Tuesday, June 28, 2016

National, State, and Local Flowers

I knew what I wanted to photograph for this theme. I have had several kids go through Utah history in fourth grade and I know many of the state items by heart. (Well, probably not as many as I should.) Utah's state flower. Easy. The Sego Lily.

Although I didn't really know what the Sego Lily looks like. I noticed a lone lily in my neighbor's yard and I thought...what are the chances that is a Sego Lily? Turns out...not very good.

But I took a picture of my neighbor's lily and thought about the State Flower a lot. And I looked up pictures of it, so I now know what to identify in the future.

Here is a picture of a perfectly ordinary lily. You're welcome.

Next up: B&W - TEXTURE

Single Source

There was much cheating in this challenge, but I don't feel bad about any of it. For single source, they wanted the sun behind your subject, but then bounced off in front again to highlight the portrait. Also, you need a new subject...remember, no duplication.

I had all these fun pictures of Henlee and I noticed that the light was very interesting in them. In some (like the previous post) there was a shaft of sunlight right behind her that made her face darker. (I lightened the picture so you could see her cute chubby cheeks better.) Then I took some like the one below where the sunlight shaft was bouncing off the floor and back into her cherubic face. Technically, the sun is not behind her, but I'm thrilled that I have a different subject than my children, so that is what I submit. (To you, my ever faithful judges.)

Isn't she lovely. And very pensive.


FOUR Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Last week, our Monday craft was up in the air. I wanted to paint the mailbox, but when I mentioned this to Tyler, he wasn't so sure about the idea. After much debate, I decided to scrap the project. I think there will still be a painted mailbox in the future...just not this summer.

Instead, I told the kids that we were going to have a catch up day. It came out more like 'ketchup.' June chimed in that we would have a 'mustard' day. That didn't sound savory. Pearl finally chirped in that we would have a 'fry sauce' day and that seemed just right. So that is what we did. We had a Fry Sauce day. A day to get things done and relax a bit. We still were busy as usual, but it is nice to know that you can pick and choose what you would like to do.

Tuesday took us to the library as usual. There was a Capoeira group that came in a did demonstrations for the kids. If you have never seen Capoeira, it is Brazilian martial arts, made up of dancing and acrobatics. It looks like people are fighting in slow motion. And by fighting, it looks like beautiful, intricate martial arts. I know about Capoeira from Tyler since he has been to Brazil, but I had no idea there was a group here in town. I didn't watch the performance or take pictures (I was reading) but Ivory said it was very cool, and naturally, she is sure she would be fantastic at it.

Robyn and I read together on a couch and oddly enough, United Way came to take pictures of us. I guess it was 'Read Out Loud' day, so they asked if we would pose for them. That was easy enough. I had actually taken a picture of Robyn reading just moments before.

Also, at the library, I saw Ivory's art on display. I guess they are rotating through the pictures because I haven't seen Robyn's Frozen picture yet.

The library was made a little more exciting because we lost June. I got confused about where we were meeting and I looked everywhere for her. It is good to know that the panic you feel for a lost child doesn't diminish as they get older. Although it was a little odd to tell the circulation desk that I lost my teenager. In good time (read: too much time) I found her. She was right where she was supposed to be apparently. (I'll remember this for next time.)

Wednesday, we had so much fun swimming. Maybe a bit too much fun. Everyone came home with a slight sunburn. But they were very mild. By the next day, you couldn't even tell on the kids. Only I had to wait a few extra days for mine to heal up. And even then, it was only my scalp that hurt.

Our treat on Thursday was a healthy one. We made Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. I have always loved zucchini bread and it is great to think that I'm eating a vegetable at the same time. The kids were dubious as to whether they would like it. I guessing that watching the main ingredient go in is different than mom showing up with yummy bread. A big pile of grated zucchini isn't their thing, I suppose.

We managed to make our muffins less healthy than directed. I simply don't have all those fancy, healthy ingredients on hand. We substituted regular milk for almond milk, regular flour for whole wheat flour, and regular oil for coconut oil. We did use applesauce and honey in place of sugar. Click HERE for the healthy version. In no time we were pouring out our moofin mix. (Make sure you spray those cupcake liners. These babies like to stick.)

Yummy yum yum. They look good enough to eat.

Now that the kids knew all the ingredients, I had them give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down. The voting was almost unanimous. I think only Pearl was on the fence, but she asked for a second one anyway.

Friday, I had big plans to take the kids on a hike to see Adam's waterfall. But Thursday night it dawned on me that with an upcoming vacation, I needed to take the dog to Idaho. I wasn't sure when that would happen. The next week was going to be busy, and 8 hours is not an easy time window to open up on short notice. So, we took a field trip to Idaho instead. The kids travel pretty well now. I'm still training them to tell me they need a potty break before it is an emergency, but that comes with time. Here we are trucking up to spud country.

This girl is never happy to be dropping off the dog.

Moxy is a good part of the family. I'm still amazed at how much she sheds. If you get her in a shaft of sunlight and stroke her back, you can see the waves of hair coming off her. (Must get non-shedding next time.)

Moxy is also getting old. I remember when her nose used to be mostly black. All the white on her muzzle shows she is an old lady.

We reached Idaho to learn that we had lost a friend there. Gizmo had finally reached his time. If Moxy is old, Gizmo was ancient, and with his seizures getting much worse, it was time to say goodbye. The kids noticed right away that he was missing. Except Pearl. It wasn't until later in the day that I heard her say, "Mom, where's Gizmo?" I said, "He went to live with Grandpa."

"He DIED?!" she exclaimed. Well, at least I know she gets it. Rest in peace, Gizzy.

The field trip was a huge success in my opinion, and more fun than a hike. I took Robyn's pictures as you know, but we did much more. We hung out with Henlee, who gets bigger and more expressive every time we see her.

Ivory learned how to run the riding lawn mower. Jack wanted to teach her, but I insisted she get instruction from Grandma.

We did a lot of relaxing.

And some nail painting.

I brought some ingredients to try something I had seen online. Check out this video and tell me you don't want to make these right away. We had our puff pastry. Check.

We had delicious berries. Check.

We had good helpers with cute nails. Check.

Goodness these are easy to make and look so decadent and profesh. (Profesh means professional, although I'm thinking true professionals would not use that word.)

And the finished product did not disappoint. I may have burned my mouth a little since I couldn't wait for them to cool down.

It was great to see cousins. Ivory and Jack were as thick and thieves and were together all weekend. These older girls had a blast too.

They made up a game in the car. (Actually, they probably made it up earlier.) They collect adjectives from people and then create a monster using those adjectives. They come up with some fun creatures.

Dinner brought in even more family. Sadly, Kathryn, KJ, and Hinckley were in Utah, so we didn't see them this trip.

It was a great time. And so serendipitous. We were supposed to Skype with the grandmas this weekend for book group, but instead we were with one Grandma already and only had to Skype one direction. (Our family book group is going well, although I always forget to take pictures. We have lost a couple people. Ivory couldn't handle people picking her literature choices, so she opted out. She might come back next year -- probably for the refreshments. Tim has been so busy with school and church assignments that he doesn't have a lot of luxury reading time. He opted out as well. The rest of us seem to be enjoying reading together.) I got pictures this time though. Ha ha.

Don't forget the Washington crew. Here is Miranda on the phone. I like Vicki's nifty contraption. It is supposed to hold a tablet, but it worked well for our purposes.

And then it was time to go home. Best field trip so far this summer.

Tyler spoke at Stake Conference on Saturday evening, so I had to be home for that. (He did fabulous, of course.) Sunday was a great treat because Kathryn and Hinckley came to church with us and stayed for lunch after. (We got to see them this weekend after all.) I'm sad I didn't get a picture with them. It was so nice to chat with them for awhile. Hinckley is working hard at therapy. I hope his body is taking some good notes, so he can be back to walking soon. We sure love him.

Four weeks of summer under our belts. We still have many weeks to go, but I'm sad that June (the month) is almost over. I really enjoy having all my kids home. Even with dreaded "changing rooms" week coming up. (That week is my most and least favorite all rolled into one. Here's hoping I survive.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Robyn's 12 Year Gallery

Guess who finally got their birthday pictures done? Lucky, she still looks as cute as the day she turned...

I can't remember why I am so behind on this one. It is not uncommon for Robyn to end up with summer birthday photos, but I do feel a little guilt every time it happens. I'm just pleased that we haven't passed Daisy's birthday yet.

Robyn is growing up. (They do that.) She is still a fantastic combination of child and young woman at the moment. She likes many of the things she did when she was younger but her humor and inquisitiveness are of an older mind. She is very cuddly. I get hugs from her all the time. (She asks me if I want a hurg.) I usually get hurgs when I am in a bad mood. (Not that that happens often.) She can sense when my stress level goes up, and she tries to bring it down with a good squeeze. (It usually works.)

I can usually find Robyn reading somewhere. We made this deal that if she read a book I recommended and liked it, then I would buy her a book she wanted in return. I don't see how she can lose at this deal, since I obviously recommend stellar books. She still loves the piano and doing art stuff as well. I am amazed at all the creative faces she gives her creations. Every face I draw looks the same, but with her people, you can tell exactly how they feel.

I'm always looking for fun locations to take pictures and we scored big this time. We happened to take a jaunt up to Idaho and that means we got to use Grandma Cazier's yard, which is a wonderland of its own. I think you will enjoy these lovely pictures of a lovely girl. (Even I make a cameo in there. See if you can find me.)

The only downside of this excursion was that we never went anywhere in the car, so we didn't stop somewhere for a treat. Trust me, Robyn will not let me forget this, and I'm sure we'll make it out sometime to grab a delicious snack.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Backlit - Translucent Nature

Man. This theme was throwing me for a loop. I was not at all sure what I was going to photograph. Some ideas they gave were of birds with their wings spread with the sun shining through. Or maybe a large wave with the special glow as the sun shines through it. Ha. There is no way I was going to capture that shot with my limited time and location. However, they (the infamous THEY) did give us permission to be creative and look for our own interpretation. (To be fair, one of their examples was garbage left in nature that was translucent and backlit. Got it. I can stretch this theme.)

When we went to the MOA, I found my backlit translucent photo. And since it is something that occurs in nature, although maybe not naturally in this case, I counted it. Behold, my rainbow.

I love the vibrant colors created with the string. From this particular angle, you can see the range of color and the two separate shafts of the rainbow. Pretty awesome and acceptable to me for this category, for sure.


B&W Automobiles

Sure, I'm slightly behind on my photography challenge, but since I never submit any pictures, I guess it doesn't matter. Today, our picture comes from my good ole standby...the van. This vehicle is with me all the time. We go in the morning, we go in the afternoon, we go at night. I spend more time in my van than I do at many tasks, including exercise and blogging at the moment.

This van isn't perfect. There is something wrong with the rotors we believe. It shakes like a crazy beast going down steep hills. Also, there is quite the ding on the side on the car. Behold.

Almost a year ago exactly, I was coming home from Disneyland. I had a nasty cold and I wasn't feeling good at all. I got home and Tyler took off for Idaho to visit with his dad. Which left me with all the kids, which is fine, except when I am feeling awful. Sunday dawned and I knew I wasn't going to church, but I figured I could drive the kids down there.

After dropping them off, I came home and parked in the middle of the garage, which is what I liked to do when I knew Tyler wasn't going to be home. I suddenly remembered in my fog of illness that it was Sunday and he would be coming home later that evening after all. I was so tired, but I figured it was best to move the car before I forgot. I pulled out at a funny angle and tried to enter the garage on the right side.

It didn't go so well. I ended up hitting the side of the garage which is brick and wood. There was a horrible crunching sound and all I could think was...."Darn it. Tyler is NOT going to like this. I should not be driving around when I'm sick."

The only bright side I could find about this incident was that I can now distinguish my van from all the identical vans like it. (And there are plenty around here.) Oh, and Tyler was very nice not to be too mad at me. He said that he needs to work out his anger about the car getting damaged BEFORE the kids start driving. It is the least I can do to help. :)

Next Up: Backlit - Translucent Nature

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Day of Dad

I have a great Father, and I'm happy that my kids have a phenomenal Dad as well. I appreciate that moms and dads don't have to be the same. We can love our parents for their strengths and hope our children can find ours as well.

Tyler is fortunate to come with many strengths and hardly any weaknesses. His girls adore him and I've never seen a man so spoiled on this holiday. We made him breakfast in bed, although he came downstairs to eat so he wouldn't spill the OJ. Then it was time for Daddy Stations.

(My kids are great at stations and this seemed like the perfect invention for pampering.)

Here is the shakedown. I'm sure you could make something similar with different numbers of kids and if your dad likes a little TLC. Station1: Youngification. i.e. pulling out Dad's white hairs. Station 2: The back massage. Station 3: One foot (rub, file nails, lotion, etc.) Station 4: The other foot. Station 5: Interviewer/Converser.

We switched every four minutes so everyone had a chance to do all the stations. It was fun to hear what questions were asked of Dad during the interview process.

We also brought in the calming animal. She loves Dad too.

After church came the important part. We had the annual Father's test. We have had other challenges in the past, but I think the Father's test will stick. I think the test will change each year, but we've decided that Dad has to earn his right to maintain 'father' status for the upcoming year. (I'm sure we would let him keep it either way, but it is fun to test him.) This year the test was to move everyone from one side of the lawn to the other side in their preferred method of transportation...all in under two minutes.

He negotiated for extending his time to three minutes and he got to choose what order he moved people. Modifications accepted.

Ready. Set. Go.

He moved me first. I requested that I stand on his feet and he dance me across. (Harder than it looks actually.)

Next up - Ivory. She chose to sit in the rocker and be moved like a queen. The rocker didn't make it, but Ivory did.

Daisy chose wheelbarrow style. Looking good.

Pearl and June requested shoulders. Tyler took the heavier cargo first. Wise choice. But he moved both expertly.

The last...well, I don't even know what to call what Robyn chose. She wanted to be upside down, with her hands on Dad's feet and Dad holding her legs. Strange, but it worked.

As he dashed across the finish line, we checked his time. 1:59. (I knew he could do it in 2 minutes.) Tyler has officially kept his 'Father' status. He is allowed to demand the Daddy Tax for another year.

The kids brought him cards and little gifts throughout the whole day. They kept thinking of fun creative ways to show their appreciation. I had no idea that they got the chalk out, but I was amazed by all the drawings that I found. Seriously, there was some serious effort that went into these. Sometimes I hate sidewalk chalk. It is so beautiful and so temporary.

The display of affection lasted right up until bedtime. The last event of the evening was an original song by Ivory and June. They put the alphabet on the keys of the piano and then 'played' a message for Dad.

The tune was a bit random, but it was very creative. After, we all played our names to hear how they sounded. I think 'Mommy' sounded the best. Although 'Bedtime' had a nice ring to it.

It was a wonderful Father's Day. A Father is a special person. We missed Barry today (Tyler wore pink socks) and we hope Dad Dargan had a good day in WA. Hugs to all the wonderful men in our life.