Wednesday, June 26, 2013



Empty Table Top

"Victor, I wonder if we shouldn't do snack sacks anymore," I said. I had been thinking about pausing for the last several days, but I didn't expect it to just come out like that this morning. My shoulders sank. "For the summer," I quickly added to quell my rising heartbeat.

"Yeah, I think so," he said more quickly than I expected.

"Why?" I said wondering if this was the end of the project altogether.

"Because snack time is too early and I don't think you should spend all this time making a snack sack when I don't need it," he said very maturely.  I was impressed. I couldn't have said it better myself. He had heard me make similar comments the past few mornings about his summer program. By the time we get there right after he eats breakfast, they are already eating snacks.

"I agree. So, no snack sack today," I said with a sigh. It really didn't make much sense to send a snack sack anymore in the summertime.

Not knowing if yesterday's was the last, we reminisced on some of our favorites. I was quick to point out the ones he had done himself, like the Skippyjon Jones and the bouncy castle. His face brightened as he recounted how he had done those all by himself. He's such a cute boy!

I took this empty picture of the kitchen table to mark this pause. It made me very sad to do so. Despite the ups and downs during the last year's worth of mornings, I love this tradition we've created and he does too. It has been a wonderful experience sharing some creativity with Victor each and every morning.

More than the art, what I love most about our mornings are our interactions and his spirit. I learn new things everyday just by listening to him. Like this morning when he came to my bedside as I was debating whether or not to get up yet. I lifted up the covers inviting him in. He plopped down and leaned up toward me.

"Dad, did you like Monsters University?" he asked.

"Yeah, I did. Did you?"

"Yeah. But I got a little scared."

"Oh yeah? What part?"

"The part with the humans."

It didn't take me long to process that. In the movie, the monsters Mike and Sully, end up in the human world. The scene is dark and ominous as the humans look to move in on them. I thought it felt kind of scary too as we watched it. The humans were presented much scarier than the monsters and he noticed. "Hmm. Interesting," I said. His breathing became heavier and he was asleep within a minute snuggled up next to me for warmth and comfort. I hugged him tightly.

Even if we don't ever draw another snack sack, at least we'll still have moments like that. For that I am grateful.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Crane

A Crane


"What's for the snack sack today?" I asked as I always do.

He looked across the table and pulled over a menu from a local Mexican restaurant. I fully expected to be drawing a burrito today.

I interrupted his exploration of the menu. "Remember you can think of anything you want to. It doesn't have to be in front of you."

"A crane," he blurted out within a few moments. He had been playing with his toy crane outside yesterday, something he hadn't done in quite a long while. I ran a search and handed him my iPhone. "Is this one okay? Is it perfect?" he asked me.

"I'll do my best," I told him.

I started late and this one took longer than expected. I ran out of time, but had to get it done. As a result, we left late today and got to school late. Whoops! That's the first time that's happened.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Imaginext Space Station

Imaginext Space Station

Imaginext Space Station

"That fish," he said pointing, looking toward his display of ceramic plates. He's got about ten pieces of art that he's made from his after school clay class. We showcase them above our shelves in the kitchen. "The one with the purple mohawk," he clarified.

I looked at it. It wasn't very unique looking and wouldn't make a good reference. Plus the definition was surfaced via the color. "I don't think it will look much like it if I draw it. And remember, I can't do the colors."

"It's okay, just draw some designs on it," he said encouragingly.

I wasn't thrilled with the option. It's been tough lately for him to pick something. "You don't have to choose only things that you see in front of you. You can choose anything you can think of."

He looked pensively. "I can see things in my brain," he said, "like pictures that I can see." He contemplated this revelation. "Ah, I know what it's gonna be Dad. I don't think it's on your iPhone."

He went upstairs and came down with this Imaginext toy, a space station. "Can you do it Dad?" he asked.

I was thrilled that he picked something that wasn't in the kitchen, so I had no choice but to say, "I'll try." Maybe I should have stuck with the fish plate, I thought to myself. I got to work but had a trouble as I always do with three dimensional objects.

He finished his breakfast without looking over. Later he came up to me with his toothpaste in hand, needing my help to squeeze the last few bits out of it. He took a look. I wasn't near being finished, but he could see it taking shape. "You are just too good at drawing! You're too good! I don't know how you're so good at drawing!" When he's so complimentary, I feel both proud and a little bit embarrassed. I've never taken compliments well.

I wasn't thrilled with the finished version, but as we were walking out the door he saw it and said, "Whoa! Whoa!"

Thursday, June 20, 2013



Mickey Mouse

Victor woke up earlier than usual at 6:30. My wife was sick and slept in. I had hardly slept at all. It was a slow and grumpy start for me.

We had a hard time picking something for the sack today, perhaps because we were tired. He had no ideas and I wasn't much help.

Then he got distracted by our paper mâché volcano. It's on our countertop waiting to be painted. 

"Can I please paint it this morning, Daddy?" he asked.

We had plenty of time actually since we woke up early, but I'm too tired to deal with the mess. Plus, I had a morning meeting to call into. 

"Sorry. Not now," I told him, "I have a meeting to call into. Just focus on something for me to draw."

He was stumped for what to pick. He searched the table for inspiration. He picked up a pin we got at Cars Land with Lightning McQueen on it. "How about this?"

"You can choose anything you want. You don't have to just pick something that's right in front of you."

"I can't think of anything."

"Think of something else from Disneyland."

"I know, the World of Colors."

"I can't do that and you know that."

We exchanged words about why that was and I got frustrated. He just couldn't pick anything so I picked for him. 

I wanted something easy so I picked this classic Mickey face. It came out okay. I almost chose not to do a sack at all today, but am happy that I just pushed through the rough morning.

"Why didn't you do Epic Mickey?" he asked when he saw it.

Oh well, I thought, as we headed out the door.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mickey's House

Mickey's House

Mickey's House

"Hey, I just got an idea! How about Mickey's house?"

"Oh yeah?"

"Dad, can you copy this one?" He was referring to the toy Mickey house he got from Disneyland over the weekend. It's pretty small, about 8 inches high, but full of details. He didn't wait for my reply. "You're only drawing the front okay? Everything you see from the front you draw it," he said gracefully moving the back of his hand down over the front of the house. "Nothing from the back. You have to see what I see. So everything you see from the front you draw. Okay? Got it? Okay? Okay."

Kindergarten is over, we had our weekend of fun at Disneyland, and today is the first day of his summer camp program. I wasn't sure we'd continue with the snack sacks at all over the summer. I don't even know how they'll handle snack time or if there will even be a snack time. But it makes me happy that he wants us to continue our project. Actually, I was absolutely tickled by his boisterous enthusiasm this morning.

When I was about half way finished, he rushed over to my side of the kitchen table and chanted, "I want to see! I want to see!" He took a quick look and asked, "Did you make a mistake?" He answered his own question after studying the drawing for a few more seconds, "Nope!"

I think he was being nice. I was doing okay, but definitely struggling to make it look like the original. When I was done, I announced it. "I'm done!" I said.

"I want to see it!" he exclaimed. He ran over and let out an involuntary, "Whoa!" He immediately grabbed the Sharpie from the table and said, "This is colored in so I'm going to color it in." He was referring to the little Mickey head on the door. "I want to draw a little secret Mickey down on the bottom."

I wasn't happy with what he added, but he was trying to contribute and that's cool I suppose. I guided him to draw a more respectable Mickey head at the top and we filled it in together. "Less is more," I reminded him, but he kept adding more. Finally I said in a playfully stern voice, "Drop the pen." He didn't. "Put down the pen," I prodded once more and he finally did.

He sat back in his chair and looked at the drawing, carefully studying the details. "You are good," he said respectfully. "You are really good."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Congratulations Victor!

Congratulations Victor!

Student Graduate

I didn't ask him what he wanted today. It was his last day of Kindergarten and this proud Daddy wanted to draw something specific to celebrate the milestone. It's cliche to say that he's grown up so fast, but he has. We are proud of our little boy and excited for what is to come in the 1st grade.

This project to draw something new on his snack sack every day started out on a whim. I can hardly believe that a full school year has past. We remained consistent and drew something new every single day that I took him to school. I'm sure we'll look back on the sacks and this blog years from now to relive fond memories of his early school years.

I can't help but wonder if this is the end of this creative journey together or only just the beginning.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Explosion

An Explosion


He thought for a bit today. "An explosion," he said finally.

"An explosion?"

"Yeah! Like from a bomb or something."

"Um, I don't know if I like that."

"How come?"

"Because I don't like bombs. Bombs are kind of scary to me."

I did a search anyway and was surprised by what I saw. I didn't mind the pictures too much since they were mostly big puffs of smoke. I handed him the iPhone and he picked one after some time. 

I didn't like this one that he chose because there were no hard lines. None at all. "It won't look like it," I warned.

But he prodded me, "Just try," he said with extreme warmth. He gets very encouraging when I doubt myself. That's cute and I appreciate his support.

As I do all mornings, I jotted down our dialog quickly into the Notes app on my iPhone before I got started. I always take notes on our interactions in the moment and then write the full blog post later. He noticed me writing this note today and asked me about it. "Are you writing about what we were saying?"


"You can write that you're sorry if it doesn't look so good. And if it does, then you can say thank you," he told me.

He's funny. I took a deep breath as I got to work trying to recreate this plume of bomb blasted smoke. 

About half way through, he finished his breakfast and walked over to my side of the table. "Wow it's starting to look like it! It's really starting to look like it!" he said with great enthusiasm.

"I'm trying," I said with a sigh.

"You're doing perfect. No, better than perfect!" he exclaimed working to boost my confidence.

I worked steadily trying my best to match what I saw as best I could. After I was done he said with bright eyes, "Oh I love it! I love it Daddy!" He made me smile and I gave him a big hug.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Computer

A Computer

Laptop Computer

"What should we do today?"

"A computer!" he said without much hesitation.

"Like your computer, you mean?" We call it his computer, but it's really my computer. It's a Macbook Pro laptop.

"Yeah!" he confirmed.

"Okay." I ran a search and handed him my iPhone. "Pick one, but I won't do the background."

He expeditiously picked a classic Apple marketing shot of the Macbook Pro. "I'll tell you what to do when you are done," he said referring to the background.

"Just tell me now," I insisted.

He thought for a moment, then said, "A backpack."

"Huh? I don't get it," I said puzzled.

"A backpack that you'd buy," he explained. He continued, talking a bit slower than usual, "You can have a backpack and a price or something."

"Okay, I get it," I said figuring he meant an online shopping webpage.

I made quick work of drawing the laptop. It came out a little sloppy, but I didn't mind today. I did a rough sketch of a Mac desktop with a browser window taking up the screen. As requested I drew an online website with a backpack for sale. I incorporating his name into the search box trying to be clever.

"I like it!" he said when he saw the finished drawing giving it his stamp of approval.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Whoop Cream Bottle

A Whoop Cream Bottle

Reddi-wip Whipped Cream Bottle

"What's for the snack sack today?" I asked as I placed his breakfast plate in front of him. He eats waffles for breakfast almost everyday and puts a generous helping of syrup and whipped cream on them.

"Since I'm putting a lot of whoop cream, a whoop cream bottle," he declared. He pronounces it "whoop" instead of "whipped." It sounds so cute every time I hear it.

He pushed the Reddi-wip bottle (or is it a can?) across the kitchen table toward me. "You can copy this and I'll put a lot of decorations on it when you're done." Drawing a physical object is not my favorite reference, but I decided to just go for it without complaining.

I wasn't sure what he meant by "decorations," but I would soon find out. I did my best to copy the design from the can not doing a very good job. He finished his breakfast and moved over to my side of the table. He grabbed the Sharpie and got to work adding his decorations. Clearly my "less is more" counseling hasn't sunk in. He kept adding and adding.

I wasn't sure what all the decorations were, so I asked him, "What is that that you drew?"

"Remember the ball drop?"

"Yeah," I said as if I got it. I didn't. But I could see that he was emulating the Times Square mayhem. I was going to ask more questions, but decided not to. I figured it was better this time to just leave him to express himself creatively.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Water Park

The Water Park

Water Park

"What's for the snack sack today?"

"The water park," he said without much hesitation. Today, Victor's class is having an end of the school year picnic at the water park near our home.

I normally avoid drawing something that has a picture reference, but decided to make an exception today for the occasion. There were several pictures of the park online, but he had trouble picking one. The first picture he chose was a close up of one of the water features. "Here," he said absently.

"This one's too close up. It's not going to look like the water park. It won't look like much of anything actually," I said disapprovingly. I took my iPhone back and picked a different picture. I didn't bother to get his okay and got to work. He didn't seem to mind.

I rather enjoyed trying to get it to look like something resembling the water park. It wasn't easy and I'm not sure if I succeeded. I decided to add in a version of the park's entry sign (not in the reference picture) to have a proper place for his name.

"I like it," he said when he saw the finished drawing. Then he looked closer, "Wait, that kind of looks like ice skating, right Daddy?"

"It does, kind of. You're right." I guess I didn't succeed after all. :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I want an organ...

I want an organ...


He was grounded from electronics today after a meltdown last night. That means he can't play with anything that plugs in. Clever as always, he found an exception in our electronic piano. He asked and I allowed it because it's not quite a toy and does has some creative value.

As I prepared his breakfast, he played with toys on and around the piano. "I want an organ," he told me as he banged out some notes with the piano set to a classic organ voice.

"What?" I asked from the kitchen not having the faintest idea what he meant.

"An organ. That's what I want for the snack sack."


I did a search, but the results were not very appealing. It would seem that most organs are attached to a church; what's more, they weren't very recognizable as organs. He ended up picking this one which also doesn't look much like an organ to me. Oh well, it's close enough, I thought.

He ate breakfast at record speed without the distraction of a TV show. On his way to brush his teeth he came over to take a look at the drawing. "Jeesh, you're fast!" he said with wonder in his voice.

I didn't reply. I was about 3/4 done. He left to the bathroom and I stayed steady on the task. We didn't have much time today.

He came back right away with his toothbrush and toothpaste in hand. The toothpaste is almost empty but not quite. He needs my help to get more out. It's amazing how long it lasts with me squeezing more and more out each day for weeks. "Daddy, you're fast!" he repeated full of adulation.

"Thanks, buddy," I said, not knowing what to say.

Pretty much out of time, I wrapped it up and we headed out the door in a rush. Half way out the door he remembered that he hadn't seen the finished drawing. "I didn't see it! I didn't see it!" he said excitedly. I pulled it out of his backpack and he gave it his approval with genuine enthusiasm, "I like it!"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Sunset

A Sunset


"What'll it be today?" I asked.

"A sunset." 

Where does he get his ideas from? I wondered. They often seem random. "Oh, that's going to be hard because it needs colors and stuff," I said mostly dismissing the idea.

"Why don't you use colors?" he asked.

"Because I don't have that much time. It's hard enough as is to make the time to draw something every day," I answered honestly. I did a search and handed him my iPhone.

He picked a vivid sunset and said, "Here, just do your best."

I took one look at it and said, "No, I can't do that." It was a painting of a sunset with no real solid lines. "I need a drawing or something that at least has lines to draw," I told him.

"I have an idea. How about you take the snack sacks I brought home and color them over the summer."

"No, I don't like that idea," I said firmly.

"Why not?"

"Because I want to keep them just as they a memory of exactly what we did."

He didn't press further. "Well I don't see any drawings." One of the first options was a drawing with a sun and palm trees. I pointed it out. "Oh okay. That looks pretty good."

I made quick work of this one. After all the searching I didn't have much time.

"It's a good idea doing snack sacks right?"

"Yeah, it's fun!" I said. Most of the time, I thought.

"Well it's been fun for me too," he acknowledged.

"It has?"

"Yeah!" He sat pensively. "Well it's kind of sad that you have to do all this work in the morning."

"What do you mean by work?"

"Well you have to wash the dishes, make my lunch, make my breakfast, and do my snack sack."

I gave him a big hug. At least he notices. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013




"What's for the snack sack today?" I asked wondering if he'd continue taking on the artwork himself.


That answered my question. I knew he didn't intend to try drawing a stormtrooper, plus we didn't have a lot of extra time for me to encourage him to. Besides, I was in the mood to do something a bit challenging after having mostly sat out the last two times.

We picked this one pretty quickly and I got to work. The drawing went fast this time. It's not perfect but it's a pretty good rendition of a stormtrooper.

"You don't have to draw the gun," he said as I was working on his shoulder. He thought better of it, "Um, never mind. You can draw the gun." He thought about it some more and clarified, "We already did a gun." He must have been thinking of the NERF gun we did.

"Why don't you want me to draw a gun?" I asked wondering what his answer might be. "I don't have to draw the gun."

"Because at school you're not allowed to bring guns."

"Oh," I said carefully considering the options. In the end, we decided that in this context of such a well known Star Wars character, it'd be okay. But this was definitely a good thing to stop and think about.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Gingerbread Man

A Gingerbread Man

A Gingerbread Man

I got in very late last night after being delayed at the Phoenix airport for over 3 hours. I was tired and groggy this morning. "Pick something easy today," I said flatly.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because I'm really tired after coming home super late last night."

He thought for about a minute, then said, "A gingerbread man."

Perfect, I thought picturing a simple drawing to copy.

I was going to draw a classic gingerbread man without even asking him, but decided against it. He's the picker, not me. I showed him a classic, but of course he didn't like it. He continued searching for something else. After some time he said, "How about you draw the outside and I do the design? I do great designs."

Perfect, I thought again.

The outline wasn't easy to get right. I usually struggle with symmetrical drawings like this one and today was no different. I messed up on the legs and had to throw out my first try. My second try was even worse.

"Dad, do you know what I'm gonna do?"

"Uh, no."

He didn't tell me. He just got to work. I busied myself and didn't oversee his drawing like last time. This was more of a creative exercise.

"Dad is this good?" he asked after he finished with the arms and face.

"I like it!" I said with genuine enthusiasm. It's been very cool to see him take over lately.

"Dad, how do you spell ornaments?" he asked out of the blue.

"Uh," I looked at his drawing to see a lot going on. "Sometimes less is more Victor! If you put too much stuff people won't know what it is," I said trying to be helpful.

The next time I walked by to check up on his progress, I saw a bag in the gingerbread man's hand labeled "onamins for sall."

"You should have asked me to help you spell it," I said, then realized that he had. We tried our best to fix "sale" and decided to just leave the rest as it was. He's not often bothered by leaving his inventive spelling on the page over the correct spelling.

"Will I have time to watch a show?" he asked.

"No, look at the time."

"But that's because I'm doing this, right?"

"Yes. You've been great this morning and I'm very proud of you doing your own snack sack."

I left him for another few minutes. When I came back I saw that he hadn't taken my advice. Instead, he had added many more things to the drawing. As he continued to draw he told a story of how it was getting cold and windy and how the birds were flying south for the winter. His imagination knows no bounds. His letters found their way scattered throughout the drawing with the sneaky R being his usual sneaky self. He only stopped drawing when we ran out of time.