Thursday, March 28, 2013

Photo Friday: Do something shady

Guest Post from Ann

Sure, lots of people will tell you that the two best times to take photos are for about an hour after sunrise and for an hour before sunset. But you are a normal human being who sometimes wants to go outside in the middle of the day and take some photos (also, if you have a child, he or she may possibly be awake at this time). The very simplest advice I can give you is to find a big block of shade. Make sure the heads of your subjects are fully in the shade (no strange sun spots from gaps in branches from a tree, for example) and try to get a background that's not too bright. 

Also, my daughter's pose here totally reminds me of that time Sabine met Fonzie in Italy.  Heyyy!

What Not To Buy Grandma For Christmas

I was going through my pictures and found these that I took last year while doing some Christmas shopping.  I will file them under "What not to buy Grandma for Christmas".

If you have a creepy uncle though, you might keep these in mind.  They were on the clearance rack so you can get them for a nice low price.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sometimes You Try. Sometimes You Try and Fail.

A couple of weeks ago I was pretty pumped to hear that the piece I submitted to “Listen To Your Mother” was accepted for a live audition.

So I went.  But alas, I did not make it.

I ain’t gonna lie-I was pretty bummed.  At a low point I watched Lockdown Orange County and wondered why even prison inmates had more talent than me.  Seriously, there was a dude that made a guitar from a model boat kit.  And not just a regular guitar, an electric guitar.  There was also a guy that could rattle off a lovely rap about making a shank in under 5 seconds.  And his voice didn’t shake or nothin’.

But as my son sometimes says after a tantrum- I’m done now.

I’m going to choose to be proud of myself for trying.  Old me would never have chosen to overcome her anxiety to stand up in front of people and speak.  I will choose not be ashamed of failing, but to be proud of trying.

I’m going to choose to be proud that I made it as far as I did.

I’m going to choose to take this as an opportunity to be an example.  I harp on my son all the time to not fear failure.  I teach him that failure is necessary to learn.  So today I will practice what I preach.  I will embrace it and I will try again next year. 

I’m going to choose to be thankful.  I’m thankful that I got to meet some great ladies today.  I’m thankful that this six-month blogging journey has put me in touch with some wonderfully funny talented ladies that have been incredibly supportive.  I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Now…Go see “Listen To Your Mother” because there will truly be some great storytellers there.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Squirrel's Gotta Do What a Squirrel’s Gotta Do

Here’s a picture of the squirrel that eats every morning from our squirrel-proof birdfeeder.  He hangs upside down and somehow manages to scoop out the seeds with his tiny squirrel paw.  He’s pretty good at it, but he does leave a mess on the ground below the feeder when he’s done.

Eric hates that squirrel.   “It’s for the birds.  It’s just not right.”

I don’t mind him.  Who knows what he’s been through in life to lead him to our feeder every morning?  Maybe he’s just trying to feed his squirrel family.  Maybe he’s been laid off from his job as nut sorter at the Willy Wonka factory.  Maybe he can’t find another job because he’s squirrel.  People say that squirrel racism is in our past, but I guarantee that if you give an employer two identical resumes yet one is a human and one is squirrel, they will go with the human every time.  Squirrel bigotry is alive and kicking.  I bet people have nasty assumptions about him like if they give him a job he would just poop in the office.  Yeah, ok he would totally poop in the office, but still, he’s probably a good squirrel.  Maybe people keep telling him that he should pull himself up by his bootstraps, but I don’t think they even make squirrel boots, do they?  Maybe he had to go on food stamps and all he can afford is over-processed acorns full of sugar because it’s the most calories for his dollar yet people judge him every time he’s in the check-out lane and say “Look at that deadbeat, wasting our tax dollars on crap food” and “Hey, look, a squirrel in a grocery store!”.  Maybe he’s just trying to do the best he can and give his squirrel children a healthy meal.

So go ahead squirrel, I won’t judge.  Just leave some for the birds.  They may have had it rough, too.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Photo Friday: I don't always want to see the top of your head

Guest Post from Ann

This is what my daughter does when you ask her a to make a silly face. I find it unfailingly awesome. It's also meant to demonstrate that you don't always have to have the top of a person's head in the frame when you're taking a close-up portrait. Try it!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sometimes What I Do Is Completely Pointless

When we moved into this house a year ago I had a vision of the perfect room for my son.  I looked at tons of decorating websites.  I wanted it to be able to grow with him.  I wanted a room that he would be proud to bring his friends to.  I picked out the perfect shade of blue for the walls.  That shade of blue turned out to be awful when I saw it on the walls.  I went back to the paint store to have them mix up just the right mixture of blue and gray.  I went to flea markets to find furniture.  It would send the right message to him of the need for conservation, the importance of reusing and recycling.  Eric and I spent a week repainting a mid-century modern style dresser with gray and white Chevrons.  We measured and remeasured to get just the right width of chevron.  I hung artwork, one large piece of an airplane consisting of three canvases that I painted myself.  I bought new bedding to match his new décor.

This is where he sleeps.  He will sleep in the hall or on the floor of his room.  On a few occasions I found him asleep on the stairs.  But I can not tell you the last time he slept in his bed.

I gave my daughter a bath.  I chased her down when she ran naked through the house.  I washed her nutella smeared face and yogurt-filled hair.  I cleaned up the water on the floor and around the tub afterwards.  I chased her down when she ran naked through the house again and put a diaper and clothes on her.

Here is a picture of my daughter taken 1 hour after her bath.  I might as well have put her in a tub full of ketchup and dirt.

Sometimes what I do is completely pointless.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Up and Coming Artist

This is a piece of art by up and coming artist Kenzie Brown.    The medium is pen found in nightstand on bedsheet.  The straight lines represent society’s standards for her such as eating with utensils, wearing pants, and not coloring on her parent’s bedsheets with a pen.  The squiggily parts represent her thought on that which is “Fuck that shit, I do what I want.”  You may be familiar with her other works such as “This IS me eating my vegetables” in the medium of ketchup on dining room table and “I don’t even know what that is” in the medium of hell-if-I-know on couch.  Asking price is $10,000 or best offer.  If you act now, you can take the artist home with you where she will create your own personalized art by writing on your prized possessions.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Yells Pecker in Target

This is how Hudson went to Target today.  He initially had on rubber boots as well, but I put a stop to that.  I have my standards.  That standard being that you may not look like Lady Gaga, Björk, and Dennis Rodman somehow figured out how to have a love child.  Although I guess I'm cool with my child looking like he is heavily influenced by their fashion sense.

Kenzie was riding in the cart.  A few minutes into our trip she started hitting Hudson’s sun visor.
“I’LL CUT YOUR PECKER OFF!” yelled my son.
“HUDSON! NO!  Where in the world did you hear that?”
He replied with a shoulder shrug.

Who hasn’t been here before?  You’re in a store with your son dressed in a leopard sun visor, Lowe’s tool belt with a walkie talkie and a sheriff’s star talking about how it’s inappropriate to yell about cutting off people’s peckers.  Am I right, parents?  No?  Just me…ok.

We continued on to the boy’s section to pick out some T-shirts.  Kenzie again starts doing what she does best, annoying the shit out of her brother, and again starts hitting his sun visor.
“Hudson!  Stop it!”
Then my sweet, sweet Kenzie, my darling 2-year old, stands up in the cart and yells, “PECKEEERRRRRR!!!!”
“GUYS!  For the love of God...please.   Stop yelling about peckers.”
Hudson looked at me and pointed at his sun visor.  “But it’s my pecker.”

I’m not really sure why he has decided to call his sun visor a pecker, but I really wish I could have explained this to the people in our vicinity.  I’m sure this whole thing would have less embarrassing if I just could have explained that my son was talking about the pecker on his head and not in his pants or belonging to his sister.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Photo Friday: Tips for shooting silhouettes

Guest post from Ann

I've been crazy for silhouettes lately. And if you know me, you know that I don't learn a photo trick that I don't repeat 70 billion times (it's like Sabine's daughter's love for bacon, boundless).

Find a lot of light: The person you're photographing has to stand out as a dark shape against the background. That means you need a lot of light. Sunset's my favorite, then sunrise, then a big window.

Details count: The little details are what makes the silhouette work. Say you've got a couple you're photographing, you're probably aiming for that moment where they're gazing at each other before they kiss, rather than the smooch itself. There has to be space between things, so the viewer can tell what they're seeing. (I have a bunch from this shoot of the back of my husband's and daughter's heads, but when he started talking to her, bingo!)

Use your camera's manual settings: This is not your normal shoot. You're wanting the people to be dark and underexposed and the background to be pretty. If you haven't done much of this, you might want to experiment with taking the photo on automatic and see what your shutter speed and aperture are, and then go to manual settings and underexpose your people.

Keep it sharp: You'll also want to make sure your person is in focus (blurry outlines don't really work with silhouettes).

Go to Istanbul: OK, that's not really about silhouettes, but I took the photo on our trip there and it's a really cool place. It's also the excuse for missing the last few Photo Fridays. I missed you!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Ninja Princess Dream

I want to make sure I give my daughter just the right message.  I want her to be strong, smart, self-sufficient, and able to stand up for herself.  But I also don’t want her to ever be ashamed of her feminine side, the side that likes her frilly dresses and her hair bows.  I don’t want her to be ashamed of anything.  My hope for her is that she never does something because society tells her that she has to fit into some little box. 

Then today Kenzie told me she was a ninja princess and put that fear to rest.  Ninja princess!  Why had I never considered this as a career opportunity?  It’s perfect! Kate Middleton fashion, tiaras, and ass-kicking all rolled into one.  My daughter just took some figurative nunchucks to society’s box.  And by box I mean culturally acceptable role, not a euphamism for vagina.  That would totally undermine the point I was just trying to make.

It’s also made me think about the kind of mom that I hope to be when she tells me her dreams and aspirations.  Will I support her in her endeavor when she’s in high school and tells me that she doesn’t want to go to college, she wants to be a ninja princess instead?  Or will I pepper her with dream-killing questions such as “What’s the job market for princess ninja-ing like?”, “Does it have good benefits?”  or “Is ninja princess a real job?”

Do you think someone told Kim Kardashian being famous wasn’t a job?  Yes.  Yes, I’m sure lots of people have.  But someone must have been supportive because now she’s dating Kanye West and has a clothing line at Sears.  So suck on that haters.

I guess I just hope that one day when she’s accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award in the field on Ninja Princess-ing she will be able to say “My mom always supported me.”

Although she just told me that now she’s a cowboy...I bet she’ll be an amazing cowboy someday.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How a Vacuum Revealed My True Age

I remember the day that I first felt like an adult.  It wasn’t after getting my first job.  It wasn’t after getting my first paycheck, paying taxes, or even buying a house.  The day I felt like I was really an adult was the day I spent $500 on a vacuum cleaner.

Eric and I had been married for a couple of years.  We had just bought our first house.  We had one Rottweiler named Shelby at the time that shed like crazy.  It pained me to see our beautiful new carpet get covered in a black film of dog hair.  No amount of vacuuming seemed to get rid of it all so we started our hunt for a new vacuum.

Our first stop was Sears.  As luck would have it, there was a salesman demonstrating all the vacuums on a piece of carpet.  I don’t recommend this as a date night activity.  Most of the vacuums left behind some of the dirt or cereal or whatever he threw on the carpet at that time.  Then came the Dyson.  That beast on two wheels vacuumed up everything he put in front of it.  We looked on giddily as it picked up every last Fruit Loop and every tiny piece of dirt.  Scratch what I said earlier about date night.  Bring your own concoction of things to Sears and really test the vacuum demonstration guy.  “Oh yeah…but can it suck up this mixture or glitter, dryer lint and cooked spaghetti?”  Good times.

We left Sears giving each other the play by play of the vacuum demonstration like it was the Super Bowl.  (I use this analogy loosely as I watch the Super Bowl solely for the half time show and junk food.)
“Did you see how it picked up all that dirt?!”
“I know it was amazing!  But…who spends $500 of a vacuum.  That’s insane.”

We agreed and left the store.  Then one day we found ourselves at Target staring again at the vacuum cleaners.  Seriously people, you need to hang out with us sometime.  We are loads of fun.  We kept coming back to the Dyson.
“This is stupid.  I mean…it’s a vacuum cleaner” we said knowing full well that we were going to buy it.
“Well, let’s at least get this one.  It’s not as expensive as this model.” said Eric.
“But this one has pet attachments!” I said.
So out we walked having spent $500 on a vacuum cleaner.  We decided that this was not irrational but was instead some sort of sign of our adulthood.  Some people of lesser maturity might spend that money on booze, techno gadgets, or clothes.  But not us.  We were practical and we bought a vacuum.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I was vacuuming up some couscous that had ended up on the floor after working on a project with Hudson when I accidentally vacuumed up a red pen.  Holy shit!  This vacuum is so strong it actually sucked up an entire pen!  I own the Ferrari of vacuums!  That mature adult that I was talking about earlier would have stopped what they were doing, checked to see where the pen ended up, and then tried to retrieve it before it did any damage.  What I did was to think about the claim from the Dyson commercial guy about their vacuum never loosing suction.  What I did was to continue to vacuum with the pen loudly rattling inside the Dyson.

So now I can tell you two things for certain.  The Dyson claim that their vacuum never looses suction is true.  And the day I realized that I am not really an adult is the day I gleefully vacuumed up an entire pen with my Dyson.

Friday, March 8, 2013

M is for Money, R is for Road Hazard

I’ve been working on letters with Hudson.  I give him a letter and have him tell me a word that starts with that letter.  Like most conversations, this one went to a weird place pretty quickly.

“Can you tell me word that starts with D?” I asked him
“That’s right!  I know another one.  What’s Daddy at work?”
“That’s right!  Good job.”
“And you know what daddy gets when he does good at work?” he asked me.  We haven’t yet covered grammar.  (Although he does know that the correct response to "How are you doing?" is "I'm doing well", not good.)

This actually opens a lot of learning opportunities.  We could also learn I for insurance.  We could learn the number 401 and the letter K.

Hey, I just thought of another D word related to Daddy’s work!  Dudes…as in two dudes…as in who is often to blame by every drunk that was assaulted while minding their own business?  Yeah, this could work.

Know what doesn’t work though?  Trying to get a 5-year old to do something he has no interest in doing.

I tried to get him to find the letter T on street signs as we were driving.  His answer? It was a bad idea because I needed to keep my eyes on the road.  He pulled the public safety card.  So now you know.  The alphabet is a road hazard.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Quitting is for Quitters

You might remember from this post that I started taking piano lessons about a year and a half ago.  Lately it’s been getting harder to practice.  I thought when Hudson started preschool I would be less busy.  That was before I realized that they celebrate and have a party for everything.  Ev-ery-thing.  Combine this with a busy 2-year old and a husband who works nights and it’s hard to find the time.

I’ve been getting frustrated with my lack of progress.  I get embarrassed at my lessons when I feel like I haven’t gotten anywhere.  So I thought about quitting.

Then I thought about how far I’ve come since I first started.  I can now proudly say that I can play a shitty version of Für Elise whereas before I couldn’t play any version of Für Elise.  Ok, so I may not be proving my point very well.  But my point is this.  I did this for fun.  I’m not running for Beethoven or anything.  You know, if one ran for such a thing.  Although if I ever start a band I think  “Running for Beethoven” would be a pretty kick-ass name.  We would play a bitchin’ cover of "Rock Me Amadeus" just for irony.  Anyhoo…

Progress is progress.  It may not be dramatic but it’s definitely farther than I would have come if I quit.  One of my favorite quotes is from Voltaire which is “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  I’m trying to live by that.  My writing is far from brilliant.  I mean I incorrectly used the word “irony” earlier when I should have said “stupidity”.  But I do it anyway.  I do it because I’m sure as hell not going to get better by not doing it.

So I’ll keep writing and I’ll keep going to my piano lessons.  Because doing something is always better than doing nothing.  Unless that something is running for Beethoven.  That’s just dumb not to mention a waste of campaign dollars.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why I’m Expecting a Call From DHS

My brother did not bring pedophiles to our house.  No one was sitting around in the nude.  Yes, it is important that I start this post this way.

My brother plays soccer for the University of Oklahoma.  If you’re doing the math, we’re almost 14 years apart.  I like to think it’s because it took my parents 14 years to wrap their heads around what an exceptional child I was.

Last weekend he came up to stay with us because he had a soccer tournament up here.  He brought two of his teammates along to stay with us as well.

Hudson thought this was awesome.  He was extremely excited to have Uncle Nick around as he is much cooler than I am. The fact that he brought two friends was icing on the cake and he followed them around constantly.

Sunday after their game they came back to the house to get cleaned up.  Nick’s friends had stayed in Hudson’s room and were taking turns in the bathroom. Hudson of course went upstairs to see what they we’re doing.

At this point, I need to stop and give some backstory.  Hudson will often say that he’s naked.  He’s not.  He’ll walk around without a shirt on and tell me that he’s naked.  He also graduated from using the word “pee-pee” to penis.  He doesn’t always use the word appropriately.  One time he accidentally hit me in the leg and said, “I’m sorry I punched you in the penis.”

So now that we’ve established that I’ll continue with the story.

Nick and his friends were upstairs getting cleaned up and Hudson went up to see what they we’re up to.  He came back downstairs to report his findings.

“Uncle Nick’s friends are all being naked in my room.”
“Yeah, they need to put some clothes on so their penises aren’t showing.”

I can’t wait until he tells his preschool teacher about this story.   We have a parent-teacher conference on Thursday.  I’m really looking forward to explaining why my son is talking about how Uncle Nick came to visit and his friends were naked in his room with their penises hanging out.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Anatomy of a Fall

Here’s a picture of the jump that I wasn’t going to jump.  Here’s a picture of the jump that Eric said he was going to jump.  Therefore, here is a picture of the jump I decided I had to do.

Eric went over it with ease.  I channeled my inner twenty-something stoner snowboarder and hauled ass towards the jump.  Somewhere near the top, I remembered I was a boring suburban mom of two and that this was a really dumb idea.  A dumb and soon to be painful idea.

Let me let you in on a little secret.  In those Looney Tunes cartoon where they do that run in the air and somehow make it back from the cliff.  Tried it.  Doesn’t work.

My aggressive speed gave me lots of time in the air to think.  I thought about all the things I would break and how I could finally find out what it feels like to ride in one of those ski patrol thingys.

Then I landed.  I can’t tell you exactly how I landed.  I know that my last thought before hitting the ground was “Fuck”.  I know that one ski ended up uphill and I can tell you that my elbow really hurt.  According to Eric’s apt description I was “all flying assholes and elbows.”

I was able to ski away from it and try it two more times.  I landed it one of those times, enough to save my pride.  Then I decided to stick with equally ridiculous yet less painful stunts such as this.