Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Corner View - Water

There's nothing more exciting than a Fireman's Pancake Breakfast for a couple of little kids who love pancakes and fire trucks. They even got to get a taste of the action spraying pylons off a ledge with 400 pounds of water pressure. That's a lot when you yourself only weight 32 pounds!

It's a tough job, but someone has to be that cute in a mini fire fighter jacket.

For more Corner Views, visit Dana while Jane is still incomunicado. Meanwhile I'll be over at the water cooler on my THIRD day contracting. Loving the free Special K with strawberries...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just when I thought I was out

I'm forcing myself to write tonight because otherwise I will eat the other half of the pita with Nutella (which I will likely do anyway) and plus, I have a gig at my old job every morning for the next three weeks which, when my former manager and friend first mentioned it, sounded awful and then like a nice, profitable diversion and now it sounds really chaotic. Not to mention that I will miss three weeks of my sewing class (which you never hear about anymore because I suck at it so much. I really peaked with those pillows.) I don't know how I used to do this? How did I used to work outside of my home all day and also buy food and then figure out what was for dinner and make it and clean the house and still have time to post a blog entry and watch an episode of Glee? And also fill my orders! And find time to paint! I'm sure I will be fine but I'm starting to have anxiety and that is why I'm about to finish the other half of the Nutella pita. Be back in a second.

I'm actually excited to see my old friends and have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for me everyday and maybe give my jeans some time off for good beahvior. But I just have a lot going on a ll of a sudden. There's still the issue of the Halloween costume. I ordered a shark from a great shop on ETSY that will require me to do some assemblage and light sewing. But now everyone in the family is really excited about the prospect of Broiler Man so I just don't know when it's all going to get done. And I had originally wanted to dress my daughter as Frida Kahlo since she already has the mono brow but I don't yet have a Mexican dress and since my son cut her hair the other day (did I mention that?) it will be somewhat challenging for me to get it pinned up without an ozone obliterating amount of Aqua Net. I'm thinking she still fits in the chicken costume.

And I'm out of ink! Mother of George, I ran out of ink. And not just printer ink friends. I even ran out of ink in my micron pen. Which means that I can't print or make anything. I sketched a little crazy rooftop village that I want to paint but I need me a new micron! Stat!

And the worst thing of all, is our new duvet. After eight winters with a duvet that has about three feathers left in each little square, I finally bought a giant, super warm, extra cozy duvet (that was, I swear to you, only about $40 from IKEA) and now it is proving to be NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE to get out of bed in the morning. *

*Dianna, sorry in advance if I'm late for work tomorrow morning...I had a flat tire.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Who's who?

If it's been an especially long stretch of time that my kids are not shouting at each other I know I can find them sitting in front of my monitor watching the picture slide show when the screen saver activates. They both sit in my office chair and watch pictures go by and loudly proclaim a who's who of our friends and family. My son even likes to take pictures of the pictures on the screen which is sort of metaphysical. And odd.

And sometimes I take pictures of him taking pictures of the pictures on the screen saver. Just kidding. I don't do that. The kids occasionally get confused when the picture is one of them as a baby. They just shout out BABY! But then it's suddenly another picture and they're transported somewhere else. Like Grover Springs in the Eastern Sierras, where we took them over Memorial Day weekend last May with a small group including my husband's boss, Jonathan.

Him: Is that Israel?

Me: No, that's Gover Springs, where we went camping with Jonathan, Brenda, Vivek and Victoria from Aba's work.

Him: And Eric too.

Me: Right.

Him: Is Eric Brenda's baby?

Me: No, Eric is Victoria and Vivek's baby.

Him: Is Vivek Eric's aba?

Me: Yes, and Vivek is Victoria's husband.

Him: Does Brenda have a baby?

Me: Brenda has a baby in her tummy!

Him: Is Brenda Jonathan's wife?

Me: Yes.

Him: Who's Jonathan's husband? Aba?

in a manner of speaking...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Corner View - My Dream

I don't remember when it began but for as long as I can remember I've been the go to person for artistic renderings. Need a sign? Susie can make you one.

Need a forty foot mural for a school house in a Bedouin village? Susie can whip one up. Or two. (or five).

Then when I was in business school I had this dream that I could maybe work as an artist (when I got a 65 on my first finance exam). I painted a bunch of funny little figures one weekend and brought them to a wacky little folk art gallery downtown and the owner said she'd display them. She sold every one and gave me 60% of the proceeds. So I built a website and told everyone I knew and we had a little "gala opening".

And I sold enough of those little guys to pay for my husband and me to bike from Budapest to Prague through Vienna for a month after I graduated (but only enough to sleep in a tent).

Then I reproduced a bunch and made them into cards and prints and invitations and what not. Sold some of those too.

But I started getting sick of those little guys. And had some little guys of my own. And by then I had a business school job and a mortgage and some school loans and I kind of lost sight of my dream. Until my friend asked me to paint her ketubah* and that's when I suddenly woke up.

Good morning! I started painting again. A lot. Different things. That's when I remembered my dream. I forgot about all of those reasons why my dream was impossible and started living my dream.

For more corner views visit Dana, who's hosting this week while Jane is globe trotting...

*traditional Jewish marriage contract

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More than meets the eye

The other day my son got a package in the mail - a belated birthday gift from a buddy of his. I had forgotten that a week before the child's mom had asked me what my son wanted for his birthday and after I begged her to please not buy him anything because I had just bought him a bunch of new toys and still he prefers to play with my camera, cell phone and hairdryer, she insisted to know what he wanted. So against my better judgment I told her that he seemed interested in his cousin's Transformers. Those vehicular robotic toys that are supposedly saving the world from the Force of Evil. Well don't be fooled. It's the Transformers themselves that are the Force of Evil. Here's what went down.

My mom actually bought him a Transformer for his birthday. We had both seen him play with his cousin's and thought he'd like one of his own. I picked it up for her in hell at the toy store. I got him a car and it said on the package that it was level 2 (easy) for age 4+. And it's not that I underestimate his fine motor skills or his mechanical intelligence - he's the one that figured out I have speaker phone on my cell, after all. But I had a suspicion, after having watched him try to play games marked for his age, that he would fiddle with it for a few moments and then get annoyed that it's a piece of junk and doesn't snap nicely back together. And I would have to show him how to do it. And that would suck for me because I have no interest in vehicular robots even if they are trying to save the universe. Once again, I was right. After he ripped it apart and saw all of the robotic innards underneath, he wanted it to be a car again. Here mommy. So I put it back together and thank God I picked the level 2 because it was plenty challenging. I failed to mention this important distinction when suggesting a Transformer to this friend. So she sends him a Transformer that is level THREE, age 5+. Two of them actually. The horror. The horror.

The first one is a motorcycle. He hasn't been holding it for more than ten seconds before it is transformed into a sinewy many-tentacled thing with one wheel here and the other stuck onto some other limb and I am thinking, George Jesus, how am I ever going to get this monster back together again. After a few minutes of jangling it around he hands it over. Here mommy. Now it's my turn to "play" with it. Cleansing breath.

For the next HOUR I am sitting on the couch trying to snap this mother effing piece of Made in China injection molded garbage back into a motorcycle. I actually start to feel sweat collect around my brow. Meanwhile, my two kids have now taken to playing with the handful of packing peanuts that came with the package. In the middle of what feels to me like a nationally televised Rubik's cube-a-thon (I suffer from performance anxiety) I look up and my kids have turned the packing peanuts into a winter wonderland. I am not exaggerating. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of this event but rest assured the entire living room floor, spilling into the hallway, kitchen and dining room, was covered in Styrofoam bits. And my motorcycle is still undone. And there's a blizzard in my home.

I rise to the occasion. Of course! I say, children of your father, you go and have yourselves a snow ball circus for the next twenty minutes while I bash this robo-cycle thing into my head repeatedly and then we'll reconnoiter and clean up this giant mess.

And that's exactly what we did. I managed to turn the Transformer into something that resembles a motorcycle while my kids laughed hysterically pulling pieces of Styrofoam out of my daughter's hair and netherlands. It was a scene. And after, we swept like mad and my kids ran in every direction screaming "she's going to get us" while I vacuumed. My floor has never been this clean.

Anyway, heed this important advice. Transformers are NOT for five-year-olds. My husband is a 37-year-old mechanical engineer and he can't even put one back together. Do yourself a favor and get your kids some packing peanuts. The environmental kind that turn into compost or whatever. This blog may self-destruct.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Broiler Man

Every week we get closer to the ideal weekday afternoon. My issue lately is less about occupying my son and more about getting my daughter down to nap early enough so she wakes up early enough that she can then fall back asleep at 8:00. This is no small feat. This is also not what I'm writing about today.

My son is slowly coming to terms with my request that he engage in thirty minutes of unstructured free play while I get some work done. He is not that good at this when it's being asked of him. He is great at this when he should be getting ready for school. So we're working on a schedule that feels right to him. A few minutes for a snack together. Half an hour for a game or puzzle. Half an hour of free time. Hour project (cooking dinner or baking a dessert, gardening, art project, watching a movie...). By then my daughter is awake and they can entertain each other for the remainder of the day.

Yesterday we tried out free time and after playing with a toy for about thirty seconds he asked if he could use the phone. I have come to terms with his interest in phones so I allow him to call a few people. First he calls his dad and they have a lovely chat. Then he calls his grandma and tells her about school and this and that. Then he calls our friend Heidi. And finally my Aunt Marcia.

Among other things, my son is obsessed with Aunt Marcia. Now I would understand if he had spent any significant amount of time with her because she's terrific. But he has spent maybe seven hours total of his whole life with this woman (she lives in New York). At some point early on she let him use her red Motorola phone and that was it. He now only has eyes for Aunt Marcia and her phone (which is now a pink Samsung - even better).

So he calls her and I overhear this part of the conversation.

Guess what I'm going to be for Halloween.
A broiler!
A broiler!
I said, a broiler! Like the bottom of the oven!
Where you put the food that you want to burn because there's fire there? And you pull out the bottom part and put something in like a vegetable and then it gets burned and Aba peels off the skin? A broiler.
Well, I don't know where I can buy a broiler costume, but my mommy can make it. She can sew.
If she can't make it then I'm going to be a shark.

At some point last week he became interested in the broiler and has asked several times to watch when we turn it on so that he can see the flame light up. It has completely captured his imagination. And while I would love for him to just wave his crazy flag and stroll around the neighborhood as a broiler for Halloween, I really can't figure out how to make that come together. I mean, I'm taking a sewing class, not a welding class. It does sort of sound like a Batman rival. The Broiler! Mwah ha ha ha....I'm so trademarking that.

Corner View - LOVE

Time for another corner view and this week it's all about the L word which in our case stands for LAWNMOWER. That's right. And what comes after capital L but capital M which stands for Monday. And why do we LOVE Mondays so much in our household, despite the fact that we have to wake up for school and work and dress two squirrely kids and make lunches and hustle out of the house when we'd rather be lounging around in our pajamas for an extra day of weekend? Because of the guy who mows the lawn at the school across the street. Our corner view is literally of an elementary school yard and my kids LOVE nothing more than to wait and watch for Mr. Lawnmower to pull up in his humongous lawn mowing monstrosity and cruise back and forth making nice patterns in the grass. He always comes on Mondays and my kids always greet him with a wave and a shout (but only if they're fully dressed and done with breakfast. That's the part I love). He never hears them because he's wearing industrial grade ear muffs to dull the deafening noise but he always smiles and waves and my kids adore him.

To see some more LOVE go here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

From the Mishmish archive

This one is an oldie but a goodie. It's a piece I painted in 1998. I was living in Tel Aviv at the time. I think I was also unemployed. And my boyfriend lived in another city. And my bike had just been stolen. I shared an apartment with two Israeli women who were frantically studying for the Israeli Bar exam so always had classmates over and were always shouting. It was hot as hell and sticky like a wet cat. We had an air conditioning unit that was in the living room but we never used it because we were cheap. And the cool air didn't really reach into the bedrooms anyway. Plus my room was more like a converted balcony so it had horrible insulation and we referred to it as the swamp. I used to put my whole sheet in the shower before bed and then bring it dripping into the bedroom to put over me so that I could cool down. It would be dry by morning. And petrified in the shape of two boobs and two feet. Good times. I didn't have a computer back then so I passed the time watching CNN, walking to the beach, painting and wishing I had friends. With all of that in mind it's kind of curious that this piece is so cheery. Maybe it will bring you some cheer too. Look for it soon on ETSY.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mish Mash

I'm having a kind of identity crisis. When I started this blog more than two years ago with two daily visitors, I was not really in artist mode. I was on maternity leave actually and feeling like a bad mom for never having kept a baby book to record all of those precious details like the color of baby's poop on day 137. More specifically I was in my head a lot since my only interaction was with a sleeping baby for seven hours a day (don't feel bad - I got to watch seasons 1-3 of LOST on DVD. Just what I needed) but I needed somewhere to write down all of that head junk. I figured it would be a journal mostly and I figured other moms would feel happiness and solidarity to know that their kids weren't the only ones who took comfort from sleeping with their parents' shoes. Although I'm pretty sure I'm still the only one whose kid ever did that. The point is the blog was never about my journey as an artist.

But then came my friend's ketubah and my revelation that I love to paint and create and my realization that I didn't want to work full time while my kids were still little and the time I did spend working I wanted to enjoy. And I started to paint again. Every week. And build my website and shop and start my newsletter and outreach. And so here we are. I have this blog about being a stay/work at/from home/studio mom/artist called Inner Toddler and this creative venture called Mishmish Studio and an online store called Mishmish Market (that's the ETSY shop - Mishmish Studio was taken). Does it all fit? Are you confused? (sorry). Do I seem confused? (I am a little).

Some artists just go by their names which I considered but my name doesn't really just roll off the tongue you know? Am I thinking about this too much? Does it even matter? Frankly I can't imagine only writing about my process as an artist. I mean you would fall asleep at your monitor. I would too. I'm falling asleep right now just thinking about it. Maybe I should have TWO blogs. But that would be a lot of extra work. Blogs don't need siblings.

And then sometimes I type so fast that I end up typing Inert Toddler and that makes me laugh thinking about a blog about toddlers that are inactive but then I think that's probably not funny at all and there's probably something wrong with those poor inert, toddlers. Wait, I'm losing my train of thought...

Yes, my brand. It's a mishmash at this point. I should have gone with Mishmash Studio instead of Mishmish Studio in the first place and saved us all the confusion.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Today's Illustration Friday is "flying". And that's what I am after learning yesterday that four of my pieces sold at a Judaica shop in the East Bay. This was one of them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Suppers in the sukkah

I am telling you there is nothing that erases a five year old's one hour tantrum about something so RIDICULOUS I can't even bring myself to write about it on a blog that I created explicitly to purge these kind of incidents, than dinner in the sukkah. How rad is a Jewish holiday where you're commanded to build a fort in your yard and eat all of your meals out there for a whole week? You're even supposed to sleep out there and don't think we didn't consider making the kids do it. Alone. You know, to fulfill our religious obligations. It happens to coincide this year with my son's birthday so of course we are enjoying many birthday celebrations out there in the sukkah. We even put balloons up. And the kids made paper links and other decorations. My brother thinks we should throw on some drywall and call our place a 3/1. The only rules about the sukkah in fact are that is has to be temporary. And it has to have only three walls. And you have to be able to see the stars when you look up at the sky. Amazing, right? And you thought Hanukkah was the best gig in town. Hanukkah's got nothing on Sukkot.

And this year is no exception. We've had people over basically every night this week. Our son made is clear that he didn't want a birthday party so we decided to just schedule various friends and relatives to kick it with us in the sukkah all week. And on his actual birthday I emailed the mom of a close preschool friend that he no longer sees much (switched schools) to invite them over and they are so great they just came with no notice. I love when people just come and don't worry about what should I bring and what kind of gift blah blah. Just bring your people over to the sukkah and sit back for spaghetti and star gazing. Next night my brother and niece came. Tonight, two more families. Tomorrow, more friends. I'm a little exhausted to be honest but then I just sit back in the sukkah, look up at the stars through the palm leaf rooftop and I'm at peace. Everything melts away. Even the one-hour Super Nanny stumper. Gone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Corner View - Souvenir

So I've been following Spain Daily for the last few weeks on the recommendation of Aimee from Artsyville and it's been a lot of fun to see what all is going on for Jane in Spain (falls mainly on the plain). She's an American living in Spain for the last seventeen years and the rest of us are living vicariously through her. Anyway, she started "corner view" or at least I think she did and every Wednesday she posts photos of her "corner view" based on the topic from the week before and then posts the topic for the week ahead. I decided to join, of course on the toughest week. The topic for today was "souvenir". As in, what's a typical souvenir from where you live. And I laughed to myself that the only thing people come to Mountain View to do is pick up their paycheck. Or a burrito from world famous La Costena's (right next to La Costco).

But today after preschool, I stopped to take some pictures on our way home. When people come here for important meetings with, say investors, or professors at Stanford or lord knows who (former Secretaries of State, for instance), sometimes they stop here...

...and pick up a microchip keychain or something. And then they head over here for their VIP tour including a tet-a-tet with Larry and Serge.

But, of course, everyone who works there isn't really working. They ride their Google bikes across Google street over to the Google field to play Google ball. It's enough to make you spew-gle.

Not especially inspiring. Not for me anyway. But it does mean that there's free wireless all over the city. What do you think about that Jane? Pretty rad, huh.

And now to see some really neat corner views, go to the side bar on Spain Daily and collect some souvenirs...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


It was five years ago, last night, that I was rocked out of bed by what I thought was the mother of all contractions and which turned out to be, I would later learn, only a fairly mild one. My labor began with a few cramps at 5:00 pm that day and I went about padding around the house, sorting through things, packing my suitcase for the hospital, sending a few emails. I don't think I can meet you guys for lunch tomorrow because I might be in labor. That kind of stuff. I wish I had a picture of what I had put in the suitcase just for the visual hilarity of it all. Did I think I would have the time and energy for a round of gin? Light reading? Journal writing? I mean I should have just packed my laptop and done my taxes, right?

From that first sucker punch to the gut at midnight I spent the next sixteen hours in various places in my house, generally on all fours, with my husband basically sitting on my back with all of his weight (it sounds like porn, but trust me, it was not sexy). Our doula, a close friend and doula-in-training, called around 2:00 and my husband told her, I think we're fine. You don't need to come yet. Could be a lot longer. She lived an hour away. This was a miscalculation. By 4:00 I had contractions one minute apart lasting about a minute and I remember yelling HOSPITAL NOW and then I spent the worst seven minutes of my life in the car. And then had four more contractions just trying to get into my labor and delivery room. I was 9 centimeters.

Our doula came to the hospital and rallied me through pushing with her commentary. Jesus that's a lot of hair! And it was a lot of hair, and a lot of baby that followed. And that's how I came to be a mommy five years ago today. Five years ago today I pushed this tiny, helpless kid out into the world with all of my might. Today he blew me a kiss and rode off into the world on his new bike with a new bike bell from Grandma and all the confidence that comes with being five.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Animal prints here and abroad

I'm running a sale on my 5x7 animal prints. BUY ONE GET ONE baby! I made this little poster of nine of them together to list the sale on ETSY and I have to say I'm loving the poster! Maybe I should sell the poster! And that got me thinking about Zambia. This is how my brain works. Let me back up.

Does anyone remember a line of ESPRIT clothing circa 1986 of little cropped animal graphics in small boxes? It was either white or black fabric and on the white fabric it was black squares with these animal silhouettes in bright ESPRIT colors and vice versa on the black. My friend/arch nemesis Cindy had the blouse, the skirt, the sweater, maybe even the coveted pants. Bitch. I mean, lucky girl. I actually went searching on Google for a picture of what I'm talking about to show you but alas, I can't find a single one. And do you know why? Because all of those clothes from the eighties, the ones that aren't vintage enough for resale, are now being worn in Africa. I saw a PBS show recently about the used-clothing trade in Zambia detailing how this multi-billion dollar industry is also the United State's single largest export to Africa. And how it has all but crippled the textile industry in that county. Zambians no longer make their own clothes. They just wear hand-me-downs. Enterprising folks purchase giant bales of clothes, all shrink-wrapped so they actually don't even know what they're getting. On a good day you get regular clothes to sell. Perhaps a Foothill High School Class of 1991 Grad Night t-shirt. Or an ESPRIT blouse with animals on it. On a bad day you end up with, say, a ton of old aprons or something. The show I watched made it seem like it wasn't a great thing since the raw materials for this trade were in fact donated by people who thought they were helping out the poor in this country and then by the time they reach Africa, where there is obviously still need, they've been through three non-African middlemen who have sucked out most of the profits. If the Zambians themselves could find a way to control more of the supply chain maybe it would be better for their country's economy.

Where was I? Africa? Anyway, back in America we're having a BOGO sale on animals prints. Not the kind from ESPRIT. You have to go to Zambia for those.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Why are kids so attracted to germs? Or is it the other way around? I'm not sure but I'll tell you this much - the gnarlier the better when it comes to my daughter. If she sees a puddle of stagnant water, it beckons her. Come. Touch me. Lick your fingers. Food that's stuck to the floor in the dining room? A gift. Whatever lurks behind the toilet near the plunger? A cornucopia of treasures.

So this week's Illustration Friday challenge (GERMS!), I offer a little toilet humor. To see some real germ illustrations go here.