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#11 - + Kids!

Anola was born! 2 days after Christmas...

(Named after a dream. It's a really good story - ask me sometime.)

I was meeting with clients the next day in the studio with her in a bassinet beside me. They brought her her first gift - a very cute Raggedy Ann doll. She slept a lot that first day, so it all went pretty smooth. But unbeknownst to me, my life as I knew it was about to change - dramatically. I had never lived with ANYONE younger than I - not even a roommate. ALL older. So I had no idea what I was in for...

Naively, I thought 'my new bundle of joy' would continue to happily coo in that bassinet while I worked my long hours. Oh how wrong I was!

Another of those HOW HARD CAN IT BE moments!!

And so the next stage began…

Sleep is for sissies!

was my new motto.

No, it was not smooth adding a baby into an already filled schedule of events! It all got A LOT trickier...

Routine work in the studio was one thing that was no longer 'routine'. Then we added setting up for shows, tearing down after it's all over, the traveling, talking with prospective clients, juggling the baby paraphernalia - and cutting off clients mid-sentence to whisk her out of the room (or show booth) when she started crying. My work routine and entire schedule was now interrupted – often!

John holding Anola while I QUICKLY plein air paint.

Painting took on a whole new meaning... I had to learn to paint FASTER or not at all.

When she was born, we were designing and creating some large restaurant projects... and just taking on a new large residential project (i.e. that meeting the day after she was born.) AND had some future shows lined up. So we were not lacking for things to do. A 'maternity leave' was not in the cards!

Who knew that we would have a baby that absolutely hated riding in a car. No, she didn't sleep like the books said she would. That made shows, deliveries and installations VERY rough. By the time we arrived, I needed a break instead of getting to work! She would cry as long and as loud as possible while in that car seat. She was persistent, I will give her that!

So I flew with her to install that large restaurant project near DC, because driving a long distance was just NOT an option. A 'lap child' was much better than Anola buckled into a car seat.

As she outgrew the 'baby stage', the car seat issue subsided and we could drive again - without deafening background noise. Now it was just the matter of juggling a rambunctious toddler during an installation – you can imagine!

But the 'show must go on' :) The Western Design Conference was a well known show in Cody WY for hand crafted furnishings. Far from the Adirondacks, but now that Nola would ride in a car seat we decided to enter... and we were juried in!

Sticks, Stones & Bronze - one of the chandeliers we exhibited at the Western Design Conference that first year.

We packed up a whole bunch of lighting we designed and created, put the car seat in the middle and headed to Wyoming with a truck camper pulling our utility trailer full of our hand crafted wares.

We won Best of Show AND Best Artist Lighting our first year out!... and we sold work too. Our western debut was a success.

Our Best of Show piece was purchased by a couple with a home in Big Sky, Montana. It wasn't too far away from Cody, WY and it would give us a nice drive through Yellowstone. We offered to deliver the piece on our way home...

After delivering and installing our Best of Show piece "Trout Season" (above) in Big Sky, Montana, we stopped in Bozeman, Montana for dinner on our way to the highway. I remember sitting at a restaurant on Main Street in Bozeman saying – "This is a great town. I could live here!"

I was pregnant with Graham at the time. So before the winter was over, we would have 2...

Truthfully, I was so sleep deprived at this point it gets a little fuzzy in my memory.

When I look back, my decision making skills may have flown out the window entirely.

Graham was born around lunch time, and I left the hospital with two kids that afternoon.

We had a big project going for Six Flags that included extra large paintings and many chandeliers. Again, no 'maternity leave' was in the self-employment cards.

Anola in front of one of the paintings I was working on for Six Flags. (This one was a 6' x 6' canvas.)

Back and forth everyday between two buildings - home & studio - with 2 little kids was a real challenge. So I set up an extra studio in the house to paint where the kids could stay more settled... hopefully ;)

Graham was now crawling. He had watched me use those brushes so much as an infant that he would crawl over pick up a brush, take it to a canvas and 'wipe it' around! (I made sure the brushes he could get to were clean and dry!)

The Six Flags installation I remember being a real reality check on the challenges of juggling 2. This would be my first large delivery and installation with 2 kids to keep out of trouble while I worked. And this project was BIG. We needed to rent a moving van to deliver. Our utility trailer wasn't big enough to fit it all...

What you see in the above photo was only part of the project. There was much more... Paintings behind the reception desk, chandeliers over the stairs, etc. etc. I vividly remember driving that moving van with a stick shift on the floor with 2 kids on the bench seat beside me - not sure if I should laugh or cry. But definitely knowing that I was now in a new reality!

We contemplated options for the future. This new reality was certainly not feeling sustainable over the long run! We brainstormed ideas - even threw out the idea of moving West, closer to the Western Shows. I always loved the West - Yellowstone had my heart from a young age. But the house was just. about. D O N E... Hmmm, what to do...


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