Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The part about learning something about my camera was easily attainable. I watched the tutorial that Audra gave me for my birthday. I learned lots.
The second part of the goal wasn't that easy, and what made it even more challenging, was my desire to move beyond "point and click" and actually apply some settings. This resulted in much trial and error and a mini-breakdown which included thoughts like: "I'll never get it", "I'm not worthy to own this camera", and my personal favorite, "I'm just not smart enough to learn photography".
I spent the day looking for inspiration. The kids were a logical target, though unfortunately, they weren't in "photo-ready condition" (no showers, no coordinating outfits, no combed hair, no beachy backdrop, no bribes/threats).
The first photo on my "keep list" is of Amaya. This took some fancy footwork on my part because my room was dark and I don't have a very steady hand. I messed with the ISO, then the shutter speed, then tried holding my breath, but nothing worked - still blur. Then I opened the blinds. Ah ha! Got it! When I uploaded it into Picassa (yes, I'm still using it - head hung in shame), I decided to "desaturate" the colors because I thought the muted colors worked better with her expression.
The next keeper was this one of my pearls that I really love (thank you Seth - long story). I was trying to get a picture of the pearls without seeing all the crap on my dresser (behind the pearls). I wanted the background to be dark, but I had no idea how to get it that way. I still can't remember what the heck I did, but I do know that it took several attempts. This is SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) and it is not "black and white" ...and my dresser is cherry. The bottom line is that I had a vision in my mind of how I wanted the photograph to look and I was able to somehow capture the image that way. This is kind of a big deal for me because that usually doesn't happen.
This one is simple, fun and clean. I used the "sharpen" function and the "black and white" function in Picassa. I don't know what I like about it, it just makes me smile.
This one is probably more about having a good subject than having any skillz (like that slang action?). I snapped a bunch of headshots of Ariel on the back porch. I shot on Aperture priority (my favorite), lowered my F stop and let the camera decide the rest. The thing that I had to figure out was where to position myself and Ariel. I didn't do this very strategically, I basically took pictures of her from every imaginable angle in hopes that there would be one or two that didn't have her squinting or with a huge shadow across her face. It's so funny that once you figure out all the settings on your camera, you then have to figure out the sun/shade, gravity, E=MC2, the cure for cancer, and pie of infinity in order to get a good shot.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
For the past several months we've been trying to figure out a solution to having Amaya come into our bed. At first we pawned her off on her big sister (and pseudo mother) Amelle. They squeezed into Amelle's twin bed while Amaya's toddler bed remained pristine and untouched.
Amelle was a good sport about this arrangement for a few weeks and Dirt and I managed to get some real rest (without having a toddler laying horizontally across us forming a perfect Figure H). But soon this became old and Amelle protested (rightly so) for her own space again.
This is when I had my "ah ha moment". The trundle bed! I put up the trundle bed and pushed it close to Amelle's bed to make it like a King-sized bed. Then Amaya could still be next to her sister, but not "in her space".
It worked! ...so well that Avery even decided that he wanted "in" (see above). It's funny that the kids love to sleep together. I can't figure out why, since during daylight hours they can't seem to get along for more than 30 seconds at a time. Somehow though, when night falls, they become allies.
I have since ordered the girls new (matching) beds (two twins that convert to a bunk bed), as this current arrangement strikes me as being very "makeshift". Never mind the zillion mini-blankets and 47 webkinz that are in the mix as well. It's mayhem up in there.
If you know of anyone who is in need of a girls twin bed, let me know!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This morning she appeared before me with a small brown package which she proudly proclaimed, had been wrapped "minimalist" (ie: the brown paper bag stuff). I loved it even before I opened it.
I carefully pulled up the three pieces of scotch tape and peeled back the stiff brown paper. Before I could squeal with excitement, Audra began squealing and giggling about how wonderful a gift it was (which is something I adore about Audra - her contagious excitement). ...and she was right, it was perfect!
A DVD of my camera manual!
Hall--e--lu--jah, hallelujah, hallelujah! Hallelujah, hall---eee--lu---jah! ..and then the gates of Heaven opened up...
...and then I pulled out my camera (which I do not always bring to work) and she began snapping pictures of random things in my office (so she could hear the snapping sound of the Nikon, which apparently she loves), while I checked out my new DVD.
I loved having a real photographer messing with my camera. I think I actually heard the camera whisper to her, "Finally, someone who knows what they're doing". I was a little annoyed by that, I thought my camera would have some allegiance to me, but whatever.
This is a professional photograph of my desk and camera lens cover (and my pen..and my very important papers...and my iced coffee - blasted Dirt - you caught me!)
Monday, June 23, 2008
When they reached the waters edge Pilot held his arms triumphantly in the air and said, “Yeah, we made it!”. Casey giggled along as she set the tackle box down on the sandy shore and Rainbow ran into the water and splashed around. “Now it’s time to catch some fish!”, Pilot exclaimed.
Casey opened the tackle box and searched for her special lure. She looked through the top shelf of the tackle box, then the second shelf, and then the third shelf, “Where is the lure, Pilot?”, she called out.
“It should be in there” Pilot responded.
Casey checked each shelf of the box again. It would’ve been pretty easy to spot; it would’ve been the only thing in there that was pink and purple and glittery. “It’s not”, she said, looking disappointingly at Pilot.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Avery had a great birthday - shooting hoops in the backyard with a few friends/cousins, celebrating with some ice cream cake, and then the "icing on the cake", the Garnett jersey.
He described this weekend as one that was "full of fun and full of hurt". He took a couple of sports-related spills this weekend (back ache from a see-saw incident, shoulder pain after running into a grill while trying to catch a football, scraped elbow while diving for a basketball, and booty contusion while trying out his new rip stick in the rain). Boys.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I'm not away right now, I'm just sitting in my office wishing I were home with my kids. I'm in sort of a contemplative mood...I like these photos for different reasons.
I took this one on Saturday during Avery's last baseball game of the season. I like it because he was pitching. He wanted to pitch all season and worked hard, practicing in the back yard to get his skills up to par. I think there is some character in that, which makes me happy. He took it seriously and I think this photo captures that.
The other thing I like about this picture is that I had to go into the dug out and onto the sideline of the field to take it. I felt like a real photographer with a press pass, which was kind of fun. As I was snapping away, the Asst. Coach was like, "Oh, I bet that's gonna be a good one". Hee hee.
Okay, what's not to love about this one (except for the stinkin' shadow across Avery's face) Amateur! Fortunately, because I'm the mother, I barely notice the shadow because I'm too busy giggling at the expression on his face. There was some serious pumping going on here. I mean, this kid was pumping with his whole body...his whole life really. He was putting it all on the line here - he was pumping for the gold!
Then there is Amelle - floating through the ocean air with her toes curled just enough for her flip flops to stay in tact. The other reason I love this picture so much is because it was such a beautiful evening at Fort Foster (our spot). Plus, show me a picture of a kid swinging and I'll show you a picture I love. I seriously have hundreds of swinging pictures - something is wrong with me.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
About 30 minutes after they left I got a call from Avery. "Mom, I caught like 15 fish, I'm catching them 2 and 3 at a time!"
I think this was the biggest catch of the day, it wasn't a mackeral, I can't remember the specific "brand of fish", really..aren't they all just fish?
The girls were disgusted and wanted no parts of touching the fishing rods, or the fish, or their dad (who was scaley, slimey, and smelled like fish). Lot's of "ewwww"-ing going on.
Happy Father's Day!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Like many of my thoughts, I twittered something to the effect, "some day I hope to either send or receive a singing telegram". End of thought. End of tweet.
...or so I thought.
Today, on my 36th birthday, a florescent monkey-man with a highly effeminate voice and a very exuberant personality came into my home and sang "zipedee do da" and "happy birthday" to me and freaked me out, possibly forever. (Not to mention the hysteria of 6 kids screaming and running away from "it")
I'm really not one to have the spotlight in my direction, so you can imagine my humiliation when I was singled out by this crazy pink ape-man-thing. I now need to invest in one of those MIB memory-eraser pens so that I can carry on and live a normal life, free from the horrific memories.
Thanks KSeas...I owe you one. Oh, and you will get it...
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
A few minutes passed (it seemed like hours because every moment spent waiting for the Starbucks chic was a minute less we’d have to shop). We were already up against the clock because it was 9:00 and Target closed at 10:00. With only an hour to shop I began picturing us running through the isles tossing items into our carts like the people who win 1 minutes shopping sprees. Then the barista chic interrupted my daydream to inform us that Starbucks was closed. Blasted!
Wendy fell to the floor like Nancy Kerrigan and started crying “whhhhhhyyyy….whhhyyy?!”
I consoled her by saying that we’d stop by the “other” Starbucks on the way home.
An hour later, with target bags in the trunk and joy in our hearts, we headed to the "other" Starbucks, determined to get our iced teas. We confidently drove up to the Starbucks drive thru, Wendy lowered her window and stuck her head out, ready to place our order. She waited…and waited…and then finally, desperately called out a hopeful “Hellloooo”. But alas, her call was unreturned. No one answered. Lights out. Closed.
As we peeled out of the Starbucks parking lot in Wendy’s minivan, we saw redemption: The florescent glow of the golden arches with a bright sign beneath it that read, “Try Mickey D’s Sweat Tea $1”. It was like God had put it there just for us. Thank you, God. Thank you!
Without hesitation we pulled in and ordered two Sweet Teas (for two Sweeties..giggle giggle). We drove up to the window and the man handed Wendy two large paper kegs in exchange for $2. I helped Wendy hoist them into the car. The cup-holder nearly collapsed under the weight of the unusual tea-filled paper kegs. We opened our straws and pushed them through the top. The straws were about a millimeter longer than the paper kegs, which made sipping them a chore. We had to force our necks down over the lid of the paper keg and grab the tip of the straw with our teeth and try to suck the sweet nectar out of the keg that way. It was not an ergonomically correct sipping situation.
Then the sweet nectar rose up the straw and hit our mouths, our taste buds awakened and they danced with delight. “Holy Sweetness” I heard some of them cry out. “This ain’t no passion tea” others declared.
I looked at Wendy who was glassy eyed and glucose-intoxicated. “This is Chinese tea!” I proclaimed!
…and it was.
Clearly Mickey Ds has stolen their secret sweet tea formula from none other than the Chinese. If you haven’t tasted it yet, let me take you there:
You are 10 years old and your parents are taking you out for Chinese food because it’s a special occasion. An Asian female server in full concubine garb comes to your table and takes your order. Perhaps it was a pupu platter with a flame in the middle, or maybe just some chicken “fingers”. Whatever the case, she also brings over a small tin tea kettle and some tiny handle-less ceramic tea cups. Your mom warns you to “be careful” as you pour the hot tea into the cup. You sip the tea, it’s bland and you decide that some sugar is warranted. You open four packets at a time and pour them into the cup. You swirl the sugar around the tea with your spoon and notice that all the sugar has dissolved. Clearly you have not added enough. You proceed to open four more packets and repeat. Your ¼ cup of tea is now laced with 8 sugar packets. Just right. You smile and ball up the crumbled packets and then wipe any granules of spilled sugar down to the edge of the table and into your cup for good measure (no sense in wasting). You sip the tea…mmm…tastes like candy. You take a few sips in an effort to be sophisticated (after all, you are drinking tea), but then you can’t control yourself, you take a big gulp and it’s over…well almost over. The liquid is gone and all that remains is a slow-moving blob of sugar. As you hold the cup up to your mouth the sugar blob slides slowly in. You crunch it around your mouth and smile to yourself knowing that you’ve had dessert before your dinner and your mom doesn’t even know it.
That’s what drinking Mickey D’s sweet tea is like. The only thing different is that they’ve upgraded the technology so that you don’t get the sugar blob at the end. Not that you’d ever know it because there is no way that any human being could possibly get to the end of a Mickey D’s sweet tea. I’m sure it is impossible to drink that much liquid sugar and doing so would most likely put an average sized person into diabetic shock (which is why the Chinese always had small tea cups).
The sweet tea stayed in my refrigerator for 5 days before I gave up on it and poured the remaining tea down the sink. I was pleased to find a lemon slice at the bottom of it, who knew?
As a side note, the following day I had a strange craving for Chinese food and had no choice but to order some for dinner. This is a true story and all of the details are 100% accurate. (even the part about Wendy collapsing like Nancy Kerrigan)
Monday, June 09, 2008
Wendy and I were venting a few days ago about how everyone says that Barack is black when he's actually bi-racial. When I first heard of Barack Obama, I will admit that I thought he was black (based solely on his looks), and Muslim (based solely on his name). When I learned that he was actually bi-racial, I became excited about his candidacy because I thought it would be healthy for my bi-racial children to grow up under a bi-racial president. Sort of crushes the theory about being "disadvantaged", right? [steering clear of an Affirmative Action monologue right now]
Now everyone is stripping him of his bi-racial-ness and the whole reason for voting for him is gone! ...well, at least in my mind ...what? ..there are other more pressing issues?
I hope my children grow up knowing who they are: first, they're divine creations, children of God and colorless in His sight. Then they are bi-racial, children of their imperfect parents, one who is black and one who is white. That black/white parent thing makes them bi-racial, multi-cultural, mixed, Oreo cookies...no! Stop! ..and while we're on topic of what NOT to call them, they are not "mulattoes". "Mulatto" is the bi-racial equivalent of the "N word". So erase it from your vocabulary. Now. Go ahead, I'll wait...
Anyway, every now and then I remind my kids that they're half-white and then they grin and say "really?". They forget (like Obama? like the media? like the rest of the world?) ..or they just see themselves as others see them, like how I originally mistook Obama for a black man. If enough people see you as something, there's a chance that you might start seeing yourself that way too (look at all the egos in Hollywood).
In my reading on this topic, bi-racial children want to be able to recognize themselves as bi-racial. They don't want to be classified as one race, to do so is to deny half of their identity. Who wants to be forced to do that?
When I first became pregnant someone told me that my kids would be confused. I think that person was wrong. Every once and a while they need a reminder, but in general, they don't seem confused. They don't look in the mirror and scratch their heads. In fact, look that Amelle's illustration:
She's got it right, look at the "bodies" of our family members....Dirt is black, I'm a reddish orange (this was probably drawn after Florida - yes, it was...see how my roots are dark and then I have blonde streaks in my hair, I was in need of a touch up...) and the kids are a beautiful shade of delicious chocolate. The only thing "off" about this picture is Dirt's ears (in real life they're actually much larger).
Saturday, June 07, 2008
For those who haven't been on this ride, I'll fill you in a bit. This ride starts out innocently enough, you're on a "tour boat" going carelessly through lovely Jurassic Park. The majestic Jurassic Park theme music plays as you marvel at all the herbivores. Then something goes terribly wrong: the Raptors have escaped! Of course, we all know that Raptors are carnivores. Our tour guide panics and we wind up off course. Then we spot a huge T-Rex, which our little boat is headed straight towards! The T-Rex bends his head to eat us and before you can say "this really is all make-pretend", you make an unexpected decent (roller-coaster style) and are free, free, free at last! The ride down is a exhilarating and you immediately want to go on again.
Somewhere between the T-Rex bowing his head to eat you and your surprise decent into freedom, apparently a camera snaps. You don't realize this until you walk through the gift shop on the way out and see your photograph on a TV monitor. It looks something like this:
I do have to say that there is no shame in this type of terror, I mean, she's 7 ...and 7-year olds can be afraid of getting eaten by large carnivorous dinosaurs, particularly ones that the fine folks at Universal have made to look convincingly real.
However, that being said, what's this guy's excuse?
Friday, June 06, 2008
I'm thinking about trying this out with Dirt, perhaps putting a "honey do" list for him on the front of my underwear (take out trash, hang picture, paint trim, etc). It's a real attention grabber, don't ya think?
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
“The name of the Looooorrrrdd, is a strong toooowwweeerr, the Russians run in to it, and they are saved..”
There were two minor problems with this rendition. First, this line was the only one she knew, so she sang it over and over again. Probably close to 20 times (each time with emphasis on different words and building in intensity and passion). The second minor problem was that the lyrics were slightly off. According to the original version of the song (which is based on Proverbs 18:12), it’s not actually the “Russians” who are saved, it’s the “Righteous” (though I suppose they could be Russians, because God doesn’t really discriminate based on national origin).
Just to put this in pop-culture terms, Simon Cowell probably would've said something like, "That was absolutely the worst singing I have ever heard in my life. I am now officially tone deaf."
However, since I am the mother, I smiled to myself. I made a conscious decision not to correct her because I found this minor faux pas to be cute. Then I began thinking about other instances of non-correction for the sake of cuteness and I assessed that I am more about cute than I am about “correct”. Then I felt semi-proud of myself for this since I generally find myself on the perfectionist side of things.
Case in point: I let Amelle call bathingsuits “apple suits” (without correcting her) until she outgrew the habit (last year). This year I actually bought her a bathingsuit with apples on it in hopes that she would relapse.
This isn’t to say that I let other grammatical errors slide, I don’t, I just let her keep the cute ones. “Aint”, incorrect tenses, overuse of “um”, loud speaking…they all get nipped because they’re not cute. Not cute at all.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Sunday evenings are usually for "getting ready" for the upcoming week. Generally this includes making sure the laundry is folded and the kids' clothing is layed out for the next five days, going through backpacks, getting caught up on assignments, and looking at the previous week's schoolwork.
Tonight, not so much. We played.
The fishing thing sort of works for us as a family. I can sit and relax by the ocean, the kids can play in the sand, explore the rocks, search for crabs, collect shells, mess around in the tide, ride bikes, dig, play catch, etc...etc...etc... let's just say that there is enough to do to keep them busy, and Dirt, of course, can plop his poles into the ocean and hope for a nibble.
That thing in the distance is #1. He's "exploring the rocks". Our general rule for #1 and #2 is that they can do whatever they want as long as they are within sight. Our general rule for #3 is that she can do anything she wants as long as it doesn't cause crying or death.
Here's the diva, she was having a rock throwing contest with herself. She enjoyed this very much because every time she threw a rock into the ocean, she would look at Dirt and I and proclaim, "I won". I didn't want to split hairs, but technically it was really a tie, because I was winning as well (because she quiet and happy). Shhh..don't tell her.
Yes, if you must know, she was still in her pajamas. I never got around to dressing her today. That's terrible, isn't it?
This one dresses himself, which is probably the reason he's not in his pjs. He was skipping rocks with Dirt which seemed to be big fun for them. Amelle took a crack at it as well, but I don't think she inherited the skip rock gene, her rocks seems to "plop".
Dirt thinks I should "put the camera down and enjoy myself". I'll do that when he puts his fishing rods down and enjoys himself. :-)