Washi tape egg cartons: a DIY party craft by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

You guys, preparing for Bear’s first birthday bash was so much fun! I think because I sacrificed so much sleep when I was organising Jamie’s first birthday party and it all ended up being such a mad rush at the very end, I forced myself to be much more organised and disciplined this time round. Two weeks prior, I started gathering ideas. Ten days prior, I worked out exactly what I wanted to do. Nine days prior, I ordered everything online. And then in the week leading up to the big day, I blocked out every bit of spare time I had to work on all the different stuff: the party favours, the cake, the icing, the streamers backdrop, the crafting activity, the posters, the setup, the fairy bread, etc. You get the idea. It all paid off because when people started drifting in on the day, I was showered, I was dressed, I was calm, and I was not sweating. Yippee!

Washi tape egg cartons: a DIY party craft by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

When I stumbled up on these gorgeous egg cartons by Design Mom, I knew immediately I wanted to do something similar for the party craft, especially with the approach of Easter. Design Mom’s method was simply to paint the boxes. However, I didn’t necessarily want kids getting their nice party clothes dirty with paint, and I also didn’t want the bother of having to provide art smocks for everybody. When I sat down and thought about it for a while, it quickly dawned on me that kids could easily re-create the same decorative effect with washi tape! Seriously, washi tape is like the answer to most of life’s questions.

Washi tape egg cartons: a DIY party craft by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Anyway, after ordering about nine different rolls of washi tape from Notemaker, we put out the request at church for spare egg cartons and within a few days, I had a tall stack of them at home. First, I discarded all the cartons which had egg yolk in them (giving kids salmonella was not on my list of things to do) and then I peeled all the labels off. Then it was simply a matter of painting the tops of the egg cartons with white paint. (Initially, I was going to paint the bottoms as well but when I realised how time-consuming it was, I decided to just do the tops.) I ended up doing two coats on each carton to give them a nice, opaque coverage.

Washi tape egg cartons: a DIY party craft by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

After all the cartons were dry, it was then simply a matter of coming up with a few sample designs for the kids to copy if they wanted to do. I took inspiration from Design Mom’s designs, and also came up with the idea of creating a simple word like ‘HELLO’ using the tape. In case the kids got bored with the washi tape, I also had several small jars of Crayola so that they could draw on their cartons as well.

On the day, I stacked the cartons in a pyramid and popped my sample ones on top. It was really fun watching all the children get to work on the cartons as the party progressed. I’d placed the craft table in the centre of the hall so that there was enough space around the table for both parents and kids to work on the cartons together. This proved to be a pretty good idea. To my surprise, there was plenty of washi tape leftover after the party, which means I now have a gorgeous supply of them to enjoy to my heart’s content! In other words, everyone wins.

Have a lovely Easter weekend, everybody! (What are you guys up to?)

As of this moment…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

…I am sitting at a cafe. Drinking tea. And trying to write.

…I am listening to the rain and entranced by the soft, overcast light.

…I am exhausted from Bear’s first birthday and baptism on the weekend.

…I am glad that I opted not to blog last week, so that I could stay on top of all the party prep without losing sleep. However, this also means…

…I am struggling to write after an entire week of not writing.

…I am resisting the temptation to eat all the chocolate eggs in the house.

…I have several business ideas waiting to hatch (pun intended), and I’m looking forward to sharing them here later this week.

…I am caught up on all my Project Life albums. It’s a good feeling.

…I am loving my Zumba classes, especially when we dance to awesome songs like Happy and Dance.

…I am finally wearing layers. Goodbye humidity – hello gorgeous Autumn breeze! Though ironically…

…I am sick, having finally caught the cold that has been going around our family. Bleh.

…I am embarrassed by my inability to keep succulents alive.

…I am thrilled to be making bubble waffle soon. My cousin in Hong Kong is buying one for us, and I cannot wait. Can. Not. Wait.

…I am relieved that it’s the school holidays and that we can take our mornings as slowly as we want to.

…I can hardly wait to go through and organise all the kids’ artwork that has been collected in this last term. (Three boxes worth. From just one term. It’s almost unbelievable.)

…I am happy to have all the boys home with me.

…I am cherishing the sight of the boys playing together.

…I am in awe at the fact that Bear is one year old today. How can this be?

…I am thankful for our little boy. We are so blessed to have him.

…I am aware that my birthday is next, and after that, it will be Cameron’s again…

You can read other similar posts here.

Conversations, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Conversations, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Conversations, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

It is morning, and the boys are busy role playing.

Angus: “We need a new baby. Can you go to the baby shop and get a new baby?”

* * *

Wednesday evening. We are all eating dinner when Pete makes a casual observation.

Pete: “Daddy, you getting fat cause other day, you ate lots of pizza at Dee Why.”

* * *

Thursday morning. We are on the way to school.

The boys and I are talking about the time I parked in a No Parking spot.

Me (to Angus): “Next time, you’ll have to remind me it’s a No Parking area.”
Angus: “No, next time, you have to look out the windscreen.”

* * *

Saturday afternoon. I’ve just made Angus a bus out of a tissue box.

Angus: “You’re a very cool art person, mum.”

* * *

Tuesday morning. I have Angus and Jamie in the car with me.

Angus notes out loud that I am taking a different route to daddy.

Me: ” “Mummy and daddy do things differently.”
Angus: “That’s because you both think that you’re right.”

* * *

Thursday afternoon. Pete is home from preschool, and I’m getting him to help me de-clutter his preschool drawer. After ten minutes or more, we finally end up with a very small ‘chuck’ pile.

Pete: “I keep lots of things, not many things are rubbish.”

* * *

Saturday evening. Rick is teasing Jamie at dinnertime.

Rick: “Maybe you’re too little to eat ice cream.”
Jamie: “No, I can easily eat ice cream. Look at my teeth!”

Later that same evening…

Jamie: “I’m too tired to eat vegetables. Only chicken.”

* * *

Early Monday morning. The boys are role playing again. I ask them who they are.

Jamie: “I’m mummy, Angus is the baby, and Pete is a penguin going ‘jabber, jabber, jabber.’”

* * *

Monday evening. We’re all having dinner and Bear is dropping food like it’s his job.

Rick: “Edward, I just cleaned up the floor under you!”
Jamie: “Maybe you need to clean it again.”

* * *

Saturday afternoon. We’re driving up to church to set up for Sunday, and the boys are entertaining a discussion about cars.

Angus: “When I am a grown up, I will buy two cards. A Land Rover and a Mazda.”
Pete: “I want a Toyota and a Land Rover.”
Jamie: “I want a green car and a Land Rover.”

* * *

Randomly, one Tuesday evening:

Pete: “When I’m grown up, I want to be an Octanaut.”
Angus: “That might be a little bit tricky.”

You can read all our other conversations here.

Project Life, Week 8

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

How I love rainy Friday evenings. They make me nostalgic for the week that has been, and excited for the weekend ahead About forty minutes ago, we finished eating out roast chicken dinner, and the boys are now tucked up, all cosy and warm, into their beds. Rick has already cleaned the kitchen and the meals area, which means we now have an entire evening before us – free to do whatever we want. Sounds amazing, I know, but the reality is that Rick needs to keep working and I will be filing, budgeting and reconciling bank accounts. (Yay! Not.) I’m also hoping to draft up an action plan in preparation for Bear’s baptism and first birthday celebration in a week’s time. I’ve already snuck in a power nap, so hopefully it’s all full steam ahead for this cold Friday night. (If I don’t procrastinate, I get to eat a Ferrero Raffaello. That’s the deal.)

Anyway, ever since I broke through that wall, I’ve been able to re-establish a good rhythm with our Project Life album. I’ve even managed to catch up on two months of journaling and photos for each of the boy’s individual albums, so I’m feeling pretty happy about my memory-keeping efforts as of this moment. Definitely looking forward to taking it a bit more easily this month…

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

What happened in Week 8?
Pete’s fourth birthday! I baked a cake, and we had grandparents over for a celebratory afternoon tea. The day after that, it was the Lens & Layout workshop, so I guess you could said it was a pretty big week.

How were the photos taken and processed?
All photos were taken with my Fujifilm X100S and edited using VSCO Film in Aperture.

Favourite photos from Week 8?
Definitely the top two photos of Pete on the first page. It was Rick’s idea to cover him up with streamers, and I thought he looked so very cute. Gosh I love that boy.

Number of pages and inserts?
I had four 8Ă—10 inserts and one 8×8 insert.

Overall thoughts?
I love all the pops of colour against the white backgrounds. The spread looks very fun, and it’s one that always makes me smile when I’m flipping through the album.

Supplies used?
Becky Higgins Design A page protector; Kodak 210gsm glossy premium photo paper. All photos printed on the Canon MG6360 Pixma using genuine Canon ink.

Please leave a link to your latest Project Life post if you want! I would love a peek.

* * *

Other posts you might be interested in reading:
My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end
Tips on taking photos for Project Life
What you need to get started with Project Life

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

Self portraiture by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.comSelf portraiture by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.comSelf portraiture by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com

This last week, in anticipation of this post, I have been thinking a lot about the distinction between a ‘selfie’ and a self-portrait. In my research, I found a few interesting articles – this one and this one are especially worth a read. Essentially, I’ve concluded that while it’s possible to consider a ‘selfie’ to be a subset of self-portraits, the two are actually very different genres of photography.

A ‘selfie’ allows us to capture ourselves in an instant. It’s about convenience. It’s about photographing the moment. It’s about documenting where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re with, what we’re wearing, and what we’re eating (especially so if you’re Asian). A lot of the time, it’s often taken with the aim of sharing it immediately with our family and friends through our smartphones and social media. We like to take selfies because it’s easy and simple to do. I have countless ‘group selfies’ of myself and the boys at home, in a cafe, on the beach, in the car, etc. We are usually smiling or laughing in these photos, and the occasional funny face pops up here and there. Though these selfies may not be my best photographic work, they are precious to me because they allow me to document our life as it is. In particular, I love that these ‘group selfies’ document one facet of our relationship with each other.

In contrast, a self-portrait takes time and consideration. Often, technique is involved – artistic technique to do with use of camera, lighting, composition and anything else that’s required to take a decent photo. A self-portrait is not necessarily about the here and now. Instead, it’s a snapshot in time that says something about the bigger picture. While selfies are mostly congruent with laughing, happy or silly faces, this is not so with self-portraits. Instead, the latter allows us the opportunity to explore (and capture) something deeper about ourselves: our vulnerabilities and our emotions. For this reason alone, I think that there is real beauty in a self-portrait that can never be matched by a selfie.

When I wrote my previous post, there was a small part of me which felt reserved about the idea of self-portraiture. At first, I thought it was simply my reluctance to be in front of the camera. But eventually, I realised my hesitation was because I feared that self-portraiture would be somehow unauthentic (since it requires a shot to be set up properly). It’s only now that I’ve been able to grasp this: a self-portrait which captures me for who I am, along with my multitude of complexities, expressions and emotions, can be just as true and authentic as a candid shot taken on my iPhone in the spur of the moment.

* * *

I was immensely encouraged that so many of you are up for this as well. I considered coming up with a theme each month, inviting all of you to take self-portraits based on that theme and then linking up together. However, having given it some thought (and in light of what I’ve written above), I’ve decided that it wouldn’t make sense for me to turn this into a structured sort of photography challenge. What I’ve learnt so far is that the process needs to be a fluid one. It’s about picking up the camera and making the time to take your own self-portraits when it makes sense for you to do so. It’s about feeling a certain emotion, and being inspired to capture that on your camera. It’s about spying yourself in the mirror, and being driven to document something about yourself that day: whether it’s the colour in your cheeks, the circles under your eyes, or the natural tangle of your hair. It’s about seeing the light fall across the floor and deciding to take the time to photograph yourself in that light in that very moment.

But I will say this: I will share my self-portraits in the first week of every month and I would like to invite all of you to do the same (if you wish) by sharing a link to your shots in the comments section. You do not have to be a blogger to do this: you could could link to your Instagram photo or your Flickr photostream.

Having said that, I would like to encourage all of you to pick up your non-phone camera for this particular pursuit as I think an actual camera will enable you to explore greater depth and breadth. Plus, this is the perfect opportunity to get better at using our cameras.

Every month, I will continue to share my thoughts and reflections on self-portraiture with you. A lot of this will be lessons that I’m learning along the way. If there’s anything in particular you would like to discuss, just tell me below.

I hope that some of you will join me on this journey…

(You can see all the posts in this series here.)

These days…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

…I have been thriving in my studio. It’s amazing how productive I can be when there is zero clutter around, and when everything is in its place. Trish and I are starting to gear up for our third LIFE:CAPTURED workshop – our one and only this year. Bear is growing up faster than I can grasp hold of. Just last week, he started climbing the stairs (heart in mouth) and he can now say “Peekaboo!” in Cantonese. Every day, I am learning to accept the mother that I already am by letting go of that nagging guilt and my unrealistic expectations of myself (thank you to these beautiful ladies for the constant inspiration). Jamie has embraced preschool fearlessly and wholeheartedly, and we are immensely proud of him. Angus has started losing teeth (unbelievable), and I have been thinking of ways to help Pete with his speech. We are all looking forward to the school holidays so that we can take our mornings more slowly. Now that we are one month into Autumn, the days are getting shorter and the light is getting softer. Every other day, we spy a pink and purple sunset. Rick and I are making it a priority to be present with each other for at least one evening a week, and we are dreaming of growing our family once more…

You can see all the other posts in this series here.

(Linking up with Em.)

Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Last year, I decided to make some mini books filled with my favourite photos of each of the boys. As you all know, they each have their own Project Life album, but I wanted to also make something small that could be quickly and easily flipped through. There were also a handful of photos that I absolutely loved (all taken on my iPhone no less) and I wanted to showcase them in more of a book format, and in the end, I decided that this simple soft cover book by Artifact Uprising would be the way to go. I considered calling these books ‘Year in Review’ but in the end, I went with just ’2012 Favourites.’

Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Mini photo books by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I did a book each for Angus, Pete and Jamie. I chose approximately 80 photos for each of their books. They were all photos that I’d taken on my iPhone 4S. Most of them had been processed with the VSCO Cam app. I chose the 6×8 size, which was the same size as my maternity series story book. I figured that this would be small enough to put into the boys’ memory boxes if I wanted to do that at a later stage, and also small enough for the boys to easily carry around.

Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Mini photo books by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

In addition to the photos, I decided it would be really nice to include some of their most memorable quotes from that particular year. I figured that if I made something like this every year, we would end up with a pretty cool series of books. I tried to place each quote next to a photo that tied in with it somehow. For example, the very last spread you see at the bottom has a very sweet photo of Angus holding a bunch of lovely flowers he’d picked up from the road. On the opposite page is the quote: “Mummy, I will put Cameron’s photo here to make your office beautiful, okay?” So even though the photo and the words don’t directly correspond to each other, the common ‘theme’ of innocence and beauty that brings them together.

Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Mini story books (a collection of their sweetest photos & funniest quotes) by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Like with all my photo books and ‘story books’, I used Adobe InDesign to lay out each page, and then I exported each page as an image and uploaded these as full page images into Artifact Uprising’s online web editor. For the cover, I used Century Schoolbook to typeset the title and for the quotes, I used Rockwell Light.

The spreads I’ve shown here are all from Angus’ book. I’ll save Pete’s and Jamie’s for another post. As always, the quality of Artifact Uprising’s products is just lovely, and the boys seriously adore these mini books. I plan to keep doing this every year, and this could be a nice option for those of you who would like a simple and straightforward way of documenting a year of your child’s life.

You can see other similar ‘story books’ here.

Making Over My Life, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Making Over My Life, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Making Over My Life, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

How timely.

Tomorrow will be two months since my last post on making over my life – you know, the one about how I was breaking up with Facebook and Instagram?

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s close enough.

Today I thought I’d give you guys an update on how I’m going with being distracted versus being present, and friends, I’m pleased as punch to be able to tell you all that it is going well. Really well. (Cue my awkward-looking happy dance.)

Honestly, when I think about last year, it still kind of saddens me to think of how attached I was to my phone. I never let it out of my sight. I always knew exactly where it was. It was always buzzing. I was always checking it. I would only ever half-listen to my boys because I was too distracted with all the incoming notifications and messages from the online world. Even at dinnertime, I would often disappear from the room to check my phone. Quite frankly, I resented myself for being like that and yet I couldn’t seem to stop being like that.

That was until I made all the drastic changes and adopted all the steps that I outlined in my previous post. My, how they’ve made a difference! Such a difference.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t stumbled along the way, because there’s no doubt that I have. My ‘online cravings’ have been very real, and I’ve definitely given in to them from time to time.

But this side of two months – I’ve actually managed to rewire that bit of my brain. Which was my goal from the very start.

It was never about how often I checked Facebook or Instagram during the day – it was about rewiring my brain so that I would be better at being present with my family rather than checking in on the online world. It was about teaching myself that I didn’t need to be validated by incoming likes and comments.

Both of these things I think I have achieved – to my amazement and my delight.

I am much, much less connected to the online world and I care very little for my phone these days. Often I don’t even know where it is, and Rick has to actually ring it for me to track it down. As a result, I’ve been present with the boys. I’ve been present during dinnertimes. I’ve been present during reading times. I’ve been present during bathtimes. I’ve been present during bedtimes.

And it has been so, so good.

So good for my mental health, and so good for the family.

Plus, there’s been the added bonus of being able to focus better when I’m working. Honestly, without the constant desire to browse Facebook and without the constant need to check all incoming notifications, I have procrastinated less and focused more.

Talk about killing two (or three) birds with the one stone.

Obviously, the one big trade off has been that I’ve been much less connected with all of you here in the online world. I haven’t been visiting many of your blogs, and I haven’t been commenting much on your blog posts or your Instagram photos. I’m very conscious of this and I do feel sad about it, but I’m also confident that every single one of you understands why I’ve needed to makeover this area of my life.

In time, I hope to regain some sort of a ‘healthy’ balance.

For now, I am simply happy that I am a person who knows how to be present.

You can read about my entire makeover series here.

ps. For those of you who said you were going to give this a go, how are you finding it?

A moment with…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

…my soon-to-be three year old. The older two were still at school, and Bear hadn’t yet woken up from his nap. So the two of us, my Jamie and I, snuck into my studio and enjoyed a bit of one-on-one time. It was hot that afternoon, and the blinds were pulled almost close. When he saw that I was taking photos on my camera, he ran quietly back to his room and returned with his own camera – a red plastic block. “Say cheese!” he told me, as he hid his face behind the block and went “Click, click.” (Which is somewhat amusing, considering I never tell them to say “Cheese.”)

These portraits of our Jamie are particularly meaningful, as he is starting preschool next week. My darling baby, going out into the world. My heart aches at the thought, and yet, I am so proud of him – of the tremendous little boy that he’s become. He’s witty, he’s cheeky, he’s perceptive, he’s understanding, he’s affectionate, he is always telling us that he loves us, and he is wise beyond his years.

Just yesterday, I was telling him how much I would miss him when he’s at preschool.

His response?

“It’s okay mummy. I’ll come back. You don’t have to miss me.”

Twilight, lately

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

The other evening after the boys were in bed, I snuck into our room, lay on our bed and watched the last light fade from our bedroom window. Rick joined me soon after, and together we lay there quietly till the dark completely enveloped us…

(And then we got up and worked.)

I hope you can all find a moment of stillness this coming weekend. Happy Friday!

p.s. Are you doing anything special?

(Linking up with Em.)