Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taking Pictures (A Special Pinterest Poser Challenge)


I am not a professional photographer.  I don't even own or have access to a fancy camera anymore. I don't have enough money to hire professional photographers or the wall space to display that many photos.  BUT I love to take pictures and I don't suck at it.

For this week's Pinterest Poser Challenge,* I'm sharing a favorite Picture Project and some picture taking tips.  Not because I copied it from Pinterest, more like Pinterest inspired me to do it.  

*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every week I detail a new project/idea/recipe inspired by Pinterest.
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.

Even though I take a thousand pictures of my family every week, I started a pretty cool picture tradition a few years ago.  When Wade turned one, I decided to take a picture of all the kids in front of the cool barn in our town. The barn is a store that sells rock salt for driveways, propane for grills and a lot of other things.  In fact, it is the same store/barn that Tim used to come to as a kid to buy feed for his family's chickens.  Yo, this barn goes way back with our family.  And now, every year we go back and take a picture there.  

It seemed like a cutesy idea five years ago.   It has grown to be so meaningful to me.  Looking back at how much my kids have changed in the past five years makes my heart explode with love and gratitude and holy shit where does the time go I can't believe they were babies just a few years ago and now at least two of them look like mini adults thoughts.  

Youngbloods at the barn in 2014
Youngbloods at the barn in 2012.
Youngbloods at the barn in 2011.
Youngbloods at the Barn in 2010.
I recently saw a story in The New York Times about a group of sisters that have been photographed every year since 1975.  Click here to look at the pictures, they are so moving.  I hope my kids let me photograph them every year for forever.  

My pictures are not taken with a fancy camera, I probably get the lighting all wrong, but I don't care.  I captured the wobbly knees of baby Wade back in 2010 and JT's curls!, Lucy laughing with wild abandon in 2011 and Peyton looking comfortable in his own skin in 2014.  

The whole photo shoot has gotten a little easier over the years mostly because we aren't worried about Wade crawling or wandering off or crying.  The kids know the quicker they smile, the quicker it will be done.  This year, we went to the barn in between the kids' basketball games and they changed in the minivan.

Tim is my trusty assistant every year.


Here are some of my very impressive kid photo shoot tips that I have learned over the last five years:

If you are wondering what happened to 2013, we didn't go to the barn. What?  How could I have done that?  Ugh.  Never again.  But we did still take pictures and they were still awesome.
Youngbloods and their dog 2013.
Tim was there helping for that one too of course.


Have you made anything inspired by Pinterest lately?  Let me know in the comments or over on my Facebook page



Come follow me on Pinterest (click here).

Here are some of the Pinterest projects I've done/made/attempted.

Gluten Free Pretzels- click here
Cinnamon Sugar Doughballs- click here
Painted Lockers- click here
Melted Beads- DIY Suncatcher- click here
Tissue Paper Pom Pom Garland-- click here
A Delightfully Simple Birthday Party--click here
Make An Awesome Omelet--click here
Outdoor Lights Inspired by the show Parenthood- click here
Herb Garden with Chalkboard Pots- click here
Backyard Graffiti Art with kids- click here
Happiness Notecards- click here
Gluten Free Rainbow Cake- click here
Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies- click here
Make Your Own Magnets- click here
DIY Painted Clay Necklace- click here
Dixie Cup Lights- click here
DIY Ornaments-click here
Gluten Free Clay- click here
Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here
Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here
Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowers- click here
Earth Day Cupcakes- Click here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Fun- click here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here





Monday, October 20, 2014

The Wonderful Have-Tos Of Life

After a busy weekend of birthday parties, sleepovers, two football games, two basketball games and a pumpkin patch, we sat down as a family and watched The Great Pumpkin last night. My kids honestly love it.  They feel badly for Charlie Brown when he gets rocks in his bag, laugh when Lucy bobs for apples and touches Snoopy's dog lips, and  they marvel just a little bit at Linus' blind faith.  (Hope that doesn't mess any plot lines up for anybody that hasn't seen it.  Should I have typed "spoiler alert" at the beginning?  Are there people that haven't seen it?)

It felt good to sit down and watch a show with the family.  I've been feeling a little overwhelmed lately.  Overwhelmed with the have-tos of life--the scheduling, the bill paying, the worrying about how we will do the bill paying, the making of time for everyone and everything, the laundry, the dinner making, the email returning, the creative budgeting, the homework (reminding and helping) and the all the rest of it.

It was the last game of JT's first season.  He had a great game.


So, sitting down and watching a holiday classic with everyone felt good.  It's a family tradition, a wonderful kind of have-to.  

That's what makes all the overwhelming-ness bearable I guess.  All the wonderful kind of have-tos in life.  

The post game brother hug.


The Sunday morning chocolate chip pancakes (and another brother hug).

The tire swing rides.

The tractor rides.

The opportunity to talk, and listen.
 
The opportunity to explore a little.

The just-right pumpkin finding.

The climbing of the haystack.



The once-a-year caramel apple.

I believe in the power of all the wonderful have-tos of life.  They make all the bullshit more bearable.  They make the overwhelming-ness a little less heavy.  They make the world seem a little bit like the pumpkin patch that Linus sat in all night..."nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see."  Just truth and beauty and good memories.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Happiness For Life

I am a mother of four children.  When they were all little, people would say things like "are they all yours?"  or "boy, you've got your hands full."  I wore those comments like badges of honor.  A successful trip to the grocery store with a kindergartner, preschooler, toddler and a baby in the carrier made me feel like I could do absolutely anything.  I wanted to reply to those people by saying "Why yes, they are all I mine, I do indeed have my hands full and look what I just did...I'm sort of amazing!"

Those years when the kids were so little are a little bit of a blur.  They were busy and fun and wonderful and amazing and very, very full.  During that time I read parenting books, joined moms' groups, chatted online with other busy moms of toddlers and watched shows like SuperNanny.  

Now I find myself an expert in all things toddler with no toddlers.  Funny how that works.  

As my kids get older, parenting is different.  In some ways it's harder.  It's less about herding my crew successfully through the aisles of the grocery store without losing a toddler or one of us having a meltdown.  Now it's more about making sure they are understanding the why's, the what's and how's of life.   It's more mentally tiring than physically.

Now I'm liking tween pages on Facebook, reading scary articles online about tweens and teens sexting and worrying a lot.  Is it too late to teach this lesson or that lesson?  Do I put too much pressure on them, or not enough?  Homework battles, scholastic concerns, friend drama, allowance negotiations, chores, sex talks, don't forget the manners, value systems....there is a lot to this.  And don't forget the fun, because when kids get older there is fun to be had with them too.  Right? I mean when they aren't totally annoyed with you for teaching so many life lessons.  So, these years with four older kids are busy and fun and wonderful and amazing, but a little more overwhelming than I ever anticipated.  

My friend Deborah Gilboa, MD, also a mom of four, recently wrote a book about raising kids.  She's not just my friend, she is also a family physician, an international speaker, author and TV personality.  She is known as "Doctor G."



Not only do I love the title Get the Behavior You Want...Without Being the Parent You Hate!, but I love the easy-to-read, practical advice she gives.  Advice that doesn't scare me like some of the tween sites or overwhelm me.

For example, her advice on why titles matter is simple yet brilliant.  She gives reasons how titles help kids.  Reasons like "adults will listen to them more" and "titles are verbal boundaries, reminding kids to treat adults differently than peers."  I think it is also good for some of the adults I know to remember that they aren't friends or peers with their own kids or their kids' friends. I think that is incredibly important as we move into the teen years.  After reading that chapter, I am on a full-fledged "we are now using  ma'am and sir around here" campaign in my house. 

The book is geared for parents with kids that are toddlers through age 12.  It's a wonderful guide for parents of young children that prepares the whole family for the teen years and beyond.

The book is broken down into four parts:
Part I: Respect--That's My Kid!
Part II: Responsibility--Count On It
Part III: Resilience: Raising Problem Solvers
Part IV:  Making Change Happen: How to Actually Get Kids To Do This Stuff

Gilboa tackles a range of topics from kids dressing themselves and picky eaters to allowance and technology.

"This book is to give you new ideas, and provide structure for your consistency," Gilboa writes in the introduction.  "Choose the goals that ring true for your family and pursue those."

She writes about getting off the "happiness hook."  "When we give our kids boundaries we make them unhappy.  It's still the right thing to do," Gilboa writes.  "When we give our kids the ability to show respect for themselves and others, the responsibility inherent in a strong work ethic, and the resilience to overcome hardship, we hand them the ability to find and make their own happiness for life."

The book is helpful, positive, practical and something that I will use as a resource and a reminder that I am not alone (or the worst parent ever! geez!) when I say no to my kids, set boundaries or give them chores.  


Click here for more information about the book Get the Behavior You Want...Without Being the Parent You Hate!.  It is now available on Amazon, click here to buy the book.

Check out Deborah Gilboa's web site, AskDoctorG.com, click here.  And Follow Doctor G on Facebook.  Be sure to check out her YouTube channel for really good, informative, helpful videos. 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Money, Money, Money

I don't blog or vlog for the money.  I'm not really all that interested in money.  But sometimes when I do get a check for some work I've done, it feels pretty wonderful.  Unfortunately, the money goes pretty fast (sometimes even before I get the check, ha ha).  

Check out what happened when I got a check in the mail this week:


(Click here to watch the video.)

Subscribe to my YouTube channel (click here) to catch my weekly videos.  And don't forget to keep up with some of my #31DaysOfDance videos on my YouTube channel.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lyric Lover- A Music Review of Heart On My Sleeve


Song lyrics have always been important to me.  In college I was the girl that had the perfect song for the moment.  Back then I would drag my jam box out from my bedroom and play what I thought was the perfect CD for the moment (because it was of course a million years before iTunes and iPods and playlists).  From bad break ups (hello Alanis Morissette) to my life isn't exactly like I thought it would be (thank you Sarah McLachlan for understanding) to I just want to be me (amen Ani DiFranco) I knew the singers and songs with the right lyrics.  

Good lyrics mostly from strong women helped tell the story of my young life.  From Madonna to Tori Amos, looking back I grew up with some great music and great lyrics. 

Singing the meaningful words over and over in my car or quoting the lyrics in my journal, the song lyrics comforted me.  They made me feel less alone, more understood.

I got a chance to review Mary Lambert's new album Heart On My Sleeve and I feel like shouting to whomever is in the room, "I've got the perfect song!"  It's not just Lambert's melodic voice on the new music, it's the lyrics, the words she is singing.  

Mary Lambert is probably best known for writing and singing the hook on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' marriage equality anthem "Same Love."  Before that song, Lambert was an aspiring singer-songwriter who also worked as a brunch waitress and bartender.  After years of struggling both financially and personally, Lambert suddenly found herself signed to Capitol Records, releasing an EP (Welcome To The Age of My Body) and getting nominated for two Grammy Awards 

On Heart On My Sleeve Lambert sings about identity, dealing with pain from the past, finding love and being vulnerable and authentic.  



Some songs are slow and somewhat hypnotic like "When You Sleep," others have more of a pop/dancey feel like "Secrets."  She even sings a haunting cover of Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" and makes it her own.

One of my favorite songs off the album is "Sum of Our Parts."  It speaks to my inner lyric loving college girl.  It's both slow and dancey.  It's full of anthem-like lyrics about accepting ourselves and saving ourselves, lyrics I want to write in a journal or sing into a hairbrush. 





I don't want to really call her a voice of a generation because she spans generations.  Her songs are relatable to 20-somethings and 40-somethings.

Whether it's a group of my 40-something girlfriends getting together to discuss perimenopausal angst or my four kids and I baking together in the kitchen, I can find the perfect song for the moment on Mary's album Heart On My Sleeve.


This is the perfect song ("Secrets") to dance along to in my kitchen with my kids. 

Mary Lambert's album Heart On My Sleeve is available on iTunes ( click here   http://bit.ly/MaryHeart) and on Amazon (click here http://bit.ly/MaryLHeart)


I participated in the Mary Lambert Heart On My Sleeve album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gluten Free Soft Pretzels Just Like Target, Sort Of & Pinterest Poser Challenge

We used to go to Target a lot.  Everytime we went, I got the kids a soft pretzel.  It was sort of our thing, a special little treat.  When JT was diagnosed with Celiac disease we stopped getting soft pretzels at Target. 

Not being able to have soft pretzels at Target isn't the biggest deal in the world.  Believe me, I know that!  But it is just one more little way that JT feels different.  JT was diagnosed with Celiac disease when he was four years old, he is almost forgetting what the Target pretzels taste like anyway.  There are a lot more gluten free options available (for a lot of extra money still), but being a kid with Celiac makes you different at birthday parties, at the holidays, after the game, anytime anyone says "let's get pizza."  Our society is built around food (and alcohol for adults) and when you can't eat it you are different, left out, special.  

JT never complains, ever.  He gets quiet sometimes. He gets super excited when he can have the snack after the game.  So I am super grateful for things like Pinterest.  Not because I can try to make perfect looking crafts or elaborate birthday cakes (although I do like to attempt those).  I like Pinterest for the million and fifty gluten free food ideas and inspiration.

I recently saw the most beautiful picture of a soft pretzel on Pinterest and it said "gluten free."  What?! I decided I would give my boy soft pretzels just like Target for a special treat.  That is this week's Pinterest Poser Challenge*-- Gluten Free Soft Pretzels.

*In an attempt at not being a Pinterest Poser,** every week I detail a new project/idea/recipe inspired by Pinterest. 
**My definition of a Pinterest Poser is someone who is all pins and no substance.


The recipe (click here for the full recipe) came from a blog that seemed a lot cooler than I feel which both intimidated me and made me feel sort of a tiny bit cooler for even reading it.  The recipe called for Coconut Oil. I've never bought Coconut Oil, but had recently heard about all the amazing things it can do for a person on Dr. Oz.  The good doctor claims putting it in your coffee can clear a foggy head. So I happily went to the grocery store to buy that for my foggy head and my pretzels.  Um, did you know Coconut Oil is hard? And expensive.  Seven dollars on a not huge bottle.  

Here's the ingredient/shopping list for the GF pretzels:
Gluten free flour
Active Dry Yeast
Fine Sea Salt
Sugar
Eggs
Honey
Coconut Oil
Butter
Baking Soda

Here's part of the fancy recipe:
 1 1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I always use Betty Crocker gf flour blend)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp sugar (the original recipe called for coconut sugar, but I used regular)
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
1 Tbs honey
Coconut oil
Melted butter
Coarse sea salt (for dusting)

For baking soda bath:
large pot
2 1/2 quarts water
2/3 cups baking soda

Additional tools:
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper
Pastry brush
Large bowl


A few things that I did differently than the fancy recipe/website:

The original recipe called for a mixer, which I do not have so I just stirred everything by hand.  

The original recipe says you should use a hand-held pasta strainer for the soda bath, I do not have one so I just used a large slotted spoon.

Lucy and I wore headbands and pretended we were sisters working in a bakery in Russia in the 1800s, because we like to play make-believe whenever we can.  Except Lucy wouldn't let me use an accent, waaaa.


Here's my Pinterest Poser takeaway:

  • They really didn't taste anything like Target soft pretzels.  BUT they looked a little bit like them.  They were denser than soft, puffy gluten-filled pretzels.  Most gluten free baked goods are more dense.
  • These were fun to make.  It was a lengthy process, but fun do to with the kids.  
  • I've been putting coconut oil in my coffee everyday and I think I might be a little less foggy, maybe? 
  • JT didn't like them.  But I think he dug that I tried.  And I will not stop doing little things that make him feel good and not so left out of all things food.
  • Not a total win, but not a total fail either.  I will make them again for sure.  
  • I am no poser.


Click here for the chicken noodle soup recipe.

Have you made anything inspired by Pinterest lately?  Let me know in the comments or over on my Facebook page.


Come follow me on Pinterest (click here).

Here are some of the Pinterest projects I've done/made/attempted.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughballs- click herePainted Lockers- click here
Melted Beads- DIY Suncatcher- click here
Tissue Paper Pom Pom Garland-- click here
A Delightfully Simple Birthday Party--click here
Make An Awesome Omelet--click here
Outdoor Lights Inspired by the show Parenthood- click here
Herb Garden with Chalkboard Pots- click here
Backyard Graffiti Art with kids- click here

Happiness Notecards- click here
Gluten Free Rainbow Cake- click here
Fruit Roll-Up Fortune Cookies- click here
Make Your Own Magnets- click here
DIY Painted Clay Necklace- click here
Dixie Cup Lights- click here
DIY Ornaments-click here
Gluten Free Clay- click here
Make Your Own Stamps- click here
Birthday Shirt- click here

Gluten Free Pop Tarts- click here
Front Porch Kid Art Display- click here
Door turned into Table- click here
Summer Wish List Chalkboard-click here
Peanut Butter Nutella Cookie Sandwiches-click here
Painted Mason Jar Vases-click here
Cinco de Mayo Paper Flowers- click here
Earth Day Cupcakes- Click here
Nail Art-click here
Homemade Photo Booth Fun- click here
Fake Bangs- click here
DIY Subway Art- click here
Furniture Painting and Bench/Chest Makeover- click here
Thanksgiving-y Project/Gratitude/Holiday Countdown- click here
The Smoothie-click here
The Free Printable Turned Artwork in a Boring Hallway- click here
The chalk board-click here
Seven Layer Dip in Individual Cups (my favorite so far!)-click here
The pumpkin address-click here
The Kitchen Dancing Sign--click here