Cartooning for Kids: A review.

51ouZJYEi2L._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_The kids have this book. It’s called Cartooning for Kids and it gives you step by step instructions that show you how to draw cartoon pictures of dogs, cats, hippopotamus and more. The description on Amazon says:

You don’t have to be a great artist to be a good cartoonist. Because cartoons are based in humor, not art; the secret to their success is to think funny. In this handy guide, you’ll find detailed instructions for creating cartoon people and animals. With a little practice you’ll be drawing adults and children, creatures, and more. “A fun, funny, instruction book for all ages.”—Copley News Service.

Sounds pretty great. I’ve been impressed with MM’s drawings which are pretty spot on and when BB said she wanted to try, I told her to find a pad of paper and give it a go.

Here’s her first attempt with explanations from the artist where needed:


Is anyone else seeing like a wart hog? Or a water buffalo? Or that creature hiding in your closet at night? This picture got funnier and funnier with each detail and I had to bite my tongue to keep from stopping her every so often to interject with advice like “that’s about 5 lumps too many” or “you forgot two of the feet” or “those tails should really be more pointy.”

Because the truth is – just like the description said: cartoons are based in humor, not art

And I’d rather see how her mind interprets the instructions and where her imagination takes her, than to just have a copied image, detail for detail, from the book. It’s much more memorable this way, don’t you think?


6 Things I Learned In July.


Hard to believe that the end of July is upon us! It’s been a busy month – it always is when we travel. I’m linking up with Emily Freeman to share a few things I learned this month, on the road and otherwise. Silly or serious. There are no rules here really except to document what you’ve learned and share.

  1. My in-laws taught Dan and I how to play Pitch. Apparently it’s his parent’s favorite card game and my brother in law’s as well – and now we all seem to be big fans which is bound to make family get togethers a lot more interesting! I have some very wonderful memories of playing Pitch into the wee hours this month, laughing hard and bonding big time.
  2. I learned how to up my Ramen game – we had friends over this month and we cooked a more homemade style of Ramen complete with a soft boiled egg on top. Major game changer.
  3. I also learned how to soft boil an egg, which might be my new favorite way to cook and consume eggs.
  4. I learned about three different places to experience Platform 9 3/4 and now I want to visit them all.
  5. I learned from reading her new book that Danielle Fishel worked at Macy’s during the holiday season as a gift wrapper, mostly because it sounded like fun. And that even Danielle Fishel is not immune to rude customers.
  6. I learned how good it feels to tidy up a room according to Marie Kondo’s methods in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I still have a LONG way to go in both the book and my house (so I guess I’m not really following her advice to clean it all out now immediately) but it still felt great to see my office floor again.

I’m sure I’ll think of more things I learned later that I should have shared, but this is a pretty good representation of my month over all. Share what you learned in the comments section or link up with Emily and send me a link to your answers!

What’s your favorite card game?

Favorite way to cook eggs?

swim lessons, take two.


The kids started their second session of swim lessons on Monday, just a few days after arriving home from our summer vacation. Monday was a little bit of a culture shock for me, diving back into our world of organized, scheduled activities but the kids didn’t skip a beat, eager and excited to see who their teachers would be and get back in that pool!

BB is doing a second session of Level 1 which seemed appropriate to me since this is her first time taking swim lessons. She made great progress in the first session but was still getting comfortable with floating and sticking her face in the water, so I’m glad they are taking their time with her. She lucked into another very small class of just her and one other student (and just herself the first day) which is so great for a beginning swimmer. I’m thrilled to see her getting such one on one instruction.

MM was jumped ahead from Level 2 to Level 3 after the first lesson which was a wonderful surprise, but well earned after a summer vacation that existed more in swimming pools and water slides than on dry ground. As I mentioned yesterday, MM made a major leap in swim confidence on our trip – tackling his fear of the water slides only to become rabidly obsessed with them. I think this kind of clicked the switch that he needed to progress forward as he honestly had most of the Level 2 skills already, just lacking the confidence. (mind you, all of this is speculation from the mom who isn’t in the pool with him most of the time).

11066234And what of my accomplishments? I am making good progress in our book club’s next pick, The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. It manages to have gorgeous prose without feeling stuffy or difficult to read – with characters that have caught my interest – always a good sign.

Even better is finding a nice shaded spot to sit while reading, with a good view of each kid’s area in the pool so that I can glance up every so often to say “oh good, happy and well.” (read: still alive – yay!)

How is your summer going?

Summer Vacation 2015: Cheers & Jeers


We drove from Wisconsin to Hershey Park in one day – by the skin of our teeth, arriving at the hotel at 11:45pm. Then we drove from Pennyslvania to Massachusetts, visited as many family members and friends as we could before driving back to Wisconsin again four days later. Like any road trip vacation, there were awesome memories and less awesome memories, too. Here are some highlights.

Cheers to:

1. Preventative doses of children’s dramamine for the car sick prone girl child. Hurray for no pukes on the road (or otherwise).

2. The rest stops in Ohio were borderline gorgeous with Panera Bread and Dairy Queen so children and adults felt pampered. Also impressed with the assortment of healthy snacks and fresh produce available at all the rest stops. Fresh strawberries make any meal seem healthier.

3. Relaxing with a good book in a private cabana the next day after a long day on the road. Completely recharged my batteries.

4. MM becoming obsessed with the water slides at the hotel pool. This was a big deal for him, he’s been a slow to learn swimmer and never really much of a thrill seeker – tackling the water slides is a pretty big step for him.

5. Bonding time with family. Playing Pitch with the inlaws into the wee hours. Going to Boston with my dad. Watching little cousins enjoy theme parks and birthday cakes and little memories together. Trying to teach my in-laws how to play Munchkin. Catching up with my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and more.

6. So much birthday cake. I think we saw at least 5 birthday cakes on this vacation, most of them for BB who turned six while we were in Massachusetts.

7. Candlepin bowling with my best friends from high school and most of their children – two generations of people who were mostly terrible at bowling but loved every minute of it.

Jeers to:

1. Sketchy gas stations in Pennsylvania and Illinois with “working but not working bathrooms” and potholes that could swallow your car whole. And gas stations that don’t seem to actually sell gas.

2. Forgetting all my plans to stop worrying and go with the flow – though I did good with this on the whole, there were a few moments when I kind of ruined my own fun by worrying too much over nothing in particular. I’ll continue to work on this.

3.  There never being enough time to catch up with everyone sufficiently. Though we were ready to go home by the end of our trip, we definitely weren’t ready to say goodbye yet.