Thursday, June 23, 2011


Dr. Fonten, Draconologist

What a fun day!

I've been collaborating with my niece and nephews on the beginning episodes of "Story Clubhouse", a new podcast for children that will begin airing next month.

Each episode of "Story Clubhouse" will focus on a specific topic. Today, we worked on the Dragon Episode. It was so fun to see and hear what others came up with and for us all to build on each others' ideas.

Story Clubhouse involves not only fun made up material: jokes, stories, songs, but also facts requiring a bit of research on the topic of each episode.

Sweet Innocent Teen Attacked by Dragon

Like, did you know a person who studies dragons is called a draconolist?

One of the most exciting things we did today was create the video, "Dragon Exploration."

We filmed our search for a dragon through the jungles of Kansas with famed draconologist, Dr. Fonten.

Oh, we found a dragon alright, but it was much more dangerous than anticipated.  The day was scary and exciting, and best of all, we survived!  : )

Look for the video to appear soon on the Story Clubhouse website.

What to Eat...

"What to Eat: The Environmental Impacts of Our Food"

This morning while researching rabbits for an upcoming "Story Clubhouse" episode, I ran across the Plate to Planet website and this video, "What to Eat."

Great website and video, full of pictures and information that made me think. Who knew that pig farms could be so big that they create a literal lake of waste? Ewww!

Not good for the planet, not good for the neighbors, and surely not good for the pigs.

My mom also recommends the documentary, Food Inc. She says it will totally change the way you eat and where you shop.

I'm not going to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't eat...hey, I love desert with every meal...I'm just recommending that we all think a little more about what we put into our bodies. Your body is the most important thing you have to take care of...if it's not running properly, well, you aren't.

So maybe treat yourself to the best quality have the best quality life. : )

Check out Super Kids

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First Day of Summer!

This first day of summer was a beautiful peaceful day in Kansas.

Last night, the air were filled with lightening and thunder. Today, it's beautiful clear blue skies with lovely warm weather.

It's good for me to remember that beautiful days usually follow stormy ones. Because somehow in the midst of a big storm, my heart beats fast and hard. I'll admit I feel a bit scared, even though I always act brave. I remind myself that I'm safe, and that it's probably human nature for my adrenaline to start pumping with the sound of thunder and the sight of lightening.

The storms of life have a similar effect. They seem like they will never end. That they are dangerous. I'll be honest, some are. But storms of all kinds come with being alive.

Some people seem to have more than their fair share of storms. I don't know why this is. In my past there were some majorly stormy years...and all I have to say about that is... I survived. They made me much tougher and more sure of what I wanted for my life. When it got really bad, and I couldn't take any more bad storms, I finally changed some major things about myself and my life. Now, my life is pretty great.

If you live in a place where stormy days outnumber glorious beautiful days, and you would prefer the later...maybe it's time to move.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Working on My New Podcast

As some of you know, I'm working on a new podcast for children that is scheduled to start airing in July. 

Title to be announced. : )
Side note: coming up with the right title for anything is HARD.

It's been quite exciting putting all the pieces for this podcast together.
I love thinking of the overall project and what I want it to be, planning episodes for the next year, then bringing together all the little elements to make each episode.  At the same time, I'm making notes on all the extras I want around each episode, such as: fact files, games, videos, art and craft projects, etc. 

This is the perfect project for me as it uses all the things I enjoy doing: research, writing, acting, drawing, organizing, and collaborating with others, and probably many more things that I can't think of right now. 

What can you look forward to in this new podcast?
Learning, laughing, singing, hearing a new story, and listening to my nephew Lucas tell about a recent Safari experience. Roar!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vacationing in Kansas

Beautiful Portion of My Mother's HUGE Water Garden (pond)
I'm in Kansas for two weeks, enjoying time with my mother, sisters, brother, niece, and nephews.

There are butterflies galore right now. They must have just come from their cocoons. I'll try to get a picture. It feels quite magical walking through a cloud of butterflies.

The ones at my sister's house started off grayish and now are changing to bright orange. I'll have to investigate if they are truly Monarchs butterflies.

Photos of Kansas

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tomi Ungerer and Jules Feiffer Speak

Tomi Ungerer and Jules Feiffer
What a treat to see and hear Tomi Ungerer and Jules Feiffer at the Society of Illustrators last night.

I've admired Jules Feiffer's work since college and Tomi Ungerer's since grade school.

Both men embody putting your whole heart into your work. Daring to do what you want to do because you have no other choice. That doing anything else would be a life half lived.

These men, both in their early 80's now, spoke of the gift of age. Ungerer spoke of it as a ticking clock, that you start to realize your time is limited and you really need to get to work.

They also spoke to the fact that if you are doing what you love, you will never retire. Why would you want to?

These men, especially Ungerer, spoke openly about their life experiences and what those experiences brought forth in their work.

This morning, I've been reading more information about them on the Internet, and being even more inspired by their prolific careers and fearless creations.

Seeing wonderful events like this are one of the true gifts of living in New York City.

For more, read:
Tomi Ungerer's Interview with Antonia Saxon, Publishers Weekly

The Branch Grew Roots!

This week, the branch moved to its next stage. The leaves and flowers had all dried up and it was time to cut them off and go forward on wrapping the branch with fabric to become the installation that I had originally intended.

I took the branch out of its water can and pushed it through the window onto the fire escape. In this process, I received a slight shock. Roots were growing from the bottom of the branch. This might sound like an overreaction, but I've been emotionally attached to this branch from the some strange mental battle of guilt over it being alive and on its way out.

I wasn't the one who cut it down in the park. I was the one who picked it up and brought it home. Still this whole process has highlighted for me two things...the strength of living things to stay alive...and how we anthropomorphize everything.

Over the past weeks, I've tried to keep this small tree alive by making root cuttings and planting seeds, neither it was quite exciting to see that the little sawed off tree had grown roots itself in an effort to keep going.

So now, I've cut the branch back a bit to allow more nutrients to focus on the growth of roots.

I went ahead and wrapped some cotton, breathable fabric on the branch, leaving places open for future little branches to poke through.

At this point, it's wait and see what happens...but isn't that the way it is with everything.

Hope for the best and wait and see. : )

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An Incredible Week that included Daniel Radcliffe!

My niece, Sarah, waiting to see the show. 
What an incredible week! I saw Daniel Radcliffe in "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" and I found Dark Chocolate Hob Nobs.

Daniel Radcliffe was amazing. He has such energy and spirit...and he's adorable! As was John Larroquette. The show itself was uneven, but Radcliffe, Larroquette, Mary Faber, Ellen Harvey, and especially, Christopher J. Hanke, who played the nephew...were hilarious and right on.

There were some standouts in the chorus also.

And I must give a nod to a favorite actor who had a more serious role, Michael Park...who was dreamy and commanding.

It was a fun show. Like watching a favorite nephew who has grown up and is doing well...because for many of us...we've watched and loved Daniel Radcliffe since he was 11 and now he's a man. And those of us who have been adults watching him over and over again all those years, because admit it, we watch the Harry Potter movies many more times than once...well...many of us feel pride in the man he has become...though we've done nothing to make him so wonderful, it just feels like we've known and cared for him for a long time.

I'm excited for July with the bittersweet event of seeing the last Harry Potter, I'm anxiously awaiting Mr. Radcliffe's new movie, "Woman in Black."

Oh yeah, the Hob Nobs...well, if you've read my blog before you know that Dark Chocolate Hob Nobs are my favorite cookie. They have been unattainable for a year or so here in the States. They are made in England.

I did some research on the Internet. I could have them shipped from England, but as luck would have it, there was a British store, Myers of Keswick, down in the West Village that had them in stock. So yesterday, I made my way down to the shop and bought three packages. MMMMMmmm! Are they delicious!

Wishing you all a wonderful week full of your favorite things...whatever they may be!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Delightful Visit to P.S. 87

Enjoying the Book of a young author / illustator

Friday, I visited Ms. Theresa's class at P.S. 87 as part of their "Everyone Reads Week."

First, I read and discussed my book, "Not Afraid of Dogs," with the students. Then I was able to show them my new book project, "Turtles Can't Race." 

It was wonderful to hear the students' comments, ideas, and questions, and to also receive feedback from their very insightful teacher. 

One of my favorite parts of the visit was seeing some of the students' work: their poems, illustrations, and the incredible park that they had planned and built in model form. The park model is so cool and now sits in the center of their classroom.  

What an amazing group of young people! If I were to go back to grade school...I would want to be in Ms. Theresa's awesome class. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

American Museum of Natural History - Membership Renewed

Really? There's a dinosaur behind us.
As NYC tour guide for Sarah, my niece, I knew the American Museum of Natural History was a must.

For years, Mr. Green (Bill) and I were members. We spent many a Friday night touring the quiet hallways. Then the tragedy of 9/11 caused the Museum to shut off the majority of the museum on Friday nights and only keep open the planetarium.

After that, our membership became irregular.

Yesterday, I renewed the membership. It felt great. I love knowing I can pop into the museum anytime I want...and not have the feeling that I need to stay and get my 'money's worth," like you do when you buy a one-day pass. Plus, as a member, I get to take the very short and fast admission line. 

Yesterday, we ambled in and out of many exhibits, so Sarah could get a feel for the museum, we weren't planning to stay 'that' long...but found upon leaving that we'd been there for the afternoon. It's easy to get lost in all the interesting exhibits.

I love this museum!