30 Days of Summer :: Day 26 :: Attempting to shoot the Storybook Skirt

To re-open my shop, I need to get some pictures done.  Which means I need some cooperation - both from the weather and from the kids.
Usually, I attempt some pictures on a sunny day when the children are playing quietly.  Although this usually ends the playing quietly piece.
So today I thought I would try to incorporate them into the shoot.

I may just have to wait until school starts...

And the Winner Is...

Comment #1 from Andrea.
Thanks so much for playing!  This was fun.
Let's do it again soon.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 25 :: A Productive Day

I love it when a day actually feels productive.  Weekends seem to have been a wash around here lately so we were pretty ecstatic to finally get some things done yesterday.
A new pillow for the new couch.
Finally getting this bookcase (do you love or hate the wood paneling background?) up into O's room.
We salvaged this one from a friend's curb as we arrived for a BBQ at their house this summer.  I know, classy...
Thanks Andrea!

 And the replacement of the first floor toilet!

Check three things off of our never ending list...

Next up, finally backing E's curtains...  that have actually been hanging in her room for a year now, unbacked and unhemmed.  Then I'll get some pictures of her room up here, too.
 **Reminder that the Back to School Giveaway ends tonight.  Remember to leave a comment!  I know some people had trouble earlier.  I changed some of the settings so please try again.  Check back tomorrow to see if you won!**

30 Days of Summer :: Day 24

This morning was a screaming, crying, can't-leave-the-room-for-5-minutes morning where in the end I just needed to call The Dad down and take 5 minutes out on the front steps.
So, this picture is more for me than for you - a reminder that they really do love each other and are good buddies, despite all the drama.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 23 :: My 100th Post and a Little Back To School Giveaway

To Celebrate my 100th Post here on Teaparties and Playdates, I'm offering a little Back to School Giveaway.
Included in the giveaway are:
  • A Funky Monkey Lunchbox Napkin
  • A Sock Monkey deck of cards (in cool metal tin)
  • A fun monkey pencil
  • 3 organic Yummy Earth lollipops
 We've been doing a lot around here to get ready for school (less than three weeks away now!) - counting down with a paper chain, preparing Schultuten for the first day, buying uniforms, stocking up on pencils (and our first electric pencil sharpener!) and other school supplies, and talking constantly about what it will be like to be in Kindergarten, so:
To enter, just leave a note in the comments letting me know either
  1. Something you are doing or have done to prepare a child for the start of school or
  2. Something you remember doing when you were a kid to get ready for the first day of school
Leave the note by bedtime Sunday evening (say, 10pm EST) and I'll use the handy Random Number Generator to pick a winner.  Then just check back here Monday to see if you won.
Thanks for Playing!!

30 Days of Summer :: Day 22

One of the things I'll miss about Summer:
The plethora of Farmstands and a Fridge always filled with Fresh Fruit.
I've been having some glitches with my blog template and am trying to make adjustments - Thanks for bearing with me!

30 Days of Summer :: Day 21

Some of the materials taunting me from the table in my studio.

Some fun, fresh Metro Market fabric I received in a swap with Julie of Jaybird Quilts. She was one of two people I met at Art Star who bought dresses for kids they didn't have yet (with husbands they didn't have yet) because they loved the fabric. I love that!

So this fabric, combined with some red Michael Miller checked bias tape and ruffle rac, hasn't decided what it wants to be yet. It's coming, though! I had first thought of another pillow case dress (which needs another name, by the way) but maybe a fun little skirt with a trimmed pocket... Or something from my Japanese pattern book... It's so hard to decide!
I will though. Maybe tonight...

30 Days of Summer :: Day 20

I had the good fortune this weekend of being able to hang out in a coffee shop for a bit all by myself.

A great iced mocha, a good book (that makes me feel like a much better mom in comparison), and an amazing almond croissant.

I have picked up numerous habits and lessons from my husband over the last decade. One of my favorites being how to order in a restaurant when you're not really sure what you want.

I eyed the bakery case - scone? chocolate croissant? It all looked good, although I wasn't sure what everything was.

So I asked, "Is there one thing in there that is better than everything else?"

"The almond croissant is amazing."

"I'll take it."

And it was.

Sometimes, the waitress or counter staff isn't quite so opinionated. Or accommodating. Maybe they are worried about admitting that some items just aren't as good. They'll give me the "Oh, everything here is good." That doesn't really help.

But most of the time, when they do recommend something, they are spot on. And I greatly appreciate it.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 19 :: Summer is Still in Full Swing

Can I do it? Can I really finish the 30 Days of Summer before Summer is over?

For us, Summer is still in full swing. The kids don't start school until September 15th, so we still have a good couple of weeks left.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. These 30 Days, which were meant to get me posting more regularly, have been... rejuvenating? inspiring? A fresh start, of sorts...

While I had originally meant to post every day of the 30, I will at least try to have this all wrapped up by Labor Day.

Between now and then, I'll also be celebrating my 100th post with a special little Back to School Giveaway.

Stay Tuned!

30 Days of Summer :: Day 18

I think that one of the (if not the) things I love about reading blogs is the pictures. A little peek into the corners of people's lives. I love taking photos, but have felt pretty restricted. Outside, park, farm, yard, of course... But someone else's house? Or mine when other people are watching? The coffee shop? A local restaurant? Then I hesitate.

I have begun carrying my camera everywhere. I received a point-and-shoot for Mother's Day which has made it easier. Before that, we only had the digital SLR, which I love, but which is a whole 'nother bag in itself to carry which makes it difficult with my regular bag on my shoulder and a child on each hand.

I have taken it to dinner parties and chickened out, failing to capture a beautiful spread on the table or that perfect kitchen shot. "I have a blog," I could say in explanation - "Yeah, one that not very many people read, but that I try to post beautiful pictures on... " Not sure how that would go over.

But today, today I felt a little braver.

I took the kids to this fabulous local restaurant. Set in an old flower shop greenhouse. The food was beautiful - brioche french toast with strawberries and vanilla peach butter. My camera stayed in my bag.

Then we watched through the window as a young guy began unloading the flower truck (the florist is still located in the building). He walked down a hallway that we could see through the open doorway next to our table. Carrying armfuls of beautiful bouquets. Buckets of roses. My camera still stayed in my bag.

We oohhed and aahhhed over the different colors. We admired the great big blooms. He smiled at the kids. And then, on his way back to the truck for more, he came over to our table with this lone flower. He handed it to E. "This one broke off", he said.

I pulled out my camera. Turned off my flash. Hoped that nobody noticed or cared. And snapped a picture.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 17 :: The Lunchbox Napkin

I haven't had nearly enough studio time since The Dad began working from home. It's much more difficult to keep the kids quiet enough up on the third floor while he is on the phone.

But I did manage to get about 20 minutes the other day to whip up E's first Lunchbox Napkin.

I hope to make a handful of these (I don't do laundry as often as I should) in different fabrics for her to take to school in her lunchbox. The napkin is double-sided, so it's thick enough to be a good little mat to spread out her food, as well as absorbent enough for any little (?) mess she may make. I'm sure it will eventually be stained with blueberry juice or the like, but that's what napkins are for, right?

She's having a hard time getting ready for Kindergarten. She's anxious and worried with lots of questions. I forget what a huge transition it is, going into a big school that you've never been to before with a teacher you know nothing about.

I hope that this napkin will bring a little piece of home to her in the middle of the day.

And save some trees at the same time.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 16 :: Camping With the Kids

We finally made it out for our first camping trip of the season. And it was... mostly fun and interesting.

I got a little scared when I climbed into the tent for the first time and had flashbacks to previous trips where no one slept and babies nursed all. night. long.

This trip, bedtime went smoothly (albeit late, after a struggling fire and dinner in the dark) and everyone was happy enough in the morning to get in a good hike. As much as the kids complain about being tired, wanting to be carried, scraped hands from falling, and wet socks from stepping (purposefully) into mud and puddles, they love being in the woods.
E collected treasures along the way - red leaves, sticks, rocks, and a toad (that one got away), brought them back to the campsite, and took pictures of them before we left. I had to pry the camera out of her hands. We may be in trouble.

O even squeezed in a little pretend play as we packed up. Digging a dirty, unmelted marshmallow out of the fire circle and pretending to roast it.
I love it.
Monkey see, monkey do, right?

30 Days of Summer :: Day 15

My September issue of Cookie Magazine came in the mail yesterday.
With The Dad and The Kids in it!

Lower right hand corner, Page 81.
Heading up the stairs at the Smith Family Playhouse. So fun!

30 Days of Summer :: Day 14

We've really discovered board games this summer.

A new favorite, as E is mastering the roll and move, is Race to the Roof by Ravensburger.

O is still a bit too young for it. We team up against E, with him rolling and drawing cards and me moving the piece (and keeping track of where it was when he decides to take it somewhere else for a bit).

His favorite is Eeboo's Storefront Bingo, the first that all four of us can sit down and play together all the way through. We've learned that the 'helping' way of playing makes the game go a little more quickly - if you draw a card that belongs in someone else's shop, you give it to them and the next person goes. Otherwise, the game can drag on a little too long for a 3 year old (or a 33 year old).

For something a little more 3D, they also both love Balancing on the Moon, something I picked up at a garage sale last year that I was happy to see for sale in the new Magic Cabin catalog this week.

We've had a lot of rainy days here this summer and the games have gotten a lot of use. It's so much fun to watch them develop new skills - things as simple rolling a die and knowing what the number is without having to count - like learning sight words - or even just taking turns. These little things we take for granted that have to be learned somewhere...

30 Days of Summer :: Day 13

He actually regularly, and spontaneously, stops to smell the flowers.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 12

Once you have kids, it gets a little harder to have friends without kids. Not even because you have less in common, they don't want to hear one more story about the baby, or you are so sleep deprived that you can't hold a conversation anymore... Logistically it just gets more difficult. You have bedtime to accommodate. And little beasts that run around, knock things over, and seem to be able to find and touch the most breakable item in someone's house.

It also just gets that much harder to go somewhere and sit in one place. Especially when supervising your kids in someone else's house. Not very conducive to having a very deep conversation.
As our kids have gotten older, it's become easier to go to someone else's house for dinner. They are a little easier to occupy. They can sit at the table for a little longer. They can go through their backpack themselves and find something to do.

But also, every once in a while you get those cool friends who, even though they don't have kids or work with kids or spend time with kids on a regular basis - they just get it.

We went to dinner at their house tonight and it was fabulous. A pleasant evening made even better by the fact that she is a chef/food writer/recipe developer. Homemade pizza with zucchini and onion. Made from scratch caramel sauce on ice cream for dessert... Yum.
She even had the kids make their own pizzas. Which they loved. E asked for the last piece of hers to be wrapped up so she could bring it home.

And, not to be outdone, her husband raced slinkies down the stairs with them for another half hour after dinner while we sat and talked at the table.
My favorite part, though? Both kids fell asleep on the way home and stayed asleep while being carried in and put to bed.

Ahhh... Perfection.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 11

A Peek into O's Room
Both kids' rooms are still a work in progress, but I'm excited about some of the little touches we've added recently.
Even more important, we've culled through toys and books to minimize the clutter which makes it oh-so-much easier to clean every day.
Right now I'm all about minimizing the extraneous and surrounding ourselves with beautiful (to us) things that we love.

Thanks for looking!

30 Days of Summer :: Day 10

Sometimes all it takes to turn around a crabby morning is a little creativity at breakfast.

Toast with almond butter, banana, and honey.
Putting a smile on some sad and whiny faces.

30 Days of Summer :: Day 9

Sharpie Relief

Our nursery school was the first to be brave and hand my daughter a Sharpie to color with. And she loved it. Watercoloring over it afterwards. I loved the final look. The layer of the paint washed over the permanent marker.
So, in another attempt to fend off summer boredom in our household, I pulled out paper, sharpies in a dozen different colors, and some watercolors. The kids had a great time and the sharpie stayed on the paper. For the most part. And not on the bodies as I had feared. Though O did decide to draw a green 'frame' around his paper. On the kitchen table.
Luckily it's not a fancy piece of furniture.

And, really, I needed that extra little push to start putting a tablecloth out for meals, right?

30 Days of Summer :: Day 8

Our fashionista.

The front of the 'dress' - a superhero cape.
The 'back' of the dress, a dress-up baker's apron.

She wanted to go ride her skateboard out on the sidewalk with the teenage boy from across the street.

"Absolutely not are you going out of the yard dressed like that."
"But look mom, my tummy's covered. My bum's covered. What's wrong?"
Oh boy... what we are in for...