Sometimes I Look At Her and I Still See a Baby

Painting I did yesterday taken from a photograph of Iris at 6 months

My daughter Iris is 6 months old in this picture. This year she turned 7 years old.

Sometimes I look at her and I still see a baby. She has not changed a bit.

Then I pull out the old photo albums and pictures like this pop out and it takes my breath away. When did my daughter get a jawline? She clearly did not have one at 6 months. When did her nose become long and slender? She had such a small button nose at 6 months. When did she get arms that revealed both her elbow and forearm? She had roly-poly sausages with five fingers sticking out of them at 6 months.

At 7 years old, my daughter is still very innocent. Yet, she knows words to pop songs. She talks on the phone to her best friend and they GIGGLE! I now fully understand the reference when someone says, “she giggled like a little school girl.” She talks about the presidential election. She asks me to do her hair a certain way.

But sometimes I just look at  her and I still see a baby.

Daddy’s Little Girl

My husband is my 7 year old daughter Iris’s biggest cheerleader. When I say she can have one piece of candy after supper…he sneaks her two and whispers not to tell me (I can HEAR you)! He is a parenting books nightmare. Sometimes he is my nightmare when it comes to this “softie” approach. I don’t say anything though…just give him my infamous “eye roll.” I secretly love how he adores our daughter and does everything from his heart. When Iris recently got her ears pierced he asked her several times a day if he could see them. She would proudly pull back her hair and he would whistle and say how beautiful they were. One night when I was tucking her into bed she said she thought Daddy loved her earrings the most out of anyone and that she loved showing him her earrings. It made me happy to know that this simple little gesture could bring a little girl so much joy. I guess everyone needs that “softie” in their life. Someone who will always cheer them on, sneak them one more piece of candy and tell them over and over how beautiful  and special they are.

Alex and Iris on their way to the Father/Daughter dance this spring

Painting I did of Alex and Iris today


Art Project With REAL Fire

Every time I go on Pinterest I’m seeing more and more of the art project that has people gluing brand new crayons on a canvas and then using a hair dryer to melt them. It creates a running stream of wax down the entire canvas and creates a beautiful work of art. I never did this as a kid or anything that involved melting crayons. It intrigued me.

However, I knew a new box of sharp crayons is too highly coveted in our house to use and besides we have hundreds upon hundreds of dull, neglected crayons. Also, the use of a hair dryer seemed a bit boring to me.

Alas, I came up with my own project. This project utilizes real FIRE! Since this was an experiment for me, I waited for a day when my daughter was gone and my almost 2 year old was down for his nap and could be a one-on-one project with my 5 year old Bency.

First, I started with a blank canvas. (I actually used a paint by number canvas. These were on clearance at a local craft store and seeing as how my kids like to do their own thing, paint by number wasn’t a huge hit.)

Blank canvas not required….you’re going to be filling it up!

Next, cover your work surface (I forgot this step and got melted wax all over my dining room table!); get your old, dull, PEELED, crayons (we used 10-12) and a candle.

Now you can start creating by simply holding your crayon over the flame for a few seconds to get the wax hot and then quickly move the crayon above the canvas to let the wax splatter on it.

We just focused on making abstract art this time as it’s hard to control where the wax always lands. I think with practice we’ll get better!

On a scale of 5 I give this project 3 stars. I really enjoyed doing it but it was time consuming. We spent 2 hours on this (Bency wanted to keep going but my other son woke up from his nap). It was messy but it was my fault that I didn’t lay newspaper down! Plus it is potentially dangerous. Open flame and 5 year old doesn’t really go together so supervise your child at ALL times!

My son gave it a solid 5 stars! He has been proudly showing off his work of art to everyone he sees and telling them he used REAL FIRE!

The finished product!

The First Lollipop

I painted this today. It is from a photograph I took in March when Cesar was 18 months old having his first lollipop. This is a true turning point and milestone in every kid’s life. One that is easily overlooked. Nothing will ever be the same again. The beloved banana and applesauce will pale in comparison once you get your first piece of candy. The laying down, flailing tantrums may start if denied from here on out. The parent takes such delight in seeing the look of surprise and satisfaction on their kid’s face at the first taste and the rest of their kid’s lives trying to hide it and take it away!


The First Lollipop

Monster Pooping Jelly Beans

When I was a little girl, my grandma Freda would write me letters stating that, “she needed more artwork for her cupboards.” In my mind, I imagined Grandma in a frantic desperation wondering what she could put on the bare spot. Apparently, my other cousins had been slacking on their artwork as well, and it was all up to me to put Grandma at ease. I would set to work, drawing and coloring. When I would get my picture done, my Mom would put it in the mail for me.

At our next visit to Grandma Freda and Grandpa Dale’s house, there it would be…my picture hanging on the kitchen cupboards along with about a dozen others and my cousin’s artwork as well! My grandparents lived in a 100 year old farmhouse that was filled with interesting artifacts and knickknacks. I felt proud that my artwork was featured among it all.


Bency’s framed “Cat” painting



Iris’s painting she did when she was 2 years old

As an adult, I absolutely love children’s artwork and I have not forgotten how Grandma Freda’s “gallery” made me feel about my own creations. I have instituted my own “gallery” in my own house and framed several pieces to display around the house as well.

I wasn’t sure if the gallery had an impact on my own kids until a day of rearranging and putting up new. My son asked why I took his “Monster Pooping Jelly Beans” picture down. I explained I’m always changing it to make room for all the new pictures and that I have all his artwork scanned into the computer and I proudly display it on the digital photo frame in our living room. He still looked like I had stabbed him in the heart until he noticed I had replaced it with “Baby With Chicken Pox in a Cage.” He also felt better when he saw I had taken down Iris’s magazine collage of “Bras” that she did when she was 4 and updated it with her recent picture of a unicorn.



Our “Art Gallery”



I won a few art contests in elementary school but nothing compared to being featured on Grandma’s farmhouse cupboards. Thanks to her “frantic desperation” for my art she always kept me drawing. I will continue to portray to my children that I am “frantically desperate” for their artwork as well!



Bency painting




The Teacher Who Did a Cartwheel

This past year our oldest child, Iris, attended 1st grade. Kindergarten had been amazing for her. She had dreams of staying in Kindergarten and having her same teacher forever! Part of me (mostly all) wanted her to stay too. It was a great class filled with the most adorable children, the cutest activities and a terrific teacher!

When she started 1st grade, she was nervous and scared. She thought nothing could “top” Kindergarten and she had heard rumors 1st grade was tough! The first week, she talked incessantly about her previous teacher. She was excited when she caught glimpses of her in the hallway or if she waved at her from across the cafeteria. She wrote notes to her and had her 1st grade teacher pass them on.

After one week, this all changed. She became enamored with her new teacher and 1st grade in general! As the year went on, her teacher became very special to her… almost like a second mother.  Before Kindergarten, I had spent nearly every minute with Iris, experienced all her experiences right along with her and almost everything she knew, I had taught her. Having her away from me was hard but knowing she was in such good hands was a comfort.

Iris learned so much in school this year and most importantly she gained confidence. I credit this to her teacher. Her teacher went above and beyond any teacher I ever had. She was sweet, kind, funny and still maintained respect from her students. She did cartwheels. She had “lunch with the teacher” days, where she would pick a child and they could pick a friend and the three of them would have lunch together in the classroom (these were Iris’s favorite days!). She gave hugs. She stopped to watch Iris learning to ride her bike one day after school. She was driving past when she noticed us at a parking lot practicing (this meant the world to Iris). She wrote back to all the notes Iris wrote her.  And I mentioned, SHE DID CARTWHEELS, right? She promised she would do a cartwheel if her whole class got their spelling test correct and they did! I can honestly say, I don’t think I had a teacher who could have done a cartwheel if she wanted to!

Teachers are amazing creatures and we were lucky to have one of the best!


A painting I did for Iris’s teacher. It was from a photo I took when I was there helping out.


Good Children Wear Hats

I have an uncanny love for hats! However, I can not “pull” off a hat. I do have a large collection of women’s vintage hats from the 40’s and 50’s that makes me dream about the stories of the women who wore them.

Iris, our 7 year old used to wear hats all of the time. Nana made her gorgeous hats. In the past year, Iris’s love of hats has waned and now you can only see her wearing a tiara during dress-up or to the grocery store last week.


A painting I did of Iris when she was 4 years old in 2009

Cesar, our almost 2 year old hates hats. Even during the winter months with my threat of, “You better wear this hat or your ears will freeze and fall off,” did nothing to motivate him to keep them on.


A painting of Cesar I did of the last time he wore a hat in 2011

Now Bency, the 5 year old LOVES hats! He does not wear them for a purpose or because I make him; he just genuinely loves them. He wears them 24 hours a day…even when he sleeps.

His collection of hats include a captain’s hat, a Daniel Boone raccoon tail, a derby hat (man size), a Pittsburgh Steelers winter hat and many more.

This spring I picked up an equestrian riding hat at a garage sale for 25 cents. I thought it would make a cool decoration. Bency immediately claimed it as his and began wearing it all the time…even when he slept. Now, if you’ve never seen an equestrian riding hat, these things are HEAVY! They are lined on the inside and velvet on the outside. Bency wore this hat everywhere…the park, grocery store, library and restaurants. As the spring weather got warmer you could see Bency wearing this hat with beads of sweat dripping down his face and his hair was completely wet. I told him it was time to put the “horse hat” away and get something more appropriate for summer.


A painting I did last night of Bency wearing his equestrian riding helmet

Bency began wearing the 1980’s bike racing hat the elderly neighbor lady gave him for Christmas. It is made of light material, has a brim to keep the sun out and according to Bency very comfortable to sleep in.

There’s something about a child wearing a hat that makes it hard to scold them. It evokes innocence, magic and a reminder that they have not hit the age where they think “they can’t pull off a hat.”

Cesar is about to enter that age where kids get sassy, selfish and think they rule the world. I wish I could convince him that if he just wore a hat it would save him a lot of “corner time” and “time outs.”