June 30, 2013

June Review... and it's actually on time!

June has been an eventful month for us.  Yet we still found a few moments to do what I like best about summer, wasting time just being together.  This page off Nana's calendar just about sums up my philosophy on summer months.

It seems April showers made way for May showers that have continued on into June.  It has been such a rainy time.  Every day this week we had a thunderstorm right around 3:15.  No worry though.  We love storms.  When we are indoors we miss our time outdoors but we have lots of other fun activities to fill the time.
Reading and games.  Sewing and scrap booking.  Writing.  Planning our upcoming trip and Brianna's graduation.  

Carmella is thrilled with the towers she can build now.  She cracks me up when she puts the top on and claps for herself.
One of the sister's favorite things to do indoors is play dress up.  They involve just about everyone else in this game, too.  I love how all the little girls come to our house and head straight to the nursery where they start putting on dress up clothes.
You know there had to be food in there, didn't you?  At dinner one night we were trying to recreate a dessert we had at the Prime Time Cafe at Disney Studios.  Any suggestions let me know!
I don't know what got into Allen!  One Saturday morning he went to the butcher shop and came back with a box of doughnuts.  The bakery and butcher shop conveniently share a parking lot.  We never buy doughnuts.     Allen put one on a plate and handed it to me with a cup of coffee.  I pointed out how many carbs are in a doughnut and he said, "I never do anything spontaneous.  And this time I did.  NOW EAT THE DOUGHNUT." 

 I ate the doughnut.  For future reference though, if you are going to bring me a doughnut I'd much prefer a nice simple plain doughnut.  Like a Cruller.
The girls are working on a special video project featuring the women they love.  One Saturday morning, actually the doughnut Saturday, we had the pleasure of visiting with some sweet women and their daughters while the girls taped some segments.  

They are still looking for recruits so if you would like to get in on this project leave me a comment and they will contact you with the simple details.  You do not need to be here to take part.  Just have a camera and an email address.  

 After taping their footage, the girls gave a crochet lesson to this amazing young woman.  While I am at it, can I say what a blessing it is to know young women, like Maddy, who are so devoted to making their life count for the Lord?
A friend of ours from church is always bringing the kids the wackiest gifts.  She brought these glasses to Ellie last summer.  Carmella recently happened upon them.  Well, she loves glasses and she loves birds so these are just enough over the top to suit her perfect.  They happen to match her flamingo outfit, too.
On one of those rainy days... Elisabeth drug out the rubber stamps and a pile of paper.  She sat down at the kitchen table.  If Ellie is doing anything Carmella wants to be part of it.  I looked over at the table and Mella was happily stamping away.  When she realized she had blue fingers she was more than a little disturbed.  In case you are wondering blue ink pad will come off the dining room table if you rub long enough and hard enough.  A few days in the pool gets it off the baby.
Winnie's baby pool is a happening place around here.  One morning we went out and there was a shrew floating in there.  He was immediately evicted.  Another morning we found this toad in there.  The kids thought he was neat so he got to stay.  
Nathaniel built Cair Paravel by the pool one afternoon.
And we are enjoying the beginning of harvest in our garden.  Have you ever grilled beets before?  Amazing!  The boys are growing purple carrots this summer, too.  They taste much like regular carrots.
We also had the delight of having some friends into dinner one evening.  We grilled the beets and carrots and shared a bushel of crabs.
So there is a crop of paper bags in my flower bed.  This is what happens when you home school.  I have planted Lupine at least three times over the years and never had success in growing them.  This year they took off like crazy.  They were absolutely gorgeous.  Aedan and Kaitlin did some research and found out they grow like wild flowers and are impossible to kill.  That explains why I couldn't grow them.  It took me years to get mint to grow, too.  Anyway, apparently if you don't nip the buds off when they die lupine will reproduce very quickly and  take over everything.  The  kids decided they wanted to harvest the seeds and scatter them to fill up the woods where the trees were taken down last year.  Except, that you have to leave the pods on the plants until they dry or you can't harvest the seeds.  And so my ingenious ones came up with this idea.  The bags will allow the pods to dry and open up releasing the seeds without letting them take root in my gardens.
In the meantime, the yellow Calla Lily Samuel gave me last Mother's Day is doing beautiful this year.  I love this shade of yellow.
The kids were camping last week.  With the house all to herself, Carmella decided it was her chance to get in on the game of Monopoly.
Aedan captured a caterpillar and the kids had a blast watching him build a cocoon and emerge into a butterfly.
The lilies around the pool are so tall they reach over the top of the fence.   All this rain has been fabulous for the gardens!  I love not having to water.
Nathaniel has learned a lot from "Martha"  For our date last Saturday night he set a beautiful table on our deck complete with candles, music and roses from the garden.
He had a little help with this super moon.  It was a breathtaking sight to watch it come up and rise over the trees as we munched on olives and cheese.
We began work on our green house project by having the concrete foundation laid this week.  Addison was the first to make his mark.  I love my hubby's enthusiasm.  It's not enough to have a major house project in the works.  We are also building a new shed, chicken coop and a green house this summer.

Carmella is loving fireflies this year.  She took a jar to bed with her the other night.
What did I say the other day?  All the pictures of Addison and I involve us sleeping.  I think he is an unknown cure for insomnia.  The other morning we were laying on my bed playing and before I knew it he started dozing.  Just watching him sleep makes me sleepy.  A nice time was had by all.
And there you have it!  A month in review before two months has passed us by.  Not bad, if I do say so myself.  Tell me now, what was your favorite moment of June?

June 29, 2013

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside
Till I look down on the garden green
Down on the roof so brown-
Up in the air I go flying again
Up in the air and down!
Robert Louis Stevenson

June 28, 2013

Safety Frog

Our kids love to target shoot with bow and arrow.  The compound bow is strictly kept for target shooting and not to be used as a toy.  To compensate for play time, they made bows out of PVC pipe a few years ago.  The arrows are made out of dowl rods topped with eraser caps and decorated with colored electric tape.  They are actually great little bows and I am impressed at how well they shoot real arrows.
Allen tends to be a worrier when it comes to our kids and safety and stuff.  He has never fully fell into my step when it comes to letting the kids learn from a few scrapes and bruises.  But he has grown more to my way of thinking over the years and will now look the other way many times.  Sometimes we just compromise.  For example, the kids can have their bows and shoot target with a BB gun but when shooting they must always wear safety goggles.

Arrows don't come cheap and with so many archers around and so many woods to loose arrows in, we try to be diligent to gather them up after each session.  Still, our boys love to shoot arrows up into the air and see if they can get them over the power lines.  We have a lot of arrows get stuck up in the trees, never to be seen again.  When we see this we do try to remind them to mind their arrows.

So as I said, we try to instill some safety into our boys' lives, but mostly we try to stay out of the way and let them be boys and learn from their own experiences.  The other day Allen was in the back yard and he saw Aedan and Elisabeth shooting arrows into the maple tree.
"You are going to lose your arrows," he warned.

Aedan was quick to answer, "Oh no, Pa.  It's okay.  Sam's up in the tree."

Ellie chirped up with, "We are shooting at him so the arrows won't get lost."

Before Allen could order Sam out of the tree, his little Sammy voice joined in from parts unseen to say, "Don't worry, Pa, I have my safety goggles on."

2 points for Sam to remember the safety rule.

2 points for Aedan and Ellie for keeping track of their arrows.

2 points to Pa for walking away with a smile on his face.

June 27, 2013

Playing Around

I haven't had much time to really learn the settings on my replacement camera. There are lots of fun features, or so they tell me.  One day we were hanging out by the pool and Carmella and Elisabeth looked so sweet just sitting on the step chatting with each other.  I grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots.
I love watching these two play together.  
Carmella says "Ellie" in the cutest voice imaginable.
And first thing each day she zooms in on her big sister and follows Elisabeth around
She copies everything Ellie does 
They will spend an entire morning in Kaitlin and Brianna's closet trying on scarves, high heel shoes and jewelry
A lot of times I look at them and I am reminded of when I was expecting Carmella and Elisabeth was looking forward to her little sister
Were these the moments she dreamed of?
Do you all remember that little nightgown Ellie put in Carmella's drawer before she was even born?
Since Carmella was born at a puny 5 pound something, she has worn that size 2T nightgown. You can see it on her here.   Winnie still wears it.  But now it actually fits.  And it makes both of them so very happy.
So I wonder, what was going on in Elisabeth's head when she prayed for a sister and does she sense every day how much the Lord has answered her prayer?
As I started out to say, I was playing with some of the special effects settings on my camera.  Black and white and sepia are definitely my favorites.  Even over color for just about everything.
But just to see what they did I snapped some shots on other settings.  This is called painting.
They are both such big hams and they were having so much fun just hanging out that I had two very willing models for about 30 minutes.
Do you see how Carmella is completely engrossed in everything Elisabeth has to say?
This is miniature.  Quite frankly, I don't think it made the subject look miniature, do you?
This is called pop color
Again. I don't know why they call it that.  Perhaps the more neutral tones, like the wood of the fence, are softer?
No matter what it is, love my adorable little girls.
In the last 6 months our tiny little Carmella has grown by leaps and bounds.  I love her fat little arms and legs.
This is what they call partial color.
It reminds me of old movies and Kim Anderson portraits.  And my dear Aunt Jean, who always wore the reddest of lipstick.
In playing with settings, I accidentally hit some button.  And the camera was set on continuous shoot.  So I actually have 50 or so shots of each picture.  And when you flip through them really fast, it looks like a movie.  In the bright sun, I couldn't see the review screen very well so I had no idea what was coming up on the camera.  Apparently, I took 50 or 100 shots of this fence and Carmella's bathing suit coming in and out.  I love the little peek of pink on this one.
When I was in school I studied photography.  I also did a short stint working for a professional photographer.  I loved that.
Back then we used film.  Does anyone remember film?  The idea of digital photography was like a concept from a science fiction novel.
To get this sort of effect we took black and white photos and then spent hours in a dark room messing around with developers, lights and paint brushes.
Yeah, paintbrushes.  I would spend hours with a paintbrush and negatives touching up negatives for special effects like these.  In many ways it seems photography is a lost art.  Except, I look at amazing photos, like my friend Susan does, and I see that it isn't lost, it's just different.
This is called "soft high key emphasizing bright areas".  I would say it just looks washed out.  But perhaps if I had the right subject I would find a good use for it?  That's where the art part comes in.  Having an eye to put all these amazing new tools to the best use.
This watercolor setting is fun.  I bet it would be a blast on the beach.
And I have no idea what you would use the "Illustration" setting for
But doesn't it make Ellie look like a kitty cat?
No matter what setting you must agree it doesn't get much cuter than this little bit of pink fluff on Carmella's derriere
And while I am completely rambling on... my mints are all doing amazing this year.  I guess they like the crazy weather.
The kids are enjoying the bounty with many pitchers of mint tea in the afternoons.
They like to grab bits and munch on it right off of the plant.  I can always tell when they have been nipping because they smell so sweet.  Mint always makes me think of my grandmother, Carmella.  She loved mint.  She used it in much of her famous cooking.  Especially in meat and pasta dishes.  I think that's what made her meatballs so much better than the rest.  Just that little touch of mint.  You'd never know it was there but they sure are amazing with it in the bowl.
I deleted hundreds of photos from that afternoon.  And I thought I had really narrowed it down.  Imagine my surprise when I hit upload and saw there were still 35 left!  If you have made it far enough through this post to know that give yourself a pat on the back and a great big hip-hip-hooray!

Thanks for listening.  I needed that today.