Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ringing in the New Year

The last two weeks have been chaotic with out of town guests and the business of playing hostess for the holidays. I'd like to say that I was well behaved and found my stint as domestic goddess relaxing and rejuvenating . . . but I'd be lying and you know it! But if not exactly restful, our time with family and friends reminded me of the things I most value: quality time with my children and husband, shared meals, connection and time for reflection.
I entered this two week holiday with the expectation (rather the hope) of regrouping and rethinking -- and surprisingly, I do feel a greater sense of clarity. In broad strokes, I want to focus on the values mentioned above and structure my work and family life to support them. The details of how this will happen are still percolating . . . I anticipate making changes at work and rethinking some of our household routines.
Little by little, that is how I intend to tackle the changes I want to make personally and professionally. This year promises to be exciting! I'm anxious to get started and in fact, have begun with tiny goals even in the last two weeks. For example, I've reduced my caffeine intake and said adios to my daily Coke Zero habit. Now I'll fashion my next small goal and proceed from there . . .
For sure I know that my continued love affair with photography will continue! Santa (aka hubby) gifted me with several books promising me to better understand shutter speed and macro photography. I've made it through the first and these "action" shots are my first attempt at creatively capturing motion. What do you think of the snow angels?
I've also tinkered for the first time with RAW and upgraded to PSE 8 so that I could process the images. A whole new learning curve!

It's going to be a great year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Bokeh

We had a little pre-breakfast fun today in Christmas pj's. The furry friend is "Jingle," a musical moose. Or is he a reindeer? I was inspired by today's post at ShutterSisters, explaining how to achieve glorious "bokeh bubbles," to steal Sarah's apt descriptor.
I'm loving the possibilities that all the twinkly lights present . . . And adorable, excited children. Now the only problem is that they don't sit still! My skill with the focus on my 50mm prime is still somewhat deficient to the task. But I had an aha moment about the wonders of masks and the sharpening!
Here Christmas Moose has his own moment of fame. He's been my son's pal since he was a wee toddler of about 18 months. His batteries never seem to run down . . . Little Sis had made him her "pet" this year and he has been to and from school multiple times. And woe be unto which ever parent forgets to retrieve him at the end of the day!
These last two are repeats from earlier in the season -- still my favorites thus far!
I'm packing my camera with me today as we attempt to finish up some shopping and visit with a friend and her adorable baby. Ah, it feels so wonderful to be settling in for some quality time with family and friends. When I feel my need to form to-do lists and get anxious about the baking and cleaning, I remind myself of my desire to really relish the holidays this year. Its time to recuperate, for myself and my family. Cheers!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Owlish Good Time

Last night was Big D's Christmas program and he was in owlish form . . . He and all his little K-2nd grade buddies were in costume as various barn yard animals and fowl. There were a few angels thrown in for good form. It was very sweet and he did so well with his lines: "Who, who are you? And why are you here?"
Apparently my little dude took a tumble off the risers in rehearsal but there were no repeat occurances during the performance. He was a bit distracted by his wings and their tendency to slip down his arms.
Did I mention he's a ladies' man? Oh my. They flock to him. This little gal is just about his speed. Funny faces and striking poses.
We had to test out the costume at home, of course. I've been shocked by his sensitivity to what others' think. I mean, I expected that but I didn't think we'd have worries about being laughing at such a young age. Here he is checking out his reflection in the bathroom mirror. I was relieved that the finished look passed his inspection as I didn't have any back up plans.
Today was the first day of two weeks away from work. Ah. I'm beginning to feel the reality seek in . . . today got a little done around the house, laid down with the kids for a rest (no one actually slept, stinkers) and now hubby and I will work on wrapping packages. I'm looking forward to baking with the kids, checking out a few holiday sites in town and preparing yummy food. And did I mention sleep, read and exercise? Slow down and breath? That does sound a bit oxymoronic, doesn't it?

Hope you are all warm, comfy and enjoying yourselves this Friday evening.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Today's Shutter Sisters challenge is to share photos of either our own or our children's sibling relationship . . . my two favorite subjects in a single photo! I know that my own relationship with my sib (younger sister by nearly 2 years) was rocky for quite some time while growing up. No doubt I was an aggravating older sister that bossed and she was an independent younger sister determined to set me straight! My parents remember a time when we were little when we played well with each other -- best friends, they say. Junior High and High School were brutal. And now, in adulthood and with children of our own, we're friends. I so enjoy and appreciate that.
My two are in an in-between stage -- they vacillate between hugs and holding hands and tattling and general ickiness. This morning, for example, they've been upstairs getting dressed forever. Running up and down the hall, giggling, being silly. They like each other this morning. Lots of hugs all around.
They are so different. My son is sensitive and artistic. A little hesitant. My daughter is a sprite. Needs to be in charge and will go toe to toe with us all if she deems necessary! They are beautiful and sweet. I hope we can help them avoid the strife that seems to mark so many sibling relationships. That they can be each other's most loyal friend.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I haven't taken nearly the number of pictures that I want to . . . I'm ready for the holiday break. A more relaxed schedule to appreciate the festivities, color, lights, and giddiness of children! Much like the afore mentioned children, I'm counting the days down 'til Friday. Until then, I'll partake of a visual appetizer. A little snow flake, white light delight to hold me over:)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ballet Class

This past Monday was Sis' last dance class of the term. Parents had been banned from the classes, if you'll remember, but on this, the last day, we all got to sit quietly on the bench and watch our little ballerinas.
They were adorable! Very serious as they ran and jumped and slipped and slid all over the room. At one point, they were all sitting on their bottoms and spinning in circles. Now, I've never taken ballet or dance of any sort. Those of you that have, what move is that exactly? :)
Here she is rolling on the floor. Um, not sure of that move either. They had a blast making up their own moves to a diverse selection of music. They clearly adored their teacher who was fun but kept all the little muchkins well in line.
At the end of class, I bribed Sis to go back to the bar and do a little this and that so I could take pictures. So cute. I seriously considered joining an adult class. I'm not sure they have classes elementary enough for me . . . I mean, I can sit and spin or roll with the best preschoolers. Anything much more than that, and I may do myself injury.
I've been suggesting, hinting, begging my similarly dance-inhibited spouse to take lessons with me for years. Perhaps his refusal is my saving grace. Neither of us have done much more than a little boogie when no one is watching. We'd likely tangle ourselves up in a knot, impede the learning progress of our classmates and cause our teacher to kindly suggest private lessons. I'm just saying . . . it could be that bad.

My little girl will not suffer the same inhibition. She wiggles and dances with the best of them. And to be honest, I rock out with her when nobody is looking;)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trying My Hand

I was inspired by Rita's practical post on natural light portraiture so we took a time out from tree trimming and grabbed a black blanket and -- ta da
I struggled a bit with over exposure so will need to do some fine tuning with metering but overall, I love the results. 
Did I tell you that a friend has asked me to take pics of her daughter? Yep. I'm a bit ambivalent about it. Photography is very much a sanity-saving hobby. I do not want to intrude on those skilled professionals that make their livelihood taking pictures. We've agreed she can make me cookies . . . that seems like a fair trade. Besides, I'm afraid I can't guarantee the results:) 
While on the topic of vocation and avocation . . . I'm doing some tough thinking about the work I do and its sustainability. I've been flirting with burn out for weeks and now, I think I'm there. Its not unexpected. This particular position feels a bit like being an ER doc or a fire fighter -- running from one crisis to another. And I don't drink, so there goes that coping strategy:) So I'm laying low this weekend, thinking about my options, hoping that I can work out something doable with my supervisor 'cause I really like working with this level of intensity but I need to keep the long view. 
The holidays are both a hindrance and a blessing as I try to sort this out. A hindrance because with the holidays come a pressure to decorate, shop, entertain and be generally jolly. The blessing is the time spent with friends and family, enjoying their company and the diversion that all that decorating, shopping and entertaining can bring. 

Now off to the couch, in front of our beautifully decorated tree with my book and coffee. Hubby and kids are rattling the legos around as they build something, I'm sure, spectacular. Eventually I'll have to figure out what's for breakfast and make plans for getting something done with the day. For now, I'm just going to absorb the quiet of the morning. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tree, with more pics.

Never fear, the tree posts will continue as tree trimming and lighting occurs. I bet you can hardly wait!

Tree, likely to be one of several parts

We got our tree last night! Hubby left work earlier, rushed to pick up Sis while I got Big D and then we headed into the hills. Which is literally out our door and a drive of maybe a couple of miles. Not exactly "over the hills and through the woods" -- we're lucky that way! We arrived close to sunset and tramped through the tree farm, examining trees and then moving along, looking for just the right specimen. 
I brought along my camera and new lens. I'm in love. Just love. It took such bright pictures despite the deepening dark . . . At some point, it was too dark to capture my little elves who were in constant motion without significant blur. Especially Big D. Hence a lack of pics with his sweet little person. 
Sis kept finding trees just her size. Wanted to take them all home. Perhaps make them pets . . . which is a prominent play theme these days:) But this mama had a different vision. A tall, full tree framed by the bay window at the front of the house. Lots of lights. Ah. 
This magical tree farm had a "snow" machine and every 5 minutes, "flakes" of soapy bubbles would fill the air. My kids were fascinated. Well, until Big D made a connection between the bubbles and what he remembered about spit bugs. He announced it was "disgusting -- maybe they have a hundred spit bugs in that thing." We got to see beautiful clydesdale horses pulling a lit wagon full of happy people -- we weren't some of those happy people as they were charging the equivalent of your first born. There was a train display and a cute shop of Christmas ornaments and the crafts featuring the lavender from a nearby farm. 
It was a lovely experience. A tradition that I value from my own childhood. Of course, it was complete with my own very human children - Sis had herself a little tantrum of ugliness. You wouldn't guess it looking at her sweet face in the pics. She's a sprite. I keep reminding myself that I'll be grateful for her strong will when she is a young woman, making her way in the world. She will not be a victim. She will pursue her dreams with determination. We just have to survive her childhood:) 

As I type, she is dancing in her Christmas pj's while Big D tells daddy an endless story . . . they are anxious to get on with the day. They want stories, to decorate the tree and I'm not sure what else. Perhaps we will start some baking or finish up some crafts. Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bare Necessities

Heading back to work today . . . been away a week, how come I don't feel refreshed and rejuvenated? :) We all know why. 'Cause we're the women of our households. Responsible for creating and supplying the holiday experience to our families. What may be a vacation for the other (male) adults in our lives, is a labor of love on our parts. No, I'm not bitter. Far from it actually. I've had me some good conversation with smart women that I love and whose advice I value . . . The reality is that I can not reproduce the holidays of my childhood. For one, they were orchestrated by my grandmother who had no children at home and didn't work. And for another, I am my own unique person and will create my own unique set of traditions and rituals to mark the holidays for my children. So here's my list of bare necessities that I believe that I and my family will need on a daily basis for a happy and successful holiday . . . 

1. Good eats -- sometimes healthy:)
2. Exercise and fresh air
3. Rest
4. Loved ones to do the above with . . . 

Everything else is gravy. I wish for myself and my family a simple holiday. Ah, already feeling more zen about the coming weeks:)