Friday, August 29, 2008

Everyone Can Write A Children's Book

It's two for one shortie posts today!!!

This is a link to one of my favorite web comics (I don't really know what you call these) StrongBad.

I actually found this link on the Editorial Anonymous blog that I visit to get an editor's point of view.

She had been getting a whole lot of emails promoting crappily made self-published books and this Strongbad webisode really hit the mark.

It's pretty funny.  Enjoy.

Chicken Joke

Magoo has begun to tell jokes.  Most of the time they are more like amusing stories that include a chicken, some Tranformers, and an explosion.  But yesterday he told one that actually had a more traditional form.

Magoo:  Why did the chicken cross the road?

Me: Why?

Magoo:  Because he saw his dad.  Then he exploded.


Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kid City, Here We Come!

Kid City is a children's Museum in Middletown, CT.  We've been before, a few times, but not recently.  Kid City is the home to one of the biggest mother-of-a-meltdowns Magoo had when he was like three.  I'll never forget it.  It was so. freakin'. embarrassing. 

 Anyway - we're pretty much beyond those big tantrums now so all is fun and right with the world.

The new exhibit is the fishery.  I don't know who came up with this idea, but they are brilliant! See, in the middle there's this big barrel of fish, right.  

All over the room there are conveyor belts that you put the fish on and they lead them to the big shoot that drops them back down into the barrel.

There's also a magnetized one that drops into another barrel.  And an igloo where you can take the fish into and someone on the platform above you can hoist them up.

These shots were taken early when we were the only ones in there.  About an hour later, this place was buzzing.  Kids were busy at every station, collecting fish, loading fish, working together.  It was pretty cool.  I just tried to stay out of the way.  But I stay close because I'm always on jerk alert - to see which jerk of a kid is going to shove my precious baby out of the way.  But no, all the kids were cool and sharing and working together really, really well.  

There was also a new dinosaur room.  Very fun. 

Magoo probably would have stayed longer if there was another dino-lovin' boy to play with.  When I'm there I just couple all the big Momma dinos with their babies.  I'm such a girl.

Then there was a room that looked sorta like a drugged out Roswell to me.  There was definitely an Americana flavor, but there were also aliens and space ships.  Whatever.  It was fun.

There was a cave you could go in - totally dark.  One room had a huge kaleidoscope to turn and view and the other was this mirrored room.  It's not so dark since I used my flash - but it was pretty funky.

I look a liiiiittle too excited, don't I?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Last Days of Summer

I think this is going to be a good week.  We are gearing up for Kindergarten.  Every day Magoo asks, "Do I have Kindergarten today?"  He's so eager.  The weather has been beautiful and the kids are around.  People are back from vacation, back from camp.  It's been really nice.

The other day we were stuck around the house due to the chimney guy coming.  But it was good.  Magoo decided he wanted to wear his Spiderman costume and then, when he went to battle his friends, he decided he needed some armor on top of that!  It's quite a look.

Later in the afternoon, I pulled out a big bin of blocks.  Boys and blocks - a winning combination.

Magoo tried out a homemade roller skate.

But then they got down to the business of making towers.
I hope everyone else is having some nice relaxing summer fun.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Shrinky Dink Fun

I pulled out the Shrinky Dinks yesterday.  Shrinky Dinks are a great thing to do because they are relatively clean and Magoo and I both enjoy them.  For my part - I wanted to find out if they would take to watercolor.  A little experiment, if you will.

I'm happy to say that they did.  I started out with a couple of goldfish - drawn in with a Sharpie and then painted.  I originally thought I might make them into earrings - but they are a little big.

Then I painted a sheet with blues and greens and cut them into buttons.  They turned out pretty well.

Then I had another idea.  A hanging mosaic.

This is small - about the size of an index card.  It turned out pretty well but I think I put the paint on too heavy.  I forgot that colors get darker and more intense when they shrink.  I would have preferred lighter colors to let the light shine through more.  But for a first attempt, it's not bad.

Here's a shot against white paper.

I used a broken kebob skewer for the top and tied the pieces with gold wire. 

Friday, August 22, 2008

One, Two, Embroidery

A friend of mine just had a baby.  I generally like to hand make my baby gifts, but I was kind of short on time and the big trip was coming up so I went to a fun organic type baby store in town. An organic cotton onesie was $18.  EIGHTEEN DOLLARS FOR A ONESIE!  I don't think so.  

Then I had an idea to make an embroidered numbers book.  It's soft.  It's cute.  And I can do it in the car on the long drive.  Perfect!

It actually worked out really well.  I could take my time and I had my little bucket of floss.  Here are some pages from the final book.

One and two:

Five and six:
A detail of the five flowers.  I used buttons for the centers and sewed those puppies on good and strong.  I really like the way this one turned out.
Nine and ten:  (nine fish, ten freckles)
I sewed felt in between the fabric so it's a nice, hefty, soft book.  I hope little baby likes it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Tale of Two Gardens

My step-mother, Pam, is a very good gardener.  She loves it and it shows.  Her back yard is truly lovely with all the plants and colors - blooming, thriving.  Maybe I'm extra impressed because it's a skill I don't naturally posess.

Here are some shots from her garden.

Her pear tree - no partridge.
We caught a dragonfly hanging out by the birdbath.
And a long shot of the garden by the fence.
Now, in contrast, I present my newly planted hosta garden.
I can't tell you how proud I am of my little corner.  Our backyard is very shady and it's really hard to grow anything back there - even grass is a challenge.  But these hostas seem to like it well enough.  I lined the garden with rocks from the beach in Niantic.

If anyone knows of good shade plants, please let me know.  I want to continue the garden next year.  It won't look like Pam's - but little by little I hope to improve.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cicada Parade

When we were staying at my dad's house, Mike was the first one to notice how loud the cicadas were.  

Sure enough, there was a tree outside that was covered in shells.  (I imagine there were plenty of live ones around too.)  We even saw one half way out.  Those things are ugly!

But I love the shells and so did Magoo.

Here's one hanging off the tree.

He collected a bunch of them and we lined them up on the fence.  Why?  Why not!  But they're so delicate that only a slight breeze blows them away - so I'm pretty sure they're not still in order.

Anyway - we had some fun with them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oh, How They Danced ...

Vacation III - Maumee River

When we were visiting my dad and step-mom, they took us out to a place on the Maumee River where the waters were so low you could walk out on the limestone river bed.  It was really cool.

(That's Mike and Magoo waaaaay out in the upper, right corner up there.)

Lots of fun places to walk and to jump over puddles and, of course, chuckin' big pieces of limestone in the river is always big fun.

Seriously, though, this stuff was gorgeous.  If we lived close by, we could have loaded up with lovely chunks of limestone for stepping stones and garden accessories.  There were piles of it!

Oh, and we found some fish and crayfish skeletons too.

And Stonehenge!  It was the mini-version, like in Spinal Tap, but we found it!  We didn't build it.  And I did feel some mystical vibrations going through my body - creepy.

Of course, Magoo got a little dirty - so it was time for a little jacuzzi bath when we got back to the homestead.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Awesome Day at the Zoo

Vacation Part II:  The Toledo Zoo

You know those hot August days when you go to the zoo and all the animals are either hiding out in the shade of their caves or just laying there - motionless.

Well - that totally wasn't the day we had.  The weather was perfect for animal frolic and we saw a great show!!!

For one thing, the tiger was taking a stroll right up to the fence.  First, I'm thinking 'Wow - that cat is beautiful!'  Then I'm thinking, 'Wow, that beautiful cat would totally eat me if it could.' Then I'm thinking, 'The only think keeping that beautiful cat from eating me is some WIRE!!!' 

We spent a good part of the time at the playground, watching Magoo run around because really, that's what he does best.  I tried to get him a snack in the cafe'.  HA HA HA!  In the whole cafe, the only thing he could eat were the fries.  And honestly, if I'd really looked at the packaging on the oil, he probably shouldn't have eaten it.  But I trusted the lady when she said they used soy oil and the child needed a snack.  So I went for it - and he was fine.

For as beautiful as that tiger was - this fish was UGLY!  But I loved it.  It has personality.

And then we visited the butterfly house.  Thanks to my mom for treating us to the zoo and to the extra expense of the butterfly house.  (I was pretty ticked off you had to pay extra - but Magoo wanted to go in.)  

Lots of pretty, pretty butterflies.  Poor Magoo though - the zoo keeper gave us a speech about how some of the butterflies were endangered and Magoo thought he meant they were dangerous.  He was awfully twitchy when we went in and then when they'd swoop by he'd say, "They're dangerous!"  He was probably thinking, "If they're so dangerous, why the heck are we going in here?"
A couple explanations later and he was fine.

Check out this cool one.  I'm an owl!  Hoo-hoo!
But the best part, was the polar bear exhibit.  This guy was frisky!  

(It's Magoo who says, "Come to me.")

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trampoline and Red Butt

Vacation: Part I      Michigan

We just got back from our drive out to Michigan and Ohio.  I had hoped to post while out there, but it just didn't happen.  Sorry.

First stop was Michigan to visit with my hubby's father and step-mother.  They have a lovely backyard and a neighbor with a trampoline.  A trampoline - in and of itself - is awesome.  But this trampoline has been installed at ground level - which makes it extra awesome!

Magoo loves to bounce.  
And so do I!  

There's also a nice pond right in back.  We went on a lovely paddle boat ride with Grampy and Mike showed Magoo how to make leaf boats - so that took up a lot time.  We even stalked a poor toad trying desperately to hide.

We're not gonna hurt ya, Mr. Toad.

And there were lily pads.  Lots and lots of lovely lily pads.

I like my camera, but it's just a point and click.  Nothing fancy.  Certainly not an awesome zoom.  And OH how I wanted to zoom!  At the little park a couple houses down, there were a few boats that you could use.  My plan was to make one into a dock, of sorts.  I wasn't going to fully launch myself - I just wanted to get a little closer to the lily pads to get a good shot.

I stepped in and BLAMO!  I slipped all over the red slime that was in the bottom.  The result - red tush.
Charming.  But what amounts to humiliation for me always equals good blogging!  :)  Enjoy!

Here's one of the lily pad pics.  The mud washed out of the pants and I was only mildly bruised - so I guess it was worth it!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Week Unplugged

I'm taking the week off. I'll be back next Monday. Have a great week.

Friday, August 8, 2008

That's A Wrap

Yesterday, at breakfast, Magoo drew a camel.  I was pretty impressed because he usually works in a more abstract form and could very well answer, "It's a scribble."  when asked what something was.  But sure enough - there were humps, there were legs, there was a head.  Camel.

Then I had an idea.  I needed wrapping paper for some teacher gifts.  So I scanned the camel.  Magoo was pretty excited to see his artwork on the computer, so I asked him if he wanted to do more.  "Yes!"  he said and then he drew a lion.
I'm sorry - but isn't this an awesome lion!!!  The only thing I suggested was that he add a tail.  Otherwise he did the whole thing by himself without a single clue from me.  (Except I told him what letters to write.)  He followed that up with an elephant - but the lion is really the most kick-butt of the three.

So I scanned those in and placed them all on some paper and let Magoo do some color fill ins on Photoshop.  (Kid's getting pretty good at Photoshop!)  And here's how they turned out.

This is my new favorite wrapping paper!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Underwear Drum Solo

These drums were a side-of-the-road "donation."  Magoo and I were driving along and there they were - along with some other things.  I thought, 'Hey - free drums!  That's a good way to find out if he's interested.'

I asked him if he wanted them and he said yes.  So I pulled over, gave them a thump and they sounded good.

When I got home I realized why these were on the side of the road - they didn't hold together very well.  Teh bard that held the smaller drums on were wonky.  But what fixes everything?  Duct tape!  So I duct taped these babies up so they're good and white trashy.  (I even used an old vitamin bottle to keep on in proper position.) And to complete the look, Magoo played them in his underwear in our basement.

Rock - n - roll!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hello - Goodbye

Hooray - D's back from vacation!  And Magoo is so happy he could spit!  It was a pleasant surprise to see that D was back from his month in Switzerland.  (I wasn't expecting him so soon.)

Magoo wanted to play with him right away - but they had to go eat lunch and we had to take the car in for an oil change - so it was a big HIGH and a big LOW right away for my little guy.  But we caught up with them later and it was smiles and happiness.

Then our other neighbor, T, joined us.

Water guns - the universal language.

And it was great to spend some time with T and his sister K since this was their last day with us.  Last night they headed out, moving to New Orleans.

For a while - the kids were all playing in our back yard.  None of the parents wanted to pull them away, wanting them to squeeze as much fun as they possible could together.

Then Mike, Magoo and I walked over to T & K's house as they were loading up in the car so Magoo could say his final good-byes.  I never know exactly how much he understands of these bigger moments.  But he understood that they were moving away - I could see it in his face.  He was trying so hard to maintain a smile - but the edges were cracking slightly.

So D - we're happy you're back!

K & T - good luck in New Orleans!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Have Fun Stormin' the Castle!

Some boxes get reused.  Some get recycled.  And some just cry out, "Make me into a castle!" That's what this one did.

I've been working on this one on and off for about 2 weeks.  Sometimes Magoo helps.  Sometimes not.  As I was making this I wondered if I was doing it more for me or him?  
Hard to say.  But I tried to put my boy hat on and think fun - as opposed to functional.

I made simple knights by painting faces and shields on green and yellow blocks.

The canon "shoots" marbles.  Bombs away!

This is the penthouse dungeon.  There's a trap door on the roof that leads into it.  And it's difficult to see - but there are orange "bars" on the door.

Now you can see how Magoo is helping me paint. I did the main color and he did the accents.

The red room serves no real purpose apart from leading to the slide.  All good castles have slides, you know!

(I added a rug - I'm such a girl!)

And here's the main hall where the slide ends up.  My big design flaw is that the slide interferes with the entrance through the main door - oops.  But there aren't any horses so I guess it will be alright. 
I hung some tapestries - girly - but it's a castle!  Castles have tapestries!  They just do.

So, that's the castle.  Now we have to see if it will be played with.  But even if it's not, it was fun to make.