Monday, May 31, 2010

Not a cloud in the sky

I shot a wedding on Saturday - the first one I've done in RAW. I have some finagling to do in order to be able to open them in photoshop at their fullest potential. Anyone have experience with this? For now I'm only able to share jpg's.

There wasn't a cloud in the sky which is not this photographer's favorite set up for photography but it's hard to complain when the color is this rich.

Even in the absence of color, the beauty of the day shines right on through don't you think?

Can't wait to see what Photoshop brings to the table, but for now Picasa is holding it's own.

Keeping up with the Joneses

We can smell the campfires in the campground from the house. This weekend we joined the Joneses and had a fire of our own and some S'mores. Prior to that Sam rode his bike in the campground like lots of the kids around here do.

We played freeze tag and set up the tent. By 8:00 the kids were ready for bed.

Conor joined us - the kids have been very loving towards him lately and he's been soaking up the extra attention without any complaints.

The weather finally cooled off to the low 70's after days and days in the upper 80's so people were out enjoying the comfortable temps. Kinda hard to fall asleep with the distractions around us but......

before I finished the first book Julia was out cold.

The fact that she helped me weed two flower beds earlier in the day might have had something to do with it though.

Another day of summer vacation was behind us and this time, our fun was found right at home.

Memorial Day Visitor

Remember when I said that my kids live a pretty idyllic life? Today we took a step back from that life to remember those men and women who made it possible.

While we waited for the parade to begin the kids found caterpillars. The simple pleasure of watching their new friends climb all over was not lost on me and hopefully not on the kids as I explained as best as I could that our freedoms in this country - to be at the park (complete with caterpillars) was because of the sacrifices of our service men and women.

If you or a loved one has served or is currently serving in our military- THANK YOU!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How I spent my summer vacation - day 3

Yesterday was a wedding day for me so the kids got to spend some time with Grandma that included a special trip to our favorite pizza joint. While I was melting in the sun with my second shooter, Nicole, the kids rode their bikes through the campground and had their second sleepover. (last night was in Sam's room, the night before they were in Julia's room)

On my way home I pulled over to take a picture of the sky. It was about 9:15pm. Have you ever seen the sky light up like this? It was a first for me!

This post is part of a summer series designed to record the many memories made during summer vacation that usually don't get written down because we're too busy making even more memories. You can read the original post here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How I spent my summer vacation - day 2

Yesterday I blogged about the challenge I've set out for myself to blog every sing day during summer vacation.

Today I'm photographing a wedding so I'm writing setting this to autopublish while I'm melting in the 90 degree heat with 90% humidity.

Yesterday Julia asked if I would paint with her. I had a few minutes before I needed to leave so I sat down to paint with watercolors next to my art loving daughter. Sam joined us at the table but chose crayons instead of paints. Referring to his snake book he started measuring to make sure the snake he was drawing was the correct length. That's when I got the idea to roll out some white paper so they could also draw the really, really big snakes.

I didn't have to ask them twice. They were SO excited to do this impromptu project. PapaBear measured out the correct lengths of the snakes while the kids started to color them.

Two and a half hours later this is what they'd created:

37 snakes on 16 feet of paper. The anaconda actually gets up to 30 feet though, (Still not sure what possessed me to swim in the same lake as one in college) so we had to pretend it was a baby one.

I plan to hang the giant snake banner in the garage. That's where our BIG art projects go - the fridge only holds so many and this way we get to enjoy them much longer.

Hope your summer vacation is off to as good a start as ours!

How to maintain a straw bale garden

I am a newbie in the gardening world. Four summer's ago I tried container gardening with our first born and like I said back then, I didn't grow much, I just killed them really slowly. I've learned from my mistakes that plants need to be fed multiple times during the growing season. Last year I added fertilizer every couple of weeks.

This year I plan to fertilize my straw bale garden every week to try to avoid the blossom end rot (sign of calcium deficiency by the way - add bone meal) and to encourage my plants to GROW GROW GROW. They are all natural fertilizers and I don't use very much of them at a time. Not a full meal...just a snack....sprinkled carefully around the base of the plant like this:

Friday, May 28, 2010

How I spent my summer vacation

Our first week of summer vacation is flying by and I have a sneaky suspicion that it's only going to get busier. There are so many opportunities in this area that we'll have to make a list of what we want to make sure there is time for...something like Darcie's Bucket List. All of my jobs get really busy at the same time and on top of that the kids are out of school. I can barely remember what we did yesterday let alone four days ago.

PapaBear was in the Boundary Waters recently with Grizzly Gramps so I played hookie and the kids and I spent 90% of our time outside. Beach, kiddie pools, hammocks, picnics....rinse, repeat. He came home and I when I tried to tell him what we'd done while he was gone I couldn't keep it all straight. Not good MamaBear....not good at all.

I've been thinking of some way to make sure that I record the memories we make this summer despite our busy schedule. Our kids live a pretty idyllic life and I always wonder if they will retain any memory of their many adventures here in the park. Blogging is a great way to preserve those memories, but I'm not very good about blogging often enough. That is going to change....starting today. I'm challenging myself to blog every day of summer vacation. At the end of the summer we'll have a nice little collection of memories to look back on.

Starting with this morning and my paddle around our lake....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I still do

Three more years under our belts since I wrote this post. Hard to believe how fast time goes and how much more I love PapaBear every day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - The Grad.

Alphabitty Moments - the letter B

There were so many options for the letter B this week. But I decided that BUILDING was the best fit for Sam's Alphabitty Moment. Why? Because for years he's been building with something or another. I don't think he's going to outgrow it anytime soon, but it's been a big part of his playtime for a while now. I also want to be more intentional about the photos I use this time around. (Often times I just use something from my archives)

He builds with childhood toys of mine and some of PapaBears. He also has a set of alphabet blocks that have provided hours and hours of fun. He also gravitates towards the building activities when we go to the local museums.

I love watching his creativity come out in what he builds. And the look on his face when he makes a tower with all the blocks? Priceless!

If you are new to Alphabitty Moments (there's still time to jump on board!) click here to read about how to participate or click on the tab above to read all the Alphabitty Moments posts.

Now it's your turn...what B moment do you want to remember this week?

Prayer Request

Remember back in January when I went to Wisconsin for a blogger's weekend? I met Katie there and one of my favorite memories of the weekend was standing in the kitchen on the last day talking to her. We'd only met the day before but she had this way about her that was so warm and inviting - like talking to a girlfriend you've known your whole life. I remember we talked about our husbands' search for employment. Her trust in God to provide for their family was woven into her words in a way that was so encouraging to me since PapaBear had been out of work for a year at that point.

Katie and her family could use some encouragement right now as they learn more about their unborn baby' condition. Would you take a moment and visit her blog and offer up a prayer on her behalf? Thanks!

Monday, May 24, 2010

i heart yellow (ducks)

especially this one!

Sam has been wearing this towel after swimming since he was two years old. This will probably be the very last summer he'll use it. Thanks to i heart faces for a week dedicated to yellow!

fun in the sun





We've spent the last couple of Sundays at the beach. It's not even Memorial Day yet! It's always more fun when friends come over to splash in our lake and at the rate we're going, Sam and Julia are going to be as blonde as Brianna by the end of summer!

We do use sun hats during the dangerous parts of the day (11-3) but avoid sunscreen and it's harmful ingredients as much as possible. The kids start off the season with very fair skin but we slowly build up to longer stretches in the sun as they tan. I'm not saying I won't use sunscreen ever again - typically I only pull it out early on in the season when they will be exposed for longer than 1 hour between 11-3.

What methods do you use for sun protection?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart

This past week while grocery shopping she belted out the words to that song. Up and down the aisles.... and who was I to stop her?

I LOVE that she isn't shy about loving Jesus. I love that her favorite song is Away in a Manger, that she sings, "This is the Day" whenever the mood strikes her.

The one that gets me every time is when she sings "Come Into My Heart"

Do you know that one? It goes like this:

Come into my heart.
Come into my heart.
Come into my heart Lord Jesus.
Come in today.
Come in to stay.
Come into my heart Lord Jesus.

We sing these songs every time we get in the car to drive somewhere and since we live in the country we drive everywhere. It's a great way to start our day - makes our last minutes together before dropping Sam off at school full of praise and worship. Nothing beats that!

Whenever the opportunity presents itself I talk to the kids about what it means to ask Jesus into our hearts. That if we ask Him to, He will forgive our sins and we can live with Him in Heaven forever. He died on the cross for us - something that we thank Him for every night during our "Thankfuls" (The kids say one thing they are thankful for and one thing they want to ask for forgiveness for. They always say "God & Jesus" and something related to the day. We've been doing it for over a year and it's a great way to end our day.)

Tonight as I was wiping toothpaste off of Julia's face she said something about her heart being cold (not exactly sure what that meant????) so I asked her what could warm her up and she said that Jesus could. The door was open once again for us to talk about what it meant for Jesus to come into her heart.

"That will make my heart nice and warm!"

Mine too baby girl. Mine too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How to plant a straw bale garden

Other than sticking plants into straw rather than into the ground, the planting part is pretty similar to traditional gardening. The spacing between plants is the same.

For example, per bale:
2 tomato plants
2-3 squash (then thin to 1)
3 green peppers
2 broccoli

Then it was time to get creative....

lettuce on one half, radishes* on the other and cilantro and rosemary on the side of the bale.

Broccoli on top of the bale and pumpkin on the side.

Green peppers on top and cilantro on the side.

If you remember my garden from last year then you probably notice the biggest difference between the two - the new trellis system is going to replace the tomato cages and the string we strung between the stakes. Tomato cages don't stay standing once the bales start to decompose significantly later in the growing season.

On the side with the concrete reinforcement wire ($7 a sheet at HomeDepot) we planted 12 tomato plants, 4 bean plants, and we planted two rows of peas* (one on each side of the wire).

In front of the peas we planted carrots* and in front of the beans I planted a row of onions (the rest of the onions are planted in their own bale just across the way from the bonus row)

We planted much bigger plants this year and already some blossoms on some of the cherry tomatoes.

And there you have it folks! Pry apart the decomposing bales, stick your plants in and watch your garden grow....

* denotes veggies that were planted as seeds in 2 inches of organic potting soil (The other 'dirt' you see is actually fertilizer & manure. See this post where I talk about how poorly the fertilizer dissolved this year.)

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

So long,


first day of 3 year old class September 2008

auf Wuedersehen,

field trip May of 2009 to our park

good bye

first day of school September 2009


sign on the front of the school building

Tomorrow morning is graduation and then it's on to Kindergarden....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alphabitty Moments - The letter A

Welcome to round three of Alphabitty Moments! A little over a year ago I came up with the idea to share a picture a week that corresponded to a letter of the alphabet. The idea is to record the every day moments of childhood that right now might seem like no big deal but before we know it, we'll look back on those moments and realize they were in fact the very essence of childhood. Sometimes I'll create a scrapbook page to go with the letter of the week and other times I'll only post a photo. How elaborate you make this meme is completely up to you, but I gotta tell ya if you can be disciplined enough to do the scrapbook page the end result is well worth it. Need a little inspiration? Check out the first book I made out of this little project here.

This time around I'm going to give Picaboo a try. I found a theme that I think I can make work for pretty much any word/photo combo. I really like the colorful yet simple layouts. (click on the image to see it bigger) Speaking of colorful...this was a pretty memorable painting experience. Normally we use paper, but this was one of those times of discovery; of letting them be little.

There are plenty of opportunities for teaching them the 'right' thing to do, but it was SO worth the mess to let them paint each other.

Now it's your turn...what "A" moment do YOU want to remember?

Batter Up!

Wordless Wednesday - Sunday's Excitement

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is a garden really worth all that work?

Chances are you've probably asked yourself that question before. Even though the hardest part of my garden is the math, I wondered if it was worth it to get one decent sized tomato every few days from my four plants. This past winter I got the answer I was looking for. Winter? Yes, winter.

Remember this post where I share a very easy way to preserve tomatoes? The beauty of freezing them is that you can freeze one at a time. Unless you have LOTS of tomato plants you aren't going to have enough ripe at once to preserve them using traditional canning methods. All winter long instead of buying expensive organic tomato puree or diced tomatoes for our chili and our stews we added tomatoes from the freezer. It was pretty easy to guess based on the size of the tomatoes how many it would take to replace how many ounces of canned tomatoes each recipe called for. They were still mostly frozen when they were plopped into the crock pot but every time they cooked down into the perfect consistency.

Saving $3-$6 every time we make stew or chili? That really adds up in BearCountry were it's winter for six months out of the year! Now that's the kind of math I like!

Conditioning our straw bale garden

Last week while we were in the thick of conditioning our straw bales I was glad it wasn't quite time to put these plants into the bales. It was COLD, WINDY, and RAINY. They were much happier in our garage I'm sure.

If you click on the Straw Bale Gardening tab above you can see how the bales have changed in the past few weeks. For some reason the fertilizer combo I used this year wasn't dissolving very well so I came up with this method to help the water move the fertilizer inside the bales. They were decomposing OK so it wasn't hard to create the holes.

It was so easy, I let the three year old do it.

Next up! Planting!

reaching for the goal

The first day of soccer he put the ball in the net five times. That-a-boy!

The last game of the season was this past Saturday. He scored 7 goals.

My goal? To support him in whatever direction his interests may lean.
It's gonna be tough for this former center forward to see her son as a goalie, but have you ever seen such a big face? He L.O.V.E.S to play goalie even though at the preschool level they don't really have a goalie position. We play a lot at home and he makes some pretty amazing saves - especially considering his parents are the ones shooting at the goal.

The ultimate goal? To teach our little sports star good sportsmanship wherever he ends up on the field.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The view from here

Three nests in three trees.

We watched mama birds feed baby birds from here.

Just this mama with her babies on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

These are the days I want to remember.

This post is part of Krystyn's Mommy and Me Monday. Click on the button to see other mom's who've gotten out from behind the camera.

Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn

Sunday, May 16, 2010

That's it!

After 18 days of watering (1/3 of which was done via rain) our straw bale garden is ready for planting today. We're SO EXCITED!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Living in a Campground- By the Numbers

3 - the number of hours I worked in the park office this morning
1 - the number of soccer games that I missed this morning (see above)
7 - the number of goals Sam scored at his game
4 - the number of people cheering for Sam from the sidelines
1 - the number of dogs cheering for Sam from the sidelines
17 - the number of people who came to our new Saturday Morning program (They made forest moblies)
2 - the number of hours Julia played in her bed at naptime
8 - the number of Keens our family wore today
1 - the number of [live] baby birds we saw today
6 - the number of [dead] baby birds we saw today
5 - the number of [dead] baby birds we scooped up with a shovel
1 - the number of dogs in the campground that look EXACTLY like Conor
4 - the number of turtles in Turtle Pond today
2 - the number of times Julia fell and scraped her knees this afternoon
5 - the number of bug bites on my neck and face.
25 - the number of people who came to my campfire program tonight
100 - the number of pieces of candy the kids 'fished' for tonight
5 - the number of people who almost hit me when they were practicing their casting
2 - the number of very well behaved and VERY DIRTY kids we scrubbed in the tub before bed

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Alphabitty Moments - The album cover

Welcome to the final week of Alphabitty Moments for this round! Today we are sharing the covers of our books. I used Mixbook for this book and it just so happens that they are having a 20% off sale that runs through the 19th! All you have to do is enter 2THEMES20 when you check out to receive the discount. They have LOTS of great themes and I bet you could whip out a book in an evening if you wanted to take advantage of this deal.

Or you can do what I do and only create a page a week and avoid the pressure to complete a whole book in one sitting :) I am a few layouts behind so I won't be able to get this book done in time for the sale, but hopefully there will be more offers out before Christmas that I can take advantage of. Still haven't decided which company I'm going to go with for the next round...until then, here are a couple of cover designs I came up with:

I didn't use a preset themed book but I did try to keep things pretty consistent throughout the book. This cover uses some of those same colors and is nice and girly for my girl.

Then there's this one: I LOVED the font when I saw it but didn't think it went well with the florals so I picked a pretty blue in the same texture as many of the papers in the book.

Which is your favorite?

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...