Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Lens to Me!

Rather than launch into a recital of the last week's events -- what with the in-laws, the cooking and the general insanity of having 11 people in my home only, oh say, 2 of which I'm terribly familiar with -- I thought I'd share my new Birthday lens with you! 
All of these pics are SOOC and are my first experiments with my 50mm 1.4G lens . . . fun, fun, fun! I tinkered and fiddled and even took the lens on our annual trip to the Zoo Lights. 
I have to admit that I thought it'd be a breeze to slip the new lens on and start snapping lovely indoor/low light shots. But I discovered there's a learning curve to finding the correct focus and accounting for the shallow DOF. Working on it . . . and then there's the art of being more discerning in selecting which lens to use for a given image. 
I enjoy setting a lovely table for holiday dinners. Why we wait for an occasion to pull out our pretty china and flatware, I don't know. It's a waste, really. I know its not time for resolutions just yet but I'd like to resolve to celebrate more often with friends and family. Perhaps a few new holidays will have to be established. Hmm. Going to have to give that some thought. 
I will regal you all with stories and photos from Thanksgiving. For now, suffice it to say that it went well, there's much to be thankful for and once the vege-turkey found its way into the fridge, we pulled out the Christmas decorations. In fact, as I type, the kiddos are watching a Disney Christmas sing-along DVD. Such happy music! Cheers. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Family portraits, sort of

Yesterday after church and before lunch -- why is it that parents seem to feel that this sliver of time when everybody is hungry and can smell food in the other room is ideal for family pictures? Maybe it's just my family! This was especially true of holidays. It never failed that while in route home from church, my mother would announce that we were not to change when we got home because she wanted to get a few pictures. It's finally happened. I've turned into my mother though I think I earn bonus points for allowing them to change into jeans first! 
You may be wondering why I threw the kids on the bed to take pictures. Light, dear folks, light. There hasn't been much of it around these days what with the clouds and rain. We were having a brief reprieve so I threw open our bedroom blinds and pulled back the duvet for a brighter back/foreground. Plus, I got to play with my remote shutter release for the first time. How fun is that! My plan is to keep experimenting until a photo turns out worthy of Christmas cards. 
Oh, these sweet children with their beautiful eyes.  So a word on indoor photography. Just one really. HELP! This is a whole new learning challenge for me. The lighting, slow shutter speeds, changing the ISO and resultant noise. I think its time for another photography class. Perhaps I'll put it on my Christmas list:) 
Today represents the single day of respite before the full-court press that is the holiday season. We're tackling all manner of household chores in hopes that come Wednesday, it still looks decent around here. We'll finally get to move the kitchen table back into the house. Pictures to come . . . 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just words

It's been a long, long time since I typed an entry sans photographs. And it's been a long, long time since I've allowed myself to really settle in, pull out some of those well-steeped thoughts and spread them out in the open to air. There's some concern that if I try, I'll discover that I just thought I had something to say or that what I say isn't what I want to hear.

It's been a busy morning . . . attempted to "sleep in" all the way to 6:30am before getting up and swapping parenting duties with hubby so he could go to work. Then commenced kid-wrangling, drop off of the big boy and then home again to plop Sis in front of the TV and pound out some notes for work. Lovely. Can't quite count the number of Fridays in recent history with a similar pattern. After Sis had watched her show and I'd made it, oh, 75% of the way through work stuff, we ducked out into the rain and raked leaves. She believes she is being helpful when she "stomps" on the piles of leaves I'm attempting to move into the street . . . little turkey. Back in doors to fix lunch and clean the kitchen while she ate. I mean really clean.  Another artifact of weeks and weeks of intense work, not enough time to catch up and NO desire to get my house spic and span. 

And now I sit, hardly believing my luck that she is napping. My kitchen looks great and as long as I don't look at my feet and the mess that is my floor, I'm feeling pretty good. But I've got the blahs. The momentum is gone. I know I could fold laundry or buff our newly finished table or just about anything productive. But I don't want to. And I don't want to do anything else either. 

I'm a little paralyzed by the thought that the in-laws and assorted other relatives are descending on our house next week. We'll have 6 additional adults and another kidlet in our house . . . I need rest. I really need to recharge. I have no idea how to do that under the best of circumstances let alone while hosting Thanksgiving weekend for my husband's family. Oy. There's the cleaning, the prep for large meals, the laundry, the not being the master of your own destiny cause you have to sort through the polite deferring to figure out what the heck people want and what they'd like to do! 

As I reread my words, my therapist brain is chastising my pathetic self. I mean really. Get. It. Together. Just a few days ago I was optimistically thinking it would be a great Thanksgiving. Sure, I'd be overwhelmed but I'd find some way each day to do something I needed to relax. Hubby and I would check in with each other frequently and make sure that our own little family's traditions made their way to the forefront of the festivities. I blame work and the need to get some space and perspective. The pace has been so intense for so long -- the stories so gut wrenching that I need to decompress. Rushing from work into the domestic chaos that is raising small children doesn't allow room for this. A friend and I were discussing our different parenting approaches recently -- it is an acknowledged fact that I error on the side of being too careful, too watchful and too much of various other things as well. Hello, my name is Heather, and when it comes to my children, I'm a control freak. Perhaps I think that if I can create order and calm in my home and in my children's behavior, I will be able to manage the hurt and trauma of participating in my clients' stories.  

As I suspected, I'm feeling a little self-conscience having dumped the contents of my head onto the virtual page. But I feel so much better! Purged. Ah . . . now to wake the little one and get the big one and keep on moving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kids' Play

Self-explanatory, really. Kids. Leaves. Lots of fun rolling in and throwing the leaves. Unfortunately, the sun had disappeared behind thick clouds just after we arrived and so the photos were dark and a bit on the slow side . . . 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Morning Frost

We woke to frost yesterday morning. My first honest-to-god thought was that I should bundle up and go on a walk with my camera. What has happened to me?! My second thought and the one that temporarily won out was that a cup of coffee and a little computer time sounded cozy . . . and then I wandered in the backyard, dragging the hem of my pajama bottoms in the damp grass, snapping a few pictures. The first is of the bowed head of one of the sunflowers. Not much to look at now except for the beautiful crown of crystalized frost. 
This leaf was suspended by the remains of the spectacular web I photographed several days ago. I did check to ensure the resident spider was not home before leaning into the maple tree to take the picture! 
We have our canoe tucked up against the side fence in the backyard -- along with a couple of stunning maple trees. I love the contrast in colors. 
It's hard to believe that we are closing in on Thanksgiving. In fact, as I type this, my son is asking how many more weeks we have until Christmas! Yikes. I'm feeling very proud of my endeavors in the craft department and am nearly done with the photo gifts . . . except for a rather large project hubby and I are taking on for his family. We are taking boxes of old family slides and putting them on CD's, etc. It'll be great when (if?) it gets done! I'm pondering other home-made gifts for the kidlets in my life. More to come on that -- perhaps. I may sell out and join the masses for Black Friday. It'd be the first time ever. Any survival advice?
And then, there's the table and chairs we are still in the midst of refinishing. Today's goal is to finish the sanding and then consult about what our staining choices are. I had really hoped that we'd have it done for Thanksgiving but that is beginning to seem unrealistic. Certainly doesn't help that I'm typing away rather than making my way to the garage, sandpaper in hand. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

A little Somethin' Somethin'

Here's what I've been working and stewing on for the last week or so. Not much to look at in the photos -- I had a sweet little model that was stubborn about holding still so I gave in and used my less than photogenic counter top and fluorescent lighting ;) The first pic is of old family photos that I've doctored up a bit and turned into magnets using bottle caps. The below also feature bottle caps -- there's a theme, you'll note. 
The pictures are from Christmas scrapbook papers and then there's the glitter and bling (um, beads) to complete the star ornaments. I'm tickled as can be with the finished effect. Of course, they aren't quite done. I need to trim the wires at the ends and attach ribbons . . . and find nifty boxes to gift them in. 
So watch ya think? I may not really want to know . . . You can lie. Its allowed in such situations. Preferred, really. You'd hate to squash my inner artist. 

My reluctant model is reluctantly laying, but not sleeping, in her bed. And its time to pick up the big boy. Where has the day gone? 

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I've been dappling with the idea of Scrabble tiles for awhile. Yesterday was probably not the day to suddenly give in to my "inspiration." I've got a cold. Poor, pathetic me. My children were having a hard time maintaining an even keel AND I thought we should all tromp down to the park and try to capture a few pictures before the light disappeared. I crouched in the damp leaves while my offspring ran around swinging branches and hollering. My attention was divided, to say the least! But ultimately, I like idea and want to give it another go. Combining images seen in the mind's eye with words that describe some aspect of my response to them. 
I do love the fall  leaves and am saddened that so many trees are waving bare arms in the chilly wind. While they still last, I will rove with my camera and try to capture what I can to hold me through the long winter. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Arachnids, again?

I should have my head examined. Despite my irrational fear of all things 8-legged, I can't seem to help myself when I see these delicate, inspiring webs. You would not believe how close I made myself get to capture this lethal (yes, I know he's actually harmless and fills an essential role in the ecosystem, etc.) thing. My family certainly couldn't! Interestingly enough, after our little photo shoot together, I think we were almost friends. Acquaintances, perhaps? I noticed when he disappeared from his web later in the day. After the lovely little droplets had all dried in the Autumn sun. And then felt something resembling relief, when he reappeared. See what I mean. I need my head examined!
I'm a little ashamed of myself. My daughter is picking up on my fearfulness and claimed in the midst of her maneuvers to avoid bedtime, that she was having nightmares about spiders. She's three, ladies and gentlemen. She's still wavering. She could develop a profound love for arachnids. Who knows. But not if her mother continues vacillating between shrieking and cooing in delight when she runs into the monster bugs!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WYP #70 -- Fall Leaves

Been awhile since I've played with one of Laura's pics -- but how could I resist my favorite theme, fall leaves and colors! So let's see, what did I do? Fiddled with hue/saturation as well as contrast and brightness. Added an old photo texture and vignette . . . cropped. Think that's about it. Fun! I'm thinking that on this spectacular day off, I should go get me some new pics to play with:) 


It might be that the title is wishful thinking . . . that I'll be able to wrestle up some thoughtful thoughts:) 

Today I am not working AND, and this is what makes it all so exciting, my kids are still going to school! I have the whole day (well, until 3:15 when there's a parent teacher conference for Big D) to myself. How did this miracle occur? Let me tell you while more thoughtful thoughts are percolating. I usually work Tuesday through Thursday but this week, I attended a two-day conference. A fabulous, exciting training on Collaborative Problem Solving -- a philosophy for better understanding and helping children with behavior problems. I've been practicing CPS for two years and this was an opportunity to get more advanced training, answer questions that have stemmed from my work with clients and families and get my creative juices flowing on new ways to support them going forward. In fact, part of my day at home will be work but its hard to make preparing for the first CPS parent support group as work! 

What else will I do with my day? Crafting! Can't wait to really make a dent on my photo Christmas projects. They're coming out rather nicely. I need to brainstorm some ways to create ornaments out of the finished bottle caps which will necessitate a trip to the craft story -- again. Not exactly painful:) I'm also hoping to meet the new baby of a dear friend who will be 2 weeks old on Friday. I've had to delay a visit due to Big D's flu bug and now I've got a scratchy throat. Damn! We'll see how the new mama feels about a possibly viral-laden visitor . . . 

Looks like that may be what I've got for "reflections" today:) Enjoy the beautiful fall weather. A colleague and I had to make a 2-hour drive to and from the training but it was well worth it for the companionship and the beautiful sun and moon rises. I'm hoping to sneak out this evening and capture that gorgeous orb before it begins to wain. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009


After a week of illness and the like, Halloween snuck up on our family . . . Little Sis had a costume, had one for several weeks in fact. And lest you think this is a sign of favoritism, it was simply her dance leotard plus a borrowed pair of wings and her rain boots. Nothing fancy, folks. Certainly nothing I'd go out and buy! But Big D had been neglected. We don't go in for all the supernatural dark stuff of Halloween -- so no vampires, witches, ghosts or ghouls. Ends up being kinda limiting, really. As you can see, we opted for a brown paper bag, some pipe cleaners, construction paper and tape. Do I totally suck? I think its kinda cute. 
Clearly the more energetic of my children was the one in the pink number. She raced back and forth across our porch, demonstrated some "dance" moves from ballet. I've never taken ballet but I'm thinking her moves are uniquely her own:) 

Lots of jumping, leaping and hip waggling. I'm not sure how we'd classify her costume -- part super hero, part fairy and part hip hop ballet dancer. The rain boots just kill me. 
We hit a hand full of houses before retiring home to mind our own front door. Kids were over the moon with excitement -- the candy, oh my. I really appreciated that some of our neighbors gave stickers and crayons rather than the traditional sugar high. Nice thinking! There were two families that attempted to make an Avon or Party Lite connection by passing out catalogues. Um, interesting. 
All in all, a nice evening. Nice to see entire families in the streets, laughing, talking and getting to know each other. I may not be keen on the general themes of Halloween but I love the sense of community that it can engender. Its a shame we don't have more rituals that bring families into the streets with their neighbors. 

Today is scheduled for chores, Christmas craftiness and house projects. In fact, need to drag myself away from the computer and get cracking!