Monday, June 28, 2010

Aargh Mateys!

She needed one hoop earring and a striped shirt. He asked if I had any eye-patches. The other He just wore whatever they draped him with and jumped up and down with delight.

It's all part of a funny phenomenon that's been unfolding after dinner lately, a creative camaraderie with a rather odd cast of characters...

A bossy but benevolent 9-year-old...

A compliant and creative 6-year-old...

And a 2-year-old who does everything the big kids do with spunk and unbridled enthusiasm.

Somehow they all find common ground in the magical land of make-believe. Stay here for long after supper-time and you might find yourself aboard a pirate ship made of bed-sheets and kid chairs.

I don't know what's inspiring them so. Maybe it's the freedom of summer or the sweltering Southern heat gone to their heads or the contentment brought about by full tummies and a day of sun-drenched play.

And while I do love my role as mommy bystander, watching them play makes me wish I could travel back in time and join them as a fellow kid. If they tried to include me now, I would just be the clunky and awkward grown-up who wrecks up the ship because my head and body are, well, grown-up size.

I didn't say "no" as they foraged through the attic for pirate clothes and strapped patches over their eyes with construction paper and band-aids. I tried to play it cool as they made swords from vacuum cleaner attachments and drew elaborate treasure maps with markers that left smears on the kitchen table.

Ordinary household junk magically morphed into perfect pirate gear. I just watched and eavesdropped and marveled.

Apparently I wandered from wonder long ago...

But three makeshift pirates have a way of leading me back home.


Linked with Tuesdays Unwrapped {Chatting at the Sky}

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Because Sometimes a Lens Isn't Just a Lens...

The camera fairy recently gifted me with a new lens for my birthday. I was surprised and elated beyond measure. Of all the things I have {not-so-secretly} longed for, this was it.

This simple and uncomplicated little lens does something my standard lens doesn't do so well: it blurs the background. Photographers call it "bokeh."

I call it beautiful.

For someone who thinks about a million different things at once, focusing on a singular subject while all of the rest blends into a blurry calm is so very soothing...

I call it lens therapy.

There's something about this lens that captures the ordinary and makes you marvel at its beauty.

Here are a few of my recent therapeutic moments.

{My niece, Cora, and a rare moment of stillness...}

{This makes me miss my sister. I got to see her recently and we drank a lot of these and ate nearly two rounds of Brie in just two days. Heaven.}


{And finally we have a very sweet and delicious, albeit messy, Cupcake...}

{I've decided his hair is the swirly frosting.}

{And in case you're wondering, the lens is a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II.}


Linked up with Tuesdays Unwrapped {Chatting at the Sky}

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Eyes Have It

My eyes saw a spray paint lid, a ponytail holder, and a handful of weeds.

Her nine-year-old eyes saw an artful, diminutive arrangement of beauty.

I like her eyes better.


Linked up with Tuesdays Unwrapped {Chatting at the Sky.}

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Great Summer Spruce-Up

{I apologize in advance for the glarey photos...I am too impatient to wait for better light.}

We finished school a week and a half ago. As my reward for teaching a kindergardener and third-grader at home while keeping a two-year-old from eating cake-scented candles {which he did while I completed this project}, I set about the important business of some long-overdue cleaning redecorating.

Mine is not a house blog but sometimes I want it to be. Seeing as how there are no blog police to handcuff me if I digress from my usual randomness concerning kids and personality tests and birds' nests on my front door, I am going to live on the edge and show you pictures of my newly-remodeled-for-summer hutch.

This first summer spruce-up project just so happened to coincide with a "collections" linky party hosted by none other than The Nester. I think she's totally right about home accessories; complimentary or similar items can work their decorative magic so much better when grouped together. No need to be one of those martyr accessories and stand alone.

I am not a decorator in real-life but I sometimes play one at home. So a few mornings ago, I cleaned out the contents of my rehabbed hutch, grabbed an armful of white stuff from my stash o' junk in the attic, and strapped the hot glue gun in its holster.

As much as I loved the sweetness of Blondie's tea-sets snuggled up alongside mine on the shelves, it was just not the look I was going for long-term. Besides, she's getting her own room this summer and I promised her a little place of her own for tchotchkes.

The top shelf is a tea and coffee set that my parents brought back to me from Germany ten years ago.

It's very sentimental and very lovely and until I put it in the hutch, very unused. In fact, I bought this thrift-store hutch with that tea set in mind. Now it finally has a place to shine and I do, in fact, sip coffee from those cups.

The rest is just a collection of dishes and frames and stuff from nature that I played around with until it looked nice. Those little mini cake-stands are thrift-store candlesticks with white plates hot-glued glued to the top. And while I would love to have mini-cakes on those mini-stands all the time, sea shells and sparkles are more practical and less fattening.

I took The Nester's advice {from one of her posts a while back} and framed up some little trickets to mix in with the stands and shells. Old frames, scrapbook paper, and hot glue...that's it. You can frame a baby spoon, a piece of jewelry, your two-year old, whatever suits you.

The whole collection is sort of summery and beachy and a little bit French, which just so happens to be my favorite blend of pretty. And it didn't cost a dime. Ooh-la-la!

As much as I love diagramming sentences and long division, 180 days of staring at numbers and helping verbs will make a girl crazy for a bit of freshening up at home.

So stay tuned...I have a feeling there's more to come.

Now hop on over to The Nester's Party!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Right, Left, or Middle?

A 20-question magazine quiz recently brought about some all-too-familiar over-thinking. You'll be happy to know it wasn't about choosing a loyal BFF or whether one is attracted to bad boys versus the straight-laced sort. My magazine quizzes these days are decidedly more grown-up. Thank goodness.

The June issue of Real Simple featured "Organizing for your Personality." A brief quiz reveals whether one is left-brained, "those who think in words (attention, list makers!), do a lot of advance planning, or approach challenges in a rational, linear way" OR right-brained, those who "are visually oriented," who "tend to think in images rather than words, focus on the big picture rather than the details, and go through life in a somewhat seat-of-the-pants (a.k.a. scattered) way."

Before I do the big reveal, a bit of background...

I have long tried to reconcile my affinity for lists and label makers with my penchant for spontaneity and creativity. How is it that I can plan weddings or as one of my professors stated on a reference, "run a small country" yet not get a kid to soccer practice on time or banish the never-ending clutter?

Why can I not read a map? If someone gives me directions, it needs to be in list-form {turn left here, go 1/4 of a mile and turn right on this street.}

My light switches are labeled...

Yet I've chosen to write this blog post instead of tackling the dishes.

My baskets are organized {and yes, labeled.}

And alphabetical order makes my heart race {in a good way}...

Yet daily I do battle with the spontaneous, haphazard, absent-minded, and creative urges that thwart my Type-A ways and good intentions.

I feel as if my brain, not knowing whether to go right or left, could use some direction, a concrete label to give it an identity....which is why I took the quiz.

The truth of the matter is, I'm somewhere in the middle. Shocker. My score revealed 5 points for left-brained and 3 points for right. Funny how a simple quiz confirms what I already knew but am still reluctant to embrace. It seems easier to be one or the other.

Free-spirited artist types probably don't lament their inability to live life in a linear, labeled way. Likewise, the Type-A sorts likely don't go through their organized, matching, alphabetized existence and wish they could fly by the seats of their pants a little more.

This isn't the first of my personality inventories that defies solid categorization. My Myers-Briggs shows that I am smack in the middle of E and I...which is where I sit in the other sections as well. While some would say I'm balanced, I simply feel confused and fragmented, torn between two seemingly disparate selves.

E.E. Cummings wrote,

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.

Or in the words of my mom, a wise advice-giver in her own right,

You be you.

Easier said than done.

I'm sure the editors of Real Simple never intended their little quiz to result in such existential musings, but it helped me realize that living from a place of authenticity isn't easy for most of us, especially when we tend to inhabit a middle kingdom. For someone with an affinity for label makers, the inability to label or categorize oneself is, well, disconcerting.

Much like my kitchen, this isn't one of those posts that has a neat and tidy ending.

The journey towards the true self is just that, a journey.

And it's probably best to leave the label maker at home.


So I'm curious, which direction does your brain go?


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