i lava you a lot

It all started when my kiddo gave me a homework assignment:

After drawing a lava monster, he set out paper and a crayon on my desk for me to draw my own. As usual, I was focused on the tasks I wanted to accomplish that day, but something made me slow down enough to appreciate his assignment, and I drew a lava monster for him.

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The rest of that week, the three of us kept saying to each other, “I lava you … THIS much!” in monster voices of varying pitches.
So, I decided to print my monster as a risograph at Outlet PDX, the studio and print shop run by Kate Bingaman-Burt, and turn the lava monster into a valentine’s day card.
Risographs are like silkscreens, every color you want to print needs to be a separate drawing. Then, each drawing/color has to line up (register) just right, or intentionally overlap. I have no technology to do this for me, plus I had fun doing it by hand, but it took patience and multiple drafts. I could feel my brain rewiring itself as I tried to think of each color as a black shape or line.
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I cheered when the first color came out–magical to watch the monster go from black shapes on white paper to fluorescent orange and pink on pink paper.

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The final results made me so happy, I thought there must be others who will want to give this card to a loved one, a friend, a mom or grandma, or for Valentine’s Day. Now I have enough cards for my kiddo to give to classmates and a few to sell as well.
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Truthfully, and as some of you know, I don’t really love Valentine’s Day. I feel like it puts too much pressure on couples and singles. However, embracing it from a kid’s point of view and expressing exuberant love/lava has made it more fun. So, Valentine’s Day or not, I hope you have many people in your life who lava you a lot!
As always, thank you for reading and following me along at Carrot Condo. Your interest in my work keeps me motivated and happy.
–TRISTA

monsters lost: love found

It worked out to tie finger-puppet monsters to my Valentine’s Day cards for my kiddo’s class:

We had two left over that we raced in little cars after breakfast Valentine’s Day morning. The cars’ license plates said: “B.YOU” and “JUSTB.” Good Valentine’s Day messages, which made us think of “Our Person” at the gas station.

First, you must know that in Oregon, we are not allowed to pump our own gas. IMG_7343You pull up to a gas station, roll down your window, and wait for an attendant to help you. I’ve never liked this process, but a few years ago, we started going to the same gas station because of one particular attendant.

She’s petite with naturally wavy graying hair, and seems shy until she smiles. Her smile says a lot, full of genuine care and attention. Because I didn’t know her name, I started calling her “Our Person,” and now, if she’s ever not there, my kiddo laments with true concern, “Where’s Our Person?”

Racing cheerful monsters in even more cheerful cars made us think of her, so the kiddo colored my “It’s fun to share with a friend” card in vivid pink for her, and we attached it to a chocolate bar. On our way out the door, the kiddo insisted on bringing his two finger-puppet monsters by stowing them away in the hood of his coat. I figured he wanted to show them to our friend.

At the station, we hopped out of the car (we didn’t need gas), found our attendant, and gave her the treat. She appreciated the surprise and took time to admire the enthusiastic coloring. As we left, the kiddo realized his finger puppets were gone. We looked everywhere and decided they must have fallen out at home on the porch. When we got home hours later, the kiddo glanced around the porch but didn’t ask about the missing monsters. I decided I’d better not bring them up.

Two full weeks later, we pull up for gas. It’s crowded and someone else helps us, but through the mash of cars, “Our Person” glides over, says something to the other attendant who moves away, and there she is, smiling in our window. We chat, and then she says:

“Oh, I almost forgot. I have something that is yours. I’ve been putting it in my pocket each day in case you stop by.”

And out she pulls the two finger-puppet monsters! There they are, waving their sinewy arms excitedly. IMG_7647I notice a smudge of black on each of them and realize they must have fallen out of the car right under a tire, and, well…I probably drove right over them as we left the gas station.

The kiddo and I are both thrilled, but what he’s too young to ponder is this: Every day, for two weeks, “Our Person” has been putting the little monsters in the pocket of whatever pants she wears that day, pulling them out at the end of the day, and putting them in the next day’s pocket, just to be sure she has them ready for when we stop by.

It’s a small gesture that says so much about attention, kindness, care, and concern for others.

Her thoughtfulness and deliberate kindness fuels my hope in humanity as a whole. I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day, but for this year it turned out to be a good chance to celebrate friendship and kindness and to appreciate people for who they are. JUST B.YOU

monster love

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Monster cards colored for you.

Hello and happy Valentine’s Day! My monsters want to wish you a light-hearted and colorful day because sometimes Valentine’s Day is just too much pressure.

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Colored for you and some to color yourself!

Color these creatures however you wish (or get them already colored by yours truly). Attach a piece of candy, sticker, poem or joke, and show your friends some love.

You can also use the backside as a postcard:

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Turn it into a postcard. (Our local post office confirms they’re the right size and weight for a postcard stamp.)
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Color them all however you wish!

My family plans to color these ourselves and tie on a finger-puppet-monster for each kiddo. I think I can punch two holes in a corner, push some yarn through, and tie on the finger-puppet. I’ll share a pic in Instagram once I’ve got it figured out.

Happy day of love!!  Or…if you want to be really cool…tell everyone, “Happy Oregon’s Birthday!” because my state’s birthday is also February 14th. I know, some might say that’s more nerd than cool, but not me.