Tuesday, January 29, 2013

my winter micro-photowalk

I'm dying to go on a full-on snow photowalk. We got another few inches of snow the other day, enough to give everything a fresh new layer of pure whiteness.  While driving Donovan to school and back today I kept marveling at the cute little New England homes on those country roads and how incredibly adorable and stunning they look covered in snow with their brightly colored window shutters and front doors, and the tall evergreens lining the road with their snow-covered branches, and then there's the Tuck campus, and I just want to spend a day (or several) walking around with my camera in hand capturing it all. Unfortunately, that's a bit tough to do with a toddler on my hands... so today I managed to do the next best thing. Once Quinn was down for a nap I spent about 5 minutes quickly snapping a few photos of things right outside our house. Hopefully I can figure out a way to do more one of these weekends, but for now this will do.
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

my self-indulgent journaling

Catching up on my #create2013 lists & prompts (fell behind during the week) 
As a little splurge on myself as the new year approached, I signed up for Karen Walrond's create.2013 online class. Part of me feels silly admitting it because it feels so... self-indulgent? But then again, that's kinda the point. I spend so much of my time and energy every day on this family of mine, on my husband (and his career/aspirations) and on my children, and while I love my roles as Wife and Mother I also know I want/need to eek out a little indulging of myself every now and then, separate from them.

So, I signed up for this class, excited but also a bit skeptical of if I'd even find time to do it justice. The class is four weeks long and is described as "a guided journaling course to help you reflect on the previous year, as well as review every success of your life, to help guide you to your best intentions for the new year." Initially I didn't think much of the journaling part, or that I'd keep it up beyond the course itself, but was mostly interested in getting a little push and inspiration in framing my goals and intentions for the year ahead.  Now, three weeks in, I'm finding I might be into this journaling thing after all.  Or, again, really.

I used to keep handwritten journals, back in middle and high school and continuing off-and-on through college.  I found my box of old journals this summer when we were getting ready to move-- reading through them was quite a trip (though I have to say I was kinda disappointed in myself, about 95% of what I wrote about for all those years was whatever guy I had a crush on or was dating.  Seriously, Teenage Me? Nothing else was worthy of writing down?).  I ended up shredding most of them because they were so embarrassingly worthless, but I did keep a few that are stashed in my closet (including the ones from when I met Zach and we started dating).  Maybe it sounds weird, but even if I'm not terribly proud of most of the content I'm still glad that I wrote those journals.  I really enjoyed the habit at the time.

When I started blogging back in 2004 it was partially because I missed keeping a journal but had lost the drive to write by hand. I thought maybe the new online format would provide the necessary motivation... and it did. I've been blogging (mostly consistently) for almost 9 years now.  It's turned into a great record of our lives-- Zach and I each go back every once in a while and read through old posts and smile at the memories of so many things we'd otherwise have long forgotten.  This little blog of mine also connected me to some pretty amazing fellow expats when we lived abroad, many of whom I'm still friends with, and also provided me with an essential outlet and means of support in my early days (and months and years) of parenting.

But...I do kinda miss writing by hand. And I miss writing without reservation. I've noticed I'm not quite as open here as I used to be, and feel a little more awkward or self-conscious about what to write and how, and whether any of it is even worth sharing, etc. For the class we've been writing two "morning pages" every day, where you're supposed to just write stream-of-consciousness for 2 pages, and then keep our journals around for recording whatever other thoughts, lists, etc may come up over the course of the day (more on that here). It's nice, because it takes the pressure off and gets you started just writing shit down. A lot of it is mundane, some of it delves a bit more deeply, and over time it all kinda becomes meaningful. So I'm hoping to keep it up.  And, I'm hoping that writing out my jumbled thoughts off-line might help me better sort and frame those thoughts for posting here. This'll be (one of?) my fun experiment(s) of 2013.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

When life hands you below-zero weather, make frozen globes?

A while ago there was a photo floating around on Facebook showing how you can fill balloons with water and some food coloring and freeze them to make these cool ice globes.  It has been COLD here the past week (cold enough that just now, after getting the kids to bed, I remembered that I hadn't checked the mail yet so I looked up the current temperature outside and honestly thought to myself, "Oh it's 10 degrees? That's not that bad, I can run out real quick..."  THAT is how cold it's been) so I mentioned this little frozen balloon project to Donovan who got super excited about it, and we've been experimenting with it for a bit.

Our first balloons were pretty tiny, so lately we've been playing around with filling them a little more. D adds a couple drops of food coloring in first, then we attach the balloon to the faucet and fill it up.  And then, we put it out on our porch overnight. By morning it is completely frozen, so we'll take off the balloon part and they really do look like this cool massive frozen marble. I've tried to get D to want to leave them outside in the snow as decoration (and see how long they last), but he and Q like bringing them inside instead and watching them slowly melt in a pan on the table.
We made a green ice ball (with green food coloring + water in a balloon). Now the boys are watching it melt inside. We froze water in another balloon. D is loving this little project.
So that's our cool little cold-weather project. Now that that's done, I'm getting ready for it to start warming up again outside. That'll happen soon, right? Right?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ramblings and pictures of snowy things

I realized yesterday that I have spent most of January trying to fight off some illness or another. We haven't been hit by the dreaded flu (yet, KNOCK ON WOOD) but I can't seem to shake this oh-so-annoying cough that makes sleep a bit difficult (also, talking).  I've been consuming lots of tea and honey and cough drops to try to help things out.

In other news, the next couple weeks here are kind of the climax of Zach's internship search. He's been prepping for this since September, and now all of a sudden it all snowballs-- he has several initial interviews set up, and if those go well he'll have to fly out for on-location second interviews which usually happen as quickly as just days after the first interview, and then offers should come in pretty soon after that.  So we may know where he's headed for the summer pretty soon.  Which would be really, really nice for two reasons: 1) we can then plan out what the boys and I will be doing for the summer as well, and 2) once this is all settled then Zach doesn't have to spend time recruiting anymore and holy crap I may actually get to see/talk to my husband for longer than 5 minutes in a day!  That would be grand. Seriously, this process has taken up so much time over the past 5 months (and especially the past weeks as he's been trying to fit in as many practice case interviews as possible), and I'm ready for things to kinda settle down a bit.

I took some pictures the other day. Lots of cute ones of the kids, and a handful of pictures of snow on things, and then I played around a bit with the Split Toning module in Lightroom (results below). I'm making it a goal this year to expand my postprocessing skills. I have so much to learn still...just gotta try to find/make the time for it. Somehow.
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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

sunshine & snow

Three little dudes "mining" their hill of melting snow.
Monday afternoon was sunny and gloriously warm. Notice the lack of heavy snow jackets, hats, mittens, etc in the above picture?  The warmth and sun meant most of the snow melted away, but I was ok with that trade-off. D stayed home one last day from school to make sure he was finally really over the bad cold that plagued him all last week, so we had the whole afternoon free to frolick in the loveliness outside. The boys shoveled what was left of their snow hill with the neighbors for a while, then we met up with our local BFFs to ride bikes and found this great big puddle to ride through which was great fun (I'm a bit bummed I didn't get any pictures of it).  Then they realized their clothes were wet, and by then the wind was picking up and it was turning colder again so we went inside to change into dry clothes. Hey, it was nice while it lasted.
See, I told Zach we'd get more snow soon... (the driveway at D's school, don't worry I stopped to take this pic)
We woke up to a fresh blanket of snow this morning, and it kept snowing all through the day.  Only a handful of inches in total accumulation, but still-- I figured the snow wouldn't stay away for long. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

bright spots in a bleak week

I don't wanna bitch and complain too much (ahem, that's what twitter's for right?) but this past week has kicked.my.ass. I realize I'm lucky in that I made it this far into winter before getting sick, but yeah this week the boys and I have each cycled through a mad cold and this pink eye nonsense, and to top it all off Zach's hit the ground running with school and been super busy trying to practice and prepare for his upcoming interviews (for summer internship) so he's been pretty unavailable. There's nothing quite like trying to take care of sick kids while you're sick yourself.  So yeah, it's been kind of a miserable week.

BUT I said I'd try not to complain. So, let's focus on a few positives that happened instead:

1. My camera's back! I called Canon on Monday to check on the repair status and was told they were waiting for a part to be delivered before they could even start fixing it. So I was really confused when I got a box in the mail on Wednesday with my camera inside... confused, but excited.  Not that I've had much of a chance to do much with it (other than check to make sure everything works now), but it's still very, very nice to have it back home and working again.  I've really missed this baby.
SHE'S BAAAACK!! My baby's fixed and back home! I was totally confused when I got the box, too, since I called 2 days ago to check on the repair status and they said they were still waiting on parts to be delivered.

2. They've been doing work on some parts of the sidewalks in our neighborhood, so Q and I ventured out into the cold and got to watch two diggers at work one morning. It was pretty exciting. Q spent the rest of the day telling me exactly what kind of noises each of the diggers made.
We actually caught the diggers in action this morning. Exciting stuff.

3. I've been writing for the Tuck blog, and as a thank you for my contributions I was gifted a Tuck mug and some other small goodies.  I know it seems weird to get excited about a mug, but I've been wanting to get one of these for a while but couldn't quite justify it as we already have about 1,000 coffee mugs. So it was a nice little surprise. It's the small things, right?
Writing for the school blog does have a few small perks... (I've been wanting to get a Tuck mug so was actually pretty psyched to get this =P)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

capturing winter

A couple months ago I joined a local photography meetup.com group, with the goal of getting me back on track with shooting more often and more creatively.  I've done precisely nothing with the group since then. I like to think I've had decent excuses, like recovering from surgery and my "good" camera breaking on me and then being out of town for several weeks...but really I've just been lazy about it.  I'm trying to change that now.  My camera is still being repaired (or waiting for a part to be delivered so that then it can get fixed, last I heard) but I do have my phone which is a pretty mighty little photographic tool in its own way.

The upcoming photo challenge is to post up to 3 photographs that capture what Winter means to you, so I've been mulling over what those images might looks like. I'd mostly been thinking of positive things-- a steaming cup of tea, my favorite scarves, the boys playing in the snow... Then today I took this picture which I realized captures a lot of the less-great aspects of winter for me-- my raw, red knuckles from the cold and dry air; a cup of something warm to help soothe a sore throat; my college sweatshirt that seems to only make an appearance when I feel like crap.
Cracked and dry knuckles, coffee mug, my sick-day sweatshirt... Capturing some of the suckier parts of winter.
Q and I have managed to all but beat our red eyes, but now D's having his turn with it and we've all added coughs and sniffles to the mix. It was kind of a long day that included way too many replays of Mater's Tall Tales (the latest netflix favorite, thanks Criss for the tip).  But, we made it. And now I'm finishing another cup of chamomile with a healthy heaping of honey before I head off to bed and hope to wake up to a healthier household in the morning. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

home, sweet (cold, snowy) home

Playing in the snow today...this was a few minutes before Q faceplanted in the snow then started crying to go inside. He may not be as fond of snow as his brother...
For those of you who've been wondering, we finished up our time in Texas and did eventually make it back to the East Coast last week. It was a trip that should have taken 12 hours to complete and instead took 21 YES TWENTY-ONE whole hours because our connection from Newark got cancelled and we ended up driving the rest of the way. Note that the same thing happened this summer, when my parents flew here with the boys from Texas and got stuck in Baltimore.  This is not a good track record.

Our reward upon pulling into our neighborhood at 2am that chilly (ahem, it was below zero) Wednesday night, was looking out the window to see everything covered in a blanket of several inches of snow. And despite being so utterly tired and wanting nothing more than to get the kids to sleep and myself to my own bed before starting the day again in just a few too-short hours, I had to stop and admire the stunningly gorgeous view.

God, was it good to be home.

The kids felt it, too.  D was too far gone by the time we got in and all he wanted was to just lie down in his bed and go back to sleep. But Q perked up a little bit and smiled happily at realizing that we were finally back in his home in New Hampshire, which he'd been asking about for over a week, and even more excited to see our cats again.  And you should have seen the look on D's face when he woke up Thursday morning and saw the snow through the windows...

The days since then have both been really awesome and kinda crap.  Q hasn't been sleeping well which means I've been surviving on little sleep, the boys both have this horrible sounding cough, and yesterday Q and I came down with pink eye (thankfully we were able to get a hold of antibiotic eye ointment so we're both just about all better now, just waiting to see if D will get it next... but let me tell you how much fun it is to hold a 2 year old down to put gunk in his eye when he DOES NOT WANT IT).  But it's also been so, so nice to be back in our own space, and to have had four whole days of all of us at home and able to relax, settle in, and just be together for a bit.  It's been so great to hang out with our local friends again. And D has been so incredibly excited about the snow-- he and Zach went sledding 3 days in a row over the weekend, D just could not get enough (Q is not as big a fan yet, partially bc we've had trouble finding gloves that he likes enough to actually keep on his hands and so, you know, he ends up getting kinda cold).

Zach started the winter term today.  Everyone warned us about how hectic and intense and busy the fall semesters would be, but it looks like the month or 2 ahead will be just as bad if not worse-- still a decent course load, with the added stress and work of prepping for interviews for his summer internship (which may or may not lead to a permanent position beyond that).  That's part of what felt so great about those few days all together last week, they felt like the calm before the storm that is about to bear down furiously. It was nice while it lasted... Now we'll just see how the storm part goes.


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