Here's a Valentine's Day story playlist for your little ones!
What a sweet book.
I'm a big fan of Emily Martin's illustrations. My girls have several of her prints in their rooms. They're whimsical without being too saccharine, and I adore her soft palette and attention to details.
It would have been Theodor Geisel's 113th birthday today.
Thanks for all the wildly imaginative stories.
Here was one of my favorites from when I was a little girl. "What Was I Scared Of?" (I always called it "Pale Green Pants".)
Did you have a good Christmas? This one was particularly nice for our family. My girls are at a great age to really enjoy the holiday.
Oh, my sweet, sweet daughters. See that green dress? My mom crocheted that for me when I was little. I wore it on my first day of kindergarten with cowboy boots.
They're bundled up for school, so excited for Christmas break to begin. So many holiday parties, then finally home!
This was Piper's first year to really help with ornaments.
This has to be one of the best days of the year. Violet is really good at decorating. I'm glad she likes to help!
Adam puts his train from when he was a little boy around the base of the tree. The girls set up the snow village this year...they did a good job!
I love those German Christmas pyramids. We add extra candles around the base so it zooms around fast.
Nom! Our traditional Christmas breakfast....salmon and bagels with fruit and mimosas (for grownups)
Then one foggy Christmas Eve...
We have an owl! I get so excited when an owl moves into one of our boxes. I always have my fingers crossed for an owl. One year, a rude duck moved in. What was he thinking??? I don't even know how that duck squeezed itself into the box. It seemed way too small for him.
The soft hooting of an owl mixed with wind blowing through the leaves sounds like home.
The girls worked on gingerbread houses for HOURS.
The gingerbread houses were a big hit. We'll definitely do this again next year.
Making sausage! It's such a chore, but Adam is good at it. The pork is from wild hogs from our place. I like them with extra garlic and jalapenos.
Pigs 'n blankets....homemade beef & wild hog sausage and homemade yeast dough.
We make them every year. Next year we may try making mustard, too.
Adam thought one of the pigs in blankets looked like a baby Ewok.
I don't know what Adam was doing, but this is our celebratory Swiss cheese! We get a little wheel of it every year to eat on Christmas Day.
Cat jammies! We always get matching pajamas for Christmas.
Stringing popcorn and cranberries. I gave my youngest daughter a real needle and she only stuck herself once.
We also used apple jacks to make garlands.
They both ate a bunch of the cranberries. So tart.
It's our Nature Tree! We decorate a small tree for the animals. We even made a star out of toast for the top. By the next morning, almost everything had been eaten.
Our friend Marcia sent us this pretty hand embroidered tablecloth. It's so intricate...it must have taken weeks to make, if not months.
Paintings wrapped up and ready to go to their new homes for Christmas. It's so satisfying to paint for people....I feel like an elf!
Our Girl Scouts troop won 3rd place in our local Christmas parade. We had a Night Before Christmas theme. It was brrrrrr cold-thank goodness we all wore warm jammies. I like any event where the costume is pajamas.
Not really reindeer in the meadow, but we like to pretend. Now I need to put away the last few decorations. I'll think I have everything done, then I find some random Santa or tiny tree. Does that happen to you, to0?
In the children's book illustration class I'm taking, there are 3 texts for us to illustrate. One of them is Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat.
I've always loved Lear's poem, but didn't relate to the song versions of it. I imagined it as a dreamy and romantic waltz...I wanted the music to make you feel like you were floating in that little pea green boat with your love.
So I wrote a song version, and also created a video to share some of the illustrations from the other artists in the group. Thanks to everyone who was kind enough to share their work for me to use in the video.
music written & performed by Laura Irrgang laurairrgang.com
art by the following:
Leah Quinn- www.leahquinndesigns.com
Cata Bass- www.catalinavillegasa.com
Aafke Mertens www.curlysketches.nl
Kelly Kratzing www.kellykratzing.com
Jodi Bogart- www.facebook.com/jodi.anthony.1
Wendy Bauer Piersall- www.wendypiersall.com
Lynn Gaines- www.lynngainesdesign.com
Liz DeJure Wood- www.artdejure.com
Lisa Groome Firke www.facebook.com/LisaFirkeMakes
Brooke Wenstrup Albrecht- www.brookealbrechtstudio.com
Jennifer Geldard- www.jennifergeldard.com
Halloween's blowing in, and it finally feels like autumn is here! Which, in Texas, means that it's finally in the 80s.
We have butterflies all around the pumpkins, and it's finally getting cool enough to open the windows at night. Is there anything better than a soft breeze and the sound of crickets, coyotes, and owls while you sleep?
I'm spending a lot of time in the studio painting and drawing for a children's book illustration class. The Halloween Room is one of my favorite places in October. All those stripes make me happy.
When I start for the day, I'll go in, look up where all the stripes meet, and turn in a circle. It makes me dizzy, and that always makes me giggle a little. Sometimes I'll give the butterly/owl/bat mobile a gentle push and watch it sway. It's like the little creatures are saying hello and swishing some nice ideas towards my brain with their wings.
I usually decorate slowly for seasons...a thing here or there every few days.
Take something down, put something else up. It's a slow progression...kind of a quiet meditation on the seasons.
Trucks show up to pick up load after load of hay. The trees are starting to turn, but it's slow and subtle. I watch the leaves like a hawk, so I notice. It's not the fireworks you get in New England, but I'll take it.
I let the girls choose our costumes. We're the "Amazing Irrgang Bat Circus". They even have a little circus routine where they fly through the hoop and everything! Those kids.
I made that orange pillow last year and still get a little thrill when I see all those orange ruffles. It was the first time I'd tried singe-hemming...you can see how I did it here in this video.
Some recent gnoshing...mussels with garlic, autumn beans over farro, and butternut squash soup with chives and sour cream.
This is a warm-up project for the children's book illustrating course I'm taking. We were asked to draw a pencil in 3 flat colors (counting black as a color). You wouldn't believe how many different ways people can draw a pencil. MATS is the name of the course, so I decided that would be their school name, and Scribblers seemed like a good mascot for the course.
P.S. His last name is Ticonderoga.
I am already loving the "Illustrating Children's Books" course from art agent Lilla Rogers and children's book editor Zoe Tucker, and it hasn't even officially started yet! It sold out, so I'm glad I signed up early.
One of our first warm-up assignments asked us to work with character, illustrate the setting outside our bedroom window, and play with the idea of scale. I combined all of these into a short text I wrote called "Minette and O'Malley", and also recorded voice-overs and music to go along with it.
Minette- Violet Irrgang
Narrator- Laura Irrgang
O'Malley the Snail- Adam Irrgang
We made healthy oatmeal packs for breakfast. My family loves instant oatmeal, but they have a ton of sugar in them, so we tried a homemade version instead.
I used snack sized zip-lock bags, and added 1/2 cup of quick cook oats, 2 tsp stevia, and then a mix of dried fruits, spices, and nuts. Add 1 cup milk or water, microwave 1 1/2 minutes, then eat!
They took me forever to make---look at that mess---but I bet it goes faster next time.
Aaaand some not-as-healthy breakfast choices. :) My youngest daughter asked for "Pancakes that look like the three little bears." So there you go!
The Girl Scouts had a blast at Lake Tawakoni State Park located in Wills Point, Texas.
We heard a great nature talk and went for a hike.
Park Rangers Bill Pelfrey and Scott Eager led a presentation on the wildlife in the park and identifying tracks and scat. During our hike through the woods, they showed us bat and bluebird boxes, prairie restoration areas, and many other distinguishing features of their park.
Violet really liked the little rubbery paw models. They showed a super detailed version of raccoon, possum, squirrel paws, etc. Park Ranger Bill does a great owl call, by the way. A neighboring troop also joined us for the day. It was fun to spend time with some "sister scouts".
Our troop had the honor of naming this taxidermied squirrel. Allow me to present...Scout!
The girls were fascinated with all the little bits and bobs.
The park has a nice amphitheater along the edge of the lake. We also had the chance to view an area where the park has ongoing prairie restoration, where they have large meadows of native grasses.
The park is home to the world's largest documented spider web. It was over 200 yards-Isn't that crazy? Here's an article about it in Science Daily.
They even had a snake head in a jar!
Park Ranger Eager showed us many interesting park features, like these mushrooms that grow on trees. These particular types are called conks, and they indicate that the tree is unhealthy. Here is an article about conks if you want to learn more.
The rangers had a fun craft for the girls. They each got a wooden disc, and then chose an animal track stamp. They ended up looking similar to this:
The weather was wonderful...in the seventies, and the setting sun burst through the trees.
The park rangers showed us where a wildfire had swept through portions of the woodlands. They talked to the girls about preventing fires, and how to recognize residual damage from fires.
Can't get enough of that squirrel.
I don't know why everyone doesn't go to a state or national park every single weekend. Our parks are amazing! Get thee to the park nearest you. Seriously. Git.
Here is "Big Bertha", an enormous tree that fell that the park keeps as a habitat and food source for insects.
Park Ranger Eager explained to how to gauge a tree's age by counting tree rings, and how to tell when it was a flood or drought year.
The park offers a free fishing event for kids in the early spring. They stock a pond, provide all the equipment, and have prizes from Bass Pro Shop. There is also an archery program. We'll be back.
We can't wait to see you again soon, Scout!
Our Girl Scouts troop participated in World Thinking Day. All the troops in our area chose a country and set up a table display sharing things they learned about each country. This included a sample of food and drink, games, costumes, traditions, songs, and information about the Girl Scouts from their country. The girls got a passport and "traveled" to each country to get their passport stamped.
It's almost Turkey Time, guys! If you're in the mood for a story or need to keep the little ones busy while you clean or cook, check out my Thanksgiving storytime videos. I've also included links to my review of each book if you're into that sort of thing.
"Run Turkey, Run!"
by Diane Mayr
Illustrated by Laura Rader
(For my book review and more story info, click here.)
by Wendy Silvano
Illustrated by Lee Harper
(For my book review and more story info, click here.)
"The Very First Thanksgiving Day"
by Rhonda Gowler Green
Illustrated by Susan Gaber
(For my book review and more story info, click here.)
"Thanksgiving Is Here"
by Diane Goode
(For my book review and more story info, click here.)
"Thanks for Thanksgiving"
by David Milgrim
(For my book review and more story info, click here.)
"Thanks for Thanksgiving"
by Julie Markes
illustrated by Doris Barrette
(For my book review and more story info, click here.)
Halloween comes and goes so fast! Our calendar was crammed full this year. Parties, carnivals, costumes, and way too much candy.
Piper's class got to scoop out the insides of a pumpkin. I did that when I was little, too! The smell of pumpkin guts snaps me right back to kindergarten.
We were a family of bunnies, and Adam was Farmer McGregor.
Uh oh...he got the littlest bunny!
When I woke up on Haloween, the girls had already dressed themselves for a (in their words) our special Halloween breakfast. That I got to cook for them. Ahem.
Pinata madness at a friend's party. We let the girls have all the candy they want on Halloween. It's one day a year. Piper went kind of insane....she jumped up and down beside the trampoline-not on it-, bit her sister, peed in her pants, then cried when we took away the gummy worms. Ah, Halloween!
That sugar rush is real, y'all.
Guess who got sprayed by a skunk on Halloween morning? Mooskies, that's who. He's so ashamed he can't even look at the camera. After much shampoo and vinegar he's bearable. But just barely.
It was a cloudy, rainy night. The leaves were skittering across the pavement in the wind.
Piper's class is so full of cuties I could squeal.
How was YOUR Halloween? Photos, please.
I'm trying to hurry up and get all my summer stuff posted. Ha! Guess that didn't work, seeing as how it's the middle of September.
Violet and I are sitting in front of the 1877 tall ship, Elissa. It was fun to eat seafood with an enormous, pretty ship next to the patio.
(More info here if you're into tall ships.)
My little darlings sharing a hug. I dress them alike when we travel so it's easier for everyone to find each other in a crowd.
Adam and I spent a day riding our tandem around Galveston. Our friends Megan and David came with us this year and watched the girls while we played. I've always wanted to go tour Galveston's grand old homes.
We started at the Bishop's Palace. Amazing.
The Moody Mansion.
Old homes make me swoon. We spent a good part of the day riding through the historic homes district, then back along the seawall.
I usually make everyone their cake, but since we were traveling, I picked up a day-glo Little Mermaid cake from the grocery store.
She's three, people. My baby is THREE.
I got them dolls that looked like them, down to the clothes. I gave Violet a gift, too, since it's hard to be a little kid and watch someone else open theirs. And that way, they could play with their dolls together.
I spent a ridiculous (did I mention RIDICULOUS) amount of time searching for dolls that looked like them. Happily enough, the doll's face that most resembled Piper is a pretty inexpensive one from Target. The doll body and face that looked most like Violet was much harder to find. It's a ball-jointed-doll, which is cool, and is a Best Friend's Club doll, and they don't make them any more. I watched eBay for MONTHS to find the one that had her same coloring. Then I had to get them matching outfits. Because it's more fun when your doll is dressed just like you.
We LOVE stopping at La King's Confectionery. It's fun to watch them pull toffee.
This candy store is so impressive. PLEASE stop by if you're ever in Galveston. You won't be disappointed.
And the beach, obviously. But I didn't take many photos because we were too busy playing.
Violet is off to first grade! I'm letting her choose some of her own outfits this year. (Wish us luck, I'm a control freak with clothes-*sigh*.) Piper is switching back and forth between lonely and being happy she has all the toys to herself. She was pretty dang happy when it was time to go pick Violet up at the bus stop.
Here's them at the public library this summer-they had a superhero theme.
They look less than thrilled, but they were having a good time. Violet was saying something like, "Aw, but I don't wanna fight the evil genius, Piper."
And our guinea girls are adorable. That's all.
I made "Iceberg Treasures"!
Such a hot day.
We let them free the frozen things using spray bottles, paint brushes, forks, and salt.
Dinosaurs live in icebergs, right? RIGHT? It kept them busy a long time-yay!
In the end, we dunked two of them in the kiddie pool to help get the goodies out.
Since it was 104 that day, it was a nice way to cool off.
TREASURE ICEBERGS DIY:
1. Find a few plastic containers-salad bowl, shoe box sized plastic box, etc. Gather up your "treasures"...I bought a few cheapo mermaids and sea creatures from Dollar Tree, used shells we already had, a few random beads and bits of jewelry, and leaves from fake flowers to make lily pads and sea weed.
2. Fill you container. 1/3 full, and add a few drops of food coloring if you want an ocean-y color. Place a few things randomly on the bottom.
3. Place in freezer until frozen solid. Tip-make sure it's totally frozen, if not, when you pour the next water layer, it will crack and the next layer of treasures will sink to the bottom.
4. Add more water until the container is 2/3 full, add food coloring and more trinkets. Freeze.
5. Repeat with the final layer.
I bought a vintage book a few years ago that was in a foreign language because I loved the illustrations. Some friends that speak Danish translated it for me recently. It's called something like, "The Tale of the Teeny Tiny Old Woman".
As an art exercise, I sometimes make sketches/paintings "in the style of" an artist I like. This artist had such a nice use of line, and I liked the circular composition.
Today, I made a quick sketch and watercolor that reflects the style in this charming vintage children's book from Scandinavia. Next time, I think I'd rather use ink instead of pencil. That way, your eye would be more drawn to the line work.
I didn't ask her to, but my daughter Violet decided to try it, too. I like her version a lot...it features our deceased cat, Clyde, asking for some hot cocoa. In the mirror above the mantle, there is a reflection of our ceiling fan.
Once upon a time there was a little little old woman who had a little little cottage.
My daughters always want to "play makeup", but there is no way I'm letting them loose with eye shadow and lipstick. Old wigs? Sure...knock yourselves out.
They keep asking and asking and asking. They're wearing me down! So I decided to make them some "pretend makeup".
Faux makeup...I'll talk you through it. It's easy peasy. Oh! And hang on to those cruddy brushes they give you with blush. Who uses those tiny things, anyway? You'd have a 3/4 stripe on your cheek. Hideous. But...they're great play brushes.
1.Grab some of your old makeup containers that are almost empty. Clean them out. If they're powder, just smush the extra powder and dump it out. If it's a cream, you may have to get in the corners with a q-tip.
2. Wash them with soap and water, then let them dry.
3.Fill each metal compartment with nail enamel. Let dry.
That's it! You're done. Happy kids. End of story.
My girls love it. They put makeup on our dog several times a day.
If you make some for your kids, send me your photos...I'd like to see them!
Day 20-I started making a collection of my favorite children's lullabies. When I'm done, I'm going to burn a CD for my girls.
What were your favorite lullabies as a child? Would you share them with me? I'm trying to put together a CD collection for my girls, and wondered what you guys grew up hearing. They seem to be really regional-even the lyrics are different for friends who lived in different parts of the country. I'd love to hear what your family sang to you!
Here's a sweet one:
I mentioned this friends on Facebook, but wanted to tell you guys, too. Piper's favorite song is "Jolene" by Dolly Parton (she calls her Dolly Barbie), but she totally gets the lyrics wrong. "Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Joleeeeeen...I tell you please don't take my macaroni."
Make it in May, Day 21-I made more mermaid baskets for teacher gifts. We have the best teachers at Wesley Pdo N Prek...we'll miss you guys this summer!
And I made chocolate shells. I'm usually happy with milk/dark chocolates, but I find it harder to melt the white chocolates consistently. I mixed in some fresh strawberries to give them a pinkish shell color. I thought they were fun on brown sugar...looks sort of like sand.
Day 22-Not much today, but I straightened up the fairies hanging above the reading nook. This is the view if you're lying on your back looking up. I hung them from clear filament and they'd gotten tangled up a little. It was rainy...we were lazy...it was nice.
Day 23-We made a day of it in the studio. Piper learned to make "tracks" with her toys in Playdoh, also playing with my Pee Wee Herman doll with the super sped-up voice box (that's not creepy or anything!). It cracks me up when she calls it Daddy Doll.
Violet learned to parry a little more efficiently in her fencing lesson with Adam.
I made breakfast for dinner, and I hope we won't be "making" a trip to the storm cellar tonight since a front is blowing in and the sky is kind of green. I'm also working on a decoupage suitcase, and I'm starting by clipping images from a vintage children's book.
Day 27-I made a start on my mailings to people I admire. This is the project where I'm asking people for advice on happiness and creativity in their forties.
Day 28-I'm taking a look at the grisaille technique again. That's where you do an underpainting in neutrals (usually black & white), then you paint the colored layers in with translucent glazes. I made a stab at learning how to do it a few years back, but never entirely finished my painting. I'm not crazy about the photos I worked from, but it was more of an exercise in technique than anything. I don't do a lot of self-portraits, but I use myself since it's hard to find models out here. I'm glad I tried it, but I'm not entirely pleased with it. It's okay in details, but the overall painting is a little stiff.
Day 30-It was just me and the girls for the past 3 days, so we made it a "Woodland Weekend". Violet loves to pretend we're deer from the forest...she calls me "Mother Deer" and she is my young fawn, Honeysuckle. Piper is, as Violet says, "A plump rabbit we bring around with us."
They wanted me to have "Mother Deer's Restaurant", and we decorated the table with forest stuff and had waffles with berries. We pretend the field mice are in charge of picking berries early in the morning, and the fairies bring the whipped cream.
Day 31-I made Mermaid Accessories!
Make it in May, Day #1-I wrote a quick song on xylophone to get started.
I'm a big fan of Mister Rogers, and I wrote a song that sounded like something cheerful you might hear in Trolley Land.
Day 3- Honeysuckle smells GREAT! I wear this in the spring and summer. Well, I switch perfumes a lot, but this stays in the rotation.
Day 6-Over forty ladies, many of you are on my list! Share them pearls of wisdom, yee haw!
Day #7-We made soap "scrimshaw" carvings with my daughter's group in kindergarten. We carved the soap with toothpicks, then ground up burned wood to make charcoal dust, then smushed it in the carved areas. Mine above, Violet's below-I love Mama Daughter projects!
Day 8-It may be too small by the time fall rolls around, but I'm glad to be close to done. And that yarn makes me look forward to autumn.
Day 11-I made another storytime video to add to my YouTube series. This is Piper's favorite story lately.
Day 12-We made photos at Violet's school's Spring Fling.
They had an open house and set up photo booths outside every class. Great job, LOISD teachers!
Make it in May, Day 16...I finished the poster for my daughter's kindergarten class. It's not perfect because I'm far from a Photoshop expert, but I did the best I could.
Then I cropped all the photos in Photoshop and stacked them together, Brady Bunch-style.
Day 17-Violet and I made cards and small treat bags for her kindergarten's end-of-the-year picnic.
Day 18-I wrote a song to sing and play on harp to accompany Edward Lear's poem "The Owl and the Pussycat". (I'll record it one of these days and share it.) I visited my daughter's kindergarten, and their lovely teacher turned the pages of Jan Brett's book while I played. I came at snack time, so I made blueberry muffins and brought clementines. It was fun to sing some songs, and teach the kids a few that they could sing along with. They're such a happy group!
Day 19-We made supply boxes for some of the victims of the tornado in Van, Texas. It felt disrespectful to take photos while we were there, so I'll share some images of the destruction and clean-up effort I found on Van Texas Tornado Recovery. The community still needs aid and volunteers.
Day 21-Didn't make much, but it was my daughter's kindergarten graduation, then she got out of school all day and we had a Mama-Daughter Day. It was Date Night, so Adam and I are picking blackberries on our country road. I could eat ALL the blackberries...blackberry ice cream, blackberry cobbler, blackberry port, blackberry jam, blackberry smoothies, blackberry EVERYTHING!
I'll share the rest the rest soon!
Whew! I'm kind of wiped out from end of year stuff with school. How about you guys? Things speed up in May for us.
Piper's been making some fun stuff at her preschool. We're going to miss them this summer.
Violet's elementary had a field day. She's on the far right.
I'll tell you more about this demon creature in another post.
Do any of you read Kristen Lamb's blog? She always give me a much-needed kick in the pants. (Click here to visit Kristen.) Today, she talked about "dips"-those low points before you succeed.
No, not that kind of dip. But man, that looks delicious.
I particularly appreciated this:
"The only way to get out of ever dealing with dips is to just drift along on the tides of mediocrity and ambivalence. If we are experiencing dips, it means we are still pressing for something better."
I needed that today, Kristen-thanks!
Whatever you guys are doing today, please join me in doing it with enthusiasm. Especially if we fail. If we're failing, it's because we're trying. I want my kids to see that, too. I don't want to raise daughters who are afraid to try. So, as un-fun as it is to fail, I'm going to try to embrace that more often.
Today's fail? Photography. I tried out some new settings today and they looked kind of crappy. But...I think I learned something at least. Hopefully my shots will look better tomorrow.
What did you fail, I mean pre-win, at today?
Spring is most definitely here, and I find myself needing any extra time to recuperate and enjoy things. My family, sneaking in an hour of reading at bedtime, snuggling just a little longer with the girls.
For you guys, how often do you want to document (photo, blog, journal) and how often do you want to just be in the moment? I have swings of wanting to snap away and share, but lately I've wanted to just be.
Did I ever show y'all what I made Piper for Christmas? She has several of those vintage Fisher Price houses, so I made a peg doll version of our family. We really like those old houses...so sturdy, but the accessories and dolls are usually missing. These are someone else's photos of the houses, but you get the idea.
I love all the 1970s details. Reminds me of my grandparents' homes.
Our castle was totally empty, but it was $1.00. Yay for $1.00 castles!
So...the blank wooden peg dolls are available at most craft stores. I found mine at Hobby Lobby. They have male and female shapes.
Then, I did my best to paint them like us. I had Adam drill a small hole in the bottom of each. This has two purposes: 1. It makes them "lock" into most toys that have a peg to put dolls on. 2. It makes them easier to paint. I stuck a cake skewer in the bottom so that I didn't have paint all over my holding hand.
Turn around dolls. Thanks. I sealed them with several coats of water based acrylic. So far, the paint still looks nice even though they get a lot of play time.
There we are! I fly the Hello Kitty plane and Daddy guards the castle. Piper spends a lot of time playing with them. She tucks us all in at night, isn't that nice?
Ever wonder what goes on in a six year old's brain? Well, I think it's close to this:
Here's a link to Violet's Pinterest board. She loves to look at Pinterest with me, so I decided to let her have her own page. She's crazy about it! We'll be out and about, and she'll yell, "I've got to put that on my Pinterest!"
We had a few flurries in February. If you live up north, I'm sure your think our snows are "cute", but we really like them.
Southern kids always have wonky snow gear, huh? I let them pick their own.
They rush back inside for cocoa, and have tense negotiations over who gets to hold Squirrel Baby.
Wasn't she just a baby like five minutes ago?
Violet seems so grown up, too. Wah. But yay! But wah.
I'm grateful for these two who get along so well. And point hats. And nose rubs, or "bunny kisses", as we call them.
February went fast, didn't it?
Nothin' says lovin' like the Jurassic period.
I made a whole batch of "Dinosaurs in Love" for Violet's Valentine's Day party.
I'm coordinating a party with all 4 kindergarten classes together...wish me luck! I've been really fortunate-this is one volunteering group of parents. They all sign up to help and seem happy to be there...yay!
Violet's class will make card holders out of big food canisters, so they'll look kind of like this. Oh boy...Valentine cards! I loved making a shoe box for mail when I was in school. I could barely sleep the night before, wondering what kind of cards I'd get. I always picked out the nicest card for the cute guy in our class, and I tried to make my friends' cards extra special. I'd bring them home and spend hours looking at every single one. Did you get all silly over Valentine's Day, too? Tell me I'm not alone.
That tiny ring was hard to make. So. Many. Glue. Burns.
Didn't we all grow up thinking that noodle slurping scene from Lady and the Tramp was soooo romantic? The spaghetti is embroidery thread and the sauce is nail polish.
T-Rex looks so happy to be getting his cards, doesn't he?
Dino Prom! He has a bow tie to match her hair bow. He's presenting a corsage to her. Adam didn't get it. My husband said he's NEVER in his life bought a corsage for a girl. Pssst...I'll let you pin one on me any day.
"Bye, Honey-have a nice day!"
I like long term, real life, husband/wife/family love best of all! There's no place I'd rather be than with Adam and my girls.
Baby Triceratops even has on a diaper, but you can't see it in this photo.
Gettin' pretty. I think she's going to need a lot of work.
Hot glue is our friend. Seriously...is there anything hot glue can't do?
Getting hungry yet?
"I'm so glad you called!"
Here's old Aunt Jane Austengosaurus penning her love poems. I made the pencil out of a toothpick and used a printer to reduce real Valentines and envelopes to teeny tiny scale.
Holding hands. Aaaaaw.
"I'd kiss me," thinks Velociraptor.
Adam came up with the tail hole. Thanks, honey.
I don't know if you can see it, but I wrote "Max Raptor" on the lipstick. Like "Max Factor"...get it? GET IT PEOPLE???? I think I've inhaled too much hot glue. Can you even do that?
I hope you and the hug-and-smooch-worthy people in your life have a fabulous Valentine's Day!
Did I ever show you guys this?
I think I asked you to guess what all this junk was going to magically transform into to.
Yay for recycling! It wasn't perfect, but we only have 30 minutes to set up everything for their parties, from decorations to food. So....simple and quick is necessary.
I think they had fun. Man it gets crazy with 12 classes in a cafeteria, add parents and it's extra noisy.
I also made some "snow globes" with salt, upside down salad bowls, mini trees, and cake toppers. These are shamefully blurry.
I get a little verklempt when holidays are over, do you?
Have you ever seen those crazy parades in Austria around Christmas where people dressed like Krampus walk down the streets scaring kids? Terrifying!
According to National Geographic:
"Krampus was created as a counterpart to kindly St. Nicholas, who rewarded children with sweets. Krampus, in contrast, would swat "wicked" children and take them away to his lair."
Anyhoo-I'm raising children who like to be stuffed in a sack. They think it's fun! Like I've said before, go ahead and send me money for a therapy fund if you want to. They'll probably need it.
VIolet squeals, "Daddy, daddy-wrap me up in the sack and run!"
What a good father you are, Adam.
And there they go! Notice how not cold Christmas is in Texas?
He ran off to the woods and dumped her. Good times.
Piper rolled herself up in her blanket, all ready to go. "My turn next, Daddy." She waited so patiently.
What am I going to do with these two?
We're not Swedish or Catholic (although I probably should have been), but we celebrate St. Lucia Day on December 13th. The Swedes choose a girl from each home/village to be that year's St. Lucy. In a home setting, it's the oldest daughter still living at home. She wears a crown of real or fake candles, and leads a procession through the darkened house, symbolically bringing light back in the dark of winter. The real St. Lucy was a martyr who met an unfortunate death. Some versions say her eyes were plucked out-eeeek! We skip over that part and go straight for the cookies.
All the kids wear white clothes and red sashes, and the younger siblings are "star girls". Or boys. They serve their parents special pepparkakor cakes and coffee, which are like spicy gingerbread cookies. In our house, the girls sing Santa Lucia while I play harp. This year, Violet sang while Piper did a dance. If you contact me privately, I'll share the video if you want to see it.
Look who snatched that crown the second her sister wasn't looking!
This was the first year we chopped down trees we planted. This is the tree in the studio. I've never had a tall tree before-it seemed like a fun luxury. I had to use a ladder to decorate it.
I decorated it with dolls riding in different sleds and carriages and things. It was our "girl tree".
If I decided anyone was dressed inappropriately, I made them "snow suits" out of quilt batting. There. Doesn't he look better now?
The dolls taking a ride around the base of the tree.
This one sings When You Wish Upon A Star.
I had an old carousel horse/riding toy I finally painted. I couldn't decide between gold and silver. The gold paint gave me better coverage, so gold won.
My Fiesta Room.
More Fiesta Room. Can't get enough Fiesta Room.
The studio is my happy place.
Our friend Magic Mouse (he lives in the wall behind the red door) sent us a gift. He said he was working in New York and found this mouse replica he thought we'd like. It plays a bunch of different Christmas carols and sings. We discovered Magic Mouse is an antiques dealer, so he travels a lot for work.
Little bits of green.
I have four David Delamare Fairy Processional prints...one for spring, summer, autumn, and winter. This is the winter version. I look forward to switching them out every time the seasons change.
I can't believe this was a year ago. Last year, I took Violet to see The Nutcracker. Someone was teasing me about dressing all of us in matching outfits. What are you talking about, Amy? I would never...oh, wait. I look like an overstuffed polar bear, but it was cozy. It looks like Violet is throwing gang signs. I figure I'll only have one or two more years of Mommy & Me outfits before my children say NO.
Violet was so itty bitty. Why are my babies growing up?
Waaaah! Christmas is over for another year. I'd better get busy enjoying January. I feel like it's always half over before I'll allow myself to realize it's a new year.
I thought I'd try to post some holiday photos before it got too far away from Christmas.
Piper and I visited Violet's school-isn't that a nice tree?
Violet's piece for Art Night, made of tissue paper. They did a segment on the work of Eric Carle, author of The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar.
We went to the Twelve Days of Christmas display at the Dallas Arboretum. They had twelve giant glass gazebos depicting scenes from the song. These are totally out of order, but here are the twelve drummers drumming.
We're being silly in front of the ten lords a'leaping.
The displays were in order at the gardens, by the way. Just out of order here.
Eleven pipers piping. I love kilts. And bagpipes. There was bagpipe music, of course.
Isn't that partridge lovely? Like a Klimt painting.
Each gazebo even had a corresponding weather vane. Here is the tippy top of three French hens display.
The eight maids a milking were so funny. The cows' tails even swished.
Violet, being glamorous.
Nine ladies dancing. They all rotated around that circular track. The dresses were so detailed-a costume lover's dream!
The seven swans a'swimming were my favorite.
Squeal! That TIARA!!!
So many details...like this bunny peeking out from under a tree.
The five golden rings-they all rotated, too.
Violet dashing off through the crepe myrtle allee.
She's loved those spitting frogs since she was a baby.
All right...more holiday photos coming soon.
Fa la la. I'm tired of decorating now.
I love it up to a point, then I think...I'm going to have to take all of this DOWN soon! I like it when Thanksgiving is earlier, then we have another week to enjoy the holiday stuff.
Notice anyone's first school photo?
I finally cleaned off the top of the piano, just to add more stuff back.
We cut down our own trees this year! It was fun to choose one from the baby trees we've nurtured for five years now.
Thanks again to Stacy for our weirdo portrait, Leonard. May he watch over our festivities for years to come.
Adam has been scary lately. Okay, not scary exactly, but getting even bigger. I didn't think that was possible. He's still winning lots of trophies and such. He's obsessed with this arm wrestling, I tell you.
I'm not sure where this is going, but I'm suspicious. I see Mooskies, Christmas weasel, squirrel baby, and twist ties.
Are you guys knee-deep in holiday stuff? I feel behind this year.
I'm so grateful for 50 wonderful years of this show. Here's a great clip about it on NPR today--->click here for link.
I love what Charles M. Schultz's (Peanuts creator) widow Jeannie Schulz had to say about the special:
"It points out our greed, our commercialism," she says. "And it points them out with humor so we can laugh at them — laugh at ourselves."
She likes the mirror aisle. It's fun to watch her dance up and down it. Fun to me, anyway. We probably just annoy everyone else.
Nana met us at the Pumpkin Patch. We took Violet when she was little, so it was Piper's turn.
I have no idea why, but Piper loves to get into this position. Sort of a downward dog yoga thing. Strangers often applaud.
She announced this was the "potty pumpkin". Ah, toilet training!
Hmm...I think I'll take this one.
Look at the big pumpkin "flowers" behind us!
These pumpkin houses were amazing.
The insides of the houses depicted fairy tales and stories about pumpkins and fall.
Aren't these pumpkin houses amazing?
Some of these pumpkins and gourds were huge.
So many color variations.
I was impressed with these corn shuck horses pulling Cinderella's carriage.
My little ham. She picked that jacket out herself. We were at a thrift store, and she saw the tuxedo jacket and said, "Ooooh....nice coat!"
I sure love this baby. The big baby, too.
On the bridge with Nana.
...and donkeys. And like Piper enjoyed pointing out, lots and lots of poo poo.
Someone's getting sleepy.
She closed her eyes and was so still! Did I tell you guys I used to do face painting? I'd do parties and events dressed in fairy clothes...the Face Painting Fairy. It was fun! I loved seeing the little kids so happy.
She wished her lips were orange, though.
The new children's garden is fabulous! Just look at those mushrooms. Very Alice in Wonderland.
She was flapping her wings like a bird.
I officially want these.
I'm a fan of over-sized sculptures.
Hello, little turtle!
We finished off the day at a greasy spoon cafe. Piper had a double order of bacon. Just like Daddy.
If you guys ever get the chance, don't pass up a visit to the Dallas Arboretum! Check their website for discounts, too.
Ready for some Halloween overload?
I'm a little behind this year, but I'd rather be doing than blogging most of the time. Especially if it involves my kiddos.
Violet wanted us to be a family of deer, so they are fawns and I'm Mother Deer. One of Violet's favorite games is to pretend I'm a mother deer and she's my fawn. Her name is Honeysuckle, I'm Mother Deer, and we live in the woods. OR...she's Violet, and I'm the deer who doesn't understand the ways of people. Like...I'll ask why she doesn't eat grass, or I always forgot the word for "shoes", or I get confused about light switches. She thinks that's hilarious.
Violet has been friends with Brylee since they were two. I'm so happy they're in the same kindergarten class! Also-Piper's photo bombing cracks me up.
I'm glad I got to be her class room mother this year. I made our carnival game..."Feed the Cat". We had the kids throw those rubber squeaky rats through the cat's mouth. We had a bunch of great parent volunteers from the class-thanks, other parents! This is the lovely and very involved Shawna, mom of another sweet girl in Violet's class.
I am such a fan of carnival games. Good ones, bad ones, hokey ones-I love 'em all!
Spinner games are fun! I want to make one for myself.
This is a bit blurry, but I wanted to show the back of their costumes. I love the little white spots. I just painted them on with craft paint. I made the ears with felt. I took old Santa hats and dismantled them...the band became the cuffs and the ball on top became their tails.
I dressed up, too, but we only have one shot of us together. I was making a ridiculous face and having a major costume malfunction. But darn it---I had on antlers! Getting sugared up kids to be still is nearly impossible, isn't it?
I like the sound Plinko makes.
Violet and her friend Lily Rose...such cute flower names!
There were a bunch of Elsas!!!
Our friend Marcia made a lovely version for Violet. She was so happy she held out the "prissy hand".
Violet had trepidations about the "Nose Picker Game".
"What was that?" She was horrified when green silly string "snot" sprayed out on her hand. "I do not ever want to play that game again."
The bouncy house made things better.
Bouncy fawns. Poor Piper can't stay upright very long in the bounce house.
Violet kept lunging. I have no idea why. Maybe she thought she was getting on all fours like a deer? She'd just suddenly bust out into a lunge all night.
Did you guys go to a carnival? We're about to watch Charlie Brown-it's not Halloween without it!
Do you have a favorite Halloween special? Le snort. Like they even have "specials" anymore. You have to be fairly *cough* mature to even know what a "special" is.
To me, it's not Halloween with It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
This is the Paul Lynde Halloween Special.
I'm not sure who this Paul Lynde is, but he is something else. He has that heavily made up, frantic, slightly fruity and smarmy air that men who hosted these things only seemed to have in the seventies. It features Margaret Hamilton in her only reprisal of the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz. And Betty White, KISS, and Danny & Marie Osmond.
Good grief...I have so many photos backed up on my computer I just threw in the towel a few months ago. "I give up!" I yelled at my ridiculous storage folder.
Grumble. I'd better get back to organizing stuff or I'll lose those photos and never ever see them again. How do you guys manage your photos? I take so many it's crazy. Then I don't want to deal with them. It's like my virtual junk drawer.
I never shared our quick visit to Long Beach with you guys. This was the tail end of our trip to Washington this spring for Adam's grandfather's 100th birthday celebration. After we left the party, we headed for a stop at the beach. Unfortunately, everyone was struck with a hideous stomach bug. Except for me. I spent most of my day driving and pulling over to assist sickies.
In between stomach bug bouts and violet car sickness, she was still excited about her first glimpse of the Pacific. As soon as I could, I pulled over and we made a mad dash to the beach. I tried to explain that unlike Texas, it's more of a...winter beach. "It's c-c-cold, Mama!"
We found an adorable Victorian beach cottage called The Wrecktory, run by a retired Episcopal priest and a writer/journalist/teacher. It was charming! My biggest regret of the whole trip was that I didn't get to spend more time in this cottage and in Long Beach...was a delightful beachside town!
I got everyone tucked away in the cottage with some Gatorade, then Violet and I headed out to explore. We borrowed a sweatshirt from the cottage because it was much colder than we'd expected.
When I say it was windy on that beach, I mean it was windy. See proof in our videos here and here, but turn down the volume because it was, well....windy. Adam ventured outside with Piper and took the second video. I think I would have put her rubber boots on instead of mary janes, but I'm just glad they felt a tiny bit better so that they could go outside for a bit.
When I returned, everyone was tuckered out and green again. Daddy was extra green. The sick husband is sad, but how about that little square of stained glass? Made me happy.
This cozy chair and camel saddle footstool were right next to the most wonderful little library of books. That trove of reading material was worth the visit alone! I stayed up long into the night sketching and reading by the fire while everyone took turns being so, so pathetically sick. My poor family! And if one of us was well, I'm glad it was me because Mama is usually the best person suited for playing nurse, don't you think?
Long Beach has tons of info about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, along with this fabulous statue of William Clark contemplating a sturgeon. I had to read that twice to make sure I didn't spell "surgeon". That would be a much different statue.
More natural wonder than you can shake a stick at. I'd be scared to swim in that water, though.
I am so verklempt I didn't get a family photo in front of the world's largest frying pan.
Also, we left the day before clamming season opened...waaaah! Maybe I'll get to dig clams next time we visit.
Here are some modern day Razor Clam Queens from Long Beach's Clam Festival. It's held every year in April. I highly approve of any event that produces kitschy royalty.
This vintage photo makes me so happy I could squeal. I love how it looks like he's about to beat them both over the head with a shovel. 'Cause that's how fancy misogynists rolled back in '48.
I suddenly need a clam tiara. Don't you?
The girls shared a room as tiny as a ship's cabin. They said it was cozy.
Check out that porthole in the closet. Tomorrow, my favorite part of the trip...our visit to Marsh's Free Museum, home of Jake the Alligator Man!
It's kindergarten time!
My sweet little Violet went off to kindergarten this week. I cried, she didn't. I suppose that's better than the other way around. Adam went with us to see her off to her first day of school. (You're a good Daddy, Adam.) Her first week is going well, thank goodness. She was ready. She also seems to have a great teacher.
Poor Piper misses her big sister already.
This is me, back in....*cough*. Mrs. Muckleroy (far left) was my kindergarten teacher in Comfort, Texas. Mrs. Castro (far right) was her assistant. I'm in the top row in the middle in a red shirt. This wasn't my first day, but it was my Easter party. I think I was verklempt about my Ruffles or bunny hat or something.
I was so excited about kindergarten. I couldn't wait to go! I wanted to ride the bus, too. It just seemed like what big kids did.
She wanted a BIG backpack.
We got up early for a family breakfast. Violet requested sunny side up eggs, cinnamon toast, and fresh blueberries.
See her bow? I made it out of violets, because....well, her name is Violet. I thought it might help people remember her name on the first day.
I let Violet help me pick her first day of school lunch-pickles wrapped in turkey, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes. As a special treat, the night before school started, we made Rice Crispy bars. I let Violet put as many sprinkles and chocolate chips on top as she wanted. After her first day, I was shocked to hear her say, "Mama, those were too sugary." Yay-our healthy food habits are paying off!
(Piper calls Violet "yah-yit".)
"Don't worry. I'll come back."
I'm so glad these two get along. I love you, little girls of mine!
Let's see how they used to transport us babies back in the day.
Here's me in some sort of contraption. I'm sure that was a legit stroller back then, but it cracks me up how much it looks like a jerry-rigged grocery cart. I can see my parents using wire cutters and a stapler, throwing in a pillow and saying, "There! We made a stroller."
Adam in the front, Eric in the back, Gramma Paula pushing. It looks like my stroller in the first picture, but with an extra seat, yes?
Adam and his big brother Eric. It looks like there is a cute carousel print on the fabric.
Here is Adam's childhood pram before we reupholstered it.
We decided on red. We call this color "Irrgang Red". For some reason, we decided our family color is red. So we paint everything red, upholster things red, etc. Please tell me someone else out there has a family color, too.
Little V in the re-upholstered stroller. I wish I still had a baby little enough to fit in that thing. It made me stupidly happy to push that thing around. We called it the "perambulator". Just to annoy ourselves.
When we needed the pram for Piper, we stuck Violet in the red lawn wagon.
I miss that chubby little foot poking up out of the stroller.
Both of my girls spent a lot of time in a baby wrap.
One more photo...best for last. This one KILLS me! It's Adam's parents on a sailboat and they've tied a rope around Eric's waist. A rope. Isn't that funny? You can also see the baby carriage under his mom's arm. The basket part lifts out so you can move it around.
If any of you have photos of your baby carriages I'd love to see them.
I've been torturing my family with music by Veljo Tormis. "What in heck is this?" asks Violet.
In particular, my children seemed baffled by around 4:45 or so. It certainly doesn't stop them from imitating it or flapping their wings. They seem to get it on some level. Even if they seem miserable and keep putting their hands over their poor little ears. Here's more if that wasn't enough to last you a lifetime.
Many people consider Tormis the greatest living choral composer. I'm fascinated by his music. And somewhat confused by his beard. I do not understand that facial hair. Maybe it's practical.
His music puts me in mind of angry merfolk.
Or things going horribly wrong at sea.
The Wrath of Neptune by Charles Lebrun
My parents stuck me in the bluebonnets every single year. It's a Texas tradition.
Adam told me he'd never taken a bluebonnet photo before. How is that possible? He's lived in Texas his whole life. That's just wrong.
Do you guys have any "flower photos" that must be taken every year where you live?