Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And guest post number two...

Today is Leap Day! If you scroll down to the next post, you'll see that I'm guest posting on two fabulous blogs today. I linked to my first guest post - A Letter From the Teacher - earlier today. And by earlier today, I mean about an hour ago.

And now I'd like to link to my second guest post.

In The Z Factor - posted on MOV's hilarious blog Mothers of Brothers - I share a fool-proof fitness tip with you: zombies as a motivational tool.


Thank you to the lovely hosts of Leap Blog Day! It's been fun hanging out at other people's blogs. Next time I'll clean up the house and host, instead of just being one of those guests who never seem to leave.

Happy leap year, friends!

Two For the Price of One

And seeing as how the price of one is free, this is a deal that can't be beat!

Today is Leap Blog Day, which is a made-up thing where on February 29th people write guest posts for each other. It's very prestigious and exclusive. And by exclusive I mean that anyone who wanted to could join.

I didn't invite anyone to guest post for me because at the time I didn't have very many readers. My readership has grown a lot since then, in large part because MOV is amazing and kept linking to me. And now I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't ask anyone. I'll invite a guest poster next time it's Leap Blog Day. Which will be in four years. Oh well.

Today, I'm hanging out on two other fabulous blogs. As of now, one is posted. I'll put up another post here when the second one goes live.

In A Letter From the Teacher - posted on Marianne's lovely blog We Band of Mothers - I share some of the things that your children talk about at school. No, for real. (Check out Marianne's blog - she's funny and sweet and she has a son who looks just like Slim Shady when he was a baby.)


To new readers coming from the blog hop: welcome! I'm glad you stopped by for a visit. To get a feel for Clay Baboons, check out a few of my favourite posts:
What Not to Say to Someone With an Uncooperative Uterus
For Self-Loathing, Press Three
Stand Up and Be Counted

Happy leap year, friends!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ten Things That Fed My Brain or Made Me Smile

Thing One: Look! It's me!


Violet from Creative Devolution drew me. I love it. It's absolutely perfect.

Thing Two: Why We Build The Wall
This is my favourite song from Anaïs Mitchell's Hadestown. I've been kind of obsessed with this album for the past six months. And by obsessed, I mean that I listen to it pretty much non-stop. In fact, it's playing right now, as I type this. Hadestown is a folk opera re-imagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, set in a post-apocalyptic America. Odd? Maybe. A little bit. But in a good way.
* I'm not sure that the song that I've linked to is posted with permission. Does anyone know the best way to find out?

Thing Three: I Want my (Liberal, Loving) Religious Liberties Upheld
This post on Late Enough was just fantastic. While I don't talk much about politics or my personal beliefs on this blog, I've been horrified by some of the things that have been in the news lately. Alex is much better at talking about these things than I am.
Edited to remove the words "I'm a feminist". I am a feminist, but I that's not why I've been horrified. I've been horrified because I'm a human.

Thing Four: Why the PS3 is Stealing my Husband
Oh, can I relate. Odd But Nice is one of my favourite illustrated blogs, so I'm always excited when she posts a new story.

Thing Five: Did You Guys Know I Could Time Travel?
So imagine you could go back in time, and talk to your parents. And when they ask what you do now that you're all grown up, you tell them that you write. A blog. Ha! From Haley's Comic.

Thing Six: Blood Chocolate
Crack You Whip, an illustrated humour blog, takes on a very serious issue in this post: the global chocolate trade.

Thing Seven: Tree Branches are a Thorn in my Side
Disagreements start out as small branches, but if we keep watering them, they grow and grow and grow. This post on My Life Concocted By Me made me smile.

Thing Eight: I'm not leaving my house again until this is a real thing
Emergency kits for the socially awkward! Another great illustrated blog post from This Is Not That Blog.

Thing Nine: Willpower
This is what happens when the brain, the heart and the body meet to discuss a problem. This post on Just a Mum? is smart, funny and very well written.

Thing Ten: blog awards

Over the past week, I've been suprised by blog awards from some very talented bloggers:

Crack You Whip
Creative Devolution
My Haven
The Incoherent Ramblings of a Moose

Thank you. It means a lot to me that you've chosen to link to Clay Baboons! The best part of blogging is interacting with readers, and it makes me so happy to know that you enjoy my work.

You may have noticed that I don't pass awards on, or do any of the memes (ie. 10 random things about me, or 5 things I love, etc). While I truly am honoured and humbled when people - especially bloggers whose work I respect and love to read - choose to highlight my work on their blogs, this isn't really a "do all the memes" kind of blog. I tell stories, and every now and then I share links to stuff that I think is cool. That's it. I will always acknowledge and appreciate the people who recognize my work, but I won't pass the awards on. I hope that I haven't hurt any feelings, or ruffled any feathers, or stepped on any toes, or mixed any metaphors by not following the award rules.

So, to reiterate (with a lot fewer words): Thank you. I kind of love you guys. I appreciate every single shout out, even if I don't jump on the meme-wagon. And also, I kind of love you guys.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Lesson Learned

I was a happy kid.


I loved pre-kindergarten because we had the best toys and I got to ride the bus and we had cake on my birthday and my teacher was the nicest teacher in the whole wide world.

(Author's note: she really was. You know those teachers you remember forever? Well, she was mine. I still feel all warm and happy when I picture her face.)

I was pretty good at school. For the most part, I got along with the other kids and I stayed out of trouble. I did well at school stuff, like circling the biggest snowman and writing my numbers - except for nines, which I wrote backwards until the third grade. I sped through any work my teacher (the nicest teacher in the whole wide world) gave me.

Some other things, though, took me a very, very long time to do. It always took me longer than the other kids to drink at the water fountain, or pack up my bag, or hang up my coat, or put on my shoes.


It may have had something to do with the fact that I never stopped talking. Or that there were always a million things to distract me. Or maybe I was just a slow kid. Regardless, the result was the same: I was always the last one ready.


Oh no.

I knew that voice.

It was my teacher's Mad Voice, the one that she used with her Stern Look.

There's nothing more miserable than the feeling you get when your beloved teacher - the nicest teacher in the whole wide world - aims her Mad Voice and Stern Look at you.

This was bad.


I froze and waited.


Oh no.

It is very bad when the teacher counts to five.

When the teacher counts to five, it means you are in trouble, and you have to be sitting at your table with your shoes on before she's finished. And if you aren't, then your table group doesn't get any points.

I stood there, frozen. Which should I do first? Go to my table? Or put on my other shoe?


Oh no!

Three! Three is very close to five!

I scurried to my table, still clutching my shoe in my hands. I got there in time, but my shoe wasn't on and my chair was still stacked.

I wasn't ready before five. And that meant that I was in trouble.

I wanted to disappear, so I did: I closed my eyes and hid my face.


I pressed the heels of my hands against my eyes. That way, no one would see me and no one would know that I was in trouble and my friends wouldn't be mad at me for making them lose a point. Again.




Oh no!

She could still see me!

I pressed my hands tighter against my eyes, marvelling at the cracks and splashes of colour that spread across my vision.


I was invisible.


But...

But...

My eyes were closed. I couldn't see her.

How could she see me?


And that's how I learned that people can see you even if you can't see them.

Who knew?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Clay Sheep Giveaway Winners!

It's time to announce the winners!


The quality's pretty awful. But watch it anyway. Because it's funny.

Facebook sheep winner


Randal!

Comment sheep winner


Sandra!

Haiku sheep winner

OK, I took the easy way out on this one. I couldn't pick the best one, because they all cracked me up. So I used an old-school random name generator (ie. I wrote everyone's name on a slip of paper and pulled one out of a bowl, since all of the hats were upstairs) and pulled out...


Skwishee!

Thanks for providing good, loving homes. The sheep appreciate not being smashed.

And also, I kind of wish I could give a sheep to everyone. I think I'll just start a running list and send out a creature whenever I have one that I can't bear to smash. Please let me know (with your email address) if you want on the list. It's a very exclusive list. I'm excluding everyone who doesn't want to be on it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Free To A Good Home (And Also Ten More Things)


Usually when I finish with a story, I just smash my creatures and reuse the clay. But I just...I can't. I know that I ranted about how these sheep keep me awake at night, but the truth is that I kind of love them.

So I'd like to offer them to a good home. I have three sheep to give away. And here's how it will work:

- one sheep will go to a random commenter on this post
- one sheep will go to a random person who likes Clay Baboons on facebook
- one sheep will go to the person who writes the best sheep haiku

You can do one of the three to enter just one giveaway, or all three to enter each separate giveaway. And if only one person writes a sheep haiku, then you win a sheep by default! I'll announce the winners next Tuesday, so you have until then to enter.

And now for the ten things.

Please note: illustrated and humour blogs sometimes use strong language or pictures that might not be considered appropriate for your workplace. Use your discretion! And don't blame me if you get in trouble for anything.

Thing One


from Womb for Whining

Gweenbrick is a creative storyteller who crafts hilarious illustrated posts about his very strange life and his very strange mind. He mentioned to me in his comment section that he had tried to make himself out of clay, but he wouldn't stand up. So I made a Gweebrick action figure for him.




Thing Two

Baa

This video is horrifying. Horrifying, I tell you. You probably think I'm being facetious, but I'm not. If I thought counting sheep was stressful before, this video will turn it into an utter nightmare. The false sense of safety at the beginning, the jarring evil clown music, the mutant alien lambs who haunt my darkest dreams...horrifying. (Thanks to missohkay for suggesting this video and pretty much guaranteeing that I'll never sleep through another night.)


Thing Three

Whatever Could the "C" Stand For?
(Not safe for work. Unless you work with nearly-nude underwear models.)

In the words of Murr: if the thong is butt floss, the c-string is the toothpick. I laughed out loud more than once at these musings on the cultural phenomenon that are women's underwear. And also, she introduces the blogosphere to the term "junk-whisperer". There has to be some kind of prize for that. (When you're done, read some of Murr's archives. She's an extremely talented writer: smart, funny, thought-provoking.)


Thing Four

Her Name is Juanita

This post by The Bloggess made me laugh out loud. Again and again. And then some more. There's a reason why she's the one and only Bloggess. (confession: I'm very late to this game. I only started reading The Bloggess a few months ago. I wish I could rewind time and start reading from the beginning.)



Thing Five

A Duck's Life

Meet Eke, an often-inappropriate cartoon bug that lives on the blog Candy For Breakfast. I love this blogger's style of writing and illustrating; the cute twee pictures stand in jarring contrast with the often rude language. Funny stuff!





Thing Six

The Feminist Housewife's Guide to her Own Sanity

Jen over at Renaissance Maam is currently a housewife. And I know exactly how she feels. It can be hard to pull up roots and move to a new place, especially when you can't work or go to school once you get there. I love these tips and suggestions to help reluctant stay-at-homers adjust and make the best of the time that they have.



Thing Seven

Where Good Ideas Come From

This video by Steven Johnson is thought-provoking and inspiring. Johnson explores the roots of creativity and good ideas, using charming hand-drawn whiteboard illustrations and stop-motion photography to provide a strong visual representation of his words. I first saw this video at a teaching conference a couple of years ago, and for some reason I woke up thinking about it one morning this week. That counts as a slow hunch, right? Or have I missed the whole point...


Thing Eight

Happy Birthday Abby Gabs!

Why yes, that is a photoshopped image of a shirtless Donnie Wahlberg jumping out of a cake. On her blog's first birthday, Abby highlights some of her favourite posts from the past twelve months. I love her funny photoshopped images and the way that she over-acts in self-portraits and videos. Abby puts the gab back into...ummm...Abby Gabs. Yeah, the slogan might still need a bit of work.


Thing Nine

Human Tetris

This is one of my all-time favourite Youtube videos. You know those videos that you watch again, and again, and again, and again? Well, this is one of mine. Add stop-motion photography to the list of Things I Want To Try Someday. (This one is dedicated to Skwishee and J.R. who both suggested playing Tetris in my head to cure my insomnia.)

Thing Ten

Snoring

Despite its rather uninspired name, this game is strangely addictive and almost exactly like Angry Birds. Except with sleeping elephants instead of angry birds. Disclaimer: I've never actually played Angry Birds, so this game might not be anything like it at all.



Please note: I'm not going to reply to comments on this post, because I don't want to mess up the numbers up for the giveaway. So sorry in advance for ignoring you!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stand Up And Be Counted




Artist's note: those are sheep. Sheep. They are not dogs with curly hair. They're sheep. So no smart remarks about dogs in the comment section. They're sheep.

Yes, I realize that sheep are cute. They're all fluffy and soft and you can turn them into sweaters and bleating sounds cool. But don't let them fool you. Sheep can make your life miserable in ways that are difficult to comprehend until you've experienced it yourself.

You see, sometimes I have a hard time sleeping. Either I'll toss and turn from the moment I get into bed, or else I'll fall asleep right away only to be woken up suddenly in the middle of the night. I'm never quite sure what it is that wakes me up...


...but it doesn't really matter.

What matters is that I'm awake in the middle of the night.

My first instinct is always to check the time. This is usually a mistake, as I then start calculating how much sleep I'll get if I fall back asleep that very instant.












And this is where the sheep come in.


(Please note: for the purpose of this story, we're going to assume that each sheep represents an infinite number of sheep of that particular colour. Making an infinite number of sheep would have taken way more time than I am willing to spend on making clay sheep. Although I should also note that the amount of time that I'm willing to spend on making clay sheep seems to be a lot higher than I would have originally thought.)

We hear it from the time we're little: when you can't sleep, count sheep.

So I try.

At first, it's ok.


The sheep jump over the wall in an orderly fashion,


one after another,


and I almost feel myself relaxing.


But then something happens. They start jumping faster and faster, one and then another and another, until they're just a blur. They're out of control, jumping much faster than I can possibly count them. I feel my stomach clench and the blood pump through my body. I squeeze my eyes shut tightly, trying to force the image of blurry flying sheep out of my head.


Too fast! Slow down! Stop jumping!

Listen to me!!!

Enough!

I'm now further from sleep than ever, and still the sheep fly through my brain.


I do the only thing that I possibly can under the circumstances.


I tear down the wall.


Actually, I don't tear it down so much as break it in two,


leaving a hole just wide enough for a single sheep.


The hole is the perfect width: wide enough that a sheep can push through it, narrow enough that each one will have to pick its way carefully.


Slow.


Calm.


Orderly.


And all is well until an extra fluffy sheep tries to squeeze its way through the hole in the wall. It gets stuck halfway through, and no matter how much it squirms and wiggles, it doesn't budge.


The other sheep pile up behind it, pushing and shoving and crowding.


More and more of them join the group, until there's a big bleating pulsing jostling crowd. I wave my arms, trying to get their attention, but the sheep ignore me.

This really isn't working for me.




Oh well. I may as well get up.

I could do a load of laundry, or write another chapter, or answer my emails, or play minesweeper, or make sure that the bank account is balanced, or learn to speak Spanish, or work out, or clean out the fridge.

Or I could just look for funny animal videos on youtube.


Yeah, I'll probably go with that last one.