Bragging on my Kids: The Adventures of Ordinary Rachel (by Sunny)

Sunny loves comic books and strips and graphic novels so much that she’s decided to create her own.

Okay, that and because I challenged her older sister the Math Class Chibi Doodler to draw a weekly comic strip with me this summer, and there’s no way Sunny was going to be left behind.

“Ordinary Rachel” about an eight year old girl whose uncle is a superhero who takes her on adventures, even though she doesn’t have any powers of her own (she thinks).  She knows about her uncle’s secret life, but her parents don’t.

Rachel also has a talking ball for a pet.  Presumably, her parents DO know about that, but Sunny is a huge Calvin & Hobbes fan, so maybe not.

She–Sunny, not Rachel—drew these freehand with MS paint all by herself. She spent hours on it and I only helped with technical stuff, like panel size, file options, and getting the tails of the speech balloons to point in the right directions.

These panels are black and white, in case you’re wondering, because she plans to color them last, “like they do with REAL comic books, Mommy.”  She further states that it has nothing to do (Mommy) with the difficulties in using the “Color Fill” tool when your lines don’t touch much.  Really.

I can tell you that the pet ball will be purple. Or pink.

I’m campaigning to call him “Plinkle”, but I don’t get a vote.

   Slide OneI love how you know exactly what this character is doing,
even if you might be a little worried
that she’s taking a nap after laying a ginormous egg.

This confusion will clear up once the egg ball starts talking in panel eight.
Or no, actually it won’t. Never mind.

slide 2

The item to the left is a dresser, which is recognized
because Sunny never closes her drawers, either.

I like Rachel’s nightgown, here.  Very post-modern.

slide 3

 Sunny is always a little miffed that her swimsuit isn’t where she wants to find it,
so she’s just writing what she knows at this point.

This includes the parental nagging, I’m afraid . . .

Notice the reaction lines?  I’m so proud!

slide 4

I love the way she drew this character,
and also that she’s wearing her swimsuit to go hang with superheroes.
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

And see how spiffy that right hand word balloon looks (ahem)?

Her style probably owes a bit to Patrick McDonnell at this point (especially his Doozie), but that’s not a bad thing at all—in fact, I think it’s pretty good for a not-quite third grader.

Seriously, how cool is this?

That’s right:  pretty darned cool.


Sunnyisms for a Cloudy Day: Superhero Edition

My eight-year old, Sunny, has a way of confounding expectations in the best possible way.

It’s her superpower.

Super Iron Sunny



All’s Fair in Love and Goldfish

During the Morning commute:

“We had a lot of fun at recess this week, Mommy.”

“What are you doing?  Playing superheroes?”Goldfish Crackers

“No.  We’ve been getting married.”

“All of you?”

“Pretty much.  Yesterday, Jennie married Gavin and Melissa married Jack.”

“With actual ceremonies?  Or just cake?”

“The church words.  We take turns saying the awfully married wife stuff.”

“And the boys are okay with this?”

“Not always.  We had to tackle Colin.”

“Did you get in trouble?”

“No.  The groom gets half the bride’s snack after recess, so they’re usually okay with it once they’re caught.  It’s just, Colin doesn’t like peanut butter crackers, so he wanted to marry me instead of Sophie.”

“Did you accept his proposal?”

“No way!  I like goldfish crackers way too much to get married!”


A recent triumphant shout from the bathroom:

“Once again, the Toilet Paper of Justice has wiped the Butt of EEEEeeevil!”


(Wouldn’t that make a terrific Proctor & Gamble ad?)


Super Mom

For Mother’s Day, I received this poster:

It reads:

My Mom is great.  My Mom is cool. My Mom is better than any Mom on earth.

My Mom can do anything!  My Mom is as smart as a stegosaurus which has two brains.

My Mom can’t lose.  My Mom is the best.  I love my Mom because she snuggles like a pro.

My Mom is a SUPERHERO.

On the next page, there’s a form reporting that I’m as strong as a hippo,
as smart as the aforementioned stegosaurus
(no mention that the stego’s second brain is installed in the rear),
brave as a mountain lion,
And that I have the Power to Snuggle.

My only weakness?


Yeah, I teared up.  This kind of thing is pure kryptonite.


Bad Mommy

I tucked Sunny in last night at she wanted a snuggle, so I climbed in.

“Ow!” I said, shifting to extract an Elsa doll, a transformer ball, a Dr. Who My Little Pony, three books, a flashlight, an empty bottle of bubble solution, two Pokemon figurines, and a handful of sharp-edged Legos.

“You have an awful lot of non-sleeping stuff in this bed,” I said, dropping everything all over the side.

“Mommy!” Sunny said, “You’re getting my room all messy!”

Sunny Comp

Purple Carrots at the Dinner Table

Last week, Sunny came home from school with an art project wrapped in newspaper and a plastic grocery bag of indeterminate origin.

The bundle sat on the counter as I threw dinner together, until my MIL, with her usual tact,  asked me if it was trash that someone should put in the garbage. I rescued it and opened it while she went to call the others.

Purple Carrot Fish1

I looked at the sculpture for a while in wonder, and put it in the center of the table, for a conversation piece.

It worked.

“What is that?”  My MIL asked.

“It’s my purple carrot,” Sunny said, scooping the center out of her dinner roll.

“That’s not a purple carrot,” Jane said.  “It’s a . . . squished snake?  That isn’t really purple?”

“It’s a fish,” Sunny said.  “And his name is Purple Carrot. See?  I painted him purple, except the . . . the hot oven thing made it too light.”

“The kiln?” I said.

“Yeah.  And Gail said it looked like a carrot, before I made it flat.”

Gail is Sunny’s very best friend and co-conspirator.  Everyone needs a Gail, who gives hugs to everyone she meets and may very well be the limitless energy source that will save the world, if anyone can figure out how to keep her still long enough to harness it.

Gail is often quoted around here—or evoked as authoritative approval.

“A screaming purple carrot?” Jane said.

“He’s not screaming.  He’s trying to breathe.  Gail says—”

“Why is a fish trying to breathe?”

“He’s evolving, Janie!  Duh!”

“So,” my husband said.  “He’s a lungfish?”

“Yes,” Sunny said.  “He’s trying really hard to get them.”Purple Carot Fish3

“Get what?” my MIL asked.


“Does evolution even work like that?” Jane asked.

“Maybe he’s a Pokémon,” I said.

“Or a Kirby-fish,” Jane said. “He looks like one of those cleaner fish—what’s that called?”

“Plecostomus?” I asked.

“Yeah. That.”

“He’s a Purple. Carrot. Fish,” Sunny said, stabbing at her green beans with her fork.  “Gail likes him.”

“He’s fantastic, honey,” I said.  “I like him very much, too.  His scales are really good and his expression is perfect.”

“Thanks, Mommy.”

“And I think Screaming Purple Carrot is a great name for a rock band,” I said, pushing my luck.

She beamed.  “That’s what Gail said!”

Purple Carrot Fish2




Sunny is Eight

Sunny is 8

As I gave Sunny her bedtime hug last night, I told her that it was a little sad to think that this was the last time I would be the mother of a seven year-old.

“Unless you have another baby,” she said.

“The very last time,” I replied, hugging her a little tighter.

“Mom! Can’t! Breathe!” she said, then giggled like a hyena-loon hybrid and kissed my ear.

She was so excited to be almost eight that she couldn’t settle down. “It’s okay, Mommy. I know how to sleep-wiggle!” she said.

Sunny Getting Down

I would have called her on it, but she might be right. This kid never walks—she dances and bounces and skips and jumps over all the cracks she can so my back doesn’t get hurt.

Super Sunny3She loves superheroes and dogs—the last time we went to the Family Museum, she bought two little dog figurines with Her Own Money and named them Connor and M’gann.  When I asked her where she’d found those names, she rolled her eyes and said, “After Superboy and Miss Martian from Young Justice.  Duh, Mom.”

Super Sunny has pledged her allegiance to DC, but still cuddles up to watch Agents of SHIELD with me and has Opinions about the Marvel Universe.  She thinks Tony Stark is a hoot, but Captain America needs a secret identity.

And that the Hulk needs a hug.

Super Sunny ReadsShe also loves to read. A few months ago, I found her in the bathroom, standing naked from the waist down with a wad of clean toilet paper in her hand, lost to the world in the open book on the counter.  She’d apparently hopped off the commode, glanced at a page, and immediately forgotten where she was in the proceedings.

“She’s yours, all right,” my mother told me, after she stopped laughing.

She’s also a Wesson.  Last week, at dinner, she passed more gas, loud and prolonged, than a non-parent would think could be held in a body that small.

“‘Scuse me!”  she said, calmly.  And then, as her older sister fell off her chair cackling, and the adults around the table tried to gather themselves to explain proper protocol without doing the same, Sunny nodded to herself in satisfaction and said, “I have very good manners.”

It’s no surprise that she was due on April Fool’s Day and then tricked us all into throwing her a birthday party a day early, by doing an unexpected, last-minute somersault in utero.

Come to think of it, that’s probably what she was trying to do last night, as I tucked in my seven year-old, one last time.

 Happy birthday, Sunny-girl.

We love you.

Even your sister.

When Janie Met Sunny

My Inner Fish

Jane was away at Concordia Language Camp from Thursday morning to Sunday night,* and while I haven’t heard the whole story about her trip, I know Sunny had a blast being the Only Child and Sole Wielder of the Remote.**

Her favorite show during this time was the first part of a PBS special called “Your Inner Fish,” which is based on a book by the same name and basically shows all of the clues and evidence that modern humans evolved from fish, or at least the fish who managed to drag itself out of the water on its flippers and breed feet out of them.***

bubble-guppiesAfter the first five minutes, I said, “”Honey? Are you sure you want to watch this? Bubbleguppies is on.”

“Shhhh, Mommy,” she said, staring at her flipper arm as the man on the screen counted off the bone structure.^ “I’m sure.”

And she was. She even had me pause it for bathroom breaks and record it in case she missed something.

And when I  took a bathroom break, and asked her what I missed—half joking, because it’s surreal to have your seven-year old glued to a discussion of the search for the missing link between the First Fish and the first Not-Fish—she told me.

Gravely.  In great detail.

Being the mother of a proto-ichthyologist is a strange and wonderful experience.

A few days later, we held Sunny’s birthday party^^ at the Art Museum, which offered a kid-friendly tour of the exhibits, a fascinating film about glass-blowing, and a clay sculpting craft for Sunny and her eight guests.

Only one set of parents had stayed, and my husband was taking care of their social needs, so I plonked myself down next to Sunny and grabbed some clay, too.

One kid made a lion, several made Pokemon, one made an entire cityscape, another made a sunflower on a tall stalk, and the boy across from me made a militarized centipede who listened to the radio through his antenna (Aiden is now one of my favorite kids ever). Sunny made a Frog and his friend, Fly Guy, who has the most longsuffering expression I’ve ever seen on a bug.

Frog and Flyguy

I rolled my own clay around, trying to think of what to do, when I realized I had a sort of smooth slug in my hands. I curved his tail around and gave him eyeballs and a smile, because it would have been unfriendly not to.

Now what?

“Give him spots!” Sunny said, sticking Fly Guy on top of Frog’s head.

“Give him feet!” said Keira, who was recreating Olaf from Frozen.

“Give him fangs,” Aiden said, adding another segment to Sergeant Centipede.

A spotted fanged slug with feet? Okay.

I added another spot and examined the results. “What is this, exactly?” I asked, showing him around. “He looks kind of familiar.”

Sunny giggled. “He’s your Inner Fish, Mommy!”

“My great, great, billion-great grandfish?”

She nearly fell off her chair. “Yes!”

So, I present to you . . . my Inner Fish.  Such as he is:

Clay Guy AClay Guy B

I can see the resemblance . . .

What does YOUR inner fish look like?


*And I do mean night: the bus arrived at the school around 9:45pm, and we—meaning Jane, me, AND Sunny, because she really, REALLY wanted to meet Janie, and I am a sap when it comes to expressions of sisterly devotion—didn’t get home until 10:30. This explains, if anyone noticed, why there wasn’t a post yesterday.  The kids were fine the next morning, but I was Dead Mommy Walking.

**Unless she needed something from the DVR. Or to pause something. Or to record a show. Or to figure out which remote worked the volume. “Sole Tyrant of the Remote” might be more accurate.

***I went to work the next day and found Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, who is a paleontologist and also a pretty good storyteller, though Sunny still opted for Calvin & Hobbes as a bedtime story.

^This may have been Dr. Shubin himself.  The bone count was fascinating—apparently, all limbs in all species who have ’em follow the same general structure  from “shoulder joint” to “digits”:  One, two, little, lots.  It happens in humans, birds, frogs, and even our cat Toby, who was bemused at the sudden attention, but game.

^She’s already had two this year, if anyone’s keeping count—one with her immediate family, and one given to her by her godmother—but this one was for her friends.  Jane’s a bit jealous, so it’s just as well she had somewhere else to be.