Posts Tagged ‘stay at home dad’


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My daughters drawing in chalk on the sidewalk and a camera filter make for a great image.


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My wife And daughter recently took a trip leaving me at home with the dogs and time to catch-up on work and house repairs. It was a vacation that I was really looking forward to. It was the first week at home without my daughter since she was born. I’ve been a stay-at-home, work-at-home dad for almost 7 years now.

And it was a surreal week. It took me a day or so to relearn what life not associated with having a kid was like. I reverted to my preferred schedule, working late into the night. I kept busy until 3 or 4 in the morning. I’d be back up by 9 in the morning and walking the dogs without an extended discussion about why we have to walk dogs.

I had no one asking for lunch, so I often skipped lunch. I wasn’t worried about preparing dinner so I ate when I was hungry. It wasn’t a return to the schedule free days of my youth, I still had two dogs to keep happy. But I was able to work a more organic schedule that saw me writing in afternoons, dealing with emails and taxes and such in the evenings and drawing all night.

I admit feeling a bit lost without the need to pick up my daughter from school, or drive her to swimming or gymnastics or a play date. Time didn’t move in the staccato rhythms of caring for kids. It flowed and surprisingly It felt like I had many more hours in each day.

Of course I missed them, and I’m not saying it was better. But only now can I clearly see how much my life changed since my daughter. These slow changes in life, like gaining a pound or the graying of your hair, aren’t appreciably day by day. You become something different without realizing it.

I hope to combine a little more of the old me with the new me as my daughter gets into full time school. I have some learning to do. Again.

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too many books illustration. Mark Fearing

too many books illustration. Mark Fearing

Here’s an update on my book-letting. Two months ago I wrote about my need to get rid of books. That perhaps being buried alive by books in my studio isn’t the way I want to go…though honestly, it’s not a bad way all things being equal.

And now for some blog-honesty…I haven’t gotten rid of one single book.

I tried. We had visitors for Thanksgiving and I tried to talk them into taking some books with them to read on the way home. But they already had plenty of books.

It gets worse…I recently purchased three new books and my bet is the Holidays will see me get at least one or two or three or more. So I am losing the ‘war on books’. I may never move from this house. I don’t have the energy to box-up all these books…

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I couldn’t find our mailbox key. I looked everywhere. I spent hours running up and down, searching every corner of the house. I grew more frantic as the hours passed.

I took the garbage from the kitchen to the garage, dumped it on cardboard and dug through it. I’ve been know to accidentally toss things away when I’m in a hurry or distracted, which is most of the time. But I found no mailbox key in with the banana peels. I looked through the drawer where we keep the dog leashes used on walks. The key has landed in there a few times when I get back from walking them and jumble the extra poop-bags up with their leashes and whatever else is in my pocket. It wasn’t in there.

So, what about pants pockets? I started the day with black jeans. It was cold. But after dropping my daughter off and walking the dogs, it was warm so I switched to cut-offs. Then, mid-afternoon I had a meeting so I put on big-boy-pants. Black dress pants so I looked semi-professional. (key word being ‘semi’ professional…).

After the meeting I switched back to shorts and picked my daughter up.

Hours were passing as I ran around. My wife got home. I was still looking. Cleaning out drawers. My daughter built an entire Lego camper van or something (these aren’t the legos I had as a kid!) and I was still looking.

Looking under car seats. I started to wonder how I even go about getting a new key. Does the post office help in such cases? What if by some miracle I actually get a check this week? What if someone found the key and takes that check? (after the disappointment of stealing a check from a kids book illustrator/author sets in the thieves would have a good laugh…)

I finally sat down and zoned out and realized something funny about the good old human brain and its short-cuts. I had worn two pairs of black pants that day. Each time I went upstairs and dug through the pockets I was digging through the black jeans, which were in the laundry basket in the bedroom. I had folded the dress pants up and hung them in the closet. Each time I walked into that room my brain checked off the ‘look in the pockets of the black pants’ and I never made it into the closet.

The mail box key was in the dress pants. So much for me trying to look respectable. All it did was make a mess out of my evening.

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Summer has kicked in. Travel, pic-in-ics, yard work. Driving kids to Safety Class. Amputations. Coyotes.

So I will be an absent blogger until the leaves start falling. Or the rain starts falling. Whichever comes first. And here in Oregon I think you know…

I’ll be posting weekly and/or announcing particular things that demand that I waste 30 minutes in front of a computer or iPad. But it will be far less frequent. Here’s to not looking at the computer so much!

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When I decided to start writing this blog regularly I was told I should demonstrate expertise in a subject area. Even if I don’t have one? I asked my friend who seemed to have a lot of answers.

Especially if you don’t have one, they answered.

Recently someone emailed me pointing out that this blog is called Illustration. But that I don’t talk about illustration that much and that I almost never do How To posts.

True enough. I think I may have misnamed this blog. (see #2 below)

Things I am expert in:

1- Hearing our cat vomit. That sound can wake me from the deepest slumber

2- Questioning if I made the right decision about whatever I am making a decision about

3- Nervous stomach issues

4- Selecting good black teas

5- Drawing as I draw, writing as I write

6- Wasting time on the internet

7- Taking the dogs for walks

8- Blog posts with lists

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I enjoy washing dishes. My wife finds this an odd and sometimes irritating habit. I’m not saying I want to wash dishes professionally. Been there, did that. Loading endless trays into the dish machine is not what I am writing about.

I like being at the sink and washing and rinsing dishes. I looked up a bit about this and apparently George Herriman of Krazy Kat fame also enjoyed it.

I like to believe it gives me time to think. That the manual process of taking a dirty dish and getting it clean somehow resonates as a task that I can accomplish and see the results of. I spend months trying to edit a story and I can worry myself awake about how I will finish a painting. These are tasks that seem like they are never done, never complete. And sadly, most often the final result doesn’t live up to the vision in my mind.

Getting the dishes done is immensely satisfying. I guess I’m easy to please.

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I received an email asking why I don’t put up more How To’s on the site.

Amongst the many, many, many, many good reasons I don’t is that there are already a lot of great How To’s on the Internets.  I don’t see any reason to add to that. Plus, I’m not sure my How To’s would help anyon who is not me.

But, I live to share, darn it. So, for your reading pleasure, a How To on writing a picture book.

How to write a picture book.

By. Mark Fearing

Copyright 2012. Blabbermouth Press.

1. Have funny idea. Say to self, ‘Self, that would make a great picture book!’

2. Start writing said picture book with boundless enthusiasm.

3. Realize it pretty much sucks. It doesn’t make sense and a whole book is not as funny as the fleeting 4 second inspiration or ‘funny-bit’ (as it’s called in the business) that sent you on your creative writing odyssey.

4. Keep writing until you give up and send the manuscript to agent to read.

5. Regret sending manuscript to agent to read.

6. Become so filled with shame at wasting another human being’s time asking them to read the dreck you just wrote; you begin to feverishly revise manuscript into something better.

7. Agent responds with notes. Read notes and revise manuscript 47 more times.

8. Start over.

Next week, How To pick a color to paint the kitchen.

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I have two dogs with very different personalities.

Angel the lab mix has perfect timing. I get out of bed and she looks up at me, her eyes already letting me know that while she is forever my pal, she knows that I will no doubt disappoint her because we are NOT rushing out for a walk immediately. And maybe, just maybe, she will have to stay in her doggy bed, sadly contemplating her boredom until some later time. And on some days, when the rain is heavy and things are busy there is no walk at all…

Charley, a collie mix is a different kind of dog. She runs over to greet me as I sit on the corner of my bed trying to wake up. She is wagging her tail, smiling as dogs can, and letting me know that she would like her bowl of kibble as soon as possible. She looks up at me, she nuzzles me. She sits down as if to demonstrate what a good dog she is.

On the way down the stairs it is Charley that practically kills me by running into me. She is at her bowl before I have my tea started.

Once the kibble clanks its way into the bowls Angel makes her way downstairs. But her look lets me know that while she’ll settle for kibble, the walk really needs to get on the agenda. When my daughter comes down they do a double take.

The kid. Yup. She takes precedent now. Angel just shakes her head. Charley starts phase two. Trying to cute-me into giving her some of my peanut butter toast.

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