Thursday, June 30, 2011

Embrace the camera: Swimsuit Edition

I'm embracing the camera again today.  I haven't taken many with me in them this past week so this is from last week.  Maggie LOVES the pool.  She has absolutely no fear of hesitation in the water.  In this picture, I had been throwing her up and into the ring she is floating in.  "Do it again!" she'd yell over and over again.  

Also if you are in the market for a life jacket for your kids, I recommend one like Maggie is wearing.  You can let out the sides as the kids grow.  Gwendolyn wore it for a season and a half and now Maggie has taken it, so it is pretty durable too.  

I'm linking up with Emily and embracing the camera.  Take a picture of yourself with your kids, dogs, honey, friends, etc and link up too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Maggie and the slide

Like generations before her, Maggie climbed on top of the storm cellar at my grandparents' house so she could slide down the door.  Unlike generations before, apparently it is okay for her to slide down it.  We always got in trouble for it.  Not that it stopped us.

Linking up to Project AliciaLive and Love Outloud

Favorite picture of June

I know I just showed this shot yesterday, but I went through all my photos and I think it is my favorite from the month.  I like the pink being repeated throughout the photo, how deep in play Gwendolyn was, and the lighting.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Princess Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn is fancy child.  Whereas I am content in jeans, a t-shirt and flip-flops, Gwendolyn prefers sparkly, frilly, fancy.  One of the very first things on her birthday list this year was "a princess dress and princess shoes."  She got her wish in the form of a couple dresses, a cape, some shoes, and a crown. 

Here she is wearing her princess outfit while playing with her princesses.  And if you look behind her, you'll see some of her regular shoes that add sparkle to her outfits: silver sequined sandals and ruby red glitter shoes.

She has princesses of various sizes, fairies, and other odd and end dolls, and on this day, they were all lined up under the rocking chair.  I asked her about it... I never got a clear answer on why they weren't in the three story dollhouse next to the chair.  It probably has to do with my not understanding fancy 5 year old logic.

                                                                 Shutter Love Tuesdays
Part of the reason the dolls had to camp under the chair appear to be because she has a minivan and a pink barbie car in the house.  You would think the princesses or whoever is in charge there, maybe Cowgirl Jessie?, would park the cars outside.  Gwendolyn had Yogi checking things out.  

You see that unicorn in the top left of the dollhouse?  Yeah, she asked my dad to get her a unicorn for her birthday.  I'm not certain she wasn't asking for a real unicorn, but she is playing with the toy one too.  

She spends hours every week upstairs playing with her dolls and dollhouses.  I listen to her make them talk and make plans, and she laughs and sounds like she is having a huge time.  So I decided to catch her with my camera.  She is a Michigan J. Frog because I went up there and she was serious business the entire time.  Never cracked a smile, barely even looked at me...  Until I got up to leave.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


On Father's Day, we went to Weiner to my grandparents' house for a cookout.  While I was enjoying the not too hot temperatures and porch swing, I watched Maggie play with Grandma's yard statues.  She was very carefully and sneakily take birdseed from St. Francis's plate and then force swans to eat it.  She was very serious when she realized I was watching her.

Linking up to Simple Things and I Heart Faces: Whimsy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Easy Alternative to the Baby Book

I saw a picture like this done on Pinterest and knew I wanted to do them for my girls.  I think it is a good way to keep track of changes through the years.  Especially if you are like me and maybe haven't filled out your kids' baby books.

Gwendolyn had a big birthday.  She had the party at Chuck E. Cheese and a family party at my cousin's pool where she had a rainbow cake and loads of family and friends around her.  And this weekend we are celebrating June and July birthdays on my mom's side of the family so she has another birthday party.  Then hopefully we will get back to our regular schedule and do more off of our summer fun list.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rainbow cake

For Gwendolyn's family birthday party, I talked her into a rainbow birthday cake.  It didn't take much persuasion since she is a pretty big rainbow fan.

In years past, my stepmother has always made the cake, but she always got super stressed about it so this year I decided to make it myself.  

I got a boxed cake mix and followed the instructions.  Then I divided the batter into five different bowls and mixed in gel food coloring.  

Then poured it into the cake pans, one color at a time.

Gwendolyn oohed and awed at each step.  Then when I took the cake out of the oven, I must have jumped the gun and not waited for it to cool enough.  It fell apart.  Many words were muttered.  I considered making cake pops with the cracked and crumbly cake, but last time I did that, they tasted like crap. So I got to work making cupcakes.  Same process but takes much longer.  

And because I was posting pictures on facebook as I made progress on the cake, I had multiple people more crafty and experienced making cake than I am tell me that the cake was salvageable, just use lots of icing.  

Honestly I had Keary do that step.  I was pretty sure I would mess it up further.  And it turned out!  It wasn't the cake I had in mind, but it stuck together and tasted good.

                                                                     Happy Monday: Something Cute
Maggie sampled it.  Quality control and all that.

 Final product.  It tasted decent and everyone was impressed about the multicolored batter.

even if the cake had ended up not turning out and we had to go get a cake from Walmart, the day would have been good and happy, but it was all the more sweet because I made the cake.

Linking up with Sweet Shot TuesdayCommunal Global, and 52 weeks of happiness

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I heart faces: Let's hear it for the boy

The theme this week at I Heart faces is "Let's Hear it for the Boys."  (So now I have that song in my head and the impulse to watch Foot Loose.  (I'm always so impressed with John Lithgow and his acting range: he is such a jerk in Foot Loose and comical in 3rd Rock from the Sun and creeped me out in the fourth season of Dexter.)

I took this picture of Keary and Maggie yesterday toward the end of Gwendolyn's birthday party.  Maggie was exhausted and fell right to sleep in Keary's arms, and Keary was looking over at me smirking. She is generally not one to so willingly fall asleep but she had played very hard all day.  It is tough work being the little sister at a birthday party you know.   

Today is Father's Day so I want to wish Keary and my dad a happy Father's Day.  I often give them both a hard time, but I wouldn't do that if I didn't like them.  It is when I stop talking and interacting with you that you should start wondering.  :)

And a happy father's day to all the dads out there.  Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Gwendolyn turns 5 today, technically at 12:41 this afternoon.  Since she is turning 5 and 5 seems like a big deal, we decided to splurge and let her have a friends party and family party and let her have her friends' party at Chuck E. Cheese.

I do not like Chuck E. Cheese.  I think it is too expensive and I feel overstimulated going there between all the flashing lights, sounds, kids running around.  It is just too much.  But Gwendolyn loves it so I agreed.  And told Keary he had to make the arrangements.

That went over about as well as you might think.  He put it off for a few days and then when I was like "I have to send out invitations tomorrow.  I need to know about the party," technically he made the arrangements, but he came downstairs after every step to ask me what he was supposed to pick and decide next.  So much for him making arrangements.

Leading up to the party I was was nervous too that none or very few of her friends would be there and she would be upset.   She invited nine kids and I think there were 5 to show up so she was happy.  Not that they played together or talked except when it was pizza time.  All the kids ran in different directions after I handed them their tokens.

Some iphone pictures since i haven't uploaded from my camera yet.  I know some people can take really clear pictures with their iphones, but I am not one of them.  Honestly the phone I had before I got my iphone in December I had for 4 years and it took much better pictures.

My sister L and Gwendolyn playing airhockey.

Maggie playing skeeball.  In another mother of the year moment, Maggie peed massively out of her diaper (and all over Keary's shirt) and soaked her shorts.  And I didn't have any spare shorts for her to wear so she just wore her shirt and diaper.

Gwendolyn was very pleased when Chuck E. came out to sing and dance.

I was afraid they would massacre Gwendolyn's name so we just had them write Happy Birthday.

Here she is while they sing Happy Birthday to her.  She is a bit shy so I had to make her not cover her ears.

We got to bring home the big balloon and Maggie has played and danced with that until they popped it this morning.  She calls it "Me Meow-se."

I have better pictures on my camera I'll upload this weekend and through the week.  I also documented my making Gwendolyn's rainbow cake and it's crack up when I tried to take it out of the pan to ice.   We salvaged it.  It is not very pretty, but it probably tastes good.  (Please let it taste good.  Please.)

We are having a swimming party today with family and the radar is showing rain.  Hopefully it will just blow on through and be fine later.  If not, we will all come inside and party inside.

Linking up to instafriday and saturday confessions

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pool Days

I shouldn't have to say it, but it is hot.  Well at least it is hot here.  I keep seeing people north of us talk about how it is just barely breaking 70 and is cloudy and rainy. Not here, not so much.  It has been in the upper nineties for weeks and rained this week for the first time in three weeks.  It is hot and steamy.  

(Yes, steamy.  Humidity of 100 and frizz.  You don't even have to be a meteorologist to know that, just look at the girls' and my hair.  Very large.)

We are lucky though because my cousin has a pool that we can use as often as we can get out there.  And we definitely use it often as I have another adult to help me with the girls.  Gwendolyn can't quite swim yet even though she is five years old (tomorrow is her birthday!).  I think it is time for her to swim independently of floaties and I think she can, she just won't.  Maggie will likely be swimming before she is.  Maggie has no fear though and will jump in the pool and put her face in the water.  

Going to the pool is now with two kids is much different than before I had kids.  Before I would just throw on a bathing suit, grab a towel, some sunscreen and tanning lotion, a bottle of water, and maybe a radio to listen to.  Now... ha.  I swear I spend more time getting us ready for the poo than we spend at the pool some days.  Finding bathing suits and towels.  Gathering snacks and drinks.  Slathering on sunscreen spf 65 on all of us (and I still looked lobstery after the pool Saturday).  Blowing up floaties and rings.  Then once we finally get in there is no lounging and peacefully floating.  Instead I help them both swim and calm them after water gets sucked up their noses.  And within 45 minutes Maggie will decide she is done swimming and want to go sit on the side of the pool.  

Of course, the few times I have swam without both kids and had the opportunity to float and relax, I couldn't and just didn't know what to do with myself.

Linking up with Crazy Days of Summer: Water over at Project Alicia

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fruitcake Reads: I am Number Four

The first time I heard mention of I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore was by Miss Zoot.  She was talking about wanting to hurry up and finish reading it so she could see the movie when it came out.  I looked the book up and put it on my soon to read list in my head and then forgot about it.  Then I saw the movie trailer and remembered I wanted to read it, put it on my to read list in my head and forgot about it again.

I finally picked it up to read a couple weeks ago and promptly devoured it in a couple days.  It isn't a completely original idea and at some points it definitely feels like you have already read it, but still a good summer read.

I Am Number Four centers around a 15 year old boy, John Smith, who just wants to fit in and have a regular high school life.  But he is an alien and is developing special super powers so he is also having to hide all of that from his peers, friends, and girlfriend.  Oh and he is being hunted by another set of aliens who want to kill him.

This is apparently part of a developing series of books, centering around these teenage aliens with superpowers. I didn't love the ending of the book; it felt rather contrived and used, but I think if the series was read together, it would probably be better.

What are you reading?  Read anything good lately?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

last tee-ball game and a medal

Gwendolyn had her last tee-ball game of the season on Thursday.  And in a surprise turn of events, Keary was the pitcher for our team.

Yeah, surprised everyone, but he was pitching during practice to a couple of the girls and the coaches asked why he hadn't been pitching all season.  He said "well, I guess I can if you want me to," and then hoped they would forget all about it and pitch themselves.  That didn't happen though so he pitched, and all but a couple of the girls ended up hitting a pitched ball instead of off the tee.  

Here he is pitching to Gwendolyn.  

After the game, the team had their last huddle and "go team."  

Check out the socks Gwendolyn decided to wear: green and black with spiders of course go great with red, gray, and black team colors.  But also notice her french braid pig tails- I've been practicing!

I had told Gwendolyn before the game that she would get a trophy at the end of the night.  She was pretty pumped for that and didn't really know what to think when her coach gave her a medal.  Since then though she has worn her medal around the house daily.  She wears it to bed at night and it is the first thing she puts on first thing in the morning.  That little medal has made her super happy.  

Linking up with Live and Love OutloudProject Alicia

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cardboard box playhouse and a water hose

I spent a couple hours outside yesterday in the nearly 100 degree heat cutting holes in and arranging cardboard boxes for the girls to play in and decorate and marking one of our activities off the summer fun list.

I didn't have a real plan for what to do with the boxes: I had mentioned to Mom and her husband that I needed some boxes and they delivered multiple recliner and sofa boxes.  (He has a furniture store.)  So I just started cutting and putting them together and adding windows.

Gwendolyn was SO excited, nearly vibrating and unable to patiently wait to get to play.  She immediately went in with markers and decorated.

Maggie was less excited.  She just wanted me to push her on the swings and was none too happy that I was busy with other things.  So Keary turned on the water hose.  Technically he was cleaning the lawn mower, but the effect was the same:  it distracted Maggie and offered her something more interesting than me to play with.

                                                                 (The Paper Mama Green Challenge)

(I know what you are thinking, there couldn't possibly be something more interesting than me.  I thought so too.  Apparently a water hose is more interesting and it certainly was more entertaining than I was at that point.)

So the cardboard box playhouse made Gwendolyn happy, some water and a water hose made Maggie happy, and both my girls being happy made me happy.

The few minutes of quiet while they played didn't hurt any either.

Linking up with Communal GlobalSweet Shot Tuesday52 weeks of happiness

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I heart faces: bright and vibrant

The theme this week at I Heart faces photo challenge is bright and vibrant.  And although I took a couple hundred pictures (at least) with my dslr, the picture I took that I thought best captured "bright and vibrant" was one I took with my iphone.  Here Maggie is taking her first dip of the year in the pool.  The picture is just dripping with her attitude from the sunglasses to the very bright multicolored swimsuit/ life jacket to the  determined to get in the pool herself and without my help look.  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fruitcake Summer Fun

Summer is here!  With that brings lots of spare time (at least for the girls, my time is pretty much the same), and it could lead to watching too much TV and general boredom.  I wanted some sort of a guide to keep us busy and having fun, and something so everyday doesn't seem just like the last one.  So I came up with a few ideas and got many more ideas from around the internet and pinterest.  

My criteria for the list was pretty simple.  I like it cheap or free.  I like if both my girls can participate: they are almost 2 and almost 5 years old, having them read a chapter book or write a fan letter on their own isn't really feasible.  If there are too many instructions period, they aren't going to get into it.  We have a good library in town that offers plenty of summer programs we will participate in, but the nearest zoo or children's museum is over an hour away.  So keeping it simple and close to home is best.  

Tee-ball and soccer are over, but the girls are signed up for story-times one day a week and I figure we will try to go the the pool once or twice a week, and our local movie theater shows morning movies twice a week for $2 a ticket so we might try that.   All that means we may only need a couple things a week to do to keep us busy, having fun, and not watching hours and hours of Blue's Clues in a sitting.

I'm planning on putting our list on the refrigerator and making sure we have stuff on hand to do at least two of them at all times.  Sounds like a good enough plan, right?

1.  at home dance party
2.  jump rope
3.  family movie night
4.  go to the library
5.  Go to the movies
6.  backyard swim party
7.  yoga day
8.  computer games
9.  go to the splash pad
10.  make smoothies
11.  play dress up
12.  car wash
13.  run through sprinklers
14.  build a fort
15.  go on a nature walk
16.  go to a parade
17.  fireworks show
18.  blow bubbles
19.  tea party
20.  watermelon
21.  water balloons
22.  go to the farmer's market
23.  celebrate an unbirthday
24.  family picnic
25.  sidewalk chalk art  
26.  have a cookout
27.  donuts!
28.  eat snow cones
29.  paint
30.  make ice cream
31.  make popsicles
32.  stargazing
33.  play frisbee
34.  make a playhouse with a big box
35.  make lemonade
36.  family game night  
37.  make homemade playdoh
38.  build a sandcastle
39.  pizza party!
40.  make rootbeer floats
41.  go to the zoo
42.  banana split party
43.  feed ducks
44.  make greeting cards for the year (valentines day, st patricks day, easter, 4th of july, thanksgiving, christmas, birthdays)
45.  paint pottery
46.  smores
47.  luau
48.  go to the park
49.  tie-dye t-shirts
50.  go on a photo walk

Linking up for company girl coffee

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Embrace the camera: Grandy and her grandkids

my cousin A, sister L, Grandy, cousin A, me, and brother M.  Memorial Day 2011

Here we are at a memorial day cookout. Grandy and all her grandchildren were in the same place at the same time, which doesn't really happen very often so we took the opportunity to take some pictures.  Out of the dozen or so pictures we took, there wasn't one that we were all smiling and looking in the same general direction.  I think this one turned out well enough though, with us all smiling and laughing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordlessish Wednesday: Hair-raiser

I have absolutely no idea what she does to her dolls to make their hair stand up like that.  I guess I should just be happy it is her doll's hair doing that and not her or her sister's.

(I like how the car in car in the background looks really surprised and pleased about something.)

Linked up with And then she snappedProject AliciaLive and Love Outloud, and Simplicity's Cellphone Photo Challenge

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Good Luck

Here is the first four-leaf clover I found this year, I found it while watering my garden this morning.  I'm hoping that the luck in the clover means that the stomach virus that hit our family Sunday night is done for.  
(It will be a long time before we eat peanut butter and jelly again in this house.)
(And the smell of Lysol causes me to full-body shudder.)

If we are all well, then that means our summer can officially begin.  Storytime!  Swimming!  Two little girls' birthday parties to plan!

Linked to Sweet shot Tuesday

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I heart faces: from a distance

I think this picture of Gwendolyn's tee-ball team is a pretty good likeness of day-to-day life:  sometimes you are going to be tripping over the people who are there to help, sometimes you are going to have too many balls to juggle, sometimes you might not even have the tools (or gloves) to do what you are supposed to, but if you look around, generally there is someone around who can help and show you how it is done.

I Heart Faces photo challenge this week is "from a distance" and I have had Bette Midler's song stuck in my head since I saw the challenge.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A simple thank you


When the farmers' market is open mid-spring to mid-fall, we try to go every Saturday.  While I like to peruse the fresh vegetables and plants, Gwendolyn likes to get fresh cut flowers.  She is a very loyal customer too because each week she visits the same booth.  

Last year on her birthday we went out there that morning to get a watermelon and some thank you flowers for my cousin for letting us have her party at her house, and Gwendolyn told the man from her usual booth as she was paying for her flowers that it was her birthday.  He smiled, told her Happy Birthday and generously gave her the flowers she was getting for herself rather than having her pay him.  Later as we were going through what she got for her birthday and making thank you cards, she remembered the flowers and made the man a card and hand delivered it to him the following week.  

That was the end of the story I thought, and I was just happy she had thanked him.  

His granddaughter plays tee-ball with Gwendolyn and he too is at nearly every game.  We smile and make small talk, that is about it.  He walked up to me Tuesday during the game and said "I just realized who Gwendolyn was this week."  I smiled and just thought he was talking about how we bought flowers every week or maybe referring to the fact that my sister and his daughter played softball for many years together. My mom cocked her head though, and he further explained about how he had given her flowers and she brought him a thank you card.  He talked about how sweet it was (though he probably didn't use the word sweet, guys rarely do) and you could tell that it had made an impression.

Both his gesture and Gwendolyn's were simple gestures, but both made lasting happy impressions.

the picture above has nothing to do with the story other than Gwendolyn is in it.  Gwendolyn wanted to take a picture of the two of us the other day after a long day of working in the yard and I hadn't shared it yet, so I figured this was as good an opportunity as any.

Linking up with Emily and embracing the camera

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Mom and Grandy

Mom and Grandy, Memorial Day Weekend 2011

If there is any positive to be found with Grandy's stroke and her related health problems over the past six months, it is that her and Mom's relationship have improved and grown closer.