Friday, October 30, 2009


When my parents were here last weekend, my dad and I snuck across the street to the location of a burnt out road house. The goal was to help my dad get better acquainted with his camera and to get some pics of the overgrown and neglected apple orchards. 
Clearly what I've got here is the same picture done up three different ways. I am such an editing baby! I swear. If I was exceptionally bright, I'd take notes so that I don't have to relearn it each and every time. 
It's been a long week, folks. Big D is still recouping from the nasty flu. Took him to the store with me today -- a brief trip. Promise. He had all the signs of recovery. Absence of fever, running around like a crazy monkey and generally seeming a little stir crazy. We weren't in the store 10 minutes and suddenly he said he felt "really sick" and he look decidedly grey. Uh-oh. Did a mad scramble for appropriate vomit-catching material but he was right as rain within a few minutes. Took him home and he ate a large lunch and then was too wound up to nap . . . I, on the other hand, could have slept for HOURS. 

To be on the safe side, we took him to the pediatrician's office for a looksie. This, ladies and gentlemen, is sheer hell with a side hand sanitizer! I think that I begged a dozen times easy for the two of them to "don't touch that" and "sit still" and "please don't touch your face!" I literally brought my own handy wipes and still made the kids use the hand gel at the counter TWICE.  We're likely to bring something gnarly home with us, as a souvenir of the 2 hours spent wrangling crazed children in a confined space. 

I swear, my kids have an uncanny ability of pulling it all together when they arrive at the Dr. office. They may have been dragging puny backsides around the house on the verge of death itself and then suddenly, they are healed! I feel like such a liar telling the doctor that my dear son nearly passed out when he is jumping around in such an adorable fashion. 

What are your family's Halloween plans? We plan on getting the kids into their costumes (that's if we can pull something together at the VERY last minute) and taking pictures. Also plan on spending as much time in PJ's as possible. Started a couple hours ago and am going strong . . . 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fancy Smancy Editing?

Learning some new stuff about layers and blurring and stuff . . . so first photo is the fancy smancy edit, using blue, eraser and opacity to smooth out skin tone, etc. I'm not sure if its such an improvement, really. Below is the "before" photo with edits only related to brightness and contrast. What ya think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Caught in Flight

My dad and I stalked this beautiful Blue Heron this weekend . . . we saw the hapless fellow enjoying himself beside the pond and gradually snuck up on him, snapping pictures along the way. And of course, he took off, seeking some solitude on the other side of the water. We were not to be deterred. Little Sis and Nana trooped around the pong and startled the frustrated bird into flight, again. 
I'd love to be able to take crisp action shots of wildlife but I find it extremely challenging. These two are the best of the lot and I still used PSE to blur the background and make the bird himself pop out. Don't look too close or you'll see that my selection skills need fine tuning! 

Today is the start of another work week. Big D has is still down with the flu and hubby is staying with him so I can go to work . . . which I wish I was feeling more energetic about. I feel out of sync. Like I'm out of step with the expectations and demands of the systems I work within. Ah, well. This too shall pass. It usually does. Perhaps growing pains. Perhaps indication that a shift is needed -- what exactly, I'm not sure. 

Cross your fingers for us that the rest of the family can avoid the piggy bug!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Fairy

My parents were visiting this weekend and I was all geared up to do some family portraits -- even bought a remote for my camera! And then my little guy came down with the dreaded swine flu. Poor kid. Spent his weekend feeling lousy and missing out on the fun. He's still feverish but looks like he's on the upswing. Crossing fingers . . . 
So Saturday, I took my parents and Little Sis on a fall walk. The weather was clear and the colors lovely! She is such a little ham and was soaking up the one-on-one attention from her grandparents. 
My dad recently bought a Nikon d40 so we had some informal photography tips/lessons so he could familiarize himself with his new toy. Last Christmas, he gave my sister and I CD's of old family photographs. I was amazed at some of the beautiful portraits he did of my mother when they were first married. Once he gets a hang of the digital camera, I think he'll really enjoy capturing his favorite people in pictures. 
I woke this morning to dark and rainy skies. Winter is creeping closer . . . I looked at the calendar today and realized that there are only three short weeks (or thereabouts) until Thanksgiving. We have a dining table partially stripped and chairs that need staining. My hope had been to get it done before Thanksgiving. And then there are all the Christmas crafty gifts that I want to do . . . 
What photo-related gifts are you all giving or making? I'm percolating some ideas . . . I'll show you some samples once I have something to show!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three Variations on a Leaf

What do you think? Practicing my PSE skills -- following tips from both Coffee Shop and The Pioneer Woman. Love to start the morning learning something new!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blown in the Wind

Today was beautiful. A perfect opposite of the storm and wet of yesterday. Hubby and I had the babysitter come over this morning so we could go to a spinning class together. On our leisurely drive home, I saw the tennis court chain link fence peppered with brightly colored leaves. As luck would have it, my camera was stashed in the car so I got out and enjoyed a few quiet minutes taking pictures before walking home.
I must have been quite the sight -- sweaty, nasty work out clothes, crouching in the muck with my camera. Wandering dog walkers likely looked askance and then hurried away! But I love that the wind arranged such a beautiful spectacle. You couldn't plan it any better. I imagine the two leaves above are star crossed lovers, tangled in a web not of their own making. Doesn't it look as if they have been captured in a caress? 
The unique perspective of looking through and around dozens or hundred, maybe thousands, of links creates a sense of endlessness. Infinity. Keeping time with leaves and dew drops. 
So it's the end of another weekend. Weathered the foul weather. Enjoyed taking pictures. Had a hair cut and spent a wonderful afternoon with a friend. There were other good things too -- poached pears, pumpkin spice creamer in the coffee and house projects underway. I'd like to linger in the reflection of time well spent. Not rush too quickly ahead into a new week with unknown challenges and adventures. This is my challenge, has been and continues to be, to savor the moment. To experience it in its fullness. My tendency is to think several steps ahead. Plan and worry and speculate. These are great survival skills as a busy mom wearing several hats but they aren't great relishing skills. 

My goal tomorrow is to keep my eyes wide open. To feel and see and sink into the day and what it has to offer. Perhaps I'll be lucky enough to see something wonderful to share with you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Delicate Diamonds

Yesterday, in the midst of yet another no-napping afternoon for Little Sis, I snuck out on the patio with my camera after a rain. I thought I'd wander the backyard and see what jumped out at me . . . fortunately, the owner of this beautiful web, spun in one of my Japanese Maples, wasn't home. 
It was stunning. The light shimmering on the hundreds of delicate beads of water. If I were a diamond kind of girl -- this is what I'd want to wear. In fact, I find myself fantasizing about the ways one could turn Fall into wearable art! Would the colors be as breathtaking, say, in a sweater or shirt? Or is the visual power inextricably linked to the surprise we feel in seeing it appear in trees? 
I took a walk with the family just before sunset, hoping for more magical shots. No luck despite there being plenty of spiders dangling from webs on virtually every available tree branch and limb. Ick. 

Today will hopefully be delightfully slow. After some debate, got me the flu shot yesterday. The first I've ever had. Feeling a little punky though to be honest, a good 1/3 of my coworkers have been out with some virus or another in the last week. So I'll nurse this cup of coffee and then hit the couch with a magazine. We'll see how long the chilluns allow for such slothfulness!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WYP #67

Running a little low on inspiration in the last few days so very glad to play with Laura's photo! Adjustments were crop, levels, contrast and then adding a very unreal sun flare. Sorry, purists! 
Here's the original -- I'm intrigued by the spot of purple in the bottom right corner. Flowers, perhaps? 

It's raining, hard. I'm on my last cup of coffee before heading out for early morning meetings and clients. I'm feeling a dread of winter creeping into my bones. Of making my way under my raincoat hood to my car, trying not to feel and look like a drowned rat. Isn't that a lovely visual image. Quick, look at the pictures above and it'll go away! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Lil' Pumpkins

Crazy little muffins -- there's a great shot, that I can't find (hmm . . . ) of Big D with his eyes crossed. Hilarious! They share their mama's love of pumpkins and all things fall and orange. They've been collecting leaves to press for days. Yesterday, in the Target parking lot, Sis insisted in coming to a full stop, to pick up a shredded, sad little leave. All leaves of fall color are treasures!
We splurged on treats while at the pumpkin patch, knowing full well that neither kid could really finish these massive caramel apples concoctions. They gave it there best bet. Sis managed to eat all the good stuff off the apple and Big D actually got some of the apple. This mama snapped pics and snuck bits when she could. 
I just love the concentration on her face and her little legs sticking straight out in this shot. Have I mentioned before that its a good things she's so cute 'cause Lord have mercy she's a handful! She's practicing the tween years now. If I had a buck for every time, in a single day, I hear no or I'm not going to, I'd be able to buy dinner! After two hours of NOT napping yesterday, we struck a deal. She could follow me around the house while I did some cleaning and NOT sleep (which clearly she was already NOT doing) but if she got cranky, to bed she'd go. Worked ok . . . imagine my hubby's confusion and amusement when he was getting her ready for bed and she trilled, "If I'm angry, I have to go to bed.  I have to stay awake. I'm happy!"
It's getting so hard to get a picture of these two together -- Big D is always clowning. (I will have to find the cross-eyed picture!) and Sis is usually grouching at him and shying away. Ah, the joys. 

Since Sis was not napping so I was not reading quietly or browsing the web . . . I tackled Big D's room. Its amazing the things that can happen in a 6 year olds bedroom if left unattended for a week or two . . . dug out all the hidden laundry tucked here and there, stealthily tossed all manner of detritus, and sorted out the boy's overcrowded bookshelves. I was a little concerned that when I told him what I'd been up to that he'd panic. I mean who knows what treasures could have moved or removed! Instead I got a sweet thank you and a ready agreement to sort out his stuffed animals. Warmed my heart, really. 

Off to another week's work. Looks less intense then the last! Enjoy. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Are ya tired of pumpkins yet?

Baby pumpkins are adorable! When I was a kid, we grew our own patch of mini pumpkins and then shared with our pals at school. My kids share my love and fascination . . . in fact, see that little orange beauty? Sis slept with it last night. 
Big D would have done the same, I'm sure, if he hadn't given his to his grandpa. He mourned the loss later and promptly claimed one of my own (artfully arranged on the fireplace mantle, mind you!) as his own. 
We had a wonderful pumpkin trip with the grandparents yesterday. Clear, breezy and crisp. There are two large (and only one cracked . . . ) pumpkins sitting on my porch. We are putting off the carving as our experience has shown that rain and Jack O Lantern do not mix -- they begin to resemble the sunken in faces of perhaps the very old. At least before they fall apart completely. 
This will perhaps be the last bee picture of the year. There were a few brave souls visiting the last of the fall flowers. Perhaps it was my imagination, but they just didn't look as bright and lovely as they had early in the summer. 
Big D and his big pumpkin. I have scores of kid pics with their pumpkins. I may have to post yet a whole other entry on pumpkins:) Geez, will it ever end. 

Do you belief in prescient dreams? I think that a few years back, I would have been iffy on the topic but I had an interesting experience when one of our family friend's had her first baby. The name had been kept "top secret" -- they were holding out to surprise us all when the little guy made his appearance. The night she went into labor, they called to tell us they were going to the hospital. That night, I dreamed that the father told me that the baby's name was Seth. Next morning, I woke, laughingly told hubby the story and then thought nothing of it. While I was getting out of the shower, I heard hubby coming up the stairs with the phone, saying, "I'll let you tell her." Sure 'nough. The father is on the phone and the first thing he says is, "So, do you know the middle name?" Kinda freaky. I have thought that perhaps this child and I have a unique bond. There must be some reason that I would be given that dream. 

Last night I had a dream about a dear friend with whom I've had a falling out. It has been incredibly sad and painful -- not my choice at all but I've exhausted what I think I can do to remedy the situation. In this dream, she was in trouble and she came to me for help. I was worried for her but relieved that we could move past this misunderstanding. Today I'm struggling with what to do. On the basis of a dream, do I reach out to her once again? Her rejection has been so complete and my hurt so big that I don't know that I want to  open myself up to it again. Oy, I should be more courageous than that, right? 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Walk, yet again

Our 2nd walk in the beautiful fall weather yesterday found us on the grounds of one of the city libraries. There are several ponds and walk ways perfect for practicing cyclists and somewhat unpredictable children. The trees are starting to turn and the air was crisp. 
My mother in-law had her point and shoot with her and though I didn't notice right away, she was about 3 steps behind me, perhaps looking for the same images that I saw. She did stop short of laying full on her stomach in the grass to get the oak leaves (last photo)! 
Oh, I have nothing to add, really. I love the sun beams -- perhaps its a dirty lens or perhaps its luck of the draw. Either way, I kinda like it!
Last night, hubby and I went to see Couples Retreat while grandparents watched the tots. We laughed so, so hard. It was very enjoyable. It struck me as interesting that the general tenor was optimistic about the value of marriage and the effort they need in order to be maintained. Not very Hollywood in flavor. 
I think that's about all I've got to say -- just imagine prone me with mother in-law standing, looking on, taking pictures of leaves on the ground. It was a dignified moment:) 

Fall Walk

The weather forecast says we've just got a couple more days of crisp, fall days before the rain begins . . . so we found ourselves on two walks yesterday, catching the colors and light while it lasts. My in laws are visiting with us this weekend. They arrived early Friday afternoon to watch Big D play soccer and today, we'll hit the pumpkin patch. Again. 
Our first walk found us in a forgotten clover field. We walked and ran and played in knee deep clover. The boys found a snake and we all caught a glimpse or two of feral (or want to be feral) cats on the prowl. Hubby took some adorable pics of Sis and I laughing in the clover except he didn't quite understand the auto focus . . . . we're thinking of a return trip at about dusk. Yummy!
Big D picked thirty (literally, thirty. He was counting) clover to put in a vase at home. They were quite sweet until they drooped. 
There are a few of these puffy dandelions left as well. I keep trying to capture the image of the fluff blowing away. Can't quite get it the way I envision it. 

I'm relishing the sun and beauty of fall this weekend. Hoping to recharge in prep for another long work week. Last week was intense. Lots of clients and their families in crisis. There's not much more I can or want to say other than I ended the week exhausted. I struggle with feeling guilty when there's not much more of me left to give to my own children or when after working 12 hour days, I have to come home and do paperwork so that I don't drown in the coming week. It's not like this all the time. It comes and goes in waves. I'd forgotten for several weeks that things can be this intense . . . I'm plotting and planning ways to manage this balance a bit better. I'm excited about some training opportunities in the coming month as well as starting some parent education/support groups. 

In the meantime, things that have got me excited today? The pumpkin patch, yummy Gouda/mushroom omelets that I'm about to make, planning/prepping to refinish my kitchen table and buying some unfinished chairs to go with. I'm feeling the homey, nesting fall feeling. Ah, yes. And potato soup! Enjoy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

For the Love of Pumpkins

Yesterday marked our first trip to the pumpkin fields this fall. Oh, it makes me very, very happy! It was just an hour or so before sunset and while the kids played under the watchful eye of their dad (there was a play structure -- these are savvy farmers!), I wandered around the beautiful property. Totally blissed out!
Plumper Pumpkins is a delightful farm perched in the west hills. The view is stunning. Of course there are hay rides, animals to view and pet, gourds of all sorts, a pumpkin flinging contraption . . . in previous years, I've picked up a couple of pumpkin recipes as well. 
We had had a mixed bag of weather - rain, sun, clouds. I couldn't believe my good fortune when I looked through the viewfinder and saw these beautiful sun beams. 
Today's to-do list is long . . . but I get to pull out the fall decor (i.e. PUMPKINS!) and the crock pot for savory, warm meals. This is, I think, my favorite time of year. So comfortable and rich. There's the anticipation of good things to come -- the holidays are around the corner. 
Today I made my first watermark brush stroke -- I can't say enough positive things about Coffee Shop tutorials! I feel so accomplished:) 

Friday, October 2, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Spider -- or NOT!

Last weekend, following our trip to the zoo, we took a walk in one of our many local nature parks. It was late afternoon and the sun through the changing leaves was wonderful! However, what was NOT wonderful, was the plentiful population of spiders
I have an intense dislike (perhaps irrational fear) of these 8-legged arachnids. I have been known, on more than one occasion, to call a tolerant neighbor fellow to rescue me and my kids from a spider when hubby was not home. And on other occasions, I have been known to sit in petrified stillness, watching a spider (you know, he might run and hide and then I'd never know for sure where he was) until an appropriate spider-killer returns home. 
Our walk had all the makings of a desensitization session -- you know, exposure to the feared object or bug. They were everywhere! It'd be fine if they spun their very large and nicely illuminated webs off the trail, but these fiendish things dangled themselves over the trail as well. I'm afraid my paranoia was readily apparent to my children. It may have been the shrieking and ducking. Little Sis would run and hold my hand, saying, "I'm going to calm you down." This from a three year old. Oh, the shame. Big D facilitated from being on the look out for spiders to warn mom and pretending to see them crawling on mom. Such a boy. 
The irony is not lost on me -- taking pictures of my nemesis. The webs were truly beautiful and somehow I feel safer behind the view finder. A phenomena I have noticed when photographing bees as well. Oh fickle, irrational mind! 

This month's word at ShutterSisters is illuminate. What fun! I love the colors and light of fall. I'm going to head out this weekend to try to capture some to share.