Thursday, December 31, 2015

Black and White Ballerina

I have absolutely no idea what makes a good black and white photo.  None at all.  But I decided to practice today (in addition to trying to figure out how to take decently exposed indoor photos with only the windows for light).  I've got a long way to go.  But Eden loves to twirl, so both of us had fun.

One day (at the coincidence of time and money), I want to take a few classes.  For now, practice and internet tutorials will have to suffice. Eden would also like to take a ballet class someday.  For now, a ballet inspired dress from Nona and some silly twirling will do.  Life is grand!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Note to Self: Your Kids are Cute

Yesterday, whilst I rested on the couch for a moment after having cleaned two bathrooms and put away multiple loads of laundry, my adorable boy flooded his bathroom by plugging the sink and turning the faucet on full.  He didn't even have the grace to look sorry.  

I didn't kill him because: prison.  

And also because he's cute.  Why is it that cute gets me every time?  I need to train myself to look past it.  To see the damage, not the darling.  Perhaps by my granny days I'll get there.  Parenthood is conditioning me against cute, if anything ever could.  

A Year of Books

I think it's been that long since my last book post, but fear not: I've been reading!  Here are some of the books that I read in 2015.

Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson
This one is fantasy, which is not my normal love, but I did appreciate that it isn't a forever long series, or even a trilogy.  Just a book.  Kris loved it. It's loosely about political and theological unrest and people trying to survive in a city of the damned.

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova
This was an interesting read, and (typical) better than the movie.  I did end up feeling like too many of the characters and plot developments only existed to showcase the various impacts of Alzheimer's, but I guess that was kind of the point.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman
My book club read this and I now think that it should be required reading for everyone before getting married, while married, and before divorcing.  In fact, it's just plain good advice for relating with other people.  Also, pat on the back of my husband, being married is awesome!

Einstein's Cosmos, by Michio Kaku
More than a biography of Einstein, this is a biography of how his ideas developed.  Very interesting. Very beyond my pea brain.  Good thing it quotes a few different scientists as saying that no one really understands relativity :)

An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Alameddine
This is pretty dark, with a deliberately unlikable protagonist...and yet it's an interesting read. The novel follows the life of a woman in Lebanon who makes a life on her own, immersed in translating translations of books.

The Empathy Exams, by Leslie Jamison
This collection of essays revolves around the idea of empathy and how it works or doesn't or should in various areas of life.  My favorite essay in the collection is about a super quirky and ridiculously hard ultra-marathon.  I did sometimes get pretty annoyed by the author's attempts to relate her own privileged pain to some pretty serious tragedies in the "real world." In fact, I didn't like that she never moved beyond empathy as a function of pain.  But all in all, the essays made me think about empathy, Jamison has some gorgeous writing, and the book was definitely worth a read.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards
I'm still not finished with this one, because it's a drawing textbook.  It's been really fun to do some of the exercises though.  Edward's philosophy is that anyone can learn to draw reasonably well with a little instruction and some practice.  Jury is still out on me :)

The Crucible of Doubt, by Terryl Givens and Fiona Givens
This is an LDS work that deals with the role of doubt in the journey of any person of faith, including how doubt helps us develop spiritually.  This is a scholarly book, dealing heavily in theological theory and complete with boatloads of references.  I really enjoyed it.

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, by David Rakoff
This is a novel written in rhymed verse, from multiple character perspectives.  I really enjoyed the creativity of its construction. In total, it takes a rather dim view of love, but is somehow still fairly light and airy.  I thought it was interesting how each person's section seemed to focus more on other people.  There's a point being made there.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini
I'm late to the party, but this is a great book on several different levels. It's entertaining.  It's a super interesting portrait of modern era Iran.  It has appealing characters.  Very sad.  Very worth it.

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
This gilded age tale of high society New York and thwarted passions is surprisingly good. I mean it did win the Pulitzer Prize and all, but I still didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.  If you're out for a classic, you might consider picking this one up.

I've read several other books this year, but these are the titles most worth mentioning.  So I'm a nerd, but I LOVE reading.  Good fer yer brain :)    

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hey, Christmas Jude!

For an early Christmas, we cashed in some credit card rewards on a nifty fifty lens.  We've loved our macro lens for shooting the kids, but it is basically useless inside.  We've definitely still got a lot to learn about metering and shooting with inside lights, but I think these are pretty fun.

Kris took this one.  Handsome man takes great pictures of his handsome boy!

We are definitely in the Christmas spirit now!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

For You, Grandma

After a spring flood that saw us mucking out people's destroyed homes, we've had a dry fall.  But not today.  Today, we're singing in the rain!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Like Catching Moonbeams

Today Jude dragged me outside at 6:30 am to see the moon.  We couldn't find it.  I told Jude that the moon had gone to sleep for the day.  His response? "Maybe the moon have jammies!  Jude have jammies!"  This boy is talented at making me laugh.  

He is not, however, a talented model.  Two things Jude simply does not do: hold still and smile on command.  Tough to be a mama bent on photography.  But, oh! how I want to kiss those cheeks. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Glamour Shots by Deb

Remember how I'm always going to learn to take great pictures?  It's a fixation that has hit me every now and then...for the last 15 years.  You guys, this time I think I may be on to something.  With Eden as my model, here it is.

They may not be the best pictures ever, but I think they are MY best pictures ever.  If they aren't, don't tell me. I have to believe that I'm progressing by degrees somewhere :) Also, Eden is currently obsessed with The Sibley Guide to Birds.  We finally identified the pests at Target as Common Grackles.  If they aren't, don't tell Eden.  She has to believe that her mother knows something. That is all.  Carry on.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I recently read an article about how having children has a greater negative impact on overall happiness than does the death of a spouse. This makes me think two things: 1) That's because no one else got to marry Kris Bell, and 2) This can only be true during the horror that is the first year of parenthood.  Right?  Chronically sleep deprived people are not happy people. 

I can honestly say that I have never been happier than I am right now. 

On Monday, Eden had her first ever gymnastics class.  She grinned the entire time and consistently needed a reminder to wait her turn.  She was just so excited. 

Me?  I grinned the whole time too. I could not take my slightly watery eyes off of this amazing little creature and her donkey kicks.  How is it that no one ever told me that the greatest happiness in life is in watching your children do something they love?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Four Years

A few days ago, Kris was applying deodorant and Eden asked him what that stuff growing under his arms was.  So he explained about armpit hair.  Eden thought it over for moment and then responded, "Yeah?  I got something: Boobs!" Bangarang.

So that's Eden at 4.  Mostly sweet, often hilarious, and fairly confident that whatever she has is just as good as whatever you have.  (As a side note, I don't go around pulling down my shirt and announcing my goods...wherever she learned that, it wasn't me!) She's still a totally social creature; often her first response to getting or finding something good is to ask me if she can give some to her friends.  She still LOVES babies and is definitely Jude's second mama. Wild Kratts is her favorite TV show and she adores having long stories read to her.  Most of Eden's play is very imaginative these days, but she also loves to ride her bike and do gymnastics moves. And any day is a good day for a dance party.  

We did a homeschool preschool co-op this year, which saw Eden survive the burn and burnout of her first crush (fun while it lasted, Harrison, now give me that toy!), first brush with a mean girl (who told her she wasn't pretty), and first graduation.  She had a lot of fun with that, but will still tell me regularly that she doesn't want to go to kindergarten.  Good thing we've got one more year :)

I can't believe I've been a mama for four years.  It's been more wonderful than I ever imagined.  It is, in fact, my greatest adventure.  Lead on! 

Two Years of Benevolentish Tyranny

At two, Jude is a riot.  He's stubborn, opinionated, often irrational, fiercely independent, totally whiny, seriously clingy, entirely imperious.  So, yeah.  He's two.  The amazing part is that I love this little monster so much.  He gives the widest, sweetest smiles when he does the naughtiest things, and loves nothing more than to tease me.  He often chases me around shouting, "Pinchy bum!" and attempting to follow through.  He giggles like a maniac when he wrestles with Eden.  He shrieks with joy when Daddy comes home.  We're all putty in those small, Machiavellian hands.

After refusing to make much noise during the first year of his life, Jude's turning out to be a little smarty pants. He loves to be read to and usually repeats everything I say when we're reading.  He's already learned several letters of the alphabet and can often be heard "counting" things in imitation of Eden, reciting the numbers in order.  He's very observant and seems to pick things up pretty quickly. He loves to tell stories too, though his best efforts there involve shouting a few key words over and over again until we fill in the gaps for him.  Ask him to tell you the one about elk sometime; it's a real scream.

Jude is definitely an introvert and a mama's boy, but it's really fun to see him play with other kids once he's warmed up.  He's also a total daredevil, as long as he's in charge of the daring (e.g. he will hate it if you swing him around or drop him on the couch, but he has no problem climbing the tallest thing at the playground and jumping off of it).  He loves swimming, swinging, and Flinstoning it on a bike. 

We love this zany little dude and look forward to the third year of his reign :)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Birthday Bash

If you've been to one birthday party at my house, you've been to them all: backyard, water toys, friends, food, the end. Hallelujah for early summer birthdays! Nothing cute and fancy and super planned going on here.  Why?  Simplicity has worked so far, so I'm riding that train until her wheels fall off.  

This year, however, Eden was old enough to really know that her birthday was coming.  She had some very particular requests that shaped the party. She wanted water balloons to play with, a certain guest list, Barbies as gifts (oh, how I hoped she'd forget about that one!), and candy to give to her friends.  For months in advance, Eden fantasized about having a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, sprinkles, and a strawberry on top.  She did not eat the strawberry.

Jude got vanilla cupcakes for his offering, because 1) he doesn't care, 2) I love them, and 3) they don't stain things.

Jude fared alright with the cupcakes, but did not care for the party in general.  He spent the first two hours refusing to depart from his dad's lap.  Little introvert.  At least he had fun for the last few minutes :) Wait for it...

Yep, there it is!  He warmed up during the present opening and then enjoyed the last few minutes.

I've come to realize that you can either be the caterer and photographer, OR you can be the mama and enjoy the moment.  Hence, these are the only decent pictures I got. Dinner was a Mexican chopped salad, quesadillas, fresh fruit, and blueberry lemonade. There was a bounce castle.  And water balloons.  Eden chased around with all of her pals. We sang and blew out candles, etc. et al.  

Mostly we were just thrilled to have so many wonderful friends attend and celebrate our incredible TWO-year-old and his amazing FOUR-year-old sister.  I can't believe they're getting so big!