Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011 Part 1: Getting Ready

Happy post-Christmas glow basking, friends and family! I have fallen so far behind on this blogging business (... a problem I intend to remedy with my New Year's Resolutions, at least for the month that I keep my New Year's Resolutions. Perhaps they should be called January Resolutions? I digress.) that I am breaking up Christmas doings into several posts or I shall be sitting at this computer all morning basking in ITS glow rather than showering, enjoying my lovely family, and putting some food in my cupboards. So let's back up....

The week before Christmas brought Mike's sister up from Florida to stay for a few days and kept my kids in school until the 23rd, a blessing and a curse one in the same. That Friday they got to wear pajamas to school and have parties in the afternoons and, well, God bless their teachers. Before that Friday, there were busy evenings of looking at Christmas lights and baking cookies with Daddy... always a favorite.

Look, he's smiling!!!

Waiting patiently or getting sleepy?

No, she is not a thug, nor is my house THAT cold. She's from the south, remember?

Gigi, did not join in eating the cookies... this time... although she has recently been cookie snatching in her spare time. See how she's eyeballing me? Perhaps wondering when we will leave the plate of treats alone on the table already?

After all that patience, the decorating DID get a little out of hand.

And COMPLETELY wore our guest out. (To be fair, she had only had a few hours of sleep the night before...)

And, after the cooking, there was Mama sewing. But that's another post altogether.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Just before Thanksgiving a good friend asked me to take pictures of her family for their Christmas card. Moi? Truly, I was flattered. And sort of nervous. I DO love to take pictures. SOMETIMES I think I have an eye for a good shot. Other times I am just reminded of how very little I really do KNOW about the subject. I want my pictures to look like this. I want to have cool editing software like this. My photo reality is somewhat less spectacular. Still I enjoyed the process and think it's the kind of thing I'd like to figure out how to do more of. I learned that I

1. find it pretty easy to take pictures of kids, but not as easy as inanimate objects. ;-)
2. find I am not good at giving directions to my subjects. Something I maybe should have thought more about before tackling a photo session with 4 people and 3 dogs. I am used to being the "just pretend I'm not here" photographer, not the "okay, everybody look at me" girl. Probably a "photo session" should have a nice AND COMFORTABLE balance of both.
3. should just take MORE pictures, instead of waiting sometimes. It's digital. What's my problem?
4. still feel happy even if only a handful turned out in a way that makes ME feel good, but wouldn't feel the same way if I were charging a photographer's fee.
5. Can't wait to get their Christmas card.

So, no photog business plans any time soon, but I'm happy to practice on my family and friends...

Sunday, November 27, 2011


... my secret life as a spy has caught up with me and I've gone off grid.

Kidding. But I think my real life has caught up with me anyway, it's just less exciting. We DID have some excitement around here though. Pip had a birthday!! One started collection of Star Wars action figures

and Bey Blade battles (Who knew this toy would bring so many hours of enjoyment? Not me. I figured two tops from the dollar store and a mixing bowl would last about as long and cost a lot less, but they really surprised me. HOURS of all three of them "letting it rip!" )

some art

and building messes

and three cakes later

you're seven!

Truthfully, it did not all go that smoothly. Somehow my boy that has trouble going to sleep when he is excited, also had trouble sleeping past 5:30 for a few days in a row. Behavior at Nana and Papa's was less than, ahem, ideal for Thanksgiving and birthday. All three have been requiring A LOT of my energy lately just to keep them from killing each other and to get them to do ANYTHING around here. Trying to "figure it out" is also taking a lot of my focus in addition to just the usual trio of dishes, laundry and picking up. I am missing being creative: writing, photo taking, sewing, knitting. I am missing my little community in this space. I am missing carving out time and space for myself, but I can't seem to make it all work so right now that is what is sliding. Hoping that maybe I can get my craft on a little for Christmas though, so stay tuned.

Just don't hold your breath.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Force is Strong With These Ones

Oh, I'm sorry. Was Halloween LAST week at your house?

I blame it on the Jedi mind tricks.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jekyll or Hyde?

My children case me to feel like I have a split personality almost on a daily basis. How do they manage to inspire feelings of both exasperated stress and amazed pride at the same time??

Especially my middle. Stubborn as a mule. Mouthy as a blue jay when he's mad. But funny as a.... hmmm.... platypus?

It's red ribbon week at school. They are all saying no to drugs and giving the world CPR (Children Practicing Respect) in classrooms and assemblies. They are wearing red, backward clothes ("Turn Your Back on Drugs"), and TODAY was wear a goofy hat to school for "Put a Cap on Drug Use." (Never mind that I can't say it without it wanting to come out as "pop a cap in drug use, Dawg!")

Of course, we are last minute around here. It's how we roll. If we're not late, we are down to the wire with most things. So this morning Calvin sorted through whatever crazy dress up kind of hats we had. He tried everything on, sometimes piling several on top of each other to get a laugh out of all of us and settled on a knit cap that said Merry Christmas. He's a funny kid with a growing sense of ironic humor that I adore.

Tate (not really understanding irony at all), slept in and decided to start making a paper propeller hat almost immediately upon coming downstairs. Could he have possibly MENTIONED to me that he wanted to do this a tad earlier than oh, say, 45 minutes before the bus on the day OF? And, of course, he is yelling at me about every suggestion I make to alter his plans because of the time factor. Could we tape the propeller to a bucket hat? Do you even have an ACTUAL plan as to how the pieces of decorated paper will become a hat? Do you know that this will probably get torn at school and that you're going to have to be SO careful not to wreck it? What a Debbie Downer I am. Practical Polly? No-Nonsense Nelly? Professor Poopypants? This is sort of fun... sorry, where was I? Point is, I was pointing out all the reasons this wasn't going to work and why it was inconvenient for me (in the middle of a wreck of a kitchen, milk spilling out of bowls on the table, 4 boys and crazy girl crammed around into my little living room and kitchen). WHY didn't you tell me sooner that you wanted to do this? You realize you haven't really eaten and you don't have shoes on? On and on. But my Pip is, as mentioned, stubborn as a mule. The more I tried to talk him out of it, the more he dug in his heels. Angry with me for every reason I gave and more and more determined to have JUST what he imagined in his head. (A slight digression: I cannot, for the LIFE of me imagine where on earth...ahem.. he could POSSIBLY get this crazy determination to make things with no instructions and sketchy plans and expect them to turn out exactly as envisioned. (please insert exasperated, slightly embarrassed eye roll here.)

So here is where I get to the amazed and proud part. What he lacks in planning and time management skills (I don't know anyone with that problem either; I don't have a house of dirty dishes and laundry while I sit here typing away at the computer on an unnecessary (but personally fulfilling) task.... Am I convincing ANYONE here?), he makes up for in awesome creativity and an incredible lack of caring what anyone else thinks. So did I help him in the end because we (sort of ) DID have time and because I love him dearly and because **I** know how to make a sloppy paper beanie in 5 minutes with scissors and tape and staples?

Of course I did.

Anyway, I dare any of you to resist this cute little kid.

No really, I dare you. He can actually be quite frightening when he's mad. And adorable. Guess I'm not the only one around here with a split personality.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The (Pinball Brain) Mentalist

Let me tell you that, in my mind, I have been ROCKING the blog world lately. My posts are witty and insightful, my projects are inspiring, my photos? Breathtaking.

Mentally, I have written a post about how we are completely off base as a society with our overuse of rude terms like: idiot, moron, dummy and loser. Why did we stop using "fool." Mr. T had it right man. And while foolishness may sometimes be a derivative of stupidity, it truly needs it's own label as it can exist quite independently from a lack of intelligence. Unfortunately, the computer didn't get my telepathy and there was no time when I got in from raking the lawn.

And speaking of computer assistance, I also had some good material on the new iphone's little Siri and my excitement over her inner-nerd. Do you know that one of her responses to "what is the meaning of life?" is "42."??? Seriously, if you "get" that we need to get together to discuss the deeper meanings of Star Wars and if this new wave of superhero films are truly doing the genre justice.

And, speaking of Star Wars, my boys went all classic up in this joint for Halloween this year. Darth vs. Luke. And, while I am quite certain Tate was mostly interested in Luke for the promised light saber to go with his (highly overpriced) costume, I must admit my excitement for the photo ops. (Yeah, I still take pictures. Occasionally.) If only I could have sold Ellerie on Princess Leia. I was certain "princess" would win her over, but the lack of pink glitter and a crown sort of did the deal in. If I could have roped her, I would TOTALLY have made A & A dress Milo up as Yoda and take him trick or treating with us in spite of his lack of candy teeth and inability to say "trick or treat!"

And, speaking of Halloween, Ms. E would ONLY be a unicorn. She had a vision and she was not about to compromise. Nothing I found pleased her, so we fell back to Mama-made, even though I was uncertain how to proceed. In the end, we went along one feature at a time with some remnant-bin-fabrics and I convinced her she was SILVER, since what she wanted was to be white. I'm rather pleased, actually. Maybe I could make a business out of converting hoodies into costumes??

And, speaking of starting a sewing business..... I really, really want to. I have the vision, but I waiver on the confidence and then bury myself under the reality of how to fit it into my life. Maybe next year? Seems like there are SO many things asking for my time and at least three of those things are VERY DIFFICULT to ignore ;-) The question also remains as to how long one can, in good conscience, go on avoiding things like dishes, dirty floors and showers, dog toenails and personal hygiene in order to pursue a dream that may or may not prove to be anywhere near financially fruitful in spite of being fun as kites.

And, speaking of ignoring children and things that need to be done, I guess I've done enough of that for one day. Off to tackle laundry and write a mental post about why white children's clothing should be illegal and how the knees of all boys' pants should be reinforced with, say, kevlar.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not To Be Corny, But....

We saw a whole lot of this yesterday.

No, really.

While Grandpa was gone camping, Grandma came and treated us to our first corn maze. It was super hot for October, every row looked the same as the last, and we never really ate lunch. It was still fun!

I couldn't help thinking it was the perfect setting for a murder mystery. We were in there for SO long and still didn't finish the whole thing. We got hot and thirsty and soon the kids were looking for the way out. Still missing half of our clues and dinosaur rubbings, we took a shortcut under the bridge to find some refreshment.

Cal and Grandma were the best at dino fact finding, but it was just too much for little legs. We finished up on Google when we got home.

After drinks we took a second shot at the mini-maze, where Cal managed to collect all five colors and Mama managed to still feel lost.

Ah, the cow train and a chance to sit down. Plus how can one resist a ride with your name on it?

Tate and Calvin rode the train at least five times and there was a little competitive tricycling

and duck races too.

So good to start the week outdoors and sun-soaked and hanging out with my family.

Maybe a little corny, but true.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Murphy's Law or Something Like It

To keep me humble, God has followed my "my hair looks awesome post" with 4 days of extreme humidity and gloomy rain deluges. Instead of sleek and chic, I am back to "my hair just does it's own thing" only I can't be rescued with an elastic band. The dreariness also explains the following photos, not taken at night. I've been putting together a birthday present for a friend of Tate's down the street. He is awesomely into super heros and I found the perfect fabric at my favorite place, the thrift store, put it with some in-my-stash denim and some cool art supplies and voila!

tote bag

filled with dry erase board and crayons, blank comic books (also found a cool version here)

and a colored pencil roll

Apparently, heading back toward a state of chaos is the norm for all things around here, not just my hair. After just one sewing project, my sewing room looks like a junk room again. Seriously, me and my (only sometimes) creative messes. I have been trying to remedy my natural tendency for disarray, by arranging an "office" space in my living room. So far, so good. Bulletin board for school lunch menu and the kids' schedules. Hanging clip boards for each of our important papers, forms to sign, spelling words of the week, etc. And two flat surfaces for me to inevitably clutter up to the point of what I am starting to think is our "natural state."