Wednesday, June 30, 2010

July is Crazy!

The month of July is going to be a crazy one for our family! Looking ahead, I'm not sure how we are going to survive. For the next couple weeks I'll be, hopefully, getting the house and appliances cleaned and organized. I also have to pack for our drive to Kansas. DR is taking a train back here to Illinois on the 10th and we'll pick him up. (Woo Hoo!) The movers will be here on the 12th and 13th to pack up the house. I'm getting the same guy that packed our house last time and boy was he fast so those should be two really good days. When the movers leave DR, the kids and I will be heading west. (God Help Us!!) Even though it only takes two days to drive out to our place in Kansas, the movers won't be arriving at our new house until sometime between the 17th and 20th. So...we have some time to kill.

What to do? Take a family vacation. Now, we've NEVER taken a long family vacation. The most we've ever done is camped three days over Labor Day weekend with my parents and siblings or a weekend road trip somewhere. Needless to say five or more days spent driving in a car and staying in hotels with DR and the kids will be.....interesting.......and most definitely a learning experience. We're planning on hanging around St. Louis for awhile and maybe trying to find a good family spot somewhere else in Missouri or Kansas to stop and check out.

I doubt I'll be around a computer, or even in the mood to post this upcoming month. I didn't want to leave you all with nothing to look forward to! Because, I know, my posts are the highlight of your day. (just kidding!) Anyway, I've got a Photo of the Day coming to you every day in July. Some are kid photos for the grandparents! My kids are the only reason my parents read my blog. I think. Some photos will be more "artsy" shots that I've taken in the last few months. Flowers, bubbles, windmills...stuff like that.

If you don't mind, please keep me and my family in your prayers this month. I'm already anticipating a lot of stress and hope it isn't going to be as bad as I think it is. When we finally settle down and get everything unpacked I promise I'll be back with posts on the move, Kansas, the new house, and the new town and hopefully lots of neat pictures too.

Have a Great July!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wild Monkeys Loose in the Midwest!

What are you two? Monkeys or Boys? Oh, right....they are the same!

Am I the Only Mom Who.....

Am I the ONLY mom who...

tells the toddler to stop eating dog food?
has to lift the toilet seat to make sure the little hobbits flush?
can't remember the last year I mopped my floors?
can't remember the last day I took a shower?
finds half full tippy cups under the couch with mysterious white chunks inside?
sometimes has an urge to sedate my kids?
potty trains kids by letting them run outside naked?
bribes farmers with cookies so my kids can ride in their combine?
really didn't enjoy all!
prefers teenagers and toddlers over infants?
can down an entire 2 litre bottle of Diet Pepsi...and then feels compelled to hide the fact from my husband?
can't adequately function without large doses of caffeine?
feels like I've spent the summer raising houseflies?
feels like this summer is already gone by too fast?
wishes I was deaf, or that my kids were mute?

Really, am I the only one?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Photo of the Day - Knothead the Dog

Knothead the Dog....I didn't name her.

This week's I Heart Faces photo challenge is pets.

Marker Monday - Pop Bottle Wind Sock

Here's a quick and fun summer craft. Cut a pop bottle in half and cover it with squares of tissue paper. I used watered down glue, painted it on the bottle, put the tissue paper on top and painted on more glue when needed. Glue streamers to the inside, add a string and there you go. Warning: Please take down before summer storms rip through...this wind sock, unfortunately, only lasted a day before torrential rains swept it away!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I love Irises

Sunday Devotions - "Wait upon the Lord."

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  ISAIAH 40:31

This plaque, with the verse Isaiah 40:31, was a wedding gift given to us from my grandmother. It is one of the first things I make sure gets put up on my walls when we move. The last few weeks have been stressful. DR has been in Kansas and I've been on my own juggling the last minute moving details, my own daily tasks and all the things DR does around the house; like mowing the yard. Even though there is a lot to do preparing to move, there are some days where I just feel as though we are waiting....and waiting....and waiting. It can be frustrating and emotionally draining. There are days I wonder how much longer I can wait before we finally get all this moving stuff DONE!

When I am at my most frustrated and pushed to my limits it is this verse that keeps me going with strength and joy. God is always with us. No matter the obstacle. No matter how hard or how far. When we wait with the Lord he gives us the strength we need. The strength of eagles! The strength to run as far as we have to run and never growing weary. We can never have that kind of strength on our own.

And yes, God gives us the strength (and patience) to wait! For me, waiting is more of an obstacle than doing...something, anything! I don't like to sit still. (I just heard my entire family's heads shake in unison!) But God has a purpose in waiting so I will wait...and God will be here to help me bear it.

Dear God, Thank you for giving us the amazing strength to face our most difficult obstacles; whatever they may be. Thank you for waiting with me Lord! Amen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yip and Yap's 1 Mile Fun Run!

I'm a big runner. I run about six days a week and occasionally I'll compete in races but I never blog about it cuz...what's there to write about?

Left, right, left, right, breathe, right, left, right....that would get kind of boring!

But this morning the boys and I ran a 1 Mile Fun Run in our little town's summer festival. We had a great time and it was one of the more entertaining races I've ever ran!

First of all, the boys needed to warm up! Great a playground conveneniently nearby.

And a bit of mental preparation. Here's their race faces. Yip was quite serious!

This is the first race I've ran where the runners were bussed to the starting line, which was out in the country. The boys were more excited about the bus ride than the race!

The boys ran ahead while I pushed Yahoo in the stroller and they kept looking back to talk!

"Are we doing good Mom? Are you still back there?
 Hey, that guy is really far ahead of us!"
"Wow! Was that a dead toad on the road?
 Let's stop and check it out!"

They did great and had fun! They received their participation certificates and showed them off.

"Mom, what's a parsipapation cerficate?"

Foody Saturday - Avocado Bread

Finally, the recipe you've all been waiting for! Well, probably haven't been waiting for this one but you'll sure be happy I gave it to you!

Avocado Bread! No, it isn't green but it is by far the moistest quick bread I've ever made. A perfect treat by itself, no condiments needed!

Avocado Bread

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
1 c. mashed avocado (about 2 avocados will do)
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/3 c. buttermilk (substitute 1/3 c. milk add 1 t. vinegar. Let sit 5 minutes before using)
Optional (I left these out)
1/4 c. nuts
1/2 c. raisins

Blend sugar, margarine, eggs and avocado well. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to mix alternately with buttermilk. Add nuts and raisins if desired. Batter will be stiff. Place into gresed loaf. (Leave some batter in the bowl to me!) Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Enjoy!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Black and White Photos of my Hobbits.

I Heart Faces, Fix it Friday

Fix it Friday, a day to edit a photo posted on I Heart Faces. A fun way to learn and experiment with photos.


My edits

Foody Friday - Pita Bread

Have you ever thought about making your own Pita Bread??  Yeah, me neither until I was in charge of a Vacation Bible School craft over the summer when I decided to make hummus with the kids served with pita bread. I cruised the Internet, practiced, made mistakes and now we eat pita bread all the time! The boys actually prefer it to bread.

Makes 10 pockets

1 1/3 c warm water
2T olive oil
1T sugar
1 1/4 t salt
2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/3 c all purpose flour
2 1/2 t yeast

Place ingredients into bread machine and program for DOUGH. When completed, divide into 10 balls and place on baking sheet and cover with a tea towel. Let rise for 20 minutes while oven preheats to 500.

***Flatten puffy balls gently into a 6 inch disk.

After I flatten the balls I flip them over before they go in the oven. Mine had a tendency to stick to the baking sheet if I didn't.

On uppermost oven rack bake for 4 minutes, flip over, and bake for an additional 3 minutes. I have found that different baking sheets affect baking time differently. So watch carefully the first few times you make them to figure out what cooking time works best for you.

Works great for salsa and  eggs...

...or a hamburger bun with Roasted Cabbage. Mmmm..

To make Pita Bread without the Bread Machine

With above ingredients, in a mixing bowl, mix water, sugar and yeast; allow to foam for 3-5 minuters. Add oil and salt, mix well. Mix flours together in separate bowl, add to liquids, mix til well blended. Place dough-ball in a well greased bowl, allow to rise in warm spot until doubled in volume. (I preheat my oven to warm and place covered dough in the oven and then turn it off to allow it to rise.) Continue directions from *** above.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lend Me Your Eyes...and don't buy that new camera, yet.

As I've been posting lots of pictures as I attempt to become a better photographer, a lot of you have commented that I have inspired you to take more pictures, edit more, or buy a new camera. Before you go fork over some of that hard earned cash bear with me (the art teacher) for just a few minutes.

I admit I would LOVE to get a new camera...I'm drooling over some Nikons right now but you don't need a fancy camera to take good pictures. Picasso often drew with crayons after all. It's not the tools you have; it's what you do with them. I'm not a great photographer by any means but I do know a fancy new camera won't make your photos better without knowledge of some basic artistic principals.

1. Background and Focal Point
A lot of times we'll click a scene without giving much thought to the focal point; the focus of the photo or to what is behind the focal point.
In this case the people in the cemetary are too scattered, looking different directions and not unified enough to be a strong focal point. The backround church windows and headstones are distracting. There are too many small shapes in this photo which keeps our eye too busy to focus on any one object.
This shot limits the focal point to one figure and one headstone. Even though there are other people and stones in the background, the size of Yahoo and the stone in the foreground keeps our attention without being distracted by the background.

2. Point of View
I know a lot of you are parents and of course we, as parents, take lots of pictures of our kids. How many times do you take a picture of your kids while you are standing?
I took this of the kids playing while I was standing up. It's okay but nothing to write home about.

For this one I climbed up on the seesaw to shoot down on Yip. Nice!

Here I was laying in the grass pointing up slightly at Yahoo. This is one of my faves! Try a new vantage point and you may be surprised at what you get.

3. Balance
There are basically two types of balance in any kind of artwork; symmetrical and assymmetrical. If you drew a line down the center of your picture and both sides of your photo are about the same then you have symmetrical balance.

If I drew a line down the center it would run roughly down the center of Yap's face. Each side would be almost a mirror image of the other.

Personally, I'm a fan of asymmetrical balance. I love to put my subject off to one side with negative space on the other. I find it makes a more interesting photo.
And another example of asymmetrical balance, simple but interesting background, and strong focal point.

4. Take More Pictures!!!
If you want to get better, no matter what kind of camera you have, simply take more pictures. It is amazing to me looking back over the photos I've taken in just the past six months how much better I've gotten at planning my photos before I shoot. Experiment! Break the Rules! Even though I've mentioned some guidelines above they aren't written in stone. Try new things! Maybe you like symmetrical balance..go for it! Don't like laying on the ground? Find your own point of view. One of my favorite photos was one I just pointed the camera at myself and clicked and had no clue how it would turn out.

One of the best things about digital photography is that it is much cheaper to make mistakes while you are learning than the old film cameras. You don't have to develop film now days to find your mistakes, just look at the screen. So keep shooting!! You can always delete it.

Good luck! Keep shooting and experimenting. Remember, it isn't the fancy camera you need...yet. Get everything out of that old point and shoot first. (And there is nothing wrong with editing photos!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reflected Sun

I was taking a walk last night and just happened to walk past the shed and saw the sun reflected in the window. I thought the bird nest was a nice touch.

Is this ART??

The other day I was kidless for a couple hours. I KNOW!!! Can you believe it?? Being kidless never happens. Anyway, I decided to do something I would NEVER do with my kids. Go to an antique store.

I love antique stores! I love how crowded things are. I love the dusty smell. I love the piles that you have to search through.  I love how paintings are leaned against the wall four or five deep. Going 'antiquing' is like a pirate's treasure may never know what you may find.

As I was flipping through some paintings, this one caught my eye.
An old west sheriff complete with his badge and gun. Neat! But...wait...

Something's not quite right....can you see it??

His mustache was fake hair glued onto the painting! Really?? Who thought that was a good idea?? Overall, it wasn't a bad painting but that ruined it for me!

So what do YOU think? Is it art? Or am I just an art snob?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

MOM!!! I'm ready to go to Kansas!!

What do you think?

 Is this a good solution to my Moving Dilemma?

She looks pretty comfortable, don't you think?

Moving Dilemma #2 - Yahoo

Moving Dilemma #2

What to do in the car with a 16 month old to keep her busy for 14 hours while driving to Kansas, when.... 

...she has a tough time just driving for two hours??
And no, driving all night probably won't be an option.

Should I.... a big bag of new toys to keep her busy?
...knock her out with Benadryl?
...ship her to Kansas UPS?
...leave her behind to live with the wolves?

Do you have any better (legal) suggestions?

Monday, June 21, 2010

90 degrees, 85% Humidity

90 degrees...85 % air conditioning...way out in the country....

Yeah, this is appropriate summer attire. (Once again, leaves added for our modest audience!)

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