Category Archives: sir

Waves & Fish

I know that I owe you, um…what’s the date today?, four (FOUR!) index card posts, at this point. But, you know, if there’s one thing you can count on about me, it’s that you can’t count on me. Heh.

Anyway, index cards coming soon.

For now, you’ll have to settle for some knitting. I started this wrap while we were out of town hindering helping family a couple weeks ago. I finished it over the weekend. The yarn was tough on my hands/wrists (as is often the case with cotton) and the wave pattern started to bore me to tears about a quarter of the way through. But, it’s done!

I ended up with just over half a skein of yarn leftover and, rather than tossing it in my ever-growing pile of yarn scraps letting it go to waste, I decided to make some fishy washcloths for Sir. Judging by last night’s marathon bath fest (where two other bath toys spent a considerable amount of time ‘fighting’ each other for possession of the fishy washcloth), I would say these little guys were a success.

photos : summer wrap & fishcloths by yours truly

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My Monster Army is Complete!

All stuffed and sewn and prepared to do my bidding…muahahahahahaaaaa!

Okay, so my bidding is really nothing evil, but I felt the laugh was appropriate.

Eleven of these little guys will make their way home with Sir’s friends on the last day of school. The twelfth one (Cokie) is already well entrenched in the stuffed creature menagerie that is Sir’s room (remind me to post photos of said menagerie sometime, it is quite impressive).

These were knit following Rebecca Danger’s Monster Chunk pattern – quick and easy (even in bulk).


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Makin’ Monsters

Because I love finding ways to get in over my head (and because I love my son), I have committed to making a dozen Monster Chunks for him to pass out to his friends on the last day of school (which is less than a month away – ack!).

He was very excited when I made one for him.

He named it Cokie. Cokie Monster. Not Cookie Monster. Cokie Monster. Like Cokie Roberts. I really have no idea where he comes up with this stuff.

Anyway, I’ve been working on this project for just over a week and it seems like everywhere I look, this is what I see…



I swear their eyes follow me.

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Daily Sketches : More Blue Owls

Right now, Sir is in a developmental phase where a lot of things are ‘scary’ to him. He tells me on a daily basis that certain things (animals, toys, etc.) are scary, but he isn’t really able to tell me why. He also calls us into his room at night to tell us that he is scared, but he can’t always pinpoint or put into words what is scaring him. It is heartbreaking and frustrating.

He often talks about blue owls being outside at night. When I ask him what they are doing out there, he doesn’t really have an answer. He just tells me that they are scary. So, I decided to do a little character development with his blue owls. When he saw my owl sketches from yesterday, he agreed that they were not scary at all. He liked them and wanted to look at them.

I am working on some ideas with these two owls. I plan to draw the owl on the right showing a range of emotions, while the owl on the left will remain mostly stoic, occasionally reacting the other owl’s emotions.

watercolor + ink

watercolor + ink + digital background

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Back to School!

Today was Sir’s first full day of school, which means that I spent the last two days in a frenzy whipping up little First Day of School gifts for him and all of his new little friends.

At first, I had planned on just doing our homemade crayons (tutorial here) in handmade envelopes, but then (at the last minute, of course) I decided we should add a little something more.

So, I shrunk down some of the coloring pages I’ve designed, printed them out, cut them down to 4×4″ squares and tied them together with bits of colored string to make mini-coloring books. It really didn’t take much effort and it made for much better gifts than just a crayon or two.

I popped a little coloring book and one crayon into each envelope, wrote a quick note inside, and sealed them up with a sticker. Voila! Cute, useful, and relatively inexpensive (I determined that the whole project cost around $5 total – not bad for 11 kids) gifts. It was a tad time-consuming, but I’m sure the kids will love them and Sir was so excited to share presents with his friends, so it was totally worth it.

I am currently working on an envelope-making tutorial to share since several people have asked me about them. I’m hoping to have it up by early next week.

In other school-related news, I must admit that I was over the moon to receive our first Scholastic book order form today – probably a bit much, I know, but I used to LOVE ordering books when I was in school. Books and art supplies are the two things that we don’t really put strict buying limits on in our household, and Sir often reaps the benefits of this arrangement (despite the fact that every bookshelf in our house is practically overflowing). I can hardly wait to place our first order!

 Psst…this is my 500th post.






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Toddler Art : To Make Art, One Must BE Art

Now that the pee puddles are finally starting to dissipate around here, we are finding ourselves surrounded by rain puddles. Sir is already getting antsy and, with Hurricane Irene headed our way, we have at least 3 more days of this ahead of us.

So, once again, we turned to the art supplies to keep us entertained.

I set Sir up with his fancy-schmancy paper plate palette loaded up with several colors of paint (which would quickly turn to goopy gray once he started stirring things up with his brushes), and we were off to the races.

He was very vocal about his painting today, so I decided to try to get a little video interview going. I managed to get a few good clips, but then he stopped cooperating and I was just distracting him. So, I decided to just sit back and let him work until I was beckoned to roll out new paper or refill his color supply.

As I glanced down at my phone to read an email, I heard a little voice say, ‘I paint my knee.’ I looked up to find Sir with a lovely paint splotch on his left knee, which he then insisted on wiping off with a paper towel. He went back to work on his easel for a moment and then…’I paint my knee.’ This time, he covered his entire knee with a big circle of paint.

Now, usually my raging OCD would kick-in at this point, but for some reason I decided that instead of freaking out and grabbing the nearest wet washcloth, I would just to let him go with it. And go he did.

He proceeded to paint his fingers. Then he put a large stripe up each arm. He painted his nose, his toes, up and down his legs. Then he sat down and started to work on his pièce de résistance.

He loaded up his brush, contorted himself in that way that only toddlers can (how in the world can they be so flexible?) and proceeded to paint the bottom of his foot. It was quite a process and sight to behold. He was determined to cover the whole thing, and he probably would have if it hadn’t been for that pesky detail of having to stand up to get more paint. Every time he stood up, the paint would come off on the rug (and I did NOT freak out! Can you believe it?). So, then he would sit down and start all over again.

When lunch time rolled around, I had to literally tear him away from his paints (and give him a good scrubbing in the tub). The whole thing left him feeling pretty satisfied with himself as he recounted the story at the lunch table, naming each body part that had previously been covered in paint.

Here are a few photos I managed to shoot during the event (which I’m sure will repeat itself at least one more time this rainy weekend).


working on a toe

reloading his brush

taking a moment to work on his actual painting

touching up his arm

arranging his brushes after finishing work

photos : sir’s palette & the great body painting escapade by yours truly

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School’s Out for Summer

Today was Sir’s last day of school. It was bittersweet for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that he has grown quite attached to his two teachers.

Despite the fact that, as a class, we had all decided to pitch in to buy each teacher a gift card, I found myself frantically scrambling to add something personal in order to truly express our family’s appreciation* (and make up for Teacher Appreciation Week – also known as The Great Flower Debacle). I started out just writing a little personal note to each teacher and, before I knew it, I was pulling out my paints in an effort to create something worthy of the occasion.

Did I mention that I did this less than 3 hours before school let out…and that it takes me 30-45 minutes to drive to Sir’s school? Yeah.

I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to do something small. So, I dug out some little frames that I had in reserve and settled on just doing some 3.5″ square watercolor paintings. I think they turned out okay, but next year I WILL START EARLIER.

There, you all read that, right? I’m counting on you to hold me to it.

* Honestly, I have ‘thanking issues’ – nothing ever seems to be enough.

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Overachievers Anonymous

My name is Ruth. And I go overboard.

Last week, I found myself happily chatting with some of the other moms from Sir’s class. Eventually, the conversation turned to Teacher Appreciation Week (which, apparently, we were hopelessly late in addressing). I happily offered to contribute to whatever gift the other mothers saw fit to buy for our kids’ two teachers and then went back to the work I had been doing on my laptop. A bit later, I was approached by one of the other moms about the gift situation again.

And that’s when it happened.

Somehow, through no effort on my part. I was suddenly ‘in charge’ of the whole gift-giving operation. It all happened so fast. I didn’t even have a chance to utter a response and, before I knew it, this was my project. Perhaps it was my lack of eloquence or my deer-in-the-headlights countenance, but somehow, something I did said, ‘Oh, yes! Of course, I would LOVE to take on this responsibility that I have no time for and that I’ll probably either screw up or totally forget about until 3 minutes before we are supposed to present said gift. Hells yes, I’m your girl!’

It was all settled then. Ruth would be taking care of the gift. Surely, it was my glazed over look of sheer terror that elicited such reassurances as ‘It’s no big deal!’ and ‘All you have to do is delegate authority!’ Um, yeah, no, that’s not how I operate.

Here’s the Ruth Way of handling such situations…

PANIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Breathe. Panic some more. Come up with a ridiculously over-the-top idea that no one will be able to help me with. Start working. Panic. Work some more. Panic. Realize that it’s 3AM and I haven’t slept or showered in two days and this thing still isn’t done. Panic a little more. Realize (too late) that panicking is taking up valuable time. Finish project with moments to spare. Vow to never volunteer (or be volunteered) for anything ever again.

This time, I made it to the third instance of panicking. That is when I did something that I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I made the conscious decision to NOT overachieve.

One of the moms told me to just get flowers. That seemed a little boring and not very heartfelt and so, remembering the Birthday Pact, I decided to make some flowers. More specifically, I was going to make a flower shadowbox. I dragged Sir to the store, procured the shadowboxes, drew, painted, and cut out the flowers. I got so far as adding beads for accents when I determined that, even with dangerous levels of caffeine coursing through my bloodstream, there was no way I was going to get this project finished. Worse yet, what I was creating was completely uninspired…and it showed. Blech.

So, after three flowers, I quit. Yep, quit. Q-U-I-T.

Tomorrow, after I drop Sir off at school, I’ll go pick up some flowers and call it good. Yep, that’s it. Done.

(If anyone sees a light on in my studio at 3AM, try to forget everything I just said. Heh.)

photo : that’s the end of that by yours truly

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Sketchbook Project 2012 : Today in My Mailbox

Oy. So far today, the normally loving and docile, Sir has a) kicked me repeatedly in an attempt to get me out of bed (how dare I sleep in until 7:30!) b) bitten me and c) nearly given me a coronary by attempting to jump from a shopping cart in a busy parking lot.

This is the last time I let his favorite parent go out of town for the weekend.

Thankfully, nap time arrived just before he was able to tie me up and feed me to the dogs. As I sat exasperated and grasping at the last shred of sanity I had left today, I realized that, in my haste to get Sir in the house and keep him from running down the street with a pilfered bag of frozen onion rings (true story), I had forgotten to check the mail. I trudged out to the box and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a brand new pair of ugly shoes AND my Sketchbook Project package!


So, I guess this thing is really real now. That means I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I have a feeling I’ll have a lot of time to do it once the nice men in the white coats come to take me to my new home.

Dear Big Sir,

Please hurry back. And bring onion rings.


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Toddler Photography : Gettysburg Photo Day

Saturday was a beautiful day and so we decided to take Sir on another photo outing (If you missed the previous ‘toddler photography’ entries, you can find them here and here.). On previous outings, Sir didn’t show a great amount of enthusiasm and most of his photos were taken at our urging. So, you can imagine my surprise (and GREAT pride) when, as we began driving past the monuments at Gettysburg, a voice from the backseat began to shout ‘Out! Pictures! Statues!’

Sir could.not.wait to get himself and his trusty little camera out of the car! As we unbuckled and freed him from his car seat, he took off running toward the nearest ‘statues’ (monuments). He started pointing and telling us exactly what he wanted to take pictures of. And so, we followed his lead. It went a little something like this.

Point! Run! Stop! Shoot! Repeat.

When it came time for us to take a lunch break, we had to tear him away. As he picked distractedly at his cheeseburger (normally, one of his very favorite meals), he repeatedly inquired, ‘More pictures? Statues?’ All he could think about was getting back out there with his camera. Honestly, by this point, I was bursting with parental pride and joy. He ran up stairs, he climbed up hills, he traipsed through fields all to get the shots he desired. At one point, he even insisted on taking a photo of a mud puddle. And so we stopped so that he could pursue his artistic vision.

He made all of the decisions about what he wanted to photograph and required very little assistance using the camera (a huge improvement from the last time we were out). He has mastered finding the shutter button and pressing it while focusing on his subject, but he still has a little trouble holding the camera still while taking the picture. Being that his camera is not of the highest quality, its shutter is rather slow, and this, coupled with his penchant for moving around, make for some blurry photos. I recently found the old Olympus that I used to shoot with before I invested in a dSLR and I am considering letting him use it the next time we go out, which may be as soon as this weekend.

Here are some of the shots we took.

Mud puddle!

Our photo day ended with ice cream cones all around and Sir requesting to take his camera with him whenever we go anywhere now. Heh.

photos : by yours truly and Sir

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It’s a Dog Eat Pancake World : A Recipe from Sir

It has been quite a while since I have shared a recipe from my 50’s throwback kitchen. Fortunately, Sir has afforded me the opportunity to share one of his favorites.

Sir has a tendency to be very particular about certain things. There is no doubt that he gets this from his (ever-so-slightly OCD) mother. In my family, there have always been two ways of doing things – our way and the wrong way. Heh.

So, when Sir requests ‘peepates’ for breakfast, there are certain protocols that must be followed. First, his chair must be pushed over to the entrance to the kitchen in order to provide prime viewing of the pancake-making activities. Second, he must have in his hands the rubber doggy potholder that usually resides on the back of the stove. What happens next varies, but almost always involves making the doggy potholder talk and/or trying to convince me that the doggy potholder is actually a scary snake. He also finds it necessary to remind Mommy of the time that she dropped the butter on the floor and had to throw it in the garbage.

Mommy drop butter. Oh, Mommy! In garbage.  *raucous laughter*

Recently, I inadvertently threw a monkey wrench into the normal pancake protocol when I neglected to return the doggy potholder safely to his perch above the stove when the pancakes were done. After pushing Sir up to the table and serving him is nice warm pancakes, I returned to the kitchen, where, within seconds, I heard ‘Doggy eat peepates!’

I turned around to find the doggy potholder sitting next to Sir’s plate with its mouth stuffed with pancake.

Sir takes great pride in the way that he makes sure his stuffed animals and other inanimate objects are well taken care of. Never are they left hungry, thirsty, or with an unchanged ‘diaper’. So, I’m sure you can imagine how happy he was with what he had done. His syrupy grin extended from ear to ear.

Sir’s Favorite Fluffy Pancakes (or Peepates)

What you need:

3/4 cup milk
2 Tbs white vinegar

1 cup flour
1 Tbs white sugar
1 Tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg
2 Tbs melted butter
1 Tbs vanilla


1/2 cup blues (also known as fresh blueberries) OR
1/2 cup chocolate chips

What to do:

Measure milk and add white vinegar. Set aside to sour. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Whisk egg, butter, and vanilla into milk and vinegar mixture. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until lumps are gone.

Heat a large skillet (or griddle) over medium/high heat and coat with a thin layer of non-stick cooking spray. Pour enough batter into pan to make desired size pancakes (optional: drop blueberries or chocolate chips into batter after it is in the pan). Flip pancakes when bubbles appear on the surface of the batter. Cook until golden brown  on both sides.

Makes about 3-4 servings. We like to freeze the extras and pop them in the toaster oven for a quick breakfast.

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A Little Passover Art

Last night was the first Seder of Passover. In celebration of the holiday, Sir’s class put on a Passover program at school last week. In general, I have been a little disappointed with the lack of art projects coming home from Sir’s school, but last Thursday he had a backpack FULL of painted, glittered, and glued artistic offerings.

From a festively painted posterboard hammer (with which to bang! bang! bang! like our ancestors in Egypt) to a glitter encrusted kiddush cup (just like Moses and the Israelites used while wandering in the desert, I’m sure!), it was a kid art extravaganza the likes of which we had never seen.

The most interesting piece was a paper plate turned Seder plate. Each of the kids had their own plate on which pictures of the symbolic foods of the holiday were printed. Looking at each of the plates, it was obvious that the kids had been given a range of colors to use to paint their plates – green, pink, blue, brown. Then, I got to Sir’s plate, which was…gray.

You know how there’s always the one kid who feels the need to mix ALL of the paint colors together until they make a lovely muddy grayish-brown mess? Well, that’s MY son! He also attempted to cover every visible speck of white on the plate with his brilliant concoction. My boy is nothing if not thorough!

During the program, the parents got to help their kids make a matzah cover from a square of muslin and some paint dabbers. I tried to offer my assistance in an effort to make it a collaborative project, but Sir was not down with that. He had very specific plans in mind, which mostly included banging each of the paint dabbers as hard as he could so that the paint would saturate through to the other side of the cloth and on to the table (all the while, smearing his chocolate matzah-covered fingers all over anything that got in his way).

Have I mentioned that I’m a tad OCD when it comes to messes? Heh.

My favorite project was the frog hat. Each of the kids in Sir’s class had one on when they walked in to start the program – a bunch of two-year-olds with glittery green frogs hopping back and forth on their heads is almost too cute for words. And then they sang the frog song…

One morning when Pharoah awoke in his bed
There were frogs in his bed, and frogs on his head
Frogs on his nose and frogs on his toes
Frogs here, frogs there
Frogs were jumping everywhere.

Aww. Happy Passover!

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Toddler Photography : Another Photo Outing

Sir and I had another photo outing this week. We met up with a good friend of ours who works at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Yes, you read that correctly, she works at the zoo. Best.Job.Ever.

I am sad to report that once we got past the iron lions at the entrance to the zoo, Sir lost pretty much all interest in taking photos. He couldn’t be bothered with it once he realized that he was free to run around the zoo completely unfettered like…well, a wild animal.

I did get him to take two photos though (I’m not counting the ‘I’m holding the camera and randomly pushing the shutter while pointing at the ground and picnic tables’ shots. Heh.). After taking a picture of one lion, he insisted on hugging and then photographing the other lion.

Still working on the old hand/eye coordination, but he’s getting there!


photos : iron lions by sir

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Preschool Art: Sir Begins a New Series

blue 9 by sir

Today was a special day in our house. Sir brought his very first art work home from school. It wasn’t the first painting he did at school, the others are hanging up in his classroom, but it is the first thing he has made at school and brought home for us to display. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but the breakfast nook in our house is his personal gallery where all of his work hangs – from the very first project he ever made (at the tender age of about 6 months) to the piece above. Extra special pieces are framed (as this one will be soon).

I asked him to tell me about his painting and he told me that the large blue area is the number nine (‘Boo nine!). He then pointed to the other areas and said very matter-of-factly, ‘Een! Red!’ – ‘een’ being his word for green, of course.

I think we can all agree that it’s better than anything I’ve ever done.

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Illustration Friday: Swarm

what's that at the window? a whole bunch of sevens.

I had a hard time coming up with an idea for this week’s topic. I finally found my inspiration while watching one of Sir’s favorite DVDs (for about the millionth time) – They Might Be Giants’ Here Come the 123s. This isn’t the first time I’ve looked to the song ‘Seven’ for inspiration. Heh.

If you need to get rid of a swarm of sevens, let them eat up all the cake.

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