Tackling 365 Again.

Some of you might remember that I used to participate in the 365 Project. For about 3 years I attempted to take at least one picture every day, in an attempt to better my photography skills via repetition and inspiration. It totally worked. Aside from the peer pressure to take more pictures, I got to know a lot of photographers really well and was inspired by their photos to take more, better pictures. I developed friendships while developing my skills and it was totally worth it.

But after a few years I burned out on the project and for the most part I still continued to take pictures but over the years my dedication and inspiration has dwindled. Which I guess is fine but when 365 warned me that my account would be deactivated soon, I found I couldn’t let it go just yet. For funsies, I uploaded some upload worthy pictures from January.

365jan

Now I adore all of these pictures but I was a little disappointed to see how few of them there were. To be fair: On most of those days I took quite a few pictures. I’m trying not to cheat just yet and choose only one best photo for each day. But look at all of those days that I either took no pictures or took no pictures worth uploading. I can do better than this. I want to do better than this.

So here is my photo for February 1st:

A portrait by BB, Age 5
A portrait by BB, Age 5

May there be many more to follow.  I know my time constraints are larger than usual but I think with a little effort that I can do this again and find my inspiration and motivation to click more.

Do you 365? Leave me a message with your profile name or a link to your profile so I can follow you! You can follow me here.

First Day of School: Kindergarten and 3rd Grade!

first day

Monday was their first day of school. It was a morning full of firsts – her first day of kindergarten, their first day at a new school, my first time being a mother of two school aged kids with more spare time on her hands than she knows what to do with. 

Despite my grievances about waking up so early, we were all up on time, dressed and fed and had time to spare for mommy to take an incessant amount of pictures of her babies before the first day of school. I used these cute printables from Modern Parents Messy Kids. My pictures didn’t come out very readable so I included a handy translation in the photo above.

kindergarten

Remember when we were moving halfway across the country and I was seven months pregnant with my 2nd child? Remember when we bought our first house and were frantically putting baby gates everywhere because she was learning to crawl up the stairs but couldn’t get back down? Remember sleep training and homemade baby food and potty training (you know, yesterday) and strollers and … How is this girl of mine already five years old, in school full time – a big, brave, resilient kindergarten girl?

She was all smiles Monday morning, all bravery. She painstakingly picked out that first day of school outfit – mommy had no say in the matter aside from “You absolutely have to wear leggings with that dress because it’s too short even though this is literally the first time you’ve worn it.” I knew better than to ask, “Really? Those leggings?” On a grown woman like myself, this outfit would send me to the looney bin but she is working it out like a fashionista champ. 

That morning she wrote down that she wants to take care of butterflies when she grows up. I had a hard time turning that plan into two words so I ended up helping her spell out “a butterfly take care of” – and then realized that wasn’t really a coherent thought but her attention had waned and we moved on.

BB had a fantastic first day of school – all smiles from beginning to end, if a bit completely exhausted by 3pm. She made new friends, adores her teacher and had no reservations today either when I dropped her off for day two. Mommy had a few moments over the past two days of “What am I supposed to do with myself? Where are my babies? I don’t know what to do with my hands!” but mostly we’ve both been okay.

3rd grade

This year he starts 3rd grade and he has had his reservations about starting over in a new school but his amazingly friendly, outgoing personality will take him far. The curriculum this year is likely to be quite a bit more challenging than what he’s used to but so far he’s risen to the occasion. Going into the new classroom he actually already knew four or five of his classmates from karate class and I think this is helping a lot. 

The first morning he was pumped up about getting back to a routine and more importantly getting to hang out with his friends every day, even when mom wants to be boring and do nothing that day. His only real moment of hesitation was when I asked him “What do you want to be when you grow up?” as we filled out those signs and he teared up, not knowing exactly what answer to give. I assured him there was no wrong answer and he eventually settled on rocket scientist because obviously.

He’s already successfully completed his first day of homework which was mostly reading and memory work but the memory work is new to him and I was very proud and impressed with how well he did with it. Crossing my fingers for a challenging but engaging school year for him!

Both kids have really great teachers and seem excited about the school year. We’re crossing our fingers that the new school will continue be a good change for our family!

When do your kids go back to school? 

What do you do with your hands when your kids aren’t there to pull you backwards and sideways through the supermarket?

 

love thursday: the loves of my life

I’ve been all about getting more family pictures lately – usually our pictures are just of one or two of us – and I still don’t have any of all four of us, but between this photo shoot and this one, we’re close. I secretly adore the realness and imperfections of these pictures. Sure, I wish the baby wasn’t crying – but at the same time, was she likely to do anything else with a grabby three year old holding onto her not so gently? He tried, but seriously. I do love all of MM’s goofy faces and Dan’s expression in the last one just says it all – we may be sleep deprived and occasionally weepy, but we are still… filled to the brim with love.

Love Thursday is the brain child of Chookooloonks. Check out her post today for more thoughts on love, and the comments section for other people playing along.

52 Weeks: Mother(oftwo)hood

It’s not easy cramming three people into a self taken picture but we tried. Well, I tried. For the most part, MM was not the least bit helpful as he thinks the picture taking happens at the wrong end of the camera… But here are two that came out well and one that I love in spite of it’s obvious imperfections.

~*~

52 Weeks is a year long challenge for YOU, hosted by Forever in Blue Jeans, to be in a picture once a week for 52 weeks. We are always the ones behind the camera, this is YOUR chance to get out in front and be in the pictures with our family. We are glad you are joining this challenge. More importantly your family will really enjoy having you in the picture. Thanks for playing along! Oh, you can just jump in now with 1 of 52, you’re not getting off that easy! Now go take a picture!

52 Weeks: On The First Day Of Cloth Diapering…

My true love said to me…

She looks like a Sumo Baby…

We took these pictures the first day we started cloth diapering. The admitted cuteness of those diaper covers is pretty much the only highlight to this CDing thing for me right now. But it’s a blessing and a curse. Her clothes, which before cloth diapers were fairly big on her, with plenty of room to grow, now they just barely fit. And we don’t have any larger sizes yet – I wanted to get a bit more time out of them, you know? Anyway I almost like how I look in all of these pictures so that’s a silver lining, too. When this picture was taken I was still all confident and eager about cloth diapering, that’s why my smile is so big.

Oh yeah…

52 Weeks is a year long challenge for YOU, hosted by Forever in Blue Jeans, to be in a picture once a week for 52 weeks. We are always the ones behind the camera, this is YOUR chance to get out in front and be in the pictures with our family. We are glad you are joining this challenge. More importantly your family will really enjoy having you in the picture. Thanks for playing along! Oh, you can just jump in now with 1 of 52, you’re not getting off that easy! Now go take a picture!

Pictures From The Company Picnic

Today we went to the company picnic, which they hold annually. It was pretty lucky that my grandma was able to fly up the day before the picnic so that she could come, too! The weather was a bit chilly but they had lots of fun things to do (a petting zoo and a construction petting zoo, blowing bubbles in a kiddie pool, MM got a free balloon and fun hat and there were lots of other kid friendly events that we skipped like face painting, pottery painting, a climbing wall and some bouncing rides that were just a bit too old for MM – things for him to look forward to next year! 🙂 And of course the food was delicious – Dan, Grandma and I all had lobster and steak with Caesar salads, watermelon and a few other sides. MM had the “kids meal” – macaroni and cheese with hot dogs – which was perfect – and there was cake and cookies for dessert. Dan also competed with some of his coworkers in a big tug of war competition – sadly his team did not win but they had a great time trying. I’d call it a perfect afternoon. Here are some pictures from the day:

Independence Day Weekend

This weekend was my first time celebrating the 4th of July without going to the town parade, fireworks, visiting family for cookouts, etc. We spent the entire weekend celebrating with just the 3.5 of us and I have to say it was a pretty nice weekend. Our original plan involved going to the beach on Saturday and making a huge feast on Dan’s tabletop grill, but those plans were rained out. So we decided to go to the beach on Sunday with a modest feast and cook the majority of it at home that day.

Saturday July 4th went a little something like this…

After a french toast with powdered sugar, strawberries and blueberries breakfast (so festive!) we spent Saturday morning mulling around Walmart spending a lot more money than we intended to, but on things we needed (we got the sleeping bag for MM and a great nursing gown for me and BB). That afternoon we had bratwurst cooked over a George Foreman grill (hot dogs for the picky three year old), homemade pasta salad and deviled eggs. I’m going to admit right now that Dan did almost all the cooking this weekend.

(We were talking last night about our culinary interests and what we thought they’d be etc. I always assumed I’d become this perfect homemaker who cooked amazing dinners, desserts, etc. and basically owned the kitchen. But apart from desserts and the occasional lucky recipe, most of my culinary prospects have been lackluster. I can do a quick, easy main dish like it’s no one’s business but when I try to get fancy, I rarely feel my efforts have been rewarded by an amazing dish. It never feels worth it – you know? Just stressful. Then somewhere in the middle, Dan got interested in bread making, which turned into pizza making, which, with the help of Food Network in the past month and a half, has turned into – he loves to cook. And his food is good, ladies. I am spoiled rotten and I’m not complaining. I actually feel relieved. Sometimes I’m a bit jealous but since I can still kick his butt in the dessert department and I still mostly own the rest of the homemaking gig, I think it evens out and I’m proud of him. So in general, the kitchen belongs to Dan during the weekends especially and more often on weeknights than I care to admit to – but I can play the pregnancy card for now.)

Anyway, this has very little to do with the weekend – so I’ll get back to my little recap. After lunch we spent some time doing MM’s favorite thing – playing with toys. Every day (several times a day) he will come over to one of us and say, “Do you want to come play in my TOY ROOM?” and you know I feel terrible when I am too busy which seems to happen a lot – even more so for poor Dan. So that afternoon we both said a whole hearted YES and spent awhile doing just that. MM was in his glory.

For dinner that night we continued our original menu plan with the second half of our feast – Dan made homemade beef teriyaki – complete with the wooden skewers just like at a Chinese restaurant and oh mylanta, it was Good. We had that with leftover pasta salad and celery with peanut butter and cream cheese and for dessert – lemon bars, homemade right of a Betty Crocker box. I always go back and forth between strictly homemade and “times-a-wasting” and to be honest, this lemon craving of mine is still so new to me that I wanted to try a couple of box recipes first – that I know I can’t likely screw up – so that when I try homemade later when my energy levels return to “normal” I’ll know if it tastes close to right and what things should look like. These came out pretty good – and Dan kicked it up a festivity level with his “plating skills” (all husbands should be required to watch Iron Chef America – I think he secretly scores each of his meals by flavor, plating and originality).

(this picture doesn’t do it justice, I am still working on my food photography and meanwhile the ice cream and whipped cream were melting so I gave up early and got to eating!)

Then on Sunday, our holiday weekend continued…

The weather was gorgeous so we were thinking it would be the perfect beach day. But we set out first thing that morning to Target (which was closed on the 4th) to buy one very special item – Baby Blueberry’s infant car seat and stroller. We got the Graco Mulberry style travel system I’ve had my eye on for months now despite going back and forth a bit, wanting to be sure it was the one, we can now safely say – yes it is, and it’s ours! We had a cheap Cosco travel system with MM that we loathed so much we actually donated it shortly after he outgrew the car seat, vowing to get ourselves something nicer for the next baby. I was worried that wouldn’t happen after Dan got laid off, but with the help of the $100 Rent.com visa we got, the price was cut in half and we decided to do our sanity a favor and go for it. We’re very happy with it from what we’ve seen so far. By the time we got home the weather was too beautiful to wait any longer.

So we packed up our beach gear and the food we had planned for that day’s lunch and headed to our new favorite beach (not that we’ve checked out any others yet). Dan got to work immediately cooking the rest of the bratwurst and some more hot dogs for MM while MM got to work immediately playing on the beach’s playground.

Then after lunch we headed to the beach. Unfortunately the algae levels were too high or something so the department of health mandated the water be “closed” so we didn’t get any swimming in but the boys still had fun playing in the sand. After a couple minutes building sandcastles Dan taught MM the age old fun of being buried in the sand which he thought was just terrific!

That night we made homemade pizza with pretty much everything but the kitchen sink thrown on top, leftover pasta salad and some watermelon that was leftover from another culinary feat this weekend – we made this delicious watermelon lemonade that I saw on Smitten Kitchen last week. Everything was delicious, making a terrific end to our holiday weekend.

Again with the picture not doing the meal justice.