Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wink In India

My uncle is the principal of the American International School in Chennai, India and for book week he read Wink to a group of 4th graders.

You can tell it's India by the AWESOME orange curtains they have in the library.

I'm totally psyched that Wink is being read on the other side of the planet - even if it is by a blood relative of mine. Thanks Uncle Jim!

In other news:
I am preparing to have a tag sale in a couple weeks. Magoo is very interested in what his part in this tag sale will be. I asked him if he'd like to have a little bake sale and sell muffins.
"Where will I get the muffins?" he asked.
"I'll make them," I said.
He got excited. "I'll ask them [the customers] what their diet is and give them a muffin they can eat!"
I smiled and explained that it's hard to predict what tag-saler's diets would be.
"I know!" he said. "Your recipes will be perfect!"
Then I had to explain that I would be making muffins from a mix because I won't have the time to make GF CG Sugar-free muffins from scratch the day before the bake sale. I tell ya though, he makes me want to try.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Winner: Tom Cats Bread and Tea

Joan submitted her daughter's poem:

Hello, Hello today's the day
When gray old tomcats come to play
They come, they come in packs of three
C'mon and feed them bread and tea

I have to admit I have a soft spot for cats. And cats drinking tea and eating bread?! C'mon! I had to make that! I made them a little demented looking, as though they're gonna get hopped up on camomile and the tip some trash cans.

Congrats to Joan and your daughter!

Honestly, I could have done an illustration for each and every entry. As they started coming in, I got really excited, then I thought D'oh, I'm gonna have to choose one of these!

I narrowed it down to four. Then two. So there's going to be a runner-up - I just haven't had time to make it yet. Give me a couple days.

THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who entered!!! And THANK YOU to everyone who checks in with me from time to time!

In other news: Magoo is back at school. Whoo-hoo! He goes through phases and right now he's in an "I'm bored" phase. So Mama had to make a lot of playdates and had little time to work. I just have to complete the end papers for Wink 2 and I'm basically done. Double Whoo-hoo!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Visit to the Eric Carle Museum

It's April break here and that means I have little time to work and a lot of time to entertain a 7-year old boy. So my buddy, Heather, and I decided to get the crew together and head up to the Eric Carle Museum.

The Museum is very 7-year old boy friendly. There are 2 galleries, an art studio, a gift shop, and a lovely terrace/tree garden area. We went through the galleries quickly. The first gallery featured the art of Antonio Frasconi and it was AWESOME! I could have strolled around in there for a good 30 minutes. But after 5 the boys were bored. O said, "I want to leave this place!"

The second gallery was better because the boys had an alphabet treasure hunt to keep them occupied.

Then we hit the art studio for some print making with styrofoam squares. I love the art studio. It is big, bright and there's always something fun to do. But the boys made short work of it and it was soon time to head outside for lunch (and to let the monkeys loose a bit.)

Here's a shot of the doors from outside. I loved the reflection.
The boys started off by the Japanese Maples. (I think that's what they are. I'm not good with trees.) This was great because Heather and I could sit down, feed them, and they were plenty occupied with the pebbles.

But as soon as they finished eating, they jumped the border wall and hit the climbing trees.

If you add all the time we spent in the both galleries and the art studio and tack five minutes on it and you'll have the amount of time the boys spent climbing trees. I don't know who did the landscaping - but they really brought the fun of Eric Carle outside. All the trees were fun shapes and low to the ground. It's as though they put their arms down, welcoming the boys to jump up in them.

When the boys had their fill, we hit the gift shop and I made a discovery. FABRIC!

There's Eric Carle fabric. My mind went into a frenzy thinking of things I could make. Since my cousin is having a baby in the fall, I came up with an idea and got two yards.

When we left, the Hungry Caterpillar car was gone. I said, "Looks like Mr. Carle got in his car and left."
O said. "I thought he was dead."
I said, "No, he's not dead."
O said, "I thought he lived in the realm of spirits."
Heather said, "I think he lives in Florida."


In other news:
I'm a little concerned that I've set some intimidating goals for the contest. Please don't feel as though you need to compose a prize winning poem. In fact, you can steal someone else's lines. Give credit, of course, but I'm only interested in translating the idea. I don't care who wrote the words. Have a favorite line from Shel Siverstein? Use it. Like a quirky title of a book? Lay it on me. Just make sure you go back and put it in the comments of the contest post. Not this one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Post 500 = Contest!

I started this blog in November 2007. I based it on a couple of blogs I really enjoyed that mixed day-to-day family life with arts and crafts. Recently I've wondered if I shouldn't lean to a more professional, picture book style; talking more about work than family. Then I figured, Nah, it's my friggin' blog and I can do what I want.

So I will stick with a little bit journal, a little bit family, a little bit craft, and a little bit work.

It's what I like to do. It's what I like to blog about And, if you like reading it, you will. Easy Peasy.


In honor of my 500th post, I propose this contest. You, your kids, or whomever submit a line, a rhyming couplet, or a haiku. The one I like the best, I will illustrate and send to you. The winner will be chosen simply by being the idea that is most inspiring to me.

It can be a silly idea or a beautiful one. It can be one word. Anything you want. And you can submit as many as you want.

I'll close the submissions Saturday morning, April 24th, and choose what I want to work on. When I'm done with the art (8 X 10" ish in size) I'll post it.

OK. Is that clear? (I want to give credit to the blog Chicken Nugget Lemon Tooty for the idea.)

Lay 'em on me, baby.

Author Visit: Braeburn School

Friday I had the pleasure of visiting the kids at the Braeburn Elementary School. (Thanks Suzanne for setting it up.) I started off with my powerpoint presentation for the K-1 crew in the cafeteria. No microphone for that one, but they were sooooo good, I didn't even need one. Then I went to three first grade classrooms and taught them how to make collage ninjas.

I never tire of this activity because the students always come up with awesome ways to make ninjas.

Someone finally gave glasses ninja (a.k.a Jun) some love.

And this one is great because it has Master Zutsu in it.

See, he's in the corner.

I was weary of doing a cutting activity with first graders - but they did a fantastic job.

I finished the day off with a longer PP presentation for grades 3 - 5. I don't go into selling a manuscript, revision, or rejection for the little ones - but I think they are good things to know for the older set.

I also shared the story for the next book, Wink! The Ninja Who Wanted To Nap. (Coming in Spring 2011.) When the kids hear there's going to be another Wink book, they like to pitch me title ideas for a third installment. I heard Wink! the Ninja Who Wants to be Silly, Wink! The Ninja Who Wants To Be a Clown, and Wink! The Ninja Who Wants to Fight. :)

I had a blast - as I always do. Thanks so much Braeburn School!!!

Next post: contest!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jambo! - It's Kenya Day

Yesterday Magoo and the other first graders at his school celebrated Kenya Day! They've been studying Kenya for about a month now - so everyone (including me) was geared up and ready to go.

Here's what happened: a bunch of parents came in and worked different stations. They had: drumming, clay animals, mancala, beading, mask-making, stamping, posing in Kenyan garb(above), and a few other things. We were divided into three different classrooms so I didn't see everything - but man, was I glad I wasn't in the room with the drums. Can you imagine?!?! I worked the beading station. The kids had already decorated paper plates bases. I, and the other parents, helped the children punch holes in their bases, loop pipe cleaners, and bead them.

Here's Magoo's:

As far as projects go, this was a great one. It wasn't that messy. It wasn't that loud. (well, yanno, drum loud.) And the kids needed very little guidance. Give them some pipe cleaners and beads and they go to town. It was amusing to note my energy drop as the hours progressed. I was super hyped for the first two groups - jumping form kid to kid to either help or compliment their craft. Then I started to sit more and just help the ones around me. By the last group is was like, "Here, put beads on this." My throat was soar and I was plum tuckered out. Coming from a family of teachers, I have never, ever thought that leading a group of kids through a day of school was a breeze - but what really killed me was the noise.

Right now, my house is dead quiet. The cat is sleeping. The child and the husband are out. There's no music, no TV on. All I hear is the tapping of the keyboard. Sweet, sweet quiet. Quiet is how I recharge. So after three hours of constant noise - I was mentally exhausted.

BUT - I had fun. I LOVE going into the school and meeting the kids. I LOVE getting a sense of who they are when they are at school and with their friends. And I LOVE being silly with them when we all get a little bored. (One group finished early so I showed them how to tape two beads to their fists and make Mr. Hand puppets. That caught on like wildfire.)

So it was BIG TIME fun, followed by BIG TIME rest.

In other news:
Tomorrow I will do a school visit at the Braeburn School in West Hartford. I am psyched!

Monday will be my 500th post! Yahoo! And that means contest time. Come back Monday to find out what it is.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Truth About Ants and Dogs

I'm not sure who said it, but one of the boys pointed out that ants don't like to walk on chalk.
So, to test the theory the boys started making ant "mazes" or "tracks."

Step 1: find an ant.
Step 2: draw a chalk track.
Note: make sure not to close the track all the way. Leave an escape route.

Step 3: Observe.

Conclusion - I think chalk is to ants what an electric fence is to a dog. They physically can cross it, but it is highly unpleasant for them and they don't want to.

This project kept the little scientists going for a good long time.

In other news:
We are dog sitting. Mike's sister's pup, Poppy, is staying with us for a few days. Magoo is quite smitten.

Poppy is well behaved and we all enjoy her - well, not Java the cat. Poor Java. She's fenced off upstairs right now. I try to go up and visit and give her a lot of love too.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


This lovely young lady is Bridget, my husband's cousin's daughter, and about a month or so ago, she called me up and asked to interview me for a class project on "Famous Women in Your Family." Naturally, I was honored.

(BTW - doing a kid-friendly interview can be very difficult. You have to explain rather complicated processes in succinct spelling-friendly sound-bites. But I did my best.)

Then Bridget drew a portrait of me (that's me up there that she's holding - dig my funky vest!) and read her report to the whole class. Wowee-wow-wow. Big stuff! Her mom said she'd send me a copy of the report, but I just couldn't wait to post this pic. I am over-the-moon flattered and besides, Bridget is too darn cute!

In other news: I had a big day yesterday. In the morning I went into Magoo's class as the Royal Reader, and b/c I had MOST of the art done for Wink 2, I gave the kids a sneak peek.

Then I came home, seeded the back yard, AND cleaned out the garage. In the evening I put bandaids on my thumb blisters and bought myself an ice cream treat at Whole Foods. :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Boo Hoo - Work To Do

I am THIS close to being done with Wink 2, but the art director is out this week so I must wait. ("Arg!" says Professor Pirate.)

I thought I'd take advantage of the FABULOUS weather and rake some leaves in the backyard but we got hit with a bit of rain. Seriously, I had to put my sunglasses on to walk Magoo to school then, a block later, the clouds rolled in.

But really the yard work was a way to put off story-boarding a picture book. I LOATH story-boarding. I don't know why, I just do. But it's the next, very necessary, step in my project. Now Mother Nature is wagging her finger at me, so I'd just better get on with it.

For those of you that love LOST like I do - clap, clap, clap - LOST TONIGHT!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter at the Beach

On Easter Sunday we headed down to Niantic to visit with Magoo's Gramma. Do you know what the Easter bunny left for him down there? Fritos. It was Magoo's first Frito experience. I think it was love at first bite.

Then we headed down to the beach to dodge waves ...
...and build a dam.

This activity was BIG fun for Magoo and his father. They made the dam, then made canals, put boats in (Crocs) and eventually destroyed it. Well, that was more of Magoo's job - demolition.

I even took off my shoes and got my feet wet. Check out my pedicure! I'v e never been one for pink toes.

It's was a gorgeous day and we have a bunch more in the forecast. It's going to be very difficult to stay focused on my work...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Egg Hunt 2010

We had a beautiful day for our, like, 5th annual egg hunt. Most of the core group remains the same. The Metcalfes were in town so N & A got to join in - yeah! We had a few new friends join us, too. ( Too many kids to even fit on the starting bench!!!) I always give the twitchy children a few "reminders" before they start, like "Big kids should run further out and leave the close eggs for the little ones," and "Don't run up and snatch an egg if you see a 2 year old going for it," - simple courtesy stuff - then it's One, Two, Three GOOOOOO!!!

I think it took me and my buddy Angela 10 minutes to lay all the eggs out. The kids cleared the field like a swarm of locusts in 3 minutes flat. I'm thinking next year I might have to get a little craftier about where I hide some of the eggs so I can draw it out. Or maybe I'll add an Easter treasure hunt or something like that.

Of course, the hunt is just stage 1. Stage 2 is discovering what booty you got. Here's Magoo and A. going through their eggs.

Then there's stage 3 for Magoo - doling out the candy. Since he can't eat the candy himself, he really enjoys giving it out to others kids and adult. Little J was THRILLED to get some extra m&m's. (I had a few myself!)

Since it was such a nice day, everyone hung out for a good long time at the park. Kids got to play with friends they hadn't seen in awhile and adults got to catch up as well.

It was a lovely day. Hope you all are having lovely holidays!