Saturday, February 23, 2013

Arty Party

I got a little ahead of myself with those valentine posts.  I kinda sorta forgot to finish this birthday post.  Feeling scatterbrained much?

My baby turned 14.  But she's not growing up too fast, even though that's what I'm supposed to say.  Nor is she growing up too slowly (at least in my mind).  She seems just the right age.  Although I definitely do not feel old enough to have a 14-year-old.

But here I am, nonetheless.
We needed something simple this year, something easy to throw together.  No movie making.  No movie editing.  No photo shoots.  No movie star poster making.  I loved K's party last year.  More photos are here.  And the final post here.  But this year my party planning abilities had to be split between this birthday and a big young women's event, so we needed easy.

It's hard to get easier than art, so art we did.  We were going to do watercolor, but switched last minute to oil pastels.
Of course we drew on the walls.
These girls have some great artistic talent.
As does this guy, even though he protests that little fact.  He taught a mini lesson and produced this in 10 minutes flat.
Someday I am going to make him do some art for our walls.  Like it or not.
K was brave and drew a face.  I admire that.  All my faces come out looking like generic stick figure smiley faces.
Naturally, we played the taste the rainbow guessing game with skittles.  I think all of my children would agree to absolutely any party theme if only we played this game.  I do not understand why they love skittles as much as they do.

The cake turned out completely differently than anything I was expecting.  I guess that's what happens when you jump in with no vision.  And when you delegate the coloring of the frosting without giving color suggestions.  And when you sit down to decorate the cake and just stare at it blankly for 20 minutes before you begin putting random little swirly things all over.  When I was finished putting little swirls all over, I put some not-so-straight lines around the sides.  And then I added some more swirly things for good measure.
This is what I was left with.  It reminded me too much of B's first birthday cake (see here and here), so I decided I better make it a little more artistic.
So I smashed the little swirly things that I had just finished making.  I'm not sure it helped it look all that more artistic.  Just more smashed.  Which, again, reminded me too much of B's cake.
So then I painted on some food coloring here and there to make it look grungy . . . and therefore more artistic.  At which point I realized that nothing I was doing was making very much of a difference, so I better just leave it be.  So I did.  Voila!  Finished birthday cake.
I don't know what she wished for, but I hope it comes true.  At least, I think I do . . .
K was a little melancholy before her party.  She was really missing her posse of friends from California.  But I'm hopeful that she will continue to get to know these girls and build friendships with them.  They're a great group with tons of personality.
And because I don't already have enough going on and needed another thing to remember to do, I decided to start a new tradition with birthdays this year.  I want to list what I love about my family members, according to how old they are.
So, here are 14 things I love about K.

1)  The way she laughs when her little sisters do something she finds funny.
2)  Her craftiness.
3)  Her quick wit.
4)  The effort she puts into her studies and how responsible she is with her assignments.
5)  How she pets Ruger when he lays all over her because he adores her.
6)  The way she finds her dad totally hilarious.
7)  How she is not afraid to learn new things.
8)  Her budding culinary talents (seriously, I LOVE, LOVE them).
9)  The way her mind catches on to things so quickly.
10)  How she can enrapture her younger siblings by leading them in imaginative play.
11)  The way J looks up to her.
12)  Her strength of character.
13)  How she likes to spill all the details of her day, even when we're trying to do seven things and 
        listen to her all at the same time.
14)  Those hazel eyes and big, bright smile.
I'm looking forward to getting to know the dynamo this girl is becoming.  
How grateful I am that I can call her mine.  How grateful I am that I get to be her mom.

Happy Birthday, baby.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Valentine Outtakes

Here's proof of all the behind-the-scenes craziness that goes on with my photo shoots.  Unwelcome dogs, toddlers who tip over the entire backdrop set up, distracted children, etc., etc., etc.
Too-fast-for-the-camera movement.
 Downright odd they-think-they're-being-funny poses.

A random extra hand which provides some motivation to smile.
Just plain goofiness.
More unwelcome dogs.
An out of the blue blanket/tablecloth/ginormous glasses dress up session.
Which inevitably leads to someone dying.
Followed by resuscitation.

But somehow, in the middle of all this craziness, I usually get the shots that I'm after.  And if I'm very, very lucky, I get some that are even better than the ones I was after.  They're the ones that capture US.  The ones that put our love and our silliness and our humor on display.  The ones that will make us smile whenever we look on them until the end of our days.  So even though these are technically outtakes from my little valentine card shoot, they are the ones I ♥.

I ♥ my valentines!

A Crafty Valentine's Day

Going to the store with B is a nightmare.  She is a terror.  And always ends up screaming/crying/yelling at me the entire drive home.  So I try to avoid it at all costs.  This time the cost was making homemade valentines because I forgot to pick some up on a previous weekend grocery run.

I've seen these photo cards floating around in cyberspace for the last several years.  I've successfully avoided them until now.  But I admit, they weren't as bad as I was anticipating.  In fact, they ended up being downright fun.

I dug out my backdrop stand and hung up a red blanket in front of the bay window.  It's supposed to be a breakfast nook, or whatever you call it, but we don't have any furniture to put there so it remains a gloriously empty space.  Perfect for projects like this.

Have I mentioned how much I love having lots of good light?  Well, I love it.  I also love the fact that I don't have to rearrange half of my furniture to access aforementioned good light.  Indoor photo shoots were always sort of a pain in my old house.  Maybe that's a large party of why these were so surprisingly enjoyable.

I just copied the poses that other creative souls have posted online for people like me to imitate, and then brightened the photos and added text in photoshop elements.  Easy peasy.  The clever wording was also stolen borrowed from cyberspace.  If you think they're too cheesy, blame them.
Making the dimensions right so they would print out two cards per 4x6 picture was a little tricky.  My printer kept cutting off the white border around the edge, so the finished product turned out a little smaller than I was planning.  Oh, well.

Classmates were getting free candy, I didn't think they'd care if that candy was covering my kid's face a little or that the hand and the sucker stick didn't quite match up.
I didn't really need to make any for K or S or B.  But B was such a ham and insisted on getting her share of time in front of my lens, so I went ahead and made some for her to share with her nursery class at church.  I think K and S were just in it because it was kind of clever and they liked the idea of eating giving out candy.
J wanted to break out of the mold and do something a little more boy friendly for the boys in his class.  He said it needed to include a turtle.  So we looked through his turtle photos from last fall and picked one.  Fortunately for us, there was a clever valentine turtle saying on the internet.  It sort of brings it all together.  
We had an extra bag of Hershey's Nuggets in the pantry, but the boys in my life both assured me that I couldn't use them on the card because it would make everyone that saw it immediately think of turtle poop.  And that was no kind of valentine wish.  Since we were giving these to little boys who probably think more like my own two male wierdos than like me, I considerately used snickers instead.
So, now that Valentine's Day is over, my sweet little photo cards are in the trash along with the candy wrappers taped to them.  Success.

My valentine was out of town all week.  So instead of spending time with him, I was dreaming up ways to use up my leftover candy canes.
The chocolate turned out a little odd, but the kids were still impressed.  They're easy to impress when sugar is involved.

We usually have a family party for Valentine's Day.  This was no exception even if we were missing someone.  I think the highlight of the night was the game we played with those conversation hearts.  We learned some interesting things.  S will ask herself to marry her.  K's first kiss will be from Ruger, our dog.  B will text me.  J will say, "Hey, babe!" to his best friend at school.  And R will have a very long list of true loves.
Sweet J, realizing that I would be all alone for Valentine's Day, spent several hours making this elaborate pop out card for me.  How I love my boy, even if he can't quite spell Mommy.
When it was time to get Shaggy from the airport, I whipped up this brownie beauty.  Brownies, marshmallows, chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, drizzled chocolate.  Hard to go wrong.  We ate half of it on the drive home, to the great dismay of our trusty babysitters.

I guess there is an upside to avoiding the store.  It encourages me to get creative with what I already have in stock.