October 10, 2012

Sobering Video

Check this out . . . how terrible is this prediction for our children??


July 20, 2012

New Website!

After being chained to my computer for what seemed like two weeks straight, I have a new website up.

Go and check it out!

Melanie Templeman Photography

And drop me an email to let me know how it navigated for you (I'm still working out kinks) and your thoughts . . .  Thanks!

And look for my facebook page too!  "Like" it.  (I wonder if I will ever get into facebook!  But I see the amazing potential it has for advertising . . .)  Melanie Templeman Photography.

The kids will mostly all be in camp next week so I am hoping that I can 1) get caught up in photo editing for clients and my latest photo shoots (kids and a course with jinkyart) and 2) do one humungous blog to fill you in on what we've been up to this past year.  (I think I'm giving up on individual posts!!)

Have a Happy Friday!

June 26, 2012


 Liv's favourite things:

1. Giraffe
We have lost this little more times than I can remember.  Even before doing this shoot I had to spend hours hunting around the house trying to find him.  She takes him EVERYWHERE.  (Including the warming drawer of the oven.)  I don't blame her though, the little guy is adorable.  She has since expanded her collection to include two dogs and a monkey.  Giraffe seems to still be her favourite though.  In fact, where ever we go, she bee-lines to any giraffes.

2.  Her "Mickey jammas"  (aka: Minnie Mouse pyjamas).   She insists on wearing them every night.  And every day.  Even when we are leaving the house.

3.  Her socks.  It doesn't matter how hot it is outside . . . or at night.  She needs socks AT ALL TIMES.  I was actually pretty impressed that I could take them off for a few shoots with her permission.  It didn't last too long though.

 "Socks!  I need socks!"
"Ahh!  Dat's bedder!  Ank you, mom."

June 11, 2012

The Original Katniss

Ever wonder where Suzanne Collins got some of her ideas for her bad*ss heroine for the Hunger Games?  After spending some time going down memory lane this past week I discovered a story I had written in grade four that would definitely inspire such an intense story of survival.

Enjoy!  (I tried not to edit it.)

A Night in a Cave

One nice day in Colorado, Melanie’s Dad and brother and Melanie went skiing.  It was light drifting snow.  They went to the highest hill (it went past the clouds).  Melanie didn’t want to go down the rocky side so she went and asked her Father if she could go down the other side.  Her Father said she could go “but you have to meet us at the bottom.” Said her Dad.  “Sure!”  Before Melanie knew it her Dad and brother were starting down the hill.  She didn’t feel too confident about it anymore but she went down anyway.  Melanie was looking at the beauty of the wilderness and not paying attention to the where she was going.  Finally she realized that she had to make a turn some time ago.  She was looking and looking but couldn’t find any turns.  An hour later it was four o’clock and it seemed like there was going to be a blizzard.  Melanie found a turn but didn’t think it was the right one so she kept on going.  She was looking at her feet and almost skied right off a cliff!!!  She turned around and skied up the hill for half an hour and found it again.  Melanie still didn’t feel so sure but the sky was getting dark and the wind was blowing pretty hard.  Now it was around five o’clock.  She had no choice so she went on and on and on.  It was six thirty and the wind was blowing around its hardest.  Melanie saw a cave.  She went in, looked around, made sure that it was no one else’s home.  Then she went through her knapsack and pulled out a pair of scissors and a roll of wire her Mom packed incase of an emergency.  Such as if the lift wire broke in half.  With a pair of scissors Melanie went hunting for a moose.  An hour later she returned with a moose.  Melanie took the string like wire and tied the piece to two of the sides of a stick she gathered with a few others.  Melanie made a fire and roasted the moose on the fire.  Melanie tasted some because she didn’t know what moose tasted like.  She took one finger full and spit it straight out.  Melanie left the rest for two reasons.  A.  Because she didn’t like it and B.  Because if wolves came to eat her up they would see the moose and eat it and be too full.  Melanie wasn’t very cold because she had a helmet, snowsuit, neck warmer, and ski boots on top of everything else.  It was very cold up on the mountain that night so she couldn’t get to sleep very well but she did.  Melanie dreamt that her parents sent out a rescue party for her and . . . then she woke up with the sunlight covering the cave with bright light.  Melanie looked stunned as the bright light shone in her eyes.  Melanie knew what time it was looking at the sky.  It was eight o’clock am.  Melanie looked around the room since she had no better thing in mind.  Melanie saw that the meat was gone!!!  Including the bones!!!  Melanie said to herself “Gee I am smart!  I could have been a gonner!!!”  Melanie went for a walk (it was a gorgeous day!)  Melanie walked and walked and came to a hurt dog.  She went and found a vine and as many leaves as she could and bandaged the cut up, and took him to the cave.  Meanwhile Melanie’s Dad had a search party for her.  When the party saw the bones fo the moose they party thought they were hers but they wouldn’t stop there so they continued.  They thought they could follow the bones and find the beast that ate her up.  Meanwhile Melanie packed her stuff on the dog.  She had reins made of vines so she could steer the dog.  Melanie rode on the dog for two hours (the dog walking) then the dog and her did a canter for ten minutes until they heard voices saying, “Maybe she went that way” “No!  She went that way!”  That sounds like my Dad’s voice!  Melanie thought to herself.  They galloped to the voices and sure enough it was . . .  . . . . but the minute the rescue team saw them they were about to shoot the dog!  But they couldn’t because Melanie was on him.  Melanie told the story about her, the moose, the wolves, and the dog.  She also told the story to her brother and Mother.  After Melanie asked if she could keep the dog to keep Laddy company (her other dog).  Melanie told her family the dog’s name was Malcolm.  On the plane ride back Malcolm sat next to Melanie.  The waitress came to give the menus out.  She told Melanie she would be back for her order.  Malcolm kept looking at the menu and said “I’ll have a meat roast.”  Melanie looked at him like he was nuts.  He said “Thank you.”  Melanie ordered it.  At dinner they talked.  Malcolm said he slipped off “Pluto planet of dogs.”  Malcolm asked not to say anything when it was time to get off.  Melanie and her family had a nice trip!

By:  Melanie Struk the girl in the story!

The Different Sides of Me

I am fortunate enough to be attending a photography retreat at the end of this month and one of our assignments was to do a self portrait.  Eeek!  There is a reason photographers are BEHIND the camera.  And, I certainly got a whopping taste of what it is like to be a client of mine . . . it is tough to look at pictures of yourself and not see Natalie Portman or Charlize Theron . . . 

None the less, the assignment is over and I can get on with the other ones . . .

Here are a few that I was thinking about . . .

May 27, 2012

Summer Reading

I've been enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the world of fiction.  Always an avid reader, I thrived on fiction most of my youth . . . and must have lost it somewhere in my university World Masterpieces as I was forced to read "Candide."

Since then, I've just read a lot of non-fiction.  Interesting, but nothing really all that gripping.

Flash forward to 6 weeks ago when I was "dared" by a friend to read a "silly" YA book called, "The Hunger Games."  Swallowing my pride on reading such a twisted story and lowering my literary standards (yes, I'm a snob!), I caved because a) it was a dare, and even more so b) I just had to find out what happened in the love triangle!  Ha ha.

I hesitated purchasing the whole trilogy at Costco since I was sure I wouldn't like the first book that much, but bought the set anyway.  It ended up being a good thing, having the other books at the ready because Suzanne Collins cliff hangers made me devour the set in three days.  My free time has since disappeared and I have been voraciously devouring books since.  Here is my list of reviews . . . thought I would share.

Hunger Games, Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This is a set that definitely needs to be read all together.  The premise is a post-apocalytic US where a nuclear war has ravaged the country and left few districts struggling to survive under a dictatorship.  To remind these districts about the price of revolting, an annual game is held where each district is forced to select two teenagers to fight--each other, the elements, and special surprises by the game makers--for survival.  Last one standing wins their life (sort of ) and fame, money, and glory.  I found the first book interesting and captivating.  Disturbing and action packed, it had me hooked.  The second one seemed even better as it started connecting dots and provided some romance and more heart-pounding action.  The third book, I found was the meat of the series where all the political and emotional issues became apparent.  The first hand look at war, it affects, and the use of media to propagate lies seemed to blur the lines between right and wrong.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the series.  I liked the way Collins brought in current political issues and crazy media culture (watching fighting competitions as entertainment, reality shows, and reality show character "images") showing us how sick our society can become.  I even read it twice and found it a great book to read aloud with Brad.  I had trouble imagining why a book this gory would be on my grade three's book order list . . . without maturity to grasp the political and ethical messages, this book is only gory and shocking entertainment.  My only criticisms were to have a little stronger character development (less whiny Katniss) and a little bit better writing.  However, Suzanne Collins makes it work as it is told in first person and even the ending which has made many hurl the book out windows, was as it should be.  I did find that after racing through three days with Hunger Games "morphling", the ending left me as a drug addict off drugs, cold turkey and I seriously spent DAYS trying to get back into life.  I even had to write an alternate ending just to help with the closure!  Ha ha.  Good job, Collins.

In the wake of Hunger Games, I scoured the bookstores trying to find something else that would grip me and give me some political meatiness to ponder.  (After all, if I am going to be reading some "children's" books there better be some redeeming qualities.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

This dystopia occurs in a future US, mainly in Louisiana after global warming has wrecked havoc on the US landscape, and especially the ancient and currently non-existent oil industry.  It follows the life of Nailer and his quest for survival in the harsh living conditions and poverty.  It has a Huckleberry Finn vibe to it.  Compared with Collins shocking Hunger Games, I found this so much more gritty and gory.  It was definitely more for guys . . . but I think for myself it was lacking the political issues that I enjoyed from Hunger Games. (However, there is a sequel and maybe that will go into the political issues that are hinted at but never really spoken about.)  Good writing, good characters . . . just not my cup of tea.  Too harsh and gritty.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

I had a hard time reading Delirium based on the premise of the book.  What kind of society would really believe that love is a disease that not only needs to be cured by the time someone is 18, but that those who show any kind of affection should be sniffed out and beaten to a pulp?  That is the society that Lena lives in, taking place in the near future.  Of course, with all science fiction a large grain of salt is usually needed.  Putting that aside, I found the characters very believable.  Their development and relationships between each other were right on point, and often sweet and heart breaking at once.  The story line follows Lena's life the summer she graduates from high school, her last few months before her "procedure."  As expected, she does end up falling in love weeks before she is scheduled to go under.    No one will ever dispute Oliver's AMAZING writing.  Seriously, she is up there with Dickens, Mark Twain, and even Shakespeare.  I know, that's going out on a ledge, but really, her descriptions are beautiful, gorgeous even, and I had to pause several times through out to reread passages because they were just breath taking.  In fact, so many of them are so pretty, but they are incredibly insightful as well and are worth pulling out of the book and using as every day quotes.  Here is a snippet:

"Somewhere deeper in the city a motor is running, a distant, earthy growl, like an animal panting. In a few hours the bright blush of morning will push through all that darkness, and shapes will reassert themselves, and people will wake up and yawn and brew coffee and get ready for work, everything the same as usual. Life will go on. Something aches at the very core of me, something ancient and deep and stronger than words: the filament that joins each of us to the root of existence, that ancient thing unfurling and resisting and grappling, desperately for a foothold, a way to stay here, breathe, keep going."

Oliver's writing is poetic.  It ruined me for any other author.  This story was interesting, and really captured first love.  But that is not all.  There was love between a parent and child, the relationships between friends that grow from sweet childhood memories to the heartache of growing up.  And then there are some dictatorship undertones that start rumbling louder as the book speeds to a close.  Most of the story line follows a love story, so it isn't as action-packed as an arena filled with kids trying to survive and beat the pulp out of each other, but it is so well written that it holds you captive and breathless.  The climatic ending stopped my heart for several minutes proving that this lady knows how to write action.  I felt like I was speeding toward the end in a car chase only to have the brakes slammed on and me go flying.  I wanted to let go of the book and let the momentum hurl it against a wall.  But then, the prose was so beautiful, I couldn't bear to hurt the book.  I looked for something else to throw . . . 

The second book in the series is entitled:

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

This book obviously follows Lena and her life . . . but it is so drastically different from the first book.  I will keep things vague so as not to spoil it for people, but if the first book seemed like a happy distopia viewed by someone with rose coloured glasses, this one was dark, gritty, and painful.  In a good way.  I personally LOVED it.  Oliver even changed the format (thank goodness, because the snippets of religious, government, and cultural documents at the start of each chapter were a little distracting for me).  This one is in a Now vs Then in alternating forms through out the book.  Confusing?  Maybe, until you start to read it.  I was impressed by the foreshadowing that she was able to do with this.  I was also amazed by her character development.  Certainly Lena has changed but Oliver gives us a glimpse as to how those changes happened gradually.  The sequel picks up on the heart-pounding ending of the first and doesn't ever slow down.  I must admit, I hesitated to purchase it in the store the week before because they only had hard cover volumes available (why pay $20/book when you could get it for $10 . . . or at least $15 on amazon), but my Delirium book had a sample of chapters in the back and once I started reading them, I knew I had to pay the $20.  And it was an excellent value!!  It was heart-stopping, gut-wrenching, tender, hopeful, twisting and turning . . .  page after page . . . taking my heart and emotions with it.  Her story-telling abilities are nothing short of masterful.  Perfection.  The themes that come from the second book run deep and wide.  So many to discuss: religion, government, regulation, prejudice, war, internal conflicts, personal growth . . . and, of course love and hatred.

I LOVE Oliver's writing.  I really can't say enough about it.  Here is a snippet of Pandemonium:

"I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame."

My only criticism . . . well, maybe I have two but I can't say one without spoiling, but the second is that I have to wait until FEBRUARY to get the third installment.  And it is already written!!  Oliver, what's with that?

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Every time I went in to my local bookstore asking for a Hunger Games follow up, the sales staff kept recommending this one.  The reviews were great. . . some people even said they liked it better than Hunger Games.  So, obviously I picked it up.  I'm not sure if it was because I read this after Delirium, but I couldn't get past the poor writing.  Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games was not the most eloquently written book either, but somehow it was easier to read than Divergent.  I didn't like the characters much.  They felt choppy and relationships felt stiff.  The premise is based on a society based on segregating into five factions.  Supposedly you are tested and should go to the faction that you most resemble, but that isn't always the case.  This made it feel like there was a strong Harry Potter undertone, or high school/college sorority crossed with Hunger Games violence.  Think Skulls (the movie/book).  The violence was heavy and almost seemed unnecessary.  In fact, most of the characters' dialogue felt like it was written by an 8th grader.  Sorry for those who thought this was amazing.  The plot line did get interesting (by page 260!!) and I will probably read the second installment . . . but since my reading stack is pretty tall, it won't be for a while.  Or maybe it won't, at the pace I'm keeping these days. ;)

Unwind by Neil Shusterman

"I was never going to amount to much anyway, but now, statistically speaking, there's a better chance that some part of me will go on to greatness somewhere in the world.  I'd rather be partly great than entirely useless."  --Samson Ward

An interested, albeit, confusing statement.  Until you know the premise for this book.  The second civil war has been fought and won.  The Heartland war was between those who were pro-choice and those who were pro-life.  The latter won out but to appease the pro-choice supporters, the government passed the Bill of Life that banned abortions but allowed parents and guardians the option of "unwinding" children between the ages of 13-18.  The act of "unwinding" is not "killing" in this society, it is merely the harvesting of body organs and parts (minimally 99.44% by law) to send on to recipients who "need" them.  The thought is that since these parts are still alive on someone else, the child is not really "killed," just living divided.  Chilling.  I really am not sure what is worse, the premise, (the idea that some children LOOKED FORWARD to this as a religious tithe--omplete with bar mitzvah like party . . . combining "birthdays, wedding, and funeral in one", that parents feel they can dispose of troubled teens easily . . .), the realization that pro-life may not be the answer either since many unwanted babies are born and left on door steps "storked" or put into underfunded and overflowing orphanages where they end up having to be unwound anyway for "budget cuts."  Maybe the worst part is that the shocking morals and ethics of this society and its government are really too close to home and our society is terrifyingly close to these kinds of rationalizations.

The first part is a bit slow/confusing, but it follows three story lines until they meet up.  There are different points of view, which shift in and out according to the story line, with a few other points of view included as well.  The writing isn't bad, but the characters and the plot (and sadly, the premise!) is so believable that you are hooked in.  To top it off, I LOVE the way the author makes you pause, close the book and ponder ethical questions at hand.  He neither pushes pro-life or pro-choice, but shows you examples of each.  Where Oliver made me distracted with her bits and pieces of government articles, and religious quotes, Shusterman executes it perfectly providing the right amount of foreshadowing and thought provoking.  The fact that he even brought in REAL quotes by some well respected members of our history makes the whole thing seem so much more plausible.  If you thought the Hunger Games was disturbing, this one will make your stomach squirm and make your face turn green.  There was a part where I could only read a few lines at a time before I was dry heaving and looking for a toilet . . . only to collect myself and open the book again.  And only read another line or two and repeat the pattern.  It was a challenge.  Certainly not for the faint of heart.  The surprising part was that this book contained little violence, no sex, alcohol, or even a tiny bit of gory details.  Shusterman presents things in such little detail, but so masterfully, that my imagination had me sick to my stomach.  Although suitable for older kids, this is not a "kids'" book.  In fact, it almost makes Hunger Games look like child's play and deserving of being on a grade three book order.

A very excellent and meaty read.  Fortunately for my family, the second installment isn't out until late August . . . or else you know I'd be reading it right now!  (It sounds AMAZING by the way.)
I must say, I am very surprised at my interest in science fiction.  It does make sense that I would love to combine my fascination for science and my love of literature, but I was scarred by my 10th grade teacher who only had science fiction in his class to choose from . . . and not the best science fiction in my opinion.  If there were books like these, I would have been reading books like these all along. Now fantasy fiction and vampires, wizards, etc. . . . I am not there yet. 

Has anyone else read any of these books?  Do you care to comment?

Happy Reading!

May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, soon to be mothers . . . and mothering types out there!

May you hold your dear ones extra close today!

May 8, 2012

Liv's Room

 Since I was doing our master bedroom and knew that sometime this year Liv would/should be ousted from her crib, I figured I would save on shipping by ordering her bed too . . . but that also meant redoing  her beautiful room.  And taking down the crib.  It was so much harder than I thought it would be.  Usually I have another baby on its way so I don't need to give it much thought.  My kids are out of cribs by about 18 months . . . unless a move comes earlier-which it did for Jayden and Jackson and they were out by about 13 months or so.  But with no baby to take her place, I forgot that most kids don't stay in cribs forever!  Even though she was barely two, it just seemed to make sense to get rid of it since it would be easier to store and sell than to have to store a brand new bed.
 The mirrored butterflies turned out really cute . . . until Liv discovered how easily they came off!!  I might have to rethink the wall decoration in her room!  Also, the books had to be moved to the other side since they were too close to her reach at night.
 She still loves her rocking chair.  She loves to read in it and the chest provides some much needed storage in this tiny room.  It really measures about 8x8 of usable space.
 Her bedding is what really got me excited about changing over my favourite room in the house.  I think it's so fun and pretty!
 This was her old pine dresser (our old night stand once upon a time).  A fresh coat of paint transformed it!
(The price tag has since been removed from the chest!)  I never thought about the temptation for kids to HIDE in the chest though . . . hopefully we have stopped that!!

Master Bedroom

It's been a long time coming . . . after finishing-ish off all the rooms in the house, we finally got to the master bedroom.  Here are the absolute before pictures . . . when we were moving in.

 I regret that I forgot to take before pictures of the heinous room before the new furnishings came in.  But picture this bed, the 10 year old Ikea dresser to the left that has seen better days . . . and the 15 year old Target special desk that carried me through college and somehow found its way into our bedroom since it was (sadly) better than the plastic Wal-mart rubbermaid chest we had lived with for a year.  Oh, and a really ugly Wal-Mart black metal futon in the window nook.  Yuk.
In my haste to get this pictures up before the kids move out of the house ;) I used my point and shoot which has obviously seen better days.  Imagine them more sharp, and more vivid.  You can still get the idea though. 
After MUCH deliberation (once I finally got Brad to agree to let me redo our room I had to make sure it was as perfect as possible because I will likely never get him to agree to it again!), I am satisfied with the results.  More than satisfied.  Elated.  Though, I apologize for the picture quality.  In my haste for posting I didn't pull out the big camera and it seems as though my trusty point and shoot is losing its edge.  Nonetheless, you can get the idea.

The colours on the duvet are linen, soft ivory, gray, taupe, and smokey blue.  Furniture was purchased from major furnishing stores and some even second hand for a steal.  Accessories from Home Sense (what a steal on that mirror . . . it's really gorgeous in person), the light fixture from Costco.  Bedding from Restoration Hardware and Home Sense.

 After many bedding changes . . . I have finally settled on one.  I think it looks fantastic.  There is still another cushion to add one day . . . in a yellow silk probably.  And, once the bank account replenishes, I'd like to add a bench to the end of the bed.
 The day bed is not only proving to be the most popular spot in the bedroom (especially by Brad), but also the most popular spot in the house for the kids.  (I thought this was an oasis for the parents???)  I do have to touch up the paint from the old drapery rod.  This one is a Restoration Hardware one that I scored for a steal on Kijiji.  I also need to either get an extra set of drapes or a new set in a linen fabric/colour.  But that won't happen until the bank account recovers some. ;)
 The dresser is one of my favourite pieces.  Actually, pretty well EVERYTHING in my room is my favourite piece.  But I do love that this faces me in my bed and I can stare at it while pretending to watch TV. ;)  I am still on the look out for some candle holders/vases, etc for the left side.  There is also a clothes horse to the left that is obviously being put to good use!
 This little Ikea desk was a steal!  Of course, most Ikea purchases feel like stealing, but this one came off Kijiji . . . already assembled for half the price of brand-new!  And it even looks brand-new!  I need to fill in a few more frames and even add more frames but I just couldn't bare to spend another dollar on Ikea frames!!  When my bank account recovers . . . I will finish filling the wall.  Also, I plan to get a pharmacy styled lamp for the left side of the desk.
 "Her" side.  I stumbled across this awesome photographer on Etsy and ordered her prints right away.  I loved that they were all from Paris (Brad and I really enjoyed our time there a few years ago) but that they weren't your typical images you'd find.  She lived there for a few years and had some really interesting and cool shots.  Above is a ferris wheel and below is a photograph of some random graffiti.
"His" side . . . both nightstands are wood wrapped in charcoal coloured metal.  Brad's side offers more closed storage for his electronics, remotes, etc; on the night stand is an iPod alarm clock/stereo.  His photographs are of a moped and the Marais neighbourhood of Paris.

What I've Been Up To

You can tell it has been a while since you've posted when the entire dashboard looks like one belonging to a NASA shuttle craft!!

Sorry, I've been busy . . . and feeling the huge weight of a couple of years' worth of books and posts still awaiting me.  Where do you start? 

In the upcoming months, I hope to catch up on our Disney Cruise and vacation this past February . . . and the ski trip Brad and I took.  Also, this past winter I got suited up in skin-tight spandex (are they all that skin-tight . . .or do I still have some baby fat to lose??  Can you still call it baby fat when your baby is two?) to don some race skiis and join a downhill race team.  There is also Christmas, and of course, a few birthdays from the last few years!!  Eeek.  They are coming up fast again!  Maybe it will give me the drive to finally blog about the last ones!!

Besides just trying to make it through the week . . . and even the day most of the time, I have also picked up reading again.  I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy for the second time, this time reading along with Brad.  I must admit, we've both thoroughly enjoyed the time together.  And the series is really fantastic . . . and that's a huge compliment coming from me since I was so against the whole concept after watching the movie.  I've been preparing for a photography course, and running around getting things together for Liv's new big-girl room (had a very hard time parting with the crib) and our new bedroom!

Well, I hope to blog soon, and much more frequently.  I can't promise anything, but my kids really love rereading our family albums so that should inspire me enough!

March 10, 2012

Over Heard . . .

Jackson (in tears): "Mom, Dad, Jayden lied to me. He said he was going to kill me and then he didn't!"

Again, from Jackson:

Jackson: "Avery, if you come to my pet store you cannot buy a hamster."

Avery: "I don't want a hamster. I want to be a princess."

Jackson: "You can't buy a hamster if you come to my store. My store is called 'The Greatest, Most Amazing, Amazing Reptilia Jackson Amazing Reptilia Pet Store.' All you can buy are reptiles."

Avery: "I just want to be a princess."

Jackson: "You can buy anacondas, geckos, king cobras, turtles . . . well, maybe not king cobras. They are too poisonous. Actually, I won't sell any dangerous or poisonous reptiles."

Jayden: "Well, than that means you probably won't have very many reptiles in your store."

Avery: "I don't want a hamster. I just want to be a princess."

January 27, 2012

Halloween Part Two

So, for the Jack-o-lanterns of Halloween . . .

Over the years, Brad and I have wised up regarding the whole pumpkin carving thing.

In years past, we'd let the kids pick out the biggest pumpkin they could find. Each. And then we would all carve a pumpkin. Even the kids. With their "big" ones. Of course, none of the kids could really carve, so we would. And of course, none of the kids would really want to rip out the inner guts, so we would. It would be a really LONG night.

Now, we still let them pick out pumpkins, but we remind them that the bigger it is, the more guts there are to rip out. And we only carve two.

This year we had the boys vs the girls. I had bought one of those pumpkin carving kits with stencils. The boys tried to use them but took one look at how intricate it could be and decided to go out on their own creative whim. The girls, always up for a challenge (or maybe that is just me,) went with the stencil.

It was hard! Truly, not incredibly enjoyable as the paper ripped in the pumpkin juice. However, we were pretty satisfied with the results. I think ours turned out the best . . . but I could be biased. ;)


This past fall, the kids took swim lessons at a private swim school in the area.

I must admit, I was pretty shocked writing out the check . . . $750! But, it was for three kids, for semi-private lessons, for 12 weeks. And it was somewhat close to us. (Well, in the country 20 minutes is "close" for an activity.)

I've put the kids in lessons before and no matter how "great" the program was, they never did seem to be able to swim by the end of it. I had almost given up on formal lessons, especially since we spent our first summer here without a/c at my sister in law's pool and the kids were finally starting to swim on their own, but the kids insisted on going to classes. And since I found out that they could all be taught at roughly the same time, on the same day, I was sold.

Jackson, by far was the most improved. When he first started, it was ugly. They had him do the "front crawl" . . . maybe he thought they meant drowning crawfish crawl? I felt really bad for him. (In order to get them all at the same time, he had to bump up to Jayden's class, so in his defense, he had a lot of ground to cover.) However, when they practiced their dives, he caught on right away and was actually recommended to go on in diving. And, by the end of the lessons, he could actually do the front crawl . . . even if it was only for a few "perfect" strokes. I was so impressed.

Jayden was the teacher's pet. He likes to work hard and was always striving to improve. Even though his strokes were pretty solid, he always asked the instructor about what he needed to do next. I think he really enjoyed the class and he has become a fairly strong swimmer now.

Avery, well, she had fun. Her instructor took her and her swim buddy on swims to disney world (aka. around the pool) while they kicked their legs. She was able to do some floats all on her own by the end and even doggie paddled a few strokes without any floatation device. I guess she's still a bit young to expect much more.

All in all, I was fairly impressed with the swim school, though I don't think we'll be back. The pool was a bit run down and always smelled of mildew and now all their suits do too! (Still!) We'll have to see I guess.

Buzz Buzz

Busy, busy.

It's crazy how fast life goes and how little time (or mostly, energy) I have to do little things like keeping up on blogging . . . or even keeping up with family photos!! Eek. I've been so horribly bad at taking photos of the kids lately.

But, good news for anyone who still cares to check back here . . . new posts are in the works. It's going to take a while to dig out of all the over due blog posts (like the boys' birthdays FROM TWO YEARS ago!).

As daunting as it is, it still seems more fun than cleaning my house right now so it might actually get done. The blogging and picture taking. Not so much the house cleaning!

January 16, 2012

Dog or Rug?

That is basically the question that is on forefront of conversation here.

Guillermo, seems to think that our (once) beautiful ivory shag rug is the place to eat (chili that the kids left out) and then also the place to urinate . . . and defecate said chili . . . in eleven places . . . in soft, squishy pieces.

I worked for over a week steam cleaning, scrubbing, treating the rug with vinegar . . . only to have Guillermo pee all over it . . . before it was even dry . . . or free from cleaning agent smells.

I've been rooting for him all this time (for the most part), but now I think I'm going to favour the idea of having a nice shag rug for the family to enjoy over having a black fur ball who runs away constantly (coming back after rolling in poo), pees and poos on our rug and barks incessantly.

If anyone knows of a good home . . . please let me know. I think his days here are up.