Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Elliott And Captain Underpants

It was only a matter of time, but Elliott has found out about Blogtober. He knows I made a couple of posts about him and now he wants EVERY post to be about him. He’s got a lot of ideas too. It’s adorable. He really wants everybody to see the Captain Underpants cut out that he made.

Elliott is super into cut outs, which I think is awesome. When I first starting using epoxy resin to cover my paintings back in 2004 the majority of my work was cut outs glued to painted wood panels. Like this:

Let’s just say cut outs are dear to my heart and I love that Elliott is making them and totally discovered them on his own.

After he made the BIG Captain Underpants he decided a smaller one needed to be made for on-the-go purposes. Elliott is totally one of those kids that has to grab as many things as possible as he walks out the door because he “needs” them wherever he goes. He’ll stuff his backpack to full capacity with Hot Wheels and plushies and things he “needs” and then he’ll never even open the backpack while we’re out and about. Anyway, this smaller Captain Underpants gets to go on adventures like trips to Trader Joe’s and whatnot. Although, now I think it might be crumpled up in the bottom of his backpack. So, it’s a good thing I took this photo when I did.

Oh yeah, he said it’s very important for you to know that the cape is a separate cut out piece that he taped on the back of Captain Underpants. I took a photo of the cape, but it didn’t quite capture the full glory of what the cape stands for, so you’ll just have to trust me.

That’s it for now.
Y’all have a good weekend!

– Jeff

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In other news:
– It’s Open Studios Tour in SLO County this weekend and next. Go check out some art! For more info visit: Arts Obispo
– I’ll be at Viva Paso all weekend. Come by and check out some art and all of the other goodies we have to offer. 1211 Pine in downtown Paso Robles.
– If you have a 10 year old or younger have them check out The Elliott Show.

Elliott Lego Edition

My shop is open until 9pm on Friday’s and Saturday’s. Elliott is not fan of these nights because it usually means he’ll be asleep before I get home. This past Friday was no exception. Elliott was asleep when I got home and Coral told me that he made something really cool with his Lego’s that he REALLY wanted to show me. In ParentLand this means in the morning I need to be sure to ask him about it. And I would have but, like usual, he beat me to the punch. What that means is that he woke me up at 6:40am with a very subtle, “Dad! I have to show you something!”

Half asleep, groggy eyed and not really 100% sure of what was going on he ran out of the room before I could respond. He came back seconds later carefully carrying this big awesome Lego construction that was actually a Lego version of himself.


(In case you can’t tell from the photo. The arms have some sort of pivot function so they can swing back and forth and the legs have hinges so they can bend.)

Obviously, I thought it was amazing and I told him so and then he left the room with his Lego Elliott and I fell back to sleep. When I finally woke up I had to rush out of the house to make it to work on time. Let’s be honest though, the phrase “on time” actually means opening the shop between 10:15-10:30am despite the posted hours on the front door that claim we open at 10am. The point is, I rushed out and totally forgot to take a photo of Lego Elliott. If you know kids and Lego’s you know the fun things they invent with them are usually quite fleeting. Lucky for us Lego Elliott survived the entire Saturday and this morning before I left for work I was able to get a photo of him. And it’s a good thing I did because when I came home from work today Lego Elliott looked like this.

I’m sure it wouldn’t take much surgery for Elliott to get the Lego version of himself back to working order, but the likelihood is pretty slim. That’s just the nature of Lego building. You build it. Play with it. Wreck it. And then on to the next invention.

That’s a wrap!
Thanks for reading.

– Jeff

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Need more?
Check out this great text convo with Neal from 2015.
Speaking of Neal. Follow him on Instagram: @nealbretonart

Eat The Marshmallow

There are a lot of days when there is something waiting for me when I get home and the other day this was it.

Yes, it’s a rope hanging from the balcony with a note taped to it. Could it be a ransom note? Has some villain taken my family hostage while I was out? The odds of that are pretty slim, but I will say this. Elliott loves leaving surprises around for me to discover. I think these surprises are hilarious and I love them. I never quite know what to expect. Of course, this note hanging from the balcony is the first thing I see as I approach the garage to put my bike away. What will the surprise be today? Does the note say, “Welcome home, Daddy!” Of course not, that’s too easy. Instead, there is a marshmallow skewered on a toothpick and the toothpick is taped to the paper with the following message.

“Pull the paper up and eat the marshmallow!”

Aww…he left me a tasty treat. What a sweetheart. The thing is, I have no idea how long this marshmallow has been hanging here collecting dust from a windy afternoon. I have no idea what critters might have crawled on it. It’s also unclear to me why I need to go up the balcony just to pull the marshmallow up to eat it when I could just as easily eat it right here on the spot. Elliott must have been spying from the window because before I even got the garage door open he was running down the stairs to see if I found the note.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but he ended up eating the marshmallow before I had a chance. What will be waiting for me when I get home tonight, hmmm…

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

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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

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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

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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

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