Thursday, March 31, 2011

ordinary beauty

Since I have recently gotten in the habit of taking pictures, I notice small visual moments a little more consciously, even without the camera in hand.  There are so many moments of ordinary beauty that fill my soul, and yet many may have gone unnoticed if I hadn't started looking for the way the sun or light (or shadow) affects a photo.  A moment captured in stillness.

I have a little point-and-shoot.  I post all of my photos straight off of the camera (with the occasional crop if the background is very messy and distracts from the subject).  I only recently started playing with the different modes on my camera, and while I would eventually love to have a DSLR, I like the minimal amount of energy needed to pick up my little camera and click the button.  It can be that simple.

(These photos are all from the last three days)
peeling an apple in the sunshine

touchable bubbles

So, while I really enjoy capturing little photo moments of our days, I especially love the awareness of visual perspective that taking pictures has brought into my life.  Anything that reminds us to appreciate the ordinary beauty present  in our lives, is a very good thing :)

Olbrich Gardens on a chilly, sunny day

 Veterans Park with friends

bedtime giggles

 hand-sewing a red tribble (They continue to multiply in our house.  You can still enter Camille's tribble giveaway here :)

May you notice the moments of ordinary beauty in your life!

Monday, March 28, 2011

the making of tribbles and a small giveaway

  After having a theater date with Papa last week to see Mad Science Production's Star Trek Live, Camille came home wanting to make some tribbles.  Hmmm, yeah, not being a trekkie myself I had to look it up.  Furry ovals or circles it looks like.  Yes, couldn't be easier!  And apparently they multiply, like crazy on the show, and only slightly less like crazy in my home.

It started with a trip to the fabric store for furry material, with Sylvia putting in a request for a pink tribble.  Since there were 19 people ahead of us in line for the cutting table (!) we were forced to browse and browse and we came home with significantly more items than we had intended.  Besides this lovely stack of fabric, we got a simple summer dress pattern (for Camille to make for herself and Sylvia), a cross stitch kit and sew-your-own tote bag (for C), a color-your-own wooden puzzle (for S), and one skein of wool yarn for me.

Camille decided on two circles sewn together and stuffed.  She traced a circle of furry fabric and cut it out. Then she pinned it fur-to-fur to another piece of the fabric to cut out an identical circle, sewed most of the circumference on the sewing machine, turned it inside-out, stuffed it, and hand-sewed the opening closed.  After the first one, she only needed my help with threading the machine, and she was off and sewing on her own.

Camille is really enjoying the process of creating these tribbles, and while a couple of them have intended recipients, she would like to offer one small pink tribble and one small brown tribble as a giveaway (we will send them to you wherever you are).  Simply leave a comment if you would like to enter and we will randomly draw a winner to be the proud owner of two lovingly-made tribbles :)

There is one week to enter.  Winner will be drawn on Monday, April 4.

 And the winner is.......
A great big thank you to all who entered from Camille!  (Kyle we'll bring you your tribbles next time we see you :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

painting by candlelight

We were planning to participate in Earth hour as a family tonight, but Camille has recently been scared of candle flame, so Papa took her and Ayla out of the house and I got to spend a truly beautiful, candlelit hour with Sylvia.

 After we shut down all of the electricity in the house (except for the fridge), Sylvia declared that she wanted to paint, so we got out the watercolors,

and she painted what else? but lots of candle flame.  We also sang, danced, giggled, and snuggled up to read books by the flickering light.  Even tooth-brushing and hand-washing took on a different dimension by candlelight.  Sylvia noticed that as the water dripped off of our fingers, it left fleeting shadows on the walls, so we spent a long time dripping water off of our fingers and trying to spy its shadows.
 At the end of the hour, I was reminded that what is good for the earth is good for its people, and it was a very goodly hour spent with my four-year old sprite!  We hope to carry Earth hour forward by reducing our energy consumption in general (did I mention that the house we're moving to has solar panels and a wood-burning stove?) and also to have more mother-daughter candlelit moments like these :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

On the go

We started out the day at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, where we met with other homeschoolers for a tour.
 There were a lot of interactive displays, and the building was designed to "bring together scientists and researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as the arts, humanities, social sciences, education, business and law" and to "promote dialogue as a fertile crossroads for ideas among diverse parts of UW–Madison and the larger community."
 The girls were hoping to see the 3-D printer that can scan and reproduce 3-dimensional objects.  We didn't get to see it in action, but each of the girls got to keep a Wisconsin W that was made using the printer.
 Apparently while I was busy, a certain Someone discovered my camera and how to use it ;-)
We had packed a lunch and ate in the car on the way to Camille's pottery class.  We had a few extra minutes to spare so we followed a sign that said "rustic road" and saw these cute little miniature ponies (and went over a one-lane bridge).  Oh yeah, and saw two cranes in flight, at least I think they were cranes.  Don't you love it when a spur of the moment side trip is so fun?  (We also shouted woo-hoo in unison at the top of each hill, no matter how small...)

Despite all of Sylvia's best sneaking efforts, she wasn't able to catch a chicken while waiting for Camille's pottery class to end, but we did get to see 40 2-week old chicks in their brooder (sorry, I didn't take any pictures).
Then we finished a lovely day with a good meal and good company at our friends' house.  Camille  read to the younger girls in some of the quieter moments, and much exuberant fun was had by all.  A very satisfactory day, I would say.  And because I can't help myself, I'll top off the night with a happy baby Ayla photo.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

...rainy days...

The last few days of chilly rain have kept us indoors quite a bit.  Camille is enraptured with

The Greatest Dot-to-Dot Super Challenge Book 6 

with such things as this 2-page, over-1,300-dot doozy 

(this picture is borrowed from Amazon)
She is also loving an art activity book, Flower Fairies:  Scratch and Sketch

Sylvia is all about the games.  Here she is playing one of her favorites, Hedbanz (you can see the big stack of games we've been playing behind her).

Add in some flower-shaped gluten-free brownies and we're staying cozy (more or less) waiting out the chilly spring rains.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Challenged, but grateful

Right around the time Sylvia turned 4, just recently, she started getting a bit sassy.  Instead of offering to help, she started saying things like "You can't ma-ake me."  Though it usually only takes a bit of joking or re-phrasing to bring her along, she can really dig in her heels when she's feeling stubborn.  As her wise ballet teacher reminded me, "this trait will serve her well someday...not soon maybe, but someday..."

She also has become even more of a force-of-nature than she was previously.  Sylvia walks into a room and water glasses tip, things fall off of shelves, and all manner of items scatter themselves into a messy disarray.  For example, in...Oh say, the amount of time it takes me to write a blog post, Sylvia might have poured half of a (large) container of sea salt over the dirty dishes, along with most of the dish soap, and sloshed about a gallon of (now salty) water on the floor, along with dusting powdered sugar all over the dining room table and floor, her own face, and her baby sister's hands (!)  These things were not done out of malice, or even naughty mischief, but simply out of curiosity, playfulness, and a desire to cure her sweet tooth.  She was attempting to wash a dish (of course).  This is just a tiny example, and I will admit that I'm less likely to yell and get testy if I just allow the house to remain in disarray (until my patience is restored) rather than create a (self-imposed) need to be tidy.

However, just as Sylvia is becoming more difficult to interact with (sometimes, only sometimes), Camille is becoming easier.  In her own words, "I haven't freaked out in like a month.  I'm proud of myself."  She went through several months where she was finding it hard to be human and having lots of strong emotions, but seems to have really come out the other side.  Her imaginative, fun-loving, sweet nature is really re-emerging.  I believe that this is largely because she trusts me (and her Papa) to work things out in a way that we all can feel good about, that we take her emotions seriously, and find ways to help her work through them respectfully.  So, I am truly grateful to have only one really-pushing-her-limits child (along with a teething baby) to navigate at a time.  Truly.  I believe that Sylvia will find her stride too, and for all of her stubborn, messy, larger-than-can-be-contained energy, she pours forth love and humor and goodness too (and in much greater quantity ;-)

Friday, March 18, 2011


Today was a day for walking...
We followed the railroad tracks most of the way to a cupcakery that sells gluten-free and regular cupcakes...

We walked along the bike path to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and then we walked all around the paths through the gardens...

 hands were held
secrets were whispered

robins were spied

 flowers were blooming


grass was greening


                              camera modes were played with                          *
 sculptures were climbed
sisters were kissed
Then we walked home, happy to put our feet up for a little while :)

*photos followed by an asterisk were taken by Camille

More nature connections linked here

More creative moments linked here