Monday, June 30, 2014

Lost in the Little Things

Off I went seeking the little wild strawberry.  When the kids were here Lily and I couldn't go by a plant patch without trying our luck in getting some of these sweet little beauties.

So yesterday I went off alone and picked some for 'Grandpa' who said he missed out on them.

While looking for the little strawberries I kept coming across cool little fungi all over in the woods.
On my second trip out for the day, I went looking just for fungi.

With the rains we've been having, the woods are bursting with fungi, if you can get down into the forest floor to find them.

The last fungi above is often referred to as Coral Fungi. I don't know what the others were.

I was excited to find what I believe is 'Stinkhorn'.  It was broken, but still worth the shot.

It was the first day in a week that I'd had time to myself to go wandering in the woods.  
I do miss the grands, they were so much fun!

But I also miss the quiet time I get once in a while to wander about the forest and look for neat things.
When I got back, my husband said to me...'Geeze, I thought you got lost out there!'

I smiled and handed him the wild berries and all was well.

The end of the day was worth dodging raindrops for!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The End

The week in review.

Lots of friendships were made and tested.
The kids spent 7 days here and watched a movie for the total of 1 hr 26 minutes.  Other than that they did not watch or ask for TV.

They played all day outside.
They braided ropes/played hide n' go seek/built forts, and did old fashioned kid stuff, including playing catch and keep away.

Once their was tears and there was much laughter.

Our weather really co-operated and we had a pretty nice week.
The girls made friendship bracelets.

We have drawings and the girls wrote plays.  They even had us act out the play for them!

So we come to a rapid close as everyone goes home to some very kid-sick parents.
The grandparents are sad to see them go and yet looking forward to a few days of rest and recovery.

Even Morris is worn out from all the play with the kids.

He deserves a medal for his patience and his watchfulness.

I think Camp has come to an end.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Grandma Grandpa Camp? They forgot me, Morris.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to watch 3 bigger kids and a baby kind of kid that is just my size all at once?

I mean I love kids.  I like kids.

All that kid watching can wear an old fella out.
It is like watching a whole litter of kids ~~~  especially when you add the kidlits from the neighbor's place.

I'm the dirty diaper alert-er deluxe.
I can smell when the wee little one with the thing they call a NUK in its mouth does the smelly thing in her diaper.

I get all happy and try to stick my nose up her leg.

Grandma Val goes 'EWWWW and so do some of the other folks around here.'
I don't think EWWWW at all.

But then I guess they don't have refined noses like myself.

I've snuggled with the girl kids and most nights I spend in a nest I make next to the wee kidlit.  She can crawl pretty good for a pup.  Her eyes are open and sometimes she even growls at me.
I'm not sure what that is all about though.

My most important job so far has been to come into the kitchen after meals and after the wee one eats and clean up the floor.

I'm pretty sure it is an important job and I just don't see Grandma Val getting down there and licking up the spilled crumbs.

Well, I better go take a nap in my crate.
The wee one with the plug in its face keeps keeps trying to grab me.

I learned after one pinch that it is best to avoid her little hands.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

GG Camp Day 4

Morris has become the 'waker upper' for the kids.

The kids have started sleeping in.

I wonder why?
Oh, I know why!

They eat breakfast and are out the door hitting the yard running.

and running...
and hiking,
and taking walks.

There are new tastes to try.

Like sweet red clover.

And we play until after dark.

Elena is under constant supervision by Morris.

Today we are off for a picnic, fishing, and swimming.

I think the kids will be going to bed early tonight.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 3? Of Grandma & Grandpa Camp!

There aren't a lot of shots from yesterday as it started out horribly hot and humid.

After eating breakfast the three older kids went out and did what chores they could do.  
'Can we go out to play?'

Off they went to feed animals.
I was a bit stuck with Elena as she was very busy trying to move like lightening across the floor and hone up on her crawling skills.

She was following Morris and trying to open his crate and crawl into it.  She got angry because she hasn't figured out the door latch on it yet.

Grandpa had to go back to bed.

When the kids came in they told me that it was HOT out.

So we swapped places, the girls watched Elena play while I went out and finished up chores and watering all the stock tanks.

Then it was snack time and lunch time.

Tell me that Elena does not have the cute-ness factor of 10!  I dare you!

We decided to head out to town and I'd show them where I work.
We started out but then I realized that the clouds to the west were very dark and there were spotters on the ridges.

We turned around and came home.
The storm blew through and while it rained we watched Benji.

After the movie, it was brownie making time.

It was an awesome group effort.  
Everyone had a hand in making them.

Elena supervised from her 'high' chair and ate Honey Nut Cheerios.

The kids each night volunteer to help with dishes.  I was naughty.  I did do a slight bribe on this account.
Whoever volunteers gets an hour with the Kindle to play games.

But hey, I have no shortage of dish-washing help!  And the other grands clear the table and put things away.

Morris has been the 'bomb'.  He keeps tabs on the kids and especially Elena.
He pulled a blanket over to near her Pack n Play last night and made his bed so he could be next to her while she slept.

Last night the kids ran out after helping with cleaning up the 'Grandma Ooops' supper [I didn't have spaghetti sauce in my cupboard!  We had buttered noodles instead!]...they ran outside to do chores with Grandpa Rich.

He merely supervised while they tossed flakes of hay to the proper animals.

The girls wanted to get up early to see the sunrise.
It is nearly 7am and the whole house is still sound asleep except Morris and I.

Glow sticks?
Playing with the neighbor kids?

So many things to do.  

Tomorrow we are hoping to go to Jersey Valley for a picnic with the neighbors.  Grandpa and Lily want to have a fishing contest.

Just need to say this.

I have the most awesome-ist Grand kids ever.
I think Grandpa and Grandma will be crying when these wonders have to go home.  And not crying with happiness either.

These few days have enriched our lives and I must thank the parents for allowing their little wonders to come and stay on the farm.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

GG Camp Day 2

Day 2.
Wow already?

The kids slept in late.
I guess country air is good for them.

Even Elena slept in late.
[This morning it is past 6am and she is still zonked out.]

We all went to The Fort.  Which is a pile of rocks in one of the wooded pastures.

The kids loved climbing around on the rocks and looking at the moss.

Elena even got her first taste of clover buds.
At this age everything goes in the mouth and she tried out the sweet ends of red clover. 
She liked it!

Our morning walk turned into a rainy morning walk, but we all had a blast.  Elena absolutely loved the stroller that my neighbor lent us.
She cooed and kicked her feet the whole way, even when it was raining on her legs.

The rain passed and the afternoon got warm.  The kids changed into their swimsuits and played in the stock tank and baby pool.  

Elena sat on the large carpet and watched cheering them along when she wasn't banging on the ice cream bucket or charming Grandpa Rich.

Then there was supper and a meeting on doing a few things to help this ol' Gramma out.
The kids each volunteered to assist with washing dishes and clearing the table each night.

I wasn't too surprised as they have been going out in the morning to do chores on their own.  Ariel usually leads the way.

After evening chores Grandpa and Dennis played catch.  The girls went to visit the mares, donkeys, and mules in the Meadow and Elena slept.

Another beautiful day at Grandma & Grandpa Camp.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Grandma & Grandpa Camp Officially Has Begun

It is safe to say that the trip back was fairly uneventful and it looked like it was going to be rainy and foggy.

But the closer we got to home the nicer it got.

The sun came out and it became the perfect summer day.

We barely unloaded and slightly organized when the rest of the gang showed up.

There was a mad dash to put on some play clothes and head off with Morris in tow for adventure.

The kiddie pool was perfect for Elena.

Who decided that today was the day she would get UP and crawl!

Lily played in the mud with the other kids.

There were water fights, splashing, running, and more running.

Then Elena needed a nap.

All that activity!

Morris, the ever watchful and faithful Jack Russell, decided he would watch over her while she slept.

The kids all played until twilight.

Morris spent the night sleeping on the edge of the couch so he could watch Elena sleep in the Pack n Play.

He has soooo many kids to watch over right now.

He knows he is just plain happy.

The girls thought they'd stay up and yack in their room, but very quickly the lights were out and all was quiet.

It was one fine day.

The First Official Day of Grandpa & Grandma Camp!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

1 Day Left The Countdown Ends.

Bad weather abounds around the state but it looks like it will be ending by Friday.

I'll be on my way shortly to go pick up Elena and Lily.  The drive is a long one and I won't return until Friday...

Grandpa Rich is going to get Ariel and Dennis as soon as the weather looks good.

Then ....

Drum Roll....

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Creating an effect using Topaz.

The combined shot above was part of a hand held 3 exposure shot.  But you can use any sort of shot to get a painted or almost illustrated effect using any photo editing program and Topaz plug ins.

So here is the original which really doesn't look very much like anything I'd like to save.

Above is the final edited version.

My advice is if you are thinking of any Topaz products, use their 30 day free trial first.  I use Adjust, Simplify, Clean, and Topaz BW Effects 2, along with ReMask.

I'm not sure I need all of their products, but these ones suit me well and work with Elements, CS2, and Corel Paint Shop Pro.

I usually start out with making a duplicate layer of the original and then take that layer into Adjust 5.

I used the setting called Black Rose for this particular shot.  Then edited the sliders until I had what I wanted.

I decided a while ago that these particular settings were useful enough for certain kinds of nature shots.

So I used the 'save' button and labeled this for my own use.

Back into the editing program...
Next step was to take it to Simplify.

Now with Simplify there are a lot of options also.  I play with the slider until I get a slightly 'flatter' less detailed look but with 'enough' detail to make things look interesting.
You have to experiment with this.

You are editing here for the edges that will be produced in Clean.

I try to keep my layers seperate and labeled always duplicating what I just did.  This way I can change the opacity of one of more layers, or even erase something to bring out texture from the layer below.

Next I do something a bit different.  Clean seems to work best for this effect with photos that have 200 pixels per inch, not the normal 300.  So I change that and then take it into Clean.

When done with this step I study it for a bit and then resize back to the original size.
Sometimes this can be tricky, but worth the effort.

Here is a sample of what I did while photographing and writing one of the latest books I did about Morris and his toy adventures.
I used some very heavy handed editing to make the photo look as if it were an illustration.