Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One Small Step for Little Man, a Giant Leap for Little Mankind

The Girl has always been boy crazy.  Since she has been in school, at age three, she has always had a boy she's crushing on.  In Kindergarten it reached an all time high when the boy she was crushing on also had eyes for her.  Her teacher thought it was pretty cute/funny when she would catch the two of them holding hands in class.  Me? not so much.

The Little Man is very different in this area than his sister.  He is more concerned about taking down the universe with machine guns and light sabers with anyone who is willing to help.  Anyone, except for a girl.

There is no room in The Little Man's world for girls that are friends. None whatsoever.  In fact, last year, I asked him about a little girl who kept saying hello to him each day at drop off at school.  I thought for sure they had been playmates during their days together in class, since each time he would come into the room she would drop whatever she was doing and come welcome him to class.  His response to her was always nice, and he would even do the whole cool "Man" voice thing with her when they spoke.  You know the one, where guys drop their voice a few octaves and somehow make it sound a little tougher than it really is.  I was shocked when he responded, "EWWW, Mom!! That's so gross!  She's a girl!  Of course I don't play with her.  Hello!" when I asked him about her. 

I've asked a few times if he is friends with a certain girl who I see him talking to whether at school or church, and he always has that same answer and look of disgust each and every time.  So, finally I stopped asking.  I figured he was just a typical boy who thought all girls had cooties.

Today, as we pulled into the parking lot of the neighborhood pool, The Girl noticed a car that belongs to a school friend (she memorizes peoples license plates so she always knows when someone she knows is around.  Freaky, I know.) in the parking lot.  This particular friend has been at the pool a handful of times this summer while we have been there along with her two younger sisters.  After The Girl loudly announced that her friend was there at the pool and how excited she was that she would have someone to play with,  The Little Man got grumpy.

p: Oh no!  Not Anna!  No!
me:  You don't have to hang out with her if you don't want to.  You can go swim somewhere else.
p:  I think I have something to tell you guys, but you have to swear not to tell anyone.  It's a secret.
me: What?  What do you mean you have a secret?
p: I'm not going to say anything unless you guys tell me you won't tell anyone, K?
The Girl and I: OK we won't tell!
p: I think I have a girlfriend!

The Girl explodes with laughter.

Which totally made him feel so much better about his confession.

OK, I snickered a little bit too.  If you could have just heard the tone in his voice. It was priceless.  He was feeling so defeated by crossing over to the "Dark Side".  MWAHAHAHA!

me: A Girlfriend?
p: (looking down in his lap) Yes, I think I have a girlfriend.
d: (still laughing uncontrollably)
me: Who?
p: you know how Anna has a sister?
me: Yes.
p: Well, I like to play with her.
me: Do you think she is pretty?
p: NO!  MOM!  Gosh!  I just like to play with her.  She's fun.
me: OH! So she's just a girl that is a friend?
p: Yes! I have a girl friend.  Don't tell ANYONE, OK?

The Girl is still in fits of laughter.
me:  Sister!  Stop laughing at him.  It's OK that he has a girl that is a friend. You play with boys all the time and no one laughs at you.
p: PLEASE don't tell!  It's a secret.
me: OK I won't tell anyone.  Don't worry. (meanwhile I am crafting this blog post in my brain.  Is that a lie?)  Sister!  Do you promise not to tell? 
d: Yes!  I won't tell (as she giggles)
me: Sister!  I'm serious.  Don't say a word of this to anyone.  It will embarrass your brother.  I know you would be pretty upset if I told your crushes that you liked them.
p:  She is just a GIRL that is a FRIEND.  OK?

After everyone promised that they would keep it a secret. We got ourselves together and headed into the pool.  Of course, The Girl ran right up to her friend to let her know that she was here. Her little sister came up to The Little Man and she said "Hello". Out came The Little Man's "Man" voice as he greeted her, and off they went. 

They played together happily for TWO HOURS.  They talked, they walked, and they swam.  It was pretty cute.  As we got ready to head out, he even asked me when we could set up a play date with this little girl.

I know.

A whole new world has opened for The Little Man.  I'll be curious as we start school this next year, how many other girls will be allowed in.  That's how I'll measure the seriousness of this relationship. 

He could have just gotten wrapped up in a Summer Fling. 

Pool water does crazy things to people.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

And It Was Right in My Own Backyard {Project Two Times Twelve}

I promised this time that I would avoid trying to master back lighting, sun flare, and sun haze the next time I went out for Project Two Times Twelve pics.  I can't say that I kept that promise, but I can say that I did try something new and out of my comfort zone.

(First, can I say, that we are only half way through this project and the kids already HATE it!  There was so much bribery going on to get this session that I still am not sure how exactly I am going to get them out next month.  So!  I will say that I probably won't get them out next month.  That doesn't mean I won't photograph them next month, it just means that I will have to be so creative that they don't even know that they are out for a session.)

To get out of my comfort zone, I decided I needed to first, go to a new location, and then second go out at a different time of day/different lighting conditions.  Initially, I went out during the earlier hours of the day because it was overcast, however, once I got to where I was going, the sun was out in all it's glory.  Still out of my comfort zone, though since I don't usually ever shoot in full sun.

First, location.  I see this place ALL THE TIME.  It wasn't until recently, though, that I thought about using it for a place to take pictures.   First, it's not very big.  Second, it's surrounded by homes. Third, it could have some questionable wildlife around it.  Namely that which have rattles on their tales and could bite if feeling they need to protect themselves. 

So, I brought The Hubs just in case.

He was thrilled.

So here we are at THE DRAINAGE DITCH behind my house.

Just goes to show, with a little effort, and creative angles, you can make almost anywhere look good.

First up, The Girl:






















Still working the angles thing here as well as trying to figure out the full sun thing we have going on.  I didn't want the back lighting effect, but if I turned her facing the sun she couldn't open her eyes.  This picture is the result of figuring out what I should do.  You can still see some harsh lighting on the back of her arm there.  Shucks.  I still like her little look, and also the arm thing.  I know it will look weird to most everyone else looking at it, but it's so her.  She always puts up her shoulder in pics.























She's starting to grow out of it, though, so I am glad I still see a hint of it in that picture.

I am so happy with the pics of The Little Man, I can barely stand it.  I know I posted pictures that were supposed to be his Five Year Old photos, but I changed my mind shortly after taking them.  I decided I really didn't like the way his outfit looked in those pics, and since then, I have been trying hard to get something different.  I am happy to say, it didn't take until he was six to get some pictures I think are keepers. 

Here they are:












































(I love the freckles so much in the picture above, I can barely stand it)






















I know they are the most "smiley" pictures, but I have decided that that is precisely why I love them  I get to see "him".  Not him trying to work the camera.  I think sometimes I forget that not all good pictures are pictures that have huge cheesy grins in them.  Good pictures are pictures that show off the person that is in them.  I feel like these pictures give me a good representation of The Little Man.  When all three go up on my wall,  I'll see "All of him" if that makes sense?

Here's another of The Girl that I really like:




She looks like a Desert Cowgirl or something.  I can't decide which I like more, the color or B&W version.  There may be more work to be done with this one.

And, yes, it's back lit (they all are).  You know what though?  I learned that when you are in full sun, you HAVE to back light.  It's the only way to make the subject look right with shadows and what not.  So, there, I learned something despite doing something I said I wasn't going to do again.

And since this is Project TWO times twelve, here are the two of them together:















I love that picture so much, I can barely stand it.  It made dragging The Hubs (as grumpy as he was about it) along all worth it.  He's the reason they are looking at me AND smiling with normal natural smiles.

I'm bringing him along from now on.

He's thrilled.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again: This summer has been perfect.  Here's all the ways I have fallen in love with Summer 2010:

1.  The Weather.  Yes, it's been hot.  IT'S SUMMER!  Honestly, something I can't get over (or what some would call a pet peeve) is when someone complains (namely a weather person on the news) about weather that is totally typical of the season we are in.  It's July, it should be hot.  The sun should be shining A LOT.  In January, it should be ice cold.  The End.

This summer has been quite perfect weather wise.  We have had long stretches of warm/hot days, and then just when we think we might not be able to take it anymore, and this hot weather lovin' gal is just about to say, "DANG!  It's down right hot out here!" we get a reprieve.  A day of clouds and sprinkles.  Maybe a day of just plain rain.  Then, we ramp right back up to where we should be temp wise for the summer.  We've had a few of these cycles, and I love it.  I would say it's perfect.  It has given us a chance to catch up on some movies, TV shows, book reading, *ehem* blogging, etc.  As it warms back up again, we head back out and enjoy the gorgeousness that is summer.

And we are all well rested and ready to take it on.

2.  My kids.  I know I have said this too, but they are in a honeymoon phase that just gets sweeter each day.  I cannot get enough of my kids lovin' on one another and being BFF's 4 eva.  I don't know what is different about this summer versus other times in the past year, but I have a feeling, that like all good things, it will come to an end.  I am also quite certain that the beginning of school will bring this end. 

Sad.

3.  Bible Study.  I decided at the beginning of the summer it would be a good idea to do a Bible study with the kids each morning.  That quickly turned into about once or twice a week.  Even so, it has been fun.  As I go through the verses that we have covered this summer I smile.  How can you not be happy with, "In every way be an example of doing good deeds." -Titus 2:7, or "He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths."- Isaiah 2:3.

Good stuff.

And it looks even better in my kids' own handwriting.

4. Flip Flops.  They are my favorite kind of shoes.  I got three new pairs this year, and each one I love way too much.  These here I have in two colors, black and hot pink/magenta.  Lovely.  The arch support and squishy-ness is perfect.  Many days I put them on when I wake up and don't take them off again until I go to bed because I simply forget I have them on.

These one's right here have a nickname: Happiness.  Two reasons: 1) I bought them in Hawaii, and really is there much more to say about that?  2) When you put these babies on, if feet could smile, they would.  They are made out of recycled yoga mats.  Squishy doesn't even begin to describe these little gifts from Heaven.  They are DEVINE. 

Little happy pillows for your feet.

5.  Ice cream,  ice pops,  root beer floats, milk shakes, and malts. 

Enough said.

6.  While we are talking about food, the garden is doing pretty well.  I only say pretty well because I was hoping for the peppers to do better, as in years past.  Especially with all the warm sun we've had this summer.  I can't figure it out.  Despite the peppers, we have eaten out of our garden already, and will be having round two off our snap pea plants this week.  Yum.

7.  I have successfully kept my hanging pots of flowers alive this year.

8.  Somehow I am enjoying this summer without having to be at the pool everyday.  Since the ol' skin cancer incident, I am trying really hard to be good to my skin.  While we do enjoy a day at the pool about once a week, I am at peace with not needing to be there every day.  It feels good to do other things.  I feel like we have been able to enjoy many other activities this summer because we (I) haven't been so obsessed with hitting the pool. 

There is life beyond those pool gates.

9.  Not having a full calendar.  It has been great not having something to do every. single. day.  Yes, we have had weeks where I was wondering when I would catch my breath, but there have also been a handful of weeks like this one, where  I have ONE THING written down for the next seven days.  *Take a deep breath...aaahhh....exhale*

10.  We have not watched one Dora, Diego, Backyardigans, or Wonder Pets episode ALL SUMMER.  Before you start sweating profusely at the thought that we have given up TV, take a deep breath, we just switched channels.  We are now big fans of PBS.  There are all sorts of new shows there.  Also, besides being new (at least to my kids), they are also more age appropriate, which means that they engage my kids for *ahem* the time I need.  Lastly, there are no commercials.  Good stuff.

Strangely enough, this has made my summer better.  I had no idea how much I was starting to not like the old shows.  This switch up has been down right refreshing.  Also, just recently, they added PBS Kids Go! to our On Demand selections.  That means we can watch our favorite PBS kids shows anytime.

Sweet.


So for those of you who are counting down the days until school starts, and have the feeling that they should share this type of info with me, STEER CLEAR.

I don't want to know.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Lovin' at the Zoo

Something that has been so wonderful this summer (literally this summer has been pretty close to perfect, but more about that later...or not), is how well The Girl and The Little Man have been getting along.  They are like two peas in a pod these days, and it melts my heart over and over again. 

Just so you know, it is not always like this.  Last summer, we were all having a hard time getting along. I blame it on the weather.

But this summer!  Oh, this summer!  It's a regular love fest.  I. Cannot. Get. Enough.

Tonight, The Hubs surprised them with allowing them to have a sleepover in The Little Man's room.  They were beyond happy.  Way more happy, in fact, than anyone should be about sleeping in a sleeping bag on a floor.  However, the giggles and squeals continued on.  The Little Man told The Girl, "Sister! I have a great idea.  Let's hold hands all night long!"  She agreed.  I am so checking on that in just a short while.  Pictures will follow if it is indeed true.

So with sibling love in mind, and the fact that we went to the zoo last week and I have made no effort yet to blog about our adventure, I will now attempt to cram both sibling love and the zoo together in one post...in pictures, of course!

After taking yet another picture on the Bear Statue, I wondered, how many of these pictures I could dig up?

In honor of siblings, we have the two BFF's just last week at the zoo:























That poor bear.  He has no idea what is covering his eyes.

Good thing.

Just last year:






















Here, The Girl is 5 and The Little Man was only 3:






















It must have been cold that day.  The Little Man looks so thrilled here, and The Girl is DONE with pictures.  Clearly, I wasn't thinking through the posing on this pic.  I was in survival mode.

The Girl at four and The Little Man at two:






















How much do I love about that picture?  Let me tell you!  First, because the kids are so little you can actually tell that they are sitting on bears.  B) Do you see the chub on The Little Man's face?  I would suspect there is a sweet pacifier grin under those cute little cheeks somewhere. Last, The Girl.  Seriously.  She is so stinkin' cute here it hurts me.  This was the summer she decided to grow her bangs out.  OK, I decided, but she totally went along for the ride.  I remember looking at these pictures when they were first taken, and I thought she looked so old with her bangs pinned back.  Now I look at her and think she is just a baby here.  These were such hard days as a mom, especially compared to now, but ohmygoodness, those babies are so sweet.  I barely remember them this way. 

Sad.

OK.  Here we have The Girl with no bears and no brother.  She was three and the Baby Boy was one.  I don't think The Little Man was stable enough yet to sit on the bears yet, so we have The Girl, in the same area as the bears, but a little different scenery:



















Do you see the chubbiness in her little cheeks here? 

SMOOCH!


















Ah!  Here he is!  Right were he should be!  Oh, the paci!  So cute.  Here in the safety of the double stroller, he is safe from eating something (poop) that he finds on the ground, he isn't killing my back from being held (he wasn't walking yet), and he still has a good view.   This last week at the zoo he actually asked if we could rent a stroller for him.

Some habits die hard.

 Lastly,   The Girl.













 









I think this is pre-brother.  My guess is based off of the hat alone.  Oh, and the mullet that was just starting to get a personality of it's own.  You can barely see the wisps hiding under the hat.  Love, love, LOVE her intense stare and curiosity at whatever she was taking in at the moment.  I still see that same look often when she is watching a movie for the first time, reading a book, listening closely to story or directions, collecting her bugs, or working on some sort of project.  The only thing that has changed are those sweet little cheeks.

Oh, and the mullet.

Thankfully, that has filled in.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Setting Me Straight

I love music.

I love it even more when it touches me, reminds me of a place and/or time, or makes me feel an emotion. I really love it when the words say something I've been wanting to say, but haven't been able to say it just right.
 
Blame it on having a deliciously lazy summer, if you will, one that DOESN'T include a formal Bible study (for the first time in a VERY long time), and I have found that I have some extra time during my quiet time in the morning, and through out the day even, to really think about what I want from my quiet/prayer time each day.  Admittedly, there have been days when I don't know.  I just pray and open His word.  Thankfully, He has been gracious enough to guide me on those days when I have no clue what I am doing.  Still, I have been frustrated with just going along without any sort of guidance.  No commentary, no questions, no one to bounce ideas off of or to chat about what they thought that last passage meant.

It's just been me and The Lord.

Which, I have realized, is the whole point.

Hello.

While frustrated one day, I heard this song.  After hearing the first verse, I instantly knew I would love it.  It was the words I had been desperately seeking to pray, but couldn't.  It has reminded me of what my focus for each and every day should be.  Whether in a formal Bible study chock full of guidance, commentary, and small group discussion, or if it's just me and The Lord, this is what I want to strive for each day.

To know Him more today than I did yesterday.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We Were a Swimmin' and a Jumpin'

A couple of weekends ago, we finally celebrated The Little Man's birthday.  Last year, I celebrated the fact that when hosting a little kid's party, you don't have to have the party perfectly decorated or even a theme.  Of course I probably already knew that, but it didn't stop me from practically killing myself trying to come up with all the perfect decorations, games, details, etc. anyway.  Then, when the winds kicked up so fiercely it was as though we were caught up in some sort of inland form of a hurricane, well there were no decorations, there were no thematic games, and all the thematic and well planned details went right out the window with all the wind.  Guess what?  We all had a great time, and quite frankly, NOT A SINGLE PERSON, SMALL OR BIG, EVEN NOTICED.
Well then.

This year, I remembered that lesson and added that to the fact that I suspected birthday parties didn't have to be on or even within a few days of the child's actual birthday.  No, I was starting to think that birthday parties are supposed to be fun, not stressful.  Imagine that!  So, since The Little Man wanted to have a pool party in the worst way, I knew we couldn't have his party AND have fun unless we celebrated it much later than his actual birthday.  The first part of June in these parts is pretty unpredictable weather wise.  This new found freedom from the rules I had placed on myself for timing of parties was only justified by the torrential downpour and downright chilly temps we experienced on the day we would have had his party.

At that point, I was feeling pretty darn smart.

Only a few weeks later, we had much better, much more predictable weather, and a party with little to no decoration, no real theme,  and absolutely no planned activities, outside of having so much fun we could not stop grinning, and then stuffing our faces full of cake and ice cream. 

Yes, we had a good time.

There was a lot of this:





















































Some of this:























And even more of these fun smiles:






















After a ton of swimming and some bouncing (we also had a bounce house, which oddly enough, I have no pictures of), we headed off to stuff our faces full of cake and ice cream:















Yes, oh yes you can!  You CAN have a Star Wars cake at a pool party.  The Little Man was thrilled to no end with his Star Wars cake. 

See, it WAS all about the happiness.

OH! And here is some more happiness.  The Little Man surprised all of us with his mad swimming skilz.  You have to remember, that just a mere 8 weeks before this, he couldn't swim at all:
video
Sweet boy has been working so hard at swimming lessons. 

They have paid off!

And my lack of attention to detail and downright tardiness, it paid off too. 

Fun was had by all.