Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lady Bags

April was the month for bags.  Well, I made two.

My friend Heather had a birthday and she wanted a version of the mini tote I made myself last year.
I didn't want to make red again - I hate repeating myself - so I went with a bright, summery yellow.  I saw an embroidered umbrella on PurlBee which I liked a lot - so I used that for the front design.  Here's a detail shot:

I think it turned out nice.  But a strap has already broke so I need to repair it.  I'll have to double stitch those straps in next time.

Then Magoo was invited to a little lady friend's birthday party.  Her name is Vivian and she is super sweet so I wanted to make something special for her.

So I made this bag, lined it to hide the threads, and then filled it with art supplies.  I think it's safe to say I won't put this much effort into every birthday gift he gives - but this bag sure was fun to make.  I hope she liked it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bathtub Fountain

When I walked into the bathroom yesterday evening to check on Magoo in the tub, the lighting was perfect for pictures.
It's easy to get him to pose if he's doing something he likes.  I must have taken eight spit shots.  (Don't worry West Hartford residents - this was AFTER the boiling precautions were lifted.)

And then I got a shot of him right after he spit a little at me.  He looks so devilish!

In other news:

I am reseeding my back lawn.

The roofers are coming tomorrow to give us a new roof.

Penguin has ordered a second printing of Wink!  (Yeah)  I'm told that the sales numbers are very good for a debut picture book.  Thanks to everyone who picked up a copy.

I'm preparing for a Kindergarten presentation on Friday.

And I'm busy working on storyboards for a second Wink book - fingers crossed.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Crazy Hot

It's April.  A-Pril.  Not June.  Not July.  So why was I busting out the swim trunks?  Because it was freakin' hot.

It was so hot that my friend Heather and I took four boys to the playground and they asked to leave after 30 minutes.  They were too hot.

So I suggested a jaunt through the Sprinkle Rocket.  I love that thing.

Then, Magoo had two birthday parties back to back.  One was at a place called Timber Gyms where the kids ran and climbed and jumped on playscapes, ladders, and slides.  That was 90 minutes.  Then we drove to Jump Zome, where many of the same kids ran and climbed and jumped on inflatables.  They were having a blast, clearly, but they were so tired.  All their little cheeks were bright red.

At 7:00 pm - 45 minutes into the second party - pre-pizza and cake - Magoo wiped out.  He tripped on the carpeting and skinned both knees.  That was it.  He was too tired to recover and we left.  (I was kinda ready to go.  That was a lot of party for Mama too!)

You'd think with a day like that, the kid would sleep until noon the next day.  Not my boy.  Up at 5:45!


We're still feeling the heat, but today it is reasonable.  Low 80's.  Crazy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

YAHOO for Center School

This more I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the Center School in Old Lyme, CT and sharing my story with them. 

I started with a presentation in the library where I read my book (to all the third graders) and went through the process of taking an idea and making it into a book.  There's one segment when I ask the kids to look at old art and finished art and find the changes - they loved that.

Then I visited all of the classrooms individually and taught the kids how to make their own ninja collage.  They all did a fantastic job and there were too many great ones to include.  But here are a few awesome ones.

I had the best time!  I think they may have spoiled me - they were so good!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eating Underwear

We have a little game in our house.  At any given meal, Magoo will ask, "Mom, what are you eating under there?"  The correct response should be "Under where?" And then Magoo would say, "You're eating underwear!"  And laugh.  Mike taught him this and it caught on like wildfire. A couple months ago it was in heavy rotation, but it has since calmed down and we now only hear it occasionally.  I used to play along all the time, but then I got bored.  I also didn't like the fact that Magoo never answered it himself.  He'd always say, "Nothing."  He never allowed himself to be the one eating underwear.  I didn't want to be the only one eating underwear, after all. 

This morning I was making Magoo's lunch in the kitchen.

Magoo:  Mom?

Me:  What honey?

Magoo: What are you eating under there?

Me: I'm not eating anything.  I'm making your lunch.

Magoo:  No, no.  Mom, what are you eating under there?

Me: Nothing.  I'm packing you a rice cake.

Magoo:  No.  Say 'Under where?'

Fine, I thought.

Magoo:  What are you eating under there?

Me: Under where?

Magoo: (laughs)  Okay.  Now you say it to me?

Goody, I thought.  He's finally going to play along.

Me: Honey, what are you eating under there?

Magoo:  Nothing.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weekend Fun

Today it is rainy and cold.  But the weekend was sunny and warm!  What a great weekend!  On Saturday, the University of Hartford was having their annual community day.  They had bouncy houses...

Polar Bear rides ...

...balloon sculpture, a bike rodeo, and a ton of other fun things.  The only downer was the Civil War reenactment folk who kept shooting off their guns.  BOOM BOOM.  Who invited them?

Magoo is a major bouncy house guy so that's where we spent most of the time.   It was all free so he just kept going and going and going.

Did you see Magoo's vest?  He wanted to wear his clown vest, so I said "sure."  he got so many compliments on his snappy vest.  He did fit in nicely.

Then Sunday, we stopped by our buddies' house up the street just in time to help with a lemonade stand.  Magoo and N cried out, "Lemonade!  Lemonade!  Who wants lemonade!" over and over again.  And you know what?  People wanted lemonade.

After about an hour, they boys had made $13.00!  Can you believe that?  I'm thinking of opening a lemonade stand.  Maybe I could sell cookies too?  Hmmmm.....

(Lemonade stand photos by Sara M.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bird Tree

The school librarian is having a big ol' Nature Festival in a couple weeks to raise money for getting the school a green house.  So I made a collage to donate for the auction.  It's one of the few artistic things I got done over Spring break.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Three Boys + Three Sticks = FUN

It is/was a gorgeous day today.  Magoo and his buddies G & O went out to Westmoor Park, a.k.a. The Farm, to have some Friday morning fun.

They walked through the barn and saw the animals in the field.  It was all fine and good.  

Then they discovered some bamboo sticks.

They leapt on the benches.  They fought their way through the forest.  They battled and completed missions.  And they did all this for about 90 minutes without fights or injuries.

This is my favorite shot.  It's like a montage scene from a bamboo-karate movie.  They're all out in the field rocking their kung-fu bamboo moves.  

At one point another group of visitors with scads of children joined us.  Some of the other boys picked up sticks and were told - immediately - to put the sticks down.  Heather, mom of O&G, and I internally chuckled.  It's funny/awkward when parenting styles clash.  We had our boys bring the sticks in while so many kids were around, not because of the other's rules, but with so many kids jumping on the benches, it was only a matter of time before someone got poked.  But as soon as the other group left it was stick city for our boys again.  

They loved the sticks and they were playing so well.  You go, stick boys!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Magoo's Journey

Last night I was on the computer.  Magoo wanted a turn.  I asked him what he wanted me to load up.  
He said, "Big butts," and smiled his naughty smile.  
Mike said, "If you don't really want a turn, then I'll take one."  
Magoo said he did want a turn.  
I asked again, "What do you want me to load up?"  Magoo smiled.  "Big butts."   
"Okay," Mike said as he sat down at the computer.  "I guess it's my turn then."
Magoo was upset.  He and I went into the living room.  I sat on the couch.  He sulked on the floor.   Between frustrated sobs, he said we didn't love him and he was going to leave and build a house of of sticks.
"Where are you going to go?" I asked.
"Far away," he said.
"How are you going to get far away?" I asked.
"Transportation," he said.
Then he put on his boots and his coat and went out the front door.

He stopped on the top step.  Then he stepped down.  He stopped again.  Then he stepped down.
Each step after that was slow and deliberate.  Halfway down to the front walk.  He tuned and looked at the house.  I didn't think he could see me in the window.  He took a few more steps.

Then he turned again and waved good-bye to his home.

Here's a zoom of the shot.  It's blurry - but can you see all the emotion on that child's face?

He got one square south on the sidewalk before he turned and meandered toward our car.  

He hung out by the trunk for about a minute before he walked up to the house and slunk between the siding and the front bushes.  He stayed there for about four minutes, then began peeping through the windows.

It was 7:30, so I opened the window and said, "Are you ready to come in?  It's bedtime."

He walked up to the front door, still in full pout mode.  He didn't want any snuggles or kisses so we just went about our business as usual.  By the time he put his jammies on his mood was much better and I told him I was happy he came home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Break - Karaoke!

It's Spring Break!  Which means I have my fair share of social secretary work to do.  We generally try to fill our days with playdates and outings.  On Monday, Magoo had one of his female buddies come over.  It went well, but I had to stick close to make sure the activities were gender friendly.  Magoo doesn't really get why S might not want to play Power Rangers.  But every kid I know loves a karaoke machine!

Then, because it was fairly nice outside, we went out back to the tire swing.

We also made Shrinky Dinks,  played Pirate Pop-up and Hide-and-Seek - but why take pictures of those things when I could use all the memory on karaoke pics!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

Friday morning.  It was a glorious day for an Easter egg hunt.  My friend, Sara, and I gathered together a bunch of friends with young children and took them out to the nearby park to see what the Easter Bunny had left lying about.

Each year we sit them on a bench and say "On your mark, get set, go!"  Then they take off like demons.  

We had two Supermen this year.  N took the lead.  It must have been the cape.  Magoo is off to the right.  See all the poor little ones still on the bench?  Newbies.  

Some eggs were right out in the open.  Others hidden in trees, swings, under the sand.  The kids scoured the park in five minutes flat.

Then it was time to see what they got.  Here the Supermen check out their stash.

Magoo can't eat the candy, but he seemed just as happy to offer jellybeans and chocolate eggs to his friends.

Then, because it was so darn beautiful outside, we all stayed and played for another hour.  

Dare I say it?  I dare. 
Best Easter Egg Hunt Ever.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Symbols of Easter

These jellybeans will not be eaten.

For one thing - no one really eats candy in this house anymore.  I am the exception as I will eat expensive organic dark chocolate.  But anything else makes me ill.

My husband used to be a jellybean monster.  OH how he loved them.   But he's off sugar completely, so these are just decoration.  And my little monster - who is so good - knows that he can't have them either and it hasn't been a problem.

So WHY do we have jellybeans?

Well, Magoo made a bowl in art class.

Isn't it so cute!  It has a lovely yellow glaze and I'm told that's Pikachu in there.

I guess the kids at school were learning sorting or math or something with jellybeans.  The other kids could eat them, but Magoo brought his home instead.  So he filled his lovely little bowl with lovely little candy symbols of Easter.  And they sit on a lovely little table until, three days from now, when I will throw them away in the lovely little trash.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter is Coming

Sorry I've been MIA for a few days.  I have been crafting, but the things I've made are gifts that I haven't yet given, so I don't want to spoil the surprise.  And I've been working on manuscripts and those just aren't that fun to blog about.

But Easter is right around the corner so there's plenty to do.  It actually snuck up on me.  Last night it occurred to me that I hadn't planned a thing for Magoo's basket.  D'oh!  And we usually color eggs - but I'm the only one in the house that will eat a hard boiled egg and that gets a bit much for me - so I might try to find another way to make fun eggs this year.

In the meantime - I made a bunny.  We're doing a little local egg hunt on Friday with friends and I thought I might try to make a bunny for each child and hide them.  And even though this bunny only took an hour - tops - from start to finish.  That's seven more bunnies.  I don't think.
So this bunny will be in Magoo's basket.  There - I have one thing!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pre-School Author Visit

This morning I had my first official school visit.  It was to a preschool that a friend's daughter attends.  I'd been emailing the director back and forth and I planned to do 1 - 2 presentations for the children.

I ended up doing 4.

But it was a good learning opportunity for me.  This was my basic presentation:
- present a list of terms and ask kids if they knew what they meant, i.e. ninja, stealthy
- read book and ask questions, i.e. How do you think Wink felt?  What do you think happens next?
- present dummy book and do a compare and contrast between old art and book art
- Q & A

This is what I learned:
- The kids did not know what most - if any - of the terms meant and calling on many kids got hectic and time consuming.  By the second presentation, I was only asking if anyone knew what a ninja was and just defining the rest of the terms in a quick, simple way.
- they did enjoy listening to the story and they were good about answering questions about emotions.  This age group couldn't really predict what might happen next.
- They LOVED the compare and contrast!!!
- Typical Q & A:
Me: Does anyone have any questions about the book.  Yes, Veronica?
Veronica: My mom made eggs this morning.
Me: That's great.  I made eggs for my son, too.  Anyone else have questions about the book.
Ally: Me!  Me!
Me: Ally, if you'll sit quietly with your hand up, I'll call on you.
Ally bursts into tears.
Ally:  But I was doing that.  (tears, tears)
Me:  OK Ally, what did you want to ask me?
Ally:  (Wipe) My brother is learning about Japan.
Me: That's great.  What grade is he in?
Ally: Fourth.
Josh:  My brother's in fourth grade too.
Colin:  So's mine.
And then they were gone....

Once a teacher asked me a technical question about getting published.  As I told her, the kids discovered a bug on the floor and tried to kill it.

All in all, things went really, really well.  I feel like I have a successful 30-minute preschool program.  And I know that 4 preschool presentation is about my mental limit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bad Painting = Good Collage

Last week I did a bad painting.  It wasn't awful, but it was pretty darn boring.  It just didn't pop.
But I had put some time into it and didn't want to toss it in the reject pile just yet.  So I decided to cut it up and make it into a collage.

This may not be your thing - but it is already so much more interesting than the painting was.
I like it.

I wish I had taken a shot of the painting before I cut it.  Alas - I did not.  But here is the image I painted, to give you an idea.

This is the Maumee River.  It's a spot where the water is low and you can walk along the limestone.  (I think it's limestone. Or slate or shale. Something.)  Very cool.  

Anyway, my layers didn't come out right.  I toyed with the colors to make more of a statement - but no.  This one just wouldn't work for me.  

Circle of its art life: Cool photo.  Bad watercolor.  Good collage.