Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Randomness...

I know, I know, my posts have been few and far between lately!  I'll spare you another email full of excuses and just get to the postin' already!  I have a bunch of randomness to share.

First, we had a family photo shoot at our home a while back, which was a birthday gift from my fabulous hubby, and was done by the most fabulous Erin Johnson.  (You check out her MOMtrepreneur interview on the right column of this blog.) It was such a perfect gift for me...a way to capture my sweet little boys' childhoods, and also to celebrate the fact that we survived (barely) a year of fighting to sell our home to get to this wonderful new (old) home on a lake! I think if you look closely you can see the relief in our faces.  There are SO many GREAT shots but I'll just post a few favorites...
All of us by the the sepia tone!

Sweet little Toby was losing his patience with this photo shoot stuff...started to tear up and retreated into his "Monkey." This one really captures his sensitive side!

My boys (and "Puppy") on the dock! Believe me, I'm about as close as I could be without being in the photo here! :-)
In my Paintertainment world, I've already shared about the county fair that has kept me busy...I've had several other face painting "gigs" this past week too, and am currently in the process of adding new products from 3 new vendors to my store! But I'm most excited that the first copy of my new face painting book just arrived in the mail yesterday and is now available for sale!  I've had so much fun making this book!!

The other thing I wanted to share unfortunately has no photos with it, but I promise it's not to boring.  ;-)  Over the past month or two my hubby and I have sortof evolved our evening routine and it's been awesome.  In the past we've gotten the kids in bed by 8, and then often spent the remaining 3 hours of our evening zoning out in front of the TV. Granted, I am usually doing other things at the same time, like emailing, crocheting, or whatever.  But sitting in front of the TV for 3 hours is just not the best use of our time.

So, without going into the lengthy story of how it evolved, here's what we're doing now:
8:00-9:00 - "The Productive Hour" - We both spend time getting something done on our to-do list. 
9:00-10:00 - "The Deck Hour" - We sit on the deck with a beverage, no computers, and TALK!
10:00-11:00 - "The Vedge Hour" - We vedge out in front of the TV.

It has been so simple yet so awesome in so many ways.  At the end of the night, instead of feeling like a vegetable, we feel satisfied that we've gotten something accomplished.  We have some quality time to connect and talk about our day without interruption.  And we still get to watch the Tivo'd shows we like.  Often times the deck hour will extend right up until bedtime and we skip TV all together. I suppose in the winter "The Deck Hour" will have to turn into "The Living Room" hour or something.

So there you have it.  A small change in our routine that is really a life changing thing, I think!  I know it may not work for everyone, but I thought I'd share it as a great way to cut a little TV out of your day, get stuff done, and stay connected to your spouse in the chaos that is child rearing!

Have a beautiful weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Trying to Re-Enter "Normal" Life Again!

I'm BAAAAAACK!  I recently got sucked into the whirling vortex that is "August" for face painters...the last month of summer where everyone crams in their events!  I have emerged, though teetering around a bit with a kink in my back and my previously broken wrist throbbing again, to live to tell about it! 

Well, okay, so August isn't over yet.  We're only a couple/few weeks into it.  But, August marks the Dakota County Fair week for me. This is the only county fair that I paint at, and for good reason...the 12 hour days painting coupled with over an hour's drive one way makes for a very long and tiring week!  This year was my 14th year painting at the fair, and I believe the 8th (?) year that my most fantastical and talented mom has shared the booth with me!
Our whole family at the booth!

2011 turned out to be a good year, especially when compared to 2010, which was my 2nd least profitable year ever.  So, that was pretty awesome. The amazing weather every single day played a big role too I'm sure.  This is the first time I can recall making it through the fair without a massive and dangerous storm!  (making me most happy to say the "whirling vortex" is completely figurative!)

It was a really fun year!  I added a book of full-face and hand/arm designs which were a lot of fun to do, and I took advantage of any "down time" to paint up my own arm and get some fun photos for my work samples which I hope to post up soon. I think my favorite this week was this chicken I painted on my hand.
buck. buck. BUCK-AWK!

If you'd like to check out more photos from the fair, check out my latest Fair Recap post on my Paintertainment blog.  I've also recently shared a few more fun hand designs.  I'm working on a book right now that will show step-by-step photos to paint 18 really fun hand designs, and hope to have that published very soon!

So, that's what I've been up to lately.  I still have several face painting gigs in the next few weeks, and more requests coming in through September.  But, for now, I'm enjoying getting back to "normal life" again for a while!  And VERY excited to receive the fruits of my summer labor, my new Macbook Pro, just ordered today by my Mom (yup, that same "most fantastical" woman mentioned earlier), who just so happens to be an Apple Specialist at the Mall of America's Apple Store.  Now that's one cool Gramma if I do say so myself!  Thanks, Mom!

Sammy loves his Angry Bird!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monarch Butterfly Re-Wind: From Egg to Worm!

I love it when I can do something super fun and educational at the same time with my kids, and watching monarch caterpillars turn into butterflies has been one of those things.  Just a couple days ago we got to release another butterfly that we watched transform and hatch in a jar!

If you enjoyed my recent "Our Very Hungry Caterpillar" post, this one will re-wind back to an even earlier stage in the butterfly's life...a single egg!  I was out the other day picking milkweed leaves to feed our 2nd "very hungry caterpillar," and looking on the undersides of the leaves it only took me seconds before I spotted an actual monarch EGG.  They are incredibly tiny, perfectly round little specks on the underside of the leaves, and are only about the size of a period at the end of a sentence.  Here you can see it next to my zoomed-in fingertip:

I put it in a little bug cage and a couple days later, sure enough, "out popped a very tiny and very hungry caterpillar."

I can't get over how tiny these things are.  This one above is maybe 1/16th of an inch long at the most.  He's so tiny, I have to stare for a while, inspecting every inch of his little cage to find him.  Yesterday I had to stretch a piece of pantyhose over the top of the lid so he couldn't crawl out of the air holes!

So, we've currently just let loose our 2nd monarch, are watching our 3rd caterpillar eat and grow that my parents gave us last weekend, and now have this teeny speck who will be our 4th!  So amazing to watch, and what a cool nature lesson for the kids!!

So, if you want to find some yourself, just look for milkweed.  Here's a photo I took of some of ours last month:
 Right now the plants are starting to grow their pods.  I used to love opening up the milkweed pods as a kid, letting loose the silky seeds in the wind!  But, you can be pretty sure if it's milkweed if you break off a leaf or stem and this white "milk" oozes out:
So next time you're outside and come across some milkweed, take a peek under those leaves!  If you come across any tiny white eggs, it's a great way to teach your kids about the miracles of nature, and just how tiny and fragile we all start out!


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