Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Spring Break 2018: Ostriches, Tramps, And Other Exotic Creatures

Spring break has come and gone, but the memories will last forever.

Is that the cheesiest line to start a blog post with, or what? Ok, let me wipe the throw up off my face and brush my teeth. Yes, that sentence made me vomit. Anyway…

It’s a bit overdue to post about something that happened over a month ago, but that’s just my life. Before we dive into the Spring Break shenanigans I have to show you a couple of things. First:


Elliott wanted to draw a little boy so I made a very quick drawing of a little boy and Elliott colored it. That’s right, it’s a collab. Limited edition prints coming soon! Just kidding.

Second, Elliott drew the coolest freaking leprechaun I’ve ever seen.

Limited edition prints coming soon!
Again, just kidding.
But maybe…

And now, I’ll tell you all about the crazy Spring Break debauchery that went down. You’re not going to believe it, but Elliott and I went to Fort Lauderdale to party and pick up some beach betties. And we’ve got the photo to prove it!

After a couple of days in “The Fort”, as we call it, we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. If you’ve ever been there you know what I’m talking about. Two days is too many. So, we went where everybody else goes when they’ve partied too hard…SOLVANG!

We fed the ostriches and a couple emus. Nobody quite knows exactly what an emu is, but we didn’t discriminate. We made sure to feed the emu whatever we found on the bottom of our feeding dish. You know, just like you would any other second class citizen. Did you know you can now ride the ostriches at Ostrichland? Here’s Elliott taking Ozzie The Ostrich for a little joyride around the farm.

(Sidenote: It’s taken me 4 days to get to this point in the blog. I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore, but let’s continue. Shall we?)

You can count on us to sniff out the coolest playground in town and I’ve got to tell you, Solvang did not disappoint.

This photo is literally just a fraction of what Pirate Park has to offer. It’s not actually called Pirate Park, but I don’t have the time to google “cool park in Solvang” to find out its real name.

Ok, we need to backtrack a little bit. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. As parents, Coral and I never look forward to breaks. Thanksgiving breaks, Christmas breaks, Spring breaks, Summer breaks and all of those 3-4 day weekends that are scattered throughout the school year. For some people, particularly the kids, I’m sure they are great. For us, we twiddle our thumbs and wonder what the hell we’re supposed to do with these damn kids all day. Well, this past Spring break I actually thought of something. I decided to take Elliott on a little out of town adventure for a couple of days.

I love trampolines.

That sentence will seem less random in a minute. When I was a kid I had a trampoline. I’m not very good on them, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve that make me feel like a rockstar. A few years ago these trampoline parks started sprouting up. A trampoline park is basically a warehouse full of trampolines that are all lined up together and you can jump from one to another to another to another to another until your face smashes into someones knee while they’re going up and you’re falling down. Nose bleeding fun for the whole family! They are basically a dream come true to the 15 year old that still lingers somewhere within my psyche. I’ve been wanting to check out one of these parks since the second I heard about them a few years ago. My plan was to hunt one down and take Elliott there for our daddy-son getaway. It wasn’t totally selfish. Ok, sure, it was a little selfish, but he loves trampolines too. Did you not see the video? Like and subscribe? 😜

But really, like and subscribe. Or don’t. But you should. Well, wouldn’t you know it, some genius opened one in Santa Maria, which is only 1 hour away from where we live. Discovering the one hour away trampoline park was exactly the catalyst we needed to set the rest of our adventure in motion.

The plan went something like this. Leave Paso Robles, tramp park in Santa Maria, feed ostriches and stay the night in Buellton, wake up the next day and go to Santa Barbara zoo (which neither of us have ever been to).

All this trampoline talk and the only photo I have is of Elliott climbing a wall at the trampoline park without a single trampoline in sight. But here’s the thing. I did take some video and one of these days (if we’re lucky) I will edit it and upload it to my channel for your voyeuristic viewing pleasure. Stay tuned, but don’t hold your breath. Oh, here’s an idea. How about I post a screenshot from the video?

Great idea! Here it is.

I typed way too much about trampolines. The idea was to post photos with captions and I failed big time at that, so I’ll keep it minimal on the words from here on out. Don’t worry, it’s almost over. Look, I’m bored too. I can only sit at SLO Do Co surrounded by 19 year olds for so long. Also, it’s currently 10:50pm on a Wednesday night and I’m 35 minutes from home and still have real work to get done before the night is over. I’m doing this for you. That’s right, because you NEED to know all about my Spring break that happened 56 days ago. What was it I said about keeping the words at a minimum? Ok, here we go!

Elliott’s main goal at the zoo was to see the elephants.

Goal accomplished.

We also saw this amazingly impressive staghorn.


We waited so long to get this picture. This gorilla sat with its back to us for an insane amount of time. You’d think it would be more concerned with the humans getting good photo ops, but no, not this gorilla. It’s just going to act like it has nothing better to do all day while trapped in a zoo wishing it could be back in the Congo where it belongs.


Spider-Elli!

You know what, that park in Solvang is called Sunny Fields Park. Turns out I do have the time. Ughhh…

Speaking of time, it is time to wrap this thing up because, let’s face it, this post has outstayed its welcome. Trust me though, I totally spared you. Things missing from this post:
– The Easter Egg Hunt and other Easter activities.
– I didn’t mention how Elloitt may have had just as much fun on the escalator in the Santa Maria mall as he did in the trampoline park.
– Hotel room tour photos.
– Continental breakfast photos at The Marriott.
– A plethora of other things that I can’t even remember.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Even if you skipped all the words and just looked at the photos I still appreciate that you checked it out when you could have been watching trick shot videos on YouTube instead. Speaking of YouTube, I really did take a lot of video of our Spring Break adventure. I’m going to edit it and will try my best to upload before Spring Break 2019.

See ya!
– Jeff

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You can’t possibly still want more of me, but who knows…maybe you’re crazy. If so, check me out on:
– Instagram: @jeffclaassen
– Snapchat: kidding, I don’t snapchat.

Some Paintings And A Sick Bird


Still working on the big bunny painting. This photo is about a month old, but I just found it on my hard drive and was all, “the people NEED to see this!”

Ok, not really, but so much effort goes into taking a selfie in the middle of the night…what, with putting the camera on a tripod (or gorilla pod in this case), setting a timer, running to get into position and posing as if you’re “in action” all before the camera timer goes off and takes the picture. Why have all that effort go to waste? Anyway, the painting has progressed a little bit since this photo, but not much. Hopefully I can finish it very soon. There is an extremely sad and lonely empty wall space in the shop that needs filling. So, the sooner I finish this thing the better.

Since I was going through my hard drive you are in luck today, because I found a couple more things to share. If you frequent this blog you know about my recent mini canvas obsession. Por ejemplo: this and this. Anyway, I am happy to report that the obsession has extended past my own desires and trickled down to my offspring.


Not my best octopus and I blame the tools. I’m simply too advanced at this point in my career to use Crayola markers on a canvas. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Elliott, on the other hand, has got it down. Flowers and sunshine, baby!

This next one is just to illustrate how funny I think I am.

Sadly, this little birdie never did get better. Sorry, buddy.

That’s it for now. Thanks for tuning in!
– Jeff

* * * * * * * *
Keep the good times rolling!
– Post from 2 years ago in which one of the kids invents a new awesome word.
– Tweeting: @jeffclaassen
– Gramming: @jeffclaassen

SLO Adventure: We Hiked Madonna Mountain

We finally hiked Madonna Mountain. I can see the hardcore locals cringing now, but I grew up in SLO and I know that’s not the real name. It just happens to be what (almost) everybody calls it. Should I even mention the giant M on the side of the mountain? Maybe it’s stating the obvious and the M simply stands for “mountain”.

You say, “I’m hiking Cerro San Luis Obispo” and people will undoubtedly ask you what that is. And if you say something like, “Oh yeah, me and the kids are hiking one of the Nine Sisters today.” then you can expect a drop in from Child Protective Services because no parent should be taking their kids to a brothel even if Nine Sisters offers a buy one get one free deal. So, let’s keep it easy and just call it Madonna Mountain. Anyway, it was Elliott’s first time hiking it.

Is it really a “hike”? We were both in jeans and I was wearing the type of shoes you might wear to church or a business casual luncheon. In no way are they ideal for hiking, so let’s be honest and simply say we walked up a hill. And it’s a beautiful hill, but if I am going to go truly hiking then backpacks, canteens, bug spray, and a Swiss army knife should be involved and the fancy leather Clark’s will be left at home.

Elliott had been talking about hiking for weeks and was incredibly excited to go. He doesn’t remember it, but he actually sort of hiked it before. Or, at least, attempted to. Well, it’s more like he was carried up the hill and did no actual walking on his own. It was around Christmas and I wanted the whole family to hike up at night so we could sit under the Christmas lights on the top of the mountain. He was strapped to my chest in a front pack and we didn’t even make it halfway because somebody in our group wimped out. I won’t say any names (Coral), but we all turned around, walked back to the car, and returned home. Defeated.

This time was different. It was just Elliott and I and no front pack. If you think I’m strapping a 6 year old kid to my chest and walking up a mountain then you’ve gobbled down one too many space cakes. Growing up in a neighborhood near the base of Cerro San Luis gave me the opportunity to hike/walk up it a million times. It was basically right in my backyard and somehow I had never once walked by the giant M until a couple of weeks ago when I was with Elliott.


(Sidenote: It does not stand for mountain. I’d tell you what it stands for, but you can wikipedia that shit.)

Even then, we only discovered it by accident because I took a wrong turn. I know, how could I take a wrong turn when just a minute ago I claimed the entire mountain as my backyard. Well, as a youngster I always started the hike/walk from what I guess could be referred to as the north side of the mountain. Perhaps the locals call it the Foothill side. For this particular adventure we started from the parking lot on the Marsh Street onramp.

Here’s Elliott at the tippy tip top. We made it to the summit just before sunset, which was pretty awesome.

In case these photos weren’t enough I made a video of our hiking adventure. Check it out!

If you’re planning on watching the sunset from the top of this or any mountain, be sure to take flashlights. We did not take any and it was totally pitch black for at least half the walk down. It made it somewhat exciting, but maybe not the type of exciting you’re looking for.

Thanks for reading and watching!
– Jeff

* * * * *

If you’re not totally sick of me yet I encourage you to:
– check out the other videos on my YouTube channel.
– Follow me on the IG.
– and next time you eat a donut, think of me.

Compilation Vlog: January 2018

January was a busy month. One kid had a birthday Another kid made a parkour course in the living room. There was a fire. Somebody cried at the beach and I almost finished a painting. Hashtag family life.
Enjoy!

Trampoline Surprise

So, my lovely nieces gave their little cousin, Elliott, their trampoline. Obviously, he is THRILLED.

He totally adores these girls.

It’s safe to say, they adore him too.

And here’s a video of me setting up the trampoline and surprising Elliott with it when he came home from school the other day. Enjoy!

Thanks for watching!
– Jeff

* * *

If you’re looking for more things to click on, check these out:
– Time lapse painting videos!
– The Vlogtober Challenge, in which I teach you how to be a professional art vlogger.
– Listen to the Podcast Coral and I never have time to record, Live Work Love.

New Goodies At Viva Paso And Other Random Shiz

Things have been pretty busy at Viva Paso this past week. We’ve received a lot of new products. I’d talk about all of them here, but I’ve already done that on the Viva Blog.

Work stuff aside, let’s engage in some random photo time. I’m just going to scroll through my phone to find some things worthy enough to be shared with the world…or the two people that happen to read this. Here we go!


Here’s Elliott with all of his friends. How do kids end up with so much shit? What’s weird is how they’re able to keep such a good mental inventory of it all. If I secretly take one of these stuffed animals Elliott totally knows it’s missing.


Coral and I on Halloween just before hitting the streets for trick-or-treating. It’s hard to see in the photo, but Coral’s eyelid was covered in glittering turquoise to match her sweater. I was in my typical uniform.


Seriously, Postman? You couldn’t walk this one to the door? It took half a jar of Crisco and a Slim Jim to get this out. And while we’re on the Postal theme…


The line at the Paso Robles Post Office on Dec. 19. I think a read about 2 chapters of a book before I got to the front.


When the box of hot cocoa, James, and a ballpoint pen are left alone together.

Pretty random, but that’s just how life goes. A random string of events that sometimes make the most perfect sense or no sense at all.

Enjoy!

– Jeff

Sometimes It’s Best To Not Teach Your Kids.

This is an actual conversation I heard the other day between Evy (14) and James (16). So, the situation was James and Evy were downstairs. I was upstairs and could hear that James was singing. I couldn’t tell what song he was singing, but he seemed pretty into it. Also, he wasn’t singing along with music playing. This was straight up a cappella. Evelyn interrupted his singing to ask:
“What dees is that from?”
From upstairs I thought, “What is she talking about it?” while simultaneously fearing that maybe I was too old and uninformed to have heard of some new style of music. Luckily, James asked, “What?”
Evy: What dees is that from?
James, still confused: What do you mean?
Evy again: What dees is that from…you know, like 80’s or 90’s?

And that’s when I almost spit cereal out of my nose and had to rush to my room so they wouldn’t hear me cracking up. This next thing I’m about to tell you is one of those situations where my ability to be a good parent could and probably should be questioned. Naturally, my first instinct is to help and educate by teaching Evy the word “era”. For example, “What era is that song from?” But, I’m also human with a questionable sense of humor, which means I thought it would be more fun to not teach her and hope that she says “dees” for years to come. I especially hope she says it while talking to a boy she’s trying to impress.

Sometimes, as a parent, we need these things to keep our sanity. Now get out there and not teach something to your kids today!

The Weekly Wrap Up: Mexican Wrestling Masks, A Man Date And A Middle Finger

First off, parents are not fans of three day weekends. Having kids home an extra day is no walk in the park. School should probably be ten hours a day, eight days a week. It was much harder for Coral since I ditched out on family duties to spend some time in thee ole’ studio on Saturday and Sunday. Then today I ditched her again to watch my nieces, but I did take Elliott with me, so Coral had one very needy and demanding kid out of her hair for the majority of the day. Last week I started a Lucha Libre series. Or better put, a series of Mexican Wrestling masks. Here are the first two in the series.


“Mighty Miguel”
3.5″ x 5″ – mixed media on wood
$60, plus shipping
Available online.


“Feisty Felipe”
5.5″ x 8″ – mixed media on wood
$80, plus shipping
Available online.

In addition to the Lucha Libre masks I also finished a new blockhead owl.


“Andy The Owl”
3.5″ x 7″ – mixed media on wood
$65, plus shipping
Available online.

Enough of the, “Look at me. Buy my art…wah, wah, wah” self promotional mumbo jumbo. Here are a few other tidbits from the week. But, really, you probably should buy some artwork. I’d be super stoked, plus I have a lot of bills. Anyway…


Here’s a studio shot that I am posting as less of a self-promotional buy my stuff pic and more of a it’s just part of my life photo. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve had enough artwork to cover a wall and I spent a big portion of my Saturday studio time wiring, signing, hanging and pricing artwork.


Again, this is more just part of my life so it’s getting thrown in the “weekly wrap up” because it takes a long time to make 100 magnets.


I was super stoked to go on a man date with my buddy Justin who I haven’t seen for a few months. We are probably the first people to spend 2 hours having lunch at a Mr. Pickles. Hey look, I know I called it a man date, but don’t let your pervy imagination turn “lunch at Mr. Pickles” into something it’s not.


And, of course, you can’t pull a camera out in front of Neal without him offering up his good side. And by “good side” I mean his stubby middle finger.

Well, there you have it. I can’t recall writing a weekly wrap up before, but it might be something I try to make a habit out of.

I hope you had a great weekend. If you’re not a parent I’m sure you did. If you didn’t then you are a jerk and need a little perspective. For example, Coral got yelled at by Evelyn (our thirteen year old daughter) for asking Evy to wash a dirty cup of soup that has been in her room for at least 6 days. The conversation went something like:

“Evy, please take that cup downstairs and wash it. I’ve asked several times and it’s been there for days, which is just gross.”

To which Evy responded, “Ughhh! You guys expect us to do everything ourselves!”

And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Anyway…

Tune in next time for…
who knows what. I’ll be babbling about something and I can assure you it will be babbles you won’t want to miss.

– Jeff

An Actual Conversation I Had With Evy

As a parent of teenagers you often ask yourself, “Why do I even try?” Do I have an undying curiosity about the ins n’ outs of Ultimate Football? Not really, but I do like conversations with my daughter that don’t involve telling her, for the 100th time, to clean her room. And honestly, I did have a vague curiosity about Ultimate Football and had assumed it was the same thing as Ultimate Frisbee, but with a football, because I’m not a total idiot. The thing is, I couldn’t, and still can’t, remember for the life of me how to play Ultimate Frisbee so I asked. I may not have gotten the answer I expected, but I did get a conversation worth sharing with you. Nobody else in the car seemed to see the humor in it, but based on the conversation you should get a sense of the people I’m dealing with here. If it doesn’t go over their head than it goes in one ear and out the other.

Moral of the story: Who knows…I guess it’s don’t pick Evy to be on your Ultimate Football (or frisbee) team.

– Jeff

Elliott Upgraded His Playpen

Elliott finally upgraded to a new playpen. It’s much more roomier than the one you might remember from last summer. The only thing I can think of that would improve on this new set up is if we crane lifted it upside down and set it over Elliott. It would be like when we used to put the laundry basket over my sister’s cat and called it Kitty Prison, except this would be with a trailer and human.

Lazy James, The Origin Of Cashews And Something I Don’t Understand

The title says “something I don’t understand”, but when it comes to James, I don’t understand any of it. I might be going a little too far by posting a photo of his underwear, but oh well. This kid kicks lazy up to a whole new level. Actually, kicking takes too much energy. This kid drops lazy to a whole new level. It’s literally been years of telling him to remove his belt from his pants before putting them in the wash. I didn’t even realize this was something I would ever have to tell another human being. The underwear intertwined in the pant legs is just a bonus for all of our viewing pleasure. Speaking of bonus, there was a Starbucks and Taco Bell gift card in his pocket. Which is now going in my pocket, cha-ching! I’ll admit, occasionally I forget something in my pockets and Coral fishes a screw or bent staple out of the washer, but I literally found the same Starbucks card in yesterday’s wash. I told James he forgot it in his pocket when I handed it to him just last night. You’d think that a Starbucks and a Taco Bell card would be like gold to a 14 year old, but James seems to dismiss it like yesterday’s dirty laundry. And today’s dirty laundry. Did that joke land? I’m not quite sure, but I’ll leave it.

Anyway, Here are a couple of “Jamestories” I’ve collected this month.

Jan. 2
James: I don’t like peanuts/peanut butter or cashews or almonds.
Me: I don’t like cashews either. (In my head I’m thinking, “Awesome, father-son bonding over the hatred of cashews.)
Then Coral walked in and I said, proudly, “We don’t like cashews.”
James (to Coral and I): Do you know where cashews come from?
Me: They grow on a tree.*
James: No, they come from papayas.
Coral and I shared a look we often share with each other when James is being James.

Jan. 14
Me: What are you doing in our room?
James: Using the mirror.
Me: Use the mirror in your room.
James: But I can’t see my socks in my mirror.
Me: Seriously?
James: You wouldn’t understand.

And he walked out of the room. Kind of unrelated, but the next day he wore a Rasta shirt with matching Rasta earbuds. I should mention that I have never seen him wear earbuds to school before. And I should mention that he hasn’t worn them since. This is where the sock conversation comes into play. I know he has a pair of Rasta socks somewhere. I guess he just couldn’t find them in time to wear with the outfit he orchestrated for the day. This reminds me of one of my earlier posts from when James was 12. It’s called, “James Prefers Fashion Over Function” and, although I’m biased, it’s totally worth a read.

See ya!
– Jeff

* As it turns out, cashews are very interesting in that they are actually a seed to the cashew apple. Personally, I think they’re kind of weird looking because the cashew nut is on the outside of the cashew apple. So yes, they do grow in a tree, but they are attached to a fruit. As much pleasure as it brings me to make fun of my kids, I have to say that in James’ defense, although the cashew does not come from a papaya, it does come from another fruit.

Working With A Monkey On My Back


(photo by Coral)

This kid. He’s such a monkey. Ready for real talk? Here’s the truth about having a kid. I have never loved something so much yet been so incredibly annoyed with a person at the same exact time. It’s a strange feeling, which is made stranger because while he’s being annoying he has no clue at all that he’s being annoying. And he looks at me with the happiest eyes I’ve ever seen. He’s so full of love and just wants to play. It’s one of the hard things about being a parent and working at home. If I didn’t have to work I would be wrestling and having tickling wars with Elliott all day. Normally, my work at home days are spent in the garage while Coral watches Elliott in the house and that’s a nice set up. As of late, it’s been freezing in the garage, so I’ve been setting up shop on our kitchen table. Yes, my seat is right over a heater vent and it feels great. Ok, now let me give you a little play by play.

Elliott is in the living room with Coral while I’m in the kitchen working on a painting. Elliott runs to me yelling, “ELMO!” while shoving an Elmo plush doll in my face. After hugging Elmo I hand him back and Elliott runs back to the living room. One minute later he’s running back to me saying, “McQueen! McQueen! McQueen!”. I hand him the Lightning McQueen car that’s on the table. He grabs it, saying, “Welcome!” as he turns away because somewhere he picked up on the phrase “you’re welcome” and he uses it instead of saying “thank you.” It’s cute and endearing and he’ll figure it out eventually. A minute passes and he’s back in the kitchen pointing at our bunny, Pascal, who is enjoying his out of the cage time by munching on a cardboard box in the corner of our kitchen. Elliott fishes a bunny poop out of the cage and tries to feed it to Pascal. Then he motions to me to pet Pascal. After I pet the bunny Elliott grabs a bungee cord that he’s attached to Elmo’s leg and runs back to the living room yelling something in that special Elliott speak that we can’t always decipher.

Ok, let’s review. In a three minute span of time I…
– stopped painting to hug Elmo
– stopped painting to grab a McQueen car
– stopped painting to explain that Pascal does not want to eat his own poop

That’s all in a three minute span of time, people. And this goes on ALL DAY. I allow myself to watch something on YouTube while I eat lunch. Today I chose a 12 minute long interview with Mike D. In the twenty minutes of stuffing my face with more quesadillas than I can count, I managed to see 5 minutes of the interview because Elliott “needed” something every minute or two which involved setting down my food, pausing the video and taking off my headphones.

Sure, every once in awhile he will get totally engrossed in something, which is awesome for two reasons. One, I love to see his little mind at work while he constructs a block tower or hooking a bungee cord up to two cars so they can tow each other around. And two, it creates a little pocket of time in which I (or Coral) can work without interruptions.

By the 15th Elliott interruption today I looked at him and said, “Elliott, you are so annoying, but so stinking cute.” Then I picked him up and gave him a big hug.

What else can I do? I love the little pest.

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