Sunday, November 15, 2015

Perfect Imperfections-- the REAL story is so much more intriguing than the ideal!

So many 'perfect' expectations develop based on seemingly perfect Pinterest ideas or lovely blog photography. I find I love the real stories so much more than the Potemkin village ideals we feel like we have to live up to. I think the lyrics "love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections" pretty much sums up how I feel about the photo shoot  for family pics we had up at the cabin. My MIL is so talented and I look forward to photo time with her every year... confession, I may have been planning and scheming on our clothing selections for about 3 weeks. Maybe... I was a little anxious when the snow obscured the rust and golden colors from the landscape. What if our color scheme was affected? I needn't have worried. Plenty of golden colors around the cabin and the snow made the lighting perfect! 
Gwen is old enough now to actually follow photographer instructions, so hers turned out really pretty. The only 'perfect imperfection' is the hint of black eye that you can see in some shots--- she had a run-in with cousin F just a couple days prior to our photo session and got a good shiner for it!
But most shots you can't even see it, right? At least, I can't. And I know it is there. So I'm betting you didn't notice.
Wow. Such a boring story she fell asleep. Standing up. Outside in the cold. 
It was a comedic experience with Caroline! She was cold, so we'd take a few pics, slip on her coat and move locations, whip it off and take a few more... You'd think from the bizarre photos that we were demanding she sit perfectly still for a long time rather than asking for her attention for such brief moments! But I LOVE the collection of totally random photos, goofy faces, strange poses, and tongue shots we got when she was instructed to smile! 
There was no hiding this boy's goose egg. Right there on his forehead from a tumble on the stairs THE DAY BEFORE the photos! He was less enthusiastic about his personal photo shoot, mostly because he just woke up and is a rather snuggle-y boy for about 40 minutes or so after waking up and getting pictures taken meant he got set down. Tragedy. 
Getting ALL the faces to look at the camera and smile at the same time is honestly a Herculean feat! Goofy hooting face for Gwen and unimpressed Emmett. 
Emmett has had enough. 
Change of location? Silly smug faces...
or back of the head?...
Does ANYONE look good in this one? Is anyone even aware of the camera?
Seriously. Please tell me your photo sessions go like this too!
But we did manage to get quite a few successful shots! We have Grandpa's face-making skills to thank for this beauty!
But I have to say, I think this one seems so natural and fun, Caroline's arms so silly and Emmett's smile so genuine with that ever-present-teething-finger in his mouth... 
I love the perfect imperfection of it!
We got some really beautiful ones of the kids, too. My favorite of Gwen. 
And, miracle of miracles, despite all those crazy poses, we managed a beautiful one of Caroline too!
And this cute one of the girls together.
My absolute favorite of the whole shoot: Emmett's fluffy pokey-up hair, the little curls over his ears, his sparkly eyes... and that wonderful bluish knot on his forehead! Definitely perfect imperfection!

All photo creds to Mama Allan! Thank you!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Having Fun While Making Do!

I recently finished reading a thoroughly researched, interesting, and expectedly disheartening documentary about the Donner Party. I was struck by many things while reading, not the least of which was how deeply grateful I am for the health and well-being of my beloved family. As Thanksgiving approaches, I know lots of folks have gratitude on the mind. Me too. I think a large part of gratitude is being content with what we have. I tell my kids 
"you get what you get and you're grateful for it," 
which is a slightly elevated spiritual version of the more behaviorally-motivated "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit". Though to be honest, I'd settle for the lesser law most days and consider it a win! But I digress. My point is, I think if we are grateful for what we HAVE rather than dwelling on what we are lacking, we can truly be happy. 

A recent experience newly validated this idea for me.
We went out to visit Eric's family last week. Took a jaunt out to the family cabin...and woke to more weather than we were anticipating! 
The view off the deck in the morning. 
These big, huge, powdery flakes came down all morning and into the afternoon. 
A very small percentage never made it to the ground, finding a melting point on warm skin and hair and--- very occasionally--- inside a gaping mouth. 
The girls' warmest clothing was their footie pjs. 
PJ exploration during the snow.
 After dinner, Eric went out with Papa to see about filling our freezer with elk steaks. Unbelievably, they spotted a herd just a hillside away from the cabin. Eric says it was the longest shot he's ever made--- we heard it while getting dessert for the kids! The early sighting and close proximity to the cabin meant the boys could get home to the comfort of the cabin relatively early. They couldn't haul all the meat in one trip, though, so they hung what they couldn't carry in a tree and informed all of us their plan to retrieve it in the morning. 
 No snow pants. No snow shoes. No water-proof gloves. Gwen didn't even have a hat (she borrowed mine). But we were all eager to make do with what we had and hike out with the boys in the morning to witness their creative attempt at floating the elk meat across the river rather than hauling it around the long way. 
 We rode part of the way in the Rhino. 
Emmett got passed around a bit.

Then we hiked.

The girls thought they needed to poke their walking poles into every ice-crusted puddle. 

 Caroline's garbage bag gaiters billowed out around her when she sat down to make some snowballs.

This should have been a video! Eric high-stepped it across the icy cold river like a 'zephyr set free' (name that movie?), motivated by the fact that his pants were not INTENDED to be waterproof or warm when submerged in a mountain stream. 
 Repeat the action, with a little less agility, dragging a heavy elk quarter (sort of floating).

We laughed safely from the bank and had a great time watching the men struggle--- perhaps because we were glad it was them, not us?
 Emmett wouldn't keep his too-large mittens on. But he seemed happy to be outside as long as no one set him down in the cold stuff. :)
 Heading back. 
My awesome attire: trashbag gaiters, sweatshirt with no coat, and my infinity scarf serving as my hat since Gwen was wearing the real one. blue Babushka meets trash space ranger!
  Of course, reading about the Donner party gave me some pretty good perspective. Hard to complain when I had clothes, shoes, a warm cabin to head back to, and plenty of nutritious food to eat. Isn't it amazing how much we take for granted?
 It was a lovely jaunt with beauty all around us. 
  Everyone had a great time!
 There was also a makeshift sledding excursion. 
 Daddy Manpower was required. 
 Then we switched to Rhino power!
 Caroline was absolutely thrilled!... and then equally devastated when the cable tore through the plastic sled and the fun slid to a halt. 
 Snow angels instead?
 Of course, Gramma was prepared with some fun indoor activities when the girls wanted to thaw out and let their wet mittens dry by the fire. 

All in all, I'd say the few days we enjoyed up at the snowy cabin were unhampered by our lack of fancy gear or even simple gear (like a hat). In fact, I think perhaps the absence of stuff got us to be creative, think outside the box, and create really awesome memories along the way (who could forget the trash bag gaiters?!?)! Just reaffirms for me: 

You can have a GREAT time while "making do"!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Catching Up-- Halloween and Fall with my Kiddos

I realized recently that I feel less incentive to blog during warm, pleasant weather when I'm afforded plenty of opportunities to socialize in real time. Lame explanation, but I have none other to offer for why my last posts have been so sparsely placed. I know that puts my blog readers at a significant disadvantage because so very few of you actually live where I live. As chilly weather descends and I see the loneliness of winter looming, I find myself face palming for not cultivating these online relationships more intentionally. I am sorry for being so exclusive and leaving ya'll  out... can I make amends with an amazingly lengthy catchall post? Because nothing says "I value our friendship" better than a plethora of photos, right? ha ha! Here they come!
 Gwen was a mermaid for Halloween and Caroline was a fish. They both helped with the making of their costumes, but Gwen's help was ACTUALLY helpful. :) She did the shells on her top and her barrette while Caroline helped glue her eyeballs onto barrettes. 
 Emmett was a shark! Well, sort of. Actually, he napped during the trunk or treat at church, refused to wear it for actual trick or treating, and barely managed to smile for this photo when we wanted to show Grandma his cuteness. So he was a shark for all of 3 minutes. :) Not a big deal since he was wearing a recycled costume of Gwen's from a couple years ago. At least I didn't spend lots of time on a costume for him this year!

 Caroline loves to pose... when I say "smile like a fish" this is what I get! lol
 This wasn't our trunk, but if we were more awesome it should have been! We were parked right next door to them, so their awesomeness sort of rubbed off on our trunk lameness (read: complete and total absence of decoration unless you count the stroller). The ocean theme was awesome and the girls thought is basically was meant for them!
 Carving pumpkins was interesting. Gwen was excited at first, but there were many tears (literally, agony and weeping) when she realized she was going to have to touch more than one handful of slimy seeds before we'd help her do the actual carving. Life is tough. But she LOVED that spider barrette we made together and wore it to school every day for 2 weeks!
 Emmett was very interested in the pumpkins. He was all over everything and every slime he could find!
 The finished products!
 There was a narrow window when the leaves were gorgeous on the trees AND on the ground (still colorful rather than drab brown) and it wasn't raining and I desperately wanted to capture it... Not sure these pics are exactly what I had in mind, but it was a fun outing anyway. :)
Emmett just wanted to play with this cute little pumpkin.
  See, isn't it gorgeous? I love fall around here!
Gwen was happy too, can you tell?
 The pictures sure got silly... but do you see how their heads are cut off? Here's the story. Our camera broke a few weeks ago (thank you, Emmett) and I have been taking pics with the itouch since my old school phone takes grainy pics. Well, this was my first time to take the itouch pics OUTSIDE and I didn't realize that I wouldn't be able to see the screen in the sunlight! I had NO idea what I was taking pics of (hence the terrible compositions and chopped off heads, lol! In fact, there were about 30 pics where I had the screen shot reversed and was taking selfies instead of pics of the kids!
 Accidental selfie with the porta-potty. Glamorous. :) But that is the scarf I made and the jacket I got at Volunteers of America for a dollar. Sigh of contentment. :)
 At the time of these pics (the last couple days of October) Emmett was getting closer and closer to walking! Most of the time he wanted a hand to hold...
 But occasionally he'd take 4 or 5 steps...
Or just plop down on the ground and beg to be picked up! :)

More pics and stories coming soon!