Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Give a kid some cardboard.

All summer my girls have been making cardboard houses. Miniature getaways for their dolls & tiny toys. The tiniest house (in the very last photo) is only 4 inches tall. 
One home came complete with a safety pin chain-link ladder. Another has yarn "ropes" to climb to the top, with encouraging words written along the wall: "If you climb to the top, you're awesome." & then: "You're almost there."
Oodles of  hot glue sticks were harmed in the making of these cardboard houses. Markers, paint, craft foam, magazine cutouts, colored paper, stickers, duct tape...the girls used anything they could get their hands on.
New splotches of permanent paint on the tabletop prove their creative efforts all season long. 
No instructions needed. In fact, no rules allowed.
Without hesitation they create. Invent. Build.
They made magic from scraps.  

Give a kid some cardboard...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day of School: 2014

ME: Ok, girls! Annual "first day of school" photos! Here we go!
*girls slowly put backpacks on*

ZOEY: Cheeeese!
PAZELY: Shinyyyyyyy!
ME: Yeah, you're right Paze. The light is so bright on your face. It's like your body is all normal-like, & then you have this giant glowing orb on the top of your neck. Maybe we should sit on the steps.

PAZELY: Maybe I could just move over to this side.
ME: Nope, that's not working. Your head is still glowing.

ZOEY: Mom! Are my teeth shiny?! Are they glowing?! Look how white my teeth are!
ME: They look awesome, Zoey.
PAZELY: What about my head? Does my head look awesome?
ME: *eye roll* Yes, your head looks awesome, Pazely.

PAZELY: Well, maybe I should stand over there.

ME: Well, if you stand over there, you won't be in the picture.
ZOEY: Your luminous noggin is out of frame, little one. And, somewhat ironically, I currently take the spotlight. 
ba-DUM cha!!

ZOEY: If you were taller, you wouldn't be having this problem right now.
PAZELY: Stop being so mean to me, Zoey! If I wanted to, I could probably throw fireballs at you with my fiery glowing face.

PAZELY: Maybe we should sit on the stairs, mom.
ME: (sarcastically) Great idea, Pazely. We've only got about 5 minutes left, so we need to hustle!

PAZELY: I cannot be bothered with people named "Zoey" right now. She has insulted my head & she must be stopped!

ME: You girls are sitting kind of far apart. Can you squeeze in together?

*both girls scoot together a wee fraction of a tiny bit closer together.*

ME: *sigh* Please, I need you to cooperate.

ZOEY: MOM! Do you realize that there is someone already sitting here?! This is Jenny. She's my imaginary friend. You remember her, don't you?
ME: ZOEY! Scoot over. Now.

ZOEY: I hope you're happy, mom. You just made me kill Jenny.

ZOEY: I can't do this anymore. This is so depressing. 6th grade awaits, mother.

PAZELY: MY turn! 
ME: I like how your hands are on your knees, Pazely.

PAZELY: And, now they're not! Woah...woah...woah! No gravity! My hands are floating!!!

PAZELY: Aaaand, now gravity is back.

PAZELY: And now they're floating again! They're floating!!!! Mom! Look! They're floating!
ME: I see that.

PAZELY: Just kidding, mom! That was just an illusion.
ME: I wondered what that was.

PAZELY: *looks to her left* What is Zoey doing, mom?


PAZELY: My. Sister. Is. So. Weird. But. What. Is. Weirder. Is. I. Think. I. See. Jenny.

ME: Let's come together as a happy family unit & take one last set of pictures, OK?
Aw, that looks so sweet.
Oh, that's funny! Zoey's hair is falling across your forehead, Pazely. It looks like you have blond bangs. haha!

PAZELY: *looks up*

PAZELY: Oh my gosh! I LOVE it! And....I'm pretty sure I have cooties now.

ME: Last picture of the day! This is our "first day of school" JUMPY photo!! 
♫I say JUMPY, you say PHOTO... 
ZOEY & PAZELY: *silence*
ME: ♫JUMPY!!!...
ZOEY & PAZELY: *silence*

ME: Get ready to jump.....
OK, pause. 
I'm only going to say this because I can't help it: It looks like you're pooping.

ME: 1-2-3....Blast off!!!!

ME: Zoey?...Pazely?
*crickets chirping*

To view all the First Day of School photo shoots, click HERE.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I hear angels singing...

Not gonna lie: I'm so looking forward to school starting. My children return tomorrow. (Which is why I hear angels singing.) This has been a wacky summer for me. Not sure why. And my kids have been extra wacky. Not sure why. 

 I have been more lax than ever this season. But I'm over it. I need order restored & structure reinstated! 

Even though we didn't have the most thrilling or exciting of summers, we did make a few splendid memories. The highlight for me was getting to share my favorite stomping grounds as a kid to the Mr. & my girls. (There was trespassing involved, but it ain't no thing.) 
The Mr. & Zoey's favorite memory was also the island I shared with them. 
Pazely's fave? Her birthday. Of course.

I've got a bit of a lump in my throat as Zoey will be entering middle school. I'm trying to keep a cool, chill, calm attitude in front of her though. Pazely has the same teacher Zoey had last year, so I almost feel like I already know the ropes there.

I'm looking forward to a tea & breakfast tomorrow morning with my sister & mom. Our once-a-month teas won't be the same without grandmother, but we felt like it was important to continue.

And tomorrow you all can look forward to what has turned into a tradition of my "1st day of school photo sessions" with the girls. Oh, the drama of it all!
(Here's a peek at past year's to get you going...)

Until tomorrow, my friends...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lipstick & things.

I have been helping my mom go through some of my grandmother's things. It's a very odd process, ruffling through the belongings of someone who is no longer here. Grandmother is otherwise preoccupied & can't be bothered with these things now. She's dancing with angels. In her whole, healed, completely perfect body, she is praising her Maker. And to be blunt: we're stuck with her junk.
Who got the better end of that deal?

My mother & I are in the midst of planning a yard sale, but I wonder if it will be too difficult for my mom to see her own mother's things decorated with polka dotted stickers in shades of neon, listening to bartering customers qualifying the value of her once-loved possessions.
But we have kept those items that are sacred to us. Brother kept a portrait of grandma + grandpa standing in front of their house on Guemes Island. One cousin kept a quilt, another a string of pearls. My sister-in-law kept the double decker pie carrier. The bell collection has been divided amongst the great grandkids. Each family member has kept a token or two of some item they've attached a memory to, a special relic that brings them instantly back to a specific time or place.

Rummaging through the closet in grandmother's bedroom was the worst. "Worst" as in "you will experience tremendous heart-twisting if you dare to enter". Her scent still lingers on her bathrobe. The flannel shirt hanging in her closet now hangs in mine–and I can't stop burying my face in it. I'm not the only one that smells everything. It was fun seeing my aunts during the memorial service last month. They'd walk through the house, pick something up, & sniff at it. I've seen several people take a whiff of the pillows on grandmother's couch, the jackets in her closet.

In the course of organizing, we found her antique flour sifter still covered in a light dusting of flour, maybe from the last thing she ever baked. The bean pot is spotted with dried bits of beans. Her name, in her own handwriting, is written on the bottom of plastic-ware. Board games & toys, brand new in their boxes, were tucked in a cupboard—possibly saved for future presents for little ones. I even found a list she had written of last season's American Idol contestants, along with their toll-free phone numbers, so she could call in & vote for her favorite. (She loved that show.)

Not surprisingly, we have stumbled across a few tubes of lipstick.
Cozy Mauve zipped in a purse pocket.
Pink Satin in a bathroom drawer.
Instant Mocha in the bottom of a handbag.
My grandmother never left the house without applying some lipstick.
Always with the lipstick.

Even in the hospital, after a massive stroke, the nurses were impressed at her ability to put it on perfectly...without a mirror. She wore lipstick ALL. THE. TIME. She even told me once that she never had chapped lips in her whole life. I bet! I can guarantee that I'm not the only one in the family who has memories of grandmother putting on her lipstick.

Before discarding the contents of the drawer in the the bathroom, it was important to me to capture a last real-life still-life moment. So I did.

We all have our ways of dealing with grief, with saying goodbye, with processing the pain that the heartache brings. And, well, maybe a lipstick photo-shoot is one way for me to let go.
It might look like a generic tube of lipstick to you, a plastic capsule of unimportance.
But that right there is my grandmother.
She touched that.
And wore that.
It is my time machine. And I am carried away to the past....because that is all I have with her anymore.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DIY: Repetitive Photo Play

 Who knew that orange & purple carrots harvested from my container garden in the backyard could look so stinkin' cool? (The girls & I started those from seed & we can't stop thinking how magical we are that we MADE food!)
I took a picture of  my happy little root veggies & then cropped it square. The more I stared at this picture... 

 ...the more I thought it would be interesting in some sort of  pattern.
I simply used the PicMonkey photo editor to create that funky collage.

You see, I don't have any experience with PhotoShop or any elaborate photo editing programs. I am all about "simple to use" & "easy to understand".

When you hear the word "repetitive", you might think "boring", or "monotonous". But that's not what happened when I added the same photo 25 times in a collage. A simple rotation left or right, & the foodie masterpiece was complete.

I'll show you how to make your own collage, but first here are more food photos I snapped along with their collage creations...

I used what I had in my pantry & fridge. Even leftover pizza! And I realized two things: 
1. I definitely need to do some grocery shopping. 
2. I can't believe how many shapes of pretzels are in my cupboards. Gah!

Here's the quick how-to if you want to make your own collage...
(If necessary, click on each picture for a larger view.)

1. Go to & choose the Collage option.

2. Click the Layouts symbol. And then choose Square Deal. 

3. In the Square Deal tab, choose the layout with 25 squares.

4. Now click Auto Fill to fill each square. Click it 25 times.

5. Hover over whichever image you want to rotate. You'll see an Edit button appear. Click on that.

6. An Edit Imaging box will pop up. From here, you can rotate left, rotate right, or even flip your image left or right. Continue clicking on the images you want to rotate &/or flip.

7. Click the Background symbol – it looks like a paint palette. You can adjust the spacing between the pictures. Set it to "zero" if you don't want any space between the pictures, as shown in this photo. In some instances I like the look of a thin white line. (You can change the color of the lines too.)

Some of the images remind me of quilts. Some of them have a kaleidoscope-ish flavor. 

Anyway, if you make your own collages, please feel free to share by leaving a link in the comments.

Ah, sweet repetition...