Happy December!

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Hooray! It’s December and YES, I am working on the 2019 SAJ calendar. I’m up to April. I should be done this week.

As someone who suffers from entertains anxiety regularly, I really love to plan. It is calming and fun to daydream up good things and then work them out on paper so that they have a better possibility of happening.  Of course things don’t always go to plan and that causes more anxiety but I really enjoy the planning part.  Let’s just focus on that good part.

I love the beginning of December (pretty much August on, if we’re being honest) because it’s prime planning time. Whenever Bug or Payam moan about Christmas music playing in November I tell them it’s a good thing because then it doesn’t feel like Christmas time rushed past us and we barely got to enjoy it. Start early and make the best of it, I say!

I put my pink Christmas tree up in my office on December first. I LOVE it. This tree has so many good memories attached to it.  Remember when I bought it way back when Bug and I were living in my Grandpa’s trailer in the sticks? It was such an extravagant purchase back then. I remember emailing Bethany and asking her if I was being foolish to buy such a silly thing. Money was tight. But it made us happy. It was sort of a strike for independence.

Before I got divorced I would never ever buy something so flashy and synthetic but now that I didn’t have anyone to tell me it was stupid, I could. It took me a long time to detach myself from my marriage and the decisions that we would make together. I remember thinking, it doesn’t matter what I’m going to do and what he’s going to do. It’s not a chess game.  So I bought it and Bug and I loved it. It really wasn’t stupid at all! Kind of like listening to pop music in the car. Freedom is a wonderful part of a fresh divorce but it’s also very scary. Just like navigating your computer problems for the first time when you are used to having an IT guy living in your house…

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Anyway, I digress. Christmas! Happiness! So many fun traditions! I didn’t grow up with Christmas so it’s taken me a while to develop my own traditions but I can safely say that in the last three years we have some solid ones.

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We always go to Descanso gardens to see the lights and the girls and I dress up and see the Nutcracker. We decorate the tree and play music. I think we’ll do a time lapse video this year. That seems like a fun thing to do. I really love this time of year…

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My crazy pants had to make an appearance. We haven’t put the big tree up yet but I think we’ll do that tonight.

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But we have done our annual Christmas Time Public Relations effort and they are due to be mailed this week. Woot!

I’m so excited for our New Year’s Eve party. I learned a funny thing about myself while I was designing this year’s invite. It was kind of a breakthrough.  I constantly judge myself from other people’s points of view. Duh. This has been a problem of mine since forever.

It’s probably a side effect of the way I grew up.  Something about having a lot of parental figures telling you what to do all the time and having your own will quashed OR maybe it has something to do with being a type-A first born. Who knows! Anyway, as I was making the New Year’s invite I kept changing it because I imagined what my different friends might say… should I take off the “We’ll bring the drinks” part because they’ll think we are alcoholics? Should not put the “kids are welcome” part because they’ll think it’s a kiddie party and not come?  I walked around feeling super anxious about it until I finally decided IT DOESN’T MATTER! I’m not playing a chess game!  I am fun and people will come or they won’t come and I need to stop applying the Friend A filter!! So that’s my thing now. I’m not applying the Friend A filter. Or B or C or anything but the Brenda filter. Is this what I would like to do on New Year’s? Yes, it is!

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So yeah, back to the public relations photos. I love them. Payam and I are getting fatter and the girls are getting more beautiful. Time, man. It happens. I hope we keep this up as we get more and more gray and frail. I’m really into embracing my grandma style. I know! I’m not a grandma! But when I am I want to look like this.

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Sometimes when I hold my head a certain way you don’t see my double chin and I look super fierce.

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As we were wrapping up our photo session we walked by a laundromat and for fun we took some laundromat shots. If you’ve followed Bug and I since the way-back-days you know how sentimental laundromats are for us. Remember Judy, the older laundromat manager woman who died? She was the first person who died in Bug’s life. It was a huge big deal for us. Sigh…

Bug and I really loved doing a laundromat cart racing shot. I looked through my old photos and I couldn’t find one of me racing with her in the cart but you know we did it. I just didn’t have a professional photographer following us around back then.

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And then I found this one:

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Oh sweet napping Bug with her pahs… I love the flood of memories!

Serpenises and fangirls and ants, oh my!

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Have you been to the fair yet this summer? I’ve been three times. Except one of those times doesn’t count because we couldn’t actually get inside. Parking was insane. We circled the fairgrounds for a mind-numbing half-an-hour in traffic and one by one, every single parking lot closed on us.  I think there are five or six lots and all of them filled up right before our eyes when we were two or three cars from the entrance. It was maddening.

Then we attempted to park in the college parking lot across the street and one by one those spots disappeared right before we could get to them too. We pushed further out to a metered lot and finally found one spot. We didn’t have any quarters so we bummed eight of them off this really nice lady who refused to take our cash. Pay it forward she said. Then with quarters finally in hand we discovered that our meter, the very last meter, was jammed. It just wasn’t meant to be.  We gave up and went home with sad faces. Of course promising the kids we’d come back the next week they were with us and we’d definitely leave early to beat the rush. Defeated, we stopped for Panda Express for dinner on the way home and paid our eight quarters forward to a cashier who thought we were tipping her.

The next week we did make it back and we left early enough to get an actual parking spot. We had a great time eating fair food, checking out the baby animals, the wood working room and of course getting henna tattoos. The girls wanted matching Riverdale tattoos on their forearms and with a little extra cash they found an artist willing to try it. They were so proud of their tattoos BUT when they were done we got hustled into a crowd and Bug bumped her arm on my purse or something and the “t”  in “serpent” got smudged so that it looked like an “i.” Southside Serpenis was just not gonna work. Back we went and while the artists in the booths tried to smother laughter, they fixed the “i” back into a “t.” I thought it was pretty funny too. Bug was mortified.

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My parents are selling their home in the Sticks finally. They’ve been wanting to move since forever and they actually have almost sold their property. Cross your fingers, say a prayer that the escrow closes. We went out there to help with packing some boxes and pick my mom up to take her to Cat Con.

It was about 110 degrees. Well, not 110 but it really doesn’t feel much different from 101 to 120 when you’re in the thick of it. It’s hot and miserable and the worst time to be moving.  I can’t even humble brag about helping them because I only helped them one day while they have selfless church friends (and my aunts) who have been helping them for MONTHS! I am so thankful for their friends (and my aunts). We might not get along or agree on some pretty big things that keep us at odds but we definitely agree on loving my parents.

It was kind of bittersweet to say goodbye to my parent’s property. While I’m so happy they are getting the hell out of dodge and leaving the meth heads and drug dealers behind for a quiet gated retirement community on the other side of town, I will miss their giant green park-like front yard. I’ve taken so many pictures of those red chairs in the shade. Bug has played on the swing set and picked tomatoes from their garden since she was old enough to hobble around. We will definitely miss all their fruit trees and abundant tomato garden. But they won’t miss the old mobile home with the floor that was falling through!

It will be a good move for them. They are moving way out in the country by some mountains near a state park that we can explore. Their community has a big olympic-sized pool that hosts aqua-aerobic classes that will be awesome for my mom. I can’t wait to visit and take the kids there to swim. Since they are way way out in the sticks now, they will be in prime coyote territory so my dad has to build a giant cattery for their eight cats. It will be fun. I look forward to helping him design it.

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It was quite timely that we were going to Cat Con and we had an extra ticket for my mom. It was supposed to be me and the girls going (because we had so much fun last time) but Joon couldn’t go because she is taking a vacation with her mom.  My mom was happy to oblige for cattery research purposes and for free cat food. My mom loooooves free stuff, which may or may not be why it’s taking them MONTHS to move.

Whenever Bug and I lost her in the crowds of Cat Con we’d just look for the nearest free cat food booth and find my mom there filling out some form. She had a blast.

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And so did we! One of my favorite things about Cat Con is checking out all the illustrators. Someday I’d love to have a booth there and illustrate a bunch of cats. I know I could do it. I’m just in an owl phase right now but you know I have a few cat characters in me too.

Anyway, we stopped by the Emily the Strange booth and I actually got to meet the artist, Rob Regur! I was shy because I’ve been a fangirl since forever. Finally on the second swing by his booth I got up the courage to ask for an autograph. It helped that Bug was shelling out some funds for a really cool cat-scratch black sweatshirt for herself. He was super nice and even drew me a picture! Of course I put my foot in my mouth and said something stupid about liking him since I was twelve, which is totally not true because he is only 50 and I am 46. I got my age wrong. It just felt like I’ve been a fan since I was 12 but it was probably more like I was a fan since college. Whatever. Fangirl brain has dumb.

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Speaking of illustrating I have had a brilliant idea. What about Christmas Postcards! I was going to make cards for Christmas this year and sell them in my shop but as you probably know if you follow me on Instagram, I have a thing for postcards. I like to draw and write at least one a day. So why not make Christmas postcards! Who needs an envelope? I always struggle with filling up all that white space in a card anyway. It’s wasted! A postcard is nice because you only have enough room to scrawl a few lines. So that’s my plan.

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I’m thinking Little Hoo Christmas cards. Though I would totally use the Papa Hoo card all year around. I might add a few more designs (Christmas Fairy for Gingermog and Stringing Popcorn and Cranberries for Heather..) or I might not. Still thinking on it. Of course I’ll brand up the backside with some cutesy SAJ style.

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I was also thinking about making some SueBee cards. Remember her? She’s inspired by my mom. Which style do you like better? Vector on the left or sketchy on the right. I like the vector style better personally but Bug likes the sketchy style. I’m torn. Bug usually has good taste.

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You know what else is happening this summer? ANTS. It has been the summer of the Great Ant Conquest. They are out to take over our house with a vengeance. I swear they will probably outlive us and slowly eat our entire house bite by bite. Everyday we find new trails and spend hours spraying them with poison and then cleaning up their trails of dead bodies.

I can thank the ants for my sparkling clean pantry that is now all reorganized and purged of anything with a sugar content. In fact, I got so into cleaning and reorganizing that I asked Payam to build me small shelves in the giant shelves that I used to always lose things in and he did! It is soooo much better. It’s amazing how now I can see everything in the pantry at one time and I don’t have to dig. It’s the best thing ever. So I guess having an ant problem has it’s perks.

We think they have a colony in the attic so we will be calling an exterminator and taking care of that soon.

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That pretty much wraps up this summer as I know it.  As Cody says, Stay cool, dudes!