Bragging on my kids, Part Eleventy-Million: Fireflies, Squashies, and a Bug’s POV

My kids are enjoying their last day of school today, or at least enjoying that it is the last day, barring the Promotion Ceremony tomorrow morning.*

Owl RightAs you might expect, veritable forests of dead, pulped, ironed trees have been unloaded from both backpacks this week.  Each kid also came home with a Sunny-sized art portfolio and bags of dubious pottery, including a uniquely painted owl (see left) and a probable-turtle that only a mother could identify appreciate.**

I’ve shared some of my favorite Wesson Kid artwork throughout this school year and y’all aren’t off the hook yet.

Since roughly Christmas, Janie has been saying the word pastels in the same tone she uses for American Girl merchandise.  I think  I figured out why:

Fireflies

And also why she keeps asking me to play Owl City’s Fireflies on repeat in the car.

The kids studied George Rodrigue this semester, and while Jane’s Green Dog variation was pretty good, I’ve been enjoying her Blue Guitar Period:

Blues Guitar

Seriously—this guy has been showing up everywhere, flower, whammy bar and all.

Sunny, on the other hand, has been working on perspective.  This one is from a project asking student to look at things “From a Bug’s Point of View”:

Bugs Life

She says this is a self-portrait, and that the girl is standing on a glass coffee table to get away from the bug. But the face isn’t expressing  screaming terror or the heaving squickies—although it’s true she doesn’t look particularly happy—and the hair isn’t made of springs, so I’m thinking it isn’t, really.  Regardless, I think it’s pretty good for a six-year old—look at the hand placement!

She did bring home one lovely self-portrait, though, that befits my curly little artist:

My Artist

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my girl.

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*And the brief, but intense, pre-Promotion Ceremony ritual of explaining to my children why they can’t wear tank tops and flip-flops.  Dresses and shoes and brushed hair and teeth, thank you very much, under imminent threat of a post-Promotional Ceremony Cleaning of the Play Room.

**I shall call him Squashie and he shall be mine and live in my writing place and he shall be my Squashie.

Squashie

Bragging on my Kids: Writing, Art and Environmentalism

On Saturday, my husband and I took the kids to the art museum a few towns over for the Grand Opening of their renovated Children’s Center.

The gallery was filled with original illustrations by Eric Carle, Leo Leonni, Ted Arnold (My Working Mom)*, and many others, including a series by John Par Miller, which kept Sunny busy finding the little turtle in every single picture  and kept me busy trying not to drop her as she leaned waaay out of my arms with her finger extended because she wasn’t supposed to touch the art and I kept backing away from it.

We enjoyed the illustrations for so long, we were too late to get into the auditorium to hear the speeches—oh, well—so we wandered into one of the studios, where tables had been set up with tons of craft materials: construction paper, markers, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, paper plates, sticks . . . and some pre-stapled little books.

Janie and I made a beeline for those, while my husband doodled some excellent steampunk airships and cartoon characters and Sunny stuck together a few collage turtles on paper plates and provided me with rhyming assistance and art direction in exchange for my (barely) more skilled scissor work.  When she’d done everything she could do with her turtles, she helped me glue.

I think that deserves co-author/illustrator credit, don’t you?  She did.

She also wanted me to put it on the blog, Mommy, so please for to witness the blog debut of I Am One, by Sarah and Sunny Wesson.**

    

    

    

    

   

Authors’ Note:  That thing on page Six?  It’s a table, not a chimneySo there.

Janie wouldn’t let anyone see her book until she was done.  When I was finally allowed to read it, I was blown away.  Seriously.

The drawings are cute, the perspective is interesting, the plot has an environmental message . . . and she wrote it in ocean language.***

It’s untitled, mostly because she keeps changing her mind, but Whale Saves the Party** was my personal favorite:

Whale was late for Little Star’s Party.

He swam underneath a big boat.

The people were dumping garbage on Little Star’s Party!

Whale took care of that!

The boat flipped over.  Little Star gave Whale a hug.

The people promised to never dump garbage in the ocean again.

It was a very good day.

The End.

Janie claims that the dolphin in the next-to-the-last page isn’t actually sticking its tongue out at the people—it’s a bottlenose.    She also says that Whale’s name is Whale and didn’t provide a clear answer as to whether he’s a killer whale or a whale-whale.^

But I do know the starfish hug is adorable—and the retribution is hilarious—both my kids are brilliant, and you have to love a museum that allows the parents to play, too.

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*Lyra, look at this one—I have a feeling your crew will like it

**©2012,  all rights reserved, get your own stapler and make your own book.

***And, I might add, in better handwriting that her homework folder has ever seen.

^Instead, she gave me the I’m the Writer And Does Precise Fin Placement Really Matter To The Integrity Of The Message Look.  I know that look—I’ve often given variations on it myself—so I didn’t follow up.

Family Visit Random Recap, now in 3D!

My parents are leaving early tomorrow to trek back to Ohio—if they figure out where the kids and I hid their car keys.  Here are just a few highlights of the holiday week:

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth is a clueless child . . .

Mom and Dad arrived Tuesday night and it took a long time for the kids to settle down enough to sleep.  Unfortunately, Janie and I both had to get up at our usual time on Wednesday to go to our respective half days of school or work.  Janie griped and sniped through the morning until everyone lost patience and I finally got her loaded into the car with her Grandparent Day props, homework, and Angel Shoe Tree gift.

I belted myself in and calmly informed her that she was going to have to remember that other people didn’t know how sleepy she was and that she was going to have to be very careful not to lose her temper and try to be aware of what was going on today.  Her grandparents had come a long way to see her in her skit and she needed to make it a good day for them.  I extracted an agreement, opened the garage door, put the car in reverse and promptly backed into Mom’s car.  Wham.

I drove into the garage, made sure Janie was okay, checked for car damage (there was none*) and went inside.  “Could someone please move the car that I just backed into so Janie and I can leave?”  Because, you know, it wasn’t my fault I hadn’t used the rearview mirror to see if Mom’s bright metallic orange Element was lurking out there.

Mom leapt for her keys, ran out in her slippers, without a coat, and backed her car into the street along the curb.  I backed out, waved in thanks, and left . . . not realizing that I’d automatically closed the garage door as I pulled away.  To get back inside, Mom had to walk all the way around the house to the front door and ring the bell.

Did I mention it was 28°F ?

Thanksgiving Dinner

Garlic turkey with roasted garlic cloves, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, scalloped pearl onions (thanks, Grace), homemade bread, salad, corn pudding, pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, cinnamon and pumpkin ice creams, and what I’m told was a very nice Zinfandel rose from a local winery (thanks again, Grace!).

And turkey soup tonight, which will kill all the leftovers.   Boo-yah.

The Arts & Crafts Show

The day after Thanksgiving, my family heads over to the local Expo Center where we wander from vendor to vendor gazing at all the handmade gifts made by other people’s hands.

The kids were allowed to choose an outfit for one of their dolls and persuaded me to buy them each a scented candle for their rooms—Janie picked birthday cake and Sunny chose peppermint.  I bought one that was labeled snickerdoodle, but smells more like pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting—though I might be projecting, there.

And in one booth, I found this little guy:

Yes, it’s a snowman made of Minnesota fieldstone and iron.**   Just look at that little face!

I adopted him on the spot—and then left him on that spot to pick up later, since he weighs about 30 pounds.  Dad ended up carrying him to the car, since I had Sunny, who was being knocked off her feet by the wind.   I think Dad got the better deal—my armful sneezed in my ear.  Twice.

My mother-in-law says he looks like a pile of ugly potatoes, but I love him and will never take him for granite . . .

The Virus Strikes Again, or a Tangled web

We were going to add to the family tradition by taking the kids to a movie after lunch the day after Thanksgiving.  The kids have been begging at least twice a day each to see Tangled since the first preview hit Youtube and I said, “Oh, wow!  You guys have to see this!”  That was . . . five months and a lot of begging ago.  Rookie mistake.

But I want to see it, too, and it’s the kind of movie we all love.  And it sounded like a good alternative to our usual naps.

Except the virus we all had last week finally hit my mother-in-law Thanksgiving afternoon, so she decided to skip both the holiday dinner and the movie.  And then my Dad started feeling icky the next morning . . and Janie started looking green at the restaurant.

I wasn’t sure if the green was caused by Dad trying to ease his queasy stomach by eating baby calamari,*** her overlarge serving of stir fried mushroom noodles, or the virus . . . until she refused dessert and asked me if we could go to the movie next week.  My little instant gratification junkie doesn’t do next week, so we sped her home with a plastic carsick bag in her hand (I’m not an actual rookie) and put her to bed with the bucket.

And then we all took naps.

Guess you can’t beat tradition.

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*Probably because we both have Hondas.  Say what you want about Honda—they don’t screw around when it comes to bumpers.  I was once rear-ended by a full-sized Buick.  The impact threw my Honda Civic Wagon all the way across the intersection, which luckily had no cross traffic at the time.  I drove away with a chip in my right tail light.  The Buick had to be towed.

**Francis Metal Works usually makes remarkably graceful waterfowl in various sizes—two baby geese came home with us, too—but they make special holiday items as well.

*** . . . Yeah.  I know.