Monday, July 27, 2009

Roller Coaster Summer (Stop the World- I Wanna Get Off!)

My sons and I have been making a trip to Kings Island, the local amusement park, nearly once a week this summer. We purchased season passes since we were not planning any trips. Both Alex and Brendan are big enough now to ride on all of the coasters, and they really enjoy them. It is fun for me to see them experiencing this, but to me the rides seem a lot rougher than they used to be. (Am I getting old?)
The stand out ride of the park this summer though, is the new Diamondback roller coaster. It is an incredibly fun and surprisingly smooth ride. It also has an absolutely terrifying first hill. You plummet 215 feet, at a 74 degree angle, going 80 miles per hour!

It has been a couple of weeks since we were at King's Island, but I really feel like I have been on a roller coaster all summer long (and even before that really). I know the roller-coaster-as-a-metaphor-for-life is rather cliche', but it really seems to fit. The ups and downs of this summer have got me feeling both exhilarated and exhausted, delirious and depressed. It has been a really good summer for the most part, as there have been more joys than challenges, and the difficulties have turned around (or they will really soon), but at the moment, I feel like I am perpetually reliving that first hill on the Diamondback-- flying through summer at break-neck speed, holding on for dear life!

Here is a taste of my ride...(For a taste of King's Island's Diamondback click here.)

In the spring, my dad was diagnosed with sarcoma and finished the first phase of his treatment (radiation) just before the summer began.

The summer started with me finding out that I had been nominated for two Golden Teddy Awards! I also started to get caught up with my Teddy bear orders.
These are my nominees.

Visits to King's Island with the boys (once we took my nephew) are always fun. I also took the boys to their first rock concert at King's Island. Spirit Song is a Christian music festival and we all loved it. Here's my nephew Nolan with my sons in the background.

Alex was in a play! Bugsy Malone Jr. Here he is as "Snake Eyes". He did a great job.

Alex had an extreme reaction to poison ivy. This picture was taken before it got "really bad"!

I've been taking a figurative sculpture class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati with my mom. I love that art is a passion we share. It was my first time sculpting from a model.

I gave Brendan's room an "extreme make-over" and had a garage sale(which I won't be doing again--whew what a lot of work!)

Alex got sick with a fever of 104.5 (one of his periodic fever episodes) this past Friday when I took my dad in for his surgery to get the cancer out. Alex is better now, and Dad's surgery went well (looks like they got it all), but his recovery will be long.

There are only three weeks until school starts and I will be teaching again. The weeks will be full, caring for Dad, a visit from my brother Aaron, finishing Teddy Bears, getting my classroom ready, and making time to take the kids to King's Island at least one more time like I promised. I guess there's nothing to do but hold on tight and try to enjoy the ride!

Edited to add another bump in the ride--Brendan broke his arm! Last week! When I was distracted by Dad's pending surgery, then Alex's fever, Brendan had a fall on his bike. But as he is such a tough little guy when it comes to pain, we didn't take him to the doctor until I noticed it was still a bit out of shape. We're off to the orthopedic doctor today.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I have just started an online Photoshop class at Dollstreet. I have taken a class on Photoshop before, but it was an intense two day class and we learned so much in such a short time that it really didn't stick with me. I have also played around with Photoshop on my own a little, and was very pleased to come up with the temporary opening page for my website's new location and my banner ad for 100 Best Bear Artist Blogs. But somehow the information still is not filed in my memory. (Which is why my temporary opening page is still there!) Each time I try to do something again, I find myself staring at the screen thinking, how did I do that?

So, I am trying again.

In the first part of the class we explored the Photoshop environment and played with some filters. I had done this before, but it is always kind of fun, although not particularly useful for my business needs at the moment.

Here is a favorite photo of my favorite bear and doll, Figaro and His Puppet.

Here is the same photo skrinkwrapped!!! Actually the filter is called "plastic wrap", and I found the effect quite amusing! If you click on the picture to view it larger, you will see that they do indeed look like they are covered tightly in plastic wrap and pressed to a cardboard backing!

Here is one I rather liked called "poster edges".I particularly liked the way the lines accentuated the swirly texture of Figaro's fur and makes his puppet look antiqued. You may need to enlarge it to see what I mean.

Finally, I used a photograph of my Little Floppies and the filter called "rough pastels" to create these images. I love the texture of these in their large format. As smaller images they just look a little blurry, but larger, they really do look like "rough pastels".

There is a lot more to do, and by the end of the class I should have designed a new business card. I hope it will "stick" this time!