Tag Archive | photography

In this summer week

I felt like we got ‘nothing done’ but in reality we did tons, just did not finish any of the big things on the list.

Hot news first; Zoe and her softball team won their division!  They did not have a great record but it was actually a lot like a tv show.  At first the scrappy team of new girls learn to get along.  Then they have some early success but a long string of losses.  Some losses were close, some really not close – there were tears and talks about how they like seeing their friends and being on a team and learning the game.  Games were rained out, rescheduled, and we parents became acquainted with each other as we spent hours sitting together.  Finally, the day of the tournament everyone tried so hard and had practiced and through some really lucky hits and catches we found ourselves in the finals.  They were overjoyed and nervous as all eyes were on them.  Zoe made a fantastic catch for an out.  The pitcher reached deep and struck out a few girls.  Finally, the last girl hit the ball very short and our catcher got it and tagged home base as the runner was coming at her BUT it wasn’t a force situation (meaning nobody was going to 3rd so that runner could have gone back to safety) and in that situation, you have to tag the runner.  Neither girl knew what to do but about 50 adults were screaming at them and they were in a semi-frozen standoff on the 3rd baseline and finally, our catcher ran nearly to 3rd base and tagged the girl.  It was over!  It was exciting!  Nobody cried!  There were trophies!

Softball may never be as exciting at this fresh first year but Zoe is already excited to play next year.  The coach is willing to stay, the girls seem happy, and in my opinion, knowing what we are doing will only help us do better.  We were supposed to be in South Dakota with friends but since they couldn’t make it we choose not to go and I’m really glad we had the opportunity to do this tournament.

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the last run of the game for the team, next girl got out, next inning it was over!

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National anthem time, 

The other major theme of the week was getting #1 ready to go to her fancy science camp.  It has a dress code so we have been collecting the dullest clothing out there.  I updated her medical to show she has a broken arm, I hope it does not impact her ability to participate.  I’m double glad this year is a science camp since last year was rock climbing!  It is her first sleep-away camp and we are not all that nervous (yet) tomorrow might be different.  It is a little odd that I’ll be bringing her to the University campus, I had felt that was still a few years off, but it is a great choice for an academic camp since it is pretty empty of normal students during the summer.  Tomorrow’s instagram will show us dropping the happy camper for sure.

The other major thing #1 had to accomplish pre-camp was more or less moving out of her room because her boy cousins are coming for a few week visit starting Monday.  She might be bumped from her room but she does get a mom super clean in the deal.  Technically she was ‘helping’ but after enough help she slunk away to play really nicely with her sisters and I just did it my self – much easier actually.  I could throw away trash without discussion and now it looks neat as a pin.  It helps I put most of her ‘stuff’ in a box in the closet to be gone through when she returns.  However, only one bag of trash and one box of stuff is pretty good all things considered.

Did I bury the lead?  Yes, I’m importing 3 extra kids for the next few weeks so their parents can do a few super cool/important things that happened to overlap.  It was stressing my sister out so I just volunteered and now she can do her thing, he can do his and all the cousins can cavort like wild monkies here.  I think these Texans might really like it up here, I looked at the forecast and our temp for the next 15 days is between 60 and 90, and, where they live I saw a 105 on their list… that is super hot.  My mom is also coming to visit the crew at the end of week 1 and we are filling our time up fast so I’m sure it will be super fun.

The other days this week we had lunch with friends to celebrate the end of Ramadan (observed), we achieved passport submission so now we can travel internationally, celebrated our friends birthday with a middle of the day cake, #1 cut a foot of hair (and still has long hair) and the other two were trimmed up and we managed to get to the pool a couple times.  Books have been read, math practice done, food made and consumed, 168 stupid fights started and ended, yard mowed, and, we downloaded the harry potter themed Pokemon/Ingress game.  When I list it out it looks pretty cool, I wish it didn’t feel like a frantic paddle to stay above water half the time.

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trying on a new uniform skirt, and, sporting hair.  No, not crying just shy!

Ok, the longest day of the year here, it is nearly 7 and absolutely still bright.  I’ll go chip away a little more at the pagoda project of never-endingness.  Projects like this make me feel like I get nowhere but when they are finally done the impact will be worth it!

All the things

I missed recording a few things in my crazy little life here.

Most importantly; #2 is now 9!  As we say ‘It’s time for 9″.  She claims she had to wait FOREVER for her birthday and all her friends are older, however, given the number of birthday parties we have attended for her friends this month, she was born peak season.  We did another sleepover with a fun painting project to pass the time.  All the girls did great with everything and eventually went to sleep.  The party was on a Friday night to have a prayer of fitting into graduation/recital season and we actually had everyone attend and the bonus was we still had the weekend.  On her real birthday, we had lunch together at school and she skipped jujitsu to hang out with me and then we went for sushi.  It was a full day and I think she enjoyed it.

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9 year olds love puppies

Speaking of parties – in the past 2 weeks, we have had 4 kid birthday parties, a house warming, a bridging ceremony, a graduation, and 2 grad parties that we got to.  It has been an intensely social couple of weeks.  Most of these were in succession, going from one to the next to the next.  A few were concurrent where we dropped a kid at a birthday and went to another celebration and back in time to pick up again.  Exhausting but exciting and fun to see so many friends achieving things in their worlds.

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On to brownies!

The weather… has been a factor in all things.  Currently, it is raining, again.  Yesterday it was perfect.  That is the way, we get a couple gorgeous days and a couple soggy days.  I have two lists at all times; things to do outside and things to do inside.  It also has been mild to cool here still.  I know other places are melting already but we are still using layers.  I wonder if I can ever put away all the winter?

Remember when I said I was doing a lot of field trips this month?  This past week I went on a 3 day trip ‘up north’ with the 5th grade.  It was thoroughly educational and the staff at the place was incredibly good with kids and making science exciting.  Every activity had a running dialogue of history and science and social interactions that was like sneaking veggies into a cookie.  We spent tons of time in the woods, in the ponds looking at micro-organisms, and even some classroom time.  They have a magic formula going up there I’m glad to have participated in.  It was worth the time, however, three days away still has a price in things NOT done elsewhere and it was also not exactly relaxing keeping track of 130 kids.

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on top of a 4 story high observation tower

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a view of some of the 6000 archers in the preserve we visited

We also got a new minivan.  This was a process that spanned about 4 months but we finally got it this Saturday.  It is still a little amazing to be in, so new and full of tech to learn.  We decided on the Pacifica – great safety and stats – but we needed one that had 6 seats in the back.  That turned out to be a special order but it was worth the wait because since we were factory ordering we could get or leave out any option we wanted so no compromises because it was ‘on the lot’.  I listed our Oddysey and hope it sells to a nice person.  That will be its own post someday because it truly was a good car.  We have always done a trade in so it is odd to still have our old car too.

Between parties and rain storms, we have gotten more of the play set up, I added monkey bars and then a flip bar that is both fun and helps keep the system stable.  The kids are enjoying it both for its built purpose of swing/monkey bar/flip and also as a centerpiece of imagination games that I can’t even start to describe.  Let’s just say my 3 have no shortage of crazy imagination scenarios that they can play all day. This set lures them out of the house.  There is still a list of building projects not to mention yard work in general.  We did get our yard mowed.  Note I didn’t say grass…. we are waiting on the builders to finish some drainage fixes so we didn’t plant yet, however, plenty of volunteer green items were filling the void and we mowed them to a socially acceptable level.  Next year we might have grass… maybe.

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monkey bars and flip bar.  May they never lack for upper body strength

Sports were dominant this month with #1 doing track and #2 doing softball and #3 doing gymnastics and they were all stacked on Monday and Tuesday making them crazy afternoons. We survived though, the last track meet was Monday and #1 did very well.  She was 3rd overall for the 800m and had fun on all her events.  Everyone got t-shirts and ribbons and I got to see parent friends from all over I wasn’t expecting. Now we ‘just’ have softball and gymnastics (and jujitsu) but the schedule is much less crazy.

Last but not least, I looked and there are less 2 weeks of school left.  This year flew by but we did do quite a lot so we earned our summer.  The next 2 weeks are full of end of year things, a final field trip, #2 has a wax museum presentation that parents are invited to, and I need to do one last birthday party.

I’m closing in on 1000 words here so that is plenty to read with your coffee, I will keep ‘blogging’ on my list for inside time and hopefully, I get back to a bit more regular schedule when things click over to summer life.

ps.  while uploading pictures I was reminded that I also went to school for their field day, a 5th-grade concert that was actually really good, we dealt with our first major behavior in school issue, we attended the agriculture fair at the high school and got to pet the baby goats and I helped a friend rehab and stage his house to sell – reminding me I don’t really like packing but packing someone else is more fun.  Now I don’t feel so bad about the basket of towels that just never seems to get folded.

 

Weekly review

Given it is somehow Friday already I am just hitting the highlights.  We are in the busy season of life, and, I gave in and each kid has a separate activity so I’m going in 6 directions.  I like being busy, it just doesn’t leave too much extra time for online musings.

Right now, #1 is in track on Monday and Wednesday.  This *should* have been easy and at her school, however, her session didn’t have enough to run so we moved her to a different elementary school so I need to run her and a friend a few miles ASAP so they aren’t too late.  On the bright side, Lars picks her up and the other school is actually closer to our new house and they go directly to jujitsu.  She is really into running and I’m glad because it is a life-long thing.  I’m also happy that she is meeting other kids in our district so when they all go to middle school together, she already knows some people.

#2 has taken up softball.  WTH? there are actually sports I like less, but not many.  I have vivid memories of trying to avoid batting or any field position that would actually need to catch or throw for my 12 years where softball was a mandatory segment of our physical education.  This is the joy of children; I get a re-do.  A no pressure redo at that!  I am not playing, she is, and she LOVES it even though she has zero experience.  Since she is so into it I’m leaning in and we have a suite of gloves for the family, 4 softballs, a bat, a helmet and a big enough yard that we can practice.  It was a little picket fence, American dream moment yesterday playing catch with my girls in the yard in the sunshine on a fresh spring day.  Nobody got hit with a ball even!  If you are looking for us on Monday or Tuesday evenings they are softball games.  If you are looking for us any sunny afternoon, check the yard and our homemade field.

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#2 is the catcher

#3 is in love with gymnastics.  Tuesday afternoons (before softball) she points her toes and jumps and flips with absolute joy.  You would think she would be tired out from an hour of this but it gives her more energy.  She was promoted from beginner to intermediate but fortunately, classes are at the same time and day work.  Although the gym smells like a sewer mixed with perfume and feet she can’t get enough of it.

Yesterday I went on my first of 3 field trips this month.  May is super full because there are 2 or 3 other neat events I’m attending plus the school play.  This weekend is a color run, next week is the teacher breakfast and 5th-grade concert.  Later in the month is the agriculture fair where the HS students show off all the cute baby goats and chicks.  I’m going to be very active in the world so fair warning I might not get it back to here.  The field trip yesterday included fire starting a great hike and a canoe ride around the lake.  It was exhaustingly good.  I did get the reminder that kids scream a lot, and, there are some kids we probably should not teach how to start fires…

My summer building plans are coming along.  I’m firm now on my garden structure after many iterations and plans on paper.  I believe we now have a plan for a budget-friendly and easy and not ugly garden.  I need the weather to cooperate but I’m looking at Sunday.  I will be posting if it is a success…  The swingset; I ended up going with a kit so not super creative but I’m putting my twist on it.  That is also something I’m going to start this weekend, we will pick up ALLLLLL the wood and I want help so have to wait on the husband.

In conclusion, if you are counting;  Monday I bring 2 kids to track, then 2 different kids to softball.  Tuesday I bring 2 home, then 1 to gymnastics, then home and out again to softball.  Wednesday just track and Lars does jujitsu with all 3 of them so I get a break! Thursday Niamh babysits directly after school and I have school board meetings.  Friday no reoccurring scheduled activities.  This isn’t counting girl scouts or one-off meetings in the month.  Good thing I like being busy.

Happy Valentines Day

Oh what a fun little holiday.  You can ignore it and nobody cares, you can go crazy and nobody minds too much.  There is very little debate over ‘the meaning’ and it is almost fun to be the ‘guy who hates valentines day’.  Nobody really takes it too seriously so anything you do it all good.

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For me, it is one of my 2x yearly I try and get a good picture of my kids.  I like to make the cards, I started a few years ago and I’m only sorry I didn’t start earlier.  For a DIY craft it is one of the easiest and over the past few years, I’ve refined my technique.

Here is my how-to for photo cards

  1. figure out your theme. There are tons of great ones on pinterest but this year we did one that was not actually from there (but it will be there soon!).  It was my 10 year olds idea, we have a cute dog and she wanted to include her.  We have done the holding candy and blowing kisses, both are super cute but I don’t want to repeat.
  2. Take the pictures.  I use my DSLR but a camera phone is just as easy really. Take as many as they/you have the patience for so you have options and be chill with the details. Some of what makes them really great is that the kids add their own style by choosing the outfit or style.  I tell them the goal, they fill in the details.  One of my favorites was when Fiona insisted on holding the sign with her feet – it was so cute and so her. img_5954
  3. Import your photos into whatever software you like.  I still use Picasa but there are plenty that will let you do the layout you want.
  4. Go to Avery.com and select one of their templates that will fit 4 per page.  This is a time saver for me rather than try and do all the sizing on my own like I used to.  Upload the picture and if you want to use the Avery collection of clip art and do it up.  They also have a pretty easy interface for adding text, I add my text there now instead of in Picasa.
  5. Save the Avery file as a pdf onto your computer
  6. go to UPS.com and do their 8.5×11 color printing option.  Select 100# card stock and full color and upload your pdf.  Double check sizing etc and order.  I did 10 sheets to yield 40 cards and it cost around $8.

 

You can also just print on your home computer but for the price, I like the quality.  My home printer is absolutely NOT photo quality.  I originally got cards printed via walmart as photos, however, the cardstock is more sturdy and the price is better so I’m not going back.

As they get older I like the idea more. The cards in the store are really intended for younger kids based on the cartoons etc and my way the sky is the limit because I can type whatever message I want.  I did one for a friends son and it said “Valentine’s Day? Whatever…” and had an eyeroll style picture that is very him (and also cute).  For the parents that don’t have time, I get it, but I count going to the store and hunting up something as more of a pain than sitting at my computer.

For this particular picture, we had a fun time getting the puppy kisses.  We were going to use peanut butter but you can see that in the photo so we went with pepperoni.  It was a win with the dog and gave the kids a bit of a shiny blush that wasn’t bad at all.

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yes, that is her outfit, that is why these are headshot style only.  

I hope you are inspired!  I keep a set from each year in their memory boxes, makes me feel better that at least a few physical pictures exist of each of them.

 

2018 <- never before published because I was at a funeral this time last year.

 

2017  – this shape was really fun, perfect for adding a pencil to the back.

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2016

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Guess What?

I love my blog enough to pay $13 whole dollars for an upgraded membership.  I realized some of the reasons I was not blogging was because I was nearly out of space and pictures really do make the story.  So, after the 3million and third targeted add with discounts and ‘last chance’ notes from WordPress I did it.  I have no idea what all will change but I have more space and that is what I was looking for.

What about the daily post?  Well, that didn’t work out this year.  I’m as disappointed as you are (btw I’m assuming nobody was all that disappointed).  When last we talked I was suffering from a truly annoying mouth issue that actually persisted for a full 7 days and now I have the creepy crud of congestion.  These are not conditions conducive to happy chatting online.  Beyond those minor annoiances, the week was really great and super full.

Thanksgiving felt like the end of a marathon.  One that started so long ago when we first decided to put the house on the market and then escalated when we were prepping, then selling and building then moving and homeless, then traveling, then moving in and figuring out where things go and a truly giant list of things to do.  No sooner were we in the house the kids were to school and the election tasks started, Halloween, and a rather full social calendar of weekend events culminating last week with the first big house party and 8 out of town guests and then Thanksgiving with more guests.  No wonder I feel tired and out of planning energy!  Sunday I sat there and realized that I have nothing major on the immediate horizon.

Does that mean I am doing nothing?  No way, just nothing like building a house or moving.  I have a vague hope that I’ll be catching up on the active to-do list to the point where I can get back to a normal week that includes meal planning and working out and generally not just chasing the ball down hill constantly.

So how was your thanksgiving?

here are some pictures because I have space now

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family game time!

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possibly not the best group pic ever but oh so true to life.  ps we are missing one child completely somehow

 

Making a Mudroom

When we were designing the house there was a wide hallway with 4 doorways and an opening (is that 5 doors or not?  The last is more an arch and has no door) that was between our garage door and the rest of the house.   On the single uninterrupted wall, they put in a bench and ta-da, they call the area a mudroom.  I called it a *future* mudroom because it really had no place to hang anything.  It got higher on my priority list when kids got back to school and there were backpacks all over the floor.  It got even higher when it got cold and jackets joined the jumble.  As with all good projects we start with Pinterest, but, one of my constant annoyances with Pinterest is that there are no directions, this is my contribution to the mudroom category.

I have no before picture – imagine a navy room with a built-in bench.

First step was to evaluate use.  For us we need lots of coat and backpack hooks at a height that my kids can actually reach.  I also wanted a shelf for cool hats, I have a pretty good collection so they needed a spot.  We also end up with wet stuff a lot so we needed wall protection.

Second step design and research.  After some Pinterest searches, I fell in love with the ‘pretty shelf holders’ but that is not the name for them; they are corbels and can be very tricky.  Some I found are decorative only, made of a plastic or hard foam.  I needed structural corbels and the internet has plenty, some are very expensive, and I ended up getting them from Home Depot; 2 for $15 (I got 2 packs).

Home Depot also had wainscoting (the decorative wood panels) for $12 a panel, our wall is 90 inches so we needed just under 2 full panels.  They are pretty flimsy MDF but they got less brittle after 2 coats of paint.  I made the needed cut, using a circular saw, on the far corner and just ignored the asymmetry.  I wanted to avoid too much cutting so I tested the hight dimension on the wall for hook rail #1 before I bought them and it worked for us.

Both hook rails and the shelf are pine from the dimensional lumber section.  The hook rails are 1x4x8 and the shelf is 1x8x8.  They cost about $20 total.

I painted everything  (SW7005) Pure White to match our trim, the base of the bench and the door frames.

I marked the studs with masking tape in the area I was not planning on putting anything so I didn’t have to constantly look for them.  In my 90 inches, I had 5 studs to work with.  One thing I’ve had problems with in the past is overloading coat hooks so I wanted to make sure this was very strong.  Yes, Dad, I overdid it I am sure, but now I know I can put everything, including a bag of bricks books, on the hooks. Here is my hardware/mounting list (not the order of building)

  • 2 of the 3 corbels are mounted on studs, 3rd is on a screw in anchor
  • The bottom hook rail is mounted using 3in #10 cabinet installation screws
  • The long sections of top hook rail are also mounted to studs with the 3in #10
  • The two short sections of the top rail use wall anchors rated for 50lb
  • Wainscoting is held up by finishing staples from a nail gun, but, finishing nails would work fine.

 

Order of building;

  1. Wainscoting first, making sure it was perfectly level.  Fun fact, the bench is not level…  I kept the nails around the edge for easier painting later.
  2. Lower rail next.  I positioned the screws so I could cover them with hooks
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dry fit everything first

3. Corbels mounted per directions – I decided on the height by a very scientific method; I put a mark where I could still reach but was high enough to look balanced on the wall.  I’ve done enough ‘rule of 3rds’ that it is just part of my life.  I like to use post-its to mark so I can stand back and look and easily move if I need to.

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pink marker is a post-it, blue marks are painters tape on my studs

4. Cut sections of wood for the top rail, mine were 4 different lengths so cutting had to be after corbels.  I decided anchoring to the studs was more important than perfect symmetry. In planning, I made sure each long section would have a stud, the short sections I used toggle bolts.

5. The shelf is mostly held by gravity but to be more secure I used the nail gun along the back to anchor it to the top rail.

6. I added hooks, starting by covering my fasteners and then eyeballing (using pink post-its) the others.  The lower hooks are the bigger style and the uppers are small because I didn’t want to bang into the shelf above so I needed a low profile.

7. Touch up paint.  Went over all the nail heads and the seam of the wainscoting and along the joins of the rails to the shelf above.  Looks way better with the hairline cracks filled in with paint

8. Clean up all the tools, trash, and dust and took a picture because this is likely the last time it will be so empty ever!

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There are 2 things I wish I could have done differently.

First, I’m not wild about how the upper rail looks cut up because it is slightly thicker than the back of the corbel.  Paint helped but the only real solution would have been to put in verticle strips but that would have looked bad because my spaces were not equal, or, even with the wainscoting.  I found other places on Pinterest that did the same so I’m not the only one with the quandary.  I don’t think anyone will really notice.

Second, I would have preferred to run a router grove on the lower rail so it nested over the wainscoting adding to the structure.  I didn’t because my router is still at a friends house and I wanted to get this done and he was on vacation.  It worked out fine so far at least.

Even with those two reservations, I’m really happy with how this turned out.  I’m proud to contribute this to the Pinterest universe.

Oh! I was asked about the color and we used SW6244 – navel here and in the front hall and it is scary dark on the chip but awesome in person.  The bench stain is Koa, the flooring is a vinyl plank laid in a herringbone pattern (left that to the pros!)