Sunday, April 29, 2012

when photography and toddlers don't mix

A couple of weeks ago Zach and I walked over to a nearby park with the boys. I've been relying more and more on my phone for taking pictures, but this time I decided to dust off my dslr and bring it along. I've felt very stagnant with photography, and wanted to try to practice a few things-- like shooting in fully manual mode.  I normally use the aperture priority setting since it gives me a good balance of control over the settings I care most about, and automation so I can capture my fast-moving kids without having to constantly re-adjust everything.  But I do also want to get more comfortable with shooting manually for those times when it's needed.

I took lots of pictures of the kiddoes, of course.  Then I also took some time to shoot some of the flowers that have started blooming this spring. At one point I was on my elbows and knees in the grass trying to photograph the daisies, and all of a sudden Quinn tackled my head (jumping and climbing on Mama is so! much! fun!).  I wish I had a picture of that moment.
Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Incoming! (I kept a closer eye on him after that first tackle)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tuck Admitted Students Weekend

So Zach and I got back last night from visiting New Hampshire and attending Tuck's Admitted Students Weekend.  The trip was exhausting and pretty amazing.  The ASW was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, but we figured we'd make the most of the long flight and add a day or two to the trip to try to explore the area a little.  And, thankfully, my mom was able to fly here to watch the kiddoes while we were away (so very grateful for her flexible work schedule and cheap flight discoveries!).

We booked a direct flight from SFO to Boston, so on Tuesday afternoon I took the train towards the city to meet up with Zach which meant I could join him for his usual Tuesday night swing dance thing.  I think he was glad to finally get to introduce his friends there to his wife, and show that I really do exist. ; )  We spent the night in the city, then flew out Wednesday morning.  The flight was long, but even a long, cramped flight feels positively luxurious when you're used to flying with young kids.  We arrived in Boston around dinner time, and talked briefly about going into the city to see some sights... and in the end decided on eating at the hotel restaurant and watching Mad Men in our room afterwards.  Boring, I know, but again when you're a parent to young kids sometimes just doing nothing feels like a great vacation.  It was so nice for us to just get to spend quiet time together, not worrying about when Quinn would wake up or who would get up with them in the morning.

On Thursday we drove to Manchester, NH (about halfway between Boston & Hanover) for a work meeting Zach had set up, then Friday finished our drive in to Hanover to meet up with Terry and Kate (old friends from college, and our hosts for the weekend).

I'm so in love with this campus. #tuckasw 

The weather forecast all week long has predicted rain and cold for the weekend (oh, and apparently the last few years it's snowed on ASW). Thankfully, it turned out to be gorgeously sunny and warm all day Friday and most of Saturday, which allowed us to fully appreciate how beautiful the Dartmouth/Tuck campus is.  Over those two days we attended several talks and panel discussions, many geared towards the students but also several for "Tuck Partners" (aka TPs, aka spouses & significant others of the students).  While listening to the dean give his talk on Friday, about the program and the accomplishments of so many Tuck alumni, I felt a rush of pride for Zach, for getting into this prestigious school (at the same time, I honestly was not very surprised when he got accepted. Perhaps I'm biased, but I kinda think my husband is a badass).  We'd both heard a lot about how close-knit the Tuck community is, and after the past weekend I think I believe the hype.  The school itself is very small, I think 500 students in all, and Hanover in a tiny town (10,000 people).  It seems like a place where collaboration and cooperation are highly valued, and where faculty and staff are very accessible to the students and make them their top priority.  I also felt how inclusive the program and community are towards the partners and children of the students, something that I guess is pretty unique among MBA programs.

Everyone we met and talked to, both present and incoming students, were nice, open, and so very excited about being there.  I swear, I thought Longhorns had a lot of school spirit but I think the Tuckies might have them beat.  I've been feeling very nervous and apprehensive about this move and going back to school-- the cost, the hassle of moving, leaving our current support network, and hearing how busy Zach will be his first year could turn my stomach up in knots.  But this weekend helped solidify with me that this was the right decision, and that while it will probably be stressful and intense and very difficult at times, I think the next two years will also be pretty incredibly amazing.

Another thing I realized during ASW is how many opportunities we will have as a family, and how they will be unique to this particular period in time-- I doubt we will ever again live in New England (heh, I say that now, knowing that we can make our plans and then life decides to do what it wants with them so who knows).  So I want to sit down and make a Tuck To-Do list, like taking advantage of the (surprisingly many) many local activities for kids, and traveling (Boston, New York, and Montreal are all pretty darn close).  Also, TPs can audit almost any class not only at Tuck but all of Dartmouth, for free, something I will definitely be exploring once we've settled in a bit.

Suddenly it feels so close.  Depending on housing details (still trying to figure those out, I alternate between feeling extremely annoyed by this and a calm acceptance that things will work out-- thinking of how frustratingly long it took us to find out current home here in Sac, which turned out to be a much better fit than anything else we'd looked at before), we will be moving in just over 2 months.  I'm dreading the move itself, but am feeling more and more excited about being there.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

If eating dirt makes kids smart, this kid will be a GENIUS

This week two photo albums I'd ordered arrived in the mail- a Keepsy album of my favorite instagram shots from 2011, and Quinn's 365 photo book (of his first year). Flipping through Quinn's book brought up interesting emotions...or rather, really, a strange absence of emotion, like a detachment from the photos. Maybe it's partially because I spent so much time looking over those photographs when sorting them, editing them, and putting together the book. But part of it is I think (and I'm having a hard time thinking how to put this without sounding like a horrible mother) almost wanting to distance myself from what was a really rough time for all of us. I have zero nostalgia for Quinn's (or Donovan's) babyhood.  I enjoyed many parts of it, I have tons of pictures and posts about them, and I cherish all those dearly...but I do not long for those days. I feel like that almost makes me a freak among women, especially mothers, but I guess I lack that baby-lust gene or something. Even before I had kids it was never babies that made me long for motherhood, but toddlers. And as expected, I'm having so much more fun with Quinn now as a 16 month old than I did during his first year.

Not that it's easy, of course. Yesterday we went to a bbq at a friend's backyard. It's a great yard, big open space with plenty of room to run and play in. Donovan had a grand time pushing his fire truck around and "fixing" it when it "broke down." Quinn? He was drawn to the steep staircase, and the gardening tools that had been left out, and pretty much every other thing that we didn't want him getting into.

At one point he took a fork and was actually using it to grab chunks of dirt from a flowerbed and eat them. I don't mind him eating dirt, really, but this flowerbed had probably been recently fertilized with who-knows-what, so.

So yeah, he's still often incredibly exhausting. But he's also incredibly adorable and irresistible. I love how he's learning new words pretty much every day, and how he plays with Donovan and imitates everything he does, and even better how Donovan will share back with him and help him (at least some of the time). I spent a lot of the first year after his birth strongly reconsidering my decision to stay at home, wondering why I was still doing it when I hardly enjoyed it anyway.  Lately I've been remembering why I still want this job, why I do want to be around day in and day out to watch him learn and develop as a toddler.  He may be infuriating at times, but holy cow is he also just FUN.
Untitled Untitled Untitled

(I miss writing posts like this one, where I start writing without having a clear idea of what exactly I'll write, and the post goes in a direction I hadn't expected at all. I read something today that reminded me of how I used to write almost all my posts like this, then lately I've started feeling more pressure to write more "polished" and "coherent" posts, for whatever reason, which inevitably leads to less writing in general.  And I don't really like that.  So, here's to more random musings and whatnot. )

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Empowering Portraits by Jessica Brogan

You know those people who are so talented and creative, not just in one area but multiple ones, that you kinda wanna hate them except they're such a great person that you can't help but love them?  My friend Jessica is like that.  She's a brilliant photographer, writer, crafter, and is now also exploring the world of paint.

One of her latest endeavors is Empowering Portraits.  Several months ago she sent me my own painted portrait.  When I opened it I was completely blown away-- it is probably the most amazing thing anyone has ever made for me. The painting and colors alone are beautiful, but also the highlighted words and phrases and to see my best qualities through someone else's eyes... that's a pretty incredible thing.

2012.02.01-262 2012.02.01-222 2012.02.01-232 2012.02.01-242

These Empowering Portraits are meant to be a way to celebrate those amazing women in your life. In Jessica's own words:
"I have many of these in my life: women I cherish whose “superpowers” amaze and influence me. Unfortunately, I witness that sometimes they are not aware of the amazing qualities that I see in them.... Well, no more. The time has come to own and celebrate your superpowers. To celebrate the women in your life with a gift that will help them learn to do the same, every time they smile at it."
My painting hangs above my bed.  I smile at it every time I see it, and the boys love looking at the painting, as well.  It's such a lovely reminder of someone thinking I am kind of amazing.  Part of me almost felt... arrogant? at first, displaying it, even just in my bedroom.  But I think this painting serves not only as a reminder to me that other people think I'm a pretty special person, but also as a model for my kids that I value myself, and that others do, too.  Something that I wonder if we mothers don't do/show/take pride in very often.

Interested in commissioning Jessica to make an Empowering Portrait for someone you know? Click here for more details on pricing and how to order.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...