New Red Fox Collection Debuts at Fat and Appy

Really, really excited to tell ya’ll that today, The Fox Has Landed.

We’re launching a new collection in our online store that offers parents modern art for children, Fat and Appy™. The new art collection is called Red Fox and the designs come from Jonathan’s children’s book Red Fox in a Shadowed Wood, a moody, evocative tale that’s really different than what he’s done before.

A fox print by Jonathan Fenske

Red Fox and the Steel Giant, 12″x18″, available from Fat and Appy, $109

Red Fox in a Shadowed Wood follows the adventures of a curious fox who travels homeward under the cover of night. Along the way, he encounters a lot of interesting things.

An art fox print from illustrator Jonathan Fenske

Red Fox with Fall Leaves, 12″x18″, available from Fat and Appy, $109

Jonathan Fenske fox art

Red Fox and the Farmhouse, 12″x18″, available from Fat and Appy, $109

Some of the adventures are a little scary, like the Black Car. But don’t worry, {SPOILER} our adventurous fox makes it home okay! I really, really love this book. Jonathan is currently shopping it around, so hopefully we’ll have great news to report soon.

We’ve released six designs for the Red Fox collection. Which is your favorite?

Psst: Don’t forget! It’s easy to save 10% at Fat and Appy when you sign up for our emails

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The Runner and the Stuffed Animals

This past weekend, we took a little trip up to Winter Park, CO to celebrate Jonathan’s birthday. We scored an awesome deal on a beautiful, modern condo in the heart of WP’s Village. It was the last weekend of summer activities in the resort, so there were things for the kids to do and the weather was gorgeous.

I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about Jonathan’s running, but it’s a serious hobby of his. And when we travel, he always finds a race to do. He calls this “fun.”

This past Sunday in Winter Park found us at nearby Granby Ranch for the Run the Ranches Series. Jonathan and the other racers competed in pouring rain and sloshing mud. He did the long race, which was 7.6 miles. He finished second, and we were really proud of him. But the best part (for me as a mama) came after the race.

Jonathan Fenske runs the Run the Ranches trail race

Jonathan nears the 7.6 mile finish, carefully picking his way down the steep hill (in the rain!)

Jonathan’s prize was a gift card to the Granby Ranch resort. Since we knew we wouldn’t pass that way again anytime soon, he decided to pick up a little something for himself to remember the race. We entered the gift shop with our three girls, ages 7, 4 and 1. And when we emerged, Jonathan had claimed his prize:

A picture of three Ty stuffed animals

Three super cuddly stuffed animals…thanks, Daddy!

Jonathan would groan if he knew I posted this, but he’s not here (so lah!). This is exactly the type of thing Jonathan Fenske does. He’s a gift giver. And there are three little girls who are clutching new stuffies, happy as clams.

And their daddy only had to run down mud-soaked trails at over 8,000 feet for 7.6 miles in the pouring rain, besting every runner, save one.

When the girls get older, I’ll show them this post and just say one thing: When you are ready to marry, make sure it’s a man as awesome as your father. That’s what I did! (Sending love my own Daddy, who reads this blog.)

Summer Blog Bloopers: The Cutting Room Floor

For Monday’s post, I thought it would be fun to throw a bunch of pictures on here from the summer. These are shots that just didn’t quite make the cut for the blog or just didn’t fit a particular topic I wrote about that week. Enjoy!

This shot is from our trip to Twin Lakes this summer to camp with three other families. It was fun and not-so-fun. Like, the kind of trip where Daddy says, “I will pack this tent up if you don’t stop fighting and we’ll go home RIGHT NOW.” It all evened out, however, with this jaunt to Twin Lakes on our last day. Too gorgeous for words. I love Colorado.

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For the first time ever, I grew my garden from seeds, using the wonderful stock from nearby Broomfield’s Botanical Interests. I started the broccoli too late, so it struggled to make it in the summer heat. We did get one glorious head, hurray. Here’s a bite:

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This little bit of graffiti was found by my eldest daughter at Wal-Mart in a cardboard display for s’mores fixin’s. I was delighted. Kaisy, somewhere, is blushing. What a lucky fella.

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This summer, we had the pleasure of visiting friends in Breckenridge. I snapped an action shot of our middle girl. She’s dancing, laughing and obviously enjoying something sweet.

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Another shot of Twin Lakes. The girls trashed their clothes within minutes…perfect! We had dry duds ready to go for the ride home.

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This shot didn’t make it into the blog about redoing a Craigslist Queen Anne-style table for our family room makeover. I think I thought our garage was too messy. That seems silly to me now. Who cares?

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We also traveled to Wisconsin over the summer to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary. The trip was delightful and chock-full of don’t-forget-this moments, like watching your baby toddle on the shore of Lake Michigan for the first time.

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And I never could work a blog around this photo, but it’s definitely one of the best of our summer. The backstory: our sweet baby got her very own booster seat after rejecting her highchair. (If you are a new parent, this might not make sense. But eventually, your little tot decides they have had enough of the highchair, thank you very much.) When we installed the seat, both of the baby’s older sisters insisted on dragging their chairs around to join her at her new spot at the end of the table. They did this for days. I think they really love each other, and if they do, I am thankful. So very thankful.

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And a Dog Comes Home

I posted the update below on my personal Facebook page yesterday. This is what we’re up to this week:

“There comes a time in a family when the children beg for a dog. They plead for a dog. They make posters about dogs. And the parents say “No way.” And then, the parents remember how dogs can be awesome. They recall beautiful dogs named Kuchen and Kemp who graced their lives. And then the parents, who really love their children but also recall that they, too, love dogs, say “Yes.” 

Introducing Phoenix Orion McGruff Mars Fenske. “Phoenix” is for the mythic bird that rose from the ashes because this dog is the spitting image of sweet, departed Kempie. “Orion” was his given name by his loving first mama. “McGruff” was Jonathan’s first name choice. And “Mars” was my first choice for a name after the painter Marsden Hartley. 

It’s good to fall in love again.”

Meet our new sweetie:

A picture of the Fenskes new Aussie

A picture of the Fenskes new Australian Shepherd

But maybe the best part is how Phoenix has just slipped into our family like he’s always been there. After about five days of watching him like a hawk (and never leaving him alone with the baby), I’ve relaxed and have started trusting him more. This dog has made the backyard almost magical. He’s watched the girls make “bird nests,” collected herbs with them and listened to endless fairytale stories told in deep green grass.

A picture of the Fenskes Australian Shepherd

It’s been fun to discover again how dogs see the world. He’s devoted to me, rarely leaving my side. (Phoenix is under my chair as I type.) He lives to play, run and walk which is really good for me because, too often, I put off a walk to do something “more productive.” I can’t do that anymore. He makes me hop up, slip on my shoes and hit the pavement. Sure, Phoenix has some naughty habits to undo (he thinks the kids are sheep, as is an Aussie’s nature) but it’s nothing we can’t handle. Even dear, departed Kemp was a rascal when we adopted him back in the day. Given enough attention and training, Phoenix will be just fine.

Jonathan Fenske Illustration: Chicken Legs

Jonathan is doing editorial/commercial illustrations for Mercury Payment Systems and New York Life this week. I’ll show some of that work later, but for now, here’s a quick illustration from Chicken Legs, an as yet unpublished children’s book Jonathan has written and illustrated. You can see more of Jonathan’s children’s book characters and books in this blog post.

Chicken Legs is about a young chicken who gets teased by his friend Pig and Goat because of his “chicken legs” His father lovingly steps in to help comfort his son by sketching some drawings…with some funny results.

Chicken Legs image, a children's book by Jonathan Fenske

We Love You, Colorado

Stay strong, my beautiful state.

May rivers decrease and banks of water recede.

Let emergency responders have safe passage, and may all in harm’s way be brought to shelter.

Asking for an extra helping of mercy for those bailing out, losing it all or trying to get back home.

We love you, Colorado. 

A photo of mountain goats near Mt. Bierstadt

On the trail to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt. Photo by Jonathan Fenske.

First On, Last Off

An image of a vintage Fisher Price school bus painted by Jonathan Fenske

First On, Last Off by Jonathan Fenske; acrylic on board, private collection

I was snuggled deep in covers this morning when our eldest girl joined me. It was barely light and rain drummed on the roof of our Colorado home. Rain is rare here, so I relished the quiet, the stillness, the sweet child beside me.

All of a sudden, a school bus lumbered past our house. It was barely 6:30 a.m. I said to my girl, “You know, that’s a school bus taking kids to school. Daddy sees it when he’s running.” We’re on the western edge of our school district, so some kids get picked up really early. And then they are bussed about ten miles east.

Immediately, I thought of a painting Jonathan did a while ago, which sold at the Matre Gallery in Atlanta. It’s called “First On, Last Off.” When Jonathan was a child, his bus driver lived in his neighborhood. He would walk down to her house and climb on the bus. Then, they picked up all of the other students. Since it was a private school, the students were all over the place. Of course, the ride was repeated on the way home and he was last off.

It’s neat how in art your childhood can surface pretty much anywhere. I wanted to share this one in honor of the new school year. Happy new lunch boxes and backpacks!

Confidential to RK in NYC: I hope you are loving Kindergarten! Hugs and kisses, your Godmother and Godfather