That manny can draw!

Two afternoons a week, while Alastair teaches guitar lessons, we have someone come watch the girls. We were privileged to have two awesome sitters doing this over the past year : first, the multi-talented (and multi-tattooed) Sophia, who taught the girls how to hula hoop — as much as you can teach four-year-olds how to hula hoop, that is — and made them a kick-ass playhouse out of cardboard boxes, among other things. (She’s expecting a baby in January, and she’s going to be an awesome mom.)

When Sophia got promoted at her other job, her friend Pete, who’d come and babysat with her numerous times, took her place. Pete was awesome — the girls loved him, and he was very sweet with them. But now he’s moving out of town. So we hired someone new — thank you, Craigslist — and she seems great. But we’ll miss Pete.

Not only was Pete a good sitter, he was — well, is; the man’s not dead — and amazing drawer. (And by that I mean one who draws. Not a place you put your socks. Shouldn’t there be a better word than “drawer” for someone who draws?? Damnit, English!!)

The girls like to take advantage of Pete’s artistic abilities by asking him to draw things for them. (And I think they were much nicer to him during this process than they ever are to us when we try to draw / make / etc. things for them.) Several times, they had him illustrate little books for them: they would say the words, he would write the words down, and then draw the pictures. (They’d help, too.)

The awesomeness of Pete’s drawings are matched by the total absurdity of Elsa and Clio’s storycraft, making for a singularly entertaining reading experience. You’re going to enjoy this. I swear. (And please note: I know that slide shows can be annoying. I pledge not to do them more than once a month, and only if it really makes sense. Which this one does. I promise.)

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    [Elsa's name, bigger than the title. She thinks she's Danielle Steele.]
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    "Once upon a time, there was a baby hippopotamus."
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    "The baby hippopotamus had just turned two. She gobbled up her birthday cake and got frosting all over her snout."
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    "Later that day, while it was still her birthday, she got prizes. Oh, and by the way, the baby hippopotamus's name was Candy." [An unconventional way of revealing a character's name, but somehow it works, right?]
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    "Candy played with the band because she ate so much cake that she wanted to play with the band [Must have been rum cake] and she had to go with her mommy and daddy."
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    "And it was the hippopotamus's birthday again and she just turned three. And there were cupcakes that she loved to eat but they were glass cupcakes and not to eat." [Alastair's handwriting, now, and Elsa's illustration. Let's face it: the kid's no Pete. Although I know she's capable of better than that...thing.]
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    "And there was a girl who used to be friendly dragon's friend. And she always liked to put her feet on the ground and take a walk." [Things are really veering off track now. But 'put her feet on the ground and take a walk' has a certain poetry to it...]
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    "And there was a big favorite thing that she liked to play on." [And it was, interestingly, one of Matisse's lesser-known drawings.]
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    "And there was a dog and later they had a new baby cat. But you could only see the outside of the house. CAT" [Things are really falling apart now. But never's about to get back on track...]
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    "There was another baby hippopotamus that they have. So they had two babies. The second baby was a boy named 'bumbum stinkyfeet'" [OK, no really, I swear it's going to get better soon. At least we're back to the hippos now, right? Potty talk notwithstanding?]
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    "Candy loved her new baby brother." [What did I tell you?]
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    "There was a helicopter that took off from a launchpad as it was going to somebody's house. There was some grass and some palm trees near the launchpad and lots of birdies flying around." [Interesting plot twist, right? Didn't see that coming, did you? Just wait. It gets better.]
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    "The helicopter flew over Puff the Magic Dragon's cave. Puff was sitting outside of his cave feeling very sad when he saw the helicopter."
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    "The helicopter landed near Puff the Magic Dragon's Cave. When the pilot stepped out, Puff realized it was Jackie Paper!"
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    "There was the family of hippopotamae [sic] all in the picture but it was not the end." [It's all gonna come together, trust me...]
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    "The family of hippos became friends with Puff the Magic Dragon and Jack E. Paper [?] (who was all grown up) because they did nice things for each other." [See!!]
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    [Last minute abstract plot twist!!]
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    [Pete! Where are you? Come back, Pete!]
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    "And they all lived together as a family. The end." [Ahhh.]
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So, we’re off to New Hampshire for a week — right in the path of Irene! Woo hoo! — so the blog will go dark for a while, but I’ll be back. With a vengeance! Or some more posts, anyway. Happy end of summer, everybody. Be excellent to each other.


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