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Friday, December 31, 2010

If You Give a Kid a Camera

If you give a kid a camera, she's going to want to take pictures.  You'll have to pose, but you should know that your neck and shirt are the focal points.

She'll ask to go outside, to snap photos of "nature."  Once outside, she'll take a few photos, but will soon see a tree that looks like a horse, and will ask for a ride.  After the ride, she'll want to have a snack.  

So you'll go inside, where the kid will spot stockings still hanging from Christmas--a great study in light and color.  

After a snack, she's going to want to play with her dollhouse.  Then her cousins will come over, and dress up will ensue, along with silly outfits and crazy wigs.  

The kid will suddenly remember her camera, so you'll have to find it under stacks of Barbie clothes.  Then you'll give the kid her camera.  And, of course, she's going to want to take a picture.

How can you look at things through a child's eyes today?

By the way, check out these kid photos from last summer--I think the photos are getting better with time!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On Luck

It's almost New Year's Eve.  I am on vacation, staying with my in-laws down South.  I sit in a quiet office with my dog Padme dozing in the chair beside me.  My daughter is asleep down the hall.  My husband works at his laptop in the kitchen, coding and thinking and coding again.  My in-laws watch TV and get ready for bed in another part of the house.  It's quiet except for the hum of a small heater running at my feet, beside which my tiny black dachshund, Annie, sleeps.

And here I sit in a cozy chair, my mother-in-law's chair, and think about the past year.  About my happiness project.  About my life, about my friends' lives.

And all I can think, is, "How did I get so lucky?"

Some people say there is no luck, that things happen for a reason.

But this year, my friends have lost parents.  Have lost children.   Have lost babies yet unborn.  Have lost jobs.  Have lost homes.  Have lost dogs they loved.  Have discovered cancer.  Have had children diagnosed with disabilities.  Have fought disease and pain.  Have battled depression.  Have faced infertility.  Have faced bankruptcy.  Have lost more in a year than some lose in a lifetime.

And I see no reason behind the suffering.  No reason.

It could have been me, in any of those situations.  But, instead, I got to watch my beautiful daughter flourish and grow.  To see my wonderful husband do productive and interesting work.  To work, myself, in not one but two rewarding jobs.  To have a healthy, loving, and supportive immediate and extended family.

Tonight, I sit in a comfortable, quiet house at peace with those I love and those who love me.

I'm exceptionally lucky.

I appreciate that, and I mourn for the moments of peace my friends are missing out on because of loss, illness, stress, or hardship this year.  I think this quote (from an interview on the Happiness Project blog) sort of fits my thought process today:

 "’s a good thing to know life is short, to appreciate people’s – my own and others' - strengths and weaknesses, to love, and to feel grateful for what I have."   

Boy, way to ring in the new year on a dark note, eh?  I promise a more uplifting tone to tomorrow's post!  But sometimes we gotta get sad to get happy, right?

Have you felt lucky or unlucky this year?   And do you think all things happen for a reason?

(By the way, this  blog by my friend Rachel, who lost her daughter in a car accident in October, has meant so much to me this year, by making me continually contemplate the big picture and appreciate every precious day I get to experience with my family.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Funny Flanna Quotes - holiday edition

Getting ready to brush her teeth, "Bears don't mean to eat you--it was a accident."

Flanna to my 34 year old sister:  "When did you get married?"
My sis:  "I didn't."
Flanna:  "Oh, so you're a teenager?"

Whispering to me on the way to the restroom:  "Shhhh.... I'm a secret puppy."

Waking up on Christmas morning:  "Mom, did Santa come?"
Me:  "Yeah, I think so, let's go look!"
Flanna:  (indignant)  "But I didn't hear him?---I didn't see Rudolph?"

To her cousin while they were playing with the Cabbage Patch Kids I gave her that used to be mine when I was a kid:  "Do you know these are old fashioned toys?"

Listening intently to the priest's sermon:  "What's the government?"

As we were preparing for our evening Christmas prayers:   "Mom, I want to say a special Christmas prayer that God will give me twins--a brother and a sister--in November when I turn 5."    (We did include that special petition in our family prayer time...too cute!)

After our fifty-seventh (Okay, fourth or fifth) holiday family get-together:  "I have SO many cousins!"

Holding up her Baby Alive that she got for Xmas:  "Poppa, was I as cute as this baby when I was born?"

This last quote was my cousin's son Neil (I guess that makes him my 2nd cousin?? or 3rd??):
As Flanna showed him the aforementioned old fashioned Cabbage Patch Kids, I said, "These dolls are probably...hmmmm...20 years old, or maybe even..."
Neil:  "Maybe even a hundred!"

What made you laugh today?

A White Christmas!

It snowed on Christmas Day!  What a surprise! We were thrilled, of course. 


How to Bore a Child at Christmas

Step 1:  Set your camera to self-timer mode.  
Step 2:  Instruct your whole family to stand in front of your camera for 5 minutes straight while you find the perfect height and angle from which to take a group photo.  
Step 3:  Force the family to pose through at least 4 iterations of this process.  
Step 4:  Repeat steps 1-3 at every celebration you have, with every family/friend group you visit with children in tow.  

You may think I am kidding, but I assure you, I am not.  My poor sweet bored Flanna is extremely familiar with these 4 steps.  

The only saving grace for the poor children are the moments we remember to be silly and have fun... and those moments produce the best photos by far!

I'd love to hear about any silly family traditions that exist in your family!  How do you and your friends/family have fun when you're together?

Expanding the Hut

Last year, we started building a little hut in the woods at my sister's house.  This year, we expanded it, making the walls higher and thicker.  Grandma and Granddad even helped out!  We were pretty productive!

The girls found worms.  Gross!

Or not so gross!

The hut from above.  

What project do you love to work on when you have free time?

Two Jumpers on a Log

These girls have balance.  Neither one fell, throughout all of their exploits on this giant fallen tree.  I was impressed.

Flannery taking photographs of "nature," as the girls kept saying. 

What a lovely time we had out in the woods!  Home is refreshing for the soul, but home AND time spent in nature---pure happiness.

Have you been able to experience nature a bit this winter, and has it refreshed you, as well?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sweets making sweets

Oh my, I feel so blessed to be spending such long and carefree days with our extended family and friends this holiday.

Yesterday, we did several art projects during the day and enjoyed a game night in the evening.  Today, we baked "cookie-cutter cookies," played in the woods for hours, and found some old toys (Barbies & Cabbage Patch Kids!) of mine and my sister's to share with the kiddos.   It's really been a pleasure to just relax together with people we love, and this time has been just what we all needed to feel connected once again.  

Here are some photos of the sweet girls making some sweets.  

How have you reconnected with your family and friends to recharge your "team spirit" during the holiday?

Be Silly

We've been spending time with Flanna's Grammie and Poppa, and it's been a real treat to have lazy days together.  Here are some adorable photos I got of Flannery and Grammie having fun together.  Flanna just loves when her Grammie is silly with her!  (Being silly and making a point to be lighthearted have been key to my happiness project this year, too!)

The dogs, thankful for crumbs!

Robi grading with dual computers...too funny!

How can you be silly or lighthearted with your friends and family as you visit with them this holiday season?