Tuesday, August 26, 2014

camera play

I've been tinkering with my camera this week! It's fun.

If you want waaaay better photos than mine to admire, I've been following Captured: A Photo Blog, hosted by The Week news site (which I do not read so have no idea of it's appropriateness or political stance or general accuracy) and it is amazing and informative looking at those pictures of current events and goings on in the rest of the world. It could really open up a lot of discussion with kids too and help us all remember to step out of our Western bubble once in awhile.

On to a few of my faves from my photography efforts of the week :)

Playing with toys.
 Playing with silhouettes. Still working on those.
 Playing with perspective:
 Playing while playing. Ha! Pun.
 Playing with macro.
 Playing with sunsets.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What we're reading

Yesterday in the car, both my girls were reading chapter books for pleasure and I said, "I've done it. Our kids love reading. My work here is done." Ha! But, seriously, I've prayed to raise children who love to read because if you can read and like it, you can self-educate. You can learn anything! 

Here's what we're reading lately :) 

  • Fancy Clancy - A chapter book mystery series featuring our favorite Fancy Nancy. I think there are three or four in the series so far and they are favorites of Natalie's. 
  • Nancy Drew graphic novels. We love Nancy Drew, I loved her books as a kid and I couldn't wait to share her wonderfulness with my girls! Natalie wasn't quite ready for the original series (she can do it, she just gets intimidated by smaller words and no pictures, but she'll get there.) We love the movie and we've listened to some of the Clue Crew series on CD from the library and then I got these graphic novels used. Natalie ate them up. Graphic novels for kids are a GREAT way to help timid kids get into reading for pleasure! The Thea Stilton books and the Boxcar Children graphic novels are some good examples! Layla has loved both of those series. 

  • I just mentioned two series that Layla likes, but more recently, she's been getting these Mercy Watson books from the library. This is a chapter book series for younger kids just getting into chapters. It's funny and silly (Mercy is a pig who lives with people) and it's the perfect cross between picture book and chapter book. I wish there were more series like that! 
  • Kelby is just learning to read! I'm so proud of him. To teach him, I'm using my trusty The Reading Lesson and also the Explode the Code: Get Ready for the Code series. He's much more workbook oriented than either of my girls were! Which is nice, actually. 
  • While we always like the B.O.B. books, a similar learning-to-read series that we like even a little better is the Now I'm Reading books. These are so great, they're the same size as the B.O.B. books, but the pictures are more wacky and colorful and the stories are silly and funny. We have only two sets, but I've used these for all my kids. 
My turn! 
  • I recently read Timothy Keller's The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness because my brother-in-law recommended it on Instagram. It was really great. It's very short, I read it in about 45 minutes during Layla's piano lesson and the Kindle version in only $1.62. I'm eager to read it again very soon. Highly recommend! I also have The Prodigal God by the same author and plan to start it today. 
  • I started The Charlotte Mason Companion while we were still living in the hotel and I love pulling it out about once a week to digest a new chapter. The Charlotte Mason method has done so much for our homeschool! I can talk more about that in a later post, but I'm not sure how many homeschooling readers I have so I won't drone on about it here and now ;) 
  • As for fiction, I am sooooo picky. I don't like to waste time on twaddle (that was a Charlotte Mason reference--if you got it, you're a homeschool nerd like me) and I often start books and quit them because I think they're dumb. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier has been on my to-read list for a super long time and I finally started it last week. It was written in the late 30's and it is SO GOOD!!!! I haven't yet finished it, so don't hate me if you read it and the ending is bad, ha! 

This is the best part! I looooove reading out loud to the kids. I could make a whole post of our faves and maybe I will. But for now, 
  • We are finishing the Wayside School series. It is so funny. The second one is probably my favorite. Grown-ups listening laugh just as much as the kids. We read aloud a lot at school time, but I like to have a just-for-fun book going too. 
  • As we study Egypt in school, I read The Curse of King Tut's Mummy out loud to the girls. This is the true story of Howard Carter and his finding King Tut's tomb, written for children in a way that is exciting and interesting for them. It's difficult to find well-written books in this genre, so I thought this one was worth a shout out. We loved it. 
  • Tirzah We've read one chapter of this and although the girls weren't super into it, I really think they will be if we continue. It's the story of an Israelite girl whose family is part of the Exodus from Egypt. I love homeschooling history because I get to teach Biblical history alongside ancient history and this book is a perfect example of that. 
I think that's all for now! I'd tell you what Casey's reading, but his current reads are for his Master's degree and have terms like "ethnomusicology" and "Iranian sung poetry".  No lie. 

What are you reading?? 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Natalie sews

Last week I ordered this book for my girls:
 I've always given them free reign with their sewing machine and the box of up-for-grabs fabrics, but they are wanting to make more sophisticated things, from patterns and such. I try to make time at least weekly to sew with them, but I wanted them to have a little freedom to follow directions and make things without me. This book is great for that! There are color coded projects, according to how much help they might need. I helped Natalie make the first of these felt flowers and then she was off. She moved on to another project from the book and made it with no help at all!

 She made a headband out of this one, sorry the pic isn't better.
She taught Layla how to make these too and now both my girls are skilled with a glue gun. I think it's revolutionized their crafting, haha!

I haven't sewn a ton the last few weeks, I've been working on other things and enjoying homeschooling. I did make Casey another pillow case yesterday. He picked this fabric himself at the quilt store a couple weekends ago. He doesn't ask for much, so when he wants me to sew something for him, I try to oblige :)

I've been working on a photo book for allllll my 2013 photos. I finished my Project Life scrapbook for 2012. But, I've decided that while it's something I really do enjoy, I don't make time for scrapbooking. It requires a lot of gear, which costs a lot of money and takes up a lot of space and I am really wanting to pare down our belongings even more than we already have. Clutter affects my mental state so much. Really, I just want the photos off my computer and in my hands. And Shutterfly photo albums fit the bill for that. Plus, they take up a lot less shelf space than my scrapbooks, which are all on a closet shelf right now!

I've also been getting friendly with my camera again. I realized I haven't been taking many photos these last few months, other than with my phone (which still count, especially since Shutterfly can upload right from your Instagram account!) Making the photo album inspired me to pick my big camera up again for the sake of memories! Someone said some kinda mean things about my photo skills awhile back and it really discouraged me more than I was willing to admit. Made me feel mediocre. But, that's dumb and I need to forget it and do it because I think it's fun and not because there's some educational/fancy gear criteria for calling yourself a photographer! Ha!

So, I think I should be compensated for my endorsements today, from Shutterfly and that sewing book, don't you?? ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Birthday Boy and other things

 We celebrated Kelby's birthday over the weekend and he kept saying it was the best birthday ever. He says that every year ;) I love birthdays so much!

He wanted a Lego Mixel cake. In the past, my friend Melissa has made us the most awesome cakes ever. I am not good at cakes so I had no problem hiring that part out. But, alas, we have moved away from Melissa and her awesome cakes and I've had to do them myself. The best I could do was get blue cake mix, orange frosting with sprinkles in Mixel-ish colors and buy these pdf cupcake toppers on Etsy. He loved it, so I succeeded :)

 We picked mustache plates. Things got silly.

Kelby is still building and rebuilding some Lego sets he got for his birthday. Legos are the coolest. He also got some Zoobs, which are pretty cool too!

You know what is not cool? The storing and the everywhere-ness and the stepping on of the Legos. We have Legos everywhere, all the time. They're by far the most played with toy at our house. They're mostly played with in the main rooms, occasionally in bedrooms, but they're stored down here in a hall closet. We have plastic bins of all sizes, a rolling cart with Heartlake City covering it, a bathtub with Bionicles playing war and certain spots on the rug that are Kelby's go-to building sites.

I'd ask what your solutions are for the Lego problem, but I've determined ... there is no solution. Ha! Don't tell Casey, though, he's been brainstorming for years about how to solve the Lego dilemma. But, I've given up. I don't mind having Legos everywhere because of the endless hours of fun they provide my kids. The best I can do is have them generally contained by the end of each day and that'll have to do.

That said, if you have solved the Lego problem, please let the rest of us in on your secret in the comments ;)

Thursday, August 14, 2014


It's my baby's birthday today! Aw. He's been counting down the days for weeks, he's been so excited.

I'll have lots of bday pics to share tomorrow, I bet.

But for now, as long as he still sits like this, I will still call him "my baby boy." I love those toes.

The gift that I am most excited to give him is the "mix tape" I made him for his birthday! I saw this idea on another blog last week and immediately started my list of songs to put on his mix tape. I decorated it with my sad attempt at a sharpie Emmett (of course). I'd love to make these each year for my kids' birthdays! You have to know someone really well to compile all their favorite songs, that what makes these special ;)
Here's what's on it:

  1. Everything is Awesome (The Lego Movie)
  2. The Pirates who Don't Do Anything by Reliant K on the Veggie Rocks album
  3. Life is a Highway by Rascal Flats
  4. Mercy is Falling, on Crazy Praise Volume 2
  5. Fix my Eyes by For King and Country
  6. Afro Circus/I like to Move it by Chris Rock from Madagascar 3
  7. Fruit of the Spirit, on Crazy Praise Volume 2
  8. Happy Day by Shane and Shane
  9. Come Home Perry (Phineas and Ferb)
  10. I Just Can't Wait to be King (The Lion King)
  11. I've got a Dream (Tangled)
  12. Reindeers are Better than People (Frozen)
  13. In Summer (Frozen)
  14. Bare Necessities (The Jungle Book)
  15. Today is Gonna be a Great Day (Phineas and Ferb theme song by Bowling for Soup)
  16. When Can I See You Again by Owl City (Wreck-it Ralph)

Monday, August 11, 2014

McCall's 6436, take 2

I love my whale shirt so much, I went ahead and used the same pattern for this bold, but oh-so-soft-and-flowy cotton plaid fabric I got at June's recently. I wanted a more casual look, though, so I left off the collar pieces and cut a bias strip to make a tie neckline instead. I love how it turned out, I stayed so cool on the super hot day that I wore it. It was a little wrinkly at the bottom from riding in the car, but I wasn't about to iron it for a photo, haha.
In other news, the storms passed our island with little damage. The big island received a direct hit with a lot of damage and power outages, so keep them in your prayers. But, for us, it was a cool rainy and windy day, fun to watch from the back lanai. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Iselle and Julio

I have had a few readers wondering about our safety here, so I want to put everyone's minds at ease for now! There are two hurricanes headed for the islands, so it has been a week-long crash course in hurricane preparedness for us. The hunt for water was successful earlier in the week and the scramble for groceries was accomplished yesterday. Also, a trip to the library was absolutely necessary in case I can't charge my iPad for several days. Point for paper books, haha!

Iselle will be the first hurricane to directly hit the Hawaiian Islands since the early 90's, the Big Island receiving the most direct hit. By the time it reaches Oahu, where we are, it will be a tropical storm. We are located in the hills and live in a newer house and so we feel secure as far as our physical safety. We are prepared for up to several days of power outage and no water. We have several cases of bottled water, lots of canned foods and things that can be heated on our grill. We will fill the bathtubs with water to be able to flush the toilets. And we have flashlights and batteries. We are not super worried about our safety up here, only our sanity, with the possibility of no Internet ;) Good thing our game closet is fully stocked.

It's kinda cool following these satellite photos. Just the fact that modern science can literally predict and follow the path of hurricanes is pretty amazing. The islands look so tiny next to that huge funnel, eek!

Where Hawaii does need your prayers is for the homeless. There are a huge number of homeless people here, many of them living under bridges and highways and in parks. While shelters are doing what they can to get the word out and assure people that the shelters can offer safety to them during the storm, many are refusing to pack up and leave their spots. Please pray for Hawaii's homeless! My heart has been turned toward them since we moved here, there are just so many.