Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Staying Connected

Recently, I posted about the disconnect I have been experiencing with Pen as of late. But, it has been really nice that she now has a later bedtime than the other kids. First off, I think it makes her feel more like we are treating her like the "mature" kid that she thinks she is. Secondly, it is allowing me some one-on-one time with her so I can try and reestablish and strengthen the fraying connection we share.

Rophone and I use the extra time with Pen to play Scrabble or to talk. Often, Pen and I end up going outside to take photos, or she helps me choose my Challenge photo for the day. There are still plenty of issues and times when it is clear that Pen has a different idea of what her role is than we do, but there are now bigger gaps between the times Fine! emerges.

It is giving me hope for the future.

Here are a few of the photos we took while hanging out together last night:

In some of these shots, you can see that Pen truly is maturing and getting older. But in others, like this last one, you can still see the child that she is. It is as though I am photographing two different Pens.

I love them both.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strange Looks

People are giving me funny looks.

I have always garnered a few looks here and there, but this time it's different.

A few months ago I posted about a photography challenge I took on-- the 365 Day Ashlland Challenge. The idea behind the challenge is to help participants learn more about photography, boost their creativity, and to help them notice beauty in the world around them-- the things that they wouldn't normally take notice of while going about their every day lives.

It's this last part that I have really taken to heart. And this is the part that is causing me to get the funny looks.

No one looks at me funnily when I take pictures of things like this:

Or shots of my kids like these:

Those types of pictures are expected and are, well.... normal.

It's when I start taking pictures like this one that the eyebrows start going up (Why is she taking a picture of her son through that pipe?! It would be a much cuter shot without the pipe in the way!):

And, I mean, who takes pictures of the grill of a dump truck, anyway?

Or of the glowing signage from inside a restaurant window?

A weirdo like me, I guess.

What kind of crazy takes a picture of the brush on a sweeper truck?

The illuminated arms of the aisle seats in an auditorium?

Or, seriously, the drinking fountains mounted in the hallway-- and thinks the photo is cool?!

Well, that would be me. Now you know. It's official.

The Laundry Queen is a complete nutjob. She has gushed her mush, lost her marbles, has knots in her noodle... you get it.

My family, who already knows all of this about me, didn't bat an eye when I took this shot:

I quite like it. I think I'm going to get it matted and framed one of these days. I think it will look smashing in my kitchen! I'm crazy about it, in fact. But, that's just the way I roll. Crazy.

It has been quite fun walking around, with my camera an almost constant fixture around my neck, taking all of these shots. Most people just peek at what I'm doing from behind curtains or blinds or continue to walk on by as I go about my craziness, craning their necks just a bit in curiosity-- I can see it in their eyes, "Why in the heck is that lady taking pictures of the drinking fountains?!"

Some, the more brave, approach me and ask what I'm doing. They generally seem satisfied with my answer, though maybe a bit disappointed that I'm not taking pictures for something more grand, like a coffee table book or something. Most still seem confused at my choice of subject matter, however.

I just look at it this way-- flowers are pretty, my kids (in my opinion) are gorgeous, trees are nice to look at... This beauty is not hard for me to see. I want to find beauty in what are the other parts of my life. The unexpected parts. Or, at least take pictures of the expected in unexpected ways.

It is amazing what this challenge has done for me. Did I ever think I would take pictures of the things I am shooting photos of? Not in a million years. Am I happy that I now see a photo opportunity in just about everything I pass by? Absolutely. The world has been opened up to me in ways I never imagined.

Yeah, I'm probably a bit off my rocker. But, you know, I look at the results and I think I'm okay with that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bud-ding Artist

Bud really enjoys being creative and doing artistic endeavors. When I broke out a new box of 96 crayons today that contained both metallic and gel crayons... well, he couldn't resist the creative urge that befell him. To my delight, he spent a good part of the day drawing.

I was loving what he was doing and was impressed with all of the drawings he showed me. And then he showed me this one:

Our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: "What a great picture, Bud!"

Bud: "Thanks, Mom"

Me: "Erm.... so.... what's the green thing between his legs?"

Bud: (with a huge smile) "That's his chin!"

Me: (with relief) "Of course it's his chin! Now that is a fabulous chin!"

Bud just beamed and went back to producing pictures. As the day went on, his pictures developed and changed. He added arms and ears, then eyebrows and I saw lots of different colored chins. After watching his sister, Pen, Bud added hair.

First girl hair...

... then boy hair.

Here's a really fancy girl with eyebrows and ears (or are those earrings?):

Later in the afternoon, Bud even played with playdoh, creating this incredibly cool elephant:

It was a great day full of art and fun. I can't wait to see what else Bud produces!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Best Post

I had to get up in the middle of the night a few times last night-- Big lost his binky a few times and Bud had a nightmare. One of the times I was awake, I had an awesome idea for a blog post. I mean, it was going to be fantastically funny and entertaining! Seriously! The best post ever!!! I quickly crafted a plan in my head on how to write the post, but decided I'd better not dwell on it for too long or I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep.

So, I put it out of my mind and relaxed back into slumber. The problem is.... well.... it's still out of my mind. Nowhere to be found. Gone. As a result, you get stuck with this post instead. Sorry. I'll try to make it up to you later. If I can remember that I promised I would, that is.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It Will Make Them Grow

As I was hanging out with my boys tonight (the girls were holed up in their room doing secret "girl things"), Bud began watering things with his pretend watering can. At one point, he watered my boobs, saying, "I'm watering your boobs. It will make them grow." You should have seen the tremendous thumbs up this garnered from Rophone.

Men! (sheesh!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Living with Fine!

When I started this blog, I announced that Pen would at times be referred to as Fine! when her pre-teen attitude was raging. That was back when her pre-teen moments were rather few and far between (relative to now). Pen has been playing the part of Fine! so well and virtually constantly the past few months-- well, I've really forgotten who Pen is. The problem is, that I'm not sure Pen knows who she is either.

Who is this? Pen? Or Fine!?

Sometimes, the Pen I know (and understand) peeks out at me...

But more often than not I am confused, and I think so is she.

I can see where the disconnect lies-- she thinks she is old enough to be able to wear 4 inch heels and makeup and speak to everyone with disdain and impatience, I think 2 inch heels are a fabulous choice and her beautiful face doesn't need any makeup (at least not until she's 12) and (call me silly) I think speaking to others with love and patience is something to at least strive for.

I worry that Pen is gone forever (or at least for the next 8 to 10 years). I don't expect her to be the Pen of old, but I hope we're able to find the new Pen underneath all of the Fine! that overshadows her. That's my goal. I don't want the disconnect to become any worse, that's for sure. I hope we can rediscover Pen. Together.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Dueling Baptists

We have two baptist churches down the street from our house and for months now I have been meaning to showcase their creative signs in a series entitled, "The Dueling Baptists". I tell you, I am impressed at the way those baptists can uplift with both deep thoughts and humor! The signs have said such things as, "Walmart isn't the only saving place". See? Great!

I apologize for all of the grand signs I have missed sharing with you! And now, when I finally get around to implementing my plan, one of the baptist churches isn't participating the way they ought! For weeks now they have only had times posted for a fantastic shindig they were holding (believe me, I know it was fantastic-- I heard the '80's music they were playing!). Anyway, I was just about to give up hope, when I noticed that the community church down the street had joined the fray!

So, I hereby give you the first installment of the Dueling Baptists (sorry to the not baptist community church-- but I like the name!):

In the pink corner...(brace yourself for this one)....

..and competing in the maroon corner...

Seriously, I love these! Every time we drive by these churches, I crane my neck in anticipation to see what their signs say-- smiling gleefully at each new thought I see, dropping my chin to my chest in disappointment when there is nothing new. I'm really kind of bummed that my church doesn't have a sign. Thank goodness for religious diversity!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Big Reasoning

Big has reached the age (and the verbal skill) where he is attempting to reason with me. Verbal battles with a 2 year old. Wahoo. He clearly thinks he is right most of the time, but if he realizes he was in the wrong he plays dumb. The oh-I-didn't-realize-that-was-the-rule card. Let me just give you a few examples from my day today...

While the boys were eating lunch, I attempted to talk to Rophone on the phone for a few minutes. As I was doing so, Big dumped some of his lime-aid on the table and began to slap it with his hands while yelling, "Bam! BAM!", sending a lime-aid spray everywhere. Here's how our conversation went:

Me: "Big, Big! We don't spill our drink and then slap it!"

Big: "But I said 'BAM!', Mom"

Me: "Yeah, you said 'BAM!', but it doesn't matter! You still don't do it!"

Big: (obviously still not getting the point) "But I said 'BAM!'"

What is it with boys thinking that sound effects make everything great?!?.... Not great!!

I wiped up the mess on the table and on Big, and as I turned to rinse out the rag at the sink, Big grabbed a crayon and wrote on the table.

Me: "BIG! What are you doing?! You don't write on the table!"

Big: "But don't you see that I wrote a 'T'?"

Me: "Sure. Nice 'T', Big. But you don't write on the table!!"

Big: "But I wrote a 'T'"

Me: "Only on paper, Big. Only on paper." (Like I haven't said that before.)

I finally resorted to taking Big outside to play basketball. They're tearing up our street to replace pipe, so there was a lot to watch in between shots. It kept him pretty well occupied, thank goodness!

After a few hours outside, I figured we'd be okay to go back in and was praying for a minimum of mischievousness on Big's part. But, after dinner, Ginger came in to announce that Big had used colored pencil on Bud's bedroom wall (in the same place he drew a few weeks ago!).

When Big came into the room, it went something like this--

Rophone: "Big! You DO NOT write on the wall!"

Big: (blank stare... crickets chirping....)

Rophone: "Writing on the wall is a no-no!"

Big: (blank stare.... wind whistling.....)

Me: "We only write on paper, Big."

Big: "Oh. Only on paper?" (like he's never heard that before!)

He knows when it's smart to play dumb, that's for sure. This should be interesting.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Running Low on Juice

I feel like I have not been a good blogger as of late-- not very prolific or able to be very witty or clever when I do write. Since I have been doing the 365 Day Ashlland Challenge it seems I am running low on creative juice to do much of anything else. In hopes that you'll feel somewhat appeased and keep reading my blog (I don't have that many readers! Please don't go!), I'm posting a few of the pictures I've taken over the past couple of weeks. Through these, you should be able to gain a small glimpse into what we've been up to.

Every day seems to be bubble blowing day.

Liquid flowed-- from noses....

... and from sky.

There has been peace..

... and not so quiet.

Sometimes I wonder why I live in a house that has at least 25 different roses in the yard, when I don't even like roses... but then I remember that I like to take pictures.

Other flowers can be nice to photograph, too.

We have soft cheeks...

... and not-so-soft summer feet.

We love to be together and have a lot of fun...

... making discoveries...

... and singing songs.

Maybe you couldn't be here with us to share in the fun, but hopefully this post will make you feel a little bit like you were!