Thursday, May 31, 2012

{embrace the camera} first time

If you listen really closely, you can hear me take a deep breath here.

The truth of the matter is, I don't like being in front of the camera. As much as I love taking photos, I dislike having my photo taken. I do make an annual exception for my favorite photographer, who does wonderful shots of our little family. Other than that, there simply aren't any photos of me.

But miserably failing Rebecca's challenge to embrace the camera twice before Mother's Day and posting a photo of daddy and little brother instead got me thinking. I put so much time and effort into my annual photo books and documenting our lives, do I really want to refuse to be part of these memories?

I've started to experiment with my camera's self timer and I'm considering getting a remote for it, but since we're on vacation I took a deep breath and handed that camera over to my dearest (not without some detailed instructions, mind you).

After some more deep breaths, some editing with PicMonkey (you know PicMonkey, don't you? If you don't, you'll have to go check it out right now. Really, I insist) and a call to make an appointment for finally getting those roots done next week (I had no idea it was this bad, really), here I am, ready for my first ever embrace the camera post. Ready?

Little brother and mommy.

Now all I need to do is take another deep breath and hit publish. Here we go.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

{the simple things} flowering herbs

Summer is here. I always wish for that in January and February, but then it always takes me by surprise. But finally, summer really is here. It's sunny and warm, time for sandals, sunscreen and having dinner on the porch. Lovely.

So this week's simple thing are some humble flowering herbs in my garden. Nothing spectacular, just some plain old chives and thyme. You see, I don't particularly like anything purple, but my herb garden is the one exception to the rule. Thyme, sage, chives and so many other herbs have purple blossoms, and so they're allowed to take over that one flower bed.

I have to admit, it does look pretty.

What's your favorite color in flower beds? Do you plant by color at all? What about herbs?

Happy Sunday and thanks to everyone stopping by from the simple things - your comments mean so much to me. I love participating every Sunday.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Catching frogs

What happens when boys kiss frogs, anyhow? Do the frogs turn into beautiful princesses then? Too bad my boys decided they didn't want to kiss their latest catch, so I didn't get to find out.

They still had fun catching all sorts of critters with daddy though.

Little brother and I preferred watching.

So, what did you catch?

What do frogs say on the other side of the really, really big pond, btw? I know I must have known this, but it's been such a long time and I just can't remember. Over here they say "quak". Not the same, uh?

Let's see, what else did we get....

Fish! Don't worry, all the little guys went right back into their little pond. Really.

Little brother being silly. It was getting past someone's bedtime here...

So what did you catch lately?

Happy kissing,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

{the simple things} curls

One of the best part of the simple things sundays is to look through all the great photos posted. One of my (many) favorites are always the Dina's. Last week one of her photos featured this gorgeous head of curls, which reminded me that I haven't really taken a photo of little brothers just-about-to-vanish baby curls. While maybe not the best shot of curls ever (he was sitting on my lap eating banana bread and acting like a silly monkey), it's at least a reminder of his soft, oh so soft, blonde baby curls.

Needless to say I wish I had hair like that. Sigh.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

{kid craft} Quick Father's Day Idea

Yep, another quick one today. It's just another week spent running around from one activity to the next and oh, there's still things such as work and a household and all that. So we sat down Monday afternoon to do some crafting for daddy (who hopefully won't read this tonight so he'll be all surprised tomorrow). I came across this idea here and while I liked the look of the shoe prints, covering shoes with some sort of paint didn't seem like such a brilliant idea when you're pressed for time. Although I'm sure the brothers would have loved it.

Instead, we opted for tracing daddy's shoes and the brothers' feet onto card stock and cutting that out. Over here we have the same saying, but instead of your father's shoes, it's following in your father's footsteps. So even though we could hardly trace around daddy's feet without him noticing, I think the brother's cute little feet complete with cut off toes, courtesy of big brother, are really cute.

And basically, that's all there is. Trace, cut, arrange your design and glue it to a piece of paper. Now, you could get all professional and print something on it with a computer. But did I mention I was busy? And there was some sunshine out there, waiting for the brothers and their bikes? 

We ended up just writing "in daddy's footsteps" on the paper and the brothers wrote their names on it while I added the date. It was funny to see that big brother's foot is already half the size of daddy's!

So honey, if you are reading this: we love you lots and please, do act surprised tomorrow, ok?


Monday, May 14, 2012

April home projects update

"Update home projects page" has been one of those items that just keeps being overdue on my to do list, and since I use an app, it's also turned this nasty red color. Ugh. Things are busy right here and with a lot of things going on, I decided to spend two hours this morning trying to clear up some items from my list.

So I updated the projects list - until it hit me that I never even posted an April update. Ooops. Not that there's much to show for that month, because really, where exactly did April go? It was Easter and then some and all of a sudden it's mid May. May?? You've got to be kidding me. It's can't be May yet. But it is, and so I'm trying my best to play catch-up:

"Get the garden in shape! Especially one flower bed that contains a grass that blooms in June."
That one was fairly high on my list, mainly because I get one shot at it, and that is spring. I have so many bulbs in that flower bed and I can't possibly remember where, so any major planting has to be done in spring when the dandelions are out. Lucky for me, that was late this year. I finally managed to make a list of plants to fill in for that ugly grass, because really, who needs a grass turned yellow in July? Save that for September, but in July I still want nice, green and pretty plants. Sorry little grass if I'm being a little harsh here, but that's the way it is. I tried it, I really did, but come June and then July I get frustrated with all that fall feeling taking over my flower bed. So I got some more of my favorite plants, the ones that do well in other parts of the garden as well. Like miscanthus sinensis or my all-time favorite gaura lindheimeri. Love those. How can you not love a plant that keeps blooming from June to October?

So this here is the offending grass. Don't be fooled by it being all nice and green. It'll turn ugly and yellow in the middle of summer, I swear.

Of course by the time the plants arrived it had turned rainy and ugly again, but oh well. And of course it was after I had placed my order that I discovered some of my favorite plants hadn't made it through the winter, due to that nasty and really cold period in February. Sigh.

Here's the said flower bed, looking a little sad right after planting because obviously the new plants are still small and the dandelions are wilting. But you can tell that I took a bunch of the grass out.

"Remove Cortaderia selloana. It's just not working. Plant miscanthus instead." Did that one at the same time. Feels sooooo much better and I can't wait for the new grass to get bigger. I didn't even have to feel guilty about this, because both of my cortaderia plants did not make it through the winter.

"Kids's Bath: Reframe prints. I copied pages of a favorite book for art but framed them in red frames that while I'm sure are nice elsewhere in the house, just don't go with the room here."
I came across these really cute prints so adding those in the existing frames might just as well work for now. 

"Hallway: Hang art. Preferably something uplifting and calming as this is where we try to get the kids out the door in time each morning... "
I never did take a picture of it, but I used this one here:

"Hallway: Maybe get a new rug. Not sure I'll get the old one clean after all that yellow sand from paving. Yuck."
Never did get it clean. So we got a new one. The brothers are delighted since it features a cat. I think it's a little bit too crazy and silly for me, but hey, it's cheerful and it really warms up the hallway. 

"Outside: Clean and refill sandbox and re-cover surrounding area with new mulch." Did that. Lots of it, and also lots of new sand. Which ends up everywhere. Sigh. Maybe I need to be decluttering sandbox toys, because the way they have them all over the sandbox within a nanosecond of being outside, they can't even sit in there anymore. But at least now there is some new sand under all those toys...

So here we go, finally the April update. Not sure I'll get much done in May, but maybe some more outdoor things and also the hubby has been painting away outside. We're getting there. One project at a time. Which is why I love this list - it really does make me look at all the things we got done. Now if I only managed to update it more frequently...

What's been on your list lately? What's been on it forever? And what felt really great to cross off?

Can't wait to hear.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

{the simple things} a hug for daddy

Little brother is just not a morning person. Especially when he's slept a little longer and on top of that didn't have a big dinner, so by the time breakfast comes, he's starving. And cranky. Quite cranky, actually.

This photo has actually been taken on Easter morning, but I haven't had a chance to share it yet. Little brother wasn't in the best mood for the egg hunt - one thing too much between him and his breakfast I guess. So once we got a few eggs, he preferred to go inside and make breakfast with daddy.

When they had the rolls in the oven, daddy got a huge big hug. Awwwwww....

Linking up with the simple things today.

I have to admit that I failed miserably at the challenge to actually have a photo of myself twice before Mother's Day. I don't even have one. Maybe I need to make this a challenge here on my blog, like a self portrait once a month or so. Any other advice on getting out from behind the camera? Experiment with self timer? Give a photography crash course to your loved ones so maybe they take a decent shot of you? Or simply stop worrying about whether you like a photo of yourself or not and just focus on the fact that there should be some photos of mommy, too? What has worked for you?

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

On taking way too many photos of a natural swimming pool

I don't know what it is, but for some reason my only two kid-free mornings per week seem to disappear lately. I'll be planning to do all sorts of birthday card writing, sewing and just plain getting the house back to some sort of order after a busy week, and all of a sudden something else comes up.

Like this week. After spending most of Monday at my doctor's office (waiting, mind you. The actual appointment took less than five minutes), I had all sorts of stuff piling up on my to do list. So while I knew my dearest had an appointment on Friday to deliver a large-scale clock to a natural outdoor swimming pool nearby, I didn't realize that had anything to do with me. Until Thursday night. "So, you're coming with me tomorrow to take some pictures?" he asks over dinner. Uhm, well, I had other plans, but.... "Sure", I reply. What else can I say?

Of course the company hired to actually hang the clock did not get that done while I was there. Bummer. So while the guys were discussing technical stuff, I went off exploring with my camera. Truth be told, I haven't been inside the pool area yet. It's been open for two years now, but since there is this great (and free) water playground right in front of it, the kids and I went there on hot days.

This is the tower that the clock is supposed to hang on.

There was quite a thunderstorm the night before, so there were water drops on all the plants.

This little sunflower here actually has solar panels on the other side and turns to where the sun is. Not all that much luck on Friday.

I just love wooden decks. And I love how the wood that's already turned gray gets it's natural color back once wet.

Can you tell I had fun with the macro setting and the water drops? (Warning: this is not the last shot of those)

The inside of the tower looking up.

Someone help me with the English term for these, if there is such a thing. But it does look like a beach vacation, doesn't it?

And here we go, another water drop photo. Last one, I promise (not that there aren't another gazillion of them I chose not to publish).

We came back today to check if the clock is up yet, and it is. Yay! Note the brothers checking it out with daddy. In case you can't see it: It's that red thing at the tower, showing time, water temperature and (brrrrrrrrr!!!!!) air temperature. Which was at a freezing 11 degrees celsius today, which is quite a drop from yesterday. Did I mention I was cold? Freezing? Maybe wearing socks and boots instead of bare feet in ballet flats would have been a good idea, but those didn't match by brand-new bright red jacket I found on sale last week. I'll have to show you, well, that is if I can convince someone to take a good enough photo of me to post it. Anyhow.

I love the simple, clean lines of the architecture. Like brushed metal letters on untreated wood. Actually, I think I want a number on my house like that. Maybe a little smaller...

So this is the view as you walk up to the pool's entrance. And even if you can't tell from the photo (hey, I'm not a product photographer), you can read the time (or temperature) from this point. Which made a certain someone very happy.

The brother's didn't care at all though. They wanted daddy to take them around the water playground in one of the rafts. Mommy wanted to go home. As I said, I was freezing. Well, guess who won.

Funny thing is, we were at this playground, meeting with friends on a beautiful warm and sunny Sunday morning precisely one year ago. It was so warm the kids all got wet. Really, really wet. So here's to hoping the sunny (and warm please!) weather comes back soon. Maybe I'll eventually get a better shot of this little guy here, a wooden wale with a build-in fountain.

So hey, you made it. Over here it's been really, really busy, and next week is no exception. Until things calm down somewhat, you'll have to forgive me for compensating my lack of posts with posting way too many photos. Way too many photos without much of a story to go with them, but hey, I really liked them too much to just leave them in the archive.

Well, big brother will be back from swimming lessons soon, and I promise I'll try to avoid crashing into bed at 8pm tonight (like I did yesterday) so I can post something for tomorrow's simple things.

Meanwhile I'd like to know if you've ever been to natural swimming pool. Are there any where you live?

Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 7, 2012

{kid craft} flower birthday cards

I'm trying to teach my kids to be thoughtful. To be old-fashioned maybe. If it's someone's birthday, you bake a cake (or a cupcake), you pick flowers and you write a card. You might even make a little gift. It's not about the money you spend, it's not about showing that you care. It doesn't matter if you're invited to a party or if someone is likely to think of your birthday. It's the way we do things around here.

So we made cards for some upcoming birthdays. These would also make lovely Mother's Day cards.

My boys not being big on drawing, we decided to do simple pop-up cards. We cut slits in a plain white card, folded them in and glued another plain card to the back to hide the cuts.

The brothers punched out flowers, but of course you could also make your own. Except that it would have taken us until midnight to finish a single card then. Besides, they were fascinated with the hole punches.

Glue the flowers on your popup stems.

And color some grass, sky and such around. They weren't too motivated about this, but they did try.

More flowers to be added.

Big brothers finished card. Well, almost finished, we also wrote some birthday wishes on it and he added his name. Don't you love the green clouds?

We also used some flowers to decorate the front of the card.

Little brother decorating his card.

Big brother ended up making a popup drawing, too. Those are cats, in case you didn't immediately notice. Their ears are folded back, he told me. Oh, and they're cut with pinking shears because that makes it looks like fur. Ah. Ok.

The boys are excited about giving out their homemade cards. And that makes me happy.