Monday, January 30, 2012

Favorite Photo of January

It certainly is hard to choose one favorite photo of January - I took kept 566 pictures from this month and officially I still have one day left, so odds are pretty good that number isn't static.     However, on the 13th of January, God gave us the most beautiful sunset!   This is SOOC, no editing or enhancing.   I love all the textures the sky had that day! 

Click It Up A Notch

Stop by Click it Up a Notch to see other favorite shots of January!

Oh So Silly!

Ace has been very good with me in allowing me to try out new and different settings, angles, and lighting with my photography.  He's often a willing participant and is good to tell me "I'm all done taking pictures, mom."  when he really is ALL done.    How he keeps himself entertained while I'm busy capturing varies, but one of his favorite is to make faces... this one I've only see him make once, but the moment I snapped it I burst out laughing.  It's certainly not pretty, but it is oh so silly!

50mm, 1/90s, ISO 400, f/2.0

Photo Challenge Submission

To see more 'Oh So Silly' enteries stop by iheartfaces.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shutterbug Resolved....

I read some where that 45% of New Year Resolutions fail by the end of January... so this year I decided to give myself some momentum into the new year. Recover from the holidays, get myself into a new pace of regular life before then heaping a new challenge onto my plate.  I think if more people did this - perhaps those grandiose endeavours, ideas, and goals might have a better success rate. Start in February!  After all the year is still pretty darn new and we're only really getting out of the holiday haze anyway.   I digress...

I've been thinking about what I want to focus and challenge myself on this year - I wanted to do something that wasn't just focused solely on me, but something that my family could also be involved with - yet still focused and presented me with the challenge.    It didn't seem too difficult to decide what that challenge, goal, endeavor would be for me: photography.   Last year I acquired some of my main tools of the trade in order to become a 'contender' in the art of photography.    I've always had the passion for a great shot, last year I got the tools for a beautiful crisp shot, and now this year I want to enhance my knowledge (and implementation) to achieve those shots.   This is my goal, my passion, my resolution for 2012.

I've always been a shutterbug.  I recall my first camera - it was a sleek long skinny blue rectangle that held the small film cases, I had the 5 bulb pop flashes that affixed to the top... ha! I even found one for sale on eBay when I went looking just now.  In high school I would expend excessive amounts of film goofing off with friends. I remember the anticipation of being able to rush to the store to see what had developed.   I used film all through college, it was only half way through college that I got my first digital camera.    How did I ever live so long without it?  My world of megapixels has only grown since then - my cameras went from big, to smaller and smaller, back to relatively big.  :)  Last year I embarked further into more equipment beyond just the point and shoot into the SLR world and further into the world of development and enhancement on the computer with PSE and Lightroom.     I am excited to challenge myself to learn more, take more photos (I can hear my husband groaning now!) and really try to capture life in the best light possible - and with sharp focus to boot! ;-)

So this year you'll see a lot more photography themed posts, more photo challenges participated in, and perhaps even though we're 4 weeks into this year, I might just catch up and participate in a Project 52 series.   We shall see.  But for 2012 I hereby resolve to sharpen my shutterbug skills.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ace's Latest Antics

It's been a bit of time since I've blogged about what Ace is doing and saying.  It's been quite an adventure let me tell you!   The threes truly are his time to shine and challenge and while we are loving this new chapter in Ace's life - it certainly has presented the biggest challenges as well.   

Things that Ace currently loves:  PUZZLES!  And he's good at them too!!   We have a few floor puzzles and they are 48 piece puzzles that he will do entirely on his own. He prefers help and company, but he's capable and we're so proud.   I also have a few smaller table-top puzzles that are roughly 25-30 pieces and he loves to just do it over and over and over - so one day his father presented him with a different challenge - do it upside down and he did...and does.  :)

He loves to wave goodbye when his dad leaves for work, and is very disappointed when he is unable to. He wants to call his dad to say hi "all day long" and recently asked for a real cell phone for Christmas next year, so that he could call people and talk to them.  

I find Ace to be a lovingly typical boy who loves guns, sticks, fighting monsters, and shooting and sword fighting!   Lots of great things flow from his imagination.  Ace enjoys wearing his Halloween costume regularly and protecting his identity!!  He also loves to be silly!  He makes the greatest faces!

He still is sticking with the future job of 'nothing' - he just wants to be an adult when he grows up.  We try to impart on him the fact he'll need to make money to support his wife and kids - but he doesn't seem terribly interested in that right now.   Which is fine - although I'd love for him to want to explore his options!  So far his job list has included:  nothing,  paleontologist (for a brief aspiring few weeks this past summer) and we are currently back to 'nothing'.     Well ok then...
Ace has started to eat a lot more these days, but still during meal times often takes fooooreeeevver or requires a lot of reminding, prodding, timers... etc to get him to eat the food.  He's currently on this kick of wanting to graze all day long - and wanting 'snacks' rather than actual meals at meal times.   It's a work in progress, but gone are the days I worry too much about calorie intake with him.

Humor has really started to sink in around here with him.   He occasionally will tell jokes and his biggest kick right now is to say "Hi Bob" and you are required (and if you don't - corrected) to respond "Hi Larry"  -  Yes Veggie Tales are a big hit in our house currently.  :)   He'll also switch it up and say "Hi Larry"  prompting you to say "Hi Bob"  and he'll go back and forth and try to trip you up.   It's amusing 75% of the time.     In a similar twist all in his own making he's taken on an alternative "bag" and "baggage claim"  - I have no idea where he got it or why - but the game typically involves saying "Hi bag" and/or "Hi baggage claim"  most of the time he's baggage claim and he has the bag (even though I am the bag?? I don't know...)  but then he asks me to ask for something in his bag.   He's had (imaginary) tuna, pickles, diapers, towels, my kindle... all sorts of things have come out of these "bags" that he has.  Often we play this game while driving in the car.   It's silly and time consuming but it really makes him excited - so we play.
Ace has also really started to memorize a lot of things - I've been practicing with him Bible verses - but the other morning he came in and surprised us with his knowledge and memorization of a flip book about Moses.   Now when he 'read' it to us he had it 100% correct.  When I had him do it again for the camera there were a few flubs - but still CRAZY impressive!   The Moses book is not one that we typically read a lot, recently certainly, but it's not like Cuddle was every night for months on end.  We are still a ways off from officially reading, but he's doing great memorizing things!

He loves his sister - but she is starting to wear on his patience some.  There is a lot of gritted teeth "NO SISTER!!!"   He still tries his best, but she is a little sister and really wants to be anywhere and everywhere that her brother is and because of this she is a follower, a snatcher, and a loving pest.  :)  We're trying our best to help Ace find better ways to help redirect the negative and embrace the positive and their loving moments still far outweigh their fighting ones. 

I made them a car to sit in to watch a movie

Sleep? He's sleeping through the night - bed time is frustrating - it involves a lot of stalling, bathroom breaks, water requests, etc... on the litmus test of toddlers - he's right on track.  :-/   We're hopeful that bedtime can be less stalling and more sleeping in the near future.   However, we are really not complaining on his sleep once he IS asleep!   We began potty training the Monday after he turned three and for some time now - he has been fully day time potty trained.    We haven't had an accident in the day in about a month.   At night he also is getting up and going potty in the middle of the night if he needs to and as a result of that we will cease the use of pull ups at night when we are at home.   If we are traveling or staying the night else where for a few more months we'll still use the pull up.  He's a bit nervous about that, but I'm amping him up to be excited about it.  :)

Overall, Ace is doing great - he's a month away from his half birthday - 3.5 when on earth did that happen?   I just can't believe it.  He's loving school,  goes to Sunday School without fuss (although still met with an initial anxiety and protest in the car on the way there)  and he's just overall a great kid!   Can't wait to see what the near future holds for him!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One Last Swing...

Snoozing away, 5 months old
If you recall when Mae turned 11 months old - I was having a mini-meltdown regarding her swing and the fact that she had grown out of it.  Today I sold the swing and I won't lie - I'm a bit overly saddened by the finality of it.   It's silly really - but honestly the swing really is for me the close of Mae being a baby.   She really is headed full steam ahead into toddler!  

She LOVED that swing.  For the first 8+ months of her life aside from when we were in the hospital, out of town or moving I can say I am fairly certain that she was in it every day - multiple times a day.  When she was really little it rarely was on - the part she loved then was the mobile and the mirror.  She would stare at it for so long and only fuss when the timer was up on her birds spinning around. 

10 weeks old

11 weeks old - the day she came home from Children's
That swing gave mommy some sanity, two free hands!   She slept so well in it and until she really got to crawling she loved to just be in it even after she'd awake from a nap, be content to play with a toy and observe and giggle at her brother as he played or did something amusing.   Most of the time it didn't even have to be on!

27 days old

A comfort when we moved to a new home in Mississippi - 15 weeks old

16 weeks old

5 months old

She really looks like me when I was a baby in this picture - 5 months old

7 months old

7 months old with her brother

She always looked so cozy when she slept from the first day we brought her home, until the very last time she slept in her swing only a few days before she turned 1.   She certainly has grown and changed in this last year and though the swing is gone - it provided a nice cradle of memories and comfort in our little girl's first year. 

2 days old
25 days old

6 weeks old

6 months old

9 months old

Her final sleep in the swing 4 days before her first birthday...
I think she knew her mama needed her in the swing one more time, because on one average afternoon where normally (and consistently for the previous two months) she would have instantly awoken if I had dared attempted to put her in the swing after she was asleep - I gently placed her in the swing and she snuggled in. I gave it a little push and watched my baby sleep in her swing for the last time.  She's growing up - and one day she'll roll her eyes and my overly ridiculous sentiment for a standard piece of baby equipment.  :) 

On a lighter note - I would like to point out in the final picture her feet look HUGE,
but she wears a tiny size 4 shoe with plenty of room, funny camera angle I guess!  :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rainbow Chard

Until Saturday I had never heard of 'rainbow chard' - sounds harsh and bizarre.   In fact it is a green leafy vegetable that arrived in our organic vegetable box.   They really are quite pretty, but what on earth do I do with them?  I mean they're a leafy green so there are some pretty basic things that can be done, but will they be good?   So to the internet I went and I found a recipe to give me some guidance.  I came across Lemon Garlic Rainbow Chard and that was my inspiration.    

I had one bunch of rainbow chard and decided to modify the recipe to what I wanted and what best fit my family.   I skipped adding the stems and red pepper flakes.  Instead I started with some olive oil, 3 cloves of sliced garlic and ground pepper and sauted up the garlic over a medium heat.      I rarely measure anything when I am cooking things like this - so go with what 'feels right' to you to saute garlic and pepper to taste. :)

After that was sufficiently sauteed I tossed in the chopped up greens and covered the lid for 5 minutes.   Leaving the medium heat on - in retrospect - I would decrease the temperature just slightly next time, the bottom greens did get a tiny charred (which honestly did add another flavor to it, but they could have quickly gone south just the same.)   

I then dumped all the contents into a bowl and drizzled lemon juice over the greens... again no measuring - it wasn't drenched, it wasn't mere drops - but it was just enough.    They were delicious!   Now are they terribly different than other leafy greens?  Depends - I'd say yes, different than spinach in that the rainbow chard are more bitter, more like kale... maybe?  Overall - I certainly will enjoy them again!  Time wise this is a quick dish to make - total chop, saute, steam, drizzle and serve time was under 20 minutes.  :)

Loving Husband and I give the dish two thumbs up. Ace wanted to spit it out, but managed to choke it down without too much drama.  Mae was spared the taste test.   One bunch is certainly enough for two people, but if you're making it a family size side dish, I'd recommend 2 or 3 bunches to really make it a true side to a meal.   Happy cooking!

The Planet Box

It's been a while since I've posted about Ace's schooling with mom - honestly because it's been a while since we've done much of it.    We moved back to the NW, then sickness and holidays arrived, and preschool began - so we're just now getting back into the swing of things with our new routine.  

I have been putting together some continent boxes for Ace to begin to understand and learn about geography and then different areas of the world.  I am working to have a relatively extensive box for each continent that talks about: plants, animals, foods, and landmarks that are indigenous to those continents.   Various things to expose him to the cultural eccentricities of the various places of the world.   It's rather ambitious endeavor - one that is currently a significant work in progress.   However, in order to understand all that - he needs to get the big picture first and thus we have "The Planet Box"

I began with one of my favorite resources ETC Press and downloaded their free nomenclature cards for: Continents, Oceans, and Cloud types.   They can all be found here.   I dabbled in sewing a container for them, others I simply used a pencil pouch to hold them in.     I then acquired a few books from the Rookie Read About Geography Series (which I love!)  They are really simple, but informative and great for my 3.5 year old to help him understand just enough information for now.   I got The Seven Continents and The Four Oceans.   The third book actually was acquired from Chic Fil A.   Also in the planet box is his passport - which I got at a school supply store - it basically is just blank pages awaiting stamps.  I ordered a 7 continent set of rubber stamps similar to this, I got mine off eBay.   Each of his continent boxes will contain the corresponding stamp - and we'll always have the 'Planet Box' with us when we study each continent so his passport can get stamped each time we study.  :)   Toss in a $1 blow up globe (a favorite) and the final item to complete the Planet Box is the VTech Spin and Learn Adventure Globe which I got for a steal of a deal around Christmas time.  :)

Ace is always excited to do school and to learn things - he is really excited to learn more about Australia.  That seems to be the one he is most fixated on - I'm not entirely sure why.   Mostly what he's learning is that there are seven continents and a simple fact about each one.  He knows we live on North America and thanks to his loyal fans who have sent him post cards from literally around the world, he is able to explore where those postcards have come from as well.   The VTech globe is great for telling him about music from other cultures, where places are, and even sports that are often played in those places and if nothing else - he loves to push all the various buttons!

We use the nomeclature cards for matching, putting them in size order, and various other things to help instill the facts about the continents.  I am looking forward to introducing him to the North America box soon (figured it was best to start with the one he lives on!) after that it sounds like we'll dive right into Australia - as it's the favored one.  :)   

I love putting together new fun and exciting 'school' type things for Ace.   He really enjoys to play and learn - and says that doing school with me is one of his favorite things - which really makes me smile because it's one of my favorite too!

Linking up to: Imagination Tree,  Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

It began on Saturday at Mae's party and more or less has just kept on coming.   Any time now it is 'supposed to stop' and turn to freezing rain, followed by the regular kind of rain and wash away our winter wonderland, but in the meantime,  we are enjoying it!

First thing Sunday morning we stripped down to our underwear for our traditional deck dive, which once again Grammie was present to enjoy our antics.  Ace was so excited to participate - in fact the second it started snowing on Saturday he wanted to go out and deck dive!  Pop Pop would be so proud!

After that festive wake up we went out to breakfast and then came home and after naptime went out to play, this time all bundled up and had a great time!  Mae enjoyed it a little bit, but mostly was a spectator.  She had 'boots' fashioned out of ziplock bags.   Ace and his dad had a great time having snowball fights with the other kids.   Later Loving Husband and Ace built a staircase/snowman.  It was a good time had by all.

While brother napped, Mae went onto the porch to explore a little

Grammie and Loving Husband had a short snowball fight...

Note Mae's 'boots' :) They worked really well!

Monday rolled around and the related males in this family took to upping the anti on the traditional deck dive.   It began with Loving Husband deciding to roll across the snowy backyard and film it - the 53 second video ended with "Your move old man"

Later that day we were provided with an email and a link to a 2 minute and 53 second video to the tune of 'Eye of the Tiger' that opened with "Flawless Victory.  Age and Treachery, my Dear Boy, Age and Treachery."    Enjoy these screen shots, what isn't show is Pop Pop doing the backstroke in the snow across the yard, Gran wheeling a wheelbarrow across the yard full of snow and dumping it on him and a refusal to get into the hot tub.  

Of course something MUST be done to out do this... and so much thought and pondering and choreographing was set into motion.... below are a few screenshots of that madness (yes that is my husband pouring ice cold water on himself and yes that is me turning the hose on him, hehe)... although if you really want to see the whole thing - venture here.   The kids waited patiently nearby and Ace waited for his cue to go for his part in the excitement.     At the moment there has not been a response.... but I have no doubt one is coming. 

So we've stayed busy this week with the snow.  Thankfully we have a vehicle that allows us to get around the area and not be totally snowed in.  I personally am not driving it - because I don't trust the greater populous to handle the roads.     The kids enjoy going out and running around in the near FOOT of snow that we now have on the ground and in theory it is all going to start washing away in the next day or so when the rains come.  We shall see - in the meantime - we're enjoying it, knowing it won't last forever!