Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I Did It!

Yesterday was the last day of the photo challenge. I can't believe it. Really, I think I am in shock that it's over and am amazed that I was able to finish. It was such a challenge for me to participate-- I have been stretched creatively and have grown more than I ever thought possible. I wouldn't trade my newfound perspective on my life and the world around me for anything. 

Like I've said before-- not all of my challenge photos are great, but not all of my days were great. I feel so proud of the fact that despite illness, creative anxiety (that never went away!), moving, surgery on my elbow, all of our money being stolen, parents moving in, a busy 4-kid-schedule, ornery kids, and just plain old lack of motivation, I didn't miss a day. Not one! It wasn't always pretty, but I accomplished my goal! 

Speaking of not always pretty... I guess it's fitting that capturing my final photo would be a challenge. I struggled with knowing how to end this journey. I mean, I wanted it to somehow pay tribute to accomplishing my goal, but knew I couldn't do anything really grand. What to do? 

Right before taking Bud to school I had an epiphany. It was fueled by Big's affinity for wearing numbered shirts-- it's all he'll wear for the most part. So, I quickly whipped up a new shirt for him to wear and made a plan. 

Not the best plan, as it turned out. Yesterday was one of those days where Big took extreme pleasure in being contrary. Super funny to him. Not so funny to me. So, relying on him to be the integral part of my plan didn't work out very well. My creative anxiety kicked into overdrive. I was determined to capture a photo that was exactly what I had envisioned!

So, this is where we started--

Big lasted all of about a minute in front of the funny mirrors until he was done (and haven't they ever heard of Windex?!?)-- he was much more interested in the fish.

Hmmm. Not exactly what I'd envisioned for my grand hurrah, so when we picked up Bud from school we did a quick shirt-switcheroo and made another go of it.

I looked at my shots when I got home, only to realize that it was a lot darker out than I had thought, and having Bud sit on the bottom of the slide was a bad idea. Too much red and orange have made my child into an Oompa-Loompa. And since I don't know how to edit.... 

Back to the drawing board. Another quick switcheroo....

Yeah. Again, soooo not what I'd envisioned. Yikes!

Maybe if I give Bud another go....

With promise of a sucker treat, I coaxed him into another shirt-switcheroo and had at it. He did great for a few, but quickly lost steam.

Okay. There's one kid left. Another sucker promise, another shirt-switcheroo....

It was looking rather promising, albeit a little stiff, so I asked her to jump a bit.

Yowza! Sorry, my bad.

Let's try again...

A little intense, but such enthusiasm! I think I can work with that.

Now we're talkin'!

Apparently Ginger's been taking an Irish step dancing class on the sly. I think we're getting close...


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Obelisk Happens

Pen competed in the regional spelling bee today. I know she didn't do as well as she hoped, but I'm proud of her. She was eliminated in the 7th round while trying to spell the word 'obelisk'. Thinking it was of french origin, Pen spelled the word with an -isque ending. 

She has informed me that not asking for the language of origin will forever be a regret, since she knows that if she had been aware it is a word of Greek origin she would have most likely spelled it correctly. The kicker is that 'obelisk' was the only word in the entire bee, up to that point, that Pen didn't know how to spell. She even knew all of the words used in the remainder of that round. What are the chances?

Then there's the fact that she had to pee. Badly. They had gone 5 rounds without a break and she was feeling the effects of the water she had guzzled in nervousness. Poor Pen must be like me-- for me, trying to concentrate when I have to go pee is like trying to look pretty when wearing headgear. 

I mean, I've never worn headgear so I don't know from experience-- but I've seen people in it. 

Anyway, we're super proud of Pen. Just making it as far as she did is a huge accomplishment! And the fact that she's already studying for next year as I type this tells me that she's determined to make a go of it again and better her top 14 finish (out of 56 kids from 4 counties). I can hardly wait! Good job, Pen! We love you!

(Oh, and if you want to read Pen's own account of her spelling bee experience, you can find it here.)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Want It

There is a photo blog I follow called beyond snapshots. Not only do I wish with all my heart that I could take photos that look like theirs, but now I find myself coveting with all my heart a certain Epiphanie camera bag that they're giving away (Yeah, yeah. I know I shouldn't covet, but it's a really sweet bag! I'll repent later). 

To enter, I need to post a photo that represents red. 

I think that should do it. 

If you feel like checking it out, you can do so here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Big's Breakfast Order

Big came into the kitchen yesterday morning and requested breakfast--

Big: "I'm hungry. Can I have breakfast?"

Me: "Sure. What do you want?"

Big: "I'd like chocolate muffin, with a sucker while I wait."

Me: "Ummm... yeah. You're not getting that."

Big: "Awww! I'm not? Okay, then I'll just have the sucker."

At least he didn't ask me for a steak muffin like he used to-- I never quite new how to fill that order.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Almost There

I find it hard to believe, but I'm almost done with the photo challenge. Yup, I'm almost there. Today is day 353, which means I only have 12 days to go. Wow.

I'm pretty proud of myself-- I haven't missed a day, even though some days it has been really challenging to get a photo. To be quite honest, not all of the photos are that good. But, not all of my days have been that good. All that matters is that I did it. I made it.

Well, I've almost made it-- twelve more days to go, you know. I can't count my chickens before they've hatched. I think I'd like to have chickens, actually. If they didn't stink so much. Stinky chickens.

I've experienced tremendous growth over the past 353 days-- both in my photographic abilities, but also in how I view my life and my surroundings. That was the whole idea behind the challenge, so I'd say it worked. Mission accomplished. I can't even express how happy I am with that. 

The best part is that even though not all of my photos are good, some of them are! I have some great shots of my kids, and some great shots of STUFF. Enough that I don't even have wall space for all that I'd love to frame. Enough that I'm even thinking of selling some of my pictures online. I mean, I may not have enough space to frame them to enjoy, but maybe someone else does!

It's a big risk, though, to put myself out there that way. I mean, what if no one wants to buy something like this?

This one is nice and bright, too, but I'd have to say it's just for my archives...

I don't think anyone would buy this one, but it's a photo that I am proud of myself for capturing. Some days, from the car, on a rainy day, on the go was all I could manage. This is a product of one of those days. 

And it's quite possible that I'm the only one crazy enough to want to put this on her wall. But I've always consoled myself with the thought that I'm not the only crazy one out there. I hope I'm right.

I thought this one might look cool inside a matted frame. You know, kind of a matted-frame-inside-a-matted-frame effect. But that's just me.

Anyway, selling my photos is only an idea I'm tossing around. Most of the photos I take are really just for my enjoyment...

And this one? Well, I don't know what to say about this one. There's really no reason for it.

Um, yeah. Sorry about that. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Using Tools

It has been said that man's ability to use tools is a sign of intelligence. Pencils are tools. Multi-use tools. With one end you can write. With the other end you can erase. 

But, wait! There's more!

Clever and resourceful girls use them to hold makeshift hair buns in place. Itchy people use them to scratch difficult to reach itches. Moms can curl their lips up and make a pencil into a mustache to amuse their ornery children. Boys like my husband use pencils as pretend drumsticks as they air drum.

Boys like the one who sits across from Pen at school stick their pencil eraser up their nose and then lick it off. 

Oh, yeah. That's intelligence.

Stick to the List

I have often wondered if making a list of New Year's Resolutions is really a good thing. Does it just set us up for disappointment and a feeling of failure? Or keep us from stretching and improving in areas that aren't mentioned on the list?

The other day I asked Bud if he could please do a better job of listening to me, and told him that I'd really like it if he could work on being more patient. He responded, "But it's not on my list of goals!"

Hmmm. I guess that answers my question. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Fishing Buddy

One of my dad's fishing buddies came over so they could go try to catch a few together. He's rather funny, and often sets the kids into fits of giggles with his wordplay. He and Big had a funny conversation. 

Tex: "Well... how are you, little girl?"

Big: "I'm not a girl!"

Tex: "Your hair's a little long, so you must be a girl!"

Big: "No, I'm not."

Tex: "You're not? Well, how do you know?"

Big: "I have a penis."

Tex (cocking his head because he's hard of hearing): "What? What did you say?"


Tex (laughing): "Well. You're right about that."

Yes, yes he is. 

Big wasn't about to be pulled in to some confusing conversation with Tex. He knew what was up and decided to nip the whole thing in the bud with some cold, hard facts. He knows what's what.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Play Date

Bud had a play date yesterday with his best friend from school. Their first one. This friend is no ordinary friend-- their friendship is the type where glances and blushes are exchanged when they first see each other as they arrive at school. The kind where Evie told her mom that she doesn't love her brothers and that the only boys she loves are her dad and Bud. They really like each other. Really.

I took them to the park for their play date, and it was awesome. A thing to behold. I still smile when I think about it.

The amount of giggling didn't quite rival Ginger's birthday party, but it was pretty constant and impressive.

I know it's kind of hard to tell from this photo, but they really do like each other. 

As they sat to share a snack, they got to practice their adult-like kid conversations. It was truly fabulous. 

Especially the portion that revolved around the graham sticks. 

Evie: "Mmmmm! These are really good!"

Bud (says very knowingly): "I know! They're like bark chips, only tastier!"

I just about died when Evie had some hair blow in her face and Bud brushed it out of the way for her, giving her cheek a caress as he did so. So tender. (Yikes!)

A change of snack-eating venue, for more privacy (should I be giving them more privacy?!?)...

Bud and Evie spent a lot of time on the swings, too, switching constantly to face the same way and then opposite ways. At one point they were swinging side-by-side, in tandem, and Bud proclaimed, "We're married!" (Double yikes!) He must have learned that one from his sisters.

Needless to say, the play date was a huge success! They are already making plans for the next one. I can't wait.