Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of First Grade

Today is the first day of school. Magoo is going to First Grade. I'm so excited I could burst!
(Above) Here's a little look back at the first day of pre-school and Kindergarten. Today he is wearing the green shirt and tan shorts.

We walked to school today, and as we got closer, Magoo met up with his buddy, O.

On the first day they have a ceremony on the blacktop. All the kids and parents have to find their grade and then we listen to the pledge and sing some patriotic stuff that haven't left these lips since I was in grade school. I think I sang 'My Country Tis of Thee.' It took no thought, it just came out. I think if I was in a coma, I could still sing 'My Country Tis of Thee.'

Here's Magoo with some of his buddies from last year.
And here he is with his class, ready to serpentine through the crowds on their way to the classroom.
I can't wait to hear how it all goes. But we already met his teacher and she seems great so I'm sure he's going to have a wonderful day. Well, at least a fine one.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Under The Sea - well, pool

About a week or so ago, I mentioned something to Mike about buying a disposable underwater camera at the drugstore. Then I promptly forgot about it.

You know who didn't forget? Magoo.

We were at Walgreens picking some things up and he saw an underwater camera. So we got it. MAN OH MAN - was he excited! When we got to the pool, he jumped in the 3 foot training pool and said, "Are you ready?" Well, no. I wasn't even in the water. I got in. "Are you
ready?" No. I was only waist deep and it was cold. "Are you ready?!" Ug. I had to submerge before he blew his lid - and then I had to figure out how it worked because the button wasn't depressing. After a couple minutes - we worked out the kinks and the photo session began.

We went to the big pool for most of the shots. And let me tell you, when you're full of air and both of your hands are on a camera, it's hard to stay under the water long enough to frame a decent shot. But we got a few.

This one is Underwater Yoga.

And then Magoo's buddy, O, joined us and they jumped in together.

The funniest part, to me, was trying to explain to Magoo why he couldn't see the photos right away. These kids aren't used to the concept of film. They know digital and immediate gratification. Magoo kept asking, "Did you get it?" Um - maybe? We'll know tomorrow an hour after we drop it off. And he was really excited when he saw was a negative was. How cool is that?! But he was disappointed that we didn't get to keep the camera. I guess he thought it was ours forever. Still - he gets the photos and he's very happy about that.

And I'm happy that I got to capture this big swimming summer. Today it's chilly and the weekend is supposed to be rainy. This may have been the final pool day of the season. But I hope not.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Circus Camp

It was the hottest week of the summer - and Magoo's busiest. He learned a ton of cool things at JuggleJoy Circus Camp. (Above) Here he is juggling scarves.

The kids worked really hard to put on a great show for us at the end of the week. Poor babies - it was so humid. Most of the kids didn't wear their costumes or make-up because they just couldn't bare it. (Good thing I put Magoo in colorful shorts!)

The show was about a group of circus performers making their way through the Fairytale Forest. Magoo had a part in the first scene. He was a bush.

He was totally believable. Very leafy.

For the rest of the show, he joined in the tricks. Here he is tossing hoops.

And working with a devil stick. (Look at that concentration!)

They also walked a balance beams, used stilts, whipped around these poi-thingies, and balanced peacock feathers.

Oh - and they did a magic trick:

I think Magoo had a great time. But he was happy to take a week off and rest before school starts on Monday.

(Photo credit to Mike for the still shots. Nice job!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Magoo Takes A Flying Leap

This last week has been a big one at the pool. Magoo has been swimming like a fish. When he's fully emerged he can go really fast and I've given him the nickname "Torpedo" which he is quite happy with.

He's also learned how to jump into the deep water, all by himself, and swim to me. And he'll try to touch the bottom.

On Friday, he jumped into the deep diving pool solo. And on Sunday, he jumped off the diving board!

I tell ya, he's a swimming stud! Check it out:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Author/Illustrator Aaron Zenz keeps a blog called: Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. (Catchy, right?) There he posts some of the choice examples of his eldest three kids' art. This month, he is celebrating three years of the blog by inviting others to be inspired by his children and re-doing one of their illustrations in one's own style.

I'm always up for something fun and inspiring. Above is my take on a piece of Lily's art, The Pigeon Finds Some Friends, that she made when she was four. Check it out.

I took some liberty with the setting, but I tried to keep the birds true to Lily's vision in color and shape.

All of the kids are amazing artists! Thanks to the Z-kids and their dad for sharing their art and inspiring others. You guys rock!

Update: As of Tuesday, Aug. 25th, this work has been included in the wonderful collection at Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty. I'm so honored to be up there with so much great art. If you haven't checked it out, do - it will bring a smile to your face.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The New Dress

It's the Leaning Tower of Julie!  Magoo took this shot for me while he was watching Curious George this morning, so it has a bit of an artsy angle to it.

Here's the back.
This is my summer dress, take 2.  The blue dress was too formal, so I changed it.  I'm a halter-top-loving girl, so I pulled out one of my favorite halters and used it to make a pattern that would fit on top of the Simplicity pattern I had.  Then I mocked one up with scrap fabric and put in a couple extra pleats and so forth.

Here's a sketch of what I had and what I wanted.

And here are the finished products.

I still like the blue dress, but it's more of a party dress.  I wanted something I could wear all day long.  If you like the new fabric, it's Amy Butler's Henna Paisley Okra.  I got it on sale (clap,clap) from Trendy Fabrics.  And the green was just some fabric I had in my stash.  (The bottom strip needs ironing.  oops.)

I'm very happy with the new dress.  I'm wearing it right now and keeping cool on this humid Friday morning.  So I think I'm done with summer dresses for now.

My next project is to make a new NinjaWoman banner.  There.  Now that I said it, I'll do it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Illustrations That Never Were

This is my project this week: matting and framing unused illustrations from dummy books that only got so far.

Two years ago, I agreed to do a show at the Newington Library.  At one point it got pushed back and then I didn't hear anything for a long time and I thought they maybe forgot about me.  I was kinda cool with that because I'm busy.  But no.  I got a call in July that asked if I was ready for my September show.  "Uh...sure."

I have some framed art from my regular November show.  I always have a few pieces in the basement ready to go.  But I didn't have nearly enough and I didn't have time to make a bunch of new pieces because summer time is 24/7 Mom time and you can't make collages when you're at the pool.  So I figured I'd pull out some of the art I did for a few proposed stories - and I certainly have a lot of that.

It's nice because some of these pieces are never going to be in the pages of a book.  (Some of them still have hope.)  So this will be their moment to shine.

This is from a story I did about a loaf of bread with heroic aspirations.  I love his little shoes.

This is from a story about an old man that recaptures the joy of his youth through bathtub boats.  I actually like this piece quite a lot.  I think I will make another one - but with a child in the tub - for my November show.  Maybe I'll put the old guy in there too.  (Not in the tub with the boy.  I mean, I'll put the pic of the old guy in the show.)  You never know what people will buy.

These are my favorites.  I LOVED the story they came from.  It was about a working man on his way to the office who keeps doing things he was forbidden to do as a child, i.e. jumping in puddles, and emerging younger and happier each time.   It may be a story more suited for adults, then kids.  Maybe not too marketable, but I liked it and I loved the way the art turned out.  I might try to find a place to hang these in my studio when the show is over.

Now I have to put some wire on the puppies and wrap them up.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tooth Is Out

The Cletus-snaggletooth finally vacated Magoo's mouth last night.  About time!  That thing had been hanging on for two months.

Magoo bounced into our room early this morning (6:23) with a crisp dollar in his paws!  Then he told me that the tooth fairy takes the teeth for her babies, so her babies can have teeth.  :)

And yes, that is a massive underbite you're seeing.  Can anyone say 'braces?'

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tomato - Basil Sauce

It was a Tuesday evening and I wanted pasta.  "Why are you specifying Tuesday?" you may ask.  I'll tell you.  We had no pasta sauce and Mike had taken the car for one of his Tuesday night bike races - so I couldn't just run to the store and grab some.  

But I wanted pasta.

Then I had an idea - Eureka!  I checked my garden and found two ripe tomatoes and fresh basil.  "I will make sauce," I declared.

So I chopped up some garlic and browned it in olive oil.  Then I chopped up my tomatoes along with some grape tomatoes I had in the house and mushed them up in the pan.

I added the basil and salt and got it all good and squishy.

Then I threw it on some pasta and VIOLA!  A lovely light pasta sauce perfect for a summertime meal.

It was so simple and so tasty.  I can't believe I never thought of it before.  But I will know just what to do as the tomatoes ripen - because I LOVE PASTA!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Beach Day

It's been such a busy summer.  I'm not really sure why.  But we haven't been down to the beach nearly as much as we had last year.  So yesterday, Mike took the day off and we hit McCook's Beach.

It was perfect.  (Ahhhhhh. ;)  That's for you, Heather.)  It was hot, but not too hot.  The water was comfortable.  And Magoo practiced his dog-paddling.  (Mike told me, after we got home, that Mary (mother-in-law) got a jellyfish sting while out swimming.  She knows I'm scared of jellyfish so I guess she kept it mum.)  And it's true, I'm not fond of them.  But now that I've actually been stung, I'm less afraid and more cautious.

But anyway ...

The boys built sandcastles.

And I walked up and down the beach searching for white rocks.  The whiter the better.  I have a project in mind.
And there was a little snuggle time, too.

Here's my beach read:


At Mary's I snapped a couple cool pics.

I liked the gradation of color in the tomatoes.

Luck + patience = butterfly shot.

Hope you're all having a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Blue Dress

Here is the pattern I used to make the blue dress I wore to Magoo's party.

When I went to the fabric store to look for patterns, I wanted something very casual and comfortable.

This scores on the comfortable part but it's a tad elegant for my taste.  (A wee bit low cut.)  And there are a couple other things I would change - like make the skirt fuller and shorted the band at the empire waist.  

BUT the pattern was on sale for $3!  Score!  And in and of itself it was a good pattern.  It was easy to read and put together.  And now that I have learned a few more things, I feel like I can design my own dress.  The fabric is on it's way!

Also, re: the pattern, there's an awesome tunic top I intend to make too.

Sara, the pattern is Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity #2587

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Red Mushroom

Magoo and I just got back from a playdate.  It didn't end well.  Magoo is lying on the couch, in his birthday suit, with seven bandages on his back.  He fell from the monkey bars and scratched his back on something on the way down.  It's a doosey of a scratch - but it's still just a scratch. No stitches needed.  Just some ointment and TV.  But it's also more than a scratch.  It's the result of a new level of realization.

But let me go back in time.

Yesterday, about 10 minutes before I took Magoo to a playdate, I found him nibbling from an old ziploc bag of chips.  "What are you eating?" I asked, like I normally do because it's odd to see him with food that I haven't fetched for him.  At first he gave me his usual impish look, then his expression drooped and he asked, "Am I going to get sick?"

(If you don't know us, Magoo has dietary issues and there are many things he shouldn't eat.  If he were to make a mistake, probably nothing would happen.  It's not like a peanut allergy.  But eating certain foods day in/day out would be bad for his system.)

I told him he wasn't going to get sick and that those chips are OK, only slightly stale.  

"I'm going to get sick," he said.

I repeated that he'd be fine.  Nothing was wrong with the chips.  And told him if he wasn't sure of a food that he should ask me.  He seemed to calm down so we left.  When we got to the playdate, I looked in the back seat and Magoo looked like he was going to lose it.

"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I don't feel well," he said.  "I want to go home."
"Honey, you're fine," I said.  (He was fine.)  "Would you like a drink of water?"
"I want water at home," he said.
"We're here now.  Let's go in and have some water."
"Can I have a drink of water at home, please?" he asked.  It nearly broke my heart but I knew he was fine, just freaking out.  And I also knew that within 60 seconds of seeing his friend he would get over it.
"I'm sorry sweetie.  We're going in.  But if you feel sick later, you can ask to call me."
Magoo's buddy ran out of the house to greet us, and Magoo turned that frown upside down.

I picked him up two hours later and Betsy* (*name change) told me that Magoo had gotten upset when he had touched the bug bites on her son's shoulder and her son had told Magoo it was poison ivy.  Magoo got concerned and insisted that his hand be washed.  After awhile, he accepted that they were bug bites and calmed down.   

So that was yesterday. Chip scare.  Poison Ivy scare.

Today we are at our friend Heidi*s (*name change) house playing in the back yard, and while she is scanning the yard for dog poop, she sees a red mushroom.  

"Aren't these red ones poison?" Heidi asks.
"I don't know," I say.
"The red warns birds to stay away and not eat it.  Right?" she asks.
"Well, I don't think you're supposed to eat it," I say.

Magoo and the other boys had been having a ball, sliding on the slip-n-slide, when all of a sudden Magoo is by my side on the patio.  I forget how it came up, but he was concerned about the red mushroom being poison.  I went and picked it and threw it away, but he still didn't want to go into the grass.  So Heidi and I went on a red mushroom search to see if there was any more.  Nope.  Magoo calmed down a bit.

Then - I think - one of her boys mentioned poison ivy - or maybe it was Magoo.  He asked if he touched it and ate it would he have to go to the hospital.  So I sat him down and explained that if he touched poison ivy his skin would have a red patch and turn itchy, but it would go away in a few days.  He would not need to go to the hospital.  He would be alright.  And Heather and I assured him that there was no poison ivy in her yard and nothing that would hurt him.

"This is a safe place," I said as I unwrapped the towel and sent him back to the slip-n-slide.

Having completed my motherly duties of assuring my child's safety, I turned to Heidi to tell the story of yesterday's chip scare.  Not 30 seconds into it, Magoo screams bloody murder.  I turn to see him on the ground by the playscape.  At first I think he's just fallen - I can't see the scratch.  But as I bring him to the patio, the red starts to emerge.  Yeeks.  He lets out a couple more shrill yells and then starts to sob.  

We cleaned him up and Magoo walked home with me.  He's fine.  Oh, I'm sure he's tender.  Like I said, it's a doosey of a scratch, but it will heal just fine.  The bigger issue seems to be the new awareness of poison and toxins.  On the walk home, Magoo asked me about radioactivity and if it was real.  This is all new stuff.  Now he's seeing things in TV and bringing them into his own world - are these dangers real?  Do I have to worry about them?  

And come to think of it - at the beginning of Coraline, she got poison ivy on her hand.  Maybe, for Magoo, that's just the first step to finding a secret door that leads to a world where a spider mother has button eyes and evil plans?

I don't know.

But I do think we'll be having a talk about poison ivy tonight and I don't think the night light is going off any time soon.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Half Birthday Party: Prologue

Magoo's birthday is December 30th.  Not a good time for a kid party.  Our house is small and everyone's doing holiday/family stuff.  So Magoo gets a small family party in late Dec./early Jan. AND he gets a kid party in the summer.  This year, it was Saturday.

Since it had been such a rainy summer, I was DELIGHTED that we had good weather.  And I was EXTRA delighted that it had been a dry week, which meant we could use the back yard too. (It's far too mucky back there when it rains.)

Because I took a GAZILLIONS photos - I have arranged them in four posts: Waterballoons, Cake, Pinata, and Kids.

Half Birthday Part 1: Water Balloons

The calm before the storm.  I started on Wednesday and tried to fill a bucket each day.

And then ... 

It's over in a matter of minutes.  But everyone loves a water balloon fight and I always get some funny pics.

Half Birthday Part 2: The Cake

I made our birthday tradition: honey cake.  I also made Devil's food cake cupcakes for the kids who might not be digging the gluten-free, sugar-free honey cake.  (Can I just say how EASY making something from a mix was!?!?  Soooooo easy!)

Here I am, singing Happy Birthday.  It was kind of a slow dirge version since if I moved too fast the six and a half candles went out.  

In this shot, I'd like to point out the Lego catalog on the table.  One of the boys brought this down from Magoo's room and it was the HIT of the party.  I couldn't pry the thing out of the boys' hands!  There was always a group, salivating, over some awesome lego creation or another.
And here's the half birthday boy (with blue tiger face-painting) chowing down.

Half Birthday Part 3: The Pinata

Let's just take a moment to admire the Pikachu Pinata.  I didn't keep a record, but I think it's fair to say I put in about 4 - 6 hours making this.  Do you know how long it lasted?

First, let me say that in years past, we've gone through several rounds of children trying to break the pinata before Mike usually comes in and rips it a new one.  It's ususally a 15-20 minute activity.

Not this year.

Magoo went first.  He took three whaps and hit with two.  No breaks.  Then we had C.

C. busted it open on his second go.  So the second kid broke it on his second stroke.
I think Pikachu lasted 2 minutes.

Here they are grabbing up candy, tattoos, and bouncy balls.

Next year I'm buying one.