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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mama don't take my Kodachrome away (Alternate title: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.).

Mama don't take my Kodachrome away.

I guess it was only a matter of time. A few weeks ago, I purchased a new tripod. Lauren was instantly facinated with it and began to carry it about the house and pretend to take photos. I felt sort of sorry for her, so I decided to attach my baby Nikon to the tripod. I showed her how to press the shutter release and off she went, snapping away. Soon she wanted to take photos without the tripod, but that proved to be a stickier situation because she has little butterfingers. The solution was to give her my old digital camera, which she now calls your very own.

If you've ever wondered about what the world is like through a four year old's eyes, wonder no more. Here's just a sampling of the hundreds(!) of photos that Lauren has taken over the past couple of weeks.

Lauren's world.

(Click here for larger version)

(left to right from the top) 1.) Mama elephant and daddy on the couch 2.) Daisy on the couch 3.) Mommy on the couch 4.) Ruby of Max and Ruby 5.) Dinner remnants 6.) Beavis 7.) Foot on the backseat 8.) Huntz's Tavern (on the way to Grandma's) 9.) Large bottle of whiskey on the floor at Grandma's (Do I see a trend here?) 10.) Dita 11.) Grandma Bruno 12.) Susie, Grandma's cat 13.) Our wedding picture 14.) Pappy sleeping with assorted toys 15.) Daddy 16.) Pap pap Ross with Grandma Pinky, apparently having a breakdown of some sort 17.) Paula Abdul 18.) Self portrait

Monday, April 27, 2009

Go fly a kite.

Go fly a kite!

Once again, I've been slacking off on my blogging duties, but this time, with good reasons. First, for those not living in Pittsburgh, we've had some unseasonably hot temperatures in the upper 80's for the last 3 days. Second, Junior is turning four this weekend, so I've been busy with preparations for that event. Thirdly, I've been trying to allocate some of my free time to exercise, which on weekdays is equivalent to the time that I would normally spend blogging.

Even though the weather was very hot this weekend, there was also a good wind blowing, so we decided to go to Hartwood Acres to give Mark's kite an inaugural flight. I gave him the kite as a Christmas gift, thinking that it would be a fun thing for he and Lauren to do together. You see, there are two skills that run in my family:

#1. Egg dying.

#2. Kite flying.

When he wasn't dictating proper egg dying techniques, my grandfather was an expert kite flier who could attach just about any object to a roll of string and send it into the stratosphere, much to the delight of little me. Of course, no one was allowed to touch the string, so you just had to stand there and enjoy the moment. Lucky for Lauren, we broke the cycle and allowed her to be an active participant in the the kite flying rather than just an observer. As it turns out, she was quite good at it - after all, it's in her blood, you know.

Kite flying at Hartwood Acres.

Signs o' Spring - Leaf Buds.

It was so odd to have such hot weather when the leaves are just beginning to form on the trees.

Signs o' Spring - Cherry Blossoms.

Did you ever notice how the passing of the year is marked by certain fleeting events? For example, our cherry tree just began to bloom this weekend. The blossoms will last for about a week, and then it will be done until next spring. Last week, our neighbor's magnolia trees were blooming, but now the pedals are scattered on the street. Soon, the Lilies of the Valley will bloom and then after that the rhododendrons and so on and so forth. It's very comforting to have such order around you.

***Begin American Idol blabbering***

I have to admit that I've found the last two weeks of the competition to be fairly uninspiring. This isn't surprising since usually around this time in the competition, I've gotten to know what to expect from the contestants and as a result, I'm harder to impress. For example, last season many of David Cook's and Jason Castro's best performances happened prior to Top Six (FYI, Top Seven last year was Mariah Carey week which featured the outstanding "Always Be My Baby" from Cook and "I Don't Want to Cry" from Castro.). After that, everyone seemed to run out of steam or was on the verge of a breakdown. This season's contestants seem to be holding up better mentally, but are falling into the same stagnation. Adam's "If I Can't Have You" was good, but I don't think he can top "Mad World" at this point. Kris's "She Works Hard for the Money" was very creative, but pretty much more of the same.

And what about "The Save"? How ridiculous was it for them to save a guy who they had to put through as a Wildcard contestant? Basically, America voted the guy out TWICE and TWICE the show overrode that decision. Not only that, they save a guy who gave a marginal performance the night before, and who Simon admits doesn't stand a chance in winning! I thought the whole purpose of "The Save" was to prevent a solid performer from falling through the cracks due to the voting being out of whack. The fact is that America got it right, and Matt had no business staying another week, well enough two! And poor Anoop got the shaft because of it (I don't feel sorry for Lil because this was her week to go). And while it's true that Anoop was as inconsistant as Matt, he seemed to be hitting his stride and delivered three solid performances in a row. But, hey, at least he won't be jerked around any longer. That was painful to watch.

Lastly, a few words about Danny. I'm still unsure of their plans for Danny. For the most part, they continue to praise him to the high heavens. "Endless Love" started out fairly rough vocally, but Paula did not call him on it (In fact, Paula in particular is usually at a loss for words when someone she knows she should be praising has a lackluster performance. This is when she starts babbling about a contestant's looks or "colors" etc.). However, Simon then called him out on his lack of originality (ahem, "artistry" TM Kara) and negatively compared him to David Cook. This past week, Danny received praise from all the judges, but again Simon gave him a not-so subtle gab about having "clumsy" performance skills, which, if you read between the lines actually meant, "Danny, Adam OWNS you, buddy!" I think Danny is still pretty much a lock for the final though. Everyone I know personally who watches the show prefers him, so I think his fan base is pretty huge. It would be fun to see Kris slip through though, but I don't know if his acoustic style could hang with Adam's bombastic style.

Tomorrow...songs from the Rat Pack! Should be a good show!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I would dye 4 you (Alternate title: The Easter that never ends.).


Okay, so I should have posted these a week ago. What can I say - I just can't let go of Easter 2009. No, in actuality, I just can't let go of procrastination.

Anyway, my family takes their egg dying very seriously. It's pretty intense so you better get an egg soaking in some vinegar and food coloring or else get out of the way. In fact, I think next year I should buy a more elaborate kit instead of just the 99 cents one. These people crave a challenge.

Beware of the wax crayon.

Lauren - be careful with that wax crayon! When she was your age, Mommy always got blamed for breaking the wax crayon.

Pappy and Lauren.

Pappy Bruno shows Lauren proper technique.

Grandpap and Lauren.

Grandpap Ross shows Lauren egg dying Ross style. Should she wrap the egg like the Ross's or write on it with the wax crayon like the Bruno's? The poor confused child!


Noah wisely chose to stay of the way, which was good because egg dying with my family is not for the innocent.

Mel C and Phyllis - Craig groupies.

Mel C and Aunt Phyllis pay tribute to Uncle Craig through the medium of egg dying.

Craig and his tribute egg.

Craig admiring his hard boiled immortalization.

Mike's playoff beard.

A random photo of my brother-in-law's play-off beard. It's the pride of our family.

Finished product.

Ta-da! The finished product!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We now interrupt Easter to bring you...Halloween.

Spooky girl.

That's all.

P.S. Thank you for your support Felice! I love Poke Cake too - I make it every Easter!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nips are in the air (Alternate title: Nips have sprung).

Egg tree.

I'm not much for spring decorating. Digging out the feather tree from Christmas and decorating it with eggs is usually how far I get, but this year, I thought I'd give it the old college try. I even invested in some new things.

Spring mantel.

So I picked up a few things from my favorite site in the world, Etsy. The wreath came from here, the letter blocks from here, and the flags from here. Mark made fun of the flags and the blocks because according to him, I could have made these myself. This is probably true, but I find with some things that after you buy all the supplies you need and then put in the time to make them, it ends up costing about equal anyway. Besides, these will bring me years of enjoyment!

Now the letter blocks in particular invite mischief, as I found on Saturday night when my dinner guests thought it would be funny to creatively rearrange the blocks to spell out a different word (or sometimes not). So each time I came back into the dining room, the configuration would change. For example, from this:

And pins too!

To this:

We've got nips!

Wiseacres. All of them.

Lastly some people spend their lives searching for the goose that laid the golden egg.

The golden bunny who poops Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Personally, I prefer the golden bunny that poops Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

***Begin American Idol blabbering***

I'm two weeks behind, so where should I start? Oh, why of course - with Adam! First, wouldn't it figure that after I publicly declare my support, he has to go and throw that screamfest that was "Play That Funky Music." Now if any performance deserved to be called "indulgent" it was that one, because I think that was Adam putting on a show for himself. And even if the judges would have panned him for it, I think he still would have been pleased with it. I admit, however, that I did download it from iTunes anyway, and it does grow on you with repeat plays. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Lauren likes to sing along, "Play that bumpy music my boy!" It's pretty hysterical.

Last week, Adam instantly fell back into my good graces with "Mad World." That's the kind of performance that gives me reason to watch this show. Not the umpteen performance of "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch," or "I Want to Dance With Somebody" or some other uncreative, overly played song. He took a song that I barely knew and made me want to listen to it over and over again. And that's saying something because, boy is that song depressing: "The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had." Yikes.

Next would be my second fav, Kris Allen. Loved, loved "Ain't No Sunshine." I really hope he makes at least top three, but he gave me a scare last week with "All She Wants to Do Is Dance." I love Don Henley, but that was all kinds of awful. I was so worried for him that I voted for the first time this season (Albeit for 15 minutes, but still!). How ridiculous was he standing in a mass of teeny bopper girls gleefully singing, "They're pickin' up the prisoners and puttin'
em in the pen." Talk about not emotionally connecting to a song.

I totally could have predicted Danny singing "Stand By Me" last week, but I do have to say that he looked real sharp. Wardrobe usually dresses him atrociously. And while I thought the impressions that they all did of each other during the Top 9 results show were cute, I couldn't help but feel that Danny was just a little too into making fun of Matt.

Speaking of the Top 9 results show, I didn't think Megan's crazy antics were disrespectful. After all the mind games that they play on these people, I'm surprised that we haven't had more of these moments of "self-awareness."

And speaking of Matt, I mentioned before that I don't really care for him. I pegged him early on as an Elliot Yamin wannabe, and we all know that there can only be one Elliot. However, although it was decidedly panned on performance night his studio recording of "You Found Me" is fantastic. I finally kinda get what they see in him.

Poor Anoop. They really have it in for him. Part of it is his fault because he seems to take himself way too seriously. I thoroughly enjoyed "My Prerogative," but those those "Watch out girls - I'm a playa!" faces he makes every time he sings an up-tempo song are ridiculous! A little smiling would go a long way. It's a shame because his recording voice is great. Like Matt, his "Caught Up" came across much better in the studio than it did on stage because I didn't have to look at his faces.

Lil bores me to tears. Don't have anything to say about her other than they should throw the support that they're giving to her behind Allison because I think she is the best girl in the competition. Maybe they'd realize it if they weren't so distracted by her wardrobe and "lack" of personality.

Scott seemed like he was a total sweetheart with a great sense of humor, but his "The Search Is Over" was uncomfortable to watch. For that, he deserved to leave, but I'll miss his wacky hairdos.

Lastly, it's official. Jason Castro was signed by Atlantic Records and is releasing an album later this year!! Atta boy, Jason - I knew you had it in ya!

Monday, April 13, 2009

A hunting we will go.

Run children, there are eggs to be had!

Last Friday was our neighborhood Easter egg hunt. This was Lauren's second year in attendance. She was very into it.

Alas, a green one!

Alas, a green one!

Counting her chickens before they hatch.

Don't count your chickens before they hatch, Lauren! Since I'm your mother, I have to dole out pearls of wisdom like that. It doesn't matter that they're plastic - mother always knows best!

Checking out their haul.

It's funny because after all the anticipation, the hunt lasts for all of ten minutes because the kids find the eggs so quickly. Then they sit down and methodically count how many they have. In the end, each child gets twelve, so once you find your twelfth, you're out of the hunt. Notice how Lauren has lined hers up - that has to mean something. She does look to be thinking very hard. Maybe she's coming up with a mathematical equation which dictates the ratio of candy to the size and color of the egg? Better yet, maybe she's trying to come up with a scheme to get more eggs. Knowing her, that's more like it.

There were boys at the hunt at well, although you won't see any photos of them. This is because the boys's style of hunting consists of running around like maniacs while the girls are more slow and methodical (And thus easier to snap.).

My big girl with pony tails.

You may have noticed that Lauren has finally come to accept pony tails as a hair style option. To me, she looks much older than "just about four" in this photo. She's even got that big kid attitude reflected in her stance. After having the run of the neighborhood with your posse for ten minutes, how could you not feel all grown up?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

What's up, doc?

Just a quick post to let everyone know that, though neglected as of late, rumors of the blog's demise have been greatly exaggerated. It's merely a victim of the author's poor time management skills.

Anyway, I have plenty of photos to go through and edit. I have the day off tomorrow with little to no commitments (besides Lauren's whims), so I hope to get some posted tomorrow and throughout the week. Yeah, there's that many. I could take a whole week just documenting the egg dying. My peeps love them some egg dying. And for those of you following American Idol with me, I'll try to throw in some comments about that too. For now, I'm off to eat some left over Poke Cake.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Scrapbooking: Are You Ready for the Summer? and Guitar Goddess.

Are you ready for the summer?

I thought I would start off the month with a couple of scrapbook pages. I've been a little unexcited by some my recent pages (Don't get me wrong - I like them just fine, but to me they've been more functional than inspired), but these I'm particularly pleased with.

This first one gets its name from a very cheesy song featured in the very cheesy movie Meatballs. And everytime I think of this song, it gets stuck in my head (Now I did it...make it stop!). Anyway, we did so many fun things this past summer, but I don't have the time or the motivation to make individual pages for every moment.

The photo placement came together fairly quickly. However, since there are many bright photos on the page, I struggled quite a bit with what colors to use. Then I remembered - when in doubt, use white card stock. I just love white cardstock. After that, everything else fell into place. The "summer" in the title is made of stickers and page pebbles that were some of the very first scrapbooking embellishments that I bought when I started out in 2004 - 2005. It's very satisfying when I can use my old stash in fresh way. The paper and stickers are made by SEI.

Guitar Goddess

As a rule, I don't usually make pages without at least some journalling. Otherwise, for me personally, it's just not scrapbooking. Nonetheless, this page came together so quickly and effortlessly, that I couldn't possibly consider it anything less. Plus, it was nice to just have fun and make something while not having to fret about any stupid typos. Again, I brought out my old trick of cutting out the pattern from paper and adhering to cardstock. Paper and embellishments are made by My Mind's Eye.