Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gone Batty

I absolutely love my family and friends, adore my coworkers, and think my students hung the moon with their amazingness...but sometimes, I have to say, it would rock to be able to wrap my wings around my body,  hang upside down while sleeping all day, and cruise around eating all night long.  I don't even think I'd mind picking bug parts out of my teeth.  You know, just once in a blue moon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spears and Flowers

From behind the front room blinds, I watch my little guy as he crosses the street after getting off the school bus.  After a LONG day at school, starting with football practice at 6:45, that kiddo is smiling and has such an incredible bounce in his step.  He walks up to the house, tosses his backpack on the porch swing, setting it in motion, and grabs the handmade bamboo stick spear that resides inclined against the corner of the house by the front door.  He throws it over and over and over, the tip unable to pierce the hard dry ground.  This kid loves his spear!  After returning his favorite weapon to its home, he bursts in the front door, shoulders seemingly more broad than when I dropped him at school this morning.  Little kid is going all mannish on me!  Beautifully so.

Being the only girl in the place, I go through phases of totally craving the girly things in life.  The phases are brief, and often overwhelmed by wrestling and B.O., but this last one came in the form of craving girly wallpaper for my cell phone.  Sometimes a girl just needs some flowers....

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lovin' the Heat

I know it's freakish, but I kind of love this weather.  Simply said, it feels good to my body.  Every time I walk out of an over-A/C'd building I absolutely delight in the 100 plus degree heat...I just stand there and thaw out, blood slowly returning to my extremities.  I ride my bike home from work at 3:30ish and my body doesn't even register that it's hot, though I must say the ride is better since I started locking it up in the shade so the black seat isn't on the verge of combustion.  Just thought you'd love to hear that someone was digging it.

Here's a little healing Barton Springs bliss.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Part of the Community

Today I was honored to be a volunteer at Future Craft Collective's 4th annual clothes swap (  It was held in the cafeteria of the school where I work.  I got there first thing in the morning to let volunteers in to get set up and then I returned when the event was just getting under way.  I set up my sewing machine not at all sure of what I was expected to do.  Something along the lines of "Kids will bring things to you and they'll have ideas for what you should sew."  Well, I sat next to a lovely lady named Cynthia and we waited for whatever was to come.  And, boy oh boy, did it come!  Children have the most amazing and creative ideas (and so do their parents!!).  I made some minor repairs, sewed hearts on many T-shirts and pants, and created A LOT of really cool bags (my fave was an adult blue jean flared skirt that I stitched closed across the bottom, and then used pieces cut from beige courderoy pants to create a wide shoulder strap...I have to say, it was pretty freakin' awesome!).  I loved, loved, loved talking to the kiddos about what I was doing, explaining why I was turning something inside-out, why I was pinning it, why, why, why.  I was blissfully exhausted when I stopped sewing 90 minutes after the initial 2 hour volunteer commitment I had made.  My fingers were actually slightly numb at the tips from all the vibration, I was starving, I really needed to go to the bathroom...and I was very, very happy.  What a spectacular community event!  Thank you, Future Craft Collective, for being so amazing!

Inspired by the lovely back gates at the Zilker Botanical Gardens.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Colorful Life

I reflect on my childhood...well, basically a bunch of the time.

My childhood was filled with and incredible number of options for activities, lessons and experiences.  Basically unlimited...which allowed me to do ballet, tap, disco, belly dance, piano, recorder, french horn, trumpet, acting, and on and on.  The richness of it all was wonderful, the fact that much of the time it was two or three or four of these things all happening at the same time in my life was overwhelming.  I didn't know it at the time, though, it was simply my normal.

During different periods of my adult life I've felt incredibly frustrated by and resentful of this, felt that I learned to be mediocre at a everything (with the exception of french horn...I absolutely excelled with it...but then I quit in high school).  Now I look back and see that I was afforded a huge array of experiences which made for a truly rich childhood.  I now know that mediocrity is absolutely OK, excelling is unnecessary, but a nice bonus, particularly when it's purely accidental.

Anyway, I thank my mom for her obsessive quest for finding classes, schlepping me around, listening to me complain, and nagging me to practice, practice, practice.  My dad gets credit here, too, for financing all of it and he definitely did his share of nagging, too.

So now I still lead a colorful life.  I don't do too many things at once any more.  I take lessons sequentially, not all at the same time.  I am still mediocre at most everything, and I love being OK with that.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

A concept I don't excel at, but strive to.  Luckily today I had it forced upon me.  I was walking around my school campus today with one of my students when the clouds rolled in.  As the raindrops began to fall my student walked over the the edge of the sidewalk and sat down.  I sat alongside and we both were still, taking in the scent of rain while our shoes showed spreading spots of dampness.  I sure do appreciate that little one for understanding what simply needed to be done at that moment.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Those Wonderful Little Moments

Most days I pick my big kiddo up from a spot a short walk from his high school.  Where I park I have a clear view of him walking toward my car.  "Walking" might actually be too strong a word for what he's doing.  The giddy in his step he used to have as a youngun' whenever he saw me after school has definitely got up and went.  But, when he's about 20 feet from the car I start getting all squirrelly and excited and I'm just beaming ear to ear...I'm so excited to see him.  He sees me, rolls his eyes, clearly sighs, and then the grin starts spreading across his face and he can no longer make eye contact with me as he gets in the car.

"Mom, why do you always do that to me?"

"Because I love you, kiddo!"

Then the hard rock station is found on the radio...loud...that's OK, I've just had one of my favorite moments of the day, and besides, I dig that song.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Never too old to learn something new...

I go through a lot of my life (outside of family and work) just vaguely aware of things happening right around me, and I'm blissfully unaware of current political, world, and celebrity news.  Yeah, I miss a lot, but what I miss I consider clutter to my level of happiness, so I guess I'm saying I don't miss missing it.  :-)  I do pay attention to some stuff, though.  I feel like my dog, Scout, stopping to look at something, tilting my head, probably seeing something in it that others miss, maybe even framing it in my mind.  So, hey, it probably evens out, right?

I was asked a couple of weeks ago if I could possibly draw something.  Thankfully it was through email so I didn't have to get that blank look on my face in front of someone.  Well, after mere seconds of Googling, I found out that "Mexican bark painting" was not, in fact, drawing something that merely conveys the look of some rough bark on a tree as I'd guessed, but a magnificent art form that I've loved forever.  I had a number of them as a kiddo, I just never knew the name...loving that I do now!  Super fun challenge, and one that I want to keep playing with for sure!  Thanks for the inspiration, A.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Early morning scene at the Parsons household.

Me:  "Come on, get out of bed and get in the bathtub."

My kiddo:  "Where is it?"

Me:  "Uh...where we always keep it."

Yeah, this morning was slightly rough around the edges as the kiddos transformed from their sleeping-till-noon summer selves to their waking-up-way-too-early school year selves.  I felt for them and I'm pretty darn happy to report that they rose to the occasion.  A great first day of school was had by all (including me)!  And Dave LOVED being in the quiet house today, I'm sure.

A lovely friend and relative of mine trusted me to take a stab at interpreting a written story of hers through painting.  I read and reread her story pulling out some key concepts, "transformation" being the most powerful for me, and opening myself to whatever imagery popped into my head.  I had three different ideas that I liked.  The two I liked best I just couldn't get drawn out the way I imagined in my head.  The third was composed of things I'm more confident drawing and this is the one I chose to paint.  I'll return to those more challenging images soon because I feel like they were more "right on", and, yeah, I do so love a challenge.  One thing I learned during the process of involves every part of me, my mind, my heart, my soul.  So different than the feeling I have when I'm drawing something I do purely for beauty's sake.  It was a lovely exercise, one that I'd like to do more of.

Anyway, here's to transformation...large or small...they are all awesome in their own way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

And another summer comes to a close....

I've been spending the evening waffling between feeling melancholy about this wonderful summer coming to a close, blissful about the wonder it's been, and feeling excited about the start of a new school year.  For many years now I thought I'd be a writer someday...I wrote most of a novel about 15 years ago (I stopped when I began grossing myself out with too much gore), wrote and illustrated three children's books that I use in my classroom for different units, and I've dabbled in writing short stories.  Well, this summer has brought out in me storytelling with a paintbrush.  Dare I say I consider myself a real-life artist now?  I look at my right hand, with a lovely scab-covered burn from a couple of weeks ago, and think, "who knew?"  When I've seen art around town I've found that my reactions run the gamut, loving it fiercely all the way to totally hating it.  I figure people think the same range about what I do.  But, I love that I sit back after I've worked on something and I almost always dig it.  I think that rocks.

I had the great privilege of hanging out at Casa Wonderlandia over the summer for a few days.  Had the place to myself while I watered all the plants (no small task, it took 90 minutes per day!) and fed the delightful, yet elusive, kitty, Booga.  As I slowly walked the property while watering, I snapped many shots of the beautiful plants and adornments.  I've referred back to many of these over the past weeks and have had so much fun drawing my impression of them, hoping to capture the beauty and whimsy that is Casa Wonderlandia.  Here's another one...and, yeah, it makes me happy.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Love Note

When it comes to my kiddos, some days I have to look WAY in between the lines to feel the love.  Not seeing it in the eyes, not seeing it in the actions, and certainly not seeing it in the words I hear.  But...early in the morning I found a little post it note where I keep my contact lenses on a shelf over our said, "Fell in toilet."  Little dude didn't want me to touch the container, much less put them in my eyes, without full disclosure of the middle-of-the-night event.  He even told me the next day that he had washed it, but wanted me to know what had happened.  Now, if that doesn't say love, I don't know what does.

Speaking of love, I love, love, love tattoos on the lower back.  I especially like them when the person getting the tattoo doesn't feel bound by the laws of symmetry.  Mind you, I'm over getting tattoos, so I would never get one there, myself, but I do love tattoos when they're beautiful, meaningful, and not taking up too much body acreage.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Old Friends

Know what feels fabulous?  Having a bunch of my previous years' students stop by my classroom to say, "Hi".  I tell ya, it's a glorious feeling.  Makes me really happy that I'm facebook friends with my all-time favorite teacher.  It's not stopping by his classroom for a high five, hug, and a story, but it's pretty darn awesome.

Switching topics...for years I've looked at the two peacock feathers that we've had tucked into the edge of a wall shelf in our bathroom.  Last night I looked at them and I feel like, for the first time, I really saw them.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Young Writers

Every year I go to many, many professional development trainings.  All I ask from them is that I get one amazing nugget of an idea that I can take back to my room and implement.  Happily, this has been the case just about 100% of the time...sometimes many more than one nugget.  On Tuesday I attended a workshop about getting young children to write.  There was amazing nugget after amazing nugget.  One thing she touched on was that we shouldn't micromanage their days/activities.  We should allow conversations/friendships to develop without intervention (unless something really awful is going on, of course), as you never know what will spur a writing idea.  Also, it's more important that kiddos are writing than the actual subject matter they're writing about...if it gets them writing it pretty much rocks.  I sat there thinking back on the wonderful kindergarten teacher, Ms. Jeanne Roden, that both of my children were lucky enough to have.  I clearly remember her being very excited that my youngest was writing and illustrating and that he was so exuberant about sharing his story with the class.  I was SO PROUD.  Well, this amazing woman showed me his book and it was all about everyone in our family farting and pooping.  I love Ms. Roden for seeing the awesomeness of his book and for not discouraging him at all.  And, yes, now Ms. Roden knows that Dave and I do, in fact, fart AND poop, and, well, I suppose you do, too, now.

Anyway, the woman giving the presentation was SO pregnant, unbelievably so.  I actually thought she might go into labor at any moment.  She was beautifully huge!  Near the end of her presentation she casually mentioned that she was six months pregnant...six!  That'll be one big, beautiful baby for sure.  I think pregnant women are the most spectacular creatures, visually and at the soul level.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Heat and Dreads

Back to work full-time this week and the time juggling act is in full force.  I have to tell ya, there is nothing hotter than getting a text from my husband saying that he's at Costco and wants to know what groceries I want.  I mean HOT! 

This picture I painted tonight is unrelated to my previous paragraph...but I've been wanting to try to paint braids or dreads.  Tricky, beautiful things.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flowers and Butterflies

I think my obsession with flowers is, well, perfectly OK.  I take pictures of them, draw and paint them, do doodles of them when I'm in meetings, stare at people's clothing when they're adorned with them...I love them.  And butterflies, gosh, pure magic!  What else can I say...they bring all my happiness to the surface.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Full Moon Awesomeness

I have had the best summer ever!  Gobs of teachers and other school staff returned to work in Austin today.  While it didn't quite seem real, I was glad to be back.  I don't think I'd love and enjoy summer nearly as much if I didn't have the opportunity to work so hard and fully dedicate myself to teaching during the school year.  It's a great gig!

Loved, loved, loved the full moon!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm a bag lady!

Took a beginner's sewing class today at Stitch Lab (  So much fun!!  Learned all sorts of bells and whistles my sewing machine has that I had no clue about and some super cool sewing tricks that I think you have to be part of a seamstress cult to be in the know.  Looking at that 11 year old machine with total awe and love now.  We learned and talked and talked and learned and then made a tote bag.  I brought it home to show it off and Dave did with it exactly what he always does when I buy or make clothing...yup, right on top of his head.  My new bag makes him look fabulous!

And it's reversible!   I love being a bag lady!

Doodlicious kind of day!

Spent the day helping Dave with an A/V setup in San Marcos yesterday.  So much fun seeing his sister, Dayna, and our niece, McKae, who both work at the hotel where the equipment was being used.  Before we left Austin, I painted a doodle in my journal.  There's a little kitty spit in this one...caught Pug drinking out of my brush rinse dish.  Good thing I was using my cheap, non-toxic crayola watercolor set for this one...who knows what they put in my more expensive sets.  I'm thinking the kitty spit added a little something special!

We spent hours (yes, "hours") between set up and break down in a great little coffee shop called The Coffee Pot.  Dave worked on his super cool animation and I took a stab at drawing with colored pencils.  While we were there this lovely young guy (total dead ringer for Adrien Brody) went to each table and asked permission from everyone there for him to play the piano.  We all cheered him on and he was AMAZING!  There was a T-shirt on the wall behind the counter that said, "Keep San Marcos Weirder than Austin"...good job today, San Marcos!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dreaming of Spring?

As hot as it is, I still love the way it feels every time I step out into it.  Find a little shade and it's purely blissful.  Feeling a lot of gratitude for the trees and the shade they've been giving me...perhaps I'm also dreaming just a little about spring.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hangin' with Bona Fide Artists

I spent the morning at Stefanie Distefano's place glazing a guitar shaped platter.  So much fun being in the presence of amazing artists!  Lucky me!  Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Stefanie's site:

When I was there I was able to pick up the belt buckle I made a while back.  Makes me feel pretty sassy!  :-)

My Lovely, Crafty Grandma Guy

I called my dad's mom, Grandma Guy.  Her name was Frances Parsons and she was married to Guy Parsons...guess my little toddler brain thought it made perfect sense to call them Grandpa Guy and Grandma Guy.  She was pretty much the craftiest person ever and I received numerous hand-made gifts from her over the years.  One of my favorites is an awesome cat pillow.  It's made of teal corduroy with all these totally awesome embroidered shapes all over it and it's obviously from the 70s.  I keep it in my craft/laundry room for inspiration.  Had to put its amazingness on paper today.  Love....