Monday, February 28, 2011

Finger-Painting For All

I'm a huge fan of anything that gets my fingers messy and involves colorful stuff, so naturally me and finger-paints are BFFs.

Annelie is a huge mess-lover as well, and especially loves squirting paint onto paper, so lately there has been much finger painting going on in the Hopkins house.

To keep things interesting, I love to put on music and have Annelie paint along - sometimes playing funky, jazzy songs and having her paint with the colors the music puts in her head (which is an activity I used to have my art students do when I taught 4th - 5th grade art enrichment programs back in my college days), but as that is difficult for my four-year-old sometimes, I like to play songs and have her paint images to go with the words.

Lukey's Boat is a song originating in Newfoundland (I like this one by Great Big Sea), with sea shanty roots and is perfect for preschoolers to paint along to. Or at least it's perfect for Annelie to paint along to, as she currently has a thing for sea shanties - probably stemming from my rollicking rendition of What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor, which I find myself singing when I'm doing housework (especially when I'm doing housework with a glass of wine in hand).

Listening to Lukey's Boat while painting leads to some very cute green boat painting.

And even I can't help but join in the green boat-painting fun.

How about you? Are you a finger-painting fool like us?

And all you moms with young kiddos - have you put on music to paint to while your kiddo's fingers get nice and ooey-gooey? If you haven't, give it a try! It's always good for getting those creative juices flowing, and keeping the awful, creativity crippling "but I don't know what to paint!" thoughts from creeping into their heads!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Here's a little flashback of sorts, as it is the twenty-second of February, a date which has a lot of significance for me.

Because seven years ago today... I KISSED THE BLARNEY STONE!

For those who don't know it, kissing the Blarney Stone, located at Blarney Castle in Ireland, is said to bring the "gift of the gab" - a charm of eloquent speech for telling tales and singing songs to mesmerize others.

Kissing the Blarney Stone used to be incredibly dangerous, as the stone is located at the top of the castle, between the castle wall and the parapet, and in order to kiss it, you have to bend backward and downward and try not to plunge to certain death. Which many people - mostly drunk people - did.

Nowadays, kissing the Blarney Stone is an easy feat (as long as you are not afraid of heights), with bars to hold onto and someone there for support, so you don't fall to your death.

I kissed it!

Now, if you're wondering if the legend is true, if I was charmed with a silver tongue to mesmerize others with my tales... well, maybe. Later that night, at the Dublin airport, as I was riding down the escalator, I saw a certain young (and super cute) Welshman sitting in the waiting area, the seat next to him empty. Naturally, I thought BINGO, that is my seat.

My friends had other ideas and went off to find a set of seats several rows back from the cute guy, but here's something to know about me - I'm the kind of girl who, when faced with a cute guy and an empty seat, will say to my friends, "Oh, look at that - there are five of us and only four seats... well, I'll just have to sit in that seat over there. I'll miss your good company, but it's for the best - I might even get some reading done."

So, I said adieu to my friends and sat myself next to the cute guy and pulled out my book (Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson - I highly recommend it), and as he pretended to sleep, I pretended to read (I say pretended, because really, we were trying not to be obvious as we glanced sideways at each other for about a half hour). Then finally, we began to talk.

And talk. And talk and talk and talk. Ten hours of talking, to be exact. Whether my tales were mesmerizing or not, only he can tell you.

But I'm thinking they probably were...

Thank goodness for that Blarney Stone!


Monday, February 21, 2011

A Little Crash Course...

in baby making...

I found this video via the lovely Beka, and I love it.

Now if only I could find the How to Raise a Baby crash course. Or the How to Raise Two High Energy Kidlets crash course.

Happy Monday, folks!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Daddy Saturday, Revisited

This past summer, I blogged about Daddy Saturday, when Will takes the girls off on weekend adventures, leaving me home to hack away at my book (or clean the house).

Now, in our family, I'm the one who takes the pictures. Will has picked up our camera once or twice in the 5 years we've had it, but even when he does remember to bring the camera on their adventures, he doesn't remember to take pictures.

Which means, and I'm sad to say, the Daddy Saturdays over the last year weren't photographed at all...


The other day, Will pulled out his phone and started scrolling though the pictures, and said, "Check out this one," as he held his phone toward me.

And I stared. "What is THIS!?"

So he showed me how to scroll though the pictures (I'm sorta tech challenged. And by sorta, I mean completely and totally) and I'm telling ya, opening a treasure chest couldn't have been more exciting than the discovery of the photos Will had taken with his phone during their adventuring.

Magical moments of life captured through eyes other than mine. Memories made by an awesome dad and his two daddy's girls. It was pretty darned amazing, and there is a slight possibility I was a weepy little baby as I looked through them. And there were over a hundred!

Better than a treasure chest - it was like finding a gold mine.

Will, you're the best dad ever, seriously.


Monday, February 14, 2011

My Kind of Valentine

This is my kind of Valentine...

'specially the hunky Captain Wentworth clips... *swoon!*

Happy Love Day, folks!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Flashback: Wales Rugby Shirt!

On my very first date with Will, he picked me up at my host family's house in Bath, drove to Wales, his country, which I'd never been to before, and said as we stopped for lunch, "So, I... uh... bought you a present." (only he has a super cute accent, so picture Hugh Grant saying that. You can even add a 'gosh, crikey' to it because I KID YOU NOT, my hubs sometimes says 'gosh, crikey.' Although now that I think about it, that might just be his Hugh Grant impression... but I digress)

A present! I'd never been given a present on a first date before and I'm not going to lie - I was a little nervous. We met at the airport in Ireland the week before, and yeah, okay, we spent ten hours talking, but still, we didn't really know each other well and first presents can be a little nerve-wracking. I mean, what if it sucks? What if it's a shot glass and thong underwear like the first present my boyfriend gave me when I was a junior in high school?

Well, it wasn't a shot glass. And thankfully, it also wasn't a thong. It was a shirt. Not just any kind of shirt - it was a rugby shirt for the Wales rugby team.

At the time, I didn't realize just what a very big deal that was. I should have, of course. Girl meets cute guy. Guy gives girl present on first date. Present is a jersey to cheer on his favorite team, which, "oh, by the way, I'm seeing Wales play France in a Six Nations game in a couple weeks and will try to get you a ticket, if you want..."

Yeah, I didn't realize what a big deal that was. I'd like to chalk it up to our cultural differences, but really I'm sort of clueless. I think I probably said, "Oh, thanks! It's cute! And it actually matches my new handbag, which has red flowers and is sparkly!"

Well, two weeks later, I wore it to see Wales play France in the Six Nations game.

And half a year later, I was wearing it when we got engaged.

Last week, for Will's birthday, we went to a pub in Austin to watch Wales play England in the Six Nations game. We ate fish and chips slathered in salt, vinegar and ketchup. He drank a couple pints of Guinness and I had my pints of Strongbow. And seven years after he gave it to me, I donned my Wales shirt, which I wear all the time since I love it so much, and we cheered on our favorite rugby team.

Thanks, honey. I really do love that shirt!

Happy Friday, folks! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! As I turn the big 3-0 on Sunday... well, my weekend might not be so great because I'm reeeeeaaaally not ready to leave my twenties behind. But I will make up for it by eating enormous amounts of cupcakes.

Which will go straight to my 30-year-old hips...



Have a flashback of your own to share? Head on over to Tia's blog and join in the flashback fun!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Playdoh on the Table and Frogs on the Brain

Egads, here we are, eight days into February, and already I'm falling behind when it comes to the Picture Book Dummy Challenge.

But it's just so hard to sit down and type out a picture book story when I'm having too much fun playing with my kiddo.

Playdoh... I just love the stuff.

And I still have frogs on my brain, so this counts as work for my frog story, right?


But now it's time to put my nose to the grindstone and write (haha) or else I'll never finish my dummy book by summer.

Happy writing, all you writers! Happy playdoh-playing, all you mothers! Happy crafting, all you crafters! And happy Tuesday to everyone!


Thursday, February 3, 2011


We're going out of town for the weekend, so I'm packing, packing, packing.

Wales rugby jersey - check!

Book of magical folk tales - check!

Out of My Mind by Sharon M Draper - check!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner - check!

The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan - check!

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi- check!

Clothes -

um... I think I need a bigger suitcase.

Enjoy your weekend, folks!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Illustration Friday - Surrender

Ooookay, I haven't done Illustration Friday in over a year. Way to be awesome, Marisa! But the topic this week is Surrender, and as I've been thinking of the PB (picture book) I'm working on for the dummy book challenge, I knew I could come up with a little something for Illustration Friday.

So here is a little character sketch (scribbled on the back of a page of the YA manuscript I'm currently revising - I'm so very resourceful - or else too lazy to dig out my sketchbook) of poor sweet Consuelo, who knows that she must surrender to her father's wishes and marry the rich, though grotesque, Don Roberto.

Poor girl.

I'm just going to go ahead and say that drawing a grotesque toad is very hard when you're the kind of person who thinks toads are just adorable. But it is only a character sketch after all. Practice, practice, practice!

Happy Wednesday, folks! We're currently snowed in, so there is much cake eating and hot chocolate drinking while we wait for spring!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Workspace!

According to Jon and Tina and Kristen and a whole bunch of other folk, today is Unofficial Show Off Your Workspace Day, or something like that. I thought I'd play along, so here's a peek into my world.

I have a lot of work spaces because I have issues when it comes to where I need to be creative. For example - the above photo is my official desk, found in my studio. This is where I check emails and read blogs, tweet on Twitter and update my Facebook status a thousand times a day... basically, where I am supposed to be doing my writing and art (so says my husband who reminds me that I have a studio all to myself with a huge table just for my art, and a new computer to go in it, just to keep me contained in one place...)

But here, in the living room, on my most comfortable couch (modeled by my clone), is where I wrote the first third of SLEEP, the book I'm currently revising. It took me about three months to draft the first part of my book and I refused to believe I could work in any place other than my corduroy couch...

Until spring hit, and I realized I needed a change of scene. So, I moved to the dining room table, where I wrote the second third of SLEEP.

And when I knew without a doubt that I couldn't possibly type one single word more unless I found a new place to write, I moved to the red couch in the family room and wrote the final third of SLEEP.

(This is probably my favorite place to write, because my hubs is always on the matching love seat watching TV, and though I have my headphones on, I really like sitting near him while working)

So, one year spent drafting in three different locations. Now that I'm revising, I do it all at the main computer in my studio.

I didn't take a picture of my shower... but I probably should have included it in my workspace post, because my shower is where I do ALL of my brainstorming and problem-solving. My crit partners and I call these the Showers of Epiphany, because seriously, they are a necessary part of the writing process.

When it comes to art, I'm the exact same way. I've had this drawing board for the last 12 years, and it goes with me from room to room, couch to couch, table to table. The paper on it is sized 11 x 14, so you can see that my drawing board is pretty big.

And no matter where I go, my kitties follow. Somer usually sleeps on my legs, behind my lap top where it is the warmest.

And Sophie is always on my lap, kneading and sucking on my bathrobe or blankets.

She might be a grown up cat now, but she's still a little baby blanket sucker.

And that's my work space(s)!


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