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POOPIN’ AIN’T EASY…

My youngest, Arlo (nearly 20 months old) is one of my biggest fans. It’s rare for him to not be right by my side, which is a blessing and a curse. I love love love my sweet, snuggly guy… But when a man’s gotta doo, a man’s gotta doo. And it’s hard to doo when there’s a toddler begging for your attention.

Our bathroom doors don’t stay shut. At least, not very well. We have two bathrooms and one door shuts and stays shut pretty okay, but it’s a tiny bathroom and the toilet is wedged between a super close sink and opposing wall. And I’m a burly guy! So, I use the second bathroom for my trips to the pool. But the door of that bathroom doesn’t catch so it’s fairly easy for anyone to barge right in.

Enter: Arlo the Destructor. If I let him in, I can’t do my business. He’s a wild man; nearly falling into the bathtub, grabbing at me or my phone, or just overall being a feral toddler. Now, there’s a stool in that bathroom that I use when bathing the kids and I can wedge that against the door and keep it in place with my big toe… But that just pisses the Destructor off. I mean, banging and screaming and threats upon my life. He only has a few words right now but they consist of, “mama, dada, tickle-tickle, bye-bye,” and “I will end you, Father, if you don’t let me into this bathroom!”

I don’t have a solution. I know he’ll grow out of it. I just have to scoop him up when I’m done, give him some tickles and kisses, and he’ll be fine. Poopin’ ain’t easy.

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THE BEST A MAN CAN BE

So, Gillette dropped a new commercial and a lot of men are upset by it:

It currently has twice as many thumbs down as it does thumbs up and the majority of the comments are negative. My take is this –  it never hurts to take a minute to be introspective and consider if there is anything more we can do to be better men and set a good example for our children. It’s not calling out a whole gender; it’s saying, “Men, take responsibility for your actions, the example you are showing your children, and hold other men accountable.” This ad gives me feels and the broflakes hating on it need to grow a pair. It’s about being better, not making excuses, and doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Being a man isn’t about being an asshole. Don’t just bro up, grow up.

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STAY BUSY

So I’ve been freelancing for 16 days without a regular gig. I’ve sent out well over 100 resumes in the past month as well as have submitted bids for dozens of freelance / short-term or one-off jobs. I’ve only heard back from a handful; most of which want an onsite designer. I may have gotten a regular once-a-week comic strip gig, but I’m waiting to hear back on that. Unfortunately, a lot of older companies still live in a world of cubicles and a routine that best fits old school management and not the modern lives of its employees and clients. Something is bound to catch but it’s a little disheartening.

In the meantime, I’m working on a comics pitch, a children’s book, and a coloring book. The coloring book is strictly for my daughter. She turns 7 in February and wants to be an artist like her old man. It’s really sweet and makes my heart glow when she talks to me about wanting to draw, paint, and even teach art. Like most 6-7 year-old girls, she and I don’t see eye-to-eye on what we think is cool to draw. I love unicorns but they’re not really my go-to drawing subject. But I love her and want to make her happy and I will be honored to hang her colorings of my drawings on the refrigerator. Here are a few (click on each for a bigger view:

When it’s done, I may offer the coloring book as a $1 pdf download.

But the title of this post is STAY BUSY, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Even without the day job, my days are pretty full. I’m up at 6:50am to make lunches and get the Bigs up and ready for school while Mom gets ready. They’re usually out the door around 7:30-7:40.

After that, I usually spend an hour or so cleaning up, doing and putting away dishes or laundry. My wife works only 10 minutes away, so by 9:00-9:30, I get the Littles ready and we’ll usually go pay a visit to Mom at her office. By the time we get home, it’s getting close to lunchtime so I’ll make lunch for Atticus, Arlo, and myself before trying to spend the next 2-3 hours oscillating between working on new art, looking for work, and playing with the Littles.

At around 2:00, I pack up the boys and head to Huxley and AubreeRose’s school to wait in the car line until 3:00. This helps the Littles get their nap in and gives me an hour to listen to podcasts and do a little more work on the iPad. This works out well because otherwise, Atticus won’t easily take a nap before 5:00 and he’s just a monster by then. It’s a good routine that’s working so far.

Once the Bigs are out of school, we come home, do homework, and play until Mom comes home. We usually do dinner around 6:00 with bathtime and chilling out before bedtime, which is usually between 8:30-9:00. After that, my wife and I will relax in bed, watch Hulu or Netflix, and dick around on our phones and/or draw some more before we retire for the night.

I have a lot of fears and worries about providing for my family and it’s definitely a lean time at the moment, but I hope that the things I am working on will help secure my family a decent and comfortable future. However, knowing that my children are in the best care we can provide (an actual parent), I am confident that my example as a loving father and someone who is working towards goals that are also things he loves will illustrate to my children that what matters in life are those you love and doing things that matter to you.

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YEAH, I’M FREE… FREELANCIN’

As of today, I am 100% Freelance. It wasn’t a decision that I made lightly or without a lot of difficulty, consideration, or discussion with my family. I had been working remotely for an advertising agency as a Graphic Designer and I actually loved that job. The company is full of wonderful people but they unfortunately no longer feel like they can, or want to work with remote or freelance talent. I have to do what is best for my family, especially my youngest children. The cost of childcare is ridiculously high and when the kids were in daycare, after-school, and summer care, we were paying around 2/3rds of my take-home pay towards childcare.

I feel like I’m doing an okay job of keeping my chin up and trying to stay positive but honestly, I’m nervous as hell. Bills aren’t going to go away. We still have rent and a car payment. But my wife… Man, she has so much faith in me. She keeps telling me that I’m going to get something better that will make me happy and pay even better. I hope she’s right, because right now I’m scared. I’ve sent out my resume and portfolio to well over 100 employers. I know that the holiday season tends to be a slow time for hiring but now that it’s over, I really hope to start getting some phone calls and emails.

If anyone out there in Internetland knows of anyone looking for a Graphic Designer or Illustrator, send ’em my way to check out my other site: doodlesquat.com. There’s a portfolio page with my resume and a bunch of work-for-hire that I’ve done.

Thanks and Happy Nerd Year!

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SANTA DAD

Last Saturday, I played Santa Claus for the YWCA of Central Alabama and it was a blast. My wife is the Senior Accountant for the YW and “volunteered” me for the part. Allegedly, because I have a beard. But it was great. the YWCA does such amazing work for women and children in our community and I am proud to have been a part of their annual Santa’s Workshop event.

However, my youngest was frightened of me. He wasn’t a fan of the real Santa at the mall either, but I had hoped he’d still see dear old dad behind the beard whitening, glasses, wig, and costume.

SantaDad

I mean, who doesn’t want to hug this guy, am I right? He’s so jolly! Speaking of, I got so many great hugs from those kids and one little girl even made me a Christmas card at one of the crafting stations. It was very sweet and I hope I did well enough to spread a little holiday cheer to the kids that came and took pictures with me. This could be a real gig in a few years if my beard continues to grey. 😉

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MOVED

Last Sunday we left the old homestead for greener pastures. It’s crazy, everything is so convenient! I mean, we’re like 10 minutes or less from everything that matters. The kids’ school is 5 minutes away, my wife’s work is 10 minutes away, there’s shopping 5 minutes away in either direction, my sister-in-law is 10 minutes away… That’s a far cry from the 45 minute work commute or 30 minute drive to see family. I like it.

But the new place is lousy with boxes. I mean, it’s our boxes full of our stuff, but why can’t they magically unpack themselves? I did all the hard work of packing it, driving it, and lugging it all up a flight of stairs. There’s gotta be some Harry Potter spell for unpacking and putting away. And speaking of lugging stuff up the stairs, I have huge bruises on my forearms from boxes and especially from an armoire that banged against my arms with every step. I bought some Forearm Forklifts at the suggestion of a friend but I was the only one who could figure them out, so they didn’t get as much use as I’d hoped. They would have definitely saved me from looking like a fat heroin addict.

I’m slowly starting to carve out actual living spaces from our corrugated shantytown landfill. My home office is set up, the master bedroom is close to where it needs to be, the kids’ rooms are taking shape, and the play area is starting to look inviting (not that a giant box fort isn’t inviting to a couple toddlers.

Oh yeah, Arlo is toddling now. Maybe only 4-5 steps at a time because he still loves being held and enjoys his status as “The Baby,” but he’s getting there. And as of yesterday, he’s technically no longer “The Baby.” My sister-in-law had her first child yesterday; a girl. So, I’m an uncle now, too!

Another tidbit about the new place: great water pressure. Hopefully, I won’t forget to shower as much now.

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MAYBE I SHOULD START DRINKING

I’ve been working from home with two babies for a little over a month now and it is hard. Kudos to all the other stay-at-home moms and dads out there. You guys are champions.

Getting work done while watching the kids is challenging enough by itself, but we are also in the process of moving (thus, the extreme lack of updates). We’re moving closer to the city, my wife’s job and sister, and into a way better school system. Hopefully, once we’re settled into our new digs, I can do a little more with this blog, and more writing in general. It’s definitely easier to write than it is to do graphic design with a one-year-old snoozing on your shoulder. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing art and will continue to do so but maybe I can do better with paying the bills by lining words up in interesting ways over pictures and advertisements.

Anyway, today’s adventure includes a house in disarray with moving boxes, a floor I desperately need to sweep, and a two-and-a-half-year-old smearing paint all over said floor while I use the bathroom. He’s a sneaky little ‘Cus.

I gotta clean up. Have a wonderful day!