A Typical Day

A typical day starts with one quick show in the morning so Mommy can have 22 minutes to shower/get dressed/eat in peace.  We don’t always use fancy chairs but I’m open to anything that gets me an extra minute or two.

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Then, on a typical day when Jax is home from school, the kids play together nicely for a while, but then there is inevitably bickering and disagreements about who gets to play with which Paw Patrol pup and whose turn it is to go first in a board game.  So after a while they go their separate ways.

Jax will usually do something Lego-related: building or playing with his creations, or reading the Lego Club magazine that comes in the mail (or the back copies we sometimes “borrow” from the library).  He becomes very entranced.

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He’s stuck somewhere between big and little.  I think seven is the breaking point to being a “kid,” not so much the baby or toddler or preschooler I remember at all.  I savor his simple innocence, whenever I can.  I know he’ll be so much bigger too soon.

Little H is very into her play kitchen and tea parties, complete with cloth napkins and place mats.  She’s not too picky about her companions, and is very content with a good cup of tea.

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And Em undoubtedly will try to stay in her pajamas for as long as possible.

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And then do something creative, like coloring, cutting, hole punching, stamping.  She is a fine motor phenomenon, my girl.

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And sassy, too!

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So, typically, I have it pretty good. Yes, sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out or cry or take a nap, but on the whole, they’re really great kids.  No one else I’d rather be snowed in with than them!

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The Beauty In The Everyday

Ever since I admitted to myself who I am as a photographer–a lifestyle photographer who captures everyday moments and who is happiest appreciating the smallest details in life–I have felt such a pleasure in developing that style and not feeling like I have to be something I am not.  In turn, my Inspired Life 365 Project has given me ample opportunity to practice this style indoors and out, in all kinds of light and with a real variety of subjects.  A lot of the time I have an idea about what type of photo I want to shoot on a given day, but some days are more difficult than others.  Looking back on the past two months’ photos, I realize I have a tried and true subject that I fall back on when nothing else jumps out at me: capturing Little H while she naps.  And I’m okay with that.

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At first I felt like I was cheating, doing the same subject more than once.  But now I realize, this is a challenge!  How many ways can I photograph the same child in the same crib in the same cluttered bedroom?  What perspectives can I shoot?  What different editing styles can I try?

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It’s actually giving me a bit more confidence as a few indoor shoots loom on the horizon in March, and it serves as a good reminder to me that parents love photos of their kids just as they are.  The way they sleep, the way they eat, their crazy smile or their tiny toes.  People want photographs to remember every stage and every child, how they were unique and especially theirs.  Like how a baby might sleep with their butt in the air.  Who would want to forget that?

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It’s not cheating to photograph the same thing over and over.  It’s finding the beauty in the everyday.

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Silhouettes

In their guest bedroom, my in-laws have silhouettes from Disneyland of their three children from when they were very young.  I’ve always loved looking at the way the boys’ hair sticks up in the back or the curve of their chins and noses.  It wasn’t until we had a spectacular sunset at their house one winter night–when the sun was setting around five o’clock–that I realized I could try to do that, too, for my kids and JDubbs’s brother’s.  Five cousins, five silhouettes.  Maybe they could hang upstairs besides the older generations’!

So I called in Jax and Em, my two brainwashed children who think strange photographic requests are normal everyday occurrences for all children.  I found a window with a clear shot of the setting sun, propped them up on a stool, and shot away.

silhouettes @ Rub Some Dirt On It

I love looking at their profiles!  And the same elements that struck me in JDubbs’s and his siblings’ photos make me so happy here: the curve of their noses, the shadow of their hair, their sweet little mouths and noses.

Then I begged my niece, nephew and Little H to do the same, although what I didn’t realize was that the older kids’ height was distracting me from the unsightly pile of snow right beyond the window.  Plus, Stella’s chin gets lost a little in the landscape behind.  Not my perfect backdrop.  But at least they were willing to humor me and give it at try!  Now I know how to shoot it and what to avoid in the future.  Although the snow pile does hide a bit of Little H’s mullet…

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I want to try this again without the snow, but by then daylight savings will happen and the little girls may not be able to make it to sunset.  I’ll have to find another way to make these photos happen because they really are special and sweet!  They’ll make a great gift for my in-laws, but also a treasure for me!  I think we just need a little less snow and a little more height to get the photos just right.

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Because when they are just right, it’s pretty magical.

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Perspective

I knew where I wanted them to sit. I thought I knew from which angle I was going to shoot. I gave them two of my necklaces to keep them occupied but then suddenly, watching the two of them interact, all my plans when out the window. I just kept clicking as my girls giggled, talked, and admired their necklaces, and when my older daughter told the baby to look at the world through the prism of her necklace, I knew that the perspective I had been looking for was theirs.

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My submission to the My Four Hens Project 52 for week 8’s theme, “Perspective.”

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15 Literacy Activities To Create Reading Rockstars

My kids are reading rockstars.  I know it sounds like I’m bragging, but it’s true, and I love it.  Jax falls asleep every night under a mountain of books that he just had to read before bed, and this past year Em’s reading has really flourished.  I think it has something to do with being the big sister in her bedroom and wanting to read Little H bedtime stories.  She always wants to read the Piggy parts in our beloved Mo Willems “Piggy and Gerald” books, and tries so hard to decode even the toughest word.  She is going to be so confident when she walks into kindergarten next year, knowing that the world of letters and words are her allies, not daunting strangers.  And how did my kids become so passionate about reading?  Well, our house is very conducive to encouraging Reading Rockstars, but mostly we all just love to read and have a lot of fun doing it!

So since this is a passion of mine, I cannot keep all these awesome literacy ideas to myself. I figured I’d put some of my favorites in one place where you can access them easily and see that there are so many ways to engage kids in reading and letters.  If you make it fun, they will join in eagerly!

So here are 15 of my favorite ways to create Rockstar Readers.  Enjoy, and  don’t forget to pin away!

1.  Have a reading picnic!  Grab a blanket, some snacks, a big box of books and a spot in the shade or in front of the fireplace.  A great way to promote literacy for the entire family!

15 Literacy Ideas to help turn your child into a reading rockstar!

2.  Organize an ABC Scavenger Hunt.  Draw up a map of your home and hide the letters to your child’s name.  By numbering the locations on the map you can help kids who don’t know how to spell their name yet put their letters in the correct order, or just star the locations and let them assemble the word themselves!

15 Literacy Ideas to help turn your child into a reading rockstar!

3.  Paint Chip Reading Fun.  Kids can help develop their rhyming skills and identify words families with this colorful way to decode words!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Paint Chip Reading Fun @ Rub Some Dirt On It

4.  Draw letters in salt or flour.  Awesome for fine motor skills and letter recognition!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Tracing letters and words in salt or flour!

5.  Build letters and words with toothpicks and marshmallows!  And when you’re done, they’re good enough to eat!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Building With Marshmallows @ Rub Some Dirt On It

6.  Give them a journal and help them write stories or do science experiments together.  The act of putting words in some kind of book will help give their ideas significance.  And they will love to go back and reread them over and over!

 15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Oh so many amazing things to do with a journal!

7.  Create a butcher paper map.  We have made maps of our town, maps of zoos, maps of castles and a kingdom, maps for military exercises (G.I. Joe came up with that one).  You name it, we’ve drawn it, and with all the labeling that comes with maps, your kids are going to be able to read words like “school,” “street,” and “bridge” faster than you can write them!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! butcher paper maps have so many possibilities!

8.  Spelling Puzzles!  Flip over a puzzle and build some simple words.  The trick is being able to reassemble it using the letters on the back!  Highlight the words to decrease difficulty.

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Spelling Puzzles @ Rub Some Dirt On It

9.  Make a game of it with Sight Words Mix-Up Cups.  It’s one part learning, one part game!  Who can resist those odds?

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Sight Words Mix-Up Cups to turn reading into a game!

10.  Match upper and lower letters (or build compound words) with plastic Easter eggs!  One set of eggs, two great ideas!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Match upper and lower case letters using plastic Easter Eggs!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Build compound words using plastic Easter Eggs!

11.  Get those winter wiggles out with a rousing game of Word Slam!  Tape words to a wall and when you call one out, the kids get to SLAM them with a ball!  Jax loved this!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Word Slam with Rub Some Dirt On It

12.  Write the alphabet on clothespins and kids will spend hours matching them to their appropriate letters on flashcards.  Make it more difficult by writing in upper case on one set, and lower case on another!  Lots of different ways to use them on this link!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Clothespin Spelling @ Rub Some Dirt On It

13.  Go on a Spelling Treasure Hunt!  Help your kid spell a word, then they have to go on a hunt through the house to find an example!  Keep them moving and interested!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Go on a spelling scavenger hunt!

14.  Follow the link to learn all about the Word Family Driving Game, where vehicles and reading collide!  You could do the same thing with just letters if your child is too young for reading but is crazy about all things that go!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar! Word Family Driving Game @ Rub Some Dirt On It for all kids who love things that go!

On the same post you can learn how to reuse those hearts and create a game to get kids hopping, skipping and jumping while they read!  They’ll never know they’re learning–they’ll be so busy having fun!  Two great ideas for the price of one post!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Learn Spelling and Sounds with Movement!

15.  ABC’s: Animal Style!  It’s simple!  Match the animals to the first letter of their name!

15 great literacy ideas to help your child become a reading rockstar!  Match animals to their letters!

Phew!  So many great ideas, so little time!  You’re on your way to helping your kids love to read, and to enjoy learning, too!  Be sure to pin all these ideas for later so you don’t forget any!  I can’t wait to revisit some of them myself later today!

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Snow Over It

Some days, life in Vermont is picturesque, straight out of a wintery children’s picture book.

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And some days–well, some months–it’s all fun and games until the kids are just completely over it.

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And when that happens–well, there’s nothing picturesque about it.  Unless you count perfectly whiny.  Or the epitome of exhausting.  We really just need some room to roam that isn’t knee-deep in snow.

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Counting down the days until spring–and looking forward to a happy ending to this winter!

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Boyhood In Black & White

I’m pretty sure I have photos like this of Jax since before he was one; nimble fingers diligently working to create the expansive world tucked inside his imagination.

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It’s been a while since he was fully engaged with our train set (which was his 15-year-old cousin’s before him).  Lately Little H has taken to playing with them and I think it sparked his inner two-year-old.

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I was so glad to hear that he still narrates his play out loud.  Lately he has been playing a lot with Legos, which don’t necessarily require narration.  When do kids stop doing dialogue out loud?  The day I lose the soundtrack to his boyhood is going to be heartbreaking indeed.

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Cherishing the simple pleasure of being around him, in all his boyish glory.

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