Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

My New Love: Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG macro

I've been fantasizing about owning a macro lens for quite a while.  I think I'm definitely drawn to close-up photography, and I've had quite the love affair with my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens over the past 2 years, but the 1.5ft minimum focusing distance has definitely been noticed at times.  For a long time I had the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens on my wishlist, as it seemed the most highly recommended.  I was even able to borrow one at one point to play with, which was much fun.  But with a $500 price tag, it was going to be tough to fit into the budget.  I also wondered about the 100mm focal length-- especially with my cropped-sensor camera, would that be too narrow for everyday (mostly indoor) use?  How often would I really swap out the lens for macro shooting?  I'm still a bit squeamish about switching lenses, paranoid about dirtying up my sensor too much.

Then someone on flickr pointed me to the Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG macro lens as a possible (cheaper) alternative.  Looking through sample pictures taken with it, and reading reviews, I was blown away by how consistently good they were (hard to find when researching photo equipment... or most anything, really).  One potential downside to choosing a 3rd party lens is that quality control is supposed to be looser, so you have a higher chance of getting a bad lens.  But, it seemed if you got a good one the quality was comparable to Canon's lens, and I had to admit I liked the idea of a 50mm focal length better (perhaps not as good for shooting insects close up, but I'm willing to sacrifice that for having an overall more versatile lens). And, it's almost half the price of the Canon lens.  I made a note to keep this lens in mind for whenever I might be seriously shopping.

Christmas came around, and my dad offered me a nice cash gift to help pay for a lens.  I decided to go for the Sigma.  I've had it for a few weeks now, and I have to say... love at first sight.

The photos are beautiful.  Sharp (and with delicious bokeh), gorgeous colors, at least to my eyes.  Photos tend to come out slightly brighter than with other lenses, and I'm not sure if that's just random or attributed to the lens itself.  The auto-focus is VERY fast.  I was surprised-- even without the limitor switch on it seems to focus almost instantly.  I've only had a handful of instances where it kept searching and couldn't find anything to focus on, and that tended to be when I was trying to focus on my all-black cat in lower light.  So that's been a very pleasant surprise.  I've been using manual focus for macro shots, and it's been surprisingly easy (especially since I discovered I could hold the shutter button halfway and then turn the focus ring so that the focus points in the viewfinder blink red when that part of the view comes into focus, providing me with nice feedback till I start to trust my eyes a bit more).

FYI- The picture of D sleeping was edited in Lightroom (colors), and I think I did some very light tweaking to the rose shot and the one of D sucking his thumb.  The others are SOOC.

This lens has not left my camera since I got it, and I fear my trusted and beloved "nifty fifty" will get much less use now.  Which makes me a little sad.  I would almost consider selling it, but it's such an inexpensive lens to buy new I doubt I could get much for it. And, I've also grown a bit of a sentimental attachment to it (silly, I know, but true) so don't think I'd be able to part with it anyway.  But that's been the one single potential down-side I've experienced so far with the Sigma lens.  I am a very happy camper.  =)

PS- Just so it's clear, I'm simply reviewing a lens I've come to love. I have not received any sort of compensation for writing this, nor do I expect to. Just sharing info.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


"It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it." He revved up his motorcycle and drove off into the sunset, leaving his love, and his life, behind. They both knew it was for the best.

I thought about titling this post "Going Rogue" as a joke, but I just couldn't quite go there. But, I digress...

Two things:
1) The quote above was left as a comment on this picture on my flickr page, and I thought it was so fitting as to need to be shared. Thanks, Criss!

2) I tinkered with the width settings on my template so that I can now post larger pictures.  Here's what a vertical picture can now look like:

What do y'all think? Good? Too much? Don't you just love the slide-induced static-hair? =P

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

rantings of a sleep deprived mom

He woke up at 4:30 again this morning. Two days in a row. And. he's been in a good mood each time, chattering away in his room instead of crying.  Which is usually a good thing... just not at 4:30am.

Two days in a row, which means yesterday wasn't a fluke.  Which means this might be a new norm. God help me.

I don't know what to do.  I'm so tired of making these decisions based on guesses, all of it trial and error, and having no clue if I'm actually doing the right thing or not.  I thought he maybe needed a later bedtime,m so we tried that. He still woke up early and seemed tired all day. So I moved it back to his original 7pm, and now he's waking up even earlier and still seems tired all day.

I feel like Blinkin from "Men in Tights."

"Blinkin, what are you doing up there?"
"I'm... guessing?  I guess no one's coming?"

I ordered that toddler alarm clock yesterday, which should be here in a couple days, and maybe that will help. Or maybe not. As long as he still wakes up at this godawful hour, even if he plays quietly in his room he's still gonna wake us up, since our bedroom are right next to each other and we have to keep the doors open to prevent either room from becoming an icicle overnight.

And the biggest problem is still that he's so friggin tired.  Maybe if he took a longer daytime nap it would help, but he refuses.

And so I feel like throwing up my hands because I really don't know what to do, and am so damn tired of this guessing game. Except I can't, b/c I'm still the mom and I'm still in charge.

At least I made it to bed at 8pm last night, since I was so exhausted from the day/night before.  And at least D didn't wake up any last night.  Guess I should try to focus on the silver linings.  Otherwise I'll just drive myself crazy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

oh, monday...

Zach has the Business Trip Day from Hell today. He left on a flight to Palm Springs at 6am, and will be returning tonight at approx midnight, after a 5 hour trip.  Yes, 5 hours to get from southern california to northern (who're we kidding? middle) california. It's all just... screwey.

A 6am flight meant he left the house at 5am to get to the airport (likes to live dangerously, that one... at least when not accompanied by his travel-anxious wife and child), which meant waking up around 4:30am.  Donovan was gracious enough to wake up *just before* Zach, you know, to help save us from having to rely on such silly things as alarm clocks.  I tried getting him to go back to sleep, to no avail, though it did mean I was lying in bed with D right as Zach had to leave and did not get to say good-bye. At least he's only gone till late tonight.  

At the leisurely hour of about 6am I finally let D out of his cage bedroom, where I took advantage of our ginormous computer screen by letting him watch Thomas and Mighty Machines videos on Netflix in one browser window while I checked email and facebook (and bought a toddler alarm clock, in the hopes of teaching D what is an appropriate hour to wake up) on another window right next to it.  Clearly, I have fallen off the "no-TV" wagon, but I try to still limit it to special circumstances.  Like when Mommy woke up waaaay too early and her brain is not functioning yet.  Which, wait, would be all the time. Hm.

We were out of milk this morning, too, so unless I wanted to steal the last few ounces from D's sippy cup in the fridge, I didn't have any for my cereal.  Or for making coffee.  

So finally around 7:30 or so I decide to get us dressed and head out to the store so we could get some food.  D was insisting on wanting to take his toy stroller for a walk outside, so I compromised with him and let him walk it to the car, where he instinctively walked it to the back of the car and waited for me to open the hatch door. Just like we always do with his real stroller.  We drove to Safeway, where I decided to take a gamble-- D was still talking about wanting to walk the stroller, and from the parking lot I figured it wasn't very crowded.  So I let him bring the stroller inside, I grabbed a hand basket for the groceries ( didn't need to get much more than a few essentials) and told him to stick close to me.  

To my surprise and delight, he did really well with this.  I think he was so happy and excited to get to a) walk on his own legs in the store and b) have something of his own to push, that he listened pretty well when I told him which way to go or asked him to stop.  He didn't even take many things off the shelves. And since the store was relatively empty, there weren't many other people for him to get in the way of.  So it was all going really well until we went to check out.  We're standing there in line, and the lady is checking all our things, and I reach into my bag to grab my wallet... surely I had my wallet, I'd made sure before we left that I had everything else ready... but... no... shit. I'd left my wallet back home.  

And of course, this was the time I'd decided to drive to the nicer Safeway further from my house, instead of the crappy, small one practically across the street.

And why did I choose to go to this other, farther Safeway? It's not like I needed the greater selection-- we only got a handful of items.  But this one has a Starbucks counter inside, and I wanted to treat myself to a cup of coffee.  

So the nice cash register lady (I suppose this is the other upside of this particular store, the staff seemed much nicer than at our usual one) held my things behind the register while I raced out to the car. D, of course, chose this very moment to switch his mood from "agreeable" to "ogre." As he made very clear, very loud requests to be taken OUT of his carseat, I drove home as quickly as I could (while still trying to be safe), parked, raced inside, grabbed my wallet, and drove back to the store.

Luckily it was still uncrowded, so going back through the line and paying for our groceries was quick. I then gave D a bag of his favorite Gerber Crack Yogurt Puffs to appease him long enough to order at the Starbucks counter.  

Because after all that, I was certainly going to get my damn coffee, dammit.

Friday, January 22, 2010

If at first you don't succeed... well, we'll try again later.

So after much thought, consideration, and some major jitters, I decided to try a little potty experiment with D this week (I've written a few posts before on D's experiences with the potty and thoughts on potty training/learning).  So, with D's second birthday fast approaching, I ordered some cotton training pants off Amazon, read up a little, and with a mix of excitement and pure fear decided to jump right in.

The plan: for several days prior, I offered D the chance to go sit on the potty at every diaper change.  He's sat on the potty off and on before, but I've never made it that constant of a thing.  He was pretty receptive each time, getting excited about sitting on the "big potty" (apparently the Baby Bjorn potty chair that he liked so much last summer is now totally old news).  Then, Thursday morning we got up and I showed him his new underpants and said we'd be using those today instead of diapers. He thought this was pretty nifty, and was eager to put them on.

Over the next 3 or 4 hours he went through two pairs of cotton underpants and sat on the potty with me several times, reading lots of books and using lots of toilet paper but not having anything really... happen.  Then he got up from the potty and I forget the exact words he used but basically very calmly and matter-of-factly asked for his diaper back.

He was done with this potty game.  And I really do think that's what it is to him right now-- a game. A fun thing. But he seemed to have little interest in actually going pee or poop in the potty, and didn't seem at all bothered by his underpants being wet after he peed in them.

And since I have no interest in making this a battle and know we still have plenty of time, I put him back in diapers and he was happy as a clam.

It really helped that the night before this I'd re-read an email from a friend telling me about when she potty trained her daughter, and how they tried one weekend, and it was miserable so gave up and went back to diapers, then several weeks later tried again and same thing... then the third time it just clicked and everything went so smoothly and easily.  That helped me be totally ok with saying, "Ok, this is not the right time. We'll try again a little later."

I still think I missed the boat when we had those pooping successes last year.  I figured it was so early, that it would keep happening, and it also was a busy summer, and so I didn't try to encourage potty use.  I think that might've been a window of opportunity that was open for a while and then closed, and I missed it.  But, it's not like that's the only one, and it's also not like I'm worrying or fretting about D using the potty. It will come, and I will try to the best of my ability to read D's cues and abide by his timetable and no one else's.  For now we'll keep the potties available for use if/when he wants, and maybe try going diaper-less again in a few weeks/months.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Because I know you're dying to see what a Fruity Cheerio looks like close-up

I don't know what it is, but I feel like my patience lately has been more lacking than normal.  This results in me getting upset with D more often, which then makes me feel bad, which then keeps me in a not-very-good mood and the cycle just keeps on goin'.  I'm trying to reverse it, but it's not easy... especially when D is moody and difficult himself.  For a week or 2 we tried to put D to bed later in hopes of shifting his sleep schedule to sleep in a bit longer in the morning.  This is an experiment we've tried before, and it usually fails miserably so not sure why we keep trying it.  Usually we give up after just a few days.  This time we stuck to it for a good week, but I swear I could see the sleep deprivation slowly mounting (and he wasn't waking any later in the morning) so we're back to 7pm now, and I've even considered making it even earlier temporarily to help him catch up on sleep.  (this is the part where I kinda throw my hands up in the air at the Toddler Gods in hopes of answers/guidance)

Last week sometime I bought Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Close-Up Photography, using a gift card I had to Borders.  I figured it would go well with the new lens.  I finally got around to start reading it on Sunday.  I like it so far, it's given me ideas for new perspectives to try and whatnot... though it might also prove to be quite the expensive book in the long-run since already I've just about doubled my photography-related wishlist thanks to all the neat gadgets he keeps talking about.  ; )

Today I was trying to figure out what to shoot for my 365 project when I remembered a tip from the book about how most photographers will use their macro lens, but not realize just how close they can get to the objects they're photographing.  So I took a bowl of D's Cheerios and my lens, manually focusing it at the closest it will go, and then just started moving into the bowl to see where it would come into focus.  This is what I got:
Luckily I had enough light to manage hand-holding (even with D coming over and trying to check out what I was doing), but I also probably do need to get myself a tripod... or at the very least a Gorillapod (see what I mean??).

I was gonna try to get some more, but I got sort of interrupted...

Zach left town this morning and doesn't get back till late tomorrow night... which means I should get my butt to bed sooner rather than later since you never know what tonight might be like, and I don't think either Nev or Sierra will be willing to get up with D in the morning like Zach usually does (you know, letting me sleep in till, say, 7am). Goodnight!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I think we forgot to include "Trouble" in her name

We have a small patio right outside our front door that's enclosed by a wooden fence.  It's a nice space, great for D to play in, and has been a nice place to let the cats out, too.  The fence is about 5ft high or so, and Sierra has never shown any indication of having any interest in trying to jump it.  She's really not much of a jumper, anyway.  She debates for about 10 minutes whether or not to jump onto something that's maybe 3ft high, prepping herself for the jump but then seeming to change her mind at the last minute, over and over, before finally maybe attempting the leap.  She's not the most adventurous cat.

In August we brought Nev home, and we've been allowing her out onto the patio as well but trying to watch her to see if she'd try to get out (other than patio outings, both cats are indoor-only cats and we intend to keep it that way-- Nev especially, since she was born into and raised in a foster home before being adopted so she has *no* experience outdoors and no learned survival behavior).  So far she's been too small to be able to jump that high... or was, until one morning when I had the front door open while D played outside, and then I looked out to see Nev walking along the top of the fence separating our patio from the neighbor's.  I walked over as quietly as I could so an not to startle her (and cause her to jump over), grabbed her, and brought her inside.

She is no longer allowed on the patio.

However, unlike Sierra who's always been super chill about the outdoors and enjoys it and all but has never seemed be upset by having to stay indoors, Nev has started darting for the door on a few occasions and so we really have to watch her. I even jave to close her up in another room when D wants to go out in the patio (unless I go with him and close the front door behind me, but it's nice to get to do things inside while he's happily playing, and we have big windows that look out so I can see what he's doing).  But even with all that, there's a pretty high chance she'll escape at some point or another.

Which brings us to problem #2-- Nev refuses to keep a collar on.

I don't know how she does it, but I've gotten her a handful of those break-away collars, and each time I put one on she manages to get it off within a few days.  I'll just look over and notice it's not on her anymore. Sometimes I find the collar, other times I can't.  I then found a regular cat collar with a buckle on it and tried that, but she managed to get *that* one off, too (the buckle was pretty loose and easy to maneuver, so she might've been able to undo it somehow... who knows).  Today I found dog collars that are the same size as cat ones, and this one has a plastic snap that's not meant to break away and is much harder to undo (even I had trouble with it) so we're trying that, and I'm making sure it's not loose, and we'll see how that goes.  She has a microchip and so if she gets out and someone finds her and knows enough to take her to a vet to get scanned they'll find our info, but I'll feel a LOT better about it all if she can manage to keep a collar with her Home Again tag on it.

We've gotten so spoiled with Sierra, she's never given us any sort of trouble (other than the occasional hairball).  So it's, uh, interesting to deal with a cat who's a bit more of a trouble-maker.  Nev actually reminds Zach and I a LOT of Charlie, a cat we had up till our move to Switzerland who was also a bit of a challenge (it was her recurring habit of peeing in our bed while we were still in it that got her kicked off to live with my in-laws in their backyard... where she eventually escaped and found a new home-- shhh don't burst my bubble).  So much so that we have often called Nev "Charlie" on several occasions.  As a kid we had a cat, Jinx, that we joked must've been a reincarnation of a previous cat, Ginger, we had had and had died shortly before we got Jinx, and I sometimes wonder if Nev might partially be Charlie, reincarnated.  If so, hopefully she's learned a lesson about not peeing on anyone's sleeping quarters.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Haiti

(Photos from edjane obama's flickr stream)

Yesterday Haiti was hit by a 7.0 earthquake.  The last report I read said there had been thirteen aftershocks since then (and possibly more since I read that), most of them at about a magnitude of 4-5.9.  Buildings are collapsing right and left, and estimates are as high as 100,000s dead so far.  Haiti is already one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, and a catastrophe like this would be a huge blow ANYWHERE but especially bad to a place that already has so few resources.

I've been keeping up with new updates via Twitter (it is in these moments that Twitter's ability to spread information fast and far truly shines), via @cnnbrk and also CNN's compiled list for Haiti (there is also now a list of reporters tweeting from Haiti) You can also keep an eye on the Red Cross's newsroom for their posted updates.

Mashable has put together a comprehensive list of top ways to donate, both online and via text message. Please go check it out. Right now the biggest need is for cash donations so organizations can get food, water, etc to people as quickly as possible.

The simplest way to give money quickly is to text "Haiti" to 90999, which automatically sends $10 to the Red Cross (the charge shows up on your cell phone bill, and 100% of the $10 charge goes directly to the Red Cross).  But if you have more time (and money) to give, do check out the Mashable list to find out where to donate.

Wordless Wednesday: enjoying my new macro lens


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

ramblings about sleep, and the myth of "sleeping through the night"

A few nights ago I was lying next to Donovan in his room in the dark at about 2am, waiting for him to fall back asleep (usually signaled by a change in his breathing.. and his hand finally falling away from being affixed to my face) when a thought occurred to me-- "I never thought I'd be here."  And by "here" I meant mother to a(n almost) two year old who still wakes up in the middle of the night half the time.

I think the number one piece of advice I would give to new parents is this: don't believe the bullshit that baby books tell you about sleep.  They lie.  They are evil.

Every book I read basically made it sound like if your baby wasn't sleeping 12 hour stretches by 6 months of age (or sooner), it was the parents' fault for allowing/instilling poor sleep habits.  Perhaps I was reading the wrong books, but they are among the most popular baby books out there (which worries and angers me now, looking back).

Sure, I remember other parents talking about how their own kids didn't consistently sleep through the night until ages 2 or 3 or even later.  But I honestly never thought that would be the case for us.  In my naiveté I assumed they must have "allowed" their children to continue sleeping "badly" and that we would do what we needed to help teach D to sleep better.

We did "sleep train" Donovan.  I don't regret it in the least, as it taught D how to fall asleep on his own (rather than requiring the hours and hours of daily jiggling and pacing- and often screaming, usually on his part- otherwise needed to get him to fall asleep).  This was crucial for my sanity, and has made the past year and a half much, much easier on all of us.  I'm not saying this to brag, and I realize a lot of people disagree very strongly with letting an infant "cry it out" and I respect that difference of opinion. But I also won't apologize or back down for one of the few instances in the past two years as a mother where I had to put myself first (and refuse to think of myself as a lesser mother because of it).

(Well that was an interesting tangent...)

Sooooo, D didn't need rocking and cajoling to fall asleep, but he still woke up at night off and on.  I thought we were on solid ground after his first birthday when he started sleeping 11 interrupted hours at night and kept it up for a few months, but somewhere along the way, thanks to colds and travel and nighttime temperature fluctuations (is he waking up from being too cold? Too hot?) and who knows what else, we're back in a cycle where he sleeps through the night (about 10hrs) maybe 50% of the time.  Interestingly, in the past month he has also started needing me to lay down next to him till he goes to sleep.  Not always, but a lot of the time.  I usually only have to stay in there for 10-20 minutes or so.  Not ideal, but I'm also not too sure what else to do about it.  I'm hoping it's a phase that he'll just outgrow in time (he's been very attached to me in general lately, and I'm sure they're related).

I sometimes get so frustrated when D keeps waking up at night, or wakes up at ungodly hours of the morning for days/weeks on end.  That one night a few days ago I was up with him for an hour, and then had to kick Zach out of bed to trade places with me because I was starting to get frustrated and even angry at the situation.  I sometimes wonder if we should try to do something to try to get him to sleep better, and what that even could be. The thing is, by now I kinda believe that sleep (like so many other things about children) is one of those things that we as parents just have very little control over.  I could agonize and go on forever about the things we did right or wrong or things we could have tried or might have interfered with his sleep in the past and what could have made it better... but really I don't think any of it would have made much of a difference.  I think some kids will naturally sleep well starting from just a few months old.  And others will not sleep well for years.  And while there may be things we as parents can do to help strengthen (or weaken) sleep habits, the reality is that the amount of real control we hold is, I think, pretty scant.  Which is scary. But also, kind of liberating in a way.

Just not necessarily at 2am...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

six word sunday: Everything old is made cool again.

six word sunday challenge 

This was a very exciting week-- not only did the new computer come, but also two very fun things purchased with christmas money arrived.  One of them is a Fuji Instax Mini Instant Camera which puts out business-card sized polaroid prints.  These are the first 3 shots I've taken.  I'm learning, clearly (I thought Sierra was gonna be dead-center in the middle pic, till I remembered the space difference between where the viewfinder and lens are), but it's exciting and kinda fun. =P

Thursday, January 07, 2010

It's here!!! And isn't it purty?

We were all set for Zach to go by the Apple store yesterday after work, but then during the day he checked the refurbished site one last time and found the *exact* same computer we were gonna buy listed for $250 less.  So we opted for that instead, which was a bummer since the original estimated delivery they gave us was Jan 16 or so.  Imagine our surprise and excitement when later that night we got a shipment notification and a new delivery date of TODAY!  And sure enough, it arrived.  And it is LOVELY.

I've been loading stuff onto our external HD today, and I think I'll be ready to then move everything over to the new mac starting tomorrow.  I'm a little nervous about getting the Lightroom catalog and photos set up correctly, since that could potentially be a huge pain, but I think it'll go ok.  We shall see!

When we first started looking I told Zach we should go for the smaller screen since 27" seemed a bit... monstrous.  Now I'm very, very glad we went ahead and got it.  This screen is just dreamy!  And it came with a wireless keyboard and the new (wireless) magic mouse, which might just be about the coolest thing I've ever seen.  I suppose I need to finish setting it up and getting used to it, but so far...  I think I'm in love.  =P

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

my apple-shaped silver lining

So about a week ago our laptop screen broke.  I will not go into details on how it happened, but I'll just say that it was neither Donovan nor I who did it so clearly that only leave leprechauns who snuck into the house in the middle of the night to bludgeon the screen with clovers.

Luckily, we were staying at my mom and step-dad's house at the time, and my step-dad happens to be a bit of a techno-geek and thus has tons of computer equipment lying around, so we were able to plug the laptop into a spare monitor and use it that way.  We even still brought the laptop to San Antonio with us, borrowing Andrew's flat-panel monitor for those few days (I think we were quite a sight checking in, carrying our few bags... and a computer monitor).

Now we are back home, and the laptop is temporarily hooked up to our TV.  Which sits on a desk in the office... the same desk that houses our 2 cat litter boxes. Which means that it's kinda stinky sitting here.  Zach is out at Fry's purchasing a wireless keyboard and mouse as I type this, so we can at least sit on the couch across the room instead.

We'd been planning on upgrading our computer soon anyway, but this little snafu kind of accelerated our timeline.  I think we'll still use this laptop some (Zach's talking about putting work stuff on it so he can use it at night instead of having to bring his work computer home), but the set-up is not optimal by any means.

So after some research and hemming and hawing and freaking out about money (mainly, Zach), I think we're gonna jump ship and go for an Apple computer.  My mom, two sisters, and brother recently all switched over and have loved their macbooks.  We'll be going for an iMac, which I think Zach will go pick up from the Apple store tomorrow (we called, they should have plenty in stock).  Zach is still a bit concerned about the cost, and the pain factor of switching to a new operating system and having to learn things over again, but I'm pretty excited. I'm hoping all the Apple hype isn't too overinflated-- I'm really looking forward to having a fast computer that doesn't crash or freeze, and that might last more than 2-3 years before needing an upgrade.  I'm also psyched since the desktop computer means I get a huge monitor (27") and plenty of power and space for working on pictures (1TB internal HD... I may even consider switching to RAW!).  Also, I'm pretty friggin excited about the magic mouse we'll get as part of the package... though I'll have to make sure to keep it out of D's reach lest it go missing.

So hopefully tomorrow I can blog from my pretty new computer, sans cat litter fumes.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

wishful thinking

I remember when my mom was leaving after spending 5 weeks helping us right after Donovan's birth.  As I said good-bye to her I suddenly felt this pang of sadness that took me by surprise.  Here was this woman, my mother, who had taken so much pleasure out of caring for her newborn grandbaby, and she was now going to be separated from him by an entire ocean due to our choice to live overseas at that point in time.  I felt sadness also for D's sake, for his missed opportunities to be closer to his other relations who already loved him so much even though they knew him only by pictures and some video then.

Tonight, as we prepare to leave back for California after spending two weeks surrounded by family, I am feeling that same sadness and it has completely taken me by surprise.  I look at how happy D makes his grandparents, and his aunts and uncles; how much he loves playing with them and the way his face brightens up when he sees them (and how he got so upset when my dad and sister left for Dallas this afternoon); how nice it is for Zach and I to get a break as our parents step in to help care for our kiddo, even little things like all the great toys they have stashed here for him (and his cousins) and wishing they got more use... and then I think about the reality of living so far away, of how big a pain it is to travel with D and how often do I really want to fly with him (and without Zach), how much harder the whole process will be when we have another child to deal with.  That as we leave now, I have no idea when our next trip back will be (perhaps summer...?).

In a way, it's silly.  My mom has already booked a visit to our place in February, and Zach's parents and my dad are both planning their own trips shortly thereafter.  What may happen over the next few years is maybe we depend on people coming to us more often and maybe we only come to Texas once or twice a year.  That's not a terrible life by any means-- many have it much worse than that, and D will get to see plenty of his grandparents, I'm sure.  But, gosh, wouldn't it be nice to live closer, even in the same town-- to allow D to bond with them that much better, to see them most weekends, to have easy and available baby-sitters, etc.

Alas, I don't think it is meant to be-- there are many reasons (both personal and professional) Zach was drawn away from here and out to California to begin with, and those reasons have not changed (as he pointed out to me earlier today, about 40 out of the 52 Sundays of the year we can wake up to gorgeous sun and comfortably walk to the nearby farmer's market wearing pants and short-sleeves-- hard to do that many other places).  And I do love our life in California, and love the kind of childhood D can have growing up there (for example, we'll be taking him to Yosemite for his first visit in a few months!).  Still, there are times when it just hurts to have to be so far away, and when I wish things could be different.

Friday, January 01, 2010

10 years

Last night I started seeing posts on Twitter looking back on the last 10 years, both as a country and personally.  It got me thinking about the past decade and just how long ago it started... and holy cow!  That was a LONG time ago, and there's a crapload of stuff that's happened.

Ten years ago I was in the midst of my second year of college.  In the next year or so Zach went to Australia for study abroad.  We then broke up, got back together, broke up, got back together, broke up, got back together, and finally then got engaged.  We graduated college, moved out to California, then got married.  There were trips to the mountains, the beach, Las Vegas, North Carolina, New York, and many, many trips to Texas.  We moved overseas to Switzerland.  We bought our digital SLR camera (which would seem like a minor thing except for how that camera has changed/taken over my life in a way that takes second place only to Donovan...and maybe the internet).  We had a baby.  And now we're back.

And when I think of all those things happening over a period of just 10 years, it's kinda scary.  I can't imagine what all will happen in the next ten.  I know I will turn 30.  I will hopefully have another child, or maybe even two (depending on how crazy I go between now and then).  We will hopefully, possibly, eventually buy a house, whether it be in California or elsewhere.  In ten years I will have an almost-teenager (now THAT is a scary thought).  I'm sure life will throw all sorts of fun surprises at us.  I just hope more of them are good ones than nasty ones.

Happy New Year, everybody! =)


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