Friday, May 18, 2012

Lunch Bag Art Surprises

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.”  -  Henry David Thoreau
“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.” - Pablo Picasso
“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” -  Albert Einstein

      I love these quotes from some of the greats. I've tried to do more of my lunch box art surprises for my 'Lil Miss. They're VERY quickly done, so that I don't get burned out on doing them. I remember how much fun it was to get a note from my mother in my lunch, and so I've tried to start doing more of that with my first born. As she is in kindergarten now, we're still in the beta test phase. I'm finishing 1 every week or two on average. Some weeks I'll do almost all 5 days. Sometimes I'll go a few weeks without doing one.
      The point is actually trying. She loves it and I enjoy the outlet for my art (which is hard to find time for these days). Being fast, there are liberties taken on anatomy and architecture. She gets the point, and that's all that matters.

The only other lunch bag artist that I can find out there is a legend. Check the cool dad here.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Polish & Buff Your Troubles Away

     So The Wife and I made a purchase yesterday that made my day. The Black & Decker 6" Polisher / Buffer. As far as power tools go, this was a cheaper buy, which I will always agree to. We've been trying our hand and refinishing some furniture pieces. They're mostly for our own home right now, with the possibility of reselling future pieces.

If interested, a few links where you can purchase the tool:
Amazon - $29.99
Lowes - $24.97
Sears - $29.99
Home Depot - $31.20
* Prices current as of date of post.

   We had just finished putting a wax finish on a dresser and wanted a more efficient way of polishing and buffing the wax surface that had cured. I got going on it and was instantly pleased with the result. There is a fair amount of trial and error with every new endeavor, but I was pleased with the outcome once I learned the pace, tempo, and pressure to use with the buffer. So if you're in the market for a product, I can recommend the Black & Decker 6" Polisher / Buffer as a great choice. Enjoy.


Monday, May 14, 2012

The Cardboard Castle

“You make kingdoms and castles on your own.” - Stephan Jenkins

     With all the leftover cardboard we accumulate, and my ever impressive art degree, did you expect anything else from me? When I see large boxes or pieces or unused cardboard, I see castles and forts, they way some people see shapes in clouds. With a sharp box cutter, and duct tape, I'm on my way. I always wish I could have done more, but an artist is his own worst critic.
     There are some fun posts out there. Visit the Thingamababy blog here to see the amazing fort a dad made for his kids. He did it for a party of 18 kids and has some GREAT ideas for add ons and tips. I also got some inspiration from the blog Playful Factory here, with links to structures you can buy or just gain some ideas from.
     It's all abou the effort. You will be rewarded. As I write this in the morning, I got a text from The Wife saying that she heard our 'Lil Miss wake up, come out of her room, and begin playing in the Cardboard Castle again. My day has been made.
     Happy building.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

You've Got a Friend In Me

You've got troubles, well I've got 'em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together and we see it through
You've got a friend in me
- Randy Newman
     I snapped this pic a few days back and realized how good I've got it that my little ones get along so well. While they ARE still young, I hope it's a foundation to build on so that later on in life they don't resort to the exchange of gunfire. My 'Lil Miss is very type A, and can get extremely frustrated when things are not going her way. That seems to pale in comparison to her loving nature. She's always looking out for the underdog, offering help where the shy kid needs it, and comforts her little brother whenever he's upset. My 'Lil Man is the same. He's all boy, for sure, but has a sweet natured side that uses "please" and "thank you" all day long.
     How can we accomplish this? The Wife and I communicate with the kids often. While some items fall under the "because I'm your father" category, explaining things goes over very well. Granted, The Wife has more patience with that than I do, but I'm learning. I think showing love to one another for them to see it important too. Mom and dad showing affection and helping each other. Dad showing that same love and help to each child. They then adopt the behavior to each other.
   Either way, the scene pictured above melted my heart. Let's hope we have a lifetime of them.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Remembering Maurice Sendak

Maurice Sendak 1985 - AP File Photo

Maurice Sendak 1928-2012

     I was listening to NPR this morning and heard the news that Maurice Sendak passed away today. I can remember "Where The Wild Things Are" from my childhood, and the monsters within intrigued me then, as they do today. I didn't know Mr. Sendak personally, but I know a part of the message he seemed to portray. Childhood is rough. I try to remember that as I see my 'Lil Miss in her first year of public school. I watch her navigate a room of 25+ kids, make and maintain friendships, etc. Maurice's book themes touch a nerve in the childhood I remembered.
In a conversation with Terry Gross of Fresh Air on NPR, 2003, Maurice  said:
"Do parents sit down and tell their kids everything? I don't know. I don't know. I've convinced myself — I hope I'm right — that children despair of you if you don't tell them the truth."
     As I try my hand at writing and illustrating my own stories, I try to keep in mind that not all stories for children in real life end up with the prince kissing the princess as they ride off into the sunset. My daughter currently thinks that, as she has experienced nothing contrary. My parents divorce at 10 years old taught me otherwise. I think it's important to know that children see a lot, and while they are honest and forthcoming at times, they can also bottle up much of what they experience.
     I enjoyed an interview with Maurice Sendak (below) on the Colbert Report. I giggled when he referred to Stephen Colbert an "idiot". I think I can be an idiot and embrace that as I work out my own stories I try to write and illustrate. There is also a documentary produced by Adam Yauch (recently deceased Beastie Boy) here.
     Stay young, stay real.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Children, Can You Hear Me?

As far as my kids listening to me, they're on the fence.

     It just dawned on me, as I was trying to think of a clever caption for the above picture, why I wrote that. The kids and I love to watch animal videos on YouTube. We watch the loud ones, like gibbons, lions and such.We stumbled across an amazing video of a gorilla pack. It's about 6 minutes long, but the kids were enthralled. I was struck at 5:10, where the silverback wanders off after babysitting the kids and their curiosity in the human. I watched the silverback leave,.....and the offsring instantly followed.


     The light bulb went on. No tantrums, no crying, no deals made to stay "just a little bit longer". I looked at my 6 year old 'Lil Miss and asked, "See how the babies listen to their daddy and follow him without arguing? Why can't YOU guys do that?" She smiled with no response, and continued to watch in awe. I think the point was lost. NOT ON ME! I look to better my communication with my kids, so that I get a better response to direction in stores, parking lots, and others that are needed to protect them "out in the wild" We'll probably need to revisit this topic again.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kid Crafts and Memories

"There's no such thing as a bad kid, just a kid with a bad haircut." - Sam Malone, Cheers
     I'm always surprised at how clean we like to keep our spaces, but how hard it is to discard the things left behind by our little ones. I watched my 'Lil Man placing his hand in water and then on the ground, producing patterns of hand prints. He was so proud of himself, but the images faded as the water evaporated. I took a snapshot so that his little art installation was captured.

     Now, I keep EVERYTHING that my little ones make. I learned a long time ago with pictures, that you can always delete, but that you cannot create them from nothing. So I keep everything, and then thin the pile at the end of the year. With free online programs like pixlr, photo editing is easy. So my idea is to digitally capture most of the good stuff, and then actually keep the best and most significant pieces. Once I get to the end of a year, I can take all my images, collages, etc. that are digitally captured or created, and put them into a book. Either print and put them into clear sheets in a binder, or publish them in an awesome book like from My Publisher. I've used them before and the books look amazing.

     I'm not encouraging us all to be pack rats or hoarders. I'm more hoping we can not regret how little we have from our children's past for us and them to look back on. I love that I have my first story book that I stitched together with cardboard and twine. Email me for ideas, or just try them out on your own. Have fun!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Summer Approaches

“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” - Stephen Wright

     Oh it's so true. As summer approaches, all the familiar sights and sounds are here. Shoes stay off and sun dresses come out. The ice cream truck swings by more often, causing a riot within the house that rivals the Black Friday rush. Ceiling fans are installed where there once was a simple light, and calls for popsicles from the garage freezer come loud and often.

     So where are you with summer around the corner? Gearing up for the next summer blockbuster? Planning the week trip to the beach house? Fearing the all night slumber parties for your youngster? Oh, it's on mom and dad, and you'd better have your game face on. You get points for waking up, feeding the little ones and making sure they don't hurt themselves. Bonus points come with trips to the pool, splash pad, lake, or even putting on the sprinklers with a Slip 'n Slide. Double points for the larger water parks, including a movie night with snacks, including friends, or any other additional act that goes above and beyond.

Keep your own scores and we'll tally at the end of summer. Winner gets bragging rights, and I might even fashion a lame trophy.

Good luck!