Friday, September 16, 2011

Growing Up Me

I guess I'll start at the beginning. Best place to start, right? Whenever I'd ask Cameron for ideas for what I should write (I meant fiction), he'd always say, "Write about your family." So this is a first attempt, writing about my life and family growing up.

I think I grew up in a unique home. I've met other people who grew up in a very large family. But I think it's still a little unique. I guess you can decide for yourself. :)

I was born in the summer of 1975. My parents were living with my mom's parents in Amarillo, Texas at the time. My dad was still finishing his degree at BYU. But they were at my mom's home, I think so that my dad could work.

Anyway, I was born 2 months early. My mom still talks about how surprised they were and how they didn't have a name picked out. But I'm an impatient person. So I'm pretty sure I decided that 7 months was plenty of time to gestate and decided it was time for me to make my appearance. Luckily I didn't have any health problems. I only spent a week or two in the hospital so they could make sure my lungs were working well.

I was tiny though. Only 4 lbs 8 oz. I think my grandma has a picture of me in a shoebox to show how tiny I was. They never found out why I came so early. My mom had 9 other children without any issues, one even 3 weeks late. Like I said, I'm pretty sure I just got tired of waiting. :) My dad called me the million dollar baby because I cost so much. It wasn't really that much, but to college students, a few thousand seemed like a million at the time.

I had one older sibling. My sister, Juliene, was 13 months older than I was. We were alot like fraternal twins that were born separately. When we were little, we both had white-blond hair. I was slightly taller, so we were about the same height. And my mom always cut our hair the same and we usually had similar outfits. People thought we were identical twins all the time. We're not identical, but lots of people don't actually look. They see the same hair and the same clothes and decide you're identical. I liked being my sister's twin when I was young. But when you're in high school and people can't tell you apart, it gets a little old.

We all moved back to Provo, Utah after I was born, so that my dad could finish his Master's degree in art. One of his professors told my uncle years later that he still remembered my dad. He remembered how talented he was and how my dad only wanted to paint. Most students planned on teaching to make a living. But my dad had no desire to teach. He was just going to be an artist.

My brother Brandt, named after Rembrandt, was born a year and a half after I was. Can you see a pattern developing? My parents had 10 children. The longest gap between kids was 3 years. So this was a normal thing in our house. Relatives would say to my mom, "Every time I see you, you're either pregnant or have a baby with you." It was true. My mom loved babies and had easy pregnancies. So there were lots of kids in our house. :)

After my dad graduated, we moved back to Amarillo so my mom could live near her mom. This was a very good idea, since we were very poor and my grandma could help with the finances and the kids. My dad's first job was in a tiny museum in Panhandle, Texas. He painted the backdrops for the museum displays and I think he painted a portrait of someone also. Judging by their website, things haven't changed much since I was last there in high school. So probably his backdrops are still being used. The rest of the time and when that job was over, my dad just painted and tried to sell his art. Problem was, no one knew him and he wasn't a good salesman. Still isn't. But he's better at it now than he was then.

My dad was painfully shy all growing up and into his adult years. When someone set my parents up on a blind date, he hardly spoke to my mom. She obviously was the right woman if after sitting beside him while he was silent for an hour or two, she still wanted to go out with him again. She wanted to make sure he knew she liked him, so she took him cookies later that week. My dad didn't know any other girls, so when he needed a date for an event soon after, he called her. And that's how they started dating.

My dad went on a semester abroad to Spain not long after this and wrote my mom while he was gone. That's how she got to know him, because he barely talked. They got engaged when he got back to BYU. They were both on the lawn reading. My dad stopped reading long enough to ask my mom if she wanted to get married. She said yes, and they both went back to reading. They had their first kiss at their wedding.

But they had no problem having children! Neil was born a year and a half after Brandt and Caleb was born two years after that, and so forth. My mom was very good at running the household and getting by on nothing. She would borrow money from her parents or one of her brothers until my dad sold a painting in a few months. My dad did some odd jobs for extra money here and there. But mostly he would ride his bike to his studio and paint all day. He started teaching night art classes at Amarillo College after a while. It was a good thing, because the art alone wasn't enough.

When I was nine and Juliene was 10, my dad finally got a real job. It was kind of against his will. He didn't want to teach and didn't like teaching. But finally realized he had to. So we all moved to Borger, TX, an hour away, so that he could teach at the college there. My parents had 7 children at this point. My dad has been an art professor ever since. First for 9 years in Borger and now in Barnesville, GA where he's been for 18 years.

He's a very talented artist. He's a realist. He has the ability to nearly photographically reproduce pictures or stilllifes. He's a very capable portrait artist, but he isn't good at flattering his subjects. He tends to paint them or draw them like he would any other object. People usually prefer to have their portraits flatter them. His landscapes are phenomenal! He likes to do gigantic landscapes, say 6-8 ft x 4-6 ft. They're his favorite. They take forever though. :) But his art sells well now.

His art is at or or

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