Monday, May 22, 2017

Conor's Dynamite Dance

One day, I'm pretty sure when he is a teenage and looking back through our family blog posts, Conor will be mortified that I posted this. Until then, enjoy these video segments of our boy dancing to one of his favorite songs. :D





Thursday, May 18, 2017

Macros at the Arboretum

Last week, Annika's class took a trip to the arboretum near UW as part of their study of plants and their life cycles. I was fortunate enough to be able to go as a chaperone and am so glad I did. The kids were great and it was such fun to watch them learn from the arboretum staff as we wandered around the beautiful and lush grounds.

Honestly, we couldn't have gotten any luckier with the weather. It was warm and sunny the entire day. The muddy ground here and there was the only nod to the massively wet weather we've experienced lately. The kids shucked their coats and enjoyed the warm sun on their arms and faces for a bit. (What a novelty!!)

Before you wonder, yes, I did take photos of the kids and paid attention to them. In fact, I took a crazy amount of photos, but to respect the privacy of the non-my-child kiddos, I won't post any of them here.

That said, I did take a few moments here and there to snap some macro shots of the various flowers along the way, too. (Don't all field trip chaperones sling two cameras across their bodies while out with the students?)


Yellow azalea

Pink azalea

Mushroom trio

Curly fern

Fuzzy fern

Teeny, tiny daisy

White rhodedentron

Shroom in profile  - up close and personal 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Conor's Latest Funny

A few days ago, the kids and I were driving home from Ballard and were stuck at a red light heading. To pass the time, Annika and Conor started reading the signs on the nearby buildings.

I heard them struggle with a word; they kept trying to sound it out, but without any luck. Because the light was so long, I was able to start looking around and realized they were trying to read the word "psychic" on a building. I helped them figure out the word and asked if they knew what a psychic is.

Conor replied, "Yes! It is a super hero's little buddy."

At that moment, I was so grateful that I could grab the steering wheel to within an inch of its life to help control the giggles that wanted to erupt from the core of my very being. After taking a few slow breaths, I was able to say, "Close, but not quite. That's a side kick, honey, not psychic."

Psychic ... side kick ... tomato ... potato

Image result for psychic sign

Friday, April 28, 2017

Macro Photography Homework

At this month's Mamas with Cameras meetup, our speaker was Sally Halvorsen, an incredibly talented macro photographer.

Sally spoke about her inspiration, the equipment she uses, how she sets up her shots, and how macro photography is her passion. Her goal is to capture the delicacy of flowers and plants ... and to photography each flower's "face".

She was inspiring and entertaining, so say the least. At the end of the meetup, Sally challenged each of us to pull out our macro lenses and put them to work. It didn't take much for me to do exactly that after hearing Sally talk about her love of this art form. A couple of days later, out came my camera, tripod, light box (for fruit photos because the rain drove me back inside), and macro lenses. I struggled with my Lensbaby lens (need more practice, obviously), but feel like I did a pretty good job with my standard macro lens.

I look forward to some more breaks in our wet weather so I can head outside again to try shooting more than only the tulips in our front yard!

Conor's Prayers of the "Fateful"

All week long, Conor has diligently practiced his two prayers of the faithful (or as he calls them "prayers of the fateful") for mass this morning. Each week, one grade helps with mass by providing greeters, readers, and people to present the gifts. This week, it was the 1st grade's turn to help.

By the end of his week of practice, Conor was ready to go. Just like his big sister a couple of months before, he had no qualms about standing up in front of the entire school to speak. So proud of him!



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Annika is our budding photographer

(Like the pun in the title???)

Annika did a great job capturing some lovely photos of the tulip festival on her tablet. I wanted to make sure she and her photography received their rightful spotlight and recognition.

2017 Skagit Tulip Festival

A few weeks ago, I made the executive decision (as I am known to do) that we should visit the Skagit Tulip Festival because it conveniently coincided with the kids' spring break. My reasoning, you ask? Well, not only did the festival work with the school schedule (and trust me, you do not want to go to the festival on a weekend if you can avoid it), but neither of our kids nor my sister (who was in town) had ever been to the festival. 'Nuf said ... going was our only option!

So, last Thursday, a rain boot-clad Suzanne arrived at our door. I handed her a cuppa coffee (it was 8:30 ... we needed the fuel!), we got the troops wrangled, and we headed up north to discover some much-needed tulip eye candy.

As soon as we were buckled, Suzanne plugged in her phone and started up the playlist she created for the trip. I was highly impressed with her song selections, as were the kids when they recognized some of the songs. We diligently taught them how to "bom bom bom" during "Sweet Caroline" and all of us did our best YMCA dance moves while in seat belts.

Before we knew it, we were in Mt. Vernon anxiously trying to find the stupid illusive tulip fields. I'm not normally one to complain, but I have to say that the signage for the festival left a lot to be desired. I kid you not, one "Tulip Route" sign pointed us down a dead-end road ... that had a mechanic shop at the end and no flowers! (In hindsight, I'm wondering if some locals were having fun with us lost tourists...)

Thank God for our cell phone GPS and Suzanne's idea to navigate to a place called "Tulip Town"... two things that got us right where we wanted to be... in the middle of fields filled with stunning tulips, which were much more attractive than the fields of dandelions we passed trying to find said tulip fields.

Because we visited the fields on a weekday, the crowds were rather minimal. We easily found parking and often were able to get photos without extraneous people in the shots. Bonus!

Sisters selfie

Talk about picturesque

Hello, tulips

Fortunately, many of the rows of tulips were marked with the tulip type. Unfortunately, many of the times, we were on the opposite side of the row from the markers. Whoops! Didn't plan that so well, did we?
Double pinks

Conor had much more fun than his expression conveys in this shot; to his credit, Suzanne was saying "don't smile!" (Conor has the reverse psychology thing figured out!)

I like how the kids' boots compliment the tulip colors
Auntie Suzanne and the kiddos

I suggested to the kids that they might want to pop their faces through the various cutouts that were on the edge of one field. Both kids high-tailed it to this one, not even taking the time to look at the cutout. All that mattered was the foot race ... and winning it. 
Yup - this is what happens when you win a race before knowing about the prize

Annika, guardian angel of the tulip fields 
 Shockingly, we didn't have a single drop of rain fall on us the entire time we were out in the flower fields. We had prepared for a day of dodging the drops. Instead, we were dry (except for the random splashes we got when the kids opted to stomp or jump in the puddles). Thanks for giving us a break, Mother Nature. We are grateful!

Near the end of our time among the flowers, we ran into a very nice gentleman who started chatting with us and asking about our visit. Lo and behold! He is the owner of Tulip Town and emigrated from Holland (how authentic!!). He told us about his acreage, the various flowers, and even a bit about their business model.

Soon enough, we realized we were tired and getting rather hungry. We bid Tulip Town adieu (after buying a few pots of tulips for our front yard, of course -- Eric later said he had a bet with himself about how many flowers would come home with me. I never asked what his guess was... I should do that!) and we headed back into civilization (aka Mt. Vernon) and gobbled up a rather tasty lunch at the Skagit River Brewery.

A final, closing shot of our trip... just a last bit of floral eye candy for you, dear readers! I envy the farmers for getting to see these beauties day in and day out. I don't envy the work they put into them, though!!