One illustration away from completing my deadline.


Hank: MAMA!  WE FORGOT ABOUT MY SEA MONKEYS!  Pai is gone (out of town for a conference) and WE FORGOT ABOUT MY SEA MONKEYS!

Me: (whispers) Shit.

Hank: MAMA!


Hank: That is better.  We have to move on to the next step in the experiment OR MY SEA MONKEYS WILL DIE AND WE CANNOT LET MY SEA MONKEYS DIE.  I can see them in my lupa (magnifying glass).  They are swimming.

Me: Bring me your experiment literature.

Hank: Ok. (returns with box)

Me: (facepalm. instructions in Portuguese) Ok.  We are going to work through this crisis together: you, me and my dictionary.  WE WILL SAVE THOSE SEA MONKEYS.

Hank: Thank you, my mama.  These Sea Monkeys need me.  I am like their dad.  I woke them up.  I have to take care of them.

Me: We will do our best for them.  Now.  Lets get started.  What have you already done so far?  Fill me in as I am joining team Sea Monkey mid-experiment.

Hank: Well…

*no sea monkeys were hurt in writing this post.

Helping is his job


(Hank walks into my office finding me facedown on my desk)

Hank: Mama?

Me: Yes, my dove? (not lifting my head)

Hank: Are you ok?

Me: Yup.  Totally fine, just a little overwhelmed and overworked.

Hank: Can I help you?

Me: (lifting my head, taking a deep breath) Absolutely.

Hank: Ok.

Me: I need a boost of energy and love.  I need to get up from this desk and laugh for about 20 minutes.  Can you help me with that?

Hank: Of course, (giggling) but first you need to wash your face.  You have paint on your head.

Me: (giggling) I do?

Hank: Yes.  Come with me, my mama.  I will help you.

Me: (being lead by the hand) You’re an excellent helper, Hank.

Hank: That is my job.  I know just what to do.

(and he did)


Hank: Mama, can I have a snack?

Me: (looking at the clock) Is that the time?  Wow.

Hank: You work really hard, mama.  I bet you are hungry, too.

Me: Starving.  What would you like?

Hank: Toast with butter and peanut butter, please.

Me: (smiling) Peanut butter and onion?

Hank: What? No!  Peanut butter and butter.  Like your grandma used to make.

Me: That is right, she did.  If you’d ask her for a peanut butter sandwich and she always buttered the bread first.  (putting bread into the toaster) She said it was because she always bought the day-old bread from the bakery, but I think it was because she knew peanut butter and butter are so much better together.  Especially on toast.

Hank: Mama?  Where is the popcorn?

Me: In the cupboard next to the stove.  Why?  Do you want some?

Hank: Not right now, but we should keep the popcorn in the fridge.

Me: Where did you hear that?

Hank: In the popcorn book* you got me on the Ipad.

Me: Oh, you read it already?

Hank: You were working and there was a reading out loud button.  That was a really good book.  I learned all about popcorn.

Me: Tell me everything.

Hank: Well, how about we read it together?

Me: No one ever called you dumb.

Hank: Not one day.


*The Popcorn Book, by Tomie de Paola

The Red Balloon


Hank: Mama? Remember these paper dolls?

Me: Sure. Made by Joel stuff is my favorite.

Hank: I started this one. Is it Paris?

Me: Yes.

Hank: Isn’t that where the The Red Balloon is from?

Me: Yes, they shot the movie The Red Balloon in Paris.

Hank: Look at this boy. He looks like Pascal. Can you make me a red balloon? Then we can
make this whole city and pretend the whole movie.

Me: That sounds like the most fun ever.

Hank: It will be a lot of work, a lot of coloring and a lot of cutting.

Me: The best play takes work. I am up for a challenge. How ’bout you?

Hank: Always.

Our reenactment of The Red Balloon with sets designed by Made by Joel – Modern Art, Kids Crafts, and Toys : Red Balloon by Me. Coloring by Hank.



Hank:  Mommy, look I made you this silly word.

Me: Monstra (show me).

Hank: (handing me a printed label reading:  eoxxsssssssssssjje)

Me: eoxxsssssssssssjje? That is indeed the silliest word I have ever heard.

Hank: eoxxsssssssssssjje. (giggling)

Me: What does it mean?

Hank: I don’t know.

Me: Well, since you invented it you have the honor of claiming it’s meaning.

Hank: How about I do half and you do half of the meaning.

Me: Done. Go.

Hank: LOVE…

Me: … between a snail and a crocodile.

Hank: That is exactly what it means!  Stick it on your computer in so you don’t forget.

Me: (nodding and sticking)

Mystery solved and Chocolate Cake


Me: So…  Did you solve the mystery?

Hank: Yes.  I asked Professor Manuel (the principal) and he said my teacher would be back after ferias (vacation).  And that made me happy. He also told me we were very lucky students because, because our teacher was gone we would have NO HOMEWORK at all during ferias (vacation).  None.

Me: Wow.  That is lucky.  Two weeks and no homework.  What are you going to do with yourself?

Hank: Well, I have been thinking:  I want to work on my reading in English.  I want to practice my English alphabet and my English numbers because my brain gets fuzzy after sixteen.  I want to draw and draw and draw and I was hoping we could go on an adventure every day and read books and have dance parties.  I also wanted to tell you there is a disco ball for sale at the mall and that may be helpful to our family.

Me: We would totally use a disco ball.  I’ll check it out.

Hank:  Annnnd… I would like to back cookies, chocolate cake – that really chocolaty chocolate cake with the chocolate frosting you made for Monica’s birthday…

Me: It is funny you should ask for that cake because TOMORROW IS Monica’s Birthday!

Hank: I knew it.  I love her.  My heart knew. Can we make the cake tomorrow?

Me: Absolutely.

At the café


Me: Your day…  Spill the details.

Hank: My teacher wasn’t there today.

Me: Oh? Is she ill?

Hank: I don’t know.  I am worried.  Professor Carlos told us that she is never coming back.

Me: What?

Hank: He told us we were so bad she is never coming back, BUT I AM NOT BAD.  I do all my work and I do not talk in class.

Me: That happens.  When you are a part of a team you are only as strong as your weakest link.  That  is why there is an expression in English,  “Don’t ruin it for the rest of the class.”  Sometimes one person’s bad behavior affects the whole group.

Hank: Yes.  The other day we didn’t get to dance in dance class because the teacher said she would wait for everyone to stop talking AND NONE OF THEM STOPPED.  I was so board.  We just sat the whole class and the teacher texted on her phone.

Me: What a drag.

Hank: Yah.  I want to see my teacher again.  I like her.  The other day she borrowed my umbrella to go to lunch because she forgot hers and then after school she took me to the sala dos professores (teacher’s lounge) to get it back.  None of the other kids have seen the sala dos professores (teacher’s lounge).  It is fancy.  They have a coffee machine.

Me: Coffee Machines are required in teaching.

Hank: Do you think Professor Carlos is serious?  I cannot tell when he is kidding.

Me: There is only one way to find out.  Go to Professor Manuel (the principal)  and tell him your fears and how much you love your teacher and he will tell you the truth.

Hank: That is a good idea.  I will have to punch fear in the face, because Professor Manuel is tall and a little scary.

Me: You gotta do what you gotta do to find the truth.

Hank:  You’re right.  I will be brave… Or I will make Mariama (Hank’s BFF) do it.

Me:  (giggling) There is nothing wrong with asking for help.



Me:  Hank?  Can you come in to the kitchen, please?

Hank: Yes, my mama?

Me: Sit with me while I cook, please.  I fear if you don’t we will have nothing at all to eat for dinner because I would rather do anything else, but cook this evening.

Hank: Ok.  (sitting on step stool) How was your day?

Me: It was good.  I only have one final illustration and the cover and I am done with my book.

Hank: Good job, mama.  I am proud of you.

Me: Thank you, Hank.  That was just a lovely thing to say.

Hank: That is what you always say to me when I do a good job and now I know how you feel.  I feel (thinking) special in my heart for you.  Is that the proud feeling?

Me: Yup.

Hank: Are you crying, mama?

Me: A little.  It’s the onions.

Hank: And the happiness?

Me: And the happiness.



Guest Artist: Me…  This is Billy Blankenstooth.  Ardozia will be moving him from my sketchbook to a book you may purchase for Kindle or Ibooks in the month or so!  He and I are looking forward to sharing our adventures with you.

Este é Francisco Esquerdo. Ele estará se movendo para fora da minha imaginação para um livro nas próximas semanas. Publicado por Ardozia para a plataforma Kindle e IBooks. Francisco e eu estamos ansiosos para compartilhar nossas aventuras com você.



Hank: I just love my life.

Me: Nothing better than that, my dear.

Hank: And I have so much longer on my journey.  I have like… cem anos (100 years).

Me: Sure you do!

Hank: But you don’t.

Me: I am farther along on my journey than you are, but not by much.  I had you young, but there will be years of your life without your papa and I and that is alright.  That is the way it should be.

Hank: I have lived this much of my journey (pinched fingers the size of a grain of sand) and I have THIS MUCH LEFT (arms stretched wide).  And I will always be happy.

Me: You will face many things in your life, but as long as you keep this attitude your life will be the best possible. Just know that when you heart breaks and you face hard times you are strong and brave and you will heal.

Hank: I am so full of happy. I will save some for when I am sad.

Me: Like a happiness savings account?

Hank: Yes.

Me: No one ever called you dumb.

Hank: Not one day.

From under a book


Hank: Mama?


Hank: Mama? Are you ok?

Me: Sure.

Hank: But your book has fallen on the top of your face.

Me: It did not fall.  I eased is slowly down when my eyes got sleepy and because my book was so close I was able to continue to dream the story during my nap.

Hank: (lifting the book and peeking at me) Can you breathe?

Me: Yes.  Books are one of my favorite smells along with orange blossoms and bacon.

Hank: Do you do this a lot?

Pai: (entering the room) She does.  I have to peel a book off her face three to four nights a week.  She only has a problem when she is using her kindle or the Ipad.

Me: (fully awake and sitting up) I am surprised I haven’t broken my nose by this point.

Hank: You mean you fall asleep reading and the ipad falls on your face?

Me: Exatamente (exactly).

Hank: You make reading dangerous.

Me: I wouldn’t have it any other way.