Friday, August 30, 2013

35:52 Our table at mealtime

Ahh, the family table at meal times.
Is yours like mine?

Our table at mealtime is not a lot of things.
It is not...
One: Beautiful.  We often eat off of mismatched dinnerware. And I don't have time to wonder if food tastes better when it's presented well.
Two: Quiet.  Five kids in our house means noise, especially at the table.
Three: Orderly.  I usually forget to grab either the milk, our glasses, an extra fork, or the paper towels. And I have not yet learned the trick to keeping my kids' bottoms on their seats without the use of rope.

our table at mealtimes is a lot of other things.
One: Beautiful. We are all together.  And that is more beautiful than anything I could set the table with.
Two: Joyous. The noise is a wonderful thing. I hear all about the school day, new friends, and what everyone is looking forward to.
Three: Significant.  The table is our gathering place - where all the beauty, chaos, and joy of our family unfolds.

35:52 The table at mealtime
It's who gathers here that is most important.
Lets see what Leann's table looks like at mealtime.

Friday, August 23, 2013

34:52 Worth a Thousand Words

I like words.
While I would love if my pictures would speak for themselves, I often want to add some of my own words to them, to explain, whether it's necessary or not.

And actually, I do that for everything else too, give too many words.

But, back to pictures...
I'm realizing that what I want is for my pictures to tell the story, to capture emotion, and evoke feeling.
I'm not sure if I'm accomplishing that; so I just keep snapping pictures.

For me, that means lots of photos of the everyday life with my kids.

34:52 Worth a Thousand Words

Elaina gets the most serious expression on her face when she's "reading" with Aubrey.

We've started calling her our firecracker.  She's a little spitfire!  And she loves to be involved, to do whatever her siblings are doing.
We said goodbye to the high chair and sippy cup long ago, because she was going to eat where and like her big brothers and sister do.
If Donovan spreads butter on his own bread, by gosh she's going to spread her own butter too!
Her sobs at being intentionally left out are heartbreaking; it's a very big deal to her.

And speaking of her keeping up with the big kids...I'm going to give a bunch more words because I have to tell you this story.
So all summer long (and last school year) Elaina tagged along with Brant and Donovan, doing whatever they did.  They rode bikes, so did she.  They drew pictures, so did she. If they went pee, she did too - by pulling up her shirt and pushing her belly out while standing in front of the toilet.

While we were on one of our family excursions recently, Elaina came along with Aubrey and I on one of our potty breaks.  She observed us sit down and well, you know, pee.  She was absolutely befuddled!  She walked around and around the vault toilet signing and saying "where? where?".  When Aubrey and I realized she was looking for the certain male anatomy - on us - we died laughing!

Oh boy, she might be difficult to potty train!
Anyone have a girl toddler willing to come hang out for a while and show Elaina how it's done? :)
And goodness, but I now wonder how many times she's stood in front of the toilet, looked at the boys then at her own belly button, and wondered why she's built so differently from them!    

For more fun reads, continue around the circle.  Happy Friday!                                

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Multitude of emotions

As much as I enjoyed having my kids home with me this summer, I've enjoyed the quiet days with three of them gone to school even more.

We are in the second week of school, and I have to admit that it's like a breath of fresh air.
Having five at home all day every day this summer started to wear on me.  I didn't have the energy for the week day trips that I thought we'd do since we were busy running every weekend, and busy with summer piano and band.  That left me feeling stuck.  Because who willingly goes to the store with five kids in tow?

It also left me feeling slightly guilty once they were out the door and in someone else's care for the majority of the day.  I doubt I was really present as often as I should have been.
Ah, the multitude of emotions of mothers!

Now that I have more quiet during the day, I hope it means I'll continue to have more patience for the older kids in the evenings, more energy to carve out time to give them one-on-one attention.

For me, the question of whether I'm giving my kids enough is always lingering.

I'll listen to the advice I myself have given, and know that because I'm asking it'll mean I'll try, and that's all you can do as a mother - try to do your best.

With Donovan's best play mate gone to school, I'm getting a chance to connect with him more.
And I'm loving it.  He's such a sweet, bright, and funny kid.

He just turned four, has been riding his bike without training wheels for a few months now, builds forts out of blankets and chairs daily, still tells me when he has to go potty, and loves to help me clean.  
And he's currently saying "Mom, I want to play hockey with you".

So I'm off to make another attempt to be present, to connect with my child while I have the chance.
And then it'll be one down, four to go. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Baby Toes and Newborn Scent

This past weekend I had the privilege of snuggling, cuddling, and photographing my one week old niece.

Seriously, is there anything cuter than newborn toes?

I am in love with these next two images!

This newborn stage is so fleeting!  If I could capture their scent I would!  I guess I'll have to be satisfied with images of wrinkles and downy soft hair instead.  They will have to tide me over for the next month until I can see her again.

She is so precious, I had the hardest time packing up and saying goodbye.

Congrats again guys, on your sweet little bundle of love!

Friday, August 16, 2013

33:52 Inspiring

This one made me think.
What inspires me?

I find people inspiring.  Other's actions and art often inspire me to be creative or act a certain way.  That doesn't seem tangible enough to photograph though.

I find nature inspiring.  The beauty that surrounds me often directly affects my mood.  I like absorbing the tranquility of nature, the vividness of it.

I find my children inspiring.  I delight in discovering their personalities - seeing their stubborn streaks and their gentle spirits shine through.  I enjoy watching them grow up and see the people they are becoming.


Children are wonderfully adaptive, positive, and persistent beings.
Take this girl for instance, my oldest daughter.
She picked up the oars and paddled our kayak shortly after I took this picture.  She brought us from one side of the reservoir to the other, awkwardly dipping the oars deep in the water, struggling to keep us on a straight path. After a while, she gave a dramatic sigh and slumped her shoulders. I thought she was going to give up, especially seeing as how I was videoing it all and laughing hysterically rather than helping her; but then she picked up the oars and kept at it.  
She persevered.

She inspires me.

Let's go see what inspires the very creative and talented able mabel.

Friday, August 9, 2013

32:52 Clouds

This cloud's silver lining was very apparent.  It literally spilled out of California's gray, overcast sky.

Head on over to Leann.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Gallery walls and craigslist

I must be the queen of procrastination. Or have Project ADD. Or something.
I decided a couple years ago that I'd love a gallery wall in our house. I collected frames and artwork and piled them on top of the sitting room shelf. And I left them there.  For a long, long time.  I don't know what to blame. My creative mind coming up with more projects before I finish the ones I've started?

Anyhow, I love spray paint.
It helped me transform my many miscellaneous and mismatched picture frames to one unifying color.

I also love craigslist.
It helped me transform my sitting area off the dining room.
Actually, I can thank Craig and his list for much more than my sitting area.  Most of our living room furniture, bookshelves, dining room furniture, and appliances were bought used off of craigslist.  Call us cheap if you'd like, but I prefer to think of myself as practical and unfussy.
As a result of our cheap unfussy furniture, I have no guilt about changing up things (not that I do it often anyway).  I hardly ever lose more than a few bucks since I just resell items on craigslist.

This "sitting area" of ours has seen a lot of changes and different pieces of furniture.  When we moved in, it held a monstrous rock wall and shelf. We tore that out and for a long time we had an unfinished, waiting for texture, sheetrocked wall. We also had an unsightly diagonal chimney pipe running out of the stove for longer than I care to admit.  Eventually, I rolled some paint on the walls, Dean straightened the pipe, and I put a big shelving unit and one chair in this space.
It wasn't really working for our family of seven, as we hang out in this area more often than the living room.

So when I found a like-new sofa listed, I jumped on it.
I couldn't be happier with the new look, and I wonder why I waited so long to make this space work better for us.

I don't think I'd trade my family art wall for any Da Vinci or Picasso piece.  As beautiful as the professional paintings are, they don't mean half as much to me as our own art.
Besides, I have my own little budding artists.
Check out my son's version of Starry Night and another's summer-vacation-inspired painting of himself biking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

This gallery wall stuff is kind of addicting! And the kids love that their work is up in frames.
I've still got some spray paint left...Now, I'm sure I have some more frames lying around here somewhere...

Friday, August 2, 2013

31:52 (Two-wheeled) Travel

You've probably guessed this...we love biking as a family.  It's our favorite way to travel together.

Granted, we can only go as far as my five year old can go...
but he loves biking and usually outlasts the toddlers riding in the bike seats.

31:52 Travel

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~ Ernest Hemingway