Moonphase Creative: Fam Edition

Last week the world sent kids back to school without leaving the house. I say world, but I mean our little house–as well as many other homes around certain districts in our city and surrounding US. It was a huge deal; educators had to scramble to develop some kind of e-learning based strategy while facing the exhausting, scary, stressful pandemic that still grips us all.

 

Family First, Work Second

Putting family first and work second has been really hard for me to do, honestly, and I want to say that sounds awful–but it isn’t. In fact, all of us probably have a hard time shifting our priorities and reframing our world to fit a new normal that isn’t normal at all. I miss quiet mornings after my older three have left, and it feel less restful and more stressful a lot of the time. But I’ve decided to remind myself that if I can successfully put the kids before my own work, there will be more time left for my personal work goals after everyone is on task, regulated.

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Family: this was not even a year ago, but yet it feels like a lifetime when they change so fast.

Learning Strategies

As I shape learning around the online curriculum put forth by the teachers and school district, I try to incorporate learning strategies for myself. I’m as much of a learner in this situation as they are. I’m constantly figuring out how to structure the day so everyone gets the time and attention that they need.

I also see so much of myself in all my kids in the ways they learn, the ways they get frustrated with hard concepts, and the ways they devise coping and learning strategies. If nothing else, that has caused me to have a better sense of empathy and also, I have to laugh at these tiny mirrors of myself all over the house.

 

Language Arts

Since I’m a writer, this is the subject I get most passionate about–but most frustrated with when I see sloppy efforts from the very people that took up real estate in my own body for nine months. At the end of the day, though, we’ve been embracing the journey together and I’m hopeful my middle schooler, especially, will exit this strange period of homeschooling with a better sense of paragraph and essay structure than she had before our homebound time began.

Art Lessons

And since I’m an artist, of course, art lessons are the absolute best part of the day (and please check out the Artful Parent for so many wonderful ideas!!!). So far, we’ve explored paint and composition. We took found objects (rocks, buttons, some destructed dead flowers) and played with the idea of composition on some plain white Bristol paper. It was fun to make moveable art that wasn’t permanent. My five year old asked where the glue was and she seemed genuinely shocked that our art was not, in fact, meant to stay on the paper.

We took pictures, but otherwise it was purely an experiment in tactile joy and an experiential delight. I found it freeing, too, to not have yet another “masterpiece” to store somewhere (or, really, throw away without being found out by the kids).

Other Subjects

We tackle the other subjects with the help of Pinterest, IXL, and the lessons we see in the world on a daily basis. It won’t be easy, but I have found the more I give to them, the more I get back. We can’t pour from an empty cup, but sometimes I am too much of the mindset that I need to work or meet a goal before I have time for lessons or games.

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Excuse the overflowing trash..I did empty that right after the sink or float experiment!

I hope I can remember to be a lifelong learning right next to them. I hope I can set aside my emails and work goals long enough to really enjoy a round of Slap Jack and Go Fish. I hope I can genuinely let go of my To-Do list to completely fall into a lesson in composition and an experiment in science with my kids.

If you’re in the same boat, let us know how it’s going in the comments! I’m letting go and leaning in, and I hope you can, too. Be kind–these days are long while the years are short, and we’re all in this together.

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Family Edition: and a reminder we need to get photos again, as I was pregnant with baby H here!

 

Until next time,

Angi

 

 

 

 

The Artist Mom’s Summer Adventure

Remember when I said the summer insanity was nearly upon us? Well—it’s here! And I have been fighting a ton of anxiety, mom-guilt, and a lot of pressure to 1) get my business better organized and continue the expansion and 2) prepare everything and everyone for our newest addition that will arrive in August.

This past weekend, I tried to explain all these nerves and anxieties to my ever-patient partner. He totally understood; he reminded me that he’s here to take care of the kids, juggle the family taxi and let me have time to work, self-care, and all the other things. By Monday evening, after similar reminders from my dad, who is a wonderful grandparent-support just up the street, I felt a whole lot better about everything. So much better, in fact, I planned to commit and attend the weekly early-morning business networking group that could prove invaluable to my work as a freelance writer. I scheduled out blocks of work-time, and strategized about the dreaded Tuesday when my younger two kiddos have lots of appointments and no daycare. I felt pretty good about the newfound structure and was optimistically secure in my support system.

On Wednesday, my partner has the kids up and out the door well before 8 a.m. because my early meeting begins at 7.45 and their daycare is on his way to work. My eldest, still sleeping and self-sufficient, was enjoying the first real opportunity to sleep in on her summer break on this particular morning. I felt confident about this day—after all, I even called ahead at 6.30 a.m. to the daycare to ensure my four-year-old had the three tee shirts I’d ordered all ready to go for her summer camp uniform. I packed her backpack with a labeled water bottle and sunscreen, her favorite stuffed bunny, and we talked about her class trip to Build A Bear for the day.

I’m the first to admit I’m a hot mess mom, but this day felt pretty okay. I got everyone out the door with kisses, hugs, and neatly tied ponytails (except Ben, he can take care of his own hair). Less than an hour later, though, about 10 minutes prior to my meeting’s scheduled beginning, I got a rather stern phone call from her school.

“You will have to come get P,” the employee said. “She has a field trip today and she is totally unprepared, and it would be unacceptable for her to attend the field trip today.”

“Hmmm, okay, I’m sorry what is she missing.”

“She doesn’t have a shirt—”

“I called at 6.30 a.m. to ask if the 3 shirts we ordered several weeks ago were available, and I was told the shirts are there—we hadn’t been given them to take home in the weeks since I placed the order.”

“She doesn’t have sunscreen, a backpack, or a water bottle—”

“I labeled her sunscreen and water bottle and put them in her backpack—which should also have her name on it. I am really sorry, what else does she need today?”

“A hat, she doesn’t have a hat. You have about two hours to get a hat to her or she absolutely can’t go.”

Of course, I skipped my meeting—because either way I was going to have to miss the meeting, and at least if I ducked out and brought the hat to her, I could still get writing and illustration work accomplished. But I admit, I was fuming. All this worry about juggling kids and childcare, and wondering if a thousand dollars per child–per month– could be justified for childcare costs… in that moment, as I forfeited a profitable and important business opportunity so I could get my kid’s hat to her, the thousand dollars did not seem like a well-spent investment.

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My family. We are usually going lots of different ways. Photo by Jackie & Ryan Photography, Colorado Springs!!

 

I can’t imagine too many parents would want to be called out of a meeting and lose opportunities over a hat. Sure, it is one incident, and normally if the kids have an appointment or need me, I’m there and can be there quickly because being self-employed is typically one of the most flexible jobs ever. Had my daughter been actually totally unprepared, even, I could see the school’s point and would feel less annoyed and flustered by being asked to cancel my work and deliver a hat.

It did help me re-evaluate what I’m doing and where I am with my kids this summer. My heart is with them. Often, my days are spent coordinating and shuttling to and from appointments for one of the three, and so my work suffers despite 2/3 of our children being stuck in a classroom. The evening is dedicated to them, and after they sleep I’m too busy cleaning and preparing for the next day to do much work. And weekends, too, seem the worst place for work, because they’ve been in school and daycare all week and now I want to spend time with my family.

Yesterday, though, that “dreaded” day of appointments? We survived it, and we thrived it. Work-life balance is hard to come by, but yesterday seemed great for the most part. We accomplished all our appointments and squeezed in a special milkshake treat and a trip to the park. We got home just as some rain set in, and everyone watched a movie with popcorn while I retreated to my studio to work on painting and a few small business details. It was, in all aspects, more productive than most days—AND I spent more quality time with my kids than usual, too. In fact, I didn’t want today to start so rushed and send everyone off to summer camps and pre-school. I knew my 4-year-old was pretty excited for Build A Bear, and that I had plenty of work to get to– but also I wondered what kind of adventures would I have if we didn’t have to commit to the scheduled grind.

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Accomplished while the kids survived popcorn and a movie in a separate room.

When the morning rolled out as it did, I felt all sorts of things bubble up. The feminist in me started ranting about mom-shaming; after all, just that morning as Ben asked me about new classrooms and where to bring her summer camp backpack, and he joked it was good to be a man, because everyone is helpful and no one thinks anything of it when you don’t know what’s going on at your kids’ school.

The mom in me felt guilty.

The self-employed freelancer felt stressed and worried about work missed.

I decided this is, perhaps, the last summer we have before my eldest is “too cool” to be part of the adventure. It is our last summer before my second-born starts school. It is a summer of a lot of change, and I couldn’t imagine three people I would rather spend it with than my kids.

Will it be easy? No. But it wasn’t easy before, either.

 

We start the adventure July 1st, stay tuned!

 

Happy summer,

 

Angi

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer Situation: When Summer isn’t Easy to Navigate

Spring has sprung. We are planting our gardens and planning graduations, coping with—I mean celebrating—Mother’s Day, and preparing for Summer. Everyone talks about the pressures and stressors of the winter holiday season, but no one talks about the crazy time that Spring—especially the month of May—can be.

Gearing up to embrace spring & summer with my creative output!

I, for one, have felt overwhelmed as I plan and organize the summer childcare, the kids’ camps and sports and activities while accounting for transportation, budget, and daily schedules while trying to simultaneously work and be pregnant. I know a lot of others who are feeling the crunch; the ones I have heard from are fellow mamas, or teachers, or caregivers who are feeling the distinct pull to spring-clean and spruce up while also maintaining the daily, PLUS prepare for the drastic shift into summer, where our work is expected to continue but our children are suddenly on break and require care, activities, different schedules and transportation.

We love the chaos of family! But also. It is chaos.

Marketing, to some degree, addresses the reality of the busy, hectic nature that the Holiday Hustle entails during the winter months. We feel the pressure to put on our holiday sparkle and deliver a smashing performance while coordinating choir performances and winter sports with holiday gatherings and thoughtful gift giving. But we are also reminded that people are human and that this is a stressful time that requires some introspection and self-care.

What feels less marketable and less discussed, though, is the crushing reality of Spring moving into Summer. It feels like an invisible undercurrent that has a lot of people struggling to stay afloat. I want to discuss that a tiny bit, as I have been doing some work to re-launch my creative business while also trying to account for the extra challenges and changes that come with the impending days of Summer.

When Summer hits, how do we find time to keep up the process?!

As my business gains momentum, I find it largely relies on a routine that involves the kids getting off to school, and I see such satisfying rhythm in the routine. Now I’m faced with the reality of May 24th, when my almost-middle-schooler will be home 24/7. I have some outside support, and my kiddo can run a bit free-range—but it is still a new challenge. And that got me thinking about families who have three or four kids to account for (just like we will, once our youngest babes are in public school rather than daycare).

How do we adjust and adapt to the summer days when we are trying to work? What about that unique blessing+challenge that happens when working from home? In order to explore this topic more and share with you what strategies and solutions I might find, I’m dedicating the Monday Blog Post to this Summer Situation. I want to adventure with my kiddos and attend all the soccer, T-Ball, and swim lessons and zoo trips I can! But I also want to find that sweet spot of balancing work and clients and creative output.

Feel free to message or comment with your own thoughts about the Summer Situation, or let me know what your survival strategies are. Everyone has a unique challenge; maybe it isn’t kids for you—it could be providing care for an elderly parent or relative, or dealing with other family/life/career transitions. It seems, though, we give a lot of thought to New Year’s Resolutions, the darkness of winter, and the perils and practices of coping with the winter months; but we don’t talk about the cycles that follow as much. We want to keep Spring Cleaning tidy; the fact is, it isn’t always a neat endeavor.

I’ll keep you posted on the honest truth of the Summer Situation on Mondays. Ideas for budgeting time and managing transportation, working at home while kids are at home, and handling the daily. If it isn’t helpful or useful, maybe—at least—it will be a bit humorous.

From my busy home to yours,

Angi

Slowing Down for the Better

The first week of January is almost up, and it is hard to believe 2019 is actually here.

If any of you follow me on my Facebook page, you’ll know I announced an official pause on accepting new clients and am slowing down my work-train a bit. We’ve had an eventful few months, and unfortunately it isn’t all good news (but also, there is good news).

In early December I was in a pretty bad car wreck, in which my new 2019 minivan was totaled. The injuries I sustained compounded an existing condition I have with spinal stenosis and degenerative discs. I’ve tried to remain positive and sludge through all of it, but honestly—my body and my spirit have taken a minute to recover here.

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I decided to be kind to myself and focus on my current successes: my growing body of art and building my portfolio; preparing for the semester ahead and learning new stuff; and focusing on the blessing of my current clients that I happily work for monthly.

I am excited to build my business and do more, be more, make more…

but what does that mean? Where does that leave me, personally, as far as balanced and rested?

I am grateful for what I have. I want to find my strength and balance with the blessings already in my basket. Why add more if it isn’t sustainable?

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What I’m focusing on these days.

This way, when I put out a call for new clients, I’ll be doubly sure I’m able to provide quality writing services, quality art instruction, and top-notch illustration freelance.

I’m grateful for a manageable workload in which I feel I can offer quality freelance to other small businesses, while taking classes and being a mom.

We hear so much about leaning in, crushing goals, taking on the maximum to make the maximum. But after the car crash and all the things this holiday season brought, I think I realized there is value and potential in perfecting the smaller goals before greedily piling on more, more, more to a list you can’t see the end of.

Moonphase in Holiday Mode

Priorities around the holidays feel like a game of Jenga—one wrong move and my whole tower of time management and work-life-balance threatens to topple. I have a feeling I am not the only one feeling the holiday crunch.

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For me, my creative process is part of my self-care, and I find myself wanting to escape to the studio to find my inner-peace and let my creative energies heal and generate happy. It’s always my hope that my pieces will inspire a sense of happy and calm for others, too, which has been an integral part of my philosophy as I solidify my style and approach to art sales.

There was a time when I worried that what I like to paint and draw wasn’t “edgy” enough or didn’t make some kind of “big statement.” The older I get, the more I don’t care, and the more I want to embrace my inner-child and simply paint my way to happiness and content.

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As I build my illustration portfolio and work for an output of art pieces that are aesthetically pleasing, I find the questions I ask myself are less, “will people buy this?” and more like, “does this make me happy?” or “does this do something to inspire someone?”

There is a lot of thought that goes into any piece, but now it’s more about making a statement of happy rather than a statement of an artist’s assertion. The more I let go and let it be, the happier I am—and the more my painting and art skills grow.

I’m applying the same approach around the house and with my kids. I’m letting simplicity rule the roost. With every exclamation of, “I want THAT,” when they see the new toys and fancy marketing gimmicks aimed to make them want more, I breathe in my peace and remind them of what beauty lies all around us.

Wanting more is what we are trained to do, and that isn’t always bad. It’s something I’ve wrestled with as I build my art sales, even; how can I expect people to buy my art when I myself avoid frivolous purchases that ultimately create clutter rather than a peaceful space?

My conclusion is more is fine if it is adding to our happy. I make mindful purchases, just like I make mindful art. I paint what I believe in, and I purchase what I believe in. My kids won’t be getting lots of cheap plastic toys, just like I won’t be filling my cart with cute but cheaply made ornaments and knick knacks. Instead, I’m filling our home with quality toys, quality pieces of art and décor that inspire the core of my heart-and-home attitude.

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It’s all about simplifying life and focusing on the art of being content—in life and in studio practice—and so far it is working!

5 Artists Inspiring Moonphase RIGHT NOW

I’ve been super busy building my skillset and planning some stuff around Moonphase Creative headquarters—and with holidays fast approaching, I thought, why not add one more thing to my pile of crazy.

Because that “one more thing” excites me, and that is: connecting with you.

I want to make it a habit now, before Christmas dinners and Fall potlucks steal me away entirely. I love family and friends, but—and we’ve all heard it, rarely honor it—we need to take time for self-care. My number one passion in self-care is largely browsing Instagram and being inspired by some amazing artists.

As I make a Holiday Pact to connect more, both on and off the social media screen, I wanted to share with you what drives me to be passionately rooted in a personal creative practice. The following five artists are just a few of many who inspire my own personal and creative practice. I’m linking them all so you can explore what I mean!

 

  1. Willowing aka Tam

 

Whimsical, bright colors are a staple in this artist’s work. She has life mission that she describes on her website as being “to help make this world a better place.” I found Willowing on Instagram, and now I even own one of her printed books! Her style focuses on self-expression with lots of color and layers, with a mixed-media approach that is meant to go beyond the purely visual and speak as a sort of creative therapy and journaling experience.

 

As I struggled to find my place in the world of creative living, this Willowing was definitely a voice I tuned in to help hear my own inner-voice calling to me. My work is decidedly different, and for now my creative path has me less in the classroom and more in the studio—but certainly, the way I envision art as a healing tool, and the creative process part of a journey bigger than ourselves, is something I find echoed in the work of Tam.

 

Her work is widely celebrated, and she offers classes, workshops, and (as I mentioned) her Life Book is an amazing thing to keep around for your creative perusal and delving into the creative side of self-help.

 

 

  1. Terri Foss

 

I’m not sure when or how I found Terri Foss on Instagram, but I’m so happy I did. Her work is ethereal and mysterious, and she seems to tap from such a place of soul-sweet authenticity, it’s always a treat to soak in her wonderful images.

I had to include her here, if nothing else because it is the time of year when we are particularly tuning in to the spiritual and celebrating pumpkins, witches, and the harvest magic—all of which Foss delivers with a particular finesse and artistic skill.

I think her artistic voice particularly inspired me to create for the sake of creating, experimenting for the sake of creating, and not feeling I had to figure out “what sells” when it came to subject matter. Her ample reserves of followers is definite proof that doing what you love best can garner success and visibility. That authenticity she possesses translates into her work with passion and soul, which is ultimately what any artist can hope for.

 

  1. Simone Grunewald aka Schmoedraws

 

As a mom, I sometimes feel like it’s hard to get out the paint, or ink, or clay—because Little People. My little people want to help, they want to play, they want to… spill stuff.

I love @schmoedraws because her Instagram feed of personal art is like a hilarious comic of life with a little person. She has great energy and amazing storytelling in her Instagram, which never fails to ring true to me on some personal level.

I’ve learned so much from her posts and helpful tidbits. Moms are artists, too, and even though her day job is doing other stuff, I love that she is finding the time and energy to capture the daily joys of parenthood for the pleasure of social media.

 

  1. Lois van Baarle aka Loish

 

Known as Loish, Lois van Baarle is basically all things #goals for so many artists. Her work is total eye-candy, with masterful use of color and a really strong sense of composition, storytelling, and character design. A freelance illustrator and animator, she take the age-old craft to a new level with her mix of classical control and digital art pioneering.

I’m not much of a digital artist and generally prefer fine art, but one of the things I love about her work, is the way she uses digital as a tool, not a crutch. That is to say, I feel like looking at her sketches and drawings are like looking into the sketchbooks of artists in history. There is a fine looping and scrawling of gestural lines, an exquisite capturing of energy and movement that I feel is usually best caught in traditional media. However, when she renders digitally, she manages to keep the traditional 2d feel often times, and enhances her painting with digital effects, lighting, and other tools in a way that doesn’t compromise the soulful nature of her subjects.

 

  1. Laia Lopez

 

I think I found @itslopez from following Loish, whom I discussed above. Her new book Gleaming is coming out soon, and although I don’t even speak Spanish (just enough to embarrass myself, really), I probably need to reserve a copy. I love her adorable character and animated style.

Spain-based illustrator, Laia Lopez, creates adorable characters full of emotion that really fits well with the tween/teen demographic that her work largely caters to. I feel like her personal love of art is so fresh and apparent in her work, her catalog of characters could inspire me for days.

I chose artists that are largely diverse in their style, application, and purpose in art. It’s so important to fill our pages with experiments and new things; it’s just as important to look beyond the familiar and seek out all types of inspiration.

I would love to know—who or what is inspiring you along your own creative journey?

Moonphase Is Growing!

New Business Cards from the wonderful Moo.

Art+ Writing classes are growing and evolving and I feel so inspired by the work I see happening among my students. The classes serve as so much more than a lesson in writing and art (although there are those benefits too!), but a personal journey of self-expression and catharsis.

I am looking to expand my teaching venues and have been collaborating with some amazing folks to find ways to make Art + Writing workshops available to a broader spectrum of our Colorado Springs community. It makes my heart full to know my work can serve as a vessel of personal transformation, and I am honored to be meeting people who can help facilitate the message and work my heart and soul have been quietly piecing together in the past year.

So please stay tuned for more good things, and always feel free to message me to open a dialogue about how Art + Writing could be a good fit for you or someone you know!

 

Moonphase Updates

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This is me. I’m excited.

I am excited to share updates and information about both my sales AND classes I will be teaching. I’ve updated my Etsy shop, and would love to ship some art to a good home. A lot of my art has been not only a joy to create, but a joy to share, and the process itself has inspired the classes I will be teaching in March & April.

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Art for sale in my Etsy: http://etsy.com/shop/moonphasecreative

In addition to creating these darling little paintings that can sit on a desk or mantle, or find their way into gift bags and gift boxes, I’ve created the framework for some classes that I am REALLY excited to share with you.

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This is an example of what we will do in the 2 hour workshops that happen on Saturdays at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.

I want to inspire people to creatively take the helm of their daily lives. How can we use art and writing to delve deeper into our personal growth? How can we use words and art to be unique in our self-expression?

 

I’ve also been exploring some fine art projects/hibernating writing projects; it has been wonderfully busy around Moonphase Creative, and I’m very excited to keep sharing the developments on several projects I’m taking on.

Please email me or find me on social media if you’d like more information on the Art + Writing Class Series or the Illustrator’s Alley series that will start in March at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.

Let it Go

As the year winds down, and our lives slip into a colder state of being, I find it is the perfect time to focus on introspection. This is largely why I’ve chosen to focus on aspects of Moonphase that give me joy, and bring the buzz of energetic passion. I want to grow my business from the root of joy—rather than the root of “everything that I can possibly do but don’t have time for.”

The other day, my kids made getting out the door difficult. I mean—really difficult. Like the average one hour ordeal turned to three hours after my three-year-old unzipped my gym bag, dug out my shower bag, unzipped my shower bag and the interior pouches, pulled out some face soap, and slathered her little legs with face soap.

She used enough soap, I think, to wash the faces of every single Miss America contestant post-production. Before the soap incident, I was trying desperately to get everyone out the door—and it was not working. In fact, the more I admonished, pointed, prodded, pleaded, begged, explained…. the more they dilly dallied, dawdled, diddled, and didn’t.

After the soap, though, I thought. Why rush? What will fall apart now that we are three hours late anyway? I mean, really, the time to rush had long since past. Being timely was clearly not going to happen; so why keep rushing and pushing when it made everyone—especially me—so stressed out?

I had a sweet and funny conversation with the three-year-old about soap and skin and mama being so careless in leaving the gym bag out. And we talked about her favorite movie, Frozen. We left the house, without tears, and… my day got a lot worse. But that is neither here nor there, because I had a wonderfully useful revelation:

If it does not serve you, LET IT GO.

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The work I love.

That’s what I plan to do as we spiral forward into a new season, a new year, a new cycle. I plan to let go of all those endeavors and expectations that did not serve me. Because of this, I hope to have time to share a bit more regularly on my blog, and offer some useful classes that tap into what I love most about being an artist and writer. I also plan to expand and update my line of little whimsies, while honing my focus to better suit the art that makes me joy-filled.

 

What have you decided to let go to better live your life? What have you been hanging on to that may not serve you? Feel free to send a message or discuss in the comments!

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Thanks for stopping by Moonphase Creative!