Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Party

Troy does a little IT support for a software development firm called Enthought, so I provided the photos for their annual holiday party. They catered the Zilker Clubhouse with a great view of the Austin nighttime skyline.
The  kids had to pose alone because I was holding a camera while dad fiddled with something electrical; he can't control himself. They are a little more difficult to pose than clients' kids because they're my kids. I hope it's because they're used to me and not because they're more bratty than the average child. They are pretty rowdy! But I think it's because I like it like way.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Santa Claus Shops at Malls


We were at the new mall because someone told us Santa shops there. And rides in fire trucks. And in some of the worse photographic conditions ever I managed to capture the elusive Mr. Claus, almost in focus! The kids got to watch a dance school full of little girls wiggle around on stage, cry while talking to the nice man that only sort of looks like friendly grandpa, eluded being trampled by the crowd and still were first in line! The night ended in irritation by dad, but he still lent his headlights to the "Levi Contemplates the True Nature of Christmas" photo at the end. Or "Levi is Mesmerized by Glowing Lights." I'm going with the Jesus theme because asking Santa for a zillion and two gifts certainly brought on such pensive reflections.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I need another camera

Right? Like a hole in the head, you ask? Well, when trying to decide between the snapshot pocket camera lovingly dubbed the piece of garbage that is so small it spends most of its trashy life misplaced anyway, and the big pro beasts that knock my kids in the head if they stand too close, I often opt for no camera. The cobbler's kids and the shoes adage comes to mind.

Today was one of those days I wished I could find even trashcam. I shot some real estate in the morning while Troy got the kids to work on their school. By the time I got back home, they were well on their way to being done. I packed up lunch and dinner, and when they were finished we drove down to Zilker Park.

They paid their own way on a mini train ride, spent an hour at the playscape, another hour on the grassy hillside playing some make believe nature game and talking to a very nice woman who acted so gracious as to care what they were telling her (plus she shared snacks). Then another hour in the Barton Creek aquifer science exhibit from which I had to drag them away to go to the open late Wednesday night at the Austin Children's Museum.

While none of those photos are really gallery worthy, they certainly make the blog much more attractive. They certainly will help my children look back fondly on their childood. And they certainly help my family blog look a lot more fun than your family blog. Not that we're competing. Or at least, you're not.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Capitol Day

We had a get together in Austin for local and willing-to-travel members of DSP where I am technically still working even though I am not working there anymore. All of that someday I'll come back kind of thing because I really do miss teaching Photoshop. Anyway, we met at the Capitol Visitor Center, toured the rotunda, then headed out to the State Cemetery which was surprisingly beautiful and park like rather than morbid as it sounds. My homeschooled kids could get an entire semester of Texas state history just watching the video in its visitor center and doing the awesome packets they hand out there! We had a great time getting to  know each other better, talking about photography and scrapbooking, and of course, because we're women, talking about nothing.

I remember years ago at the Capitol how my mom about wet herself when she found out Governor George W. Bush was there that day, and chastised me for just walking into the governor's business office (as if we might accidentally run into and bother the man.) She gushed how she just loved him all the while my dad standing there and saying, "Dear, I'm standing right here..." So in her memory I barged into the Governor's office again, now belonging to the less lovable Rick Perry, and not surprisingly did not run into George Bush yet again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We don't have a lot of family traditions aside from yelling and rowdy car rides, but a parenting class told us we should. Instead of writing nice letters to each other on birthdays or a live Nativity at Christmas, like the good mother I am chose nasty Halloween dinner. My kids all dressed up in some leftover dress-up box leftovers, (see Levi as the last minute "I don't know exactly what this costume is" getup), while I prepare surprise disgusting courses. This year we did a giant alien worm from a whole pork roast, maggots from boiled pearl barley and Parmesan sauce. There were some other items that I forgot to take photos of, but with a worm like that does there really need to be more? And aren't you glad that instead of presenting this creative tradition in the usual pompous I'm a better mom than you, feel guilty presentation, I just say it like it is?

Friday, October 29, 2010

How We Homeschool

We recently pulled the last of our public schooled kids out to homeschool them, so now we have all 5 at home on a daily basis. While our reasons are many, and we do miss some of the pros of public school, overall the pros of homeschooling win hands down, and the experience has been wonderful! The grass looked greener from over there, and what do you know, it really is greener on this side!

Since they all homeschooled all summer while it was too hot to play outside before the school year started, we gave them the entire month of October off as "Fall Break." They have been enjoying the opportunity to play outside and relax with the gorgeous Texas fall weather. Just as the mornings and evenings get a bite of cold, it's time to get back to the books. While their school is all completed in several hours before lunchtime, and they still have all afternoon to play like they're on a school break, the complete freedom to be creative or lazy has been interesting to watch. I can observe as they choose their own projects and pursue their own interests. I can relax and get to know them better as individuals and better tailor their academics and extra curricular activities to suit their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.

Thursday my toddler had her friends over for formal preschool time where we made crafts, learned letters and phonics, sorted snacks, played outside, and the older kids had an opportunity to serve the little ones by helping and playing with them. After they left, we piled into the car to visit the large central public library branch in downtown Austin. Crossing the street with 5 little ones is always a particularly fun challenge. After gaping at the most books they've ever seen and pulling most of the children's section off the shelves, they had a lesson in behaving in public while I browsed for my own books. We all then attended Levi's Rain Gutter Regata at his Cub Pack Meeting. Levi tied for second place! We were all happy he found his kit on Thursday morning and was able to get the boat assembled and painted in spurts during preschool so we could all cheer him on.

The main benefit of this homeschool "thing" we do is time. So much time to be together, to be apart, to learn, to relax, to do projects, to do nothing, to play together, to work together, to learn to resolve conflicts together, to socialize with siblings, friends, and neighbors around the community. All the time we used to spend frazzled, running from one thing to the next, completing all the projects that other people deemed the most important for our family, we are finally free to decide what we do with our own time.

Back to the books on Monday morning after Halloween! I bought a new math curriculum for them all for Christmas, and we are all refreshed and ready to come back to academics. I am excited to introduce some new techniques and re-implement our regularly scheduled routine. I am excited watching us all thrive in our new adventure together.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Raingutter Regatta

Troy got a new iPod Touch with the little camera included. It's still no iPhone! The camera has no flash, and I think the screen display is actually a higher resolution than the camera. I'm on the fence whether it's even worth taking photos if we've not brought our good camera, or if I would just prefer my own memories!

This pack meeting the cub scouts raced their annual rain gutter regatta. Levi got off to an early start, tying for second place. The other boy had more first place heats, Levi had a lot of first and second heats, so he came home with the coveted "Participant" ribbon. I considered swiping an extra second from the leftover stack as teaching the sore loser lesson is getting really old!

Picture 78Picture 77
Picture 81Picture 80Picture 82

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

It's not really this bad, I swear

9am, Levi is stung multiple times by an asp caterpillar (pus moth). Troy's brother Ed is stungseveral times trying to get it off Levi after trying to convince him it's just a harmless fuzzy seed pod. Hoping no one develops vomiting and severe  pain, especially during their 24hr drive back to Idaho. I've lived here 12 years and never seen one of these pests that they manage to find on day 2 of their visit.
6pm, Troy finds a venomous 8in king centipede trying to crawl up his leg. 15 minutes of craziness at the Nutty Brown Cafe with half the patio hopping up on chairs while we catch it in a styro cup for Ed's daughter's science project. I've lived here 12 years and never seen on of these pests that they manage to find on day 2 of their visit, second rare bug of the day.
7pm, kids catching giant black crickets to feed to our chickens, grandma puts them in a napkin to bring home, later blows nose on napkin and drops crickets down her blouse, we all wonder why she has crickets in her nose. Catch more crickets falling from a tree into grandma's blouse. Transfer crickets to styro cup and bring home.
7am, next morning find hole in cup and crickets are all missing.
8am, while making breakfast I find styro cup with centipede in my fridge...still alive.
9am, I find and make Levi catch last cricket in kitchen and feed to chickens. Can't wait to eat those eggs.
10am, unsuccessfully try to convince Idaho visitors that this buggy situation is unusual even for Texas, it's all their fault, and wonder if we can ever hope to have more out of town visitors.
11am, all the boys decide to go on a scorpion and tarantula hunt after dark right before I threaten to move out.

6pm, boys come home with a female Texas tarantula they add to the bug zoo which I make them take home with them when I kick them out of my house.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Horse Farm

Taya spent a week at an overnight horse camp, and the remaining kids and I went to pick her up on Saturday. Nothing kids like more than an hour-long car ride to visit big smelly animals surrounded by dung. I couldn't keep them away! Please no one wonder, or at the very least not ask, why Taya isn't in any of these photos as the point of the whole adventure kind of centered around her. And I'm sure hidden inside we're all a little jealous of Julia, because deep down who hasn't fantasized about going to a farm in a wedding dress?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cub Day Camp


Levi had a blast at Cub Scout Day Camp learning to make blue spaghetti, climb flag poles, damage nearby children, and other such fun. He just finished his Wolf Badge and is about to embark on the Bear journey.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Braces are one of the most cosmetically humiliating experiences voluntarily inflicted on our children we have yet invented, but if we don't undergo this most silly of child-rearing rituals those children then blame us when they need to get braces at age 40! So Taya at age 12 not only has to suffer the indignity of it all every day for the next year, but her photographer mother captured the entire procedure on camera. Smile! These are almost as good as baby bath tub photos!

We were fortunate enough to be recommended to Fast Braces by some friends of ours, taking half the time and therefore costing half as much as traditional orthodontia. Whereas other quotes we received varied from 15-18 months at $3500-4800, these weighed in at 10 months and $2000! A big difference that makes my own orthodontically enhanced mouth smile a little bigger.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pretty Sisters

I had to do a quick retake of a front exterior of a home near where we live, and my daughters thought the yard was almost as pretty as they were. Taking a photo of them was the only way to keep them out of the photo of the house, so here are two to make extra sure the MLS photo doesn't have any yard faeries in it!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Bird Watching

Levi went to day camp in north Austin this week, and the owner of the real estate photography firm I contract for has 2 boys Levi's age and lives about 5 minutes from the camp. So they picked him up each night, and he slept over. I am picking him up tomorrow: he had a blast, and I am glad he enjoyed himself doing something good for his body, brain, and social skills, but we've missed his sweet self around here! She emailed me this photo with the message, "If you are really quiet, you can grab your camera… peek around the corner and catch a photo of the elusive Levibird curled up on the sofa reading a book…"

He behaved beautifully, much to my relief, especially after several recent altercations with the parent volunteers at swim meets and a tough time in school and Sunday school generally. Frankly I'm just glad he didn't get sent home early by the camp or our friends, and that I didn't get fired! His counselor is an at-risk teacher during the school year, luckily enough, and ironically enough was also named Levi! So Lord Levi was Little Levi's confidant and extra supervision during the week, helping him work through any tough situations. They even named a duck Levi III, so I guess there are 2 Levi birds now.

The boys helped him "man up" after all his four sister torture around here, and hopefully he'll come home understanding better what being a rowdy boy and a gentleman are all about.

Monday, June 21, 2010


After Olivia's girl scout troop disbanded, they distributed the money left amongst the girls. She and her friend decided dinner and bowling sounded fun, so we toted both families along. I love the emotions captured here at the sheer pain of gutter balls, sweet help for the little ones, and Levi's typical over exuberance landing him on the slippery floor after every release. At least he didn't foul from way back there. What passion for living life to inspire me, what a fun bunch!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Best Fathers Day Gift

A happy 4th Birthday to the best little Father's Day Gift ever! We love you both so much, Julia and Troy. You make our family so much sweeter. Have a great day!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nintendo Swim Team

Swim Team is a pretty good excuse to play Nintendo DS for an entire Saturday with the better excuse of getting in a total of 3 minutes of exercise per kid. They also hold very still while playing DS allowing mommy to create Sharpie mascot art to boost team spirit, even though none of them are watching races while they watch their little screens. They do take a little break from it when they win a ribbon. Needless to say, swim meets are very popular with our kids. Swim practice? Not so much.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wolf Badge Pack Meeting

They make the mom stand up with the cub when being awarded his wolf badge, and since asking someone to use my monstrosity of a camera set to manual requiring a tutorial to use would just be awkward while everyone waits for me to hurry to the front, I only have photos of the kids doing their fun activities. Jumping up and down with some oddly creative scout cheer, and of course as usual Levi has to follow up all active fun with some wrestling that none of the other kids seemed to appreciate albeit a room full of boys. Now, I realize that I could have just asked someone to put my camera card into their small camera and take a few shots of the ceremony for me, but then that would just be mom and son standing there doing nothing, and frankly boring. Look how much more fun they seem to be having. Plus, I wasn't wearing any makeup anyway.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day

Happy Texas May Day, y'all. Just wanted to say thank you to Angie and Brae for the invite to such a fun family party. None of us had ever seen a real May Pole before, and the over-under weaving challenged their spatial reasoning like an engineering class. My ADD son had some tactile therapy as he was compelled to use his hands rather than his eyes to "see" the finished product. Half the guests played instruments in a hoe-down jam, except Troy faking it on the gourd banjo. The best part was my homeschooled daughter's square dancing lesson that was fun, that she and her friends actually wanted to participate in, instead of some stinky 6th-grade gym class imitation. Strike that, I do believe hanging out with friends and eating potluck in such a gorgeous country home setting was the best part! Mmmmmm....especially the potluck.