Thursday, February 25, 2016

Project 52 - Self Portrait - Week 8


One of my goals this year is to get in front of the camera more. The plan is really to get in the picture with my family, but I also want to figure out how to be my own model. I know for a lot of people this type of project is so they feel more comfortable with having pictures taken of themselves and I have to admit that's not really a driving force for me here. I've always been cool with the camera, whether I am in front or behind it... even when I don't look my best.

For me, a picture is about embracing a moment. Sure, there are a few pictures I've sort of hidden away, but those are mostly because my underwear is showing - something is exposed. For the most part, I've been able to embrace awkward photos and the ones that are far from flattering. They are me. They are real.

Case in point. Circa 2009. I love this pic -
it makes me laugh, but let's face it, I am far from pretty here.

And so a large part of this self portrait project is in regards to camera technicality (I want to learn more about taking pictures and not always use my daughter as my model), but also about self assurance. Part of my job as a mom is to teach my daughter about confidence in her self, how to laugh at herself, and how to reflect on a moment and enjoy it for what it was... a good time with friends, a team sporting event, what ever it was and not how her hair looks, or the size of her hips, or that she's got one eye closed and her tongue out.

I recognize that taking pictures of myself alone is not the end all in projecting this message to my daughter. There are many small things I say and do every day that will impact her beliefs and the way she feels and thinks about herself. The way I react to situations, the way I interact with others, how I fight against a world that seems so dead set on creating value from image... this is what I do. I am her mom and she deserves to recognize her true value, awkward pictures and all.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Riley's (mostly finished) bedroom update

I've been meaning to write up a post about the (not so) recent changes we made in Riley's room, but I was waiting to put the finishing touches in her room before I posted. Yeah, that hasn't happened yet and may not for awhile. I've been painting this tree scene for above her bed, but sort of want to wait until it's warmer since I plan to splash some paint on the canvas - something better done outside. So I decided it was time to share her 'big girl' room for fear that it will never happen at all.

Let's start at the beginning. Many years ago when I was little this with my brother's room. We moved out of the house, but my dad kept the house and rented it out. Eventually, I was one of those renters and this room was home to several different people while my room was just across the hall. More time passed, and I had the entire upstairs to myself. I turned this room into my office and picked this beautiful slatey blue (which the picture doesn't do justice). 

When Jesse and I bought the house from my dad, this room became the catch all for extra stuff, but we knew that one day it would be the nursery (Some people need a junk drawer, I like to have a junk room apparently). So when Riley came along I struggled with changing the color of the paint, but at the same time, I really felt like I wanted something completely fresh and new. I had ideas about how this room was going to look, but it didn't really turn out that way. I was so over being pregnant while trying to bring the room together that I didn't really care.

I decided to paint the room neutral as I was going to accent with color... and I did - just not the colors I originally envisioned. Actually, Riley received a green monkey from her grandparents which led to us buying a green lamp and curtains and from there we ended up with the following.

I loved that sticker art on the wall, but as Riley grew older I was itching to change things up. She was less a baby and more a little girl and I wanted her room to reflect that. We had some colorful hanging Japanese lantern ball thingys that I liked the color of and one day Riley made a rocket out of toilet paper rolls that she wanted to hang in her room. Suddenly, those colorful balls looked like planets next to the rocket. Not long after Riley asked for glow in the dark stars for her ceiling since her friend had them.

And things just started to come together from there. We agreed that stars on one wall would be cool. I looked at a lot of options (painting, stickers, random patterns, measured out across the wall) and decided on painting them since I wanted them to be specific colors to match her "planets". I put more at the top and less towards the bottom to provide a trickle down look to it. Oh, and I added glitter to the paint so they sparkle a bit. It took me about 4 hours from start to finish - I basically traced stars all over the wall, started painting, stepped back and realized I traced too many stars, and then erased the extra stars. They certainly look hand painted and you can see the pencil on the orange ones, but I really love that about them. I love that they look like someone put a lot of heart into them and I would totally do it again. 

We already had the rug which I felt had some of the same colors and could stretch into this theme. I planned to take pictures of some of her toys and showcase them on the wall, but struggled with finding something that fit in color wise and theme wise so I scrapped the idea (after taking some pictures of the Octonauts...

The pictures I did decide on were sort of chosen rashly, but I feel they fit in quite well with the room as the theme became less "space" and more "nature". We had guests visiting from out of town so I quickly printed out some flower pictures I took at the Arboretum and hung them on the wall. Riley loves them so I decided to keep them as is.

I thought about making a duvet cover for her bed and then realized that sounded crazy. I'm guessing I could have accomplished a task like that, but there are times when it's better for me to not overload myself with projects and I knew this was one of those times. I don't love this duvet, but it matches close enough so it works for me.

The bed and nightstand were mine from when I was a kid and I've always wanted to change out the handles, but that just hasn't happened. Actually, I'd love to paint the whole thing white, but yeah... also not going to happen. The dresser is an antique and has been in our family for a long time. It's one of those things that I would love to refinish, but also worry about tampering with something so old.

I picked up a few canvases and did some test paint ideas which ended up as finished room items on the small shelves above her book shelf. On the larger canvas (which went into a nook in the wall next to the original room inspiration monkey), I had a cool (now lost to me) quote picked out, but it was far too many words so I went with "you are my sunshine" since that's a song I sang many times to my girl when she was small... and she sometimes even requests that I sing it to her now.

There are a few other details in the room such as the play highchair (from my youth), the small chair (also mine from when I was a kid), a glow in the dark star and moon mobile (that we randomly found at my dad's house), a metal 'R' Riley insisted on when we went to Michael's, a light up star (also from Michael's), and some clay animals that we made with these kits that our Luxembourg family brought back from Europe.

On the wall behind her door I have the following. These were remnants of her 'baby' room that I couldn't quite part with and didn't want to just stick in storage.

Her room wouldn't be complete without her bookshelf. She loves reading and it's her entertainment at bedtime when she gets to read on her own before she falls asleep.

So that's Riley's updated bedroom. Just imagine a painting on the wall above her bed and different pulls on her bed... eventually those things will get done. One day...

We love it, and most importantly, so does Riley.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Project 52 - Geologist - Week 7


Riley's always been a little varied in her interests... she started out slightly more tomboy, if you will, and then was all about princess, but now she seems to have fallen somewhere in the middle. As for her birthday gifts, one her her favorites was a flowy flower print dress, but she was also into a couple of her more science focused gifts like this one for crystal mining.

It was nice to see that she had some patience to dig away at this block. It a little hard to chip away at for a 6 year old, but luckily Jesse and I were just as interested in this task and willing to help. We're still a long way from getting all the crystals out, but the incremental success we've had has kept us going as a family on this task.

What ever brings us together... and I love to see her learn through experience. Who knows where her interests will fall when she's older, but for now I love her openness to explore different things and expand her knowledge.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Party Time

Riley mentioned months ago that she wanted a flower themed birthday party. I tucked it away in the back of my head, but then forgot about it. After last year, where we had a big kid party, we decided to keep things simple this year. As in, the grandparents, us and Riley. But then Riley brought up the flower theme again and we decided that we'd invite 3 - 5 of her friends... and then somehow we actually invited 9. In the end, only 6 could come which was the perfect size.

Riley's birthday was on Tuesday and she informed me that she wanted the house decorated for when she woke up that day. Ok. So I decorated it early - there would be a few details I knew I would add later, but it was mostly done. She was still recovering from being sick (she puked for hours Sunday night and then didn't have much appetite for a couple days after) so when she got up she didn't seem that excited which I sort of expected. No big deal as I knew the excitement would come later. As we neared her party day she shared that there better be more decorations or her party would be RUINED. Haha, really kid?

And so I made a few more tissue ball flower decorations. We do these things for our kids.

My dad has this cool kid sized table that we borrowed. I wish I had the space to keep it all the time, but it was perfect for this day. The table actually came from a building that is about 2 blocks from my home. It was once a school and when it closed, they sold the chairs and tables. I'm guessing my dad bought it 40 or 50 years ago. I'm not sure how old they were when how got them, but they are super solid pieces.

The cat knew something was up, but really had no idea what she was in for. Once the girls arrived, she spent most of her day behind the couch and eventually escaped upstairs and hid under our bed. One of the girls nicely laid out a trail of cat toys to lead her back downstairs.

Trying to entice the cat out from behind the couch

The first activity for the girls was to draw pictures of themselves while their eyes were closed. Riley and I did this the night before and it resulted in a lot of giggles. These girls seemed a little hesitant at first, but quickly got into it and had some fun with it. I encouraged them to keep drawing after that and it was a remarkably quiet time during the party. Some of the girls drew pictures especially for Riley which was super sweet of them to do.

Our next activity was to make flower arrangements where the girls could decorate flower pots and then choose from different flowers to make their bouquet. The girls loved this and were able to take their creations home with them.

And of course, there was food. Pizza, grapes... and cupcakes. Since Riley's party is always near Valentine's day, there are always plenty of treats to select from at the store instead of ordering something special. They weren't flower themed, but all the girls cared about was that they were cupcakes.

One of my favorite parts of the party was when Sarah and Nadine, who are sisters, sang the Happy Birthday song in Arabic. It was quite special that these little girls wanted to sing to my daughter. 

The party wrapped up with the opening of gifts (and the rest of the day was spent playing with all her new gifts).

One of the girls gave Riley a dress with flowers on it so she decided to promptly change into it and then they all either played with random toys or terrorized that cat while the adults looked on.

Loved that this little girl was engrossed with one of our family photo albums.

I have to say that Riley did a great job at coming up with a party theme. She's already announced that next year she wants a cat theme and I have no doubt that that's exactly what we'll do.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Project 52 - Winter Sun - Week 6


The sun seems to be in short order this winter and I have been craving it something fierce so when Jesse suggested we go for a walk at our local nature park this past weekend I was all over it. Grandma and grandpa had Riley so we didn't have to worry about the wee one trying to make this trek. She's done it before, and there's always some whining, but she's never done it when there is packed snow on the ground. It was hard for me (sorry, left knee) so I can't imagine Riley getting very far.

It was also nice to get some one on one time with my husband. We talked, we didn't talk, we enjoyed the silence (or the hum of cars from the nearby freeway). It was nice. And it was sunny.