Saturday, December 30, 2006

Further along the Artist's Way

Two years ago, I did The Artist's Way and all the fantastic work it entailed. So now I'm about to take another step and do the 12-week set of projects in Julia Cameron's book "Walking in This World".

Again, I'm asking - who's with me? If you're interested in furthering your creative journey and want someone to travel with, please send me an email or comment here. Like last time, I will be posting weekly updates and we can help each other. I'd like to start soon in the New Year, so if you want in, let me know!

Here's to a super-creative 2007!

Friday, December 29, 2006

So I finally did it.

I finally succumbed and signed up for MySpace. If you want to spread some toasty goodness around, link up and I'll friend you right back. (Also, if you know of/belong to an art group you think is good, let me know!) As friend and fellow artist Allyson proclaimed, "You are officially 16 now!" :)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Toddler Dance Party

This was the scene at our house on Christmas -- filmed and mixed by my brother-in-law Marc. Are they a hoot or what? Watch them shake their groove thing here.

The Solid Gold Toddler Dancers are:
Sophie - blue sweater and pigtails
Angela - red dress and pigtails
Petey - blondie with dark sweater
Jude - blondie with red vest and shirt


Monday, December 25, 2006

with love

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Illustration Friday: Peace

This is from the Christmas card I painted in 2001. Before that I had painted animals or bible verses for our cards, but 9/11 shook us so much that we agreed we needed to do something different.

I had done a lot of peace chalking that fall, and this is a painting/colored pencil drawing that came out of it. It is not a portrait of me; I think it's of a young girl and Paul thinks it's of an angel. It can be whatever speaks to you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Put another log on the fire, babe*

As I type this, I'm toasting my toes in front of a modest but lovely wood fire.

But that almost didn't happen. We almost stuck one of the laptops in the space and watched the WPIX Yule Log.

September: Paul gets the bright idea to replace the fireplace parts, which are roughly five years old but have seen some hard use. This is one of the ways we heat our downstairs in winter, and we actually melted the grate the wood rests on. So he goes to the fireplace supply store after carefully measuring the fireplace, and orders new parts. The grate. And the parts that form the inside of the fireplace - there are three of them that fit together tightly like a puzzle. They tell us the parts will be ready in October.

October: The parts aren't ready.

Early November: The parts come in! Hooray! Paul picks them up and sets to work taking the old parts out of our fireplace.

The new ones, despite the fact that they have our name on them and the correct dimensions marked on them as per Paul's measurements, are in fact, the wrong size.

And Paul can't put the old pieces back in because they cracked when he took them out.

The company says, Oopsie! We'll have to order them again for you from the manufacturer! Should have them by Thanksgiving!

We do not have them by Thanksgiving.

December: The company is so sorry! Really! They won't give us any money off for our troubles, but they will let us cancel our order. Which only means that we would have to go to another store that will probably be using the same manufacturer. Just get us the parts, okay?

Paul calls a week later: are the parts in?

Ummm... yes, the parts are in and they're the right size, but.... they broke.

(Incoherent noises from Paul.)

So finally, three months after we initially ordered the parts, they agreed to let us keep the wrong-sized parts for free, put them together, and just make very small fires to keep on the safe side. So I am getting toasty in front of a very small fire, which I am still rather grateful for. I'm hoping that maybe by the kids' birthdays we will have real honest to goodness parts for the fireplace, but I'm not holding my breath. What I don't get is, what makes this kind of incompetence okay?

*Sophie loves to sing this song. With a twang, no less. (Okay, with modified lyrics.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Deck the Halls with Punctuation

The other day we heard Angela singing one of her favorite songs off the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album. "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a bunny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a --"

I had to jump in. "Angela, please put a what in the old man's hat?"

She stopped playing and looked up at me. "A bunny!"

I explained that the word is penny, but we like bunny so much better that that's the way we all sing it now.

Not to be outdone by her sister, Sophie-the-super-genius has decided that her new lyrics for her favorite song are "Deck the Halls With Punctuation." She occasionally varies this with "Deck the Halls with Interjections" just to keep things fresh.

Petey doesn't have any new lyrics for us, but he is the first to yell out "AH-ha!" on "Feliz Navidad", and has the Charlie Brown Christmas shoulder-shrug dance down cold. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

What's your favorite misheard lyric?

Monday, December 18, 2006

introducing... the Nazzaro family singers!

We have a pretty unique arrangement with our church. Basically, we can sing at whatever mass we can make it to, make up whatever harmonies we want, don't sing if we don't want to (or have to drag a child outside for whatever reason). We totally love this arrangement as we met in the choir and really can't make it to rehearsals anymore, so this keeps our hands in.

Yesterday morning saw Paul and his guitar, me, our three tiny ones each with their own music stand (purely because they wanted to put books on them), and my friend Cyndy's two kids, Hannah, and Joe. They decided it would be fun to join us and we always say the more the merrier. So you have two adults and 5 kids, ranging in age from almost 3 to 6 years old, some with microphones, most of them singing. We must have looked quite impressive.

After mass, all these parents came up to us and told us we reminded them of the Von Trapps, a thought that had certainly crossed my mind a few times that morning. I had to explain that only three of them were mine and frankly, I think they were disappointed.

But it's emails like this one from my friend Gina that make the whole thing worthwhile:

I'm so glad you emailed because I wanted to thank you for singing at the 9:15 (esp last week). My husband (who doesn't get enthused about anything), leaned over and said "Where is that voice coming from? I hope she sings professionally." At that we looked over and saw you literally wrestling with one of the kids. It was a riot. Please keep coming back and keep singing. Your harmony (if that's what it is) is just a phenomenal addition to the mass.

At the very least, we provide entertainment value.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Let's Say Thanks

From my Uncle Dom... If you go to this web site, Let's Say Thanks, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

How cool is this? It's free, and all the artwork is done by kids! No matter how you feel about the war, we can certainly all send some cheer to the men and women serving there.

Friday, December 15, 2006

This is my life.

Via Dooce and here. When this aired on TV, I almost fell off the couch giggling. :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tip for today

When you are so mad/frustrated that you want to go hit something, taking everything out of the refrigerator and scrubbing it top to bottom is a good redirection of energy.

My refrigerator is now very, very sparkly.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Had to share this, via my brother:

Hear The Chipmunk Song at normal speed!

Read more about Ross Bagdasarian (aka David Seville) and learn how he used his last $200 to buy a top of the line tape recorder to record "Witch Doctor". His kids loved it so much (um, and the public) that he was asked to write another song using the same techniques. Read more about the history of the song here. (Click "It all began in 1958...")

Monday, December 11, 2006

Illustration Friday: Mask

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I have been loving Keri Smith's articles lately - especially her one she wrote for HOW Magazine about freelancing as an illustrator. One of the things she says is to find something you love and believe in. "It's as simple a letter saying, 'I like what you're doing. Can I be involved somehow? Here's what I do.' "

So I wrote a letter to a certain magazine I believe strongly in, saying how much I loved them, introduced myself, and how I thought we'd be a perfect match. I heard back from them the next day, and if all goes well, it looks like I will be having one of my illustrations in their next issue! (And yes, I will say more about it then!)

The point is that even though I was nervous to do it, I did it anyway. I told myself, What's the worst thing that could happen? They already don't have any of my illustrations in their magazine! The worst thing they could say is no.

What are you scared to do with your art? Put it out there! The worst someone can say is no.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Artist's Survival Kit

More goodies from Keri Smith. If you don't have her bookmarked, go do it now. I'm off to go make and present myself with my own award.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One small yellow candle

When I look back over everything I did in the past few days, the only thing I can point to and say "I did that for myself" was to light a small yellow votive candle and set it on the table where I can see it while I work. Everything I have done has either been for someone else, or so incredibly mundane (but necessary) that I went to bed bewildered at how I had spent my day and where the time went. Today I finally got a shower. Who knows where such self-indulgence will lead me today? I'm hoping it will lead: to yoga while the kids are napping, to finish a new drawing, to writing some letters from the heart. Or a big peanut-butter cookie. That would work for me too.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hey Ya, Charlie Brown Style

I couldn't resist, I love this song. And Sally shakin' it like a polaroid picture kills me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

My real age

Frequent blog readers (and family members) know how I feel about nutrition and eating healthy. I recently saw the special on PBS with the doctor - I'm not sure of his name, but he's the one on Oprah who makes life-long smokers come up and feel a healthy lung and a diseased one. He's either Dr. Roizen or Dr. Oz. Does anyone know his name?

In any case, I was motivated to take the Real Age test online and found my age to be 2.5 years younger because of clean livin' and healthy eating. It gives me LOTS of tips for things I can fix (erm, like stop being so darn stressed all the time) including stuff I can print out and bring to my doctor to ask specific questions. I'm making Paul take it right now.

So what's your real age?

Friday, December 01, 2006

One Little Smile

Way back in the day, I mentioned that I got to sing back up for my amazing brother-in-law's new children's album. Well, here it is... One Little Smile. (I am quite happy to be one of the Silly Friends.)

The description says, "The goal of this cd is to give children music of their own that they could rock out and dance to and which their parents could listen to without going crazy." All I can say is, Amen to that! Marc is also donating $1.00 from each cd sale to help fight autism.

Please check it out, I will definitely be giving this to a few lucky people this Christmas!

ps ~ You can hear a bit of me singing the chorus here (click "Toddler Dance" in the menu to the left) but alas, it cuts off before we get to the "Go boogie, dancing Grandma" part.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

all done!

Woo-hoo! 30 days of non-stop posting! I had a really fun time doing it, and hope to continue posting something new every day into the next month and for as long as I can. I also loved reading fellow NaBloPoMo-er's contributions. Congratulations to everyone who posted or tried to!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thursdays in Black (yes, on a Wednesday)

This summer I worked on some awesome posters for a good cause... so here are the final versions of them, both flat and being held by the lovely Jennifer from NZUSA, all the way from New Zealand!

See the paintings in progress here and here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In which I answer some questions, pretty much off the top of my head

Holy cannoli, Batman! Only a few more NaBloPoMo days left! Going back to my original post when I asked what people wanted to hear about...

What was your motivation for starting a blog?
Well, I work for a web company and I thought at the time I knew enough coding to figure it out. I didn't actually know anyone who was doing one and I like a challenge. Now that Blogger just announced that they will support tagging for those who use FTP instead of Blogspot (me!) I will have to restrain myself from trying to tag every one of my posts from the past 5 years, like, in the next week.

What motivates you to keep writing?
Pure narcissism! Hee hee. I have a real journal too, that NOBODY reads. Ever. Not even Paul. I need an outlet like that. I also LOVE to get comments; it makes me feel like I'm not putting it all out there in a vaccuum.

Who do you imagine as your audience when you write?
I think they're people like me (ha!) - people who strive for creativity, love, and a little something over and beyond the ordinary in their daily lives. Mamas. Boys in college. Senior citizens. I believe that inside my heart there is a me that's still 5, a me that's still 19, and a me that's 35, my real age. And that will never change, and hopefully someday when I'm 80 and cycling through Florence on my Schwinn with a straw basket on the front full of art supplies, there will be other me's of other ages to join them.

Have you ever felt concerned about certain other people reading what you write?
There are some things I don't talk about online. I decided long ago that I would put up some pics of the kids and paintings, and share about my life, but there are certain stories I don't share online. Mainly because if this one certain person ever comes to this site (and I think he has) I don't want to give him the satisfaction of hearing about himself. It was a long time ago.

More things I don't really talk about: my adolescence. I was an extremely late bloomer. I was tripped, teased, and verbally abused on daily basis at school from about 6th grade till the middle of high school. You show anything out of the cookie cutter mold, and you get stomped on and crushed. When I went on a retreat in 11th grade, I had to do some sharing with one of the worst offenders who was SO surprised I didn't want to sit next to him! I said, "Are you really that clueless, don't you remember the things you did?" and he honestly didn't. I'm not sure if that makes it worse or not. Anyway, he asked for forgiveness, and we talked it out, and I'm truly grateful for it. He passed away in a car accident a few years later. I would not go back to being a teenager for a gazillion dollars. High school had its moments, but college was WAY more fun.

I also do not give my measurements (I get enough crazy hits from people who think anything with 'french' in the title somehow equates with sex), show revealing pictures of myself or anyone in my house, or complain or give inappropriate details about work-related shtuff. I only post stuff I wouldn't mind my mom or mom-in-law reading. I share more about feelings and ideas than anything else. I think it's way more interesting reading than what I had for breakfast today, although that was pretty darn awesome, too.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Illustration Friday: (Necessity is the mother of) Invention

When your twins are bent on getting their clothes off as quickly as humanly possible, especially when they are supposed to be sleeping, and you are getting royally sick and tired of changing the bedding over and over again because after six months, while they are certainly improved but nowhere near being actually called toilet-trained, you put the pajamas on backwards where they can't reach the zippers. And then when they get out of that, you put on TWO pairs backwards.

So far that's been their limit, but I have one more trick up my sleeve. Next comes the duct tape. I am so not making this up; I read online on help boards for parents of older children who do this that duct-tape around the waist and on the zipper makes the pj's even harder to get out of. And the kids think it's hysterical. What can I say... I'll do whatever it takes to get the laugh. Especially if it gets me out of having to clean up pee. Again.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

You are enough.

This is a well-worn tiny card I have from the time I met SARK, once upon a long ago. (The thrill still hasn't worn off.) I have had a particularly difficult day today. I really need to remember this.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Time traveling

Got this via loobylu...

One week ago.... Sophie decided to give potty training a go again, thank you God. I've been afraid to talk about it for fear I'll jinx it.

One year ago.... we were putting on Peter's pj's backwards to prevent him from taking all his clothes and diaper off and "decorating" during his nap. Today, we're STILL doing it. He's tapering off... my next recourse is duct tape.

Two years ago.....I was getting over my PPD and preparing for our first christmas as a family of five. 2004 was easily the hardest, most wretched year of my life. I rejoiced when it was over. :)

Five years ago..... I started this blog! We had construction on our house, and George Harrison passed away.

10 years ago..... This lovely boy and I were planning a wedding.

What have you been doing?

Friday, November 24, 2006


Picture this... three little kids dancing and whirling with abandon around the kitchen while mama cooks. For the moment, all the usual squabbling is forgotten as they get caught up in their steps. The orange scarf covering Sophia's pigtails whips around as she catches her sister's hand - Angela in overalls and butterfly wings on her back, two sisters giggling with glee while they dance and sing. Peter sits on the floor playing a game and kicking up his feet to the music. When he looks up, his eyes shine. Mama takes a step back to take in the scene, spoon in hand. Zany music on the radio, joyous children dancing...

She puts the spoon down and shows them how it's done.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

delighted, I'm sure

I've just been featured at delightfulblogs - if you want to say something nice there about this blog and my artwork or give me a rating, please do!

Other great places I've been linked to lately...

My incredibly driven and talented mama-friend Michelle shows what happens when Rufus and Lucy make a stop at our house on their national tour.

Creative Mom Podcast mentioned my take on the never-ending struggles to balance taking care of the kiddos with having time for my artwork in this episode.

Some lovely girls (hi, Casey!) at TV By Girls had a French-Toast-Girl-themed breakfast on their retreat where they served french toast and got everyone psyched to be Mad Chalkers! Woo hoo! When I got their first letter telling me what they planned to do, I actually cried because I was so honored. These teenagers are bright, articulate, and on their way to take the media world by storm. Yay!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Charles Schulz gives a character "the ax", literally

God help me, but I find this quite funny. ;) From Wikipedia:
Charlotte Braun is a long-forgotten character from Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts, who first appeared on November 30, 1954. She was originally intended as a female counterpart of the strip's protagonist, Charlie Brown.

In 2000, it became known that a fan of Peanuts had written Schulz a letter requesting that Charlotte Braun be removed. Schulz wrote back, promising to remove the character but asking the reader if she wanted to be responsible for "the death of an innocent child". The letter included a picture of Charlotte Braun with an ax in her head. The letter has been donated to the Library of Congress.
Click here to read the full entry, and click here to see the actual ax-in-the-head letter and accompanying picture. Seriously, like you're not going to look!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Do something.

I am so loving this article by Keri Smith about taking small steps towards becoming a freelance illustrator. Her motto is "Something is better than nothing", a fact I've come to appreciate since I've had the kiddos - any day I can point to something and say, "I worked on this" is a good one. She's also given me a fantastic idea that I plan to try to set into action this week... I will fill in the details once it happens (cross fingers, cross fingers.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Illustration Friday: Thanksgiving

For you to print out and share with your family this Thanksgiving. It's the grace we say at our house, and the kids all cheer and clap their hands at the end. :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006


whar is it? I'm up? Do you need some water? No? Oh, you dropped your toy and needed me to come pick it yp - that's the reason for this ungodly moaning at 2am? nothing else? let me fix your blankets, bet you're cold. okay. g'night. you.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

One, two, two little girls...

We watched this with our kids tonight (on the Old School Sesame DVD). Had to share... somehow, I never get tired of this clip. Sing along, you know you want to!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Holiday Cards and a plea for help

Help a girl out! You know you're sick and tired of seeing these cards each winter! You know you want me to make new ones! But I can't until these are all gone. Now's your chance to clean out my inventory — have gorgeous cards to send out for the holidays and original artwork to keep for yourself, so you get to be both naughty and nice.

Choose 5 card sets and get an 8" x 10" print FREE!
Whether you're looking for something deep and thought-provoking, or artwork to just plain make you laugh, this special's for you! These two paintings are the ones I've gotten the most mail about: the thoughtful girl with a tree and two birds; and the one we like to just call "Fishies." Choose any combination of 5 card sets to send out and pick a print for yourself! Each print measures 8" x 10" and is printed on glossy stock with quality inks. Just let me know which print you want in the field marked "Additional Information."

All cards are professionally printed on glossy stock in full, luscious color. And each card shows one of my original watercolor and colored pencil paintings. Or if you just can't decide which to choose, there's an assorted multi-pack so you can have a little of everything.

Go see the cards and check out those prints right here at the French Toast Girl Shop.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodbye, Spackle

Yesterday, the most wonderful cat in the whole world died. Spackle was not our cat but our next-door-neighbors', though he treated us as his extended family. Friends and visitors to the studio alike would be greeted by his big friendly fluffiness, sitting on our steps like he owned the place - he'd always greet people with a big meow and would sometimes walk them to the door.

He loved Paul (and it was mutual)! He used to meow outside the door until Paul would come out and play with him. Paul even wrote a song in his piano series called "Meow" that was Spackle-inspired, sort of a call and response song. My illustration had a split screen with a cat on the phone calling up a boy who looked like the way I was doodling Paul at the time. Our neighbor's daughter, who takes lessons from Paul, knew who it was right away.

I have looked for Spackle outside on the porch at least 15 times, even though I know he's gone. I know this sounds ridiculous because he wasn't even our cat, but he was a wonderful part of our lives for almost 10 years. He lived a long, full, happy life (17+ years) with a wonderful family (and us!) who loved him very, very much.

We're still deciding whether or not to tell the kids - whether it's a good lesson on death or if they're truly too young to understand yet. So we're doing more research. Whatever we tell them, it will be the truth; that much I know.

Goodbye, Spackle-cat - nobody will ever be able to fill your fluffy place in our hearts. Go say meow to God for us.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Big 35 List

Back again, my list of now 35 things I hope to accomplish by next August 15th. Some are simple, some are finite, some are ongoing. (See last year's list here.)


Write letters to artists I admire: SARK, Tomie dePaola, Paul McCartney (for starters).
I know, I know, this is the third year running I've said this. I'm really doing it this year.

2. Listen to more podcasts/online radio.
Some notables - I love love love Maccaradio; Pandora is cool; also digging Creative Mom Podcast and Spare the Rock radio show (via the awesome Kiddley)
3. Have regular (weekly would be lovely) artist's dates.
4. See these movies: Brother Sun, Sister Moon; The Agony and the Ecstacy, Waking Life.
5. Walk/bike whenever possible, instead of using the car.
6. Take up yoga again.
7. Make a puppet FOR MYSELF.
8. Revamp online store to have prints, new cards, and everything all under one roof.
9. Go out on regular dates with Paul. :)
10. Research licensing for my artwork.
11. Donate artwork for charity.
12. Try to get my artwork sold in local stores.
13. Record a song — either with Paul, or by myself, a cappella, in parts.
14. Go to the dentist.
15. Get a physical.
16. Walk every day.

Limit myself to one cup of coffee per day, with the goal of eliminating it altogether.

18. Write in Peter's, Angela's and Sophie's journals.
19. Read and complete the work in Walking in This World - the sequel to The Artist's Way (which I did on my Big 33 List)

Try to live responsibly - saving as much energy as possible; eating/feeding my family as organically as we can; recycling as much as possible - and teaching the kids about it.

21. Go on a retreat.
22. Get Christmas stuff done very early so I can enjoy Christmas.
23. Keep up the morning pages/journaling every day.
24. Have more of my artwork hanging up around the house.
25. Fix up studio the way I want it.
Cleaned, organized, and working on hanging up pictures.
26. Fix up purple room (the room I work in) the way I want it.
Room is cleaned out, sketches for window seat to come!
27. Focus on being content with where my life is right now, this instant.
28. Plan a vacation for our 10th wedding anniversary. Sans children.
29. Sell out the rest of my Christmas cards. People, I am so serious here.

Finally take all those Muppet quilt squares people made me for Sophie's baby shower and sew them into one rockin' quilt.

31. (Private painting note - will post when it's done.)
32. Sunscreen. Every day.
33. Participate in a fund-raising event/donate to a cause I feel strongly about.
34. Get my artwork shown in a gallery.
35. Say hello or good morning with a big smile to people I pass on the street - whether I know them or not.

So what's on your list?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

He said, she said

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

I held up a foam number 5, ripped in two. "Who broke this?" I asked.

Petey pointed at Angela. "Angewa did it."

Angela, just as fast, pointed at Peter. "No, Petey did it!"

I asked again, and this time got simultaneous responses, "Petey! No, Angewa!"

Paul pointed out that they were probably both yanking on it at the same time and were both to blame, so they actually were telling the truth. Either way, Sophie, who was absolutely delighted by this exchange, thought it was a hoot. And so did the twins, because now whenever we ask who did something, their automatic response is to blame each other, even when it turns out that Sophie did it! Now if they could just keep their pajamas on and stop running around naked, we'd be getting somewhere...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Illustration Friday: Clear

For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I call this one "Chicken Soup"

Collaboration between me and Soph based upon a favorite vintage sketch from 1974... watch it below. Jim Henson as Salvador Dada is genius. I plan to do a painting of "#5" as well as the portrait Ernie and Bert have in their living room.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sophie talks about playgrounds and honey. And being baked into a pie.

I am supposedly getting a nap, as we were up last night with the mischief twins, who managed not once but TWICE to get completely naked and poop in their cribs. Honestly, I swear that they are saving it all up because they must have each pooped four times yesterday. If they are so good at controlling when and where they go, purely to annoy me, why aren't they potty trained yet? Oh yes, purely to annoy me. Putting them each in two pairs of pajamas, backwards (zipper in the back), was enough to thwart them, but they let us know how incredibly mad they were looooong into the night. So, as I said, I'm supposed to be getting a nap but instead have been joined by Paul and his toolbox, putting up shelves, and the incredibly talkative and bouncy Sophie. I give up all attempts at rest and decide to do today's blog.

Sophie says we should talk about playgrounds: "I like slides, because I pretend they're honeycombs, and I pretend houses are honeycombs too. I like the honey in them. Honey comes from honeybees. Not all bees, honeybees. They get nectar from a flower. And they mix the honey and they put the honey in the wheel and they turn it. And then they put the honey in little bowls, and they make honey cookies. That's what they do, and then they eat them." (Who eats them? I ask.) "Me! Everybody!"

(At this point, Sophie makes screechy noises like a bat and wraps herself up in a blanket.)"I was baked in a pie.... I was baked in a pie. Grover fell on the pie, in the pie. I'm Grover!"

And people wonder why I'm so tired all the time....

Friday, November 10, 2006

friday sharing: Sophie presents the letter V

For anyone who missed it the first time - it bears repeating. Sophie was a few months shy of 3 when we made this movie, and Petey and Angela were 1 and change. This still cracks us up and the kids ask to watch it all the time!

Click the image or here to watch the movie.

Longing for more kid pics? Check them out pumpkin picking and trick or treating.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Don't ask.

Gather around, children, and get a life lesson over here. I'm about to impart a little bit of wisdom that you (or someone else on the receiving end) will be thankful for, for the rest of your life.

There are times in life where you, well meaning and slightly curious, will want to know something about someone else's life. I used to ask these questions myself until I learned better. I'm here to tell you some questions that you do not ever ask:

When are you getting married? (Or, the variation, When are you two finally getting married already?) There is a strong possibility that one person in the relationship wants to, and the other likes things fine the way they are, and it's rather painful to talk about. Or maybe they have been talking about it, and they really don't feel the need to share it with you. Or maybe he's going to propose next week and would really like you to shut up about it already. Bottom line, this is none of your business. You will know when they're getting married when they tell you about it. I think a good answer for this would be, "Tuesday." and then when the questioner is struggling to answer, you either walk away or say "We'll let you know," and end it there.

When are you having a baby? See above. Couple this with the fact that the people in question may be trying desperately to have a baby, and don't need you pointing out the fact to them. They know already. Your telling a woman that she should really have a child before she's 35 does absolutely nothing to help the situation. As if the couple is going to turn to each other and say, "Yes! You're absolutely right! We DO need to have a baby - let's start one right now! Thank you! Thank you!" The Tuesday answer above would be appropriate in this situation.

The flip side to this is the couple who does not plan on having children, which is also perfectly fine, and should not have to be defended.

Are you going to have any more kids? I have been asked all of the above questions, but this is the one everyone asks me now. You would not believe how many people, well-meaning, ask me this. People I meet on the street, even. And a few who actually ask if I'm using birth control.

I would like to report that I've said, "Tuesday" defiantly to the people who have asked. But this is the hard part - the people who ask me are usually good friends; people who know how hard it's been to have so many so close together. They mean well. And, "Well, it really isn't any of your business," as much as I'd like to say it, just will not come out of my mouth. So I usually say, "Let's see what God sends us." which is sort of vague enough to not really be an answer without saying, "I'm not telling you, or anyone for that matter."

So... have you been asked these questions, and what have you said in return? What do you wish you said?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Today is my brother’s birthday, who many of you know but have no idea is my brother. I think he is a super-genius. (Actually, he’s a member of Mensa, so maybe he is a super-genius!) He features his weirder nature on his blog, and I think doesn’t show as much of the sweetness and caring that goes into his whole being. Whereas I tend to post about a lot of sweet stuff, and hardly post at all about weirdness. It's there, I just don't blog about it. :)

We used to dress in matching sweaters and tell people we were twins, when we weren’t killing each other and devising new plans to make the other’s life miserable. It took the two of us living very far away from each other to really become friends – he joined the army, I went to college, and we made a lot of long-distance calls and sent wacky letters. My parents still have one in a photo album where I had sent a letter to him in the army. On the front of the envelope was a sticker of Captain Kirk looking all manly, and I made a balloon coming out of his mouth saying something like, “Sulu, deliver this letter at warp speed to:” and then his address. We saved it because some postal worker with a sense of humor hand-cancelled the letter with a stamp of The Enterprise, bearing some legend about boldly going where no man had gone before…

I could write about 50 posts on the subject of how he continually messed with telemarketers, his adventures as Paper Clip Man going incognito in downtown B’ville, the fact that at 17 he could grow a beard in 2 days and get served at a bar (he stopped them in time), and many of his other wacky adventures. There are things in this world that I know are so zany that only he has the same appreciation for it that I do. Paul appreciates this and says “Go share it with your brother.”

Through all the weirdness, we have always deep down loved each other. Even though Dad never got his dream of the two of us being the next Donnie and Marie to happen, Laughing Boy, you are still a little bit rock and roll. And a little bit Koozbane.

Check out my brother's movies here, and some art here.

ps ~ Yesterday was my fabulously talented and sweet brother-in-law's birthday - you can check out his music here and here and here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Puppet Up!

Please, do yourself a favor and check out Puppet Up!, the newest thing from the Henson team. It's like Who's Line is it Anyway, with puppets.

It's fresh and amazingly silly. It seems like the Henson team, after so long, is finally figuring out what they want to do and getting back into the game. Far from the embarassment of The Muppet Wizard of Oz (blecch - if you didn't see it, you didn't miss much), this is just fun. Loose. A new interpretation of what performers can do with puppets. Honestly, I think Jim would be proud.

Watch a clip here (you have to click "acknowledged" to view.)

See it on TV! Their first special is set to air on Monday, November 20, 2006 (at 11pm Eastern/Pacific) on TBS. I already have a friend who's burning me a DVD of it, as I am cable-less. Woo hoo!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Inspired by: Maira Kalman

For this week, the New York Times online is offering their Times Select articles free - so you can check out Maira Kalman's monthly illustrated tales. Everything's free; you sign up for getting the NYT in your inbox, and then you get to access Times Select for this week. And then you can see this month's witty travelogue on Paris, but also delve into the archives from months past. Fans of SARK's writing will enjoy the handwritten notes that accompany each painting. I highly recommend it. :)

From her children's books - the illustrated book of "Stay Up Late" by the Talking Heads.

I loved the illustrated Elements of Style the very first time I saw it. It's simply gorgeous.

(Sorry so short today - went to a wedding last night and have had about 4 hours of sleep. Lovely to see my family, but figured I'd type now while I was still coherent.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

How I Met the Boy

Because you asked... Many many many years ago, after I graduated from college, my bud Snowflake and I decided to keep on being roomies. We chose Westfield because it was about halfway between our two jobs. I'd never been there, but she promised I'd love it.

After we were all moved in, I started looking for a church to go to, and picked up the phone book. Regardless of the fact that there was a Catholic church across the street from me, I chose Saint Helen's and started attending. (We now look upon this as a sign of divine intervention.) Of course I wanted to join the choir! I showed up at the first meeting in September.

I sat alone all the way in the front pew, mainly because I was used to sitting in the front, and I thought that would be a good way to meet new people. Because I didn't just want to sing, I had high hopes of meeting a nice musical Catholic boy. (Mind you, I had previously dated someone who turned out to be a not-very-nice-at-all musical Catholic boy that I met in the choir, for 5 years, so this proves what an optimist I am.)

Someone slid into the pew next to me, and the meeting started up. There was a short break where we were encouraged to say hello to the person next to you, and I found out his name was Paul, he was a teacher, and for some reason, we started talking about Macintosh computers. He loved them. I casually dropped that I worked on one every day. The conversation bloomed from there. We kept sneaking peeks at each other for the rest of the meeting, and afterwards, he pressed me for my phone number. (This is not as cheesy as it sounds; he heard me sing and I invited him to out next gig. He wanted to call me "for directions." Yeah, right!)

For the next few days, I gushed about Paul, the sweet boy in the choir, to anyone who would listen. One night after a rehearsal, Snowflake excitedly told me, "Go look on your bed!" My stuffed Kermit was propped up holding a sign that said, "PAUL CALLED!" and the rest was history.

ps ~ I found out later that Paul decided to sit next to me because he liked my hair (which was probably all he could see of me when he walked into the room) and that when he got home from that meeting, his mom asked if he met any pretty girls, and he told her yes!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Old School Sesame Street

We've just put the kids to bed after eagerly tearing open our latest aquisition: Sesame Street Old School Volume 1: 1969-1974. We figured we'd just watch a little bit with the kids and wound up watching the entire first episode of Sesame Street. THE FIRST EPISODE. Yes, I did some squealing. And got teary.

The bizarre thing was that the DVD opens with an animated character named Bob (who I distinctly recall as being named Christopher Clumsy, but I digress) talking about how this is nostalgia and not for today's preschoolers. Paul and I exchanged surprised glances over the kids' heads: what the hey? But after seeing 4 straight minutes about milk and where it comes from, I remembered that yes, this Sesame is nothing like today's Sesame. And darnit, I MISS IT. I will confess something here - I never stopped watching Sesame Street. I watched it from babyhood through high school, college, and in the mornings when I was getting ready for work. So after 35 straight years of Sesame Street, I know what I'm talking about.

My kids were delighted to see that at the end of the show, Sesame Street was brought to you by the letters W, S, and E, and by the numbers 2 and 3 - not the measly one letter and one number they get today. My kids love Sesame Street today with a passion, and it has its moments, but some of the charm is missing today from what it was. Whether it's the changing of the guard or the fact that the format changed, the zaniness and spirit is just not the same.

Read more about it:
Die hard fans weigh in here.
Review here.
And if you need further incentive to buy it, rumor has it that it's Elmo-free. No red menace!
Buy it here - if you buy through Muppet Central (on Amazon) supposedly you can save 25% off the regular price. And you're going to get The Electric Company sets too, aren't you? :)

Friday, November 03, 2006


This is another painting using only wine. (interestingly enough, my last painting with wine was also in November. Hmmmmm.... )

I tend to doodle in front of the tv. Actually, it had been a really long time since I painted or even drew anything, since I'm still getting over being perpetually exhausted, and I know that if I try to jump in on a project I'm supposed to be working on, I will ruin it. I need to warm up first. So I had a glass of wine (not in any way a regular occurence for me), some good Thursday tv, and children in bed. I started doodling.

Left to my own devices, I will almost always doodle people. I like people. I like faces, and I like to draw hair. Half the time my doodles turn fantastic, which is not at all strange if you know me. Girls sprout wings or antennae or are tinier than a teacup. So in this case, the doodle started with the eyes, and I wanted really dramatic, vampy eyes. So I did huge eyelashes. When it started to come together for me was when I realized the eyes shouldn't be gazing off to the left, but as far right as I could; looking at you, or something beyond you. The second change I made that made me like it more was when I erased the mouth and made it a tiny pout - ala Anchal from ANTM, I love her - and then I realized that I didn't want hair, I wanted flower petals. Then it started shaping up into something... I don't know what, but interesting, and not pretty. Pretty interesting.

About painting with wine: wine's a fickle, imprecise mistress. It goes where it wants. You can do wash after wash with it and have no idea how dark it will be until it dries. I was impatient and splashed it on rather generously - when I went to bed I left it with beads of wine on the speckles of the lily petals, and on the mouth - that was a big bubble of wine waiting to be absorbed into the paper. I would have liked the mouth much lighter, and the petals don't have the "this is a flower"-ness I was hoping for, being monochromatic and all. I may do it again in watercolour, with bright orange, or even white and maroon petals. But did I accomplish what I wanted - to loosen up with a sketch and get in the painting frame of mind again? Heck yesh.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Every Day in November {NaBloPoMo}

I've decided to join NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month - as a way to kick the old blogging butt into gear. Remember back in May when I was posting every day? Well, I don't promise a new painting every day, but there will be something new every single day.

So... my question is, what do you want to hear about? I'm accepting any and all ideas for posts. I have quite a few of my own, thank you, but if there's a burning question you want answered, or just "more paintings, darnit!", now's the time to speak up.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

There's Nothing We Women Can't Be

I was doing my regular search on YouTube for vintage Sesame Street clips when I came across this gem - sadly, only in Dutch, but I'm putting the lyrics here so you can see both. (Or call me, and I'll sing it to you.)

Anyway, I was singing this to the kids when Paul and I realized that, thank God, we don't HAVE to teach them that women can be any kind of job in the world. Because they don't even think about it - Sophie has wanted to be an astronaut, and now an artist, for ages. They know women who are doctors, and all sorts of other jobs. The message planted in our little pink heads in the 70s worked; I grew up believing no goal was beyond my grasp as a female and that I could do it, and have a family, too. Is it hard work? Heck, yesh. But the point is that one generation later, nobody even questions that women have a place in the workplace other than as a nurse, or teacher. Now if we could just get equal pay....

Anyway, watch and enjoy. And sing along!

Women can fly way up high on trapezes
Women can be rollerskaters
Women can help to find cures for diseases
Women can hunt alligators

Pilots and poets, policewomen too
Look at the things that we women can do

We can be clowns
We can be cooks
We can be bus drivers
We can write books

Just look around you, it's easy to see
There's nothing we women can't be

Sing it like it is, Teresa.

I used to be good with a needle and thread
I'd sew dainty dresses of blue
Then I got an urgin' to be a great surgeon
And now I sew people up, too!

Then she got an urgin' to be a great surgeon
And now she sews people up, too!

Margaret, tell 'em about the cat.

Once I had a cat that I'd try to teach tricks
A quiet and sweet little thing
But the tricks I was tryin' required a lion ...

(A lion ...! )

... and that's why I'm here in this ring!

The tricks she was tryin' required a lion
And that's why she's here in this ring!

Ohhhhh ...
I used to go bicycling far from my home
My mother would say "come back soon" (come back soon)
I travelled so fast off the earth in a blast-off ...
... now I'm on my way to the moon!

She travelled so fast off the earth in a blast-off ...
5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

Now she's on her way to the moon!
(To the moon ...!)
Women can ride up inside of a rocket
Women can be office clerkers
Women can sew things like pillows and pockets
Women can be soda jerkers

Pilots and poets, policewomen too
Look at the things that we women can do ...

We can be clowns
We can be cooks
We can be bus drivers
We can write books
We can catch fish
We can train dogs
We can climb mountains
And we can chop logs!

Just look around you, it's easy to see ...
There's nothing we women can't be!

Monday, October 23, 2006

In which I admit I do not have superpowers.

I've been completely and utterly wiped out for the past week - a combination of stress, worry, panic attacks, and oh yes, believing that I could take care of three toddlers all by myself almost every night for two months straight. (Originally we couldn't find anyone to help, then I decided I could handle everything myself!) We just found two new sitters; I started walking and doing yoga again and telling myself to take things as they come. Right now, all I'm doing is laying down as much as possible. My body has hijacked me.

The kids do not like Subdued Mama, or, as I've been the past week, Zombie Mama. They want All Singing, All Dancing, Let's Put On A Show Mama, which is what I usually am. They have to learn that mama is human too and that when she's lying on the floor exhausted, jumping up and down on top of her might not be the best idea. They're learning. But they don't like it. Neither do I.

On the good side, Angela loaned me her special Purple Pony telling me "He is very good for hugging." and Sophie told me this morning that she wants to be an artist when she grows up, "just like Mama." Maybe they know more than I think they do.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Illustration Friday: Smitten

"She is the last. She is the last unicorn in the world."

"She would be." Molly sniffed. "It would be the last unicorn in the world that came to Molly Grue." Molly said, "It's all right. I forgive you."

"Unicorns are not to be forgiven." The magician felt himself grow giddy with jealousy, not only of the touch but of something like a secret that was moving between Molly and the unicorn. "Unicorns are for beginnings," he said, "for innocence and purity, for newness. Unicorns are for young girls."

Molly was stroking the unicorn's throat as timidly as though she were blind. She dried her grimy tears on the white mane. "You don't know much about unicorns," she said.

~ The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle.
One of my favorite books, ever.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fun Stuff to Make: Eggrolls!

These are SO easy to make (with kids helping, even!), and kids love to eat them. All you need are:

* Eggroll wrappers (Nasoya is a good brand and has 20 wrappers)
* Soy sauce/seasoning of your choice
* Ginger (powdered is fine)
* Olive oil
* Your favorite veggies - make sure you have a cabbage in there for filler, we use a whole one
* You can also add in tofu, soy sausage, whatever you like.

Finely chop the cabbage, onions, eggplant, and mushrooms. Grate 2 carrots. Cover the bottom of a pasta pot with olive oil and add all the vegetables. (Cook ONLY veggies at this point.) Top with soy sauce and ginger, and stir everything all together. Place lid on top of pot and cook down, stirring regularly until veggies are cooked to your liking. (We liked the vegetables softer, so the veggies cooked to about half the original volume.) Let cool. If adding tofu/soy sausage, mix in now.

You will need 2 non-stick cookie sheets. Following the directions on the package of eggrolls, fill the wrappers like an envelope and place on the cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top and bake in 350-degree oven until eggrolls are golden and slightly bubbly on top. Let cool.

Serve to hungry kids with dipping sauce (soy sauce or your favorite) and rice. Reheats best in a toaster oven, as they get a bit juicy in the microwave, not that my kids minded much. :) Makes enough for a family lunch and a few snacks for mama later.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Don't Hog the Blog

As my brother mentioned once, "Don't hog the blog! Let Sophie have a post." So here it is.

Sophie painting her hand (and arm, and face) during our watercolor-salt-and-windex session.

This is a drawing Sophie drew and art directed, and I colored in (while she told me, for the most part, what to do). She's really into birds right now, and I just love their expressions - big grins, little tweets, and flying in from the side. As I began to color in the biggest bird to the left, she leaned over and said, "That's the inside of his beak, you know?" And the funny part was, I did know, I could tell exactly what it was supposed to look like.

I happen to think this is pretty darn great for a 3.5 year old, but what do I know? I have a slight bias. :)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


As promised from this and this post, a swatch page to try out watercolour techniques. Winsor-Newton (my paint), Crayola (my kids' paint), windex, salt, crayons, and plastic bags all make an appearance. These were on watercolour paper, and I actually like the way they come out on plain old copier paper just as well.

Enjoy, go experiment, and let me know how it all works out!

(Click image to enlarge)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Illustration Friday: Quiet

Done in a quiet afternoon painting with Sophie, while the twins were napping. Just like with this painting, I used leaves from my yard, crayons, copier paper, cheapo Crayola pan watercolors, table salt, rock salt, and Windex. I tried last night to do this with good supplies and wasn't too happy with the results - next step is making a grid and testing swatches and effects to see which ones work and which don't.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Estatic Painting

I'm reading The Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living. There's an entry in there about spending 10 minutes each day doing something you feel estatic about. So this was my 10 minutes for yesterday (which of course turned into more than 10 minutes!)

I painted this yesterday during a painting session with Sophie - it's leaf rubbings (2 oak leaves and an ivy leaf from our yard), crayon, children's Crayola pan watercolors, on regular Staples copy paper. The wax in the crayon resists the watercolor, so it takes a little planning, but it's fun. No pencils, no erasing, no drawing, just lots of paint.

Then, to make it more interesting, I threw on some salt, and then squirted it with Windex. The salt and ammonia leach the color out of the paper in splatters that I think help make it look more organic. Not sure what would happen if I did this with good watercolors and real watercolor paper, but that's next on my list of experiments. :)

(I should note that while I was doing this, across the table, Sophie was busy painting her entire arm and part of her face black. She had already done 5 paintings and decided it was time to move on to something else. Yes, I took pictures.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When it's Hard to Draw

I would love to write about being a mom and drawing with kids, but right now, frankly, it's hard to draw. Because of our family's work schedules, the kids are solely mine from lunch until 10:30 at night. I used to have helpers 5 evenings a week, now I only have one, one night a week. So at the end of a typical day with two teething twins, a precocious three year old, lots of whining (from them), cajoling (from me - they are still not potty trained and our oldest is fighting it with a vengeance), general willfullness, dinner, cleanup, a walk, board games, three bedtime stories later (not to mention prayers, brushing of teeth, etc.) - when all this is done and Paul is still teaching, I grab the kids' monitors and head for my sanctuary. My studio. The Tower.

It's a finshed attic, with slanted ceilings from being right under the roof, lumpy brown carpeting, and a tiny nook with a futon and little TV in it. Empty tea mugs gather around on the floor like a small crowd waiting expectantly for something to happen, for some great masterpiece to take place. I feel a tremendous sense of expectation - from nobody other than myself, mind you - to create something fabulous.

I let it go.

Creativity comes in waves for me. I have to accept that there are nights - and sometimes it may be for a whole week - that I am not going to paint, because I'm just too darn tired. I try to keep other projects on hand for times like this. I knit. I crochet. I doodle. I make lists - all pressure-free, creative things. I (gasp!) sometimes even throw in the towel and go to bed early for some much-needed rest so that I'll have an extra reserve for tomorrow's adventures.

Nobody ever promised motherhood would be easy. All I know is that I need to create to live, and that if I skimp on art, I am a cranky mama. If I am cranky with the kids, I don't feel like making art. An artist's date every week doesn't hurt either. It's a daily balancing act I've learned to live with and embrace - I can't imagine a fuller, richer life than the one I'm living now. I'll catch up on sleep next year.

Monday, September 25, 2006

How I spent my Saturday

My extremely talented brother-in-law is making a children's album, and had me sing backup on one of the songs.

I used to record on a regular basis, but it's been years, and after singing with a group, I was also not used to being the only person in front of the microphone. There's also a world of difference between singing weekly in church, and belting out a funky dance number in a recroding studio. So after I got over the stressing out, the perfectionism (mine!) and remembered that, hello, I can make mistakes, we'll just record over them - then I loosened up and had fun. I got to make up all the harmonies, and threw in extra bits in the middle - when I came out with, "Go boogie, dancing grandma", we both almost started snorting. :) If you can't be silly on a kid's album, where can you do it?