Friday, May 31, 2013

Photo Friday: Beach time

Hope your weekend is full of moments like this one. And if you're taking photos near water, be sure to think about reflections. They can make a photo more interesting.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How To Take The Perfect Family Picture

So far Ann has always provided the photography advice with her Photo Fridays, but now that I have a camera and know how to remove the lens cap, I feel like I can drop some knowledge,yo.  I'm 3 weeks into my online course for amateur photographers, so I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing.  Ok.  When taking a group shot, make sure your subjects are wearing something neutral.
Sparkly backpacks from SeaWorld may not be the best choice.  Neither are OU hats, but then again neither are hat hair and hysterical 5-year olds.  The next step is to remember that you are the director.  Tell your subjects where you want them to look.

And when that fails just wait for one of your subjects to forcibly move your other subjects head towards the camera.

Now remember that the perfect shot may not happen right away.   Just keep shooting.

Eventually one of your subjects will force your other subjects face towards the camera again.  But sometimes even with brute force, your subjects just won't cooperate.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  For this shot, I had my husband stand at my shoulder and make funny faces.

You know what, I'll just leave the photography advice up to Ann.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Awkward Family Photo: The Vacation Edition

There are so many things that are beautifully awkward about this picture.  First of all, yes, I am the mom who forced my children to take pictures as sea turtles.  Kenzie was quiet happy about it.  Hudson no so much.  It think I said something like "Get in the picture so we can have a picture to remember how much fun we had damnit!".  Alright, I don't think I was that crazy but I did tell him to get in the picture.  He's obviously thrilled about it.  I think at the time of this picture we was wondering how a 5-year old goes about divorcing his parents.

Now if you will look to your left...that is a picture of my husband scratching himself. He just happened to walk in front of the camera as I was taking a picture of my pissed off sea turtle children.

I would now like to thank my husband for giving me permission to post this picture. It's really too awkwardly perfect not to put on the internet for all to see.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dolphins Don’t Like To Get Their Shorts Wet

One evening before our trip, I took the kids and the dog for a walk through our neighborhood.  We were talking about our upcoming trip to Sea World.  Hudson had been learning about the ocean at school and was quite excited to learn about all the animals we would see.

“Mommy, dolphins don’t like to get their shorts wet,” announced Kenzie.
I mean we all know that dolphins hate getting sand in their sandals, but this one I had not heard before.
“Dolphins wear shorts?”
She gave me an exasperated look and said, “No, dolphins don’t wear shorts!” and walked off.
Somehow I had come of as the crazy person in this conversation.  So all you preteens out there complaining about how weird your parents are just remember-you made them that way.  You made your parents this way after countless conversations just like this one.

So we headed to San Antonio from Dallas and after 4 hours and about 50 viewings of “A Bug’s Life” we made it to San Antonio.  I guess our kids don’t get out much because the hotel room was the most exciting thing to happen in their life right after learning how to shoot spitballs from their grandfather.  Room service just about blew Hudson’s mind.

“You mean they bring the food to our room?!”

When the food came they were so excited they celebrated by eating about one bite each and then jumping on the bed.

We did finally decide to leave our magical hotel room and visit Sea World.  We even got to pet and feed the dolphins.  If you ask Kenzie, she will tell you that we fed them fish cookies with Grandma.  Kenzie doesn’t always tell the truth.

She was right about dolphins not liking to get their shorts wet though.  I know this because when we visited them, they decided to go commando.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

You Must First Remove The Lens Cap

So we survived an entire week away from home and about 24 hours in the car with two children.  I’d like to tell you that we planned this elaborate trip way in advance, but what actually happened was me saying “hey, that week you have off is in 3 days.  We should probably do something.”  Tuesday we looked at the map and decided there were a lot of places of interest along 1-35 (we were too cheap to spring for plane tickets) and Friday we left for Dallas, our first stop before continuing to San Antonio and then South Padre Island.

To stick with our doing things at the last possible moment theme, we bought a camera the day we left town.  Thankfully we were staying with Ann and she kindly offered to give me a tutorial and she had signed me up for an online photography class.

Dear sweet Ann had no idea of the level of incompetence that she was dealing with.

Ann was teaching about the million and one buttons and the beauty of ISO or as I like to call it-the thing that does the thing with the light next to the other button that does the other thing with the light.

“How does the filter go on? I tried to push it on but it felt weird so I stopped, “ said Eric
“It screws on.”
“Ooooohhhh,” said Eric and I collectively.

Ann tried to teach me about white balance and shutter speed.
“How would one remove the lens cap?” I asked

She got me signed into my online photography class and showed me how to view the lessons.  I took a picture of her on the computer because I have the patience of a 5-year old and really wanted to push buttons on my new camera.

So thank you Ann for have the patience to try to teach me some photography.  I’m getting there.  And I did take these, which I think are pretty cool…

More about our trip tomorrow.  I did get some pictures since I have now mastered lens cap removal.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Photo Friday: The one with the goat

A goat smiling in its sleep is a most excellent sight. We spotted this one at Fossil Rim, a drive-through animal park. There's a little petting zoo in the middle of the drive. I thought about not taking my camera, but I'm glad I did. The lesson here is that if you don't bring your camera, you might lose a chance to anthromorphize a goat (don't worry, no animals were harmed in the capturing of this image, that's just attributing human behavior to something that's not human). Hope your Friday's as a happy as this goat.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Deliverance Comes to Walmart

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “I just can’t get enough of Deliverance and would really like to experience in my own life” should consider going to a Walmart in rural Oklahoma around midnight on a Saturday night.

This weekend Eric and I took the kids and went to my parent’s house.  Saturday night my dad watched the kids so we could run to Walmart for some Mother’s Day cards and because I saw Twizzlers on TV and I really, really needed some Twizzlers.

We pulled up to the Choctaw Walmart and knew we were in for an exciting trip when the first words out of Eric’s mouth were “Is that a midget?”  And yes, it was.  To be precise and politically correct, it was a little person drinking a gigantic can of Monster with about 5 other guys who just happened to be hanging out in front of Wal-mart also consuming large quantities of energy drink.

It only got better inside.  Not to be disappointed, about 10 feet into the store we saw our first mullet.  This was just the first of many.  It was like a wildlife refuge of mullets.  It even housed the rare bleached-on-top-and-down-the-waterfall-yet –dark-on-the-sides fem-mullet.  I heard that this breed was going into extinction but was nursed back to health by the emergence of crocs and acid washed denim.

While walking down the candy aisle (I told you I really needed Twizzlers) I jumped when I heard someone yell “DID YOU ASK YOUR MEXICAN DADDY IF YOU COULD HAVE THAT?  WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK YOUR MEXICAN DADDY?”  The “Mexican daddy” was a rather large Hispanic man who was in Walmart with his rather large wife and was talking to his scrawny friend.  They were pushing around a shopping cart full of chips, soda, and two children.

Then there was this…
24 oz cans of Mountain Dew.  The Champagne of rednecks.  I’m sure glad they had it in diet.

We went to check out and they only had one lane open.  This gave us plenty of time to truly appreciate this Walmart experience.  Oh, and we did.  The “Mexican daddy” and his family were behind us.  When their newborn child started crying, the baby was told by her father “We didn’t bring your baby juice.”  I only pray they were referring to milk and not Mountain Dew.  We also saw a cop walk in that was maybe an inch or two taller than me (meaning he was pretty damn short).  A part of me hoped for a brawl between him and the little person hyped up on the giant can on Monster.  That didn’t happen.

But this did.
That is three horses in front of Walmart.  Because what else would you expect to find in front of Walmart in the middle of the night?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bullhorns and Bike Locks

Since I became a co-leader of the Oklahoma chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America I have been amazed by some of the strong women I have met.

Last week I went to a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Lankford.  While I was there I met a lady named Nancy, a 79-year old grandmother, that chained herself to an earth mover at the Keystone pipeline construction site.  With a bike lock.  Around her neck.

“Really?!” I said.
“Well, I was one of 6 people.”
“That’s amazing!”
“Well, it wasn’t hard.”  Because it was the dexterity required to place a bike lock around your neck that was impressive.

Then I met Jean at a Stroller Jam in front of Senator Inhofe’s office.  A Stroller Jam is an event where moms show up with their strollers and children to ask that their legislators work for gun reform.  When security came out to ask us to leave
Jean said, “This ain’t nothing.  I’ve been to jail.”
“You’ve been to jail?! For what?”
“Protesting the death penalty.  It wasn’t a big deal.  It was only for 6 hours.  Nancy...Nancy went to jail for 24 hours.”

So this weekend we held a Mother's Day Walk in honor of the victims of gun violence and their families.  We carried eight paper flowers to represent the eight children shot and killed every day in this country.  I am terrified of public speaking so naturally I volunteered to speak.  This in itself was scary enough.  Then I was handed a bullhorn.  Then I started shaking uncontrollably and really felt pretty lame.  These women had chained themselves to things and went to jail, yet I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking over speaking in a park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon surrounded by supportive women.  But I did it.  I stepped up on a rock and I talked.  Our speakers told their heart wrenching stories about losing their son/grandson to gun violence.  It was emotional and there were tears and it reconfirmed why I’m doing all this.

Everyday I am amazed at these women.  I hope that I some of their strength will rub off on me, but in the mean time I will think of this quote that one of my new activist momma friends shared with me: Speak the truth even if your voice shakes. That I can do.  I'm not sure I'm ready for a bike lock though.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bananas Don’t Belong in Hair

Just because it’s on Pinterest does not mean it’s a good idea.  Like putting food in your hair.  That’s a terrible fucking idea.  Let me explain how I know this.

I've been feeling like my hair has been less than lustrous.  I called for a hair appointment, but could not get in until Friday.  I remembered that I saw something on Pinterest about hair masks using items found in your kitchen.  The avocado mask was supposed to be good for normal hair so I went with that one.  That is until I cut into the one avocado I had and found it was rotten.  I did not let one rotten avocado deter me though.  Oh no.  I was putting food in my hair.

I kept scrolling and found one for dry hair involving banana and honey.  Jackpot!  I mashed up some banana with honey and rubbed it all in my hair.  The directions said to cover with a shower cap and let it sit for 15 minutes.  I came out of the bathroom wearing workout clothes and a shower cap.  My son gave me a funny look but I think he has grown used to his mother being weird so he didn't say anything.

Fifteen minutes later I stepped in the shower and saw my plan fall apart.  There is not enough shampoo in the world to wash out that kind of sticky goop.  The directions had said to comb your hair in the shower, but really…who follows directions?  I have fingers and they will work just fine thank you very much.  Except they didn’t.  After a couple of rinse, lather, repeats I gave up and went for the conditioner.  Maybe conditioner would break up the banana-honey concoction gumming up my hair.  Nope.  Sure didn't.

Finally, I decided I had had enough and I really had to get to the grocery store.  Maybe some argan oil would help this disaster I created?  It didn't   And here’s the thing, when they said that if you don’t comb your hair out you may have banana chunks in your hair, they weren't kidding.  What they didn't warn me about is what happens when you apply a straight iron to said banana chunks.  I will tell you that now.  It smokes.  It smokes and it smells like Elvis is fixing his signature sandwich on your scalp.

I really had to get to the grocery store and my plan was now reduced to just hang out in the produce section next to the bananas so the smell of my hair blends in.  So if you do see me hanging out in the produce section, come by and say hi.  I've got some lovely samples of toasted banana with honey for you to try.  I hope you don’t mind a little hair in your food.

Things you should not put in your hair.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Photo Friday: The Mother's Day one where Ann needs a hairbrush

My hair almost always ends up looking like this when we go on at trip (this installment of vacation hair was at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul). I hope my daughter has lots of vacation hair in her future.
I wanted to write something about Mother's Day but find myself not quite able to pull it together - sort of like my hair. For some of us, it's a day with a tinge of loss or longing or weirdness. For others, it's joyful. So I thought I'd put together a few interesting things I've read this week.

1. Anne Lamott's Facebook page pointed me toward this story she wrote about why she doesn't like Mother's Day/ I love this part: "The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat."

2. My friend and colleague Nancy wrote this about the five things moms want most for Mother's Day. (I did tell her that it's obvious that her boys aren't babies, since she didn't mention sleep even once - come to think of it, I don't think there's any kind of mention of bodily fluids in there, either.) My favorite part is her mom's "Nancy Compliments" folder.

3. Baby Sideburns shared this, which is a wish list very much geared toward those with little kids (sleep, bodily fluids, profanity).

4. My friend Austina pointed me to this blog post, titled "An open letter to pastors: A non-mom speaks about Mother's Day." Lovely thoughts.

5. This has remarkably little (er, OK, nothing) to do with Mother's Day, but I went a whole week thinking that there was no hairdryer where we were staying on our Istanbul trip. My husband found a hairdryer in a drawer right before we left.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dining With Toddlers

This post is for anyone that has ever considered taking their toddler out to dinner.  Here’s some advice.  Do not take your toddler out to dinner.  Do not go out to dinner with other people with toddlers.  Do not make eye-contact with toddlers in the restaurant.  Let me walk you through what happens if you decide to follow through with such a foolish plan.

Your child, who may have been calm on the way to the restaurant, will suddenly decide when pulling into the parking lot that it is time lose their damn mind.  The parking lot is a cue to party like it’s 8:30pm on a Friday night.  Cue the yelling, cue the running through the parking lot, cue attempts to remove clothing.  Because every toddler knows that shoes and socks make for a less pleasant dining experience.

When it is time to order you will not make the right choice.  Trust me on this.  Order one meal for your two children because they never finish one?  They will act like they’re starving and make you look like a horrible parent trying to save a buck.  Order two meals because last time they acted like they were starving and made you look like a cheapskate?  They will decide to go on hunger strike.  Your toddler will decide her rice looks better on her chair and on the floor.

Side note--your toddler at this point may act like she has had a change of heart and will offer to help clean up.  Do not let your toddler help you clean up.  Their idea of helping is to nearly knock down a piece of pottery and then exclaim “tada!” like you should be impressed that they didn’t knock down something large and breakable.

You will then try cute attempts to get your toddler to eat.  Things like “can you make that quesadilla go in your belly?”  You will then spend the next 5 minutes removing quesadilla parts from your toddler’s belly button.

You may think that I’m over-reacting when I say you should just wait until your kids are 18 to take them out to dinner.  Maybe you’re right.  But if you’re wrong and decide to try it anyway, have fun removing your meal of choice from your toddler’s belly button.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Not Cool Dora

Kenzie, are you in here AAAAHHHHH!

Damn Dora, you scared the shit out of me!  Seriously, what the f$%&?  No, hi?  Not even a hola? Really Dora, it's creepy.  When someone walks in room you should really announce yourself.
You're really not going to say anything?  Really.  You're just going to sit in the corner being creepy?
Are you mad or something? Oh, I get it.  Is this because I wouldn't go to the Nighttime Forest with you?  Look.  I'm sorry, but your friends are assholes.  Last time your friends came over Swiper stole a $20 out of my purse and Boots took a dump on the carpet.  I just don't want to be around that kind of nonsense.
Listen, if you're just going to sit in the corner of my daughter's room and give me the cold shoulder you're going to have to find a new place to live.  I think you need to "ask the map" to find you a new place to crash.  You're giving me the creeps. And by the way,'s 2013...people ask their iPhones for directions.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How I Became a Dance Mom For Just a Moment

My son is painfully shy when it comes to crowds.  So when he came home with a note saying, “your child has volunteered for a speaking part in our End-of-Year program” I was pretty sure they had him confused with a different kid.  My child does not simply volunteer for speaking parts.

He did indeed confirm that this was true so we started working on his one line.  After one practice session he got frustrated and wanted to quit.  After much encouragement, a lot of practice, and maybe a bribe or two he decided he would stick with it.  The morning of the big performance he was cool as a refrigerated cucumber.  (Because I’m pretty sure a cucumber is not inherently more cool than any other vegetable and a cucumber left out on the counter would lead to the saying “room temperature like a cucumber.”)

“Make sure you say your line loud enough so everyone can hear you.”
“I will,” he said nonchalantly “I’m just saying it quiet right now because I just woke up.  When I’m more awake I’ll say it louder.”
Ok, Robert Deniro.

By the time he was at the front of his class getting ready to perform all his swagger was gone though.  They had four songs to sing before they got to their play.  Hudson stood mute and still through the entire first song.  I tried standing at the back and doing the motions for “Five Little Monkeys” with him to encourage him to participate.  He looked at me and shook his head.  I chicken danced during the chicken dance.  He looked at me and shook his head.  By the time, we got to “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” I was in full dance mom mode.  He shook his head and then started rubbing his eyes, fighting back the tears.  I’m telling myself it was nerves and not the fact that he was mortified that his mom had just zip-a-dee-doo-dahed herself through an entire number right there in front of all his friends.

This was one of my more painful mom moments.  It took everything inside me not to go up to the front of that class and load him in the car and take him home.  But I know that this is a battle that he is going to have to face sooner or later.  So he stayed and I watched, trying not to cry myself.  I held my breath as it came to his turn.

“He walked up and down the streets….holding himself very straight…so as not to upset his caps.  As he went along….he called…” came his little voice with only minor assistance from his teacher.

I asked him afterwards if he had been nervous.  This was met with just a nod of the head.  So I am one proud momma today.  In exchange for Hudson’s bravery I will promise never to dance in front of his classmates again.

My son is the one not participating in Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Photo Friday: Take it outside

Guest Post from Ann

Yeah, I've talked about lighting for outdoor photos here and here. This time I'm going to talk about a few other things related to taking photos of kids outside.

1. A solid-colored blanket for your kiddo to sit on is a good idea because nature is made of ants and dirt and brambles and such. (Busy blankets might start to be a distraction.)

2. Sunscreen is a must-have, especially if your babe is rockin' the bald look.

3. Pulling out bubbles at the end of a photo shoot can often add a few precious minutes to your shooting time. Plus, bubbles are awesome.

4. If you have time, take it. That gives your kid time to forget about the camera and relax and hopefully have some fun.

5. Take photos of your kid playing. There's something magical about the way they get lost in the moment. Then put your camera down and join in.