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In between boys, marriage, work and running a house, I sometimes indulge my artistic side.  Here’s my latest accomplishment:

The colours on this latest “masterpiece” really are fantastically bright.  It was such a pleasure to work on it when everything outside is so terribly dull and when most of my house is riddled with pebbles (LOL!)

On a happier note, I’ve been thinking about my pebble problem some more and it’s gotten me less frustrated and more motivated.  I realize that the problem started when we moved to this house.  Not only were we getting used to a new home and a new community but I was also entering a new phase in life.  After years of being a single mom, I was now a dating mom.  Eventually, I became an engaged mom and finally I am what I am now – a married mom.  In all that excitement we also transitioned from being a homeschooling family to a family that sent the kids to public school.  A lot of changes happened in a relatively short time and some good things went by the wayside.

Being on my own and homeschooling, I was able to devote a lot of time to D and P.  Being younger, they needed constant supervision.  I’m very good about cleaning up after myself and so I made my little charges clean up after every activity too.  Of course they did it because to not do it meant the wrath of mean ol’ ma and who wants that?  Not my boys!

When we moved here the boys were older and being busy with new and interesting things (namely DA), I left them more on their own.  Settling into the house took some time and not everything got a home right away.  As they got older, we also got more stuff and more stuff means more mess.  I wasn’t consistent about clean up with them especially as they grew to be able to do more things on their own that previously required my assistance.  I guess I  thought they would automatically internalize my clean up mentality but how could they really?  Clean up means different things to different people.  To me, clean up means leaving a room the way you found it.  To D and P it might mean that they put the bread away and put the lid on the peanut butter.  They’re not thinking about the crumbs, the sticky knife on the counter or the fact that they found the peanut butter jar in a cupboard and that maybe that’s where I want it put away when they’re done with it.

I’m getting annoyed with them because they’re not cleaning up the way I want them to and they’re getting annoyed with me because I’m constantly calling them and pointing out what I see as infractions.  First of all, I need to clearly define to them what I mean by cleaning up.  Then we need to use the “ladder method”.  What I mean by that is that we need to go rung by rung to get D and P to where I want them to be.  The top of the ladder is that they always leave a room the way they found it or better.  The first rung of the ladder is the front entrance way.  We need to start there.  The shoes or boots need to be placed on the mat (I may do plastic cut outs so they know where I expect them to be.)  Coats need to be hung on hangers in the closet.  Assigned hangers may be in order here.  Back packs will also have an assigned spot.  The retraining will start at the front door.  When we’re getting good at that area, we’ll move to the next recurring problem spot while still maintaining the good habits we’ve created at the last one.

What I like about this plan is that it’s not so overwhelming for me or them.  I simply can’t tackle all the problem areas at once.  I run out of steam.  It’s also unfair to suddenly expect them to leap to the top of my success ladder in a single bound.   Getting to the top is a step by step process.

The consequence for not meeting the front entrance requirements will be scrubbing the floor by the front door (after the guilty one has placed his shoes properly, hung up his coat correctly and put his back pack where it’s supposed to be of course.)  That smallish piece of vinyl flooring is always dirty in the winter anyways.

The first rung will likely be the hardest.  I have a feeling they’ll make it to the next rungs with a bit more ease.  Either that or I’ll have an amazingly scrubbed house.

Every now and then, the sky blushes in the winter.  It happened on Saturday and luckily I had my camera with me.

This is Couchiching Park with a lovely blue and pink backdrop.  So pretty!

It’s a bitter -27 degrees out before you factor in windchill.  I can honestly say that, despite its beauty, I’m ready to bid Winter good-bye.  Each morning I find myself hoping that February will zip by so that we can get to signs of Spring.  Fortunately, I have a little bit of Spring in full bloom in my living room.

There’s something about fresh flowers that cheers the soul even if the body has to go outside and freeze to deliver papers.

Since I walk so much delivering papers, I don’t often go for leisure walks anymore.  It’s been so mild lately that I ventured out a bit Sunday afternoon with my camera.  I’m glad I did because it’s raining today and the winter I saw yesterday won’t be around much longer if it keeps up.  These are “just because” pics.

These cattails lured me out to walk on the lake.

This bike has been here a while.

Orillia often has pretty clouds.

I like it when ice sticks to things.

There isn’t a lot of colour in winter, so these tiny red berries stood out to me.

I’ve been wanting to do a photo shoot with the boys for a while but setting has been a major issue.  It’s hard to do a good shoot outside in the winter and it’s also hard to do a good shoot indoors without a studio.  I tried hard to clear out one corner of the spare bedroom to create a neutral backdrop.  I wasn’t as successful as I was hoping to be.  Looking at the shots I got, I can also tell that I need to fiddle with lighting somehow if I try to use that corner again.  The one thing I can’t complain about is D and P.  They were most cooperative, going so far as getting geared up in their new Air Cadet uniforms for me.  Here are Orillia’s newest recruits:

I’ve been putting my camera to good use lately, snapping wildly and often to everyone’s annoyance at family functions.  The pictures are personal and will make for good memories but they aren’t the sort of shots that get me excited.  What I really like to do is take artsy shots.  You know, those sort of pictures that are useless really but look ever so pretty.

I coaxed DA to come outside with me to try to find anything photo worthy.  It was tough.  We have snow here but it’s crept above the freezing mark and a lot of it has melted.  The world around me looks more weary than anything else.

We did manage to spot some beauty in the trees.

I like the randomness of branches.  No doubt many a modern art piece has been inspired by winter tree limbs.

This crazy shot, a super close up of frozen water droplets on the end of pine needles, is one of my favourites.  I think something like this would make a fabulous large size painting.  It’s funny to me how drab the world looks in its winter garb until you look at in photos.  Then you see all these beautiful yellows and mauves and greens and it’s subtly striking.

At first glance the trees looked rather plain but a closer inspection showed that they were sporting winter’s version of jewellery.  Aren’t those tiny “diamonds” quietly stunning?

There is no purpose to any of these photos.  I took them just because I like to focus in on beauty.  I marvel that it’s all around me and yet so easily missed if one doesn’t intentionally look for it.  Had anyone told me winter is actually quite a colourful season, I would have scoffed but looking at the few pictures I took today, I’m seeing the prettiest of hues and smiling at how unexpected that is.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have so many agreeable men in their lives.

This is DA’s grandpa.  He used to be a professional photographer so I had to show him my new baby.  He was wonderfully indifferent when I started snapping pics of him while he talked to his grandson.  If only everyone was that easy!

Here’s DA.  He normally cringes when he sees me pointing the camera his way but he didn’t fuss during our visit with Grandpa.  For once, I got some shots of him relaxed.  Usually his anxiety about being in photos really shows up.  The relaxed shots are SO much better.

My dad’s a good guy to take pictures of.  He doesn’t ask to be in any shots but he doesn’t try to avoid the camera either.  He was enjoying dinner with his children and grandchildren in this photo.  I like how happy he looks.

My father-in-law is a good sport when it comes to my photography experiments.  I don’t think he really likes having his picture taken but he’s wonderfully cooperative when his daughter-in-law is the one holding the camera.  This is one of my favourite shots of him.

I’d like to follow this entry up at some point with the women in my life but that’s REALLY going to be a challenge.  The gals don’t like having their pictures taken and at least one of them truly isn’t photogenic.  For now, I’ll rejoice in the successes with the guys.

There’s a reason why blue and white is such an enduring and pleasing colour combination.  It’s the palette the eye takes in after a snowstorm, when the sun comes out to play with what the wind and the clouds left behind.

If a sigh of relief could be represented by a colour scheme, this would be it I think.

It was so nice that the snow held off until my day off.

Almost everything looks so much prettier with a light dusting of the white stuff, even dead grass.

I couldn’t help photographing the homely remains of summer’s beauty, Queen Anne’s Lace.  They looked so festive sporting their little snow caps.

Almost everything looks better because of the snow.  Even the white stuff couldn’t beautify the wad of gum stuck to my bush out front, at least not in my eyes.

I have this nifty new camera that I’m gung ho to practice with but no one in my family wants their photo taken.  What’s a girl to do?  Ask the neighbours if I can practice on them, that’s what.

Meet RL, a colourful character who LOVES to pose for the camera.  I had so much fun with this willing subject.

She strummed her guitar pillow with gusto for me

and finished her performance with a bold pose.

She had no problems donning a hat

or braving the elements for me.  The umbrella was her idea.  Love it!

She moved all over her multi-hued room for me.

When I was stumbling around for fresh ideas, she wasn’t.  She asked for this shot with the lipstick.

Now meet B, RL’s good friend.

She’s a happy lass who jumped at the chance to wear RL’s hot pink boa.

She didn’t mind putting on a hat for me either

or showing me her teenage crush.

She was so cute outside with the umbrella.

You know what the best part of this story is?  The girls had such a blast with this photo shoot that they’ve invited me back again next weekend for another one.  We’ve got some big ideas brewing for take # 2.  Oh…just for the record…I had a blast too and wouldn’t miss a chance for another session with these two.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.