Sunday Sketch: Twins in the Mirror

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Last week I took M and E to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Most of the museum is for kids a bit older, but we went to the nursery area, which was fabulous and more than enough. When I got them out of the stroller they screeched with delight, immediately pulling up on a wood barrier and smiling at all the babies toddling around, the colors, the toys.

Their favorite thing was a very low wooden platform with a bunch of blocks on it. Attached to the wall next to the platform were two metal bins. M spent about a half an hour carefully taking all of the blocks out of the bins. E enjoyed crawling around on the low platform, practicing going from level to level and scooting off onto the carpet while holding a block in each hand.

Since it is Sketch Sunday, I thought I’d commemorate the outing with a watercolor. This is them at the museum, checking out a mirror. This is also part of my new “Explore Pittsburgh with Twin Babies” initiative. Stay tuned for the next edition.

Tiny People Live in Frick Park

There seems to be a population of teeny people living in Frick Park. Or maybe it’s little pants-wearing mice, or fairies? Whatever they may be, they live in the bases of trees and the entrances to their homes are plain to see for those who know where to look. The doors are a few inches high, made of wood, the handles tiny screws.

Discovering these teeny doorways all along the Tranquil Trail made me feel like a kid on a treasure hunt. I’ve found ten so far, more each time I go. Apparently a mysterious door has also been found in San Francisco–perhaps wood fairy ranks are growing?

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Arty Creative Games for Kids Age 2 to 100

Here’s another arty creative game to try with kids or just to do yourself. This is in the same vein as my post on drawings from scribbles and hair.

I just came across this idea here (and in her blog she links to other really fun blogs of the same). Here’s what you do. Draw some random blob with watercolor. Let it dry. Take a pen and make it into something. Here’s what I came up with. And I’ll admit it took four pages for me to get a whole page of them I thought were okay enough to share here (I’ll spare you Elvis Donkey, Upside Down Backpack Man, Rat Dog and the other characters from first few pages 😉 ) Here’s the before and after. Hope they inspire you to a few moments of creativity! It’s pretty addictive.

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Sunday Sketch

 

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Sunday Sketch

I know this is a parenting blog and all, but maybe Sunday Sketch will be my new Sunday thing. Today was not the best day, but in the late afternoon I did take a walk alone in Frick Park.

I turned on a different path, which took me up a steep ravine and then suddenly dead-ended at Forbes Avenue, which traverses the park on a very high overpass. I was disappointed to discover that I’d have to walk the width of the park on Forbes to get back inside. But it turned out to be kind of beautiful walking along so high up, looking down on the trees. I stopped midway to do a quick sketch of the horizon, my sketchbook and pastels balanced precariously on the side rail. My second sketch is of some of my favorite houses along the bowling green.

Tomorrow back to regularly-scheduled baby announcements.

Impressions of New York City After Having Moved Away

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Three months ago, when our twins were nine months old, my husband and I moved away from New York City in search of an easier life. This weekend I went back for a friends’ wedding, which was my first time away from the babies and also my first time back in New York. Following are a few of my thoughts, not on being away from the babies (more on that later), but on returning to New York where I lived for fourteen years.

After driving for hours in the dark, I first realized I was approaching the New York metropolitan area because of the sky. It wasn’t black anymore but a sort of wan maroon. The pavement was suddenly full of potholes, too, and I struggled to stay on I-95 as I looped over and below interchanges. The thought occurred to me that it felt like entering a rat’s nest.

The next day, at Grand Central, I made my way to the subway and caught the 4 train. It was dank and the lighting made everyone look greasy. People bumped into me as passengers jostled for a spot to hold on. The whole visit, people would continuously bump into me, brush past me, nudge me as they went by, and I’d realized how my sense of personal space had expanded in just a few months away.

At Fulton I switched to the C train, which flew through the tunnel, rattling as if it might fly apart. Everything seemed worn down to a germ-ridden nub. Two women, one with slicked-down bangs and wearing bright lipstick, the other very large and with a beautiful smile, laughed together about something and I found it amazing that until recently riding underground had felt normal to me, too. When I got out of the train I passed a couple lugging their stroller with toddler up the subway steps and it struck me as a sad place to see a baby. The walls were covered in soot.

Then I made my way to a small restaurant for my friends’ wedding. The restaurant was just perfect. A restaurant like you can only find in New York. Cozy, bustling, full of sparkling, intimate conversation and interesting people elbow to elbow, waiters who are also Independent movie buffs. The ceremony was beautiful and made me cry.

As I left I walked by one of my favorite bookstores, still open at that late hour and brightly lit. In the subway, two men were playing lively music. I walked by and stopped halfway down the platform. The music was really, really good–so good I made my way slowly back toward them. The singer wore a black vest, he had a fresh-looking face with a scruff of beard. The other man was playing percussion by hitting his hands on the hollow wood box he was sitting on, controlling a tambourine with his foot. They were singing love songs, rocking out, hitting everything exactly right. People up and down the platform crept closer and closer. Three young men started dancing to the beat. A woman in hospital scrubs got out her cell phone and started filming. An older woman in a flowered blouse and a young hispanic man threw in a dollar, both smiling. The growing crowd formed a circle, everyone bobbing their heads. When they finished there was applause. “Thanks for your good vibes,” the singer told the three dancing men. The subway came, and everyone boarded with a smile.

And then I remembered why I love New York City. There amidst the grime and unpleasantness was this moment among strangers of all backgrounds and walks of life, people who had no reason to know each other, brought together for a magic moment by art. I felt lucky to have been just at that place at that time.

I’m sorry I doubted you, New York.

 

 

First Art Collaboration: Baby and Me

 

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It was rainy today, again. I decided to sketch the babies. Of course they were having none of it. M kept trying to grab the book and pencils and put her drooly rubber frog on my drawing. E was less interested, but she was moving around so much I could barely get an outline with the two-seconds between her moving and M grabbing the paper. I couldn’t produce anything worth sharing.

On a whim I decided to trace M’s hand, which she kept putting on the page anyway. Of course as soon as I seemed interested in her keeping her hand there she grabbed it away. She acted pretty much how she does when I try to clean her hands after eating–extremely resistant, to put it lightly.

So I tried the hand-tracing with E instead. I got some colored pencils and put the sketchbook on the ground. Each time she put her hand on the page I did my best to trace its outline. A few times I got the whole hand, most times just a finger or a line before she grabbed it away. But she kept coming back. And the paper kept getting more and more colorful. I added a couple outlines of my hand in there, too, and afterward I filled it in with some solid color.

So it was our first art collaboration. Hopefully there will be more in the future.  I was reminded of this artist I saw online awhile ago, who created pretty amazing paintings with her four-year-old daughter. You should definitely check those out, here, for something inspiring. But I’m happy with our first collaboration.

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First Baby Steps

First Baby Steps

M is taking little steps. Not by herself, but now when you hold her up by both hands and coax her she takes jerky little steps forward. She is working on walking. Above is a sketch of her and D.

New Horse Friend

New Horse Friend

Here’s a drawing of our new little rocking/ride-on horse. I got it off the neighborhood list serv for $5. After disassembling it and washing it I’ve finally put it back together and am excited to see how the babies will like it. I hope they do. I’m feeling quite fond of it myself. What a friendly little horse.