Wednesday, February 27, 2013

masking tape roads

I suck at doing crafty projects with my kids.  We have some art supplies, which come out about once every month or two. I don't make them cute lunches in fun shapes. We didn't even make valentines for anyone. It's not that I don't think that stuff is neat/fun to do, I'm just not creative or organized enough to pull that sort of stuff off (and am in many ways very jealous of people who are/do).

But every once in a while I'll come across something so ridiculously simple that it enters my realm of abilities. One of them was the frozen water balloons we made last month. Another is this awesome idea I saw on pinterest or somewhere of using masking tape to make roads on the floor. We've used this trick a few times and currently have 2 different sets of roads taped down at our house, one upstairs and one downstairs. They're not very elaborate as a lot of our space is too narrow for more than just one straight road, but it's perfect for running their larger trucks back and forth. D's school closed today in anticipation of bad weather (which turned out to be a bit of a bust, it just rained/snowed off and on all day so was yucky but no big deal...and no real snow accumulation) and the masking tape roads bought us a couple good 20-30 minute chunks of entertainment.  A roll of masking tape seems a small price to pay...

Trying to distract from sibling fighting by making a masking tape road on the floor. Hooray for long hallways Masking tape parking lot

Looking at the original online picture again, next time I may try making them small roads and go over the furniture, too... I bet they'd get a kick out of that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

warming up (slowly)

It's almost March. The days are warming up (somewhat consistently in the 30's during the day now). I've even started hearing birds chirping outdoors. Could winter be near its end? Am I dooming us to another couple months of snow by asking that question? We're supposed to get more snow tomorrow, though since it's so warm (I can hear you guys in Texas and California reading this and laughing at me calling 35F "so warm") it'll be a wet, slushy snow like we got over the weekend. Maybe we'll finally make our very own snowman-- can you believe we haven't made a single one yet this winter? I know, for shame.

Q's been wanting to spend more time outside which is kinda nice, even if it is still a bit chilly. It's nice to get out of the house (and not feel like I'll freeze my face off for it). Q likes stomping on the snow, and taking walks in his push car (when it's not buried in snow). He asks me to push him along, then stop every few feet while he gets up, checks under the hood to find the same rubber duck hiding there (such a surprise, every single time) and occasionally seek a chunk of ice to put under the hood with it. And if he sees the neighbors playing outside, he'll want to go join them. He still hates putting on warm clothes-- today he wore a short-sleeve t-shirt to pick D up from school. I dunno, I guess as long as he's comfortable...? When he grows up he'll probably be that guy wearing shorts all through winter.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Adorable New Hampshire

Zach hasn't had Friday classes since October, but up until the past couple weeks he's still treated Friday as a work/school day, going down to campus from 8-5+ as usual.  Now that recruiting is done he has a bit more free time, and so has actually been HOME on Fridays. Which is kind of amazing. Last Friday he stayed home with Quinn while I took D to school, and on my way back I took my time meandering down the country roads and stopping here and there to snap a few pics. 

It was a bit more difficult than I had originally anticipated, as those roads are not wide and especially with the snow there isn't much of a shoulder on either side, so not a whole lot of places to pull off and park.  Also, I feel a bit creepy taking pictures of random people's houses. There was a LOT more I wanted to capture, but didn't get a chance to.... but here's a few pics that I did manage to take, and now you get to see the level of adorableness I drive by every day.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

today: crafting, cooking, and fighting over legos

D's school is out for winter break so he's home with Q and I all week. This is pretty much what it's been like around here:


HA! Just kidding. They were at each other's throats most of today so that was great fun.  Q is fully growing into his two-ness, which includes awesomely adorable stories and imaginative play and SO MUCH PERSONALITY, all of which goes hand-in-hand with very strong opinions and equally strong reactions to when those opinions differ from Mom's (or brother's). Overall they get along pretty well as siblings, but we've certainly had our fair share of yelling and tears. 

When not fighting, we spent a lot of our timer today doing rescue missions with D's lego monster trucks.  For the first few weeks after he got his lego sets I tried to keep Q away from them, then quickly realizing there was no way I was gonna win that battle. So now I'm just trying to limit the damage of how often pieces fall off and get lost (I think we've already lost a small flag and a teensy gear shift). We'll see how long it lasts before I give up on even that.

One of my goals for this year is to cook more and get a bit more comfortable in the kitchen. So I was pretty excited (and a little nervous) when my friend Jeremy offered to help teach me how to make a few things. We had our first "cooking lesson" today, making a red lentil soup which, as promised, was both really simple and tasty. D loved helping peel and cut carrots and onions, and was so excited to try the finished product...till it was actually done and decided he didn't really want to try it after all bc he didn't like how it looked (it's funny how much he reminds me of myself, I was the exact same way about food as a kid). What's that advice about how kids are more likely to eat foods they help prepare? Oh well, at least us grown-ups like it.

As a second fun new thing to try today, I went to the TP crafting meetup tonight where we attempted to make these. Mine turned out ok, it may be the sort of thing I keep in our room so I can look at the cute pictures of my kids but no one else has to see the crooked tape lines. But it was fun to try, and was my first experience using mod-podge. And, I got to break out my photo/paper trimmer which hasn't seen much use since I stopped scrapbooking years ago...

To finish off the night, I just completed 2 more months (July and August) on my much-neglected 2012  family photobook, so perhaps I'll get around to finishing this book sometime in the semi-near future after all. I'm a little frustrated with it because after starting I realized I don't like the new size format I chose, but it's too late to start over so I'm trying to push through and finish it and try for something different for the next one. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

snow photos from last weekend

Snow photography has been an interesting challenge. I both want to get out and capture it all, and feel a little unnerved by it because, well, it turns out camera sensors don't really like it when you try to take pictures of big expanses of bright white stuff (shocking, right?).  Definitely a learning experience. (go here to see the rest

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Friday, February 15, 2013

musings on photography and cameras

There are a few "i/phoneographers" whose work I really admire. One of them is Neil, who has an incredible eye for street photography and telling stories through images of complete strangers. Another is Rebecca, whose photos of her four kids routinely draw collective sighs and swoons all over Instagram (I dare anyone to look through their feeds and tell me cell phones can't produce beautiful, meaningful photographs). So when I saw that she'd published a photography how-to of sorts I sat up and took notice. And, as expected, it's one of the best general photography posts I've read in a while. If you're interested in that sorta thing, I do suggest sitting down with a cup of tea or coffee or whatever beverage of your choice and devoting a minute to reading it through.

When we bought our DSLR five whole years ago I felt like sort of a fraud spending so much money on this fancy camera because I wasn't a "photographer," I just liked taking pictures and wanted a better tool for capturing my soon-to-be first-born kiddo. Zach pushed me to actually learn what the little letters on the dials and buttons meant and how they worked together, and thus began a love affair that kinda took me by storm.

(No, I didn't mysteriously sprout another baby... this one belongs to a couple friends of ours)

And then about two years ago I got my iphone and fell down a whole new rabbit hole. The ease of taking, editing, and sharing pictures so easily from my phone was exactly what I needed at a time when I didn't have the time for anything else. I don't use my dslr nearly as much anymore, though I don't think I could ever ditch it completely-- the quality of images is too beautiful, I'm too addicted to it.  But, the simplicity and portability of my phone makes it so great for capturing everyday moments. It's also so much less obtrusive-- at D's birthday party I used my big camera (made positively monstrous by the external flash and zoom lens made necessary by the room/lighting/occasion), and I knew people were aware of me taking pictures which makes most people feel really awkward, which then makes me feel really awkward in return. A cell phone camera makes it so much easier to take pictures without being so obvious. I guess that's one of the criticisms people have against cell phone photography-- it's "too easy." Which, honestly, seems silly. If capturing/sharing/viewing photographs makes people happy, I have a hard time seeing how ease or expanding availability of it is a bad thing (said as someone who has reaped great enjoyment out of my easy digital photography).

Sleeping beauty

At this point I don't have a camera body or fancy lens that I'm lusting after, instead I keep eyeing the front & rear cameras on the iphone 5 (or rumored next model) and wondering when I can justify an upgrade. Yeah, I see my phone as camera gear... and one of my most prized possessions (for better or worse). I go back and forth on which one I see as my "main" camera, but I'm not sure they can really compete...they fill different niches/purposes in my photo-taking.

This morning Zach was telling me about a case they discussed in class about Kodak and how the photography industry has changed so dramatically in the past couple decades, which led to us talking about the shifting landscape of cameras today. I see people ditching point&shoots in favor of smartphone cameras or upgrading to DSLRs, others going to the new mirror-less interchangeable lens models, and others still who are going the other way and ditching their fancy DSLRs for the ease and portability of their phone cameras. It's fascinating to watch these different options emerge and evolve, and wonder what photography apparatus we will be using in the future.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

nemo aftermath

So, it snowed. In total I think we got about 12in here. Saturday morning Zach took D outside to play in the snow (Q had the good sense to not want ANYTHING to do with going outside). They were right in front of the house so I ran out to take a few quick pictures, and HOLY FREEZING COLD, BATMAN that did not last long. The wind was up and it was still snowing a bit, and it was just not pleasant at all (at least for me-- D didn't seem to mind).
And it's still snowing.... #snowpocalypse #nemo Snow snow snow snow Snow ninja truck driver

Later in the afternoon, I happened to notice that the sun was out and it looked like the wind had died down, so I managed to bundle up and get outside with just enough time to snap a few pics during the last 20- or so minutes of the "golden hour." Most of them are on my "big camera" but it might be a few days before I get around to sorting and uploading those, so for now here are a few from my phone. It was really, really pretty out.

Noticed the sun was out and managed a quick walk out before it set. Untitled Footsteps Shadows
(edited with a new-to-me app called Afterglow, and Instagram)

Friday, February 08, 2013

yearning for spring, happy for snow

Starting to really come down now. #snowpocalypse #nemo

Snowpocalypse/Blizzard Nemo is snowing down on us right now.  Ok, so here it's not supposed to be very bad, so far we've gotten a couple inches but may get up to 1-2ft by tomorrow. We'll see. I didn't expect to be cheering on snow-- just the other day I was looking out the windows at the bright sunlight and longing for warmer weather to match the sunshiny goodness, and the ability to take my kids outside to play at the playground or in the field or the woods or just someplace outside without needing multiple layers of warm clothing that they boys fight tooth and nail to put on to begin with.  

But, if it's going to be winter and be so cold it might as well be snowy, right?  The ground has been mostly bare, apart from random patches of snow here and there, for a couple weeks now.  There was a good bit of snow on the ground in January when we got back from Texas, but since then we've only had small dustings and then warm enough weather to melt it away. So bring it on, snow. I will say, I'm also glad this storm is hitting on a friday/saturday, I'm hoping to get out for some picture-takin' sometime before the weekend is over.

We had a small birthday party for D last week.  It almost didn't happen because I still felt kinda burned out after planning Q's party, but then I got over myself and listened to my almost-5-year-old who was begging to have an actual party where he could invite some of his school friends, etc. So we did, and it was a hit, and I'm glad we went for it and am also glad we have no more birthdays ahead until Zach's in June.

Other that that, we're just chuggin' along... Zach is a bit more free now that he's not recruiting.  School is still demanding, but he's come home before 5pm a few days in the past week or 2 so that's pretty nice. I will enjoy having him around more for a few months before he leaves for the summer.

Monday, February 04, 2013

summer plans

The Tuck full-time MBA is a two-year program. Between those academic years is one summer, during which students take a summer intern ship. This internship is important because for most students it is essentially an extended interview that is likely to lead to an offer for a full-time position upon graduation.  Much of your first year is spent trying to acquire a good internship in your desired field/company so that you can then be set for a job after school is done (and have a much less stressful second year). 

When Zach applied to business school, when we decided to attend a school on the East Coast knowing we wanted to then make it back West again, when we packed up and moved, this summer internship weighed on my mind but I willfully ignored it.  It was this abstract thing, and other more pressing matters required attention so I didn't think about it for a long time.  

It's not so abstract now. Zach has accepted an internship with a top-ranked management consulting firm in San Francisco.  I'm gonna take a minute to brag here, folks-- this was a very competitive internship opportunity, one that is highly sought-after, and he got it. I'm not surprised (I wasn't when he got into Tuck either- I know he's a talented badass), but I am damn proud of him for it. This is incredibly awesome and exciting news-- it was Zach's top choice and the firm he has consistently liked the most, and makes it more likely that we'll be able to make it back to the bay area after graduation. 

The down side? It means he goes to San Francisco for 10 weeks over the summer. It makes little sense for the boys and I to pack up and relocate to SF for the summer.  Finding temporary housing in the city for all 4 of us would be difficult and ridiculously expensive, we'd have to figure out what to do with the cats, etc.  Also, I would like to get to enjoy the summer here in New Hampshire-- we're here for such a short time and I doubt we'll ever live out here again, so want to take advantage while we're here. Not to mention that we've made friends here who I already know I will be heartbroken to say good-bye to when the time comes, and yes I'd like to spend an extra couple of months with them. 

Of course, that also means spending 2 months without Zach, with me as the solo parent alone with two young kids. Part of me thinks it'll be fine, we'll get through it and even manage to have some fun and whatever it'll be fine. And then there's that part of me that's screaming HOLY SHIT WOMAN WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SIGNING YOURSELF UP FOR. Now that the internship is set, we're focusing on how to get me some support so the boys and I survive the summer.  In the past week I've been finding out about more and more partners and their kids who will also stay behind, so there will be quite a little community of us.  We're recruiting family and friends to visit over the summer, and will also look into trying to hire some regular babysitting/nanny help. 

It will suck royally to be apart from Zach for so long, I know the boys and I will miss him terribly. And yeah, to be honest this whole thing kinda scares the shit out of me.  But I think we'll be ok.  If there's one thing the past few years have taught me it's that things can be incredibly difficult and yet there can still be so much awesome and good in the mix, and I have a feeling this summer will be more of all of that. 

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Five. Years. Old.


Is five a milestone birthday? It feels like one. Five years ago this little dude was born and completely turned our whole world upside down.  I'm not sure we ever managed to recover... I'm not entirely sure I want to. 

Happy birthday, Donovan! You big kid, you.

Music: Gracie by Ben Folds

(note: I've been having a harder time finding appropriate music for these birthday slideshows, so I'm going ahead and using this amazing song even if it is addressed to a different gender)


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