verdict is not guilty. Period. This is important to know if you are the victim of any crime ever. Don't leave any room for doubt. DOCUMENT, REPORT IMMEDIATELY, DO NOT REFUSE HELP DUE TO PRIDE OR FEAR. These things will impact a jury's decision, whether you like it or not.


So yeah, serving on a jury was an inconvenience to my daily routine -- but damn it was interesting! Overall, I'm so glad I got to experience that. And I hope I don't have to experience it again for many years. LOL

Sunday, February 14, 2010

UUF Orientation and Valentine's Day

It's been a busy weekend. I'm extremely glad I have Monday off for President's Day!

Friday night I went to the first session of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship orientation at one of the church members' houses. I got to talk with some really neat people and hear interesting, uplifting and heartbreaking stories. The second session was Saturday morning. We gathered at the UUF and first listened to a history of Unitarianism (I didn't know that 3 of the Founding Fathers were Unitarians!). It was eye-opening. The Unitarian church's beliefs are very much in line with the beliefs our country was founded on -- religious tolerance and freedom, the inherent worth and dignity of the individual, and using action instead of just prayer to enact change. This is the most open-minded group of people I think I have ever been around. But not only are they open-minded, they are curious about others' beliefs. There is an honest interest in understanding how other people think, whether or not their beliefs align.

One of the most interesting things I noted during my time at UUF orientation was the number of scientists and "recovering" fundamentalist Christians there. It seems like the Unitarian church is a haven for those who want to make sense of the world and god. It might sound crazy to try to rationalize god, but hearing some of these scientists speak was a real experience. One noted that there is a scientific theory that says atoms were formed by pieces of exploded stars -- and so each of us is made of the stuff of the cosmos. Isn't that a beautiful thought?

After the orientation was over, Jeremy and I headed to Colorado Springs to spend some time with his family. The twins have gotten so big! They were wearing the onesies we bought them for Christmas. Each had an arrow pointing in one direction with the words "He's the bad one" written across the front. After we all ate dinner, we went shopping for dressy outfits for the nice dinners on the cruise we're going on in March. I got a dress with some stretch to it, so I'm hoping it will fit okay in a month. My belly seems to grow daily, so I have no idea what size I'll be by then.

Today, Valentine's Day, I got up before Jeremy and went to church. When I came home, he had flowers and chocolates waiting. So sweet! So before I ran off to prenatal yoga, I gave him one of his gifts. I got him this super hero Wii game. He LOVED it. We exchanged the rest of our gifts before Valentine's Day, so that was the last one left. He got me this wonderfully warm pair of pink PJs and Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne perfume (which I've been wanting to get, but couldn't find for a good price). I got him the game and a really nice carrying case for his laptop.

After I got back from prenatal yoga, I rested a little bit, then we went to dinner at The Kasbah. We both agreed that was probably the best meal we'd ever had. We were asked to remove our shoes, then seated on raised cushions at a low table draped in a red tablecloth and covered with rose petals. Dinner started out with a fruity champagne aperitif, followed by delicious bread and a lentil soup. The next round was six small plates with different Moroccan "salads" -- which really were all veggie dishes with interesting herbs and spices. We absolutely gobbled them down, the flavors were like nothing we'd ever tasted! The entrees came and we were already pretty stuffed, but they were so good we just stuffed ourselves more. I got the vegetarian couscous, which was a buttery couscous topped with a mix of spiced cooked garbanzo beans, raisins, carrots, celery, tomatoes and some kind of squash. For dessert we were given warm fig-filled pastries, which Jeremy insisted we feed each other. That didn't go over so well with the powdered sugar, but it was fun nonetheless. LOL. Dinner, by the way, was accompanied by two beautiful belly dancers. The music, the atmosphere, the food and the dancers added up to one of the best culinary experiences of our lives.

After dinner we went to Blockbuster and rented the new multi-player Mario game. We've been playing that most of the night. Now we're about to watch The Brothers Bloom.

And in baby news, Baby is kicking up a storm now. It started as a flutter about 2 weeks ago, and now it's a very distinct BOOM. He especially gets active when I'm still and there's not a lot of noise. It's as if he's saying "Hey Mom, I'm bored! DO something!" I love feeling the baby, though. Even though I know it will get uncomfortable as he gets bigger, it is so neat to feel my child finally.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Baby's Heart Rate in Normal Range!

We had our follow-up appointment with the ob/gyn doc this morning, and we have great news! The baby's heartbeat is back in the normal range. It's still on the low end of the spectrum (120BPM, and it should be between 120 and 160), but it's NORMAL. I'm still seeing the high-risk specialist on March 5, though, so he can take a really close look at the baby and make sure there's nothing obviously wrong. My obstetrician is insisting on that because we've opted not to do the genetic screening, and with the low heart rate, she said the specialist is the best bet to determine any concerns that would make us handle the pregnancy differently.

The reason we opted not to do the genetic screening is somewhat about cost, yes. I mean, my husband is out of work right now and we're already paying an arm and a leg on top of the insurance premiums! But, the biggest reason is that genetic screening can't determine if your baby has a problem, only if there's a higher chance it COULD have a problem. For us, this is a recipe for unnecessary stress. Especially since there is no family history of any genetic problems.

The fun part was getting to see the baby again. It's funny, because I can tell the position he's in based on the way my stomach looks (I can feel Baby kick when I'm still enough, too). Maybe it's because my build is so narrow, but when he's got his head out toward my front, my belly shows. But when he's back sideways again, my belly is almost flat. Sure enough, I woke up this morning with a flat tummy, and I knew exactly where he was. The ultrasound once again confirmed it -- his head was to my left, and his feet to my right. And Baby WAVED at us! It was soooo cute! He's still extremely active, squiggling and flailing around. The doctor said "With this being such an active baby, I wouldn't worry." So, we're taking the doc's advice and not worrying. This child is a fighter, I tell you -- Jeremy's strength and my tenacity (and inability to be still).

And on March 5th, the doc is going to spend time looking to see if he can determine the sex. Of course, I'm convinced it's a boy -- but who knows? Maybe I'll get a surprise in a couple of weeks. :)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

My Heart This Time

I went to the doc today because I've been having frequent heart palpitations -- especially at night. They were so bad last night they kept me awake, and I got only maybe an hour of sleep total. Given that the baby's heartbeat was slow yesterday, and I'm feeling physically weaker as the palpitations get more frequent, the ob/gyn folks and I all thought I should get checked out. The good news is there isn't anything obviously wrong with me. They are running some blood tests, and they're ordering a Holter monitor to keep track of my heart's behavior for a few days, just to make sure this is typical pregnancy-related heart palpitations and not something more serious. Another bit of good-ish news is that the nurse I talked to today said that she agreed with me that there was a good chance the baby's heart rate was slow because of the Claritin I took the night before.

The pharmacist has okayed everything I have taken during my pregnancy, but the fact is that I react very strongly to most medications. Allergy medicine is one of the worst, which is why it made such a mess of my health when I had to get off Singulair, the one allergy/asthma med that didn't give me any side effects. And if the baby has inherited my reactions to medicines, well it's no wonder he was so conked out yesterday (not conked out enough to be STILL, of course -- heaven forbid he stop beating on me for five minutes). And today he has been very active. When I was hooked up to the EKG at the doctor's office, he head-butted me pretty good. LOL. So I feel more positive today that things are going to be okay.

Of course I'm still holding my breath until Friday.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Baby Update -- Slow Heartbeat

I had my 16-wk checkup today. It didn't go so well. The nurse couldn't find the baby's heartbeat with the doppler, so they brought in the ultrasound machine and the doctor. Baby had his head sticking straight out (his favorite position, as it makes it easier to kick Mama's back and makes her belly poke out), and as usual he was very active. They saw the heartbeat with the ultrasound machine, but it was slower than it should be -- and they realized that the doppler was picking up the baby's heartbeat just fine, but they thought it was MY heartbeat they were hearing. The baby's heartbeat was about 98 when it should be at least 120. The doctor was pretty concerned. She had me make another appointment for Friday morning.

So I need prayers. Lots of them. Pray that the heartbeat is normal on Friday. Because if it's not, we're looking at a surgical fix if not a miscarriage. If the baby were a little bit older, the docs would be considering delivery, but at this age he wouldn't survive. So my hope is that today was a fluke, and everything will be totally normal on Friday.

Faith and Change

The year 2009 was the worst year I can remember. Not just because of the things that happened in my own life, but also because of the things that happened to my loved ones. Layoffs, cancer, breakdowns, IRS attacks. I know 2010 is going to be better. I have utter, unbending faith in that.

And faith seems to be the theme for me this year. Examining my own faith through attending the UUF, praying and meditating more regularly, and reading new types of books. And I'm noticing that faith and hope are inseparable partners.

I wrote a tweet not too long ago about how people don't change, but I keep hoping they will. The truth was, that was a tweet written out of frustration, because deep down I thought that change WAS possible -- it's just that most people won't make the effort. But the responses I got to that tweet were really interesting. After taking into consideration those responses, and then reading an article recently that said one of the most common unhealthy thought patterns is to think that people don't change, the notion of human behavior change has been on my mind.

The biggest reason for this to be on my mind was finally understanding that when you really don't believe someone can change, you treat them differently. You belittle their positive attempts (such as acting surprised when a chronically stingy person offers to pay for dinner), and in belittling those attempts you make it harder for the person to repeat that positive action, and thus make it harder for them to change. I was guilty of that with Jeremy for a long time. Every time he'd do something I had been wanting him to do, I'd be ready with some kind of snide remark like, "Oh wow. Hell has frozen over." Yes, this was a sign of my frustration, but it also made it really hard for him to continue doing what I wanted and needed him to do. Since I've been working so hard on myself (you know what they say -- you can't control anyone else, but you can control your own reactions), I have resisted the urge to make remarks like that and instead smiled, kissed him on the cheek and said "Thank you." And you know what? He's gotten better. He remembers to do things more often without me reminding him. He notices when the dishes need to be done. He puts the trash out every Thursday morning. He takes Loki to her group classes once a week. Now if I could just get him to shave more than once a week... but hey, baby steps, right? LOL

Anyway, Jeremy and I recently had a discussion about people and change. And I told him that I now believed that real, life-altering change is extremely hard for people. Most people won't change. Won't, not can't. Real change takes a firm decision, focus, and an absolute dedication. You can tell a person trying to change from a mile away. They shed unhealthy relationships, join groups of supporters, spend lots of time at bookstores, and end conversations that are not going in a healthy direction. There is a single-mindedness to them. You may or may not ever witness this in another human being during your lifetime -- it is extremely hard for a person to undergo real change, and most people are just not up for the challenge. With most people, you have to accept them the way they are.

But because of that small percentage of people that have enacted real change, because of those who have proved that change IS possible, and frankly because of my inability to NOT have hope, I will always have hope in my friends and loved ones. I will always hope that next time, X isn't late to our movie date, and that next time, Y doesn't take advantage of the generosity of another person. And I will be disappointed more often than not. I will have my heart broken time and time again.

But all of that disappointment is worth it if there is even the slightest chance that someone I care for will better their lives, make better decisions, or get rid of an unhealthy habit. If there is even the slimmest chance, I will work my butt off to make sure I don't discourage them in any way. So yeah, Jeremy might have forgotten to move his laundry to the dryer the last 5 times he did a wash -- but the one time he remembered, I'm going to smile and say thank you. Or at least try my hardest to do so!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Fighting like cats and dogs

Denny's, Graphics and Helicopter Butts

Oh man! I sucked at posting this week.

I went to my A.R.T.S. Anonymous group on Monday. It was inspiring, as always. This time, however, it inspired me to want to go out to a greasy spoon and talk about web design with Jeremy. He has been working on building a few different websites, and I have been helping him with the technical and graphic elements. So at 10pm, we went to Denny's in Boulder and set up at a table with my laptop. Over Moons Over My Hammy (no ham for me), we decided on a direction for the navigation buttons and came up with a plan for a small graphic animation.

I don't know what happened to Tuesday. I worked, then when I got off work I ate dinner and passed out on the couch. Nooo idea where that nap came from -- one minute I was watching TV and the next minute I was out. I woke up at 7:30 really pissed off that I had slept that long because I knew I would have a hard time getting to sleep at bedtime. Sure enough, bedtime came around and I wasn't the least bit tired. So I got into bed and put The Hours in the DVD player. After about an hour, the heaviness of that film made me drowsy enough to fall asleep.

I spent Wednesday night working on the graphics for one of Jeremy's websites while he went to a networking seminar. He walked in later that night and said "Remind me never to attend anything like that again." Apparently the speaker's networking advice only extended to "Talk to people you know and be able to tell them what you do." Um, yeah. That's just common sense. Anyway, I did get in some piano practice that night, so I felt much more accomplished than I did Tuesday.

Today is weird. But in a good way. I woke up full of energy and brimming with ideas. As I booted up my work computer, I looked around my office/soon-to-be-baby's-room and got the itch to start to move it. I have a studio downstairs, and our plan is to move my office into it so this room can go to the baby. I'm still going to have to leave one of my bookshelves in here because, 1) there's not enough room in the studio, and 2) it's too big to fit through the door in the studio. But it's an old legal bookshelf, so the first three shelves have doors on them. Baby-proofing that should be simple enough. And it's not like the baby will need the room. I figure we have a few more years before room becomes an issue.

Jeremy and I took the dogs for a walk at lunch. I had so much energy, I kept racing with Tyr. He was in heaven with Mama being all crazy like that. LOL. When he's excited, his little bat-ears go as straight as he can make them, and he wags his tail in a circle. One of his many nicknames is "helicopter butt". Loki wasn't having so much fun, but it's her own fault. As part of her socialization training, she has to wear a muzzle when she's going to be around other dogs. The trainer tells us it will teach her that she can't use her mouth when she's scared. Well, it's slowly working... but it also makes her into one pathetic-looking pit bull. You should see the pout this dog is able to pull off through a mesh muzzle.

Speaking of training the dogs, yes it does seem like they've been in training forever. For Loki it's been about a year and a half, and for Tyr it's been about 6 months. But the results have been remarkable. When we walk them, the leash is slack and they are neck-to-leg with us without any leash-pulling or yelling. They don't take off after every noise or movement. They stop and sit before crossing the street. They don't run up to every other dog we pass. And the coolest trick? When we stop, they stop IMMEDIATELY. I mean on a dime. If you ever get the opportunity to see it in action, it's quite amazing. Jeremy will be running with one of them and he'll stop suddenly -- and bam, dog butt is on the pavement. The attention these dogs pay to our cues now is absolutely amazing. So while Loki's fear-based dog aggression is still a work in progress, this training system has been worth every penny and every minute of time.

We loaded Photoshop onto Jeremy's computer early this morning, and he has been glued to it all day. I taught him a few little tricks, and set him up with some instructional books, and he just went to town. He is having so much fun creating a collage of comic book characters. Hahaha! But seriously, he's so fascinated with web design and graphics, I keep telling him he should consider going to school for it. If he doesn't have a great job (or get his Internet business off the ground) by this summer, I would bet he would be willing to pursue that education. And he'd love every minute of it.